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: 268

"The four-fold writings of the Evangelists," "The Acts of the Apostles," "The Epistles of Peter," "after these the first of John, and that of Peter," "All these are received for undoubted." "The Revelation of St. John, some disavow."

"The books which are gainsaid, though well known unto many, are these: the Epistle of James, the Epistle of Jude, the latter of Peter, the second and third of John, whether they were John the Evangelist, or some other of the same name."[464:4]

Though Irenæus, in the second century, is the first who mentions the evangelists, and Origen, in the third century, is the first who gives us a catalogue of the books contained in the New Testament, Mosheim's admission still stands before us. We have no grounds of assurance that the mere mention of the names of the evangelists by Irenæus, or the arbitrary drawing up of a particular catalogue by Origen, were of any authority. It is still unknown by whom, or where, or when, the canon of the New Testament was settled. But in this absence of positive evidence we have abundance of negative proof. We know when it was not settled. We know it was not settled in the time of the Emperor Justinian, nor in the time of Cassiodorus; that is, not at any time before the middle of the sixth century, "by any authority that was decisive and universally acknowledged; but Christian people were at liberty to judge for themselves concerning the genuineness of writings proposed to them as apostolical."

[Pg 465]

We cannot do better than close this chapter with the words of Prof. Max Müller, who, in speaking of Buddhism, says:

"We have in the history of Buddhism an excellent opportunity for watching the process by which a canon of sacred books is called into existence. We see here, as elsewhere, that during the life-time of the teacher, no record of events, no sacred code containing the sayings of the Master, was wanted. His presence was enough, and thoughts of the future, and more particularly, of future greatness, seldom entered the minds of those who followed him. It was only after Buddha had left the world to enter into Nirvâna, that his disciples attempted to recall the sayings and doings of their departed friend and master. At that time, everything that seemed to redound to the glory of Buddha, however extraordinary and incredible, was eagerly welcomed, while witnesses who would have ventured to criticise or reject unsupported statements, or to detract in any way from the holy character of Buddha, had no chance of ever being listened to. And when, in spite of all this, differences of opinion arose, they were not brought to the test by a careful weighing of evidence, but the names of 'unbeliever' and 'heretic' were quickly invented in India as elsewhere, and bandied backwards and forwards between contending parties, till at last, when the doctors disagreed, the help of the secular power had to be invoked, and kings and emperors assembled councils for the suppression of schism, for the settlement of an orthodox creed, and for the completion of a sacred canon."[465:1]

That which Prof. Müller describes as taking place in the religion of Christ Buddha, is exactly what took place in the religion of Christ Jesus. That the miraculous, and many of the non-miraculous, events related in the Gospels never happened, is demonstrable from the facts which we have seen in this work, that nearly all of these events, had been previously related of the gods and goddesses of heathen nations of antiquity, more especially of the Hindoo Saviour Crishna, and the Buddhist Saviour Buddha, whose religion, with less alterations than time and translations have made in the Jewish Scriptures, may be traced in nearly every dogma and every ceremony of the evangelical mythology.

Note.—The Codex Sinaiticus, referred to on the preceding page, (note 2,) was found at the Convent of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai, by Tischendorf, in 1859. He supposes that it belongs to the 4th cent.; but Dr. Davidson (in Kitto's Bib. Ency., Art. MSS.) thinks different. He says: "Probably it is of the 6th cent.," while he states that the Codex Vaticanus "is believed to belong to the 4th cent.," and the Codex Alexandrinus to the 5th cent. McClintock & Strong's Ency. (Art. MSS.,) relying probably on Tischendorf's conjecture, places the Codex Sinaiticus first. "It is probably the oldest of the MSS. of the N. T., and of the 4th cent.," say they. The Codex Vaticanus is considered the next oldest, and the Codex Alexandrinus is placed third in order, and "was probably written in the first half of the 5th cent." The writer of the art. N. T. in Smith's Bib. Dic. says: "The Codex Sinaiticus is probably the oldest of the MSS. of the N. T., and of the 4th cent.;" and that the Codex Alexandrinus "was probably written in the first half of the 5th cent." Thus we see that in determining the dates of the MSS. of the N. T., Christian divines are obliged to resort to conjecture; there being no certainty whatever in the matter. But with all their "suppositions," "probabilities," "beliefs" and "conjectures," we have the words of the learned Michaelis still before us, that: "No MSS. of the N. T. now extant are prior to the sixth cent." This remark, however, does not cover the Codex Sinaiticus, which was discovered since Michaelis wrote his work on the N. T.; but, as we saw above, Dr. Davidson does not agree with Tischendorf in regard to its antiquity, and places it in the 6th cent.