FORGERY IN CHRISTIANITY
CHRISTIAN "SCRIPTURE" FORGERIES
SEGMENTS:R R THE ORIGINS R R "THE AGE OF APOCRYPHAL LITERATURE" R R "THE IDEA OF INSPIRATION" R R "THE LYING PEN OF THE SCRIBES"
RR "CHRISTIAN EVIDENCES" - FORGED R R FORGED GOSPELS, ACTS, EPISTLES R R THE FORGED "APOSTLES' CREED"
RR THE FORGED ATHANASIAN CREED R R JESUS CHRIST'S FORGED LETTERS R R OTHER FORGERIES FOR CHRIST'S SAKE
RR JOSEPHUS FORGERY TESTIFIES OF JESUS R R THE OWL-ANGEL FORGERY R R RETURN TO THE INDEX OF CHAPTERS
"Nothing stands in need of Lying but a LIE."
To such an extent are the origins of the Christian Religion wrapped in obscurity, due to the labyrinthine confusions and contradictions and forgeries of its early records, that it is quite impossible to extricate, with any degree of confidence, a thread of historic truth from the tangle.
The 27 New Testament booklets, attributed to eight individual "Apostolic" writers, and culled from some 200 admitted forgeries called Gospels, Acts, and Epistles, constitute the present "Canonical" or acceptedly inspired compendium of the primitive history of Christianity. The only available method to extract from them approximately just judgments as to the rise and progress of the new system of beliefs, must be by a series of tentative assumptions of relative truth of sundry details of the narratives. By relative truth of any tentatively assumed "fact," I mean such "fact" with relation always to its contradictory,-one or the other must necessarily be false-while both may be-and probably are. For, as virtually every alleged "fact" recorded in Gospels, Acts and Epistles is off-set by a contradictory recital, rendering one or the other untrue, neither can be assumed with assurance; the actuality of either, and of all, is thus made doubtful, and is subject to total rejection as our study of the booklets develops.
On such provisional assumption that sundry of the things recorded possibly may have happened as in one manner or the other related, we are able to reach several obvious conclusions as to the order and approximate times of those dubiously-assumed happenings. In view, however, of what we have seen, and shall soon more abundantly see, of the shifty and fraudulent methods of ecclesiastical "history"-writing and propaganda, we may be prepared for some rude upsettings of our inherited traditions of Christian fact and faith.
The central character of the Christian faith, Jesus, to assume him as a historical personage, was a Jew, as were, by tradition, his disciples and entourage. As is, of course, well known: "Christianity took its rise in Judaism; its Founder and His disciples were orthodox Jews, and the latter maintained their Jewish practices, at least for a time, after the day of Pentecost. The Jews themselves looked upon the followers of Christ as a mere Israelitish sect, ... 'the sect of the Nazarenes' (Acts xxiv, 15),"-the believers in the Promised Messiah. (CE. iii, 713.) In this they were grievously deceived and disappointed, as, too the world knows; "Christ's humble and obscure life, ending in the ignominious death on the cross, was the very opposite of what the Jews expected of their Christ." (CE. i, 620.)
Jesus was a native of Galilee, "his own country" (Mt. ii, 23; xiii, 54-55), or of Judaea, "his own country" (.John iv, 43-44). He was born "in the days of Herod the King" (Mt. ii, 1), about 6 B.C., or "when Cyrenius was governor of Syria" (Luke ii, 1-7), about 7 A.D., or some 13 years later. (CE. viii, 377; EB. i, 307-8.) The destructive contradictions as to his lineage and parentage, and other essential particulars, are reserved for opportune notice. Jesus became a Jewish sectarian religious teacher of the zealot reformer type; so zealous that his own family thought him insane and sent out to apprehend him (Mark iii, 31); many of the people said of him, "He hath a devil, and is mad" (John x, 20); his own disciples, seeing his raid into the Temple after the money-changers, shook their heads and muttered the proverb: "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up" (John ii, 17).
His ministry, of about one year, according to the first three Gospels, of some three years according to the fourth, was, by his own repeated assertion, limited exclusively to his own Jewish people: "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt. xv, 24; cf. Acts iii, 25-26; xiii, 46; Rom. xv, 8); and he straitly enjoined on his Twelve Apostles: "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt. X, 5-6); to the woman of Canaan who pleaded with him to have mercy on her daughter, "grievously vexed with a devil," he retorted: "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to dogs" (Mt. xv, 22-28; vii, 6). His own announcement, and his command to the Twelve, was "Preach, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (Mt. x, 7),-the exclusively Hebraic Kingdom of the Baptist (Mt. iii, 2), as of the Jewish Messianic apocrypha which we have noticed. Jesus lived at the height of the "age of apocryphal literature," and in due time got into it, voluminously.
Before his death, time and again he made and repeated the assurance-the most positive and iterated of all the sayings attributed to him-of the immediate end of the world, and of his quick triumphant return to establish the Kingdom of God in the new earth and reign on the reestablished throne of David forever. Time and again he said and repeated: "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" (Mt. xvi, 28; Mk. ix, I; Lk. ix, 27); "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be done" Mk. xiii, 30).-So quickly would this "second coming" be, that when the Twelve were sent out on their first preaching tour in little Palestine, their Master assured them: "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come" (Mt. x, 23). Caiaphas, the high priest before whom Jesus was led after his capture in the Garden, solemnly conjured him "By the living God" for the truth; and Jesus replied: "Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man ... coming in the clouds of heaven." (Mt. xxvi, 63, 64; Mk. xiv, 61, 62.) Some people are expecting him yet. Of course, there were, could be, none but Jews in heaven, or in this new Kingdom of Heaven on the new earth: "Salvation is of the Jews." (John iv, 22.) It was 144,000 Jews, the "scaled" saints, who alone constituted the original Jewish "Kingdom of God" (Rev. vii).
With these explicit data we arrive at the first obvious and positive conclusion: With the expectation of a quick and sudden end of the world and of all things human, no books were written on the subject in that generation or, for a little leeway, the next or so, after the death of the expected returning King. The scant, number of credulous Jews who accepted this preachment as "Gospel truth"and lived in this expectation, were nourished with neighborhood gossip and oral traditions of the "good news," and needed and had no written books of inspired record of these things. Thus many years passed. Only as the dread consummation was delayed, and the hope deferred sickened the hearts of the expectant Jews and they waned in faith, and as accused by Paul and Barnabas, "put it from you," did the defeated propagandists of the "Faith that failed at the Cross," give the shoulder to the Jews and "turn to the Gentiles" (Acts xiii, 46), and begin to expand the failing new Jewish faith among the superstitious Pagans of the countries round about. But this was still by the spoken word; on all the supposititious "missionary tours" the Word was spread by word of mouth written gospel books were not yet. When at last, the "coming" being still unrealized-these books began to be written, we can accurately determine something of the order of their writing, and finally, though negatively, the approximate times when they were written, by ascertaining when they were not yet written.
