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advise Seneca to take convenient opportunities of insinuating the Christian religion, and things in favour of it, to Nero and his family; than which nothing can be a more manifest contradiction.
Similar gross and glaring contradictions occur in the Gospel of Nicodemus. To instance only in one or two, which are very notorious In chap. ii. 14. the twelve men, Eliezer, Asterius, Antonius, &c. who declare themselves to be no proselytes, but born Jews; when Pilate tendered them an oath, and would have had them swear by the life of Cæsar, refused, because, they say, we have a law that forbids our swearing, and makes it sinful to swear; yet in chap. iv. 7. the elders, scribes, priests and Levites, are brought in swearing by the life of Cæsar without any scruple; and in chap. xii. 23, they make others, who were Jews, swear by the God of Israel; and Pilate gives an oath to a whole assembly of the scribes, chief-priests, &c. chap. xii. 3. This seems a manifest contradiction. Another is, that in chap. xi. 15, Pilate is introduced as making a speech to the Jews, in which he gives a true and just ab
is supposed to be and not to be at Rome at the same time, which is a manifest contradiction. Besides this contradiction, the very dating of their letters by consulships seems to be no small evidence of their spuriousness, because it was a thing utterly unknown that any persons ever did so; nor does one such instance occur in the Epistles of Seneca, Cicero, or any other writer. To which we may add, that, in these letters, there are several mistakes in the names of the consuls who are mentioned; which clearly prove that these epistles could not have been written by Paul and Seneca. Another circumstance which proves the epistles ascribed to the Apostle to be a gross forgery, is, that the latter is introduced as entreating Seneca not to venture to say any thing more concerning him or the Christian religion to Nero, lest he should offend him. Now it is utterly improbable that Paul would obstruct Seneca in his intentions of recommending Christianity to the Emperor Nero; and it is directly contrary to his known and constant zeal and endeavours for its propagation. Would he not rather have rejoiced in so probable an opportunity of spread-stract of the Old Testament history ing the knowledge of Christ, and by the means of one so near to, and so much in favour with, the emperor, have procured the liberty for himself and the other Christian converts of exercising their religion freely? To imagine the contrary is to suppose the Apostle at once defective in his regards to himself and the whole body of Christians, and acting in direct contradiction to the whole of his conduct, and zealous endeavours to advance the interest of Christianity.
But, besides, it has happened here, as commonly in such cases, want of memory betrays the forgery: although the author, so unlike Paul, in this place wishes not to discover the Christian religion to the emperor, yet in another epistle, viz. the sixth of Paul, he is made to
relating to the Israelites, viz. what God had done for them, and how they had behaved themselves to him. Whereas the same Pilate, chap. xxiii. 2, is made to be perfectly ignorant of the Bible, and only to have heard by report that there was such a book; nor can it be said, that Pilate here only refers to the Bible kept in the Temple; for the manner of speech shews he was ignorant of the contents of the book; "I have heard you have a certain book," &c. and this is indeed in itself very probable. Further, this book contains many things contrary to known truths. Such is indeed the whole of it, except what is taken out of our present genuine Gospels. Who, for instance, will credit the long story chap. xv.-xviii. of Christ's going
down to hell, and all the romantic fabulous relations of what happened in consequence of it? Who will believe that Christ there signed Adam and the Patriarchs with the sign of the cross; and that all the holy Patriarchs were in hell till that time? &c. Besides, in other places, there are notorious falsehoods; as that is, to make the Jews understand our Saviour, as saying that he would destroy Solo. mon's Temple, chap. iv. 4. which they could not but know had been destroyed several hundred years before;-to make the name Centurio to be the proper name of a man who came to Christ, when it is certain it was the name of his post or office, &c.;-to make the words of Paul, 1 Cor. xv. 55, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? to be the words of Isaiah, chap. xxi.; and to make Simeon (chap. xvi. and xvii.) to be a high-priest, which it is certain he was not.
