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“And what is meant by intellectual honesty? Nothing but a 
refusal to allow other impulses, such as the love of gain, or of 
applause, or the desire to promote any other end which is not purely 
intellectual, to interfere with the operations of the intellect in ascer- 
taining and systematising facts. The decisive superiority of the 
Copernican theory over the Ptolemaic lies, not in its superior ease in 
working, but in its greater utility for purposes of system and prophecy. 
Without it there would have been no prospect of the great advances 
in astronomical theory which have since been made, or of our greatly 
increased accuracy in predicting astronomical phenomena. Results 
of this kind are not to be expected by a thinker who misrepresents his 

_ facts, or distorts his theory in the interests of any end which is not 
purely intellectual.” 
—Wittuiam Benert, The Ethical Aspects of Evolution, p. 68. 






(Late Fettow anD PRaELEcTOR oF Unty. Conn. Oxrorp; FELiow 
oF THE British AcAaDEMy; Docror oF THEoLoey, honoris causa, 



‘Theology Library 



4 = . : Ca | iforn ia : 

From the Library of 

FEB 8~ 1957 





Cuaptrer I.—PAUL 
P. 1. Pavcrry of tradition and lack of contemporary information 
about Jesus of Nazareth—p. 2. Paul’s Epistles contain the earliest 
mention of him—p. 3. Paul not interested in the historical Jesus, 
but only in the Jesus of his own ecstatic visions—p. 4. History of 
Paul—p. 6. He conceived of Christ as an ideal eternal being and 
Saviour of the world, and not of the Jews alone—p. 7. His conflict 
with the genuine Apostles of Jesus, who insisted on converts keeping 
the Law—p. 9. Paul silent about the moral teaching of Jesus—p. 11. 
The pact with James and John; Paul may preach to the Gentiles, if 
he will collect ample alms for the Church of Jerusalem—p. 19. 
In his visits to Jerusalem Panl avoided any general contact with the 
Church there—p. 15. Paul dogged in his missionary labours by 
Judaising emissaries—p. 16. Belief in the resurrection the only tenet 
he had in common with these opponents—p. 18. Paul’s visions the first 
stage in the deification of the Jewish Messiah. 

P, 20. The Fourth Gospel develops the Pauline view of Christ and 
elevates him into the Divine Logos—p. 21. Dependence on Mark of 
Matthew and Luke—p. 22. Plagiarism no reproach in ancient and 
medisval literature—p. 23. Modifications of Mark’s text made by 
Matthew and Luke—p. 24. The Non-Marcan source used by Matthew 
and Luke—p. 26. The First and Third Gospels compilations. 

Cuaprer III.—MARK 

P, 28. Chief episodes narrated by Mark—p. 32. His literary method 
—p. 33. He enables us to trace a development in the Messianic self- 
consciousness of Jesus; the esotericism ascribed to Jesus by 
Mark—p. 35. In Mark the disciples only gradually recognise Jesus to 
be the Messiah, and Jesus only gradually reveals himself as such, and 
that only to his intimates, and not to the Jews in general—p. 38. 
Peter’s recognition of Jesus as Messiah in the traditional Jewish 



sense—p. 39. Jesus’s figure of the Son of Man—p. 40. Philo’s 
presages of a peaceful but triumphant Messiah—p. 43. The belief in 
the Messiah’s return—p. 45. Why was Jesus sentenced to death ? 
—p. 46. J. Wellhausen’s appreciation of Mark. 

P, 51. Examples of double narratives in Mark: explanation of 
them—p. 57. Mark compiled his Gospel from pre-existing written 
sources, which sometimes coincided with the Non-Marcan source of 
Matthew and Luke. 


P. 60. Mark supplies these evangelists with their general outline 
and framework of Jesus’s history—p. 61. They correct Mark’s Greek 
and omit his Aramaic idioms—p. 62. They also obliterate human 
traits related by Mark of Jesus, such as Jesus’s rejection by his own 
fellow townsmen, his inability to cure unless the patients believed in 
him, his prohibition to others to call him good—p. 65. In all this the 
first and third evangelists anticipate the fourth—p. 66. Other 
examples of human traits of Jesus effaced in Matthew and Luke— 
p. 69. The accusations levelled against Jesus by the Scribes, that he 
had a devil; and, by his mother and brethren, that he was mad— 
p- 72. The pious frauds of the English Revised Version—p. 76. 
Matthew’s exaggerations of, and Luke’s improvements upon, Mark’s 
narrative prepare the way for the Fourth Gospel—p. 77. But the 
twenty-first chapter of the Fourth Gospel enshrines some early 
traditions—p. 80. Prophetic gnosis in Matthew. 

Cuarter VI.—LUKE 

P. 83. Luke freely adjusts Mark’s narratives to his own dramatic ideals 
—p. 86. He manufactures the seventy or seventy-two disciples out of 
a doublet in his sources—p. 90. Later Christian literature furnishes 
biographies of these disciples, who yet only existed in Luke’s fancy— 
p. 91. Examples of how Luke could invert and travesty his sources— 
p. 92. His account of the gift of speaking with tongues is proved from 
Paul’s letters to be false—p. 100. His account of the resurrection 
a bold manipulation of Mark’s text—p. 102. Harnack on Luke’s 
pretensions to be an accurate historian—p. 104, But Luke, according 
to ancient standards of literary propriety, had a right to use a stray 
document as he chose. 


P. 107. Of this source Matthew best preserves the language, and 
Luke the order and arrangement — p. 108. Professor Harnack’s 
reconstruction of it. 



P. 127. Reasons for regarding it as a very old source: it ignores 
the death and resurrection of Jesus—p. 131. Its horizon wholly 
Jewish and Galilean—p. 132. It contains features alien and abhorrent 
except to the most primitive age—p. 133, It ignores the.miracles of 
Jesus—p. 134. It takes a Jewish view of the Messiah—p. 135. It 
ignores church organisation—p. 136. Does it preserve the sayings of 
Jesus which, according to Papias, were collected by Matthew ?— 
p. 137. How far can the sayings preserved in this document be 
regarded as authentic ? 


P. 139. There is not enough material for writing a life of Jesus— 
p. 141. Luke’s statement that Jesus and John the Baptist were 
almost exactly contemporaries improbable—p. 142. Jesus’s activity 
as an exorcist illustrated by parallels from contemporary Jewish, 
pagan, and other sources—p. 148. The accusation that he was an 
agent of Beelzebub—p. 149. Their conviction that he was the promised 
Jewish Messiah was for his disciples the psychological basis of their 
visions of him after his death, and of their belief in his Second Advent. 


P. 152. Some of his precepts inapplicable to civil society—p. 153. 
Their seeming universality due, partly to the fact that in his age no 
Jewish State existed, and partly to his expectation of the immediate 
advent of the Kingdom of God—p. 154. Similar precepts addressed by 
Philo to Gentile proselytes cut off by their change of faith from family 
ties—p. 156. Wide adoption of the Jewish Sabbath—p. 158, Philo’s 
testimony to the trials of Jewish proselytes—p. 160. Jesus did not 
address his precepts to such proselytes, but everywhere assumes his 
hearers to be Jews and monotheists—p. 161. He looked forward, like 
Philo, to a speedy, but peaceful, emancipation of the Jews from the 
Roman yoke—p. 162. The lofty intransigence of his teaching. 


P. 164. The psychology of conversion—p. 166. The descent of the 
Spirit as a dove—p. 167. The Bath Kol—p. 168. The parallel of 
Hillel—Philo on the Bath Kol—p. 169. Parallel from the Testament 
of Levi—p. 171. The light on the waters of Jordan—p. 172. Idea of 
the baptismal re-birth of Jesus explains his title of “ the great fish ’””— 
p. 174. This idea was exploited by the Adoptionists—p. 175. The 
feast of the Epiphany or of the Baptism—p. 177. Why was the age of 
thirty chosen as that of Jesus at Baptism ?—Parallel of Zoroaster— 
p. 178. Pauline view that Jesus became Son of God through his 


resurrection, and not at Baptism—p. 180. The Ebionites insisted on 
the Baptism, but did not deify the Messiah—p. 181. Probability that 
the early Roman Church held Ebionite views—p. 181. Minucius Felix, 
Lactantius, and Aphraates. admit godhood of Jesus Christ in a 
catachrestic sense only. 


P. 186. Waning of the legend of the Virgin Birth—p. 187. Mark 
implicitly denied the Davidic origin of Jesus—p. 188. ‘Joseph begat 
Jesus’’—p. 190. The legend that Jesus was born at Bethlehem 
unknown to Mark and the author of the Fourth Gospel—p. 191. 
Criticism of Luke’s stories of the Birth—p. 193. The star of the Magi 
—p. 194. Parallels to Matthew’s Birth legend—p. 195. Virgin birth 
of Plato—p. 196. Virgin births among animals; Virgin birth of 
Julius Cesar, of Alexander, of Perseus—p. 198. Virgil’s fourth 
Eclogue—p. 199. Philo on virgin births—p. 200. Literary method of 
Luke in narrating the births of John and Jesus—p. 202. His text 
interpolated from the Protevangel—p. 204. The virgin mother in 
Revelation—p. 206. Mark’s Gospel and the Ebionite churches of 
Palestine denied the virgin birth of Jesus—p. 207. Judas Thomas, 
the twin brother of Jesus—p. 208. Aquila and Theodotion corrected 
virgin to maiden in their Greek versions of Isaiah, vii. 14—p. 210. 
The legend was due to the encratism of the early Churches—p. 211. 
And especially to the institution of spiritual marriage, evidenced by 
Paul’s letters—p. 215. Encratism of Revelation, of Acts of Paul and 
Thekla—p. 216. Due to the belief in the imminence of the Second 
Advent and end of this world—p. 217. Spiritual wives in the Pastor 
of Hermas, in Cyprian’s letters, in Gregory of Nyssa, in the Syriac 
and Celtic Churches—p. 219. Survival of the institution in the 
Middle Ages—p, 220. Harris and Oliphant—p. 222, Chivalry—p. 223. 
Muratori on spiritual wives—p. 224. The legend of the virgin due to 
encratite influence—p. 226. Docetic influences worked even toa denial 
that Jesus was ever born at all—p. 229. The dogma of the Immaculate 
Conception ; feasts of the Virgin—p. 230. Belief that the Virgin con- 
ceived through her ears—p. 232. Monophysite belief about Christ’s 
flesh ; the Pearl—p. 233. Meaning of Paul’s precept that women must 
veil their heads, 

P. 235. In folklore the name embodies the personality—p. 236. 
Names of power—p. 238. Ra’s secret name—p. 239. Use of Jesus’s 
name in exorcisms—p. 243. In consecrations—p. 245. Binding and 

loosing—p. 248. Magic use of keys—p, 249. The cursing of the fig- 
tree similar to Roman Fascinatio. 



P. 251, Paul’s account communicated to him in an ecstasy—p. 252. 
He invoked the analogy of Pagan and Jewish sacrifice—p. 253. His 
idealism dashed with fetishism—p. 255. Kinship and communion in 
food—p. 256. The meaning of the drinking of the blood of Christ— 
p. 258. Blood-brotherhoods—p. 259. Communion with devils and with 
Christ—p. 263. Were the bread and wine in Paul’s sacraments 
magical substitutes for Christ’s body and blood?—p. 265. Paul 
viewed the sacrament as a rehearsal of the sacrifice of Christ on the 
Cross—p. 266. Accretions of fetish belief round the sacrament— 
p. 267. The accounts of the last supper in First and Second Gospels 
influenced by Pauline Epistles—p. 268. That in Luke directly inter- 
polated therefrom. His original text was free from Pauline influence, 
and merely ascribed to Jesus a presage of the imminent Kingdom of 
God—p, 271. The Essene daily sacrament of bread and water and 
that of the Therapeute influenced Christian practice—p. 274. The 
cleansing of sin by blood, especially by human blood—p. 275. Wine as 
a substitute for blood—p. 277. Pagan analogies. 


P. 279. The Gospel stories of the trial of Jesus coloured by Christian 
hatred of the Jews—p. 280. Anxiety of the Church to exonerate Pilate 
—p. 281. This exemplified from Luke—p. 283. And from the pseudo- 
Petrine Gospel—p. 284. Pagan analogies to the darkness over all the 
earth—p. 286. Descents into Hell—p. 287. The rending of the veil of 
the Temple—p. 288. Psychological antecedents of the belief in the 
resurrection—p. 293. Resurrection after three days—p. 294. Jewish 
and Egyptian belief in a bodily resurrection—p. 296. The burial of 
Jesus—p. 298. The Gospel stories of the empty tomb invented to 
confute the Jews—p. 300. Reasons for fixing the resurrection on 
Sunday morning—p. 301. Matthew’s amplification of Mark’s tale— 
p. 304. The appearance on the mountain in Galilee—p. 308. Pseudo- 
Peter’s account of the resurrection probably conserves the lost ending 
of Mark’s Gospel—p. 312. Narrative of the Acts of Pilate. 

Cuaprrer XVI.—BAPTISM 

P. 313. Origin of Bishops—p. 314. The rite of name-giving on 
the eighth day from birth; the “churching” of the child on the 
fortieth day—p. 315. Tertullian’s condemnation of the baptising of 
children reflects the feeling of the entire early Church—p. 316. The 
rite of sealing with the Spirit survived as the Cathar consolamentum— 
p. 317. Survival of adult baptism in the Order of the Bath—p. 317. 
Catechumenate and adult baptism in the early Church described— 


p. 818. Origin of triple immersion—-p. 319. Use of living water— 
p. 320. Use of holy, water and salt; the belief that post- 
baptismal sin was inexpiable, being sin against the Holy Spirit, led 
men to defer baptism until moment of death—p. 321. Invention by 
Pope Calixtus of the rite of penitence—p. 322. Relative unimport- 
ance of priests in the early Church; communication of Spirit by 
imposition of hands, and analogies in Mithraism and in folklore— 
p. 324. Use of rings against demons—p. 325. Significance of baptism 
of Jesus obscured in the later Christology which grew up with infant 
baptism—>p. 327. Stress laid in early Church on continuity of baptism. 


P. 329. Charles Darwin on Jewish origin of Christianity—p. 330. 
Marcion’s attempt to deny that origin; he rejected, rather than 
allegorise, the Jewish Scriptures, and denied them to be inspired by 
the good God—p. 332. He ascribed the creation of the universe and of 
man to a Demiurge, whom he identified with the vindictive God of 
the Jews—p. 333. He denied that Jesus upheld the Jewish Law— 
p- 334. He was the spiritual father of the Western Manicheans— 
p. 336. Progressive revelation an implicit denial of the claims of 
Christianity to be the one true religion—p. 340. The conception of an 
omnipotent, but merciful, God contradicts all experience—p. 341. 
Paul’s comparison of the Creator to a potter—p. 342. The idea of a 
first cause criticised—p. 343. Matter and mind, subject and object. 


P. 347. J. H. Newman’s Development of Christian Doctrine—p. 348. 
Criticism of the New Testament a new science—p. 349. Comparison 
with the hagiological studies of the Bollandists—p, 350. The early 
Church and Jesus himself believed that the end of the world was 
close at hand—p. 352. Apostolic belief in the messiahship of Jesus 
conditioned the subsequent belief in his second coming—p. 354. The 
Church was .born of the waiting for a Second Advent which never 
occurred—p. 355. Growth of Christology in the first two centuries— 
p. 356, Criticism of the idea of a Chosen People—p. 357. Cosmogony 
of the Church wholly mythical and antiquated—p. 360, In Italy and 
Spain the ingrained fetishism of the poor a greater obstacle to 
intellectual emancipation than official Catholicism—p. 361. Timidity 
of Anglican divines. 


Or all the great figures which look down upon us across 
the gulf and void of time, Jesus of Nazareth is the most 
gracious and winning of aspect; and, although his memory 
was soon associated with that policy of craft and exclusive- 
ness, of cruelty and credulity, which in East and West 
styled itself orthodoxy, nevertheless his name has ever been 
for the poor and oppressed, for the despised and dis- 
inherited of the earth, a bond and symbol of union in peace 
and charity. It behoves us, then, more than ever in this 
age, when old faiths are loosening their hold on us, and 
new superstitions, like Spiritualism, Occultism,and Christian 
Science, threaten to imprison our minds afresh, to inquire 
carefully who Jesus of Nazareth was, what were his real aims 
and ideas, what the means at his command for realising them, 
how the great institutions connected with his name origin- 
ated and grew up. This I have tried to do in the follow- 
ing pages, in as simple and straightforward a manner as I 
could, without ambiguity, but also without sarcasm or 
mockery. For these qualities of style could only enlist me 
readers in circles where I would rather not find them, and 
“are in any case inappropriate in such a discussion. 

The orthodox reader will probably here exclaim: 
Then why choose such a title for your book? Can 
it do otherwise than wound and shock Christian sentiment ? 
I do not think it should do so, and can only entreat 
such readers to be patient and hear me out; especially if, 
like most Christians, they can allege no better reason for 
holding the faith they profess than they can for the colour 
of their hair being what it is. For it is undeniable that 



most people merely inherit their religious beliefs, accepting 
them without question, and never asking what was the 
previous history of these opinions before they floated into 
their minds; nor how they tally with the ascertained results 
of astronomy, geology, and zoology, of history, anthropology, 
and other new learning. 

I have, then, chosen the words “ myth” and “magic” 
because there is no other way of characterising certain 
beliefs and practices of the early Church which in this 
work I have chosen to describe; and they can only offend 
those who imagine that. Christianity is the one religion in 
the world entitled to respect, and that all other religions 
are systems of fraud and imbecility. JI hold, on the 
contrary, that every creed and rite, from which men have 
drawn comfort in their trials and strength to bear their 
sufferings, should be treated with respect. Let it be the 
faith of Mahomet or the following of Buddha, the spell of 
the Malay or the Consolamentum of the Cathars of Albi, we 
must not scoff at anything in which our fellow beings have 
found a refuge from elemental terrors, and a panacea— 
none the less real to them because to us imaginary—for 
the many pains and aches of the flesh. 

A myth is a religious narrative that purports to be histori- 
cally true, but is not; and magic may for our purpose be 
defined as any rite or religious operation which, in ignorance 
of true causes, seeks to realise ends, necessary or unnecessary 
to the well-being of society, by an appeal to occult or 
supernatural forces, no matter whether the latter be 
regarded as personal or not. 

Let me illustrate my meaning by examples. We all 
talk of the myth of Danae, and no one to-day believes that 
Danae really conceived Perseus in a shower of gold poured 
out by Zeus. I may go further, and say that no one believes 
nowadays that Danae and Perseus and Zeus were ever real 
personalities at all. In the same way, those who reject the 
story of the virgin birth of Christ, as devoid of historical 


‘substance, have every right to call it what it is—namely, a 
myth. If it be answered that the story of Christ’s birth is 
in the Bible, while that of Danae is not, I should answer 
that in modern Church Congresses clergymen constantly 
stand up and declare the contents of the first chapters of 
Genesis not only to be mythical, but to have been borrowed 
from older Assyrian myths. Yet Paul attached so much 
weight to the story of the Temptation and Fall of Adam 
and Eve as to make it the basis of his doctrine of Christ 
and of Christ’s redemption of ourrace. Here, then, is myth 
no less in the New than in the Old Testament; and I am 
‘by no means the first to find it therein. 

It will certainly be also argued that the evidence of the 
saints of the early Church ought to be accepted by us, 
because they derived their faith direct, or almost direct, from 
Jesus Christ. I should reply that, morally gifted as Jesus 
was above his contemporaries, he nevertheless shared with 
them the chief superstitions of his age. And I will add, 
what will be new to those who are not versed in the literature 
of the early Church, that the Christians of the first three or 
four centuries, though they renounced the religious uses 
and rites of the pagan societies among whom they were 
recruited, were far from renouncing pagan beliefs. They 
ceased to offer sacrifice to the old gods, but they continued 
to believe in them. They merely changed their names and 
titles, and called them wicked demons instead of gods. 
.They continued to believe that Zeus and Apollo, Mars and 
Venus, Mithras and Cybele, were supernatural beings, 
gifted with superhuman faculties and knowledge; and the 
main argument adduced by Christian homilists against 
sacrificing to the ancient gods was ever this, that they were 
hungry ghouls clamouring to be fed with the blood and reek 
of victims slain in their honour. Stop the sacrifices, they 
argued, and the demons that masquerade as gods will be 
starved out and reduced to weakness and impotence. 
Intellectually, then, conversion to Christianity counted for 


little, and involved but a slight advance; and yet we are 
asked to accept blindly “the faith delivered to the saints,” 
as if the latter were infallible authorities. The present 
Dean of Canterbury has gravely proposed that the English 
Church should retain or revive, as a norm for modern 
Anglican belief and usage, whatever was catholic or 
universally received during the first six centuries; as if, 
along with much else that is alien to modern thought and 
manners, that would not include the practice of sacrificing 
animal victims, for this continued for centuries in 
Christian shrines, and still flourishes in the churches of 
Syria and the Caucasus. 

I pass on to sacraments. I should be the last to deny 
that Christians derive from these a great deal of moral 
comfort and edification. None the less, when a priest 
undertakes by certain movements of his hauds, by use of 
certain invocations, of certain names and forms of words, 
which must on no account be varied, to impart to bread 
and wine, to water, oil, salt, bells, or what not, certain 
occult qualities and values, which they had not before and 
could not otherwise gain, he moves in the realm of pure 
magic. That such rites are attended with exhortations to 
repentance from sin and purification of the will and 
character is indeed fortunate, and a matter upon which we 
may well congratulate those who assist; but it does not 
alter the character of such ceremonies, and there is no use 
in not recognising that the atmosphere of a church— 
where animistic belief is allowed to colour and shape the 
rite of communion, where the women come fasting and the 
officiating clergy wear white gloves in handling the 
elements, where a bit of bread is carried about in procession 
and exposed or elevated for the adoration of the faithful—is 
an atmosphere which, if we encountered it among the 
medicine-men of the Congo, we should not scruple to say 
was impregnated with a belief in fetish and taboo. If, then, 
we are too frank and candid to uphold one set of weights and 


measures for our own religion, merely because it is ours, 
and another set for all other faiths, we must avoid circum- 
locutions, and boldly schedule the survivals or revivals 
which are to be witnessed in so many of our ritualistic 
churches, just where they really belong in the scheme of a 
comparative study of religions—namely, among fetish 
cults. Now the germs of such a sacramentalism are beyond 
doubt present in the New Testament, especially in Paul’s 

It will be urged against me that in this book I seldom 
give references in support of my statements. I have not 
done so because, in a work intended to be brief and 
popular, it was impossible. To have done so efficiently 
would have required a score of volumes of the same size. 
Behind my book, however, lie twenty years of close study 
of the Christian literature and rituals of the first five 
centuries; and I doubt if anyone who has pursued the 
same course of reading for an equal length of time, and 
with an open mind, will condemn many of my conclusions. 

Some of my readers may also find fault with me for not 
having discussed methodically and more at length the 
date and authorship of each Gospel. On the whole, the 
traditional dating seems to me the most satisfactory. 
Thus I should set the composition of Mark’s Gospel, as we 
have it, about a.v. 70, of Luke’s at any time between 80 
and 95, of Matthew’s about 100, of John’s about 110. I 
see little difficulty in supposing that the John Mark 
mentioned in Paul’s Epistles drew up some time after 
Peter’s death (as Ireneus affirms) the Gospel named after 
him; and I am inclined to think that Luke, the com- 
panion of Paul, really wrote the third Gospel and the Acts, 
though there is, of course, much to recommend the counter- 
hypothesis. The Gospel of Matthew is recognised even by 
conservative critics to be the work of an unknown writer ; 
and the old view that the Fourth Gospel was written by an 
apostle and eye-witness is quite exploded. 


How far back the Aramaic traditions exploited by Mark 
may go, we do not know. In estimating their age, 
however, we must bear in mind that it was not antiquarian 
or historical interest that led to their being collected and 
redacted. Had it been so, the world must have waited 
much longer; for few or none were interested to know 
about the brief ministry of a Messiah who was expected to 
come again, and that shortly. The eyes of believers were, 
up to the end of the first century, fixed on the future and 
not on the past; and the aim of the second evangelist was 
rather to prove, as against the Jews who denied it, that 
Jesus was Messiah and Son of God, than to set on record 
for posterity the facts of his earthly career. It is, therefore, 
merely incidentally that he supplies us with an outline of 
that career. Primarily his work was a party pamphlet. 
The sayings of Jesus must have been written. down at an 
earlier stage, because they were wanted as a manual of 
moral teaching. They were rules which every candidate 
for the kingdom of God, soon to be manifested, had to lay 
to heart and observe. I should not, therefore, be surprised 
to learn that the Aramaic text of these sayings was current 
within a short generation after the death of Jesus. 

Of the Epistles of Paul, very few are now disputed by 
competent critics. Iam disposed to accept as authentic 
all of them, not excepting the ones addressed to Timothy 
and Titus. For the latter form a group, of which it is 
difficult to accept one member and not the others. Now it 
is quite inconceivable that a forger of Pauline Epistles, 
wishing, if not to honour Paul, at least not to bring him 
into disrepute, would attribute to his pen the statements 
that we find in the Second Epistle to Timothy—namely, 
that all the believers in Asia had “turned away from” 
him, and that at the very first hearing of his appeal to the 
Cesar in Rome “no one took my part, but all forsook me.” 
“May it not be laid to their account!” he adds, showing 
how reprehensible he felt their desertion of him to be. A 


forger would not thus have gone out of his way to reveal 
to us that the entire Church of Rome belonged to the 
Judaising party of James and John, and that their hatred 
of the Apostle of the Gentiles continued to be so intense 
that they abandoned him in his hour of need. I believe 
no one would ever have disputed the authenticity of this 
letter if a pagan had written it instead of Paul. If, then, 
it is authentic, the other two must be accepted also. A 
tendency set in very early among Christian writers to glose 
over and obliterate all traces of the quarrel between Paul 
and the pillars of the Church, which in the Epistle to the 
Galatians, probably the earliest of the letters of Paul, is so 
vividly described. In the Acts of the Apostles this tendency 
is very clearly exhibited, and any forger of Pauline letters 
would have been dominated by it. The Epistle to the 
Hebrews has never been seriously attributed to Paul, but it 
is clearly anterior to a.p. 70, and Tertullian was probably 
right in attributing it to Barnabas. 

I have cited the Book of Revelation as a work of the last 
decade of the first century. This was the tradition of 
Ireneeus, and the fact that a rescript of Domitian of the 
year 93 is cited in it verbatim confirms that tradition. 
This, however, does not preclude us from seeing in it a 
working up of an earlier document of about the year 68 or 
69, to which date Renan assigned it. 

It remains to acknowledge my indebtedness to the three 
greatest Christian scholars of our age—the Abbé Loisy, 
Prof. Adolf Harnack, and J. Wellhausen. I have here and 
there cited them by name; but those who are acquainted 
with their works will recognise their influence in almost 
every page of my book. 

I fear most of my readers will find my first few chapters, 
in which I set forth the textual problem, stiff reading. If 
so, I need not be disappointed ; for in the field of criticism 
no results can be worth much which do not involve hard 
study. Nothing is so contemptible as the facile orthodoxy 


which would fain raise no questions, and the exponents 
of which are accustomed to plead that it is so much 
simpler to take every statement in the Bible at its face value. 

Such exhortations are in vain in the present day, when 
the dogmatic repose of earlier generations has been widely 
and ruthlessly disturbed. It cannot be restored. We must 
face the problems of our age, and adopt the solutions which 
an enlightened criticism provides. Those who decline to 
do so, and try to maintain in their minds what has aptly 
been called a water-tight compartment for their religious 
convictions, are in danger of ruining themselves as well 
as their fellows. For a man’s character is all of a piece, 
and we cannot burke awkward questions, thrust our heads 
into the sand, and practise sophistry and make-believe in 
so intimate a concern as religious belief, without sooner or 
later forfeiting all round those qualities of manliness, 
honesty, and painstaking thoroughness which alone can 
enable Englishmen in these days of keen competition to 
hold their own. 

FF, Ged, 
January 31st, 1909. 

Carter I. 

Tue late Master of Balliol, Benjamin Jowett, once 
wrote to a lady who sought his opinion, that the 
Gospels are fragments of unknown age, full of 
incredible things; and few will to-day maintain the 
narratives, which survived among the Christians, 
of the life of the founder, Jesus of Nazareth, to be as 
full, accurate, and authentic as the supposed import- 
ance of their subject-matter demands. Of Socrates, 
Plato, Aristotle, and many other teachers of antiquity, 
not to mention great military and political leaders, 
we can out of the records bequeathed to us construct 
lifelike pictures, can trace with certainty the gradual 
development of their minds and characters, and 
exhibit in detail their careers. Often we have their 
very letters and writings; and coins and sculptures 
preserve to us the lineaments of their countenances. 
Yet of Jesus, whose birth is supposed to have opened 
a new era, not only for this earth, but for the entire 
universe, we know all too little; and we have not 
enough material to write a life of him, in the sense in 
which we write lives of Julius Cesar, of Cicero, of 
Augustus, and of many others who were nearly his 

But the Gospels are not the earliest Christian 
documents which we possess ; for the earliest of them 
—that of Mark—is nearly a generation later than the 
Epistles of Paul, of which several were written within 

1 B 


a generation of Jesus’s death. And this is not all. 
Paul was in personal relations—often strained, it is 
true, yet none the less actual—with Peter and John, 
the immediate disciples of Jesus, and with James, 
his brother, and first president of the Church of 
Jerusalem. Anxious to ascertain the facts of Jesus’s 
life, it is to these Epistles that we naturally turn. 
We do so in vain! Paul had unique opportunities of 
informing himself about the earthly career of Jesus, 
of handing on this information to his converts; but 
of set purpose he declined to do anything of the sort. 
‘“* Hven though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet 
now we know him so no more,’’! he writes to his flock 
at Corinth—words which imply that he had probably 
seen Jesus, and, if not that much, that he anyhow 
was acquainted with the facts of his life through 
others who knew him personally. Yet he deprecates 
such knowledge. If he ever saw Jesus in the flesh, he 
would fain forget that he did so, and have others 
forget it also. He attaches no importance to the fact, 
nor desires others to do so. On one event alone in 
Jesus’s life he lays stress—namely, on his crucifixion. 
‘The Jews,” he writes to the same converts, ‘‘ ask for 
signs’’—that is to say, for miracles worked before 
their eyes; ‘‘ the Greeks seek after wisdom’’—that is 
to say, after a system of ethical philosophy and a 
rational synthesis of reality. Jesus the Messiah, or 
Christ, so he hints, could supply neither of these 
needs. ‘‘ We,” he continues, ‘‘ preach Christ crucified, 
unto Jews a stumbling-block, and unto Gentiles foolish- 
ness.’ 2 In the real Jesus, in the humble teacher of 
men, the healer of their souls and bodies, Paul was 

1 2 Cor. v. 16. 2 1 Cor. 1,, 23. 


not interested. And yet this enthusiast’s letters are 
not wholly barren, but reveal, though quite inciden- 
tally, the following facts about Jesus. We learn 
from them that he was born of woman—that is to say, 
like any other human being; that he was born of the 
seed of David, and was under the law—in other words, 
that he was an orthodox Jew; that he shared with us 
all the weakness and infirmities of the flesh; that he 
was obedient unto death, and died on the cross suffering 
as ordinary men suffer and die. 

But this earthly life of Jesus, beginning with birth 
and ending with crucifixion, was, according to Paul, a 
mere incident in a larger divine life and existence. 
And at this point it is important to notice that Paul 
was pre-eminently a man of visions and dreams, 
prizing what in moments of ecstasy he beheld more 
highly than waking realities. The crucified Jesus, 
who had been raised from the dead, not in the 
corruptible flesh, but with such a spiritual and in- 
corruptible body as, according to Paul, could alone 
inherit incorruption, had been seen after death by a 
multitude of his followers, and last of all had appeared 
and spoken to himself during his journey to Damascus. 
He even relates how, on this or perhaps some other 
occasion, he was caught up into the third heaven, 
whether in the body or out of the body he knew not.} 
Thus ‘‘ caught wp into paradise,’ he had “heard un- 
speakable words, which itis not lawful for aman to utter.” 
Lest he should be exalted overmuch by the exceeding 
greatness of these revelations, there had been given to 
him a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet 
him. Of this he had prayed to bedelivered; but the Lord 

1 2 Cor. xii, 1 foll. 

4 . PAUL 

had appeared to him and said, My grace is sufficient for 
thee.! The affliction in question was undoubtedly the 
epilepsy which often attends such temperaments. 

From such incidents as the above we can under- 
stand the character of Paul’s gospel. He was, like 
many a later saint, of a temperament naturally 
ecstatic, and perpetually saw Christ and conversed 
with him in visions; his words and actions, even his 
missionary movements, as he is careful to inform us, 
were inspired and directed not by reflection but “by 

What was the previous history of this enthusiast ? 
He was, so he tells us, a Jew of the Jews, and a 
Pharisee as well. As such he had, during his early 
manhood, sought to win the approval of a jealous God 
by meticulous observance of the taboos and prescrip- 
tions of the Mosaic law. At Tarsus, his native place, 
he learned to talk and write Greek, without, however, 
forfeiting his own Aramaic dialect, as did most of the 
Jews when once they were Grecised. In that part of 
Asia an enormous number of pagans, without adopting 
all the practices of Judaism, had yet assimilated 
Jewish monotheism, and his knowledge of this outer 
fringe of his religion taught Paul later on to remit for 
his converts the heavy yoke of the Jewish law. 

After the death of Jesus, Paul, ever-zealous, what- 
ever party he espoused, threw himself into the persecu- 
tion of the followers of the new Messiah; yet not for 
long. Struck with the fortitude with which his 
victims met their death, he began to entertain mis- 
givings of the righteousness of his cause. Christian 
Inquisitors have easily stifled such misgivings, if they 

1 2Cor. xii. 9. 


ever felt them. But Paul was cast in another mould; 
his scruples, once excited, gathered force in his 
sensitive conscience, and ripened at last into a vision 
of Jesus on the road to Damascus, when he heard the 
voice of the risen Messiah calling to him from heaven: 
“Saul, Saul, why kickest thou against the pricks 2”? The 
pricks were those of his own conscience. It is untrue 
to say that from this crisis Paul emerged a different 
man, inspired with new ideals. He had already 
formed or imbibed from others the ideal of a univer- 
salist Messiah, perhaps even of a suffering saviour of 
humanity. This scheme lay ready in his mind; and 
he fitted it, not without some violence, on to Jesus of 
Nazareth, whose own teaching and example had so 
strongly impressed his personal followers. Their faith 
in their master impressed Paul in turn, and led him, 
as it were, to appropriate Jesus nolens volens as his 
own, and to superimpose on him ail the transcendental 
réle and cosmic importance which in previous training 
he had learned to assign to the expected Messiah. 
Thus conversion signified for Paul not an acceptance 
of new principles, but only a new application of old ones. 

Let us illustrate this point. There is some uncer- 
tainty about the teaching of Jesus; but this much is 
clear, that he had no message except for hisowncountry- 
men, nor ever dreamed of any but Jews sharing in the 
heavenly kingdom whose near approach he proclaimed. 
He expressly forbad his disciples to missionise the 
heathen, or even the Samaritans, who yet in the 
Pentateuch reverenced the same sacred books as 
himself, and were in reality the most genuine Jews 
of that age. Paul, however, had, from early training, 
learned to conceive of the coming Messiah or Christ 
as a heavenly being, the power and wisdom of God, 

6- — PAUL 

second only to the divine father, an uncorrupted 
image of God, an ideal type of humanity, such as was 
Adam before he clutched at equality with God and fell. 
The immediate followers of Jesus entertained no such 
lofty conception of the Messiah. He was to them a 
man sent from God, who had met with a cruel fate, 
but was still alive and was to appear again within © 
their generation and restore the kingdom of David. 
But to Paul he was an ideal and eternal being, who 
had condescended to quit the right hand of God and 
to be found on earth in the likeness of sinful flesh, 
and, as the man Jesus, to die on the cross the death 
of a malefactor, in order that he might, as a perfect 
victim, conciliate the wrath of an angry God, and 
mediate the salvation, not of Jews alone, but of all 

Thus Paul’s Christ is an a priori construction of his 
own, owing to the historical man of Nazareth and to 
those who knew that man and cherished his memory 
little except the bare name of Jesus. Paul’s Jesus 
is an ideal superhuman Saviour, destined, from the 
beginning of the world, to play an ecumenie réle. 
Raised by the spirit of God from the dead, the saviour 
has left behind in the grave, together with the flesh 
now given over to corruption, all his Jewish exclusive- 
ness, all his human traits, even his sex.! ‘‘ Ye areall,” 
writes Paul to the Galatians, ‘‘ sons of God, through 
faith, in Christ Jesus....... There can be neither Jew nor 
Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be 
no male and female : for ye all are one in Christ Jesus.” 
From such a standpoint there could obviously be no 
reason why Gentiles converted to Messianic Judaism 

1 Gal. iii, 26 foll. 

PAUL ow 
should accept the Jewish law and undergo circum- 
cision, why they should keep sabbaths, or observe the 
many ritual taboos which hedged in the dinner- 
table of the Jews and prevented their eating in 
the company of Gentiles. It was just here 
that Paul could not fail to come into conflict 
with Peter and James and John, and other personal 
followers of Jesus. The latter had indeed known 
how to interpret in a rational manner the rule of 
the sabbath, but had never dreamed of repealing it, 
any more than of repudiating circumcision or the 
Jewish sacrificial system. His followers, accordingly, 
could but resent Paul’s denial that the law was 
binding for his converts, his allowing them to 
participate in the meals of Gentiles, his contempt for 
taboos in general. They denounced the short cut to 
salvation which he had invented for Gentiles, and 
insisted that there was no way into the impending 
messianic kingdom except through the very works 
and observance of the law which Paul reckoned un- 
necessary. The Messiah, they argued, was a Messiah 
of the Jews alone, not of the Gentiles, for whom the 
divine promises were never made, and between whom 
and Jehovah no covenant ever existed. Therefore 
a Gentile who desired to enter the kingdom must 
enter it through the narrow gate of Judaism. They 
asked what right had Paul to cloak his revolt against 
the law with the name of Jesus, who had, with his 
own lips, declared that he came not to abolish the law, 
but to fulfil it. By what right, they asked, did Paul 
attribute his own dreams and fancies to a Christ 
whom he had not known, and from whom he had 
never received any apostolic commission? They 
scoffed at his revelations, and, in the heat of the 


conflict, even went so far as to identify him with the 

The only answer Paul could make was to sneer at 
the exclusive pretensions of the twelve apostles, and 
to fall back on his own visions. He had, he argued, 
anyhow seen Christ—namely, the risen Christ—and 
had been commissioned by him to preach the gospel 
to the Gentiles. It was not Paul that spoke and 
acted, but the spirit of Christ dwelling within him, and 
constituting him its vehicle and mouthpiece. Here 
was @ quarrel too deep to be healed until the genera- 
tion of Palestinian Christians who had really known 
Jesus should pass away. For the present, thanks to 
Paul’s tact, a truce was patched up, by the terms of 
which his Gentile converts were to be recognised as 
brethren if they would eat none but kosha meat, 
and subscribe liberally for the sustenance of the 
brethren in Jerusalem, who seem to have been much 
impoverished either by persecution or by their attempts 
to live communistically, or by both. 

Only in Palestine could the Jews of that age practise 
the law with any strictness; in the Greek and Latin 
cities all round the Mediterranean they could not 
maintain it even among themselves, much less among 
their converts. Hence what has been termed Judaising 
Christianity—that is, the Christianity which insisted on 
circumcision, sabbaths, dietary taboos, and other rules 
of the Mosaic law—soon perished and was lost to view 
except within the narrow limits of Palestine. Even 
there it hardly survived the fall of Jerusalem in a.p. 70. 
The terms of the truce were thus to some extent 
imposed by hard facts on Peter and John and James. 

It has been necessary to dwell so long on an early 
quarrel which nearly strangled the new religion in its 


cradle, because Paul’s silence about the historic Jesus 
is otherwise unintelligible. He was well aware that 
the horizon of Jesus, like that of any other Galilean 
prophet of that age, was bounded by an exclusive 
regard for Judaism and Jewish nationality; that his 
sympathies had not overstepped these limits ; that he 
had forbidden to his disciples the paths of the Gentiles 
and the cities of Samaritans; and, knowing as much 
as he did, he could hardly do otherwise than disparage, 
both for himself and his flock, all knowledge of Christ 
“after the flesh.”” Instead of pondering the real facts 
of Jesus’s life and ministry, he fixes his own gaze and 
that of his converts on the pattern laid up in heaven. 
This is why we seek in vain in Paul’s letters for 
details of Jesus’s earthly career. It did not interest 
him; nay, more, it was an awkward and un- 
pleasant topic, which lay too near the accusations 
from which he had incessantly to defend himself. 
Quite incidentally, as we have seen, he records, or 
rather enables us to infer, a few general facts about 
the life of Jesus; but in general he abstains from 
mentioning it, and is absorbed in his own hallucina- 
tions and transcendental fancies—grandiose, it is true, 
but sorely baffling our modern curiosity. 

And it is not merely the outward events and 
vicissitudes of Jesus’s life, as even unsympathetic 
Jews must have witnessed them, that failed to touch 
and interest Paul; he is equally silent about the 
moral and religious teaching of the Master, and shows 
no acquaintance with the Sermon on the Mount or 
with the parables. And this is all the stranger 
because there are several fairly well-authenticated 
sayings of Jesus which would have stood him in good 
stead when he was combating the Judaising apostles. 

10 PAUL 

For example, on one occasion at Antioch, Paul found 
himself “resisting Peter to the face.”’ The latter had 
been sitting down at table with Gentile converts, 
regardless of Mosaic commensal taboos. Before long 
there arrived spies from Jerusalem sent by James, the 
brother of Jesus, ‘‘ false brethren ”’—so Paul calls them 
—“privily brought in to spy out our liberty which we 
have in Christ Jesus.” ‘And when they came,” 
continues Paul, ‘‘ Peter [or Cephas] drew back and 
separated himself, fearing them that were of the circewm- 
cision.” Here, if anywhere, one would expect Paul 
to appeal to the saying: ‘‘ Not that which entereth the 
mouth defileth the man ; but that which proceedeth out of 
the mouth, this defileth the man...... the things which 
proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart ; 
and they defile the man. For outof the heart come forth 
evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, 
false witness, railings ; these are the things which defile 
the man; but to eat with wnwashen hands defileth not 
the man.” 

Yet, often as Paul recurs in his Epistles to this 
question of food taboos, he never alleges in defence of 
the freedom which he claimed in Christ the actual 
teaching of the latter. The nearest approach is in 
the Letter to the Romans, xiv. 14: ‘‘I know and am 
persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean of 
itself.’ But no one familiar with the Pauline style 
will interpret this as an appeal to special precepts 
uttered by Jesus and transmitted to Paul by those 
who listened thereto. On the contrary, in the 
particular context (Galatians ii.) where he relates 
this quarrel with Peter and James, he is careful to 
emphasise the complete independence of his gospel 
from theirs. His words are these: ‘‘ After the space 

PAUL 11 

of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem...... by 
revelation ; and I laid before them the gospel which I 
preach among the Gentiles....... But from those who were 
reputed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it maketh 
no matter to ine; God accepteth not man’s person_)—they, 
I say, who were of repute, imparted nothing to me....... 
And when they perceived the grace that was given unto 
me, James and Cephas [i.e., Peter] and John, they who 
were reputed to be pillars, gave tome and Barnabas the - 
right hands of fellowship, that we should go unto the 
Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision; only they 
would that we should remember the poor; which very 
thing I was also zealous to do.” 

The situation is clear. The real companions of 
Jesus, James and Peter and John, obedient to their 
Master’s tradition, obstinately refuse themselves to 
preach the gospel to uncircumcised Gentiles. Paul 
insists on doing so, and alleges in justification his 
own special revelations of Jesus. They on their side 
consent to allowhim to go his way, and to disseminate 
outside the Jewish world the gospel which was his, 
yet not theirs nor their Master’s, on one condition, 
that he and his converts send plenty of money to 
support the saints of Jerusalem. The “pillars” of 
the Church there are clearly anxious to be rid of Paul, 
and with truly Jewish practicality they name their 
terms. They will leave him alone with his Gentiles, 
but he must not forget the backsheesh. Nor did 
Paul forget it, for in his second Letter to the 
Corinthians two entire chapters are given up to the 
topic. In these he employs every art of rhetoric, 
flattery, and edification, in order to induce his converts 
to subscribe, and that handsomely. His anxiety about 
the matter is ever undisguised, and we discern clearly 

12 PAUL 

that in a heavy subsidy, oft repeated, lay his only 
hope of being able to keep on any sort of terms with 
the saints of Jerusalem. 

Paul elaborated his gospel in the silence and solitude 
of Arabia. He declined from the very first moment 
of his conversion to resort to the brethren of Jerusalem 
and Galilee, in order to learn from their lips what had 
been their Master’s life and teaching. Thus he writes 
to the Galatians (i.11): ‘‘ For I make known to 
you, brethren, as touching the gospel which has been 
preached by me, that it is not after man.” 

This means that he had no human teacher, nor 
depended on any humanly transmitted reports of who 
Jesus was and what he taught. So he continues: 
“For neither did I recewe it from man, nor was I 
taught rt, except by way of revelation on the part of Jesus 

This indicates that Paul got his gospel through 
visions and private revelations of his own. It had 
nothing to do with what the companions and apostles 
of Jesus remembered of their Master’s life and con- 
versations. In the immediate sequel he reminds the 
Galatians of how he had begun life as an observing 
Jew, and of how he persecuted the Christians: ‘‘ For 
ye have heard of my manner of life in time past in the 
Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted 
the Church of God, and made havoc of it; and I 
advanced in the Jews’ religion beyond many of mine 
own age among my countrymen, being more exceedingly 
zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” 

And then once more he emphasises the fact that 
his teaching had nothing in common, no connection, 
with the teaching of the historical Jesus as reported 
by his direct disciples: ‘‘ But when it was the good 

PAUL 13 

pleasure of God, who separated me from my mother’s 
womb, and called me through his grace, to reveal his Son 
im me, that I should preach him among the Gentiles ; 
immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood ; neither 
went I up to Jerusalem to them which were Apostles 
before me ; but I went away into Arabia ; and again I 
returned unto Damascus.” 

The revelation, then, with which he was graced was 
this, that he was to go and preach the Son of God 
among the Gentiles—preach, that is to say, not the 
historical Jesus, but a priori messianic conceptions 
of his own. Had he gone up to Jerusalem and 
condescended to ascertain from the flesh and blood 
companions of Jesus what manner of man the latter 
had really been, and what he had taught, he would 
have learned at the outset that Jesus had reserved 
the messianic kingdom for conforming Jews alone, 
and peremptorily forbidden the inclusion of un- 
circumcised Gentiles, whose idolatry he never once 
denounced, simply because they and their affairs lay 
so entirely outside of and beyond his horizon. Paul 
was aware that his initial revelation conflicted with 
the traditions of the earthly Jesus, and for that reason 
avoided Jerusalem and the apostles that were before 
him. We need not regret that his innate idealism 
~ launched him in the way of the larger and more liberal 
teaching. He had a soul above taboos, and so really 
had Jesus, who, if he had been a Jew of the Dispersion, 
and his horizon not confined to Galilee, might equally 
have cast off the slough of Jewish ceremonialism, and 
have opened his messianic kingdom to all who had 
become monotheists. 

After three years thus given up to his own lucubra- 
tions, Paul did repair to Jerusalem in order to make 

14 PAUL 

the acquaintance of Cephas (Peter), with whom he 
stayed for the brief space of fifteen days. Paul was, 
on this occasion, in the midst of those who had 
followed Jesus, listened to his teaching, and received 
from him a commission to preach. Yet he makes no 
secret of how little he felt himself to be in sympathy 
with them. He tells us that he mixed with them, 
during that fortnight, as little as possible. ‘‘ But other 
of the apostles,’’! he writes, ‘‘ saw I none, but only James, 
the Lord’s brother.” Thus he avoided even the solemn 
meetings of the brethren for the breaking of bread and 
for the prayers (Acts li. 42). 

And lest such indifference should seem impossible 
to his converts, he adds: ‘‘ Now touching the things 
which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.” 
We see how morbidly afraid he was lest his converts 
in Galatia should suppose that he owed any part of 
his gospel to men of flesh and blood instead of to 
direct revelation. And he drives the point home by 
relating that at this time, three years after his con- 
version, he ‘‘ was still unknown by face [i.e., person- 
ally] unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ ; 
but they only heard say, He that once persecuted us now 
preacheth the faith of which he once made havoc; and 
they glorified God in me.” It is clear from the above 
that Paul rather shunned them than they him. What 
reason could he have for doing so except this, that he 
knew them to be out of sympathy with him on vital 
points ? 

Fourteen fresh years seem to have elapsed before 
Paul, according to the passage already quoted, again 
went up to Jerusalem, always “‘ by revelation”; and 

1 Gal. i. 19. 

PAUL 15 

in order ‘‘ to lay before”’ the leaders of the Jerusalem 
fellowship “the gospel which I preach among the 
Gentiles.” This gospel he had evolved out of his own 
inner consciousness, so we are not surprised to learn 
from the next verse that he only laid it ‘ privately 
before them who were of repute.” It was clearly so 
remote from the gospel with which the mass of believers 
were familiar in the very home and diocese of Christ 
himself that it was expedient not to communicate it 
to them. We infer that, if he had broached it to them, 
there would have been such a general outcry against 
him as would have deprived him of the “liberty in 
Jesus Christ” which he and his converts enjoyed; 
and he ‘‘ would be running’”’ in the future and ‘“‘ have 
run” in the past ‘‘in vain.” He relates with much 
complacency how, in the course of this second visit to 
Jerusalem, he found nothing to learn even from those 
““who were reputed to be pillars of the church.” They 
‘imparted nothing” to him. After so many years it 
was rather late to try. And how delightfully ironical 
is Paul at the expense of the older apostles and 
kinsmen of Jesus! ‘‘ Whatsoever,” he adds, ‘‘they were 
matters not to me ; God accepteth not man’s person.” 
But if Paul succeeded when in Jerusalem in with- 
holding the character of his gospel from the mass of 
the believers there, he could not prevent Palestinian 
missionaries from penetrating into Galatia and other 
districts which he claimed for his own, and there 
announcing another gospel, more authentic—let us 
not scruple to own it—than that which he had evolved 
out of his own ecstatic consciousness, though less 
attractive to Gentiles, who naturally preferred to 
believe that the Jesus in whose name Paul appealed 
to them was just a monotheistic teacher with a special 

16 PAUL 

message for Gentiles. We know exactly what was 
Paul’s attitude to-the more genuine exponents of 
Christian tradition. He has himself set it on record 
in the same Epistle to the Galatians, ch. i. 6 foll.: “TI 
marvel that ye are so quickly shifting from him [God 
or Paul] that called you, by the grace of Christ, unto a 
different gospel; which is not another, only there are 
some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of 
Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, should 
preach unto you any gospel contrary to that which we 
preached unto you, let him be anathema [i.e., cursed]. 
As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man 
preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye 
received [t.e., from Paul], let him be anathema.” 

From such words as these we can see how sure 
Paul felt of his own revelations, and how remote it 
was from his purpose to learn from those who had 
known Jesus personally. He had his own ideas of 
what part a Messiah must play in heaven and on earth, 
and he was not going to abandon them for anyone. 
Accordingly, he writes triumphantly of the results of 
his visit after fourteen years to Jerusalem as follows: 
“ Did we give way so as to submit [to the false brethren 
privily brought in, who came in privily to spy out our 
liberty]? No, not for one hour.” 

Was there, then, no common position and ground, 
nothing in which Paul could agree with the older 
disciples? There was indeed such a position; but, 
characteristically enough, it is no episode or fact 
belonging to the earthly life and career of Jesus, 
nothing the cognisance of which can be described as 
a knowledge of Christ after the flesh. He shared with 
them the belief that Jesus had been raised from the 
dead and promoted to a first throne in heaven, whence 

PAUL 17 

he would in a brief space return on the clouds of 
heaven to earth, to judge all men. 

In the first Letter to the Corinthians (ch. xv.) Paul 
enumerates the appearances of the risen Jesus thus: 
“Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel 
which I preached unto you, which also ye received. 
ee For I delivered unto you first of all that which 
also I received, how that Christ died for our sins 
according to the scriptures; and that he was buried ; 
and that he hath been raised on the third day according 
to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas ; 
then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five 
hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part 
remain until now, but some are fallen asleep ; then he 
appeared to James; then to all the apostles ; and last of all, 
as unto one born out of due time, he appeared to me also.” 

Such testimony as the above stands or falls with a 
number of other equally well authenticated ghost- 
stories. That the appearances recorded by Paul were 
subjective, in the sense that Jesus only appeared to 
those who already believed in him, is deciared to have 
been the case in the Acts of the Apostles. It is im- 
possible to collate apparitions, and we know not in 
what guise Jesus appeared to Paul, who had never 
enjoyed his personal acquaintance, and in whose case, 
therefore, were absent those psychological materials 
and conditions of an apparition which were amply 
present in the case of the others whom he enumerates. 
However, these considerations are alien to our present 
purpose, which is to point out how important a part 
these visions of Christ played in the development of 
Paul’s Christology. It was only too easy to clothe a 
phantasm with sublimestZattributes, to promote it to 

the dignity of Power and Wisdom of God. That the 

18 PAUL 

other apostles already believed at this stage that Jesus 
died for our sins’is not likely, for, in the earliest 
strata of evangelic tradition, we have no trace of 
such an idea. They may have believed Jesus to be 
the Messiah, who was to come again; but it would 
appear from a passage in Paul’s Epistle to the 
Romans (ii. 16) as if his future réle of judge of the 
quick and the dead was not yet fixed in their minds. 
However this may have been, the messianic réle was 
a purely human one, which Mohammed’s personal 
followers might equally have assigned to him. On 
the other hand, the celestial figure which Paul beheld 
in his dreams, and which spoke to him in the third 
heaven, was much more than a Messiah of the Jews. 
It is not too much to say that his apparitions formed 
the first step in the deification of Jesus, and that they 
are the basis and beginning of all the transcendental 
speculations about him which ultimately crystallised 
into the dogmas and creeds of the Church. 

One point more. Paul knew that Jesus died a Jew, 
sharing the ordinary prejudices of Jews, and excluding 
uncircumcised Gentiles from the blessings of that 
future kingdom which he went to prepare in 
heaven. He believed, however, that in being raised 
by the spirit from the dead he was, in some mysterious 
manner, promoted to be the saviour of all mankind, 

1 Rom, ii. 14-16: “For when Gentiles which have not a law do 
by nature the things of the law, these, having no law, are a law to 
themselves, in that they show the work of the law written in their 
hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts 
one with another accusing or else excusing them; in the day when 
God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus 
Christ.’’ We may infer that it was only according to Paul’s gospel 
that Jesus Christ was to act as judge of all men, Gentiles as well as 
Jews. Probably the point is that the genuine apostles regarded Jesus 
as the destined judge of Jews alone—an idea attested by Matt. xix. 28. 

PAUL 19 

and became a universalist teacher, bearer of a name 
of power before which all angels and demons, both in 
heaven and hell, must prostrate themselves. He died 
a human being, he was raised a divine life-giving and 
recreative spirit. The real disciples of Jesus enjoyed 
apparitions enough of him after death, but we do not 
hear that they invested the figure they saw with the 
majestic réle and cosmic attributes of the Pauline 
vision. Itis certain they did not, and could not do 
so; for they had known him in the flesh, and 
- were trammelled by what Paul stigmatised as carnal 
memories. Had Paul also so known him, his visions 
could not so lightly have soared into the empyrean. 
His Christ would have remained a mere human 
Messiah of the Jews. But in that case Christianity 
would have fallen stillborn on the world, and have 
vanished as it began—an obscure sect of messianically- 
minded Galileans. 

Cuapter JI. 

Tur New Testament of the Christians contains four 
Gospels, named respectively according to Matthew, 
Mark, Luke, and John,! of which the first three as 
much agree with one another in style and contents 
as they differ from the fourth. They are party 
documents, so far as their manifest aim is to show 
that Jesus was, what the majority of Jews denied him 
to be, the Messiah; nevertheless they are, on the 
whole, transparently sincere documents embodying 
naive traditions, mostly collected from the mouths of 
the people of the districts about which he had 
wandered and taught, of his wonder-workings, teaching, 
and death. The fourth Gospel, as we have remarked, 
contrasts with these three in style and attitude; it 
inverts the sequence of the chief events of Jesus’s 
ministry as narrated in them, transforms his teaching 
beyond all recognition, turns him into the Logos or 
Divine Reason, and in other respects shows itself to 
be a religious romance embodying speculations about 
him, later much than Paul, but of which Paul’s 
ecstatic thinking was the fons et origo. This fourth 
Gospel enshrines, no doubt, many noble thoughts, 
but is, on the whole, frigid, insincere, and full of 
exaggerations. We may safely neglect it in any 
attempt to get back to the earliest traditions of Jesus. 

1 Trefer to these in the sequel as Mt, Mc, Le, Jo. 



If the reader will take a red pencil and underline 
in the Gospels of Mt and Le all the phrases, 
sentences, and entire narratives which are in verbal 
agreement with Mc, he will find very little left of the 
latter which is not in them; so that, if we had not 
Mc’s gospel preserved to us, we could yet reconstruct 
nearly the whole of it out of the agreements of the 

other two. 

A single example will illustrate this. 


us take Mc ii. 18-17 and confront it with Mt ix. 
9-13 on one side and Le v. 27-82 on the other, 
italicising in them every word in which they agree 

with Mc :— 


27. And after this 
he went forth 

and he beheld a cus- 
toms officer, by name 
Leveis, sitting at the 
customs house, and 
said tohim, Follow me. 

28. And having left 
everything, he arose 
and followed him. 

29. And Leveis 
made a great enter- 
tainment for him in 
his house, And there 
was a crowd numerous 
of customs officers and 
others who were with 
them lying down to 

30. And the Phari- 
sees and their scribes 
grumbled unto his dis- 
ciples, saying, Where- 
fore with the customs 
officers and sinners do 
ye eat and drink ? 

31.And Jesus 
answered, and spake 


13. And he went 
forth again unto the 
sea, and all the people 
came to him, and he 
was teaching them. 

14. Andashe passed 
along he saw Leveis, 
the son of Alpheus, 
sitting at the custom- 
house, and says to 
him, Followme. And 
he arose and followed 

15. And it happens 
that he lies down to 
eat in his house, and 
numerous customs 
officers and _ sinners 
lay down with Jesus 
and with his disciples ; 
for they were numerous 
and were following 
him, (16) and scribes 
of the Pharisees. And, 
seeing that he ate with 
customs officers and 
sinners, they said to 
his disciples, that with 
the customs officers 
and sinners he does 
eat and drink, 


9. And Jesus, as he 
passed along thence, 

saw @ man sitting at 
the customs house, 
called Matthew, and 
says to him, 

Follow me. And he 
arose and followed 

10. And ithappened, 
as he was lying down 
to eat in the house, 
why lo, - nwmerous 
customs officers and 
sinners came and lay 
down to eat with Jesus 
and his disciples. 

11. And the Phari- 
sees seeing said to his 
disciples, Why with the 

customs officers and 
sinners eateth your 
teacher ? 


to them, They have 
not need that are 
healthy of a physician, 
but they that are 

32. I have not come 
to call the just, but 
sinners, to repentance. 

17. And Jesus, 
having heard, says to 
them, They have not 
need who are strong of 
a physician, but they 
that are badly. I came 
not to call the just, 
but sinners. 


12. But he, having 
heard, said, They have 
not need who are 
strong of a physician, 
but they who are badly. 

13. But go ye on 
your way and learn 
what this means ; I 

will have mercy and 
not sacrifice. For I 
came not to call the 
just, but sinners. 

The original texts here translated are, of course, 
Greek ; but the point to be apprehended can be made 
clear in a literal translation like the above. It is 
this, that Mt and Le have merely appropriated the 
narrative of Me, altering it and retouching it here 
and there, as they liked. And there is nothing in all 
these alterations to show that Mt knew of Le’s text, or 
vice versd. We infer that they worked independently 
of each other. 

In the present age there is a prejudice against an 
author who takes another’s book, copies it out, and 
publishes it as his own. We call him a plagiarist, 
and there is no reviewer but would ridicule him as a 
literary thief. But in earlier ages, when there was 
no printing-press, and authors did not expect to make 
money by their works, there was no such prejudice. 
A man wrote a book for a small circle of friends, 
perhaps even for his own private edification. It 
passed in hand-written copies from reader to reader, 
and anyone who thought he could improve on what 
thus fell into his hands, scrupled not to recast and 
even to re-write. Thus books were made out of books; 
and authors, if they did not appropriate the works of 
others entire, yet never hesitated to borrow incidents, 
episodes, descriptions of men’s appearance and 
character, and to weave these loans into their own 


works. Thus a medieval biographer, writing a life of 
Charlemagne, would copy out the picture of an ancient 
Cesar, drawn by Suetonius eight centuries before, and 
make it do duty for his hero, even as the later 
Ephesians, when they desired to honour the patriots 
of their age, would chisel the name of an ancient 
celebrity off his statue in the public square and replace 
it with the name of the more modern celebrity. 

We must not, then, condemn the authors of the first 
and third gospels for appropriating the text and matter 
of the second; for, in doing so, they merely followed 
the literary custom, as of their own, so of preceding 
and subsequent ages. It is more important to remark 
that, having before us in Mc the main authority used 
by the two later evangelists, we can judge of their 
literary methods and discern how they used their 
sources. By way of example, let us take the section 
of triple text, transcribed above, and verse by verse 
compare Mt and Le with Me, their common source. 
In verse 18 of Mc the itinerary of Jesus is given: he 
went forth unto the sea. The copyists skip this detail, 
as they do the point that the people were flocking to 
Jesus to hear his teaching. Le adopts the phrase 
that he went forth ; Mt the other, as he passed along. 

In verse 14 both omit the name of the officer’s 
father, Alpheus, and Mt substitutes Matthew for Leveis 
(or Levi). Le improves on his source by explaining 
that Leveis left everything, with proper apostolic 
renunciation of this world’s goods. It does not appear, 
however, that he gave up his house and cook. 

In verse 16, for Mc’s scribes of the Pharisees Le sub- 
stitutes Pharisees and their scribes, Mt the Pharisees 
simply, omitting scribes. In Le it is the disciples who 
are reproved in the second person plural for eating 


with publicans, etc. In Mc the complaint is addressed 
to the disciples that Jesus does so, and here Mt is 
faithful to Mc. Lastly, in v. 17, Mt introduces the 
saying But go ye, etc.,and Le makes the addition to 
repentance. On the whole, Mt and Le reproduce their 
source in this passage with a fair amount of fidelity ; 
but both omit touches of local colour, and neither 
scruples to amplify and add to the utterances of Jesus. 
Mt in particular changes the name Levi into Matthew. 

I would invite my readers to continue this line of 
research for themselves. It only needs a coloured 
pencil and a sixpenny text of the gospels. Let them 
also ask themselves what becomes of the dogma of the 
literal inspiration of the Scriptures, in view of the light 
which such research throws on the way in which at 
least two of our gospels were compiled. 

So far, then, we have established that Mt and Le 
had at least one source in common—namely, Mark. 
But if we take a blue pencil, and underline the matter 
that Le and Mt have in common, but which is not to 
be found in Me, we detect in them a second common 
source, which critics to-day distinguish as the non- 
Marcan document. Let us choose as an example the 
story of the temptation of Jesus after his baptism. 
Le and Mt relate the first part of this story in the 
words of Me, but then continue it from a non-Marcan 
document which told the story at somewhat greater 
length. This document is lost, but we can reconstruct 
it out of what Le and Mt jointly have preserved of it. 
In printing their texts let us distinguish by italics 
as before what they borrow from Mark, and by capital 
letters what they severally copied from the other or 
non-Marcan source, which to-day is lost to us, and 
only recognisable by a comparison of them. 



1. Then Jesus was 
LED up into the wilder- 
ness by the spirit, to 
be tempted BY THE 
DEVIL, (2) and haying 
fasted forty days and 
forty nights, after- 


12. And immedi- 
ately the spirit sends 
him forth into the 

13. And he was in 
the wilderness forty 
days being tempted by 
Satan, and he was 
with the wild beasts, 
and the angels minis- 
tered unto him. 



1. But Jzsvs full of 
a holy spirit returned 
from the Jordan, and 
was LED in the spirit 
in the wilderness, (2) 
forty days being 
tempted BY THE DEVIL; 
and he ate nothing in 
those days, and when 
they were completed 


3. And the tempter came up 
and SAID To HIM, Ir THov art Son 

4. But he ANSWERED AND said, 
SHALL MAN LIVE, but by every word 
issuing forth by mouth of God. 

5. Then the devil taketh um 
along into the holy city, anp stoop 
(6) AND says To HIM, Ir THOU ART 

7. Jesus said ro um, Again it 
tHE Lorp tHy Gop. (8) Again 
the devil taketh him along on to 
a mountain high exceedingly and 
THEM. (9) And he said to him, 
These things all will I ctvz thee, 
Ir tTHou witr fall down and 
worsHip ME, (10) Then saith to 
him Jesus, Begone, Satan! For 
THE DEviL letteth him go, and Lo, 
angels came up and ministered 
unto him. 



4, And Jesus MADE ANSWER to 

5. And having led him up he 
THE world in a moment of time. 

6. And the devil sam To HIM, 
TO THEE witt I ative all this 
for to me it hath been given over, 
and to whomever I will, I give it. 

7. Thou then, IF THOU WILT 
worsurp before mz, it shall all be 
thine. (8) And Jesus, answering, 
said To Him, Ir 18 wRITTEN, THOU 
(9) But he led um into Jerusalem 
pown hence. (10) For ir 1s 
to guard thee, (i1) and that on 
AGAINST A STONE. (12) And Jusus 
answering HIm sArp, It hath been 
Lorp tHy Gop. (13) And having 
completed every temptation, THE 
DEVIL quitted him for a season. 


Here we see that Mt and Le have copied out from 
a document, which is lost to us, a longer form of the 
story than Mc supplied them with. In this longer 
form of the legend Jesus is tempted by hunger, and 
there is a crescendo of temptations, more clearly 
brought out by Mt than by Le, who inverts the second 
and third. In Le verse 6 the words of them refer 
back to kingdoms, which he omits, substituting all this 
authority. Here again, then, Mt has best preserved 
the underlying source. Mt has a thought in his 
verse 4 which Le omits, and Le in his verse 6 is 
careful to inform us that all temporal power belongs 
to the devil. In Mt verse 8 the devil takes Jesus up 
into a mountain, and in verse 10 the words Begone 
Satan are peculiar to this evangelist. In verse 11 Mt 
brings the episode to an end in the same way as Mc, 
whereas Le sends the devil away for a time only, as if 
he was to come back again. 

When we have deducted from Mt and Le all the 
matter which they borrow in common from these two 
sources, there is left very little peculiar to the Gospel 
of either. They have, in fact, both compiled their 
Gospels, all except an insignificant portion, from two 
older Greek documents, of which the one remains to 
us and is called Mc’s gospel, while the other has 
perished. This second document contained the stories 
of the Baptism and Temptation, and some few other 
episodes ; but it mainly contained moral sayings and 
aphorisms. Out of it came the so-called Lord’s 
Prayer-and the Sermon on the Mount. Many of the 
aphorisms must have been loosely strung together in 
it, for Mt, as we shall see later on more in detail, 
often sets a saying in one context or background, Le 
in another. It is possible also that Mt included 


matter from this last source which Le left out, and 
vice versd, just as the one of them sometimes keeps 
from Me matter which the other omits. It is probable 
also that Le had a third source from which he took a 
few striking parables peculiar to himself. Why Le— 
who, at the beginning of his Gospel, assures us that 
*‘many had taken in hand to draw up a narrative” 
(of Christ’s ministry)—should have used just the two 
earlier documents used by the author of the first 
Gospel, we do not know. If we had not his assurance, 
we should naturally presume that only those two were 
in circulation in the districts or district in which they 

It follows that the first and third gospels are not 
original works, but mere compilations of earlier books ; 
and the compilers have certainly compressed or 
expanded one of their sources—viz., Mc—as they 
pleased, and, in not a few cases, have tried to improve 
upon it by omitting traits of simple humanity which 
still remain therein, but which offended a later 
generation as being out of keeping with the growing 
legend of the divinity of Jesus. The old traditional 
view that the Gospels are original documents, indepen- 
dently thrown off by their authors in the heat of 
inspiration, must be given up; nor isit any longer held 
even by divines accounted orthodox. 

Cuapter III. 

But, before noticing in detail the modifications of 
Mark’s narrative indulged in by the two other 
evangelists, it is well to examine a little more in 
detail this Gospel itself, the earliest sketch of the 
incidents of Jesus’s ministry which we possess. 

It begins with a notice of John, a Jewish ascetic 
whose activity is independently attested by the Jewish 
historian Josephus, and who, some time in the third 
decade of the Christian era, ‘‘ baptised in the wilderness 
and preached the baptism of repentance for the 
remission of sins.” It was widely believed that the 
Messiah was about to appear and restore in Palestine 
the golden age of the Jews. Those who had not 
repented and washed away their offences against the 
Mosaic law would be excluded from the restored 
kingdom of David. Mark relates that penitents 
flocked to hear John’s preaching from all over Judea 
and from Jerusalem, that they confessed their sins 
and washed themselves in the cleansing waters of 

Among those who thus came to be baptised was one 
Jesus from Nazareth, of Galilee. As he went up out 
of the water, he saw the heavens rent asunder, and 
the spirit, as a dove, descend upon him; and a voice 
from heaven cried, ‘‘ Thou art my beloved son, in thee 
am I well pleased.”” Thus Jesus became a vehicle of 
the divine spirit, and Mes sociales from heaven as 

MARK 29 

the Messiah, or son of God. His temptation by the 
evil one, of which the narrative has been given above, 
at p. 25, immediately followed upon his baptism. 
Having triumphed over the devil, Jesus was now ripe 
for the work of his ministry, and, John having been 
imprisoned or slain by Herod Antipas, Jesus took up 
his master’s work, proceeded to Galilee, and began to 
preach. We learn nothing of his age, appearance, or 
previous life, nor why he went to Galilee. We do 
hear, however, that, instead of proclaiming himself to 
be the Messiah, he merely delivered the same message 
as John, saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom 
of God is at hand ; repent ye. 

The next episode is the call of four fishermen of 
Galilee, Simon (Peter), and Andrew, James and John, 
the two sons of Zebedee, to be disciples. Jesus sees 
them in boats casting their nets, and, without preface 
or ceremony, says: Come ye after me, and I will make 
you fishers of men. Whereupon they abruptly forsake 
their nets and follow him. 

This anecdote cannot be from the lips of an eye- 
witness, but has been arranged as a background 
against which Jesus can utter his aphorism about 
fishers of men. In its childish simplicity, this story 
of the call of the four chief apostles reminds me of a 
question once put to me by my little boy, aged four. 
‘‘Father, how did you come to know Uncle Gus?” 
I hesitated a moment to reply, and the child promptly 
supplied his own solution: ‘‘I suppose you met him 
in the street one day, and spoke to him, and liked 
him so much that you asked him in to tea.’ That is 
a child’s way of making friends with other children ; 
and Mark’s idea of how Jesus made disciples is almost 
equally naive. 

30 MARK 

The first act of Jesus, now that he has got a 
following, is to expel an unclean spirit from one who 
was possessed. Spirits were popularly supposed to 
have second sight, and know more than human beings ; 
and, accordingly, this spirit, when Jesus approached, 
recognised him at first sight and cried out: What 
have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art 
thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the 
holy one of God. 

The literary motive of the writer is clear. Jesus 
had been acclaimed as the Son and Messiah at his 
baptism by a voice which was only heard by himself; 
now he is recognised as such by the devils or evil 
spirits, who henceforth are arrayed against him as a 
counter kingdom of evil. The “ awthority’’ he here 
displays over the demons who obey him excites 
general comment, ‘‘ and the report of him went out 
straightway everywhere into all the region of Galilee 
round about.” 

This interview with the evil spirits had taken place 
in the public synagogue at Capernaum on a sabbath. 
On the evening of the same day Jesus repairs to the 
house of Simon and Andrew, and heals Simon’s 
mother-in-law of a fever; and at even they brought 
to him all that were sick or had devils, to be cured. But 
this time ‘‘he suffered not the devils to speak, because they 
knew him.” So anxious was he to hide the fact that 
he was the promised Messiah. 

Whence this reticence on the part of Jesus? We 
are not told; but during the next few chapters, in 
which the typical teaching of Jesus and a number of 
cures and miracles are given, the same silence is 
enforced. “See thow say nothing to any man,” he says 
to the leper he had healed (Mark i. 44). And then, 

MARK 31 

in open contradiction of himself, he adds, “‘ but go 
thy way, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy 
cleansing the things which Moses commanded for a 
testumony unto them.” It to the priest it was to be 
thus solemnly attested that the leper was cleansed, 
and so fit to be admitted afresh into the synagogue, 
how could others not hear of it? We are therefore 
not surprised to learn that the leper at once “went out 
and began to publish it much and to spread abroad the 
matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter 
the city, but remained outside in desert places.” 

In the last verses of ch. iv. Jesus stills a storm on 
the lake of Galilee, and the same miracle is repeated 
at the close of ch. vi. The interval between these 
two great nature miracles, which we shall presently 
discuss more in detail, is filled up with two stories, 
the one of them telling of the grotesque miracle of the 
Gadarene swine, the other of the raising from the 
dead of Jairus’ daughter. These miracles are the 
chief thaumaturgic feats of Jesus during his Galilean 
ministry. Yet he wishes them to be kept quiet, and 
we read, as before, that “‘ he charged them much that no 
man should know this.” Nevertheless, when in the 
next chapter he returns with his disciples to his own 
country, we are told that his fame had spread thither, 
so that many were astonished, and asked how he came 
to work such mighty works. So regularly does our 
author stultify himself ! 

The cure of a woman with a bloody flux is thrust 
into the midst of the Jairus story, which is followed in 
ch. vi. by a visit of Jesus to his own home; where his 
own family flout him. There follows, first the giving 
of a commission to the twelve apostles, already named 
in ch. iii. 14-19; then the story of John’s beheadal 

32 MARK 

(incidentally suggested by a mention of Herod and of 
his attitude towards Jesus), and then a first edition of 
the miracle of feeding thousands of people on nothing 
at all. Mark thus crowds incident on incident, 
miracle on miracle, into this first sabbath day at Caper- 
naum, but is silent about the events of the next few 
months which Jesus spent in the same region. It 
would seem as if he only cared to sketch a few striking 
scenes appropriate to the delivery by Jesus of certain 
aphorisms, mostly directed against the pharisees and 
scribes. Such are the following :— 

The Son of Man [i.e., any man whatever] hath 
power on earth to forgive sins. 

They that are whole have no need of a physician, 
but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, 
but sinners. 

The sabbath was made for man, and not man for 
the sabbath: so that the Son of Man [i.e., any man 
whatever] is lord even of the sabbath. 

A prophet is not without honour, save in his own 

-country, and among his own kin, and in his own 

We have noticed above how constantly in this 
Gospel Jesus enjoins those he cured to let no man 
hear thereof, and it is probably historically true that 
he began his career by merely proclaiming the 
kingdom of heaven to be at hand and the Messiah 
about to appear. It would seem as if he only 
gradually acquired confidence in himself, and finally 
accepted the conviction that he was himself the 
Messiah only when his disciples and followers forced 
the réle upon him. If there is any truth in the 
picture given in all three Gospels of John the Baptist— 
and it is in a manner attested by Josephus—then he, 

MARK 83 

too, had some trouble to persuade the enthusiastic 
crowds who flocked to hear him preach that he was 
not himself the Messiah, but only his forerunner and 
herald. These injunctions of secrecy, therefore, are 
intelligible as part of a tradition already waning that 
Jesus did not make his débit as Messiah, but assumed 
the réle little by little; the other evangelists servilely 
copy them out from Mark, yet stultify them by insist- 
ing that Jesus was from the first acclaimed as Messiah 
both by himself and by others. They therefore leave 
no room for growth and development in his own and 
other men’s ideas, and are, so far, less entitled to 
credence than Mark. 

Another characteristic of Mark’s narrative is harder 
to explain—this, namely, that he constantly assigns, 
as the reason why Jesus taught in parables, the desire 
not to be understood by those who heard him. Thus, 
when the disciples ask him, in private, the meaning of 
the parable of the Sower, in ch. iv., he prefaces his 
explanation with these words: ‘‘ Unto you 1s given the 
mystery of the kingdom of God ; but unto them that are 
without all things are done in parables: that seeing they 
may see, and not take in; and hearing they may hear, 
and not understand ; lest haply they should turn again, 
and it should be forgiven them.” 

In other words, Jesus used the parable in order to 
conceal his meaning from his hearers; and though, 
like Jonah, he taught repentance to his generation, he 
was, nevertheless, as anxious as was that hero of 
senseless fable that his hearers should, after all, not 
repent and become worthy of the messianic kingdom 
of promise.t And yet, in ch. vi. 34, we read that on 

1 The book of Jonah was favourite reading in the days when the 

Gospels took shape. As Jonah’s preaching was a sign to his genera- 

34 MARK 

another occasion Jesus ‘‘saw a great multitude and had 
compassion on them, because they were as sheep not having 
a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things” ; 
and in ch. iv. 33 it is indicated that many understood 
him, for such is the sense of the words, ‘‘with many 
such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were 
able to hear it: and without a parable spake he not unto 
them. But privately to his own disciples he explained 
all things.” 
The pretence of esoteric mystery ascribed to Jesus 
in the first quoted passage is surely as stupid as it is 
‘unworthy of a teacher who, if he used parable at all, 
undoubtedly used it as the best way of getting at the 
hearts and understandings of the poor and ignorant. 
The additional explanation, that it was to prevent his 
hearers from turning again and being saved, betokens 
on the part of the narrator an almost incredible small- 
ness of mind. It is worthy of Mark, who elsewhere 
would fain persuade his readers that the withering of 

tion, so was that of Jesus; and, as Jonah was in the belly of the fish 
three days and three nights, so for a like space of time Jesus lay in the 
tomb. It may be one of the Scriptures to which Paul appealed when, 
in 1 Cor. xv. 4, he declares that Jesus was buried and raised on the third 
day according to the Scriptures. The saying that the Son of Man 
must be killed and after three days rise again, which Mark viii. 31 
puts into the lips of Jesus, probably had the same origin. It is there- 
fore probable that Mark’s grotesque fancy that Jesus taught in 
parables, not in order to be understood of the Jews, but in order that 
he might not be understood, was partly suggested by the legend of 
Jonah, whose story was, briefly, as follows: Jonah iii. 1 foll.—And 
the word of the Lord came unto Jonah....saying, Arise, go unto 
Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid 
thee. So Jonah arose....and began to enter into the city....and he 
cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. 
And the people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a 
fast and put on sackcloth..... And God saw their works, that they 
turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, which he 
said he would do unto them; and he did it not. But it displeased 
Jonah exceedingly, and he was anery..... And the Lord said, Doest 

thou well to be angry?....Should I not have pity on Nineveh, that 
great city?.... 

MARK 35 

a fig-tree, in consequence of curses hurled at it by 
Jesus for not bearing fruit out of season (Mark xi. 13y 
is a palmary example of prayer answered and faith in 
God rewarded! Here we have jarring notes, vulgar 
dissonances, in the narrative, that may or may not 
have marred it in its original form. For, as it stands, 
the Gospel of Mark is a redaction only, and a rather 
clumsy one, too, of earlier narratives, taken without 
acknowledgment from some earlier writers, just as the 
first and third evangelists took from Mark. 

The crisis and turning-point in the career of Jesus 
is supposed by Mark to have been reached when Peter, 
in answer to Jesus’s question, ‘“‘ Whom do men say that 
I am?” replied, ‘‘Zhow art the Christ.” Jesus 
instantly ‘“‘ charged them that they should tell no man 
of him.” 

So much isclear about the intentions of this writer : 
he wishes to convince his readers that Jesus was 
Messiah and Son of God. First the voice from 
heaven, at the baptism, assures Jesus himself of this; 
then the demons recognise him as such. His works 
of power equally manifest him. His teachings, as 
explained to the inner circle of his disciples, prepare 
their minds for the great truth. Then Peter, as 
spokesman of his fellows, affirms it; and the cycle 
of evidence is completed at the Transfiguration (in 
ch. ix.), when the three favoured apostles—Peter, 
James, and John—having accompanied him ‘‘up into 
a high mountain,’ see him in a nimbus of glory con- 
versing with Elijah and Moses. Supreme assurance 
of the great truth is now vouchsafed to them also, for 
a voice from heaven (this time addressed to them) 
declares: ‘‘ This is my beloved Son. Hear ye him.” 
But here once more the accustomed caution is 

36 MARK 

enforced by Jesus thus: ‘‘ And as they were coming down 
from the mountain he charged them that they should tell 
no man what things they had seen, save when the Son of 
Man should have risen again from the dead.” 

Mark would have us discern in Jesus from the 
outset that Messiahship which was only gradually 
recognised by the disciples, and which, to the Jewish 
contemporaries of Jesus, was never revealed at all. 

What is behind all this mystification? Mark does 
not expressly take us into his confidence, but the 
following explanation has been suggested. The 
Messiahship was a Jewish conception, for it was the 
future Messiah’s réle to liberate the Jews from the 
moral servitude of sin and from physical subjection to 
Gentiles. It was, therefore, a terrible impediment 
to the diffusion of the Christian religion among 
Gentiles, that the Jews, almost en masse, would not 
hear of the claims advanced in favour of Jesus. The 
earliest literature of the Church was mainly written to 
prove that Jesus had fulfilled the Scriptures, and 
therefore was the Messiah. Now Mark—as his fre- 
quent explanations of Jewish names and customs 
prove—wrote for Gentiles; and Gentiles might well 
ask: ‘* How can we be expected to believe that Jesus 
is Messiah, when the very Jews as whose Messiah he 
came deny it?” Mark’s answer is, in effect, as 
follows: The voice in Jordan proclaimed him Mes- 
siah, but only to himself. The demons, through their 
supernatural insight, detected him, but “‘ he suffered 
them not to speak, because they knew him.” Similarly, 
his miracles and cures were not to be divulged. He 
taught in parables, lest the Jews should understand 
him and turn again. Least of all might his disciples 
speak of what they saw on the mount of transfiguration 

MARK 37 

or reveal his Messiahship, patent at last to them- 
selves. This is all by way of explaining why the 
Jews, as a race, did not accept Jesus as their Messiah. 
Jesus had never wished them to do so, nor given them 
a chance. The expedient is clumsy, and, no doubt, 
violates the documents and traditions which the evan- 
gelist inherited, and according to the original tenour 
of which the miracles and teachings of Jesus excited 
the utmost enthusiasm and the most widespread 
rumour among the people. Thus Mark stultifies 
himself in every paragraph, and, incidentally, sup- 
plies the Jews with the amplest justification of their 
negative attitude. It is an apologetic method so 
favourable to them that no subsequent Christian 
writer ever resorted to it. 

The above is probably the true explanation of the 
atmosphere of secrecy and mystery in which—as 
against the Jews, though not as against his readers 
and Jesus’s own disciples—Mark seeks to shroud the 
sayings and doings of Jesus. At the same time there 
may be a kernel of historical truth in it all; for what 
other motive, except fear of Herod Antipas, the mur- 
derer of his master John, can have led Jesus to quit 
that prince’s tetrarchate (in which lay Galilee and 
Capernaum), and to migrate into the neighbouring 
province of Herod’s brother Philip and into the 
Decapolis? Messiahs were many in that age, and 
met with a cruel fate when they fell into the hands of 
Roman governors or of members of the Herodian 
dynasty friendly to Rome. Jesus may well have 
shrunk from assuming the name and réle of Messiah. 

With this migration, anyhow, begins the second 
period of Jesus’s ministry ; and it is, perhaps, Mark’s 
own literary device, as he introduced the Capernaum 

38 MARK 

ministry with popular questionings as to who and 
what Jesus was, so to begin the epoch of his wander- 
ings with similar questions, put first into Herod’s lips 
(Mark vi. 14) and then into those of Jesus (Mark viii. 
27). By this time Jesus has reached the town of 
Cesarea, at the foot of Mount Hermon, in Philip’s 
province. Peter is now made to answer the question ; 
and his answer is confirmed from heaven in the 
transfiguration scene. But it is intimated that, when 
Peter answered Jesus and said, ‘‘ T’how art the Christ,”’ 
he still regarded the Messiah as a warrior after the 
style of Mohammed, commissioned by heaven to head 
a successful revolt against the Romans to liberate 
Israel. In Acts i. 6, after the Resurrection, the first 
thought of the faithful is still that the Lord will now 
at last restore the kingdom to Israel, and achieve the 
task of a purely Jewish Messiah. This was the ideal 
of a Messiah which filled Peter’s mind, and led him 
openly to rebuke Jesus when the latter, by way of 
answer to his recognition of him, ‘‘ began to teach them 
that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be 
rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the 
scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” 
Jesus, when he draws near Jerusalem, after wander- 
ing through the region beyond Jordan, repeats this 
prophecy in greater detail, declaring even that the 
Son of Man shall be condemned to death and delivered 
up to the Gentiles, who shall mock him, and shall spit 
upon him, and shall scourge him, and shall kill him, and 
after three days he shall rise again. 

These specific prophecies were not, of course, uttered 
by Jesus, but are put into his mouth after the event by 
the author or authors of our document. That the 
followers of Jesus, whenever they first acclaimed him 

MARK _ 89 

as Messiah, intended the title in its military or 
martial sense is certain, from the above passage of 
Mark as from many others. Even after the Crucifixion 
they still believed that he would come again and perform 
the warlike feats popularly expected of the Messiah. 

From the moment of his being acclaimed as Messiah 
by Peter, Jesus is repeatedly made to speak of himself 
in the third person—as the Son of Man. About this 
title’s real meaning there is much uncertainty, and 
the following account of it is only probable :— 

In the first section of the Gospel of Mark this 
phrase, the Son of Man, seems to bear its ordinary 
Semitic meaning of a human being—man in general ; 
but in the transfiguration episode, and throughout the 
rest of the Gospel, it bears the meaning already 
assigned to it in the Book of Daniel (some 200 years 
B.c.), wherein (ch. vii. 18) we read as follows :—‘‘ I 
saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the 
clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came 
even to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near 
before him. And there was given him dominion and 
glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples and nations 
and languages should serve him: his dominion is an 
everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and las 
kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” 

In the last section of this Gospel Jesus is very 
pointedly identified with Daniel’s phantom form. He 
has been arrested, and all his followers have fled, even 
Peter denying all knowledge of him. The high priest 
challenges him to declare who he is: ‘‘ Art thow the 
Christ, the son of the blessed one? And Jesus said, I 
am; and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right 
hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” 

(Mark xiv. 62). 

40 MARK 

And in an earlier passage (xiii. 24), where Mark is 
describing in words borrowed from a lost Jewish 
apocalypse what is to occur at the end of the world, 
we read what the Son of Man is to achieve when he 
comes again: ‘ But in those days, after that tribulation, 
the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give 
her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the 
powers that are in the heavens shall be shaken. And 
then shall they see the Son of Man coming in clouds with 
great power and glory. And then shall he send forth 
the angels, and shall gather together his elect from the 
four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the 
uttermost part of heaven.” 

In such passages as the above we get a glimpse of 
the hopes and aspirations of the Jews in Palestine, 
where the rule of Rome pressed most heavily upon 
them and was most acutely felt to be a violation of 
their traditions and religion. But the same day- 
dreams floated also before the mind of the Jews of 
the Dispersion, and in awork, entitled About the Curses, 
of the Alexandrian Jew Philo, we have a vivid record 
of them, which has all the more value for us because, 
as a rule, the messianic aspirations of the Jews are 
voiced in apocryphal works like the Book of Enoch 
and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, of which 
we can fix with any precision neither the age nor the 
authorship. Here is a testimony, however, written, 
it would seem, not before 85 a.p. and not after 42 a.p. 
by a Jew of Alexandria deeply versed in old Greek 
philosophy and literature, and so Hellenised that he 
could not understand his own tongue. Yet he shared 
in the Zionist dreams of his compatriots. In Palestine 

1 De Exsecrationibus. 

MARK 41. 

he sees realised in all their dreadful intensity the 
curses proclaimed in Deut. xxviii. against those who 
break the statutes and law of Jehovah. Fire and 
sword, hunger and panic, drought and disease, the 
men carried captive to far lands, the women the toys 
of their captors—in all this the pious Jew discerned 
the wrath of God against a chosen people who had 
turned away from him to worship idols, and neglected 
to observe the sabbaths. But, although the stalks are 
consumed, yet the root remains, and Philo dreams of 
a time when his countrymen, overcome with shame and 
remorse, will be converted, will upbraid themselves for 
their errors, will confess and acknowledge with purified 
hearts the sins they have committed against them- 
selves, and win afresh the goodwill of their God and 
saviour, who, from the first, implanted reason in them, 
and made them kinsmen of his own Logos or Word. The 
sudden conversion of their Jewish serfs to virtue and 
goodness will so impress their Roman oppressors and 
masters that the latter will set them free, ashamed to 
hold in captivity men so openly superior to themselves. 
Forthwith, as if by concerted arrangement and in one 
day, all Jews enslaved even at the ends of the earth 
will be freed beyond all expectation. Those who a 
little before were dispersed ever Greece and Italy, 
over islands and mainland, will rise up as one man, 
and hurry, one from here, another from there, to the 
appointed spot, led on like guests by a vision of a face 
too divine to be accounted merely human, invisible to 
others, and revealed to them that are saved alone. 
In that moment the lost and erring Israelites are 
reconciled to their divine father through his mercy 
and through the intercession of their holy ancestors, 
who, as disembodied spirits, offer up to him, in spirit 

42 MARK 

and truth, adoration and prayers, which cannot fail of 
their effect. But what shall most provoke the grace 
and pity of the offended God is the change of heart in 
those now led on to a fresh covenant. Out of a 
trackless wilderness they have, with the least difficulty, 
found a path and set their face to their true goal, 
which is nothing else than to please God, as children 
may please their father. And when they reach their 
destined goal the cities, erewhile desolate, flourish 
again, and the earth, that was sterile, brings forth her 
fruits in abundance. And the change is wrought all 
on a sudden, for God will turn his curses against the 
enemies of the repentant race who were all jubilant 
over its calamities, making them a cause of bitter 
jibes and reviling.? 

Philo’s language, of course, is largely a paraphrase 
of the eloquent chapters of Deuteronomy; yet he 
writes as if he believed that these chapters had a present 
application. A pious Jew, he resented the Roman 
rule, the brutal violation of his temple, the coarse 

1 In yet another passage—namely, in the treatise About Rewards 
and Punishments—Philo reveals the same thought. He dwells on the 
necessity for a really good man to follow the holy laws every day of 
his life. ‘If there be but one such man in a city, he will tower above 
that city; if the entire city be equally good with him, it will stand 
out among the inhabitants of the land around ; but, if a race exhibits 
such virtue, it will overtop all other races, as the head overtops the 
body to the eye of the beholder, and will not merely enjoy a command- 
ing reputation, but will benefit all who witness.’”? He goes on to 
remark that the spectacle of a holy race devoted to the practice of the 
law will stimulate surrounding races to emulate its example, and 
after a little uses the following significant words: ‘‘As then God 
could easily bring together men settled afar in the remotest regions 
by a single word of command, and gather them from the ends of 
the world into any place he chooses, so with the intelligence which, 
from long error, has utterly lost its way and been overcome by 
pleasure and lust, the Saviour can no less in his pity easily bring it 
back from the trackless waste into the way of salvation,” and so forth. 
Here he distinctly glances at the current belief that the faithful among 
the Jews were to be miraculously restored to their land. 

¥ M MARK 43 

assaults on his religion by such satirists as Apion. 
He had no confidence in the power of the Jews to get 
rid of the alien by force of arms. His only hope was 
in a supernatural liberator, descending from heaven and 
rescuing from their oppressors the chosen race of Israel. 
But Israel must first repent and fulfil all righteousness 
—that is, discharge faithfully all the works of the 
law; in particular, keep the sabbaths holy and 
observe the rule of circumcision. Then, and not 
before, will the heavenly Messiah appear and establish 
on earth the kingdom of David. No material pre- 
paration for this blessed consummation is of any use. 
The kingdom of heaven cannot be taken, or rather 
won and established, by force, but only by moral and 
social reformation. Only Jahveh and his messenger, 
the Messiah, can establish it by a sort of coup d’état 
from the clouds. When these roll away the Jews will 
be seen in their resplendent utopia, their enemies 
and oppressors in Tartarus. Supernatural signs, an 
enumeration of which, from some Jewish apocalypse, 
is in Mark xiii. put into the mouth of Jesus, will 
precede the Messiah’s advent, but it will not come as 
any result of an historical evolution. 

When Jesus died on the cross the confidence of his 
followers in him, the belief that he would restore the 
kingdom of David, suffered an eclipse. But this was 
only temporary, and it revived in their breasts when, 
in Galilee and elsewhere, he appeared to them in 
their dreams and visions as a heavenly figure trans- 
ported to heaven like Enoch or Elias. 

We cannot to-day trace out with any certainty the 
development of ideas in the earliest Christian com- 
munity of Galilee and Jerusalem. It would seem, 
however, as if the disciples who fled back into Galilee 

44 MARK oa 

when Jesus was arrested and condemned were first 
roused from the despair which had overtaken them by 
visions of their Messiah raised from the dead and alive 
in heaven. That these visions were subjective only 
is certain, from the fact that they were moulded by 
ancient ideas of heaven and earth and hades, and still 
more from Luke’s admission, Acts x. 41, that God, 
when he resuscitated Jesus, manifested him, not to 
all the people, but only to a few pre-ordained persons. 
If we can believe (what all the Gospels again and 
again affirm) that Jesus himself asserted that he was 
to be raised from the dead after three days—that is 
to say, before his spirit definitely quitted the 
vicinity of his corpse (and according to ancient 
belief it did not do so until three days had expired) — 
we need go no further in search of a psychological 
explanation of their visions. They were begotten of 
a belief which Jesus himself held and implanted in 
them. But, although their confidence in Jesus, so 
rudely shaken, was thus restored, there was, neverthe- 
less, as yet no sign of the restoration of the kingdom 
of Israel. Jesus had been promoted to a place of 
dignity in heaven; but the dreams of Jewish patriot- 
ism were left unfulfilled. Hope, once resuscitated, 
could not again be extinguished. No real enthusiast 
ever admits that he has been deceived. He must 
needs fortify himself, and rise to still higher flights. 
Accordingly, the leaders of Christian speculation dis- 
covered, on the one hand, that it was predicted by 
Isaiah and other ancient prophets that the Messiah 
was to be persecuted, to suffer and be slain by the 
unjust (perhaps Jesus himself taught as much), and, 
on the other hand, the Messiah so slain was to come 
again in glory, as Daniel’s Son of Man, to punish his 

m MARK 45 

enemies and reward his just ones. Thus the 
heavenly Messiah was to make good the defects which 
Peter in the scene at Cesarea Philippi discovers in 
the suffering earthly one. The belief in a speedy 
return of Jesus the Messiah in glory was one of the 
few real ties between Paul and the other apostles. 
When exactly after the Crucifixion it arose we do not 
know, but it was very early and very general; for 
Paul attests that the commonest form of Christian 
prayer in his day was mardna tha—i.e., Come thou, 
O Lord; and the belief left its impress in a hundred 
ways on the manners, institutions, and liturgies of 
the earliest Church. 

The last six chapters (xi.—xvi.) of Mark contain the 
story of the Crucifixion, told with so much detail that 
it fills as many pages as the entire year of the Galilean 
ministry. Jesus’s movements are recorded day by 
day, and from the moment of his arrest events are 
related hour by hour according to the watches of day 
and night. But, although the narrative is so detailed, 
it is often very obscure. Jesus is crucified on the 
Paschal feast-day, although, two days only before the 
feast, the chief priests and scribes have arranged to 
take and kill him before the said feast begins, ‘‘ lest 
haply there shall be a tumult of the people”? (Mark 
xiv. 2). If he was really crucified on the feast-day, 
it follows that the last supper was the Passover meal. 
If, however, the priests and scribes carried out their 
programme, it was not. 

Another inconsequence in the narrative is this: 
Jesus is ostensibly condemned by the priests as king 
of the Jews, and because he owned himself to be the 
Messiah, the son of the blessed one. And yet it was 
no offence to the mind of pious Jews that a prominent 

46 MARK 

teacher should give himself out to be the Messiah. 
Indeed, his doing so was as eminently calculated to 
win their sympathies as it was likely to procure his 
condemnation by a Roman administrator as a mis- 
chievous political agitator. The real Jewish grava- 
men against Jesus is hinted at by Mark, but relegated 
to the background. It was his prophecy of the 
destruction of the temple—an event which any clear- 
sighted observer of the growing hostility between Jew 
and Roman must have foreseen. 

I feel that any dispassionate critic, trained in the 
study of ancient historical documents, will agree with 
the following appreciation of Mark’s Gospel; it is that 
of the doyen of Old Testament scholars, J. Wellhausen, 
who thus sums up his impressions of the first five 
chapters :— 

In the same measure as the first day in Capernaum 
is crowded with incidents, the year in Capernaum 
and the whole Galilean epoch is barren of them. It 
has to its account half-a-dozen miracles and a handful 

- of other events. In chs. ii. and iii. a few weighty 

and more or less paradoxical aphorisms are grouped 
together, rather because they resemble each other than 
because they were uttered at one time. Hach of them is 
elicited by some definite incident or occasion which is 
carefully described, and they are all of them aimed 
at the Scribes or Pharisees or other persons who came 
into conflict with Jesus, not excepting his own family 
in Nazareth. Upon these follow in ch. iv. the parables 
of the Sower, and a longer address to the people 
delivered from the boat in which he sat on the lake. 
Without any change of scene there follows closely a 
group of three miracles, of which one is wrought 
during the passage over the lake, a second after 
landing on the other side, a third on returning to 

MARK 47 

Capernaum (iv. 85-v. 48). That is all. Names of 
persons are seldom given, even Jairus being omitted 
in D1 Among the dramatis persone Jesus is the only 
one who properly speaks or acts. His opponents 
merely draw him out; his disciples are super- 
numeraries. But of his comings in and goings forth, 
how he supported himself, how he lived, ate and 
drank, of his intercourse with his intimates, we learn 
nothing. It is related that he taught on the sabbath 
in the synagogue, but we are not allowed to form an 
idea of what he taught; we only get a hint of what he 
said outside the synagogue, generally in view of some 
particular incident which required him to say some- 
thing. Ordinary events are not recorded, only a few 
extraordinary ones. This cannot be wholly explained 
by supposing that Mark was not writing for the 
instruction of future generations, and therefore left 
unsaid incidents with which, as being almost con- 
temporary, his first readers were well acquainted. 
Kven if we allow for this, the meagreness of the 
tradition is remarkable. From our verdict that the 
Gospel of Mark, as a whole, lacks the characteristics 
of a genuine history we cannot exempt the story of 
the Passion. Our curiosity is left unsatisfied. 
Nothing is motived in it, nothing explained as arising 
out of what goes before. There is no background, no 
causal connection of one incident with another. Of 
chronology there is no trace; nowhere is a fixed date 
given. Clear geographical indications, it is true, are 
supplied, and the scene is, as a rule, depicted, though 
too often in a loose way, as taking place in some 
house or other, on a mountain, in a lone place. But 
there is as little attempt to trace out what happened 
from place to place, to supply an itinerary, as there is 

1_The Cambridge uncial codex, which belonged to Beza, 



to trace it from point to point of time. The scene 
shifts from place to place; but rarely, if at all, do we 
learn through what places Jesus passed on the way, 
Particular narratives are often graphic and lively, 
yet without owing anything to fictitious or merely 
rhetorical devices; these, however, are mostly strung 
together as anecdotes, rari nantes in yurgite vasto,and do 
not suffice as materials for a Life of Jesus. Nor do they 
leave on us the impression of their being based on 
accounts of people who, having eaten and drunk with 
him, had tried to impart to others a picture of his 
personality. Not that characteristic features are 
altogether wanting. He watches, for example, the 
people as they drop their money into the treasury. 
He knows men and men’s hearts. Friend and enemy 
alike feel his superiority without his needing expressly 
to manifest it. He towers in solitude above those 
who surround him, even over his disciples, about 
whom one feels a certain surprise at his needing them 
at all. At the same time his is no cold, dispassionate 
nature; its note is warmth of moral feeling, intense 

_ sensibility. He yields to holy sympathy in his anger 

with the authorities of the people, and his sympathies 
are all with the humble. Sympathy and desire to 
succour inspire not only his miracles, but his teaching; 
he cares for soul and body of the needy, is at once 
teacher and physician, and, if needs be, host as well. 
In Mark, however, this sympathy is seldom put 
forward as the motive for his miracles of healing; 
they are intended to be, before everything else, works 
of power, proving him to be the Messiah. Mark does 
not write de vita et moribus Jesu, nor is he concerned 
to give us an idea, still less a picture, of his person. 
His personality is lost sight of in his divine vocation, 
and Mark’s only desire is to demonstrate that he was 
the Messiah. His disciples, it is true, only recognise 

MARK 49 

him as such after the journey to Jerusalem has begun ; 
but, in point of fact, he was Messiah from the baptism 
onwards—from the very beginning of his public 
ministry—and, if his own words did not prove him 
such, anyhow his works did so. They were seen, if 
not at the time, in any case in the sequel, to be the 
outcome of his Messianity; and it is in this guise 
that Mark presents them—namely, as examples which 
prove his thesis, and so have a place in the Gospel of 
Jesus Christ. It is true that he does not obtrude this 
point of view; and, in confirmation of the impression 
which, in his opinion, the mere facts ought to create, 
he uses only the utterances of the demons who see 
more clearly than the disciples. He never resorts to 
Matthew’s argument from Scripture: This happened 
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, ete. 

But it was hardly Mark himself who, from a mass 
of earlier material which he had before him, chose 
out such portions as suited his purpose, and rejected 
the rest. The oral tradition which he had at his 
disposal had already been winnowed and condensed 
under the guidance of the same point of view which 
inspires his own method. He passes over in silence 
this or that detail with which he could assume his 
readers to be acquainted—e.g., the names of Jesus’s 
parents. All the same, he has not left much that is 
genuinely historical for his successors to glean, and 
what they know, but he did not, is of doubtful value. 
The tradition which he exploits is relatively rich for 
Jerusalem, but on the other hand poor for Galilee ; 
just as tradition about Mohammed is rich for Medina, 
but poor for Mecca. Here is a contrast which is 
inexplicable, supposing the tradition goes back to the 
original disciples. Nor are the Galilean narratives, as 
a rule, of such an internal texture that they can be 

referred to them. How can Peter have been the 



authority for the sudden call of the four fishers of 
men? How can he have testified to the walking on 
the waters, or to the driving of the evil spirits into 
the swine, to the healing of a woman with an issue of - 
blood by the power attaching to a garment, of dumb 
and blind people by application of spittle? And why 
do we not learn more details, and those more credible, 
of the intercourse of the Master with his disciples ? 
It would rather seem as if the narrative handed down 
in Mark did not proceed primarily from those who 
were in the intimacy of Jesus; for the most part it is 
rude and popular in character, as if it had long 
circulated from mouth to mouth among the people, 
and, in doing so, acquired the abrupt and forcible 
story-telling form in which we have it to-day. Popular 
taste delights in miracles and expulsions of demons, 
in the repeated recognition of Jesus by demons; and, 
as signs of Messiahship, such incidents were perhaps 
found by missionaries of the gospel to be the most 
telling and to “draw” most among the classes from 
which Christianity was chiefly recruited. Mark took - 

up what tradition provided him with; but the 

arrangement of the material in three main sections is 
his work, and, of course, involved a process of editing. 
To this may be ascribed the introductions and con- 
clusions, the transitions, short summaries, lists, as 
well as the names and descriptions of persons to whom 
Jesus is made to address his sayings. 





Cuapter LV. 

THERE are many stars in the firmament which to the 
eye appear single, but which, if we use a telescope, 
are seen to be not one star, but two, or even three. 
So, if we turn the telescope of critical analysis on to 
Mark’s Gospel, it can be resolved, like a compound 
star, into two or even more.documentary layers. In 
ancient documents compiled from earlier sources we 
regularly meet with what critics call textual doublets 
—that is, parallel narratives of the same incident, 
which have been copied out one after the other. That 
the same event, or group of events, should happen 
twice over is anyhow improbable; and, if the two 
narratives are to any extent in verbal agreement, we 
can be quite sure that we have got before us, not two 
distinct stories, but two textual variants of one and 
the same story, naively copied out, one after the 
other, by one who failed to see that his sources over- 

Mark’s Gospel contains several such doublets; we 
are sure, therefore, that he was a compiler, who used 
up pre-existing documents which he had somehow 
come across. Let us take an example, setting in 
opposite columns the two parallel narratives, and 
italicising the two texts wherever, in the Greek, they 

verbally agree :— 


Marx vi. 30-45. 

And the apostles gather them- 
selves together unto Jesus; and 
they told him all things, whatso- 
ever they had done and taught. 
And he saith to them, Hither ye 
yourselves apart unto a desert 
place and rest awhile. For many 
were they who were coming and 
going, and they had no oppor- 
tunity even to eat. And they went 
away into a desert place in the 
boat apart. And they saw them 
going, and many recognised 
(them), and they ran hither and 
thither by land from all the cities 
and forestalled them. And he 
came forth and beheld a great 
multitude, and he had compassion 
on them because they were as 
sheep without a shepherd: and 
he began to teach them many 
things. And when the day was 
now far spent, his disciples came 
unto him, and said, The place is 
desert, and already the hour is 
late. Send them away, that they 
may go into the hamlets around, 
and villages, and buy themselves 
what to eat. But he answered 
and said to them, Give ye them to 
eat. And they say to him, Shall 
we go and buy for two hundred 
pennies loaves, and give to them 
toeat? And he saith tothem, How 
many loaves have ye? Go and 
see. And when they knew, they 
say, Five, and two jishes. And he 
commanded them that all should 
recline company by company on 
the green grass. And they lay 
down rank by rank, by hundreds 
and by fifties. And he took the 
five loaves and the two fishes, 
and, having looked up to heaven, 
he blessed and brake the loaves; 
and he gave to the disciples to set 
before them; and the two fishes 
he divided to all. And they ail 
ate and were filled. And they 
took wp broken pieces, twelve 


Mark viii. 1-13. 

In those days, when there was 
again a great multitude, and they 
had nothing to eat, he called unto 
him his disciples, and saith unto 
them, I have compassion on the 
multitude, because they continue 
with me now three days, and have 
nothing to eat. And if I send 
them away fasting to their home, 
they will faint by the way; and 
some of them are come from far. 
And his disciples answered him, 
Whence shall one be able to fill 
these men with loaves here in a 
desert place? And he asked them, 
How many loaves have ye? And 
they said, Seven. And he comman- 
deth the multitude to liedown on the 
ground: and he took the seven 
loaves, and having given thanks, 
he brake and gave to his disciples, 
to set before them; and they set 
them before the multitude. And 
they had a few small fishes: and 
having blessed them, he com- 
manded to set these also before 
them. And they did eat and were 
jilled: and they took up of broken 
pieces that remained over, seven 
baskets. And they were about four 
thousand : and he sent them away. 
And straightway he entered into 
the boat with his disciples, and 
came into the parts of Dalma- 
nutha..... And he left them, and 
again entering into (the boat) 
departed to the other side. 


basketfuls, and the same of the 
fishes. And they that ate the 
loaves were five thousand men. 
And straightway he constrained 
his disciples to enter into the boat, 
and to go before him unto the 
other side to Bethsaida, while he 
himself sent the multitude away. | 

Here we have two versions of one and the same 
story, told twice over in nearly identical words. The 
only question which can be raised is, whether it was 
Mark who thus juxtaposed them, or whether he 
already found the doublet in an earlier source, and 
copied it out. The latter is probably the case, for it 
is unlikely that the compiler who found the two 
narratives separately in two different sources, and 
united them in one book, would place in Jesus’s 
mouth the following review of them both (Mark 
viii. 19, 20): ‘‘ When I brake the five loaves among 
the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken 
pieces took ye up? They say to him, Twelve. And 
when the seven among the four thousand, how 
many basketfuls of broken pieces took ye up? And 
they say unto him, Seven. And he said unto them, 
Do ye not yet understand ?” 

The author who invented this soliloquy must surely 
have already found the double narrative before him. 
If so, we can detect at least four stages of development 
in this part of Mark’s Gospel :— 

1. A single original narrative of a miraculous 
feeding of several thousand people in a desert place 
off a handful of loaves and fishes. 

2. This narrative, being carelessly copied, developes 
into the two slightly different stories which we have 
before us; in the one, Jesus is taken to Dalmanutha 
after he has worked the miracle, in the other to 


Bethsaida. In the one he feeds 4,000, in the other 
5,000. ; 

3. A later compiler puts together these two parallel 
narratives in the same document, mistaking them for 
two stories of two separate events. 

4. A still later author, Mark—or whoever redacted 
this Gospel in its present form—copied out the two- 
fold narrative and added the soliloquy in which Jesus 
insists on the separateness of the two miracles. It is 
a good example of how conversations were invented 
for Jesus and his disciples. It has been argued that 
for a document to develop through so many stages a 
long time, perhaps as many generations as there are 
stages, would be necessary. But no one would so 
argue who has studied the transmission of popular 
tales in the ages which preceded printing. Four 
years would be quite enough for the development 
above traced in the narrative of Mark ; for all depends 
on how many were reading and copying out the book 
—in a word, on the amount of vogue it enjoyed; and 
that it was widely dispersed may be inferred from the 
fact of two evangelists independently using it. 

It should be remarked also that the overlapping 
in this part of Mark is not confined to this miracle, 
but affects other incidents as well, as the following 
table of doublets shows :— 

vi. 30-34 Feeding of the 5,000 = viii. 1-9 Feeding of 4,000 

vi. 45-52 Passage over lake to viii. 9-13 Passage over lake to 
Bethsaida. Jesus walks on = Dalmanutha. Cp. iv.35-41 
the water 

vii. 31-37 Cure of a deaf and ___ viii. 22-26 Cure of a blind man 
dumb person by use of spittle — by use of spittle 

Here are two sets of events which are parallel and 
follow in the same order, though in the passage to 
Dalmanutha there is no miracle of walking on the 

water. At vi. 53-vii. 80 other matter has been 
inserted in the first half of the doublet, as it has been 
at viii. 14-21 in the second half. 

At first sight the miracle of healing the blind man, 
vill. 22-26, would appear to be a different miracle to 
vil. 31-37, where it is a deaf and dumb person who is 
healed ; but if the two passages are set side by side, 
they are seen to be mere variants of one and the same 
original. Let us so set them, italicising them where 
they present a literary connection with each other :— 

Marx vii. 31-36. 

And again he went out from the 
borders of Tyre, and came through 
Sidon unto the sea of Galilee, 
through the midst of the borders 
of Decapolis. And they bring to 
him one that was deaf and had an 
impediment in his speech; and 
they beseech him to lay his hand 
on him. And he took him aside 
from the multitude privately, and 
put his fingers into his ears, and 
he spat and touched his tongue; 
and he looked upto heaven, and 
sighed, and saith unto him, Eph- 
phatha, that is, Be opened. And 
his ears were opened, and the 
bond of his tongue was loosed, 
and he spake plain. And he 
charged them that they should 
tell no man; but the more he 
charged them, so much the more 
a great deal they published it. 

Mark viii. 22-26. 

And they come into Bethsaida. 
And they bring to him a blind 
man, and beseech him to touch 
him. And he took hold of the 
blind man by the hand, and 
brought him out of the village; 
and when he had spit on his eyes, 
and laid his hands on him, he 
asked him, Seest thou aught? 
And he looked wp, and said, I see 
men ; for I behold (them) as trees 
walking. Then again he laid his 
hands on his eyes ; and he looked 
steadfastly, and was restored, and 
saw all things clearly. And he 
sent him away to his home, saying, 
Do not even enter into the village. 

The verbal identities which connect the above narra- 
tives and prove them to be mere variants of a single 
original are more obvious in the Greek than in a 
translation. But even in it we realise the identity in 
the two incidents of mise en scéne and locality ; for 
Sidon, as Wellhausen has shown, is an error for 
Saidan—i.e., Bethsaida. In both places they bring 
the patient to Jesus and beseech him to lay his hand 


on him, or—what is the same thing—to touch him. 
In both cases Jesus takes the patient apart from the 
throng or away from the village, and uses his own 
spittle as a remedy, putting his fingers in the one 
case into the ears, in the other laying them on the 
eyes. In the one case it is Jesus who looks up, in the 
other the patient; but the Greek phrase is identical. 
Both stories end with the same injunction of secrecy. 

Such doublets as the above must perplex half- 
educated people who have been brought up to believe 
that the Gospels are documents specially inspired, 
essentially true in what they relate, incapable of error, 
and not to be classed with the rest of ancient bio- 
graphical literature. For they show that the Gospels 
have grown up very much in the same manner as 
other half-legendary histories of popular heroes. In 
the Alexander romance, in any life of a popular saint, 
in any collection of folklore tales, we are sure to find 
one original story told in two or more different ways. 
The two variants generally arise through oral repe- 
tition of the tale; but they may be engendered almost 
as easily inside of the written tradition. In either 
case a later story-teller—especially one who, like the 
compiler of the narratives before us, is anxious to 
relate as many miracles of his hero as he can—is sure, 
sooner or later, to incorporate in his book both forms 
of the one story as if they were separate stories of 
distinct episodes. 

We have selected, as illustrations, the two most 
striking examples to be found in Mark of overlapping 
narratives; but others exist. Thus in ix. 36 Jesus 
“took a little child and set him in the midst of them, 
and, taking him in his arms, he said to them, Whosoever 
shall receive one of such little children in my name, 


receweth me,’ 



Another form of the same story 

meets us in the very next chapter, x. 18: ‘‘ And they 
brought unto him little children....... And he took them 
in his arms” and said, ‘‘ Whosoever shall not receive 

the kingdom of God as a little child,’ ete. 

And in another way it can be shown that Mark’s 
Gospel is not an original document, but one compiled 

from earlier sources. 

Just as inside of it there are 

narratives which overlap each other, so there are parts 
of it which overlap, and are in literary agreement 
with, parts of the non-Marcan document as it may be 

reconstructed from the first and third Gospels. 
us consider an example :— 

Marx xii. 38-40. 

And in his 
teaching, he 
said, Beware of 
the scribes, 
which desire to 
walk in long 
robes, and salu- 
tations in the 
market - places, 
and chief seats 
in the syna- 
gogues, and chief 
places at feasts : 
they who devour 
widows’ houses, 
and for a pre- 
tence make long 
prayers; these 
shall receive 
greater condem- 

MATTHEW xxiii. 
1, foll. 

Then spake 
Jesus to the 
multitudes and 
to his disciples, 
saying, The 
scribes and the 
Pharisees sit on 
Moses’ seat... 
.-But all their 
works they do 
to be seen of 
men: for they 
make broad 
their phylacte- 
ries, and _ en- 
large the borders 
(of their gar- 
ments),and love 
the chief places 
at feasts,. and 
the chief seats 
in the syna- 
gogues, and 
salutations in 
the market- 
places..... Woe 
untoyou, Scribes 
and Pharisees, 
for ye are like 

LvukKE xi. 37, 

Now as he 
spake, a Phari- 
see asked him 
to breakfast 
with him, and 
he went in and 
sat down to 
meat. .... Woe 
unto you Phari- 
sees! for ye love 
the chief seats in 
the synagogues, 
and the saluta- 
tions in the 
market - places. 
Woe unto you! 
for ye are as the 
tombs which 
appear not, and 
the men that 
walk over know 
it not. 


Luxe xx. 45-47. 

And in the 
hearing of all 
the people he 
said unto his 

disciples, Br- 



unto whited 
which outward- 
ly appear beauti- 
ful, butinwardly 
are full of dead 
men’s ___ bones, 
and of all un- 
cleanness. Even 
so ye out- 
wardly appear 
righteous unto 

In the above, notice that Luke, in xx. 45-47, copies 
integrally Mark xii. 38-40, and sets the saying in 
the same background as Mark. But in xi. 48 he has 
already had the saying about chief seats and saluta- 
tions, appending to it the saying about tombs, which 
Matthew, though changing somewhat its purport, also 
associates therewith. It hardly admits of doubt that 
Luke found the saying about chief seats and saluta- 
tions twice in his sources—once in Mark, and again in 
the non-Marcan document—and copies both passages 
out. Matthew also found the saying twice, but rolls 
up into one the two sources which here overlapped 
one another. But, if so, there must have been some 
common document underlying both Mark and the 
non-Marcan source. The two overlap in the same 
way in the story of the Baptism, of the Temptation, 
and in sundry other passages, two of which we 
considered above (pp. 54, 55, 56). 

Enough has been said. Mark, the main source of 
the first and third evangelists, is himself no original 
writer, but a compiler, who pieces together and edits 
earlier documents in which his predecessors had written 
down popular traditions of the miracles and passion 
of Jesus. Their interest had lain more in the wonders 
worked by Jesus than in his teaching, of which Mark 


preserves but little. The traditions thus collected 
were at first framed in the Aramaic tongue; for Jesus 
and his first followers, being Galileans, spoke that 
dialect, and Mark’s Greek is so full of Aramaic 
phrases, names, and idioms as to justify the contention | 
of Wellhausen and other competent Semitic scholars 
that the documents which he inherited were transla- 
tions of Aramaic originals; and the same remark 
holds good of most of the material contained in the 
non-Marcan source. 


We have seen in the previous chapter how slender, 
and also how uncritical and popular, were the traditions 
of Jesus which underlay the Gospel of Mark; and 
yet this Gospel supplied the historical framework of 
the longer Gospels associated with the names of 
Matthew the apostle, and of Luke the companion of 
Paul. ‘To the order in which the chief events of the 
ministry, passion, and death of Jesus followed one 
another, these later evangelists had no clue except 
such as Mark supplied; for the non-Marcan document 
—apart from its account of Jesus’s baptism and 
temptation—was not a history, but a collection of 
aphorisms and parables uttered by Jesus. For the 
where and when and what of Jesus’s actions these 
later writers depended on Mark; and from him is 
derived the historical plan of their Gospels. They 
forsake it occasionally, though never in unison; and 
whenever they do so, they soon return to it. That 
this is so is apparent if we set out in parallel columns 
the sections of Mark which each reproduces, preserving 
the order in which they do so. Here is the table :— 
In Matruew. In Loge. 

Mark i, 1-20.., i. 40-45.., Markit, 1-15..., 1..21-39..,,1.\40= 
i, 29-34.., iv. 35-41, v. 1-20, | iii. 19.., iv. 1-25, iii. 31-35, iv. 
ii, 1-22, v, 21-43.., iii, 13-19, | 35-43, vi. 7-44, viii. 27-ix. 50.., 
vi. 7-18. ., ii. 23-iv. 34. ., vi. 1-6, | x. 18-52.., xi. 1-xvi. 8. 
Vig LAist OO x doles xe oe 
xii. 12. ., xii. 13—xiii. 37.., xiv. 1- 
xvi. 8, 



In the above the double dots signify additions made 
by these two evangelists to the scheme of Mark. The 
matter added is usually taken from the lost non- 
Marcan source, and consists mainly of parables and 
sayings. Luke, however, adds in his chapters ix.—xix. 
much matter of his own which cannot be traced in 
Matthew, and is probably taken from some other 
than the non-Marcan source which he shared with 

It is not our object to analyse the whole of the 
three Gospels into their sources, but only to show 
that they are all three compilations from earlier 
sources. We also need to inquire how these compilers 
used their sources, how they regarded evidence, how 
they conceived of history. This train of investigation 
is especially important in the case of Luke, because 
from his pen we have got, beside his Gospel, a lengthy 
history of Peter and Paul and of the early missions 
of the Church, called Acts of the Apostles. If we can 
determine from an examination of his Gospel his 
general character and calibre as an historian, and can 
estimate how he used his sources, we shall be in a 
better position to appreciate the historical value of 

Matthew a little and Luke still more smooth down 
the somewhat rough Greek of Mark, and eliminate 
from it uncouth forms. They also remove from it 
Aramaic names and phrases, though they retain Mark’s 
translations of the same. For example, in Matthew 
ix. 18 the name Jairus is left out, in xv. 5 the word 
Corban ; in repeating Mark v. 41 both Matthew (ix. 25) 
and Luke (viii. 54) omit the words Talitha cumi, which 
mean: Maiden, I say to thee, Arise. They omit 
many indications of place given by Mark; and Luke 


in particular reveals complete ignorance of Palestinian 
geography, making Galilee part of Judea, and bringing 
Jesus into Jerusalem by way of Jericho after he has 
descended thither through Samaria. Here Mark had 
brought Jesus down from north to south through 
Perea, on the east side of Jordan, and quite rightly 
made Jericho his last halt before entering the holy 
city. Luke, however, for reasons of his own, takes 
him through Samaria to the west of the river, yet 
copies blindly out from Mark the last section of the 
itinerary, forgetting or not knowing thatit is no longer 

It is specially instructive to note differences in 
Matthew and Luke due to alteration and development 
of the beliefs and ideas which Christians entertained 
about Jesus. In Mark, it is true, Jesus had already 
become a prophet and wonder-worker, walking on 
the waters, feeding thousands off nothing, raising the 
dead, and, in general, giving those signs of his 
Messiahship which, according to Paul, the Jews 
demanded of him, but demanded in vain. Neverthe- 
less, Mark has still many stories to tell of him which 
are very human, and go far to set him on a level with 
other prophets. In Matthew and Luke, however, the 
process of deifying him before death, as Paul only 
deified him after death, has already begun. They both 
try to sublimate his character, and to eliminate traits 
of common humanity retained by Mark. In so doing 
they point the way for the fourth Gospel, in which 
the divine Reason, or Logos, masquerades across the 
stage in human form, an insipid figure muttering 
oracles over the heads of his audience, a Christ who 
no longer weeps or prays except to the gallery. 
Painters of sacred pictures are apt to delineate as 


Christ a weak, vapid, languid Syrian. As a man of 
flesh and blood, as one who is good because he had it 
in him to be bad, they are not at liberty to picture 
him; as God, they obviously cannot. The wishy- 
washy Christ they are left with is the Christ of the 
fourth Gospel. This process of emasculation, then, 
has already begun in Matthew and Luke, and we 
forthwith give examples of it. 

Mark vi. 1-6 contains the following text: (1) And 
he went out from thence; and he cometh into his own 
country ; and his disciples follow him. (2) And when 
the sabbath was come, he began to teach in the syna- 
gogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, 
Whence hath this man these things? and, What is the 
wisdom that is given to this man, and such mighty works 
wrought by his hands? (8) Is not this the carpenter, 
the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and 
Judas, and Simon? And they were offended im hum. 
(4) And Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without 
honour, except in his own country, and among his own 
kin, and in his own house. (5) And he could there 
perform no mighty work, save that he lad his hand on a 
few sick folk, and healed them. (6) And he marvelled 
because of their unbelief. 

Here we have a graphic picture. The fame of 
Jesus’s doings in Capernaum has reached his own 
home and village. He goes there, but finds even his 
own family unsympathetic. His miracles are scoffed 
at. They have known him from childhood; they 
know his mother and brothers and sisters. Famili- 
arity breeds contempt. They pronounce Jesus to be 
an upstart, and make light of him and his works. 
The first condition of faith-healing is wanting, with the 
result that he is unable to do any mighty work there. 


Here is a frank admission that faith on the part of 
the sick was as essential to the cures of Jesus as it is © 
to those of Lourdes. But such an admission seemed 
sorely to derogate from the dignity of Jesus in a 
later generation, when he was becoming more divine 
than human. Luke, accordingly, omits the passage 
altogether, unless his ch. iv. 16-30 be an echo of it. 
Matthew, as usual, is more faithful to his source; but 
he is compelled to minimise the force of Mark’s words, 
and, accordingly, for verse 5 substitutes this (xiii. 58): 
** And he did not many mighty works there because of 
their unbelief ’’—suppressing the fact that he could not. 
He also substitutes the words ‘‘ Is not this the carpenter’s 
son?” for “Is not this the carpenter?” probably 
because he deemed it derogatory to attribute so 
humble a calling to so exalted a person as Jesus. 

It is, moreover, to be noticed that even the text of 
Mark has been retouched in this passage; for how 
could the same persons be astonished in verse 2 who 
are offended at him in verse 8, and have no honour or 
respect for him in verse 4, no faith in him in verse 6? 
It is clear from the context that, far from admiring 
his teaching and reputed miracles, they made light of 
them, and were outraged at the claims made in his 
behalf. It follows that some such words as ‘‘ scoffed 
at him” or “‘ mocked” must have originally stood in 
the text, and have been changed to ‘‘ were astonished.” 

Again, in Mark x. 17, 18, we read that “‘ there ran 
one to him, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good 
teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life ? 
And Jesus said unto him, Call thou me not good. None 
is good save one, even God.” 

Here we read in the manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel : 
** Why callest thow me good?” instead of the down- 


right prohibition : ‘‘ Call thow me not good.” But the 
latter stands in many citations of the passage found 
in authors older by two hundred years than our 
earliest manuscripts ; and therefore I have adhered to 
it in my translation. Long before a.p. 200 Jesus was 
_ exalted in most circles of believers to the rank of the 
sinless Word or Logos of God, the spotless lamb 
offered for men’s sins; and it was already blasphe- 
mous to suggest that he ever sinned or was capable 
of sin. Accordingly, Matthew garbles his source as 
follows (xix. 16): ‘‘ And behold, one came to him and 
said: Master, what good shall I do, that I may 
have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why askest 
thou me about that which is good? One there is who is 

Here, then, in the original text, Jesus, with the 
humility which characterises a really great teacher, 
deprecated the hasty homage of an impetuous youth, 
and hesitated to accept an epithet which a Jew could 
apportion to the divine being alone. Matthew sup- 
presses all this, and would have us believe that, in 
Jesus’s opinion, no one was able to instruct another 
about good and evil except God, because the ‘latter 
alone is good. In the same spirit, as we shall see 
later on, Matthew pretends that John declined at 
first to baptise so superior a being as he recognised 
Jesus to be, and since he cannot, after all, suppress a 
fact so well established, he omits, in iii. 4, the state- 
ment put in the forefront by Mark—namely, that the 
baptism preached by John was one of repentance for 
the remission of sins, and therefore superfluous for 
the sinless. 

Here is another example: Mark i. 32 relates how, 

at Capernaum, at even “ they brought unto him all that 


were sick and those possessed by devils,...... and he 
healed many that were afflicted with various diseases, and 
cast out many devils.” 

Here Matthew cannot tolerate the implication con- 
tained in the words all and many that the power of 
Jesus to heal knew any limits; and so he corrects 
Mark thus: ‘‘ They brought to him many possessed with 
devils, and he cast out the spirits with a word, and he 
healed all that were afflicted ; in order that there might 
be fulfilled what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, He 
took himself our infirmities and bare our diseases.” 

Matthew therefore alters Mark’s ail...... many into — 
MANY...... all; and this short passage exemplifies two 
other peculiarities of this writer. He adds de suo, 
‘from his own store,” the detail that Jesus healed 
the sick by mere word of mouth, because he does not 
wish his readers to suppose that so exalted a being 
polluted his hands by touching the sick. And this is 
probably why he omits to copy out the two cures by 
combined use of touch and spittle which Mark records 
(vii. 831-37 and viii. 22-26), and which are criticised 
above (p. 55). Perhaps, however, it was rather the 
magic use by Jesus of spittle than the actual touching 
that shocked him; for he seems to have regarded 
touching the sick as a magical practice, different from 
the act of laying hands on them; and where Mark 
x. 13 says that ‘‘ they brought to Jesus little children 
that he should touch them,” substitutes (xix. 18) ‘‘that 
he should lay his hands on them and pray.” In the 
same way the sick were in this country healed by 
king’s touch, and the Anglican Prayer-book formerly 
contained a corresponding rite. This is no longer 
printed, for religious people nowadays regard it as 
superstitious, though they retain laying on of hands 


or ordination by a bishop, regardless of the fact that 
both rites really belong to the same order of ideas, as 
I shall point out later on. 

Another peculiarity of Matthew which characterises 
this passage is the appeal to prophecy, to which we 
return lower down (p. 80). 

The Christ of Mark is still so far human that he is 
ignorant of the date even of the most important of 
future events—namely, the Second Coming; and 
accordingly, in Mark xiii. 32, we have the following: 
** When ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that 
he is nigh, even at the doors.. Verily I say unto you this 
generation shall not pass away, until all these things be 
accomplished....... But of that day or that hour knoweth 
no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, 
but only the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray : 
for ye know not when the time is.” 

Here, then, Mark, envisaging Jesus as the Son, sets 
him on the same dead level of ignorance as the rest of 
men. Matthew repeats the above passage textually 
from Mark; but, if we may trust the oldest manu- 
scripts, omits the words “‘neither the son.” Luke also 
rewrites the passage, and most carefully strikes them 
out. The ascription of human ignorance to Jesus was 
no longer tolerable when they compiled their Gospels. 

Again, as if it were derogatory, Matthew xix. 15 
suppresses the fact recorded by Mark x. 16, that Jesus 
took little children in his arms; and where Mark 
records that Jesus, looking on the over-zealous youth 
that called him good, ‘‘ loved him,’’ Matthew merely 
says, ‘“‘ Jesus said unto him.” So in xii. 13 Matthew 
suppresses the demonstration of human feeling 
recorded by Mark iii. 5. Here the Jews in the 
synagogue have blamed Jesus for healing on the 


sabbath, “‘ and when he had looked round about on them 
with anger, being grieved at their hardness of heart, he 
saith unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand,” etc. 
_ Matthew substitutes: ‘‘ Then saith he to the man, 
Stretch forth thy hand.” So in Mark i. 43 Jesus 
« sternly’ charged’ one whom he healed to say nothing 
of it to any man; but Matthew tones down the text to 
this: ‘Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man.” 
And the pedantry of suppressing merely human traits 
in Jesus extends even to the least details. Thus 
(Mark ii. 5) Jesus addresses a palsied man who believed 
in him as follows: ‘Child, thy sins are forgiven”; and 
in x. 24, in addressing his disciples, he begins 
“« Children.” This seemed too familiar to Matthew, 
and in the corresponding passages (ix. 6 and xix. 24) 
he omits child and children. Conversely, in Matthew 
and Luke the disciples are made to address Jesus by 
grander titles than in Mark. Thus, in Mark iv. 38 
they say during the storm when they have waked him 
from sleep:*‘‘ Teacher (didaskalos), art thou not con- 
cerned lest we perish?’ Luke, transcribing the passage, 
substitutes ‘‘ Master, master (epistatés), we are perish- 
ing”; for ‘‘ teacher’? seemed too familiar to him. 
Matthew, transcribing the passage, still further 
improves on it, and substitutes ‘“O Lord (Kyrie) 
save us, we are perishing.” Similarly, in Mark ix. 5 
Peter says: ‘‘ Rabbi, it ts good for us to be here.” 
But Luke already regarded Jesus as better than 
a mere Rabbi, so he substitutes, as before, the 
word epistatés, which means master or over-lord; 
and Matthew, as before, substitutes Lord. Such 
alterations may seem insignificant, but to the 
careful student they are as straws which show which 
way the wind is blowing ; and in the last two decades 


of the first century, when the Gospels of Matthew and 
Luke were compiled, it was blowing hard towards the 
deification of Jesus. The Christian world was rapidly 
losing sight of the historical man of Nazareth, and 
beginning to substitute a theological figment. i 

One of the most striking and authentic passages in 
the Gospel is Mark iii. 20+35. Jesus, in his missionary 
enterprise, has achieved great success in Galilee, 
whither many from such far regions and cities as 
Jerusalem, Idumea, from beyond Jordan, from Tyre 
and Sidon, flock to witness his exorcisms of evil 
spirits; for he exercised such an authority over these 
and received from them such homage and acknowledg- 
ment as none of the Scribes and Pharisees, who yet 
presumed to lay down the law for the people. Be it 
observed in passing that many of the latter must, as 
educated men, have regarded the popular belief in 
devils as a vulgar superstition; and Philo, the literary 
Jew of Alexandria, an exact contemporary of Jesus, 
did so; so also did the author of the fourth Gospel, 
who scrupulously banishes them from his romance. 
John, to be quite accurate, ascribes the belief not to 
Jesus, but to the Jews, whom he represents as accusing ~ 
Jesus of having a devil and being mad (John x. 20; cf. 
John yii. 20, vili. 48-52). Of Jesus’s many exorcisms 
of demons, and of all his parleys with them, this . 
Gospel contains not a word. Its author deemed . 
contact with lower spirits to be derogatory of the 
dignity of the Logos or Word incarnate, and rigorously 
suppresses all memory of this aspect of Jesus’s 

Demonological superstition, however, is almost 
wholly absent from the Old Testament; and this was 
an additional reason why the Scribes and Pharisees, 


who were nurtured on the Jewish Scriptures, should 
neither have practised the exorcistic art nor have 
- encouraged the beliefs which underlie it. But Jesus 
was certainly by his followers regarded as the vehicle 
and agent of a pure power or divine spirit of which 
the unclean spirits or demons were afraid; and an 
early tradition held that he* received this power at 
baptism, and perfected it during the forty days of 
temptation in the wilderness. He was probably gifted 
to excess with that mysterious faculty of influencing 
the nervous system and the emotions (rather than the 
reason) of others with which we are to-day familiar in 
the case of so-called mesmerists. 

In the same way Mohammed claimed that the spirit 
of God worked through him and led him on in what- 
ever he did; and it was only because the clans of 
Arabia coalesced in this belief, and combined to have 
faith in him in this sense, that, on the eve of his 
death, they were able to forget their feuds and unite 
their forces for the conquest of an unbelieving world. 

Now, there is only one way in which a prophet 
advancing such claims can be combated, so to speak, 
with his own weapons; and that is by declaring him 
to be mad; for this charge is at once an admission 
that a higher than human spirit and will animates 
him and utters itself through him, and a denial that 
the said spirit is a pure or divine, or, as we say 
nowadays, @ sane spirit. And this, it appears from 
Mark, was the very charge now made against Jesus by 
his own household, by his own mother and brethren. 
The following is the passage, Mark iii. 20 foll.: “* And 
he cometh into a house. And the multitude cometh 
together again, so that they could not so much as eat 
bread. And when his family heard of it, they went out 


to take and restrain him ; for they said, He is out of his 

Here is inserted in the text a digression suggested 
by the last words, to the effect that the Scribes of 
Jerusalem declared that Jesus himself was possessed 
by Beelzebub, the prince of devils, and as such was 
able to cast out devils. Jesus answers that there is 
too much solidarity among the demons for their ruler 
to take part against his own minions. He has first 
bound the strong one, Satan, or he could not despoil 
his mansion. He adds that all blasphemies against 
God shall be forgiven, but that they who accuse him 
of having an unclean spirit shall never be forgiven, 
because they have blasphemed the holy spirit, the 
finger of God (Luke xi. 20) of which he is the vehicle 
and organ. Invery similar terms Mohammed rebuked 
those who alleged him to be possessed by an evil 
spirit. The family of Jesus, in asserting him to be 
out of his mind, launched the same accusation against 
him, and so were guilty of the same unforgivable 
offence as the Scribes. Accordingly, Mark now 
returns to the family, and describes how they came to 
take him, as follows (iii. 81): ‘‘ And there come his 
mother and his brethren, and, standing without, they 
sent unto him, calling him. And a multitude was 
sitting about him; and they say unto him, Behold, thy 
mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he 
answereth them, and saith: Who is my mother and my 
brethren? And looking round on them which sat round 
about him, he saith: Behold, my mother and my 
brethren! For, whosoever shall do the will of God, the 
same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” 

And this is not the only passage in which Mark 
records the indifference, even the hostility, to the 


young prophet of his own family. In vi. 4 (see p. 68) 
he allows Jesus to comment with extreme bitterness 
on the reception accorded him in his own village: 
‘“A prophet is not without honour save m his own 
country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” 
We have seen that Matthew garbles, and Luke omiis 
the latter passage. Let us see how they deal with 
the one before us. In the first place, then, they both 
omit Mark iii. 19-21, for in their generation it was 
become scandalous to suppose that his own family 
could have set out to restrain Jesus as a madman. 
How acutely the scandal is still felt by orthodox 
Christians may be measured by the fact that the 
authors of the revised English version, recently issued 
by the Episcopal Churches of England and America, 
have falsified the text of Mark iii. 21, rendering the 
Greek words of rap avrov by his friends instead of 
his household or his family. Yet the old authorised 
version of 1611 correctly sets in the margin Wyclifi’s 
rendering his kinsmen. 

The revisers, in their preface, declare their aim to be 
to keep to the older text, ‘‘and to introduce as few altera- 
tions as possible, consistently with faithfulness.’’ Their 
‘‘ faithfulness’ has in this case not prevented them 
from trying to deceive English readers who cannot 
read Greek. Dr. Swete, Regius Professor of Divinity 
in the University of Cambridge and author of a 
learned commentary on this Gospel, rightly observes, 
in his note on this passage, that the Greek phrase 
admits of no other interpretation than ‘those of 
his own family,’ and weakly seeks to palliate the 
conduct of the mother of Jesus by supposing that, on 
this occasion, she allowed herself to be over-persuaded 
by his brethren. 




After suppression of verse 21, the subsequent 
episode, Mark iii. 31-35, could be related with less 
scandal; for the bitter sense of the contrast drawn 
between the physical kinsmen and those who do the 
will of God is hidden from the reader, and it admits 
of being read as a bit of mere edification. Accordingly, 
Matthew and Luke retain these verses, though not 
without modification. Thus Matthew (xii. 46) turns 
Mark iii. 81 thus: ‘“‘ While he was still speaking to the 
multitudes, behold his mother and brethren stood without 
seeking to speak with him.” So they have not come 
to arrest him, but merely to converse with him. 
According to Mark, ‘‘ they sent to him calling him,” as 
if he was still young enough to be amenable to their 
authority. Luke equally conceals the real object of 
their mission, for he writes thus (viii. 19, 20): ‘* And 
his mother came nigh him, and his brethren, and they 
could not reach him because of the crowd. And it was 
told him, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, 
destring to see thee.” 

Secondly, we must notice the changes here made 
by Matthew and Luke in the order of the narrative. 
In Mark the accusation preferred by his family against 
Jesus that he was mad, and their attempt to restrain 
him, gain in point and significance by the intercala- 
tion of verses 22-30, which relate how the scribes had 
already come from Jerusalem on the same occasion, 
and, as it were, uniting forces with his mother and 
brethren, ‘‘ said, He hath Beelzebub,” and, ‘‘ By the 
prince of the devils he casteth out the devils.’ Matthew, 
no doubt in order to remove the sinister effect of Mark’s 
narrative, separates the remarks of the scribes (for 
whom he substitutes Pharisees) and Jesus’s answer to 
them from the visit of his mother and brethren 


(Mark iii. 31-35 = Matthew xii. 46-50) by verses 338-45 
of his ch. xii., in which the sign of Jonah the prophet 
and other matters are spoken of; and he causes the 
Pharisees to adduce their calumny in two passages 
which really duplicate one another, first on the occa- 
sion of Jesus’s healing a deaf and dumb man, thus 
(Matthew xii. 22): “ Then was brought unto him one 
possessed with a devil, blind and dumb: and he healed 
him, insomuch that the dumb man spake and saw......- 
But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This man 
doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub, the prince of the 
devils,” etc.; and again, on an earlier but similar 
occasion, ch. ix. 832-84, where he seems to reproduce 
the non-Marcan source which he shares with Luke. 

Luke, however, wholly separates the visit of the 
mother and brethren (Mark iii. 31-35) from the 
passage about Beelzebub, and brings it in as a sort of 
appendix to Mark iv. 1-25, so inverting Mark’s order, 
for Mark iii. 31-85=Luke viii. 19 to end, and 
Mark iv. 1-25=Luke viii. 4-18. Luke brings 
in the accusations about Beelzebub later on in 
ch. xi. 14-26, and does not, like Matthew, duplicate 
them; he, in effect, combines Matthew ix. 32-34 
(= Matthew xii. 22-24) with Matthew xii. 25-29 and 
xi. 43-45 in a way that shows that he had a common 
source with Matthew which recounted the whole 
episode somewhat as Mark does, and so overlapped 
Mark. The correspondences of the three Gospels 
may be represented as follows :-— 

Matthew (nil) Mark iii. 20, 21 Luke (nil) 

Matthew ix, 32-34= | Mark iii. 22 ' | Luke xi. 14, 15 
Matthew xii. 22-24 

Matthew xii. 24-29 Mark iii. 23-27 Luke xi, 17-22 

Matthew xii. 30 (non- | Nil Luke xi. 23 

Marcan source) 
Matthew xii, 31, 32 Mark iii, 28-30 Luke xii. 10 


Matthew xii. 43-45 | Nil Luke xi. 24-26 
Matthew xii. 46-50 Mark iii. 31-35 Luke viii. 19-21 (= 
Luke xi, 27-28, 

It is clear that Luke has preserved in its right 
place the paragraph in which the non-Marcan source 
threw Jesus’s repudiation of the physical mother who 
had voted him to be insane. It is as follows (Luke 
x1. 27, 28): ‘“‘ And it came to pass, as-he said these 
things, a certain woman out of the multitude lifted up 
her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that 
bare thee, and the breasts which thow didst suck. But 
he said, Nay, rather are blessed they that hear the word 
of God, and keep it.” 

Here Jesus rebukes his mother in even bitterer 
terms than he uses in the Marcan form of the story. 
I have dwelt at such length on this episode, because 
it so well illustrates the growth of opinion about Jesus 
which went on in the early Church and the inter- 
relations of the earliest documents. The passage, 
Mark iii. 21, is of extreme interest in view of the 
legends which soon sprang up about the mother of 
Jesus. Ido not wish to throw stones at the Catholic 
religion, and rather sympathise than otherwise with 
a Jewish friend who remarked to me once that, if he 
were minded to say his prayers to another human 
being, he would as lief address them to a Jewess as to 
a Jew; at the same time I may be pardoned for 
drawing the reader’s attention to the wide gulf which 
separates these passages from the Mariolatry which 
has been the staple of the Christian cult ever since 
the fifth century. 

Faithful to this tendency in certain passages of 


Matthew, the text of Mark is not merely changed, 
but added to, in order to magnify the supernatural 
power and réle of Jesus. Thus Mark xiv. 47 
relates that, when Jesus was arrested by a multitude 
sent out against him with swords and staves by the 
chief priests and scribes and elders, one of the partisans 
of Jesus ‘‘ drew his sword and smote the servant of the 
high priest and struck off his ear.”’ That is all that 
Mark had to tell of the episode. But Matthew cannot 
let it end there, and invents the following speech for 
Jesus as appropriate to the occasion: ‘‘ Then saith 
Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into its place: 
for all they that take the sword shall perish by the sword. 
Or thinkest thou that I cannot beseech my Father, and 
he shall even now send me more than twelve legions of 
angels? How, then, should the Scriptures be fulfilled, 
that thus it must be?” 

And, as we are concerned with this episode, we may 
notice that Luke, equally with Matthew, felt himself 
ealled upon to improve on the story, and so he makes 
this addition (Luke xxii. 51): “But Jesus answered 
and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, 
and healed him.” 

The Greek text implies that he instantly set the 
man’s ear on again! Luke is careful to tell us just 
before (verse 49) that the swordsman had asked per- 
mission of Jesus to commit the assault: ‘‘ Lord, shall 
we smite with the sword ?”’—a pure invention of his 

We are not dealing here with the fourth Gospel, but 
we may note how, in this scene of Jesus’s arrest, it 
excels Matthew and Luke in fanciful exaggeration; 
for, when the band of soldiers and officers appear to 
arrest him, Jesus asks, ‘Whom seek ye? They 


answer, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am 
he” (John xviii. 5). ‘‘ When therefore he said unto 
them, I am he, they recoiled and fell to the ground.” 
So powerful was the effluence of Jesus’s majesty that 
a whole cohort of soldiers, when they draw nigh to 
arrest him, are hurled backward by it and thrown to 
the ground! In the same strain of exaggeration the 
fourth Gospel relates that Nicodemus, in anointing the 
corpse of Jesus, used up about 100 litres of myrrh 
and aloes—enough for the interment perhaps of ten 
ordinary mortals. In the same way, according to 
this Gospel, he turned as much water into wine at 
Cana of Galilee as would fill several modern watering- 
carts. Matthew is more interested than Mark in 
Jesus’s teaching, yet he is not less fond of marvels, 
and does not scruple to improve upon his source in 
this respect. Thus, in Mark vi. 45-52, we have a 
story of how the disciples, alone in a boat by them- 
selves by night on the lake of Galilee, were beset by 
a headwind ; and about the fourth watch of the night 
Jesus came walking on the sea, with the intention of 
passing by them and reaching their destination before 
them. And they saw him walking on the sea, and 
thought it was a ghost, and cried out. But he 
answered, ‘‘ Be of good courage; it is I, be not afraid.” 
Then he embarked on the ship with them, and the 
wind fell. This is all Mark relates; but Matthew sees 
his way, at this point, to ‘‘ point a moral and improve 
a tale,” and after the words ‘be not afraid” adds the 
following: ‘‘ But Peter answered him and said, Lord, if 
it be thou, bid me come unto thee upon the waters. And 
he said, Come. And Peter got out of the boat, and 
walked upon the waters and came to Jesus. But, seeing 
the wind, he was frightened ; and, beginning to sink, 


cried out, saying, Lord save me. And instantly Jesus 
stretched forth his hand and took hold of him and said, 
O thow of little faith, why didst thou hesitate? And 
when they had embarked in the boat the wind fell.” 

There is a passage in the 21st chapter of the fourth 
Gospel—a chapter added later than the rest by some 
early editor—which seems to contain the germ of this 
miraculous story. Itis this: ‘‘ Simon Peter saith unto 
them [the other disciples], I go a-fishing. They say 
unto him, We also come with thee. They went forth, and 
entered into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. 
But when day was now breaking Jesus stood on the 
beach: howbeit the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 
een That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved saith unto 
Peter, It is the Lord. So when Simon Peter heard that 
it was the Lord, he girt his coat about him (for he was 
naked) and cast himself into the sea. But the other 
disciples came in the little boat—for they were not far 
from the land, but about 200 cubits off—dragging the net 
full of fishes....... Simon Peter therefore went up (into the 
boat) and drew the net to land.” 

The above story corresponds too closely with 
Matthew xiv. 22-33 for us to suppose that it is of 
independent origin. In both the disciples are in a 
boat on the Sea of Galilee; Jesus approaches, and at 
first they fail to recognise him; but, when they do, 
Peter jumps into the sea. But in the Johannine form 
the particular miraculous element disappears which 
characterises Matthew. The boat is close to shore, 
and Peter jumps in’ with the intention of wading 
through the shallow water. Had he meant to swim 
he would not have put on his coat. Nor does Jesus 
walk on the sea, but stands on the shore. It is 
dangerous to try to rationalise any of the wonderful 


stories which the Synoptists relate; we may rather 
marvel that, in narratives which arose in so credulous 
an age and country, miracles are not more plentiful. 
Nevertheless, it really looks as if the author of this 
additional chapter of the fourth Gospel had got hold 
of a tale which is the prius of Matthew’s story. If, in 
the Greek text of Mark, we change the preposition epi 
into para, we should get the meaning that Jesus came 
walking along the shore of the sea, and not on the sea. 
As the wind was against them, he might well catch 
them up and outdistance them; and Peter’s object in 
jumping out would be to join Jesus on the land, which 
must have been close at hand for them to discern the 
figure of Jesus during the night. Perhaps para was 
the original reading. There can be no doubt, how- 
ever, that Matthew wished to enhance the miracle as 
he found it related in Mark. 

In another passage Matthew accumulates stupen- 
dous miracles where his source, Mark, is comparatively 
modest. The latter relates (xv. 38) that, when Jesus 
breathed his last on the cross, “‘ the veil [or screen] of 
the temple was rent asunder from top to bottom.” 
Matthew (xxvii. 51-52) repeats this verbally, and 
adds, out of the fulness of his own store, the following: 
¢ And the earth did quake; and the rocks were rent; and 
the tombs were opened ; and many bodves of. the saints 
that had fallen asleep were raised ; and coming forth 
out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered into 
the holy city and appeared unto many.” 

Of this group of miracles Mark had never heard, 
nor Luke, though they are as addicted to wonders as 
Matthew. Even from the author of the fourth Gospel, 
who is inclined to ‘‘break the record”’ in such matters, 
it was still hidden when he wrote in the last decade of 


the first century or in the first decade of the second. 

One feature of Matthew’s narrative remains to be 
noticed—namely, what has been called his prophetic 
gnosis; that is, the perpetual attempt to see in what 
Jesus did, or said, or suffered, the fulfilment of old 
Jewish prophecies of the Messiah. This style of 
argument is, of course, addressed to Jews who hesitated 
to accept Jesus as the Christ or Messiah. We do not 
encounter in Mark this argument from prophecy, as 
it is called ; but Matthew caps almost every incident 
which he copies from Mark with some Old Testament 
text or other, always mangled, misunderstood, and 
misapplied, in order to make it seem to fit. Ina few 
cases this leads to the strangest results. Let us take 
as an example the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jeru- 
salem shortly before his crucifixion, for his account of 

which Matthew had no source other than Mark :— 

Marx xi. 1-7. 

(1) And when they draw nigh 
unto Jerusalem....he sendeth 
two of his disciples, and saith unto 
them, Go your way into the 
village that is over against you; 
and straightway as ye enter it, ye 
shall find a colt tied, whereon no 
man ever yet sat; loose him, and 
bring him. And if anyone say 
unto you, Why do ye this? say 
ye, The Lord hath need of him; 
and straightway he will send him 
back hither. And they went away, 
and found a colt tied at the door 
without in the open street; and 
they loose him. And certain of 
them that stood there said unto 
them, What do ye, loosing the 
coli? And they said unto them 
even as Jesus had said, and they 
let them go. And they bring the 
colt to Jesus, and they cast on 
him their garments; and he sat 
upon him. 

Martruew xxi. 1-7. 

