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The Christ A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence John E. Remsberg

 The Christ

A Critical Review
and Analysis of
the Evidence
of His Existence
John E. Remsberg
[Pagination from the Prometheus Books edition, 1994.]
[Pagination indicated in HTML <!--Comment--> codes.]
Graphic Rule
"We must get rid of that Christ."
     -- Emerson

Originally published: New York:
The Truth Seeker Company, 1909.
Graphic Rule



Preface [11k] 
Christ's Real Existence Impossible  [16k]  
Silence of Contemporary Writers  [33k]  
Christian Evidence  [23k]  
The Infancy of Christ  [82k]  
The Ministry of Christ  [142k]  
The Crucifixion of Christ  [125k]  
The Resurrection of Christ  [67k]  
His Character and Teachings  [142k]  
The Christ a Myth  [17k]  
Sources of the Christ Myth: Ancient Religions  [81k]  
Sources of the Christ Myth: Pagan Divinities  [103k]  
Sources of the Christ Myth: Conclusion  [20k]  


"We must get rid of that Christ, we must get rid of that Christ!" So spake one of the wisest, one of the most lovable of men, Ralph Waldo Emerson. "If I had my way," said Thomas Carlyle, "the world would hear a pretty stern command -- Exit Christ." Since Emerson and Carlyle spoke a revolution has taken place in the thoughts of men. The more enlightened of them are now rid of Christ. From their minds he has made his exit. To quote the words of Prof. Goldwin Smith, "The mighty and supreme Jesus, who was to transfigure all humanity by his divine wit and grace -- this Jesus has flown." The supernatural Christ of the New Testament, the god of orthodox Christianity, is dead. But priestcraft lives and conjures up the ghost of this dead god to frighten and enslave the masses of mankind. The name of Christ has caused more persecutions, wars, and miseries than any other name has caused. The darkest wrongs are still inspired by it. The wails of anguish that went up from Kishenev, Odessa, and Bialystok still vibrate in our ears.

Two notable works controverting the divinity of Christ appeared in the last century, the Leben Jesu of Strauss, and the Vie de Jesus of Renan. Strauss in his work, one of the masterpieces of Freethought literature, endeavors to prove, and proves to the satisfaction of a majority of his readers, that Jesus Christ is a historical myth. This work possesses permanent value, but it was written for the scholar and that for the general reader. In the German and Latin versions, and in the admirable  English translation of Marian Evans (George Eliot), the citations from the Gospels -- and they are many -- are in Greek.

Renan's "Life of Jesus," written in Palestine, has had, especially in its abridged form, an immense circulation, and has been a potent factor in the dethronement of Christ. It is a charming book and displays great learning. But it is a romance, not a biography. The Jesus of Renan, like the Satan of Milton, while suggested by the Bible, is a modern creation. The warp is to be found in the Four Gospels, but the woof was spun in the brain of the brilliant Frenchman. Of this book Renan's fellow countryman, Dr. Jules Soury, thus writes:

"It is to be feared that the beautiful, the 'divine,' dream, as he would say, which the eminent scholar experienced in the very country of the Gospel, will have the fate of the 'Joconda' of Da Vinci, and many of the religious pictures of Raphael and Michael Angelo. Such dreams are admirable, but they are bound to fade.... The Jesus who rises up and comes out from those old Judiaizing writings (Synoptics) is truly no idyllic personage, no meek dreamer, no mild and amiable moralist; on the contrary, he is very much more of a Jew fanatic, attacking without measure the society of his time, a narrow and obstinate visionary, a half-lucid thaumaturge, subject to fits of passion, which caused him to be looked upon as crazy by his own people. In the eyes of his contemporaries and fellow-countrymen he was all that, and he is the same in ours."

Renan himself repudiated to a considerable extent his earlier views regarding Jesus. When he wrote his work he accepted as authentic the Gospel of John, and to this Gospel he was indebted largely for the more admirable traits of his hero. John he subsequently rejected. Mark he accepted as the oldest and most authentic of the Gospels. Alluding to Mark he says:

"It cannot be denied that Jesus is portrayed in this gospel not as a meek moralist worthy of our affection, but as a dreadful magician."

This volume on "The Christ" was written by one who recognizes in the Jesus of Strauss and Renan a transitional step, but not the ultimate step, between orthodox Christianity and radical Freethought. By the Christ is understood the Jesus of the New Testament. The Jesus of the New Testament is the Christ of Christianity. The Jesus of the New  Testament is a supernatural being. He is, like the Christ, a myth. He is the Christ myth. Originally the word Christ, the Greek for the Jewish Messiah," "the anointed," meant the office or title of a person, while Jesus was the name of the person on whom his followers had bestowed this title. Gradually the title took the place of the name, so that Jesus, Jesus Christ, and Christ became interchangeable terms -- synonyms. Such they are to the Christian world, and such, by the law of common usage, they are to the secular world.

It may be conceded as possible, and even probable, that a religious enthusiast of Galilee, named Jesus, was the germ of this mythical Jesus Christ. But this is an assumption rather than a demonstrated fact. Certain it is, this person, if he existed, was not a realization of the Perfect Man, as his admirers claim. There are passages in the Gospels which ascribe to him a lofty and noble character, but these, for the most part, betray too well their Pagan origin. The dedication of temples to him and the worship of him by those who deny his divinity is as irrational as it will prove ephemeral. One of the most philosophic and one of the most far seeing minds of Germany, Dr. Edward von Hartmann, says:

"When liberal Protestantism demands religious reverence for the man Jesus, it is disgusting and shocking. They cannot themselves believe that the respect in which Jesus is held by the people and which they have made use of in such an unprotestant manner, can be maintained for any length of time after the nimbus of divinity has been destroyed, and they may reflect on the insufficiency of the momentary subterfuge. The Protestant principle in its last consequences, disposes of all kinds of dogmatic authority in a remorseless manner, and its supporters must, whether they like it or not, dispense with the authority of Christ."




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Chapter 1
Christ's Real Existence Impossible

Graphic Rule

The reader who accepts as divine the prevailing religion of our land may consider this criticism on "The Christ" irreverent and unjust. And yet for man's true saviors I have no lack of reverence. For him who lives and labors to uplift his fellow men I have the deepest reverence and respect, and at the grave of him who upon the altar of immortal truth has sacrificed his life I would gladly pay the sincere tribute of a mourner's tears. It is not against the man Jesus that I write, but against the Christ Jesus of theology; a being in whose name an Atlantic of innocent blood has been shed; a being in whose name the whole black catalogue of crime has been exhausted; a being in whose name five hundred thousand priests are now enlisted to keep


"Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne."


Jesus of Nazareth, the Jesus of humanity, the pathetic story of whose humble life and tragic death has awakened the sympathies of millions, is a possible character and may have existed; but the Jesus of Bethlehem, the Christ of Christianity, is an impossible character and does not exist.

From the beginning to the end of this Christ's earthly career he is represented by his alleged biographers as a supernatural being endowed with superhuman powers. He is conceived without a natural father: "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When, as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. i, 18).

His ministry is a succession of miracles. With a few loaves and fishes he feeds a multitude: "And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men" (Mark vi, 41-44).

He walks for miles upon the waters of the sea: "And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray; and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea" (Matt. xiv, 22-25).

He bids a raging tempest cease and it obeys him: "And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.... And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm" (Mark. iv, 37 39).

He withers with a curse the barren fig tree: "And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee, henceforth, forever. And presently the fig tree withered away" (Matt. xxi, 19).

He casts out devils: "And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil.... And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him and hurt him not" (Luke iv, 33, 35).

He cures the incurable: "And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off; and when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed" (Luke xvii, I2-I4).

He restores to life a widow's only son: "And when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and much people of the city were with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not; And he came and touched the bier; and they that bore him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother" (Luke vii, 12-15).

He revivifies the decaying corpse of Lazarus: "Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.... Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.... And when he had thus spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth" (John xi, 14-44).

At his crucifixion nature is convulsed, and the inanimate dust of the grave is transformed into living beings who walk the streets of Jerusalem: "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints, which slept, arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many" (Matt. xxvii, 50-53).

He rises from the dead: "And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.... And, behold, there was a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door.... And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail" (Matt. xxvii, 59, 60; xxviii, 2, 9).

He ascends bodily into heaven: "And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven" (Luke xxiv, 50, 51). 

These and a hundred other miracles make up to a great extent this so-called Gospel History of Christ. To disprove the existence of these miracles is to disprove the existence of this Christ.

Canon Farrar makes this frank admission: "If miracles be incredible, Christianity is false. If Christ wrought no miracles, then the Gospels are untrustworthy" (Witness of History to Christ, p. 25).

Dean Mansel thus acknowledges the consequences of the successful denial of miracles: "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" (Aids to Faith, p. 3).

Dr. Westcott says: "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" (Gospel of the Resurrection, p. 34).

