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: 267Of gospel statistics there are many falsehoods; among them may be mentioned the following:
"Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness," is an assertion made by the Luke narrator (Luke iii. 2); when all Jews, or persons living among them, must have known that there never was but one high priest at a time, as with ourselves there is but one mayor of a city.
Again we read (John vii. 52), "Search (the Scriptures) and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet," when the most distinguished of the Jewish prophets—Nahum and Jonah—were both Galileans.
See reference in the Epistles to "Saints," a religious order, owing its origin to the popes. Also, references to the distinct orders of "Bishops," "Priests," and "Deacons," and calls to a monastic life; to fasting, etc., when, the titles of "Bishop," "Priest," and "Deacon" were given to the Essenes—whom Eusebius calls Christians—and, as is well known, monasteries were the abode of the Essenes or Therapeuts.
See the words for "legion," "aprons," "handkerchiefs," "centurion," etc., in the original, not being Greek, but Latin, written in Greek characters, a practice first to be found in the historian Herodian, in the third century.
In Matt. xvi. 18, and Matt. xviii. 17, the word "Church" is used, and its papistical and infallible authority referred to as then existing, which is known not to have existed till ages after. And the passage in Matt. xi. 12:—"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence," etc., could not have been written till a very late period.
Luke ii. 1, shows that the writer (whoever he may have been) lived long after the events related. His dates, about the fifteenth year of Tiberius, and the government of Cyrenius (the only indications of time in the New Testament), are manifestly false. The general ignorance of the four Evangelists, not merely of the geography and statistics of Judea, but even of its language,—their egregious blunders, which no writers who had lived in that age could be conceived of as making,—prove that they were not only no such persons as those who have been willing to be deceived have taken them to be, but that they were not Jews, had never been in Palestine, and neither lived at, or at anywhere near the times to [Pg 463]which their narratives seem to refer. The ablest divines at the present day, of all denominations, have yielded as much as this.[463:1]
The Scriptures were in the hands of the clergy only, and they had every opportunity to insert whatsoever they pleased; thus we find them full of interpolations. Johann Solomo Semler, one of the most influential theologians of the eighteenth century, speaking of this, says:
"The Christian doctors never brought their sacred books before the common people; although people in general have been wont to think otherwise; during the first ages, they were in the hands of the clergy only."[463:2]
Concerning the time when the canon of the New Testament was settled, Mosheim says:
"The opinions, or rather the conjectures, of the learned concerning the time when the books of the New Testament were collected into one volume; as also about the authors of that collection, are extremely different. This important question is attended with great and almost insuperable difficulties to us in these later times."[463:3]
The Rev. B. F. Westcott says:
"It is impossible to point to any period as marking the date at which our present canon was determined. When it first appears, it is presented not as a novelty, but as an ancient tradition."[463:4]
Dr. Lardner says:
"Even so late as the middle of the sixth century, the canon of the New Testament had not been settled by any authority that was decisive and universally [Pg 464]acknowledged, but Christian people were at liberty to judge for themselves concerning the genuineness of writings proposed to them as apostolical, and to determine according to evidence."[464:1]
The learned Michaelis says:
"No manuscript of the New Testament now extant is prior to the sixth century, and what is to be lamented, various readings which, as appears from the quotations of the Fathers, were in the text of the Greek Testament, are to be found in none of the manuscripts which are at present remaining."[464:2]
And Bishop Marsh says:
"It is a certain fact, that several readings in our common printed text are nothing more than alterations made by Origen, whose authority was so great in the Christian Church (A. D. 230) that emendations which he proposed, though, as he himself acknowledged, they were supported by the evidence of no manuscript, were very generally received."[464:3]
In his Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius gives us a list of what books at that time (A. D. 315) were considered canonical. They are as follows: