Now that the debate on one of the most vital questions of modern
religious thought—The Historicity of Jesus—is in print, a few
further reflections on some minor points in Dr. Crapsey’s argument
may add to the value of the published copy.
REV. DR. CRAPSEY: “Now, I say this is the great law of religious
variation, that in almost every instance, indeed, I think, in every
single instance in history, all such movements begin with a single
personality.” (P. 5, Mangasarian-Crapsey Debate.)
ANSWER: The only way this question can be settled is by appealing to
history. Mithraism is a variant religion, which at one time spread
over the Roman Empire and came near outclassing Christianity. Yet, Mithra, represented as a young man, and worshiped as a God, is a
myth. How, then, did Mithraism arise?
Religions, as well as their variations, appear as new branches do
upon an old tree. The new branch is quite as much the product of the
soil and climate as the parent tree. Like Brahmanism, Judaism,
Shinto and the Babylonian and Egyptian Cults, which had no single
founders, Christianity is a deposit to which Hellenic, Judaic and
Latin tendencies have each contributed its quota.
But the popular imagination craves a Maker for the Universe, a
founder for Rome, a first man for the human race, and a great chief
as the starter of the tribe. In the same way it fancies a divine, or
semidivine being as the author of its credo.
Because Mohammed is historical, it does not follow that
also historical. That argument would prove too much.
Rev. Dr. CRAPSEY: “We would be in the same position that the
astronomers were when they discovered the great planet Uranus—from
their knowledge of the movements of these bodies they were convinced
that these perturbations could be occasioned by nothing less than a
great planet lying outside of the then view of mankind.” (P. 6,
ANSWER: But the astronomers did not rest until they converted the
probability of a near-by planet into demonstration. Jesus is still a
Rev. Dr. CRAPSEY: “We have of Jesus a very distinctly outlined
history. There is nothing vague about him.” (P. 12, Ibid.)
ANSWER: But in the same sentence the doctor takes all this back by
adding: “There are a great many things in his history that are not
historical.” If so, then we do not possess “a very distinctly
outlined history,” but at best a mixture of fact and fiction.
Rev. Dr. CRAPSEY: “We can follow Jesus’ history from the time that
he entered upon his public career until the time that career closed,
just as easily as we can follow Caesar, etc.” (P. 12, Ibid.)
ANSWER: How long was “the time from the opening of Jesus’ public
career until the time that it closed?”—One year! -- according to the
three gospels. It sounds quite a period to speak of “following his
public career” from beginning to end, especially when compared with
Caesar’s, until it is remembered that the entire public career of
Jesus covers the space of only one year. This is a most decisive
argument against the historicity of Jesus. With the exception of one
year, his whole life is hid in impenetrable darkness.
nothing of his childhood, nothing of his old age, if he lived to be
old, and of his youth, we know just enough to fill up a year. Under
the circumstances, there is no comparison between the public career
of a Caesar or a Socrates covering from fifty to seventy years of
time, and that of a Jesus of whose life only one brief year is
thrown upon the canvas.
An historical Jesus who lived only a year!
Rev. Dr. CRAPSEY: The Christ I admit to be purely mythological ...
the word Christ, you know, means the anointed one ... they (the
Hebrews) expected the coming of that Christ ... But that is purely a
mythical title. (The Debate—p. 35.)
ANSWER: Did the Hebrews then expect the coming of a title? Were they
looking forward to seeing the ancient throne of David restored by a
title? By Messiah or Christ the Jews did not mean a name, but a
man—a real flesh and bone savior, anointed or appointed by heaven.
But if the ‘Christ’ which the Hebrews expected was “purely
mythical,” what makes the same ‘Christ’ in the supposed Tacitus
passage historical? The New Testament Jesus is Jesus Christ, and the
apostle John speaks of those “who confess not that Jesus Christ is
come in the flesh”—mark his words—not Christ, but Jesus Christ. The
apostle does not separate the two names. There were those, then, in
the early church who denied the historicity, not of a title, -- for
what meaning would there be in denying that a title “is come in the
flesh,”—but of a person, known as Jesus Christ.
