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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: 305

[520:1] When we speak of Jesus being crucified, we do not intend to convey the idea that he was put to death on a cross of the form adopted by Christians. This cross was the symbol of life and immortality among our heathen ancestors (see Chapter XXXIII.), and in adopting Pagan religious symbols, and baptizing them anew, the Christians took this along with others. The crucifixion was not a symbol of the earliest church; no trace of it can be found in the Catacombs. Some of the earliest that did appear, however, are similar to figures No. 42 and No. 43, above, which represent two of the modes in which the Romans crucified their slaves and criminals. (See Chapter XX., on the Crucifixion of Jesus.)

[520:2] According to the Matthew and Mark narrators, Jesus' head was anointed while sitting at table in the house of Simon the leper. Now, this practice was common among the kings of Israel. It was the sign and symbol of royalty. The word "Messiah" signifies the "Anointed One," and none of the kings of Israel were styled the Messiah unless anointed. (See The Martyrdom of Jesus of Nazareth, p. 42.)

[521:1] Josephus: Antiquities, book xviii. ch. iv. 1.

[522:1] Josephus: Antiquities, book xviii. chap. iii. 2.

[522:2] "From the death of Herod, 4 B. C., to the death of Bar-Cochba, 132 A. D., no less than fifty different enthusiasts set up as the Messiah, and obtained more or less following." (John W. Chadwick.)

[522:3] "There was, at this time, a prevalent expectation that some remarkable personage was about to appear in Judea. The Jews were anxiously looking for the coming of the Messiah. This personage, they supposed, would be a temporal prince, and they were expecting that he would deliver them from Roman bondage." (Albert Barnes: Notes, vol. i. p. 7.)

"The central and dominant characteristic of the teaching of the Rabbis, was the certain advent of a great national Deliverer—the Messiah. . . . 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." (Geikie: The Life of Christ, vol. i. p. 79.)

[522:4] "The penalty of crucifixion, according to Roman law and custom, was inflicted on slaves, and in the provinces on rebels only." (The Martyrdom of Jesus, p. 96.)

[522:5] Judas, the Gaulonite or Galilean, as Josephus calls him, declared, when Cyrenius came to tax the Jewish people, that "this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery," and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty. He therefore prevailed upon his countrymen to revolt. (See Josephus: Antiq., b. xviii. ch. i. 1, and Wars of the Jews, b. ii. ch. viii. 1.)

[523:1] The Martyrdom of Jesus of Nazareth, p. 30.

[523:2] "That the High Council did accuse Jesus, I suppose no one will doubt; and since they could neither wish or expect the Roman Governor to make himself judge of their sacred law, it becomes certain that their accusation was purely political, and took such a form as this: 'He has accepted tumultuous shouts that he is the legitimate and predicted King of Israel, and in this character has ridden into Jerusalem with the forms of state understood to be royal and sacred; with what purpose, we ask, if not to overturn our institutions, and your dominion?' If Jesus spoke, at the crisis which Matthew represents, the virulent speech attributed to him (Matt. xxiii.), we may well believe that this gave a new incentive to the rulers; for it is such as no government in Europe would overlook or forgive: but they are not likely to have expected Pilate to care for any conduct which might be called an ecclesiastical broil. The assumption of royalty was clearly the point of their attack. Even the mildest man among them may have thought his conduct dangerous and needing repression." (Francis W. Newman, "What is Christianity without Christ?")

According to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus was completely innocent of the charge which has sometimes been brought against him, that he wished to be considered as a God come down to earth. His enemies certainly would not have failed to make such a pretension the basis and the continual theme of their accusations, if it had been possible to do so. The two grounds upon which he was brought before the Sanhedrim were, first, the bold words he was supposed to have spoken about the temple; and, secondly and chiefly, the fact that he claimed to be the Messiah, i. e., "The King of the Jews." (Albert Réville: "The Doctrine of the Dogma of the Deity of Jesus," p. 7.)

[523:3] See The Martyrdom of Jesus, p. 30.

[524:1] See note 4, p. 522.

[524:2] See Matt. xx. 19.

[524:3] John xviii. 31, 32.

[524:4] That is, the crucifixion story as related in the Gospels. See note 1, p. 520.

[524:5] Matthew xxvii. 24, 25.

[525:1] Commentators, in endeavoring to get over this difficulty, say that, "it may come from the look or form of the spot itself, bald, round, and skull-like, and therefore a mound or hillock," but, if it means "the place of bare skulls," no such construction as the above can be put to the word.

[526:1] The Martyrdom of Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 109-111.

[527:1] O. B. Frothingham: The Cradle of the Christ, p. 11.

The reader is referred to "Judaism: Its Doctrines and Precepts," by Dr. Isaac M. Wise. Printed at the office of the "American Israelite," Cincinnati, Ohio.

[527:2] If Jesus, instead of giving himself up quietly, had resisted against being arrested, there certainly would have been bloodshed, as there was on many other similar occasions.

[528:1] If what is recorded In the Gospels on the subject was true, no historian of that day could fail to have noticed it, but instead of this there is nothing.

[528:2] See Matthew, xxvii. 51-53.

[529:1] See Matt. xiv. 15-22: Mark, iv. 1-3, and xi. 14; and Luke, vii. 26-37.

[529:2] See Mark, xvi. 16.

[529:3] This fact has at last been admitted by the most orthodox among the Christians. The Rev. George Matheson, D. D., Minister of the Parish of Innellan, and a member of the Scotch Kirk, speaking of the precept uttered by Confucius, five hundred years before the time assigned for the birth of Jesus of Nazareth ("Whatsoever ye would not that others should do unto you, do not ye unto them"), says: "That Confucius is the author of this precept is undisputed, and therefore it is indisputable that Christianity has incorporated an article of Chinese morality. It has appeared to some as if this were to the disparagement of Christianity—as if the originality of its Divine Founder were impaired by consenting to borrow a precept from a heathen source. But in what sense does Christianity set up the claim of moral originality? When we speak of the religion of Christ as having introduced into the world a purer life and a surer guide to conduct, what do we mean? Do we mean to suggest that Christianity has, for the first time, revealed to the world the existence of a set of self-sacrificing precepts—that here, for the first time, man has learned that he ought to be meek, merciful, humble, forgiving, sorrowful for sin, peaceable, and pure in heart? The proof of such a statement would destroy Christianity itself, for an absolute original code of precepts would be equivalent to a foreign language. The glory of Christian morality is that it is


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