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Hermann Marcus Kottinger.

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in the United States may be finished by the following statements of
two of its most powerful leaders : " Free religious movement led
on by cultivated and earnest minds, like Frothingham, Abbott and
Higginson, is gaining strength rapidly, and shows how dissatisfied
the people are with the creeds of the churches. Materialism is the
belief of no small number in this country. The American litera-
ture is comparatively liberal. Indeed, its infidel tendencies are the
lament of the pulpit and religious press. The great majority of
professional men are undoubtedly Free-thinkers. The public advo-
cates of Free Thought now speak in the best halls and to larger
audiences in the West than the clergy can get to hear their sermons,
and the liberal cause is gaining strength every day." — B. F. Under-



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wood, "the influence of Christianity on civilization." "The
Americans are disgusted by theological questions. Christian dog-
mas are discredited ; the churches contain more unbelievers than
believers, more Non-Christians and Anti-Christians, than Christ-
ians. Preaching is giving place to lecturing ; the pulpit has been
taken down ; science alone is permitted to speak with authority ;
literature, journalism, politics, trade, attract young men that once
sought ministry. The destructive Period has about passed by ;
the constructive Period has begun : to build up the religion of
Reason and Humanity." — O. B. Frothingham.



THE END.






SECTION SECOND.



Biblical Narratives and Their
Criticism.



'* You first teach children that a certain book is true — that it was written by
God himself — that should they die without believing the book, they will be
forever damned. The consequence is that long before they read that book, they
believe it to be true." — Robert Ingersoll, " The Gods.''''



CHAPTER FIRST.



NARRATIVES FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT.



1. The Author of the Mosaic Documents.

Those five books which, in former times, were attributed to Moses, cannot be
his work ; for :

1. Jehovah warns the Israelites against idolatry (3 Mos., i8, 28), saying:
*• Lest the land spit out you, too, as it has spit out the people who were before
you." By these words the Canaanites are signified, who have been exterminated
by the Israelites, when they occupied Canaan. Now, the Israelites did not
conquer this country until after the death of Moses ; therefore history contra-
dicts the above quoted passage, which, then, cannot have been written by Moses.

2. The author reports that Sarah, Abraham's wife, died in the town of Arba,
and adds : " That is Hebron.'' The name "Hebron" was given to the town
of Arba in a much later time, when the Israelites had already conquered the
country.

3. In the fifth book, Moses, standing upon the mount Nebo, looks over the
whole country (?), over Gilead as far as Dan, over the whole Naphthali, and
Ephraim, and Manasse, and the country of Juda. But these countries did not
receive those names until the tribes who bore them had conquered those lands ;
which conquest also not occurred until after the death of Moses.

4. In the fifth book, Moses himself relates where and in what manner he
has died, and has been buried, namely : " And Moses ascended the mount
Nebo, in the country of Moab, and died \\\G.xit. And Jehovah buried him in the
valley, and nobody knows where his grave is till to this day." Can a dead man
relate the events of hi;5 own life ?



88

5. The idiom in which these books are written, is almost the same as that
which was used by the Jews in the time of the Babylonian captivity ; from
Moses until that epoch, almost one thousand years have elapsed ; in such a large
space of time a language suffers many considerable changes ; therefore the idiom
of the books of Moses cannot be that which in his time was used by the
Israelites.

6. These books have been written with Hebrew characters ; but Moses had
in Egypt only learnt the use of hieroglyphics ; the art of writing with letters
was invented in much later times. Now, if these books have not been composed
by Moses himself, but many centuries after his death, the narrations contained
therein, even by this reason, incur much suspicion.

2. The History of the Creation— Adam and Eve.

The creation of the world is related in the first chapter of the books of Moses,
in the following manner: "In the beginning God (the Elohim, the gods)
created the heaven and the earth. The earth was desert and void, and darkness
upon the face of the deep (of the ocean) ; the spirit of God (the wind) moved
upon the face of the waters, and God said: ' It shall be light!' And it zvas
light." The second day God created the celestial vault ; the third he separated
the water from the earth ; the dry land and the sea appeared. Moreover God
bade grass to sprout, and trees to grow. The fourth day he created the sun, the
moon and the stars ; the fifth, the fish and birds ; the sixth the other animals
and the man ; " he created one male and one female man." The seventh day he
rested himself from all his works, and sanctified it.