We have seen that for a century and more the only "Scriptures" used by the Jewish propagandists of the Christ were the Greek Septuagint translations of the old hebrew sacred writings, "the Law and the Prophets" (CE. v, 702; i, 635); supplemented by sundry Jewish apocrypha and the Pagan Sibylline Oracles; these were the only "authorities" appealed to by the early "Fathers" for the propaganda of the new faith. Indubitably, if the wonderful "histories" of their Christ and the inspired pretended writings of his first, Apostles, forming now the New Testament, had then existed, even in scraps of writing, they would have been the most precious and potent documents of propaganda, would have been snatched at and quoted and appealed to with infinite zeal and ardor, as they have been through the centuries since. But, for some 150 years, as we shall see, little or nothing besides Old Testament and Pagan Oracles were known or quoted. As said by the great critic, Solomon Reinach, "With the exception of Papias, who speaks of a narrative by Mark, and a collection of sayings of Jesus, no Christian writer of the first half of the second century (i.e., up to 150 A.D.) quotes the Gospels or their reputed authors." (Reinach, Orpheus, p. 218.) So, patently, as yet no "Gospels" and but few if any "Epistles" of our "canon" had as yet been written. Again, we read the 23 booklets from and including Acts to Revelation: there is not a solitary reference to a word of quotation from, any of our four Gospels; scarce a trace of the wonderful career and miracles of Jesus the Christ; not a word of his "gospel" or teachings mentioned or quoted. These Epistles, indeed, "preach Christ Crucified" (from oral tradition), as the basis of the propagandists' own "gospel." But the written "Gospel of Jesus Christ" (his life and words and deeds), was unknown: indeed, jealous of the so-called Petrine preaching which "perverts the gospel of Christ" as preached by him, the soi-disant Apostle Paul fulminates: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached, let, him be accursed" (Gal. i, 7, 8);-so early did priestly intolerance and priestly curses on opponents come into holy vogue. Therefore the conclusion is inevitable that when those 23 Acts and Epistles were written, none of the four "Gospel" biographies of Jesus the Christ had yet seen the light. "Written Gospels are neither mentioned nor implied in the NT epistles, nor in that, of Clemens Romanus, nor, probably, in that of Barnabas, nor in the Didache. Luke (i, 1-4) implies that 'many gospels' were current" (EB. ii, 1809), at the time that Gospel was written.
The Acts and Epistles, therefore, with Revelation, were written before any of the Gospel biographies. If these Christ-histories had existed, how eagerly would they have been seized upon to garnish and glorify the preachment of the early propagandists of the Faith that failed at the Cross,-and would have perished wholly but for the all-believing Pagan Gentiles, who, when they heard it, "were glad, and glorified the word of the lord" (Acts xiii, 48), as orally delivered.
"THE AGE OF APOCRYPHAL LITERATURE"
As the long years passed and one generation of disappointed "Messiah" Jews was gathered unto its fathers and was followed by another, the believers in the promised "second coming" for the establishment of the Jewish Kingdom grew restless, and made pertinent complaint, "Saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (2 Peter ii, 4),-and as they yet continue. Dubbing these reasonable but disturbing inquirers "scoffers," the crafty Peter tried in typical priestly form to squirm out of the embarrassing situation created by the positive promises of the Christ and the inspired preachments of himself and his apostolic confreres, by the shifty rejoinder: "But, beloved ["scoffers"], be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand yearn, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter ii, 8)-which doesn't mean anything for an honest answer; and time and again they cajole the impatient eredtilous [sic; RW]: "Ye have need of patience; ... for yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come." (Heb. x, 36, 37; cf. 1 Thess. iv, l6-18; 2 Thess. iii, 5; James v, 7, 8; et passim.) But he isn't come yet, these 2000 years.
It was at this critical juncture, to revive and stimulate the jaded hope of the Jewish believers and to spread the propaganda amongst the all-believing Pagans, that the written Christ-tales began to be worked up by the Christian propagandists. Before their admiring eyes they had for models the "whole literature" of Jewish apocryphal or forged writings, plus the Pagan Oracles: with immense zeal and industry they set about to imitate the example before them, and to reforge these Jewish and heathen forgeries to more definite Christian uses, and to forge anew another whole literature of distinctively Christian forgeries and fabulous histories of the Christ. "In this form of propaganda the Christians proved themselves to be apt pupils of the Jews. So common, indeed, had become in early Christian times, the invention of such oracles that Celsus terms Christians Sibyllistai, believers in sibyls, or sibyl-mongers" (EB. i, 246), that is, peddlers of Christian forgeries in Pagan form (Ib. p. 261). How great was this pious fabrication we can only judge from the two hundred, more or less, of false histories, gospels, epistles and revelations which have survived, entire or fragmentary, or by title only, through the long intervening centuries of faith, and of which 27 are yet cherished as of Divine inspiration.
"THE IDEA OF INSPIRATION"
Before sketching the welter of these lying works of Christian hands and childish minds, we may define, by high priestly authority, the status of the problem of divine inspiration, and just how the notion of "canonicity" or official inspiration, came to be, now attributed to, now withdrawn from, this heterogeneous mass or mess of pious scribblings, and finally clung to only 27 of yet asserted sanctity. These admissions are very illuminating.
We have aeen that the Hebrew Old Testament itself "reveals no formal notion of inspiration," though, we are assured, "the later Jews must have possessed the idea" (CE. iii, 269);-thus only an idea or notion somehow acquired, but not through divine illumination, for as we read, of all the mass of Jewish holy forgeries "each of them has at one tune or another been treated as canonical" or divinely inspired. (EB. i, 250.) Whether the Christian notion or idea as to the divine inspiration of their own new forgeries was of any better quality may now appear.
The New Testament and the inspired Apostles are silent on the subject and left the matter to serious doubts and disputations for many centuries: "There are no indications in the New Testament ... of a definite new Canon bequeathed by the Apostles to the Church, or of a strong self-witness to Divine inspiration," admits the CE,. (iii, 274); that is, there is nothing in the 27 booklets which would lead to the suspicion of their "inspiration" or truth. There was then no Church for them to bequeath to, nor was the Canon settled, as we shall see: "It was not until about the middle of the second century-[when we shall see the books were really written]-that under the rubric of Scripture the New Testament writings were assimilated to the Old. ... But it should be remembered that the inspired character of the New Testament in a Catholic dogma, and must therefore in some way have been revealed to, and taught by, Apostles"! (Ib. p. 275.) This is a strikingly queer bit of clerical dialectic, and leaves the question of the "some way" of revelation to the Apostles and of their transmission of the "dogma" to posterity, in a nebulously unsatisfying state.
Further, the dubious and disputed status of the sacred writings through centuries, and the ultimate settlement of the controversies by the 'ipse dixit' of a numerical majority of the Council of Trent, in 1546,-after the Reformation had forced the issue, is thus admitted: "The idea of a complete and clear-cut canon of the New Testament existing from the beginning, that is, from Apostolic times, has no foundation in history. The canon of the New Testament, like that of the Old, is the result of a development, of a process at once stimulated by disputes with doubters, both within and without the Church, and retarded by certain obscurities and natural hesitations, and which did not reach its final term until the dogmatic defination of the Tridentine Council. ... And this want of a organized distribution, secondarily to the absence of an early fixation of the Canon, left room for variations and doubts which lasted far into the centuries." (CE., iii, 274.) The 'modus operandi' of the Holy Council in ultimately "canonizing" Jerome's old Vulgate Version, and its motive for doing so, are thus exposed by the keen pen of the author of the Rise and Fall:
"When the Council of Trent resolved to pronounce sentence on the Cannon of Scripture, the opinion which prevented, after some debate, was to declare the Latin Vulgate authentic and 'almost' infallible; and this sentence, which was guarded by formidable anathemas, secured all the books of the Old and New Testament which composed that ancient version. ... When the merit of that version was discussed, the majority of the theologians urged, with confidence and success, that it was absolutely necessary to receive the Vulgate as authentic and inspired, unless they wished to abandon the victory to the Lutherans, and the honors of the Church to the Grammarians." (Gibbon, A Vindication, v, 2; Istoria del consiglio Tridentino, L. ii, p. 147.) A number of these books were bitterly disputed and their authenticity and inspiration denied by the leading Reformers, Luther, Grotius, Calvin, etc., and excluded from their official lists, until finally the Reformed Church followed the example of the Church hopeless of reform and swallowed the canon whole, as we have it today,-minus, of course, the 'Tobit,' 'Judith,' and like inspired buffooneries of the True Bible.
