IS IT GOD'S WORD?
THE INSPIRED "HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS"
OF THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST
R RTHE INSPIRED "HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS" R R THE DATELESS NAZARENE R R THE "BLESSED NAME" OF JESUS
R RGENEALOGIES OF JESUS R R VIRGIN BIRTH OF JESUS R R THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM R R THE SHEPHERD CHOIR
R RTHE NOCTURNAL FLIGHT TO EGYPT R R THE "MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS" R R JOHN AND THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
R RTHE TEMPTATION IN THE WILDERNESS R R THE APOSTLES CHOSEN R R "THE TWELVE" R R APOSTOLIC GREED AND STRIFE
R ROTHER APOSTOLIC TANGLES R R THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT -- OR THE PLAN R R THIS LORD'S PRAYER R R CHRIST ANOINTED
R RJESUS -- KING OF THE JEWS R R POT-POURRI OF INSPIRED INHARMONIES R R ECCE HOMO! R R SECRECY ENJOINED
R RSUPERSTITIONS OF JESUS CHRIST R R THE "SECOND COMING" OF CHRIST R R RETURN TO THE INDEX OF CHAPTERS
THE life and times of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the King of the Jews, the Saviour of the world, are preserved in four short monographs, called after their Greek title gospels, which means "good news." The earliest of these biographies, "The Gospel according to Mark," was written, at the earliest, about the year 70 of the new era, some forty years after the death of Jesus, when a whole new generation had come upon the scene of the events of his life and death therein reported.
In these biographies their subject is claimed by the writers to be the "Son of God" -- the Hebrew Yahveh; as "conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary," working wonders, crucified, rising from the dead, and ascending into heaven, where he sitteth on the right hand of his Father Yahveh, until he shall "come again to judge the quick and the dead" -- which he asserted would be very shortly, in the lifetime of his hearers.
In his brief career, between two or three Jewish Passovers only, he is recorded to have wrought "great signs and wonders" -- miracles; to have raised the dead; cured incurable diseases by a word or a touch or the simple faith of the patient or of his friends, or by his potent command "casting out devils" which caused the ailments; to have been tried and condemned by a Roman magistrate, and crucified by Roman law; on his death to have caused a great eclipse of the sun; to have rent in twain by earthquake the veil of the holy temple, causing innumerable graves to open, whose sheeted dead came forth and walked the streets of the Holy City, in full view of the populace; to have risen from the dead under the eyes of an armed Roman guard, specially stationed at his grave to prevent all tampering; and to have -- on the same or the next day, or forty days afterwards -- ascended to heaven at four different times and places, before the eyes of four different sets of spectators, and under four totally different sets of circumstances.
Not a word of any of these transcendent wonders is to be found in all the historic records or contemporary annals of that great city and age. The Roman philosopher Pliny, some forty years after the Crucifixion, about the time the first gospel is thought to have been written, lost his life seeking to investigate the very minor event of an eruption of Vesuvius which destroyed -- and preserved for future confirmation -- the unimportant Roman town of Pompeii. Of this event ample contemporary historical records abound. Flavius Josephus, a contemporary, the greatest historian of Jewry, records the minutest facts and even myths of Hebrew history from the earliest ages down to his own times. But there does not exist a word of any record, human or divine, concerning this God made man and his wondrous works outside of a notoriously forged and meagre reference, in a book written some sixty years after the death of Jesus, and stuck between incongruous paragraphs of one of the works of Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. 18, chap. 3: 3 ), and outside the pages of these so-called gospels and epistles, and the Apocalypse or Revelation.
This Jesus was Incarnate God on earth, or lived as a man and teacher (if he ever lived) in one of the most brilliant ages and cultured societies in ancient history: in the reign of Caesar Augustus, an epoch illustrious as the golden age of Roman imperial, legal, literary, and cultured civilization.
Judaea was then a Roman province, Jerusalem a Roman capital. Its ruler, at the time of the traditional advent of the Nazarene, was Herod the Great, celebrated by the Jewish historian Josephus as one of the great if wicked men and rulers of the age. Learning and literature, of the elegant Roman and brilliant Greek types, flourished. But there is nowhere a scrap of papyrus whereon even the name of this God, or of this miracle-working man, is so much as mentioned, except in the passage referred to in an old manuscript of Josephus, held by most scholars to be spurious.
The tales of the Christ are marvellous and incredible, impossible, according to all human standards of reason, as shown in every circumstance of the confused and contradictory records of the four gospels. We have seen their subject stripped of every vestige of claim to be the fulfilment of prophecies appealed to by his four posthumous biographers in support of their accounts of the most salient features of his life and acts. No less unreal will be found the "harmony of the gospels" with respect to his birth, life, trial, crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension. Such events, so contradictorily chronicled and vouched for, could not be accepted as truth if testified on oath before a court of human justice. The rule of logic and of law: "Of two contradictories, one must be false" makes their "harmony" and truth incredible and impossible.
We shall take up these diversely recorded incidents one by one, and submit them to candid judgment.
THE DATELESS NAZARENE
Biographers of celebrated men are careful to state with exactness, or to approximate, the dates of the birth and death and of the principal events of the lives, of their subjects. The inspired biographers of the Son of God, for Christians the most momentous figure of history, ignore such dates or muddle them beyond even approximate probability. Only Matthew and Luke essay to tell of the birth of the God made man; there are at least thirteen years difference between the times of birth recorded by them. Like conflicts persist as to the duration of his ministry, and his age at various periods, as at the beginning of his ministry and at the time of his death.
According to Matthew, "Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea, in the days of Herod the king" (Matt. 2: 1 ). Herod died in the year 4 BC, but Jesus was born at least two years before the death of Herod, for Herod is recorded by Matthew as long waiting for the return of the "wise men" to report on the new-born King of the Jews, and as massacring all the children "from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men" (Matt. 2: 16 ). Jesus was thus born at least six years BC, if Herod died immediately after the massacre of the Innocents, which is not likely. Matthew thus lays the birth of Jesus in 6 BC at the earliest.
Luke makes out the birth to have been at earliest in the year 7 AD or thirteen years later. Luke tells of Joseph and Mary's going from Galilee to Bethlehem to be taxed, and says that Jesus was born while they were in Bethlehem on this fanciful mission. For, he says, "in those days. ... there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria)" (Luke 2: 1-7 ). It is well known that Galilee was annexed to Syria and Cyrenius (Quirinius) made governor in AD 7. A classic authority may be taken, out of many, to fix this date. Josephus relates: "And now Herod altered his testament and granted the kingdom to Archelaus. ... When he had done these things he died. (Antiq., Bk. 17, chap. 7, sec. 1 ). "But in the tenth year of Archelaus's government" the Jews "accused him before Caesar" who banished him to Vienna in Gaul (Id., chap. 13, sec. 2 ). "So Archelaus's country was laid to the province of Syria; and Cyrenius, one that had been consul, was sent by Caesar to take account of people's effects in Syria, and to sell the house of Archelaus" (Id., chap. 13, sec. 5 ). "Moreover, Cyrenius came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance" (Antiq., Bk. 18, chap. 1, sec. 1 ). "When Cyrenius had now disposed of Archelaus's money, and when the taxings were come to a conclusion, which were made in the thirty-seventh year of Caesar's victory over Anthony at Actium" (Id., chap. 2, see. 1 ). Luke's taxation was then at a period thirty-seven years after the historic battle of Actium, which took place September 2, 31 BC; the thirty-seventh year after would therefore be between September 2, AD 6 and September 2, AD 7, in which year Luke says Jesus was born.
A word may be added about Luke's "decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed" (Luke 2: 1 ), and about the journey of Joseph and Mary from their home in Galilee to Bethlehem of Judea "to be taxed" (Luke 2: 4, 5 ). No such decree of Augustus is known to secular history; the provinces were taxed locally and at such different times as the local authorities decreed. If Jesus was born, as Matthew says, "in the days of Herod," Joseph, whether a resident of Galilee or of Judea, could not have been subject to such a Roman tax, for neither of these Jewish districts, belonging to Herod's kingdom was then a part of the Roman empire or of its province of Syria, being added thereto only in 7 AD Nor would residents of Galilee have gone to Judea to be taxed, either when both districts were separate governments, or after both were parts of Syria; citizens are taxed in the places of their actual residence, not in the town, in a different government, where they chanced to have been born. In all respects, "the account of Luke rests, therefore, on a series of mistakes" (Encyc. Bib., Vol. 1: col. 808 ).
The age of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry is left in like uncertainty. Luke says: "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. ... Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age" (Luke 3: 1, 23 ). The reign of Tiberius began in 14 AD; the fifteenth year of his reign would be 29 AD If Jesus was born, as Matthew says, "in the days of Herod the king" (Matt. 2: 1 ), and was thus born in or before 6 BC, as Matthew's account works out, Jesus would be thirty-five years of age in AD 29 and not "about thirty." But if Jesus was born, as Luke says, "when Cyrenius was governor of Syria" (Luke 2: 2 ), which was in AD 7, Jesus would be but twenty-one or twenty-two years of age in the fifteenth year of Tiberius, 29 AD, when his ministry began. The Jews took exceptions to the remark of Jesus: "Before Abraham was, I am." "Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?" (John 7: 56-58 ). Thus Jesus, at least by appearance, must have been nearly fifty years of age during his ministry.
Jesus, according to Luke, began his ministry very shortly after John began his, which was in the time of Tiberius, as above shown, "Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests" (Luke 3: 1, 2, 23; 4: 1, 14, 15 ). This is another inspired impossibility: two high priests never held the office jointly. It is as if a history of the United States should read: "Washington and Monroe being Presidents," there being about the same space of time between the two presidents and the two high priests. Caiaphas was the high priest at the time indicated, and three others had held the office between Annas and Caiaphas (Josephus, Bk. 18: chap. 2, sec. 2 ). At the time when Caiaphas was high priest, John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus, began his tour of preaching, just when "Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age" (Luke 3: 1-3, 23 ), and immediately afterwards Jesus was baptized (Luke 3: 21 ), and began his own ministry (Luke 4: 1, 14, 15 ). But according to Matthew, Jesus was but about two years old at the death of Herod and his return from Egypt, when "in those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea" (Matt. 2: 19-23; 3: 1 ).
The ministry of Jesus lasted, according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, for only one year; according to John it covered at least three years. The former writers record but one visit of Jesus to Jerusalem; John brings him there at least four times (John 2: 13; 5: 1; 10: 22, 23; 12: 12 ). In this brief space of one or three years, so great was his activity, says John, that besides all the things which he relates in his gospel, "there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" (John 21: 25 ) ! But in the very next book of the Bible, it is avowed by Luke that in his "former treatise" -- that is, the Gospel of Luke -- he had recorded "all that Jesus began both to do and to teach, Until the day in which he was taken up" (Acts 1: 1, 2 ). These things which Jesus both did and taught will now be examined as they are recorded by inspired pens.
THE "BLESSED NAME" OF JESUS
It may be noted first, in passing, that the name of the "Christ," whether God or man, was not, to himself and his own family and people, Jesus at all. His given name in Hebrew, or Aramaic, the language in which be spoke, is Yehoshua (plain Joshua)-- exactly the same as that of the old heathen worthy for whom the sun and moon stood still upon Gibeon. The meaning of the name is "Yahveh is salvation"; Jesus is the later Greek form of the name Joshua.
The added title "Christ" is another Greek translation or substitute for the Hebrew Scripture word "Messiah," which means "anointed." John, if he wrote the gospel attributed to him, himself a Hebrew but writing in current Greek, correctly explains this when he tells of Andrew's coming to his brother Simon Peter and announcing: "We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ" (John 1: 41 ). Both words, the Hebrew Mashiach and its Greek equivalent Christos, mean simply "the anointed."
The Galilean bearer of this name (Hebrew, Joshua; Greek, Jesus), by this token cannot be the virgin-born subject of the "prophecy" of Isaiah, as claimed by Matthew; for Isaiah declares that his virgin, bearing a son, "shall call his name Immanuel" (Isa. 7: 14; quoted in Matt. 1: 23 ). This name, as Matthew explains in the same verse, "being interpreted is, God [El] with us" (Matt. 1: 23 ); whereas Joshua (Jesus) means, as we have seen, "Yahveh is salvation." So the virgin-born Joshua or Jesus of Matthew cannot be possibly -- all other proofs aside -- the same infant as the virgin-born Immanuel of Isaiah.
It has already been fully proved that Isaiah's unfulfilled "prophecy" regarding his "sign" of the outcome of the war of the two kings against Jerusalem does not at all refer to the child of Mary, 750 years later. We need not dwell again here on this prophecy of miraculous birth, but proceed to other as compelling proofs of the persistent errancy and inconsistency of Matthew and his fellow propagandists of this Jesus as the Christ.
The great national hero who should come to avenge the Chosen People of Yahveh against the Assyrians and other oppressors is not once intimated in the Hebrew Scriptures to be any other than a human being, "of the seed of David," who, as a king, should re- establish the throne of David on earth, as so often promised and proclaimed by Yahveh (e.g., Isa. 11: 1; Luke 1: 32; Acts 2: 30 ). Never once is it hinted that Yahveh himself, "Man of war" though he was, would come in person to accomplish the liberation and restoration of his Chosen People, after failing so signally to save them from destruction and captivity. Nor is there so much as an ambiguous or doubtful bit of revelation that Yahveh had a son by the name of Joshua, whom he would send at some time in the future to fill the role of the promised hero, and either re-establish the throne of David on earth, or set up a new religion promising a kingdom in heaven to the disappointed expectants of the renewed earthly Kingdom of Israel.
GENEALOGIES OF JESUS
The pedigree of Jesus causes the next notable conflict, between Matthew and one of his colleagues, Luke, who contradicts him, and between both of them and the Old Testament records. The chief of the essential qualifications of the expected Jewish Messiah was that he should be of the house and lineage of David the King, and should as king "re-establish the throne of David forever." This descent in unbroken line must be proved of Jesus the Son of Joseph or of Yahveh, or of any other who would successfully claim to fulfil the promise of the Messiah as an earthly king. Matthew therefore begins his biography with "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matt. 1: 1 ). Beginning with Abraham, he comes in a direct line of "begettings" to David, and from David, through Solomon and Roboam, to one Jacob: "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ" (Matt. 1: 16 ); and he declares specifically, after naming all by name, that from David to Christ there are twenty-eight generations (1: 17 ). Matthew says that from Abraham, with whom his genealogy begins, to Jesus there were forty-two generations; but his own list (1: 2-16 ) shows only forty-one. He seems to have counted someone twice.
