Philip Schaff

Christianus sum: Christiani nihil a me alienus puto.

Volume 1: Apostolic Christianity, a.d. 1-100

Prefaces to Volume 1

General Introduction

§ 1. Nature of Church History

§ 2. Branches of Church History

§ 3. Sources of Church History

§ 4. Periods of Church History

§ 5. Uses of Church History

§ 6. Duty of the Historian

§ 7. Literature of Church History

From the Birth of Christ to the Death of St. John, a.d. 1-100

Chapter I: Preparation for Christianity in the History of the Jewish and Heathen World.

§ 8. Central Position of Christ in the History of the World

§ 9. Judaism

§ 10. The Law, and the Prophecy

§ 11. Heathenism

§ 12. Grecian Literature, and the Roman Empire

§ 13. Judaism and Heathenism in Contact

Chapter II: Jesus Christ

§ 14. Sources and Literature

§ 15. The Founder of Christianity

§ 16. Chronology of the Life of Christ

§ 17. The Land and the People

§ 18. Apocryphal Tradition

§ 19. The Resurrection of Christ

Chapter III: The Apostolic Age

§ 20. Sources and Literature of the Apostolic Age

§ 21. General Character of the Apostolic Age

§ 22. The Critical Reconstruction of the History of the Apostolic Age

§ 23. Chronology of the Apostolic Age

Chapter IV: St. Peter and the Conversion of the Jews

§ 24. The Miracle of Pentecost and the Birthday of the Christian Church. a.d. 30

§ 25. The Church of Jerusalem and the Labors of Peter

§ 26. The Peter of History and the Peter of Fiction

§ 27. James the Brother of the Lord

§ 28. Preparation for the Mission to the Gentiles

Chapter V: St. Paul and the Conversion of the Gentiles

§ 29. Sources and Literature on St. Paul and his Work

§ 30. Paul before his Conversion

§ 31. The Conversion of Paul

§ 32. The Work of Paul

§ 33. Paul’s Missionary Labors

§ 34. The Synod of Jerusalem, and the Compromise between Jewish and Gentile Christianity

§ 35. The Conservative Reaction, and the Liberal Victory — Peter and Paul at Antioch

§ 36. Christianity in Rome

Chapter VI: The Great Tribulation. (Mat_21:21.)

§ 37. The Roman Conflagration and the Neronian Persecution

§ 38. The Jewish War and the Destruction of Jerusalem. a.d. 70

§ 39. Effects of the Destruction of Jerusalem on the Christian Church

Chapter VII: St. John, and the Last Stadium of the Apostolic Period. The Consolidation of Jewish and Gentile Christianity.

§ 40. The Johannean Literature

§ 41. Life and Character of John

§ 42. Apostolic Labors of John

§ 43. Traditions Respecting John

Chapter VIII: Christian Life in the Apostolic Church

§ 44. The Power of Christianity

§ 45. The Spiritual Gifts

§ 46. Christianity in Individuals

§ 47. Christianity and the Family

§ 48. Christianity and Slavery

§ 49. Christianity and Society

§ 50. Spiritual Condition of the Congregations. — The Seven Churches in Asia

Chapter IX: Worship in the Apostolic Age

§ 51. The Synagogue

§ 52. Christian Worship

§ 53. The Several Parts of Worship

§ 54. Baptism

§ 55. The Lord’s Supper

§ 56. Sacred Places

§ 57. Sacred Times — The Lord’s Day

Chapter X: Organization of the Apostolic Church

§ 58. Literature

§ 59. The Christian Ministry, and its Relation to the Christian Community

§ 60. Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists

§ 61. Presbyters or Bishops. The Angels of the Seven Churches. James of Jerusalem

§ 62. Deacons and Deaconesses

§ 63. Church Discipline

§ 64. The Council at Jerusalem

§ 65. The Church and the Kingdom of Christ

Chapter XI: Theology of the Apostolic Church

§ 66. Literature

§ 67. Unity of Apostolic Teaching

§ 68. Different Types of Apostolic Teaching

§ 69. The Jewish Christian Theology — I. James and the Gospel of Law

§ 70. II. Peter and the Gospel of Hope

§ 71. The Gentile Christian Theology. Paul and the Gospel of Faith

§ 72. John and the Gospel of Love

§ 73. Heretical Perversions of the Apostolic Teaching

Chapter XII: The New Testament

§ 74. Literature

§ 75. Rise of the Apostolic Literature

§ 76. Character of the New Testament

§ 77. Literature on the Gospels

§ 78. The Four Gospels

§ 79. The Synoptists

§ 80. Matthew

§ 81. Mark

§ 82. Luke

§ 83. John

§ 84. Critical Review of the Johannean Problem

§ 85. The Acts of the Apostles

§ 86. The Epistles

§ 87. The Catholic Epistles

§ 88. The Epistles of Paul

§ 89. The Epistles to the Thessalonians

§ 90. The Epistles to the Corinthians

§ 91. The Epistles to the Galatians

§ 92. The Epistle to the Romans

§ 93. The Epistles of the Captivity

§ 94. The Epistle to the Colossians

§ 95. The Epistle to the Ephesians

§ 96. Colossians and Ephesians Compared and Vindicated

§ 97. The Epistle to the Philippians

§ 98. The Epistle to Philemon

§ 99. The Pastoral Epistles

§ 100. The Epistle to the Hebrews

§ 101. The Apocalypse

§ 102. Concluding Reflections. Faith and Criticism


Volume 2: Ante-Nicene Christianity a.d. 100-325

Prefaces to Volume 2


§ 1. General Literature on the Ante-Nicene Age

§ 2. General Character of Ante-Nicene Christianity

Chapter I: Spread of Christianity

§ 3. Literature

§ 4. Hindrances and Helps

§ 5. Causes of the Success of Christianity

§ 6. Means of Propagation

§ 7. Extent of Christianity in the Roman Empire

§ 8. Christianity in Asia

§ 9. Christianity in Egypt

§ 10. Christianity in North Africa

§ 11. Christianity in Europe

Chapter II: Persecution of Christianity and Christian Martyrdom

§ 12. Literature

§ 13. General Survey

§ 14. Jewish Persecution

§ 15. Causes of Roman Persecution

§ 16. Condition of the Church Before the Reign of Trajan

§ 17. The Reign of Trajan. a.d. 98-117. Martyrdom of Ignatius

§ 18. Hadrian. a.d. 117-137

§ 19. Antoninus Pius. a.d. 137-161. Martyrdom of Polycarp

§ 20. Persecutions under Marcus Aurelius. a.d. 161-180

§ 21. From Septimius Severus to Philip the Arabian. a.d. 193-249

§ 22. Persecutions under Decius and Valerian. a.d. 249-260. Martyrdom of Cyprian

§ 23. Temporary Repose. a.d. 260-303

§ 24. The Diocletian Persecution. a.d. 303-311

§ 25. The Edicts of Toleration. a.d. 311-313

§ 26. Christian Martyrdom

§ 27. Rise of the Worship of Martyrs and Relics

Chapter III: Literary Contest of Christianity With Judaism and Heathenism

§ 28. Literature

§ 29. Literary Opposition to Christianity

§ 30. Jewish Opposition. Josephus and the Talmud

§ 31. Pagan Opposition. Tacitus and Pliny

§ 32. Direct Assaults. Celsus

§ 33. Lucian

§ 34. Neo-Platonism

§ 35. Porphyry and Hierocles

§ 36. Summary of the Objections to Christianity

§ 37. The Apologetic Literature of Christianity

§ 38. The Argument against Judaism

§ 39. The Argument against Heathenism

§ 40. The Positive Apology

Chapter IV: Organization and Discipline of the Church

§ 41. Progress in Consolidation

§ 42. Clergy and Laity

§ 43. New Church Officers

§ 44. Origin of the Episcopate

§ 45. Development of the Episcopate. Ignatius

§ 46. Episcopacy at the Time of Irenaeus and Tertullian

§ 47. Cyprianic Episcopacy

§ 48. The Pseudo-Clementine Episcopacy

§ 49. Beginnings of the Metropolitan and Patriarchal Systems

§ 50. Germs of the Papacy

§ 51. Chronology of the Popes

§ 52. List of the Roman Bishops and Roman Emperors during the First Three Centuries

§ 53. The Catholic Unity

§ 54. Councils

§ 55. The Councils of Elvira, Arles, and Ancyra

§ 56. Collections of Ecclesiastical Law. The Apostolic Constitutions and Canons

§ 57. Church Discipline

§ 58. Church Schisms

Chapter V: Christian Worship

§ 59. Places of Common Worship

§ 60. The Lord’s Day

§ 61. The Christian Passover (Easter)

§ 62. The Paschal Controversies

§ 63. Pentecost

§ 64. Epiphany

§ 65. The Order of Public Worship

§ 66. Parts of Worship. Reading of Scriptures. Sermons. Prayers. Hymns

§ 67. The Division of Divine Service. The Disciplina Arcani

§ 68. The Celebration of the Eucharist

§ 69. The Doctrine of the Eucharist

§ 70. The Celebration of Baptism

§ 71. The Doctrine of Baptism

§ 72. Catechetical Instruction and Confirmation

§ 73. Infant Baptism

§ 74. Heretical Baptism

Chapter VI: Beginnings of Christian Art

§ 75. Literature

§ 76. Origin of Christian Art

§ 77. The Cross and the Crucifix

§ 78. Other Christian Symbols

§ 79. Historical and Allegorical Pictures

§ 80. Allegorical Representations of Christ

§ 81. Pictures of the Virgin Mary

Chapter VII: The Church in the Catacombs

§ 82. Literature

§ 83. Origin and History of the Catacombs

§ 84. Description of the Catacombs

§ 85. Pictures and Sculptures

§ 86. Epitaphs

§ 87. Lessons of the Catacombs

Chapter VIII: The Christian Life in Contrast with Pagan Corruption

§ 88. Literature

§ 89. Moral Corruption in the Roman Empire

§ 90. Stoic Morality

§ 91. Epictetus

§ 92. Marcus Aurelius

§ 93. Plutarch

§ 94. Christian Morality

§ 95. The Church and Public Amusements

§ 96. Secular Callings and Civil Duties

§ 97. The Church and Slavery

§ 98. The Heathen Family

§ 99. The Christian Family

§ 100. Brotherly Love and Love for Enemies

§ 101. Prayer and Fasting

§ 102. Treatment of the Dead

§ 103. Summary of Moral Reforms

Chapter IX: Ascetic Tendencies

§ 104. Ascetic Virtue and Piety

§ 105. Heretical and Catholic Asceticism

§ 106. Voluntary Poverty

§ 107. Voluntary Celibacy

§ 108. Celibacy of the Clergy

Chapter X: Montanism

§ 109. Literature

§ 110. External History of Montanism

§ 111. Character and Tenets of Montanism

Chapter XI: The Heresies of the Ante-Nicene Age

§ 112. Judaism and Heathenism within the Church

§ 113. Nazarenes and Ebionites. (Elkesaites, Mandaeans.)

§ 114. The Pseudo-Clementine Ebionism

§ 115. Gnosticism. The Literature

§ 116. Meaning, Origin and Character of Gnosticism

§ 117. System of Gnosticism. Its Theology

§ 118. Ethics of Gnosticism

§ 119. Cultus and Organization

§ 120. Schools of Gnosticism

§ 121. Simon Magus and the Simonians

§ 122. The Nicolaitans

§ 123. Cerinthus

§ 124. Basilides

§ 125. Valentinus

§ 126. The School of Valentinus, Heracleon, Ptolemy, Marcos, Bardesanes, Harmonius

§ 127. Marcion and his School

§ 128. The Ophites. The Sethites, Peratae, and Cainites

§ 129. Saturninus (Satornilos)

§ 130. Carpocrates

§ 131. Tatian and the Encratites

§ 132. Justin the Gnostic

§ 133. Hermogenes

§ 134. Other Gnostic Sects

§ 135. Mani and the Manichaeans

§ 136. The Manichaean System

Chapter XII: The Development of Catholic Theology

§ 137. Catholic Orthodoxy

§ 138. The Holy Scriptures and the Canon

§ 139. Catholic Tradition

§ 140. The Rule of Faith and the Apostles’ Creed

§ 141. Variations of the Apostles’ Creed. Tables

§ 142. God and the Creation

§ 143. Man and the Fall

§ 144. Christ and the Incarnation

§ 145. The Divinity of Christ

§ 146. The Humanity of Christ

§ 147. The Relation of the Divine and Human in Christ

§ 148. The Holy Spirit

§ 149. The Holy Trinity

§ 150. Antitrinitarians. — First Class: The Alogi, Theodotus, Artemon, Paul of Samosata

§ 151. Antitrinitarians. — Second Class: Praxeas. Noetus, Callistus, Beryllus

§ 152. Sabellianism

§ 153. Redemption

§ 154. Other Doctrines

§ 155. Eschatology. Immortality and Resurrection

§ 156. Between Death and Resurrection

§ 157. After Judgment. Future Punishment

§ 158. Chiliasm

Chapter XIII: Ecclesiastical Literature of the Ante-Nicene Age, and Biographical Sketches of the Church Fathers

§ 159. Literature

§ 160. A General Estimate of the Fathers

§ 161. The Apostolic Fathers

§ 162. Clement of Rome

§ 163. The Pseudo-Clementine Writings

§ 164. Ignatius of Antioch

§ 165. The Ignatian Controversy

§ 166. Polycarp of Smyrna

§ 167. Barnabas

§ 168. Hermas

§ 169. Papias

§ 170. The Epistle to Diognetus

§ 171. Sixtus of Rome

§ 172. The Apologists. Quadratus and Aristides

§ 173. Justin the Philosopher and Martyr

§ 174. The Other Greek Apologists. Tatian

§ 175. Athenagoras

§ 176. Theophilus of Antioch

§ 177. Melito of Sardis

§ 178. Apolinarius of Hierapolis. Miltiades

§ 179. Hermias

§ 180. Hegesippus

§ 181. Dionysius of Corinth

§ 182. Irenaeus

§ 183. Hippolytus

§ 184. Caius of Rome

§ 185. The Alexandrian School of Theology

§ 186. Clement of Alexandria

§ 187. Origen

§ 188. The Works of Origen

§ 189. The School of Origen. Gregory Thaumaturgus

§ 190. Dionysius the Great

§ 191. Julius Africanus

§ 192. Minor Divines of the Greek Church

§ 193. Opponents of Origen. Methodius

§ 194. Lucian of Antioch

§ 195. The Antiochian School

§ 196. Tertullian and the African School

§ 197. The Writings of Tertullian

§ 198. Minucius Felix

§ 199. Cyprian

§ 200. Novatian

§ 201. Commodian

§ 202. Arnobius

§ 203. Victorinus

§ 204. Eusebius, Lactantius, Hosius


Volume 3: Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity

Prefaces to Volume 3

Third Period: From Constantine the Great to Gregory the Great, a.d. 311-590

Sources and Literature

§ 1. Introduction and General View

Chapter I: Downfall of Heathenism and Victory of Christianity in the Roman Empire

Sources and Literature

§ 2. Constantine the Great: a.d. 306-337

§ 3. The Sons of Constantine: a.d. 337-361

§ 4. Julian the Apostate, and the Reaction of Paganism: a.d. 361-363

§ 5. From Jovian to Theodosius: a.d. 363-392

§ 6. Theodosius the Great and His Successors: a.d. 392-550

§ 7. The Downfall of Heathenism

Chapter II: The Literary Triumph of Christianity over Greek and Roman Heathenism

Sources and Literature

§ 8. Heathen Polemics. New Objections

§ 9. Julian’s Attack upon Christianity

§ 10. The Heathen Apologetic Literature

§ 11. Christian Apologetics and Polemics

§ 12. Augustine’s City of God. Salvianus

Chapter III: Alliance of Church and State, and its Influence on Public Morals and Religion

Sources and Literature

§ 13. The New Position of the Church in the Empire

§ 14. Rights and Privileges of the Church. Secular Advantages

§ 15. Support of the Clergy

§ 16. Episcopal Jurisdiction and Intercession

§ 17. Legal Sanction of Sunday. The Civil Sabbath

§ 18. Influence of Christianity on Civil Legislation. The Justinian Code

§ 19. Elevation of Woman and the Family

§ 20. Social Reforms. The State-Church and Slavery. Care of the Poor and Unfortunate

§ 21. Abolition of Gladiatorial Shows

§ 22. Evils of the Union of Church and State. Secularization of the Church

§ 23. Worldliness and Extravagance

§ 24. Byzantine Court-Christianity

§ 25. Intrusion of Politics into Religion

§ 26. The Emperor-Papacy and the Hierarchy

§ 27. Restriction of Religious Freedom, and Persecution of Heretics

Chapter IV: Monasticism

Sources and Literature

§ 28. Origin of Christian Monasticism. Comparison with Other Forms of Asceticism

§ 29. Development of Monasticism

§ 30. Nature and Aim of Monasticism

§ 31. Monasticism and the Bible

§ 32. Lights and Shades of Monastic Life

§ 33. Position of Monks in the Church

§ 34. Influence and Effect of Monasticism

§ 35. Paul of Thebes and St. Anthony

§ 36. Spread of Anchoritism. Hilarion

§ 37. Symeon and the Pillar-Saints

§ 38. Pachomius and the Cloister Life

§ 39. Fanatical and Heretical Monastic Societies in the East

§ 40. Monasticism in the West. Athanasius, Ambrose, Augustine, Martin of Tours

§ 41. St. Jerome as Monk

§ 42. St. Paula

§ 43. St. Benedict of Nursia

§ 44. The Rule of St. Benedict

§ 45. The Benedictines. Cassiodorus

§ 46. Opposition to Monasticism. Jovinian

§ 47. Helvidius, Vigilantius, and Aërius

Chapter V: The Hierarchy and Polity of the Church

§ 48. Schools of the Clergy

§ 49. Clergy and Laity. Elections

§ 50. Marriage and Celibacy of the Clergy

§ 51. Moral Character of the Clergy in General

§ 52. The Lower Clergy

§ 53. The Bishops

§ 54. Organization of the Hierarchy. Country-Bishops, City-Bishops, and Metropolitans

§ 55. The Patriarchs

§ 56. Synodical Legislation on the Patriarchal Sees

§ 57. The Rival Patriarchs of Old and New Rome

§ 58. The Latin Patriarch

§ 59. Conflicts and Conquests of the Latin Patriarchate

§ 60. The Papacy

§ 61. Opinions of the Fathers

§ 62. Decrees of Councils on Papal Authority

§ 63. Leo the Great: a.d. 440-461

§ 64. The Papacy from Leo I. to Gregory I.: a.d. 461-590

§ 65. The Synodical System. Ecumenical Councils

§ 66. List of the Ecumenical Councils

§ 67. Books of Ecclesiastical Law

Chapter VI: Church Discipline and Schisms

§ 68. Decline of Discipline

§ 69. The Schism of the Donatists. External History

§ 70. Augustine and the Donatists. Their Persecution and Extinction

§ 71. Internal History of the Donatist Schism. Dogma of the Church

§ 72. The Roman Schism of Damasus and Ursinus

§ 73. The Meletian Schism at Antioch

Chapter VII: Public Worship and Religious Customs and Ceremonies

§ 74. The Revolution in Cultus

§ 75. The Civil and Religious Sunday

§ 76. The Church Year

§ 77. The Christmas Cycle

§ 78. The Easter Cycle

§ 79. The Time of Easter

§ 80. The Cycle of Pentecost

§ 81. The Exaltation of the Virgin. Mariology

§ 82. Mariolatry

§ 83. The Festivals of Mary

§ 84. The Worship of Martyrs and Saints

§ 85. Festivals of the Saints

§ 86. The Calendar. The Legends of the Saints. Acta Sanctorum

§ 87. Worship of Relics. Dogma of the Resurrection

§ 88. Observations on the Miracles of the Nicene Age

§ 89. Processions and Pilgrimages

§ 90. Public Worship of the Lord’s Day. Scripture Reading and Preaching

§ 91. The Sacraments in General

§ 92. Baptism

§ 93. Confirmation

§ 94. Ordination

§ 95. The Sacrament of the Eucharist

§ 96. The Sacrifice of the Eucharist

§ 97. The Celebration of the Eucharist

§ 98. The Liturgies. Their Origin and Contents

§ 99. The Oriental Liturgies

§ 100. The Occidental Liturgies

§ 101. Liturgical Vestments

Chapter VIII: Christian Art

§ 102. Religion and Art

§ 103. Church Architecture

§ 104. Consecration of Churches

§ 105. Interior Arrangement of Churches

§ 106. Architectural Style. The Basilicas

§ 107. The Byzantine Style

§ 108. Baptisteries, Grave-Chapels and Crypts

§ 109. Crosses and Crucifixes

§ 110. Images of Christ

§ 111. Images of Madonna and Saints

§ 112. Consecrated Gifts

§ 113. Church Poetry and Music

§ 114. The Poetry of the Oriental Church

§ 115. The Latin Hymn

§ 116. Latin Poets and Hymns

Chapter IX: Theology. Development of the Ecumenical Orthodoxy

§ 117. General Observations. Doctrinal Importance of the Period. Influence of the Ancient Philosophy

§ 118. Sources of Theology. Scripture and Tradition

I. — The Trinitarian Controversies

General Literature of the Arian Controversy

§ 119. The Arian Controversy Down to the Council of Nicaea (318-325)

§ 120. The Council of Nicaea: a.d. 325

§ 121. The Arian and Semi-Arian Reaction: a.d. 325-361

§ 122. The Final Victory of Orthodoxy, and the Council of Constantinople: a.d. 381

§ 123. The Theological Principles Involved: Import of the Controversy

§ 124. Arianism

§ 125. Semi-Arianism

§ 126. Revived Sabellianism. Marcellus and Photinus

§ 127. The Nicene Doctrine of the Homoousion

§ 128. The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

§ 129. The Nicene and Constantinopolitan Creed

§ 130. The Nicene Doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinitarian Terminology

§ 131. The Post-Nicene Doctrine of the Trinity

§ 132. The Athanasian Creed

II. — The Origenistic Controversies

§ 133. The Origenistic Controversy in Palestine. Epiphanius, Rufinus, and Jerome: a.d. 394-399

§ 134. The Origenistic Controversy in Egypt and Constantinople. Theophilus and Chrysostomus: a.d. 399-407

III. — The Christological Controversies

§ 135. General View. The Alexandrian and Antiochian Schools

§ 136. The Apollinarian Heresy: a.d. 362-381

§ 137. The Nestorian Controversy: a.d. 428-431

§ 138. The Ecumenical Council of Ephesus: a.d. 431. The Compromise

§ 139. The Nestorians

§ 140. The Eutychian Controversy. The Council of Robbers: a.d. 449

§ 141. The Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon: a.d. 451

§ 142. The Orthodox Christology. Analysis and Criticism

§ 143. The Monophysite Controversy

§ 144. The Three Chapters and the Fifth Ecumenical Council: a.d. 553

§ 145. The Monophysite Sects: Jacobites, Copts, Abyssinians, Armenians, Maronites

IV. — The Anthropological Controversies

Works on the Pelagian Controversy

§ 146. Character of the Pelagian Controversy

§ 147. External History of the Pelagian Controversy: a.d. 411-431

§ 148. The Pelagian Controversy in Palestine

§ 149. Position of the Roman Church. Condemnation of Pelagianism

§ 150. The Pelagian System: Primitive State and Freedom of Man; the Fall

§ 151. The Pelagian System Continued: Doctrine of Human Ability and Divine Grace

§ 152. The Augustinian System: the Primitive State of Man and Free Will

§ 153. The Augustinian System Continued: the Fall and its Consequences

§ 154. The Augustinian System Continued: Original Sin and the Origin of the Soul

§ 155. Arguments for the Doctrine of Original Sin and Hereditary Guilt

§ 156. Answers to Pelagian Objections

§ 157. Augustine’s Doctrine of Redeeming Grace

§ 158. The Doctrine of Predestination

§ 159. Semi-Pelagianism and Semi-Augustinianism

§ 160. Victory of Semi-Augustinianism. Council of Orange: a.d. 529

Chapter X: Church Fathers, and Theological Literature

I. — The Greek Fathers

§ 161. Eusebius of Caesarea

§ 162. The Church Historians after Eusebius

§ 163. Athanasius the Great

§ 164. Basil the Great

§ 165. Gregory of Nyssa

§ 166. Gregory Nazianzen

§ 167. Didymus of Alexandria

§ 168. Cyril of Jerusalem

§ 169. Epiphanius and the Haereseologues

§ 170. John Chrysostom

§ 171. Cyril of Alexandria

§ 172. Ephraem the Syrian

II. — The Latin Fathers

§ 173. Lactantius

§ 174. Hilary of Poitiers

§ 175. Ambrose

§ 176. Jerome as a Divine and Scholar

§ 177. The Works of Jerome

§ 178. Augustine

§ 179. The Works of Augustine

§ 180. The Influence of Augustine upon Posterity and his Relation to Catholicism and Protestantism


Volume 4: Medieval Christianity from a.d. 590-1049

Chapter I: General Introduction to Medieval Church History

§ 1. Sources and Literature

§ 2. The Middle Age. Limits and General Character

§ 3. The Nations of Medieval Christianity, Kelt, Teuton, Slav

§ 4. Genius of Medieval Christianity

§ 5. Periods of the Middle Age

Fourth Period: The Church Among the Barbarians. From Gregory I to Gregory VII a.d. 590-1049 (1073)

Chapter II: The Conversion of the Northern and Western Barbarians

§ 6. Character of Medieval Missions

I. The Conversion of England, Ireland, and Scotland

§ 7. Literature

§ 8. The Britons

§ 9. The Anglo-Saxons

§ 10. The Mission of Gregory and Augustin. Conversion of Kent

§ 11. Antagonism of the Saxon and British Clergy

§ 12. Conversion of the other Kingdoms of the Heptarchy

§ 13. Conformity to Rome Established. Wilfrid, Theodore, Bede

§ 14. Conversion of Ireland. St. Patrick, St. Bridget, (Critical Note on St. Patrick)

§ 15. The Irish Church After St. Patrick

§ 16. Subjection of Ireland to English and Roman Rule

§ 17. Conversion of Scotland. St. Ninian and St. Kentigern

§ 18. St. Columba and the Monastery of Iona

§ 19. The Culdees

§ 20. Extinction of the Keltic Church, and Triumph of Rome under King David

II. The Conversion of France, Germany, and Adjacent Countries

General Literature

§ 21. Arian Christianity Among the Goths and Other German Tribes

§ 22. Conversion of Clovis and the Franks

§ 23. Columbanus and the Irish Missionaries on the Continent

§ 24. German Missionaries before Boniface

§ 25. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany

§ 26. Pupils of Boniface. Willibald, Gregory of Utrecht, Sturm of Fulda

§ 27. Conversion of the Saxons. Charlemagne and Alcuin. The Heliand and the Gospel Harmony

III. The Conversion of Scandinavia

General Literature

§ 28. Scandinavian Heathenism

§ 29. Christianization of Denmark. St. Ansgar

§ 30. Christianization of Sweden

§ 31. Christianization of Norway and Iceland

IV. The Christianization of the Slavs

§ 32. General Survey

§ 33. Christian Missions among the Wends

§ 34. Cyrillus and Methodius, the Apostles of the Slavs. Christianization of Moravia, Bohemia and Poland

§ 35. Conversion of the Bulgarians

§ 36. Conversion of the Magyars

§ 37. Christianization of Russia

Chapter III: Mohammedanism in its Relation to Christianity

§ 38. Literature

§ 39. Statistics and Chronological Table

§ 40. Position of Mohammedanism in Church History

§ 41. The Home, and the Antecedents of Islam

§ 42. Life and Character of Mohammed

§ 43. The Conquests of Islam

§ 44. The Koran and the Bible

§ 45. The Mohammedan Religion

§ 46. Mohammedan Worship

§ 47. Christian Polemics against Islam. Note on Mormonism

Chapter IV: Papal Hierarchy and the Holy Roman Empire

§ 48. General Literature on the Papacy

§ 49. Chronological Table of the Popes, Anti-Popes and Emperors From Gregory I. a.d. 590 to Leo. XIII. a.d. 1878

§ 50. Gregory the Great. a.d. 590-604

§ 51. Gregory and the Univeral Episcopate

§ 52. The Writings of Gregory

§ 53. The Papacy From Gregory I. to Gregory II. a.d. 604-715

§ 54. From Gregory II. to Zacharias. a.d. 715-741

§ 55. Alliance of the Papacy with the New Monarchy of the Franks. Pepin and the Patrimony of St. Peter. a.d. 741-755

§ 56. Charlemagne. a.d. 768-814

§ 57. Founding of the Holy Roman Empire. a.d. 800. Charlemagne and Leo III.

§ 58. Survey of the History of the Holy Roman Empire

§ 59. The Papacy and the Empire From the Death of Charlemagne to Nicolas I. a.d. 814-858. Myth of the Papess Joan

§ 60. The Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals

§ 61. Nicolas I. April, 858-Nov. 13, 867

§ 62. Hadrian II. and John VIII., a.d. 867-882

§ 63. Degradation of the Papacy in the Tenth Century

§ 64. Interference of Otho the Great

§ 65. Second Degradation of the Papacy From Otho I. to Henry III. a.d. 973-1046

§ 66. Henry III. and the Synod of Sutri. Deposition of Three Rival Popes a.d. 1046

Chapter V: The Conflict of the Eastern and Western Churches and Their Separation

§ 67. Sources and Literature on the Oriental Schism

§ 68. Consensus and Dissensus Between the Greek and Latin Churches

§ 69. Causes of Separation

§ 70. The Patriarch and the Pope. Photius and Nicolas

§ 71. Progress and Completion of the Schism. Cerularius. 1054

§ 72. Fruitless Attempts at Reunion

Chapter VI: Morals and Religion

§ 73. Literature

§ 74. General Character of Medieval Morals

§ 75. Clerical Morals

§ 76. Domestic Life

§ 77. Slavery

§ 78. Feuds and Private War. The Truce of God

§ 79. The Ordeal

§ 80. The Torture

§ 81. Christian Charity

Chapter VII: Monasticism

§ 82. Use of Convents in the Middle Ages

§ 83. St. Benedict, St. Nilus, St. Romuald

§ 84. The Convent of Cluny

Chapter VIII: Church Discipline

§ 85. The Penitential Books

§ 86. Ecclesiastical Punishments. Excommunication, Anthema, Interdict

§ 87. Penance and Indulgence

Chapter IX: Church and State

§ 88. Legislation

§ 89. The Roman Law

§ 90. The Capitularies of Charlemagne

§ 91. English Legislation

Chapter X: Worship and Ceremonies

§ 92. The Mass

§ 93. The Sermon

§ 94. Church Poetry. Greek Hymns and Hymnists

§ 95. Latin Hymnody. Literature

§ 96. Latin Hymns and Hymnists

§ 97. The Seven Sacraments

§ 98. The Organ and the Bell

§ 99. The Worship of Saints

§ 100. The Worship of Images. Literature. Different Theories

§ 101. The Iconoclastic War, and the Synod of 754

§ 102. The Restoration of Image-Worship and the Seventh Ecumenical Council, a.d. 787

§ 103. Iconoclastic Reaction and Final Triumph of Image-Worship a.d. 842

§ 104. The Caroline Books and the Frankish Church

§ 105. Evangelical Reformers. Agobard of Lyons and Claudius of Turin

Chapter XI: Doctrinal Controversies

§ 106. General Survey

§ 107. I. The Procession of the Holy Spirit

§ 108. The Arguments for and against the Filioque

§ 109. II. The Monotheletic Controversy. Literature

§ 110. The Doctrine of Two Wills in Christ

§ 111. History of Monotheletism and Dyotheletism

§ 112. The Sixth Ecumenical Council. a.d. 680

§ 113. The Heresy of Honorius

§ 114. Concilium Quinisextum, a.d. 692

§ 115. Reaction of Monotheletism. The Maronites

§ 116. III. The Adoptionist Controversy. Literature

§ 117. History of Adoptionism

§ 118. Doctrine of Adoptionism

§ 119. IV. The Predestinarian Controversy. Literature

§ 120. Gottschalk and Rabanus Maurus

§ 121. Gottschalk and Hincmar

§ 122. The Contending Theories of Predestination, and the Victory of Semi-Augustinianism

§ 123. The Doctrine of Scotus Erigena on Predestination and Free Will

§ 124. V. The Eucharistic Controversies. Literature

§ 125. The Two Theories of the Lord’s Supper

§ 126. The Theory of Paschasius Radbertus

§ 127. The Theory of Ratramnus

§ 128. The Berengar Controversy

§ 129. Berengar’s Theory of the Lord’s Supper

§ 130. Lanfranc and the Triumph of Transubstantiation

Chapter XII: Heretical Sects

§ 131. The Paulicians

§ 132. The Euchites and other Sects in the East

§ 133. The New Manichaeans in the West

Chapter XIII: The State of Learning

§ 134. Literature

§ 135. Literary Character of the Early Middle Ages

§ 136. Learning in the Eastern Church

§ 137. Christian Platonism and the Pseudo-Dionysian Writings

§ 138. Ignorance in the West

§ 139. Educational Efforts of the Latin Church

§ 140. Charles the Great, and Charles the Bald

§ 141. King Alfred, and Education in England

Chapter XIV: Biographical Sketches of the Ecclesiastical Writers

§ 142. Chronologist List of the Principal Ecclesiastical Writers from the Sixth to the Twelfth Century

I. Greek Authors

§ 143. St. Maximus Confessor

§ 144. St. John of Damascus

§ 145. Photius

§ 146. Simeon Metaphrastes

§ 147. Oecumenius

§ 148. Theophylact

§ 149. Michael Psellus

§ 150. Euthymius Zigabenus

§ 151. Eustathius of Thessalonica

§ 152. Nicetas Acominatos

II. Latin Authors

§ 153. Cassiodorus

§ 154. St. Gregory of Tours

§ 155. St. Isidore of Seville

§ 156. The Venerable Bede

§ 157. Paul the Deacon

§ 158. St. Paulinus of Aquileia

§ 159. Alcuin

§ 160. St. Liudger

§ 161. Theodulph of Orleans

§ 162. St. Eigil

§ 163. Amalarius

§ 164. Einhard

§ 165. Smaragdus

§ 166. Jonas of Orleans

§ 167. Rabanus Maurua

§ 168. Haymo of Halberstadt

§ 169. Walahfrid Strabo

§ 170. Florus Magister of Lyons

§ 171. Servatus Lupus

§ 172. Druthmar

§ 173. St. Paschasius Radbertus

§ 174. Ratramnus

§ 175. Hincmar of Rheims

§ 176. Johannes Scotus Erigena

§ 177. Anastasius

§ 178. Ratherius of Verona

§ 179. Gerbert (Sylvester II.)

§ 180. Fulbert of Chartres

§ 181. Rodulfus Glaber. Adam of Bremen

§ 182. St. Peter Damiani


Volume 5: The Middle Ages from Gregory VII., 1049, to Boniface VIII., 1294

Preface to Volume 5

From Gregory VII. to Boniface VIII. 1049 to 1294

§ 1. General Literature

§ 2. Introductory Survey

Chapter I: The Hildebrandian Popes. 1049-1073

§ 3. Sources and Literature on Chapters I. and II

§ 4. Hildebrand and his Training

§ 5. Hildebrand and Leo IX. 1049-1054

§ 6. Victor II. and Stephen IX. (X.) 1055-1058

§ 7. Nicolas II. and the Cardinals. 1059-1061

§ 8. The War against Clerical Marriage

§ 9. Alexander II. and the Schism of Cadalus. 1061-1073

Chapter II. Gregory VII. 1073-1085

§ 10. Hildebrand Elected Pope. His Views on the Situation

§ 11. The Gregorian Theocracy

§ 12. Gregory VII. as a Moral Reformer

§ 13. The Enforcement of Sacerdotal Celibacy

§ 14. The War over Investiture

§ 15. Gregory VII. and Henry IV.

§ 16. Canossa. 1077

§ 17. Renewal of the Conflict. Two Kings and Two Popes

§ 18. Death of Gregory VII.

Chapter III: The Papacy From the Death of Gregory VII. to the Concordat of Worms. 1085-1122

§ 19. Victor III. and Urban II. 1086-1099

§ 20. Pascal II. and Henry V. 1099-1118

§ 21. The Concordat of Worms. 1122

§ 22. The Conflict of the Hierarchy in England

§ 23. William Rufus and Anselm

§ 24. Anselm and Henry I.

Chapter IV: The Papacy from the Concordat of Worms to Innocent III. 1122-1198

§ 25. Innocent II. and Eugenius III.

§ 26. Arnold of Brescia

§ 27. The Popes and the Hohenstaufen

§ 28. Adrian IV. and Frederick Barbarossa

§ 29. Alexander III. in Conflict with Barbarossa

§ 30. The Peace of Venice. 1177

§ 31. Thomas Becket and Henry II. of England

§ 32. The Archbishop and the King

§ 33. The Martyrdom of Thomas Becket. Dec. 29, 1170

§ 34. The Effects of Becket’s Murder

Chapter V: Innocent III. and His Age. 1198-1216

§ 35. Literature

§ 36. Innocent’s Training and Election

§ 37. Innocent’s Theory of the Papacy

§ 38. Innocent and the German Empire

§ 39. Innocent and King John of England

§ 40. Innocent and Magna Charta

§ 41. The Fourth Lateran Council, 1215

Chapter VI: The Papacy from the Death of Innocent III. to Boniface VIII. 1216-1294

§ 42. The Papal Conflict With Frederick II. Begun

§ 43. Gregory IX. and Frederick II. 1227-1241

§ 44. The Close of Frederick’s Career. 1250

§ 45. The Last of the Hohenstaufen

§ 46. The Empire and Papacy at Peace. 1271-1294

Chapter VII: The Crusades

§ 47. Literature on the Crusades as a Whole

§ 48. Character and Causes of the Crusades

§ 49. The Call to the Crusades

§ 50. The First Crusade and the Capture of Jerusalem

§ 51. The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. 1099-1187

§ 52. The Fall of Edessa and the Second Crusade

§ 53. The Third Crusade. 1189-1192

§ 54. The Children’s Crusades

§ 55. The Fourth Crusade and Capture of Constantinople

§ 56. Frederick II. and the Fifth Crusade. 1229

§ 57. St. Louis and the Last Crusades. 1248, 1270

§ 58. Last Stronghold of the Crusaders in Palestine

§ 59. Effects of the Crusades

§ 60. The Military Orders

Chapter VIII: The Monastic Orders

§ 61. The Revival of Monasticism

§ 62. Monasticism and the Papacy

§ 63. The Monks of Cluny

§ 64. The Cistercians

§ 65. St. Bernard of Clairvaux

§ 66. The Augustinians, Carthusians, etc.

§ 67. Monastic Prophets

§ 68. The Mendicant Orders

§ 69. Franciscan Literature

§ 70. St. Francis d’Assisi

§ 71. The Franciscans

§ 72. St. Dominic and the Dominicans

Chapter IX: Missions

§ 73. Literature and General Survey

§ 74. Missions in Northeastern Germany

§ 75. Missions among the Mohammedans

§ 76. Missions among the Mongols

§ 77. The Jews

Chapter X: Heresy and its Suppression

§ 78. Literature for the Entire Chapter

§ 79. The Medieval Dissenters

§ 80. The Cathari

§ 81. Peter de Bruys and Other Independent Leaders

§ 82. The Amaurians and Other Isolated Sects

§ 83. The Beguines and Beghards

§ 84. The Waldenses

§ 85. The Crusades against the Albigenses

§ 86. The Inquisition. Its Origin and Purpose

§ 87. The Inquisition. Its Mode of Procedure

Chapter XI: Universities and Cathedrals

§ 88. Schools

§ 89. Books and Libraries

§ 90. The Universities

§ 91. The University of Bologna

§ 92. The University of Paris

§ 93. Oxford and Cambridge

§ 94. The Cathedrals

Chapter XII: Scholastic and Mystic Theology

§ 95. Literature and General Introduction

§ 96. Sources and Development of Scholasticism

§ 97. Realism and Nominalism

§ 98. Anselm of Canterbury

§ 99. Peter Abelard

§ 100. Abelard’s Teachings and Theology

§ 101. Younger Contemporaries of Abelard

§ 102. Peter the Lombard and the Summists

§ 103. Mysticism

§ 104. St. Bernard as a Mystic

§ 105. Hugo and Richard of St. Victor

Chapter XIII: Scholasticism at its Height

§ 106. Alexander of Hales

§ 107. Albertus Magnus

§ 108. Thomas Aquinas

§ 109. Bonaventura

§ 110. Duns Scotus

§ 111. Roger Bacon

Chapter XIV: The Sacramental System

§ 112. Literature on the Sacraments

§ 113. The Seven Sacraments

§ 114. Baptism and Confirmation

§ 115. The Eucharist

§ 116. Eucharistic Practice and Superstition

§ 117. Penance and Indulgences

§ 118. Penance and Indulgences

§ 119. Extreme Unction, Ordination, and Marriage

§ 120. Sin and Grace

§ 121. The Future State

Chapter XV: Pope and Clergy

§ 122. The Canon Law

§ 123. The Papal Supremacy in Church and State

§ 124. The Pope and the Curia

§ 125. The Bishops

§ 126. The Lower Clergy

§ 127. The Councils

§ 128. The Church and Clergy in England

§ 129. Two English Bishops

Chapter XVI: Popular Worship and Superstition

§ 130. The Worship of Mary

§ 131. The Worship of Relics

§ 132. The Sermon

§ 133. Hymns and Sacred Poetry

§ 134. The Religious Drama

§ 135. The Flagellants

§ 136. Demonology and the Dark Arts

§ 137. The Age Passing Judgment upon Itself


Volume 6: The Middle Ages: From Boniface VIII., 1294, to the Protestant Reformation, 1517

Preface to Volume 6

The Sixth Period of Church History: From Boniface VIII. to Martin Luther. a.d. 1294-1517

§ 1. Introductory Survey

Chapter I: The Decline of the Papacy and the Avignon Exile. a.d. 1294-1377

§ 2. Sources and Literature

§ 3. Pope Boniface VIII. 1294-1303

§ 4. Boniface VIII. and Philip the Fair of France

§ 5. Literary Attacks against the Papacy

§ 6. The Transfer of the Papacy to Avignon

§ 7. The: Pontificate of John XXII. 1316-1334

§ 8. The Papal Office Assailed

§ 9. The Financial Policy of the Avignon Popes

§ 10. The Later Avignon Popes

§ 11. The Reestablishment of the Papacy in Rome. 1377

Chapter II: The Papal Schism and the Reformatory Councils. 1378-1449

§ 12. Sources and Literature

§ 13. The Schism Begun. 1378

§ 14. Further Progress of the Schism. 1378-1409

§ 15. The Council of Pisa. 1409

§ 16. The Council of Constance. 1414-1418

§ 17. The Council of Basel. 1431-1449

§ 18. The Council of Ferrara-Florence 1438-1445

Chapter III: Leaders of Catholic Thought

§ 19. Sources and Literature

§ 20. Ockam and the Decay of Scholasticism

§ 21. Catherine of Siena, the Saint

§ 22. Peter d’Ailly, Ecclesiastical Statesman

§ 23. John Gersow, Theologian and Church Leader

§ 24. Nicolas of Clamanges, the Moralist

§ 25. Nicolas of Cusa, Scholar and Churchman

§ 26. Popular Preachers

Chapter IV: The German Mystics

§ 27. Sources and Literature

§ 28. The New Mysticism

§ 29. Meister Eckart

§ 30. John Tauler of Strassburg

§ 31. Henry Suso

§ 32. The Friends of God

§ 33. John of Ruysbroeck

§ 34. Gerrit De Groote. The Brothers of the Common Life

§ 35. The Imitation of Christ. Thomas à Kempis

§ 36. The German Theology

§ 37. English Mystics

Chapter V: Reformers Before the Reformation

§ 38. Sources and Literature

§ 39. The Church in England in the 14th Century

§ 40. John Wyclif

§ 41. Wyclif’s Teachings

§ 42. Wyclif and the Scriptures

§ 43. The Lollards

§ 44. John Huss of Bohemia

§ 45. Huss at Constance

§ 46. Jerome of Prag

§ 47. The Hussites

Chapter VI: The Last Popes of the Middle Ages. 1417-1521

§ 48. Literature and General Survey

§ 49. Nicolas V. 1447-1455

§ 50. Aeneas Sylvius de’ Piccolomini, Pius II.

