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Title: Supernatural Religion, Vol. I. (of III) - An Inquiry into the Reality of Divine Revelation
Author: Cassels, Walter Richard, 1826-1907
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Supernatural Religion, Vol. I. (of III) - An Inquiry into the Reality of Divine Revelation" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



By Walter Richard Cassels

In Three Volumes: Vol. I.

Complete Edition.

Carefully Revised.


Longmans, Green, And Co.,


PG EDITOR'S NOTE: This file has been provided with an image of the
original scan for each page which is linked to the page number in the
html file. Nearly every page in the text has many Greek passages which
have been indicated where they occur by [———] as have many complex
tables; these passages may be viewed in the page images. Some of the
pages have only a few lines of text and then the rest of the page is
taken up with complex footnotes in English, Greek and Hebrew. The reader
may click on the page numbers in the html file to see the entire page
with the footnotes. —DW


In preparing a complete edition of this work, I have revised it
throughout. I have not hesitated to make any alterations, omissions or
additions which seemed to me likely to improve it. I have endeavoured as
much as possible to avoid presenting openings for side issues, and, with
this object, I have softened statements which, however sustainable in
themselves, might give rise to discussions apart from the direct purpose
of the Inquiry. Wherever my argument has appeared to me either involved
or insufficiently expressed I have as freely recast it as my limits
permitted, and I have in several parts introduced new data discovered
or elaborated since the work was first written, or which I may then have

In one instance only has any alteration been requisite which demands
special mention here. Since the sixth edition was published, I have been
convinced that Marcion's Gospel was based upon our third Synoptic, and I
have accordingly so far modified my results. It may not be unnecessary,
however, plainly to repeat that, with this exception, which is not
of material consequence, my convictions not only remain fundamentally
unchanged, but have been confirmed and strengthened both by thorough
reconsideration of my own argument, and by careful attention to the
replies made by able official apologists. As regards the philosophical
and other objections to miracles, their cogency is so fully recognized
that Bampton Lecturers and eminent Churchmen practically abandon
miracles as evidence, and press upon their brethren the necessity of
reconstructing the Christian argument The necessity of reconstruction
is indeed apparent, but the materials have not yet been made manifest.
Meanwhile, such apologists have been forced virtually to repudiate the
great Christian representatives who have hitherto defended the Faith.
The case may fairly be considered desperate when the crew throw their
officers overboard by way of lightening the ship. The historical
argument is not in a better position. The learned professors and critics
who have undertaken to deal with it do not even pretend, except perhaps
in the case of Papias, to do more than assert the anonymous use of the
Gospels by some of the Fathers, and their consequent existence; but,
if this were established, what support could that give to the record
of miracles? As for Papias, with his Hebrew Matthew and fragmentary
indirect Mark, even if secured as a solitary witness to the composition
of two Gospels, he would prove but a fatal friend to the apologetic

The "Conclusions" have been almost entirely rewritten. This was
essential to the finished work; but it was further necessary in order
more adequately to convey my own views, and to withdraw expressions
regarding the Unknowable, hitherto used from consideration for prevalent
ideas and feelings, which I now recognize to have been too definite and
calculated to mislead.


This work has scarcely yet been twelve months before the public,
but both in this country, and in America and elsewhere, it has been
subjected to such wide and searching criticism by writers of all shades
of opinion, that I may perhaps be permitted to make a few remarks, and
to review some of my Reviewers. I must first, however, beg leave to
express my gratitude to that large majority of my critics who have
bestowed generous commendation upon the work, and liberally encouraged
its completion. I have to thank others, who, differing totally from my
conclusions, have nevertheless temperately argued against them, for
the courtesy with which they have treated an opponent whose views must
necessarily have offended them, and I can only say that, whilst such
a course has commanded my unfeigned respect, it has certainly not
diminished the attention with which I have followed their arguments.

There are two serious misapprehensions of the purpose and line of
argument of this work which I desire to correct. Some critics have
objected that, if I had succeeded in establishing the proposition
advanced in the first part, the second and third parts need not have
been written: in fact, that the historical argument against miracles is
only necessary in consequence of the failure of the philosophical. Now
I contend that the historical is the necessary complement of the
philosophical argument, and that both are equally requisite to
completeness in dealing with the subject. The preliminary affirmation
is not that miracles are impossible, but that they are antecedently
incredible. The counter allegation is that, although miracles may be
antecedently incredible, they nevertheless actually took place. It
is, therefore, necessary, not only to establish the antecedent
incredibility, but to examine the validity of the allegation that
certain miracles occurred, and this involves the historical inquiry into
the evidence for the Gospels which occupies the second and third parts.
Indeed, many will not acknowledge the case to be complete until other
witnesses are questioned in a succeeding volume.

The view I have taken is clearly supported by Mr. Mill. In his recently
published "Essays on Religion," he directly replies to the question
whether any evidence can suffice to prove a Divine Revelation, and
defines what the nature and amount of that evidence must be. He shows
that internal evidences, that is to say, the indications which the
Revelation itself is thought to furnish of its divine origin, can only
be negative. The bad moral character of the doctrines of an alleged
Revelation, he considers, may be good reason for rejecting it, "but the
excellence of their morality can never entitle us to ascribe to them a
supernatural origin: for we cannot have conclusive reason for believing
that the human faculties were incompetent to find out moral doctrines of
which the human faculties can perceive and recognise the excellence. A
Revelation, therefore," he decides, "cannot be proved divine unless by
external evidence; that is, by the exhibition of supernatural facts."(1)
He maintains that it is possible to prove the reality of a supernatural
fact if it actually occurred; and after showing the great preponderance
of evidence against miracles, or their antecedent incredibility, he
proceeds: "Against this weight of negative evidence we have to set such
positive evidence as is produced in attestation of exceptions; in other
words, the positive evidences of miracles"(2) This is precisely what I
have done. In order to show that Mr. Mill's estimate of the nature of
this positive evidence for miracles does not essentially differ from the
results of this work, the following lines may be quoted:—

"But the evidence of miracles, at least to Protestant Christians, is
not, in our day, of this cogent description. It is not the evidence
of our senses, but of witnesses, and even this not at first hand, but
resting on the attestation of books and traditions. And even in the case
of the original eye-witnesses, the supernatural facts asserted on their
alleged testimony, are not of the transcendent character supposed in our
example, about the nature of which, or the impossibility of their having
had a natural origin, there could be little room for doubt. On the
contrary, the recorded miracles are, in the first place, generally such
as it would have been extremely difficult to verify as matters of fact,
and in the next place, are hardly ever beyond the possibility of having
been brought about by human means or by the spontaneous agencies of

The second point to which I desire to refer is a statement which has
frequently been made that, in the second and third parts, I endeavour to
prove that the four canonical Gospels were not written until the end of
the second century. This error is of course closely connected with that
which has just been discussed, but it is difficult to understand how any
one who had taken the slightest trouble to ascertain the nature of the
argument, and to state it fairly, could have fallen into it. The fact
is that no attempt is made to prove anything with regard to the Gospels.
The evidence for them is merely examined, and it is found that, so far
from their affording


sufficient testimony to warrant belief in the actual occurrence of
miracles declared to be antecedently incredible, there is not a certain
trace even of the existence of the Gospels for a century and a half
after those miracles are alleged to have occurred, and nothing whatever
to attest their authenticity and truth. This is a very different thing
from an endeavour to establish some special theory of my own, and it is
because this line of argument has not been understood, that some critics
have expressed surprise at the decisive rejection of mere conjectures
and possibilities as evidence. In a case of such importance, no
testimony which is not clear and indubitable could be of any value, but
the evidence producible for the canonical Gospels falls very far
short even of ordinary requirements, and in relation to miracles it is
scarcely deserving of serious consideration.

It has been argued that, even if there be no evidence for our special
gospels, I admit that gospels very similar must early have been in
existence, and that these equally represent the same prevailing belief
as the canonical Gospels: consequently that I merely change, without
shaking, the witnesses. Those who advance this argument, however,
totally overlook the fact that it is not the reality of the
superstitious belief which is in question, but the reality of the
miracles, and the sufficiency of the witnesses to establish them. What
such objectors urge practically amounts to this: that we should believe
in the actual occurrence of certain miracles contradictory to all
experience, out of a mass of false miracles which are reported but
never really took place, because some unknown persons in an ignorant
and superstitious age, who give no evidence of personal knowledge, or of
careful investigation, have written an account of them, and other


persons, equally ignorant and superstitious, have believed them. I
venture to say that no one who advances the argument to which I am
referring can have realized the nature of the question at issue, and the
relation of miracles to the order of nature.

The last of these general objections to which I need now refer is the
statement, that the difficulty with regard to the Gospels commences
precisely where my examination ends, and that I am bound to explain
how, if no trace of their existence is previously discoverable, the
four Gospels are suddenly found in general circulation at the end of the
second century, and quoted as authoritative documents by such writers
as Irenæus. My reply is that it is totally unnecessary for me to account
for this. No one acquainted with the history of pseudonymic literature
in the second century, and with the rapid circulation and ready
acceptance of spurious works tending to edification, could for a moment
regard the canonical position of any Gospel at the end of that century
either as evidence of its authenticity or early origin. That which
concerns us chiefly is not evidence regarding the end of the second but
the beginning of the first century. Even if we took the statements of
Irenæus, and later Fathers like the Alexandrian Clement, Tertullian,

and Origen, about the Gospels, they are absolutely without value except
as personal opinion at a late date, for which no sufficient grounds are
shown. Of the earlier history of those Gospels there is not a distinct
trace, except of a nature which altogether discredits them as witnesses
for miracles.

After having carefully weighed the arguments which have been advanced
against this work, I venture to express strengthened conviction of the
truth of its conclusions.


The best and most powerful reasons which able divines and apologists
have been able to bring forward against its main argument have, I
submit, not only failed to shake it, but have, by inference, shown it
to be unassailable. Very many of those who have professedly advanced
against the citadel itself have practically attacked nothing but some
outlying fort, which was scarcely worth defence, whilst others, who
have seriously attempted an assault, have shown that the Church has no
artillery capable of making a practicable breach in the rationalistic
stronghold. I say this solely in reference to the argument which I have
taken upon myself to represent, and in no sense of my own individual
share in its maintenance.

I must now address myself more particularly to two of my critics who,
with great ability and learning, have subjected this work to the most
elaborate and microscopic criticism of which personal earnestness and
official zeal are capable. I am sincerely obliged to Professor Lightfoot

and Dr. Westcott for the minute attention they have bestowed upon my
book. I had myself directly attacked the views of Dr. Westcott, and of
course could only expect him to do his best or his worst against me in
reply; and I am not surprised at the vigour with which Dr. Lightfoot has
assailed a work so opposed to principles which he himself holds sacred,
although I may be permitted to express my regret that he has not done
so in a spirit more worthy of the cause which he defends. In spite of
hostile criticism of very unusual minuteness and ability, no flaw or
error has been pointed out which in the slightest degree affects my
main argument, and I consider that every point yet objected to by Dr.
Lightfoot, or indicated by Dr.


Westcott, might be withdrawn without at all weakening my position. These
objections, I may say, refer solely to details, and only follow side
issues, but the attack, if impotent against the main position, has
in many cases been insidiously directed against notes and passing
references, and a plentiful sprinkling of such words as "misstatements"
and "misrepresentations" along the line may have given it a formidable
appearance, and malicious effect, which render it worth while once for
all to meet it in detail.

The first point (1) to which I shall refer is an elaborate argument
by Dr. Lightfoot regarding the "Silence of Eusebius." (2) I had called
attention to the importance of considering the silence of the Fathers,
under certain conditions;(3) and I might, omitting his curious
limitation, adopt Dr. Lightfoot's opening comment upon this as
singularly descriptive of the state of the case: "In one province more
especially, relating to the external evidences for the Gospels, silence
occupies a prominent place." Dr. Lightfoot proposes to interrogate this
"mysterious oracle," and he considers that "the response elicited
will not be at all ambiguous." I might again agree with him, but that
unambiguous response can scarcely be pronounced very satisfactory for
the Gospels. Such silence may be very eloquent, but after all it is only
the eloquence of--silence. I have not yet met with the argument anywhere
that, because none of the early Fathers quote our Canonical Gospels, or
say anything with regard to them, the fact is unambiguous


evidence that they were well acquainted with them, and considered them
apostolic and authoritative. Dr. Lightfoot's argument from Silence is,
for the present at least, limited to Eusebius.

The point on which the argument turns is this: After examining the whole
of the extant writings of the early Fathers, and finding them a complete
blank as regards the canonical Gospels, if, by their use of apocryphal
works and other indications they are not evidence against them, I
supplement this, in the case of Hegesippus,

Papias, and Dionysius of Corinth, by the inference that, as Eusebius
does not state that their lost works contained any evidence for the
Gospels, they actually did not contain any. But before proceeding to
discuss the point, it is necessary that a proper estimate should be
formed of its importance to the main argument of my work. The evident
labour which Professor Lightfoot has expended upon the preparation of
his attack, the space devoted to it, and his own express words, would
naturally lead most readers to suppose that it has almost a vital
bearing upon my conclusions. Dr. Lightfoot says, after quoting the
passages in which I appeal to the silence of Eusebius:

"This indeed is the fundamental assumption which lies at the basis of
his reasoning; and the reader will not need to be reminded how much of
the argument falls to pieces, if this basis should prove to be unsound.
A wise master-builder would therefore have looked to his foundations
first, and assured himself of their strength, before he piled up his
fabric to this height. This our author has altogether neglected to do."

Towards the close of his article, after triumphantly expressing his
belief that his "main conclusions are irrefragable," he further says:


"If they are, then the reader will not fail to see how large a part of
the argument in 'Supernatural Religion' has crumbled to pieces." (1)

I do not doubt that Dr. Lightfoot sincerely believes this, but he must
allow me to say that he is thoroughly mistaken in his estimate of
the importance of the point, and that, as regards this work, the
representations made in the above passages are a very strange
exaggeration. I am unfortunately too familiar, in connection with
criticism on this book, with instances of vast expenditure of time and
strength in attacking points to which I attach no importance whatever,
and which in themselves have scarcely any value. When writers, after
an amount of demonstration which must have conveyed the impression that
vital interests were at stake, have, at least in their own opinion,
proved that I have omitted to dot an "i," cross a "t," or insert an
inverted comma, they have really left the question precisely where it
was. Now, in the present instance, the whole extent of the argument
which is based upon the silence of Eusebius is an inference regarding
some lost works of three writers only, which might altogether be
withdrawn without affecting the case. The object of my investigation is
to discover what evidence actually exists in the works of early writers
regarding our Gospels. In the fragments which remain of the works of
three writers, Hegesippus, Papias, and Dionysius of Corinth, I do
not find any evidence of acquaintance with these Gospels,--the works
mentioned by Papias being, I contend, different from the existing
Gospels attributed to Matthew and Mark. Whether I am right or not in
this does not affect the present discussion. It is an unquestioned fact
that Eusebius does not mention that the lost works of these


writers contained any reference to, or information about, the Gospels,
nor have we any statement from any other author to that effect. The
objection of Dr. Lightfoot is limited to a denial that the silence of
Eusebius warrants the inference that, because he does not state that
these writers made quotations from or references to undisputed canonical
books, the lost works did not contain any; it does not, however, extend
to interesting information regarding those books, which he admits it was
the purpose of Eusebius to record. To give Dr. Lightfoot's statements,
which I am examining, the fullest possible support, however, suppose
that I abandon Eusebius altogether, and do not draw any inference of any
kind from him beyond his positive statements, how would my case
stand? Simply as complete as it well could be: Hegesippus, Papias, and
Dionysius do not furnish any evidence in favour of the Gospels. The
reader, therefore, will not fail to see how serious a misstatement
Dr. Lightfoot has made, and how little the argument of "Supernatural
Religion" would be affected even if he established much more than he has
attempted to do.

We may now proceed to consider Dr. Lightfoot's argument itself. He
carefully and distinctly defines what he understands to be the declared
intention of Eusebius in composing his history, as regards the mention
or use of the disputed and undisputed canonical books in the writings of
the Fathers, and in order to do him full justice I will quote his words,
merely taking the liberty, for facility of reference, of dividing his
statement into three paragraphs. He says:

"Eusebius therefore proposes to treat these two classes of writings in
two different ways. This is the cardinal point of the passage.


(1) Of the Antilegomena he pledges himself to record when any ancient
writer employs any book belonging to their class [--Greek--];

(2) but as regards the undisputed Canonical books he only professes
to mention them, when such a writer has something to tell about them
[--Greek--]. Any anecdote of interest respecting them, as also respecting
the others [--Greek--], will be recorded.

(3) But in their case he nowhere leads us to expect that he will allude
to mere quotations however numerous and however precise."(1)

In order to dispose of the only one of these points upon which we can
differ, I will first refer to the third. Did Eusebius intend to point
out mere quotations of the books which he considered undisputed"? As
a matter of fact, he actually did point such out in the case of the 1st
Epistle of Peter and 1st Epistle of John, which he repeatedly and in the
most emphatic manner declared to be undisputed.(2) This is admitted by
Dr. Lightfoot. That he omitted to mention a reference to the Epistle to
the Corinthians in the Epistle of Clement of Rome, or the reference by
Theophilus to the Gospel of John, and other supposed quotations, might
be set down as much to oversight as intention. On the other hand, that
he did mention disputed books is evidence only that he not only pledged
himself to do so, but actually fulfilled his promise. Although much
might be said upon this point, therefore, I consider it of so little
importance that I do not intend to waste time in minutely discussing it.
If my assertions with regard to the silence of Eusebius likewise include
the supposition that he proposed to mention mere quotations of the
"undisputed" books, they are so far from limited to this very subsidiary
testimony that I

     2  I regret very much that some ambiguity in my language (S.
     R., i. p. 483) should have misled, and given Dr. Lightfoot
     much trouble. I used the word "quotation" in the sense of a
     use of the Epistle of Peter, and not in reference to any one
     sentence in Polycarp. I trust that in this edition I have
     made my meaning clear.


should have no reluctance in waiving it altogether. Even if the most
distinct quotations of this kind had occurred in the lost works of the
three writers in question, they could have proved nothing beyond the
mere existence of the book quoted, at the time that work was written,
but would have done nothing to establish its authenticity and
trustworthiness. In the evidential destitution of the Gospels,
apologists would thankfully have received even such vague indications,
indeed there is scarcely any other evidence, but something much more
definite is required to establish the reality of miracles and Divine
Revelation. If this point be, for the sake of argument, set aside,
what is the position? We are not entitled to infer that there were no
quotations from the Gospels in the works of Hegesippus, Papias, and
Dionysius of Corinth, because Eusebius does not record them; but, on the
other hand, we are still less entitled to infer that there were any.

The only inference which I care to draw from the silence of Eusebius is
precisely that which Dr. Lightfoot admits that, both from his promise
and practice, I am entitled to deduce: when any ancient writer "has
something to _tell about_" the Gospels, "any _anecdote_ of interest
respecting them," Eusebius will record it. This is the only information
of the slightest value to this work which could be looked for in these
writers. So far, therefore, from producing the destructive effect upon
some of the arguments of "Supernatural Religion," upon which he somewhat
prematurely congratulates himself, Dr. Lightfoot's elaborate and learned
article on the silence of Eusebius supports them in the most conclusive


Before proceeding to speak more directly of the three writers under
discussion, it may be well to glance a little at the procedure of
Eusebius, and note, for those who care to go more closely into the
matter, how he fulfils his promise to record what the Fathers have to
tell about the Gospels. I may mention, in the first place, that Eusebius
states what he himself knows of the composition of the Gospels and
other canonical works.(1) Upon two occasions he quotes the account which
Clement of Alexandria gives of the composition of Mark's Gospel, and
also cites his statements regarding the other Gospels.(2) In like manner
he records the information, such as it is, which Irenæus has to impart
about the four Gospels and other works,(3) and what Origen has to say
concerning them.(4) Interrogating extant works, we find in fact that
Eusebius does not neglect to quote anything useful or interesting
regarding these books from early writers. Dr. Lightfoot says that
Eusebius "restricts himself to the narrowest limits which justice to his
subject will allow," and he illustrates this by the case of Irenæus. He
says: "Though he (Eusebius) gives the principal passage in this author
relating to the Four Gospels (Irenæus, Ady. ILer. iii. 1, 1) he omits
to mention others which contain interesting statements directly or
indirectly affecting the question, e.g. that St. John wrote his Gospel
to counteract the errors of Cerinthus and the Nicolaitans (Irenæus,
Adv. Hær. iii. 11, 1)." I must explain, however, that the "interesting
statement" omitted, which is not in the context of the part quoted, is
not advanced as information derived from any authority, but only in the
course of argument, and there is nothing to distinguish it from mere
personal opinion, so that on this ground Eusebius may well have passed
it over. Dr. Lightfoot farther says: "Thus too when he quotes a few
lines alluding to the unanimous tradition of the Asiatic Elders who were
acquainted with St. John,(6) he omits the context, from which we find
that this tradition had an important bearing on the authenticity of
the fourth Gospel, for it declared that Christ's ministry extended much
beyond a single year, thus confirming the obvious chronology of the
Fourth Gospel against the apparent chronology of the Synoptists."(7)
Nothing, however, could be further from the desire or intention of
Eusebius than to represent any discordance between the Gospels, or to
support the one at the expense of the others. On the contrary, he
enters into an elaborate explanation in order to show that there is no
discrepancy between them, affirming, and supporting his view by singular
quotations, that it was evidently the intention of the three Synoptists
only to write the doings of the Lord for one year after


the imprisonment of John the Baptist, and that John, having the other
Gospels before him, wrote an account of the period not embraced by the
other evangelists.(1) Moreover, the extraordinary assertions of Irenæus
not only contradict the Synoptics, but also the Fourth Gospel, and
Eusebius certainly could not have felt much inclination to quote such
opinions, even although Irenæus seemed to base them upon traditions
handed down by the Presbyters who were acquainted with John.

It being then admitted that Eusebius not only pledges himself to record
when any ancient writer has something to "tell about" the undisputed
canonical books, but that, judged by the test of extant writings which
we can examine, he actually does so, let us sec the conclusions which we
are entitled to draw in the case of the only three writers with regard
to whom I have inferred anything from the "silence of Eusebius."

I need scarcely repeat that Eusebius held Hegesippus in very high
estimation. He refers to him very frequently, and he clearly shows that
he not only valued, but was intimately acquainted with, his writings.
Eusebius quotes from the work of Hegesippus a very long account of the
martyrdom of James;(2) he refers to Hegesippus as his authority for
the statement that Simeon was a cousin [--Greek--] of Jesus, Cleophas his
father being, according to that author, the brother of Joseph;(3)
he confirms a passage in the Epistle of Clement by reference to
Hegesippus;(4) he quotes from Hegesippus a story regarding some members
of the family of Jesus, of the race of David, who were brought before
Domitian;(5) he cites his narrative of the martyrdom of Simeon, together
with other matters concerning the early Church;(6) in another place he
gives a laudatory account of Hegesippus and his writings;(7) shortly
after, he refers to the


statement of Hegesippus that he was in Rome until the episcopate of
Eleutherus,(1) and further speaks in praise of his work, mentions his
observation on the Epistle of Clement, and quotes his remarks about the
Church in Corinth, the succession of Roman bishops, the general state of
the Church, the rise of heresies, and other matters.(3) I mention these
numerous references to Hegesippus as I have noticed them in turning over
the pages of Eusebius, but others may very probably have escaped me.
Eusebius fulfils his pledge, and states what disputed works were used by
Hegesippus and what he said about them, and one of these was the Gospel
according to the Hebrews. He does not, however, record a single remark
of any kind regarding our Gospels, and the legitimate inference, and it
is the only one I care to draw, is, that Hegesippus did not say anything
about them. I may simply add that, as Eusebius quotes the account of
Matthew and Mark from Papias, a man of whom he expresses something like
contempt, and again refers to him in confirmation of the statement of
the Alexandrian Clement regarding the composition of Mark's Gospel,(3)
it would be against all reason, as well as opposed to his pledge and
general practice, to suppose that Eusebius would have omitted to record
any information given by Hegesippus, a writer with whom he was so well
acquainted, and of whom he speaks with so much respect.

I have said that Eusebius would more particularly have quoted anything
with regard to the Fourth Gospel, and for those who care to go more
closely into the point my reasons may be briefly given. No one can read
Eusebius attentively without noting the peculiar care with which he
speaks of John and his writings, and the substantially apologetic tone
which he adopts in regard to them. Apart from any doubts expressed


regarding the Gospel itself, the controversy as to the authenticity of
the Apocalypse and second and third Epistles called by his name, with
which Eusebius was so well acquainted, and the critical dilemma as to
the impossibility of the same John having written both the Gospel and
Apocalypse, regarding which he so fully quotes the argument of Dionysius
of Alexandria,(1) evidently made him peculiarly interested in the
subject, and his attention to the fourth Gospel was certainly not
diminished by his recognition of the essential difference between that
work and the three Synoptics. The first occasion on which he speaks of
John, he records the tradition that he was banished to Patmos during
the persecution under Domitian, and refers to the Apocalypse. He quotes
Irenæus in support of this tradition, and the composition of the work at
the close of Domitian's reign.(3) He goes on to speak of the persecution
under Domitian, and quotes Hegesippus as to a command given by that
Emperor to slay all the posterity of David,(3) as also Tertullian's
account,(4) winding up his extracts from the historians of the time by
the statement that, after Nerva succeeded Domitian, and the Senate had
revoked the cruel decrees of the latter, the Apostle John returned from
exile in Patmos and, according to ecclesiastical tradition, settled
at Ephesus.(5) He states that John, the beloved disciple, apostle and
evangelist, governed the Churches of Asia after the death of Domitian
and his return from Patmos, and that he was still living when Trajan
succeeded Nerva, and for the truth of this he quotes passages from
Iremeus and Clement of Alexandria.(6) He then gives an account of
the writings of John, and whilst asserting that the Gospel must be
universally acknowledged as genuine, he says that it is rightly put
last in order amongst the four, of the composition of which he gives an
elaborate description. It is not necessary to quote his account of the
fourth Gospel and of the occasion of its composition, which he states
to have been John's receiving the other three Gospels, and, whilst
admitting their truth, perceiving that they did not contain a narrative
of the earlier history of Christ. For this reason, being entreated to
do so, he wrote an account of the doings of Jesus before the Baptist was
cast into prison. After some very extraordinary reasoning, Eusebius says
that no one who carefully considers the points he mentions can think
that the Gospels are at variance with each other, and he conjectures
that John probably omitted the genealogies because Matthew and Luke
had given them.(7) Without further anticipating what I have to say when
speaking of Papias, it is clear, I think, that Eusebius, being aware
of, and interested in, the peculiar difficulties connected with the
writings attributed to John, not to put a still stronger case, and
quoting traditions from later and consequently less weighty authorities,
would certainly have recorded with more special readiness any
information on the subject given by Hegesippus, whom he so frequently
lays under contribution, had his writings contained any.


In regard to Papias the case is still clearer. We find that Eusebius
quotes his account of the composition of Gospels by Matthew and Mark,(1)
although he had already given a closely similar narrative regarding Mark
from Clement of Alexandria, and appealed to Papias in confirmation of
it. Is it either possible or permissible to suppose that, had Papias
known anything of the other two Gospels, he would not have inquired
about them from the Presbyters and recorded their information? And is
it either possible or permissible to suppose that if Papias had recorded
any similar information regarding the composition of the third and
fourth Gospels, Eusebius would have omitted to quote it? Certainly not;
and Dr. Lightfoot's article proves it. Eusebius had not only pledged
himself to give such information, and does so in every case which we can
test, but he fulfils it by actually quoting what Papias had to say about
the Gospels. Even if he had been careless, his very reference to the
first two Gospels must have reminded him of the claims of the rest.
There are, however, special reasons which render it still more certain
that had Papias had anything to tell about the Fourth Gospel,--and if
there was a Fourth Gospel in his knowledge he must have had something
to tell about it,--Eusebius would have recorded it. The first quotation
which he makes from Papias is the passage in which the Bishop of
Hierapolis states the interest with which he had inquired about the
words of the Presbyters, "what John or Matthew or what any other of the
disciples of the Lord said, and what Aristion and the Presbyter John,
disciples of the Lord,

     1 I am much obliged to Dr. Lightfoot for calling my
     attention to the accidental insertion of the words   "and
     the Apocalypse"   (S. E. i. p. 433).   This was a mere slip
     of the pen, of which no use is made, and the error is
     effectually corrected by my own distinct statements. VOL. I.


say."(l) Eusebius observes, and particularly points out, that the name
of John is twice mentioned in the passage, the former, mentioned with
Peter, James, and Matthew, and other Apostles, evidently being, he
thinks, the Evangelist, and the latter being clearly distinguished by
the designation of Presbyter. Eusebius states that this proves the truth
of the assertion that there were two men of the name of John in Asia,
and that two tombs were still shown at Ephesus bearing the name of John.
Eusebius then proceeds to argue that probably the second of the two
Johns, if not the first, was the man who saw the Revelation. What an
occasion for quoting any information bearing at all on the subject from
Papias, who had questioned those who had been acquainted with both!
His attention is so pointedly turned to John at the very moment when
he makes his quotations regarding Matthew and Mark, that I am fully
warranted, both by the conclusions of Dr. Lightfoot and the peculiar
circumstances of the case, in affirming that the silence of Eusebius
proves that Papias said nothing about either the third or fourth

I need not go on to discuss Dionysius of Corinth, for the same reasoning
equally applies to his case. I have, therefore, only a very few more
words to say on the subject of Eusebius. Not content with what he
intended to be destructive criticism, Dr. Lightfoot valiantly proceeds
to the constructive and, "as a sober deduction from facts," makes
the following statement, which he prints in italics: _"The silence of
Eusebius_ respecting early witnesses to the Fourth Gospel is an evidence
in its favour."(2) Now, interpreted even by the rules laid down


by Dr. Lightfoot himself, what does this silence really mean? It means,
not that the early writers about whom he is supposed to be silent are
witnesses about anything connected with the Fourth Gospel, but simply
that if Eusebius noticed and did not record the mere use of that Gospel
by any one, he thereby indicates that he himself, in the fourth century,
classed it amongst the undisputed books, the mere use of which he does
not undertake to mention. The value of his opinion at so late a date is
very small.

Professor Lightfoot next makes a vehement attack upon me in connection
with "The Ignatian Epistles,"(1) which is equally abortive and limited
to details. I do not intend to complain of the spirit in which the
article is written, nor of its unfairness. On the whole I think that
readers may safely be left to judge of the tone in which a controversy
is carried on. Unfortunately, however, the perpetual accusation of
mis-statement brought against me in this article, and based upon minute
criticism into which few care to follow, is apt to leave the impression
that it is well-founded, for there is the very natural feeling in most
right minds that no one would recklessly scatter such insinuations. It
is this which alone makes such an attack dangerous. Now in a work like
this, dealing with so many details, it must be obvious that it is not
possible altogether to escape errors. A critic or opponent is of course
entitled to point these out, although, if he be high-minded or even
alive to his own interests, I scarcely think that he will do so in a
spirit of unfair detraction. But in doing this a writer is bound to be
accurate, for if he be liberal of such accusations


and it can be shown that his charges are unfounded, they recoil with
double force upon himself. I propose, therefore, as it is impossible for
me to reply to all such attacks, to follow Professor Lightfoot and Dr.
Westcott with some minuteness in their discussion of my treatment of the
Ignatian Epistles, and once for all to show the grave mis-statements to
which they commit themselves.

Dr. Lightfoot does not ignore the character of the discussion upon which
he enters, but it will be seen that his appreciation of its difficulty
by no means inspires him with charitable emotions. He says: "The
Ignatian question is the most perplexing which confronts the student
of earlier Christian history. The literature is voluminous; the
considerations involved are very wide, very varied, and very intricate.
A writer, therefore, may well be pardoned if he betrays a want of
familiarity with this subject But in this case the reader naturally
expects that the opinions at which he has arrived will be stated with
some diffidence."(1) My critic objects that I express my opinions with
decision. I shall hereafter justify this decision, but I would here
point out that the very reasons which render it difficult for Dr.
Lightfoot to form a final and decisive judgment on the question make it
easy for me. It requires but little logical perception to recognize that
Epistles, the authenticity of which it is so difficult to establish,
cannot have much influence as testimony for the Gospels. The statement
just quoted, however, is made the base of the attack, and war is
declared in the following terms:--


"The reader is naturally led to think that a writer would not use such
very decided language unless he had obtained a thorough mastery of his
subject; and when he finds the notes thronged with references to the
most recondite sources of information, he at once credits the author
with an 'exhaustive' knowledge of the literature bearing upon it. It
becomes important therefore to inquire whether the writer shows that
accurate acquaintance with the subject, which justifies us in attaching
weight to his dicta as distinguished from his arguments."(l)

This sentence shows the scope of the discussion. My dicta, however, play
a very subordinate part throughout, and even if no weight be attached to
them, and I have never desired that any should be, my argument would not
be in the least degree affected.

The first point attacked, like most of those subsequently assailed, is
one of mere critical history. I wrote: "The strongest internal, as well
as other evidence, into which space forbids our going in detail, has led
(1) the majority of critics to recognize the Syriac version as the most
genuine form of the letters of Ignatius extant, and (2) this is admitted
by most of those who nevertheless deny the authenticity of any of the

Upon this Dr. Lightfoot remarks:--

"No statement could be more erroneous as a summary of the results of the
Ignatian controversy since the publication of the Syriac epistles than

It will be admitted that this is pretty "decided language" for one
who is preaching "diffidence." When we come to details, however, Dr.
Lightfoot admits: "Those who maintain the genuineness of the Ignatian
Epistles in one or other of the two forms, may be said to be almost
evenly divided on this question of priority." He seems to consider
that he sufficiently shows this when he mentions five or six critics on
either side; but even


on this modified interpretation of my statement its correctness may
be literally maintained. To the five names quoted as recognizing the
priority of the Syriac Epistles may be added those of Milman, Böhringer,
De Pressensé, and Dr. Tregelles, which immediately occur to me. But I
must ask upon what ground he limits my remark to those who absolutely
admit the genuineness? I certainly do not so limit it, but affirm that a
majority prefer the three Curetonian Epistles, and that this majority
is made up partly of those who, denying the authenticity of any of the
letters, still consider the Syriac the purest and least adulterated form
of the Epistles. This will be evident to any one who reads the context.
With regard to the latter (2) part of the sentence, I will at once say
that "most" is a slip of the pen for "many," which I correct in this
edition. Many of those who deny or do not admit the authenticity prefer
the Curetonian version. The Tubingen school are not unanimous on
the point, and there are critics who do not belong to it. Bleek, for
instance, who does not commit himself to belief, considers the priority
of the Curetonian "im höchsten Grade wahrscheinlich.,, Volkmar, Lipsius,
and Rumpf prefer them. Dr. Light-foot says:--

"The case of Lipsius is especially instructive, as illustrating this
point. Having at one time maintained the priority and genuineness of
the Curetonian letters, he has lately, if I rightly understand him,
retracted his former opinion on both questions alike."(2)

Dr. Lightfoot, however, has not rightly understood him. Lipsius has only
withdrawn his opinion that the Syriac letters are authentic, but
whilst now asserting that in all their forms the Ignatian Epistles are
spurious, he still


maintains the priority of the Curetonian version. He first announced
this change of view emphatically in 1873, when he added: "An dem
relativ grossern Alter der syrischen Textgestalt gegenuber der kürzeren

halte ich ubrigens nach wie vor fest"(1) In the very paper to which Dr.
Lightfoot refers Lipsius also again says quite distinctly: "Ich bin
noch jetzt überzeugt, dass der Syrer in zahlreichen Fallen den relativ
ursprünglichsten Text bewahrt hat (vgl. meine Nachweise in Niedner's
Zeitschr. S. 15fl)."(2) With regard to the whole of this (2) point, it
must be remembered that the only matter in question is simply a shade
of opinion amongst critics who deny the authenticity of the Ignatian
Epistles in all forms.

Dr. Lightfoot, however, goes on "to throw some light on this point" by
analysing my "general statement of the course of opinion on this subject
given in an earlier passage."(3) The "light" which he throws seems to
pass through so peculiar a medium, that I should be much rather tempted
to call it darkness. I beg the reader to favour me with his attention to
this matter, for here commences a serious attack upon the accuracy of
my notes and statements, which is singularly full of error and
misrepresentation. The general statement referred to and quoted is as

"Those three Syriac epistles hive been subjected to the severest
scrutiny, and many of the ablest critics have pronounced them to be the
only authentic Epistles of Ignatius, whilst others, who do not admit
that even these are genuine letters emanating from Ignatius, still
prefer them to the version of seven Greek epistles, and consider them
the most ancient form of the letters which we possess.(1) As early as
the sixteenth century, however, the strongest doubts were expressed
regarding the authenticity


of any of the epistles ascribed to Ignatius. The Magdeburg Centuriators
first attacked them, and Calvin declared (p. 260) them to be
spurious,(1) an opinion fully shared by Chemnitz, Dallseus, and others,
and similar doubts, more or less definite, were expressed throughout
the seventeenth century,(2) and onward to comparatively recent times,(3)
although the means of forming a judgment were not then so complete as
now. That the epistles were interpolated there was no doubt. Fuller
examination and more comprehensive knowledge of the subject have
confirmed earlier doubts, and a large mass of critics recognize that the
authenticity of none of these epistles can be established, and that they
can only be considered later and spurious compositions.(4)"(1)

In the first note (1) on p. 259 I referred to Bunsen, Bleek, Böhringer,
Cureton, Ewald, Lipsius, Milman, Ritschl, and Weiss, and Dr. Lightfoot
proceeds to analyze my statements as follows: and I at once put his
explanation and my text in parallel columns, italicising parts of both
to call more immediate attention to the point:--

The Text. Many of the ablest critics have pronounced them to be the only
authentic Epistles of Ignatius, whilst others who do not admit that even
these are genuine letters emanating from Ignatius, still prefer them to
the version of seven Greek Epistles, and consider them the most ancient
form of the letters which we possess.(1)

Dr. Lightfoot's Statement.

"These references, it will be observed, are given to illustrate more
immediately, though perhaps not solely, the statement that writers
'who do not admit that even these (the Curetonian Epistles) are genuine
letters emanating from Ignatius, still prefer them to the version of
seven Greek Epistles, and consider them the most ancient form of the
letters which we possess.'"(2)

It must be evident to any one who reads the context(3) that in this
sentence I am stating opinions expressed in favour of the Curetonian
Epistles, and that the note, which is naturally put at the end of that
sentence, must be intended to represent this favourable opinion, whether
of those who absolutely maintain the authenticity or


merely the relative priority. Dr. Lightfoot quietly suppresses, in his
comments, the main statement of the text which the note illustrates, and
then "throws light" upon the point by the following remarks:--

Dr. Lightfoot's Statement:

"The reader, therefore, will hardly be prepared to hear that not one
of these nine writers condemns the Ignatian letters as spurious. Bleek
alone leaves the matter in some uncertainty while inclining to Bunsen's
view; the other eight distinctly maintain the genuineness of the
Curetonian letters."'

The Truth:

Cureton, Bunsen, Böhringer, Ewald, Milman, Ritschl, and Weiss maintain
both the priority and genuineness of the Syriac Epistles. Bleek will not
commit himself to a distinct recognition of the letters in any form. Of
the Vossian Epistles, he says: "Aber auch die Echtheit dieser Recension
ist keineswegs sicher." He considers the priority of the Curetonian "in
the highest degree probable."

Lipsius rejects all the Epistles, as I have already said, but maintains
the priority of the Syriac.

Dr. Lightfoot's statement, therefore, is a total misrepresentation of
the facts, and of that mischievous kind which does most subtle injury.
Not one reader in twenty would take the trouble to investigate, but
would receive from such positive assertions an impression that my note
was totally wrong, when in fact it is literally correct.

Continuing his analysis, Dr. Lightfoot fights almost every inch of the
ground in the very same style. He cannot contradict my statement that
so early as the sixteenth century the strongest doubts were expressed
regarding the authenticity of any of the Epistles ascribed

1 "Contemporary Beview," February, 1875, p. 342. In a note Dr. Lightfoot
states that my references to Lipsius are to his earlier works, where he
still maintains the priority and genuineness of the Curetonian Epistles.
Certainly they are so, but in the right place, two pages farther on, I
refer to the writings in which he rejects the authenticity, whilst still
maintaining his previous view of the priority of these letters


to Ignatius, and that the Magdeburg Centuriators attacked them, and
Calvin declared them to be spurious,(1) but Dr. Lightfoot says: "The
criticisms of Calvin more especially refer to those passages which were
found in the Long Recension alone."(2) Of course only the Long Recension
was at that time known. Rivet replies to Campianus that Calvin's
objections were not against Ignatius but the Jesuits who had corrupted
him.(3) This is the usual retort theological, but as I have quoted the
words of Calvin the reader may judge for himself. Dr. Lightfoot then

"The clause which follows contains a direct misstatement. Chemnitz did
not folly share the opinion that they were spurious; on the contrary, he
quotes them several times as authoritative; but he says that they 'seem
to have been altered in many places to strengthen the position of the
Papal power, do.' "(4)

Pearson's statement here quoted must be received with reserve, for
Chemnitz rather speaks sarcastically of those who quote these Epistles
as evidence. In treating them as ancient documents or speaking of parts
of them with respect, Chemnitz does nothing more than the Magdeburg
Centuriators, but this is a very different thing from directly ascribing
them to Ignatius himself. The Epistles in the "Long Recension" were
before Chemnitz both in the Latin and Greek forms. He says of them:
".... et multas habent non contemnendas sententias, presertim sicut
Graece leguntur. Admixta vero sunt et alia non pauca, quae profecto non
referunt gravitatem Apostolicam.

     1 Calvin's expressions are: Nihil moniis illis, quro sub
     Ignatii nomine editae sunt, putidius. Quo minus tolerabilis
     est eorum impudentia, qui talibus larvis ad fallendum se
     instruunt.   Inst. Chr. Bel. i. 13, p39.


Adulteratas enim jam esse illas epistolas, vel inde colligitur." He
then shows that quotations in ancient writers purporting to be taken
from the Epistles of Ignatius are not found in these extant epistles at
all, and says: "De Epistolis igitur illis Ignatii, quae nunc ejus titulo
feruntur, merito dubitamus: transformatse enim videntur in multis locis,
ad stabiliendum statum regni Pontificii."(l) Even when he speaks in
favour of them he "damns them with faint praise." The whole of the
discussion turns upon the word "fully", and is an instance of the
minute criticism of my critic, who evidently is not directly acquainted
with Chemnitz. A shade more or less of doubt or certainty in conveying
the impression received from the words of a writer is scarcely worth
much indignation.

Dr. Lightfoot makes a very detailed attack upon my next two notes,
and here again I must closely follow him. My note (2) p. 260 reads as

"2 By Bochartus, Aubertin, Blondel, Basnage, Casaubon, Cocus, Humfrey,
Rivetus, Salmasius, Socinus (Faustus), Parker, Petau, &c; &c.; cf.
Jacobson, Patr. Apost., i. p. jolt.; Cureton Vindiciæ Ignatianæ, 1846,

Upon this Dr. Lightfoot makes the following preliminary remarks:

"But the most important point of all is the purpose for which they are
quoted. 'Similar doubts' could only, I think, be interpreted from the
context as doubts 'regarding the authenticity of any of the Epistles
ascribed to Ignatius.'"(2)

As Dr. Lightfoot, in the first sentence just quoted, recognizes what
is "the most important point of all," it is a pity that, throughout
the whole of the subsequent analysis of the references in question, he
persistently ignores my


very careful definition of "the purpose for which they are quoted." It
is difficult, without entering into minute classifications, accurately
to represent in a few words the opinions of a great number of writers,
and briefly convey a fair idea of the course of critical judgment.
Desirous, therefore, of embracing a large class,--for both this note and
the next, with mere difference of epoch, illustrate the same statement
in the text,--and not to overstate the case on my own side, I used what
seemed to me a very moderate phrase, decreasing the force of the
opinion of those who positively rejected the Epistles, and not unfairly
representing the hesitation of those who did not fully accept them.
I said, then, in guarded terms,--and I italicise the part which Dr.
Lightfoot chooses to suppress,--that "similar _doubts, more or less
definite_," were expressed by the writers referred to.

Dr. Lightfoot admits that Bochart directly condemns one Epistle, and
would probably have condemned the rest also; that Aubertin, Blondel,
Basnage, R. Parker, and Saumaise actually rejected all; and that Cook
pronounces them "either supposititious or shamefully corrupted." So
far, therefore, there can be no dispute. I will now take the rest in
succession. Dr. Lightfoot says that Humfrey "considers that they have
been interpolated and mutilated, but he believes them genuine in the
main." Dr. Google has so completely warped the statement in the text,
that he seems to demand nothing short of a total condemnation of the
Epistles in the note, but had I intended to say that Humfrey and all of
these writers definitely rejected the whole of the Epistles I should not
have limited myself to merely saying that they expressed "doubts more
or less definite," which Humfrey does. Dr. Lightfoot says that Socinus
"denounces corruptions and


anachronisms, but so far as I can see does not question a nucleus of
genuine matter." His very denunciations, however, are certainly the
expression of "doubts, more or less definite." "Casaubon, so far from
rejecting them altogether," Dr. Lightfoot says, "promises to defend the
antiquity of some of the Epistles with new arguments." But I have never
affirmed that he "rejected them altogether." Casaubon died before he
fulfilled the promise referred to, so that we cannot determine what
arguments he might have used. I must point out, however, that the
antiquity does not necessarily involve the authenticity of a document.
With regard to Rivet the case is different I had overlooked the fact
that in a subsequent edition of the work referred to, after receiving
Archbishop Ushers edition of the Short Recension, he had given his
adhesion to "that form of the Epistles."(1) This fact is also mentioned
by Pearson, and I ought to have observed it.(2) Petau, the last of the
writers referred to, says: "Equidem haud abnuerim epistolas illius varie
interpolatas et quibusdam additis mutatas, ac depravatas fuisse: turn
aliquas esse supposititias: verum nullas omnino ab Ignatio Epistolas
esse scriptas, id vero nimium temere affirmari sentio." He then goes
on to mention the recent publication of the Vossian Epistles and the
version of Usher, and the learned Jesuit Father has no more decided
opinion to express than: "ut haec prudens, ac justa suspicio sit, illas
esse genuinas Ignatii epistolas, quas antiquorum consensus illustribus
testimoniis commendatas ac approbatas reliquit"(3)

The next note (3), p. 260, was only separated from the


preceding for convenience of reference, and Dr. Lightfoot quotes and
comments upon it as follows:

"The next note, p. 260, is as follows:--(See scanned page. Ed.)

The brackets are not the author's, but my own.

This is doubtless one of those exhibitions of learning which have made
such a deep impression on the reviewers. Certainly, as it stands, this
note suggests a thorough acquaintance with all the by-paths of the
Ignatian literature, and seems to represent the gleanings of many years'
reading. It is important to observe, however, that every one of these
references, except those which I have included in brackets, is given in
the appendix to Cureton's _Vindicia Ignatianæ_, where the passages are
quoted in full. Thus two-thirds of this elaborate note might have been
compiled in ten minutes. Our author has here and there transposed
the order of the quotations, and confused it by so doing, for it is
chronological in Cureton. But what purpose was served by thus importing
into his notes a mass of borrowed and unsorted references? And, if he
thought fit to do so, why was the key-reference to Cureton buried among
the rest, so that it stands in immediate connection with some additional
references on which it has no bearing?"(1)

I do not see any special virtue in the amount of time which might
suffice, under some circumstances, to compile a note, although it is
here advanced as an important


point to observe, but I call attention to the unfair spirit in which
Dr. Lightfoot's criticisms are made. I ask every just-minded reader to
consider what right any critic has to insinuate, if not directly to
say, that, because some of the references in a note are also given by
Cureton, I simply took them from him, and thus "imported into my notes a
mass of borrowed and unsorted references," and further to insinuate
that I "here and there transposed the order" apparently to conceal
the source? This is a kind of criticism which I very gladly relinquish
entirely to my high-minded and reverend opponent. Now, as full
quotations are given in Cureton's appendix, I should have been perfectly
entitled to take references from it, had I pleased, and for the
convenience of many readers I distinctly indicate Cureton's work, in the
note, as a source to be compared. The fact is, however, that I did not
take the references from Cureton, but in every case derived them from
the works themselves, and if the note "seems to represent the gleanings
of many years' reading," it certainly does not misrepresent the fact,
for I took the trouble to make myself acquainted with the "by-paths of
Ignatian literature." Now in analysing the references in this note it
must be borne in mind that they illustrate the statement that "_doubts,
more or less definite_" continued to be expressed regarding the Ignatian
Epistles. I am much obliged to Dr. Lightfoot for drawing my attention to
Wotton. His name is the first in the note, and it unfortunately was the
last in a list on another point in my note-book, immediately preceding
this one, and was by mistake included in it. I also frankly give up
Weismann, whose doubts I find I had exaggerated, and proceed to examine
Dr. Lightfoot's further statements. He says that Thiersch


uses the Curetonian as genuine, and that his only doubt is whether
he ought not to accept the Vossian. Thiersch, however, admits that he
cannot quote either the seven or the three Epistles as genuine. He says
distinctly: "These three Syriac Epistles lie under the suspicion that
they are not an older text, but merely an epitome of the seven, for the
other notes found in the same MS. seem to be excerpts. But on the other
hand, the doubts regarding the genuineness of the seven Epistles, in the
form in which they are known since Usher's time, are not yet entirely
removed. For no MS. has yet been found which contains _only_ the seven
Epistles attested by Eusebius, a MS. such as lay before Eusebius."(1)
Thiersch, therefore, does express "doubts, more or less definite." Dr.
Light-foot then continues: "Of the rest a considerable number, as, for
instance, Lardner, Beausobre, Schroeckh, Griesbach,

Kestner, Neander, and Baumgarten-Crusius, _with different degrees of
certainty or uncertainty_, pronounce themselves in favour of a genuine
nucleus."(2) The words which I have italicised are a mere paraphrase of
my words descriptive of the doubts entertained. I must point out that
a leaning towards belief in a genuine "nucleus" on the part of some of
these writers, by no means excludes the expression of "_doubts, more or
less definite_," which is all I quote them for. I will take each name in

_Lardner_ says: "But whether the smaller (Vossian Epistles) themselves
are the genuine writings of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, is a question
that has been much disputed, and has employed the pens of the ablest
critics. And whatever positiveness some may have


shown on either side, I must own I have found it a very difficult
question." The opinion which he expresses finally is merely: "it appears
to me _probable_, that they are _for the main_ the genuine epistles
of Ignatius." _Beausobre_ says: "Je ne veux, ni defendre, ni combattre
l'authenticite' des _Lettres de St. Ignace_. Si elles ne sont pas
veritables, elles ne laissent pas d'etre fort anciennes; et l'opinion,
qui me paroit la plus raisonnable, est que les plus pures ont été

_Schroeckh_ says that along with the favourable considerations for
the shorter (Vossian) Epistles "many doubts arise which make them
suspicious." He proceeds to point out many grave difficulties, and
anachronisms which cast doubt both on individual epistles and upon the
whole, and he remarks that a very common way of evading these and
other difficulties is to affirm that all the passages which cannot be
reconciled with the mode of thought of Ignatius are interpolations of
a later time. He concludes with the pertinent observation: "However
probable this is, it nevertheless remains as difficult to prove which
are the interpolated passages." In fact it would be difficult to point
out any writer who more thoroughly doubts, without definitely rejecting,
all the Epistles.

_Grtesbach_ and _Kestner_ both express "doubts more or less definite,"
but to make sufficient extracts to illustrate this would occupy too much

_Neander_.--Dr. Lightfoot has been misled by the short extract from the
English translation of the first


edition of Neander's History given by Cureton in his Appendix, has not
attended to the brief German quotation from the second edition, and has
not examined the original at all, or he would have seen that, so far
from pronouncing "in favour of a genuine nucleus," Neander might well
have been classed by me amongst those who distinctly reject the Ignatian
Epistles, instead of being moderately quoted amongst those who merely
express doubt. Neander says: "As the account of the martyrdom of
Ignatius is very suspicious, so also the Epistles which suppose the
correctness of this suspicious legend, do not bear throughout the
impress of a distinct individuality, and of a man of that time who is
addressing his last words to the communities. A hierarchical purpose
is not to be mistaken." In an earlier part of the work he still more
emphatically says that, "in the so-called Ignatian Epistles," he
recognizes a decided "design" (absichtlichkeit) and then he continues:
"as the tradition regarding the journey of Ignatius to Rome, there to
be cast to the wild beasts, seems to me for the above-mentioned reasons
very suspicious, his Epistles, which pre-suppose the truth of this
tradition, can no longer inspire me with faith in their
authenticity." He goes on to state additional grounds for disbelief.
_Baumgarten-Crusius_ stated in one place, in regard to the seven
Epistles, that it is no longer possible to ascertain how much of the
extant may have formed part of the original Epistles, and in a note he
excepts only the passages quoted by the Fathers.


He seems to agree with Semler and others that the two Recensions are
probably the result of manipulations of the original, the shorter form
being more in ecclesiastical, the longer in dogmatic interest. Some
years later he remarked that inquiries into the Epistles, although
not yet concluded, had rather tended towards the earlier view that the
Shorter Recension was more original than the Long, but that even the
shorter may have suffered, if not from manipulations (Ueberarbeitungen)
from interpolations. This very cautious statement, it will be observed,
is wholly relative, and does not in the least modify the previous
conclusion that the original material of the letters cannot be

Dr. Lightfoot's objections regarding these seven writers are thoroughly
unfounded, and in most cases glaringly erroneous.

     1 Dr. Lightfoot doubts, and a large mass of critics
     recognize _that the authenticity of none_ of these Epistles
     _can be established_ and that they can only be considered
     later and spurious compositions."

He proceeds to the next "note (4)" with the same unhesitating vigour,
and characterizes it as "equally unfortunate." Wherever it has been
possible, Dr. Light-foot has succeeded in misrepresenting the "purpose"
of my notes, although he has recognized how important it is to ascertain
this correctly, and in this instance he has done so again. I will put my
text and his explanation, upon the basis of which he analyses the
note, in juxtaposition, italicising part of my own statement which he
altogether disregards:--

"Further examination and more References to twenty authorities
comprehensive knowledge of the are then given, as belonging to the
subject have confirmed earlier a large mass of critics who recognize


that the Ignatian Epistles, 'can only be considered later and spurious

There are here, in order to embrace a number of references, two
approximate states of opinion represented: the first, which leaves the
Epistles in permanent doubt, as sufficient evidence is not forthcoming
to establish their authenticity; and the second, which positively
pronounces them to be spurious. Out of the twenty authorities referred
to, Dr. Lightfoot objects to six as contradictory or not confirming what
he states to be the purpose of the note. He seems to consider that a
reservation for the possibility of a genuine substratum which cannot be
defined invalidates my reference. I maintain, however, that it does not.
It is quite possible to consider that the authenticity of the extant,
letters cannot be established without denying that there may have been
some original nucleus upon which these actual documents may have been
based. I will analyse the six references.

Bleek.--Dr. Lightfoot says: "Of these Bleek (already cited in a previous
note) expresses no definite opinion."

Dr. Lightfoot omits to mention that I do not refer to Bleek directly,
but by "Cf." merely request consideration of his opinions. I
have already partly stated Bleek's view. After pointing out some
difficulties, he says generally: "It comes to this, that the origin of
the Ignatian Epistles themselves is still very doubtful." He refuses


to make use of a passage because it is only found in the Long Recension,
and another which occurs in the Shorter Recension he does not consider
evidence, because, first, he says, "The authenticity of this Recension
also is by no means certain," and, next, the Cureton Epistles discredit
the others. "Whether this Recension (the Curetonian) is more original
than the shorter Greek is certainly not altogether certain, but.... in
the highest degree probable." In another place he refuses to make use
of reminiscences in the "Ignatian Epistles," "because it is still very
doubtful how the case stands as regards the authenticity and integrity
of these Ignatian Epistles themselves, in the different Recensions
in which we possess them."(1) In fact he did not consider that their
authenticity could be established. I do not, however, include him here
at all.

_Gfrörer_.--Dr. Lightfoot, again, omits to state that I do not cite this
writer like the others, but by a "Cf." merely suggest a reference to his

_Harless_, according to Dr. Lightfoot, "avows that he must 'decidedly
reject with the most considerable critics of older and more recent
times' the opinion maintained by certain persons that the Epistles
are 'altogether spurious,' and proceeds to treat a passage as genuine
because it stands in the Vossian letters as well as in the Long

This is a mistake. Harless quotes a passage in connection with Paul's
Epistle to the Ephesians with the distinct remark: "In this case the
disadvantage of the uncertainty regarding the Recensions is in


part removed through the circumstance that both Recensions have
the passage." He recognizes that the completeness of the proof that
ecclesiastical tradition goes back beyond the time of Marcion is
somewhat wanting from the uncertainty regarding the text of Ignatius. He
did not in fact venture to consider the Ignatian Epistles evidence even
for the first half of the second century.

_Schliemann_, Dr. Lightfoot states, "says that 'the external testimonies
oblige him to recognize a genuine substratum,' though he is not
satisfied with either existing recension."

Now what Schliemann says is this: "Certainly neither the Shorter and
still less the Longer Recension in which we possess these Epistles can
lay claim to authenticity. Only if we must, nevertheless, without doubt
suppose a genuine substratum," &c. In a note he adds: "The external
testimonies oblige me to recognize a genuine substratum--Poly-carp
already speaks of the same in Ch. xiii. of his Epistle. But that in
their present form they do not proceed from Ignatius the contents
sufficiently show."

_Hase_, according to Dr. Lightfoot, "commits himself to no opinion."

If he does not deliberately and directly do so, he indicates what that
opinion is with sufficient clearness. The Long Recension, he says, bears
the marks of later manipulation, and excites suspicion of an invention
in favour of Episcopacy, and the shorter text is not fully attested
either. The Curetonian Epistles with the shortest and least hierarchical
text give the impression of being an epitome. "But


even if no authentic kernel lay at the basis of these Epistles, yet
they would be a significant document at latest out of the middle of the
second century." These last words are a clear admission of his opinion
that the authenticity cannot be established. _Lechler_ candidly
confesses that he commenced with a prejudice in favour of the
authenticity of the Epistles in the Shorter Recension, but on reading
them through, he says that an impression unfavourable to their
authenticity was produced upon him which he had not been able to shake
off. He proceeds to point out their internal improbability, and other
difficulties connected with the supposed journey, which make it "still
more improbable that Ignatius himself can really have written these
Epistles in this situation." Lechler does not consider that the
Curetonian Epistles strengthen the case; and although he admits that
he cannot congratulate himself on the possession of "certainty and
cheerfulness of conviction" of the inauthenticity of the Ignatian
Epistles, he at least very clearly justifies the affirmation that the
authenticity cannot be established.

Now what has been the result of this minute and prejudiced attack upon
my notes? Out of nearly seventy critics and writers in connection with
what is admitted to be one of the most intricate questions of Christian
literature, it appears that--much to my regret--I have inserted one
name totally by accident, overlooked that the doubts of another had
been removed by the subsequent publication of the Short Recension and


erroneously classed him, and I withdraw a third whose doubts I consider
that I have overrated. Mistakes to this extent in dealing with such
a mass of references, or a difference of a shade more or less in the
representation of critical opinions, not always clearly expressed, may,
I hope, be excusable, and I can only say that I am only too glad to
correct such errors. On the other hand, a critic who attacks such
references, in such a tone, and with such wholesale accusations of
"misstatement" and "misrepresentation," was bound to be accurate, and I
have shown that Dr. Lightfoot is not only inaccurate in matters of fact,
but unfair in his statements of my purpose. I am happy, however, to be
able to make use of his own words and say: "I may perhaps have fallen
into some errors of detail, though I have endeavoured to avoid them, but
the main conclusions are, I believe, irrefragable."(l)

There are further misstatements made by Dr. Lightfoot to which I
must briefly refer before turning to other matters. He says, with
unhesitating boldness:--

One highly important omission is significant. There is no mention, from
first to last, of the Armenian version. Now it happens that this version
(so far as regards the documentary evidence) _has been felt to be the
key to the position, and around it the battle has raged fiercely since
its publication_. One who (like our author) maintains the priority
of the Curetonian letters, was especially bound to give it some
consideration, for it furnishes the most formidable argument to his
opponents. This version was given to the world by Petermann in 1849,
the same year in which Cureton's later work, the _Corpus Ignatianum_,
appeared, and therefore was unknown to him. Its _bearing occupies a
more or less prominent place in all, or nearly all, the writers who have
specially discussed the Ignatian question during the last quarter of a
century. This is true of Lipsius and Weiss and Hilgenfeld and Uhlhom,
whom he cites, not less than of Merx and Denzinger and Zahn, whom he
neglects to cite_.

Now first as regards the facts. I do not maintain the 1 "Contemporary
Review," February, 1875, p. 183.


priority of the Curetonian Epistles in this book myself, indeed I
express no personal opinion whatever regarding them which is not
contained in that general declaration of belief, the decision of which
excites the wrath of my diffident critic, that the Epistles in no form
have "any value as evidence for an earlier period than the end of the
second or beginning of the third century, even if they have any value at
all." I merely represent the opinion of others regarding those Epistles.
Dr. Lightfoot very greatly exaggerates the importance attached to the
Armenian version, and I call special attention to the passages in the
above quotation which I have taken the liberty of italicising. I venture
to say emphatically that, so far from being considered the "key of
the position," this version has, with some exceptions, played a most
subordinate and insignificant part in the controversy, and as Dr.
Lightfoot has expressly mentioned certain writers, I will state how the
case stands with regard to them. Weiss, Lipsius, Uhlhorn, Merx, and Zahn
certainly "more or less prominently" deal with them. Denzinger, however,
only refers to Petermann's publication, which appeared while his own
_brochure_ was passing through the press, in a short note at the end,
and in again writing on the Ignatian question, two years after,(1)
he does not even allude to the Armenian version. Beyond the barest
historical reference to Petermann's work, Hilgenfeld does not discuss
the Armenian version at all So much for the writers actually mentioned
by Dr. Lightfoot.

As for "the writers who have specially discussed the Ignatian question
during the last quarter of a century": Cureton apparently did not
think it worth while to add anything regarding the Armenian version of


after its appearance; Bunsen refutes Petermann's arguments in a few
pages of his "Hippolytus";(1) Baur, who wrote against Bunsen and the
Curetonian letters, and, according to Dr. Lightfoot's representation,
should have found this "the most formidable argument" against them,
does not anywhere, subsequent to their publication, even allude to the
Armenian Epistles; Ewald, in a note of a couple of lines,(2) refers to
Petermann's Epistles as identical with a post-Eusebian manipulated form
of the Epistles which he mentions in a sentence in his text; Dressel
devotes a few unfavourable lines to them;(3) Hefele(4) supports them at
somewhat greater length; but Bleek, Volkmar, Tischendorf, Bohringer,
Scholten, and others have not thought them worthy of special notice, at
any rate none of these nor any other writers of any weight have, so far
as I am aware, introduced them into the controversy at all.

The argument itself did not seem to me of sufficient importance to
introduce into a discussion already too long and complicated, and I
refer the reader to Bunsen's reply to it, from which, however, I may
quote the following lines:

"But it appears to me scarcely serious to say: there are the Seven
Letters in Armenian, and I maintain, they prove that Coreton's text is
an incomplete extract, because, I think, I have found some Syriac idioms
in the Armenian text! Well, if that is not a joke, it simply proves,
according to ordinary logic, that the Seven Letters must have once been
translated into Syriac. But how can it prove that the Greek original of


this supposed Syriac version is the genuine text, and not an
interpolated and partially forged one?" (l)

Dr. Lightfoot blames me for omitting to introduce this argument, on
the ground that "a discussion which, while assuming the priority of the
Curetonian letters, ignores this version altogether, has omitted a vital
problem of which it was bound to give an account" Now all this is
sheer misrepresentation. I do not assume the priority of the Curetonian
Epistles, and I examine all the passages contained in the seven Greek
Epistles which have any bearing upon our Gospels.

Passing on to another point, I say:

"Seven Epistles have been selected out of fifteen extant, all equally
purporting to be by Ignatius, simply because only that number were
mentioned by Eusebius."(2)

Another passage is also quoted by Dr. Lightfoot, which will be found
a little further on, where it is taken for facility of reference. Upon
this he writes as follows:

This attempt to confound the seven Epistles mentioned by Eusebius with
the other confessedly spurious Epistles, as if they presented themselves
to us with the same credentials, ignores all the important facts bearing
on the question. (1). Theodoret, a century after Eusebius, betrays no
knowledge of any other Epistles, and there is no distinct trace of the
use of the confessedly spurious Epistles till late in the sixth century
at the earliest. (2). The confessedly spurious Epistles differ widely
in style from the seven Epistles, and betray the same hand which
interpolated the seven Epistles. In other words, they clearly formed
part of the Long Recension in the first instance. (3). They abound in
anachronisms which point to an age later than Eusebius, as the date of
their composition.(3)

Although I do not really say in the above that no other pleas are
advanced in favour of the seven Epistles,


I contend that, reduced to its simplest form, the argument for that
special number rests mainly, if not altogether, upon their mention by
Eusebius. The very first reason (1) advanced by Dr. Lightfoot to refute
me is a practical admission of the correctness of my statement, for the
eight Epistles are put out of court because even Theodoret, a century
after Eusebius, does not betray any knowledge of them, but the "silence
of Eusebius," the earlier witness, is infinitely more important, and
it merely receives some increase of significance from the silence of
Theodoret. Suppose, however, that Eusebius had referred to any of them,
how changed their position would have been! The Epistles referred to
would have attained the exceptional distinction which his mention has
conferred upon the rest The fact is, moreover, that, throughout the
controversy, the two divisions of Epistles are commonly designated
the "prae-" and "post-Eusebian," making him the turning-point of the
controversy. Indeed, further on, Dr. Lightfoot himself admits: "The
testimony of Eusebius first differentiates them."(1) The argument (2
and 3) that the eight rejected Epistles betray anachronisms and
interpolations, is no refutation of my statement, for the same
accusation is brought by the majority of critics against the Vossian

The fourth and last argument seems more directly addressed to a second
paragraph quoted by Dr. Lightfoot, to which I refer above, and which I
have reserved till now as it requires more detailed notice. It is this:

"It is a total mistake to suppose that the seven Epistles mentioned by
Eusebius have been transmitted to us in any special way. These Epistles
are mixed up in the Medicean and corresponding ancient Latin MSS. with
the other eight Epistles, universally pronounced to be spurious, without
distinction of any kind, and all have equal honour."(2)


I will at once give Dr. Lightfoot's comment on this, in contrast
with the statement of a writer equally distinguished for learning and
orthodoxy--Dr. Tregelles:

Dr. Lightfoot. (4). "It is not strictly true that the seven Epistles are
mixed up with the confessedly spurious Epistles. In the Greek and Latin
MSS., as also in the Armenian version, the spurious Epistles come after
the others; and this circumstance, combined with the facts already
mentioned, plainly shows that they were a later addition, borrowed from
the Long Recension to complete the body of Ignatian letters."(1)

Dr. Tregelles. "It is a mistake to speak of seven Ignatian Epistles in
Greek having been transmitted to us, for no such seven exist, except
through their having been selected by editors from the Medicean MS.
which contains so much that is confessedly spurious;--a fact which some
who imagine a diplomatic transmission of seven have overlooked."(2)

I will further quote the words of Cureton, for as Dr. Lightfoot advances
nothing but assertions, it is well to meet him with the testimony of
others rather than the mere reiteration of my own statement Cureton

"Again, there is another circumstance which will naturally lead us
to look with some suspicion upon the recension of the Epistles of St.
Ignatius, as exhibited in the Medicean MS., and in the ancient Latin
version corresponding with it, which is, that the Epistles presumed to
be the genuine production of that holy Martyr are mixed up with others,
which are almost universally allowed to be spurious. Both in the Greek
and Latin MSS. all these are placed upon the same footing, and no
distinction is drawn between them; and the only ground which has
hitherto been a Note to "Home's Int. to the Holy Scriptures," 12th ed.,
1869, iv. p. 332, note 1. The italics are in the original.

     1 "Contemporary Beview," February, 1875, p. 347. Dr.
     Lightfoot makes the following important admission in a note:

     "The Roman Epistle indeed has been separated from its
     companions, and is embedded in the Martyrology which stands
     at the end of this collection in the Latin Version, where
     doubtless it stood also in the Greek, before the MS. of this
     latter was mutilated. Otherwise the Vossian Epistles come
     together, and are followed by the confessedly spurious
     Epistles in the Greek and Latin MSS. In the Armenian all the
     Vossian Epistles are together, and the confessedly spurious
     Epistles follow. See Zahn, Ignatius von Antiochien, p. 111."


assumed for their separation has been the specification of some of them
by Eusebius and his omission of any mention of the others."'

"The external evidence from the testimony of manuscripts in favour
of the rejected Greek Epistles, with the exception of that to the
Philip-pians, is certainly greater than that in favour of those which
have been received.' They are found in all the manuscripts, both Greek
and Latin, in the same form; while the others exhibit two distinct and
very different recensions, if we except the Epistle to Polycarp, in
which the variations are very few. Of these two recensions the shorter
has been most generally received: the circumstance of its being shorter
seems much to have influenced its reception; and the text of the
Medicean Codex and of the two copies of the corresponding Latin version
belonging to Cains College, Cambridge, and Corpus Christi College,
Oxford, has been adopted.... In all these there is no distinction
whatever drawn between the former and latter Epistles: all are placed
upon the same basis; and there is no ground whatever to conclude either
that the arranger of the Greek recension or the translator of the Latin
version esteemed one to be better or more genuine than another. Nor
can any prejudice result to the Epistles to the Tarsians, to the
Antiochians, and to Hero, from the circumstance of their being placed
after the others in the collection; for they are evidently arranged in
chronological order, and rank after the rest as having been written from
Philippi, at which place Ignatius is said to have arrived after he had
despatched the previous Letters. So far, therefore, as the evidence of
all the existing copies, Latin as well as Greek, of both the recensions
is to be considered, it is certainly in favour of the rejected Epistles,
rather than of those which have been retained." (2)

Proceeding from counter-statements to actual facts, I will very briefly
show the order in which these Epistles have been found in some of the
principal MSS. One of the earliest published was the ancient Latin
version of eleven Epistles edited by J. Faber Stapulensis in 1498, which
was at least quoted in the ninth century, and which in the subjoined
table I shall mark A,(3) and which also exhibits the order of Cod. Vat
859, assigned to the eleventh century.(4) The next (B) is a Greek MS.
edited by Valentinus Pacæus in 1557,(5) and the order at


the same time represents that of the Cod. Pal. 150.(1) The third (C)
is the ancient Latin translation, referred to above, published by
Archbishop Usher.(2) The fourth (D) is the celebrated Medicean MS.
assigned to the eleventh century, and published by Vossiusin 1646.(3)
This also represents the order of the Cod. Casanatensis G. V. 14.(4)
I italicise the rejected Epistles: (See scanned page in the html file,

I have given the order in MSS. containing the "Long Recension" as well
as the Vossian, because, however much some may desire to exclude them,
the variety of arrangement is notable, and presents features which have
an undeniable bearing upon this question. Taking the Vossian MS., it is
obvious that, without any distinction whatever between the genuine and
the spurious, it contains


three of the false Epistles, and _does not contain the so-called genuine
Epistle to the Romans at all_. The Epistle to the Romans, in fact, is,
to use Dr. Lightfoot's own expression, "embedded in the Martyrology,"
which is as spurious as any of the epistles. This circumstance alone
would justify the assertion which Dr. Lightfoot contradicts.

I must now, in order finally to dispose of this matter of notes, turn
for a short time to consider objections raised by Dr. Westcott. Whilst
I have to thank him for greater courtesy, I regret that I must point out
serious errors into which he has fallen in his statements regarding my
references which, as matters of fact, admit of practical test. Before
proceeding to them I may make one or two general observations. Dr.
Westcott says:

"I may perhaps express my surprise that a writer who is quite capable of
thinking for himself should have considered it worth his while to burden
his pages with lists of names and writings, arranged, for the most part,
alphabetically, which have in very many cases no value whatever for a
scholar, while they can only oppress the general reader with a vague
feeling that all 'profound' critics are on one side. The questions to
be discussed must be decided by evidence and by argument and not by

Now the fact is that hitherto, in England, argument and evidence have
almost been ignored in connection with the great question discussed in
this work, and it has practically been decided by the authority of
the Church, rendered doubly potent by force of habit and transmitted
reverence. The orthodox works usually written on the subject have, to a
very great extent, suppressed the objections raised by a mass of learned
and independent critics, or treated them as insignificant, and worthy of
little more than a passing word of pious indignation. At the same time,
therefore, that I endeavour, to


the best of my ability, to decide these questions by evidence and
argument, in opposition to mere ecclesiastical authority, I refer
readers desirous of further pursuing the subject to works where they may
find them dis-. cussed. I must be permitted to add, that I do not
consider I uselessly burden my pages by references to critics who confirm
the views in the text or discuss them, for it is right that earnest
thinkers should be told the state of opinion, and recognize that belief
is not so easy and matter of course a thing as they have been led to
suppose, or the unanimity quite so complete as English divines have
often seemed to represent it Dr. Westcott, however, omits to state that
I as persistently refer to writers who oppose, as to those who favour,
my own conclusions.

Dr. Westcott proceeds to make the accusation which I now desire to
investigate. He says:

"Writers are quoted as holding on independent grounds an opinion which
is involved in their characteristic assumptions. And more than this, the
references are not unfrequently actually misleading. One example will
show that I do not speak too strongly."(l)

Dr. Westcott has scrutinized this work with great minuteness, and, as I
shall presently explain, he has selected his example with evident care.
The idea of illustrating the vast mass of references in these volumes
by a single instance is somewhat startling, but to insinuate that a
supposed contradiction pointed out in one note runs through the whole
work, as he does, if I rightly understand his subsequent expressions,
is scarcely worthy of Dr. Westcott, although I am sure he does not mean
to be unfair. The example selected is as follows:

"It has been demonstrated that Ignatius was not sent to Rome at all, but
suffered martyrdom in Antioch itself on the 2()th December, a.d. 115


when he was condemned to be cast to wild beasts in the amphitheatre, in
consequence of the fanatical excitement produced by the earthquake which
took place on the 13th of that month.4"' The references in support
of these statements are the following: 8 Baur, Urspr. d. Epiec.Tub.
Zeitschr. f.Theol. 1838, H. 3, p. 155 anm.; Bretschneider, Probabilia,
&c, p. 185; Bleek, Einl.N. T., p. 144; Guericke, H*bucht Kt #., i p.
148; Hagenbach, K. G., i. p. 113 f.; Davidson, Introd. N. T.,i. p. 19;
Mayerhoff, Eitll. petr. Schr., p. 79; Scholten, Die Sit. Zeugnisse, p.
40, p. 50 f.; Volkmar, Der Ursprung, p. 52; R'buch Einl. Apocr., i. p.
121 f., p. 136.

4 Volkmar, Wuch Einl. Apocr., i. p. 121 ff., 136 f.; Der Ursprung, p.
52 ff.; Baur, Ursp. d. Episc. Tub. Zeitschr. f. Th. 1838, H. 3, p. 149
f.; Gesch. chr. Kirehe, 1863, i. p. 440, anm. 1.; Davidson, Introd. N.
T., Lp. 19; Scholten, Die Hit. Zeugnisse, p. 51 f.; cf. Francke, Zur
Gesch. Trojans, u. s. w. 1840, p. 253 f.; Hilgenfeld, Die ap. Vster, p.

Upon this Dr. Westcott remarks:

"Such an array of authorities, drawn from different schools, cannot but
appear overwhelming; and the fact that about half of them are quoted
twice over emphasizes the implied precision of their testimony as to the
two points affirmed."

Dr. Westcott, however, has either overlooked or omitted to state the
fact that, although some of the writers are quoted twice, the two notes
differ in almost every particular, many of the names in note 3 being
absent from note 4, other names being inserted in the latter which do
not appear in the former, an alteration being in most cases made in the
place referred to, and the order in which the authorities are placed
being significantly varied. For instance, in note 3 the reference to
Volkmar is the last, but it is the first in note 4; whilst a similar
transposition of order takes place in his works, and alterations in
the pages. The references in note 3, in fact, are given for the date
occurring in the course of the sentence, whilst those in note 4, placed
at the end, are intended to support the whole statement which is


made. I must, however, explain an omission, which is pretty obvious,
but which I regret may have misled Dr. Westcott in regard to note 3,
although it does not affect note 4. Headers are probably aware that
there has been, amongst other points, a difference of opinion not only
as to the place, but also the date of the martyrdom of Ignatius. I
have in every other case carefully stated the question of date, and my
omission in this instance is, I think, the only exception in the book.
The fact is, that I had originally in the text the words which I now add
to the note: "The martyrdom has been variously dated about a.d. 107, or
a.d. 115-116, but whether assigning the event to Home or to Antioch
a majority of critics of all shades of opinion have adopted the later
date." Thinking it unnecessary, under the circumstances, to burden the
text with this, I removed it with the design of putting the statement
at the head of note 3, with reference to "a.d. 115" in the text, but
unfortunately an interruption at the time prevented the completion of
this intention, as well.as the addition of some fuller references to the
writers quoted, which had been omitted, and the point, to my infinite
regret, was overlooked. The whole of the authorities in note 3,
therefore, do not support the apparent statement of martyrdom in
Antioch, although they all confirm the date, for which I really referred
to them. With this explanation, and marking the omitted references(1)
by placing them within brackets, I proceed to analyze the two notes in
contrast with Dr. Westcott's statements.

     1 These consist only of an additional page of Baur's work
     first quoted, and a reference to another of his works quoted
     in the second note, but accidentally left out of the note 3.


See page scan, Ed.


See page scan, Ed.


See page scan, Ed.


It will thus be seen that the whole of these authorities confirm the
later date assigned to the martyrdom, and that Baur, in the note in
which Dr. Westcott finds "nothing in any way bearing upon the history
except a passing supposition," really advances a weighty argument for
it and against the earlier date, and as Dr. Westcott considers, rightly,
that argument should decide everything, I am surprised that he has
not perceived the propriety of my referring to arguments as well as
statements of evidence.

To sum up the opinions expressed, I may state that whilst all the nine
writers support the later date, for which purpose they were quoted,
three of them (Bleek, Guericke, and Mayerhoff) ascribe the martyrdom
to Rome, one (Brctschneider) mentions no place, one (Hagenbach) is
doubtful, but leans to Antioch, and the other four declare for the
martyrdom in Antioch. Nothing, however, could show more conclusively the
purpose of note 3, which I have explained, than this very contradiction,
and the fact that I claim for the general statement in the text,
regarding the martyrdom in Antioch itself in opposition to the legend of
the journey to and death in Rome, only the authorities in note 4,
which I shall now proceed to analyse in contrast with Dr. Westcott's
statements, and here 1 beg the favour of the readers attention.

(See page scans, lix to lxii Ed.)


At the close of this analysis Dr. Westcott sums up the result as

"In this case, therefore, again, Volkmar alone offers any arguments
in support of the statement in the text; and the final result of the
references is, that the alleged 'demonstration' is, at the most, what
Scholten calls 'a not groundless conjecture.'"(3)

     3 On the Canon, Preface 4th ed. p. xxiv. Dr. Westcott adds,
     in a note, "It may be worth while to add that in spite of
     the profuse display of learning in connexion with Ignatius,
     I do not see even in the second edition any reference to the
     full and elaborate work of Zahn." I might reply to this that
     my MS. had left my hands before Zahn's work had reached
     England, but, moreover, the work contains nothing new to
     which reference was necessary.


It is scarcely possible to imagine a more complete misrepresentation of
the fact than the statement that "Volkmar alone offers any arguments in
support of the statement in the text," and it is incomprehensible upon
any ordinary theory. My mere sketch cannot possibly convey an adequate
idea of the elaborate arguments of Volkmar, Baur, and Hilgenfeld, but
I hope to state their main features, a few pages on. With regard to Dr.
Westcott's remark on the "alleged 'demonstration,'" it must be evident
that when a writer states anything to be "demonstrated" he expresses his
own belief. It is impossible to secure absolute unanimity of opinion,
and the only question in such a case is whether I refer to writers, in
connection with the circumstances which I affirm to be demonstrated,
who advance arguments and evidence bearing upon it. A critic is quite
at liberty to say that the arguments are insufficient, but he is not at
liberty to deny that there are any arguments at all when the elaborate
reasoning of men like Volkmar, Baur and Hilgenfeld is referred to.
Therefore, when he goes on to say:

"It seems quite needless to multiply comments on these results. Any one
who will candidly consider this analysis will, I believe, agree with
me in thinking that such a style of annotation, which runs through the
whole work, is justly characterized as frivolous and misleading."(1)

Dr. Westcott must excuse my retorting that, not my annotation, but his
own criticism of it, endorsed by Professor Lightfoot, is "frivolous and
misleading," and I venture to hope that this analysis, tedious as it has
been, may once for all establish the propriety and substantial accuracy
of my references.

As Dr. Westcott does not advance any further arguments


of his own in regard to the Ignatian controversy, I may now return to
Dr. Lightfoot, and complete my reply to his objections; but I must do so
with extreme brevity, as I have already devoted too much space to
this subject, and must now come to a close. To the argument that it is
impossible to suppose that soldiers such as the "ten leopards" described
in the Epistles would allow a prisoner, condemned to wild beasts for
professing Christianity, deliberately to write long epistles at every
stage of his journey, promulgating the very doctrines for which he was
condemned, as well as to hold the freest intercourse with deputations
from the various churches, Dr. Lightfoot advances arguments, derived
from Zahn, regarding the Roman procedure in cases that are said to be
"known." These cases, however, are neither analogous, nor have they the
force which is assumed. That Christians imprisoned for their religious
belief should receive their nourishment, while in prison, from friends,
is anything but extraordinary, and that bribes should secure access to
them in many cases, and some mitigation of suffering, is possible. The
case of Ignatius, however, is very different. If the meaning of [--Greek--]
be that, although receiving bribes, the "ten leopards" only became more
cruel, the very reverse of the leniency and mild treatment ascribed
to the Roman procedure is described by the writer himself as actually
taking place, and certainly nothing approaching a parallel to the
correspondence of pseudo-Ignatius can be pointed out in any known
instance. The case of Saturus and Perpetua, even if true, is no
confirmation, the circumstances being very different; (l) but in


fact there is no evidence whatever that the extant history was written
by either of them,(1) but on the contrary, I maintain, every reason to
believe that it was not.