By the author of the history of creation the earth is deemed to be the centre
of the universe, and the world proper; the sun and the other celestial bodies
are considered by him only as an addition to the earth, '* great and small lights,"
created in order to illuminate it. He puts the great and small light with the
stars, like fixed points on the celestial vault, which he imagines to be solid. Such
a puerile notion is not adapted to the doctrine of astronomy, which teaches us that
some celestial bodies equal the size of the earth, other surpass it by far, e. g., the
diameter of the sun is 1 12 times greater than that of the earth, and if it were a
hollow globe, the earth could within turn around its centre, and would yet be so
far distant from the hull of the sun as the moon from the earth. One million of
terrestrial globes could be made out of the sun. (Cf. Views of the Univ., § 4.)
The sun determines by its irresistible attractive power the orbit in which the
earth must move ; it is to the earth the fountain of light and heat ; it adorns her
flowers with their gorgeous colors; it is the source of all life and growth, on
earth. The author, also, contradicts himself, for he tells us that it has become
light already on the first day, consequently before the sun was created. What
man of good sense can believe that there was a first, second, and third day, and
that every one of these days had a night, while there were not yet a sun, nor a
moon, nor stars ?



The Creator performs his work in a human, though more perfect manner ; he is
humanized. We know, again, from the scientific view of the universe, that the
earth has not been transformed and organized in six days, for geology proves
that probably millions of years have elapsed before our planet has attained its
present state of evolution. The single periods of terrestrial formation were by
no means the duration of only one day ; but it can easily be seen why the
author gets the whole work of creation done in six days ; he wanted to point
out the seventh day as the Sabbath, to-wit, as the day which ought to be sacred
to the Jews.

Man is represented as the final aim of the whole creation, and nature as his
servant. With regard to his creation, in the second chapter another narrative
follows, which directly contradicts the former. While the first report says that
first the plants, then the animals, finally two men, and both at the same time,
were created ; in the second tale first the man, then the plants and animals, and
after them the wife were created ; consequently man and wife were not created
on the same day. Namely, after the creation of man, Jehovah first creates the
animals according to their several classes and species, and introduces them to
Adam. As this does not find any helpmate among them, Jehovah let him fall in
a profound sleep, takes during it a rib out of Adam's body, closes the place with
flesh again, and makes from the rib the wife. How absurd is this fiction ! But
the author would explain by it that the woman is not the equal of man, but des-
tinated already by her origin to be dependent on him. The inhabitants of
Greenland even narrate that the wife has been formed from man's thumb. Both
reports of the creation evidently have been written by two different authors.
The names of the primitive parents are also fictitious ; for the word " Adam " in
Hebrew denotes only " man," to-wit : the progenitor of mankind, and " Eve "
the mother of the living.

3. The Garden in Eden.

Jehovah planted in the paradise, called Eden (deliciousness), a garden towards
the East, therein was a stream, from which four others arose, flowing in the di-
rection of the four quarters of heaven. Jehovah put Adam, and latei Eve, too,
in it ; there they were to reside. Jehovah got several fine fruit-trees growing in
the garden ; in its centre were the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil. Jehovah ordered Adam and his wife to cultivate the garden, and
permitted them to eat every fruit but that of the tree of knowledge of good
and evil, threatening them that they had to die if they trespassed his command.

But the serpent told thom that Jehovah had forbidden them the fruit, only
because he knew that, after they had eaten it, their eyes would be opened and
they, like himself, would also know what is good and evil. The wife felt a
great desire for the forbidden fruit ; she ate and gave also a share to the husband,
who also ate. Then their eyes were opened, they saw that they were naked,



90

sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. Jehovah innicts hard
punishments upon them all. The serpent shall (so he said) henceforth he cursed
above all animals, creep upon the belly, live with man in enmity, and always
eat dust. The wife shall suffer many hardships on account ot her children, and
be ruled by her husband. Adam shall cultivate the soil in the sweat of his face,
and return to earth and dust. And lest they also might eat from the tree of life,
and live eternally, he expelled them from Eden, and placed in the East the
Cherubim, and a flaming sword, which turned every way, in order to watch the
access of the tree of life.

