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this party was led by James and Peter and John (Galatians ii, 9).
Paul does not suggest that the question of principle was settled by the
discussion referred to in Galatians. All he says is that it ended in
the practical agreement that he and Barnabas should do as they had
been doing in respect of the Gentiles; while James and Peter and
John should deal in their own fashion with Jewish converts. After-
ward he complains bitterly of Peter, because, when on a visit to Anti-
och, he at first inclined to Paul's view, and ate with the Gentile
converts; but when " certain came from James," drew back, and sepa-
rated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision. And the
rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that even

* I guard myself against being supposed to affirm that even the four cardinal epistles of Paul
may not have been seriously tampered with. See note on page 57.



Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation" (Galatians ii,
12, 13).

There is but one conclusion to be drawn from Paul's account of
this famous dispute, the settlement of which determined the fortunes
of the nascent religion. It is that the disciples at Jerusalem, headed
by " James, the Lord's brother," and by the leading apostles, Peter
and John, were strict Jews, who objected to admit any converts to
their body, unless these, either by birth or by becoming proselytes,
were also strict Jews. In fact, the sole difference between James and
Peter and John, with the body of disciples whom they led, and the Jews
by whom they were surrounded, and with whom they for many years
shared the religious observances of the Temple, was that they believed
that the Messiah, whom the leaders of the nation yet looked for, had
already come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Acts of the Apostles is hardly a very trustworthy history ; it is
certainly of later date than the Pauline epistles, supposing them to be
genuine. And the writer's version of the conference of which Paul
gives so graphic a description, if that is correct, is unmistakably col-
ored with all the art of a reconciler, anxious to cover up a scandal.
But it is none the less instructive on this account. The judgment of
the " council " delivered by James is that the Gentile converts shall
merely " abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood and
from things strangled, and from fornication." But notwithstanding
the accommodation in which the writer of the Acts would have us
believe, the Jerusalem church held to its endeavor to retain the
observance of the law. Long after the conference, some time after the
writing of the Epistles to the Galatians and Corinthians, and imme-
diately after the dispatch of that to the Romans, Paul makes his last
visit to Jerusalem, and presents himself to James and all the elders.
And this is what the Acts tells us of the interview :

And they said unto him; Thou seest, brother, how many thousands (or myriads) there are
among the Jews of them which have believed ; and they are all zealous for the law : and they
have been informed concerning thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gen-
tiles to forsake Moses, tell them not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the cus-
toms (Acts xxi, 20, 21).

They therefore request that he should perform a certain public relig-
ious act in the Temple, in order that

all Bhall know that there is no truth in the things whereof they have been informed concerning
thee ; but that thou thyself walkest orderly, keeping the law (ibid., 24).

How far Paul could do what he is here requested to do, and which
the writer of the Acts goes on to say he did, with a clear conscience,
if he wrote the epistles to the Galatians and Corinthians, I may leave
any candid reader of those epistles to decide. The point to which I
wish to direct attention is the declaration that the Jerusalem church,
led by the brother of Jesus and by his personal disciples and friends,
twenty years and more after his death, consisted of strict and zealous

Tertullus, the orator, caring very little about the internal dissensions
of the followers of Jesus, speaks of Paul as a " ringleader of the sect
of the Nazarenes" (Acts xxiv, 5), which must have affected James
much in the same way as it would have moved the Archbishop of
Canterbury, in George Fox's day, to hear the latter called a " ring-
leader of the sect of Anglicans." In fact, " Nazarene " was, as is well
known, the distinctive appellation applied to Jesus ; his immediate
followers were known as Nazarenes, while the congregation of the dis-
ciples, and, later, of converts at Jerusalem the Jerusalem church



was emphatically the " sect of the Nazarenes," no more in itself to be
regarded as anything outside Judaism than the sect of the Sadducees
or of the Essenes.* In fact, the tenets of both the Sadducees and the
Essenes diverged much more widely from the Pharisaic standard of
orthodoxy than Nazarenism did.

Let us consider the position of affairs now (A. D. 50-60) in relation
to that which obtained in Justin's time, a century later. It is plain
that the Nazarenes presided over by James " the brother of the
Lord," and comprising within their body all the twelve apostles
belonged to Justin's second category of " Jews who observe the law,
believe Jesus to be the Christ, but who insist on the observance of the
law by Gentile converts," up till the time at which the controversy
reported by Paul arose. They then, according to Paul, simply allowed
him to form his congregation of non-legal Gentile converts at Anti-
och and elsewhere; and it would seem that it was to these converts,
who would come under Justin's fifth category, that the title of
" Christian " was first applied. If any of these Christians had acted
upon the more than half-permission given by Paul, and had eaten
meats offered to idols, they would have belonged to Justin's seventh

Hence, it appears that, if Justin's opinion, which was doubtless
that of the Church generally in the middle of the second century, was
correct, James and Peter and John and their followers could not be
saved; neither could Paul, if he carried into practice his views as to
the indifference of eating meats offered to idols. Or, to put the mat-
ter another way, the center of gravity of orthodoxy, which is at the
extreme right of the series in the nineteenth century, was at the
extreme left, just before the middle of the first century, when the
" sect of the Nazarenes " constituted the whole church founded by
Jesus and the apostles ; while, in the time of Justin, it lay midway
between the two. It is therefore a profound mistake to imagine that
the Judaso-Christians (Nazarenes and Ebionites) of later times were
heretical outgrowths from a primitive, universalist "Christianity."
On the contrary, the universalist " Christianity " is an outgrowth
from the primitive, purely Jewish, Nazarenism; which, gradually
eliminating all the ceremonial and dietary parts of the Jewish law,
has thrust aside its parent, and all the intermediate stages of its
development, into the position of damnable heresies.

Such being the case, we are in a position to form a safe judgment
of the limits within which the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth must
have been confined. Ecclesiastical authority would have us believe
that the words which are given at the end of the first Gospel, " Go ye,
therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost," are
part of the last commands of Jesus, issued at the moment of his part-
ing with the eleven. If so, Peter and John must have heard these
words; they are too plain to be misunderstood; and the occasion is
too solemn for them to be ever forgotten. Yet the " Acts " tells us
that Peter needed a vision to enable him so much as to baptize Corne-
lius ; and Paul, in the Galatians, knows nothing of words which would
have completely borne him out as against those who, though they

* All this was quite clearly pointed out by Ritschl nearly forty yeart ago. See " Die Entste-
hng der alt-katholischen Kirrho '' (1856), p. 108



heard, must be supposed to have either forgotten or ignored them.
On the other hand, Peter and John, who are supposed to have heard
the " Sermon on the Mount," know nothing of the saying that Jesus
had not come to destroy the law, but that every jot and tittle of the
law must be fulfilled, which surely would have been pretty good evi-
dence for their view of the question.

We are sometimes told that the personal friends and daily com-
panions of Jesus remained zealous Jews and opposed Paul's innova-
tions, because they were hard of heart and dull of comprehension.
This hypothesis is hardly in accordance with the concomitant faith of
those who adopt it, in the miraculous insight and superhuman sagac-
ity of their Master; nor do I see any way of getting it to harmonize
with the other orthodox postulate; namely, that Matthew was the
author of the first Gospel and John of the fourth. If that is so, then,
most assuredly, Matthew was no dullard; and as for the fourth
Gospel a theosophic romance of the first order it could have been
written by none but a man of remarkable literary capacity, who had
drunk deep of Alexandrian philosophy. Moreover, the doctrine of
the writer of the fourth Gospel is more remote from that of the "sect
of the Nazarenes" than is that of Paul himself. I am quite aware
that orthodox critics have been capable of maintaining that John, the
Nazarene, who was probably well past fifty years of age when he is
supposed to have written the most thoroughly Judaizing book in the
New Testament the Apocalypse in the roughest of Greek, under-
went an astounding metamorphosis of both doctrine and style by the
time he reached the ripe age of ninety or so, and provided the world
with a history in which the acutest critic can not make out where the
speeches of Jesus end and the text of the narrative begins ; while that
narrative is utterly irreconcilable in regard to matters of fact with
that of his fellow-apostle, Matthew.

The end of the whole matter is this: The " sect of the Nazarenes,"
the brother and the immediate followers of Jesus, commissioned by
him as apostles, and those who were taught by them up to the year 50
A. D., were not " Christians" in the sense in which that term has been
understood -ever since its asserted origin at Antioch, but Jews strict
orthodox Jews whose belief in the Messiahship of Jesus never led to
their exclusion from the Temple services, nor would have shut them
out from the wide embrace of Judaism.* The open proclamation of
their special view about the Messiah was doubtless offensive to the
Pharisees, just as rampant Low Churchism is offensive to bigoted
High Churchism in our own country; or as any kind of dissent is
offensive to fervid religionists of all creeds. To the Sadducees, no
doubt, the political danger of any Messianic movement was serious,
and they would have been glad to put down Nazarenism, lest it
should end in useless rebellion against their Roman masters, like that
other Galilean movement headed by Judas, a generation earlier.
Galilee was always a hot-bed of seditious enthusiasm against the rule
of Rome ; and high priest and procurator alike had need to keep a
sharp eye upon natives of that district. On the whole, however, the
Nazarenes were but little troubled for the first twenty years of their
existence; and the undying hatred of the Jews against those later

* " If every one was baptized as soon as he acknowledged Jenna to be the Messiah, the first
Christians can have been aware of no other essential differences from the Jews." Zeller
" Vortrftge " (1865), p. 81$,



converts whom they regarded as apostates and fautors of a sham
Judaism was awakened by Paul. From their point of view, he was a
mere renegade Jew, opposed alike to orthodox Judaism and to ortho-
dox Nazarenism, and whose teachings threatened Judaism with
destruction. And, from their point of view, they were quite right.
In the course of a century, Pauline influences had a large share in
driving primitive Nazarenism from being the very heart of the new
faith into the position of scouted error; and the spirit of Paul's
doctrine continued its work of driving Christianity further and
further away from Judaism, until " meats offered to idols " might be
eaten without scruple, while the Nazarene methods of observing even
the Sabbath or the Passover were branded with the mark of Judaizing

But if the primitive Nazarenes of whom the Acts speaks were
orthodox Jews, what sort of probability can there be that Jesus was
anything else? How can he have founded the universal religion
which was not heard of till twenty years after his death?* That
Jesus possessed in a rare degree the gift of attaching men to his
person and to his fortunes; that he was the author of many a strik-
ing saying, and the advocate of equity, of love, and of humility; that
he may have disregarded the subtleties of the bigots for legal observ-
ance, and appealed rather to those noble conceptions of religion which
constituted the pith and kernel of the teaching of the great prophets
of his nation seven hundred years earlier ; and that, in the last scenes
of his career, he may have embodied the ideal sufferer of Isaiah may
be, as I think it is, extremely probable. But all this involves not a
step beyond the borders of orthodox Judaism. Again, who is to say
whether Jesus proclaimed himself the veritable Messiah, expected by
his nation since the appearance of the pseudo- prophetic work of
Daniel, a century and a half before his time; or whether the enthu-
siasm of his followers gradually forced him to assume that position ?

But one thing is quite certain : if that belief in the speedy second
coming of the Messiah which was- shared by all parties in the primi-
tive Church, whether Nazarene or Pauline; which Jesus is made to
prophesy, over and over again, in the synoptic Gospels; and which
dominated the life of Christians during the first century after the
crucifixion if he believed and taught that, then assuredly he was
under an illusion, and he is responsible for that which the mere
efluxion of time has demonstrated to be a prodigious error.

When I ventured to doubt " whether any Protestant theologian who
has a reputation to lose will say that he believes the Gadarene story,"
it appears that I reckoned without Dr. Wace, who, referring to this
passage in my paper, says:

He will judge whether I fall under his description ; but I repeat that I believe it, and that he has
removed the only objection to my believing it.t

Far be from me to set myself up as a judge of any such delicate
question as that put before me ; but I think I may venture to express
the conviction that, in the matter of courage, Dr. Wace has raised for
himself a monument cere perennius. For, really, in my poor judg-

* Dr. Harnack. in the lately published second edition of his " Dogmengeschichte," aays (p. 39),
" Jesus Christ brought forward no new doctrine " ; and again (p 65), " It is not difficult to set
gainst every portion of the utterances of Jesus an observation which deprive* bom of original-
ity." See also Zusatz 4, on the same page.



ment, a certain splendid intrepidity, such as one admires in the leader
of a forlorn hope, is manifested by Dr. Wace, when he solemnly
affirms that he believes the Gadarene story on the evidence offered.
I feel less complimented perhaps than I ought to do, when I am told
that I have been an accomplice in extinguishing in Dr. Wace's mind
the last glimmer of doubt which common sense may have suggested.
In fact, I must disclaim all responsibility for the use to which the
information I supplied has been put. I formally decline to admit
that the expression of my ignorance whether devils, in the existence
of which I do not believe, if they did exist, might or might not be
made to go out of men into pigs, can, as a matter of logic, have been
of any use whatever to a person who already believed in devils and in
the historical accuracy of the Gospels.

Of the Gadarene story, Dr. Wace, with all solemnity and twice over,
affirms that he " believes it." I am sorry to trouble him further, but
what does he mean by " it " ? Because there are two stories, one in
" Mark " and " Luke," and the other in " Matthew." In the former,
which I quoted in my previous paper, there is one possessed man ; in
the latter there are two. The story is told fully, with the vigorous,
homely diction and the picturesque details of a piece of folk-lore, in
the second Gospel. The immediately antecedent event is the storm
on the Lake of Gennesareth. The immediately consequent events are
the message from the ruler of the synagogue and the healing of the
woman with an issue of blood. In the third Gospel, the order of
events is exactly the same, and there is an extremely close general and
verbal correspondence between the narratives of the miracle. Both
agree in stating that there was only one possessed man, and that he
was the residence of many devils, whose name was " Legion."

In the first Gospel, the event which immediately precedes the
Gadareue affair is, as before, the storm ; the message from the ruler
and the healing of the issue are separated from it by the accounts of
the healing of a paralytic, of the calling of Matthew, and of a discus-
sion with some Pharisees. Again, while the second Gospel speaks of
the country of the " Gerasenes " as the locality of the event, the third
Gospel has " Gerasenes," " Gergesenes," and " Gadarenes " in different
ancient MSS. ; while the first has " Gadarenes."

The really inportant points to be noticed, however, in the narrative
of the first Gospel, are these that there are two possessed men
instead of one; and that while the story is abbreviated by omissions,
what there is of it is often verbally identical with the corresponding
passages in the other two Gospels. The most unabashed of reconcilers
can not well say that one man is the same as two, or two as one ;
and, though the suggestion really has been made, that two different
miracles, agreeing in all essential particulars, except the number of
the possessed, were effected immediately after the storm on the lake,
I should be sorry to accuse any one of seriously adopting it. Nor will
it be pretended that the allegory refuge is accessible in this particular

So, when Dr. Wace says that he believes in the synoptic evangelists'
account of the miraculous bedevilment of swine, I may fairly ask
which of them does he believe? Does he hold by the one evangelist's
story, or by that of the two evangelists? And having made his elec-
tion, what reasons has he to give for his choice? If it is suggested



that the witness of two is to be taken against that of one, not only is
the testimony dealt with in that common-sense fashion against which
theologians of his school protest so warmly ; not only is all question
of inspiration at an end, but the further inquiry arises, after all, is it
the testimony of two against one? Are the authors of the versions
in the second and the third Gospels really independent witnesses ? In
order to answer this question, it is only needful to place the English
versions of the two side by side, and compare them carefully. It will
then be seen that the coincidences between them, not merely in sub-
stance, but in arrangement, and in the use of identical words in the
same order, are such, that only two alternatives are conceivable:
either one evangelist freely copied from the other, or both based them-
selves upon a common source, which may either have been a written
document, or a definite oral tradition learned by heart. Assuredly
these two testimonies are not those of independent witnesses. Fur-
ther, when the narrative in the first Gospel is compared with that in
the other two, the same fact comes out

Supposing, then, that Dr. Wace is right in his assumption that
Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote the works which we find attributed
to them by tradition, what is the value of their agreement, even that
something more or less like this particular miracle occurred, since it
is demonstrable, either that all depend on some antecedent statement,
of the authorship of which nothing is known, or that two are depen-
dent upon the third ?

Dr. Wace says he believes the Gadarene story ; whichever version
of it he accepts, therefore, he believes that Jesus said what he is stated
in all the versions to have said, and thereby virtually .declared that
the theory of the nature of the spiritual world involved in the story is
true. Now I hold that this theory is false, that it is a monstrous and
mischievous fiction ; and I unhesitatingly express my disbelief in any
assertion that it is true, by whomsoever made. So that, if Dr. Wace
is right in his belief, he is also quite right in classing me among the
people he calls " infidels " ; and although I can not fulfill the eccen-
tric expectation of the Bishop of Peterborough, that I shall glory in a
title which, from my point of view, it would be simply silly to adopt,
I certainly shall rejoice not to be reckoned among the Bishop's " us
Christians " so long as the profession of belief in such stories as the
Gadarene pig affair, on the Strength of a tradition of unknown origin,
of which two discrepant reports, also of unknown origin, alone remain,
forms any part of the Christian faith. And, although I have, more
than once, repudiated the gift of prophecy, yet I think I may venture
to express the anticipation, that if " Christians " generally are going
to follow the line taken by the Bishop of Peterborough and Dr. Wace,
it will not be long before all men of common sense qualify for a place,
among the " infidels,"




READERS who may be willing to look at this further reply on my
part to Prof. Huxley need not be apprehensive of being entangled in
any such obscure points of church history as those with which the
professor has found it necessary to perplex them in support of his
contentions; still less of being troubled with any personal explana-
tions. The tone which Prof. Huxley has thought fit to adopt, not
only toward myself, but toward English theologians in general,
excuses me from taking further notice of any personal considerations
in the matter. I endeavored to treat him with the respect due to his
great scientific position, and he replies by sneering at " theologians
who are mere counsel for creeds," saying that the serious question at
issue "is whether theological men of science, or theological special
pleaders, are to have the confidence of the general public," observing
that Holland and Germany are "the only two countries in which, at
the present time, professors of theology are to be found whose tenure
of their posts does not depend upon the result to which their inquiries
lead them," and thus insinuating that English theologians are
debarred by selfish interests from candid inquiry. I shall presently
have something to say on the grave misrepresentation of German
theology which these insinuations involve; but for myself and for
English theologians I shall not condescend to reply to them. I con-
tent myself with calling the reader's attention to the fact that, in this
controversy, it is Prof. Huxley who finds it requisite for his argument
to insinuate that his opponents are biased by sordid motives ; and I
shall for the future leave him and his sneers out of account, and sim-
ply consider his arguments for as much, or as little, as they may be
worth. For a similar reason I shall confine myself as far as possible
to the issue which I raised at the Church Congress, and for which I
then made myself responsible. I do not care, nor would it be of any
avail, to follow over the wide and sacred field of Christian evidences
an antagonist who resorts to the imputation of mean motives, and
who, as I shall show, will not face the witnesses to whom he himself
appeals. The manner in which Prof. Huxley has met the particular
issue he challenged will be a sufficient illustration to impartial minds
of the value which is to be attached to any further assaults which he
may make upon the Christian position.

Let me then briefly remind the reader of the simple question which
is at issue between us. What I alleged was that " an agnosticism

Online LibraryIsreal Smith ClareLibrary of Universal history and popular science ... (Volume 20) → online text (page 48 of 60)