Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom by Andrew Dickson White

Part 19 out of 19

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 2.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Zoroastrian, chap. xii, London, eighth edition, 1893. For the
Buddhist version of the judgment of Solomon, etc., see Fausboll,
Buddhist Birth Stories, translated by Rhys Davids, London, 1880,
vol. 1, p. 14 and following. For very full statements regarding
the influence of Persian ideas upon the Jews during the
captivity, see Kahut, Ueber die judische Angelologie und
Daemonologie in ihren Abhangigkeit vom Parsismus, Leipzig, 1866.

Even more extensive were the revelations made by scientific
criticism applied to the sacred literature of southern and
eastern Asia. The resemblances of sundry fundamental narratives
and ideas in our own sacred books with those of Buddhism were
especially suggestive.

Here, too, had been a long preparatory history. The discoveries
in Sanscrit philology made in the latter half of the eighteenth
century and the first half of the nineteenth, by Sir William
Jones, Carey, Wilkins, Foster, Colebrooke, and others, had met at
first with some opposition from theologians. The declaration by
Dugald Stewart that the discovery of Sanscrit was fraudulent, and
its vocabulary and grammar patched together out of Greek and
Latin, showed the feeling of the older race of biblical students.

But researches went on. Bopp, Burnouf, Lassen, Weber, Whitney,
Max Muller, and others continued the work during the nineteenth
century. More and more evident became the sources from which
many ideas and narratives in our own sacred books had been
developed. Studies in the sacred books of Brahmanism, and in the
institutions of Buddhism, the most widespread of all religions,
its devotees outnumbering those of all branches of the Christian
Church together, proved especially fruitful in facts relating to
general sacred literature and early European religious ideas.

Noteworthy in the progress of this knowledge was the work of
Fathers Huc and Gabet. In 1839 the former of these, a French
Lazarist priest, set out on a mission to China. Having prepared
himself at Macao by eighteen months of hard study, and having
arrayed himself like a native, even to the wearing of the queue
and the staining of his skin, he visited Peking and penetrated
Mongolia. Five years later, taking Gabet with him, both
disguised as Lamas, he began his long and toilsome journey to the
chief seats of Buddhism in Thibet, and, after two years of
fearful dangers and sufferings, accomplished it. Driven out
finally by the Chinese, Huc returned to Europe in 1852, having
made one of the most heroic, self-denying, and, as it turned out,
one of the most valuable efforts in all the noble annals of
Christian missions. His accounts of these journevs, written in a
style simple, clear, and interesting, at once attracted attention
throughout the world. But far more important than any services
he had rendered to the Church he served was the influence of his
book upon the general opinions of thinking men; for he completed
a series of revelations made by earlier, less gifted, and less
devoted travellers, and brought to the notice of the world the
amazing similarity of the ideas, institutions, observances,
ceremonies, and ritual, and even the ecclesiastical costumes of
the Buddhists to those of his own Church.

Buddhism was thus shown with its hierarchy, in which the Grand
Lama, an infallible representative of the Most High, is
surrounded by its minor Lamas, much like cardinals; with its
bishops wearing mitres, its celibate priests with shaven crown,
cope, dalmatic, and censer; its cathedrals with clergy gathered
in the choir; its vast monasteries filled with monks and nuns
vowed to poverty, chastity, and obedience; its church
arrangements, with shrines of saints and angels; its use of
images, pictures, and illuminated missals; its service, with a
striking general resemblance to the Mass; antiphonal choirs;
intoning of prayers; recital of creeds; repetition of litanies;
processions; mystic rites and incense; the offering and adoration
of bread upon an altar lighted by candles; the drinking from a
chalice by the priest; prayers and offerings for the dead;
benediction with outstretched hands; fasts, confessions, and
doctrine of purgatory--all this and more was now clearly
revealed. The good father was evidently staggered by these
amazing facts; but his robust faith soon gave him an explanation:
he suggested that Satan, in anticipation of Christianity, had
revealed to Buddhism this divinely constituted order of things.
This naive explanation did not commend itself to his superiors in
the Roman Church. In the days of St. Augustine or of St. Thomas
Aquinas it would doubtless have been received much more kindly;
but in the days of Cardinal Antonelli this was hardly to be
expected: the Roman authorities, seeing the danger of such plain
revelations in the nineteenth century, even when coupled with
such devout explanations, put the book under the ban, though not
before it had been spread throughout the world in various
translations. Father Huc was sent on no more missions.

Yet there came even more significant discoveries, especially
bearing upon the claims of that great branch of the Church which
supposes itself to possess a divine safeguard against error in
belief. For now was brought to light by literary research the
irrefragable evidence that the great Buddha--Sakya Muni
himself--had been canonized and enrolled among the Christian
saints whose intercession may be invoked, and in whose honour
images, altars, and chapels may be erected; and this, not only by
the usage of the medieval Church, Greek and Roman, but by the
special and infallible sanction of a long series of popes, from
the end of the sixteenth century to the end of the nineteenth--a
sanction granted under one of the most curious errors in human
history. The story enables us to understand the way in which
many of the beliefs of Christendom have been developed,
especially how they have been influenced from the seats of older
religions; and it throws much light into the character and
exercise of papal infallibility.

Early in the seventh century there was composed, as is now
believed, at the Convent of St. Saba near Jerusalem, a pious
romance entitled Barlaam and Josaphat--the latter personage, the
hero of the story, being represented as a Hindu prince converted
to Christianity by the former.

This story, having been attributed to St. John of Damascus in the
following century became amazingly popular, and was soon accepted
as true: it was translated from the Greek original not only into
Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, and Ethiopic, but into every important
European language, including even Polish, Bohemian, and
Icelandic. Thence it came into the pious historical
encyclopaedia of Vincent of Beauvais, and, most important of all,
into the Lives of the Saints.

Hence the name of its pious hero found its way into the list of
saints whose intercession is to be prayed for, and it passed
without challenge until about 1590, when, the general subject of
canonization having been brought up at Rome, Pope Sixtus V, by
virtue of his infallibility and immunity against error in
everything relating to faith and morals, sanctioned a revised
list of saints, authorizing and directing it to be accepted by
the Church; and among those on whom he thus forever infallibly
set the seal of Heaven was included "The Holy Saint Josaphat of
India, whose wonderful acts St. John of Damascus has related."
The 27th of November was appointed as the day set apart in honour
of this saint, and the decree, having been enforced by successive
popes for over two hundred and fifty years, was again officially
approved by Pius IX in 1873. This decree was duly accepted as
infallible, and in one of the largest cities of Italy may to-day
be seen a Christian church dedicated to this saint. On its front
are the initials of his Italianized name; over its main entrance
is the inscription "Divo Josafat"; and within it is an altar
dedicated to the saint--above this being a pedestal bearing his
name and supporting a large statue which represents him as a
youthful prince wearing a crown and contemplating a crucifix.

Moreover, relics of this saint were found; bones alleged to be
parts of his skeleton, having been presented by a Doge of Venice
to a King of Portugal, are now treasured at Antwerp.

But even as early as the sixteenth century a pregnant fact
regarding this whole legend was noted: for the Portuguese
historian Diego Conto showed that it was identical with the
legend of Buddha. Fortunately for the historian, his faith was
so robust that he saw in this resemblance only a trick of Satan;
the life of Buddha being, in his opinion, merely a diabolic
counterfeit of the life of Josaphat centuries before the latter
was lived or written--just as good Abbe Huc saw in the ceremonies
of Buddhism a similar anticipatory counterfeit of Christian

There the whole matter virtually rested for about three hundred
years--various scholars calling attention to the legend as a
curiosity, but none really showing its true bearings--until, in
1859, Laboulaye in France, Liebrecht in Germany, and others
following them, demonstrated that this Christian work was drawn
almost literally from an early biography of Buddha, being
conformed to it in the most minute details, not only of events
but of phraseology; the only important changes being that, at the
end of the various experiences showing the wretchedness of the
world, identical with those ascribed in the original to the young
Prince Buddha, the hero, instead of becoming a hermit, becomes a
Christian, and that for the appellation of Buddha-- "Bodisat"--is
substituted the more scriptural name Josaphat.

Thus it was that, by virtue of the infallibility vouchsafed to
the papacy in matters of faith and morals, Buddha became a
Christian saint.

Yet these were by no means the most pregnant revelations. As
the Buddhist scriptures were more fully examined, there were
disclosed interesting anticipations of statements in later sacred
books. The miraculous conception of Buddha and his virgin
birth, like that of Horus in Egypt and of Krishna in India; the
previous annunciation to his mother Maja; his birth during a
journey by her; the star appearing in the east, and the angels
chanting in the heavens at his birth; his temptation--all these
and a multitude of other statements were full of suggestions to
larger thought regarding the development of sacred literature in
general. Even the eminent Roman Catholic missionary Bishop
Bigandet was obliged to confess, in his scholarly life of Buddha,
these striking similarities between the Buddhist scriptures and
those which it was his mission to expound, though by this honest
statement his own further promotion was rendered impossible.
Fausboll also found the story of the judgment of Solomon imbedded
in Buddhist folklore; and Sir Edwin Arnold, by his poem, The
Light of Asia, spread far and wide a knowledge of the
anticipation in Buddhism of some ideas which down to a recent
period were considered distinctively Christian. Imperfect as
the revelations thus made of an evolution of religious beliefs,
institutions, and literature still are, they have not been
without an important bearing upon the newer conception of our own
sacred books: more and more manifest has become the
interdependence of all human development; more and more clear the
truth that Christianity, as a great fact in man's history, is not
dependent for its life upon any parasitic growths of myth and
legend, no matter how beautiful they may be.[498]

[498] For Huc and Gabet, see Souvenirs d'un Voyage dans la
Tartarie, le Thibet, et la Chine, English translation by Hazlitt,
London, 1851; also supplementary work by Huc. For Bishop
Bigandet, see his Life of Buddha, passim. As for authority for
the fact that his book was condemned at Rome and his own
promotion prevented, the present writer has the bishop's own
statement. For notices of similarities between Buddhist and
Christian institutions, rituals, etc., see Rhys David's Buddhism,
London, 1894, passim; also Lillie, Buddhism and Christianity,
especially chaps. ii and xi. It is somewhat difficult to
understand how a scholar so eminent as Mr. Rhys Davids should
have allowed the Society for the Promotion of Christian
Knowledge, which published his book, to eliminate all the
interesting details regarding the birth of Buddha, and to give so
fully everything that seemed to tell against the Roman Catholic
Church; cf. p. 27 with p. 246 et seq. For more thorough
presentation of the development of features in Buddhism and
Brahmanism which anticipate those of Chrisitianity, see
Schroeder, Indiens Literatur und Cultur, Leipsic, 1887,
especially Vorlesung XXVIII and following. For full details of
the canonization of Buddha under the name of St. Josaphat, see
Fausboll, Buddhist Birth Stories, translated by Rhys Davids,
London, 1880, pp. xxxvi and following; also Prof. Max Muller in
the Contemporary Review for July, 1890; also the article Barlaam
and Josaphat, in the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia
Britannica. For the more recent and full accounts, correcting
some minor details in the foregoing authorities, see Kuhn,
Barlaam und Joasaph, Munich, 1893, especially pages 82, 83. For
a very thorough discussion of the whole subject, see Zotenberg,
Notice sur le livre de Barlaam et Joasaph, Paris, 1886;
especially for arguments fixing date of the work, see parts i to
iii; also Gaston Paris in the Revue de Paris for June, 1895. For
the transliteration between the appelation of Buddha and the name
of the saint, see Fausboll and Sayce, as above, p. xxxvii, note;
and for the multitude of translations of the work ascribed to St.
John of Damascus, see Table III, on p. xcv. The reader who is
curious to trace up a multitude of the myths and legends of early
Hebrew and Christian mythology to their more eastern and southern
sources can do so in Bible Myths, New York, 1883. The present
writer gladly avails himself of the opportunity to thank the
learned Director of the National Library at Palermo, Monsignor
Marzo, for his kindness in showing him the very interesting
church of San Giosafat in that city; and to the custodians of the
church for their readiness to allow photographs of the saint to
be taken. The writer's visit was made in April, 1895, and copies
of the photographs may be seen in the library of Cornell
University. As to the more rare editions of Barlaam and
Josaphat, a copy of the Icelandic translation is to be seen in
the remrkable collection of Prof. Willard Fiske, at Florence. As
to the influence of these translations, it may be noted that when
young John Kuncewicz, afterward a Polish archbishop, became a
monk, he took the name of the sainted Prince Josafat; and, having
fallen a victim to one of the innumerable murderous affrays of
the seventeenth century between different sorts of fanatics--
Greek, Catholic, and Protestant--in Poland, he also was finally
canonized under that name, evidently as a means of annoying the
Russian Government. (See Contieri, Vita di S. Giosafat, Arcivesco
e Martira Rutena, Roma, 1867.)

No less important was the closer research into the New Testament
during the latter part of the nineteenth century. To go into the
subject in detail would be beyond the scope of this work, but a
few of the main truths which it brought before the world may be
here summarized.[499]

[499] For a brief but thorough statement of the work of Strauss,
Baur, and the earlier cruder efforts in New Testament exegesis,
see Pfleiderer, as already cited, book ii, chap. i; and for the
later work on Supernatural Religion and Lightfoot's answer,
ibid., book iv. chap. ii.

By the new race of Christian scholars it has been clearly shown
that the first three Gospels, which, down to the close of the
last century, were so constantly declared to be three independent
testimonies agreeing as to the events recorded, are neither
independent of each other nor in that sort of agreement which was
formerly asserted. All biblical scholars of any standing, even
the most conservative, have come to admit that all three took
their rise in the same original sources, growing by the
accretions sure to come as time went on--accretions sometimes
useful and often beautiful, but in no inconsiderable degree ideas
and even narratives inherited from older religions: it is also
fully acknowledged that to this growth process are due certain
contradictions which can not otherwise be explained. As to the
fourth Gospel, exquisitely beautiful as large portions of it are,
there has been growing steadily and irresistibly the conviction,
even among the most devout scholars, that it has no right to the
name, and does not really give the ideas of St. John, but that it
represents a mixture of Greek philosophy with Jewish theology,
and that its final form, which one of the most eminent among
recent Christian scholars has characterized as "an unhistorical
product of abstract reflection," is mainly due to some gifted
representative or representatives of the Alexandrian school.
Bitter as the resistance to this view has been, it has during the
last years of the nineteenth century won its way more and more to
acknowledgment. A careful examination made in 1893 by a
competent Christian scholar showed facts which are best given in
his own words, as follows: "In the period of thirty years ending
in 1860, of the fifty great authorities in this line, FOUR TO ONE
were in favour of the Johannine authorship. Of those who in
that period had advocated this traditional position, one
quarter--and certainly the very greatest--finally changed their
position to the side of a late date and non-Johannine authorship.

Of those who have come into this field of scholarship since
about 1860, some forty men of the first class, two thirds reject
the traditional theory wholly or very largely. Of those who have
contributed important articles to the discussion from about 1880
to 1890, about TWO TO ONE reject the Johannine authorship of the
Gospel in its present shape--that is to say, while forty years
ago great scholars were FOUR TO ONE IN FAVOUR OF, they are now
TWO TO ONE AGAINST, the claim that the apostle John wrote this
Gospel as we have it. Again, one half of those on the
conservative side to-day--scholars like Weiss, Beyschlag, Sanday,
and Reynolds--admit the existence of a dogmatic intent and an
ideal element in this Gospel, so that we do not have Jesus's
thought in his exact words, but only in substance."[500]

[500] For the citations given regarding the development of
thought in relation to the fourth gospel, see Crooker, The New
Bible and its Uses, Boston, 1893, pp. 29, 30. For the
characterization of St. John's Gospel above referred to, see
Robertson Smith in the Encyc. Brit., 9th edit., art. Bible, p.
642. For a very careful and candid summary of the reasons which
are gradually leading the more eminent among the newer scholars
to give up the Johannine authorship ot the fourth Gospel, see
Schurer, in the Contemporary Review for September, 1891.
American readers, regarding this and the whole series of
subjects of which this forms a part, may most profitably study
the Rev. Dr. Cone's Gospel Criticism and Historic Christianity,
one of the most lucid and judicial of recent works in this field.

In 1881 came an event of great importance as regards the
development of a more frank and open dealing with scriptural
criticism. In that year appeared the Revised Version of the New
Testament. It was exceedingly cautious and conservative; but it
had the vast merit of being absolutely conscientious. One thing
showed, in a striking way, ethical progress in theological
methods. Although all but one of the English revisers
represented Trinitarian bodies, they rejected the two great proof
texts which had so long been accounted essential bulwarks of
Trinitarian doctrine. Thus disappeared at last from the Epistle
of St. John the text of the Three Witnesses, which had for
centuries held its place in spite of its absence from all the
earlier important manuscripts, and of its rejection in later
times by Erasmus, Luther, Isaac Newton, Porson, and a long line
of the greatest biblical scholars. And with this was thrown out
the other like unto it in spurious origin and zealous intent,
that interpolation of the word "God" in the sixteenth verse of
the third chapter of the First Epistle to Timothy, which had for
ages served as a warrant for condemning some of the noblest of
Christians, even such men as Newton and Milton and Locke and
Priestley and Channing.

Indeed, so honest were the revisers that they substituted the
correct reading of Luke ii, 33, in place of the time-honoured
corruption in the King James version which had been thought
necessary to safeguard the dogma of the virgin birth of Jesus of
Nazareth. Thus came the true reading, "His FATHER and his
mother" instead of the old piously fraudulent words "JOSEPH and
his mother."

An even more important service to the new and better growth of
Christianity was the virtual setting aside of the last twelve
verses of the Gospel according to St. Mark; for among these
stood that sentence which has cost the world more innocent blood
than any other--the words "He that believeth not shall be
damned." From this source had logically grown the idea that the
intellectual rejection of this or that dogma which dominant
theology had happened at any given time to pronounce essential,
since such rejection must bring punishment infinite in agony and
duration, is a crime to be prevented at any cost of finite
cruelty. Still another service rendered to humanity by the
revisers was in substituting a new and correct rendering for the
old reading of the famous text regarding the inspiration of
Scripture, which had for ages done so much to make our sacred
books a fetich. By this more correct reading the revisers gave a
new charter to liberty in biblical research.[501]

[501] The texts referred to as most beneficially changed by the
revisers are I John v, 7 and I Timothy iii, 16. Mention may also
be made of the fact that the American revision gave up the
Trinitarian version of Romans ix, 5, and that even their more
conservative British brethren, while leaving it in the text,
discredited it in the margin.

Though revisers thought it better not to suppress altogether the
last twelve verses of St. Mark's Gospel, they softened the word
"damned' to "condemned," and separated them from the main Gospel,
adding a note stating that "the two oldest Greek manuscripts, and
some other authorities, omit from verse nine to the end"; and
that "some other authorities have a different ending to this

The resistance of staunch high churchmen of the older type even
to so mild a reform as the first change above noted may be
exemplified by a story told of Philpotts, Bishop of Exeter, about
the middle of the nineteenth century. A kindly clergyman reading
an invitation to the holy communion, and thinking that so an
affectionate a call was difigured by the harsh phrase "eateth and
drinketh to his own damnation," ventured timidly to substitute
the word "condemnation." Thereupon the bishop, who was kneeling
with the rest of the congregation, threw up his head and roared
"DAMNATION!" The story is given in T. A. Trollope's What I
Remember, vol. i, p. 444. American churchmen may well rejoice
that the fathers of the American branch of the Anglican Church
were wise enough and Christian enough to omit from their Prayer
Book this damnatory clause, as well as the Commination Service
and the Athanasian Creed.

Most valuable, too, have been studies during the latter part of
the nineteenth century upon the formation of the canon of
Scripture. The result of these has been to substitute something
far better for that conception of our biblical literature, as
forming one book handed out of the clouds by the Almighty, which
had been so long practically the accepted view among probably the
majority of Christians. Reverent scholars have demonstrated our
sacred literature to be a growth in obedience to simple laws
natural and historical; they have shown how some books of the Old
Testament were accepted as sacred, centuries before our era, and
how others gradually gained sanctity, in some cases only fully
acquiring it long after the establishment of the Christian
Church. The same slow growth has also been shown in the New
Testament canon. It has been demonstrated that the selection of
the books composing it, and their separation from the vast mass
of spurious gospels, epistles, and apocalytic literature was a
gradual process, and, indeed, that the rejection of some books
and the acceptance of others was accidental, if anything is

So, too, scientific biblical research has, as we have seen, been
obliged to admit the existence of much mythical and legendary
matter, as a setting for the great truths not only of the Old
Testament but of the New. It has also shown, by the comparative
study of literatures, the process by which some books were
compiled and recompiled, adorned with beautiful utterances,
strengthened or weakened by alterations and interpolations
expressing the views of the possessors or transcribers, and
attributed to personages who could not possibly have written
them. The presentation of these things has greatly weakened that
sway of mere dogma which has so obscured the simple teachings of
Christ himself; for it has shown that the more we know of our
sacred books, the less certain we become as to the authenticity
of "proof texts," and it has disengaged more and more, as the
only valuable residuum, like the mass of gold at the bottom of
the crucible, the personality, spirit, teaching, and ideals of
the blessed Founder of Christianity. More and more, too, the
new scholarship has developed the conception of the New Testament
as, like the Old, the growth of literature in obedience to law--a
conception which in al probability will give it its strongest
hold on the coming centuries. In making this revelation
Christian scholarship has by no means done work mainly
destructive. It has, indeed, swept away a mass of noxious
growths, but it has at the same time cleared the ground for a
better growth of Christianity--a growth through which already
pulsates the current of a nobler life. It has forever destroyed
the contention of scholars like those of the eighteenth century
who saw, in the multitude of irreconcilable discrepancies between
various biblical statements, merely evidences of priestcraft and
intentional fraud. The new scholarship has shown that even such
absolute contradictions as those between the accounts of the
early life of Jesus by Matthew and Luke, and between the date of
the crucifixion and details of the resurrection in the first
three Gospels and in the fourth, and other discrepancies hardly
less serious, do not destroy the historical character of the
narrative. Even the hopelessly conflicting genealogies of the
Saviour and the evidently mythical accretions about the simple
facts of his birth and life are thus full of interest when taken
as a natural literary development in obedience to the deepest
religious feeling.[502]

[502] Among the newer English works of the canon of Scripture,
especially as regards the Old Testament, see Ryle in work cited.
As to the evidences of frequent mutilations of the New Testament
text, as well as of frequent charge of changing texts made
against each other by early Christian writers, see Reuss, History
of the New Testament, vol. ii, S 362. For a reverant and honest
treatment of some of the discrepancies and contradictions which
are absolutely irreconcilable, see Crooker, as above, appendix;
also Cone, Gospel Criticism and Historic Christianity, especially
chap. ii; also Matthew Arnold, Literature and Dogma, and God and
the Bible, especially chap. vi; and for a brief but full showing
of them in a judicial and kindly spirit, see Laing, Problems of
the Future, chap. ix, on The Historical Element in the Gospels.

Among those who have wrought most effectively to bring the
leaders of thought in the English-speaking nations to this higher
conception, Matthew Arnold should not be forgotten. By poetic
insight, broad scholarship, pungent statement, pithy argument,
and an exquisitely lucid style, he aided effectually during the
latter half of the nineteenth century in bringing the work of
specialists to bear upon the development of a broader and deeper
view. In the light of his genius a conception of our sacred
books at the same time more literary as well as more scientific
has grown widely and vigorously, while the older view which made
of them a fetich and a support for unchristian dogmas has been
more and more thrown into the background. The contributions to
these results by the most eminent professors at the great
Christian universities of the English-speaking world, Oxford and
Cambridge taking the lead, are most hopeful signs of a new epoch.

Very significant also is a change in the style of argument
against the scientific view. Leading supporters of the older
opinions see more and more clearly the worthlessness of rhetoric
against ascertained fact: mere dogged resistance to cogent
argument evidently avails less and less; and the readiness of the
more prominent representatives of the older thought to consider
opposing arguments, and to acknowledge any force they may have,
is certainly of good omen. The concessions made in Lux Mundi
regarding scriptural myths and legends have been already

Significant also has been the increasing reprobation in the
Church itself of the profound though doubtless unwitting
immoralities of RECONCILERS. The castigation which followed the
exploits of the greatest of these in our own time--Mr. Gladstone,
at the hands of Prof. Huxley--did much to complete a work in
which such eminent churchmen as Stanley, Farrar, Sanday, Cheyne,
Driver, and Sayce had rendered good service.

Typical among these evidences of a better spirit in controversy
has been the treatment of the question regarding mistaken
quotations from the Old Testament in the New, and especially
regarding quotations by Christ himself. For a time this was
apparently the most difficult of all matters dividing the two
forces; but though here and there appear champions of tradition,
like the Bishop of Gloucester, effectual resistance to the new
view has virtually ceased; in one way or another the most
conservative authorities have accepted the undoubted truth
revealed by a simple scientific method. Their arguments have
indeed been varied. While some have fallen back upon Le Clerc's
contention that "Christ did not come to teach criticism to the
Jews," and others upon Paley's argument that the Master shaped
his statements in accordance with the ideas of his time, others
have taken refuge in scholastic statements--among them that of
Irenaeus regarding "a quiescence of the divine word," or the
somewhat startling explanation by sundry recent theologians that
"our Lord emptied himself of his Godhead."[504]

