« AnteriorContinua »
i. e. in any writers of the first four centuries, besides by Austin, except the Epistle of Christ to Abgarus, which is still extant, and to be examined in the next part of this work. It is true indeed, in later ages, many such forgeries are known to have been; some of which are still extant, but so ridiculous and trifling, as not to deserve any mention or regard. Mr. Fabritius has been at the pains (though to little purpose) to collect them in his Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti, where, p. 308, &c. he who has a mind may see a more particular account. I return to what is more material : it does not appear that our Saviour ever wrote any book or letter whatsoever, except what he wrote with his finger on the ground m, whilst the Jews were accusing the adulterous woman to him; concerning which writing I think it as needless to form any new conjecture of my own, as it would be trifling to give the reader the elaborate discourses of Sixtus Senensisn, Fabritius', and others. Mr. Toland indeed in his Catalogue (Amyntor, p. 20.) under the title of Books reported to be written by Christ himself, reckons one entitled The Parables and Sermons of Christ, as mentioned by Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 1. 3. c. 39. At first view of this, one would be ready to conclude, that some such book under this title there certainly was written by our Saviour, seeing it is mentioned by so credible an author as Eusebius. But let the reader observe here a plain instance either of the unfairness or blundering of that silly writer; for it is evident Eusebius never thought any thing of such a book, either wrote by Christ, or that went under his name. The passage referred to is this; speaking of Papias, and his fondness for traditions, he adds, Και άλλα δε και αυτός συγγρα
That writer further declares, that φεύς, ως εκ παραδόσεως άγράφου
he received many other things by εις αυτόν ήκοντα, παρατέθειται
oral tradition, viz. some strange ξένας τέ τινας παραβολάς του Σω- parables and discourses of our τήρος, και διδασκαλίας αυτού, και Saviour, and such like idle fabuτινα άλλα μυθικώτερα, &c.
lous things, &c.
Among these one was the Millennium.
m John viii. 6.
• Cod. Apoc. Nov. Test. pars 1. p. 315.
It is strange Mr. Toland would either suffer himself to be so much imposed upon, or endeavour to impose upon his readers a thing so very gross, as to call that a book written by Christ, and cite Eusebius for it, when Eusebius expressly says, it was no book at all, but only some fabulous traditionary stories of Christ, which the credulous Papias had collected. I take it then for granted, that we have no mention of any books as written by our Saviour till the fourth century; which premised, I come to inquire, what mention is made of them there.
No. XII. The Epistle of Christ to Peter and Paul. ST. AUSTIN disputing against the pagans intimates, that they pretended to have seen or read some books which were written by Christ. His words are these P: Ita vero isti desipiunt, ut in illis They are so strangely infatuated, libris, quos eum scripsisse existi- as to assert, that in those books mant, dicant contineri eas artes, which they suppose Christ to quibus eum putant ea fecisse mi- have written, are contained those racula, quorum fama ubique per- arts, by which he wrought his crebuit; Quid quod etiam di- celebrated miracles.- - They are vino judicio sic errant quidam eo- so blinded by the judgment of rum, qui talia Christum scripsisse God upon them, who believe or vel credunt, vel credi volunt, ut would have others believe that eosdem libros ad Petrum et Pau- Christ wrote such books, as to lum dicant, tanquam epistolari say, that the books are wrote in titulo prænotatos.
the form of an Epistle to Peter
and Paul. It is not very difficult to form a judgment concerning these spurious pieces; and indeed the folly of them is so well demonstrated by St. Austin, that I need do little more than give the reader his words. He first seems to question the sincerity of their relation as to the fact : “ If they have,” says he, “any “ such books which they affirm Christ to have written, let “ them produce them to us. They must necessarily be very “ useful and edifying books, which were written by one whom “ themselves esteemed as a man of the greatest wisdom. If
they are afraid to produce them, it is a sign they are bad; “ and if they are bad, they could not be written by the wisest
p De Consens. Evang. lib. 1. c. 9, 10. T. Opp. 4.
“ of men; but such they confess Christ to have been, there“ fore Christ did not write any such book.”—A little after, “ Why do not they who affirm they have read such books do “ some such works, as they with wonder own he did by them?” In the rest of the chapter this pious father shews it impossible that this book should not be a forgery, by this good argument, " that St. Paul was not a Christian until a considerable time “ after Christ's ascension, and so could not be joined with “ Peter, as a disciple of Christ, and receive a letter from him, “ unless it was sent by post from heaven.” It is manifest therefore this book must be reckoned
apocry. phal and spurious by Prop. IV, V, and VI. as also by Prop. VIII. it containing things contrary to certainly known and undoubted truths, which being such also as are subversive of the whole design and doctrine of Christianity, viz. That Christ wrought his miracles by magical arts 9, prove it apocryphal by Coroll. Prop. VIII.
Whether this book was forged by a heathen or a Christian, is not very easy to determine. St. Austin supposes the latter", which indeed seems the more probable conjecture, and because it is a very ingenious one, it may be worth while to transcribe it. Perhaps," says he, “ it was the contrivance of some, “ who fancied by writing such books, under the names of “ Christ and his apostles, they could gain some weight and au
thority from so glorious a name to these execrable arts; but were so infatuated in their impudent imposture, as justly to expose themselves to the laughter of children, and those who
were only able to read (in gradu lectorum) the Christian “ books. For when they had resolved to forge such a letter “ under the name of Christ to his apostles, they contrived to “ inscribe it to those to whom it was most likely to be believed 66 that Christ would have wrote, viz. those who were most fa“ miliar with him, and so most worthy of having such a secret “ committed to them; hereupon they presently thought of “ Peter and Paul, because, I suppose, they had often seen “ these two pictured with Christ, seeing the passion of Peter
9 See August. c. 9. lib. cit.
r I interpret this of a Christian, because he makes a plain opposition be
tween these, and those whom he calls inimici nominis Christi, i. e. heathens.
“ and Paul on the same day is frequently and solemnly cele« brated at Rome.”
If this conjecture be just, we see an instance of the pious frauds of the first Christians in forging books, which I assigned as one reason of the great number of apocryphal pieces, in the first part of this work, chap. iv.
No. XIII. Another book under the name of our Saviour
Christ. OF this we have some account in another part of the last cited book of St. Austin s. His words are Primo mihi discutiendum occur- I judged it necessary
first to disrit, quod nonnulli quærere solent, cuss a question moved by some cur ipsius Christi nulla scripta (pagans], Why we (Christians) proferamus? Ita enim volunt, et
can produce no books written by ipsum credi nescio quid aliud scri- Christ himself? For so they psisse, quod diligunt, nihilque would persuade us, that he wrote sensisse contra Deos suos, sed some other sort of book, [difeos potius magico ritu coluisse, ferent from the Evangelists,] et discipulos ejus non solum fu
which they esteem, and in which isse mentitos de illo, dicendo il- he appears to have thought nolum Deum per quem omnia fa- thing to the prejudice of their cta sunt, cum (non]* aliud nisi gods, but on the other hand himquam homo fuerit, quamvis ex- self to have worshipped them cellentissimæ sapientiæ, verum with magical ceremonies, and that etiam de diis eorum non hoc do- his disciples did not only assert cuisse quod ab illo didicissent. false things of him, in saying,
That he was the God by whom all things were made, when he was no more than a mere man, though of most extraordinary wisdom, but that he did not teach those things concerning their gods which they [pretend
ed to have) learnt. It would seem at first view, the book here mentioned was the same with the foregoing, each of them treating concerning
• Cap. 34.
was certainly wrote by St. Austin, though it be not in my edition.
• I insert the particle non, because either that or some other word like it
the magic of Christ ; but, if I mistake not, there is a probable reason at least to conclude them to have been different, because St. Austin supposes the former to have been composed by some impious Christian; but this he could not possibly conceive to have the same original. It is possible a Christian so called (for there were many in those days little more so than in name) might conceive a magical book, and publish it under the name of Christ, which is the case in respect of the former book; but it is impossible a person should take upon him the Christian name, and write a book to prove Christ a worshipper of the idol gods, to countenance the heathens in their idolatry, and to make all his apostles and disciples impostors and liars, which is
he case with respect to the book now under consideration. However this be, it was certainly apocryphal by Prop. IV, V, VI, and VIII.
After reading what has been said concerning these two magical books ascribed to Christ, I hope no one will be surprised at the mention of them; nor is it strange, such forged accounts should be published, when we find that as the Jews objected to our Saviour himself, that he wrought his miracles by the power of devils, Matt. xii. 24. so both Jews and Gentiles endeavoured to spread the same malicious lies in the first ages of Christianity. Celsus frequently makes this impious objection, " that Christ
. learned his magical arts from the Egyptians, among whom he had his education u.” The same we meet with frequently as made by others in the writings of Eusebius, Arnobius y, Austin , &c. The Jews have a trite idle fable to the same purpose, That in the reign of queen Helena there was a stone in the temple of Jerusalem, on which the ark was formerly placed, on which was engraved 07307 OW i. e. the name Jehovah, in such letters that it might be read (for the Jews all hold that name ineffable, and not to be pronounced.) Now the efficacy of this name was such, that whoever learned the pronunciation of it, became thereby able to work all sorts of miracles. But the wise men among them, fearing lest an ill use should be made hereof, appointed brazen dog's to keep
u Vid. Origen. contra Cels. l. 1. vang. 1. 3. 5. 6. p. 30. et 1. 8. p. 384. et Spencer. An
y Contr. Gent. l. 1. p. 15. not. in lib. 1. p. 7.
2 Loc. supra cit. et Serm. xi. in Matth. p. 38. Tom. Opp. 10.
* Contr. Hieroc. et Demonst. E