And when they drew nigh unto 
Jerusalem....Jesus sent two dis- 
ciples, saying unto them, Go into 
the village that is over against 
you, and straightway ye shall find 
an ass tied, and a colt with her; 
loose (them) and bring (them) 
unto me. And if anyone say 
aught to you, ye shall say, The 
Lord hath need of them; and 
straightway he will send them. 

Now this is come to pass, that 
it might be fulfilled which was 
spoken by the prophet, saying :— 

Tell ye the daughter of Sion, 

Behold, the king cometh to thee, 

Meek, and riding on an ass, 

And upon a colt the foal of an 

And the disciples went, and did 
even as Jesus appointed for them, 
and they brought the ass, and the 
colt, and put on them their 
garments; and he sat upon them. 


It is well to premise that you probably could not ride 
into the ancient Jerusalem, any more than into the 
modern, on any animal but an ass, so narrow and low 
are oriental streets and gateways. Moreover, in those 
lands in ancient times, as in modern, everyone who 
could afford it rode on an ass. It was, therefore, 
nothing exceptional for Jesus to enter the city in that 
manner. But to Matthew all he did was exceptional ; 
his least action must fulfil some prediction or another 
about the Messiah to come uttered in ages long past. 
He therefore searched the Scriptures, and hit upon 
this text of Zechariah ix. 9. Now Zechariah, like 
other Hebrew poets, threw his wisdom into groups of 
two or three balanced clauses, of which, as a rule, the 
second and third repeat, though in different words, 
the gist of the first. Thus the passage before us, if 
rightly translated from the Hebrew, begins thus :— 
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion ; 
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem. 

These two clauses say the same thing in different 
words, for the daughter of Zion is no other than the 
daughter of Jerusalem, and one who rejoiced greatly 
shouted with joy. By the same rule, a Hebrew poet 
could not speak simply of an ass; that was too prosaic. 
He must add epexegetically that it was a colt and foal 
of an ass; and the Hebrew rightly turned here has 
the following sense: ‘‘ and riding on an ass, even upon 
a colt the foal of an ass.” 

Matthew, not understanding the methods of Semitic 
poetry, commits the mistake of supposing Zechariah 
to have intended two distinct animals, a she ass and 
its foal; and, on the basis of this error, he boldly sets 
out to rewrite Mark’s account. The two disciples will 

find nota single ass, but a she ass tethered and her colt 


with her. The Lord needs them both. Their owner 
will send them. ‘The disciples lead back the she ass 
and her colt, they lay their garments on both of them, 
and, mounted on both of them, according to Matthew, 
Jesus makes his entry into Jerusalem ! 

The revised version renders the last of the Greek 
words in this passage—epan6 autdn—by thereon, as if it 
was on the clothes, and not on both animals, that 
Jesus sat. But here Mark has epautén, ‘on him”— 
i.e., on the ass. It follows that Matthew’s phrase 
means “‘on the asses.” In any case, the clothes had 
been laid on both animals; so that, if Jesus sat on the 
clothes, he sat on the asses as well. Here, as often, 
these revisers were barely honest. 

CHapTer VI. 

Ir remains to exemplify Luke’s method of handling 
his sources. We have already seen that he shows the 
same tendency as Matthew to sublimate the figure of 
Jesus and eliminate from the record all manifestations 
of human emotion and weakness, at the same time 
that he magnifies the gifts of intuition and second 
sight which he supposes his hero to derive from his 
spiritual illumination in the Jordan. One great 
difference is at once apparent. In Mark, the Messiah- 
ship of Jesus is at first latent. He, indeed, receives 
it at baptism through the anointing with the Spirit, 
but only the demons, with their superhuman keenness 
of vision, can recognise it; it is hidden from his 
disciples, and not until the end of the Galilean 
ministry does Peter acclaim him Messiah, and even 
then in a manner that shows him to be alien to the 
profounder and more spiritual conception of a suffer- 
ing Messiah which, if not Jesus himself, at any rate 
Paul had adopted. Luke will have none of this latency, 
nor will he permit Jesus to begin his ministry and 
achieve his first successes in Capernaum. On the 
contrary, he relates that Jesus began his career by 
standing up in the synagogue of his own village of 
Nazareth, and there and then proclaiming himself to 
be the Messiah foretold by the prophet Isaiah. He 
opened the roll of the prophets, we are told, and read 
the words: ‘‘ The spirit of the Lord is upon me, 

84 LUKE 

because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings to 
the poor,” etc. Then he addressed the congregation, 
who sat with their eyes fastened on him, and said: 
“* To-day hath this Scripture been fulfilled in your ears.” 

The sequel of this narrative reveals, by its self-con- 
tradictions and inconsequences, the fancifulness of the 
entire incident. ‘‘ All,’’ so we read, “‘ bare him witness, 
and wondered at the words of grace which proceeded out 
of his mouth.” What more in the way of acknowledg- 
ment could Jesus desire, even though they did add the 
words, ‘‘ Is not this Joseph’s son?” But Jesus is not 
satisfied with their universal approval, and launches 
himself at once into the following outburst, as petulant 
as if is, under the circumstances, inept: ‘‘ Doubtless 
ye will say unto me this parable, Physician, heal thyself ? 
whatsoever we have heard of as done at Capernawm, do 
also here in thine own country. And he said, Verily I 
say unto you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country.” 
‘ Observe how, without giving his countrymen time 
to accept him, he thrusts a quarrel on them, and talks 
himself into a rage, when as yet they have done 
nothing but wonder at his words of grace. In the 
reference to Capernaum, however, verse 28, Luke 
fairly betrays himself. For, according to his own 
text, Jesus only goes to Capernaum later on in verse 
31, when he is expelled by force from Nazareth. How 
does Luke know of Jesus’s brilliant achievements in 
Capernaum? Only from Mark, who takes him to 
Capernaum first, and then to Nazareth. It follows 
that in the Nazarene synagogue they could not have 
heard of achievements which at this stage, even of 
Luke’s narrative, much more of his informant’s, were 
not yet achieved. The words, then, ‘‘ Whatsoever we 
have heard of as done at Capernaum,” attributed to 

those who listened to him in the synagogue at 
Nazareth, involve a hysteron proteron, or, a8 we say, 
put the cart before the horse; but, if this is so, then 
this entire scene in the home synagogue is a literary 
fiction rather carelessly contrived. We note also that 
Luke could not get away, even when he would, from 
the ground-plan of events laid down for him by Mark, 
his dependence on whom will out, even when he waves 
aside his order of narrative. 

In the rest of his speech Jesus continues to upbraid 
his countrymen, contrasting them unfavourably with 
the pagans of Syria, and indicating his preference for 
the latter. Smal! wonder that his words goad his 
audience, which had begun by admiring his words of 
grace, into indignation: Verses 28-81: ‘‘ And they 
were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard 
these things ; and they rose up, and cast him forth out of 
the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon 
their city was built, that they might throw him down 
headlong. But he passing through the midst of them 
went his way. And he came down to Capernaum, a city 
of Galilee.” 

It was more dramatic to set the rejection of Jesus 
by his own people before the Capernaum ministry 
rather than after it, as Mark had done. But in doing 
so Luke bungles his story in such a manner as to 
reveal his ultimate dependence on Mark for his order 
of events; and so we are put on our guard. We shall 
suspect him, whenever he departs from Mark’s order, 
of inventing scene and conversation alike, as here. 
From the very beginning, then, of his Gospel Luke 
appears as a picturesque writer seeking for effect; and 
the speeches put into the mouth of his persone dramatis 
are as freely invented as the incidents. It is useless 

86 LUKE 

for certain scholars and archeologists to extol him as 
a Christian Thucydides. This single example of his 
method serves to put us on our guard against extrava- 
gant eulogiums. He shares with Thucydides a good 
style and the faculty of inventing speeches, but nothing 
else. But let us proceed to further examples of his 
skill in inventing incidents, and even institutions. 
Mark relates, in iii. 18-19 and vi. 5-18, how Jesus 
chose out twelve apostles, and laid down certain 
precepts which they were to follow in their missionary 
journeys. The non-Marcan source, used by Matthew 
and Luke, also related the same episode. Now, 
Matthew, when he found the same incident described 
in both his sources, was accustomed to weave them 
together into a single narrative; and we can usually, 
thanks to our possession of Mark and Luke, separate, 
without much difficulty, from one another the sources 
used by Matthew in such compound narratives. We 
can do so here. Luke, on the other hand, was prone to 
keep the Marcan and the non-Marcan accounts apart; 
and, if he could, to turn them into separate histories 
of distinct events. This he does here; but how could 
twelve apostles be chosen and instructed about their 
missions twice over? Luke gets out of this difficulty 
in this way. He keeps the Marcan record of the ~ 
appointment of twelve apostles, but turns the non- 
Marcan record of the same incident into the story of 
a call and appointing of seventy disciples, who were 
to missionise the seventy tribes into whom the whole 
world of Gentiles was popularly supposed to be 
divided, just as the twelve were to missionise the 
twelve tribes of Israel. If we confront the texts of 
the three Gospels, we see at once that the mission of 
the seventy was originally no more than a textual 



variant of the mission of the twelve; is, in fact, just a 
creation of Luke’s inventive fancy. 
table the Marcan element is given in italics, the non- 
Marcan in capitals :— 

Marruew ix. 37, 38. 

his disciples, Tur Har- 

Marruew x. 1 foll. 

And he called unto 
him his twelve dis- 
ciples, and GAVE THEM 
authority over unclean 
spirits, to cast them 
out, and to HEAL all 
manner of DISEASE and 
all manner of sickness. 
Now the names of the 
twelve apostles are 
tEB EG) ./.'5.050 These 
twelveJesus sent forth, 
and charged them, 
saying, Go not into 
any way of the Gen- 
tiles, and enter not 
into any city of the 
Samaritans; but go 
rather to the lost 
sheep of the house of 
Israel. And as ye go, 
PREACH, saying, THE 
nicgH. H&A THE SICK, 
raise the dead, cleanse 
the lepers, cast out 
devils: freely ye re- 
ceived, freely give. 
Get you no gold, nor 
SILVER, nor brass in 
your belts; no wallet 

Marx iii. 14 foll. 

And he appointed 
twelve, that they 
might be with him, 
and that he might 
send them forth to 
preach, and to have 
authority to cast out 
devils, whom also he 
named apostles..... 
(the names follow). 

Marx vi. 7-13. 

And he called unto 
him the twelve, and 
began to send them 
forth two by two; and 
he gave them autho- 
rity over unclean 
spirits; and he charged 
them to take nothing 
for their journey, save 
a staff only ; no bread, 
no wallet, no brass in 
their belt, but (to go) 
shod with sandals: 
and (said he), put not 
on two coats. And 
he said unto them, 
Wheresoever ye enter 
into a house, there 
abide till ye depart 
thence. And whatso- 
ever place shall not 
receive you, and they 
hear you not, as ye 
go forth thence, shake 
off the dust that is 
under your feet for a 
testimony unto them. 
And they went out, 
and preached that 
men should repent. 
And they cast out 

In the following 

Luxe vi. 13 foll. 

And when it was 
day, he called his dis- 
ciples: and he chose 
from them _ twelve, 
whom also he named 
names follow). 

Luxe ix. 1-6, 

And he called the 
twelve together, and 
GAVE THEM power and 
authority over all 
devils and to HEAL 
DISEASES. And he sent 
them forth To PREACH 
THE KINGDoM of God, 
and to cure the sick. 
And he gaid unto 
them, Take nothing 
for your journey, 
neither staff, nor 
wallet, nor bread, NoR 
SILVER ; neither have 
two coats. And into 
WHATSOEVER house ye 
enter, there abide, and 
thence depart. And as 
many as receive you 
off rz bust from your 
feet for a testimony 
against them. And 
they departed and 
went throughout the 
villages, preaching the 
Gospel, and healing 


for your journey, 
neither two coats, NoR 



many devils, if 

anointed with 

sHors, nor staff: for | many that were sick, 

the LABOURER is worthy 
of hisfood. AND INTO 
village YE SHALL ENTER, 
search out who in it 
is worthy; and there 
abide till ye go forth. 
And as ye enter into 
the house, salute it. 
Anp ir the house BE 

worthy, let your 
BUT IF it be not 

worthy, let your peace 
RETURN TO you. And 
whosoever shall not 
receive you, nor hear 
your words, AS YE GO 
forth out of that house 
or that crry, shake off 
THE DUST of your feet. 
Verily I say to you, 
land of Sopom and 
Gomorrah in the day 
of judgment, THAN 

and healed them. 

Luxe x. 1-12. 

Now after these 
things, the Lord ap- 
pointed seventy others, 
and sent them two and 
two before his face into 
every city and place, 
whither he himself 
was about to come. 
ways; BEHOLD, I sEND 
Carry no purse, No 
salute no man on the 
way. And INTO WHAT- 
ENTER, first say, PEAcE 
be to this house. 
And if ason of peace 
be there, YouR PEACE 
shall rest UPON HIM: 
BUT IF NoT, it shall 
And in that same 
house remain, eating 
and drinking such 
things as they give: 
for the labourer is 
worthy of his hire. 
Go not from house to 
house. And nto 
ENTER, and they re- 
ceive you, eat such 
things as are set be- 
fore you: and HEAL 
THE siIcK that are 
therein, and say unto 
unto you. But mnro 

LUKE 89 

SHALL ENTER, and they 
receive you not, go out 
into the streets there- 
of, and say, Even THE 
pust from your city, 
that cleaveth to our 
feet, do we wipe off 
against you: howbeit, 
know this, that THE 

Examining the above, we see that large blocks of text 
which Luke applies to the seventy are by Matthew 
applied to the twelve, though in conjunction only with 
Marcan matter. Luke, on the other hand, uses the 
Marcan matter of the twelve alone, without mixing it 
up with non-Marean. The only exception is the 
phrase two and two, which must have stood in the non- 
Marcan source as well as in Matthew. Now, if the 
non-Marcan text had here related the calling of seventy 
disciples instead of twelve apostles, Matthew would 
almost certainly have kept it apart as a separate 
episode, instead of blending it with Mark’s account. 
The idea of seventy disciples must therefore have 
originated with Luke, who thought that, as the twelve 
tribes of Israel had each an apostle, so the seventy 
races of the Gentiles must each have a disciple to 
convert them. And this explains their not being 
named, as are the twelve, for Luke, having invented 
them as a Gentile counterpart to the twelve, had no 
tradition of their names. Eusebius, the learned 
historian of the Church, who had read a mass of early 
Christian writers now lost, including Papias and 
Hegesippus, writing about a.p. 300, significantly 

90 LUKE 

remarks that “‘of the seventy disciples no list what- 
ever is anywhere to be found in circulation”; and 
this statement accords wonderfully well with the 
results of modern textual criticism. 

There were many analogies to suggest to Luke the 
story. Seventy, or more strictly seventy-two, trans- 
lators were said to have rendered the Old Testament 
into Greek for Gentile readers and Greek Jews; and 
Typhon chose himself seventy-two associates in his 
conspiracy against Osiris. In the Sanhedrim there 
were seventy Jewish elders; to balance whom Luke 
perhaps invented his seventy disciples. 

Although it does not directly belong to the topic 
before us to do so, it is worth remarking that the 
lacuna or gap in Christian tradition which Eusebius 
thus noticed was filled up very soon after his age; 
for one of the most widely dispersed documents of 
the fourth and fifth century is a list of the seventy 
disciples attributed to an otherwise unknown author, 
Dositheus. In this list not only their names and 
parentage are given, but brief histories of their 
missions. We learn to what race each of them 
carried the gospel, and how they died, many of them 
as martyrs of the faith. Thus, in proportion as we 
are removed in time further and further from the first 
age of the religion, the volume of information about 
it grows and swells. Believers wanted to hear what 
became of everyone whose name was furnished, or 
whose mere existence was hinted at in the New 
Testament, and suitable biographies were soon 
supplied to order. Nor was this literary superfe- 
tation of the second, third, and following centuries 
confined to biography. Testaments or wills of Jesus, 
constitutions and canons of the apostles, and similar 

LUKE " 91 

documents were fabricated, often at enormous length, 
in which customs and institutions of the churches 
which had grown up subsequently to the close of the 
New Testament were described and boldly attributed 
to Jesus and the apostles, whose authority was thus 
by a literary trick obtained for masses of clerical and 
monastic regulations wholly alien to the spirit of an 

earlier age. 

Luke x. 25-87 also furnishes a good example of 
how this evangelist could recast his material and 

invert its original drift. 
texts :— 

Marx xii. 28-34. 

And one of the scribes came, 
and heard them questioning to- 
gether ; and knowing that he had 
answered them well, asked him, 
What commandment is the first 
of all? Jesus answered, The first 
is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our 
God, the Lord is one: and thou 
shalt love the Lord thy God with 
all thy heart, and with all thy 
-soul, and with all thy mind, and 
with all thy strength. The second 
is this, Thou shalt love thy neigh- 
bour as thyself. There is none 
other commandment greater than 
these. And the scribe said unto 
him, Of a truth, Master, thou hast 
well said, that he is one; and 
there is none other but he...... 
And when Jesus saw that he 
answered discreetly, he said unto 
him, Thou art not far from the 
Kingdom of God. And no man 
after that dared ask him any 

Let us confront the two 

Luke x. 25-37. 

And behold a certain lawyer 
stood up tempting him, saying, 
Master, by doing what shall I 
inherit eternal life? But he said 
unto him, In the law what is 
written, how readest thou it? 
And he answered and said, Thou 
shalt love the Lord thy God with 
all thy heart and in all thy soul 
and in all thy strength and in all 
thy mind, and thy neighbour as 
thyself. But hesaid to him, Thou 
hast well answered. This do, and 
thou shalt live. But he wishing 
to prove himself just said to Jesus, 
And whois myneighbour? Taking 
him up, Jesus said, A certain man 
was going down from Jerusalem 
to Jericho, and fell among robbers. 
....(There follows the parable of 
the Good Samaritan.) 

Here we note (1) that this dialogue of Jesus with 

the scribes, as related 

Jerusalem, just before the crucifixion. 

Mark, took place in 

Luke, how- 

ever, sets it on the way up to Jerusalem, in Samaria, 

92 LUKE 

where scribes were far less likely to encounter Jesus 
than in the Holy City. 

(2) Mark sets the summary of the law in the 
mouth of Jesus; Luke transfers it to the lips of the 

(3) In Mark Jesus assures the scribe that he is 
not far from the kingdom of God, because he has 
answered discreetly. Juke, on the contrary, relates 
the incident as if the lawyer were actuated by mere 
hostility : “he stood wp to tempt Jesus ”—i.e., to draw 
Jesus into making some answer which would com- 
promise him. Luke also appends, quite artificially, 
the parable of the Good Samaritan, and so turns his 
answer to the question: Who is my neighbour ? into 
a backhander against the Jews in general, and this 
lawyer in particular. 

Our next example of Luke’s unreliability, of his 
tendency to invent marvellous episodes out of nothing, 
shall be taken from his second book addressed to 
Theophilus, usually called the Acts of the Apostles. 
In Paul’s Epistles we have whole chapters devoted 
to the theme of speaking with tongues. Religious 
emotion, like other emotions, if it reach a certain 
intensity, dismantles the intelligence and overpowers 
the larynx and vocal organs. The patient falls as it 
were into a trance or ecstasy, loses control of his 
voice, and breaks out into a series of inarticulate or 
half-articulate sounds and meaningless exclamations. 
In many ancient cults drugs were administered, 
especially to women, to make them ‘ prophesy” in 
this way, and the priests who ran the shrines inter- 
preted the mysterious oracles thus delivered in such 
a manner as to please the superstitious pilgrim and 
fill their own pockets. Such speaking with tongues 

LUKE 93 

is still an everyday phenomenon in the half-barbarous 
cults of Asia and Africa, and is not unknown among 
ourselves, as witness the following testimony of 
George Greville in his Memoirs, vol. iii, ch. xxii. :— 

Dec. 2nd, 1833: I went yesterday to Edward Irving’s 
chapel, to hear him preach, and witness the exhibition 
of the tongues....... After these three Spencer Perceval 
stood up. He recited the dutyto our neighbours in the 
catechism, and descanted on that text in a style in all 
respects far superior to the others. He appeared 
about to touch on politics, and (as well as I recollect) 
was saying, “Ye trusted that your institutions 
were unalterable, ye believed that your loyalty to 
your king, your respect for your nobility, your ” 
when suddenly a low moaning noise was heard, on 
which he instantly stopped, threw his arm over his 
breast, and covered his eyes, in an attitude of deep 
devotion, as if oppressed by the presence of the spirit. 
The voice, after ejaculating three “ Ohs,” one rising 
above the other, in tones very musical, burst into a 
flow of unintelligible jargon, which, whether it was 
in English or in gibberish I could not discover. This 
lasted five or six minutes, and, as the voice was silenced, 
another woman, in more passionate and louder tones, 
took it up. This last spoke in English, and words, 
though not sentences, were distinguishable. I had a 
full view of her, sitting exactly behind Irving’s chair. 
She was well dressed, spoke sitting, under great 
apparent excitement, and screamed on till, from 
exhaustion as it seemed, her voice gradually died 
away, and all was still. Then Spencer Perceval, in 
slow and solemn tones, resumed, not where he had left 
off, but with an exhortation to hear the voice of the 
Lord, which had just been uttered to the congregation, 
and after a few more sentences he sat down. 

94 LUKE 

Such a gruesome spectacle as the above could be 
witnessed in almost any meeting of the early 
Christians; and, as there were persons by tempera- 
ment specially apt to fall into this morbid state, so 
there were others who were credited with the faculty 
of interpreting their ecstatic utterances. Paul, in his 
first Epistle to the Corinthians, xii. 28, includes kinds 
of tongues in his list of the gifts conferred by divine 
grace on the Church, other gifts being the apostolate, 
prophecy, teaching, helps, government. He discerned 
in the Church a divinely ordained division of labour, 
in that some had one gift, some another. ‘‘ Are all 
apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all 
powers [t.e., mediums or controls]? have all gifts of 
healings ? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret 2” 
And in verse 10 of the same chapter he has already 
made a similar enumeration of the gifts of the spirit, 
mentioning first those which have an_ intellectual 
aspect—e.g., the word of wisdom, the word of know- 
ledge, faith, and then the merely pathological affec- 
tions, as we should call them to-day, between which and 
the intelligence faith supplies the bridge of transition. 
The latter are as follows: gifts of healing, workings of 
powers, prophecy, discernings of spirits, kinds of tongues, 
interpretation of tongues. Of the above, one réle, that 
of discerner of spirits, is omitted in the later list, yet 
he was an important person in an age when everyone 
believed in possession ; for an unclean spirit, perhaps 
of a pagan god or hero, might insinuate itself into a 
believer, and impose on the body of the faithful, if 
there was no one at hand to discern and detect him. 
Paul was apt to depreciate the merely pathological 
aspects of spiritual possession, save, indeed, so far as 
he could appeal to them in proof of his own direct 

LUKE 95 

apostleship and revelations of Jesus Christ, and turn 
them against the older apostles and Judaizers who 
rejected his new gospel. Accordingly, in a subsequent 
chapter (xiv.), he begs his readers to bear in mind that 
“the that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but 
unto God ; for no man understandeth: but through the 
spit he speaketh mysteries.” With such a gift Paul 
contrasts prophecy, whereby one speaketh unto men 
edification and comfort and consolation, presumably 
because his predictions of the future stimulate their 
hopes and enthusiasm. ‘‘ But now, brethren,” con- 
tinues Paul, “if I come unto you speaking with tongues, 
what shall I profit you, unless I speak to you either by 
way of revelation, or of knowledge, or of prophesying, or 
of teaching ?...... So also ye, unless ye utter by the tongue 
things easy to be understood, how shall it be known what 
is spoken ?...... If then I know not the meaning of the 
voice, I shall be to him that speaketh a barbarian,: and 
he that speaketh will be a barbarian unto me....... I thank 
God, I speak with tongues more than you all: howbett in 
the church I had rather speak five words with my under- 
standing, that I might instruct others also, than ten 
thousand words in a tongue....... Wherefore tongues are 
for a sign, not to them that believe, but to the unbelieving: 
but prophesying [is for a sign] not to the unbelieving, 
but to them that believe. If therefore the whole Church 
be assembled together, and all speak with tongues, and there 
come in men without gifts or unbelieving, will they not 
say that ye are mad ?”’ 

And in the sequel Paul tries to lay down some 
rules for the regulation of this dangerous gift, which 
threatened to turn the assembly of the saints into a 

1 The Greek word barbaros signifies one who spoke an unintelligible 
tongue. ; 

96 LUKE 

pandemonium, as follows: ‘ If any man speaketh in a 
tongue, [let it be] by two or at the most three [at a time], 
and [that] in turn; and let one interpret: but of there 
be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church, and 
let him speak to himself and to God. And let the 
prophets speak by two or three, and let the others discern. 
But if a revelation be made to another sitting by, let 
the first keep silence. For ye can all prophesy one by 
one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted ;...... 
for God is not [a god] of confusion, but of peace; as m 
all the churches of the saints.” 

In such passages as the above we breathe the very 
atmosphere of the earliest Church, and seem to have 
our finger on its pulse. We can realise the danger 
there was of emotion, ecstasy, and impulse swamping 
the slender barque. How far removed were such 
meetings from the Catholic services of to-day, whereat 
@ priest and deacon work a little harmless magic up at 
an altar all by themselves for the good of a lot of 
lounging spectators! Paul was saner than the rest, 
and was for that reason more influential. Above all, 
he silenced the female ecstatics: ‘‘ Let the women keep 
silence im the churches: for it is not permitted unto them 
to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the 

So the law was, after all, good for something. How 
intensely naive and human is the document we quote. 
** Since ye are zealous of spirits,’ writes Paul to his 
converts, “‘ seek that ye may abound unto the edifying of 
the church.” This implies that not a few of the believers 
were over-addicted to the use of their spiritual gifts, 
and, as long as they could show off, were not too 
solicitous of order and decency. ‘If any man thinketh 
himself to be a prophet or a pnewmatic [i.e., a medium], 

LUKE 97 

let him bear in mind the things which I write unto you, 
that they are the commandment of the Lord.” Paul then 
had had a private, but eminently sensible, revelation on 
the point direct from Jesus Christ. In spite of abuses, 
however, he is not disposed to crush out such mani- 
festations of the spirit; and his final advice is as 
follows: ‘‘Wherefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to 
prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. But let 
all things be done decently and in order.” 

It is wonderful that, out of the emotional chaos 
which Paul’s letters reveal to us, religious organisers, 
whose very names are unknown to us, could, in the 
next hundred years, evolve a system of episcopally 
governed churches in which all manifestations of the 
spirit had been repressed and crushed out, and the 
order of prophets replaced by a carefully graded 

Probably the divers kinds of tongues recorded in 
Paul’s letters were already, save in a few out-of-the- 
way communions, reduced to silence as early as the 
decade 85-95, during which Luke seems to have 
penned his book of the Acts. Was this writer ignorant 
of the true nature of the gifts of tongues, or did he 
sacrifice the truth in order to portray a miracle? We 
cannot say; but, anyhow, he gives, in Acts 1. 1-13, 
an account of the speaking with tongues wholly incom- 
patible with Paul’s. It was the first Pentecost after 
the ascension of Jesus, and his followers were met 
together in Jerusalem. ‘‘ And suddenly there came 
from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, 
and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And 
there appeared unto them tongues distributing themselves, 
like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them. 
And they were all filled with the holy spirit, and began 


98 LUKE 

to speak with other tongues, as the spirit gave them 
UttETANCE....++- And when this sound was heard, the multi- 
~ tude came together, and were confounded, because every 
man heard them speaking in his own language. And 
they were all amazed and marvelled, saying, Behold, are 
not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we 
every man in our own language, wherein we were born ? 
Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and the dwellers in 
Mesopotamia, in Judea and Cappadocia, in Pontus and 
Asia, in Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and the parts 
of Libya about Cyrene, and sojourners from Rome, both 
Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we do hear 
them speaking in our tongues the mighty works of God ; 
and they were all astounded and perplexed, saying the one 
to the other: What can this mean ?” 

Luke is a delightful story-teller, and is quite wasted 
on the dull people who mistake him for a grave, 
accurate, and diligent historian. What was the use 
of tongues which were unintelligible except to God, of 
inspired utterances which yet had no meaning, and 
did but render him that spoke a barbarian to his 
hearers, and them in turn barbarians to him? Surely 
this could not have been the gift of a holy spirit which 
was to illuminate the seventy different races of the 
Gentiles? What was needed among the immediate 
followers of Jesus was rather a miraculous ability to 
talk their seventy languages. Such a faculty would 
really be a sign to the unbelieving. Accordingly, Luke 
turns the truth upside down and inside out, never 
suspecting that epistles of his master, Paul, would 
survive and contradict his pretty story eighteen 
centuries later. 

A truer artist in fiction would have finished his 
story at this point; but Luke, in his search for 

LUKE 99 

picturesque detail, continues it in such a manner that 
the end of it entirely contradicts the beginning, as 
follows: ‘‘ But others mocking said, They are filled 
with new wine.” 

And this scoff supplies Peter with the argument of 
the speech which he forthwith delivers: ‘‘ For these 
men are not drunk, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the 
third hour of the day; but this is that which hath been 
spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘ And it shall be in the last 
days, saith God, I will pour forth of my spirit on all 
flesh: And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, 
And your young men shall see visions, And your old men 
shall dream dreams,’ ’”’ ete. 

All this conflicts with what precedes, for a sudden 
and miraculous mastery of foreign languages is the 
last thing we associate with drunkenness, so that it is 
absurd and inept to attribute such a scoff to any who 
witnessed the display. On the other hand, it would 
be neither absurd nor inept if the gift of tongues had 
been described as Paul—who spoke with tongues more 
than all of them (1 Cor. xiv. 18)—describes it. He 
asserts that “‘if the whole church be assembled together 
and all speak with tongues and there come in men 
without spiritual gifts or unbelieving, they will say, Ye 
are mad.” 

Substitute drunk for mad, and we have the very 
episode and situation which Luke has travestied in 
this second chapter of Acts. It would be well if we 
could accept the second part of his story, which so well 
accords with Paul’s testimony, and reject the first part, 
which conflicts therewith. But we have no alternative 
but to regard the entire scene as fictitious. How 
grotesque, for example, and materialistic is the idea 
of the holy spirit filling the house like a rushing wind! 

100 LUKE 

Of the tongues of fire—a familiar fancy in pagan 
stories! In the oldest Syriac versions of the passage 
it is added that a sweet odour pervaded the house, and 
this feature was, perhaps, eliminated by the Greek 
editors of Luke’s text; it was, however, a familiar 
idea among ancient pagans that the epiphany of a 
god was attended with a sweet smell, and that he left 
behind an odour of sanctity. Hence the line of 
Ovid : ‘‘ Mansit odor. Posses scire fuisse deam”’ (‘‘ An 
odour remained. You could tell that a goddess had 
appeared ”’). 

Let us take one more example of how Luke handles 
his evidence. At the close of his Gospel Mark relates 
how certain women, when the sabbath was over, 
brought spices in order to anoint the corpse of Jesus. 
“And they came very early on the first day of the week 
to the tomb at sunrise, and they said to themselves, Who 
shall roll away for us the stone from the door of the 
tomb? And on looking up they see that the stone has 
been rolled away, although it was so big.” 

So far Luke is fairly faithful to his source, save 
that (according to the old form of text in D) he adds 
(in xxiii. 53) that he set a stone upon the tomb, so 
huge that twenty men could barely have rolled it 
along. Let us contrast his text from this point with 
that of Mark. It is the episode of the women’s visit :— 

Marx xvi. 5-8. 

And having gone into the tomb, 
they saw a youth sitting on the 
right hand, clothed in a white 
garment, and they were astonished 
beyond measure. But he saith to 
them, Be ye not so astonished. 
Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, the 
crucified one. He is risen, he is 
not here. Behold the place where 
they laid him. But go ye, tell 

Luxe xxiy. 4-9. 

But having gone in, they found 
not the body of the Lord Jesus. 
And it came to pass as they were 
perplexed about this, behold men 
twain stood before them in gleam- 
ing apparel. And, as they were 
affrighted and bowed their heads 
to the earth, they said to them, 
Why seek ye him that liveth 
among the dead? Heis not here, 


his disciples and Peter that he| but is risen, 

goeth before you into Galilee, 
There shall ye see him, as he told 
you. And they went out and fled 
from the tomb. For a trembling 
and ecstasy had possession of 


Remember how he 
spake unto you while he was still 
in Galilee, saying that the Son of 
Man must be delivered up into 
the hands of sinful men, and be 
crucified, and the third day rise 

them, and they said nothing to 

again. And they remembered his 
anyone, for they were afraid. 

words, and returned from the 
tomb, and told all these things to 
the eleven, and to all the rest, 

Note how Luke speaks of the Lord Jesus, a phrase 
never found in Mark. Next the youth in a white 
garment is multiplied like a vision of Falstaff into two 
men in gleaming apparel. The simple words of the 
youth in Mark are tricked out into the rhetorical 
question, “‘ Why seek ye him that liveth among the dead?” 
Then the statement of Jesus, recalled to the women, 
that he would precede his disciples into Galilee, and 
that they should see him there, is altogether set aside ; 
and for it is substituted the commonplace prediction 
of his crucifixion and resurrection formerly uttered by 
Jesus in Galilee. For Luke, in opposition to Matthew 
and Mark, will have it that Jesus was seen after death 
by the disciples in Jerusalem, and not in Galilee; and 
to make this possible he suppresses the circumstance 
that at the crucifixion they fled back thither. Lastly, 
in flagrant contradiction with his source, Mark, who 
asserts that they said nothing to anyone, Luke declares 
that the women returned from the tomb and 
announced all these things to the eleven and to all the 
rest (of the faithful). ; 

If we found Thucydides or Polybius or Dio Cassius 
or any other ancient author playing fast and loose 
with his sources as Luke here and elsewhere does 
with his, we should regard them as untrustworthy 
authors, incapable of transmitting faithfully to their 
readers the evidence which lay before them. In 

102 LUKE 

almost every case in which we can thus compare Luke 
with Mark, we find the same loose treatment of his 
evidence. He is a picturesque story-teller, who does 
not understand or desire historical accuracy. We 
must not blame him; for his main concern is to edify, 
and very few writers of that age, even among pagans, 
had any idea of what truth and accuracy in narrative 
mean. If anyone is to blame, it is the orthodox 
divine who imagines that because Luke was an 
evangelist he was exempt from the ordinary faults of 
his age. So low was his standard of historical truth 
that he sets up pretensions to being more trustworthy 
than his predecessors in the preface to his Gospel, as 
follows: ‘‘ It seemed good to me also, having traced the 
course of all things accurately from the first, to write 
unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou 
mightest know the certainty concerning the things which 
thou wast taught by word of mouth.” In his Gospel 
where he puts forward these claims of superiority 
we can control his statements, because we have got 
his sources before us. If we had not them almost 
entire, we could never have divined that a writer who 
talks in this way about certainty was a mere compiler, 
and inexact at that. 

In the book of Acts we can, unfortunately, but 
rarely control his narrative, and must therefore use 
great caution in reading it. The well-known German 
scholar Adolf Harnack, Professor of Church History 
in the University of Berlin, in his minute study, Luke 
the Physician,’ forms a like estimate, for he writes as 
follows, p. 112:— 

St. Luke is an author whose writings read smoothly ; 

1 Williams and Norgate, 1907; English trans, 

LUKE 108 

but one has only to look somewhat more closely to 
discover that there is scarcely another writer in the 
New Testament who is so careless an historian as he. 
Like a true Greek, he has paid careful attention to 
style and to all the formalities of literature; but in 
regard to his subject matter, in chapter after chapter, 
he affords gross instances of carelessness, and often of 
complete confusion in the narrative. This is true 
both of the Gospel and of the Acts. 

And again, p. 123 :— 

He certainly believes himself to be an historian (see 
the prologue); and so he is; but his powers are 
limited, for he adopts an attitude towards his authori- 
ties which is as distinctly uncritical as that which he 
adopts towards his own experiences, if these admit of 
a miraculous interpretation. 

In the preceding pages I have tried to explain the 
nature of what is called the Synoptic problem, 
probing here and there, as it were with the rapier of 
a douanier, the Gospels, in order to sample their 
contents, and see what they consist of, what claims to 
credibility they have, what sources their writers 
used, and how they used them. The examples 
I have given prove that an evangelist felt himself 
at liberty to rearrange the traditional matter, and to 
create backgrounds of incident for any -pregnant 
aphorisms or string of aphorisms that had come 
down to him isolated and detached. The same 
sayings are framed by Matthew and Luke in utterly 
different contexts of action, place, and time; and in 
such cases one at least of the contexts, and pro- 
bably both, must be the arbitrary creation of the 
writer or writers. Luke in especial can be convicted 
of fabricating not only incidents, but also words 

104 LUKE 

uttered in connection with them. In thus concocting 
speeches for his hero he violated no canon of ancient 
historical art, since Thucydides, Tacitus, and other 
serious chroniclers, did the same. So much may be 
urged in justification of his method. Mark’s Gospel 
being in its character more narrative than didactic, 
and a relatively small space being assigned in it to 
what Jesus said, one would expect him to confine him- 
self to genuine utterances of Jesus; but here again we 
are disappointed, for in ch. xiii. entire paragraphs of a 
Jewish apocalypse are placed in the mouth of Jesus 
which he certainly never uttered ; and, could we check 
Mark, we should probably find this to be no isolated 
case. As to many of the sayings also which Matthew 
took from the non-Marcan document which he used 
in common with Luke, we at first sight feel 
reasonable doubt whether Jesus ever uttered them, 
because they presuppose an organised church, so that 
their attribution to Jesus is an anachronism. The 
same doubt extends even to so famous an utterance 
as the Lord’s Prayer. For in Mark xi. 25, we read: 
“And whensoever ye stand praying, forgive if ye have 
aught against anyone ; that your father also which is in 
heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”’ Here Jesus 
lays down no fixed formula, but only general rules for 
prayer. As J. Wellhausen remarks, it would appear 
that Mark knew of the prayer as it was liturgically 
used in history, but did not venture to attribute it to 
Jesus as a whole, as do Matthew and Luke. Ag 
often, so here, these two evangelists assign different 
occasions for the communication to the apostles of 
this prayer ; for Matthew (vi. 9) introduces it in the 
Sermon on the Mount, whereas Luke assigns it to a 
later period in the ministry, after the appointment of 

LUKE 105 

the seventy, in the following words: ‘‘And it came to 
pass, as he was praying in a certain place, that when he 
ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us 
to pray, even as John also taught his disciples,” etc. 
This exordium was made up by Luke ad hoc, in 
accordance with his literary method. But we must 
not accuse him of bad faith because he thus designs 
suitable situations for the utterances of Jesus, nor 
because he freely cuts and carves, and even travesties, 
the text of Mark. For we must remember that the 
latter probably came to him merely as an anonymous 
document in a single stray copy. ‘‘ Many,” he says 
in the preface to his Gospel, ‘‘ have undertaken to 
draw up a narrative concerning those matters which 
have been fulfilled among us.’ Mark’s Gospel was 
just one of these many attempts. No canon as yet 
existed, and no one form of gospel had more prestige 
than another. The modern believer has been taught 
to invest the four Gospels with a certain sacrosanctity, 
and to speak of ‘‘ gospel truth” as if truth lay here 
enshrined as nowhere else. But Luke saw in his 
copy of Mark just an odd document to be used up as 
suited his literary purpose, and then thrown aside. 
Mark’s name may or may not have been attached to 
it. Even if it was, it was merely the name of one 
who had for a time attached himself to Paul and then 
forsaken him. The conception entertained of Jesus 
in the circle of believers to which Luke belonged had 
developed, perhaps under the influence of Paul’s 
a priori notions, since Mark wrote; and Luke was 
bound to adapt his text to later conceptions of whose 
superior validity and truth he would not be likely to 
entertain a doubt. The same remarks apply to 
Matthew’s Gospel, and yet more to the one ascribed 

106 LUKE 

to John. The writer of this last does not even try to 
represent Jesus as Jewish Messiah; his primitive 
role and vocation are forgotten, and he is become the 
incarnate Reason of God, mixing out of extreme 
condescension with mankind. To the second great 
document used by Matthew and Luke, and called by 
modern scholars the non-Marcan source or Q (Quelle), 
we must now turn. 

Cuaprsr VII. 

WE have seen that Luke and Matthew used, in addi- 
tion to Mark’s Gospel, which has survived, another 
source, mainly composed of sayings of Jesus, which 
has not. To this source scholars usually refer as the 
non-Marcan source, or as Q. In order to form a 
sound judgment about it we need to reconstruct it 
and set it out by itself; and several scholars have 
undertaken this task, and vary little from one another 
in their results. Matthew appears to have copied it 
out more faithfully than Luke, so far as regards its 
original style and phraseology, though he has inserted 
in it passages which reflect a more developed stage of 
church organisation than suits the first Messianic 
movement. The text as reproduced by Luke, on the 
other hand, is redolent of his peculiar style and idiom, 
showing that he recast it and threw it into his own 
language. It is improbable that it was originally 
penned in Luke’s very characteristic language. On 
the other hand, as it stands in Matthew, it exhibits 
no special conformity with the general style and 
manner of writing of that evangelist, and almost 
wholly lacks his impress. 

In the following pages I follow Professor Harnack’s 
reconstruction of this source. The order in which 
the sections follow one another is that of Luke, who 
in this respect can be shown to have been more 



conservative than Matthew. Brackets enclose passages 
as to which there is a doubt whether they should be 
included in it. 


(Mt iii. 5, 7-12; Le iii. 8, 7-9, 16, 17.) 

All the region round about Jordan...... John saw 
many (or the multitudes)...... coming to baptism, and 
said to them, Offspring of vipers, who warned you to 
flee from the impending wrath? Produce therefore 
fruit worthy of repentance. And think (? begin) not 
to say in yourselves, We have as father Abraham. 
For I tell you, that God is able out of these stones to 
raise up children to Abraham. And already the axe 
is laid at the root of the trees. Every tree then not 
producing good fruit is cut down and thrown into the 
fire. JI indeed baptise you in water unto repentance ; 
but he that comes after me is stronger than I, whose 
shoes I am not worthy to carry. He shall baptise 
you in [spirit holy and] fire, whose winnowing fan 
is in his hand, and he shall purge out his threshing- 
floor, and shall gather his grain into his barn; but 
the chaff he will burn up in fire unquenchable. 

§ 2. 
(Mt iv. 1-11; Le iv. 1-13.) 

Jesus was led up into the desert by the Spirit to be 
tempted by the devil; and, having fasted forty days 
and forty nights, he afterwards hungered. And the 
tempter said to him, An thou art Son of God, bid 
these stones to become bread. And he answered, It 
is written, Not upon bread alone shall man live. So 
he taketh him with him to Jerusalem, and he stood 
him on the pinnacle of the temple; and saith he to 


him, An thou art Son of God, throw thyself down; 
for it is written that he will give his angels charge 
concerning thee, and on their hands they shall bear 
thee up, lest ever thou dash against a stone thy foot. 
Jesus said to him, Likewise is it written, Thou shalt 
not tempt the Lord thy God. Again he taketh him 
with him into a mountain exceedingly high, and 
shows him all the kingdoms of the world and their 
glory. And he said to him, All this I will give thee, 
if thou wilt fall down and worship me. And Jesus 
says to him: Itis written, The Lord thy God shalt 
thou worship, and him alone shalt thou serve. And 
the devil leaveth him. 

§ 3. 
(Mt v. 1-4, 6, 11, 12; Le vi. 17, 20-23.) 

ena Multitudes......he taught the disciples, saying 
Bakes Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom 
of God. 

Blessed are the sorrowers, for they shall be 

Blessed are the hungry, for they shall be filled. 

Blessed are ye, whenever they revile and persecute 
you, and say all that is evil against you falsely. 

Rejoice and exult, because your reward is great in 
heaven; for even so they persecuted the prophets 
who were before you. 

§ 4. 
(Mt v. 39, 40; Le vi. 29.) 

Whoever smites thee on thy [right] cheek, 
turn to him also the other. And to one who would 
go to law with thee and take thy shirt, give up to him 
also thy coat. 


§ 5. 
(Mt v. 42; Le vi. 80.) 
To one who asks of thee, give; and from one who 
would borrow of thee, turn not away. 

§ 6. 
(Mt v. 44-48; Le vi. 27, 28, 35b, 32, 33, 36.) 

I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for them 
that persecute you, in order that ye may become sons 
of your father, for he causes his sun to rise upon the 
wicked and the good [and his rain to fall on just and 
unjust]. For if ye love those who love you, what 
reward have ye? Do not the tax-farmers do this very 
thing ? And if ye love your brethren alone, what that 
is extraordinary do ye do? Donot the Gentiles also 
doas much? Ye shall therefore be merciful as your 
father is merciful. 

§ 7. 
(Mé vii. 12; Le vi. 81.) 
All things whatsoever ye desire that men should do 
unto you, even so do ye unto them. 

§ 8. 
(Mt vii. 1-5; Le vi. 87, 38, 41, 42.) 

Judge not, that ye be not judged; for with whatso- 
ever judgment ye judge, shall ye be judged; and 
with that measure wherewith ye measure, shall it be 
measured unto you. And why markest thou the mote 
in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam in 
thine own eye? or how shalt thou say to thy brother, 
Let me cast the mote out of thine eye, while the beam 
is in thine own eye? Hypocrite, first cast the beam 


out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly 
how to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye. 

(Mt xv. 14; Le vi. 89.) 
If a blind man lead a blind, they will both fall into 
a ditch. 
§ 10. 
(Mt x. 24-25 ; Le vi. 40.) 
A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant 
above his master. Let it suffice for the disciple to be 
as his teacher, and for the servant to be as his master. 

(Mt vii. 16-18, xii. 83; Le vi. 48, 44.) 

By its fruit the tree is known. They surely do 
not gather grapes off thorns or figs off thistles? Hven 
so, every good tree produces good fruit, but the rotten 
tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad 
fruit, nor a rotten tree produce good fruit. 

§ 12. 
(Mt vii. 21, 24-27; Le vi. 46-49.) 

Not everyone who saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall 
enter the kingdom of God, but he who doeth the will 
of my father. Hveryone then that listens to these 
words and doeth them shall be likened to a man who 
builded his house on the rock. And the rain came 
down and the rivers came, and the winds blew, and 
fell upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded 
on the rock. And everyone who listens to these my 
words, but doeth them not, shall be likened to a man 
who builded his house. on the sand. And the rain 


came down, and the rivers came, and the winds blew, 
and smote upon that house, and it fell, and great was 
the fall thereof. a 
§ 138. 
(Mt vii. 28, viii. 5-10; Le vii. 1-10.) 

He entered Capernaum, and there approached him 
a centurion, calling on him and saying, Master, my 
child lies at home struck down by paralysis, suffering 
dreadfully. He said to him, I will come and heal 
him. But the centurion answered and said, Lord, I 
am not worthy that you should enter under my roof; 
but only say a word, and my child will be healed. 
For I am a man in authority, having under me 
soldiers ; and I say to this one, Go, and he goeth, and 
to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, 
Do this, and he doeth it. But Jesus heard and 
wondered, and said to them who followed, Verily, I 
tell you, not even in Israel have I found so much 
faith. [And Jesus said to the centurion, Go. As 
thou hast believed be it unto thee. And the child 
was healed in that hour. | 

§ 14. 
(Mt xi. 2-11; Le vii. 18-28.) 

But John, hearing in the prison the works of Christ, 
sent by his disciples and said to him, Art thou he 
that is to come, or must we expect another? And he 
answered and said to them, Go ye, and report to John 
what ye hear and see. The blind see anew and the 
lame walk, lepers are cleansed and deaf hear, and 
dead men are raised and poor receive good tidings. 
And blessed is he who is not scandalised in me. But 
as they walked along he began to talk to the multitudes 
about John: What went ye out into the wilderness to 


see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what went 
ye out to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Lo, 
they who wear soft raiment are in the houses of kings. 
Then why went ye out? To see a prophet? Nay, I 
tell you, one even greater than a prophet. For he it 
is of whom it is written, Lo, I send my angel before 
thy face, who shall prepare thy path before thee. 
Verily, I tell you that among those born of women 
there hath been raised up none greater than John 
the Baptist ; yet the least in the kingdom of God is 
greater than he. 
§ 15. 
(Mt xi. 16-19; Le vii. 31-35.) 

To what shall I liken this generation, and what is 
it like? It is like to children sitting in the public 
square, which address the others and say: We have 
piped to you, and ye danced not. We sang dirges, 
and ye mourned not. For John came neither eating 
nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The 
Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 
Behold a man, a glutton and a wine-bibber, friend of 
publicans and sinners. And wisdom is justified of 
her children. 

§ 16. 
(Mt x. 7; Le ix. 2, x. 9, 11.) 

Go ye and proclaim, saying that the kingdom of 
God is at hand. 

oe hee 
(Mt viii. 19-22; Le ix. 57-60.) 

One said to him, I will follow thee whithersoever 
thou goest. And Jesus answered him: The foxes 
have burrows and the birds of heaven nests; but the 

Son of Man hath not where to lay his head. But 


another one said to him: Permit me first to go away 
and bury my father. But he answered him: Follow 
me, and let the dead bury their dead. 

§ 18. 
(Mé ix. 37, 38; Le x. 2.) 
He saith to his disciples: The harvest is abundant, 
but the workers few. Beseech, then, the lord of the 
harvest to send forth workers for his harvest. 

§ 19. 
(Mt x. 16a; Le x. 3.) 
Behold, I send you forth as sheep amidst wolves. 

§ 20. 
(Mt x. 12,18; Le x. 5, 6.) 

But when ye enter into the house, give it greeting. 
And if the house be worthy, let your peace descend 
upon it. But if it be not worthy, let your peace 
return unto you. [Carry not a purse, nor wallet, nor 
shoes, and on the way salute no one. | 

§ 21. 
(Mt x. 10b; Le x. 7b.) 
[Remain in the house eating and drinking what 
they provide.] For the worker is worthy of his food. 

§ 22. 
(Mt x. 15; Le x. 12.) 

Verily, I tell you, it shall be more tolerable for the 
land of Sodom and Gomorrah in that day (or in the 
day of judgment) than for that city. 

(In Le x. 8-11 the above is preceded by the follow- 
ing: Into whatever city ye enter and they welcome 


you, eat ye what is set before you, and say to them, 
The kingdom of God is at hand. But into whatever 
city ye enter and they receive you not, go ye out 
into the streets thereof and say, Even the dust which 
cleaves unto us from your city on our feet we wipe off 
on you.) 
§ 23. 
(Mt xi. 21-28; Le x. 18-15.) 

Woe to thee, Chorazin; woe to thee, Bethsaida. 
For had the works of power which have been wrought 
in you been wrought in Tyre and Sidon, they would 
long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But 
I tell you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and 
Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And 
thou, Capernaum, instead of being exalted to heaven, 
shalt go down unto hell. 

§ 24. 
(Mt x. 40; Le x. 16.) 

[He that welcomes you, welcomes me; and he that 
welcomes me, welcomes him that sent me. | 

§ 25. 
(Mt xi. 25-27; Le x. 21-22.) 

In that season he said: I give thee thanks, Father, 
Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden 
these things from the wise and clever, and hast 
revealed them to infants. Yea, O Father, for so it was 
thy good will, before thee. All things have been 
made over to me by the father, and no one hath 
known [the son except the father, nor] the father 
[hath anyone known] except the son and to whom- 
soever the son wills to reveal. 


§ 26. 
(Mt xiii. 16,17; Le x. 23b, 24.) 

Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your 
ears, because they hear. For verily I say to you, 
that many prophets and kings desired to see what ye 
see, and saw not, and to hear what you hear, and 
heard not. 

§ 27. 
(Mt vi. 9-18; Le xi. 2-4.) 

Father, give us this day our daily bread, and forgive 
us our debts, even as we have forgiven our debtors, 
and lead us not into temptation. 

§ 28. 
(Mt vii. 7-11; Le xi. 9-13.) 

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye 
shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. 
For everyone who asks receiveth; and who seeks 
finds ; and to the knocker it shall be opened. Or is 
there any one of you, of whom his son shall ask for 
bread, he will surely not give him astone? Or if he 
ask for a fish, he will surely not tender him a viper? 
If, then, ye, being sinners, know how to give good gifts 
_ to your children, how much more shall your father 
from heaven give good things to them that ask him ? 

§ 29. 
(Mt xii. 22, 28, 25, 27, 28, 80, 48-45; Le xi. 14, 
17, 19, 23-86.) 

He healed one possessed by a devil, dumb, so that 
the dumb one spake, and all the multitudes were 
astonished....... Every kingdom divided against itself 
is made desgolate....... And if I through Beelzebul cast 
out devils, through whom do your own sons cast them 


out? Therefore shall they be your judges. But if I 
by spirit of God cast out demons, then indeed hath 
the kingdom of God hastened to come upon you....... 
Unless a man is with me, he is against me; and he 
who gathers not in with me, scatters....... Whensoever 
the unclean spirit quits a man, he passes through dry 
places seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, 
I will return into the house whence I went forth. 
And he goes, and finds it vacant and swept and 
adorned. Then he goes and takes with him seven 
spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and 
dwell there. And the last state of that man is worse 
than the first. 
§ 30. 
(Mt xii. 38, 39, 41, 42; Le xi. 16, 29-32.) 

They said, We wish to see a sign wrought by thee. 
But he said, An evil and adulterous generation seeks 
for a sign, and sign shall not be given to it, except 
the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the 
Ninevites, so shall be the Son of Man to this generation. 
The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment 
with this generation, and shall condemn it; for they 
repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold more 
than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South shall 
rise up in judgment with this generation and condemn 
it, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen 
to the wisdom of Solomon, and behold more than 
Solomon is here. 

§ 31. 
(Mt v. 15; Le xi. 83.) 

They light not a lamp and set it under the bushel, 
but on the candlestick, and it lights all who are in 
the house. . 


§ 82. 
(Mt vi. 22, 28; Le xi. 34, 35.) 

The light of the body is thine eye; if, then, thine 
eye be simple, thine whole body will be full of light. 
But if thine eye be wicked, thy whole body will be 
dark. If, then, the light within thee is darkness, how 
great the darkness ! 

§ 33. 
(Mt xxiii. 4, 18, 28, 25, 27, 29, 830-32, 34-36 ; 
Le xi. 46, 52, 42, 39, 44, 47-51.) 

They bind up heavy burdens, and lay them on the 
shoulders of men; but they themselves would not 
move them with their little finger. 

Woe to you Pharisees, because ye shut up the 
kingdom of God before men’s faces. For ye enter 
not yourselves, nor permit them to enter who would 
do so. 

Woe to you Pharisees, for ye tithe mint and anise 
and cummin; but have left undone the weightier parts 
of the law, judgment and mercy. 

Now, ye Pharisees, ye cleanse the outside of the 
cup and platter, but within they are full of robbery 
and licence. 

Woe to you, for ye are like graves unseen, and men 
who walk over them recognise them not. 

[Woe to you Pharisees, for ye are to be likened to 
whitewashed graves, which outside appear beautiful, 
but within are full of dead bones and all unclean- 
ness. | 

Woe to you, because ye build the tombs of the 
prophets and say: Had we been in the days of our 
fathers, we would not have been sharers with them in 
the blood of the prophets. So that ye bear witness 


that ye are sons of them that slew the prophets. 
And ye fill up the measure of your fathers. 

Therefore the Wisdom of God said: I send unto 
you prophets and wise men and scribes. Some of 
them ye will slay and persecute, that there may come 
on you all the blood shed on earth, from that of Abel 
until that of Zacharias, whom ye slew between the 
shrine and the altar. Verily I say to you, All these 
things shall come on this generation. 

§ 34a. 
(Mt x. 26-83 ; Le xii. 2-9.) 

Nothing is hidden which shall not be revealed, or 
secret which shall not be known. What I speak to 
you in darkness, do ye speak in the light; and what 
ye hear in a whisper, proclaim ye on the housetops. 
And fear ye not them that slay the body, but have no 
power to slay the soul. But fear rather him that is 
able to destroy soul and body in Gehenna. Are not 
two (or five) sparrows sold for one (or two) pennies? 
And one of them shall not fall to the ground without 
God’s will. And of your heads the very hairs are 
numbered. Fear not then. Ye are of far more 
account than sparrows. Everyone then who shall 
make confession of me before men shall the son of 
man (07 shall I) also make confession of before the 
angels of God. But whosoever denies me before men, 
I also will deny him before the angels of God. 

§ 34s. 
(Mt xii. 32; Le xii. 10.) 
And who ever speaketh ill of the son of man, it 
shall be forgiven him; but who ever speaketh ill of 
the holy spirit, it shall not be forgiven him. 


§ 385. 
(Mt vi.:25-88; Le xii. 22-31.) 

Therefore I say unto you, feel no concern for your 
life, what ye shall eat, nor for your body, what ye 
shall put on. Is not the life more than food, and the 
body than raiment? Look at the crows (or the birds 
of heaven), how they sow not nor reap nor gather into 
barns, yet God feedeth them. Are ye not of more 
account than they? And who of you by fussing can 
add to his stature one cubit? And about raiment 
why fuss thee? Mark the lilies how they grow. 
They labour not, nor do they spin. Yet I say to you, 
not even Solomon in all his glory was clad as one of 
these. But if God so dresses the weed which is to- 
day in the field and to-morrow is cast into a furnace, 
how much more you, O ye of little faith? Therefore 
ye shall not worry and say: What shall we eat? or 
what shall we drink? or what shall we wear? For 
all these things are in quest for the Gentiles. For 
your. father knows that ye are in need of all these. 
But seek ye his kingdom, and all these things shall 
be added to you. 

§ 36. 
(Mt vi. 19-21; Le xii. 88, 34.) 

Treasure not up for yourselves treasures on earth, 
where the moth and the rust deform, and where 
thieves break through and steal. But treasure up for 
yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth 
nor rust deform, and where thieves neither break 
through nor steal. For wherever your treasure is, 
there will be also your heart. 


§ 37. 
(Mt xxiv. 48-51; Le xii. 89-46.) 

But this know ye, that if the householder knew in 
what hour the thief cometh, he would keep awake and 
not allow his house to be broken into. [Therefore do 
ye be ready, because the son of man comes in an hour 
when ye expect him not.] Who, then, is the faithful 
servant and thoughtful, whom the master set over his 
household to give its members food in season ? 
Blessed is that servant whom the master shall find 
so doing when he comes. Verily I tell you that he 
will set him over all that belongs to him. But if that 
servant say in his heart: My master delays, and 
begins to beat his fellow-servants, and eats and drinks 
with drunkards, the master of that servant shall come 
in a day when he expects him not and in an hour of 
which he is not aware, and shall cut him in two and 
set his portion together with the hypocrites. 

§ 38. 
(Mt x. 84, 85, 36; Le xii. 51, 53.) 

Think ye that I came to shed peace upon the land ? 
I came not to shed peace, buta sword. For I came to 
part asunder a man against his father and a daughter 
against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against 
her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes are those of his 
own household. 
§ 39. 

(Mt v. 25, 26; Le xii. 58, 59.) 

Be reconciled with thine adversary quickly, whilst 
thou art still with him in the street ; lest the adversary 
deliver thee to the judge, and the judge to the officer, 
and thou be cast into prison. Verily, I tell you, thou 


shalt not depart thence, until thou hast paid the last 
§ 40. 
(Mt xiii. 831-88; Le xiii. 18-21.) 

And again he said: To what shall I liken the 
kingdom of God? It is like leaven which a woman 
took and hid in three measures of meal, until the 
whole was leavened. 

(The above was probably preceded by the following : 
Unto what is the kingdom of God like, and to what 
shall I liken it? Itis like a grain of mustard seed, 
which a man took and sowed in his field ; and it grew 
and became a tree, and the birds of heaven nest in its 

§ 41. 
(Mt vii. 18, 14; Le xiii. 24.) 

Enter ye through the narrow gate. For wide [is 
the gate] and broad the road, which leads to ruin, 
and many are they that pass in along it. For narrow 
is the gate and worn the road which leads unto life, 
and few are they who find it. 

§ 42. 
(Mt viii. 11, 12; Le xiii. 28, 29.) 

I tell you that from Hast and West they shall come, 
and lie down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in 
the kingdom of God; but the children of the kingdom 
shall be cast out (or go forth). There shall be wailing 
and gnashing of teeth. 

§ 43. 
(Mt xxiii. 87-39; Le xiii. 34, 35.) 
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets 
and stonest them that have been sent unto thee! 


How many times have I wished to gather together thy 
children, as a bird gathers her nestlings under her 
wings, and ye would not have it. Behold, your house 
is abandoned unto you desolate. For I tell you, ye 
shall not see me henceforth until [he come when] 
you shall say: Blessed he who cometh in the name of 
the Lord. 
§ 44. 
(Mt xxiii. 12; Le xiv. 11.) 

Whosoever shall lift himself up shall be abased, 

and whosoever shall abase himself shall be lifted up. 

§ 45. 
(Mt x. 37; Le xiv. 26.) 
[He who loves father or mother more than me is 
not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter 
more than me is not worthy of me. | 

§ 46. 
(Mt x. 38; Le xiv. 27.) 

He that takes not up his cross and follows me is 
not worthy of me. 

§ 47. 
(Mt v. 18; Le xiv. 84, 35.) 

Ye are the salt [of the earth]; but if the salt be 
spoiled, wherewith shall it be salted? It is useful 
for nothing any more, except to be cast outside and 
trodden under foot by men. 

§ 48. 
(Mt xviii. 12, 18; Le xv. 4-7.) 
What think ye? If aman should have a hundred 
sheep, and one of them lose its way, would he not 


leave the ninety-nine on the mountains, and go and 
seek the lost one? And if so be it he find it, I say 
unto you that he rejoiceth over it more than over the 
ninety-nine that lost not their way. 

§ 49. 
(Mé vi. 24; Le xvi. 13.) 

No one can serve two masters. For either he will 
hate the one and love the other, or he will adhere to 
the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God 
and mammon. 

§ 50. 
(Mt xi. 12, 18; Le xvi. 16.) 

The prophets and the law lasted until John. From 
then till now the kingdom of God is being: wrested by 
force, and men of violence snatch at it. 

§ 51. 
(Mé v. 18; Le xvi. 17.) 
Verily I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away 
not one jot or tittle shall pass away of the law. 

§ 52. 
( Mt v. 82; Le xvi. 18.) 
I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife causes 
her to commit adultery; and whoever shall marry & 
divorced woman commits adultery. 

§ 53. 
(Mt xviii. 7; Le xvii. 1.) 
Tt must be that scandals come, but woe to the man 
through whom the scandal comes. 


§ 4. 
OMS xviii. 15, 21, 22; Le xvii. 3,4.) 

If they brother tin, rebuke him; it he listen to thee, 
thos hat won thy brother to thy gain... How cen 
thall wy brother sin agsines me ond I forgive bien? 
Until seven times? Jeeus ecid to bien: 1 tl thee, 
BA antil seven timses, oat until seventy times seven. 

§ 5. 
(Ut zi. 20; Le xvii. 6.) 

If ye have taith 22 2 grzin of mustard, ye shall ay 
to this monuicin, G&A thee hence, aad it shall be 

5 w. 
OM xzi7. 26, 27, 2, B7-4 ; Le xvi. G, &, FI, 
2, 21,44, 2.) 

If, then, they say to you, Lo, he is in the wilder- 
nest, go ye BH ont. Lo, in the sore-romms, bdliere 
them not. Vor as the lightaing quits the cost and 
| Sladses 2cr08s 0 the west, wo shall be the coming 
(porssin—i2., presence) A the Son ot Man. Where- 
were it the corpse, there thall the eagles be gzthered 

- As were the days of Nosh, 0 shall be the coming 
of the Son of Man. Yor 22 they were, in those days 
which preceded the flooi, eating 2nd drinking, marry- 
ing and giving in marriage, until the day when Nosh 
entered the ark, and 22 they knew uct until the flood 
came 204 suey them 21) 2way, 20 shall be the coming 
of the Son of Maa. There shall be two in the eld, 
one is taken and the other ict; two women grinding 
in the miil, the one is taken and the other eh. 


§ 57. 
(Mt x. 89; Le xvii. 33,) 
He that finds his life shall lose it, and he that 
loses his life shall find it. 

§ 58. 
(Mt xxv. 29; Le xix. 26.) 
To everyone who has shall be given, and in abund- 
ance; but from him who has not, even what he has 
shall be taken from him. 

§ 59. 
(Mt xix. 28; Le xxii. 28, 80.) 
Ye who have followed me shall sit upon twelve 
thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 

CuaptTer VIII. 

Svucn, or nearly such, was the second document, 
which, together with Mark’s Gospel, drifted into the 
hands of the first and third evangelists. It must 
have comprised other incidents and sayings found in 
one or the other of these, but not given in the above 
reconstruction, which necessarily takes account only 
of what stands in both of them. It remains to ask: 
What is the age of this document? What its origin ? 
What is the probability that its contents really reflect 
the life and teaching of Jesus, as Xenophon’s Memora- 
bilia reflect the life and teaching of Socrates, or the 
pages of Boswell the conversations of Dr. Johnson ? 

Let us begin by enumerating those traits of the 
document which encourage us to believe that it must 
be very old, and almost a contemporary record. 

(1) Firstly, then, there is no mention of the death and 
resurrection of Jesus. We have seen how Paul insists 
on the importance of these—how his mind is filled 
with them, even to the neglect of the real life and 
teaching of Jesus. In the same spirit as Paul, Mark, 
the earliest of the evangelists, relates how, from the 
moment of Peter’s recognition of him as the Messiah, 
Jesus ‘‘ began to teach that the Son of Man must suffer 
many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief 
priests and scribes, and be slain, and after three days 
rise again.” : 



~ From this point on of Mark’s Gospel, this is the main 
theme of Jesus’ discourses—his gospel proper; and 
about the last fourth of Mark’s Gospel is given up to the 

incidents of the death and resurrection. The same is 

true of the other three Gospels, and the lately-recovered 
fragment of the so-called Gospel of Peter pictures 
these events with no less detail than the canonical 
sources. Matthew’s Gospel in particular exemplifies 
how much the minds of Christians were pre-occupied 
towards the end of the first century with the death 
and resurrection. In the non-Marcan source (see 
above, p. 117, § 80), here reproduced more faithfully by 
Luke than by Matthew, stood the saying that, although 
that evil and adulterous generation sought a sign, 
they yet should be given none except that of Jonah. 
As Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so was the son 
of man to the later generation. In other words, Jesus 
was a sort of modern Jonah, whose advent heralded 
destruction to the Jews unless they repented, even as 
the Ninevites of old had repented at the preaching of 
the older prophet. 

In all this there is no reference to the death and resur- 
rection of Jesus. But Matthew, with passages ringing 
in his ears like the one from Mark which has just been 
cited, saw in this saying about Jonah an occasion for 
putting into the lips of Jesus a prophecy of his death 
and resurrection after three days. Had not Jonah 
been swallowed by a whale, and, after three days’ 
confinement in its entrails, vomited up afresh into 
the light of heaven? Here was a chance for this 
evangelist, who excels all the others in the art of 
discovering in the Jewish scriptures foretypes and 
prophecies of Christ. Accordingly, he re-writes his 
source as follows: ‘‘ Then certain of the scribes and 

a ee 


Pharisees answered him, saying, Master, we would see 
a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, 
An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign ; 
and there shall no sign be given to it except the sign of 
Jonah the prophet: for as Jonah was three days and 
three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son 
of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of 
the earth. The men of Nineveh shall stand up in judg- 
ment with this generation; for they repented at the 
preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah 
is here.” 

In thus rewriting his source Matthewmakes nonsense 
of it, for it was the preaching of Jonah which led the 
men of Nineveh—however much against his will—to 
repent, and not the circumstance, unknown to them, 
that on a former voyage he had met with such an odd 
mishap. In full accordance with this general absence 
of reference to his death is Jesus’s answer (§ 17) to 
the man who said: “‘ I will follow thee whithersoever thou 
goest.” Jesus does not answer him, “‘I go to meet my 
death,” as from such passages as Mark viii. 80-82, 
Mark x. 82-84, we should expect him to do, but 
merely thus: ‘‘ The foxes have burrows and the birds 
of heaven their nests, but the son of man hath not where 
to lay his head.’ No hint here of death being the 
guerdon of discipleship. At the worst, a life of home- 
less wandering is in store for those who follow him, 
as it is already the life which he has made his own. 

There is, however, one saying in this document 
which favours the view that its author knew of the 
crucifixion. It isin § 46: ‘‘ He that takes not up lis 
cross and follows me is not worthy of me.” That this 
saying was an integral part of the source, as Matthew 

and Luke inherited it, we cannot doubt. That it was 


an old saying is also to be inferred from the fact that 
Mark viii. 34 records it independently as follows: 
“ Tf anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny him- 
self, and take up his cross, and follow me.” 

Was this saying put into the lips of Jesus, ex post 
facto, after the event, so as to involve a hysteron 
proteron? Or can we let it stand, and interpret it 
apart from the crucifixion? There are grounds to 
justify the latter course. Firstly, it is certain, as 
M. Salomon Reinach has pointed out, that crucifixion 
was long antecedently to Jesus regarded as the typical 
death which the just man must expect at the hands of 
malefactors and oppressors. It is so represented in 
an eloquent passage of Plato, in which the Christians 
later on discerned a pagan prophecy of Christ. Jesus, 
of course, did not read Plato, but the idea may very 
well have been current in the Grecised parts of 
Galilee, and it seems to be glanced at in the Hebrew 
psalm xxii. 16, with which, of course, Jesus was 
familiar: ‘‘ The assembly of evil-doers have inclosed me; 
they pierced my hands and my feet.” 

Secondly, in the very lifetime of Jesus, Philo, his 
Alexandrine compatriot, constantly refers to death on 
the cross—and he had witnessed hundreds of his com- 
patriots die in this way—as if it symbolised, to, his 
mind, the extreme of disgrace and humiliation. 
Thus, in his treatise on the posterity of Cain (§ 17), 
he remarks that those who are too much attached to 
the body and to material outward goods have, as it 
were, hung themselves on lifeless objects, and, like 
persons crucified (he uses Plato’s word, anaskolopizé), 
are nailed until death to perishable matter. In 
another treatise (On Dreams, ii. § 81) the tale of 
Pharaoh’s hanging his cook suggests the same thought 


again. Like the crucified, the understanding of a 
selfish and sensual man is nailed to the tree of 
poverty-stricken ignorance. This use made of the 
idea is, it is true, quite different from that of the 
gospel, where not the self-indulgent, but the ascetic, 
undergoes crucifixion ; but they show that allegorists 
were prone to use it one way or the other. In the 
Testaments of the Patriarchs (Test. of Levi) it is 
predicted that the divine Messiah is to be crucified 
(anaskolopiz6 ), but it is not certain that this is not a 
Christian interpolation in an old Jewish document. 
It is not impossible, therefore, that we should find 
such a reference even among genuine sayings of Jesus, 
and it is far from being the only point of contact 
between the Gospels and the works of Philo, as we 
shall see later on. 

On the other hand, the saying is likely enough to 
have been slipped into the collection some time before 
it fell into the hands of Matthewand Luke. It hardly 
formed part of it originally. In any case, this saying, 
by its very uniqueness, does but render all the more 
remarkable the absence of references to an episode 
which already, in Paul, and soon in the minds of 
Christians in general, overshadows every other aspect 
of the master’s life and activity. 

(2) The horizon of Jesus, in these sayings, is 
wholly Jewish and Palestinian—one might, except 
for § 48, say Galilean ; and even the apostrophe to 
Jerusalem in the latter passage is so general in 
character that we could not, from it alone, and apart 
from the fuller Gospels, infer that the preaching begun 
in Galilee had been continued in Jerusalem. The 
only other places mentioned—Chorazin, Bethsaida, 
Capernaum—are all in Northern Palestine. 


(3) There are touches, asides, hints, presuppositions, 
in these addresses which can only belong to the earliest 
age, because they militate so sharply against the 
beliefs and prejudices of any later time. Contrast, 
for example, what is said of John the Baptist in § 14 
with the asseverations of the evangelists. Thus, 
Matthew is careful to explain to his readers that John 
the Baptist recognised Jesus as the Messiah so soon 
as he came to be baptised. ‘‘ But John would have 
hindered him, saying, I have need to be baptised by thee, 
and comest thou to me ?”’ 

Again, in the Gospel of the Ebionites, a very early 
document, John is made to ask, ‘‘ Who art thou, 
Lord?” and a voice answers from heaven: ‘‘ This is 
my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. And forth- 
with John fell down before him and said, I beseech thee, 
Lord, do thou baptise me.” 

It is the evident intention of Mark and Luke, in 
their narratives of the baptism, that their readers 
should understand John to have acclaimed Jesus as 
the Messiah from the first. The Fourth Gospel is 
still more explicit, for in it we read (i. 29) that John, 
seeing Jesus coming unto him, said: ‘‘ Behold the 
Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world; 
Sones he that sent me to baptise with water said unto me, 
Upon whomsoever thow shalt see the Spirit descending, 
and abiding upon him, the same is he that baptiseth with 
the holy spirit. And I have seen, and borne witness that 
this is the Son of God.” 

This, then, is the form in which the legend was 
fixed well before the end of the first century. It could 
not be admitted that John felt even a moment’s hesgi- 
tation in recognising Jesus as the Messiah. How 
different is the record of this non-Marcan source ! 


According to it, John, hearing in his prison of the 
works of Christ, ‘‘ sent by his disciples and said to him, 
Art thou he that should come, or are we to expect 
another ?”’ Such hesitation utterly contradicts the 
legend that John recognised Jesus in the Jordan, and 
must belong to an older and much more credible 

Again, in § 28 Jesus addresses his disciples thus: 
“Tf you, wicked as you are,” etc. In none but an 
early document could such an epithet as ‘‘ wicked”’ 
be applied to the immediate companions of Jesus. 
Their reputation for holiness was well established long 
before the first century was out. 

(4) In this document there are recorded no 
stupendous miracles such as meet us everywhere 
in Mark; and the Messiahship of Jesus is based 
as much on his teaching as on his works of power. 
“Go and report to John what ye do hear and 
see,’ he says to the disciples sent by the Baptist 
to inquire who he was. He is made (in § 23) 
to appeal to the works of power which he had 
wrought, but which the inhabitants of Chorazin and 
Bethsaida had found so singularly unconvincing. 
These works are enumerated (in § 14) to the disciples 
of John, and they are almost exclusively works of 
faith-healing such as figure in authentic histories of 
religious enthusiasm in every age and clime. The 
clause, ‘‘ the dead are raised,” may be regarded as a 
bit of rhetorical exaggeration. The only cures 
narrated or referred to in detail are those of the blind 
demoniac, in § 29, and of the paralytic child, in § 13. 
In the former of these two sections it is frankly 
acknowledged that the Jews and enemies of Jesus 
were in the habit of effecting the same sort of cures, 


as, indeed, we learn from the historian Josephus; and 
the curious story of.the expelled demon returning with 
seven demons worse than himself is an interesting 
admission that Jesus’s exorcisms were not always 
permanently successful. 