Such books and the vicissitudes of their authority are thus described: "Like the Old Testament, the New has its deutero-canonical [i.e. doubted] books and portions of books, their canonicity having formally been a subject of some controversy in the Church. These are, for entire books: the Epistle to the Hebrews, that od James, the Second and Third of John, Jude, and Apocalypse; giving seven in all as the number of the N.T. contested books. The formerly disputed passages are three: the closing section of St. Mark's Gospel, xvi, 9-20, about the apparitions of Christ after the resurrection; the verses in Luke about the bloody sweat of Jesus, xxii, 43, 44; the Pericope Adulterae, or narrative of the woman taken in adultery, St. John, vii, 53 to viii, 11. Since the Council of Trent it is not permitted for a Catholic to question the inspiration of these passages." (CE. iii, 274.) Besides the forgery of the above and other books as a whole, we shall see many other instances of "interpolated" or forged passages in the Christian books.
"THE LYING PEN OF THE SCRIBES"
Speaking of the doubtful historicity of the celebrated AEsop of the famous Fables which go under his name, a critic well states a valid test of historicity: "We may well doubt, however, whether he (AEsop) ever existed; we have the most varied accounts of him, many of which are on their face pure inventions; and the fables which passed under his name were certainly not written until long after the period in which he is supposed to have lived." (NIE. i, 191.) We may have occasion to apply this test to the personality of Jesus of Nazareth and sundry apostolic personages; in any event it is peculiarly applicable to the numerous Christian stories and fables treating of them, which on their face are pure inventions, and which were admittedly forged in the names of Jesus; himself and of all of his Apostles and of many of the shining lights of the new Christian faith, just as we have seen was done in the Jewish forgeries; in the names of the Old Testament notables from Adam on down the catalogue.
Leaving for the moment aside the 27 presently accepted booklets of the N.T., and admitting the many Christian forgeries of Christ-fables, CE. thus apologetically explains: "The genuine Gospels are silent about long stretches of the life of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and St. Joseph. This reserve of the Evangelists did not satisfy the pardonable curiosity of many Christians eager for details. ... Enterprising spirits responded to this natural craving by pretended gospels full of romantic fables, and fantastic and striking details; their fabrications were eagerly read and accepted as true by common folk who were devoid of any critical faculty and who were predisposed to believe what so luxuriously fed their pious curiosity. Both Catholics and Gnostics were concerned in writing these fictions. The former had no motive other than that of a PIOUS FRAUD." (CE. i, 606.) The motive above admitted for feeding with pious frauds the "natural craving" of the ignorant and superstitious Christians for marvel-mongering by the Church, is confirmed by a distinguished historian: "A vast and ever-increasing crowd of converts from paganism, who had become such from worldly considerations, and still hankered after wonders like those in which their forefathers had from time immemorial believed, lent a ready ear to assertions which, to more hesitating or better-instructed minds, would have seemed to carry imposture on their very face." (Draper, The Intellectual Development of Europe, i, 309.)
This being thus frankly confessed, our clerical writer describes the general character of these pious frauds: "The Christian apocryphal writings in general imitate the books of the N.T.) and therefore, with a few exceptions, fall under the description of Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses." (CE. i, 606.) Further apologizing for these Christian forgeries, and giving a smear of clerical whitewash to the forgers, it is speciously pleaded, that "the term apocryphal in connection with special gospels must be understood as bearing no more unfavorable an import than uncanonical." They were forgeries pure and simple; and their pious value is urged, that "the apocryphal Gospels help us to understand the religious conditions of the second and third centuries,"-as indeed they do, in a light very damaging to any suspicion of truthfulness, common honesty, or anything above the most mediocre intelligence of the pious Fathers and Faithful who put these gross fabrications into circulation in the name and for the sake of Christ. Their pious plea is: "Amor Christi est cui satisfecimus." (Ib. p. 606.) Of these pious frauds it adds: "The quasi-evangelistic compositions concerning Christ ... are all of Orthodox origin." (Ib. p. 607.)
When the new Faith went forth to conquer the Pagan world for Christ, the pious Greek Fathers and priests of the Propaganda soon felt the need of something of more up-to-date effectiveness than Old Testament text and Sibylline Oracles, they needed something concrete out of the New Dispensation to "show" to the superstitious Pagans to win them to the Christ and his Church: something tangible, visible; compellingly authentic proofs. Like arms of proof for the holy warfare, the invincible weapons of truth-"the whole armour of God"-they forged outright for the conquest of the unbeliever. What more convincing and compelling proofs of Jesus the Christ, his holy Apostles, and their wondrous works of over a century ago, than the following authentic and autograph documents and records, held before doubting eyes:
Armed with lying credentials and "proofs" of the fictitious persons and performances for which credence must be won among the credulous pagans, the priests and Vicars of God propagated their stupendous "LIES to the glory of God" and the exaltation of the Church. We shall catalogue these crude forgeries somewhat more fully, and look into some of the more notorious.
FORGED GOSPELS, ACTS, EPISTLES
Half a hundred of false and forged Apostolic "Gospels of Jesus Christ," together with more numerous other "Scripture" forgeries, was the output, so far as known now, of the lying pens of the pious Christians of the first two centuries of the Christian "Age of Apocryphal Literature"; all going to swell the "very large number of apocryphal writings of distinctly Christian origin which were produced from the second century onward, to satisfy an unhealthy craving for the occult and marvelous or to embellish the stories of the saints." (NIE., i, 746.) These N.T. apocrypha include "numerous works purporting to have been written by apostles or their associates, but not able to secure a general or permanent recognition. These may be classified thus: (a) Gospels; (b) Acts of Apostles; (c) Epistles; (d) Apocalypses; (e) Didactic Works; (f) Hymns. (Ib. p. 748.) "The name Gospel," says CE. (vi, 656), "as indicating a written account of Christ's words and deeds, has been, and still is, applied to a large number of narratives of Christ's life, which circulated both before and after the composition of our Third Gospel (cf. Luke i, 1-4). The titles of some fifty such works have come down to us. ... It is only, however, in connection with some twenty of these 'Gospels' that some information has been preserved. ... Most of them, as far as can be made out, are late productions, the apocryphal character of which is generally admitted by contemporary [i.e., present day] scholars." Naming first as Nos. 1-4 "The Canonical Gospels," now falsely labelled with the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the twenty best known ones are listed as follows; viz: The Gospels according to the Hebrews; of Peter; According to the Egyptians; of Matthias; of Philip; of Thomas; the Proto-Evangelium of James, Gospel of Nicodemus (Acta Pilati); of the Twelve Apostles; of Basilides; of Valentius; of Marcion; of Eve; of Judas; the Writing Genna Marias; the Gospel Teleioseos. (CE. vi, 656.)