§ 51. Paul II. 1464-1471

§ 52. Sixtus IV. 1471-1484

§ 53. Innocent VIII. 1484-1492

§ 54. Pope Alexander VI. — Borgia. 1492-1503

§ 55. Julius II., the Warrior-Pope. 1503-1513

§ 56. Leo X. 1513-1521

Chapter VII: Heresy and Witchcraft

§ 57. Sources and Literature

§ 58. Heretical and Unchurchly Movements

§ 59. Witchcraft and Its Punishment

§ 60. The Spanish Inquisition

Chapter VIII: The Renaissance

§ 61. Sources and Literature

§ 62. The Intellectual Awakening

§ 63. Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio

§ 64. Progress of Classical Studies

§ 65. Greek Teachers and Italian Humanists

§ 66. The Artists

§ 67. The Revival of Paganism

§ 68. German Humanism

§ 69. Reuchlin and Erasmus

§ 70. Humanism in France

§ 71. Humanism in England

Chapter IX: The Pulpit and Popular Piety

§ 72. Literature

§ 73. The Clergy

§ 74. Preaching

§ 75. Doctrinal Reformers

§ 76. Savonarola

§ 77. Study and Circulation of the Bible

§ 78. Popular Piety

§ 79. Works of Charity

§ 80. The Sale of Indulgences

Chapter X: The Close of the Middle Ages


Volume 7: Modern Christianity: The German Reformation

Preface to Volume 7

History of the Reformation 1517-1648

Chapter I: Orientation: Medieval and Modern Christianity

§ 1. The Turning Point of Modern History

§ 2. Protestantism and Romanism

§ 3. Necessity of a Reformation

§ 4. Preparations for the Reformation

§ 5. The Genius and Aim of the Reformation

§ 6. The Authority of the Scriptures

§ 7. Justification by Faith

§ 8. The Priesthood of the Laity

§ 9. The Reformation and Rationalism

§ 10. Protestantism and Denominationalism

§ 11. Protestantism and Religious Liberty

§ 12. Religious Intolerance and Liberty in England and America

§ 13. Chronological Limits

§ 14. General Literature on the Reformation

First Book: The German Reformation, till the Diet of Augsburg 1517-1530

Chapter II: Luther’s Training for the Reformation (1483-1517)

§ 15. Literature on the German Reformation

§ 16. Germany and the Reformation

§ 17. The Luther Literature

§ 18. Luther’s Youth and Training

§ 19. Luther in the University of Erfurt

§ 20. Luther’s Conversion

§ 21. Luther as a Monk

§ 22. Luther and Staupitz

§ 23. The Victory of Justifying Faith

§ 24. Luther Ordained to the Priesthood

§ 25. Luther in Rome

§ 26. The University of Wittenberg

§ 27. Luther as Professor till 1517. His Exegetical Lectures

§ 28. Luther and Mysticism. The Theologia Germanica

§ 29. The Penitential Psalms. The Eve of the Reformation

Chapter III: The Reformation from the Publication of Luther’s Theses to the Diet of Worms (1517-1521)

§ 30. The Sale of Indulgences

§ 31. Luther and Tetzel

§ 32. The Ninety-Five theses (Oct. 31, 1517)

Notes. — Text of the Theses

§ 33. The Theses Controversy

§ 34. Rome’s Interposition: Luther and Prierias. 1518

§ 35. Luther and Cajetan (October, 1518)

§ 36. Luther and Miltitz (January, 1519)

§ 37. The Leipzig Disputation (June and July, 1519)

§ 38. Philip Melanchthon, Literature

§ 39. Melanchthon’s Training

§ 40. Melanchthon’s Early Labors

§ 41. Luther and Melanchthon

§ 42. Ulrich von Hutten and Luther

§ 43. Luther’s Crusade against Popery (1520)

§ 44. The Address to the German Nobility (July, 1520)

§ 45. The Babylonian Captivity of the Church (October, 1520)

§ 46. Christian Freedom. Luther’s Third and Last Letter to the Pope (October, 1520)

§ 47. The Bull of Excommunication (June 15, 1520)

Notes. — Text of the Papal Bull

§ 48. Luther Burns the Pope’s Bull, and Forever Breaks with Rome (Dec. 10, 1520)

§ 49. The Reformation and the Papacy

§ 50. Emperor Charles V.

§ 51. The Ecclesiastical Policy of Charles V.

§ 52. The Abdication of Charles, and His Cloister-Life

§ 53. The Diet of Worms (1521)

§ 54. Luther’s Journey to Worms

§ 55. Luther’s Testimony Before the Diet of Worms (April 17 and 18, 1521)

§ 56. Reflections on Luther’s Testimony

§ 57. Private Conferences. Conduct of the Emperor

§ 58. The Ban of the Empire (May 8 (26), 1521)

§ 59. State of Public Opinion. Popular Literature

Chapter IV: The Reformation from the Diet of Worms to the Peasants’ War (1521-1525)

§ 60. A New Phase in the History of the Reformation

§ 61. Luther at the Wartburg (April, 1521, to March, 1522)

§ 62. Luther’s Translation of the Bible

Notes. — The Pre-Lutheran German Bible

§ 63. A Critical Estimate of Luther’s Version

Notes. — The Revision of Luther’s Version, and the Anglo-American Revision of King James’s Version

§ 64. Melanchthon’s Theology. Loci Theologici

§ 65. Protestant Radicalism. Disturbances at Erfurt

§ 66. The Revolution at Wittenberg. Carlstadt and the New Prophets

§ 67. Luther Returns to Wittenberg (March, 1522)

§ 68. Luther Restores Order in Wittenberg. The End of Carlstadt

§ 69. The Diets of Nürnberg (1522-1524). Pope Adrian VI.

§ 70. Luther and Henry VIII. (1522)

§ 71. Desiderius Erasmus

§ 72. Erasmus and the Reformation

§ 73. The Free-Will Controversy (1524-1527)

§ 74. Wilibald Pirkheimer

§ 75. The Peasants’ War (1523-1525)

Chapter V: The Inner Development of the Reformation, from the Peasants’ War to the Diet of Augsburg (1525-1530)

§ 76. The Three Electors

§ 77. Luther’s Marriage

§ 78. Luther’s Home-Life and Private Character

§ 79. Reflections on Clerical Family Life

§ 80. Reformation of Public Worship

§ 81. Prominent Features of Evangelical Worship

§ 82. Beginnings of Evangelical Hymnody

§ 83. Luther and Common Schools

§ 84. Reconstruction of Church Government and Discipline

§ 85. Enlarged Conception of the Church. Augustin, Wiclif, Hus, Luther

Notes. — Luther’s Views on the Church Fathers

§ 86. Changes in the Views of the Ministry. Departure From the Episcopal Succession. Luther Ordains a Deacon and Consecrates a Bishop

§ 87. Relation of Church and State

§ 88. Church Visitation in Saxony

§ 89. Luther’s Catechisms (1529)

§ 90. The Typical Catechisms of Protestantism

Chapter VI: Propagation and Persecution of Protestantism

§ 91. Causes and Means of Progress

§ 92. The Printing-Press and the Reformation

§ 93. Protestantism in Saxony

§ 94. The Reformation in Nürnberg

§ 95. The Reformation in Strassburg

§ 96. Protestantism in North Germany

§ 97. Protestantism in Augsburg and South Germany

§ 98. The Reformation in Hesse

§ 99. The Reformation in Prussia

§ 100. Protestant Martyrs

Chapter VII: The Sacramentarian Controversies

§ 101. Sacerdotalism and Sacramentalism

§ 102. The Anabaptist Controversy. Luther and Hübmaier

§ 103. The Eucharistic Controversy

§ 104. Luther’s Theory before the Controversy

§ 105. Luther and Carlstadt

§ 106. Luther and Zwingli

§ 107. The Marburg Conference

§ 108. The Marburg Conference (continued). Discussion and Result

Note. — On the Origin of the Sentence: In necessariis unitas, etc.

§ 109. Luther’s Last Attack on the Sacramentarians. His Relation to Calvin

§ 110. Reflections on the Ethics of the Eucharistic Controversy

§ 111. The Eucharistic Theories Compared. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin

Chapter VIII: The Political Situation Between 1526 and 1529

§ 112. The First Diet of Speier, and the Beginning of the Territorial System (1526)

§ 113. The Emperor and the: Pope. The Sacking of Rome (1527)

§ 114. A War Panic (1528)

§ 115. The Second Diet of Speier, and the Protest (1529)

§ 116. The Reconciliation of the Emperor and the Pope. The Crowning of the Emperor (1529)

Chapter IX: The Diet and Confession of Augsburg (1530)

§ 117. The Diet of Augsburg

§ 118. The Negotiations, the Recess of Augsburg, and the Peace of Nürnberg

§ 119. The Confession of Augsburg

§ 120. The Confutation and the Apology

§ 121. The Tetrapolitan Confession

§ 122. Zwingli’s Confession

§ 123. Luther at the Coburg

§ 124. Luther’s Public Character, and Place in History

§ 125. Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott


Volume 8: Modern Christianity: The Swiss Reformation

Prefaces to Volume 8

Second Book: The Swiss Reformation

Chapter I: Introduction

§ 1. Switzerland before the Reformation

§ 2. The Swiss Reformation

§ 3. The Genius of the Swiss Reformation compared with the German

§ 4. Literature on the Swiss Reformation

Chapter II: Zwingli’s Training. a.d. 1484-1519

§ 5. The Zwingli Literature

§ 6. Zwingli’s Birth and Education

§ 7. Zwingli in Glarus. (Notes on His Moral Character)

§ 8. Zwingli in Einsiedeln

§ 9. Zwingli and Luther

Chapter III: The Reformation in Zürich. 1519-1526

§ 10. Zwingli called to Zürich

§ 11. Zwingli’s Public Labors and Private Studies

§ 12. Zwingli and the Sale of Indulgences

§ 13. Zwingli during the Pestilence

§ 14. The Open Breach. Controversy about Fasts, 1522

§ 15. Petition for the Abolition of Clerical Celibacy. Zwingli’s Marriage

§ 16. Zwingli and Lambert of Avignon

§ 17. Zwingli’s Sixty-Seven Articles, 1523

§ 18. The Public Disputations, 1523

§ 19. The Abolition of the Roman Worship, 1524

§ 20. The Reformed Celebration of the Lord’s Supper, 1525

§ 21. Other Changes. A Theological School. A System of Theology

§ 22. The Translation of the Bible. Leo Judae

§ 23. Church and State

§ 24. Zwingli’s Conflict with Radicalism

§ 25. The Baptismal Controversy

§ 26. Persecution of the Anabaptists

§ 27. The Eucharistic Controversy

§ 28. The Works of Zwingli

§ 29. The Theology of Zwingli

Chapter IV: Spread of the Reformation in German Switzerland and the Grisons

§ 30. The Swiss Diet and the Conference at Baden, 1526

§ 31. The Reformation in Berne

§ 32. The Reformation in Basel. (Oecolampadius)

§ 33. The Reformation in Glarus. Tschudi. Glareanus

§ 34. The Reformation in St. Gall, Toggenburg, and Appenzell. Watt and Kessler

§ 35. The Reformation in Schaffhausen. Hofmeister

§ 36. The Grisons (Graubünden)

§ 37. The Reformation in the Grisons

§ 38. The Reformation in the Italian Valleys of the Grisons. Vergerio

§ 39. Protestantism in Chiavenna and the Valtellina, and its Suppression. The Valtellina Massacre. George Jenatsch

§ 40. The Congregation of Locarno

§ 41. Zwinglianism in Germany

Chapter V: The Civil and Religious War between the Roman Catholic and Reformed Cantons

§ 42. The First War of Cappel, 1529

§ 43. The First Peace of Cappell, June, 1529

§ 44. Between the Wars. Political Plans of Zwingli

§ 45. Zwingli’s Last Confession of Faith

§ 46. The Second War of Cappel, 1531

§ 47. Death of Zwingli, Oct. 11, 1531

§ 48. Reflections on the Disaster at Cappel

§ 49. The Second Peace of Cappel, November, 1531

§ 50. The Roman Catholic Reaction

§ 51. The Relative Strength of Romanism and Protestantism

§ 52. Zwingli Redivivus

Chapter VI: The Period of Consolidation

§ 53. Literature

§ 54. Heinrich Bullinger

§ 55. Antistes Breitinger

§ 56. Oswald Myconius

§ 57. The Helvetic Confessions of Faith

Third Book: The Reformation in French Switzerland, or the Calvinistic Movement

Chapter VII: The Preparatory Work. From 1526 to 1536

§ 58. Literature on Calvin and the Reformation in French Switzerland

§ 59. The Situation of French Switzerland before the Reformation

§ 60. William Farel (1489-1565)

§ 61. Farel in Geneva. The First Act of the Reformation

§ 62. The Last Labors of Farel

§ 63. Peter Viret and the Reformation in Lausanne

§ 64. Antoine Froment

Chapter VIII: John Calvin and His Work. From 1536 to 1564

§ 65. John Calvin compared with the Older Reformers

§ 66. Calvin’s Place in History

§ 67. Calvin’s Literary Labors

§ 68. Tributes to the Merits of Calvin

Chapter IX: From France to Switzerland. 1509-1636

§ 69. Calvin’s Youth and Training

§ 70. Calvin as a Student in the French Universities

§ 71. Calvin as a Humanist. Commentary on Seneca, 1532

§ 72. Calvin’s Conversion, 1532

§ 73. Calvin’s Call

§ 74. The Open Rupture. An Academic Oration, 1533

§ 75. Persecution of the Protestants in Paris, 1534

§ 76. Calvin as a Wandering Evangelist, 1533-1536

§ 77. The Sleep of the Soul, 1534

§ 78. Calvin at Basel, 1535-1536

§ 79. Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1536

§ 80. From Basel to Ferrara and Geneva. The Duchess Renee

Chapter X: Calvin’s First Sojourn and Labors in Geneva. 1536-1538

§ 81. Calvin’s Arrival and Settlement at Geneva, 1636

§ 82. First Labors and Trials

§ 83. The Reformers Introduce Order and Discipline

§ 84. Expulsion of the Reformers. 1538

Chapter XI: Calvin in Germany. From 1538 to 1541

§ 85. Calvin in Strassburg

§ 86. The Church of the Strangers in Strassburg

§ 87. The Liturgy of Calvin

§ 88. Calvin as Theological Teacher and Author

§ 89. Calvin at the Colloquies of Worms and Regensburg

§ 90. Calvin and Melanchthon

§ 91. Calvin and Sadolet. The Vindication of the Reformation

§ 92. Calvin’s Marriage and Home Life

Chapter XII: Calvin’s Second Sojourn and Labors at Geneva. 1541-1564

§ 93. The State of Geneva after the Expulsion of the Reformers

§ 94. Calvin’s Recall to Geneva

§ 95. Calvin’s Return to Geneva, 1541

§ 96. The First Years after the Return (1541-1545)

§ 97. Survey of Calvin’s Activity

Chapter XIII: Constitution and Discipline of the Church of Geneva

§ 98. Literature

§ 99. Calvin’s Idea of the Holy Catholic Church

§ 100. The Visible and Invisible Church

§ 101. The Civil Government

§ 102. Distinctive Principles of Calvin’s Church Polity

§ 103. Church and State

§ 104. The Ecclesiastical Ordinances

§ 105. The Venerable Company and the Consistory

§ 106. Calvin’s Theory of Discipline

§ 107. The Exercise of Discipline in Geneva

§ 108. Calvin’s Struggle with the Patriots and Libertines

§ 109. The Leaders of the Libertines and their Punishment: — Gruet, Perrin, Ameaux, Vandel, Berthelier

§ 110. Geneva Regenerated. Impartial Testimonies

Chapter XIV: The Theology of Calvin

§ 111. Calvin’s Commentaries

§ 112. The Calvinistic System

§ 113. The Doctrine of Predestination

§ 114. Calvinism Examined

§ 115. Calvin’s Theory of the Sacraments

§ 116. Baptism

§ 117. The Lord’s Supper. The Consensus of Zürich

Chapter XV: Doctrinal Controversies

§ 118. Calvin as a Controversialist

§ 119. Calvin and Pighius

§ 120. The Anti-Papal Writings. Criticism of the Council Trent, 1547

§ 121. Against the German Interim, 1549

§ 122. Against the Worship of Relics, 1543

§ 123. The Articles of the Sorbonne with an Antidote, 1544

§ 124. Calvin and the Nicodemites, 1544

§ 125. Calvin and Bolsec

§ 126. Calvin and Castellio

§ 127. Calvin and Unitarianism. The Italian Refugees

§ 128. Calvin and Lelius Socinus

§ 129. Bernardino Ochino

§ 130. Celius Secundus Curio, 1503-1569

§ 131. The Italian Antitrinitarians in Geneva. Gribaldo, Biandrata, Alciati, Gentile

§ 132. The Eucharistic Controversies. Calvin and Westphal

§ 133. Calvin and the Augsburg Confession. Melanchthon’s Position in the Second Eucharistic Controversy

§ 134. Calvin and Heshusius

§ 135. Calvin and the Astrologers

Chapter XVI: Servetus: His Life, Trial, and Execution

§ 136. The Servetus Literature

§ 137. Calvin and Servetus

§ 138. Catholic Intolerance

§ 139. Protestant Intolerance. Judgments of the Reformers on Servetus

§ 140. The Early Life of Servetus

§ 141. The Book against the Holy Trinity

§ 142. Servetus as a Geographer

§ 143. Servetus as a Physician, Scientist, and Astrologer

§ 144. Servetus at Vienne. His Annotations on the Bible

§ 145. Correspondence of Servetus with Calvin

§ 146. “The Restitution of Christianity”

§ 147. The Theological System of Servetus

§ 148. Trial of Servetus at Vienne

§ 149. Arrival and Arrest of Servetus in Geneva

§ 150. State of Political Parties at Geneva in 1553

§ 151. The First Act of the Trial at Geneva

§ 152. The Second Act of the Trial at Geneva

§ 153. Consultation of the Swiss Churches. The Defiant Attitude of Servetus

§ 154. Condemnation of Servetus

§ 155. Execution of Servetus, Oct. 27, 1553

§ 156. The Character of Servetus

§ 157. Calvin’s Defence of the Death Penalty of Heretics

§ 158. A Plea for Religious Liberty. Castellio and Beza

Chapter XVII: Calvin Abroad

§ 159. Calvin’s Catholicity of Spirit

§ 160. Geneva the Asylum of Protestants from all Countries

§ 161. The Academy of Geneva for Training Ministers of the Reformed Churches at Home and Abroad

§ 162. Calvin’s Influence upon the Reformed Churches of the Continent

§ 163. Calvin’s Influence on the British Reformation

Chapter XVIII: Closing Scenes in the Life of Calvin

§ 164. Calvin’s Death and Burial

§ 165. Calvin’s Testament and Farewells

§ 166. Calvin’s Personal Character

Chapter XIX: Theodore Beza

§ 167. The Youth of Beza

§ 168. Beza at Lausanne and as Delegate to the German Princes

§ 169. Beza at Geneva till the Death of Calvin

§ 170. Beza at the Conference of Poissy

§ 171. Beza as the Counsellor of the Huguenot Leaders

§ 172. Beza as the Successor of Calvin, down to 1586

§ 173. Beza’s Conferences with Lutherans

§ 174. Beza and Henry IV.

§ 175. Beza’s Last Days

§ 176. Beza’s Writings

Literature on the Reformation in France

Prefaces to Volume 1

Preface to the Revised Edition

As I appear before the public with a new edition of my Church History, I feel more than ever the difficulty and responsibility of a task which is well worthy to occupy the whole time and strength of a long life, and which carries in it its own rich reward. The true historian of Christianity is yet to come. But short as I have fallen of my own ideal, I have done my best, and shall rejoice if my efforts stimulate others to better and more enduring work.

History should be written from the original sources of friend and foe, in the spirit of truth and love, “sine ira et studio,” “with malice towards none, and charity for all,” in clear, fresh, vigorous style, under the guidance of the twin parables of the mustard seed and leaven, as a book of life for instruction, correction, encouragement, as the best exposition and vindication of Christianity. The great and good Neander, “the father of Church History” — first an Israelite without guile hoping for the Messiah, then a Platonist longing for the realization of his ideal of righteousness, last a Christian in head and heart — made such a history his life-work, but before reaching the Reformation he was interrupted by sickness, and said to his faithful sister: “Hannchen, I am weary; let us go home; good night!” And thus he fell gently asleep, like a child, to awake in the land where all problems of history are solved.

When, after a long interruption caused by a change of professional duties and literary labors, I returned to the favorite studies of my youth, I felt the necessity, before continuing the History to more recent times, of subjecting the first volume to a thorough revision, in order to bring it up to the present state of investigation. We live in a restless and stirring age of discovery, criticism, and reconstruction. During the thirty years which have elapsed since the publication of my separate “History of the Apostolic Church,” there has been an incessant activity in this field, not only in Germany, the great workshop of critical research, but in all other Protestant countries. Almost every inch of ground has been disputed and defended with a degree of learning, acumen, and skill such as were never spent before on the solution of historical problems.

In this process of reconstruction the first volume has been more than doubled in size and grown into two volumes. The first embraces Apostolic, the second post-Apostolic or ante-Nicene Christianity. The first volume is larger than my separate “History of the Apostolic Church,” but differs from it in that it is chiefly devoted to the theology and literature, the other to the mission work and spiritual life of that period. I have studiously avoided repetition and seldom looked into the older book. On two points I have changed my opinion — the second Roman captivity of Paul (which I am disposed to admit in the interest of the Pastoral Epistles), and the date of the Apocalypse (which I now assign, with the majority of modern critics, to the year 68 or 69 instead of 95, as before).

I express my deep obligation to my friend, Dr. Ezra Abbot, a scholar of rare learning and microscopic accuracy, for his kind and valuable assistance in reading the proof and suggesting improvements.

The second volume, likewise thoroughly revised and partly rewritten, is in the hands of the printer; the third requires a few changes. Two new volumes, one on the History of Mediaeval Christianity, and one on the Reformation (to the Westphalian Treaty and the Westminster Assembly, 1648), are in an advanced stage of preparation.

May the work in this remodelled shape find as kind and indulgent readers as when it first appeared. My highest ambition in this sceptical age is to strengthen the immovable historical foundations of Christianity and its victory over the world.

Philip Schaff

Union Theological Seminary, New York,

October, 1882


From the Preface to the First Edition

Encouraged by the favorable reception of my “History of the Apostolic Church,” I now offer to the public a History of the Primitive Church from the birth of Christ to the reign of Constantine, as an independent and complete work in itself, and at the same time as the first volume of a general history of Christianity, which I hope, with the help of God, to bring down to the present age.

The church of the first three centuries, or the ante-Nicene age, possesses a peculiar interest for Christians of all denominations, and has often been separately treated, by Eusebius, Mosheim, Milman, Kaye, Baur, Hagenbach, and other distinguished historians. It is the daughter of Apostolic Christianity, which itself constitutes the first and by far the most important chapter in its history, and the common mother of Catholicism and Protestantism, though materially differing from both. It presents a state of primitive simplicity and purity unsullied by contact with the secular power, but with this also, the fundamental forms of heresy and corruption, which reappear from time to time under new names and aspects, but must serve, in the overruling providence of God, to promote the cause of truth and righteousness. It is the heroic age of the church, and unfolds before us the sublime spectacle of our holy religion in intellectual and moral conflict with the combined superstition, policy, and wisdom of ancient Judaism and Paganism; yet growing in persecution, conquering in death, and amidst the severest trials giving birth to principles and institutions which, in more matured form, still control the greater part of Christendom.

Without the least disposition to detract from the merits of my numerous predecessors, to several of whom I feel deeply indebted, I have reason to hope that this new attempt at a historical reproduction of ancient Christianity will meet a want in our theological literature and commend itself, both by its spirit and method, and by presenting with the author’s own labors the results of the latest German and English research, to the respectful attention of the American student. Having no sectarian ends to serve, I have confined myself to the duty of a witness — to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; always remembering, however, that history has a soul as well as a body, and that the ruling ideas and general principles must be represented no less than the outward facts and dates. A church history without the life of Christ glowing through its pages could give us at best only the picture of a temple stately and imposing from without, but vacant and dreary within, a mummy in praying posture perhaps and covered with trophies, but withered and unclean: such a history is not worth the trouble of writing or reading. Let the dead bury their dead; we prefer to live among the living, and to record the immortal thoughts and deeds of Christ in and through his people, rather than dwell upon the outer hulls, the trifling accidents and temporary scaffolding of history, or give too much prominence to Satan and his infernal tribe, whose works Christ came to destroy.

The account of the apostolic period, which forms the divine-human basis of the whole structure of history, or the ever-living fountain of the unbroken stream of the church, is here necessarily short and not intended to supersede my larger work, although it presents more than a mere summary of it, and views the subject in part under new aspects. For the history of the second period, which constitutes the body of this volume, large use has been made of the new sources of information recently brought to light, such as the Syriac and Armenian Ignatius, and especially the Philosophoumena of Hippolytus. The bold and searching criticism of modern German historians as applied to the apostolic and post-apostolic literature, though often arbitrary and untenable in its results, has nevertheless done good service by removing old prejudices, placing many things in a new light, and conducing to a comprehensive and organic view of the living process and gradual growth of ancient Christianity in its distinctive character, both in its unity with, and difference from, the preceding age of the apostles and the succeeding systems of Catholicism and Protestantism.

And now I commit this work to the great Head of the church with the prayer that, under his blessing, it may aid in promoting a correct knowledge of his heavenly kingdom on earth, and in setting forth its history as a book if life, a storehouse of wisdom and piety, and surest test of his own promise to his people: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

P. S.

Theological Seminary, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania,

November 8, 1858


Preface to Third Revision

The continued demand for my Church History lays upon me the grateful duty of keeping it abreast of the times. I have, therefore, submitted this and the other volumes (especially the second) to another revision and brought the literature down to the latest date, as the reader will see by glancing at pages 2, 35, 45, 51-53, 193, 411, 484, 569, 570, etc. The changes have been effected by omissions and condensations, without enlarging the size. The second volume is now passing through the fifth edition, and the other volumes will follow rapidly.

This is my last revision. If any further improvements should be necessary during my lifetime, I shall add them in a separate appendix.

I feel under great obligation to the reading public which enables me to perfect my work. The interest in Church History is steadily increasing in our theological schools and among the rising generation of scholars, and promises good results for the advancement of our common Christianity.

The Author

New York, January, 1890.

Vol. 1, General Introduction


C. Sagittarius: Introductio in historiam ecclesiasticam. Jen. 1694.

F. Walch: Grundsätze der zur K. Gesch. nöthigen Vorbereitungslehren u. Bücherkenntnisse. 3d ed. Giessen, 1793.

Flügge: Einleitung in das Studium u. die Liter. der K. G. Gött. 1801.

John G. Dowling: An Introduction to the Critical Study of Ecclesiastical History, attempted in an account of the progress, and a short notice of the sources of the history of the Church. London, 1838.

Möhler (R. C.): Einleitung in die K. G. 1839 (“Verm. Schriften,” ed. Döllinger, II. 261 sqq.).

Kliefoth: Einleitung in die Dogmengeschichte. Parchim & Ludwigslust, 1839.

Philip Schaff: What is Church History? A Vindication of the Idea of Historical Development. Philad. 1846.

H B. Smith: Nature and Worth of the Science of Church History. Andover, 1851.

E. P. Humphrey: lnaugural Address, delivered at the Danville Theol. Seminary. Cincinnati, 1854.

R. Turnbull: Christ in History; or, the Central Power among Men. Bost. 1854, 2d ed. 1860.

W. G. T. Shedd: Lectures on the Philosophy of History. Andover, Mass., 1856.

R. D. Hitchcock: The True Idea and Uses of Church History. N. York, 1856.

C. Bunsen: Gott in der Geschichte oder der Fortschritt des Glaubens an eine sittliche Weltordnung. Bd. I. Leipz. 1857. (Erstes Buch. Allg. Einleit. p. 1-134.) Engl. Transl.: God in History. By S. Winkworth. Lond. 1868. 3 vols.

A. P. Stanley: Three Introductory Lectures on the Study of Eccles. History Lond. 1857. (Also incorporated in his History of the Eastern Church 1861.)

Goldwin Smith: Lectures on the Study of History, delivered in Oxford, 1859-’61. Oxf. and Lond. (republished in N. York) 1866.

J. Gust. Droysen: Grundriss der Historik. Leipz. 1868; new ed. 1882.

C. de Smedt (R. C.): Introductio generalis ad historiam ecclesiasticam critice tractandam. Gandavi (Ghent), 1876 (533 pp.).

E. A. Freeman: The Methods of Historical Study. Lond 1886.

O. Lorenz: Geschichtswissenschaft. Berlin, 1886.

Jos. Nirschl (R. C.): Propädeutik der Kirchengeschichte. Mainz, 1888 (352 pp.).

E. Bernheim: Lehrbuch der historischen Methode. Mit Nachweis der wichtigsten Quellen und Hilfsmittel zum Studium der Geschichte. Leipzig, 1889.

Edward Bratke: Wegweiser zur Quellen- und Literaturkunde der Kirchengeschichte. Gotha, 1890 (282 pp.).

On the philosophy of history in general, see the works of Herder (Ideen zur Philosophie der Gesch. der Menschheit), Fred. Schlegel, Hegel (1840, transl. by Sibree, 1870), Hermann (1870), Rocholl (1878), Flint (The Philosophy of History in Europe. Edinb., 1874, etc.), Lotze (Mikrokosmus, Bk. viith; 4th ed. 1884; Eng. transl. by Elizabeth Hamilton and E. E. C. Jones, 1885, 3d ed. 1888). A philosophy of church history is a desideratum. Herder and Lotze come nearest to it.

A fuller introduction, see in Schaff: History of the Apostolic Church; with a General Introduction to Ch. H. (N. York, 1853), pp. 1-134.


1. Nature of Church History

History has two sides, a divine and a human. On the part of God, it is his revelation in the order of time (as the creation is his revelation in the order of space), and the successive unfolding of a plan of infinite wisdom, justice, and mercy, looking to his glory and the eternal happiness of mankind. On the part of man, history is the biography of the human race, and the gradual development, both normal and abnormal, of all its physical, intellectual, and moral forces to the final consummation at the general judgment, with its eternal rewards and punishments. The idea of universal history presupposes the Christian idea of the unity of God, and the unity and common destiny of men, and was unknown to ancient Greece and Rome. A view of history which overlooks or undervalues the divine factor starts from deism and consistently runs into atheism; while the opposite view, which overlooks the free agency of man and his moral responsibility and guilt, is essentially fatalistic and pantheistic.

From the human agency we may distinguish the Satanic, which enters as a third power into the history of the race. In the temptation of Adam in Paradise, the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, and at every great epoch, Satan appears as the antagonist of God, endeavoring to defeat the plan of redemption and the progress of Christ’s kingdom, and using weak and wicked men for his schemes, but is always defeated in the end by the superior wisdom of God.

The central current and ultimate aim of universal history is the Kingdom of God established by Jesus Christ. This is the grandest and most comprehensive institution in the world, as vast as humanity and as enduring as eternity. All other institutions are made subservient to it, and in its interest the whole world is governed. It is no after-thought of God, no subsequent emendation of the plan of creation, but it is the eternal forethought, the controlling idea, the beginning, the middle, and the end of all his ways and works. The first Adam is a type of the second Adam; creation looks to redemption as the solution of its problems. Secular history, far from controlling sacred history, is controlled by it, must directly or indirectly subserve its ends, and can only be fully understood in the central light of Christian truth and the plan of salvation. The Father, who directs the history of the world, “draws to the Son,” who rules the history of the church, and the Son leads back to the Father, that “God may be all in all.” “All things,” says St. Paul, “were created through Christ and unto Christ: and He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the Church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the pre-eminence.” Col_1:16-18. “The Gospel,” says John von Müller, summing up the final result of his lifelong studies in history, “is the fulfilment of all hopes, the perfection of all philosophy, the interpreter of all revolutions, the key of all seeming contradictions of the physical and moral worlds; it is life — it is immortality.”

The history of the church is the rise and progress of the kingdom of heaven upon earth, for the glory of God and the salvation of the world. It begins with the creation of Adam, and with that promise of the serpent-bruiser, which relieved the loss of the paradise of innocence by the hope of future redemption from the curse of sin. It comes down through the preparatory revelations under the patriarchs, Moses, and the prophets, to the immediate forerunner of the Saviour, who pointed his followers to the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. But this part of its course was only introduction. Its proper starting-point is the incarnation of the Eternal Word, who dwelt among us and revealed his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth; and next to this, the miracle of the first Pentecost, when the Church took her place as a Christian institution, filled with the Spirit of the glorified Redeemer and entrusted with the conversion of all nations. Jesus Christ, the God-Man and Saviour of the world, is the author of the new creation, the soul and the head of the church, which is his body and his bride. In his person and work lies all the fulness of the Godhead and of renewed humanity, the whole plan of redemption, and the key of all history from the creation of man in the image of God to the resurrection of the body unto everlasting life.

This is the objective conception of church history.

In the subjective sense of the word, considered as theological science and art, church history is the faithful and life-like description of the origin and progress of this heavenly kingdom. It aims to reproduce in thought and to embody in language its outward and inward development down to the present time. It is a continuous commentary on the Lord’s twin parables of the mustard-seed and of the leaven. It shows at once how Christianity spreads over the world, and how it penetrates, transforms, and sanctifies the individual and all the departments and institutions of social life. It thus embraces not only the external fortunes of Christendom, but more especially her inward experience, her religious life, her mental and moral activity, her conflicts with the ungodly world, her sorrows and sufferings, her joys and her triumphs over sin and error. It records the deeds of those heroes of faith “who subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the months of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of aliens.”

From Jesus Christ, since his manifestation in the flesh, an unbroken stream of divine light and life has been and is still flowing, and will continue to flow, in ever-growing volume through the waste of our fallen race; and all that is truly great and good and holy in the annals of church history is due, ultimately, to the impulse of his spirit. He is the fly-wheel in the world’s progress. But he works upon the world through sinful and fallible men, who, while as self-conscious and free agents they are accountable for all their actions, must still, willing or unwilling, serve the great purpose of God. As Christ, in the days of his flesh, was bated, mocked, and crucified, his church likewise is assailed and persecuted by the powers of darkness. The history of Christianity includes therefore a history of Antichrist. With an unending succession of works of saving power and manifestations of divine truth and holiness, it uncovers also a fearful mass of corruption and error. The church militant must, from its very nature, be at perpetual warfare with the world, the flesh, and the devil, both without and within. For as Judas sat among the apostles, so “the man of sin” sits in the temple of God; and as even a Peter denied the Lord, though he afterwards wept bitterly and regained his holy office, so do many disciples in all ages deny him in word and in deed.

But on the other hand, church history shows that God is ever stronger than Satan, and that his kingdom of light puts the kingdom of darkness to shame. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has bruised the head of the serpent. With the crucifixion of Christ his resurrection also is repeated ever anew in the history of his church on earth; and there has never yet been a day without a witness of his presence and power ordering all things according to his holy will. For he has received all power in heaven and in earth for the good of his people, and from his heavenly throne he rules even his foes. The infallible word of promise, confirmed by experience, assures us that all corruptions, heresies, and schisms must, under the guidance of divine wisdom and love, subserve the cause of truth, holiness, and peace; till, at the last judgment, Christ shall make his enemies his footstool, and rule undisputed with the sceptre of righteousness and peace, and his church shall realize her idea and destiny as “the fullness of him that filleth all in all.”

Then will history itself, in its present form, as a struggling and changeful development, give place to perfection, and the stream of time come to rest in the ocean of eternity, but this rest will be the highest form of life and activity in God and for God.


2. Branches of Church History

The kingdom of Christ, in its principle and aim, is as comprehensive as humanity. It is truly catholic or universal, designed and adapted for all nations and ages, for all the powers of the soul, and all classes of society. It breathes into the mind, the heart, and the will a higher, supernatural life, and consecrates the family, the state, science, literature, art, and commerce to holy ends, till finally God becomes all in all. Even the body, and the whole visible creation, which groans for redemption from its bondage to vanity and for the glorious liberty of the children of God, shall share in this universal transformation; for we look for the resurrection of the body, and for the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. But we must not identify the kingdom of God with the visible church or churches, which are only its temporary organs and agencies, more or less inadequate, while the kingdom itself is more comprehensive, and will last for ever.

Accordingly, church history has various departments, corresponding to the different branches of secular history and of natural life. The principal divisions are:

I. The history of missions, or of the spread of Christianity among unconverted nations, whether barbarous or civilized. This work must continue, till “the fullness of the Gentiles shall come in,” and “Israel shall be saved.” The law of the missionary progress is expressed in the two parables of the grain of mustard-seed which grows into a tree, and of the leaven which gradually pervades the whole lump. The first parable illustrates the outward expansion, the second the all-penetrating and transforming power of Christianity. It is difficult to convert a nation; it is more difficult to train it to the high standard of the gospel; it is most difficult to revive and reform a dead or apostate church.

The foreign mission work has achieved three great conquests: first, the conversion of the elect remnant of the Jews, and of civilized Greeks and Romans, in the first three centuries; then the conversion of the barbarians of Northern and Western Europe, in the middle ages; and last, the combined efforts of various churches and societies for the conversion of the savage races in America, Africa, and Australia, and the semi-civilized nations of Eastern Asia, in our own time. The whole non-Christian world is now open to missionary labor, except the Mohammedan, which will likewise become accessible at no distant day.

The domestic or home mission work embraces the revival of Christian life in corrupt or neglected portions of the church in old countries, the supply of emigrants in new countries with the means of grace, and the labors, among the semi-heathenism populations of large cities. Here we may mention the planting of a purer Christianity among the petrified sects in Bible Lands, the labors of the Gustavus Adolphus Society, and the Inner mission of Germany, the American Home Missionary Societies for the western states and territories, the City Mission Societies in London, New York, and other fast-growing cities.

II. The history of persecution by hostile powers; as by Judaism and Heathenism in the first three centuries, and by Mohammedanism in the middle age. This apparent repression of the church proves a purifying process, brings out the moral heroism of martyrdom, and thus works in the end for the spread and establishment of Christianity. “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.” There are cases, however, where systematic and persistent persecution has crushed out the church or reduced it to a mere shadow, as in Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa, under the despotism of the Moslems.

Persecution, like missions, is both foreign and domestic. Besides being assailed from without by the followers of false religions, the church suffers also from intestine wars and violence. Witness the religious wars in France, Holland, and England, the Thirty Years’ War in Germany, all of which grew out of the Protestant Reformation and the Papal Reaction; the crusade against the Albigenses and Waldenses, the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition, the massacre of the Huguenots, the dragonnades of Louis XIV., the crushing out of the Reformation in Bohemia, Belgium, and Southern Europe; but also, on the Protestant side, the persecution of Anabaptists, the burning of Servetus in Geneva the penal laws of the reign of Elizabeth against Catholic and Puritan Dissenters, the hanging of witches and Quakers in New England. More Christian blood has been shed by Christians than by heathens and Mohammedans.

The persecutions of Christians by Christians form the satanic chapters, the fiendish midnight scenes, in the history of the church. But they show also the gradual progress of the truly Christian spirit of religious toleration and freedom. Persecution exhausted ends in toleration, and toleration is a step to freedom. The blood of patriots is the price of civil, the blood of martyrs the price of religious liberty. The conquest is dear, the progress slow and often interrupted, but steady and irresistible. The principle of intolerance is now almost universally disowned in the Christian world, except by ultramontane Romanism (which indirectly reasserts it in the Papal Syllabus of 1864); but a ruling church, allied to the state, under the influence of selfish human nature, and, relying on the arm of flesh rather than the power of truth, is always tempted to impose or retain unjust restrictions on dissenting sects, however innocent and useful they may have proved to be.

In the United States all Christian denominations and sects are placed on a basis of equality before the law, and alike protected by the government in their property and right of public worship, yet self-supporting and self-governing; and, in turn, they strengthen the moral foundations of society by training loyal and virtuous citizens. Freedom of religion must be recognized as one of the inalienable rights of man, which lies in the sacred domain of conscience, beyond the restraint and control of politics, and which the government is bound to protect as much as any other fundamental right. Freedom is liable to abuse, and abuse may be punished. But Christianity is itself the parent of true freedom from the bondage of sin and error, and is the best protector and regulator of freedom.

III. The history of church government and discipline. The church is not only an invisible communion of saints, but at the same time a visible body, needing organs, laws, and forms, to regulate its activity. Into this department of history fall the various forms of church polity: the apostolic, the primitive episcopal, the patriarchal, the papal, the consistorial, the presbyterial, the congregational, etc.; and the history of the law and discipline of the church, and her relation to the state, under all these forms.

IV. The history of worship, or divine service, by which the church celebrates, revives, and strengthens her fellowship with her divine head. This falls into such subdivisions as the history of preaching, of catechisms, of liturgy, of rites and ceremonies, and of religious art, particularly sacred poetry and music.

The history of church government and the history of worship are often put together under the title of Ecclesiastical Antiquities or Archeology, and commonly confined to the patristic age, whence most of the Catholic institutions and usages of the church date their origin. But they may as well be extended to the formative period of Protestantism.

V. The history of christian life, or practical morality and religion: the exhibition of the distinguishing virtues and vices of different ages, of the development of Christian philanthropy, the regeneration of domestic life, the gradual abatement and abolition of slavery and other social evils, the mitigation and diminution of the horrors of war, the reform of civil law and of government, the spread of civil and religious liberty, and the whole progress of civilization, under the influence of Christianity.

VI. The history of theology, or of Christian learning and literature. Each branch of theology — exegetical, doctrinal, ethical, historical, and practical — has a history of its own.

The history of doctrines or dogmas is here the most important, and is therefore frequently treated by itself. Its object is to show how the mind of the church has gradually apprehended and unfolded the divine truths of revelation, how the teachings of scripture have been formulated and shaped into dogmas, and grown into creeds and confessions of faith, or systems of doctrine stamped with public authority. This growth of the church in the knowledge of the infallible word of God is a constant struggle against error, misbelief, and unbelief; and the history of heresies is an essential part of the history of doctrines.

Every important dogma now professed by the Christian church is the result of a severe conflict with error. The doctrine of the holy Trinity, for instance, was believed from the beginning, but it required, in addition to the preparatory labors of the ante-Nicene age, fifty years of controversy, in which the strongest intellects were absorbed, until it was brought to the clear expression of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. The Christological conflict was equally long and intense, until it was brought to a settlement by the council of Chalcedon. The Reformation of the sixteenth century was a continual warfare with popery. The doctrinal symbols of the various churches, from the Apostles’ Creed down to the confessions of Dort and Westminster, and more recent standards, embody the results of the theological battles of the militant church.

The various departments of church history have not a merely external and mechanical, but an organic relation to each other, and form one living whole, and this relation the historian must show. Each period also is entitled to a peculiar arrangement, according to its character. The number, order, and extent of the different divisions must be determined by their actual importance at a given time.


3. Sources of Church History

The sources of church history, the data on which we rely for our knowledge, are partly divine, partly human. For the history of the kingdom of God from the creation to the close of the apostolic age, we have the inspired writings of the Old and New Testaments. But after the death of the apostles we have only human authorities, which of course cannot claim to be infallible. These human sources are partly written, partly unwritten.

I. The written sources include:

(a) Official documents of ecclesiastical and civil authorities: acts of councils and synods, confessions of faith, liturgies, church laws, and the official letters of popes, patriarchs, bishops, and representative bodies.

(b) Private writings of personal actors in the history: the works of the church fathers, heretics, and heathen authors, for the first six centuries; of the missionaries, scholastic and mystic divines, for the middle age; and of the reformers and their opponents, for the sixteenth century. These documents are the richest mines for the historian. They give history in its birth and actual movement. But they must be carefully sifted and weighed; especially the controversial writings, where fact is generally more or less adulterated with party spirit, heretical and orthodox.

(c) Accounts of chroniclers and historians, whether friends or enemies, who were eye-witnesses of what they relate. The value of these depends, of course, on the capacity and credibility of the authors, to be determined by careful criticism. Subsequent historians can be counted among the direct or immediate sources only so far as they have drawn from reliable and contemporary documents, which have either been wholly or partially lost, like many of Eusebius authorities for the period before Constantine, or are inaccessible to historians generally, as are the papal regesta and other documents of the Vatican library.

(d) Inscriptions, especially those on tombs and catacombs, revealing the faith and hope of Christians in times of persecution. Among the ruins of Egypt and Babylonia whole libraries have been disentombed and deciphered, containing mythological and religious records, royal proclamations, historical, astronomical, and poetical compositions, revealing an extinct civilization and shedding light on some parts of Old Testament history.

II. The unwritten sources are far less numerous: church edifices, works of sculpture and painting, and other monuments, religious customs and ceremonies, very important for the history of worship and ecclesiastical art, and significant of the spirit of their age.

