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science flashed its light upon the darkness of Europe.” Even then the Church intercepted its rays as far as possible, and she might have succeeded in restoring the old darkness had it not been for the Renaissance, which was simply the restoration of the classic art, literature, and philosophy of Greece and Rome, and the political reconstruction of Europe, which, by inducing quarrels between princes and popes, led to the so-called Reformation, by which the bondage of one form of ecclesiasticism was exchanged for another—from the slavery of the Pope to that of the Bible. But, on the principle of two dictators being better than one, freedom of opinion to a large extent has been restored, with the result that science and knowledge have made wonderful progress throughout Europe ; it is, however, not because of the reformed Christianism, but in spite of it. Still we recognize the release from the greater bondage as an inestimable benefit, for by it we have obtained liberty. The leaders in every branch of intellectual activity have always been accounted as heretics. And, while intellectual progress has thus been inspired by scepticism, the civil government still largely remains in the hands of orthodoxy.
PYTHAGORAS AND JESUS—LEGENDARY CHARACTER OF
THE MIRACULOUS BIRTH OF JESUS—THE SILENCE OF CONTEMPORARY HISTORY–MARKS OF DIVINITY—THE PLACE OF JESUS IN THE Trinity_CHRISTIAN DEFINITION OF THEIR DEITY.
THERE is a striking similarity observable in the early histories of Pythagoras and Jesus, as there was between Bacchus and Jesus, which it is impossible to ignore. Both were natives of the same country, Syria ; the former being born at Samos (B.C. 582), and the latter at Bethlehem; both were Essenian monks, which accounts for the conspicuous absence of the Essene name in the N. T.; both spent their early days in Egypt, being instructed in magic, astrology, and priestcraft; the fathers of both had “revelations” that their wives would miraculously conceive and bring forth sons who would be benefactors to mankind; and both were born when their mothers were from home on journeys. The history of Pythagoras gives us a good insight into the way legends are evolved, as that was evolved which contained the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus. The mother of Pythagoras was said to have had connection with the ghost of the god Apollo (“Sol” of Rome), which afterwards appeared to her husband in a vision, and forbade him to have connection with his wife during her pregnancy. The mother of Jesus was said to be pregnant by the ghost of Yahuh, and her husband Joseph had a vision in which he was commanded not to put her away because of her condition. There was nothing unusual in the idea of ghosts being the fathers of human offspring ; and it not only offered an excuse for the condition when unlawfully acquired, but it had been a very ancient pagan custom for women, apart from the vestal virgins generally kept on the premises, to sacrifice themselves to the gods or their ghosts in the temples, which meant, literally, prostitution with the priests.
Pythagoras was, like Jesus, called the “Son of God," and was carried from Egypt to Babylon by the Persian King Cambyses, son of Cyrus, where he was initiated into the doctrines and learning of the Persian Magi (magicians), and then to India, where he was instructed in Brahmanism. In later life he returned to Egypt to be instructed in astronomy and divination by the priests there.
The legendary character of the miraculous birth of the Christian Messiah as given in the N. T. is, of course, perfectly obvious when the narratives are looked into and examined. In the Matthew gospel we are told that it took place when Herod was king. Now, Herod was made Governor of Judæa (a province of Syria) B.C. 40, under the Emperor Anthony, and died at Jericho six years before the date fixed for the birth of Jesus, on his way home from Calirrhoe (a watering-place near Athens), where he had been to take the baths. So that he was not in Jerusalem at all after B.C. 6. The Luke gospel tells us that it took place when Quirinus (Cyrenius) was Governor of Judæa, and when Augustus was Emperor. Now Quirinus was proconsul of Syria from 5 to 14 C.E., and Augustus died 5 C.E. So that, according to Matthew, the birth took place B.č. 6 or 7, and, according to Luke, in the fifth year of the Christian era—a difference of eleven or twelve years. Both cannot be right.
As we have before seen, very little is known of Joshua called Jesus. The only person of this name known about the time when the events recorded of him are said to have occurred was Joshua-ben-Pandira, and he died about seventy years before the time pitched upon by the Essenes for his birth. In the Talmud he is spoken of as “the hanged one,” and the same book states that he “learned magic, was a seducer of the people, and was stoned and subsequently hung as a blasphemer” at Lydia on the eve of the Passover B.C. 70. Everything in the life of this man tallies significantly with events recorded of Jesus, and there can be very little doubt that the details— legendary and real—of that life have been utilized by the Essenes for the purpose of formulating the Jessæo-Messianic
scheme, in combination with the ancient cult of the Bacchantian les or lesous. Gautama the Buddha was no doubt an historical personage, but the sun-god mythos has been added to his history to such an extent that it is extremely difficult to distinguish the man Gautama from the mythical Gautama—the Buddha. The same may be said of Alexander the Great, Julius Cæsar, Cyrus (who set free the Jews from captivity in Babylon), and others.
The only records we have of Jesus are from tainted sources; and contemporary history, which must have testified to him and his “wonderful doings,” is ominously silent.
If Jesus had gone about Judæa, followed by a street rabble, proclaiming himself a “prophet,” choosing twelve apostles, riding triumphantly into Jerusalem, while the rabble strewed branches in his way, beating respectable merchants with cords, and turning them out of the market in the Temple court, upsetting their stalls, scattering their goods and money, calling them “fools,” “ vipers," "hypocrites," "sons of hell,” and other offensive names (Matt. xxiii. 15-33), we should certainly have seen some mention in contemporary history of the stir that most assuredly would have been made; and we cannot conceive such riotous conduct on the part of a young man against wealthy and respectable merchants, without their immediately taking the law into their own hands and making short work of him. And what were the Roman soldiery doing, a cohort of which was always on duty at the temple, and which, Josephus tells us, “were armed, and kept guard at the festivals, to prevent any innovation which the multitude, thus gathered together, might make "*—and at this time, too, they were especially on the alert, for the elements of disorder were abroad? Since the death of Herod great political and social convulsions had taken place. “Between pretenders to the throne of Herod, and aspirants to the Messianic throne of David, Judæa was torn and devastated...... Claimant after claimant to the latter dangerous supremacy appeared, raised the banner, gathered a force, was attacked, defeated, and banished or hung." The ridiculous story told in John (ii. 14-16) shows that the writer had not a good acquaintance with Jewish customs,
* Wars, ii., xii. I.
or he would not have made Jesus say: “Take these things hence; make not my father's house a home of merchants.” Now, there was no profanation of the temple at all, for the market was carried on in the court of the Gentiles, not within the temple, as the Gospel would lead us to believe. This market was a custom, sanctioned by the priests and by ancient usage.*
1. There are the Gospels, which, as we have seen, are too contradictory, and the narratives contained in them too like those told of the numerous pagan Messiahs before him, to be genuine. 2. There is a passing notice of him in the Jewish Talmud. 3. There are two passages in Josephus which can be easily perceived, on examination, to be forged interpolations. And 4. There is a passage in the Annals of Tacitus, also shown to be a forgery.
1. The Gospel story of Jesus cannot stand a moment's criticism ; for the discrepancies are numerous, those between the John and the Matthew gospels being especially glaring. If Jesus was the man of the first gospel, he was not the mysterious being of the fourth; if his ministry was only one year long, it was not three years long; if he made but one journey to Jerusalem, he did not make many; if his method of teaching was that of the Synoptics, it was not that of the fourth gospel ; and if he were the Jew of the first, he was not the anti-Jew of the fourth. The few facts we may glean about him have to be guessed at from among a number of ghost stories—useless miracles, childish sayings, and borrowed dogmatic statements and platitudes reputed to him. In the Epistles his existence is implied, but hardly an incident in his life is mentioned, or a sentence that he uttered preserved. Paul, writing from twenty to thirty years after his death, has but one reference to anything that he ever said or did.
2. In the Talmud we should expect to find a good deal of notice of a person for whom Messiahship was claimed, with a special mission to the Jews, particularly when this tribe—for they never were a nation—were actually expecting a Messiah. But we have seen the bare mention only that is made of him.
3. In the Antiquities of Josephus (xviii. 3) an obvious
* Wars, ii., xii. 1.