And what could the doctor mean when he speaks of a title being
“mythological?” There are no mythological titles. Titles are words,
and we do not speak of the historicity or the non-historicity of
words. We cannot say of words as we do of men, that some are
historical and others are mythical. William Tell is a myth—not the
name, but the man the name stands for. William is the name of many
real people, and so is Tell. There were many anointed kings, who are
historical, and the question is, Is Jesus Christ—or Jesus the
Anointed—also historical? To answer that Jesus is historical, but
The Anointed is not, is to evade the question.
When Mosheim declares that “The prevalent opinion among early
Christians was that Christ existed in appearance only,” he could not
have meant by ‘Christ’ only a title. There is no meaning in saying
that a man’s title “existed in appearance only?”
We do not speak of a title being born, or crucified; and when some
early Christians denied that Jesus Christ was ever born or ever
crucified, they had in mind not a title but a person.
In conclusion: If the ‘Christ’ by whom the Hebrews meant, not a mere
name, but a man, was “purely mythological,” as the reverend debater
plainly admits (see pages 35, 36 of The Debate) - that is, if when the Hebrews said: “Christ is coming,” they were
under the influence of an illusion, -- why may not the Christians
when they say that ‘Christ’ has come, be also under the influence of
The Hebrew illusion said, Christ was coming; the
Christian illusion says, Christ has come. The Hebrews had no
evidence that ‘Christ’ was coming, although that expectation was a
great factor in their religion; and the Christians have no more
evidence for saying ‘Christ’ has come, although that belief is a
great factor in their religion.
The minister of the South Congregational Church, who heard the
debate, has publicly called your lecturer an “unscrupulous sophist,”
who “practices imposition upon a popular audience” and who “put
forth sentence after sentence which every scholar present knew to be
a perversion of the facts so outrageous as to be laughable.”
As one of the leading morning papers said, the above “is not a reply
to arguments made by Mr. Mangasarian.”
Invited by several people to prove these charges, the Reverend
“In the absence of any full report of what he (M. M. Mangasarian) said, or of any notes taken at the time, I am unable to
furnish you with quotations.”
When the Reverend was addressing the
public his memory was strong enough to enable him to say,
after sentence was put forth by Mr. Mangasarian which every scholar
present knew to be a perversion of the facts.”
But when called upon
to mention a few of them, his memory forsakes him. Our critic is not
careful to make his statements agree with the fact.
One instance, however, he is able to remember which,
“when it fell
upon my ears,” he writes, “it struck me with such amazement, that it
completely drove from my mind a series of most astonishing
statements of various sorts which had just preceded it.”
We refrain from commenting on the excuse given to explain so
significant a failure of memory. The instance referred to was about
the denial of some in apostolic times that “Jesus Christ is come in
the flesh.” But as Mr. Mangasarian had hardly spoken more than
twenty minutes when he touched upon this point, it is not likely
that it could have been “preceded by a series of most astonishing
statements of various sorts.”
And what was the statement which, while it crippled his memory, it
did not moderate his zeal? We will let him present it himself;
refer to the use he made of one or two passages in the New
Testament, mentioning some who deny ‘that Jesus Christ is come in
the flesh.’ ‘So that,’ he went on to say, ‘there were those even
among the early Christians themselves who denied that Jesus had come
in the flesh. Of course, they were cast out as heretics.’ Here came
an impressive pause, and then without further explanation or
qualification, he proceeded to something else.”
This is his most serious complaint. Does it justify hasty language?
St. John writes of those who “confessed not that Jesus Christ is
come in the flesh.” The natural meaning of the words is that even in
apostolic times some denied the flesh and bone Jesus, and regarded
him as an idea or an apparition—something like the Holy Ghost. All
church historians admit the existence of sects that denied the New
Testament Jesus—the Gnostics, the Essenes, the Ebionites, the
Marcionites, the Cerinthians, etc.
