LINEAGE OF CHRIST
The two most important points of doctrine are a correct understanding of God and Jesus. “3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (Jesus, John 17) Jesus will soon return “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” (2 Thess. 1:8, 9)
Without divine authority in the priesthood, none can enter the Kingdom of God. Without the Spirit of Revelation, no one can even have a correct understanding of God and Jesus. Even the Apostle Peter could only know Jesus except by the Rock of Revelation. “15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock [of revelation] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16) Peter was crucified upside down in Rome. “And I [John] fell at his [the angel of God] feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY.” (Rev. 19:10)
In 324 AD, unbaptized, pagan Roman Emperor Constantine—holding only the sword of Rome and no authority from God—changed the identity of God and Jesus to popular pagan beliefs. He changed the identity of the true God of Israel to the pagan god of Rome—the Trinity. He changed the true identity of Jesus to the pagan doctrine of a demigod. The Bible refutes both of these pagan doctrines.
The latter day prophet James J. Strang—through the Spirit or Rock of Revelation–provided the correct understanding of God and Jesus. The True God is presented in other pages of this web site. This page will present the true identity of Jesus. In order for Jesus to be the Messiah, He had to be of the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, and the House of David—according to the flesh. The seed of man is carried only through the male line. The pagan doctrine of the Virgin Birth makes Jesus the bastard son of a ghost.
“Therefore being a prophet [David], and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, ACCORDING TO THE FLESH, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.” (Acts 2:30) “17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made LIKE UNTO HIS BRETHREN that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” (Heb. 2:17)
EXTRACT OF A LETTER.
One thing I wish to inquire. The arguments and discussions have interested me much. But in the Catholic discussion towards the close respecting the birth of our Lord and Savior I own I was much shocked at the evident departure from the testimony of scripture–testimony abundantly scattered in the Old and New Testament, and from which I should not dare depart, let common sense say what it might. I think if common sense had been sufficient, what need of revelation? I can sea no way to reconcile or explain satisfactorily or do away all this mass of evidence unless it is done by the new translations. And that I can hardly suppose, or I think I should have heard of it before.”
Now, let us hear the truth about the Lineage of Christ from the latter day prophet James J. Strang.
ANSWER.–You will readily perceive that Luke i. 55 proves only that Mary was of the seed of ABRAHAM. Not that she was of the seed of Judah, much less of the house of David. All Israel were of the seed of Abraham; only one tribe of Judah, and a small part of that tribe of David. As for her going up to the city of David to be taxed, it proves merely that her husband was of the house of David. Certainly you will not assume that the husband would be taxed in one place and the wife in another, because they happened to be of different lineages. We are told expressly that they went to the city of David because Joseph was of his lineage. Luke ii. 4. As for Jesus claiming God as his father, Luke ii. 49, it is no more than we all do as often as we say, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” In the verse immediately preceding Mary calls HER husband HIS father, and at the 41st verse Luke tells us that his (Christ’s) parents went to Jerusalem to the feast of the passover.
If there is testimony abundantly found in the Old Testament to show that Christ had not a father after the flesh, as well as a mother, we should like to be informed where it can be found. We know of none such. Nor shall we plead guilty to the charge of “departing from scripture testimony ” on the subject of the lineage of Christ in any sense. So far from it, we have entrenched ourselves behind an overwhelming array of scripture testimony. In the Herald No. 35 we gave eleven distinct prophecies showing that the Messiah should come of the house of David. 2 Sam. vii. Ps. lxxxix. cxxxii. Isa. xi. ix. 6, 7. lv. Ezek. xxxiv. Jer. xxxiii. Zech. xii. xiii. Luke is 31 to 33. And in No. 3G thirteen different testimonies that he did thus come. Testimonies of himself, Rev. xxii. 16; his apostles, Acts xiii. 22, 23. Rom. i. 1, 3. 2 Tim. ii. 8. Matt. i, 1. Heb. vii. 14; those to whom he ministered, Matt. ix. 27. xx. 30, xii. 23; the multitude, Matt. xxi. 9; his enemies, John vii, 42; and a witness in heaven, Rev. v. 5.
How any one can read these scriptures, especially in the order in which we arrayed them in responding to Mr. Rafferty, and then charge us with departing from the testimony of the scriptures; we are utterly at a loss to understand. In our answer to Mr. Rafferty we had a perfect right to rest our cause here. To him we were under no obligations to answer for any apparent discrepancy in the scriptures on this subject. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has not been the keeper of the scriptures from the times when they were written down till its origin. We are not responsible for MISTAKES in COPYING, ERRORS in TRANSLATING, WILLFUL or ACCIDENTAL INTERPOLATIONS or OMISSIONS. No priesthood set in the church by authority of God has ever determined the canon of either Jewish or christian scriptures since. Much less has any such authority corrected the errors which many centuries have heaped up in them. Three thousand variations are now noted in the ancient copies from which translations are made, and standard editions printed. And neither Catholics or Protestants acknowledge any power on earth to correct these errors and discrepancies. The doctrine of the prophets and apostles from beginning to end is, that Christ came of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Judah, and of the house of David. This doctrine is interwoven into the Bible from beginning to end. Blot it out from the book and there would not be a skeleton of either Judaism or christianity remaining. But the doctrine that Joseph was not the father of Jesus is found in but a single passage of the entire scripture. The first chapter of Matthew, from the 18th verse to the end, is the sole testimony on that side of the question. Solitary and alone it stands out against not only the 24 testimonies above quoted, but many hundred more which might be mentioned. If space would admit it is an easy task to show at what age of the world the interpolation was made, and for what purpose; but as this matter was called up in a discussion with the Catholics, who established the canon of scripture, it belongs to them, not us, to settle those questions. If they have not preserved the scriptures in purity let them answer for the contradictions they have produced. More we would say, but we shall necessarily recur to the subject hereafter, and prefer to discuss the question first with the Catholics, and to answer the further questions of the saints afterwards.
(Gospel Herald, Vol. 2, Feb. 17, 1848)
LINEAGE OF CHRIST.
Above we publish two communications on the lineage of Christ; but containing substantially the same arguments, one written on two brief pages while the other is spun out in twelve. The points of Bro. Briggs’ are skillfully taken, modestly and plainly stated, and ably defended. We are satisfied that he has made the most of the side to which he inclines, and if he can he successfully answered no one need go over the ground again. We like such communications, even though not conforming to our own ideas, because we like to have the very best that can be said, and then we like that a man should know enough to stop. As this was sent in more as an inquiry than an attack, it is in every sense proper. But of the communication which John Gaylord has sent us (commenced in the last No.) the best we can say is, that what it lacks in sense it makes up in words. In a controversy with a church embracing in its communion one fourth of the human race, carried on under the eyes of many of the ablest bishops and prelates on the continent, in the strength of God’s truth Pres. Strang ventured to attack them on the fundamental article of their creed, in which they had maintained an unchanging unity of faith for thirteen hundred years; and pausing for a reply, like sheep in the hands of shearers they were dumb; like lambs led to the slaughter they opened not their mouths; when up steps Little John Gaylord, and taking the cause out of their hands says, let a man speak what can say something.”
We refer Bro. Briggs for the answer to some of his points to our answer to the inquiries of Bro. Anderson, &c., in No. 48. To the rest he will find our exposition of the principles and scriptures involved in our remarks on John Gaylord’s communication. But any personal remarks in the latter case we do not wish him to, in any sense, take to himself. For he has in a proper and gentlemanly manner addressed his inquiries to his spiritual pastor, and then dropped the matter without disingenuous insinuations, and intermeddling with other men’s discussions, as any gentleman would. As a simple matter of public discussion, if the Catholics are not able to justify their faith, other people need not try it.
(Gospel Herald, Vol. 3, March 30, 1848)
LINEAGE OF CHRIST.
Passing by the means by which Little John became a party to this discussion, let us examine the manner in which he has carried it on. We shall most readily agree with Little John that he was somewhat excited, or he would not have rushed into a discussion without first knowing what point was to be the subject of debate; without having a regular affirmative and negative, and some understanding at least of the rules by which the discussion was to be conducted. It is very true we have challenged discussion, and thrown down our glove against the world. It is equally true that we have opened our journal for that purpose, and told our opponents that we always had a corner ready for them; but we have not offered them half our paper from week to week to spin out trash and nonsense about Abraham, lawyers and hay racks. Whether Abraham obtained the faith which was accounted for righteousness, and by which he spared not his only son when God spake, of pagan priests, or having it already went down to Egypt to barter it off for the worship of calves and crocodiles in heathen temples, is a matter we are content to leave entirely with Little John.
Doubtless most men, after receiving their religion directly from the mouth of God, as Abraham did, would be content with it and well assured of the truth of it without going to calf worshippers to see if they could tell them better. Still as Little John and most of his brother pseudoes have had several revelations from God in the past two or three years, which they do not now believe a word of, perhaps they ought to be excused for thinking Abraham just as big a humbug as themselves. Having tried unsuccessfully for some time to swap off their religion for some other, we don’t doubt they really believe Abraham took a journey to Egypt on the same errand. So hard is it for men to believe anybody has better sense than themselves.
For the same reasons we are not the least surprised that Little John should say “he could hardly suppose that many of his readers would take pains to inquire whether he had proved his position or not, and whether his proofs were selected from the scriptures or from Tom Thumb’s history.” He forgets that his readers are not the New Era readers. Having got among those who don’t believe the word of God, go to heathenism to improve their religion, and when they get a revelation have to ask a pagan priest whether it is true or not, he very naturally thinks all of us as stupid as himself.
Now what is the question at issue between John Gaylord and the Herald? Is it whether Christ is a bastard or a legitimate son? Whether he was begotten in fornication or in lawful wedlock? Whether God prostituted a creature of his hands to unlawful lusts, doing a deed which would overturn thrones even in the most barbarous nations, or the prophets are true? It is not whether Jesus was the son of God? No, my opponent asserts and I affirm that. Is it whether he was conceived of the Holy Ghost? I am as well persuaded of that as was Luke, and I doubt not far better than my opponent; for if even an Egyptian priest should offer me any different system of faith, I should not examine to see if it might be better. If I am able to get hold of the question at all, it is “whether Jesus was the son of man.” That certainly is what I affirm, and I understand it to be what my opponent denies. He certainly denies that Jesus was the son of Joseph, the lawful husband of his mother; but if I make good that he was the son of any man, I think he will not deny that Joseph was the man.
This being the question, it became my opponent, on taking up this discussion, to review my arguments on that question before he struck out with any thing new. In my answers to Charles Rafferty (Herald Vol. 2 No. 35 and 36, Catholic discussion, p. 34 to 42) I have followed promises and prophecies down through from Adam to Christ, and shown by an array of testimonies, such as for multiplicity, point and clearness is seldom seen on any subject, that Christ, the Messiah, should come of the house of David, lawful heir to David’s throne and lawful king of Israel. This argument, which is the heart and core of the whole matter, Little John has never touched. No not even alluded to it. In the same places, I have shown by an abundance of testimony, running through the entire New Testament, that he was declared and acknowledged thus to be the son of David, begotten by Joseph, the husband of Mary, by every party on earth, friends or foes, and by witnesses in heaven also, both during his life and after his crucifixion. This is equally left untouched, and as I do not intend to go over that ground in this article, the reader is respectfully requested to read those arguments as above referred to in this connection.
It will be perceived that Mr. Gaylord claims that Christ is the son of David in the female line, and quotes the English statute of succession to show that this would entitle him to the throne of David. Unfortunately for his cause, that statute was not enacted till near 1500 years after the death of Christ. And being enacted merely by the British Parliament, is not of authority in the court of heaven. We are willing however to try this question by the rule contained in the British statute. The son of Queen Victoria inherits the throne from her, because she could inherit it. She inherited it from her father the Duke of Kent, who, had he been alive, would have taken it as heir to his brother William IV. But he who has no blood of inheritance gives none. So Prince Albert not being in the line of succession cannot create inheritable blood, and his children by a subsequent marriage would not be heirs even to their own brothers, who are in the true line of succession. None inherit unless descended from those who possessed the throne, or would, had they survived. By statute a woman can be King, that is, Queen Regent of Great Britain. But could she of Israel? Ah, there is the test. If Mary was King, that is Queen Regent of Israel, then her son would inherit from her the throne without reference to the blood of his father. But if she was not herself lawful heir, entitled to fill the throne of David, she gave no inheriting blood to her children.
[Page 10/322] Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, being a woman, gives her regal rights to her children whether male or female. And in defect of sons her daughter would be Queen in her stead. So if Mary was lawful heir to David, so as to be able to give inheriting blood at all, her daughters would, in defect of a son, have succeeded to her rights. That is, had Mary had no son her eldest daughter would have been the Messiah, the King of the Jews. What a man or woman cannot inherit themselves, their children cannot inherit from them. If Christ is entitled to the throne of David, as son of Mary, it is because she was entitled to it before him as daughter of David. But ridiculous as this theory is in its consequences, it is still more so in its foundations. No woman ever did, nor none ever could be king of Israel. Thrones and Priesthood went to sons, not to daughters. And they went to sons of sons, not sons of daughters. A man’s children in the male line, from generation to generation, were called his sons, but the son of a daughter never. They were reckoned in the line of their fathers.
And what is still worse for the cause of my opponent, there is not one iota of evidence that Mary was of the house of David at all. Much pains did the New Testament writers take to show that Joseph was of the house of David, but such a thing is no where said of Mary. It was very uncommon for priests to marry out of the tribe of Levi. And as Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, was the wife of a priest of high rank, the inference is very strong that Mary was of the tribe of Levi. And this inference is strengthened by the fact that all tradition agrees that she was raised in the Temple.
The PASSAGES FROM JOSEPHUS.–After giving 6 passages from the Bible and Book of Mormon, Little John treats us with the following passage from Josephus: “Antiquities of the Jews,” Book xviii. ch. iii. sec 3:–“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.”–He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles: He was (the) Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal then amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold, these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”
We prefer to take up this passage first because it is a good introduction to the grand question on the first chapter of Matthew. The reader will perceive that this passage does not assert that Jesus had no human father, nor does it assert any fact inconsistent with his having a human father. It simply shows that he was a very good man; a teacher of righteousness, and a doer of wonderful works. But the grand objection to this testimony is that Josephus never wrote it. It is a gross and self-convicted forgery; an interpolation of those days when pious frauds were justified, and converts to pagan ceremonies under christian names were made by deceit.
It should he remarked that Eusebius, bishop of Coesarea, (of whom hereafter) is the first writer who ever quoted this passages though he wrote more than 250 years after Josephus. And in a style of impudence which Little John seems to emulate, exclaimed, “wherefore since this Hebrew historian hath of old delivered these things in his own writing concerning our Savior, what evasion can save those who invent arguments against these things?” &c. Gibbon, Inigius, LeClere, Vandale, Bishop Warburton, Blondell, Tanaquil Fiber, Chaliners, Lardner, indeed every writer of the least respectability in the present age, as well as the best writers of the last century, reject this as a forgery. Without entering into the circumstances of the forgery at length, suffice it to say that it was committed by Cais, a priest, in the third century. We proceed to show the evidence that this is a forgery.
1. Flavius Josephus was a Jewish priest of the family of Aaron, and of the rank of a prince; born at Jerusalem about the time of the crucifixion of Christ; growing up to manhood on the very ground where christianity was then becoming formidable; standing in his priesthood when apostles and bishops were holding councils at Jerusalem, and carrying the gospel to all parts of the earth; taken captive in the Roman war, and remaining a prisoner at the siege of Jerusalem, and afterwards writing the history of the Jews, he to the last moment of his life maintains the faith of his fathers, and never for a single instant in any act of his life exhibits the least faith in christianity. But this passage is an acknowledgment of the truth of christianity. Had Josephus believed that Jesus was a teacher of such men as receive THE TRUTH with pleasure; that he was THE CHRIST; that he arose from the dead, and did TEN THOUSAND wonderful things WHICH the HOLY PROPHETS FORETOLD CONCERNING HIM, he would have been to all intents and, purposes a christian. This is the essence and foundation of the christian faith. As well might a Methodist or Episcopalian bishop be brought as witness that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and the Book of Mormon a divine revelation.
2. It interrupts the narrative. Sec 2. (Antiquities,13. xviii. Ch. iii) gives us an account of a great calamity that befell the Jews when Pilate, undertaking to supply the city of Jerusalem with water at the expense of the sacred treasures in the temple, and many of the Jews raising a sedition against it were slain. Section 4 begins, “About the same time also ANOTHER sad calamity put the Jews into disorder,” and goes on to tell of certain swindling operations or a few vagabond Jews at Rome, by means of which all were banished from Rome, four thousand driven into the army and many others punished. The reader will readily perceive that this must originally have immediately followed the one sad calamity, otherwise it would not have been called another, unless indeed the coming of the Christ and fulfilling the prophets is a sad calamity. But even then that expression in sec. 4 would not have been “another,” but “a third sad calamity.”
3. It is not quoted by the christian writers earlier than Eusebius, who were familiar with Josephus, and to whom this would, if true, have been a stanch and much needed testimony. St. Chrysostom,
bishop of Constantinople, who died 407, and a writer of high rank in defence of christianity, who frequently quotes Josephus, could not have omitted it had it then been in the text. He never mentions it. Photius, who has three articles concerning Josephus, does not quote it. Neither Justin in his dialogue with Trypho, the Jew, nor Clemens Alexandria, who made many extracts from ancient authors, nor Origen against Celsus, have ever mentioned this testimony, though it was all-important to them.
4. Two writers of an early age, both perfectly familiar with Josephus and constantly quoting him, have shown expressly that it was not in Josephus in their time. Photius, in his article “Justus of Tiberias,” expressly states that “Josephus, being a Jew, has not taken the least notice of Christ.” Origen, the most voluminous writer of the christian fathers, in writing against Celsus, Book i. ch. xxxv., openly affirms that Josephus, who had mentioned John the Baptist, did not acknowledge Christ.
5. The article attributed to Josephus contains an express falsehood, to wit: that Christ drew after him many of the Gentiles. It is a well known fact with all Bible readers that the followers of Christ were none of them Gentiles. The gospel was sent to the Gentiles some years after the crucifixion.
To the reader we humbly submit whether these considerations do not show, 1st, that the testimony attributed to Josephus is not in [Page 11/323] point, and 2d. that he never gave it.
Book of Mormon.–Three. passages are quoted from the Book of Mormon to prove that Jesus was the Son of God, which I do not dispute, but affirm; and that his mother was a virgin, of which hereafter. But of the passage 1st Nephi, ch. iii. v. 16 it is proper to remark that in the 1st edition (Palmyra, 1330. E. 13. Grandin printer) it is said, “behold the virgin which thou seest is the mother of God,” p. 25, which is corrected in the subsequent editions (stereotype p. 27) so as to read “mother of the Son of God.” The error was doubtless a pious fraud of the very religious printers in Crandin’s office, intended to make the book ridiculous. Had Little John been so fortunate as to use Grandin’s edition, I should doubtless been annihilated with a pseudo application of Grandin’s falsehood.
MATT. CHAP. 1ST. VERSE 18, To THE END.–“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on those things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying. Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins. 22. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet” saying, 23. Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which, being interpreted, is, God with us. 24. Then Joseph, being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife; 25. And knew her not till she had brought forth her first born son: and he called his name Jesus.”
This passage seems to be the strong bulwark, the Gibralter of those who claim that Jesus Christ was not “the son of man “–And though if true it does prove that Joseph was not his father after the flesh, it is very far from proving that God was. If it proves that any body was the father of his flesh, the Holy Ghost was that father. That is, that he was the son of the third person in the Catholic Trinity, instead of the first. Collated with the Apostles’ creed which my opponent has quoted, it will not even bear that construction; for in that it is expressly said he was “conceived by the Holy Ghost,” and I think my opponent would hardly pretend that he was begotten and conceived by the same individual. That is, that the same individual was both his father and mother. Still we cheerfully concede that whether this passage has any real meaning to it or not, it is against us. And consequently that the main question is whether it is true.
1. Against this passage in the first place we oppose all the Prophets who have spoken of the Messiah, who all concur in this, that he should come in the royal line of king David. (See Herald vol. ii. No. 35, 36. Catholic Discussion, p. 34 to 42.)
2. We oppose, also, to this the word of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who when she and Joseph had found him in the Temple, after three days search, admonished him sharply for deserting his PARENTS, and told him that she and his FATHER sought him sorrowing. Whether this father who sought him sorrowing was his FATHER in the Priesthood or FATHER in the FLESH we leave for those to doubt who don’t know what priesthood is, and believe that a spirit without n body (the Holy Ghost) begot a man with a body.
3. Further, we oppose to this some eighty passages of scripture in the evangelists, in which Jesus Christ is denominated “the son of man.”
4. To the same effect are all those scriptures calling Christ the root of Jesse, the son of David, the carpenters son, &c.
5. More particularly do we array against it the two genealogies, Matt. i, Luke iii., and the various scriptures in which pains is taken to show that Joseph and not Mary was in the line in which the Messiah should come–the house of David.