Dr. Lightfoot advances the instance of Paul as a case in point of a
Christian prisoner treated with great consideration, and who "writes
letters freely, receives visits from his friends, communicates with
churches and individuals as he desires."(2) It is scarcely possible
to imagine two cases more dissimilar than those of pseudo-Ignatius and
Paul, as narrated in the "Acts of the Apostles," although doubtless
the story of the former has been framed upon some of the lines of the
latter. Whilst Ignatius is condemned to be cast to the wild beasts as a
Christian, Paul is not condemned at all, but stands in the position of
a Roman citizen, rescued from infuriated Jews (xxiii. 27), repeatedly
declared by his judges to have done nothing worthy of death or of bonds
(xxv. 25, xxvi. 31), and who might have been set at liberty but that he
had appealed to Cæsar (xxv. 11 f., xxvi. 32). His position was one which
secured the sympathy of the Roman soldiers. Ignatius 'fights with
beasts from Syria even unto Rome,' and is cruelly treated by his
"ten leopards," but Paul is represented as receiving very different
treatment. Felix commands that his own people should be allowed to come
and minister to him (xxiv. 23), and when the voyage is commenced it is
said that Julius, who had charge of Paul, treated him courteously, and
gave him liberty to go to see his friends at Sidon (xxvii. 3). At Rome
he was allowed to live by himself with a single soldier to guard him
(xxviii. 16), and he continued for two years in his own hired house.


These circumstances are totally different from those under which the
Epistles of Ignatius are said to have been written.

"But the most powerful testimony," Dr. Lightfoot goes on to say, "is
derived from the representations of a heathen writer."(1) The case of
Peregrinus, to which he refers, seems to me even more unfortunate than
that of Paul. Of Peregrinus himself, historically, we really know little
or nothing, for the account of Lucian is scarcely received as serious
by any one. Lucian narrates that this Peregrinus Proteus, a cynic
philosopher, having been guilty of parricide and other crimes, found
it convenient to leave his own country. In the course of his travels he
fell in with Christians and learnt their doctrines, and, according to
Lucian, the Christians soon were mere children in his hands, so that
he became in his own person "prophet, high-priest, and ruler of a
synagogue," and further "they spoke of him as a god, used him as a
law-giver, and elected him their chief man."(2) After a time he was put
in prison for his new faith, which Lucian says was a real service to him
afterwards in his impostures. During the time he was in prison, he is
said to have received those services from Christians which Dr. Lightfoot
quotes. Peregrinus was afterwards set at liberty by the Governor of
Syria, who loved philosophy,(3) and travelled about living in great
comfort at the expense of the Christians, until at last they quarrelled
in consequence, Lucian thinks, of his eating some forbidden food.
Finally, Peregrinus ended his career by throwing himself into the flames
of a funeral pile during the Olympian games. An earthquake is said to
have taken


place at the time; a vulture flew out from the pile crying out with
a human voice; and shortly after Peregrinus rose again and appeared
clothed in white raiment unhurt by the fire.

Now this writing, of which I have given the barest sketch, is a direct
satire upon Christians, or even, as Baur affirms, "a parody of the
history of Jesus."(1) There are no means of ascertaining that any of
the events of the Christian career of Peregrinus were true, but it is
obvious that, Lucian's policy was to exaggerate the facility of access
to prisoners, as well as the assiduity and attention of the Christians
to Peregrinus, the ease with which they were duped being the chief point
of the satire.

There is another circumstance which must be mentioned. Lucian's account
of Peregrinus is claimed by supporters of the Ignatian Epistles as
evidence for them.(2) "The singular correspondence in this narrative
with the account of Ignatius, combined with some striking coincidences
of expression," they argue, show "that Lucian was acquainted with the
Ignatian history, if not with the Ignatian letters." These are the
words of Dr. Lightfoot, although he guards himself, in referring to this
argument, by the words: "if it be true," and does not express his own
opinion; but he goes on to say: "At all events it is conclusive for the
matter in hand, as showing that Christian prisoners were treated in the
very way described in these epistles."(3) On the contrary, it is in no
case conclusive of anything. If it were true that Lucian employed, as
the basis of his satire, the Ignatian Epistles and Martyrology,


it is clear that his narrative cannot be used as independent testimony
for the truth of the statements regarding the treatment of Christian
prisoners. On the other hand, as this cannot be shown, his story remains
a mere satire with very little historical value. Apart from all this,
however, the case of Peregrinus, a man confined in prison for a short
time, under a favourable governor, and not pursued with any severity, is
no parallel to that of Ignatius condemned _ad bestias_ and, according
to his own express statement, cruelly treated by the "ten leopards"; and
further the liberty of pseudo-Ignatius must greatly have exceeded all
that is said of Peregrinus, if he was able to write such epistles, and
hold such free intercourse as they represent.

I will now, in the briefest manner possible, indicate the arguments
of the writers referred to in the note(l) attacked by Dr. Westcott,
in which he cannot find any relevancy, but which, in my opinion,
demonstrate that Ignatius was not sent to Rome at all, but suffered
martyrdom in Antioch itself. The reader who wishes to go minutely into
the matter must be good enough to consult the writers there cited, and
I will only sketch the case here, without specifically indicating
the source of each argument. Where I add any particulars I will, when
necessary, give my authorities. The Ignatian Epistles and martyrologies
set forth that, during a general persecution of Christians, in Syria
at least, Ignatius was condemned by Trajan, when he wintered in Antioch
during the Parthian War, to be taken to Rome and cast to wild beasts in
the amphitheatre. Instead of being sent to Rome by the short sea voyage,
he is represented as taken thither by the long and incomparably more
difficult land route. The ten soldiers who


guard him are described by himself as only rendered more cruel by the
presents made to them to secure kind treatment for him, so that not in
the amphitheatre only, but all the way from Syria to Rome, by night
and day, by sea and land, he "fights with beasts." Notwithstanding
this severity, the Martyr freely receives deputations from the various
Churches, who, far from being molested, are able to have constant
intercourse with him, and even to accompany him in his journey. He not
only converses with these freely, but he is represented as writing long
Epistles to the various Churches which, instead of containing the last
exhortations and farewell words which might be considered natural
from the expectant martyr, are filled with advanced views of Church
government, and the dignity of the episcopate. These circumstances, at
the outset, excite grave suspicions of the truth of the documents, and
of the story which they set forth. When we inquire whether the alleged
facts of the case are supported by historical data, the reply is
emphatically adverse. All that is known of the treatment of Christians
during the reign of Trajan, as well as of the character of the Emperor,
is opposed to the supposition that Ignatius could have been condemned
by Trajan himself, or even by a provincial governor, to be taken to Rome
and there cast to the beasts. It is well known that under Trajan there
was no general persecution of Christians, although there may have been
instances in which prominent members of the body were either punished or
fell victims to popular fury and superstition.(1)

1 Dean Milman says: "Trajan, indeed, is absolved, at least by the
almost general voice of antiquity, from the crime of persecuting the
Christians." In a note, he adds: "Excepting of Ignatius, probably of
Simeon of Jerusalem, there is no authentic martyrdom in the reign of
Trajan."--Hist, of Christianity, 1867, ii. p. 103.


An instance of this kind was the martyrdom of Simeon, Bishop of
Jerusalem, reported by Hegesippus. He was not condemned _ad bestias_,
however, and much less deported to Rome for the purpose. Why should
Ignatius have been so exceptionally treated? In fact, even during the
persecutions under Marcus Aurelius, although Christians in Syria were
frequently enough cast to the beasts, there is no instance recorded in
which any one condemned to this fate was sent to Rome. Such a sentence
is quite at variance with the clement character of Trajan and his
principles of government. Neander, in a passage quoted by Baur, says:
"As he (Trajan), like Pliny, considered Christianity mere fanaticism, he
also probably thought that if severity were combined with clemency, if
too much noise were not made about it, the open demonstration not left
unpunished but also minds not stirred up by persecution, the fanatical
enthusiasm would most easily cool down, and the matter by degrees come
to an end."(1) This was certainly the policy which mainly characterized
his reign. Now not only would such a severe sentence have been contrary
to such principles, but the agitation excited would have been enormously
increased by sending the martyr a long journey by land through Asia, and
allowing him to pass through some of the principal cities, hold constant
intercourse with the various Christian communities, and address long
epistles to them. With the fervid desire for martyrdom then prevalent,
such a journey would have been a triumphal progress, spreading
everywhere excitement and enthusiasm. It may not be out of place, as an
indication of the results of impartial examination, to


point out that Neander's inability to accept the Ignatian epistles
largely rests on his disbelief of the whole tradition of this sentence
and martyr-journey. "We do not recognize the Emperor Trajan in this
narrative," (the martyrology) he says, "therefore cannot but doubt
every thing which is related by this document, as well as that, during
this reign, Christians can have been cast to the wild beasts."(1)

If, for a moment, we suppose that, instead of being condemned by Trajan
himself, Ignatius received his sentence from a provincial governor, the
story does not gain greater probability. It is not credible that such an
official would have ventured to act so much in opposition to the spirit
of the Emperor's government Besides, if such a governor did pronounce
so severe a sentence, why did he not execute it in Antioch? Why send
the prisoner to Rome? By doing so he made all the more conspicuous a
severity which was not likely to be pleasing to the clement Trajan. The
cruelty which dictated a condemnation _ad bestias_ would have been more
gratified by execution on the spot, and there is besides no instance
known, even during the following general persecution, of Christians
being sent for execution in Rome. The transport to Rome is in no case
credible, and the utmost that can be admitted is, that Ignatius, like
Simeon of Jerusalem, may have been condemned to death during this reign,
more especially if the event be associated with some sudden outbreak of
superstitious fury against the Christians, to which the martyr may at
once have fallen a victim. We are not without indications of such a
cause operating in the case of Ignatius.


It is generally admitted that the date of Trajan's visit to Antioch is
a.d. 115, when he wintered there during the Parthian War. An earthquake
occurred on the 13th December of that year, which was well calculated
to excite popular superstition. It may not be out of place to quote here
the account of the earthquake given by Dean Milmau, who, although he
mentions a different date, and adheres to the martyrdom in Rome, still
associates the condemnation of Ignatius with the earthquake. He says:
"Nevertheless, at that time there were circumstances which account
with singular likelihood for that sudden outburst of persecution in
Antioch.... At this very time an earthquake, more than usually terrible
and destructive, shook the cities of the East. Antioch suffered its most
appalling ravages--Antioch, crowded with the legionaries prepared for
the Emperor's invasion of the East, with ambassadors and tributary kings
from all parts of the East. The city shook through all its streets;
houses, palaces, theatres, temples fell crashing down. Many were killed:
the Consul Pedo died of his hurts. The Emperor himself hardly escaped
through a window, and took refuge in the Circus, where he passed some
days in the open air. Whence this terrible blow but from the wrath of
the Gods, who must be appeased by unusual sacrifices? This was towards
the end of January; early in February the Christian Bishop, Ignatius,
was arrested. We know how, during this century, at every period of
public calamity, whatever that calamity might be, the cry of the
panic-stricken Heathens was, 'The Christians to the lions!' It may be
that, in Trajan's humanity, in order to prevent a general massacre by
the infuriated populace, or to give greater solemnity to the sacrifice,
the execution was ordered to


take place, not in Antioch, but in Rome."(1) I contend that these
reasons, on the contrary, render execution in Antioch infinitely more
probable. To continue, however: the earthquake occurred on the 13th, and
the martyrdom of Ignatius took place on the 20th December, just a
week after the earthquake. His remains, as we know from Chrysostom
and others, were, as an actual fact, interred at Antioch. The natural
inference is that the martyrdom, the only part of the Ignatian story
which is credible, occurred not in Rome but in Antioch itself, in
consequence of the superstitious fury against the [--Greek--] aroused by
the earthquake.

I will now go more into the details of the brief statements I have just
made, and here we come for the first time to John Malalas. In the
first place he mentions the occurrence of the earthquake on the 13 th
December. I will quote Dr. Lightfoot's own rendering of his further
important statement. He says:

"The words of John Malalas are:

'The same king Trajan was residing in the same city (Antioch) when the
visitation of God (i.e. the earthquake) occurred. And at that time the
holy Ignatius, the bishop of the city of Antioch, was martyred (or bore
testimony), [--Greek--] before him [--Greek--]; for he was exasperated against
him, because he reviled him.'"(2)

Dr. Lightfoot endeavours in every way to discredit this statement. He
argues that Malalas tells foolish stories about other matters, and,
therefore, is not to be believed here; but so simple a piece of
information may well be correctly conveyed by a writer who elsewhere
may record stupid traditions.(3) If the narrative of foolish stories and
fabulous traditions is to exclude belief in everything else stated by
those who relate them, the


whole of the Fathers are disposed of at one fell swoop, for they all
do so. Dr. Lightfoot also asserts that the theory of the cause of the
martyrdom advanced by Volkmar "receives no countenance from the story
of Malalas, who gives a wholly different reason--the irritating language
used to the emperor."(l) On the other hand, it in no way contradicts it,
for Ignatius can only have "reviled" Trajan when brought before him, and
his being taken before him may well have been caused by the fury excited
by the earthquake, even if the language of the Bishop influenced his
condemnation; the whole statement of Malalas is in perfect harmony with
the theory in its details, and in the main, of course, directly supports
it. Then Dr. Lightfoot actually makes use of the following extraordinary

"But it may be worth while adding that the error of Malalas is capable
of easy explanation. He has probably misinterpreted some earlier
authority, whose language lent itself to misinterpretation. The words
[--Greek--], which were afterwards used especially of martyrdom, had in the
earlier ages a wider sense, including other modes of witnessing to
the faith: the expression [--Greek--] again is ambiguous and might denote
either 'during the reign of Trajan,' or 'in the presence of Trajan.'
A blundering writer like Malalas might have stumbled over either

This is a favourite device. In case his abuse of poor Malalas should not
sufficiently discredit him, Dr. Lightfoot attempts to explain away his
language. It would be difficult indeed to show that the words [--Greek--],

already used in that sense in the New Testament, were not, at the date
at which any record of the martyrdom of Ignatius which Malalas could
have had before him was written, employed to express martyrdom, when
applied to such a case, as Dr. Lightfoot indeed has in the


first instance rendered the phrase. Even Zahn, whom Dr. Lightfoot so
implicitly follows, emphatically decides against him on both points.
"The [--Greek--] together with [--Greek--] can only signify 'coram Trajano'
('in the presence of Trajan'), and [--Greek--] only the execution."(1) Let
any one simply read over Dr. Lightfoot's own rendering, which I have
quoted above, and he will see that such quibbles are excluded, and that,
on the contrary, Malalas seems excellently well and directly to have
interpreted his earlier authority.

That the statement of Malalas does not agree with the reports of the
Fathers is no real objection, for we have good reason to believe that
none of them had information from any other source than the Ignatian
Epistles themselves, or tradition. Eusebius evidently had not. Irenæus,
Origen, and some later Fathers tell us nothing about him. Jerome and
Chrysostom clearly take their accounts from these sources. Malalas
is the first who, by his variation, proves that he had another and
different authority before him, and in abandoning the martyr-journey to
Rome, his account has infinitely greater apparent probability. Malalas
lived at Antioch, which adds some weight to his statement. It is
objected that so also did Chrysostom, and at an earlier period, and yet
he repeats the Roman story. This, however, is no valid argument against
Malalas. Chrysostom was too good a churchman to doubt the story of
Epistles so much tending to edification, which were in wide circulation,
and had been quoted by earlier Fathers. It is in no way surprising that,
some two centuries and a half after the martyrdom, he should quietly
have accepted the representations of the Epistles purporting to have


written by the martyr himself, and that their story should have shaped
the prevailing tradition.

The remains of Ignatius, as we are informed by Chrysostom and Jerome,
long remained interred in the cemetery of Antioch, but finally,--in the
time of Theodosius, it is said,--were translated with great pomp
and ceremony to a building which,--such is the irony of events,--had
previously been a Temple of Fortune. The story told, of course, is that
the relics of the martyr had been carefully collected in the Coliseum
and carried from Rome to Antioch. After reposing there for some
centuries, the relics, which are said to have been transported from Rome
to Antioch, were, about the seventh century, carried back from Antioch
to Rome.(1) The natural and more simple conclusion is that, instead of
this double translation, the bones of Ignatius had always remained in
Antioch, where he had suffered martyrdom, and the tradition that
they had been brought back from Rome was merely the explanation which
reconciled the fact of their actually being in Antioch with the legend
of the Ignatian Epistles.

The 20th of December is the date assigned to the death of Ignatius
in the Martyrology,(2) and Zahn admits that this interpretation is
undeniable.(3) Moreover, the anniversary of his death was celebrated
on that day in the Greek Churches and throughout the East. In the Latin
Church it is kept on the 1st of February. There can be little doubt that
this was the day of the translation of the relics to Rome, and this was
evidently the

     1 I need not refer to the statement of Nicephorus that these
     relics were first brought from Rome to Constantinople and
     afterwards translated to Antioch.


view of Ruinart, who, although he could not positively contradict the
views of his own Church, says: "Ignatii festum Graeci vigesima die
mensis Decembris celebrant, quo ipsum passum fuisse Acta testantur;
Latini vero die prima Februarii, an ob aliquam sacrarum ejus
reli-quiarum translationem? plures enim fuisse constat."(1) Zahn(2)
states that the Feast of the translation in later calendars was
celebrated on the 29th January, and he points out the evident ignorance
which prevailed in the West regarding Ignatius.(3)

On the one hand, therefore, all the historical data which we possess
regarding the reign and character of Trajan discredit the story that
Ignatius was sent to Rme to be exposed to beasts in the Coliseum; and
all the positive evidence which exists, independent of the Epistles
themselves, tends to establish the fact that he suffered martyrdom in
Antioch itself. On the other hand, all the evidence which is offered
for the statement that Ignatius was sent to Rme is more or less directly
based upon the representations of the letters, the authenticity of which
is in discussion, and it is surrounded with improbabilities of every
kind. And what is the value of any evidence emanating from the Ignatian
Epistles and martyrologies? There are three martyrologies which, as
Ewald says, are "the one more fabulous than the other." There are
fifteen Epistles all equally purporting to be by


Ignatius, and most of them handed down together in MSS., without any
distinction. Three of these, in Latin only, are universally rejected, as
are also other five Epistles, of which there are Greek, Latin, and other
versions. Of the remaining seven there are two forms, one called the
Long Recension and another shorter, known as the Vossian Epistles. The
former is almost unanimously rejected as shamefully interpolated and
falsified; and a majority of critics assert that the text of the Vossian
Epistles is likewise very impure. Besides these there is a still shorter
version of three Epistles only, the Cure-tonian, which many able critics
declare to be the only genuine letters of Ignatius, whilst a still
greater number, both from internal and external reasons, deny the
authenticity of the Epistles in any form. The second and third centuries
teem with pseudonymic literature, but I venture to say that pious fraud
has never been more busy and conspicuous than in dealing with the Martyr
of Antioch. The mere statement of the simple and acknowledged facts
regarding the Ignatian Epistles is ample justification of the assertion,
which so mightily offends Dr. Lightfoot, that "the whole of the Ignatian
literature is a mass of falsification and fraud." Even my indignant
critic himself has not ventured to use as genuine more than the three
short Syriac letters(1) out of this mass of forgery which he rebukes me
for holding so cheap. Documents which lie under such grave and permanent
suspicion cannot prove anything. As I have shown, however, the Vossian
Epistles, whatever the value of their testimony, so far from supporting
the claims advanced in favour of our Gospels, rather discredit them.


I have now minutely followed Professor Lightfoot and Dr. Westcott in
their attacks upon me in connection with Eusebius and the Ignatian
Epistles, and I trust that I have shown once for all that the charges
of "misrepresentation" and "misstatement" so lightly and liberally
advanced, far from being well-founded, recoil upon themselves. It is
impossible in a work like this, dealing with such voluminous materials,
to escape errors of detail, as both of these gentlemen bear witness, but
I have at least conscientiously endeavoured to be fair, and I venture
to think that few writers have ever more fully laid before readers the
actual means of judging of the accuracy of every statement which has
been made.

Before closing, I must say a few words regarding another of my critics,
who is, however, of a very different order. My system of criticism is
naturally uncongenial to Mr. Matthew Arnold, but while he says so with
characteristic vigour, he likewise speaks of this work with equally
characteristic generosity, and I cordially thank him. I could only be
classed by mistake amongst the "objectors" to "Literature and Dogma,"
and however different may be the procedure in "Supernatural Religion,"
there is fundamental agreement between the two works, and the one may be
considered the complement of the other. Some one must do the "pounding,"
if religion is to be a matter of belief and not of mere shifty opinion.
We really address two distinct classes of readers. The reader who "has
read _and accepted_" Mr. Matthew Arnold's "half dozen lines about the
composition of the Gospels," and his "half dozen pages about miracles,"
may in one sense be "just in the same position as when he has read "the
whole of this work,(1) but


I have written for those who do not accept them, and who,--as I think
rightly,--distrust the conclusions merely forced upon them by ordinary
"reflection and experience," and in such important matters demand
evidence of a much more tangible kind. I would put it to Mr. Arnold
whether, in seeming to depreciate any attempt to systematize and carry
to logical conclusions the whole argument regarding the reality of
Miracles and Divine Revelation, he does not do himself injustice, and
enunciate a dangerous doctrine. No doubt his own clear insight and wide
culture have enabled him to discern truth more surely, and with
less apparent effort, than most of those whom he addresses, but in
encouraging, as he thus practically does, the adoption by others
of religious views with very little trouble or thought, which have
certainly cost himself years of training and study, he both cheapens his
own intellectual labour, and advocates a superficiality which already
has too many attractions. Whether he address readers whose belief is
already established, or those who are ready to accept it second hand
from himself, it seems to me that no work should be unwelcome which
supplies evidence of the results, which it has suited his own immediate
purpose merely to assume.

Mr. Matthew Arnold objects that my book leaves the reader "with the
feeling that the Bible stands before him like a fair tree all stripped,
torn and defaced, not at all like a tree whose leaves are for the
healing of the nations,"(1) but if this be the case, I submit that it
is a necessary process through which the Bible must go, before it can
be successfully transplanted into that healthy soil, in which alone its
leaves can truly be for the 44 Contemporary Boviow," October, 1874, p.


healing of any one. Under such circumstances, destructive must precede
constructive criticism. It is only when we clearly recognize that the
Bible is not the "word of God" that we can worthily honour and "enjoy"
it as the word of Man. Mr. Matthew Arnold finely says, with regard
to what Jesus said and did, that: "his reporters were incapable of
rendering it, he was so much above them"; and he rightly considers that
the governing idea of our criticism of the four Evangelists should be
"to make out what in their report of Jesus, is Jesus, and what is the
reporters." I hold, however, that it is only after such an examination
as I have endeavoured to carry out, and which for the time must seem
hard and wanting in sympathetic appreciation, that most persons educated
in Christendom can rightly put any such governing idea into practice. It
is only when we are entitled to reject the theory of miraculous Divine
Revelation that the Bible attains its full beauty, losing the blots
and anomalies which it presented in its former character, and acquiring
wondrous significance as the expression of the hopes and aspirations of
humanity, from which every man may learn wisdom and derive inspiration.
The value of such a Book seems to me indestructible. I heartily
sympathise with Mr. Arnold's desire to secure due appreciation for the
venerable volume, of the beauty of which he has so fine and delicate a
perception. A truer insight into its meaning may certainly be imparted
by such eloquent and appreciating criticism, and no one is a better
judge than Mr. Matthew Arnold of the necessity to plead for the Book,
with those who are inclined thoughtlessly to reject it along with the
errors which have grown with and been based upon it. But, in the end,
every man who


has a mind and a heart must love and honour the Bible, and he who has
neither is beyond the reach of persuasion.

This work has been revised throughout.(1) It was, as I stated at
the time, originally carried through the press under very great
difficulties, and the revision of details, upon which I had counted, was
not only prevented, but, beyond a careful revision of the First Part
for the second edition, circumstances have until now even prevented my
seriously reading through the work since it has been in print. To those
who have been good enough to call my attention to errors, or to suggest
improvements, I return very sincere thanks. In making this revision I
have endeavoured to modify unimportant points, in some of which I
have been misunderstood, so as to avoid as far as possible raising
difficulties, or inviting discussion without real bearing upon the main
argument. As I know the alacrity with which some critics seize upon
such points as serious concessions, I beg leave to say that I have not
altered anything from change of opinion. I trust that greater clearness
and accuracy may have been secured.

March 15th, 1875.

     1 It is right to mention that, whilst I have examined a
     great many of the references, I have not had time to verify
     them all.


The present work is the result of many years of earnest and serious
investigation, undertaken in the first instance for the regulation
of personal belief, and now published as a contribution towards the
establishment of Truth in the minds of others who are seeking for it.
The author's main object has been conscientiously and fully to state the
facts of the case, to make no assertions the grounds for which are not
clearly given, and as far as possible to place before the reader the
materials from which a judgment may be intelligently formed regarding
the important subject discussed.

The great Teacher is reported to have said: "Be ye approved
money-changers," wisely discerning the gold of Truth, and no man need
hesitate honestly to test its reality, and unflinchingly to reject base
counterfeits. It is obvious that the most indispensable requisite in
regard to Religion is that it should be true. No specious hopes or
flattering promises can have the slightest value unless they be
genuine and based upon substantial realities. Fear of the results of
investigation, therefore, should deter no man, for the issue in any case
is gain: emancipation from delusion, or increase of assurance. It is
poor honour to sequester a creed from healthy handling, or to shrink
from the serious examination of its doctrines. That which is true in
Religion cannot be shaken; that which is false no one can desire to



The Author has taken advantage of the issue of a second edition to
revise this work. He has re-written portions of the first part, and
otherwise re-arranged it. He hopes that the argument has thus been made
more clear and consecutive.


Theoretically, the duty of adequate inquiry into the truth of any
statement of serious importance before believing it is universally
admitted. Practically, no duty is more universally neglected. This is
more especially the case in regard to Religion, in which our concern is
so great, yet the credentials of which so few personally examine. The
difficulty of such an investigation and the inability of most men to
pursue it, whether from want of opportunity or want of knowledge, are no
doubt the chief reasons for this neglect; but another, and scarcely less
potent, obstacle has probably been the odium which has been attached
to any doubt regarding the dominant religion, as well as the serious,
though covert, discouragement of the Church to all critical examination
of the title-deeds of Christianity. The spirit of doubt, if not of
intelligent inquiry, has, however, of late years become too strong for
repression, and, at the present day, the pertinency of the question of a
German writer: "Are we still Christians?" receives unconscious


illustration from many a popular pulpit, and many a social discussion.

The prevalent characteristic of popular theology in England, at this
time, may be said to be a tendency to eliminate from Christianity, with
thoughtless dexterity, every supernatural element which does not quite
accord with current opinion, and yet to ignore the fact that, in so
doing, ecclesiastical Christianity has practically been altogether
abandoned. This tendency is fostered with profoundly illogical zeal by
many distinguished men within the Church itself, who endeavour to arrest
for a moment the pursuing wolves of doubt and unbelief which press upon
it, by practically throwing to them, scrap by scrap, the very doctrines
which constitute the claims of Christianity to be regarded as a Divine
Revelation at all. The moral Christianity which they hope to preserve,
noble though it be, has not one feature left to distinguish it as a
miraculously communicated religion.

Christianity itself distinctly pretends to be a direct Divine Revelation
of truths beyond the natural attainment of the human intellect. To
submit the doctrines thus revealed, therefore, to criticism, and to clip
and prune them down to the standard of human reason, whilst at the
same time their supernatural character is maintained, is an obvious
absurdity. Christianity must either be recognized to be a Divine
Revelation beyond man's criticism, and in that case its doctrines must
be received even though Reason cannot be satisfied, or the claims of
Christianity to be such a Divine Revelation must be disallowed, in which
case it becomes the legitimate subject of criticism like every other
human system. One or other of these alternatives must be adopted, but to


assert that Christianity is Divine, and yet to deal with it as human, is
illogical and wrong.

When we consider the vast importance of the interests involved,
therefore, it must be apparent that there can be no more urgent problem
for humanity to solve than the question: Is Christianity a supernatural
Divine Revelation or not? To this we may demand a clear and decisive
answer. The evidence must be of no uncertain character which can warrant
our abandoning the guidance of Reason, and blindly accepting doctrines
which, if not supernatural truths, must be rejected by the human
intellect as monstrous delusions. We propose in this work to seek a
conclusive answer to this momentous question.

It appears to us that at no time has such an investigation been more
requisite. The results of scientific inquiry and of Biblical criticism
have created wide-spread doubt regarding the most material part of
Christianity considered as a Divine Revelation. The mass of intelligent
men in England are halting between two opinions, and standing in what
seems to us the most unsatisfactory position conceivable: they abandon,
before a kind of vague and indefinite, if irresistible, conviction, some
of the most central supernatural doctrines of Christianity; they try to
spiritualize or dilute the rest into a form which does not shock their
reason; and yet they cling to the delusion, that they still retain the
consolation and the hope of truths which, if not divinely revealed, are
mere human speculation regarding matters beyond reason. They have, in
fact, as little warrant to abandon the one part as they have to retain
the other. They build their house upon the sand, and the waves which
have already carried away so much may any day engulf the rest. At the
same time, amid this general eclipse of faith, many


an earnest mind, eagerly seeking for truth, endures much bitter
pain,--unable to believe--unable freely to reject--and yet without the
means of securing any clear and intelligent reply to the inquiry: "What
is truth?" Any distinct assurance, whatever its nature, based upon solid
grounds, would be preferable to such a state of doubt and hesitation.
Once persuaded that we have attained truth, there can be no permanent
regret for vanished illusions.

We must, however, by careful and impartial investigation, acquire the
right to our belief, whatever it may be, and not float like a mere waif
into the nearest haven. Flippant unbelief is much worse than earnest
credulity. The time is ripe for arriving at a definite conviction as to
the character of Christianity. There is no lack of materials for a final
decision, although hitherto they have been beyond the reach of most
English readers, and a careful and honest examination of the subject,
even if it be not final, cannot fail to contribute towards a result more
satisfactory than the generally vague and illogical religious opinion
of the present day. Even true conclusions which are arrived at either
accidentally or by wrong methods are dangerous. The current which by
good fortune led to-day to truth may to-morrow waft us to falsehood.
That such an investigation cannot, even at the present time, be carried
on in England without incurring much enmity and opposition need
scarcely be remarked, however loudly the duty and liberty of inquiry be
theoretically proclaimed, and the reason is obvious.

If we look at the singular diversity of views entertained, not only with
regard to the doctrines, but also to the evidences, of Christianity, we
cannot but be struck by the helpless position in which Divine Revelation
is now placed.


Orthodox Christians at the present day may be divided into two broad
classes, one of which professes to base the Church upon the Bible, and
the other the Bible upon the Church. The one party assert that the Bible
is fully and absolutely inspired, that it contains God's revelation to
man, and that it is the only and sufficient ground for all religious
belief; and they maintain that its authenticity is proved by the most
ample and irrefragable external as well as internal evidence. What then
must be the feeling of any ordinary mind on hearing, on the other
hand, that men of undoubted piety and learning, as well as unquestioned
orthodoxy, within the Church of England, admit that the Bible is totally
without literary or historical evidence, and cannot for a moment be
upheld upon any such grounds as the revealed word of God; that none of
the great doctrines of ecclesiastical Christianity can be deduced
from the Bible alone;(1) and that, "if it be impossible to accept
the literary method of dealing with Holy Scripture, the usual mode of
arguing the truth of Revelation, _ab extra_, merely from what are called
'Evidences'--whether of Miracles done or Prophecies uttered thousands of
years ago,--must also be insufficient."?(2) It cannot be much comfort
to be assured by them that, notwithstanding this absence of external
and internal evidence, this Revelation stands upon the sure basis of the
inspiration of a Church, which has so little ground in history for any
claim to infallibility. The unsupported testimony of a Church which in
every age has vehemently maintained errors and denounced truths which
are now universally recognized is no


sufficient guarantee of Divine Revelation. Obviously, there is no ground
for accepting from a fallible Church and fallacious tradition doctrines
which, avowedly, are beyond the criterion of reason, and therefore
require miraculous evidence.

With belief based upon such uncertain grounds, and with such vital
difference of views regarding evidence, it is not surprising that
ecclesiastical Christianity has felt its own weakness, and entrenched
itself against the assaults of investigation. It is not strange that
intellectual vigour in any direction should, almost unconsciously, have
been regarded as dangerous to the repose and authority of the Church,
and that, instead of being welcomed as a virtue, religious inquiry
has almost been repelled as a crime. Such inquiry, however, cannot be
suppressed. Mere scientific questions may be regarded with apathy by
those who do not feel their personal bearing. It may possibly seem
to some a matter of little practical importance to them to determine
whether the earth revolves round the sun, or the sun round the earth;
but no earnest mind can fail to perceive the immense personal importance
of Truth in regard to Religion--the necessity of investigating, before
accepting, dogmas, the right interpretation of which is represented as
necessary to salvation,--and the clear duty, before abandoning reason
for faith, to exercise reason, in order that faith may not be mere
credulity. As Bacon remarked, the injunction: "Hold fast that which is
good," must always be preceded by the maxim: "Prove all things." Even
Archbishop Trench has said: "Credulity is as real, if not so great, a
sin as unbelief," applying the observation to the duty of demanding a
"sign" from any one professing to be the utterer of a revelation: "Else
might he lightly


be persuaded to receive that as from God, which, indeed, was only the
word of man."(1) The acceptance of any revelation or dogma, however
apparently true in itself, without "sign"--without evidence satisfying
the reason, is absolute credulity. Even the most thorough advocate of
Faith must recognise that reason must be its basis, and that faith can
only legitimately commence where reason fails. The appeal is first to
reason if afterwards to faith, and no man pretending to intellectual
conscience can overlook the primary claim of reason. If it is to be
more than a mere question of priority of presentation whether we are
to accept Buddhism, Christianity, or Mahometanism, we must strictly and
fearlessly examine the evidence upon which they profess to stand. The
neglect of examination can never advance truth, as the severest scrutiny
can never retard it, but belief without discrimination can only foster
ignorance and superstition.

It was in this conviction that the following inquiry into the reality
of Divine Revelation was originally undertaken, and that others should
enter upon it. An able writer, who will not be suspected of exaggeration
on this subject, has said: "The majority of mankind, perhaps, owe their
belief rather to the outward influence of custom and education, than to
any strong principle of faith within; and it is to be feared that many
if they came to perceive how wonderful what they believed was, would
not find their belief so easy, and so matter-of-course a thing as they
appear to find it."(2) To no earnest mind can such inquiry be otherwise
than a serious and often a


painful task, but, dismissing preconceived ideas and preferences derived
from habit and education, and seeking only the Truth, holding it,
whatever it may be, to be the only object worthy of desire, or capable
of satisfying a rational mind, the quest cannot but end in peace and
satisfaction. In such an investigation, however, to quote words of
Archbishop Whately: "It makes all the difference in the world whether
we place Truth in the first place or in the second place."--for if Truth
acquired do not compensate for every pet illusion dispelled, the path is
thorny indeed, although it must still be faithfully trodden.




At the very outset of inquiry into the origin and true character
of Christianity we are brought face to face with the Supernatural.
Christianity professes to be a Divine Revelation of truths which the
human intellect could not otherwise have discovered. It is not a form of
religion developed by the wisdom of man and appealing to his reason,
but a system miraculously communicated to the human race, the central
doctrines of which are either superhuman or untenable. If the truths
said to be revealed were either of an ordinary character or naturally
attainable they would at once discredit the claim to a Divine origin.
No one could maintain that a system discoverable by Reason would be
supernaturally communicated. The whole argument for Christianity turns
upon the necessity of such a Revelation and the consequent probability
that it would be made.


There is nothing singular, it may be remarked, in the claim of
Christianity to be a direct Revelation from God. With the exception
of the religions of Greece and Rome, which, however, also had their
subsidiary supposition of divine inspiration, there has scarcely been
any system of Religion which has not been proclaimed to the world as
a direct divine communication. Long before Christianity claimed this
character, the religions of India had anticipated the idea. To quote the
words of an accomplished scholar:--"According to the orthodox views of
Indian theologians, not a single line of the Veda was the work of human
authors. The whole Veda is in some way or other the work of the Deity;
and even those who received it were not supposed to be ordinary mortals,
but beings raised above the level of common humanity, and less liable,
therefore, to error in the reception of revealed truth."(1) The same
origin is claimed for the religion of Zoroaster, whose doctrines, beyond
doubt, exercised great influence at least upon later Jewish theology,
and whose Magian followers are appropriately introduced beside the
cradle of Jesus, as the first to do honour to the birth of Christianity.
In the same way Mahomet announced his religion as directly communicated
from heaven.

Christianity, however, as a religion professing to be divinely revealed,
is not only supernatural in origin and doctrine, but its claim to
acceptance is necessarily based upon supernatural evidence; for it is
obvious that truths which require to be miraculously communicated do
not come within the range of our intellect, and cannot, therefore, be
intelligently received upon internal testimony. "And, certainly," says
a recent able Bampton Lecturer, "if it was the will of God to give a
revelation, there are


plain and obvious reasons for asserting that miracles are necessary as
the guarantee and voucher for that revelation. A revelation is, properly
speaking, such only by virtue of telling us something which we could not
know without it. But how do we know that that communication of what
is undiscoverable by human reason is true? Our reason cannot prove the
truth of it, for it is by the very supposition beyond our reason. There
must be, then, some note or sign to certify to it and distinguish it
as a true communication from God, which note can be nothing else than a
miracle."(1) In another place the same Lecturer stigmatizes the belief
of the Mahometan "as in its very principle irrational," because he
accepts the account which Mahomet gave of himself, without supernatural
evidence.(2) The belief of the Christian is contrasted with it as
rational, "because the Christian believes in a supernatural
dispensation upon the proper evidence of such a dispensation, viz., the
miraculous."(3) Mahomet is reproached with having "an utterly barbarous
idea of evidence, and a total miscalculation of the claims of reason,"
because he did not consider miraculous evidence necessary to attest a
supernatural dispensation;" whereas the Gospel is adapted to perpetuity
for this cause especially, with others, that it was founded upon a true
calculation, and a foresight of the permanent need of evidence; our Lord
admitting the inadequacy of His own mere word, and the necessity of
a rational guarantee to His revelation of His own nature and


The spontaneous offer of miraculous evidence, indeed, has always
been advanced as a special characteristic of Christianity, logically
entitling it to acceptance in contradistinction to all other religions.
"It is an acknowledged historical fact," says Bishop Butler, "that
Christianity offered itself to the world, and demanded to be received,
upon the allegation, i. e,, as unbelievers would speak, upon the
pretence, of miracles, publicly wrought to attest the truth of it in
such an age;... and Christianity, including the dispensation of the Old
Testament, seems distinguished by this from all other religions."(1)

Most of the great English divines have clearly recognized and asserted
the necessity of supernatural evidence to establish the reality of
a supernatural revelation. Bishop Butler affirms miracles and the
completion of prophecy to be the "direct and fundamental proofs" of
Christianity.(2) Elsewhere he says: "The notion of a miracle, considered
as a proof of a divine mission, has been stated with great exactness by
divines, and is, I think, sufficiently understood by every one. There
are also invisible miracles, the Incarnation of Christ, for instance,
which, being secret, cannot be alleged as a proof of such a mission; but
require themselves to be proved by visible miracles. Revelation itself,
too, is miraculous; and miracles are the proof of it."(3) Paley states
the case with equal clearness: "In what way can a revelation be made but
by miracles? In none which we are able to conceive."(4) His argument in
fact is founded upon the principle that: "nothing but miracles


could decide the authority" of Christianity.(1) In another work he
asserts that no man can prove a future retribution, but the teacher
"who testifies by miracles that his doctrine comes from God."(2) Bishop
Atterbury, again, referring to the principal doctrines of ecclesiastical
Christianity, says: "It is this kind of Truth that God is properly said
to reveal; Truths, of which, unless revealed, we should have always
continued ignorant; and 'tis in order only to prove these Truths to have
been really revealed, that we affirm Miracles to be Necessary."(3)

Dr. Heurtley, the Margaret Professor of Divinity in the University of
Oxford, after pointing out that the doctrines taught as the Christian
Revelation are such as could not by any possibility have been attained
by the unassisted human reason, and that, consequently, it is reasonable
that they should be attested by miracles, continues: "Indeed, it seems
inconceivable how without miracles--including prophecy in the notion
of a miracle--it could sufficiently have commended itself to men's
belief? Who would believe, or would be justified in believing, the
great facts which constitute its substance on the _ipse dixit_ of an
unaccredited teacher? and how, except by miracles, could the first
teacher be accredited? Paley, then, was fully warranted in the
assertion.... that 'we cannot conceive a revelation'--such a revelation
of course as Christianity professes to be, a revelation of truths which
transcend man's ability to discover,--' to be


substantiated without miracles.' Other credentials, it is true, might
be exhibited _in addition_ to miracles,--and such it would be natural
to look for,--but it seems impossible that miracles could be dispensed
with."(1) Dr. Mansel, the late Dean of St. Paul's, bears similar
testimony: "A teacher who proclaims himself to be specially sent by God,
and whose teaching is to be received on the authority of that mission,
must, from the nature of the case, establish his claim by proofs
of another kind than those which merely evince his human wisdom or
goodness. A superhuman authority needs to be substantiated by superhuman
evidence; and what is superhuman is miraculous."(2)

Dr. J. H. Newman, in discussing the idea and scope of miracles, says: "A
Revelation, that is, a direct message from God to man, itself bears in
some degree a miraculous character;... And as a Revelation itself, so
again the evidences of a Revelation may all more or less be considered
miraculous.... It might even be said that, strictly speaking, no
evidence of a Revelation is conceivable which does not partake of the
character of a Miracle; since nothing but a display of power over the
existing system of things can attest the immediate presence of Him by
whom it was originally established."(3)

Dr. Mozley has stated in still stronger terms the necessity that
Christianity should be authenticated by the evidence of miracles. He
supposes the case that a person of evident integrity and loftiness of
character had appeared, eighteen centuries ago, announcing himself as
pre-existent from all eternity, the Son of God, Maker


of the world, who had come down from heaven and assumed the form and
nature of man in order to be the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins
of the world, and so on, enumerating other doctrines of Christianity.
Dr. Mozley then asks: "What would be the inevitable conclusion of sober
reason respecting that person? The necessary conclusion of sober
reason respecting that person would be that he was disordered in his
understanding... By no rational being could a just and benevolent life
be accepted as proof of such astonishing announcements. Miracles are the
necessary complement, then, of the truth of such announcements, which,
without them, are purposeless and abortive, the unfinished fragments of
a design which is nothing unless it is the whole. They are necessary to
the justification of such announcements, which indeed, unless they
are supernatural truths, are the wildest delusions."(1) He, therefore,
concludes that: "Christianity cannot be maintained as a revelation
undiscoverable by human reason, a revelation of a supernatural scheme
for man's salvation, without the evidence of miracles."(2)

In all points, Christianity is emphatically a Supernatural Religion
claiming to be divine in its origin, superhuman in its essence and
miraculous in its evidence. It cannot be accepted without an absolute
belief in Miracles, and those who profess to hold the religion whilst
they discredit its supernatural elements--and they are many at the
present day--have widely seceded from ecclesiastical Christianity.
Miracles, it is true, are external to Christianity in so far as they
are evidential, but inasmuch as it is admitted that miracles alone can
attest the reality of Divine Revelation they are still inseparable


from it; and as the contents of the Revelation are so to say more
miraculous than its attesting miracles, the supernatural enters into the
very substance of Christianity and cannot be eliminated. It is obvious,
therefore, that the reality of miracles is the vital point in the
investigation which we have undertaken. If the reality of miracles
cannot be established, Christianity loses the only evidence by which
its truth can be sufficiently attested. If miracles be incredible the
supernatural Revelation and its miraculous evidence must together be

This fact is thoroughly recognized by the ablest Christian divines. Dean
Mansel, speaking of the position of miracles in regard to Christianity,
says: "The question, however, assumes a very different character when it
relates, not to the comparative importance of miracles as evidences, but
to their reality as facts, and as facts of a supernatural kind. For if
this is denied, the denial does not merely remove one of the supports of
a faith which may yet rest securely on other grounds. On the contrary,
the whole system of Christian belief with its evidences... all
Christianity in short, so far as it has any title to that name, so far
as it has any special relation to the person or the teaching of Christ,
is overthrown at the same time."(1) A little further on he says: "If
there be one fact recorded in Scripture which is entitled, in the
fullest sense of the word, to the name of a Miracle, the Resurrection of
Christ is that fact. Here, at least, is an instance in which the
entire Christian faith must stand or fall with our belief in the
supernatural."(2) He, therefore, properly repudiates the view, "which
represents the question of the possibility


of miracles as one which merely affects the _external accessories_
of Christianity, leaving the _essential doctrines_ untouched."(1) Dr.
Mozley in a similar manner argues the inseparable union of miracles
with the Christian faith. "Indeed not only are miracles _conjoined_ with
doctrine in Christianity, but miracles are inserted _in_ the doctrine
and are part of its contents. A man cannot state his belief as a
Christian in the terms of the Apostles' Creed without asserting them.
Can the doctrine of our Lord's Incarnation be disjoined from one
physical miracle? Can the doctrine of His justification of us and
intercession for us, be disjoined from another?... If a miracle is
incorporated as an article in a creed, that article of the creed, the
miracle, and the proof of it by a miracle, are all one thing. The great
miracles, therefore, upon the evidence of which the Christian scheme
rested, being thus inserted in the Christian Creed, the belief in the
Creed was of itself the belief in the miraculous evidence of it.... Thus
miracles and the supernatural contents of Christianity must stand or
fall together."(2) Dr. Heurtley, referring to the discussion of the
reality of miracles, exclaims: "It is not too much to say, therefore,
that the question is vital as regards Christianity."(3) Canon Westcott
not less emphatically makes the same statement. "It is evident," he
says, "that if the claim to be a miraculous religion is essentially
incredible apostolic Christianity is simply false.... The essence of
Christianity lies in a miracle; and if it can be shown that a miracle is
either impossible or incredible, all further inquiry into the details of
its history is superfluous


in a religious point of view."(1) Similarly, a recent Hulsean lecturer,
Dr. Farrar, has said: "However skilfully the modern ingenuity of
semi-belief may have tampered with supernatural interpositions, it is
clear to every honest and unsophisticated mind that, if miracles be
incredible, Christianity is false. If Christ wrought no miracles,
then the Gospels are untrustworthy;... If the Resurrection be merely
a spiritual idea, or a mythicized hallucination, then our religion has
been founded on an error...." (2)

It has been necessary clearly to point out this indissoluble connection
between ecclesiastical Christianity and the supernatural, in order
that the paramount importance of the question as to the credibility of
miracles should be duly appreciated. Our inquiry into the reality
of Divine Revelation, then, whether we consider its contents or its
evidence, practically reduces itself to the very simple issue: Are
miracles antecedently credible? Did they ever really take place? We do
not intend to confine ourselves merely to a discussion of the abstract
question, but shall also endeavour to form a correct estimate of the
value of the specific allegations which are advanced.


Having then ascertained that miracles are absolutely necessary to attest
the reality of Divine Revelation we may proceed to examine them
more closely, and for the present we shall confine ourselves to the
representations of these phenomena which are given in the Bible.
Throughout the Old Testament the doctrine is inculcated


that supernatural communications must have supernatural attestation. God
is described as arming his servants with power to perform wonders, in
order that they may thus be accredited as his special messengers.
The Patriarchs and the people of Israel generally are represented as
demanding "a sign" of the reality of communications said to come from
God, without which, we are led to suppose, they not only would not
have believed, but would have been justified in disbelieving, that the
message actually came from him. Thus Gideon(1) asks for a sign that
the Lord talked with him, and Hezekiah(2) demands proof of the truth of
Isaiah's prophecy that he should be restored to health. It is, however,
unnecessary to refer to instances, for it may be affirmed that upon all
occasions miraculous evidence of an alleged divine mission is stated to
have been required and accorded.

The startling information is at the same time given, however, that
miracles may be wrought to attest what is false as well as to accredit
what is true. In one place,(3) it is declared that if a prophet actually
gives a sign or wonder and it comes to pass, but teaches the people,
on the strength of it, to follow other gods, they are not to hearken
to him, and the prophet is to be put to death. The false miracle is,
here,(4) attributed to God himself: "For the Lord your God proveth you,
to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with
all your soul." In the book of the Prophet Ezekiel, the case is stated
in a still stronger way, and God is represented as directly deceiving
the prophet: "And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a
thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will


stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my
people Israel."(1) God, in fact, is represented as exerting his almighty
power to deceive a man and then as destroying him for being deceived. In
the same spirit is the passage(2) in which Micaiah describes the Lord as
putting a lying spirit into the mouths of the prophets who incited Ahab
to go to Ramoth-Gilead. Elsewhere,(3) and notably in the New Testament,
we find an ascription of real signs and wonders to another power than
God. Jesus himself is represented as warning his disciples against false
prophets, who work signs and wonders: "Many will say to me in that day,
Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out
devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" of whom he should
say: "I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity."(4) And
again in another place: "For false prophets shall arise, and shall
work signs and wonders [--Greek--] to seduce, if it were possible, the
elect."(5) Also, when the Pharisees accuse him of casting out devils
by Beelzebub the prince of the devils, Jesus asks: "By whom do your
children cast them out?"(6) a reply which would lose all its point if
they were not admitted to be able to cast out devils. In another passage
John is described as saying: "Master, we saw one casting out devils
in thy name, who followeth not us, and we forbad him."(7) Without
multiplying instances, however, there can be no doubt of the fact


that the reality of false miracles and lying wonders is admitted in the

The obvious deduction from this representation of miracles is that
the source and purpose of such supernatural phenomena must always
be exceedingly uncertain.(1) Their evidential value is, therefore,
profoundly affected, "it being," as Dr. Newman has said of ambiguous
miracles, "antecedently improbable that the Almighty should rest the
credit of His Revelation upon events which but obscurely implied His
immediate presence."(2) As it is affirmed that other supernatural beings
exist, as well as an assumed Personal God, by whose agency miracles are
performed, it is impossible to argue with reason that such phenomena are
at any time specially due to the intervention of the Deity. Dr. Newman
recognizes this, but passes over the difficulty with masterly lightness
of touch. After advancing the singular argument that our knowledge of
spirits is only derived from Scripture, and that their existence cannot
be deduced from nature, whilst he asserts that the being of a God--a
Personal God be it remembered--can be so discovered, and that,
therefore, miracles can only properly be attributed to him, he proceeds:
"Still it may be necessary to show that on our own principles we are
not open to inconsistency. That is, it has been questioned whether,
in admitting the existence and power of Spirits on the authority of
Revelation, we are not in danger of


invalidating the evidence upon which that authority rests. For the
cogency of the argument for Miracles depends on the assumption, that
interruptions in the course of nature must ultimately proceed from God;
which is not true, if they may be effected by other beings without His
sanction. And it must be conceded, that, explicit as Scripture is in
considering Miracles as signs of divine agency, it still does seem to
give created Spirits some power of working them; and even, in its
most literal sense, intimates the possibility of their working them in
opposition to the true doctrine. (Deut. xiii. 1-3; Matt. xxiv. 24; 2
Thess. ii. 9-ll.)"(1) Dr. Newman repudiates the attempts of various
writers to overcome this difficulty by making a distinction between
great miracles and small, many miracles and few, or by referring to the
nature of the doctrine attested in order to determine the author of the
miracle, or by denying the power of spirits altogether, and explaining
away Scripture statements of demoniacal possession and the narrative
of the Lord's Temptation. "Without having recourse to any of these
dangerous modes of answering the objection," he says, "it may be
sufficient to reply, that, since, agreeably to the antecedent sentiment
of reason, God has adopted miracles as the seal of a divine message, we
believe He will never suffer them to be so counterfeited as to deceive
the humble inquirer."(2) This is the only reply which even so powerful
a reasoner as Dr. Newman can give to an objection based on distinct
statements of Scripture itself. He cannot deny the validity of the
objection, he can only hope or believe in spite of it Personal belief
independent of evidence is the most common and the weakest of arguments;
at the


best it is prejudice masked in the garb of Reason. It is perfectly clear
that miracles being thus acknowledged to be common both to God and to
other spirits they cannot be considered a distinctive attestation of
divine intervention; and, as Spinoza finely argued, not even the mere
existence of God can be inferred from them; for as a miracle is a
limited act, and never expresses more than a certain and limited power,
it is certain that we cannot from such an effect, conclude even the
existence of a cause whose power is infinite.(1)

This dual character obviously leads to many difficulties in defining the
evidential function and force of miracles, and we may best appreciate
the dilemma which is involved by continuing to follow the statements and
arguments of divines themselves. To the question whether miracles are
absolutely to command the obedience of those in whose sight they
are performed, and whether, upon their attestation, the doer and his
doctrine are to be accepted as of God, Archbishop Trench unhesitatingly
replies: "It cannot be so, for side by side with the miracles which
serve for the furthering of the kingdom of God runs another line of
wonders, the counter-workings of him who is ever the ape of the Most
High."(2) The deduction is absolutely logical and cannot be denied.
"This fact," he says, "that the kingdom of lies has its wonders no less
than the kingdom of truth, is itself sufficient evidence that miracles
cannot be appealed


to absolutely and finally, in proof of the doctrine which the worker of
them proclaims." This being the case, it is important to discover how
miracles perform their function as the indispensable evidence for a
Divine Revelation, for with this disability they do not seem to possess
much potentiality. Archbishop Trench, then, offers the following
definition of the function of miracles: "A miracle does not prove the
truth of a doctrine, or the divine mission of him that brings it to
pass. That which alone it claims for him at the first is a right to be
listened to: it puts him in the alternative of being from heaven or from
hell. The doctrine must first commend itself to the conscience as being
_good_, and only then can the miracle seal it as _divine_. But the first
appeal is from the doctrine to the conscience, to the moral nature of
man."(1) Under certain circumstances, he maintains, their evidence
is utterly to be rejected. "But the purpose of the miracle," he says,
"being, as we have seen, to confirm that which is good, so, upon the
other hand, where the mind and conscience witness against the doctrine,
not all the miracles in the world have a right to demand submission to
the word which they seal. On the contrary, the great act of faith


is to believe, against, and in despite of them all, in what God has
revealed to, and implanted in the soul of the holy and the true; not to
believe another Gospel, though an Angel from heaven, or one transformed
into such, should bring it (Deut. xiii. 3; Gal. i. 8); and instead of
compelling assent, miracles are then rather warnings to us that we keep
aloof, for they tell us that not merely lies are here, for to that the
conscience bore witness already, but that he who utters them is more
than a common deceiver, is eminently 'a liar and an Anti-christ,'
a false prophet, --standing in more immediate connection than other
deceived and evil men to the kingdom of darkness, so that Satan has
given him his power (Rev. xiii. 2), is using him to be an especial
organ of his, and to do a special work for him."(1) And he lays down the
distinct principle that: "The miracle must witness for itself, and the
doctrine must witness for itself, and then, and then only, the first is
capable of witnessing for the second."(2)

These opinions are not peculiar to the Archbishop of Dublin, but are
generally held by divines, although Dr. Trench expresses them with
unusual absence of reserve. Dr. Mozley emphatically affirms the same
doctrine when he says: "A miracle cannot oblige us to accept any
doctrine which is contrary to our moral nature, or to a fundamental
principle of religion."(3) Dr. Mansel speaks to the same effect: "If a
teacher claiming to work miracles proclaims doctrines contradictory to
previously established truths, whether to the conclusions of natural
religion or to the teaching of a former revelation, such a contradiction
is allowed even by the most zealous defenders of the evidential value of
miracles, to


invalidate the authority of the teacher. But the right conclusion from
this admission is not that true miracles are invalid as evidences, but
that the supposed miracles in this case are not true miracles at all;
i. e., are not the effects of Divine power, but of human deception or
of some other agency."(1) A passage from a letter written by Dr. Arnold
which is quoted by Dr. Trench in support of his views, both illustrates
the doctrine and the necessity which has led to its adoption: "You
complain," says Dr. Arnold, writing to Dr. Hawkins, "of those persons
who judge of a revelation not by its evidence, but by its substance. It
has always seemed to me that its substance is a most essential part of
its evidence; and that miracles wrought in favour of what was foolish or
wicked would only prove Manicheism. We are so perfectly ignorant of the
unseen world, that the character of any supernatural power can only be
judged by the moral character of the statements which it sanctions.
Thus only can we tell whether it be a revelation from God or from the
Devil."(2) In another place Dr. Arnold declares: "Miracles must not be
allowed to overrule the Gospel; for it is only through our belief in the
Gospel that we accord our belief to them."(3)


It is obvious that the mutual dependence which is thus established
between miracles and the doctrines in connection with which they are
wrought destroys the evidential force of miracles, and that the first
and the final appeal is made to reason. The doctrine in fact proves the
miracle instead of the miracle attesting the doctrine. Divines of course
attempt to deny this, but no other deduction from their own statements
is logically possible. Miracles, according to Scripture itself, are
producible by various supernatural beings and may be Satanic as well as
Divine; man, on the other hand, is so ignorant of the unseen world that
avowedly he cannot, from the miracle itself, determine the agent by whom
it was performed;(l) the miracle, therefore, has no intrinsic evidential
value. How, then, according to divines, does it attain any potentiality?
Only through a favourable decision on the part of Reason or the "moral
nature in man" regarding the


character of the doctrine. The result of the appeal to Reason respecting
the morality and credibility of the doctrine determines the evidential
status of the miracle. The doctrine, therefore, is the real criterion
of the miracle which, without it, is necessarily an object of doubt and

We have already casually referred to Dr. Newman's view of such a
relation between Miracle and doctrine, but may here more fully quote his
suggestive remarks. "Others by referring to the nature of the doctrine
attested," he says, "in order to determine the author of the miracle,
have exposed themselves to the plausible charge of adducing, first the
miracle to attest the divinity of the doctrine, and then the doctrine to
prove the divinity of the Miracle."(1) This argument he characterizes as
one of the "dangerous modes" of removing a difficulty, although he does
not himself point out a safer, and, in a note, he adds: "There is an
appearance of doing honour to the Christian doctrines in representing
them as _intrinsically_ credible, which leads many into supporting
opinions which, carried to their full extent, supersede the need of
Miracles altogether. It must be recollected, too, that they who are
allowed to praise have the privilege of finding fault, and may reject,
according to their _á priori_ notions, as well as receive. Doubtless
the divinity of a clearly immoral doctrine could not be evidenced by
Miracles; for our belief in the moral attributes of God is much stronger
than our conviction of the negative proposition, that none but He can
interfere with the system of nature.(3) But there is always


the danger of extending this admission beyond its proper limits, of
supposing ourselves adequate judges of the _tendency_ of doctrines; and,
because unassisted Reason informs us what is moral and immoral in
our own case, of attempting to decide on the abstract morality of
actions;... These remarks are in nowise inconsistent with using (as
was done in a former section) our actual knowledge of God's attributes,
obtained from a survey of nature and human affairs, in determining the
probability of certain professed Miracles having proceeded from Him. It
is one thing to infer from the experience of life, another to imagine
the character of God from the gratuitous conceptions of our own
minds."(1) Although Dr. Newman apparently fails to perceive that he
himself thus makes reason the criterion of miracles and therefore incurs
the condemnation with which our quotation opens, the very indecision of
his argument illustrates the dilemma in which divines are placed. Dr.
Mozley, however, still more directly condemns the principle which we
are discussing--that the doctrine must be the criterion of the
miracle--although he also, as we have purposes for which it never was
intended, and is unfitted. To rationalise in matters of Revelation is to
make our reason the standard and measure of the doctrines revealed;
to stipulate that those doctrines should be such as to carry with them
their own justification; to reject them, if they come in collision with
our existing opinions or habits of thought, or are with difficulty
harmonised with our existing stock of knowledge" (Essays, Crit. and
Hist., 1872, vol. i. p. 31); and a little further on: "A like desire of
judging for one's self is discernible in the original fall of man. Eve
did not believe the Tempter any more than God's word, till she perceived
«the fruit was good for food '" (76., p. 33). Dr. Newman, of course,
wishes to limit his principle precisely to suit his own convenience,
but in permitting the rejection of a supposed Revelation in spite
of miracles, on the ground of our disapproval of its morality, it is
obvious that the doctrine is substantially made the final criterion of
the miracle.


seen, elsewhere substantially affirms it. He says: "The position that
the revelation proves the miracles, and not the miracles the revelation,
admits of a good qualified meaning; but taken literally, it is a double
offence against the rule, that things are properly proved by the proper
proof of them; for a supernatural fact _is_ the proper proof of a
supernatural doctrine; while a supernatural doctrine, on the other hand,
is certainly _not_ the proper proof of a supernatural fact"(1)

This statement is obviously true, but it is equally undeniable that,
their origin being uncertain, miracles have no distinctive evidential
force. How far, then, we may inquire in order thoroughly to understand
the position, can doctrines prove the reality of miracles or determine
the agency by which they are performed? In the case of moral truths
within the limits of reason, it is evident that doctrines which are
in accordance with our ideas of what is good and right do not require
miraculous evidence at all. They can secure acceptance by their own
merits alone. At the same time it is universally admitted that the
truth or goodness of a doctrine is in itself no proof that it emanates
directly from God, and consequently the most obvious wisdom and beauty
in the doctrine could not attest the divine origin of a miracle. Such
truths, however, have no proper connection with revelation at all.
"_These_ truths," to quote the words of Bishop Atterbury, "were of
themselves sufficiently obvious and plain, and needed not a Divine
Testimony to make them plainer. But the Truths which are necessary in
this Manner to be attested, are those which are of Positive Institution;
those, which if God had not pleased to reveal them, Human Reason could


have discovered; and those, which, even now they are revealed, Human
Reason cannot fully account for, and perfectly comprehend."(1) How is
it possible then that Reason or "the moral nature in man" can approve as
good, or appreciate the fitness of, doctrines which in their very nature
are beyond the criterion of reason?(2) What reply, for instance, can
reason give to any appeal to it regarding the doctrine of the Trinity
or of the Incarnation? If doctrines the truth and goodness of which
are apparent do not afford any evidence of Divine Revelation, how can
doctrines which Reason can neither discover nor comprehend attest the
Divine origin of miracles? Dr. Mozley clearly recognizes that they
cannot do so. "The proof of a revelation," he says, and we may add, "the
proof of a miracle--itself a species of revelation--which is contained
in the substance of a revelation has this inherent check or limit in it:
viz. that it cannot reach to what is undiscoverable by reason. Internal
evidence is itself an appeal to reason, because at every step the test
is our own appreciation of such and such an idea or doctrine, our own
perception of its fitness; but human reason cannot in the nature of
the case prove that which, by the very hypothesis, lies beyond human
reason."(3) It naturally follows that no doctrine which lies beyond
reason, and therefore requires the attestation of miracles, can possibly
afford that indication of the source and reality of miracles which is
necessary to endow them with evidential value, and the supernatural
doctrine must, therefore, be rejected in the absence of miraculous
evidence of a decisive character.


Canon Mozley labours earnestly, but unsuccessfully, to restore to
Miracles as evidence some part of that potentiality of which these
unfortunate limitations have deprived them. Whilst on the one hand he
says: "We must admit, indeed, an inherent modification in the function
of a miracle as an instrument of proof,"(1) he argues that this is only
a limitation, and no disproof of it, and he contends that: "The
evidence of miracles is not negatived because it has conditions."(2)
His reasoning, however, is purely apologetic, and attempts by the unreal
analogy of supposed limitations of natural principles and evidence to
excuse the disqualifying limitation of the supernatural. He is quite
conscious of the serious difficulty of the position: "The question," he
says, "may at first sight create a dilemma--If a miracle is nugatory on
the side of one doctrine, what cogency has it on the side of another? Is
it legitimate to accept its evidence when we please, and reject it when
we please?" The only reply he seems able to give to these very pertinent
questions is the remark which immediately follows them: "But in truth a
miracle is never without an argumentative force, although that force may
be counterbalanced."(3) In other words a miracle is always an argument
although it is often a bad one. It is scarcely necessary to go to the
supernatural for bad arguments.

It might naturally be expected that the miraculous evidence selected to
accredit a Divine Revelation should possess certain unique and marked
characteristics. It must, at least, be clearly distinctive of Divine
power, and exclusively associated with Divine truth. It is inconceivable
that the Deity, deigning thus to attest


the reality of a communication from himself of truths beyond the
criterion of reason, should not make the evidence simple and complete,
because, the doctrines proper to such a revelation not being appreciable
from internal evidence, it is obvious that the external testimony for
them--if it is to be of any use--must be unmistakable and decisive. The
evidence which is actually produced, however, so far from satisfying
these legitimate anticipations, lacks every one of the qualifications
which reason antecedently declares to be necessary. Miracles are not
distinctive of Divine power but are common to Satan, and they are
admitted to be performed in support of falsehood as well as in the
service of truth. They bear, indeed, so little upon them the impress
of their origin and true character, that they arc dependent for their
recognition upon our judgment of the very doctrines to attest which they
are said to have been designed.

Even taking the representation of miracles, therefore, which divines
themselves give, they are utterly incompetent to perform their
contemplated functions. If they are superhuman they are not
super-satanic, and there is no sense in which they can be considered
miraculously evidential of anything. To argue, as theologians do, that
the ambiguity of their testimony is deliberately intended as a trial
of our faith is absurd, for Reason being unable to judge of the nature
either of supernatural fact or supernatural doctrine, it would be mere
folly and injustice to subject to such a test beings avowedly incapable
of sustaining it. Whilst it is absolutely necessary, then, that a Divine
Revelation should be attested by miraculous evidence to justify our
believing it the testimony so called seems in all respects


unworthy of the name, and presents anomalies much more suggestive of
human invention than Divine originality. We are, in fact, prepared even
by the Scriptural account of miracles to expect that further examination
will supply an explanation of such phenomena which will wholly remove
them from the region of the supernatural.



Without at present touching the question as to their reality, it may be
well to ascertain what miracles are considered to be, and how far,
and in what sense it is asserted that they are supernatural We have,
hitherto, almost entirely confined our attention to the arguments of
English divines, and we must for the present continue chiefly to deal
with them, for it may broadly be said, that they alone, at the present
day, maintain the reality and supernatural character of such phenomena.
No thoughtful mind can fail to see that, considering the function
of miracles, this is the only logical and consistent course.(1)
The insuperable difficulties in the way of admitting the reality of
miracles, however, have driven the great majority of continental, as
well as very many English, theologians who still pretend to a certain
orthodoxy, either to explain the miracles of the Gospel naturally, or
to suppress them altogether. Since Schleiermacher denounced the idea
of Divine interruptions of the order of nature, and explained away the
supernatural character


of miracles, by defining them as merely relative: miracles to us, but in
reality mere anticipations of human knowledge and power, his example
has been more or less followed throughout Germany, and almost every
expedient has been adopted, by would-be orthodox writers, to reduce or
altogether eliminate the miraculous elements. The attempts which have
been made to do this, and yet to maintain the semblance of unshaken
belief in the main points of ecclesiastical Christianity, have
lamentably failed, from the hopeless nature of the task and the
fundamental error of the conception. The endeavour of Paulus and
his school to get rid of the supernatural by a bold naturalistic
interpretation of the language of the Gospel narratives, whilst the
credibility of the record was represented as intact, was too glaring
an outrage upon common sense to be successful, but it was scarcely more
illogical than subsequent efforts to suppress the miraculous, yet retain
the creed. The great majority of modern German critics, however, reject
the miraculous altogether, and consider the question as no longer worthy
of discussion, and most of those who have not distinctly expressed this
view either resort to every linguistic device to evade the difficulty,
or betray, by their hesitation, the feebleness of their belief.(1) In
dealing with the


question of miracles, therefore, it is not to Germany we must turn, but
to England, where their reality is still maintained.

Archbishop Trench rejects with disdain the attempts of Schleiermacher
and others to get rid of the miraculous elements of miracles, by making
them relative, which he rightly considers to be merely "a decently
veiled denial of the miracle altogether;"(1) and he will not accept
any reconciliation which sacrifices the miracle, "which," he logically
affirms, "is, in fact, no miracle, if it lay in nature already, if it
was only the evoking of forces latent therein, not a new thing, not the
bringing in of the novel powers of a higher world; if the mysterious
processes and powers by which those works were brought about had been
only undiscovered hitherto, and not undiscoverable, by the efforts of
human inquiry."(2) When Dr. Trench tries to define what he considers the
real character of miracles, however, he becomes, as might be expected,


voluminous and obscure. He says: "An extraordinary Divine casualty, and
not that ordinary which we acknowledge everywhere, and in everything,
belongs, then, to the essence of the miracle; powers of God other than
those which have always been working; such, indeed, as most seldom or
never have been working before. The unresting activity of God, which at
other times hides and conceals itself behind the veil of what we term
natural laws, does in the miracle unveil itself; it steps out from its
concealment, and the hand which works is laid bare. Beside and beyond
the ordinary operation of nature, higher powers (higher, not as coming
from a higher source, but as bearing upon higher ends) intrude and make
themselves felt even at the very springs and sources of her power."(1)
"Not, as we shall see the greatest theologians have always earnestly
contended, _contra_ naturam, but _præter_ naturam, and _supra_
naturam."(2) Further on he adds: "_Beyond_ nature, _beyond_ and _above_
the nature which we know, they are, but not _contrary_ to it."(3) Dr.
Newman, in a similar strain, though with greater directness, says: "The
miracles of Scripture are undeniably beyond nature;" and he explains
them as "wrought by persons consciously exercising, under Divine
guidance, a power committed to them for definite ends, professing to be
immediate messengers from heaven, and to be evidencing their mission by
their miracles."(4)

Miracles are here described as "beside," and "beyond," and "above"
nature, but a moment's consideration must


show that, in so far as these terms have any meaning at all, they are
simply evasions, not solutions, of a difficulty. Dr. Trench is quite
sensible of the danger in which the definition of miracles places
them, and how fatal to his argument is would be to admit that they are
contrary to the order of nature. "The miracle," he protests, "is
not thus _unnatural_; nor could it be such, since the unnatural,
the contrary to order, is of itself the ungodly, and can in no way,
therefore, be affirmed of a Divine work, such as that with which we
have to do."(1) The archbishop in this; however, is clearly arguing from
nature to miracles, and not from miracles to nature. He does not, of
course, know what miracles really are, but as he recognizes that the
order of nature must be maintained, he is forced to assert that miracles
are not contrary to nature. He repudiates the idea of their being
natural phenomena; and yet attempts to deny that they are unnatural.
They must either be the one or the other. The archbishop, besides;
forgets that he ascribes miracles to Satan as well as to God. Indeed,
that his distinction is purely imaginary, and inconsistent with the
alleged facts of Scriptural miracles, is apparent from Dr. Trench's own
illustrations; The whole argument is a mere quibble of words to evade
a palpable dilemma. Dr. Newman does not fall into this error, and more
boldly faces the difficulty. He admits that the Scripture miracles
"innovate upon the impressions which are made upon us by the order and
the laws of the natural world;"(2) and that "walking on the sea, or the
resurrection of the dead, is a plain reversal of its laws."(3)


Take, for instance, the multiplication of loaves and fishes. Five
thousand people are fed upon five barley loaves and two small fishes:
"and they took up of the fragments which remained twelve baskets
full."(1) Dr. Trench is forced to renounce all help in explaining this
miracle from natural analogies, and he admits: "We must simply behold
in the multiplying of the bread" (and fishes?)" an act of Divine
omnipotence on His part who was the Word of God,--not, indeed, now as
at the first, of absolute creation out of nothing, since there was a
substratum to work on in the original loaves and fishes, but an act of
creative accretion."(2) It will scarcely be argued by any one that
such an "act of Divine omnipotence" and "creative accretion" as this
multiplication of five baked loaves and two small fishes is not contrary
to the order of nature.(3) For Dr. Trench has himself pointed out that
there must be interposition of man's art here, and that "a grain of
wheat could never by itself, and according to the laws of natural
development, issue in a loaf of bread.(4)

Undaunted by, or rather unconscious of, such contradictions, the
archbishop proceeds with his argument, and with new definitions of the
miraculous. So far from being disorder of nature, he continues with
audacious precision: "the true miracle is a higher and a purer


nature coming down out of the world of untroubled harmonies into this
world of ours, which so many discords have jarred and disturbed, and
bringing this back again, though it be but for one mysterious prophetic
moment, into harmony with that higher."(1) In that "higher and purer
nature" can a grain of wheat issue in a loaf of bread? We have only to
apply this theory to the miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes
to perceive how completely it is the creation of Dr. Trench's poetical

These passages fairly illustrate the purely imaginary and arbitrary
nature of the definitions which those who maintain the reality and
supernatural character of miracles give of them. That explanation is
generally adopted which seems most convenient at the moment, and none
ever passes, or, indeed, ever can pass, beyond the limits of assumption.
The favourite hypothesis is that which ascribes miracles to the action
of unknown law. Archbishop Trench naturally adopts it: "We should see
in the miracle," he says, "not the infraction of a law, but the
neutralizing of a lower law, the suspension of it for a time by a
higher;" and he asks with indignation, whence we dare conclude that,
because we know of no powers sufficient to produce miracles, none exist.
"They exceed the laws of _our_ nature; but it does not therefore follow
that they exceed the laws of _all_ nature."(2) It is not easy


to follow the distinction here between "_our_ nature" and "_all
nature_," since the order of nature, by which miracles are judged, is,
so far as knowledge goes, universal, and we have no grounds for assuming
that there is any other.

The same hypothesis is elaborated by Dr. Mozley. Assuming the facts of
miracles, he proceeds to discuss the question of their "referribleness
to unknown law," in which expression he includes both "_unknown law_, or
unknown connexion with _known_ law."(1)

Taking first the supposition of (unknown) connection with known law, Dr.
Mozley argues that, as a law of nature, in the scientific sense, cannot
possibly produce single or isolated facts, it follows that no isolated
or exceptional event can come under a law of nature _by direct
observation_, but, if it comes under it at all, it can only do so by
some _explanation_, which takes it out of its isolation and joins it to
a class of facts, whose recurrence indeed constitutes the law. Now Dr.
Mozley admits that no explanation can be given by which miracles can
have an unknown connexion with known law. Taking the largest class of
miracles, bodily cures, the correspondence between a simple command
or prophetic notification and the cure is the chief characteristic of
miracles, and distinguishes them from mere marvels.


No violation of any law of nature takes place in either the cure or the
prophetic announcement taken separately, but the two, taken together,
are the proof of superhuman agency. Dr. Mozley concludes that no
physical hypothesis can be framed accounting for the superhuman
knowledge and power involved in this class of miracles, supposing the
miracles to stand as they are recorded in Scripture.(1)

Dr. Mozley then shifts the inquiry to the other and different question,
whether miracles may not be instances of laws which are as yet wholly
unknown.(2) This is generally called a question of "higher law," --that
is to say, a law which comprehends under itself two or more lower or
less wide laws. And the principle would be applicable to miracles by
supposing the existence of an unknown law, hereafter to be discovered,
under which miracles would come, and then considering whether this new
law of miracles, and the old law of common facts, might not both be
reducible to a still more general law which comprehended them both. Now
a law of nature, in the scientific sense, cannot exist without a class
of facts which comes under it, and in reality constitutes the law; but
Dr. Mozley of course recognizes that the discovery of such a law of
miracles would necessarily involve the discovery of fresh miracles, for
to talk of a law of miracles without miracles would be an absurdity.(3)
The supposition of the discovery of such a law of miracles, however,
would be tantamount to the supposition of a future new order of
nature, from which it immediately follows that the whole supposition is
irrelevant and futile as regards the present question.(4)


For no new order of things could make the present order different, and
a miracle, could we suppose it becoming the ordinary fact of another
different order of nature, would not be less a violation of the laws of
nature in the present one.(1) Dr. Mozley also rejects this explanation.

We pause here to remark that, throughout the whole inquiry into the
question of miracles, we meet with nothing from theologians but mere
assumptions, against which the invariability of the known order of
nature steadily opposes itself. The facts of the narrative of the
miracle are first assumed, and so are the theories by which it is
explained. Now, with regard to every theory which seeks to explain
miracles by assumption, we may quote words applied by one of the ablest
defenders of miracles to some conclusion of straw, which he placed in
the mouth of an imaginary antagonist in order that he might refute it:
"But the question is," said the late Dean of St. Paul's, "not whether
such a conclusion has been asserted, as many other absurdities have
been asserted, by the advocates of a theory, but whether it has been
established on such scientific grounds as to be entitled to the assent
of all duly cultivated minds, whatever their own consciences may say
to the contrary."(2) Divines are very strict in demanding absolute
demonstrations from men of science and others, but we do not find
them at all ready to furnish conclusions of similar accuracy regarding
dogmatic theology.

Immediately after his indignant demand for scientific accuracy of
demonstration, Dr. Mansel proceeds to argue as follows: In the will of
man we have the solitary instance of an efficient cause, in the highest
sense of the


term, acting among the physical causes of the material world, and
producing results which could not have been brought about by any mere
sequence of physical causes. If a man of his own will throw a stone into
the air, its motion, as soon as it has left his hand, is determined by
a combination of purely material laws; but by what _law_ came it to be
thrown at all? The law of gravitation, no doubt, remains constant and
unbroken, whether the stone is lying on the ground, or moving through
the air, but all the laws of matter could not have brought about the
particular result without the interposition of the free will of the man
who throws the stone. Substitute the will of God for the will of man,
and the argument becomes applicable to the whole extent of Creation and
to all the phenomena which it embraces.(1)

It is evident that Dr. Mansel's argument merely tends to prove that
every effect must have a cause, a proposition too obvious to require any
argument at all. If a man had not thrown the stone, the stone would have
remained lying on the ground. No one doubts this. We have here, however,
this "solitary instance of an efficient cause acting among the physical
causes of the material world," producing results which are wholly
determined by material laws,(2) and incapable of producing any opposed
to them. If, therefore, we substitute, as Dr. Mansel desires, "the will
of God" for "the will of man," we arrive at no results which are not in


with the order of nature. We have no ground whatever for assuming any
efficient cause acting in any other way than in accordance with the
laws of nature. It is, how-fever, one of the gross fallacies of this
argument, as applied to miracles, to pass from the efficient cause
producing results which are strictly in accordance with natural laws,
and determined by them, to an assumed efficient cause producing
effects which are opposed to natural law. The restoration to life of a
decomposed human body and the miraculous multiplication of loaves and
fishes are opposed to natural laws, and no assumed efficient cause
conceivable to which they may be referred can harmonize them.

Dr. Mozley continues his argument in a similar way. He inquires: "Is
the suspension of physical and material laws by a Spiritual Being
inconceivable? We reply that, however inconceivable this kind of
suspension of physical law is, it is a fact. Physical laws are suspended
any time an animate being moves any part of its body; the laws of matter
are suspended by the laws of life."(l) He goes on to maintain that,
although it is true that his spirit is united with the matter in which
it moves in a way in which the Great Spirit who acts on matter in the
miracle is not, yet the action of God's Spirit in the miracle of walking
on the water is no more inconceivable than the action of his own spirit
in holding up his own hand. "Antecedently, one step on the ground and
an ascent to heaven are alike incredible. But this appearance of
incredibility is answered in one case literally _ambulando_. How can I
place any reliance upon it in the other?"(2) From this illustration,


Dr. Mozley, with a haste very unlike his previous careful procedure,
jumps at the following conclusions: "The constitution of nature, then,
disproved the incredibility of the Divine suspension of physical law;
but more than this, it creates a presumption for it."(l) The laws
of life of which we have experience, he argues, are themselves in an
ascending scale. First come the laws which regulate unorganized matter;
next the laws of vegetation; then the laws of animal life, with its
voluntary motion; and above these again, the laws of moral being. A
supposed intelligent being whose experience was limited to one or more
classes in this ascending scale of laws would be totally incapable of
conceiving the action of the higher classes. The progressive succession
of laws is perfectly conceivable backward, but an absolute mystery
forward. "Analogy," therefore, when in this ascending series we arrive
at man, leads us to expect that there is a higher sphere of law as much
above _him_ as he is above the lower natures in the scale, and "supplies
a presumption in favour of such a belief."(2) And so we arrive at the
question whether there is or is not a God, a Personal Head in nature,
whose free will penetrates the universal frame invisibly to us, and is
an omnipresent agent. If there be, Dr. Mozley concludes, then, every
miracle in Scripture is as natural an event in the universe as any
chemical experiment in the physical world.(3)

This is precisely the argument of Dr. Mansel, regarding the "Efficient
Cause," somewhat elaborated, but, however ingeniously devised, it is
equally based upon assumption and defective in analogy. The "classes of


law" to which the Bampton Lecturer refers work harmoniously side by
side, regulating the matter to which they apply. Unorganized matter,
vegetation, and animal life, may each have special conditions modifying
phenomena, but they are all equally subject to the same general laws.
Man is as much under the influence of gravitation as a stone is. The
special operation of physical laws is less a modification of law than
that law acting under different conditions. The law of gravitation
suffers no alteration, whether it cause the fall of an apple or shape
the orbit of a planet. The reproduction of the plant and of the animal
is regulated by the same fundamental principle acting through
different organisms. The harmonious action of physical laws, and their
adaptability to an infinite variety of forms, constitute the perfection
of that code which produces the order of nature.(1) The mere superiority
of man over lower forms of organic and inorganic matter does not lift
him above physical laws, and the analogy of every grade in nature
forbids the presumption that higher forms may exist which are exempt
from their control.

If in animated beings, as is affirmed, we had the solitary instance of
an "efficient cause" acting among the forces of nature, and possessing
the power of initiation, this "efficient cause" produces no disturbance
of physical law. Its existence is as much a recognized part of the
infinite variety of form within the order of nature as the existence of
a crystal or a plant; and although the character of the force exercised
by it may not be clearly understood, its effects are regulated by the
same laws as


govern all other forces in nature. If "the laws of matter are suspended
by the laws of life" each time an animated being moves any part of its
body, one physical law is counteracted in precisely the same manner, and
to an equivalent degree, each time another physical law is called into
action. The Law of gravitation, for instance, is equally neutralized by
the law of magnetism each time a magnet suspends a weight in the air. In
each case, a law is successfully resisted precisely to the extent of
the force employed. The arm that is raised by the animated being falls
again, in obedience to law, as soon as the force which raised it is
exhausted, quite as certainly as the weight descends when the magnetic
current fails. This, however, is not the suspension of law in the sense
of a miracle, but, on the contrary, is simply the natural operation upon
each other of co-existent laws. It is a recognized part of the order of
nature,(1) and instead of


rendering credible any supernatural suspension of laws, the analogy of
animated beings distinctly excludes it. The introduction of life in no
way changes the relation between cause and effect, which constitutes
the order of nature, and is the essence of its law. Life favours no
presumption for the suspension of law, but, on the contrary, whilst
acting in nature, universally exhibits the prevalence and invariability
of law. The "laws of life" may be subtle, but they are an integral
portion of the great order of nature, working harmoniously with the
laws of matter, and not one whit more independent of them than any one
natural law is of another.

The supposed "Efficient Cause," is wholly circumscribed by law. It is
brought into existence by the operation of immutable physical laws, and
from the cradle to the grave it is subject to those laws. So inseparably
is it connected with matter, and consequently with the laws which
regulate matter, that it cannot even become conscious of its own
existence without the intervention of matter. The whole process of life
is dependent on obedience to natural laws, and so powerless is this
efficient cause to resist their jurisdiction, that, in spite of its
highest efforts, it pines or ceases to exist in consequence of the mere
natural operation of law upon the matter with which it is united, and


which it is impotent. It cannot receive an impression from without that
is not conveyed in accordance with law, and perceived by an exquisitely
ordered organism, in every part of which law reigns supreme; nor can it
communicate from within except through channels equally ordered by law.
A slight injury may derange the delicate mechanical contrivances of eye,
ear, and vocal chords, and may further destroy the reason and paralyze
the body, reducing the animated being, by the derangement of those
channels to which physical law limits its action, to a mere smouldering
spark of life, without consciousness and without expression. The "laws
of life" act amongst the laws of matter, but are not independent of
them, and the action of both classes of law is regulated by precisely
the same principles.

Dr. Mozley's affirmation, that _antecedently_ one step on the ground
and an ascent to heaven are alike incredible, does not help him. In
that sense it follows that there is nothing that is not antecedently
incredible, nothing credible until it has happened. This argument,
however, while it limits us to actual experience, prohibits presumptions
with regard to that which is beyond experience. To argue that, because
a step on the ground and an ascent to heaven are antecedently alike
incredible, yet as we subsequently make that step, therefore the ascent
to heaven, which we cannot make, from incredible becomes credible, is
a contradiction in terms. If the ascent be antecedently incredible,
it cannot at the same time be antecedently credible. That which is
incredible cannot become credible because something else quite different
becomes credible. It is apparent that such an argument is vicious.
Experience comes


with its sober wisdom to check such reasoning. We believe in our power
to walk because we habitually exercise it: we disbelieve in bodily
ascensions because all experience excludes them. The step is part of the
recognised order of nature, and has none of the elements in it of the
miraculous. But if we leap into the air on the brink of a precipice,
belief in an ascent to heaven is shattered to pieces at the bottom to
which the law of gravitation infallibly drags us.

There is absolutely nothing in the constitution of nature, we may say,
reversing Dr. Mozley's assertion, which does not prove the incredibility
of a Divine suspension of physical laws, and does not create a
presumption against it. There is no instance producible, or even
logically conceivable, of any power whose effects are opposed to the
ultimate ruling of the laws of nature. The occurrence of anything
opposed to those laws is incredible. Dr. Mozley has himself shown that
miracles cannot be explained either by unknown connection with known
law, or by reference to unknown law; and he renounces the explanation of
"higher law." His distinction between the laws of nature and the "laws
of the universe,"(1) by which he nevertheless endeavours to make a
miracle credible, is one which is purely imaginary, and cannot affect us
in our present position within the order of nature. We know of no laws
of the universe differing from the laws of nature. So far as human
observation can range, these laws alone prevail. For all practical
purposes, therefore, such a distinction is futile, and belief is
necessarily limited to the actual operation of natural laws. The
occasional intervention of an unknown "efficient cause," producing the


called "miracles"--effects which are not referrible to any known law--is
totally opposed to experience, and such a hypothesis to explain alleged
occurrences of a miraculous character cannot find a legitimate place
within the order of nature.


The proposition with which Dr. Mozley commences these Bampton Lectures,
and for which he contends to their close, is this: "That miracles, or
visible suspensions of the order of nature for a providential purpose,
are not in contradiction to reason."(1) He shows that, the purpose of
miracles is to attest a supernatural revelation, which, without them,
we could not be justified in believing. "Christianity," he distinctly
states, "cannot be maintained as a revelation undiscoverable by human
reason--a revelation of a supernatural scheme for man's salvation
without the evidence of miracles."(2) Out of this very admission he
attempts to construct an argument in support of miracles: "Hence it
follows," he continues, "that upon the supposition of the Divine design
of a revelation, a miracle is not an anomaly or irregularity, but part
of the system of the universe; because, though an irregularity and an
anomaly in relation to either part, it has a complete adaptation to
the whole. There being two worlds, a visible and invisible, and a
communication between the two being wanted, a miracle is the instrument
of that communication."(3)

Here, again, the argument is based upon mere assumption.


The supposition of the Divine design of a revelation is the result of
a foregone conclusion in its favour, and is not suggested by antecedent
probability. It is, in fact, derived solely from the contents of the
revelation itself. Divines assume that a communication of this nature
is in accordance with reason, and was necessary for the salvation of the
human race, simply because they believe that it took place. No attempt
is seriously made independently to prove the reality of the supposed
"Divine design of a revelation." A revelation having, it is supposed,
been made, that revelation is consequently supposed to have been
contemplated, and to have necessitated and justified suspensions of the
order of nature to effect it. The proposition for which the evidence of
miracles is demanded is viciously employed as evidence for miracles.

The circumstances upon which the assumption of the necessity and
reasonableness of a revelation is based, however, are incredible, and
contrary to reason. We are asked to believe that God made man in his
own image, pure and sinless, and intended him to continue so, but that
scarcely had this, his noblest work, left the hands of the Creator, than
man was tempted into sin by Satan, an all-powerful and persistent enemy
of God, whose existence and antagonism to a Being in whose eyes sin is
abomination are not accounted for and are incredible.(1) Adam's fall
brought a curse upon the earth, and incurred the penalty of death for
himself and for the whole of his posterity. The human race, although
created perfect and without sin,


thus disappointed the expectations of the Creator, and became daily more
wicked, the Evil Spirit having succeeded in frustrating the designs of
the Almighty, so that God repented that he had made man, and at length
destroyed by a deluge all the inhabitants of the earth, with the
exception of eight persons who feared him. This sweeping purification,
however, was as futile as the original design, and the race of men soon
became more wicked than ever. The final and only adequate remedy devised
by God for the salvation of his creatures, become so desperately and
hopelessly evil, was the incarnation of himself in the person of "the
Son," the second person in a mysterious Trinity of which the Godhead is
said to be composed, (who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of
the Virgin Mary,) and his death upon the cross as a vicarious expiation
of the sins of the world, without which supposed satisfaction of the
justice of God his mercy could not possibly have been extended to the
frail and sinful work of his own hands. The crucifixion of the incarnate
God was the crowning guilt of a nation whom God himself had selected
as his own peculiar people, and whom he had condescended to guide by
constant direct revelations of his will, but who, from the first, had
displayed the most persistent and remarkable proclivity to sin against
him, and, in spite of the wonderful miracles wrought on their behalf,
to forsake his service for the worship of other gods. We are asked to
believe, therefore, in the frustration of the Divine design of creation,
and in the fall of man into a state of wickedness hateful to God,
requiring and justifying the Divine design of a revelation, and such a
revelation as this, as a preliminary to the further proposition that,
on the supposition of such a design, miracles would not be contrary to


Antecedently, nothing could be more absolutely incredible or contrary to
reason than these statements, or the supposition of such a design. Dr.
Mozley himself admits that, as human announcements, the doctrines of
Christianity would be the "wildest delusions," which we could not be
justified in believing, and that such a scheme could not be maintained
without miraculous evidence. The supposition of the Divine design of the
revelation is solely derived from the doctrines supposed to have been
revealed, and, indeed, that design forms part of them. Until they
are proved to be Divine truths, these statements must obviously be
considered human announcements, and consequently they are antecedently
incredible, and the "wildest delusions." As Dr. Mozley does not pretend
that there is anything antecedently credible upon which he can base an
assertion that there was actually


any "Divine design of a revelation," or that any "communication between
the two worlds" was requisite, it is therefore clear that his argument
consists merely of assumptions admitted to be antecedently incredible.
It advances a supposition of that which is contrary to reason to justify
supposed visible suspensions of the order of nature, which are also
contrary to reason. Incredible assumptions cannot give probability
to incredible evidence- Tertullian's audacious paradox: "Credo quia
impossible," of which such reasoning is illustrative, is but the cry of
enthusiastic credulity.

The whole theory of this abortive design of creation, with such impotent
efforts to amend it, is emphatically contradicted by the glorious
perfection and invariability of the order of nature. It is difficult to
say whether the details of the scheme, or the circumstances which are
supposed to have led to its adoption, are more shocking to reason or to
moral sense. The imperfection ascribed to the Divine work is scarcely
more derogatory to the power and wisdom of the Creator, than the
supposed satisfaction of his justice in the death of himself incarnate,
the innocent for the guilty, is degrading to the idea of his moral
perfection. The supposed necessity for repeated interference to correct
the imperfection of the original creation, the nature of the means
employed, and the triumphant opposition of Satan, are anthropomorphic
conceptions totally incompatible with the idea of an Infinitely Wise and
Almighty Being. The constitution of nature, so far from favouring any
hypothesis of original perfection and subsequent deterioration, bears
everywhere the record of systematic upward progression. Not only is
the assumption, that any revelation of the nature of ecclesiastical
Christianity was necessary, excluded upon


philosophical grounds, but it is contradicted by the whole operation of
natural laws, which contain in themselves inexorable penalties against
natural retrogression, or even unprogressiveness, and furnish the only
requisite stimulus to improvement.(1) The survival only of the fittest
is the

     1 We venture to add a passage from Mr. Herbert Spencer's
     "Social Statics," which we have met with for the first time
     since this work was published, in illustration of this
     assertion. Mr. Spencer affirms "the evanescence of evil" and
     the perfectibility of man, upon the ground that: "All evil
     results from the non-adaptation of constitution to
     conditions." After an elaborate demonstration of this, he
     resumes as follows: "If there be any conclusiveness in the
     foregoing arguments, such a faith is well founded. As
     commonly supported by evidence drawn from history, it cannot
     be considered indisputable. The inference that as
     adyancement has been hitherto the rule, it will be the rule
     henceforth, may be called a plausible speculation. But when
     it is shown that this adyancement is due to the working of a
     universal law; and that in virtue of that law it must
     continue until the state we call perfection is reached, then
     the advent of such a state is removed out of the region of
     probability into that of certainty. If any one demurs to
     this let him point out the error. Here are the several steps
     of the argument. All imperfection is unfitness to the
     conditions of existence.

     This unfitness must consist either in having a faculty or
     faculties in excess; or in having a faculty or faculties
     deficient; or in both.

     A faculty in excess is one which the conditions of existence
     do not afford full exercise to; and a faculty that is
     deficient is one from which the conditions of existence
     demand more than it can perform.

     But it is an essential principle of life that a faculty to
     which circumstances do not allow full exercise diminishes;
     and that a faculty on which circumstances make excessive
     demands increases.

     And so long as this excess and this deficiency continue,
     there must continue decrease on the one hand, and growth on
     the other.

     Finally all excess and all deficiency must disappear, that
     is, all unfitness must disappear; that is, all imperfection
     must disappear.

     Thus the ultimate development of the ideal man is logically
     certain— as certain as any conclusion in which we place the
     most implicit faith; for instance, that all men will die.
     For why do we infer that all men will die P Simply because,
     in an immense number of past experiences, death has
     uniformly occurred. Similarly then as the experiences of all
     people in all times—experiences that are embodied in maxims,
     proverbs, and moral precepts, and that are illustrated in
     biographies and histories, go to prove that organs,
     faculties, powers, capacities, or whatever else we call them
     grow by use and diminish from disuse, it is inferred that
     they will continue to do so.    And if this inference is

     then is the one above deduced from it--that humanity must in
     the end become completely adapted to its conditions--
     unquestionable also.

     Progress, therefore, is not an accident, but a necessity.
     Instead of civilization being artificial, it is a part of
     nature; all of a piece with the development of the embryo or
     the unfolding of a flower. The modifications mankind have
     undergone, and are still undergoing, result from a law
     underlying the whole organic creation; and provided the
     human race continues, and the constitution of things remains
     the same, those modifications must end in completeness. As
     surely as the tree becomes bulky when it stands alone, and
     slender if one of a group; as surely as the same creature
     assumes the different forms of cart-horse and racehorse,
     according as its habits demand strength or speed; as surely
     as a blacksmith's arm grows large, and the skin of a
     labourer's hand thick; as surely as the eye tends to become
     long-sighted in the sailor, and shortsighted in the student;
     as surely as the blind attain a more delicate sense of
     touch; as surely as a clerk acquires rapidity in writing and
     calculation; as surely as the musician learns to detect an
     error of a semitone amidst what seems to others a very babel
     of sounds; as surely as a passion grows by indulgence and
     diminishes when restrained; as surely as a disregarded
     conscience becomes inert, and one that is obeyed active; as
     surely as there is any efficacy in educational culture, or
     any meaning in such terms as habit, custom, practice; so
     surely must the human faculties be moulded into complete
     fitness for the social state; so surely must the things we
     call evil and immorality disappear; so surely must man
     become perfect."   Social Statics, stereotyped ed. 1868, p.
     78 f.


stern decree of nature. The invariable action of law of itself
eliminates the unfit Progress is necessary to existence; extinction
is the doom of retrogression. The highest effect contemplated by the
supposed Revelation is to bring man into perfect harmony with law,
and this is ensured by law itself acting upon intelligence. Only
in obedience to law is there life and safety. Knowledge of law is
imperatively demanded by nature. Ignorance of it is a capital offence.
If we ignore the law of gravitation we are dashed to pieces at the foot
of a precipice, or are crushed by a falling rock; if we neglect sanatory
law, we are destroyed by a pestilence; if we disregard chemical laws,
we are poisoned by a vapour. There is not, in reality, a gradation
of breach of law that is not followed by an equivalent gradation of
punishment. Civilization is nothing but the knowledge and observance
of natural laws. The savage must learn them or be extinguished; the
cultivated must observe them or die. The balance of moral and physical
development cannot be deranged with impunity. In the spiritual as well
as the physical sense only the fittest eventually can survive in the
struggle for existence. There is, in fact, an absolute upward impulse to
the whole human race supplied by the invariable operation of the laws of
nature acting upon the common instinct of self-preservation. As, on the
one hand, the highest human conception of infinite wisdom and power
is derived from the universality and invariability of law, so that
universality and invariability, on the other hand, exclude the idea of
interruption or occasional suspension of law for any purpose whatever,
and more especially for the correction of supposed original errors
of design which cannot have existed, or for the attainment of objects
already provided for in the order of nature.


Upon the first groundless assumption of a Divine design of such a
revelation follows the hypothetical inference that, for the purpose of
making the communication from the unseen world, a miracle or visible
suspension of the order or nature is no irregularity, but part of the
system of the universe. This, however, is a mere assertion, and no
argument An avowed assumption which is contrary to reason is followed by
another which is contrary to experience. It is simply absurd to speak of
a visible suspension of the order of nature being part of the system of
the universe. Such a statement has no meaning whatever within the range
of human conception. Moreover, it must be remembered that miracles--or
"visible suspensions of the order of nature"--are ascribed indifferently
to Divine and to Satanic agency. If miracles are not an anomaly or
irregularity on the supposition of the Divine design of a revelation,
upon what supposition do Satanic miracles cease to be irregularities? Is
the order of nature, which it is asserted is under the personal control
of God, at the same time at the mercy of the Devil?

Archbishop Trench has, as usual, a singular way of overcoming the
difficulty. He says:--"So long as we abide in the region of nature,
miraculous and improbable, miraculous and incredible may be admitted as
convertible terms. But once lift up the whole discussion into a higher
region, once acknowledge something higher than nature, a kingdom of God,
and men the intended denizens of it, and the whole argument loses its
strength and the force of its conclusions.... He who already counts
it likely that God will interfere for the higher welfare of men, who
believes that there is a


nobler world-order than that in which we live and move, and that it
would be the blessing of blessings for that nobler to intrude into and
to make itself felt in the region of this lower, who has found that here
in this world we are bound by heavy laws of nature, of sin, of death,
which no powers that we now possess can break, yet which must be broken
if we are truly to live,--he will not find it hard to believe the great
miracle, the coming of the Son of God in the flesh, &c... And as he
believes that greatest miracle, so will he believe all other miracles,
&c."(1) In other words, if we already believe the premises we shall not
find it difficult to adopt the conclusions--if we already believe the
greatest miracle we shall not hesitate to believe the less--if we
already believe the dogmas we shall not find it hard to believe
the evidence by which they are supposed to be authenticated. As we
necessarily do abide in the


region of nature, in which Dr. Trench admits that miraculous and
incredible are convertible terms, it would seem rather difficult to
lift the discussion into the higher region here described without having
already abandoned it altogether.



The argument of those who assert the possibility and reality of miracles
generally takes the shape of an attack, more or less direct, upon our
knowledge of the order of nature. To establish an exception they
contest the rule. Dr. Mozley, however, is not content with the ordinary
objections advanced by apologists but, boldly entering into the mazes
of a delicate philosophical problem, he adopts sceptical arguments and
seeks to turn the flank of the enemy upon his own ground. He conducts
his attack with unusual force and ability. "Whatever difficulty there
is in believing in miracles in general," he says, "arises from the
circumstance that they are in contradiction to or unlike the order of
nature. To estimate the force of this difficulty, then, we must first
understand what kind of belief it is which we have in the order of
nature; for the weight of the objection to the miraculous must depend
on the nature of the belief to which the miraculous is opposed."(1)
Dr. Mozley defines the meaning of the phrase, "order of nature" as
the _connection_ of that part of the order of nature of which we are
ignorant with that part of it which we know, the former being expected
to be such and such, _because_ the latter is. But how do we justify this
expectation of


_likeness?_ We cannot do so, and all our arguments are mere statements
of the belief itself, he affirms, and not reasons to account for it.
It may be said, e.g., that when a fact of nature has gone on repeating
itself a certain time, such repetition shows that there is a permanent
cause at work, and that a permanent cause produces permanently recurring
effects. But what is there to show the existence of a permanent cause?
Nothing. The effects which have taken place show a cause at work to the
extent of these effects, but not further. That this cause is of a more
permanent nature we have no evidence. Why then do we expect the further
continuance of these effects.(2) We can only say: because we believe
the future will be like the past. After a physical phenomenon has even
occurred every day for years we have nothing but the past repetition to
justify our certain expectation of its future repetition.(3) Do we think
it giving a reason for our confidence in the future to say that,
though no man has had experience of what is future, every man has had
experience of what was future? It is true that what is future becomes at
every step of our advance what was future, but that which is now
still future is not the least altered by that circumstance; it is
as invisible, as unknown, and as unexplored as if it were the very
beginning and the very starting-point of nature. At this starting-point
of nature what would a man know of its future course? Nothing. At this
moment he knows no more.(4) What ground of reason, then, can we assign
for our expectation that any part of the course of nature will the next
moment be like what it has been up to this moment, i.e., for our belief


in the uniformity of nature? None. It is without a reason. It rests upon
no rational ground, and can be traced to no rational principle.(1) The
belief in the order of nature being thus an "unintelligent impulse" of
which we cannot give any rational account, Dr. Mozley concludes, the
ground is gone upon which it could be maintained that miracles, as
opposed to the order of nature, were opposed to reason. A miracle in
being opposed to our experience is not only not opposed to necessary
reasoning, but to any reasoning.(2) We need not further follow the
Bampton Lecturer, as with clearness and ability he applies this
reasoning to the argument of "Experience," until he pauses triumphantly
to exclaim: "Thus step by step has philosophy loosened the connection
of the order of nature with the ground of reason, befriending, in exact
proportion as it has done this, the principle of miracles."(3)

We need not here enter upon any abstract argument regarding the
permanence or otherwise of cause: it will be sufficient to deal with
these objections in a simpler and more direct way. Dr. Mozley, of
course, acknowledges that the principle of the argument from experience
is that "which makes human life practicable; which utilizes all our
knowledge; which makes the past anything more than an irrelevant picture
to us; for of what use is the experience of the past to us unless we
believe the future will be like it?'(4) Our knowledge in all things is
relative, and there are sharp and narrow limits to human thought. It is
therefore evident that, in the absence of absolute knowledge, our belief
must be accorded to that of which we have


more full cognizance rather than to that which is contradicted by all
that we do know. It may be "irrational" to feel entire confidence that
the sun will "rise" tomorrow, or that the moon will continue to wax and
wane as in the past, but we shall without doubt retain this belief, and
reject any assertion, however positive, that the earth will stand still
to-morrow, or that it did so some thousands of years ago. Evidence must
take its relative place in the finite scale of knowledge and thought,
and if we do not absolutely know anything whatever, so long as one thing
is more fully established than another, we must hold to that which rests
upon the more certain basis. Our belief in the invariability of the
order of nature, therefore, being based upon more certain grounds than
any other human opinion, we must of necessity refuse credence to
a statement supported by infinitely less complete testimony, and
contradicted by universal experience, that phenomena subversive of that
order occurred many years ago, or we must cease to believe anything at
all. If belief based upon unvarying experience be irrational, how much
more irrational must belief be which is opposed to that experience.
According to Dr. Mozley, it is quite irrational to believe that a stone
dropped from the hand, for instance, will fall to the ground. It is true
that all the stones we ourselves have ever dropped, or seen dropped,
have so fallen, and equally true that all stones so dropped as far back
as historic records, and those still more authentic and ancient records
of earth's crust itself go, have done the same, but that does not
justify our belief, upon any grounds of reason, that the next stone we
drop will do so. If we be told, however, that upon one occasion a stone
so dropped, instead of falling to the ground, rose


up into the air and continued there, we have only two courses open to
us: either to disbelieve the fact, and attribute the statement to error
of observation, or to reduce the past to a mere irrelevant picture,
and the mind to a blank page equally devoid of all belief and of all
intelligent reasoning.

Dr. Mozley's argument, however, is fatal to his own cause. It is
admitted that miracles, "or visible suspensions of the order
of nature,"(1) cannot have any evidential force unless they be
supernatural, and out of the natural sequence of ordinary phenomena.
Now, unless there be an actual order of nature, how can there be any
exception to it? If our belief in it be not based upon any ground of
reason,--as Dr. Mozley maintains, in order to assert that miracles or
visible suspensions of that order are not contrary to reason,--how can
it be asserted that miracles are supernatural? If we have no rational
ground for believing that the future will be like the past, what
rational ground can we have for thinking that anything which happens is
exceptional, and out of the common course of nature? Because it has not
happened before? That is no reason whatever; because the fact that a
thing has happened ten millions of times is no rational justification of
our expectation that it will happen again. If the reverse of that which
had happened previously took place on the ten million and first time we
should have no rational ground for surprise, and no reason for affirming
that it did not occur in the most natural manner. Because we cannot
explain its cause? We cannot explain the cause of anything. Our belief
that there is any permanent cause is a mere unintelligent impulse. We
can only say that there is a cause


sufficient to produce an isolated effect, but we do not know the nature
of that cause, and it is a mere irrational instinct to suppose that any
cause produces continuous effects, or is more than momentary. A miracle,
consequently, becomes a mere isolated effect from an unknown cause, in
the midst of other merely isolated phenomena from unknown causes, and it
is as irrational to wonder

at the occurrence of what is new, as to expect the recurrence of what
is old. In fact, an order of nature is at once necessary, and fatal, to
miracles. If there be no order of nature, miracles cannot be considered
supernatural occurrences, and have no evidential value; if there be an
order of nature, the evidence for its immutability must consequently
exceed the evidence for these isolated deviations from it. If we are
unable rationally to form expectations of the future from unvarying
experience in the past, it is still more irrational to call that
supernatural which is merely different from our past experience. Take,
for instance, the case of supposed exemption from the action of the law
of gravitation, which Archbishop Trench calls "a lost prerogative of our
race:"(1) we cannot rationally affirm that next week we may not be able
to walk on the sea, or ascend bodily into the air. To deny this because
we have not hitherto been able to do so is unreasonable; for, as Dr.
Mozley maintains, it is a mere irrational impulse which expects that
which has hitherto happened, when we have made such attempts, to happen
again next week. If we cannot rationally deny the possibility, however,
that we may be able at some future time to walk on the sea or ascend
into the air, the statement that these phenomena have already occurred
loses all its force, and such occurrences


cease to be in any way supernatural. If, on the other hand, it would
be irrational to affirm that we may next week become exempt from the
operation of the law of gravitation, it can only be so by the
admission that unvarying experience forbids the entertainment of such a
hypothesis, and in that case it equally forbids belief in the statement
that such acts ever actually took place. If we deny the future
possibility on any ground of reason, we admit that we have grounds
of reason for expecting the future to be like the past, and therefore
contradict Dr. Mozley's conclusion; and if we cannot deny it upon any
ground of reason, we extinguish the claim of such occurrences in the
past to any supernatural character. Any argument which could destroy
faith in the order of nature would be equally destructive to miracles.
If we have no right to believe in a rule, there can be no right to
speak of exceptions. The result in any case is this, that whether
the principle of the order of nature be established or refuted, the
supernatural pretensions of miracles are disallowed.

More than this, however, must inevitably be deduced from Dr. Mozley's
reasoning. In denying, as he does, the doctrine of a permanent cause,
Dr. Mozley must equally renounce, as without foundation in reason,
the assumption of a permanent agent working miracles. Not only do the
supposed miracles, in the complete isolation of all effects, cease to
be supernatural or even exceptional, but as it cannot be affirmed that
there is any cause of a nature more permanent than its existing or known
effects, it is obvious that miracles cannot be traced to an eternal
Being of permanent omnipotence. If Dr. Mozley, therefore, be understood
to adopt this reasoning as his own, he has involved himself, in the


necessary abandonment both of miracles as supernatural occurrences, and
of a permanent and unlimited cause of miracles. If, on the other hand,
he has merely snatched the sword of an adversary to turn it against him,
he has unfortunately impaled himself upon the borrowed weapon.


Throughout the whole of his argument against the rationality of
belief in the order of nature, the rigorous precision which Dr. Mozley
unrelentingly demands from his antagonists is remarkable. They are not
permitted to deviate by a hair's breadth from the line of strict logic,
and the most absolute exactness of demonstration is required. Anything
like an assumption or argument from analogy is excluded; induction is
allowed to add no reason to bare and isolated facts; and the belief that
the sun will rise to-morrow morning is, with pitiless severity, written
down as mere unintelligent impulse. Belief in the return of day, based
upon the unvarying experience of all past time, is declared to be
without any ground of reason. We find anything but fault with strictness
of argument; but it is fair that equal precision should be observed by
those who assert miracles, and that assumption and inaccuracy should be
excluded. Hitherto, as we have frequently pointed out, we have met
with very little or nothing but assumption in support of miracles; but,
encouraged by the inflexible spirit of Dr. Mozley's attack upon the
argument from experience, we may look for similar precision from


Proceeding, however, from his argument against the rationality of belief
in the order of nature to his more direct argument for miracles, we are
astonished to find a total abandonment of the rigorous exactness imposed
upon his antagonists, and a complete relapse into assumptions. Dr.
Mozley does not conceal the fact. "The peculiarity of the argument
of miracles," he frankly admits, "is, that it begins and ends with an
assumption; I mean relatively to that argument."(1) Such an argument
is no argument at all; it is a mere _petitio principii_, incapable of
proving anything. The nature of the assumptions obviously does not
in the slightest degree affect this conclusion. It is true that the
statement of the particular assumptions may constitute an appeal to
belief otherwise derived, and evolve feelings which may render the calm
exercise of judgment more difficult, but the fact remains absolute,
that an argument which "begins and ends with an assumption" is totally
impotent. It remains an assumption, and is not an argument at all.


Notwithstanding this unfortunate and disqualifying "peculiarity" we may
examine the argument. It is as follows: "We assume the existence of a
Personal Deity prior to the proof of miracles in the religious sense;
but with this assumption the question of miracles is at an end; because
such a Being has necessarily the power to suspend those laws of nature
which He has Himself enacted."(1) The "question of miracles," which Dr.
Mozley here asserts to be at an end on the assumption of a "Personal
Deity," is of course merely that of the _possibility_ of miracles; but
it is obvious that, even with the precise definition of Deity which
is assumed, instead of the real "question" being at an end, it only
commences. The power to suspend the laws of nature being assumed, the
will to suspend them has to be demonstrated, and the actual occurrence
of any such suspension, which, it has already been shown, is contrary
to reason. The subject is, moreover, complicated by the occurrence of
Satanic as well as Divine suspensions of the order of nature, and by the
necessity of assuming a Personal Devil as well as a Personal Deity,
and his power to usurp that control over the laws of nature, which is
assumed as the prerogative of the Deity, and to suspend them in direct
opposition to God. The express ascription of miracles to the special
intervention of a Personal God is also, as we have seen, excluded by the
Scriptural admission that there are other supernatural beings capable of
performing them. Even Dr. Newman has recognized this, and, in a passage
already quoted, he says: "For the cogency of the argument from Miracles
depends on the assumption, that interruptions in the course of nature
must ultimately proceed from God; which is not true, if they may be


effected by other beings without His sanction."(1) The first assumption,
in fact, leads to nothing but assumptions connected with the unseen,
unknown and supernatural, which are beyond the limits of reason.

Dr. Mozley is well aware that his assumption of a "Personal" Deity is
not susceptible of proof;(2) indeed, this is admitted in the statement
that the definition is an "assumption." He quotes the obvious reply
which may be made regarding this assumption:--"Everybody must collect
from the harmony of the physical universe the existence of a God, but
in acknowledging a God, we do not thereby acknowledge this peculiar
doctrinal conception of a God. We see in the structure of nature
a mind--a universal mind--but still a mind which only operates and
expresses itself by law. Nature only does and only can inform us of mind
_in_ nature, the partner and correlative of organized matter. Nature,
therefore, can speak to the existence of a God in this sense, and can
speak to the omnipotence of God in a sense coinciding with the actual
facts of nature; but in no other sense does nature witness to the
existence of an Omnipotent Supreme Being. Of a universal Mind out
of nature, nature says nothing, and of an Omnipotence which does not
possess an inherent limit in nature, she says nothing either. And,
therefore, that conception of a Supreme Being which represents him as a


independent of the physical universe, and able from a standing-place
external to nature to interrupt its order, is a conception of God for
which we must go elsewhere. That conception is obtained from revelation
which is asserted to be proved by miracles. But that being the case,
this doctrine of Theism rests itself upon miracles, and, therefore,
miracles cannot rest upon this doctrine of Theism."(1) With his usual
fairness, Dr. Mozley, while questioning the correctness of the premiss
of this argument, admits that, if established, the consequence stated
would follow, "and more, for miracles being thrown back upon the same
ground on which Theism is, the whole evidence of revelation becomes a
vicious circle, and the fabric is left suspended in space, revelation
resting on miracles and miracles resting on revelation."(2) He not only
recognizes, however, that the conception of a Person al" Deity cannot
be proved, but he distinctly confesses that it was obtained from
revelation,(3) and from nowhere else, and these necessary admissions
obviously establish the correctness of the premiss, and involve the
consequence pointed out, that the evidence of revelation is a mere
vicious circle. Dr. Mozley attempts to argue that, although the idea was
first obtained through this channel, "the truth once possessed is seen
to rest upon grounds of natural reason."(4) Why, then, does he call
it an assumption? The argument by which he seeks to show that the
conception is seen to rest upon grounds of natural reason is: "We
naturally attribute to the design of a Personal Being a contrivance
which is directed to the existence of a Personal Being.... From


at one end I infer personality at the other." Dr. Mozley's own sense of
the weakness of his argument, however, and his natural honesty of
mind oblige him continually to confess the absence of evidence. A few
paragraphs further on he admits:--"Not, however, that the existence of
a God is so clearly seen by reason as to dispense with faith;"(1) but he
endeavours to convince us that faith is reason, only reason acting under
peculiar circumstances: when reason draws conclusions which are not
backed by experience, reason is then called faith.(2) The issue of the
argument, he contends, is so amazing, that if we do not tremble for its
safety it must be on account of a practical principle, which makes us
confide and trust in reasons, and that principle is faith. We are not
aware that conviction can be arrived at regarding any matter otherwise
than by confidence in the correctness of the reasons, and what Dr.
Mozley really means by faith, here, is confidence and trust in a
conclusion for which there are no reasons.

It is almost incredible that the same person who had just been denying
grounds of reason to conclusions from unvarying experience, and
excluding from them the results of inductive reasoning--who had
denounced as unintelligent impulse and irrational instinct the faith
that the sun, which has risen without fail every morning since time
began, will rise again to-morrow, could thus argue. In fact, from
the very commencement of the direct plea for miracles, calm logical
reasoning is abandoned, and the argument becomes entirely _ad hominem_.
Mere feeling is substituted for thought, and in the inability to be
precise and logical, the lecturer appeals


to the generally prevailing inaccuracy of thought.(1) "Faith, then," he
concludes, "is _unverified_ reason; reason which has not yet received
the verification of the final test, but is still expectant." In science
this, at the best, would be called mere "hypothesis," but accuracy can
scarcely be expected where the argument continues: "Indeed, does not
our heart bear witness to the fact that to believe in a God"--i. e., a
Personal God --"is an exercise of faith?" &c.(2)

It does not help Dr. Mozley that Butler, Paley, and all other divines
have equally been obliged to commence with the same assumption; and,
indeed, as we have already remarked, Dr. Mozley honestly admits the
difficulty of the case, and while naturally making the most of his
own views, he does not disguise the insecurity of the position. He
deprecates that school which maintains that any average man, taken out
of a crowd, who has sufficient common sense to manage his own affairs,
is a fit judge, and such a judge as was originally contemplated, of the
Christian evidences;(3) and he says: "It is not, indeed, consistent
with truth, nor would it conduce to the real defence of Christianity,
to underrate the difficulties of the Christian evidence; or to disguise
this characteristic of it, that the very facts which constitute
the evidence of revelation have to be accepted by an act of faith
themselves, before they can operate as a proof of that further
truth."(4) Such evidence is manifestly worthless. After all his
assumptions, Dr. Mozley is reduced to the necessity of pleading: "A
probable fact is a probable evidence. I may, therefore, use a miracle as
evidence of a revelation, though


I have only probable evidence for the miracle."(1) The probability of
the miracle, however, is precisely what is denied, as opposed to reason
and experience, and incompatible with the order of nature. A cause is,
indeed, weak when so able an advocate is reduced to such reasoning.

The deduction which is drawn from the assumption of a "Personal" Deity
is, as we have seen, merely the possibility of miracles. "Paley's
criticism," said the late Dean of St. Paul's, "is, after all, the
true one--'once believe that there is a God, and miracles are not
incredible.'"(2) The assumption, therefore, although of vital importance
in the event of its rejection, does not very materially advance
the cause of miracles if established. We have already seen that the
assumption is avowedly incapable of proof, but it may be well to examine
it a little more closely in connection with the inferences supposed
to be derivable from it. We must, however, in doing so carefully avoid
being led into a metaphysical argument, which would be foreign to the
purpose of this inquiry.

In his Bampton Lectures on "The Limit of Religious Thought," delivered
in 1858, Dr. Mansel, the very able editor and disciple of Sir William
Hamilton, discussed this subject with great minuteness, and although
we cannot pretend here to follow him through the whole of his
singular argument--a theological application of Sir William Hamilton's
philosophy--we must sufficiently represent it. Dr. Mansel argues: We are
absolutely incapable of conceiving or proving the existence of God as he
is; and so far is human reason from being able to


construct a theology independent of revelation that it cannot even
read the alphabet out of which that theology must be formed.(1) We are
compelled, by the constitution of our minds, to believe in the existence
of an Absolute and Infinite Being; but the instant we attempt to
analyse, we are involved in inextricable confusion.(2) Our moral
consciousness demands that we should conceive him as a Personality, but
personality, as we conceive it, is essentially a limitation; to speak
of an Absolute and Infinite Person is simply to use language to which no
mode of human thought can possibly attach itself.(3) This amounts
simply to an admission that our knowledge of God does not satisfy the
conditions of speculative philosophy, and is incapable of reduction to
an ultimate and absolute truth.(4) It is, therefore, reasonable that
we should expect to find that the revealed manifestation of the Divine
nature and attributes should likewise carry the marks of subordination
to some higher truth, of which it indicates the existence, but does
not make known the substance; and that our apprehension of the revealed
Deity should involve mysteries inscrutable, and


doubts insoluble by our present faculties, while at the same time
it inculcates the true spirit in which doubt should be dealt with by
warning us that our knowledge of God, though revealed by himself, is
revealed in relation to human faculties, and subject to the limitations
and imperfections inseparable from the constitution of the human
mind.(1) We need not, of course, point out that the reality of
revelation is here assumed. Elsewhere, Dr. Mansel maintains that
philosophy, by its own incongruities, has no claim to be accepted as a
competent witness; and, on the other hand, human personality cannot be
assumed as an exact copy of the Divine, but only as that which is most
nearly analogous to it among finite things.(2) As we are, therefore,
incapable on the one hand of a clear conception of the Divine Being, and
have only analogy to guide us in conceiving his attributes, we have no
criterion of religious truth or falsehood, enabling us to judge of the
ways of God, represented by revelation,(3) and have no right to judge of
his justice, or mercy, or goodness, by the standard of human morality.

It is impossible to conceive an argument more vicious, or more obviously
warped to favour already accepted


conclusions of revelation:--As finite beings we are not only incapable
of proving the existence of God, but even of conceiving him as he is;
therefore we may conceive him as he is not. To attribute personality to
him is a limitation totally incompatible with the idea of an Absolute
and Infinite Being, in which "we are compelled by the constitution of
our minds to believe;" and to speak of him as a personality is "to use
language to which no mode of human thought can possibly attach
itself;" but, nevertheless, to satisfy supposed demands of our moral
consciousness, we are to conceive him as a personality. Although we
must define the Supreme Being as a personality to satisfy our
moral consciousness, we must not, we are told, make the same moral
consciousness the criterion of the attributes of that personality. We
must not suppose him to be endowed, for instance, with the perfection
of morality according to our ideas of it; but, on the contrary, we must
hold that his moral perfections are at best only analogous, and often
contradictory, to our standard of morality.1 As soon as we conceive a
Personal Deity to satisfy our moral consciousness, we have to abandon
the personality which satisfies that consciousness, in order to accept
the characteristics of a supposed Revelation, to reconcile certain
statements of which we must admit that we have no criterion of truth or
falsehood enabling us to judge of the ways of God.

Now, in reference to the assumption of a Personal Deity as a preliminary
to the proof of miracles, it must be clearly remembered that the
contents of the revelation which miracles are to authenticate cannot


have any weight. Antecedently, then, it is admitted that personality
is a limitation which is absolutely excluded by the ideas of the Deity,
which, it is asserted, the constitution of our minds compete us to
form. It cannot, therefore, be rationally assumed. To admit that such a
conception is false, and then to base conclusions upon it, as though
it were true, is absurd. It is child's play to satisfy our feeling and
imagination by the conscious sacrifice of our reason. Moreover, Dr.
Mansel admits that the conception of a Personal Deity is really derived
from the revelation, which has to be rendered credible by miracles;
therefore the consequence already pointed out ensues, that the
assumption cannot be used to prove miracles. "It must be allowed that it
is not through reasoning that men obtain the first intimation of their
relation to the Deity; and that, had they been left to the guidance
of their intellectual faculties alone, it is possible that no such
intimation might have taken place; or at best, that it would have been
but as one guess, out of many equally plausible and equally natural."(1)
The vicious circle of the argument is here again apparent, and the
singular reasoning by which the late Dean of St. Paul's seeks to drive
us into an acceptance of Revelation is really the strongest argument
against it. The impossibility of conceiving God as he is,(2) which is
insisted upon, instead of being a


reason for assuming his personality, or for accepting Jewish conceptions
of him, totally excludes such an assumption.

This "great religious assumption"(1) is not suggested by any antecedent
considerations, but is required to account for miracles, and is derived
from the very Revelation which miracles are to attest. "In nature and
from nature," to quote Words of Professor Baden Powell, "by science
and by reason, we neither have nor can possibly have any evidence of a
_Deity working_ miracles;--for that we must go out of nature and beyond
science. If we could have any such evidence _from nature_, it could only
prove extraordinary _natural_ effects, which would not be _miracles_ in
the old theological sense, as isolated, unrelated, and uncaused; whereas
no _physical_ fact can be conceived as unique, or without analogy and
relation to others, and to the whole system of natural causes."(2)
Being, therefore, limited to Reason for any feeble conception of a
Divine Being of which we may be capable, and Reason being totally
opposed to the idea of an order of nature so imperfect as to require or
permit repeated interference, and rejecting the supposition of arbitrary


suspensions of Law, such a conception of a Deity as is proposed
by theologians must be pronounced irrational and derogatory. It is
impossible for us to conceive a Supreme Being acting otherwise than
we actually see in nature, and if we recognize in the universe the
operation of infinite wisdom and power, it is in the immutable order and
regularity of all phenomena, and in the eternal prevalence of Law, that
we see their highest manifestation. This is no conception based merely
upon observation of law and order in the material world, as Dr. Mansel
insinuates,(1) but it is likewise the result of the highest exercise of
mind. Dr. Mansel "does not hesitate to affirm with Sir William Hamilton
"that the class of phenomena which requires that kind of cause we
denominate a Deity is exclusively given in the phenomena of mind;
that the phenomena of matter, taken by themselves, do not warrant any
inference to the existence of a God."(2) After declaring a Supreme
Being, from every point of view, inconceivable by our finite minds, it
is singular to find him thrusting upon us, in consequence, a conception
of that Being which almost makes us exclaim with Bacon: "It were better
to have no opinion of God at all than such an opinion as is unworthy
of him; for the one is unbelief, the other is contumely."(3) Dr. Mansel
asks: "Is matter or mind the truer image of God?"(4) But both matter
and mind unite in repudiating so unworthy a conception of a God, and in
rejecting the idea of suspensions of Law. In the words of Spinoza: "From


we can neither infer the nature, the existence, nor the providence of
God, but, on the contrary, these may be much better comprehended
from the fixed and immutable order of nature;"(1) indeed, as he adds,
miracles, as contrary to the order of nature, would rather lead us to
doubt the existence of God.(2)

Six centuries before our era, a noble thinker, Xenophanes of Colophon,
whose pure mind soared far above the base anthropomorphic mythologies
of Homer and Hesiod, and anticipated some of the highest results of the
Platonic philosophy, finely said:--

"There is one God supreme over all gods, diviner than mortals, Whose
form is not like unto man's, and as unlike his nature;

But vain mortals imagine that gods like themselves are begotten, With
human sensations, and voice, and corporeal members;'

So if oxen or lions had hands and could work iu man's fashion, And trace
out with chisel or brush their conception of Godhead, Then would horses
depict gods like horses, and oxen like oxen, Each kind the Divine with
its own form and nature endowing."(4)

He illustrates this profound observation by pointing out that the
Ethiopians represent their deities as black with flat noses, while the
Thracians make them blue-eyed with ruddy complexions, and, similarly,
the Medes and the Persians and Egyptians portray their gods like


themselves.(1) The Jewish idea of God was equally anthropomorphic; but
their highest conception was certainly that which the least resembled
themselves, and which described the Almighty as "without variableness or
shadow of turning," and as giving a law to the universe which shall not
be broken.(2)


None of the arguments with which we have yet met have succeeded in
making miracles in the least degree antecedently credible. On the
contrary they have been based upon mere assumptions incapable of proof
and devoid of probability. On the other hand there are the strongest
reasons for affirming that such phenomena are antecedently incredible.
Dr. Mozley's attack which we discussed in the first part of this
chapter, and which of course was chiefly based upon Hume's celebrated


never seriously grappled the doctrine at all. The principle which
opposes itself to belief in miracles is very simple. Whatever is
contradictory to universal and invariable experience is antecedently
incredible, and as that sequence of phenomena which is called the order
of nature is established by and in accordance with universal experience,
miracles or alleged violations of that order, by whatever name they may
be called, or whatever definition may be given of their characteristics
or object, are antecedently incredible. The preponderance of evidence
for the invariability of the order of nature, in fact, is so enormous
that it is impossible to credit the reality of such variations from
it, and reason and experience concur in attributing the ascription of
a miraculous character to any actual occurrences which may have been
witnessed to imperfect observation, mistaken inference or some other of
the numerous sources of error. Any allegation of the interference of
a new and supernatural agent, upon such an occasion, to account for
results, in contradiction of the known sequence of cause and effect, is
excluded by the very same principle, for invariable experience being as
opposed to the assertion that such interference ever takes place as
it is to the occurrence of miraculous phenomena, the allegation is
necessarily disbelieved.

Apologists find it much more convenient to evade the simple but
effective arguments of Hume than to answer them, and where it is
possible they dismiss them with a sneer, and hasten on to less dangerous
ground. For instance, a recent Hulsean Lecturer, arguing the antecedent
credibility of the miraculous, makes the following remarks: "Now, as
regards the inadequacy of testimony to establish a miracle, modern
scepticism has not advanced


one single step beyond the blank assertion. And it is astonishing that
this assertion should still be considered cogent, when its logical
consistency has been shattered to pieces by a host of writers as well
sceptical as Christian (Mill's _Logic_, ii., 157--160). For, as the
greatest of our living logicians has remarked, the supposed recondite
and dangerous formula of Hume--that it is more probable that testimony
should be mistaken than that miracles should be true--reduces itself
to the very harmless proposition that anything is incredible which is
contrary to a complete induction. It is in fact a _flagrant petitio
principii_, used to support a wholly unphilosophical assertion."(1)
It is much more astonishing that so able a man as Dr. Farrar could so
misunderstand Hume's argument and so misinterpret and mis-state Mr.
Mill's remarks upon it. So far from shattering to pieces the logical
consistency of Hume's reasoning, Mr. Mill substantially confirms it, and
pertinently remarks that "it speaks ill for the state of philosophical
speculation on such subjects" that so simple and evident a doctrine
should have been accounted a dangerous heresy. It is, in fact, the
statement of a truth which should have been universally recognized, and
would have been so, but for its unwelcome and destructive bearing upon
popular theology.

Mr. Mill states the evident principle, that--"If an alleged fact be in
contradiction, not to any number of approximate generalizations, but to
a completed generalization grounded on a rigorous induction, it is
said to be impossible, and is to be disbelieved totally." Mr. Mill
continues.: "This last principle, simple and evident as it


appears, is the doctrine which, on the occasion of an attempt to apply
it to the question of the credibility of miracles, excited so violent a
controversy. Hume's celebrated doctrine, that nothing is credible which
is contradictory to experience or at variance with laws of nature,
is merely this very plain and harmless proposition, that whatever
is contradictory to a complete induction is incredible."(1) He then
proceeds to meet possible objections: "But does not (it may be asked)
the very statement of the proposition imply a contradiction? An alleged
fact according to this theory is not to be believed if it contradict
a complete induction. But it is essential to the completeness of an
induction that it should not contradict any known fact. Is it not, then,
a _petitio principii_ to say, that the fact ought to be disbelieved
because the induction to it is complete? How can we have a right to
declare the induction complete, while facts, supported by credible
evidence, present themselves in opposition to it? I answer, we have that
right whenever the scientific canons of induction give it to us; that
is, whenever the induction can be complete. We have it, for example, in
a case of causation in which there has been an _experimentum cruris_."
It will be remarked that Dr. Farrar adopts Mr. Mill's phraseology in one
of the above questions to affirm the reverse of his opinion. Mr. Mill
decides that the proposition is not a _petitio principii_; Dr. Farrar
says, as in continuation of his reference to Mr. Mill, that it is a
flagrant _petitio principii_. Mr. Mill proceeds to prove his statement,
and he naturally argues that, if observations or experiments have been
repeated so often, and by so many persons, as to exclude all supposition


error in the observer, a law of nature is established; and so long
as this law is received as such, the assertion that on any particular
occasion the cause A took place and yet the effect B did not follow,
_without any counteracting cause_, must be disbelieved. In fact, as
he winds up this part of the argument by saying: "We cannot admit
a proposition as a law of nature, and yet believe a fact in real
contradiction to it. We must disbelieve the alleged fact, or believe
that we were mistaken in admitting the supposed law."(1) Mr. Mill
points out, however, that, in order that any alleged fact should be
contradictory to a law of causation, the allegation must be not simply
that the cause existed without being followed by the effect, but that
this happened in the absence of any adequate counteracting cause. "Now,
in the case of an alleged miracle, the assertion is the exact opposite
of this. It is, that the effect was defeated, not in the absence, but in
consequence of a counteracting cause, namely, a direct interposition
of an act of the will of some being who has power over nature; and in
particular of a Being, whose will being assumed to have endowed all the
causes with the powers by which they produce their effects, may well
be supposed able to counteract them."(2) A miracle, then, is no
contradiction to the law of cause and effect; it is merely a new effect
supposed to be introduced by the introduction of a new cause; "of the
adequacy of that cause _if present,_(3) there can be no doubt; and the
only antecedent improbability which can be ascribed to the miracle is
the improbability that any such cause existed." Mr. Mill then continues,
resuming his criticism on Hume's argument:


"All, therefore, which Hume has made out, and this he must be considered
to have made out, is that (at least in the imperfect state of our
knowledge of natural agencies, which leaves it always possible that some
of the physical antecedents may have been hidden from us,) no evidence
can prove a miracle to any one who did not previously believe the
existence of a being or beings with supernatural power; or who believes
himself to have full proof that the character of the Being whom he
recognizes is inconsistent with his having seen fit to interfere on the
occasion in question." Mr. Mill proceeds to enlarge on this conclusion.
"If we do not already believe in supernatural agencies, no miracle can
prove to us their existence. The miracle itself, considered merely as an
extraordinary fact, may be satisfactorily certified by our senses or
by testimony; but nothing can ever prove that it is a miracle: there is
still another possible hypothesis, that of its being the result of some
unknown natural cause: and this possibility cannot be so completely shut
out as to leave no alternative but that of admitting the existence and
intervention of a being superior to nature. Those, however, who
already believe in such a being have two hypotheses to choose from,
a supernatural, and an unknown natural agency; and they have to judge
which of the two is the most probable in the particular case. In
forming this judgment, an important element of the question will be the
conformity of the result to the laws of the supposed agent; that is, to
the character of the Deity as they conceive it. But, with the knowledge
which we now possess of the general uniformity of the course of nature,
religion, following in the wake of science, has been compelled to
acknowledge the government of the universe as


being on the whole carried on by general laws, and not by special
interpositions. To whoever holds this belief, there is a general
presumption against any supposition of divine agency not operating
through general laws, or, in other words, there is an antecedent
improbability in every miracle, which, in order to outweigh it, requires
an extraordinary strength of antecedent probability derived from the
special circumstances of the case."(1) Mr. Mill rightly considers that
it is not more difficult to estimate this than in the case of other
probabilities. "We are seldom, therefore, without the means (when the
circumstances of the case are at all known to us) of judging how far it
is likely that such a cause should have existed at that time and place
without manifesting its presence by some other marks, and (in the case
of an unknown cause) without having hitherto manifested its existence
in any other instance. According as this circumstance, or the falsity
of the testimony, appears more improbable, that is, conflicts with an
approximate generalization of a higher order, we believe the testimony,
or disbelieve it; with a stronger or weaker degree of conviction,
according to the preponderance: at least until we have sifted the
matter further."(2) This is precisely Hume's argument weakened by the
introduction of reservations which have no cogency.

"We have wished to avoid interrupting Mr. Mill's train of reasoning
by any remarks of our own, and have, therefore, deferred till now the
following observations regarding his criticism on Hume's argument.

In reducing Hume's celebrated doctrine to the very plain proposition
that whatever is contradictory to a complete induction is incredible,
Mr. Mill in no way


diminishes its potency against miracles; and he does not call that
proposition "harmless" in reference to its bearing on miracles, as Dr.
Farrar evidently supposes, but merely in opposition to the character of
a recondite and "dangerous heresy" assigned by dismayed theologians to
so obvious and simple a principle. The proposition, however, whilst it
reduces Hume's doctrine in the abstract to more technical terms, does
not altogether represent his argument. Without asserting that experience
is an absolutely infallible guide, Hume maintains that--" A wise man
proportions his belief to the evidence. In such conclusions as are
founded on an infallible experience, he expects the event with the last
degree of assurance, and regards his past experience as a full proof of
the future existence of that event. In other cases he proceeds with more
caution, he weighs the opposite experiments: he considers which side is
supported by the greater number of experiments: to that side he inclines
with doubt and hesitation; and when at last he fixes his judgment,
the evidence exceeds not what we properly call _probability_.
All probability, then, supposes an opposition of experiments and
observations, where the one side is found to overbalance the other, and
to produce a degree of evidence proportioned to the superiority. "(l)
After elaborating this proposition, Hume continues: "A miracle is
a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable
experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle,
from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from
experience can possibly be imagined. Why is it more than probable that
all men must die; that lead


cannot, of itself, remain suspended in the air; that fire consumes wood,
and is extinguished by water; unless it be that these events are found
agreeable to the laws of nature, and there is required a violation of
these laws, or, in other words, a miracle, to prevent them? Nothing is
esteemed a miracle if it ever happen in the common course of nature.
It is no miracle that a man seemingly in good health should die on
a sudden; because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any
other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle
that a dead man should come to life; because that has never been
observed in any age or country. There must, therefore, be an uniform
experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not
merit that appellation. And as an uniform experience amounts to a proof,
there is here a direct and full _proof_, from the nature of the fact,
against the existence of any miracle; nor can such a proof be destroyed,
or the miracle rendered credible, but by an opposite proof which is
superior. The plain consequence is, (and it is a general maxim worthy of
our attention), 'That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle,
unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more
miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish: and even in
that case there is a mutual destruction of arguments, and the superior
only gives us an assurance suitable to that degree of force which
remains after deducting the inferior.' When any one tells me that he saw
a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself whether
it be more probable that this person should either deceive or be
deceived, or that the fact which he relates should really have happened.
I weigh the one miracle against the


other; and according to the superiority which 1 discover, I pronounce my
decision, and always reject the greater miracle. If the falsehood of
his testimony would be more miraculous than the event which he relates,
then, and not till then, can he pretend to command my belief or

The ground upon which Mr. Mill admits that a miracle may not be
contradictory to complete induction is that it is not an assertion that
a certain cause was not followed by a certain effect, but an allegation
of the interference of an adequate counteracting cause. This does not,
however, by his own showing, remove a miracle from the action of
Hume's principle, but simply modifies the nature of the antecedent
improbability. Mr. Mill qualifies his admission regarding the effect
of the alleged counteracting cause, by the all-important words "if
present;" for, in order to be valid, the reality of the alleged
counteracting cause must be established, which is impossible, therefore
the allegations fall to the ground. No one knows better than Mr. Mill
that the assertion of a Personal Deity working miracles, upon which a
miracle is allowed for a moment to come into court, cannot be proved,
and, therefore, that it cannot stand in opposition to complete induction
which Hume takes as his standard.

In admitting that Hume has made out, that no evidence can prove a
miracle to any one who does not previously believe in a being of
supernatural power willing to work miracles, Mr. Mill concedes
everything to Hume, for his only limitation is based upon a supposition
of mere personal belief in something which is not capable of proof, and
which belief, therefore, is not


more valid than any other purely imaginary hypothesis. The belief may
seem substantial to the individual entertaining it, but, not being
capable of proof, it cannot have weight with others, or in any way
affect the Value of evidence in the abstract. That mere individual
belief, apart from proof, should thus be advanced in limitation of a
logical principle, seems to us most unwarranted, and at the most it can
only be received as a statement of what practically takes place amongst
illogical reason ers.

The assumption of a Personal Deity working miracles is, in fact,
excluded by Hume's argument, and, although Mr. Mill apparently overlooks
the fact, Hume has not only anticipated but refuted the reasoning which
is based upon it. In the succeeding chapter on a Particular Providence
and a Future State, he directly disposes of such an assumption, but he
does so with equal effect also in the Essay which we are discussing.
Taking an imaginary miracle as an illustration, he argues: "Though the
being to whom the miracle is ascribed be in this case Almighty, it
does not, upon that account, become a whit more probable; since it is
impossible for us to know the attributes or actions of such a Being,
otherwise than from the experience which we have of his productions in
the usual course of nature. This still reduces us to past observation,
and obliges us to compare the instances of the violation of truth in the
testimony of men, with those of the violation of the laws of nature by
miracles, in order to judge which of them is most likely and probable.
As the violations of truth are more common in the testimony concerning
religious miracles than in that concerning any other matter of fact,
this must diminish very much the authority of the former testimony, and


make us form a general resolution never to lend any attention to it,
with whatever specious pretence it may be covered."(1) A person who
believes anything contradictory to a complete induction merely on
the strength of an assumption which is incapable of proof is simply
credulous, but such an assumption cannot affect the real evidence for
that thing.

The argument of Paley against Hume is an illustration of the reasoning
suggested by Mr. Mill. Paley alleges the interposition of a Personal
Deity in explanation of miracles, but he protests that he does not
assume the attributes of the Deity or the existence of a future state in
order to _prove_ their reality. "That reality," he admits, "always
must be proved by evidence. We assert only that in miracles adduced in
support of revelation there is not such antecedent improbability as no
testimony can surmount." His argument culminates in the short statement:
"In a word, once believe that there is a God" (i.e., a Personal God
working miracles), "and miracles are not incredible."(2) We have already
quoted Hume's refutation of this reasoning, and we may at once proceed
to the final argument by which Paley endeavours to overthrow Hume's
doctrine, and upon which he mainly rests his case.

"But the short consideration," he says, "which, independently of every
other, convinces me that there is no solid foundation in Mr. Hume's
conclusion, is the following: When a theorem is proposed to a
mathematician, the first thing he does with it is to try it upon a
simple case, and if it produces a false result, he is sure that there


must be some mistake in the demonstration. Now, to proceed in this way
with what may be called Mr. Hume's theorem. If twelve men, whose probity
and good sense I had long known, should seriously and circumstantially
relate to me an account of a miracle wrought before their eyes, and in
which it was impossible that they should be deceived; if the governor
of the country, hearing a rumour of this account, should call these men
into his presence, and offer them a short proposal, either to confess
the imposture or submit to be tied up to a gibbet; if they should
refuse with one voice to acknowledge that there existed any falsehood
or imposture in the case; if this threat was communicated to them
separately, yet with no different effect; if it was at last executed; if
I myself saw them, one after another, consenting to be racked, burned,
or strangled, rather than give up the truth of their account,--still, if
Mr. Hume's rule be my guide, I am not to believe them. Now I undertake
to say that there exists not a sceptic in the world who would not
believe them, or who would defend such incredulity."(1)

It is obvious that this reasoning, besides being purely hypothetical, is
utterly without cogency against Hume's doctrine. In the first place,
it is clear that no assertion of any twelve men would be sufficient to
overthrow a law of nature, which is the result of a complete induction,
and in order to establish the reality of a miracle or the occurrence
on one occasion of an unprecedented effect, from any cause, not in
accordance with natural law, no smaller amount of evidence would suffice
than would serve to refute the complete induction. The allegation of
such an intervening cause as a Personal


Deity working miracles is excluded as opposed to a complete induction.
So long as we maintain the law, we are necessarily compelled to reject
any evidence which contradicts it. We cannot at the same time believe
the contradictory evidence, and yet assert the truth of the law.
The specific allegation, moreover, is completely prohibited by
the Scriptural admission that miracles are also performed by other
supernatural beings in opposition to the Deity. The evidence of the
twelve men, however, simply amounts to a statement that they saw, or
fancied that they saw, a certain occurrence in contradiction to the law,
but that which they actually saw was only an external phenomenon, the
real nature of which is a mere inference, and an inference which, from
the necessarily isolated position of the miraculous phenomenon, is
neither supported by other instances capable of forming a complete
counter induction, nor by analogies within the order of nature.1 The
bare inference from an occurrence supposed to have been witnessed by
twelve men is all that is opposed to the law of nature, which is based
upon a complete induction, and it is, therefore, incredible.

If we proceed to examine Paley's "simple case" a little more closely,
however, we find that not only is it utterly inadmissible as a
hypothesis, but that as an illustration of the case of Gospel miracles
it is completely devoid of relevancy and argumentative force. The only
point which gives a momentary value to the supposed instance is the
condition attached to the account of the miracle related by the twelve
men, that not only was it wrought before their eyes, but that it was one
"in which it was impossible that they should be deceived." Now


this qualification of infallibility on the part of the twelve witnesses
is as incredible as the miracle which they are supposed to attest. The
existence of twelve men incapable of error or mistake is as opposed to
experience as the hypothesis of a miracle in which it is impossible for
the twelve men to be deceived is contradictory to reason. The exclusion
of all error in the observation of the actual occurrence and its
antecedents and consequences, whose united sum constitutes the miracle,
is an assumption which deprives the argument of all potency. It cannot
be entertained. On the other hand, the moment the possibility of error
is admitted, the reasoning breaks down, for the probability of error on
the part of the observers, either as regards the external phenomena,
or the inferences drawn from them, being so infinitely greater than the
probability of mistake in the complete induction, we must unquestionably
hold by the law and reject the testimony of the twelve men.

It need scarcely be said that the assertion of liability to error on
the part of the observers by no means involves any insinuation of wilful
"falsehood or imposture in the case." It is quite intelligible that
twelve men might witness an occurrence which might seem to them and
others miraculous,--but which was susceptible of a perfectly natural
explanation,--and truthfully relate what they believed to have seen, and
that they might, therefore, refuse "with one voice to acknowledge that
there existed any falsehood or imposture in the case," even although the
alternative might be death on a gibbet. This, however, would in no way
affect the character of the actual occurrence. It would not convert a
natural, though by them inexplicable, phenomenon into a miracle. Their
constancy in adhering to the account they had


given would merely bear upon the truth of their own statements, and the
fact of seeing them "one after another consenting to be racked, burned,
or strangled, rather than give up the truth of their account," would not
in the least justify our believing in a miracle. Even martyrdom cannot
transform imaginations into facts. The truth of a narrative is
no guarantee for the correctness of an inference. It seems almost
incredible that arguments like these should for so many years have been
tolerated in the text-book of a University.

As regards the applicability of Paleys illustration to the Gospel
miracles, the failure of his analogy is complete. We shall presently see
the condition of the people amongst whom these miracles are supposed to
have occurred, and that, so far from the nature of the phenomena, and
the character of the witnesses, supporting the inference that it was
impossible that the observers could have been deceived, there is every
reason for concluding with certainty that their ignorance of natural
laws, their proneness to superstition, their love of the marvellous, and
their extreme religious excitement, rendered them peculiarly liable to
incorrectness in the observation of the phenomena, and to error in
the inferences drawn from them. We shall likewise see that we have no
serious and circumstantial accounts of those miracles from eye-witnesses
of whose probity and good sense we have any knowledge, but that, on
the contrary, the narratives of them which we possess were composed by
unknown persons, who were not eyewitnesses at all, but wrote very long
after the events related, and in that mythic period "in which reality
melted into fable, and invention unconsciously trespassed on the
province of history." The proposition: "That


there is satisfactory evidence that many, professing to be original
witnesses of the Christian miracles, passed their lives in labours,
dangers, and sufferings, voluntarily undergone in attestation of the
accounts which they delivered, and solely in consequence of their belief
of these accounts; and that they also submitted, from the same motives,
to new rules of conduct," is made by Paley the argument of the first
nine chapters of his work, as the converse of the proposition, that
similar attestation of other miracles cannot be produced, is of the
following two. This shows the importance which he attaches to the point;
but, notwithstanding, even if he could substantiate this statement, the
cause of miracles would not be one whit advanced.

We have freely quoted these arguments in order to illustrate the real
position of miracles; and no one who has seriously considered the matter
can doubt the necessity for very extraordinary evidence, even to
render the report of such phenomena worthy of a moment's attention. The
argument for miracles, however, has hitherto proceeded upon the merest
assumption, and, as we shall further see, the utmost that they can
do who support miracles, under the fatal disadvantage of being
contradictory to uniform experience, is to refer to the alleged
contemporaneous nature of the evidence for their occurrence, and to the
character of the supposed witnesses. Mr. Mill has ably shown the serious
misapprehension of so many writers against Hume's "Essay on Miracles,"
which has led them to what he calls "the extraordinary conclusion,
that nothing supported by credible testimony ought ever to be
disbelieved."(1) In regard to historical facts, not contradictory to all


experience, simple and impartial testimony may be sufficient to warrant
belief, but even such qualities as these can go but a very small way
towards establishing the reality of an occurrence which is opposed to
complete induction.(1) It is admitted that the evidence requisite to
establish the reality of a supernatural Divine Revelation of doctrines
beyond human reason, and comprising in its very essence such stupendous
miracles as the Incarnation, Resurrection, and Ascension, must be
miraculous. The evidence for the miraculous evidence, which is scarcely
less astounding than the contents of the Revelation itself, must,
logically, be miraculous also, for it is not a whit more easy to prove
the reality of an evidential miracle than of a dogmatic miracle. It
is evident that the resurrection of Lazarus, for instance, is as
contradictory to complete induction as the resurrection of Jesus. Both
the Supernatural Religion, therefore, and its supernatural evidence
labour under the fatal disability of being antecedently incredible.



Let us now, however, proceed to examine the evidence for the reality of
miracles, and to inquire whether they are supported by such an amount of
testimony as can in any degree outweigh the reasons which, antecedently,
seem to render them incredible. It is undeniable that belief in the
miraculous has gradually been dispelled, and that, as a general rule,
the only miracles which are now maintained are limited to brief and
distant periods of time. Faith in their reality, once so comprehensive,
does not, except amongst a certain class, extend beyond the miracles of
the New Testament and a few of those of the Old,(1) and the countless
myriads of ecclesiastical


and other miracles, for centuries devoutly and implicitly believed, are
now commonly repudiated, and have sunk into discredit and contempt. The
question is inevitably suggested how so much can be abandoned and the
remnant still be upheld.

As an essential part of our inquiry into the value of the evidence for
miracles, we must endeavour to ascertain whether those who are said to
have witnessed the supposed miraculous occurrences were either
competent to appreciate them aright, or likely to report them without
exaggeration. For this purpose, we must consider what was known of the
order of nature in the age in which miracles are said to have taken
place, and what was the intellectual character of the people amongst
whom they are reported to have been performed. Nothing is more
rare, even amongst intelligent and cultivated men, than accuracy of
observation and correctness of report, even in matters of sufficient
importance to attract vivid attention, and in which there is no special
interest unconsciously to bias the observer. It will scarcely be denied,
however, that in persons of fervid imagination, and with a strong
natural love of the marvellous, whose minds are not only unrestrained
by specific knowledge, but predisposed by superstition towards
false conclusions, the probability of inaccuracy and exaggeration is


increased. If we add to this such a disturbing element as religious
excitement, inaccuracy, exaggeration, and extravagance are certain to
occur. The effect of even one of these influences, religious feeling,
in warping the judgment, is admitted by one of the most uncompromising
supporters of miracles. "It is doubtless the tendency of religious
minds," says Dr. Newman, "to imagine mysteries and wonders where there
are none; and much more, where causes of awe really exist, will they
unintentionally mis-state, exaggerate, and embellish, when they set
themselves to relate what they have witnessed or have heard;" and he
adds: "and further, the imagination, as is well known, is a fruitful
cause of apparent miracles."(1) We need not offer any evidence that the
miracles which we have to examine were witnessed and reported by persons
exposed to the effects of the strongest possible religious feeling and
excitement, and our attention may, therefore, be more freely directed to
the inquiry how far this influence was modified by other circumstances.
Did the Jews at the time of Jesus possess such calmness of judgment and
sobriety of imagination as to inspire us with any confidence in accounts
of marvellous occurrences, unwitnessed except by them, and limited to
their time, which contradict all knowledge and all experience? Were
their minds sufficiently enlightened and free from superstition to
warrant our attaching weight to their report of events of such an
astounding nature? and were they themselves sufficiently impressed with
the exceptional character of


any apparent supernatural and miraculous interference with the order of

Let an English historian and divine, who will be acknowledged as no
prejudiced witness, bear testimony upon some of these points. "Nor is
it less important," says the late Dean Milman, "throughout the early
history of Christianity, to seize the spirit of the times. Events which
appear to us so extraordinary, that we can scarcely conceive that
they should either fail in exciting a powerful sensation, or ever be
obliterated from the popular remembrance, in their own day might pass
off as of little more than ordinary occurrence. During the whole life of
Christ, and the early propagation of the religion, it must be borne
in mind that they took place in an age, and among a people, which
superstition had made so familiar with what were supposed to be
preternatural events, that wonders awakened no emotion, or were speedily
superseded by some new demand on the ever-ready belief. The Jews of
that period not only believed that the Supreme Being had the power
of controlling the course of nature, but that the same influence was
possessed by multitudes of subordinate spirits, both good and evil.
Where the pious Christian of the present day would behold the direct
agency of the Almighty, the Jews would invariably have interposed an
angel as the author or ministerial agent in the wonderful transaction.
Where the Christian moralist would condemn the fierce passion, the
ungovernable lust, or the inhuman temper, the Jew discerned the workings
of diabolical possession. Scarcely a malady was endured, or crime
committed, but it was traced to the operation of one of these myriad
daemons, who watched every opportunity


of exercising their malice in the sufferings and the sins of men."(1)

Another English divine, of certainly not less orthodoxy, but of
much greater knowledge of Hebrew literature, bears similar testimony
regarding the Jewish nation at the same period. "Not to be more
tedious, therefore, in this matter," (regarding the Bath Kol, a Jewish
superstition,)" let two things only be observed: I. That the nation,
under the second Temple, was given to magical arts beyond measure;
and, II. That it was given to an easiness of believing all manner of
delusions beyond measure."(2) And in another place: "It is a disputable
case, whether the Jewish nation were more mad with superstition in
matters of religion, or with superstition in curious arts:--I. There was
not a people upon earth that studied or attributed more to dreams than
they. II. There was hardly any people in the whole world that more used,
or were more fond of, amulets, charms, mutterings, exorcisms, and all
kinds of enchantments. We might here produce innumerable instances."(3)
We shall presently see that these statements are far from being

No reader of the Old Testament can fail to have been struck by the
singularly credulous fickleness of the Jewish mind. Although claiming
the title of the specially selected people of Jehovah, the Israelites
exhibited a constant and inveterate tendency to forsake his service for
the worship of other gods. The mighty "signs and wonders" which God is
represented as incessantly working


on their behalf, and in their sight, had apparently no effect upon
them. The miraculous even then had, as it would seem, already lost all
novelty, and ceased, according to the records, to excite more than mere
passing astonishment. The leaders and prophets of Israel had a perpetual
struggle to restrain the people from "following after" heathen deities,
and whilst the burden of the Prophets is one grand denunciation of the
idolatry into which the nation was incessantly falling, the verdict of
the historical books upon the several kings and rulers of Israel proves
how common it was, and how rare even the nominal service of Jehovah.
At the best the mind of the Jewish nation only after long and slow
progression, attained the idea of a perfect monotheism, but added to the
belief in Jehovah the recognition of a host of other gods, over whom
it merely gave him supremacy.(1) This is apparent even in the first
commandment: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me;" and the
necessity for such a law received its illustration from a people who are
represented as actually worshipping the golden calf, made for them by
the complaisant Aaron, during the very time that the great Decalogue
was being written on the Mount by his colleague Moses.(2) It is not,
therefore, to be wondered at that, at a later period, and throughout
patristic days, the gods of the Greeks and other heathen nations were so
far gently treated, that, although repudiated as Deities,


they were recognized as Demons. In the Septuagint version of the Old
Testament, where "idols" are spoken of in the Hebrew, the word is
sometimes translated "demons;" as, for instance, Psalm xcvi. 5 is
rendered: "For all the gods of the nations are demons."(l) The national
superstition betrays itself in this and many other passages of this
version, which so well represented the views of the first ages of the
Church that the Fathers regarded it as miraculous. Irenæus relates how
Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, brought seventy of the elders of the Jews
together to Alexandria in order to translate the Hebrew Scriptures into
Greek, but fearing that they might agree amongst themselves to conceal
the real meaning of the Hebrew, he separated them, and commanded each
to make a translation. When the seventy translations of the Bible were
completed and compared, it was found that, by the inspiration of God,
the very same words and the very same names from beginning to end had
been used by them all.(2) The same superstition is quite as clearly
expressed in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul, for instance, speaking
of things sacrificed to idols, says: "But (I say) that the things which
the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I
would not that ye should be partakers with


demons. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons; ye
cannot partake of the Lord's table, and of the table of demons."(l)

The apocryphal Book of Tobit affords some illustration of the opinions
of the more enlightened Jews during the last century before the
commencement of the Christian era.(2) The angel Raphael prescribes,
as an infallible means of driving a demon out of man or woman so
effectually that it should never more come back, fumigation with the
heart and liver of a fish.(3) By this exorcism the demon Asmodeus, who
from love of Sara, the daughter of Raguel, has strangled seven husbands
who attempted to marry her,(4) is overcome, and flies into "the
uttermost parts of Egypt," where the angel binds him.(5) The belief in
demons, and in the necessity of exorcism, is so complete that the author
sees no incongruity in describing the angel Raphael, who has been sent,
in answer to prayer, specially to help him, as instructing Tobias to
adopt such means of subjecting demons. Raphael is described in this book
as the angel of healing,(6) the office generally assigned to him by the
Fathers. He is also represented as saying of himself that he is one of
the seven holy angels which present the prayers of the saints to God.(7)


There are many curious particulars regarding angels and demons in
the Book of Enoch.(1) This work, which is quoted by the author of
the Epistle of Jude,(2) and by some of the Fathers, as inspired
Scripture,(3) was supposed by Tertullian to have survived the universal
deluge, or to have been afterwards transmitted by means of Noah, the
great-grandson of the author Enoch.(4) It may be assigned to about a
century before Christ, but additions were made to the text, and
more especially to its angelology, extending probably to after the
commencement of our era.(5) It undoubtedly represents views popularly
prevailing about the epoch in which we are interested. The author not
only relates the fall of the angels through love for the daughters of
men, but gives the names of twenty-one of them and of their leaders; of
whom Jequn was he who seduced the holy angels, and Ashbeêl it was who
gave them evil counsel and corrupted them.(6) A third, Gadreel,(7) was
he who seduced Eve. He also taught to the children of men the use and
manufacture of all murderous weapons, of coats of mail, shields,


swords, and of all the implements of death. Another evil angel, named
Pênêmuê, taught them many mysteries of wisdom. He instructed men in
the art of writing with paper [--Greek--] and ink, by means of which, the
author remarks, many fall into sin even to the present day. Kaodejâ,
another evil angel, taught the human race all the wicked practices of
spirits and demons,(1) and also magic and exorcism.(2) The offspring of
the fallen angels and of the daughters of men were giants, whose height
was 3000 ells;(3) of these are the demons working evil upon earth.(4)
Azazel taught men various arts: the making of bracelets and ornaments;
the use of cosmetics, the way to beautify the eyebrows; precious stones,
and all dye-stuffs and metals; whilst other wicked angels instructed
them in all kinds of pernicious knowledge.(5) The elements and all the
phenomena of nature are controlled and produced by the agency of angels.
Uriel is the angel of thunder and earthquakes; Raphael, of the spirits
of men; Raguel is the angel who executes vengeance on the world and the
stars; Michael is set over the best of mankind, i.e., over the people
of Israel;(6) Saraqâel, over the souls of the children of men, who are
misled by the spirits of sin; and Gabriel is over serpents and over
Paradise, and over the Cherubim.(7) Enoch is shown the mystery of
all the operations of nature, and the action of the elements, and he
describes the spirits which guide them, and control the thunder and
lightning and the winds; the spirit of the seas, who curbs them with his
might, or tosses them forth and scatters them through the mountains of
the earth; the


spirit of hoar frost, and the spirit of hail, and the spirit of snow.
There are, in fact, special spirits set over every phenomenon of
nature--frost, thaw, mist, rain, light, and so on.(1) The heavens and
the earth are filled with spirits. Raphael is the angel set over all the
diseases and wounds of mankind, Gabriel over all powers, and Fanuel over
the penitence and the hope of those who inherit eternal life.(2)
The decree for the destruction of the human race goes forth from the
presence of the Lord, because men know all the mysteries of the angels,
all the evil works of Satan, and all the secret might and power of those
who practise the art of magic, and the power of conjuring, and such
arts.(3) The stars are represented as animated beings.(4) Enoch sees
seven stars bound together in space like great mountains, and flaming
as with fire; and he inquires of the angel who leads him, on account of
what sin they are so bound? Uriel informs him that they are stars which
have transgressed the commands of the Highest God, and they are thus
bound until ten thousand worlds, the number of the days of their
transgression, shall be accomplished.(5) The belief that sun, moon, and
stars were living entities possessed of souls was generally held by the
Jews at the beginning of our era, along with Greek philosophers, and we
shall presently see it expressed by the Fathers. Philo Judaeus considers
the stars spiritual beings full of virtue and perfection,(6) and that to
them is granted lordship over other heavenly bodies, not absolute, but
as viceroys under the Supreme


Being.(1) We find a similar view regarding the nature of the stars
expressed in the Apocalypse,(2) and it constantly appears in the
Talmud and Targums.(3) An angel of the sun and moon is described in the
Ascensio Isaiae.(4)

We are able to obtain a full and minute conception of the belief
regarding angels and demons and their influence over cosmical phenomena,
as well as of other superstitions current amongst the Jews at the time
of Jesus,(5) from the Talmud, Targums, and other Rabbinical sources. We
cannot, however, do more, here, than merely glance at these voluminous
materials. The angels are perfectly pure spirits, without sin, and not
visible to mortal eyes. When they come down to earth on any mission,
they are clad in light and veiled in air. If, however, they remain
longer than seven days on earth, they become so clogged with the earthly
matter in which they have been immersed that they cannot again ascend to
the upper heavens.(6) Their multitude is innumerable,(7) and new angels
are every day created, who in succession praise


God and make way for others.(1) The expression, "host of heaven," is
a common one in the Old Testament, and the idea was developed into a
heavenly army. The first Gospel represents Jesus as speaking of "more
than twelve legions of angels."(2) Every angel has one particular
duty to perform, and no more; thus of the three angels who appeared
to Abraham, one was sent to announce that Sarah should have a son, the
second to rescue Lot, and the third to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.(3)
The angels serve God in the administration of the universe, and to
special angels are assigned the different parts of nature. "There is not
a thing in the world, not even a little herb, over which there is not
an angel set, and everything happens according to the command of these
appointed angels."(4) It will be remembered that the agency of angels
is frequently introduced in the Old Testament, and still more so in the
Septuagint version, by alterations of the text. One notable case of such
agency may be referred to, where the pestilence which is sent to punish
David for numbering the people is said to be caused by an angel, whom
David even sees. The Lord is represented as repenting of the evil, when
the angel was stretching forth his hand against Jerusalem, and bidding
him stay his hand after the angel had destroyed seventy thousand men
by the pestilence.(5) This theory of disease has prevailed until
comparatively recent times. The names of many of the superintending
angels are given, as, for instance: Jehuel


is set over fire, Michael over water, Jechiel over wild beasts, and
Anpiel over birds. Over cattle Hariel is appointed, and Samniel over
created things moving in the waters, and over the face of the earth;
Messannahel over reptiles, Deliel over fish. Ruchiel is set over the
winds, Gabriel over thunder and also over fire, and over the ripening of
fruit, Xuriel over hail, Makturiel over rocks, Alpiel over fruit-bearing
trees, Saroel over those which do not bear fruit, and Sandalfon over the
human race; and under each of these there are subordinate angels.(1) It
was believed that there were two angels of Death, one for those who died
out of the land of Israel, who was an evil angel, called Samaël (and at
other times Satan, Asmodeus, &c), and the other, who presided over the
dead of the land of Israel, the holy angel Gabriel; and under these
there was a host of evil spirits and angels.(2) The Jews were unanimous
in asserting that angels superintend the various operations of nature,
although there is some difference in the names assigned to these
angels.(3) The Sohar on Numbers states that "Michael, Gabriel, Nuriel,
Raphael are set over the four elements, water, fire, air, earth."(4) We
shall presently sec how general this belief regarding angels was amongst
the Fathers, but it is also expressed in the New Testament. In the
Apocalypse there appears an angel


who has power over fire,(1) and in another place four angels have
power to hurt the earth and the sea.(2) The angels were likewise the
instructors of men, and communicated knowledge to the Patriarchs. The
angel Gabriel taught Joseph the seventy languages of the earth.(3) It
appears, however, that there was one language--the Syriac--which the
angels do not understand, and for this reason men were not permitted
to pray for things needful, in that tongue.(4) Angels are appointed as
princes over the seventy nations of the world; but the Jews consider
the angels set over Gentile nations merely demons.(6) The Septuagint
translation of Deuteronomy xxxii. 8 introduces the statement into the
Old Testament. Instead of the Most High, when he divided to the nations
their inheritance, setting the bounds of the people "according to the
number of the children of Israel," the passage becomes, "according to
the number of the angels of God" [--Greek--]. The number of the nations was
fixed at seventy, the number of the souls who went down into Egypt.(6)
The Jerusalem Targum on Genesis xi. 7, 8, reads as follows: "God spake
to the seventy angels which stand before him: Come, let us go down and
confound their language that they may not understand each other. And
the Word of the Lord appeared there (at Babel), with the seventy angels,
according to the seventy nations, and


each had the language of the people which was allotted to him, and the
record of the writing in his hand, and scattered the nations from thence
over the whole earth, in seventy languages, so that the one did not
understand what the other said."(l) Michael was the angel of the people
of Israel,(2) and he is always set in the highest place amongst the
angels, and often called the High Priest of Heaven.(3) It was believed
that the angels of the nations fought in heaven when their allotted
peoples made war on earth. We see an allusion to this in the Book of
Daniel,(4) and in the Apocalypse there is "war in heaven; Michael and
his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought, and his
angels."(5) The Jews of the time of Jesus not only held that there
were angels set over the nations, but also that each individual had
a guardian angel.(6) This belief appears in several places in the New
Testament. For instance, Jesus is represented as saying of the children:
"For I say unto you that their angels do always behold the face of my
Father which is in heaven."(7) Again, in the Acts of the Apostles, when
Peter is delivered from prison by an angel, and comes to the house of
his friend, they will not believe the maid who had opened the gate
and seen him, but say: "It is his angel" [--Greek--].8 The passage in the
Epistle to the Hebrews will likewise be remembered, where it is said
of the angels: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth for
ministry on


account of them who shall be heirs of salvation."(1) There was at the
same time a singular belief that when any person went into the private
closet, the guardian angel remained at the door till he came out again,
and in the Talmud a prayer is given for strength and help under the
circumstances, and that the guardian angel may wait while the person is
there. The reason why the angel does not enter is that such places are
haunted by demons.(2)

The belief in demons at the time of Jesus was equally emphatic and
comprehensive, and we need scarcely mention that the New Testament is
full of references to them.(3) They are in the air, on earth, in the
bodies of men and animals, and even at the bottom of the sea.(4) They
are the offspring of the fallen angels who loved the daughters of
men.(5) They have wings like the angels, and can fly from one end of
heaven to another; they obtain a knowledge of the future, like the
angels, by listening behind the veil of the Temple of God in Heaven.(6)
Their number is infinite. The earth is so full of them that if man had
power to see he could not exist, on account of them; there are more
demons than men, and they are about as close as the earth thrown up out
of a newly-made grave.(7) It is stated that each man has

10,000 demons at his right hand, and 1,000 on his left, and the passage
continues: "The crush on the Sabbath in the Synagogue arises from them,
also the dresses of the Rabbins become so soon old and torn through
their rubbing; in like manner they cause the tottering of the feet. He
who wishes to discover these spirits must take sifted ashes and strew
them about his bed, and in the morning he will perceive their footprints
upon them like a cock's tread. If any one wish to see them, he must take
the afterbirth of a black cat, which has been littered by a first-born
black cat, whose mother was also a first-birth, burn and reduce it
to powder, and put some of it in his eyes, and he will see them."(l)
Sometimes demons assume the form of a goat. Evil spirits fly chiefly
during the darkness, for they are children of night.(2) For this reason
the Talmud states that men are forbidden to greet any one by night, lest
it might be a devil,(3) or to go out alone even by day, but much more by
night, into solitary places.(4) It was likewise forbidden for any man to
sleep alone in a house, because any one so doing would be seized by
the she-devil Lilith, and die.(5) Further, no man should drink water by
night on account of the demon Schafriri, the angel of blindness.(6)


An evil spirit descended on any one going into a cemetery by night.(1)
A necromancer is defined as one who fasts and lodges at night amongst
tombs in order that the evil spirit may come upon him.(2) Demons,
however, take more especial delight in foul and offensive places, and an
evil spirit inhabits every private closet in the world.(3) Demons haunt
deserted places, ruins, graves, and certain kinds of trees.(4) We find
indications of these superstitions throughout the Gospels. The possessed
are represented as dwelling among the tombs, and being driven by the
unclean spirits into the wilderness, and the demons can find no rest in
clean places.(5) Demons also frequented springs and fountains.(6) The
episode of the angel who was said to descend at certain seasons and
trouble the water of the pool of Bethesda, so that he who first stepped
in was cured of whatever disease he had, may be mentioned here in
passing, although the passage is not found in some of the older MSS.
of the fourth Gospel,(7) and it is argued by some that it is a later
interpolation. There were demons who hurt those who did not wash their
hands before meat. "Shibta is an evil spirit which sits upon men's hands
in the night; and if any touch his food with unwashen hands, that spirit
sits upon that food, and there is danger from it."(8)


The demon Asmodeus is frequently called the king of the devils,(1) and
it was believed that he tempted people to apostatize; he it was who
enticed Noah into his drunkenness, and led Solomon into sin.(2) He
is represented as alternately ascending to study in the School of
the heavenly Jerusalem, and descending to study in the school of
the earth.(3) The injury of the human race in every possible way was
believed to be the chief delight of evil spirits. The Talmud and other
Rabbinical writings are full of references to demoniacal possession,
but we need not enter into details upon this point, as the New Testament
itself presents sufficient evidence regarding it. Not only one evil
spirit could enter into a body, but many took possession of the same
individual. There are many instances mentioned in the Gospels, such as
Mary Magdalene, "out of whom went seven demons" [--Greek--],4 and the man
whose name was Legion, because "many demons" [--Greek--] were entered into
him.(5) Demons likewise entered into the bodies of animals, and in the
narrative to which we have just referred, the demons, on being expelled
from the man, request that they may be allowed to enter into the herd of
swine, which being permitted, "the demons went out of


the man into the swine, and the herd ran violently down the cliff into
the lake, and were drowned,"(1) the evil spirits, as usual, taking
pleasure only in the destruction and injury of man and beast. Besides
"possession," all the diseases of men and animals were ascribed to the
action of the devil and of demons.(2) In the Gospels, for instance, the
woman with a spirit of infirmity, who was bowed together and could not
lift herself up, is described as "bound by Satan," although the case was
not one of demoniacal possession.(3)

As might be expected from the universality of the belief in demons
and their influence over the human race, the Jews at the time of Jesus
occupied themselves much with the means of conjuring them. "There was
hardly any people in the whole world," we have already heard from a
great Hebrew scholar, "that more used, or were more fond of, amulets,
charms, mutterings, exorcisms, and all kinds of enchantments."(4)
Schoettgen bears similar testimony: "Cæterum judoeos magicis artibus
admodum deditos esse, notissimum est."(5) All competent scholars are
agreed upon this point, and the Talmud and Rabbinical writings are full
of it. The exceeding prevalence of such arts alone proves the existence
of the grossest ignorance and superstition.