As the debate is now in print, further comment on this would not be
Incidents like the above, however, should change every lukewarm
rationalist into a devoted soldier of truth and honor.
To us, more important than anything presented on this
subject, is this evidence of the existence of a very early
dispute among the first disciples of Jesus on the question of
whether he was real or merely an apparition. The Apostle John, in
his epistle, clearly states that even among the faithful there were
those who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This
is very important. As early as John’s time, if he is the writer of
the epistle, Jesus’ historicity was questioned.
The gospel of John also hints at the existence in the primitive
church of Christians who did not accept the reality of Jesus. When
doubting Thomas is told of the resurrection, he answers that he must
feel the prints of the nails with his fingers before he will
believe, and Jesus not only grants the wishes of this skeptical
apostle, but he also eats in the presence of them all, which story
is told evidently to silence the critics who maintained that Jesus
was only a spirit, “the Wisdom of God,” an emanation, a light, and
not real flesh and bones.
The same clergyman, to whom a copy of the Mangasarian-Crapsey Debate
was sent, has written a five page criticism of it.
The strength of a given criticism is determined by asking:
Does it in any way impair the soundness of the argument against
which it is directed? Critics have discovered mistakes in Darwin and
Haecket, but are these mistakes of such a nature as to prove fatal
to the theory of evolution?
To be effective, criticism must be aimed at the heart of an
argument. A man’s life is not in his hat, which could be knocked
off, or in his clothes—which could be torn in places by his
assailant without in the least weakening his opponent’s position. It
is the blow that disables which counts.
To charge that we have said ‘Gospel,’ where we should have said
‘Epistle,’ or ‘Trullum’ instead of ‘Trullo’; that it was not
Barnabas, but Nicholas who denied the Gospel Jesus, and that there
were variations of this denial, does not at all disprove the fact
that, according to the Christian scriptures themselves, among the
apostolic followers there were those to whom Jesus Christ was only a
Milman, the Christian historian, states that the belief about Jesus
Christ “adopted by almost all the Gnostic sects,” was that Jesus
Christ was but an apparent human being, an impassive phantom,
(History of Christianity. Vol. 2, P. 61). Was ever such a view
entertained of Caesar, Socrates or of any other historical
On page 28 of The Debate we say:
“The Apostle John complains of
those ... who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.”
To this the clergyman replies:
“The Apostle John never made any such complaint. Critical
scholarship is pretty well agreed that he did not write the epistles
ascribed to him.”
We have a lecture on “How the Bible was Invented,” and this
clergyman’s admission that at least parts of the bible are invented
is very gratifying.
In a former communication, this same clergyman tried to prove that
the Apostle John’s complaint does not at all imply a denial of the
historical Jesus. In his recent letter he denies that the apostle
ever made such a complaint.
John did not write the epistles, then, which the Christian church
for two thousand years, and at a cost of millions of dollars, and at
the greater sacrifice of truth and progress has been proclaiming to
the world as the work of the inspired John!
The strenuous efforts to get around this terrible text in the “Holy
Bible,” show what a decisive argument it is.
Every exertion to meet
it only tightens the text, like a rope, around the neck of the
belief in the historical Jesus. Our desire, in engaging in this
argument, is to turn the thought and love of the world from a
mythical being, to humanity, which is both real and present.
On page 22 Of The Debate, we say:
“St. Paul tells us that he lived
in Jerusalem at a time when Jesus must have been holding the
attention of the city; yet he never met him.”
To this the clergyman
“Paul tells us nothing of the kind. In a speech which is put into
the mouth of Paul”—put into the mouth of Paul! Is this another
instance of forgery? John did not write the epistles, and Paul’s
speech in the Book of Acts was put into his mouth! Will the
clergyman tell us which parts of the bible are not invented?
Let us make a remark: The church people blame us for not believing
in the trustworthiness of the bible; but when we reply that if the
bible is trustworthy, then Paul must have been in Jerusalem with
Jesus, and John admits that some denied the historical Jesus, we are
blamed for not knowing better than to prove anything by quoting Paul
and John as if everything they said was trustworthy.
In other words, only those passages in the bible are authentic which
the clergy quote; those which the rationalists quote are spurious.
In the meantime, the authentic as well as the spurious passages
together compose the churches’ Word of God.
In a letter of protest to Mr. Mangasarian, Rabbi Hirsch, of
this city, asks:
“Was it right for you to assume that I was
correctly reported by the News!”
After stating what he had said
in his interview with the reporter, the Rabbi continues:
said I to the reporter all these possible allusions do not prove
that Jesus existed ... You see in reality I agreed with you. I
personally believe Jesus lived. But I have no proof for this beyond my feeling that the movement with which the name is associated could even for Paul not have taken its nomenclature
without a personal substratum. But, and this I told the reporter
also, this does not prove that the Jesus of the Gospels is
Rabbi Hirsch writes in this same letter that he did not
say Jesus was mentioned in the Rabbinical Books. The News reports
the Rabbi as saying, “But we know through the Rabbinical Books that
A committee from our Society waited on the editor of the Daily News
for an explanation. The editor promised to locate the responsibility
for the contradiction.
As the report in the News was allowed to stand for four days without
correction, and as Rabbi Hirsch did not even privately, by letter or
by phone, disclaim responsibility for the article, to Mr.
Mangasarian, the latter claims he was justified in assuming that the
published report was reliable. But it is with pleasure that the
Independent Religious Society gives Rabbi Hirsch this opportunity to
explain his position. We hope he will also let us know whether he
said to the reporter
“I do not believe in Mr. Mangasarian’s argument
that Christianity has inspired massacres, wars and inquisitions. It
is a stock argument and not to the point.”
This is extraordinary;
and as the Rabbi does not question the statement, we infer that it
is a correct report of what he said. Though we have room for only
one quotation from the Jewish-Christian Scriptures, it will be
enough to show the relation of religion to persecution:
“And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord, thy God,
shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them.”
Why were women put to death as witches? Why were Quakers hanged? For
what “economic and political reasons,” which the Rabbi thinks are
responsible for persecution, was the blind Derby girl who doubted
the Real Presence, burned alive at the age of twenty-two?
The Rev. W.E. Barton, of Oak Park, is one of the ablest
Congregational ministers in the West. He has recently expressed
himself on the Mangasarian-Crapsey Debate. Let us hear what he has
to say on the historicity of Jesus.
The Reverend begins by an uncompromising denial of our statements,
and ends by virtually admitting all that we contend for. This
morning we will write of his denials; next Sunday, of his
“Mr. Mangasarian,” says Dr. Barton, “has not given evidence of his
skill as a logician or of his accuracy in the use of history.”
he proceeds to apologize, in a way, for the character of his reply
to our argument, by saying that
“Mr. Mangasarian’s arguments,
fortunately, do not require to be taken very seriously, for they are
not in themselves serious.”
Notwithstanding this protest, Dr. Barton proceeds to do his best to
reply to our position.
In The Debate we call attention to the fact that according to the
New Testament, Paul was in Jerusalem when Jesus was teaching and
performing his miracles there. Yet Paul never seems to have met
Jesus, or to have heard of his teachings or miracles. To this Dr.
“We cannot know and are not bound to explain where
Paul was on the few occasions when Jesus publicly visited
The above reply, we are compelled to say, much to our regret, is not
even honest. Without ‘actually telling any untruths, it suggests
indirectly two falsehoods: First, that Jesus was not much in
Jerusalem—that he was there only on a few occasions; and that,
therefore, it is not strange that Paul did not see him or hear of
his preaching or miracles; and second, that Paul was absent from the
city when Jesus was there.
The question is not how often Jesus
visited Jerusalem, but how conspicuous was the part he played there.