Individual Gospels were forged in the names of each of the Twelve Apostles, severally, and a joint fabrication under the name of "The Gospel of the Twelve," was put into the mouths of the twelve Apostles, using the first person to give the ear-marks of authenticity to their forged utterances; and separately, "Almost every one of the Apostles had a Gospel fathered upon him by one early sect or another." (EB. i, 259.) Several seem to have been fathered upon Matthew besides the one that wrongly heads the list of the "canonical Four," such as the Gospel of Matthias, Traditions of Matthias, also a supposed and probably non-existent writing in Hebrew hypothesized as the basic document of the Four; probably, also the so-called Logia, a papyrus scrap of one sheet discovered at Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, and containing alleged sayings of Jesus which in part correspond with, in part radically differ from the sayings attributed to him in the Four. He was also made responsible for a so-called Gospel of St. Matthew, dating from the 4th or 5th century, which "purports to have been written by Matthew and translated by St. Jerome." (CE.. i, 608,)
This authority also lists the famous Protevangetium Jacobi, or Infancy Gospel of James, the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy, that of Gamaliel, the Gospel according to the Hebrews, also According to the Egyptians; of the Nazarenes; Gospels of St. Peter, of St. Philip, of St. Thomas, of St. Bartholomew, of St. Andrew, of Barnabas, of Thaddeus, even notable forged Gospels of Judas Iscariot, and of Mother Eve; also the Gospel by Jesus Christ. We have the Gospel of Nicodemus, the History of Joseph the Carpenter, the Descent into Hades, the Descent of Mary, the Ascents of James, the Prophecy of Hystaspes, the Didache or Teachings of the Apostles; the Gospel of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, the Transitum Mariae or Evangelium Joannin. This last named pious Christian work, as described by CE. (i, 607-8) is forged in the name of St. John the Apostle, and is "prefaced with a spurious Letter of the Bishop of Sardis, Melito"; it records how "the Apostles are preternaturally transported from different quarters of the globe to the Virgin's deathbed, those who have died being resurrected for the purpose"; a Jew who dares touch the sacred body instantly loses both hands, which are restored through the mediation of the Apostles. Christ, accompanied by a band of angels, comes down to receive his mother's soul, "the Apostles bear the body to Gethsemane and deposit it in a tomb, whence it is taken up alive to heaven"; this being an extraordinary miracle, for the body was dead and the soul carried to heaven from her home and the dead body laid in the grave, where it comes to life again for the Heaven-trip. This clumsy fable, says CE., considerably "influenced the Fathers" (Ib. i, 608), who were notoriously childish-minded. A very noted and notorious forgery was the Gospel of Paul and Thecla, of which Father Tertullian relates, that this story wag fabricated by an Elder of Asia Minor, who, when convicted of the fraud-[this being the only known instance of such action],-confessed that he had perpetrated it "for the love of St. Paul." (Reinach, Orpheus, p. 235.) The Protevangelium Jacobi was "an Apocryphal work by a fanciful fabulist, unhampered by knowledge of Jewish affairs, composed before the end of the second century with a view to removing the glaring contradictions between Matthew and Mark," regarding the birth and life of Jesus Christ. (EB. iii, 3343.) An "Epistle on the Martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul was at a later period attributed to St. Linus. ... It is apocryphal, and of later date than the history of the Martyrdom of the two Apostles, by some attributed to Marcellus, which is also apocryphal." (CE. ix, 273; see Acta Apostolorum, Apocrypha, xiv.) Other noted Fatherly fabrications were the celebrated Epistles I and II of Clement to the Corinthians, and the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions and Homilies, purporting to be written by the very doubtful Bishop of Rome of that name; very voluminous, and written about 140 A.D., not a line of New Testament "scriptures" do they quote, but they quote freely from the O.T. and from various Jewish, Christian and Pagan works. (EB. iii, 3486.)
Besides the above complete "Gospel" forgeries, there are several more, and fragments of others, which purport to contain "sayings" attributed to Jesus which are not contained in the Four Gospels; and which are known as Agrapha, that is, things not written. Among these are the Logia of Oxyrhynchus above mentioned; the Fayum gospel-fragment, a papyrus purporting to give words of Christ to Peter at the Last Supper, "in a form which diverges largely by omissions from any in the canonical gospels." (EB. i, 258.) These Agrapha "do not embrace the lengthy sections ascribed to Jesus in the 'Didiscalin' and the 'Pistis Sophia'; these works also contain some brief quotations of alleged words of Jesus; ... nor the Sayings contained in religious romances, such as we find in the apocryphal Gospels, the apocryphal Acts, or the Letter of Christ to Abgar. ... In patristic citations ... Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, make false quotations,"-citing instances. (CE. i, 225, 226.) In the class of Agrapha are also "words in the Gospels not regarded as genuine, as Mt. vi, 13b; xvii, 21; Mk. xvi, 9-20; John vii, 53; viii, 2; also alleged quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament not found in the Old Testament." (NIE. 1, 240.)
Of apocryphal Acts of Apostles we are edified by the Acts, or Travels, (Greek, Pereodui) of Peter, (and separately) of John, of Thomas, of Andrew, and of Paul; another Acts of Philip, Acts of Matthew, of Bartholomew, of John, of judas Thomas. There is a whole collection of Martyrdoms of the several Apostles. Of apocryphal Epistles, the most famous is the Correspondence between the Abgar of Edessa, and Jesus; between the Roman Philosopher Seneca and Paul; apocryphal Epistles of Paul, to the Laodiceans, to the Alexandrians, the Third Epistle to the Corinthians. Forged Apocalypses abound, of which that of Peter, the Vision of Hermas, the Vision of Paul, the Apocalypse of Paul, the Apocalypse of the Virgin Mary. The didactic Preaching of Peter, the Teaching of the Apostles, or Didache, containing warnings against Judaism and polytheism, and words of Jesus to the Apostles; another set containing a lament of Peter for his denial of Jesus, and various ethical maxims a Syriac Preaching of Simon Cephas; a collection of Hymns or Odes of Solomon. As if these were not enough for Christian edification, "many heretical or Gnostic works of the same apocryphal kind were changed into orthodox by expurgation of objectionable matter or by rewriting, using the same outlines; thus a series of Catholic Acts was produced, written from an orthodox standpoint." (NIE. i, 748.) A very celebrated forgery was the Shepherd of Hermas, forged by Hermas,' supposed brother of Pius, Bishop of Rome, about 150 A.D. See the vast catalogue (CE. i, 601-615).
A whole literature of Christian forgery grew up and had immense vogue under the designation of Acts Pilati, or Acts of Pilate. One of the most popular of these was called the Gospel of Nicodemus, of which CE. says: "The alleged Hebrew original is attributed to Nicodemius [sic]; the title is of medieval origin. The apocryphon gained wide credit in the Middle Ages. ... The 'Acta' are of orthodox composition. The book aimed at gratifying the desire for extra-evangelical details concerning oar Lord, and at the same time, to strengthen faith in the Resurrection of Christ, and at general edification." (i, 3.) The Descent into Hades is an enlargement of the reputed official acts or repots of Pilate to the Roman Emperor. Speaking of the Pilate Literature as a whole, the Catholic Encyclopedia, in a paragraph which pointedly admits the falsifying frauds of three luminous liars and forgers of the Faith, Justin Martyr, the great Bishop Eusebius, and Father Tertullian, explains that these Acta "dwell upon the part which a representative [Pilate] of the Roman Empire played in the supreme events of our Lord's life, and to shape the testimony of Pontius Pilate, even at the cost of exaggeration and amplification-[hear the soft-pedaling note], into a weapon of apologetic defense, making the official bear witness to the miracles, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. ... It is characterized by exaggerating Pilate's weak defense of Jesus into a strong sympathy and practical belief in his Divinity." (CE. i, 609.) Father Tertullian, in his Apologia (xxi), relates the Report of Pilate to the Emperor, sketching the miracles and death of Jesus Christ, and says, "All these things Pilate announced to Tiberius Caesar." Bishop Eusebius thus relates the fable as taken from the Apologia of Father Tertullian: "The fame of Our Lord's remarkable resurrection and ascension being now spread abroad, ... Pontius Pilate transmits to Tiberius an account of the circumstances concerning the resurrection of our Lord from the dead. ... In this account, he also intimated that he had ascertained other miracles respecting him, and that having now risen from the dead, he was believed to be a God by the great mass of the people. Tiberius referred the matter to the Senate, ... being obviously pleased with the doctrine; but the Senate, as they had not proposed the matter, [rejected it]. But he continued in his opinion, threatening death to the accusers of the Christians; a divine providence infusing this into his mind, that the Gospel having freer scope in its commencement, might spread everywhere over the world." (Eusebius, HE. II, 2.) Father Justin Martyr, in his Apologia, "appeals confidently as a proof of them to the 'Acta' or records of Pilate, existing in the imperial archives." Eusebius, relates spurious anti-Christian Acts of Pilate composed in the fourth century, the Acta Pilati or Gospel of Nicodemus, Anphora Pilati, Paradoseis; a still later fabrication is the Latin Epistola Pilati ad Tiberium, Also the Letter of Herod to Pilate and Letter of Pilate to Herod; the Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea. The pseudo-Correspondence of Jesus with Abgar, King of Edessa, is found in Eusebius (Hist. Eccles., I, xiii), "who vouches that he himself translated it from the Syriac documents in the archives of Edessa, the metropolis, of Eastern Syria. ... 'This,' adds Eusebius, 'happened in the year 340 of the Seleucid era, corresponding to A.D. 28-29.'" (CE. i, 609, 610.) More monumental lies to the glory of God than those of the distinguished Church Fathers are not "A collection of apocryphal Acts of the Apostles was formed in the Frankish Church in the sixth century, probably by a monk." (Ib. p. 610.) There were also "the works accredited to Dionysius the Areopagite, who was not the author of the works bearing his name." (Ib. p. 638.)
Of highest importance because "these Acts are the chief source for details of the martyrdom of the two great Apostles," as admits the CE., special notice is made of the "Catholic" Acts of Sts. Peter and Paul, of which many MSS of "the legend" existed, the material import of which is thus not quite honestly summarized: "The Jews have been aroused by the news of Paul's intended visit (to Rome), and induce Nero to forbid it. Nevertheless the Apostle secretly enters Italy; his companion is mistaken for himself at Puteoli and beheaded. In retribution that city is swallowed up by the sea. Peter receives Paul at Rome with joy. The preaching of the Apostles converts multitudes and even the Empress. Simon Magus traduces the Christian teachers, and there is a test of strength in miracles between that magician and the Apostles, which takes place in the presence of Nero. Simon essays a flight to heaven but falls in the Via Sacra and is dashed to pieces, Nevertheless, Nero is bent on the destruction of Peter and, Paul. The latter is beheaded on the Ostian Way, and Peter is crucified at his request head downward. Before his death he relates to the people the 'Quo Vadis?' story. Three men from the East carry off the Apostles' bodies but are overtaken. St. Peter is buried at 'the place called the Vatican,' and Paul on the Ostian Way. These Acts are the chief source for details of the martyrdom of the two great Apostles. They are also noteworthy as emphasizing the close concord between the Apostolic founders of the Roman Church." (CE. i, 611-12.)
The reader is desired to bear well in mind the foregoing paragraph, and particularly the last two sentences, the former of immense significance when we come to review the falsified fiction of the foundation of the Roman Church by Peter,-the "chief source" of which portentous claim is confessedly founded on the crude and fantastic "legend"' of an admittedly forged document. Another admission of forgery by the Fathers, before introducing them formally, may be noted:, "Such known works as the Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistle of Barnabas, the Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, and the Apostolic Canons and Constitutions, though formally apocryphal, really belong to patristic literature" (CE. i, 601),-that is, they are forged writings of the Fathers.
THE FORGED "APOSTLES' CREED"
The "Apostles' Creed," forged by the Fathers several centuries after the Apostles, must be added to the Patristic list. Of this famous Creed, which every Christian presumably knows by rote and piously recites in numberless services, CE. again confesses it spurious: "Throughout the Middle Ages it was generally believed that the Apostles, on the day of Pentecost, while still under the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost, composed our present Creed, each of the Apostles contributing one of the Twelve articles. This legend dates back to the sixth century, and is foreshadowed still earlier in a sermon attributed to St. Ambrose, which takes notice that the Creed was 'pieced out by twelve separate workmen.'" (CE. i, 629.) Indeed, "not a few works have been falsely attributed to St. Ambrose." (CE. i, 387; cf. p. 406.)
We may smile at the peculiarly clerical way in which CE. would "whitewash" the great Bishop of Milan, St. Ambrose (?c. 340-397), from the lie direct which admittedly he told in that Sermon,-saying that the Bishop simply "takes notice that the creed was pieced out," etc.; the truth being that Ambrose positively affirmed the fable as truth, and may have invented it. His positive words are; "that the Twelve Apostles, as skilled artificers, assembled together, and made a key by their common advice, that is, the Creed; by which the darkness of the devil is disclosed, that the light of Christ may appear." (Ambrose, Opera, tom. iii., Sermon 38, p. 265; quoted in The New Testament Apocrypha, New York, The Truth Seeker Co.)-a work which I feel impelled to commend to all who wish to know at first hand the 25 remarkable Church "Gospel" forgeries there collected.
THE FORGED ATHANASIAN CREED
In likewise the celebrated Athanasian Creed of the Church, attributed to St. Athanasius and so held by the Church "until the seventeenth century" (CE. ii, 34), with most evil results, is now an admitted forgery. In words of Gibbon: "St. Athanasius is not the author of the creed; it does not appear to have existed within a century after his death; it was composed in Latin, therefore in one of the Western provinces. Gennadius, patriarch of Constantinople, was so much amazed by this extraordinary composition, that he frankly pronounced it to be the work of a drunken man." (Petav. Dogmat. Theologica, tom. ii, 1, vii, c. 8, p. 687; Gibbon, p. 598.)
JESUS CHRIST'S FORGED LETTERS
We may look for a moment at several of the most notorious of the forgeries perpetrated for the glory of God and for imposture upon the superstitious Christians to enhance Pagan credulity in the tales of Christ. If the Gospel tales were true, why should God need pious lies to give them credit? Lies and forgeries are only needed to bolster up falsehood: "Nothing stands in need of lying but a lie." But Jesus Christ must needs be propagated by lies; upon lies, and what better proof of his actuality than to exhibit letters written by him in his own handwriting? The "Little Liars of the Lord" were equal to the forgery of the signature of their God,-false letters in his name, as above cited from that exhaustless mine of clerical falsities, the Catholic Encyclopedia, which again describes them, and proves that they 'Were forged by their great Bishop of Caesaria: "The historian Eusebius records [HE. I, xii], a legend which he himself firmly believes concerning a correspondence that took place between Our Lord and the local potentate (Abgar) at Edessa. Three documents relate to this correspondence: (1) the Letter of Abgar to Our Lord; (2) Our Lord's answer; (3) a picture of Our Lord, painted from life. This legend enjoyed a great popularity, both in the East, and in the West, during the Middle Ages. Our Lord's Letter was copied on parchment, marble, and metal, and used as a talisman or an amulet." (CE. i, 42.) But it is not true, as we have seen already confessed, that Eusebius innocently believed that these forgeries were genuine-for they were all shamelessly forged by Eusebius himself: "who vouches that he himself translated it from the Syriac documents in the archives of Edessa." (CE. i, 610.) Again it is said by CE., that these forged letters, with the portrait, were "accepted by Eusebius without hesitation, and used by ?Addison in his work on Christian Evidences as genuine" (Ib. vi, 217).
It should be mentioned, first, that Abgar was not a personal name of a King of Edessa, but was a generic title of all the rulers of that small state: "By this title all the ?toparchs of Edessa were called, just as the Roman Emperors were called Caesars, the Kings of Egypt Pharaohs or Ptolemies, the Kings of Syria Antiochi." (ANF. viii, 651, note.) With this first check on the forging Bishop, here is what he said in his Church history, Book I, chapter the thirteenth. (p. 63 seq.) Note the false fervor of the holy Bishop to sugar-coat his circumstantial and commodious lie and fraud: "While the Godhead of our Saviour and Lord Jesus, Christ was proclaimed among all men by reason of the astonishing mighty-works which He wrought, and myriads, even from countries remote from the land of Judaea, who were afflicted with sicknesses and diseases of every kind, were coming to him in the hope of being healed, King Abgar sent him a letter asking Him to come and heal him of his disease. But our Saviour at the time he asked Him did not comply with his request. Yet He deigned to give him a letter in reply. ... Thou hast in writing the evidence of these things, which is taken from the Book of Records which was at Edessa; for at that time the Kingdom was still standing. In the documents, then, which were there, in which was contained whatever was done by those of old down to the time of Abgar, these things are also found preserved down to the present hour. There is, however, nothing to prevent our hearing the very letters themselves, which have been taken by us from the archives, and are in words to this effect, translated from Aramaic into Greek.
"Copy of the letter which was written by King Abgar to Jesus, and sent to him by the hand of Ananias-[the Bishop was the Ananias in this tale, and aptly named his letter-carrier],-the Tabularius, to Jerusalem:
'Abgar the Black, sovereign of the country, to Jesus, the good Saviour, who has appeared in the country of Jerusalem: Peace. I have heard about Thee, and about the healing which is wrought by Thy hands without drugs and roots. For, as it is reported, Thou makest the blind to see, and the lame to walk; and Thou cleansest the lepers, and Thou castest out unclean spirits and demons, and Thou healest those who are tormented with lingering diseases, and Thou raisest the dead. And when I heard all these things about Thee, I settled in my mind one of two things: either that Thou art God, who has come down from heaven, and doest these things; or that Thou art the Son of God, and doest these things. On this account, therefore, I have written to beg of Thee that Thou wouldest weary Thyself to come to me, and heal this disease which I have. For I have also heard that the Jews murmur against Thee, and wish to do Thee harm. But I have a city, small and beautiful, which is sufficient for two.'
"Copy of those things which were written by Jesus in reply by the hand of Ananias, the Tabularius, to Abgar, sovereign of the country:-
'Blessed is he that believeth in me, not having seen me. For it is written concerning me, that those who see me will not believe in me, and that those will believe who have not seen me, and will be saved. But touching that which thou hast written to me, that I should come to thee it is meet that I should finish here all that for the sake of which I have been sent; and, after I have finished it, then I shall be taken up to Him that sent me; and, when I have been taken up, I will send to thee one of my disciples, that he may heal thy disease, and give salvation to thee and to those who are with thee.'
"To these letters moreover, is appended the following, also in the Aramaic tongue",-here following the official record of the visit of one "Thaddaeus the apostle, one of the Seventy," and him wonderful works in Edessa. "These things were done in the year 340. In order, moreover that these things may not have been translated to no purpose word for word from the Aramaic into Greek, they are placed in their order of time here. Here endeth the first book." (HE. i, 13; ANF. viii, 651-653.) Bishop Eusebius is thus seen to have been a most circumstantial liar and a well-skilled forger for God. From this episcopal lie sprouted like toadstools a whole literature of "various books concerning Abgar the King and Thaddaeus the Apostle," in which are preserved to posterity a series of five letters-very much in the style of modern patent-medicine testimonials-written by Abgar to Tiberius Caesar and to neighboring potentates, endorsing Jesus and his healing powers; with a reply from Tiberius declaring that "Pilate has officially informed us of the miracles of Jesus.". With respect to the other letters testimonial, it is recorded: "Abgar had not yet received answers to these letters when he died, having reigned thirty-eight years." (Ibid. pp. 657-741, 706.)
These crass episcopal forgeries were welcomed into the Church, and for fifteen centuries have gone unrebuked by Pope or Church. Even since the Reformation so strong was the belief in the Abgar-Jesus forgeries, that notable prelates in England including Archbishop Cave, have "strenuously contended for their admission into the canon scripture. ... The Reverend Jeremiah Jones observes, that common people in England have this Epistle in their houses, in many places, fixed in a frame, with the picture of Christ before it; and that they generally, with much honesty and devotion, regard it as the word of God, and the genuine Epistle of Christ." (Quoted in editorial note to the Epistles, in The Lost Books of the Bible, p. 62.) To such state of superstitious credulity does the Church with its pious impostures prostitute the minds of its ignorant and credulous votaries. The portrait of Jesus, referred to above, is said, in other versions of the Letter, to have been sent by Jesus to the King; this portrait is now displayed at both Rome and Genoa. (NIE. i, 38.)
OTHER FORGERIES FOR CHRIST'S SAKE
The pious fancy of the Fathers forged another official Letter, in the name of what CE. calls "a fictitious person," one Lentulus, pretended predecessor of Pilate as governor of Judaea, to the Roman Senate, giving a description of the personal appearance of Jesus Christ, and closing with the words, "He is the most beautiful of the sons of men." This letter, says CE. "was certainly apocryphal"; it was first printed in the Life of Christ, by Ludolph the Christian; though it is thought to be traceable to the time of Diocletian. (CE. ix, 154.) This notion of the personal beauty of Jesus is not shared by the "tradition" of the Fathers; for Jesus Christ is declared by Cyril of Alexandria to have been "the ugliest of the sons of men"; a tradition also declared by Fathers Justin Martyr and Tertullian; to offset which evil notion there was forged "a beautiful Letter, purporting to have been written by Lentulus to the Roman Senate." (Ib. vi, 235.) But St. Augustine, says CE., "mentions that in his time there was no authentic portrait of Christ, and that the type of features was still undetermined, so that we have absolutely no knowledge of His appearance." (De Trinitate, lib. vii, ch. 4,5; CE. vi, 211, n.)
This, however, is contrary to the venerated Church fable and artistic forgery current under the title of "St. Veronica's Veil," based on the tale in Luke (xxvii, 27) of the woman of Jerusalem who offered to Jesus a linen cloth to wipe his face as he was carrying his cross towards Calvary. On wiping his sweating face, the supposed authentic likeness of the features of the Christ was miraculously impressed upon the cloth. The lucky lady "went to Rome, bringing with her this image of Christ, which was long exposed to public veneration. To her are likewise traced several other relies of the Blessed Virgin venerated in several Churches of the West. To distinguish at Rome the oldest and best known of these images it was called vera icon (true image), which ordinary language soon made veronica ... By degrees popular Imagination mistook this word for the name of a person" (CE. xv, 362),-and, Lo! Saint Veronica emerges from the canonizing Saint-mill of Holy Church. Here we plainly see myth-in-the-making; and may appreciate the moral splendor as well as crafty thriftiness of the Church of God which thus supplies its Faithful ready-made with one of the most cherished female Saints of the Calendar,-a confessed myth and forgery. His Holiness especially displayed and vouched for this fake on March 19, 1930, when he preached his crusade against Russia. But the Church also, in the Roman Martyrology, credits this holy icon to Milan, so as to fool many other Faithful. (Ib. p. 363.) This mythical female Saint "has also been confounded with a pious woman who, according to [Bishop] Gregory of Tours, brought to the neighboring town of Bazas some drops of the blood of John the Baptist, at whose beheading she was present," and CE. doesn't even wink. (Ib.)
JOSEPHUS FORGERY TESTIFIES OF JESUS
So many confessed Christian forgeries in Pagan and Christian names having been wrought to testify to Jesus Christ, it was, "one naturally expects," says CE., that a Jewish "writer so well informed as Josephus" must know and tell about Jesus; "one naturally expects, therefore, a notice about Jesus Christ in Josephus." And with pride it pursues: "Antiquities, VIII, iii, 3, seems to satisfy this expectation." It proceeds to quote the passage, which differeth only as one translation naturally differs from another, from that in the Whitson translation; so I follow CE. In Chapter iii Josephus treats of "Sedition of the Jews against Pontius Pilate"; in section 1 he relates the cause and the suppression of the mutiny, the ensigns of the army displaying the idolatrous Roman Eagle, brought into the Holy City; in section 2 he tells of the action of Pilate in bringing "a current of water to Jerusalem, and did it with the sacred money," thus again arousing a clash with the fanatics; "there were great numbers of them slain by this means." Passing for the moment the notorious section 3, Josephus the Jew begins section 4: "About the same time, also, another sad calamity put the Jews in disorder," which he proceeds to relate, ending the long chapter. Note that these section numbers were not put in by Josephus, but are modern editor's devices to facilitate citation, like the chapters and verses in the Bible. And now for the much-debated section, sandwiched, in a whole chapter on "Seditions of the Jews," between the accounts of two massacres of his countrymen and "another sad calamity"; and thus we read-note the parentheses of CE. (viii, 376):-
"About this time," quotes CE., "appeared Jesus, a wise man (if indeed it is right to call Him a man; for He was a worker of astonishing deeds, a teacher of such men an receive the truth with joy), and He drew to Himself many Jews (and many also of the Greeks. This was the Christ). And when Pilate, at the denunciation of those that are foremost among us, had condemned Him to the cross, those who had first loved Him did not abandon Him. (For He appeared to them alive on the third day, the holy prophets having foretold this and countless other marvels about Him.) The tribe of Christians named after Him did not cease to this day." (sec. 3.)
About this time, also "another sad calamity [?] put the Jews into disorder," (sec. 4). continues Josephus. CE. devotes over three long columns to the task of trying to prove that this section 3, or at least "the portions not in parentheses,"-is genuine, and was written, sometime before his death in 94 A.D., by the Jewish Pharisee, Josephus. "A testimony so important," well says CE., "could not escape the critics,"-and it has not. We cannot follow the lengthy and labored arguments; the simple reading or the section, in its bizarre context, and a moment's reflection, condemn it as a pious Christian forgery. If the Pharisee Josephus wrote that paragraph, he must have believed that Jesus was the Prophesied Messiah of his people-"This was the Christ." Josephus is made to aver, he must then needs have been of "the tribe of Christians named after Him." But whatever Josephus may have said about Jesus is, indeed, not "a testimony so important"-when we remember what he did aver that he saw with his own eyes; the pillar of salt into which Mrs. Lot was turned; and Eleazar the magician drawing the devil by a ring and Solomonic incantations, through the nose of one possessed, before Vespasian and all his army. If Josephus had written that he knew Jesus the Christ personally, and had personally seen him ascend into heaven through the roof of the room in Jerusalem (Mk. xvi, 19, 20), or from the open countryside by Bethany (Lk. xxiv, 50, 51), or "on the mount called Olivet" (Acts i, 9, 12),-we should remember that pillar of salt and that devil-doctor, and smile.
But, when and how did this famous passage get into The Antiquities of the Jews? It is pertinent to ask. The first mention ever made of this passage, and its text, are in the Church History of that "very dishonest writer," Bishop Eusebius, in the fourth century,-he who forged the Letters between Abgar and Jesus, falsely declaring that he had found the original documents in the official archives, whence he had copied and translated them into his Ecclesiastical History. CE. admits, and I have the Contra Celsum here before me,-that "the above cited passage was not known to Origen and the earlier patristic writers,"-though they copied from Josephus the forged tale of the Letter of Aristeas about the translating of the Septuagint; and "its very place in the Josephan text is uncertain, since Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., II, vi) must have found it before the notices concerning Pilate, while it now stands after them" (HE. I, ii, p. 63); and it makes the curious argument, which implies a confession: "But the spuriousness of the disputed Josephan passage does not imply the historian's ignorance of the facts connected with Jesus Christ"! For a wonder, that "a writer so well informed as Josephus" should not, perhaps, know by hearsay, sixty years after Jesus Christ, some of the remarkable things circulated about him in current country-side gossip-(if, indeed, it were then current). But the fact is, that with the exception of this one incongruous forged passage, section 3, the wonder-mongering Josephus makes not the slightest mention of his wonder-working fellow-countryman, Jesus the Christ, -- though some score of other Joshuas, or Jesuses, are recorded by him, nor does he mention any of his transcendent wonders, But, as CE. and I were saying, none of the Fathers, before Eusebius (about 324), knew or could find a word in the works of Josephus, of this momentous "testimony to Jesus," over a century after Origen. That it did not exist in the time of Origen is explicit by his own words; he cites the supposed references by Josephus to John the Baptist and to James, and expressly says that Josephus ought to have spoken of Jesus instead of James; though Origen does not correctly describe the reference to James; and the James passage, if not that also about John, has a suspicious savor of interpolation.
For a clear understanding of this, I will quote the passage of Origen in his work against Celsus; it completely refutes the claim that Josephus wrote the disputed and forged section 3. Origen says:
"I would like to say to Celsus, who represents the Jew accepting John somehow as a Baptist, who baptized Jesus, that the existence of John the Baptist, baptizing for the remission of sins, is related by one who lived no great time after John and Jesus. For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple [said that it was 'to avenge James the Just'], whereas he ought to have said that the conspiracy against Jesus was the cause of these calamities befalling the people, since they put to death Christ, who was a prophet, says nevertheless-being, although against his will, not far from the truth-that these disasters happened to the Jews as a punishment for the death of James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus (called Christ),-the Jews having put him to death, although he was a man most distinguished for his justice." (Origen, Contra Celsum, I, xlvii; ANF. iv, 416.)
Josephus is thus quoted as bearing witness to John the Baptist, not as the Heaven-sent "forerunner" of the Christ, but simply as a Jewish religious teacher and baptizer on his own account; and not a word by Josephus about the Christ, in whom it is admitted that he did not believe as such, nor even mentions as the most illustrious of those baptized by John, to the wondrous accompaniment of a voice from Heaven and the Holy Ghost in dove-like descent upon his head as he came up from the water. But Origen, in his effort to get some Christian testimony from him, misquotes Josephus and makes him say that John was baptizing "for the remission of sins," whereas Josephus expressly says that the efficacy of John's baptism was not for remission of sin but for the purification of the body, as any washing would be. To vindicate Josephus against Origen, the former's words are quoted. Josephus recounts the defeat of Herod by Aretas, king of Arabia Petrea; and goes on to say:-
"Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness toward one another, and piety toward God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away of some sins, but for the purification of the body: supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now, when many others came in crowds about him, for they were greatly moved by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late. Accordingly, he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death."- (Josephus, Antiq. Jews, Bk. XVIII, v, 2.)
Beginning in section 4 of the same Book, and at length in various chapters, Josephus goes into details regarding Salome; but never a word of the famous dance-act and of the head of John the Baptist being brought in on a charger to gratify her murderous whim: the historical reason for the murder of John was political, not amorous or jealous, as related by Gospel-truth.
Father Origen again falls into error in citing Josephus, this time in the dubious passage where Josephus, who does not believe in the Christ, yet gives him that title in speaking of the death of James. With typical clerical bent Father Origen imputes the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple to the sin of the Jews in crucifying the Christ; and says that Josephus, in seeking the cause of the disasters which befell the Holy City and people, attributes them to the killing of the Christ's brother. The Holy City and temple were destroyed in 70 A.D., which was well after the time of the supposititious James, as his demise is recorded in the suspected passage of Josephus. He related the death of Festus, which was in 62 A.D., the appointment by Nero of Albinus as his successor, and the murder of James at the instigation of the high priest Ananus, before Albinus can arrive. this sentence is to be read in the text of Josephus:
"Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he (Ananus) assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formulated an accusation against them all breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned."- (Jos., Antiq. Jews, Bk. XX, ix, i.)
