Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
Page: 130[229:3] After this, who is there that can doubt? but, if the fish and honeycomb story was true, why did the "Matthew" and "Mark" narrators fail to mention it?
The "Luke" narrator, like his predecessors, had also overdone the matter, and instead of convincing the skeptical, he only excited their ridicule.
The "John" narrator now comes, and endeavors to set matters right. He does not omit entirely the story of Jesus eating fish, for that would not do, after there had been so much said about it. He might leave it to be inferred that the "Luke" narrator made a mistake, so he modifies the story and omits the ridiculous part. The scene is laid on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias. Under the direction of Jesus, Peter drew his net to land, full of fish. "Jesus said unto them: Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise."[229:4]
It does not appear from this account that Jesus ate the fish at all. He took the fish and gave to the disciples; the inference is that they were the ones that ate. In the "Luke" narrator's account the statement is reversed; the disciples gave the fish to Jesus, and he ate. The "John" narrator has taken out of the story that which was absurd, but he leaves us to infer that the "Luke" narrator was careless in stating the account of what took place. If we leave out of the "Luke" narrator's account the part that relates to the fish and honeycomb, he fails to prove what it really [Pg 230]was which appeared to the disciples, as it seems from this that the disciples could not be convinced that Jesus was not a spirit until he had actually eaten something.
Now, if the eating part is struck out—which the "John" narrator does, and which, no doubt, the ridicule cast upon it drove him to do—the "Luke" narrator leaves the question just where he found it. It was the business of the "John" narrator to attempt to leave it clean, and put an end to all cavil.
Jesus appeared to the disciples when they assembled at Jerusalem. "And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side."[230:1] They were satisfied, and no doubts were expressed. But Thomas was not present, and when he was told by the brethren that Jesus had appeared to them, he refused to believe; nor would he, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."[230:2] Now, if Thomas could be convinced, with all his doubts, it would be foolish after that to deny that Jesus was not in the body when he appeared to his disciples.
After eight days Jesus again appears, for no other purpose—as it would seem—but to convince the doubting disciple Thomas. Then said he to Thomas: "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing."[230:3] This convinced Thomas, and he exclaimed: "My Lord and my God." After this evidence, if there were still unbelievers, they were even more skeptical than Thomas himself. We should be at a loss to understand why the writers of the first three Gospels entirely omitted the story of Thomas, if we were not aware that when the "John" narrator wrote the state of the public mind was such that proof of the most unquestionable character was demanded that Christ Jesus had risen in the body. The "John" narrator selected a person who claimed he was hard to convince, and if the evidence was such as to satisfy him, it ought to satisfy the balance of the world.[230:4]
The first that we knew of the fourth Gospel—attributed to John—is from the writings of Irenæus (A. D. 177-202), and the evidence is that he is the author of it.[230:5] That controversies were rife in his day concerning the resurrection of Jesus, is very evident from other sources. We find that at this time the resurrection of [Pg 231]the dead (according to the accounts of the Christian forgers) was very far from being esteemed an uncommon event; that the miracle was frequently performed on necessary occasions by great fasting and the joint supplication of the church of the place, and that the persons thus restored by their prayers had lived afterwards among them many years. At such a period, when faith could boast of so many wonderful victories over death, it seems difficult to account for the skepticism of those philosophers, who still rejected and derided the doctrine of the resurrection. A noble Grecian had rested on this important ground the whole controversy, and promised Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, that if he could be gratified by the sight of a single person who had been actually raised from the dead, he would immediately embrace the Christian religion.
"It is somewhat remarkable," says Gibbon, the historian, from whom we take the above, "that the prelate of the first Eastern Church, however anxious for the conversion of his friend, thought proper to decline this fair and reasonable challenge."[231:1]
This Christian saint, Irenæus, had invented many stories of others being raised from the dead, for the purpose of attempting to strengthen the belief in the resurrection of Jesus. In the words of the Rev. Jeremiah Jones:
"Such pious frauds were very common among Christians even in the first three centuries; and a forgery of this nature, with the view above-mentioned, seems natural and probable."
One of these "pious frauds" is the "Gospel of Nicodemus the Disciple, concerning the Sufferings and Resurrection of our Master and Saviour Jesus Christ." Although attributed to Nicodemus, a disciple of Jesus, it has been shown to be a forgery, written towards the close of the second century—during the time of Irenæus, the well-known pious forger. In this book we find the following:
"And now hear me a little. 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 Arimathæa, spending their time together in offices of devotion."[231:2]
The purpose of this story is very evident. Some "zealous believer," observing the appeals for proof of the resurrection, wishing to make it appear that resurrections from the dead were [Pg 232]common occurrences, invented this story towards the close of the second century, and fathered it upon Nicodemus.
We shall speak, anon, more fully on the subject of the frauds of the early Christians, the "lying and deceiving for the cause of Christ," which is carried on even to the present day.
As President Cheney of Bates College has lately remarked, "The resurrection is the doctrine of Christianity and the foundation of the entire system,"[232:1] but outside of the four spurious gospels this greatest of all recorded miracles is hardly mentioned. "We have epistles from Peter, James, John, and Jude—all of whom are said by the evangelists to have seen Jesus after he rose from the dead, in none of which epistles is the fact of the resurrection even stated, much less that Jesus was seen by the writer after his resurrection."[232:2]
Many of the early Christian sects denied the resurrection of Christ Jesus, but taught that he will rise, when there shall be a general resurrection.
No actual representation of the resurrection of the Christian's Saviour has yet been found among the monuments of early Christianity. The earliest representation of this event that has been found is an ivory carving, and belongs to the fifth or sixth century.[232:3]