[504] For Matthew Arnold, see, besides his Literature and Dogma,
his St. Paul and Protestantism. As to the quotations in the New
Testament from the Old, see Toy, Quotations in the New Testament,
1889, p. 72; also Kuenen, The Prophets and Prophecy in Israel.
For Le Clerc's method of dealing with the argument regarding
quotations from the Old Testament in the New, see earlier parts
of the present chapter. For Paley's mode, see his Evidences,
part iii, chapter iii. For the more scholastic expresssions from
Irenaeus and others, see Gore, Bampton Lectures, 1891, especially
note on p. 267. For a striking passage on the general subject
see B. W. Bacon, Genesis of Genesis, p. 33, ending with the
words, "We must decline to stake the authority of Jesus Christ on
a question of literary criticism."

Nor should there be omitted a tribute to the increasing courtesy
shown in late years by leading supporters of the older view.
During the last two decades of the present century there has been
a most happy departure from the older method of resistance, first
by plausibilities, next by epithets, and finally by persecution.
To the bitterness of the attacks upon Darwin, the Essayists and
Reviewers, and Bishop Colenso, have succeeded, among really
eminent leaders, a far better method and tone. While Matthew
Arnold no doubt did much in commending "sweet reasonableness" to
theological controversialists, Mr. Gladstone, by his perfect
courtesy to his opponents, even when smarting under their
heaviest blows, has set a most valuable example. Nor should the
spirit shown by Bishop Ellicott, leading a forlorn hope for the
traditional view, pass without a tribute of respect. Truly
pathetic is it to see this venerable and learned prelate, one of
the most eminent representatives of the older biblical research,
even when giving solemn warnings against the newer criticisms,
and under all the temptations of ex cathedra utterance, remaining
mild and gentle and just in the treatment of adversaries whose
ideas he evidently abhors. Happily, he is comforted by the faith
that Christianitv will survive; and this faith his opponents
fully share.[505]

[505] As an example of courtesy between theologic opponents may
be cited the controversy between Mr. Gladstone and Prof. Huxley,
Principal Gore's Bampton Lectures for 1891, and Bishop Ellicott's
Charges, published in 1893.

To the fact that the suppression of personal convictions among
"the enlightened" did not cease with the Medicean popes there are
many testimonies. One especially curious was mentioned to the
present writer by a most honoured diplomatist and scholar at
Rome. While this gentleman was looking over the books of an
eminent cardinal, recently deceased, he noticed a series of
octavos bearing on their backs the title "Acta Apostolorum."
Surprised at such an extension of the Acts of Apostles, he opened
a volume and found the series to be the works of Voltaire. As to
a similar condition of things in the Church of England may be
cited the following from Froude's Erasmus: "I knew various
persons of high reputation a few years ago who thought at the
bottom very much as Bishop Colenso thought, who nevertheless
turned and rent himto clear their own reputations--which they did
not succeed in doing." See work cited, close of Lecture XI.


For all this dissolving away of traditional opinions regarding
our sacred literature, there has been a cause far more general
and powerful than any which has been given, for it is a cause
surrounding and permeating all. This is simply the atmosphere of
thought engendered by the development of all sciences during the
last three centuries.

Vast masses of myth, legend, marvel, and dogmatic assertion,
coming into this atmosphere, have been dissolved and are now
dissolving quietly away like icebergs drifted into the Gulf
Stream. In earlier days, when some critic in advance of his
time insisted that Moses could not have written an account
embracing the circumstances of his own death, it was sufficient
to answer that Moses was a prophet; if attention was called to
the fact that the great early prophets, by all which they did and
did not do, showed that there could not have existed in their
time any "Levitical code," a sufficient answer was "mystery"; and
if the discrepancy was noted between the two accounts of creation
in Genesis, or between the genealogies or the dates of the
crucifixion in the Gospels, the cogent reply was "infidelity."
But the thinking world has at last been borne by the general
development of a scientific atmosphere beyond that kind of

If, in the atmosphere generated by the earlier developed
sciences, the older growths of biblical interpretation have
drooped and withered and are evidently perishing, new and better
growths have arisen with roots running down into the newer
sciences. Comparative Anthropology in general, by showing that
various early stages of belief and observance, once supposed to
be derived from direct revelation from heaven to the Hebrews, are
still found as arrested developments among various savage and
barbarous tribes; Comparative Mythology and Folklore, by showing
that ideas and beliefs regarding the Supreme Power in the
universe are progressive, and not less in Judea than in other
parts of the world; Comparative Religion and Literature, by
searching out and laying side by side those main facts in the
upward struggle of humanity which show that the Israelites, like
other gifted peoples, rose gradually, through ghost worship,
fetichism, and polytheism, to higher theological levels; and
that, as they thus rose, their conceptions and statements
regarding the God they worshipped became nobler and better--all
these sciences are giving a new solution to those problems which
dogmatic theology has so long laboured in vain to solve. While
researches in these sciences have established the fact that
accounts formerly supposed to be special revelations to Jews and
Christians are but repetitions of widespread legends dating from
far earlier civilizations, and that beliefs formerly thought
fundamental to Judaism and Christianity are simply based on
ancient myths, they have also begun to impress upon the intellect
and conscience of the thinking world the fact that the religious
and moral truths thus disengaged from the old masses of myth and
legend are all the more venerable and authoritative, and that all
individual or national life of any value must be vitalized by

[506] For plaintive lamentations over the influence of this
atmosphere of scientific thought upon the most eminent
contemporary Christian scholars, see the Christus Comprobator, by
the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, London, 1893, and the
article in the Contemporary Review for May, 1892, by the Bishop
of Colchester, passim. For some less known examples of sacred
myths and legends inherited from ancient civilizations, see
Lenormant, Les Origines de l'Histoire, passim, but especially
chaps. ii, iv, v, vi; see also Goldziher.

If, then, modern science in general has acted powerfully to
dissolve away the theories and dogmas of the older theologic
interpretation, it has also been active in a reconstruction and
recrystallization of truth; and very powerful in this
reconstruction have been the evolution doctrines which have grown
out of the thought and work of men like Darwin and Spencer.

In the light thus obtained the sacred text has been transformed:
out of the old chaos has come order; out of the old welter of
hopelessly conflicting statements in religion and morals has
come, in obedience to this new conception of development, the
idea of a sacred literature which mirrors the most striking
evolution of morals and religion in the history of our race. Of
all the sacred writings of the world, it shows us our own as the
most beautiful and the most precious; exhibiting to us the most
complete religious development to which humanity has attained,
and holding before us the loftiest ideals which our race has
known. Thus it is that, with the keys furnished by this new
race of biblical scholars, the way has been opened to treasures
of thought which have been inaccessible to theologians for two
thousand years.

As to the Divine Power in the universe: these interpreters have
shown how, beginning with the tribal god of the Hebrews--one
among many jealous, fitful, unseen, local sovereigns of Asia
Minor--the higher races have been borne on to the idea of the
just Ruler of the whole earth, as revealed by the later and
greater prophets of Israel, and finally to the belief in the
Universal Father, as best revealed in the New Testament. As to
man: beginning with men after Jehovah's own heart--cruel,
treacherous, revengeful--we are borne on to an ideal of men who
do right for right's sake; who search and speak the truth for
truth's sake; who love others as themselves. As to the world at
large: the races dominant in religion and morals have been lifted
from the idea of a "chosen people" stimulated and abetted by
their tribal god in every sort of cruelty and injustice, to the
conception of a vast community in which the fatherhood of God
overarches all, and the brotherhood of man permeates all.

Thus, at last, out of the old conception of our Bible as a
collection of oracles--a mass of entangling utterances, fruitful
in wrangling interpretations, which have given to the world long
and weary ages of "hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness"; of
fetichism, subtlety, and pomp; of tyranny bloodshed, and solemnly
constituted imposture; of everything which the Lord Jesus Christ
most abhorred--has been gradually developed through the
centuries, by the labours, sacrifices, and even the martyrdom of
a long succession of men of God, the conception of it as a sacred
literature--a growth only possible under that divine light which
the various orbs of science have done so much to bring into the
mind and heart and soul of man--a revelation, not of the Fall of
Man, but of the Ascent of Man--an exposition, not of temporary
dogmas and observances, but of the Eternal Law of
Righteousness--the one upward path for individuals and for
nations. No longer an oracle, good for the "lower orders" to
accept, but to be quietly sneered at by "the enlightened"--no
longer a fetich, whose defenders must be persecuters, or
reconcilers, or "apologists"; but a most fruitful fact, which
religion and science may accept as a source of strength to both.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest