AN EXPOSITION OF THE FABLES AND MYTHOLOGY OF
THE BIBLE AND OF THE IMPOSTURES OF THEOLOGY
BY JOSEPH WHELESS
Lately Major, Judge Advocate, U.S.A.; Author of "Compendium of Laws of Mexico"; Translator, Civil Code of Brazil; Associate Editor, American Bar Association Journal, in Section of Comparative Law: Member of American Law Institute, etc.
NEW YORK --:-- 1926
FOREWORD TO SECOND AND REVISED EDITION
"Behold, the false pen of the Scribes hath wrought falsely" -- Jeremiah 8: 8 (R.V.)
Like Saul of Tarsus before he changed his name -- but not his nature -- the maker of the ensuing search of the Scriptures, born down in the Bible Belt, was bred "after the straightest sect of our religion," a Southern Methodist. Nurtured by earnestly Christian parents, I was heir to their faith and joint heir to salvation with them. Through youth and into maturer years, like Paul, "so worshipped I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets" of ancient Jewry, with the heavy increment for faith of the Wesleyan brand of Protestant Christianity superimposed.
Being so born and taught, so I naturally believed. For religious belief is all but exclusively a matter of birth and early teaching, of environment. A man takes and holds, though often most indifferently, the religion, or brand of belief, of his fathers, of his family. Born a pagan, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Mohammedan, a Mormon, that he remains, except one time in many thousands, through life; though, if taken in infancy, he will as naturally fall heir to and believe the most contrary faith: witness the famous Janizaries, captive Christian children trained in the Moslem faith, and Islam's most fanatic soldiers. If born into a Christian family, Catholic or Protestant, or of one of the many sects of either, he usually remains, at least nominally, Catholic or Protestant, as he was born and taught. Children believe anything they are taught; Santa Claus, fairies, goblins, ghosts, and witches are as real, as veritably true, to a child as Jesus the Christ to a cleric -- often much more so. It is a maxim of the Master of the Christian faith: "Except ye ... become as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven: ... for of such is the kingdom" (Matt. 18: 3; 19: 14 ). Hence the reason of the churchly maxim: Disce primum quod credendum est -- "Learn first of all what is to be believed."
From my earliest years the Methodist Sunday school and Church were as a sort of home extension of religious atmosphere and teaching; my earliest initiation was into the "infant class" of that institution of sacred learning. There my infantile mind was fed and fired with the venerable verities of our first parents and the seductive wiles of the talking snake of Eden, of Balaam's loquacious jackass, the anthropophagous whale of Jonah, the heroic adventures of David with Goliath and with Bathsheba, of noble Daniel, unscathed in the lions' den and in the fiery furnace, of Peter's walking on the water, and the devils sent into the pigs, with many other like articles of holy faith necessary to salvation.
Fascinated with these ancient gems of inspiration, and deeply imbued with the sense of Christian duty to "seek first the kingdom of God," whereupon everything else needful would be added liberally, daily I grew in biblical wisdom as I grew in stature and in strength. And, too, I took my religion seriously, and seriously strove to live as a Christian should, comforted by the saving Methodist doctrine of the divine right of backsliding; if sometimes I fell, I fell upon my knees, got up, and pursued resolutely my pilgrimage through this vale of tears. My Bible was my constant companion, guide, and friend.
Years before my majority I led all others in old "Tulip Street" in familiarity with Holy Writ; so when a great Sunday- school Bible verse-quoting bee was held, I was easily the favorite for winner, and as easily I won both prizes -- Heroes of the Cross and some other like classic of literature -- for number and correctness of verses quoted from memory. That Bible-quoting contest of some forty years ago struck the spark which, long smoldering, flames up now in this book of mine. In its original form, written some years ago, the chapters which are now headed "Harmony of the Gospels" and "Sacred Doctrines of Christianity" reproduced in substance, and yet do in effect, that memorable verse-matching contest.