There are elaborate rules in the Talmud with regard to dreams, both
as to how they are to be obtained and how interpreted.(1) Fasts were
enjoined in order to secure good dreams, and these fasts were not only
observed by the ignorant, but also by the principal Rabbins, and
they were permitted even on the Sabbath, which was unlawful in
other cases.(2) Indeed, the interpretation of dreams became a public
profession.(3) It would be impossible within our limits to convey an
adequate idea of the general superstition prevalent amongst the
Jews regarding things and actions lucky and unlucky, or the minute
particulars in regard to every common act prescribed for safety
against demons and evil influences of all kinds. Nothing was considered
indifferent or too trifling, and the danger from the most trivial
movements or omissions to which men were supposed to be exposed from
the malignity of evil spirits was believed to be great.(4) Amulets,
consisting of roots, or pieces of paper with charms written upon them,
were hung round the neck of the sick, and considered efficacious for
their cure. Charms, mutterings, and spells were commonly said over
wounds, against unlucky meetings, to make people sleep, to heal
diseases, and to avert enchantments.(5) The Talmud gives forms of
enchantments against mad dogs, for instance, against the demon of
blindness, and the like, as well as formulae for averting the evil eye,


mutterings over diseases.(1) So common was the practice of sorcery and
magic that the Talmud enjoins "that the senior who is chosen into
the Council ought to be skilled in the arts of astrologers, jugglers,
diviners, sorcerers, &c, that he may be able to judge of those who are
guilty of the same."(2) Numerous cases are recorded of persons destroyed
by means of sorcery.(3) The Jewish women were particularly addicted to
sorcery, and indeed the Talmud declares that they had generally fallen
into it.(4) The New Testament bears abundant testimony to the prevalence
of magic and exorcism at the time at which its books were written. In
the Gospels, Jesus is represented as arguing with the Pharisees, who
accuse him of casting out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.
"If I by Beelzebub cast out the demons [--Greek--] by whom do your sons
cast them out? Therefore let them be your judges."(5)

The thoroughness and universality of the Jewish popular belief in
demons and evil spirits and in the power of magic is exhibited in the
ascription to Solomon, the monarch in whom the greatness and glory
of the nation attained its culminating point, of the character of a
powerful magician. The most effectual forms of invocation and exorcism,
and the most potent spells of magic, were said to have been composed
by him, and thus the grossest superstition of the nation acquired the
sanction of their wisest king. Rabbinical writings are


never weary of enlarging upon the magical power and knowledge of
Solomon. He was represented as not only king of the whole earth, but
also as reigning over devils and evil spirits, and having the power
of expelling them from the bodies of men and animals, and also of
delivering people to them.(1) It was indeed believed that the two demons
Asa and Asael taught Solomon all wisdom and all arts.(2) The Talmud
relates many instances of his power over evil spirits, and amongst
others how he made them assist in building the Temple. Solomon desired
to have the help of the worm Schamir in preparing the stones for the
sacred building, and he conjured up a devil and a she-devil to inform
him where Schamir was to be found. They referred him to Asmodeus, whom
the King craftily captured, and by whom he was informed that Schamir is
under the jurisdiction of the Prince of the Seas, and Asmodeus further
told him how he might be secured. By his means the Temple was built,
but, from the moment it was destroyed, Schamir for ever disappeared.(3)
It was likewise believed that one of the Chambers of the second Temple
was built by a magician called Parvah, by means of magic.(4) The Talmud
narrates many stories of miracles performed by various Rabbins.(6)

The Jewish historian, Josephus, informs us that, amongst


other gifts, God bestowed upon King Solomon knowledge of the way to
expel demons, an art which is useful and salutary for mankind. He
composed incantations by which diseases are cured, and he left behind
him forms of exorcism by which demons may be so effectually expelled
that they never return, a method of cure, Josephus adds, which is of
great efficacy to his own day. He himself had seen a countryman of his
own, named Eliezer, release people possessed of devils in the presence
of the Emperor Vespasian and his sons, and of his army. He put a ring
containing one of the roots prescribed by Solomon to the nose of the
demoniac, and drew the demon out by his nostrils, and, in the name of
Solomon, and reciting one of his incantations, he adjured it to return
no more. In order to demonstrate to the spectators that he had the power
to cast out devils, Eliezer was accustomed to set a vessel full of water
a little way off, and he commanded the demon as he left the body of the
man to overturn it, by which means, says Josephus, the skill and wisdom
of Solomon were made very manifest.(1) Jewish Rabbins generally were
known as powerful exorcisers, practising the art according to the
formulae of their great monarch. Justin Martyr reproaches his Jewish
opponent, Tryphon, with the fact that his countrymen use the same art as
the Gentiles, and exorcise with fumigations and charms [--Greek--], and he
shows the common belief in demoniacal influence "when he asserts that,
while Jewish exorcists cannot overcome demons by such means, or even
by exorcising them in the name of their Kings, Prophets, or Patriarchs,
though he admits that they might do so if they adjured them in the name
of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and


Jacob, yet Christians at once subdued demons by exorcising them in the
name of the Son of God.(1) The Jew and the Christian were quite agreed
that demons were to be exorcised, and merely differed as to the formula
of exorcism. Josephus gives an account of a root potent against evil
spirits. It is called Baaras, and is flame-coloured, and in the evening
sends out flashes like lightning. It is certain death to touch it,
except under peculiar conditions. One mode of securing it is to dig down
till the smaller part of the root is exposed, and then to attach the
root to a dog's tail. When the dog tries to follow its master from the
place, and pulls violently, the root is plucked up, and may then be
safely handled, but the dog instantly dies, as the man would have done
had he plucked it up himself. When the root is brought to sick people,
it at once expels demons.(2) According to Josephus, demons are the
spirits of the wicked dead; they enter into the bodies of the living,
who die, unless succour be speedily obtained.(3) This theory, however,
was not general, demons being commonly considered the offspring of the
fallen angels and of the daughters of men.

The Jewish historian gives a serious account of the preternatural
portents which warned the Jews of the approaching fall of Jerusalem, and
he laments the infatuation of the people, who disregarded these Divine
denunciations. A star in the shape of a sword, and also a comet, stood
over the doomed city for the space of a whole year. Then, at the feast
of unleavened bread, before the rebellion of the Jews which preceded the
war, at the ninth hour of the night a


great light shone round the altar and the Temple, so that for half
an hour it seemed as though it were brilliant daylight. At the same
festival other supernatural warnings were given. A heifer, as she was
led by the high-priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the
Temple; moreover, the eastern gate of the inner court of the Temple,
which was of brass, and so ponderous that twenty men had much difficulty
in closing it, and which was fastened by heavy bolts descending deep
into the solid stone floor, was seen to open of its own accord, about
the sixth hour of the night. The ignorant considered some of these
events good omens, but the priests interpreted them as portents of evil.
Another prodigious phenomenon occurred, which Josephus supposes would be
considered incredible were it not reported by those who saw it, and
were the subsequent events not of sufficient importance to merit such
portents: before sunset, chariots and troops of soldieis in armour
were seen among the clouds, moving about, and surrounding cities. And
further, at the feast of Pentecost, as the priests were entering the
inner court of the Temple to perform their sacred duties, they felt an
earthquake, and heard a great noise, and then the sound as of a great
multitude saying: "Let us remove hence."(l) There is not a shadow of
doubt in the mind of Josephus as to the reality of any of these wonders.

If we turn to patristic literature, we find, everywhere, the same
superstitions and the same theories of angelic agency and demoniacal
interference in cosmical phenomena. According to Justin Martyr, after
God had made the world and duly regulated the elements and the rotation
of the seasons, he committed man and all


things under heaven to the care of angels. Some of these angels,
however, proved unworthy of this charge, and, led away by love of the
daughters of men, begat children, who are the demons who have corrupted
the human race, partly by magical writings [--Greek--] and partly by fears
and punishments, and who have introduced wars, murders, and other evils
amongst them, which are ignorantly ascribed by poets to God himself.(1)
He considers that demoniacs are possessed and tortured by the souls of
the wicked dead,(2) and he represents evil spirits as watching to seize
the soul at death.(3) The food of the angels is manna.(4) The angels,
says Clement of Alexandria, serve God in the administration of earthly
affairs.(5) The host of angels and of gods [--Greek--] is placed under
subjection to the Logos.(6) Presiding angels are distributed over
nations and cities, and perhaps are also deputed to individuals,(7) and
it is by their agency, either visible or invisible, that God gives all
good things.(8) He accuses the Greeks of plagiarizing their miracles
from the Bible, and he argues that if certain powers do move the winds
and distribute showers, they are agents subject to God.(9) Clement
affirms that the Son gave philosophy to the Greeks by means of the
inferior angels,(10) and argues that it is absurd to attribute it to the
devil.(11) Theophilus of Antioch, on the other hand, says that the Greek
poets were inspired by demons.(12) Athenagoras states, as one of the


points of belief among Christians, that a multitude of angels and
ministers are distributed and appointed by the Logos to occupy
themselves about the elements, and the heavens, and the universe and the
things in it, and the regulating of the whole.(1) For it is the duty of
the angels to exercise providence over all that God has created; so that
God may have the universal care of the whole, but the several parts be
ministered to by the angels appointed over them. There is freedom of
will amongst the angels as among human beings, and some of the angels
abused their trust, and fell through love of the daughters of men, of
whom were begotten those who are called Giants.(2) These angels who have
fallen from heaven busy themselves about the air and the earth; and the
souls of the Giants,(3) which are the demons that roam about the world,
work evil according to their respective natures.(4) There are powers
which exercise dominion over matter, and by means of it, and more
especially one, who is opposed to God. This Prince of matter exerts
authority and control in opposition to the good designed by God.(5)
Demons are greedy for sacrificial odours and the blood of the victims,
which they lick; and they influence the multitude to idolatry by
inspiring thoughts and visions which seem to come from idols and
statues.(6) According to Tatian, God made everything which is good, but
the wickedness of demons perverts


the productions of nature for bad purposes, and the evil in these is due
to demons and not to God.(1) None of the demons have bodies; they are
spiritual, like fire or air, and can only be seen by those in whom the
Spirit of God dwells. They attack men by means of lower forms of matter,
and come to them whenever they are diseased, and sometimes they cause
disorders of the body, but when they are struck by the power of the word
of God, they flee in terror, and the sick person is healed.(2) Various
kinds of roots, and the relations of bones and sinews, are the material
elements through which demons work.(3) Some of those who are called gods
by the Greeks, but are in reality demons, possess the bodies of certain
men, and then by publicly leaving them they destroy the disease they
themselves had created, and the sick are restored to health.(4) Demons,
says Cyprian of Carthage, lurk under consecrated statues, and inspire
false oracles, and control the lots and omens.(5) They enter into
human bodies and feign various maladies in order to induce men to offer
sacrifices for their recovery that they may gorge themselves with the
fumes, and then they heal them. They are really the authors of the
miracles attributed to heathen deities.(6)

Tertullian enters into minute details regarding angels and demons.
Demons are the offspring of the fallen angels, and their work is the
destruction of the human race. They inflict diseases and other painful
calamities upon our bodies, and lead astray our souls. From their


wonderful subtleness and tenuity they find their way into both parts of
our composition. Their spirituality enables them to do much harm to men,
for being invisible and impalpable they appear rather in their effects
than in their action. They blight the apples and the grain while in the
flower, as by some mysterious poison in the breeze, and kill them in the
bud, or nip them before they are ripe, as though in some inexpressible
way the tainted air poured forth its pestilential breath. In the same
way demons and angels breathe into the soul and excite its corruptions,
and especially mislead men by inducing them to sacrifice to false
deities in order that they may thus obtain their peculiar food of fumes
of flesh and blood. Every spirit, whether angel or demon, has wings;
therefore they are everywhere in a moment. The whole world is but one
place to them, and all that takes place anywhere they can know and
report with equal facility. Their swiftness is believed to be divine
because their substance is unknown, and thus they seek to be considered
the authors of effects which they merely report, as, indeed, they
sometimes are of the evil, but never of the good. They gather
intimations of the future from hearing the Prophets read aloud, and set
themselves up as rivals of the true God by stealing His divinations.
From inhabiting the air, and from their proximity to the stars and
commerce with the clouds, they know the preparation of celestial
phenomena, and promise beforehand the rains which they already feel
coming. They are very kind in reference to the cure of diseases,
Tertullian ironically says, for they first make people ill, and then,
by way of performing a miracle, they prescribe remedies either novel or
contrary to common experience, and then, removing the cause, they are


believed to have healed the sick.(1) If any one possessed by a demon be
brought before a tribunal, Tertullian affirms that the evil spirit, when
ordered by a Christian, will at once confess that he is a demon.(2) The
fallen angels were the discoverers of astrology and magic.(3) Unclean
spirits hover over waters in imitation of the brooding (gestatio) of the
Holy Spirit in the beginning, as, for instance, over dark fountains and
solitary streams, and cisterns in baths and dwelling-houses, and similar
places, which are said to carry one off (rapere), that is to say, by the
force of the evil spirit.(4) The fallen angels disclosed to the world
unknown material substances, and various arts, such as metallurgy, the
properties of herbs, incantations, and interpretation of the stars;
and to women specially they revealed all the secrets of personal
adornment.(5) There is scarcely any man who is not attended by a
demon; and it is well known that untimely and violent deaths, which are
attributed to accidents, are really caused by demons.(6) Those who go
to theatres may become specially accessible to demons. There is the
instance, the Lord is witness (domino teste), of the woman who went to a
theatre and came back possessed by a demon; and, on being cast out, the
evil spirit replied that he had a right to act as he did, having found
her within his limits. There was another case, also well known, of a
woman who, at night, after having been to a theatre, had a vision of a


winding sheet (linteum), and heard the name of the tragedian whom she
had seen mentioned with reprobation and, five days after, the woman
was dead.(1) Origen attributes augury and divination through animals
to demons. In his opinion certain demons, offspring of the Titans or
Giants, who haunt the grosser parts of bodies and the unclean places of
the earth, and who, from not having earthly bodies, have some power of
divining the future, occupy themselves with this. They secretly enter
the bodies of the more brutal and savage animals, and force them to make
flights or indications of divination to lead men away from God. They
have a special leaning to birds and serpents, and even to foxes and
wolves, because the demons act better through these in consequence of
an apparent analogy in wickedness between them.(2) It is for this reason
that Moses, who had either been taught by God what was similar in
the nature of animals and their kindred demons, or had discovered it
himself, prohibited as unclean the particular birds and animals most
used for divination. Therefore each kind of demon seems to have an
affinity with a certain kind of animal. They are so wicked that demons
even assume the bodies of weasels to foretell the future.(3) They feed
on the blood and odour of the victims sacrificed in idol temples.(4)
The spirits of the wicked dead wander about sepulchres and sometimes
for ages haunt particular houses, and other places.(5) The prayers of
Christians drive demons out of men, and from places where they have


taken up their abode, and even sometimes from the bodies of animals,
which are frequently injured by them.(1) In reply to a statement of
Celsus that we cannot eat bread or fruit, or drink wine or even water
without eating and drinking with demons, and that the very air we
breathe is received from demons, and that, consequently, we cannot
inhale without receiving air from the demons who are set over the
air,(2) Origen maintains, on the contrary, that the angels of God, and
not demons, have the superintendence of such natural phenomena, and
have been appointed to communicate all these blessings. Not demons, but
angels, have been set over the fruits of the earth, and over the birth
of animals, and over all things necessary for our race.(3) Scripture
forbids the eating of things strangled because the blood is still in
them, and blood, and more especially the fumes of it, is said to be
the food of demons. If we ate strangled animals, we might have demons
feeding with us,(4) but in Origen's opinion a man only eats and drinks
with demons when he eats the flesh of idol sacrifices, and drinks the
wine poured out in honour of demons.(6) Jerome states the common belief
that the air is filled with demons.(6) Chrysostom says that angels are
everywhere in the atmosphere.(7)

Not content, however, with peopling earth and air with angels and
demons, the Fathers also shared the opinion common to Jews(8) and
heathen philosophers, that the heavenly bodies were animated beings.
After fully discussing the question, with much reference to Scripture,


Origen determines that sun, moon, and stars are living and rational
beings, illuminated with the light of knowledge by the wisdom which is
the reflection [--Greek--] of eternal light. They have free will, and as it
would appear from a passage in Job (xxv. 5) they are not only liable to
sin, but actually not pure from the uncleanness of it. Origen is careful
to explain that this has not reference merely to their physical part,
but to the spiritual; and he proceeds to discuss whether their souls
came into existence at the same time with their bodies or existed
previously, and whether, at the end of the world, they will be released
from their bodies or will cease from giving light to the world. He
argues that they are rational beings because their motions could not
take place without a soul. "As the stars move with so much order and
method," he says, "that under no circumstances whatever does their
course seem to be disturbed, is it not the extreme of absurdity to
suppose that so much order, so much observance of discipline and method
could be demanded from or fulfilled by irrational beings?"(1) They
possess life and reason, he decides, and he proves from Scripture that
their souls were given to them not at the creation of their bodily
substance, but like those of men implanted strictly from without, after
they were made.(2) They are "subject to vanity" with the rest of the
creatures, and "wait for the manifestation of the sons of God."(3)
Origen is persuaded


that sun, moon, and stars pray to the Supreme Being through His only
begotten Son.(1) To return to angels, however, Origen states that the
angels are not only of various orders of rank, but have apportioned to
them specific offices and duties. To Raphael, for instance, is assigned
the task of curing and healing; to Gabriel the management of wars; to
Michael the duty of receiving the prayers and the supplications of men.
Angels are set over the different churches, and have charge even of the
least of their members. These offices were assigned to the angels by
God agreeably to the qualities displayed by each.(2) Elsewhere, Origen
explains that it is necessary for this world that there should be
angels set over beasts and over terrestrial operations, and also angels
presiding over the birth of animals, and over the propagation and growth
of shrubs, and, again, angels over holy works, who eternally teach
men the perception of the hidden ways of God, and knowledge of divine
things; and he warns us not to bring upon ourselves those angels who are
set over beasts, by leading an animal life, nor those which preside over
terrestrial works, by taking delight in fleshly and mundane things,
but rather to study how we may approximate to the companionship of the
Archangel Michael, to whose duty of presenting the prayers of the saints
to God he here adds the office of presiding over medicine.(3) It is
through the ministry of angels that the water-springs in fountains and
running streams refresh the earth, and that the air we breathe is


kept pure.(1) In the "Pastor" of Hermas, a work quoted by the Fathers
as inspired Scripture, which was publicly read in the churches, which
almost secured a permanent place in the New Testament canon, and which
appears after the canonical books in the Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest
extant MS. of the New Testament, mention is made of an angel who has
rule over beasts, and whose name is Hegrin.(2) Jerome also quotes an
apocryphal work in which an angel of similar name is said to be set over
reptiles, and in which fishes, trees, and beasts are assigned to the
care of particular angels.(3)

Clement of Alexandria mentions without dissent the prevailing belief
that hail-storms, tempests, and similar phenomena do not occur merely
from material disturbance, but also are caused by the anger of demons
and evil angels.(4) Origen states that while angels superintend all the
phenomena of nature, and control what is appointed for our good, famine,
the blighting of vines and fruit trees, and the destruction of beasts
and of men, are, on the other hand, the personal works(5) of demons,
they, as public executioners, receiving at certain times authority to
carry into effect divine decrees.(6) "We have already quoted similar
views expressed by Tertullian,(7) and the universality and permanence
of such opinions may be illustrated by the fact that, after the lapse
of many centuries, we find St. Thomas Aquinas as solemnly affirming that
disease and tempests are the direct work of the devil;(8) indeed, this
belief prevailed


throughout the middle ages until very recent times. The Apostle Peter,
in the Recognitions of Clement, informs Clement that when God made the
world He appointed chiefs over the various creatures, even over the
trees and the mountains and springs and rivers, and over everything in
the universe. An angel was set over the angels, a spirit over spirits, a
star over the stars, a demon over the demons, and so on.(1) He provided
different offices for all His creatures, whether good or bad,(2) but
certain angels having left the course of their proper order, led men
into sin and taught them that demons could, by magical invocations,
be made to obey man.(3) Ham was the discoverer of the art of magic.(4)
Astrologers suppose that evils happen in consequence of the motions
of the heavenly bodies, and represent certain climacteric periods as
dangerous, not knowing that it is not the course of the stars, but the
action of demons that regulates these things.(5) God has committed the
superintendence of the seventy-two nations into which He has divided the
earth to as many angels.(6) Demons insinuate themselves into the bodies
of men, and force them to fulfil their desires;(7) they sometimes appear
visibly to men, and by threats or promises endeavour to lead them into
error; they can transform themselves into whatever forms they please.(8)
The distinction between what is spoken by the true God through the
prophets or by visions, and that which is delivered by demons, is this:
that what proceeds from the former is always true, whereas that which is
foretold by demons is not always true.(9) Lactantius says that when the


number of men began to increase, fearing that the Devil should corrupt
or destroy them, God sent angels to protect and instruct the human race,
but the angels themselves fell beneath his wiles, and from being angels
they became the satellites and ministers of Satan. The offspring of
these fallen angels are unclean spirits, authors of all the evils which
are done, and the Devil is their chief. They are acquainted with the
future, but nob completely. The art of the magi is altogether supported
by these demons, and at their invocation they deceive men with lying
tricks, making men think they see things which do not exist. These
contaminated spirits wander over all the earth, and console themselves
by the destruction of men. They fill every place with frauds and
deceits, for they adhere to individuals, and occupy whole houses, and
assume the name of genii, as demons are called in the Latin language,
and make men worship them. On account of their tenuity and impalpability
they insinuate themselves into the bodies of men, and through their
_viscera_ injure their health, excite diseases, terrify their souls with
dreams, agitate their minds with phrensies, so that they may by these
evils drive men to seek their aid.(1) Being adjured in the name of God,
however, they leave the bodies of the possessed, uttering the greatest
howling, and crying out that they are beaten, or are on fire.(2) These
demons are the inventors of astrology, divination, oracles, necromancy,
and the art of magic.(3) The universe is governed by God through the
medium of angels. The demons have a fore-knowledge of the purposes of
God, from having been His


ministers, and interposing in what is being done, they ascribe the
credit to themselves.(1) The sign of the cross is a terror to demons,
and at the sight of it they flee from the bodies of men. When sacrifices
are being offered to the gods, if one be present who bears on his
forehead the sign of the cross, the sacred rites are not propitious
(_sacra nullo modo litant_), and the oracle gives no reply.(2) Eusebius,
like all the Fathers, represents the gods of the Greeks and other
heathen nations as merely wicked demons. Demons, he says, whether they
circulate in the dark and heavy atmosphere which encircles our sphere,
or inhabit the cavernous dwellings which exist within it, find charms
only in tombs and in the sepulchres of the dead, and in impure and
unclean places. They delight in the blood of animals, and in the putrid
exhalations which rise from their bodies, as well as in earthly vapours.
Their leaders, whether as inhabitants of the upper regions of the
atmosphere, or plunged in the abyss of hell, having discovered that
the human race had deified and offered sacrifices to men who were dead,
promoted the delusion in order to savour the blood which flowed.and the
fumes of the burning flesh. They deceived men by the motions conveyed
to idols and statues, by the oracles they delivered, and by healing
diseases, with which, by the power inherent in their nature, they had
before invisibly smitten bodies, and which they removed by ceasing to
torture them. These demons first introduced magic amongst men.(3) We may
here refer to the account of a miracle which Eusebius seriously quotes,
as exemplifying another occasional


function of the angels. The heretical Bishop Natalius having in vain
been admonished by God in dreams, was at last lashed through the whole
of a night by holy angels, till he was brought to repentance, and, clad
in sackcloth and covered with ashes, he at length threw himself at the
feet of Zephyrinus, then Bishop of Rome, pointing to the marks of the
scourges which he had received from the angels, and implored to be again
received into communion with the Church.(1) Augustine says that demons
inhabit the atmosphere as in a prison, and deceive men, persuading them
by their wonderful and false signs, or doings, or predictions, that
they are gods.(2) He considers the origin of their name in the sacred
Scriptures worthy of notice: they are called [--Greek--] in Greek on
account of their knowledge.(3) By their experience of certain signs
which are hidden from us, they can read much more of the future, and
sometimes even announce beforehand what they intend to do. Speaking of
his own time, and with strong expressions of assurance, Augustine says
that not only Scripture testifies that angels have appeared to men with
bodies which could not only be seen but felt, but what is more, it is a
general report, and many have personal experience of it, or have learned
it from those who have knowledge of the fact, and of whose truth there
is no doubt, that satyrs and fauns, generally called "Incubi," have
frequently perpetrated their peculiar wickedness;(4) and also that
certain demons called by the Gauls _Dusii_ every day attempt and effect
the same uncleanness, as


witnesses equally numerous and trustworthy assert, so that it would be
impertinence to deny it.(1)

Lactantius, again, ridicules the idea that there can be antipodes, and
he can scarcely credit that there can be any one so silly as to believe
that there are men whose feet are higher than their heads, or that grain
and trees grow downwards, and rain, snow, and hail fall upwards to the
earth. After jesting at those who hold such ridiculous views, he points
out that their blunders arise from supposing that the heaven is round,
and the world, consequently, round like a ball, and enclosed within it.
But if that were the case, it must present the same appearance to all
parts of heaven, with mountains, plains, and seas, and consequently
there would be no part of the earth uninhabited by men and animals.
Lactantius does not know what to say to those who, having fallen into
such an error, persevere in their folly (_stultitia_), and defend one
vain thing by another, but sometimes he supposes that they philosophize
in jest, or knowingly defend falsehoods to display their ingenuity.
Space alone prevents his proving that it is impossible for heaven to be
below the earth.(2) St. Augustine, with equal boldness, declares that
the stories told about the antipodes, that is to say, that there are men
whose feet are against our footsteps, and upon whom the sun rises
when it sets to us, are not to be believed. Such an assertion is not
supported by any historical evidence,


but rests upon mere conjecture based on the rotundity of the earth. But
those who maintain such a theory do not consider that even if the earth
be round, it does not follow that the opposite side is not covered with
water. Besides, if it be not, why should it be inhabited, seeing that on
the one hand it is in no way possible that the Scriptures can lie, and
on the other, it is too absurd (_nimisque absurdum est_) to affirm that
any men can have traversed such an immensity of ocean to establish the
human race there from that one first man Adam.(1)

Clement of Rome had no doubt of the truth of the story of the
Phoenix,(2) that wonderful bird of Arabia and the adjoining countries,
which lives 500 years; at the end of which time, its dissolution being
at hand, it builds a nest of spices, in which it dies. From the decaying
flesh, however, a worm is generated, which being strengthened by the
juices of the bird, produces feathers and is transformed into a Phoenix.
Clement adds that it then flies away with the nest containing the bones
of its defunct parent to the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and in full
daylight, and in the sight of all men, it lays them on the altar of the
sun. On examining their registers, the priests find that the bird
has returned precisely at the completion of the 500 years. This
bird, Clement considers, is an emblem of the Resurrection.(1) So does
Tertullian, who repeats the story with equal confidence.(2) It is
likewise referred to in the Apostolic Constitutions.(3) Celsus quotes
the narrative in his work against Christianity as an instance of the
piety of irrational creatures, and although Origen, in reply, while
admitting that the story is indeed recorded, puts in a cautious "if it
be true," he proceeds to account for the phenomenon on the ground
that God may have made this isolated creature, in order that men might
admire, not the bird, but its creator.(4) Cyril of Jerusalem, likewise,
quotes the story from Clement.(5) The author of the almost canonical
Epistle of Barnabas, explaining the typical meaning of the code of Moses
regarding clean and unclean animals which were or were not to be eaten,
states as a fact that the hare annually increases the number of its
_foramina_, for it has as many as the years it lives.(6) He also
mentions that the hyena changes its sex every year, being alternately
male and female.(7) Tertullian also points out as a recognized fact the
annual change of sex of the hyena, and he adds: "I do not mention the
stag, since itself is the witness of its own age; feeding on the
serpent it languishes into youth from the working of the poison."(8) The


theory of the Church, which elevated man into the supreme place in the
universe, and considered creation in general to be solely for his use,
naturally led to the misinterpretation of all cosmical phenomena. Such
spectacles as eclipses and comets were universally regarded as awful
portents of impending evil, signs of God's anger, and forerunners of
national calamities.(1) We have already referred to the account given
by Josephus of the portents which were supposed to announce the coming
destruction of the Holy City, amongst which were a star shaped like a
sword, a comet, and other celestial phenomena. Volcanoes were considered
openings into hell, and not only does Ter-tullian hold them to be so,
but he asks who will not deem these punishments sometimes inflicted upon
mountains as examples of the judgments which menace the wicked.(2)


We have given a most imperfect sketch of some of the opinions and
superstitions prevalent at the time of Jesus, and when the books of
the New Testament were written. These, as we have seen, continued with
little or no modification throughout the first centuries of our era.
It must, however, be remembered that the few details we have given,
omitting most of the grosser particulars, are the views deliberately
expressed by the most educated and intelligent part of the community,
and that it would have required infinitely darker colours adequately to
have portrayed the dense ignorance and superstition of the mass of the
Jews. It is impossible to receive the report of supposed marvellous
occurrences from an age and people like this without the gravest
suspicion. Even so thorough a defender of miracles as Dr. Newman admits
that: "Witnesses must be not only honest, but competent also; that is,
such as have ascertained the facts which they attest, or who report
after examination;"l and although the necessities of his case oblige him
to assert that "the testimony of men of science and general knowledge"
must not be required, he admits, under the head of "deficiency of
examination," that--"Enthusiasm, ignorance, and habitual credulity


are defects which no number of witnesses removes."(1) We have shown how
rank were these "defects" at the commencement of the Christian era, and
among the chief witnesses for Christianity. Miracles which spring from
such a hot-bed of superstition are too natural in such a soil to be
objects of surprise and, in losing their exceptional character, their
claims upon attention are proportionately weakened if not altogether
destroyed. Preternatural interference with the affairs of life and the
phenomena of nature was the rule in those days, not the exception, and
miracles, in fact, had lost all novelty, and through familiarity had
become degraded into mere commonplace. The Gospel miracles were not
original in their character, but were substantially mere repetitions of
similar wonders well known amongst the Jews, or commonly supposed to
be of daily occurrence even at that time. In fact, the idea of such
miracles, in such an age and performed amongst such a people, as the
attestation of a supernatural Revelation, may with singular propriety
be ascribed to the mind of that period, but can scarcely be said to bear
any traces of the divine. Indeed, anticipating for a moment a part of
our subject regarding which we shall have more to say hereafter, we may
remark that, so far from being original either in its evidence or form,
almost every religion which has been taught in the world has claimed the
same divine character as Christianity, and has surrounded the person and
origin of its central figure with the same supernatural mystery. Even
the great heroes of history, long before our era, had their immaculate
conception and miraculous birth. There can be no doubt that the writers
of the New Testament shared the popular superstitions of the Jews.


We have already given more than one instance of this, and now we have
only to refer for a moment to one class of these superstitions, the
belief in demoniacal possession and origin of disease, involving clearly
both the existence of demons and their power over the human race. It
would be an insult to the understanding of those who are considering
this question to pause here to prove that the historical books of the
New Testament speak in the clearest and most unmistakable terms of
actual demoniacal possession. Now, what has become of this theory of
disease? The Archbishop of Dublin is probably the only one who asserts
the reality of demoniacal possession formerly and at the present day,(1)
and in this we must say that he is consistent. Dean Milman, on the other
hand, who spoke with the enlightenment of the 19th century, "has no
scruple in avowing _his_ opinion on the subject of demoniacs to be that
of Joseph Mede, Lardner, Dr. Mead, Paley, and all the learned modern
writers. It was a kind of insanity.... and nothing was more probable
than that lunacy should take the turn and speak the language of the
prevailing superstition of the times."(2) The Dean, as well as "all the
learned modern writers" to whom he refers, felt the difficulty, but in
seeking to evade it they sacrifice the Gospels. They overlook the fact
that the writers of these narratives not only themselves adopt "the
prevailing superstition of the times," but represent Jesus as doing
so with equal completeness. There is no possibility, for instance, of
evading such statements as those in the miracle of the country of the
Gadarenes, where the objectivity of the demons is so fully recognized


on being cast out of the man, they are represented as requesting to be
allowed to go into the herd of swine, and being permitted by Jesus to do
so, the entry of the demons into the swine is at once signalized by
the herd running violently down the cliff into the lake, and being
drowned.(1) Archbishop Trench adopts no such ineffectual evasion,
but rightly objects: "Our Lord Himself uses language which is not
reconcilable with any such explanation. He everywhere speaks of
demoniacs not as persons of disordered intellects, but as subjects and
thralls of an alien spiritual might; He addresses the evil spirit as
distinct from the man: 'Hold thy peace and come out of him;'" and he
concludes that "our idea of Christ's absolute veracity, apart from the
value of the truth which He communicated, forbids us to suppose that He
could have spoken as He did, being perfectly aware all the while that
there was no corresponding reality to justify the language which He
used."(2) The Dean, on the other hand, finds "a very strong reason,"
which he does not remember to have seen urged with sufficient force,
"which may have contributed to induce our Lord to adopt the current
language on the point. The disbelief in these spiritual influences was
one of the characteristics of the unpopular sect of the Sadducees. A
departure from the common language, or the endeavour to correct this
inveterate error, would have raised an immediate outcry against Him from
His watchful and malignant adversaries as an unbelieving Sadducec."(3)
Such ascription of politic


deception for the sake of popularity might be intelligible in an
ordinary case, but when referred to the central personage of a Divine
Revelation, who is said to be God incarnate, it is perfectly astounding.
The Archbishop, however, rightly deems that if Jesus knew that the
Jewish belief in demoniacal possession was baseless, and that Satan did
not exercise such power over the bodies or spirits of men, there would
be in such language "that absence of agreement between thoughts and
words in which the essence of a lie consists."(1) It is difficult to
say whether the dilemma of the Dean or of the Archbishop is the
greater,--the one obliged to sacrifice the moral character of Jesus,
in order to escape the admission for Christianity of untenable
superstition, the other obliged to adopt the superstition in order
to support the veracity of the language. At least the course of the
Archbishop is consistent and worthy of respect. The attempt to eliminate
the superstitious diagnosis of the disease, and yet to preserve intact
the miraculous cure, is quite ineffectual.

Dr. Trench anticipates the natural question, why there are no demoniacs
now, if there were so many in those days,(2) and he is logically
compelled to maintain that there may still be persons possessed. "It
may well be a question, moreover," he says, "if an apostle or one with
apostolic discernment of spirits were to enter into a mad-house now,
how many of the sufferers there he might not recognize as possessed?"(3)
There can scarcely be a question upon the point at all, for such a
person issuing direct


from that period, without subsequent scientific enlightenment, would
most certainly pronounce them all, "possessed." It did not, however,
require an apostle, nor even one with apostolic discernment of spirits,
to recognize the possessed at that time. All those who are represented
as being brought to Jesus to be healed are described by their friends as
having a devil or being possessed, and there was no form of disease more
general or more commonly recognized by the Jews. For what reason has the
recognition of, and belief in, demoniacal possession passed away with
the ignorance and superstition which were then prevalent?

It is important to remember that the theory of demoniacal possession,
and its supposed cure by means of exorcism and invocations, was most
common among the Jews long before the commencement of the Christian era.
As casting out devils was the most common type of Christian miracles,
so it was the commonest belief and practice of the Jewish nation.
Christianity merely shared the national superstition, and changed
nothing but the form of exorcism. Christianity did not through a
"clearer perception of spirits," therefore, originate the belief in
demoniacal possession, nor first recognize its victims; nor did such
superior enlightenment accompany the superior morality of Christianity
as to detect the ignorant fallacy. In the Old Testament we find the most
serious evidence of the belief in demonology and witchcraft. The laws
against them set the example of that unrelenting severity with which
sorcery was treated for so many centuries. We read in Exodus xxii. 18:
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Levit. xix. 31: "Regard not
them which have familiar spirits, neither


seek after wizards, to be defiled by them." Levit. xx. 6: "And the soul
that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards to
go a-whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and
cut him off from among his people;" and verse 27: "A man also or a woman
that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put
to death; they shall stone them with stones; their blood shall be upon
them." Deut. xviii. 10: "There shall not be found among you any one
that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or an
enchanter, or a witch; 11. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar
spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer; 12. For all that do these things
are an abomination unto the Lord," &c. The passages which assert the
reality of demonology and witchcraft, however, are much too numerous to
permit their citation here. But not only did Christianity thus inherit
the long-prevalent superstition, but it transmitted it intact to
succeeding ages; and there can be no doubt that this demonology, with
its consequent and inevitable belief in witchcraft, sorcery, and magic,
continued so long to prevail throughout Christendom, as much through
the authority of the sacred writings and the teaching of the Church as
through the superstitious ignorance of Europe.

It would be impossible to select for illustration any type of the Gospel
miracles, whose fundamental principle,--belief in the reality, malignant
action, and power of demons, and in the power of man to control
them,--has received fuller or more permanent living acceptance from
posterity, down to very recent times, than the cure of disease ascribed
to demoniacal influence. The writings of the Fathers are full of the
belief; the social


history of Europe teems with it. The more pious the people, the more
firm was their conviction of its reality. From times antecedent to
Christianity, until medical science slowly came into existence and
displaced miracle cures by the relics of saints, every form of disease
was ascribed to demons. Madness, idiotcy, epilepsy, and every shape of
hysteria were the commonest forms of their malignity; and the blind, the
dumb, and the deformed were regarded as unquestionable victims of their
malice. Every domestic calamity, from the convulsions of a child to the
death of a cow, was unhesitatingly attributed to their agency. The more
ignorant the community, the greater the number of its possessed. Belief
in the power of sorcery, witchcraft, and magic was inherent in the
superstition, and the universal prevalence shows how catholic was the
belief in demoniacal influence. The practice of these arts is solemnly
denounced as sin in the New Testament and throughout Patristic
literature, and the church has in all ages fulminated against it. No
accusation was more common than that of practising sorcery, and no class
escaped from the fatal suspicion. Popes were charged with the crime,
and bishops were found guilty of it. St. Cyprian was said to have been
a magician before he became a Christian and a Father of the Church.(1)
Athanasius was accused of sorcery before the Synod of Tyre.(2) Not only
the illiterate but even the learned, in the estimation of their age,
believed in it. No heresy was ever persecuted with more unrelenting
hatred. Popes have issued bulls vehemently anathematising witches and
sorcerers, councils have proscribed them, ecclesiastical


courts have consigned tens of thousands of persons suspected of being
such to the stake, monarchs have written treatises against them and
invented tortures for their conviction, and every nation in Europe and
almost every generation have passed the most stringent laws against
them. Upon no point has there ever been greater unanimity of belief.
Church and State have vied with each other for the suppression of the
abominable crime. Every phenomenon of nature, every unwelcome occurrence
of social life, as well as every natural disease, has been ascribed to
magic and demons. The historical records of Europe are filled with
the deliberate trial and conviction, upon what was deemed evidence, of
thousands of sorcerers and witches. Hundreds have been found guilty
of exercising demoniacal influence over the elements, from Sopater
the philosopher, executed under Constantino for preventing, by adverse
winds, the arrival of corn ships at Constantinople, to Dr. Fian and
other witches horribly tortured and burnt for causing a stormy passage
on the return of James I. from Denmark.(1) Thousands of men and tens of
thousands of women have been done to death by every conceivable torment
for causing sickness or calamity by sorcery, or for flying through the
air to attend the witches' sabbath. When scepticism as to the reality of
the demoniacal powers of sorcery tardily began to arise, it was fiercely
reprobated by the Church as infidelity. Even so late as the 17th
century, a man like Sir Thomas Browne not only did not include the
belief amongst the vulgar errors which he endeavoured to expose, but on
the contrary wrote: "For my part, I have ever believed, and do now know
that there are

     1 Pitcairn's Criminal Trials of Scotland, i. pp. 213, 223.


witches. They that doubt of them, do not only deny them, but spirits;
and are obliquely, and upon consequence, a sort not of infidels, but
atheists."(1) In 1664 Sir Thomas Hale, in passing sentence of death
against two women convicted of being witches, declared that the reality
of witchcraft was undeniable, because "first, the Scriptures had
affirmed so much; and secondly, the wisdom of all nations had provided
laws against such persons, which is an argument of their confidence of
such a crime."(2) Even the 18th century was stained with the blood of
persons tortured and executed for sorcery.

Notwithstanding all this persistent and unanimous confirmation, we ask
again: What has now become of the belief in demoniacal possession and
sorcery? It has utterly disappeared. "Joseph Mede, Lardner, Dr. Mead,
Paley, and all the learned modern writers" with Dean Milinan, as we
have seen, explain it away, and such a theory of disease and elemental
disturbance is universally recognized to have been a groundless
superstition. The countless number of persons tormented and put to death
for the supposed crime of witchcraft and sorcery were mere innocent
victims to ignorance and credulity. Mr. Buckle has collected a mass of
evidence to show that "there is in every part of the world an intimate
relation between ignorance respecting the nature and proper treating of
a disease, and


the belief that such disease is caused by supernatural power, and is
to be cured by it."(1) At the commencement of our era every disease was
ascribed to the agency of demons simply because the nature of disease
was not understood, and the writers of the Gospels were not, in this
respect, one whit more enlightened than the Jews. The progress of
science, however, has not only dispelled the superstitious theory as
regards disease in our time; its effects are retrospective. Science
not only declares the ascription of disease to demoniacal possession or
malignity to be an idle superstition now, but it equally repudiates the
assumption of such a cause at any time. The diseases referred by the
Gospels, and by the Jews of that time, to the action of devils, exist
now, but they are known to proceed from purely physical causes. The same
superstition and medical ignorance would enunciate the same diagnosis
at the present day. The superstition and ignorance, however, have passed
away, and with them the demoniacal theory. In that day the theory was
as baseless as in this. This is the logical conclusion of every educated

It is obvious that, with the necessary abandonment of the theory of
"possession" and demoniacal origin of disease, the largest class of
miracles recorded in the Gospels is at once exploded. The asserted cause
of the diseases of this class, said to have been miraculously healed,
must be recognized to be a mere vulgar superstition, and the narratives
of such miracles, ascribing as they do in perfect simplicity distinct
objectivity to the supposed "possessing" demons, and reporting their
very words and actions, at once assume the character of mere imaginative
and fabulous writings based upon superstitious


tradition, and cannot be accepted as the sober and intelligent report
of eye-witnesses. We shall presently see how far this.inference is
supported by the literary evidence regarding the date and composition of
the Gospels.

The deduction, however, does not end here. It is clear that, this large
class of Gospel miracles being due to the superstition of an ignorant
and credulous age, the insufficiency of the evidence for any of the
other supposed miraculous occurrences narrated in the same documents
becomes at once apparent. Nothing but the most irrefragable testimony
could possibly warrant belief in statements of supernatural events which
contradict all experience, and are opposed to all science. When these
statements, however, are not only rendered, _à priori_, suspicious
by their proceeding from a period of the grossest superstition and
credulity, but it becomes evident that a considerable part of them is
due solely to that superstition and credulity, by which, moreover, the
rest may likewise be most naturally explained, it is obvious that they
cannot stand against the opposing conviction of invariable experience.
The force of the testimony is gone. We are far from using this language
in an offensive sense concerning the Gospel narratives, which, by
the simple faith of the writers, present the most noble aspect of
the occurrences of which superstition is capable. Indeed, viewed as
compositions gradually rising out of pious tradition, and representing
the best spirit of their times, the Gospels, even in ascribing such
miracles to Jesus, are a touching illustration of the veneration excited
by his elevated character. Devout enthusiasm surrounded his memory with
the tradition of the highest exhibitions of power within the range of
Jewish imagination,


and that these conceptions represent merely an idealized form of
prevalent superstition was not only natural but inevitable. We shall
hereafter fully examine the character of the Gospels, but it will be
sufficient here to point out that none of these writings lays claim to
any special inspiration, or in the slightest degree pretends to be more
than a human composition,(1) and subject to the errors of human history.


We have seen how incompetent those who lived at the time when the Gospel
miracles are supposed to have taken place were to furnish reliable
testimony regarding such phenomena; and the gross mistake committed in
regard to the largest class of these miracles, connected with demoniacal
possession, seems altogether to destroy the value of the evidence for
the rest, and to connect the whole, as might have been expected, with
the general superstition and ignorance of the period. It may be well to
inquire further, whether there is any valid reason for excepting any
of the miracles of Scripture from the fate of the rest, and whether,
in fact, there was any special "Age of Miracles" at all, round which a
privileged line can be drawn on any reasonable ground.

We have already pointed out that the kind of evidence which is supposed
to attest the Divine revelation of Christianity, so far from being
invented for the purpose, was so hackneyed, so to speak, as scarcely to
attract the


notice of the nation to which the revelation was, in the first instance,
addressed. Not only did the Old Testament contain accounts of miracles
of every one of the types related in the New, but most of them were
believed to be commonly performed both before and after the commencement
of the Christian era. That demons were successfully exorcised, and
diseases cured, by means of spells and incantations, was never
doubted by the Jewish nation. Satanic miracles, moreover, are not only
recognized throughout the Old and New Testaments, but formed a leading
feature of the Patristic creed. The early Christians were not more
ready than the heathen to ascribe every inexplicable occurrence to
supernatural agency, and the only difference between them was as to the
nature of that agency. The Jews and their heathen neighbours were too
accustomed to supposed preternatural occurrences to feel much surprise
or incredulity at the account of Christian miracles; and it is
characteristic of the universal superstition of the period that the
Fathers did not dream of denying the reality of Pagan miracles, but
merely attributed them to demons, whilst they asserted the Divine origin
of their own. The reality of the powers of sorcery was never questioned.
Every marvel and every narrative of supernatural interference with human
affairs seemed matter of course to the superstitious credulity of the
age. However much miracles are exceptions to the order of nature, they
have always been the rule in the history of ignorance. In fact, the
excess of belief in them throughout many centuries of darkness is fatal
to their claims to credence now. The Christian miracles are rendered
almost as suspicious from their place in a long sequence of similar
occurrences, as they are by being exceptions


to the sequence of natural phenomena. It would indeed be extraordinary
if whole cycles of miracles occurring before and since those of the
Gospels, and in connection with every religion, could be repudiated as
fables, and those alone maintained as genuine.

No attempt is made to deny the fact that miracles are common to all
times and to all religious creeds. Dr. Newman states amongst the
conclusions of his essay on the miracles of early ecclesiastical
history: "That there was no Age of Miracles, after which miracles
ceased; that there have been at all times true miracles and false
miracles, true accounts and false accounts; that no authoritative guide
is supplied to us for drawing the line between the two."(1) Dr. Mozley
also admits that morbid love of the marvellous in the human race "has
produced a constant stream of miraculous pretension in the world, which
accompanies man wherever he is found, and is a part of his mental
and physical history."(2) Ignorance and its invariable attendant,
superstition, have done more than mere love of the marvellous to produce
and perpetuate belief in miracles, and there cannot be any doubt that
the removal of ignorance always leads to the cessation of miracles.(3)
The Bampton lecturer proceeds: 'Heathenism had its running stream of
supernatural pretensions in the shape of prophecy, exorcism, and the
miraculous cures of diseases, which the temples of Esculapius recorded
with pompous display."(4) So far from the Gospel miracles being
original, and a presentation, for the first time, of phenomena until
then unknown


and unlikely to suggest themselves to the mind, "Jewish supernaturalism
was indeed going on side by side with our Lord's miracles."(1) Dr.
Mozley, however, rebuts the inference which has been drawn from this:
"That His miracles could not, in the very nature of the case, be
evidences of His distinctive teaching and mission, inasmuch as miracles
were common to Himself and His opponents," by the assertion that a very
marked distinction exists between the Gospel miracles and all others.(2)
He perfectly recognizes the consequence if such a distinction cannot
be clearly demonstrated. "The criticism, therefore, which _evidential_
miracles, or miracles which serve as evidence of a revelation, must come
up to, if they are to accomplish the object for which they are designed,
involves at the outset this condition,--that the evidence of such
miracles must be distinguishable from the evidences of this permanent
stream of miraculous pretension in the world; that such miracles must be
separated by an interval not only from the facts of the order of
nature, but also from the common running miraculous, which is the simple
offshoot of human nature. Can evidential miracles be inserted in this
promiscuous mass, so as not to be confounded with it, but to assert
their own truth and distinctive source? If they cannot there is an end
to the proof of a revelation by miracles: if they can, it remains to
see whether the Christian miracles are thus distinguishable, and whether
their nature, their object, and their evidence vindicate their claim to
this distinctive truth and Divine source."(3)

Now, regarding this distinction between Gospel and


other miracles, it must be observed that the religious feeling which
influenced the composition of the Scripture narratives of miracles
naturally led to the exclusion of all that was puerile or ignoble in the
traditions preserved regarding the Great Master. The elevated character
of Jesus afforded no basis for what was petty, and the devotion with
which he was regarded when the Gospels were written insured the noblest
treatment of his history within certain limits. We must, therefore,
consider the bare facts composing the miracles rather than the narrative
of the manner in which they are said to have been produced, in order
rightly to judge of the comparative features of different miracles. If
we take the case of a person raised from the dead, literary skill may
invest the account with more or less of dramatic interest and dignity,
but whether the main fact be surrounded with pathetic and picturesque
details,.as in the account of the raising of Lazarus in the fourth
Gospel, or the person be simply restored to life without them, it is the
fact of the resurrection which constitutes the miracle, and it is in the
facts alone that we must seek distinction, disregarding and distrusting
the accessories. In the one case the effect may be much more impressive,
but in the other the bare raising of the dead is not a whit less
miraculous. "We have been accustomed to read the Gospel narratives of
miracles with so much special veneration, that it is now difficult to
recognize how much of the distinction of these miracles is due to
the composition, and to their place in the history of Jesus. No other
miracles, or account of miracles, ever had such collateral advantages.
As works attributed to our sublimest Teacher, described with simple
eloquence and, especially in the case of those in


the fourth Gospel, with artistic perfection, and read generally with
reverential wonder untempered by a thought of criticism, these miracles
have seemed to be surrounded by a mystic halo certainly not emanating
from themselves. It must not be forgotten, therefore, that the
miracle lies in the bare act, and not in its dramatic arrangement. The
restoration of life to a dead man is the very same miracle whether it
be effected by the relics of a saint or by the word of an apostle. A
miracle is not antecedently more credible because of the outstretched
arm and word of command, than it is in the silence of the shrine. Being
supernatural, the real agency is not seen in either case, although the
human mind is more satisfied by the presentation of an apparent cause in
the one case, which seems to be absent in the other. In preferring the
former type, we are not only influenced by a more dramatic narrative,
but we select for belief the miracle from which we can unconsciously
eliminate more of the miraculous elements, by tracing it to a visible
natural cause which cannot be seen in the latter. The antecedent
incredibility of miracles, however, is not affected by literary skill,
and is independent of scenic effect.

The Archbishop of Dublin says: "Few points present greater difficulties
than the attempt to fix accurately the moment when these miraculous
powers were withdrawn from the Church;" and he argues that they were
withdrawn when it entered into what he calls its permanent state, and no
longer required "these props and strengthenings of the infant plant."(1)
That their retrocession was gradual, he considers natural, and he
imagines the fulness of Divine power as gradually waning as it was


subdivided, first among the Apostles, and then amongst the
ever-multiplying members of the Church, until by sub-division it became
virtually extinct, leaving as a substitute "the standing wonder of
a Church."(1) This, of course, is not argument, but merely the
Archbishop's fanciful explanation of a serious difficulty. The fact
is, however, that the Gospel miracles were preceded and accompanied
by others of the same type, and we may here merely mention exorcism of
demons, and the miraculous cure of disease, as popular instances;
they were also followed by a long succession of others, quite as well
authenticated, whose occurrence only became less frequent in proportion
as the diffusion of knowledge dispelled popular credulity. Even at the
present day a stray miracle is from time to time reported in outlying
districts, where the ignorance and superstition which formerly produced
so abundant a growth of them are not yet entirely dispelled.

Papias of Hierapolis narrates a wonderful story, according to Eusebius,
which he had heard from the daughters of the Apostle Philip, who lived
at the same time in Hierapolis: "For he relates that a dead man was
restored to life in his day."(2) Justin Martyr, speaking of his own
time, frequently asserts that Christians still receive the gift of
healing, of foreknowledge, and of prophecy,(3) and he points out to the
Roman Senate as a fact happening under their own observation, that many
demoniacs throughout all the world [--Greek--] and in their own city have


been healed and are healed, many of the Christian' men among is [--Greek--]
exorcising them in the name of Jesus Christ, subduing and expelling the
possessing demons out of the man, although all the other exorcists with
incantations and spells had failed to do so.(1) Theophilus of Antioch
likewise states that to his day demons are exorcised.(2) Irenæus in
the clearest manner claims for the Church of his time the continued
possession of the Divine [--Greek--] He contrasts the miracles of the
followers of Simon and Carpocrates, which he ascribes to magical
illusions, with those of Christians. "For they can neither give sight
to the blind," he continues, "nor to the deaf hearing, nor cast out all
demons, but only those introduced by themselves, if they can even do
that; nor heal the sick, the lame, the paralytic, nor those afflicted
in other parts of the body, as has been often done in regard to bodily
infirmity.... But so far are they from raising the

dead,--as the Lord raised them and the Apostles by prayer, and as
frequently in the brotherhood, when the whole Church in a place made
supplication with much fasting and prayer, the spirit of the dead was
constrained to return, and the man was freely restored in answer to the
prayers of the saints--that they do not believe this can possibly be
done."(3) Canon


Mozley, who desires for the purpose of his argument to weaken the
evidence of patristic belief in the continuance of miracles, says
regarding this last passage on raising the dead:--"But the reference is
so vague that it possesses but little weight as testimony."(1) We should
be sorry to think that the vice, which seems at present to characterize
the Church to which Dr. Mozley belongs, of making simple language
mean anything or nothing just as any one happens to wish, should be
introduced into critical or historical studies. The language of Irenæus
is vague only in so far as specific detailed instances are not given
of the miracles referred to; but no language could be more definite or
explicit to express the meaning of Irenæus, namely, the assertion that
the prayers of Christian communities had frequently restored the dead to
life. Eusebius, who quotes the passage, and who has preserved to us
the original Greek, clearly recognized this. He says, when making the
quotations: "In the second book of the same work he (Irenæus) testifies
that up to his time tokens of Divine and miraculous power remained in
some Churches,"(2) In the next chapter Irenæus further says:--"On
which account, also, his true disciples receiving grace from him, work
(miracles) in his name for the benefit of the rest of mankind, according
to the gift received from him by each of them. For some do certainly and
truly [--Greek--] cast out demons, so that frequently those very men who
have thus been cleansed from the evil spirits both


believe and are now in the church. And some have foreknowledge of future
occurrences, and visions, and prophetic utterances. Others heal the
sick by the imposition of hands and make them whole. Indeed, as we have
already stated, even the dead have been raised up, and have remained
with us for many years. And what more shall I say? It is not possible to
state the number of the gifts which the Church throughout the world has
received from God in the name of Jesus Christ, crucified under Pontius
Pilate, and which she each day employs for the benefit of the heathen,"

Tertullian speaks with the most perfect assurance of miracles occurring
in his day, and of the power of healing and of casting out devils still
possessed by Christians. In one place, for iustance, after asserting
the power which they have generally over demons, so that if a person
possessed by a devil be brought before one of the Roman tribunals, a
follower of Christ can at once compel the wicked spirit within him to
confess that he is a demon, even if he had before asserted himself to
be a God, he proceeds to say: "So at our touch and breathing, violently
affected by the contemplation and representation of those fires (of
hell) they (demons) also depart at our command out of bodies, reluctant
and complaining, and put to shame


in your presence."(1) He declares that although dreams are chiefly
inflicted upon us by demons, yet they are also sent by God, and indeed
"almost the greater part of mankind derive their knowledge concerning
God from visions."(2) He, elsewhere, states that he himself knows that a
brother was severely castigated by a vision the same night on which his
slaves had, without his knowledge, done something reprehensible.(3)
He narrates as an instance of the continued possession of spiritual
_charismata_ by Christians: "There is at this day among us a sister who
has the gift of revelations, which she receives in church amidst the
solemnities of the Lord's day by ecstasy in the spirit: she converses
with angels, and sometimes also with the Lord, and she both hears and
sees mysteries (_sacramenta_), and she reads the hearts of some men, and
prescribes medicines to those who are in need."(4) Tertullian goes on to
say that, after the people were dismissed from the Church, this sister
was in the regular habit of reporting what she had seen, and that
most diligent inquiries were made in order to test the truth of her
communications;(5) and after narrating a vision of a disembodied soul
vouchsafed to her, he states: "This is the vision, God being witness,


the Apostle(1) having foretold that such spiritual gifts should be in
the Church."(2) Further on Tertullian relates another story within his
own knowledge: "I know the case of a woman, born within the fold of the
Church, who was in the prime of life and beauty. After being but once,
and only a short time, married, having fallen asleep in peace, in the
interval before interment (sp.) when the presbyter began to pray as
she was being made ready for burial, at the first breath of prayer
she removed her hands from her sides, folded them in the attitude of
supplication, and again, when the last rites were over, restored them to
their former position."(3) He then mentions another story known amongst
them: that a dead body in a cemetery moved itself in order to make room
beside it for another body;(4) and then he remarks: "If similar cases
are also reported amongst the heathen, we conclude that God displays
signs of his power for the consolation of his own people, and as a
testimony to others."(5) Again, he mentions cases where Christians had
cured persons of demoniacal possession, and adds: "And how many men of
position (for we do not speak of the vulgar) have been delivered either
from devils or from diseases."(6) Tertullian


in the same place refers to the miracle of the "Thundering Legion,"(1)
and he exclaims: "When indeed have not droughts been removed by our
prayers and fastings."(2) Minucius Felix speaks of the casting out of
devils from sick persons by Christians in his own day, as a matter
of public notoriety even among Pagans.(3) St. Cyprian echoes the same
assertions.(4) He likewise mentions cases of miraculous punishment
inflicted upon persons who had lapsed from the Christian faith. One
of these, who ascended the Capitol to make denial of Christ, suddenly
became dumb after he had spoken the words.(6) Another, a woman, was
seized by an unclean spirit even at the baths, and bit with her own
teeth the impious tongue which had eaten the idolatrous food, or spoken
the words, and she shortly expired in great agony.(6) He likewise
maintains that Christians are admonished by God in dreams and by
visions, of which he mentions instances.(7) Origen claims for Christians
the power still to expel demons, and to heal diseases in the name
of Jesus,(8) and he states that he had seen many persons so cured of
madness and countless other evils, which could not be otherwise cured by
men or devils.(9) Lactantius repeatedly asserts the power of Christians
over demons; they make them flee from bodies when they adjure them in
the name of God.(10)

Passing over the numerous apocryphal writings of the early centuries of
our era, in which many miracles are


recorded, we find in the pages of Eusebius narratives of many miraculous
occurrences. Many miracles are ascribed to Narcissus, Bishop of
Jerusalem, of which Eusebius relates several. Whilst the vigils of the
great watch of the Passover were being kept, the oil failed, whereupon
Narcissus commanded that water from the neighbouring well should be
poured into the lamps. Having prayed over the water, it was changed
into oil, of which a specimen had been preserved until that time.(1)
On another occasion, three men having spread some vile slanders against
Narcissus, which they confirmed by an oath, and with imprecations upon
themselves of death by a miserable disease, of death by fire, and of
blindness, respectively, if their statements were not true, omnipotent
justice in each case inflicted upon the wretches the curse which each
had invoked.(2) The election of Fabianus to the Episcopal chair of Rome
was marked by the descent of a dove from on high, which rested upon his
head, as the Holy Ghost had descended upon our Saviour.(3) At Cæsarea
Philippi there is a statue of Jesus Christ which Eusebius states that he
himself had seen, said to have been erected by the woman healed of the
bloody issue, and on the pedestal grows a strange plant as high as the
hem of the brazen garment, which is an antidote to all diseases.(4)
Great miracles are recorded as taking place during the persecutions in

Gregory of Nyssa gives an account of many wonderful works performed by
his namesake Gregory of Neo-Cæsarea, who was called _Thaumaturgus_ from
the miraculous power which he possessed and very freely


exercised. The Virgin Mary and the Apostle John appeared to him, on
one occasion, when he was in doubt as to the doctrine which he ought to
preach, and, at the request of Mary, the Apostle gave him all needful
instructions.(1) If his faith did not move mountains, it moved a huge
rock to convert a pagan priest.(2) He drove a demon out of a heathen
temple in which he had taken refuge, and the evil spirit could not
re-enter until he gave permission.(3) Nyssen relates how St. Gregory
averted an armed contest of two brothers who quarrelled about the
possession of a lake on their father's property. The saint passed the
night in prayer beside the lake, and in the morning it was found dried
up.(4) On another occasion he rescued the country from the devastation
of a mountain stream, which periodically burst the dykes by which it was
restrained and inundated the plain. He went on foot to the place, and
invoking the name of Christ, fixed his staff in the earth at the place
where the torrent had broken through. The staff took root and became a
tree, and the stream never again burst its bounds. The inhabitants of
the district were converted to Christianity by this miracle. The tree
was still living in Nyssen's time, and he had seen the bed of the lake
covered with trees, pastures, and cottages.(5) Two vagabond Jews once
attempted to deceive him. One of them lay down and pretended to be
dead, while the other begged money from the saint wherewith to buy him
a shroud. St. Gregory quietly took off his cloak and laid it on the man,


walked away. His companion found that he was really dead.(1) St. Gregory
expelled demons from persons possessed, healed the sick and performed
many other miracles;(2) and his signs and wonders are not only attested
by Gregory of Nyssa, but by St. Basil,(3) whose grandmother, St.
Macrina, was brought up at Neo-Cæsarea by the immediate followers of the

Athanasius, in his memoir of St. Anthony, who began to lead the life of
a recluse about a.d. 270, gives particulars of many miracles performed
by the saint. Although he possessed great power over demons, and
delivered many persons possessed by them, Satan tormented him sadly,
and he was constantly beset by legions of devils. One night Satan with a
troop of evil spirits so belaboured the saint that he lay on the ground
speechless and almost dead from their blows.(4) We have already referred
to the case of Natalius, who was scourged by angels during a whole
night, till he was brought to repentance.(5) Upon one occasion when
St. Anthony had retired to his cell resolved to pass a time in perfect
solitude, a certain soldier came to his door and remained long there
knocking and supplicating the saint to come and deliver his daughter,
who was tormented by a demon. At length St. Anthony addressed the man
and told him to go, and if he believed in Jesus Christ and prayed to
God, his prayer should


be fulfilled. The man believed, invoked Jesus Christ, and his daughter
was delivered from the demon.(1) As Anthony was once travelling across
the desert to visit another monastery, the water of the caravan failed
them, and his companions in despair threw themselves on the ground. St.
Anthony, however, retired a little apart, and in answer to his prayer
a spring of water issued at the place where he was kneeling.(2) A man
named Fronto, who was afflicted with leprosy, begged his prayers, and
was ordered by the saint to go into Egypt, where he should be healed.
Fronto at first refused, but being told that he could not be healed
if he remained, the sick man went believing, and as soon as he came in
sight of Egypt he was made whole.(3) Another miracle was performed by
Anthony at Alexandria in the presence of St. Athanasius. As they were
leaving the city a woman cried after him, "Man of God, stay; my daughter
is cruelly troubled by a demon;" and she entreated him to stop lest she
herself should die in running after him. At the request of Athanasius
and the rest, the saint paused, and as the woman came up her daughter
fell on the ground convulsed. St. Anthony prayed in the name of Jesus
Christ, and immediately the girl rose perfectly restored to health,
and delivered from the evil spirit.(4) He astonished a number of pagan
philosophers, who had come to dispute with him, by delivering several
demoniacs, making the sign of the cross over them three times, and
invoking the name of Jesus Christ.(5) It is unnecessary, however, to
multiply instances of his miraculous power to drive out demons and heal
diseases,(6) and to perform other


wonderful works. St. Athanasius, who was himself for a long time
a personal follower of St. Anthony, protests in his preface to the
biography his general accuracy, he having everywhere been mindful of the

Hilarion, again, a disciple of St. Anthony, performed many miracles, an
account of some of which is given by St. Jerome. He restored sight to a
woman who had been blind for no less than ten years; he cast out
devils, and miraculously cured many diseases. Rain fell in answer to his
prayers; and he further exhibited his power over the elements by calming
a stormy sea. When he was buried, ten months after his death, not only
was his body as perfect as though he had been alive, but it emitted a
delightful perfume. He was so favoured of God that, long after, diseases
were healed and demons expelled at his tomb.(2) St. Macarius, the
Egyptian, is said to have restored a dead man to life in order to
convince an unbeliever of the truth of the resurrection.(3) St. Martin,
of Tours, restored to life a certain catechumen who had died of a fever,
and Sulpicius, his disciple, states that the man, who lived for many
years after, was known to himself, although not until after the miracle.
He also restored to life a servant who had hung himself.(4) He performed
a multitude of other miracles, to which we need not here more minutely
refer. The relics of the two martyrs Protavius and Gervasius, whose
bones, with much fresh blood, the miraculous evidence of their martyrdom
and identity, were discovered by St. Ambrose, worked a


number of miracles. A man suffering from demoniacal possession indicated
the proximity of the relics by his convulsions. St. Augustine states
that he himself was in Milan when a blind man, who merely touched
the cloth which covered the two bodies as they were being moved to
a neighbouring church, regained his sight.(1) Paulinus relates many
miracles performed by his master, St. Ambrose, himself. He not only cast
out many demons and healed the sick,(2) but he also raised the dead.
Whilst the saint was staying in the house of a distinguished Christian
friend, his child, who, a few days before, had been delivered from an
unclean spirit, suddenly expired. The mother, an exceedingly religious
woman, full of faith and the fear of God, carried the dead boy down
and laid him on the saint's bed during his absence. When St. Ambrose
returned, filled with compassion for the mother and struck by her faith,
he stretched himself, like Elisha, on the body of the child, praying,
and restored him living to his mother. Paulinus relates this miracle
with minute particulars of name and address.(3)

St. Augustine asserts that miracles are still performed in his day in
the name of Jesus Christ, either by means of his sacraments or by the
prayers or relics of his saints, although they are not so well-known
as those of old, and he gives an account of many miracles which had
recently taken place.(4) After referring to the miracle performed by the
relics of the two martyrs upon the blind man in Milan, which occurred
when he was there, he goes on to narrate the miraculous cure of a friend


his own, named Innocent, formerly advocate of the prefecture, in
Carthage, where Augustine was, and beheld it with his own eyes (_ubi nos
interfuimus et oculis aspeximus nostris_). A lady of rank in the same
city was miraculously healed of an incurable cancer, and St. Augustine
is indignant at the apathy of her friends, which allowed so great a
miracle to be so little known.(1) An inhabitant of the neighbouring town
of Curubis was cured of paralysis and other ills by being baptized.
When Augustine heard of this, although it was reported on very good
authority, the man himself was brought to Carthage by order of the holy
bishop Aurelius, in order that the truth might be ascertained. Augustine
states that, on one occasion during his absence, a tribunitian man
amongst them named Hesperius, who had a farm close by, called Zubedi, in
the Fussalian district, begged one of the Christian presbyters to go and
drive away some evil spirits whose malice sorely afflicted his servants
and cattle. One of the presbyters accordingly went, and offered the
sacrifice of the body of Christ with earnest prayer, and by the mercy of
God, the evil was removed. Now Hesperius happened to have received from
one of his friends a piece of the sacred earth of Jerusalem, where Jesus
Christ was buried and rose again the third day, and he had hung it up
in his room to protect himself from the evil spirits. When his house had
been freed from them, however, he begged St. Augustine and his colleague
Maximinus, who happened to be in that neighbourhood, to come to him,
and after telling them all that had happened, he prayed them to bury
the piece of earth in some place where Christians could assemble for the
worship of God. They consented, and did as he desired. A young peasant
of the neighbourhood, who was paralytic, hearing of this, begged that
he might be carried without delay to the holy spot, where he offered
up prayer, and rose up and went away on his feet perfectly cured.
About thirty miles from Hippo, at a farm called Victoriana, there was a
memorial to the two martyrs Protavius and Gervasius. To this, Augustine
relates, was brought a young man who, having gone one summer day at noon
to water his horse in the river, was possessed by a demon. The lady to
whom the place belonged came according to her custom in the evening,
with her servants and some holy women to sing hymns and pray. On hearing
them the demoniac started up and seized the altar with a terrible
shudder, without daring to move, and as if bound to it, and the demon
praying with a loud voice for mercy confessed where and when he had
entered into the young man. At last the demon named all the members of
his body, with threats to cut them off as he made his exit, and, saying
these words, came out of him. In doing so, however, the eye of the youth
fell from its socket on to his cheek, retained only by a small vein
as by a root, whilst the pupil became altogether white. Well pleased,
however, that the young man had been freed from the evil spirit, they
returned the eye to its place as well as they could, and bound it up
with a handkerchief, praying fervently, and one of his relatives said:
"God who drove out the demon at the prayer of his saints can also
restore the sight." On removing the bandage seven days after, the eye
was found perfectly whole. St. Augustine knew a girl of


Hippo who was delivered from a demon by the application of oil with
which had mingled the tears of the presbyter who was praying for her. He
also knew a bishop who prayed for a youth possessed by a demon, although
he had not even seen him, and the young man was at once cured.

Augustine further gives particulars of many miracles performed by the
relics of the most glorious martyr Stephen.(1) By their virtue the blind
receive their sight, the sick are healed, the impenitent converted,
and the dead are restored to life. "Andurus is the name of an estate,"
Augustine says, "where there is a church and in it a shrine dedicated to
the martyr Stephen. A certain little boy was playing in the court,
when unruly bullocks drawing a waggon crushed him with the wheel, and
immediately he lay in the agonies of death. Then his mother raised him
up, and placed him at the shrine, and he not only came to life again,
but had manifestly received no injury.(2) A certain religious woman, who
lived in a neighbouring property called Caspalianus, being dangerously
ill and her life despaired of, her tunic was carried to the same shrine,
but before it was brought back she had expired. Nevertheless, her
relatives covered the body with this tunic, and she received back the
spirit and was made whole.(3) At Hippo, a certain man named


Bassus, a Syrian, was praying at the shrine of the same martyr for his
daughter who was sick and in great peril, and he had brought her dress
with him; when lo! some of his household came running to announce to him
that she was dead. But as he was engaged in prayer they were stopped by
his friends, who prevented their telling him, lest he should give way
to his grief in public. When he returned to his house, which already
resounded with the wailing of his household, he cast over the body of
his daughter her mantle which he had with him, and immediately she was
restored to life.(1) Again, in the same city, the son of a certain man
among us named Irenæus, a collector of taxes, became sick and died. As
the dead body lay, and they were preparing with wailing and lamentation
to bury it, one of his friends consoling him suggested that the body
should be anointed with oil from the same martyr. This was done, and
the child came to life again.(2) In the same way a man amongst us named
Eleusinus, formerly a tribune, laid the body of his child, who had died
from sickness, on a memorial of the martyr which is in his villa in the
suburbs, and after he had prayed, with many tears, he took up the child


We shall meet with more of these miracles in considering the arguments
of Dr. Mozley. In a note he says: "Augustine again, long after, alludes
in his list of miracles (De Civ. Dei, xxii. 8,) to some cases in which
persons had been raised to life again by prayer and the intercession of
martyrs, whose relics were applied. But though Augustine relates with
great particularity and length of detail some cases of recoveries
from complaints in answer to prayer, his notices of the cases in which
persons had been raised to life again, are so short, bare, and summary,
that they evidently represent no more than mere report, and report of a
very vague kind. Indeed, with the preface which he prefixes to his list,
he cannot be said even to profess to guarantee the truth or accuracy of
the different instances contained in it. 'Hæc autem, ubicunque fiunt,
ibi sciuntur vix a tota ipsa civitate vel quocumque commanentium loco.
Nam plerumque etiam ibi paucissimi sciunt, ignorantibus eseteris, maxime
si magna sit civitas; et quando alibi aliisque narrantur, non tantum ea
commendat auctoritas, ut sine difficultate vel dubitatione credantur,
quamvis Christianis fidelibus a fidelibus indicentur.' He puts down
the cases as he received them, then, without pledging himself to their
authenticity. 'Eucharius presbyter... mortuus sic jacebat ut ei jam
pol-lices ligarentur: opitulatione memorati martyris, cum de memoria
ejus reportata fuisset et supra jacentis corpus missa ipsius presbyteri
tunica, suscitatus est... Andurus nomen est &C.",(1) and then Dr. Mozley
gives the passage already quoted by us. Before continuing,


we must remark with regard to the passages just quoted, that, in the
miracle of Eucharius, Dr. Mozley, without explanation, omits details.
The whole passage is as follows: "Eucharius, a presbyter from Spain,
resided at Calama, who had for a long time suffered from stone. By the
relics of the same martyr, which the Bishop Possidius brought to him,
he was made whole. The same presbyter, afterwards succumbing to another
disease, lay dead, so that they were already binding his hands. Succour
came from the relics of the martyr, for the tunic of the presbyter being
brought back from the relics and placed upon his body he revived."(1) A
writer who complains of the bareness of narratives, should certainly not
curtail their statements. Dr. Mozley continues: "There are three other
cases of the same kind, in which there is nothing to verify the death
from which the return to life is said to take place, as being more than
mere suspension of the vital powers; but the writer does not go into
particulars of description or proof, but simply inserts them in his list
as they have been reported to him."(3)

Dr. Mozley is anxious to detract from the miracles described by
Augustine, and we regret to be obliged to maintain that in order to do
so he misrepresents, no doubt unintentionally, Augustine's statements,
and, as we think, also unduly depreciates the comparative value of the
evidence. We shall briefly refer to the two points in question. I. That
"his notices of the cases in which persons had been raised to life again
are so short,


bare, and summary that they evidently represent no more than mere
report, and report of a very vague kind." II. "That with the preface
which Augustine prefixes to his list, he cannot be said even to profess
to guarantee the truth or accuracy of the different instances contained
in it."

It is true that in several cases Augustine gives the account of
miraculous cures at greater length than those of restoration to life.
It seems to us that this is almost inevitable at all times, and that
the reason is obvious. Where the miracle consists merely of the cure of
disease, details are naturally given to show the nature and intensity of
the sickness, and they are necessary not only for the comprehension of
the cure but to show its importance. In the case of restoration to
life, the mere statement of the death and assertion of the subsequent
resurrection exclude all need of details. The pithy _reddita est
vitæ_, or _factum est et revixit_ is more striking than any more
prolix narrative. In fact, the greater the miracle the more natural
is conciseness and simplicity; and practically, we find that Augustine
gives a more lengthy and verbose report of trifling cures, whilst he
relates the more important with greater brevity and force. He narrates
many of his cases of miraculous cure, however, as briefly as those in
which the dead are raised. We have quoted the latter, and the reader
must judge whether they are unduly curt. One thing may be affirmed, that
nothing of importance is omitted, and in regard to essential details
they are as explicit as the mass of other cases reported. In every
instance names and addresses are stated, and it will have been observed
that all these miracles occurred in, or close to, Hippo, and in his own
diocese. It is very certain that in


every case the fact of the miracle is asserted in the most direct and
positive terms. There can be no mistake either as to the meaning or
intention of the narrative, and there is no symptom whatever of a
thought on the part of Augustine to avoid the responsibility of his
statements, or to give them as mere vague report. If wo compare these
accounts with those of the Gospels, we do not find them deficient in any
essential detail common to the latter. There is in the synoptic Gospels
only one case in which Jesus is said to have raised the dead. The
raising of Jairus' daughter(1) has long been abandoned, as a case of
restoration to life, by all critics and theologians, except the few
who still persist in ignoring the distinct and positive declaration of
Jesus, "The damsel is not dead but sleepeth." The only case, therefore,
in the Synoptics is the account in the third Gospel of the raising of
the widow's son,(3) of which, strange to say, the other Gospels know
nothing. Now, although, as might have been expected, this narrative is
much more highly coloured and picturesque, the difference is chiefly
literary, and, indeed, there are really fewer important details given
than in the account by Augustine, for instance, of the restoration to
life of the daughter of Bassus the Syrian, which took place at Hippo, of
which he was bishop, and where he actually resided. Augustine's object
in giving his list of miracles did not require him to write picturesque
narratives. He merely desired to state bare facts, whilst the authors
of the Gospels composed the Life of their Master, in which interesting
details were everything. For many reasons we refrain here from alluding
to the artistic narrative of the raising


of Lazarus, the greatest miracle ascribed to Jesus, yet so singularly
unknown to the other three Evangelists, who, so readily repeating the
accounts of trifling cures, would most certainly not have neglected this
had they ever heard of it.

Dr. Mozley complains of the absence of verification and proof of actual
death in these cases, or that they were more than mere suspension of
the vital powers. We cordially agree with him in the desire for such
evidence, not only in these, but in all miracles. We would ask, however,
what verification of the death have we in the case of the widow's son
which we have not here? If we apply such a test to the miracles of the
Gospels, we must reject them as certainly as those of St. Augustine.
In neither case have we more than a mere statement that the subjects
of these miracles were dead or diseased. So far are we from having
any competent medical evidence of the reality of the death, or of the
disease, or of the permanence of the supposed cures in the Gospels, that
we have little more than the barest reports of these miracles by writers
who, even if their identity were established, were not, and do not
pretend to have been, eye-witnesses of the occurrences which they
relate. Take, for instance, this very raising of the widow's son in
the third Gospel, which is unknown to the other Evangelists, and the
narrative of which is given only in a Gospel which is not attributed to
a personal follower of Jesus.

Now we turn to the second statement of Dr. Mozley, "that with the
preface which Augustine prefixes to his list, he cannot be said even to
profess to guarantee the truth or accuracy of the different instances
contained in it." This extraordinary assertion is supported by a


given above, which Dr. Mozley has separated from what precedes and
follows it, so that its real meaning is scarcely apparent. We shall
as briefly as possible state what is actually the "preface" of St.
Augustine to his list of miracles, and his avowed object for giving
it. In the preceding chapter, Augustine has been arguing that the
world believed in Christ by virtue of divine influence and not by human
persuasion. He contends that it is ridiculous to speak of the false
divinity of Romulus when Christians speak of Christ. If, in the time of
Romulus, some 600 years before Cicero, people were so enlightened that
they refused to believe anything of which they had not experience, how
much more, in the still more enlightened days of Cicero himself, and
notably in the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius, would they have rejected
belief in the resurrection and ascension of Christ, if divine truth and
the testimony of miracles had not proved not only that such things could
take place, but that they had actually done so. When the evidence of
prophecy joined with that of miracles, and showed that the new doctrines
were only contrary to experience and not contrary to reason, the world
embraced the faith.(1) "Why, then, say they, do these miracles which you
declare to have taken place formerly, not occur now-a-days?" Augustine,
in replying, adopts a common rhetorical device: "I might, indeed,
answer," he says, "that miracles were necessary before the world
believed, in order that the world might believe. Any one who now
requires miracles in order that he may believe, is himself a great
miracle in not believing what all the world believes. But, really,
they say this in order that even those miracles should not be believed


And he reduces what he considers to be the position of the world in
regard to miracles and to the supernatural dogmas of Christianity to
the following dilemma: "Either things incredible which nevertheless
occurred, and were seen, led to belief in something else incredible,
which was not seen; or that thing was in itself so credible that no
miracles were required to establish it, and so much more is the unbelief
of those who deny confuted. This might I say to these most frivolous
objectors." He then proceeds to affirm that it cannot be denied that
many miracles attest the great miracle of the ascension in the flesh of
the risen Christ, and he points out that the actual occurrence of all
these things is not only recorded in the most truthful books, but the
reasons also given why they took place. These things have become known
that they might create belief; these things by the belief they have
created have become much more clearly known. They are read to the
people, indeed, that they may believe; yet, nevertheless, they would not
be read to the people if they had not been believed. After thus stating
the answer which he might give, Augustine now returns to answer the
question directly:--"But, furthermore," he continues, "miracles are
performed now in his name, either by means of his sacraments, or by the
prayers or relics of his saints, but they are not brought under the
same strong light as caused the former to be noised abroad with so
much glory; inasmuch as the canon of sacred scriptures, which must be
definite, causes those miracles to be everywhere publicly read, and
become firmly fixed in the memory of all peoples;"(l) and then follows
Dr. Mozley's


quotation: "but these are scarcely known to the whole of a city itself
in which they are performed, or to its neighbourhood. Indeed, for the
most part, even there very few know of them, and the rest are ignorant,
more especially if the city be large; and when they are related
elsewhere and to others, the authority does not so commend them as
to make them be believed without difficulty or doubt, albeit they are
reported by faithful Christians to the faithful." He illustrates this by
pointing out in immediate continuation, that the miracle in Milan by the
bodies of the two martyrs, which took place when he himself was there,
might reach the knowledge of many, because the city is large, and the
Emperor and an immense crowd of people witnessed it, but who knows of
the miracle performed at Carthage upon his friend Innocent, when he was
there also, and saw it with his own eyes? Who knows of the miraculous
cure of cancer, he continues, in a lady of rank in the same city? at the
silence regarding which he is so indignant. Who knows of the next case
he mentions in his list? the cure of a medical man of the same town,
to which he adds: "We, nevertheless, do know it, and a few brethren to
whose knowledge it may have come."(1) Who out of Curubus, besides the
very few who may have heard of it, knows of the miraculous cure of the
paralytic man, whose case Augustine personally investigated? and so on.
Observe that there is merely a question of the comparative notoriety of
the Gospel


miracles and those of his own time, not a doubt as to the reality of the
latter. Again, towards the end of his long list, immediately after the
narrative of the restoration to life of the child of Eleusinus, which
we have quoted, Augustine says:--"What can I do? The promise of the
completion of this work is pressing, so that I cannot here recount all
(the miracles) that I know; and without doubt many of our brethren when
they read this work will be grieved that I have omitted so very much,
which they know as well as I do. This I even now beg that they will
pardon, and consider how long would be the task of doing that which, for
the completion of the work, it is thought necessary not to do. For if
I desired to record merely the miracles of healing, without speaking of
others, which have been performed by this martyr, that is to say, the
most glorious Stephen, in the district of Calama, and in ours of Hippo,
many volumes must be composed, yet will it not be possible to make a
complete collection of them, but only of such as have been published for
public reading. For that was our object, since we saw repeated in our
time signs of divine power similar to those of old, deeming that they
ought not to be lost to the knowledge of the multitude. Now this relic
has not yet been two years at Hippo-Regius, and accounts of many of the
miracles performed by it have not been written, as is most certainly
known to us, yet the number of those which have been published, up to
the time this is written, amounts ta about seventy. At Calama, however,
where these relics have been longer, and more of the miracles were
recorded, they incomparably exceed this number."(1)


Augustine goes on to say that, to his knowledge, many very remarkable
miracles were performed by the relics of the same martyr also at Uzali,
a district near to Utica, and of one of these, which had recently taken
place when he himself was there, he gives an account. Then, before
closing his list with the narrative of a miracle which took place at
Hippo, in his own church, in his own presence, and in the sight of the
whole congregation, he resumes his reply to the opening question:--"Many
miracles, therefore," he says, "are also performed now, the same God who
worked those of which we read, performing these by whom he wills and as
he wills; but these miracles neither become similarly known, nor, that
they may not slip out of mind, are they stamped, as it were like gravel,
into memory, by frequent reading. For even in places where care is
taken, as is now the case amongst us, that accounts of those who receive
benefit should be publicly read, those who are present hear them only
once, and many are not present at all, so that those who were present do
not, after a few days, remember


what they heard, and scarcely a single person is met with who repeats
what he has heard to one whom he may have known to have been absent"(1)

So far from casting doubt upon the miracles which he narrates, the
"Preface" of Augustine is clearly intended to establish them. These
"signs of divine power similar to those of old," are not less real and
important, but merely less known, because the eyes of the world are not
directed to them, and they have not the advantage of being everywhere
published abroad by means of canonical scriptures constantly read to the
people and acknowledged as authoritative. Dr. Mozleys statement is quite
unwarranted, and it seems to us gratuitously injurious to St. Augustine.
This Father of the Church and Bishop must have had as little good faith
as good sense, if he did what such a statement implies. In order to
demonstate the truth of his assertion that miracles were still performed
in his day, Dr. Mozley represents Augustine as deliberately producing a
long list of instances of which "he cannot even be said to guarantee the
truth," and the more important cases in which "evidently represent
no more than mere report, and report of a very vague kind." We have
furnished the reader with the materials for forming an opinion on these
points. The judgment of Dr. Mozley may with equal justice be applied to


the authors of the synoptic Gospels. They certainly do not guarantee
the truth of the miracles they relate in any more precise way than
Augustine. Like him, they merely narrate them as facts, and he as
evidently believes what he states as they do. Indeed, as regards
comparative fulness of testimony, the advantage is altogether on the
side of the miracles reported by St. Augustine. These miracles occurred
within two years of the time at which he wrote, and were at once
recorded with the names of the subjects and of the places at which they
occurred; most of them were performed in his own diocese, and several
of them in his own presence; some, of which he apparently did not feel
sure, he personally investigated; he states his knowledge of others,
and he narrates the whole of them with the most direct and simple
affirmation of the facts, without a single word indicating hesitation,
or directly or indirectly attributing the narrative to mere report.
Moreover, he not only advances these miracles deliberately and in
writing, in support of his positive assertion that miracles were still
performed, but these accounts of them had in the first instance been
written that they might be publicly read in his own church for the
edification of Christians, almost on the very spot where they are stated
to have occurred. We need scarcely say that we do not advance these
reasons in order to argue the reality of the miracles themselves, but
simply to maintain that, so far from his giving the account of them
as mere report, or not even professing to vouch for their truth, St.
Augustine both believed them himself, and asked others to believe them
as facts, and that they are as unhesitatingly affirmed as any related in
the Gospels.


We shall not attempt any further detailed reference to the myriads of
miracles with which the annals of the Church teem up to very recent
times. The fact is too well known to require evidence. The saints in the
Calendar are legion. It has been computed that the number of those whose
lives are given in the Bollandist Collection(1) amounts to upwards of
25,000, although, the saints being arranged according to the Calendar,
the unfinished work only reaches the twenty-fourth of October. When it
is considered that all those upon whom the honour of canonization is
conferred have worked miracles, many of them, indeed, almost daily
performing such wonders, some idea may be formed of the number of
miracles which have occurred in unbroken succession from Apostolic days,
and have been believed and recognized by the Church. Vast numbers of
these miracles are in all respects similar to those narrated in the
Gospels, and they comprise hundreds of cases of restoration of the dead
to life. If it be necessary to point out instances in comparatively
recent times, we may mention the miracles of this kind liberally
ascribed to St Francis of Assisi, in the 13th century, and to his
namesake St. Francis Xavier, in the 16th, as pretty well known to all,
although we might refer to much more recent miracles authenticated by
the Church. At the present day such phenomena have almost disappeared,
and, indeed, with the exception of an occasional winking picture,
periodical liquefaction of blood, or apparition of the Virgin, confined
to the still ignorant and benighted corners of the earth, miracles are



We have maintained that the miracles which are reported after apostolic
days, instead of presenting the enormous distinction which Dr. Mozley
asserts, are precisely of the same types in all material points as
the earlier miracles. Setting aside miracles of a trivial and unworthy
character, there remains a countless number cast in the same mould as
those of the Gospels,--miraculous cure of diseases, expulsion of demons,
transformation of elements, supernatural nourishment, resurrection of
dead--of many of which we have quoted instances. Dr. Mozley anticipates
an objection and says: "It will be urged, perhaps, that a large
portion even of the Gospel miracles are of the class here mentioned
as ambiguous; cures, visions, expulsions of evil spirits; but this
observation does not affect the character of the Gospel miracles as a
body, because we judge of the body or whole from its highest specimen,
not from its lowest." He takes his stand upon, "e.g. our Lord's
Resurrection and Ascension."(1) Now, without discussing the principle
laid down here, it is evident that the great distinction between the
Gospel and other miracles is thus narrowed to a very small compass.
It is admitted that the mass of the Gospel miracles are of a class
characterized as ambiguous, because "the current


miracles of human history" are also chiefly of the same type, and
the distinctive character is derived avowedly only from a few high
specimens, such as the Resurrection. We have already referred to the
fact that in the synoptic Gospels there is only one case, reported by
the third Gospel alone, in which Jesus is said to have raised the dead.
St. Augustine alone, however, chronicles several cases in which life was
restored to the dead. Post-apostolic miracles, therefore, are far from
lacking this ennobling type. Observe that Dr. Mozley is here not so
much discussing the reality of the subsequent miracles of the Church,
as contrasting them and other reputed miracles with those of the Gospel,
and from this point of view it is impossible to maintain that the
Gospels have a monopoly of the highest class of miracles. Such miracles
are met with long before the dawn of Christianity, and continued to
occur long after apostolic times.

Much stress is laid upon the form of the Gospel miracles; but as we have
already shown, it is the actual resurrection of the dead, for instance,
which is the miracle, and this is not affected by the more or less
dramatic manner in which it is said to have been effected, or in
which the narrative of the event is composed. Literary skill, and
the judicious management of details, may make or mar the form of any
miracle. The narrative of the restoration of the dead child to life
by Elisha might have been more impressive, had the writer omitted the
circumstance that the child sneezed seven times before opening his eyes,
and Dr. Mozley would probably have considered the miracle greater had
the prophet merely said to the child, "Arise!" instead of stretching
himself on the body; but setting aside human cravings


for the picturesque and artistic, the essence of the miracle would have
remained the same. There is one point, however, regarding which it may
be well to make a few remarks. Whilst a vast number of miracles are
ascribed to direct personal action of saints, many more are attributed
to their relics. Now this is no exclusive characteristic of later
miracles, but Christianity itself shares it with still earlier times.
The case in which a dead body which touched the bones of Elisha was
restored to life will occur to every one. "And it came to pass, as they
were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of Moabites; and
they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let
down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his
feet."(1) The mantle of Elijah smiting asunder the waters before Elisha
may be cited as another instance.(2) The woman who touches the hem of
the garment of Jesus in the crowd is made whole,(3) and all the sick and
"possessed" of the country are represented as being healed by touching
Jesus, or even the mere hem of his garment.(4) It was supposed that
the shadow of Peter falling on the sick as he passed had a curative
effect,(5) and it is very positively stated: "And God wrought miracles
of no common kind by the hands of Paul; so that from his body were
brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed
from them, and the evil spirits went out of them." (6)

The argument which assumes an enormous distinction


between Gospel and other miracles betrays the prevalent scepticism, even
in the Church, of all miracles except those which it is considered an
article of faith to maintain. If we inquire how those think who are more
logical and thorough in their belief in the supernatural, we find the
distinction denied. "The question," says Dr. Newman, "has hitherto been
argued on the admission, that a distinct line can be drawn in point of
character and circumstances, between the miracles of Scripture and those
of Church history; but this is by no means the case. It is true, indeed,
that the miracles of Scripture, viewed as a whole, recommend themselves
to our reason, and claim our veneration beyond all others, by a peculiar
dignity and beauty; but still it is only as a whole that they make this
impression upon us. Some of them, on the contrary, fall short of the
attributes which attach to them in general; nay, are inferior in these
respects to certain ecclesiastical miracles, and are received only on
the credit of the system of which they form part. Again, specimens are
not wanting in the history of the Church, of miracles as awful in
their character, and as momentous in their effects, as those which are
recorded in Scripture."(1) Now here is one able and thorough supporter
of miracles denying the enormous distinction between those of the Gospel
and those of human history, which another admits to be essential to the
former as evidence of a revelation.

Dr. Mozley, however, meets such a difficulty by asserting that there
would be no disadvantage to the Gospel miracles, and no doubt regarding
them involved, if for some later miracles there was evidence as strong
as for those of the Gospel. "All the result would be," he says,


"that we should admit these miracles over and above the Gospel ones."(1)
He denies the equality of the evidence, however, in any case. "Between
the evidence, then, upon which the Gospel miracles stand, and that for
later miracles we see a broad distinction arising, not to mention
again the nature and type of the Gospel miracles themselves--from the
contemporaneous date of the testimony to them, the character of the
witnesses, the probation of the testimony; especially when we contrast
with these points the false doctrine and audacious fraud which rose up
in later ages, and in connection with which so large a portion of the
later miracles of Christianity made their appearance."(2) We consider
the point touching the type of the Gospel miracles disposed of, and we
may, therefore, confine ourselves to the rest of this argument. If we
look for any external evidence of the miracles of Jesus in any marked
effect produced by them at the time they are said to have occurred, we
find anything but confirmation of the statements of the Gospels. It is
a notorious fact that, in spite of these miracles, very few of the
Jews amongst whom they were performed believed in Jesus, and that
Christianity made its chief converts not where the supposed miracles
took place, but where an account of them was alone given by enthusiastic
missionaries. Such astounding exhibitions of power as raising the dead,
giving sight to the blind, walking on the sea, changing water into wine,
and indefinitely multiplying a few loaves and fishes, not only did not
make any impression on the Jews themselves, but were never heard of out
of Palestine until long after the events are said to have occurred, when
the narrative of them was slowly disseminated by Christian teachers and


Dr. Mozley refers to the contemporary testimony "for certain great and
cardinal Gospel miracles which, if granted, clear away all antecedent
objection to the reception of the rest," and he says: "That the first
promulgators of Christianity asserted, as a fact which had come under
the cognizance of their senses, the Resurrection of our Lord from the
dead, is as certain as anything in history."(1) What they really did
assert, so far from being so certain as Dr. Mozley states, must, as we
shall hereafter see, be considered matter of the greatest doubt. But if
the general statement be taken that the Resurrection, for instance,
was promulgated as a fact which the early preachers of Christianity
themselves believed to have taken place, the evidence does not in that
case present the broad distinction he asserts. The miracles recounted by
St Athanasius and St. Augustine, for example, were likewise proclaimed
with equal clearness, and even greater promptitude and publicity at the
very spot where many of them were said to have been performed, and
the details were much more immediately reduced to writing. The mere
assertion in neither case goes for much as evidence, but the fact is
that we have absolutely no contemporaneous testimony at all as to what
the first promulgators of Christianity actually asserted, or as to the
real grounds upon which they made such assertions. We shall presently
enter upon a thorough examination of the testimony for the Gospel
narratives, their authorship and authenticity, but we may here
be permitted, so far to anticipate, as to remark that, applied to
documentary evidence, Dr. Mozley's reasoning from the contemporaneous
date of the testimony, and the character of


the witnesses, is contradicted by the whole history of New Testament
literature. Whilst the most uncritically zealous assertors of the
antiquity of the Gospels never venture to date the earliest of them
within a quarter of a century from the death of Jesus, every tyro is
aware that there is not a particle of evidence of the existence of our
Gospels until very long after that interval,--hereafter we shall show
how long;--that two of our synoptic Gospels at least were not, in any
case, composed in their present form by the writers to whom they
are attributed; that there is, indeed, nothing worthy of the name of
evidence that any one of these Gospels was written at all by the person
whose name it bears; that the second Gospel is attributed to one who was
not an eye-witness, and of whose identity there is the greatest doubt
even amongst those who assert the authorship of Mark; that the third
Gospel is an avowed later compilation,(1) and likewise ascribed to one
who was not a follower of Jesus himself; and that the authorship of
the fourth Gospel and its historical character are amongst the most
unsettled questions of criticism, not to use here any more definite
terms. This being the state of the case it is absurd to lay such
emphasis on the contemporaneous date of the testimony, and on the
character of the witnesses, since it has not even been determined who
those witnesses are, and two even of the supposed evangelists were not
personal eye-witnesses at all.(2) Surely the testimony of Athanasius
regarding the miracles of St. Anthony, and that of Augustine regarding

     1  Luke i. 1--4.

     2  We need scarcely point out that Paul, to whom so many of
     the writings of the New Testament are ascribed, and who
     practically is the author of ecclesiastical Christianity,
     not only was not an eye-witness of the Gospel miracles but
     never even saw Jesus.


his list of miracles occurring in or close to his own diocese, within
two years of the time at which he writes, or, to refer to more recent
times, the evidence of Pascal for the Port-Royal miracles, must be
admitted, not only not to present the broad distinction of evidence
of which Dr. Mozley speaks, but on the contrary to be even more
unassailable than that of the Gospel miracles. The Church, which is
the authority for those miracles, is also the authority for the long
succession of such works wrought by the saints. The identity of the
writers we have instanced has never been doubted; their trustworthiness,
in so far as stating what they believe to be true is concerned, has
never been impugned; the same could be affirmed of writers in every age
who record such miracles. The broad distinction of evidence for which
Dr. Mozley contends, does not exist; it does not lie within the scope
of his lectures either to define or prove it, and he does not of course
commit the error of assuming the inspiration of the records. The fact is
that theologians demand evidence for later miracles, which they have not
for those of the Gospels, and which transmitted reverence forbids their
requiring. They strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.

Dr. Mozley points to the life of sacrifice and suffering of the Apostles
as a remarkable and peculiar testimony to the truth of the Gospel
miracles, and notably of the Resurrection and Ascension.(1) Without
examining, here, how much we really know of those lives and sufferings,
one thing is perfectly evident: that sacrifice, suffering, and martyrdom
itself are evidence of nothing except of the personal belief of the
person enduring them; they do not prove the truth of the doctrines
believed. No


one doubts the high religious enthusiasm of the early Christians, or the
earnest and fanatical zeal with which they courted martyrdom, but this
is no exclusive characteristic of Christianity. Every religion has
had its martyrs, every error its devoted victims. Does the marvellous
endurance of the Hindoo, whose limbs wither after years of painful
persistence in vows to his Deity, prove the truth of Brahmanism? or do
the fanatical believers who cast themselves under the wheels of the car
of Jagganath establish the soundness of their creed? Do the Jews, who
for centuries bore the fiercest contumelies of the world, and were
persecuted, hunted, and done to death by every conceivable torture
for persisting in their denial of the truth of the Incarnation,
Resurrection, and Ascension, and in their rejection of Jesus Christ, do
they thus furnish a convincing argument for the truth of their belief
and the falsity of Christianity? Or have the thousands who have been
consigned to the stake by the Christian Church herself for persisting
in asserting what she has denounced as damnable heresy, proved the
correctness of their views by their sufferings and death? History is
full of the records of men who have honestly believed every kind
of error and heresy, and have been stedfast to the death, through
persecution and torture, in their mistaken belief. There is nothing
so inflexible as superstitious fanaticism, and persecution, instead
of extinguishing it, has invariably been the most certain means of its
propagation. The sufferings of the Apostles, therefore, cannot prove
anything beyond their own belief, and the question what it was they
really did believe and suffered for is by no means so simple as it

Now the long succession of ecclesiastical and other


miracles has an important bearing upon those of the New Testament,
whether we believe or deny their reality. If we regard the miracles of
Church history to be in the main real, the whole force of the Gospel
miracles, as exceptional supernatural evidence of a Divine Revelation,
is annihilated. The "miraculous credentials of Christianity" assume
a very different aspect when they are considered from such a point of
view. Admitted to be scarcely recognizable from miracles wrought by
Satanic agency, they are seen to be a continuation of wonders recorded
in the Old Testament, to be preceded and accompanied by pretension
to similar power on the part of the Jews and other nations, and to be
succeeded by cycles of miracles, in all essential respects the
same, performed subsequently for upwards of fifteen hundred years.
Supernatural evidence of so common and prodigal a nature certainly
betrays a great want of force and divine speciality. How could that be
considered as express evidence for a new Divine Revelation which was
already so well known to the world, and which is scattered broad-cast
over so many centuries, as well as successfully simulated by Satan?

If, on the other hand, we dismiss the miracles of later ages as false,
and as merely the creations of superstition or pious imagination, how
can the miracles of the Gospel, which are precisely the same in type,
and not better established as facts, remain unshaken? The Apostles and
Evangelists were men of like passions, and also of like superstitions
with others of their time, and must be measured by the same standard.
Dr. Mozley will not admit that, even in such a case, the difficulty of
distinguishing the true miracles amongst the mass of


spurious justifies the rejection of all, and he demands a judicial
process in each case, and settlement according to the evidence in that
case.(1) We might reply that if the great mass of asserted miracles be
determined to be spurious, there is no reason shown for entering upon a
more minute consideration of pretensions, which knowledge and experience
force us _à priori_ to regard as incredible, and which examination, in
so many cases, has proved to be delusion. Even if the plea, that "the
evidence of the Gospel miracles is a special case which must be decided
on its own grounds," be admitted, it must be apparent that the rejection
of the mass of other miracles is serious presumptive evidence also
against them.


The argument for the reality of miracles receives very little
strength from the character of either the early or the later ages of
Christianity. "It is but too plain," says Dr. Mozley, "in discussing
ecclesiastical miracles, that in later ages, as the Church advanced
in worldly power and position, besides the mistakes of imagination and
impression, a temper of deliberate and audacious fraud set itself in
action for the spread of certain doctrines, as well as for the
great object of the concentration of Church power in one absolute
monarchy."(2) We have already quoted words of Dean Milman regarding the
frame of mind of the early Church, and it may not be out of place to add
a few lines from the same writer. Speaking of the writings of the first
ages of Christianity, he says: "That some of the Christian legends were
deliberate forgeries can scarcely be questioned; the principle of pious


appeared to justify this mode of working on the popular mind; it was
admitted and avowed. To deceive into Christianity was so valuable a
service as to hallow deceit itself. But the largest portion was probably
the natural birth of that imaginative excitement which quickens its
day-dreams and nightly visions into reality. The Christian lived in
a supernatural world; the notion of the divine power, the perpetual
interference of the Deity, the agency of the countless invisible beings
which hovered over mankind, was so strongly impressed upon the belief,
that every extraordinary, and almost every ordinary incident became a
miracle, every inward emotion a suggestion either of a good or an evil
spirit. A mythic period was thus gradually formed, in which reality
melted into fable, and invention unconsciously trespassed on the
province of history."(1) Whether we look upon this picture or on that,
the result is equally unfavourable to miracles, and a ready explanation
both of the earlier and later instances is suggested. We must, however,
again recall the fact that, setting aside for the present the effect of
pious fraud, this vivid and superstitious imagination, which so
freely created for itself the miraculous, was not merely developed
by Christianity, but was equally rampant before it, and was a marked
characteristic of the Jews. The same writer, in a passage already
quoted, says: "During the whole life of Christ, and the early
propagation of the religion, it must be borne in mind that they took
place in an age, and among a people which superstition had made so
familiar with what were supposed to be preternatural events, that
wonders awakened no emotion, or were speedily superseded by some new
demand on the ever


ready belief. The Jews of that period not only believed that the Supreme
Being had the power of controlling the course of nature, but that the
same influence was possessed by multitudes of subordinate spirits, both
good and evil."(1) Between the "superstition," "imaginative excitement,"
and "pious fraud" of the early Church, and the "deliberate and
audacious fraud" of the later, we have abundant material for the natural
explanation of all supposed miracles, without going to such an extreme
hypothesis as exceptions to the order of nature, or supposing that a few
miracles can be accepted as supernatural facts, whilst all the rest must
be discarded as human fables.

It is certain that throughout the whole period during which miracles are
said to have been performed, gross ignorance and superstition prevailed,
and nowhere more so than amongst the Jews where those miracles occurred.
Almost every operation of nature was inexplicable, and everything
which was inexplicable was considered supernatural. Miracles seemed as
credible to the mind of that age as deviations from the order of nature
seem incredible in ours. It is a suggestive fact that miracles are
limited to periods when almost every common incident was readily
ascribed to supernatural agency. There is, however, one remarkable
circumstance which casts some light upon the origin of narratives of
miracles. Throughout the New Testament, patristic literature, and the
records of ecclesiastical miracles, although we have narratives of
countless wonderful works performed by others than the writers, and
abundant assertion of the possession of miraculous power by the Church,
there is no instance whatever, that we can remember, in which


a writer claims to have himself performed a miracle.(1) Wherever there
has existed even the comparatively accurate means of information which
a person who himself performed a miracle might possess, the miraculous
entirely fails, and it is found only where faith or credulity usurps
the place of knowledge. Pious men were perfectly ready to believe the
supposed miracles of others, and to report them as facts, who were too
veracious to imagine any of their own. Even if Apostles and Saints had
chronicled their own miraculous deeds, the argument for their reality
would not have been much advanced; but the uniform absence of such
personal pretension enables us more clearly to trace such narratives to
pious credulity or superstition.

If we consider the particular part which miracles have played in human
history, we find precisely the phenomena which might have been expected
if miracles, instead of being considered as real occurrences, were
recognized as the mistakes or creations of ignorance and superstition
during that period in which "reality melted into fable, and invention
unconsciously trespassed on the province of history." Their occurrence
is limited to ages which were totally ignorant of physical laws, and
they have been numerous or rare precisely in proportion to the degree of
imagination and love of the marvellous characterizing the people
amongst whom they are said to have occurred. Instead of a few evidential
miracles taking place at one epoch of history, and filling the world
with surprise at such novel and exceptional phenomena, we find miracles
represented as taking place in all ages and in all countries. The Gospel
miracles are set in the midst of a series of similar wonders, which

     1 This is fully discussed in the third volume.


many centuries before the dawn of Christianity and continued, without
interruption, for fifteen hundred years after it. They did not in the
most remote degree originate the belief in miracles, or give the first
suggestion of spurious imitation. It may, on the contrary, be much more
truly said that the already existing belief created these miracles. No
divine originality characterized the evidence selected to accredit the
Divine Revelation. The miracles with which the history of the world is
full occurred in ages of darkness and superstition, and they gradually
ceased when enlightenment became more generally diffused. At the very
time when knowledge of the laws of nature began to render men capable of
judging of the reality of miracles, these wonders entirely failed. This
extraordinary cessation of miracles, precisely at the time when their
evidence might have acquired value by an appeal to persons capable of
appreciating them, is perfectly unintelligible if they be viewed as the
supernatural credentials of a Divine revelation. If, on the other
hand, they be regarded as the mistakes of imaginative excitement and
ignorance, nothing is more natural than their extinction at the time
when the superstition which created them gave place to knowledge.

As a historical fact, there is nothing more certain than that miracles,
and the belief in them, disappeared exactly when education and knowledge
of the operation of natural laws became diffused throughout Europe, and
that the last traces of belief in supernatural interference with the
order of nature are only to be found in localities where ignorance and
superstition still prevail, and render delusion or pious fraud of that
description possible. Miracles are now denied to places more enlightened


than Naples or La Salette. The inevitable inference from this fact is
fatal to the mass of miracles, and it is not possible to protect them
from it. Miracle cures by the relics of saints, upheld for fifteen
centuries by all the power of the Church, utterly failed when medical
science, increasing in spite of persecution, demonstrated the natural
action of physiological laws. The theory of the demoniacal origin
of disease has been entirely and for ever dispelled, and the host of
miracles in connection with it retrospectively exploded by the progress
of science. Witchcraft and sorcery, the belief in which reigned supreme
for so many centuries, are known to have been nothing but the delusions
of ignorant superstition. "A l'époque où les faits merveilleux qui s'y
(dans les légendes) trouvent consignés étaient rapportés," asks an able
French writer, "possé dait-on les lumieres suffisantes pour exercer une
critique véritable et sérieuse sur des témoignages que venaient affirmer
des faits en contradiction avec nos connaissances? Or, on peut assurer
hardiment que non. Au moyen-age, l'intime conviction que la nature voit
tres fréquemment ses lois interverties par la volonté divine régnait
dans les esprits, en sorte que pour peu qu'un fait se présentat avec
des apparences extraordinaires, on se hatait de le regarder comme un
miracle, comme loeuvre directe de la divinité. Aujourd'hui on cherche au
contraire à tout rapporter à la loi commune; on est tellement sobre de
faits miraculeux, que ceux qui paraissent tels sont ^cartes comme des
fables ou tonus pour des faits ordinaires mal expliques. La foi aux
miracles a disparu. En outre, au moyen-age le cercle des connaissances
qu'on possédait sur la nature était fort restreint, et tout ce qui n'y
rentrait pas était regardé comme surnatural.


Actuellement ce cercle s'agrandit sans cesse; et loin d'en avoir arreté
définitivement la limite, on le déclare infini." In a note the writer
adds: "On voit par la que le nombre des miracles doit etre en raison
inverse du nombre des lois connues de la nature, et, qu'a mesure que
celles-ci nous sont révélées, les faits merveilleux ou miraculeux
s'évanouissent."(1) These remarks are equally applicable to the
commencement of the Christian era. On the one hand, we have no other
testimony for the reality of miracles than that of ages in which not
only the grossest superstition and credulity prevailed, but in which
there was such total ignorance of natural laws that men were incapable
of judging of that reality, even if they desired impartially to
investigate such occurrences, which they did not; on the other hand, we
have the sober testimony of science declaring such phenomena violations
of the invariable laws of nature, and experience teaching us a perfectly
simple and natural interpretation of the legends regarding them. Are
we to believe ignorance and superstition or science and unvarying
experience? Science has already demonstrated the delusion involved
in the largest class of miracles, and has so far established the
superiority of her testimony.

In an early part of his discussion Dr. Mozley argues: "Christianity is
the religion of the civilized world, and

     1 L. F. Alfred Maury. Essai sur los Legendes pieuses du
     Moyen-age, 1843, p. 234 f., and p. 233, note (1).

     The same arguments are employed by the late Mr. Buckle.
     "Hence it is that, supposing other things equal, the
     superstition of a nation must always bear an exact
     proportion to the extent of its physical knowledge. This may
     be in some degree verified by the ordinary experience of
     mankind. For if we compare the different classes of society,
     we shall find that they are superstitious in proportion as
     the phenomena with which they are brought in contact have or
     have not been explained by natural laws." Hist, of
     Civilization, 1867, i. p. 373.


it is believed upon its miraculous evidence. Now, for a set of miracles
to be accepted in a rude age, and to retain their authority throughout a
succession of such ages, and over the ignorant and superstitious part
of mankind, may be no such great result for the miracle to accomplish,
because it is easy to satisfy those who do not inquire. But this is
not the state of the case which we have to meet on the subject of
the Christian miracles. The Christian being the most intelligent, the
civilized portion of the world, these miracles are accepted by the
Christian body as a whole, by the thinking and educated as well as
the uneducated part of it, and the Gospel is believed upon that
evidence."(1) The picture of Christendom here suggested is purely
imaginary. We are asked to believe that succeeding generations of
thinking and educated as well as uneducated men, since the commencement
of the period in which the adequate inquiry into the reality of miracles
became possible, have made that adequate inquiry, and have intelligently
and individually accepted miracles and believed the Gospel in
consequence of their attestation. The fact, however, is that
Christianity became the religion of Europe before men either possessed
the knowledge requisite to appreciate the difficulties involved in
the acceptance of miracles, or minds sufficiently freed from ignorant
superstition to question the reality of the supposed supernatural
interference with the order of nature, and belief had become so much a
matter of habit that, in this nineteenth century, the great majority of
men have professed belief for no better reason than that their fathers
believed before them. Belief is now little more than a transmitted
quality or hereditary custom. Few men, even


now, have either the knowledge or the leisure requisite to enable them
to enter upon such an examination of miracles as can entitle Dr. Mozley
to affirm that they intelligently accept miracles for themselves. We
have shown, moreover, that so loose are the ideas even of the clergy
upon the subject, that dignitaries of the church fail to see either the
evidential purpose of miracles or the need for evidence at all, and
the first intelligent step towards inquiry--doubt--has generally been
stigmatized almost as a crime.

So far from Dr. Mozley's statement being correct, it is notorious that
the great mass of those who are competent to examine, and who have done
so, altogether reject miracles. Instead of the "thinking and educated"
men of science accepting miracles, they, as a body, distinctly deny
them, and hence the antagonism between science and ecclesiastical
Christianity, and Dr. Mozley surely does not require to be told how many
of the profoundest critics and scholars of Germany, and of all other
countries in Europe, who have turned their attention to Biblical
subjects, have long ago rejected the miraculous elements of the
Christian religion. Such being the case we necessarily revert to the
first part of Dr. Mozley's representation, and find with him, that it
is no great result for miracles to accomplish, merely to be accepted by,
and retain authority over, a succession of ignorant and superstitious
ages, "because it is easy to satisfy those who do not inquire."

It is necessary that we should now refer to the circumstance that all
the arguments which we have hitherto considered in support of miracles,
whether to explain or account for them, have proceeded upon an
assumption of the reality of the alleged phenomena.


Had it been first requisite to establish the truth of facts of such an
astounding nature, the necessity of accounting for them might never have
arisen. It is clear, therefore, that an assumption which permits the
argument to attain any such position begs almost the whole question.
Facts, however astounding, which, it is admitted, did actually occur,
claim a latitude of explanation, which a mere narrative of those alleged
facts, written by an unknown person some eighteen centuries ago, could
not obtain. If, for instance, it be once established as an absolute
fact that a man actually dead, and some days buried, upon whose body
decomposition had already made some progress,(1) had been restored to
life, the fact of his death and of his subsequent resuscitation being so
absolutely proved that the possibility of deception or of mistake on the
part of the witnesses was totally excluded--if such conclusive evidence
be supposed possible in such a case--it is clear that an argument, as to
whether such an occurrence were to be ascribed to known or unknown laws,
would assume a very different character indeed from that which it would
have borne if the argument merely sought to account for so astounding a
phenomenon of whose actual occurrence there was no sufficient evidence.

It must not be forgotten, therefore, that, as the late Professor Baden
Powell pointed out: "At the present day it is not _a miracle_, but the
_narrative of a miracle_, to which any argument can refer, or to which
faith is accorded."(2) The discussion of miracles, then, is not one
regarding miracles actually performed within our own knowledge, but
merely regarding miracles said to have been performed eighteen hundred
years ago, the reality of


which was not verified at the time by any scientific examination, and
whose occurrence is merely reported in the Gospels. Now, although Dr.
Mozley rightly and logically maintains that Christianity requires, and
should be believed only upon, its miraculous evidence, the fact is that
popular Christianity is not believed because of miracles, but miracles
are accepted because they are related in the Gospels which are supposed
to contain the doctrines of Christianity. The Gospels have for many
generations been given to the child as inspired records, and doubt
of miracles has, therefore, either never arisen or has been instantly
suppressed, simply because miracles are recorded in the sacred volume.
It could scarcely be otherwise, for in point of fact the Gospel miracles
stand upon no other testimony. We are therefore in this position: We
are asked to believe astounding announcements beyond the limits of
human reason, which, as Br. Mozley admits, we could only be justified in
believing upon miraculous evidence, upon the testimony of miracles
which are only reported by the records which also alone convey the
announcements which those miracles were intended to accredit. There is
no other contemporary evidence whatever. The importance of the Gospels,
therefore, as the almost solitary testimony to the occurrence of
miracles can scarcely be exaggerated.(1) We have already

     1 Dr. Farrar, winding up the antecedent discussion, says:
     ".... we arrive at this point--that the credibility of
     miracles is in each instance simply and solely a question of
     evidence, and consequently that our belief or rejection of
     the Christian miracles must mainly depend on the character
     of the Gospels in which they are recorded." The Witness of
     History to Christ, 1872, p. 51. It is somewhat singular that
     after such a declaration he considers it unnecessary to
     enter into the question of the genuineness and authenticity
     of the Gospels, deeming it sufficient for his purpose, that
     Strauss and Renan admit that some portion of these documents
     existed at the beginning of the second century, or earlier,
     in the country where the events narrated took place.


made an anticipatory remark regarding the nature of these documents,
to which we may add that they are not the work of perfectly independent
historians, but of men who were engaged in disseminating the new
doctrines, and in saying this we have no intention of accusing the
writers of conscious deception; it is, however, necessary to state the
fact in order that the value of the testimony may be fairly estimated.
The narratives of miracles were written by ardent partizans, with minds
inflamed by religious zeal and enthusiasm, in an age of ignorance
and superstition, a considerable time after the supposed miraculous
occurrences had taken place. All history shows how rapidly pious memory
exaggerates and idealizes the traditions of the past, and simple
actions might readily be transformed into miracles, as the narratives
circulated, in a period so prone to superstition and so characterized
by love of the marvellous. Religious excitement and reverence for the
noblest of Teachers could not, under such circumstances and in such an
age, have escaped this exaggeration. How few men in more enlightened
times have been able soberly to appreciate, and accurately to record
exciting experiences, where feeling and religious emotion have been
concerned. Prosaic accuracy of observation and of language, at all times
rare, are the last qualities we could expect to find in the early ages
of Christianity. In the certain fact that disputes arose among the
Apostles themselves so shortly after the death of their great Master, we
have one proof that even amongst them there was no accurate appreciation
of the teaching of Jesus,(1) and the frequent instances of their
misunderstanding of very simple matters, and of their want of
enlightenment, which occur throughout the


Gospels are certainly not calculated to inspire much confidence in their
intelligence and accuracy of observation. Now it is apparent that the
evidence for Miracles requires to embrace two distinct points: the
reality of the alleged facts, and the accuracy of the inference that the
phenomena were produced by supernatural Agency. The task would even then
remain of demonstrating the particular supernatural Being by whom the
miracles were performed, which is admitted to be impossible. We have
hitherto chiefly confined ourselves to a consideration of the antecedent
credibility of such events, and of the fitness of those who are supposed
to have witnessed them to draw accurate inferences from the alleged
phenomena. Those who have formed any adequate conception of the amount
of testimony which would be requisite in order to establish the reality
of occurrences in violation of an order of Nature, which is based upon
universal and invariable experience, must recognize that, even if the
earliest asserted origin of our four Gospels could be established upon
the most irrefragable grounds, the testimony of the writers--men of
like ignorance with their contemporaries, men of like passions with
ourselves--would be utterly incompetentto prove the reality of Miracles.
We have already sufficiently discussed this point, more especially
in connection with Hume's argument, and need not here resume it Every
consideration, historical and philosophical, has hitherto discredited
the whole theory of miracles, and further inquiry might be abandoned as
unnecessary. In order, however, to render our conclusion complete,
it remains for us to see whether, as affirmed, there be any special
evidence regarding the alleged facts entitling the Gospel Miracles to
exceptional attention. If, instead of being


clear, direct, the undoubted testimony of known eyewitnesses free
from superstition, and capable, through adequate knowledge, rightly to
estimate the alleged phenomena, we find that the actual accounts have
none of these qualifications, the final decision with regard to Miracles
and the reality of Divine Revelation will be easy and conclusive.




Before commencing our examination of the evidence as to the date,
authorship, and character of the Gospels, it may be well to make a few
preliminary remarks, and clearly state certain canons of criticism. We
shall make no attempt to establish any theory as to the date at which
any of the Gospels was actually written, but simply examine all the
testimony which is extant with the view of ascertaining what is known
of these works and their authors, certainly and distinctly, as
distinguished from what is merely conjectured or inferred. Modern
opinion, in an Inquiry like ours, must not be mistaken for ancient
evidence. We propose, therefore, as exhaustively as possible to search
all the writings of the early Church for information regarding the
Gospels, and to examine even the alleged indications of their use.

It is very important, however, that the silence of early writers should
receive as much attention as any supposed allusions to the Gospels. When
such writers, quoting largely from the Old Testament and other sources,


with subjects which would naturally be assisted by reference to our
Gospels, and still more so by quoting such works as authoritative,--and
yet we find that not only they do not show any knowledge of those
Gospels, but actually quote passages from unknown sources, or sayings
of Jesus derived from tradition,--the inference must be that our Gospels
were either unknown, or not recognized as works of authority at the

It is still more important that we should constantly bear in mind,
that a great number of Gospels existed in the early Church which are no
longer extant, and of most of which even the names are lost. We need
not here do more than refer, in corroboration of this fact, to the
preliminary statement of the author of the third Gospel: "Forasmuch as
many [--Greek--] took in hand to set forth in order a declaration of the
things which have been accomplished among us," &c.(1) It is therefore
evident that before our third Synoptic was written many similar works
were already in circulation. Looking at the close similarity of large
portions of the three Synoptics, it is almost certain that many of the
writings here mentioned bore a close analogy to each other and to our
Gospels, and this is known to have been the case, for instance, amongst
the various forms of the "Gospel according to the Hebrews." When,
therefore, in early writings, we meet with quotations closely
resembling, or we may add, even identical with passages which are found
in our Gospels, the source of which, however, is not mentioned, nor is
any author's name indicated, the similarity or even identity cannot by
any means be admitted as proof that the quotation is necessarily from
our Gospels, and not from some other similar work


now no longer extant,(1) and more especially not when, in the same
writings, there are other quotations from sources different from our
Gospels. Whether regarded as historical records or as writings embodying
the mere tradition of the early Christians, our Gospels cannot be
recognized as the exclusive depositaries of the genuine sayings and
doings of Jesus. So far from the common possession by many works, in
early times, of sayings of Jesus in closely similar form being either
strange or improbable, the really remarkable phenomenon is that such
material variation in the report of the more important historical
teaching should exist amongst them. But whilst similarity to our Gospels
in passages quoted by early writers from unnamed sources cannot prove
the use of our Gospels, variation from them would suggest or prove a
different origin, and at least it is obvious that anonymous quotations
which do not agree with our Gospels cannot in any case necessarily
indicate their existence. We shall in the course of the following pages
more fully illustrate this, but such a statement is requisite at the
very outset from the too general practice of referring every quotation
of historical sayings of Jesus exclusively to our Gospels, as though
they were the only sources of such matter which had ever existed.

It is unnecessary to add that, in proportion as we remove from apostolic
times without positive evidence of the existence and authenticity of
our Gospels, so does the value of their testimony dwindle away. Indeed,
requiring as we do clear, direct, and irrefragable evidence of the
integrity, authenticity, and historical character of these Gospels,
doubt or obscurity on these points must inevitably be fatal to them as
sufficient testimony,--if


they could, under any circumstances be considered sufficient
testimony,--for miracles and a direct Divine Revelation like
ecclesiastical Christianity.

We propose to examine first, the evidence for the three Synoptics and,
then, separately, the testimony regarding the fourth Gospel.



The first work which presents itself for examination is the so-called
first Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, which, together with a
second Epistle to the same community, likewise attributed to Clement, is
preserved to us in the Codex Alexandrinus,(1) a MS. assigned by the most
competent judges to the second half of the fifth, or beginning of the
sixth century, in which these Epistles follow the books of the New
Testament. The second Epistle, which is evidently not epistolary, but
the fragment of a Homily,(2) although it thus shares with the first the
honour of a canonical position in one of the most ancient codices of the
New Testament, is not mentioned at all by the earlier fathers who refer
to the first;(3)


and Eusebius,(1) who is the first writer who mentions it, expresses
doubt regarding it, while Jerome(2) and Photius(3) state that it was
rejected by the ancients. It is now universally regarded as spurious,(4)
and dated about the end of the second century,(5) or later.(6) We shall
hereafter see that many other pseudographs were circulated in the name
of Clement, to which, however, we need not further allude at present.

There has been much controversy as to the identity of the Clement to
whom the first Epistle is attributed. In early days he was supposed to
be the Clement


mentioned in the Epistle to the Philippians (iv. 3)(1), but this is now
generally doubted or abandoned,(2) and the authenticity of the
Epistle has, indeed, been called in question both by earlier and later
critics.(3) It is unnecessary to detail the various traditions regarding
the supposed writer, but we must point out that the Epistle itself makes
no mention of the author's name. It merely purports to be addressed
by "The Church of God which sojourns at Rome to the Church of God
sojourning at Corinth;" but in the Codex Alexandrinus, the title of
"The first Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians," is added at the
end. Clement of Alexandria calls the supposed writer the "Apostle
Clement:"(4) Origen reports that many also ascribed to him the
authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews;(5) and Photius mentions that
he was likewise said to be the writer of the Acts of the Apostles.(6)
We know that until a comparatively late date this Epistle was quoted as
Holy Scripture,(7) and was publicly read in the churches at the Sunday
meetings of Christians.(8) It has, as we have seen, a place amongst


the canonical books of the New Testament in the Codex Alexandrinus, but
it did not long retain that position in the canon, for although in the
"Apostolic Canons"(1) of the sixth or seventh century both Epistles
appear, yet in the Stichometry of Nicephorus, a work of the ninth
century, derived, however, as Credner(2) has demonstrated, from a Syrian
catalogue of the fifth century, both Epistles are classed among the

Great uncertainty prevails as to the date at which the Epistle was
written. Reference is supposed to be made to it by the so-called Epistle
of Polycarp,(4) but, owing to the probable inauthenticity of that
work itself, no weight can be attached to this circumstance. The first
certain reference to it is by Hegesippus, in the second half of the
second century, mentioned by Eusebius.(5) Dionysius of Corinth, in a
letter ascribed to him addressed to Soter, Bishop of Rome, is the
first who distinctly mentions the name of Clement as the author of the
Epistle.(6) There is some difference of opinion as to the order of his
succession to the Bishopric of Rome. Irenæus(7) and Eusebius(8) say that
he followed Anacletus, and the latter adds the date of the twelfth
year of the reign of Domitian (a.d. 91-92), and that he died nine years
after, in the third year of Trajan's reign (a.d. 100).(9) Internal
evidence(10) shows that the Epistle was written after some persecution


of the Roman Church, and the selection lies between the persecution
under Nero, which would suggest the date a.d. 64-70, or that under
Domitian, which would assign the letter to the end of the first century,
or to the beginning of the second. Those who adhere to the view that
the Clement mentioned in the Epistle to the Philippians is the author,
maintain that the Epistle was written under Nero.(1) One of their
principal arguments for this conclusion is a remark occurring in Chapter
xli.: "Not everywhere, brethren, are the daily sacrifices offered up, or
the votive offerings, or the sin-offerings and the trespass-offerings,
but only in Jerusalem. But even there they are not offered in every
place, but only at the altar before the Sanctuary, examination of the
sacrifice offered being first made by the High Priest and the ministers
already mentioned."(2) From this it is concluded that the Epistle was
written before the destruction of the Temple. It has, however, been
shown that Josephus,(3) the author of the "Epistle to Diognetus" (c. 3),
and others, long after the Jewish worship of the Temple was at an
end, continually speak in the present tense of the Temple worship in
Jerusalem; and it is evident, as Cotelier long ago remarked, that this
may be done with propriety even in the present


day. The argument is therefore recognized to be without value.(l)
Tischendorf, who systematically adopts the earliest possible or
impossible dates for all the writings of the first two centuries,
decides, without stating his reasons, that the grounds for the earlier
date, about a.d. 69, as well as for the episcopate of Clement from a.d.
68-77(2) are conclusive; but he betrays his more correct impression by
classing Clement, in his index, along with Ignatius and Polycarp, as
representatives of the period: "First and second quarters of the second
century:"(3) and in the Prolegomena to his New Testament he dates the
episcopate of Clement "ab anno 92 usque 102."(4) The earlier episcopate
assigned to him by Hefele upon most insufficient grounds is contradicted
by the direct statements of Irenæus, Eusebius, Jerome, and others who
give the earliest lists of Roman Bishops,(5) as wrell as by the internal
evidence of the Epistle itself. In Chapter xliv. the writer speaks of
those appointed by the apostles to the oversight of the Church, "or
afterwards by other notable men, the whole Church consenting.... who
have for a long time been commended by all, &c.,"(6) which indicates
successions of Bishops since apostolic days. In another


place (Chap, xlvii.) he refers the Corinthians to the Epistle addressed
to them by Paul "in the beginning of the Gospel" [--Greek--], and speaks
of "the most stedfast and ancient Church of the Corinthians" [--Greek--],
which would be absurd in an Epistle written about a.d. 69. Moreover, an
advanced episcopal form of Church Government is indicated throughout the
letter, which is quite inconsistent with such a date. The great mass
of critics, therefore, have decided against the earlier date of the
episcopate of Clement, and assign the composition of the Epistle to
the end of the first century (a.d. 95-100).(1) Others, however, date it
still later. There is no doubt that the great number of Epistles and


other writings falsely circulated in the name of Clement may well excite
suspicion as to the authenticity of this Epistle also, which is far from
unsupported by internal proofs. Of these, however, we shall only mention
one. We have already incidentally remarked that the writer mentions the
Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, the only instance in which any New
Testament writing is referred to by name; but along with the Epistle
of the "blessed Paul" [--Greek--] the author also speaks of the "blessed
Judith" [--Greek--],(1) and this leads to the inquiry: When was the Book
of Judith written? Hitzig, Volkmar, and others contend that it must be
dated a.d. 117-118,(3) and if this be admitted, it follows of course
that an Epistle which already shows acquaintance with the Book of Judith
cannot have been written before a.d. 120-125 at the earliest, which
many, for this and other reasons, affirm to be the case with the Epistle
of pseudo-Clement.(3) Whatever date be assigned to it, however, it is
probable that the Epistle is interpolated,4 although it must be added
that this is not the view of the majority of critics.

It is important to ascertain whether or not this ancient christian
Epistle affords any evidence of the existence of


our Synoptic Gospels at the time when it was written. Tischendorf,
who is ever ready to claim the slightest resemblance in language as a
reference to New Testament writings, states that although this Epistle
is rich in quotations from the Old Testament, and that Clement here
and there also makes use of passages from Pauline Epistles, he nowhere
refers to the Gospels.(1) This is perfectly true, but several passages
occur in this Epistle which are either quotations from Evangelical works
different from ours, or derived from tradition,(2) and in either case
they have a very important bearing upon our inquiry.

The first of these passages occurs in Ch. xiii., and for greater
facility of comparison, we shall at once place it both in the Greek and
in translation, in juxta-position with the nearest parallel readings
in our Synoptic Gospels; and, as far as may be, we shall in the English
version indicate differences existing in the original texts. The passage
is introduced thus: "Especially remembering the words of the Lord Jesus,
which he spake teaching gentleness and long-suffering. For thus he


Of course it is understood that, although for convenience


of comparison we have broken up this quotation into these phrases, it
is quite continuous in the Epistle. It must be evident to any one who
carefully examines the parallel passages, that "the words of the Lord
Jesus" in the Epistle cannot have been derived from our Gospels.
Not only is there no similar consecutive discourse in them, but the
scattered phrases which are pointed out as presenting superficial
similarity with the quotation are markedly different both in thought and
language. In it, as in the "beatitudes" of the "Sermon on the Mount"
in the first Gospel, the construction is peculiar and continuous: "Do
this.... in order that [--Greek--]"; or, "As [--Greek--]... so [--Greek--]"
The theor of a combination of passages from memory, which is usually
advanced to explain such quotations, cannot serve here, for thoughts and
expressions occur in the passage in the Epistle which have no parallel
at all in our Gospels, and such dismembered phrases as can be collected
from our first and third Synoptics, for comparison with it, follow the
course of the quotation in the ensuing order: Matt. v. 7, vi. 14,
part of vii. 12, phrase without parallel, first part of vii. 2, phrase
without parallel, last part of vii. 2; or, Luke vi. 36, last phrase of
vi. 37, vi. 31, first phrase of vi. 38, first phrase of vi. 37, phrase
without parallel, last phrase of vi. 38.

The only question with regard to this passage, therefore, is whether
the writer quotes from an unknown written source or from tradition. He
certainly merely professes to repeat "words of the Lord Jesus," and does
not definitely indicate a written record, but it is much more probable,
from the context, that he quotes from a gospel now no longer extant than
that he derives this teaching from oral tradition. He introduces the


not only with a remark implying a well-known record: "Remembering
the words of the Lord Jesus which he spake, teaching, &c." but he
reiterates: "For thus he said," in a way suggesting careful and precise
quotation of the very words; and he adds at the end: "By this injunction
and by these instructions let us establish ourselves, that we may walk
in obedience to his holy words, thinking humbly of ourselves."(1) seems
improbable that the writer would so markedly have indicated a precise
quotation of words of Jesus, and would so emphatically have commended
them as the rule of life to the Corinthians, had these precepts been
mere floating tradition, until then unstamped with written permanence.
The phrase: "As ye show kindness [--Greek--] which is nowhere found in our
Gospels, recalls an expression quoted by Justin Martyr apparently from
a Gospel different from ours, and frequently repeated by him in the same
form: "Be ye kind and merciful [--Greek--] Father also is kind [--Greek--]
and merciful."(2) In the very next chapter of the Epistle a similar
reference again occurs: "Let us be kind to each other [--Greek--] according
to the mercy and benignity of our Creator."(3) Without, however, going
more minutely into this question, it is certain from its essential
variations in language, thought and order, that the passage in the
Epistle cannot be claimed as a compilation from our Gospels; and we
shall presently see that some of the expressions in it which are foreign
to our Gospels are elsewhere quoted by other Fathers, and there is
reason to believe that these "words of the Lord Jesus" were not derived
from tradition but


from a written source different from our Gospels.(1) When the great
difference which exists between the parallel passages in the first
and third Synoptics, and still more between these and the second,
is considered, it is easy to understand that other Gospels may have
contained a version differing as much from them as they do from each

We likewise subjoin the next passage to which we must refer, with the
nearest parallels in our Synoptics. We may explain that the writer
of the Epistle is rebuking the Corinthians for strifes and divisions
amongst them, and for forgetting that they "are members one of another,"
and he continues: "Remember the words of our Lord Jesus; for he


This quotation is clearly not from our Gospels, but must be assigned
to a different written source. The writer would scarcely refer the
Corinthians to such words of Jesus if they were merely traditional.
It is neither a combination of texts, nor a quotation from memory.
The language throughout is markedly different from any passage in the
Synoptics, and to present even a superficial parallel, it is necessary
to take a fragment of the discourse of Jesus at the Last Supper
regarding the traitor who should deliver him up (Matth. xxvi. 24), and
join it to a fragment of his remarks in connection with the little child
whom he set in the midst (xviii. 6). The parallel passage in Luke has


the opening words of the passage in the Epistle at all, and the portion
which it contains (xvii. 2), is separated from the context in which
it stands in the first Gospel, and which explains its meaning. If we
contrast the parallel passages in the three Synoptics, their differences
of context are very suggestive, and without referring to their numerous
and important variations in detail, the confusion amongst them is
evidence of very varying tradition.(1) This alone would make the
existence of another form like that quoted in the Epistle before us more
than probable.

Tischendorf, in a note to his statement that Clement nowhere refers to
the Gospels, quotes the passage we are now considering, the only one to
which he alludes, and says: "These words are expressly cited as 'words
of Jesus our Lord;' but they denote much more oral apostolic tradition
than a use of the parallel passages in Matthew (xxvi. 24, xviii. 6)
and Luke (xvii. 2)."(2) It is now, of course, impossible to determine
finally whether the passage was actually derived from tradition or from
a written source different from our Gospels, but in either case the fact
is, that the Epistle not only does not afford the slightest evidence
for the existence of any of our Gospels, but from only making use of
tradition or an apocryphal work as the source of information regarding
words of Jesus, it is decidedly opposed to the pretensions made on
behalf of the Synoptics.


Before passing on, we may, in the briefest way possible, refer to one or
two other passages, with the view of further illustrating the character
of the quotations in this Epistle. There are many passages cited which
are not found in the Old Testament, and others which have no parallels
in the New. At the beginning of the very chapter in which the words
which we have just been considering occur, there is the following
quotation: "It-is written: Cleave to the holy, for they who cleave
to them shall be made holy,"(1) the source of which is unknown. In a
previous chapter the writer says: "And our Apostles knew, through our
Lord Jesus Christ, that there will be contention regarding the name,
[--Greek--], office, dignity?) of the episcopate."(2) What was the writers
authority for this statement? We find Justin Martyr quoting, as an
express prediction of Jesus: "There shall be schisms and heresies,"(3)
which is not contained in our gospels, but evidently derived from an
uncanonical source,(4) a fact rendered more apparent by the occurrence
of a similar passage in the Clementine Homilies, still more closely
bearing upon our Epistle: "For there shall be, as the Lord said,
false apostles, false prophets, heresies, desires for supremacy."(5)
Hegesippus also speaks in a similar way: "From these came the


false Christs, false prophets, false apostles who divided the unity of
the Church."(l) As Hegesippus, and in all probability Justin Martyr, and
the author of the Clementines made use of the Gospel according to the
Hebrews, or to Peter, it is most probable that these Gospels contained
passages to which the words of the Epistle may refer.(2) It may be well
to point out that the author also cites a passage from the Fourth Book
of Ezra, ii. 16:(3) "And I shall remember the good day, and I shall
raise you from your tombs."(4) Ezra reads: "Et resuscitabo mor-tuos de
locis suis et de monumentis educam illos," &c. The first part of the
quotation in the Epistle, of which we have only given the latter clause
above, is taken from Isaiah xxvi. 20, but there can be no doubt that the
above is from this apocryphal book,(5) which, as we shall see, was much
used in the early Church.


We now turn to the so-called "Epistle of Barnabas," another interesting
relic of the early Church, many points in whose history have
considerable analogy with that of the Epistle of pseudo-Clement. The
letter itself bears no author's name, is not dated from any place, and
is not addressed to any special community. Towards the


end of the second century, however, tradition began to ascribe it to
Barnabas the companion of Paul.(1) The first writer who mentions it is
Clement of Alexandria, who calls its author several times the "Apostle
Barnabas;"(2) and Eusebius says that he gave an account of it in one of
his works now no longer extant.(3) Origen also refers to it, calling it
a "Catholic Epistle," and quoting it as Scripture.(4) We have already
seen in the case of the Epistles ascribed to Clement of Rome, and, as we
proceed, we shall become only too familiar with the fact, the singular
facility with which, in the total absence of critical discrimination,
spurious writings were ascribed by the Fathers to Apostles and their
followers. In many cases such writings were deliberately inscribed with
names well known in the Church, but both in the case of the two Epistles
to the Corinthians, and the letter we are now considering, no such
pious fraud was attempted, nor was it necessary. Credulous piety, which
attributed writings to every Apostle, and even to Jesus himself, soon
found authors for each anonymous work of an edifying character. To
Barnabas, the friend of Paul, not only this Epistle was referred, but
he was also reported by Tertullian and others to be the author of
the Epistle to the Hebrews;(5) and an apocryphal "Gospel according to
Barnabas," said to have had close affinity with our


first Synoptic, is condemned along with many others in the decretal
of Gelasius.(1) Eusebius, however, classes the so-called "Epistle of
Barnabas" amongst the spurious books [--Greek--],(2) and elsewhere also
speaks of it as uncanonical.(3) Jerome mentions it as read amongst
apocryphal writings.(4) Had the Epistle been seriously regarded as a
work of the "Apostle" Barnabas, it could scarcely have failed to attain
canonical rank. That it was highly valued by the early Church is shown
by the fact that it stands, along with the Pastor of Hermas, after the
Canonical books of the New Testament in the Codex Sinaiticus, which is
probably the most ancient MS. of them now known. In the earlier days of
criticism, some writers, without much question, adopted the traditional
view as to the authorship of the Epistle,(5) but the great mass of
critics are now agreed in asserting that the composition, which itself
is perfectly anonymous, cannot be attributed to Barnabas the friend and
fellow-worker of Paul.(6) Those who maintain the former opinion date


the Epistle about a.d. 70--73, or even earlier, but this is scarcely
the view of any living critic. There are many indications in the Epistle
which render such a date impossible, but we do not propose to go into
the argument minutely, for it is generally admitted that, whilst there
is a clear limit further back than which the Epistle cannot be set,(1)
there is little or no certainty how far into the second century its
composition may not reasonably be advanced. Critics are divided upon the
point; a few are disposed to date the Epistle about the end of the first
or beginning of the second century (2} while a still greater number
assign it to the reign of Hadrian (a.d.


117--138);(1) and others, not without reason, consider that it exhibits
marks of a still later period.(2) It is probable that it is more or less
interpolated.(3) Until the discovery of the Sinaitic MS., a portion
of the "Epistle of Barnabas" was only known through an ancient Latin
version, the first four and a half chapters of the Greek having been
lost. The Greek text, however, is now complete, although often very
corrupt. The author quotes largely from the Old Testament, and also from
apocryphal works.(4) He nowhere mentions any book or writer of the New
Testament, and with one asserted exception, which we shall presently
examine, he quotes no passage agreeing with our Gospels. We shall refer
to these, commencing at once with the most important.

In the ancient Latin translation of the Epistle, the only form, as we
have just said, in which until the discovery


of the Codex Sinaiticus the first four and a half chapters were extant,
the following passage occurs: "Adtendamus ergo, ne forte, sicut scriptum
est, multi vocati pauci electi inveniamur."(l) "Let us, therefore,
beware lest we should be found, as it is written: Many are called, few
are chosen." These words are found in our first Gospel (xxii. 14), and
as the formula by which they are here introduced--"it is written," is
generally understood to indicate a quotation from Holy Scripture, it
was and is argued by some that here we have a passage from one of our
Gospels quoted in a manner which shows that, at the time the Epistle
of Barnabas was written, the "Gospel according to Matthew was already
considered Holy Scripture."(3) Whilst this portion of the text existed
only in the Latin version, it was argued that the "sicut scriptum est,"
at least, must be an interpolation, and in any case that it could not be
deliberately applied, at that date, to a passage in any writings of the
New Testament. On the discovery of the Sinaitic MS., however, the words
were found in the Greek text in that Codex: [--Greek--]. The question,
therefore, is so far modified that, however much we may suspect the
Greek text of interpolation, it must be accepted as the basis of
discussion that this passage, whatever its value, exists in the oldest,
and indeed only (and this point must not be forgotten) complete MS. of
the Greek Epistle.

Now with regard to the value of the expression "it is written," it may
be remarked that in no case could its use in the Epistle of Barnabas
indicate more than individual opinion, and it could not, for reasons to

presently given, be considered to represent the decision of the Church.
In the very same chapter in which the formula is used in connection
with the passage we are considering, it is also employed to introduce a
quotation from the Book of Enoch,(1) [--Greek--], and elsewhere (c. xii.)
he quotes from another apocryphal book(2) as one of the prophets.(3)"
Again, he refers to the Cross of Christ in another prophet saying: 'And
when shall these things come to pass? and the Lord saith: When, &c. ...

.......[--Greek--]." He also quotes (ch. vi.) the apocryphal "Book of
Wisdom" as Holy Scripture, and in like manner several other unknown
works. When it is remembered that the Epistle of Clement to the
Corinthians, the Pastor of Hennas, the Epistle of Barnabas itself, and
many other apocryphal works have been quoted by the Fathers as
Holy Scripture, the distinctive value of such an expression may be

With this passing remark, however, we proceed to say that this supposed
quotation from Matthew as Holy Scripture, by proving too much, destroys
its own value as evidence. The generality of competent and


impartial critics are agreed, that it is impossible to entertain the
idea that one of our Gospels could have held the rank of Holy Scripture
at the date of this Epistle, seeing that, for more than half a century
after, the sharpest line was drawn between the writings of the Old
Testament and of the New, and the former alone quoted as, or accorded
the consideration of, Holy Scripture.1 If this were actually a quotation
from our first Gospel, already in the position of Holy Scripture,
it would indeed be astonishing that the Epistle, putting out of the
question other Christian writings for half a century after it, teeming
as it does with extracts from the Old Testament, and from known, and
unknown, apocryphal works, should thus limit its use of the Gospel to
a few words, totally neglecting the rich store which it contains, and
quoting, on the other hand, sayings of Jesus not recorded at all in
any of our Synoptics. It is most improbable that, if the author of the
"Epistle of Barnabas" was acquainted with any one of our Gospels, and
considered it an inspired and canonical work, he could have neglected it
in such a manner. The peculiarity of the quotation which he is supposed
to make, which we shall presently point out, renders such limitation to
it doubly singular upon any such hypothesis. The unreasonable nature of
the assertion, however, will become more apparent as we proceed with
our examination, and perceive that none of the early writers quote our


if they knew them at all, but, on the other hand, make use of other
works, and that the inference that Matthew was considered Holy
Scripture, therefore, rests solely upon this quotation of half a dozen

The application of such a formula to a supposed quotation from one of
our Gospels, in so isolated an instance, led to the belief that, even
if the passage were taken from our first Synoptic, the author of the
Epistle in quoting it laboured under the impression that it was derived
from some prophetical book.(1) We daily see how difficult it is to
trace the source even of the most familiar quotations. Instances of such
confusion of memory are frequent in the writings of the Fathers, and
many can be pointed out in the New Testament itself. For instance, in
Matt, xxvii. 9 f. the passage from Zechariah xi. 12-13 is attributed to
Jeremiah; in Mark i. 2, a quotation from Malachi iii. 1 is ascribed to
Isaiah. In 1 Corinthians ii. 9, a passage is quoted as Holy Scripture
which is not found in the Old Testament at all, but which is taken, as
Origen and Jerome state, from an apocryphal work, "The Revelation of
Elias,"(2) and the passage is similarly quoted by the so-called Epistle
of Clement to the Corinthians (xxxiv). Then in what prophet did the
author of the first Gospel find the words (xiil 35): "That it might be
fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet,(3) saying: I will open my
mouth in parables; I


will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the
world "?

Orelli,(1) afterwards followed by many others,(2) suggested that the
quotation was probably intended for one in IV Ezra viii. 3: "Nam multi
creati sunt, pauci autem salvabuntur."(3) "For many are created, but few
shall be saved." Bretsclineider proposed as an emendation of the passage
in Ezra the substitution of "_vocati_" for "_creati_" but, however
plausible, his argument did not meet with much favour.(4) Along with
this passage was also suggested a similar expression in IV Ezra ix. 15:
"Plures sunt qui pereunt, quam qui salvabuntur." "There are more who
perish than who shall be saved."(5) The Greek of the three passages may
read as follows:--




There can be no doubt that the sense of the reading in IV Ezra is
exactly that of the Epistle, but the language is somewhat different. We
must not forget, however, that the original Greek of IV Ezra(6) is
lost, and that we are wholly dependent on the versions and MSS. extant,
regarding whose numerous variations and great


corruption there are no differences of opinion. Orelli's theory,
moreover, is supported by the fact that the Epistle, elsewhere, (c. xii)
quotes from IV Ezra (iv. 33, v. 5).

On examining the passage as it occurs in our first Synoptic, we are
at the very outset struck by the singular fact, that this short saying
appears twice in that Gospel with a different context, and in each case
without any propriety of application to what precedes it, whilst it is
not found at all in either of the other two Synoptics. The first time
we meet with it is at the close of the parable of the labourers in the
vineyard.(1) The householder engages the labourers at different hours
of the day, and pays those who had worked but one hour the same wages as
those who had borne the burden and heat of the day, and the reflection
at the close is, xx. 16: "Thus the last shall be first and the first
last; for many are called but few chosen." It is perfectly evident that
neither of these sayings, but especially not that with which we are
concerned, has any connection with the parable at all. There is no
question of many or few, or of selection or rejection; all the labourers
are engaged and paid alike. If there be a moral at all to the parable,
it is the justification of the master: "Is it not lawful for me to do
what I will with mine own?" It is impossible to imagine a saying more
irrelevant to its context than "many are called but few chosen," in
such a place. The passage occurs again (xxii. 14) in connection with the
parable of the king who made a marriage for his son. The guests who are
at first invited refuse to come, and are destroyed by the king's armies;
but the wedding is nevertheless "furnished


with guests" by gathering together as many as are found in the highways.
A new episode commences when the king comes in to see the guests (v.
11). He observes a man there who has not on a wedding garment, and he
desires the servants to (v. 13) "Bind him hand and foot, and cast him
into the darkness without," where "there shall be weeping and gnashing
of teeth;"(1) and then comes our passage (v. 14): "For many are called
but few chosen." Now, whether applied to the first or to the latter part
of the parable, the saying is irrelevant. The guests first called were
in fact chosen as much as the last, but themselves refused to come,
and of all those who, being "called" from the highways and byways,
ultimately furnished the wedding with guests in their stead, only one
was rejected. It is clear that the facts here distinctly contradict the
moral that "few are chosen." In both places the saying is, as it were,
"dragged in by the hair." On examination, however, we find that the
oldest MSS. of the New Testament omit the sentence from Matthew xx. 16.
It is neither found in the Sinaitic nor Vatican codices, and whilst it
has not the support of the Codex Alexandrinus, which is defective at the
part, nor of the Dublin rescript (z), which omits it, many other MSS.
are also without it. The total irrelevancy of the saying to its context,
its omission by the oldest authorities from Matth. xx. 16, where it
appears in later MSS., and its total absence from both of the other
Gospels, must at once strike every one as peculiar, and as very
unfortunate, to say

     1 This is not the place to criticize the expectation of
     finding a wedding garment on a guest hurried in from
     highways and byways, or the punishment inflicted for such an
     offence, as questions affecting the character of the


the least of it, for those who make extreme assertions with regard to
its supposed quotation by the Epistle of Barnabas. Weizsacker, with
great probability, suggests that in this passage we have merely
a well-known proverb,(1) which the author of the first gospel has
introduced into his work from some uncanonical or other source, and
placed in the mouth of Jesus.(2) Certainly under the circumstances it
can scarcely be maintained in its present context as a historical saying
of Jesus. Ewald, who naturally omits it from Matthew xx. 16, ascribes
the parable xx. 1--16 as well as that xxii. 1--14, in which it stands,
originally to the Spruchsammlung(3) or collection of discourses, out of
which, with intermediate works, he considers that our first Gospel was
composed.(4) However this may be, there is, it seems to us, good reason
for believing that it was not originally a part of these parables, and
that it is not in that sense historical; and there is, therefore, no
ground for asserting that it may not have been derived by the author of
the Gospel from some older work, from which also it may have come into
the "Epistle of Barnabas."(5)


There is, however, another passage which deserves to be mentioned. The
Epistle has the following quotation: "Again, I will show thee how, in
regard to us, the Lord saith, He made a new creation in the last
times. The Lord saith: Behold I make the first as the last."(l) Even
Tischendorf does not pretend that this is a quotation of Matth. xx.
16,(2) "Thus the last shall be first and the first last," [--Greek--] the
sense of which is quite different. The application of the saying in
this place in the first, and indeed in the other, Synoptic Gospels is
evidently quite false, and depends merely on the ring of words and not
of ideas. In xix. 30 it is quoted a second time, quite irrelevantly,
with some variation: "But many first shall be last and last first"
[--Greek--]. Now it will be remembered that at xx. 16 it occurs in several
MSS. in connection with "Many are called but few are chosen," although
the oldest codices omit the latter passage, and most critics consider it
interpolated. The separate quotation of these two passages by the author
of the Epistle, with so marked a variation in the second, renders it
most probable that he found both in the source from which he quotes. We
have, however, more than sufficiently discussed this passage. The author
of the Epistle does not indicate any source from which he makes his
quotation; and the mere existence in the first Synoptic of a proverbial


like this does not in the least involve the conclusion that it is
necessarily the writing from which the quotation was derived, more
especially as apocryphal works are repeatedly cited in the Epistle. If
it be maintained that the saying is really historical, it is obvious
that the prescriptive right of our Synoptic is at once excluded, and it
may have been the common property of a score of evangelical works.

There can be no doubt that many Scriptural texts have crept into early
Christian writings which originally had no place there; and where
attendant circumstances are suspicious, it is always well to remember
the fact. An instance of the interpolation of which we speak is found in
the "Epistle of Barnabas." In one place the phrase: "Give to every one
that asketh of thee" [--Greek--](1) occurs, not as a quotation, but merely
woven into the Greek text as it existed before the discovery of the
Sinaitic MS. This phrase is the same as the precept in Luke vi. 30,
although it was argued by some that, as no other trace of the third
Gospel existed in the Epistle, it was more probably an alteration of
the text of Matth. v. 42. Omitting the phrase from the passage in the
Epistle, the text read as follows: "Thou shalt not hesitate to give,
neither shalt thou murmur when thou givest... so shalt thou know who is
the good Recompenser of the reward." The supposed quotation, inserted
where we have left a blank, really interrupted the sense and repeated
the previous injunction. The oldest MS., the "Codex Sinaiticus," omits
the quotation, and so ends the question, but it is afterwards inserted
by another hand. Some pious scribe, in fact, seeing the relation of the
passage to the Gospel, had added the


words in the margin as a gloss, and they afterwards found their way into
the text In this manner very many similar glosses have crept into texts
which they were originally intended to illustrate.

Tischendorf, who does not allude to this, lays much stress upon the
following passage: "But when he selected His own apostles, who should
preach His Gospel, who were sinners above all sin, in order that he
might show that He came not to call the righteous but sinners, then He
manifested Himself to be the Son of God."(1) We may remark that, in
the common Greek text, the words "to repentance" were inserted after
"sinners," but they are not found in the Sinaitic MS. In like manner
many Codices insert them in Matth, ix. 13 and Mark ii. 17, but they
are not found in some of the oldest MSS., and are generally rejected.
Tischendorf considers them a later addition both to the text of the
Gospel and of the Epistle.(3) But this very fact is suggestive. It is
clear that a supposed quotation has been deliberately adjusted to what
was considered to be the text of the Gospel. Why should the whole phrase
not be equally an interpolation? We shall presently see that there is
reason to think that it is so. Alhough there is no quotation in the
passage, who, asks Tischendorf,(3) could mistake the words as they stand
in Matthew, ix. 13, "For I came not to call the righteous but sinners"?
Now this passage is referred to by Origen in his work against Celsus, in
a way which indicates that the supposed quotation did not exist in his
copy; Origen says: "And as Celsus has called


the Apostles of Jesus infamous men, saying that they were tax-gatherers
and worthless sailors, we have to remark on this, that, &c.... Now in
the Catholic Epistle of Barnabas from which, perhaps, Celsus derived the
statement that the Apostles were infamous and wicked men, it is written
that 'Jesus selected his own Apostles who were sinners above all
sin,"(1)--and then he goes on to quote the expression of Peter to Jesus
(Luke v. 8), and then I Timothy, L 15, but he nowhere refers to the
supposed quotation in the Epistle. Now, if we read the passage without
the quotation, we have: "But when he selected his own Apostles who
should preach his Gospel, who were sinners above all sin.... then he
manifested himself to be the Son of God." Here a pious scribe very
probably added in the margin the gloss: "in order that he might show
that he came not to call the righteous but sinners," to explain the
passage, and as in the case of the phrase: "Give to every one that
asketh of thee," the gloss became subsequently incorporated with the
text. The Epistle, however, goes on to give the only explanation which
the author intended, and which clashes with that of the scribe. "For if
he had not come in the flesh, how could men have been saved by beholding
him? Seeing that looking on the sun that shall cease to be, the work of
his hands, they have not even power to endure his rays. Accordingly, the
Son of Man came in the flesh for this, that he might bring to a head the
number of their sins who had persecuted to death his prophets."(2) The
argument of Origen bears out this view, for he does not at all take the
explanation of


the gloss as to why Jesus chose his disciples from such a class, but he
reasons: "What is there strange, therefore, that Jesus being minded
to manifest to the race of men his power to heal souls, should have
selected infamous and wicked men, and should have elevated them so
far, that they became a pattern of the purest virtue to those who were
brought by their persuasion to the Gospel of Christ."(1) The argument,
both of the author of the Epistle and of Origen, is different from that
suggested by the phrase under examination, and we consider it a mere
gloss introduced into the text; which, as the [--Greek--] shows, has, in
the estimation of Tischendorf himself, been deliberately altered. Even
if it originally formed part of the text, however, it would be wrong
to affirm that it affords proof of the use or existence of the first
Gospel. The words of Jesus in Matt. ix. 12--14, evidently belong to the
oldest tradition of the Gospel, and, in fact, Ewald ascribes them, apart
from the remainder of the chapter, originally to the Spruchsammlung,
from which, with two intermediate books, he considers that our present
Matthew was composed.(2} Nothing can be more certain than that such
sayings, if they be admitted to be historical at all, must have existed
in many other works, and the mere fact of their happening to be also in
one of the Gospels which has survived, cannot prove its use, or even


its existence at the time the Epistle of Barnabas was written, more
especially as the phrase does not occur as a quotation, and there is no
indication of the source from which it was derived.