The obvious aim of the writer in telling the story of 
the centurion’s child (§ 18) is not to narrate a startling 
miracle, but to provide a background for the saying, 
“Verily I say unto you, not even in Israel have I found 
so much faith.” The concluding clause of this section, 
attesting a cure at a distance, seems to be Matthew’s 
way of rounding off the story; Luke’s ending also, which 
has nothing in common with Matthew, is probably an 
addition of his own. Their common source seems 
to have stopped short with the deliverance of the 

(5) The writer, or compiler, of this document him- 
self entertains no doubt but that Jesus became the 
Messiah at his baptism. He tells the story of John, 
and he tells the story of the temptation. He almost 
certainly related the baptism of Jesus as well, though 
Matthew and Luke are content to transcribe Mark’s 
account of it. He wishes his readers to bear in mind 
all through that the person whose teaching he repro- 
duces was he who had, in the Jordan, been spiritually 
anointed, and promoted to be Son of God and Messiah. 
But, as Harnack remarks, if we think away §§ 1 and 
2, Jesus addresses us in most of these sayings simply 
as a teacher, as a prophet, or as one greater than a 
prophet, as the last and final emissary of God. He 
nowhere says, ‘‘I am the Messiah.’ His claims are 
rather of the same order as those which Mohammed 
made on his followers. He believes himself to be the 
possessor of a new, unique, and final revelation of the 


Father’s nature. He calls his countrymen to repent- 
ance, and the Sermon on the Mount and the rest of the 
moral precepts figure forth the temper and conduct of 
repentant souls. It is only towards the close of the 
document that Jesus presents himself as a Messiah, 
and then not as a present Messiah, but as a future 
one. Except for the first two sections, we might 
gather that it was only towards the close of his career 
that the self-confidence of Jesus ripened into the con- 
viction that he would come again as king and judge. 
Thus he says, in § 48: ‘‘ Ye shall not see me again, 
until ye say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name 
[i.e., power and yersonality] of the Lord.” So in 
§ 56 he compares his future advent to the deluge that 
none foresaw except Noah and his faithful ones. And 
how singularly naive and Jewish is his conception of 
the Kingdom of God which his second advent shall 
inaugurate: ‘“‘ Ye who have followed me...... shall sit 
upon twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel.” 
The faithful, again, in § 42, are to come from east and 
west and to lie down at a banquet with Abraham and 
Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God. The sons 
of the kingdom—i.e., Jews by birth—are, indeed, to 
be cast out; but that does not mean that the guests 
admitted are not Jews by faith. Proselytes certainly 
are meant who have adopted the law, for in § 51 we 
learn that, as long as heaven and earth last, not a jot 
or tittle of the law is to be allowed to lapse. 

(6) The precepts in this document are addressed to 
the immediate disciples of Jesus, and have no reference 
to organisation and church discipline. This is in 
itself a sign that they belong to an age anterior to that 
organised Church of Jerusalem of which we already 
get glimpses in the Epistles of Paul, especially in the 


Epistle to the Galatians, which is probably the earliest 
of them. 

(7) Critics, such as Wellhausen and Nestle, agree 
that this non-Marcan source is a translation of an 
Aramaic document. Semitic terms and idioms show 
through the Greek dress in every sentence. Now, 
Papias, who flourished about 130 a.p., relates that 
Matthew, one of the twelve apostles, arranged or com- 
posed the Logia, or sayings, in the Hebrew (.e., 
Aramaic) dialect, and that these were subsequently 
translated (into Greek) by sundry persons as each of 
them best was able. 

On such a point we cannot hope to reach more than 
probability ; but the probability certainly is that Q is 
the collection of sayings thus put together. The 
existing ‘‘ Gospel according to Matthew”’ is obviously 
not the work of that apostle; for, firstly, it is written 
in Greek, and not in Hebrew or Aramaic; and, 
secondly, one who was an apostle and eye-witness of 
the ministry of Jesus would not have gone, on the 
one hand, to Mark, who was neither, for his know- 
ledge of the facts and his arrangement of them; or, 
on the other, to a Greek document like Q for the 
teaching of his master. He would have known first © 
hand the incidents of Jesus’s life, and in what sequence 
they occurred, and also how and what Jesus taught. 
The so-called Gospel of Matthew, therefore, is the 
work of an unknown writer, possibly of a Jewish 
Christian in Palestine, who handles in the main the 
same materials as Luke. It was probably compiled 
between 80 and 100 a.p., but underwent several 
redactions before it reached the form in which we 
have it in the earliest manuscripts and versions. 

What, then, is the chance that Jesus of Nazareth 


really uttered these sayings collected in Q and 
arranged, it would seem, under various heads? Most 
of them, if not all, have, if we may use the expression, 
a common cachet. Homely enough they are, and yet 
the same ethos and character pervades them, as if 
they were all or mostly the utterances of one man. 
If we had the poems of Burns scattered anonymously 
throughout an anthology, and mixed up in it with 
poems by a score of other writers, we could neverthe- 
less pick most of them out and collect them together 
as the work of a single master hand. In like manner 
a common genius pervades most of these utterances ; 
and since we find them all in a single collection and 
professing to be all from a common mint, it seems 
hypercritical, not to say absurd, to regard them as a 
collection of sayings uttered by several persons. But 
if they were uttered by some one person, then why 
not by Jesus? It is well known, and the Talmuds 
survive to attest it, that the Jews, before and after and 
during the age of Jesus, were in the habit of collecting 
and preserving notable sayings and decisions of their 
rabbis. Whether they were written down on the spot 
we do not know; but that was not impossible in an 
age when both art of writing and materials were as 
common nearly as they are to-day. No one, so far as 
I know, has ever suggested that the sayings ascribed 
in the Mishnah to Hillel, Gamaliel, Eliezer, and other 
rabbis, could never have been uttered by them. We 
can trace back the record of Jesus’s sayings many 
generations nearer to his age than we can those of 
Hillel. Why, then, deny that in the main Q may 
reflect the real teaching of Jesus? It is indeed pro- 
bable that in the process of translation into Greek 
from so dissimilar an idiom as the Semitic they may 


have been more or less recast and modified; and also 
that the Greek version, before it reached the form in 
which we have it, may have been a good deal retouched 
and adjusted to the new conceptions of Jesus which 
were growing up, especially among the Pauline con- 
verts. Yet the most searching criticism can detect 
few traces of repainting, little colour which we can be 
sure is secondary. 

Cuaptrer IX. 

WE can write a life of Julius Cesar or of Cicero, 
because we have in the first line letters, commen- 
taries, and other authentic documents written by 
them and their friends; in the second, lives written 
by Plutarch and others who had in their hands 
monuments of them, now lost; and in the third, 
masses of contemporary coins and _ inscriptions. 
Contrast with this wealth of sources the scanty 
material which remains, after the examination of the 
preceding chapters, for a portrait of Jesus of Nazareth. 
So slender is it, indeed, that it seems not absurd to 
some critics to-day to deny that he ever lived. The 
truth is that the Church, by fencing round this corner 
of history, by refusing to apply within it the canons 
by which in other fields truth is discerned from false- 
hood, by beatifying credulous ignorance and anathe- 
matising scholarship and common sense, has sur- 
rounded the whole with such a nimbus of-improba- 
bility that any clever schoolboy of the twentieth 
century is inclined to dismiss the entire New Testa- 
ment as a forgery and concoction of the priest. A 
child of my own, at the age of twelve, was set to do as 
his Sunday task a map of the missionary travels of 
Paul, and, having completed it, brought it to me for 
my approval before he showed it up to his master. 
When I had approved it, he said to me, in his most 


confidential tone: ‘Father, did St. Paul ever really 
exist?” It was evident what was in his mind. Jesus 
was not a historical personage like Pericles or Julius 
Cesar; for who save a mythical hero walks on the 
water, chides wind and storm into silence, and feeds 
thousands at once upon nothing at all? Jesus had in 
this child’s mind—and very justly too, considering the 
general character of what is called religious instruc- 
tion—taken his place alongside of Heracles and 
Dionysus. But Paul seemed to him to be more in 
touch with reality. Had he not been shipwrecked 
and imprisoned, and faced other perils of land and 
sea? Clearly he was the only quasi-historical 
personage left in the divinity lessons. If he can be 
eliminated, the schoolboy can relegate to mythology 
the whole subject-matter of these lessons. Such is 
the nemesis of creeds and orthodoxy. 

We cannot, then, aspire to write a life of Jesus. 
Even a Renan failed, and from the hands of a Farrar 
we merely get under this rubric a farrago of falsehood, 
absurdity, and charlatanry. At the best, perhaps, we 
can only hope to see Jesus, as it were, through the 
mist, ever thickening, of the opinions which the 
second and third generations of his followers formed 
of him. Between ourselves and him intervenes— 
earliest of our sources in point of time—Paul, with 
his apocalyptic preconceptions of what a Messiah had 
to be, with his turbid, swirling flood of obscure fancies, 
his epileptic ecstasy and private revelations. Next 
after him in order of time we have the non-Marcan 
document, in which, as we have seen, we have almost. 
certainly echoes, perhaps more than echoes, of his 
teaching. Nearly contemporary with this must be 
the saner parts of Mark’s Gospel, for the greater part 


of that Gospel is the work of someone who was by 
instinct and predilection a miracle-monger. Finally, 
we have the Fourth Gospel, hardly less fabulous than 
the apocryphal rigmaroles of the second and third 

Discounting all that is doubtful, what have we left? 
I think we may take it as true that some time about 
the beginning of our era there was born in Nazareth, 
of parents whose names were Joseph and Mary, a 
child who was duly circumcised and named Jesus. 
He was not their only child, for Mark introduces his 
fellow-townsmen as saying: ‘‘Is not this the carpenter, 
the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and 
Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here 
with us 2?” 

How much younger he was than John the Baptist, 
under whose influence he fell on reaching manhood, 
we do not know. Luke’s story that he was but six 
months younger is clearly impossible. It was a sore 
point with the first generation of Christians that the 
disciples of John did not merge themselves in the 
following of Jesus, but remained distinct, as is 
recorded in Acts. It was one way of controverting 
them to pretend that their master John, when he 
baptised Jesus by way of preparing him for member- 
ship in the impending messianic kingdom, also 
acclaimed him as the promised Messiah. ‘This fiction 
is in Luke’s narrative crowned by another—namely, 
by the story which brings together their two mothers 
before their births, in order that John, a foetus of six 
months, might leap in his mother’s womb when she 
saluted Mary, who had conceived the day before! A 
more reliable tradition, and anyhow one which cannot 
be reconciled with Luke’s story, is that which survives 


in many early representations on stone or in ivory of 
Jesus’s baptism. In these he stands knee-deep in the 
water, a beardless stripling, while John, a bearded 
man of greater height and age, pours water over his 
head, or, setting his hand thereon, actually ordains 

It would seem, then, as if a certain interval of time 
must have separated John and Jesus in the plenitude 
of their activities; and § 50 of the non-Marcan 
document, though obscure, yet favours such a view. 
For in this passage Jesus uses these words, or similar: 
“From the days of John the Baptist until now the 
kingdom of heaven is taken by force, and men of violence 
snatch at it.’ We infer that sundry patriots, carried 
away by John’s proclamation of the impending great 
event which was, among other things, to bring libera- 
tion from the Gentile yoke, had tried to hurry it on 
by active rebellion against the Roman Government. 
The lesson of their failure was not lost on Jesus, who, 
like Philo, believed that moral regeneration, repent- 
ance, non-resistance, justice and mercy, and in general 
a faithful observance of the laws of Jehovah, could 
alone bring it about. However we explain these 
words, they anyhow militate against the later view, 
which foreshortened the past and made John and 
Jesus full contemporaries of one another. There are 
no limits in Q of time-transition and order of events 
in the life of Jesus. If he really uttered these words— 
and he probably did, since they are so repugnant to 
later tradition—he must have uttered them late in his 

That Jesus was a successful exorcist we need not 
doubt, nor that he worked innumerable faith-cures. 
Josephus describes how a famous rabbi named Eliezer 


drew a demon out of an afflicted man through his 
nostrils, and how in issuing forth it tipped over a 
basin of water set to receive it—all this in presence 
of himself and of the Roman emperor. A generation 
later than Jesus, Apollonius of Tyana was casting out 
demons in Syria wherever he went. These demons 
talked just as they do in Mark’s narrative, and the 
stories of Apollonius, which are probably from the 
pen of his Syro-Greek disciple, Damis, read like pages 
out of Mark or Matthew. From the first the exorcists 
had a recognised position in the Church; and in the 
less advanced parts of Christendom the priests are 
still called upon to drive out by their adjurations the 
demons of madness and disease. The same expulsions 
can be daily observed in India, China, Japan, Africa— 
in fact, all round the globe. 

Everywhere, in primitive communities, certain 
individuals are reputed to possess a peculiar power 
over demons, and in West Africa a leading medicine- 
man is occasionally murdered by some rival anxious 
to possess himself of this power for his own use and 
profit. Accordingly, Mark relates how, when Jesus 
had expelled a noisy evil spirit, the crowd exclaimed, 
** With authority [or power] he commands even the 
unclean spirits, and they obey him.” Elsewhere Mark 
notes that the people found this great difference 
between Jesus on the one hand, and the scribes and 
pharisees on the other—namely, that he taught as 
one having authority or power over the spirits. It is 
beyond a doubt that Jesus regarded fever, epilepsy, 
madness, deafness, blindness, rheumatism, and all the 
other weaknesses to which flesh is heir, as the direct 
work of evil spirits. The storm-wind which churned 
the sea or inland lake into fury is equally an evil 


sprite in the Gospel story. In the Vedic poems it is 
the same; and, indeed, we have here a commonplace 
of all folklore. 

Jesus also regarded himself as gifted with the 
special power to control evil spirits; the African 
medicine-man is credited with the same by the cower- 
ing tribesmen. It is recorded that on one occasion a 
hysterical woman, who suffered from a flux of blood, 
touched the hem of Jesus’s raiment, and was healed, 
whereon Jesus felt that power had gone out of him. 
In the same way napkins or wrappers, taken from the 
body of Paul, were found to heal sufferers among his 
hearers, who applied them to themselves. The 
annals of superstition supply a thousand parallels to 
these stories. The application by Jesus of his spittle 
to the ears or eyes of the blind or deaf can. be similarly 
paralleled. We know from the Natural History of the 
elder Pliny, a Latin author of the first century, that 
the spittle of the medicine-man was a sovereign 
remedy all round the Mediterranean. The history of 
Tacitus (bk. iv., ch. 81) supplies a striking parallel 
to the stories told of Jesus. It deserves to be cited at 
length from Church and Brodribb’s excellent trans- 
lation :— 

In the months during which Vespasian was waiting 
at Alexandria for the periodical return of the summer 
gales and settled weather at sea, many wonders 
occurred, which seemed to point him out as the object 
of the favour of heaven and of the partiality of the gods. 
One of the common people of Alexandria, well known for 
his blindness, threw himself at the emperor’s knees, and 
implored him, with groans, to heal his infirmity. This 
he did by the advice of the god Serapis, whom this 
nation, devoted as it is to superstitions, worships more 
than any other divinity. He begged Vespasian that 


he would deign to moisten his cheeks and eye-balls 
with his spittle. Another with a diseased hand, at 
the counsel of the same god, prayed that the limb 
might feel the print of a Cesar’s foot. At first 
Vespasian ridiculed and repulsed them. They per- 
sisted ; and he, though on the one hand he feared the 
scandal of a fruitless attempt, yet, on the other, was 
induced, by the entreaties of the men and by the 
language of his flatterers, to hope for success. At 
last he ordered that the opinion of physicians should 
be taken as to whether such blindness and infirmity 
were within the reach of human skill. They dis- 
cussed the matter from different points of view. “In 
the one case,” they said, “the faculty of sight was not 
wholly destroyed, and might return, if the obstacles 
were removed; in the other case the limb which had 
fallen into a diseased condition might be restored if 
a healing influence were applied: such, perhaps, might 
be the pleasure of the gods, and the emperor might be 
chosen to be the minister of the divine will; at any 
rate, all the glory of a successful remedy would be 
Cesar’s, while the ridicule of failure would fall on the 
sufferers.” And so Vespasian, supposing that all 
things were possible to his good fortune, and that 
nothing was any longer past belief, with a joyful counte- 
nance, amid the intense expectation of the multitude 
of bystanders, accomplished what was required. The 
hand was instantly restored to its use, and the light 
of day again shone upon the blind. Persons actually 
present attest both facts, even now, when nothing is 
to be gained by falsehood. 

We see that the atmosphere of Alexandria, in the 
first century, in no way differed from that of Galilee ; 
there Serapis had long filled in men’s minds the place 

which Jesus presently filled in the minds of Christians. 


And Vespasian might have used to those he healed 
the words constantly addressed by Jesus to those 
whom he healed: ‘‘ Thy faith hath made thee whole.” 
The imperial cures which Tacitus here relates, on 
the testimony of men who witnessed them, who were 
still alive in his day, and who had nothing to gain by 
flattering Vespasian now that another dynasty occu- 
pied the throne, resemble the faith-healings common 
at Lourdes, and not unheard of in English Methodist 
circles. That the cures effected by Jesus were often 
due to what, in scientific phrase, we to-day term auto- 
suggestion is certain from the naive admission made 
in Mark’s Gospel that, in his own country, where they 
knew him and his kinsfolk too well to acclaim him at 
once as a prophet, ‘‘he could do no mighty work, because 
of their unbelief.” The most he could effect in the 
midst of these critical surroundings was to ‘lay his 
hands on a few sick folk and heal them”’ (Mark vi. 6). 
There is no reason to doubt that Jesus effected 
many cures of this kind beyond those which Mark 
records. When he had succeeded in effecting a few 
such cures, all would forget the failures; and his 
fame as a healer would gather volume like a snowball, 
and precede him wherever he went. We cannot 
doubt that Mark’s description of his triumphal career, 
though gathered long after the event from the lips of 
the country folk among whom his fame lingered, is 
substantially correct. It is as follows (Mark vi. 
53-56) :—‘ And when they (Jesus and his disciples) had 
crossed over to the land, they came unto Gennesaret, and 
moored to the shore. And when they were come out of 
the boat, straightway the people recognised him, and ran 
round about that whole region, and began to carry about: 
on their beds those that were sick, wherever they heard he 


was. And wheresoever he entered, into villages or into 
cities, or into the country, they laid the sick in the public 
places, and besought him that they might touch if it were 
but the border of his garment: and as many as touched 
him were made whole.” 

And, similarly, in chap. ili. 10 we read that ‘he 
had healed many, insomuch that as many as had plagues 
pressed upon him that they might touch him.” Jesus 
would have been more than human if he had not 
come to believe that he really possessed in his 
organism some peculiar power capable of counteract- 
ing disease; and, accordingly, Mark relates, as we 
noted above, how he turned round, when a woman 
had touched his garments and been healed, and 
asked, ‘“‘Who touched my garments ?” because “he 
percewed in himself that the power proceeding from him 
had gone forth.” This, of course, is a touch of 
exaggeration on the part of the story-teller, but it 
nevertheless exhibits to us the sort of belief which 
accompanied faith-healing, and still accompanies it. 
The power of healing, which among the peasants of 
Galilee marked out a man as the Messiah, is com- 
parable to the mysterious power which in our own 
generation is vested in the Mikado of Japan, who, 
in the belief of his humbler subjects, can barely nod 
his head without shaking the entire land. The 
chieftains of primitive peoples are all endowed with 
similar magic powers, which render them so dangerous 
that their names, persons, head, hair, and even 
nail-parings, are taboo—that is, sacrosanct and danger- 
ous. Mr. J. G. Frazer, in his Golden Bough, gives 
examples of chiefs and princes held to be so holy or 
taboo that a servitor walks behind them with a 
spittoon reserved specially for the royal spittle, for 


this even is endowed with such mysterious power 
as to be dangerous to any whom it may touch. The 
spittle of a Roman emperor or of a Jewish Messiah 
was equally pregnant with miraculous power. 
Mohammed also was ‘‘so highly respected by his — 
companions that, whenever he made the ablution, in 
order to say his prayers, they ran and catched the 
water that he had used; and, whenever he spit, they 
immediately licked it up, and gathered up every hair 
that fell from him with great superstition” (Sale’s 
Coran, ed. 1801, i., p. 69). 

This mysterious power, as it was chiefly revealed in 
the expulsion of evil spirits or demons, was itself 
interpreted to be a spirit, though a holy or clean one. 
Mark preserves to us the outlines of an early dispute, 
in which Jesus’s own mother and brethren took part, 
as touching the quality of the spirit within Jesus 
which enabled him to cast out demons. The scribes 
from Jerusalem, we read, said, ‘‘ He hath Beelzebub,” 
and ‘‘ By the prince of the devils he casteth out the 
devils.” No prophet can allow the quality of the 
spirit which moves him to be called in question ; 
and Jesus answers the accusation in a_ twofold 
manner. First he points out that Satan would not 
turn upon Satan, as his accusers assumed ; and in the 
second place he declares that ‘‘ all their sins shall be 
forgiven to men, and also all their blasphemies; but 
whoso shall blaspheme against the holy spirit hath never 
forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.’”’ Mohammed, 
as we sald above, defended himself much in the same 
manner and with equal vigour against those who said 
of him, ‘“ He hath an unclean spirit.” 

We have seen that in Mark’s Gospel there was no 
immediate recognition of Jesus by his disciples as the 


Messiah. Their recognition of him was slow and 
gradual and tardy, and even to the end they seem to 
have expected him, like a second David, merely to 
expel the unclean Roman from their holy soil by a 
sudden display of supernatural force. How soon the 
conviction formed itselfin Jesus’sown mind that he was 
the ‘‘ man sent from God” we do not know. Both our 
documents, Mark and Q, assume that he knew himself 
to be such from the first; but that is improbable. 
It is more likely that it was his success as a healer, 
his evident control of evil spirits, the plaudits of the 
crowd, and, above all, his own followers’ recognition 
of his supernatural réle, that forced this conviction 
upon him towards the close of hiscareer. There must 
have been an inner development of his mind and 
aspirations, although our earliest documents have lost 
all memory of it. 

And, even if Jesus at the end admitted the Messiah- 
ship thrust upon himself by his enthusiastic followers, 
it is not clear that he admitted it except in a potential 
sense. He was not the present Messiah, for the 
moral regeneration of his countrymen was only begun. 
Perhaps they were right in hailing him as a prophet, 
as a greater than John. But the Messiah, when he 
came, was to come from heaven as king and judge, 
baptising with fire; whereas John only baptised unto 
repentance with water. Now, Pilate and the priests left 
to Jesus no room during this life to play so stupendous 
apart. To carry it out he was bound to come again 
in glory from heaven. Little is certain about Jesus ; 
but there is a fair certainty that, late in his career, he 
imbued his followers with the conviction, which he 
also entertained himself, that he was destined to return 
after death and inaugurate a reign of God upon earth. 


We have described the vision which floated before 
the eyes even of a cultivated Jew of Alexandria like 
Philo—the vision of a time when the repentance and 
moral regeneration of the Jews would soften the hearts 
of the oppressors, and move them to let their captives 
go free. When that time arrived a supernatural 
presence, visible only to the faithful, would lead the 
liberated Jews of all the earth back into the land of 
promise and plenty. Jesus seems to have convinced 
himself and his followers that, as he was already an 
agent and vehicle of the divine will, so he was destined 
to come again, a supernatural presence, amid the 
clouds of heaven. That his followers, both in Galilee 
and in Jerusalem, were penetrated with this con- 
viction led to great results. It was the main psycho- 
logical factor in the visions they had of him after his 

In Acts i. 6 it is recorded that they expected him 
to come again at once, ‘‘ and restore the kingdom to 
Israel.” He did not come, and has not come yet; 
and, after nearly twenty centuries of waiting, Christian 
belief in the second coming is grown faint and tenuous. 
At the same time, the future kingdom has been spirit- 
ualised ; and the millennial corn and vine, with their 
phenomenal output of bread and wine, no longer float 
before the imaginations of the pious, as they did 
before the minds of the early generations of believers. 
Filled with such dreams of the future, Jesus’s imme- 
diate followers could not but have confirmatory visions 
of him who was to come again. Like Stephen, they 
saw him up in heaven,’where he was reposing on a 
throne at the right hand of a God who has a left and 
right, only waiting until his followers on earth had 
got things ready for his second advent. 


The hymns of that first age, as we know from Paul 
and from the Book of Revelation of John (a work of 
92-98 a.D.), bore the refrain Maranatha, the Aramaic 
equivalent of ‘‘May the Lord come.” It was this 
belief that the Christ was waiting up in heaven for 
the season to fulfil itself of his second advent in glory 
that generated the tales of his resurrection out of the 
tomb and ascension into heaven after forty days—the 
statutory and conventional period fixed among the 
Jews for all unlikely and legendary episodes. 


In these and many other respects Jesus was the child 
of his age, sharing its superstitions and prejudices. 
Much has been written of the universality of his 
teaching, as if he, alone of ancient teachers, had 
revealed an ideal whole of precept and practice applic- 
able to all ages and races. It may be doubted whether 
its universality is as real as it seems. No State, 
ancient or modern, has ever tried to regulate its 
dealings with other States on the principle of turning 
the other cheek to the smiter; and it would not be 
just to others to do so in private or municipal life. 
The object of law and police, and, in a word, of all 
government, is so to safeguard the person and liberty 
of the individual that he may make the best of himself 
and his faculties. If we allow the bully and the thief 
to insult and rob us and ours with impunity, we 
encourage him to do the same to others, and betray 
a sad want of public spirit, even if we do not, by our 
cowardice, make ourselves his accomplices in eyvil- 
doing. It has been argued that Jesus, when he 
uttered this precept, meant no more than that, in 
defending ourselves, we ought not to be actuated by 
any vindictive feeling, nor nourish any grudge against 
our oppressors. Those who thus gloss the precepts 
of Jesus are specially they who hold that he was God 
incarnate, omniscient, and morally infallible. Itis a 


pity they do not ask themselves why, in that case, he 
was not more explicit. 

The next precept in the collection (§ 5), ‘‘ To him 
that asks of thee give, and from him that would borrow 
of thee turn not away,” has been similarly glossed by 
the orthodox, and interpreted to mean simply that in 
our commercial dealings we ought to be inspired by 
generosity, and avoid meanness. If this be all, it 
must be confessed that Aristotle and other ancient 
teachers said the same thing quite as well. Certain 
it is that, applied unconditionally, such a precept 
leads to indiscriminate charity, so that its practice 
would do more harm than good. I have known ladies 
who, by giving to all who asked and lending to every- 
one without any thought of taking security, wasted 
their fortunes in a few years, and then became a 
burden on their friends and relations. 

Much of the seeming universality of the moral 
teaching of Jesus is perhaps due to two reasons: 
firstly to the fact that the Jews in his day had no 
State, but were governed by aliens, who had no 
sympathy with their religious and political notions. 
The Roman garrison just held them down by force, 
and taxed them. The Jewish polity proper had long 
ceased to exist, and consequently Jesus ignored it; 
but for that very reason the citizens and adminis- 
trators of a free, self-governing State, like our own, 
will find in a study of the political and ethical treatises 
of Plato and Aristotle more of value, more to widen 
their outlook, more of insight and sagacity, than in 
the gospel. And this fact the Catholic Church has 
amply recognised for a thousand years. We owe the 
fixed categories of moral judgment more to the Greek 
philosophers than to Christ. And, secondly, much of 


the teaching of the gospel was uttered in view of an 
impending catastrophe and liquidation of this world’s 
affairs, out of which, at a wave of the divine wand, a 
new and blessed condition was to emerge, just as the 
phoenix arises, renewed and immortal, out of its own 
ashes. Jesus felt himself to be the harbinger of a 
new and divine constitution—we cannot say of the 
world, for his horizon was rather limited to his own 
land; and this new society was not to grow slowly 
and organically out of existing circumstances, but was 
to be suddenly imposed by divine power and inter- 
ference. Hence the precepts to follow him ; to forsake 
parents, wife, children, and home; even to neglect 
the most sacred of all ancient duties—that of burying 
one’s own father. We shall point out later on what 
ravages upon civil society were afterwards. committed 
by men and women whose heads were turned by these 
dreams of a millennium. 

In Philo, it is true, we read, in a hundred passages, 
similar exhortations to abandon home and kindred, as 
Abraham had done, in order to be free to worship the 
one God. But he always has in view the case of 
proselytes. In a pagan home every meal was an act 
of communion with demons, whose idols confronted 
the eyes of all who entered. No animal was killed 
without its blood and flesh being consecrated to one 
or another of the gods whom the proselyte was taught 
to regard as impure demons. Every day of the week 
had its presiding demon, every village and city had 
arch-devils for patrons and protectors, had holidays 
and feast-days, when the legends of these demons 
were recited and rehearsed in public pantomimes and 
dances. At every street-corner was an idol, often 
obscenely devised, to which the pious were expected 


to render homage when they passed. Births, deaths, 
and marriages then, as now, were surrounded with a 
hundred superstitious observances. Lastly, the gods 
were for ever being carried in public procession ; and 
woe to those who flouted them. The Jewish proselyte, 
like the later Christian convert, was set down as an 
atheist, as a man without gods, who denied all that 
was true and violated all that was sacred. His 
presence was an insult to heaven, and was likely to 
provoke the wrath of heaven against the community 
that tolerated him, to bring down hail that ruined the 
harvest, to cause drought and famine, disease—even 
defeat at the hands of the national enemy. It was in 
view of such popular prejudices, which were directed 
against philosophers and Epicureans, as well as 
against Jewish converts, that the emperor Tiberius 
uttered the famous aphorism reported by Tacitus: 
Deorum injuria diis cure—‘ Let injuries to the gods 
be the gods’ own concern.” All this being so, it needs 
little imagination to realise the obloquy to which a 
Jewish convert exposed himself. He cut himself off 
from intercourse with his family and its religious rites. 
He could not retain or undertake ‘public offices and 
duties, because these entailed acts of public sacrifice 
and religion. Often he could not inherit, because 
in ancient society inheritance depended on the due 
funeral rites being performed, and on homage being 
offered to unseen powers which his new religion 
taught him were unclean and malign. Thus the 
convert’s position resembled that of an isolated 
Mohammedan among Hindoos, or of a similarly isolated 
Jew or Protestant in Spain or Southern Italy. The 
member of a pagan family who became a Jew must 
have done so at the cost of much personal sacrifice; 


and not the least of his sufferings must have lain in 
the forfeiture of the affections of parents and brothers 
and sisters, perhaps even of those of wife and children. 
Early Christian canonists even ruled that conversion 
annulled an existing marriage. On these aspects of 
ancient proselytism Philo, the Greek Jew of Alex- 
andria, incessantly dwells; and he often exhorts those 
who were Jews by birth not to be supercilious and 
cold towards the polytheists who, at such cost, had 
come over to the worship of the true God, but rather 
by becoming, as it were, parents and brothers and 
sisters to them, to make up for the losses they had 
sustained. The shoots thus grafted, so he warns his 
countrymen, often bear better fruit, and more accept- 
able to heaven, than the parent stock and stem. A 
good proselyte, in the sight of God, is better than a 
born Jew whois cruel and evil. For long before Jesus 
was born the Jews had disseminated over the Gentile 
world their monotheism and their customs, especially 
that of the sabbath rest. Witness the following 
passage of Philo, in his Life of Moses, ch. 4 :— 

Nearly everywhere, from East to West, there is no 
country, race, or city, which does not reject, as alien, 
the institutions of strangers—does not imagine that 
the best way of encouraging a faithful acceptance of 
its own customs is to heap dishonour on those of 
others. How differently the case stands with regard to 
our own (i.e., Jewish) institutions and beliefs! For 
these supply a motive and something to rally around 
.to barbarians (¢.e., non-Greeks), to Greeks, to inhabi- 
tants both of mainland and of islands, to races of East 
as of West, of Hurope, of Asia—of the whole inhabited 
world, from end to end of the earth. For who is there 
that does not respect to the uttermost that holy seventh 
day which brings release from toil and leisure to 


himself as to his neighbours; not to free men alone, 
but to serfs also—nay, even to the beasts of burden ? 

That this was no idle boast on the part of Philo is 
clear to anyone who considers that all round the 
Mediterranean, to this day, the seventh day of the 
week bears the Jewish name of sabbath. The other 
days often retain their old pagan names, but Saturday 
is ever the sabbath, lightly disguised as Sabbato, 
Sabbado, Samedi, Shabath, ete. To the influence of 
Jews and their proselytes alone can we ascribe this 
adoption of the Jewish word. Old Greek and Latin 
writers equally testify to the widespread observance 
of the sabbath, especially in ancient Rome. There was 
nothing distinctively Christian in it. On the contrary, 
the Christians, in order to spite the Jews, very soon 
began to violate the sabbath; and in time substituted 
their Sunday for it as the day for holding the synazis 
or ecclesia (church or assembly), at which the Jewish 
and later on the Christian Scriptures were read, and 
prayer and praise offered. Efforts were made in the 
Church sporadically, from the fourth century on, to 
suspend work on Sundays, but these never succeeded; 
and in Southern Europe there is no day of the week 
on which man and brute are harder tasked. Had the 
leaders of early Christian opinion been inspired by 
feelings of humanity, and not by mere theological 
hatred, they would have encouraged instead of dis- 
couraging the Jewish day of rest. They destroyed 
the thing, though they could not destroy the name. 
At the beginning of the twentieth century the popular 
Governments of France and Italy, which both equally 
lie under the ban of the Church, are seeking to 
enforce by legislation a day of rest for man and beast. 
But for the cantankerous opposition of the Church, 


the result aimed at in such legislation might have 
been secured eighteen centuries ago. 

Philo often dwells on the trials to which Jewish 
converts exposed themselves by their desertion of the 
old cults. Thus in his tract on Justice, § 6, he ranks 
them with orphans and widows. ‘‘ The proselyte,” he 

has turned his own kinsmen, who alone were his 
natural allies and champions, into truceless enemies 
by his repudiation of mythical fictions and polytheism 
and his adhesion to the truth; casting away all that 
his parents and grandparents and ancestors and all 
his kith and kin did homage to, he has set forth on a 
noble pilgrimage to a new land. 

And in his book About Philanthropy, § 12, he 
writes :— 

The strangers who come to us (i.e., proselytes) must 
be held worthy of every privilege, because they have 
abandoned blood-kinship, fatherland, customs, the 
holy shrines of their gods, high positions and honours ; 
and like colonists have nobly abandoned their homes, 
leaving behind myths and fictions in order to win the 
truth’s clearness of vision and embrace the worship of 
the one really existent God. Hence the divine law 
bids us love the proselytes, not only as friends and 
kinsmen, but as ourselves; sharing so far as possible 
in common with them in body and soul; in spirit we 
must have the same sorrows and joys, so that our 
society resemble one organism with divers members 
joined and knit together in a natural harmony. 

And in his description of the Therapeute or ‘‘ wor- 
shippers”’ of God, a society of ascetic Jews and 
proselytes, male and female, which had its head- 
quarters near Alexandria, but ramified all round the 

« . 


Mediterranean, Philo uses these words, specially 
applicable to those who had joined it as converts to 
Judaism :— 

Their. longing for the immortal and blessed life 
leads them to esteem this mortal: existence as already 
at an end, and they abandon their property to sons or 
daughters, or to other kinsfolk, of free will bestowing 
it on them; and, if they have no kinsfolk, then on 
their companions and friends....... But once they have 
divested themselves of their goods they are rid of all 
snares and entanglements, and they flee without a 
backward glance, abandoning brothers, children, 
wives, parents, wide circles of kinsmen, intimate 
friendships, the fautherlands in which they were bred 
and born. 

The spread of Christianity among the Gentiles, so 
far as it involved rejection of paganism and all the 
network of ties, duties, and relationships which went 
therewith, was one in character with Jewish proselyt- 
ism, and, in fact, little else than an extension thereof. 
Philo boasted that the Jews were destined to be 
teachers of true religion to the entire world; and the 
Christian missionaries in some ways carried on his 
work; for, as against the old cults of gods and 
goddesses, the monotheism taken over from the 
Jews presented itself as a simple monistic creed, and 
in relation to the times was the most radically 
sceptical and rationalist movement of the intelligence 
that Europe has ever witnessed. Such a movement, 
indeed, had already begun among the cultivated 
Greeks and Romans, and expressed itself in those 
writings of the Greek thinkers from which Jewish 
and Christian apologists and missionaries borrowed 
their most effective weapons against the pagan 


religion. But Greek scepticism was philosophical, 
aristocratic, and confined to the few; whereas the 
monotheistic propaganda, like the anti-clericalism of 
modern Catholic countries, was addressed to the 

Now we could understand such passages as 
Matthew x. 84-87! or Luke xviii. 29, were they from 
the lips of a Jewish missionary urging his faith on 
Gentiles, and warning them of the sacrifice they must 
make of old ties. And, accordingly, some critics have 
argued that such exhortations were not uttered by 
Christ, but rather reflect the persecutions to which 
Gentile converts of the new religion—the Atheists of 
the old world—were exposed at the hands of pagan 
kinsfolk and authorities. But there are insuperable 
difficulties in this view ; not the least of which is the 
fact that they are embedded in, and inextricable from, 
a larger document of which the horizon is confined to 
Galilee and Judea. Nowhere, indeed, in these 
passages is there a hint of polytheism and idolatry. 
Jewish monotheism is everywhere taken for granted, 
and presupposed as the religious background alike of 
teacher and of taught. Their context and intrinsic 
character relegate them, therefore, to the first age, 

1 «Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not 
to send peace, but a sword. For Icame to set a man at variance with 
his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in- 
law against her mother-in-law: and a man’s foes shall be they of his 
own household. He that loveth father and mother more than me is 
not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me 
is not worthy of me’’ (Matthew x. 34-37). 

“There is no man that hath left house or wife or parents or 
children for the sake of the kingdom of God who shall not receive 
many times more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life” 
(Luke xviii. 29), 

“Tf any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father and 
mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and 
his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke xiy. 26). 

a tn hd 



when the message was confined to the lost sheep of the 
house of Israel; when as yet there was no talk of 
admitting even Samaritans into the kingdom, much 
less uncircumcised Gentiles. There is, consequently, 
no alternative but to suppose that the pursuit of the 
Messianic Kingdom, as Jesus already proclaimed it, 
entailed enormous personal sacrifices. It is at once 
obvious that it was politically dangerous, and a menace 
to more than one very powerful vested interest. The 
members of the Herodian dynasty, for example, would 
not be likely to welcome with open arms the heralds 
of a cataclysm which would sweep them away. The 
Roman authorities would equally take umbrage at a 
movement which to them was indistinguishable from 
projects for their violent and instant expulsion. 
According to Luke xix. 11, the disciples, as they 
accompanied Jesus to Jerusalem for the Passover, 
supposed that the kingdom of God was vmmediately to 
appear. Far from expecting their master to be con- 
demned to death and crucified, they had hoped up to 
the last that it was he which should redeem Israel (Luke 
xxiv. 21), and (Acts i. 6) restore the kingdom to Israel. 
Such passages attest a strong patriotic element in the 
following of Jesus; and the tradition they embody is 
all the more reliable because the real course of events 
so signally falsified these early hopes and expectations. 
The early disciples believed that Jesus was destined, 
somehow or other, they knew not how, to get rid of the 
Roman incubus. He believed the same, but opposed 
and condemned the frequent émeutes of the physical- 
force party, and thereby earned from them also both 
hatred and scorn. The priests and sadducees, again, 
detested him; for, like any other established clergy, 
they were thoroughly comfortable and contented with 


their lot. What well-paid priest ever liked a prophet? 
Lastly, the Pharisees and scribes resented his more 
humane interpretation of the rule of the sabbath, his 
denunciations of the rich, his championship of the 
cause of the poor. He also endangered their monopoly 
of the teaching and exposition of the Law. In how 
many other ways he raised up enemies to himself we 
do not know; but we must ever bear in mind that 
our ignorance of the social and religious conditions of 
Judea in that age is very great, and that the stray 
gleams we get from more or less contemporary authors 
—like Philo, Josephus, the evangelists, and Tacitus— 
throw, after all, about as much light on the subject as 
two or three rushlights would throw on an entire 
landscape sunk in night. 

Our conclusion, then, is this: Our knowledge of 
the circumstances under which these sayings were 
uttered is very imperfect; but the little we do know 
does not lead us to expect them to be applicable to 
circumstances of modern life; for our modern con- 
ditions, social and political, lay beyond and outside the 
horizon of him who uttered them. The wonder is that 
so much of a teaching, framed in view of an imminent 
collapse of the political and social institutions of 
Judea in that age, has nevertheless a value in our 
own, which rejects Messianic dreams and trusts to 
slow, patient, and long effort for the amelioration of 
its ills and diseases. It may be that Jesus of Nazareth 
sharpened to a point many of his precepts, and 
imported an almost paradoxical vigour into his 
utterances, just because he desired to raise a hedge 
against the most common forms of selfishness; against 
envy, spite, illiberality, and time-serving timidity; 
against clinging to the lower forms of well-being at 


the expense of the higher ; against the suppression of 
truths which seem to menace our comforts and vested 
interests. For a sublime intransigence breathes 
through these parables and precepts: a fierce scorn 
for the rich and selfish, a tender love of the poor and 
suffering, a contempt for shams and empty conven- 
tions, an uncompromising devotion to truth, a true 
humility. There is about them a ring of real manli- 
ness; and that is why the document which records 
them has proved itself, in every age, a text-book of 
martyrdom, extorting for itself the homage, however 
hypocritical, even of clerics and oppressors. 

CHapter XI. 

Ir has been pointed out in the preceding pages that, 
thanks to the preservation of several parallel forms of 
the evangelical tradition, we are able to trace the 
successive stages or steps by which genuine personal 
traits and memories of Jesus were amplified, idealised, 
interpreted, transformed, and falsified—for there is no 
other word that fits the facts. The story of his 
baptism by John is a good example of such re- 
moulding. Mark’s account is the simplest and 
shortest. According to it, John is in the wild region 
which borders the head of the Dead Sea, a region 
unfruitful because the soil is so saturated with 
chemical salts. He exhorts his countrymen to 
repent and to reform their lives, because the promised 
kingdom is at hand and a Messiah about to appear 
who will, in his rdle as judge, drive out all bad Jews, 
but gather the good ones into a realm of lasting joy 
and peace. We know nothing of the earlier history 
of Jesus, nor what prompted him to leave his home at 
Nazareth and betake himself to the far-off cleft of the 
Jordan valley where John was conducting his mission. 
It is not rash, however, to suppose that he shared the 
widespread Messianic longings of that age, that he too 
believed the great catastrophe to be at hand, and for 
that reason sought the traditionally sacred waters of 
the Jordan in order to seal and symbolise outwardly, 


by a ceremonial bath in the holy tide, that purification 
from sin of which repentance and remorse were the 
initial stage. He doubtless at that time believed, like 
other Jews, that the taint of sin was in some way or 
other akin to a physical stain, and that actual washing 
in a traditionally sacred river helped to efface it. 
Whether he continued to believe in the moral efficacy 
of material ablutions is doubtful, for in his teaching 
he never,! so far as our record extends, insisted on 
baptism. At the very moment in which, after 
plunging himself in the Jordan’s stream, he ascended 
out of the water, he saw, writes Mark, the heavens 
cloven asunder and the Spirit like a dove descending 
into (or upon) himself. Some ancient texts of Mark 
add here, and abiding in him. Forthwith, the record 
continues, a voice from heaven, Thou art my son beloved 
above others ; in thee am I well pleased. 

This narrative does not imply that anyone saw the 
vision or heard the voice except Jesus himself, and 
therefore it in no way conflicts with well-known facts 
of sudden conversion and of religious psychology in 
general. We are, in general, ignorant of what forces 
ultimately control and generate our internal experi- 
ences and moral development. ‘To appeal to cerebral 
processes and to heredity simply pushes the problem 
further back; to appeal to the contact and society of 
others is to explain nothing, for the same problem 
arises in the case of each of them. One thing is 

1 The only text in which he enjoins baptism is Matthew xxviii. 19: 
‘¢ baptising them into the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.’ 
But there is the very ancient and weighty evidence of Eusebius the 
historian that these words are an interpolation, and that instead of 
them the words in my name, and no more, originally stood in the text. 
The last twelve verses of Mark are notoriously a later addition to that 


certain—namely, that nothing is more common in 
certain exalted and abnormal temperaments than the 
hearing of sudden internal calls and voices. It would 
seem as if ideals we have long brooded over, intense 
aspirations which have long preoccupied us, could 
suddenly, if an occasion presents itself, gather force 
and transform themselves into, as it were, a higher 
personality and constitute another being within us— 
could so address and speak to us, even confront us 
face to face. Some of us, moreover, seem to possess 
a second personality not traceable in our conscious 
life, nor connected with it by the tie of memory, but 
capable, under certain abnormal mental conditions, 
akin to. but not identical with the morbid state 
of madness—whatever madness means—of taking 
possession of our organism.- The excitement natural 
to the occasion of his baptism may well have induced 
in Jesus’s case such a mental crisis and paroxysm. 
He suddenly became aware in himself that he was the 
chosen Messiah. His own age, almost his own con- 
temporary society, supply the elements of his vision, 
and we need not seek them beyond. The holy spirit 
to his excited imagination appeared asa dove. Why? 
Because in Syria and Palestine in that age the dove 
was a sacred bird, never molested or killed, being 
protected by ancient and widespread religious taboos. 
Philo, in his dreamy allegorical way, seeks to account 
for the bird’s sacrosanctity. As the best of animals, 
he says, the lamb is a symbol of the purification of 
what is best in us—namely, our mind and intelligence ; 
so also birds, light and winged, symbolise the word or 
logos, which moves more swiftly than an arrow and 
penetrates everywhere; and because logos or spoken 
word is twofold, false or true, it is symbolised by a 


yoke of turtle-doves or of pigeons.! If it be objected 
that Philo here speaks of logos, whereas it was a spirit 
that entered Jesus, it is enough to answer that the 
teachers of the early Church did not distinguish 
between logos and spirit, and that in the earliest 
liturgies* the logos, and not the spirit, is represented 
as having on this occasion descended and entered 
Jesus. In several other passages? Philo declares the 
divine wisdom and spirit to be ‘‘ symbolically called a 
turtle-dove”’ because that wisdom loves solitude. In 
rabbinic tradition, equally, the Spirit of God brooded 
upon the face of the waters (Genesis i. 1) like a dove ; 
and it is the dove in the legend of the Flood which 
returns to Noah in the ark bearing good news in the 
form of an olive-leaf plucked off. The idea of a soul 
entering or quitting the body in the form of a bird is 
widespread. In the Odyssey, xi. 222, the soul of a 
hero flutters up like a bird and flies off; and in Celtic 
myths the good souls appear as white birds, and 
especially as white doves. The idea meets us every- 
where in myths old and new. The other element in 
the vision, the voice from heaven, is still commoner 
in Jewish tradition, and in the earliest Talmuds we 
have frequent references to the Bath Kol, as it was 
called. Thus, in the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedr., 
fol. xi. 1), we read how when Hillel, a rabbi and older 
contemporary of Jesus, was walking in Jericho, the 
Bath Kol bore witness that he was one who for his 
righteousness merited that the Holy Spirit should 
dwell within him. The Bath Kol once rendered in 

1 De mutatione Nominum, ch. 42. 

2 #.g., of Serapion of Thmuis, circa a.p, 330. 

3 Quis rerum Divinarum heres ? ‘* Who is the heir of divine things ?”’ 
chs. 25 and 48, and Philo, ed. Mangey, i. 506. 


Jabneh the same testimony in favour of the child 
Samuel. ; 

The story of Hillel is an exact parallel to that of 
Jesus, and has somewhat embarrassed orthodox divines, 
bound by their prejudices to regard everything related 
of Jesus in the Gospels as unique. Thus the learned 
English Hebraist of the seventeenth century, Bishop 
Lightfoote, in his commentary on Matthew, adduces 
the passage about Hillel above cited, and then adds 
these quaint remarks :— 

I cannot but suspect that we have here either 
fables, or that these voices from heaven were by 
magic arts contrived to do honour to the rabbis...... 
You may, my reader, safely suppose, in the case of a 
race so contented to be deceived as the Jews, that 
these voices, which they believed to be from heaven 
and called by the name Bath Kol, were either formed 
in the air by the Devil in order to impose on the 
people, or by the magicians by means of their devilish 
arts in order to promote their own interests. 

Philo, the contemporary of Jesus, attempts a 
philosophical explanation of the Bath Kol, and of the 
appearance of fire which attends it, in his work on 
the Ten Oracles (?.e., commandments) :— 

God is not like a man in need of mouth and tongue 
and larynx, but He seems to me on this occasion (viz., 
the giving of the law on Sinai) to have worked an august 
and holy miracle. He bade sound to be created 
unseen in the air, a perfectly harmonious sound 
more wonderful than any instruments give forth, not 
soulless indeed, yet not composed of body and soul 
together like a living being, but a rational soul, full of 
clearness and distinctness, which gave a form to the 
air and distended it and changed it into flame-like 


fire, and, like breath through a trumpet, sounded forth 
such an articulate voice as that those far off, equally 
with those who were close by, seemed to hear it 
address them. 

In the so-called Testaments of the Patriarchs, a 
Hebrew apocryph, composed early in the second 
century 8B.c. and surviving in a Greek translation, we 
have (Test. of Levi, ch. xviii.) a Messianic hymn in 
honour of the Maccabean priest John Hyrcanus 
(according to the learned editor, Dr. Charles) which 
may, with other documents and tales of the same 
kind, have inspired the story of the heavenly voice 
heard at the baptism of Jesus, as well as other 
features of the Christian myth—e.g., the Star in the 
East. It runs as follows in Dr. Charles’s version :— 

Then shall the Lord raise up a new priest, 

And to him all the words of the Lord shall be 
revealed ; 

And he shall execute a righteous judgment upon the 
earth for a multitude of days. 

And his star shall arise in heaven as of a king, 

Lighting up the light of Knowledge as the sun the day, 

And he shall be magnified in the world. 

He shall shine forth as the sun on the earth, 

And shall remove all darkness from under heaven, 

And there shall be peace in all the earth. 

The heavens shall exult in his days, 

And the earth be glad, 

And the clouds shall rejoice ; 

And the knowledge of the Lord shall be poured forth 
upon the earth, as the water of the seas ; 

And the angels of the glory of the presence of the 
Lord shall be glad in him. 

The heavens shall be opened, 


And from the temple of glory shall come upon him 

With the Father’s voice as from Abraham to Isaac. 

And the glory of the Most High shall be uttered over 

And the spirit of understanding and sanctification 
shall rest upon him [in the water]}...... 

And in his priesthood the Gentiles shall be multiplied 
in knowledge upon the earth, 

And enlightened through the grace of the Lord : 

In his priesthood shall sin come to an end, 

And the lawless shall cease to do evil. 

And he shall open the gates of paradise, 

And shall remove the threatening sword against Adam. 

And he shall give to the saints to eat from the treeof life, 

And the spirit of holiness shall be on them. 

And Belial shall be bound by him, 

And he shall give power to his children to tread on 
the evil spirits. 

And the Lord shall rejoice in his children, 

And be well pleased in his beloved ones for ever. 

In Mark, then, John the Baptist does not recognise 
Jesus as the Messiah, and the experience of the Spirit’s 
descent and of the voice belongs to Jesus alone. In 
Matthew the story grows, for it is assumed that John 
recognised him, and, as being Jesus’s inferior, sought 
to dissuade him from being baptised by himself, 
saying, ‘‘I have need to be baptised by thee, and thou 
comest unto me.’ Matthew also makes the Bath Kol 
speak of Jesus in the third person, and say, *‘ Yonder 
man is my son beloved.”” We are thus given to under- 
stand that Jesus was proclaimed Messiah to all who were 
present, and not to himself alone. Lastly, Luke takes 

1 The words in the water are a Christian addition. 


care that his readers should not regard the descent of 
the dove as a merely subjective experience of Jesus, 
for he goes out of his way to declare that the Spirit 
descended in corporeal or material form as a dove. 
Thus the vision is externalised, and becomes an objec- 
tive experience, not of Jesus only, but of all the people. 
Some early texts of Matthew furnish a fresh wonder, 
and relate that ‘“‘ when Jesus was baptised a great light 
shone around from the water, so that all congregated 
there were afraid.” Other fresh details were soon added, 
which, however, did not gain a footing in the canonical 
tradition. Thus Lactantius, a Latin Father of about 
800 4.D., records that the dove was a white one, such 
as a pure spirit is likely to embody itself in; and, 
according to another tradition of that age or earlier, - 
the voice came out of a luminous cloud, the waters of 
Jordan banked themselves up in honour of Jesus, and 
he walked upon them. In the Gospel of the Hebrews, 
an Aramaic Gospel used by the Jewish Christians of 
Palestine, the dove seems to have been omitted, for, 
according to Jerome, the Latin Father, this document 
related the descent of the Spirit thus: “‘ But it came 
to pass, when the Lord had gone up out of the water, 
the entire stream of the Holy Spirit came down and 
was at rest upon him, and said to him: My son, in all 
the prophecies I awaited thee, that thou mightest come 
and I rest and settle in thee; for thou art my resting- 
place, thou art my first begotten son, who rulest for 
ever.” The idea that a fire was kindled in the Jordan 
at the baptism was suggested by many old myths. 
‘The idea,” writes Robertson Smith (Religion of the 
Semites, Lecture V., p. 175), ‘‘that the godhead 
consecrates waters by descending into them appears 
at Aphaca (in Syria) in a peculiar form associated 


with the astral character, which, at least in later times, 
was ascribed to the goddess Astarte. It was believed 
that the goddess on a certain day of the year descended 
into the river, in the form of a fiery star, from the top 
of Lebanon.” In the old hymns the River Jordan is 
represented as having been hallowed by the descent 
on it of the fire of the Spirit, and the immersion in it. 
of the son of God. An enormous dragon also lurked 
in the water, and was trampled underfoot by Jesus. 
There was a local myth of a dragon that haunted the 
waters of the Orontes,! and a similar tradition about 
the Jordan found its way into the early Church hymns 
sung at the commemoration of Christ’s baptism. 

It is fairly certain that in the primitive text of 
Luke the voice from heaven said: ‘‘ Thou art my beloved 
son, this day have I begotten thee,’ repeating the words 
of Psalm ii. 7; and the same reading occurred in the 
Gospel of the so-called Ebionites, or Christians of 
Palestine who rejected the legend of the Virgin Birth.? 
The idea conveyed by these words is that Jesus was 
spiritually re-born or regenerated on this occasion, a 
new soul, as it were, being engendered in him by the 
spirit which now entered into him and thenceforth 
inspired his words and actions. The same idea 
underlies the older reading of ch. i., verse 18, of the 
Fourth Gospel, where it is said that Christ, the Word 
or Reason, the light of the world, was engendered or 
“begotten not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of 
the will of man, but of God”; and in the same Gospel, 
iii. 8 and 8, Jesus assures Nicodemus that ‘‘ unless a 
man be born from above”’ (or over again) ‘‘ of water and 

" Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites, Second Edition, Lect. 
ap iDer uit hs 
2 See below, p. 180. 


spirit, he’? cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Thus 
formulated, the doctrine of the re-birth of Jesus in 
baptism was destined to have a long and interesting 
history. It was believed by zoologists of the ancient 
world that fish are born of the water without commerce 
on the part of the parents. Fish were also sacred or 
taboo all over ancient Syria. The early Christians, 
from fear of persecution or instinctive love of mystery, 
were prone to conceal under symbols the objects they 
revered, and the fish was accordingly chosen as a 
symbol of Jesus Christ. He was the great fish, 
his followers were little fish; and Tertullian of 
Carthage begins his defence of baptism with water 
against those who denied its need and utility with the 
words: ‘‘ We little fishes, following the example of our 
Fish [Ichthun] Jesus Christ, are born in the water, nor 
otherwise than by abiding in the water’’—t.e., in the 
regenerate state—‘“‘ are we in a state of salvation.” In 
the old Roman catacombs the sign of the fish meets 
the eye at every turn. The most striking monument 
of the kind is in the museum of the Greek monastery 
of Grotta Ferrata, near Rome. It is a large marble 
receptacle used for storing the water which has been 
blessed on January 6th, the feast of the baptism of 
Christ. It is adorned all round with elaborate 
sculptures, perhaps of the age of Constantine or 
earlier. From the summit of an Ionic colonnade 
human figures jump head foremost into the water 
below, and are there depicted as swimming in the 
form of fishes round about a single gigantic fish, who 
symbolises Christ. On a promontory opposite sit two 
figures, intended, it would seem, for the apostles 
whom Jesus made “ fishers of men,” hauling up some 
of the fish with line and pulley. Presumably the 


latter are for transference into the kingdom of heaven. 
On the opposite side is another large fish alone in the 
water, over the nose of which a large naked human 
figure pours out a canistrum, or jar of some fluid. 
This figure may represent John the Baptist presiding 
over the spiritual anointing of Christ. Tertullian 
wrote about 200 4.p., while the meaning of the symbol- 
ism was still fresh in men’s minds. In the third 
century this interpretation of the baptism of Jesus 
came to be condemned as heretical in Rome, and was 
supplanted by the teaching that he was Messiah, son 
of God, filled plenarily with the holy Spirit from the 
moment of his conception by the Virgin Mary. It 
then became necessary to find an orthodox interpreta- 
tion of the fish symbol; and in the early fourth 
century the word Jxthus was explained as an anagram, 
as follows: Iesus Xristos Theow Uios Sétér—i.e., Jesus 
Christ, of God son, saviour. 

In outlying Eastern regions of Christendom, how- 
ever, where the primitive conceptions of the religion 
lived on longer than in Rome, that great workshop of 
doctrinal changes, the idea of the baptismal regenera- 
tion of Jesus, and of his adoption in the Jordan as son 
of God, lived on for ages. In the West, as late as the 
beginning of the ninth century, Elipandus of Toledo, 
the primate of Spain, was condemned for holding it. 
The early Christian writers of Africa and Italy enter- 
tained it. It was held in Sicily, and the Fratricelli 
attributed it to their master and founder, St. Francis 
of Assisi. In the Kast it long remained a fundamental 
tenet of Syriac and Armenian Christianity. Among 
the Armenians it was not only believed that Jesus was 
anointed by the Spirit and became Christ and son of 
God at his baptism, but John the Baptist was believed 


to have then ordained him, by laying his hand on his 
head and imparting to him the triple dignity or grace 
of king, high priest, and prophet. 

In the synoptic Gospels we do not meet with this 
idea that Jesus was reborn in baptism; but in all of 
them Jesus is regarded as having begun his higher 
spiritual life, his messianic and quasi-divine career, 
from the moment when the Spirit took possession of 
him. Thus Luke represents him as entering almost 
immediately his home synagogue of Nazareth, and 
appropriating to himself the words of Isaiah :—“‘ The 
spirit of the Lord is upon me, wherefore he hath anointed 
me to preach good tidings to the poor, hath sent me to 
proclaim to the prisoners forgiveness, and to the blind 
recovery of sight.” 

Of Jesus’s life before his baptism by John the 
earliest gospel tradition, as reflected in Mark, knew 
nothing. In the perspective of the sub-apostolic age 
his baptism, his illumination by the Spirit, was the 
starting-point of his career; and accordingly the 
following words are, in Acts i. 21, set in the mouth of 
the chief apostle, Peter :—‘‘ All the time that the Lord 
Jesus went in and went out among us, beginning from 
the baptism of John.” 

It is, then, natural that the earliest of the annual 
feasts of the Christian Church, not directly continued 
and taken over from the parent Judaism, should have 
commemorated the baptism. It was fixed by the 
followers of the Egyptian Gnostic Basilides, early in 
the second century, on January 6th, which was, it 
seems, the day on which the Egyptians solemnly 
blessed the Nile, and then filled their cisterns from it. 
Galleys were waiting in the harbour of Alexandria to 
convey the water thus blessed to the shrines of Isis 


all round the Mediterranean; and a Greek writer of 
the age of the Antonines, Aristides Rhetor, relates how 
the water thus consecrated was improved, like good 
wine, by keeping. It was better and purer at the end 
of one year than when it was first drawn up, and at 
the end of the second year than of the first, and so on 
even up to four years! Chrysostom, the great Greek 
Father, towards the end of the fourth century, in a 
sermon delivered at Antioch on January 6th, uses 
identical language of the water then drawn up, con- 
secrated, and stored for use in baptisms. The water 
taken up and blessed at this feast was supposed to 
have the same grace for the healing of the sick and 
the remission of the sins of those who bathed in it as 
the waters of the Jordan. The hymns sung at this 
festival of the Manifestation or Epiphany embodied 
the idea of Jesus’s spiritual birth at his baptism ; and 
when, in the fourth century, the idea arose of feasting 
his physical birth, this new feast, for want of a better 
day, was tacked on to the earlier one of January 6th, 
so that both births, the physical and the spiritual, 
might be commemorated together. In Alexandria, 
Rome, Constantinople, and Antioch, the feast of the 
physical birth was, between 360 and 450, transferred 
to December 25th, the old Mithraic feast of the 
birthday of the sun—natalis invicti Solis. But the 
far-off Churches of the Hast rejected this innovation, 
which began in Rome, and taxed those who adopted 
it with sun-worship and idolatry. The Armenian 
Church to this day refuses to feast the birth from the 
Virgin on December 25th, and keeps the commemora- 
tion on January 6th, defending its usage on the 
ground that Jesus was baptised exactly on his thirtieth 
birthday, and that his human and spiritual births 


ought, for historical and symbolic reasons, to be 
feasted together. 

Luke is the only authority who informs us that 
Jesus was thirty years old when he was baptised, and 
his statement lies under some suspicion. His text is 
much disturbed at this point (iii. 28), and it is not 
improbable that it originally ran thus :—‘‘ And Jesus 
himself, when he began to be God (or divine), was 
about thirty years of age, being, as he was legally 
reckoned to be, son of Joseph.” 

Why thirty? Perhaps this number is due to the 
belief, vouched for by Jerome and his Hebrew teacher, 
of the Jewish rabbis of the first century, that when a 
man attains the age of thirty a new soul is born within 
him, transcending in moral dignity and value the soul 
derived from his mother at birth. 

The legend of Zoroaster offers also a striking 
parallel to the story of Jesus. Of him it was related 
that in his thirtieth year he was enlightened by the 
descent upon him of the Vohu mano—i.e., the Good 
Thought or Spirit. At the same time he overcame 
the evil spirit, Angra Mainyu, or Ahriman, who 
offered to him, as Satan offers to Jesus, rule over all 
the nations, if he would only renounce the good law 
and worship of Mazda, the good deity. The answer 
made by the old Persian Redeemer to the Evil One is 
similar to that returned by Jesus: ‘‘ The words taught 
by Mazda, these are my weapons, my best weapons....... 
This I ask thee, Teach me the truth, O Lord.” The 
Jews had lived much in contact with the Persians, and 
had been profoundly influenced by their demonology. 
It is, therefore, not impossible that, even if the story 
of the enlightenment and temptation of Jesus was not 

directly imitated from Mazdeism, it was anyhow 
| N 

under its influence that the enlightenment of Jesus 
was placed on his thirtieth birthday. 

The Jewish Christians of Palestine at an early date 
taught that Jesus was chosen out to be anointed the 
Messiah because he was righteous above all men, and 
had kept the Jewish law as no man had ever done 
before him. Other men who attain an equal degree 
of moral perfection are to be considered and called 
Christs. Similarly Paul attests that Jesus,in hisearthly 
life, ‘‘ was under the law’’; that he was ‘‘ a minister 
of the circumcision for the sake of God’s truth, so as to 
give effect to the promises made of old to God’s people”’ 
(Rom. xv. 8). When he adds that he knew not sin 
(2 Cor. v. 21), he surely means that he entirely 
fulfilled the law, the transgression of which alone con- 
stituted sin to the mind of a Jew. 

Perhaps, however, the Christology which made the 
baptism the moment of Jesus’s promotion to the réle 
and title of Anointed Messiah and Son of God was 
later than that which we can trace in the letters of 
Paul, and also in the Acts of the Apostles (see above, 
p. 175); for, according to these, Jesus was invested 
with the Sonship—that is to say, the réle of son or 
servant of Jahveh—not at baptism, but in and through 
his resurrection. Thus in Romans i. 8 Paul asserts 
that he was ‘‘ born of the seed of David according to the 
flesh, and was constituted Son of God with power, 
according to the Spirit of holiness, through resurrection 
from the dead.” However, this conception is not really 
incompatible with the view of the baptism taken by 
Mark; for according to this Jesus found, as Loisy 
says, in his baptism a sure revelation of his messianic 
role. The conviction of his divine sonship then took 
hold of him with a force which it had not before 


possessed, and which it was never afterwards to lose. 
This ig probably the kernel of fact which underlies 
the traditional story in the simple form in which 
Mark tells it. But the Messiah of Jewish tradition 
was to play a far more glorious part than Jesus played. 
He crowned with a miserable death a life of physical 
weakness, having achieved no work worthy of the 
Messiah who was to come. If he was really Messiah, 
then his main task was still in the future; his glory 
still awaited him. Accordingly, a second advent was 
postulated, when he would come in power to judge 
the world, and make good the shortcomings and ill 
success of his first mission, when he came in the guise 
of weak and sinful humanity. The. resurrection was 
the beginning of this new epoch of his activity. His 
followers were convinced, from his apparitions to them, 
that he was still alive and in heaven, seated on a throne 
at the right hand of his Father. He had triumphed 
here over all the incentives of human appetites and 
earthlyambition; he had even surmounted the supreme 
temptation and risk of death. The spirit communi- 
cated to him in the Jordan was eternal, and con- 
stituted him, its recipient, immortal life itself. He 
had died in order to live an ampler life, and had now 
entered into the glory which by nature belongs to the 
Messiah. Before the generation which knew him in 
the flesh should pass away, he was destined to return 
on the clouds of heaven, and bring about a restitution 
of all things, as sudden as it would be glorious. To 
his followers was left the task, as regarded themselves, 
of watching and praying for this second coming; as 
regarded others, of reforming and preparing them for 
the great event. : 

But what is interesting about this early phase of 


opinion about Jesus is that in it he is not yet deified ; 
until the baptism or the resurrection intervenes to 
advance and promote him, he is not regarded as other 
than a man born of men. A writer of the epoch 
130-150, Justin Martyr, expressly testifies that this 
was the opinion of most Christians; and his testi- 
mony is the more striking because he was himself 
convinced—though on grounds of prophecy rather 
than of human evidence—that Jesus was miraculously 
begotten by the Spirit of a virgin, and was, from the 
moment of his supernatural conception, the incarnate 
Word of God. The passage I allude to is in an imag!- 
nary dialogue, or conversation, of about a.p. 135, held 
with a Jew called Tryphon. The latter has remarked 
that those followers of Jesus who reject the story of 
the virgin-birth—a pagan myth modelled, he says, on 
that of Danae—and who hold, rather, that Jesus was 
born an ordinary man, and was chosen out by Provi- 
dence to be anointed (kechristhai), and so became 
Christ (i.e., the Lord’s anointed or Messiah), appear 
to say what is the more probable. ‘‘ For,” he adds, 
‘* we all expect the Christ to be born a man of men, 
and that Elias will anoint him when he comes.” 
Justin’s answer to this criticism is as follows :— 

It is quite true that some people of our kind 
acknowledge him to be Christ, but at the same time 
declare him to have been a man of men. I, however, 
cannot agree with them, and will not do so, even if the 
majority (of Christians) insist on this opinion and 
impart it tome; for by Christ himself we have been 
commanded to base our conclusions, not on human 
teachings, but upon predictions set forth by the 
blessed prophets and imparted in his own teaching. 

We gather from the above that the majority of 


Christians were more open to historical considerations 
and less ready than Justin to sacrifice them to a priori 
prophetic constructions. It is not, perhaps, rash to 
assume that this majority constituted the official 
Church of Rome, in which the Petrine traditions still 
flourished. For the point of view of “‘ the majority,” 
as Justin here represents it, is exactly that of Mark’s 
Gospel, which was already regarded by Papias as in 
some special manner representing Peter’s teaching. 
Alone among the Synoptics, it knows nothing of the 
legends which so soon grew up about the birth and 
childhood of Jesus; it is indeed, by implication, even 
hostile to them. There are also good reasons for 
believing that Justin, though he lived in Rome, was 
out of sympathy, perhaps not even in communion, 
- with the official Church of that city. He never, so he 
says in the Acts of his Martyrdom, during his two 
terms of residence in Rome, frequented or attended 
any of the Christian conventicles there, with the single 
_ exception of the room over the bath-house of Martin 
Timotinus, in which he taught himself. He clearly 
avoided all the Roman churches but one. Why? 
The art of the catacombs testifies to the preponderating 
stress laid on the Baptism of Jesus in the Roman 
Church of the second century. Justin, on the other 
hand, transfers to the conception and virgin-birth the 
importance which the majority of Roman believers, 
being of a more primitive cast, still attached to the 

The earliest defence of Christianity written in Latin 
is probably a dialogue entitled Octavius, written about 
the year 163 by a Roman barrister, M. Minucius Felix." 

1 Some‘critics, however, argue that it was written after Tertullian. 


In this dialogue the hostile interlocutor assails the 
Christians for paying divine honours to a crucified 
criminal. The apologist answers that his opponent 1s 
far from the truth when he supposes that a criminal 
deserved to be believed to be divine, or that an earthly 
man could be believed to be such by the Christians. 
And he hurls back the charge of anthropolatry at the 
pagan persecutors. They are the ones to be really 
pitied, because their entire hopes are set on a mortal 
man, who ceases to aid them when he dies. The 
Egyptians, for example, choose out a man and worship 
him, set themselves to propitiate him, consult him as 
an oracle about everything, slay victims in his honour. 
And yet he who, in the eyes of others, is thus made a 
god is surely, in his own, but a man, whether he will 
or not. He may deceive others; he cannot himself. 
The writer, after thus scathing the cult of Antinous, 
goes on to glance at Cesar-worship. ‘‘ Princes and 
kings,” he says, 
might fairly be flattered as men mighty and elect, but the 
‘homage paid to them as gods is false. It is truer to 
bestow honour on a man because he is renowned, and 
sweeter to bestow love on him because he is best of his 
kind. But, instead of this, the pagans invoke the god- 
head of kings, pray to their images, appeal, when 
accused of aught, to their genius—that is, their demon ; 
and so it is held less risky to perjure yourself by the 
genius of Jove than by that of the king. 

Lactantius, another Latin apologist at the beginning 
of the fourth century, holds similar language, in a 
passage which merits citation because it so admirably 
sums up the earlier conceptions of Jesus enter- 
tained in the Church before his deification @ outrance ; 
for this was only accomplished later on, in the 


Councils called orthodox. The passage is in a work 
On True Wisdom, ch. 14 :— 

As to what were the ways of God and what his 
precepts, we are left neither in doubt nor in darkness. 
For God, when he saw that wickedness and the cults 
of false gods had grown so strong all over the earth 
that his name was almost effaced from men’s minds, 
eRe sent his son, the chief (07 prince) of angels, as his 
deputy to mankind, to convert them from impious 
and vain cults to knowledge and worship of the true 
God; and likewise to lead their minds from folly to 
wisdom, from iniquity to works of justice. These are 
the ways of God, in which he instructed him to walk; 
these the precepts which he enjoined him to keep. 
But he in turn, in exemplary fashion, showed his faith 
in God, for he taught that God is one, and that he 
alone ought to be worshipped. Nor did he himself 
ever say that he was God, because he would not have 
kept faith if, after being sent to make away with 
polytheism and vindicate the one, he had brought in 
another beside the one. That would not have been to 
preach and proclaim the one God, but to push himself 
forward in the place of him that had sent him, and 
so to separate himself from him to manifest whom he 
had come. For the very reason that he proved himself 
so faithful, that he arrogated no honours whatever 
to himself, devoting himself ratber to fulfilling the 
commands of him that sent him, he was rewarded 
with the dignity of being a priest for ever, with the 
honour of being supreme king, with the authority of 
judge, and with the name of God. 

The same profound contrast with the Christology 
which boasts itself to be orthodox is found in many 
other early Christian writers ; but I will only adduce 
a single other example. In Syriac and old Armenian 


are preserved twenty-three homilies, written by a 
Syrian Father, Aphraates, about the years 330-850. 
The seventeenth of these combats the Jews, who taxed 
the Christians with worshipping a crucified man— 
viz., Jesus—and calling him God; also with asserting 
that he was Son of God, whereas God has not sons. 
Aphraates’s defence is hardly that of an orthodox 
Christian. ‘‘ The venerable name of Godhood,” he 
has been given to just men themselves, and they have 
been held worthy to be called by it. And men in 
whom God has found pleasure he has himself called 
his sons and friends. Thus, when he chose Moses as 
his friend and beloved one and as leader of his people, 
and constituted him teacher and priest, he called him 
God. For he said to him: “I have appointed thee God 
unto Pharaoh.” And forthwith he gave him his priest 
as his prophet. “ Verily shall Aaron thy brother speak 
for thee to Pharaoh; unto him shalt thou be as God, but 
he shall be thy interpreter.”’...... Again it is written, “Ye 
are sons of the Lord your God.” And about Solomon 
he said: “He shall be to me as son, and I will be to him 
as father.” We, therefore, in the same way do call 
Son of God the Christ through whom we have come 
to know God, just as he called Israel his firstborn son, 
and said of Solomon: “He shall be a son unto me.” 
We call him God, however, just as he called Moses 
with his own name....... Moreover, the name of God- 
hood is given by way of very great honour in the 
world, and God has imposed it upon whom he chooses. 
5 sissies However transcendent and venerable be the name 
of Godhood, he has not denied it to the just. 

Such was the sort of deification still accorded to 
Jesus in the fourth century in the Eastern Churches 
that lay outside the confederated Churches of the Roman 


Empire. In them dogma was not yet brought up to 
date. These regions were too widely leavened with 
Jewish monotheism for the higher Christology, as it 
is called, to take root so early as the first half of the 
fourth century. Even in the Western world it was 
probably exceptional, until, with the defeat of Arianism, 
the last gleam of good sense and reason in Christian 
theology was extinguished. 

Nothing is more certain than that the title Son of 
God, as applied to Jesus in the earliest evangelical 
texts, meant no more than Servant of God or Messiah. 
It was only when the religion was spread among 
pagans, accustomed to the idea of deified kings and 
emperors, that the deification of Jesus began to be 
possible. Aphraates even asserts that when the 
Church called Jesus God no more was intended than 
the promotion accorded to the Caesars. Orthodox 
historians have sedulously kept out of sight this early 
and humanistic view of Jesus, which was the counter- 
part of the equally primitive view that at the baptism 
the descent of the Spirit constituted him Prophet and 
Messiah. Until this spiritual crisis was reached he 
was in no wise different from other men, except in his 
more complete righteousness. Between this early 
standpoint and the orthodoxy evolved by the doctors 
of Rome and Alexandria, in the fourth and fifth 
centuries, a great gulf yawns. The Mahommedan 
Koran reprobates as blasphemous the deification of 
Christ; in doing so it is far nearer to the primitive 
faith of the Church than any of the Christian creeds 
of to-day. ‘‘ Jesus,” we read in ch. 48 of that book, ‘‘is 
no other than a servant whom God favoured with the 
giftof prophecy, and appointed him for anexample,...... 
and he shall be a sign of the approach of the last hour.” 

Cuapter XII. 

Ir is admitted, even by orthodox divines, as a reason 
why Mark’s Gospel must embody the earliest form of 
evangelical tradition, that its author knew nothing of 
the birth and childhood of Jesus. It is also widely 
recognised by them that the story of the Virgin Birth 
was not divulged in the first apostolic age, nor revealed 
to the Church until Peter and Paul and the rest of the 
apostles had passed away; that the contemporaries of 
Jesus regularly spoke of Jesus as the son of Joseph, 
and that the apostles continued so to speak of him long 
after his death. Professor Sanday, indeed, would have 
us believe that Jesus’s mother treasured up in her 
heart the miraculous experiences related in the first 
two chapters of Luke, and communicated them, as a sort 
of family secret, long years after the event, to her friend 
Joanna, wife of Chusa, Herod’s steward, and that she 
in turn confided them to the evangelist. Such are the 
desperate shifts of latter-day apologetics! Other 
divines, well aware of the fact that the clause of the 
creed ‘‘ born of the Virgin Mary ”’ is fast becoming dead 
wood, warn their audiences that the Virgin Birth did 
not in itself constitute the Incarnation of the divine 
Word, but was only an interesting and important 
incident connected therewith. We are even told that 
God, if he had chosen to do so, might have incarnated 
himself in human form without having any recourse 
at all to such expedients. I am encouraged by such 


admissions to deal frankly with a legend which is fast 
losing its hold on many religious minds. We have 
seen above that Paul speaks, in Romans i. 13, of Jesus 
as having been born “ of the seed of David according to 
the flesh.” But in another passage, 2 Timothy ii. 8, 
he uses language of a kind to arouse our suspicions, 
for he writes thus: ‘‘ Be mindful of Jesus Christ raised 
from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my 

Here the qualification according to my gospel seems 
to attach exclusively to the clause of the seed of David, 
and so contains a hint that there were others according 
to whose gospel Jesus was not of the seed of David. 
For Paul, when he thus speaks of his gospel, has in 
view the teaching of the true companions of Jesus— 
James, and John, and Peter. Did, then, these 
authorities reject this tenet? We know not; but one 
thing is certain, that in the tradition inherited by 
Mark! Jesus repudiated for himself a Davidic 
pedigree, for in Mark xii. 85 we read the following: 
** Jesus teaching in the Temple said, How say the 
scribes that the Messiah is the son of David? David 
himself said, through the Holy Spirit, the Lord said 
to my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, till I place thine 
enemies under thy feet. David himself calls him [i.e., 
the Christ] Lord; how, therefore, can he be his son?” 

The gist of the above argument is this: the Christ 
or Messiah cannot be a descendant of David, because 
David in an inspired psalm gives to the future Messiah 
a titlk—namely, Lord—which no man would assign to 
one of his own descendants. Such an argument is 

1 In Revelation xxii, 16, in the received text, Jesus says, ‘‘ I am the 
root and the offspring of David.” It is significant that the old Armenian 
version reads of Adam. Revelation was written about the year 93. 


rabbinic enough in kind, but none the less witnesses 
to an age in which the scribes alleged against the 
messianic claims of Jesus that he was no descendant 
of David. Jesus meets them with a mere denial of 
their major premiss. And yet, had he esteemed 
himself to be of Davidic origin, or had the authors or 
reporters of this conversation believed him to be such, 
the proper answer to the challenge was merely to 
assert the fact. No such assertion is made; on the 
contrary, the fact alleged is accepted, but denied to 
be any drawback. But there was also another way of 
meeting this objection of the scribes—namely, to 
invent Davidic genealogies for the master; and to 
this the Church soon had recourse. Of the imaginary 
Davidic pedigrees of Jesus thus called forth two 
survive to us, one of them prefixed in the first Gospel 
to the legend of the Virgin Birth ; the other inserted 
by Luke immediately after the episode of the Spirit’s 
descent upon Jesus in the Jordan—a position in which 
it serves to emphasise the point that the son of man 
has just been begotten anew, by spiritual unction, the 
son of God. The pedigree in the first Gospel in its 
original form ended (Matthew i. 16) thus: ‘“ Jacob begat 
Joseph, and Joseph begat Jesus.’’ End otherwise it 
could not, seeing that the aim and object of its 
compiler was to establish the Davidic descent of Jesus 
through his father Joseph. This original ending I 
myself discovered in an old Greek manuscript in the 
Vatican Library ; it also stands in the earliest Syriac 
version of the Gospels, recently discovered in the Sinai 
convent. In all the Greek manuscripts of Matthew, 
however, the last clause of the pedigree has 
been botched in one of two ways, both intended 
to avoid its awkward attestation of Joseph’s 


paternity and adapt it to the later legend of the 
Virgin Birth. 

The majority of MSS. read thus: ‘‘ Jacob begat 
Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born [or 
begotten] Jesus called Christ.” 

In a smaller number of MSS. we find the following: 
** Jacob begat Joseph, to whom being betrothed a Virgin 
Mary bore Jesus called Christ.’ The old Syriac text 
just mentioned has: ‘‘ Jacob begat Joseph: Joseph, to 
whom was betrothed Mary a Virgin, begat Jesus called 

It is interesting to observe that the fourth evangelist, 
writing for the third or fourth generation of believers, 
is still incredulous of Jesus’s Davidic origin, and, like 

Mark, he represents the Jews as disputing his claim | 

to be Christ on the ground that he lacked it. Thus, 
in John vii. 40, 41, we read: ‘‘ Certain then of the 
people having heard these discourses said, He truly is 
the prophet : others said, He is the Christ. But some 
said, Nay, surely the Christ cometh not of Galilee ? 
Doth not the Scripture say, that of the seed of David 
and from Bethlehem—the village where was David— 
cometh the Christ? So then there was a division among 
the people through him.” 

Such a passage as the above could not have been 
penned by one who knew for certain that Jesus was 
“of the seed of David.” It was, moreover, this 
evangelist’s view that it mattered little what his 
human parentage was. As Christ and unique vehicle 
of the divine Word or Reason, he was not “born of 
blood or of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, 
but of God.” In this sense Christ declares in John 
viii. 14 that the Jews “‘ knew not whence he came nor 
whither he went,” just because they “‘ judged according 


to the flesh” only—i.e., according to the accident of 
human descent. 

But this passage of the Fourth Gospel preserves to 
us another objection brought by the Jews of the first 
' age against the messianic claims of Jesus—this, namely, 
_ that he was not born in Bethlehem, the city of David. 
If the evangelist had heard any report of his having 
been born there, he would surely have revealed his 
knowledge of it, and, as he is so prone to do, have 
stigmatised the Jews as liars. But he gives no hint 
of it; and it becomes obvious that the story which 
Luke tells was invented to meet this particular objec- 
tion of the Jews. Rabbinical interpretation of Old 
Testament prophecies required the Messiah to be 
born in Bethlehem, and not in Nazareth, as Mark 
assumes him to have been. It was, therefore, neces- 
sary to the fulfilment of prophecy that his mother be 
transferred to Bethlehem in time for her child to be 
born there; and Luke, or the form of tradition he 
followed, devised the following tale in satisfaction of 
the claims of prophecy, and as an answer to the 
objections of incredulous Jews: ‘‘ There went forth in 
those days a decree from Cesar Augustus for a registra- 
tion [or census| to be made of the whole world. This 
registration was first made when Kyrenios was governor 
of Syria, and all went to be registered, each to his own 
city. And, accordingly, Joseph also went up from 
Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city 
of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he belonged 
to the household and country of David, in order to be 
registered with Mary his wife, who was with child. 
And it came to pass while they were there the days of 
her blr vere fulfilled, and she brought forth her 
first-born son.” 


Nazareth lies north of Bethlehem about 180 
kilometres, or 80 miles, as the crow flies, over very 
difficult country. Imagine a government which takes 
a couple of peasants all that way in order to fill up a 
census paper! And why take Mary, who, being of the 
house of Aaron, should have gone elsewhere? Nor, 
according to Luke, did Joseph and Mary alone have 
to go back to the city of his ancestor of a thousand 
years before ; but everyone else all over the world did 
the same. Thus, we have a picture of hundreds of 
thousands of people all rushing in different directions 
at one and the same time from end to end of the 
Roman Empire, in order to fill up census papers 
which they could fill up equally well if they remained 
quietly at home. It is as if to-day every Scotch 
family of the name of Campbell were brought from 
London or the Antipodes in order to fill up income- 
tax papers in Argyleshire. Such is the monstrous 
absurdity which Luke calmly saddles on the adminis- 
tration of Augustus, the most practical of ancient 
rulers! He assumes that the Roman Government 
would register people, not by place of domicile, but 
according to who their ancestors were and where they 
had lived; as if everyone had his pedigree and family 
history ready at hand to inform him. Most of the 
Jews in that day knew nothing of who their remote 
ancestors were or where they lived, and, in order to ° 
fulfil this extravagant edict, would have been forced 
to sit down and forge pedigrees not unlike those 
which the authors of the First and Third Gospels 
have forged for Jesus. 

If additional proof were needed of the legendary 
character of Luke’s narrative, it is afforded by his 
mention of Quirinius or Kyrenios as the governor of 


Syria under whom the enrolment was made in Judea. 
This enrolment took place after Archelaus was deposed, 
on the occasion of Judwa being in due form incorpo- 
rated in the Roman Empire. The aversion of Oriental 
races to being numbered is proverbial, and in the Old 
Testament Jahveh visited the Israelites with the plague 
because his favourite, King David, so numbered them. 
It is intelligible, therefore, that so obvious a reform 
could not be carried through in Judea without resist- 
ance on the part of the Jews; and an insurrection of 
Judas of Galilee ‘‘in the days of the enrolment” (Acts 
v. 87) is attested by the historian Josephus. His 
testimony, however, is far from substantiating Luke’s 
story; for, in the first place, the enrolment, or census, 
of Kyrenios was not of all the world, but only of the 
inhabitants of Judea; and, secondly, it was not made 
until a.p. 6; whereas Herod—in whose days Luke i. 5 
sets the birth of John the Baptist, and, by consequence, 
of Jesus also, since he was only six months John’s junior 
—died in the spring of B.c.4. Luke’s dates, therefore, 
show an internal discrepancy of some ten years. 

The first evangelist, Matthew, quite naively and 
unconsciously acquaints us with the genesis of the 
legend that Jesus was born at Bethlehem; for he 
makes King Herod, the least messianic of men, as 
Loisy well styles him, ‘‘call together all the chief priests 
and scribes,” and ask them ‘‘ where the Christ should be 
born,” as if he shared in such beliefs and anticipa- 
tions. ‘‘ And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of 
Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet.” And, 
without any further ado, Matthew assumes that Jesus 
was born in Bethlehem, and begins his narrative thus: 
** Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea.” 
He does not then, like Luke, invent episodes in order 


to get Mary thither in time for the birth ; and we feel 
that he reflects a later age, when the real facts were 
quite forgotten. 

The legend of the Star of the Magi, in Matthew, | 
ch. ii., has its parallels all over the world. In every 
age simple folk have believed the birth of famous men | 
to be heralded by the appearance in heaven of a_ 
special star. ‘‘ We saw his star in the Hast,” say the 
wise men, as if it were a matter of course. This 
legend was generated, like others, out of a passage in 
the Old Testament, interpreted in current Jewish 
belief as a prophecy of the Messiah—viz., Numbers 
xxiv. 17, where the seer Balaam is made to say: “J 
see him, but not now: I behold him, but not nigh: There 
shall come forth a star out of Jacob, And a sceptre shall 
arise out of Israel.” We have already noticed a 
similar belief in the Testaments of the Patriarchs.! 

In the targums of the Jewish rabbis the passage 
from Numbers is construed as a prediction of the 
future Messiah. The legend seems to have been 
redacted in a Greek text in Rome about the year 119 
under Pope Xystus, and about that time it probably 
made its way into the Gospel text. The story of the 
Magi going with presents to worship Jesus may be an 
echo of the mission brought in a.p. 66 by the Parthian 
king, Tiridates, to Nero in Rome. With his train of 
three magi, laden with presents, Tiridates came before 
the Roman emperor. They ‘fell down and wor- 
shipped him,” and hailed him as ‘‘Lord and God, 
even as Mithras.”” Now, Nero was the antichrist of 
early Christian legend; and so enduring was that legend 
that the Armenians have never had any other name 

1 See above, p. 169. 


for the devilish counterfeit of Christ but Nern—i.e., 
Neron. Ifthe antichrist received such homage from 
three magi, the real Christ could not have received 
less. Hence the legend of Matthew. 

The last seven verses of Matthew, ch. i., relate how 
Jesus was miraculously conceived of the Holy Ghost, 
his mother remaining a virgin, in flat contradiction 
with the pedigree which ended by declaring that 
Joseph begat him, so that he was a son of David. 
Matthew relates how ‘‘ when his mother Mary had been 
betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was 
found with child of the Holy Ghost.’ Joseph was forth- 
with warned not even ‘“‘ to put her away privily”’ by an 
‘‘angel of the Lord which appeared unto him in a dream, 
saying, Joseph, thow son of David, fear not to take to 
thee Mary thy wife: for that which is concewed in her is 
of the Holy Ghost.” Then follows the usual appeal to 
prophecy, the originating germ of the entire legend :— 
‘* Now all this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled 
which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, 
saying, Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall 
bring forth a son, and they shall call his name 

In the sequel we read that ‘‘ Joseph arose from his 
sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, 
and took unto him his wife, and knew her not, till she 
had brought forth a son : and he called his name Jesus.” 

Here we find related of Jesus what was in antiquity 
a stock legend related of a number of celebrities. Let 
us notice a few of these parallels. 

| The philosopher Plato, very soon after he died, was 
| reputed by his followers to have been born of a virgin, 
_and his own nephew Speusippus told the story in 
nearly the same words as Matthew employs. Hear 


Diogenes Laertius, the biographer of the ancient 
philosophers, who lived about a.p. 200, in his life of 
Plato :— 

Ariston (the putative father of Plato) tried to 
constrain Periktione (his wife), who was a beautiful 
woman, but failed. When he ceased to do so, he had 
@ vision in which Apollo appeared to him, and in 
consequence thereof guarded her pure of the relations 
of wedlock until she brought forth Plato. 

Diogenes invokes, beside the testimony of Speusippus, 
that of Klearchus, a pupil of Aristotle’s, and Anaxilides, 
a Greek writer of uncertain date. Plutarch, in his 
Convivial Disputations, relates that Ariston not only 
saw the vision in his dream, but heard a voice which 
forbade him to approach his wife or touch her for ten 
months. And, after citing an old Greek poet to the 
effect that the currents of the winds impregnate hen 
birds, he continues as follows :— 

I see nothing absurd in the supposition that God, 
instead of approaching women in human wise, touches 
them to finer issues with other modes of contact, and 
so fills the mortal with divine offspring. The myth 
is not of my making, for the Egyptians say that Apis 
was thus conceived through touch and contact of 
Selene, the moon. The fact of the intercourse of a 
male god with mortal women is conceded by all, but 
it is not believed that mortal man can occasion 
pregnancy and birth in a goddess, because the stuff of 
which gods are made is air and spirit and certain 
forms of warmth and moisture. 

This sort of myth, as we shall see, left its impress 
on Christian speculation about the birth of Jesus, and 
not a few Christian apologists of the third and 
fourth centuries, anxious to prove that Jesus was 


conceived of the Holy Spirit, compared his mother to 
the animals ‘‘ which are wont to conceive by wind and 
air’’—que vento et aura concipere solent, to use the 
words of Lactantius. The idea isan old one. Thus, 
in Virgil’s Georgics, we read how the mares, ‘‘ when 
in springtime the warmth returns in their bones, 
stand all on the top of the rocks, turning their mouths 
to the Zephyr, and gulp down the light airs, and 
ofttimes, without marriage union—marvellous to 
relate—they are made pregnant by the wind.”’ 

Vere magis, quia vere calor redit ossibus, ills 

Ore omnes verse in Zephyrum stant rupibus altis, 
Exceptantque leves auras ; et ssepe sine ullis 
Conjugiis, vento gravidee (mirabile dictu). 

It was also related by an Egyptian writer, 

| Asclepiades, that the mother of Julius Cesar con- 

ceived him miraculously in a temple of Apollo, so 

| that this first of the emperors was son of a god. The 

emperor Alexander likewise was conceived by a virgin. 
It is no matter for surprise that in the second century, 
when the legend of Christ’s miraculous birth began to 
circulate in the Church, the Jews twitted the Christians 
with having picked up a pagan tale comparable to the 

story of Danae. The apologist Justin Martyr (see p. 

180) tries in general to draw delicate distinctions 
between her case and that of the Virgin Mary, but 
sometimes, as in his first apology (ch. xxiv.), he 
chooses another line of defence, boldly admits the 

' parallel, and asks, “ Why are we Christians alone of 

men hated for Christ’s name, when we do but relate 
of him stories similar to what the Greeks relate of 
Hermes and Perseus?” ‘What we teach,” he says 
in the same apology (ch. xxiii.), “we learned from 
Christ and the prophets who preceded him, and it ig 
a true lore and more ancient than that of all other 


writers that ever existed; but we claim acceptance, 
not because our stories are identical with those of 
others, but because they are true.” 

“When,” he remarks in another passage (297 B), 
“‘T am told that Perseus was born of a virgin, I realise 
that here again is a case in which the serpent and 
deceiver has imitated our religion.” Thus the parallel 
myths of the pagans were satanic imitations of 
Christian verities. And, addressing the Emperor 
Antoninus Pius in his first apology (ch. xxi.), he 
reminds him that the Christians, in asserting the 
word of God, Jesus Christ, their teacher, to have been 
born without parental intercourse, and to have been 
crucified and died, risen from the dead and gone up 
into heaven, imported no tenets either strange or new 
to those who were familiar with the tales of the sons 
of Zeus. ‘‘ You well know,’ he continues, ‘“‘ how 
many sons of Zeus your most renowned authors 
enumerate—Hermes, the interpreter, Word and 
teacher of all; Asclepius, who ascended into heaven 
after being struck with lightning, although he was a 
healer ; Dionysus, who was torn to pieces; Heracles, 
who, escaped from toil, consigned himself to the fire ; 
the Dioscuri born of Leda; and Perseus, born of 
Danae; and Bellerophon, who, though of human 
parentage, ascended on the horse Pegasus.” 

Elsewhere (ch. xxii.) we read: ‘‘ Even if we assert 
—and we do—that Jesus was born of a virgin, we 
contend that this toc is a feature shared by him with 
Perseus. And when we tell you that Jesus healed the 
halt and paralytic and the maimed from birth, and 
that he raised the dead, you will see that here too we 
merely repeat things said to have been done by 
Asclepius.” Such passages aid us to understand the 



rapid spread of the belief in the virgin birth and 
resurrection. Men’s minds were already full of 
similar beliefs, and the ground prepared for their 

reception. The Christians claimed acceptance of their 
_ myths because the pagan religion was already full of 
similar ones. 

The Jews of the diaspora were already, before the 

‘ birth of Jesus, in the habit of throwing their messianic 

dreams into Homeric hexameters ; these poems passed 
from hand to hand, and the Christian Fathers, when 

_ they inherited them, uncritically believed that genuine 


prophecies of the ancient Sibyls had fallen into their 
hands. A collection of such pseudo-oracles has come 
down to us under the name of the Sibylline poems. 
The passage of Isaiah vii. 14, ‘‘ A virgin shall conceive 
and bear a son,” may have inspired some such poem, 
and this have fallen into the hands of that most 
omnivorous of readers, the poet Virgil, who, pleased 

_ with the fancy, threw it into elegant Latin verse in 

his fourth Eclogue :— 

Ultima Cumaei venit iam carminis aetas : 
Magnus ab integro seclorum nascitur ordo. 
Iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna ; 
Iam nova progenies cwlo demittitur alto. 

“The last age of the Cumean hymn is come: a 
great order of the ages is born afresh. Already the 
virgin returns—returns, too, the kingdom of Saturn. 
Already a new scion of the race is sent down from 
high heaven.” 

This passage of Virgil is interesting because it 
shows how widely such ideas were diffused. But it is 
not even necessary to go so far afield for parallels to 
the legend of Christ’s birth. They were already to 
be found in the Jewish literature of the first Christian 
age. Philo, if he did not actually believe that Isaac 


was begotten of Sarah by the angel which came down | 
to Abraham to predict his birth, was at least familiar | 
with such a belief among his contemporaries, and uses" 
it up for his allegory. In his tract On Change of 
Names he writes in similar strain that ‘‘ Thamar was 
made pregnant of divine seed, and, as she saw not 
him who sowed—for, as it is said, she veiled her face, 
as did Moses when he turned away fearing with holy 
fear to look on God—so she, having scanned the 
symbols and testimonies and judged of them in her 
heart that they were not imparted by mortal man, 
cried out aloud, ‘ Of no man is this, by him (#.e., God) 
am I with child.’” 

In another of his works, About Cherubim (ch. xiii.), 
he allegorises away the wives of the Jewish patriarchs 
into the several virtues, but we feel that his allegory 
is suggested by the popular belief in miraculous or 
virgin births, when we meet with such phrases as the 
following :— 

Sarah is represented as becoming pregnant when 
God visits her in her solitude. And she brings forth 
not to him who so visited her, but to him who yearned 
to attain to wisdom, and who is named Abraham. 
Yet more clearly does Moses teach us in Leah’s case, 
saying that God opened her womb, for to open the 
womb is a man’s task. But she conceived and bore, 
not to God—for he alone is all-sufficing to himself— 
but to Jacob, who had willingly laboured for the good 
cause, that Virtue might receive the divine seed from 
the first cause and bring forth to that one of her 
suitors who should be preferred. Again, when Isaac, 
the all-wise, prayed to God, Rebecca, who is Patience, 
became pregnant by him to whom the prayer was 
offered. And without any prayer or supplication at 
all, Moses, having taken to himself Sepfora, who is 


winged or soaring Virtue, finds her with child by no 
one mortal. 

So, in Matthew i. 18, it is said that ‘‘ When his 
mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they 
came together she was found with child of the Holy 
Spirit.’ No one would affirm that Philo believed in 
the popular legends of miraculous births; but they 

| suggested his allegory. 

It is hardly necessary to insist on the mythological 
character of the first two chapters of Matthew, since 
even among the orthodox there is a tendency to sacri- 

“fice them to the wolves of criticism. Thus Professor 
Sanday allows that the birth-story in Matthew 
‘ appears to belong to that portion of the First Gospel 
which is latest and least certain” (Critical Questions, 
1903, p. 148). Let us, therefore, return to our con- 
sideration of Luke’s narrative of the birth, on which 
the latter-day apologist tries to make a final stand. 
This we have already criticised in respect of its 
location of the birth at Bethlehem. When we proceed 
to examine it from the point of view of language, we 
find it to be little more than a cento of phrases culled 
from the Septuagint or old Greek version of the Old 
Testament. This does not, of course, in itself forbid 
us to accept it as history; for it would be easy, 
with the help of a concordance to the Septuagint, 
to dress up a history of Alexander the Great or of 
Napoleon in phrases derived therefrom. Nevertheless, 
our suspicions are roused, for a genuine historian of 
real facts is unlikely to convey them to his readers in 
such a form. But when, in ch. i. 7, the narrative of 
the birth of John the Baptist begins with the state- 
ment that his parents, Zachariah and Elizabeth, had 
no child, because she was barren and both of them 



past the age at which married couples have children, 
we at once feel ourselves to be in the presence of a 
professional story-teller. For in popular legend and 
folklore it is almost incumbent on the hero to be born 
in such an abnormal manner. Thus we recognise in 
Luke’s story what is vulgarly called “‘ an old chestnut.” 
He has derived both incident and mise-en-scdne from 
the narrative of the birth of Samson in the thirteenth 
chapter of Judges, and from this he borrows phrase 

after phrase. 

If we compare the two texts, the justice 

of this criticism becomes evident :— 

JUDGES xiii. 

2. And there was a certain man 
of Sar-aa, of the portion of the 
kinship of Dan, and his name 
was Manoe, and his wife was 
barren and bare not. 

3. And the angel of the Lord 
appeared unto the woman, and 
said to her, Behold now, thou art 
barren, and hast not borne; but 
thou shalt bear a son. ~ 

4, Now therefore, beware, I 
pray thee, and drink no wine or 
strong drink, and eat not any 
unclean thing. 

5. For lo, thou shalt conceive 
and bear a son, and no razor shall 
come upon his head; for the child 
shall be a Nazarite unto God from 
the womb: and he shall begin to 
save Israel from the hand of the 

Luge i. 

5. There was a certain priest 
named Zacharia, of the course of 
Abijah, and he had a wife of the 
daughters of Aaron.... 

7. And they had,no child, be- 
cause Elizabeth was barren, and 
they were both well advanced. in 

11. And there appeared unto 
him an angel of the Lord....the 
angel said unto him....thy wife 
Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, 

15. And he shall drink no wine 
or strong drink, 

and he shall be filled with the 
Holy Ghost, even from his 
mother’s womb. 

71. Salvation from our enemies, 
and from the hand of all that 
hate us. 

It is not evident, however, that Luke intended his 

readers to regard Jesus as conceived in supernatural 
manner. He declares Joseph to have been of the 
house of David; whereas his wife Mary, being a kins- 
woman of Elizabeth, was presumably of the house 
of Aaron, and therefore incapable of transmitting a 


Davidic strain to her child. Mary is already betrothed 
to Joseph when the angel Gabriel goes in to her at 
Nazareth and says::—‘‘ Hail, thou favoured with grace, 
the Lord is with thee. But she was much troubled at 
the word, and pondered over what sort of greeting it 
might be. And the angel said, Fear not, Mary, for 
thou hast found favour with God. And behold thow 
shalt conceive and bring forth a son, and shalt call his 
name Jesus. He shall be mighty, and shall be called 
Son of the Highest, and the Lord shall give him the throne 
of David his father, and he shall rule over the house of 
Jacob for the ages, and of his kingdom there shall be no 

Here we note that the Messiah promised is to be of 
the conventional Jewish type, a mighty king seated 
on David’s throne, quite unlike the historical Jesus. 
But he will not be born in full possession of his 
temporal majesty; he will only be invested with it 
later on. 

According to the oldest MS. of the old Latin version — 
of Luke’s Gospel, when the angel ends his address, 
Mary makes the following very suitable answer: 
‘* Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me 
according to thy word.” But the Greek MSS. set in 
her mouth the answer: ‘‘ How shall this be, seeing that 
I know not a man?” The latter reading is absurd, 
for Gabriel had said not ‘‘ thou hast conceived,” but 
‘thou shalt conceive.” His message contemplates a 
near future, when she will no longer be merely the 
betrothed, but the bride of Joseph. This reading, 
then, is an interpolation, and a stupid one. And a 
second - century apocryph, called the Protevangel, 
which closely imitates Luke’s narrative of the birth 
of Jesus, enables us to understand how the offending 


words came to be interpolated, for it tells the story 
thus :— 

And lo, an angel of the Lord stood before her, 
saying, Fear not, Mariam, for thou hast found favour 
in the eyes of the Lord of all, and thou shalt conceive 
by his word. But she, on hearing this, reasoned in 
herself, saying, Shall I then conceive by the Lord God 
who liveth,and yet bear as every woman bears children? 
And the angel of the Lord said, Not so, Mariam, for 
the power of the Lord shall overshadow thee. Where- 
fore, what is born of thee shall be called holy, a son of 
the highest. And thou shalt call his name Jesus. 
For he shall save his people from their sins. And 
Mariam said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord is in 
his presence. Be it unto me according to thy word. 

In the text of Luke, then, as the author of this early 
apocryph read it, the Virgin made no such absurd 
answer as: “‘ How shall this be, seeing I know not a 
man?” From what source, then, were these words 
interpolated in Luke? The answer is, from this very 
apocryph, which represents Mary as vowed by her 
parents from infancy ‘‘ not to know a man all the days 
of her life,” as the Syrian Father St. Ephrem put it. 
In this apocryph the phrase “I know not a man” 
occurs more than once, but always in contexts where 
it is appropriate and makes good sense. For example, 
when Joseph finds with child the Virgin whom, as 
her guardian, he had taken to his home, he chides her 
and says: ‘‘ Thou hast forgotten the Lord thy God. 
Why hast thou abased thy soul?’ And she, weeping, 
replies: ‘‘I am pure, and I know not aman.” And 
Joseph said to her: ‘‘ Whence, then, is that which is in 
thy womb?” Mary is next brought for trial before the 
high priest, who chides her in the same terms as 


Joseph, and she repeats her answer: “‘As my God 
liveth, I am pure before him, and I know not a man.” 
In both these contexts the words are as appropriate as 
in the existing text of Luke i. 34 they are inappro- 
priate. The history of ancient manuscript literature 
supplies many examples of such interpolation. An 
earlier document A is imitated or commented on 
in another document B. Presently an amplification 
belonging to B finds its way into A. The Gospel of 
Mark was imitated or copied out with considerable 
modifications by Matthew and Luke. Some of these 
modifications have crept into the text of Mark, having 
been introduced by scribes desirous to assimilate to 
one another the various forms of the gospel story. 
In the same way Luke’s text was contaminated from 
the Protevangel. 

Some critics think the next verse also, Luke i. 35, 
to be an interpolation. It is this: ‘‘ And the angel 
answered and said to her: A Holy Spirit shall come 
upon thee, and a power of the Highest conceal [or 
overshadow] thee; wherefore also what is born [or 
begotten] holy shall be called son of God.” 

The above is generally interpreted as signifying an 
impregnation of the Virgin by the Spirit, and the 
words ‘‘ come upon thee”’ and ‘‘ overshadow’ are under- 
stood by the oldest Christian Fathers in this sense. 
But they admit of another interpretation, for in con- 
temporary Greek the word episkiazé, though literally 
it means overshadow, usually signifies no more than 
to hide or conceal. It was a common belief that 
women with child were peculiarly liable to the assaults 
of demons; and in Revelation we have a picture of 
a “great red dragon” who stood before the woman “that 
was arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, 


and upon her head a crown of twelve stars ; and she was 
with child, and she cried out, travailing in birth and in 
pain to be delivered. And the dragon stood before the 
woman which was about to be delivered, that when she 
was delivered he might devour the child. And she was 
delivered of a son, a man child, who is to rule all the 
nations with a rod of iron.” 

In the latter picture the heavenly Aeon or Power, 
the Church, is represented as the mother of the 
Messiah. The dragon lies in wait to devour him, and 
in the sequel he is saved by being caught up to God. 
Perhaps Luke also imagined that Satan lay in wait 
for the future Messiah, and dogged the steps of his 
mother, just as, after the baptism, he assailed him 
with triple temptation. If so, the Power of the Highest 
was to conceal his mother so that the devil should 
not molest him either before or after birth. Ignatius 
the Martyr, who died about a.p. 120, writes that ‘“ the 
virginity of Mary and the birth of Christ alike escaped 
the notice of the Prince of this world.” He is the 
earliest writer in whom we can clearly trace the belief; 
and he supposed that Mary’s virginity was a providential 
“blind” to hide from the simple-minded devil the fact 
that the Messiah was about to be born. Elsewhere 
Ignatius declares that the mother of Christ, the Word, 
was Sigé, or Silence—an heretical idea. By the Holy 
Spirit coming upon the mother, Luke may have meant 
no more than that the child, conceived as usual, 
received a peculiar sanctity before it was born, 
just as John the Baptist also (Luke i. 15) was “to 
be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s 

However this may be, the earliest Gospel, called of 
Mark, not only knows nothing, as we have above 


remarked, of the legend of the miraculous birth of 
Jesus, but by implication denies it. How could Mary 
and her sons have set out to place him under restraint, 
‘‘ because he was out of his mind,” if she had really 
been the recipient of the Angel Gabriel’s confidences ? 
Here is an objection which no apologist even attempts 
to meet; we have shown above that the two later 
evangelists carefully expunged this incident from their 
texts. We will presently notice some other early and 
widely diffused documents which attest an epoch 
when, to say the least, the legend of the Virgin Birth 
was far from universally believed in the Church. But 
let us first pause to inquire what was believed by 
Jesus’s own immediate following, the Christians of 
Palestine. These were, in the second century, known as 
Ebionites, or the Poor, and their enemies explained the 
name by reference to the supposed poverty of their doc- 
trine; moreprobablyit was suggested by the impoverish- 
ment which followed on their attempts to hold all 
things in common by way of preparation for the Second 
_ Advent. Now, these Ebionite Christians believed, 
so we learn from Ireneus and other second-century 
Fathers—of whom we cite another, Justin Martyr, 
elsewhere (p. 180)—that Jesus ‘‘ was the son of Joseph 
and Mary according to the ordinary course of human 
generation.” Their form of gospel, which was written in 
Aramaic, omitted, like Mark, the birth-stories of Jesus, 
and they continued for centuries to repudiate them as 
untrue and unworthy of the Messiah. It is additional 
evidence of how little idea the earliest Christians had 
of Jesus being the child of Mary alone that, the presi- 
dency of their first Church in Jerusalem being vested, 
according to Oriental habit, in the eldest surviving 
relative of the founder, James, the brother of the 


Lord, was the first chosen to occupy this post of 
dignity. Yet his kinship with Jesus, supposing Mary 
was not their common mother, which is probable, 
could only be reckoned through the common father, 
Joseph. After the death of James, the dignity con- 
tinued, for several generations, to be assigned to the 
oldest surviving representative of the family of Jesus, 
whose members were known as the Desposunoi, or 
kinsmen of the Lord. In Oriental lands it was, and 
still is, as I have stated above, the custom for the 
headship of a religious community to be assigned to 
the descendants of its founder. It was so in the 
Mohammedan religion, and the early messianic com- 
munion of Jerusalem formed no exception to the rule. 
One can trace a similar custom in the earliest Christian 
communities of Syria and Armenia. 

The literature of the Christians during the second 
century is almost wholly lost. The pagans were not 
likely to preserve it, and the rapid change in Christian 
opinion in the third and fourth century soon made it 
antiquated and heretical. It was either not copied 
out or wilfully destroyed. Thus we cannot expect to 
discover much literary attestation of the early and 
naturalistic belief about Jesus’s birth. Yet it has left 
clear traces. For example, in the so-called Acts of 
Judas Thomas, the apostle who was reputed to have 
gone to India and converted the Hindoo ruler 
Gundaphor, we have a document which goes back to 
the second century. It was written almost con- 
currently in Greek and Syriac, and was soon spread 
all over Christendom in Latin, Armenian, Coptic, and 
other versions. In this curious document Judas is 
represented as the twin brother of Jesus, and as on 
that account so like him in face and features that the 


very animals could not tell them apart. Such a 
document could neither be written nor accepted 
among Christians, for whom the birth from a virgin 
was a primary article of faith. In the so-called Acts 
of Pilate we have another early document, almost as 
widely diffused among the early Churches as the 
Gospels. It is a narrative of Jesus’s trial before 
Pilate, and of his crucifixion, largely compiled from 
the existing Gospels. Its author seems not to have 
held the tenet of the miraculous birth ; for, when the 
hostile Jews accuse Jesus to Pilate of being a son of 
fornication, twelve other Jews of substance and 
repute are brought on the stage, who testify that 
his parents, Mary and Joseph, were legally married, 
and that they themselves attended the wedding. 
The implication is that Jesus was their legitimate 

The Jews of the second century, as they meet us in 
the pages of Justin Martyr (a.p. 180-150), though he 
is a hostile witness, yet contrast favourably with the 
Christians of that age. For they exhibit a higher and 
purer monotheism, in so far as they condemn as a 
pagan fable the story of God engendering a son by a 
mortal woman. It was, they declare, an echo of the 
myth of Danae and of her son Perseus, begotten by 
Zeus in a shower of gold. These second-century Jews 
were also able to interpret their old prophets in a 
more critical manner than the Christians. They 
pointed out, for example, that Isaiah’s Hebrew text 
(Isaiah vii. 14), properly translated, means no more 
than that ‘a young girl (or maiden) shall conceive 
_ and bear a son”’; and the Rabbi Aquila and Theodotion 
_ the Ebionite issued new Greek translations, in which 
the ambiguous Greek word parthenos or virgin was 

ee ae 


replaced by neanis—a young woman. They thus cut 
away the ground from under the feet of the Christians, 
who had, as we have seen above (p. 180), little except 
prophecy on which to base their legend. Nothing 
has so much excited the spleen of Christian and 
Catholic writers as this substitution of neanis for 
parthenos. But time has its revenges; and the recent 
revisers of the English Bible, timid time-servers as 
they were, yet felt themselves constrained to add at 
this verse the marginal note, ‘‘ or maiden.” For this, 
and not virgin,is the proper equivalent of the Hebrew 
word alma, which indicates not a woman’s quality, 
but her age, so resembling the German equivalent 
Jungfrau. Let us note, in passing, that to the mind 
of healthy-minded Teutons a young woman is a 
virgin, and a virgin a young woman. 

The Jews of that early age also showed some faculty 
in critical exegesis when they had to overthrow Chris- 
tian beliefs; for they pointed out that Isaiah, in 
writing his seventh chapter, had in view, not a far-off 
Messiah, but Hezekiah, their king. It was only 
towards the close of the last century that the saner 
method of exegesis, thus anticipated by the Jews of 
the second century, began to be adopted by our 
divines; to-day no self-respecting Hebraist would 
venture to suggest that this or any other passage of 
Isaiah was any prediction of Jesus of Nazareth. 

We must not suppose, however, that this passage 
in Isaiah sufficed, in and by itself, to generate the 
tradition of the miraculous birth. It was, of course, 
in that age regarded as evidence, and as the best 
sort of evidence; for, as John Chrysostom preg- 
nantly remarks, ‘‘ No argument was more cogent than 

the argument from prophecy, which outweighed even 



the historical facts themselves.” But other causes 
and conditions were at work in the early Christian 
circles, which rendered the growth of such a legend 
inevitable. In the first place, Gentile converts, when 
they heard Jesus Christ proclaimed the Son of God, 
were naturally prone to interpret the expression to 
mean that his physical generation was in some special 
way wrought by God; and they had, as I have said 
above, a number of pagan legends to shape their ideas 
of a miraculously arranged and providential genesis 
of the Saviour. To a messianically-minded Jew the 
title Son of God meant, no doubt, no more than the 
vicar or representative or servant of Jehovah. The 
Gentile converts shrank, perhaps, from the vulgar 
pagan idea of divine liaisons with mortal women; but the 
idea of a Holy Spirit operating divine results on earth 
supplied them with a middle term. The Holy Spirit, or 
Logos, which, according to Luke, entered Jesus at the 
Baptism in outward and material form, had already 
entered the Virgin, and in her womb been, as it were, 
coagulated with her flesh into the body of Christ. 

But that which, above all else, predisposed Christian 
circles to accept the legend of the Virgin Birth was 
the impulse to continence and virginity, the determi- 
nation to reject marriage and its ties and duties, which 
pervaded all the Churches. Minucius Felix (¢. 160) 
sums up the matter in the following words, directed 
against those pagans who accused his co-religionists 
in Rome and elsewhere of habitual incest: ‘‘ Most 
believers,” he says, ‘‘enjoy inviolate a perpetual 
virginity of the body, but do not boast of it. So 
remote, in short, from us is the lust of incest that 

1 Commentary on Acts, ii, 16, Savile’s edition, p. 637, 5. 


some of us blush at the very idea even of a legitimate 
sexual union.” The reasons for this feeling—which 
often amounted to a repudiation of marriage, as a con- 
tamination of the flesh—were many ; and we can infer 
that they were already widely operative inside Judaism 
before Christianity was heard of, from the fact that 
most of the Essenes abjured marriage. In the time 
of Josephus, when their numbers were dwindling, 
their communion still numbered thousands of men, 
all living a monkish life. Philo also describes a 
similar society, in which women participated, called 
the Worshippers, or Therapeute, who had their head- 
quarters at Alexandria, but ramified all round the 
Mediterranean, no less among Jews than among 
proselytes. These societies consisted of men and 
women living in separate cells, but meeting together 
on certain days for sacramental banquets, where 
prayer and praise led up to a sort of communion in 
bread and water, flesh and wine being excluded from 
the holy repast. The women, says Philo, were all 
virgins or widows. Within a few years of the cruci- 
fixion, Paul’s Epistles reveal a similar impulse at work 
in the earliest Christian society of Corinth. It was 
urged that a believer should not touch his wife. 
Paul replies, with better sense, that if converts are 
married they had best remain so. Hven unmarried 
men and widows, if they cannot keep chaste like him- 
self, may without sin marry. Let everyone, he says, 
remain in the state in which the divine call found 
him. Paul next proceeds to speak of a_ special 
relationship, already in vogue among Christians, which 
may be described as a spiritual or platonic marriage, 
as follows :— 

“About virgins,” he says in 1 Corinthians vii. 25, “I 



have no precept of the Lord.” They had evidently 
asked him to regulate certain questions, and he 
modestly admits that about them he has had no 
private revelation. ‘‘ But,’ he continues, ‘I give my 
opinion as one who by the compassion of the Lord is 
become one of the faithful. I deem, then, that this [i.e., 
virginity] is best because of the present necessity 
[probably the impending catastrophe of the Lord’s 
advent] — namely, that to remain thus [i.e in 
virginity] is best for man. Art thou tied to a wife? 
Seek not to loosen the tie. Art thow loosed from a wife ? 
Seek not a wife. If, however, thou shouldst marry, thou 
hast not sinned; and, even if the virgin marry, she has 
not sinned. But such as these will incur tribulation for 
the flesh, and I would fain spare you it.” 

Who is “‘ the virgin”’ in the above who sins not even 
if she marry, and who in the sequel is distinguished 
from ‘‘ the unmarried woman ”’ (verse 84), though, like 
her, she ‘‘ is busy with the things of the Lord, so as to 
be holy both in body and spirit’”’? 

The sequel reveals to us that ‘‘ the virgin’’ here is 
the woman who is living with a man as his spiritual 
or platonic wife ; for in verse 86 Paul continues thus: 
“Tf, however, anyone thinks he is behaving wnseemly 
towards his virgin, if she is over the age of puberty, and 
it must be so, let him do what he wishes to. He sins not. 
Let them marry.” 

The phrase ‘‘his virgin” indicates a relation 
between male and female believers both recognised 
and widespread. The Greek word aschemonein, ren- 
dered by behave unseemly, is a technical term for 
immodest behaviour towards one of the opposite sex. 
If a man is overpowered by his inclinations, says 
Paul, eminently practical teacher that he was, let 



them marry, and substitute for the platonic union a 
tie of genuine wedlock. They will not sin in so doing. 
In the whole of this passage the only doubt is about 
the meaning of the word huperakmos, which I render 
over the age of puberty, but which, in the revised 
English version, is translated ‘‘ past the flower of her 
age.” This may be the true meaning, for Philo speci- 
fies that the women in the contemporary Therapeutic 
societies were mostly aged virgins. On the other hand, 
Paul may be insisting, and wisely, that girls shall not 
marry until they are of mature age. In the canon 
law of the Eastern Churches are read many prescrip- 
tions against the child-marriages which are so un- 
happily common among Hindoos, and which were not 
unknown during the Middle Ages, even in the Western 
world. The English revisers, all through this passage, 
have added, after virgin, the word daughter; for the 
notion of fathers behaving unseemly to their virgin 
daughters, and then apparently marrying them, does 
not seem to have presented any difficulty to the excel- 
lent divines who prepared this new version for Anglo- 
Saxon readers. 

Paul concludes by acknowledging that it is better to 
maintain the platonic tie in all its purity. ‘‘ He that 
remains stedfast in his heart, and has no necessity [i.e., 
overpowering desire], but retains the mastery over his 
own inclinations, and is resolved on this in his own 
heart—namely, to keep and preserve his own virgin— 
will do well. Consequently both he that marries his own 
virgin doth well, and he that marries her not will do still 

In one other passage Paul refers to this sort of 
relationship as in vogue even among those who formed 
the immediate entowrage of Jesus. It is in a passage, 


1 Corinthians ix. 1-6, where he is insisting on his 
equality with the other apostles: “‘Am I not an 
apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? If in the 
eyes of others I am not an apostle, yet at least I am m 
YOUNS.. +044. Have we no right to eat and drink? Have 
we no right to lead about a wife that is a sister, even as 
do the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, 
and Cephas ?” 

Here the woman or wife (the Greek word signifies 
either), who is a sister, unquestionably corresponds to 
the virgin of ch. i. The great Benedictine scholar 
Muratori, writing to Montfaucon, about 1709, his tract 
De Synisactis et Agapetis, comes very near to this 
interpretation. They were not wives, he writes, but 
certain matrons of honest life, who supplied the 
apostles and other holy men with food, and made 
themselves their travelling companions, taking the 
name of sister by way of excluding all suspicion of 
married licence. St. Jerome’s interpretation was 
similar. It may be remarked that Paul here uses the 
word adelfos, or sister; and that adelfotés, or sistership, 
was later on the technical term for this platonic 
marriage between Christian men and maids. 

Here, then, we have a vivid glimpse into the earliest 
Christian society of Jerusalem, and realise the extent 
to which asceticism was at home therein from the first. 
For we must not forget that in that age the eyes of 
all believers were fixed on the future advent. Christ 
was to come again in glory on the clouds of heaven, 
before the generation had passed away that knew him 
in the flesh. Wherefore, then, propagate children 
and encumber oneself with the cares of offspring? 
Those that marry “ shall have tribulation in the flesh,” 
says Paul (1 Corinthians vii. 28). And he adds these 


words to encourage his converts in their efforts to 
keep chaste: ‘‘ But this I say, brethren, the time is 
shortened, that henceforth both those that have wives 
may be as though they had none....... For the fashion of 
this world is passing away. But I would have you to 
be free from cares.” The same aversion from human 
marriage meets us in other books of the New Testa- 
ment—e.g., in Revelation, which reflects the feeling of 
the last decade of the first century. In ch. xiv. 4 of 
this book the seer beholds “the Lamb standing on 
Mount Zion, and with him 144,000, having his name 
and the name of his father written on their foreheads. 
se These are they which were not defiled with women ; 
Jor they are virgins.” The statement that they were 
virgins forbids us to suppose that they were men who 
had indulged in lawful wedlock; this was no less 
defiling than illicit unions. 

And in the Acts of Paul and Thekla, a document 
which perhaps belongs to the first century and was 
anyhow written before 150, the Apostle’s preaching 
is as follows: ‘‘ Blessed are the souls and bodies of 
virgins, for they shall be pleasing to God, and they 
shall not lose the reward of their chastity.” 

In the messianic kingdom, which was to be pre- 
ceded by a general resurrection of the just, but to be 
established on this earth, there was to be no marrying 
nor giving in marriage. It was only logical for those 
who believed in the imminent approach of this 
kingdom to abstain from marriage and leave family 
life to the incredulous. Terrible trials and tribula- 
tions, moreover, were to mark the approach of the 
end, and it was well, in view of these, for maidens 
not to become mothers. Marriage, indeed, was never 
admitted by the Church except as a pis aller; and 


nothing is further from the truth than the contention 
of modern divines that she from the first patronised 
and sanctified an institution which was in reality only 
imposed upon her by the Aryan societies which 
adopted, while modifying, her teaching. 

It is wonderful how long this dream of the approach- 
ing end of this world haunted the minds of believers, 
predisposing them, even in the absence of other con- 
siderations, to a life of virginity. Hippolytus, in his 
commentary on Daniel, relates how, a hundred years 
later than Paul, a Pontic bishop had a revelation 
to the effect that the Lord would come again in a 
year’s time on a certain Sunday. As the day 
approached the believers sold or gave away their 
properties, and the maidens abjured wedlock, and one 
and all trekked into the wilderness to the far-off 
mountain on which the Lord was to appear. The 
Sunday dawned, but no Lord appeared. Then 
thousands fainted from want of food, for they had 
expected the Lord to feed them in the wilderness. 
In a similar messianic exodus of Syrian Christians 
thousands risked being slain as vagrants and bandits 
by legionaries despatched against them by the Roman 
governor. ‘Those who succeeded in regaining their 
eities only did so to find their homes and belongings 
lost to them, for the incredulous to whom they had 
given them away were little minded to restore them. 
In Pontus the brethren were scandalised; the men 
returned to the plough, and those who had rashly sold 
their possessions were reduced to begging. And, 
adds the good Hippolytus, as the final touch to his 
story, the virgins began to marry afresh. 

The institution of spiritual wives continued to 
flourish in the Church for many generations; but, 


when the first enthusiasm flagged, it began to give 
rise to scandals, and was probably the ground of the 
accusation of incest levelled at the early Church by 
pagan writers, who misunderstood the Christian phrase 
brothers and sisters. In the Shepherd of Hermas, a 
Christian writing of the late first or early second 
century, there is much eulogy of it, and the virgins 
boldly invite the hero of the work to pass the night 
in their company. ‘‘ Thou must sleep with us, they 
said, as a brother, not as a husband.” This book was 
read out loud as holy scripture in Christian churches 
until the beginning of the fourth century! In the 
Churches of North Africa the scandals attendant on 
these spiritual marriages waxed so great towards the 
middle of the third century that Cyprian, the Bishop 
of Carthage, was constrained to forbid them; and 
innumerable deaconesses and virgins, victims of the 
institution, were expelled from the churches. Ter- 
tullian, fifty years before, had denounced the vice in 
scathing terms. However, the custom went on; and 
Gregory of Nyssa, an orthodox Father of the fourth 
century, glances, in many of his poems, at the agapetor 
and agapetai—beloved men and beloved women who had 
contracted these unions. Here is one of his shorter 
poems on the subject :— 

O Virgin, thou hast Christ ever living as thy helper, and as 
Bridegroom of thy longings, and jealous of thy heavenly beauty. 
Accept not in his stead a being of flesh to be guardian 

Of thy miserable flesh, but avert the gossip of the malignant. 
Expose not to insults and disgrace the immaculate tunic of Christ, 
So inflicting on all virgins reproach and infamy. 

In another poem he addresses the male companion 
thus :— 
Thou who art made of flesh livest with a beloved woman of flesh 
like thyself. 


And what dost thou expect the foul-living to think of thee? 

I grant that the chaste may themselves say nothing; but who can 

The blame and ridicule excited in the many ? 

In yet another poem he writes thus to two persons 
so related :— 

Before all, endeavour in very truth to be chaste ; 

And after that to rouse no suspicion in the disgraceful ones. 

You are pure? Yes, purer than gold. And yet you wound me 

By fixing on your beloved maid both your body and your eyes. 

She is your beloved, you say. Verily this name is a holy one. 

Alas, alas, if it cover an element of impure loye ! 

There is naught, you say, of such impurity. Well, I believe you. 
And yet 

You make yourself a path to lead men to live unholily with other 

Clay and mud is man after all, even the chaste man 

Who lives with a chaste woman. ‘Tis to unmarried men and 
women I address myself. 

Byen if your conscience is free, nevertheless you should 

Avoid people’s tongues, for than such tongues nothing is more easily 
set in motion, 

You say, Who will hold a flaming sword before my paradise ? 

Who will give me a guardian of my precious virginity ? 

Even so let no beloved man live within with you; but let the tongue 

Of the envious pass thee by. The scandal-monger spares not even 

These poems reveal the situation most clearly. As 
late as the middle of the fourth century in Greece and 
Syria monks and clerics were still cohabiting, under 
the name of Agapetoi—i.e., Beloved Brothers—with 
sisters, or Swneisaktai—i.e., women who were brought 
in to live with them. Gregory admits that they often 
kept their purity, and that it was chiefly the cynics 
and scoffers who talked scandal about them. Yet, to 
avoid scandal, it was better the practice should cease. 
In Egypt and in the West Jerome, Augustine, Cassian, 
and others attest the same custom, as popular among 
the extremely pious as it was dangerous. 


In the Syriac Churches of the fourth century such 
unions between the sons and daughters of the resur- 
rection were by many still regarded as the culminating 
triumph of the Christian life; but Aphraates, about 
350, expresses his disapproval of them in the same 
terms as Gregory of Nyssa. He also testifies that 
many who aspired thus to live the life of grace 
enjoyed by angels or by Adam and Eve in the garden 
before the fall of man retained the appearance without 
the reality of married life." Being technically married, 
they were less to blame if they forfeited their chastity. 
In the literature of the early Celtic Church there are 
abundant traces of the presence of Suneisaktai; and 
Irish historians, unacquainted with the wider history 
of the Church, have wrongly supposed that they here 
had before them some primitive ethnological charac- 
teristic of the Celts. The custom lingered on into 
the Middle Ages, especially among those Cathars or 
Puritans who, regarding with horror all relations 
between the sexes, denounced marriage itself as the 
greater adultery. The custom and the ideas which 
went with it may have inspired the medieval notions 
of chivalry, among which is foremost that of the safe- 
guarding, by a perfectly chaste knight, of a chaste 
maiden who remains all the time the focus of his 
admiration and love. The poet Dante devoted his 
genius to the glorification of his lofty and platonic love 
for Beatrice. The relation of the Messiah to the ideal 
Chureh was from the first conceived of in terms of 
such a passion, and the metaphor, we feel, has 

1 Mark xii. 25: ‘When they shall rise from the dead, they neither 
marry nor are given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven.” In 
baptism, as Paul taught, the dead in sin rose from death into life 
together with Christ. 


become rather mixed, when Paul writes that he has 
espoused the Corinthian Church, and desires to present 
the same as a puré virgin to Christ (2 Cor. xi. 2). 
Anyhow, Christ became the bridegroom, and the ever- 
virgin mother Church his bride; and many an early 
hymn to the Church was inspired by this idea. Such 
hymns were, in a later age, converted into hymns to 
the physical mother of Jesus; and most of the 
attributes and predicates of the heavenly on, the 
Ecclesia or Church, were ultimately appropriated to 

Outside the limits of Christendom, the Druses of 
the Lebanon are said to cultivate this purely spiritual 
union of man and woman; and this circumstance, if 
it be really so, must have been an additional reason 
to Laurence Oliphant and his wife for fixing their 
residence on the slopes of Mount Carmel. He had 
already learned from their American prophet Harris 
that philosophy of life which he expounds in his work 
entitled Sympneumata (London, 1885); but, as he 
states in the preface to that book, on the occasion of a 
visit to Palestine in 1879, he ‘‘ became aware that the 
results of his life in California and of the knowledge 
there acquired might be more securely and rapidly 
increased by transferring the scene of his effort from 
the West to the Kast.”’ Those who would fain under- 
stand the emotions of the agapetot and agapetai, of 
the beloved brothers and sisters of the early Church, 
may learn them in the pages of this curious book. 
Take such a passage as the following (p. 180) :— 

It is not possible to say which thing seems the more 
marvellous to man in this change—that he knows God 
as different, or that he himself is different while he 
knows; that the rush to him of heat and power and 


universal love is instinct with the rich tremors of a 
subtle interaction, or that he finds beside him and 
throughout him a presence whose twin particles take 
up with his the interactive motion of these forces. 
He asked—if he asked anything—if he had pain 
enough to escape the creeping paralysis that invades 
men’s spirits in these days—for a little sense of God; 
that he might not remain in the presence of grief and 
death so all alone; and there comes, not only the god 
of senses and of spirits as mighty arms thrown all 
around his loneliness, but into it the stealing sweet- 
ness of the lost Sympneuma’s breath, its motion, its 

It has been surmised by some that the revelation 
of the reality of the Idea, its transformation from a 
dialectical hypothesis into a real Presence, was effected 
for Plato in such a moment of ecstasy as Oliphant 
describes—ecstasy consequent, in Plato’s case also, on 
the forcible suppression of coarser instincts in the 
presence of the person beloved. It is worth inquiring 
whether the ecstasy of which we read so much in the 
records of the early Christian Pneumatics or inspired 
ones was not often due to a similar cause. } 

Oliphant, no less than the Christian ascetics, was 
persuaded that this platonic love between man and 
woman was an integral part of the revelation of Christ ; 
and he quotes, in support of this view, from Clement 
of Alexandria, a second-century Father, the saying 
attributed to Jesus, that the divine kingdom should 
come ‘‘ when two should be one, and that which is 
without as that which is within, and the male with 
the female, neither male nor female.’”’ ‘‘The missiles,” 
he writes (p. 98), 

discharged through the faithful obedience of this man 
of burning purity to the high law of the peculiar 


nature with which he stood endowed, almost annihi- 
lated at first in those who accepted in thought, and 
endeavoured to follow in life, the promise of his keen 
aspirings, all the sex-instinct that they possessed. 

Oliphant also perceived in a dim manner the con- 
nection of medieval chivalry with early Christian 
asceticism in p. 99 :— 

This discovery of nascent knightliness, that the 
operative passion for a godly cause and the restrained 
passion for a pure woman were correlative motives for 
a high and manly living, was in fact the prophetic 
experience of the more vivid one which responds to-day 
to the ardent aspiration for knowledge of the dual in 
God, the dual in man, and the right devotion to the 
needs of the earth. 

Elsewhere I indicate the probability that the 
medieval rite—always religious, and conducted by 
a priest—of chivalrous initiation was a survival, as it 
were, in secular garb, of the rite of adult baptism, 
long corrupted and decayed in the purely religious 
sphere. It is significant that the new-made knight 
was expected to select a mistress, of whom, according 
to the Codex Amoris of Andrew, the chaplain of Pope 
Innocent IV., he was henceforth the servente or 

The only senses allowed to be the vehicles of 
chivalrous love were the eyes and ears. The lover 
was forbidden to go beyond gazing on, or hearing, or 
thinking of his love....... When a knight was accepted 
as ami, he knelt before his lady, his two hands joined 
palm to palm between hers, and swore to serve her 
faithfully till death, and to protect her against all evil 
and outrage. She, on the other hand, accepted his 
services, promised him her tenderest affections, gave 


him a ring, and raised him up with a kiss. Chivalrous 
love was inconsistent with married love, because in 
marriage the chivalrous subordination of the lover 
to his mistress is impossible, the bounds of eyes and 
fancy are passed, and the life is domestic, not ideal.! 

The feudal character of this chivalrous rite must 
not blind us to the parallelism with early baptism. 
As it was for the fully-initiated knight that this final 
trial of his worth and valour was reserved, so it was 
in the earliest age for the baptised, who formed a sort 
of aristocracy of asceticism. Later on it seems to 
have been the privilege of deacons, monks, and clerics 
to undertake the guardianship of the virgins, and 
contract with them those angelic unions which 
revived the life of Adam and Eve before the fall, and 
were the foretaste and earthly counterpart of the 
marriage of Christ, the heavenly bridegroom, with the 
celestial eon, his virgin mother and bride, the Church. 

Before nunneries were instituted in which they 
could take refuge, many and cruel difficulties beset the 
path of Christian women dedicated by vows to the 
higher life of perpetual virginity. Who was to 
protect them from the trials and temptations which 
surrounded them in a society still mainly pagan ? 
‘‘ Tt is not to be wondered at,”’ writes Muratori, 

that many virgins who had lost their parents and 
brothers, or who were driven to it by illness, poverty, 
or by other reasons, admitted homeless clerics and 
monks to live with them under one roof, that they 
shared in their wanderings—nay, that they sometimes 
shared with them their beds. Men and women felt 
themselves equally constrained by necessity—the latter 

1 From Richard Simpson’s Philosophy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, 
London, 1868, p. 21. 


to seek the aid and ministry of another, the former to 
bestow it. And so it came about that clergymen or 
monks often took the place of parents and brothers for 
the custody, or rather for the ruin, of young girls. 
For who could have such strength of mind as to pledge 
himself never to catch fire, if he laid himself side by 
side with the flaming, burning fuel ? 

Gregory of Nyssa, in his poems, as I have said, 
Chrysostom in his orations, Jerome in his letters, and 
many other Fathers, had much to say about this aspect 
of the problem. There was hardly a single Christian 
Council, up to the seventh century, that did not 
discuss remedies for a practice of which certain 
Churches grew ashamed as early as the middle of the 
third century. Now, the relationship of the Virgin 
Mary to Joseph is exactly envisaged as that of an 
ecclesiastical virgin to her keeper both in the Prot- 
evangel and in the later form of the Acts of Pilate. 
In the former we read of how Mary was taken, in her 
infancy, to the high priest in Jerusalem by her 
parents, Joakim and Anna, and consecrated to the 
service of Jehovah. There she remains among other 
maidens, similarly consecrated, until she reaches the 
age of puberty. Then elderly and reputable Israelites 
are summoned by the high priest to the temple, where 
they draw lots for the virgins, who now stand in need 
of protectors. The lot assigns Mary to Joseph, who 
takes her to his home, not as his wife, but eis térésin— 
i.e., in order to guard and protect her in the life of 
virginity to which her parents long ago dedicated her. 
Similarly, in the later form of the Acts of Pilate, 
the charge that Jesus was born of fornication is 
met by the assertion that Joseph’s relation to the 
Virgin was merely that of guardian of her virginity. 


In some forms of this legend—for example, in a 
commentary attributed to Epiphanius (c. 350-400)— 
the memory of Mary as the real wife of Joseph and 
mother of his other children survives side by side with 
the tradition of the spiritual wife. For when, in the 
latter capacity, Mary reaches Joseph’s home in 
Nazareth, she finds already installed therein another 
Mary, who is mother of the brothers and sisters of 
Jesus mentioned by Mark. This latter gives birth to 
a son named James (? Judas) almost at the same time 
that the spiritual wife bears Jesus by the Holy Ghost. 
In this form of the legend, therefore, preserved by 
Hpiphanius as late as the end of the fourth century, 
Mary has been doubled into a real and a mystical 
partner of Joseph. The hagiological and homiletic 
literature of the first three or four centuries is largely 
inspired by such ideas, termed, at an early time, 
encratite, from encratia, a Greek word almost equiva- 
lent to our word continence. The encratites, says the 
learned French Abbé Pierre Batiffol, were not a sect, 
but a spirit diffused through all Christian Churches 
alike. In all of them we meet with the same encratite, 
or ascetic impulse. Tale after tale recounted the 
sufferings, and sometimes the martyrdom, of wives 
who forsook their husbands rather than live with 
them; of virgins, already betrothed, who refused to be 
wedded. The so-called Acts of Judas Thomas, of 
Peter and Paul, Andrew, and other apostles, which 
were forged in the second century and circulated all 
over Christendom in ail languages, are full of morbid 
exhortations either not to marry at all or, if persons 
are married, to live as if they were not. Of this sexual 
Schwdrmerei, which from the first pervaded all the 
Churches, the belief in the miraculous birth of 



Josus was not the cause, but the effect. And there 
was another contributory cause. There were even 
within the first century many teachers who denied 
that J esus had ever been born at all of woman—who 
held that he had been all along what we to-day call 
a mahatma, who took literally Paul’s statements 
(Romans viii. 8) that God “sent his son in the likeness 
[only] of sinful flesh”; that (Philippians ii. 7) Christ 
Jesus ‘ took [only] the form of a servant, was made in 
the likeness [only] of men, and was found in fashion 
[only] as a man.” These teachers—and in the 
second century the best thinkers and writers of the 
new religion were numbered among them—knew also 
how to appeal to the Old Testament. If it was 
objected to their view that Jesus ate and drank like 
other mortals, they answered that the angels who 
appeared to Abraham under the oak of Mamre did 
the same. We must not forget that in that age Jesus 
Christ was often regarded by Christian writers—e.g., 
by Justin Martyr—as no more than a leading angel. 
The appeal to this Old Testament story was the more 
effective because Philo had taught that the three 
angels which appeared to Abraham were a vision of 
the triune God, of the One in Three and Three in 
One; and that one of them was the Logos, or Word 
of God, whom the Christians soon identified with 
Christ. Justin also held that the angel who appeared 
to Abraham with the two others in the form of a man 
was the Word. The same Word had appeared, in the 
past, to prophets and patriarchs. Such speculations 
made it much easier to affirm that Jesus, of whose 
birth nothing authentic was known, and who was 
appearing in dreams and trances to so many, had been 
a& phantasm all along. If the Christ had revealed 


himself in the guise of a man-like angel to the saints 
of the past, why not have so revealed himself to his 
disciples in this, the final age of the world? Such 
was the reasoning of these new teachers, who were 
called Docetes, as asserting that Jesus wore only the 
appearance, or dokesis, of human nature, was not a 
being of real flesh and blood, but was a divine being 
masquerading in human form. They rejected the 
idea of physical birth, as in the last degree degrading 
and unworthy of a divine saviour and teacher; the 
idea that he was begotten by a human father, of a 
woman, being, of course, still more repulsive to them. 
This form of opinion soon spread all over the Hast, 
and its advocates ever appealed to the Apostle Paul. 
If the early and fundamental tradition about Jesus 
had comprised any account of his birth and childhood, 
this party, which denied that he was born at all, could 
never have emerged. In the absence of any sound 
and authoritative tradition they were able to say what 
they liked. In the Hast, in Armenia, Syria, and 
Persia, we find this extreme denial of Jesus’s humanity 
met by an equally uncompromising and Ebionite 
assertion thereof. At the present day we are so 
accustomed to the spectacle of orthodox divines 
defending the cause of the miraculous birth of Jesus 
against critics who affirm his full and absolute 
humanity that we can hardly imagine an age when 
it was otherwise. And yet it was otherwise for the 
space of over a hundred years, from about 80 until 
200 a.p. It is hardly too much to affirm that, during 
this epoch, the main drift of Christian speculation, at 
any rate outside Judea, was docetic, and that there 
was a great risk of the Church losing sight altogether 
and for ever of the fact that Jesus was a human being 


like ourselves. There was an ever-increasing tendency 
for the apparitional Christ of Paul’s visions, the 
phantom of innumerable Christian ecstatics, to swamp 
and efface from Christian memory the peripatetic 
prophet of Nazareth. It is irrelevant to say that 
these docetic teachers—Marcion, Valentinus, and the 
countless Gnostics—were heretics, and outside the 
Church. In point of fact, they were not outside until 
the issue had been fought out; and that was not 
much before 160 a.p. Till then they were not techni- 
cally heretics. Throughout this period it was the 
Ebionite party, as it was called later on—the party of 
those who affirmed the natural and non-miraculous 
birth of Jesus—that bore the brunt of the battle, and 
were the standard-bearers of historical Christianity. 
In the event neither side won. The contention that 
a divine being could not be born in the normal way 
found too much support in contemporary pagan legend 
and in the widespread encratism of the Churches for 
it to be wholly set aside. A compromise had to be 
effected; and the legend of the Virgin Birth was 
adopted by the Catholic Church as a media via, with 
a view to include as many as possible. The assertion 
that Jesus took his flesh from the Virgin was thence- 
forth regarded as a sufficient guarantee of his humanity, 
while the obscure part played in his conception by the 
Holy Spirit ensured his being divine. A tendency set 
in in Catholic speculation, as we shall explain below 
(p. 825), to put back the time or date of the divine 
affiliation from the baptism, where Luke set it, to the 
moment of conception; and this school of thought 
finally triumphed at the Council of Ephesus in 431, 
when it was laid down that Mary was the mother of 
God, or Theotokos. Ina later age even this solution 


was voted inadequate, and the conundrum was pro- 
pounded of how to shield Christ from original sin. It 
no longer seemed a sufficient protection to him that 
he was born without a human father. The Greek 
monks of the eighth century solved this new problem 
by supposing that Mary was conceived immaculate— 
v.e., Without the stain of original sin—by her mother 
Anna, who thus became, in a manner, the grand- 
mother of God, her very name and personality being 
taken from the apocryphal Protevangel. These monks 
brought their speculations to Palermo, whence Norman 
divines of a later age carried them to Great Britain 
and Normandy. From Rouen they spread to Paris, 
and thence to Rome, where Pio IX., in 1854, solemnly 
proclaimed the immaculate conception of Mary as a 
new dogma necessary to salvation, and recorded it on 
lofty columns set up in the Piazza di Spagna and on 
the Pincio Hill. 

I have dwelt so long on these strange and morbid 
growths of Christian opinion and practice because 
they help to explain the adoption and final triumph 
of the belief in the Virgin and of her cult. We must 
always bear in mind, however, that the cult of the 
Virgin was a plant of slow growth. Even as late as 
the end of the sixth century there were as yet no feasts 
of the Virgin in Rome. We have already seen that 
to the feast of Jesus’s physical birth no special day was 
assigned till late in the fourth century. The feast of 
the Annunciation was fixed yet later, and wandered 
for centuries up and down the calendar before it was 
accorded a general recognition on a fixed day. In 
most cases these feasts were adaptations of older 
ones. Thus in Armenia the feast of the old goddess 
Anahité was appropriated to the Virgin, and doubtless 


much of her cult as well. In Asia Minor the Virgin 
took the place of Cybele and Artemis, in the West of 
Isis and other pagan goddesses. Latin hymns in 
honour of Isis seem to have been appropriated to 
Mary with little change; and I have seen statues 
of Isis set up in Christian churches as images of the 

Perhaps from some old Egyptian hymn came the 

Que per aures concepisti 

(‘Thou who didst conceive through the ears’’), which 
meets us in medieval hymns to the Virgin Mary." 
For Herodotus related that a ray of light fell from 
heaven on the sacred cow which afterwards gave birth 
to Apis. Plutarch says it was a ray of moonlight. 
He also, in his book About Isis and Osiris, defends 
the old Egyptian worship of the cat on the ground 
that it symbolised the mystery of the generation of 
the Word, or Logos ; for the cat, he writes, repeating 
an idea of old popular zoology, ‘‘ conceives through 
its ears, and brings forth its young through its mouth; 
and the Word, or Logos, is also conceived through 
the ears and expressed through the mouth.” As early 
as Tertullian, c. 200, we meet with similar ideas in 
Christian speculation about the genesis of Jesus. For 
he writes? that, when Gabriel visited Mary and 
announced to her that she should bring forth the 
Messiah, ‘‘a divine ray of light glided down into her 
and, descending, was made concrete as flesh in her 
womb,” so that there was born of her a man mixed 
with God—homo deo mistus. Here we see turned into 

1 E.g., in Bodley MS. Latin Liturgy x., fol. 91 vo. 
2 Apologeticus, 21. 


incident an allegory often employed by Philo. For 
example, in his treatise on the Contemplative Life 
of the Therapeute, this writer describes the aged 
virgins who lived in the settlement near Alexandria 
(see above, p. 213), as follows :— 

They have preserved their chastity throughout, not, 
like some of the priestesses among the pagans, under 
compulsion rather than of their free will, but through 
zeal and longing for Wisdom, with whom anxious to 
mate they have despised bodily pleasures; yearning 
to bear, not mortal, so much as immortal, offspring ; 
such as the God-loving soul is able to bring forth out 
of herself alone, so soon ag the Father has sown into 
her beams of ideal light, wherewith she can contem- 
plate the dogmas of Wisdom. 

Elsewhere, in the tract On Drunkenness (Mangey 
ed., 1. 8361), he writes that ‘“‘God mated with Epistémé 
(science), though not as a man does, and sowed 
offspring. And she received the seed of God, and 
with throes that bring to perfection was pregnant with 
and brought forth the only and well-beloved sensible 
Son—to wit, this kosmos.”’ 

What is metaphor and allegory in Philo was turned 
into history by the Christians in connection with the 
mother of Christ. Yet current myths of partheno- 
genesis probably suggested it to Philo to write as he 
did. Ephrem, the Syrian Father, Ruffinus of Aquileia, 
and many others, describe how the Word of God 
entered, as divine seed, through the ears of the Virgin 
Mary. Old pictures and bas-reliefs equally depict the 
rays of light from heaven entering Mary’s ears; and 
sometimes a manikin is being wafted along the ray, in 
token that Christ brought down a heavenly body with 
him—an idea soon denounced as heretical by the 


Catholics, because it contradicted the belief that he 
took his flesh from Mary, and so was really man. 
Often a dove, symbol of the holy spirit, either emits, 
or floats along, the ray of light. In harmony with 
such a theory of Christ’s conception as an emission of 
light from heaven, the monophysite Churches of 
Armenia and Syria, which only broke off from the 
Byzantine in the fifth century, taught, and still teach, 
that Jesus’s body was made of ethereal fire; that he 
had no evacuations and no digestion, digestion being 
a sort of corruption, and his flesh being incorruptible. 
Asked what became of the food he ate, they ingeni- 
ously answer that it was consumed by the ethereal 
fire of which he consisted, just as a spill of paper is 
consumed when we hold it in a candle flame. His 
mother also, from the moment of concepticn, was, like 
her son, immune from the necessities of nature. Obvi- 
ously these opinions come perilously near the old- 
fashioned docetism, which the monophysites profess 
to condemn as warmly as the Catholics. 

A similar belief accounts for the name Pearl, 
which, first in Syria, it would seem, was given to 
Christ. Pearls were supposed to be generated by rays 
of sunlight striking down through the sea, on the floor 
of which they coagulated and took a material con- 
sistency in the oyster shell. They are thus a precipi- 
tate of sunlight. Jesus, engendered by rays of divine 
light or fire striking down through the Virgin’s ears and 
consolidated within her, was by analogy and metaphor 
termed the Pearl, not, of course, without reference to 
the parable (Matthew xiii.46) of the pearl of great price. 
The idea that spirits, especially evil ones, approach 
women through the ear, which these early legends of 
the Virgin Mary embody, was an old Rabbinic one, 


found in the Talmud, in Philo, Josephus, and, above 
all, in Paul. The latter, in 1 Corinthians, ch. xi., 
forbids a woman ‘‘to pray or prophesy with her head 
unveiled. She must carry on her head a talisman (lit. 
power), because of the angels.” Tertullian, the earliest 
of the Christian Fathers to comment on this passage, 
explains that evil angels were ever lurking about ready 
to assail even married women, much more virgins, 
through their ears. From this point of view he 
penned his weighty treatise, De Virginibus Velandis— 
‘On the Necessity of Veiling Virgins’; and the Church 
has been careful, in devising a dress for nuns, who are 
espoused to Christ, to cover up their ears and protect 
them from this class of risk. The ordinary hat worn 
in church by women hardly satisfies the Pauline 
prescription. The superstitions of the Arunta savages, 
in Central Australia, are the nearest existing analogue 
of the Pauline scruples, in supposed observance of 
which an Anglican clergyman in Cornwall recently 
expelled a lady from his church because, on a hot day, 
she had entered it holding her hat in her hand, instead 
of wearing iton her head. This fussy clergyman had, 
of course, no inkling of the quaint superstition which 
underlies this precept of Paul. It is a pity that a 
course of folklore cannot be introduced into the theo- 
logical faculties of Oxford and Cambridge. 

The power or authority which a woman is enjoined 
to bear on her head was probably a phylactery or 
talisman of a kind to avert evil angels. Connected 
with this was the precept to ‘‘let the hair of the woman’s 
head go loose,” in the rite of ordeal described in 
Numbers v. 11 foll. A woman engaged in prophesy- 
ing would be doubly exposed to risk, for in such 
moments a spirit was supposed to overshadow her, 


and the verb to overshadow was used, technically, of 
a spirit coming upon a woman and causing her to 
prophesy. Any pure or holy spirit visiting a priestess 
for this end would, according to Origen, a scholarly 
Greek Father of the third century, enter by her ears 
alone. The Delphic spirit, just because it entered the 
priestess of Apollo otherwise, was condemned by 
Origen as an impure and unclean demon. Those who 
demand the fullest instruction on such subjects will 
find it in the chapters devoted to Incubi and Succubi, 
in the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. 

CuapterR XIII. 