Matthew divides his genealogy into three periods, from Abraham to David, from David to the carrying away into captivity, from the captivity to Jesus; and he declares that in each of these periods "are fourteen generations" (Matt. 1: 17 ) -- twice seven, the sacred number of the Jews. But in order to get this fanciful uniformity of numbers, Matthew deliberately falsifies the records of the Old Testament. The inspired, and supposedly official, Davidic genealogy "from David until the carrying away into Babylon," -- according to Matthew, "fourteen generations" -- is recorded in 1 Chronicles (3: 1, 5, 10-16 ), the first name being David and the last -- up to the "carrying away" -- Zedekiah. But when Matthew gets to Joram, he begins to falsify, and he says, "and Joram begat Ozias" (Matt. 1: 8 ), and then proceeds with his list. In doing this, Matthew purposely Omits four generations -- after Joram, "Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, Amaziah his son" (1 Chron. 3: 11, 12 ) -- three kings of David's direct line whose combined reigns were seventy years; then, after Josias, who, he says, "begat Jechonias" (Matt. 1: 11 ), he omits Jehoiakim (1 Chron. 3: 16 ), who reigned three months. Without going further into details, instead of there being, as Matthew says (Matt, 1: 17 ), exactly "fourteen generations" for each period, the true tally is: Abraham to David, 13; David until the "carrying away," 19; thence to Jesus, 13; a total of forty-five instead of the forty-two stated and forty-one recorded by Matthew, as any one who will delve into the tortuous records may verify. Matthew in his pre-Davidic list puts in the names of four women (an unprecedented thing for Jewish genealogies). Of more unsavory repute than these four ancestresses of the Son of God no females could be: Thamar, double daughter-in-law of Judah, who tricked him into incest with her; Rachab, harlot of Jericho, public prostitute; Ruth, young widow avid for another man, who stole in the dark into Boaz's bed in the barn and slept with him for incitation to marriage; Bath-sheba, adulteress with David, who connived at David's murder of her husband Uriah that she might have the "man after Yahveh's own heart" with impunity. To him she bore the bastard Solomon. As for Rachab, Matthew commits a gross inspired anachronism, and records her as the mother of Boaz and hence second mother-in-law of Ruth -- "Salmon begat Booz of Rachab" (Matt. 1: 5 ) -- and only three generations from David; whereas Rachab was the "harlot of Jericho" who entertained the "spies" of Joshua (Joshua 2: 1 ), nearly four centuries earlier.
Luke, in chapter 3 of his equally inspired and credible biography, produces the genealogy of his subject, but in inverse order, from Jesus to David, instead of, as in Matthew, from David to Jesus. Luke carries the line of begettings directly back to David via one Mattatha, "which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David" (3: 32 ), instead of from David through Solomon and Roboam, like Matthew. Luke names and specifies forty-three generations from David to Jesus, instead of Matthew's twenty-eight; and only three names of the two contradictory lists are the same, except David at one end and Jesus at the other; the immediate ancestry at both ends is totally different. For comparison, here are the sacred genealogies as vouched for by the two inspired biographers:
*Indicates names which occur in both lists.
This proves entire want of truth in one or the other of these fictitious and contradictory genealogies; and, curiously, both at the most critical point break the circuit of the direct descent of Jesus from David. For if Jesus was not the carnal son of Joseph, but was the incarnate Son of Yahveh by his Holy Ghost and the yet virgin Mary, he could not, by any possibility of human descent, be a blood descendant of David, whose line of generation ended with Joseph -- if Joseph was not the carnal father of Jesus. So in no sense could Jesus be a "Son of David," and so fill the first and essential requirement of the promised Messiah.
The "genealogies of Jesus," fictitious compilations of a century more or less after Jesus, ipso facto prove that at the time they were composed Jesus was regarded simply as a man "born of the seed of David after the flesh"; else why human genealogies? A God could have no ancestors. The truth is thus declared: "The genealogy could never have been drawn up after Joseph ceased to be regarded as the real father of Jesus" (Encyc. Biblica, Vol. 3: col. 2960 ).
Jesus himself denies positively that he is a "son of David"; for, "while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord? ... If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?" (Matt. 22: 41-43, 45; Mark 12: 35-37; Luke 20: 41-44 ). This was a good deal of a conundrum, "for no man was able to answer him a word" (Matt. 22: 46 ). Nor can I. But John the Divine, about one hundred years later, quotes Jesus as saying in heaven: "I am the root and the offspring of David" (Rev. 22: 16 ); but this was in a dream.
Luke says that this controversy as to whether Jesus was a "son of David" was, not with Matthew's Pharisees, but between Jesus and "certain of the scribes" (Luke 20: 39-44 ); though Mark records no controversy at all, but says that Jesus, "while be taught in the temple," talking to "the common people," himself proposed the conundrum ("How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David?" Mark 12: 35-37 ) and answered it himself, and no one else said a word. Mark quotes Jesus as saying that David said all this about the Lord "by the Holy Ghost" (Mark 12: 36 ); but Matthew says Jesus said: "How then doth David in spirit call him Lord" (Matt. 22:, 43 ); Luke says simply that Jesus said that "David saith in the book of Psalms" (Luke 20: 42 ).
Matthew adds to his account that after the dispute about the "son of David" matter with the Pharisees, "neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions" (Matt. 22: 46 ); but Mark records that it was "one of the scribes" who argued with Jesus about the commandments, and "no man after that durst ask him any question" (Mark 12: 28-34 ); Luke declares that it was after a controversy with the Sadducees regarding the resurrection, and "after that they durst not ask him any question at all" (Luke 20: 27-40 ).
VIRGIN BIRTH OF JESUS
The reputed virgin birth of Jesus we have already fully disproved as having been prophesied by Isaiah, Matthew to the contrary notwithstanding. We shall briefly consider the miraculous pregnancy of the Ever-Virgin Mother (who had more than half a dozen children), and the circumstances of the birth of her first-born, Joshua or Jesus.
Matthew again is our inspired historian. He relates that, "When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 1: 18 ); that Joseph felt quite naturally disposed to "put her away privily"; but that he dreamed that an angel of Yahveh told him to fear not to accept his wife Mary, "for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost" (1: 20 ). This dream seems to have quite satisfied Joseph, though he had never heard of a Holy Ghost, and no such person of the Christian Trinity is recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures. A curious grammatical consideration tends to disprove that Gabriel told Joseph (Matt. 1: 20 ), or Mary (Luke 1: 35 ), that the Holy Ghost would be the father of her child. In the Hebrew, or, Aramaic, spoken by these peasants, the word "spirit" or "ghost" (ruach) is of the feminine gender, and would never be thought of as indicating a potential father. But in Greek the word (pneuma) is masculine, so that the Church Father who forged the tale might with grammatical propriety, however fictitiously, say that the hagion pneuma (Holy Ghost) begot Jesus. So Joseph, "being raised from sleep, did as [he dreamed that] the angel of Yahveh had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son" (1: 24, 25; cf. Luke 2: 7 ).
Thus we learn, from Matthew, that the news of this pregnancy of his wife by the Holy Ghost was first broken to Joseph in a dream. When he dreamed this Inspiration does not directly tell; but it is readily deduced that it was not till at least three months after the secret visitation by the Holy Ghost took place, as will appear below. That it was several months after is also indicated by the fact that Joseph then took her unto himself, "and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son" -- evidently a considerable space of time, as the fact of Joseph's marital self- restraint is specially noted.
This (parenthetically) disproves too the dogma that Mary remained immaculate and ever-virgin: for, that Joseph knew her not "till" she had given birth to her first-born son, argues that he did "know her" carnally thereafter; and her "first-born" son argues others born thereafter. So a favorite fallacy of the celibate Fathers is exploded; to say nothing of the virginity-destroying effects of the births of half a dozen brothers and sisters of Jesus: "his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas, and his sisters," (Matt. 13: 55, 56; Mark 6: 2, 3 ); and Paul speaks of seeing his friend the apostle "James the Lord's brother" (Gal. 1: 19 ).
Luke as usual contradicts Matthew's story of Joseph's dream of the origin of his wife's pregnancy. Luke goes into much detail, relating that the angel Gabriel, in the sixth month after his like mission to Mary's cousin Elizabeth, was sent from Yahveh to Nazareth, "to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, ... and the virgin's name was Mary" (Luke 1: 26, 27 ). Gabriel announced to Mary that "the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee," and that she should "bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus." And Gabriel told her that the same kind of thing had already happened to her cousin Elizabeth six months before; and he departed. Mary, with true womanly instinct, arose and went with haste into the hill country, to the town of Elizabeth, to congratulate her and to break the news of her own like expectation; they both celebrated exultantly "with a loud voice" (1: 42 ).
Mary's hymn of praise at the "annunciation" is not a spontaneous and original jubilation; it is almost word for word copied from the song of Hannah over the similar annunciation of the birth of Samuel (cf. 1 Sam. 2: 1-5; Luke 1: 47-55 ).
Whether the annunciation was made by an angel to Mary or in a dream to Joseph, there is little difference; Luke's angels are of the same sort of stuff as Matthew's dreams, and everyone is coming now to know that angels's tales and Bible visions are but as "the baseless fabric of a dream."
That Mary had not told Joseph of the "visitation" of the Holy Ghost to her, and that he was ignorant of it for at least three months, is very evident from Matthew's inspired record. The promise was no doubt performed to Mary at the time of the "visitation" of the angel, related by Luke. It was three months later, when Mary returned to Joseph, or later still, that Joseph, by some means not revealed, "found" that Mary was "with child of the Holy Ghost." Really what Joseph found was simply that his wife "was with child," without his knowing by whom or what. For Joseph was thereupon, and naturally, "minded to put her away privily," so as not to "make her a public example" and create a scandal, as Matthew says. So Joseph could not have known, at the time of his discovery of the pregnancy, who was its author. It was only later, when he was sleeping on the matter, that he dreamed that he was told: "That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 1: 20 ). That the suspicions of Joseph should have been so easily allayed by a dream may appear queer. Both Joseph and Mary, as Luke elsewhere relates, disclaim the whole story of the intervention of the Holy Ghost in the conception of Jesus, and themselves assert their own human and natural parenthood of the Child (Luke 2: 48-50 ).
We may here note for what it is worth in support of the orthodox faith that there was no novelty at all in virgin births from gods in the ancient religions. They were commonplace happenings which any superstitiously inclined pagan or Hebrew would readily accept in fullness of faith. Even the Hebrew Yahveh, who is not revealed to have had any heavenly spouse, is credited with numerous offspring -- the "beni ha-Elohim, sons of the-Gods," of Genesis and Job, who sported with the daughters of men, producing the demigod giants. To Yahveh also is credited the miraculous conceptions of Isaac (Gen. 18: 10, 11; 21: 1-3 ); of Samson (Judges 13: 2, 3, 24 ); of Samuel (1 Sam. 1: 9-11, 20 ); and of John the Baptist (Luke 1: 7-13 ). A similar miracle does not therefore prove Jesus divine; and Jesus evidently was not the "only begotten Son" of Yahveh God.
The great god of the Greeks, Zeus, was also prolific author of virgin births, of which we cite only the well-known and highly accredited instances of his copulation in the form of a swan with Leda, the miraculous product of which was the twins Castor and Pollux, and his intrigue with Io, which resulted in a son Epaphus.
The Roman war-god Mars likewise kept amorous tryst with the vestal virgin Rhea Silvia, from which the twins Romulus and Remus resulted. The great hero Achilles was also the product of the amours of, this time, a human father and the immortal sea-goddess Thetis. Divine hybrids in human form resulted. Alexander the Great was reputed son of his mother Olympias and Jupiter Ammon, as that god himself declared. The Egyptian Pharaohs and the Roman emperors were gods, the former by birth, the latter by apotheosis, just as are saints by canonization. The Son of Yahveh and Mary could not have been altogether "Very God," but was half human, and so only a demigod. Either virgin births by gods were very frequent actualities in the good old Hebrew-pagan times, or priestly assurance and popular credulity passed them as miraculous events worthy of faith. It is all the same, so far as they may serve as precedents for faith in the virgin birth of the reputed Son of Yahveh.
The only authentication which we have of this much controverted event is sundry "proofs of Holy Writ," consisting of very contradictory scraps of inspiration in the New Testament.
Peter, at Pentecost, when all were filled with the Holy Ghost, preached his first sermon, in which by plenary inspiration he declared: "Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you," etc. "The patriarch David. ... Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him [Psalm 132: 11, 12], that of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne" (Acts 2: 22, 29, 30 ). What could be more positive proof of humanity and disproof of divine paternity than this first avowal of Peter, perverted by his successors? And Paul, if he wrote the Second Epistle to Timothy, says: "Jesus Christ of the seed of David" (2 Tim. 2: 8 ). And John of Patmos: "I Jesus ... am the root and the offspring of David" (Rev. 22: 16 ). A god cannot be crazy; but Mark records (Mark 3: 21; cf. John 10: 20 ) that the family and friends of Jesus thought him so and went to arrest him as a madman: "And when his friends [margin: relatives] heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself" (Greek: existemi, to be out of one's wits, distracted, beside oneself). Thus his own family knew him for human and knew nothing of the fabled paternity of the Holy Ghost.
Paul, the most dogmatic theologian of them all, admits that Jesus Christ was altogether human in origin, for he "was made of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Rom. 1: 3 ), and was simply "declared to be the Son of God [Yahveh] with power, according to the spirit of holiness" (1: 4 ). Paul admits the manhood of the Christ: "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2: 5 ). The Christ of Peter and Paul was not a god, but a mere man, "approved of God," and endowed with divine gifts, but yet a mere human being. Mark, the earliest of the gospel biographers, mentions no miraculous or virgin birth at all, either of Jesus or of John; Mark is therefore a potent witness 'ab silentio' against the controverted fact. Luke, after quoting Gabriel in chapter 1(28-36 ), seems to forget all about him in chapter 2: where he simply relates that Joseph went from Nazareth to Bethlehem "to be taxed, with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. ... And she brought forth her firstborn son" (Luke 2: 5, 7 ). Luke also relates the visit of Simeon to the temple to see the Child. Simeon indulged in ecstasies very like those of Gabriel. It is recorded: "And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him" (Luke 2: 33 ). Why should they marvel at what they already knew from Gabriel? It is evidence that Gabriel hadn't told them, and that they knew the child was their own son.
John says not a word of miraculous or virgin birth; he says: "I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God [Yahveh]" (John 1: 34 ). But what John meant by "Son of God" he has previously defined, and the expression is clearly shown by his own words to be used in a metaphorical, or Pickwickian, sense -- for all believers are sons of God: "But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name [even the devils believe and tremble]: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (1: 12, 13 ).