Teschendorf, however, finds a further analogy between the Epistle and
the Gospel of Matthew, in ch. xii. "Since, therefore, in the future,
they were to say that Christ is the son of David, fearing and perceiving
clearly the error of the wicked, David himself prophesies--"The Lord
said unto my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy
footstool."(1) Teschendorf upon this inquires: "Could Barnabas so write
without the supposition, that his readers had Matthew, xxii. 41. ff,
before them, and does not such a supposition likewise infer the actual
authority of Matthew's Gospel?"(2) Such rapid argument and extreme
conclusions are startling indeed, but, in his haste, our critic has
forgotten to state the whole case. The author of the Epistle has been
elaborately showing that the Cross of Christ is repeatedly typified in
the Old Testament, and at the commencement of the chapter, after quoting
the passage from IV Ezra, iv. 33, v. 5, he points to the case of Moses,
to whose heart "the spirit speaks that he should make a form of the
cross," by stretching forth his arms in supplication, and so long as he
did so Israel prevailed over their enemies; and again he typified the
cross, when he set up the brazen serpent upon which the people might
look and be healed. Then that which Moses, as a prophet, said to Joshua
(Jesus) the son of Nave, when he gave him that


name, was solely for the purpose that all the people might hear that
the Father would reveal all things regarding his Son to the son of Nave.
This name being given to him when he was sent to spy out the land, Moses
said: "Take a book in thy hands, and write what the Lord saith, that the
Son of God will in the last days cut off by the roots all the house of
Amalek." This, of course, is a falsification of the passage, Exodus,
xvii. 14, for the purpose of making it declare Jesus to be the "Son of
God." Then proceeding in the same strain, he says: "Behold again Jesus
is not the son of Man, but the Son of God, manifested in the type and in
the flesh. Since, therefore, in the future, they were to say that Christ
is the son of David," (and here follows the passage we are discussing)
"fearing and perceiving clearly the error of the wicked, David himself
prophesied: 'The Lord said unto my Lord, sit at my right hand until I
make thine enemies thy footstool.' And again, thus speaks Isaiah: 'The
Lord said to Christ my Lord, whose right hand I have held, that the
nations may obey Him, and I will break in pieces the strength of kings.'
Behold how David calleth Him Lord, and the Son of God." And here ends
the chapter and the subject. Now it is quite clear that the passage
occurs, not as a reference to any such dilemma as that in Matthew, xxii.
41 ff., but simply as one of many passages which, at the commencement
of our era, were considered prophetic declarations of the divinity of
Christ, in opposition to the expectation of the Jews that the Messiah
was to be the son of David,(1) and, as we have seen, in order to prove
his point the author alters the text. To argue that such a passage of a
Psalm, quoted in such a manner in this


epistle, proves the use of our first Synoptic, is in the highest degree

We have already pointed out that the author quotes apocryphal works as
Holy Scripture; and we may now add that he likewise cites words of Jesus
which are nowhere found in our Gospels. For instance, in ch. vii. we
meet with the folio wing expressions directly attributed to Jesus. "Thus
he say': 'Those who desire to behold me, and to attain my kingdom,
must through tribulation and suffering receive me.'"(1) Hilgenfeld(2)
compares this with another passage, similar in sense, in IV Ezra, vii.
14; but in any case it is not a quotation from our Gospels; (3) and with
so many passages in them suitable to his purpose, it would be amazing,
if he knew and held Matthew in the consideration which Tischendorf
asserts, that he should neglect their stores, and go elsewhere for
such quotations. There is nothing in this epistle worthy of the name of
evidence even of the existence of our Gospels.


The Pastor of Hennas is another work which very nearly secured permanent
canonical rank with the writings of the New Testament. It was quoted as
Holy Scripture by the Fathers and held to be divinely inspired, and it
was publicly read in the Churches.(4) It has a


place, with the "Epistle of Barnabas," in the Sinaitic Codex, after the
canonical books. In early times it was attributed to the Hermas who is
mentioned in the Epistle to the Romans, xiv. 14, in consequence of
a mere conjecture to that effect by Origen;(l) but the Canon of
Muratori(2) confidently ascribes it to a brother of Pius, Bishop of
Rome, and at least there does not seem any ground for the statement
of Origen.(3) It may have been written about the middle of the second
century or a little earlier.(4)


Tischendorf dismisses this important memorial of the early Christian
Church with a note of two lines, for it has no quotations either from
the Old or New Testament.(1) He does not even suggest that it contains
any indications of acquaintance with our Gospels. The only direct
quotation in the "Pastor" is from an apocryphal work which is cited as
Holy Scripture: "The Lord is nigh unto them who return to him, as it
is written in Eldad and Modat, who prophesied to the people in the
wilderness."(2) This work, which appears in the Stichometry of
Nicephorus amongst the apocrypha of the Old Testament, is no longer


Although, in reality, appertaining to a very much later period, we shall
here refer to the so-called "Epistles of Ignatius," and examine any
testimony which they afford regarding the date and authenticity of our
Gospels. There are in all fifteen epistles bearing the name of Ignatius.
Three of these, addressed to the Virgin Mary and the Apostle John 2,
exist only in a Latin version, and these, together with five others
directed to Mary of Cassobolita, to the Tarsians, to the Antiochans,
to Hero of Antioch, and to the Philippians, of which there are versions
both in Greek and Latin, are universally admitted to be spurious, and
may, so far as their contents are concerned, be at once dismissed from
all consideration.(1) They are not mentioned by Eusebius, nor does any
early writer refer to them. Of the remaining seven epistles, addressed
to the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans, Philadelphians,
Smyrnæans, and to Polycarp, there are two distinct versions extant,
one long version, of which there are both Greek and Latin texts, and
another much shorter, and presenting considerable variations, of which
there are also both Greek and Latin texts. After a couple of centuries
of discussion, critics


almost without exception have finally agreed that the longer version
is nothing more than an interpolated version of the shorter and more
ancient form of the Epistles. The question regarding the authenticity
of the Ignatian Epistles, however, was re-opened and complicated by
the publication, in 1845, by Dr. Cureton, of a Syriac version of three
epistles only--to Polycarp, to the Ephesians, and to the Romans--in a
still shorter form, discovered amongst a large number of MSS. purchased
by Dr. Tattam from the monks of the Desert of Nitria. These three Syriac
epistles have been subjected to the severest scrutiny, and many of the
ablest critics have pronounced them to be the only authentic Epistles
of Ignatius, whilst others, who do not admit that even these are genuine
letters emanating from Ignatius, still prefer them to the version of
seven Greek epistles, and consider them the most ancient form of the
letters which we possess.(1) As early as the sixteenth century, however,
the strongest doubts were expressed regarding the authenticity of any of
the epistles ascribed to Ignatius. The Magdeburg


Centuriators first attacked them, and Calvin declared them to be
spurious,(1) an opinion fully shared by Dallaeus, and others; Chemnitz
regarded them with suspicion; and similar doubts, more or lass definite,
were expressed throughout the seventeenth century,(2) and onward to
comparatively recent times,(3) although the means of forming a judgment
were not then so complete as now. That the epistles were interpolated
there was no doubt. Fuller examination and more comprehensive knowledge
of the subject have confirmed earlier doubts, and a large mass of
critics either recognize that the authenticity of none of these epistles
can be established, or that they


can only be considered later and spurious compositions.(1)

Omitting for the present the so-called Epistle of Polycarp to the
Philippians, the earliest reference to any of these epistles, or to
Ignatius himself, is made by Irenæus, who quotes a passage which is
found in the Epistle to the Romans (ch. iv.), without, however, any
mention of name,' introduced by the following words: "As a certain
man of ours said, being condemned to the wild beasts on account of his
testimony to God: 'I am the wheat of God, and by the teeth of beasts I
am ground, that I may be found pure


bread."(1) Origen likewise quotes two brief sentences which he refers to
Ignatius. The first is merely: "But my love is crucified,"(2) which is
likewise found in the Epistle to the Romans (ch. vii.); and the other
quoted as "out of one of the Epistles" of the martyr Ignatius: "From the
Prince of this world was concealed the virginity of Mary,"(3) which is
found in the Epistle to the Ephesians (ch. xix). Eusebius mentions seven
epistles,(4) and quotes one passage from the Epistle to the Romans (ch.
v.), and a few words from an apocryphal Gospel contained in the Epistle
to the Smyrnæans (ch. iii.), the source of which he says that he does
not know, and he cites from Irenæus the brief quotation given above, and
refers to the mention of the epistles in the letter of Polycarp which we
reserve. Elsewhere,(5) he further quotes a short sentence found in the
Epistle to the Ephesians (ch. xix.), part of which had previously been
cited by Origen. It will be observed that all these quotations, with the
exception of that from Irenæus, are taken from the three Epistles which
exist in the Syriac translation, and they are found in that version; and
the first occasion on which any passage attributed to Ignatius is quoted
which is not in the Syriac version of the three Epistles occurs in
the second half of the fourth century, when Athanasius, in his Epistle
regarding the Synods of Ariminum and Selucia,(6) quotes a few words from
the Epistle to the Ephesians (ch. vii.); but although foreign to the
Syriac text, it is to be noted that the words are


at least from a form of one of the three epistles which exist in that
version.(1) It is a fact, therefore, that up to the second half of
the fourth century no quotation ascribed to Ignatius, except one by
Eusebius, exists, which is not found in the three short Syriac letters.

As we have already remarked, the Syriac version of the three epistles
is very much shorter than the shorter Greek version, the Epistle to the
Ephesians, for instance, being only about one-third of the length of the
Greek text. Those who still maintain the superior authenticity of the
Greek shorter version argue that the Syriac is an epitome of the Greek.
This does not, however, seem tenable when the matter is carefully
examined. Although so much is absent from the Syriac version, not only
is there no interruption of the sense and no obscurity or undue curtness
in the style, but the epistles read more consecutively, without faults
of construction or grammar, and passages which in the Greek text were
confused and almost unintelligible have become quite clear in the
Syriac. The interpolations of the text, in fact, had been so clumsily
made, that they had obscured the meaning, and their mere omission,
without any other alteration of grammatical construction, has restored
the epistles to clear and simple order.(2) It is, moreover, a remarkable
fact that the passages which, long before the discovery of the Syriac
epistles, were pointed out as chiefly determining that the epistles were
spurious, are not found in the Syriac version at all.3 Archbishop Usher,
who only admitted the authenticity of six epistles, showed that much
interpolation of these letters took place in the


sixth century,(1) but this very fact increases the probability of much
earlier interpolation also, at which the various existing versions
most clearly point. The interpolations can be explained upon the most
palpable dogmatic grounds, but not so the omissions upon the hypothesis
that the Syriac version is an abridgment made upon any distinct dogmatic
principle, for that which is allowed to remain renders the omissions
ineffectual for dogmatic reasons. There is no ground of interest upon
which the portions omitted and retained by the Syriac version can be
intelligently explained.(2) Finally, here, we may mention that the MSS.
of the three Syriac epistles are more ancient by some centuries than
those of any of the Greek versions of the Seven epistles.(3) The
strongest internal, as well as other evidence, into which space forbids
our going in detail, has led the majority of critics to recognize the
Syriac version as the most ancient form of the letters of Ignatius
extant, and this is admitted by many of those who nevertheless deny the
authenticity of any of the epistles.(4)

Seven epistles have been selected out of fifteen extant, all equally
purporting to be by Ignatius, simply because only that number was
mentioned by Eusebius, from whom for the first time, in the fourth
century,--except the general reference in the so-called Epistle of
Poly-carp, to which we shall presently refer,--we hear of them. Now
neither the silence of Eusebius regarding the eight epistles, nor his
mention of the seven, can have much weight in deciding the question of
their authenticity. The only point which is settled by the reference


of Eusebius is that, at the date at which he wrote, seven epistles were
known to him which were ascribed to Ignatius. He evidently knew little
or nothing regarding the man or the Epistles, beyond what he had learnt
from themselves,(1) and he mentions the martyr-journey to Rome as a mere
report: "It is said that he was conducted from Syria to Rome to be cast
to wild beasts on account of his testimony to Christ."(2) It would be
unreasonable to argue that no other epistles existed simply because
Eusebius did not mention them; and on the other hand it would be still
more unreasonable to affirm that the seven epistles are authentic merely
because Eusebius, in the fourth century,--that is to say, some two
centuries after they are supposed to have been written,--had met with
them. Does any one believe the letter of Jesus to Abgarus Prince of
Edessa to be genuine, because Eusebius inserts it in his history(3) as
an authentic document out of the public records of the city of Edessa \
There is, in fact, no evidence that the brief quotations of Irenæus
and Origen are taken from either of the extant Greek versions of the
epistles; for, as we have mentioned, they exist in the Syriac epistles,
and there is nothing to show the original state of the letters from
which they were derived. Nothing is more certain than the fact that, if
any writer wished to circulate letters in the name of Ignatius, he
would insert such passages as were said to have been quoted from genuine
epistles of Ignatius, and supposing those quotations to be real, all
that could be said on finding such passages would be that at least so
much might be genuine.(4) It is a total


mistake to suppose that the seven epistles mentioned by Eusebius have
been transmitted to us in any special way. These epistles are mixed
up in the Medicean and corresponding ancient Latin MSS. with the
other eight epistles, universally pronounced to be spurious, without
distinction of any kind, and all have equal honour.(1) The recognition
of the number seven may, therefore, be ascribed simply to the reference
to them by Eusebius, and his silence regarding the rest.

What, then, is the position of the so-called Ignatian Epistles? Towards
the end of the second century, Irenæus makes a very short quotation from
a source unnamed, which Eusebius, in the fourth century, finds in an
epistle attributed to Ignatius. Origen, in the third century, quotes a
very few words which he ascribes to Ignatius, although without definite
reference to any particular epistle; and, in the fourth century
Eusebius mentions seven epistles ascribed to Ignatius. There is no other
evidence. There are, however, fifteen epistles extant, all of which are
attributed to Ignatius, of all of which, with the exception of three
which are only known in a Latin version, we possess both Greek and Latin
versions. Of seven of these epistles--and they are those mentioned by
Eusebius--we have two Greek versions, one of which is very much shorter
than the other; and finally we now possess a Syriac version of three
epistles only(2) in a form still shorter than the shorter Greek version,
in which are found all the quotations of the Fathers, without exception,
up to the fourth century. Eight of the fifteen

     2  It is worthy of remark that at the end of the Syriac
     version the subscription is: "Here end the three Epistles of
     Ignatius, Bishop and Martyr;" cf. Cureton, The Ancient
     Syriac Version, &c, p. 25.


epistles are universally rejected as spurious. The longer Greek version
of the remaining seven epistles is almost unanimously condemned as
grossly interpolated; and the great majority of critics recognize that
the shorter Greek version is also much interpolated; whilst the Syriac
version, which so far as MSS. are concerned is by far the most ancient
text of any of the letters which we posses, reduces their number to
three, and their contents to a very small compass indeed. It is not
surprising that the vast majority of critics have expressed doubt more
or less strong regarding the authenticity of all of these epistles, and
that so large a number have repudiated them altogether. One thing is
quite evident,--that amidst such a mass of falsification, interpolation,
and fraud, the Ignatian Epistles cannot in any form be considered
evidence on any important point.(1)

We have not, however, finished. All of these epistles, including the
three of the Syriac recension, profess to have been written by Ignatius
during his journey from Antioch to Rome, in the custody of Roman
soldiers, in order to be exposed to wild beasts, the form of martyrdom
to which he had been condemned. The writer describes the circumstances
of his journey as follows: "From Syria even unto Rome I fight with wild
beasts, by sea and by land, by night and day; being bound amongst ten
leopards, which are the band of soldiers: who even receiving benefits
become worse."(2) Now if this account be in the least degree true, how
is it possible to suppose that the martyr could have found means to


so many long epistles, entering minutely into dogmatic teaching,
and expressing the most deliberate and advanced views regarding
ecclesiastical government? Indeed it may be asked why Ignatius should
have considered it necessary in such a journey, even if the possibility
be for a moment conceded, to address such epistles to communities and
individuals to whom, by the showing of the letters themselves, he had
just had opportunities of addressing his counsels in person.(1) The
epistles themselves bear none of the marks of composition under such
circumstances, and it is impossible to suppose that soldiers such as
the quotation above describes would allow a prisoner, condemned to wild
beasts for professing Christianity, deliberately to write long epistles
at every stage of his journey, promulgating the very doctrines for which
he was condemned. And not only this, but on his way to martyrdom, he
has, according to the epistles,(2) perfect freedom to see his friends.
He receives the bishops, deacons, and members of various Christian
communities, who come with greetings to him, and devoted followers
accompany him on his journey. All this without hindrance from the "ten
leopards," of whose cruelty he complains, and without persecution or
harm to those who so openly declare themselves his friends and fellow
believers. The whole story is absolutely incredible.(3) This conclusion,
irresistible in itself, is, however, confirmed by facte arrived at from
a totally different point of view.


It has been demonstrated that, most probably, Ignatius was not sent to
Rome at all, but suffered martyrdom in Antioch itself(l) on the 20th
December, a.d. 115,(2) when he was condemned to be cast to wild beasts
in the amphitheatre, in consequence of the fanatical excitement produced
by the earthquake which took place on the 13th of that month.(3) There
are no less than three martyrologies of Ignatius,(4) giving an
account of the martyr's journey from Antioch to Rome, but they are all
recognised to be mere idle legends, of whose existence we do not hear
till a very late period.(5) In fact the whole of the Ignatian literature
is a mass of falsification and fraud.

We might well spare our readers the trouble of examining further the
contents of the epistles of pseudo-Ignatius, for it is manifest that
they cannot afford testimony


of any value on the subject of our inquiry. We shall, however, briefly
point out all the passages contained in the seven Greek Epistles which
have any bearing upon our synoptic Gospels, in order that their exact
position may be more fully appreciated. Teschendorf(1) refers to a
passage in the Epistle to the Romans, c. vi., as a verbal quotation of
Matthew xvi. 26, but he neither gives the context nor states the facts
of the case. The passage reads as follows: "The pleasures of the world
shall profit me nothing, nor the kingdoms of this time; it is better for
me to die for Jesus Christ, than to reign over the ends of the earth.
For what is a man profited if he gain the whole world, but lose his
soul."(2) Now this quotation not only is not found in the Syriac version
of the Epistle, but it is also omitted from the ancient Latin version,
and is absent from the passage in the work of Timotheus of Alexandria
against the Council of Chalcedon, and from other authorities. It
is evidently a later addition, and is recognized as such by most
critics.(3) It was probably a gloss, which subsequently was inserted in
the text. Of these facts, however, Tischendorf does not say a word.(4)

The next passage to which he refers is in the Epistle to the Smyrnæans,
c. i., where the writer says of Jesus: "He was baptized by John in order
that all righteousness


might be fulfilled by Him,"(1)--which Teschendorf considers a
reminiscence of Matthew iii. 15, "For thus it becometh us to fulfil all
righteousness."(2) The phrase, besides being no quotation, has again all
the appearance of being an addition; and when in Ch. iii. of the same
Epistle we find a palpable quotation from an apocryphal Gospel, which
Jerome states to be the "Gospel according to the Hebrews," to which
we shall presently refer, a Gospel which we know to have contained the
baptism of Jesus by John, it is not possible, even if the Epistle were
genuine, which it is not, to base any such conclusion upon these words.
There is not only the alternative of tradition, but the use of the same
apocryphal Gospel, elsewhere quoted in the Epistle, as the source of
the reminiscence. Tischendorf does not point out any more supposed
references to our synoptic Gospels, but we proceed to notice all the
other passages which have been indicated by others. In the Epistle to
Polycarp, c. ii., the following sentence occurs: "Be thou wise as a
serpent in everything, and harmless as the dove." This is, of course,
compared with Matth. x. 16, "Be ye, therefore, wise as serpents and
innocent as doves." The Greek of both reads as follows: [--Greek--]

In the Syriac version, the passage reads: "Be thou wise as the serpent
in everything, and harmless as to those things which are requisite as
the dove."(4) It is unnecessary


to add that no source is indicated for the reminiscence. Ewald assigns
this part of our first Gospel originally to the Spruchsammlung,(1) and
even apart from the variations presented in the Epistle there is nothing
to warrant exclusive selection of our first Gospel as the source of the
saying. The remaining passages we subjoin in parallel columns.

None of these passages are quotations, and they generally present such
marked linguistic variations from the parallel


passages in our first Gospel, that there is not the slightest ground
for specially referring them to it. The last words cited are introduced
without any appropriate context. In no case are the expressions
indicated as quotations from, or references to, any particular source.
They may either be traditional, or reminiscences of some of the numerous
Gospels current in the early Church, such as the Gospel according to the
Hebrews. That the writer made use of one of these cannot be doubted. In
the Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, c. iii., there occurs a quotation from an
apocryphal Gospel to which we have already, in passing, referred: "For I
know that also after his resurrection he was in the flesh, and I believe
he is so now. And when he came to those who were with Peter, he said to
them: Lay hold, handle me, and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit,
[--Greek--]. And immediately they touched him and believed, being convinced
by his flesh and spirit." Eusebius, who quotes this passage, says that
he does not know whence it is taken.(2) Origen, however, quotes it from
a work well known in the early Church, called "The Doctrine of Peter,"
[--Greek--];(3) and Jerome found it in the "Gospel according to the
Hebrews," in use among the Nazarenes,(4) which he translated, as we
shall hereafter sec. It was, no doubt, in both of those works. The
narrative, Luke xxiv. 39 f., being neglected, and an apocryphal Gospel
used here, the inevitable inference is clear and very suggestive. As it
is certain that this quotation was taken from a source


different from our Gospels, there is reason to suppose that the other
passages which we have cited are reminiscences of the same work. The
passage on the three mysteries in the Epistle to the Ephesians, c. xix.,
is evidently another quotation from an uncanonical source.(1)

We must, however, again point out that, with the single exception of
the short passage in the Epistle to Polycarp, c. ii., which is not a
quotation, differs from the reading in Matthew, and may well be from
any other source, none of these supposed reminiscences of our synoptic
Gospels are found in the Syriac version of the three epistles. The
evidential value of the seven Greek epistles is clearly stated by
an English historian and divine: "My conclusion is, that I should be
unwilling to claim historical authority for any passage not contained in
Dr. Cureton's Syriac reprint."(3) We must, however, go much further,
and assert that none of the Epistles have any value as evidence for
an earlier period than the end of the second or beginning of the third
century, if indeed they possess any value at all. The whole of the
literature ascribed to Ignatius is, in fact, such a tissue of fraud and
imposture, and the successive versions exhibit such undeniable marks
of the grossest interpolation, that even if any small original element
exist referrible to Ignatius, it is impossible to define it, or to
distinguish with the slightest degree of accuracy between what is
authentic and what is spurious. The Epistles do not, however, in any
case afford evidence even of the existence of our synoptic Gospels.



We have hitherto deferred all consideration of the so-called Epistle of
Polycarp to the Philippians, from the fact that, instead of proving
the existence of the Epistles of Ignatius, with which it is intimately
associated, it is itself discredited in proportion as they are shown to
be in authentic. We have just seen that the martyr-journey of Ignatius
to Rome is, for cogent reasons, declared to be wholly fabulous, and the
epistles purporting to be written during that journey must be held to
be spurious. The Epistle of Polycarp, however, not only refers to the
martyr-journey (c. ix.), but to the Ignatian Epistles which are
inauthentic (c. xiii.), and the manifest inference is that it also is

Polycarp, who is said by Irenæus(1) to have been in his youth a disciple
of the Apostle John, became Bishop of Smyrna, and suffered martyrdom at
a very advanced age.(2) On the authority of Eusebius and Jerome, it
has hitherto been generally believed that his death took place in a.d.
166-167. In the account of his martyrdom, which we possess in the shape
of a letter from the Church of Smyrna, purporting to have been written
by eye-witnesses, which must be pronounced spurious, Polycarp is said to
have died under the Proconsul Statius Quadratus.(3) If this statement
be correct, the date hitherto received can no longer be maintained,
for recent investigations have determined that Statius Quadratus was
proconsul in a.d. 154-5 or 155-6.(4) Some critics,


who affirm the authenticity of the Epistle attributed to Polycarp, date
the Epistle before a.d. 120,(1) but the preponderance of opinion assigns
it to a much later period.(2) Doubts of its authenticity, and of the
integrity of the text, were very early expressed,(3) and the close
scrutiny to which later and more competent criticism has subjected it,
has led very many to the conclusion that the Epistle is either largely
interpolated,(4) or altogether spurious.(5) The principal argument in


of its authenticity is the fact that the Epistle is mentioned by
Irenæus,(1) who in his extreme youth was acquainted with Polycarp.(2)
We have no very precise information regarding the age of Irenæus, but
Jerome states that he flourished under Commodus (180-192), and we may,
as a favourable conjecture, suppose that he was then about 35-37. In
that case his birth must be dated about a.d. 145. There is reason to
believe that he fell a victim to persecution under Septimius Severus,
and it is only doubtful whether he suffered during the first outbreak
in a.d. 202, or later. According to this calculation, the martyrdom of
Polycarp, in a.d. 155-156, took place when he was ten or eleven years
of age. Even if a further concession be made in regard to his age, it is
evident that the intercourse of Irenæus with the Bishop of Smyrna
must have been confined to his very earliest years,(3) a fact which is
confirmed by the almost total absence of any record in his writings of
the communications of Polycarp. This certainly does not entitle Irenæus
to speak more authoritatively of an epistle ascribed to Polycarp, than
any one else of his day.(4)

In the Epistle itself, there are several anachronisms. In ch. ix. the
blessed Ignatius" is referred to as already dead, and he is held up with
Zosimus and Rufus, and also with Paul and the rest of the Apostles, as
examples of patience: men who have not run in vain, but are with the
Lord; but in ch. xiii. he is spoken of as living, and information is
requested regarding him,


"and those who are with him."(1) Yet, although thus spoken of as alive,
the writer already knows of his Epistles, and refers, in the plural, to
those written by him "to us, and all the rest which we have by us."(2)
The reference here, it will be observed, is not only to the Epistles to
the Smyrnæans, and to Polycarp himself, but to other spurious epistles
which are not included in the Syriac version. Dallseus(3) pointed out
long ago, that ch. xiii. abruptly interrupts the conclusion of the
Epistle, and most critics, including those who assert the authenticity
of the rest of the Epistle, reject it at least, although many of these
likewise repudiate ch. ix. as interpolated.(4) Others, however, consider
that the latter chapter is quite consistent with the later date, which,
according to internal evidence, must be assigned to the Epistle. The
writer vehemently denounces,(5) as already widely spread, the Gnostic
heresy and other forms of false doctrine which did not exist until
the time of Marcion, to whom and to whose followers he refers in
unmistakable terms. An expression is used in ch. vii. in speaking of
these heretics, which Polycarp is reported by Irenseus to have actually
applied to Marcion in person, during his visit to Home. He is said to
have called Marcion the "first-born of Satan," [--Greek--](6) and the same


is employed in this epistle with regard to every one who holds such
false doctrines. The development of these heresies, therefore, implies
a date for the composition of the Epistle, at earliest, after the
middle of the second century, a date which is further confirmed by other
circumstances.(1) The writer of such a letter must have held a position
in the Church, to which Polycarp could only have attained in the
latter part of his life, when he was deputed to Rome for the Paschal
discussion, and the Epistle depicts the developed ecclesiastical
organization of a later time.(2) The earlier date which has now been
adopted for the martyrdom of Polycarp, by limiting the period during
which it is possible that he himself could have written any portion
of it, only renders the inauthenticity of the Epistle more apparent.
Hilgenfeld has pointed out, as another indication of the same date, the
injunction "Pray for the kings" (Orate pro regibus), which, in 1 Peter
ii. 17, is "Honour the king" [--Greek--], which, he argues, accords with
the period after Antoninus Pius had elevated Marcus Aurelius


to joint sovereignty (a.d. 147), or better still, with that in which
Marcus Aurelius appointed Lucius Verus his colleague, a.d. 161, for
to rulers outside of the Roman empire there can be no reference. If
authentic, however, the Epistle must have been written, at latest,
shortly after the martyrdom of Ignatius in a.d. 115, but, as we have
seen, there are strong internal characteristics excluding such a
supposition. The reference to the martyr-journey of Ignatius and to
the epistles falsely ascribed to him, is alone sufficient to betray the
spurious nature of the composition, and to class the Epistle with the
rest of the pseudo-Ignatian literature.

We shall now examine all the passages in this epistle which are pointed
out as indicating any acquaintance with our synoptic Gospels.(1) The
first occurs in ch. ii., and we subjoin it in contrast with the nearest
parallel passages of the Gospels, but although we break it up into
paragraphs, it will, of course, be understood that the quotation is
continuous in the Epistle.



It will be remembered that an almost similar direct quotation of words
of Jesus occurs in the so-called Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians,
c. xiii., which we have already examined.(1) There, the passage is
introduced by the same words, and in the midst of brief phrases which
have parallels in our Gospel there occurs in both Epistles the same
expression, "Be pitiful that ye may be pitied," which is not found in
any of our Gospels. In order to find any parallels for the quotation,
upon the hypothesis of a combination of texts, we have to add together
portions of the following verses in the following order: Matthew vii. 1,
vi. 14 (although, with complete linguistic variations, the sense of
Luke vi. 37 is much closer), v. 7, vii. 2, v. 3, v. 10. Such fragmentary
compilation is in itself scarcely conceivable in an epistle of this
kind, but when in the midst we find a passage foreign to our Gospels,
but which occurs in another work in connection with so similar a
quotation, it is reasonable to conclude that the whole is derived from
tradition or from a Gospel different from ours.(2) In no case can such


a passage be considered material evidence of the existence of any one of
our Gospels.

Another expression which is pointed out occurs in ch. vii., "beseeching
in our prayers the all-searching God not to lead us into temptation, as
the Lord said: The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."(1)
This is compared with the phrase in "the Lord's Prayer" (Matthew vi.
13), or the passage (xxvi. 41): "Watch and pray that ye enter not into
temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."(2) The
second Gospel, however, equally has the phrase (xiv. 38), and shows how
unreasonable it is to limit these historical sayings to a single Gospel.
The next passage is of a similar nature (c. vi.): "If, therefore,
we pray the Lord that he may forgive us, we ought also ourselves
to forgive."(3) The thought but not the language of this passage
corresponds with Matthew vi. 12--14, but equally so with Luke xi. 4. Now
we must repeat that all such sayings of Jesus were the common property
of the early Christians--were no doubt orally current amongst them, and
still more certainly were recorded by many of the numerous Gospels then
in circulation, as they are by several of our own. In no case is there
any written source indicated from which these passages are derived; they
are simply quoted as words of Jesus, and being all connected either with
the "Sermon on the Mount" or the "Lord's Prayer," the two portions of
the teaching of Jesus which were most


popular, widely known, and characteristic, there can be no doubt that
they were familiar throughout the whole of the early Church, and must
have formed a part of most or all of the many collections of the words
of the Master. To limit them to our actual Gospels, which alone
survive, would be quite unwarrantable, and no reference to them, without
specification of the source, can be received as evidence even of the
existence of our Synoptics. We may here briefly illustrate the point
from the Synoptics themselves. Assuming the parable of the Sower to be
a genuine example of the teaching of Jesus, as there is every reason
to believe, it may with certainty be asserted that it must have been
included in many of the records circulating among early Christians, to
which reference is made in the prologue to the third Gospel. It would
not be permissible to affirm that no part of that parable could
be referred to by an early writer without that reference being an
indication of acquaintance with our synoptic Gospels. The parable is
reported in closely similar words in each of those three Gospels,(1) and
it may have been, and probably was, recorded similarly in a dozen more.
Confining ourselves, however, for a moment to the three Synoptics: what
could a general allusion to the parable of the Sower prove regarding
their existence and use, no mention of a particular source being made?
Would it prove that all the three were extant, and that the writer knew
them all, for each of them containing the parable would possess an equal
claim to the reference? Could it with any reason be affirmed that he
was acquainted with Matthew and not with Mark? or with Mark and not with
Matthew and Luke? or with the third Gospel and


not with either of the other two? The case is the very same if we extend
the illustration, and along with the Synoptics include the numerous
other records of the early Church. The anonymous quotation of historical
expressions of Jesus cannot prove the existence of one special document
among many to which we may choose to trace it. This is more especially
to be insisted on from the fact, that hitherto we have not met with
any mention of any one of our Gospels, and have no right even to assume
their existence from any evidence which has been furnished.


We shall now consider the evidence furnished by the works of Justin
Martyr, regarding the existence of our synoptic Gospels at the middle
of the second century, and we may remark, in anticipation, that whatever
differences of opinion may finally exist regarding the solution of
the problem which we have to examine, at least it is clear that the
testimony of Justin Martyr is not of a nature to establish the date,
authenticity, and character of Gospels professing to communicate such
momentous and astounding doctrines. The determination of the source from
which Justin derived his facts of Christian history has for a century
attracted more attention, and excited more controversy, than almost any
other similar question in connection with patristic literature, and upon
none have more divergent opinions been expressed.

Justin, who suffered martyrdom about a.d. 166--167,(1) under Marcus
Aurelius, probably at the instigation of the cynical philosopher,
Crescens, was born in the Greek-Roman colony, Flavia Neapolis,(2)
established during the


reign of Vespasian, near the ancient Sichem in Samaria. By descent he
was a Greek, and during the earlier part of his life a heathen, but
after long and disappointed study of Greek philosophy, he became a
convert to Christianity(l) strongly tinged with Judaism. It is not
necessary to enter into any discussion as to the authenticity of the
writings which have come down to us bearing Justin's name, many of which
are undoubtedly spurious, for the two Apologies and the Dialogue with
Trypho, with which we have almost exclusively to do, are generally
admitted to be genuine. It is true that there has been a singular
controversy regarding the precise relation to each other of the two
Apologies now extant, the following contradictory views having been
maintained: that they are the two Apologies mentioned by Eusebius, and
in their original order; that they are Justin's two Apologies, but that
Eusebius was wrong in affirming that the second was addressed to Marcus
Aurelius; that our second Apology was the preface or appendix to
the first, and that the original second is lost. The shorter Apology
contains nothing of interest connected with our inquiry.

There has been much controversy as to the date of the two Apologies,
and much difference of opinion still exists on the point. Many critics
assign the larger to about a.d. 138--140, and the shorter to a.d.
160--161.(2) A passage, however, occurs in the longer Apology, which


indicates that it must have been written about a century and a half
after the commencement of the Christian era, or, according to accurate
reckoning, about a.d. 147. Justin speaks, in one part of it, of
perverted deductions being drawn from his teaching "that Christ was born
150 years ago under Cyrenius."(l) Those who contend for the earlier date
have no stronger argument against this statement than the unsupported
assertion, that in this passage Justin merely speaks "in round numbers,"
but many important circumstances confirm the date which Justin thus
gives us. In the superscription of the Apology, Antoninus is called
"Pius," a title which was first bestowed upon him in the year 139.
Moreover, Justin directly refers to Marcion, as a man "now living and
teaching his disciples.... and who has by the aid of demons caused
many of all nations to utter blasphemies," &c.(2) Now the fact has been
established that Marcion did not come to Rome, where Justin himself was,
until a.d. 139--142,(3) when his prominent public career commenced,
and it is apparent that the words of Justin indicate a period when his
doctrines had already


become widely diffused. For these and many other strong reasons, which
need not here be detailed, the majority of competent critics agree in
more correctly assigning the first Apology to about a.d. 147.(1) The
Dialogue with Trypho, as internal evidence shows,(2) was written after
the longer Apology, and it is therefore generally dated some time within
the first decade of the second half of the second century.(3)

In these writings Justin quotes very copiously from the Old Testament,
and he also very frequently refers to facts of Christian history and to
sayings of Jesus. Of these references, for instance, some fifty occur in
the first Apology, and upwards of seventy in the Dialogue with Trypho,
a goodly number, it will be admitted, by means of which to identify the
source from which he quotes. Justin himself frequently and distinctly
says that his information and quotations are derived from the "Memoirs
of the Apostles" [--Greek--], but except upon one occasion, which we
shall hereafter consider, when he indicates Peter, he never mentions an
author's name. Upon examination it is found that, with only one or two
brief exceptions, the


numerous quotations from these Memoirs differ more or less widely from
parallel passages in our synoptic Gospels, and in many cases differ in
the same respects as similar quotations found in other writings of
the second century, the writers of which are known to have made use of
uncanonical Gospels, and further, that these passages are quoted several
times, at intervals, by Justin with the same variations. Moreover,
sayings of Jesus are quoted from these Memoirs which are not found in
our Gospels at all, and facts in the life of Jesus and circumstances of
Christian history derived from the same source, not only are not found
in our Gospels, but are in contradiction with them.

These peculiarities have, as might have been expected, created much
diversity of opinion regarding the nature of the "Memoirs of the
Apostles." In the earlier days of New Testament criticism more
especially, many of course at once identified the Memoirs with our
Gospels exclusively, and the variations were explained by conveniently
elastic theories of free quotation from memory, imperfect and varying
MSS., combination, condensation and transposition of passages, with
slight additions from tradition, or even from some other written source,
and so on.(1) Others endeavoured to explain


away difficulties by the supposition that they were a simple harmony of
our Gospels,(1) or a harmony of the Gospels, with passages added from
some apocryphal work.(2) A much greater number of critics, however,
adopt the conclusion that, along with our Gospels, Justin made use
of one or more apocryphal Gospels, and more especially of the Gospel
according to the Hebrews, or according to Peter, and also perhaps
of tradition.(3) Others assert that he made use of a special unknown
Gospel, or of the Gospel according to the Hebrews or according to Peter,
with a subsidiary use of a version of one or two of our Gospels to
which, however, he did not attach much importance, preferring the
apocryphal work;(4) whilst


others have concluded that Justin did not make use of our Gospels at
all, and that his quotations are either from the Gospel according to the
Hebrews, or according to Peter, or from some other special apocryphal
Gospel now no longer extant.(1)

Evidence permitting of such wide diversity of results to serious and
laborious investigation of the identity of Justin's Memoirs of the
Apostles, cannot be of much value towards establishing the authenticity
of our Gospels, and in the absence of any specific mention of our
Synoptics any very elaborate examination of the Memoirs might be
considered unnecessary, more especially as it is admitted almost
universally by competent critics, that Justin did not himself consider
the Memoirs of the Apostles inspired, or of any dogmatic authority, and
had no idea of attributing canonical rank to them.(2) In pursuance of
the system which we desire invariably to adopt of


enabling every reader to form his own opinion, we shall as briefly as
possible state the facts of the case, and furnish materials for a full
comprehension of the subject. Justin himself, as we have already
stated, frequently and distinctly states that his information regarding
Christian history and his quotations are derived from the Memoirs of the
Apostles [--Greek--], to adopt the usual translation, although the word
might more correctly be rendered "Recollections," or "Memorabilia." It
has frequently been surmised that this name was suggested by the
[--Greek--] of Xenophon, but, as Credner has pointed out, the similarity is
purely accidental, and to constitute a parallel the title should have
been "Memoirs of Jesus."(1) The word [--Greek--] is here evidently used
merely in the sense of records written from memory, and it is so
employed by Papias in the passage preserved by Eusebius regarding Mark,
who, although he had not himself followed the Lord, yet recorded his
words from what he heard from Peter, and who, having done so without
order, is still defended for "thus writing some things as he remembered
them" [--Greek--].(2) In the same way Irenseus refers to the "Memoirs of a
certain Presbyter of apostolic times" [--Greek--](3) whose name he does not
mention; and Origen still more closely approximates to Justin's use of
the word when, expressing his theory regarding, the Epistle to the
Hebrews, he says that the thoughts are the Apostle's, but the
phraseology and the composition are of one recording from memory


what the Apostle said [--Greek--], and as of one writing at leisure the
dictation of his master.(1) Justin himself speaks of the authors of
the Memoirs as [--Greek--],(2) and the expression was then and afterwards
constantly in use amongst ecclesiastical and other writers.(3)

This title, "Memoirs of the Apostles," however, although most
appropriate to mere recollections of the life and teaching of Jesus,
evidently could not be applied to works ranking as canonical Gospels,
but in fact excludes such an idea; and the whole of Justin's views
regarding Holy Scripture, prove that he saw in the Memoirs merely
records from memory to assist memory.(4) He does not call them [--Greek--],
but adheres always to the familiar name of [--Greek--], and whilst his
constant appeals to a written source show very clearly his abandonment
of oral tradition, there is nothing in the name of his records which can
identify them with our Gospels.

Justin designates the source of his quotations ten times, the "Memoirs
of the Apostles,"(5) and five times he calls it simply the "Memoirs."(6)
He says, upon one occasion, that these Memoirs were composed "by his
Apostles and their followers,"(7) but except in one place,


to which we have already referred, and which we shall hereafter fully
examine, he never mentions the author's name, nor does he ever give any
more precise information regarding their composition. It has been argued
that, in saying that these Memoirs were recorded by the Apostles and
their followers, Justin intentionally and literally described the
four canonical Gospels, the first and fourth of which are ascribed
to Apostles, and the other two to Mark and Luke, the followers of
Apostles;(1) but such an inference is equally forced and unfounded.
The language itself forbids this explanation, for Justin does not speak
indefinitely of Memoirs of Apostles and their followers, but of Memoirs
of the Apostles, invariably using the article, which refers the Memoirs
to the collective body of the Apostles.(2) Moreover, the incorrectness
of such an inference is manifest from the fact that circumstances are
stated by Justin as derived from these Memoirs, which do not exist in
our Gospels at all, and which, indeed, are contradictory to them. Vast
numbers of spurious writings, moreover, bearing the names of Apostles
and their followers, and claiming more or less direct apostolic
authority, were in circulation in the early Church: Gospels according to
Peter,(3) to Thomas,(4) to James,(5) to Judas,(6) according to the


Apostles, or according to the Twelve,(1) to Barnabas,(2) to Matthias,(3)
to Nicodemus,(4) &c., and ecclesiastical writers bear abundant testimony
to the early and rapid growth of apocryphal literature.(5) The very
names of most of such apocryphal Gospels are lost, whilst of others we
possess considerable information; but nothing is more certain than
the fact, that there existed many works bearing names which render the
attempt to interpret the title of Justin's Gospel as a description of
the four in our canon quite unwarrantable. The words of Justin evidently
imply simply that the source of his quotations is the collective
recollections of the Apostles, and those who followed them, regarding
the life and teaching of Jesus.

The title: "Memoirs of the Apostles" by no means indicates a plurality
of Gospels.(6) A single passage has been pointed out, in which the
Memoirs are said to have been called [--Greek--] in the plural: "For the
Apostles in the Memoirs composed by them, which are called


Gospels,"(1) &c. The last expression, a [--Greek--], as many scholars have
declared, is probably an interpolation. It is, in all likelihood,
a gloss on the margin of some old MS. which some copyist afterwards
inserted in the text.(2) If Justin really stated that the Memoirs were
called Gospels, it seems incomprehensible that he should never call them
so himself. In no other place in his writings does he apply the
plural to them, but, on the contrary, we find Trypho referring to the
"so-called Gospel," which he states that he has carefully read,(3) and
which, of course, can only be Justin's "Memoirs;" and again, in another
part of the same dialogue, Justin quotes passages which are written
"in the Gospel"(4) [--Greek--]. The term "Gospel" is nowhere else used
by Justin in reference to a written record.(5) In no case, however,
considering the numerous Gospels then in circulation, and the fact that
many of these, different from the canonical Gospels, are known to have
been exclusively used by distinguished contemporaries of Justin, and by
various communities of Christians in that day, could such an expression
be taken as a special indication of the canonical Gospels.(6)


Describing the religious practices amongst Christians, in another place,
Justin states that, at their assemblies on Sundays, "the Memoirs of
the Apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time
permits."(1( This, however, by no means identifies the Memoirs with the
canonical Gospels, for it is well known that many writings which have
been excluded from the canon were publicly read in the Churches, until
very long after Justin's day.(2) We have already met with several
instances of this. Eusebius mentions that the Epistle of the Roman
Clement was publicly read in Churches in his time,(3) and he quotes
an Epistle of Dionysius of Corinth to Soter, the Bishop of Rome, which
states that fact for the purpose of "showing that it was the custom to
read it in the Churches, even from the earliest times."(4) Dionysius
likewise mentions the public reading of the Epistle of Soter to the
Corinthians. Epiphanius refers to the reading in the Churches of the
Epistle of Clement,(5) and it continued to be so read in Jerome's
day.(6) In like manner, the "Pastor" of Hermas,(7) the "Apocalypse of
Peter,"(8) and other works excluded from the canon were publicly read in
the Church in early days.(9) It is certain that Gospels which


did not permanently secure a place in the canon, such as the Gospel
according to the Hebrews, the Gospel according to Peter, the Gospel
of the Ebionites, and many kindred Gospels, which in early times were
exclusively used by various communities,(1) must have been read at their
public assemblies. The public reading of Justin's Memoirs, therefore,
does not prove anything, for this practice was by no means limited to
the works now in our canon.

The idea of attributing inspiration to the Memoirs, or to any other work
of the Apostles, with the single exception, as we shall presently see,
of the Apocalypse of John,(2) which, as prophecy, entered within his
limits, was quite foreign to Justin, who recognized the Old Testament
alone as the inspired word of God.(3) Indeed, as we


have already said, the very name "Memoirs" in itself excludes the
thought of inspiration,(1) which Justin attributed only to prophetic
writings; and he could not in any way regard as inspired the written
tradition of the Apostles and their followers, or a mere record of the
words of Jesus. On the contrary, he held the accounts of the Apostles to
be credible solely from their being authenticated by the Old Testament,
and he clearly states that he believes the facts recorded in the Memoirs
because the spirit of prophecy had already foretold them.(2) According
to Justin, the Old Testament contained all that was necessary for
salvation, and its prophecies are the sole criterion of truth, the
Memoirs, and even Christ himself, being merely its interpreters.(3) He
says that Christ commanded us not to put faith in human doctrines, but
in those proclaimed by the holy prophets, and taught by himself.(4)
Prophecy and the words of Christ himself are alone of dogmatic value,
all else is human teaching.(5) Indeed, from a passage quoted with
approval by Irenæus, Justin, in his lost work against Marcion, said: "I
would not have believed the Lord himself, if he had proclaimed any other
God than the Creator;" that is to say, the God of the Old Testament.(6)


That Justin does not mention the name of the author of the Memoirs would
in any case render any argument as to their identity with our canonical
Gospels inconclusive; but the total omission to do so is the more
remarkable from the circumstance that the names of Old Testament writers
constantly occur in his writings. Semisch counts 197 quotations of the
Old Testament, in which Justin refers to the author by name, or to the
book, and only 117 in which he omits to do so,(1) and the latter number
might be reduced by considering the nature of the passages cited, and
the inutility of repeating the reference.(2) When it is considered,
therefore, that notwithstanding the extremely numerous quotations, and
references to facts of Christian history, all purporting to be derived
from the "Memoirs," he absolutely never, except in the one instance
referred to, mentions an author's name, or specifies more clearly the
nature of the source, the inference must not only be that he attached
small importance to the Memoirs, but also that he was actually
ignorant of the author's name, and that his Gospel had no more definite
superscription. Upon the theory that the Memoirs of the Apostles were
simply our


four canonical Gospels, the singularity of the omission is increased by
the diversity of contents and of authors, and the consequently greater
necessity and probability that he should, upon certain occasions,
distinguish between them. The fact is that the only writing of the
New Testament to which Justin refers by name is, as we have already
mentioned, the Apocalypse, which he attributes to "a certain man whose
name was John, one of the Apostles of Christ, who prophesied by a
revelation made to him," &c.(1) The manner in which John is here
mentioned, after the Memoirs had been so constantly indefinitely
referred to, clearly shows that Justin did not possess any Gospel also
attributed to John. That he does name John, however, as author of the
Apocalypse and so frequently refers to Old Testament writers by name,
yet never identifies the author of the Memoirs, is quite irreconcilable
with the idea that they were the canonical Gospels.(2)

It is perfectly clear, however, and this is a point of very great
importance upon which critics of otherwise widely diverging views
are agreed, that Justin quotes from a _written_ source, and that oral
tradition is excluded from his system.(3) He not only does not, like
Papias, attach value to tradition, but, on the contrary, he affirms that
in the Memoirs is recorded "everything that concerns our "Saviour Jesus
Christ.,,(4) He constantly refers to them


directly, as the source of his information regarding the history of
Jesus, and distinctly states that he has derived his quotations from
them. There is no reasonable ground whatever for affirming that Justin
supplemented or modified the contents of the Memoirs by oral tradition.
It must, therefore, be remembered, in considering the nature of these
Memoirs, that the facts of Christian history and the sayings of Jesus
are derived from a determinate written source, and are quoted as Justin
found them there.(1) Those who attempt to explain the divergences
of Justin's quotations from the canonical Gospels, which they still
maintain to have been his Memoirs, on the plea of oral tradition, defend
the identity at the expense of the authority of the Gospels. For nothing
could more forcibly show Justin's disregard and disrespect for the
Gospels, than would the fact that, possessing them, he not only never
names their authors, but considers himself at liberty continually to
contradict, modify, and revise their statements.

As we have already remarked, when we examine the contents of the Memoirs
of the Apostles, through Justin's numerous quotations, we find that many
parts of the Gospel narratives are apparently quite unknown, whilst,
on the other hand, we meet with facts of evangelical history, which are
foreign to the canonical Gospels, and others which are contradictory of
Gospel statements. Justin's quotations, almost without exception, vary
more or less from the parallels in the canonical text, and often these
variations are consistently repeated by himself, and are found in other
works about his time. Moreover, Justin quotes expressions of Jesus,
which are not found in our Gospels at all. The omissions, though often


singular, supposing the canonical Gospels before him, and almost
inexplicable when it is considered how important they would often have
been to his argument, need not, as merely negative evidence, be dwelt
on here, but we shall briefly illustrate the other peculiarities of
Justin's quotations.

The only genealogy of Jesus which is recognized by Justin is traced
through the Virgin Mary. She it is who is descended from Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob, and from the house of David, and Joseph is completely set
aside.(1) Jesus "was born of a virgin of the lineage of Abraham and
tribe of Judah and of David, Christ the Son of God."(2) "Jesus Christ
the Son of God has been born without sin of a virgin sprung from the
lineage of Abraham."(3) "For of the virgin of the seed of Jacob, who was
the father of Judah, who, as we have shown, was the father of the Jews,
by the power of God was he conceived; and Jesse was his forefather
according to the prophecy, and he (Jesus) was the son of Jacob and
Judah according to successive descent."(4) The genealogy of Jesus in the
canonical Gospels, on the contrary, is traced solely through Joseph,
who alone is stated to be of the lineage of David.(5) The genealogies of
Matthew and Luke, though differing in several important points, at least
agree in excluding Mary. That of the third Gospel commences with Joseph,


and that of the first ends with him: "And Jacob begat Joseph, the
husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ."(1)
The angel who warns Joseph not to put away his wife, addresses him as
"Joseph, thou son of David,"(2) and the angel Gabriel, who, according to
the third Gospel, announces to Mary the supernatural conception, is sent
"to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of
David."(3) So persistent, however, is Justin in ignoring this Davidic
descent through Joseph, that not only does he at least eleven times
trace it through Mary, but his Gospel materially differs from the
canonical, where the descent of Joseph from David is mentioned by the
latter. In the third Gospel, Joseph goes to Judaea "unto the city
of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and
lineage of David."(4) Justin, however, simply states that he went
"to Bethlehem... for his descent was from the tribe of Judah, which
inhabited that region."(5) There can be no doubt that Justin not only
did not derive his genealogies from the canonical Gospels, but that on
the contrary the Memoirs, from which he did learn the Davidic descent
through Mary only, differed persistently and materially from them.(6)

Many traces still exist to show that the view of Justin's Memoirs of the
Apostles of the Davidic descent of Jesus through Mary instead of through
Joseph, as the canonical Gospels represent it, was anciently held in the
Church. Apocryphal Gospels of early date, based without doubt upon more
ancient evangelical works, are still extant, in which the genealogy of
Jesus is traced, as in


Justin's Memoirs, through Mary. One of these is the Gospel of
James, commonly called the _Protevangelium_, a work referred to by
ecclesiastical writers of the third and fourth centuries,(1) and which
Tischendorf even ascribes to the first three decades of the second
century,(2) in which Mary is stated to be of the lineage of David.(3)
She is also described as of the royal race and family of David in the
Gospel of the Nativity of Mary,(4) and in the Gospel of pseudo-Matthew
her Davidic descent is prominently mentioned.(5) There can be no doubt
that all of these works are based upon earlier originals,(6) and there
is no reason why they may not have been drawn from the same source from
which Justin derived his version of the genealogy in contradiction to
the Synoptics.(7)

In the narrative of the events which preceded the


birth of Jesus, the first Gospel describes the angel as appearing only
to Joseph and explaining the supernatural conception,(1) and the author
seems to know nothing of any announcement to Mary.(2) The third Gospel,
on the contrary, does not mention any such angelic appearance to Joseph,
but represents the angel as announcing the conception to Mary herself
alone.(3) Justin's Memoirs know of the appearances both to Joseph and
to Mary, but the words spoken by the angel on each occasion differ
materially from those of both Gospels.(4) In this place, only one point,
however, can be noticed. Justin describes the angel as saying to Mary:
"'Behold, thou shalt conceive of the Holy Ghost, and shalt bear a son,
and he shall be called the Son of the Highest, and thou shalt call
his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins,' as
they taught who recorded everything that concerns our Saviour Jesus
Christ."(5) Now this is a clear and direct quotation, but besides
distinctly differing in form from our Gospels, it presents the important
peculiarity that the words, "for he shall save his people from


their sins," are not, in Luke, addressed to Mary at all, but that they
occur in the first Gospel in the address of the angel to Joseph.(1)

These words, however, are not accidentally inserted in this place, for
we find that they are joined in the same manner to the address of the
angel to Mary in the Protevangelium of James: "For the power of the Lord
will overshadow thee; wherefore also that holy thing which is born of
thee shall be called the Son of the Highest, and thou shalt call
his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins."(2)
Tischendorf states his own opinion that this passage is a recollection
of the Protevangelium unconsciously added by Justin to the account in
Luke,(3) but the arbitrary nature of the limitation "unconsciously"
(ohne dass er sich dessen bewusst war) here is evident. There is a point
in connection with this which merits a moment's attention. In the text
of the Protevangelium, edited by Tischendorf, the angel commences his
address to Mary by saying: "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour
before the Lord, and thou shalt conceive of his Word" [--Greek--].(4) Now

after quoting the passage above, continues to argue that the Spirit and
the power of God must not be misunderstood to mean anything else
than the Word, who is also the first born of God as the prophet Moses
declared; and it was this which, when it came upon the Virgin and
overshadowed her, caused


her to conceive.(1) The occurrence of the singular expression in
the Protovangelium and the similar explanation of Justin immediately
accompanying a variation from our Gospels, which is equally shared
by the apocryphal work, strengthens the suspicion of a similarity
of origin. Justin's divergences from the Protevangelium prevent our
supposing that, in its present state, it could have been the actual
source of his quotations, but the wide differences which exist between
the extant MSS. of the Protevangelium show that even the most ancient
does not present it in its original form. It is much more probable
that Justin had before him a still older work, to which both the
Protevangelium and the third Gospel were indebted.(2)

Justin's account of the removal of Joseph to Bethlehem is peculiar, and
evidently is derived from a distinct un-canonical source. It may be well
to present his account and that of Luke side by side:


Attention has already been drawn to the systematic manner in which the
Davidic descent of Jesus is traced by Justin through Mary, and to the
suppression in this passage of all that might seem to indicate a
claim of descent through Joseph. As the continuation of a peculiar
representation of the history of the infancy of Jesus, differing
materially from that of the Synoptics, it is impossible to regard this,
with its remarkable variations, as an arbitrary correction by Justin of
the canonical text, and we must hold it to be derived from a different
source, perhaps, indeed, one of those from which Luke's Gospel itself
first drew the elements of the narrative, and this persuasion
increases as further variations in the earlier history, presently to be
considered, are taken into account. It is not necessary to enter into
the question of the correctness of the date of this census, but it
is evident that Justin's Memoirs clearly and deliberately modify the
canonical narrative. The limitation of the census to Judæa, instead of
extending it to the whole Roman Empire; the designation of Cyrenius
as [--Greek--] of Judaea instead of [--Greek--] of Syria; and the careful
suppression of the Davidic element in connection with Joseph indicate a
peculiar written source different from the Synoptics.(1)

Had Justin departed from the account in Luke with the view of correcting
inaccurate statements, the matter might have seemed more consistent with
the use of the third Gospel, although at the same time it might have
evinced but little reverence for it as a canonical


work. On the contrary, however, the statements of Justin are still more
inconsistent with history than those in Luke, inasmuch as, so far from
being the first procurator of Judsea, as Justin's narrative states in
opposition to the third Gospel, Cyrenius never held that office, but
was really, later, the imperial proconsul over Syria, and as such, when
Judaea became a Roman province after the banishment of Archelaus, had
the power to enrol the inhabitants, and instituted Coponius as first
Procurator of Judaea. Justin's statement involves the position that
at one and the same time Herod was the King, and Cyrenius the Roman
Procurator of Judsea.(1) In the same spirit, and departing from the
usual narrative of the Synoptics, which couples the birth of Jesus with
"the days of Herod the King," Justin in another place states that Christ
was born "under Cyrenius."(2) Justin evidently adopts without criticism
a narrative which he found in his Memoirs, and does not merely correct
and remodel a passage of the third Gospel, but, on the contrary, seems
altogether ignorant of it.(3)

The genealogies of Jesus in the first and third Gospels differ
irreconcileably from each other. Justin differs from both. In this
passage another discrepancy arises. While Luke seems to represent
Nazareth as the dwelling-place of Joseph and Mary, and Bethlehem as the
city to which they went solely on account of the census,(4)


Matthew, who seems to know nothing of the census, makes Bethlehem, on
the contrary, the place of residence of Joseph,(1) and on coming back
from Egypt, with the evident intention of returning to Bethlehem, Joseph
is warned by a dream to turn aside into Galilee, and he goes and dwells,
apparently for the first time, "in a city called Nazareth, that it might
be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets: He shall be called a
Nazarene."(2) Justin, however, goes still further than the third Gospel
in his departure from the data of Matthew, and where Luke merely infers,
Justin distinctly asserts Nazareth to have been the dwelling-place of
Joseph [--Greek--], and Bethlehem, in contradistinction, the place from
which he derived his origin [--Greek--].3

The same view is to be found in several apocryphal Gospels still extant.
In the Protevangelium of James again, we find Joseph journeying to
Bethlehem with Mary before the birth of Jesus.(4) The census here is
ordered by Augustus, who commands: "That all who were in Bethlehem
_of Judeæ_, should be enrolled."(5) a limitation worthy of notice
in comparison with that of Justin. In like manner the Gospel of the
Nativity. This Gospel represents the parents of Mary as living in
Nazareth, in


which place she was born,(1) and it is here that the Angel Gabriel
announces to her the supernatural conception.(2) Joseph goes to
Bethlehem to set his house in order and prepare what is necessary for
the marriage, but then returns to Nazareth, where he remains with Mary
until her time was nearly accomplished,(3) "when Joseph having taken
his wife with whatever else was necessary went to the city of Bethlehem,
whence he was."(4) The phrase "_unde ipse erat_" recalls the [--Greek--]
of Justin.(6) As we continue the narrative of the birth and infancy of
Jesus, we meet with further variations from the account in the canonical
Gospels for which the preceding have prepared us, and which indicate
that Justin's Memorials certainly differed from them:


At least it is clear that these particulars of the birth of Jesus,--not
taking place in Bethlehem itself but in a cave [--Greek--] near the
village, because Joseph could not find a lodging there,--are not derived
from our Gospels, and here even Scmisch(1) is forced to abandon his
theory that Justin's variations arise merely from imperfectly quoting
from memory, and to conjecture that he must have adopted tradition.
It has, however, been shown that Justin himself distinctly excludes
tradition, and in this case, moreover, there are many special reasons
for believing that he quotes from a written source. Ewald rightly points
out that here, and in other passages where, in common with ancient
ecclesiastical writers, Justin departs from our Gospels, the variation
can in no way be referred to oral tradition;(2) and, moreover, that when
Justin proves(3) from Isaiah xxxiii. 16, that Christ _must_ be born in
a cave, he thereby shows how certainly he found the fact of the cave in
his written Gospel.(4) The whole argument of Justin excludes the
idea that he could avail himself of mere tradition. He maintains that
everything which the prophets had foretold of Christ had actually been
fulfilled, and he perpetually refers to the Memoirs and other written
documents for the verification of his assertions. He either refers to
the prophets for the confirmation of the Memoirs, or shows in the


Memoirs the narrative of facts which are the accomplishment of
prophecies, but in both cases it is manifest that there must have been
a record of the facts which he mentions. There can be no doubt that
the circumstances we have just quoted, and which are not found in the
canonical Gospels, must have been narrated in Justin's Memoirs.

We find, again, the same variations as in Justin in several extant
apocryphal Gospels. The Protevangelium of James represents the birth
of Jesus as taking place in a cave;(1) so also the Arabic Gospel of
the Infancy,(2) and several others.(3) This uncanonical detail is also
mentioned by several of the Fathers, Origen and Eusebius both stating
that the cave and the manger were still shown in their day.(4)
Teschendorf does not hesitate to affirm that Justin derived this
circumstance from the Protevangelium.(5) Justin, however, does not
distinguish such a source; and the mere fact that we have a form of that
Gospel, in which it occurs, still extant, by no means justifies such
a specific conclusion, when so many other works, now lost, may equally
have contained


it. If the fact be derived from the Protevangelium, that work, or
whatever other apocryphal Gospel may have supplied it, must be admitted
to have at least formed part of the Memoirs of the Apostles, and with
that necessary admission ends all special identification of the Memoirs
with our canonical Gospels. Much more probably, however, Justin quotes
from the more ancient source from which the Protevangelium and, perhaps,
Luke drew their narrative.(1) There can be very little doubt that the
Gospel according to the Hebrews contained an account of the birth in
Bethlehem, and as it is, at least, certain that Justin quotes other
particulars known to have been in it, there is fair reason to suppose
that he likewise found this fact in that work.(2) In any case it
is indisputable that he derived it from a source different from our
canonical Gospels.(3)

Justin does not apparently know anything of the episode of the shepherds
of the plain, and the angelic appearance to them, narrated in the third

To the cave in which the infant Jesus is born came the Magi, but
instead of employing the phrase used by the first Gospel, "Magi from the
East,"(5) [--Greek--] Justin always describes them as "Magi from Arabia,"
[--Greek--]. Justin is so punctilious that he


never speaks of these Magi without adding "from Arabia," except twice,
where, however, he immediately mentions Arabia as the point of the
argument for which they are introduced; and in the same chapter in which
this occurs he four times calls them directly Magi from Arabia.(1)
He uses this expression not less than nine times.(2) That he had no
objection to the term "the East," and that with a different context it
was common to his vocabulary, is proved by his use of it elsewhere.(3)
It is impossible to resist the conviction that Justin's Memoirs
contained the phrase "Magi from Arabia," which is foreign to our

Again, according to Justin, the Magi see the star "in heaven"
[--Greek--],(5) and not "in the East" [--Greek--] as the first Gospel has
it:(6) "When a star rose in heaven [--Greek--] at the time of his birth
as is recorded in the Memoirs of the Apostle."(7) He apparently knows
nothing of the star guiding them to the place where the young child
was.(8) Herod, moreover, questions the elders [--Greek--](9) as to the
place where the Christ should be born, and not the "chief priests
and scribes of the people" [--Greek--].(10) These divergences, taken in
connection with those which are interwoven with the whole narrative
of the birth, can only proceed from the fact that Justin quotes from a
source different from ours.(11)

Justin relates that when Jesus came to Jordan he was


believed to be the son of Joseph the carpenter, and he appeared without
comeliness, as the Scriptures announced; "and being considered a
carpenter,--for, when he was amongst men, he made carpenter's works,
ploughs and yokes [--Greek--]; by these both teaching the symbols of
righteousness and an active life."(1) These details are foreign to the
canonical Gospels. Mark has the expression: "Is not this the carpenter,
the son of Mary? "(2) but Luke omits it altogether.(3) The idea that the
Son of God should do carpenter's work on earth was very displeasing to
many Christians, and attempts to get rid of the obnoxious phrase are
evident in Mark. Apparently the copy which Origen used had omitted
even the modified phrase, for he declares that Jesus himself is nowhere
called a carpenter in the Gospels current in the Church.(4) A few
MSS. still extant are without it, although it is found in all the more
ancient Codices.

Traces of these details are found in several apocryphal works,
especially in the Gospel of Thomas, where it is said: "Now his father
was a carpenter and made at that time ploughs and yokes" [--Greek--](5), an
account which, from the similarity of language, was in all


probability derived from the same source as that of Justin. The
explanation which Justin adds: "by which he taught the symbols of
righteousness and an active life," seems to indicate that he refers to a
written narrative containing the detail, already, perhaps, falling into
sufficient disfavour to require the aid of symbolical interpretation.
In the narrative of the baptism there are many peculiarities which prove
that Justin did not derive it from our Gospels. Thrice he speaks of
John sitting by the river Jordan: "He cried as he sat by the river
Jordan;"(1( "While he still sat by the river Jordan;"(2) and "For when
John sat by the Jordan."(3) This peculiar expression so frequently
repeated must have been derived from a written Gospel.(4) Then Justin,
in proving that Jesus predicted his second coming and the re-appearance
of Elijah, states: "And therefore our Lord in his teaching announced
that this should take place, saying Elias also should come" [--Greek--].
A little lower down he again expressly quotes the words of Jesus: "For
which reason our Christ declared on earth to those who asserted
that Elias must come before Christ: Elias, indeed, shall come," &c.

Matthew, however, reads: "Elias indeed cometh," [--Greek--].(6) Now there
is no version in which [--Greek--] is substituted for [--Greek--] as Justin
does, but, as Credner has pointed out,(7) the whole weight of Justin's
argument lies in the use of the future tense. As there are so many other


in Justin's context, this likewise appears to be derived from a source
different from our Gospels.(1)

When Jesus goes to be baptized by John many-striking peculiarities occur
in Justin's narrative: "As Jesus went down to the water, a fire also
was kindled in the Jordan; and when he came up from the water, the Holy
Spirit like a dove fell upon him, as the apostles of this very Christ of
ours wrote... and at the same time a voice came from the heavens... Thou
art my son, this day have I begotten thee."(2)

The incident of the fire in Jordan is of course quite foreign to our
Gospels, and further the words spoken by the heavenly voice differ from
those reported by them, for instead of the passage from Psalm ii. 7, the
Gospels have: "Thou art my beloved son; in thee I am well pleased."(3)
Justin repeats his version a second time in the same chapter, and again
elsewhere he says regarding the temptation: "For this devil also at
the time when he (Jesus) went up from the river Jordan, when the voice
declared to him: 'Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee,' it
is written in the Memoirs of the Apostles, came to him and tempted him,"

In both of these passages, it will be perceived that Justin directly
refers to the Memoirs of the Apostles as the source of his statements.
Some have argued that


Justin only appeals to them for the fact of the descent of the Holy
Ghost, and not for the rest of the narrative.(1) It has of course been
felt that, if it can be shown that Justin quotes from the Memoirs words
and circumstances which are not to be found in our canonical Gospels,
the identity of the two can no longer be maintained. It is, however, in
the highest degree arbitrary to affirm that Justin intends to limit his
appeal to the testimony of the apostles to one-half of his sentence.
To quote authority for one assertion and to leave another in the same
sentence, closely connected with it and part indeed of the very
same narrative, not only unsupported, but indeed weakened by direct
exclusion, would indeed be singular, for Justin affirms with equal
directness and confidence the fact of the fire in Jordan, the descent
of the Holy Ghost, and the words spoken by the heavenly voice. If in
the strictest grammatical accuracy there may be no absolute necessity
to include in that which the Apostles wrote more than the phrase
immediately preceding, there is not, on the other hand, anything which
requires or warrants the exclusion of the former part of the sentence.
The matter must therefore be decided according to fair inference and
reasonable probability, and not to suit any foregone conclusion, and
these as well as all the evidence concerning Justin's use of the Memoirs
irresistibly point to the conclusion that the whole passage is derived
from one source. In the second extract given above, it is perfectly
clear that the words spoken by the heavenly voice, which Justin again
quotes, and which are not in our Gospels, were recorded in the Memoirs,
for Justin could


not have referred to them for an account of the temptation at the time
when Jesus went up from Jordan and the voice said to him: "Thou art my
son; this day have I begotten thee," if these facts and words were not
recorded in them at all.(1) It is impossible to doubt, after impartial
consideration, that the incident of the fire in Jordan, the words spoken
by the voice from heaven, and the temptation were taken from the same
source: they must collectively be referred to the Memoirs.(2)

Of one thing we may be sure: had Justin known the form of words used by
the voice from heaven according to our Gospels, he would certainly have
made use of it in preference to that which he actually found in his
Memoirs. He is arguing that Christ is preexisting God, become incarnate
by God's will through the Virgin Mary, and Trypho demands how he can be
demonstrated to have been pre-existent, who is said to be filled with
the power of the Holy Ghost, as though he had required this, Justin
replies that these powers of the Spirit have come upon him not because
he had need of them, but because they would accomplish Scripture, which
declared that after him there should be no prophet.(3) The proof of
this, he continues, is that, as soon as the child was born, the Magi
from Arabia came to worship him, because even at his birth he was in
possession of his power,(4) and after he had grown up like other men by
the use of suitable means, he came to


the river Jordan where John was baptizing, and as he went into the water
a fire was kindled in the Jordan, and the Holy Ghost descended like a
dove. He did not go to the river because he had any need of baptism or
of the descent of the Spirit, but because of the human race which had
fallen under the power of death. Now if, instead of the passage actually
cited, Justin could have quoted the words addressed to Jesus by the
voice from heaven according to the Gospels: "Thou art my beloved son;
in thee I am well pleased," his argument would have been greatly
strengthened by such direct recognition of an already existing, and, as
he affirmed, pre-existent divinity in Jesus. Not having these words in
his Memoirs of the Apostles, however, he was obliged to be content with
those which he found there: "Thou art my son; this day have I begotten
thee;"--words which, in fact, in themselves destroyed the argument for
pre-existence, and dated the divine begetting of Jesus as the son of
God that very day. The passage, indeed, supported those who actually
asserted that the Holy Ghost first entered into Jesus at his baptism.
These considerations, and the repeated quotation of the same words in
the same form, make it clear that Justin quotes from a source different
from our Gospel.(1)

In the scanty fragments of the "Gospel according to the Hebrews" which
have been preserved, we find both the incident of the fire kindled in
Jordan and the words


of the heavenly voice as quoted by Justin. "And as he went up from the
water, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Holy Spirit of God in the
form of a dove which came down and entered into him. And a voice
came from heaven saying: 'Thou art my beloved son; in thee I am well
pleased;' and again: 'This day have I begotten thee.' And immediately
a great light shone round about the place."(1) Epiphanius extracts this
passage from the version in use amongst the Ebionites, but it is well
known that there were many other varying forms of the same Gospel; and
Hilgenfeld,(2) with all probability, conjectures that the version known
to Epiphanius was no longer in the same purity as that used by Justin,
but represents the transition stage to the Canonical Gospels,--adopting
the words of the voice which they give without yet discarding the older
form. Jerome gives another form of the words from the version in use
amongst the Nazarenes: "Factum est autem cum ascendisset Dominus de
aqua, descendit fons omnis Spiritus Sancti et requievit super eum, et
dixit illi: Fili mi, in omnibus Prophetis expectabam te ut venires
et requiescerem in te, tu es enim requies mea, tu es filius meus
primo-genitus qui regnas in sempiternum."(3) This supports Justin's
reading. Regarding the Gospel according to the Hebrews more must be said
hereafter, but when it is remembered that Justin, a native of Samaria,
probably first knew Christianity through believers in Syria to whose
Jewish view of Christianity he all his


life adhered, and that these Christians almost exclusively used this
Gospel(1) under various forms and names, it is reasonable to suppose
that he also like them knew and made use of it, a supposition increased
almost to certainty when it is found that Justin quotes words and facts
foreign to the Canonical Gospels which are known to have been contained
in it. The argument of Justin that Jesus did not need baptism may also
be compared to another passage of the Gospel according to the Hebrews
preserved by Jerome, and which preceded the circumstances narrated
above, in which the mother and brethren of Jesus say to him that John
the Baptist is baptizing for the remission of sins, and propose that
they should go to be baptized by him. Jesus replies, "In what way have
I sinned that I should go and be baptized by him?"(2) The most competent
critics agree that Justin derived the incidents of the fire in Jordan
and the words spoken by the heavenly voice from the Gospel according to
the Hebrews or some kindred work,(3) and there is every probability that
the numerous other quotations in his works differing from our Gospels
are taken from the same source.

The incident of the fire in Jordan likewise occurs in the ancient work
"Prædicatio Pauli,"(4) coupled with a


context which forcibly recalls the passage of the Gospel according to
the Hebrews, which has just been quoted, and apparent allusions to it
are found in the Sibylline Books and early Christian literature.(1)
Credner has pointed out that the marked use which was made of fire or
lights at Baptism by the Church, during early times, probably rose out
of this tradition regarding the fire which appeared in Jordan at the
baptism of Jesus.(2) The peculiar form of words used by the heavenly
voice according to Justin and to the Gospel according to the Hebrews was
also known to several of the Fathers.(3) Augustine mentions that some
MSS. in his time contained that reading in Luke iii. 22, although
without the confirmation of more ancient Greek codices.(4) It is still
extant in the Codex Bezæ (D). The Itala version adds to Matthew iii. 15:
"and when he was baptized a great light shone round from the water, so
that all who had come were afraid" (et cum baptizaretur, lumen ingens
circumfulsit de aqua, ita ut timerent omnes qui advenerant); and again
at Luke iii. 22 it gives the words of the voice in a form agreeing
at least in sense with those which Justin found in his Memoirs of the


These circumstances point with certainty to an earlier original
corresponding with Justin, in all probability the Gospel according to
the Hebrews, and to the subsequent gradual elimination of the passage
from the Gospels finally adopted by the Church for dogmatic reasons, as
various sects based on the words doctrines which were at variance with
the ever-enlarging belief of the majority.(1)

Then Justin states that the men of his time asserted that the miracles
of Jesus were performed by magical art [--Greek--], "for they ventured
to call him a magician and deceiver of the people."(2) This cannot be
accepted as a mere version of the charge that Jesus cast out demons by
Beelzebub, but must have been found by Justin in his Memoirs.(3) In the
Gospel of Nicodemus or Acta Pilati, the Jews accuse Jesus before Pilate
of being a magician,(4) coupled with the assertion that he casts out
demons through Beelzebub the prince of the demons; and again they simply
say: "Did we not tell thee that he is a magician?"(5) We shall presently
see that Justin actually refers to certain acts of Pontius Pilate in
justification of other assertions regarding the trial of Jesus.(6) In
the Clementine Recognitions, moreover, the same charge is made by one
of the Scribes, who says that Jesus did not perform his miracles as a
prophet, but as a magician.(7)


Oelsus makes a similar charge,(1) and Lactantius refers to such an
opinion as prevalent among the Jews at the time of Jesus,(2) which we
find confirmed by many passages in Talmudic literature.(3) There was
indeed a book called "Magia Jesu Christi," of which Jesus himself, it
was pretended, was the author.(4)

In speaking of the trial of Jesus, Justin says: "For also as the prophet
saith, they reviled him and set him on the judgment seat and said: Judge
for us,"(5) a peculiarity which is not found in the Canonical Gospels.
Justin had just quoted the words of Isaiah (lxv. 2, lviii. 2)... "They
now ask of me judgment and dare to draw nigh to God," and then he cites
Psalm xxii. 16, 22: "They pierced my hands and my feet, and upon my
vesture they cast lots." He says that this did not happen to David, but
was fulfilled in Christ, and the expression regarding the piercing the
hands and feet referred to the nails of the cross which were driven
through his hands and feet. And after he was crucified they cast lots
upon his vesture. "And that these things occurred," he continues, "you
may learn from the Acts drawn up under Pontius Pilate."(6) He likewise
upon another occasion refers to the same Acta for confirmation of
statements.(7) The Gospel of Nicodemus or Gesta


Pilati, now extant, does not contain the circumstance to which we are
now referring, but in contradiction to the statement in the fourth
Gospel (xviii. 28, 29) the Jews in this apocryphal work freely go into
the very judgment seat of Pilate.(1) Teschendorf maintains that the
first part of the Gospel of Nicodemus, or Acta Pilati, still extant,
is the work, with more or less of interpolation, which, existing in the
second century, is referred to by Justin.(2) A few reasons may here be
given against such a conclusion. The fact of Jesus being set upon the
judgment seat is not contained in the extant Acta Pilati at all, and
therefore this work does not correspond with Justin's statement. It
seems most unreasonable to suppose that Justin should seriously refer
Roman Emperors to a work of this description, so manifestly composed
by a Christian, and the Acta to which he directs them must have been a
presumed official document, to which they had access, as of course no
other evidence could be of any weight with them.(3) The extant work
neither pretends to be, nor has in the slightest degree the form of, an
official report. Moreover, the prologue attached to it distinctly states
that Ananias, a provincial warden in the reign of Flavius Theodosius
(towards the middle of the fifth century), found these Acts written in
Hebrew by Nicodemus, and that he translated them into Greek.(4) The work
itself, therefore, only pretends to be a private composition in Hebrew,
and does not claim any relation to Pontius Pilate. The Greek is very
corrupt and


degraded, and considerations of style alone would assign it to the fifth
century, as would still more imperatively the anachronisms with which it
abounds.1 Tischendorf considers that Tertullian refers to the same work
as Justin, but it is evident that he infers an official report, for he
says distinctly, after narrating the circumstances of the crucifixion
and resurrection: "All these facts regarding Christ, Pilate.... reported
to the reigning Emperor Tiberius."(3) It is extremely probable that
in saying this Tertullian merely extended the statement of Justin. He
nowhere states that he himself had seen this report, nor does Justin,
and as is the case with the latter, some of the facts which Tertullian
supposes to be reported by Pilate are not contained in the apocryphal
work.(3) There are still extant some apocryphal writings in the form
of official reports made by Pilate of the trial, crucifixion, and
resurrection of Jesus,(4) but none are of very ancient date. It is
certain that, on the supposition that Pilate may have made an official
report of events so important in their estimation, Christian writers;
with greater zeal than conscience, composed fictitious reports in his
name, in the supposed interest of their religion, and there was in that
day little or no critical sense to detect and discredit such forgeries.
There is absolutely no evidence to show that Justin was acquainted with
any official report of Pilate to the Roman Emperor, nor indeed is it
easy to understand how he could possibly have been, even if such a
document existed, and it is most probable, as


Scholten conjectures, that Justin merely referred to documents which
tradition supposed to have been written, but of which he himself had no
personal knowledge.(1) Be this as it may, as he considered the incident
of the judgment seat a fulfilment of prophecy, there can be little or
no doubt that it was narrated in the Memoirs which contained "everything
relating to Jesus Christ," and finding it there he all the more
naturally assumed that it must have been mentioned in any official

In narrating the agony in the Garden, there are further variations.
Justin says: "And the passage: 'All my bones are poured out and
dispersed like water; my heart has become like wax melting in the midst
of my belly,' was a prediction of that which occurred to him that night
when they came out against him to the Mount of Olives to seize him. For
in the Memoirs composed, I say, by his Apostles and their followers, it
is recorded that his sweat fell down like drops while he prayed, saying:
'If possible, let this cup pass.'"(2) It will be observed that this is
a direct quotation from the Memoirs, but there is a material difference
from our Gospels. Luke is the only Gospel which mentions the bloody
sweat, and there the account reads (xxii. 44), "as it were drops of
blood falling down to the ground."



In addition to the other linguistic differences Justin omits the
emphatic [--Greek--] which gives the whole point to Luke's account, and
which evidently could not have been in the text of the Memoirs. Semisch
argues that [--Greek--] alone, especially in medical phraseology, meant


"drops of blood," without the addition of [--Greek--];(l) but the author of
the third Gospel did not think so, and undeniably makes use of both, and
Justin does not. Moreover, Luke introduces the expression [--Greek--] to
show the intensity of the agony, whereas Justin evidently did not mean
to express "drops of blood" at all, his intention in referring to the
sweat being to show that the prophecy: "All my bones are poured out, &c,
like water," had been fulfilled, with which the reading in his Memoirs
more closely corresponded. The prayer also so directly quoted decidedly
varies from Luke xxii. 42, which reads: "Father, if thou be willing to
remove this cup from me ":



In Matthew xxvi. 39 this part of the prayer is more like the reading of
Justin: "Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me "--[--Greek--]
but that Gospel has nothing of the sweat of agony, which excludes it
from consideration. In another place Justin also quotes the prayer in
the Garden as follows: "He prayed, saying: 'Father, if it be possible,
let this cup pass from me;' and besides this, praying, he said: 'Not as
I wish, but as thou willest.'"(2) The first phrase in this place, apart
from some transposition of words, agrees with Matthew; but even if this
reading be preferred of the two, the absence of the incident of the
sweat of agony from the first Gospel renders it impossible to regard it
as the source; and, further, the second part of the prayer which is here


given differs materially both from the first and third Gospels.


The two parts of this prayer, moreover, seem to have been separate in
the Memoirs, for not only does Justin not quote the latter portion
at all in Dial. 103, but here he markedly divides it from the former.
Justin knows nothing of the episode of the Angel who strengthens Jesus,
which is related in Luke xxii. 43. There is, however, a still more
important point to mention: that although verses 43, 44 with the
incidents of the angel and the bloody sweat are certainly in a great
number of MSS., they are omitted by some of the oldest Codices, as for
instance by the Alexandrian and Vatican MSS.(1) It is evident that in
this part Justin's Memoirs differed from our first and third Gospels
much in the same way that they do from each other.

In the same chapter Justin states that when the Jews went out to the
Mount of Olives to take Jesus, "there was not even a single man to run
to his help as a guiltless person."(2) This is in direct contradiction
to all the Gospels,(3) and Justin not only completely ignores the
episode of the ear of Malchus, but in this passage

     1  In the Sinaitic Codex they are marked for omission by a
     later hand. Lachmann brackets, and Drs. Westcott and Hort
     double-bracket them. The MS. evidence may bo found in detail
     in Scrivener's Int. to Crit. N. T. 2nd ed. p. 521, stated in
     the way which is most favourable for the authenticity.


excludes it, and his Gospel could not have contained it.(1) Luke is
specially marked in generalizing the resistance of those about Jesus to
his capture: "When they which were about him saw what would follow, they
said unto him: Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And a certain one of
them smote the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear."(2)
As this episode follows immediately after the incident of the bloody
sweat and prayer in the Garden, and the statement of Justin occurs in
the very same chapter in which he refers to them, this contradiction
further tends to confirm the conclusion that Justin employed a different

It is quite in harmony with the same peculiar account that Justin states
that, "after he (Jesus) was crucified, all his friends (the Apostles)
stood aloof from him, having denied him(3).... (who, after he rose
from the dead, and after they were convinced by himself that before his
passion he had told them that he must suffer these things, and that they
were foretold by the prophets, repented of their flight from him when he
was crucified), and while remaining among them he sang praises to
God, as is made evident in the Memoirs of the Apostles."(4) Justin,
therefore, repeatedly asserts that _after_ the crucifixion all the
Apostles forsook him, and he extends the denial of Peter


to the whole of the twelve. It is impossible to consider this distinct
and reiterated affirmation a mere extension of the passage: "they
all forsook him and fled "[--Greek--],(1) when Jesus was arrested, which
proceeded mainly from momentary fear.(2) Justin seems to indicate
that the disciples withdrew from and denied Jesus when they saw him
crucified, from doubts which consequently arose as to his Messianic
character. Now, on the contrary, the Canonical Gospels represent the
disciples as being together after the Crucifixion.(3) Justin does not
exhibit any knowledge of the explanation given by the angels at the
sepulchre as to Christ's having foretold all that had happened,(4) but
makes this proceed from Jesus himself. Indeed, he makes no mention of
these angels at all.

There are some traces elsewhere of the view that the disciples were
offended after the Crucifixion.(5) Hilgenfeld points out the appearance
of special Petrine tendency in this passage, in the fact that it is not
Peter alone, but all the Apostles, who are said to deny their master;
and he suggests that an indication of the source from which Justin
quoted may be obtained from the kindred quotation in the Epistle to the
Smyrnæans (iii.) by pseudo-Ignatius:

"For I know that also after his resurrection he was in the flesh, and
I believe that he is so now. And when he came to those that were with
Peter, he said to them: Lay hold, handle me, and see that I am


not an incorporeal spirit. And immediately they touched him and
believed, being convinced by his flesh and spirit." Jerome, it will be
remembered, found this in the Gospel according to the Hebrews used by
the Nazarenes, which he translated,(1) from which we have seen that
Justin in all probability derived other particulars differing from the
Canonical Gospels, and with which we shall constantly meet, in a similar
way, in examining Justin's quotations. Origen also found it in a work
called the "Doctrine of Peter" [--Greek--],(2) which must have been akin to
the "Preaching of Peter" [--Greek--].(3) Hilgenfeld suggests that, in the
absence of more certain information, there is no more probable source
from which Justin may have derived his statement than the Gospel
according to Peter, or the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which is
known to have contained so much in the same spirit.(4)

It may well be expected that, at least in touching such serious matters
as the Crucifixion and last words of Jesus, Justin must adhere with care
to authentic records, and not fall into the faults of loose quotation
from memory, free handling of texts, and careless omissions and
additions, by which those who maintain the identity of the Memoirs
with the Canonical Gospels seek to explain the systematic variations of
Justin's quotations from the text of the latter. It will, however, be
found that here also marked discrepancies occur. Justin says, after
referring to numerous prophecies regarding the treatment of Christ: "And
again, when he says: 'They spake with their lips, they wagged the head,
saying: Let him


deliver himself.' That all these things happened to the Christ from the
Jews, you can ascertain. For when he was being crucified they shot out
the lips, and wagged their heads, saying: 'Let him who raised the dead
deliver himself.'"(1) And in another place, referring to the same Psalm
(xxii.) as a prediction of what was to happen to Jesus, Justin says:
"For they who saw him crucified also wagged their heads, each one of
them, and distorted [--Greek--] their lips, and sneeringly and in scornful
irony repeated among themselves those words which are also written in
the Memoirs of his Apostles: He declared himself the Son of God; (let
him) come down, let him walk about; let God save him."(2) In both
of these passages Justin directly appeals to written authority. The
[--Greek--] may leave the source of the first uncertain,(3) but the second
is distinctly stated to contain the actual words "written in the Memoirs
of his Apostles," and it seems reasonable to suppose that the former
passage is also derived from them. It is scarcely necessary to add that
both differ very materially from the Canonical Gospels.(4) The taunt

     4  Canon Westcott admits that in the latter passage Justin
     does profess to give the exact words which were recorded in
     the Memoirs, and that they are not to be found in our
     Gospels; "but," he apologetically adds, "we do find these
     others so closely connected with them that few readers would
     feel the difference"! This is a specimen of apologetic
     criticism. Dr. Westcott goes on to say that as no MS. or
     Father known to him has preserved any reading more closely
     resembling Justin's, "if it appear not to be deducible from
     our Gospels, due allowance being made for the object which
     he had in view, its source) must remain concealed." On the
     Canon, p. 114 f. Cf. Matt, xxvii. 39--43; Mark xv. 29--32;
     Luke xxiii. 34--37.


contained in the first of these passages is altogether peculiar to
Justin: "Let him who raised the dead deliver himself" [--Greek--];(1) and
even if Justin did not himself indicate a written source, it would
not be reasonable to suppose that he should himself for the first time
record words to which he refers as the fulfilment of prophecy.(2) It
would be still more ineffectual to endeavour to remove the difficulty
presented by such a variation by attributing the words to tradition, at
the same time that it is asserted that Justin's Memoirs were actually
identical with the Gospels. No aberration of memory could account
for such a variation, and it is impossible that Justin should prefer
tradition regarding a form of words, so liable to error and alteration,
with written Gospels within his reach. Besides, to argue that Justin
affirmed that the truth of his statement could be ascertained [--Greek--],
whilst the words which he states to have been spoken were not actually
recorded, would be against all reason.

The second of the mocking speeches (3) of the lookers-on is referred
distinctly to the Memoirs of the Apostles, but is also, with the
accompanying description, foreign

     1 The nearest parallel in our Gospels is in Luke xxiii. 35.
     "He saved others, let him save himself if this man be the
     Christ of God, his chosen."    [--Greek--]

     3  Semisch argues that both forms are quotations of the same
     sentence, and that there is consequently a contradiction in
     the very quotations themselves; but there can be no doubt
     whatever that the two phrases are distinct parts of the
     mockery, and the very same separation and variation occur in
     each of the Canonical Gospels. Die ap. Denkw. Mart. Just.,
     p. 282; cf. Hilgenfeld, Die Ew. Justin's, p. 244.


to our Gospels. The nearest approach to it occurs in our first Gospel,
and we subjoin both passages for comparison:


It is evident that Justin's version is quite distinct from this, and
cannot have been taken from our Gospels,(2) although professedly derived
from the Memoirs of the Apostles.

Justin likewise mentions the cry of Jesus on the Cross, "O God, my God,
why hast thou forsaken me?" [--Greek--];(3) as a fulfilment of the words
of the Psalm, which he quotes here, and elsewhere,(4) with the peculiar
addition of the Septuagint version, "attend to me" [--Greek--], which,
however, he omits when giving the cry of Jesus, thereby showing that he
follows a written source which did not contain it, for the quotation of
the Psalm, and of


the cry which is cited to show that it refers to Christ, immediately
follow each other. He apparently knows nothing whatever of the Chaldaic
cry, "Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani" of the Gospels.(1) The first and second
Gospels give the words of the cry from the Chaldaic differently from
Justin, from the version of the LXX., and from each other. Matthew
xxvii. 46, [--Greek--] the third Gospel makes no mention at all of this
cry, but instead has one altogether foreign to the other Gospels:
"And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and said: Father, into thy hands I
commend my spirit: and having said this, he expired."(2) Justin has this
cry also, and in the same form as the third Gospel. He says: "For when
he (Jesus) was giving up his spirit on the cross, he said: 'Father,
into thy hands I commend my spirit,' as I have also learned from the
Memoirs."(3) Justin's Gospel, therefore, contained both cries, and as
even the first two Synoptics mention a second cry of Jesus(4) without,
however, giving the words, it is not surprising that other Gospels
should have existed which included both. Even if we had no trace of this
cry in any other ancient work, there would be no ground for asserting
that Justin must have derived it from the third Gospel, for if there
be any historical truth in the statement that these words were actually
spoken by Jesus, it follows of course that they may have been, and
probably were, reported in a dozen Christian writings now


no longer extent, and in all probability they existed in some of the
many works referred to in the prologue to the third Gospel. Both cries,
however, are given in the Gospel of Nieodemus, or Gesta Pilati, to which
reference has already so frequently been made. In the Greek versions
edited by Teschendorf we find only the form contained in Luke. In the
Codex A, the passage reads: "And crying with a loud voice, Jesus said:
Father, Baddach ephkid rouchi, that is, interpreted: 'into thy hands I
commend my spirit;' and having said this he gave up the ghost."(l) In
the Codex B, the text is: "Then Jesus having called out with a loud
voice: 'Father, into thy hands will I commend my spirit,' expired."(2)
In the ancient Latin version, however, both cries are given: "And about
the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Hely, Hely,
lama zabacthani, which interpreted is: 'My God, my God, why hast thou
forsaken me.' And after this, Jesus said: 'Father, into thy hands I
commend my spirit': and saying this, he gave up the ghost."(3)

One of the Codices of the same apocryphal work likewise gives the
taunting speeches of the Jews in a form more nearly approaching that of
Justin's Memoirs


than any found in our Gospels. "And the Jews that stood and looked
ridiculed him, and said: If thou saidst truly that thou art the Son of
God, come down from the cross, and at once, that we may believe in thee.
Others ridiculing, said: He saved others, he healed others, and restored
the sick, the paralytic, lepers, demoniacs, the blind, the lame, the
dead, and himself he cannot heal."(1) The fact that Justin actually
refers to certain Acta Pilati in connection with the Crucifixion renders
this coincidence all the more important. Other texts of this Gospel
read: "And the Chief Priests, and the rulers with them, derided him,
saying: He saved others, let him save himself; if he is the Son of God,
let him come down from the cross."(2)

It is clear from the whole of Justin's treatment of the narrative, that
he followed a Gospel adhering more closely than the Canonical to the
Psalm xxii., but yet with peculiar variations from it. Our Gospels
differ very much from each other; Justin's Memoirs of the Apostles
in like manner differed from them. It had its characteristic features
clearly and sharply defined. In this way his systematic variations are
natural and perfectly intelligible, but they become totally inexplicable
if it be supposed that, having our Gospels for his source, he thus

     2 Ev. Niood., Pars. I. A. x.; Tischendorf Ev. Apocr., p.
     232; cf. Thilo. Cod. Apocr. N. T., p. 584; Fabricius, Cod.
     Apocr. N. T., i. p. 259; Tiachendorf ib., p. 340. There are
     differences between all these texts--indeed there are
     scarcely two MSS. which agree--clearly indicating that wo
     have now nothing but corrupt versions of a more ancient


persistently and in so arbitrary a way ignored, modified, or
contradicted their statements.

Upon two occasions Justin distinctly states that the Jews sent persons
throughout the world to spread calumnies against Christians. "When you
knew that he had risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven, as the
prophets had foretold, not only did you (the Jews) not repent of the
wickedness which you had committed, but at that time you selected and
sent forth from Jerusalem throughout the land chosen men, saying that
the atheistic heresy of the Christians had arisen/' &c.(1).... "from
a certain Jesus, a Galilrean impostor, whom we crucified, but his
disciples stole him by night from the tomb where he had been laid when
he was unloosed from the cross, and they now deceive men, saying that he
has risen from the dead and ascended into heaven."(2) This circumstance
is not mentioned by our Gospels, but, reiterated twice by Justin in
almost the same words, it was in all probability contained in the
Memoirs. Eusebius quotes the passage from Justin, without comment,
evidently on account of the information which it conveyed.

These instances, which, although far from complete, have already
occupied too much of our space, show that Justin quotes from the Memoirs
of the Apostles many statements and facts of Gospel history which are
not only foreign to our Gospels, but in some cases contradictory to
them, whilst the narrative of the most solemn events in the life of
Jesus presents distinct and systematic variations from parallel passages
in the Synoptic records.


It will now be necessary to compare his general quotations from the same
Memoirs with the Canonical Gospels, and here a very wide field opens
before us. As we have already stated, Justin's works teem with these
quotations, and to take them all in detail would be impossible within
the limits of this work. Such a course, moreover, is unnecessary. It may
be broadly stated that even those who maintain the use of the Canonical
Gospels can only point out two or three passages out of this vast array
which verbally agree with them.(1) This extraordinary anomaly--on the
supposition that Justin's Memoirs were in fact our Gospels--is, as
we have mentioned, explained by the convenient hypothesis that Justin
quotes imperfectly from memory, interweaves and modifies texts, and in
short freely manipulates these Gospels according to his argument.
Even strained to the uttermost, however, could this be accepted as a
reasonable explanation of such systematic variation, that only twice or
thrice out of the vast number of his quotations does he literally agree
with passages in them? In order to illustrate the case with absolute
impartiality we shall first take the instances brought forward as
showing agreement with our Synoptic Gospels.

Teschendorf only cites two passages in support of his affirmation that
Justin makes use of our first Gospel.(2) It might be supposed that,
in selecting these, at least two might have been produced literally
agreeing, but this is


not the case, and this may be taken as an illustration of the almost
universal variation of Justin's quotations. The first of Teschendorf s
examples is the supposed use of Matthew viii. 11, 12: "Many shall come
from the east and from the west, and shall sit down," &c. [--Greek--]. Now
this passage is repeated by Justin no less than three times in three
very distinct parts of his Dialogue with Trypho,(1) with a uniform
variation from the text of Matthew--_They_ shall come from the _west_
and from the east," &c. &c. [--Greek--](2) That a historical saying of

should be reproduced in many Gospels, and that no particular work can
have any prescriptive right to it, must be admitted, so that even if the
passage in Justin agreed literally with our first Synoptic, it would
not afford any proof of the actual use of that Gospel; but when on the
contrary Justin upon three several occasions, and at distinct intervals
of time, repeats the passage with the same persistent variation from the
reading in Matthew, not only can it not be ascribed to that Gospel, but
there is reason to conclude that Justin derived it from another source.
It may be added that [--Greek--] is anything but a word uncommon in the
vocabulary of Justin, and that elsewhere, for instance, he twice quotes
a passage similar to one in Matthew, in which, amongst other variations,
he reads "_Many_ shall come [--Greek--]," instead of the phrase found in
that Gospel.(3)

The second example adduced by Tischendorf is the supposed quotation of
Matthew xii. 39; but in order fully


to comprehend the nature of the affirmation, we quote the context of the
Gospel and of Justin in parallel columns:--


Now it is clear that Justin here directly professes to quote from the
Memoirs, and consequently that accuracy may be expected; but passing
over the preliminary substitution of "some of your nation," for "certain
of the scribes and Pharisees," although it recalls the "some of them,"
and "others," by which the parallel passage, otherwise so different,
is introduced in Luke xi. 15, 16, 29 ff.,(1) the question of the Jews,
which should be literal, is quite different from that of the first
Gospel, whilst there are variations in the reply of Jesus, which, if
not so important, are still undeniable. We cannot compare with the first
Gospel the parallel passages in the second and third Gospels without
recognizing that other works may have narrated the


same episode with similar variations, and whilst the distinct
differences which exist totally exclude the affirmation that Justin
quotes from Matthew, everything points to the conclusion that he
makes use of another source. This is confirmed by another important
circumstance. After enlarging during the remainder of the chapter upon
the example of the people of Nineveh, Justin commences the next by
returning to the answer of Jesus, and making the following statement:
"And though all of your nation were acquainted with these things which
occurred to Jonah, and Christ proclaimed among you, that he would give
you the sign of Jonah, exhorting you at least after his resurrection
from the dead to repent of your evil deeds, and like the Ninevites to
supplicate God, that your nation and city might not be captured and
destroyed as it has been destroyed; yet not only have you not repented
on learning his resurrection from the dead, but as I have already
said,(1) you sent chosen(2) and select men throughout all the world,
proclaiming that an atheistic and impious heresy had arisen from a
certain Jesus, a Galilaean impostor," &c. &c.(3) Now not only do our
Gospels not mention this mission, as we have already pointed out,
but they do not contain the exhortation to repent at least after the
resurrection of Jesus here referred to, and which evidently must have
formed part of the episode in the Memoirs.

Tischendorf does not produce any other instances of supposed quotations
of Justin from Matthew, but rests his case upon these. As these are the
best examples apparently which he can point out, we may judge of the


weakness of his argument. Do Wette divides the quotations of Justin
which may be compared with our first and third Gospels into several
categories. Regarding the first class, he says: "Some agree quite
literally, which, however, is seldom: "(1) and under this head he can
only collect three passages of Matthew and refer to one of Luke. Of
the three from Matthew the first is that, viii. 11, 12,(2) also brought
forward by Teschendorf, of which we have already disposed. The second is
Matt. v. 20: "For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall
exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the
kingdom of heaven." A parallel passage to this exists in Dial. 105, a
chapter in which there are several quotations not found in our Gospels
at all, with the exception that the first words, "For I say unto you
that," are not in Justin. We shall speak of this passage presently. De
Wette's third passage is Matt. vii. 19: "Every tree that bringeth not
forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire," which, with the
exception of one word, "but," at the commencement of the sentence in
Justin, also agrees with his quotation.(3) In these two short passages
there are no peculiarities specially pointing to the first Gospel
as their source, and it cannot be too often repeated that the mere
coincidence of short historical sayings in two works by no means
warrants the conclusion that the one is dependent on the other. In
order, however, to enable the reader to form a correct estimate of the
value of the similarity of the two passages above noted, and also at the
same time to examine a considerable body of evidence, selected with


evident impartiality, we propose to take all Justin's readings of
the Sermon on the Mount, from which the above passages are taken, and
compare them with our Gospels. This should furnish a fair test of the
composition of the Memoirs of the Apostles.

Taking first, for the sake of continuity, the first Apology, we find
that Chapters xv., xvi., xvii., are composed almost entirely of examples
of what Jesus himself taught, introduced by the remark with which
Chapter xiv. closes, that: "Brief and concise sentences were uttered by
him, for he was not a sophist, but his word was the power of God."(1) It
may broadly be affirmed that, with the exception of the few words quoted
above by De Wette, not a single quotation of the words of Jesus in
these three chapters agrees with the Canonical Gospels. We shall however
confine ourselves at present to the Sermon on the Mount. We must mention
that Justin's text is quite continuous, except where we have inserted
asterisks. We subjoin Justin's quotations, together with' the parallel
passages in our Gospels, side by side, for greater facility of

     1  [--Greek--] How completely this description contradicts the
     representation of the fourth Gospel of the discourses of
     Jesus. It seems clearly to indicate that Justin had no
     knowledge of that Gospel.

     2  It need not be said that the variations between the
     quotations of Justin and the text of our Gospels must be
     looked for only in the Greek. For the sake of the reader
     unacquainted with Greok, however, we shall endeavour as far
     as possible to indicate in translation where differences
     exist, although this cannot of course be fully done, nor
     often, without being more literal than is desirable. Whore
     it is not necessary to amend the authorized version of the
     New Testament for the sake of more closely following the
     text, and marking differences from Justin, wo shall adopt
     it. We divide the quotations where desirable by initial
     letters, in order to assist reference at the end of our
     quotations from the Sermon on the Mount.



     4  Matt. v. 29, 30, it will be remembered, are repeated with
     some variation and also reversed in order, and with a
     totally different context, Matt, xviii. 8, 9. The latter
     verse, the Greek of the concluding part of which we give
     above, approximates more nearly in form to Justin's, but is
     still widely different. "And if thine eye ('right' omitted)
     offend thee pluck it out and cast it from theo; it is good
     for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having
     two eyes to be cast into hell fire." The sequence of Matt.
     v. 28, 29, points specially to it. The double occurrence of
     this passage, however, with a different context, and with
     the order reversed in Matthew, renders it almost certain
     that the two passages A. and B. were separate in the
     Memoirs. The reading of Mark ix. 47, is equally distinct
     from Justin's: And if thine eye offend thee cast it out
     [--Greek--]; it is good for thee [--Greek--] to enter into the kingdom
     of God [--Greek--] with one eye rather than having two eyes to
     be cast into hell, [--Greek--]





     1  In the first Gospel the subject breaks off at the end of
     v. 42. v. 40 may be compared with Justin's continuation, but
     it is fundamentally different. The parallel passages in Luke
     vi. 30, 34, present still greater variations. We have given
     vi. 34 above, as nearer Justin than Matt. v. 46. It will be
     remarked that to find a parallel for Justin's continuation,
     without break, of the subject, we must jump from Matt. v.
     42, 46, to vi. 19, 20.



1 This phrase, it will bo observed, is also introduced higher up in the
passage, and its repetition in such a manner, with the same variations,
emphatically demonstrates the unity of the whole quotation.

2 There is no parallel to this in the first Gospel. Matt. v. 48, is too
remote in sense as well as language.

3 The first part of v. 45 is quite different from the context in Justin:
"That ye may be sons of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh,"
&c, &c.

















We have taken the whole of Justin's quotations from the Sermon on
the Mount not only because, adopting so large a test, there can be no
suspicion that we select passages for any special purpose, but also
because, on the contrary, amongst these quotations are more of the
passages claimed as showing the use of our Gospels than any series which
could have been selected. It will have been observed that most of the
passages follow each other in unbroken sequence in Justin, for with the
exception of a short break between y and 8 the whole extract down to the
end of 0 is continuous, as indeed, after another brief interruption at
the end of i, it is again to the close of the very long and remarkable
passage k. With two exceptions, therefore, the whole of these quotations
from the Sermon on the Mount occur consecutively in two succeeding
chapters of Justin's first Apology, and one passage follows in the next
chapter. Only a single passage comes from a distant part of the dialogue
with Trypho. These passages are bound together by clear unity of idea
and context, and as, where there is a separation of sentences in his
Gospel, Justin clearly marks it by [--Greek--], there is every reason
to decide that those quotations which are continuous in form and in
argument were likewise consecutive in the Memoirs. Now the hypothesis
that these quotations are from the


Canonical Gospels requires the assumption of the fact that Justin, with
singular care, collected from distant and scattered portions of those
Gospels a series of passages in close sequence to each other, forming a
whole unknown to them but complete in itself, and yet, although this
is carefully performed, he at the same time with the most systematic
carelessness misquoted and materially altered almost every precept he
professes to cite. The order of the Canonical Gospels is as entirely set
at naught as their language is disregarded. As Hilgenfeld has pointed
out, throughout the whole of this portion of his quotations the
undeniable endeavour after accuracy, on the one hand, is in the most
glaring contradiction with the monstrous carelessness on the other, if
it be supposed that our Gospels are the source from which Justin quotes.
Nothing is more improbable than the conjecture that he made use of the
Canonical Gospels, and we must accept the conclusion that Justin quotes
with substantial correctness the expressions in the order in which he
found them in his peculiar Gospel.(1)

It is a most arbitrary proceeding to dissect a passage, quoted by Justin
as a consecutive and harmonious whole, and finding parallels more or
less approximate to its various phrases scattered up and down distant
parts of our Gospels, scarcely one of which is not materially different
from the reading of Justin, to assert that he is quoting these Gospels
freely from memory, altering, excising, combining, and interweaving
texts, and introverting their order, but nevertheless making use of them
and not of others. It is perfectly obvious that such an assertion is
nothing but the merest assumption. Our Synoptic Gospels themselves


it utterly, for precisely similar differences of order and language
exist in them and distinguish between them. Not only the language but
the order of a quotation must have its due weight, and we have no right
to dismember a passage and, discovering fragmentary parallels in various
parts of the Gospels, to assert that it is compiled from them and not
derived, as it stands, from another source.(1) As an illustration from
our Gospels, let us for a moment suppose the "Gospel according to Luke"
to have been lost, like the "Gospel according to the Hebrews" and
so many others. In the works of one of the Fathers, we discover the
following quotation from an unnamed evangelical work: "And he said unto
them [--Greek--]: The harvest truly is great but the labourers are few:
pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth
labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: [--Greek--] behold I send you
forth as lambs [--Greek--] in the midst of wolves." Following the system
adopted in regard to Justin, apologetic critics would of course maintain
that this was a compilation from memory of passages quoted freely from
our first Gospel, that is to say Matt. ix. 37. "Then saith he unto his
disciples [--Greek--] the harvest," &c, and Matt. x. 16, "Behold I
[--Greek--] send you forth as sheep [--Greek--] in the midst of wolves: be
ye therefore," &c, which, with the differences which we have indicated,
agree. It would probably be in vain

     1 For the arguments of apologetic criticism, the reader may
     be referred to Canon Westcott's work On the Canon, p. 112--
     139. Dr. Westcott does not, of course, deny the fact that
     Justin's quotations are different from the text of our
     Gospels, but he accounts for his variations ou grounds which
     seem to us purely imaginary. It is evident that, so long as
     there are such variations to be explained away, at least no
     proof of identity is possible.


to argue that the quotation indicated a continuous order, and the
variations combined to confirm the probability of a different source,
and still more so to point out that, although parts of the quotation
separated from their context might to a certain extent correspond with
scattered verses in the first Gospel, such a circumstance was no proof
that the quotation was taken from that and from no other Gospel. The
passage, however, is a literal quotation from Luke x. 2, 3, which, as we
have assumed, had been lost.

Again, still supposing the third Gospel no longer extant, we might
find the following quotation in a work of the Fathers: "Take heed to
yourselves [--Greek--] of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy

For there is nothing covered up [--Greek--] which shall not be revealed,
and hid which shall not be known." It would of course be affirmed that
this was evidently a combination of two verses of our first Gospel
quoted almost literally, with merely a few very immaterial slips
of memory in the parts we note, and the explanatory words "which is
hypocrisy" introduced by the Father, and not a part of the quotation at
all. The two verses are Matt. xvi. 6: "Beware and [--Greek--] take heed of
the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees" [--Greek--] and Matt. x. 26

.... "For [--Greek--] there is nothing covered [--Greek--] that shall not be
revealed, and hid that shall not be known." The sentence would in
fact be divided as in the case of Justin, and each part would have its
parallel pointed out in separate portions of the Gospel. How wrong such
a system is--and it is precisely that which is adopted with regard to
Justin--is clearly established by the fact that the quotation,


instead of being such a combination, is simply taken from the Gospel
according to Luke xii. 1, 2, as it stands. To give one more example, and
such might easily be multiplied, if our second Gospel had been lost, and
the following passage were met with in one of the Fathers without its
source being indicated, what would be the argument of those who insist
that Justin's quotations, though differing from our Gospels, were yet
taken from them? "If any one have [--Greek--] ears to hear let him hear.
And he said unto them: Take heed what [--Greek--] ye hear: with what
measure ye mete it shall be measured to you: and more shall be given
unto you. For he [--Greek--] that hath to him shall be given, and he
[--Greek--] that hath not from him shall be taken even that which he hath."
Upon the principle on which Justin's quotations are treated, it would
certainly be affirmed positively that this passage was a quotation
from our first and third Gospels combined and made from memory. The
exigencies of the occasion might probably cause the assertion to be made
that the words: "And he said to them," really indicated a separation of
the latter part of the quotation from the preceding, and that the Father
thus showed that the passage was not consecutive; and as to the phrase:
"and more shall be given unto you," that it was evidently an addition
of the Father. The passage would be dissected, and its different
members compared with scattered sentences, and declared almost literal
quotations from the Canonical Gospels: Matt. xiii. 0. He that hath
[--Greek--] ears to hear let him hear."(l) Luke viii. 18, "Take heed
therefore how [--Greek--] ye hear." Matt. vii. 2... "with what measure ye


mete it shall be measured to you."(1) Matt. xiii. 12: "For whosoever
[--Greek--] hath, to him shall be given (and he shall have abundance); but
whosoever [--Greek--] hath not from him shall be taken even that which he
hath." a In spite of these ingenious assertions, however, the quotation
in reality is literally and consecutively taken from Mark iv. 23--25.

These examples may suffice to show that any argument which commences
by the assumption that the order of a passage quoted may be entirely
disregarded, and that it is sufficient to find parallels scattered
irregularly up and down the Gospels to warrant the conclusion that the
passage is compiled from them, and is not a consecutive quotation from
some other source, is utterly unfounded and untenable. The supposition
of a lost Gospel which has just been made to illustrate this argument
is, however, not a mere supposition as applied to Justin but a fact, for
we no longer have the Gospel according to Peter nor that according to
the Hebrews, not to mention the numerous other works in use in the early
Church. The instances we have given show the importance of the order as
well as the language of Justin's quotations, and while they prove the
impossibility of demonstrating that a consecutive passage which differs
not only in language but in order from the parallels in our Gospels
must be derived from them, they likewise prove the probability that such
passages are actually quoted from a different source.

If we examine further, however, in the same way, quotations which differ
merely in language, we arrive at the very same conclusion. Supposing the
third Gospel to be lost, what would be the source assigned to the


following quotation from an unnamed Gospel in the work of one of the
Fathers? "No servant [--Greek--] can serve two lords, for either he will
hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one
and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." Of course the
passage would be claimed as a quotation from memory of Matt. vi. 24,
with which it perfectly corresponds with the exception of the addition
of the second word [--Greek--], which, it would no doubt be argued, is an
evident and very natural amplification of the simple [--Greek--] of the
first Gospel. Yet this passage, only differing by the single word from
Matthew, is a literal quotation from the Gospel according to Luke xvi.
13. Or, to take another instance, supposing the third Gospel to be lost,
and the following passage quoted, from an unnamed source, by one of the
Fathers: "Beware [--Greek--] of the Scribes which desire to walk in long
robes, and love [--Greek--] greetings in the markets, and chief seats in
the synagogues and uppermost places at feasts; which devour widows(1)
houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive
greater damnation." This would without hesitation be declared a
quotation from memory of Mark xii..38-40 ".... Beware [--Greek--] of the
Scribes which desire to walk in long robes and greetings in the markets,
and chief seats in the synagogues and uppermost places at feasts: which
devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall
receive," &c. It is however a literal quotation of Luke xx. 46, 47;
yet probably it would be in vain to submit to apologetic critics that
possibly, not to say probably, the passage was not derived from Mark but
from a lost Gospel. To quote one more instance, let us


suppose the "Gospel according to Mark" no longer extant, and that in
some early work there existed the following quotation: "It is easier for
a camel to go through the eye [--Greek--] of a needle, than for a rich man
to enter into the kingdom of God." This would of course be claimed as a
quotation from memory of Matt. xix. 24,(1) with which it agrees with the
exception of the substitution of [--Greek--] for the [--Greek--]. It would not
the less have been an exact quotation from Mark x. 25.(2)

We have repeatedly pointed out that the actual agreement of any saying
of Jesus, quoted by one of the early Fathers from an unnamed source,
with a passage in our Gospels is by no means conclusive evidence that
the quotation was actually derived from that Gospel. It must be apparent
that literal agreement in reporting short and important sayings is not
in itself so surprising as to constitute proof that, occurring in two
histories, the one must have copied from the other. The only thing which
is surprising is that such frequent inaccuracy should occur. When we
add, however, the fact that most of the larger early evangelical works,
including our Synoptic Gospels, must have been compiled out of the same
original sources, and have been largely indebted to each other, the
common possession of such sayings becomes


a matter of natural occurrence. Moreover, it must be admitted even by
apologetic critics that, in a case of such vast importance as the
report of sayings of Jesus, upon the verbal accuracy of which the most
essential doctrines of Christianity depend, it cannot be considered
strange if various Gospels report the same saying in the same words.
Practically, the Synoptic Gospels differ in their reports a great deal
more than is right or desirable; but we may take them as an illustration
of the fact, that identity of passages, where the source is unnamed, by
no means proves that such passages in a work of the early Fathers were
derived from one Gospel, and not from any other. Let us suppose our
first Gospel to have been lost, and the following quotation from an
unnamed source to be found in an early work: "Every tree that bringeth
not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." This being
in literal agreement with Luke iii. 9, would certainly be declared by
modern apologists conclusive proof that the Father was acquainted with
that Gospel, and although the context in the work of the Father might
for instance be: "Ye shall know them from their works, and every tree,"
&c, &c, and yet in the third Gospel, the context is: "And now also, the
axe is laid unto the root of the trees: and every tree," &c, that would
by no means give them pause. The explanation of combination of texts,
and quotation from memory, is sufficiently elastic for every emergency.
Now the words in question might in reality be a quotation from the lost
Gospel according to Matthew, in which they twice occur, so that here is
a passage which is literally repeated three times, Matthew iii. 10, vii.
19, and Luke iii 9. In Matthew iii. 10, and in the third Gospel, the
words are part of a saying of John the


Baptist; whilst in Matthew vii. 19, they are given as part of the Sermon
on the Mount, with a different context, This passage is actually quoted
by Justin (k 8), with the context: "Ye shall know them from their
works," which is different from that in any of the three places in which
the words occur in our synoptics and, on the grounds we have clearly
established, it cannot be considered in any case as necessarily a
quotation from our Gospels, but, on the contrary, there are good reasons
for the very opposite conclusion.

Another illustration of this may be given, by supposing the Gospel of
Luke to be no longer extant, and the following sentence in one of the
Fathers: "And ye shall be hated by all men, for my name's sake." These
very words occur both in Matthew x. 22, and Mark xiii. 13, in both of
which places there follow the words: "but he that endureth to the end,
the same shall be saved." There might here have been a doubt, as to
whether the Father derived the words from the first or second Gospel,
but they would have been ascribed either to the one or to the other,
whilst in reality they were taken from a different work altogether, Luke
xxi. 17. Here again, we have the same words in three Gospels. In how
many more may not the same passage have been found? One more instance to
conclude. The following passage might be quoted from an unnamed source
by one of the Fathers: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words
shall not pass away." If the Gospel according to Mark were no longer
extant, this would be claimed as a quotation either from Matthew xxiv.
35, or Luke xxi. 33, in both of which it occurs, but, notwithstanding,
the Father might not have been acquainted with either of them, and
simply have quoted from Mark


xiii. 31.1 And here again, the three Gospels contain the same passage
without variation.

Now in all these cases, not only is the selection of the Gospel from
which the quotation was actually taken completely an open question,
since they all have it, but still more is the point uncertain, when
it is considered that many other works may also have contained it,
historical sayings being naturally common property. Does the agreement
of the quotation with a passage which is equally found in the three
Gospels prove the existence of all of them? and if not, how is the
Gospel from which it was actually taken to be distinguished? If it be
difficult to do so, how much more when the possibility and probability,
demonstrated by the agreement of the three extant, that it might have
formed part of a dozen other works is taken into account In the case
of Justin, it is simply absurd and unreasonable, in the face of his
persistent variation from our Gospels, to assert positively that his
quotations are derived from them.

It must have been apparent to all that, throughout his quotation from
the "Sermon on the Mount," Justin follows an order which is quite
different from that in our Synoptic Gospels, and as might have been
expected, the inference of a different source, which is naturally
suggested by this variation in order, is more than confirmed by
persistent and continuous variation in language. If it be true, that
examples of confusion of quotation are to be found in the works of
Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and other Fathers, it must at the same
time be remembered, that these are quite exceptional, and we are


scarcely in a position to judge how far confusion of memory may not
have arisen from reminiscences of other forms of evangelical expressions
occurring in apocryphal works, with which we know the Fathers to have
been well acquainted. The most vehement asserter of the identity of
the Memoirs with our Gospels, however, must absolutely admit as a fact,
explain it as he may, that variation from our Gospel readings is the
general rule in Justin's quotations, and agreement with them the very
rare exception.1 Now, such a phenomenon is elsewhere unparalleled in
those times, when memory was more cultivated than with us in these days
of cheap printed books, and it is unreasonable to charge Justin with
such universal want of memory and carelessness about matters which
he held so sacred, merely to support a foregone conclusion, when the
recognition of a difference of source, indicated in every direction,
is so much more simple, natural, and justifiable. It is argued that
Justin's quotations from the Old Testament likewise present constant
variation from the text. This is true to a considerable extent, but they
are not so persistently inaccurate as the quotations we are examining,
supposing them to be derived from our Gospels. This pica, however, is of
no avail, for it is obvious that the employment of the Old Testament
is not established merely by inaccurate citations; and it is quite
undeniable that the use of certain historical documents out of many of
closely similar, and in many parts probably identical, character cannot
be proved by anonymous quotations differing from anything actually in
these documents.

There are very many of the quotations of Justin which bear unmistakable
marks of exactness and verbal


accuracy, but which yet differ materially from our Gospels, and most
of his quotations from the Sermon on the Mount are of this kind. For
instance, Justin introduces the passages which we have marked a, b, c,
with the words: "He (Jesus) spoke thus of Chastity,"(l) and after giving
the quotations, a, b, and c, the first two of which, although finding
a parallel in two consecutive verses, Matthew v. 28, 29, are divided by
the separating [--Greek--], and therefore do not appear to have been
united in his Gospel, Justin continues: "Just as even those who with the
sanction of human law contract a second marriage are sinners in the eye
of our Master, so also are those who look upon a woman to lust after
her. For not only he who actually commits adultery is rejected by him,
but also he who desires to commit adultery, since not our acts alone are
open before God, but also our thoughts."(2) Now it is perfectly clear
that Justin here professes to give the actual words of Jesus, and then
moralizes upon them; and both the quotation and his own subsequent
paraphrase of it lose all their significance, if we suppose that Justin
did not correctly quote in the first instance, but actually commences
by altering the text.(3) These passages a, b, and c, however, have all
marked and characteristic variations from the Gospel text, but as we
have already shown, there is no reason for asserting that they are not
accurate verbal quotations from another Gospel.


The passage 8 is likewise a professed quotation,(1) but not only does it
differ in language, but it presents deliberate transpositions in order
which clearly indicate that Justin's source was not our Gospels. The
nearest parallels in our Gospels are found in Matthew v. 46, followed by
44. The same remarks apply to the next passage €, which is introduced as
a distinct quotation,(2) but which, like the rest, differs materially,
linguistically and in order, from the canonical Gospels. The whole
of the passage is consecutive, and excludes the explanation of a mere
patchwork of passages loosely put together, and very imperfectly quoted
from memory. Justin states that Jesus taught that we should communicate
to those who need, and do nothing for vain glory, and he then gives the
very words of Jesus in an unbroken and clearly continuous discourse.
Christians are to give to all who ask, and not merely to those from
whom they hope to receive again, which would be no new thing--even the
publicans do that; but Christians must do more. They are not to lay up
riches on earth, but in heaven, for it would not profit a man to gain
the whole world, and lose his soul; therefore, the Teacher a second
time repeats the injunction that Christians should lay up treasures
in heaven. If the unity of thought which binds this passage so closely
together were not sufficient to prove that it stood in Justin's Gospel
in the form and order in which he quotes it, the requisite evidence
would be supplied by the repetition at its close of the injunction: "Lay
up, therefore, in the heavens," &c. It is impossible that Justin should,
through defect of memory, quote a second time in so short a passage the
same injunction, if the passage were not thus appropriately terminated


his Gospel. The common sense of the reader must at once perceive that
it is impossible that Justin, professedly quoting words of Jesus, should
thus deliberately fabricate a discourse rounded off by the repetition
of one of its opening admonitions, with the addition of an argumentative
"therefore." He must have found it so in the Gospel from which he
quotes. Nothing indeed but the difficulty of explaining the marked
variations presented by this passage, on the supposition that Justin
must quote from our Gospels, could lead apologists to insinuate such a
process of compilation, or question the consecutive character of
this passage. The nearest parallels to the dismembered parts of this
quotation, presenting everywhere serious variations, however, can only
be found in the following passages in the order in which we cite
them, Matthew v. 42, Luke vi. 34, Matthew vi. 19, 20, xvi. 26, and a
repetition of part of vi. 20, with variations. Moreover, the expression:
"What new thing do ye?" is quite peculiar to Justin. We have already
met with it in the preceding section 8. "If ye love them which love you,
what _new_ thing do ye? for even," &c. Here, in the same verse, we have:
"If ye lend to them from whom ye hope to receive, what _new_ thing
do ye? for even," &c. It is evident, both from its repetition and its
distinct dogmatic view of Christianity as a new teaching in contrast to
the old, that this variation cannot have been the result of defective
memory, but must have been the reading of the Memoirs, and, in all
probability, it was the original form of the teaching. Such antithetical
treatment is clearly indicated in many parts of the Sermon on the Mount:
for instance, Matthew v. 21, "Ye have heard that it hath been said _by
them of old_.... but _I_ say unto you,' &c, cf. v. 33, 38, 43. It is
certain that


the whole of the quotation E differs very materially from our Gospels,
and there is every reason to believe that not only was the passage
not derived from them, but that it was contained in the Memoirs of the
Apostles substantially in the form and order in which Justin quotes

The next passage (f)(2) is separated from the preceding merely by the
usual [--Greek--] and it moves on to its close with the same continuity of
thought and the same peculiarities of construction which characterize
that which we have just considered. Christians are to be kind and
merciful [--Greek--] to all as their Father is, who makes his sun to shine
alike on the good and evil, and they need not be anxious about their own
temporal necessities: what they shall eat and what put on; are they not
better than the birds and beasts whom God feedeth? therefore, they are
not to be careful about what they are to eat and what put on, for their
heavenly Father knows they have need of these things; but they are to
seek the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added: for
where the treasure is--the thing he seeks and is careful about--there
will also be the mind of the man. In fact, the passage is a suitable
continuation of c, inculcating, like it, abstraction from worldly cares
and thoughts in reliance on the heavenly Father, and the mere fact that
a separation is made where it is between the two passages c and £ shows
further that each of those passages was complete in itself. There is
absolutely no reason for the separating /cat, if these passages were a
mere combination of scattered verses. This quotation, however, which is
so consecutive in Justin, can only find distant parallels in passages
widely divided throughout the Synoptic


Gospels, which have to be arranged in the following order: Luke vi. 36,
Matt. v. 45, vi. 25, 26, 31, 32, 33, vi. 21, the whole of which present
striking differences from Justin's quotation. The repetition of the
injunction "be not careful" again with the illative "therefore" is quite
in the spirit of E. This admonition: "Therefore, be not careful," &c, is
reiterated no less than three times in the first Gospel (vi 25, 31, 34),
and confirms the characteristic repetition of Justin's Gospel, which
seems to have held a middle course between Matthew and Luke, the latter
of which does not repeat the phrase, although the injunction is made a
second time in more direct terms. The repetition of the passage: "Be
ye kind and merciful," &c, in Dial. 96, with the same context and
peculiarities, is a remarkable confirmation of the natural conclusion
that Justin quotes the passage from a Gospel different from ours. The
expression [--Greek--] thrice repeated by Justin himself, and supported
by a similar duplication in the Clementine Homilies (iii. 57)(1) cannot
possibly be an accidental departure from our Gospels.(2) For the rest it
is undeniable that the whole passage £ differs materially both in
order and language from our Gospels, from which it cannot without
unwarrantable assumption be maintained to have been taken either
collectively or in detail, and strong internal reasons lead us to
conclude that it is quoted substantially as it stands from Justin's


Gospel, which must have been different from our Synoptics.(1)

In 6 again, we have an express quotation introduced by the words: "And
regarding our being patient under injuries and ready to help all, and
free from anger, this is what he said;" and then he proceeds to give
the actual words.(2) At the close of the quotation he continues: "For
we ought not to strive, neither would he have us be imitators of the
wicked, but he has exhorted us by patience and gentleness to lead men
from shame and the love of evil," &c., &c.(3) It is evident that these
observations, which are a mere paraphrase of the text, indicate that the
quotation itself is deliberate and precise. Justin professes first to
quote the actual teaching of Jesus, and then makes his own comments; but
if it be assumed that he began by concocting out of stray texts, altered
to suit his purpose, a continuous discourse, the subsequent observations
seem singularly useless and out of place. Although the passage forms
a consecutive and harmonious discourse, the nearest parallels in our
Gospels can only be found by uniting parts of the following scattered
verses: Matthew v. 39, 40, 22, 41, 16. The Christian who is struck on
one cheek is to turn the other, and not to resist those who would take
away his cloak or coat; but if, on the contrary, he be angry, he is in
danger of fire; if, then, he be compelled to go one mile, let him show
his gentleness by going two, and thus let his good works shine before
men that, seeing them, they may adore his Father which is in heaven. It
is evident that the last two sentences, which find their parallels in
Matt by putting v. 16 after 41, the former verse having


quite a different context in the Gospel, must have so followed each
other in Justin's text. His purpose is to quote the teaching of Jesus,
"regarding our being patient under injuries, and ready to help all and
free from anger," but his quotation of "Let your good works shine
before men," &c, has no direct reference to his subject, and it cannot
reasonably be supposed that Justin would have selected it from a
separate part of the Gospel. Coming as it no doubt did in his Memoirs in
the order in which he quotes it, it is quite appropriate to his purpose.
It is difficult, for instance, to imagine why Justin further omitted the
injunction in the parallel passage, Matthew v. 39, "that ye resist not
evil," when supposed to quote the rest of the verse, since his express
object is to show that "we ought not to strive," &c. The whole quotation
presents the same characteristics as those which we have already
examined, and in its continuity of thought and wide variation from the
parallels in our Gospels, both in order and language, we must recognize
a different and peculiar source.(1)

The passage i, again, is professedly a literal quotation, for Justin
prefaces it with the words: "And regarding our not swearing at all,
but ever speaking the truth, he taught thus;" and having in these words
actually stated what Jesus did teach, he proceeds to quote his very
words.(2) In the quotation there is a clear departure from our Gospel,
arising, not from accidental failure-of memory, but from difference of
source. The parallel passages in our Gospels, so far as they exist at
all, can only be found by taking part of Matthew v. 34 and joining it to
v. 37, omitting the intermediate verses. The quotation in the


Epistle of James v. 12, which is evidently derived from a source
different from Matthew, supports the reading of Justin. This, with the
passage twice repeated in the Clementine Homilies in agreement with
Justin, and, it may be added, the peculiar version found in early
ecclesiastical writings,(1) all tend to confirm the belief that there
existed a more ancient form of the injunction which Justin no doubt
found in his Memoirs.(2) The precept, terse, simple, and direct, as it
is here, is much more in accordance with Justin's own description of
the teaching of Jesus, as he evidently found it in his Gospel, than
the diffused version contained in the first Gospel, v. 33--37. Another
remarkable and characteristic illustration of the peculiarity of
Justin's Memoirs is presented by the long passage k, which is also
throughout consecutive and bound together by clear unity of thought.(3)
It is presented with the context: "For not those who merely make
professions but those who do the works, as he (Jesus) said, shall be
saved. For he spake thus." It does not, therefore, seem possible to
indicate more clearly the deliberate intention to quote the exact
expressions of Jesus, and yet not only do we find material difference
from the language in the parallel passages in our Gospels, but those
parallels, such as they are, can only be made by patching together the
following verses in the order in


which we give them: Matt. vii. 21, Luke x. 16, Matt. vii. 22, 23, xiii.
42, 43, vii. 15, part of 16, 19. It will be remarked that the passage (k
2) Luke x. 16, is thrust in between two consecutive verses in Matthew,
and taken from a totally different context as the nearest parallel to
k 2 of Justin, although it is widely different from it, omitting
altogether the most important words: "and doeth what I say." The
repetition of the same phrase: "He that heareth me heareth him that sent
me," in Apol. I, 63,(1) makes it certain that Justin accurately quotes
his Gospel, whilst the omission of the words in that place: "and
doeth what I say," evidently proceeds from the fact that they are an
interruption of the phrase for which Justin makes the quotation, namely,
to prove that Jesus is sent forth to reveal the Father.(2) It may be
well to compare Justin's passage, k 1--4, with one occurring in the
so-called Second Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, iv. "Let us not,
therefore, only call him Lord, for that will not save us. For he saith:
'Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall be saved, but he that
worketh righteousness.'... the Lord said: 'If ye be with me gathered
together in my bosom, and do not my commandments, I will cast you off
and say to you: Depart from me; I know you not, whence you are, workers
of iniquity.'"(3) The expression [--Greek--] here strongly recalls the
reading of Justin.(4) This passage, which is foreign to


our Gospels, at least shows the existence of others containing parallel
discourses with distinct variations. Some of the quotations in this
spurious Epistle are stated to be taken from the "Gospel according to
the Egyptians,"(1) which was in all probability a version of the Gospel
according to the Hebrews.(2) The variations which occur in Justin's
repetition, in Dial 76, of his quotation k 3 are not important, because
the more weighty departure from the Gospel in the words "did we not eat
and drink in thy name," [--Greek--] is deliberately repeated,(3) and if,
therefore, there be freedom of quotation it is free quotation not from
the canonical, but from a different Gospel.(4) Origen's quotation(5)
does not affect this conclusion, for the repetition of the phrase
[--Greek--] has the form of the Gospel, and besides, which is much more
important, we know that Origen was well acquainted with the Gospel
according to the Hebrews and other apocryphal works from which this may
have been a reminiscence.(6) We must add, moreover, that the passage
in Dial 76 appears in connection with others widely differing from our
Gospels. The passage k 5 not only materially varies from the parallel in
Matt. xiii. 42, 43 in language but in connection of ideas.(7) Here also,
upon examination, we must conclude that Justin quotes from a source
different from our


Gospels, and moreover, that his Gospel gives with greater correctness
the original form of the passage.(1) The weeping and gnashing of teeth
are distinctly represented as the consequence when the wicked see the
bliss of the righteous while they are sent into everlasting fire, and
not as the mere characteristics of hell. It will be observed that the
preceding passages k 3 and 4, find parallels to a certain extent in
Matt. vii. 22,23, although Luke xiii. 26, 27, is in some respects
closer to the reading of Justin k 5, however, finds no continuation
of parallel in Matt, vii., from which the context comes, but we have to
seek it in xiii. 42, 43. K 5, however, does find its continuing parallel
in the next verse in Luke xiii. 28, where we have "There shall be (the)
weeping and (the) gnashing of teeth when ye shall see Abraham," &c There
is here, it is evident, the connection of ideas which is totally
lacking in Matt. xiii. 42, 43, where the verses in question occur as the
conclusion to the exposition of the Parable of the Tares. Now, although
it is manifest that Luke xiii. 28, cannot possibly have been the source
from which Justin quotes, still the opening words and the sequence of
ideas demonstrate the great probability that other Gospels must have
given, after k 4, a continuation which is wanting after Matt. vii. 23,
but which is indicated in the parallel Luke xiii. (26, 27) 28, and is
somewhat closely followed in Matt. xiii. 42, 43. When such a sequence is
found in an avowed quotation from Justin's Gospel, it is certain that
he must have found it there substantially as he quotes it. The passage
k 6,(2) "For many shall arrive," &c, is a very important one, and it


emphatically from the parallel in our first Gospel. Instead of being,
like the latter, a warning against false prophets, it is merely the
announcement that many deceivers shall come. This passage is rendered
more weighty by the fact that Justin repeats it with little variation
in Dial. 35, and immediately after quotes a saying of Jesus of only five
words which is not found in our Gospels, and then he repeats a
quotation to the same effect in the shape of a warning: "Beware of
false prophets," &c, like that in Matt. vii. 15, but still distinctly
differing from it.(1) It is perfectly clear that Justin quotes two separate
passages.(2) It is impossible that he could intend to repeat the same
quotation at an interval of only five words; it is equally impossible
that, having quoted it in the one form, he could so immediately quote
it in the other through error of memory.(3) The simple and very natural
conclusion is that he found both passages in his Gospel. The object for
which he quotes would more than justify the quotation of both passages,
the one referring to the many false Christians and the other to the
false prophets of whom he is speaking. That two passages so closely
related should be found in the same Gospel is not in the least singular.
There are numerous instances of the same in our Synoptics.(4) The actual
facts of the case then are these: Justin quotes in the Dialogue, with
the same marked deviations from the


parallel in the Gospel, a passage quoted by him m the Apology, and after
an interval of only five words he quotes a second passage to the same
effect, though with very palpable difference in its character, which
likewise differs from the Gospel, in company with other texts which
still less find any parallels in the canonical Gospels. The two
passages, by their differences, distinguish each other as separate,
whilst, by their agreement in common variations from the parallel in
Matthew, they declare their common origin from a special Gospel, a
result still further made manifest by the agreement between the first
passage in the Dialogue and the quotations in the Apology. In k 7,(1)
Justin's Gospel substitutes [--Greek--] for [--Greek--], and is quite in the
spirit of the passage O, "Ye shall know them from their _works_" is
the natural reading. The Gospel version clearly introduces "fruit"
prematurely, and weakens the force of the contrast which follows. It
will be observed, moreover, that in order to find a parallel to Justin's
passage k 7, 8, only the first part of Matt. vii. 16, is taken, and
the thread is only caught again at vii. 19, k 8 being one of the two
passages indicated by de Wette which we are considering, and it agrees
with Matt. vii. 19, with the exception of the single word [--Greek--]. We
must again point out, however, that this passage in Matt. vii. 19, is
repeated no less than three times in our Gospels, a second time in Matt
iii. 10, and once in Luke iii. 19. Upon two occasions it is placed
in the mouth of John the Baptist, and forms the second portion of a
sentence the whole of which is found in literal agreement both in Matt.
iii. 10, and Luke iii. 9, "But now the axe is laid unto the root of the
trees, therefore every tree," &c, &c.


The passage pointed out by de Wette as the parallel to Justin's
anonymous quotation, Matt. vii. 19--a selection which is of course
obligatory from the context--is itself a mere quotation by Jesus of part
of the saying of the Baptist, presenting, therefore, double probability
of being well known; and as we have three instances of its literal
reproduction in the Synoptics, it would indeed be arbitrary to affirm
that it was not likewise given literally in other Gospels.

The passage X(1) is very emphatically given as a literal quotation of
the words of Jesus, for Justin cites it directly to authenticate his own
statements of Christian belief He says: "But if you disregard us both
when we entreat, and when we set all things openly before you, we shall
not suffer loss, believing, or rather being fully persuaded, that every
one will be punished by eternal fire according to the desert of his
deeds, and in proportion to the faculties which he received from God
will his account be required, as Christ declared when he said: To whom
God gave more, of him shall more also be demanded again." This quotation
has no parallel in the first Gospel, but we add it here as part of the
Sermon on the Mount. The passage in Luke xii. 48, it will be perceived,
presents distinct variation from it, and that Gospel cannot for a moment
be maintained as the source of Justin's quotation.

The last passage, ft,2 is one of those advanced by de Wette which led to
this examination.(3) It is likewise clearly a quotation, but as we have
already shown, its agreement with Matt v. 20, is no evidence that it
was actually derived from that Gospel. Occurring as it does as one
of numerous quotations from the Sermon on the Mount, whose general
variation both in order and


language from the parallels in our Gospel points to the inevitable
conclusion that Justin derived them from a different source, there is no
reason for supposing that this sentence also did not come from the same

No one who has attentively considered the whole of these passages from
the Sermon on the Mount, and still less those who are aware of the
general rule of variation in his mass of quotations as compared with
parallels in our Gospels, can fail to be struck by the systematic
departure from the order and language of the Synoptics. The hypothesis
that they are quotations from our Gospels involves the accusation
against Justin of an amount of carelessness and negligence which is
quite unparalleled in literature. Justin's character and training,
however, by. no means warrant any such aspersion,(1) and there are no
grounds for it. Indeed, but for the attempt arbitrarily to establish
the identity of the "Memoirs of the Apostles" with our Gospels, such a
charge would never have been thought of. It is unreasonable to suppose
that avowed and deliberate quotations of sayings of Jesus, made for
the express purpose of furnishing authentic written proof of Justin's
statements regarding Christianity, can as an almost invariable rule
be so singularly incorrect, more especially when it is considered
that these quotations occur in an elaborate apology for Christianity
addressed to the Roman emperors, and in a careful and studied
controversy with a Jew in defence of the new faith. The simple and
natural conclusion, supported by many strong reasons, is that Justin
derived his quotations from a Gospel which was different from ours,
although naturally by subject and design it must have been related to
them. His


Gospel, in fact, differs from our Synoptics as they differ from each

We now return to Tischendorf's statements with regard to Justin's
acquaintance with our Gospels. Having examined the supposed references
to the first Gospel, we find that Tischendorf speaks much less
positively with regard to his knowledge of the other two Synoptics. He
says: "There is the greatest probability that in several passages he
also follows Mark and Luke."(1) First taking Mark, we find that the only
example which Tischendorf gives is the following. He says: "Twice (Dial.
76 and 100) he quotes as an expression of the Lord: 'The Son of Man must
suffer many things, and be rejected by the Scribes and Pharisees (Ch.
100 by the 'Pharisees and Scribes'), and be crucified and the third day
rise again.'(2) This agrees better with Mark viii. 31 and Luke ix. 22
than with Matt. xvi. 21, only in Justin the 'Pharisees' are put instead
of the 'Elders and Chief Priests' (so Matthew, Mark, and Luke), likewise
'be crucified' instead of 'be killed."'(3) This is the only instance of
similarity with Mark that Tischendorf can produce, and we have given his
own remarks to show how thoroughly weak his case is. The passage in Mark
viii. 31, reads: "And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must
suffer many things, and be rejected by the Elders and the Chief Priests
[--Greek--], and the Scribes and be killed [--Greek--], and after three days


rise again." And the following is the reading of Luke ix. 22: "Saying
that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the
Elders and Chief Priests [--Greek--] and Scribes and be killed [--Greek--],
and the third day rise again." It will be perceived that, different
as it also is, the passage in Luke is nearer than that of Mark,
which cannot in any case have been the source of Justin's quotation.
Tischendorf, however, does not point out that Justin, elsewhere, a third
time refers to this very passage in the very same terms. He says: "And
Christ.... having come.... and himself also preached, saying.... that he
must suffer many things from the Scribes and Pharisees and be crucified,
and the third day rise again."(l) Although this omits the words "and be
rejected," it gives the whole of the passage literally as before. And
thus there is the very remarkable testimony of a quotation three times
repeated, with the same marked variations from our Gospels, to show
that Justin found those very words in his Memoirs.(2) The persistent
variation clearly indicates a different source from our Synoptics. We
may, in reference to this reading, compare Luke xxiv. 6: "He is not
here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in
Galilee (v. 7), saying that the Son of Man must be delivered up into the
hands of sinful men, _and be crucified_, and the third day rise again."
This reference to words of Jesus, in which the words [--Greek--]. occurred,
as in Justin, indicates that although our Gospels do not contain it some
others may well have


done so. In one place Justin introduces the saying with the following
words: "For he exclaimed before the crucifixion, the Son of Man,"
&c.,(1) both indicating a time for the discourse, and also quoting a
distinct and definite saying in contradistinction to this report of the
matter of his teaching, which is the form in which the parallel passage
occurs in the Gospels. In Justin's Memoirs it no doubt existed as an
actual discourse of Jesus, which he verbally and accurately quoted.

With regard to the third Gospel, Tischendorf says: "It is in reference
to Luke (xxii. 44) that Justin recalls in the Dialogue (103) the falling
drops of the sweat of agony on the Mount of Olives, and certainly with
an express appeal to the 'Memoirs composed by his Apostles and their
followers,'"(2) Now we have already seen(3) that Justin, in the passage
referred to, does not make use of the peculiar expression which gives
the whole of its character to the account in Luke, and that there is
no ground for affirming that Justin derived his information from that
Gospel. The only other reference to passages proving the "probability"
of Justin's use of Luke or Mark is that which we have just
discussed--"The Son of Man must," &c. From this the character of
Tischendorf's assumptions may be inferred. De Wette does not advance
any instances of verbal agreement either with Mark or Luke.(4) He
says, moreover: "The historical references are much freer still (than
quotations), and combine in part


the accounts of Matthew and Luke; some of the kind, however, are
not found at all in our Canonical Gospels."(1) This we have already
sufficiently demonstrated.

We might now well terminate the examination of Justin's quotations,
which has already taken up too much of our space, but before doing so it
may be well very briefly to refer to another point. In his work "On the
Canon," Dr. Westcott adopts a somewhat singular course. He evidently
feels the very great difficulty in which anyone who asserts the identity
of the source of Justin's quotations with our Gospels is placed by the
fact that, as a rule, these quotations differ from parallel passages in
our Gospels; and whilst on the one hand maintaining that the quotations
generally are from the Canonical Gospels, he on the other endeavours
to reduce the number of those which profess to be quotations at all. He
says: "To examine in detail the whole of Justin's quotations would be
tedious and unnecessary. It will be enough to examine (1) those which
are alleged by him as quotations, and (2) those also which, though
anonymous, are yet found repeated with the same variations either in
Justin's own writings, or (3) in heretical works. It is evidently
on these quotations that the decision hangs."(2) Now under the first
category Dr. Westcott finds very few. He says: "In seven passages only,
as far as I can discover, does Justin profess to give the exact words
recorded in the Memoirs; and in these, if there be no reason to the
contrary, it is natural to expect that he will preserve the exact
language of the Gospels which he used, just as in anonymous quotations
we may conclude that he is trusting to memory."(3)


Before proceeding further, we may point out the straits to which an
apologist is reduced who starts with a foregone conclusion. We have
already seen a number of Justin's professed quotations; but here, after
reducing the number to seven only, our critic prepares a way of escape
even out of these. It is difficult to understand what "reason to the
contrary" can possibly justify a man "who professes to give the exact
words recorded in the Memoirs" for not doing what he professes; and
further, it passes our comprehension to understand why, in anonymous
quotations, "we may conclude that he is trusting to memory." The
cautious exception is as untenable as the gratuitous assumption.
Dr. Westcott continues as follows the passage which we have just
interrupted:--"The result of a first view of the passages is striking.
Of the seven, five agree verbally with the text of St. Matthew or St.
Luke, _exhibiting indeed three slight various readings not elsewhere
found, but such as are easily explicable_; the sixth is a _compound
summary_ of words related by St. Matthew; the seventh alone _presents
an important variation in the text of a verse_, which is, however,
otherwise very uncertain."(1) The italics of course are ours. The "first
view" of the passages and of the above statement is indeed striking.
It is remarkable how easily difficulties are overcome under such an
apologetic system. The striking result, to summarize Canon Westcott's
own words, is this: out of seven professed quotations from the Memoirs,
in which he admits we may expect to find the exact language preserved,
five present three variations; one is a compressed summary, and does not
agree verbally at all; and the seventh presents an important variation.


Westcott, on the same easy system, continues: "Our inquiry is thus
confined to the two last instances; and it must be seen whether their
disagreement from the Synoptic Gospel is such as to outweigh the
agreement of the remaining five."(l) Before proceeding to consider these
seven passages admitted by Dr. Westcott, we must point out that, in a
note to the statement of the number, he mentions that he excludes
other two passages as "not merely quotations of words, but concise
narratives."(2) But surely this is a most extraordinary reason for
omitting them, and one the validity of which cannot be admitted. As
Justin introduces them deliberately as quotations, why should they be
excluded simply because they are combined with a historical statement?
We shall produce them. The first is in Apol. i. 66: "For the Apostles,
in the Memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels,(3) handed
down that it was thus enjoined on them, that Jesus, having taken bread
and given thanks, said: 'This do in remembrance of me. This is my body.'
And similarly, having taken the cup and given thanks, he said: 'This is
my blood,' and delivered it to them alone."(4) This passage, it will be
remembered, occurs in an elaborate apology for Christianity addressed to
the Roman emperors, and Justin is giving an account of the most solemn
sacrament of his religion. Here, if ever, we might reasonably expect
accuracy and care, and Justin, in fact, carefully


indicates the source of the quotation he is going to make. It is
difficult to understand any ground upon which so direct a quotation
from the "Memoirs of the Apostles" could be set aside by Canon Westcott.
Justin distinctly states that the Apostles in these Memoirs have "thus"
[--Greek--] transmitted what was enjoined on us by Jesus, and then gives
the precise quotation. Had the quotation agreed with our Gospels, would
it not have been claimed as a professedly accurate quotation from them?
Surely no one can reasonably pretend, for instance, that when Justin,
after this preamble, states that having taken bread, &c., _Jesus said_:
"This do in remembrance of me: this is my body;" or having taken the
cup, &c, _he said_: "This is my blood"--Justin does not deliberately
mean to quote what Jesus actually did say? Now the account of the
episode in Luke is as follows (xxii. 17): "And he took a cup, gave
thanks, and said: Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18. For
I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the
kingdom of God shall come. 19. And he took bread, gave thanks, brake it,
and gave it unto them, saying: This is my body which is given for you:
this do in remembrance of me. 20. And in like manner the cup after
supper, saying: This is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for
you."(l) Dr. Westcott of course only compares this passage of Justin
with Luke, to which


and the parallel in 1 Cor. xi. 24, wide as the difference is, it is
closer than to the accounts in the other two Gospels. That Justin
professedly quoted literally from the Memoirs is evident, and is
rendered still more clear by the serious context by which the quotation
is introduced, the quotation in fact being made to authenticate by
actual written testimony the explanations of Justin. His dogmatic views,
moreover, are distinctly drawn from a Gospel, which, in a more direct
way than our Synoptics do, gave the expressions: "This is my body," and
"This is my blood," and it must have been observed that Luke, with which
Justin's reading alone is compared, not only has not: [--Greek--], at all,
but instead makes use of a totally different expression: "This cup is
the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you."

The second quotation from the Memoirs which Dr. Westcott passes over is
that in Dial. 103, compared with Luke xxii. 42, 43,1 on the Agony in the
Garden, which we have already examined,(2) and found at variance with
our Gospel, and without the peculiar and distinctive expressions of the

We now come to the seven passages which Canon Westcott admits to be
professed quotations from the Memoirs, and in which "it is natural to
expect that he will preserve the exact words of the Gospels which he
used." The first of these is a passage in the Dialogue, part of which
has already been discussed in connection with the fire in Jordan and the
voice at the Baptism, and found to be from a source different from our
Synoptics.(3) Justin says: "For even he, the devil, at the time when he
also (Jesus) went up from the river Jordan when the voice


said to Him: 'Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,' is
recorded in the Memoirs of the Apostles to have come to him and tempted
him even so far as saying to him: 'Worship me;' and Christ answered him
[---Greek---], 'Get thee behind me, Satan' [---Greek---], 'thou shalt worship
the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.'"(1) This passage is
compared with the account of the temptation in Matt iv. 9, 10: "And he
said unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall
down and worship me. 10. Then saith Jesus unto him [---Greek---],
Get thee hence, Satan [--Greek--]: it is written, Thou shalt
worship," &c All the oldest Codices, it should be stated, omit the
[--Greek--], as we have done, but Cod. D. (Bezæ) and a few others of infirm
authority, insert these two words. Canon Westcott, however, justly
admits them to be "probably only a very early interpolation."(2) We have
no reason whatever for supposing that they existed in Matthew during
Justin's time. The oldest Codices omit the whole phrase from the
parallel passage, Luke iv. 8, but Cod. A. is an exception, and reads:
[--Greek--]. The best

modern editions, however, reject this as a mere recent addition to Luke.
A comparison of the first and third Gospels with Justin clearly shows
that the Gospel which he used followed the former more closely than
Luke. Matthew makes the climax of the temptation


the view of all the kingdoms of the world, and the offer to give them
to Jesus if he will fall down and worship Satan. Luke, on the contrary,
makes the final temptation the suggestion to throw himself down from the
pinnacle of the temple. Justin's Gospel, as the words, "so far as saying
to him" [--Greek--], &c., clearly indicate, had the same climax as Matthew.
Now the following points must be observed. Justin makes the words of
Satan, "Worship me" [--Greek--], a distinct quotation; the Gospel makes
Satan offer all that he has shown "if thou wilt fall down and worship
me" [--Greek--]. Then Justin's quotation proceeds: "And Christ answered
him" [--Greek--]; whilst Matthew has, "Then Jesus saith to him" [---Greek---],
which is a marked variation.(1) The[--Greek--] of Justin, as we have
already said, is not found in any of the older Codices of Matthew. Then
the words: "it is written," which form part of the reply of Jesus in our
Gospels, are omitted in Justin's; but we must add that, in Dial 125, in
again referring to the temptation, he adds, "it is written." Still,
in that passage he also omits the whole phrase, "Get thee behind me,
Satan," and commences: "For he answered him: It is written, Thou shalt
worship," &c.

We must, however, again point out the most important fact, that this
account of the temptation is directly connected with another which is
foreign to our Gospels. The Devil is said to come at the time Jesus went
up out of the Jordan and the voice said to him: "Thou art my son,
this day have I begotten thee"--words which do not occur at all in our
Gospels, and which are again bound up with the incident of the fire in
Jordan. It is altogether


unreasonable to assert that Justin could have referred the fact which
he proceeds to quote from the Memoirs, to the time those words were
uttered, if they were not to be found in the same Memoirs. The one
incident was most certainly not derived from our Gospels, inasmuch as
they do not contain it, and there are the very strongest reasons for
asserting that Justin derived the account of the temptation from a
source which contained the other. Under these circumstances, every
variation is an indication, and those which we have pointed out are not
accidental, but clearly exclude the assertion that the quotation is from
our Gospels.

The second of the seven passages of Canon Westcott is one of those from
the Sermon on the Mount, Dial. 105, compared with Matt v. 20, adduced by
de Wette, which we have already considered.(1) With the exception of the
opening words, [--Greek--], the two sentences agree, but this is no proof
that Justin derived the passage from Matthew; while on the contrary, the
persistent variation of the rest of his quotations from the Sermon on
the Mount, both in order and language, forces upon us the conviction
that he derived the whole from a source different from our Gospels.

The third passage of Dr. Westcott is that regarding the sign of Jonas
the prophet, Matt, xii. 39, compared with Dial. 107, which was the second
instance adduced by Tischendorf We have already examined it,(2) and
found that it presents distinct variations from our first Synoptic,
both linguistically and otherwise, and that many reasons lead to the
conclusion that it was quoted from a Gospel different from ours.

The fourth of Canon Westcott's quotations is the


following, to part of which we have already had occasion to refer:(l)
"For which reason our Christ declared on earth to those who asserted
that Elias must come before Christ: Elias indeed shall come [--Greek--] and
shall restore all things: but I say unto you that Elias is come already,
and they knew him not, but did unto him [--Greek--] whatsoever they listed.
And it is written that then the disciples understood that he spoke to
them of John the Baptist."(2) The express quotation" in this passage,
which is compared with Matt. xvii. 11--13, is limited by Canon "Westcott
to the last short sentence(3) corresponding with Matt xvii. 13, and
he points out that Credner admits that it must have been taken from
Matthew. It is quite true that Credner considers that if any passage
of Justin's quotations proves a necessary connection between Justin's
Gospels and the Gospel according to Matthew, it is this sentence: "And
it is written that then the disciples, &c." He explains his reason
for this opinion as follows: "These words can only be derived from
our Matthew, with which they literally agree; for it is thoroughly
improbable that a remark of so special a description could have
been made by two different and independent individuals so completely
alike."(4) We totally differ from this argument,


which is singularly opposed to Credner's usual clear and thoughtful
mode of reasoning.(1) No doubt if such Gospels could be considered to
be absolutely distinct and independent works, deriving all their matter
from individual and separate observation of the occurrences narrated by
their authors and personal report of the discourses given, there might
be greater force in the argument, although even in that case it would
have been far from conclusive here, inasmuch as the observation we are
considering is the mere simple statement of a fact necessary to complete
the episode, and it might well have been made in the same terms by
separate reporters. The fact is, however, that the numerous Gospels
current in the early Church cannot have been, and our synoptic Gospels
most certainly are not, independent works, but are based upon earlier
evangelical writings no longer extant, and have borrowed from each
other. The Gospels did not originate full fledged as we now have them,
but are the result of many revisions of previously existing materials.
Critics may differ as to the relative ages and order of the Synoptics,
but almost all are agreed that in one order or another they are
dependent on each other, and on older forms of the Gospel. Now such an
expression as Matt. xvii. 13 in some early record of the discourse might
have been transferred to a dozen of other Christian writings. Ewald
assigns the passage to the oldest Gospel, Matthew in its present form
being fifth in descent.(2)

Our three canonical Gospels are filled with instances in which
expressions still more individual are repeated, and these show that such
phrases cannot be limited to


one Gospel, but, if confined in the first instance to one original
source, may have been transferred to many subsequent evangelical works.
Take, for instance, a passage in Matt. vii. 28, 29: ".... the multitudes
were astonished at his teaching: for he taught them as having authority,
and not as their scribes."(1) Mark i. 22 has the very same passage,(2)
with the mere omission of "the multitudes" [--Greek--], which does not
in the least affect the argument; and Luke iv. 32: "And they were
astonished at his teaching: for his word was power."(3) Although the
author of the third Gospel somewhat alters the language, it is clear
that he follows the same original, and retains it in the same context as
the second Gospel. Now the occurrence of such a passage as this in one
of the Fathers, if either the first or second Gospels were lost,
would, on Credner's grounds, be attributed undoubtedly to the survivor,
although in reality derived from the Gospel no longer extant, which
likewise contained it. Another example may be pointed out in Matt. xiii.
34: "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitudes in parables; and
_without a parable spake he not unto them_," compared with Mark iv. 33,
34, "And with many such parables spake he the word unto them....
and without a parable spake he not unto them." The part of this very
individual remark which we have italicised is literally the same in both
Gospels, as a personal comment at the end of the parable of the grain of
mustard seed. Then, for instance, in the account


of the sleep of the three disciples during the agony in the Garden
(Matt. xxvi. 43, Mark xiv. 40), the expression "and he found them
asleep, _for their eyes were heavy_," which is equally individual, is
literally the same in the first two Gospels. Another special remark of a
similar kind regarding the rich young man: "he went away sorrowful, for
he had great possessions," is found both in Matt. xix. 22 and Mark
x. 22. Such examples(1) might be multiplied, and they show that the
occurrence of passages of the most individual character cannot, in
Justin's time, be limited to any single Gospel. Now the verse we
are discussing, Matt xvii. 13, in all probability, as Ewald supposes,
occurred in one or more of the older forms of the Gospel from which our
Synoptics and many other similar works derived their matter, and nothing
is more likely than that the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which in
many respects was nearly related to Matthew, may have contained it.
At any rate we have shown that such sayings cannot, however apparently
individual, be considered evidence of the use of a particular Gospel
simply because it happens to be the only one now extant which contains
it. Credner, however, whilst expressing the opinion which we have quoted
likewise adds his belief that by the expression [--Greek--], Justin seems
expressly to indicate that this sentence is taken from a different work
from what precedes it, and he has proved that the preceding part of
the quotation was not derived from our Gospels.(2) We cannot, however,
coincide with this opinion either. It seems to us that the expression


it is written" simply was made use of by Justin to show that the
identification of Elias with John the Baptist is not his, but was the
impression conveyed at the time by Jesus to his disciples. Now the whole
narrative of the baptism of John in Justin bears characteristic marks
of being from a Gospel different from ours,(1) and in the first part
of this very quotation we find distinct variation. Justin first affirms
that Jesus in his teaching had proclaimed that Elias should also come
[--Greek--], and then further on he gives the actual words of Jesus:
[--Greek--], which we have before us, whilst in Matthew the words are:
[--Greek--] and there is no MS. which reads [--Greek--] for [--Greek--], and
yet, as Credner remarks, the whole force of the quotation rests upon
the word, and Justin is persistent in his variation from the text of our
first Synoptic. It is unreasonable to say that Justin quotes loosely the
important part of his passage, and then about a few words at the close
pretends to be so particularly careful. Considering all the facts of
the case, we must conclude that this quotation also is from a source
different from our Gospels.(2)

Another point, however, must be noted. Dr. Westcott claims this passage
as an express quotation from the Memoirs, apparently for no other reason
than that the few words happen to agree with Matt. xvii. 13, and that he
wishes to identify the Memoirs with our Gospels. Justin, however, does
not once mention the Memoirs in this chapter; it follows, therefore,
that Canon Westcott who is so exceedingly strict in his limitation of
express quotations, assumes that all quotations of Christian history and
words of Jesus in Justin are to be considered


as derived from the Memoirs whether they be mentioned by name or not.
We have already seen that amongst these there are not only quotations
differing from the Gospels, and contradicting them, but others which
have no parallels at all in them.

The fifth of Dr. Westcott's express quotations occurs in Dial. 105,
where Justin says: "For when he (Jesus) was giving up his spirit on the
cross he said: 'Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,' as I have
also learned from the Memoirs." This short sentence agrees with Luke
xxiii. 46, it is true, but as we have already shown,1 Justin's whole
account of the Crucifixion differs so materially from that in our
Gospels that it cannot have been derived from them.

We see this forcibly in examining the sixth of Canon Westcott's
quotations, which is likewise connected with the Crucifixion. "For they
who saw him crucified also wagged their heads each one of them, and
distorted their lips, and sneeringly and in scornful irony repeated
among themselves those words which are also written in the Memoirs of
his Apostles: He declared himself the son of God: (let him) come down,
let him walk about: let God save him."(2) We have ourselves already
quoted and discussed this passage,(3) and need not further examine it
here. Canon Westcott has nothing better to say regarding this quotation,
in an examination of the accuracy of parallel passages, than this:
"These exact words do not occur in our Gospels, but we do find there
others so closely connected with them that few readers would feel the
difference "!(4) When criticism descends to language like this, the case
is indeed desperate. It is clear that, as Canon Westcott admits, the
words are expressly declared to be a


quotation from the Memoirs of the Apostles, but they do not exist in
our Gospels, and consequently our Gospels are not identical with the
Memoirs. Canon Westcott refers to the taunts in Matthew, and then with
commendable candour he concludes his examination of the quotation with
the following words: "No manuscript or Father (so far as we know) has
preserved any reading of the passage more closely resembling Justin's
quotation; and if it appear not to be deducible from our Gospels, due
allowance being made for the object which he had in view, its source
must remain concealed."(1) We need only add that it is futile to talk
of making "due allowance" for the object which Justin had in view. His
immediate object was accurate quotation, and no allowance can account
for such variation in language and thought as is presented in this
passage. That this passage, though a professed quotation from the
Memoirs, is not taken from our Gospels is certain both from its own
variations and the differences in other parts of Justin's account of
the Crucifixion, an event whose solemnity and importance might well be
expected to secure reverential accuracy. It is impossible to avoid the
conclusion that Justin's Memoirs of the Apostles were not identical
with our Gospels, and the systematic variation of his quotations thus
receives its natural and reasonable explanation.

The seventh and last of Dr. Westcott's express quotations is, as he
states, "more remarkable." We subjoin the passage in contrast with the
parallel texts of the first and third Gospels.



It is apparent that Justin's quotation differs very materially from our
Gospels in language, in construction, and in meaning. These variations,
however, acquire very remarkable confirmation and significance from the
fact that Justin in two other places(3) quotes the latter and larger
part of the passage from [--Greek--] in precisely the same way, with the
sole exception that, in both of these quotations, he uses the aorist
[--Greek--] instead of [--Greek--]. This threefold repetition in the same
peculiar form clearly stamps the passage as being a literal


quotation from his Gospel, and the one exception to the verbal agreement
of the three passages, in the substitution of the present for the aorist
in the Dialogue, does not in the least remove or lessen the fundamental
variation of the passage from our Gospel. As the [--Greek--] is twice
repeated it was probably the reading of his text. Now it is well known
that the peculiar form of the quotation in Justin occurred in what
came to be considered heretical Gospels, and constituted the basis of
important Gnostic doctrines.(1) Canon Westcott speaks of the use of
this passage by the Fathers in agreement with Justin in a manner which,
unintentionally we have no doubt, absolutely misrepresents important
facts. He says: "The transposition of the words still remains; and how
little weight can be attached to that will appear upon an examination
of the various forms in which the text is quoted by Fathers like Origen,
Irenæus and Epiphanius, who admitted our Gospels exclusively. It occurs
in them as will be seen from the table of readings[--Greek--] with almost
every possible variation. Irenæus in the course of one chapter quotes
the verse first as it stands in the canonical text; then in the same
order, but with the last clause like Justin's; and once again altogether
as he has given it. Epiphanius likewise quotes the text seven times
in the same order as Justin, and four times as it stands in the
Gospels."[--Greek--] Now in the chapter to which reference is made in this
sentence Irenæus commences by stating that the Lord had declared: "Nemo
cognoscit Filium nisi Pater; neque


Patrem quis cognoscit nisi Films, et cui voluerit Filius revelare,"(1)
as he says, "Thus Matthew has set it down and Luke similarly, and Mark
the very same."(2) He goes on to state, however, that those who would
be wiser than the Apostles write this verse as follows: "Nemo cognovit
Patrem nisi Filius; nee Filium nisi Pater, et cui voluerit Filius
revelare." And he explains: "They interpret it as though the true God
was known to no man before the coming of our Lord; and that God who
was announced by the Prophets they affirm not to be the Father of
Christ."(3) Now in this passage we have the [--Greek--] of Justin in the
'cognovit,' in contradistinction to the 'cognoscit' of the Gospel,
and his transposition of order as not by any possibility an accidental
thing, but as the distinct basis of doctrines. Irenæus goes on to argue
that no one can know the Father unless through the Word of God, that is
through the Son, and this is why he said: "'Nemo cognoscit Patrem nisi
Filius; neque Filium nisi Pater, et quibuscunque Filius reve-laverit.'
Thus teaching that he himself also is the Father, as indeed he is,
in order that we may not receive any other Father except him who is
revealed by the Son."(4) In this third quotation Irenseus alters the
[--Greek--] into [--Greek--], but retains the form, for the rest, of the
Gnostics and of Justin, and his aim apparently is to show that adopting
his present tense instead of the aorist the transposition


of words is of no importance. A fourth time, however, in the same
chapter, which in fact is wholly dedicated to this passage and to the
doctrines based upon it, Irenæus quotes the saying: "Nemo cognoscit
Filium nisi Pater; neque Patrem nisi Filius, et quibuscunque Filius
reve-laverit."(1) Here the language and order of the Gospel are followed
with the exception that 'cui voluerit revelare' is altered to the
'quibuscunque revelaverit' of Justin; and that this is intentional is
made clear by the continuation: "For _revelaverit_ was said not with
reference to the future alone,"(2( &c.

