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: 83

Taking for granted that the synoptic Gospels are historical, there is no proof that Jesus ever claimed to be either God, or a god; on the other hand, it is quite the contrary.[131:5] As Viscount Amberly says: "The best proof of this is that Jesus never, at any period of his life, [Pg 132]desired his followers to worship him, either as God, or as the Son of God," in the sense in which it is now understood. Had he believed of himself what his followers subsequently believed of him, that he was one of the constituent persons in a divine Trinity, he must have enjoined his Apostles both to address him in prayer themselves, and to desire their converts to do likewise. It is quite plain that he did nothing of the kind, and that they never supposed him to have done so.

Belief in Jesus as the Messiah was taught as the first dogma of Christianity, but adoration of Jesus as God was not taught at all.

But we are not left in this matter to depend on conjectural inferences. The words put into the mouth of Jesus are plain. Whenever occasion arose, he asserted his inferiority to the Father, though, as no one had then dreamt of his equality, it is natural that the occasions should not have been frequent.

He made himself inferior in knowledge when he said that of the day and hour of the day of judgment no one knew, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son; no one except the Father.[132:1]

He made himself inferior in power when he said that seats on his right hand and on his left in the kingdom of heaven were not his to give.[132:2]

He made himself inferior in virtue when he desired a certain man not to address him as "Good Master," for there was none good but God.[132:3]

The words of his prayer at Gethsemane, "all things are possible unto thee," imply that all things were not possible to him, while its conclusion "not what I will, but what thou wilt," indicates submission to a superior, not the mere execution of a purpose of his own.[132:4] Indeed, the whole prayer would have been a mockery, useless for any purpose but the deception of his disciples, if he had himself been identical with the Being to whom he prayed, and had merely been giving effect by his death to their common counsels. While the cry of agony from the cross, "My God, my God! why hast thou forsaken me?"[132:5] would have been quite unmeaning if the person forsaken, and the person forsaking, had been one and the same.

Either, then, we must assume that the language of Jesus has been misreported, or we must admit that he never for a moment pretended to be co-equal, co-eternal or consubstantial with God.

[Pg 133]

It also follows of necessity from both the genealogies,[133:1] that their compilers entertained no doubt that Joseph was the father of Jesus. Otherwise the descent of Joseph would not have been in the least to the point. All attempts to reconcile this inconsistency with the doctrine of the Angel-Messiah has been without avail, although the most learned Christian divines, for many generations past, have endeavored to do so.

So, too, of the stories of the Presentation in the Temple,[133:2] and of the child Jesus at Jerusalem,[133:3] Joseph is called his father. Jesus is repeatedly described as the son of the carpenter,[133:4] or the son of Joseph, without the least indication that the expression is not strictly in accordance with the fact.[133:5]

If his parents fail to understand him when he says, at twelve years old, that he must be about his Father's business;[133:6] if he afterwards declares that he finds no faith among his nearest relations;[133:7] if he exalts his faithful disciples above his unbelieving mother and brothers;[133:8] above all, if Mary and her other sons put down his prophetic enthusiasm to insanity;[133:9]—then the untrustworthy nature of these stories of his birth is absolutely certain. If even a little of what they tell us had been true, then Mary at least would have believed in Jesus, and would not have failed so utterly to understand him.[133:10]

The Gospel of Mark—which, in this respect, at least, abides most faithfully by the old apostolic tradition—says not a word about Bethlehem or the miraculous birth. The congregation of Jerusalem to which Mary and the brothers of Jesus belonged,[133:11] and over which the eldest of them, James, presided,[133:12] can have known nothing of it; for the later Jewish-Christian communities, the so-called Ebionites, who were descended from the congregation at Jerusalem, called Jesus the son of Joseph. Nay, the story that the