A miracle, in the orthodox sense of the term, is impossible and incredible. To accept a miracle is to reject a demonstrated truth. The world is governed, not by chance, not by caprice, not by special providences, but by the laws of nature; and if there be one truth which the scientist and the philosopher have established, it is this: THE LAWS OF NATURE ARE IMMUTABLE. If the laws of Nature are immutable, they cannot be suspended; for if they could be suspended, even by a god, they would not be immutable. A single suspension of these laws would prove their mutability. Now these alleged miracles of Christ required a suspension of Nature's laws; and the suspension of these laws being impossible the miracles were impossible, and not performed. If these miracles were not performed, then the existence of this supernatural and miracle-performing Christ, except as a creature of the human imagination, is incredible and impossible.

Hume's masterly argument against miracles has never been refuted: "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 happens in the common course of Nature. It is no miracle that a man, seemingly in good health, should die suddenly, 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 a uniform experience against any miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit the appellation. And as a 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" (Essay on Miracles).

Alluding to Christ's miracles, M. Renan, a reverential admirer of Jesus of Nazareth, says: "Observation, which has never been once falsified, teaches us that miracles never happen but in times and countries in which they are believed, and before persons disposed to believe them. No miracle ever occurred in the presence of men capable of testing its miraculous character.... It is not, then, in the name of this or that philosophy, but in the name of universal experience, that we banish miracles from history" (Life of Jesus, p. 29).

Christianity arose in what was preeminently a miracle-working age. Everything was attested by miracles, because nearly everybody believed in miracles and demanded them. Every religious teacher was a worker of miracles; and however trifling the miracle might be when wrought, in this atmosphere of unbounded credulity, the breath of exaggeration soon expanded it into marvelous proportions.

To show more clearly the character of the age which Christ illustrates, let us take another example, the Pythagorean teacher, Apollonius of Tyana, a contemporary of the Galilean. According to his biographers -- and they are as worthy of credence as the Evangelists -- his career, particularly in the miraculous events attending it, bore a remarkable resemblance to that of Christ. Like Christ, he was a divine incarnation; like Christ his miraculous conception was announced before his birth; like Christ he possessed in childhood the wisdom of a sage; like Christ he is said to have led a blameless life; like Christ his moral teachings were declared to be the best the world had known; like Christ he remained a celibate; like Christ he was averse to riches; like Christ he purified the religious temples; like Christ he predicted future events; like Christ he performed miracles, cast out devils, healed the sick, and restored the dead to life; like Christ he died, rose from the grave, ascended to heaven, and was worshiped as a god.

The Christian rejects the miraculous in Apollonius because it is incredible; the Rationalist rejects the miraculous in Christ for the same reason. In proof of the human character of the religion of Apollonius and the divine character of that of Christ it may be urged that the former has perished, while the latter has survived. But this, if it proves anything, proves too much. If the survival of Christianity proves its divinity, then the survival of the miracle-attested faiths of Buddhism and Mohammedanism, its powerful and flourishing rivals, must prove their divinity also. The religion of Apollonius languished and died because the conditions for its development were unfavorable; while the religions of Buddha, Christ, and Mohammed lived and thrived because of the propitious circumstances which favored their development.

With the advancement of knowledge the belief in the supernatural is disappearing. Those freed from Ignorance, and her dark sister, Superstition, know that miracles are myths. In the words of Matthew Arnold, "Miracles are doomed; they will drop out like fairies and witchcraft, from among the matter which serious people believe" (Literature and Dogma).

What proved the strength of Christianity in an age of ignorance is proving its weakness in an age of intelligence. Christian scholars themselves, recognizing the indefensibility and absurdity of miracles, endeavor to explain away the difficulties attending their acceptance by affirming that they are not real, but only apparent, violations of Nature's laws; thus putting the miracles of Christ in the same class with those performed by the jugglers of India and Japan. They resolve the supernatural into the natural, that the incredible may appear credible. With invincible logic and pitiless sarcasm, Colonel Ingersoll exposes the lameness of this attempt to retain the shadow of the supernatural when the substance is gone:

"Believers in miracles should not try to explain them. There is but one way to explain anything, and that is to account for it by natural agencies. The moment you explain a miracle it disappears. You should not depend upon explanation, but assertion. You should not be driven from the field because the miracle is shown to be unreasonable. Neither should you be in the least disheartened if it is shown to be impossible. The possible is not miraculous."

Miracles must be dismissed from the domain of fact and relegated to the realm of fiction. A miracle, I repeat, is impossible. Above all this chief of miracles, The Christ, is impossible, and does not, and never did exist.



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Chapter 2
Silence of Contemporary Writers

Graphic Rule

Another proof that the Christ of Christianity is a fabulous and not a historical character is the silence of the writers who lived during and immediately following the time he is said to have existed.

That a man named Jesus, an obscure religious teacher, the basis of this fabulous Christ, lived in Palestine about nineteen hundred years ago, may be true. But of this man we know nothing. His biography has not been written. A Renan and others have attempted to write it, but have failed -- have failed because no materials for such a work exist. Contemporary writers have left us not one word concerning him. For generations afterward, outside of a few theological epistles, we find no mention of him.

The following is a list of writers who lived and wrote during the time, or within a century after the time, that Christ is said to have lived and performed his wonderful works:


Pliny the Elder
Justus of Tiberius
Pliny the Younger
Silius Italicus
Valerius Maximus

Dion Pruseus
Theon of Smyrna
Pompon Mela
Quintius Curtius
Valerius Flaccus
Florus Lucius
Aulus Gellius
Dio Chrysostom
Appion of Alexandria


Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author, and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.

Philo was born before the beginning of the Christian era, and lived until long after the reputed death of Christ. He wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on earth. He was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ's miraculous birth and the Herodian massacre occurred. He was there when Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He was there when the crucifixion with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness, and resurrection of the dead took place -- when Christ himself rose from the dead, and in the presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven. These marvelous events which must have filled the world with amazement, had they really occurred, were unknown to him. It was Philo who developed the doctrine of the Logos, or Word, and although this Word incarnate dwelt in that very land and in the presence of multitudes revealed himself and demonstrated his divine powers, Philo saw it not.

Josephus, the renowned Jewish historian, was a native of Judea. He was born in 37 A.D., and was a contemporary of the Apostles. He was, for a time, Governor of Galilee, the province in which Christ lived and taught. He traversed every part of this province and visited the places where but a generation before Christ had performed his prodigies. He resided in Cana, the very city in which Christ is said to have wrought his first miracle. He mentions every noted personage of Palestine and describes every important event which occurred there during the first seventy years of the Christian era. But Christ was of too little consequence and his deeds too trivial to merit a line from this historian's pen.

Justus of Tiberius was a native of Christ's own country, Galilee. He wrote a history covering the time of Christ's reputed existence. This work has perished, but Photius, a Christian scholar and critic of the ninth century, who was acquainted with it, says: "He [Jesus] makes not the least mention of the appearance of Christ, of what things happened to him, or of the wonderful works that he did" (Photius' Bibliotheca, code 33).

Judea, where occurred the miraculous beginning and marvelous ending of Christ's earthly career, was a Roman province, and all of Palestine is intimately associated with Roman history. But the Roman records of that age contain no mention of Christ and his works. The Greek writers of Greece and Alexandria who lived not far from Palestine and who were familiar with its events, are silent also.

Short Graphic Rule


Late in the first century Josephus wrote his celebrated work, The Antiquities of the Jews, giving a history of his race from the earliest ages down to his own time. Modern versions of this work contain the following passage:

"Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works; a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day" (Book XVIII, Chap. iii, sec. 3).

For nearly sixteen hundred years Christians have been citing this passage as a testimonial, not merely to the historical existence, but to the divine character of Jesus Christ. And yet a ranker forgery was never penned.

Its language is Christian. Every line proclaims it the work of a Christian writer. "If it be lawful to call him a man." "He was the Christ." "He appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him." These are the words of a Christian, a believer in the divinity of Christ. Josephus was a Jew, a devout believer in the Jewish faith -- the last man in the world to acknowledge the divinity of Christ. The inconsistency of this evidence was early recognized, and Ambrose, writing in the generation succeeding its first appearance (360 A.D.) offers the following explanation, which only a theologian could frame: "If the Jews do not believe us, let them, at least, believe their own writers. Josephus whom they esteem a very great man, hath said this and yet hath he spoken truth after such a manner; and so far was his mind wandered from the right way, that even he was not a believer as to what he himself said; but thus he spake, in order to deliver historical truth, because he thought it not lawful for him to deceive, while yet he was no believer, because of the hardness of his heart, and his perfidious intention."

Its brevity disproves its authenticity. Josephus' work is voluminous and exhaustive. It comprises twenty books. Whole pages are devoted to petty robbers and obscure seditious leaders. Nearly forty chapters are devoted to the life of a single king. Yet this remarkable being, the greatest product of his race, a being of whom the prophets foretold ten thousand wonderful things, a being greater than any earthly king, is dismissed with a dozen lines.