This myth contams a poetic explanation of the origin of the evil in the world.
The author finds it in man's transition from the state of childlike ignorance into
the life of culture. He derived his legend from the religious books of the
Arians and Hindoos. The latter have in their mythology also four universal
torrents, flowing from the mountain of their gods : that was certainly situated in
the highland of Tibet, from which streams in all directions come down, the
Oxus and Jaxartes in the West, the Indus, Ganges and Bramaputra in the South,
the Yangtsekiang and Hoangho in the East. In the Zend Avesta it is told that
the God of Light (Ormuzd) has also planted a beautiful garden ; there neither
quarrels rule, nor frauds, neither begging, nor poverty, nor disease, but men
enjoy the happiest life. The God of Darkness (Arihman) also created in the
world of sin a large serpent, which is called his serpent ; he is even called him-
self the serpent, and he is full of death, to wit : the cause death and every evil.

The meaning of the myth is this : The Old Testament calls the ignorance of the
good and evil the state of infancy. Knowledge begins only with the progress of age
The author compares that state with the life of culture ; he imagines the former
to be abundant of happiness, this full of misery for both, the man and the woman
the first men lost that happy state, when they ate the forbidden fruit, for they ob
tained thereby the knowledge of the good and evil. Trees are made representa
tives of knowledge and immortality, because their fruits have a refreshing vigor
in the hot Orient people long for them even more than in cold countries. Es
pecially children like fruit. In the Avesta, too, a tree of immortality is men-
tioned.

The Cherubim were probably originally thunder clouds, and their fulminating
swords the lightnings. For Jehovah is the god of thunder who rides on Cheru-
bim (Psr.lm 1 8). In later times they attributed them a shape composed frorn
man, bull, eagle and lion, and still now-a-days bulls and lions with human heads
are found among the ruins of Ninive. The Cherubim reminds us of the Egypt-
ian sphinxes (lions with human heads), who were placed at the entries of the
temples, as if to guaid them.

Jehovah appenrs in this myth as an envious being, which grudged man im-
mortality, and therefore ordered the Cherubim to guard the Paradise. The feat-
ures of this Jehovah, according to Ihe legend, are very human, e. g., when he al.
together searches and calls Adam, he does not know where he is hidden ; he



91

takes a rib from man's belly ; takes an evening walk in the cool garden, is con-
versing with Adam, makes for him and Eve coats of skins, etc. It is probable
that this fiction took origin at the time of the captivity of the Israelites ; at the
epoch of Moses they had not yet any intercourse with the Orient.

4. The Great Deluge.

As God sees that people had turned wicked, he resolves to destroy them by an
universal inundation ; only to Noah and his family he is merciful. He orders
Noah to build a large vessel, 300 cubits long, 50 wide and 30 high, to put in it
all species of animals of the earth, and to go on its board himself with his
family. Then the deluge begins, for it rains forty days and nights ; the water
covers even the highest mountains, and towers 15 cubits above them; one year,
after having commenced to rain, the earth is again dry. All men and animals
perish; finally the ark subsides on the mount Ararat, and Noah sends first a ravpn,
then a pigeon out, in order to see whether the floods had passed away. First
they return ; then they stay away. At the end of one year he leaves the ship
with his family, and the saved animals, and the earth is populated anew.

Never such a huge quantity of water could be on earth that it covered the
highest summits of mountains, of which some are known to be over 28,000 feet
high ; where could it have passed after the inundation? According to the author's
opinion, to the reservoirs of the fountains of ocean ; for he supposes that the
ocean receives its water in the same manner as rivers and brooks, from subter-
ranean fountains : an erroneous supposition ! How did Noah know that all
countries of the earth had been inundated ? And how does the author know
that the water has overtopped the highest mountains by 15 cubits ? The ark was
perhaps three times as large as now-a-days our great sea-ships, so that its hold
was not by far spacious enough to shelter all animals and their food. How could
Noah there assemble all animals, as they were dispersed all over the earth ?
Neither could all be fed on hay, as e. g., the carnivorous quadrupeds and the
rapacious birds. This myth also has two reporters. According to the one Noah
admitted but one couple of every genus of animals, and according to the other
seven couples of the clean animals, but only one of the unclean. One of these
reports must be wrong. The ark has hardly settled on the Ararat, for this name
was much later attributed to that mountain.

The whole story of the deluge probably originated in Chaldea or Hindoo-
stan, where the large rivers also often cause desolating inundations. The Chal-
deans and Hindoos have similar myths. The god Kronos reveals to the tenth
King of the Chaldeans that he would destroy the mankind by a great deluge.
He commands him to bury the extant documents, to build a ship, to enter it with
his relatives and with animals, etc. The King built the ship, 9,000 feet long,
and' 1, 200 feet wide, consequently about eighty times larger than Noah's ark. He
sends out birds, as the floods decrease, for the third time ; the ship stands firm
upon a mountain of Armenia. According to the myth of the Hindoos, Brahma



92

who arranges the deluge as a wet purgatory for the sinful man, bids M^ann to build
a ship, and to go on board with seven wise men, and with every kind of animals
and seeds. The flood covers the entire earth ; Brahma h'mself steers the ship,
and it finally rests upon the highest summit of the Himalaya mountains. There-
fore it is very likely that the Israelites have received their flood-myth eirher from
the Hindoos or from the Chaldeans, when they were living in the countries of
captivity. In this story, too, Jehovah shows himself in a very human form,
shutting even the door of the ark behind Noah with his own hands.

5. Abraham.

Ur, in Chaldea, is reported to be the primitive home of Abraham; therefore
he emigrated with his father and nephew Lot, to Canaan. He is wandering
through it with his numerons herds and servants, builds altars in several places,
and is dealt with by the neighboring chieftains partly in a friendly, and partly in
a hostile way. He migrated even to Egypt (according to the reporter), and after
his return he passed again through Canaan in all directions. The pasture
grounds are here represented as if being common property of the whole man-
kind. It looks as if all tribes had esteemed it an honor to receive the stranger
in their homes. Is it probable that no tribe has handled the intruder and his
three hundred servants in a hostile manner ? It is the apparent intention of the
author to let already Abraham take possession of the land for his nation
and his God, that the title of possession of the Israelites might appear
more valid. Therefore he lets Jehovah say to Abraham : " Rise and pass
through the land in all directions, for it is thy seed to which I will give it."
Abraham, then, seems also to be only a poetic figure, which also his primitive
name, " Abram," to wit, the high father, indicates ; for only in the sequel of the
narrative (l Mos., 17, 4) the form "Abraham" takes its place. The two
other primigenitors, Isaac and Jacob, are likely also nothing but mythical char-
acters.

The most important scene in Abraham's life is the offering of his son. He
rose (according to the 22d chapter) early in the morning, girdled his ass, took
two servants and his son Isaac, chopped wood for the sacrifice, and proceeded to
the place Jehovah had showed to him (to Moriah), The third day, as they
arrived there, he ordered the servants to remain behind, took the sacrificial
wood, put it on Isaac's shouUler, took the fire and the knife in
hand, and so they were proceeding. The boy said : " Father, there is
fire and wood, but where is the sheep for sacrifice ?'' Abraham replied :
" God will provide it." When they had arrived he built an altar, arranged the
wood, and crying : " The sacrifice art thou, my son !" He tied the boy, put him
on the altar over the wood, seized the knife, and lifted it up, reacdy to kill his
son. In this moment an angel called to him from heaven to spare the boy, be-
cause it was only the intention of Jehovah to try him. Abraham saw a ram,
whose horns were entangled in the thicket ; he seized and sacrificed the animal



93

instead of the boy. The principal meaning of this myth (for it is nothing more
than that) consists in the aim to advocate the abrogation of the sacrifice of the
first born sons, and in general, ot tUe sacrifices of infants ; for the use of human
sacrifices was common among the Israelites, and lasted till they were abducted
in captivity. In one form it was yet commanded even by the Mosaic law. In
which character appears here the Jewish Jehovah, who could expect such sacri-
fices from his adorers, and how barbarous must the fathers of that period have
been, who, like Abraham, were ready to sacrifice their children, or really offered
them!

A similar narration is found in the Greek mythology. The Greeks are as-
sembled in Aulis, in order to march to Troja; but for a long time the head
winds prevented them to set out. The priest Kalchas then announces that the
irritated goddess Diana has sent the calm, and that she demands Iphigenia,
daughter of King Agamemnon, to be sacrificed to her. The father delivers his
daughter, and the priest is already raising the knife, as the virgin is removed by
the goddess in a cloud, and on her place a hind appears, whom the Greeks
forthwith offer as a sacrifice. The abolition of human sacrifices was a most im-
portant progress in civilization.

6. The Egyptian Plagues, and the Emigration of the Israelites.

The Bible relates that Moses had received the order of Jehovah to conduct
the Isrealites from Egypt, and that Pharao (the King), could only by the
severest plagues be moved to grant them the exodus. The plagues were these :

1. Moses raising his staff over the Nile, changes the entire water of the
country to blood ; all fish, therefore, die therein. The Egyptian magicians im-
itate the miracle of Moses immediately, though all the water was before this

changed to blood, and animal life in it was extinct.

2. After seven days the whole country is covered with frogs, which penetrate
even all houses and beds. The sorcerers imitate also this miracle, although it
is difficult to understand where ony room for their frogs remained.

3. Aaron, the brother of Moses, turns all the dust of the earth into gnats,
which torment people and animals.

4. Crowds of flies spread over the entire country, and desolate it.

5. Jehovah sends a pest by which all animals of the Egyptians die, but none
of those of the Israelites.

6. Moses scatters ashes from the furnace in the air ; then blisters afflict men
and animals, even the sorcerers. Here the reporter forgets that the animals
have already perished by pestilence.

7. Hail destroys all products, and kills animals and men; but in the country
of Gosen, where the Israelites lived, not a single hailstone falls. The author
forgets again that he had made all the animals already twice to die, and that
before this the flies have desolated the whole country

8. So many locusts invade Egypt that they obscure the air, and devour all



94

the products that the hail had left. But the flies had already desolated the entire
land, and the hail had destroyed all products, consequently nothing more was
left lor the locusts.

Of. Egypt is during three days entirely covered with darkness, while it is
broad daylight in Gosen. The author does not know that the earth revolves
in twenty-four hours around its axis, and therefore day and night equally must
alternate everywhere.

lo. Lastly, in one night, all the first-born creatures die.

The author still relates that Jehovah had ordered the Israelites, immediately
before their departure from Egypt, to borrow golden and silver vessels from their
Egyptian friends, neighbors and inmates, and to rob them ir\, this way. This
order stains the sanctity and justice of the national God of the Jews with dark
spots. For the rest, it is right for us to ask, how such a defraudation was possi-
ble, as the Israelites lived far distant from the Egyptians, and were so much
hated by them that they hardly would have lent them their treasures.

At last Pharao permits the Israelites to leave, but soon again he changes his
mind, hastens after them with his army, and overtakes them as they cross the
Red Sea. It heaps up its floods like two walls, to the right and left hand, and
they pass it with dry feet ; the Egyptians follow them; at Jehovah's command
the billows are precipitated over them, and all are drowned. The author
imagines the bottom of the sea to be like an even street, without mud and
stones, rocks and monsters of the deep. The whole story aims, evidently, to repre-
sent Jehovah as the powerful national God of the Israelites, and was dictated to the
writer by hatred against their enemies. Its single incidents are so improbable
that likely no truth at all is at the bottom of them. To be sure, Moses has
never operated these miracles ; and presently they even doubt whether Moses
ever has lived. The history of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is the
national epoch of this nation.

7. Legislation on Mount Sinai— The Two Tablettes.

The grandest spectacle the Mosaic documents relate, is Jehovah's legislation ;
its stage was the mount Sinai ; in the fifth book the mount Horeb is named
instead of it; both are tops of the mountains which cover the southern part of
Arabia. Sinai, or Horeb, then, is the real mount of gods of the Israelites, like
the Olymp of the Greek gods, and like similar mountains of the Arians and
Hindoos. The author narrates: " Moses led the people forth from the camp in
the presence of God, and they drew near to the bottom of the mount." (A


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Online LibraryHermann Marcus KottingerThe youth's liberal guide for their moral culture and religious enlightenment → online text (page 18 of 28)