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Sadler, Michael Ferrebee / The Lost Gospel and Its Contents Or, The Author of Supernatural Religion Refuted by Himself
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[Transcriber's Note: Footnotes have been relocated to the end of the
text. Footnote anchors have been labeled with the original page and
footnote numbers.]




THE LOST GOSPEL AND ITS CONTENTS;

OR,

THE AUTHOR OF "SUPERNATURAL RELIGION" REFUTED BY HIMSELF.


BY THE REV. M.F. SADLER, M.A.,
RECTOR OF HONITON.




LONDON:
GEORGE BELL AND SONS, YORK STREET,
COVENT GARDEN.
1876.




PREFACE.


This book is entitled "The Lost Gospel" because the book to which it is
an answer is an attempt to discredit the Supernatural element of
Christianity by undermining the authority of our present Gospels in
favour of an earlier form of the narrative which has perished.

It seemed to me that, if the author of "Supernatural Religion" proved
his point, and demonstrated that the Fathers of the Second Century
quoted Gospels earlier than those which we now possess, then the
evidence for the Supernatural itself, considered as apart from the
particular books in which the records of it are contained, would be
strengthened; if, that is, it could be shown that this earlier form of
the narrative contained the same Supernatural Story.

The author of "Supernatural Religion," whilst he has utterly failed to
show that the Fathers in question have used earlier Gospels, has, to my
mind, proved to demonstration that, if they have quoted earlier
narratives, those accounts contain, not only substantially, but in
detail, the same Gospel which we now possess, and in a form rather more
suggestive of the Supernatural. So that, if he has been successful, the
author has only succeeded in proving that the Gospel narrative itself,
in a written form, is at least fifty or sixty years older than the books
which he attempts to discredit.

With respect to Justin Martyr, to the bearing of whose writings on this
subject I have devoted the greater part of my book, I can only say that,
in my examination of his works, my bias was with the author of
"Supernatural Religion." I had hitherto believed that this Father, being
a native of Palestine, and living so near to the time of the Apostles,
was acquainted with views of certain great truths which he had derived
from traditions of the oral teaching of the Apostles, and the possession
of which made him in some measure an independent witness for the views
in question; but I confess that, on a closer examination of his
writings, I was somewhat disappointed, for I found that he had no
knowledge of our Lord and of His teaching worth speaking of, except
what he might be fairly assumed to have derived from our present
New Testament.

I have to acknowledge my obligations to Messrs. Clark, of Edinburgh, for
allowing me to make somewhat copious extracts from the writings of
Justin in their ante-Nicene Library. This has saved a Parish Priest like
myself much time and trouble. I believe that in all cases of importance
in which I have altered the translation, or felt that there was a doubt,
I have given the original from Otto's edition (Jena, 1842).




CONTENTS.

PAGE
SECTION I.--Introductory 1
SECTION II.--The Way Cleared 5
SECTION III.--The Principal Witness--His Religious
Views 9
SECTION IV.--The Principal Witness--The Sources of
his Knowledge respecting the Birth of Christ 19
SECTION V.--The Principal Witness--His Testimony
respecting the Baptism of Christ 29
SECTION VI.--The Principal Witness--His Testimony
respecting the Death of Christ 33
SECTION VII.--The Principal Witness--His Testimony
respecting the Moral Teaching of our Lord 40
SECTION VIII.--The Principal Witness--His Testimony
to St. John 45
SECTION IX.--The Principal Witness--His Further
Testimony to St. John 53
SECTION X.--The Principal Witness--His Testimony
summed up 60
SECTION XI.--The Principal Witness on our Lord's
Godhead 65
SECTION XII.--The Principal Witness on the Doctrine
of the Logos 73
SECTION XIII.--The Principal Witness on our Lord as
King, Priest, and Angel 80
SECTION XIV.--The Principal Witness on the Doctrine
of the Trinity 85
SECTION XV.--Justin and St. John on the Incarnation 88
SECTION XVI.--Justin and St. John on the Subordination
of the Son 93
SECTION XVII.--Justin and Philo 98
SECTION XVIII.--Discrepancies between St. John and the
Synoptics 104
SECTION XIX.--External Proofs of the Authenticity
of our Four Gospels 118
Note on Section XIX.--Testimonies of Irenaeus, Clement
of Alexandria, and Tertullian to the use of
the Four Gospels in their day 136
SECTION XX.--The Evidence for Miracles 149
SECTION XXI.--Objections to Miracles 162
SECTION XXII.--Jewish Credulity 167
SECTION XXIII.--Demoniacal Possession 173
SECTION XXIV.--Competent Witnesses 179
SECTION XXV.--Date of Testimony 185




THE LOST GOSPEL.


SECTION I.

INTRODUCTORY.


In the following pages I have examined the conclusions at which the
author of a book entitled "Supernatural Religion" has assumed to have
arrived.

The method and contents of the work in question may be thus described.

The work is entitled "Supernatural Religion, an Inquiry into the Reality
of Divine Revelation." Its contents occupy two volumes of about 500
pages each, so that we have in it an elaborate attack upon Christianity
of very considerable length. The first 200 pages of the first volume are
filled with arguments to prove that a Revelation, such as the one we
profess to believe in, supernatural in its origin and nature and
attested by miracles, is simply incredible, and so, on no account, no
matter how evidenced, to be received.

But, inasmuch as the author has to face the fact, that the Christian
Religion professes to be attested by miracles performed at a very late
period in the history of the world, and said to have been witnessed by
very large numbers of persons, and related very fully in certain books
called the Canonical Gospels, which the whole body of Christians have,
from a very early period indeed, received as written by eye-witnesses,
or by the companions of eye-witnesses, the remaining 800 pages are
occupied with attempts at disparaging the testimony of these writings.
In order to this, the Christian Fathers and heretical writers of a
certain period are examined, to ascertain whether they quoted the four
Evangelists. The period from which the writer chooses his witnesses to
the use of the four Evangelists, is most unwarrantably and arbitrarily
restricted to the first ninety years of the second century (100-185 or
so). We shall have ample means for showing that this limitation was for
a purpose.

The array of witnesses examined runs thus: Clement of Rome, Barnabas,
Hermas, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Hegesippus, Papias of
Hierapolis, the Clementines, the Epistle to Diognetus, Basilides,
Valentinus, Marcion, Tatian, Dionysius of Corinth, Melito of Sardis,
Claudius Apollinaris, Athenagoras, Epistle of Vienne and Lyons,
Ptolemaeus and Heracleon, Celsus and the Canon of Muratori.

The examination of references, or supposed references, in these books to
the first three Gospels fills above 500 pages, and the remainder (about
220) is occupied with an examination of the claims of the fourth Gospel
to be considered as canonical.

The writer conducts this examination with an avowed dogmatical bias; and
this, as the reader will soon see, influences the manner of his
examination throughout the whole book. For instance, he never fails to
give to the anti-Christian side the benefit of every doubt, or even
suspicion. This leads him to make the most of the smallest discrepancy
between the words of any supposed quotation in any early writer from one
of our Canonical Gospels, and the words as contained in our present
Gospels. If the writer quotes the Evangelist freely, with some
differences, however slight, in the words, he is assumed to quote from a
lost Apocryphal Gospel. If the writer gives the words as we find them in
our Gospels, he attempts to show that the father or heretic need not
have even seen our present Gospels; for, inasmuch as our present Gospels
have many things in common which are derived from an earlier source, the
quoter may have derived the words he quotes from the earlier source. If
the quoter actually mentions the name of the Evangelist whose Gospel he
refers to (say St. Mark), it is roundly asserted that his St. Mark is
not the same as ours. [Endnote 3:1]

The reader may ask, "How is it possible, against such a mode of
argument, to prove the genuineness or authenticity of any book, sacred
or profane?" And, of course, it is not. Such a way of conducting a
controversy seems absurd, but on the author's premises it is a
necessity. He asserts the dogma that the Governor of the world cannot
interfere by way of miracle. He has to meet the fact that the foremost
religion of the world appeals to miracles, especially the miracle of the
Resurrection of the Founder. For the truth of this miraculous
Resurrection there is at least a thousand times more evidence than there
is for any historical fact which is recorded to have occurred 1,800
years ago. Of course, if the supernatural in Christianity is impossible,
and so incredible, all the witnesses to it must be discredited; and
their number, their age, and their unanimity upon the principal points
are such that the mere attempt must tax the powers of human labour and
ingenuity to the uttermost.

How, then, is such a book to be met? It would take a work of twice the
size to rebut all the assertions of the author, for, naturally, an
answer to any assertion must take up more space than the assertion.
Fortunately, in this case, we are not driven to any such course; for, as
I shall show over and over again, the author has furnished us with the
most ample means for his own refutation. No book that I have over read
or heard of contains so much which can be met by implication from the
pages of the author himself, nor can I imagine any book of such
pretensions pervaded with so entire a misconception of the conditions of
the problem on which he is writing.

These assertions I shall now, God helping, proceed to make good.




SECTION II.

THE WAY CLEARED.


The writers, whose testimonies to the existence or use of our present
Gospels are examined by the author, are twenty-three in number. Five of
these, namely, Hegesippus, Papias, Melito, Claudius Apollinaris, and
Dionysius of Corinth are only known to us through fragments preserved as
quotations in Eusebius and others. Six others--Basilides, Valentinus,
Marcion, Ptolemaeus, Heracleon, and Celsus--are heretical or infidel
writers whom we only know through notices or scraps of their works in
the writings of the Christian Fathers who refuted them. The Epistle of
the Martyrs of Vienne and Lyons is only in part preserved in the pages
of Eusebius. The Canon of Muratori is a mutilated fragment of uncertain
date. Athenagoras and Tatian are only known through Apologies written
for the Heathen, the last of all Christian books in which to look for
definite references to canonical writings. The Epistle to Diognetus is a
small tract of uncertain date and authorship. The Clementine Homilies is
an apocryphal work of very little value in the present discussion.

These are all the writings placed by the author as subsequent to Justin
Martyr. The writers previous to Justin, of whom the author of
"Supernatural Religion" makes use, are Clement of Rome (to whom we shall
afterwards refer), the Epistle of Barnabas, the Pastor of Hermas, the
Epistles of Ignatius, and that of Polycarp.

As I desire to take the author on his own ground whenever it is possible
to do so, I shall, for argument's sake, take the author's account of the
age and authority of these documents. I shall consequently assume with
him that

"None of the epistles [of Ignatius] have any value as evidence for
an earlier period than the end of the second or beginning of the
third century [from about 190 to 210 or so], if indeed they possess
any value at all." [6:1] (Vol. i. p. 274.)

With respect to the short Epistle of Polycarp, I shall be patient of his
assumption that

"Instead of proving the existence of the epistles of Ignatius, with
which it is intimately associated, it is itself discredited in
proportion as they are shown to be inauthentic." (Vol. i. p. 274)

and so he

"assigns it to the latter half of the second century, in so far as
any genuine part of it is concerned." (P. 275)

Similarly, I shall assume that the Pastor of Hermas "may have been
written about the middle of the second century" (p. 256), and, with
respect to the Epistle of Barnabas, I shall take the latest date
mentioned by the author of "Supernatural Religion," where he writes
respecting the epistle--

"There is little or no certainty how far into the second century its
composition may not reasonably be advanced. Critics are divided upon
the point, a few are disposed to date the epistle about the end of
the first century; others at the beginning of the second century;
while a still greater number assign it to the reign of Adrian (A.D.
117-130); and others, not without reason, consider that it exhibits
marks of a still later period." (Vol. i. p. 235.)

The way, then, is so far cleared that I can confine my remarks to the
investigation of the supposed citations from the Canonical Gospels, to
be found in the works of Justin Martyr. Before beginning this, it may be
well to direct the reader's attention to the real point at issue; and
this I shall have to do continually throughout my examination. The work
is entitled "Supernatural Religion," and is an attack upon what the
author calls "Ecclesiastical Christianity," because such Christianity
sets forth the Founder of our Religion as conceived and born in a
supernatural way; as doing throughout His life supernatural acts; as
dying for a supernatural purpose; and as raised from the dead by a
miracle, which was the sign and seal of the truth of all His
supernatural claims. The attack in the book in question takes the form
of a continuous effort to show that all our four Gospels are
unauthentic, by showing, or attempting to show, that they were never
quoted before the latter part of the second century: but the real point
of attack is the supernatural in the records of Christ's Birth, Life,
Death, and Resurrection.




SECTION III.

THE PRINCIPAL WITNESS.--HIS RELIGIOUS VIEWS.


The examination of the quotations in Justin Martyr of the Synoptic
Gospels occupies nearly one hundred and fifty pages; and deservedly so,
for the acknowledged writings of this Father are, if we except the
Clementine forgeries and the wild vision of Hermas, more in length than
those of all the other twenty-three witnesses put together. They are
also valuable because no doubts can be thrown upon their date, and
because they take up, or advert to, so many subjects of interest to
Christians in all ages.

The universally acknowledged writings of Justin Martyr are three:--Two
Apologies addressed to the Heathen, and a Dialogue with Trypho a Jew.

The first Apology is addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, and was
written before the year 150 A.D. The second Apology is by some supposed
to be the first in point of publication, and is addressed to the Roman
people.

The contents of the two Apologies are remarkable in this respect, that
Justin scruples not to bring before the heathen the very arcana of
Christianity. No apologist shows so little "reserve" in stating to the
heathen the mysteries of the faith. At the very outset he enunciates the
doctrine of the Incarnate Logos:--

"For not only among the Greeks did Logos (or Reason) prevail to
condemn these things by Socrates, but also among the barbarians were
they condemned by the Logos himself, who took shape and became man,
and was called Jesus Christ." [10:1] (Apol. I. 5.)

In the next chapter he sets forth the doctrine and worship of the
Trinity:--

"But both Him [the Father] and the Son, Who came forth from Him and
taught these things to us and the host of heaven, the other good
angels who follow and are made like to Him, and the Prophetic
Spirit, we worship and adore, knowing them in reason and truth."
[10:2]

Again:--

"Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, Who was also born for
this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of
Judaea, in the time of Tiberius Caesar; and that we reasonably
worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the True God
Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the Prophetic
Spirit in the third." (Apol. I. ch. x. 3.)

Again, a little further on, he claims for Christians a higher belief in
the supernatural than the heathen had, for, whereas the heathen went no
further than believing that souls after death are in a state of
sensation, Christians believed in the resurrection of the body:--

"Such favour as you grant to these, grant also unto us, who not less
but more firmly than they believe in God; since we expect to receive
again our own bodies, though they be dead and cast into the earth,
for we maintain that with God nothing is impossible." (Apol. I. ch.
xviii.)

In the next chapter (xix.) he proceeds to prove the Resurrection
possible. This he does from the analogy of human generation, and he
concludes thus:--

"So also judge ye that it is not impossible that the bodies of men
after they have been dissolved, and like seeds resolved into earth,
should in God's appointed time rise again and put on incorruption."

In another place in the same Apology he asserts the personality of
Satan:--

"For among us the prince of the wicked spirits is called the
serpent, and Satan, and the devil, as you can learn by looking into
our writings, and that he would be sent into the fire with his host,
and the men who followed him, and would be punished for an endless
duration, Christ foretold." (Apol. I. ch. xxviii.)

In the same short chapter he asserts in very weighty words his belief in
the ever-watchful providence of God:--

"And if any one disbelieves that God cares for these things (the
welfare of the human race), he will thereby either insinuate that
God does not exist, or he will assert that though He exists He
delights in vice, or exists like a stone, and that neither virtue
nor vice are anything, but only in the opinion of men these things
are reckoned good or evil, and this is the greatest profanity and
wickedness." (Apol. I. ch. xxviii.)

Shortly after this he tells the heathen Emperor that the mission and
work of Jesus Christ had been predicted:--

"There were amongst the Jews certain men who were prophets of God,
through whom the Prophetic Spirit published beforehand things that
were to come to pass, ere ever they happened. And their prophecies,
as they were spoken and when they were uttered, the kings who
happened to be reigning among the Jews at the several times
carefully preserved in their possession, when they had been arranged
in books by the prophets themselves in their own Hebrew language....
In these books, then, of the prophets, we found Jesus Christ
foretold as coming, born of a virgin, growing up to man's estate,
and healing every disease and every sickness, and raising the dead,
and being hated, and unrecognized, and crucified, and dying and
rising again, and ascending into heaven, and being, and being
called, the Son of God. We find it also predicted that certain
persons should be sent by Him into every nation to publish these
things, and that rather among the Gentiles (than among the Jews) men
should believe on Him. And He was predicted before He appeared,
first 5,000 years before, and again 3,000, then 2,000, then 1,000,
and yet again 800; for in the succession of generations prophets
after prophets arose." (Apol. I. ch. xxxi.)

Then he proceeds to show how certain particular prophecies which he
cites were fulfilled in the Jews having a lawgiver till the time of
Christ, and not after; in Christ's entry into Jerusalem; in His Birth of
a Virgin; in the place of His Birth; in His having His hands and feet
pierced with the nails. (Ch. xxxiii., xxxiv., xxxv.)

Again, immediately afterwards, he endeavours to classify certain
prophecies as peculiarly those of God the Father, certain others as
peculiarly those of God the Son, and others as the special utterance of
the Spirit. (Ch. xxxvi.-xl.)

Then he proceeds to specify certain particular prophecies as fulfilled
in our Lord's Advent (ch. xl.); certain others in His Crucifixion
(xli.); in His Session in heaven (xlv.); in the desolation of Judaea
(xlvii.); in the miracles and Death of Christ (xlviii.); in His
rejection by the Jews (xlix.); in His Humiliation (l.) He concludes with
asserting the extreme importance of prophecy, as without it we should
not be warranted in believing such things of any one of the human
race:--

"For with what reason should we believe of a crucified Man that He
is the first-born of the unbegotten God, and Himself will pass
judgment on the whole human race, unless we have found testimonies
concerning Him published before He came, and was born as man, and
unless we saw that things had happened accordingly,--the devastation
of the land of the Jews, and men of every race persuaded by His
teaching through the Apostles, and rejecting their old habits, in
which, being deceived, they had had their conversation." (Ch. liii.)

After this he speaks (ch. lxi.) of Christian Baptism, as being in some
sense a conveyance of Regeneration, and of the Eucharist (ch. lxvi.), as
being a mysterious communication of the Flesh and Blood of Christ, and
at the conclusion he describes the worship of Christians, and tells the
Emperor that in their assemblies the memoirs of the Apostles (by which
name he designates the accounts of the Birth, Life, and Death of
Christ), or the writings of the Prophets were read, as long as time
permits, putting the former on a par with the latter, as equally
necessary for the instruction of Christians.

Besides this, we find that Justin holds all these views of Scripture
truths which are now called Evangelical. He speaks of men now being

"Purified no longer by the blood of goats and sheep, or by the ashes
of an heifer, or by the offerings of fine flour, but by faith
through the Blood of Christ, and through His Death, Who died for
this very reason." (Dial.)

And again:

"So that it becomes you to eradicate this hope (_i.e._ of salvation
by Jewish ordinances) from your souls, and hasten to know in what
way forgiveness of sins, and a hope of inheriting the promised good
things, shall be yours. But there is no other way than this to
become acquainted with this Christ, to be washed in the fountain
spoken of by Isaiah for the remission of sins, and for the rest to
lead sinless lives." (Dial. xliv.)

So that from this Apology alone, though addressed to the heathen, we
learn that Justin cordially accepted every supernatural element in
Christianity. He thoroughly believed in the Trinity, the Incarnation of
the Logos, the miraculous Conception, Birth, Life, Miracles, Death,
Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ. He firmly believed in the
predictive element in prophecy, in the atoning virtue of the Death of
Christ, in the mysterious inward grace or inward part in each Sacrament,
in the heart-cleansing power of the Spirit of God, in the particular
providence of God, in the resurrection of the body, in eternal reward
and eternal punishment.

Whatever, then, was the source of his knowledge, that knowledge made him
intensely dogmatic in his creed, and a firm believer in the supernatural
nature of everything in his religion.

The Second Apology is of the same nature as the first. A single short
extract or two from it will show how firmly the author held the
supernatural:--

"Our doctrines, then, appear to be greater than all human teaching;
because Christ, who appeared for our sakes, became the whole
rational being, both body, and reason, and soul.... These things our
Christ did through His own power. For no one trusted in Socrates so
as to die for this doctrine; but in Christ, who was partially known
even by Socrates (for He was and is the Word Who is in every man,
and Who foretold the things that were to come to pass both through
the prophets and in His own Person when He was made of like
passions, and taught these things); not only philosophers and
scholars believed, but also artizans and people entirely uneducated,
despising both glory, and fear, and death; since He is a Power of
the ineffable Father, and not the mere instrument of human reason."
(Apol. II. ch. x.)

The dialogue with Trypho is the record of a lengthy discussion with a
Jew for the purpose of converting him to the Christian faith. The
assertion of the supernatural is here, if possible, more unreserved than
in the First Apology. In order to convert Trypho, Justin cites every
prophecy of the Old Testament that can, with the smallest show of
reason, be referred to Christ.

Having, first of all, vindicated the Christians from the charge of
setting aside the Jewish law or covenant, by an argument evidently
derived from the Epistle to the Hebrews, [15:1] and vindicated for
Christians the title of the true spiritual Israel, [15:2] he proceeds to
the prophetical Scriptures, and transcribes the whole of the prophecy of
Isaiah from the fifty-second chapter to the fifty-fourth, and applies it
to Christ and His Kingdom. (Dial. ch. xiii.) Shortly after, he applies
to the second Advent of Christ the prophecy of Daniel respecting the Son
of Man, brought before the Ancient of Days. (Ch. xxxi.) Then he notices
and refutes certain destructive interpretations of prophecies which have
been derived from the unbelieving Jews by our modern rationalists, as
that Psalm cx. is spoken of Hezekiah, and Psalm lxxii. of Solomon.

Then he proceeds to prove that Christ is both God and Lord of Hosts; and
he first cites Psalm xxiv., and then Psalms xlvi., xcviii., and xlv.
(Ch. xxxvi., xxxvii., xxxviii.)

Then, after returning to the Mosaic law, and proving that certain points
in its ritual wore fulfilled in the Christian system (as the oblation of
fine flour in the Eucharist--ch. xli.), he concludes this part of his
argument with the assertion that the Mosaic law had an end in Christ:--

"In short, sirs," said I, "by enumerating all the other appointments
of Moses, I can demonstrate that they were types, and symbols, and
declarations of those things which would happen to Christ, of those
who, it was foreknown, were to believe in Him, and of those things
which would also be done by Christ Himself." (Ch. xlii.)

Then he again proves that this Christ was to be, and was, born of a
virgin; and takes occasion to show that the virgin mentioned in Isaiah
vii. was not a young married woman, as rationalists in Germany and among
ourselves have learnt from the unbelieving Jews. (Ch. xliii.)

To go over more of Justin's argument would be beside my purpose, which
is at present simply to show how very firmly his faith embraced the
supernatural.

I shall mention one more application of prophecy. When Trypho asks that
Justin should resume the discourse, and show that the Spirit of prophecy
admits another God besides the Maker of all things, [17:1] Justin
accepts his challenge, and commences with the appearance of the three
angels to Abraham, and devotes much space and labour to a sifting
discussion of the meaning of this place. The conclusion is thus
expressed:--

"And now have you not perceived, my friends, that one of the
three, Who is both God and Lord, and ministers to Him Who is
[remains] in the heavens, is Lord of the two angels? For when [the
angels] proceeded to Sodom He remained behind, and communed with
Abraham in the words recorded by Moses; and when He departed after
the conversation Abraham went back to his place. And when He came
[to Sodom] the two angels no longer converse with Lot, but Himself,
as the Scripture makes evident; and He is the Lord Who received
commission from the Lord Who [remains] in the heavens, i.e. the
Maker of all things, to inflict upon Sodom and Gomorrah the
[judgments] which the Scripture describes in these terms: 'The Lord
rained upon Sodom sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.'"
(Ch. lvi.)

It is clear from all this that Justin Martyr looked upon prophecy as a
supernatural gift, bestowed upon men in order to prepare them to receive
that Christ whom God would send. Instead of regarding it as the natural
surmising of far-seeing men who, from their experience of the past, and
from their knowledge of human nature, could in some sort guess what
course events are likely to take, he regarded it as a Divine influence
emanating from Him Who knows the future as perfectly as He knows the
past, and for His own purposes revealing events, and in many cases what
we should call _trifling_ events, which would be wholly out of the power
of man to guess or even to imagine.

I am not, of course, concerned to show that Justin was right in his
views of prophecy; all I am concerned to show is, that Justin regarded
prophecy as the highest of supernatural gifts.

Such, then, was the view of Justin respecting Christ and the Religion He
established. Christ, the highest of supernatural beings, His Advent
foretold by men with supernatural gifts to make known the future, coming
to us in the highest of supernatural ways, and establishing a
supernatural kingdom for bringing about such supernatural ends as the
reconciliation of all men to God by His Sacrifice, the Resurrection of
the body, and the subjugation of the wills of all men to the Will of
God.




SECTION IV.

THE PRINCIPAL WITNESS.--THE SOURCES OF HIS KNOWLEDGE RESPECTING THE BIRTH
OF CHRIST.


The question now arises, and I beg the reader to remember that it is the
question on which the author of "Supernatural Religion" stakes
all,--From what source did Justin derive this supernatural view of
Christianity?

With respect to the Incarnation, Birth, Life, Death, and Resurrection of
Christ, he evidently derives it from certain documents which he
repeatedly cites, as "The Memoirs of the Apostles" ([Greek:
Apomnêmoneumata tôn Apostolôn]). These are the documents which he
mentions as being read, along with the Prophets, at the meetings of
Christians.

On one occasion, when he is seemingly referring to the [bloody] sweat of
our Lord, which is mentioned only in St. Luke, who is not an Apostle, he
designates these writings as the "Memoirs which were drawn up by the
Apostles _and those who followed them_." [19:1] Again, on another
occasion, he seems to indicate specially the Gospel of St. Mark as being
the "Memoirs of Peter." It is a well-known fact that all ecclesiastical
tradition, almost with one voice, has handed down that St. Mark wrote
his Gospel under the superintendence, if not at the dictation, of St.
Peter; and when Justin has occasion to mention that our Lord gave the
name of Boanerges to the sons of Zebedee, an incident mentioned only by
St. Mark, he seems at least to indicate the Gospel of St. Mark as being
specially connected with St. Peter as his Memoirs when he writes:
[20:1]--

"And when it is said that he changed the name of one of the Apostles
to Peter; and when it is written in his Memoirs that this so
happened, as well as that He changed the names of two other
brothers, the sons of Zebedee, to Boanerges, which means 'sons of
thunder;' this was an announcement," &c. (Ch. cvi.)

With the exception of these two apparent cases, Justin never
distinguishes one Memoir from another. He never mentions the author or
authors of the Memoirs by name, and for this reason--that the three
undoubted treatises of his which have come down to us are all written
for those outside the pale of the Christian Church. It would have been
worse than useless, in writing for such persons, to distinguish between
Evangelist and Evangelist. So far as "those without" were concerned, the
Evangelists gave the same view of Christ and His work; and to have
quoted first one and then another by name would have been mischievous,
as indicating differences when the testimony of all that could be called
memoirs was, in point of fact, one and the same.

According to the author of "Supernatural Religion" Justin ten times
designates the source of his quotations as the "Memoirs of the
Apostles," and five times as simply the "Memoirs."

Now the issue which the writer of "Supernatural Religion" raises is
this: "Were these Memoirs our present four Gospels, or were they some
older Gospel or Gospels?" to which we may add another: "Did Justin quote
any other lost Gospel besides our four?"

* * * * *

I shall now give some instances of the use which Justin makes of the
writings which he calls "Memoirs," and this will enable the reader in
great measure to judge for himself.

First of all, then, I give one or two extracts from Justin's account of
our Lord's Nativity. Let the reader remember that, with respect to the
first of these, the account is not introduced in order to give Trypho an
account of our Lord's Birth, but to assure him that a certain prophecy,
as it is worded in the Septuagint translation of Isaiah--viz., "He shall
take the powers of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria," was fulfilled in
Christ. And indeed almost every incident which Justin takes notice of he
relates as a fulfilment of some prophecy or other. Trifling or
comparatively trifling incidents in our Lord's Life are noticed at great
length, because they are supposed to be the fulfilment of some prophecy;
and what we should consider more important events are passed over in
silence, because they do not seem to fulfil any prediction.

The first extract from Justin, then, shall be the following:--

"Now this King Herod, at the time when the Magi came to him from
Arabia, and said they knew from a star which appeared in the heavens
that a King had been born in your country, and that they had come to
worship Him, learned from the Elders of your people, that it was
thus written regarding Bethlehem in the Prophet: 'And thou,
Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art by no means least among the
princes of Judah; for out of thee shall go forth the leader, who
shall feed my people.' Accordingly, the Magi from Arabia came to
Bethlehem, and worshipped the child, and presented him with gifts,
gold, and frankincense, and myrrh; but returned not to Herod, being
warned in a revelation after worshipping the child in Bethlehem. And
Joseph, the spouse of Mary, who wished at first to put away his
betrothed Mary, supposing her to be pregnant by intercourse with a
man, _i.e._ from fornication, was commanded in a vision not to put
away his wife; and the angel who appeared to him told him that what
is in her womb is of the Holy Ghost. Then he was afraid and did not
put her away, but on the occasion of the first census which was
taken in Judea under Cyrenius, he went up from Nazareth, where he
lived, to Bethlehem, to which he belonged, to be enrolled; for his
family was of the tribe of Judah, which then inhabited that region.
Then, along with Mary, he is ordered to proceed into Egypt, and
remain there with the Child, until another revelation warn them to
return to Judea. But when the Child was born in Bethlehem, since
Joseph could not find a lodging in that village, he took up his
quarters in a certain cave near the village; and while they were
there Mary brought forth the Christ and placed Him in a manger, and
here the Magi who came from Arabia, found Him. 'I have repeated to
you,' I continued, 'what Isaiah foretold about the sign which
foreshadowed the cave; but, for the sake of those which have come
with us to-day, I shall again remind you of the passage.' Then I
repeated the passage from Isaiah which I have already written,
adding that, by means of those words, those who presided over the
mysteries of Mithras were stirred up by the devil to say that in a
place, called among them a cave, they were initiated by him. 'So
Herod, when the Magi from Arabia did not return to him, as he had
asked them to do, but had departed by another way to their own
country, according to the commands laid upon them; and when Joseph,
with Mary and the Child, had now gone into Egypt, as it was revealed
to them to do; as he did not know the Child whom the Magi had gone
to worship, ordered simply the whole of the children then in
Bethlehem to be massacred. And Jeremiah prophesied that this would
happen, speaking by the Holy Ghost thus: 'A voice was heard in
Ramah, lamentation and much wailing, Rachel weeping for her
children, and she would not be comforted, because they are not.'"
(Dial. ch. lxxviii.)

Now any unprejudiced reader, on examining this account, would instantly
say that Justin had derived every word of it from the Gospels of St.
Matthew and St. Luke, but that, instead of quoting the exact words of
either Evangelist, he would say that he (Justin) "reproduced" them. He
reproduced the narrative of the Nativity as it is found in each of these
two Gospels. He first reproduces the narrative in St. Matthew in
somewhat more colloquial phrase than the Evangelist used, interspersing
with it remarks of his own; and in order to account for the Birth of
Christ in Bethlehem he brings in from St. Luke the matter of the census,
(not with historical accuracy but) sufficiently to show that he was
acquainted with the beginning of Luke ii.; and in order to account for
the fact that Christ was not born in the inn, but in a more sordid place
(whether stable or cave matters not, for if it was a cave it was a cave
used as a stable, for there was a "manger" in it), he reproduces Luke
ii. 6-7.

Justin then, in a single consecutive narrative, expressed much in his
own words, gives the whole account, so far as it was a fulfilment of
prophecy, made up from two narratives which have come down to us in the
Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke, and in these only. It would have
been absurd for him to have done otherwise, as he might have done if he
had anticipated the carpings of nineteenth century critics, and assumed
that Trypho, an unconverted Jew, had a New Testament in his hand with
which he was so familiar that he could be referred to first one
narrative and then the other, in order to test the correctness of
Justin's quotations.

Against all this the author of "Supernatural Religion" brings forward a
number of trifling disagreements as proofs that Justin need not have
quoted one of the Evangelists--probably did not--indeed, may not have
ever seen our synoptics, or heard of their existence. But the reader
will observe that he has given the same history as we find in the two
synoptics which have given an account of the Nativity, and he apparently
knew of no other account of the matter.

We are reminded that there were numerous apocryphal Gospels then in use
in the Church, and that Justin might have derived his matter from these;
but, if so, how is it that he discards all the lying legends with which
those Gospels team, and, with the solitary exception of the mention of
the cave, confines himself to the circumstances of the synoptic
narrative.

The next place respecting the Nativity shall be one from ch.



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