It interrupts the narrative. Section 2 of the chapter containing it gives an account of a Jewish sedition which was suppressed by Pilate with great slaughter. The account ends as follows: "There were a great number of them slain by this means, and others of them ran away wounded; and thus an end was put to this sedition." Section 4, as now numbered, begins with these words: "About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder." The one section naturally and logically follows the other. Yet between these two closely connected paragraphs the one relating to Christ is placed; thus making the words, "another sad calamity," refer to the advent of this wise and wonderful being.

The early Christian fathers were not acquainted with it. Justin Martyr, Terullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen all would have quoted this passage had it existed in their time. The failure of even one of these fathers to notice it would be sufficient to throw doubt upon its genuineness; the failure of all of them to notice it proves conclusively that it is spurious, that it was not in existence during the second and third centuries.

As this passage first appeared in the writings of the ecclesiastical historian, Eusebius, as this author openly advocated the use of fraud and deception in furthering the interests of the church, as he is known to have mutilated and perverted the text of Josephus in other instances, and as the manner of its presentation is calculated to excite suspicion, the forgery has generally been charged to him. In his Evangelical Demonstration, written early in the fourth century, after citing all the known evidences of Christianity, he thus introduces the Jewish historian: "Certainly the citations I have already produced concerning our Savior may be sufficient. However, it may not be amiss if, over and above, we make use of Josephus the Jew for a further witness" (Book III, p. 124).

Chrysostom and Photius both reject this passage. Chrysostom, a reader of Josephus, who preached and wrote in the latter part of the fourth century, in his defense of Christianity, needed this evidence, but was too honest or too wise to use it. Photius, who made a revision of Josephus, writing five hundred years after the time of Eusebius, ignores the passage, and admits that Josephus has made no mention of Christ.

Modern Christian scholars generally concede that the passage is a forgery. Dr. Lardner, one of the ablest defenders of Christianity, adduces the following arguments against its genuineness: 

"I do not perceive that we at all want the suspected testimony to Jesus, which was never quoted by any of our Christian ancestors before Eusebius.

"Nor do I recollect that Josephus has anywhere mentioned the name or word Christ, in any of his works; except the testimony above mentioned, and the passage concerning James, the Lord's brother.

"It interrupts the narrative.

"The language is quite Christian.

"It is not quoted by Chrysostom, though he often refers to Josephus, and could not have omitted quoting it had it been then in the text.

"It is not quoted by Photius, though he has three articles concerning Josephus.

"Under the article Justus of Tiberias, this author (Photius) especially states that the historian [Josephus], being a Jew, has not taken the least notice of Christ.

"Neither Justin in his dialogue with Trypho the Jew, nor Clemens Alexandrinus, who made so many extracts from ancient authors, nor Origen against Celsus, has ever mentioned this testimony.

"But, on the contrary, in chapter xxxv of the first book of that work, Origen openly affirms that Josephus, who had mentioned John the Baptist, did not acknowledge Christ" (Answer to Dr. Chandler).

Again Dr. Lardner says: "This passage is not quoted nor referred to by any Christian writer before Eusebius, who flourished at the beginning of the fourth century. If it had been originally in the works of Josephus it would have been highly proper to produce it in their disputes with Jews and Gentiles. But it is never quoted by Justin Martyr, or Clement of Alexandria, nor by Tertullian or Origen, men of great learning, and well acquainted with the works of Josephus. It was certainly very proper to urge it against the Jews. It might also have been fitly urged against the Gentiles. A testimony so favorable to Jesus in the works of Josephus, who lived so soon after our Savior, who was so well acquainted with the transactions of his own country, who had received so many favors from Vespasian and Titus, would not be overlooked or neglected by any Christian apologist" (Lardner's Works, vol. I, chap. iv).

Bishop Warburton declares it to be a forgery: "If a Jew owned the truth of Christianity, he must needs embrace it. We, therefore, certainly conclude that the paragraph where Josephus, who was as much a Jew as the religion of Moses could make him, is made to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, in terms as strong as words could do it, is a rank forgery, and a very stupid one, too" (Quoted by Lardner, Works, Vol. I, chap. iv).

The Rev. Dr. Giles, of the Established Church of England, says:

"Those who are best acquainted with the character of Josephus, and the style of his writings, have no hesitation in condemning this passage as a forgery, interpolated in the text during the third century by some pious Christian, who was scandalized that so famous a writer as Josephus should have taken no notice of the gospels, or of Christ, their subject. But the zeal of the interpolator has outrun his discretion, for we might as well expect to gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles, as to find this notice of Christ among the Judaizing writings of Josephus. It is well known that this author was a zealous Jew, devoted to the laws of Moses and the traditions of his countrymen. How, then, could he have written that Jesus was the Christ? Such an admission would have proved him to be a Christian himself, in which case the passage under consideration, too long for a Jew, would have been far too short for a believer in the new religion, and thus the passage stands forth, like an ill-set jewel, contrasting most inharmoniously with everything around it. If it had been genuine, we might be sure that Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Chrysostom would have quoted it in their controversies with the Jews, and that Origen or Photius would have mentioned it. But Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian (I, 11), is the first who quotes it, and our reliance on the judgment or even honesty of this writer is not so great as to allow our considering everything found in his works as undoubtedly genuine" (Christian Records, p. 30).

The Rev. S. Baring-Gould, in his Lost and Hostile Gospels, says:

"This passage is first quoted by Eusebius (fl. A.D. 315) in two places (Hist. Eccl., lib. i, c. xi; Demonst. Evang., lib. iii); but it was unknown to Justin Martyr (fl. A.D. 140), Clement of Alexandria (fl. A.D. 192), Tertullian (fl. A.D. 193), and Origen (fl. A.D. 230). Such a testimony would certainly have been produced by Justin in his apology or in his controversy with Trypho the Jew, had it existed in the copies of Josephus at his time. The silence of Origen is still more significant. Celsus, in his book against Christianity, introduces a Jew. Origen attacks the argument of Celsus and his Jew. He could not have failed to quote the words of Josephus, whose writings he knew, had the passage existed in the genuine text. He, indeed, distinctly affirms that Josephus did not believe in Christ (Contr. Cels. i)."

Dr. Chalmers ignores it, and admits that Josephus is silent regarding Christ. He says: "The entire silence of Josephus upon the subject of Christianity, though he wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem, and gives us the history of that period in which Christ and his Apostles lived, is certainly a very striking circumstance" (Kneeland's Review, p. 169).

Referring to this passage, Dean Milman, in his Gibbon's Rome (Vol. II, p. 285, note) says: "It is interpolated with many additional clauses."

Cannon Farrar, who has written in ablest Christian life of Christ yet penned, repudiates it. He says: "The single passage in which he [Josephus] alludes to him is interpolated, if not wholly spurious" (Life of Christ, Vol. I, p. 46).

The following, from Dr. Farrar's pen, is to be found in the Encyclopedia Britannica: "That Josephus wrote the whole passage as it now stands no sane critic can believe."

"There are, however, two reasons which are alone sufficient to prove that the whole passage is spurious -- one that it was unknown to Origen and the earlier fathers, and the other that its place in the text is uncertain" (ibid).

Theodor Keim, a German-Christian writer on Jesus says: "The passage cannot be maintained; it has first appeared in this form in the Catholic church of the Jews and Gentiles, and under the dominion of the Fourth Gospel, and hardly before the third century, probably before Eusebius, and after Origen, whose bitter criticisms of Josephus may have given cause for it" (Jesus of Nazara, p. 25).

Concerning this passage, Hausrath, another German writer, says it "must have been penned at a peculiarly shameless hour."

The Rev. Dr. Hooykaas, of Holland, says: "Flavius Josephus, the well known historian of the Jewish people, was born in A.D. 37, only two years after the death of Jesus; but though his work is of inestimable value as our chief authority for the circumstances of the times in which Jesus and his Apostles came forward, yet he does not seem to have mentioned Jesus himself. At any rate, the passage in his 'Jewish Antiquities' that refers to him is certainly spurious, and was inserted by a later and a Christian hand" (Bible for Learners, Vol. III, p. 27). This conclusion of Dr. Hooykaas is endorsed by the eminent Dutch critic, Dr. Kuenen.

Dr. Alexander Campbell, one of America's ablest Christian apologists, says: "Josephus, the Jewish historian, was contemporary with the Apostles, having been born in the year 37. From his situation and habits, he had every access to know all that took place at the rise of the Christian religion.

"Respecting the founder of this religion, Josephus has thought fit to be silent in history. The present copies of his work contain one passage which speaks very respectfully of Jesus Christ, and ascribes to him the character of the Messiah. But as Josephus did not embrace Christianity, and as this passage is not quoted or referred to until the beginning of the fourth century, it is, for these and other reasons, generally accounted spurious" (Evidences of Christianity, from Campbell-Owen Debate, p. 312).