The works of art are symbolical embodiments of the various types of Christianity. The plain symbols and crude sculptures of the catacombs correspond to the period of persecution; the basilicas to the Nicene age; the Byzantine churches to the genius of the Byzantine state-churchism; the Gothic cathedrals to the Romano-Germanic catholicism of the middle ages; the renaissance style to the revival of letters.

To come down to more recent times, the spirit of Romanism can be best appreciated amidst the dead and living monuments of Rome, Italy, and Spain. Lutheranism must be studied in Wittenberg, Northern Germany, and Scandinavia; Calvinism in Geneva, France, Holland, and Scotland; Anglicanism at Oxford, Cambridge, and London; Presbyterianism in Scotland and the United States; Congregationalism in England and New England. For in the mother countries of these denominations we generally find not only the largest printed and manuscript sources, but also the architectural, sculptural, sepulchral, and other monumental remains, the natural associations, oral traditions, and living representatives of the past, who, however they may have departed from the faith of their ancestors, still exhibit their national genius, social condition, habits, and customs — often in a far more instructive manner than ponderous printed volumes.


4. Periods of Church History

The purely chronological or annalistic method, though pursued by the learned Baronius and his continuators, is now generally abandoned. It breaks the natural flow of events, separates things which belong together, and degrades history to a mere chronicle.

The centurial plan, which prevailed from Flacius to Mosheim, is an improvement. It allows a much better view of the progress and connection of things. But it still imposes on the history a forced and mechanical arrangement; for the salient points or epochs very seldom coincide with the limits of our centuries. The rise of Constantine, for example, together with the union of church and state, dates from the year 311; that of the absolute papacy, in Hildebrand, from 1049; the Reformation from 1517; the peace of Westphalia took place in 1648; the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers of New England in 1620; the American emancipation in 1776; the French revolution in 1789; the revival of religious life in Germany began in 1817.

The true division must grow out of the actual course of the history itself, and present the different phases of its development or stages of its life. These we call periods or ages. The beginning of a new period is called an epoch, or a stopping and starting point.

In regard to the number and length of periods there is, indeed, no unanimity; the less, on account of the various denominational differences establishing different points of view, especially since the sixteenth century. The Reformation, for instance, has less importance for the Roman church than for the Protestant, and almost none for the Greek; and while the edict of Nantes forms a resting-place in the history of French Protestantism, and the treaty of Westphalia in that of German, neither of these events had as much to do with English Protestantism as the accession of Elizabeth, the rise of Cromwell, the restoration of the Stuarts, and the revolution of 1688.

But, in spite of all confusion and difficulty in regard to details, it is generally agreed to divide the history of Christianity into three principal parts — ancient, medieval, and modern; though there is not a like agreement as to the dividing epochs, or points of departure and points of termination.

I. The history of Ancient Christianity, from the birth of Christ to Gregory the Great. a.d. 1-590.

This is the age of the Greco-Latin church, or of the Christian Fathers. Its field is the countries around the Mediterranean — Western Asia, Northern Africa, and Southern Europe — just the theatre of the old Roman empire and of classic heathendom. This age lays the foundation, in doctrine, government, and worship, for all the subsequent history. It is the common progenitor of all the various confessions.

The Life of Christ and the Apostolic Church are by far the most important sections, and require separate treatment. They form the divine-human groundwork of the church, and inspire, regulate, and correct all subsequent periods.

Then, at the beginning of the fourth century, the accession of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, marks a decisive turn; Christianity rising from a persecuted sect to the prevailing religion of the Greco-Roman empire. In the history of doctrines, the first ecumenical council of Nicaea, falling in the midst of Constantine’s reign, a.d. 325, has the prominence of an epoch.

Here, then, are three periods within the first or patristic era, which we may severally designate as the period of the Apostles, the period of the Martyrs, and the period of the Christian Emperors and Patriarchs.

II. Medieval Christianity, from Gregory I to the Reformation. a.d. 590-1517.

The middle age is variously reckoned — from Constantine, 306 or 311; from the fall of the West Roman empire, 476; from Gregory the Great, 590; from Charlemagne, 800. But it is very generally regarded as closing at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and more precisely, at the outbreak of the Reformation in 1517. Gregory the Great seems to us to form the most proper ecclesiastical point of division. With him, the author of the Anglo-Saxon mission, the last of the church fathers, and the first of the proper popes, begins in earnest, and with decisive success, the conversion of the barbarian tribes, and, at the same time, the development of the absolute papacy, and the alienation of the eastern and western churches.

This suggests the distinctive character of the middle age: the transition of the church from Asia and Africa to Middle and Western Europe, from the Greco-Roman nationality to that of the Germanic, Celtic, and Slavonic races, and from the culture of the ancient classic world to the modern civilization. The great work of the church then was the conversion and education of the heathen barbarians, who conquered and demolished the Roman empire, indeed, but were themselves conquered and transformed by its Christianity. This work was performed mainly by the Latin church, under a firm hierarchical constitution, culminating in the bishop of Rome. The Greek church though she made some conquests among the Slavic tribes of Eastern Europe, particularly in the Russian empire, since grown so important, was in turn sorely pressed and reduced by Mohammedanism in Asia and Africa, the very seat of primitive Christianity, and at last in Constantinople itself; and in doctrine, worship, and organization, she stopped at the position of the ecumenical councils and the patriarchal constitution of the fifth century.

In the middle age the development of the hierarchy occupies the foreground, so that it may be called the church of the Popes, as distinct from the ancient church of the Fathers, and the modern church of the Reformers.

In the growth and decay of the Roman hierarchy three popes stand out as representatives of as many epochs: Gregory I., or the Great (590), marks the rise of absolute papacy; Gregory VII., or Hildebrand (1049), its summit; and Boniface VIII. (1294), its decline. We thus have again three periods in medieval church history. We may briefly distinguish them as the Missionary, the Papal, and the pre- or ante-Reformatory ages of Catholicism.

III. Modern Christianity, from the Reformation of the sixteenth century to the present time. a.d. 1517-1880.

Modern history moves chiefly among the nations of Europe, and from the seventeenth century finds a vast new theatre in North America. Western Christendom now splits into two hostile parts — one remaining on the old path, the other striking out a new one; while the eastern church withdraws still further from the stage of history, and presents a scene of almost undisturbed stagnation, except in modern Russia and Greece. Modern church history is the age of Protestantism in conflict with Romanism, of religious liberty and independence in conflict with the principle of authority and tutelage, of individual and personal Christianity against an objective and traditional church system.

Here again three different periods appear, which may be denoted briefly by the terms, Reformation, Revolution, and Revival.

The sixteenth century, next to the apostolic age the most fruitful and interesting period of church history, is the century of the evangelical renovation of the Church, and the papal counter-reform. It is the cradle of all Protestant denominations and sects, and of modern Romanism.

The seventeenth century is the period of scholastic orthodoxy, polemic confessionalism, and comparative stagnation. The reformatory motion ceases on the continent, but goes on in the mighty Puritanic struggle in England, and extends even into the primitive forests of the American colonies. The seventeenth century is the most fruitful in the church history of England, and gave rise to the various nonconformist or dissenting denominations which were transplanted to North America, and have out-grown some of the older historic churches. Then comes, in the eighteenth century, the Pietistic and Methodistic revival of practical religion in opposition to dead orthodoxy and stiff formalism. In the Roman church Jesuitism prevails but opposed by the half-evangelical Jansenism, and the quasiliberal Gallicanism.

In the second half of the eighteenth century begins the vast overturning of traditional ideas and institutions, leading to revolution in state, and infidelity in church, especially in Roman Catholic France and Protestant Germany. Deism in England, atheism in France, rationalism in Germany, represent the various degrees of the great modern apostasy from the orthodox creeds.

The nineteenth century presents, in part, the further development of these negative and destructive tendencies, but with it also the revival of Christian faith and church life, and the beginnings of a new creation by the everlasting gospel. The revival may be dated from the third centenary of the Reformation, in 1817.

In the same period North America, English and Protestant in its prevailing character, but presenting an asylum for all the nations, churches, and sects of the old world, with a peaceful separation of the temporal and the spiritual power, comes upon the stage like a young giant full of vigor and promise.

Thus we have, in all, nine periods of church history, as follows:

First Period:

The Life of Christ, and the Apostolic church.

From the Incarnation to the death of St. John. a.d. 1-100.

Second Period:

Christianity under persecution in the Roman empire.

From the death of St. John to Constantine, the first Christian emperor. a.d. 100-311.

Third Period:

Christianity in union with the Greco-Roman empire, and amidst the storms of the great migration of nations.

From Constantine the Great to Pope Gregory I. a.d. 311-590.

Fourth Period:

Christianity planted among the Teutonic, Celtic, and Slavonic nations.

From Gregory I. to Hildebrand, or Gregory VII. a.d. 590-1049.

Fifth Period:

The Church under the papal hierarchy, and the scholastic theology.

From Gregory VII. to Boniface VIII. a.d. 1049-1294.

Sixth Period:

The decay of medieval Catholicism, and the preparatory movements for the Reformation.

From Boniface VIII. to Luther. a.d. 1294-1517.

Seventh Period:

The evangelical Reformation, and the Roman Catholic Reaction.

From Luther to the Treaty of Westphalia. a.d. 1517-1648.

Eighth Period:

The age of polemic orthodoxy and exclusive confessionalism, with reactionary and progressive movements.

From the Treaty of Westphalia to the French Revolution. a.d. 1648-1790.

Ninth Period:

The spread of infidelity, and the revival of Christianity in Europe and America, with missionary efforts encircling the globe.

From the French Revolution to the present time. a.d. 1790-1880.

Christianity has thus passed through many stages of its earthly life, and yet has hardly reached the period of full manhood in Christ Jesus. During this long succession of centuries it has outlived the destruction of Jerusalem, the dissolution of the Roman empire, fierce persecutions from without, and heretical corruptions from within, the barbarian invasion, the confusion of the dark ages, the papal tyranny, the shock of infidelity, the ravages of revolution, the attacks of enemies and the errors of friends, the rise and fall of proud kingdoms, empires, and republics, philosophical systems, and social organizations without number. And, behold, it still lives, and lives in greater strength and wider extent than ever; controlling the progress of civilization, and the destinies of the world; marching over the ruins of human wisdom and folly, ever forward and onward; spreading silently its heavenly blessings from generation to generation, and from country to country, to the ends of the earth. It can never die; it will never see the decrepitude of old age; but, like its divine founder, it will live in the unfading freshness of self-renewing youth and the unbroken vigor of manhood to the end of time, and will outlive time itself. Single denominations and sects, human forms of doctrine, government, and worship, after having served their purpose, may disappear and go the way of all flesh; but the Church Universal of Christ, in her divine life and substance, is too strong for the gates of hell. She will only exchange her earthly garments for the festal dress of the Lamb’s Bride, and rise from the state of humiliation to the state of exaltation and glory. Then at the coming of Christ she will reap the final harvest of history, and as the church triumphant in heaven celebrate and enjoy the eternal sabbath of holiness and peace. This will be the endless end of history, as it was foreshadowed already at the beginning of its course in the holy rest of God after the completion of his work of creation.

Vol. 1, Chapter I. Preparation for Christianity in the History of the Jewish and Heathen World

First Period

The Church under the Apostles

From the Birth of Christ to the Death of St. John, a.d. 1-100


J. L. von Mosheim: Historical Commentaries on the State of Christianity in the first three centuries. 1753. Transl. by Vidal and Murdock, vol. i. chs. 1 and 2 (pp. 9-82, of the N. York ed. 1853).

Neander: Allg. Gesch. der christl. Religion und Kirche. Vol. 1st (1842). Einleit. (p. 1-116).

J. P. Lange: Das Apost. Zeitalter. 1853, I. pp. 224-318.

Schaff: Hist. of the Apostolic Church. pp. 137-188 (New York ed.).

Lutterbeck (R. C.): Die N. Testamentlichen Lehrbegriffe, oder Untersuchungen über das Zeitalter der Religionswende, die Vorstufen des Christenthums und die erste Gestaltung desselben. Mainz, 1852, 2 vols.

Döllinger (R. C.): Heidenthum und Judenthum. Vorhalle zur Geschichte des Christenthums. Regensb. 1857. Engl. transl. by N. Darnell under the title: The Gentile and the Jew in the courts of the Temple of Christ: an Introduction to the History of Christianity. Lond. 1862, 2 vols.

Charles Hardwick (d. 1859): Christ and other Masters. London, 4th ed. by Procter, 1875.

M. Schneckenburger (d. 1848): Vorlesungen über N. Testamentliche Zeitgeschichte, aus dessen Nachlass herausgegeben von Löhlein, mit Vorwort von Hundeshagen. Frankf. a M. 1862.

A. Hausrath: N. Testamentliche Zeitgeschichte. Heidelb. 1868 sqq., 2d ed. 1873-’77, 4 vols. The first vol. appeared in a third ed. 1879. The work includes the state of Judaism and heathenism in the time of Christ, the apostolic and the post-apostolic age to Hadrian (a.d. 117). English translation by Poynting and Guenzer, Lond. 1878 sqq.

E. Schürer: Lehrbuch der N. Testamentlichen Zeitgeschichte. Leipz. 1874. Revised and enlarged under the title: Gesch. des jüd. Volkes im Zeitalter Christi. 1886, 2 vols. Engl. translation, Edinb. and N. Y.

H. Schiller: Geschichte des römischen Kaiserreichs unter der Regierung des Nero. Berlin, 1872.

L. Freidländer: Darstellungen aus der Sittengeschichte Roms in der Zeit von Augustus bis zum Ausgang der Antonine. Leipzig, 5th ed., revised, 1881, 3 vols. A standard work.

Geo. P. Fisher (of Yale College, New Haven): The Beginnings of Christianity. N. York, 1877. Chs. II.-VII.

Gerhard Uhlhorn: The Conflict of Christianity with Heathenism. Transl. by Egbert C. Smyth and C. J. H. Ropes. N. York, 1879. Book I. chs. 1 and 2. The German original appeared in a 4th ed., 1884.


8. Central Position of Christ in the History of the World

Map, The Roman Empire.

To see clearly the relation of the Christian religion to the preceding history of mankind, and to appreciate its vast influence upon all future ages, we must first glance at the preparation which existed in the political, moral, and religious condition of the world for the advent of our Saviour.

As religion is the deepest and holiest concern of man, the entrance of the Christian religion into history is the most momentous of all events. It is the end of the old world and the beginning of the new. It was a great idea of Dionysius “the Little” to date our era from the birth of our Saviour. Jesus Christ, the God-Man, the prophet, priest, and king of mankind, is, in fact, the center and turning-point not only of chronology, but of all history, and the key to all its mysteries. Around him, as the sun of the moral universe, revolve at their several distances, all nations and all important events, in the religious life of the world; and all must, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, contribute to glorify his name and advance his cause. The history of mankind before his birth must be viewed as a preparation for his coming, and the history after his birth as a gradual diffusion of his spirit and progress of his kingdom. “All things were created by him, and for him.” He is “the desire of all nations.” He appeared in the “fulness of time,” (Mar_1:15; Gal_4:4) when the process of preparation was finished, and the world’s need of redemption fully disclosed.

This preparation for Christianity began properly with the very creation of man, who was made in the image of God, and destined for communion with him through the eternal Son; and with the promise of salvation which God gave to our first parents as a star of hope to guide them through the darkness of sin and error. (Gen_3:15) Vague memories of a primitive paradise and subsequent fall, and hopes of a future redemption, survive even in the heathen religions.

With Abraham, about nineteen hundred years before Christ, the religious development of humanity separates into the two independent, and, in their compass, very unequal branches of Judaism and heathenism. These meet and unite at last in Christ as the common Saviour, the fulfiller of the types and prophecies, desires and hopes of the ancient world; while at the same time the ungodly elements of both league in deadly hostility against him, and thus draw forth the full revelation of his all-conquering power of truth and love.

As Christianity is the reconciliation and union of God and man in and through Jesus Christ, the God-Man, it must have been preceded by a twofold process of preparation, an approach of God to man, and an approach of man to God. In Judaism the preparation is direct and positive, proceeding from above downwards, and ending with the birth of the Messiah. In heathenism it is indirect and mainly, though not entirely, negative, proceeding from below upwards, and ending with a helpless cry of mankind for redemption. There we have a special revelation or self-communication of the only true God by word and deed, ever growing clearer and plainer, till at last the divine Logos appears in human nature, to raise it to communion with himself; here men, guided indeed by the general providence of God, and lighted by the glimmer of the Logos shining in the darkness, (Joh_1:5; Rom_1:19, Rom_1:20; Rom_2:14, Rom_2:15) yet unaided by direct revelation, and left to “walk in their own ways,” (Act_14:16) “that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after him, and find him.” (Act_17:26, Act_17:27) In Judaism the true religion is prepared for man; in heathenism man is prepared for the true religion. There the divine substance is begotten; here the human forms are moulded to receive it. The former is like the elder son in the parable, who abode in his father’s house; the latter like the prodigal, who squandered his portion, yet at last shuddered before the gaping abyss of perdition, and penitently returned to the bosom of his father’s compassionate love. (Luk_15:11-32) Heathenism is the starry night, full of darkness and fear, but of mysterious presage also, and of anxious waiting for the light of day; Judaism, the dawn, full of the fresh hope and promise of the rising sun; both lose themselves in the sunlight of Christianity, and attest its claim to be the only true and the perfect religion for mankind.

The heathen preparation again was partly intellectual and literary, partly political and social. The former is represented by the Greeks, the latter by the Romans.

Jerusalem, the holy city, Athens, the city of culture, and Rome, the city of power, may stand for the three factors in that preparatory history which ended in the birth of Christianity.

This process of preparation for redemption in the history of the world, the groping of heathenism after the “unknown God” (Act_17:23) and inward peace, and the legal struggle and comforting hope of Judaism, repeat themselves in every individual believer; for man is made for Christ, and “his heart is restless, till it rests in Christ.”


9. Judaism


I. Sources

1. The Canonical Books of the O. and N. Testaments.

2. The Jewish Apocrypha. Best edition by Otto Frid. Fritzsche: Libri Apocryphi Veteris Testamenti Graece. Lips. 1871. German Commentary by Fritzsche and Grimm, Leipz. 1851-’60 (in the “Exeget. Handbuch zum A. T.”); English Com. by Dr. E. C. Bissell, N. York, 1880 (vol. xxv. in Schaff’s ed. of Lange’s Bible-Work).

3. Josephus (a Jewish scholar, priest, and historian, patronized by Vespasian and Titus, b. a.d. 37, d. about 103): Antiquitates Judaicae (Ἀρχαιολογία Ἰουδαΐκή), in 20 books, written first (but not preserved) in Aramaic, and then reproduced in Greek, a.d. 94, beginning with the creation and coming down to the outbreak of the rebellion against the Romans, a.d. 66, important for the post-exilian period. Bellum Judaicum (περὶ τοῦ Ἰουδαΐκοῦ πολέμου), in 7 books, written about 75, from his own personal observation (as Jewish general in Galilee, then as Roman captive, and Roman agent), and coming down to the destruction of Jerusalem, a.d. 70. Contra. Apionem, a defence of the Jewish nation against the calumnies of the grammarian Apion. His Vita or Autobiography was written after a.d. 100. — Editions of Josephus by Hudson, Oxon. 1720, 2 vols. fol.; Havercamp, Amst. 1726, 2 fol.; Oberthür, Lips. 1785, 3 vols.; Richter, Lips. 1827, 6 vols.; Dindorf, Par. 1849, 2 vols.; Imm. Bekker, Lips. 1855, 6 vols. The editions of Havercamp and Dindorf are the best. English translations by Whiston and Traill, often edited, in London, New York, Philadelphia. German translations by Hedio, Ott, Cotta, Demme.

4. Philo of Alexandria (d. after a.d. 40) represents the learned and philosophical (Platonic) Judaism. Best ed. by Mangey, Lond. 1742, 2 fol., and Richter, Lips. 1828, 2 vols. English translation by C. D. Yonge, London, 1854, 4 vols. (in Bohn’s “Ecclesiastical Library”).

5. The Talmud (תַּלְמוּד i.e. Doctrine) represents the traditional, post-exilian, and anti-Christian Judaism. It consists of the Mishna (מִשְׁנָה δευτέρωσις Repetition of the Law), from the end of the second century, and the Gemara (גמָרָא i.e. Perfect Doctrine, from גָמַר to bring to an end). The latter exists in two forms, the Palestinian Gemara, completed at Tiberias about a.d. 350, and the Babylonian Gemara of the sixth century. Best eds. of the Talmud by Bomberg, Ven. 1520 sqq. 12 vols. fol., and Sittenfeld, Berlin, 1862-’68, 12 vols. fol. Latin version of the Mishna by G. Surenhusius, Amst. 1698-1703, 6 vols. fol.; German by J. J. Rabe, Onolzbach, 1760-’63.

6. Monumental Sources: of Egypt (see the works of Champollion, Young, Rosellini, Wilkinson, Birch, Mariette, Lepsius, Bunsen, Ebers, Brugsch, etc.); of Babylon and Assyria (see Botta, Layard, George Smith, Sayce, Schrader, etc.).

7. Greek and Roman authors: Polybius (d. b.c. 125), Diodorus Siculus (contemporary of Caesar), Strabo (d. a.d. 24), Tacitus (d. about 117), Suetonius (d. about 130), Justinus (d. after a.d. 160). Their accounts are mostly incidental, and either simply derived from Josephus, or full of error and prejudice, and hence of very little value.


II. Histories

(a) By Christian authors

Prideaux (Dean of Norwich, d. 1724): The Old and New Testament Connected in the History of the Jews and neighboring nations, from the declension of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah to the time of Christ. Lond. 1715; 11th ed. 1749, 4 vols. (and later eds.). The same in French and German.

J. J. Hess (d. 1828): Geschichte der Israeliten vor den Zeiten Jesu. Zür. 1766 sqq., 12 vols.

Warburton (Bishop of Gloucester, d. 1779): The Divine Legation of Moses Demonstrated. 5th ed. Lond. 1766; 10th ed. by James Nichols, Lond. 1846, 3 vols. 8vo.

Milman (Dean of St. Paul’s, d. 1868): History of the Jews. Lond. 1829, 3 vols.; revised ed. Lond. and N. York, 1865, 3 vols.

J. C. K. Hofmann (Prof. in Erlangen, d. 1878): Weissagung und Erfüllung. Nördl. 1841, 2 vols.

Archibald Alexander (d. at Princeton, 1851): A History of the Israelitish Nation. Philadelphia, 1853. (Popular.)

H. Ewald (d. 1874): Geschichte des Volkes Israel bis Christus. Gött. 1843 sqq. 3d ed. 1864-’68, 7 vols. A work of rare genius and learning, but full of bold conjectures. Engl. transl. by Russell Martineau and J. E. Carpenter. Lond. 1871-’76, 5 vols. Comp. also Ewald’s Prophets, and Poetical Books of the O. T.

E. W. Hengstenberg (d. 1869): Geschichte des Reiches Gottes unter dem Alten Bunde. Berl. 1869-’71, 2 vols. (Posthumous publication.) English transl., Edinburgh (T. & T. Clark), 1871-272, 2 vols. (Name of the translator not given.)

J. H. Kurtz: Geschichte des Alten Bundes. Berlin, 1848-’55, 2 vols. (unfinished). Engl. transl. by Edersheim, Edinb. 1859, in 3 vols. The same: Lehrbuch der heil. Geschichte. Königsb. 6th ed. 1853; also in English, by C. F. Schäffer. Phil. 1855.

P. Cassel: Israel in der Weltgeschichte. Berlin, 1865 (32 pp.).

Joseph Langen (R. C.): Das Judenthum in Palästina zur Zeit Christi. Freiburg i. B. 1866.

G. Weber and H. Holtzmann: Geschichte des Volkes Israel und der Gründung des Christenthums. Leipzig, 1867, 2 vols. (the first vol. by Weber, the second by Holtzmann).

H. Holtzmann: Die Messiasidee zur Zeit Christi, in the “Jahrbücher für Deutsche Theologie,” Gotha, 1867 (vol. xii. pp. 389-411).

F. Hitzig: Geschichte des Volkes Israel von Anbeginn bis zur Eroberung Masada’s im J. 72 nach Chr. Heidelb. 1869, 2 vols.

A. Kuenen (Prof. in Leyden): De godsdienst van Israël tot den ondergang van den joodschen staat. Haarlem, 1870, 2 vols. Transl. into English. The Religion of Israel to the Fall of the Jewish State, by A. H. May. Lond. (Williams & Norgate), 1874-’75, 3 vols. Represents the advanced rationalism of Holland.

A. P. Stanley (Dean of Westminster): Lectures on the History of the Jewish Church. Lond. and N. York, 1863-76, 3 vols. Based on Ewald.

W. Wellhausen: Geschichte Israels. Berlin, 1878, 3d ed. 1886. Transl. by Black and Menzies: Prolegomena to the History of Israel. Edinb. 1885.

F. Schürer: Geschichte des jüd. Volkes im Zeitalter Christi. 1886 sq. 2 vols.

A. Edersheim: Prophecy and History in relation to the Messiah. Lond. 1885.

A. Köhler: Lehrbuch der bibl. Geschichte des A. T. Erlangen, 1875-’88.

C. A. Briggs: Messianic Prophecy. N. York and Edinb. 1886.

V. H. Stanton: The Jewish, and the Christian Messiah. Lond. 1886.

B. Stade: Gesch. des Volkes Israel. Berlin, 1888, 2 vols. Radical.

E. Renan: Hist. du peuple d’Israel. Paris, 1887 sqq., 3 vols. Engl. translation, London, 1888 sqq. Radical.

B. Kittel: Gesch. der Hebräer. Gotha, 1888 sqq. Moderate.

Franz Delitzsch (d. 1890): Messianische Weissagungen in geschichtlicher Folge. Leipzig, 1890. His last work. Translated by Sam. Ives Curtiss (of Chicago), Edinb. and New York, 1892.


(b) By Jewish authors

J. M. Jost: Geschichte der Israeliten seit der Zeit der Maccabäer bis auf unsere Tage. Leipz. 1820-’28, 9 vols. By the same: Geschichte des Judenthums und seiner Secten. 1857-159, 3 vols.

Salvador: Histoire de la domination Romaine en Judée et de la ruine de Jerusalem. Par. 1847, 2 vols.

Raphall: Post-biblical History of the Jews from the close of the O. T. about the year 420 till the destruction of the second Temple in the year 70. Lond. 1856, 2 vols.

Abraham Geiger (a liberal Rabbi at Frankfort on the M.): Das Judenthum und seine Geschichte. Breslau; 2d ed. 1865-’71, 3 vols. With an appendix on Strauss and Renan. Comes down to the 16th century. English transl. by Maurice Mayer. N. York, 1865.

L. Herzfeld: Geschichte des Volkes Jizrael. Nordhausen, 1847-’57, 3 vols. The same work, abridged in one vol. Leipz. 1870.

H. Grätz (Prof. in Breslau): Geschichte der Juden von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart. Leipz. 1854-’70, 11 vols. (to 1848).



“Salvation is of the Jews.” (Joh_4:22. Comp. Luk_24:47; Rom_9:4, Rom_9:5) This wonderful people, whose fit symbol is the burning bush, was chosen by sovereign grace to stand amidst the surrounding idolatry as the bearer of the knowledge of the only true God, his holy law, and cheering promise, and thus to become the cradle of the Messiah. It arose with the calling of Abraham, and the covenant of Jehovah with him in Canaan, the land of promise; grew to a nation in Egypt, the land of bondage; was delivered and organized into a theocratic state on the basis of the law of Sinai by Moses in the wilderness; was led back into Palestine by Joshua; became, after the Judges, a monarchy, reaching the height of its glory in David and Solomon; split into two hostile kingdoms, and, in punishment for internal discord and growing apostasy to idolatry, was carried captive by heathen conquerors; was restored after seventy years’ humiliation to the land of its fathers, but fell again under the yoke of heathen foes; yet in its deepest abasement fulfilled its highest mission by giving birth to the Saviour of the world. “The history of the Hebrew people,” says Ewald, “is, at the foundation, the history of the true religion growing through all the stages of progress unto its consummation; the religion which, on its narrow national territory, advances through all struggles to the highest victory, and at length reveals itself in its full glory and might, to the end that, spreading abroad by its own irresistible energy, it may never vanish away, but may become the eternal heritage and blessing of all nations. The whole ancient world had for its object to seek the true religion; but this people alone finds its being and honor on earth exclusively in the true religion, and thus it enters upon the stage of history.”

Judaism, in sharp contrast with the idolatrous nations of antiquity, was like an oasis in a desert, clearly defined and isolated; separated and enclosed by a rigid moral and ceremonial law. The holy land itself, though in the midst of the three Continents of the ancient world, and surrounded by the great nations of ancient culture, was separated from them by deserts south and east, by sea on the west, and by mountain on the north; thus securing to the Mosaic religion freedom to unfold itself and to fulfil its great work without disturbing influenced from abroad. But Israel carried in its bosom from the first the large promise, that in Abraham’s seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. Abraham, the father of the faithful, Moses, the lawgiver, David, the heroic king and sacred psalmist, Isaiah, the evangelist among the prophets, Elijah the Tishbite, who reappeared with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration to do homage to Jesus, and John the Baptist, the impersonation of the whole Old Testament, are the most conspicuous links in the golden chain of the ancient revelation.

The outward circumstances and the moral and religious condition of the Jews at the birth of Christ would indeed seem at first and on the whole to be in glaring contradiction with their divine destiny. But, in the first place, their very degeneracy proved the need of divine help. In the second place, the redemption through Christ appeared by contrast in the greater glory, as a creative act of God. And finally, amidst the mass of corruption, as a preventive of putrefaction, lived the succession of the true children of Abraham, longing for the salvation of Israel, and ready to embrace Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world.

Since the conquest of Jerusalem by Pompey, b.c. 63 (the year made memorable by the consulship of Cicero. the conspiracy of Catiline, and the birth of Caesar Augustus), the Jews had been subject to the heathen Romans, who heartlessly governed them by the Idumean Herod and his sons, and afterwards by procurators. Under this hated yoke their Messianic hopes were powerfully raised, but carnally distorted. They longed chiefly for a political deliverer, who should restore the temporal dominion of David on a still more splendid scale; and they were offended with the servant form of Jesus, and with his spiritual kingdom. Their morals were outwardly far better than those of the heathen; but under the garb of strict obedience to their law, they concealed great corruption. They are pictured in the New Testament as a stiff-necked, ungrateful, and impenitent race, the seed of the serpent, a generation of vipers. Their own priest and historian, Josephus, who generally endeavored to present his countrymen to the Greeks and Romans in the most favorable light, describes them as at that time a debased and wicked people, well deserving their fearful punishment in the destruction of Jerusalem.

As to religion, the Jews, especially after the Babylonish captivity, adhered most tenaciously to the letter of the law, and to their traditions and ceremonies, but without knowing the spirit and power of the Scriptures. They cherished a bigoted horror of the heathen, and were therefore despised and hated by them as misanthropic, though by their judgment, industry, and tact, they were able to gain wealth and consideration in all the larger cities of the Roman empire.

After the time of the Maccabees (b.c. 150), they fell into three mutually hostile sects or parties, which respectively represent the three tendencies of formalism, skepticism, and mysticism; all indicating the approaching dissolution of the old religion and the dawn of the new. We may compare them to the three prevailing schools of Greek philosophy — the Stoic, the Epicurean, and the Platonic, and also to the three sects of Mohammedanism — the Sunnis, who are traditionalists, the Sheas, who adhere to the Koran, and the Sufis or mystics, who seek true religion in “internal divine sensation.”

1. The Pharisees, the “separate,” were, so to speak, the Jewish Stoics. They represented the traditional orthodoxy and stiff formalism, the legal self-righteousness and the fanatical bigotry of Judaism. They had most influence with the people and the women, and controlled the public worship. They confounded piety with theoretical orthodoxy. They overloaded the holy Scriptures with the traditions of the elders so as to make the Scriptures “of none effect.” They analyzed the Mosaic law to death, and substituted a labyrinth of casuistry for a living code. “They laid heavy burdens and grievous to be borne on men’s shoulders,” and yet they themselves would “not move them with their fingers.” In the New Testament they bear particularly the reproach of hypocrisy; with, of course, illustrious exceptions, like Nicodemus, Gamaliel, and his disciple, Paul.

2. The less numerous Sadducees were skeptical, rationalistic, and worldly-minded, and held about the same position in Judaism as the Epicureans and the followers of the New Academy in Greek and Roman heathendom. They accepted the written Scriptures (especially the Pentateuch), but rejected the oral traditions, denied the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul, the existence of angels and spirits, and the doctrine of an all-ruling providence. They numbered their followers among the rich, and had for some time possession of the office of the high-priest. Caiaphas belonged to their party.

The difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees reappears among modern Jews, who are divided into the orthodox and the liberal or rationalistic parties.

3. The Essenes (whom we know only from Philo and Josephus) were not a party, but a mystic and ascetic order or brotherhood, and lived mostly in monkish seclusion in villages and in the desert Engedi on the Dead Sea. They numbered about 4,000 members. With an arbitrary, allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament, they combined some foreign theosophic elements, which strongly resemble the tenets of the new Pythagorean and Platonic schools, but were probably derived (like the Gnostic and Manichaean theories) from eastern religions, especially from Parsism. They practised communion of goods, wore white garments, rejected animal food, bloody sacrifices, oaths, slavery, and (with few exceptions) marriage, and lived in the utmost simplicity, hoping thereby to attain a higher degree of holiness. They were the forerunners of Christian monasticism.

The sect of the Essenes came seldom or never into contact with Christianity under the Apostles, except in the shape of a heresy at Colossae. But the Pharisees and Sadducees, particularly the former, meet us everywhere in the Gospels as bitter enemies of Jesus, and hostile as they are to each other, unite in condemning him to that death of the cross, which ended in the glorious resurrection, and became the foundation of spiritual life to believing Gentiles as well as Jews.


10. The Law and the Prophecy

Degenerate and corrupt though the mass of Judaism was, yet the Old Testament economy was the divine institution preparatory to the Christian redemption, and as such received deepest reverence from Christ and his apostles, while they sought by terrible rebuke to lead its unworthy representatives to repentance. It therefore could not fail of its saving effect on those hearts which yielded to its discipline, and conscientiously searched the Scriptures of Moses and the prophets.

Law and prophecy are the two great elements of the Jewish religion, and make it a direct divine introduction to Christianity, “the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

1. The law of Moses was the clearest expression of the holy will of God before the advent of Christ. The Decalogue is a marvel of ancient legislation, and in its two tables enjoins the sum and substance of all true piety and morality — supreme love to God, and love to our neighbor. It set forth the ideal of righteousness, and was thus fitted most effectually to awaken the sense of man’s great departure from it, the knowledge of sin and guilt. It acted as a schoolmaster to lead men to Christ that they might be justified by faith.” (Gal_3:24)

The same sense of guilt and of the need of reconciliation was constantly kept alive by daily sacrifices, at first in the tabernacle and afterwards in the temple, and by the whole ceremonial law, which, as a wonderful system of types and shadows, perpetually pointed to the realities of the new covenant, especially to the one all-sufficient atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

God in his justice requires absolute obedience and purity of heart under promise of life and penalty of death. Yet he cannot cruelly sport with man; he is the truthful faithful, and merciful God. In the moral and ritual law, therefore, as in a shell, is hidden the sweet kernel of a promise, that he will one day exhibit the ideal of righteousness in living form, and give the penitent sinner pardon for all his transgressions and the power to fulfil the law. Without such assurance the law were bitter irony.

As regards the law, the Jewish economy was a religion of repentance.

2. But it was at the same time, as already, hinted, the vehicle of the divine promise of redemption, and, as such, a religion of hope. While the Greeks and Romans put their golden age in the past, the Jews looked for theirs in the future. Their whole history, their religious, political, and social institutions and customs pointed to the coming of the Messiah, and the establishment of his kingdom on earth.

Prophecy, or the gospel under the covenant of the law, is really older than the law, which was added afterwards and came in between the promise and its fulfilment, between sin and redemption, between the disease and the cure. Prophecy begins in paradise with the promise of the serpent-bruiser immediately after the fall. It predominates in the patriarchal age, especially in the life of Abraham, whose piety has the corresponding character of trust and faith; and Moses, the lawgiver, was at the same time a prophet pointing the people to a greater successor. (Deu_18:15) Without the comfort of the Messianic promise, the law must have driven the earnest soul to despair. From the time of Samuel, some eleven centuries before Christ, prophecy, hitherto sporadic, took an organized form in a permanent prophetical office and order. In this form it accompanied the Levitical priesthood and the Davidic dynasty down to the Babylonish captivity, survived this catastrophe, and directed the return of the people and the rebuilding of the temple; interpreting and applying the law, reproving abuses in church and state, predicting the terrible judgments and the redeeming grace of God, warning and punishing, comforting and encouraging, with an ever plainer reference to the coming Messiah, who should redeem Israel and the world from sin and misery, and establish a kingdom of peace and righteousness on earth.

The victorious reign of David and the peaceful reign of Solomon furnish, for Isaiah and his successors, the historical and typical ground for a prophetic picture of a far more glorious future, which, unless thus attached to living memories and present circumstances, could not have been understood. The subsequent catastrophe and the sufferings of the captivity served to develop the idea of a Messiah atoning for the sins of the people and entering through suffering into glory.

The prophetic was an extraordinary office, serving partly to complete, partly to correct the regular, hereditary priesthood, to prevent it from stiffening into monotonous formality, and keep it in living flow. The prophets were, so to speak, the Protestants of the ancient covenant, the ministers of the spirit and of immediate communion with God, in distinction from the ministers of the letter and of traditional and ceremonial mediation.

The flourishing period of our canonical prophecy began with the eighth century before Christ, some seven centuries after Moses, when Israel was suffering under Assyrian oppression. In this period before the captivity, Isaiah (“the salvation of God”), who appeared in the last years of king Uzziah, about ten years before the founding of Rome, is the leading figure; and around him Micah, Joel, and Obadiah in the kingdom of Judah, and Hosea, Amos, and Jonah in the kingdom of Israel, are grouped. Isaiah reached the highest elevation of prophecy, and unfolds feature by feature a picture of the Messiah — springing from the house of David, preaching the glad tidings to the poor, healing the broken-hearted, opening the eyes to the blind, setting at liberty the captives, offering himself as a lamb to the slaughter, bearing the sins of the people, dying the just for the unjust, triumphing over death and ruling as king of peace over all nations — a picture which came to its complete fulfilment in one person, and one only, Jesus of Nazareth. He makes the nearest approach to the cross, and his book is the Gospel of the Old Testament. In the period of the Babylonian exile, Jeremiah (i.e. “the Lord casts down”) stands chief. He is the prophet of sorrow, and yet of the new covenant of the Spirit. In his denunciations of priests and false prophets, his lamentations over Jerusalem, his holy grief, his bitter persecution he resembles the mission and life of Christ. He remained in the land of his fathers, and sang his lamentation on the ruins of Jerusalem; while Ezekiel warned the exiles on the river Chebar against false prophets and carnal hopes, urged them to repentance, and depicted the new Jerusalem and the revival of the dry bones of the people by the breath of God; and Daniel at the court of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon saw in the spirit the succession of the four empires and the final triumph of the eternal kingdom of the Son of Man. The prophets of the restoration are Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. With Malachi who lived to the time of Nehemiah, the Old Testament prophecy ceased, and Israel was left to himself four hundred years, to digest during this period of expectation the rich substance of that revelation, and to prepare the birth-place for the approaching redemption.

3. Immediately before the advent of the Messiah the whole Old Testament, the law and the prophets, Moses and Isaiah together, reappeared for a short season embodied in John the Baptist, and then in unrivalled humility disappeared as the red dawn in the splendor of the rising sun of the new covenant. This remarkable man, earnestly preaching repentance in the wilderness and laying the axe at the root of the tree, and at the same time comforting with prophecy, and pointing to the atoning Lamb of God, was indeed, as the immediate forerunner of the New Testament economy, and the personal friend of the heavenly Bridegroom, the greatest of them that were born of woman; yet in his official character as the representative of the ancient preparatory economy he stands lower than the least in that kingdom of Christ, which is infinitely more glorious than all its types and shadows in the past.

This is the Jewish religion, as it flowed from the fountain of divine revelation and lived in the true Israel, the spiritual children of Abraham, in John the Baptist, his parents and disciples, in the mother of Jesus, her kindred and friends, in the venerable Simeon, and the prophetess Anna, in Lazarus and his pious sisters, in the apostles and the first disciples, who embraced Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfiller of the law and the prophets, the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, and who were the first fruits of the Christian Church.

Vol. 1, Chapter I (Cont’d) – Heathenism



I. Sources

The works of the Greek and Roman Classics from Homer to Virgil and the age of the Antonines.

The monuments of Antiquity.

The writings of the early Christian Apologists, especially Justin Martyr: Apologia I. and II.; Tertullian: Apologeticus; Minucius Felix: Octavius; Eusebius: Praeparatio Evangelica; and Augustine (d. 430): De Civitate Dei (the first ten books).


II. Later Works

Is. Vossius: De theologia gentili et physiolog. Christ. Frcf. 1675, 2 vols.

Creuzer (d. 1858): Symbolik und Mythologie der alien Völker. Leipz. 3d ed, 1837 sqq. 3 vols.

Tholuck (d. 1877): Das Wesen und der sittliche Einfluss des Heidenthums, besonders unter den Griechen und Römern, mit Hinsicht auf das Christenthum. Berlin, 1823. In Neander’s Denkwürdigkeiten, vol. i. of the 1st ed. Afterwards separately printed. English translation by Emerson in, “Am. Bibl. Repository” for 1832.

Tzschirner (d. 1828): Der Fall des Heidenthums, ed. by Niedner. Leip, 1829, 1st vol.

O. Müller (d. 1840): Prolegomena zu einer wissenschaftl. Mythologie. Gött. 1825. Transl. into English by J. Leitch. Lond. 1844.

Hegel (d. 1831): Philosphie der Religion. Berl. 1837, 2 vols.

Stuhr: Allgem. Gesch. der Religionsformen der heidnischen Völker. Berl. 1836, 1837, 2 vols. (vol. 2d on the Hellenic Religion).

Hartung: Die Religion der Römer. Erl. 1836, 2 vols.

C. F. Nägelsbach: Homerische Theologie. Nürnb. 1840; 2d ed. 1861. The same: Die nach-homerische Theologie des Griechischen Volksglaubens bis auf Alexander. Nürnb. 1857.

Sepp (R. C.): Das Heidenthum und dessen Bedeutung für das Christenthum. Regensb. 1853, 3 vols.

Wuttke: Geschichte des Heidenthums in Beziehung auf Religion, Wissen, Kunst, Sittlichkeit und Staatsleben. Bresl. 1852 sqq. 2 vols.

Schelling (d. 1854): Einleitung in die Philosophie der Mythologie. Stuttg. 1856; and Philosophie der Mythologie. Stuttg. 1857.

Maurice (d. 1872): The Religions of the World in their Relations to Christianity. Lond. 1854 (reprinted in Boston).

Trench: Hulsean Lectures for 1845-’46. No. 2: Christ the Desire of all Nations, or the Unconscious Prophecies of Heathendom (a commentary on the star of the wise men, Mat_2:1-23). Cambr. 4th ed. 1854 (also 1850).

L. Preller: Griechische Mythologie. Berlin, 1854, 3d ed. 1875, 2 vols. By the same; Römische Mythologie. Berlin, 1858; 3d ed., by Jordan, 1881-83, 2 vols.

M. W. Heffter: Griech. und Röm. Mythologie. Leipzig, 1854.

Döllinger: Heidenthum und Judenthum, quoted in §8.

C. Schmidt: Essai historique sur la société civil dans le monde romain et sur sa transformation par le christianisme. Paris, 1853.

C. G. Seibert: Griechenthum und Christenthum, oder der Vorhof des Schönen und das Heiligthum der Wahrheit. Barmen, 1857.

Fr. Fabri: Die Entstehung des Heidenthums und die Aufgabe der Heidenmission. Barmen, 1859.

W. E. Gladstone (the English statesman): Studies on Homer and Homeric Age. Oxf. 1858, 3 vols. (vol. ii. Olympus; or the Religion of the Homeric Age). The same: Juventus Mundi: the Gods and Men of the Heroic Age. 2d ed. Lond. 1870. (Embodies the results of the larger work, with several modifications in the ethnological and mythological portions.)

W. S. Tyler (Prof. in Amherst Coll., Mass.): The Theology of the Greek Poets. Boston, 1867.

B. F. Cocker: Christianity and Greek Philosophy; or the Relation between Reflective Thought in Greece and the Positive Teaching of Christ and his Apostles. N. York, 1870.

Edm. Spiess: Logos spermaticós. Parallelstellen zum N. Text. aus den Schriften der alten Griechen. Ein Beitrag zur christl. Apologetik und zur vergleichenden Religionsforschung. Leipz. 1871.

G. Boissier: La religion romaine d’Auguste aux Antonins. Paris, 1884, 2 vols.

J Reville: La religion à Rome sous les Sévères. Paris, 1886.

Comp. the histories of Greece by Thirlwall, Grote, and Curtius; the histories of Rome by Gibbon, Niebuhr, Arnold, Merivale, Schwegler, Ihne, Duruy (transl. from the French by W. J. Clarke), and Mommsen. Ranke’s Weltgeschichte. Th. iii. 1882. Schiller’s Gesch. der römischen Kaiserzeit. 1882.



Heathenism is religion in its wild growth on the soil of fallen human nature, a darkening of the original consciousness of God, a deification of the rational and irrational creature, and a corresponding corruption of the moral sense, giving the sanction of religion to natural and unnatural vices.

Even the religion of Greece, which, as an artistic product of the imagination, has been justly styled the religion of beauty, is deformed by this moral distortion. It utterly lacks the true conception of sin and consequently the true conception of holiness. It regards sin, not as a perverseness of will and an offence against the gods, but as a folly of the understanding and an offence against men, often even proceeding from the gods themselves; for “Infatuation,” or Moral Blindness (Ἄτη), is a “daughter of Jove,” and a goddess, though cast from Olympus, and the source of all mischief upon earth. Homer knows no devil, but he put, a devilish element into his deities. The Greek gods, and also the Roman gods, who were copied from the former, are mere men and women, in whom Homer and the popular faith saw and worshipped the weaknesses and vices of the Grecian character, as well as its virtues, in magnified forms. The gods are born, but never die. They have bodies and senses, like mortals, only in colossal proportions. They eat and drink, though only nectar and ambrosia. They are awake and fall asleep. They travel, but with the swiftness of thought. They mingle in battle. They cohabit with human beings, producing heroes or demigods. They are limited to time and space. Though sometimes honored with the attributes of omnipotence and omniscience, and called holy and just, yet they are subject to an iron fate (Moira), fall under delusion, and reproach each other with folly and crime. Their heavenly happiness is disturbed by all the troubles of earthly life. Even Zeus or Jupiter, the patriarch of the Olympian family, is cheated by his sister and wife Hera (Juno), with whom he had lived three hundred years in secret marriage before he proclaimed her his consort and queen of the gods, and is kept in ignorance of the events before Troy. He threatens his fellows with blows and death, and makes Olympus tremble when he shakes his locks in anger. The gentle Aphrodite or Venus bleeds from a spear-wound on her finger. Mars is felled with a stone by Diomedes. Neptune and Apollo have to serve for hire and are cheated. Hephaestus limps and provokes an uproarious laughter. The gods are involved by their marriages in perpetual jealousies and quarrels. They are full of envy and wrath, hatred and lust prompt men to crime, and provoke each other to lying, and cruelty, perjury and adultery. The Iliad and Odyssey, the most popular poems of the Hellenic genius, are a chronique scandaleuse of the gods. Hence Plato banished them from his ideal Republic. Pindar, Aeschylus, and Sophocles also rose to loftier ideas of the gods and breathed a purer moral atmosphere; but they represented the exceptional creed of a few, while Homer expressed the popular belief. Truly we have no cause to long with Schiller for the return of the “gods of Greece,” but would rather join the poet in his joyful thanksgiving:

“Einen zu bereichern unter allen,

Musste diese Götterwelt vergehen.”

Notwithstanding this essential apostasy from truth and holiness, heathenism was religion, a groping after “the unknown God.” By its superstition it betrayed the need of faith. Its polytheism rested on a dim monotheistic background; it subjected all the gods to Jupiter, and Jupiter himself to a mysterious fate. It had at bottom the feeling of dependence on higher powers and reverence for divine things. It preserved the memory of a golden age and of a fall. It had the voice of conscience, and a sense, obscure though it was, of guilt. It felt the need of reconciliation with deity, and sought that reconciliation by prayer, penance, and sacrifice. Many of its religious traditions and usages were faint echoes of the primal religion; and its mythological dreams of the mingling of the gods with men, of demigods, of Prometheus delivered by Hercules from his helpless sufferings, were unconscious prophecies and fleshly anticipations of Christian truths.

This alone explains the great readiness with which heathens embraced the gospel, to the shame of the Jews. (Comp. Mat_8:10; Mat_15:28. Luk_7:9. Act_10:35)

There was a spiritual Israel scattered throughout the heathen world, that never received the circumcision of the flesh, but the unseen circumcision of the heart by the hand of that Spirit which bloweth where it listeth, and is not bound to any human laws and to ordinary means. The Old Testament furnishes several examples of true piety outside of the visible communion with the Jewish church, in the persons of Melchisedec, the friend of Abraham, the royal priest, the type of Christ; Jethro, the priest of Midian; Rahab, the Canaanite woman and hostess of Joshua and Caleb; Ruth, the Moabitess and ancestress of our Saviour; King Hiram, the friend of David; the queen of Sheba, who came to admire the wisdom of Solomon; Naaman the Syrian; and especially Job, the sublime sufferer, who rejoiced in the hope of his Redeemer.

The elements of truth, morality, and piety scattered throughout ancient heathenism, may be ascribed to three Sources. In the first place, man, even in his fallen state, retains some traces of the divine image, a knowledge of God, however weak, a moral sense or conscience, and a longing for union with the Godhead, for truth and for righteousness. In this view we may, with Tertullian, call the beautiful and true sentences of a Socrates, a Plato, an Aristotle, of Pindar, Sophocles, Cicero, Virgil, Seneca, Plutarch, “the testimonies of a soul constitutionally Christian,” of a nature predestined to Christianity. Secondly, some account must be made of traditions and recollections, however faint, coming down from the general primal revelations to Adam and Noah. But the third and most important source of the heathen anticipations of truth is the all-ruling providence of God, who has never left himself without a witness. Particularly must we consider, with the ancient Greek fathers, the influence of the divine Logos before his incarnation, who was the tutor of mankind, the original light of reason, shining in the darkness and lighting every man, the sower scattering in the soil of heathendom the seeds of truth, beauty, and virtue. (Comp. Joh_1:4, Joh_1:5, Joh_1:9, Joh_1:10)

The flower of paganism, with which we are concerned here, appears in the two great nations of classic antiquity, Greece and Rome. With the language, morality, literature, and religion of these nations, the apostles came directly into contact, and through the whole first age the church moves on the basis of these nationalities. These, together with the Jews, were the chosen nations of the ancient world, and shared the earth among them. The Jews were chosen for things eternal, to keep the sanctuary of the true religion. The Greeks prepared the elements of natural culture, of science and art, for the use of the church. The Romans developed the idea of law, and organized the civilized world in a universal empire, ready to serve the spiritual universality of the gospel. Both Greeks and Romans were unconscious servants of Jesus Christ, “the unknown God.”

These three nations, by nature at bitter enmity among themselves, joined hands in the superscription on the cross, where the holy name and the royal title of the Redeemer stood written, by the command of the heathen Pilate, “in Hebrew and Greek and Latin.” (Joh_19:20)


12. Grecian Literature and the Roman Empire

The literature of the ancient Greeks and the universal empire of the Romans were, next to the Mosaic religion, the chief agents in preparing the world for Christianity. They furnished the human forms, in which the divine substance of the gospel, thoroughly prepared in the bosom of the Jewish theocracy, was moulded. They laid the natural foundation for the supernatural edifice of the kingdom of heaven. God endowed the Greeks and Romans with the richest natural gifts, that they might reach the highest civilization possible without the aid of Christianity, and thus both provide the instruments of human science, art, and law for the use of the church, and yet at the same time show the utter impotence of these alone to bless and save the world.

The Greeks, few in number, like the Jews, but vastly more important in history than the numberless hordes of the Asiatic empires, were called to the noble task of bringing out, under a sunny sky and with a clear mind, the idea of humanity in its natural vigor and beauty, but also in its natural imperfection. They developed the principles of science and art. They liberated the mind from the dark powers of nature and the gloomy broodings of the eastern mysticism. They rose to the clear and free consciousness of manhood, boldly investigated the laws of nature and of spirit, and carried out the idea of beauty in all sorts of artistic forms. In poetry, sculpture, architecture, painting, philosophy, rhetoric, historiography, they left true masterpieces, which are to this day admired and studied as models of form and taste.

All these works became truly valuable and useful only in the hands of the Christian church, to which they ultimately fell. Greece gave the apostles the most copious and beautiful language to express the divine truth of the Gospel, and Providence had long before so ordered political movements as to spread that language over the world and to make it the organ of civilization and international intercourse, as the Latin was in the middle ages, as the French was in the eighteenth century and as the English is coming to be in the nineteenth. “Greek,” says Cicero, “is read in almost all nations; Latin is confined by its own narrow boundaries.” Greek schoolmasters and artists followed the conquering legions of Rome to Gaul and Spain. The youthful hero Alexander the Great, a Macedonian indeed by birth, yet an enthusiastic admirer of Homer, an emulator of Achilles, a disciple of the philosophic world-conqueror, Aristotle, and thus the truest Greek of his age, conceived the sublime thought of making Babylon the seat of a Grecian empire of the world; and though his empire fell to pieces at his untimely death, yet it had already carried Greek letters to the borders of India, and made them a common possession of all civilized nations. What Alexander had begun Julius Caesar completed. Under the protection of the Roman law the apostles could travel everywhere and make themselves understood through the Greek language in every city of the Roman domain.

The Grecian philosophy, particularly the systems of Plato and Aristotle, formed the natural basis for scientific theology; Grecian eloquence, for sacred oratory; Grecian art, for that of the Christian church. Indeed, not a few ideas and maxims of the classics tread on the threshold of revelation and sound like prophecies of Christian truth; especially the spiritual soarings of Plato, the deep religious reflections of Plutarch, the sometimes almost Pauline moral precepts of Seneca. To many of the greatest church fathers, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and in some measure even to Augustine, Greek philosophy was a bridge to the Christian faith, a scientific schoolmaster leading them to Christ. Nay, the whole ancient Greek church rose on the foundation of the Greek language and nationality, and is inexplicable without them.

Here lies the real reason why the classical literature is to this day made the basis of liberal education throughout the Christian world. Youth are introduced to the elementary forms of science and art, to models of clear, tasteful style, and to self-made humanity at the summit of intellectual and artistic culture, and thus they are at the same time trained to the scientific apprehension of the Christian religion, which appeared when the development of Greek and Roman civilization had reached its culmination and began already to decay. The Greek and Latin languages, as the Sanskrit and Hebrew, died in their youth and were embalmed and preserved from decay in the immortal works of the classics. They still furnish the best scientific terms for every branch of learning and art and every new invention. The primitive records of Christianity have been protected against the uncertainties of interpretation incident upon the constant changes of a living language.

But aside from the permanent value of the Grecian literature, the glory of its native land had, at the birth of Christ, already irrecoverably departed. Civil liberty and independence had been destroyed by internal discord and corruption. Philosophy had run down into skepticism and refined materialism. Art had been degraded to the service of levity and sensuality. Infidelity or superstition had supplanted sound religious sentiment. Dishonesty and licentiousness reigned among high and low.

This hopeless state of things could not but impress the more earnest and noble souls with the emptiness of all science and art, and the utter insufficiency of this natural culture to meet the deeper wants of the heart. It must fill them with longings for a new religion.

The Romans were the practical and political nation of antiquity. Their calling was to carry out the idea of the state and of civil law, and to unite the nations of the world in a colossal empire, stretching from the Euphrates to the Atlantic, and from the Libyan desert to the banks of the Rhine. This empire embraced the most fertile and civilized countries of Asia, Africa, and Europe, and about one hundred millions of human beings, perhaps one-third of the whole race at the time of the introduction of Christianity. To this outward extent corresponds its historical significance. The history of every ancient nation ends, says Niebuhr, as the history of every modern nation begins, in that of Rome. Its history has therefore a universal interest; it is a vast storehouse of the legacies of antiquity. If the Greeks had, of all nations, the deepest mind, and in literature even gave laws to their conquerors, the Romans had the strongest character, and were born to rule the world without. This difference of course reached even into the moral and religious life of the two nations. Was the Greek, mythology the work of artistic fantasy and a religion of poesy, so was the Roman the work of calculation adapted to state purposes, political and utilitarian, but at the same time solemn, earnest, and energetic. “The Romans had no love of beauty, like the Greeks. They held no communion with nature, like the Germans. Their one idea was Rome — not ancient, fabulous, poetical Rome, but Rome warring and conquering; and orbis terrarum domina. S. P. Q. R. is inscribed on almost every page of their literature.”

The Romans from the first believed themselves called to govern the world. They looked upon all foreigners — not as barbarians, like the cultured Greeks, but — as enemies to be conquered and reduced to servitude. War and triumph were their highest conception of human glory and happiness. The

“Tu, regere imperio populos, Romane, memento!”

had been their motto, in fact, long before Virgil thus gave it form. The very name of the urbs aeterna, and the characteristic legend of its founding, prophesied its future. In their greatest straits the Romans never for a moment despaired of the commonwealth. With vast energy, profound policy, unwavering consistency, and wolf-like rapacity, they pursued their ambitious schemes, and became indeed the lords, but also, as their greatest historian, Tacitus, says, the insatiable robbers of the world.

Having conquered the world by the sword, they organized it by law, before whose majesty every people had to bow, and beautified it by the arts of peace. Philosophy, eloquence, history, and poetry enjoyed a golden age under the setting sun of the republic and the rising sun of the empire, and extended their civilizing influence to the borders of barbarianism. Although not creative in letters and fine arts, the Roman authors were successful imitators of Greek philosophers, orators, historians, and poets. Rome was converted by Augustus from a city of brick huts into a city of marble palaces. The finest paintings and sculptures were imported from Greece, triumphal arches and columns were erected on public places, and the treasures of all parts of the world were made tributary to, the pride, beauty, and luxury of the capital. The provinces caught the spirit of improvement, populous cities sprung up, and the magnificent temple of Jerusalem was rebuilt by the ambitious extravagance of Herod. The rights of persons and property were well protected. The conquered nations, though often and justly complaining of the rapacity of provincial governors, yet, on the whole, enjoyed greater security against domestic feuds and foreign invasion, a larger share of social comfort, and rose to a higher degree of secular civilization. The ends of the empire were brought into military, commercial, and literary communication by carefully constructed roads, the traces of which still exist in Syria, on the Alps, on the banks of the Rhine. The facilities and security of travel were greater in the reign of the Caesars than in any subsequent period before the nineteenth century. Five main lines went out from Rome to the extremities of the empire, and were connected at seaports with maritime routes. “We may travel,” says a Roman writer, “at all hours, and sail from east to west.” Merchants brought diamonds from the East, ambers from the shores of the Baltic, precious metals from Spain, wild animals from Africa, works of art from Greece, and every article of luxury, to the market on the banks of the Tiber, as they now do to the banks of the Thames. The Apocalyptic seer, in his prophetic picture of the downfall of the imperial mistress of the world, gives prominence to her vast commerce: “And the merchants of the earth,” he says, “weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stone, and pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet; and all thine wood, and every vessel of ivory, and every vessel made of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble; and cinnamon, and spice, and incense, and ointment, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and cattle, and sheep; and merchandise of horses and chariots and slaves; and souls of men. And the fruits that thy soul desired are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and sumptuous are perished from thee, and men shall find them no more at all.” (Rev_18:11-14)

Heathen Rome lived a good while after this prediction, but, the causes of decay were already at work in the first century. The immense extension and outward prosperity brought with it a diminution of those domestic and civil virtues which at first so highly distinguished the Romans above the Greeks. The race of patriots and deliverers, who came from their ploughs to the public service, and humbly returned again to the plough or the kitchen, was extinct. Their worship of the gods, which was the root of their virtue, had sunk to mere form, running either into the most absurd superstitions, or giving place to unbelief, till the very priests laughed each other in the face when they met in the street. Not unfrequently we find unbelief and superstition united in the same persons, according to the maxim that all extremes touch each other. Man must believe something, and worship either God or the devil. Magicians and necromancers abounded, and were liberally patronized. The ancient simplicity and contentment were exchanged for boundless avarice and prodigality. Morality and chastity, so beautifully symbolized in the household ministry of the virgin Vesta, yielded to vice and debauchery. Amusement came to be sought in barbarous fights of beasts and gladiators, which not rarely consumed twenty thousand human lives in a single month. The lower classes had lost all nobler feeling, cared for nothing but “panem et circenses,” and made the proud imperial city on the Tiber a slave of slaves. The huge empire of Tiberius and of Nero was but a giant body without a soul, going, with steps slow but sure, to final dissolution. Some of the emperors were fiendish tyrants and monsters of iniquity; and yet they were enthroned among the gods by a vote of the Senate, and altars and temples were erected for their worship. This characteristic custom began with Caesar, who even during his lifetime was honored as “Divus Julius” for his brilliant victories, although they cost more than a million of lives slain and another million made captives and slaves. The dark picture which St. Paul, in addressing the Romans, draws of the heathenism of his day, is fully sustained by Seneca, Tacitus, Juvenal, Persius, and other heathen writers of that age, and shows the absolute need of redemption. “The world,” says Seneca, in a famous passage, “is full of crimes and vices. More are committed than can be cured by force. There is an immense struggle for iniquity. Crimes are no longer bidden, but open before the eyes. Innocence is not only rare, but nowhere.”

Thus far the negative. On the other hand, the universal empire of Rome was a positive groundwork for the universal empire of the gospel. It served as a crucible, in which all contradictory and irreconcilable peculiarities of the ancient nations and religions were dissolved into the chaos of a new creation. The Roman legions razed the partition-walls among the ancient nations, brought the extremes of the civilized world together in free intercourse, and united north and south and east and west in the bonds of a common language and culture, of common laws and customs. Thus they evidently, though unconsciously, opened the way for the rapid and general spread of that religion which unites all nations in one family of God by the spiritual bond of faith and love.

The idea of a common humanity, which underlies all the distinctions of race, society and education, began to dawn in the heathen mind, and found expression in the famous line of Terentius, which was received with applause in the theatre:

“Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto.”

This spirit of humanity breathes in Cicero and Virgil. Hence the veneration paid to the poet of the Aeneid by the fathers and throughout the middle ages. Augustine calls him the noblest of poets, and Dante, “the glory and light of other poets,” and “his master,” who guided him through the regions of hell and purgatory to the very gates of Paradise. It was believed that in his fourth Eclogue he had prophesied the advent of Christ. This interpretation is erroneous; but “there is in Virgil,” says an accomplished scholar, “a vein of thought and sentiment more devout, more humane, more akin to the Christian than is to be found in any other ancient poet, whether Greek or Roman. He was a spirit prepared and waiting, though he knew it not, for some better thing to be revealed.”

The civil laws and institutions, also, and the great administrative wisdom of Rome did much for the outward organization of the Christian church. As the Greek church rose on the basis of the Grecian nationality, so the Latin church rose on that of ancient Rome, and reproduced in higher forms both its virtues and its defects. Roman Catholicism is pagan Rome baptized, a Christian reproduction of the universal empire seated of old in the city of the seven hills.


13. Judaism and Heathenism in Contact

The Roman empire, though directly establishing no more than an outward political union, still promoted indirectly a mutual intellectual and moral approach of the hostile religious of the Jews and Gentiles, who were to be reconciled in one divine brotherhood by the supernatural power of the cross of Christ.

1. The Jews, since the Babylonish captivity, had been scattered over all the world. They were as ubiquitous in the Roman empire in the first century as they are now throughout Christendom. According to Josephus and Strabo, there was no country where they did not make up a part of the population. Among the witnesses of the miracle of Pentecost were “Jews from every nation under heaven … Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and the dwellers of Mesopotamia, in Judaea and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, in Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and sojourners from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians.” (Act_2:5, Act_2:9-11) In spite of the antipathy of the Gentiles, they had, by talent and industry, risen to wealth, influence, and every privilege, and had built their synagogues in all the commercial cities of the Roman empire. Pompey brought a considerable number of Jewish captives from Jerusalem to the capital (b.c. 63), and settled them on the right bank of the Tiber (Trastevere). By establishing this community he furnished, without knowing it, the chief material for the Roman church. Julius Caesar was the great protector of the Jews; and they showed their gratitude by collecting for many nights to lament his death on the forum where his murdered body was burnt on a funeral pile. He granted them the liberty of public worship, and thus gave them a legal status as a religious society. Augustus confirmed these privileges. Under his reign they were numbered already by thousands in the city. A reaction followed; Tiberius and Claudius expelled them from Rome; but they soon returned, and succeeded in securing the free exercise of their rites and customs. The frequent satirical allusions to them prove their influence as well as the aversion and contempt in which they were held by the Romans. Their petitions reached the ear of Nero through his wife Poppaea, who seems to have inclined to their faith; and Josephus, their most distinguished scholar, enjoyed the favor of three emperors — Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. In the language of Seneca (as quoted by Augustin) “the conquered Jews gave laws to their Roman conquerors.”

By this dispersion of the Jews the seeds of the knowledge of the true God and the Messianic hope were sown in the field of the idolatrous world. The Old Testament Scriptures were translated into Greek two centuries before Christ, and were read and expounded in the public worship of God, which was open to all. Every synagogue was a mission-station of monotheism, and furnished the apostles an admirable place and a natural introduction for their preaching of Jesus Christ as the fulfiller of the law and the prophets.

Then, as the heathen religious had been hopelessly undermined by skeptical philosophy and popular infidelity, many earnest Gentiles especially multitudes of women, came over to Judaism either, wholly or in part. The thorough converts, called “proselytes of righteousness,” were commonly still more bigoted and fanatical than the native Jews. The half-converts, “proselytes of the gate” or “fearers of God,” who adopted only the monotheism, the principal moral laws, and the Messianic hopes of the Jews, without being circumcised, appear in the New Testament as the most susceptible hearers of the gospel, and formed the nucleus of many of the first Christian churches. Of this class were the centurion of Capernaum, Cornelius of Caesarea, Lydia of Philippi, Timothy, and many other prominent disciples.

2. On the other hand, the Greco-Roman heathenism, through its language, philosophy, and literature, exerted no inconsiderable influence to soften the fanatical bigotry of the higher and more cultivated classes of the Jews. Generally the Jews of the dispersion, who spoke the Greek language — the “Hellenists,” as they were called — were much more liberal than the proper “Hebrews,” or Palestinian Jews, who kept their mother tongue. This is evident in the Gentile missionaries, Barnabas of Cyprus and Paul of Tarsus, and in the whole church of Antioch, in contrast with that at Jerusalem. The Hellenistic form of Christianity was the natural bridge to the Gentile.

The most remarkable example of a transitional, though very fantastic and Gnostic-like combination of Jewish and heathen elements meets us in the educated circles of the Egyptian metropolis, Alexandria, and in the system of Philo, who was born about b.c. 20, and lived till after a.d. 40, though he never came in contact with Christ or the apostles. This Jewish, divine sought to harmonize the religion of Moses with the philosophy of Plato by the help of an ingenious but arbitrary allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament; and from the books of Proverbs and of Wisdom he deduced a doctrine of the Logos so strikingly like that of John’s Gospel, that many expositors think it necessary to impute to the apostle an acquaintance with the writings, or at least with the terminology of Philo. But Philo’s speculation is to the apostle’s “Word made flesh” as a shadow to the body, or a dream to the reality. He leaves no room for an incarnation, but the coincidence of his speculation with the great fact is very remarkable.

The Therapeutae or Worshippers, a mystic and ascetic sect in Egypt, akin to the Essenes in Judaea, carried this Platonic Judaism into practical life; but were, of course, equally unsuccessful in uniting the two religions in a vital and permanent way. Such a union could only be effected by a new religion revealed from heaven.

Quite independent of the philosophical Judaism of Alexandria were the Samaritans, a mixed race, which also combined, though in a different way, the elements of Jewish and Gentile religion. They date from the period of the exile. They held to the Pentateuch, to circumcision, and to carnal Messianic hopes; but they had a temple of their own on Mount Gerizim, and mortally hated the proper Jews. Among these Christianity, as would appear from the interview of Jesus with the woman of Samaria, (Joh_4:1-54) and the preaching of Philip, (Act_8:1-40) found ready access, but, as among the Essenes and Therapeutae fell easily into a heretical form. Simon Magus, for example, and some other Samaritan arch-heretics, are represented by the early Christian writers as the principal originators of Gnosticism.

3. Thus was the way for Christianity prepared on every side, positively and negatively, directly and indirectly, in theory and in practice, by truth and by error, by false belief and by unbelief — those hostile brothers, which yet cannot live apart — by Jewish religion, by Grecian culture, and by Roman conquest; by the vainly attempted amalgamation of Jewish and heathen thought, by the exposed impotence of natural civilization, philosophy, art, and political power, by the decay of the old religions, by the universal distraction and hopeless misery of the age, and by the yearnings of all earnest and noble souls for the religion of salvation.

“In the fulness of the time,” when the fairest flowers of science and art had withered, and the world was on the verge of despair, the Virgin’s Son was born to heal the infirmities of mankind. Christ entered a dying world as the author of a new and imperishable life.

Vol. 1, Chapter II. Jesus Christ

14. Sources and Literature

A. Sources

Christ himself wrote nothing, but furnished endless material for books and songs of gratitude and praise. The living Church of the redeemed is his book. He founded a religion of the living spirit, not of a written code, like the Mosaic law. (His letter to King Abgarus of Edessa, in Euseb., Hist. Eccl., I. 13, is a worthless fabrication.) Yet his words and deeds are recorded by as honest and reliable witnesses as ever put pen to paper.


I. Authentic Christian Sources

(1) The four Canonical Gospels. Whatever their origin and date, they exhibit essentially the same divine-human life and character of Christ, which stands out in sharp contrast with the fictitious Christ of the Apocryphal Gospels, and cannot possibly have been invented, least of all by illiterate Galileans. They would never have thought of writing books without the inspiration of their Master.

(2) The Acts of Luke, the Apostolic Epistles, and the Apocalypse of John. They presuppose, independently of the written Gospels, the main facts of the gospel-history, especially the crucifixion and the resurrection, and abound in allusions to these facts. Four of the Pauline Epistles (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians) are admitted as genuine by the most extreme of liberal critics (Baur and the Tübingen School), and from them alone a great part of the life of Christ might be reconstructed. (See the admissions of Keim, Gesch. Jesu v. Naz., I. 35 sqq.)


II. Apocryphal Gospels

The Apocryphal Gospels are very numerous (about 50), some of them only known by name, others in fragments, and date from the second and later centuries. They are partly heretical (Gnostic and Ebionite) perversions or mutilations of the real history, partly innocent compositions of fancy, or religious novels intended to link together the disconnected periods of Christ’s biography, to satisfy the curiosity concerning his relations, his childhood, his last days, and to promote the glorification of the Virgin Mary. They may be divided into four classes: (1) Heretical Gospels (as the Evangelium Cerinthi, Ev. Marcionis, Ev. Judae Ischariotae, Ev. secundum Hebraeos, etc.); (2) Gospels of Joseph and Mary, and the birth of Christ (Protevangelium Jacobi, Evang. Pseudo-Mathaei sive liber de Ortu Beatae Mariae et Infantia Salvatoris, Evang. de Nativitate Mariae, Historia Josephi Fabri lignarii, etc.); (3) Gospels of the childhood of Jesus from the flight to Egypt till his eighth or twelfth year (Evang. Thomae, of Gnostic origin, Evang. Infantiae Arabicum, etc.); (4) Gospels of the passion and the mysterious triduum in Hades (Evang. Nicodemi, including the Gesta or Acta Pilati and the Descensus ad Inferos, Epistola Pilati, a report of Christ’s passion to the emperor Tiberius, Paradosis Pilati, Epistolae Herodis ad Pilatum and Pilati ad Herodem, Responsum Tiberii ad Pilatum, Narratio Josephi Arimathiensis, etc.). It is quite probable that Pilate sent an account of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus to his master in Rome (as Justin Martyr and Tertullian confidentially assert), but the various documents bearing his name are obviously spurious, including the one recently published by Geo. Sluter (The Acta Pilati, Shelbyville, Ind. 1879), who professes to give a translation from the supposed authentic Latin copy in the Vatican Library.

These apocryphal productions have no historical, but considerable apologetic value; for they furnish by their contrast with the genuine Gospels a very strong negative testimony to the historical truthfulness of the Evangelists, as a shadow presupposes the light, a counterfeit the real coin, and a caricature the original picture. They have contributed largely to medieval art (e.g., the ox and the ass in the history of the nativity), and to the traditional Mariology and Mariolatry of the Greek and Roman churches, and have supplied Mohammed with his scanty knowledge of Jesus and Mary.

See the collections of the apocryphal Gospels by Fabricius (Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti, Hamburg, 1703, 2d ed. 1719), Thilo (Cod. Apocr. N. Ti., Lips. 1832), Tischendorf (Evangelia Apocrypha, Lips. 1853), W. Wright (Contributions to the Apocr. Lit. of the N. T. from Syrian MSS. in the British Museum, Lond. 1865), B. Harris Cowper (The Apocryphal Gospels, translated, London, 1867), and Alex. Walker (Engl. transl. in Roberts & Donaldson’s “Ante-Nicene Library,” vol. xvi., Edinb. 1870; vol. viii. of Am. ed., N. Y. 1886).

Comp. the dissertations of Tischendorf: De Evang. aproc. origine et usu (Hagae, 1851), and Pilati circa Christum judicio quid lucis offeratur ex Actis Pilati (Lips. 1855). Rud. Hofmann: Das Leben Jesu nach den Apokryphen (Leipz. 1851), and his art., Apokryphen des N. T, in Herzog & Plitt, “R. Encykl.,” vol. i. (1877), p. 511. G. Brunet: Les évangiles apocryphes, Paris, 1863. Michel Nicolas: Études sur les évangiles apocryphes, Paris, 1866. Lipsius: Die Pilatus-Acten, Kiel, 1871; Die edessenische Abgar-Sage, 1880; Gospels, Apocr., in Smith & Wace, I. 700 sqq.; Holtzmann Einl. in’s N. T., pp. 534-’54.


III. Jewish Sources

The O. Test. Scriptures are, in type and prophecy, a preparatory history of Christ, and become fully intelligible only in him who came “to fulfill the law and the prophets.”

The Apocryphal and post-Christian Jewish writings give us a full view of the outward framework of society and religion in which the life of Christ moved, and in this way they illustrate and confirm the Gospel accounts.


IV. Josephus

The famous testimony of the Jewish historian Josephus (d. after a.d. 103) deserves special consideration. In his Antiqu. Jud., l. xviii. cap. 3, § 3, he gives the following striking summary of the life of Jesus:

Now there rose about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works (παραδόξων ἔργων ποιητής), a teacher of such men as receive the truth with gladness. He carried away with him many of the Jews and also many of the Greeks. He was the Christ (ὁ Χριστὸς οὖτος ἦν). And after Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, his first adherents did not forsake him. For he appeared to them alive again the third day (ἐφάνη γὰρ αὐτοῖς τρίτην ἔχων ἡμέραν πάλιν ζῶν); the divine prophets having foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things (ἄλλα μυρία θαυμάσια) concerning him. And the tribe of those called Christians, after him, is not extinct to this day.”

This testimony is first quoted by Eusebius, twice, without a misgiving (Hist. Eccl., I. II; and Demonstr. Evang., III. 5), and was considered genuine down to the 16th century, but has been disputed ever since. We have added the most doubtful words in Greek.

The following are the arguments for the genuineness:

(1) The testimony is found in all the MSS. of Josephus.

But these MSS. were written by Christians, and we have none older than from the 11th century.

(2) It agrees with the style of Josephus.

(3) It is extremely improbable that Josephus, in writing a history of the Jews coming down to a.d. 66, should have ignored Jesus; all the more since he makes favorable mention of John the Baptist (Antiqu., XVIII. 5, 2), and of the martyrdom of James “the Brother of Jesus called the Christ” (Antiqu. XX 9, 1: τὸν ἀδελφὸν Ἰησοῦ τοῦ λεγομένου Χριστοῦ, Ἰάκωβος ὄνομα αὐτῷ). Both passages are generally accepted as genuine, unless the words τοῦ λεγομένου Χριστοῦ should be an interpolation.

Against this may be said that Josephus may have had prudential reasons for ignoring Christianity altogether.

Arguments against the genuineness:

(1) The passage interrupts the connection.

But not necessarily. Josephus had just recorded a calamity which befell the Jews under Pontius Pilate, in consequence of a sedition, and he may have regarded the crucifixion of Jesus as an additional calamity. He then goes on (§4 and 5) to record another calamity, the expulsion of the Jews from Rome under Tiberius.

(2) It betrays a Christian, and is utterly inconsistent with the known profession of Josephus as a Jewish priest of the sect of the Pharisees. We would rather expect him to have represented Jesus as an impostor, or as an enthusiast.

But it may be urged, on the other hand, that Josephus, with all his great literary merits, is also known as a vain and utterly unprincipled man, as a renegade and sycophant who glorified and betrayed his nation, who served as a Jewish general in the revolt against Rome, and then, after having been taken prisoner, flattered the Roman conquerors, by whom he was richly rewarded. History furnishes many examples of similar inconsistencies. Remember Pontius Pilate who regarded Christ as innocent, and yet condemned him to death, the striking testimonies of Rousseau and Napoleon I. to the divinity of Christ, and also the concessions of Renan, which contradict his position.

(3) It is strange that the testimony should not have been quoted by such men as Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, or any other writer before Eusebius (d. 340), especially by Origen, who expressly refers to the passages of Josephus on John the Baptist and James (Contra Cels., I. 35, 47). Even Chrysostom (d. 407), who repeatedly mentions Josephus, seems to have been ignorant of this testimony.

In view of these conflicting reasons, there are different opinions:

(1) The passage is entirely genuine. This old view is defended by Hauteville, Oberthür, Bretschneider, Böhmert, Whiston, Schoedel (1840), Böttger (Das Zeugniss des Jos., Dresden, 1863).

(2) It is wholly interpolated by a Christian hand. Bekker (in his ed. of Jos., 1855), Hase (1865 and 1876), Keim (1867), Schürer (1874).

(3) It is partly genuine, partly interpolated. Josephus probably wrote Χριστὸς οὖτος ἐλέγετο (as in the passage on James), but not ἦν and all other Christian sentences were added by a transcriber before Eusebius, for apologetic purposes. So Paulus, Heinichen, Gieseler (I. § 24, p. 81, 4th Germ. ed.), Weizsäcker, Renan, Farrar. In the introduction to his Vie de Jésus (p. xii.), Renan says: “Je crois le passage sur Jésus authentique. Il est parfaitement dans le goût de Joseph, et si cet historian a fait mention de Jésus, c’est bien comme cela qu’il a dû en parler. On sent seulement qu’une main chrétienne a retouché le morceau, y a ajouté quelques mots sans lesquels il eút été presque blasphématoire, a peut-étre retranché ou modifié quelques expressions.”

(4) It is radically changed from a Jewish calumny into its present Christian form. Josephus originally described Jesus as a pseudo-Messiah, a magician, and seducer of the people, who was justly crucified. So Paret and Ewald (Gesch. Christus’, p. 183, 3d ed.).

It is difficult to resist the conclusion that Josephus must have taken some notice of the greatest event in Jewish history (as he certainly did of John the Baptist and of James), but that his statement — whether non-committal or hostile — was skillfully enlarged or altered by a Christian hand, and thereby deprived of its historical value.

In other respects, the writings of Josephus contain, indirectly, much valuable testimony, to the truth of the gospel history. His History of the Jewish War is undesignedly a striking commentary on the predictions of our Saviour concerning the destruction of the city and the temple of Jerusalem; the great distress and affliction of the Jewish people at that time; the famine, pestilence, and earthquake; the rise of false prophets and impostors, and the flight of his disciples at the approach of these calamities. All these coincidences have been traced out in full by the learned Dr. Lardner, in his Collection of Ancient Jewish and Heathen Testimonies to the Truth of the Christian Religion, first published 1764-’67, also in vol. vi. of his Works, ed. by Kippis, Lond. 1838.


V. Heathen Testimonies

Heathen testimonies are few and meager. This fact must be accounted for by the mysterious origin, the short duration and the unworldly character of the life and work of Christ, which was exclusively devoted to the kingdom of heaven, and, was enacted in a retired country and among a people despised by the proud Greeks and Romans.

The oldest heathen testimony is probably in the Syriac letter of Mara, a philosopher, to his son Serapion, about a.d. 74, first published by Cureton, in Spicilegium Syriacum, Lond. 1855, and translated by Pratten in the “Ante-Nicene Library,” Edinb. vol. xxiv. (1872), 104-114. Here Christ is compared to Socrates and Pythagoras, and called “the wise king of the Jews,” who were justly punished for murdering him. Ewald (l.c. p. 180) calls this testimony “very remarkable for its simplicity and originality as well as its antiquity.”

Roman authors of the 1st and 2d centuries make only brief and incidental mention of Christ as the founder of the Christian religion, and of his crucifixion under Pontius Pilate, in the reign of Tiberius. Tacitus, Annales, I. xv. cap. 44, notices him in connection with his account of the conflagration at Rome and the Neronian persecution, in the words: “Auctor nominis ejus [Christiani] Christus Tiberio imperitante per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus erat,” and calls the Christian religion an exitiabilis superstitio. Comp. his equally contemptuous misrepresentation of the Jews in Hist., v. c. 3-5. Other notices are found in Suetonius: Vita Claudii, c. 25; Vita Neronis, c. 16; Plinius, jun.: Epist., X. 97, 98; Lucian: De morte Peregr., c. 11; Lampridius: Vita Alexandri Severi, c. 29, 43.

The heathen opponents of Christianity, Lucian, Celsus, Porphyry, Julian the Apostate, etc., presuppose the principal facts of the gospel-history, even the miracles of Jesus, but they mostly derive them, like the Jewish adversaries, from evil spirits. Comp. my book on the Person of Christ, Appendix, and Dr. Nath. Lardner’s Credibility, and Collection of Testimonies.


B. Biographical and Critical

The numerous Harmonies of the Gospel began already a.d. 170, with Tatian’s τὸ διὰ τεσσάρων (on which Ephraem Syrus, in the fourth century, wrote a commentary, published in Latin from an Armenian version in the Armenian convent at Venice, 1876). The first biographies of Christ were ascetic or poetic, and partly legendary. See Hase, Leben Jesu, §17-19. The critical period began with the infidel and infamous attacks of Reimarus, Bahrdt, and Venturini, and the noble apologetic works of Hess, Herder, and Reinhard. But a still greater activity was stimulated by the Leben Jesu of Strauss, 1835 and again by Renan’s Vie de Jésus, 1863.

J. J. Hess (Antistes at Zürich, d. 1828): Lebensgeschichte Jesu. Zürich, 1774; 8th ed. 1823, 3 vols. Translated into Dutch and Danish. He introduced the psychological and pragmatic treatment.

F. V. Rienhard (d. 1812): Versuch über den Plan Jesu. Wittenberg, 1781; 5th ed. by Heubner, 1830. English translation, N. York, 1831. Reinhard proved the originality and superiority of the plan of Christ above all the conceptions of previous sages and benefactors of the race.

J. G. Herder (d. 1803): Vom Erlöser der Menschen nach unsern 3 ersten Evang. Riga, 1796. The same: Von Gottes Sohn, der Welt Heiland, nach Joh. Evang. Riga, 1797.

H. E. G. Paulus (Prof. in Heidelberg, d. 1851): Leben Jesu als Grundlage einer reinen Geschichte des Urchristenthums. Heidelb. 1828, 2 vols. Represents the “vulgar” rationalism superseded afterwards by the speculative rationalism of Strauss.

C. Ullmann (d. 1865): Die Sündlosigkeit Jesu. Hamb. 1828; 7th ed. 1864. Eng. translation (of 7th ed.) by Sophia Taylor, Edinb. 1870. The best work on the sinlessness of Jesus. Comp. also his essay (against Strauss), Historisch oder Mythisch? Gotha, 1838.

Karl Hase: Das Leben Jesu. Leipz. 1829; 5th ed. 1865. The same: Geschichte Jesu. Leipz. 1876.

Schleiermacher (d. 1834): Vorlesungen über das Leben Jesu, herausgeg. von Rütenik. Berlin, 1864. The lectures were delivered 1832, and published from imperfect manuscripts. “Eine Stimme aus vergangenen Tagen.” Comp. the critique of D. F. Strauss in Der Christus des Glaubens und der Jesus der Geschichte. Berlin, 1865.

D. F. Strauss (d. 1874): Das Leben Jesu kritisch bearbeitet. Tübingen, 1835-’36; 4th ed. 1840, 2 vols. French transl. by Emile Littré, Par. 1856 (2d ed.); Engl. transl. by Miss Marian Evans (better known under the assumed name George Eliot), Lond. 1846, in 3 vols., republ. in N. York, 1850. The same: Das Leben Jesu für das deutsche Volk bearbeitet. Leipz. 1864; 3d ed. 1875. In both these famous works Strauss represents the mythical theory. It has been popularized in the third volume of The Bible for Learners by Oort and Hooykaas, Engl. transl., Boston ed. 1879.

A. Neander (d. 1850): Das Leben Jesu. Hamb. 1837; 5th ed. 1852. A positive refutation of Strauss. The same in English by McClintock and Blumenthal, N. York, 1848.

Joh. Nep. Sepp (R. C.): Das Leben Jesu Christi. Regensb. 1843 sqq. 2d ed. 1865, 6 vols. Much legendary matter.

Jordan Bucher (R. C.): Das Leben Jesu Christi. Stuttgart, 1859.

A. Ebrard: Wissenschaftliche Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte. Erl. 1842; 3d ed. 1868. Against Strauss, Bruno Bauer, etc. Condensed English translation, Edinb. 1869.

J. P. Lange: Das Leben Jesu. Heidelb. 1844-’47, 3 parts in 5 vols. Engl. transl. by Marcus Dods and others, in 6 vols., Edinb. 1864. Rich and suggestive.

J. J. van Oosterzee: Leven van Jesus. First publ. in 1846-’51, 3 vols. 2d ed. 1863-’65. Comp. his Christologie, Rotterdam, 1855-’61, 3 vols., which describe the Son of God before his incarnation, the Son of God in the flesh, and the Son of God in glory. The third part is translated into German by F. Meyering: Das Bild Christi nach der Schrift, Hamburg, 1864.

Chr. Fr. Schmid: Biblische Theologie des N. Testaments. Ed. by Weizsäcker. Stuttgart, 1853 (3d ed. 1854), 2 vols. The first volume contains the life and doctrine of Christ. The English translation by G. H. Venables (Edinb. 1870) is an abridgment.

H. Ewald: Geschichte Christus und seiner Zeit. Gött. 1854; 3d ed. 1867 (vol. v. of his Hist. of Israel). Transl. into Engl. by O. Glover, Cambridge, 1865.

J. Young: The Christ of History. Lond. and N. York, 1855. 5th ed., 1868.

P. Lichtenstein: Lebensgeschichte Jesu in chronolog. Uebersicht. Erlangen, 1856.

C. J. Riggenbach: Vorlesungen über das Leben Jesu. Basel, 1858.

M. Baumgarten: Die Geschichte Jesu für das Verständniss der Gegenwart. Braunschweig, 1859.

W. F. Gess: Christi Person und Werk nach Christi Selbstzeugniss und den Zeugnissen der Apostel. Basel, 1878, in several parts. (This supersedes his first work on the same subject, publ. 1856.)

Horace Bushnell (d. 1878): The Character of Jesus: forbidding his possible classification with men. N. York, 1861. (A reprint of the tenth chapter of his work on, “Nature and the Supernatural,” N. York, 1859.) It is the best and most useful product of his genius.

C. J. Elliott (Bishop): Historical Lectures on the Life of our Lord Jesus Christ, being the Hulsean Lect. for 1859. 5th ed. Lond. 1869; republ. in Boston, 1862.

Samuel J. Andrews: The Life of our Lord upon the earth, considered in its historical, chronological, and geographical relations. N. York, 1863; 4th ed. 1879.

Ernest Renan: Vie de Jésus. Par. 1863, and often publ. since (13th ed. 1867) and in several translations. Strauss popularized and Frenchified. The legendary theory. Eloquent, fascinating, superficial, and contradictory.

Daniel Schenkel: Das Charakterbild Jesu. Wiesbaden, 1864; 4th ed. revised 1873. English transl. by W. H. Furness. Boston, 1867, 2 vols. By the same: Das Christusbild der Apostel und der nachapostolischen Zeit. Leipz. 1879. See also his art., Jesus Christus, in Schenkel’s “Bibel-Lexikon,” III. 257 sqq. Semi-mythical theory. Comp. the sharp critique of Strauss on the Characterbild: Die Halben und die Ganzen. Berlin, 1865.

Philip Schaff: The Person of Christ: the Perfection of his Humanity viewed as a Proof of his Divinity. With a Collection of Impartial Testimonies. Boston and N. York, 1865; 12th ed., revised, New York, 1882. The same work in German, Gotha, 1865; revised ed., N. York (Am. Tract Soc.), 1871; in Dutch by Cordes, with an introduction by J. J. van Oosterzee. Groningen, 1866; in French by Prof. Sardinoux, Toulouse, 1866, and in other languages. By the same: Die Christusfrage. N. York and Berlin, 1871.

Ecce Homo: A Survey of the Life and Work of Jesus Christ. [By Prof. J. R. Seeley, of Cambridge.] Lond. 1864, and several editions and translations. It gave rise also to works on Ecce Deus, Ecce Deus Homo, and a number of reviews and essays (one by Gladstone).

Charles Hardwick (d. 1859): Christ and other Masters. Lond., 4th ed., 1875. (An extension of the work of Reinhard; Christ compared with the founders of the Eastern religions.)

E. H. Plumptre: Christ and Christendom. Boyle Lectures. Lond. 1866.

E. de Pressensé: Jésus Christ, son temps, sa vie, son oeuvre. Paris, 1866. (Against Renan.) The same transl. into English by Annie Harwood (Lond., 7th ed. 1879), and into German by Fabarius (Halle, 1866).

F. Delitzsch: Jesus und Hillel. Erlangen, 1867; 3rd ed. revised, 1879.

Theod. Keim (Prof. in Zürich, and then in Giessen, d. 1879); Geschichte Jesu von Nazara. Zürich, 1867-’72, 3 vols. Also an abridgment in one volume, 1873, 2d ed. 1875. (This 2d ed. has important additions, particularly a critical Appendix.) The large work is translated into English by Geldart and Ransom. Lond. (Williams & Norgate), 1873-82, 6 vols. By the same author: Der geschichtliche Christus. Zürich, 3d ed. 1866. Keim attempts to reconstruct a historical Christ from the Synoptical Gospels, especially Matthew, but without John.

Wm. Hanna: The Life of our Lord. Edinb. 1868-’69, 6 vols.

Bishop Dupanloup (R. C.): Histoire de noire Sauveur Jésus Christ. Paris, 1870.

Fr. W. Farrar (Canon of Westminster): The Life of Christ. Lond. and N. York, 1874, 2 vols. (in many editions, one with illustrations).

C. Geikie: The Life and Words of Christ. Lond. and N. York, 1878, 2 vols. (Illustrated. Several editions.)

Bernhard Weiss (Prof. in Berlin): Das Leben Jesu. Berlin, 1882, 2 vols., 3d ed. 1888. English transl. Edinb. 1885, 3 vols.

Alfred Edersheim: The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. London and N. Y. 1884, 2 vols. Strictly orthodox. Valuable for rabbinical illustrations.,

W. Beyschlag: Das Leben Jesu. Halle, 1885-’86, 2 vols.; 2d ed. 1888.

The works of Paulus, Strauss, and Renan (also Joseph Salvador, a learned Jew in France, author of Jésus Christ et sa doctrine, Par. 1838) represent the various phases of rationalism and destructive criticism, but have called forth also a copious and valuable apologetic literature. See the bibliography in Hase’s Leben Jesu, 5th ed. p. 44 sqq., and in his Geschichte Jesu, p. 124 sqq. Schleiermacher, Gfrörer, Weisse, Ewald, Schenkel, Hase, and Keim occupy, in various degrees and with many differences, a middle position. The great Schleiermacher almost perished in the sea of scepticism, but, like Peter, he caught the saving arm of Jesus extended to him (Mat_14:30, Mat_14:31). Hase is very valuable for the bibliography and suggestive sketches, Ewald and Keim for independent research and careful use of Josephus and the contemporary history. Keim rejects, Ewald accepts, the Gospel of John as authentic; both admit the sinless perfection of Jesus, and Keim, from his purely critical and synoptical standpoint, goes so far as to say (vol. iii. 662) that Christ, in his gigantic elevation above his own and succeeding ages, “makes the impression of mysterious loneliness, superhuman miracle, divine creation (den Eindruck geheimnissvoller Einsamkeit, übermenschlichen Wunders, göttlicher Schöpfung).” Weiss and Beyschlag mark a still greater advance, and triumphantly defend the genuineness of John’s Gospel, but make concessions to criticism in minor details.

Samuel J. Andrews: Life of our Lord. “A new and wholly revised edition.” New York, 1891 (651 pp.). With maps and illustrations. Maintains the quadripaschal theory. Modest, reverent, accurate, devoted chiefly to the chronological and topographical relations.


C. Chronological

Kepler: De Jesu Christi Servatoris nostri vero anno natalicio. Frankf. 1606. De vero anno quo aeternus Dei Filius humanam naturam in utero benedicitae Virginis Mariae assumpsit. Frcf. 1614.

J. A. Bengel: Ordo Temporum. Stuttgart, 1741, and 1770.

Henr. Sanclemente: De Vulgaris Aerae Emendatione libri quatuor.

C. Ideler: Handbuch der Chronologie. Berlin, 1825-226, 2 vols. By the same: Lehrbuch der Chronologie, 1831

Fr. Münter: Der Stern der Weisen. Kopenhagen, 1827.

K. Wieseler: Chronolog. Synopse der vier Evangelien. Hamb. 1843. Eng. trans. by Venables, 2d ed., 1877. Supplemented by his Beiträge zur richtigen Würdigung der Evangelien. Gotha, 1869.

Henry Browne: Ordo Saeclorum. London, 1844. Comp. his art. Chronology, in the 3d ed. of Kitto’s “Cycl. of Bib. Lit.”

Sam. F. Jarvis (historiographer of the Prot. Episc. Ch. in the U. S., d. 1851): A Chronological Introduction to the History of the Church. N. York, 1845.

G. Seyffarth: Chronologia sacra, Untersuchungen über das Geburtsjahr des Herrn. Leipzig, 1846.

Rud. Anger: Der Stern der Weisen und das Geburtsjahr Christi. Leipz. 1847. By the same. Zur Chronologie des Lehramtes Christi. Leipz. 1848.

Henry F. Clinton: Fasti Romani. Oxford, 1845-’50, 2 vols.

Thomas Lewin: Essay on the Chronology of the New Testament. Oxford, 1854. The same: Fasti Sacri (from b.c. 70 to a.d. 70). Lond. 1865.

F. Piper: Das Datum der Geburt Christi, in his “Evangel. Kalender” for 1856, pp. 41 sqq.

Henri Lutteroth: Le recensement de Quirinius en Judée. Paris, 1865 (134 pp.).

Gust. Rösch: Zum Geburtsjahr Jesu, in the “Jahrbücher für Deutsche Theol.” Gotha, 1866, pp. 3-48.

Ch. Ed. Caspari: Chronologisch-Geographische Einleitung in das Leben J. C. Hamb. 1869 (263 pp.). English translation by M. J. Evans. Edinburgh (T. Clark), 1876.

Francis W. Upham: The Wise Men. N. York, 1869 (ch. viii. 145, on Kepler’s Discovery). Star of Our Lord, by the same author. N. Y., 1873.

A. W. Zumpt: Das Geburtsjahr Christi. Leipz. 1869 (306 pp.). He makes much account of the double governorship of Quirinus, Luk_2:2. Comp. Pres. Woolsey in Bibl. Sacra, April, 1870.

Herm. Sevin: Chronologie des Lebens Jesu. Tübingen, 2d. ed., 1874.

Florian Riess: (Jesuit): Das Geburtsjahr Christi. Freiburg i. Br. 1880.

Peter Schegg: (R. C.): Das Todesjahr des Königs Herodes und das Todesjahr Jesu Christi. Against Riess. München, 1882.

Florian Riess: Nochmals das Geburtsjahr Jesu Christi. Reply to Schegg. Freib. im Br. 1883.

Bernhard Matthias: Die römische Grundsteuer und das Vectigalrecht. Erlangen, 1882.

H. Lecoultre: De censu Quiriniano et anno nativitatis Christi secundum Lucam evangelistam Dissertatio. Laussanne, 1883.


15. The Founder of Christianity

When “the fulness of the time” was come, God sent forth his only-begotten Son, “the Desire of all nations,” to redeem the world from the curse of sin, and to establish an everlasting kingdom of truth, love, and peace for all who should believe on his name.

In Jesus Christ a preparatory history both divine and human comes to its close. In him culminate all the previous revelations of God to Jews and Gentiles; and in him are fulfilled the deepest desires and efforts of both Gentiles and Jews for redemption. In his divine nature, as Logos, he is, according to St. John, the eternal Son of the Father, and the agent in the creation and preservation of the world, and in all those preparatory manifestations of God, which were completed in the incarnation. In his human nature, as Jesus of Nazareth, he is the ripe fruit of the religions growth of humanity, with an earthly ancestry, which St. Matthew (the evangelist of Israel) traces to Abraham, the patriarch of the Jews, and St. Luke (the evangelist of the Gentiles), to Adam, the father of all men. In him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and in him also is realized the ideal of human virtue and piety. He is the eternal Truth, and the divine Life itself, personally joined with our nature; he is our Lord and our God; yet at the same time flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone. In him is solved the problem of religion, the reconciliation and fellowship of man with God; and we must expect no clearer revelation of God, nor any higher religious attainment of man, than is already guaranteed and actualized in his person.

But as Jesus Christ thus closes all previous history, so, on the other hand, he begins an endless future. He is the author of a new creation, the second Adam, the father of regenerate humanity, the head of the church, “which is his body, the fulness of him, that filleth all in all.” He is the pure fountain of that stream of light and life, which has since flowed unbroken through nations and ages, and will continue to flow, till the earth shall be full of his praise, and every tongue shall confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. The universal diffusion and absolute dominion of the spirit and life of Christ will be also the completion of the human race, the end of history, and the beginning of a glorious eternity.

It is the great and difficult task of the biographer of Jesus to show how he, by external and internal development, under the conditions of a particular people, age, and country, came to be in fact what he was in idea and destination, and what he will continue to be for the faith of Christendom, the God-Man and Saviour of the world. Being divine from eternity, he could not become God; but as man he was subject to the laws of human life and gradual growth. “He advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luk_2:52) Though he was the Son of God, “yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” (Heb_5:8, Heb_5:9) There is no conflict between the historical Jesus of Nazareth and the ideal Christ of faith. The full understanding of his truly human life, by its very perfection and elevation above all other men before and after him, will necessarily lead to an admission of his own testimony concerning his divinity.

“Deep strike thy roots, O heavenly Vine,

Within our earthly sod!

Most human and yet most divine,

The flower of man and God!”

Jesus Christ came into the world under Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor, before the death of king Herod the Great, four years before the traditional date of our Dionysian aera. He was born at Bethlehem of Judaea, in the royal line of David, from Mary, “the wedded Maid and Virgin Mother.” The world was at peace, and the gates of Janus were closed for only the second time in the history of Rome. There is a poetic and moral fitness in this coincidence: it secured a hearing for the gentle message of peace which might have been drowned in the passions of war and the clamor of arms. Angels from heaven proclaimed the good tidings of his birth with songs of praise; Jewish shepherds from the neighboring fields, and heathen sages from the far east greeted the newborn king and Saviour with the homage of believing hearts. Heaven and earth gathered in joyful adoration around the Christ-child, and the blessing of this event is renewed from year to year among high and low, rich and poor, old and young, throughout the civilized world.

The idea of a perfect childhood, sinless and holy, yet truly human and natural, had never entered the mind of poet or historian before; and when the legendary fancy of the Apocryphal Gospels attempted to fill out the chaste silence of the Evangelists, it painted an unnatural prodigy of a child to whom wild animals, trees, and dumb idols bowed, and who changed balls of clay into flying birds for the amusement of his playmates.

The youth of Jesus is veiled in mystery. We know only one, but a very significant fact. When a boy of twelve years he astonished the doctors in the temple by his questions and answers, without repelling them by immodesty and premature wisdom, and filled his parents with reverence and awe by his absorption in the things of his heavenly Father, and yet was subject and obedient to them in all things. Here, too, there is a clear line of distinction between the supernatural miracle of history and the unnatural prodigy of apocryphal fiction, which represents Jesus as returning most learned answers to perplexing questions of the doctors about astronomy, medicine, physics, metaphysics, and hyperphysics.

The external condition and surroundings of his youth are in sharp contrast with the amazing result of his public life. He grew up quietly and unnoticed in a retired Galilean mountain village of proverbial insignificance, and in a lowly carpenter-shop, far away from the city of Jerusalem, from schools and libraries, with no means of instruction save those which were open to the humblest Jew — the care of godly parents, the beauties of nature, the services of the synagogue, the secret communion of the soul with God, and the Scriptures of the Old Testament, which recorded in type and prophecy his own character and mission. All attempts to derive his doctrine from any of the existing schools and sects have utterly failed. He never referred to the traditions of the elders except to oppose them. From the Pharisees and Sadducees he differed alike, and provoked their deadly hostility. With the Essenes he never came in contact. He was independent of human learning and literature, of schools and parties. He taught the world as one who owed nothing to the world. He came down from heaven and spoke, out of the fulness of his personal intercourse with the great Jehovah. He was no scholar, no artist, no orator; yet was he wiser than all sages, he spake as never man spake, and made an impression on his age and all ages after him such as no man ever made or can make. Hence the natural surprise of his countrymen as expressed in the question: “From whence hath this men these things?” “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” (Mar_6:2, Mar_6:3; Mat_13:54-56; Joh_7:15)

He began his public ministry in the thirtieth year of his age, after the Messianic inauguration by the baptism of John, and after the Messianic probation in the wilderness — the counterpart of the temptation of the first Adam in Paradise. That ministry lasted only three years — and yet in these three years is condensed the deepest meaning of the history of religion. No great life ever passed so swiftly, so quietly, so humbly, so far removed from the noise and commotion of the world; and no great life after its close excited such universal and lasting interest. He was aware of this contrast: he predicted his deepest humiliation even to the death on the cross, and the subsequent irresistible attraction of this cross, which may be witnessed from day to day wherever his name is known. He who could say, “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto myself,” (Joh_12:32) knew more of the course of history and of the human heart than all the sages and legislators before and after him.

He chose twelve apostles for the Jews and seventy disciples for the Gentiles, not from among the scholars and leaders, but from among the illiterate fishermen of Galilee. He had no home, no earthly possessions, no friends among the mighty and the rich. A few pious women from time to time filled his purse; and this purse was in the bands of a thief and a traitor. He associated with publicans and sinners, to raise them up to a higher and nobler life, and began his reformation among them lower classes, which were despised and neglected by the proud: hierarchy of the day. He never courted the favor of the great, but incurred their hatred and persecution. He never flattered, the prejudices of the age, but rebuked sin and vice among the high and the low, aiming his severest words at the blind leaders of the blind, the self-righteous hypocrites who sat on Moses’ seat. He never encouraged the carnal Messianic hopes of the people, but withdrew when they wished to make him a king, and declared before the representative of the Roman empire that his kingdom was not of this world. He announced to his disciples his own martyrdom, and promised to them in this life only the same baptism of blood. He went about in Palestine, often weary of travel, but never weary of his work of love, doing good to the souls and bodies of men, speaking words of spirit and life, and working miracles of power and mercy.

He taught the purest doctrine, as a direct revelation of his heavenly Father, from his own intuition and experience, and with a power and authority which commanded unconditional trust and obedience. He rose above the prejudices of party and sect, above the superstitions of his age and nation. He addressed the naked heart of man and touched the quick of the conscience. He announced the founding of a spiritual kingdom which should grow from the smallest seed to a mighty tree, and, working like leaven from within, should gradually pervade all nations and countries. This colossal idea, had never entered the imagination of men, the like of which he held fast even in the darkest hour of humiliation, before the tribunal of the Jewish high-priest and the Roman governor, and when suspended as a malefactor on the cross; and the truth of this idea is illustrated by every page of church history and in every mission station on earth.

The miracles or signs which accompanied his teaching are supernatural, but not unnatural, exhibitions of his power over man and nature; no violations of law, but manifestations of a higher law, the superiority of mind over matter, the superiority of spirit over mind, the superiority of divine grace over human nature. They are all of the highest moral and of a profoundly symbolical significance, prompted by pure benevolence, and intended for the good of men; in striking contrast with deceptive juggler works and the useless and absurd miracles of apocryphal fiction. They were performed without any ostentation, with such simplicity and ease as to be called simply his “works.” They were the practical proof of his doctrine and the natural reflex of his wonderful person. The absence of wonderful works in such a wonderful man would be the greatest wonder.

His doctrine and miracles were sealed by the purest and holiest life in private and public. He could challenge his bitterest opponents with the question: “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” well knowing that they could not point to a single spot.

At last he completed his active obedience by the passive obedience of suffering in cheerful resignation to the holy will of God. Hated and persecuted by the Jewish hierarchy, betrayed into their hands by Judas, accused by false witnesses, condemned by the Sanhedrin, rejected by the people denied by Peter, but declared innocent by the representative of the Roman law and justice, surrounded by his weeping mother and faithful disciples, revealing in those dark hours by word and silence the gentleness of a lamb and the dignity of a God, praying for his murderers, dispensing to the penitent thief a place in paradise, committing his soul to his heavenly Father he died, with the exclamation: “It is finished!” He died before he had reached the prime of manhood. The Saviour of the world a youth! He died the shameful death of the cross the just for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty, a free self, sacrifice of infinite love, to reconcile the world unto God. He conquered sin and death on their own ground, and thus redeemed and sanctified all who are willing to accept his benefits and to follow his example. He instituted the Lord’s Supper, to perpetuate the memory of his death and the cleansing and atoning power of his blood till the end of time.

The third day he rose from the grave, the conqueror of death and hell, the prince of life and resurrection. He repeatedly appeared to his disciples; he commissioned them to preach the gospel of the resurrection to every creature; he took possession of his heavenly throne, and by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit he established the church, which he has ever since protected, nourished, and comforted, and with which he has promised to abide, till he shall come again in glory to judge the quick and the dead.

This is a meager outline of the story which the evangelists tell us with childlike simplicity, and yet with more general and lasting effect than could be produced by the highest art of historical composition. They modestly abstained from adding their own impressions to the record of the words and acts of the Master whose “glory they beheld, the glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Who would not shrink from the attempt to describe the moral character of Jesus, or, having attempted it, be not dissatisfied with the result? Who can empty the ocean into a bucket? Who (we may ask with Lavater) “can paint the glory of the rising sun with a charcoal?” No artist’s ideal comes up to the reality in this case, though his ideals may surpass every other reality. The better and holier a man is, the more he feels his need of pardon, and how far he falls short of his own imperfect standard of excellence. But Jesus, with the same nature as ours and tempted as we are, never yielded to temptation; never had cause for regretting any thought, word, or action; he never needed pardon, or conversion, or reform; he never fell out of harmony with his heavenly Father. His whole life was one unbroken act of self-consecration to the glory of God and the eternal welfare of his fellow-men. A catalogue of virtues and graces, however complete, would give us but a mechanical view. It is the spotless purity and sinlessness of Jesus as acknowledged by friend and foe; it is the even harmony and symmetry of all graces, of love to God and love to man, of dignity and humility of strength and tenderness, of greatness and simplicity, of self-control and submission, of active and passive virtue; it is, in one word, the absolute perfection which raises his character high above the reach of all other men and makes it an exception to a universal rule, a moral miracle in history. It is idle to institute comparisons with saints and sages, ancient or modern. Even the infidel Rousseau was forced to exclaim: “If Socrates lived and died like a sage, Jesus lived and died like a God.” Here is more than the starry heaven above us, and the moral law within us, which filled the soul of Kant with ever-growing reverence and awe. Here is the holy of holies of humanity, here is the very gate of heaven.

Going so far in admitting the human perfection of Christ — and how can the historian do otherwise? — we are driven a step farther, to the acknowledgment of his amazing claims, which must either be true, or else destroy all foundation for admiration and reverence in which he is universally held. It is impossible to construct a life of Christ without admitting its supernatural and miraculous character.

The divinity of Christ, and his whole mission as Redeemer, is an article of faith, and, as such, above logical or mathematical demonstration. The incarnation or the union of the infinite divinity and finite humanity in one person is indeed the mystery of mysteries. “What can be more glorious than God? What more vile than flesh? What more wonderful than God in the flesh?” Yet aside from all dogmatizing which lies outside of the province of the historian, the divinity of Christ has a self-evidencing power which forces itself irresistibly upon the reflecting mind and historical inquirer; while the denial of it makes his person an inexplicable enigma.

It is inseparable from his own express testimony respecting himself, as it appears in every Gospel, with but a slight difference of degree between the Synoptists and St. John. Only ponder over it! He claims to be the long-promised Messiah who fulfilled the law and the prophets, the founder and lawgiver of a new and universal kingdom, the light of the world, the teacher of all nations and ages, from whose authority there is no appeal. He claims to have come into this world for the purpose to save the world from sin — which no merely human being can possibly do. He claims the power to forgive sins on earth; he frequently exercised that power, and it was for the sins of mankind, as he foretold, that he shed his own blood. He invites all men to follow him, and promises peace and life eternal to every one that believes in him. He claims pre-existence before Abraham and the world, divine names, attributes, and worship. He disposes from the cross of places in Paradise. In directing his disciples to baptize all nations, he coordinates himself with the eternal Father and the Divine Spirit, and promises to be with them to the consummation of the world and to come again in glory as the Judge of all men. He, the humblest and meekest of men, makes these astounding pretensions in the most easy and natural way; he never falters, never apologizes, never explains; he proclaims them as self-evident truths. We read them again and again, and never feel any incongruity nor think of arrogance and presumption.

And yet this testimony, if not true, must be downright blasphemy or madness. The former hypothesis cannot stand a moment before the moral purity and dignity of Jesus, revealed in his every word and work, and acknowledged by universal consent. Self-deception in a matter so momentous, and with an intellect in all respects so clear and so sound, is equally out of the question. How could He be an enthusiast or a madman who never lost the even balance of his mind, who sailed serenely over all the troubles and persecutions, as the sun above the clouds, who always returned the wisest answer to tempting questions, who calmly and deliberately predicted his death on the cross, his resurrection on the third day, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the founding of his Church, the destruction of Jerusalem — predictions which have been literally fulfilled? A character so original, so complete, so uniformly consistent, so perfect, so human and yet so high above all human greatness, can be neither a fraud nor a fiction. The poet, as has been well said, would in this case be greater than the hero. It would take more than a Jesus to invent a Jesus.

We are shut up then to the recognition of the divinity of Christ; and reason itself must bow in silent awe before the tremendous word: “I and the Father are one!” and respond with skeptical Thomas: “My Lord and my God!”

This conclusion is confirmed by the effects of the manifestation of Jesus, which far transcend all merely human capacity and power. The history of Christianity, with its countless fruits of a higher and purer life of truth and love than was ever known before or is now known outside of its influence, is a continuous commentary on the life of Christ, and testifies on every page to the inspiration of his holy example. His power is felt on every Lord’s Day from ten thousand pulpits, in the palaces of kings and the huts of beggars, in universities and colleges, in every school where the sermon on the Mount is read, in prisons, in almshouses, in orphan asylums, as well as in happy homes, in learned works and simple tracts in endless succession. If this history of ours has any value at all, it is a new evidence that Christ is the light and life of a fallen world.

And there is no sign that his power is waning. His kingdom is more widely spread than ever before, and has the fairest prospect of final triumph in all the earth. Napoleon at St. Helena is reported to have been struck with the reflection that millions are now ready to die for the crucified Nazarene who founded a spiritual empire by love, while no one would die for Alexander, or Caesar, or himself, who founded temporal empires by force. He saw in this contrast a convincing argument for the divinity of Christ, saying: “I know men, and I tell you, Christ was not a man. Everything about Christ astonishes me. His spirit overwhelms and confounds me. There is no comparison between him and any other being. He stands single and alone. And Goethe, another commanding genius, of very different character, but equally above suspicion of partiality for religion, looking in the last years of his life over the vast field of history, was constrained to confess that “if ever the Divine appeared on earth, it was in the Person of Christ,” and that “the human mind, no matter how far it may advance in every other department, will never transcend the height and moral culture of Christianity as it shines and glows in the Gospels.”

The rationalistic, mythical, and legendary attempts to explain the life of Christ on purely human and natural grounds, and to resolve the miraculous elements either into common events, or into innocent fictions, split on the rock of Christ’s character and testimony. The ablest of the infidel biographers of Jesus now profess the profoundest regard for his character, and laud him as the greatest sage and saint that ever appeared on earth. But, by rejecting his testimony concerning his divine origin and mission, they turn him into a liar; and, by rejecting the miracle of the resurrection, they make the great fact of Christianity a stream without a source, a house without a foundation, an effect without a cause. Denying the physical miracles, they expect us to believe even greater psychological miracles; yea, they substitute for the supernatural miracle of history an unnatural prodigy and incredible absurdity of their imagination. They moreover refute and supersede each other. The history of error in the nineteenth century is a history of self-destruction. A hypothesis was scarcely matured before another was invented and substituted, to meet the same fate in its turn; while the old truth and faith of Christendom remains unshaken, and marches on in its peaceful conquest against sin and error

Truly, Jesus Christ, the Christ of the Gospels, the Christ of history, the crucified and risen Christ, the divine-human Christ, is the most real, the most certain, the most blessed of all facts. And this fact is an ever-present and growing power which pervades the church and conquers the world, and is its own best evidence, as the sun shining in the heavens. This fact is the only solution of the terrible mystery of sin and death, the only inspiration to a holy life of love to God and man, and only guide to happiness and peace. Systems of human wisdom will come and go, kingdoms and empires will rise and fall, but for all time to come Christ will remain “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

Vol. 1, Chapter II (Cont’d) – Chronology of the Life of Christ


See the Lit. in § 14, especially Browne, Wieseler, Zumpt, Andrews, and Keim.

We briefly consider the chronological dates of the life of Christ.


I. The Year of the Nativity.

This must be ascertained by historical and chronological research, since there is no certain and harmonious tradition on the subject. Our Christians aera, which was introduced by the Roman abbot Dionysius Exiguus, in the sixth century, and came into general use two centuries later, during the reign of Charlemagne, puts the Nativity Dec. 25, 754 Anno Urbis, that is, after the founding of the city of Rome. Nearly all chronologers agree that this is wrong by at least four years. Christ was born a.u. 750 (or b.c. 4), if not earlier.

This is evident from the following chronological hints in the Gospels, as compared with and confirmed by Josephus and contemporary writers, and by astronomical calculations.


The Death of Herod

(1) According to Mat_2:1 (Comp. Luk_1:5, Luk_1:26), Christ was born “in the days of king Herod” I. or the Great, who died, according to Josephus, at Jericho, a.u. 750, just before the Passover, being nearly seventy years of age, after a reign of thirty-seven years This date has been verified by the astronomical calculation of the eclipse of the moon, which took place March 13, a.u. 750, a few days before Herod’s death. Allowing two months or more for the events between the birth of Christ and the murder of the Innocents by Herod, the Nativity must be put back at least to February or January, a.u. 750 (or b.c. 4), if not earlier.

Some infer from the slaughter of the male children in Bethlehem, “from two years old and under,” that Christ must have been born two years before Herod’s death; but he counted from the time when the star was first seen by the Magi (Mat_2:7), and wished to make sure of his object. There is no good reason to doubt the fact itself, and the flight of the holy family to Egypt, which is inseparably connected with it. For, although the horrible deed is ignored by Josephus, it is in keeping with the well-known cruelty of Herod, who from jealousy murdered Hyrcanus, the grandfather of his favorite wife, Mariamne; then Mariamne herself, to whom he was passionately attached; her two sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, and, only five days before his death, his oldest son, Antipater; and who ordered all the nobles assembled around him in his last moments to be executed after his decease, so that at least his death might be attended by universal mourning. For such a monster the murder of one or two dozen infants in a little town was a very small matter, which might easily have been overlooked, or, owing to its connection with the Messiah, purposely ignored by the Jewish historian. But a confused remembrance of it is preserved in the anecdote related by Macrobius (a Roman grammarian and probably a heathen, about a.d. 410), that Augustus, on hearing of Herod’s murder of “boys under two years” and of his own son, remarked “that it was better to be Herod’s swine than his son.” The cruel persecution of Herod and the flight into Egypt were a significant sign of the experience of the early church, and a source of comfort in every period of martyrdom.


The Star of the Magi

(2) Another chronological hint of Mat_2:1-4, Mat_2:9, which has been verified by astronomy, is the Star of the Wise Men, which appeared before the death of Herod, and which would naturally attract the attention of the astrological sages of the East, in connection with the expectation of the advent of a great king among the Jews. Such a belief naturally arose from Balaam’s prophecy of “the star that was to rise out of Jacob” (Num_24:17), and from the Messianic prophecies of Isaiah and Daniel, and widely prevailed in the East since the dispersion of the Jews.

The older interpretation of that star made it either a passing meteor, or a strictly miraculous phenomenon, which lies beyond astronomical calculation, and was perhaps visible to the Magi alone. But Providence usually works through natural agencies, and that God did so in this case is made at least very probable by a remarkable discovery in astronomy. The great and devout Kepler observed in the years 1603 and 1604 a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, which was made more rare and luminous by the addition of Mars in the month of March, 1604. In the autumn of the same year (Oct. 10) he observed near the planets Saturn, Jupiter and Mars a new (fixed) star of uncommon brilliancy, which appeared “in triumphal pomp, like, some all-powerful monarch on a visit to the metropolis of his realm.” It was blazing and glittering “like the most beautiful and glorious torch ever seen when driven by a strong wind,” and seemed to him to be “an exceedingly wonderful work of God.” His genius perceived that this phenomenon must lead to the determination of the year of Christ’s birth, and by careful calculation he ascertained that a similar conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, with the later addition of Mars, and probably some, extraordinary star, took place repeatedly a.u. 747 and 748 in the sign of the Pisces.

It is worthy of note that Jewish astrologers ascribe a special signification to the conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the sign of the Pisces, and connect it with the advent of the Messiah.

The discovery of Kepler was almost forgotten till the nineteenth century, when it was independently confirmed by several eminent astronomers, Schubert of Petersburg, Ideler and Encke of Berlin, and Pritchard of London. It is pronounced by Pritchard to be “as certain as any celestial phenomenon of ancient date.” It certainly makes the pilgrimage of the Magi to Jerusalem and Bethlehem more intelligible. “The star of astrology has thus become a torch of chronology” (as Ideler says), and an argument for the truthfulness of the first Gospel.

It is objected that Matthew seems to mean a single star (ἀστήρ, comp. Mat_2:9) rather than a combination of stars (ἄστρον). Hence Dr. Wieseler supplements the calculation of Kepler and Ideler by calling to aid a single comet which appeared from February to April, a.u. 750, according to the Chinese astronomical tables, which Pingré and Humboldt acknowledge as historical. But this is rather far-fetched and hardly necessary; for that extraordinary star described by Kepler, or Jupiter at its most luminous appearance, as described by Pritchard, in that memorable conjunction, would sufficiently answer the description of a single star by Matthew, which must at all events not be pressed too literally; for the language of Scripture on the heavenly bodies is not scientific, but phenomenal and popular. God condescended to the astrological faith of the Magi, and probably made also an internal revelation to them before, as well as after the appearance of the star (comp. Mat_2:12).

If we accept the result of these calculations of astronomers we are brought to within two years of the year of the Nativity, namely, between a.u. 748 (Kepler) and 750 (Wieseler). The difference arises, of course, from the uncertainty of the time of departure and the length of the journey of the Magi.

As this astronomical argument is often very carelessly and erroneously stated, and as the works of Kepler and Ideler are not easy of access, at least in America (I found them in the Astor Library), I may be permitted to state the case more at length. John Kepler wrote three treatises on the year of Christ’s birth, two in Latin (1606 and 1614), one in German (1613), in which he discusses with remarkable learning the various passages and facts bearing on that subject. They are reprinted in Dr. Ch. Frisch’s edition of his Opera Omnia (Frcf. et Erlang. 1858-’70, 8 vols.), vol. IV. pp. 175 sqq.; 201 sqq.; 279 sqq. His astronomical observations on the constellation which led him to this investigation are fully described in his treatises De Stella Nova in Pede Serpentarii (Opera, vol. II. 575 sqq.), and Phenomenon singulare seu Mercurius in Sole (ibid. II. 801 sqq.). Prof. Ideler, who was himself an astronomer and chronologist, in his Handbuch der mathemat. und technischen Chronologie (Berlin, 1826, vol. III. 400 sqq.), gives the following clear summary of Kepler’s and of his own observations:

“It is usually supposed that the star of the Magi was, if not a fiction of the imagination, some meteor which arose accidentally, or ad hoc. We will belong neither to the unbelievers nor the hyper-believers (weder zu den Ungläubigen noch zu den Uebergläubigen), and regard this starry phenomenon with Kepler to be real and well ascertainable by calculation, namely, as a conjunction of the Planets Jupiter and Saturn. That Matthew speaks only of a star (ἀστήρ), not a constellation (ἄστρον), need not trouble us, for the two words are not unfrequently confounded. The just named great astronomer, who was well acquainted with the astrology of his and former times, and who used it occasionally as a means for commending astronomy to the attention and respect of the laity, first conceived this idea when he observed the conjunction of the two planets mentioned at the close of the year 1603. It took place Dec. 17. In the spring following Mars joined their company, and in autumn 1604 still another star, one of those fixed star-like bodies (einer jener fixstern-artigen Körper) which grow to a considerable degree of brightness, and then gradually disappear without leaving a trace behind. This star stood near the two planets at the eastern foot of Serpentarius (Schlangenträger), and appeared when last seen as a star of the first magnitude with uncommon splendor. From month to month it waned in brightness, and at the end of 1605 was withdrawn from the eyes which at that time could not yet be aided by good optical instruments. Kepler wrote a special work on this Stella nova in pede Serpentarii (Prague, 1606), and there he first set forth the view that the star of the Magi consisted in a conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter and some other extraordinary star, the nature of which he does not explain more fully.” Ideler then goes on to report (p. 404) that Kepler, with the imperfect tables at his disposal, discovered the same conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn a.u. 747 in June, August and December, in the sign of the Pisces; in the next year, February and March, Mars was added, and probably another extraordinary star, which must have excited the astrologers of Chaldaea to the highest degree. They probably saw the new star first, and then the constellation.

Dr. Münter, bishop of Seeland, in 1821 directed new attention to this remarkable discovery, and also to the rabbinical commentary of Abarbanel on Daniel, according to which the Jewish astrologers expected a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the sign of the Pisces before the advent of the Messiah, and asked the astronomers to reinvestigate this point. Since then Schubert of Petersburg (1823), Ideler and Encke of Berlin (1826 and 1830), and more recently Pritchard of London, have verified Kepler’s calculations.

Ideler describes the result of his calculation (vol. II. 405) thus: I have made the calculation with every care…. The results are sufficiently remarkable. Both planets [Jupiter and Saturn] came in conjunction for the first time a.u. 747, May 20, in the 20th degree of Pisces. They stood then on the heaven before sunrise and were only one degree apart. Jupiter passed Saturn to the north. In the middle of September both came in opposition to the sun at midnight in the south. The difference in longitude was one degree and a half. Both were retrograde and again approached each other. On the 27th of October a second conjunction took place in the sixteenth degree of the Pisces, and on the 12th of November, when Jupiter moved again eastward, a third in the fifteenth degree of the same sign. In the last two constellations also the difference in longitude was only about one degree, so that to a weak eye both planets might appear as one star. If the Jewish astrologers attached great expectations to conjunction of the two upper planets in the sign of the Pisces, this one must above all have appeared to them as most significant.”

In his shorter Lehrbuch der Chronologie, which appeared Berlin 1831 in one vol., pp. 424-431, Ideler gives substantially the same account somewhat abridged, but with slight changes of the figures on the basis of a new calculation with still better tables made by the celebrated astronomer Encke, who puts the first conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn a.u. 747, May 29th, the second Sept. 30th, the third Dec. 5th. See the full table of Encke, p. 429.

We supplement this account by an extract from an article on the Star of the Wise Men by the Rev. Charles Pritchard, M.A., Hon. Secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society, who made a fresh calculation of the constellation in a.u. 747, from May to December, and published the results in Memoirs of Royal Ast. Society, vol. xxv., and in Smith’s “Bible Dictionary,” p. 3108, Am. ed., where he says: “At that time [end of Sept., b.c. 7] there can be no doubt Jupiter would present to astronomers, especially in so clear an atmosphere, a magnificent spectacle. It was then at its most brilliant apparition, for it was at its nearest approach both to the sun and to the earth. Not far from it would be seen its duller and much less conspicuous companion, Saturn. This glorious spectacle continued almost unaltered for several days, when the planets again slowly separated, then came to a halt, when, by reassuming a direct motion, Jupiter again approached to a conjunction for a third time with Saturn, just as the Magi may be supposed to have entered the Holy City. And, to complete the fascination of the tale, about an hour and a half after sunset, the two planets might be seen from Jerusalem, hanging as it were in the meridian, and suspended over Bethlehem in the distance. These celestial phenomena thus described are, it will be seen, beyond the reach of question, and at the first impression they assuredly appear to fulfil the conditions of the Star of the Magi.” If Pritchard, nevertheless, rejects the identity of the constellation with the single star of Matthew, it is because of a too literal understanding of Matthew’s language, that the star προῆγεν αὐτούς and ἐστάθη ἐπάνω, which would make it miraculous in either case.


The Fifteenth Year of Tiberius

(3) Luk_3:1, Luk_3:23, gives us an important and evidently careful indication of the reigning powers at the time when John the Baptist and Christ entered upon their public ministry, which, according to Levitical custom, was at the age of thirty. (Comp. Num_4:3, Num_4:35, Num_4:39, Num_4:43, Num_4:47) John the Baptist began his ministry “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius,” and Jesus, who was only about six months younger than John (comp. Luk_1:5, Luk_1:26), was baptized and began to teach when he was “about thirty years of age.” Tiberius began to reign jointly with Augustus, as “collega imperii,” a.u. 764 (or, at all events, in the beginning of 765), and independently, Aug. 19, a.u. 767 (a.d. 14); consequently, the fifteenth year of his reign was either a.u. 779, if we count from the joint reign (as Luke probably did, using the more general term ἡγεμονία rather than μοναρχία or βασιλεία or 782, if we reckon from the independent reign (as was the usual Roman method).

Now, if we reckon back thirty years from a.u. 779 or 782, we come to a.u. 749 or 752 as the year of John’s birth, which preceded that of Christ about six months. The former date (749) is undoubtedly to be preferred, and agrees with Luke’s own statement that Christ was born under Herod (Luk_1:5, Luk_1:26).

Dionysius probably (for we have no certainty on the subject) calculated from the independent reign of Tiberius; but even that would not bring us to 754, and would involve Luke in contradiction with Matthew and with himself.

The other dates in Luk_3:1 generally agree with this result, but are less definite. Pontius Pilate was ten years governor of Judaea, from a.d. 26 to 36. Herod Antipas was deposed by Caligula, a.d. 39. Philip, his brother, died a.d. 34. Consequently, Christ must have died before a.d. 34, at an age of thirty-three, if we allow three years for his public ministry.


The Census of Quirinius

(4) The Census of Quirinius Luk_2:2. Luke gives us another chronological date by the incidental remark that Christ was born about the time of that census or enrolment, which was ordered by Caesar Augustus, and which was “the first made when Quirinius (Cyrenius) was governor [enrolment] of Syria.” He mentions this fact as the reason for the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. The journey of Mary makes no difficulty, for (aside from the intrinsic propriety of his company for protection) all women over twelve years of age (and slaves also) were subject in the Roman empire to a head-tax, as well as men over fourteen) till the age of sixty-five. There is some significance in the coincidence of the birth of the King of Israel with the deepest humiliation of Israel. and its incorporation in the great historical empire of Rome.

But the statement of Luke seems to be in direct conflict with the fact that the governorship and census of Quirinius began a.d. 6, i.e., ten years after the birth of Christ. Hence many artificial interpretations. But this difficulty is now, if not entirely removed, at least greatly diminished by archeological and philological research independent of theology. It has been proved almost to a demonstration by Bergmann, Mommsen, and especially by Zumpt, that Quirinius was twice governor of Syria — first, a.u. 750 to 753, or b.c. 4 to 1 (when there happens to be a gap in our list of governors of Syria), and again, a.u. 760-765 (a.d. 6-11). This double legation is based upon a passage in Tacitus, and confirmed by an old monumental inscription discovered between the Villa Hadriani and the Via Tiburtina. Hence Luke might very properly call the census about the time of Christ’s birth “the first” (πρώτη) under Quirinius, to distinguish it from the second and better known, which he himself mentions in his second treatise on the history of the origin of Christianity (Act_5:37). Perhaps the experience of Quirinius as the superintendent of the first census was the reason why he was sent to Syria a second time for the same purpose.

There still remain, however, three difficulties not easily solved: (a) Quirinius cannot have been governor of Syria before autumn a.u. 750 (b.c. 4), several months after Herod’s death (which occurred in March, 750), and consequently after Christ’s birth; for we know from coins that Quintilius Varus was governor from a.u. 748 to 750 (b.c. 6-4), and left his post after the death of Herod. (b) A census during the first governorship of Quirinius is nowhere mentioned but in Luke. (c) A Syrian governor could not well carry out a census in Judaea during the lifetime of Herod, before it was made a Roman province (i.e., a.u. 759).

In reply to these objections we may say: (a) Luke did not intend to give an exact, but only an approximate chronological statement, and may have connected the census with the well-known name of Quirinius because he completed it, although it was begun under a previous administration. (b) Augustus ordered several census populi between a.u. 726 and 767, partly for taxation, partly for military and statistical purposes; and, as a good statesman and financier, he himself prepared a rationarium or breviarium totius imperii, that is, a list of all the resources of the empire, which was read, after his death, in the Senate. (c) Herod was only a tributary king (rex sosius), who could exercise no act of sovereignty without authority from the emperor. Judaea was subject to taxation from the time of Pompey, and it seems not to have ceased with the accession of Herod. Moreover, towards the end of his life he lost the favor of Augustus, who wrote him in anger that “whereas of old he had used him as his friend, he would now use him as his subject.”

It cannot, indeed, be proven by direct testimony of Josephus or the Roman historians, that Augustus issued a decree for a universal census, embracing all the Provinces (“that all the world,” i.e., the Roman world, “should be taxed,” Luk_2:1), but it is in itself by no means improbable, and was necessary to enable him to prepare his breviarium totius imperii. In the nature of the case, it would take several years to carry out such a decree, and its execution in the provinces would be modified according to national customs. Zumpt assumes that Sentius Saturninus, who was sent as governor to Syria a.u. 746 (b.c. 9), and remained there till 749 (b.c. 6), began a census in Judaea with a view to substitute a head tax in money for the former customary tribute in produce; that his successor, Quintilius Varus (b.c. 6-4), continued it, and that Quirinius (b.c. 4) completed the census. This would explain the confident statement of Tertullian, which he must have derived from some good source, that enrolments were held under Augustus by Sentius Saturninus in Judaea. Another, but less probable view is that Quirinius was sent to the East as special commissioner for the census during the administration of his predecessor. In either case Luke might call the census “the first” under Quirinius, considering that he finished the census for personal taxation or registration according to the Jewish custom of family registers, and that afterwards he alone executed the second census for the taxation of property according to the Roman fashion.

The problem is not quite solved; but the establishment of the fact that Quirinius was prominently connected with the Roman government in the East about the time of the Nativity, is a considerable step towards the solution, and encourages the hope of a still better solution in the future.


The Forty-Six Years of Building of Herod’s Temple

(5) St. Joh_2:20, furnishes us a date in the remark of the Jews, in the first year of Christ’s ministry: “Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou raise it up in three days?”

We learn from Josephus that Herod began the reconstruction of the temple in Jerusalem in the eighteenth year of his reign, i.e., a.u. 732, if we reckon from his appointment by the Romans (714), or a.u. 735, if we reckon from the death of Antigonus and the conquest of Jerusalem (717). The latter is the correct view; otherwise Josephus would contradict himself, since, in another passage, he dates the building from the fifteenth year, of Herod’s reign. Adding forty-six years to 735, we have the year a.u. 781 (a.d. 27) for the first year of Christ’s ministry; and deducting thirty and a half or thirty-one years from 781, we come back to a.u. 750 (b.c. 4) as the year of the Nativity.


The Time of the Crucifixion

(6) Christ was crucified under the consulate of the two Gemini (i.e., C. Rubellius Geminus and C. Fufius Geminus), who were consuls a.u. 782 to 783 (a.d. 28 to 29). This statement is made by Tertullian, in connection with an elaborate calculation of the time of Christ’s birth and passion from the seventy weeks of Daniel. He may possibly have derived it from some public record in Rome. He erred in identifying the year of Christ’s passion with the first year of his ministry (the 15th year of Tiberius, Luk_3:1). Allowing, as we must, two or three years for his public ministry, and thirty-three years for his life, we reach the year 750 or 749 as the year of the Nativity.

Thus we arrive from these various incidental notices of three Evangelists, and the statement of Tertullian essentially at the same conclusion, which contributes its share towards establishing the credibility of the gospel history against the mythical theory. Yet in the absence of a precise date, and in view of uncertainties in calculation, there is still room for difference of opinion between the years a.u. 747 (b.c. 7), as the earliest, and a.u. 750 (b.c. 4), as the latest, possible date for the year of Christ’s birth. The French Benedictines, Sanclemente, Münter, Wurm, Ebrard, Jarvis, Alford, Jos. A. Alexander, Zumpt, Keim, decide for a.u. 747; Kepler (reckoning from the conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars in that year), Lardner, Ideler, Ewald, for 748; Petavius, Ussher, Tillemont, Browne, Angus, Robinson, Andrews, McClellan, for 749; Bengel, Wieseler, Lange, Lichtenstein, Anger, Greswell, Ellicott, Plumptre, Merivale, for 750.


II. The Day of the Nativity.

The only indication of the season of our Saviour’s birth is the fact that the Shepherds were watching their flocks in the field at that time, Luk_2:8. This fact points to any other season rather than winter, and is therefore not favorable to the traditional date, though not conclusive against it. The time of pasturing in Palestine (which has but two seasons, the dry and the wet, or summer and winter) begins, according to the Talmudists, in March, and lasts till November, when the herds are brought in from the fields, and kept under shelter till the close of February. But this refers chiefly to pastures in the wilderness, far away from towns and villages, and admits of frequent exceptions in the close neighborhood of towns, according to the character of the season. A succession of bright days in December and January is of frequent occurrence in the East, as in Western countries. Tobler, an experienced traveller in the Holy Land, says that in Bethlehem the weather about Christmas is favorable to the feeding of flocks and often most beautiful. On the other hand strong and cold winds often prevail in April, and. explain the fire mentioned Joh_18:18.

No certain conclusion can be drawn from the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, and to Egypt; nor from the journey of the Magi. As a rule February, is the best time for travelling in Egypt, March the best in the Sinaitic Peninsula, April and May, and next to it autumn, the best in Palestine; but necessity knows no rule.

The ancient tradition is of no account here, as it varied down to the fourth century. Clement of Alexandria relates that some regarded the 25th Pachon. (i.e. May 20), others the 24th or 25th Pharmuthi (April 19 or 20), as the day of Nativity.

(1) The traditional 25th of December is defended by Jerome, Chrysostom, Baronius, Lamy, Ussher, Petavius, Bengel (Ideler), Seyffarth and Jarvis. It has no historical authority beyond the fourth century, when the Christmas festival was introduced first in Rome (before a.d. 360), on the basis of several Roman festivals (the Saturnalia, Sigillaria, Juvenalia, Brumalia, or Dies natalis Invicti Solis), which were held in the latter part of December in commemoration of the golden age of liberty and equality, and in honor of the sun, who in the winter solstice is, as it were, born anew and begins his conquering march. This phenomenon in nature was regarded as an appropriate symbol of the appearance of the Sun of Righteousness dispelling the long night of sin and error. For the same reason the summer solstice (June 24) was afterwards selected for the festival of John the Baptist, as the fittest reminder of his own humble self-estimate that he must decrease, while Christ must increase (Joh_3:30). Accordingly the 25th of March was chosen for the commemoration of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, and the 24th of September for that of the conception of Elizabeth.

(2) The 6th of January has in its favor an older tradition (according to Epiphanius and Cassianus), and is sustained by Eusebius. It was celebrated in the East from the third century as the feast of the Epiphany, in commemoration of the Nativity as well as of Christ’s baptism, and afterwards of his manifestation to the Gentiles (represented by the Magi).

(3) Other writers have selected some day in February (Hug, Wieseler, Ellicott), or March (Paulus, Winer), or April (Greswell), or August (Lewin), or September (Lightfoot, who assumes, on chronological grounds, that Christ was born on the feast of Tabernacles, as he died on the Passover and sent the Spirit on Pentecost), or October (Newcome). Lardner puts the birth between the middle of August and the middle of November; Browne December 8; Lichtenstein in summer; Robinson leaves it altogether uncertain.


III. The Duration of Christ’s Life.

This is now generally confined to thirty-two or three years. The difference of one or two years arises from the different views on the length of his public ministry. Christ died and rose again in the full vigor of early manhood and so continues to live in the memory of the church. The decline and weakness of old age is inconsistent with his position as the Renovator and Saviour of mankind.

Irenaeus, otherwise (as a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of St. John) the most trustworthy witness of apostolic traditions among the fathers, held the untenable opinion that Christ attained to the ripe age of forty or fifty years and taught over ten years (beginning with the thirtieth), and that he thus passed through all the stages of human life, to save and sanctify “old men” as well as “infants and children and boys and youths.” He appeals for this view to tradition dating from St. John and supports it by an unwarranted inference from the loose conjecture of the Jews when, surprised at the claim of Jesus to have existed before Abraham was born, they asked him: “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” A similar inference from another passage, where the Jews speak of the “forty-six years” since the temple of Herod began to be constructed, while Christ spoke of the temple his body (Joh_2:20), is of course still less conclusive.


IV. Duration of Christ’s Public Ministry.

It began with the baptism by John and ended with the crucifixion. About the length of the intervening time there are (besides the isolated and decidedly erroneous view of Irenaeus) three theories, allowing respectively one, two, or three years and a few months, and designated as the bipaschal, tripaschal, and quadripaschal schemes, according to the number of Passovers. The Synoptists mention only the last Passover during the public ministry of our Lord, at which he was crucified, but they intimate that he was in Judaea more than once. (Comp. Mat_4:12; Mat_23:37; Mar_1:14; Luk_4:14; Luk_10:38; Luk_13:34) John certainly mentions three Passovers, two of which (the first and the last) Christ did attend, and perhaps a fourth, which he also attended.

(1) The bipaschal scheme confines the public ministry to one year and a few weeks or months. This was first held by the Gnostic sect of the Valentinians (who connected it with their fancy about thirty aeons), and by several fathers, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian) and perhaps by Origen and Augustine (who express themselves doubtfully). The chief argument of the fathers and those harmonists who follow them, is derived from the prophecy of “the acceptable year of the Lord,” as quoted by Christ, (Isa_61:2; comp. Luk_4:14) and from the typical meaning of the paschal lamb, which must be of “one year” and without blemish. (Exo_12:5) Far more important is the argument drawn by some modern critics from the silence of the synoptical Gospels concerning the other Passovers. But this silence is not in itself conclusive, and must yield to the positive testimony of John, which cannot be conformed to the bipaschal scheme. Moreover, it is simply impossible to crowd the events of Christ’s life, the training of the Twelve, and the development of the hostility of the Jews, into one short year.

(2) The choice therefore lies between the tripaschal and the quadripaschal schemes. The decision depends chiefly on the interpretation of the unnamed “feast of the Jews,” Joh_5:1, whether it was a Passover, or another feast; and this again depends much (though not exclusively) on a difference of reading (the feast, or a feast). The parable of the barren fig-tree, which represents the Jewish people, has been used as an argument in favor of a three years’ ministry: “Behold, these three year I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none.” The three years are certainly significant; but according to Jewish reckoning two and a half years would be called three years. More remote is the reference to the prophetic announcement of Dan_9:27: “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” The tripaschal theory is more easily reconciled with the synoptical Gospels, while the quadripaschal theory leaves more room for arranging the discourses and miracles of our Lord, and has been adopted by the majority of harmonists.

But even if we extend the public ministry to three years, it presents a disproportion between duration and effect without a parallel in history and inexplicable on purely natural grounds. In the language of an impartial historian, “the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the exhortations of moralists. This has indeed been the wellspring of whatever is best and purest in the Christian life.”

V. The Date of the Lord’s Death.


The day of the week on which Christ suffered on the cross was a Friday, during the week of the Passover, in the month of Nisan, which was the first of the twelve lunar months of the Jewish year, and included the vernal equinox. But the question is whether this Friday was the 14th, or the 15th of Nisan, that is, the day before the feast or the first day of the feast, which lasted a week. The Synoptical Gospels clearly decide for the 15th, for they all say (independently) that our Lord partook of the paschal supper on the legal day, called the “first day of unleavened bread,” (Mat_26:17, Mat_26:20; Mar_14:12; Luk_22:7, Luk_22:15. Comp. Joh_18:39, Joh_18:40) that is on the evening of the 14th, or rather at the beginning of the 15th (the paschal lambs being slain “between the two evenings,” i.e. before and after sunset, between 3 and 5 p.m. of the 14th). John, on the other hand, seems at first sight to point to the 14th, so that the death of our Lord would very nearly have coincided with the slaying of the paschal lamb. (Joh_13:1; Joh_13:29; Joh_18:28; Joh_19:14) But the three or four passages which look in that direction can, and on closer examination, must be harmonized with the Synoptical statement, which admits only of one natural interpretation. It seems strange, indeed, that, the Jewish priests should have matured their bloody counsel in the solemn night of the Passover, and urged a crucifixion on a great festival, but it agrees, with the satanic wickedness of their crime. Moreover it is on the other hand equally difficult to explain that they, together with the people, should have remained about the cross till late in the afternoon of the fourteenth, when, according to the law, they were to kill the paschal lamb and prepare for the feast; and that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea, with the pious women, should have buried the body of Jesus and so incurred defilement at that solemn hour.

The view here advocated is strengthened by astronomical calculation, which shows that in a.d. 30 the probable year of the crucifixion, the 15th of Nisan actually fell on a Friday (April 7); and this was the case only once more between the years a.d. 28 and 36, except perhaps also in 33. Consequently Christ must have been Crucified a.d. 30.

To sum up the results, the following appear to us the most probable dates in the earthly life of our Lord:




Birth a.u. 750 (Jan.?) or 749 (Dec.?) b.c. 4 or 5   

Baptism a.u. 780 (Jan.?) a.d. 27.   

Length of Public Ministry (three years and three or four months) a.u. 780-783 a.d. 27-30.   

Crucifixion a.u. 783 (15th of Nisan) a.d. 30 (April 7)

Vol.1, Chapter II (Cont’d) – The Land and the People


I. The geographical and descriptive works on the Holy Land by Reland (1714), Robinson (1838 and 1856), Ritter (1850-1855), Raumer (4th ed. 1860), Tobler (several monographs from 1849 to 1869), W. M. Thomson (revised ed. 1880), Stanley (1853, 6th ed. 1866), Tristram (1864), Schaff (1878; enlarged ed. 1889), Guérin (1869, 1875, 1880).

See Tobler’s Bibliographia geographica Palaestinae (Leipz. 1867) and the supplementary lists of more recent works by Ph. Wolff in the “Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie,” 1868 and 1872, and by Socin in the “Zeitschrift des deutschen Palaestina-Vereins,” 1878, p. 40, etc.

II. The “Histories of New Testament Times” (Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte, a special department of historical theology recently introduced), by Schneckenburger (1862), Hausrath (1868 sqq.), and Schürer (1874).

See Lit. in § 8.

Map, Palestine in the Time of Christ.

There is a wonderful harmony between the life of our Lord as described by the Evangelists, and his geographical and historical environment as known to us from contemporary writers, and illustrated and confirmed by modern discovery and research. This harmony contributes not a little to the credibility of the gospel history. The more we come to understand the age and country in which Jesus lived, the more we feel, in reading the Gospels, that we are treading on the solid ground of real history illuminated by the highest revelation from heaven. The poetry of the canonical Gospels, if we may so call their prose, which in spiritual beauty excels all poetry, is not (like that of the Apocryphal Gospels) the poetry of human fiction — “no fable old, no mythic lore, nor dream of bards and seers;” it is the poetry of revealed truth, the poetry of the sublimest facts the poetry of the infinite wisdom and love of God which, ever before had entered the imagination of man, but which assumed human flesh and blood in Jesus of Nazareth and solved through his life and work the deepest problem of our existence.

The stationary character of Oriental countries and peoples enables us to infer from their present aspect and condition what they were two thousand years ago. And in this we are aided by the multiplying discoveries which make even stones and mummies eloquent witnesses of the past. Monumental evidence appeals to the senses and overrules the critical conjectures and combinations of unbelieving skepticism, however ingenious and acute they may be. Who will doubt the history of the Pharaohs when it can be read in the pyramids and sphinxes, in the ruins of temples and rock-tombs, in hieroglyphic inscriptions and papyrus rolls which antedate the founding of Rome and the exodus of Moses and the Israelites? Who will deny the biblical records of Babylon and Nineveh after these cities have risen from the grave of centuries to tell their own story through cuneiform inscriptions, eagle-winged lions and human-headed bulls, ruins of temples and palaces disentombed from beneath the earth? We might as well erase Palestine from the map and remove it to fairy-land, as to blot out the Old and New Testament from history and resolve them into airy myths and legends.


The Land

Jesus spent his life in Palestine. It is a country of about the size of Maryland, smaller than Switzerland, and not half as large as Scotland, but favored with a healthy climate, beautiful scenery, and great variety and fertility of soil, capable of producing fruits of all lands from the snowy north to the tropical south; isolated from other countries by desert, mountain and sea, yet lying in the center of the three continents of the eastern hemisphere and bordering on the Mediterranean highway of the historic nations of antiquity, and therefore providentially adapted to develop not only the particularism of Judaism, but also the universalism of Christianity. From little Phoenicia the world has derived the alphabet, from little Greece philosophy and art, from little Palestine the best of all — the true religion and the cosmopolitan Bible. Jesus could not have been born at any other time than in the reign of Caesar Augustus, after the Jewish religion, the Greek civilization, and the Roman government had reached their maturity; nor in any other land than Palestine, the classical soil of revelation, nor among any other people than the Jews, who were predestinated and educated for centuries to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah and the fulfilment of the law and the prophets. In his infancy, a fugitive from the wrath of Herod, He passed through the Desert (probably by the short route along the Mediterranean coast) to Egypt and back again; and often may his mother have spoken to him of their brief sojourn in “the land of bondage,” out of which Jehovah had led his people, by the mighty arm of Moses, across the Red Sea and through “the great and terrible wilderness” into the land of promise. During his forty days of fasting “in the wilderness” he was, perhaps, on Mount Sinai communing with the spirits of Moses and Elijah, and preparing himself in the awfully eloquent silence of that region for the personal conflict with the Tempter of the human race, and for the new legislation of liberty from the Mount of Beatitudes. Thus the three lands of the Bible, Egypt, the cradle of Israel, the Desert, its school and playground, and Canaan, its final home, were touched and consecrated by “those blessed feet which, eighteen centuries ago, were nailed for our advantage on the bitter cross.”

He travelled on his mission of love through Judaea, Samaria, Galilee, and Peraea; he came as far north as mount Hermon, and once he crossed beyond the land of Israel to the Phoenician border and healed the demonized daughter of that heathen mother to whom he said, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it done unto thee even as thou wilt.”

We can easily follow him from place to place, on foot or on horseback, twenty or thirty miles a day, over green fields and barren rocks over hill and dale among flowers and thistles, under olive and fig-trees, pitching our tent for the night’s rest, ignoring the comforts of modern civilization, but delighting in the unfading beauties of God’s nature, reminded at every step of his wonderful dealings with his people, and singing the psalms of his servants of old.

We may kneel at his manger in Bethlehem, the town of Judaea where Jacob buried his beloved Rachel, and a pillar, now a white mosque, marks her grave; where Ruth was rewarded for her filial devotion, and children may still be seen gleaning after the reapers in the grainfields, as she did in the field of Boaz; where his ancestor, the poet-king, was born and called from his father’s flocks to the throne of Israel; where shepherds are still watching the sheep as in that solemn night when the angelic host thrilled their hearts with the heavenly anthem of glory to God, and peace on earth to men of his good pleasure; where the sages from the far East offered their sacrifices in the name of future generations of heathen converts; where Christian gratitude has erected the oldest church in Christendom, the “Church of the Nativity,” and inscribed on the solid rock in the “Holy Crypt,” in letters of silver, the simple but pregnant inscription: “Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est.” When all the surroundings correspond with the Scripture narrative, it is of small account whether the traditional grotto of the Nativity is the identical spot — though pointed out as such it would seem already in the middle of the second century.

We accompany him in a three days’ journey from Bethlehem to Nazareth, his proper home, where he spent thirty silent years of his life in quiet preparation for his public work, unknown in his divine character to his neighbors and even the members of his own household (Joh_7:5), except his saintly parents. Nazareth is still there, a secluded, but charmingly located mountain village, with narrow, crooked and dirty streets, with primitive stone houses where men, donkeys and camels are huddled together, surrounded by cactus hedges and fruitful gardens of vines, olive, fig, and pomegranates, and favorably distinguished from the wretched villages of modern Palestine by comparative industry, thrift, and female beauty; the never failing “Virgin’s Fountain,” whither Jesus must often have accompanied his mother for the daily supply of water, is still there near the Greek Church of the Annunciation, and is the evening rendezvous of the women and maidens, with their water-jars gracefully poised on the head or shoulder, and a row of silver coins adorning their forehead; and behind the village still rises the hill, fragrant with heather and thyme, from which he may often have cast his eye eastward to Gilboa, where Jonathan fell, and to the graceful, cone-like Tabor — the Righi of Palestine — northward to the lofty Mount Hermon — the Mont Blanc of Palestine — southward to the fertile plain of Esdraëlon — the classic battle-ground of Israel — and westward to the ridge of Carmel, the coast of Tyre and Sidon and the blue waters of the Mediterranean sea — the future highway of his gospel of peace to mankind. There he could feast upon the rich memories of David and Jonathan, Elijah and Elisha, and gather images of beauty for his lessons of wisdom. We can afford to smile at the silly superstition which points out the kitchen of the Virgin Mary beneath the Latin Church of the Annunciation, the suspended column where she received the angel’s message, the carpenter shop of Joseph and Jesus, the synagogue in which he preached on the acceptable year of the Lord, the stone table at which he ate with his disciples, the Mount of Precipitation two miles off, and the stupendous monstrosity of the removal of the dwelling-house of Mary by angels in the air across the sea to Loretto in Italy! These are childish fables, in striking contrast with the modest silence of the Gospels, and neutralized by the rival traditions of Greek and Latin monks; but nature in its beauty is still the same as Jesus saw and interpreted it in his incomparable parables, which point from nature to nature’s God and from visible symbols to eternal truths.

Jesus was inaugurated into his public ministry by his baptism in the fast-flowing river Jordan, which connects the Old and New Covenant. The traditional spot, a few miles from Jericho, is still visited by thousands of Christian pilgrims from all parts of the world at the Easter season, who repeat the spectacle of the multitudinous baptisms of John, when the people came “from Jerusalem and all Judaea and all the region round about the Jordan” to confess their sins and to receive his water-baptism of repentance.

The ruins of Jacob’s well still mark the spot where Jesus sat down weary of travel, but not of his work of mercy and opened to the poor woman of Samaria the well of the water of life and instructed her in the true spiritual worship of God; and the surrounding landscape, Mount Gerizim, and Mount Ebal, the town of Shechem, the grain-fields whitening to the harvest, all illustrate and confirm the narrative in the fourth chapter of John; while the fossil remnant of the Samaritans at Nablous (the modern Shechem) still perpetuates the memory of the paschal sacrifice according to the Mosaic prescription, and their traditional hatred of the Jews.

We proceed northward to Galilee where Jesus spent the most popular part of his public ministry and spoke so many of his undying words of wisdom and love to the astonished multitudes. That province was once thickly covered with forests, cultivated fields, plants and trees of different climes, prosperous villages and an industrious population. The rejection of the Messiah and the Moslem invasion have long since turned that paradise of nature into a desolate wilderness, yet could not efface the holy memories and the illustrations of the gospel history. There is the lake with its clear blue waters, once whitened with ships sailing from shore to shore, and the scene of a naval battle between the Romans and the Jews, now utterly forsaken, but still abounding in fish, and subject to sudden violent storms, such as the one which Jesus commanded to cease; there are the hills from which he proclaimed the Sermon on the Mount, the Magna Charta of his kingdom, and to which he often retired for prayer; there on the western shore is the plain of Gennesaret, which still exhibits its natural fertility by the luxuriant growth of briers and thistles and the bright red magnolias overtopping them; there is the dirty city of Tiberias, built by Herod Antipas, where Jewish rabbis still scrupulously search the letter of the Scriptures without finding Christ in them; a few wretched Moslem huts called Mejdel still indicate the birth-place of Mary Magdalene, whose penitential tears and resurrection joys are a precious legacy of Christendom. And although the cities of Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazim, “where most of his mighty works were done” have utterly disappeared from the face of the earth, and their very sites are disputed among scholars, thus verifying to the letter the fearful prophecy of the Son of Man, (Mat_11:20-24; Luk_10:13-15) yet the ruins of Tell Hum and Kerazeh bear their eloquent testimony to the judgment of God for neglected privileges, and the broken columns and friezes with a pot of manna at Tell Hum are probably the remains of the very synagogue which the good Roman centurion built for the people of Capernaum, and in which Christ delivered his wonderful discourse on the bread of life from heaven.

Caesarea Philippi, formerly and now called Banias (or Paneas, Paneion, from the heathen sanctuary of Pan), at the foot of Hermon, marks the northern termination of the Holy Land and of the travels of the Lord, and the boundary-line between the Jews and the Gentiles; and that Swiss-like, picturesque landscape, the most beautiful in Palestine, in full view of the fresh, gushing source of the Jordan, and at the foot of the snow-crowned monarch of Syrian mountains seated on a throne of rock, seems to give additional force to Peter’s fundamental confession and Christ’s prophecy of his Church universal built upon the immovable rock of his eternal divinity.

The closing scenes of the earthly life of our Lord and the beginning of his heavenly life took place in Jerusalem and the immediate neighborhood, where every spot calls to mind the most important events that ever occurred or can occur in this world. Jerusalem, often besieged and destroyed, and as often rebuilt “on her own heap,” is indeed no more the Jerusalem of Herod, which lies buried many feet beneath the rubbish and filth of centuries; even the site of Calvary is disputed, and superstition has sadly disfigured and obscured the historic associations. “Christ is not there, He is risen.” (Mat_28:6) There is no more melancholy sight in the world than the present Jerusalem as contrasted with its former glory, and with the teeming life of Western cities; and yet so many are the sacred memories clustering around it and perfuming the very air, that even Rome must yield the palm of interest to the city which witnessed the crucifixion and the resurrection. The Herodian temple on Mount Moriah, once the gathering place of pious Jews from all the earth, and enriched with treasures of gold and silver which excited the avarice of the conquerors, has wholly disappeared, and “not one stone is left upon another,” in literal fulfilment of Christ’s prophecy; (Mat_24:2; Mar_13:2; Luk_19:44) but the massive foundations of Solomon’s structure around the temple area still bear the marks of the Phoenician workmen; the “wall of wailing” is moistened with the tears of the Jews who assemble there every Friday to mourn over the sins and misfortunes of their forefathers; and if we look down from Mount Olivet upon Mount Moriah and the Moslem Dome of the Rock, the city even now presents one of the most imposing, as well as most profoundly affecting sights on earth. The brook Kedron, which Jesus crossed in that solemn night after the last Passover, and Gethsemane with its venerable olive-trees and reminiscences of the agony, and Mount Olivet from which he rose to heaven, are still there, and behind it the remnant of Bethany, that home of peace and holy friendship which sheltered him the last nights before the crucifixion. Standing on that mountain with its magnificent view, or at the turning point of the road from Jericho and Bethany, and looking over Mount Moriah and the holy city, we fully understand why the Saviour wept and exclaimed, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate!

Thus the Land and the Book illustrate and confirm each other. The Book is still full of life and omnipresent in the civilized world; the Land is groaning under the irreformable despotism of the “unspeakable” Turk, which acts like a blast of the Sirocco from the desert. Palestine lies under the curse of God. It is at best a venerable ruin “in all the imploring beauty of decay,” yet not without hope of some future resurrection in God’s own good time. But in its very desolation it furnishes evidence for the truth of the Bible. It is “a fifth Gospel,” engraven upon rocks.


The People

Is there a better argument for Christianity than the Jews? Is there a more patent and a more stubborn fact in history than that intense and unchangeable Semitic nationality with its equally intense religiosity? Is it not truly symbolized by the bush in the desert ever burning and never consumed? Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus Epiphanes, Titus, Hadrian exerted their despotic power for the extermination of the Jews; Hadrian’s edict forbade circumcision and all the rites of their religion; the intolerance of Christian rulers treated them for ages with a sort of revengeful cruelty, as if every Jew were personally responsible for the crime of the crucifixion. And, behold, the race still lives as tenaciously as ever, unchanged and unchangeable in its national traits, an omnipresent power in Christendom. It still produces, in its old age, remarkable men of commanding influence for good or evil in the commercial, political, and literary world; we need only recall such names as Spinoza, Rothschild, Disraeli, Mendelssohn, Heine, Neander. If we read the accounts of the historians and satirists of imperial Rome about the Jews in their filthy quarter across the Tiber, we are struck by the identity of that people with their descendants in the ghettos of modern Rome, Frankfurt, and New York. Then they excited as much as they do now the mingled contempt and wonder of the world; they were as remarkable then for contrasts of intellectual beauty and striking ugliness, wretched poverty and princely wealth; they liked onions and garlic, and dealt in old clothes, broken glass, and sulphur matches, but knew how to push themselves from poverty and filth into wealth and influence; they were rigid monotheists and scrupulous legalists who would strain out a gnat and swallow a camel; then as now they were temperate, sober, industrious, well regulated and affectionate in their domestic relations and careful for the religious education of their children. The majority were then, as they are now, carnal descendants of Jacob, the Supplanter, a small minority spiritual children of Abraham, the friend of God and father of the faithful. Out of this gifted race have come, at the time of Jesus and often since, the bitterest foes and the warmest friends of Christianity.

Among that peculiar people Jesus spent his earthly life, a Jew of the Jews, yet in the highest sense the Son of Man, the second Adam, the representative Head and Regenerator of the whole race. For thirty years of reserve and preparation he hid his divine glory and restrained his own desire to do good, quietly waiting till the voice of prophecy after centuries of silence announced, in the wilderness of Judaea and on the banks of the Jordan, the coming of the kingdom of God, and startled the conscience of the people with the call to repent. Then for three years he mingled freely with his countrymen. Occasionally he met and healed Gentiles also, who were numerous in Galilee; he praised their faith the like of which he had not found in Israel, and prophesied that many shall come from the east and the west and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness. (Mat_8:5-13; Mat_15:21-28; Luk_7:1-9) He conversed with a woman of Samaria, to the surprise of his disciples, on the sublimest theme, and rebuked the national prejudice of the Jews by holding up a good Samaritan as a model for imitation. (Joh_4:5-42; Luk_10:30-37) It was on the occasion of a visit from some “Greeks,” shortly before the crucifixion, that he uttered the remarkable prophecy of the universal attraction of his cross. (Joh_12:20-32) But these were exceptions. His mission, before the resurrection, was to the lost sheep of Israel. (Mat_10:5, Mat_10:6; Mat_15:14)

He associated with all ranks of Jewish society, attracting the good and repelling the bad, rebuking vice and relieving misery, but most of his time he spent among the middle classes who constituted the bone and sinew of the nation, the farmers and workingmen of Galilee, who are described to us as an industrious, brave and courageous race, taking the lead in seditious political movements, and holding out to the last moment in the defence of Jerusalem. At the same time they were looked upon by the stricter Jews of Judaea as semi-heathens and semi-barbarians; hence the question, “Can any good come out of Nazareth, and “Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” He selected his apostles from plain, honest, unsophisticated fishermen who became fishers of men and teachers of future ages. In Judaea he came in contact with the religious leaders, and it was proper that he should close his ministry and establish his church in the capital of the nation.

He moved among the people as a Rabbi (my Lord) or a Teacher, and under this name he is usually addressed. The Rabbis were the intellectual and moral leaders of the nation, theologians, lawyers, and preachers, the expounders of the law, the keepers of the conscience, the regulators of the daily life and conduct; they were classed with Moses and the prophets, and claimed equal reverence. They stood higher than the priests who owed their position to the accident of birth, and not to personal merit. They coveted the chief seats in the synagogues and at feasts; they loved to be greeted in the markets and to be called of men, “Rabbi, Rabbi.” Hence our Lord’s warning: “Be not ye called ‘Rabbi:’ for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.” (Mat_23:8; comp. Mar_12:38, Mar_12:39; Luk_11:43; Luk_20:46) They taught in the temple, in the synagogue, and in the schoolhouse (Bethhamidrash), and introduced their pupils, sitting on the floor at their feet, by asking, and answering questions, into the intricacies of Jewish casuistry. They accumulated those oral traditions which were afterwards embodied in the Talmud, that huge repository of Jewish wisdom and folly. They performed official acts gratuitously. They derived their support from an honorable trade or free gifts of their pupils, or they married into rich families. Rabbi Hillel warned against making gain of the crown (of the law), but also against excess of labor, saying, “Who is too much given to trade, will not become wise.” In the book of Jesus Son of Sirach (which was written about 200 b.c.) a trade is represented as incompatible with the vocation of a student and teacher, but the prevailing sentiment at the time of Christ favored a combination of intellectual and physical labor as beneficial to health and character. One-third of the day should be given to study one-third to prayer, one third to work. “Love manual labor,” was the motto of Shemaja, a teacher of Hillel. “He who does not teach his son a trade,” said Rabbi Jehuda, “is much the same as if he taught him to be a robber.” “There is no trade,” says the Talmud, “which can be dispensed with; but happy is he who has in his parents the example of a trade of the more excellent sort.”

Jesus himself was not only the son of a carpenter, but during his youth he worked at that trade himself. When he entered upon his public ministry the zeal for God’s house claimed all his time and strength, and his modest wants were more than supplied by a few grateful disciples from Galilee, so that something was left for the benefit of the poor. St. Paul learned the trade of tentmaking, which was congenial to his native Cilicia, and derived from it his support even as an apostle, that he might relieve his congregations and maintain a noble independence. (Act_18:3; Act_20:33-35; 1Th_2:9; 2Th_3:8; 2Co_11:7-9)

Jesus availed himself of the usual places of public instruction in the synagogue and the temple, but preached also out of doors, on the mountain, at the sea-side, and wherever the people assembled to hear him. “I have spoken openly to the world; I ever taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and in secret spake I nothing. (Joh_18:20. Comp. Mat_4:23; Mat_9:35; Mat_21:23; Mat_26:55; Mar_1:21, Mar_1:39; Mar_14:49; Luk_2:46; Luk_4:14-16, Luk_4:31, Luk_4:44; Luk_13:10; Luk_21:37) Paul likewise taught in the synagogue wherever he had an opportunity on his missionary journeys. (Act_13:14-16; Act_16:13; Act_17:2, Act_17:3) The familiar mode of teaching was by disputation, by asking and answering questions on knotty points, of the law, by parables and sententious sayings, which easily lodged in the memory; the Rabbi sat on a chair, the pupils stood or sat on the floor at his feet. Knowledge of the Law of God was general among the Jews and considered the most important possession. They remembered the commandments better than their own name. Instruction began in early childhood in the family and was carried on in the school and the synagogue. Timothy learned the sacred Scriptures on the knees of his mother and grandmother. (2Ti_1:5; 2Ti_3:15; comp. Eph_6:4) Josephus boasts, at the expense of his superiors, that when only fourteen years of age he had such an exact knowledge of the law that he was consulted by the high priest and the first men of Jerusalem. Schoolmasters were appointed in every town, and children were taught to read in their sixth or seventh year, but writing was probably a rare accomplishment.

The synagogue was the local, the temple the national center of religious and social life; the former on the weekly Sabbath (and also on Monday and Thursday), the latter on the Passover and the other annual festivals. Every town had a synagogue, large cities had many, especially Alexandria and Jerusalem. The worship was very simple: it consisted of prayers, singing, the reading of sections from the Law and the Prophets in Hebrew, followed by a commentary and homily in the vernacular Aramaic. There was a certain democratic liberty of prophesying, especially outside of Jerusalem. Any Jew of age could read the Scripture lessons and make comments on invitation of the ruler of the synagogue. This custom suggested to Jesus the most natural way of opening his public ministry. When he returned from his baptism to Nazareth, “he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And there was delivered unto him the roll of the prophet Isaiah. And he opened the roll and found the place where it was written (Isa_61:1, Isa_61:2) ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; he hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down: and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, ‘To-day hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears.’ And all bare witness unto him, and wondered at the words of grace which proceeded out of his mouth: and they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Luk_4:16-22)

On the great festivals he visited from his twelfth year the capital of the nation where the Jewish religion unfolded all its splendor and attraction. Large caravans with trains of camels and asses loaded with provisions and rich offerings to the temple, were set in motion from the North and the South, the East and the West for the holy city, “the joy of the whole earth;” and these yearly pilgrimages, singing the beautiful Pilgrim Psalms (Psa_120:1-7 to Psa_134:1-3), contributed immensely to the preservation and promotion of the common faith, as the Moslem pilgrimages to Mecca keep up the life of Islam. We may greatly reduce the enormous figures of Josephus, who on one single Passover reckoned the number of strangers and residents in Jerusalem at 2,700,000 and the number of slaughtered lambs at 256,500, but there still remains the fact of the vast extent and solemnity of the occasion. Even now in her decay, Jerusalem (like other Oriental cities) presents a striking picturesque appearance at Easter, when Christian pilgrims from the far West mingle with the many-colored Arabs, Turks, Greeks, Latins, Spanish and Polish Jews, and crowd to suffocation the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. How much more grand and dazzling must this cosmopolitan spectacle have been when the priests (whose number Josephus estimates at 20,000) with the broidered tunic, the fine linen girdle, the showy turban, the high priests with the ephod of blue and purple and scarlet, the breastplate and the mitre, the Levites with their pointed caps, the Pharisees with their broad phylacteries and fringes, the Essenes in white dresses and with prophetic mien, Roman soldiers with proud bearing, Herodian courtiers in oriental pomposity, contrasted with beggars and cripples in rags, when pilgrims innumerable, Jews and proselytes from all parts of the empire, “Parthians and Medes and Elamites and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, in Judaea and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, in Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and parts of Libya about Cyrene, and sojourners from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans, and Arabians,” (Act_2:8-12) all wearing their national costume and speaking a Babel of tongues, surged through the streets, and pressed up to Mount Moriah where “the glorious temple rear’d her pile, far off appearing like a mount of alabaster, topp’d with golden spires” and where on the fourteenth day of the first month columns of sacrificial smoke arose from tens of thousands of paschal lambs, in historical commemoration of the great deliverance from the land of bondage, and in typical prefiguration of the still greater redemption from the slavery of sin and death.

To the outside observer the Jews at that time were the most religious people on earth, and in some sense this is true. Never was a nation so ruled by the written law of God; never did a nation so carefully and scrupulously study its sacred books, and pay greater reverence to its priests and teachers. The leaders of the nation looked with horror and contempt upon the unclean, uncircumcised Gentiles, and confirmed the people in their spiritual pride and conceit. No wonder that the Romans charged the Jews with the odium generis humani.

Yet, after all, this intense religiosity was but a shadow of true religion. It was a praying corpse rather than a living body. Alas! the Christian Church in some ages and sections presents a similar sad spectacle of the deceptive form of godliness without its power. The rabbinical learning and piety bore the same relation to the living oracles of God as sophistic scholasticism to Scriptural theology, and Jesuitical casuistry to Christian ethics. The Rabbis spent all their energies in “fencing” the law so as to make it inaccessible. They analyzed it to death. They surrounded it with so many hair-splitting distinctions and refinements that the people could not see the forest for the trees or the roof for the tiles, and mistook the shell for the kernel. Thus they made void the Word of God by the traditions of men. A slavish formalism and mechanical ritualism was substituted for spiritual piety, an ostentatious sanctimoniousness for holiness of character, scrupulous casuistry for genuine morality, the killing letter for the life-giving spirit, and the temple of God was turned into a house of merchandise.

The profanation and perversion of the spiritual into the carnal, and of the inward into the outward, invaded even the holy of holies of the religion of Israel, the Messianic promises and hopes which run like a golden thread from the protevangelium in paradise lost to the voice of John the Baptist pointing to the Lamb of God. The idea of a spiritual Messiah who should crush the serpent’s head and redeem Israel from the bondage of sin, was changed into the conception of a political deliverer who should re-establish the throne of David in Jerusalem, and from that center rule over the Gentiles to the ends of the earth. The Jews of that time could not separate David’s Son, as they called the Messiah, from David’s sword, sceptre and crown. Even the apostles were affected by this false notion, and hoped to secure the chief places of honor in that great revolution; hence they could not understand the Master when he spoke to them of his, approaching passion and death. (Mat_16:21-23; Mar_8:31-33; Luk_9:22, Luk_9:44, Luk_9:45; Luk_18:34; Luk_24:21; Joh_12:34)

The state of public opinion concerning the Messianic expectations as set forth in the Gospels is fully confirmed by the preceding and contemporary Jewish literature, as the Sibylline Books (about b.c. 140), the remarkable Book of Enoch (of uncertain date, probably from b.c. 130-30), the Psalter of Solomon (b.c. 63-48), the Assumption of Moses, Philo and Josephus, the Apocalypse of Baruch, and the Fourth Book of Esdras. In all of them the Messianic kingdom, or the kingdom of God, is represented as an earthly paradise of the Jews, as a kingdom of this world, with Jerusalem for its capital. It was this popular idol of a pseudo-Messiah with which Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, when he showed him all the kingdoms of the world; well knowing that if he could convert him to this carnal creed, and induce him to abuse his miraculous power for selfish gratification, vain ostentation, and secular ambition, he would most effectually defeat the scheme of redemption. The same political aspiration was a powerful lever of the rebellion against the Roman yoke which terminated in the destruction of Jerusalem, and it revived again in the rebellion of Bar-Cocheba only to end in a similar disaster.

Such was the Jewish religion at the time of Christ. He was the only teacher in Israel who saw through the hypocritical mask to the rotten heart. None of the great Rabbis, no Hillel, no Shammai, no Gamaliel attempted or even conceived of a reformation; on the contrary, they heaped tradition upon tradition and accumulated the talmudic rubbish of twelve large folios and 2947 leaves, which represents the anti-Christian petrifaction of Judaism; while the four Gospels have regenerated humanity and are the life and the light of the civilized world to this day.

Jesus, while moving within the outward forms of the Jewish religion of his age, was far above it and revealed a new world of ideas. He, too, honored the law of God, but by unfolding its deepest spiritual meaning and fulfilling it in precept and example. Himself a Rabbi, he taught as one having direct authority from God, and not as the scribes. How he arraigned those hypocrites seated on Moses’ seat, those blind leaders of the blind, who lay heavy burdens on men’s shoulders without touching them with their finger; who shut the kingdom of heaven against men, and will not enter themselves; who tithe the mint and the anise and the cumin, and leave undone the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel; who are like unto whited sepulchres which outwardly appear beautiful indeed, but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. But while he thus stung the pride of the leaders, he cheered and elevated the humble and lowly. He blessed little children, he encouraged the poor, he invited the weary, he fed the hungry he healed the sick, he converted publicans and sinners, and laid the foundation strong and deep, in God’s eternal love, for a new society and a new humanity. It was one of the sublimest as well as loveliest moments in the life of Jesus when the disciples asked him, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? and when he called a little child, set him in the midst of them and said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.” (Mat_18:1-6; comp. Mar_10:13-16; Luk_18:15-17) And that other moment when he thanked his heavenly Father for revealing unto babes the things of the kingdom which were hid from the wise, and invited all that labor and are heavy laden to come to him for rest.

He knew from the beginning that he was the Messiah of God and the King of Israel. This consciousness reached its maturity at his baptism when he received the Holy Spirit without measure. (Joh_1:32-34; comp. Joh_3:34) To this conviction he clung unwaveringly, even in those dark hours of the apparent failure of his cause, after Judas had betrayed him, after Peter, the confessor and rock-apostle, had denied him, and everybody had forsaken him. He solemnly affirmed his Messiahship before the tribunal of the Jewish highpriest; he assured the heathen representative of the Roman empire that he was a king, though not of this world, and when hanging on the cross he assigned to the dying robber a place in his kingdom. (Mat_26:64; Joh_18:37; Luk_23:43) But before that time and in the days of his greatest popularity he carefully avoided every publication and demonstration which might have encouraged the prevailing idea of a political Messiah and an uprising of the people. He chose for himself the humblest of the Messianic titles which represents his condescension to our common lot, while at the same time it implies his unique position as the representative head of the human family, as the ideal, the perfect, the universal, the archetypal Man. He calls himself habitually “the Son of Man” who “hath not where to lay his head,” who “came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many,” who “hath power to forgive sins,” who “came to seek and to save that which was lost.” When Peter made the great confession at Caesarea Philippi, Christ accepted it, but immediately warned him of his approaching passion and death, from which the disciple shrunk in dismay. (Mat_16:20-23; Mar_8:30-33; Luk_9:21-27) And with the certain expectation of his crucifixion, but also of his triumphant resurrection on the third day, he entered in calm and sublime fortitude on his last journey to Jerusalem which “killeth the prophets,” and nailed him to the cross as a false Messiah and blasphemer. But in the infinite wisdom and mercy of God the greatest crime in history was turned into the greatest blessing to mankind.

We must conclude then that the life and work of Christ, while admirably adapted to the condition and wants of his age and people, and receiving illustration and confirmation from his environment, cannot be explained from any contemporary or preceding intellectual or moral resources. He learned nothing from human teachers. His wisdom was not of this world. He needed no visions and revelations like the prophets and apostles. He came directly from his great Father in heaven, and when he spoke of heaven he spoke of his familiar home. He spoke from the fullness of God dwelling in him. And his words were verified by deeds. Example is stronger than precept. The wisest sayings remain powerless until they are incarnate in a living person. It is the life which is the light of men. In purity of doctrine and holiness of character combined in perfect harmony, Jesus stands alone, unapproached and unapproachable. He breathed a fresh life from heaven into his and all subsequent ages. He is the author of a new moral creation.

Jesus and Hillel. — The infinite elevation of Christ above the men of his time and nation, and his deadly conflict with the Pharisees and scribes are so evident that it seems preposterous and absurd to draw a parallel between him and Hillel or any other Rabbi. And yet this has been done by some modern Jewish Rabbis, as Geiger, Grätz, Friedländer, who boldly affirm, without a shadow of historical proof, that Jesus was a Pharisee, a pupil of Hillel, and indebted to him for his highest moral principles. By this left-handed compliment they mean to depreciate his originality. Abraham Geiger (d. 1874) says, in his Das Judenthum und seine Geschichte (Breslau, 2d ed. 1865, vol. I. p. 117): “Jesus war ein Jude, ein pharisäischer Jude mit galiläischer Färbung, ein Mann der die Hofnungen der Zeit theilte und diese Hoffnungen in sich erfüllt glaubte. Einen neuen Gedanken sprach er keineswegs aus [!], auch brach er nicht etwa die Schranken der Nationalität …. Er hob nicht im Entferntesten etwas vom Judenthum auf; er war ein Pharisäer, der auch in den Wegen Hillels ging.” This view is repeated by Rabbi Dr. M. H. Friedländer, in his Geschichtsbilder aus der Zeit der Tanaiten und Amoräer. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Talmuds (Brünn, 1879, p. 32): “Jesus, oder Jeschu, war der Sohn eines Zimmermeisters, Namens Josef, aus Nazareth. Seine Mutter hiess Mirjam oder Maria. Selbst der als conservativer Katholik [sic!] wie als bedeutender Gelehrter bekannte Ewald nennt ihn ‘Jesus den Sohn Josef’, …. Wenn auch Jesus’ Gelehrsamkeit nicht riesig war, da die Galiläer auf keiner hohen Stufe der Cultur standen, so zeichnete er sich doch durch Seelenadel, Gemüthlichkeit und Herzensgüte vortheilhaft aus. Hillel I. scheint sein Vorbild und Musterbild gewesen zu sein; denn der hillelianische Grundsatz: ‘Was dir nicht recht ist, füge, deinen Nebenmenschen nicht zu,’ war das Grundprincip seiner Lehren.” Renan makes a similar assertion in his Vie de Jésus (Chap. III. p. 35), but with considerable qualifications: “Par sa pauvreté humblement supportée, par la douceur de son caractère, par l’opposition qu’il faisait aux hypocrites et aux prêtres, Hillel fut le vrai maître de Jésus, s’il est permis de parler de maître, quand il s’agit d’une si haute originalité.” This comparison has been effectually disposed of by such able scholars as Dr. Delitzsch, in his valuable pamphlet Jesus und Hillel (Erlangen, 3d revised ed. 1879, 40 pp.); Ewald, V. 12-48 (Die Schule Hillel’s und deren Gegner); Keim I. 268-272; Schürer, p. 456; and Farrar, Life of Christ, II. 453-460. All these writers come to the same conclusion of the perfect independence and originality of Jesus. Nevertheless it is interesting to examine the facts in the case.

