The debate over the Trinity started relatively late in Christian history. It was not until the fourth century that many theologia...
Sunday, October 16, 2011
How Christianity Expanded?
" Our love for what is old, our reverence for what our fathers used, makes us keep still in the church, and on the very altar cloths, symbols which would excite the smile of an Oriental, and lead him to wonder why we send missionaries to his land, while cherishing his faith in ours."JAMES BONWICK.
Christianity is the largest world religion with over 1.5 billion followers; it derives its name form Christ Jesus. It is of academic interest to explore through historic evidence that; How a Jewish sect became the world religion? The clear teachings of Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) as available in the four existing Gospels indicate that he unambiguously preached to Israelis, the same message of Hebrew prophets; obedience and worship to One God: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord”(Deuteronomy; 6:4, Mark; 12:29). The essence of the teachings is presented in the Sermon on the Mount, where he said: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Mathew; 5:17-20 also 5:3-12, 6:9-13).
The question of the origin of Jesus, his nature and relation to God, which later became so important, was not raised among his early disciples. The belief that Jesus was a man super-naturally endowed prophet of God was accepted without question. Nothing in the words of Jesus or the events in his life led them to modify this view. According to Aristides, one of the earliest apologists, the worship of the early Christians was more purely monotheistic even than of the Jews.
After Jesus Christ, the original followers of Jesus Christ continued to live as Jews and practiced what Jesus had taught them. It did not occur to any of them that they could ever be regarded as followers of a new religion. They were devout and practicing Jews and they were distinguished from their neighbours, only by their faith in the message of Jesus. In the beginning they did not organize themselves as a separate sect and did not have a synagogue of their own. There was nothing in the message of Jesus, as understood by them, to necessitate a break with Judaism. However, they incurred the enmity of the vested interests among the Jewish higher echelon.
With the conversion of Paul (4–64 C.E) a new period opened in Christian Theology. Paul a Jew and an inhabitant of
, had spent a long time in Tarsus , he was a Roman citizen. He realized the strong hold which the Roman religion had on the masses. The intellectuals were under the influence of Plato and Aristotle. Paul seems to have felt that it would not be possible to convert the masses in the Rome Roman Empire without making mutual adjustments. But his practical wisdom was not acceptable to those who had seen and heard Jesus. However, in spite of their difference, they decided to work together for the common cause.
Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) presented a spiritual message and main ideas concerning human conduct. Christian theology, however, was shaped principally by the work of Paul and alike, who adulterated the spiritual message of Jesus. Paul became the foremost proselytizer of the new religion of Christianity. His influence on Christian theology proved to be the most permanent and far-reaching of all Christian writers and thinkers.
The conflict between the Jews and the followers of Jesus was started by the Jews because they felt that the Christians would undermine their “authority”. The gulf progressively began to widen. During the siege of
in 70 C.E, they left the city; and refused to take part in the Bar Coachaba rebellion in 132 C.E. These two events brought to the surface the difference between the followers of Jesus Christ and the Jews. Later the efforts of Paul bear fruits, Trinity and other strange doctrines got embedded to form the new religion, ‘Christianity’. Jerusalem
The Gospels written by unknown authors in stages [between 50 to 110 years after Jesus Christ] attributing titles to some familiar names for credibility got some new ideas incorporated. The "Preface" to ‘The Bible, Revised Standard Version’ (RSV) states:-
“The King James Version has grave defects. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the development of Biblical studies and the discovery of many manuscripts more ancient than those upon which the King James Version was based, made it manifest that these defects are so many and so serious as to call for revision of the English translation…… The Council appointed a committee of scholars to have charge of the text of the American Standard Version and to undertake inquiry …. If in the judgment of the Committee the meaning of a passage is quite uncertain or obscure, either because of corruption in the text or because of the inadequacy of our present knowledge of the language, that fact is indicated by a note.” [419:1a]
Similarly many other Biblical scholars like Dr.Bart Ehrman, Lloyd Graham, Burton L. Mack Douglas and Lockhart are also in consensus on existence of serious errors and inconsistencies in the Bible. Moreover many modern scholars like Sir Anthony Buzzard and Joseph Good logically prove that the doctrines of Christianity like Trinity do not get textual support even from the Bible. The message of Jesus Christ was clear and simple monotheistic; “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”(Mark :-30), same in Old Testament Deuteronomy 6:4–9, -21, and Numbers –41. However the fundamental doctrine of Trinity defines; God as three divine persons (ὑποστάσεις): the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial (ὁμοούσιοι). Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being (οὐσία), this appears to be absurd and irrational to common mind, considered to be a mystery of Christian faith.
Based upon thorough research and historical evidence there is general agreement among many scholars that Christian doctrines like ‘Trinity’, ‘Original Sin’, ‘Salvation through Faith’, ‘Baptism’, ‘Original Sin’, ‘Crucifixion’, ‘Resurrection’, ‘Eucharist’, ‘Birthday of Christ Jesus’ and even ‘Christian Symbols’, have been adapted form other pagan religions. The similarities in the narratives about Jesus Christ,
Krishna (Hindu Lord) and Buddha are too obvious to be ignored. The persecution and destruction of works of early scholars like Porphyry (234–305 C.E), Hierocles (430 C.E) and Celsus did not totally eliminate their factual views on Christianity as opposed to the Church.
The question arises that despite being in conflict with teachings of Jesus Christ, lacking in authenticity, logic and rationality, why did Christianity prosper to become a world religion? Why was Jesus of
believed to be a divine incarnation and Saviour? There were many reasons to it, each requiring a book, however here only four main causes are being touched upon briefly. This is based upon the excerpts with minor changes from the 1882 classic book “Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions” by Thomas William Doane, who undertook extensive research as evident from authentic references quoted to prove the point. Nazareth
For many centuries before the time of Christ Jesus there lived a sect of religious monks known as Essenes, or Therapeutæ;[419:1] these entirely disappeared from history shortly after the time assigned for the crucifixion of Jesus. There were thousands of them, and their monasteries were to be counted by the score. Many have asked the question, "What became of them?" We now propose to show:
1. That they were expecting the advent of an Angel-Messiah;
2. That they considered Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah;
3. That they came over to Christianity in a body; and,
4. That they brought the legendary histories of the former Angel-Messiahs with them.
The origin of the sect known as Essenes is enveloped in mist, and will probably never be revealed. To speak of all the different ideas entertained as to their origin would make a volume of it, we can therefore but glance at the subject. It has been the object of Christian writers up to a comparatively recent date, to claim that almost everything originated with God's chosen people, the Jews, and that even all languages can be traced to the Hebrew. Under these circumstances, then, it is not to be wondered at that we find they have also traced the Essenes to Hebrew origin.
[The Essenes have gained fame in modern times as a result of the discovery of an extensive group of religious documents known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are commonly believed to be Essenes' library—although there is no proof that the Essenes wrote them. These documents include preserved multiple copies of the Hebrew Bible untouched from as early as 300 BCE until their discovery in 1946. Some scholars, however, dispute the notion that the Essenes wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.]
Theophilus Gale, who wrote a work called "The Court of the Gentiles" (
, 1671), to demonstrate that "the origin of all human literature, both philology and philosophy, is from the Scriptures and the Jewish church," undoubtedly hits upon the truth when he says: Oxford
"Now, the origination or rise of these Essenes (among the Jews) I conceive by the best conjectures I can make from antiquity, to be in or immediately after the Babylonian captivity, though some make them later."
Some Christian writers trace them to Moses or some of the prophets, but that they originated in
, and were a sort of Buddhist sect, we believe is their true history. India
Gfrörer (1803-1861), who wrote concerning them in 1835, and said that "the Essenes and the Therapeutæ are the same sect, and hold the same views," was undoubtedly another writer who was touching upon historical ground.
The identity of many of the precepts and practices of Essenism and those of the New Testament is unquestionable. Essenism urged on its disciples to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.[420:1] The Essenes forbade the laying up of treasures upon earth.[420:2] The Essenes demanded of those who wished to join them to sell all their possessions, and to divide it among the poor brethren.[420:3] The Essenes had all things in common, and appointed one of the brethren as steward to manage the common bag.[420:4] Essenism put all its members on the same level, forbidding the exercise of authority of one over the other, and enjoining mutual service.[420:5] Essenism commanded its disciples to call no man master upon the earth.[420:6] Essenism laid the greatest stress upon being meek and lowly in spirit.[420:7] The Essenes commended the poor in spirit, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemaker. They combined the healing of the body with that of the soul. They declared that the power to cast out evil spirits, to perform miraculous cures, &c., should be possessed by their disciples as signs of their belief.[420:8] The Essenes did not swear at all; their answer was yea, yea, and nay, nay.[420:9] When the Essenes started on a mission of mercy, they provided neither gold nor silver, neither two coats, neither shoes, but relied on hospitality for support.[420:10] The Essenes, though repudiating offensive war, yet took weapons with them when they went on a perilous journey.[421:1] The Essenes abstained from connubial intercourse.[421:2] The Essenes did not offer animal sacrifices, but strove to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which they regarded as a reasonable service.[421:3] It was the great aim of the Essenes to live such a life of purity and holiness as to be the temples of the Holy Spirit, and to be able to prophesy.[421:4]
Many other comparisons might be made, but these are sufficient to show that there is a great similarity between the two.[421:5] These similarities have led many Christian writers to believe that Jesus belonged to this order. Dr. Ginsburg, an advocate of this theory, says:
"It will hardly be doubted that our Saviour himself belonged to this holy brotherhood. This will especially be apparent when we remember that the whole Jewish community, at the advent of Christ, was divided into three parties, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes, and that every Jew had to belong to one of these sects. Jesus, who, in all things, conformed to the Jewish law, and who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, would therefore naturally associate himself with that order of Judaism which was most congenial to his holy nature. Moreover, the fact that Christ, with the exception of once, was not heard of in public until his thirtieth year, implying that he lived in seclusion with this fraternity, and that though he frequently rebuked the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees, he never denounced the Essenes, strongly confirms this conclusion."[421:6]
The facts—as Dr. Ginsburg calls them—which confirm his conclusions are simply no facts at all. Jesus may or may not have been a member of this order; but when it is stated as a fact that he never rebuked the Essenes, it is implying too much. We know not whether the words said to have been uttered by Jesus were ever uttered by him or not, and it is almost certain that had he rebuked the Essenes, and had his words been written in the Gospels, they would not remain there long. We hear very little of the Essenes after A. D. 40,[421:7] therefore, when we read of the "primitive Christians," we are reading of Essenes, and others.
The statement that, with the exception of once, Jesus was not heard in public life till his thirtieth year, is also uncertain. One of the early Christian Fathers (Irenæus) tells us that he did not begin to teach until he was forty years of age, or thereabout, and that he lived to be nearly fifty years old.[422:1] "The records of his life are very scanty; and these have been so shaped and colored and modified by the hands of ignorance and superstition and party prejudice and ecclesiastical purpose, that it is hard to be sure of the original outlines."