Another passage in Josephus, relating to the younger Ananus, who was high priest of the Jews in 62 A.D., reads as follows:

"But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper and very insolent; he was also of the sect of Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all of the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity. Festus was dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrim of judges and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned" (Antiquities, Book XX, chap. ix, sec. I).

This passage is probably genuine with the exception of the clause, "who was called Christ," which is undoubtedly an interpolation, and is generally regarded as such. Nearly all the authorities that I have quoted reject it. It was originally probably a marginal note. Some Christian reader of Josephus believing that the James mentioned was the brother of Jesus made a note of his belief in the manuscript before him, and this a transcriber afterward incorporated with the text, a very common practice in that age when purity of text was a matter of secondary importance.

The fact that the early fathers, who were acquainted with Josephus, and who would have hailed with joy even this evidence of Christ's existence, do not cite it, while Origen expressly declares that Josephus has not mentioned Christ, is conclusive proof that it did not exist until the middle of the third century or later.

Those who affirm the genuineness of this clause argue that the James mentioned by Josephus was a person of less prominence than the Jesus mentioned by him, which would be true of James, the brother of Jesus Christ. Now some of the most prominent Jews living at this time were named Jesus. Jesus, the son of Damneus, succeeded Ananus as high priest that very year; and Jesus, the son of Gamaliel, a little later succeeded to the same office.

To identify the James of Josephus with James the Just, the brother of Jesus, is to reject the accepted history of the primitive church which declares that James the Just died in 69 A.D., seven years after the James of Josephus was condemned to death by the Sanhedrim.

Whiston himself, the translator of Josephus referring to the event narrated by the Jewish historian, admits that James, the brother of Jesus Christ, "did not die till long afterward."

The brief "Discourse Concerning Hades," appended to the writings of Josephus, is universally conceded to be the product of some other writer -- "obviously of Christian origin" -- says the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Short Graphic Rule


(This section was repaired on October 4, 2002.)

In July, 64 A.D., a great conflagration occurred in Rome. There is a tradition to the effect that this conflagration was the work of an incendiary and that the Emperor Nero himself was believed to be the incendiary. Modern editions of the "Annals" of Tacitus contain the following passage in reference to this:

"Nero, in order to stifle the rumor, ascribed to those people who were abhorred for their crimes and commonly called Christians: These he punished exquisitely. The founder of that name was Christus, who, in the reign of Tiberius, was punished, as a criminal by the procurator, Pontius Pilate. This pernicious superstition, thus checked for awhile, broke out again; and spread not only over Judea, the source of this evil, but reached the city also: whither flow from all quarters all things vile and shameful, and where they find shelter and encouragement. At first, only those were apprehended who confessed themselves of that sect; afterwards, a vast multitude were detected by them, all of whom were condemned, not so much for the crime of burning the city, as their hatred of mankind. Their executions were so contrived as to expose them to derision and contempt. Some were covered over with the skins of wild beasts, and torn to pieces by dogs; some were crucified. Others, having been daubed over with combustible materials, were set up as lights in the night time, and thus burned to death. Nero made use of his own gardens as a theatre on this occasion, and also exhibited the diversions of the circus, sometimes standing in the crowd as a spectator, in the habit of a charioteer; at other times driving a chariot himself, till at length those men, though really criminal, and deserving exemplary punishment, began to be commiserated as people who were destroyed, not out of regard to the public welfare, but only to gratify the cruelty of one man" (Annals, Book XV, sec. 44). This passage, accepted as authentic by many, must be declared doubtful, if not spurious, for the following reasons:

1. It is not quoted by the Christian fathers.

2. Tertullian was familiar with the writings of Tacitus, and his arguments demanded the citation of this evidence had it existed.

3. Clement of Alexandria, at the beginning of the third century, made a compilation of all the recognitions of Christ and Christianity that had been made by Pagan writers up to his time. The writings of Tacitus furnished no recognition of them.

4. Origen, in his controversy with Celsus, would undoubtedly have used it had it existed.

5. The ecclesiastical historian Eusebius, in the fourth century, cites all the evidences of Christianity obtainable from Jewish and Pagan sources, but makes no mention of Tacitus.

6. It is not quoted by any Christian writer prior to the fifteenth century.

7. At this time but one copy of the Annals existed and this copy, it is claimed, was made in the eighth century -- 600 years after the time of Tacitus.

8. As this single copy was in the possession of a Christian the insertion of a forgery was easy.

9. Its severe criticisms of Christianity do not necessarily disprove its Christian origin. No ancient witness was more desirable than Tacitus, but his introduction at so late a period would make rejection certain unless Christian forgery could be made to appear improbable.

10. It is admitted by Christian writers that the works of Tacitus have not been preserved with any considerable degree of fidelity. In the writings ascribed to him are believed to be some of the writings of Quintilian.

11. The blood-curdling story about the frightful orgies of Nero reads like some Christian romance of the dark ages, and not like Tacitus.

12. In fact, this story, in nearly the same words, omitting the reference to Christ, is to be found in the writings of Sulpicius Severus, a Christian of the fifth century.

13. Suetonius, while mercilessly condemning the reign of Nero, says that in his public entertainments he took particular care that no human lives should be sacrificed, "not even those of condemned criminals."

14. At the time that the conflagration occurred, Tacitus himself declares that Nero was not in Rome, but at Antium.

Many who accept the authenticity of this section of the "Annals" believe that the sentence which declares that Christ was punished in the reign of Pontius Pilate, and which I have italicized, is an interpolation. Whatever may be said of the remainder of this passage, this sentence bears the unmistakable stamp of Christian forgery. It interrupts the narrative; it disconnects two closely related statements. Eliminate this sentence, and there is no break in the narrative. In all the Roman records there was to be found no evidence that Christ was put to death by Pontius Pilate. This sentence, if genuine, is the most important evidence in Pagan literature. That it existed in the works of the greatest and best known of Roman historians, and was ignored or overlooked by Christian apologists for 1,360 years, no intelligent critic can believe. Tacitus did not write this sentence.

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Pliny the Younger

This Roman author, early in the second century, while serving as a pro-consul under Trajan in Bithynia, is reputed to have written a letter to his Emperor concerning his treatment of Christians. This letter contains the following:

"I have laid down this rule in dealing with those who were brought before me for being Christians. I asked whether they were Christians; if they confessed, I asked them a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; if they persevered, I ordered them to be executed.... They assured me that their only crime or error was this, that they were wont to come together on a certain day before it was light, and to sing in turn, among themselves, a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and to bind themselves by an oath -- not to do anything that was wicked, that they would commit no theft, robbery, or adultery, nor break their word, nor deny that anything had been entrusted to them when called upon to restore it.... I therefore deemed it the more necessary to enquire of two servant maids, who were said to be attendants, what was the real truth, and to apply the torture. But I found it was nothing but a bad and excessive superstition."

Notwithstanding an alleged reply to this letter from Trajan, cited by Tertullian and Eusebius, its genuineness may well be questioned, and for the following reasons:

1. The Roman laws accorded religious liberty to all, and the Roman government tolerated and protected every religious belief. Renan says: "Among the Roman laws, anterior to Constantine, there was not a single ordinance directed against freedom of thought; in the history of the Pagan emperors not a single persecution on account of mere doctrines or creeds" (The Apostles). Gibbon says: "The religious tenets of the Galileans, or Christians, were never made a subject of punishment, or even of inquiry" (Rome, Vol. II, p. 215).

2. Trajan was one of the most tolerant and benevolent of Roman emperors.

3. Pliny, the reputed author of the letter, is universally conceded to have been one of the most humane and philanthropic of men.

4. It represents the distant province of Bithynia as containing, at this time, a large Christian population, which is improbable.

5. It assumes that the Emperor Trajan was little acquainted with Christian beliefs and customs, which cannot be harmonized with the supposed historical fact that the most powerful primitive churches flourished in Trajan's capital and had existed for fifty years.

6. Pliny represents the Christians as declaring that they were in the habit of meeting and singing hymns "to Christ as to a god." The early Christians did not recognize Christ as a god, and it was not until after the time of Pliny that he was worshiped as such.

7. "I asked whether they were Christians; if they confessed, I asked them a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; if they persevered I ordered them to be executed." That this wise and good man rewarded lying with liberty and truthfulness with death is difficult to believe.

8. "I therefore deemed it more necessary to inquire of two servant maids, who were said to be attendants, what was the real truth, and to apply the torture." Never have the person and character of woman been held more sacred than they were in Pagan Rome. That one of the noblest of Romans should have put to torture young women guiltless of crime is incredible.

9. The declaration of the Christians that they took a solemn obligation "not to do anything that was wicked; that they would commit no theft, robbery, or adultery, nor break their word," etc., looks like an ingenious attempt to parade the virtues of primitive Christians.

10. This letter, it is claimed, is to be found on but one ancient copy of Pliny.

11. It was first quoted by Tertullian, and the age immediately preceding Tertullian was notorious for Christian forgeries.