Thus two of the four gospel biographers wholly ignore -- and so tacitly deny -- any pretence of miraculous or virgin birth -- the most transcendent dogma of later Christian faith; and Paul and Peter, the greatest authors of dogma, expressly declare Jesus to have been of purely human procreation and birth -- "made of the seed of David according to the flesh" -- as he could not have been if of Yahvistic paternity. And if he was not, through Joseph, "of the seed of David," every inspired "prophecy of the Messiah" fails utterly.
THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM
The signs and portents attendant upon the miraculous birth of Joshua-Jesus give occasion for another clash between the inspirations of Matthew and of Luke, and lead into several tangles. Matthew alone of the four gospel historians relates that mysterious phenomenon of the heavens, the "star of Bethlehem"; and so relates it that we know it never was seen by eye of "wise men" or foolish, but was only a vision of inspired imagination. The East was celebrated for its zeal in the science of astronomy; but never an astronomer of Eastern antiquity saw or recorded that extraordinary star. Nor did anyone else ever see it, outside the mind's eye, as is evident enough from the inspired account of it.
In his second chapter Matthew essays to tell how certain "wise men from the east" (but from where in the East he does not say) came to Jerusalem "when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea," and went about asking: "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? "for," they explained, "we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him" (2: 1, 2 ).
It is clear therefore, that this "star" was no bright and flaming sidereal luminary; it was not visible on the meridian of Jerusalem; no one but the "wise men" is recorded to have seen it at all; and they saw it only "in the east." Proof of this is that Herod "was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him" (2: 3 ) when they heard about the strange star. Herod "gathered all the chief priests and scribes," and inquired about the alleged new King of the Jews (2: 4 ); then he "privily called the wise men," and "enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared" (2: 7 ). Neither Herod nor any of "all Jerusalem" had seen this marvel or there would have been no need to "diligently enquire" as to the when and where of the phenomenon, which had now entirely disappeared from human view, else Herod could have seen it for himself.
It is clear too that this "star" was not the guiding pilot that it is popularly supposed to have been, leading the "Wise men" from the East to Jerusalem, or to the new-born King. It is not visible in Jerusalem; the "wise men" claimed only to "have seen his star in the east," somewhere far away. And they came to Jerusalem (not "to Bethlehem where the child was"), wholly ignorant of his whereabouts; so that they had to go about asking anybody they met on the streets, just as a stranger in town asks the corner policeman: "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" (2: 2 ). How these pagan down-easters were inspired to know or care anything about an unheard-of baby King of the Jews, or to know what the alleged "star in the east" signified with respect to him, and to journey across the burning deserts to "worship" him is curious to inquire, but is not revealed. Nor was the miraculous "star" itself very revealing. Though hung up in the Eastern skies for their own special benefit and guidance, it led them not to the Babe King in Bethlehem, nor even to Jerusalem; they had to go about and ask: "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" But no one in all Jerusalem had seen the star or knew of the new-born King.
The sequel proves that wicked Herod was now himself to be "numbered among the prophets"; for he "gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together," and "demanded of them [a very curious and 'inspired' sort of question] where Christ should be born?" (2: 4 ). Surely Herod never asked such a question. It was thirty-odd years afterwards that (to believe the story at all) Jesus was first "Christ"-ened, or "anointed," and thus first became "Christ," or "the Anointed." Unless Herod was inspired by prophetic vision, and could foresee thirty-odd years into the future, and behold in his mind's eye the very variously related incident of the woman breaking the alabaster box of ointment over the head -- or the feet -- of the Babe of Bethlehem, he could not ask such a question; and we may be sure that he did not. It is Luke who says that the Babe was born in a manger; Matthew declares that the "wise men" came "into the house" where the Child and mother were (Matt. 2: 11 ) and gave their presents. Luke says the Child was "laid ... in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2: 7 ). But there were no inns in Jewry at that time; the story betrays its fabrication by some Greek Father in a foreign country, who knew nothing of such details.
As the star had not led them right, the "wise men" had to pursue their quest for the object of their search. It required the whole assemblage of priestly wiseacres of Jerusalem to answer, by the aid of an errant prophecy, that the "Governor" was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea (2: 5, 6 ). And even now the "star" did not help or guide them to their goal. It was Herod himself, when he got the report of the priestly conclave, who "sent them to Bethlehem" (2: 8 ) to find the young Child, and return and report to him.
Then, "when they had heard the king, they departed" (2: 9 ) on their now well-directed way; and 'mirabile dictu,' "lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was" (2: 9 ). Thus the wonderful star, till now wonderfully inefficient as a guide when the Wise Men needed guidance across the deserts, now when it was no longer needed as a guide, Herod himself having located the place, flared up before their eyes and flitted along before them on their journey to Bethlehem, a little suburban town just across the creek from Jerusalem.
This fabled "star of Bethlehem" was evidently merely a sort of flighty will-o'-the-wisp, not a regular star; for the nearest star in the heavens is some twenty trillions of miles away from earth, where it can be seen of all men, wise or otherwise, and neither goes before people, to guide them where they do not need a guide, nor comes and stands for their accommodation when they get there. However, it is curious to note that the "wise men," who are said to have seen the star "in the east" before coming to Jerusalem, now seem to have seen it for the first time as they left Jerusalem and as it "went before them"' Bethlehem-ward; for, "when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy" (2: 10 ).
When the "wise men" had at last found the young Child, they duly worshipped it, and delivered their gifts; then, dreaming of some heavenly warning not to return to Herod, they "departed into their own country another way" (2: 12 ) -- so as to fool Herod, who was said to be awaiting their return to go himself and worship the baby King to be (2: 8 ). This is the faithful record of Matthew.
THE SHEPHERD CHOIR
But, according to the record of Luke, it did not happen this way at all. There was no star of Bethlehem; there were no "wise men" from the East; simply a group of lowly "shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2: 8 ). To them an anonymous angel came, scaring them very badly, and told them that "a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (thus again anticipating the anointing), was born unto them that day. And of a sudden a whole angel choir, a "multitude of the heavenly host," winged down to earth from the heavens, over 1,000,000 light years away, and sang wondrously in the cold night air: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (2: 13, 14 ) -- an angelic prophecy never yet realized on this war-racked, hate- filled earth. It was the shepherds, according to Luke, who came with haste to Bethlehem to investigate the angelic report; and when they had found "the babe lying in a manger," they straightway broadcast the news throughout all those parts (2: 16, 17 ). The reader may choose whether to accept Matthew's star or Luke's angel choir. It is curious to note that in Matthew every communication regarding the Child Jesus is through dreams; in Luke through the agency of angels -- but both alike unreal.
THE NOCTURNAL FLIGHT TO EGYPT
Another highly important conflict of inspiration occurs here, in connection with the early life of the Child Jesus. Mark, who wrote first, omits all the childhood of his subject, beginning his biography with "the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1: 1 ). But Matthew seeks to supply many items -- as is not infrequent with biographers. The cherry-tree episode of the youthful Father of his Country is an instance. But Matthew's "sources" were not ample, or his imagination lagged; so he sends the Holy Family and the Child to Egypt for some years, in fulfilment, he says, of another "prophecy," which we have elsewhere seen was not one at all. In any event, Luke says it was not true, as we shall presently see.
According to Matthew, immediately after the '(wise men" had departed for their own country, as a result of their dream of warning (Matt. 2: 12 ), another dream caused another hegira, thus related:
"When they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night [that same night], and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son." (Matt. 2: 13-15 )
They stayed in Egypt until after the death of Herod, some unknown time later. Then they were told to return (Matt. 2: 20 ) in the same words in which Yahveh had commanded Moses to return to Egypt (Ex. 4: 19 ).
We have already examined the so-called "Out of Egypt" prophecy of Hosea (Hos. 11: 1 ), and have seen that it meant nothing whatever about Jesus. It is pleasing to know from Luke that we are right on this point. For Luke goes inspiredly into the young life of the Child, and relates it in no little detail. We see Luke's shepherds find the Babe in his manger (Luke 2: 16 ); then, still there, eight days afterwards the Child is circumcised and named Jesus (2: 21 ); and then the Virgin Mother, dogmatized as immaculate and ever-pure, remained there for another thirty-three days, purging herself for her "purification according to the law of Moses" (2: 22; Lev. 12: 2-4 ). Then followed the several visits of Simeon (2: 25-35 ) and of Anna (2: 36-38 ), how long they lasted being unrevealed. Before either of the visits, however we have at least forty days in which the Child remained in his lowly Bethlehem manger, instead of flitting to Egypt the night of the visit of the Magi. All this time, too, the Immaculate Mother of God was "unclean" by the holy law, and could not so much as touch her own Holy Child (Lev. 12: 4 ) -- a truly godly prohibition to a mother with a new born babe. And then, Luke assures us: "When they had performed all things according to the law of Yahveh, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth" (2: 39 ).
So they did not flee into Egypt, as Matthew records. For upon returning directly to their home in Nazareth (Luke 2: 39 ), there they remained throughout the childhood and youth of their son Jesus, and there "the child grew, and waxed strong" (2: 40 ), never leaving home except once a year to go to Jerusalem with his parents, says Luke:
"Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast." (Luke 2: 41, 42 )
And they took the young Jesus along with them, at least on this occasion, for "when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it" (2: 43 ), and did not discover that the child was missing until the next day: "But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey" (2: 44 ). Not finding him, "they turned back again to Jerusalem," and "after three days" of search, "they found him in the temple" arguing with the doctors (2: 45, 46 ). So for at least twelve years there was no midnight flight to Egypt to escape Herod; and they could not have remained there "until the death of Herod" (Matt. 2: 15 ), for Herod died in the year 4 AD, during the twelve years that the Holy Family remained at home in Nazareth, as Luke testifies. That Jesus was not born in the year 1 of his era, but some 6 to 10 years BC, is now generally known.
There in the temple, when the Child was found, Mary herself positively denies the divine paternity of her Child, and rightly calls Joseph its father; for when she found the Child, she said: "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father [Joseph] and I have sought thee sorrowing" (2: 48 ). Jesus here seems to deny the paternity of Joseph, saying: "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (2: 49 ) or, as the Revised Version honestly translates: "I must be in my Father's house." But both Joseph and Mary "understood not the saying which he spake unto them" (2: 50 ) -- thus proving that they knew him for their own flesh-and-blood Child, and had no thought or knowledge of the dogma of divine paternity.
Even now they did not go to Egypt, for "he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them" (2: 51 ). And there he remained until he began to teach and preach when he "began to be about thirty years old," after his baptism by John. So the prophecy "Out of Egypt have I called my Son" is shown to be another instance of errant inspiration.
Here we may notice another radical contradiction. Luke makes Joseph and his family residents of Nazareth, and says they went from there to Bethlehem to be taxed, and then "they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth" (Luke 2: 4, 5, 39 ). But Matthew makes Joseph and his family resident in Bethlehem, whence they fled into Egypt. When Herod was dead, they returned and "came into the land of Israel" (Matt. 2: 21 ), but hearing that Archelaus was king in Judea, in which Bethlehem is situated, "he was afraid to go thither." After another dream-warning "he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth" (Matt. 2: 22, 23 ), that another specious prophecy might be fulfilled. This indicates that Galilee was outside of Herod's kingdom, and discredits the story of the family's going to Bethlehem "to be taxed," because Judea and Galilee were separate governments, and people are always taxed in their own country, not in a foreign land.
THE "MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS"
The amazing statement of Matthew that when Herod "saw that he was mocked of the wise men, [he] was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under" (Matt. 2: 16; may be dismissed with bare mention. That a Roman king, under the great Roman peace of the golden age of Augustus, could execute such a wholesale massacre of the subjects of the empire proves itself impossible. No human history records such a massacre in Judea; not even Josephus, who relates in forty chapters of his Antiquities of the Jews the most trifling details of the life and reign of Herod and dilates upon his many crimes, has a word of this tremendous murderous event. But why argue such a statement of even an inspired author? The story, moreover, involves other serious contradictions. Matthew says that Herod commanded the massacre of all the children of the district "from two years old and under"; consequently Jesus was at least two years old at the time, and, curiously enough, Herod must have patiently waited quite two years after being "mocked of the wise men," before he got so "exceeding wroth" as to commit this amazing, and unrecorded, crime. Nor was there any need for this long wait and general massacre: Herod could easily have caught the child in Jerusalem, for just after the "purification" "they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to Yahveh" in the temple (Luke 2: 22, 27 ). But, what is more serious, the massacre never occurred at all; for Luke expressly asserts that immediately after the forty days "purification" of the Immaculate Virgin, and after the visits of Simeon and Anna, Joseph and Mary "returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth," and remained there continuously. This wholly discounts Matthew's visit of the Magi, the flight to Egypt, the "mocking" of Herod, and Herod's massacre of the Innocents. So this bloody blot is removed from wicked Herod's escutcheon.
JOHN AND THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
The first thing recorded by inspiration in regard to Jesus -- after his return from Egypt, or after be did not go to Egypt but "began to be about thirty years old" at home in the carpenter's shop of Nazareth is his reputed baptism by his cousin John the Baptist, in the Jordan. John himself is the subject of much uncertainty, into which we may for a moment inquire. His paternity is involved in curious obscurity, very like that of ancient Isaac. His parents were "both now well stricken in years," and his mother was "barren," like old Sarah. Angels, too, had to come and prophesy a child to them and some sort of divine agency is apparent in the fulfillment of the prophecy, for the child was "filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb" (Luke 1: 5-15 ). By special orders of Gabriel the child was named John; he wasn't really John, however, but, miraculously, the ancient prophet Elijah, alias Elias -- if his cousin Jesus is to be believed against the positive denial of the Baptist. For Jesus, inspired with all truth, says and repeats explicitly of John: "This is Elias, which was for to come" (Matt. 11: 14; 17: 11-13 ); and Matthew to prove it -- as if the word of Jesus needed proof -- invokes a prophecy of Malachi: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahveh" (Mal. 4: 5 ). But John as categorically twice denies the imputation:
"And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No." (John 1: 20, 21 )
So with this positive "He is" of Jesus and the equally positive "I am not" of John, who ought to know, we must leave the identity of the Baptist in doubt, but the "great and dreadful day of Yahveh" did not come in John's time, nor did Jesus fulfil the role of him of whom Elijah was to be the precursor. We pass to the proofs of the baptism and some of its contrary incidents. Matthew tells us:
"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea [and many came], And were baptized of him in Jordan. ... Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now. ... Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matt. 3: 1, 6, 13-17 )
So John the Baptist knew and recognized Jesus, talked with him, and modestly protested against baptizing the Son of Yahveh, "whose shoes I am not worthy to bear" (3: 11 ); and John saw the dove from heaven, and heard the voice from heaven proclaiming the God-Man. Mark (1: 9-11 ), Luke (3: 21, 22 ), and John (1: 25-32 ), all relate the same inspired incident, and John the Evangelist, whose "record is true," as he himself admits, emphasizes the Baptist's knowledge of the divine identity of Jesus, and quotes the Baptist as proclaiming his knowledge that it was the Christ who came to him to be baptized -- but whom he evidently did not baptize, for he does not mention this, which would have been the most signal event of his life. Let us try to get this straight; the story is very tangled. The Evangelist John, first speaking of, then quoting John the Baptist, says: "John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This is he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me ... And of his fullness have we received, and grace for grace" (John 1: 15, 16 ). John could not have said this; it was before the alleged baptism of Jesus, and before Jesus began his "ministry of grace," and hence could not have been said at that time. The Baptist is further quoted by the Evangelist as declaring to sundry Pharisees who came to ask who he was and why he baptized: "John answered them, saying, ... There standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me" (John 1: 24-27 ). This a clear and unequivocal recognition by the Baptist of the Christ.