From a sense of Christian duty, as well as for its practical aid in linguistic studies, I read the Bible often, and in several modern languages, and picked a little at the ancient ones. Later, when writing this book, I learned sufficient Hebrew for the understanding and honest rendition of the sacred texts. In such frequent readings of the Bible, and in more languages than one, I could not but be struck with important differences of meaning given in different versions to the same verse or text; memory, too, would go back to the same story told quite differently in other of the sacred texts; I would search out the parallel passage and find it at right angles or criss-cross with the one before me. Such adventures roused dangerous trains of thought, which I devoutly sought to conjure out of mind. My honest mind was struck, too, and shocked, by many things which, it seemed to me, were absurd or abhorrent as human actions, and magnifiedly so as the alleged word or deed of my God. But "he that doubteth is damned"; so faith triumphed over reason for a long, long time, though I felt myself ever a bit less "orthodox" as the years went by, and as I read and thought. Yet so vital was my residuary faith, and so disturbed my conscience over my disregard of the divine ban, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ... what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" (2 Cor. 6: 14, 15 ) that upon entering the holy bonds I purposely backslid from my native Methodism, and took the plunge -- on a cold winter night -- into the Baptist communion, in the earnest hope of leading my new life partner (whose family were of that persuasion) into that aqueous fold of Christ with me. My faith and my chill bath were unrewarded -- then. This book is my tribute of unalloyed admiration and devotion to her whose beautiful character and soul shine out into my life with no pale reflected light of storied Calvary, but in their own native warmth and purity, untinged and untainted by any superstition of unreality. Great now is my reward; our two minds share cordially now the single thought -- always hers:
"Do good, for good is good to do; Spurn bribe of heaven and threat of hell."
Faith, I read, "has for its object the unknowable." How could the things of faith be unknowable if they were all inerrantly revealed by God in the "Holy Bible, book divine"? I determined to know the truth, if it could be found in the Bible. I bought two copies of that sacred book for what seemed must be the test of truth. My method was simple and looked sure: from Genesis to Revelation I reread one copy, pencil in hand; every passage that seemed meet for my purpose I marked, noting book, chapter, and verse on the margin of each copy for identification. These sacred and marked volumes I then tore apart, and with scissors cut out every marked passage. Patiently then I sorted the great mass of clippings, putting apart into little piles all that told the same tale differently, or treated the same Christian doctrine at cross- purposes. This accomplished, I read and carefully "matched" one inspired truth with another. Then, through several years, at every opportunity which a rather active professional work and frequent absences from the country permitted, and into the weary hours of many a night, painstakingly, conscientiously, faithfully, in my quest for truth out of the fountain of revelation, I carried on the work of creating order out of the chaos which almost appalled me with its multiplicity and its inconsistency. The result is here presented; my book speaks for itself. The wayfarer, though a fool, cannot mistake it.
Thus it was that I took up the challenge of the Christ to "search the Scriptures," haply to demonstrate to the seeker after truth "whether these things were so," as in the Bible related for belief, under the admonition of the Christ himself: "He that believeth not shall be damned."
No man, priest, parson, or zealot for his inherited faith, can say with truth that this book of mine falsely or wantonly "attacks the Bible," or defames the Bible God, or ridicules the Christian religion. If iconoclastic results follow this candid search of the Scriptures, the fault is with the Bible, for this my book speaks truly. This book is based wholly on the Bible; its all but every reference is to the Bible, faithfully quoted in exact words of inspiration. The Hebrao-Christian God is depicted in plain words of revelation for every word and deed attributed to him by the inspired writers. This God "whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you," truly. This book is simply the Bible taken by and large, and thus viewed in a light not shed upon it by pulpit expoundings of golden texts, or by private readings of isolated choice fragments. Ye bibliologists cannot impeach or refute the truth herein revealed out of Holy Writ --
"... nor all your piety nor wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a line, Nor all your tears wash out a word of it!"
The earnest hope is cherished for this book, that the simple and sincere search here made of the Scriptures for truth's sake, will serve to make only theology and religious intolerance vain and ridiculous; that it shame contending Christians from an unfounded faith in the untrue, and encourage them and all men into the brotherhood of the only possible true and pure religion -- to
"Do good, for good is good to do." Then will indeed be realized the burden of the herald angel's song: "Peace on earth to men of good will."
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