Hillel and Shammai are the most distinguished among the Jewish Rabbis. They were contemporary founders of two rival schools of rabbinical theology (as Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus of two schools of scholastic theology). It is strange that Josephus does not mention them, unless he refers to them under the Hellenized names of Sameas and Pollion; but these names agree better with Shemaja and Abtalion, two celebrated Pharisees and teachers of Hillel and Shammai; moreover he designates Sameas as a disciple of Pollion. (See Ewald, p. 22-26; Schürer, p. 455). The Talmudic tradition has obscured their history and embellished it with many fables.

Hillel I. or the Great was a descendant of the royal family of David, and born at Babylon. He removed to Jerusalem in great poverty, and died about a.d. 10. He is said to have lived 120 years, like Moses, 40 years without learning, 40 years as a student, 40 years as a teacher. He was the grandfather of the wise Gamaliel in whose family the presidency of the Sanhedrin was hereditary for several generations. By his burning zeal for knowledge, and his pure, gentle and amiable character, he attained the highest renown. He is said to have understood all languages, even the unknown tongues of mountains, hills, valleys, trees, wild and tame beasts, and demons. He was called “the gentle, the holy, the scholar of Ezra.” There was a proverb: “Man should be always as meek as Hillel, and not quick-tempered as Shammai.” He differed from Rabbi Shammai by a milder interpretation of the law, but on some points, as the mighty question whether it was right or wrong to eat an egg laid on a Sabbath day, he took the more rigid view. A talmudic tract is called Beza, The Egg, after this famous dispute. What a distance from him who said: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: so then the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Many wise sayings, though partly obscure and of doubtful interpretation, are attributed to Hillel in the tract Pirke Aboth (which is embodied in the Mishna and enumerates, in ch. 1, the pillars of the legal traditions from Moses down to the destruction of Jerusalem). The following are the best:

“Be a disciple of Aaron, peace-loving and peace-making; love men, and draw them to the law.”

“Whoever abuses a good name (or, is ambitious of aggrandizing his name) destroys it.”

“Whoever does not increase his knowledge diminishes it.”

“Separate not thyself from the congregation, and have no confidence in thyself till the day of thy death.”

“If I do not care for my soul, who will do it for me? If I care only for my own soul, what am I? If not now, when then?”

“Judge not thy neighbor till thou art in his situation.”

“Say not, I will repent when I have leisure, lest that leisure should never be thine.”

“The passionate man will never be a teacher.”

“In the place where there is not a man, be thou a man.”

Yet his haughty Pharisaism is clearly seen in this utterance: “No uneducated man easily avoids sin; no common person is pious.” The enemies of Christ in the Sanhedrin said the same (Joh_7:49): “This multitude that knoweth not the law are accursed.” Some of his teachings are of doubtful morality, e.g. his decision that, in view of a vague expression in Deu_24:1, a man might put away his wife “even if she cooked his dinner badly.” This is, however, softened down by modern Rabbis so as to mean: “if she brings discredit on his home.”

Once a heathen came to Rabbi Shammai and promised to become a proselyte if he could teach him the whole law while he stood on one leg. Shammai got angry and drove him away with a stick. The heathen went with the same request to Rabbi Hillel, who never lost his temper, received him courteously and gave him, while standing on one leg, the following effective answer:

Do not to thy neighbor what is disagreeable to thee. This is the whole Law; all the rest is commentary: go and do that.” (See Delitzsch, p. 17; Ewald, V. 31, Comp. IV. 270).

This is the wisest word of Hillel and the chief ground of a comparison with Jesus. But

1. It is only the negative expression of the positive precept of the gospel, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” and of the golden rule, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, even so do ye also to them” (Mat_7:12; Luk_6:31). There is a great difference between not doing any harm, and doing good. The former is consistent with selfishness and every sin which does not injure our neighbor. The Saviour, by presenting God’s benevolence (Mat_7:11) as the guide of duty, directs us to do to our neighbor all the good we can, and he himself set the highest example of self-denying love by sacrificing his life for sinners.

2. It is disconnected from the greater law of supreme love to God, without which true love to our neighbor is impossible. “On these two commandments,” combined and inseparable, hang all the law and the prophets” (Mat_22:37-40).

3. Similar sayings are found long before Hillel, not only in the Pentateuch and the Book of Tobith Deu_4:15: (ὃ μισεῖς μηδενὶ ποιήσῃς, “Do that to no man which thou hatest”), but substantially even among the heathen (Confucius, Buddha, Herodotus, Isocrates, Seneca, Quintilian), but always either in the negative form, or with reference to a particular case or class; e.g. Isocrates, Ad Demonic. c. 4: “Be such towards your parents as thou shalt pray thy children shall be towards thyself;” and the same In Aeginet. c. 23: “That you would be such judges to me as you would desire to obtain for yourselves.” See Wetstein on Mat_7:12 (Nov. Test. I. 341 sq.). Parallels to this and other biblical maxims have been gathered in considerable number from the Talmud and the classics by Lightfoot, Grotius, Wetstein, Deutsch, Spiess, Ramage; but what are they all compared with the Sermon on the Mount? Moreover, si duo idem dicunt, non est idem. As to the rabbinical parallels, we must remember that they were not committed to writing before the second century, and that, Delitzsch says (Ein Tag in Capernaum, p. 137), “not a few sayings of Christ, circulated by Jewish Christians, reappeared anonymously or under false names in the Talmuds and Midrashim.”

4. No amount of detached words of wisdom constitute an organic system of ethics any, more than a heap of marble blocks constitute a palace or temple; and the best system of ethics is unable to produce a holy life, and is worthless without it.

We may admit without hesitation that Hillel was “the greatest and best of all Pharisees” (Ewald), but he was far inferior to John the Baptist; and to compare him with Christ is sheer blindness or folly. Ewald calls such comparison “utterly perverse” (grundverkehrt, v. 48). Farrar remarks that the distance between Hillel and Jesus is “a distance absolutely immeasurable, and the resemblance of his teaching to that of Jesus is the resemblance of a glow-worm to the sun” (II. 455). “The fundamental tendencies of both,” says Delitzsch (p. 23), “are as widely apart as he and earth. That of Hillel is legalistic, casuistic, and nationally contracted; that of Jesus is universally religious, moral and human. Hillel lives and moves in the externals, Jesus in the spirit of the law.” He was not even a reformer, as Geiger and Friedländer would make him, for what they adduce as proofs are mere trifles of interpretation, and involve no new principle or idea.

Viewed as a mere human teacher, the absolute originality of Jesus consists in this, “that his words have touched the hearts of all men in all ages, and have regenerated the moral life of the world” (Farrar, II. 454). But Jesus is far more than a Rabbi, more than a sage and saint more than a reformer, more than a benefactor; he is the author of the true religion, the prophet, priest and king, the renovator, the Saviour of men, the founder of a spiritual kingdom as vast as the race and as long as eternity.

Vol. 1, Chapter II (Cont’d) – Apocryphal Tradition


We add some notes of minor interest connected with the history of Christ outside of the only authentic record in the Gospel.


I. The Apocryphal Sayings of Our Lord

The canonical Gospels contain all that is necessary for us to know about the words and deeds of our Lord, although many more might have been recorded (Joh_20:30; Joh_21:25). Their early composition and reception in the church precluded the possibility of a successful rivalry of oral tradition. The extra-biblical sayings of our Lord are mere fragments, few in number, and with one exception rather unimportant, or simply variations of genuine words.

They have been collected by Fabricius, in Codex Apocr. N. T., I pp. 321-335; Grabe: Spicilegium SS. Patrum, ed. alt. I. 12 sqq., 326 sq.; Koerner: De sermonibus Christi ἀγράφοις (Lips. 1776); Routh, in Reliq. Sacrae, vol. I. 9-12, etc.; Rud. Hofmann, in Das Leben Jesu nach den Apokryphen (Leipz. 1851, § 75, pp. 317-334); Bunsen, in Anal. ante-Nic. I. 29 sqq.; Anger, in Synops. Evang. (1852); Westcott: Introd. to the Study of the Gospels, Append. C. (pp. 446 sqq. of the Boston ed. by Hackett); Plumptre, in Ellicott’s Com. for English Readers, I. p. xxxiii.; J. T. Dodd: Sayings ascribed to our Lord by the Fathers (1874); E. B. Nicholson: The Gospel according to the Hebrews (Lond. 1879, pp. 143-162). Comp. an essay of Ewald in his “Jahrbücher der Bibl. Wissenschaft,” VI. 40 and 54 sqq., and Geschichte Christus’, p. 288. We avail ourselves chiefly of the collections of Hofmann, Westcott, Plumptre, and Nicholson.

On the Apocryphal Traditions of Christ, comp. throughout

Alfred Resch: Agrapha. Aussercanonische Evangelienfragmente gesammelt und untersucht. With an appendix of Harnack on the Gospel Fragment of Tajjum. Leipzig, 1889 (520 pp.). By far the most complete and critical work on the extra-canonical sayings of our Lord, of which he collects and examines 63 (see p. 80), including many doubtful ones, e.g., the much-discussed passage of the Didache (I. 6) on the sweating of aloes.

(1) “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Quoted by Paul, Act_20:35. Comp. Luk_6:30, Luk_6:31; also Clement of Rome, Ad Cor. c. 2, ἥδιον διδόντες ἢ λαμβάνοντες, “more gladly giving than receiving.” This is unquestionably authentic, pregnant with rich meaning, and shining out like a lone star all the more brilliantly. It is true in the highest sense of the love of God and Christ. The somewhat similar sentences of Aristotle, Seneca, and Epicurus, as quoted by Plutarch (see the passages in Wetstein on Act_20:35), savor of aristocratic pride, and are neutralized by the opposite heathen maxim of mean selfishness: “Foolish is the giver, happy the receiver.” Shakespeare may have had the sentence in his mind when he put into the mouth of Portia the golden words:

“The quality of mercy is not strained,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath: it is twice blessed;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes;

‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown.”

(2) “And on the same day Jesus saw a man working at his craft on the Sabbath-day, and He said unto him, ‘O man, if thou knowest what thou doest, then art thou blessed; but if thou knowest not, then art thou accursed, and art a transgressor of the Law.’” An addition to Luk_6:4, in Codex D. or Bezae (in the University library at Cambridge), which contains several remarkable additions. See Tischendorf’s apparatus in ed. VIII. Luc. Luk_6:4, and Scrivener, lntrod. to Criticism of the N. T. p. 8. ἐπικατάρατος is used Joh_7:49 (text. rec.) by the Pharisees of the people who know not the law (also Gal_3:10, Gal_3:13 in quotations from the O. T.); παραβάτης τοῦ νόμου by Paul (Rom_2:25, Rom_2:27; Gal_2:18) and James (Jam_2:9, Jam_2:11). Plumptre regards the narrative as authentic, and remarks that “it brings out with a marvellous force the distinction between the conscious transgression of a law recognized as still binding, and the assertion of a higher law as superseding the lower. Comp. also the remarks of Hofmann, l.c. p. 318.

(3) “But ye seek (or, in the imperative, seek ye, ζητεῖτε) to increase from little, and (not) from greater to be less.” An addition in Codex D. to Mat_20:28. See Tischendorf. Comp. Luk_14:11; Joh_5:44. Westcott regards this as a genuine fragment. Nicholson inserts “not,” with the Curetonian Syriac, D; all other authorities omit it. Juvencus has incorporated the passage in his poetic Hist. Evang. III. 613 sqq., quoted by Hofmann, p. 319.

(4) “Be ye trustworthy money-changers,” or, proved bankers (τραπεζῖται δόκιμοι); i.e. expert in distinguishing the genuine coin from the counterfeit. Quoted by Clement of Alexandria (several times), Origen (in Joann, xix.), Eusebius, Epiphanius, Cyril of Alexandria, and many others. Comp. 1Th_5:21: “Prove all things, hold fast the good,” and the parable of the talents, Mat_25:27. Delitzsch, who with many others regards this maxim as genuine, gives it the meaning: Exchange the less valuable for the more valuable, esteem sacred coin higher than common coin, and highest of all the one precious pearl of the gospel. (Ein Tag in Capernaum, p. 136.) Renan likewise adopts it as historical, but explains it in an Ebionite and monastic sense as an advice of voluntary poverty. “Be ye good bankers (soyez de bons banquiers), that is to say: Make good investments for the kingdom of God, by giving your goods to the poor, according to the ancient proverb (Pro_19:17): ‘He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth to the Lord’” (Vie de Jésus, ch. XI. p. 180, 5th Par. ed.).

[(5) “The Son of God says, (?) ‘Let us resist all iniquity, and hold it in abhorrence.’” From the Epistle of Barnabas, c. 4. This Epistle, though incorporated in the Codex Sinaiticus, is probably not a work of the apostolic Barnabas. Westcott and Plumptre quote the passage from the Latin version, which introduces the sentence with the words: sicut dicit Filius Dei. But this seems to be a mistake for sicut decet filios Dei, “as becometh the sons of God.” This is evident from the Greek original (brought to light by the discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus), which reads, ὡς πρέπει υἱοῖς θεοῦ and connects the words with the preceding sentence. See the edition of Barnabae Epistula by Gebhardt and Harnack in Patr. Apost. Op. I. 14. For the sense comp. 2Ti_2:19: ἀποστήτω ἀπὸ ἀδικίας Jam_4:7: ἀνίστητε τῷ διαβόλῳ, Psa_119:163: ἀδικίαν ἐμίσησα.]

(6) “They who wish to see me, and to lay hold on my kingdom, must receive me with affliction and suffering.” From the Epistle of Barnabas, c. 7, where the words are introduced by “Thus he [Jesus] saith,” φησίν. But it is doubtful whether they are meant as a quotation or rather as a conclusion of the former remarks and a general reminiscence of several passages. Comp. Mat_16:24; Mat_20:3; Act_14:22: “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

(7) “He that wonders [ὁ θαυμάσας with the wonder of reverential faith] shall reign, and he that reigns shall be made to rest.” From the “Gospel of the Hebrews,” quoted by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. II. 9, § 45). The Alexandrian divine quotes this and the following sentence to show, as Plumptre finely says, “that in the teaching of Christ, as in that of Plato, wonder is at once the beginning and the end of knowledge.”

(8) “Look with wonder at the things that are before thee (θαύμασον τα παρόντα).” From Clement of Alexandria (Strom. II. 9, § 45.).

(9) “I came to abolish sacrifices, and unless ye cease from sacrificing, the wrath [of God] will not cease from you.” From the Gospel of the Ebionites (or rather Essaean Judaizers), quoted by Epiphanius (Haer. xxx. 16). Comp. Mat_9:13, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice.”

(10) “Ask great things, and the small shall be added to you: ask heavenly and there shall be added unto you earthly things.” Quoted by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. I. 24, § 154; comp. IV. 6, § 34) and Origen (de Oratione, c. 2), with slight differences. Comp. Mat_6:33, of which it is probably a free quotation from memory. Ambrose also quotes the sentence (Ep. xxxvi. 3): “Denique scriptum est: ‘Petite magna, et parva adjicientur vobis. Petite coelestia, et terrena adjicientur.’”

(11) “In the things wherein I find you, in them will I judge you.” Quoted by Justin Martyr (Dial. c. Tryph. c. 47), and Clement of Alexandria (Quis dives, § 40). Somewhat different Nilus: “Such as I find thee, I will judge thee, saith the Lord.” The parallel passages in Eze_7:3, Eze_7:8; Eze_18:30; Eze_24:14; Eze_33:20 are not sufficient to account for this sentence. It is probably taken from an apocryphal Gospel. See Hofmann, p. 323.

(12) “He who is nigh unto me is nigh unto the fire: he who is far from me is far from the kingdom.” From Origen (Comm. in Jer. III. p. 778), and Didymus of Alexandria (in Psa_88:8). Comp, Luk_12:49. Ignatius (Ad Smyrn. c. 4) has a similar saying, but not as a quotation, “To be near the sword is to be near God” (ἐγγύς μαχαίρας ἐγγύς θεοῦ).

(13) “If ye kept not that which is little, who will give you that which is great? For I say unto you, he that is faithful in the least is faithful also in much.” From the homily of Pseudo-Clement of Rome (ch. 8). Comp. Luk_16:10-12 and Matt, Mat_25:21, Mat_25:23. Irenaeus (II. 34, 3) quotes similarly, probably from memory: “Si in modico fideles non fuistis, quod magnum est quis dabit nobis?”

(14) “Keep the flesh pure, and the seal [probably baptism] without stain that we (ye) may receive eternal life.” From Pseudo-Clement, ch. 8. But as this is connected with the former sentence by ἄρα οὖν τοῦτο λὲγει, it seems to be only an explanation (“he means this”) not a separate quotation. See Lightfoot, St. Clement of Rome, pp. 200 and 201, and his Appendix containing the newly recovered Portions, p. 384:. On the sense comp. 2Ti_2:19; Rom_4:11; Eph_1:13; Eph_4:30.

(15) Our Lord, being asked by Salome when His kingdom should come, and the things which he had spoken be accomplished, answered, “When the two shall be one, and the outward as the inward, and the male with the female, neither male nor female.” From Clement of Alexandria, as a quotation from “the Gospel according to the Egyptians” (Strom. III. 13, § 92), and the homily of Pseudo-Clement of Rome (ch. 12). Comp. Mat_22:30; Gal_3:28; 1Co_7:29. The sentence has a mystical coloring which is alien to the genuine Gospels, but suited the Gnostic taste.

(16) “For those that are infirm was I infirm, and for those that hunger did I hunger, and for those that thirst did I thirst.” From Origen (in Matt. xiii. 2). Comp. Mat_25:35, Mat_25:36; 1Co_9:20-22.

(17) “Never be ye joyful, except when ye have seen your brother [dwelling] in love.” Quoted from the Hebrew Gospel by Jerome (in Eph. v. 3).

(18) “Take hold, handle me, and see that I am not a bodiless demon [i.e. spirit].” From Ignatius (Ad Symrn. c. 3), and Jerome, who quotes it from the Nazarene Gospel (De Viris illustr. 16). Words said to have been spoken to Peter and the apostles after the resurrection. Comp. Luk_24:39; Joh_20:27.

(19) “Good must needs come, but blessed is he through whom it cometh; in like manner evil must needs come, but woe to him through whom it cometh.” From the “Clementine Homilies,” xii. 29. For the second clause comp. Mat_18:7; Luk_17:1.

(20) “My mystery is for me, and for the sons of my house.” From Clement of Alexandria (Strom. V. 10, § 64), the Clementine Homilies (xix. 20), and Alexander of Alexandria (Ep. ad Alex. c. 5, where the words are ascribed to the Father). Comp. Isa_24:16 (Sept.); Mat_13:11; Mar_4:11.

(21) “If you do not make your low things high and your crooked things straight ye shall not enter into my kingdom.” From the Acta Philippi in Tischendorf’s Acta Apost. Apocr. p. 90, quoted by Ewald, Gesch. Christus, p. 288, who calls these words a weak echo of more excellent sayings.

(22) “I will choose these things to myself. Very excellent are those whom my Father that is in heaven hath given to me.” From the Hebrew Gospel, quoted by Eusebius (Theophan. iv. 13).

(23) “The Lord said, speaking of His kingdom, ‘The days will come in which vines will spring up, each having ten thousand stocks, and on each stock ten thousand branches, and on each branch ten thousand shoots, and on each shoot ten thousand bunches, and on each bunch ten thousand grapes, and each grape when pressed shall give five-and-twenty measures of wine. And when any saint shall have laid hold on one bunch, another shall cry, I am a better bunch, take me; through me bless the Lord.’ Likewise also [he said], ‘that a grain of wheat shall produce ten thousand ears of corn, and each grain ten pounds of fine pure flour; and so all other fruits and seeds and each herb according to its proper nature. And that all animals, using for food what is received from the earth, shall live in peace and concord with one another, subject to men with all subjection.’” To this description Papias adds: “These things are credible to those who believe. And when Judas the traitor believed not and asked, ‘How shall such products come from the Lord?’ the Lord said, ‘They shall see who come to me in these times.’” From the “weak-minded” Papias (quoted by Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. V. 33, 3). Comp. Isa_11:6-9.

This is a strongly figurative description of the millennium. Westcott thinks it is based on a real discourse, but to me it sounds fabulous, and borrowed from the Apocalypse of Baruch which has a similar passage (cap. 29, first published in Monumenta Sacra et Profana opera collegii Doctorum Bibliothecae Ambrosianae, Tom. I. Fasc. II. Mediol. 1866, p. 80, and then in Fritzsche’s ed. of Libri Apocryphi Veteris Test. Lips. 1871, p. 666): “Etiam terra dabit fructus suos unum in decem millia, et in vite una erunt Mille palmites, et unus palmes faciet mille botros, et botrus unus faciet mille acinos, et unus acinus faciet corum vini. Et qui esurierunt jucundabuntur, iterum autem videbunt prodigia quotidie …. Et erit in illo tempore, descendet iterum desuper thesaurus manna, et comedent ex eo in istis annis.”

Westcott quotes eleven other apocryphal sayings which are only loose quotations or perversions of genuine words of Christ, and may therefore be omitted. Nicholson has gathered the probable or possible fragments of the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which correspond more or less to passages in the canonical Gospels.

Mohammedan tradition has preserved in the Koran and in other writings several striking words of Christ, which Hofmann, l.c. pp. 327-329, has collected. The following is the best:

“Jesus, the Son of Mary, said, ‘He who longs to be rich is like a man who drinks sea-water; the more he drinks the more thirsty he becomes, and never leaves off drinking till he perishes.’”


II. Personal Appearance of Jesus

None of the Evangelists, not even the beloved disciple and bosom-friend of Jesus, gives us the least hint of his countenance and stature, or of his voice, his manner, his food, his dress, his mode of daily life. In this respect our instincts of natural affection have been wisely overruled. He who is the Saviour of all and the perfect exemplar for all should not be identified with the particular lineaments of one race or nationality or type of beauty. We should cling to the Christ in spirit and in glory rather than to the Christ in the flesh So St. Paul thought (2Co_5:16; Comp. 1Pe_1:8). Though unseen, he is loved beyond all human beings.

“I see Thee not, I hear Thee not,

Yet art Thou oft with me;

And earth hath ne’er so dear a spot,

As when I meet with Thee.”

Jesus no doubt accommodated himself in dress and general appearance to the customs of his age and people, and avoided all ostentation. He probably passed unnoticed through busy crowds. But to the closer observer he must have revealed a spiritual beauty and an overawing majesty in his countenance and personal bearing. This helps to explain the readiness with which the disciples, forsaking all things, followed him in boundless reverence and devotion. He had not the physiognomy of a sinner. He had more than the physiognomy of a saint. He reflected from his eyes and countenance the serene peace and celestial purity of a sinless soul in blessed harmony with God. His presence commanded reverence, confidence and affection.

In the absence of authentic representation, Christian art in its irrepressible desire to exhibit in visible form the fairest among the children of men, was left to its own imperfect conception of ideal beauty. The church under persecution in the first three centuries, was averse to pictorial representations of Christ, and associated with him in his state of humiliation (but not in his state of exaltation) the idea of uncomeliness, taking too literally the prophetic description of the suffering Messiah in the twenty-second Psalm and the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. The victorious church after Constantine, starting from the Messianic picture in the forty-fifth Psalm and the Song of Solomon, saw the same Lord in heavenly glory, “fairer than the children of men” and “altogether lovely.” Yet the difference was not so great as it is sometimes represented. For even the ante-Nicene fathers (especially Clement of Alexandria), besides expressly distinguishing between the first appearance of Christ in lowliness and humility, and his second appearance in glory and, majesty, did not mean to deny to the Saviour even in the days of his flesh a higher order of spiritual beauty, “the glory of the only-begotten of the Father full of grace and truth,” which shone through the veil of his humanity, and which at times, as on the mount of transfiguration, anticipated his future glory. “Certainly,” says Jerome, “a flame of fire and starry brightness flashed from his eye, and the majesty of the God head shone in his face.”

The earliest pictures of Christ, in the Catacombs, are purely symbolic, and represent him under the figures of the Lamb, the good Shepherd, the Fish. The last has reference to the Greek word Ichthys, which contains the initials of the words Ἰησοῦς Χριστός Θεοῦ Ὑιὸς Σωτὴρ. “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour.” Real pictures of Christ in the early church would have been an offence to the Jewish, and a temptation and snare to the heathen converts.

The first formal description of the personal appearance of Christ, which, though not authentic and certainly not older than the fourth century, exerted great influence on the pictorial representations, is ascribed to the heathen Publius Lentulus, a supposed contemporary of Pilate and “President of the people of Jerusalem” (there was no such office), in an apocryphal Latin letter to the Roman Senate, which was first discovered in a MS. copy of the writings of Anselm of Canterbury in the twelfth century, and published with slight variations by, Fabricius, Carpzov, Gabler, etc. It is as follows:

“In this time appeared a man, who lives till now, a man endowed with great powers. Men call him a great prophet; his own disciples term Him the Son of God. His name is Jesus Christ. He restores the dead to life, and cures the sick of all manner of diseases. This man is of noble and well-proportioned stature, with a face full of kindness and yet firmness, so that the beholders both love Him and fear Him. His hair is of the color of wine, and golden at the root; straight, and without lustre, but from the level of the ears curling and glossy, and divided down the center after the fashion of the Nazarenes [Nazarites?]. His forehead is even and smooth, his face without wrinkle or blemish, and glowing with delicate bloom. His countenance is frank and kind. Nose and mouth are in no way faulty. His beard is full, of the same hazel color as his hair, not long, but forked. His eyes are blue, and extremely brilliant. In reproof and rebuke he is formidable; in exhortation and teaching, gentle and amiable. He has never been seen to laugh, but oftentimes to weep, (numquam visus est ridere, flere autem saepe). His person is tall and erect; his hands and limbs beautiful and straight. In speaking he is deliberate and grave, and little given to loquacity. In beauty he surpasses the children of men.”

Another description is found in the works of the Greek theologian, John of Damascus, of the 8th century (Epist. ad Theoph. Imp. de venerandis Imag., spurious), and a similar one in the Church History of Nicephorus (I. 40), of the 14th century. They represent Christ as resembling his mother, and ascribe to him a stately person though slightly stooping, beautiful eyes, blond, long, and curly hair, pale, olive complexion, long fingers, and a look expressive of nobility, wisdom, and patience.

On the ground of these descriptions, and of the Abgar and the Veronica legends, arose a vast number of pictures of Christ, which are divided into two classes: the Salvator pictures, with the expression of calm serenity and dignity, without the faintest mark of grief, and the Ecce Homo pictures of the suffering Saviour with the crown of thorns. The greatest painters and sculptors have exhausted the resources of their genius in representations of Christ; but neither color nor chisel nor pen can do more than produce a feeble reflection of the beauty and glory of Him who is the Son of God and the Son of Man.

Among modern biographers of Christ, Dr. Sepp (Rom. Cath., Das Leben Jesu Christi, 1865, vol. VI. 312 sqq.) defends the legend of St. Veronica of the Herodian family, and the genuineness of the picture, of the suffering Saviour with the crown of thorns which he impressed on her silken veil. He rejects the philological explanation of the legend from “the true image” (vera εἰκών = Veronica), and derives the name from φερενίκη (Berenice), the Victorious. But Bishop Hefele (Art. Christusbilder, in the Cath. Kirchen-Lexikon of Wetzer and Welte, II. 519-524) is inclined, with Grimm, to identify Veronica with the Berenice who is said to have erected a statue to Christ at Caesarea Philippi (Euseb. VII. 18), and to see in the Veronica legend only the Latin version of the Abgar legend of the Greek Church. Dr. Hase (Leben Jesu, p. 79) ascribes to Christ manly beauty, firm health, and delicate, yet not very characteristic features. He quotes Joh_20:14 and Luk_24:16, where it is said that his friends did not recognize him, but these passages refer only to the mysterious appearances of the risen Lord. Renan (Vie de Jésus, ch. X-XIV. p. 403) describes him in the frivolous style of a novelist, as a doux Galilèen, of calm and dignified attitude, as a beau jeune homme who made a deep impression upon women, especially Mary of Magdala; even a proud Roman lady, the wife of Pontius Pilate, when she caught a glimpse of him from the window (?), was enchanted, dreamed of him in the night and was frightened at the prospect of his death. Dr. Keim (I. 463) infers from his character, as described in the Synoptical Gospels, that he was perhaps not strikingly handsome, yet certainly noble, lovely, manly, healthy and vigorous, looking like a prophet, commanding reverence, making men, women, children, sick and poor people feel happy in his presence. Canon Farrar (I. 150) adopts the view of Jerome and Augustine, and speaks of Christ as “full of mingled majesty and tenderness in — 

‘That face

How beautiful, if sorrow had not made

Sorrow more beautiful than beauty’s self.’”

On artistic representations of Christ see J. B. Carpzov: De oris et corporis J. Christi forma Pseudo-Lentuli, J. Damasceni et Nicephori proso-pographiae. Helmst. 1777. P. E. Jablonski: De origine imaginum Christi Domini. Lugd. Batav. 1804. W. Grimm: Die Sage vom Ursprung der Christusbilder. Berlin, 1843. Dr. Legis Glückselig: Christus-Archäologie; Das Buch von Jesus Christus und seinem wahren Ebenbilde. Prag, 1863 4to. Mrs. Jameson and Lady Eastlake: The History of our Lord as exemplified in Works of Art (with illustrations). Lond., 2d ed. 1865 2 vols. Cowper: Apocr. Gospels. Lond. 1867, pp. 217-226. Hase: Leben Jesu, pp. 76-80 (5th ed.), Keim: Gesch. Jesu von Naz. I. 459-464. Farrar: Life of Christ. Lond. 1874, I. 148-150, 312-313; II. 464.


III. The Testimony of Josephus on John the Baptist

Antiq. Jud. xviii. c. 5, § 2. Whatever may be thought of the more famous passage of Christ which we have discussed in § 14, the passage on John is undoubtedly genuine and so accepted by most scholars. It fully and independently confirms the account of the Gospels on John’s work and martyrdom, and furnishes, indirectly, an argument in favor of the historical character of their account of Christ, for whom he merely prepared the way. We give it in Whiston’s translation: “Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, who was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man (ἀγαθὸν ἄνδρα), and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body: supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise), thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Machaerus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God’s displeasure to him.”


IV. The Testimony of Mara to Christ, a.d. 74

This extra-biblical notice of Christ, made known first in 1865, and referred to above § 14) reads as follows (as translated from the Syriac by Cureton and Pratten):

“What are we to say, when the wise are dragged by force by hands of tyrants, and their wisdom is deprived of its freedom by slander, and they are plundered for their [superior] intelligence, without [the opportunity of making] a defence? [They are not wholly to be pitied.] For what benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death, seeing that they received as retribution for it famine and pestilence? Or the people of Samos by the burning of Pythagoras, seeing that in one hour the whole of their country was covered with sand? Or The Jews [by the murder] of their Wise King, seeing that from that very time their kingdom was driven away [from them]? For with justice did God grant a recompense to the wisdom of [all] three of them. For the Athenians died by famine; and the people of Samos were covered by the sea without remedy; and the Jews, brought to destruction and expelled from their kingdom, are driven away into every land. [Nay], Socrates did not die, because of Plato; nor yet Pythagoras, because of the statue of Hera; nor yet The Wise King, because of the new laws he enacted.

The nationality and position of Mara are unknown. Dr. Payne Smith supposes him to have been a Persian. He wrote from prison and wished to die, “by what kind of death concerns me not.” In the beginning of his letter Mara says: “On this account, lo, I have written for thee this record, [touching] that which I have by careful observation discovered in the world. For the kind of life men lead has been carefully observed by me. I tread the path of learning, and from the study of Greek philosophy have I found out all these things, although they suffered shipwreck when the birth of life took place.” The birth of life may refer to the appearance of Christianity in the world, or to Mara’s own conversion. But there is no other indication that he was a Christian. The advice he gives to his son is simply to “devote himself to wisdom, the fount of all things good, the treasure that fails not.”


19. The Resurrection of Christ

The resurrection of Christ from the dead is reported by the four Gospels, taught in the Epistles, believed throughout Christendom, and celebrated on every “Lord’s Day,” as an historical fact, as the crowning miracle and divine seal of his whole work, as the foundation of the hopes of believers, as the pledge of their own future resurrection. It is represented in the New Testament both as an act of the Almighty Father who raised his Son from the dead, (Act_2:24, Act_2:32; Rom_6:4; Rom_10:9; 1Co_15:15; Eph_1:20; 1Pe_1:21) and as an act of Christ himself, who had the power to lay down his life and to take it again. The ascension was the proper conclusion of the resurrection: the risen life of our Lord, who is “the Resurrection and the Life,” could not end in another death on earth, but must continue in eternal glory in heaven. Hence St. Paul says, “Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death no more hath dominion over him. For the death that he died he died unto sin once: but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God.”

The Christian church rests on the resurrection of its Founder. Without this fact the church could never have been born, or if born, it would soon have died a natural death. The miracle of the resurrection and the existence of Christianity are so closely connected that they must stand or fall together. If Christ was raised from the dead, then all his other miracles are sure, and our faith is impregnable; if he was not raised, he died in vain and our faith is vain. It was only his resurrection that made his death available for our atonement, justification and salvation; without the resurrection, his death would be the grave of our hopes; we should be still unredeemed and under the power of our sins. A gospel of a dead Saviour would be a contradiction and wretched delusion. This is the reasoning of St. Paul, and its force is irresistible.

The resurrection of Christ is therefore emphatically a test question upon which depends the truth or falsehood of the Christian religion. It is either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion which history records.

Christ had predicted both his crucifixion and his resurrection, but the former was a stumbling-block to the disciples, the latter a mystery which they could not understand till after the event. They no doubt expected that he would soon establish his Messianic kingdom on earth. Hence their utter disappointment and downheartedness after the crucifixion. The treason of one of their own number, the triumph of the hierarchy, the fickleness of the people, the death and burial of the beloved Master, had in a few hours rudely blasted their Messianic hopes and exposed them to the contempt and ridicule of their enemies. For two days they were trembling on the brink of despair. But on the third day, behold, the same disciples underwent a complete revolution from despondency to hope, from timidity to courage, from doubt to faith, and began to proclaim the gospel of the resurrection in the face of an unbelieving world and at the peril of their lives. This revolution was not isolated, but general among them; it was not the result of an easy credulity, but brought about in spite of doubt and hesitation; it was not superficial and momentary, but radical and lasting; it affected, not only the apostles, but the whole history of the world. It reached even the leader of the persecution, Saul of Tarsus one of the clearest and strongest intellects, and converted him into the most devoted and faithful champion of this very gospel to the hour of his martyrdom.

This is a fact patent to every reader of the closing chapters of the Gospels, and is freely admitted even by the most advanced skeptics.

The question now rises whether this inner revolution in the life of the disciples, with its incalculable effects upon the fortunes of mankind, can be rationally explained without a corresponding outward revolution in the history of Christ; in other words, whether the professed faith of the disciples in the risen Christ was true and real, or a hypocritical lie, or an honest self-delusion.

There are four possible theories which have been tried again and again, and defended with as much learning and ingenuity as can be summoned to their aid. Historical questions are not like mathematical problems. No argument in favor of the resurrection will avail with those critics who start with the philosophical assumption that miracles are impossible, and still less with those who deny not only the resurrection of the body, but even the immortality of the soul. But facts are stubborn, and if a critical hypothesis can be proven to be psychologically and historically impossible and unreasonable, the result is fatal to the philosophy which underlies the critical hypothesis. It is not the business of the historian to construct a history from preconceived notions and to adjust it to his own liking, but to reproduce it from the best evidence and to let it speak for itself.

1. The historical view, presented by the Gospels and believed in the Christian church of every denomination and sect. The resurrection of Christ was an actual though miraculous event, in harmony with his previous history and character, and in fulfilment of his own prediction. It was a re-animation of the dead body of Jesus by a return of his soul from the spirit-world, and a rising of body and soul from the grave to a new life, which after repeated manifestations to believers during a short period of forty days entered into glory by the ascension to heaven. The object of the manifestations was not only to convince the apostles personally of the resurrection, but to make them witnesses of the resurrection and heralds of salvation to all the world. (Mat_28:18-20; Mar_16:15, Mar_16:16; Luk_24:46-48; Joh_20:21-23; Act_1:8)

Truth compels us to admit that there are serious difficulties in harmonizing the accounts of the evangelists, and in forming a consistent conception of the nature of Christ’s, resurrection-body, hovering as it were between heaven and earth, and oscillating for forty days between a natural and a supernatural state of the body clothed with flesh and blood and bearing the wound-prints, and yet so spiritual as to appear and disappear through closed doors and to ascend visibly to heaven. But these difficulties are not so great as those which are created by a denial of the fact itself. The former can be measurably solved, the latter cannot. We, do not know all the details and circumstances which might enable us to clearly trace the order of events. But among all the variations the great central fact of the resurrection itself and its principal features “stand out all the more sure.” The period of the forty days is in the nature of the case the most mysterious in the life of Christ, and transcends all ordinary Christian experience. The Christophanies resemble in some respect, the theophanies of the Old Testament, which were granted only to few believers, yet for the general benefit. At all events the fact of the resurrection furnishes the only key for the solution of the psychological problem of the sudden, radical, and permanent change in the mind and conduct of the disciples; it is the necessary link in the chain which connects their history before and after that event. Their faith in the resurrection was too clear, too strong, too steady, too effective to be explained in any other way. They showed the strength and boldness of their conviction by soon returning to Jerusalem, the post of danger, and founding there, in the very face of the hostile Sanhedrin, the mother-church of Christendom.

2. The theory of fraud. The apostles stole and hid the body of Jesus, and deceived the world.

This infamous lie carries its refutation on its face: for if the Roman soldiers who watched the grave at the express request of the priests and Pharisees, were asleep, they could not see the thieves, nor would they have proclaimed their military crime; if they, or only some of them, were awake, they would have prevented the theft. As to the disciples, they were too timid and desponding at the time to venture on such a daring act, and too honest to cheat the world. And finally a self-invented falsehood could not give them the courage and constancy of faith for the proclamation of the resurrection at the peril of their lives. The whole theory is a wicked absurdity, an insult to the common sense and honor of mankind.

3. The Swoon-Theory. The physical life of Jesus was not extinct, but only exhausted, and was restored by the tender care of his friends and disciples, or (as some absurdly add) by his own medical skill; and after a brief period he quietly died a natural death.

Josephus, Valerius Maximus, psychological and medical authorities have been searched and appealed to for examples of such apparent resurrections from a trance or asphyxy, especially on the third day, which is supposed to be a critical turning-point for life or putrefaction.

But besides insuperable physical difficulties-as the wounds and loss of blood from the very heart pierced by the spear of the Roman soldier — this theory utterly fails to account for the moral effect. A brief sickly existence of Jesus in need of medical care, and terminating in his natural death and final burial, without even the glory of martyrdom which attended the crucifixion, far from restoring the faith of the apostles, would have only in the end deepened their gloom and driven them to utter despair.

4. The Vision-Theory. Christ rose merely in the imagination of his friends, who mistook a subjective vision or dream for actual reality, and were thereby encouraged to proclaim their faith in the resurrection at the risk of death. Their wish was father to the belief, their belief was father to the fact, and the belief, once started, spread with the power of a religious epidemic from person to person and from place to place. The Christian society wrought the miracle by its intense love for Christ. Accordingly the resurrection does not belong to the history of Christ at all, but to the inner life of his disciples. It is merely the embodiment of their reviving faith.

This hypothesis was invented by a heathen adversary in the second century and soon buried out of sight, but rose to new life in the nineteenth, and spread with epidemical rapidity among skeptical critics in Germany, France, Holland and England.

The advocates of this hypothesis appeal first and chiefly to the vision of St. Paul on the way to Damascus, which occurred several years later, and is nevertheless put on a level with the former appearances to the older apostles (1Co_15:8); next to supposed analogies in the history of religious enthusiasm and mysticism, such as the individual visions of St. Francis of Assisi, the Maid of Orleans, St. Theresa (who believed that she had seen Jesus in person with the eyes of the soul more distinctly than she could have seen him with the eyes of the body), Swedenborg, even Mohammed, and the collective visions of the Montanists in Asia Minor, the Camisards in France, the spectral resurrections of the martyred Thomas à Becket of Canterbury and Savonarola of Florence in the excited imagination of their admirers, and the apparitions of the Immaculate Virgin at Lourdes.

Nobody will deny that subjective fancies and impressions are often mistaken for objective realities. But, with the exception of the case of St. Paul — which we shall consider in its proper place, and which turns out to be, even according to the admission of the leaders of skeptical criticism, a powerful argument against the mythical or visionary theory — these supposed analogies are entirely irrelevant; for, not to speak of other differences, they were isolated and passing phenomena which left no mark on history; while the faith in the resurrection of Christ has revolutionized the whole world. It must therefore be treated on its own merits as an altogether unique case.

(a) The first insuperable argument against the visionary nature, and in favor of the objective reality, of the resurrection is the empty tomb of Christ. If he did not rise, his body must either have been removed, or remained in the tomb. If removed by the disciples, they were guilty of a deliberate falsehood in preaching the resurrection, and then the vision-hypothesis gives way to the exploded theory of fraud. If removed by the enemies, then these enemies had the best evidence against the resurrection, and would not have failed to produce it and thus to expose the baselessness of the vision. The same is true, of course, if the body had remained in the tomb. The murderers of Christ would certainly not have missed such an opportunity to destroy the very foundation of the hated sect.

To escape this difficulty, Strauss removes the origin of the illusion away off to Galilee, whether the disciples fled; but this does not help the matter, for they returned in a few weeks to Jerusalem, where we find them all assembled on the day of Pentecost.

This argument is fatal even to the highest form of the vision hypothesis, which admits a spiritual manifestation of Christ from heaven, but denies the resurrection of his body.

(b) If Christ did not really rise, then the words which he spoke to Mary Magdalene, to the disciples of Emmaus, to doubting Thomas, to Peter on the lake of Tiberias, to all the disciples on Mount Olivet, were likewise pious fictions. But who can believe that words of such dignity and majesty, so befitting the solemn moment of the departure to the throne of glory, as the commandment to preach the gospel to every creature, to baptize the nations in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and the promise to be with his disciples alway to the end of the world — a promise abundantly verified in the daily experience of the church — could proceed from dreamy and self-deluded enthusiasts or crazy fanatics any more than the Sermon on the Mount or the Sacerdotal Prayer! And who, with any spark of historical sense, can suppose that Jesus never instituted baptism, which has been performed in his name ever since the day of Pentecost, and which, like the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, bears testimony to him every day as the sunlight does to the sun!

(c) If the visions of the resurrection were the product of an excited imagination, it is unaccountable that they should suddenly have ceased on the fortieth day (Act_1:15), and not have occurred to any of the disciples afterwards, with the single exception of Paul, who expressly represents his vision of Christ as “the last.” Even on the day of Pentecost Christ did not appear to them, but, according to his promise, “the other Paraclete” descended upon them; and Stephen saw Christ in heaven, not on earth.

(d) The chief objection to the vision-hypothesis is its intrinsic impossibility. It makes the most exorbitant claim upon our credulity. It requires us to believe that many persons, singly and collectively, at different times, and in different places, from Jerusalem to Damascus, had the same vision and dreamed the same dream; that the women at the open sepulchre early in the morning, Peter and John soon afterwards, the two disciples journeying to Emmaus on the afternoon of the resurrection day, the assembled apostles on the evening in the absence of Thomas, and again on the next Lord’s Day in the presence of the skeptical Thomas, seven apostles at the lake of Tiberias, on one occasion five hundred brethren at once most of whom were still alive when Paul reported the fact, then James, the brother of the Lord, who formerly did not believe in him, again all the apostles on Mount Olivet at the ascension, and at last the clearheaded, strong-minded persecutor on the way to Damascus — that all these men and women on these different occasions vainly imagined they saw and heard the self-same Jesus in bodily shape and form; and that they were by this baseless vision raised all at once from the deepest gloom in which the crucifixion of their Lord had left them, to the boldest faith and strongest hope which impelled them to proclaim the gospel of the resurrection from Jerusalem to Rome to the end of their lives! And this illusion of the early disciples created the greatest revolution not only in their own views and conduct, but among Jews and Gentiles and in the subsequent history of mankind! This illusion, we are expected to believe by these unbelievers, gave birth to the most real and most mighty of all facts, the Christian Church which has lasted these eighteen hundred years and is now spread all over the civilized world, embracing more members than ever and exercising more moral power than all the kingdoms and all other religions combined!

The vision-hypothesis, instead of getting rid of the miracle, only shifts it from fact to fiction; it makes an empty delusion more powerful than the truth, or turns all history itself at last into a delusion. Before we can reason the resurrection of Christ out of history we must reason the apostles and Christianity itself out of existence. We must either admit the miracle, or frankly confess that we stand here before an inexplicable mystery.

Remarkable Concessions. — The ablest advocates of the vision-theory are driven against their wish and will to admit some unexplained objective reality in the visions of the risen or ascended Christ.

Dr. Baur, of Tübingen (d. 1860), the master-critic among sceptical church historians, and the corypheus of the Tübingen school, came at last to the conclusion (as stated in the revised edition of his Church History of the First Three Centuries, published shortly before his death, 1860) that “nothing but the miracle of the resurrection could disperse the doubts which threatened to drive faith itself into the eternal night of death (Nur das Wunder der Auferstehung konnte die Zweifel zerstreuen, welche den Glauben selbst in die ewige Nacht des Todes verstossen zu müssen schienen).” Geschichte der christlichen Kirche, I. 39. It is true he adds that the nature of the resurrection itself lies outside of historical investigation (“Was die Auferstehung an sich ist, liegt ausserhalb des Kreises der geschichtlichen Untersuchung”), but also, that “for the faith of the disciples the resurrection of Jesus became the most solid and most irrefutable certainty. In this faith only Christianity gained a firm foothold of its historical development. (In diesem Glauben hat erst das Christenthum den festen Grund seiner geschichtlichen Entwicklung gewonnen.) What history requires as the necessary prerequisite of all that follows is not so much the fact of the resurrection itself [?] as the faith in that fact. In whatever light we may consider the resurrection of Jesus, whether as an actual objective miracle or as a subjective psychological one (als ein objectiv geschehenes Wunder, oder als ein subjectiv psychologisches), even granting the possibility of such a miracle, no psychological analysis can penetrate the inner spiritual process by which in the consciousness of the disciples their unbelief at the death of Jesus was transformed into a belief of his resurrection …. We must rest satisfied with this, that for them the resurrection of Christ was a fact of their consciousness, and had for them all the reality of an historical event.” (Ibid., pp. 39, 40.) Baur’s remarkable conclusion concerning the conversion of St. Paul (ibid., pp. 44, 45) we shall consider in its proper place.

Dr. Ewald, of Göttingen (d. 1874), the great orientalist and historian of Israel, antagonistic to Baur, his equal in profound scholarship and bold, independent, often arbitrary criticism, but superior in religious sympathy with the genius of the Bible, discusses the resurrection of Christ in his History of the Apostolic Age (Gesch. des Volkes Israel, vol. VI. 52 sqq.), instead of his Life of Christ, and resolves it into a purely spiritual, though long continued manifestation from heaven. Nevertheless he makes the strong statement (p. 69) that “nothing is historically more certain than that Christ rose from the dead and appeared to his own, and that this their vision was the beginning of their new higher faith and of an their Christian labors.” “Nichts steht geschichtlich fester,” he says, “als dass Christus aus den Todten auferstanden den Seinigen wiederschien und dass dieses ihr wiedersehen der anfang ihres neuen höhern glaubens und alles ihres Christlichen wirkens selbst war. Es ist aber ebenso gewiss dass sie ihn nicht wie einen gewöhnlichen menschen oder wie einen aus dem grabe aufsteigenden schatten oder gespenst wie die sage von solchen meldet, sondern wie den einzigen Sohn Gottes, wie ein durchaus schon übermächtiges und übermenschliches wesen wiedersahen und sich bei späteren zurückerinnerungen nichts anderes denken konnten als dass jeder welcher ihn wiederzusehen gewürdigt sei auch sogleich unmittelbar seine einzige göttliche würde erkannt und seitdem felsenfest daran geglaubt habe. Als den ächten König und Sohn Gottes hatten ihn aber die Zwölfe und andre schon im leben zu erkennen gelernt: der unterschied ist nur der dass sie ihn jetzt auch nach seiner rein göttlichen seite und damit auch als den über den tod siegreichen erkannt zu haben sich erinnerten. Zwischen jenem gemeinen schauen des irdischen Christus wie er ihnen sowohl bekannt war und diesem höhern tieferregten entzückten schauen des himmlischen ist also dock ein innerer zusammenhang, so dass sie ihn auch jetzt in diesen ersten tagen und wochen nach seinem tode nie als den himmlischen Messias geschauet hätten wenn sie ihn nicht schon vorher als den irdischen so wohl gekannt hätten.”

Dr. Keim, of Zürich (d. at Giessen, 1879), an independent pupil of Baur, and author of the most elaborate and valuable Life of Christ which the liberal critical school has produced, after giving every possible advantage to the mythical view of the resurrection, confesses that it is, after all, a mere hypothesis and fails to explain the main point. He says (Geschichte Jesu von Nazara, III. 600): “Nach allen diesen Ueberlegungen wird man zugestehen müssen, dass auch die neuerdings beliebt gewordene Theorie nur eine Hypothese ist, welche Einiges erklärt, die Hauptsache nicht erklärt, ja im Ganzen und Grossen das geschichtlich Bezeugte schiefen und hinfälligen Gesichtspunkten unterstellt. Misslingt aber gleichmässig der Versuch, die überlieferte Aufs Auferstehungsgeschichte festzuhalten, wie das Unternehmen, mit Hilfe der paulinischen Visionen eine natürliche Erklärung des Geschehenen aufzubauen, so bleibt für die Geschichte zunächst kein Weg übrig als der des Eingeständnisses, dass die Sagenhaftigkeit der redseligen Geschichte und die dunkle Kürze der glaubwürdigen Geschichte es nicht gestattet, über die räthselhaften Ausgange des Lebens Jesu, so wichtig sie an und für sich und in der Einwirkung auf die Weltgeschichte gewesen sind, ein sicheres unumstössliches Resultat zu geben. Für die Geschichte, sofern sie nur mit benannten evidenten Zahlen und mit Reihen greifbarer anerkannter Ursachen und Wirkungen rechnet, existirt als das Thatsächliche und Zweifellose lediglich der feste Glaube der Apostel, dass Jesus auferstanden, und die ungeheure Wirkung dieses Glaubens, die Christianisirung der Menschheit. On p. 601 he expresses the conviction that “it was the crucified and living Christ who, not as the risen one, but rather as the divinely glorified one (als der wenn nicht Auferstandene, so doch vielmehr himmlisch Verherrlichte), gave visions to his disciples and revealed himself to his society.” In his last word on the great problem, Keim, in view of the exhaustion and failure of the natural explanations, comes to the conclusion, that we must either, with Dr. Baur, humbly confess our ignorance, or return to the faith of the apostles who “have seen the Lord” (Joh_20:25). See the third and last edition of his abridged Geschichte Jesu, Zürich, 1875, p. 362.

Dr. Schenkel, of Heidelberg, who in his Charakterbild Jesu (third ed. 1864, pp. 231 sqq.) had adopted the vision-theory in its higher form as a purely spiritual, though real manifestation from heaven, confesses in his latest work, Das Christusbild der Apostel (1879, p. 18), his inability to solve the problem of the resurrection of Christ, and says: “Niemals wird es der Forschung gelingen, das Räthsel des Auferstehungsglaubens zu ergründen. Nichts aber steht fester in der Geschichte als die Thatsache dieses Glaubens; auf ihm beruht die Stiftung der christlichen Gemeinschaft … Der Visionshypothese, welche die Christuserscheinungen der Jünger aus Sinnestäuschungen erklären will, die in einer Steigerung des ‘Gemüths und Nervenlebens’ ihre physische und darum auch psychische Ursache hatten, … steht vor allem die Grundfarbe der Stimmung in den Jüngern, namentlich in Petrus, im Wege: die tiefe Trauer, das gesunkene Selbstvertrauen, die nagende Gewissenspein, der verlorne Lebensmuth. Wie soll aus einer solchen Stimmung das verklärte Bild des Auferstandenen hervorgehen, mit dieser unverwüstlichen Sicherheit und unzerstörbaren Freudigkeit, durch welche der Auferstehungsglaube die Christengemeinde in allen Stürmen und Verfolgungen aufrecht zu erhalten vermochte?”

Vol.1, Chapter III. The Apostolic Age

20. Sources and Literature of the Apostolic Age

I. Sources

1. The Canonical Books of the New Testament. — The twenty-seven books of the New Testament are better supported than any ancient classic, both by a chain of external testimonies which reaches up almost to the close of the apostolic age, and by the internal evidence of a spiritual depth and unction which raises them far above the best productions of the second century. The church has undoubtedly been guided by the Holy Spirit in the selection and final determination of the Christian canon. But this does, of course, not supersede the necessity of criticism, nor is the evidence equally strong in the case of the seven Eusebian Antilegomena. The Tübingen and Leyden schools recognized at first only five books of the New Testament as authentic, namely, four Epistles of Paul-Romans, First and Second Corinthians, and Galatians and the Revelation of John. But the progress of research leads more and more to positive results, and nearly all the Epistles of Paul now find advocates among liberal critics. (Hilgenfeld and Lipsius admit seven, adding First Thessalonians, Philippians, and Philemon; Renan concedes also Second Thessalonians, and Colossians to be Pauline, thus swelling the number of genuine Epistles to nine.) The chief facts and doctrines of apostolic Christianity are sufficiently guaranteed even by those five documents, which are admitted by the extreme left of modern criticism.

The Acts of the Apostles give us the external, the Epistles the internal history of primitive Christianity. They are independent contemporaneous compositions and never refer to each other; probably Luke never read the Epistles of Paul, and Paul never read the Acts of Luke, although he no doubt supplied much valuable information to Luke. But indirectly they illustrate and confirm each other by a number of coincidences which have great evidential value, all the more as these coincidences are undesigned and incidental. Had they been composed by post-apostolic writers, the agreement would have been more complete, minor disagreements would have been avoided, and the lacunae in the Acts supplied, especially in regard to the closing labors and death of Peter and Paul.

The Acts bear on the face all the marks of an original, fresh, and trustworthy narrative of contemporaneous events derived from the best Resources of information, and in great part from personal observation and experience. The authorship of Luke, the companion of Paul, is conceded by a majority of the best modern scholars, even by Ewald. And this fact alone establishes the credibility. Renan (in his St. Paul, ch. 1) admirably calls the Acts “a book of joy, of serene ardor. Since the Homeric poems no book has been seen full of such fresh sensations. A breeze of morning, an odor of the sea, if I dare express it so, inspiring something joyful and strong, penetrates the whole book, and makes it an excellent compagnon de voyage, the exquisite breviary for him who is searching for ancient remains on the seas of the south. This is the second idyl of Christianity. The Lake of Tiberias and its fishing barks had furnished the first. Now, a more powerful breeze, aspirations toward more distant lands, draw us out into the open sea.”

2. The Post-Apostolic and Patristic writings are full of reminiscences of, and references to, the apostolic books, and as dependent on them as the river is upon its fountain.

3. The Apocryphal and Heretical literature. The numerous Apocryphal Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses were prompted by the same motives of curiosity and dogmatic interest as the Apocryphal Gospels, and have a similar apologetic, though very little historical, value. The heretical character is, however, more strongly marked. They have not yet been sufficiently investigated. Lipsius (in Smith and Wace’s, “Dict. of Christ. Biog.” vol. I. p. 27) divides the Apocryphal Acts into four classes: (1) Ebionitic; (2) Gnostic; (3) originally Catholic; (4) Catholic adaptations or recensions of heretical documents. The last class is the most numerous, rarely older than the fifth century, but mostly resting on documents from the second and third centuries.

(a) Apocryphal Acts: Acta Petri et Pauli (of Ebionite origin, but recast), Acta Pauli et Theclae (mentioned by Tertullian at the end of the second century, of Gnostic origin), Acta Thomae (Gnostic), Acta Matthaei, Acta Thaddei, Martyrium Bartholomaei, Acta Barnabae, Acta Andreae, Acta Andreae et Mathiae, Acta Philippi, Acta Johannis, Acta Simonis et Judae, Acta Thaddaei, The Doctrine of Addai, the Apostle (ed. in Syriac and English by Dr. G. Phillips, London, 1876).

(b) Apocryphal Epistles: the correspondence between Paul and Seneca (six by Paul and eight by Seneca, mentioned by Jerome and Augustine), the third Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, Epistolae Mariae, Epistolae Petri ad Jacobum.

(c) Apocryphal Apocalypses: Apocalypsis Johannis, Apocalypsis Petri, Apocalypsis Pauli (or ἀναβατικὸν Παύλου, based on the report of his rapture into Paradise, 2Co_12:2-4), Apocalypsis Thomae, Apoc. Stephani, Apoc. Mariae, Apoc. Mosis, Apoc. Esdrae.

Editions and Collections:

Fabricius: Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti. Hamburg, 1703, 2d ed. 1719, 1743, 3 parts in 2 vols. (vol. II.)

Grabe: Spicilegium Patrum et Haereticorum. Oxford, 1698, ed. II. 1714.

Birch: Auctarium Cod. Apoc. N. Ti Fabrician. Copenh. 1804 (Fasc. I.). Contains the pseudo-Apocalypse of John.

Thilo: Acta Apost. Petri et Pauli. Halis, 1838. Acta Thomae. Lips. 1823.

Tischendorf: Acta Apostolorum Apocrypha. Lips. 1851.

Tischendorf: Apocalypses Apocryphae Mosis, Esdrae, Pauli, Joannis, item Mariae Dormitio. Lips. 1866.

R. A. Lipsius: Die apokryph Apostel geschichten und Apostel legenden. Leipz. 1883 sq. 2 vols.

4. Jewish Sources: Philo and Josephus, see § 14. Josephus is all-important for the history of the Jewish war and the destruction of Jerusalem, a.d. 70, which marks the complete rapture of the Christian Church with the Jewish synagogue and temple. The apocryphal Jewish, and the Talmudic literature supplies information and illustrations of the training of the Apostles and the form of their teaching and the discipline and worship of the primitive church. Lightfoot, Schöttgen, Castelli, Delitzsch, Wünsche, Siegfried, Schürer, and a few others have made those Resources available for the exegete and historian. Comp. here also the Jewish works of Jost, Graetz, and Geiger, mentioned § 9, p. 61, and Hamburger’s Real-Ecyclopädie des Judenthums (für Bibel und Talmud), in course of publication.

5. Heathen writers: Tacitus, Pliny, Suetonius, Lucian, Celsus, Porphyry, Julian. They furnish only fragmentary, mostly incidental, distorted and hostile information, but of considerable apologetic value.

Comp. Nath. Lardner (d. 1768): Collection of Ancient Jewish and Heathen Testimonies to the Truth of the Christian Religion. Originally published in 4 vols. Lond. 1764-’67, and then in the several editions of his Works (vol. VI. 365-649, ed. Kippis).


II. Histories of the Apostolic Age

William Cave (Anglican, d. 1713): Lives of the Apostles, and the two Evangelists, St. Mark and St. Luke. Lond. 1675, new ed. revised by H. Cary, Oxford, 1840 (reprinted in New York, 1857). Comp. also Cave’s Primitive Christianity, 4th ed. Lond. 1862.

Joh. Fr. Buddeus (Luth., d. at Jena, 1729): Ecclesia Apostolica. Jen. 1729.

George Benson (d. 1763): History of the First Planting of the Christian Religion. Lond. 1756, 3 vols. 4to (in German by Bamberger, Halle, 1768).

J. J. Hess (d. at Zurich, 1828): Geschichte der Apostel Jesu. Zür. 1788; 4th ed. 1820.

Gottl. Jac. Planck (d. in Göttingen, 1833): Geschichte des Christenthums in der Periode seiner Einführung in die Welt durch Jesum und die Apostel. Göttingen, 1818, 2 vols.

*Aug. Neander (d. in Berlin, 1850): Geschichte der Pflanzung und Leitung der Christlichen Kirche durch die Apostel. Hamb. 1832. 2 vols.; 4th ed. revised 1847. The same in English (History of the Planting and Training of the Christ. Church), by J. E. Ryland, Edinb. 1842, and in Bohn’s Standard Library, Lond. 1851; reprinted in Philad. 1844; revised by E. G. Robinson, N. York, 1865. This book marks an epoch and is still valuable.

F. C. Albert Schwegler (d. at Tübingen, 1857): Das nachapostolische Zeitalter in den Hauptmomenten seiner Entwicklung. Tübingen, 1845, 1846, 2 vols. An ultra-critical attempt to transpose the apostolic literature (with the exception of five books) into the post-apostolic age.

*Ferd. Christ. Baur (d. 1860): Das Christenthum und die christliche Kirche der drei ersten Jahrhunderte. Tübingen, 1853, 2d revised ed. 1860 (536 pp.). The third edition is a mere reprint or title edition of the second and forms the first volume of his General Church History, edited by his son, in 5 vols. 1863. It is the last and ablest exposition of the Tübingen reconstruction of the apostolic history from the pen of the master of that school. See vol. I. pp. 1-174. English translation by Allen Menzies, in 2 vols. Lond. 1878 and 1879. Comp. also Baur’s Paul, second ed. by Ed. Zeller, 1866 and 1867, and translated by A. Menzies, 2 vols. 1873, 1875. Baur’s critical researches have compelled a thorough revision of the traditional views on the apostolic age, and have so far been very useful, notwithstanding their fundamental errors.

A. P. Stanley (Dean of Westminster): Sermons and Essays on the Apostolic Age. Oxford, 1847. 3d ed. 1874.

*Heinrich W. J. Thiersch (Irvingite, died 1885 in Basle): Die Kirche im apostolischen Zeitalter. Francf. a. M. 1852; 3d ed. Augsburg, 1879, “improved,” but very slightly. (The same in English from the first ed. by Th. Carlyle. Lond. 1852.)

*J. P. Lange (d. 1884): Das apostolische Zeitalter. Braunschw. 1854. 2 vols.

*Philip Schaff: History of the Apostolic Church, first in German, Mercersburg, Penns. 1851; 2d ed. enlarged, Leipzig, 1854; English translation by Dr. E. D. Yeomans, N. York, 1853, in 1 vol.; Edinb. 1854, in 2 vols.; several editions without change. (Dutch translation from the second Germ. ed. by J. W. Th. Lublink Weddik, Tiel, 1857.)

*G. V. Lechler (Prof. in Leipzig): Das apostolische und das nachapostolische Zeitalter. 2d ed. 1857; 3d ed. thoroughly revised, Leipzig, 1885. Engl. trsl. by Miss Davidson, Edinb. 1887. Conservative.

*Albrecht Ritschl (d. in Göttingen, 1889): Die Entstehung der altkatholischen Kirche. 2d ed. Bonn, 1857. The first edition was in harmony with the Tübingen School; but the second is materially improved, and laid the foundation for the Ritschl School.

*Heinrich Ewald (d. at Göttingen, 1874): Geschichte des Volkes Israel, vols. VI. and VII. 2d ed. Göttingen, 1858 and 1859. Vol. VI. of this great work contains the History of the Apostolic Age to the destruction of Jerusalem; vol. VII. the History of the post-Apostolic Age to the reign of Hadrian. English translation of the History of Israel by R. Martineau and J. E. Carpenter. Lond. 1869 sqq. A trans. of vols. VI. and VII. is not intended. Ewald (the “Urvogel von Göttingen”) pursued an independent path in opposition both to the traditional orthodoxy and to the Tübingen school, which he denounced as worse than heathenish. See Preface to vol. VII.

*E. de Pressensé: Histoire des trois premiers siècles de l’église chrétienne. Par. 1858 sqq. 4 vols. German translation by E. Fabarius (Leipz. 1862-’65); English translation by Annie Harwood-Holmden (Lond. and N. York, 1870, new ed. Lond. 1879). The first volume contains the first century under the title Le siècle apostolique; rev. ed. 1887.

*Joh. Jos. Ign. von Döllinger (Rom. Cath., since 1870 Old Cath.): Christenthum und Kirche in der Zeit der Gründung. Regensburg, 1860. 2d ed. 1868. The same translated into English by H. N. Oxenham. London, 1867.

C. S. Vaughan: The Church of the First Days. Lond. 1864-’65. 3 vols. Lectures on the Acts of the Apostles.

J. N. Sepp (Rom. Cath.): Geschichte der Apostel Jesu his zur Zerstörung Jerusalems. Schaffhausen, 1866.

C. Holsten: Zum Evangelium des Paulus und des Petrus. Rostock, 1868 (447 pp.).

Paul Wilh. Schmidt und Franz v. Holtzendorf: Protestanten-Bibel Neuen Testaments. Zweite, revid. Auflage. Leipzig, 1874. A popular exegetical summary of the Tübingen views with contributions from Bruch, Hilgenfeld, Holsten, Lipsius, Pfleiderer and others.

A. B. Bruce (Professor in Glasgow): The Training of the Twelve. Edinburgh, 1871, second ed. 1877.

*Ernest Renan (de l’Académie Francaise): Histoire des origines du Christianisme. Paris, 1863 sqq. The first volume is Vie de Jésus, 1863, noticed in § 14; then followed II. Les Apôtres, 1866; III. St. Paul, 1869; IV. L’Antechrist, 1873; V. Les Évangiles, 1877; VI. L’Église Chrétienne, 1879; VII. and last volume, Marc-Auréle, 1882. The II., III., IV., and V. volumes belong to the Apostolic age; the last two to the next. The work of a sceptical outsider, of brilliant genius, eloquence, and secular learning. It increases in value as it advances. The Life of Jesus is the most interesting and popular, but also by far the most objectionable volume, because it deals almost profanely with the most sacred theme.

Emil Ferriére: Les Apôtres. Paris, 1875.

Supernatural Religion. An Inquiry into the Reality of Divine Revelation. Lond. 1873, (seventh), “complete ed., carefully revised,” 1879, 3 vols. This anonymous work is an English reproduction and repository of the critical speculations of the Tübingen School of Baur, Strauss, Zeller, Schwegler, Hilgenfeld, Volkmar, etc. It may be called an enlargement of Schwegler’s Nachapostolisches Zeitalter. The first volume is mostly taken up with a philosophical discussion of the question of miracles; the remainder of vol. I. (pp. 212-485) and vol. II. contain an historical inquiry into the apostolic origin of the canonical Gospels, with a negative result. The third volume discusses the Acts, the Epistles and the Apocalypse, and the evidence for the Resurrection and Ascension, which are resolved into hallucinations or myths. Starting with the affirmation of the antecedent incredibility of miracles, the author arrives at the conclusion of their impossibility; and this philosophical conclusion determines the historical investigation throughout. Dr. Schürer, in the “Theol. Literaturzeitung” for 1879, No. 26 (p. 622), denies to this work scientific value for Germany, but gives it credit for extraordinary familiarity with recent German literature and great industry in collecting historical details. Drs. Lightfoot, Sanday, Ezra Abbot, and others have exposed the defects of its scholarship, and the false premises from which the writer reasons. The rapid sale of the work indicates the extensive spread of skepticism and the necessity of fighting over again, on Anglo-American ground, the theological battles of Germany and Holland; it is to be hoped with more triumphant success.

*J. B. Lightfoot (Bishop of Durham since 1879): A series of elaborate articles against “Supernatural Religion,” in the “Contemporary Review” for 1875 to 1877. They should be republished in book form. Comp. also the reply of the anonymous author in the lengthy preface to the sixth edition. Lightfoot’s Commentaries on Pauline Epistles contain valuable Excursuses on several historical questions of the apostolic age, especially St. Paul and the Three, in the Com. on the Galatians, pp. 283-355.

W. Sanday: The Gospels in the Second Century. London, 1876. This is directed against the critical part of “Supernatural Religion.” The eighth chapter on Marcion’s Gnostic mutilation and reconstruction of St. Luke’s Gospel (pp. 204 sqq.) had previously appeared in the “Fortnightly Review” for June, 1875, and finishes on English soil, a controversy which had previously been fought out on German soil, in the circle of the Tübingen School. The preposterous hypothesis of the priority of Marcion’s Gospel was advocated by Ritschl, Baur and Schwegler, but refuted by Volkmar and Hilgenfeld, of the same school; whereupon Baur and Ritschl honorably abandoned their error. The anonymous author of “Supernatural Religion,” in his seventh edition, has followed their example. The Germans conducted the controversy chiefly under its historic and dogmatic aspects; Sanday has added the philological and textual argument with the aid of Holtzmann’s analysis of the style and vocabulary of Luke.

A. Hausrath (Prof. in Heidelberg): Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte. Heidelberg, 1873 sqq. Parts Il. and III. (second ed. 1875) embrace the apostolic times, Part IV. (1877) the post-apostolic times. English translation by Poynting and Quenzer. Lond. 1878 sqq. H. belongs to the School of Tübingen.

Dan. Schenkel (Prof. in Heidelberg): Das Christusbild der Apostel und der nachapostolischen Zeit. Leipz. 1879. Comp. the review by H. Holtzmann in Hilgenfeld’s “Zeitschrift für wissensch. Theol.” 1879, p. 392.

H. Oort and I. Hooykaas: The Bible for Learners, translated from the Dutch by Philip H. Wicksteed, vol. III. (the New Test., by Hooykaas), Book III. pp. 463-693 of the Boston ed. 1879. (In the Engl. ed. it is vol. VI.) This is a popular digest of the rationalistic Tübingen and Leyden criticism under the inspiration of Dr. A. Kuenen, Professor of Theology at Leyden. It agrees substantially with the Protestanten-Bibel noticed above.

*George P. Fisher (Prof. in Yale College, New Haven): The Beginnings of Christianity. N. York, 1877. Comp. also the author’s former work: Essays on the Supernatural Origin of Christianity, with special reference to the Theories of Renan, Strauss, and the Tübingen School. New York, 1865. New ed. enlarged, 1877.

*C. Weizsäcker (successor of Baur in Tübingen): Das Apostolische Zeitalter. Freiburg, 1886. Critical and very able.

*O. Pfleiderer (Prof. in Berlin): Das Urchristenthum, seine Schriften und Lehren. Berlin, 1887. (Tübingen School.)


III. The Chronology of the Apostolic Age

Rudolph Anger: De temporum in Actis Apostolorum ratione. Lips. 1833 (208 pp.).

Henry Browne: Ordo Saeculorum. A Treatise on the Chronology of the Holy Scriptures. Lond. 1844. Pp. 95-163.

Karl Wieseler: Chronologie des apostolischen Zeitalters. Göttingen, 1848 (606 pp.).

The older and special works are noticed in Wieseler, pp. 6-9. See also the elaborate Synopsis of the dates of the Apostolic Age in Schäffer’s translation of Lechler on Acts (in the Am. ed. of Lange’s Commentary); Henry B. Smith’s Chronological Tables of Church History (1860); and Weingarten: Zeittafeln zur K-Gesch. 3d ed. 1888.


21. General Character of the Apostolic Age

“Der Schlachtruf, der St. Pauli Brust entsprungen,

Rief nicht sein Echo auf zu tausend Streiten?

Und welch’ ein Friedensecho hat geklungen

Durch tausend Herzen von Johannis Saiten!

Wie viele rasche Feuer sind entglommen

Als Wiederschein von Petri Funkensprühen!

Und sieht man Andre still mit Opfern kommen,]

Ist’s, weil sie in Jakobi Schul’ gediehen: — 

Ein Satz ist’s, der in Variationen

Vom ersten Anfang forttönt durch Aeonen.” — (Tholuck.)


Extent and Environment of the Apostolic Age

The apostolic period extends from the Day of Pentecost to the death of St. John, and covers about seventy years, from a.d. 30 to 100. The field of action is Palestine, and gradually extends over Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy. The most prominent centers are Jerusalem, Antioch, and Rome, which represent respectively the mother churches of Jewish, Gentile, and United Catholic Christianity. Next to them are Ephesus and Corinth. Ephesus acquired a special importance by the residence and labors of John, which made themselves felt during the second century through Polycarp and Irenaeus. Samaria, Damascus, Joppa, Caesarea, Tyre, Cyprus, the provinces of Asia Minor, Troas, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Crete, Patmos, Malta, Puteoli, come also into view as points where the Christian faith was planted. Through the eunuch converted by Philip, it reached Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians. (Act_8:27) As early as a.d. 58 Paul could say: “From Jerusalem and round about even unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” (Rom_15:19) He afterwards carried it to Rome, where it had already been known before, and possibly as far as Spain, the western boundary of the empire.

The nationalities reached by the gospel in the first century were the Jews, the Greeks, and the Romans, and the languages used were the Hebrew or Aramaic, and especially the Greek, which was at that time the organ of civilization and of international intercourse within the Roman empire.

The contemporary secular history includes the reigns of the Roman Emperors from Tiberius to Nero and Domitian, who either ignored or persecuted Christianity. We are brought directly into contact with King Herod Agrippa I. (grandson of Herod the Great), the murderer of the apostle, James the Elder; with his son King Agrippa II. (the last of the Herodian house), who with his sister Bernice (a most corrupt woman) listened to Paul’s defense; with two Roman governors, Felix and Festus; with Pharisees and Sadducees; with Stoics and Epicureans; with the temple and theatre at Ephesus, with the court of the Areopagus at Athens, and with Caesar’s palace in Rome.


Sources of Information

The author of Acts records the heroic march of Christianity from the capital of Judaism to the capital of heathenism with the same artless simplicity and serene faith as the Evangelists tell the story of Jesus; well knowing that it needs no embellishment, no apology, no subjective reflections, and that it will surely triumph by its inherent spiritual power.

The Acts and the Pauline Epistles accompany us with reliable information down to the year 63. Peter and Paul are lost out of sight in the lurid fires of the Neronian persecution which seemed to consume Christianity itself. We know nothing certain of that satanic spectacle from authentic Resources beyond the information of heathen historians. A few years afterwards followed the destruction of Jerusalem, which must have made an overpowering impression and broken the last ties which bound Jewish Christianity to the old theocracy. The event is indeed brought before us in the prophecy of Christ as recorded in the Gospels, but for the terrible fulfilment we are dependent on the account of an unbelieving Jew, which, as the testimony of an enemy, is all the more impressive.

The remaining thirty years of the first century are involved in mysterious darkness, illuminated only by the writings of John. This is a period of church history about which we know least and would like to know most. This period is the favorite field for ecclesiastical fables and critical conjectures. How thankfully would the historian hail the discovery of any new authentic documents between the martyrdom of Peter and Paul and the death of John, and again between the death of John and the age of Justin Martyr and Irenaeus.


Causes of Success

As to the numerical strength of Christianity at the close of the first century, we have no information whatever. Statistical reports were unknown in those days. The estimate of half a million among the one hundred millions or more inhabitants of the Roman empire is probably exaggerated. The pentecostal conversion of three thousand in one day at Jerusalem, (Act_2:41) and the “immense multitude” of martyrs under Nero, favor a high estimate. The churches in Antioch also, Ephesus, and Corinth were strong enough to bear the strain of controversy and division into parties. (Gal_2:1 sqq.; 1Co_3:3 sqq.) But the majority of congregations were no doubt small, often a mere handful of poor people. In the country districts paganism (as the name indicates) lingered longest, even beyond the age of Constantine. The Christian converts belonged mostly to the middle and lower classes of society, such as fishermen, peasants, mechanics, traders, freedmen, slaves. St. Paul says: “Not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble were called, but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world that he might put to shame the things that are strong; and the base things of the world, and the things that are despised, did God choose, yea, and the things that are not, that he might bring to naught the things that are: that no flesh should glory before God.” (1Co_1:26-29) And yet these poor, illiterate churches were the recipients of the noblest gifts, and alive to the deepest problems and highest thoughts which can challenge the attention of an immortal mind. Christianity built from the foundation upward. From the lower ranks come the rising men of the future, who constantly reinforce the higher ranks and prevent their decay.

At the time of the conversion of Constantine, in the beginning of the fourth century, the number of Christians may have reached ten or twelve millions, that is about one-tenth of the total population of the Roman empire. Some estimate it higher.

The rapid success of Christianity under the most unfavorable circumstances is surprising and its own best vindication. It was achieved in the face of an indifferent or hostile world, and by purely spiritual and moral means, without shedding a drop of blood except that of its own innocent martyrs. Gibbon, in the famous fifteenth chapter of his “History,” attributes the rapid spread to five causes, namely: (1) the intolerant but enlarged religious zeal of the Christians inherited from the Jews; (2) the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, concerning which the ancient philosophers had but vague and dreamy ideas; (3) the miraculous powers attributed to the primitive church; (4) the purer but austere morality of the first Christians; (5) the unity and discipline of the church, which gradually formed a growing commonwealth in the heart of the empire. But every one of these causes, properly understood, points to the superior excellency and to the divine origin of the Christian religion, and this is the chief cause, which the Deistic historian omits.


Significance of the Apostolic Age

The life of Christ is the divine-human fountainhead of the Christian religion; the apostolic age is the fountainhead of the Christian church, as an organized society separate and distinct from the Jewish synagogue. It is the age of the Holy Spirit, the age of inspiration and legislation for all subsequent ages.

Here springs, in its original freshness and purity, the living water of the new creation. Christianity comes down front heaven as a supernatural fact, yet long predicted and prepared for, and adapted to the deepest wants of human nature. Signs and wonders and extraordinary demonstrations of the Spirit, for the conversion of unbelieving Jews and heathens, attend its entrance into the world of sin. It takes up its permanent abode with our fallen race, to transform it gradually, without war or bloodshed, by a quiet, leaven-like process, into a kingdom of truth and righteousness. Modest and humble, lowly and unseemly in outward appearance, but steadily conscious of its divine origin and its eternal destiny; without silver or gold, but rich in supernatural gifts and powers, strong in faith, fervent in love, and joyful in hope; bearing in earthen vessels the imperishable treasures of heaven, it presents itself upon the stage of history as the only true, the perfect religion, for all the nations of the earth. At first an insignificant and even contemptible sect in the eyes of the carnal mind, hated and persecuted by Jews and heathens, it confounds the wisdom of Greece and the power of Rome, soon plants the standard of the cross in the great cities of Asia, Africa, and Europe, and proves itself the hope of the world.

In virtue of this original purity, vigor, and beauty, and the permanent success of primitive Christianity, the canonical authority of the single but inexhaustible volume of its literature, and the character of the apostles, those inspired organs of the Holy Spirit, those untaught teachers of mankind, the apostolic age has an incomparable interest and importance in the history of the church. It is the immovable groundwork of the whole. It has the same regulative force for all the subsequent developments of the church as the inspired writings of the apostles have for the works of all later Christian authors.

Furthermore, the apostolic Christianity is preformative, and contains the living germs of all the following periods, personages, and tendencies. It holds up the highest standard of doctrine and discipline; it is the inspiring genius of all true progress; it suggests to every age its peculiar problem with the power to solve it. Christianity can never outgrow Christ, but it grows in Christ; theology cannot go beyond the word of God, but it must ever progress in the understanding and application of the word of God. The three leading apostles represent not only the three stages of the apostolic church, but also as many ages and types of Christianity, and yet they are all present in every age and every type.


The Representative Apostles

Peter, Paul, and John stand out most prominently as the chosen Three who accomplished the great work of the apostolic age, and exerted, by their writings and example, a controlling influence on all subsequent ages. To them correspond three centers of influence, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Rome.

Our Lord himself had chosen Three out of the Twelve for his most intimate companions, who alone witnessed the Transfiguration and the agony in Gethsemane. They fulfilled all the expectations, Peter and John by their long and successful labors, James the Elder by drinking early the bitter cup of his Master, as the proto-martyr of the Twelve. (Mat_22:23; Act_12:2) Since his death, a.d. 44, James, “the brother of the Lord” seems to have succeeded him, as one of the three “pillars” of the church of the circumcision, although he did not belong to the apostles in the strict sense of the term, and his influence, as the head of the church at Jerusalem, was more local than ecumenical.

Paul was called last and out of the regular order, by the personal appearance of the exalted Lord from heaven, and in authority and importance he was equal to any of the three pillars, but filled a place of his own, as the independent apostle of the Gentiles. He had around him a small band of co-laborers and pupils, such as Barnabas, Silas, Titus, Timothy, Luke.

Nine of the original Twelve, including Matthias, who was chosen in the place of Judas, labored no doubt faithfully and effectively, in preaching the gospel throughout the Roman empire and to the borders of the barbarians, but in subordinate positions, and their labors are known to us only from vague and uncertain traditions.

The labors of James and Peter we can follow in the Acts to the Council of Jerusalem, a.d. 50, and a little beyond; those of Paul to his first imprisonment in Rome, a.d. 61-63; John lived to the close of the first century. As to their last labors we have no authentic information in the New Testament, but the unanimous testimony of antiquity that Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom in Rome during or after the Neronian persecution, and that John died a natural death at Ephesus. The Acts breaks off abruptly with Paul still living and working, a prisoner in Rome, “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, with all boldness, none forbidding him.” A significant conclusion.

It would be difficult to find three men equally great and good, equally endowed with genius sanctified by grace, bound together by deep and strong love to the common Master, and laboring for the same cause, yet so different in temper and constitution, as Peter, Paul, and John. Peter stands out in history as the main pillar of the primitive church, as the Rock-apostle, as the chief of the twelve foundation-stones of the new Jerusalem; John as the bosom-friend of the Saviour, as the son of thunder, as the soaring eagle, as the apostle of love; Paul as the champion of Christian freedom and progress, as the greatest missionary, with “the care of all the churches” upon his heart, as the expounder of the Christian system of doctrine, as the father of Christian theology. Peter was a man of action, always in haste and ready to take the lead; the first to confess Christ, and the first to preach Christ on the day of Pentecost; Paul a man equally potent in word and deed; John a man of mystic contemplation. Peter was unlearned and altogether practical; Paul a scholar and thinker as well as a worker; John a theosophist and seer. Peter was sanguine, ardent, impulsive, hopeful, kind-hearted, given to sudden changes, “consistently inconsistent” (to use an Aristotelian phrase); Paul was choleric, energetic, bold, noble, independent, uncompromising; John some what melancholic, introverted, reserved, burning within of love to Christ and hatred of Antichrist. Peter’s Epistles are full of sweet grace and comfort, the result of deep humiliation and rich experience; those of Paul abound in severe thought and logical argument, but rising at times to the heights of celestial eloquence, as in the seraphic description of love and the triumphant paean of the eighth chapter of the Romans; John’s writings are simple, serene, profound, intuitive, sublime, inexhaustible.

We would like to know more about the personal relations of these pillar-apostles, but must be satisfied with a few hints. They labored in different fields and seldom met face to face in their busy life. Time was too precious, their work too serious, for sentimental enjoyments of friendship. Paul went to Jerusalem a.d. 40, three years after his conversion, for the express purpose of making the personal acquaintance of Peter, and spent two weeks with him; he saw none of the other apostles, but only James, the Lord’s brother. He met the pillar-apostles at the Conference in Jerusalem, a.d. 50, and concluded with them the peaceful concordat concerning the division of labor, and the question of circumcision; the older apostles gave him and Barnabas “the right hands of fellowship” in token of brotherhood and fidelity. (Act_15:1-41; Gal_2:1-10) Not long afterwards Paul met Peter a third time, at Antioch, but came into open collision with him on the great question of Christian freedom and the union of Jewish and Gentile converts. (Gal_2:11-21) The collision was merely temporary, but significantly reveals the profound commotion and fermentation of the apostolic age, and foreshadowed future antagonisms and reconciliations in the church. Several years later (a.d. 57) Paul refers the last time to Cephas, and the brethren of the Lord, for the right to marry and to take a wife with him on his missionary journeys. (1Co_9:5; comp. Mat_8:14) Peter, in his first Epistle to Pauline churches, confirms them in their Pauline faith, and in his second Epistle, his last will and testament, he affectionately commends the letters of his “beloved brother Paul,” adding, however, the characteristic remark, which all commentators must admit to be true, that (even beside the account of the scene in Antioch) there are in them “some things hard to be understood.” According to tradition (which varies considerably as to details), the great leaders of Jewish and Gentile Christianity met at Rome, were tried and condemned together, Paul, the Roman citizen, to the death by the sword on the Ostian road at Tre Fontane; Peter, the Galilean apostle, to the more degrading death of the cross on the hill of Janiculum. John mentions Peter frequently in his Gospel, especially in the appendix, but never names Paul; he met him, as it seems, only once, at Jerusalem, gave him the right hand of fellowship, became his successor in the fruitful field of Asia Minor, and built on his foundation.

Peter was the chief actor in the first stage of apostolic Christianity and fulfilled the prophecy of his name in laying the foundation of the church among the Jews and the Gentiles. In the second stage he is overshadowed by the mighty labors of Paul; but after the apostolic age he stands out again most prominent in the memory of the church. He is chosen by the Roman communion as its special patron saint and as the first pope. He is always named before Paul. To him most of the churches are dedicated. In the name of this poor fisherman of Galilee, who had neither gold nor silver, and was crucified like a malefactor and a slave, the triple-crowned popes deposed kings, shook empires, dispensed blessings and curses on earth and in purgatory, and even now claim the power to settle infallibly all questions of Christian doctrine and discipline for the Catholic world.

Paul was the chief actor in the second stage of the apostolic church, the apostle of the Gentiles, the founder of Christianity in Asia Minor and Greece, the emancipator of the new religion from the yoke of Judaism, the herald of evangelical freedom, the standard-bearer of reform and progress. His controlling influence was felt also in Rome, and is clearly seen in the genuine Epistle of Clement, who makes more account of him than of Peter. But soon afterwards he is almost forgotten, except by name. He is indeed associated with Peter as the founder of the church of Rome, but in a secondary line; his Epistle to the Romans is little read and understood by the Romans even to this day; his church lies outside of the walls of the eternal city, while St. Peter’s is its chief ornament and glory. In Africa alone he was appreciated, first by the rugged and racy Tertullian, more fully by the profound Augustine, who passed through similar contrasts in his religious experience; but Augustine’s Pauline doctrines of sin and grace had no effect whatever on the Eastern church, and were practically overpowered in the Western church by Pelagian tendencies. For a long time Paul’s name was used and abused outside of the ruling orthodoxy and hierarchy by anti-catholic heretics and sectaries in their protest against the new yoke of traditionalism and ceremonialism. But in the sixteenth century he celebrated a real resurrection and inspired the evangelical reformation. Then his Epistles to the Galatians and Romans were republished, explained, and applied with trumpet tongues by Luther and Calvin. Then his protest against Judaizing bigotry and legal bondage was renewed, and the rights of Christian liberty asserted on the largest scale. Of all men in church history, St. Augustine not excepted, Martin Luther, once a contracted monk, then a prophet of freedom, has most affinity in word and work with the apostle of the Gentiles, and ever since Paul’s genius has ruled the theology and religion of Protestantism. As the gospel of Christ was cast out from Jerusalem to bless the Gentiles, so Paul’s Epistle to the Romans was expelled from Rome to enlighten and to emancipate Protestant nations in the distant North and far West.

St. John, the most intimate companion of Jesus, the apostle of love, the seer who looked back to the ante-mundane beginning and forward to the post-mundane end of all things, and who is to tarry till the coming of the Lord, kept aloof from active part in the controversies between Jewish and Gentile Christianity. He appears prominent in the Acts and the Epistle to the Galatians, as one of the pillar-apostles, but not a word of his is reported. He was waiting in mysterious silence, with a reserved force, for his proper time, which did not come till Peter and Paul had finished their mission. Then, after their departure, he revealed the hidden depths of his genius in his marvellous writings, which represent the last and crowning work of the apostolic church. John has never been fully fathomed, but it has been felt throughout all the periods of church history that he has best understood and portrayed the Master, and may yet speak the last word in the conflict of ages and usher in an era of harmony and peace. Paul is the heroic captain of the church militant, John the mystic prophet of the church triumphant.

Far above them all, throughout the apostolic age and all subsequent ages, stands the one great Master from whom Peter, Paul, and John drew their inspiration, to whom they bowed in holy adoration, whom alone they served and glorified in life and in death, and to whom they still point in their writings as the perfect image of God, as the Saviour from sin and death, as the Giver of eternal life, as the divine harmony of conflicting creeds and schools, as the Alpha and Omega of the Christian faith.