The scriptures above referred to make up a chain of divine revelations and apostolic, evangelic and heavenly testimonies, from the times of Nathan the prophet till those of John the revelator, a period of over 1100 years; during all which they are the principal themes of prophecy and history, and enter into the body and minutia of two-thirds of the whole Bible. It is impossible that they should be interpolations; for if stricken out, a skeleton of the book would not remain. The part remaining would be but as occasional scraps of a torn newspaper.
Solitary and alone against all this stands out the single passage in the first chapter of Matthew, ver. 18 to the end. Let us examine it. At the 23d verse we read, ” Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23d v. we read “Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel.” The reader will find the prophecy here alluded to in Isaiah vii. 14. And if it should turn out on examination that this prophecy had no allusion whatever to Christ, but was spoken of, and quite fulfilled in the birth of a child during the reign of Ahaz king of Judah, is not falsehood indelibly impressed on the face of this passage interpolated into Matthew? surely it will not be pretended that God took so great pains to fulfill in Christ a prophesy that his prophet had spoken of somebody else, and which had been fulfilled more than 700 years. And if the reason given for so extraordinary a proceeding falls to the ground, the thing itself will fall with it; especially as the history of the time and that assertion of the other are contained in the same paragraph.
“Murder, though it hath no tongue, will speak with most miraculous organ.” Falsehood hath a smoothing oily care for self that tells too much and is detected; and forgery with too much of circumstance of too nice a hand stands signboard of his crimsoned guilt. Had the interpolator in this case made no allusion to this prophet; gave no reason why Jesus was not begotten by Joseph; left out verse 22 and 23, this text would have remained, till God Almighty wiped it out, for the triumphant Jew to point his finger at, saying, “Your Christ the Messiah ! His own historians do not so much as pretend that he was of the house of David ” But we turn to Isaiah.
Gospel Herald, Vol. 3, April 6, 1848.
LINEAGE OF CHRIST.
Isaiah vii. 1. “And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem, to war against it, but could not prevail against it. 2. And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. 3. Then, said the Lord unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field: 4. And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of those smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. 5. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, 6. Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal: 7. Thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. 8. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people. 9. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not been established. 10. Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11. Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God: ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. 13. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? 14. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 16. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrent shall be forsaken of both her kings.”
An analysis of the above presents these facts
1st. That during the reign of Ahaz, king of Judah, Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, (ancient enemies of Judah,) made war against him and approached Jerusalem, for the purpose of subjecting the Jews and making the son of Tabeal their king.
2d. That king Ahaz and his people were greatly alarmed; trembled “as trees of the wood” in the wind.
3d. That in this emergency the Lord sent Isaiah to Ahaz to tell him three things: 1. That Rezin and Pekah should fail in this undertaking. 2. That within 65 years Ephraim (Israel or the ten tribes) should cease to be a people. 3. That unless Judah believed they should not be established; that is they should cease to be a people.
4th. That the prophet offered to king Ahaz whatever sign he should ask that these prophecies on Judah and Ephraim should be performed, in accordance with the law, Deut. xviii. 22, which he declined asking.
5th. That on his declining to ask a sign the prophet offered him this sign, to wit: that a VIRGIN should conceive and bear a son who should eat butter and honey, and before that son should distinguish between this good food and filth the kings who had invaded Judah should WITHDRAW THEIR ARMIES; and AS SURELY AS THIS WAS ACCOMPLISHED, SO SURELY SHOULD THAT PROPHECY BE FULFILLED.
The only child spoken of was the son to be born in Jerusalem during the war of Rezin and Pekah against Ahaz, and the only [Page 15/327] virgin was the mother of that son. The sequel of the matter was, that Ahaz would not believe God’s word, and offered sacrifices to the false Gods of Samaria and Damascus to appease them and plundered the temple and king’s palace of all their ornaments to purchase assistance of the kings of Assyria, and made burnt offerings of his own sons and was overthrown in fight, having 120,000 men of war slain in one day and 200,000 women and children made prisoners. Nevertheless the Lord made good his sign by sending the prophet Oded to deliver them from bondage. The son of Tabeal was not made king; yet Judah were not established, and the invading armies were withdrawn, and before the time elapsed, 2 Chron. xxviii., and in due time, Ephraim was broken that she ceased to be a people, and Judah continued not, according to the sign. Wherefore, as reasonable men, we must conclude that this prophecy had no reference whatever to Christ or to his mother, and by consequence nothing in the begetting or birth of Christ could have happened “that it might be fulfilled.” It should not be forgotten that Christ did not eat butter and honey, but was brought up in mere poverty and want. And there was no such fact in his history as the withdrawal of two kings from the land of Judah. Nothing to connect him with this sign or prophecy.
The result then of this examination is, that the paragraph attributed to Matthew is irreconcilable with the rest of Matthew’s writings, the whole New Testament and the prophecies, and contains an absolute falsehood, in applying to Christ a prophecy which has no allusion to him whatever. A decent respect to the character of Matthew, and the authority of his works as a standard of religious truth, requires us not to accuse him of writing it. In our opinion these facts alone would justify striking it out, notwithstanding we have no particular account of the exact time when or person by whom it was interpolated. But in defect of that we will proceed to show circumstantially the time, instruments and object of the interpolation.
It should he borne in mind that until quite lately copies of the scriptures were very rare, being found only in the hands of a few ecclesiastics. The canon of scripture was not established by any authority universally acknowledged till about the middle of the sixth century; previous to which time different councils and bishops received and disallowed various books as to them seemed fit, rejecting various hooks now received, and receiving various books now rejected. No manuscript of the New Testament has come down to us from earlier than the sixth century. Various texts are now found in the scriptures not contained in any of these manuscripts; and various texts which, it appears by the quotations of the christian fathers, were once in the Greek copies are found neither in the present scriptures nor in the ancient manuscripts. Finally, there are many texts now in the scriptures which are not found in any of the known ancient manuscripts, nor quoted by any of the ancient fathers, and consequently are at best founded on MERE CONJECTURE. (Michaelis, Vol. ii. p. 160, 426.)
St. Jerome complained in his time (see preface to his gospel) that no one copy RESEMBLED ANOTHER. (Michaelis, Vol. ii. p. 119.)–At the time of editing the last copies of the Greek text, there were in the manuscript copies of the New Testament upwards of ONE HUNDRED and THIRTY THOUSAND various readings. Most of these are doubtless merely verbal, but it has been alleged that three thousand, or one in forty-three, change the sense. Emendations of the text were made by Origen more than a century earlier than the oldest copies now in existence, which were taken for a part of the New Testament, though he acknowledged that they were supported by no authority whatever.
The learned Faustus, the Manichean Bishop, in replying to the arguments of St. Augustine, says:
“Multa enim a majoribus vestris, cloquis Domini nostri inserta verba Bunt; quae nomine signata ipsius cum ejus fide non congruant, praisertim, gala, ut jam carpe probat um a nobis est, nee ab ipso haee sunt, nec ab ejus apostolis scripta, sed multo post, eorum, assumptionem, a nescio quibus, et ipsis inter se non, concordantibus SEMI-JUDAEIS, per famas opinionesque comperta sunt; qui tamen omnia eadein in apostolorum Domini conferentes nomina, vel corum qui secuti apostolos viderentur, errors ac mendacia sua SECUNDUM cos se scripsisse mentiti sunt.” (Faust, lib. 33, c. 3)
“For many things have been inserted by your ancestors in the speeches of our Lord, which, though put forth under his name, agree not with his faith; especially since, as already it has been often proved by us, that these things were not written by Christ, nor by his apostles, but a long while after their assumption, by I know not what sort of HALF-JEWS, not even agreeing with themselves, who made up their tale out of reports and opinions merely, and yet, fathering the whole upon the names of the apostles of our Lord, or on those who were supposed to have followed the apostles; they mendaciously pretended that they had written lies and conceits ACCORDING to them.”
And it is worthy of note that Augustine never attempted to controvert this charge, though the controversies between the church and the Manicheans were as fierce as they ever have been between the Catholics and Protestants.
In addition to all this the gospels have once been censured and altered by order of a Roman Emperor, as Victor, Bishop of Tunis, testifies:
“Messala V. C. consul, Constantinopoli, jubente Anastasio Imperatore, sancta evangelia, tanquani ab idiotis evangelistis composita, reprehenduntur et emendantur.” (Victor, Tununensis, Caves Historia Literaria. Vol. i. p. 415)
“The illustrious Messala being Consul, by the command of the Emperor Anastacius, the holy gospels as having been written by idiot evangelists, are censured and corrected.” Victor, Bishop of Tunis in Africa.
These facts certainly establish that there is no reliable accuracy in the isolated statements in the New Testament, as it has come down to us; that there is no such thing as a standard copy on earth, and no means of obtaining one short of a direct revelation from God; and that no doctrine can be proved by any single passage of scripture, unless it is also shown to be an essential part of the great body of Christian doctrine. If it should be found that any particular doctrine had grown up in the church in a certain age, and that doctrine founded on but one or two texts of scripture, these facts alone would raise a serious presumption that the doctrine originated first, and the texts in its favor were manufactured afterwards.
Now it will be perceived that the doctrine that Christ had no human father is not contained in the apostles’ creed, but is strongly stated in that of St. Athanasius; that the New Testament, except this one passage, is barren on the subject; but the writings of the Catholic Fathers following the establishment of the Christian church by the Roman empire are filled with it. The just conclusion is that this doctrine got footing about the time christianity became a part of the imperial establishment. We want only a motive and means for its adoption at that time, and the array of circumstantial evidence will be stronger by far than any single historic testimony can be.
Constantine, Emperor of Rome, having, in addition to a vast amount of other crimes, murdered his father-in-law Maximian in 310, his brother-in-law Bassianus in 314, his nephew Licinianus, a boy of only 13, in 319, and his wife Fausta in 320, seems to have been struck with horror at the remembrance of such matchless wickedness; and applied to Sopater, a HEATHEN PRIEST and philosopher, to absolve him from his sins. Being told that “there was no kind of purgation sufficient to expiate such enormities,” he applied to the christian bishops, who promised him that, “by repentance and baptism, they could cleanse him of all sin.” He was accordingly baptized; but whether he repented of his murders or not the reader may judge for himself when we add that, as soon as he was converted, he murdered Sopater, who had refused him absolution, Licinius his brother-in-law in 325, and Crispius his own son in 326), besides some hundred thousand of his subjects; who, perhaps should not be counted as murdered, but only executed, as they died for the crimes, some of being pagans, and some of being different christians from what he was, such as the Arians.
Every effort that force or fraud could put in use was used to establish the new and abolish the old religions. Besides burning books and writings of the old and dissenting faiths and forging books of his own religion, beheading teachers and followers of the old and setting up those of the new, he resorted universally to that more efficacious mode of converting the heathen by changing their temples into christian churches, and confiscating the estates of heathen priests to bestow them on christian pastors and bishops. One thing only was wanting more than this to make the new religion acceptable, and that was a congruity to heathanism. Yes, with all these appliances only one thing more was necessary to convert the Roman empire to christianity, and that one thing was the conversion of christianity to heathenism. Force and fraud can beat no religion into the heart, but they may induce its observance.
The leading trait of the religion of the Roman empire, perhaps, was demi-Godism or the doctrine that Gods begot children on [Page 16/328] beautiful women, and goddesses conceived them of notable men and renowned princes. And as their religions were not exclusive, but like the various christian sects of the present day, each acknowledged all others to be essentially true; if christianity could be brought into the general scope of heathenism, the obstacles to general conformity to the new religion would be very much diminished. Parasites and hypocrites could easily change the names of their religion, but for the people at large something of the old faith was necessary. Temples were readily transformed to churches for similar Gods. And heathen priests, as christian Bishops, could as well prate of a liason of Jehovah with a Hebrew peasant as Jupiter with a Greek shepherdess. Romans, Greeks and Barbarians all believing that their emperors, princes and heroes were Demi-gods, half heavenly in their parentage, and being in the constant habit of rendering them divine worship after they were dead, it did not require even a change of their faith to worship Jesus Christ as a God; if they were told that the Almighty had begotten him on a woman of matchless charms, among which Catholics reckon personal beauty and perpetual virginity. Such were the inducements to the establishment of demi-godism as a part of the christian faith. It was first authoritatively declared by the council of Nice, and was enforced by the excommunication of more than 100 bishops and their flocks. The church was now in unholy union with the old Roman empire. Literally had left communion with Christ, and taken up bed and board with the Devil. The woman having turned prostitute, seated herself on the scarlet colored beast. Rev. xvii. 4.
(Gospel Herald, Vol. 3, April 6, 1848)