He may have visited Jerusalem only once in all his life, yet if he
preached there daily in the synagogues; if he performed great
miracles there; if he marched through the streets followed by the
palm-waving multitude shouting Hosanna, etc.; if he attacked the
high-priest and the pharisees there, to which latter class Paul
belonged; and if he was arrested, tried and publicly executed there;
and if his teaching stirred the city from center to circumference,
-- it would not be honest to intimate that the “few” times Jesus
visited Jerusalem, Paul was engaged elsewhere.
The Reverend attempts to belittle the Jerusalem career of Jesus, by
suggesting that he was not there much, when according to the
Gospels, it was in that city that his ministry began and culminated.
Again, to our argument that Paul never refers to any of the
teachings of Jesus, the Reverend replies:
“Nor is it of consequence
that Paul seldom quotes the words of Jesus.”
“Seldom” -- would imply
that Paul quotes Jesus sometimes.
We say Paul gives not a single
quotation to prove that he knew of a teaching Jesus. He had heard of
a crucified, risen, Christ—one who had also instituted a bread and
wine supper, but of Jesus as a teacher and of his teaching, Paul is
But by saying “Paul seldom quotes Jesus,” Dr. Barton tries to
produce the impression that Paul quotes Jesus, though not very
often, which is not true. There is not a single miracle, parable or
moral teaching attributed to Jesus in the Gospels of which Paul
seems to possess any knowledge whatever.
Nor is it true that it is of no consequence that “Paul seldom quotes
the words of Jesus.” For it proves that the Gospel Jesus was unknown
to Paul, and that he was created at a later date.
Once more; we say that the only Jesus Paul knew was the one he met
in a trance on his way to Damascus. To this the pastor of the First
Congregational Church of Oak Park replies in the same
we-do-not-care-to-explain style. He says: “Nor is it of consequence
that Paul values comparatively lightly, having known him in the
The words “Paul valued comparatively lightly” are as misleading as
the words “Paul seldom quotes Jesus.” Paul never quotes Jesus’
teachings, and he never met Jesus in the flesh. The clergyman’s
words, however, convey the impression that Paul knew Jesus in the
flesh, but he valued that knowledge “comparatively lightly,” that is
to say, he did not think much of it. And Dr. Barton is one of the
foremost divines of the country.
And now about his admissions:
I. “The Gospels, by whomever written,” says the clergyman, “are
reliable.” By whomever written! After two thousand years, it is
still uncertain to whom we are indebted for the story of Jesus.
What, in Dr. Barton’s opinion, could have influenced the framers of
the life of Jesus to suppress their identity? And why does not the
church instead of printing the words, “The Gospel according to
Matthew or John,” which is not true, -- print, “The Gospel by
II. “At the very least, four of Paul’s epistles are genuine,” says
the same clergyman. Only four? Paul has thirteen epistles in the
bible, and of only four of them is Dr. Barton certain. What are the
remaining nine doing in the Holy Bible? And which ‘four’ does the
clergyman accept as doubtlessly “genuine?”
Only yesterday all
thirteen of Paul’s letters were infallible, and they are so still
wherever no questions are asked about them. It is only where there
is intelligence and inquiry that “four of them” at least are
reliable. As honesty and culture increase, the number of inspired
epistles decreases. What the Americans are too enlightened to
accept, the church sends to the heathen.
III. “It is true that early a sect grew up which ... held that Jesus
could not have had a body of carnal flesh; but they did not question
that he had really lived.” According to Dr. Barton, these early
Christians did not deny that Jesus had really lived, -- they only
denied that Jesus could have had a body of carnal flesh. We wonder
how many kinds of flesh there are according to Dr. Barton. Moreover,
does not the bible teach that Jesus was tempted in all things, and
was a man of like passions, as ourselves?
The good man controls his
appetites and passions, but his flesh is not any different from
anybody else’s. If Jesus did not have a body like ours, then he did
not exist as a human being. Our point is, that if the New Testament
is reliable, in the time of the apostles themselves, the Gnostics,
an influential body of Christians, denied that Jesus was any more
than an imaginary existence.
“But,” pleads the clergyman, “these
sects believed that Jesus was real, though not carnal flesh.” What
kind of flesh was he then? If by carnal the Gnostics meant
‘sensual,’ then, the apostles in denouncing them for rejecting a
carnal Jesus, must have held that Jesus was carnal or sensual. How
does the Reverend Barton like the conclusion to which his own
reasoning leads him?
IV. “It is true that there were literary fictions in the age
following the apostles.” This admission is in answer to the charge
that even in the first centuries the Christians were compelled to
resort to forgery to prove the historicity of Jesus. The doctor
admits the charge, except that he calls it by another name. The
difference between fiction and forgery is this: the former is, what
it claims to be; the latter is a lie parading as a truth. Fiction is
honest because it does not try to deceive. Forgery is dishonest
because its object is to deceive. If the Gospel was a novel, no one
would object to its mythology, but pretending to be historical, it
must square its claims with the facts, or be branded as a forgery.
V. “We may not have the precise words Jesus uttered; the portrait
may be colored; ... tradition may have had its influence; but Jesus
was real.” A most remarkable admission from a clerical! It concedes
all that higher criticism contends for. We are not sure either of
Jesus’ words or of his character, intimates the Reverend. Precisely.
In commenting on our remark that in the eighth century “Pope Hadrian
called upon the Christian world to think of Jesus as a man,” Dr.
Barton replies with considerable temper: “To date people’s right to
think of Jesus as a man from that decree is not to be characterized
by any polite term.” Our neighbor, in the first place, misquotes us
in his haste. We never presumed to deny anyone the right to think of
Jesus what he pleased, before or after the eighth century. (The
Debate, p. 28.) We were calling attention to Pope Hadrian’s order to
replace the lamb on the cross by the figure of a man. But by what
polite language is the conduct of the Christian church—which to this
day prints in its bibles “Translated from the Original Greek,” when
no original manuscripts are in existence—to be characterized?
Dr. Barton’s efforts to save his creed remind us of the Japanese
proverb: “It is no use mending the lid, if the pot be broken.”
The most remarkable clerical effort thus far, which The
Mangasarian-Crapsey Debate has called forth, is that of the Rev. E.V.
Shayler, rector of Grace Episcopal Church of Oak Park.
“In answer to your query, which I received, I beg to give the
following statement. Facts, not theories. The date of your own
letter 1908 tells what? 1908 years after what? The looking forward
of the world to Him.”
Rev. Shayler has an original way of proving the historicity of
Jesus. Every time we date our letters, suggests the clergyman, we
prove that Jesus lived. The ancient Greeks reckoned time by the
Olympiads, which fact, according to this interesting clergyman,
ought to prove that the Olympic games were instituted by the God
Heracles or Hercules, son of Zeus; the Roman Chronology began with
the building of Rome by Romulus, which by the same reasoning would
prove that Romulus and Remus, born of Mars, and nursed by a
she-wolf, are historical.
Rev. Shayler has forgotten that the Christian era was not introduced
into Europe until the sixth century, and Dionysius, the monkish
author of the era, did not compute time from the birth of Jesus, but
from the day on which the Virgin Mary met an angel from heaven. This
date prevailed in many countries until 1745. Would the date on a
letter prove that an angel appeared to Mary and hailed her as the
future Mother of God?
According to this clergyman, scientists,
instead of studying the crust of the earth and making geological
investigations to ascertain the probable age of the earth, ought to
look at the date in the margin of the bible which tells exactly the
Rev. Shayler continues:
”The places where he was born, labored and
died are still extant, and have no value apart from such testimony.”
While this is amusing, we are going to deny ourselves the pleasure
of laughing at it; we will do our best to give it a serious answer.
If the existence of such a country as Palestine proves that Jesus is
real, the existence of Switzerland must prove that William Tell is
historical; and the existence of an Athens must prove that Athene
and Apollo really lived; and from the fact that there is an England,
Rev. Shayler would prove that Robin Hood and his band really lived
The Reverend knows of another ‘fact’ which he thinks proves Jesus
without a doubt:
“A line of apostles and bishops coming right down from him by his
appointment to Anderson of Chicago,” shows that Jesus is historical.
It does, but only to Episcopalians. The Catholics and the other
sects do not believe that Anderson is a descendant of Jesus. Did the
priests of Baal or Moloch prove that these beings existed?
The Reverend has another argument:
“The Christian Church—when, why and how did it begin?”
Christian church, brother? Your own church began with Henry the
Eighth in 1534, with persecution and murder, when the king, his
hands wet with the blood of his own wives and ministers, made
himself the supreme head of the church in England. The Methodist
church began with John Wesley not much over a hundred years ago; the
Presbyterian church began with John Calvin who burned his guest on a
slow fire in Geneva about three hundred years ago; and the Lutheran
church began with Martin Luther in the sixteenth century, the man
who said over his own signature:
“It was I, Martin Luther, who slew
all the peasants in the Peasants War, for I commanded them to be
slaughtered ... But I throw the responsibility on our Lord God who
instructed me to give this order;”
...and the Roman Catholic church,
the parent of the smaller churches—all chips from the same
block—began its real career with the first Christian Emperor,
Constantine, who hanged his father-in-law, strangled his
brother-in-law, murdered his nephew, beheaded his eldest son, and
killed his wife.
Gibbon writes of Constantine that,
“the same year of
his reign in which he convened the council of Nice was polluted by
the execution, or rather murder, of his eldest son.”
But our clerical neighbor from Oak Park has one more argument:
is Sunday observed instead of Saturday?”
Well, why? Sun-day is the
day of the Sun, whose glorious existence in the lovely heavens over
our heads has never been doubted; it was the day which the Pagans
dedicated to the Sun. Sunday existed before the Jesus story was
known—the anniversary of whose supposed resurrection falls in March
one year, and in April another. If Jesus rose at all, he rose on a
certain day, and the apostles must have known the date. Why then is
there a different date every year?
Rev. Shayler concludes: “Haven’t time to go deeper now,” and he
intimates that to deny his ‘facts’ is either to be a fool or a
“liar.” We will not comment on this. We are interested in arguments,
not in epithets.
One of our Sunday programs, the other day, found its way
into a church. It went farther; it made its appearance in the
“In my hand I hold the notice of a publication bearing the title Is Jesus a Myth?” said Dr. Boyle. “This, too, just as though Paul never
This gave the clergyman a splendid opportunity to present in clear
and convincing form the evidence for the reality of Jesus. But one
thing prevented him: -- the lack of evidence.
Therefore, after announcing the subject, he dismissed it, by
remarking that Paul’s testimony was enough.
The Rev. Morton Culver Hartzell, in a letter, offers the same
argument. “Let Mr. Mangasarian first disprove Paul,” he writes. The
argument in a nutshell is this: Jesus is historical because he is
guaranteed by Paul.
But who guarantees Paul?
Aside from the fact that the Jesus of Paul is essentially a
different Jesus from the gospel Jesus there still remains the
question, Who is Paul? Let us see how much the church scholars
themselves know about Paul:
“The place and manner and occasion of his death are not less
uncertain than the facts of his later life ... The chronology of the
rest of his life is as uncertain ... We have no means of knowing
when he was born, or how long he lived, or at what dates the several
events of his life took place.”
Referring to the epistles of Paul, the same authority says:
“The chief of these preliminary questions is the genuineness of the
epistles bearing Paul’s name, which if they be his”—yes, IF—
The Christian scholar whose article on Paul is printed in the
Britannica, and from which we are now quoting, gives further
expression to this uncertainty by adding that certain of Paul’s
“have given rise to disputes which cannot easily be settled
in the absence of collateral evidence. ... The pastoral epistles ...
have given rise to still graver questions, and are probably even
Let the reader remember that the above is not from a rationalist,
but from the Rev. Edwin Hatch, D.D., Vice-Principal, St. Mary Hall,
Were we disposed to quote rationalist authorities, the argument
against Paul would be far more decisive ... But we are satisfied to
rest the case on orthodox admissions alone.
The strongest argument then of clergymen who have attempted an
answer to our position is something like this:
Jesus is historical because a man by the name of Paul says so,
though we do not know much about Paul.
It is just such evidence as the above that led Prof.
“Jesus has flown. I believe the legend of
Jesus was made
by many minds working under a great religious impulse— one man
adding a parable, another an exhortation, another a miracle
—and George Eliot to write:
“The materials for a real life of
Christ do not exist.”
In the effort to untie the Jesus-knot by Paul, the church has
increased the number of knots to two. In other words, the church has
proceeded on the theory that two uncertainties make a certainty.
We promised to square also with the facts of history our statement
that the chief concern of the church, Jewish, Christian, or
Mohammedan, is not righteousness, but orthodoxy.
Speaking in this city, Rev. W.H. Wray Boyle of Lake Forest, declared
that unbelief was responsible for the worst crimes in history. He
mentioned the placing.
• “of a nude woman on a pedestal in the city of Paris.
• “the assassination of William McKinley.
• “The same unbelief “sent a murderer down the isle of a church in
Denver to pluck the symbol of the sacrament from the hands of a
priest and slay him at the altar.”
The story of a “nude woman,” etc., is pure fiction, and that the two
murders were caused by unbelief is mere assumption. To help his
creed, the preacher resorts to fable. We shall prove our position by
I. HYPATIA [See Author’s,
The Martyrdom of Hypatia.] was dragged
into a Christian church by monks in Alexandria, and before the altar
she was stripped of her clothing and cut in pieces with oyster
shells, and murdered. Her innocent blood stained the hands of the
clergy, who also handle the Holy Sacraments.
She was murdered not by
a crazed individual but by the orders of the bishop of Alexandria.
How does the true story of Hypatia compare with the fable of “a nude
woman placed on a pedestal in the city of Paris?” The Reverend must
answer, or never tell an untruth again. Hypatia was murdered in church, and by the clergy, because she was
II. POLTROT, the Protestant, in the 16th century assassinated
Francois, the Catholic duke of Guise, in France, and the leaders of
the church, instead of disclaiming responsibility for the act,
publicly praised the assassin, and Theodore Beza, the colleague of
Calvin, promised him a crown in heaven.
(De l’etat etc, p. 82,
Quoted by Jules Simon.)
III. JAMES CLEMENT, a Catholic, assassinated
Henry III. For this act
the clergy placed his portrait on the altar in the churches between
two great lighted candle-sticks. Because he had killed a heretic
prince, the Catholics presented the assassin’s mother with a purse.
(Esprit de la Ligue I. III. p. 14.)
If it was unbelief that inspired the murder of McKinley, what
inspired the assassins of Hypatia and Henry III?
We read in the Bible that Gen. Sisera, a heathen, having lost a
battle, begged for shelter at the tent of Jael, a friendly woman,
but of the Bible faith. Jael assured the unfortunate stranger that
he was safe in her tent.
The tired warrior fell asleep from great
weariness. Then Jael picked a tent-peg and with a hammer in her hand,
“walked softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and
fastened it into the ground ... So he died.”
The BIBLE calls this assassin “blessed above women.” (Judge IV. 18,
etc.) She had killed a heretic.
In each of the instances given above, the assassin is horrified
because he committed murder in the interest of the faith. We ask
this clergyman and his colleagues who are only too anxious to charge
every act of violence to unbelief in their creeds—What about the
crimes of believers?
Without comment we recommend the following text to their attention:
“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and
then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote of thy brother’s
(Matthew VII, 5.).