The Evangelist then says: "These things were done in Beth- abara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing" (John 1: 28 ). The Greek Father who wrote this tale did not know Jewish geography; there is no such place in Jewry as Beth-abara; it was in Perea, far from the Jordan. So the Revised Version changes the name to Bethany; but this does not help, as Bethany is a suburb of Jerusalem and not "beyond Jordan," nor near the Jordan. The Evangelist proceeds: "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me" (John 1: 29, 30 ) -- another explicit recognition. Then the Baptist twice says: "And I knew him not" (John 1: 31, 33 ), until he saw the promised "sign" of the dove descending from heaven upon Jesus (John 1: 32, 33 ). Upon seeing the sign, John says: "I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God" (John 1: 34 ). But he says not a word of a miraculous voice from heaven proclaiming: "This is my beloved Son," nor records that he baptized Jesus; a rare omission on both points, for John is the only one of the disciples who was present at the scene. If John heard the voice from heaven, he evidently did not believe it, as his next recorded action proves.
Notwithstanding all the foregoing explicit testimonials, inspiration contradicts them all, makes it clear that John did not baptize or even know Jesus, and makes John have to send a special embassy from prison to Jesus to inquire about his identity:
"Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" (Matt. 11: 2, 3; Luke 7: 18-20 )
The clearest inference from this passage is that the Baptist did not baptize or even know Jesus, his own cousin, and did not "bear record" that "this is he who cometh after me" -- "this is the Son of God." So whether Jesus was ever really baptized at all is very doubtful. John the Baptist certainly, on the gospel word of two of the four gospel biographers, did not baptize him; for he could not have done so and borne such witness, and then forget all about it, and send to inquire as about a total stranger.
Naturally the Baptist could not have "heard in the prison the works of Christ" (Matt. 11: 2 ) until the Christ had begun his ministry and had performed "works" or miracles -- so that, says Luke, "this rumor of him went forth throughout all Judea and throughout all the region round about. And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things" (Luke 7: 17, 18 ). And Matthew confirms the idea that the imprisonment of John was after Jesus had chosen and commissioned his disciples and had started his preaching tour (Matt. 11: 1 ), though be seems to contradict this in an earlier chapter, saying immediately after the account of the temptation in the wilderness: "Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee" (Matt.4: 12 ), and "From that time Jesus began to preach" (Matt. 4: 17 ) -- thus beginning his ministry after John was in prison. But John the Evangelist contradicts this; according to him, Jesus had called his disciples and turned water into wine at Cana (John 2: 1, 2 ); had travelled around Galilee and Judea (John 2: 12, 13 ); had cleansed the temple (John 2: 14-16 ); had performed many miracles at the Passover in Jerusalem (John 2: 23 ); and had come with his disciples again to Judea, and baptized (John 3: 22 ). "And John also was baptizing in Enon ... For John was not yet cast into prison" (John 3: 23, 24 )! Luke records that just after John had begun his preaching and baptizing, and had announced that "one mightier than I cometh" (Luke 2: 16 ), Herod the tetrarch, "being reproved" by John, "shut up John in prison" (Luke 3: 19, 20 ) -- thus before Jesus was baptized (by whom does not appear; Luke 3: 21, 22 ), and before the temptations in the wilderness (Luke 4: 1-13 ). But Mark says that the imprisonment of John was after the temptations and before be began to preach; for he records the temptations (Mark 1: 12, 13 ), and declares: "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee preaching" (Mark 1: 13, 14 ).
THE TEMPTATION IN THE WILDERNESS
Most bizarre of the recorded events of the life of the Christ, the "mighty One of Jacob," the "Prince of Peace," the "Son of God," are his unique adventures with the Devil in the wilderness of Judea and other places. Immediately after the dubious baptism above noticed, the three synoptists say that Jesus was either "led" (Matt. 4: 1; Luke 4: 1 ) or "driven" (Mark 1: 12 ) by the spirit of God into the wilderness "to be tempted of the Devil"; but they no sooner get him there than all sense of "harmony" is lost, and with vivid picturesqueness of inspiration and quaint and varied embellishment of detail they diversely draw the picture of the "strong Son of God" in the toils of the Evil One.
Mark wrote the story first; he relates the baptism of Jesus, and says "immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; ... and the angels ministered unto him" (Mark 1: 12, 13 ). Thus the temptings were during the forty days; the "angels ministered unto him" food and drink, but not a word of the manner or eerie form of the temptations is hinted. But such a prosaic account does not suit the vivid inspiration of Matthew: "And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him" (Matt. 4: 2, 3 ) -- thus Jesus wasn't ministered to by the angels; and the temptations were not during forty well-fed days, but after forty days and nights of fasting and hunger. Luke mixes both temptations and fasting; he says that Jesus was "forty days tempted of the devil" (Luke 4: 2 ); that is, he was being tempted daily during the forty days. "And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said to him" (Luke 4: 2, 3 ) -- thus the first temptation, after forty days of temptations.
Mark gives no details of the temptations, but Matthew revels in them, as is his wont, as also does Luke, differently. Both make the first temptation after the forty-day fast, and appropriately, being hungry and in the desert, it was: "Command that these stones be made bread" (Matt. 4: 3 ); but Luke says the Devil said: "If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread" (Luke 4: 3 ).
But now we have the most amazing spectacle on record: the great fiend of hell, like a monster sinister pterodactyl, seizes the poor bleating "Lamb of God," the mighty "Lion of Judah" -- pardon the inspired mixed metaphors -- tucks him under his vast wing or dangles him from a mighty claw, springs from earth into the air, and with soaring, flight heads for the Holy City, circles with diabolic sweep of wing over the heads of the gaping populace, swoops down upon the holy temple, and perches the captive Son of God "on a pinnacle of the temple" (Matt. 4: 5; Luke 4: 9 ). This is Matthew's second, Luke's third temptation; the Devil, according to both, tempting his victim to cast himself down to the street below, so that the angels might break his fall. Then, says Luke, the temptations ended, and the Devil departed for a season (4: 13 ). Both Matthew and Luke say "upon a pinnacle of the temple"; but no Jew could have written that, even without inspiration, for the sacred pile had but one pinnacle. After 1800 years the Holy Ghost discovered its architectural mistake, and in the Revised Version substituted "the" for "a." The Catholic Version hasn't yet done so.
The temptations must have happened in a certain order, which even inspiration couldn't alter -- but Matthew's third is Luke's second. The Satanic cicerone with his divine burden wings his cloud-like flight to the top of an "exceeding high mountain"' whence in vast panorama -- Luke says: "in a moment of time" (4: 5 ) -- could be seen "all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them" (Matt. 4: 8 ); and all these kingdoms, some of them in the America of the Incas and Montezumas, the Devil showed the God, and offered to him, for, he said, "that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will, I give it." Comment on this bit of inspiration is supererogatory.
But this amazing spectacle was never presented to eye of Christ or man, if we believe the inspired author of the Gospel of John, and Jesus was never in the wilderness with the Devil at all. After recording the descending of the dove upon Jesus (without the voice from heaven or the baptism), it is declared that "the next day after" occurred the episode of Andrew and Simon Peter (John 1: 35-42 ); and that "the day following" occurred the incident of Philip and Nathaniel (John 1: 43-51 ). "And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; ... and both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage" (John 2: 1, 2 ), and were there present; and there Jesus did his first miracle, making water into wine. He could not have been in the wilderness, a hungered and thirsty, with the Devil, while he was with the demon rum at a party in town. Thus the historicity of the temptation in the wilderness is seriously discounted, and inspiration is badly out of joint.
THE APOSTLES CHOSEN
The "calling of the Apostles" should, it would seem, be one of the simplest narratives that truth-inspired gospel historians could relate if they knew what they were talking about, or were inspired. But it is as sadly mixed and muddled as any narrative in the books, when there is more than one inspired recorder of the same alleged fact -- for no two ever tell the same thing the same way.
Matthew is inspired to relate that immediately after the baptism by John, and the fantastic "temptation in the wilderness" by the Devil, Jesus, "leaving Nazareth. ... came and dwelt in Capernaum" (Matt. 4: 13 ) -- a town of which the identity and even the existence are dubious -- in order to fulfil another pretended prophecy. "From that time Jesus began to preach" (4: 17 ). And Jesus, "walking by the sea of Galilee" (evidently alone), saw two fishermen, brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, "casting a net into the sea"; and he saith unto them: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men"; and the two "straightway left their nets, and followed him" (Matt. 4: 18-20 ). Then, the three "going on from thence" -- or, as Mark says, "when he had gone a little farther thence" (Mark 1: 19 ), showing that it was not at the same point where he had met Peter and Andrew -- he saw two other fishermen who were brothers, James and John Zebedee, "in a ship mending their nets"; and "he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him" (4: 21, 22 ); and they "went about all Galilee teaching" (4: 23 ).
Thus we have two separate and distinct pairs of fishermen, found successively some distance apart, both pairs expressly "called" by Jesus, and straightway leaving their jobs and following a total stranger on a novel kind of man-fishing expedition.
But Matthew's persistent contradiction of Luke relates the incident quite differently, but by the same inspiration. In his chapter 5, Jesus, now evidently in a big crowd, "as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God," "stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets" (5: 1, 2 ) -- not here "casting their nets into the sea," as Matthew says. And Luke says that at the bidding of the stranger, Jesus, Simon the fisher let down his net, and "inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake" (5: 6 ); and the fish "filled both ships, so that they began to sink" (5: 7 ). But John says there were only 153 fishes, but big ones, "and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken" (John 21: 11 ). Aren't fishermen the liars! This happened at the very beginning of Jesus' ministry -- just after he had gone to Simon's house and healed Simon's mother-in-law (Luke 4: 38, 39 ), but before Jesus met and "called" Simon (Luke 5: 1-10 ). John, however, says that it was after the resurrection, on the occasion of his "third appearance" (John 21: 14 ). Aren't evangelists inspired!
But to return to the contradictory accounts of the "calling." Jesus "entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship" (5: 3 ). And James and John, the Zebedees, were there with Peter and Andrew -- "their partners, which were in the other ship" (5: 7 ); and it is repeated, for our greater credence: "James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon" (5: 10 ). And here it was that "Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from hence forth thou shalt catch men" (5: 10 ). Then (after a fish story extraordinary, which we shall soon tell), "when they had brought their ships to land, they [all four together] forsook all, and followed him" (5: 2 ) -- this time without being "called" or asked at all. So Matthew and Luke here again inspiredly contradict each other; but again John breaks into the narrative and flatly contradicts them both.
And this is the "true record" of the "calling" -- which was not a calling at all. John the Baptist was beside the Jordan, baptizing all comers; and as "John stood, and two of his disciples" (John 1: 35 ) -- there by Jordan, and not on the Sea of Galilee or Lake Gennesaret -- Jesus walked by, evidently all alone; and [John] "looking upon Jesus as he walked, [John] saith, Behold the Lamb of God!" (1: 36 ). And John's "two disciples heard him [John] speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabb1: ... where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see" (1: 37-39 ). And the two went home with Jesus "and abode with him that day."
Here comes the most surprising feature of this inspired record: "One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him [Jesus], was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother!" (1: 40 ) -- here following John by the Jordan, not fishing with Brother Simon on the Sea of Galilee. And Simon Peter was not there fishing either. For Andrew, says John, then went off somewhere and "findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah. ... And he brought him to Jesus" (1: 41, 42 ). No truly inspired records could possibly be more diverse than these three; two of them must undeniably be wholly untrue. But it is a safe assertion that Andrew did not say to Peter, as he is quoted to have said: "I have found the Messiah." It was on the very next day (1: 35 ) after the uncertain baptism of Jesus by John, at the very beginning of the public activities of Jesus, that this scene is laid; Jesus was not Messiah, or Christ (1: 41 ), until he was "anointed" long afterward. Jesus beheld Simon and said to him: "Thou art Simon the son of Jona" (John 1: 42 ). Later he addresses him as "Simon, son of Jonas" (John 21: 15 ). The Revised Version in both passages reads "Simon, son of John"; but the two names are not the same, or even related. Jona (Jonah) and Jonas mean "a dove"; John means "grace of God." Inspiration is here sadly at loggerheads with itself, even on the highly important point of the "calling" of Simon Peter the fisherman to be the founder of the whole apostolic succession.
Before leaving the apostles to shift for themselves, we may briefly notice several other flaws of inspiration relating to them. Matthew, who was one of them, surely ought to know his own name, and how he came to be numbered among the chosen Twelve. We have seen already the conflicting accounts given by him and by Luke and John as to the "calling" -- or volunteering -- of Andrew, Peter, James and John. As for himself, Matthew says modestly: "And as Jesus passed forth from thence [where be had healed the man with the palsy], he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom; and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him" (Matt. 9: 9 ), But Mark tells us that "as [Jesus] passed by [after the healing], he saw Le6: the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom," and called him (2: 14 ). And Luke (5: 27 ) corroborates Mark, as usual contradicting Matthew, even as to his own name.
This little tangle does not end here: Matthew gives a list of the twelve apostles; among the others he lists "Matthew the publican"; two Simons, one surnamed Peter, the other the Canaanite (the whole race of Canaanites having been exterminated by Joshua); two Jameses, the son of Alphieus, and the son of Zebedee; and one "Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus" (10: 2-4 ). Luke omits Lebbaeus, and substitutes a second "Judas, the brother of James," besides Judas Iscariot (6: 16 ). So we do not really know who composed the Twelve.
As for James, his identity is very confused, as is also that of the second Judas. Matthew (13: 55 ) and Mark (6: 3 ) say that both James and Judas were sons of the Virgin Mary and brothers of Jesus; and Paul affirms that James was "the Lord's brother" (Gal. 1: 19 ). But later both Matthew (27: 56 ) and Mark (15: 40 ) contradict themselves and say that this James was the son of some other Mary. If James and Jesus were sons of the Virgin Mary, their father was of course Joseph the carpenter; but Matthew (10: 3 ) and Mark (3: 18 ) say that James and Judas were the sons of Alphaeus. If they were the sons of Alphaeus, they were brothers of Matthew, alias Le6: the publican; for Mark declares (2: 14 ) that Levi was the son of Alphaeus. Judas, according to Luke (6: 16 ), was "the brother of James"; the Revised Version says: "Judas, the son of James." James is not once mentioned in the gospel of his brother John.
Again, Matthew and John, as we have seen, represent the Twelve picked up, one, two, or four at a time, at various times and places; but Mark and Luke say that they were all chosen together at one and the same time, from a large number of disciples: Jesus "went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles" (Luke 6: 12, 13; Mark 3: 13, 14 ); and then follows the list of names we have just seen to differ from the other two lists. So the whole matter of the apostles is left a puzzle, except in one point, the personal character of these sainted gospel propagandists.
APOSTOLIC GREED AND STRIFE
Two of them, Peter and John, are expressly declared to be "unlearned and ignorant men" (Acts 4: 13 ); all twelve were of the same type and well matched. They were variously picked up from among the humblest and most superstitious of the Jews of the time, naked fishermen and peasants, "called" personally, we are told, by the Son of Yahveh, the King of the Jews, to be his counsellors and friends in the establishment of his earthly and heavenly kingdoms. They saw this carpenter's Son of Nazareth acclaimed by the desert dervish John as the Son of Yahveh, the long-promised and never- realized Messiah, the King of the Jews. This John was the own cousin of Jesus, born within six months of Jesus' birth, and brought up in intimate association; yet John avers and repeats: "I knew him not," until the dove flew down and lighted on him (John 1: 29-34 ), and thus gave divine "sign" of the truth of his claim. But any signs are good to the ignorant and superstitious; and none at all are needed to gather followers for curiosity or hope of reward.
The hope of reward was the inspiredly recorded motive of these peasants who left their petty crafts for greater profit by following the lowly king-to-be. The greed and zeal for personal aggrandizement of the chosen Twelve is constantly revealed throughout. Hardly had the Twelve got organized and into action before the cunning and crafty Peter, acting as spokesman, boldly advanced the itching palm: "Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?" (Matt. 19: 27 ). Here for once is complete "harmony of the gospels"; all three record the demand and the promise of reward, though still variantly (Mark 10: 28; Luke 18: 28 ). The Master responded splendidly with the promise: "Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19: 28 ) -- which seems to indicate that the ten tribes were not so lost as has been generally supposed. Still, this reward of reigning in future glory was naturally dampening to the spirits of those who had abandoned fishnets and the like to follow one proclaimed King of the Jews, whose earthly throne was to be established forever, there on earth. The other two inspired recorders assert that the promise was for reward both on earth and in the hereafter: that they should "receive an hundredfold now in this time; ... and in the world to come eternal life" (Mark 10: 30; Luke 18: 30 ). But even these brilliant rewards could not satisfy the greed of the holy ones, and led, not to gratitude, but to greater greed and strife.
The mother of James and John, probably inspired by them, and zealous for their greater glory, came secretly, with her two sons, to Jesus, "worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him"; and when Jesus asked her what it was, "She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom" (Matt. 20: 20, 21 ). But Mark contradicts the assurance of Matthew that it was Mrs. Zebedee who made the request; and says that "James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire," and themselves stated their modest demand for preferment (Mark 10: 35-37 ) -- which, if granted, would have ousted Yahveh God from his proper seat (Mark 16:: 19 ). But both agree that "when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren" (Matt. 20: 24; Mark 10: 41 ).
Nor during the whole year or two of association with their Master did these holy apostles abate their greed and strife. Several disputes are recorded among them as to "who should be greatest" among them (Matt. 18: 1; Mark 9: 33, 34; Luke 9: 46 ). Here again the gospels harmonize in asserting the constant disharmony of the apostles. Even at the Last Supper, when Jesus had announced that one of them would that night betray him to death, "there was also strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest" (Luke 22: 24,). And great was the disgust of the Master at his miserable apostles, and especially at the craven and crafty Peter. When first Jesus began to foretell that he must be put to death -- thus putting an end to their hopes of reward -- Peter, more knowing than his own Lord, "began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee"; and Jesus turned on him with blasting scorn, "and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me" (Matt. 16: 22, 23 ); and again the gospels are in harmony (Mark 8: 33 ). Such are the holy apostles of Jesus Christ, painted by some of themselves through inspiration. This "Satan" Peter, later self-appointed "Saint" Peter, deserves our mention again.
But we shall now point out some other of the more glaring contradictions and obviously impossible truths of the inspired gospels. All their fables and superstitions it is impossible on account of their number even to mention. We limit instances to reputed incidents of the life of Christ.
OTHER APOSTOLIC TANGLES
Immediately after the calling of Peter, Andrew, James, and John, according to Mark (1: 16-20 ), "they went into Capernaum ... and entered the synagogue, and taught" (1: 21 ); but Luke says that Jesus went to Capernaum and taught in the synagogue alone (4: 31 ) and before "calling" these four fishermen (5: 1-11 ). Jesus plaintively said that the foxes have holes and the birds have nests, but "the son of man hath not where to lay his head" (Luke 9: 58 ), as if he were a homeless wanderer and outcast. Mark, however, tells us that "as Jesus sat at meat in his own house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples" (2: 15 ). This was his permanent dwelling house; for "leaving Nazareth he came and dwelt in Capernaum" (Matt. 4: 13 ). According to this, Jesus had a spacious home, and could entertain large companies, though Luke says the dinner was given by Levi in his own house (Luke 5: 29 ).
Before the "calling" of the Twelve Jesus performed no miracles, according to John, for "the third day" after his baptism Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding in Cana, and there Jesus turned the water into wine. "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana" (John 2: 1-11 ). But according to all the others, as we have seen, Jesus did not go to Cana and perform there his first miracle, but into the wilderness for forty days; and according to Matthew (4: 18-23 ) and Mark (14: 12-20, et seq.), immediately after the temptation Jesus "called" the first four disciples and then began his miracles in Capernaum. But Luke brings him to Capernaum, gives him a long list of miracles, and reports his casting out devils and healing Peter's mother-in-law and his preaching throughout Galilee (Luke 4: 31-44 ) before he "called" the big four (5: 1-11 ).
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT -- OR THE PLAN
The Sermon on the Mount is the most beautiful and lofty discourse in Christian history. Very little of it is original; as the marginal references show, a great part of it is the stringing together of odd scraps of moralizing taken bodily from the Old Testament. Matthew sets it out in extenso, and lays the scene just after the temptation in the wilderness, and the "calling" of Peter, Andrew, James, and John, but before the "calling" of Levi (Matt. 5-7; 9: 9 ). According to Luke (5: 27; 6: 17-20 ) it was after Levi was "called." He declares that "seeing the multitudes, [Jesus] went up into a mountain: and, when be was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying" (Matt. 5: 1, 2 ) -- here following in three chapters the justly celebrated sermon.
But Luke tells the whole affair quite differently. It was not on the mountain, where Jesus spoke seated; it was down in the plain, where Jesus stood and spoke. It was after all the Twelve had been chosen and commissioned, which, according to Luke, as we have seen, took place while Jesus was up on the mount in prayer all night (Luke 6: 12-16 ). Then, "He came down with [the Twelve], and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people" (6: 17 ). There, standing, "he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said" (6: 20 ) -- and here follows the selfsame sermon but abbreviated. Again inspiration clashes with inspiration, and we are left in doubt of truth.
THIS LORD'S PRAYER
A beautiful part of Matthew's Sermon on the Mount is the Lord's prayer. Jesus told the multitude of the vain public prayers of the heathen and of the hypocrites, and said: "Be not ye therefore like unto them. ... After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven," etc. (Matt. 6: 8, 9 ) Luke again gives a different origin for this cherished story; laying the scene long after the Sermon on the Mount or the Plain, under totally different circumstances, and making it a prayer delivered as a model, on request, to only a few disciples. As if by plenary inspiration Luke says: "And it came to pass, that, as [Jesus] was praying in a certain place, when he ceased one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them. When ye pray, say, Our Father," etc. (Luke 11: 1-2 ).
Every circumstance of the two origins is in conflict. Even this masterpiece of devotion is in two totally different settings, and in two different versions -- and like the whole sennon, is a composite of ancient sayings of the Scriptures. It is said to be practically identical with the Kaddish of the Talmud.
Let us witness the much celebrated "Christening" or anointing of the Messiah-King of the Jews. Inspiration is strangely at variance as to when and where it happened, and how. If the great Yahveh of heaven had sent his only begotten Son on special mission to earth as the long-prophesied Messiah, to re-establish the throne of David forever and sit upon it as king, it was a very sorry ceremonial, at best, for the anointing of a king, earthly or heavenly.
Matthew states that two days before the Passover (at which he was to be betrayed) "Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper"; and "there came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat"; whereat "his disciples ... had indignation" for the waste (Matt. 26: 6-8 ). Mark's account is the same, in substance (Mark 14: 1-4 ), but he specifies that the box of ointment was "of spikenard, very precious" (14: 3 ), and that only "some" of the disciples were annoyed at the waste. Both lay the scene, as we have seen, two day's before the last Passover at which Jesus was ever present, just before his betrayal and death and after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and in the house of Simon the leper.
But Luke (chapter 7 ) makes a very different story of it: the time was early in Jesus' ministry, just after John the Baptist had sent two of his disciples to Jesus, in the earliest days, to inquire: "Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?" (7: 19, 20 ). Then "one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house [in "a city called Nain" (7: 11 )], and sat down to meat" (7: 36 ). Now and here it was that "behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner" came in with the alabaster box of ointment; and she washed "his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them [his feet] with the ointment" (7: 37, 38 ). Nobody said anything about the waste -- the disciples were not even invited to the dinner. The Pharisee is here called Simon, but could not have been the leper, for lepers were "unclean," and no one would have eaten with them. Moreover this dinner was two years before the last Passover; and the feet, not the head, were anointed.
But the greatest surprise comes from the inspired record of John (chapter 12 ). The event takes place "six days before the Passover," and before the entry into Jerusalem and in the house of Lazarus "which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair" (12: 8 ). It was "one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot" (12: 4 ), who alone complained about the waste, and said that the ointment should have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor (12: 5 ). In chapter 11: John tells of a sick man named Lazarus and of "Mary and her sister Martha" (11: 1 ); and makes the positive identification: "It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair" (11: 2 ) -- though the story of her doing it is deferred until the next chapter. We are pardonably surprised to learn that it was this friend of Jesus who was the "woman of the city, which was a sinner" (Luke 7: 37 ), for we had not previously suspected her virtue, and had thought it was Mary Magdalene, the "soiled dove" out of whom he had "cast seven devils" (Mark 16: 9; Luke 8: 2 ). Inspiration is here again seriously at odds.
JESUS -- KING OF THE JEWS
The saddest, sorriest mockery in the reputed life of the humble Nazarene was his tawdry entry into Jerusalem as the arrived Messiah -- the King of the Jews. Great must have been the obsession, the delusion, of the poor Wayfarer, who had no place even to lay his head, and had to catch a fish to find a penny to pay his pittance of a poll-tax -- and must needs borrow an ass's colt to make his mock-triumphal entry into his kingdom -- for one day. The discrepancies of the four inspired accounts of it are rather trifling, but they exist, and may be noted in passing the pitiful scene.
In Matthew 21: Jesus having arrived, with disciples and a rabble, at Bethphage, by the Mount of Olives, sent "two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me" (21: 1, 2 ). The two disciples went and "brought the ass, and the colt [two animals], and put on them [both animals] their clothes, and they set him thereon" (21: 7 ) -- thus riding both ass and colt. The rabble followed behind, shouting Hosannas to their King (Mark 11: 10 ). Our poor Nazarene, the man who would be King, jogged with his shouting rabblement into Jerusalem, and all the city wondered, saying: "Who is this?" and for answer the rabble replied: "This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee" (Matt. 21: 10, 11 ). And with his inveterate habit of warping ancient sayings into "prophecies fulfilled by Jesus," Matthew says: "All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying. ... "Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass" (21: 4, 5 ). But after a big flourish of mock authority by driving the money-changers from the temple, the very same day, the uncrowned King "left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there" (21: 17 ). Years later, another king made a like grand flourish, and "... with four thousand men, Rode up the hill, and then rode down again."
The God-sent King who was to establish his kingdom and reign forever over Israel did not fulfill the principal part of the prophecy.
Mark, who wrote the story first, says that Jesus said: "Go your way into the village over against you and ... ye shall find a colt tied; ... bring him. ... And they brought the colt to Jesus" (Mark 21: 2, 7 ); but as this would not fulfill the prophecy of "an ass and a colt," Matthew, in copying Mark, added the ass and the prophecy. Luke tells only of the colt (Luke 19: 29-40 ). John, who tells us that he always tells the truth, says that it was "on the next day" (John 21: 12 ) after the "six days before the Passover" (12: 1 ) when Mary anointed the feet of Jesus; "much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel." Thus the city rabble took the initiative in the farce-comedy. John assures us: "These things understood not his disciples at the first" (12: 16 ), whereas the other three make it the disciples who brought the ass, or ass and colt, or colt, and put their own clothes thereon, and themselves began the whole scene. Until another revelation, we shall never know the details exactly.
The "purging of the temple," says John, occurred only a few days after the wedding at Cana, and therefore at the beginning of Jesus, ministry (John 2: 1-22 ); but the other three (Matt, 21: 12-16; Mark 11: 15-18; Luke 19: 45-48 ) all place it at the close of his career, just before his last Passover. The next day after the purging, Jesus is recorded as cursing the fig tree (Matt. 21: 18, 19 ); but Mark says the cursing came first; then Jesus went into Jerusalem (but not on his triumphal entry, which had taken place the day before; Mark 11: 1-11 ) and cleaned out the money-changers (11: 12-19 ). According to Matthew, the fig tree was blasted by the curse immediately, before the eyes of the disciples (21: 19, 20 ); but Mark says that it was not till the next day after the cursing
that the disciples, as they passed by, saw the fig tree dried up (11: 19, 20 ). Mark says that Jesus and his company, being hungry "and seeing a fig tree afar off," went to it to find figs, but found none, "for the time of figs was not yet" (11: 12, 13 ). Then Jesus cursed it (11: 14 ). As this happened at the time of Passover, in March or April, naturally there would be no figs, which are summer fruit; and one would think that the all-wise Son of Yahveh, who could read the innermost thoughts of man, would know this simple fact of nature, as well as whether there were figs on the tree without going to find out by inspection. The omniscient God searching for figs in March, and disappointed at not finding them -- creating a tree to bear fruit in the summer and cursing it for not bearing in the spring! Jesus cursed a living tree and it died; Mohammed blessed a dead tree and it lived.
POT-POURRI OF INSPIRED INHARMONIES
The Gospels simply cannot tell the truth. Scarcely a thing is stated by one inspired writer which is not denied or contradicted by one or more of the others. To cite them all would lead beyond reasonable limits of space; but to show further the incessant inharmony of inspired truths even in minor details, I shall pick at random a number of instances, with bare citation of subject, chapter, and verse.
Jesus cured Peter's mother-in-law after he cleansed the leper (Matt. 8: 2, 3, 14, 15 ); or before (Mark 1: 29-31; 40-42; Luke 4: 38, 39; 5: 12, 13 ). The leper was cleansed after the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5: 1; 8: 1-4 ); or before (Luke 5: 12-14; 6: 20-49 ). Peter's mother-in-law was healed before Peter was "called" (Luke 4: 38, 39; 5: 10 ); or after (Matt. 4: 18, 19; 8: 14, 15; Mark 1: 16, 17, 30, 31 ). James and John were with Jesus when he cured this woman (Mark 1: 29 ); they were not, as they had not yet been called (Luke 4: 38, 39; 5: 10, 11 ). The centurion's servant was healed between the cleansing of the leper and the curing of Peter's sick relative (Matt. 8: 2-14 ); it was not until after both these cures (Luke 4: 38, 39; 5: 12, 13; 7: 1-10 ). The centurion came to Jesus (Matt. 8: 5 ); he did not; he sent Jewish elders for Jesus (Luke 7: 2-4 ). This miracle was performed in Capernaum (Matt. 8: 5; Luke 7: 1 ); but it was in Cana (John 4: 46 ). Jesus stilled the tempest before Matthew was called -- he says so himself (Matt. 8: 23-27; 9: 9 ); but it was after (Mark 2: 14; 4: 35-41 ). Matthew also says that Jesus cast out the devils that entered into the herd of swine before he was called as a disciple (Matt. 8: 28, 33; 9: 9 ); but it was not until after (Mark 2: 14; 5: 1-13; Luke 5: 27; 8: 26-33 ). This legion of devils was cast out of one man (Mark 5: 2; Luke 8: 27 ); but it was "two possessed with devils" out of whom the legion was cast (Matt. 8: 28 ). The possessed said his, or the devils' name was Legion, a Latin military term. The Gospels were written in Greek; but the disciples and the devils spoke Aramaic, and the devils would hardly have had a Latin name, which the Galilean peasant apostles would not have understood. There were about two thousand swine (Mark 5: 13 ); the devils asked and the Christ graciously granted permission to the devils to enter into the swine. If each hog got only one devil in him there were about two thousand devils; the possessed must have been a very large man to house so many devils, or the devils must have been very small ones. If Jesus could grant this permission, he could have refused it. To grant it and so destroy a great herd of hogs would be a felony in any civilized country; it was gross malicious mischief even in Palestine. But hogs are an abhorrence' to Jews, forbidden by their law of Moses; it is odd that such extensive hog raising should have flourished in their country. The Jews did not really raise hogs at all. All these stories of devil-exorcism are told by the synoptists; not one is mentioned by John.
At Nain Jesus raised a dead man to life (Luke 7: 12-15 ), but this great miracle is mentioned only by Luke; all the others ignore the stupendous feat. The disciples of John asked Jesus about fasting (Matt. 9: 14 ); but it was the scribes and Pharisees who made the inquiry (Luke 5: 33 ). Jesus is credited with raising the daughter of Jairus from the dead. Matthew quotes Jairus as saying: "My daughter is even now dead" (Matt. 9: 18 ); but he said: "lieth at the point of death" (Mark 5: 23 ); or "lay a dying" (Luke 8: 42 ). Whether Jesus raised a dead girl to life or simply healed a sick one is uncertain. Peter, James, and John witnessed this miracle (Mark 5: 37-40; Luke 8: 51 ); John, who was the only gospel writer present, does not mention it at all. When Jesus first sent out the Twelve, he said: "He that receiveth you receiveth me," etc. (Matt. 10: 40; Luke 10: 16 ); but Jesus used these words at the Last Supper (John 13: 20 ). When sending the Twelve on their first crusade, Jesus told them to take "neither shoes, nor yet staves" (Matt. 10: 9, 10; Luke 9: 3 ); but he commanded them to take shoes and staves and nothing else (Mark 6: 8, 9 ). He also commanded them not to go among the Gentiles, "and into any city of the Samaritans, enter ye not" ( Matt 10: 5 ); but straightway both Jesus and the disciples went to Samaria to Sychar, and they "abode there two days" (John 4: 3-5, 8, 40 ). Jesus told the multitude: "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence" (Matt. 11: 12 ). The words "from the days of John the Baptist until now" would indicate that a long period of time had elapsed since the days of John; yet on the very day on which Jesus uttered these words, Matthew himself records a visit to Jesus of the disciples of John, who was yet living (Matt. 11: 2, 3 ). The disciples said to Jesus: "Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee" (John 11: 8 ); the disciples were themselves Jews; such language would never be used by Jews, but rather by the Greek Father who wrote the "Gospel according to John." When Herod heard of the wonderful works of Jesus, he said: "This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead" (Matt. 14: 2 ); here we have the Christian doctrine of bodily resurrection avowed by the pagan tetrarch. The account given by Matt. (14: 6-11 ) and Mark (6: 21-28 ) of the time and the reason for Herod's beheading of John is entirely at variance with that of the greatest Jewish historian, Josephus (Antiq., Bk. 18: chap. 5: sec. 2 ). John is said to have baptized "Jerusalem and all Judea" (Matt. 3: 5; Mark 1: 5 ); this is of course at least mildly exaggerated; if Jesus and his disciples "made and baptized more disciples than John" (John 4: 1, 2 ), where did these latter come from? Of his mightier successor, John said: "Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear" (Matt. 3: 11 ); what John said was: "The latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose" (Mark 1: 7 ), which is John's own report (John 1: 27 ). John also said of Jesus: "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost" (Mark 1: 8; John 1: 33 ); but he said that the baptism should be "with the Holy Ghost and with fire" (Matt. 3: 11; Luke 3: 16 ) -- the latter an element not recorded as having been used, unless the reference is to hell fire, which Jesus invented.
The loaves and fishes to feed the multitude were provided by the disciples (Matt. 14: 15-17; Mark 6: 35-38; Luke 9: 12, 13 ); but they were furnished by "a lad" (John 6: 9 ). The miraculous feast was enjoyed by "about five thousand men" (Mark 6: 44 ); but this was "beside women and children" (Matt. 14: 21 ). This miracle occurred in "a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida" (Luke 9: 10 ); but when the repast was furnished, Jesus "constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and go to the other side before unto Bethsaida" (Mark 6: 45 ); if the miracle was performed in a desert of Bethsaida, the disciples were already there and did not cross the sea to reach the place. Then, after the feeding, Jesus "sent the multitudes away" (Matt. 14: 22; Mark 6: 45 ); he did not, but withdrew himself into a mountain (John 6: 15 ). Jesus went into this mountain to pray (Matt. 14: 23; Mark 6: 46 ); he went to the mountain to escape the multitude who wished to "take him by force, to make him a king" (John 6: 15 ). Jesus had sent his disciples by ship across the sea; he went into the mountain to pray; "and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea" (Matt. 14: 22-24; Mark 6: 46, 47 ); on the other hand, "as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him" (Luke 9: 18 ). Jesus commanded his disciples, after the feeding, to sail "unto Bethsaida" (Mark 6: 45 ); they steered their course "toward Capernaum" (John 6: 17 ); and this erratic course brought them "into the land of Gennesaret" (Matt. 14: 34 ). Walking on the water, Jesus overtook the shipload of disciples "in the midst of the sea" (Matt. 14: 24-26; Mark 6: 47, 48 ); but it was as they were nearing the land (John 6: 19-21 ); thus, according to John, Jesus walked entirely across the sea, not merely half way, as in the other record. Peter tried to imitate his Master and walk on the stormy waters, according to Matthew (14: 29-31 ); none of the others report this interesting adventure.
After feeding five thousand with five loaves in the wilderness of Bethsaida, Jesus proposed to feed four thousand with seven loaves; at this the disciples expressed their surprise, and asked: "From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?" (Mark 8: 4, 5 ) After this second miraculous feeding, Jesus "came into the coasts of Magdala" (Matt. 15: 39 ); the Revised Version reads "borders of Magadan"; but he really came "into the parts of Dalmanutha" (Mark 8: 10 ).
The scribes and Pharisees complained to Jesus that his disciples violated the traditions by eating with unwashed hands (Matt. 15: 1, 2; Mark 7: 1, 2 ); but it was a certain Pharisee who made this complaint to Jesus because he himself ate without washing (Luke 11: 37, 38 ). A "woman of Canaan" besought Jesus to cast the devil out of her daughter (Matt. 15: 22 ); "the woman was a Greek" (Mark 7: 26 ).
On the way to Caesarea Philippi, Peter makes a great discovery. Asked by Jesus, "But whom say ye that I am?" Peter replied: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 16: 16, 17 ). And as a reward for his supernatural perception, Jesus conferred on him the keys of heaven and hell. Both Jesus and Matthew must have forgotten that just before, when Peter was about to sink as he tried to walk to Jesus on the water, and Jesus rescued him and brought him aboard the ship, "they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God" (Matt. 14: 29-33 ). So that Peter's information was not a divine revelation but the common gossip of the whole crew of fishermen. And at the very beginning of the ministry of Jesus, before Peter was "called," and when his brother Andrew went and found him to bring him to Jesus, Andrew said to Peter: "We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ" (John 1: 41 ). On the next day Nathaniel said to Jesus; "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel!" (John 1: 49 ). Peter's "revelation" thus loses credit for originality.
The Transfiguration occurred "after six days" from the announcement by Jesus of his immediate "second coming" (Matt. 16: 28; 17: 1; Mark 9: 1, 2 ); but "it came to pass about an eight days after" (Luke 9: 27, 28 ). Peter, James, and John were with Jesus there; "And his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light" (Matt. 17: 2 ); "The fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistening" (Luke 9: 29 ). But it was only the clothing of Jesus which was affected: "And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow" (Mark 9: 3 ). A voice from the clouds declared: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him" (Matt. 17: 5 ); but the voice only said: "This is my beloved Son; hear ye him" (Mark 9: 7; Luke 9: 35 ). As at the baptism, when the same voice was heard to say the same thing, it probably only thundered, and any interpretation could be given to the noise by superstitious peasants. Moses and Elijah joined the transfiguration group, and Peter, ambitious always for a speaking part, proposed to build three tabernacles for the heavenly visitors; this proposal was made in the awful presence and hearing of Moses and Elijah (Matt. 17: 3, 4; Mark 9: 4-8 ); but Peter did not say this until "as they departed from him" (Luke 9: 33 ). Moses and Elijah talked with Jesus "and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem" (Luke 9: 31 ); but I cannot understand how Luke knew what the conversation was about, as he was not present. Peter, James, and John "were heavy with sleep" (Luke 9: 32 ), and so could not have heard the conversation; and the proposal for the tabernacles came only afterwards "when they were awake" (Luke 9: 32 ). But the three disciples were not asleep at all; they were quite awake and saw and heard all that passed (Matt. 17: 2-7; Mark 9: 2-8 ). John was the only Gospel historian who was present at this tremendous scene; he mentions not a word of it. Of this and of all similar situations said to have been witnessed by John, an authority has said: "All the events said to have been witnessed by John alone are omitted by John alone. This fact seems fatal either to the reality of the events in question or to the genuineness of the fourth gospel." [W.R. Greg, Creed of Christendom.] Immediately after the disappearance of Moses and Elijah the conversation turned upon the tradition that "Elias must first come"; and Jesus replied that "Elias is come already and they knew him not. ... Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist" (Matt. 17: 10-13 ). Jesus would seem to recognize thus the doctrine of transmigration of souls; but if Elijah had been before their eyes at the transfiguration, this conversation could not well have followed.
After the transfiguration Jesus cured a lunatic (Matt. 17: 15 ); he was an epileptic (Revised Version); but he had "a dumb spirit" (Mark 9: 17 ). The tax collector of Capernaum demanded a poll-tax of Jesus; he told Peter to go fishing "and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money; that take, and give unto them for me and thee" (Matt. 17: 27 ). But Matthew leaves us genuinely curious as to what kind of "fisherman's luck" Peter had this time, whether he caught the fish and got the money or not: there are limits even to fishermen's tales. After leaving Galilee Jesus went "into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan" (Matt. 19: 1 ). The inspired writer again did not know geography; there were no "coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan"; Jordan was the eastern boundary of Judaea; the coasts were some fifty miles to the west. On his way to Jerusalem to attend his last Passover, Jesus "passed through the midst of Samaria" (Luke 17: 11 ); but he "cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan" (Mark 10: 1 ); these are two totally different routes. "And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho" (Luke 19: 1 ). This contradicts Luke's statement that Jesus "passed through the midst of Samaria" (Luke 17: 11 ), as Jericho was not on the route from Samaria, but was on the route described by Mark (Mark 10: 1 ). On whichever of these routes he was, Jesus in the way healed ten lepers (Luke 17: 12-14 ); this wholesale miracle is recorded by no other gospel; it is declared to be "absolutely unhistorical" (Bible for Learners, Vol. 3: p. 310 ). I see no reason why the learned divines who edited the Bible for Learners should have singled out this one miracle to criticize as "unhistorical"; they were all so. On the way also "blind Bartimaeus" sat begging, and he cried out: "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me" (Mark 10: 46, 47; Luke 18: 35-38 ); but it was not one but two blind men who cried: "Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David" (Matt. 20: 30 ). This dubious episode occurred "as he was come nigh unto Jericho" (Luke 18: 35 ); it occurred "as they departed from Jericho" (Matt. 20: 29; Mark 10: 4?6 ). Mark agrees with Luke and disagrees with Matthew as to the number of men, and agrees with Matthew and disagrees with Luke as to the time of the occurrence.
Speaking of divorce, Jesus said: "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery" (Mark 10: 11, 12 ). A Jew could not have said or written this, for by the Jewish law a woman could not put away her husband at all. Matthew puts in a proviso which is a notable contradiction of Mark; he quotes Jesus as saying: "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery" (Matt. 19: 9 ). According to Mark a man who divorces his wife for any cause whatever cannot lawfully marry another; according to Matthew if the divorce is for cause of the wife's fornication the man may lawfully marry again. In his conversation with the rich man, answering his question as to what he should do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him that be must keep the commandments; the rich man asked which. In reply Jesus named five as essential and sufficient for the inheritance of heaven. What these commandments are no two of the synoptists agree; Matthew and Mark each give a commandment not given by either of the others (Matt. 19: 18, 19; Mark 10: 19; Luke 18: 20 ). The special significance of the reply of Jesus is that it asserts that keeping a few commandments is all that is required to go to heaven: thus repudiating the necessity of "articles of faith necessary to salvation"; and it invalidates his own repeated assertion, "He that believeth not is damned."
Jesus affirmed of the mustard seed that it "indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs" (Matt. 13: 32 ). Everyone knows that the mustard seed is not the "least of all seeds"; neither is the plant "the greatest among herbs." A celebrated saying of Jesus is "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to wonder place; and it shall remove" (Matt. 17: 20; Mark 11: 23 ), but Matthew makes a mountain out of a much less thing; for what Jesus said was: "Ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you" (Luke 17: 6 ). The time and circumstances of the incident are also entirely different in each report.
In the parable of the great feast, the function was a wedding dinner given by a king for the marriage of his son (Matt. 22: 2-4 ); it was simply a "great supper" given by "a certain man" (Luke 14: 16 ). The king sent "his servants" and then "other servants" to invite the guests (Matt. 22: 3, 4 ); but the "certain man" only "sent his servant" (Luke 14: 17 ). The uncivil invited guests of the king seized the royal servants "and slew them" (Matt. 22: 6 ); Luke says that the one servant returned unharmed and reported (Luke 14: 21 ). Upon his invitation's being refused, the king "was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city" (Matt. 22: 7 ); a very drastic procedure, especially during a marriage feast, considering that the city of the murderous guests must have been also the city of the king. Evidently the guests invited to the wedding lived in the same town, for the dinner was already prepared, "and all things are ready" (Matt. 22: 4 ); though it would seem to be unusually late to invite guests to a royal wedding. The king sent "his servants" others than those slain -- into the highways to pick up wayfarers for emergency guests, and they were herded "both bad and good" to the banquet. His majesty came in to inspect them and "saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?" The guest "was speechless," as he might well be at such an inquiry, for no one would expect a lot of transient wayfarers to go about dressed for a royal wedding. The king ordered his servants: "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness" (Matt. 22: 9-12 ). Every circumstance of this "twice told tale" is different in each of the two gospels.
In the parable of the wicked husbandmen, the owner of the vineyard sent "his servants" to collect the rent, and the evil farmers "took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another" (Matt. 21: 33-35 ); however, only one servant was sent and they only "beat him, and sent him away empty" (Mark 12: 3 ). In the parable of the talents, a man who was going on a journey had three servants; "And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one" (Matt. 25: 15 ); but the master, who was a nobleman, going off to take over a kingdom, really had ten servants, and to each of them he delivered one pound (Luke 19: 12, 13, 16 ). Two of the three servants each doubled his money (Matt. 25: 16, 17 ), thus returning ten and four talents respectively; of the ten servants one reported a gain of tenfold, the second of fivefold (Luke 19: 16, 18 ). The "unprofitable servant" of Matthew "digged in the earth, and bid his lord's money" (Matt. 25: 18 ); the same servant in Luke returned his pound "which I have kept laid up in a napkin" (Luke 19: 20 ).
A lawyer had an interview with Jesus in regard to the two great commandments; the lawyer "asked him a question, tempting him, saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" and Jesus stated the two great commandments (Matt. 22: 35-40; Mark 12: 28-31 ); but when the lawyer asked the question, Jesus in turn asked: "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" and the lawyer himself in reply stated the two great commandments (Luke 10: 25-27 ). The lamentation of Jesus over Jerusalem (Matt. 23: 37 ) was delivered in the temple at Jerusalem" (Matt. 21: 10, et seq; 24: 1 ); it was delivered in a synagogue in Galilee before he went to Jerusalem (Luke 13: 34; 17: 11 ). While Jesus was at Jerusalem there came "a voice from heaven"; "the people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes" (John 12: 28-30 ); if the people who heard the "voice" could not distinguish it from thunder, of what benefit was it to them -- "for your sakes?"
The last prayer of Jesus was uttered in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26: 36, 39; Mark 14: 32, 35; Luke 22: 39, 41 ); but the last prayer is reported as made in Jerusalem before going to Gethsemane (John 17; 18: 1 ). During the last prayer in the garden Jesus was in agony, "and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22: 44 ). Luke was not one of the Twelve and was not present; Jesus was "withdrawn from them," praying alone. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping" (Luke 22: 41, 4: 5 ). How Luke knew of this unusual form of perspiration is not revealed.
Baptism being declared by Jesus to be an essential to salvation (Mark 16: 16 ), naturally he and his disciples must have performed this ceremony from the beginning of the ministry, every time the "fishers of men" caught a peasant; and John says so. Just after the wedding at Cana and the meeting with Nicodemus, "came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized" (John 3: 22 ); though John later tells us, in parentheses, "Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples" (John 4: 2 ). At least, then, the disciples baptized from the start. But it was not until after the resurrection of Jesus that he first commissioned them to baptize (Matt. 118: 18; 19; Mark 16: 15, 16 ). The formula of baptism is expressed, outside of one reference in the gospels, by Peter only; all were to be "baptized in the name of Jesus Christ," or "of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 2: 38; 8: 16; 10: 48; 19: 5 ). The formula "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 28: 19 ), put by Matthew into the mouth of Jesus, is self-evidently a much later forgery, made after the Trinity had been invented.
In the beginning of his ministry and immediately after the wedding at Cana, Jesus foretold his death and resurrection (John 2: 18-22 ); but it was late in his ministry, just before the transfiguration, that "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must ... be killed, and be raised again the third day" (Matt. 16: 21; Mark 8: 31; Luke 9: 22 ). The parting command of Jesus to his disciples was: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. ... And they went forth, and preached everywhere" (Mark 16: 15, 20 ). This is totally irreconcilable with early church history; for, some ten years after the death of Jesus Christ, Peter is accused and condemned by the "apostles and brethren" because they had "heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God" (Acts 11: 1-19 ). And the "second coming" had not yet arrived, though Jesus -- limiting their mission to the "lost sheep of Israel" -- had told Peter and his confreres: "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come" (Matt. 10: 23 ). In contradiction of this positive assurance he had declared: "The gospel must first be published among all nations" (Mark 13: 10 ).
The prime endowment to the disciples was, or was to be, the gift of the Holy Ghost, which was conferred in a manner strangely reminiscent of the breathing of life into Adam; and this supreme gift was bestowed upon ten of the Twelve by Jesus himself at the time of his second appearance after the resurrection: "He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost" (John 20: 22 ). Thomas Didymus (the Twin) never received any Holy Ghost, as he was not present (John 20: 24 ). But forty days later Jesus made one of his numerous post-mortem appearances, and "commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father. ... Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. ... Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you" (Acts 1: 3-5, 8 ). "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, ... they were all filled with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2: 1, 4 ). This was quite seven weeks after the resurrection. There is much doubt as to how the Holy Ghost was sent upon the disciples and by whom. Before personally bestowing it on the resurrection day, Jesus had promised "the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send" (John 14: 26 ); but a little later Jesus said: "I will send him unto you" (John 16: 7 ); and later yet we have seen that Jesus in person bestowed "him" by blowing on the disciples (John 2, 22 ). It's quite a puzzle. The only effect of getting the Holy Ghost was that they "began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2: 4 ), and they acted so crazily that everybody thought they were drunk and drivelling, saying: "These men are full of new wine" (Acts 2: 13 ); but this imputation Peter denied as unreasonable, since it was too early to be drunk, "seeing it is but the third hour of the day" (Acts 2: 13 ), or only 9 a.m. But maybe the effect was that of "the morning after."
This must end, for "There are also [so] many other things which Jesus did" and said -- which are so contradictorily related by inspiration -- that while it cannot without some exaggeration be said that "the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" -- at least one ample volume such as this would not contain them.
Many superlatives of laudation and magnification are applied to Jesus the Christ: the mighty God, eternal, self-existent, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, infinite in wisdom, infinite in goodness, infinite in mercy, gentle and loving. His own words and deeds contradict each of these fanciful attributes.
Was Jesus self-existent? "The living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father" (John 6: 57 ); and of him Paul said: "He liveth by the power of God" (2 Cor. 13: 4 ). Was he omnipotent? "The Son can do nothing of himself ... I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5: 19, 30 ). Was Jesus omniscient? Speaking of his own second coming, notwithstanding his many assertions that it should be very soon, he said: "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" (Mark 13: 32 ). This seems to indicate that Father and Son are two quite distinct persons. Also he did not know that there were no figs on the tree which he cursed, for "he came, if haply he might find anything thereon" Mark 11: 13 ), and was disappointed when he found none. Also, if Jesus was omniscient, it is odd that he should have chosen Judas for the first church treasurer, who "was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein" (John 12: 6 ). Was Jesus omnipresent He travelled about the country like any other man; he said: "I am glad for your sakes that I was not there" (John 11: 15 ). "Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come" (John 7: 36 ). "And now I am no more in the world" (John 17: 11 ).
Infinite wisdom is absolute; but Jesus "increased in wisdom" (Luke 2: 52 ); therefore he had less wisdom at one time than at another, and his knowledge was limited, not infinite. Was Jesus infinite in goodness? He denies this. "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God" (Mark 10: 18 ) -- which again admits that Father and Son are separate and distinct. Far from infinity of mercy, he reiterates his mercilessness: "He that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16: 16 ); Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25: 41 ); "and these shall go away into everlasting punishment" (Matt. 25: 46 ). These words are those of the fiercest fanaticism, fearfully false and merciless; they are the words either of a deluded madman or of lying priests, used to frighten superstitious dupes into subjection of mind and soul; they are not of incarnate God, but of incarnadine Devil.
The family or "kinsmen" of Jesus thought him insane and "went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself" (Mark 3: 21 ); and "many of [the people] said, He hath a devil, and is mad" (John 10: 20 ). Peculiarities of conduct began to show themselves early in his life, and were persistent. At the age of twelve he eluded his parents and stayed behind in Jerusalem, and had them frantically seeking him for three days. When he was found, in the temple, his mother gently chided him: "Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing"; he replied only: "How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2: 42-49 ). The next thing we hear of him, at the beginning of his ministry, he is a guest at the wedding at Cana. His mother came and said to him: "They have no wine"; Jesus answered: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" (John 2: 4 ). Never again is he recorded as seeing or mentioning his mother, until one of his biographers records the curt remark from the cross, "Woman, behold thy son" (John 19: 26 ); the other three do not say that she was even present.
Apparently forsaking home and parents and family, Jesus spent his entire period of ministry travelling barefoot (Matt. 10: 10 ), over Palestine, followed by a troupe of twelve nondescripts; "'unlearned and ignorant men,' chosen from the humblest of the people," says Canon Farrar, -- "a dozen knaves, as ignorant as owls and as poor as church mice," says Voltaire. Most intimate of his friends were two females, Mary Lazarus, "a woman of the city, which was a sinner" (Luke 7: 37 ), and Mary Magdalene, "out of whom went seven devils" (Luke 8: 2 ). With this entourage "he went throughout every city and village, preaching. ... And certain women. ... Mary called Magdalene ... And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward [or cook], and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance" (Luke 8: 1-3 ). The son of God wandering about Jewry with such a retinue and supported by a rabble of women, including married women led away from their husbands, is not a spectacle to delight the contemplative mind. With a rabble such as this, augmented by a bosanna-shouting mob of the backwash of the city and of the countryside, astraddle of an ass and an ass's colt, Jesus King of the Jews invaded the Holy City. Pushing with his yelling suite through the astonished throng he entered the sacred temple; making a whip of cords he lashed the sellers of animals for the sacrifices and the changers of money, poured out their money, drove out the sacrificial animals and doves; and it may safely be surmised, raised a general riot (John 2: 13-16; Matt. 21: 12, 13; Mark 11: 15-18; Luke 19: 45, 46 ). Suppose a zealous young Zionist from the Bowery, astride a peddlar's donkey or enthroned in a dilapidated "Lizzie; " surrounded with a screeching mob of Yiddish paddlers and East Side tatterdemalions, acclaiming their leader as King of Manhattan, invading the Stock Exchange in Wall Street, knocking over the tickers, destroying all available furniture and personal property, and thrashing the brokers; the Tombs or the psychiatric ward at Bellevue arise in the mind's eye as marking the close of the performance. Witnessing the scene as it was enacted, the disciples recalled the prophetic writing: "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up" (John 2: 17 ).
The repute publicly won by Jesus was that of being "a man gluttonous, and, a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners" (Matt. 11: 19; Luke 7: 34 ). By ancient and laudable social custom "the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders"' (Mark 7: 3 ). Great was the offence which Jesus and his peasant disciples gave to the well-mannered gentry by their constant violation of this first precept of cleanliness and decency, because they "eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands" (Mark 7: 2; Matt. 15: 2 ). Invited by a courteous Pharisee to dine at his home with a polite company including lawyers, Jesus "went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fools ... Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ... Woe unto you also, ye lawyers!" (Luke 11: 37-40, 44, 46 ). Pious people smirk and applaud as if this were a genteel act and speech; if any other guest at the table of a gentleman and in polite company should sit down unwashed and use like language to his host and guests, some plain but cultured people might think it the most uncouth insolence and unpardonable coarseness.
The meek and gentle Jesus made fluent use of a vocabulary which, if it were used by a Billingsgate fishwife, would be deemed vituperative abuse of a shocking kind. Here are some choice bits which he dealt out to people who did not entirely appreciate and agree with him: "Ye fools and blind" (Matt. 23: 17, 19 ); "Ye serpents, ye generation of wipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Matt. 23: 33 ) this chapter 23 is a rare study in fervid philippic); "All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers" (John 10: 8 ).
How sweet the oft-quoted unctuous words of the Master: "Suffer little children to come unto me." If he said it he meant little Jewish children only; others he spurned with disdain. When the woman of Canaan came and worshipped him, begging that he would heal her daughter, "grievously vexed with a devil," the great Specialist in devil-exorcism retorted to the stricken mother: "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs" (Matt. 15: 26 )! a truly Christlike rebuff. And that those deemed unworthy should receive no charity, he prescribes the general principle: "Neither cast ye your pearls before swine" (Matt. 7: 6 ).
Shiftlessness and poverty are inculcated as moral virtues for his indigent followers: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth. ... Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. ... Take therefor no thought for the morrow" (Matt. 6: 19, 25, 34 ); and this never yet realized promise is added for better persuasion: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6: 33 ). One instance, related by himself, belies his own assurance. Lazarus died a beggar, and, besides the crumbs from the rich man's table, inherited only the kingdom; he "was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died; ... And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments" (Luke 16: 22, 23 ). Thus is vagrancy exalted and thrifty respectability decried. Poverty is further encouraged as an essential to salvation, though the Christ falls into a contradiction. The rich ruler asked: "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him ... Sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor" (Luke 18: 18, 22 ). But another rich man volunteered: "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. ... And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house" (Luke 19: 2, 8, 9 ). 'Such good works should be publicly displayed before men, that they may see your good works (Matt. 5: 16 ); though to do so is forbidden under penalty of God's reprobation: "Take heed that ye do not your alms [Revised Version, righteousness"] before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 6: 1 ).
Jesus spread abroad the doctrines of class hatred and set the poor against the rich, the shiftless vagabond against the prudent provider for his family. In the second version of his Sermon on the Mount (this time on the plain) he preached: "Blessed be ye poor: for your's is the kingdom of God. ... But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation" (Luke 6: 20, 24 ); though the Wise Man declared: "The rich man's wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty" (Prov. 10: 15 ). Thus the Christ contrasts the present earthly condition of his paupers and of the evil well-to-do with their respective lots in the hereafter, and to the unlucky former class holds out the lure of future "consolation," while here they may find solace in pious gloating over the woeful prospects of the latter: "Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh" -- in another and better world after the poor victims with their broken hearts have starved to death. It may be preferable, with Omar the Seer, to "take the cash, and let the credit go."
The Kingdom of God is declared a happy realm of paupers and vagrants: "A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. ... It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Matt. 19: 23, 24 ). To fit the earthly vagrant the better for the joys of his Lord, "Whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath" (Matt. 13: 12 ); though ex nihil nihil. The approved Christly and clerical way of accomplishing this feat and deepening poverty -- for the benefit of the soul and of the priest -- is taught in the narrative of the givers to the temple treasury, where the poor "widow's mite" -- "even all her living" -- is commended above the much of the rich (Mark 12: 41-44; Luke 21: 1-4 ) -- an example illustrative of the credulous generosity of the priest-taught poor and of the heartless greed of the priesthood and church; a sacred text which through the ages has enabled a horde of indolent and faking priests to batten upon widows and orphans, to "filch the scanty earnings of the poor, and live like parasites upon the weak and sickly calves of humanity." Yea, Lord, how long?
Domestic strife and family division and hatreds are time and again inculcated by the Master in furtherance of the propaganda of his cult: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and
his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14: 26; Matt. 10: 37 ). Again: "I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will 1:if it be already kindled? ... Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law" (Luke 12: 49, 51-53; cf. Matt. 10: 34, 35 )! For once the Christ and his gospels spoke true: these accursed teachings of the Christ have borne the bitterest fruits of human woe, misery, and destruction throughout the ages wherever his falsified gospels have been preached and heeded. Read Lecky's History of European Morals for fearful instances -- or recall your own observations or experiences. The rules of proselytism, as laid down by the Christ, are all-embracing and sophistically contradictory, as usual: "He that is not with me is against me" (Luke 11: 23 ); "He that is not against us is for us" (Luke 9: 50 ); it's "catch as catch can."
In the exalted zealotry of propaganda the Christ did not hesitate to enjoin the most frightful and fatal deeds of abject submission to his superstition; be taught that, marriage was evil, celibacy a sacred piety, and horrid self-mutilation a pious, acceptable sacrifice "for the kingdom of heaven's sake." For those "to whom it is given" to "receive this saying," the Christ agrees "it is not good to marry"; and he says: "There be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it" (Matt. 19: 10-12 ). Paul is credited with having followed this infamous precept and himself put this "thorn in the flesh," as also the childless Father Origen, and hosts of other church fanatics. The great Pascal said: "Marriage is the lowest and most dangerous condition of Christians." Fanaticism in the name of Jesus, for the principles taught by Jesus, can go no further than these desperate and suicidal precepts: "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you ... for my sake" (Matt. 5: 11 ); "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matt. 10: 39 ); a fearful bid for self-destruction which has its climax in Paul's frantic Christ- incited exhortation: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12: 1 ). Countless thousands of fanatic morons have gone to torture and to death, their bodies living sacrifices, acceptable to the Juggernaut fetish of Jesus the Christ.
"My friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body" (Luke 12: 4 ), with mock heroism the Christ cajoles others; but as for himself, "After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him" (John 7: 1 ). When the scribes and Pharisees "took up stones to cast at him. ... Jesus hid himself" (John 8: 59 ); again, after an argument with the people, "Jesus ... departed, and did hide himself from them" (John 12: 36 ). When Jesus heard that John had been imprisoned, "he departed into Galilee" (Matt. 4: 12 ); when John was beheaded, he "departed thence by ship into a desert place apart" (Matt. 14: 13 ). When the Pharisees held a council how they might destroy him, "when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence"; and when people followed him, he "charged them that they should not make him known" (Matt. 12: 14-16 ). At Gethsemane, in an agony of fear at his coming betrayal and death, Jesus "fell on his face" and prayed that the cup might pass from him (Matt. 26: 39 ). After his crucifixion, his cowardly disciples who had fled and deserted him in his dire need, were found by him huddled in a room of which "the doors were shut ... for fear of the Jews" (John 2: 19 ). On Calvary the dying God frantically cried: "My God, My God, why hast thou sacrificed me?" -- a cry which "could never be wrung from the lips of a man who saw in his own death a prearranged plan for the world's salvation, and his own return to divine glory temporarily renounced for transient misery on earth. The fictitious theology of a thousand years shrivels beneath the awful anguish of that cry." [W.R. Greg, Creed of Christendom.] "Even in those days there were those who could "point to others the steep and thorny path to heaven, but reck not their own rede."
In his divine egoism the Christ proclaimed: "I and my Father are one" (John 10: 20 ) here announcing at least the partial unity of the Godhead; though this he later repudiates, and admits "My Father is greater than I" (John 14: 28 ), thus confessing again two distinct persons and again putting his identity with God in doubt. But without hesitation he avows of himself: "Behold, a greater than Solomon is here" (Matt. 12: 42 ), as he admits that he is also greater than Jonah (Matt. 12: 41 ).
Some of the precepts of Jesus might be regarded as very peculiar if they were emanations of the mind of an ordinary teacher. Is poverty of spirit a blessing? Then, "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matt. 5: 3 ). Resistance to wrong he taught was wrong: "Unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other" (Luke 6: 29 ). Reckless waste of substance is specially recommended: "Lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great" (Luke 6: 35 ), and "Give to every man that asketh of thee" (Luke 6: 30 ). To this he adds the doctrine of submission to theft and robbery: "Of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again" (Luke 6: 30 ); and "him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also" (Luke 6: 29 ). The return of good for evil is indeed enjoined -- upon others; but for himself Jesus did not practice this preaching: "Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father" (Matt. 10: 33 ); and, referring to his disciples: "I pray for them: I pray not for the world" (John 17: 9 ).
The principle is inculcated, that because the judge may not be free from some sin or error the accused must go free; the concrete case is the woman taken in adultery (John 8: 3-11 ). The general adoption of this principle would free every criminal and close the courts and jails, for judges are human and fallible. Though man cannot punish sin because not free from sin himself, yet God, the author of all sin, is regarded as quite just in punishing man eternally for his sins, even for the sin of doubt.
Jesus declared: "They that take the sword shall perish with the sword" (Matt. 26: 52 ); and as if presaging the general havoc which he had declared he had come to bring about, he straightway commanded his disciples. "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one" (Luke 22: 36 ). The sword was never out of the hand of his apostolic church till stricken from it by force. To those who would violate every sacred tie of life and bond of humanity the Christ speciously promised great earthly reward: "There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children [but not wives], and lands" (Mark 10: 29, 30 ). This has never been known to have been made good. To Paul, at least, the Christ made this promise in a dream: "I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee", (Acts 18: 10 ); but this is Paul's own report: "I am ... in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned" (2 Cor. 11: 23-25 ). This shows how foolish it is to believe in dreams -- or in the promises of Jesus the Christ!
Christ Jesus was not always as free from what may be called dissimulation or deception as a Son of God should be -- but think what his Father Yahveh was! At the grave of Lazarus, "Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it" (John 11: 41, 42 ). Jesus told his brethren: "Go ye up unto this feast [of Tabernacles]: I go not up (yet) unto this feast. ... But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast" (John 7: 8, 10 ). The word "yet" is not in the text, as the American revisers pointed out; but while retaining it, the Revised Version puts into the margin: "Many ancient authorities omit yet." After his resurrection, when he intended to stop at Emmaus with Cleophas and his companion, "He made as though [i.e., pretended] he would have gone further," but his companions begged him, "and he went in to tarry with them" (Luke 24: 28, 29 ).
These are isolated instances of what Jesus himself avows was his constant and purposeful practice -- to mislead or deceive his hearers. Jesus spoke "unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them" (Matt. 13: 34 ); and when his disciples asked him: "Why speakest thou unto them in parables?" (Matt. 13: 10 ) Jesus said unto them: "All these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them" (Mark 4: 11, 12 )! Can a more monstrous thing be imagined? The Son of God who pretended to have come "to take away the sins of the world" purposely deceiving the poor morons that he might have the pleasure of seeing them damned!
"This is Jesus the King of the Jews."
It is singular that the Messiah, so long prophesied and awaited, so often proclaimed by long-distance voices from his Father Yahveh in heaven: "This is my beloved Son ... hear ye him," and now making his triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the arrived Messiah and king, should so often have denied his divine identity and enjoined silence and secrecy about it. Time and again, as in the anguish of mortal fear, he charged his disciples "that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ" (Matt. 16: 20; 17: 9; Mark 8: 30; et passim); and he suffered not even his very active and efficient witnesses the devils to testify for him, "for they knew that he was Christ" (Luke 4: 41; Mark 1: 25, 34, et passim). Before Caiaphas and Pilate, who asked him "whether thou be the Christ" (Matt. 26: 63 ), and "Art thou the King of the Jews?" (Matt. 27: 11 ), he hesitated, and equivocated, and answered only: "Thou sayest" (Matt. 27: 11 ) or "If I tell you, ye will not believe" (Luke 22: 67 ). He allowed no one to witness his resurrection, in the dead of the night; and when he was risen from the dead, be showed himself, equivocally, but to one or a variously related number of private persons, never in public, as the Son of God triumphant over death.
SUPERSTITIONS OF JESUS CHRIST
A discrediting aspect of the personality of the proclaimed Son of Yahveh, who knew all things, even the hidden thoughts of men, is that he believed and declared so many things, which were current beliefs among the ignorant of his times, but are known by all school-children to-day to be fables and superstitions, and which the all-knowing mind of a God would always, even then, know to be impossible and untrue. Multiplied instances abound in the four inspired biographies.
The Christ warns against all others who should claim to be Christs, offering his own credentials: "If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matt. 24: 23, 24 ). We all know that miracles do not happen; that, as Hume justly said: "No testimony can prove miracles, for it is more probable that the testimony is false than that the miracles are true." But, even otherwise, how could "great signs and wonders" be worked, great and deceptive miracles be wrought, by impostors in whom the power of God is not? Signs and wonders, miracles, were the very sign-manual of the identity of Jesus with the Christ: "for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him" (John 3: 2 ). "Believe me for the very works' sake" (John 14: 11 ), is the Christ's special challenge for faith to the doubting. Yet he concedes to impostors and to devils the very same power to work miracles which is his own special patent of divinity.
It is this same token of the authenticity of his divinity that he sends to the doubting Baptist, who sent to inquire: "Are thou he that should come? or look we for another?" The only answer which Jesus returned, the only proof he deemed necessary, was a report of his miracles: "Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see" -- reciting a list of the miracles he had done (Matt. 11: 4, 5 ). And it is the same all-sufficient answer which be flung back at Herod: "Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils," etc. (Luke 13: 32 ); and throughout, the signs and wonders" which he worked are the test and authentication of the divinity of the Christ. "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe" (John 4: 48 ), Jesus himself declared.
Yet, a thousand times, the "false Christs" and the devils do the miracles of Yahveh, and are in this respect his successful rivals. The Devil leads the Christ into the wilderness, and up on a high mountain, and sets him on the pinnacle of the temple, and "tempts" him, claiming undisputed dominion over the kingdoms of the world (Matt. 4: 1-11 ). Jesus "cast out devils" by the legion from disordered persons, and held argument with the devils, recognizing their existence, intelligence, and power (Matt. 8: 28-32, passim); he enjoins his followers to "fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10: 28 ); he proclaimed that there is "everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25: 41 ); and as the badge of their divine mission and authority, he gave to his disciples "power and authority over all devils" (Luke 9: 1) -- and so on ad infinitum; though God and intelligent persons know there are no devils and no hell of fire -- and that devils and false Christs cannot work miracles.
With all the assurances of Jesus himself as to his manifold "Signs and wonders" and with the four gospels replete with records of his miracles, we are amazed to hear the positive words of the Master denying that he performed or would perform any miracles at all: "They said therefore unto him, What sign shawest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?" (John 6: 30 ). The answer is not here explicit, but is reported by the other biographers: "And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation" (Mark 8: 12 ). To this refusal Matthew adds the embellishment: "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matt. 12: 39, 40; 16: 4 ). And Jonah is a poor sign for any truth.
Scores of other superstitious legends and fables, Jesus also constantly appeals to as living truths: Abel, Noah and the Flood, Lot, and his wife turned to a pillar of salt, Moses and the burning bush, Jonah swallowed by the fish -- a whole congeries of ancient fables the Son of Yahveh takes as gospel truth which God knows never were true. Even the Christ was infected with that "strong delusion to believe lies" sent by his Father upon men, "that they may all be damned."
THE "SECOND COMING" OF CHRIST
The crowning disproof of the divinity, even of the common sense, of the Christ, and a sad proof of the serious delusion which he suffered, is the stupendous assertion which he made of his immediate Second coming to earth in all the glory of his triumphant kingdom. He never said a more positive and explicit thing -- incapable of being misunderstood or of double meaning -- than this:
"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." (Matt. 16: 28; Mark 9: 1 )
"Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done." (Mark 13: 30 )
"But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God." (Luke 9: 27 )
So soon should the "second coming" be that when the Twelve were sent out on their first preaching tour in little Palestine, the Master assured them: "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come" (Matt. 10: 23 ). But the Christ himself contradicted this promise, and postponed indefinitely his coming again: "The gospel must first be published among all nations" (Mark 13: 10 ).
Caiaphas, the high priest before whom Jesus was led after his capture in the garden, solemnly appealed to him for truth:
"I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
"Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." (Matt. 26: 63, 64, Mark 14: 61, 62 )
And in these nineteen hundred years this supreme prophecy of the Son of Yahveh has gone unaccomplished. No more is needed to convict the inspired records of utter falsity and discredit, to prove that the lowly Nazarene was no God, was no promised Messiah -- was himself a "false Christ," who has deceived the very elect who have misplaced faith in his Holy Word.
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