The similarity of the sentiments of the Essenes, or Therapeutae, to those of the Church of Rome, induced the learned Jesuit, Nicolaus Serarius, to seek for them an honourable origin. He contended therefore, that they were Asideans, and derived them from the Rechabites, described so circumstantially in the thirty-fifth chapter of Jeremiah; at the same time, he asserted that the first Christian monks were Essenes.[422:2]
Mr. King, speaking of the Christian sect called Gnostics, says:
"Their chief doctrines had been held for centuries before (their time) in many of the cities of
Asia Minor. There, it is probable, they first came into existence as 'Mystæ,' upon the establishment of a direct intercourse with under the Seleucidæ and the Ptolemies. The colleges of Essenes and Megabyzae at India , the Orphics of Thrace, the Curetes of Crete, are all merely branches of one antique and common religion, and that originally Asiatic."[422:3] Ephesus
"The introduction of Buddhism into
and Egypt affords the only true solution of innumerable difficulties in the history of religion."[422:4] Palestine
"That Buddhism had actually been planted in the dominions of the Seleucidæ and Ptolemies (Palestine belonging to the former) before the beginning of the third century B. C., is proved to demonstration by a passage in the Edicts of Asoka, grandson of the famous Chandragupta, the Sandracottus of the Greeks. These edicts are engraven on a rock at Girnur, in Guzerat."[422:5]
Eusebius, in quoting from Philo concerning the Essenes, seems to take it for granted that they and the Christians were one and the same, and from the manner in which he writes, it would appear that it was generally understood so. He says that Philo called them "Worshipers," and concludes by saying:
"But whether he himself gave them this name, or whether at the beginning they were so called, when as yet the name of Christians was not everywhere published, I think it not needful curiosity to sift out."[422:6]
This celebrated ecclesiastical historian considered it very probable that the writings of the Essenic Therapeuts in
had been incorporated into the gospels of the New Testament, and into some Pauline epistles. His words are: Egypt
"It is very likely that the commentaries (Scriptures) which were among them (the Essenes) were the Gospels, and the works of the apostles, and certain expositions of the ancient prophets, such as partly that epistle unto the Hebrews, and also the other epistles of Paul do contain."[423:1]
The principal doctrines and rites of the Essenes can be connected with the East, with Parsism, and especially with Buddhism. Among the doctrines which Essenes and Buddhists had in common was that of the Angel-Messiah.[423:2]
Godfrey Higgins says:
"The Essenes were called physicians of the soul, or Therapeutæ; being resident both in
Judea and , they probably spoke or had their sacred books in Chaldee. They were Pythagoreans, as is proved by all their forms, ceremonies, and doctrines, and they called themselves sons of Jesse. If the Pythagoreans or Conobitae as they are called by Jamblicus, were Buddhists, the Essenes were Buddhists. The Essenes lived in Egypt , on the Egypt or Maria, in monasteries. These are the very places in which we formerly found the Gymnosophists, or Samaneans, or Buddhist priests to have lived; which Gymnosophistæ are placed also by Ptolemy in north-eastern lake of Parembole ." India
"Their (the Essenes) parishes, churches, bishops, priests, deacons, festivals are all identically the same (as the Christians). They had apostolic founders; the manners which distinguished the immediate apostles of Christ; scriptures divinely inspired; the same allegorical mode of interpreting them, which has since obtained among Christians, and the same order of performing public worship. They had missionary stations or colonies of their community established in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Phillippi, Colosse, and Thessalonica, precisely such, and in the same circumstances, as were those to whom St. Paul addressed his letters in those places. All the fine moral doctrines which are attributed to the Samaritan Nazarite, and I doubt not justly attributed to him, are to be found among the doctrines of these ascetics."[423:3]
And Arthur Lillie says:
"It is asserted by calm thinkers like Dean Mansel that within two generations of the time of Alexander the Great, the missionaries of Buddha made their appearance at Alexandria.[423:4] This theory is confirmed—in the east by the Asoka monuments—in the west by Philo. He expressly maintains the identity in creed of the higher Judaism and that of the Gymnosophists of India who abstained from the 'sacrifice of living animals'—in a word, the BUDDHISTS. It would follow from this that the priestly religion of
Babylonia, , and Palestine, Egypt were undermined by certain kindred mystical societies organized by Buddha's missionaries under the various names of Therapeutes, Essenes, Neo-Pythagoreans, Neo-Zoroastrians, &c. Thus Buddhism prepared the way for Christianity."[424:1] Greece
The Buddhists have the "eight-fold holy path" (Dhammapada), eight spiritual states leading up to Buddhahood. The first state of the Essenes resulted from baptism, and it seems to correspond with the first Buddhistic state, those who have entered the (mystic) stream. Patience, purity, and the mastery of passion were aimed at by both devotees in the other stages. In the last, magical powers, healing the sick, casting out evil spirits, etc., were supposed to be gained. Buddhists and Essenes seem to have doubled up this eight-fold path into four, for some reason or other. Buddhists and Essenes had three orders of ascetics or monks, but this classification is distinct from the spiritual classifications.[424:2]
The doctrine of the "Anointed Angel," of the man from heaven, the Creator of the world, the doctrine of the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus by the blood of his cross, the doctrine of the Messianic antetype of the Paschal lamb of the Paschal omer, and thus of the resurrection of Christ Jesus, the third day, according to the Scriptures, these doctrines of Paul can, with more or less certainty, be connected with the Essenes. It becomes almost a certainty that Eusebius was right in surmising that Essenic writings have been used by Paul and the evangelists. Not Jesus, but Paul, is the cause of the separation of the Jews from the Christians.[424:3]
The probability, then, that that sect of vagrant quack-doctors, the Therapeutæ, who were established in Egypt and its neighbourhood many ages before the period assigned by later theologians as that of the birth of Christ Jesus, were the original fabricators of the writings contained in the New Testament, becomes a certainty on the basis of evidence, than which history has nothing more certain, furnished by the unguarded, but explicit, unwary, but most unqualified and positive statement of the historian Eusebius, that "those ancient Therapeutæ were Christians, and that their ancient writings were our gospels and epistles."
The Essenes, the Therapeuts, the Ascetics, the Monks, the Ecclesiastics, and the Eclectics, are but different names for one and the self-same sect.
The word "Essene" is nothing more than the Egyptian word for that of which Therapeut is the Greek, each of them signifying "healer" or "doctor," and designating the character of the sect as professing to be endued with the miraculous gift of healing; and more especially so with respect to diseases of the mind.
Their name of "Ascetics" indicated the severe discipline and exercise of self-mortification, long fasting, prayers, contemplation, and even making of themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake, as did Origen, Melito, and others who derived their Christianity from the same school; Jesus himself is represented to have recognized and approved their practice.
Their name of "Monks" indicated their delight in solitude, their contemplative life, and their entire segregation and abstraction from the world, which Jesus, in the Gospel, is in like manner represented as describing, as characteristic of the community of which he was a member.
Their name of "Ecclesiastics" was of the same sense, and indicated their being called out, elected, separated from the general fraternity of mankind, and set apart to the more immediate service and honour of God.
They had a flourishing university, or corporate body, established upon these principles, at
in Alexandria , long before the period assigned for the birth of Christ Jesus.[425:1] Egypt
From this body they sent out missionaries, and had established colonies, auxiliary branches, and affiliated communities, in various cities of
Asia Minor, which colonies were in a flourishing condition, before the preaching of . St. Paul
"The very ancient and Eastern doctrine of an Angel-Messiah had been applied to Gautama-Buddha, and so it was applied to Jesus Christ by the Essenes of Egypt and of
, who introduced this new Messianic doctrine into Essenic Judaism and Essenic Christianity."[425:2] Palestine
In the Pali and Sanscrit texts the word Buddha is always used as a title, not as a name. It means "The Enlightened One." Gautama Buddha is represented to have taught that he was only one of a long series of Buddhas, who appear at intervals in the world, and who all teach the same system. After the death of each Buddha his religion flourishes for a time, but finally wickedness and vice again rule over the land. Then a new Buddha appears, who again preaches the lost Dharma or truth. The names of twenty-four of these Buddhas who appeared previous to Gautama have been handed down to us. The Buddhavansa, or "History of the Buddhas," the last book of the Khuddaka Nikaya in the second Pitca, gives the lives of all the previous Buddhas before commencing its account of Gautama himself; and the Pali commentary on the Jatakas gives certain details regarding each of the twenty-four.[426:1]
An Avatar was expected about every six hundred years.[426:2] At the time of Jesus of Nazareth an Avatar was expected, not by some of the Jews alone, but by most every eastern nation.[426:3] Many persons were thought at that time to be, and undoubtedly thought themselves to be, the Christ, and the only reason why the name of Jesus of Nazareth succeeded above all others, is because the Essenes—who were expecting an Angel-Messiah—espoused it. Had it not been for this almost indisputable fact, the name of Jesus of Nazareth would undoubtedly not be known at the present day.
Epiphanius, a Christian bishop and writer of the fourth century, says, in speaking of the Essenes:
"They who believed on Christ were called JESSAEI (or Essenes), before they were called Christians. These derived their constitution from the signification of the name Jesus, which in Hebrew signifies the same as Therapeutes, that is, a saviour or physician."
Thus we see that, according to Christian authority, the Essenes and Therapeutes are one, and that the Essenes espoused the cause of Jesus of Nazareth, accepted him as an Angel-Messiah, and became known to history as Christians, or believers in the Anointed Angel.
This ascetic Buddhist sect called Essenes were therefore expecting an Angel-Messiah, for had not Gautama announced to his disciples that another Buddha, and therefore another angel in human form, another organ or advocate of the wisdom from above, would descend from heaven to earth, and would be called the "Son of Love."
The learned Thomas Maurice says:
"From the earliest post-diluvian age, to that in which the Messiah appeared, together with the traditions which so expressly recorded the fall of the human race from a state of original rectitude and felicity, there appears, from an infinite variety of hieroglyphic monuments and of written documents, to have prevailed, from generation to generation, throughout all the regions of the higher Asia, an uniform belief that, in the course of revolving ages, there should arise a sacred personage, a mighty deliverer of mankind from the thraldom of sin and of death. In fact, the memory of the grand original promise, that the seed of the woman should eventually crush the serpent, was carefully preserved in the breasts of the Asiatics; it entered deeply into their symbolic superstitions, and was engraved aloft amidst their mythological sculptures."[427:1]
That an Angel-Messiah was generally expected at this time may be inferred from the following facts: Some of the Gnostic sects of Christians, who believed that Jesus was an emanation from God, likewise supposed that there were several Aeons, or emanations from the Eternal Father. Among those who taught this doctrine was Basilides and his followers.[427:2]
SIMON MAGUS was believed to be "He who should come." Simon was worshiped in
and other countries, as the expected Angel-Messiah, as a God. Samaria
Justin Martyr says:
"After the ascension of our Lord into heaven, certain men were suborned by demons as their agents, who said that they were gods (i. e., the Angel Messiah). Among these was Simon, a certain Samaritan, whom nearly all the Samaritans and a few also of other nations, worshiped, confessing him as a Supreme God."[427:3]
His miracles were notorious, and admitted by all. His followers became so numerous that they were to be found in all countries. In
, in the reign of Claudius, a statue was erected in his honour. Clement of Rome , speaking of Simon Magus, says that: Rome
"He wishes to be considered an exalted person and to be considered 'the Christ.' He claims that he can never be dissolved, asserting that he will endure to eternity."
Montanus was another person who evidently believed himself to be an Angel-Messiah. He was called by himself and his followers the "Paraclete," or "Holy Spirit."[428:1]
Socrates Scholasticus (5th century CE), in his Ecclesiastical History, tells us of one Buddhas (who lived after Jesus):
"Who afore that time was called Terebynthus, which went to the coasts of Babylon, inhabited by Persians, and there published of himself many false wonders: that he was born of a virgin, that he was bred and brought up in the mountains, etc."[428:2]
He was evidently one of the many fanatics who believed themselves to be the Paraclete or Comforter, the "Expected One."
Another one of these Christs was Apollonius. This remarkable man was born a few years before the commencement of the Christian era, and during his career, sustained the role of a philosopher, religious teacher and reformer, and a worker of miracles. He is said to have lived to be a hundred years old. From the history of his life, written by the learned sophist and scholar, Philostratus, we glean the following:
Before his birth a god appeared to his mother and informed her that he himself should be born of her. At the time of her delivery, the most wonderful things happened. All the people of the country acknowledged that he was the "Son of God." As he grew in stature, his wonderful powers, greatness of memory, and marvellous beauty attracted the attention of all. A great part of his time was spent, when a youth, among the learned doctors; the disciples of Plato, Chrysippus and Aristotle. When he came to man's estate, he became an enthusiastic admirer and devoted follower of Pythagoras. His fame soon spread far and near, and wherever he went he reformed the religious worship of the day. He went to
, like Christ Jesus to Ephesus , where the people flocked about him. While at Jerusalem , in Athens , he cast out an evil spirit from a youth. As soon as Apollonius fixed his eyes upon him, the demon broke out into the most angry and horrid expressions, and then swore he would depart out of the youth. He put an end to a plague which was raging at Greece , and at Ephesus he raised a dead maiden to life, by simply taking her by the hand and bidding her arise. The miracles of Apollonius were extensively believed, by Christians as well as others, for centuries after his time. In the fourth century Hierocles drew a parallel between the two Christs—Apollonius and Jesus—which was answered by Eusebius, the great champion of the Christian church. In it he admits the miracles of Apollonius, but attributes them to sorcery. Corinth
Apollonius was worshiped as a god, in different countries, as late as the fourth century. A beautiful temple was built in honour of him, and he was held in high esteem by many of the Pagan emperors. Eunapius, who wrote concerning him in the fifth century, says that his history should have been entitled "The Descent of a God upon Earth." It is as Albert Reville says:
"The universal respect in which Apollonius was held by the whole pagan world, testified to the deep impression which the life of this Supernatural Being had left indelibly fixed in their minds; an expression which caused one of his contemporaries to exclaim, 'We have a God living among us.'"
A Samaritan, by name Menander, who was contemporary with the apostles of Jesus, was another of these fanatics who believed himself to be the Christ. He went about performing miracles, claiming that he was a SAVIOUR, "sent down from above from the invisible worlds, for the salvation of mankind."[429:1] He baptized his followers in his own name. His influence was great, and continued for several centuries. Justin Martyr and other Christian Fathers wrote against him.
Manes evidently believed himself to be "the Christ," or "he who was to come." His followers also believed the same concerning him. Eusebius, speaking of him, says:
"He presumed to represent the person of Christ; he proclaimed himself to be the Comforter and the Holy Ghost, and being puffed up with this frantic pride, chose, as if he were Christ, twelve partners of his new-found doctrine, patching into one heap false and detestable doctrines of old, rotten, and rooted out heresies, the which he brought out of Persia."[429:2]
The word Manes, says Usher in his Annals, has the meaning of Paraclete or Comforter or Saviour. This at once lets us into the secret—a new incarnation, an Angel-Messiah, a Christ—born from the side of his mother, and put to a violent death—flayed alive, and hung up, or crucified, by a king of Persia.[429:3] This is the teacher with his twelve apostles on the rock of Gualior.
Du Perron, in his life of Zoroaster, gives an account of certain prophecies to be found in the sacred books of the Persians. One of these is to the effect that, at successive periods of time, there will appear on earth certain "Sons of Zoroaster," who are to be the result of immaculate conceptions. These virgin-born gods will come upon earth for the purpose of establishing the law of God. It is also asserted that Zoroaster, when on earth, declared that in the "latter days" a pure virgin would conceive, and bear a son, and that as soon as the child was born a star would appear, blazing even at noonday, with undiminished splendor. This Christ is to be called Sosiosh. He will redeem mankind, and subdue the Devs, who have been tempting and leading men astray ever since the fall of our first parents.
Among the Greeks the same prophecy was found. The Oracle of Delphi was the depository, according to Plato, of an ancient and secret prophecy of the birth of a "Son of Apollo," who was to restore the reign of justice and virtue on the earth.[430:1]
Those who believed in successive emanations of Aeons from the Throne of Light, pointed to the passage in the Gospels where Jesus is made to say that he will be succeeded by the Parakletos or Comforter. Muhammad [prophet, peace be upon him] was believed by many to be this Parakletos, and it is said that he too told his disciples that another Parakletos [to known as Mehdi, guided one] is the prophesied redeemer who will stay on earth for couple of years before the Day of Judgment and, alongside Jesus Christ, will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny. According to accepted tradition, the Prophet himself designated the line of descent in which his most important successor would be found, and even indicated his personal appearance. Many people claimed to be Mehdi, in the Muslim world especially during last two centuries, but their claims proved to be hollow. [modified]
History then relates to us the indisputable fact that at the time of Jesus of Nazareth an Angel-Messiah was expected, that many persons claimed, and were believed to be, the "Expected One," and that the reason why Jesus was accepted above all others was because the Essenes—a very numerous sect—believed him to be the true Messiah, and came over to his followers in a body. It was because there were so many of these Christs in existence that some follower of Jesus—but no one knows who—wrote as follows:
"If any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ, or, lo, he is there; believe him not; for false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect."[431:1]
The reasons why Jesus was not accepted as the Messiah by the majority of the Jews was because the majority expected a daring and irresistible warrior and conqueror, who, armed with greater power than Caear, was to come upon earth to rend the fetters in which their hapless nation had so long groaned, to avenge them upon their haughty oppressors, and to re-establish the kingdom of Judah; and this Jesus—although he evidently claimed to be the Messiah—did not do.
Tacitus (56 – 117 C.E), the Roman historian, says:
"The generality had a strong persuasion that it was contained in the ancient writings of the priests, that at that very time the east should prevail: and that some one, who should come out of Judea, should obtain the empire of the world; which ambiguities foretold Vespasian and Titus. But the common people (of the Jews), according to the influence of human wishes, appropriated to themselves, by their interpretation, this vast grandeur foretold by the fates, nor could be brought to change their opinion for the true, by all their adversities."
Suetonius, (69/75 – after 130) another Roman historian, says:
"There had been for a long time all over the east a constant persuasion that it was recorded in the fates (books of the fates, or foretellings), that at that time some one who should come out of Judea should obtain universal dominion. It appears by the event that this prediction referred to the Roman emperor; but the Jews, referring it to themselves, rebelled."
This is corroborated by Josephus, the Jewish historian, who says:
"That which, chiefly excited them (the Jews) to war, was an ambiguous prophecy, which was also found in the sacred books, that at that time some one, within their country, should arise, that should obtain the empire of the whole world. For this they had received by tradition, that it was spoken of one of their nation; and many wise men were deceived with the interpretation. But, in truth, Vespasian's empire was designed in this prophecy, who was created emperor (of
) in Rome Judea."
As the Rev. Dr. Geikie remarks, the central and dominant characteristic of the teaching of the rabbis, was the certain advent of a great national Deliverer—the Messiah—but not a God from heaven.
For a time Cyrus appeared to realize the promised Deliverer, or, at least, to be the chosen instrument to prepare the way for him, and, in his turn, Zerubabel became the centre of Messianic hopes. In fact, the national mind had become so inflammable, by constant brooding on this one theme, that any bold spirit, rising in revolt against the Roman power, could find an army of fierce disciples who trusted that it should be he who would redeem Israel.[432:1]
The "taxing" which took place under Cyrenius, Governor of Syria (A. D. 7), excited the wildest uproar against the Roman power. The Hebrew spirit was stung into exasperation; the puritans of the nation, the enthusiasts, fanatics, the zealots of the law, the literal constructionists of prophecy, appealed to the national temper, revived the national faith, and fanned into flame the combustible elements that smouldered in the bosom of the race. The Messianic hope was strong in these people; all the stronger on account of their political degradation. Born in sorrow, the anticipation grew keen in bitter hours. That Jehovah would abandon them could not be believed. The thought would be atheism. The hope kept the eastern Jews in a perpetual state of insurrection. The cry "Lo here, lo there!" was incessant. Claimant after claimant of the dangerous supremacy of the Messiah appeared, pitched a camp in the wilderness, raised the banner, gathered a force, was attacked, defeated, banished, or crucified; but the frenzy did not abate.
The last insurrection among the Jews, that of Bar-Cochba—"Son of the Star"—revealed an astonishing frenzy of zeal. It was purely a Messianic uprising. Judaism had excited the fears of the Emperor Hadrian, and induced him to inflict unusual severities on the people. The effect of the violence was to stimulate that conviction to fury. The night of their despair was once more illumined by the star of the east. The banner of the Messiah was raised. Potents, as of old, were seen in the sky; the clouds were watched for the glory that should appear. Bar-Cochba seemed to fill out the popular idea of the deliverer. Miracles were ascribed to him; flames issued from his mouth. The vulgar imagination made haste to transform the audacious fanatic into a child of David. Multitudes flocked to his standard. The whole Jewish race throughout the world was in commotion. The insurrection gained head. The heights about
were seized and occupied, and fortifications were erected; nothing but the "host of angels" was needed to insure victory. The angels did not appear; the Roman legions did. The "Messiah," not proving himself a conqueror, was held to have proved himself an impostor, the "son of a lie."[433:1] Jerusalem
The impetuous zeal with which the Jews rushed to the standard of this Messianic impostor, in the 130th year of the Christian era, demonstrates the true Jewish character, and shows how readily any one who made the claim, was believed to be "He who should come." Even the celebrated Rabbi Akiba sanctioned this daring fraud. Akiba declared that the so-called prophecy of Balaam,—"a star shall rise out of Jacob,"—was accomplished. Hence the impostor took his title of Bar-Cochabas, or Son of the Star; and Akiba not only publicly anointed him "KING OF THE JEWS," and placed an imperial diadem upon his head, but followed him to the field at the head of four-and-twenty thousand of his disciples, and acted in the capacity of master of his horse.
Those who believed on the meek and benevolent Jesus—and whose number was very small—were of that class who believed in the doctrine of the Angel-Messiah,[433:2] first heard of among them when taken captives to Babylon. These believed that just as Buddha appeared at different intervals, and as Vishnu appeared at different intervals, the avatars appeared among the Jews. Adam, and Enoch, and Noah, and Elijah or Elias, might in outward appearance be different men, but they were really the self-same divine person successively animating various human bodies.[433:3] Christ Jesus was the avatar of the ninth age, Christ Cyrus was the avatar of the eighth. Of the hero of the eighth age it is said: "Thus said the Lord to his Anointed (i. e., his Christ), his Messiah, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden to subdue nations."[434:1] The eighth period began about the Babylonish captivity, about six hundred years before Christ Jesus. The ninth began with Christ Jesus, making in all eight cycles before Jesus.
"What was known in
Judea more than a century before the birth of Jesus Christ cannot have been introduced among Buddhists by Christian missionaries. It will become equally certain that the bishop and church-historian, Eusebius, was right when he wrote, that he considered it highly probable that the writings of the Essenic Therapeuts in had been incorporated into our Gospels, and into some Pauline epistles."[434:2] Egypt
For further information on the subject of the connection between Essenism and Christianity, the reader is referred to
's Diegesis, Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, and the works of S. F. Dunlap. We shall now speak of another powerful lever which was brought to bear upon the promulgation of Christianity; namely, that of FRAUD. Taylor
It was a common thing among the early Christian Fathers and saints to lie and deceive, if their lies and deceits helped the cause of their Christ. Lactantius, an eminent Christian author who flourished in the fourth century, has well said:
"Among those who seek power and gain from their religion, there will never be wanting an inclination to forge and lie for it."[434:3]
Gregory of Nazianzus, writing to
, says: St. Jerome
"A little jargon is all that is necessary to impose on the people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire. Our forefathers and doctors have often said, not what they thought, but what circumstances and necessity dictated."[434:4]
The celebrated Eusebius, Bishop of CAESAREA, and friend of Constantine the Great, who is our chief guide for the early history of the Church, confesses that he was by no means scrupulous to record the whole truth concerning the early Christians in the various works which he has left behind him.[434:5] Edward Gibbon, speaking of him, says:
"The gravest of the ecclesiastical historians, Eusebius himself, indirectly confesses that he has related what might redound to the glory, and that he has suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace of religion. Such an acknowledgment will naturally excite a suspicion that a writer who has so openly violated one of the fundamental laws of history, has not paid a very strict regard to the observance of the other; and the suspicion will derive additional credit from the character of Eusebius, which was less tinctured with credulity, and more practiced in the arts of courts, than that of almost any of his contemporaries."[435:1]
The great theologian, Beausobre, in his "Histoire de Manichee," says:
"We see in the history which I have related, a sort of hypocrisy, that has been perhaps, but too common at all times; that churchmen not only do not say what they think, but they do say the direct contrary of what they think. Philosophers in their cabinets; out of them they are content with fables, though they well know they are fables. Nay, more; they deliver honest men to the executioner, for having uttered what they themselves know to be true. How many atheists and pagans have burned holy men under the pretext of heresy? Every day do hypocrites consecrate, and make people adore the host, though as well convinced as I am, that it is nothing but a bit of bread."[435:2]
M. Daille says:
"This opinion has always been in the world, that to settle a certain and assured estimation upon that which is good and true, it is necessary to remove out of the way, whatsoever may be an hindrance to it. Neither ought we to wonder that even those of the honest, innocent, primitive times made use of these deceits, seeing for a good end they made no scruple to forge whole books."[435:3]
Reeves, in his "Apologies of the Fathers," says:
"It was a Catholic opinion among the philosophers, that pious frauds were good things, and that the people ought to be imposed on in matters of religion."[435:4]
Mosheim, the ecclesiastical historian, says:
"It was held as a maxim that it was not only lawful but praiseworthy to deceive, and even to use the expedient of a lie, in order to advance the cause of truth and piety."[435:5]
Isaac de Casaubon, the great ecclesiastical scholar, says:
"It mightily affects me, to see how many there were in the earliest times of the church, who considered it as a capital exploit, to lend to heavenly truth the help of their own inventions, in order that the new doctrine might be more readily allowed by the wise among the Gentiles. These officious lies, they were wont to say, were devised for a good end."[435:6]
The Apostolic Father, Hermas, who was the fellow-laborer of
in the work of the ministry; who is greeted as such in the New Testament; and whose writings are expressly quoted as of divine inspiration, by the early Fathers, ingenuously confesses that lying was the easily-besetting sin of a Christian. His words are: St. Paul
"O Lord, I never spake a true word in my life, but I have always lived in dissimulation, and affirmed a lie for truth to all men, and no man contradicted me, but all gave credit to my words."
To which the holy angel, whom he addresses, condescendingly admonishes him, that as the lie was up, now, he had better keep it up, and as in time it would come to be believed, it would answer as well as truth.[436:1]
Dr. Mosheim admits, that the Platonists and Pythagoreans held it as a maxim, that it was not only lawful, but praiseworthy, to deceive, and even to use the expedient of a lie, in order to advance the cause of truth and piety. The Jews who lived in
, had learned and received this maxim from them, before the coming of Christ Jesus, as appears incontestably from a multitude of ancient records, and the Christians were infected from both these sources, with the same pernicious error.[436:2] Egypt
Of the fifteen letters ascribed to Ignatius (Bishop of Antioch after 69 C.E.), eight have been rejected by Christian writers as being forgeries, having no authority whatever. "The remaining seven epistles were accounted genuine by most critics, although disputed by some, previous to the discoveries of Mr. Cureton, which have shaken, and indeed almost wholly destroyed the credit and authenticity of all alike."[436:3]
Paul of Tarsus, who was preaching a doctrine which had already been preached to many nation on earth,[436:4] inculcates and avows the principle of deceiving the common people, talks of his having been upbraided by his own converts with being crafty and catching them with guile,[436:5] and of his known and wilful lies, abounding to the glory of God.[436:6]
Even the orthodox Doctor Burnet, an eminent English author, in his treatise "De Statu Mortuorum," purposely written in Latin, that it might serve for the instruction of the clergy only, and not come to the knowledge of the laity, because, as he said, "too much light is hurtful for weak eyes," not only justified but recommended the practice of the most consummate hypocrisy, and would have his clergy seriously preach and maintain the reality and eternity of hell torments, even though they should believe nothing of the sort themselves.[437:1]
The incredible and very ridiculous stories related by Christian Fathers and ecclesiastical historians, on whom we are obliged to rely for information on the most important of subjects, show us how untrustworthy these men were. We have, for instance, the story related by
, who is styled "the greatest of the Latin Fathers," of his preaching the Gospel to people without heads. In his 33d Sermon he says: St. Augustine
"I was already Bishop of Hippo, when I went into
with some servants of Christ there to preach the Gospel. In this country we saw many men and women without heads, who had two great eyes in their breasts; and in countries still more southly, we saw people who had but one eye in their foreheads."[437:2] Ethiopia
This same holy Father bears an equally unquestionable testimony to several resurrections of the dead, of which he himself had been an eye-witness.
In a book written "towards the close of the second century, by some zealous believer," and fathered upon one Nicodemus, who is said to have been a disciple of Christ Jesus, we find the following:
"We all know the blessed Simeon, the high priest, who took Jesus when an infant into his arms in the temple. This same Simeon had two sons of his own, and we were all present at their death and funeral. Go therefore and see their tombs, for these are open, and they are risen; and behold, they are in the city of
, spending their time together in offices of devotion."[438:1] Arimathaea
Eusebius, "the Father of ecclesiastical history," Bishop of Caearea, and one of the most prominent personages at the Council of Nice, relates as truth, the ridiculous story of King Agbarus writing a letter to Christ Jesus, and of Jesus' answer to the same.[438:2] And Socrates relates how the Empress Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem for the purpose of finding, if possible, "the cross of Christ." This she succeeded in doing, also the nails with which he was nailed to the cross.[438:3]
Beside forging, lying, and deceiving for the cause of Christ, the Christian Fathers destroyed all evidence against themselves and their religion, which they came across. Christian divines seem to have always been afraid of too much light. In the very infancy of printing, Cardinal Wolsey foresaw its effect on Christianity, and in a speech to the clergy, publicly forewarned them, that, if they did not destroy the Press, the Press would destroy them.[438:4] There can be no doubt, that had the objections of Porphyry,[438:5] Hierocles,[438:6] Celsus,[438:7] and other opponents of the Christian faith, been permitted to come down to us, the plagiarism in the Christian Scriptures from previously existing Pagan documents, is the specific charge they would have presented us. But these were ordered to be burned, by the prudent piety of the Christian emperors.
3. Destruction of Evidence: Second Destruction of Library at
The history of this great Alexandrian library is one of the keys which unlock the door, and exposes to the view the manner in which the Hindu incarnate god Crishna [Krishna], and the meek and benevolent Buddha, came to be worshiped under the name of Christ Jesus as explained later.
, in Alexandria , there was an immense library, founded by the Ptolemies. This library was situated in the Alexandrian Museum; the apartments which were allotted for it were beautifully sculptured, and crowded with the choicest statues and pictures; the building was built of marble. This library eventually comprised four hundred thousand volumes [400,000]. In the course of time, probably on account of inadequate accommodation for so many books, an additional library was established, and placed in the Egypt . The number of volumes in this library, which was called the daughter of that in the museum, was eventually three hundred thousand. There were, therefore, seven hundred thousand [700,000] volumes in these royal collections. temple of Serapis
In the establishment of the museum, Ptolemy Soter, and his son Philadelphus, had three objects in view: 1) The perpetuation of such knowledge as was then in the world; 2) Its increase; 3.) Its diffusion.
1). For the perpetuation of knowledge. Orders were given to the chief librarian to buy, at the king's expense, whatever books he could. A body of transcribers was maintained in the museum, whose duty it was to make correct copies of such works as their owners were not disposed to sell. Any books brought by foreigners into
were taken at once to the museum, and when correct copies had been made, the transcript was given to the owner, and the original placed in the library. Often a very large pecuniary indemnity was paid. Egypt
2). For the increase of knowledge. One of the chief objects of the museum was that of serving as the home of a body of men who devoted themselves to study, and were lodged and maintained at the king's expense. In the original organization of the museum the residents were divided into four faculties,—Literature, Mathematics, Astronomy, and Medicine. An officer of very great distinction presided over the establishment, and had general charge of its interests. Demetius Phalareus, perhaps the most learned man of his age, who had been Governor of Athens for many years, was the first so appointed. Under him was the librarian, an office sometimes held by men whose names have descended to our times, as Eratosthenes and Apollonius Rhodius. In connection with the museum was a botanical and a zoological garden. These gardens, as their names imply, were for the purpose of facilitating the study of plants and animals. There was also an astronomical observatory, containing armillary spheres, globes, solstitial and equatorial armils, astrolabes, parallactic rules, and other apparatus then in use, the graduation on the divided instruments being into degrees and sixths.
3). For the diffusion of knowledge. In the museum was given, by lectures, conversation, or other appropriate methods, instruction in all the various departments of human knowledge.
There flocked to this great intellectual centre, students from all countries. It is said that at one time not fewer than fourteen thousand were in attendance. Subsequently even the Christian church received from it some of the most eminent of its Fathers, as Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Athanasius.
The library in the museum was burned during the siege of
by Julius Caesar. To make amends for this great loss, the library collected by Eumenes, King of Pergamus, was presented by Mark Antony to Queen Cleopatra. Originally it was founded as a rival to that of the Ptolemies. It was added to the collection in the Serapion, or the Alexandria [440:1] temple of Serapis.
It was not destined, however, to remain there many centuries, as this very valuable library was wilfully destroyed by the Christian Theophilus [Patriarch of Alexandria from 385 to 412 C.E] and on the spot where this beautiful temple of Serapis stood, in fact, on its very foundation, was erected a church in honor of the "noble army of martyrs," who had never existed.
This we learn from the historian Gibbon, who says that, after this library was destroyed, "the appearance of the empty shelves excited the regret and indignation of every spectator, whose mind was not totally darkened by religious prejudice."[440:2]
The destruction of this library was almost the death-blow to free-thought—wherever Christianity ruled—for more than a thousand years.
The death-blow was soon to be struck, however, which was done by Saint Cyril, who succeeded Theophilus as Bishop of Alexandria.
Hypatia, the daughter of Theon, the mathematician, endeavoured to continue the old-time instructions. Each day before her academy stood a long train of chariots; her lecture-room was crowded with the wealth and fashion of
. They came to listen to her discourses on those questions which man in all ages has asked, but which have never yet been answered: "What am I? Where am I? What can I know?" Alexandria
Hypatia and Cyril; philosophy and bigotry; they cannot exist together. As Hypatia repaired to her academy, she was assaulted by (Saint) Cyril's mob—a mob of many monks. Stripped naked in the street, she was dragged into a church, and there killed by the club of Peter the Reader. The corpse was cut to pieces, the flesh was scraped from the bones with shells, and the remnants cast into a fire. For this frightful crime Cyril was never called to account. It seemed to be admitted that the end sanctified the means. So ended Greek philosophy in
, so came to an untimely close the learning that the Ptolemies had done so much to promote. Alexandria
The fate of Hypatia was a warning to all who would cultivate profane knowledge. Henceforth there was to be no freedom for human thought. Every one must think as ecclesiastical authority ordered him; C.E 414. In
itself philosophy awaited its doom. Justinian at length prohibited its teaching and caused all its schools in that city to be closed.[441:1] Athens
After this followed the long and dreary dark ages, but the sun of science, that bright and glorious luminary, was destined to rise again.
The history of this great Alexandrian library is one of the keys which unlock the door, and exposes to our view the manner in which the Hindu incarnate god Crishna [Krishna], and the meek and benevolent Buddha, came to be worshiped under the name of Christ Jesus. For instance, we have just seen:
1. That, "orders were given to the chief librarian to buy at the king's expense whatever books he could."
2. That, "one of the chief objects of the museum was that of serving as the home of a body of men who devoted themselves to study."
3. That, "any books brought by foreigners into
were taken at once to the museum and correct copies made." Egypt
4. That, "there flocked to this great intellectual centre students from all countries."
5. That, "the Christian church received from it some of the most eminent of its Fathers."
6. That, the chief doctrines of the Gnostic Christians "had been held for centuries before their time in many of the cities in
Asia Minor. There, it is probable, they first came into existence as 'Mystæ,' upon the establishment of a direct intercourse with under the Seleucidae and the Ptolemies." India
7. That, "the College of ESSENES at Ephesus, the Orphics of Thrace, the Curetes of Crete, are all merely branches of one antique and common religion, and that originally Asiatic."
8. That, "the introduction of Buddhism into
and Egypt affords the only true solution of innumerable difficulties in the history of religion." Palestine
9. That, "Buddhism had actually been planted in the dominions of the Seleucidae and Ptolemies (
belonging to the former) before the beginning of the third century B. C. and is proved to demonstration by a passage in the edicts of Ashoka." [Ashoka (304–232 BC) was a great Indian King who converted to Buddhism, made it world religion.] Palestine
10. That, "it is very likely that the commentaries (Scriptures) which were among them (the Essenes) were the Gospels."
11. That, "the principal doctrines and rites of the Essenes can be connected with the East, with Parsism [ Zoroastrians ], and especially with Buddhism."
12. That, "among the doctrines which the Essenes and Buddhists had in common was that of the Angel-Messiah."
13. That, "they (the Essenes) had a flourishing university or corporate body, established at
, in Alexandria , long before the period assigned for the birth of Christ." Egypt
14. That, "the very ancient and Eastern doctrine of the Angel-Messiah had been applied to Gautama Buddha, and so it was applied to Jesus Christ by the Essenes of Egypt and Palestine, who introduced this new Messianic doctrine into Essenic Judaism and Essenic Christianity."
15. That, "we hear very little of them (the Essenes) after 40 C.E ; and there can hardly be any doubt that the Essenes as a body must have embraced Christianity."
Here is the solution of the problem. The sacred books of Hindus and Buddhists were among the Essenes, and in the library at
. The Essenes, who were afterwards called Christians, applied the legend of the Angel-Messiah—"the very ancient Eastern doctrine," which we have shown throughout this work—to Christ Jesus. It was simply a transformation of names, a transformation which had previously occurred in many cases.[442:1] After this came additions to the legend from other sources. Portions of the legends related of the Persian, Greek and Roman Saviours and Redeemers of mankind, were, from time to time, added to the already legendary history of the Christian Saviour. Thus history was repeating itself. Thus the virgin-born God and Saviour, worshiped by all nations of the earth, though called by different names, was but one and the same. Alexandria
In a separate chapter we shall see who this One God was, and how the myth originated.
Albert Revillé says:
, the home of Philonism, and Neo-Platonism (and we might add Essenism), was naturally the centre whence spread the dogma of the deity of Jesus Christ. In that city, through the third century, flourished a school of transcendental theology, afterwards looked upon with suspicion by the conservators of ecclesiastical doctrine, but not the less the real cradle of orthodoxy. It was still the Platonic tendency which influenced the speculations of Clement, Origen and Dionysius, and the theory of the Logos was at the foundation of their theology."[443:1] Alexandria
Among the numerous gospels in circulation among the Christians of the first three centuries, there was one entitled "The Gospel of the Egyptians." Epiphanius (385 C.E), speaking of it, says:
"Many things are proposed (in this Gospel of the Egyptians) in a hidden, mysterious manner, as by our Saviour, as though he had said to his disciples, that the Father was the same person, the Son the same person, and the Holy Ghost the same person."
That this was one of the "Scriptures" of the Essenes becomes very evident when we find it admitted by the most learned of Christian theologians that it was in existence "before either of the canonical Gospels," and that it contained the doctrine of the Trinity, a doctrine not established in the Christian church until 327 C.E, but which was taught by this Buddhist sect in Alexandria, in Egypt, which has been well called, "Egypt, the land of Trinities."
The learned Dr. Grabe thought it was composed by some Christians in
, and that it was published before either of the canonical Gospels. Dr. Mill also believed that it was composed before either of the canonical Gospels, and, what is more important than all, that the authors of it were Essenes. Egypt
These "Scriptures" of the Essenes were undoubtedly amalgamated with the "Gospels" of the Christians, the result being the canonical Gospels as we now have them. The "Gospel of the Hebrews," and such like, on the one hand, and the "Gospel of the Egyptians," or Essenes, and such like, on the other. That the "Gospel of the Hebrews" spoke of Jesus of Nazareth as the son of Joseph and Mary, according to the flesh, and that it taught nothing about his miracles, his resurrection from the dead, and other such prodigies, is admitted on all hands. That the "Scriptures" of the Essenes contained the whole legend of the Angel-Messiah, which was afterwards added to the history of Jesus, making him a CHRIST, or an Anointed Angel, is a probability almost to a certainty. Do we now understand how all the traditions and legends, originally Indian, escaping from the great focus through
, were able to reach Egypt and Judea, Greece ? Rome
To continue with our subject, "why Christianity prospered," we must now consider another great support to the cause, i. e., Persecution. Ernest de Bunsen, speaking of Buddha, says:
"His religion has never been propagated by the sword. It has been affected entirely by the influence of peaceable and persevering devotees."
Can we say as much for what is termed "the religion of Christ?" No! this religion has had the aid of the sword and firebrand, the rack and the thumb-screw. "Persecution," is to be seen written on the pages of ecclesiastical history, from the time of
[272-337 C.E] even to the present day.[444:1] This Christian emperor and saint was the first to check free-thought. Constantine
"We search in vain," (says M. Renan), "in the collection of Roman laws before Constantine, for any enactment aimed at free thought, or in the history of the emperors, for a persecution of abstract doctrine. Not a single savant was disturbed. Men whom the Middle Ages would have burned—such as Galen, Lucian, Plotinus—lived in peace, protected by the law."[444:2]
Born and educated a pagan, Emperor Constantine embraced the Christian faith with ulterior motives. Having committed horrid crimes, in fact, having committed murders,[444:3] and,
"When he would have had his (Pagan) priests purge him by sacrifice, of these horrible murders, and could not have his purpose (for they answered plainly, it lay not in their power to cleanse him)[444:4] he lighted at last upon an Egyptian who came out of Iberia, and being persuaded by him that the Christian faith was of force to wipe away every sin, were it ever so heinous, he embraced willingly at whatever the Egyptian told him."[444:5]
[NOTE.—The learned Christian historian Pagi endeavours to smooth over the crimes of
. He says: "As for those few murders (which Eusebius says nothing about), had he thought it worth his while to refer to them, he would perhaps, with Baronius himself have said, that the young Licinius (his infant nephew), although the fact might not generally have been known, had most likely been an accomplice in the treason of his father. That as to the murder of his son, the Emperor is rather to be considered as unfortunate than as criminal. And with respect to his putting his wife to death, he ought to be pronounced rather a just and righteous judge. As for his numerous friends, whom Eutropius informs us he put to death one after another, we are bound to believe that most of them deserved it, and they were found out to have abused the Emperor's too great credulity, for the gratification of their own inordinate wickedness, and insatiable avarice; and such no doubt was that SOPATER the philosopher, who was at last put to death upon the accusation of Adlabius, and that by the righteous dispensation of God, for his having attempted to alienate the mind of Constantine from the true religion." (Pagi Ann. 324, quoted in Latin by Dr. Lardner, vol. iv. p. 371, in his notes for the benefit of the learned reader, but gives no rendering into English.)] Constantine
, soiled with all sorts of crimes, and stained with the blood of his wife, after repeated perjuries and assassinations, presented himself before the heathen priests in order to be absolved of so many outrages he had committed. He was answered, that amongst the various kinds of expiations, there was none which could expiate so many crimes, and that no religion whatever could offer efficient protection against the justice of the gods; and Constantine was emperor. One of the courtiers of the palace, who witnessed the trouble and agitation of his mind, torn by remorse, which nothing could appease, informed him, that the evil he was suffering was not without a remedy; that there existed in the religion of the Christians certain purifications, which expiated every kind of misdeeds, of whatever nature, and in whatsoever number they were: that one of the promises of the religion was, that whoever was converted to it, as impious and as great a villain as he might be, could hope that his crimes were immediately forgotten.[445:1] From that moment, Constantine declared himself the protector of a sect which treats great criminals with so much lenity.[445:2] He was a great villain, who tried to lull himself with illusions to smother his remorse."[445:3] Constantine
By the delay of baptism, a person who had accepted the true faith could venture freely to indulge their passions in the enjoyment of this world, while they still retained in their own hands the means of salvation; therefore, we find that Constantine, although he accepted the faith, did not get baptized until he was on his death-bed, as he wished to continue, as long as possible, the wicked life he was leading. Mr. Gibbon, speaking of him, says:
"The example and reputation of
seemed to countenance the delay of baptism. Future tyrants were encouraged to believe, that the innocent blood which they might shed in a long reign would instantly be washed away in the waters of regeneration; and the abuse of religion dangerously undermined the foundations of moral virtue."[445:4] Constantine
Eusebius, in his "Life of Constantine," tells us that:
"When he thought that he was near his death, he confessed his sins, desiring pardon for them of God, and was baptized.
"Before doing so, he assembled the bishops of
together, and spake thus unto them: Nicomedia
"'Brethren, the salvation which I have earnestly desired of God these many years, I do now this day expect. It is time therefore that we should be sealed and signed with the badge of immortality. And though I proposed to receive it in the river Jordan, in which our Saviour for our example was baptized, yet God, knowing what is fittest for me, hath appointed that I shall receive it in this place, therefore let me not be delayed.'"
"And so, after the service of baptism was read, they baptized him with all the ceremonies belonging to this mysterious sacrament. So that
was the first of all the emperors who was regenerated by the new birth of baptism, and that was signed with the sign of the cross."[446:1] Constantine
When Constantine had heard the good news from the Christian monk from Egypt, he commenced by conferring many dignities on the Christians, and those only who were addicted to Christianity, he made governors of his provinces.[446:2] He then issued edicts against heretics,—i. e., those who, like Arius, did not believe that Christ was "of one substance with the Father," and others—calling them "enemies of truth and eternal life," "authors and councillors of death," [446:3] He "commanded by law" that none should dare "to meet at conventiclers," and that "all places where they were wont to keep their meetings should be demolished," or "confiscated to the Catholic church;"[446:4] and Constantine was emperor. "By this means," says Eusebius, "such as maintained doctrines and opinions contrary to the church, were suppressed."[446:5]
, says Eusebius: Constantine
"Caused his image to be engraven on his gold coins, in the form of prayer, with his hands joined together, and looking up towards Heaven." "And over divers gates of his palace, he was drawn praying, and lifting up his hands and eyes to heaven."[446:6]
After his death, "effigies of this blessed man" were engraved on the Roman coins, "sitting in and driving a chariot, and a hand reached down from heaven to receive and take him up."[446:7]
The hopes of wealth and honours, the example of an emperor, his exhortations, his irresistible smiles, diffused conviction among the venal and obsequious crowds which usually fill the apartments of a palace, and as the lower ranks of society are governed by example, the conversion of those who possessed any eminence of birth, of power, or of riches, was soon followed by dependent multitudes.
passed a law which gave freedom to all the slaves who should embrace Christianity, and to those who were not slaves, he gave a white garment and twenty pieces of gold, upon their embracing the Christian faith. The common people were thus purchased at such an easy rate that, in one year, twelve thousand men were baptised at Constantine , besides a proportional number of women and children.[447:1] Rome
To suppress the opinions of philosophers, which were contrary to Christianity, the Christian emperors published edicts. The respective decrees of the emperors Constantine and Theodosius,[447:2] generally ran in the words; "That all writings adverse to the claims of the Christian religion, in the possession of whomsoever they should be found, should be committed to the fire," as the pious emperors would not that those things tending to provoke God to wrath, should be allowed to offend the minds of the piously disposed.
The following is a decree of the Emperor Theodosius of this purport:
"We decree, therefore, that all writings, whatever, which Porphyry or anyone else hath written against the Christian religion, in the possession of whomsoever they shall be found should be committed to the fire; for we would not suffer any of those things so much as to come to men's ears, which tend to provoke God to wrath and offend the minds of the pious."[447:3]
A similar decree of the emperor for establishing the doctrine of the Trinity, concludes with an admonition to all who shall object to it, that,
"Besides the condemnation of divine justice, they must expect to suffer the severe penalties, which our authority, guided by heavenly wisdom, may think proper to inflict upon them."[447:4]
This orthodox emperor (Theodosius, 379 – 395 C.E) considered every heretic (as he called those who did not believe as he and his ecclesiastics professed) a rebel against the supreme powers of heaven and of [earth (he being one of the supreme powers of earth), and each of the powers might exercise their peculiar jurisdiction over the soul and body of the guilty.
The decrees of the Council of Constantinople had ascertained the true standard of the faith, and the ecclesiastics, who governed the conscience of Theodosius, suggested the most effectual methods of persecution. In the space of fifteen years he promulgated at least fifteen severe edicts against the heretics, more especially against those who rejected the doctrine of the Trinity.[448:1]
Arius [presbyter (256 – 336) in
, declared that, in the nature of things, a father must be older than his son] was excommunicated for his so-called heretical notions concerning the Trinity. His followers, who were very numerous, were called Arians. Their writings, if they had been permitted to exist,[448:2] would undoubtedly contain the lamentable story of the persecution which affected the church under the reign of the impious Emperor Theodosius. Alexandria
Asia Minor the people were persecuted by orders of Constantius, and these orders were more than obeyed by Macedonius. The civil and military powers were ordered to obey his commands; the consequence was, he disgraced the reign of Constantius. "The rites of baptism were conferred on women and children, who, for that purpose, had been torn from the arms of their friends and parents; the mouths of the communicants were held open by a wooden engine, while the consecrated bread was forced down their throats; the breasts of tender virgins were either burned with red-hot egg-shells, or inhumanly compressed between sharp and heavy boards."[448:3] The principal assistants of Macedonius—the tool of Constantius—in the work of persecution, were the two bishops of and Cyzicus, who were esteemed for their virtues, and especially for their charity.[448:4] Nicomedia
Julian, the successor of Constantius, has described some of the theological calamities which afflicted the empire, and more especially in the East, in the reign of a prince who was the slave of his own passions, and of those of his eunuchs: "Many were imprisoned, and persecuted, and driven into exile. Whole troops of those who are styled heretics were massacred, particularly at Cyzicus, and at Samosata. In
, Gallatia, and in many other provinces, towns and villages were laid waste, and utterly destroyed."[449:1] Paphlagonia, Bithynia
Persecution of Norwegians & Heathens to accept Christianity:
Persecutions in the name of Christ Jesus were inflicted on the heathen in most every part of the then known world. Even among the Norwegians, the Christian sword was unsheathed. They clung tenaciously to the worship of their forefathers, and numbers of them died real martyrs for their faith, after suffering the cruelest torments from their persecutors. It was by sheer compulsion that the Norwegians embraced Christianity. The reign of Olaf Tryggvason, a Christian king of Norway (995-1000 C.E. ), was in fact entirely devoted to the propagation of the new faith, by means the most revolting to humanity. His general practice was to enter a district at the head of a formidable force, summon a Thing,[449:2] and give the people the alternative of fighting with him, or of being baptized. Most of them, of course, preferred baptism to the risk of a battle with an adversary so well prepared for combat; and the recusants were tortured to death with fiend-like ferocity, and their estates confiscated.[449:3]
Wikipedia mentions: “Several instances of Olaf's attempts lead to days of remembrance amongst modern heathens similar manner to feast days of martyred Christian saints. Raud the Strong (remembered January 9) refused to convert and, after a failed attempt using a wooden pin to pry open his mouth to insert a snake, was killed by a snake goaded by a hot poker through a drinking horn into Raud's mouth and down his throat. Eyvind Kinnrifi (February 9) likewise refused and was killed by a brazier of hot coals resting on his belly. The possibly apocryphal figure, Sigrid the Haughty (November 9), was said to have refused to marry Olaf if it meant forgoing her forefather's religion upon which Olaf slapped her with his glove, an act that prompted her to unite his enemies against him some years later.”
Despite obliteration efforts, the affinity of Buddha, Essences and Christianity can still be traced historically. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica: “The name Buddha is mentioned for the first time in Christian literature--and there only once -- by Clement of
about AD 200; and it vanished after that from Christian literature for a full 1,300 years. The Apologists from the 2nd to the 5th centuries used legend and myth. Clement of Alexandria employed them as allegories to make Christian concepts intelligible to Greek converts.” It further adds: “It is possible that through the centuries the vast majority of believers have not used the term ‘essence’ to describe the central focus of their faith. The term is itself of Greek origin and thus represents only one part of the tradition, one element in the terms that have gone into making up Christianity. The search for an ‘essence’ may be more urgent for philosophers, theologians (who interpret the language of the believing community), or historians than it is for the regular believers who do not share the burden of scholars. ‘Essence’ refers to those qualities that give something its identity and are at the centre of what makes that thing different from everything else. To Greek philosophers it meant something intrinsic to and inherent in a thing or category of things, which gave it its character and thus separated it from everything of different character. Thus Jesus Christ belongs to the essential character of Christianity and gives it identity in the same way that Buddha does for Buddhism.” Alexandria
After formulating the new religion with the label of Jesus Christ, next phase was propagation. Beside forging, lying, and deceiving for the cause of Christ, the Christian Fathers destroyed all evidence against themselves and their religion, which they came across. It was a Catholic opinion among the philosophers, that pious frauds were good things, and that the people ought to be imposed on in matters of religion."[435:4] Christian divines seem to have always been afraid of too much light. In the very infancy of printing, Cardinal Wolsey foresaw its effect on Christianity, and in a speech to the clergy, publicly forewarned them, that, if they did not destroy the Press, the Press would destroy them.[438:4] To suppress the opinions of philosophers, which were contrary to Christianity, the Christian emperors published edicts. Persecution was legitimised to expand the new faith. The respective decrees of the emperors Constantine and Theodosius,[447:2] generally ran in the words; "That all writings adverse to the claims of the Christian religion, in the possession of whomsoever they should be found, should be committed to the fire," "Besides the condemnation of divine justice, they must expect to suffer the severe penalties, which our authority, guided by heavenly wisdom, may think proper to inflict upon them."[447:4]
Persecutions in the name of Christ Jesus were inflicted on the heathen in most every part of the then known world. Even among the Norwegians, the Christian sword was unsheathed. Many died for their faith, after suffering the cruelest torments from their persecutors. It was by sheer compulsion that the Norwegians embraced Christianity. The reign of Olaf Tryggvason, a Christian king of Norway (995-1000 C.E. ), was in fact entirely devoted to the propagation of the new faith, by means the most revolting to humanity.
Paradoxically, the end of "established Christianity" in the old sense resulted in the most rapid and most widespread expansion in the history of the church. The Christianization of the
and the evangelization of Americas Asia, Africa, and Australasia for the first time gave geographic substance to the Christian title "ecumenical." Much of the evangelization appeared to be an integral part of military conquest. Growth in areas and in numbers, however, need not be equivalent to growth in influence. The original methodology of oppression and persecution was supplemented with new techniques of education, charity and other social welfare services. Missionaries working with Red Cross and other NGOs [Non Governmental organizations] in war and calamity hit areas are first visible to be noticed busy in noble works. Despite its continuing strength throughout the modern period, Christianity retreated on many fronts and lost much of its prestige and authority both politically and intellectually. Free flow of information has opened new avenues to the people; now its difficult to convince that 1+1+1=1 not 3. Some straightaway turn to atheism while those who take a deep look find Islam as rationally acceptable.
[419:1]"Numerous bodies of ascetics (Therapeutæ), especially near Lake Mareotis, devoted themselves to discipline and study, abjuring society and labor, and often forgetting, it is said, the simplest wants of nature, in contemplating the hidden wisdom of the Scriptures. Eusebius even claimed them as Christians; and some of the forms of monasticism were evidently modeled after the Therapeutæ." (Smith's Bible Dictionary, art. "
[420:1]Comp. Matt. vi. 33; Luke, xii. 31.
[420:2]Comp. Matt. vi. 19-21.
[420:3]Comp. Matt. xix. 21; Luke, xii. 33.
[420:4]Comp. Acts, ii. 44, 45; iv. 32-34; John, xii. 6; xiii. 29.
[420:5]Comp. Matt. xx. 25-28; Mark, ix. 35-37; x. 42-45.
[420:6]Comp. Matt. xxiii. 8-10.
[420:7]Comp. Matt. v. 5; xi. 29.
[420:8]Comp. Mark, xvi. 17; Matt. x. 8; Luke, ix. 1, 2; x. 9.
[420:9]Comp. Matt. v. 34.
[420:10]Comp. Matt. x. 9, 10.
[421:1]Comp. Luke, xxii. 36.
[421:2]Comp. Matt. xix. 10-12; I. Cor. viii.
[421:3]Comp. Rom. xii. 1.
[421:4]Comp. I. Cor. xiv. 1, 39.
[421:5]The above comparisons have been taken from Ginsburg's "Essenes," to which the reader is referred for a more lengthy observation on the subject.
[421:6]Ginsburg's Essenes, p. 24.
[421:7]"We hear very little of them after A. D. 40; and there can hardly be any doubt that, owing to the great similarity existing between their precepts and practices and those of primitive Christians, the Essenes as a body must have embraced Christianity." (Dr. Ginsburg, p. 27.)
[422:1]This will be alluded to in another chapter.
[422:2]It was believed by some that the order of Essenes was instituted by Elias, and some writers asserted that there was a regular succession of hermits upon
Mount Carmel from the time of the prophets to that of Christ, and that the hermits embraced Christianity at an early period. (See Ginsburgh's Essenes, and Hardy's Eastern Monachism, p. 358.)
[422:3]King's Gnostics and their Remains, p. 1.
[422:4]Ibid. p. 6.
[422:5]King's Gnostics, p. 23.
[422:6]Eusebius: Eccl. Hist., lib. 2, ch. xvii.
[423:1]Eusebius: Eccl. Hist., lib. 2, ch. xvii.
[423:2]Bunsen: The Angel-Messiah, p. vii. "The New Testament is the Essene-Nazarene Glad Tidings! Adon, Adoni, Adonis, style of worship." (S. F. Dunlap: Son of the Man, p. iii.)
[423:3]Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 747; vol. ii. p. 34.
[423:4]"In this," says Mr. Lillie, "he was supported by philosophers of the calibre of Schilling and Schopenhauer, and the great Sanscrit authority, Lassen. Renan also sees traces of this Buddhist propagandism in
before the Christian era. Hilgenfeld, Mutter, Bohlen, King, all admit the Buddhist influence. Colebrooke saw a striking similarity between the Buddhist philosophy and that of the Pythagoreans. Dean Milman was convinced that the Therapeuts sprung from the 'contemplative and indolent fraternities' of Palestine ." And, he might have added, the Rev. Robert Taylor in his "Diegesis," and Godfrey Higgins in his "Anacalypsis," have brought strong arguments to bear in support of this theory. India
[424:1]Buddha and Early Buddhism, p. vi.
[424:2]Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, p. 121.
[424:3]Ibid. p. 240.
[425:1]"The Essenes abounded in
, especially about Egypt ." (Eusebius: Eccl. Hist., lib. 2, ch. xvii.) Alexandria
[425:2]Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, p. 255.
[426:1]Rhys Davids' Buddhism, p. 179.
[426:2]This is clearly shown by Mr. Higgins in his Anacalypsis. It should be remembered that Gautama Buddha, the "Angel-Messiah," and Cyrus, the "Anointed" of the Lord, are placed about six hundred years before Jesus, the "Anointed." This cycle of six hundred years was called the "great year." Josephus, the Jewish historian, alludes to it when speaking of the patriarchs that lived to a great age. "God afforded them a longer time of life," says he, "on account of their virtue, and the good use they made of it in astronomical and geometrical discoveries, which would not have afforded the time for foretelling (the periods of the stars), unless they had lived six hundred years; for the great year is completed in that interval." (Josephus, Antiq., bk. i. c. iii.) "From this cycle of six hundred," says Col. Vallancey, "came the name of the bird Phœnix, called by the Egyptians Phenu, with the well-known story of its going to Egypt to burn itself on the altar of the Sun (at Heliopolis) and rise again from its ashes, at the end of a certain period."
[426:3]"Philo's writings prove the probability, almost rising to a certainty, that already in his time the Essenes did expect an Angel-Messiah as one of a series of divine incarnations. Within about fifty years after Philo's death, Elkesai the Essene probably applied this doctrine to Jesus, and it was promulgated in
about the same time, if not earlier, by the Pseudo-Clementines." (Bunsen: The Angel-Messiah, p. 118.) Rome
"There was, at this time (i. e., at the time of the birth of Jesus), a prevalent expectation that some remarkable personage was about to appear in
Judea. The Jews were anxiously looking for the coming of the Messiah. By computing the time mentioned by Daniel (ch. ix. 23-27), they knew that the period was approaching when the Messiah should appear. This personage, they supposed, would be a temporal prince, and they were expecting that he would deliver them from Roman bondage. It was natural that this expectation should spread into other countries." (Barnes' Notes, vol. i. p. 27.)
[427:1]Hist. Hindostan, vol. ii. p. 273.
[427:2]See Lardner's Works, vol. viii. p. 353.
[427:3]Apol. 1, ch. xxvi.
[428:1]See Lardner's Works, vol. viii. p. 593.
[428:2]Socrates: Eccl. Hist., lib. i. ch. xvii.
[429:1]Eusebius: Eccl. Hist., lib. 3, ch. xxiii.
[429:2]Ibid. lib. 7, ch. xxx.
[429:3]The death of Manes, according to Socrates, was as follows: The King of Persia, hearing that he was in
Mesopotamia, "made him to be apprehended, flayed him alive, took his skin, filled it full of chaff, and hanged it at the gates of the city." (Eccl. Hist., lib. 1, ch. xv.)
[430:1]Plato in Apolog. Anac., ii. p. 189.
[431:1]Mark, xiii. 21, 22.
[432:1]Geikie: Life of Christ, vol. i. p. 79.
[433:1]Frothingham's Cradle of the Christ.
[433:2]"The prevailing opinion of the Rabbis and the people alike, in Christ's day, was, that the Messiah would be simply a great prince, who should found a kingdom of matchless splendor." "With a few, however, the conception of the Messiah's kingdom was pure and lofty. . . . Daniel, and all who wrote after him, painted the 'Expected One' as a heavenly being. He was the 'messenger,' the 'Elect of God,' appointed from eternity, to appear in due time, and redeem his people." (Geikie's Life of Christ, vol. i. pp. 80, 81.)
In the book of Daniel, by some supposed to have been written during the captivity, by others as late as Antiochus Epiphanes (B. C. 75), the restoration of the Jews is described in tremendous language, and the Messiah is portrayed as a supernatural personage, in close relation with Jehovah himself. In the book of Enoch, supposed to have been written at various intervals between 144 and 120 (B. C.) and to have been completed in its present form in the first half of the second century that preceded the advent of Jesus, the figure of the Messiah is invested with superhuman attributes. He is called "The Son of God," "whose name was spoken before the Sun was made;" "who existed from the beginning in the presence of God," that is, was pre-existent. At the same time his human characteristics are insisted on. He is called "Son of Man," even "Son of Woman," "The Anointed" or "The Christ," "The Righteous One," &c. (Frothingham: The Cradle of the Christ, p. 20.)
[433:3]This is clearly seen from the statement made by the Matthew narrator (xvii. 9-13) that the disciples of Christ Jesus supposed John the Baptist was Elias.
[434:1]Isaiah, xlv. 1.
[434:2]Bunsen: The Angel-Messiah, p. 17.
[434:3]Quoted in Middleton's Letters from
, p. 51. Rome
[434:4]Hieron ad Nep. Quoted Volney's Ruins, p. 177, note.
[434:5]See his Eccl. Hist., viii. 21.
, vol. ii. pp. 79, 80. Rome
[435:2]"On voit dans l'histoire que j'ai rapportée une sorte d'hypocrisie, qui n'a peut-être été que trop commune dans tous les tems. C'est que des ecclésiastiques, non-seulement ne disent pas ce qu'ils pensent, mais disent tout le contraire de ce qu'ils pensent. Philosophes dans leur cabinet, hors delà, ils content des fables, quoiqu'ils sachent bien que ce sont des fables. Ils font plus; ils livrent au bourreau des gens de biens, pour l'avoir dit. Combiens d'athées et de profanes ont fait brûler de saints personnages, sous prétexte d'hérésie? Tous les jours des hypocrites, consacrent et font adorer l'hostie, bien qu'ils soient aussi convaincus que moi, que ce n'est qu'un morceau de pain." (Tom. 2, p. 568.)
[435:3]On the Use of the Fathers, pp. 36, 37.
's Syntagma, p. 170. Taylor
[435:5]Mosheim: vol. 1, p. 198.
[435:6]"Postremo illud quoque me vehementer movet, quod videam primis ecclesiæ temporibus, quam plurimos extitisse, qui facinus palmarium judicabant, cælestem veritatem, figmentis suis ire adjutum, quo facilius nova doctrina a gentium sapientibus admitteretur Officiosa hæc mendacia vocabant bono fine exeogitata." (Quoted in Taylor's Diegesis, p. 44, and Giles' Hebrew and Christian Records, vol. ii. p. 19.)
[436:1]See the Vision of Hermas, b. 2, c. iii.
[436:2]Mosheim, vol. i. p. 197. Quoted in
's Diegesis, p. 47. Taylor
[436:3]Dr. Giles: Hebrew and Christian Records, vol. ii. p. 99.
[436:4]"Continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister." (Colossians, i. 23.)
[436:5]"Being crafty, I caught you with guile." (II. Cor. xii. 16.)
[436:6]"For if the truth of God had more abounded through my lie unto his glory, why yet am I also judged as a sinner." (Romans, iii. 7.)
[437:1]"Si me tamen audire velis, mallem te pænas has dicere indefinitas quam infinitas. Sed veniet dies, cum non minus absurda, habebitur et odiosa hæc opinio quam transubstantiatio hodie." (De Statu Mort., p. 304. Quoted in
's Diegesis, p. 43.) Taylor
's Syntagma, p. 52. Taylor
Among the ancients, there were many stories current of countries, the inhabitants of which were of peculiar size, form or features. Our Christian saint evidently believed these tales, and thinking thus, sought to make others believe them. We find the following examples related by Herodotus: "Aristeas, son of Caystrobius, a native of Proconesus, says in his epic verses that, inspired by Apollo, he came to the Issedones; that beyond the Issedones dwell the Arimaspians, a people that have only one eye." (Herodotus, book iv. ch. 13.) "When one has passed through a considerable extent of the rugged country (of the Seythians), a people are found living at the foot of lofty mountains, who are said to be all bald from their birth, both men and women alike, and they are flat-nosed, and have large chins." (Ibid. ch. 23.) "These bald men say, what to me is incredible, that men with goat's feet inhabit these mountains; and when one has passed beyond them, other men are found, who sleep six months at a time, but this I do not at all admit." (Ibid. ch. 24.) In the country westward of
, "there are enormous serpents, and lions, elephants, bears, asps, and asses with horns, and monsters with dog's heads and without heads, who have eyes in their breasts, at least, as the Libyans say, and wild men and wild women, and many other wild beasts which are not fabulous." (Ibid. ch. 192.) Libya
[438:1]Nicodemus, Apoc., ch. xii.
[438:2]See Eusebius: Eccl. Hist., lib. 1, ch. xiv.
[438:3]Socrates: Eccl. Hist., lib. 1, ch. xiii.
[438:4]In year 1444, Caxton published the first book ever printed in
. In 1474, the then Bishop of London, in a convocation of his clergy, said: "If we do not destroy this dangerous invention, it will one day destroy us." (See Middleton's Letters from Rome, p. 4.) The reader should compare this with Pope Leo X.'s avowal that, "it is well known how profitable this fable of Christ has been to us;" and Archdeacon Paley's declaration that "he could ill afford to have a conscience." England
[438:5]Porphyry, who flourished about the year 270 A. D., a man of great abilities, published a large work of fifteen books against the Christians. "His objections against Christianity," says Dr. Lardner, "were in esteem with Gentile people for a long while; and the Christians were not insensible of the importance of his work; as may be concluded from the several answers made to it by Eusebius, and others in great repute for learning." (Vol. viii. p. 158.) There are but fragments of these fifteen books remaining, Christian magistrates having ordered them to be destroyed. (Ibid.)
[438:6]Hierocles was a Neo-Platonist, who lived at
about the middle of the fifth century, and enjoyed a great reputation. He was the author of a great number of works, a few extracts of which alone remain. Alexandria
[438:7]Celsus was an Epicurean philosopher, who lived in the second century A. D. He wrote a work called "The True Word," against Christianity, but as it has been destroyed we know nothing about it. Origen claims to give quotations from it.
[440:1]Draper: Religion and Science, pp. 18-21.
, vol. iii. p. 146. Rome
[441:1]Draper: Religion and Science, pp. 55, 56. See also, Socrates' Eccl. Hist., lib. 7, ch. xv.
[442:1]We have seen this particularly in the cases of Crishna and Buddha. Mr. Cox, speaking of the former, says: "If it be urged that the attribution to Crishna of qualities or powers belonging to the other deities is a mere device by which his devotees sought to supersede the more ancient gods, the answer must be that nothing has been done in his case which has not been done in the case of almost every other member of the great company of the gods." (Aryan Mythology, vol. ii. p. 130.) These words apply to the case we have before us. Jesus was simply attributed with the qualities or powers which had been previously attributed to other deities. This we hope to be able to fully demonstrate in our chapter on "Explanation."
[443:1]"Dogma of the Deity of Jesus Christ," p. 41.
[444:1]Adherents of the old religion of
have been persecuted in that country within the past year, and even in enlightened Russia , a gentleman has been persecuted by government officials because he believes in neither a personal God or a personal Devil. England
[444:2]Renan, Hibbert Lectures, p. 22.
[444:3]The following are the names of his victims:
Maximian, His wife's father, A. D. 310
Bassianus, His sister's husband, A. D. 314
Licinius, His nephew, A. D. 319
Fausta, His wife, A. D. 320
Sopater, His former friend, A. D. 321
Licinius, His sister's husband, A. D. 325
Crispus, His own son, A. D. 326
Dr. Lardner, in speaking of the murders committed by this Christian saint, is constrained to say that: "The death of Crispus is altogether without any good excuse, so likewise is the death of the young Licinianus, who could not have been more than a little above eleven years of age, and appears not to have been charged with any fault, and could hardly be suspected of any."
[444:4]The Emperor Nero could not be baptized and be initiated into Pagan Mysteries—as Constantine was initiated into those of the Christians—on account of the murder of his mother. And he did not dare to compel—which he certainly could have done—the priests to initiate him.
[444:5]Zosimus, in Socrates, lib. iii. ch. xl.
[445:1]"The sacrament of baptism was supposed to contain a full and absolute expiation of sin; and the soul was instantly restored to its original purity and entitled to the promise of eternal salvation. Among the proselytes of Christianity, there were many who judged it imprudent to precipitate a salutary rite, which could not be repeated. By the delay of their baptism, they could venture freely to indulge their passions in the enjoyments of this world, while they still retained in their own hands the means of a sure and speedy absolution." (Gibbon: ii. pp. 272, 273.)
[445:2]"Constantine, as he was praying about noon-tide, God showed him a vision in the sky, which was the sign of the cross lively figured in the air, with this inscription on it: 'In hoc vince;' that is, 'By this overcome.'" This is the story as related by Eusebius (Life of Constantine, lib. 1, ch. xxii.), but it must be remembered that Eusebius acknowledged that he told falsehoods. That night Christ appeared unto
in his dream, and commanded him to make the figure of the cross which he had seen, and to wear it in his banner when he went to battle with his enemies. (See Eusebius' Life of Constantine, lib. 1, ch. xxiii. See also, Socrates: Eccl. Hist., lib. 1, ch. ii.) Constantine
[445:3]Dupuis, p. 405.
, vol. ii. p. 373. The Fathers, who censured this criminal delay, could not deny the certain and victorious efficacy even of a death-bed baptism. The ingenious rhetoric of Chrysostom (A. D. 347-407) could find only three arguments against these prudent Christians. 1. "That we should love and pursue virtue for her own sake, and not merely for the reward. 2. That we may be surprised by death without an opportunity of baptism. 3. That although we shall be placed in heaven, we shall only twinkle like little stars, when compared to the suns of righteousness who have run their appointed course with labor, with success, and with glory." (Chrysostom in Epist. ad Hebræos. Homil. xiii. Quoted in Gibbon's " Rome ," ii. 272.) Rome
[446:1]Lib. 4, chs. lxi. and lxii., and Socrates: Eccl. Hist., lib. 2, ch. xxvi.
[446:2]Eusebius: Life of
, lib. 2, ch. xliii. Constantine
[446:3]Ibid. lib. 3, ch. lxii.
[446:4]Ibid. lib. 3, ch. lxiii.
[446:5]Ibid. lib. 3, ch. lxiv.
[446:6]Ibid. lib. 4, ch. xv.
[446:7]Ibid. ch. lxiii.
Plato places the ferocious tyrants in the Tartarus, such as Ardiacus of Pamphylia, who had slain his own father, a venerable old man, also an elder brother, and was stained with a great many other crimes.
, covered with similar crimes, was better treated by the Christians, who have sent him to heaven, and sainted him besides. Constantine
, vol. ii. p. 274. Rome
[447:2]"Theodosius, though a professor of the orthodox Christian faith, was not baptized till 380, and his behavior after that period stamps him as one of the most cruel and vindictive persecutors who ever wore the purple. His arbitrary establishment of the Nicene faith over the whole empire, the deprivation of civil rites of all apostates from Christianity and of the Eunomians, the sentence of death on the Manicheans, and Quarto-decimans all prove this." (Chambers's Encyclo., art. Theodosius.)
's Syntagma, p. 54. Taylor
, vol. iii. p. 81. Rome
, vol. iii. pp. 91, 92. Rome
[448:2]All their writings were ordered to be destroyed.
, vol. ii. p. 359. Rome
[448:4]Ibid. note 154.
[449:1]Julian: Epistol. lii. p. 436. Quoted in Gibbon's
, vol. ii. p. 360. Rome
[449:2]"Thing"—a general assembly of the freemen, who gave their assent to a measure by striking their shields with their drawn swords.
[449:3]See Mallet's Northern Antiquities, pp. 180, 351, and 470.
Modified Extract from CHAPTER XXXVII, WHY CHRISTIANITY PROSPERED "BIBLE MYTHS AND THEIR PARALLELS IN OTHER RELIGIONS" By T. W. DOANE, 1882. Produced by Marilynda Fraser-Cunliffe, Lisa Reigel, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net http://www.gutenberg.org/files/31885/31885-h/31885-h.htm#Page_36