7. The striking contrast between truth and falsehood is naturally heightened, when those passages come under consideration which are borrowed from the genuine Scriptures, and, with more or less deviation from the original, adapted to the purposes of the apocryphal writers. Thus, the simple fact contained in Matt. i. 19. is expanded through a chapter and a half of the Prot-evangelion. Again; the plain narrative of Luke ii. 16. is not thought sufficient for the great event which was just before related, and accordingly it is thus improved in the Gospel of the Infancy:"After this, when the shepherds came, and had made a fire, and they were exceedingly rejoicing, the heavenly host appeared to them, praising and adoring the supreme God; and as the shepherds were engaged in the same employment, the cave at that time seemed like a glorious temple, because both the tongues of angels and men united to adore and magnify God, on account of the birth of the Lord
Christ. But when the old Hebrew woman saw all these evident miracles, she gave praises to God, and said, I thank thee, O God, thou God of Israel, for that mine eyes have seen the birth of the Saviour of the world."-The short and interesting account which is given by the genuine Evangelist at the end of the same chapter, is considered by the author of a spurious Gospel, as by no means adequate to the great dignity of our Saviour's character, nor calculated to satisfy the just curiosity of pious Christians. We are therefore informed, that Jesus, in his conference with the doctors in the temple, after explaining the books of the law, and unfolding the mysteries contained in the prophetical writings, exhibited a knowledge no less profound of astronomy, medicine, and natural history. Hence, too, in
Gospel of the Infancy (li. lii. of Fabricius), xx. xxi. of Apoc. New Testament, pp. 39-41. The latter part is so curious, and forms such a contrast to
the sober narrative of the sacred historians, and indeed of all serious history, that it may be well to transcribe it as certain astronomer, who was present, an illustrative specimen." When a asked the Lord Jesus, whether he had studied astronomy: the Lord Jesus replied, and told him the number of the spheres and heavenly bodies, as also their triangular, square, and sextile aspect; their progressive and retrograde motion; their size and several prognostications; and other things, which the reason of man had never discovered. There was also among them a philosopher well skilled in physic and natural philosophy, who asked the Lord Jesus, whether he had studied physic,' He replied, and explained to him physics and metaphysics, also those things which were above and below the power of
also of the body, its
humours and their effects; also the number of its members and bones, veins, arteries, and nerves; the several constitutions of body, hot and dry, cold and moist, and the tendencies of them; how the soul operated upon the body; what its various sensations and faculties were; the faculty of speaking, anger, desire; and lastly, the manner of its
the Gospel attributed to Nicodemus, the particulars of our Saviour's trial are enumerated most fully, the testimony of the witnesses both for and against him is given at large, and the expostulations of Pilate with the Jews are recorded with a minuteness equal to their imagined importance. And as, in the genuire history of these transactions, the Roman governor is reported to have put a question of considerable moment, to which our Saviour vouchsafed no answer, or at least the Evangelists have not recorded it, these falsifiers have thought proper to supply so essential a defect. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? Jesus said, Truth is from heaven. Pilate said, Therefore truth is not on earth? Jesus saith unto Pilate, Believe that truth is on earth among those, who, when they have the power of judgment, are governed by truth, and form right judg
In the Prot-evangelion, there are not fewer than twelve circumstances stolen from the canonical books; and in the Gospel of the Birth of Mary, six circumstances; and by far the greater part of the pretended Gospel of Nicodemus is transcribed and stolen from other books. Nothing can be more evident to any one who is acquainted with the sacred books, and has read this Gospel, than that a great part of it is borrowed and stolen from them. Every such person must perceive, that the greatest part of the history of our Saviour's trial is taken out of our present Gospels, not only because it is a relation of the same facts and circumstances, but also in the very same words and order for the most part; and though this may be supposed to have happened accidentally, yet it
compositon and dissolution; and other things, which the understanding of no creature had ever reached. Then that philosopher arose, and worshipped the Lord Jesus, and said, O Lord Jesus, from henceforth I will be thy disciple
is next to impossible to suppose a constant likeness of expression, not only to one, but sometimes to one and sometimes to another of our Evangelists. In short, the author seems to have designed a sort of abstract or compendium of all which he found most considerable to his purpose in our four Gospels ; though he has but aukwardly put it together.
But the most flagrant instance, perhaps, of fraudulent copying from the canonical books, is to be found in the pretended Epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans, almost every verse of which is taken from the great Apostle's genuine writings, as appears from the collation in Mr. Jones's work on the Canon.
8. Lastly, as the credibility of the genuine books of the New Testament is established by the accounts of countries, governors, princes, people, &c. therein contained, by their being confirmed by the relations of contemporary writers, both friends and enemies to Christians and Christianity (and especially by the relations of hostile writers); so the spuriousness of the pseudo-evangelical writings is demonstrated by their containing gross falsehoods, and statements which are contradicted by the narratives of those writers who were contemporary with the supposed authors of them.