““Wuat’s in a name?” is a question we have all of us 
heard put—as a rule by persons unwilling to bow to 
some authority invoked by their fellows in argument. 
For we children of the nineteenth and twentieth 
century have learned to regard a man’s name as 
something accidental and indifferent; as serving to 
distinguish one individual from another, but having 
no other use. It has as little to do with a man’s self 
or personality as the number under which he is 
temporarily known in a large hotel. And yet the 
survival among us of such a phrase as ‘‘a name to 
conjure with” indicates that we have not long emerged 
from a phase of culture in which a man’s name was 
regarded as mysteriously bound up with his person- 
ality, in such wise that, if he be himself gifted with 
powers beyond the ordinary, his name is the vehicle 
of similar power. We may even go further, and say 
that, in ancient religions, as in many folk-tales, a 
man’s name was equivalent to his personality ; and 
this belief so moulded language that we find authors 
writing of there being so many names in a city, where 
to-day we would say so many souls or persons. Thus, 
in Revelation xi. 13 we read that ‘in that howr there 
was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city 
fell; and there were killed in the earthquake names of 
men seven thousand’’—that is, seven thousand souls. 
And in the same book, in the letter to the Church of 


Sardis, it is said: ‘‘ Thow hast a few names in Sardis 
which did not defile their garments.” 

The sanctity or virtue of an individual belongs, in 
a measure, to his garments, his hair, nail-parings, 
even to his spittle, and, after death, as the cult of 
relics well illustrates, to his bones. It equally adheres 
to his name, which, if it cannot be touched and 
handled, can be invoked or uttered in speech. A 
thousand ritual observances have their root in this 
belief. Thus, one great bugbear of primitive peoples 
is the fear of being molested by the dead; and, 
accordingly, the name of a dead person must not be 
breathed out loud, lest his wraith be evoked together 
with his name. Among some races the name of a 
dead chieftain, which was often the name of an animal 
or plant, is tabooed, and a fresh nama has to be 
invented for the natural object after which he was 
called. From this cause the vocabularies of such 
races are in perpetual flux. 

Again, since a man’s name is tantamount to his 
vital principle and personality, it must be concealed 
from his enemies no less than his picture and image. 
It is believed that to know another’s name is to have 
power over him. This is why every ancient Egyptian 
had two names—one by which his fellows in this 
world knew him, and the other, his true or great 
name, by which he was known to the supernal powers 
and in the other world. An Abyssinian Christian 
similarly has two names given him at baptism—one 
his common name, the other a secret name never to 
be divulged. The guardian deity or patron saint of 
ancient Rome had a secret name not communicated to 
anyone, for he who learned it might harm the eternal 
city by tempting the deity in question to desert it, just 


as the Romans, by the rite of evocation, had won over 
to themselves the gods of many a conquered city. In 
parts of ancient Greece the holy names of the gods, 
that none might learn them and be able to profane 
them, were engraved on lead tablets and sunk in the 
sea. The same belief underlies our phrase ‘‘ to take 
a@ name in vain’’; and in more than one statute rash 
swearing is forbidden because it amounts to desecra- 
tion of a holy name, and, with the name, of the person- 
ality named. In Oriental folklore—for example, in the 
Arabian Nights—he that would enlist a ginn or demon 
in his service must, above all things, master the name 
thereof; for, knowing it, he can use the spirit and its 
authority how he will. As in other ways, so in their 
assurance of the magic potency of names, the writers 
of the New Testament, and Jesus himself, announce 
themselves true sons of their age. Let us collect a 
few instances: ‘‘ He that overcometh,” Christ is made 
to say in Revelation iu. 5, “‘ shall thus be arrayed in 
white garments ; and I will in no wise blot his name out 
of the book of life.” 

Probably the name in question was a heavenly 
one, like the ‘‘great and true’ name of an ancient 
Egyptian. Anyhow, the exclusion of the name implies 
that of the person named. In Revelation xiii. 1 the 
‘beast coming up out of the sea has upon his heads 
names of blasphemy”’—perhaps the names of Roman 
emperors, fraught with all the power with which 
posthumous deification invested them. In the same 
way Paul, who conceived of Jesus as having been 
mysteriously promoted, through his resurrection, to a 
new and higher grade of spiritual existence than he 
occupied in the flesh, writes, Ephesians i. 21, 22, that 
the ‘father of glory raised him from the dead, and 


made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly region, 
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, 
and every name that 1s named, not only in this age, but 
also in that which is to come.” 

Here the words ‘‘ rule and authority,” etc., refer to 
the different grades of superhuman beings which 
tenant earth, air, and heaven; all these are ‘‘ names 
that are named”’ in this world and the next—that is, 
names fraught with magic potency, and so invoked in 
order to control other inferior powers and forces of 

Names in themselves possess such potency in various 
degrees; and the divine father, according to the 
Pauline theosophy, has them in his gift, to confer 
them on whom he will. When he wished to reward 
Jesus after death for the trust and humility he dis- 
played on earth, he raised him from the dead and 
* exalted him highly, and gave unto him the name that 
is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every 
knee should bow, of beings in heaven and on earth and 
under the earth.” 

The name in question was that of Christ or Messiah. 
In receiving it Jesus was instantly exalted to the 
summit and sovereignty of the angelic and demonic 
creations. This passage reminds us of the old 
Hgyptian legend of the God Ra, who owned a secret 
name by which he controlled men and gods, and which 
was only known to himself. Isis said to herself: 
‘‘Cannot I, by virtue of the great name of Ra, make 
myself a goddess, and reign, like him, in heaven and 
earth ?’”? And, by a stratagem, she forced Ra to 
transfer his magical name from his breast into hers, 
together with all its miraculous powers.! 

1 See Frazer’s Golden Bough, ch. ii., § 3. 


Matthew vii. 22 indicates that it was not long before 
many outside the pale of the Church used Jesus’s 
name in their exorcisms: ‘‘ Many will say to me in that 
day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and 
by thy name cast out devils, and by thy name do many 
mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I 
never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” 
In some of the magical papyri lately discovered in 
Egypt we find the name of Jesus so invoked. I 
adduce one such incantation from an ancient source, 
wherein also the demon is addressed in his own 
tongue :— 

Here is a goodly gift of Apsyrtus, a saving remedy, 
wonderfully effective for cattle. IAO, IAH, in the 
name of the father and of our Lord Jesus Christ and 
holy spirit, iriterli estather, nochthai brasax salolam 
nakarzeo masa areons daron charael aklanathal aketh 
thruth tou malath poumedoin chthon litiotan maza- 
bates maner opsakion aklana thalila iao, iae....... And 
write the same with a brass pencil on a clean, smooth 
plate of tin. 

That already during his Galilean ministry Jesus 
had won such fame as a faith-healer that his name was 
used by exorcists otherwise strangers to him we also 
learn from Mark ix. 87: ‘‘ John said unto him, Teacher, 
we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we 
forbad him, because he followed us not.” Thus his 
name, even before he quitted Capernaum, had already 
become, as we say, ‘‘a name to conjure with,” though — 
his disciples considered that they had a monopoly of 
its use. Jesus, however, said: ‘‘ Forbid him not: for 
there is no man that shall do a mighty work in my name 
and be able quickly to speak evil of me.” 

An incident narrated in Acts, ch. iii., illustrates very 


neatly the nature of faith-healing in general. Peter 
finds a man “that was lame from his mother’s womb, 
whom they laid daily at the door of the temple which is 
called Beautiful to ask alms of them that entered.” So 
to-day, at Lourdes, we see the sick and lame wheeled 
in their chairs before the shrine. Peter bids him walk 
‘in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, [and] took 
him by the right hand and raised him up.” And, later 
on, Peter explains to the people the nature of the cure. 
“ Why,” he says, ‘‘fasten ye your eyes on us as though, 
by owr own power or godliness, we had made him to walk?” 
Then he explains how the God of Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob ‘had glorified his child ( or servant) Jesus [and] 
raised him from the dead. Through faith in his name 
hath his name made this man strong.” It was therefore 
the name which, as fraught with the personal power 
of Jesus Christ, operated the cure, though not without 
the pre-condition that the afflicted person had faith 
therein. On the morrow the priests hale Peter before 
them, “ And inquire, By what power, or in what name, 
have ye done this?”” Peter answers that it is ‘‘through 
the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom God raised 
from the dead, doth this man stand here before you whole.” 
The name, that is to say, like the relic of a later saint, 
has a virtue all of itsown; and Peter goes on to claim 
for this name a sort of monopoly of saving and life- 
giving power: ‘‘ Neither is there any other name under 
heaven, that 1s given among men, wherein we must be 

Unquestionably, the name, qua name, of Brigham 
Young or Mary Eddy would have just the same 
virtue for their followers, supposing these latter-day 
sects had alive among them the old superstitious 
belief in the magical influence and importance of 


names. I do not suggest that Jesus had anything in 
common with the charlatans I have named beyond an 
implicit confidence in himself which he succeeded in 
imparting to others. I only mean to say that, if our 
habits of mind were those of the first century, we 
should hear of cures being wrought in the names of 
Brigham Young and of Mary Eddy. They would 
enjoin their votaries to be baptised into their names, 
just as Paul was accused by his enemies of baptising 
his converts at Corinth into his own name (1 Corin- 
thians i. 18)—a charge which he hotly disowns, on 
the ground that not he, but Christ, had been crucified 
for them. It was an age in which faith-healers and 
exorcists were ever on the look-out for new and power- 
ful names wherewith to charge and weight their 
incantations; and among recently discovered Egyptian 
papyri we have many wherein the names of Abraham, 
Isaac, and Jacob, even of Jesus also, figure alongside 
of the bizarre titles of old Egyptian and Persian gods 
and demons. The Jews quarrelled among themselves 
and with the Christians about what names should be 
used in exorcisms; and on one occasion (Acts xviii. 
16), when in Achaia the Jews rose against Paul, and 
dragged him before the judgment-seat, Gallio, the 
pro-consul, an eminently sensible magistrate, drave 
them away, saying: ‘‘ If, indeed, it were a matter of 
wrong or of wicked villainy, O ye Jews, it would be my 
duty to bear with you: but if they are questions about 
words and names and your own law, look to it your- 
selves.” Similar scenes must often have taken place 
in British East India, between the votaries of Siva 
and Vishnu. 

‘In modern Egypt,” remarks Mr. Frazer, quoting 

from E. W. Lane’s Manners and Customs of the Modern 


Egyptians, “the magician still works his old enchant- 
ments by the same ancient means; only the name of 
the God by which he conjures is different. The man 
who knows the most great name of God can, we are 
told, by the mere utterance of it, kill the living, raise 
the dead, transport himself instantly wherever he 
pleases, and perform any other miracle.” Nor is it 
only men, demons, and gods whose names convey 
power. The virtues of a plant or animal equally 
reside in its name; and in old Rome the Flamen 
Dialis, or Priest of Jupiter, might not even utter the 
name of, any more than touch, certain impure animals 
and fruits, forbidden to him as food; for example, 
goat’s flesh, ivy, and beans. Tertullian (On Idolatry, 
15) believed that the use of demons’ names, however 
empty and made-up they might be, yet, if employed 
for purposes of superstition, rapidly bring to one the 
demons and all unclean spirits by the binding power 
of consecration. 

In the Gospels the demons have their names, and 
in Mark v. 9 Jesus asks of an unclean spirit: ‘‘ What 
is thy name ?”? The demon answers: ‘‘ My name is 
Legion ; for we are many.” Jesus then sends them 
into a herd of swine. Perhaps this quaint legend 
recalls, as M. Salomon Reinach has pointed out, the 
circumstance that the Roman Legion, then forming 
part of the Palestinian garrison, had a sow as its 

It is no mere figure of speech, therefore, when, in 
Matthew xviii. 20, Jesus uses the words: ‘* Where two 
or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in 
the midst of them.” Any.other spirit would equally be 
in the midst of those who met in his name; for the 
name is an essential part of the being, and if, according 


to the ancient Hebrew notions with which Jesus 
and his followers were imbued, a divine or powerful 
name could, like a divine spirit, dwell locally in a 
shrine, so much the more could it be immanent in 
men’s hearts, and they and their lives within its 
sphere of influence. In countless passages of the Old 
Testament we meet with the idea of a divine name 
being enclosed in a holy place. Thus, in Jeremiah 
vii. 12, Jahveh ‘‘caused his name to dwell at the first in 
his place at Shiloh.” Later on he transferred it to the 
shrine at Jerusalem, over which it had been called. 
The psalmist (Psalms lxxiv. 8) laments that the enemy 
** have set fire upon thy holy places, and have defiled the 
dwelling-place of thy Name.” It was believed that, 
when the name of power was ritually pronounced over 
a building or stone, or any other material object, the 
unseen power, or nwmen, entered and dwelt within. 
Idols were consecrated in this way; and when the 
Christians—who, during the first three or four cen- 
turies, religiously eschewed pictures and images of 
Christ and the saints—twitted the pagans with their 
folly, in that they either fashioned with their hands 
objects in order afterwards to fear and venerate the 
same, or feared and venerated objects they had so 
fashioned, the pagans answered that it was not the 
idol they feared, but the being of whom the idol was 
the likeness and image, and by whose name it had 
been consecrated.? 

In Christian rituals, from about the year 300 on, 
an altar, shrine, and any sort of building, and also 
‘‘the natures” of oil, water, salt, candles, even of 
hassocks, have been consecrated by repeating over 

1 Lactantius, On Origin of Error, ch. ii. 


them the formula ‘‘in the name of Jesus Christ,” or “in 
the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Through 
such invocation any satanic taint there was is expelled, 
and a transcendental virtue, authority, or mana, as the 
Melanesian native calls it, inherent in the name passes 
over like an emanation into them. Similarly, the reci- 
tation at the beginning or end of a prayer of the words 
in (or through) the name, etc., sets in operation, in the 
transcendental sphere to which the prayer is supposed 
to ascend, the personality or spirit named. The 
modern church-goer is happily ignorant of the 
original meaning of the rites and forms of invocation 
which he daily hears repeated with so much unetion. 
It is just as well, for he would be shocked if he knew 
their history, and realised that they are based on 
superstitious fancies, derived, through Judaism, from 
the ancient Assyrians, Egyptians, and Persians. Such, 
however, is the case; and in no other way can we 
interpret such phrases as ‘‘ Hallowed be thy name,” 
“‘The Lord’s name be praised,”’ ‘ They that know thy 
name will put their trust in thee” (Ps. ix. 10), and 
‘In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”’ 

Mr. Marett (in Folk-lore, vol. xv., No. 2) has shown 
that a prayer which relies on the use of a name of 
power is not far removed from a spell or magical 
incantation. The mana or authority (Greek exousia) 
with which Jesus controlled the unclean spirits, and 
which his enemies were prone to identify with the 
power exerted by Beolzebub, the prince of devils, over 
his subordinates, could be obtained and used in the 
absence or after the death of Jesus by invocation of 
his name. Here we are on the mental or religious 
plane of the modern Malay who exorcises the demons 
of disease, ‘‘ grandfather smallpox ” and his congeners, 


by invoking the spirit of some powerful wild beast 
(Marett, l.c., p. 157). 

How deeply the magical uses and associations, 
prominent in other ancient cults, influenced also the 
mind of the earliest Church may be illustrated by two 
more examples. 

In Matthew xvi. 19 Jesus confers on Simon Peter, 
who has recognised him as the Messiah, the power of 
binding and loosing, in the following words: ‘TI will 
give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven ; and what- 
soever thow shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, 
and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed 
in heaven.” In Matthew xviii. 18 the same privilege is 
bestowed on all the apostles, and not on Peter alone. 

What does the phrase binding and loosing signify in 
this context? This we learn from such a passage as 
Luke xiii. 10 foll., where Jesus heals a woman who for 
eighteen years had had ‘‘a spirit of infirmity” or 
weakness, and ‘‘could in no wise lift herself up.” 
Probably she was crippled with rheumatism. From 
this spirit Jesus looses her: ‘‘ He called her and said 
to her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 
And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she 
was made straight.” In the sequel Jesus speaks of 
her as “‘ a daughter of Abraham whom Satan had bound 
these eighteen years past,” and he vindicates his right 
to “‘ loose [her] from this bond on the sabbath day.” 

The writer of the above regarded disease as a 
spell laid on men by Satan. Dionysus, like Jesus, 
was credited with the power of loosing such spells, 
for Aristides the Rhetor writes in his panegyric of 
that God: ‘‘ Nothing, it would seem, shall be so 
firmly bound, either by disease, or rage, or by any 
fortune, that Dionysus shall not be able to loose it.” 


The phrase, to bind and loose, was also used in 
reference to burdens of all kinds—of taxation, of sins, 
of the law. Thus Josephus, in his book on the 
Jewish Wars, i. 5, 2, relates how the Pharisees under 
Alexandra ‘got control of everything, exiled or 
restored to their land whom they would, loosed and 
bound.” Diodorus Siculus, bk. i., p. 28, describes Isis 
as follows: ‘‘I am Isis, the queen of all the land, who 
was educated by Hermes; and whatsoever things I 
shall bind, no one is able to loose.” 

Ancient witches were believed to have a power of 
binding and loosing inanimate nature through their 
incantations. Thus Ovid says of Medea: ‘ Jila 
refrenat aquas, obliquaque flumina sistit; Illa loco 
silvas, vivaque saxa movet’’—‘‘She chains back the 
waters and stays the slanting streams; She moves 
from their position woods and living rocks.” And 
Virgil, in his eighth Bucolic, writes: ‘‘ Carmina vel 
caelo possunt deducere lunam’’—“‘ Incantations (or 
charms) can even bring down the moon from heaven.” 

In popular magic binding and loosing are usually 
accompanied by the tying and untying of symbolical 
knots; and Dr. Frazer, in his Golden Bough, gives 
many examples of the magic knot or lock. It is ‘a 
Swiss superstition that if, in sewing a corpse into its 
shroud, you make a knot on the thread, it will hinder 
the soul of the deceased on its passage to eternity ” 
(Golden Bough,vol.i., p.401). In ancient Rome, accord- 
ing to Ovid, a witch pretended to shut the mouths of 
her enemies by sewing up the mouth of a fish with a 
bronze needle. All over the earth, no knots must be 
left tied about the dress of a pregnant woman, lest 
the birth of her child be impeded. Even the doors 
and boxes must be left unlocked, and husbands must 


not even sit with crossed legs, for in so doing they 
imitate the tying of a knot. If a sportsman in Laos 
wishes to keep his game preserve free from intruders, 
he knots together some stalks of grass and says, ‘‘ As 
I knot this grass, so let no hunter be lucky here.” 
And the spell binds the forest (Frazer, Golden Bough, 
vol. i., p. 399). In India the undoing of a knot may 
have an expiatory effect. Thus, if a novice has 
broken his vow of chastity, his teacher ties round 
his neck a blade of the darbha plant. Then he 
sprinkles over his fire grains of rice, barley, or 
sesame. Next he makes him wash in water mixed 
with Sampdta, and throws some fresh offering into 
the fire. Last of all he unties the necklace of 
darbha, and cries: ‘‘The indissoluble bond with 
which the goddess Nirrti has bound thy neck, I untie 
it and give thee life, vital force, and strength....... 
Homage to thee, O Nirrti of the sharp point. Loosen 
thy bonds of iron.” 

The above rite is from the old Sanskrit book of 
magic rites called Atharva Véda, my knowledge of 
which I owe to the late Professor Victor Henry’s La 
Magie dans ’ Inde Antique. 

Vows and imprecations bound men and women 
with magical bonds, and involved many abstinences, 
restrictions, and taboos. Whether in the commission 
entrusted to Peter these are contemplated is uncer- 
tain, nor is it easy to fix precisely the meaning of the 
prescription that what is bound or loosed on earth is 
bound or loosed in heaven, and. vice versd. The 
words seem merely to indicate the universal and 
unlimited range of the power of interdiction and remis- 
sion conferred on the Church by the founder; and we 
need not detect in it the idea that what is done 


ritually on earth is symbolically, and by a sort of 
magic sympathy, executed in heaven. 

The giving of ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven 
has a magical sense analogous to that of binding and 
loosing. In Revelation i. 18 the Messiah is made to 
say: ‘I was dead, and behold, I am alive for ever- 
more, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” 

So, according to an ancient treatise on agriculture 
called Geoponica (i. 14), farmers tried to ward off hail 
from their crops by tying keys to ropes all round 
their fields, and “‘to this day a Transylvanian. sower 
thinks he can keep birds from the corn by carrying a 
lock in the seedbag’’ (Golden Bough, i., 400). As 
has been remarked above, it is the custom in many 
countries to open all the locks in a house where a 
woman is lying-in, for fear lest, if they be kept 
bolted, they should impede or prevent her delivery. 

To sum up, then: the importance attached in the 
New Testament to the ritual use of the name, to 
binding and loosing, to the symbol of the key, savours 
of ancient magic. Of such matters we hear as little 
in the Old Testament as we do of possession by evil 
spirits. A kind of aristocratic intellectual influence 
excluded such ideas from the older Hebrew literature, 
as it later on kept them out of the Fourth Gospel. 
The later Jews acquired this whole circle of super- 
stitious ideas—supposing they had not had them from 
the first—from their Persian, Syrian, Egyptian, and 
other pagan neighbours. As we encounter them in 
the New Testament they seem to have been especially 
acquired by contact with the Persians and Baby- 
lonians. Of ancient Babylon and Assyria Professor 
Sayce writes in his Hibbert Lectures, iv., p. 805, as 
follows: ‘‘Closely connected with the mystical 


importance thus assigned to names was the awe and 
dread with which the curse or excommunication was 
regarded. Once uttered with the appropriate cere- 
monies, the binding of knots, and the invocation of 
divine names, it was a spell which even the gods 
were powerless to resist.” 

My other example is drawn from a passage already 
glanced at in an earlier chapter (p. 85). It is the 
episode of the withering of the fig-tree in consequence 
of a curse uttered by Christ,in Mark xi. 14: “‘He 
answered and said to it, Let no man eat fruit from 
thee henceforward for ever.” It matters little to our 
argument whether Jesus was really guilty of such an 
act of petulant folly as to curse a fig-tree because it 
had no figs on it when, as Mark adds, it was not 
the season of figs; or whether this monstrous story 
is the parable of Luke xiii. 6 foll., transformed by a 
blundering editor into an historical incident. The 
author of Mark as it stands, in any case, believed that 
his Lord cursed the tree, and saw in its being 
withered away from its roots an example of faith 
rewarded and prayer answered ! 

It has taxed the resources of orthodox commen- 
tators to palliate this tale. Thus Professor Swete 
denies that Jesus’s words ‘‘ can properly be called an 
imprecation or curse,” as if he knew better than St. 
Peter, who, as they pass it the next day, says to his 
master, ‘‘ Rabbi, behold, the fig-tree which thou cursedst 
is withered away.” ‘‘Planted in some sheltered 
hollow,” adds this commentator, ‘“‘it was already in 
leaf before the Passover, when other trees of its sort 
were only beginning to bud; and it was reasonable 
to expect a corresponding precocity in regard to the 
eee It is not mere fruitlessness which the Lord 


here condemns, but fruitlessness in the midst of a 
display which promises fruit.’’ 

Surely it were better frankly to admit that we have 
before us an example of the custom, common among 
primitive peoples, of cursing and threatening a tree 
that bears no fruit. In Lesbos the owner of an 
orange-tree that seems sterile will brandish an axe 
before it and say aloud, ‘‘ Bear fruit, or I'll cut you 
down ”’ (Golden Bough, 1., p. 175). It was believed in 
antiquity that fruit-trees and crops could be withered 
and destroyed by magical incantations. So Tibullus: 
“Cantus vicinis fruges traducit ab agris’’—“ Incanta- 
tion filches away their fruits from a neighbour’s 

At Rome a special clause of the Twelve Tables was 
directed against anyone who ruined bv charms his 
neighbour’s fruit-trees. Even to-day, and in England, 
we encounter in remote villages the belief that a 
malicious person can overlook his neighbour’s trees, 
and so wither and kill them. In Italy the evil eye is 
as potent against them as against human beings; and 
this is the circle of ideas within which the author of 
this story about Jesus moved. 

CuapTer XIY. 

Tue oldest account of the Christian Eucharist is in 
Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians, xi. 23-25, as 
follows: ‘‘ For I received from the Lord that which also 
I delivered unto you, how that the Lord Jesus, in the 
night in which he was betrayed, took bread ; and when 
he had given thanks, he brake it and said, This is my 
body, which is for your sake (broken): this do in 
remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup, after 
supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my 
blood: this do as oft as ye drink it in remembrance of 

The words “I received from the Lord” imply that 
Paul derived this narrative of the last supper, not 
from companions of Jesus, but as one of the private 
revelations to which he was liable. It rests, there- 
fore, on no basis of fact, but, like much of Paul’s 
conception of Jesus, is partly, or wholly, an @ priori 
construction of his own mind. I say partly, because 
the imagination of ecstatics generally works along the 
lines of what they have read or heard; and, if this was 
here the case, we have in the above account a nucleus 
of real tradition recast and expanded by Pauline 
fantasy. However this be, it remains true that this 
Epistle of Paul’s became in time the norm of Christian 
eucharistic practice and thought. 

A narrative wholly similar, except for the omission 
of the two clauses beginning “this do,” recurs in 



Matthew and Mark; while Luke is interpolated from 
this very passage of Paul. The Fourth Gospel ignores 
the entire episode. The redactors or compilers of 
Matthew and Mark took the words this is my body and 
this is my blood from Paul’s Epistle. It does not 
much matter whether Jesus really used them, or Paul 
dreamed them. In either case their meaning is the 
same. What, then, do they mean ? 

Paul leaves us in no doubt about this. The sacred 

_ meal he describes was the Christian counterpart of the 

Jewish sacrifice to Jahveh, and of the sacrifices offered 
by Gentiles to their devilish gods. Just as through 
these old-world sacrificial rites was effected a com- 
munion between the worshippers on the one side and 
the god or gods on the other, so, by partaking of their 
own consecrated bread and wine, the Christians attained 
communion with Christ. It is in an earlier chapter 
of his Epistle that Paul assures us of this fact, and we 
must quote his words, because they show that he and 
his converts, in respect of what has become the central 
sacrament of the religion, were in exactly the same 
stage of religious and mental development as the 
ancient Jews, the pagans, and, we may add, as savage 
or primitive races all over the globe. Here, then, is 
what he says (1 Corinthians x. 14 foll.): ‘‘ Wherefore, 
my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men ; 
prove ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, 
is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? The 
bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body 
of Christ? Seeing that there is one bread [or loaf], we, 
who are many, are one body ; for we all partake of the 
one bread [or loaf]. Look at Israel after the flesh: 
have not they which eat the sacrifices communion with 
the altar? What say I, then? that a thing sacrificed to 


idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? But [I 
say] that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacri- 
Jice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye 
should have communion with devils. Ye cannot drink the 
cup of the Lord and the cup of devils: ye cannot partake of 
the table of the Lord, and of the table of devils. Or do we 
provoke the Lord to jealousy ? Are we stronger than he?” 

What does all this mean ? 

Let us remember that in Paul’s age it nowise 
offended the popular mind and imagination to per- 
sonify and elevate into divinities, not only a malignant 
virus like fever, but abstract qualities like peace, 
concord, fortune, fame, as Cicero relates in his book 
on The Nature of Gods, ii. 23 and iii. 25. Altars were 
raised to them; the sculptor rendered their features 
plain to the eye; with offerings of fruit and flowers 
men did them homage; with the blood and flesh of 
victims they appeased their wrath and nourished their 
shadowy substance. If abstract qualities could be 
thus venerated as active principles and spirits, the 
role and office of Christ, the messiahship, also admitted 
of being taken apart from the individual man Jesus, 
who was Messiah, and, as we say, hypostatised, or 
turned into a vague transcendental spiritual activity and 
impulse, untrammelled by the bonds and limits of the 
flesh, yet personal and self-conscious. Thus the Gnostic 
believers of the second century figured the Christ- 
hood as a pre-existent heavenly won that had struck 
down from the highest through the many intermediate 
grades of being, and entered Jesus in the Jordan. 
Paul rather regarded the Christhood as a pre-existent 
ideal man, who had temporarily assumed a robe of 
flesh, and had through the resurrection recovered the 
divine attributes and glory which, in the time of 


fleshly infirmity, had been left behind in heaven. 
This risen Messiah was no longer Jesus Christ, but 
_ Christ Jesus, in token that the man and the Jew was 
left behind or had receded into the background. He 
was now an immortal, incorruptible, vitalising spirit, 
a pervading influence and impulse, blowing like a 
breeze through the chords of men’s souls, and evoking 
from them a new harmony. From this mystical 
standpoint, the Church was the body of Christ, and 
he its head, or entelechy, to use an Aristotelian .term. 
** Now ye are the body of Christ and severally members 
thereof,’ Paul writes (1 Corinthians xii. 27) to his 
converts. And just before (verse 18) he has written : 
** For by one spirit we were all baptised into one body, 
whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and 
were all made to drink of one spirit.” The believers, 
accordingly, form a single organism, of which all the 
members suffer with one of themselves that is injured 
and rejoice with one that is honoured. 

In full accord with this lofty ideal of the Church, 
Paul believed that each member of the same is a 
Christ in so far as he shares the single animating 
spirit. ‘“‘I live, yet no longer I, but Christ liveth within 
me,” he characteristically exclaims in Galatians ii. 20. 
And so vivid was this belief that Christ is immanent 
in the believer that within a few decades it was not 
uncommon to represent saints and martyrs as meta- 
morphosed in face and look into Christ. Thus the 
virgin Thekla, when she is haled before the judge by 
the youth whom she is pledged to wed, but has thrown 
over, looks round the court in search of solace and 
support, and her eyes fall upon Paul, and, as she 
gazes, his features give way to those of Christ. ‘* As 
a sheep wandering among the hills in search of the 


shepherd, even so Thekla sought for Paul. And, as 
she looked round on all the men there, she saw the 
Lord Jesus sitting full opposite to her in the likeness 
of Pauly. 5s; And, while she kept her eyes fixed upon 
him, the Lord rose up, and went into heaven.” 
Similarly, in the persecution at Lyons in a.p. 177, the 
faithful gazing on the female slave Blandina, who was 
being tortured, saw her “with their outward eyes”’ 
transformed into Christ, who had been crucified for 
them. In the apocryphal Translation of Philip Jesus 
appears to the faithful in the outward form of the 
saint, just as in the Fourth Gospel he appears to 
Mary Magdalene, watching at the tomb, in the guise of 
the gardener. Is it not possible that such ideas 
furnished the starting-point of the belief, noticed 
above (p. 207), that the Apostle Judas Thomas was 
physically the twin brother of Jesus ? 

Paul’s conception of the Christian organism is a 
fine one, worthy of any philosopher, ancient or 
modern. The greater is the pity that he cannot 
sustain himself at its level, but deems it necessary 
to buttress up the noble spiritual unity he dreams of 
with a means suggested by and imitated from the 
pagan and Jewish religions of sacrifice—to wit, with 
the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. 
From the heights of idealism we suddenly drop into 
the depths of primitive magic and fetichism. 

The early idea of kinship contains elements to 
which to-day we scarcely give a thought. Thus an 
Arab whose bread and salt or other victuals you have 
shared regards you as his kinsman for such time, 
usually three days, as his food is supposed to remain 
in your blood. For so long he will protect you and 
your belongings, curse them that curse you, and 


bless them that bless you. As soon, however, as the 
taboo or sanctity, with which communion in eating 
invested you in his and his tribesmen’s eyes, shall 
have worn off, he is as ready as ever to rob and 
murder you. Maybe the Arab is actuated in his 
hospitality by the fancy that, as without food man 
can neither think nor act, so communion in food 
involves common thinking and acting—in short, unity 
of life and spirit. By parity of reasoning, kin- 
ship, however created, is refreshed, sustained, and 
strengthened by common meals. 

But the tie of kinship does not unite men alone; it 
equally binds together a kin or clan and the god 
worshipped by that kin or clan; and in this case also 
the tie, if not created, is anyhow strengthened and 
confirmed by sacramental meals in which the god 
either eats with or (under the figure of a holy 
animal) is eaten by the clan. In the one case the 
life and vigour of the god is communicated indirectly 
to the worshippers whose life and welfare are bound 
up with his; in the other case it passes directly into 
their heart and veins. The Jew or pagan never 
neglected an opportunity of reinforcing within him- 
self the substance of his god or favourite demon. If 
he drank, he began with a libation to the god—that is, 
he poured out a little of his liquor, in order that the 
invisible god might drink it with him. If he slew an 
animal, he set apart the first bits cut off for the god, 
and in particular poured out the blood for the god to 
lap up. Similarly, the first fruits of the field were 
devoted to the gods, who consumed them, often in 
the guise of priests that personated them. If, like 
Jahveh, the god or his name inhabited a sacred 
stone, bethel, or altar, then the blood was poured 



over that, and the votaries smeared themselves with 
it in order to establish and complete communion 
with the god in what seemed the most effective way— 
that is to say, by material and physical contact. 

The blood was conceived to be, if not the very life 
of the animal, at least intimately bound up there- 
with; since the mere emptying out of it from the 
veins and arteries entails death. As such it was in a 
special manner the food of gods and demons. In the 
Odyssey the shades of the departed have no strength 
to converse with Ulysses until he has given them 
draughts of black blood; and it passed unquestioned 
among the Fathers of the Church that, as the Jewish 
God Jahveh in Genesis vili. 21 snuffed up the savour 
of Noah’s burnt-offerings and was appeased, so the 
demons that were the gods of the Gentiles battened 
on the blood and reek of their altars. Christians 
were taught sturdily to refuse to sacrifice to the old 
gods, in order to starve them out and reduce them to 
nerveless inanity. 

This conception of the blood as essentially the life 
meets us in Genesis ix. 4, ‘But flesh with the life 
thereof, which is the blood thereof, ye shall not eat.” 
The underlying idea was this, that by consuming the 
blood of an animal you imbibe its spirit also; and 
the chance of harbouring in his entrails the spirit of 
a cow, goat, sheep, or fowl was one from which not 
the Jews alone shrank back in dismay. The neo- 
Pythagoreans of the late Hellenic period abstained 
altogether from flesh. diet on this account, and 
Porphyry, in his work On Abstinence, ascribes the 
internal rumblings of the human gut to foul spirits 
introduced with a meat diet, and regards escapes of 
wind as their out-rushings. Such considerations as 

| 8 


these explain why abstinence from meats strangled 
was one of the few rules of the Jewish law which the 
heads of the Jerusalem Church insisted that Gentile 
converts must observe. It is curious to note that this 
rule, so emphatically laid down by the earliest council 
ever held, has, except in the case of a few far-Hastern 
Churches, been for eighteen hundred years forgotten 
and rejected by orthodox Christians, in strong 
contrast with their meticulous observance of the 
Wednesday, Friday, and Lenten fasts. Why was the 
Apostolic rule so soon consigned to oblivion? 
Probably because the Jews observed it. If they 
went one way and kept one rule, the Church was 
careful to go another way and invent a different rule, 
making all the time hypocritical profession of her 
devotion to apostolic usage. 

Another ancient custom, that of establishing a 
blood-brotherhood between persons not naturally 
akin, rests on the idea that the blood is the life and 
vital principle. One of the parties to the covenant 
cuts his arm or breast so that it bleeds, and the other 
sucks the wound. As their bloods are now mingled, 
so henceforth are their souls and lives. This rite 
still survives in South Italy among the members 
of the secret society known as the mala vita. 
In this case the chief brigand makes an incision 
under his left breast over the heart, and the neo- 
phytes apply their lips and suck a drop of his 

The custom is old and widespread. Oaths, says 
Herodotus, i. 64, are taken by the Medes and Lydians 
in the same way as by the Greeks, except that they 
make a slight flesh wound in their arms, from which 
each sucks a portion of the other’s blood. Among 


the ancient Scythians, according to the same witness, 
the parties to an oath wounded themselves slightly 
with a knife, and, having mingled their blood with 
wine in a large bowl, repeated prayers and drank 
the sacred draught. Tacitus witnesses to a similar 
usage among the Armenians and Iberians of the 
Caucasus. Sir Samuel Baker, the traveller, in 1873, 
in the territories of Rionga, an African chief, “ ex- 
changed blood with him.’ Similar customs existed 
everywhere in the ancient world, and are still met 
with among savages. Human blood has a peculiar 
value in the ratifying of pacts, and the legend that 
Jews slay Christian children and eat their flesh in 
unholy communion is evidence not so much that 
such a custom ever prevailed among them as that 
their Christian accusers were familiar among them- 
selves with the institution of such blood-brotherhoods. 
The early Christians were commonly accused by the 
pagans of such ‘‘ Thyestean banquets.” The religious 
rite of making another man into your brother, called 
adelphopoiia, and found in old Greek prayer-books, 
is a Christianised form of the rite which in its old 
barbarous shape still survives, as I have said, among 
South Italian brigands. 

Let us apply these considerations to the interpreta- 
tion of Paul’s text. The born Jews, he says, ‘‘ which 
eat the sacrifices have communion with the altar.” 
Sanctity belonged to the altar, because the God 
dwelt within it, as is recognised in Matthew xxiii. 19: 
“ Which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifieth 
it?” For a victim or offering laid on the altar 
became taboo or holy, the magic virtue of the stone 
being communicated to it by contact and proximity. 
The same virtue is imparted to the believers who 


partake of the flesh of the victim after giving to the 
god his portion. 

Paul recognised that the heathen, also, by laying 
their gifts or sacrifices on the altars of devils, imparted 
to them a magical or devilish virtue. The god may 
inhabit the image rather than the altar below it, but 
anyhow his influence extends to it and to the gifts 
laid on it. There is thus a sort of demoniac 
atmosphere all round, which contaminates the meats 
offered to idols; and this is why the early Christians 
so carefully avoided meats offered to idols, often con- 
demning themselves, by their scruples, to a strict 
vegetarianism, for pretty well all the flesh exposed 
in an ancient market had been thus consecrated. 
Paul had two minds about this point: in the one he 
held that, as the idol was in itself nothing, there was 
no harm in eating meats offered to it; the more so 
because God had made all things good and pure, and 
fit for man’s consumption. He even advises his 
converts to eat what is offered them and ask no 
questions; only if they are expressly told that the 
viand in question has been offered to an idol shall 
they abstain, in order not to appear to those present 
to do homage to the idol. In his other mind, as in 
the passage above cited, he takes a contrary line. 
The Gentiles have communion with the devils, to 
which they offer the blood and titbits of the victim, or 
pour off the first drops of the goblet. Paul would not 
like his converts thus to have communion with a 
devil and imbibe its influence; for Jehovah is a 
jealous God, and brooks no rivals. Here he regards 
the gods as real and living beings, emulous of a 
homage due to God alone. 

For the Christian, then, the table of the Lord and 


the cup of the Lord take the place of the victims and 
libations of the older religions. How was this? 
Clearly the bread and wine, over which Jesus had 
pronounced the words “‘ This is my body,” or “ This is 
my blood,’ possessed for Paul and his converts a 
taboo value. The meal with its one loaf symbolised, 
of course, the ideal union of believers ; but it was not 
merely symbolic. A magical value clearly attached to 
the elements in themselves, else why were they who 
“shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord 
unworthily guilty of the body and blood of the Lord’’? 

This is the language of the ancient ordeal, where 
a taboo or holy food was given to the accused, whom 
it poisoned if he was guilty. ‘‘ He that ecateth and 
drinketh eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if 
he discern not the body.’’ These last words are obscure, 
and the word discern or discriminate must be a 
technical term of the occultists of that day. It seems 
a warning not to gobble down the consecrated bread, 
as if it were ordinary food, forgetting that it is the 
body of Christ. Because they did so, many of the 
Corinthian Church, adds Paul, are ‘‘ weak and sickly, 
and not a few sleep ’’—i.e., have died. The bread and 
wine, therefore, if taken with due care and solemnity, 
without gluttony or selfishness, formed a talisman and 
charm against sickness, and even death! Sixty years 
later Ignatius, the martyred bishop of Antioch, calls 
them a drug of immortality. 

From the pointed manner, then, in which Paul 
contrasts ‘‘ the table of the Lord and the table of devils,” 
we can infer the working of his mind. It was this: 
As by sharing with a demon his sacrificial food we 
import into ourselves the demon’s spirit, life, and 
qualities, so by eating food which Christ himself ate, 


and by so eating made and explicitly recognised to 
be his own body and blood, we establish a kinship 
with him. It was still the Lord’s table, though he 
was dead, because he had once used the words This is 
my body. Those who sat at the table of the Lord, and 
rehearsed the scene of the last supper, still ate with 
him food that he ate; and, as it nourished in him a 
life that vanquished death, so it did in them. We 
cannot infer from Paul’s addition of the words, ‘‘ This 
do in remembrance of me,” that it was part of the ritual 
for those who presided at the agapés or love-feasts of the 
Corinthian Church to repeat over the bread and wine 
the words This is, ete. But we find this ritual in a later 
age in certain heretical churches, in which the bishops 
or presidents or prophets were practically regarded as 
reincarnations of Christ. The Armenian dissenters 
to this day assert that the Pope, when he repeats 
these words over the bread and wine, converts them 
not into the body and blood of Christ—for he is 
no Christ—but into his own impure flesh and blood. 

In any case, the bread and wine consumed at these 
feasts were, in Paul’s eyes, charged with a certain 
influence of a holy sort, just as victuals of which a 
demon had received a first taste were charged with 
an unholy influence, which contaminated them. 
Having once gone to form and constitute the body and 
mind of Christ, the elements—that is, the bread and 
wine—if eaten and drunk worthily by his followers, 
constituted them the body of Christ and informed 
them with his vivifying spirit. 

It has been suggested by some critics—e.g., by 
Wellhausen—that the bread and wine were used by 
Jesus himself as surrogates for real flesh and blood. 
The sense of the word surrogate, first used by 


Robertson Smith in this connection, needs to be 
explained. Let us take examples. A Chinaman, 
bound by filial piety to provide his dead parents 
with cash for use in the next world, and finding real 
coin of the realm to be scarce, makes paper images 
of money and buries these with the corpse. The 
paper is a surrogate for the metal. The manufacture 
of such mock-money for use of the dead is a large 
industry in China. 

Again, the Hindoos, no longer allowed by the 
British Government to throw themselves under the 
wheels of the Juggernaut car, make images of men 
and women, and throw them under, so that the 
god may still reap the satisfaction of human sacrifices 
offered to him. In certain ancient cults dough or 
wax figures of men and animals were made and 
offered to the god in place of the archetypes, which 
were either beyond the means of the worshippers or 
out of fashion in a more civilised age. 

From all this it follows that gods and ghosts are 
either easily deceived or so good-natured as to fall in 
with the make-believe piety of their votaries. Nor is 
the custom of substituting semblance for reality con- 
fined to gods and ghosts. It extends to magic. IfI 
would wreak my spite on an enemy, I have but to 
make an image of him or her in wax, and melt it 
before a slow fire. As it melts, so my enemy will be 
consumed with disease. If I have no wax or moulding 
art, it will suffice to get a photograph or picture, and 
stick pins into it. Even an onion will do the turn. 
I can hang it up in my chimney, and as it dries up 
and blackens in the smoke, so my enemy will pine 
away. Such images and pictures are surrogates. 
Hence the maxim that, in magic and religion, “‘jicta 


pro veris accip,’”’—‘ feigned things are accepted for 

Can we, then, suppose that the bread and wine were 
used in the early Christian Eucharist as were dough 
images in the cults referred to? Was the Kucharist, 
as established by Jesus or as dreamed by Paul to 
have been so established, an example of sympathetic 
or, as it is now termed, of homeopathic magic? Did 
the believers think that in eating and drinking the 
substitutes they reaped the same advantages as if 
they had eaten and drunk the real flesh and blood of 
their Lord ? : 

I doubt it, and I do not think it much matters. It 
is, anyhow, clear that Paul believed that at the Lord’s 
table—the Christian analogue of the tables of the 
demons—the bread and wine, having been once par- 
taken of by Christ, and so become his body and blood, 
became so afresh, even after his death, if only a 
portion was offered or consecrated to him by blessing 
and prayer. As the offering of an aparché or first 
taste of a victim’s flesh or of the fruits of the field to 
a demon brought all the rest of the carcase or produce 
into, as it were, a field of demonic influence and 
taboo, so with the bread and wine offered and con- 
secrated by Jesus on the night in which he was 
betrayed. Solemn and ceremonial participation 
therein was an act of communion with him, by 
means of which his qualities passed into the parti- 
cipants, as those of the demon passed into his 
votaries whenever they partook of food and drink of 
which the demon partook. Whether, therefore, 
Christ himself instituted this sacrament, or whether 
Paul, under influence of his ecstatic revelations, 
merely fathered it on Christ, in either case ideas and 



conceptions which to-day we call magical underlay 
and motived it. For nearly four hundred years the 
divines of the reformed Churches have been trying, 
but in vain, to explain away these primitive and 
magical aspects of the early Christian sacrament. 
The Roman doctrine is really less remote than theirs 
from the mind of the primitive Church; and it only 
seems strange and absurd in this age because the 
ideas and atmosphere of the old sacrificial systems 
have long ago cleared away like a fog from our minds, 
_ and left the Eucharist hanging in the air naked and 
_ shorn of its old sympathetic background of pagan and 
Jewish superstition. 

The other chief aspect of this sacrament was 
probably invented by Paul. It was to proclaim 
Christ’s death until he should come again. Matthew 
declares the wine to be the blood of the covenant, 
which is shed for many unto the remission of sin, 
and of the bread Paul says that it is the body 
(broken) for believers. From this standpoint the 
sacrament is a rehearsal or repetition of the death 
regarded as an expiatory sacrifice. Here again we 
breathe an atmosphere of mythical and barbarous 
ideas. It took the Fathers of the Church many 
generations before they could make up their minds 
whether the death of Christ was a sop to Satan or to 
the offended Christian God. . 

It would be against all analogy that an institution 
so tainted with magic from the first as was the 
Eucharist, should not, as the ages rolled by, gather 
about it ever fresh accretions of superstition. Accord- 
ingly, long before the end of the second century the 
consecrated elements, and particularly the bread, 
which could more easily be carried about than the 


wine, became a mere fetish or talisman. If during 
the rite a portion fell on the ground, it was believed 
that Christ’s body was wounded and bleeding afresh. 
Ladies carried a bit of the bread about in their 
pockets and swallowed it before dinner. It was sent 
about from one Church to another to strengthen and 
affirm their union with each other. Theories of how 
the consecration took place were soon evolved; and of 
these one of the earliest was this, that the Holy Spirit, 
or Logos, came down and abode either upon or within 
it, so that Christ enjoyed, as it were, a second sojourn 
upon earth within it. A fetish is a material object 
into which, by means of invocations or incantations, 
a spirit has been persuaded to enter, so as to dwell 
within it; this definition exactly fits the consecrated ~ 
food of the Christian Eucharist. Later on certain 
thinkers in the Roman Church taught that the con- 
version into the body and blood of Jesus is only real, 
if the bread and wine be received with faith and 
worthily; but this attempt to moralise the institution 
was soon ruled out, and the consecration became a 
mere magical operation performed by the priest for 
the benefit of the living and the dead. The Aristo- 
telian distinction of substance and accident was also 
called in to explain its nature. The substance of the 
bread, it was argued, becomes the substance of the 
flesh, even though the accidents of the bread—e.g., 
colour, size, hardness, taste, weight, smell, ete.—remain; 
as if, forsooth, a bit of bread had any substance 
apart from the entire complex of its attributes. 
However, the substance of the body and blood having, 
on this view, replaced in the act of consecration that 
of the bread and wine, the recipient is declared to 
masticate, with teeth and tongue, the real flesh and 


blood. It is only by the merciful providence of a 
God unwilling to shock and stupefy his worshippers, 
that the attributes or accidents are allowed to remain, 
and the holy bread or victim, as it is called, prevented 
from appearing on the altar as a bleeding mass of raw 
human flesh. 

Let us, in conclusion, return to a question which 
has been touched upon in the foregoing pages— 
namely, whether the words this is my body and this is 
my blood can be supposed to have been used by Jesus 
himself. It is not an important issue; but the dis- 
cussion of it serves to reveal upon how slender a basis 
of documentary evidence may rest the hugest dogmatic 
and ceremonial structures. Let us confront the three 
texts of Matthew, Mark and Luke:— 

Marruew xxvi. 26. 

And as they were 
eating Jesus took 
bread, and, having 
blessed, broke and gave 
it to the disciples and 
said: Take ye, eat; 
this is my body. And 
having taken a cup 
and given thanks, he 
gave it to them say- 
ing: Drink ye, all, of 
it, for this is my blood 
of the covenant which 
is poured out for 
many unto remission 
of sins. But I say 
unto you, I will not 
drink henceforth of 
this fruit of the vine 
until the day when I 
shall drink it new with 
you in the Kingdom 
of my father. 

Mark xiv. 22, 

omits “eat” 

to them, and they 
drank of it all. And 
he said to them, This 
omits “unto remis- 
sion of sins.” 

Verily I say 

omits “ with you” 

Kingdom of God. 

LUKE xxii. 

14, And when the 
hour was come, he lay 
down, and the apostles 
with him. 

15. And he said to 
them: With desire 
have I desired to eat 
this passover with you 
before I suffer. 

16. For I say unto 
you I will henceforth 
not eat it until it be 
fulfilled in the King- 
dom of God. 

17. And having re- 
ceived a cup he gave 
thanks and said: Take 
this and apportion it 
among yourselves ; 
(18) for I say unto 
you I will not drink 
from now on of the 
fruit of the vine until 
the Kingdom of God 
be come. 

19. And having 
taken bread he gaye 


thanks, brake it and 
gave it to them, say- 
ing: This is my body 
} [which is given for 
you. This do ye in 
commemoration of 
me. (20) And the 
cup likewise after the 
supping, saying: This 
cup is the new cove- 
nant in my blood, the 
(cup) which is poured 
out for you]. 

Let us consider, first, Luke’s text. If the reader 
will look back to p. 251, where the text of 1 Corin- 
thians xi. 23-25 is quoted, he will see that these 
verses of Paul’s letter have been incorporated bodily 
in Luke’s text, verses 19 and 20. So much also of 
these verses as is enclosed in square brackets is 
wanting in some of the earliest MSS. of Luke. 

Remove these two verses from Luke’s text, and 
what do we get? Surely no more than an anticipa- 
tion of the speedy approach of the Kingdom; so soon 
will it come that, until then, Jesus will not again 
drink the wine and eat the bread of the passover meal. 
So remote from our minds to-day is the thought of a 
miraculous and sudden installation of a new era for 
humanity, as opposed to its slow and gradual evolu- 
tion through piecemeal and painstaking correction of 
the evils and diseases of actual society, that the entire 
meaning of this last meal of Jesus with his disciples 
is hidden from the average reader. It needs too much 
effort to realise that Jesus believed that, by a sudden 
peripety, within his own lifetime and within that of 
his followers, the existing régime was to be upset and, 
to use Luke’s phrase in Acts i. 6, “‘the Kingdom 
restored to Israel.” For the messianic aspirations 
voiced by this evangelist in the canticle ascribed to 


Zacharias are to be fulfilled before that generation 
passed away. The “ Lord the God of Israel [was] to 
visit and effect the redemption of his people, salvation 
from their enemies and from the hand of all that hated 
them, to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he 
sware unto Abraham their father, to grant that they, 
being delivered out of the hand of their enemies, should 
serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness 
before him all their days.” John was conceived as the 
prophet who was “‘ to give knowledge of [this] salvation 
to his [i.e., Jahveh’s] people through remission of their 
sins.” And this fifth act of the tragic drama of 
Jewish history was not to take place in another world, 
but in the promised land of Juda itself. Jesus, 
having, as he thought, leavened the northern lands 
of Israel with his teaching, was come to Jerusalem, 
the focus of the religious life of his countrymen, to 
keep the yearly feast which commemorated their 
deliverance out of the land of Egypt. In the fervour 
of his enthusiasm he dreamed that it only remained 
to him to proclaim there also the immediate advent 
of the Kingdom; and Jehovah, who had been with 
him until now, would, even before his apostles had 
had time ‘‘ to go through the cities of Israel”’ (Matthew 
x. 23), send ‘‘the Son of Man”’ to liquidate all existing 
things and inaugurate a new society. In the new era 
the twelve apostles will sit in Jerusalem on thrones 
judging the twelve tribes; and Jesus will preside 
among them at the passover table drinking new wine. 
Luke assumes that Jesus at this last supper foresaw 
his fate, and realised that this was his last passover 
before he should suffer. According to this perspective, 
his death was to intervene as a preliminary to the 
resurrection and second coming. In Mark, however, 


and Matthew, who servilely copies him out, we miss 
this perspective. In them there is no anticipation of 
impending death, -but only of the day when he will 
drink “‘ the new wine” with them “in the kingdom of 
his father.” 

Now, is it possible that, as verses 19 and 20 of 
Luke’s account have been interpolated from Paul’s 
letter to the Corinthians,.so also Mark interpolated 
therefrom his verses 22-24? I have italicised in 
Matthew’s text (which is the same as Mark’s) the 
words and phrases which agree with Paul’s text. The 
agreement is so close and so extensive that either Mark 
must have copied Paul or Paul Mark. The latter hypo- 
thesis is ruled out by time considerations. It follows 
that Paul’s text influenced Mark, or some early redactor 
of Mark. If we admit the second Gospel as it stands 
to be from the pen of Mark, we can quite well suppose 
that he had before him the letter of Paul to the 
Corinthians; for Paul, on the first of his missionary 
journeys, had Mark as his companion for part of the 
way. It is more likely, however, that the original 
text of Mark resembled in form and matter verses 14-18 
of Luke’s narrative.- Then a redactor adjusted them 
to Paul’s account in time for Matthew to copy them 
out. It would seem that Luke had an earlier form of 
Mark’s text, not yet interpolated from Paul. The 
Pauline addition was not in his copy of Mark, or he 
would, like Matthew, have transcribed it. So it was 
left to a subsequent editor of his text to fill in the 
lacuna direct from Paul’s Epistle. The fourth evan- 
gelist, in his narrative of the last supper, has no 
mention of the episode, and may not have found it in 
his copy of Mark. He was, however, familiar with 
the idea of Christ’s flesh being the living bread, given 


to man for the life of the world ; and he sets in Jesus’s 
lips the words: “Hacept ye eat the flesh of the Son of 
Man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves.” 
Jesus, however, does not use these words at the last 
supper, but in Capernaum; and none but the unbe- 
lieving Jews are allowed to take the saying literally : 
“The Jews therefore strove with one another, saying, 
How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Indeed, 
throughout the context the fourth evangelist is 
elaborating an idea, which equally meets us in Philo, 
of the Logos being heavenly bread and the cup of God. 
He probably knew of a Christian Eucharist whereat 
the believers deemed themselves to be really eating 
Christ’s flesh and drinking his blood ; and he tries to 
dissipate so gross and material an idea, and substitute 
for it that of a spiritual communion. He concludes: 
“Tt is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth 

We may, then, sum up the probabilities about the 
origin of the Kucharist somewhat as follows: Other 
sects or heresies had, during the first century B.c., 
arisen in the bosom of Judaism, which had their sacred 
meals. Thus the Essenes, who by thousands rejected 
the temple sacrifices, rejected marriage, and lived 
apart among their date plantations near the Dead Sea, 
bathed in cold water, and met in white robes, every 
evening after their work in the fields was done, to 
partake of a holy repast, consisting mainly of bread 
and water. They had their own priests to bless or 
consecrate this repast, just as the Christians at first 
required prophets to do it, and later on consecrated 
priests for the purpose. The Hssenes laid such stress 
upon the ritual purity of their food that they kept up 
special rest-houses in the various cities of Palestine, 



wherein their members might eat when engaged in 
travel; and members who, for having divulged the 
mysteries confided to them at initiation, had been 
excommunicated and expelled from the communion, 
had been known to die of hunger because they were 
denied the sacramental banquets of the sect, and could 
partake of no others without violating their oath and 
conscience. Here we have so close an analogue to 
the Church, with its equipment of priests and sacra- 
ments, that some writers—e.g., De Quincey—have 
argued that the earliest Christianity was Essenism. 
The Essenes, however, were not, so far as we know, 
Messianists. Nevertheless, they may, in matters of 
organisation and discipline, have supplied the Chris- 
tians with a model. 

So also, in all probability, did the Therapeute, or 
worshippers, of Egypt, to whom we have already 
referred. They, too, had a sacred meal every fiftieth 
day, consisting of bread and water without flesh. The 
Scriptures were read and hymns sung in the course 
of this meal, which seems to have resembled the pass- 
over feast in all respects, except that there was no 
roast lamb. It was eaten in their synagogue or 
meeting-house, and their elders and deacons presided 
and ministered at it. 

The first Christians, however, expected the end of 
the world and the second coming during their life- 
time, and were but holding on until the great event 
should occur, preparing themselves for the restoration 
of God’s rule on earth by mutual charity, forbearance, 
suffering of persecution, fasting, vigils, and prayers. 
Their great fear was to be surprised by the end ere 
they stood ready, with their lamps trimmed and their 
loins girded. Those who had means freely gave of 


them for the support of the poorer; but there was no 
encouragement ofidleness. The prophets and teachers 
were alone dispensed from the necessity of earning 
their livelihood ; and in the Teaching of the Apostles, 
our earliest manual of their discipline and ritual, we 
find shrewd rules laid down even for the prophets. 
Any one of them who stayed for more than three 
days in a congregation was to be regarded as a false 
prophet. Once a week, presumably on Sundays, each 
Christian congregation met together for an agapé, or 
love-feast, whereat the prophet broke bread, using a 
single loaf, and distributing it in token of the spiritual 
union of the believers. This fractio panis (klasis artow 
in Greek), or breaking of the bread, was the most solemn 
episode in a solemn repast of love and charity, when 
the rich entertained the poor, and all alike were equal. 
With the bread was drunk a common cup of wine or 

~The Christians in Jude#a may very well have 
imitated these solemn repasts from the Essenes and 
Therapeute. Outside Palestine the Thiasoi, or trade 
guilds (analogous to the castes of India, except that 
they were not so rigidly hereditary), supplied another 
model; for their members also met, at stated intervals, 
at a solemn repast, where all were brethren, and all 
gave homage to a patron saint or god. 

The greatest moral and religious teachers are, after 
all, sons of their age, especially in intellectual matters ; 
and we must not blame them if a certain tenacity in 
superstition accompanies their enthusiasm and moral 
fervour. So it was with Paul. With all his burning 
zeal for righteousness and brotherly love, overleaping 
narrow distinctions of Jew and barbarian, bondsman 

and free, he was singularly trammelled with the old 
: T 


magical ideas of vicarious sacrifice, of mystical com- 
munion with God or gods, reached through participa- 
tion in the victim’s flesh. Perhaps the idea that 
Christ’s death was an atoning offering for human sin 
arose first in his mind, and suggested the revelation 
about the Eucharist. He would have all believers 
present or offer their bodies as a living sacrifice holy 
and acceptable to God, by way of rendering to him a 
reasonable or spiritual worship (Romans xii.1). Christ 
had achieved so much, and more too, for he had 
actually been sacrificed as a sort of new passover 
victim (1 Cor. v. 7). It may be that this idea was 
suggested to him by the knowledge that the Syrian 
soldiery who crucified Jesus had invested his death 
with all the pomp and ceremonial of a human sacrifice. 
In any case, he, and no one else, seems to have started 
the idea that Christ’s death was a genuine atoning 
sacrifice, in accordance with the old belief that “ all 
things are cleansed with blood, and apart from the shed- 
ding of blood there is no remission.” The Epistle to 
the Hebrews, from which the above words are cited, 
though not Pauline, exactly expresses Paul’s idea when, 
in ch. ix. 11, 12, it declares that Christ ‘‘ had entered 
into the holy place once for all and obtained eternal 
redemption, not through the blood of goats and calves, 
but through his own blood.” The Jews, as the legend 
of the sacrifice of Isaac proves, had once held that 
Jahveh must have human blood; and the idea was, 
in Paul’s day, still widespread among Syrians and 
Semites that human blood, especially the blood of a 
first-born son, is irresistible to the divine palate. 
Paul would have been nearly as much shocked to 
witness a human sacrifice as ourselves; and yet the 
idea which underlies such sacrifices was at the back 


of his head. The catholic Epistles are also pervaded 
with it, and as a good example we may cite 1 Johni.7: 
“We have fellowship one with another, and the blood of 
Jesus cleanseth us from all sin.” 

What more natural than the transition from this 
idea to another that invariably accompanied it in the 
sacrificial scheme of Jews and pagans—this, namely, 
that the believers, who derive spiritual profit from the 
bloodshed, must also eat the victim slain for them, 
and so achieve spiritual union with the god in the 
most real and effective way? This extension of the 
idea came to Paul as one of his revelations direct from 
Christ. Of the real body and blood there was, of 
course, nothing left, and even Paul would have shrunk 
from the later Roman definitions. But Jesus might 
have indicated to his apostles in the last supper that 
the cup and bread he then blessed and broke to them 
symbolised his blood and body, soon to be broken on 
the cross. The ancient mind did not distinguish, as 
we do, between symbol and thing symbolised; nor 
does the savage of to-day, in whose quasi-magical 
rites the image or surrogate or substitute takes the 
place of the archetype in such a way that whatever » 
happens to that happens also to this. The circumstance 
that at this last meal Jesus ate common food with 
his followers in itself constituted an almost physical 
tie between him and them, as it does among Arabs of 
to-day. By way of clinching the idea, Paul imagined 
Christ to have used the words “This is my body, which 
is for you,” and “This cup is the new covenant in [or 
through] my blood.” By such means Paul assimilated 
the institution of the breaking of the bread as nearly 
as he could to the sacrificial meals of Jews and pagans. 
He lays special stress on the cup, which images the 


blood: it is the very covenant which binds Jesus and 
his followers into the one spiritual living body of the 
Church. He laid this extra stress on the cup, as 
Wellhausen remarks, because the blood was a better 
cement than the bread, and because, in popular 
belief, it was the life. In drinking the substitute the 
faithful, by all the rules of modern and ancient magic, 
drank the blood itself, and, in drinking it, imbibed 
the very life and spirit of Christ. ‘‘ Ye were all made,” 
he writes in the context (1 Cor. xii. 13), “‘to drink of 
one spirit.” 

If the Christians were to make headway against the 
pagans, they were bound to have a sacramental meal 
of their own, which they could pit against the agapés, 
or sacred meals, which accompanied every sacrifice. 
There must be a table of the Lord, to compete with 
the tables of devils; for the converted pagan did not 
lose, merely because he was converted, his funda- 
mental religious needs and instincts. It was to satisfy 
these in the least objectionable manner that Paul had 
his revelation of what Jesus did and said in that last 
supper. His plan succeeded, and for centuries the 
Eucharist was the Christian sacrifice par excellence, 
and gathered round itself ever more and more the old 
sacerdotalism and the sacrificial customs, rites, and 
notions of Jew and Pagan alike. 

The Pauline tradition thus originated has in Mark’s 
Gospel been plastered, so to speak, on top of an older 
narrative of the last supper, according to which Jesus 
merely used the occasion to record for a last time his 
earnest faith in the immediate approach of the kingdom 
of God. Probably this addition to the tradition in 
Mark was the work of a reviser ; but it may have stood 
in the first draft of the Greek text, for Mark was at 


one time under Pauline influence, and must have met 
with it wherever he went outside Palestine. In any 
case, Matthew found, in his copy of Mark, the amplified 
text as we have it. Not so, it would seem, Luke, in 
whose text the Pauline addition is added in Paul’s 
own words, and is clearly a mere interpolation from 
his Epistle to the Corinthians. If the words ‘‘ This 
is my body,” etc., and the idea they convey, were 
merely Pauline, and no part of the earliest evangelical 
tradition, we can also understand why the Fourth 
Gospel ignores them, and why, in the earliest 
eucharistic ritual we possess—viz., the T'eaching of the 
Apostles—there is no trace of them. 

Paul’s language in speaking of the Kucharist was 
that commonly used by the pagans of their sacrifices. 
The Eucharist, or the agapé of which it was an episode, 
is the table of the Lord, in contrast with the table of 
demons. Among the papyri dug up on the site of the 
ancient city of Oxyrhynchus by Drs. Grenfell and Hunt 
is one (Pap. Ox., 1. 110) of the second century, which 
runs as follows: ‘‘ Chaeremon invites thee to dine at 
the table (or divan) of the Lord Serapis in the Serapeum 
to-morrow, the 15th, at nine o’clock.” Aristides, a 
Greek writer of the second century, further illustrates 
Paul’s language when he remarks that men enjoy a 
real communion with Serapis in his sacrifices, in that 
they invite him to the altar, and appoint him to enter- 
tain and feast them. An old Greek inscription of Kos, 
describing the rituel of sacrifices to Herakles, speaks 
of the table of the god. Porphyry aids us to under- 
stand Paul’s phrase, ‘‘ communion with devils,” when, 
in a passage I have already noted, he describes the 
demons as coming up and sitting close to our bodies 
when we eat flesh. ‘‘ Most of all,” he adds, ‘‘ they 


delight in blood and in impure meats, and enjoy these 
by entering into those who use them.” The meats 
in question had, of course, been previously consecrated 
or offered to the demons. Similarly, according to 
Paul, who here, of course, reflects the ordinary stand- 
point of his fellow Christians, the believer takes into 
himself in the communion the Lord Jesus Christ 
himself. The idea of a divine body being broken or 
torn to bits and eaten by the votaries meets us in the 
Orphic cult of Dionysus-Zagreus, who, according to 
the myth, was thus treated by the Titans. In this cult 
a victim representing the god was torn to pieces and 
eaten by the faithful. The myth here doubtless grew 
out of a primitive communion rite. In the Thracian 
cult of Dionysos or Bacchus the votaries ate the divine 
animal, and by doing so became Gods, Bacchi, them- 


Tue story of the trial of Jesus before Pilate, of his 
condemnation and crucifixion, is, in main outlines, 
historical ; but even here we can detect many touches 
added either in fulfilment of supposed prophecy or 
out of antagonism to the Jews. Luke in particular 
refashions the tradition so as to make of it a continuous 
polemic against the Jews. The guilt of the murder of 
Jesus had to be lifted off the Gentiles, in the person of 
Pilate, and loaded upon them. From Mark, through 
Matthew, Luke, the Fourth Gospel, into that called 
of Peter, we detect a veritable crescendo of animus 
against this unhappy race, of whom probably not one 
in a thousand ever heard of the crime until fifty years 
after it was committed; while the slender minority 
which actually witnessed it needed to be stirred up by 
the priests before they could approve of it. Set the 
pope and his cardinals in place of the Jewish priests, 
and in place of the Passover multitude met at Jerusalem 
a populace debauched by superstitious teaching, and 
we obtain in any one of the countless tragedies of the 
Roman Inquisition a parallel to that which fills the 
last chapters of the Gospels. Why any one of those 
victims of orthodox cruelty should be less worthy than 
Jesus to be venerated as a saviour and redeemer of 
our race I cannot understand. 

As an example of how, under the persuasion of 


280 THE END 

passion, a real tradition can, little by little, be lost 
sight of, effaced and replaced by one that is false, let 
us examine the conduct of Pilate as represented in 
these different sources. In them we get all the stages 
of a myth in the very making. 

According, then, to Mark, the Jewish chief priests, 
and the elders who composed the Sanhedrim, bound 
Jesus and brought him before Pilate, who ‘‘ asked 
him, Art thou the King of the Jews?” Jesus merely 
assented, and lapsed into silence, utterly refusing to 
answer the many accusations levelled against him by 
the priests. Pilate ‘‘ perceived that for envy the chief 
priests had delivered him up, [and] asked, Why, what 
evil hath he done?” The multitude, “‘ stirred up by 
the priests, cried out exceedingly, Crucify him. And 
Pilate, wishing to content the multitude....... delivered 
Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.” 
Pilate’s soldiers then led Jesus away, and put him to 
death, it would seem, as a human sacrifice, with all 
the frippery and pomp with which a a king of the 
Saturnalia was slain. 

It need hardly be observed that, if Pilate was really 
convinced of Jesus’s innocence, he could have released 
him at once. But Jesus’s admission before him that 
he was King of the Jews or Messiah, in a period when 
the Roman Government was perpetually menaced by 
such pretenders, left no alternative but to condemn 
him. How could Pilate know that the Messiah before 
him was not one of the ordinary physical-force kind, 
or that he would not, under pressure of his followers, 
shortly develop into such? In any case, if he was 
the unscrupulous and cruel Governor that Philo, his 
contemporary, represents him to have been, then the 
life of a Jewish enthusiast was of little account to him. 

THE END 281 

- He would have thought much more of the death of 
his wife’s pet sparrow than of a Jewish Messiah. 
The whitewashing of Pilate, then, has already begun 
in Mark. In Matthew it makes a stride forward, for 
we hear that “when Pilate saw that he prevailed 
nothing, but rather that a tumult was arising, he took 
water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, 
I am wmnocent of the blood of this righteous man. And 
all the people answered and said, His blood be on us, 
and on our children.” 

The symbolism of washing the hands clean of guilt 
is wholly Jewish, and the words used by Pilate are 
taken from the Greek version of 2 Samuel iii. 28, 
where David exclaims, “‘ Z am innocent of the blood of 
Abennér.”” Thus Pilate is made to think, act, and 
speak, not as a Roman procurator would do, but as an 
ancient Jew might have done. The people equally 
answer in words taken from the Greek version of the 
Old Testament and from the same context. This 
evangelist, then, would have us believe that Pilate was 
wholly guiltless. In the cry of the populace we over- 
hear the steadily growing irritation of the Christians 
of a later age against the Jews, who remained cold to 
their visions and predictions of the end of the world, 
and indifferent to the claims of their Messiah. If 
Pilate really ‘‘ washed his hands in innocency”’ at one 
moment, and in the next ‘“‘scowrged and delivered Jesus 
to be crucified’? (Matthew xxvii. 26), he but made him- 
self chief actor in an absurd and wicked comedy, 
This, nevertheless, is what Matthew relates. 

Luke handles the tradition of Mark independently 
of Matthew, and amplifies it, perhaps from a lost 
written source which he had in common with the 
apocryphal Gospel of Peter. Where Mark merely 

282, THE END 

records Pilate’s surprise at Jesus’s silence in face of 
the priestly slanders, Luke asserts that “‘he said to the 
chief priests and the multitudes, I find nothing of guilt 
in this man.” Pilate then takes Jesus to Herod, the 
ruler of Galilee, who, having. heard much of Jesus, 
“‘ hopes to see him work some sign’’—a queer ambition 
on the part of the murderer of John the Baptist. 
Jesus answers nothing, as before; and Pilate forthwith 
convokes the chief priests and magistrates and people, 
and assures them afresh that neither he nor Herod 
can find Jesus guilty of any crime that merits death. 
He “‘ will [therefore] chastise and release him.” Luke, 
in accordance with his literary habit of repeating 
thrice any salient utterance, makes Pilate protest 
twice more his assurance of Jesus’s innocence. Vain 
words! For, in spite of all his protestations, the 
procurator hands Jesus over to the Jews, that they 
may wreak their will upon him. In the immediate 
sequel, Luke is careful to omit the episode of Pilate’s 
soldiery crowning Jesus with thorns, of their smiting 
him and spitting on him, though it stood in Mark, 
his source. For he wishes his readers to believe that 
the Jews themselves, and not a Gentile soldiery, 
carried out the execution. Nor can he admit that 
both the malefactors crucified with Jesus died reviling 
him, though Mark and Matthew expressly affirm that 
they did so. Accordingly, one of them repents and prays 
Jesus to remember him whenever he shall attain unto 
his kingdom. Jesus answers: ‘‘ Verily, I tell you, 
this day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” For sucha 
rewriting of his source few will blame Luke; none the 
less, it is not history, though it is good dramatic 

The fourth evangelist walks in the steps of Luke. 

THE END 283 

Far from keeping silence before Pilate, Jesus explains 
to him the character of his sovereignty. ‘ My 
kingdom is not of this world,” he tells him, in flat 
contradiction of the real expectations of Jesus and his 
apostles. Inasecond conversation, at which the Jews 
assist, Pilate asks: ‘‘ Whence art thow 2” And, when 
Jesus answers nothing, adds: ‘‘ Knowest thou not that I 
have power to crucify thee, and have power to release 
thee?” Jesus answers: ‘‘ Thow hadst not any power 
over me, were rt not given thee from above. Wherefore 
he who has betrayed me to thee hath greater sin.” Pilate 
forthwith sought ‘‘ to release him: but the Jews cried 
out, saying, If thow release this man, thou art not 
Cesar’s friend: everyone that maketh himself a king 
opposeth Cesar.” To this sort of argument Pilate 
yields after a struggle, and delivers Jesus to them to 
be crucified, as in Luke. The drift of the entire 
narrative is to exonerate Pilate by demonstrating that 
he was overawed at the prospect of an informer 
accusing him to the emperor whom he served. 

Of the so-called Gospel of Peter, written about a.p. 
150, we have but the last portion, which begins 
towards the end of the trial of Jesus. But what 
remains of it is enough to show that in it the process 
of exonerating Pilate was carried even further than in 
the canonical Gospels, for it begins thus: ‘‘ But of the 
Jews not one washed his hands, neither Herod nor 
any one of his judges. And as they would not wash them- 
selves, Pilate stood up. And then Herod the. king bade 
the Lord to be brought along, and said to them: 
Whatsoever I have ordered you to do, that do unto 

The author of this Gospel, therefore, saddles the 
guilt of handing over Jesus to his enemies, not upon 

284 THE END 

Pilate, but on the half-Jewish Herod. The exculpa- 
tion of Pilate is complete. Herod and the Jews are 
alone responsible. 

The feelings of awe and horror which thrilled the 
mind of the early Christians as they brooded over the 
death of their Saviour are stamped on their tradition 
of the last moments. ‘‘ When it was the sixth hour,” 
write the evangelists, “‘ there was darkness upon the 
whole earth, until the ninth hour’’—that is to say, from 
noon until three in the afternoon. And Luke adds 
the words: ‘“‘because the sun was eclipsed.” The 
Greek word he uses is the technical term for an 
eclipse due to the interposition of the moon, and it is 
difficult to suppose that so cultivated a writer in that 
age was ignorant of this explanation of an eclipse, or 
that he used the term merely in the sense that the 
sun failed to shine, as it may do when obscured by a 
cloud. Yet, if we are to interpret the phrase in the 
usual sense, we must accuse Luke either of great 
ignorance or of great carelessness, for Jesus was 
crucified at the Jewish passover, and this was held at 
full moon. The synoptic evangelists do not minimise 
the miracle, but declare that it extended all over the 
earth, so that it was not confined to Judea alone. 
The fourth evangelist omits it, for he regarded Christ’s 
crucifixion as a final glorification, over which nature 
had no reason to be sad. How long after the death 
could such a story arise? On first consideration, one 
is inclined to postulate a long period ; and yet in less 
than fourteen years a similar myth had grown up in 
connection with the death of Julius Cesar. For that 
is just the number of years which had elapsed when 
Virgil, in his Georgics (i. 463), records it among other 
wonders :— 

THE END 285 

Solem quis dicere falsum 
Audeat? Ile etiam cmcos instare tumultus 
Sepe monet, fraudem que et operta tumescere bella. 
Ile etiam exstincto miseratus Cesare Romam, 
Cum caput obscura nitidum ferrugine texit, 
Impiaque sternam timuerunt secula noctem. 
*“Who will venture to call the sun a false prophet ? 
It is he that often warns us that blind tumults are at 
hand, and that treachery and hidden wars are brewing. 
He, also, when Cesar was slain, felt pity for Rome, 
since he veiled his shining head with murky rust, and 
the impious age feared an everlasting night.’ So 
the author of the Consolatio ad Liviam (in Baehrens, 
Poete Minores, i., p. 104-121) assures us (verses 405—- 
408) that on the death of Drusus ‘‘ the stars fled 
from heaven; that Lucifer, the morning star, quitted 
his ordinary path, and failed to rise all over the globe.” 
Sidera quinetiam celo fugisse feruntur, 
Lucifer et Solitas destituisse vias : 
Lucifer in toto nulli comparuit orbe. 
Around the death of Augustus a similar legend 
gathered. Itwas inevitable that such a story should soon 
be related of the death of the Messiah by the Christians. 
Another miracle occurred, according to Mark, at 
the moment when Jesus gave up the ghost: ‘And the 
veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom.” 
This much suffices for Mark, but Matthew accumulates 
wonders, as we remarked above (p. 79), and adds 
that ‘‘ the earth trembled, the stones were rwen asunder,” 
and many saints rose bodily “‘out of their tombs after 
his resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared unto 
many.” The latter part of the legend is found still 
further adorned in an old source, the Dialogue of 
Timothy and Aquila,’ as follows :— 

1 In the Anecdota Oxoniensia, 1898, p. 101. 

286 THE END 

The mountains were shaken, and the rocks riven 
asunder, and the tombs were opened, and many bodies 
of those that slept rose up and entered the holy city, 
and appeared to many. And they asked them that 
were so risen, Art thou not so and so? Quoth he, 
Art thou not, then, he that died so many years ago? 
And the other said, Iam. And others in turn asked 
others of the risen other questions, and heard the 
same. So he said again to them, But how were ye 
raised from the dead ? 

And in the sequel the risen relate how Jesus went 
down to Hades, and broke open the gates of Hell in 
spite of their bolts, and how he bound Hades or death, 
but ransomed the dead and raised them up to life with 
himself. A clause to the effect that Jesus ‘‘ descended 
into hell’’ found its way into the earliest creed, and 
whole epics were composed on the theme of Christ’s 
invasion and plundering of Hell. Similar legends 
were current long before among the Greeks of Orpheus 
and Pythagoras. In the Catacombs Christ is often 
depicted as Orpheus, and we may safely attribute 
to the influence of the old Orphic hymns and 
mysteries this class of Christian myth. 

The idea of the dead being called up from their 
tombs was a familiar one in antiquity. The witch of 
old was able, as we read in the story of Jason and 
Medea, to ‘‘ move the woods and bid the hills tremble, 
and the ground to groan, and the dead to issue from 
their sepulchres.”’ 

Ht silvas moveo, jubeoque tremiscere montes, 
Et mugire, solum manesque exire sepulchris, 
—Ovin, Metamorph., vii., 205-6, 

Of all this complex of myth there is, then, but one 
element which is not so banal as not to need much 

THE END 287 

explanation. Why should the veil of the temple be 
rent asunder? The following is probably the explana- 
tion of this curious addition. It was Paul’s idea that 
the death of Christ in a mystical manner brought 
mankind into the presence of the God Jahveh; and, 
as the latter was believed to be a real presence within 
the holy of holies, which was separated by a curtain 
or veil from the rest of the sanctuary of the Jewish 
temple, the unknown author of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews, ch. vi., 19, 20, speaks of Jesus as “‘ having 
become a high-priest for ever after the order of 
Melchisedek,” and as having, after the manner of the 
high-priest, who was privileged to enter the holy of 
holies once a year, “‘ entered as a forerunner for us into 
the place which is within the veil.” Here, then, we 
have the symbolism which underlies the mythical 
narrative of the Gospel. Figuratively, the veil was 
rent at the moment of his death, and Jesus, as the 
representative of a new humanity, and superseding 
the Jewish high-priest, passed within. Hvangelic 
tradition has changed the allegory into an historical 
event and incident of the crucifixion. In ch. x., 19, 
20, of the same Episile, the flesh of Jesus is described 
as a vetl through which, as by a new and ling way, 
the brethren have courage to enter into the holy place. 
This metaphor, equally with the other, may have 
served to generate the legend in question. 

Let us pass on to the story of the resurrection. In 
this also we are able to catch the various phases and 
stages of a myth constantly in process of growth 
and amplification. The earliest and only strictly 
historical stage is to be found in a passage of Paul’s 
first Epistle to the Corinthians, xv. 5-8, cited above 
(p. 17). Asa stone flung into a pond generates ever- 

288 THE END 

widening circles of disturbance, so the first appearance 
of Jesus to Peter, or Cephas, was succeeded first by 
one to the twelve, and then by one to as many as five 
hundred brethren at once. Having become so widely 
diffused, the belief had gained such prestige and 
authority as to impose itself even on recalcitrant 
minds; and there followed an appearance to James, 
Jesus’s brother, who, in Mark’s Gospel, is represented 
as incredulous of his teaching and hostile to his 
messianic claims. Jesus next appears to all the 
apostles, and the series is complete when the 
persecutor Paul, smitten with remorse and impressed 
by the patience with which his victims suffer, himself 
beholds the risen Messiah. In such experiences c’est 
le premier pas qui cotte. In the earliest form of 
gospel tradition Peter is the leader and spokesman of 
Jesus’s followers; if he was once convinced that 
Jesus had been raised from the dead and had 
appeared to him, he was sure to suggestionise the 
rest of the twelve companions into seeing visions like 
his own ; they in turn would be capable of suggestion- 
ising the much larger number specified by Paul, of 
whom many were yet alive when the letter to the 
Corinthians was written. In the history of religious 
enthusiasm we find nothing so contagious as visions. 
Let a number of persons be confined in a room, and 
by means of fervent prayer and singing of hymns 
brought to a sufficiently high pitch of nervous tension ; 
then let one in higher ecstasy than the rest cry out 
that he sees a dead saint, a Christ, or a Madonna, and 
the entire assembly will, in a few moments, share the 
illusion. It is impossible to collate or compare such 
visions with one another, so as to determine whether 
or no they agree. Hach enthusiast will, of course, 

THE END 289 

behold the lost saint or teacher in the guise in which 
he best knew and loved him. In Paul’s Epistles we 
have vivid glimpses of early Christian gatherings, 
where all would be talking with tongues at once, 
swept off their feet by common ecstasy. In the 
Shepherd of Hermas we have similar pictures. 
Actual persecution, or the fear of it, helped to keep 
these early believers in a fever of religious excitement. 
Is it surprising that the apparitions multiplied so 
rapidly as before long to overtake James the in- 
eredulous and Paul the persecutor? How significant 
is the statement in Acts xiii. 31 that Jesus ‘‘ was seen 
for many days, but only by them that came up with him 
from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses unto 
the people.” In other words, he was seen by those 
whom his personality had most deeply impressed. 
On the experience of Cephas, then, the entire history 
of the resurrection hinges. Was his a supernormal 
vision of the dead, or just one of those apparitions, 
hardly less vivid and intense than waking reality, to 
which even normally constituted subjects, much more 
men of ardent and impetuous natures, such as was 
his, are so liable when death has suddenly robbed 
them of a friend and loved teacher or leader on whom 
they have leaned and fixed their hopes? 

Those who approach the question with open and 
critical mind will, I think, adopt the latter view, 
especially when they bear in mind that, in the age 
and generation to which Peter and Paul belonged, 
there was a general inability to distinguish between 
subjective and objective experiences, between dreams 
and waking reality. It was an age in which few 
except the aristocrats of intelligence regarded their 

dreams as do educated people of to-day—+.c., as 
/ U 

290 THE END 

private phantasms referable to trivial disturbances of 
the digestion and nervous system. The ancient 
Jows, like all primitive races, esteemed their dreams 
to be revelations of another world. And not the Jews 
alone. Rich men among the Greeks and Romans 
kept interpreters of their dreams, just as rich men 
to-day keep their private chaplains or confessors. 
The story of King Pharaoh and his interpreter of 
dreams in the tale of Joseph will occur to everyone ; 
and, according to the meaning put upon their dreams 
by these interpreters, who were not consciously 
charlatans, the great ones of the earth directed their 
conduct and formed their plans for the future. 
The Sacred Discourses or Hieroit Logoi of the Greek 
Rhetor Aristides, a friend of the Emperor Marcus 
Aurelius, bring home to us the importance anciently 
attached to dreams and visions. Here we have a 
journal intime, as it were, in which the writer 
recorded day by day his dreams and apparitions all 
through a long and painful illness. He even became 
the despair of his physicians, because he insisted 
on taking the odd remedies enjoined in their many 
epiphanies by gods and goddesses and heroes, such 
as Adsculapius, Apollo, and Athéné. He relates 
his interviews and conversations with these sacred 
personages, just as the ecstatic girl of Lourdes 
related hers with the Virgin Mary. We have not 
only the letters of Paul, but the authentic acts of 
St. Perpetua, and of a score of other early martyrs, to 
convince us that the Christians in no wise differed 
from their pagan contemporaries in the reality and 
importance they attributed to omens, dreams, visions, 
voices from heaven, and what not. The dreams and 
visions of children were held especially sacred, as we 

THE END 291 

know from the works of Cyprian, who died a.p. 258. 
The custom of incubation—that is, of sleeping in 
temples (e.g., of Aisculapius), in order that the god 
may visit the sleeper in his dreams—was continued 
in Christianity, and in some Eastern Churches (e.g., 
in the Georgian) still survives, or, at least, survived 
till yesterday. A lower or middle-class Italian seldom 
dreams a dream without at once consulting one of the 
many dream-books, and buying a lottery ticket of the 
number which corresponds to the objects he dreamed 
about. Many factors contributed powerfully in Peter’s 
case to establish such a psychological attitude towards 
the dead Jesus as must generate apparitions, and the 
assurance that he was not dead, but alive in heaven. 
He was the earliest of the disciples to leave all and 
follow Jesus. He had discerned in him the hope of 
Israel—the man sent from God to restore the glorious 
kingdom of David. That hope had been rudely 
dashed. He had seen his master betrayed and 
arrested; and, when he was himself taxed with being 
a Galilean and a follower of Jesus, his courage had 
failed him, and he had with emphasis denied all 
knowledge of him. Then he had fled back to Galilee, 
probably without waiting even to see how the trial 
before the Roman procurator would end, and certainly 
before the death agony on the cross supervened. In 
the solitudes of the lake of Gennesaret, where he had 
resumed his vocation as a fisherman, keen remorse 
must have assailed him for his desertion of his leader. 
The influence of his leader’s personality must quickly 
have reasserted itself over him in a region full of 
personal souvenirs, and in which he had originally 
fallen under its spell. In such conditions Peter could 
not admit that his hopes and expectations had been 

292 THE END 

in vain, and they revived. In the present day we see 
even men of science duped by the legerdemain of such 
charlatans as Eusapia Palladino, Home, and Madame 
Blavatsky. Some day or other the entire vulgar 
mechanism of trickery is exposed; yet the once con- 
vinced, the true believers, will seldom own to them- 
selves or others that they were duped. Rather than 
do so, they will frame the most roundabout hypotheses, 
to save themselves from an admission so humiliating. 
I do not suggest that Jesus was a charlatan, or Peter 
a goose; nevertheless, the same law held good in his 
case, for man is ever the same. Accordingly, when 
Jesus appeared in visions to Peter, as to a man of 
such a temperament he could not fail to do, the old 
messianic hope, the old confidence in the kingdom of 
God about to be set up afresh, revived in his breast. 
Thus the true resurrection was that which ensued in 
the hearts of Peter and his companions. They saw 
Jesus still alive, surrounded with glory in heaven, 
and knew instantly that the joyous consummation 
was only delayed a little until the Messiah, like 
Daniel’s Son of Man, should come back in glory on 
the clouds of heaven. The admission made by Luke 
in Acts, that Jesus appeared to none but the faithful, 
establishes the subjective character of the apparitions. 
The terms, moreover, used in describing the risen 
Jesus belong to the stock phraseology of apparitions. 
Thus in Acts i. 8 the Greek word optané is used, a 
technical term for seeing a ghost; and the noun 
optasia, formed from this verb, is used in Acts xxvi. 19 
to describe Paul’s vision on the way to Damascus. 
This vision was, in Paul’s mind, co-ordinate 
with, and of the same real quality and import- 
ance as, the visions vouchsafed to Peter, to the 

THE END 293 

apostles, to the five hundred, and to James, the 
Lord’s brother. 

Starting from Paul’s statement, the only one at all 
near in point of time to the events themselves, let us 
try to understand the legend of the resurrection and 
of the empty tomb, as it insinuated itself, with ever 
fresh growths of legendary detail, into evangelical 
tradition. In Mark we have the tale in its earliest 
and simplest form. He merely relates that Jesus was 
buried on Friday afternoon, in a tomb hewn out of 
rock, against the door of which a stone was rolled ; 
that certain women, who had followed him from 
Galilee, visited the tomb early on the Sunday morning, 
bringing spices in order to anoint the body; that they 
found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. 
Such is the theme, which in the other evangelists 
receives ever fresh accretions of miraculous detail. 

From Paul himself we merely learn that Christ, 
having died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 
was buried, and raised | or resuscitated] on the third day, 
equally according to the Scriptures. 

The scripture which dictated a resurrection on the 
third day was probably Hosea vi. 1, 2: ‘‘ Come, and let 
us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will 
healus ; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After 
two days will he revive us: on the third day he will 
raise us up, and we shall live before him.” 

The true explanation of this passage is, of course, 
to be sought in the immediate circumstances and con- 
ditions under which Hosea penned them, for they 
limited his outlook and determined his ideas. The 
messianic exegetes of the early Church rummaged the 
Old Testament for passages which even remotely 
seemed to echo events in a future Messiah’s career. 

294 THE END 

These they took out of their context, misunderstood 
and even garbled, in order to fit them out as prophecies 
of Christ. Not seldom the passages thus mangled 
and misinterpreted generated new details in the evan- 
gelical tradition, as we have noticed above, p. 81. 

Now, Paul does not say that Jesus was raised in 
the flesh, and his maxim that corruption cannot 
inherit incorruption precludes such an idea. He 
probably believed that Jesus was equipped at the 
resurrection with an ethereal or, to use the jargon of 
modern spiritualists, with an astral body; with the 
uncorrupted body which Adam wore before the fall; 
with a tunic of incorruption, left behind him in heaven 
when, descending to earth, he put on sinful flesh, and 
was found in semblance and form as a man. 

Exactly how, when, and where arose the Marcan 
tradition that Jesus’s dead body was resuscitated we 
do not know. But there were many influences at 
work in the lands that were the cradle of Christianity 
to suggest it. Josephus (Antiq., xviii. 1, 8) attests 
that the Pharisees believed that the souls of the just 
have power to revive and live again, and (B. J., iii. 
8, 5) that in the revolution of ages they are sent afresh 
into pure bodies. We are therefore not surprised that 
Herod Agrippa, as we read in Mark vi. 14, supposed, 
when he first heard the fame of Jesus, that he was 
John the Baptist raised from the dead, while his 
entourage declared him to be Elijah similarly resus- 
citated. It was believed all over the Kast a little later 
on that the slain Nero was still alive and soon to re- 
turn. Whenever the promised Messiah should appear, 
the dead, it was believed, would also arise out of their 
tombs. It was an age, moreover, in which the dead 
still had to be carefully tended, housed, and regularly 

THE END 295 

furnished with food and drink. Adjoining Syria and 
Palestine, and through seaborne commerce in daily 
contact with Rome and Antioch, lay Egypt, where 
from time immemorial the bodies of the dead had 
been mummified, to keep them from corruption, in 
view of a bodily resurrection; and Egypt was full of 
Greeks and Jews, who had in such matters learned to 
feel and believe as the ancient Egyptians felt and 
believed. The Christian belief in a resurrection of 
the flesh is an ancient Egyptian belief, inherited 
through various channels. In this connection we 
may refer to the picture of the resurrection of the 
righteous found in the book of Enoch. It is sum- 
marised by Dr. Charles, in his Critical History of the 
Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in 
Christianity (p. 188), as follows :— 

The righteous...... rise with their bodies; they eat 
of the tree of life, and thereby enjoy patriarchal lives, 
in the messianic kingdom on a purified earth, with 
Jerusalem as its centre. All the Gentiles become 
righteous, and worship God. In this messianic 
kingdom, in which there is, however, no Messiah, but 
the immediate presence of God with men, the felicity 
of the blessed is of a very sensuous character. The 
powers of nature are increased indefinitely. Thus 
the righteous will beget 1,000 children; of all the 
seed that is sown, each measure will bear 10,000 grains ; 
and each vine will have 10;000 branches, and each 
branch 10,000 twigs, and each twig 10,000 clusters, 
and each cluster 10,000 grapes, and each grape twenty- 
five measures of wine. 

“The allowance is liberal,’’ comments Dr. Charles, 
who adds as follows :— 

We must not, however, neglect the ethical side of 

296 THE END 

this felicity. Thus “light and joy and peace and 
wisdom” will be bestowed upon them; and “they 
will all live, and never again sin either through heed- 
lessness or through pride”; and “their lives will 
grow old in peace, and the years of their joy will be 
many in happiness, and the peace of their age all the 
days of their life.” 

Such, or nearly such, was the vision of the impend- 
ing kingdom of God which floated before the fancy 
of Jesus at the last supper, when he promised his 
disciples that he would not again drink with them of 
the fruit of the vine until he should drink it with 
them newly made in the kingdom of God. 

The legend, however, that it was on the third day or 
after three days that Jesus was raised from the dead, was 
not generated by prophecy alone; for it was a popular 
belief that the spirit or soul of a man remains by his 
corpse for a period of three days—a belief glanced at 
in the legend of the raising of Lazarus. ‘‘ Lord, by 
this time he stinketh : for he hath been dead four days,” 
says Martha, his sister, to Jesus, as soon as the latter 
orders the stone to be lifted off the tomb. We see 
that the task of restoring life to the dead was accounted 
hopeless after the lapse of three days, because by that 
time corruption had begun its work. Thus Psalm 
xvi. 10 was generally accepted as a prophecy of the 
resurrection: ‘‘ Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades, 
nor allow thy holy one to see corruption”’; but for this 
to be applicable to Jesus it was essential that he should 
rise again not later than the third day. 

Who buried Jesus? Paul,in his Epistle, 1Cor. xv. 4, 
merely says that he was buried. In a speech, how- 
ever, which either Luke (Acts xiii. 27-81) or Paul’s 
travelling companion sets in his mouth at Antioch of 

THE END 297 

Pisidia, it is declared that “‘they that dwell in Jerusalem 
and their rulers, who, though they found no cause of 
death, yet asked of Pilate that he should be slain, when 
they had fulfilled all things that were written of him, 
took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.” 
It was, then, the unbelieving Jews who buried Jesus, 
according to this form of the story; and it may well 
be Paul’s own, since in the context we meet with the 
thoroughly Pauline thought that the text of Psalm ii. 7, 
“Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee,” is 
a prophecy, not of the descent of the Spirit and 
affiliation of Jesus at baptism (see above, p. 172), but of 
the resurrection, when the Father by the power of 
the Spirit raised him from the dead, and constituted 
him Messiah and Son of God. But in his Gospel 
Luke has followed Mark in a wholly different story, 
according to which Joseph of Arimathea boldly went 
in unto Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate 
was surprised that death should have supervened so 
soon; but, having through a centurion assured himself 
of the fact, gave the body up to Joseph. The latter 
wrapped it in a linen cloth bought for the purpose, 
laid it in a tomb hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone 
against the door. 

The Abbé Loisy suggests that Jesus was more 
probably thrown into the common pit reserved for 
crucified malefactors, and that the episode of his 
burial by Joseph was invented by his followers at a 
later day to save him from the reproach of a dis- 
honourable interment. The words ascribed in Acts 
xiii. 29 to Paul certainly favour the Abbé’s view, 
and Joseph, if he was a councilior of honourable estate— 
that is, a member of the Sanhedrin—may possibly be 
identifiable with them that dwell in Jerusalem and their 

298 THE END 

rulers. Luke, however (xxiii. 50), is careful to assure 
us that as a good man and righteous he had not 
consented to the: plan and deed of his fellow coun- 
cillors; and Mark, in adding that he was expecting the 
kingdom of God, hints plainly that he was favourable 
to Jesus. The Pauline speech, however, cited from 
Acts expressly identifies those who clamoured for the 
death of the innocent Messiah with those who took 
him down from the cross and buried him. Here, 
then, we have an echo of an earlier tradition, which, 
since it absolutely contradicts the miraculous story of 
the empty tomb accepted by the Church, is surely 
older than it and more genuine. 

The tale which follows in Mark was designed to 
confute the incredulous Jews who denied that Jesus 
rose from the dead. Mark knows of no one who saw 
him actually emerge from the tomb; but the same 
women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother (in some 
old texts daughter) of James, who had, together with 
Salome, watched Joseph and seen where he laid Jesus, 
are paraded in the immediate sequel both as witnesses 
of the empty tomb and as recipients of the message 
of a young man, clad in a white robe, sitting to the 
right hand of it. He addresses them thus: ‘‘ Be not 
surprised ; ye seek Jesus the Nazarene, the Crucified. 
He is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. 
But go ye and say to the other disciples and to Peter 
that he goeth before you into Galilee. There shall ye 
see him, as he told you.” 

The story-teller, however, has to invent some 
reason why the women should have been present at 
the tomb just in time to find it empty. What could 
bring them there? They went, we are told, with 
spices in order to anoint the corpse. Matthew, on the 

THE END 299 

contrary, attributes their visit to the mere desire to see 
the tomb or the body. If the fourth Gospel (xix. 89) 
is to be credited, Nicodemus and Joseph together had 
already bound up the body on Friday evening in linen 
swathes, using 100 litres of myrrh and aloes to anoint 
the same. It is difficult to understand why the 
women needed to anoint afresh on Sunday morning 
a corpse already anointed on Friday in so regal a 
manner. A hundred litres was nearly equal to a 
modern hundredweight, a litre being equal to twelve 
ounces ! 

Mark’s story is full of improbability and self- 
contradiction. If Joseph rolled against the door of 
the tomb a stone so large that the three women 
together despaired of moving it, and that, according 
to an ancient reading in Luke, it took twenty men 
together to roll along, he must have done so with a 
view to the definite and lasting interment of Jesus. 
When the women reach the tomb on Sunday morning 
they exclaim, ‘‘ Who will roll away for us the stone 
from the door of the tomb?”’ And yet they had seen 
Joseph (unaided, so it would seem) deposit the stone 
there on Friday afternoon. Why, then, did they not 
bring men with them to open the tomb? Why not 
have informed Joseph, as they watched him bury 
Jesus, that they intended to come back later on and 
anoint the corpse? And why wait so long to anoint 
him? Itis not usual, especially in the Hast, where 
decay is so rapid, to wait so long. ven if they had 
to wait until the Sabbath was over—that is, until 
sunset on Saturday—to buy their spices, why delay 
another twelve hours before going to the tomb? 
Evidently the story of the anointing is a clumsy 
device on the part of the evangelist to get them there 

800 THE END 

at dawn on Sunday, and not before. And why on 

Sunday? The tradition which fixed for the rising of 

the Christ from the dead the moment of sunrise on 

the day of the sun must surely have been generated 

by the same symbolism which dictated to Luke or 

his source the hymn of Zacharias, which speaks of 
uieene the tender mercy of our God, 

Whereby the dayspring from on high shall visit us, 
To shine upon them that sit in darkness and in. the shadow of death. 

The resurrection of Jesus was, as we have seen, the 
birth of Christ, according to the old belief underlying 
the passage (Acts xiii. 83) already cited. If Christ 
so risen was the daystar, when else could he appro- 
priately be born except at the moment of dawn on the 
Sunday? Guided by the same symbolism, the Church 
of Rome at a later day deliberately fixed the feast of 
his physical birthon December 25th, the Mithraic Feast 
of the birth of the unconquered sun, dies natalis invicti 
solis, as the old pagan calendars term it. The large 
body of oriental Christians known as Manicheans 
actually saw in the sun the outward and visible 
symbol of Christ, and gave corresponding homage to 
the heavenly body. Augustine of Hippo tells a story 
of a dispute between an orthodox lady and a Mani- 
chean. While it was raging a ray of sunlight 
penetrated the shutter of their window, and glinted 
across the floor of the room in which they sat. The 
orthodox lady instantly jumped up, and, dancing over 
it, cried, ‘‘ Behold, I stamp upon your God.” 

But let us return to Mark’s tale. In it the youth 
in white is the conventional angel. Matthew, 
however, knew of a slightly variant text which made 
of him Christ himself. Of this more anon. In spite 
of this figure’s exhortation to the women not to be 


THE END 301 

astonished, “‘they went out and fled from the tomb,’ 
beside themselves with fear and trembling, and, so the 
story ends, ‘‘ said nothing to anyone, because they were 
afraid.’ The message then seems not to have been 
delivered after all to Peter and the apostles. Nor is 
it evident how it could be, since they had fled away to 
Galilee two days before—for that they so fled is a 
legitimate inference from the words set in the mouth 
of Jesus in Mark xiv. 27. The last supper was ended, 
and, having sung a ‘‘ hymn, they went forth into the 
Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, Ye shall all 
be scandalised, for it is written: I will smite the shep- 
herd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after I have 
been raised, I will go before you into Galilee.” 

The word proaxzé, rendered I will go before, means 
not that Jesus started before the disciples, but only 
that he got there first. The words were perhaps 
ascribed to Jesus aprés coup, after the event; whether 
they were or not, nothing short of the actual flight 
explains their presence in the tradition. 

Such was the story as Mark found it to tell. It was 
designed, firstly, to refute the Jews who denied that 
Jesus had risen at all from the dead; secondly, to 
establish that he had risen in the flesh—an idea which, 
as we have pointed out, was foreign to Paul, but not 
to the beliefs and outlook of that age. And, thirdly, 
in the absence of the apostles, this tale provides 
witnesses to the empty tomb in the persons of the 
women, who, having followed Jesus all the way from 
Galilee, might be deemed to be trustworthy. 

Let us compare with Mark the story of Matthew, 
and see how quickly a legend of this kind was 
amplified and embellished, in answer to objections 
supposed to be raised by Jewish opponents. 

302 THE END 

Matthew, then, drops out Mark’s statement that 
Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin, 
because he wishes us to suppose that that Jewish 
council had been unanimous in demanding the death 
of Jesus; and he ignores Pilate’s sending of a cen- 
turion to see if Jesus were really dead, for he contem- 
plates an ampler mission of Roman soldiers to the 
tomb. He is careful to tell us that Joseph chose a 
clean linen cloth to wrap the body in, and that the 
tomb in which he laid it was his own new tomb. So 
Luke here adds the touch that never yet had man lain 
in the tomb chosen by Joseph. Such elements in 
the narrative have no chance to be historical, but are 
due to the same symbolising fancy which leads Mark 
and Luke to note that in his messianic entry into 
Jerusalem Jesus, the new Adam of Paul, rode on the 
back of an ass whereon no man ever yet sat. The 
genuine tradition of Jesus having been cast by his 
enemies into the common pit reserved for malefactors 
still survived among the Jews, and the most effective 
way of meeting if was to assert an honourable 
interment in a new tomb. 

In Mark, then, the tradition has merely got as far 
as the story of a tomb which three devout women 
found empty, and of an angel sitting by it, commis- 
sioned to reveal to them that Jesus was risen. The 
growth of the legend could not stop here, and friends 
and foes alike united to extend it. Jewish critics, 
real or imaginary, objected that an empty tomb 
proved little enough, for might not the disciples of 
Jesus have come by night and stolen the body? 
Matthew supposes that the Jews foresaw this con- 
tingency, and so went in a body to Pilate, recalled to 
him Jesus’s prediction that after three days he would 

THE END 803 

rise again, and petitioned him that “‘ the sepulchre be 
made sure until the third day, lest haply his disciples 
come and steal him away, and say unto the people, He 
is risen from the dead.” Pilate accordingly gives them 
a guard, and they seal the stone. In order to anoint 
the body the tomb would have to be opened, but this 
could not be if it was sealed and soldiers set to 
prevent it. Matthew accordingly pretends that the 
women came merely from curiosity to see the sepulchre, 
and ignores the flimsy pretext provided by Mark in 
explanation of their movements—namely, that they 
desired to anoint Jesus; but in Matthew they arrive 
at an impossible hour—namely, “‘late on the sabbath 
day, as it began tc dawn towards the first day of the 
week.’ The writer imagines that the sabbath ended 
at dawn on Sunday morning, so evincing extra- 
ordinary ignorance of Jewish reckoning. 

However, they arrive in time to witness a conven- 
tional earthquake, of the kind defined by Professor 
Sanday to be ‘‘a natural event opportunely timed”’; 
and they see an angel of the Lord descend from 
heaven, roll away the stone, and sit upon it! In his 
description of the angel’s appearance Matthew betters 
Mark: ‘‘ His appearance was as lightning, and his 
raiment white as snow.” The watchers quake, and are 
dead with fear; but to the women the angel addresses 
the same exhortation not to fear, etc., as in Mark. 
Instead, however, of ‘‘ saying nothing to any man” 
because of their panic, as in Mark, the women in 
Matthew “‘ran to bring the disciples word.” According 
to one form of Mark’s tradition, the young man in white 
raiment of Mark was Jesus himself, and Matthew 
tacks this form of the story on to the other, without 
perceiving it to be a mere doublet. For, so he relates, 


804 THE END 

as the women “departed quickly from the tomb with 
fear and great joy, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. 
They came and took hold of his feet and worshipped him. 
Then saith Jesus wnto them, Fear not: go tell my 
brethren to depart into Galilee, and there shall they see 
me.’ Note that the words here assigned to Jesus are 
in Mark assigned to the young man in white. But— 
the Jewish unbeliever may be supposed to have 
objected, when he was told about the guard of Roman 
soldiers and the sealed tomb—why, if they witnessed 
the earthquake and other wonderful circumstances of 
the resurrection, is their testimony not invoked by 
the Christians? Why do the latter rely exclusively 
on a handful of scared and ecstatic women? The 
soldiers were there to see that the disciples did not 
come and steal the body; nevertheless, this calumny 
about the stealing ‘‘ was spread abroad among the Jews 
until this day’’—that is, until the time when this last 
chapter of Matthew was penned. If so, why was the 
evidence of the soldiers themselves never appealed to 
by the faithful in refutation of the calumny? If 
the Christians had their independent testimony to 
the resurrection, why not use it? Here is another 
objection which the incredulous Jews may have raised. 
In order to combat it Matthew invents a fresh episode, 
and adds it to his story. Some of the soldiers, he 
tells us, did return to the city, and told the chief 
priests of all that had happened; and they, having 
conferred with the elders, paid a large sum in hush- 
money to the soldiers, saying, ‘‘ Say ye, His disciples 
came by night, and stole him away while we slept. So 
they took the money, and did as they were taught.” 

This Gospel closes with an apparition of Jesus to the 
eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee, where he 

Po ry ee 

THE END 805 

had arranged to meet them. It is interesting to notice 
how, in relating this episode, Matthew preserves to us 
a memory of the doubts entertained about the resur- 
rection among the apostles themselves: ‘‘ When they 
saw him, they worshipped, but some doubted.” We 
would like to know if they were ever cured of their 
doubts. It may, anyhow, be inferred from this 
passage that the belief in the resurrection did not 
triumph in a day, or even in a week, and that at the 
first there were companions of Jesus who were 
sceptical. Hven among Paul’s congregation at 
Corinth, twenty-five years after the crucifixion, there 
were some who questioned if there be any resurrection 
of the dead. ‘‘ How say some among you that there is 
no resurrection of the dead ?”’ he writes in 1 Corinthians 
xv. 12. But it is not clear whether their doubt 
extended to the resurrection of Christ, although Paul 
contends that logically it must do so. In other early 
documents we hear of similar doubts—e.g., in the Acts 
of Paul and Thekla, where Demas and Hermogenes, 
companions of Paul, assert that men find their true 
resurrection in their children. Hegesippus, an early 
Christian writer of Palestine, recorded that James, 
the ascetic and brother of Jesus, made a vow neither 
to eat nor drink until he had a vision of him risen 
from the dead. Rigorous fasting is a recognised 
means of inducing visions, and, as such, is practised 
among the American Indians and other primitive 
religionists all over the world. 

The tradition which is reported in the last verses 
of Matthew’s Gospel has foreshortened history and 
cramped into one last scene on an unknown hilltop 
in Galilee apparitions which, as we know from Paul, 

were numerous and widely diffused. The same 

306 THE END 

evangelist masses together, in a single sermon on a 
mountain, precepts delivered by Jesus all through his 
ministry. In the last scene Jesus, seen in a vision on 
the same or on some other hilltop, delivers, like the 
second Moses that Matthew conceives him to be, a last 
address to his followers. It is, naturally enough, 
inspired by conceptions of Christ and of his mission 
which the Church only formed long afterwards— 
partly under Pauline influence, partly under the assump- 
tion, which it did not take a long time for his followers 
to make, that he was the Son of Man described 
in Daniel vii. 18. The post-resurrection discourse 
of Jesus, in Matthew xxviii. 18 foll., is as follows: ‘‘ All 
authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on 
earth. Go ye, therefore, and make disciples of all the 
nations in my name [so Eusebius], teaching them to observe 
all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am 
with you always, even unto the consummation of the 
world.”’ So, in the Septuagint version of Daniel, we 
read of the Son of Man “beheld in the night vision” 
that there ‘‘ was given him authority and kingly honour, 
and all the nations of the earth, race by race, and all 
glory worshipping him: and his authority is an agelong 
authority which shall not be taken away.” 

This is not the same Jesus who, in Matthew x. 5-7, 
forbade his disciples to “travel in the path of the 
Gentiles or enter a city of the Samaritans,” but charged 
them rather “to visit the lost sheep of the house of 
Israel, and to go and preach, saying that the kingdom 
of heaven is at hand.’ Nor are the disciples in this 
last scene those who, a generation later, are still 
bitterly opposing Paul’s plan of admitting into the 
kingdom of promise the uncircumcised Gentiles. It 
is the Church herself that here addresses us in the 

THE END 307 

person of the risen Christ. The aims and aspirations 
of Christians towards the close of the first century are 
here attributed to the risen Jesus; and the contrast 
with the real Jesus is yet greater, if we substitute for 
the words in my name, or and they shall believe in me, 
read here by Eusebius and the Syrian Aphraates, the 
later interpolation : ‘‘ baptising them in the name of the 
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” It was, indeed, Jesus 
of Nazareth that died and was buried; but he that 
rose again was the universalist and divine figure of 
orthodox Christology, ordaining sacraments and 
credenda altogether alien to the real man of Nazareth. 

I will not weary my readers with an equally detailed 
examination of the forms which the legend of the 
resurrection assumes in Luke and in the fourth 
Gospel. I have already pointed out (p. 101) that the 
former, in open contradiction of Matthew and Mark, 
makes the city of Jerusalem the scene of the visions 
of the apostles. He takes from Mark nothing but the 
tale of the empty tomb and the women, and that he 
handles in the very free manner in which he always 
treats his source where it is in conflict with later 
developments of tradition. The author of the fourth 
Gospel follows Luke, and, guided by symbolism, or 
anxious to magnify Jesus, amplifies the legend with 
sundry new details and episodes. Nor did the mytho- 
plastic imagination of believers rest content with the 
accounts furnished by the four canonical Gospels. 
Still ranker growths of legend lie before us in the so- 
called Gospel of Peter and in the Acts of Pilate. 

The former of these two documents was probably 
composed between 100 and 130, and is, therefore, 
nearly contemporaneous with the supplementary 
chapter xxi., added by some editor to the fourth 

808 THE END 

Gospel. The author of it, who pretends that he is St. 
Peter, in the same way as the author of the fourth 
Gospel pretends to be an apostle and eye-witness, 
used Matthew and Mark; but it is probable that the 
copy of Mark which was in his hands did not end, 
where ours does, with the words ‘ for they were 
afraid,” but went on to describe the flight of the 
apostles back to Galilee and a vision they there had 
of the risen Jesus. 

The most noticeable extension of the resurrection 
myth made by Peter—as we will term the author of 
this apocryph—is a picture of the actual resurrection 
of Jesus from the tomb. The earlier tradition was 
felt to be faulty and imperfect, in so far as it did not 
narrate the actual exodus of Jesus from his tomb. 
Following, therefore, the clue afforded by Matthew, 
Peter makes the Roman guards witnesses of this event, 
and even associates the elders of the Jews with them, 
as follows :— 

Now, on the night when the Lord’s day was drawing 
on, as the soldiers kept guard by two and two in a 
watch, there was a great voice in heaven, and they 
saw the heavens opened, and two men descend thence 
with much light and approach the tomb. And the 
stone which had been laid at the door rolled away of 
itself and made way in part, and the tomb was opened, 
and both the young men entered it. The soldiers, 
therefore, when they saw it, awakened the centurions 
and the elders (for they were also there keeping 
watch); and as they told the things that they had 
seen, again they see three men coming forth from the 
tomb, two of them supporting the other, and a cross 
following them ; and the head of the two reached to 
heaven, but that of him who was led by them over- 

THE END 809 

passed the heavens. And they heard a voice from the 
heavens, saying, Didst thou preach to them that sleep ? 
And a response was heard from the cross, Yea. 

The risen body is of marvellous dimensions, and 
the tale resembles a legend current among certain 
Christians of Palestine and related by Epiphanius, 
that a figure of the risen Jesus was seen in that land 
so gigantic that when they measured it against a 
neighbouring mountain it overtopped the same. The 
talking cross often reappears in early hagiological 
stories, and it was currently believed in many Eastern 
churches that Jesus took his cross up into heaven with 
him, having first deposited therein his soul, as if for 
safe custody. This last must appear to modern 
Christians an unnecessary precaution; but they forget 
that Justin Martyr, in the first half of the second 
century, believed that when Jesus died the demons 
of the air were on the watch to waylay his spirit or 
soul in its heavenward ascent, and would probably have 
succeeded, had he not prudently entrusted it to the 
hands of God, “‘ crying [as Luke says] with a loud 
voice, Father, unto thy hands I commit my spirit.” 

But although Peter, in the passage above cited, 
excels the New Testament accounts in love of the 
miraculous, he transmits other more sober details 
which have more chance to be historical, since they 
so utterly contradict the later story (preferred by 
Luke and John), that the first appearances of the 
risen Jesus to disciples werein Jerusalem. He attests, 
for example, that Peter, with his fellows, hid them- 
selves when Jesus died, because the Jews were seeking 
for them as malefactors who were minded to burn the 
temple. On the last day of the unleavened bread, the 
feast being at an end, the twelve withdrew to their 

310 THE END 

homes, which were in Galilee, weeping and full of 
sorrow for that which had happened. Simon Peter, 
in particular, and Andrew, his brother, took their nets 
and went to the sea; and there was with them Levi 
or Matthew, the son of Alpheus. 

Here the fragment breaks off, just at the point, 
evidently, where Jesus was about to appear in a vision 
to them. Such a vision is described in the appendix 
to the fourth Gospel, ch. xxi., which begins as follows: 
** After these things Jesus manifested himself again to 
the disciples at the Sea of Galilee. Simon Peter and 
Thomas called Didymus and Nathaniel of Cana in 
Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his 
disciples, were there together, and Simon Peter said to 
them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also come 
with thee. They went out and entered into the boat.” 

There follows in John an apparition of Jesus while 
they are fishing. In the preceding chapter (xx.) of 
this Gospel apparitions in Jerusalem to Mary Mag- 
dalene and to the disciples have been narrated. It 
would seem as if the older tradition of the apostles’ 
flight into Galilee was too persistent to be wholly 
neglected, and as if some early editor of the fourth 
Gospel, by way of completing it, added ch. xxi. It is 
impossible to say whence this editor took his story ; 
the compiler of the Peter Gospel, however, probably 
took his information from a lost conclusion of Mark, 
for the fragment closely follows that evangelist in its 
last paragraphs, as is seen if we juxtapose the two 
texts :— 

Mark xvi, 4-8. PETER GOSPEL, xi. 

And looking up, they see that So they went and found the 
the stone is rolled back: for it | tomb open, and they came near 
was exceeding great. And enter-| and stooped down to look in 
ing into the tomb, they saw a | there; and they see there a young 


young man sitting on the right 
hand, arrayed in a white robe; 
and they were amazed. And he 
said to them, Be not amazed. 
Ye seek Jesus, the Nazarene, who 
has been crucified. He is risen. 
He is not here. Behold the place 
where they laid him. But go, 
tell his disciples and Peter, He 
goeth before you into Galilee: 
there shall ye see him, as he said 
unto you. And they went out, 
and fied from the tomb; for 
trembling and stupor had come 
upon them; and they said no- 
thing to anyone; for they were 

END 311 

man sitting in the midst of the 
tomb, fair and clothed with a 
robe exceeding bright, who said 
to them, Wherefore have ye come ? 
Whom seek ye? Him who was 
crucified ? He is risen and gone. 
But if ye believe not, stoop down 
and look in and see the place 
where he lay, for he is not here; 
for he is risen and gone thither 
whence he was sent. Then the 
women fled, being afraid. 


Now it was the last day of 
unleavened bread, and many 

went out of the city, returning to 
their houses, the feast being at an 
end. And we, the twelve disciples 
of the Lord, wept and were in 
sorrow ; and everyone retired to 
his home, sorrowing for what had 
happened. But I, Simon Peter, 
and Andrew my brother took our 
nets and went to the sea; and 
there was with us Levi, the son 
of Alpheus, whom the Lord.... 

We see how closely pseudo-Peter follows Mark as 
far as the words ‘“‘for they were afraid,” with which 
his text as we have it ends; and this makes it very 
probable that the sequel, ch. xii., is matter derived 
from the same source. The end of Mark may very 
well have been mutilated by someone who disliked its 
subject-matter, and preferred to believe that all the 
apparitions of Jesus took place in the holy city to 
apostles and faithful ones who, being full of faith and 
undismayed by the tragic end of their Messiah, had 
never fled back to Galilee at all. The evangelist 
Luke satisfies the conditions, and it is not impossible 
that, if the Gospel of Mark was really mutilated, as 
most scholars opine that it was, he was the offender ; 
and that all our copies have come down from the 

312 THE END 

single one which he thus mutilated. This supposition 
accords with the animus against Mark which Pro- 
fessor Harnack detects in his writings. 

The account of the resurrection in the Acta Pilati 
deserves more attention than it has received, for it 
adheres closely to the story as we have it in Matthew 
and Mark, altogether discarding the story of the 
apparitions in Jerusalem related in the third and 
fourth Gospels. No more than one apparition is 
attested in Galilee, on the top of a mountain of which 
the name is variously given in the MSS. as Mamilch, 
Mambéch, Malék, Mofék, or Monfé. 

Cuapter XVI. 


Tue church-goer of to-day, whose horizon is limited 
by the Book of Common Prayer, finds it hard to under- 
stand that the Church was not always such as he sees 
it—namely, an organised body of which all members 
hold certain cut-and-dried opinions embodied in written 
creeds ; in which bishops and clergy conduct services 
and administer sacraments according to prescribed 
forms; of which every member is initiated at birth by 
a rite of baptism, and sealed or confirmed, at twelve 
to sixteen years of age, by imposition of the episcopal 

In the first age charity and fervour took the place 
of creeds and organisation. The words, ‘‘ Yea, I come 
quickly. Amen; come, Lord Jesus,” form the closing 
message of the book of Revelation, written about 
A.D. 98, and are the last in the New Testament. 
They express the ethos of the earliest believers. For 
a community intoxicated with such a belief there were 
needed, not bishops and priests, but apostles and 
prophets; and these they had. In the first age we 
barely hear of bishops or overseers, and that only 
in contexts which imply that they were not distin- 
guished from the presbyters or elders in the faith. 
Bishops, or overseers—for such is the meaning of the 
word—were officers appointed to watch over and 
administer the funds contributed by the richer 



converts for the support of widows and orphans, and 
to represent the particular congregation in its relations 
with the outside world. Their prestige waxed as that 
of the primitive prophets and teachers waned; and 
they soon aspired to be guardians of doctrine no less 
than to keep the bag or alms-chest, as Judas Iscariot 
is reputed to have done for the circle of Jesus, so 
becoming the first Christian bishop, though not the 
last of them to betray his master. 

If we examine the oldest ritual texts of the Christians, 
we find that their rite of initiation was made up of 
three chief steps. On the eighth day after birth a 
child was taken to the porch, or narthex, of the church, 
and the priest or elder—in some churches making the 
sign of the cross on its brow, in others not—gave it a 
Christian name—that is, a name not taken from the 
pagan mythology; he also offered up a brief prayer 
that it might be rightly and religiously trained by its 
parents, and be vouchsafed health and strength to 
grow up until it should reach the right and fitting age 
to receive baptism and gain admission into the Church. 
This rite, which among Gentile converts replaced 
Jewish circumcision, and which corresponds to the 
old custom of fating children—i.e., to their dedication 
to the household gods and fairies—is entitled the rite 
of sealing, or of giving to a child aname. ‘Thus con- 
secrated, a child might die with impunity: the malig- 
nant spirits which haunt the aircould not snatch its soul. 

This rite was followed, on the fortieth day, by that 
of churching the child. The stain of birth and par- 
turition was now supposed to have vanished from 
mother and child alike. Consequently, she also was 
now allowed to enter the church, which her presence 
no longer soiled; she carried her baby up to the steps 


of the altar, and the priest, laying his hands on their 
heads, offered up one or two more prayers similar in 
purport to the one already used in the rite of name- 
giving. This rite corresponded to the presentation of 
Jesus in the temple, described in the second chapter 
of Luke; and the prayers recited commemorated that 
incident. | 

Years are now to elapse before the rite of baptism 
proper is undergone. The child is, in a loose sense, 
a catechumen. It will rest with him to choose 
the fitting moment for his full initiation. Probably 
puberty will be reached and left behind long before 
that moment arrives. ‘Tertullian, in his treatise on 
baptism, exhorts the faithful to get over the business 
of marriage and propagation of children before they 
incur the awful responsibilities of baptism. This was 
about a.p. 200. He complains that a custom was 
growing up of admitting girls and boys to baptism, 
merely because they clamoured for it. Those, however, 
who favoured their admission never contemplated the 
baptism of speechless and unconscious babies, for they 
quoted the text (Matthew vii. 7): ‘‘ Ask, and it shall be 
given you ; seek, and ye shall find ; knock, and ct shall be 
opened to you: for everyone that asketh recewveth; and 
he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall 
be opened.” ‘Tertullian replies that people must be of 
an age not merely to ask, but to understand what 
they ask for. He dwells on the pondus sacramenti— 
the weighty character of this sacrament—and asks: 
‘Quid innocens aetas festinat ad remissionem pecca- 
torum ?”—‘* Why should innocent children be in a 
hurry to have their sins remitted?” A century and 
a half later, when Augustine, a boy of fourteen, 
clamoured in illness to be baptised, his very 


conservative mother, Veronica, bade him wait till he 
was older and had acquired a deeper sense of responsi- 
bility. Her counsel prevailed, and he waited until he 
was perhaps married, and anyhow past thirty, for that, 
as the age at which Jesus was baptised, was regarded as 
the most suitable by the old-fashioned pietists of the 
fourth century. Many, however, put baptism off until 
the deathbed, like Augustine’s friend Verecundus, who 
esteemed marriage incompatible with the state of grace. 
But there was held to be a risk in deferring it so late; 
for some who did so were, after all, unable to receive 
it, because their tongues were paralysed and unable to 
make the responses, or their minds wandering and 
unable to grasp the meaning of the words. Gregory 
of Nazianzen and other preachers of that age constantly 
warn their flocks of such dangers, and the former goes 
so far as to recommend baptism for children who have 
reached their third birthday ; for, he says, at that age 
they can speak clearly, so as to make the responses 
and understand what is said. Here we note a change 
of attitude since the age of Tertullian; and a very few 
generations after Gregory infants were regularly bap- 
tised in the Greek Church on the fortieth day. This 
change was, no doubt, due to the solicitations of 
mothers, anxious that their children should, as soon 
as possible, undergo a rite which protected them from 
the demons which specially beset infancy, and from 
the possible prejudice of malign constellations; for 
the power of the stars over an individual ceased 
abruptly at the moment of baptism. 

The rite of baptism proper fell into two halves— 
the washing with water for remission of sins, cor- 
responding to the baptism of John the Baptist, and 
the rite of receiving the holy spirit by imposition of 


hands, to which was added later on anointing with 
holy oil. Jesus himself was supposed in Jordan to 
have received the sevenfold grace of the spirit, and to 
have handed it on, in the form of the Consoling Spirit 
or Paraclete, to his disciples. They, by imposition of 
hands, passed the gift on to the faithful at large. 
Many of the medieval dissenters, known as the Cathari 
or Puritans, retained this second half alone of the 
baptismal rite, and called it consolamentum, or the rite 
of consoling. Except in the case of their leaders or 
bishops, they put it off until the deathbed, so adhering 
to an earlycustom. In the high society of the Middle 
Ages the old rite of adult baptism seems to have lived 
on, only laicised, in the initiatory rite of chivalry. 
For the young squire who aspired to knighthood was 
first stripped and immersed in a bath of purification. 
Emerging therefrom, he was clad in a white tunic, a 
red robe, and a white coif. A rigorous fast of twenty- 
four hours followed, and he passed the night in church, 
praying alone or in company with a priest and his 
sponsors. The next morning he went to confession, 
and then received the sacrament. 

The surviving documents of the third and fourth 
century enable us to picture to ourselves the rite as 
it was in those ages. The candidate waited for the 
season of the Epiphany or Haster feast, the one of 
which commemorated the baptism, the other the death, 
of Jesus. He needed two sponsors to bear witness 
that he was a person of sober and virtuous life, led on 
to enter the Church, not by hope of gain or temporal 
advantages, but by spiritual inward call; not under 
compulsion, but of his own free will. Armed with 
such credentials, he approached the bishop, and 
inscribed his name seven weeks or so before the feast- 


day. He was then handed over to an exorcist, who, 
laying hands on his head, blew in his face, and so 
rid him of evil spirits. Then for weeks he attended 
the lectures of a catechist, who instructed him in the 
monotheistic views of the world and creation, and in 
Christian doctrine and practice. Thus prepared, the 
candidate became a competens, or asker for baptism. 
Hence our word ‘‘ competent,” in the sense of a duly 
qualified person. More than one collection of such 
lectures survives. Throughout the period of preparation 
the catechumen had to give himself up to fasting and 
prayer. On the eve of Easter Sunday, or on the day of 
Epiphany, the candidate was stripped stark naked, and 
led down by the deacon, or if a woman by the deaconess, 
into the font, generally a shallow basin through which 
ran living water. In the Greek and Roman Churches 
he turned first to the west, and thrice solemnly re- 
nounced Satan and his angels and works. Then, turning 
to the east, he thrice vowed to side henceforth with 
Christ. The priest then poured three handfulls of 
water over his head, and perhaps immersed him thrice 
as well. Such triple affusion or immersion was cus- 
tomary in ancient lustrations, as many ancient authors 
testify. Thus Aristotle, in his book On the Heavens, i., 
p- 268, wrote thus: ‘“‘ Having received, as it were, 
from heaven the number three, we use it in the holy 
rites of religion.”” And an old scholiast, Acro, explains 
the phrase “‘ thrice purely,” used by Horace, by saying 
that ‘‘those who would expiate their sins must dip 
themselves thrice.” And an old Greek writer, Eratos- 
thenes (c. 240 B.c.), remarks that “‘ the gods vouchsafe 
moral improvement to those who have thrice wiped 
themselves clean.” It is evident, then, that the Chris- 
tians adopted it from the pagans; but they interpreted 


it symbolically, discerning in it, in the Eastern 
Churches, a commemoration of the three days passed 
by Jesus in the tomb; in the West, an act of homage 
to the triple name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 
in which, except in a few outlying Churches, like the 
early Armenian and Celtic, baptism soon came to be 
administered. The candidate repeated some form of 
creed, dictated to him by the priest, who recited 
appropriate prayers, in which it was particularly 
mentioned that the candidate had come of his own 
free will, and under no compulsion, to baptism. His 
inward call and impulse was an essential condition. 

Confirmation, or reception of the spirit, generally 
followed asa compietion of the baptism with water. The 
bishop and deacon smeared, with consecrated oil, the 
candidate’s organs of sense, as well as certain other 
parts of his person; the bishop’s hand was laid on 
his head, and, in response to proper invocations, the 
holy or pure spirit was supposed to enter into him. 
Meanwhile, he was robed in white, in token that he 
was liberated from Satan, and a crown set on his 
head. This he wore for eight days, when he returned 
to the church, where the priest, with fresh prayers, 
lifted it off. 

The earliest rubrics enjoin the use of live or 
running water in baptism, for the orientals think 
it important that in lustrations the water should 
incessantly run past and off the body, so as to carry 
away the physical contamination of sin. Still and 
stagnant water did not suffice. In the third century 
still water stored in a receptacle was permitted, but 
not until it had been consecrated, the evil spirit being 
expelled and the pure induced by adjurations and 
invocations of the name of Christ or of the Trinity. 


For the pure spirit, like the impure, was conceived of 
as an attenuated form of matter, like vapour or smoke, 
and was held to be dissolved in the water like salt, or, 
as we should say, held in suspension. The oil used 
in confirmation or sealing was, in the same way, a 
solution of holy spirit. The object of anointing the 
organs of sense was probably to block them against 
the evil spirit; hence the use of the word to seal. 
For, in the Hast, a jar of wine is kept good by floating 
a little oil on the top of it,in the neck or narrow 
spout; and this use of oil may have suggested the 
rites of anointing, common to pagan and Christian 
alike. Salt was exorcised in the same way as water 
and oil, and occasionally mixed with the eucharistic 
bread. In ancient sacrifice it was similarly used. 
All these uses were borrowed direct from earlier 

We have dwelt on the tendency shown in the early 
centuries to put off baptism. It was greatly due to 
the belief that mortal sin, committed after baptism, 
could no longer be expiated. Such a sinner put 
himself outside the Church, which could never again 
receive him into its bosom. For him there was no 
second repentance, no hope of salvation: he was 
eternally lost. This Draconian view of baptism 
prevailed already in the first century, and is incul- 
cated in the Epistle to the Hebrews, vi. 4-8 and x. 
26-27, in the former of which passages we read this :— 
‘* For as touching those who have once been illuminated 
(i.e., baptised) and have tasted the heavenly gift, and 
been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted 
the goodness of God’s word and the powers of the age to 
come, but have then fallen away, it is impossible to renew 
them again unto repentance. Like a field which, in 


spite of the copious rains of heaven, brings forth not 
herbs useful for them that tilled it, but only thorns and 
thistles, so these sinners receive no blessing from God, 
but are rejected and nigh unto a curse ; whose end is to 
be burned.’ And in the second passage: ‘‘ For if we 
sin wilfully after we have recewed the knowledge of the 
truth, there is left no sacrifice for sins, but only a certain 
awful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire 
which shall devour the adversaries.” 

Such puritanism was too much for human frailty. 
The baptised, in spite of it, must often have relapsed 
into idolatry, homicide, fornication, and other sins; 
and nearly as often have repented. Something had 
to be done in order to reclaim them and restore them 
to the Church. Rome, as always, made the change— 
in this case most necessary, if the Church was to 
continue to exist. Pope Calixtus, therefore, invented, 
about 218 a.p., a rite of Hxhomologesis—i.e., of out- 
right confession—which is yet to be found in some old 
service-books; e.g., in those of the Armenian Church. 
It was a repetition of the rite of baptism, of which 
all the formalities were repeated except the use of | 
water. But this ‘‘ medicine of repentance,” as the 
rubrics which still exist prescribe, could be used only 
once. If the Christian relapsed a second time, then 
he was really lost. Old-fashioned believers, like 
Tertullian and Hippolytus, railed against this innova- 
tion, which yet later generations found insufficient. 
Re-admission but once was not enough for sinners, 
and it was found necessary to permit it a second and 
third and fourth time; and finally it became the 
existing sacrament of penitence, which is inspired by 
the very convenient and roomy doctrine that, no 
matter how often and how wilfully a man sins, he can 



always, by confession and penance, expiate his guilt 
and be reconciled to the Church. 

Such was baptism in the primitive Church. So far 
as water—and, later on, holy oil—entered into the 
rite, it was analogous to the magical purificatory rites 
of other religions; but, in other respects, it was the 
expression of a lofty ideal, and in profound contrast 
with the later travesty of itself known as child- 
baptism. In the early Church the baptised formed, 
as it were, an aristocracy of picked individuals, who 
had voluntarily renounced the world and, like the 
sages in the Platonic Republic, dedicated themselves 
to the higher life. The professional clergy could not, 
under such conditions, stand out in relief against the 
laity as they did later on. The beginnings of clerical 
orders are obscure; but if would seem as if, at the 
first, priestly ordination, which was by laying on of 
hands, was no other than that rite of sealing with the 
spirit which constitutes the second half of the baptismal 
rite. The idea of one man transmitting to others a 
special spiritual value through his finger-tips laid on 
their heads is common to many primitive religions ; 
and the belief which underlies Christian confirmation 
and ordination meets usin other religions. In the old 
Hebrew religion of sacrifice an animal was devoted by 
the priest laying his hands on its head before its life- 
blood was shed on the altar. More than one idea 
was at work in such imposition of hands. The sins 
of the people might be translated or transferred to 
the victim, which would then, like the scapegoat, be 
turned adrift in the desert, or sold to the nation’s 
enemies. Or, instead of sin, it might be a spirit of 
wisdom or holiness which was so communicated. 
Thus, in Deuteronomy xxxiv. 9, Moses laid his hands 


upon Joshua and imparted to him the spirit of 
wisdom. Such imposition might also serve just to 
identify the parties with one another. In Acts viii. 17 
the apostles Peter and John lay their hands on 
converts, who instantly receive the holy spirit. In 
Acts xix. 6 the same rite induces, together with the 
spirit, speaking with tongues and prophesying. In 
Mithraic bas-reliefs Mithras lays his left hand on 
the head of a human figure representing the sun. 
In savage religions a most dangerous supernatural 
influence, or mana, is turned upon and into one who 
incautiously touches a chieftain charged therewith. 

The holy spirit could also be communicated by 
blowing, and so in John xx. 22 Jesus breathed on the 
disciples and said: ‘‘ Receive ye the holy spirit: whose 
soever sins ye forgive, are forgiven unto them; whose 
soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” In the 
Hermetic papyrus, edited by the late Professor 
Dieterich (Leipzig, 1908—Hine Mithrasliturgie), the 
votary addresses the sun-god thus: ‘‘O Sun, Lord of 
heaven and earth, god of gods, thy breath is power- 
ful, powerful also thy might.” And also thus: ‘‘May 
I be in mind born again, may I be hallowed and the 
holy spirit breathe in me.” 

Similar in origin is the priest’s use of the extended 
hand in blessing a congregation. Examples of such 
a use of the hand meet us again and again in our 
anthropological studies and in folk-lore. The use of 
extended hand and pointed finger to-day in Italy 
to ward off the evil eye—a compendious name for 
all devilish influences—has come down from a remote 
antiquity. In many museums we have preserved 
models of hands with the fingers extended in the 
same way as an orthodox priest to-day extends them. 


These were amulets to keep off demons. Ovid, in 
his Fasti, describes how the ancient head of a house- 
hold scared away the demons of the unburied dead 
from his house by pointing his joined fingers and 
thumb at them, while someone else rattled the brass 
cauldrons. The gesture of the Christian priest has 
the same pedigree. He nominally blesses the con- 
gregation. In reality, he is pointing off the demons, 
as a Neapolitan with his finger or coral hand points 
off the evil eye. 

In ancient Lycia there was a local cult of Aeus 
Sebazios, whom the Jewish colonists of that part of 
Asia Minor identified with the god of Sabaoth on 
account of the similarity of title. This cult spread 
westwards in the Roman epoch, and with it the ritual 
use, perhaps for healing purposes, of votive arms and 
hand. The arm is given from the elbow downwards, 
and the hand and fingers exactly reproduce the gesture 
made by a Greek orthodox priest in the act of blessing. 
It is supposed that it was through Jewish channels 
that this gesture came into the Christian Church. In 
the Middle Ages metal reliquaries, to contain the 
remains of saints, were made exactly on this device; 
and these may have been used to point off or avert 
demonic agencies and influence. The cornelian stone 
in a bishop’s ring had the same meaning, for the 
cornelian stone is a great prophylactic against 
demons. I have traced back this belief among 
Christians as early as about a.p. 480. The ring in 
itself has a magical use of the same kind, and one of 
the three great relics kissed by Christian pilgrims to 
Jerusalem in the fourth century was the ring with 
which King Solomon controlled the demons and 
forced them to help him build his temple. The other 


two relics were the true cross and the column of 
scourging. The latter is now shown in the church 
of St. Pudenziana at Rome. It is made of green 
travertine; but when St. Chrysostom saw it in 
Jerusalem about a.p. 400 it was made of wood. 

One other circumstance is noteworthy in connec- 
tion with the degeneration of the primitive baptism 
into the lifeless and superstitious opus operatuwm 
which, except among the Baptist sects, it is to-day. 
It degenerated exactly as the modern orthodox 
Christology grew up. We have seen how, in the 
synoptic Gospels, the descent of the spirit upon Jesus 
is regarded as the moment of his becoming the 
Messiah and Son of God. Presently the legend of 
the miraculous birth was diffused, and paved the way 
for a new apprehension of divine sonship, according 
to which he was Son of God and Messiah from the 
moment in which the holy spirit impregnated his 
mother. This new point of view, of course, emptied 
the story of his baptism of all sense and meaning; for 
if he was God incarnate from the first moment when 
he was conceived, what was added to him by the 
illumination in Jordan? He did not need it, and it 
merely overloaded him. 

Thus Archelaus, Bishop of Kharkhar, a champion 
of Eastern orthodoxy, about a.p. 800, in an imaginary 
dialogue with Mani, who deified Jesus to the extent of 
denying his humanity altogether, says: ‘‘ Tell me on 
whom it was that the holy Spirit descended as a dove ? 
Who is it, too, that is baptised by John? If he was 
already perfect, if he was already Son of God, if he 
was already the power of God, it was impossible for 
the Spirit to enter him ; as impossible as it would be 


for kingship to enter kingship.” ‘‘ Among men born 
of women,” he continues, “‘ Jesus was as inferior to 
John, who baptised him, as he was superior to him 
in the kingdom of heaven.” 

In other words, Jesus was a mere man born of men 
until the descent of the spirit constituted him the 
Elect Son of God and first-born in the kingdom of 
heaven. The dialogue assumes that he was really the 
son of Joseph, and Mani attributes this view uncon- 
tradicted to his orthodox opponent. ‘‘To me,” says 
Mani, “‘it seems more reverent to suppose that the 
Son of God did not need anything to facilitate his 
advent upon earth; that he could have done without 
the dove and the baptism, without a mother and 
brethren, perhaps even without a father, who, accord- 
ing to you, was Joseph.” 

The new Christology, however, accustomed men to 
regard the working of the spirit, not as an inward 
development of the mind and heart, but as a process 
mechanical and external to the self, like any of the 
natural processes by which the organism is built up 
in the womb. This is what is meant by the Latin 
phrase opus operatum—t.e., a work performed, without 
the conscious co-operation of the individual’s self. 
But if the spirit worked thus in the case of Jesus 
Christ, why not in the case of his followers? Why 
wait until a child could speak, act, and think for 
itself, in order to baptise it? Why not perform the 
rite immediately after birth? Thus the baptism of 
Jesus and the baptism of believers lost their primitive 
meaning pari passu, and together. The former came 
to be regarded as a mere pantomime which signified 
no spiritual advance, growth, or promotion of Jesus. 
The latter became a bit of idle magic, a washing with 


water bewitched and a greasing with oil enchanted. 
No room was left for the idea of a convert self- 
regenerated and renewed through active repentance of 
sin and profession of faith. It is marvellous to hear 
modern divines railing against the Jews for their 
superstitious retention of the rite of circumcision, and, 
at the same time, insisting for new-born babes upona 
rite every whit as superstitious, and even physically 
useless, which circumcision probably is not. 

One other point merits notice. Jesus himself 
insisted, not on baptism, but on faith in the kingdom 
about to be revealed. His immediate followers, 
however, continued the baptism of John, and, accord- 
ing to traditional Jewish custom, insisted upon it as a 
first step in the moral reformation which prepared 
men for the kingdom. Soon it was found that 
impostors and heretics could baptise in the name of 
Jesus, or in that of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 
just as much as the Catholics; in the same way as 
already during Jesus’s lifetime others than his 
followers had been found to exploit his name. But, 
if the sacraments thus carried the Church, instead of 
the Church the sacraments, how were heretics and 
impostors to be kept out of it? The Roman Church 
in the second century, as against the Hastern com- 
munions, made the question doubly acute by deciding 
that the baptism of heretics was valid so long as it 
was administered even with the shorter formula “‘in 
the name of Jesus Christ.” The difficulty was got 
over finally by augmenting the power and authority 
of the bishops, the visible heads of the congregations, 
and by commissioning them to exclude heretics from 
church union even though they were correctly 
baptised. Thus the importance originally attached 


to continuity of baptism came to be attached to 
continuity of bishops; and each orthodox Church 
tried to trace back the succession or diadoché of its 
bishops to an apostle. By way of checking still 
further the infiltration of heretics, the rite of laying 
hands on the baptised, or confirming them with the 
gift of the spirit, was reserved to the bishops alone ; 
and the episcopate itself was at a later time still 
further hedged round by the rule that presbyters 
should not consecrate a bishop, but only fellow-bishops. 

Cuarter XVII. 

Danwiy, in his autobiography, penned no more 
memorable passage than the following : 

I had gradually come by this time—i.z., 1836 to 
1839—to see that the Old Testament was no more to 
be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos. The 
question then continually rose before my mind, and 
would not be banished, Is it credible that, if God were 
now to make a revelation to the Hindoos, he would 
permit it to be connected with the belief in Vishnu, 
Siva, etc., as Christianity is connected with the Old 
Testament? This appeared to me utterly incredible. 

Darwin’s life was given up to more important 
researches; yet, if he had had leisure for incursions 
into the domain of Church history, how pleased he 
would have been to find that, in the opinions he here 
broaches, he had been anticipated in the second 
century by one Marcion, a converted pagan and the 
greatest anti-Semite of antiquity ! 

It is unlikely that the latter. approached the new 
religion by the path of Jewish proselytism. He 
seems, rather, like most of those to whom Paul 
turned in his later missionary work, to have passed 
direct from paganism to Pauline Christianity. 
Marcion went through no intermediate stage of 
initiation in Jewish monotheism, of disciplined respect 

for the Jewish scriptures; no such training obscured 


for him the abrupt contrast between the Sermon on 
the Mount and the dispensation of Jahveh. 

This contrast ‘seemed to him so absolute that he 
denied any affinity of the spirit whom the Jews adored, 
and who inspired their scriptures, with the god who 
appeared on earth in the guise of Jesus. The former 
was a just god, indeed, visiting the sins of the fathers 
on their children; a jealous god, devoid of compassion 
for those who infringed his harsh law and barbaric 
prescriptions. He was also the author of Nature; 
for Nature’s laws, like Jahveh’s, are of iron—pitiless 
against the weak, and often contradictory of them- 
selves. Alike in the history of Jahveh, as it is 
pictured in the Old Testament, and in nature, “‘ red in 
tooth and claw with ravine,’ we have all shades of 
conduct, ranging from bare justice and resentment to 
arbitrary malice, from tenacious obstinacy to crass 
stupidity, but all alike falling short of real goodness.1 

The ancient Stoics, anxious to rehabilitate and 
purify the popular religion, had applied the method 
of allegory to the poems of Homer, which were the old 
Greek Bible. Whatever was offensive, immoral, or 
scandalous in the Court of Olympus was interpreted 
to mean something else than the texts, if literally 
interpreted, conveyed to the reader’s mind. In this 
way the immoralities of the ancient gods were 
explained away, and the pious enabled to preserve 
their respect for texts traditionally holy. The 
Hellenised Jews of Alexandria followed, in respect of 
their own scriptures, the example set them by philo- 
sophers whose wisdom they had assimilated; and in 
the Greek version of the Bible executed in the third 

1 I quote from Harnack’s History of Dogma, bk. i., ch. 5, 


and second centuries before Christ not a few of the 
worst anthropomorphic traits of Jahveh were already 
glosed over and effaced. As early as 150 3.c. an 
Alexandrine Jew, named Aristobulus, issued for 
Gentile reading a commentary on the Pentateuch, in 
which he at once sought to prove that the Greek 
philosophers, Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato, even 
Homer and Hesiod, had plagiarised the best of their 
wisdom from Moses, and also explained away such 
passages as attributed to the Jewish God hands and 
arms, face and feet, and represented him as coming 
down and walking about in the Garden of Eden. 
Philo, a contemporary of Jesus, followed Aristobulus 
in discarding the literal interpretation of Jahveh’s 
record, especially where it conflicted with the higher 
notions of divine agency which Greek philosophers 
had thought out. He even went so far as to condemn 
as mythical sundry of the more disgraceful episodes 
in the history of Jahveh and of his prime favourites, 
the Jewish Patriarchs. In the second and following 
centuries such allegorisation was the recognised 
Christian method of Biblical exegesis; and Clement 
of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Ambrose of Milan, 
and other Fathers of the Church, appropriated in their 
commentaries, without acknowledgment, page after 
page of the Philonean lucubrations. 

Yet, after all, the method was a subterfuge, and in 
reading Philo we are aware of the disquietude of a 
mind which has already transcended, in religious and 
moral development, the standpoint of religious books 
inherited from a relatively barbarous past. Marcion 
was too honest—shall we not say too sensible ?—to 
tolerate such a subterfuge. How, he asked, can the 
God who in Exodus demands eye for eye and tooth for 


tooth be he who, incarnate in Jesus, bids us turn the 
other cheek to the smiter, love our enemies, and 
pray for them that persecute us? How can the God 
who in Deuteronomy addresses his chosen race in the 
words, ‘Thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt 
not borrow,” be he who declared, through Jesus, that 
“ Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of God”; 
he from whom we have the precept: ‘‘T’0 one who 
asks of thee give; and from one who would borrow of 
thee, turn not away”? ? 

Marcion, in a book which, to the eternal scandal of 
the orthodox, he composed and called Antitheses, drew 
out the numerous contrasts and contradictions 
between the gospel of Jesus and the conduct of 
Jahveh, whom he denominated the just God in oppo- 
sition to the good God who inspired Jesus, and whose 
sole attributes are love and mercy. He did not, of 
course, question the literal truth of the early chapters 
of Genesis, in which the creation of man and of the 
world is described; for, like the rest of the early 
Christians, he was not competent to distinguish 
history from fable. To Jahveh, however, as creator, 
he gave the name of Demiurge, and held that he made 
not only man’s body, but, it would seem, his soul as 
well. ‘The one and the other were hopelessly evil, and 
alien to the good God; but the latter’s grace and 
mercy were all the more signally revealed when he 
set himself to rescue from the burdens of the Jewish 
law and the abominations of idolatry a human race in 
whose creation he had taken no part. In his benevolent 
work of salvation the good God ignored, said Marcion, 
the self-righteous Pharisaic Jew who, having kept the 
law, imagined himself to be justified; and addressed 
himself to the sinful Gentiles, who the more readily 


accepted his message because they were humble. He 
came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repent- 

In writing and preaching Marcion was thus at pains 
to take Jesus out of his Hebrew frame, to detach him 
from all Jewish associations, and to represent him as 
having been from the first the universalist teacher 
which, according to Paul, he became when God 
raised him from the dead. To those who objected 
that the twelve apostles kept the law, and represented 
their Master also as having insisted upon its observ- 
ance, Marcion replied that the apostles were back- 
sliders, and had falsified the record. He seems to 
have been acquainted with works of the apostles, 
possibly genuine, which were more uncompromising 
in their Judaism than any of the documents which 
have survived to us. In answer to those who objected 
that Jesus was born of Jewish parentage, and had 
been divinely recognised as the Jewish Messiah when 
John baptised him, Marcion denied all three of these 
facts. Jesus, he taught, was never born, never 
baptised, nor ever became the Jewish Messiah fore- 
told by the Hebrew prophets. The latter, in accord- 
ance with those prophecies, was, he said, yet to appear 
and play a purely Jewish réle. It was necessary for 
Marcion to have a written Gospel for his converts; so 
he took that of Luke, the companion of Paul, but not 
without mutilating it and cutting out the stories of the 
birth and baptism. It was comparatively safe and 
easy for him to eliminate the legends of Christ’s birth 
and childhood; for, as we have said above, these were 
no part of the earliest body of evangelical tradition. 
In trying to suppress, also, the narrative of John’s 
baptism of Jesus, Marcion anticipated the orthodoxy 


of later generations, which found in that narrative 
nothing but an awkward tradition needing to be 
explained away. From the Epistles of Paul, which 
he was the first to collect together in one book, 
Marcion excised many passages which violated his 
ideal of Jesus. At the expense of his theory, how- 
ever, he admitted the fact of the crucifixion, forgetting 
that a divinely appointed being, who had dropped 
straight out of heaven, could hardly undergo cruci- 
fixion in the flesh. His Gnostic contemporaries, who 
denied Jesus to have been born, more consistently 
held that he was never crucified either; but on this 
point the teaching of Paul was for Marcion authorita- 
tive, and he did not see his way to resist it. 

I have dwelt so long on the arguments of Marcion 
because they are curiously apposite in the present day. 
The Manicheans, after the extinction of Marcion’s 
Church, continued to diffuse his Antitheses; and as 
late as the end of the thirteenth century thousands 
of Cathars, as they were called, perished at the stake 
all over Europe for affirming that the Old Testament 
was inspired by an evil Demiurge. The Church 
burned them, but was, nevertheless, so put to shame 
by their arguments as to withdraw the book as much 
as possible from the hands of the laity. The so-called 
reformers of the sixteenth century, having divorced 
themselves from the unity of the Catholic Church, and 
being in quest of some authority upon which to base 
their teaching and discipline, tried to substitute the 
Bible for the Pope; and thousands of misguided 
people still imagine that the ends of piety are served 
by thrusting barbarous translations of the Pentateuch 
into the hands of savages. Educated Anglicans, 
however, are visibly uncomfortable about it, and begin 


to realise that it is hardly appropriate for their white- 
robed choirs of small boys to be chanting daily such 
vindictive imprecations as Psalm 137, to take a single 
example, contains :-— 

O daughter of Babylon, that art to be destroyed; 

Happy shall be he, that rewardeth thee, 

As thou hast served us. 

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy 

little ones 
Against the rock.} 

And what is to be said of such advice as the book of 
the Proverbs of Solomon supplies (ch. xxiv. 17) ?— 

If thy enemy falleth, exult not over him. And when 
he is overthrown, be not puffed up, Lest the Lord see 
it, and it displease him, And he turn away his wrath 
from him. 

What are divines to do? The old methods of 
allegory are discredited and out of date; and modern 
Hebrew scholarship, Assyriological research, and the 
comparative study of religion render it impossible 
any longer to deny that the compilers of the 
Pentateuch borrowed their tales from older pagan 
sources; that before the age of Saul and David the 
narratives of the Old Testament are almost wholly 
legendary ; and, lastly, that the Hebrew religion of 
taboo and sacrifice was in any essential manner 
distinguishable from or superior to similar cults 
among pagans both ancient and modern. 

The Darwinian idea of evolution, so long decried and 
denied, is at the eleventh hour caught at by these 
distressed theologians as supplying a way out of their 
difficulties ; and we hear proclaimed from many a 

1 Verses 8 and 9, according to the Revised Version. 


pulpit a new and strange doctrine—that the Bible is 
the record of a progressive revelation. 

Let us examine this conception. It implies that a 
being, denominated God, omnipotent and morally 
perfect, desiring to reveal his nature to mankind, was 
obliged to do so piecemeal and by slow degrees. Had 
he flashed upon mankind all at once his full-orbed 
perfection, it would merely have dazzled their eyes, 
confounded their faculty of comprehension, and 
contributed nothing to their moral advance. So he 
began with humanity, as parents to-day begin with 
their children, by instructing them in myths and 
legends, and by initiating them in barbarous rites 
and cults, such as animal sacrifice, which hinted at 
and foreshadowed, but did not yet accurately embody, 
the truer sacramental worship of the Catholic Church. 
Nor is the talk of progressive revelation confined to 
one set of religionists ; and just as the Catholic pretends 
that the sacrifice of the Mass is the ultimate stage of 
religious evolution, so the Calvinist considers it to 
consist in a belief in Predestination. As taught by 
the High Church clergy of the Anglican communion, 
this new conception is a quiet way of discarding much 
in the Bible that is notoriously at variance with 
modern ideals of propriety, and of substituting for the 
authority of the scriptures that of a miracle-working 
caste. Often in the pulpit, however, old and pious 
commonplaces about God’s Book continue to be 
repeated which in private conversation are relegated to 
the intellectual lumber-room. The few among the 
clergy who have seriously attempted to think it out 
have begun to discern the logical outcome of their 
new conception, which is this, that, if the cosmogonic 
and theological notions of Genesis and Exodus are to 



be regarded as an early step or stage in a divine but 
progressive revelation, then no less must be admitted 
in respect of the old Assyrian and Egyptian religions, 
the indebtedness to which of the Pentateuch is 
apparent to modern scholars. Nor can the claim to 
be similarly imperfect revelations be denied to the 
religious systems of Persia, India, Greece, and Rome. 
Thus the title of revealed religion must in the end be 
accorded to every cult, however savage, that human 
awe has ever generated; and, instead of there being 
one chosen people, the Jews, to whom the divine 
being vouchsafed a knowledge of himself, there have 
been many. It is idle to pretend that the Pentateuch 
has a moral standard and value which the works of 
Confucius or of the Buddhists have not. If we 
admit lections in church and chapel from the Penta- 
teuch, then why not from other equally worthy sources ? 
I will not deny that much of the Bible is as superior 
in literary and moral respects to the Zend Avesta as 
a play of Shakespeare to an ill-written cookery book ; 
I realise that Christianity triumphed over Mithraism, 
its rival of the second and third centuries, because the 
latter was weighted with too many myths immoral 
and inane. But if the Bible triumphed long ago 
over other sacred literatures just because of its 
intrinsic superiority, is not that fact a good reason 
to-day for cancelling in daily worship all passages 
redolent of the earliest and most barbarous stage of 
progressive revelation? The evil result of singing 
and reading out such literature in church and chapel 
must have impressed every student of the history of 
religion in Europe. For the persecutor has ever 
found in the precepts of Jahveh an armoury of cruel 
texts, justifying by reason of their supposed divine 


authority the worst excesses of religious fanaticism. 
The bibliolatry of the reformed Churches was even less 
humane in its results than the sacerdotalism of Rome. 

It is not clear, then, that the theory of a progressive 
revelation as applied by the clergy is anything more 
than a lame excuse for adhering to old, but false, 
weights and measures. It also rests on a fallacy. 
The full truth, it argues, could not from the first be 
revealed to man, and God was obliged, if we may use 
a phrase from mechanics, carefully to dose his revela- 
tion. But how many crude conceptions, culled either 
from the Old Testament or from the New, especially 
from Paul, and enshrined long ago in catechisms, 
liturgies, and articles of religion, continue to be thrust 
upon children, congregations, and curates under the 
high-sounding title of religious education and divinity ? 
Do we, then, live in the first and barbarous stages of 
human development, that this should be? Where is 
the English bishop who has the courage to urge a 
better way? The one idea of the English higher 
clergy is rather to keep the Church together; and as 
this aim entails much quiet suppression of the truth, 
they sit on their bench in the House of Lords timorous 
and tongue-tied. The crescent moon is no less bright 
than the full orb of fourteen nights; but do the fables of 
the Garden of Eden, of the talking serpent, of the 
vindictive God punishing his own creatures because 
they desire knowledge, of Noah and his Ark, give us 
any light at all? Are they more respectable than the 
myth of Prometheus chained to the rock by Zeus 
because he revealed the use of fire to mankind? And 
yet it is on such fables that the doctrine of human 
redemption, as formulated by Paul and promulgated 
in catechisms, reposes. And howis it possible for any 


educated person of to-day to acquiesce in the hypo- 
thesis of a chosen people, acceptable above all others 
to the creator of heaven and earth? And will not 
anyone who studies candidly the historical books of 
the Old Testament exclaim with Marcion “‘ Like creator, 
like people”? What claim had the Jews to be taken 
at their own estimate? Did the ancient Assyrians 
and Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans, contribute 
less than they to our science and civilisation? And, 
after all, is not the very idea of one people being chosen 
above others, as it is presented in the Old Testament, 
utterly mythological—on a level with the story of the 
patronage of Aeneas and the house of Augustus by 
Venus, or of the Argives by Hera, the spouse of Zeus? 

The adversaries of Marcion complained that by 
separating Jesus from history, by taking his portrait 
out of its Jewish frame, he effaced all his lineaments 
and left but an empty shadow. For nine-tenths of 
early Christian literature consist of a laborious 
demonstration that Jesus was the promised Messiah 
foretold by the Jewish prophets; and Marcion, by 
denying both premise and conclusion, at a single 
stroke made all this literature idle and superfluous. 
But does the modern divine do less when he accepts, 
as he must accept, the results of modern Hebrew 
scholarship? For this interprets the text of Isaiah and 
the rest of the prophets by the circumstances and 
outlook of the ages in which they wrote, and dismisses 
almost contemptuously the old view that they wrote 
with their eyes fixed on events which were only to 
transpire seven or eight hundred years later. If we 
discard the Jewish idea of a Messiah, as belonging to 
a lower and exploded stage of progressive revelation, 
or—what is the same thing—of religious evolution, 


what meaning is left to the terms Christ and 
Christians? Is their retention more than make- 
believe? Our forefathers could honestly call them- 
selves Christians, because they shared with the Jews 
the old conception of Messiahship ; but that concep- 
tion to-day has been consigned to the lumber-room. 
Let us pass on to another aspect of the teaching of 
Marcion. He was not content to deny that Jahveh 
was the good God who reveals himself in Jesus. He 
equally denied the visible, sensible world to be the 
work of this good God. Here again he touched on a 
problem which more and more exercises the mind of 
our own generation, rendering impossible the old 
facile optimism of Catholic Christianity. The question 
forces itself on us: Can we, apart from man and the 
higher animals, especially the mammals, in some of 
which we discern the rudiments of a conscience, detect 
anywhere in nature the workings of a mind actuated 
by love and mercy? Our race has been able to 
establish a foothold on this earth late in its geological 
development. But our tenure is frail and precarious ; 
and our origins were as much the result of accident 
as the emergence of any other form of life. Our 
mother earth in her frequent convulsions has no 
respect for our cities and centres of civilisation; and 
we can easily imagine a cosmic catastrophe, such as a 
sudden increase or decrease in the solar temperature 
or the impact of a foreign body, solid or gaseous, on 
the solar system, which would in a moment carry 
death and desolation all over our globe. How, more- 
over, can we reconcile with the conception of a 
Providence, of a Creator who watches over us as a 
parent over his children, the great volume of human 
suffering and disease? We daily see children born 



maimed, crippled, or tainted with hereditary disease 
and madness. It is poor comfort to read that God isa 
jealous god, who visits the sins of the fathers upon the 
children to the third and fourth generation. It is all 
too true that they are so visited, but the intelligent 
and all-powerful being who should be responsible for 
the infliction of so much suffering upon innocent 
beings, would be wickeder than the wickedest of our 
human criminals—would, indeed, be the evil Demiurge 
that Marcion declared the God of the Jews to be. 

Nor is it on the moral side only that the old mono- 
theism is impossible. What sense can we attach to 
the words in which the Roman Church placed on 
record, in the so-called Apostles’ Creed, its rejection 
of Marcion’s dualism? I mean the words: ‘I believe 
in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and of 
earth.”” The little ones, of course, figure to themselves 
a stupendously exaggerated man taking matter in 
quasi-human hands, and fashioning it into this and 
that. Paul compared the Creator to a potter working 
clay into vessels, and used the simile in order to 
demonstrate what is to our minds a wholly unmoral— 
we would rather say immoral—conception of Deity. 
God, he declares (Romans ix. 18), ‘‘ hath mercy on 
whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth.” The 
obvious answer is that those who are fashioned to 
wickedness by their Creator cannot be blamed, for 
they cannot help being wicked; and this thought 
arose in Paul’s mind, for he continues thus: ‘‘ Thou 
wilt say then unto me, Why doth he still find fault ? 
For who can oppose his will?” Paul answers the 
imaginary objector as follows: ‘‘ Nay, but, O man, 
who art thou that bandiest words with God? Shall the 
thing formed say to hin who formed it, Why didst thou 


make me thus? Or hath not the potter a right over the 
clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel unto 
honour, and another unto dishonour ?” 

This idea of an arch-potter or omnipotent agent 
making the universe will not bear examination. 
Inside the universe of our experience we can with our 
hands, and perhaps using tools as well, divert already- 
existing properties of matter, or contrive new com- 
binations, new actions and reactions, at which 
unassisted nature would never arrive, but which we 
require for our needs. But the matter we thus work 
up into new forms was never formless, and the con- 
templation of our activity does not really assist us to 
explain how the universe arose. We merely pay our- 
selves with words when we talk about the necessity of 
a First Cause. Inside our experience—that is to say, 
inside the world—one object or agent or material 
state causes another; but every such relation of 
causality is between part and part of the universe, 
and not between it and a being that is not the 
universe. I avoid saying a being that is outside the 
universe, for here again we use a category or way of 
looking at the matter under discussion which is 
inadequate. Objects inside our universe or inside 
our experience (which is the same thing) are outside, 
as they are also beside, one another. But outside the 
universe there can be nothing. In other words, space 
and spatial relations are real, and hold good, inside 
the universe or inside experience alone. If we think» 
it out, we shall find that no categories under which 
we can envisage material reality are applicable to the 
universe as a whole, and we fall into contradictions 
So soon as we try to apply them. Thus the world as 
a whole is neither in space nor not in space, neither 


limited nor unlimited, neither caused nor uncaused, 
perhaps neither in time nor not in time. It is as | 
difficult to invent formule that adequately represent 
it as to invent similar ones for the mind. The least 
insufficient way of describing it is to say that it is the 
known or knowable; and John Stuart Mill was not 
far wrong in defining matter to be the permanent 
possibility of sensation. Its esse is percipi ; its reality 
lies in its being perceived. 

To the untutored person this sounds the rankest 
nonsense, and he will ask: ‘‘ What, then, becomes of 
reality when men are asleep or all of them dead?” 
He has never asked himself the question: ‘“‘ What 
becomes of colours or sounds or tastes or smells in 
the absence of a self which sees, hears, tastes, and 
smells?’’ The permanence and continuity which we 
attribute to matter are qualities rather of the knower 
than of the known, of the percipient than of the 
perceived. Nor is the difficulty raised about sleep 
so insoluble as it at first sight seems to be. Our 
individual selves are continuous across intervals of 
sleep, for we wake up the same persons we were 
before, and to the same world. In other words, the 
self or spirit has not slept, but merely not manifested 
itself for a time through sensible agencies or percepts 
to those who kept awake. Death, viewed from a 
psychological standpoint, is the same fact as sleep. 
‘** But,” the champion of common sense will object, 
‘‘ where and how was my world before I was born ?” 
I should reply: ‘‘ Exactly where and as it is when 
you are asleep. As a self and percipient of a real 
world, you neither sleep nor die. On the contrary, 
your judgments have all a universal range; and 
when you say, ‘This earth is round,’ or ‘The three 


angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles,’ 
you do not think it necessary to add, ‘so long as I 
am awake,’ or ‘ since I was born.’” 

The untutored man, who undertakes, like Dr. 
Johnson, to refute Bishop Berkeley with the arms of 
mere common sense, is firmly persuaded that the 
universe persists as a system in space and time and a 
complex of contrasts of colour, sound, and so forth, 
no matter whether he perceives it or not. He is, ina 
sense, right. But he is also clearly wrong, so far as 
he makes abstraction of mind and of the work mind 
has done in construing to him his sensations, in 
selecting them, and arranging them into an order or 
cosmos. Mind, the objectifying or world-making 
faculty of thought, is ever at work in each of us; and 
to it, as the home and centre of all relations and con- 
trasts, belong, if at all, substance and reality, rather 
than to the material objects whose entire nature 
consists of sensible contrasts and relations which are 
before a self, but not of it. In truth, however, mind 
and matter, subject and object, can as little exist apart, 
and have as little meaning in abstraction from each 
other, as concave and convex. They are two aspects of 
the one whole. The unity of the world, its common 
objectivity for you and me, is a mere reflection of the 
ultimate unity amid diversity of our minds; and as in 
the speculative sphere we lay down judgments that 
purport to be universal, so in the moral sphere the 
conscience at each step enacts rules that hold, not for 
him who enacts them alone, but for all; for that is 
what we mean by an action being right and a motive 
good. It is the expression of a common supersensuous 
self, which lies at the root of all civil institutions, and 
enshrines itself in law, written or unwritten. If, 


then, there be a God, our moral judgments, pace 
St. Paul, are as binding on him as on us. If he 
offends our elementary feelings of justice and mercy, 
then he is no God for us, but an evil demon. 

Some metaphysicians have spoken of the universal 
mind which is realising itself in each of us as God. 
But God is usually conceived as a personal being, and 
the universal mind, or objectifying, creative thought, 
which works in us and through us is not a person, as 
each of us is, but something higher and vaster than 
all persons. We can perhaps say that the universe 
consists of a society of spirits, of which some may be 
more developed than others. More than this we 
cannot venture to affirm; and there is anyhow no 
need to suppose that there is one mind immeasurably 
transcending all the rest. The vulgar conception of 
a supreme God and Father is a naive transference to 
the beyond of the patriarchal sovereignty of an earthly 
king. We see the animals below us on various rungs 
of the ladder of mental and moral development, and 
we cannot without presumption suppose ourselves to 
have reached the highest. There is, from this point 
of view, more to be said in favour of polytheism than 
is usually supposed ; and more of ultimate truth may 
underlie the Catholic cult of saints than underlies the 
cold abstractions of Mohammedan theology. The Chris- 
tians themselves soon found it impossible to acquiesce 
in a God who is single and solitary, and invented 
three or four gods. Their only mistake philosophically 
is that they have not myriads. So far as our experi- 
ence goes, spirits do not communicate with one 
another, except through material symbols; but it is 
no necessity of thought that this should be so. The 
association of spirits with material bodies, without 


which they would, so far as we know, co-exist unper- 
ceived one by the other, as might men deaf, dumb, 
and blind, and devoid of a sense even of touch, is 
perhaps a condition “of soul-development; but it is 
also the evident cause of all those physical pains and 
discomforts which militate so profoundly against the 
idea of a monarchical providence, of a creative God 
both omnipotent and merciful. 

We cannot, then, accept to-day the clause of the 
so-called Apostles’ Creed in which the Church of 
Rome, about the middle of the second century, 
embodied its protest against Marcion: “I believe in 
one God the Father, maker of heaven and earth.” The 
visitor to the Vatican, as he traverses the long gallery 
which leads to the library and collection of sculptures, 
sees let into the wall, side by side with hundreds of 
inscriptions, mostly taken from the catacombs, a stone 
slab, on which are figured in deep incision a girl’s 
upraised hands and forearms, from the elbows down- 
wards. These divide into three columns of unequal 
breadth the following pathetic inscription: ‘‘ Procope, 
lebo [read levo] manus contra deum qui me inno- 
centem puellam sustulit que vixit annos xx. pos. 
Proclus.” It is the grave-stone of a maiden who thus 
addresses her betrothed lover: ‘‘O Procopius, I raise 
my hands against God, who has snatched away me, 
an innocent girl. She lived twenty years.” The 
mourning parent Proclus who raised this monument . 
to his child felt with Marcion that the name of 
father ill suits a God who tramples on our affections, 
denies our dearest instincts, and has established in 
nature a kingdom almost wholly devoid of mercy and 


Txose who to-day read the New Testament critically, 
and they are few, are aware of a deep chasm separating 
it, not only from modern ideas and civilisation, but 
even from the Churches around them. Differences 
hardly less profound divide the orthodoxy of the fourth 
century from the messianic Judaism of the first age. 
The question, accordingly, arose before the mind of 
John Henry Newman whether there is not an actual 
discontinuity between the dogmas of Catholicism and 
the faith revealed to the saints; and, in order to 
surmount the difficulty, he invoked the idea of deve- 
lopment. The creeds and decisions of the Councils 
are, he argued, a mere unfolding and rendering 
explicit of the still unprecise and undefined data 
revealed to the apostles, and more or less completely | 
enshrined in the Bible; and, in a work entitled The 
Development of Christian Doctrine, he tried to find in 
the New Testament the germs of later doctrines and 
customs—of the Trinity, the motherhood of God, the 
consubstantiality of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 
of infant baptism, of Purgatory, and so forth. 

Such a task seemed possible to Newman, partly 
because in his day criticism was unborn, partly 
because he could assume, without risk of contradic- 
tion, that the Fourth Gospel was the work of an 
apostle, and a faithful representation of the personality 

and teaching of Jesus; nor, in his day, did anyone, 


in England at least, dream of challenging the Pauline 
conceptions of the Messiah. 

But to-day it is being made every day clearer and 
more certain that the writings of the New Testament 
themselves represent an evolution of ideas, beliefs, and 
traditions which took, in the case of the earliest of the 
documents some thirty, of the latest nearly a hundred, 

During this period a hundred influences were at 
work to mould and amplify the primitive tradition of 
Jesus; and the four Gospels of our New Testament, 
and others of which we have but a few fragments, like 
the Gospel of the Hebrews, of the pseudo-Peter, of the 
Egyptians, were the result of the process. In our 
earliest surviving sources, the Gospel of Mark and the 
non-Marcan document, we can already trace such 
influences; and the former especially is seen on 
examination to be a selection from floating popular 
traditions, made by some credulous person with a bias 
for miracles. In his scholarly work, Les Légendes 
Hagiographiques, Father Hippolyte Delehaye, S.J. 
(Brussels, 1905), has a chapter entitled ‘“‘ The Dossier 
of a Saint,’”’ in which he shows how the brief and true 
account given by Eusebius of a martyr named Pro- 
copius, who suffered under Diocletian, was added to 
and recast by the professional compilers of Acts of 
Saints until it was no longer recognisable. All the 
stages by which the acts of this saint were exaggerated 
and falsified lie before us in the different manuscripts; 
and, if we had not got Eusebius’ succinct and sober 
narrative of his trial and execution, we could hardly 
venture to affirm that Procopius was a historical 
personage at all, and not rather a creation of the 
mythoplastic imagination of hagiographers. The 


paragraph in which Father Delehaye sums up the 
difficulties which beset Bollandist editors anxious to 
winnow out the grain of truth in the Lives of Saints 
from the chaff of legend is so thoroughly applicable to 
students of the life of Jesus that I venture to translate 
it. It is as follows :— 

It is often a very arduous task to establish the title 
of a saint of the early centuries to the honours of 
public cult. Even when historical documents are not 
completely wanting, they have often undergone such 
alterations, through the combined efforts of legend and 
hagiographer, that we cannot make use of them without 
extreme precautions. Nor is our task accomplished 
when, by a rare bit of luck, the cause of the saint 
reposes on a relatively well-furnished dossier ; for it is 
still incumbent on us to know how to class the pieces 
which compose it, to interpret them at their just value, 
to weigh the testimonies, to try to establish the degree 
of credence which each of them merits. Here we 
have a task both lengthy and of infinite delicacy, in 
the discharge of which many a pitfall awaits the 
novice in criticism who is insufficiently familiarised 
with hagiography. 

Neither Jesus nor his disciples came before their 
public with cut-and-dried creeds, in the faithful recep- 
tion of which lay a man’s chance of salvation. One 
all-constraining belief alone possessed them—namely, 
that a mighty upheaval was at hand, that the divine 
father, in his omnipotence, was about to bring this 
age to an end and inaugurate for the Jews a new era 
of salvation. Luke (xix. 11), following a true tradition, 
assures us that, as Jesus with his disciples drew ‘‘nigh to 
Jerusalem,” in order to keep the Passover in the course 
of which he was destined to perish, ‘‘they supposed that 


the Kingdom of God was immediately to appear.” Jesus 
had already, perhaps, gained the conviction that he 
was the Messiah, the man sent from God to inaugu- 
rate the new era, to part the sheep from the goats in 
the final judgment, to choose the elect from among 
the living, and to welcome, as they rose from their 
graves, the saints who slept. As Jesus conceived of 
the new kingdom, it was primarily a deliverance of 
Israel ; yet not all Jews were to participate therein, 
but only those who had harkened to his own and to 
John the Baptist’s summons to repentance. Thus 
although the promises had been made to Jews alone, 
yet the latter really lost their birthright so soon as 
moral qualifications began to be insisted upon by the 
judge. It was in this limitation of the future blessed- 
ness to those who had repented, and so won forgive- 
ness of their sins, that lay the possibility and hope— 
nay, the necessity—of admitting the Gentiles. Their 
interests, however, almost certainly lay beyond Jesus’s 
horizon. He was neither for nor against them, and 
just did not consider them at all. He can only be 
said to have made room for their admission in so far 
as his ideal state was to include those Jews alone who 
listened to his warnings, repented of their sins, and 
made their own in all purity of heart his ideal of a 
heavenly father who is merciful and loving. 

So long as Jesus was alive the hopes of his 
followers must have been focussed on the new era about 
to be miraculously brought into being, rather than 
on him and his personality. He was to preside over 
it, indeed, when it came, to fill the chief throne, round 
which would be grouped the lesser thrones of his 
twelve apostles judging the twelve tribes of Israel ; 
but he was the Messiah in promise only during the 


preliminary stage in which he was proclaiming its 
advent and preparing men morally for its member- 
ship. Some students, like the late Dr. Martineau, 
have argued that Jesus never regarded himself as the 
Messiah nor wished his followers to acknowledge him 
as such; but the evidence to the contrary is over- 
whelming. He was sentenced by Pilate in his quality 
as King of the Jews, or Messiah; and, without the 
prior conviction that he was such, his disciples could 
never have recovered from the shock of his death and 
have transformed their old faith in him into the new 
conviction that the divine father had raised him up 
into heaven, whence he was to come again and 
inaugurate the new kingdom. 

Jesus, as he went up to Jerusalem, may well have 
had misgivings, for he must have been well aware 
that he had to face in Pontius Pilate a notoriously 
stern and merciless administrator, little inclined to be 
just or merciful towards Messiahs and messianic 
movements, but rather discerning in them a danger 
to the Roman Empire. Jesus’s own attitude to the 
Roman authority was purely negative: “‘ Give unto 
Cesar the things which are Cesar’s, and to God the 
things which are God’s.” He was not for taking up 
arms against it, as Judas the Galilean had done. 
There was no need to do so, for would not Jehovah, 
in good time, quietly brush it aside ? ; 

His death took his disciples by surprise, for they 
had not in the least foreseen it, or they could not 
have ‘supposed that the kingdom was immediately to 
appear.” ‘Tradition, it is true, soon ascribed to Jesus 
himself discourses in which his death and resurrection 
after three days were elaborately foretold; but the 
evangelist, even while he reports these conversations, 


hints at the real truth when he adds (Mark ix. 10) 
that ‘they kept the saying to themselves, questioning 
among themselves what the rising again from the dead 
should mean.” It was only when his death overtook 
them, and visions of a Messiah cut off in his prime, 
and forsaken by themselves in the hour of need, began 
to haunt their remorseful imaginations, that they 
discovered his passion and death to be necessary 
moments in the scheme of Israel’s salvation, duly 
foretold by Isaiah and the rest of the prophets. Hven 
at the last supper, as we have seen above (p. 268), 
Jesus did not foresee his death. His visionary expec- 
tations of the‘advent of the kingdom had then reached 
their climax. He had been acclaimed Messiah by 
the multitude as he entered the holy city. Could 
Providence tarry any longer? He certain that 
the glorious consummation was imminent as to assure . 
his disciples that this was the last time he would 
drink with them under the old conditions “‘ of the fruit 
of the vine. I will no more drink” thereof, he says, 
until the day when I drink it new wm the Kingdom of 
God.” He does not know that his death is to intervene 
between then and now. When, therefore, the blow 
fell, it became incumbent on his followers either to 
resign their hope and abandon the movement for 
which they had given up all, or to modify the 
messianic scheme and make room in it for the 
crucifixion and death of their Messiah. They quickly 
took the latter course. New prophecies were invoked, 
of a kind to prove that the disgraceful death on the 
cross, which the unbelieving of their compatriots cast 
in their teeth, was foreordained of God, as a necessary 
episode in the working out of the scheme of Israel’s 
salvation. The Messiah had all along been pre- 


destined to die and be raised from the dead to the 
right hand of the father, thence to return in glory 
and set up on a rejuvenated earth his eternal kingdom. 

The minds of believers were already busy in this 
direction, when the persecutor Paul joined forces 
with them—a host in himself; for he soon discovered 
a new significance in the Christ’s death, that of an 
expiatory and final sacrifice for the sins of mankind. 
Philo had long before taught that the just man is a 
ransom for the many, so that Paul merely made 
application to Jesus of an idea already current. 
Nevertheless, it was a stroke of genius; for it enlisted 
in behalf of the new messianic movement old sacri- 
ficial beliefs common to Jew and Gentile alike, and 
prepared Christians to regard as of providential 
design the subsequent destruction by Titus of the 
Jewish temple, with its pomp of burnt-offerings. 
Henceforth the crucifixion was nothing to be ashamed 
of; Paul openly gloried in it, and the author of the 
Fourth Gospel regarded it as the final glorification of 
Jesus. It is obvious, then, that Jesus himself had no 
idea of founding a new religion, much less of founding, 
like Mahomet, a book religion. He was devoured 
with the expectation of a divine kingdom, which he 
believed was to be miraculously set up on this earth 
before his own and his disciples’ eyes, even within 
the lifetime of the generation that listened to him. 
His one desire was to gain over men’s minds to this 
belief, and persuade them to repent and lead’ a new 
life before it was too late. He did not profess to 
reveal new rules and precepts for men’s guidance in 
this present life, viewed as permanent and assured ; 
for his own conviction, like that of his apostles and 

followers, was that which Paul expresses in the words: 


“‘ But this I say, brethren, the time is shortened...... the 
fashion of this world passeth away” (1 Corinthians 
vii. 29, 31). The end was to come ‘‘like a thief in 
the night,” and the most one could do was “to watch 
and pray.” Marriage, family ties, property, law, police 
—nay, life itseli—were all to be sacrificed and 
abandoned if, and in so far as, they stood in the 
way of the soul’s preparation for the great event 
impending. To his own apostles Jesus said (Matthew 
x. 23): ‘‘ Verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone 
through the cities of Israel before the son of man 

After the death of Jesus his disciples continued to 
proclaim that he must soon and suddenly return on 
clouds of glory from heaven and restore the kingdom 
to Israel. Following in his steps, they insisted on the 
necessity of repentance and moral preparation for the 
new era. This was the wedding-garment without 
which men would be excluded from the marriage- 
feast. But weeks turned into months, months into 
years, years into generations ; yet nothing happened. 
Meanwhile there was born of the waiting the church 
or ecclesia, organised under presbyters or bishops, 
fenced off from the world with catechumenate and 
baptism, fed with eucharist and agapé, endowed 
throughout its members with gifts and graces of the 
holy spirit. 

And it is not perhaps untrue to say that the death 
of Jesus engendered Christology ; for his personality 
occupied a larger space in men’s minds, and had more 
significance attached to it in the scheme of salvation, 
after his death than before it. In his earthly career 
he had been herald rather than agent. He had come 
in weakness and humility, but now was to come in 


glory and power. The legend of his Davidic pedigree 
was now added to the tradition, and also, though 
much later on, that of his miraculous birth. It also 
devolved on the teachers of the Church to demonstrate 
from the Old Testament prophecies that his death 
was part of a pre-arranged scheme, and that he was 
himself a pre-existent heavenly being temporarily 
revealed in our sinful flesh, then withdrawn to heaven, 
thence to re-appear in glory at the consummation or 
end of the age. Paul further discovered him to be 
the heavenly Adam and the Wisdom and Power of 
God — conceptions which figure largely in the 
Sapiential books and in the theosophy of Philo. 
In the so-called Pastoral Epistles he is declared to be 
the mediator between God and man—an idea equally 
found in Philo; and this train of speculation was 
crowned towards the end of the century by the 
declaration that he was the Logos or Word of Ged, 
which, as Philo says, comes down from heaven to 
earth and ascends thither again. Later on the 
thinkers of the Church derived from the same 
Alexandrine source both the name and the idea of 
a divine Trinity, for Philo taught that the divine 
being or nature is a three-in-one and one-in-three, 
and two of the persons with which he fills up his 
formula—namely, the king and father, and the son or 
Logos—are identical with those which Christian 
orthodoxy put forward in this scheme. It is plain 
that the Christians originated few ideas. The dregs 
of old Greek, especially Platonic, philosophy, filtered 
down to them through Philo and other Greek Jews 
of Alexandria; and they dressed up the homely 
Jewish Messiah in one figment after another, and 
finally concocted about him such empty rigmaroles 


of a priori notions as we have in the so-called creed 
of Athanasius. 

We have already considered, in the preceding 
chapter, whether the conception of an omnipotent, 
and at the same time benevolent, God and Creator of 
the universe is either a probable or possible one. Let. 
us now ask ourselves how much of the traditional 
fabric of Christianity is left standing to-day; how 
much of it, if any, an intelligent man can accept. 

Properly speaking, you need to have gone through 
the phase of being a Jew and of believing the Jews 
to be the chosen race before you can embrace the 
messianic hope, and believe that Jesus was the 
embodiment of that hope. Now, why the Jews, rather 
than the Greeks or Romans, should be regarded as the 
one chosen people of a benevolent God, I fail to see. 
As much as anyone, I admit the Olympic grandeur of 
much of their ancient literature; and I recognise that 
their tribal deity, in spite of his bloodthirsty, capricious 
character and unrelenting cruelty to other tribes than 
his favourite Israel, was at least superior to the pagan 
Jupiter or Zeus, in so far as he was not a libidinous 
being, continually indulging in disgraceful liaisons. 
Of him there was no chronique scandaleuse, and even to 
his angels was denied what was the first privilege of 
pagan deities. Nevertheless, the sacrificial cults and 
taboos of the Jews were no better and no worse than 
those of other half-savage religions. 

We may, then, admit the greater austerity of Hebrew 
theology; but what contributions to culture, art, 
poetry, philosophy, history, law, and political science 
had the Jews ever made comparable to those made by 
Greeks and Romans? To the mind of the late Mr. 
Darwin, as we saw—and he was a man who, more 


than most, looked at things as they really are—it was 
an initial and insuperable objection to Christianity 
that it has taken the Jews at their own measure, and 
granted as a postulate that they were, until the Chris- 
tian era, the chosen people of God. The very idea, 
then, of a chosen people belongs to a forgotten mytho- 
logy; and so do other cardinal notions on which 
Christianity reposes, such as the fall of man, original 
sin, and redemption. We are beginning to recognise 
that it is truer to speak of the rise of man than of his 
fall, and of original virtue than of original sin. We 
begin to realise that, if anyone needed redemption, it 
was Jahveh, and not Adam, nor even Satan, if, at 
least, the sole offence of the latter was that he deemed 
it, as Milton says, 
Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven. 

Thus the entire circle of ideas entertained by Christ 
and Paul are alien and strange to us to-day, and have 
lost all actuality and living interest. None, except a 
few ignorant ranters, believe to-day that the kingdom of 
God is imminent, and that any day Christ may appear 
on the clouds of heaven and set up the last assize, after 
which he will drive those who never believed in 
him down into hell, and establish on this earth an 
eternal reign of peace and prosperity for his elect 
ones. Jesus himself is seen to have lived and died for 
an illusion, which Paul and the apostles shared; and 
of this illusion the Church is the offspring, though for 
centuries she has striven to deny her true parentage. 
Jesus never claimed to found a religion, nor was he 
responsible for the emergence of the Church, save by 
accident and indirectly. 

It barely needs to be remarked that the world- 
scheme of Jesus and his followers was other than our 


own, and purely mythological. Who to-day believes 
in a God who has a right and a left hand? Yet our 
clergy profess to believe in so many words that Jesus, 
when he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, 
sat down at the right hand of God. So we read in 
Acts that Stephen, the first martyr, ‘‘ being full of the 
Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw 
the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand 
of God.” And in the appendix of Mark we read that 
‘the Lord Jesus was received up into heaven, and sat 
down at the right hand of God.” 

Heaven, in the imagination of these writers, was an 
Olympus, suspended far above a flat and fixed earth, of 
which the nether parts were sometimes given up to the 
dead, like the classic Tartarus. Paul reckoned that 
there were several heavens, and was himself “‘ caught up 
even to the third”’ of them, ‘‘ whether in the body or out 
of the body’”’ he ‘‘ knew not.” He no doubt, like the 
authors of the Slavonic book of Enoch, of the Testa- 
ments of the Twelve Patriarchs, and of many other 
Jewish apocryphs of that age, shared the old Persian 
belief that there were seven heavens, in the highest 
of which sat the Almighty on a great white throne, 
surrounded by winged cherubim. Luke draws us a 
picture of the Christ’s ascent into heaven in Acts i. 9: 
‘When he had said these things, as they were looking, 
he was taken up ; and a cloud received him out of their 

The Irish mathematician, Sir William Rowan 
Hamilton, once allowed himself to be drawn into the 
speculation of how far out into space Jesus could 
proceed in a certain time if he was rising at the 
moderate rate which the above passage contemplates. 
When his calculations revealed to him that he would 


as yet not have reached the nearest of the fixed stars, 
he began, as a good Christian, to recoil from his 
speculation, and relegated the matter to faith, as a 
mystery beyond the reach of human reason. 

From a religion which claims to be a final revelation 
we surely expect some teaching that we can lay hold 
of about the soul, about spirit, about immortality. 
But its founder had none. He looked forward to a 
miraculous epoch of material prosperity on this earth, 
in a land where the lost sheep of the house of Israel 
were to pasture once more under the immediate pro- 
tection and guidance of Jehovah. This blessed era 
was to dawn at once, and the just among the dead 
were to rise from their graves and participate in the 
flesh with those who should be still alive when it 
opened. The Church has tried, lamely enough, to 
interpret these millennial beliefs of the first age with 
reference to a life which awaits us all beyond the 
grave; but any such idea was foreign to the mind of 
Jesus. He was probably incapable of conceiving of 
a purely spiritual existence in detachment from the 
body; and if he ever asked himself, as he probably 
never did, about the nature of spirit, he must, like 
others of his age, have decided it to be an attenuated 
form of matter, similar to the wind, of which we 
perceive the effects and hear the sound, though in 
itself it remains intangible and invisible. Small 
blame to Jesus, if he was no philosopher. What is 
really amazing at the present day is that bishops and 
deans should be quarrelling over the question whether 
this Galilean prophet was omniscient or not. The 
Bishop of Birmingham, Dr. Gore, has written a learned 
treatise on the point, and gingerly concludes that he 
was not omniscient, because he was not aw cowrant 


with the latest results of higher criticism; but he 
insists that Jesus was anyhow infallible, like a modern 

It only remains to address a warning to those 
who desire to make a speedy end of orthodox Chris- 
tianity, in the belief that, if they could make a tabula 
rasa of the European mind, something much better 
would instantly take its place. I would advise such 
dreamers to enter a museum of anthropology, like the 
Pitt Rivers collection in Oxford, and survey the 
hideous goblins and ghouls still worshipped by savage 
races all over the globe. Let them only visit Perugia, 
and inspect the collection of ancient, medieval, and 
modern Italian fetiches collected there by a Professor 
Giuseppe Bellucci. There is no difference between 
those of the present and those of past ages. Perhaps 
we ought to be grateful to the Catholic Church in Latin 
countries for having established cults so respectable 
as those of the Virgin and the saints; for it is certain 
that, in default of them, the Latin peasant would 
relapse into a fetichism as old as the hills around him. 
You can turn Spanish and Italian peasants into anti- 
clericals, but you seldom turn them into Rationalists. 
They may give up Christianity ; but they only believe 
all the more firmly in the evil eye, and in all the 
debasing practices which attend the belief. In the 
same way the Irish peasant, if you robbed him of his 
Catholicism, would at once lapse into the cult of hob- 
goblins; for this, in spite of the effort made during 
centuries by the Church to eradicate it, lies every- 
where a very little way below the surface, and belongs 
to the inmost convolutions of his brain. 

This is not to say that in our own land, where 
real emancipation is more possible, we ought to 



compromise with falsehood, and go into the Church and 
recite creeds which we no longer believe, merely because 
it is held respectable to do so. Those who cannot 
accept a creed literally do best to avoid it altogether ; 
and I believe that the intellectual atmosphere of 
Oxford and of England at large would to-day be 
clearer and more wholesome, if men like Jowett and 
Stanley had, like Newman, boldly left the Church, 
given up their orders, and followed wherever clear 
thinking might have led them. There could not 
then have been related of Jowett such a bon mot as 
this, that when he publicly recited the creed in 
Balliol College chapel he surreptitiously interpolated 
the words used to before the word believe, and began 
thus: ‘‘I wsed to believe,” ete. 

There is too often a want of candour about the 
discourses and works of our orthodox English clergy 
which leaves on our minds a disagreeable impression. 
They ought to write as scholars and men of learning, 
but their tone is that of apologists. They lack 
thoroughness and sincerity, and are for ever pulling 
up their horses just as they seem about to leap. The 
result is that, instead of clearing their fences, they are 
left floundering in the muddy ditch of deanery and 
prebend. When Anglican bishops meet together in 
council they talk and write as if religious life was 
impossible unless it be based on a quiet, but wholesale, 
suppression of truth. They certainly deserve the 
stinging rebuke which Mommsen inflicted when, in his 
discussion of the census of Quirinius (see p. 191), in 
his work, Res Geste D. Augusti (Berlin, pub. 1883, 
p- 176), he expressed a fear lest his historical 
researches should be exploited, for their own ends, 
by homines theologi vel non theologi sed ad instar 


theologorum, ex vinculis sermocinantes—that is, ‘‘by men 
who are theologians, or who, without being even that, 
yet, after the manner of theologians, chatter from their 
chains.” And the chains are quite imaginary, for 
such a reign of terror as the present reactionary pope 
has created in the Catholic Church is inconceivable in 
the Anglican. I used to know a dog over whose head 
his master needed only to make a few passes, as if he 
were tying him up to a fence, and nothing, not even 
his master’s call, could induce him to move. He 
believed he was tied up, without being so. The 
docility of those who, at ordination, pledge themselves 
to a number of propositions which had a meaning and 
application four hundred years ago, but have lost it 
now, is only to be paralleled by this example of canine 


P. 38.—The task of a purely Jewish Messiah. 

Ir is worth while to compare the histories of later Jewish Messiahs with 
that of Jesus, and to remark how constant and unvarying in character 
continued to be the expectations and aspirations of this downtrodden 
race—the earliest, perhaps, of all races to develop a national self-con- 
sciousness and patriotism. As an example of such invariability, we 
may select the career of one of the latest of the Messiahs, Sabatai Levi, 
who was born a.p. 1625, and, to the utter confusion of his adherents, 
turned Mohammedan in 1666. A good sketch of his career is tobe . 
read in a contemporary work entitled Thédtre de la Turquie, written 
by Michel Felure, and printed in Paris in 1682. Sabatai first estab- 
lished a reputation as a teacher and prophet among the Jews of 
Salonica and Stamboul. Thence he went to Smyrna and Jerusalem. 
While he was in the holy city, a maiden of Galata had a vision of an 
angel clad with light and girt with a flaming sword, who warned her 
that the true Messiah was come, that he would shortly manifest him- 
self on the banks of the Jordan, that all must get ready to receive him, 
and repair to the sacred stream to meet him. The Rabbis credited 
her vision, and numbers of Jews before long forsook house and home 
and chattels, and embarked for the Holy Land, where a German Rabbi 
of Gaza, Nathan Benjamin, had already assumed the réle of precursor 
and prophet of the new Messiah. When Sabatai reached Gaza, 
Nathan at once recognised him and proclaimed him to be the Messiah, 
though he himself for a time protested that he was not. His protests 
only renewed the enthusiasm of his followers, who, seeing in them 
nothing but a proof of his humility, threw themselves at his feet and 
hailed him king of the Jews. Sabatai returned to Smyrna, whither, 
after two or three months, followed him emissaries of Nathan, bearing 
a letter fallen from heaven, in which God himself approved of the new 
Messiah’s claims, and commanded all Israel to welcome him. This 
letter was read in the synagogue of Smyrna, and excited such enthu- 
siasm that Sabatai gave way, and no longer declined the homage of 
his compatriots. henceforth he dressed in robes of silk and gold, 
and carried a sceptre in his hand; his walks abroad became royal 
progresses in which crowds of Jews escorted him, laying down carpets 


on the earth for his feet to tread. In all the Jewries of Turkey his 
miracles were talked of; and the further it was from Smyrna, the 
more marvellous were the tales told of him. The very children fell 
into ecstasies and raved of his prodigies. Some of his followers 
declared that he partook of food but once a week ; others that he had 
never held relations with women, though, as a matter of fact, he had 
been married for years. A single word from his lips availed to open 
a prison gate and set at liberty a Jew confined therein; and one day, 
when he was preaching in the synagogue, a Jewish doctor of healing 
beheld him transfigured and suffused with light. So brilliant was 
the glory that the doctor was struck dumb for a while, and was unable 
to reply to the question addressed him by the Messiah. It concerned the 
interpretation of a passage of the Jewish Scriptures ; and, when the 
doctor explained it of the new Messiah, the latter promised him a post 
of authority so soon as he should take possession of his new kingdom. 

Sabatai next betook himself to Stamboul, in order to proclaim his 
kingdom there. He arrived February 6th, 1666; but the magnificent 
reception designed for him was a failure; for the Turks arrested, 
flogged, and cast him into prison. Brought before the Grand Vizier 
and questioned by him, Sabatai denied afresh that he was the Messiah, 
and alleged that the honour had been thrust upon him. Nevertheless, 
when he was subsequently imprisoned in the castles of the Dardanelles, 
far away from Stamboul, Jews of both sexes and all ages flocked from 
all over Turkey, bringing him gifts of money and eager to do homage 
to him as their king. Michel Felure even gives the text of a letter 
which purported to have been addressed by Sabatai in prison to his 
followers, and which runs thus: “The only and first-born Son of 
God, Sabatai Levi, the Messiah and Saviour of Israel, to the beloved 
people of God, peace! Forasmuch as ye have been made worthy to 
behold the great day looked forward to by Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob, for the salvation and redemption of Israel and the fulfilment 
of the promises which God made to your fathers by the prophets as 
touching his beloved son, let your sadness and bitterness of heart be 
turned into joy, and your fasting into feasting and rejoicings; because 
ye shall no more weep, my dear children of Israel, since God has 
vouchsafed to you consolation unspeakable..... Abate your fears, for 
ye shall have dominion over all nations; and I will set you in posses- 
sion, not only of all that is seen on earth, but of all that the sea 
encloses in her abysses. All is reserved for your consolation.” 

The ministers of synagogues all over Turkey began to insist on fasts 
and public prayers in preparation for the advent of a Messiah thus 
recognised in Stamboul and Smyrna; and Felure asserts that in 
Aleppo, where he was living at the time, the Jews would go three or 

| , 


four days together without food, even babes at the breast being made 
to fast; while the fervour of some reached such a pitch that they cast 
themselves naked into the rivers, though it was midwinter. Felure 
also attests that Sabatai sent briefs of investiture with kingdoms and 
thrones to certain of his followers, assigning in particular the realm 
of Portugal to the Jewish doctor of Smyrna already mentioned. 
But a bitter disillusioning was in store forthe believers. In July, 
1666, the Sultan haled Sabatai before him at Adrianople ; and when 
he denied afresh that he was the Messiah or had ever announced him- 
self as such, he was offered the alternative of death or conversion to 
Islamism. He chose the latter; and Felure testifies to the despair 
with which the apostasy of their Messiah filled the Jews of Turkey. 

The story of Sabatai has much in common with that of Jesus. An 
angel of light predicts the Messiah to a maiden, and that Messiah is 
to appear on the Jordan. The faithful forsake all in order to meet 
him and baptise themselves. He has his precursor and prophet. He 
begins by refusing the honour thrust upon him, but ends by accepting 
it. He is accredited by a message direct from heaven, Crowds 
escort him and strew his path with carpets. He gets credit for 
working miracles, for extraordinary fasting and asceticism. The 
very children in arms acclaim him. Heis transfigured, like Jesus. and 
shines with glory. He promises “thrones” to his disciples in his 
future kingdom. MHe claims to be the Son of God, and addresses 
his followers in terms which at first sight seem to be borrowed from 
the canticles of the first chapter of Luke, but may quite as well be 
imitated from the very source which probably inspired Luke—namely, 
the prayer-book of the old Jewish Synagogue. The more we bear in 
mind the stability of the religious beliefs and conditions of the Hast, 
the less we shall suspect the good Michel Felure of having coloured 
his picture of Sabatai Levi with pigments taken from his own 
Christian paintbox. 

P. 157.—A day of rest for man and beast. 

Let me not, from my use of these words, be supposed to approve of 
that hypocritical invention of Puritan ignorance called “the Sabbath ” 
—a day of enforced misery and tedium for young and old; the only day 
on which the poor haye leisure for recreation, for hearing music, for 
games, for visiting museums and galleries of art, and yet the one day on 
which all thisis made impossible for them. This inhuman confusion of 
Sunday with the Jewish Sabbath is impossible in Mediterranean lands, 
where the name Sabbath survives as the designation of the Saturday. 
In the early Church the Sunday was a day of feasting and recreation, 
not of sour misery and debauchery, as it is in Scotland. The 
Puritan Sunday is responsible for the worst and most degrading 


features of the English public-house and Scotch whisky-hell. Nor are 
the minor taboos of the British Sunday less curious than those of any 
South-Sea Islander. I have known persons who would listen on it to 
the melodies of Moody and Sankey, but not of Schumann or Schubert; 
would knit, but not use a sewing-machine ; would play patience, but 
not whist; draughts, but not dominoes; bagatelle, but not billiards ; 
who would fish, but not shoot; bicycle, but not row; row, but not 
play cricket or football; would devour the unedifying legends of the 
Jewish Patriarchs, but not read the Times or one of Thackeray’s 
novels ; would freely talk scandal, but not join in a political or ethical 

P. 188.—An old Greek manuscript in the Vatican Library. 

Irefer not to any codex of the Gospels, but to a MS. of the 
Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila, edited by myself for the Clarendon 

P. 231.—“ Rufinus” or “ Rufinus,” 

P. 231.—The rays of light from heaven entering Mary’s ears. 

An old Jesuit missionary in Siam, Guy Tachard, in his book Second 
Voyage aw Royaume de Siam, printed in Paris in 1689, repeats, p. 253, 
a similar story about the birth of Buddha from a Buddhist source, as 
follows: ‘‘A young girl had withdrawn into a lonely forest to await 
the advent of God, and there led the most austere of lives, avoiding 
all human intercourse. One day, when she was engaged in prayer, 
she conceived in a most wonderful way, without losing her virginity ; 
for the sun, by the ministry of his rays, formed the body of a child in 
her womb during the fervour of her prayer. Some time afterwards 
she was amazed to find herself big with child; and although she was 
sure of her virtue, yet, being ashamed of her condition, she plunged 
deeper into the forest in order to avoid the eyes of mankind. She 
reached at last a great lake between Siam and Cambodia, where she 
was delivered without pain or travail of the most beautiful babe in the 
world. As she had no milk to suckle it with, she entered the lake to 
lay it on the leaves of a plant which floated on the water’s surface. 
However, nature provided for the safety of the child, who was the 
God, long awaited, of the universe. For his mother having laid him 
on the bud of a flower, the flower spread its petals of itself to receive 
him, and then closed upon him as if to form his cradle.” The text 
proceeds to relate how certain kings, jealous at hearing the common 
folk say that the true King of Kings was born, sought for the child in 
order to slay it; but a good hermit fled with it into the kingdom of 
Cambodia, Even if this legend has been coloured by Christian 
influence, its ready acceptance by the Siamese shows how easily such 


tales of virgin births can grow up, and how engrained they are in the 
human mind. 

P. 238.—Only known to himself. 

So, in Revelation xix. 11, “he that sat on the white horse, called 
Faithful and True,” also had a name written which no one knew except 
himself. The same conceit of a secret name, “ which no one knoweth 
but he that receiveth it,” is met with in ch. ii. 17 of the same book. 
The King of Siam had a proper name of his own which none but the 
highest mandarins might utter, or even know, so sacred and mysterious 
was it. No Hindoo woman to-day will disclose, if asked it, the name 
of her husband. The Valentinian heretics believed that the name 
descended on Jesus in the form of the dove at his baptism. 

P. 239.—His name was used by exorcists otherwise strangers to him. 

Note here the story in Acts xix. 13 of “the strolling Jews, exorcists 
who presumed to name over them which had the evil spirits the name of 
the Lord Jesus, saying, I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.” 
There follows the anecdote of the seven sons of Sceva, a Jew and chief 
priest, who did the same. ‘And the evil spirit answered and said unto 
them, Jesus I know, and Paul I know ; but who are ye? And the man 
in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and mastered both of them, 
and prevailed against them, so that they fied out of that house naked 
and wounded.” 

P. 242.—M. Salomon Reinach. 

Read “‘M. Theodore Reinach.” 

P. 248.—Haxecuted in heaven. 

We should notice in connection with magical knots the story told in 
_ Acts of the prophet Agabus, who “signified by the Spirit ” (ch. xi. 28) 
‘that there should be a great famine over all the world, which came 
to pass in the days of Claudius.” The same prophet, in Acts xxi. 11, 
came down from Judea to Cesarea, and, “taking Paul’s girdle, he 
bound his own feet and hands, and said, Thus saith the Holy Spirit, 
So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle.” 
In the preceding chapter Paul had said to the elders of Miletus; “And 
now, behold, I go bound by the Spirit unto Jerusalem.” 

Tt is difficult not to suppose a connection between the behaviour of 
Agabus, engaged in prophesying by virtue of the spirit within him, 
and “the widely-spread habit of tying up the limbs of a medium,” 
described by Mr. Andrew Lang in his book, The Origins of Religion, 
essay ix. (on “Savage Spiritualism”) and essay x, (on “ Ancient 
Spiritualism ”). He shows from Eusebius’s work on Evangelic Pre- 
paration, v. 9, that the medium of the ancient Greek was swathed or 

Bs othe 


tied up when the “control,” the god or spirit, was to speak through 
him, Presumably Agabus chose Paul’s girdle by way of interesting 
the spirit in its owner. Mr. Lang notes that the Australian Blacks, 
the Eskimo, the Déné Hareskins, the Davenport Brothers, and the 
Neo-Platonists of antiquity have all been equally convinced of the 
need to tie up a medium’s hands and feet when the god is about 
to take possession of him. When Paul declared at Hphesus that he 
was bound by the Spirit, Agabus’s prophecy was not yet delivered. 
Paul, therefore, at that time was only bound in the ordinary way in 
which things and persons bewitched or laid under a spell are said to 
be bound. 

P. 296.—The spirit or soul of remains by his corpse for a period 
of three days. 

This belief is quaintly illustrated in a story told by Damascius 
(about a.p. 450) in his life of Isidore. The Huns, under Attila, fought 
in the Campagna against the armies of Rome. The battle was so 
fierce and prolonged that no combatants were left alive on either side. 
But the fray did not then cease, for the spirits of the slain proceeded 
to fall on one another ; and for three days and nights a ghostly battle 
raged over the waste plain on which their bodies were stretched 
unburied. And there were those, says Damascius, who were witnesses 
of the phantom warfare, and heard the war-cries of the dead as they 
continued, with unabated fury, to rain blows upon one another. 



(A double asterisk signifies that the reference is to the Additional Notes.) 

Abyssinian Christians, their super- 
stition about names, 236 

Adoptionism of Ebionite, of early 
Spanish, Armenian, and other 
Churches, 174, 178 

**Acabus, Christian prophet, why 
bound, 367-68 

Agapeti, technical term for the 
spiritually married, 217 

Allegory used by Stoics in inter- 
preting Homer, 330 

by Aristobulus and Philo in 
interpreting Old Testament, 331 

Altar, its taboo sanctifies gift or 
victim laid on it, 259 

Anahite, her feast became the 
Virgin’s in Armenia, 229 

Anglican clergy, their timidity, 
338, 361 

Antichrist identified in the East 
with Nero, 193 

Anti-Semitism of Marcion, 329 

Aphraates on spiritual wives, 219 

his Christology, 184 

Apollonius of Tyana, his exor- 
cisms, 143 

Apostles of Jesus upheld the Law 
for Gentile converts, 7 

Apostles, call of the Four naively 
described by Mark, 29 

Apostles’ Creed levelled at Mar- 
cion, 341, 346 

Aquinas, St. Thomas, on Incubi 
and Succubi, 234 

Aramaic, the original language of 
the Gospel traditions, 59 

Archelaus of Kharkhar on natural 
birth and baptism of Jesus, 325 

Arianism, evil significance of its 
defeat, 185 ; 


Aristides Rhetor, his visions, 290 

on binding and loosing of the 
god Dionysus, 245 

Aristobulus allegorised the Old 
Testament, 331 

Armenian dissenters, 262 

eae the so-called Creed of, 

** Attila, legend of in Damascius’s 
life of Isidore, 368 

Augustine on infant baptism, 315 

Baptism of Jesus, in non-Marcan 
document, 132 

its significance in the earliest 
Gospel, 165 foll. 

—— in the Acts of Archelaus, 325 

—— age of Jesus at, 177 

—— Jesus spiritually anointed 
and elected therein, 180, 325 

—— ancient form of, 317 

—— postponed for dread of post- 
baptismal sin, 323 foll. 

Baptismal crown worn for eight 
days, 319 

Basilidians feasted the baptism of 
Christ, 175 

Bath Kol, or voice from heaven, in 
Talmud, 167 

Bishop Lightfoot upon it, 168 

Philo upon it, 168 

Batiffol, Abbé Pierre,on Encratites, 

Bellucci, Professor, his collection 
of Italian fetishes, 360 

Berkeley’s philosophy, 344 

Bibliolatry, mischievous effects of, 

Binding and loosing, a magical 
conception, 245 foll. 




**Binding of Agabus, an early 

Christian medium, 367-68 7 

Birth of Jesus denied by Docetes, 
226 foll. 

Bishops, their origin, 313; their 
succession, 328 

Blessing, use of hand in, the same 
as in exorcisms, 323 

Blood, conceived of as the life, 
257; ghosts consume blood, 
257; why shed for remission of 
sin, 265 

Blood-brotherhoods, 258 

Breathing as a mode of transmit- 
ting the holy spirit, 323 

CATECHUMENATE, rite of, 314 

Cathar rite of Consolamentum a 
survival of death-bed baptism, 

Cathars continued the tradition 
of Marcion, 334 

Cause, idea of, applies only within 

_. the world of experience, 342 
Celtic Church, spiritual wives in, 


Chivalry influenced by early Chris- 
tian encratism, 222 

Chosen People, idea of a, mytho- 
logical, 339; involved in Chris- 
tianity, 356 

Christianity a mere development 
of Judaism, 356; assumes the 
Jews to be the chosen people, 
329, 357 

Christmas feast, its history, 176 

Christology and dogmatic defini- 
tions originated with death of 
Jesus, 354 foll. 

Chrysostom, John, on the argu- 
ment from prophecy, 209; depre- 
cated spiritual wives, 224 

Church or ecclesia, idea of it absent 
in Non-Marcan document, 135 

—— as virgin bride of Christ, 220, 

—— the, born of the waiting for 
the Second Advent of Christ, 

Churching a child on fortieth day 
from birth, rite of, 314 

Codex Amoris of Andrew, 222 


Conception through the ears, see 


**____ of Buddha through rays of 
sunlight by a virgin mother, 366 

Confirmation, or sealing with the 
Spirit, 319 : 

Conjugal relations incompatible 
with baptism, 316 : 

Consecration by holy names, 243 

Cosmogony of early Church, 357 

Crucifixion in Plato and in Philo, 

Cyprian of Carthage prohibits 
spiritual wives, 217 

Cyrenius or Quirinius, his census, 

DanakF, Justin Martyr illustrates 
from her case the virgin birth, 196 

Dante and Beatrice, 219 

Darkness at hour of crucifixion 
paralleled from pagan sources, 
284 foll. 

Darwin, Charles, on Jewish origin 
of Christianity, 329 

Davidic pedigree of Jesus, accepted 
by Paul, but repudiated by Jesus 
himself, 187 

Delehaye, Hippolyte, on hagio- 
graphic legends, 348, 349 

Delphic spirit, why unclean, 
according to Origen, 234 

Demiurge, or author of nature, 
evil, 341; Paul’s comparison 
with a potter, 341 

Demons recognise Jesus, 30 

—— ignored in Fourth Gospel and 
by Philo, 69 

—— Mohammed, like Jesus, ac- 
cused of being possessed by, 70, 

— of disease, 143 

Development of Christological 
ideas in the New Testament, 348 

Docetism, 226 

Dositheus, his list of the seventy 
disciples, 90 

Doublets in Mark, 51 foll. 

Dove symbolises the spirit in 
Philo, 167 

—— was white 

according to 
Lactantius, 171 


Dragon in the Jordan trampled 
on by Jesus at baptism, 172 

Dreams and visions, importance 
anciently attached to them, 289 

Ears, conception 
through, 230 foll. 
— in Plutarch, 230 

— in Philo, 231 

—— in Ephrem, 231 

— in Ruffinus, 231 

Ebionites believed in baptismal 
regeneration of Jesus, 172 

— denied the legend of the 
birth, 206 

their Gospel, 206 

Ecclesia, a spiritual unity, 254 

Eclipse of sun at crucifixion, 284 

Enoch, Book of, its picture of 
Messianic kingdom, 295 

Ephrem on Virgin’s conception 
through her ears, of the Logos, 

Epiphanius on the two Maries, 
the spiritual wife and real wife 
of Joseph, 225 

Epiphany feast, its history, 176 

Essene sacrament, 271 

Essenes abjured marriage, 211 

Eucharist of Paul, 251 foll. 

— how it became a fetish, 265 

—— account of in the Synoptic 
Gospels taken from Paul, 267, 

Eusebius on the seventy disciples, 

by Virgin 


Evil eye, 324 

Evocatio, rite of, 237 

Evolution, idea of, applied to 
revelation, 335 

FarrH-HEALING in Gospels, 63 foll., 

Family ties sacrificed by Jesus, 
154, 160 foll. 

Farrar’s Life of Christ, 140 

Fascinatio exemplified in Jesus’s 
cursing of a fig-tree, 249 

Fish, how symbolic of Christ, 173 

Fleshly resurrection of Jesus 
ignored by Paul, 294 


Frazer, Dr., his Golden Bough 
cited, 238, 248, 250 

‘Ganarins, Epistle to, 16 

Gentiles, how they came to be 
admitted in Christianity, 350 
God, idea of eating hi min Paul, 

275, 278 
Gore, Bishop, on mind of Christ, 

Gospels compilations, 22, 27, 58 
Gregory of Nazianzen on fit age 
for baptism, 316 
— of Nyssa on spiritual wives, 

Greville, George, on Irvingite gift 
of tongues, 93 

Grotta Ferrata Monastery, sculp- 
ture at, of baptism, 173 

Hamitton, Sir William Rowan, 
on ascension of Jesus, 358 

Hands, laying on of, origin of 
rite, 322 

Harnack, Professor, on Luke, 103 

—— his reconstruction of the non- 
Marcan document, 107 foil. 

Hebrews, the Gospel of, 
baptism of Christ, 171 

Hegesippus on James’s vision of 
the risen Christ, 305 

Hermas, Shepherd of, on spiritual 
wives, 217 

Herod Antipas, 37 

Herodotus on oaths, 258 

Hillel called by the Bath Kol, 

Hippolytus on Messianic move- 
ments in Pontus and in Asia, 

Horoscopes and baptism, 316 


Ipou-orrrReD flesh infected with 
diabolic spirit, 260° 

Ignatius on the Virgin Birth, 205 

— of Antioch on the eucharist, 

Immaculate conception of Mary, 
history of the doctrine, 229 

Immanence of Christ, early doc- 
trine of, 254, 275 

Incubation in temples, 291 


in baptism, unknown in early 

Church, 315 

Inquisition, Roman, 279 

Irving, Edward, his speaking with 
tongues, 93 

JDROME on spiritual wives, 214 

Jerusalem, early Church of, pre- 
sided over by relatives of Jesus, 

Jesus, tenuity of the tradition 
about him, 1, 139 

~— reserved his kingdom for 
Jews, 5, 13 

—— why condemned to death, 45 

— sublimated in Matthew and 
Luke, 62 

—— accused by his own family of 
being possessed, 71 foll. 

—— how much junior to John the 
Baptist, 142 

—— reborn in baptism, 172 foll. 

—— his age at baptism, 177 

—— his gradual deification, 180 

— by whom buried, 297 

— his death, its influence on 
growth of Christology, 352 foll. 

Johannine Gospel denies by im- 
plication both Davidie origin 
and virgin birth of Jesus, 189 

its exaggerations, 229 

aa the Baptist, senior to Jesus, 

John’s Gospel a romance, 20, 62 
— —— denies intercourse of 
Jesus with evil spirits, 69 
—— —— its exaggerations, 77 
—— —— its appendix, 78 
Jonah, the sign of, 34 n., 128 
Josephus on demons, 143 
ae resurrection of the just, 

Jowett, Benjamin, his opinion of 
the Gospels, 1 

Judaisers and Paul, 8 Sad 

Judas Thomas, Acts of, their 
teaching on marriage, 225 

—— —— twin brother of Jesus, 
207, 255 

—— of Galilee, his revolt, 192 

Justin Martyr on Virgin Birth, 
180, 196 


Justin Martyr regarded Jesus as an 
archangel, 226 ‘ 
on the demons which 

would waylay the soul of Jesus, 

Krys of heaven and hell, a 
magical conception, 248 

King of the Jews, Jesus con- 

- demned as such to be crucified, 

—— —— the claim of Jesus to be, 
not offensive to Jews, 46 

Kingdom of God conceived of by 
Jesus and his followers as a 
restoration of Israel in Pales- 
tine, 38; also by Philo, 40 © 

not to be brought about 
by force, 161 

—— —— believed to be imminent 
by Jesus and his Apostles, 350, 

Kinship, Arab’s idea of, 255 

—— strengthened by common 
food, 256 

Koran, resembles primitive Chris- 
tianity in not deifying Jesus, 185 

Lactrantius on the dove, 171 

his protest against deifica- 

tion of Jesus, 183 

illustrated the Virgin Birth 
from mares, 196 

Law, Jewish, not to be imposed 
on Messianic converts from 
among the Gentiles, 7 

Logos, Old Testament epiphanies 
of, 226 

Loisy, Abbé, on burial of Jesus,297 

Luke, how he used his sources, 
23, 61 foll., 84 foll., 105 

—— invents the call of the seventy 
de suo, 86 

——a picturesque story-teller, 102 

—— Ad. Harnack’s estimate of 
him, 102 

Luke’s narrative of birth of Jesus, 
how originated, 190 foll., 200 

Maat, visit of to Nero, 193 
Magic, homceopathic, 263, 275 


Magical character of early Eu- 
charist, 265, 275 

—— attributes of Eucharist 
Paul, 261, 275 

Marcion regarded Jahveh as an 
immoral Demiurge, 330 

rejected allegorisation of the 
Old Testament, 331 

—— his Antitheses, 332 

denied birth and baptism of 
Jesus, 333 ; 

—— denied Jesus to be Jewish 
Messiah, 339 

— denied the goodness of the 
author of nature, 341 

Marett, Mr., on use of names of 
power, 244 

Mariolatry, 75 

Mark’s Gospel, its author knew 
nothing of the legend of the 
Virgin Birth, 186 

—— — used by Matthew and 
Luke, 21; summarised, 28 foll.; 
and characterised, 32 

—— —— a compilation, 56 

—— —— contains many doublets, 
51 foll. 

—— —— supplied their historical 
plan to Matthew and Luke, 60 
Martineau, Dr., on Messiahship of 

Jesus, 351 

Mary conceived of as the spiritual 
wife of Joseph, 224 

conceived through her ears, 

Matthew, how he used his sources, 
23, 61 foll. 

— eliminates human traits of 
Jesus reported by Mark, 61, 64 

—— exaggeraties 
miracles, 76, 79 

—— probable date and authorship 
of his Gospel, 136 

Matthew’s pedigree of Jesus 
affirmed the paternity of Joseph, 

— Gospel on birth of Jesus 
in Bethlehem, 192 

**Messiah, the, Sabatai Levi, in 
the seventeenth century, 363 


or invents 


Messianic expectations banished 
marriage and family, 215 
—— character of Jesus concealed 
according to Mark, 30 /oll., 

—— —— patent from the outset 
according to Luke, 83 

— —— evidence about it of 
non-Marcan Document, 134 

Millennial beliefs, interpreted by 
Church in reference to a future 
life, 150, 359 

Minucius Felix attests the mere 
humanity of Jesus, 181 

—— on morals of early Church, 

Mohammed, 18, 38 

—— unlike Jesus, created a book 
religion, 353 

his spittle sacred, 148 

Mohammedan theology, its empty 
abstractions, 345 

Mommsen, Theodor, on orthodox 
theologians, 361 

Monophysites, their Docetic view 
of Christ’s flesh, 232 

Monotheism, its self-contradic- 
tions, 340 foll. 

Mother, child, and dragon in Reve- 
lation, 204 

Muratori on spiritual wives, 214 

Name, magical use of, 235 

—— equivalent to personality, 

—— of Jesus, magically used in 
exorcisms, 239 foll. 

-—— of Father, Son, and Spirit 
interpolated in Matthew xxviii., 

Name-giving on eighth day after 
birth, 314 

Names, holy, localised in sanctu- 

aries, 243 

Nero, ‘belief in his return after 
death, 294 

Newman, John Henry, on deve- 
lopment of doctrine, 347 

Nile, of blessing the, in January, 

Non-Marcan Document overlaps 
Mark, 57 



Non-Marcan Document consisted 
chiefly of sayings of Jesus, 107 
—— —— to be reconstructed out 
of Matthew and Luke, 107 
— —— does not mention death 
or resurrection of Jesus, 127 
—— —— a Galilean document, 

—— —— absence of miracles in, 

—— —— anterior to all Church 
organisation, 135 

—— —— were the sayings it con- 
tains authentic? 137 

Oartus ratified by mutual sucking 
of blood, 258 

Oil, sealing with, origin of rite, 

Oliphant, Laurence, on spiritual 
wives, 220 

Opus operatum, its meaning, 326 

Ordination, origin of, 322 

Orphic legends of descent into 
hell coloured Christian creed, 286 

Ovid on demons, 324 

PaRaBLEs used by Jesus to conceal 
his meaning, 33 foll. 

Parthenos, or virgin, in Isaiah vii. 
14, its meaning 

Paul, his negative attitude towards 
Jesus, 2 

—— his ecstasies, 3 

—— an epileptic, 4 

—— his conversion, 4 foll. 

his universalist ideal of Jesus 
as the Messiah, 6, 18 

—— flouted the genuine Apostles, 
8 foll. 

—— ignored Jesus’s teaching, 9 

eee virgins or spiritual wives, 

—— believed in blood sacrifice as 
only mode of atonement, 274 
—and Thekla, Acts of, on 

virgins, 215, 254 
Pearl, why Jesus was the, 232 
ae of Jesus, their origin, 
Ss reais history of the rite of, 


Peter, his relations with Paul, Lis 

: he 

— Gospel, its account of the 
resurrection, 308 ‘ 

authentic details in it 
as to flight of the Apostles at 
the crucifixion, 309 foll. 

——— —— shared with Luke a lost 
source, 281, 283 

Peter’s vision of the risen Jesus, 

Philo on virgin births, 199, 211, 

—— his allegorising of the Old 
Testament, 331 

his idea of the Trinity, 355 

—— his Messianic aspirations, 40, 
150 : 

— rejected popular belief in 
demons, 69 

urged on conyerts the neces- 

sity of sacrificing family ties, 

154, 156, 158 

on symbolism of dove, 167 

Pilate, Acts of, ignores the virgin 
birth of Jesus, 208 

—— Philo’s description of him, 

——his treatment of Messiahs, 

Pitt Rivers Museum, 360 

Plagiarism not held disgraceful 
by authors of New Testament, 

Pliny the Elder on use of spittle, 


Plutarch on virgin births, 195 

— on conception through the 
ears, 230 

Porphyry on evil spirits connected 
with flesh eating, 257 

Priesthood, emergence of, in the 
Church, 322 

Procopius, Martyr, his Dossier, 348 

Progressive revelation, the idea 
of, criticised, 336 foll. 

Prophetic gnosis in Matthew, 80 

Proselytes abandoned family ties, 

—— in Asia Minor, 4 

Protevangel, its narrative of the 
Virgin Birth, 202 


Ra, his secret name stolen by 

Isis, 238 

eye tee of early Christianity, 

Regeneration of Jesus at baptism, 
172 foll., 175 

Resurrection, Paul’s account of it, 

16 foll. 

it transformed Jesus into 
Son of God and universal 
Saviour, according to Paul, 18, 

—— subjective character of it, 44 

not alluded to in Non- 
Marcan Document, 127 

—— Luke’s account of it criti- 
cised, 100 

gradual growth of belief in, 

— originated in Peter’s vision, 

—— of the flesh, an old Egyptian 
belief, 295 

why timed on Sunday at 
dawn, 300 

**___ after three days, 368 

of Jesus, belief in not uni- 
versal in the earliest Church, 

Rings, use of in exorcisms, 324 

Risen Christ, appearances of 
merely subjective, 292 

SaspatsH diffused by Jews, 157 

hobs of the Puritans, 365-66 

Sacrifice and kinship, 256 

Sacrifices, Jewish, their cessation, 

Sacrificial idea of Jesus’s death, 
discovered by Paul, 353 

Salt, use of in baptism, 320 

Sanday, Professor, on Virgin 
Birth, 186, 200 

Sayce, Professor, on magical use 
of names, 248 

Scourging, columns of, 325 

Second coming, belief in its imme- 
diacy, 45, 151 

— —— coloured the teaching 
of Jesus, 154 

—— —— was it contemplated at 
the last supper ?, 269 


Sermon on the Mount, 152 foll. 

—— —— preached in view of 
ee end of the world, 

Seventy, call of the, an incident 
invented by Luke, 86 

ahve how far analogous to death, 

Solomon’s ring as a Christian 
relic in Jerusalem in fourth 
century, 324 

Son of Man, 39 

Spirit, Holy, his place in the 
legend of Virgin’ Birth, 210 

—— holy, its odour, 100 

—— its luminosity atChrist’s 
baptism, 171 

Spiritual wives, institution of in 
the Church generated legend of 
Virgin Mary, 224 

Spittle, use of, in healing, 148 

Star of the Magi, 193 

—— in the East, paralleled, 169, 

State, negative attitude of Jesus 
towards, 153, 351 

Strangled meats, meaning of rule 
against eating, 258 

Suneisaktai, technical term for 
spiritual wives, 218 

Surrogate, use of term in magic, 
263, 275 

Swete, Rev. Professor, on Mark iii. 
21, 72 

Taste of devils parallel to the 
Table of the Lord, 261, 276, 277 

Taboos on names, 236 

Tacitus on oaths of Armenians 
and Iberians, 259 

Tarsus, Paul’s native city, 4 

Teaching of the Apostles, its 
account of eucharistic meal, 273 

Tertullian on infant baptism, 315 

—— on magic use of names, 242 

—— on the veiling of virgins, 233 

Tertullian’s idea of the conception 
of Jesus by the Virgin, 230 

Testaments of Patriarchs quoted, 

Therapeutse of Philo, 211 

—— their holy meal, 272 


Thiasot, or trade-guilds of Roman 
Empire, their common meals, 

Three days, resurrection after, 
how to a ina 2938, 296 

Thyestean banquets alleged against 
Christians and Jews, 259 

Timothy and Aquila, Dialogue of, 

Tomb, empty, story of in Mark, 
299; in Matthew, 302 

Tongues, gift of, in Paul and 
Luke, 92 foll. 

Trial of Jesus, narratives of, dis- 
torted by hatred of Jews, 279 

Trine immersion, a pagan rite 
variously explained from three 
days’ entombment of Jesus or 
from Trinity, 319 

Trinity, idea of, in Philo, 355 

VaticAN Museum, monument 
therein of Proclus, 346 

Veil of Temple rent, meaning of, 
285, 287 

Vespasian heals the blind and 
lame in Alexandria, 144 

Victor, Henry, Professor, 
Atharva Veda cited, 247 

Virgil on mares conceiving by the 
breeze, 196 

Virgil’s prediction of a virgin 
birth, 198 




of Mark’s Gospel, 186, 206 

—— —— rejected by early Chri 
tians, 180 

illustrated by Lactan- 

fits from mares, 196 

of Buddha, 366 

— —— of Julius Cesar, 196 

—— Justin Martyr upon, 196 

—— in Philo, 194 

—— of Plato, 194 

—— avia media between the 
Docetes and Ebionites, 228 

-— Mary, relative lateness of 
her feasts, 229 

Virgins’ ears to be protected 
against assaults of demons, 233 

Virgins or spiritual wives in Cor- 
inthian Church, 211 

—— in the Shepherd of Hermas, 

Virgin Birth unknown tothe | 

—— in the Greek Churches, 218 
in Carthaginian Church, 217 
—— in early Celtic Church, 219 
—— among Cathars, 219 

Water, living, use of in baptisms, 

Wellhausen’s appreciation 
Mark’s Gospel, 46 


Zeus Sebazios, 324 
Zoroaster, his legend parallel to 
story of Christ’s baptism, 177 






(od By) 

Conybeare, l’rederick Cornwallis, 1856-1924. 

Myth, magic, and morals; a study of Christian origir 
Fred. Cornwallis Conybeare ... (Issued for the Ratio: 
press association, limited» London, Watts & co., 1909, 

xvili, 376 p. 20%, 

Later ed, has title: The origins of Christianity. 

1. Church history—-Primitive and early church, cag30=600. Te 
Conybeare, Frederick Cormwallis, 15561934. ee ° ork ims 
Christianitye Ile  «‘TMtle. Illes 
of Christianity. ; 7 cocoa 

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