12. Some of the best German critics reject it. Gibbon, while not denying its authenticity, pronounces it a "very curious epistle"; and Dr. Whiston, who considers it too valuable to discard, applies to its contents such epithets as "amazing doctrine!", "amazing stupidity!"

Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny -- these are the disinterested witnesses adduced by the church to prove the historical existence of Jesus Christ; the one writing nearly one hundred years, the others one hundred and ten years after his alleged birth; the testimony of two of them self-evident forgeries, and that of the third a probable forgery.

But even if the doubtful and hostile letter of Pliny be genuine, it was not written until the second century, so that there is not to be found in all the records of profane history prior to the second century a single allusion to the reputed founder of Christianity.

To these witnesses is sometimes, though rarely, added a fourth, Suetonius, a Roman historian who, like Tacitus and Pliny, wrote in the second century. In his Life of Nero, Suetonius says "The Christians, a race of men of a new and villainous superstition, were punished." In his Life of Claudius, he says: "He [Claudius] drove the Jews, who at the instigation of Chrestus were constantly rioting, out of Rome." Of course no candid Christian will contend that Christ was inciting Jewish riots at Rome fifteen years after he was crucified at Jerusalem.

Significant is the silence of the forty Jewish and Pagan writers named in this chapter. This silence alone disproves Christ's existence. Had this wonderful being really existed the earth would have resounded with his fame. His mighty deeds would have engrossed every historian's pen. The pages of other writers would have abounded with references to him. Think of going through the literature of the nineteenth century and searching in vain for the name of Napoleon Bonaparte! Yet Napoleon was a pigmy and his deeds trifles compared with this Christ and the deeds he is said to have performed.

With withering irony Gibbon notes this ominous silence: "But how shall we excuse the supine inattention of the Pagan and philosophic world, to those evidences which were represented by the hand of Omnipotence, not to their reason, but to their senses? During the age of Christ, of his apostles, and of their first disciples, the doctrine which they preached was confirmed by innumerable prodigies. The lame walked, the blind saw, the sick were healed, the dead were raised, demons were expelled, and the laws of Nature were frequently suspended for the benefit of the church. But the sages of Greece and Rome turned aside from the awful spectacle, and, pursuing the ordinary occupations of life and study, appeared unconscious of any alterations in the moral or physical government of the world. Under the reign of Tiberius, the whole earth, or at least a celebrated province of the Roman empire, was involved in a preternatural darkness of three hours. Even this miraculous event, which ought to have excited the wonder, the curiosity, and the devotion of mankind, passed without notice in an age of science and history. It happened during the lifetime of Seneca and the elder Pliny, who must have experienced the immediate effects, or received the earliest intelligence of the prodigy. Each of these philosophers, in a laborious work, has recorded all the great phenomena of Nature, earthquakes, meteors comets, and eclipses, which his indefatigable curiosity could collect. Both the one and the other have omitted to mention the greatest phenomenon to which the mortal eye has been witness since the creation of the globe" (Rome, Vol. I, pp. 588-590).

Even conceding, for the sake of argument, both the authenticity and the credibility of these passages attributed to the Roman historians, what do they prove? Do they prove that Christ was divine -- that he was a supernatural being, as claimed? No more than do the writings Paine and Voltaire, which also contain his name. This evidence is favorable not to the adherents, but to the opponents of Christianity. If these passages be genuine, and their authors have penned historical truths, it simply confirms what most Rationalists admit, that a religious sect called Christians, who recognized Christ as their founder, existed as early as the first century; and confirms what some have charged, but what the church is loath to admit, that primitive Christians, who have been declared the highest exemplars of human virtue, were the most depraved of villains.

An unlettered and credulous enthusiast, named Jones, imagines that he has had a revelation, and proceeds to found a new religious sect. He gathers about him a band of "disciples" as ignorant and credulous as himself. He soon gets into trouble and is killed. But the Jonesists increase -- increase in numbers and in meanness -- until at length they become sufficiently notorious to receive a paragraph from an annalist who, after holding them up to ridicule and scorn, accounts for their origin by stating that they take their name from one Jones who, during the administration of President Roosevelt, was hanged as a criminal. The world contains two billions of inhabitants -- mostly fools, as Carlyle would say -- and as the religion of this sect is a little more foolish than that of any other sect, it continues to spread until at the end of two thousand years it covers the globe. Then think of the adherents of this religion citing the uncomplimentary allusion of this annalist to prove that Jones was a god!



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 Chapter 3

Christian Evidence
Graphic Rule

The Four Gospels

Farrar, in his Life of Christ, concedes and deplores the dearth of evidence concerning the subject of his work. He says: "It is little short of amazing that neither history nor tradition should have embalmed for us one certain or precious saying or circumstance in the life of the Savior of Mankind, except the comparatively few events recorded in four very brief biographies."

With these four brief biographies, the Four Gospels, Christianity must stand or fall. These four documents, it is admitted, contain practically all the evidence which can be adduced in proof of the existence and divinity of Jesus Christ. Profane history, as we have seen, affords no proof of this. The so-called apocryphal literature of the early church has been discarded by the church itself. Even the remaining canonical books of the New Testament are of little consequence if the testimony of the Four Evangelists be successfully impeached. Disprove the authenticity and credibility of these documents and this Christian deity is removed to the mythical realm of Apollo, Odin, and Osiris.

In a previous work, The Bible, I have shown that the books of the New Testament, with a few exceptions, are not authentic. This evidence cannot be reproduced here in full. A brief summary of it must suffice.

The Four Gospels, it is claimed, were written by Matthew, Mark,  Luke, and John, two of them apostles, and two companions of the apostles of Christ. If this claim be true the other writings of the apostles, the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, and the writings of the early Christian Fathers, ought to contain some evidences of the fact.

Twenty books -- nearly all of the remaining books of the New Testament -- are said to have been written by the three apostles, Peter, John, and Paul, a portion of them after the first three Gospels were written; but it is admitted that they contain no evidence whatever of the existence of these Gospels.

There are extant writings accredited to the Apostolic Fathers, Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp; written, for the most part, early in the second century. These writings contain no mention of the Four Gospels. This also is admitted by Christian scholars. Dr. Dodwell says: "We have at this day certain most authentic ecclesiastical writers of the times, as Clemens Romanus, Barnabas, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp, who wrote in the order wherein I have named them, and after all the writers of the New Testament. But in Hermas you will not find one passage or any mention of the New Testament, nor in all the rest is any one of the Evangelists named" (Dissertations upon Irenaeus).

The Four Gospels were unknown to the early Christian Fathers. Justin Martyr, the most eminent of the early Fathers, wrote about the middle of the second century. His writings in proof of the divinity of Christ demanded the use of these Gospels had they existed in his time. He makes more than three hundred quotations from the books of the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from the Apocryphal books of the New Testament; but none from the Four Gospels. The Rev. Dr. Giles says: "The very names of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are never mentioned by him [Justin] -- do not occur once in all his writings" (Christian Records, p. 71).

Papias, another noted Father, was a contemporary of Justin. He refers to writings of Matthew and Mark, but his allusions to them clearly indicate that they were not the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Dr. Davidson, the highest English authority on the canon, says: "He [Papias] neither felt the want nor knew the existence of inspired Gospels" (Canon of the Bible, p. 123). 

Theophilus, who wrote after the middle of the latter half of the second century, mentions the Gospel of John, and Irenaeus, who wrote a little later, mentions all of the Gospels, and makes numerous quotations from them. In the latter half of the second century, then, between the time of Justin and Papias, and the time of Theophilus and Irenaeus, the Four Gospels were undoubtedly written or compiled.

These books are anonymous. They do not purport to have been written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Their titles do not affirm it. They simply imply that they are "according" to the supposed teachings of these Evangelists. As Renan says, "They merely signify that these were the traditions proceeding from each of these Apostles, and claiming their authority." Concerning their authorship the Rev. Dr. Hooykaas says: "They appeared anonymously. The titles placed above them in our Bibles owe their origin to a later ecclesiastical tradition which deserves no confidence whatever" (Bible for Learners, Vol. III, p. 24).

It is claimed that the Gospel of Matthew originally appeared in Hebrew. Our version is a translation of a Greek work. Regarding this St. Jerome says: "Who afterwards translated it into Greek is not sufficiently certain." The consequences of this admission are thus expressed by Michaelis: "If the original text of Matthew is lost, and we have nothing but a Greek translation then, frankly, we cannot ascribe any divine inspiration to the words."

The contents of these books refute the claim that they were written by the Evangelists named. They narrate events and contain doctrinal teachings which belong to a later age. Matthew ascribes to Christ the following language: "Thou art Peter, and Upon this rock I will build my Church" (xvi, 18). This Gospel is a Roman Catholic Gospel, and was written after the beginning of the establishment of this hierarchy to uphold thc supremacy of the Petrine Church of Rome. Of this Gospel Dr. Davidson says : "The author, indeed, must ever remain unknown'. (Introduction to New Testament, p. 72).

The Gospel of Luke is addressed to Theophilus. Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, who is believed to be the person addressed, flourished in the latter half of the second century.

Dr. Schleiermacher, one of Germany's greatest theologians, after a critical analysis of Luke, concludes that it is merely a compilation,  made up of thirty-three preexisting manuscripts. Bishop Thirlwall's Schleiermacher says: "He [Luke] is from beginning to end no more than the compiler and arranger of documents which he found in existence" (p. 313).

The basis of this Gospel is generally believed to be the Gospel of Marcion, a Pauline compilation, made about the middle of the second century. Concerning this Gospel, the Rev. S. Baring-Gould in his Lost and Hostile Gospels, says: "The arrangement is so similar that we are forced to the conclusion that it was either used by St. Luke or that it was his original composition. If he used it then his right to the title of author of the Third Gospel falls to the ground, as what he added was of small amount."

Mark, according to Renan, is the oldest of the Gospels; but Mark, according to Strauss, was written after the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were written. He says: "It is evidently a compilation, whether made from memory or otherwise, from the first and third Gospels" (Leben Jesu, p. 5I). Judge Waite, in his History of Christianity, says that all but twenty-four verses of this Gospel have their parallels in Matthew and Luke. Davidson declares it to be an anonymous work "The author," he says, "is unknown."

Omitting the last twelve verses of Mark, which all Christian critics pronounce spurious, the book contains no mention of the two great miracles which mark the limits of Christ's earthly career, his miraculous birth and his ascension.

Concerning the first three Gospels, the Encyclopedia Britannica says: "It is certain that the Synoptic Gospels took their present form only by degrees." Of these books Dr. Westcott says: "Their substance is evidently much older than their form." Professor Robertson Smith pronounces them "unapostolic digests of the second century."

The internal evidence against the authenticity of the Fourth Gospel is conclusive. The Apostle John did not write it. John, the apostle, was a Jew; the author of the Fourth Gospel was not a Jew. John was born at Bethsaida; the author of the Fourth Gospel did not know where Bethsaida was located. John was an uneducated fisherman; the author of this Gospel was an accomplished scholar. Some of the most important events in the life of Jesus, the Synoptics declare, were witnessed by  John; the author of this knows nothing of these events. The Apostle John witnessed the crucifixion; the author of this Gospel did not. The Apostles, including John, believed Jesus to be a man; the author of the Fourth Gospel believed him to be a god.

Regarding the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, Dr. Davidson says: "The Johannine authorship has receded before the tide of modern criticism, and though this tide is arbitrary at times, it is here irresistible" (Canon of the Bible, p. 127).

That the authenticity of the Four Gospels cannot be maintained is conceded by every impartial critic. The author of Supernatural Religion, in one of the most profound and exhaustive works on this subject ever written, expresses the result of his labors in the following, words: "After having exhausted the literature and the testimony bearing on the point, we have not found a single distinct trace of any of those Gospels during the first century and a half after the death of Jesus" (Supernatural Religion, Vol. II, p. 248).

Fifteen hundred years ago, Bishop Faustus, a heretical Christian theologian, referring to this so called Gospel history, wrote: "It is allowed not to have been written by the son himself nor by his apostles, but long after by some unknown man who, lest they should be suspected of writing things they knew nothing of, gave to their books the names of the Apostles."

The following is the verdict of the world's greatest Bible critic, Baur: "These Gospels are spurious, and were written in the second century."

Short Graphic Rule

Acts, Catholic Epistles, and Revelation.

The Acts of the Apostles is supposed to have been written by the author of the Third Gospel. Like this book it is anonymous and of late origin. It contains historical inaccuracies, contradicts the Gospel of Matthew, and conflicts with the writings of Paul. Concerning the last, the Bible for Learners (Vol. III, p. 25) says: "In the first two chapters of the Epistle to the Galatians, he [Paul] gives us several details of his own past life; and no sooner do we place his story side by side with that of the Acts than we clearly perceive that this book contains an incorrect account, and that its inaccuracy is not the result of accident or ignorance, but of a deliberate design."

This book purports to be the product chiefly of three minds: that of the author who gives a historical sketch of the early church, and those of Peter and Paul whose discourses are reported. And yet the three compositions are clearly the products of one mind -- that of the author. The evident purpose of the work is to heal the bitter dissensions which existed between the Petrine and Pauline churches, and this points unmistakably to the latter part of the second century as the date of its appearance, when the work of uniting the various Christian sects into the Catholic church began. Renan considers this the most faulty book of the New Testament.

The seven Catholic Epistles, James, First and Second Peter, First, Second and Third John, and Jude, have never been held in very high esteem by the church. Many of the Christian Fathers, rejected them, while modern Christian scholars have generally considered them of doubtful authenticity. The first and last of these were rejected by Martin Luther. "St. James' Epistle," says Luther, "is truly an epistle of straw" (Preface to Luther's New Testament, ed. I524). Jude, he says, "is an abstract or copy of St. Peter's Second, and allegeth stories and sayings which have no place in Scripture" (Standing Preface).

The First Epistle of Peter and the First Epistle of John have generally been accorded a higher degree of authority than the others; but even these were not written by apostles, nor in the first century. Dr. Soury says that First Peter "dates, in all probability, from the year 130 A.D., at the earliest" (Jesus and the Gospels, p. 32). Irenaeus, the founder of the New Testament canon, rejected it. The Dutch critics, who deny the Johannine authorship of the Fourth Gospel, and assign its composition to the second century, say: "The First Epistle of John soon issued from the same school in imitation of the Gospel" (Bible for Learners, Vol. III, p. 692).

Second Peter is a forgery. Westcott says there is no proof of its existence prior to 170 A.D. Smith's Bible Dictionary says "Many reject the epistle as altogether spurious." The brief epistles of Second and Third John are anonymous and of very late origin. They do not purport to be the writings of John. The superscriptions declare them to be from an elder, and this precludes the claim that they are from an apostle. The early Fathers ignored them. 

Revelation is the only book in the Bible which claims to be the word of God. At the same time it is the book of which Christians have always been the most suspicious. It is addressed to the seven churches of Asia, but the seven churches of Asia rejected it. Concerning the attitude of ancient churchmen toward it, Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, says: "Divers of our predecessors have wholly refused and rejected this book, and by discussing the several parts thereof have found it obscure and void of reason and the title forged."

"The most learned and intelligent of Protestant divines," says the Edinburgh Review, "almost all doubted or denied the canonicity of the book of Revelation." It is a book which, Dr. South said, "either found a man mad or left him so." Calvin and Beza both forbade their clergy to attempt an explanation of its contents. Luther says: "In the Revelation of John much is wanting to let me deem it either prophetic or apostolical" (Preface to N.T., 1524).

Considered as evidences of Christ's historical existence and divinity these nine books are of no value. They are all anonymous writings or forgeries, and, with the possible exception of Revelation, of very late origin. While they affirm Christ's existence they are almost entirely silent regarding his life and miracles.

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The Epistles of Paul.

Of the fourteen epistles ascribed to Paul, seven -- Ephesians, Colossians, Second Thessalonians, First and Second Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews -- are conceded by nearly all critics to be spurious while three others -- Philippians, First Thessalonians, and Philemon -- are generally classed as doubtful.

The general verdict concerning the first seven is thus expressed by the Rev. Dr. Hooykaas: "Fourteen epistles are said to be Paul's; but we must at once strike off one, namely, that to the Hebrews, which does not bear his name at all.... The two letters to Timothy and the letter to Titus were certainly composed long after the death of Paul.... It is more than possible that the letters to the Ephesians and Colossians are also unauthentic, and the same suspicion rests, perhaps, on the first, but certainly on the second of the Epistles to the Thessalonians" (Bible for Learners, Vol. III, p. 23).

The author of Second Thessalonians, whose epistle is a self-evident forgery, declares First Thessalonians to be a forgery. Baur and the Tubingen school reject both Epistles. Baur also rejects Philippians: "The Epistles to the Colossians and to the Philippians ... are spurious, and were written by the Catholic school near the end of the second century, to heal the strife between the Jew and the Gentile factions" (Paulus). Dr. Kuenen and the other Dutch critics admit that Philippians and Philemon, as well as First Thessalonians, are doubtful.

That the Pastoral Epistles are forgeries is now conceded by all critics. According to the German critics they belong to the second century. Hebrews does not purport to be a Pauline document. Luther says: "The Epistle to the Hebrews is not by St. Paul, or, indeed, by any apostle" (Standing Preface to Luther's N.T.).

Four Epistles -- Romans, First and Second Corinthians, and Galatians -- while rejected by a few critics, are generally admitted to be the genuine writings of Paul. These books were written, it is claimed, about a quarter of a century after the death of Christ. They are the only books of the New Testament whose authenticity can be maintained.

Admitting the authenticity of these books, however, is not admitting the historical existence of Christ and the divine origin of Christianity. Paul was not a witness of the alleged events upon which Christianity rests. He did not become a convert to Christianity until many years after the death of Christ. He did not see Christ (save in a vision); he did not listen to his teachings; he did not learn from his disciples. "The Gospel which was preached of me is not after man, for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it" (Gal. i, II, 12). Paul accepted only to a very small extent the religion of Christ's disciples. He professed to derive his knowledge from supernatural sources -- from trances and visions. Regarding the value of such testimony the author of Supernatural Religion (p. 970) says: "No one can deny, and medical and psychological annals prove, that many men have been subject to visions and hallucinations which have never been seriously attributed to supernatural causes. There is not one single valid reason removing the ecstatic visions and trances of the Apostle Paul from this class." 

The corporeal existence of the Christ of the Evangelists receives slight confirmation in the writings of Paul. His Christ was not the incarnate Word of John, nor the demi-god of Matthew and Luke. Of the immaculate conception of Jesus he knew nothing. To Him Christ was the son of God in a spiritual rather than in a physical sense. "His son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. i, 3, 4). "God sent forth his son, made of a woman [but not of a virgin], made under the law" (Gal. iv, 4).

With the Evangelists the proofs of Christ's divinity are his miracles. Their books teem with accounts of these. But Paul evidently knows nothing of these miracles. With him the evidences of Christ's divine mission are his resurrection and the spiritual gifts conferred on those who accept him.

The Evangelists teach a material resurrection. When the woman visited his tomb "they entered in and found not the body of Jesus" (Luke xxiv, 3). The divine messengers said to them, "He is not here, but is risen" (6). "He sat at meat" with his disciples; "he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them" (30). "Then he said to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side" (John xx, 27). This is entirely at variance with the teachings of Paul. "But not is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead" (I Cor. xv, 20, 21). "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die; and that which thou sowest thou sowest not that body that shall be" (35-37). "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body" (44). "Now this I say brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (50).

The Christ that Paul saw in a vision was a spiritual being -- an apparition; and this appearance he considers of exactly the same character as the post mortem appearances of Christ to his disciples. "He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve; after that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; ... after that, he was seen of James; then all of the Apostles. And last of all, he was seen of me also" (I Cor. xv, 5-8).



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 Chapter 4

The Infancy of Christ
Graphic Rule

We have seen that the Four Gospels are not authentic, that they are anonymous writings which appeared late in the second century. If their contents seemed credible and their statements harmonized with each other this want of authenticity would invalidate their authority, because the testimony of an unknown witness cannot be accepted as authoritative. On the other hand, if their authenticity could be established, if it could be shown that they were written by the authors claimed, the incredible and contradictory character of their contents would destroy their authority.

As historical documents these books are hardly worthy of credit. The Arabian Nights is almost as worthy of credit as the Four Gospels. In both are to be found accounts of things possible and of things impossible. To believe the impossible is gross superstition; to believe the possible, simply because it is possible, is blind credulity. These books are adduced as the credentials of Christ. A critical analysis of these credentials reveals hundreds of errors. A presentation of these errors will occupy the five succeeding chapters of this work. If it can be shown that they contain errors, however trivial some of them may appear, this refutes the claim of inerrancy and divinity. If it can be shown that they abound with errors, this destroys their credibility as historical documents. Destroy the credibility of the Four Gospels and you destroy all proofs of Christ's divinity -- all proofs of his existence. 

Short Graphic Rule


When was Jesus born?

Matthew: "In the days of Herod" (ii, 1).

Luke: "When Cyrenius was governor of Syria" (ii, 1-7).

Nearly every biographer gives the date of his subject's birth. Yet not one of the Evangelists gives the date of Jesus' birth. Two, Matthew and Luke, attempt to give the time approximately. But between these two attempts there is a discrepancy of at least ten years; for Herod died 4 B.C., while Cyrenius did not become governor of Syria until 7 A.D.

A reconciliation of these statements is impossible. Matthew clearly states that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod. Luke states that Augustus Caesar issued a decree that the world should be taxed, that "this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria," and that Jesus was born at the time of this taxing.

The following extracts from Josephus, the renowned historian of the race and country to which Jesus belonged, give the date of this taxing and the time that elapsed between the death of Herod and the taxing, and which reckoned backward from this gives the date of Herod's death:

"And now Herod altered his testament upon the alteration of his mind; for he appointed Antipas, to whom he had before left his kingdom, to be tetrarch of Galilee and Berea, and granted the kingdom to Archelaus.... When he had done these things he died" (Antiquities, B. xvii, ch. 8, sec. 1).

"But in the tenth year of Archelaus's government, both his brethren, and the principal men of Judea and Samaria, not being able to bear his barbarous and tyrannical usage of them, accused him before Caesar.... And when he was come [to Rome], Caesar, upon hearing what certain accusers of his had to say, and what reply he could make, both banished him, and appointed Vienna, a city of Gaul, to be the place of his habitation, and took his money away from him" (ibid., ch. 13, sec. 2).

"Archelaus's country was laid to the province of Syria; and Cyrenius, one that had been consul, was sent by Caesar to take account of people's effects in Syria, and to sell the house of Archelaus" (ibid., sec. 5). 

"When Cyrenius had now disposed of Archelaus's money, and when the taxings were come to a conclusion, which were made in the thirty-seventh of Caesar's victory over Antony at Actium," etc. (ibid., B. xviii, ch. 2, sec. 1).

The battle of Actium was fought September 2, B.C. 31. The thirty-seventh year from this battle comprehended the time elapsing between September 2, A.D. 6, and September 2, A.D. 7, the mean of which was March 2, A.D. 7. The mean of the tenth year preceding this -- the year in which Herod died -- was September 2, B.C. 4.

It has been suggested by some unacquainted with Roman history that Cyrenius [Quirinus] may have been twice governor of Syria. Cyrenius was but once governor of Syria, and this not until 7 A.D. During the last years of Herod's reign, and during all the years of Archelaus's reign, Sentius Saturninus and Quintilius Varus held this office. Even if Cyrenius had previously held the office the events related by Luke could not have occurred then because Judea prior to 7 A.D. was not a part of Syria.

The second chapter of Luke which narrates the birth and infancy of Jesus, conflicts with the first chapter of this book. In this chapter it is expressly stated that Zacharias, the priest, lived in the time of Herod and, inferentially, that the conceptions of John and Jesus occurred at this time.

Christian chronology, by which events are supposed to be reckoned from the birth of Christ, agrees with neither Matthew nor Luke, but dates from a point nearly intermediate between the two. According to Matthew, Christ was born at least five years before the beginning of the Christian era; according to Luke he was born at least six years after the beginning of the Christian era This is 1907: but according to Matthew Christ was born not later than 1912 years ago; while according to Luke he was born not earlier than 1901 years ago.

At least ten different opinions regarding the year of Christ's birth have been advanced by Christian scholars. Dodwell places it in 6 B.C., Chrysostom 5 B.C., Usher, whose opinion is most commonly received, 4 B.C., Irenaeus 3 B.C., Jerome 2 B.C., Tertullian 1 B.C. Some modern authorities place it in 1 A.D., others in 2 A.D., and still others in 3 A.D.; while those who accept Luke as infallible authority must place it as late as 7 A.D. 

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It is generally assumed that Jesus was born in the last year of Herod's reign. How long before the close of Herod's reign was he born?

Matthew: At least two years (ii, 1-16).

Matthew says that when the wise men visited Herod he diligently inquired of them the time when the star which announced the birth of Jesus first appeared. When he determined to destroy Jesus and massacred the infants of Bethlehem and the surrounding country, he slew those "from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men," clearly indicating that Jesus was nearly or quite two years old at this time.

In attempting to reconcile Matthew's visit of the wise men to Jesus at Bethlehem with the narrative of Luke, which makes his stay there less than six weeks, it has been assumed that this visit occurred immediately after his birth, whereas, according to Matthew, it did not occur until about two years after his birth.

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In what month and on what day of the month was he born?

Not one of his biographers is prepared to tell; primitive Christians did not know; the church has never been able to determine this. A hundred different opinions regarding it have been expressed by Christian scholars. Wagenseil places it in February, Paulius in March, Greswell in April, Lichtenstein in June, Strong in August, Lightfoot in September, and Newcome in October. Clinton says that he was born in the spring, Larchur says that he was born in the fall. Some early Christians believed that it occurred on the 5th of January; others the 19th of April; others still on the 20th of May. The Eastern church believed that he was born on the 7th of January. The church of Rome, in the fourth century, selected the 25th of December on which to celebrate the anniversary of his birth; and this date has been accepted by the greater portion of the Christian world. 

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What determined the selection of this date?

"There was a double reason for selecting this day. In the first place it had been observed from a hoary antiquity as a heathen festival, following the longest night of the winter solstice, and was called "the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun." It was a fine thought to celebrate on that day the birth of him whom the Gospel called "the light of the world."...The second reason was, that at Rome the days from the 17th to the 23rd of December were devoted to unbridled merrymaking These days were called the Saturnalia.... Now the church was always anxious to meet the heathen, whom she had converted or was beginning to convert, half-way, by allowing them to retain the feasts they were accustomed to, only giving them a Christian dress, or attaching a new and Christian signification to them" (Bible for Learners, vol. m, pp. 66, 67).

Gibbon says: "The Roman Christians, ignorant of the real time of the birth of Jesus, fixed the solemn festival on the 25th of December, the winter solstice when the Pagans annually celebrated the birth of the sun."

Short Graphic Rule


What precludes the acceptance of this date?

Luke: At the time of his birth "there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night" (ii, 8).

Shepherds did not abide in the field with their flocks at night in mid-winter. The Rev. Cunningham Geikie, D.D., a leading English orthodox authority on Christ, says:

"One knows how wretched even Rome is in winter and Palestine is much worse during hard weather. Nor is it likely that shepherds would lie out through the night, except during unseasonably fine weather" ("Christmas at Bethlehem," in Deems' Holydays and Holidays, p. 405).

"The nativity of Jesus in December should be given up." -- Dr. Adam Clarke. 

In regard to the date of Christ's birth Dr. Farrar says: "It must be admitted that we cannot demonstrate the exact year of the nativity.... As to the day and month of the nativity it is certain that they can never be recovered; they were absolutely unknown to the early fathers, and there is scarcely one month of the year which has not been fixed upon as probable by modern critics."

The inability of Christians to determine the date of Christ's birth is one of the strongest proofs of his nonexistence as a historical character. Were the story of his miraculous birth and marvelous life true the date of his birth would have been preserved and would be today, the best authenticated fact in history.

Short Graphic Rule


Where was Jesus born?

Matthew and Luke: In Bethlehem of Judea (Matt. ii, l; Luke ii, 1-7).

Aside from these stories in Matthew and Luke concerning the nativity, which are clearly of later origin than the remaining documents composing the books and which many Christian scholars reject, there is not a word in the Four Gospels to confirm the claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Every statement in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as well as Acts, concerning his nativity, is to the effect that he was born in Nazareth of Galilee. He is never called "Jesus of Bethlehem," but always "Jesus of Nazareth." According to modern usage "Jesus of Nazareth" might merely signify that Nazareth was the place of his residence and not necessarily the place of his birth. But this usage was unknown to the Jews. Had he been born at Bethlehem, he would, according to the Jewish custom, have been called "Jesus of Bethlehem," because the place of birth always determined this distinguishing adjunct, and the fact of his having removed to another place would not have changed it.

Peter (Acts ii, 22; iii, 6), Paul (Acts xxvi, 9), Philip (John i, 45), Cleopas and his companion (Luke xxiv, 19), Pilate (John xix, 19), Judas and the band sent to arrest Jesus (John xviii, 5, 7), the High Priest's maid (Mark xiv, 67), blind Bartimaeus (Mark x, 47), the unclean spirits (Mark i, 24; Luke iv, 34), the multitudes that attended his meetings (Matt. xxi, 11; Luke xviii, 37), all declared him to be a native of Nazareth.

To the foregoing may be added the testimony of Jesus himself. When Paul asked him who he was he answered: "I am Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts xxii, 8).

Many of the Jews rejected Christ because he was born in Galilee and not in Bethlehem. "Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scriptures said, That Christ cometh out of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?" (John vii, 41, 42).

Concerning this subject the Bible for Learners says: "The primitive tradition declared emphatically that Nazareth was the place from which Jesus came. We may still see this distinctly enough in our Gospels. Jesus is constantly called the Nazarene, or Jesus of Nazareth. This was certainly the name by which he was known in his own time; and of course such local names were given to men from the place of their birth, and not from the place in which they lived, which might constantly be changing Nazareth is called in so many words his own, that is his native city, and he himself declares it so" (Vol. III, pp. 39, 40).

That Jesus the man, if such a being existed, was not born at Bethlehem is affirmed by all critics. That he could not have been born at Nazareth is urged by many. Nazareth, it is asserted, did not exist at this time. Christian scholars admit that there is no proof of its existence at the beginning of the Christian era outside of the New Testament. The Encyclopedia Biblica, a leading Christian authority, says: "We cannot perhaps venture to assert positively that there was a city called Nazareth in Jesus' time."

Short Graphic Rule


His reputed birth at Bethlehem was in fulfillment of what prophecy?

"And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda; for out of thee shall come a governor that shall rule my people Israel" (Matthew ii, 6). 

This is a misquotation of Micah v, 2. The passage as it appears in our version of the Old Testament is itself a mistranslation. Correctly rendered it does not mean that this ruler shall come from Bethlehem, but simply that he shall be a descendant of David whose family belonged to Bethlehem.

Concerning this prophecy it may be said, 1. That Jesus never became governor or ruler of Israel; 2. That the ruler referred to was to be a military leader who should deliver Israel from the Assyrians. "And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into the land ... thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian" (Micah v, 5, 6).

Short Graphic Rule


Jesus is called the Son of David. Why?

Matthew and Luke: Because Joseph, who was not his father, but merely his guardian or foster father, was descended from David.

The Jews expected a Messiah. This expectation was realized, it is claimed, in Jesus Christ. His Messianic marks, however, were not discernible and the Jews, for the most part, rejected him. This Messiah must be a son of David. Before Jesus' claims could even be considered his Davidic descent must be established. This Matthew and Luke attempt to do. Each gives what purports to be a genealogy of him. If these genealogies agree they may be false; if they do not agree one must be false.

Short Graphic Rule


How many generations were there from David to Jesus?

Matthew: Twenty-eight (i, 6-16).

Luke: Forty-three (iii, 23-31).

Luke makes two more generations from David to Jesus in a period of one thousand years than Matthew does from Abraham to Jesus in a period of two thousand years. 

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How many generations were there from Abraham to Jesus?

Matthew: "From Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations" -- in all, forty-two generations (i, 17).

Here Matthew contradicts his own record given in the preceding sixteen verses; for, including both Abraham and Jesus, he names but forty-one generations: 1. Abraham, 2. Isaac, 3. Jacob, 4. Judas, 5. Phares, 6. Ezrom, 7. Aram, 8. Aminadab, 9. Naason, 10. Salmon, 11. Booz, 12. Obed, 13. Jesse, 14. David, 15. Solomon, 16. Roboam, 17. Abia, 18. Asa, 19. Josaphat, 20. Joram, 21. Ozias, 22. Joatham, 23. Achaz, 24. Ezekias, 25. Manasses, 26. Amon, 27. Josias, 28. Jechonias, 29. Salathiel, 30. Zorobabel, 31. Abiud, 32. Eliakim, 33. Azor, 34. Sadoc, 35. Achim, 36. Eliud, 37. Eleazer, 38. Matthan, 39. Jacob, 40. Joseph, 41. Jesus Christ.

Short Graphic Rule


Does Luke's genealogy agree with the Old Testament?

It does not. Luke gives twenty generations from Adam to Abraham, while Genesis (v, 3-32; xi, 10-26) and Chronicles (1 Ch. i, 1-4; 24-27) each gives but nineteen.

Short Graphic Rule


How many generations were there from Abraham to David?

Matthew: "From Abraham to David are fourteen generations" (i, 17).

From Abraham to David are not fourteen, but thirteen generations; for David does not belong to this period. The genealogical table of Matthew naturally and logically comprises three divisions which he recognizes. The first division comprises the generations preceding the establishment of the Kingdom of David, beginning with Abraham; the second comprises the kings of Judah, beginning with David the first and ending with Jechonias the last; the third comprises the generations following the kings of Judah, from the Captivity to Christ.

Short Graphic Rule


How many generations were there from David to the Captivity?

Matthew: "From David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations" (i, 17).

In order to obtain a uniformity of numbers -- three periods of double seven (seven was the sacred number of the Jews) each -- Matthew purposely falsifies the records of the Old Testament. A reference to the Davidic genealogy (1 Chronicles iii) shows that he omits the generations of Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, and Jehoiakim, four Jewish kings, lineal descendants of David, whose combined reigns amount to over eighty years.


The first three omissions are thus explained by Augustine: "Ochozias [Ahaziah], Joash, and Amazias were excluded from the number, because their wickedness was continuous and without interval."

As if the exclusion of their names from a genealogical list would expunge their records from history and drain their blood from the veins of their descendants. But aside from the absurdity of this explanation, the premises are false. Those whose names are excluded from the list were not men whose "wickedness was continuous and without interval," while some whose names are not excluded were. Ahaziah reigned but one year. Joash reigned forty years and both Kings and Chronicles affirm that "He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord" (2 Kings xii, 2; 2 Chron. xxiv, 2). Amaziah reigned twenty-nine years, and he, too, "did that which was right in the sight of the Lord" (2 Kings xiv, 3). On the other hand, Rehoboam, Joram and Jechonias, whose names are retained in Matthew's table, are represented as monsters of wickedness.

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