Thus, in the fourth of Seneca's epistles to Paul, we read that the emperor (Nero) was delighted and surprised at the thoughts and sentiments in Paul's epistles to the churches; and in the fourth of Paul's epistles to the philosopher, that the the emperor is both an admirer and favourer of Christianity. These assertions are notoriously false, and contrary to the unanimous relations of heathen and Christian writers concerning Nero and his regard to the Christians. The Gospel of Mary contains at least two gross falsehoods and contradictions to historical fact; and not fewer seven equally glaring instances
exist in the pseudo-gospel or Protevangelion of James: six others occur in the two gospels of Christ's Infancy, which relate things notoriously contrary to the benevo lent design of Christ's miracles, and to his pure and holy doctrine, which prohibited revenge, and promoted universal charity and love. Lastly, for it would exceed the limits of this article (already perhaps too much extended) to specify all the absurd falsehoods contained in the spurious writings which we have been considering, the Acts of Paul and Thecla directly falsify the doctrines and practice of the Apostle, concerning the unlawfulness of marriage (which he is here said to have taught, though the reverse is evident to the most cursory reader of his Epistles); and concerning the preaching of women, Thecla being said to be commissioned by him to preach the Gospel, though it was not only contrary to the practice of both Jews and Gentiles, but also to St. Paul's positive commands in his genuine Epistles. But what proves the utter spurious ness of these Acts of Paul and Thecla, if any further proof were wanting, is the fact that Paul, whose life and writings bespeak him to have been a man of unimpeachable veracity, is introduced in them as uttering a wilful and deliberate false hood. That he is so introduced, is evident; for after an intimate acquaintance between Paul and Thecla, and their having taken a journey together to Antioch, he is presently made to deny her, and to tell Alexander, I know not the woman of whom you speak, nor does she belong to me. But how contrary this is to the known and true character of St. Paul, every one must see. He, who so boldly stood up for the defence of the Gospel against all sorts of opposition, who hazarded and suffered all things for the sake of God and a good conscience, which he endeavoured to keep void of offence to wards God and men, most unques
tionably never would so easily have been betrayed to so gross a crime, to make a sacrifice of the credit of his profession and the peace of his conscience at once upon so slight a temptation and provocation.
Having thus gone through the heads of his masterly and conclusive argument, Mr. Horne dismisses the subject with the following general reflections:
IV. From the preceding view of the evidence concerning the apocryphal productions, which have lately been reprinted, the candid reader will readily be enabled to perceive how little cause there is, lest the credibility and inspiration of the genuine books of the New Testament should be affected by them. So far indeed are these books from militating, in any degree,against the evangelical history, that, on the contrary, they most decidedly corroborate it: for they are written in the names of those whom our authentic Scriptures state to have been Apostles and companions of Apostles; and they all suppose the dignity of our Lord's person, and that a power of working miracles, together with a high degree of authority, was conveyed by him to his Apostles. It ought also to be recollected that few, if any, of these books were composed before the beginning of the second century. As they were not composed before that time, they might well refer (as most of them certainly do) to the commonly received books of the New Testament: and therefore, instead of invalidating the credit of those sacred books, they really bear testimony to them. All these books are not properly spurious; that is, ascribed to authors who did not compose them: but, as they were not composed by Apostles, nor at first ascribed to them, they may with great propriety be termed apocryphal; for they have in their titles the names of Apostles, and they make a specious pretence of
delivering a true history of their doctrines, discourses, miracles and travels, though that history is not true and authentic, and was not written by any apostle or apostolical man. Further, we may account for the publication of these apocryphal or pseudepigraphal books, as they were unquestionably owing to the fame of Christ and his Apostles, and the great success of their ministry. And in this respect the case of the Apostles of Jesus Christ is not singular: many men of distinguished characters have had discourses made for them, of which they knew nothing, and actions imputed to them which they never performed; and eminent writers have had works ascribed to them of which they were not the authors. Thus, various orations were falsely ascribed to Demosthenes and Lysias; many things were published in the names of Plautus, Virgil, and Horace, which never were composed by them. The Greek and Roman critics distinguished between the genuine and spurious works of those illustrious writers. The same laudable caution and circumspection were exercised by the first Christians, who did not immediately receive every thing that was proposed to them, but admitted nothing as canonical that did not bear the test of being the genuine production of the sacred. writer with whose name it was inscribed, or by whom it professed to have been written.
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.
THE declaration of St. Paul, Rom.
competent judges unfounded in point of criticism.
I have looked into all the commentators cited by the Critici Sacri; but none of them appears to me to furnish a satisfactory solution of the difficulty. Some of these learned writers consider the Apostle's phrase as a deliberate declaration that he could wish, if possible, to be himself cut off from everlasting happiness for the sake of his countrymen. Others reject this notion as too monstrous to be entertained, and explain his meaning in a lower sense of suffering contempt like that to which an excommunicated person is exposed. Many, perhaps the majority, of readers look upon the sentence simply as an hyperbole, comparing it with the expression of Moses, when, with like zeal for his brethren, he wished that God would blot him out of his book; but I do not find it easy to bring my imagination to admit of such an extraordinary boldness of assertion as, if it had been first conceived in our own times, and expressed in our language, would have appeared to border on impiety.
The most satisfactory explanation to my own mind, is the common one adopted by various eminent writers and commentatorsamong others, Scott and Doddridge -that the Apostle wished himself made a curse "after the manner of Christ" (añо тоν XρισTOν), who was made a curse for us; that is, he could be content to submit to the same ignominy and personal suffering. This rendering is usually supported by a reference to 2 Tim. i. 3. "thanks where the same Apostle God, whom he serves (αTо п) from his forefathers;" that is, after the manner of their religion, or after their example. Many good biblical scholars, however, entertain doubts whether the two passages can be deemed parallel.
Without discussing this point at present, allow me to suggest an interpretation which I believe has