Now in this chapter we learn very clearly that, although the canonical
Gospels by the express declaration of Irenæus had their present reading
of the passage before us, other Gospels of considerable authority even
in his time had the form of Justin, for again in a fifth passage
he quotes the opening words: "He who was known, therefore, was not
different from him who declared: 'No one knoweth the Father,' but one
and the same."(3) With the usual alteration of the verb to the present
tense, Irenæus in this and in one of the other quotations of this
passage just cited gives some authority to the transposition of the
words "Father" and "Son," although the reading was opposed to the
Gospels, but he invariably adheres to [--Greek--] and condemns [--Greek--],
the reading maintained by those who in the estimation of Irenæus "would
be wiser than the Apostles." Elsewhere, descanting on


the passages of Scripture by which heretics attempt to prove that the
Father was unknown before the advent of Christ, Irenseus, after accusing
them of garbling passages of Scripture,(1) goes on to say of the
Marcosians and others: "Besides these, they adduce a countless number of
apocryphal and spurious works which they themselves have forged to the
bewilderment of the foolish, and of those who are not versed in the
Scriptures of truth."(2) He also points out passages occurring in our
Gospels to which they give a peculiar interpretation and, amongst
these, that quoted by Justin. He says: "But they adduce as the highest
testimony, and as it were the crown of their system, the following
passage.... 'All things were delivered to me by my Father, and no one
knew [--Greek--] the Father but the Son, and the Son but the Father, and he
to whomsoever [--Greek--] the Son shall reveal [--Greek--].'(3) In these words
they assert that he clearly demonstrated that the Father of truth whom
they have invented was known to no one before his coming; and they
desire to interpret the words as though the Maker and Creator had
been known to all, and the Lord spoke these words regarding the Father
unknown to all, whom they proclaim."(4) Here we have the exact quotation
twice made by Justin, with the [--Greek--] and the same order, set


forth as the reading of the Gospels of the Marcosians and other sects,
and the highest testimony to their system. It is almost impossible that
Justin could have altered the passage by an error of memory to this
precise form, and it must be regarded as the reading of his Memoirs.(1)
The evidence of Irenæus is clear: The Gospels had the reading which
we now find in them, but apocryphal Gospels on the other hand had that
which we find twice quoted by Justin, and the passage was as it were
the text upon which a large sect of the early Church based its most
fundamental doctrine. The [--Greek--] is invariably repudiated, but the
transposition of the words "Father" and "Son" was apparently admitted to
a certain extent, although the authority for this was not derived from
the Gospels recognized by the Church which contained the contrary order.

We must briefly refer to the use of this passage by Clement of
Alexandria. He quotes portions of the text eight times, and although
with some variation of terms he invariably follows the order of the
Gospels. Six times he makes use of the aorist [--Greek--],(2) once of
[--Greek--],(3) and once of [--Greek--].(4) He only once quotes the whole
passage,(5) but on this occasion, as well as six others in which he only
quotes the latter part of the sentence,(6) he omits [--Greek--], and reads
"and he to whom the Son shall reveal," thus supporting the [--Greek--]


of Justin. Twice he has "God" instead of "Father,"(1) and once he
substitutes [--Greek--] for [--Greek--].(2) It is evident from the loose and
fragmentary way in which Clement interweaves the passage with his text,
that he is more concerned with the sense than the verbal accuracy of the
quotation, but the result of his evidence is that he never departs from
the Gospel order of "Father" and "Son," although he frequently makes
use of [--Greek--] and also employs [--Greek--] in agreement with Justin and,
therefore, he shows the prevalence of forms approximating to, though
always presenting material difference from, the reading of Justin.

Epiphanius refers to this passage no less than ten times,(3) but he
only quotes it fully five times, and upon each of these occasions with
variations. Of the five times to which we refer, he thrice follows the
order of the Gospels,(4) as he does likewise in another place where he
does not complete the sentence.(5) On the remaining two occasions he
adopts the same order as Justin, with variations from his reading,
however, to which we shall presently refer;(6) and where he only
partially quotes he follows the same order on other three occasions,(7)
and in one other place the quotation is too fragmentary to allow us to
distinguish the order.(8) Now in all of these ten quotations, with
one exception, Epiphanius substitutes [--Greek--] for [--Greek--] at the
commencement of the


passage in Matthew, and only thrice does he repeat the verb in the
second clause as in that Gospel, and on these occasions he twice makes
use of [--Greek--](1) and once of [--Greek--].(2) He once uses [--Greek--] with
the same order as Justin, but does not complete the sentence.(3) Each
time he completes the quotation, he uses [--Greek--] with the Gospel,
and [--Greek--] with Justin,(4) but only once out of the five complete
quotations does he insert [--Greek--] in the concluding phrase. It is
evident from this examination, which we must not carry further, that
Epiphanius never verbally agrees with the Gospel in his quotation
of this passage and never verbally with Justin, but mainly follows a
version different from both. It must be remembered,

however, that he is writing against various heresies, and it does not
seem to us improbable that he reproduces forms of the passage current
amongst those sects.

In his work against Marcion, Tertullian says: "With regard to the
Father, however, that he was never seen, the Gospel which is common to
us will testify, as it was said by Christ: Nemo cognovit patrem nisi
filius,"(5) but elsewhere he translates "Nemo scit,"(6) evidently
not fully appreciating the difference of [--Greek--].(7) The passage in
Mar-cion's Gospel reads like Justin's: [--Greek--].(8) The use of [--Greek--]
as applied to the Father and [--Greek--] as regards the Son in this passage
is suggestive. Origen


almost invariably uses [--Greek--], sometimes adopting the order of the
Gospels and sometimes that of Justin, and always employing [--Greek--].(1)
The Clementine Homilies always read [--Greek--], and always follow the same
order as Justin, presenting other and persistent variations from the
form in the Gospels. [--Greek--] This reading occurs four times.
The Clementine Recognitions have the aorist with the order of the

There only remain a few more lines to add to those already quoted to
complete the whole of Dr. Westcott's argument regarding this passage. He
continues and concludes thus: "If, indeed, Justin's quotations were made
from memory, no transposition could be more natural; and if we suppose
that he copied the passage directly from a manuscript, there is no
difficulty in believing that he found it so written in a manuscript
of the Canonical St. Matthew, since the variation is excluded by no
internal improbability, while it is found elsewhere, and its origin is
easily explicable."(5) It will be observed that Canon Westcott does not
attempt any argument, but simply confines himself to suppositions.
If such explanations were only valid, there could be no difficulty in
believing anything, and every embarrassing circumstance would indeed be
easily explicable.

The facts of the case may be briefly summed up as follows: Justin
deliberately and expressly quotes from his Gospel, himself calling it
"Gospel," be it observed, a


passage whose nearest parallel in our Gospels is Matt. xi. 27. This
quotation presents material variations from our Canonical Gospel both in
form and language. The larger part of the passage he quotes twice in a
different work, written years before, in precisely the same words as the
third quotation, with the sole exception that he uses the aorist
instead of the present tense of the verb. No MS. of our Gospel extant
approximates to the reading in Justin, and we are expressly told by
Irenæus that the present reading of our Matthew was that existing in
his day. On the other hand, Irenæus states with equal distinctness that
Gospels used by Gnostic sects had the reading of Justin, and that the
passage was "the crown of their system," and one upon whose testimony
they based their leading doctrines. Here, then, is the clear statement
that Justin's quotation disagrees with the form in the Gospels, and
agrees with that of other Gospels. The variations occurring in the
numerous quotations of the same passage by the Fathers, which we have
analysed, show that they handled it very loosely, but also indicate that
there must have been various readings of considerable authority then
current. It has been conjectured with much probability that the form in
which Justin quotes the passage twice in his Apology may have been
the reading of older Gospels, and that it was gradually altered by the
Church to the form in which we now have it, for dogmatic reasons, when
Gnostic sects began to base doctrines upon it inconsistent with the
prevailing interpretation.(1) Be this as it may, Justin's Gospel clearly
had a reading different from ours, but in unison with


that known to exist in other Gospels, and this express quotation only
adds additional proof to the mass of evidence already adduced that the
Memoirs of the Apostles were not our Canonical Gospels.(1)

We have already occupied so much space even with this cursory
examination of Justin's quotations, that we must pass over in silence
passages which he quotes from the Memoirs with variations from the
parallels in our Gospels which are also found in the Clementine Homilies
and other works emanating from circles in which other Gospels than ours
were used. We shall now only briefly refer to a few sayings of Jesus
expressly quoted by Justin, which are altogether unknown to our Gospels.
Justin says: "For the things which he foretold would take place in his
name, these we see actually coming to pass in our sight. For he
said: 'Many shall come,' &c., &c.,(2) and 'There shall be schisms and
heresies,'(3) and 'Beware of false prophets,'(4) &c, and 'Many false
Christs and false Apostles shall arise and shall deceive many of the
faithful.'"(5) Neither of the two prophecies here quoted are to be found
anywhere in our Gospels, and to the second of them Justin repeatedly
refers. He says in one place that Jesus "foretold that in the interval
of his coming, as I previously said,(6) heresies and false prophets
would arise in his name."(7) It is admitted that these


prophecies are foreign to our Gospels.(1) It is very probable that
the Apostle Paul refers to the prophecy, "There shall be schisms and
heresies" in 1 Cor. xi. 18-19, where it is said, ".... I hear that
schisms exist amongst you; and I partly believe it. For there must also
be heresies amongst you," &c. [--Greek--].(2) We find also, elsewhere,
traces both of this saying and that which accompanies it. In the
Clementine Homilies, Peter is represented as stating, "For there shall
be, as the Lord said, _false apostles_, false prophets, _heresies_,
desires for supremacy," &c. [--Greek--].3 We are likewise reminded of the
passage in the Epistle attributed to the Roman Clement, xliv.: "Our
Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be
contention regarding the dignity of the episcopate."(4) In our Gospel
there is no reference anywhere to schisms and heresies, nor are false
Apostles once mentioned, the reference being solely to "false Christs"
and "false prophets." The recurrence here and elsewhere of the peculiar
expression "false apostles" is very striking,(5) and the evidence
for the passage as a saying of Jesus is important. Hegesippus, after
enumerating a vast number of heretical sects and teachers, continues:
"From these sprang the false Christs, false prophets, _false apostles_,
who divided the


union of the Church by corrupting doctrines concerning God and
concerning his Christ."(1) It will be remembered that Hegesippus
made use of the Gospel according to the Hebrews, and the Clementine
literature points to the same source. In the Apostolic Constitutions
we read: "For these are false Christs and false prophets, _and false
apostles_, deceivers, and corrupters," &c.,(2) and in the Clementine
Recognitions the Apostle Peter is represented as saying that the Devil,
after the temptation, terrified by the final answer of Jesus, "hastened
immediately to send forth into this world false prophets, and _false
apostles_, and false teachers, who should speak in the name of Christ
indeed, but should perform the will of the demon."(3) Justin's whole
system forbids our recognizing in these two passages mere tradition, and
we must hold that we have here quotations from a Gospel different from

Elsewhere, Justin says: "Out of which (affliction and fiery trial of the
Devil) again Jesus, the Son of God, promised to deliver us, and to put
on us prepared garments, if we do his commandments, and he is proclaimed
as having provided an eternal kingdom for us."(4) This promise is
nowhere found in our Gospel.(5)

Immediately following the passage (k 3 and 4) which we have discussed(6)
as repeated in the Dialogue: "Many


shall say to me, &c, &c, and I will say to them, Depart from me," Justin
continues: "And in other words by which he will condemn those who are
unworthy to be saved, he said that he will say: Begone into the darkness
without, which the Father hath prepared for Satan and his angels."(1)
The nearest parallel to this is in Matt. xxv. 41: "Then shall he say
also unto them on the left hand: Depart from me, ye cursed, into the
eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels."


It is apparent that Justin's quotation differs very widely from the
reading of our Gospel. The same reading, with the exception of a single
word, is found in the Clementine Homilies (xix. 2), that is to say, that
"Devil" is substituted for "Satan," and this variation is not important.
The agreement of the rest, on the other hand, seems to establish the
conclusion that the quotation is from a written Gospel different from
ours,(2) and here we have further strong indications of Justin's use of
the Ebionite Gospel.

Another of the sayings of Jesus which are foreign to our Gospels is one
in reference to the man who falls away from righteousness into sin,
of whom Justin says: "Wherefore also our Lord Jesus Christ said: In
whatsoever things I may find you, in these I shall also judge you."(3)


"[--Greek--]") A similar expression is used by some of the Fathers, and
in some cases is ascribed to the prophets.(1) Clement of Alexandria has
quoted a phrase closely resembling this without indicating the source.
[--Greek--].(2 ) Grabe was of opinion that Justin derived the passage from
the Gospel according to the Hebrews,(3) an opinion shared by the greater
number of modern critics, and which we are prepared to accept from
many previous instances of agreement. Even the warmest asserters of the
theory that the Memoirs are identical with our Gospels are obliged to
admit that this saying of Jesus is not contained in them, and that it
must have been derived from an extra-canonical source.(4)

Other passages of a similar kind might have been pointed out, but we
have already devoted too much space to Justin's quotations, and must
hasten to a conclusion. There is one point, however, to which we must
refer. We have more than once alluded to the fact that, unless in one
place, Justin never mentions an author's name in connection with the
Memoirs of the Apostles. The exception to which we referred is the
following. Justin says: "The statement also that he (Jesus) changed the
name of Peter, one of the Apostles, and that this is also written in
_his_ Memoirs as having been done,


together with the fact that he also changed the name of other two
brothers, who were sons of Zebedee, to Boanerges, that is, sons of
Thunder," &c.(1) According to the usual language of Justin, and upon
strictly critical grounds, the [--Greek--] in this passage must be referred
to Peter; and Justin, therefore, seems to ascribe the Memoirs to that
Apostle, and to speak of a Gospel of Peter. Some critics maintain that
the [--Greek--] does not refer to Peter, but to Jesus, or, more probably
still, that it should be amended to [--Greek--], and apply to the
Apostles.(3) The great majority, however, are forced to admit the
reference of the Memoirs to Peter, although they explain it, as we shall
see, in different ways. It is argued by some that this expression is
used when Justin is alluding to the change of name not only of Peter
but of the sons of Zebedee, the narrative of which is only found in the
Gospel according to Mark. Now Mark was held by many of the Fathers
to have been the mere mouthpiece of Peter, and to have written at his
dictation;(3) so that, in fact, in calling the second Gospel by the name
of the Apostle Peter, they argue, Justin merely adopted the tradition
current in the early Church, and referred to the


Gospel now known as the Gospel according to Mark.(1) It must be evident,
however, that after admitting that Justin speaks of the Memoirs of
Peter," it is indeed hasty in the extreme to conclude from the fact
that the mention of the sons of Zebedee being surnamed Boanerges is only
recorded in Mark iii. 17, and not in the other canonical Gospels, that
therefore the "Memoirs of Peter" and our Gospel according to Mark are
one and the same. We shall, hereafter, in examining the testimony of
Papias, see that the Gospel according to Mark, of which the Bishop of
Hierapolis speaks, was not our canonical Mark at all. It would be very
singular indeed on this hypothesis that Justin should not have quoted
a single passage from the only Gospel whose author he names, and the
number of times he seems to quote from a Petrine Gospel, which was quite
different from Mark, confirms the inference that he cannot possibly here
refer to our second Gospel. It is maintained, therefore, by numerous
other critics that Justin refers to a Gospel according to Peter, or
according to the Hebrews, and not to Mark.(3)

We learn from Eusebius that Serapion, who became Bishop of Antioch about
a.d. 190, composed a book on


the "Gospel according to Peter" [--Greek--], which he found in circulation
in his diocese. At first Serapion had permitted the use of this Gospel,
as it evidently was much prized, but he subsequently condemned it as a
work favouring Docetic views, and containing many things superadded to
the doctrine of the Saviour.(1) Origen likewise makes mention of the
Gospel according to Peter [--Greek--] as agreeing with the tradition of the
Hebrews.(3) But its relationship to the Gospel according to the Hebrews
becomes more clear when Theodoret states that the Nazarenes made use of
the Gospel according to Peter,(3) for we know by the testimony of the
Fathers generally that the Nazarene Gospel was that commonly called the
Gospel according to the Hebrews [--Greek--].

The same Gospel was in use amongst the Ebionites, and in fact, as almost
all critics are agreed, the Gospel according to the Hebrews, under
various names, such as the Gospel according to Peter, according to the
Apostles, the Nazarenes, Ebionites, Egyptians, &c, with modifications
certainly, but substantially the same work, was circulated very widely
throughout the early Church.(4) A quotation occurs in the


so-called Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, to which we have
already referred, which is said by Origen to be in the work called the
doctrine of Peter(l) [--Greek--], but

Jerome states that it is taken from the Hebrew Gospel of the
Nazarenes.(2) Delitzsch finds traces of the Gospel according to the
Hebrews before a.d. 130 in the Talmud.(3) Eusebius(4) informs us that
Papias narrated a story regarding a woman accused before the Lord of
many sins which was contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews.(5)
The same writer likewise states that Hegesippus, who came to Rome
and commenced his public career under Anicetus, quoted from the same
Gospel.(6) The evidence of this "ancient and apostolic man is very
important, for although he evidently attaches great value to tradition,
does not seem to know of any canonical Scriptures of the New Testament


and, like Justin, apparently rejected the Apostle Paul,(1) he still
regarded the Gospel according to the Hebrews with respect, and probably
made exclusive use of it. The best critics consider that this Gospel was
the evangelical work used by the author of the Clementine Homilies.(2)
Cerinthus and Carpocrates made use of a form of it,(3) and there is good
reason to suppose that Tatian, like his master Justin, used the same
Gospel: indeed his "Diatessaron," we are told, was by some called the
Gospel according to the Hebrews.(4) Clement of Alexandria quotes it as
an authority, with quite the same respect as the other Gospels. He says:
"So also in the Gospel according to the Hebrews: 'He who wonders shall
reign,' it is written, 'and he who reigns shall rest.'"(5) A form of
this Gospel, "according to the Egyptians," is quoted in the second
Epistle of pseudo-Clement of Rome, as we are informed by the Alexandrian


Clement, who likewise quotes the same passage.(1) Origen frequently made
use of the Gospel according to the Hebrews,(2) and that it long enjoyed
great consideration in the Church is proved by the fact that Theodoret
found it in circulation not only among heretics, but also amongst
orthodox Christian communities;(3) and even in the fourth century
Eusebius records doubts as to the rank of this Gospel amongst Christian
books, speaking of it under the second class in which some reckoned
the Apocalypse of John.(4) Later still Jerome translated it;(5) whilst
Nicephorus inserts it, in his Stichometry, not amongst the Apocrypha,
but amongst the Antilegomena, or merely doubtful books of the New
Testament, along with the Apocalypse of John.(6) Eusebius bears
testimony to the value attached to it by the Jewish Christians,(7) and
indeed he says of the Ebionites that, "making use only of the Gospel
according to the Hebrews, they took little account of the rest."(8) In
such repute was this Gospel amongst the earliest Christian communities,
that it was generally believed to be the original of the Greek Gospel
of Matthew. Irenæus states that the Ebionites used solely the Gospel
according to Matthew and reject the Apostle Paul, asserting that he was
an apostate from the law.(9) We know from statements


regarding the Ebionites(1) that this Gospel could not have been our
Gospel according to Matthew, and besides, both Clement(2) of Alexandria
and Origen(3) call it the Gospel according to the Hebrews. Eusebius,
however, still more clearly identifies it, as we have seen above.
Repeating the statements of Irenæus, he says: "These indeed (the
Ebionites) thought that all the Epistles of the Apostle (Paul) should be
rejected, calling him an apostate from the law; making use only of
the Gospel according to the Hebrews, they took little account of the
rest."(4) Epiphanius calls both the single Gospel of the Ebionites and
of the Nazarenes the "Gospel according to the Hebrews," and also
the Gospel according to Matthew,(5) as does also Theodoret(6) Jerome
translated the Gospel according to the Hebrews both into Greek and
Latin,(7) and it is clear that his belief was that this Gospel, a copy
of which he found in the library collected at Cæsarea by the Martyr
Pamphilus (f 309), was the Hebrew original of Matthew; and in support of
this view he points out that it did not follow the version of the LXX.
in its quotations from the Old Testament, but quoted directly from the
Hebrew.(8 ) An attempt has been made to argue


that, later, Jerome became doubtful of this view, but it seems to
us that this is not the case, and certainly Jerome in his subsequent
writings states that it was generally held to be the original of
Matthew.(1) That this Gospel was not identical with the Greek Matthew is
evident both from the quotations of Jerome and others, and also from the
fact that Jerome considered it worth while to translate it twice. If
the Greek Gospel had been an accurate translation of it, of course there
could not have been inducement to make another.(2) As we shall hereafter
see, the belief was universal in the early Church that Matthew wrote
his Gospel in Hebrew. Attempts have been made to argue that the Gospel
according to the Hebrews was first written in Greek and then translated
into Hebrew,(3) but the reasons advanced seem quite insufficient and
arbitrary,(4) and it is contradicted by the whole tradition of the


It is not necessary for our purpose to enter fully here into the
question of the exact relation of our canonical Gospel according to
Matthew to the Gospel according to the Hebrews. It is sufficient for us
to point out that we meet with the latter before Matthew's Gospel,
and that the general opinion of the early church was that it was the
original of the canonical Gospel This opinion, as Schwegler(1) remarks,
is supported by the fact that tradition assigns the origin of both
Gospels to Palestine, and that both were intended for Jewish Christians
and exclusively used by them. That the two works, however originally
related, had by subsequent manipulation become distinct, although still
amidst much variation preserving some substantial affinity, cannot be
doubted, and in addition to evidence already cited we may point out that
in the Stichometry of Nicephorus, the Gospel according to Matthew is
said to have 2500 [--Greek--], whilst that according to the Hebrews has
only 2200.(2)

Whether this Gospel formed one of the writings of the [--Greek--] of Luke
it is not our purpose to inquire, but enough has been said to prove that
it was one of the most ancient(3)


and most valued evangelical works, and to show the probability that
Justin Martyr, a Jewish Christian living amongst those who are known to
have made exclusive use of this Gospel, may well, like his contemporary
Hegesippus, have used the Gospel according to the Hebrews; and this
probability is, as we have seen, greatly strengthened by the fact that
many of his quotations agree with passages which we know to have been
contained in it; whilst, on the other hand, almost all differ from our
Gospels, presenting generally, however, a greater affinity to the Gospel
according to Matthew, as we might expect, than to the other two. It is
clear that the title "Gospel according to the Hebrews" cannot have been
its actual superscription, but merely was a name descriptive of the
readers for whom it was prepared or amongst whom it chiefly circulated,
and it is most probable that it originally bore no other title than "The
Gospel" [--Greek--], to which were added the different designations under
which we find it known amongst different communities.(1) We have already
seen that Justin speaks of "The Gospel" and seems to refer to the
"Memoirs of Peter," both distinguishing appellations of this Gospel,
but there is another of the names borne by the "Gospel according to the
Hebrews," which singularly recalls the "Memoirs of the Apostles," by
which Justin prefers to call his evangelical work. It was called the
"Gospel according to the Apostles"(2)


[--Greek--], and, in short, comparing Justin's Memoirs with this Gospel, we
find at once similarity of contents and even of name.(1)

It is not necessary, however, for) the purposes of this examination to
dwell more fully upon the question as to what specific Gospel now no
longer extant Justin employed. We have shown that there is no evidence
that he made use of any of our Gospels, and he cannot, therefore,
be cited even to prove their existence, and much less to attest the
authenticity and character of records whose authors he does not once
name. On the other hand it has been made evident that there were other
Gospels, now lost but which then enjoyed the highest consideration, from
which his quotations might have been, and probably were, taken. We have
seen that Justin's Memoirs of the Apostles contained facts of Gospel
history unknown to our Gospels, which were contained in apocryphal works
and notably in the Gospel according to the Hebrews; that they further
contained matter contradictory to our Gospels, and sayings of Jesus
not contained in them; and that his quotations, although so numerous,
systematically vary from similar passages in our Gospels. No theory of
quotation from memory can satisfactorily account for these phenomena,
and the reasonable conclusion is that Justin did not make use of our
Gospels, but quoted from another source. In no case can the testimony
of Justin afford the requisite support to the Gospels as records of
miracles and of a Divine Revelation.



We now turn to Hegesippus, one of the contemporaries of Justin, and,
like him, a Palestinian Jewish Christian. Most of our information
regarding him is derived from Eusebius, who fortunately gives rather
copious extracts from his writings. Hegesippus was born in Palestine,
of Jewish parents,(l) and in all probability belonged to the primitive
community of Jerusalem.(2) In order to make himself thoroughly
acquainted with the state of the Church, he travelled widely and came
to Rome when Anicetus was Bishop. Subsequently he wrote a work of
historical Memoirs, [--Greek--], in five books, and thus became the
first ecclesiastical historian of Christianity. This work is lost, but
portions have been preserved to us by Eusebius, and one other fragment
is also extant. It must have been, in part at least, written after the
succession of Eleutherus to the Roman bishopric (a.d. 177-193), as that
event is mentioned in the book itself, and his testimony is allowed by
all critics to date from an advanced period of the second half of the
second century.(3)


The testimony of Hegesippus is of great value, not only as that of a
man born near the primitive Christian tradition, but also as that of
an intelligent traveller amongst many Christian communities. Eusebius
evidently held him in high estimation as recording the unerring
tradition of the Apostolic preaching in the most simple style of
composition,(1) and as a writer of authority who was "contemporary with
the first successors of the Apostles"(2) [--Greek--]. Any indications,
therefore, which we may derive from information regarding him, and
from the fragments of his writings which survive, must be of peculiar
importance for our inquiry.

As might have been expected from a convert from Judaism(3) [--Greek--], we
find in Hegesippus manifest evidences of general tendency to the Jewish
side of Christianity. For him, "James, the brother of the Lord," was the
chief of the Apostles, and he states that he had received the government
of the Church after the death of Jesus.(4) The account which he gives of
him is remarkable. "He was holy from his mothers womb. He drank neither
wine nor strong drink, nor ate he any living thing. A razor never went
upon his head, he anointed not himself with


oil, and did not use a bath. He alone was allowed to enter into the
Holies. For he did not wear woollen garments, but linen. And he alone
entered into the Sanctuary and was wont to be found upon his knees
seeking forgiveness on behalf of the people; so that his knees became
hard like a camel's, through his constant kneeling in supplication to
God, and asking for forgiveness for the people. In consequence of his
exceeding great righteousness he was called Righteous and 'Oblias,' that
is, Protector of the people and Righteousness, as the prophets declare
concerning him,"(1) and so on. Throughout the whole of his account of
James, Hegesippus describes him as a mere Jew, and as frequenting the
temple, and even entering the Holy of Holies as a Jewish High Priest.
Whether the account be apocryphal or not is of little consequence here;
it is clear that Hegesippus sees no incongruity in it, and that the
difference between the Jew and the Christian was extremely small. The
head of the Christian community could assume all the duties of the
Jewish High-Priest,(2) and his Christian doctrines did not offend more
than a small party amongst the Jews.(3)

We are not, therefore, surprised to find that his rule [--Greek--] of
orthodoxy in the Christian communities


which he visited, was "the Law, the Prophets, and the Lord." Speaking of
the result of his observations during his travels, and of the succession
of Bishops in Rome, he says: "The Corinthian Church has continued in the
true faith until Primus, now Bishop of Corinth. I conversed with him
on my voyage to Rome, and stayed many days with the Corinthians, during
which time we were refreshed together with true doctrine. Arrived
in Rome I composed the succession until Anicetus, whose deacon was
Eleutherus. After Anicetus succeeded Soter, and afterwards Eleutherus.
But with every succession, and in every city, that prevails which
the Law, and the Prophets, and the Lord enjoin."(1) The test of true
doctrine [--Greek--] with Hegesippus as with Justin, therefore, is no
New Testament Canon, which does not yet exist for him, but the Old
Testament, the only Holy Scriptures which he acknowledges, and the words
of the Lord himself,(3) which, as in the case of Jewish Christians like
Justin, were held to be established by, and in direct conformity with,
the Old Testament. He carefully transmits the unerring tradition of
apostolic preaching [--Greek--], but he apparently knows nothing of any
canonical series even of apostolic epistles.

The care with which Eusebius searches for information regarding the
books of the New Testament in early writers, and his anxiety to produce
any evidence concerning their composition and authenticity, render his
silence upon the subject almost as important as his distinct


utterance when speaking of such a man as Hegesippus.(1) Now, while
Eusebius does not mention that Hegesippus refers to any of our Canonical
Gospels or Epistles, he very distinctly states that he made use in his
writings of the "Gospel according to the Hebrews" [--Greek--]. It may be
well, however, to give his remarks in a consecutive form. "He sets forth
some matters from the Gospel according to the Hebrews and the Syriac,
and particularly from the Hebrew language, showing that he was a convert
from among the Hebrews, and other things he records as from unwritten
Jewish tradition. And not only he, but also Irenæus, and the whole body
of the ancients, called the Proverbs of Solomon: all-virtuous Wisdom.
And regarding the so-called Apocrypha, he states that some of them had
been forged in his own time by certain heretics."(2)

It is certain that Eusebius, who quotes with so much care the testimony
of Papias, a man of whom he speaks disparagingly, regarding the
composition of the first two Gospels, would not have neglected to have
availed himself of the evidence of Hegesippus, for whom he has so much
respect, had that writer furnished him with any opportunity, and
there can be no doubt that he found no facts concerning the origin and
authorship of our Gospels in his writings. It is, on the other hand,
reasonable to infer that Hegesippus exclusively made use of the


Gospel according to the Hebrews, together with unwritten tradition.(1)
In the passage regarding the Gospel according to the Hebrews, as even
Lardner(2) conjectures, the text of Eusebius is in all probability
confused, and he doubtless said what Jerome later found to be the fact,
that "the Gospel according to the Hebrews is written in the Chaldaic and
Syriac (or Syro-Chaldaic) language, but with Hebrew characters."(3) It
is in this sense that Rufinus translates it. It may not be inappropriate
to point out that fragments of the Gospel according to the Hebrews,
which have been preserved, show the same tendency to give some
pre-eminence to James amongst the Apostles which we observe in
Hegesippus.(4) It has been argued by a few that the words, "and
regarding the so-called Apocrypha, he states that some of them had been
forged in his own times by certain heretics," are contradictory to his
attributing authority to the Gospel according to the Hebrews, or at
least that they indicate some distinction amongst Christians between
recognized and apocryphal works. The apocryphal works referred
to, however, are clearly Old Testament Apocrypha.(5) The words are
introduced by the statement that Hegesippus records matters "as from
unwritten Jewish tradition," and then proceeds, "and


not only he, but also Irenæus and the whole body of the ancients, called
the Proverbs of Solomon: all-virtuous Wisdom." Then follow the words,
"And with regard to the _so-called_ Apocrypha," &c, &c, evidently
passing from the work just mentioned to the Old Testament Apocrypha,
several of which stand also in the name of Solomon, and it is not
improbable that amongst these were included the _Ascensio Esaiæ_ and the
_Apocalypsis Eliæ_, to which is referred a passage which Hegesippus, in
a fragment preserved by Photius,(1) strongly repudiates. As Hegesippus
does not, so far as we know, mention any canonical work of the New
Testament, but takes as his rule of faith the Law, the Prophets, and the
words of the Lord, probably as he finds them in the Gospel according to
the Hebrews, quotes also Jewish tradition and discusses the Proverbs of
Solomon, the only possible conclusion at which we can reasonably arrive
is that he spoke of Old Testament Apocrypha. There cannot be a doubt
that Eusebius would have recorded his repudiation of New Testament
"Apocrypha," regarding which he so carefully collects information, and
his consequent recognition of New Testament Canonical works implied in
such a distinction.

We must now see how far in the fragments of the works of Hegesippus
which have been preserved to us there are references to assist our
inquiry. In his account of certain surviving members of the family of
Jesus, who were brought before Domitian, Hegesippus says: "For Domitian
feared the appearing of the Christ as much as Herod."(2) It has been
argued that this


may be an allusion to the massacre of the children by Herod related in
Matt ii., more especially as it is doubtful that the parallel account to
that contained in the first two chapters of the first Gospel existed
in the oldest forms of the Gospel according to the Hebrews.(1) But the
tradition which has been preserved in our first Synoptic may have formed
part of many other evangelical works, in one shape or another, and
certainly cannot be claimed with reason exclusively for that Gospel.
This argument, therefore, has no weight whatever, and it obviously rests
upon the vaguest conjecture. The principal passages which apologists(2)
adduce as references to our Gospels occur in the account which
Hegesippus gives of the martyrdom of James the Just. The first of
these is the reply which James is said to have given to the Scribes and
Pharisees: "Why do ye ask me concerning Jesus the Son of Man? He sits
in heaven on the right hand of great power, and is about to come on the
clouds of heaven."(3) This is compared with Matt. xxvi. 64: "From this
time ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power and
coming on the clouds of heaven."(4) It is not necessary to point out the
variations between these two passages, which are obvious. If we had not
the direct intimation that Hegesippus made use of the Gospel according
to the Hebrews, which no doubt contained this passage, it would be
apparent that a man who valued tradition


so highly might well have derived this and other passages from that
source. This is precisely one of those sayings which were most current
in the early Church, whose hope and courage were sustained amid
persecution and suffering by such Chiliastic expectations, with which
according to the apostolic injunction they comforted each other.(1) In
any case the words do not agree with the passage in the first Gospel,
and as we have already established, even perfect agreement would not
under the circumstances be sufficient evidence that the quotation is
from that Gospel, and not from another; but with such discrepancy,
without any evidence whatever that Hegesippus knew anything of our
Gospels, but, on the contrary, with the knowledge that he made use
of the Gospel according to the Hebrews, we must decide that any such
passages must rather be derived from it than from our Gospels.

It is scarcely necessary to say anything regarding the phrase: "for
we and all the people testify to thee that thou art just and that thou
respectest not persons."(2) Canon Westcott points out that [--Greek--] only
occurs in Luke xx. 21, and Galatians ii. 6;(3) but the similarity
of this single phrase, which is not given as a quotation, but in a
historical form put into the mouth of those who are addressing James,
cannot for a moment be accepted as evidence of a knowledge of Luke. The
episode of the tribute money is generally ascribed to the oldest form
of the Gospel history, and although the other two Synoptics(4) read
[--Greek--] for [--Greek--], there is


no ground for asserting that some of the [--Greek--] who preceded Luke did
not use the latter form, and as little for asserting that it did not
so stand, for instance, in the Gospel according to the Hebrews. The
employment of the same expression in the Epistle, moreover, at once
deprives the Gospel of any individuality in its use.

Hegesippus represents the dying James as kneeling down and praying for
those who were stoning him: "I beseech (thee), Lord God Father, forgive
them, for they know not what they do" [--Greek--].(1) This is compared
with the prayer which Luke(2) puts into the mouth of Jesus on the cross:
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" [--Greek--], and it
is assumed from this partial coincidence that Hegesippus was acquainted
with the third of our canonical Gospels. We are surprised to see an
able and accomplished critic like Hilgenfeld adopting such a conclusion
without either examination or argument of any kind.(3) Such a deduction
is totally unwarranted by the facts of the case, and if the partial
agreement of a passage in such a Father with a historical expression in
a Gospel which, alone out of many previously existent, has come down
to us can be considered evidence of the acquaintance of the Father with
that particular Gospel, the function of criticism is at an end.

It may here be observed that the above passage of Luke xxiii. 34 is
omitted altogether from the Vatican MS. and Codex D (Bezse), and in the
Codex Sinaiticus


its position is of a very doubtful character.(1) The Codex Alexandrinus
which contains it omits the word [--Greek--].(2) Luke's Gospel was avowedly
composed after many other similar works were already in existence, and
we know from our Synoptics how closely such writings often followed each
other, and drew from the same sources.(3) If any historical character is
conceded to this prayer of Jesus it is natural to suppose that it must
have been given in at least some of these numerous Gospels which have
unfortunately perished. No one could reasonably assert that our third
Gospel is the only one which ever contained the passage. It would be
preposterous to affirm, for instance, that it did not exist in the
Gospel according to the Hebrews, which Hegesippus employed. On the
supposition that the passage is historical, which apologists at least
will not dispute, what could be more natural or probable than that such
a prayer, "emanating from the innermost soul of Jesus,"(4) should
have been adopted under similar circumstances by James his brother
and successor, who certainly could not have derived it from Luke. The
tradition of such words, expressing so much of the original spirit of
Christianity, setting aside for the moment written


Gospels, could scarcely fail to have remained fresh in the mind of the
early Church, and more especially in the primitive community amongst
whom they were uttered, and of which Hegesippus was himself a later
member; and they would certainly have been treasured by one who was so
careful a collector and transmitter of "the unerring tradition of the
apostolic preaching." No saying is more likely to have been preserved
by tradition, both from its own character, brevity, and origin, and from
the circumstances under which it was uttered, and there can be no reason
for limiting it amongst written records to Luke's Gospel. The omission
of the prayer from very important codices of Luke further weakens
the claim of that Gospel to the passage. Beyond these general
considerations, however, there is the important and undoubted fact
that the prayer which Hegesippus represents James as uttering does not
actually agree with the prayer of Jesus in the third Gospel. So far from
proving the use of Luke, therefore, this merely fragmentary and partial
agreement, on the contrary, rather proves that he did not know that
Gospel, for on the supposition of his making use of the third Synoptic
at all for such a purpose, and not simply giving the prayer which James
may in reality have uttered, why did he not quote the prayer as he
actually found it in Luke?

We have still to consider a fragment of Hegesippus preserved to us by
Stephanus Gobarus, a learned monophysite

of the sixth century, which reads as follows: "That the good things
prepared for the righteous neither eye saw, nor ear heard, nor entered
they into the heart of man. Hegesippus, however, an ancient and
apostolic man, how moved I know not, says in the fifth book of his
Memoirs that these words are vainly


spoken, and that those who say these things give the lie to the divine
writings and to the Lord saying: 'Blessed are your eyes that see, and
your cars that hear,'" &c. [--Greek--].(1) We believe that we have here
an expression of the strong prejudice against the Apostle Paul and
his teaching which continued for so long to prevail amongst Jewish
Christians, and which is apparent in many writings of that period.(2)
The quotation of Paul, 1 Corinthians ii. 9, differs materially from the
Septuagint version of the passage in Isaiah lxiv. 4, and, as we have
seen, the same passage quoted by "Clement of Rome,"(3) differs both from
the version of the LXX'. and from the Epistle, although closer to the
former. Jerome however found the passage in the apocryphal work called
"Ascensio Isaiæ,"(4) and Origen, Jerome, and others likewise ascribe it
to the "Apocalypsis Eliæ."(5) This, however, does not concern us here,
and we have merely to examine the "saying of the Lord," which Hegesippus
opposes to the passage: "Blessed are your eyes that see and your ears
that hear." This is compared with Matt. xiii. 16, "But blessed are your
eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear" [--Greek--], and also
with Luke x. 23, "Blessed are the eyes which see the things that
ye see," &c. We need not point out that the saying referred to by
Hegesippus, whilst conveying the


same sense as that in the two Gospels, differs as materially from them
both as they do from each other, and as we might expect a quotation
taken from a different though kindred source, like the Gospel according
to the Hebrews, to do. The whole of the passages which we have examined,
indeed, exhibit the same natural variation.

We have already referred to the expressions of Hegesippus regarding the
heresies in the early Church: "From these sprang the false Christs, and
false prophets, and _false apostles_ who divided the unity of the Church
by corrupting doctrines concerning God and his Christ."(1) We have shown
how this recalls quotations in Justin of sayings of Jesus foreign to
our Gospels, in common with similar expressions in the Clementine
Homilies,(2) Apostolic Constitutions,(3) and Clementine Recognitions,(4)
and we need not discuss the matter further. This community of reference,
in a circle known to have made use of the Gospel according to the
Hebrews, to matters foreign to our Synoptics, furnishes collateral
illustration of the influence of that Gospel.

Tischendorf, who so eagerly searches for every trace, real or imaginary,
of the use of our Gospels and of the existence of a New Testament Canon,
passes over in silence, with the exception of a short note(5) devoted
to the denial that Hegesippus was opposed to Paul, this first writer of
Christian Church history, whose evidence, could it have been adduced,
would have been so valuable. He does not pretend that Hegesippus made
use of the Canonical Gospels, or knew of any other Holy Scriptures


than those of the Old Testament, but, on the other hand, he does not
mention that he possessed, and quoted from, the Gospel according to the
Hebrews. There is no reason for supposing that Hegesippus found a New
Testament Canon in any of the Christian communities which he visited,
and such a rule of faith certainly did not yet exist in Rome in a.d.
160-170.(1) There is no evidence whatever to show that Hegesippus
recognized any other evangelical work than the Gospel according to the
Hebrews, as the written source of his knowledge of the words of the


The testimony of Papias is of great interest and importance in
connection with our inquiry, inasmuch as he is the first ecclesiastical
writer who mentions the tradition that Matthew and Mark composed written
records of the life and teaching of Jesus; but no question has been more
continuously contested than that of the identity of the works to which
he refers with our actual Canonical Gospels. Papias was Bishop of
Hierapolis, in Phrygia,(3) in the first half of the second century,
and is said to have suffered martyrdom under Marcus Aurelius about a.d.
164-167.(4) About the middle of the second century(5)5 he wrote a work
in five books, entitled


"Exposition of the Lord's Oracles "(l) [--Greek--], which, with the
exception of a few fragments preserved to us chiefly by Eusebius and
Irenæus, is unfortunately, no longer extant. In the preface to his
book he stated: "But I shall not hesitate also to set beside my
interpretations all that I rightly learnt from the Presbyters, and
rightly remembered, earnestly testifying to their truth. For I was not,
like the multitude, taking pleasure in those who speak much, but in
those who teach the truth, nor in those who relate alien commandments,
but in those who record those delivered by the Lord to the faith, and
which come from the truth itself. If it happened that any one came who
had followed the Presbyters, I inquired minutely after the words of
the Presbyters, what Andrew or what Peter said, or what Philip or what
Thomas or James, or what John or Matthew, or what any other of the
disciples of the Lord, and what Aristion and the Presbyter John, the
disciples of the Lord, say, for I held that what was to be derived
from books did not so profit me as that from the living and abiding
voice"(2). [--Greek--]

It is clear from this that Papias preferred tradition to any written
works with which he was acquainted, that he attached little or


no value to any Gospels with which he had met,(1) and that he knew
absolutely nothing of Canonical Scriptures of the New Testament.(2) His
work was evidently intended to furnish a collection of the discourses of
Jesus completed from oral tradition, with his own expositions, and this
is plainly indicated both by his own words, and by the statements of
Eusebius who, amongst other things, mentions that Papias sets forth
strange parables of the Saviour and teachings of his from unwritten
tradition [--Greek--].(3) It is not, however, necessary to discuss more
closely the nature of the work, for there is no doubt that written
collections of discourses of Jesus existed before it was composed of
which it is probable he made use.

The most interesting part of the work of Papias which is preserved to us
is that relating to Matthew and

     1 With reference to the last sentence of Papias, Teschendorf
     asks: "What books does he refer to here, perhaps our Gospels
 ? According to the expression this is not impossible, but
     from the whole character of the book in the highest degree
     improbable." (Wann wurden, u. s. w.t p. 109.) We know little
     or nothing of the "whole character" of the book, and what we
     do know is contradictory to our Gospels. The natural and
     only reasonable course is to believe the express declaration
     of Papias, more especially as it is made, in this instance,
     as a prefatory statement of his belief.


Mark. After stating that Papias had inserted in his book accounts of
Jesus given by Aristion, of whom nothing is known, and by the
Presbyter John, Eusebius proceeds to extract a tradition regarding Mark
communicated by the latter. There has been much controversy as to the
identity of the Presbyter John, some affirming him to have been the
Apostle,(1) but the great majority of critics deciding that he was
a totally different person.(2) Irenseus, who, sharing the Chiliastic
opinions of Papias, held him in high respect, boldly calls him "the
hearer of John" (meaning the Apostle) "and a companion of Polycarp"
[--Greek--](3) but this is expressly contradicted by Eusebius, who points
out that, in the preface to his book, Papias by no means asserts that he
was himself a hearer of the Apostles, but merely that he received their
doctrines from those who had personally known them;(3) and after making
the quotation from Papias which we have given


above, he goes on to point out that the name of John is twice mentioned,
once together with Peter, James, and Matthew, and the other Apostles,
"evidently the Evangelist," and the other John he mentions separately,
ranking him amongst those who are not Apostles, and placing Aristion
before him, distinguishing him clearly by the name of Presbyter.(1)
He further refers to the statement of the great Bishop of Alexandria,
Dionysius,(2) that at Ephesus there were two tombs, each bearing the
name of John, thereby leading to the inference that there were two men
of the name.(3) There can be no doubt that Papias himself in the passage
quoted mentions two persons of the name of John, distinguishing the one
from the other, and classing the one amongst the Apostles and the other
after Aristion, an unknown "disciple of the Lord," and, but for the
phrase of Irenæus, so characteristically uncritical and assumptive,
there probably never would have been any doubt raised as to the meaning
of the passage. The question is not of importance to us, and we may
leave it, with the remark that a writer who suffered martyrdom under
Marcus Aurelius, c. a.d. 165, can scarcely have been a hearer of the

The account which the Presbyter John is said to have


given of Mark's Gospel is as follows: "'This also the Presbyter said:
Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote accurately whatever
he remembered, though he did not arrange in order the things which
were either said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord,
nor followed him; but afterwards, as I said,(1) accompanied Peter, who
adapted his teaching to the occasion, and not as making a consecutive
record of the Lord's oracles. Mark, therefore, committed no error in
thus writing down some things as he remembered them. For of one point
he was careful, to omit none of the things which he heard, and not to
narrate any of them falsely.' These facts Papias relates concerning
Mark."(2) The question to decide is, whether the work here described is
our Canonical Gospel or not.

The first point in this account is the statement that Mark was the
interpreter of Peter [--Greek--]. Was he merely the secretary of the
Apostle writing in a manner from his dictation, or does the passage mean
that he translated the Aramaic narrative of Peter into

     1 Dr. Lightfoot (Contemp. Bev., 1875, p. 842), in the course
     of a highly fanciful argument says, in reference to this "as
     I said": "It is quite clear that Papias had already said
     something of the relations existing between St. Peter and St
     Mark previously to the extract which gives an account of the
     Second Gospel, for he there refers back to a preceding
     notice." It is quite clear that he refers back, but only to
     the preceding sentence in which he "had already said
     something of the relations" in stating the fact that: "Mark,
     having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote, &c."


Greek?(1) The former is the more probable supposition and that which
is most generally adopted, but the question is not material here. The
connection of Peter with the Gospel according to Mark was generally
affirmed in the early Church, as was also that of Paul with the third
Gospel,{2} with the evident purpose of claiming apostolic origin for all
the Canonical Gospels.(3) Irenæus says: "After their decease (Peter and
Paul), Mark the disciple and interpreter of Peter delivered to, us in
writing that which had been preached by Peter."(4) Eusebius quotes a
similar tradition from Clement of Alexandria, embellished however
with further particulars. He says: "... The cause for which the Gospel
according to Mark was written was this: When Peter had publicly preached
the word at Rome, and proclaimed the Gospel by the Spirit, those who
were present being many, requested Mark, as he had followed him from
afar and remembered what he had said, to write down what he had spoken;
and when he had composed the Gospel, he gave it to those who had asked
it of him; which when Peter knew he neither absolutely hindered nor
encouraged it*"(5) Tertullian repeats the same tradition. He says:


"And the Gospel which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peter's,
whose interpreter Mark was.... for it may rightly appear that works
which disciples publish are of their masters."(l) We have it again from
Origen: "The second (Gospel) is according to Mark, written as Peter
directed him."(2) Eusebius gives a more detailed and advanced version
of the same tradition. "So much, however, did the effulgence of piety
illuminate the minds of those (Romans) who heard Peter, that it did
not content them to hear but once, nor to receive only the unwritten
doctrine of the divine teaching, but with reiterated entreaties they
besought Mark, to whom the Gospel is ascribed, as the companion of
Peter, that he should leave them a written record of the doctrine thus
orally conveyed. Nor did they cease their entreaties until they had
persuaded the man, and thus became the cause of the writing of the
Gospel called according to Mark. They say, moreover, that the Apostle
(Peter) having become aware, through revelation to him of the Spirit,
of what had been done, was delighted with the ardour of the men, and
ratified the work in order that it might be read in the churches. This
narrative is given by Clement in the sixth book of his Institutions,
whose testimony is supported by that of Papias, the Bishop of


The account given by Clement, however, by no means contained these
details, as we have seen. In his "Demonstration of the Gospel" Eusebius,
referring to the same tradition, affirms that it was the modesty of
Peter which prevented his writing a Gospel himself.(1) Jerome almost
repeats the preceding account of Eusebius: "Mark, the disciple and
interpreter of Peter, being entreated by the brethren of Rome, wrote a
short Gospel according to what he had received from Peter, which when
Peter heard, he approved, and gave his authority for its being read
in the Churches, as Clement writes in the sixth book of his
Institutions,"(3) &c. Jerome moreover says that Peter had Mark for an
interpreter, "whose Gospel was composed: Peter narrating and he writing"
(cujus evangelium Petro narrante et illo scribente compositum est).(3)
It is evident that all these writers merely repeat with variations
the tradition regarding the first two Gospels which Papias originated.
Irenæus dates the writing of Mark after the death of Peter and Paul in
Rome. Clement describes Mark as writing during Peter's life, the Apostle
preserving absolute neutrality. By the time of Eusebius, however, the
tradition has acquired new and miraculous elements and a more decided
character--Peter is made aware of the undertaking of Mark through a
revelation of the Spirit, and instead of being neutral is delighted and
lends the work the weight of his authority. Eusebius refers to Clement
and Papias as giving the same account, which they do


not, however, and Jerome merely repeats the story of Eusebius without
naming him, and the tradition which he had embellished thus becomes
endorsed and perpetuated. Such is the growth of tradition;(l) it is
impossible to overlook the mythical character of the information we
possess as to the origin of the second Canonical Gospel.(2)

In a Gospel so completely inspired by Peter as the tradition of Papias
and of the early Church indicates, we may reasonably expect to find
unmistakable traces of Petrine influence, but on examination it will be
seen that these are totally wanting.(3) Some of the early Church did
not fail to remark this singular discrepancy between the Gospel and the
tradition of its dependence on Peter, and in reply Eusebius adopts an
apologetic tone.(4) For instance, in the brief account of the calling of
Simon in

     1  A similar discrepancy of tradition is to be observed as
     to the place in which the Gospel was written, Irenæus and
     others dating it from Rome, and others (as Chrysostom, in
     Matth. Homil., i.), assigning it to Egypt. Indeed some MSS.
     of the second Gospel have the words [--Greek--] in accordance
     with this tradition as to its origin. Cf. Scholz, Einl. N.
     T., i. p. 201. Various critics have argued for its
     composition at Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. We do not go
     into the discussion as to whether Peter ever was in Rome.


Mark, the distinguishing addition: "called Peter," of the first Gospel
is omitted,(1) and still more notably the whole narrative of the
miraculous draught of fishes, which gives the event such prominence in
the third Gospel.(2) In Matthew, Jesus goes into the house of "Peter" to
cure his wife's mother of a fever, whilst in Mark it is "into the house
of Simon and Andrew," the less honourable name being still continued.(3)
Matthew commences the catalogue of the twelve by the pointed indication:
"The first, Simon, who is called Peter,"(4) thus giving him precedence,
whilst Mark merely says: "And Simon he surnamed Peter."(5) The important
episode of Peter's walking on the sea, of the first Gospel,(6) is
altogether ignored by Mark. The enthusiastic declaration of Peter: "Thou
art the Christ,"(7) is only followed by the chilling injunction to tell
no one, in the second Gospel,(8) whilst Matthew not only gives greater
prominence to the declaration of Peter, but gives the reply of Jesus:
"Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona," &c,--of which Mark apparently knows
nothing,--and then proceeds to the most important episode in the history
of the Apostle, the celebrated words by which the surname of Peter was
conferred upon him: "And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon
this rock will I build my Church," &c.(9) The Gospel supposed to be
inspired by Peter, however, totally omits this most important passage;
as it also does the miracle of the finding the tribute money in the
fish's mouth, narrated by the first Gospel.(10) Luke states that "Peter


and John "are sent to prepare the Passover, whilst Mark has only "two
disciples;"(1) and in the account of the last Supper, Luke gives the
address of Jesus to Peter: "Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to
have you (all) that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee
that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy
brethren."(2) Of this Mark does not say a word. Again, after the denial,
Luke reads: "And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter, and Peter
remembered the word of the Lord, &c, and Peter went out and wept
bitterly;"(3) whereas Mark omits the reproachful look of Jesus, and
makes the penitence of Peter depend merely on the second crowing of the
cock, and further modifies the penitence by the omission of "bitterl"--"
And when he thought thereon he wept."(4) There are other instances
to which we need not refer. Not only are some of the most important
episodes in which Peter is represented by the other Gospels as a
principal actor altogether omitted, but throughout the Gospel there
is the total absence of anything which is specially characteristic of
Petrine influence and teaching. The argument that these omissions
are due to the modesty of Peter is quite untenable, for not only does
Irenæus, the most ancient authority on the point, state that this Gospel
was only written after the death of Peter,(5) but also there is no
modesty in omitting passages of importance in the history of Jesus,
simply because Peter himself was in some way concerned in them, or, for
instance, in decreasing his penitence for such a denial


of his master, which could not but have filled a sad place in the
Apostle's memory. On the other hand, there is no adequate record of
special matter, which the intimate knowledge of the doings and sayings
of Jesus possessed by Peter might have supplied, to counterbalance the
singular omissions. There is infinitely more of the spirit of Peter
in the first Gospel than there is in the second. The whole internal
evidence, therefore, shows that this part of the tradition of the
Presbyter John transmitted by Papias does not apply to our Gospel.

The discrepancy, however, is still more marked when we compare with
our actual second Gospel the account of the work of Mark which Papias
received from the Presbyter. Mark wrote down from memory some parts
[--Greek--] of the teaching of Peter regarding the life of Jesus, but as
Peter adapted his instructions to the actual circumstances [--Greek--], and
did not give a consecutive report [--Greek--] of the sayings or doings of
Jesus, Mark was only careful to be accurate, and did not trouble himself
to arrange in historical order [--Greek--] his narrative of the things
which were said and done by Jesus, but merely wrote down facts as
he remembered them. This description would lead us to expect a work
composed of fragmentary reminiscences of the teaching of Peter, without
regular sequence or connection. The absence of orderly arrangement is
the most prominent feature in the description, and forms the burden
of the whole. Mark writes "what he remembered;" "he did not arrange
in order the things that were either said or done by Christ;" and then
follow the apologetic expressions of explanation--he was not himself a
hearer or follower of the Lord, but derived his


information from the occasional preaching of Peter, who did not attempt
to give a consecutive narrative. Now it is impossible in the work of
Mark here described to recognize our present second Gospel, which does
not depart in any important degree from the order of the other two
Synoptics, and which, throughout, has the most evident character of
orderly arrangement Each of the Synoptics compared with the other two
would present a similar degree of variation, but none of them
could justly be described as not arranged in order or as not being
consecutive. The second Gospel opens formally, and after presenting
John the Baptist as the messenger sent to prepare the way of the Lord,
proceeds to the baptism of Jesus, his temptation, his entry upon public
life, and his calling of the disciples. Then, after a consecutive
narrative of his teaching and works, the history ends with a full and
consecutive account of the last events in the life of Jesus, his
trial, crucifixion, and resurrection, There is in the Gospel every
characteristic of artistic and orderly arrangement, from the striking
introduction by the prophetic voice crying in the wilderness to the
solemn close of the marvellous history.(1) The great majority of
critics, therefore, are agreed in concluding that the account of the
Presbyter John recorded by Papias does not apply to our second Canonical
Gospel at all.(2) Many


of those who affirm that the description of Papias may apply to our
second Gospel(1) do so with hesitation, and few maintain that we now
possess the original work without considerable subsequent alteration.
Some of these critics, however, feeling the difficulty of identifying
our second Gospel with the work here described, endeavour


to reconcile the discrepancy by a fanciful interpretation of the
account of Papias. They suggest that the first part, in which the want
of chronological order is pointed out, refers to the rough notes which
Mark made during the actual preaching and lifetime of Peter, and that
the latter part applies to our present Gospel, which he later remodelled
into its present shape.(1) This most unreasonable and arbitrary
application of the words of Papias is denounced even by apologists.(2)

It has been well argued that the work here described as produced by Mark
in the character of [--Greek--] is much more one of the same family as the
Clementine Homilies than of our Gospels.(3) The work was no systematic
narrative of the history of Jesus, nor report of his teaching, but the
dogmatic preaching of the Apostle, illustrated and interspersed with
passages from the discourses of Jesus or facts from his life.(4) Of this
character seems actually to have been that ancient work "The Preaching
of Peter" [--Greek--], which was used by Heracleon,(5) and by Clement(6) of
Alexandria as an authentic canonical work,(7) denounced by Origen(8)


on account of the consideration in which it was held by-many, but still
quoted with respect by Gregory of Nazianzum.(1)

There can be no doubt that the [--Greek--] although it failed to obtain a
permanent place in the canon, was one of the most ancient works of the
Christian Church, dating probably from the first century, from which
indeed the Clementine Homilies themselves were in all likelihood
produced,(2) and, like the work described by Papias, it also was held
to have been composed in Rome in connection with the preaching there of
Peter and Paul.3 It must be noted, moreover, that Papias does not call
the work ascribed to Mark a Gospel, but merely a record of the preaching
of Peter.

It is not necessary for us to account for the manner in which the work
referred to by the Presbyter John disappeared, and the present Gospel
according to Mark became substituted for it. The merely negative
evidence that our actual Gospel is not the work described by Papias
is sufficient for our purpose. Any one acquainted with the thoroughly
uncritical character of the Fathers, and with the literary history of
the early Christian Church, will readily conceive the facility with
which this can have been accomplished. The great mass of intelligent
critics are agreed that our Synoptic Gospels have assumed their present
form only after repeated modifications by various editors of earlier
evangelical works. These changes have not been effected without traces


being left by which the various materials may be separated and
distinguished, but the more primitive Gospels have entirely disappeared,
naturally supplanted by the later and amplified versions. The critic,
however, who distinguishes between the earlier and later matter is not
bound to perform the now impossible feat of producing the originals,
or accounting in any but a general way for the disappearance of the
primitive Gospel.

Teschendorf asks: "How then has neither Eusebius nor any other
theologian of Christian antiquity thought that the expressions of
Papias were in contradiction with the two Gospels (Mt. and Mk.)?"(1) The
absolute credulity with which those theologians accepted any fiction,
however childish, which had a pious tendency, and the frivolous
character of the only criticism in which they indulged, render their
unquestioning application of the tradition of Papias to our Gospels
anything but singular, and it is only surprising to find their silent
acquiescence elevated into an argument. We have already in the course
of these pages seen something of the singularly credulous and uncritical
character of the Fathers, and we cannot afford space to give instances
of the absurdities with which their writings abound. No fable could
be too gross, no invention too transparent, for their unsuspicious
acceptance, if it assumed a pious form or tended to edification. No
period in the history of the world ever produced so many spurious
works as the first two or three centuries of our era. The name of every
Apostle, or Christian teacher, not excepting that of the great Master
himself, was freely attached to every description of religious forgery.
False gospels, epistles, acts, martyrologies, were unscrupulously


circulated, and such pious falsification was not even intended or
regarded as a crime, but perpetrated for the sake of edification. It was
only slowly and after some centuries that many of these works, once,
as we have seen, regarded with pious veneration, were excluded from the
canon; and that genuine works shared this fate, whilst spurious ones
usurped their places, is one of the surest results of criticism. The
Fathers omitted to inquire critically when such investigation might have
been of value, and mere tradition credulously accepted and transmitted
is of no critical value.(1) In an age-when the multiplication of copies
of any work was a slow process, and their dissemination a matter of
difficulty and even danger, it is easy to understand with what facility
the more complete and artistic Gospel could take the place of the
original notes as the work of Mark.

The account given by Papias of the work ascribed to Matthew is as
follows: "Matthew composed the oracles in the Hebrew dialect, and every
one interpreted them as he was able."(2) Critics are divided in opinion
as to whether this tradition was, like that regarding Mark, derived from
the Presbyter John,(3) or is given merely on

     1 Canon Westcott himself admits that "the proof of the Canon
     is rendered more difficult by the uncritical character of
     the first two centuries." He says: "The spirit of the
     ancient world was essentially uncritical." On the Canon, p.
     7 f.


the authority of Papias himself.(1) Eusebius joins the account of Mark
to that given by Matthew merely by the following words: "These facts
Papias relates concerning Mark; but regarding Matthew he has said as
follows:"(2) Eusebius distinctly states that the account regarding Mark
is derived from the Presbyter, and the only reason for ascribing to
him also that concerning Matthew is that it is not excluded by the
phraseology of Eusebius, and the two passages being given by him
consecutively--however they may have stood in the work of Papias--it is
reasonable enough to suppose that the information was derived from the
same source. The point is not of much importance, but it is clear that
there is no absolute right to trace this statement to the Presbyter
John, as there is in the case of the tradition about Mark.

This passage has excited even more controversy than that regarding Mark,
and its interpretation and application are still keenly debated. The
intricacy and difficulty of the questions which it raises are freely
admitted by some of the most earnest defenders of the Canonical Gospels,
but the problem, so far as our examination is concerned, can be solved
without much trouble. The dilemma in which apologists find themselves
when they attempt closely to apply the description of this work given by
Papias to our Canonical Gospel is the great difficulty which complicates
the matter and prevents a


clear and distinct solution of the question. We shall avoid minute
discussion of details, contenting ourselves with the broader features of
the argument, and seeking only to arrive at a just conclusion as to the
bearing of the evidence of Papias upon the claim to authenticity of our
Canonical Gospel.

The first point which we have to consider is the nature of the work
which is here described. Matthew is said to have composed the [--Greek--]
or Oracles, and there can be little doubt from the title of his own
book: "Exposition of the Lord's Oracles" [--Greek--], that these oracles
referred to by Papias were the Discourses of Jesus. Does the word Xoyta,
however, mean strictly Oracles or discourses alone, or does it include
within its fair signification also historical narrative? "Were the
"Xoyta" here referred to a simple collection of the discourses of Jesus,
or a complete Gospel like that in our Canon bearing the name of Matthew?
That the natural interpretation of the word is merely "Oracles" is
indirectly admitted, even by the most thorough apologists, when they
confess the obscurity of the expression--obscurity, however, which
simply appears to exist from the difficulty of straining the word to
make it apply to the Gospel. "In these sentences," says Tischendorf,
referring to the passage about Matthew, "there is much obscurity; for
instance, it is doubtful whether we have rightly translated 'Discourses
of the Lord,'" and he can only extend the meaning to include historical
narrative by leaving the real meaning of the word and interpreting it by
supposed analogy.

There can be no doubt that the direct meaning of the word Xoyta
anciently and at the time of Papias was


simply: words or oracles of a sacred character, and however much the
signification became afterwards extended, that it was not then at all
applied to doings as well as sayings. There are many instances of this
original and limited signification in the New Testament;(1) and there
is no linguistic precedent for straining the expression, used at that
period, to mean anything beyond a collection of sayings of Jesus which
were estimated as oracular or divine, nor is there any reason for
thinking that [--Greek--] was here used in any other sense.(2) It is argued


on the other hand, that in the preceding passage upon Mark, a more
extended meaning of the word is indicated. The Presbyter John says that
Mark, as the interpreter of Peter, wrote without order "the things which
were either said or done by Christ" ([--Greek--]), and then, apologizing
for him, he goes on to say that Peter, whom he followed, adapted his
teaching to the occasion, "and not as making a consecutive record of the
oracles [--Greek--] of the Lord." Here, it is said, the word [--Greek--]
is used in reference both to sayings and doings, and therefore in
the passage on Matthew [--Greek--] must not be understood to mean only
[--Greek--], but also includes, as in the former case, the [--Greek--]. For
these and similar reasons,--in very many cases largely influenced by
the desire to see in these Xoyta our actual Gospel according to
Matthew--many critics have maintained that [--Greek--] in this place may be
understood to include historical narrative as well as discourses.(1) The
arguments by which they arrive at this


conclusion, however, seem to us to be based upon thorough misconception
of the direct meaning of the passage. Few or none of these critics would
deny that the simple interpretation of [--Greek--], at that period, was
oracular sayings.(1) Papias shows his preference for discourses in the
very title of his lost book, "Exposition of the [--Greek--] of the Lord,"
and in the account which he gives of the works attributed to Mark and
Matthew, the discourses evidently attracted his chief interest. Now,
in the passage regarding Mark, instead of [--Greek--] being made the
equivalent of [--Greek--] and [--Greek--], the very reverse is the fact. The
Presbyter says Mark wrote what he remembered of the things which were
said or done by Christ, although not in order, and he apologizes for his
doing this on the ground that he had not himself been a _hearer_ of the
Lord, but merely reported what he had heard from Peter, who adapted his
teaching to the occasion, and did _not_ attempt to give a consecutive
record of the oracles [--Greek--] of the Lord. Mark, therefore, could
not do so either. Matthew, on the contrary, he states, did compose the
oracles [--Greek--]. There is an evident contrast made: Mark


wrote [--Greek--] because he had not the means of writing the oracles, but
Matthew composed the [--Greek--].(1) Papias clearly distinguishes the work
of Mark, who had written reminiscences of what Jesus had said and done,
from that of Matthew, who had made a collection of his discourses.(2)

It is impossible upon any but arbitrary grounds, and from a foregone
conclusion, to maintain that a work commencing with a detailed history
of the birth and infancy of Jesus, his genealogy, and the preaching of
John the Baptist, and concluding with an equally minute history of his
betrayal, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection, and which relates all
the miracles and has for its evident aim throughout the demonstration
that Messianic prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus, could be entitled
[--Greek--]: the oracles or discourses of the Lord.(3)

Partly for these, but also for other important reasons, some of which
shall presently be referred to, the great majority of critics deny that
the work described by Papias can be the same as the Gospel in our canon
bearing the name of Matthew.(4) Whilst of those who


suppose that the (Aramaic) original of which Papias speaks may have been
substantially similar to it in construction, very few affirm that
the work did not receive much subsequent manipulation, addition, and
alteration, necessarily including translation, before it assumed the
form in which the Gospel now lies before us, and many of them altogether
deny its actual apostolic origin.(1)

The next most important and obvious point is that the work described in
this passage was written by Matthew


in the Hebrew or Aramaic dialect, and each one who did not understand
that dialect was obliged to translate as best he could. Our Gospel
according to Matthew, however, is in Greek. Tischendorf, who is obliged
to acknowledge the Greek originality of our actual Gospel, and that it
is not a translation from another language, recognizes the inevitable
dilemma in which this fact places apologists, and has, with a few
other critics, no better argument with which to meet it than the simple
suggestion that Papias must have been mistaken in saying that Matthew
wrote in Hebrew.(1) Just as much of the testimony as is convenient or
favourable is eagerly claimed by such apologists, and the rest, which
destroys its applicability to our Gospel, is set aside as a mistake.
Tischendorf perceives the difficulty, but not having arguments to meet
it, he takes refuge in feeling. "In this," he says, "there lies before
us one of the most complicated questions, whose detailed treatment would
here not be in place. For our part, we are fully at rest concerning it,
in the conviction that the assumption by Papias of a Hebrew original
text of Matthew, which already in his time cannot have been limited
to himself and was soon repeated by other men, arises only from a
misunderstanding."(3) It is difficult to comprehend why it should be
considered out of place in a work specially written to establish the
authenticity of the Gospels to discuss fully so vital a point, and its
deliberate evasion in such a manner alone can be deemed out of place on
such an occasion.(3)


We may here briefly remark that Teschendorf and others(1) repeat with
approval the disparaging expressions against Papias which Eusebius,
for dogmatic reasons, did not scruple to use, and in this way they seek
somewhat to depreciate his testimony, or at least indirectly to warrant
their free handling of it. It is true that Eusebius says that Papias
was a man of very limited comprehension(2) [--Greek--], but this is
acknowledged to be on account of his Millenarian opinions,(3) to which
Eusebius was vehemently opposed. It must be borne in mind, however, that
the Chiliastic passage from Papias quoted by Irenæus, and in which
he certainly saw nothing foolish, is given on the authority of the
Presbyter John, to whom, and not to Papias, any criticism upon it must
be referred. If the passage be not of a very elevated character, it is
quite in the spirit of that age. The main point, however, is that in
regard to the testimony of Papias we have little to


do with his general ability, for all that was requisite was the power
to see, hear, and accurately state very simple facts. He repeats what
is told him by the Presbyter, and in such matters we presume that the
Bishop of Hierapolis must be admitted to have been competent.(1)

There is no point, however, on which the testimony of the Fathers is
more invariable and complete than that the work of Matthew was written
in Hebrew or Aramaic. The first mention of any work ascribed to Matthew
occurs in the account communicated by Papias, in which, as we have
seen, it is distinctly said that Matthew wrote "in the Hebrew dialect."
Irenæus, the next writer who refers to the point, says: "Matthew also
produced a written Gospel amongst the Hebrews in their own dialect,"
and that he did not derive his information solely from Papias may be
inferred from his going on to state the epoch of Matthew's writings:
"when Peter and Paul were preaching and founding the Church in Rome."(2)
The evidence furnished by Pantænus is certainly independent of Papias.
Eusebius states with regard to him: "Of these Pantænus is said to have
been one, and to have penetrated as far as India (Southern Arabia),
where it is reported that he found the Gospel according to Matthew,
which had been delivered before his arrival to some who had the
knowledge of Christ, to whom Bartholomew, one of the Apostles, as it
is said, had preached, and left them that writing of Matthew in Hebrew
letters" [--Greek--]


[--Greek--].(1) Jerome gives a still more circumstantial account of this.
"Pantaenus found that Bartholomew, one of the twelve Apostles, had there
(in India) preached the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the
Gospel of Matthew, which was written in Hebrew letters (quod Hebraicis
Uteris scriptum), and which on returning to Alexandria he brought with
him."(2) It is quite clear that this was no version specially made by
Bartholomew, for had he translated the Gospel according to Matthew from
the Greek, for the use of persons in Arabia, he certainly would not have
done so into Hebrew.(3) Origen, according to Eusebius, "following the
ecclesiastical canon," states what he has understood from tradition

of the Gospels, and says: "The first written was that according to
Matthew, once a publican, but afterwards an Apostle of Jesus Christ,
who delivered it to the Jewish believers, composed in the Hebrew
language."(4) Eusebius in another place makes a similar statement in
his own name: "Matthew having first preached to the Hebrews when he
was about to go also to others, delivered to them his Gospel written
in their native language, and thus compensated those from whom he was
departing for the want of his presence by the writing."(5) Cyril of
Jerusalem says: "Matthew, who wrote the Gospel, wrote it in the Hebrew
language."(6) Epiphanius, referring to the fact that the Nazarenes
called the only Gospel which they


recognized the "Gospel according to the Hebrews," continues: "As in very
truth we can affirm that Matthew alone in the New Testament set
forth and proclaimed the Gospel in the Hebrew language and in Hebrew
characters;"(1) and elsewhere he states that "Matthew wrote the
Gospel in Hebrew."(2) The same tradition is repeated by Chrysostom,(3)
Augustine,(4) and others.

Whilst the testimony of the Fathers was thus unanimous as to the fact
that the Gospel ascribed to Matthew was originally written in Hebrew, no
question ever seems to have arisen in their minds as to the character of
the Greek version; much less was any examination made with the view of
testing the accuracy of the translation. "Such inquiries were not in
the spirit of Christian learned men generally of that time,"(5) as
Tischendorf remarks in connection with the belief current in the early
Church, and afterwards shared by Jerome, that the Gospel according to
the Hebrews was the original of the Greek Gospel according to Matthew.
The first who directly refers to the point, frankly confessing the total
ignorance which generally prevailed, was Jerome. He states: "Matthew,
who was also called Levi, who from a publican became an Apostle, was
the first who wrote a Gospel of Christ in Judæa in Hebrew language
and letters, on account of those from amongst the circumcision who had
believed; but who afterwards translated it into Greek is not


sufficiently certain."(1) It was only at a much later period, when doubt
began to arise, that the translation was wildly ascribed to the Apostles
John, James, and others.(3)

The expression in Papias that "everyone interpreted them (the [--Greek--])
as he was able" [--Greek--] has been variously interpreted by different
critics, like the rest of the account. Schleier-macher explained the
[--Greek--] as translation by enlargement: Matthew merely collected the
Xoyta ([--Greek--]), and everyone added the explanatory circumstances of
time and occasion as best he could.(3) This view, however, has not
been largely adopted. Others consider that the expression refers to the
interpretation which was given on reading it at the public meetings of
Christians for worship,(4) but there can be no doubt that, coming after
the statement that the work was written in the Hebrew dialect, [--Greek--]
can only mean simple translation.(5) Some maintain that the passage
infers the existence of many written translations, amongst which very
probably was ours;(6) whilst others affirm that the phrase merely
signifies that as there was no recognized


translation, each one who had but an imperfect knowledge of the
language, yet wished to read the work, translated the Hebrew for himself
orally as best he could.(1) Some consider that Papias or the Presbyter
use the verb in the past tense, [--Greek--], as contrasting the time when
it was necessary for each to interpret as best he could with the period
when, from the existence of a recognized translation, it was no longer
necessary for them to do so;(2) whilst others deny that any written
translation of an authentic character was known to Papias at all.(3)
Now the words in Papias are merely: "Matthew composed the Xoyta in the
Hebrew dialect,(4) and everyone interpreted them as he was able." The
statement is perfectly simple and direct, and it is at least quite clear
that it conveys the fact that when the work was composed, translation
was requisite, and as each one translated "as he was able," that no
recognized translation existed to which all might have recourse. There
is no contrast either necessarily or, we think, probably implied in
the use of the past tense. The composition of the Xoyta being of course
referred to in the

     4  In connection with this it may be of interest to remember
     that, in the account of his conversion and the vision which
     he saw on his way to Damascus which Paul gives to King
     Agrippa in the Acts of the Apostles, he states that Jesus
     spoke to him "in the Hebrew dialect" [--Greek--], Acts xxvi.


past tense, the same tense is simply continued in completing the
sentence. The purpose is obviously to convey the fact that the work was
composed in the Hebrew language. But even if it be taken that Papias
intentionally uses the past tense in reference to the time when
translations did not exist, nothing is gained, Papias may have known of
many translations, but there is absolutely not a syllable which warrants
the conclusion that Papias was acquainted with an authentic Greek
version, although it is possible that he may have known of the existence
of some Greek translations of no authority. The words used, however,
imply that, if he did, he had no respect for any of them.

Thus the account of Papias, supported by the perfectly unanimous
testimony of the Fathers, declares that the work composed by Matthew
was written in the Hebrew or Aramaic dialect. The only evidence which
asserts that Matthew wrote any work at all, distinctly asserts that he
wrote it in Hebrew. It is quite impossible to separate the statement
of the authorship from the language. The two points are so indissolubly
united that they stand or fall together. If it be denied that Matthew
wrote in Hebrew, it cannot be asserted that he wrote at all. It is
therefore perfectly certain from this testimony that Matthew cannot be
declared the direct author of the Greek canonical Gospel bearing his
name.(1) At the very best it can only be a translation, by an unknown
hand, of a work the original of which was early lost. None of the
earlier Fathers ever ventured a conjecture as to how, when, or by
whom the translation was effected. Jerome explicitly states that the
translator of the work was unknown. The


deduction is clear: our Greek Gospel, in so far as it is associated with
Matthew at all, cannot at the utmost be more than a translation, but as
the work of an unknown translator, there cannot, in the absence of the
original, or of satisfactory testimony of its accuracy, bo any assurance
that the translation faithfully renders the work of Matthew, or
accurately conveys the sense of the original. All its Apostolical
authority is gone. Even Michaelis long ago recognized this: "If the
original text of Matthew be lost, and we have nothing but a Greek
translation: then, frankly, we cannot ascribe any divine inspiration to
the words: yea, it is possible that in various places the true meaning
of the Apostle has been missed by the translator."(1) This was felt
and argued by the Manicheans in the fourth century,(2) and by the
Anabaptists at the time of the Reformation.(3) A wide argument might
be opened out as to the dependence of the other two Gospels on this
unauthenticated work.

The dilemma, however, is not yet complete. It was early remarked that
our first Canonical Gospel bore no real marks of being a translation at
all, but is evidently an original independent Greek work. Even men like
Erasmus, Calvin, Cajctan, and Oecolampadius, began to deny the statement
that our Gospels showed any traces of Hebrew origin, and the researches
of later scholars have so fully confirmed their doubts that few now
maintain the primitive belief in a translation. We do not propose here
to enter fully into this argument. It is sufficient to say that the
great majority of competent critics declare that our first Canonical
Gospel is no translation, but an


original Greek text;(1) whilst of those who consider that they find
traces of translation and of Hebrew origin,


some barely deny the independent originality of the Greek Gospel, and
few assert more than substantial agreement with the original, with more
or less variation and addition often of a very decided character.(1) The
case, therefore, stands thus: The whole of the evidence which warrants
our believing that Matthew wrote any


work at all, distinctly, invariably, and emphatically asserts that he
wrote that work in Hebrew or Aramaic; a Greek Gospel, therefore, as
connected with Matthew, can only be a translation by an unknown hand,
whose accuracy we have not, and never have had, the means of verifying.
Our Greek Gospel, however, being an independent original Greek text,
there is no ground whatever for ascribing it even indirectly to Matthew
at all, the whole evidence of antiquity being emphatically opposed, and
the Gospel itself laying no claim, to such authorship.

One or other of these alternatives must be adopted for our first Gospel,
and either is absolutely fatal to its direct Apostolic origin. Neither
as a translation from the Hebrew nor as an original Greek text can it
claim Apostolic authority. This has been so well recognized, if not
admitted, that some writers, with greater zeal than discretion, have
devised fanciful theories to obviate the difficulty. These maintain that
Matthew himself wrote both in Hebrew and in Greek,(1) or at least that
the translation was made during his own lifetime and under his own
eye,(2) and so on. There is not, however, a particle of evidence for any
of these assertions, which


are merely the arbitrary and groundless conjectures of embarrassed

It is manifest that upon this evidence both those who assert the Hebrew
original of Matthew's work and those who maintain that our Gospel is not
a translation but an original Greek composition, should logically deny
its apostolicity. We need not say that this is not done, and that for
dogmatic and other foregone conclusions many profess belief in the
Apostolic authorship of the Gospel, although in doing so they wilfully
ignore the facts, and in many cases merely claim a substantial but not
absolute Apostolic origin for the work.(1) A much greater number of the
most able and learned critics, however, both from external and internal
evidence deny the Apostolic origin of our first Canonical Gospel.(3)


There is another fact to which we may briefly refer, which from another
side shows that the work of Matthew


with which Papias was acquainted was different from our Gospel. In a
fragment from the fourth book of his lost work which is preserved to us
by Oecumenius and Theophylact, Papias relates the circumstances of the
death of Judas Iscariot in a manner which is in contradiction to the
account in the first Gospel. In Matthew xxvii. 5, the death of the
traitor is thus related: "And he cast down the pieces of silver in the
temple and departed and went and hanged himself."(1) The narrative in
Papias is as follows: "Judas walked about in this world a great example
of impiety; for his body having swollen so that, on an occasion, when
a waggon was moving on its way, he could not pass it, he was crushed
by the waggon and his bowels gushed out."(2) Theophylact, in connection
with this passage, adds other details also apparently taken from the
work of Papias, as for instance that, from his excessive corpulency, the
eyes of Judas were so swollen that they could not see, and so sunk in
his head that they could not be perceived even by the aid of the optical
instruments of physicians; and that the rest of his body was covered
with running sores and maggots, and so on in the manner of the early
Christian ages, whose imagination conjured up the wildest "special


providences" to punish the enemies of the faith.(1) As Papias expressly
states that he eagerly inquired what the Apostles, and amongst them
what Matthew, said, we may conclude that he would not have deliberately
contradicted the account given by that Apostle had he been acquainted
with any work attributed to him which contained it.(2)

It has been argued, from some very remote and imaginary resemblance
between the passage from the preface to the work of Papias quoted by
Eusebius with the prologue to Luke, that Papias was acquainted with that
Gospel;(3) but nothing could be more groundless than such a conclusion
based upon such evidence, and there is not a word in our fragments of
Papias which warrants such an assertion.(4) Eusebius, who never fails
to state what the Fathers say about the works of the New Testament, does
not mention that Papias knew either the third or fourth Gospels. Is
it possible to suppose that if Papias had been acquainted with those
Gospels he would not have asked for information about them from the
Presbyters, or that Eusebius would not have recorded it as he did that
regarding the works ascribed to Matthew and Mark? Eusebius states,
however, that Papias "made use of testimonies from the first Epistle of
John and, likewise, from that of Peter."(5) As Eusebius,


however, does not quote the passages from Papias, we must remain in
doubt whether he did not, as elsewhere, assume from some similarity of
wording that the passages were quotations from these Epistles, whilst
in reality they might not be. Andrew, a Cappadocian bishop of the fifth
century, mentions that Papias, amongst others of the Fathers, considered
the Apocalypse inspired.(1) No reference is made to this by Eusebius,
but although from his Millenarian tendencies it is very probable that
Papias regarded the Apocalypse with peculiar veneration as a prophetic
book, this evidence is too vague and isolated to be of much value.

We find, however, that Papias, like Hegesippus and others of the
Fathers, was acquainted with the Gospel according to the Hebrews.(2)
Eusebius says: "He (Papias) has likewise related another history of a
woman accused of many sins before the Lord, which is contained in the
Gospel according to the Hebrews."(3) This is generally believed to
be the episode inserted in the later MSS. of the fourth Gospel, viii.

Whatever books Papias knew, however, it is certain, from his own express
declaration, that he ascribed little importance to them, and preferred
tradition as a more beneficial source of information regarding
evangelical history. "For I held that what was to be derived from


books," he says, "did not so profit me as that from the living and
abiding voice."(1) If, therefore, it could even have been shown that
Papias was acquainted with any of our Canonical Gospels, it must at
the same time have been admitted that he did not recognize them as
authoritative documents. It is manifest from the evidence adduced,
however, that Papias did not know our Gospels. It is not possible that
he could have found it better to inquire "what John or Matthew, or
what any other of the disciples of the Lord... say" if he had known of
Gospels such as ours, and believed them to have been actually written by
those Apostles, deliberately telling him what they had to say. The
work of Matthew which he mentions being, however, a mere collection
of discourses of Jesus, he might naturally inquire what the Apostle(2)
himself said of the history and teaching of the Master. The evidence of
Papias is in every respect most important. He is the first writer who
mentions that Matthew and Mark were believed to have written any works
at all; but whilst he shows that he does not accord any canonical
authority even to the works attributed to them, his description of those
works and his general testimony comes with crushing force against
the pretensions made on behalf of our Gospels to Apostolic origin and

     2  We may merely remark that Papias does not call the
     Matthew who wrote the[--Greek--] an Apostle. In this passage he
     speaks of the Apostle, but he does not distinctly identify
     him with the Matthew of the other passage.


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