Bishop Eusebius cannot pass over this chance to turn another Jewish testimony for his Christ; he says that "The wiser part of the Jews were of the opinion that this-(the killing of James)-was the cause of the immediate siege of Jerusalem ... Josephus also has not hesitated to superadd his testimony in his works. "These things,' he says, 'happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was the brother of him that is called Christ, and whom the Jews had slain, notwithstanding his preeminent justice.'" (Euseb. Hist. Eccles. Bk. II, ch. 23.)
The reader may judge of the integrity of these pretended Jewish testimonies to the Baptist and to the brother of the Christ, both suspicious per se, and both falsely cited by Father Origen, who in all this could not find the famous section 3, first found a century later by Bishop Eusebius; and which Origen makes it positive Josephus had not written and could not have written. Is it a violent suspicion, and uncharitable, to suggest that the holy Bishop who forged the Letter of his Christ, and lied about finding it in the Edessa archives, really "found," in the sense of invented, or forged, the Josephus passages first heard of in his Church History?
But Bishop Eusebius, with a sort of "stop thief" forethought, himself imputes forgery to those who would question or discredit his own pious inventions, while with unctuous fervor pretended truth he appeals to the wonderful "testimonies of Josephus," which he has just fabricated. After quoting and misquoting Josephus with respect to John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, he thur solemnly couches for their false witness: "When such testimony as this is transmitted to us by an historian who sprung from the Hebrews themselves, both respecting John the Baptist and our Savior, what subterfuge can be left, to prevent those from being convicted destitute of all shame, who have forged the acts against them?" (Eusebius, HE. I, xi.) The Bishop justly pronounces his own condemnation. This, says Gibbon, "is an example of no vulgar forgery." (Chap. xvi.) In view of the convicting circumstances, and of his notoriously bad record, it, is not uncharitable to impute this Josephus forgery to Bishop Eusebius.
THE OWL-ANGEL FORGERY
Another story of Pagan superstition related by Josephus, and twisted by the Christian invention of Bishop Eusebius and the sacred writers of Acts into inspired "history" and truth of God, is the celebrated angel-owl passage relating to the tragic death of the King, Herod Agrippa. Josephus tells that Herod went to Caesarea to attend a celebration in honor of Caesar; that as Herod entered the stadium, clad in a robe of silver tissue, the rays of the sun shone upon it resplendently, making him look like a supernatural being; whereupon the crowd cried out hailing him as more than mortal, as a god; but his mortality was quickly made evident by his sudden illness and death. It may be explained that the word "angel" (Greek, angelos) means simply "messenger" or herald. Thus proceeds Josephus:
"But" he [Herod] presently afterward looked up, he saw an owl sitting upon a certain rope over his head, and immediately understood that this bird was a messenger [Gr. angelos] of ill-tidings." Herod was shortly seized with "severe pains in his belly," and died after five days of suffering."- (Jos. Antiq. Jews, XIX, viii, 2.)
This was too Paganish and prosaic for the pious Christian fancy of Bishop Eusebius; so while he was forging the "Jesus passage," he proceeded to give Christian embellishment for edification to the "owl" story, with its use of the word "angelos." So he quotes in full the narration of Josephus, under the chapter heading "Herod Agrippa persecuting the Apostles, immediately experienced divine Judgment." he first relates the "martyrdom of James" by Herod, and the imprisonment of Peter, as recorded in Acts, and proceeds: "The consequences, however, of the king's attempts against the apostles, were not long deferred, but the avenging minister of divine justice soon overtook him. ... As it is also recorded in the book of Acts, he proceeded to Caesarea, and there on a noted festival, being clad in a splendid and royal dress, he harangued the people. ... The whole people applauding him for his harangue, as it were the voice of a god, and not of a man, the Scriptures relate, 'that the angel of the Lord immediately smote him and being consumed by worms, he gave up the ghost.' It is wonderful to observe, likewise, in this singular event, the coincidence of the history given by Josephus, with that of the sacred Scriptures. In this he [Josephus] plainly adds his testimony to the truth, in the nineteenth book of his Antiquities, where he relates the miracles in the following words: [here quoting Josephus in full, until he reaches the owl-story, when he thus falsifies]:-'After a little While, raising himself, he saw an angel [angelos] hanging over his head upon a rope,, and this he knew immediately to be an omen of evil'! Thus far Josephus: in which statement, as in others, I can but admire his agreement with the divine Scriptures"! (Eusebius, HE. II, x.) An angel hanging on a rope over one's head might well have been taken by a superstitious person as ominous of something-maybe of a hung angel. This pious story, with the owl piously metamorphosed into an angel, was apparently cribbed from Josephus also by the writer of Acts, or maybe "interpolated" into it by the fanciful Bishop. There we find this Pagan-Jewish anecdote retold by divine inspiration thus embellished over Josephus and Eusebius: "And immediately the angel of the Lord [Gr. angelos Kurioul smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms and gave up the ghost"! (Acts xii, 20-23.) Note the almost identical words, except for the progressive embellishments: Josephus' owl thus became first an angel of evil omen, then the avenging minister of the wrath of God, aided by devouring worms to give true Christian zest and spite to the simple Pagan superstition. Herod probably died from acute indigestion caused by the excesses of the festivities, or from an attack of peritonitis or appendicitis. Profane history of the event does not chronicle the devouring, avenging worms of God.
The forgery of pious documents of every imaginable character was among the most constant and zealous activities of the holy propagandists of the Christian Faith, from the beginning to the critical era when forgeries were no longer possible or profitable. A fitting close to this review is the following omnibus confession-the Churches cheating each other by forgeries:
"Indeed, in later times, we hear of recovered autographs of Apostolic writings in the controversies about the Apostolic origin of some Churches or about claims for metropolitan dignity. So the autograph of the Gospel of St. Matthew was said to have been found in Cyprus. ... Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. vii, 19) relates that in his time the seat of St. James was as yet extant in Jerusalem. Of old pictures of Apostles, see Eusebius, ibid, vii, 18. Whether or not even the oldest of these statements are historically true remains still a mooted question. We regard it as useless to record what may be found on these topirg in the vast amount of matter that makes up the apocryphal Acts of the Apostles and other legendary documents." (CE. 635.)
Among some of these not already mentioned are found "The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Canons of Pseudo-Hippolytus, The Egyptian Church Ordinance." (CE. i, 636.) Also: "In the last years of the fifth century a famous document attributed to Popes Gelasius and Hormisdas adds ... a list of books disapproved, the works of heretics, and forged Scriptural documents." (CE. vi, 4.) A glance at the Index-volume of CE. reveals the numerous forged works attributed to many of the Fathers of the early Church, listed under the word Pseudo, or false, which word is to be understood as prefixed to each of the following names: Pseudo-Alquin, Ambrosius, Antoninus, Areopagite, Athanasius, Augustine, Barnabas, Callisthenes, Chrysostom, Clement, Epiphanius, Gelasius, Gregory, Nazianzen, Hegesippus, Hippolytus, Ignatius, Isidore, Jonathan, Justin, Matthew, Prochorus, Tertullian, Zaeharius. The pious ignorant "Christians, who for the most part are untrained and illiterate persons," as shown in the Octavius of Minucius Felix (V, xi), and the whole Church, were gulled by these frauds for a thousand years.
Before looking into the forgery of the New Testament Books, we shall first draw, from their own words, cameo pen-sketches of those great men of God and of Holy Church, who under the fond name of Fathers, but with the minds and devious ways of little children, forged the sacred documents of the Faith, and by their pious labors of fraud and forgery founded what is credulously called the Church of Christ and the Most Holy Christian Faith.
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