« PreviousContinue »
rodias, his brother's wife*. In another passage, allowed by many, although not without considerable question being moved about it, we hear of “ James, the brother of him who was called Jesus, and of his being put to death ." In a third
passage, extant in every copy that remains of Josephus's History, but the authenticity of which has nevertheless been long disputed, we have an explicit testimony to the substance of our history in these words :“ At that time lived Jesus, a wise man, if he
may be called a man, for he performed many .
wonderful works. He was a teacher of such men as received the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him many Jews and Gentiles. This was the Christ ; and when Pilate, at the instigation of the chief men among us, had condemned him to the cross, they who before had conceived an affection for him, did not cease to adhere to him ; for, on the third day, he appeared to them alive again, the divine prophets having foretold these and many wonderful things concerning him. And the sect of the Christians, so called from him, subsists
* Antiq. l. xviii. cap. v. sect. 1, 2. + Antiq. I. XX. cap. ix. sect 1.
to this time *.” Whatever become of the controversy concerning the genuineness of this passage; whether Josephus go the whole length of our history, which, if the passage be sincere, he does ; or whether he proceed only a very little way with us, which, if the passage be rejected, we confess to be the case ; still what we asserted is true, that he gives no other or different history of the subject from ours, no other or different account of the origin of the institution. And I think also that it may with great reason be contended, either that the
passage is genuine, or that the silence of Josephus was designed. For, although we should lay aside the authority of our own books entirely, yet when Tacitus, who wrote not twenty, perhaps not ten, years, after Josephus, in his account of a period in which Josephus was nearly thirty years of age, tells us, that a vast multitude of Christians were condemned at Rome; that they derived their denomination from Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius, was put to death, as a criminal, by the procurator,
* Antiq. I. xviii. cap. iii. sect. 3.
Pontius Pilate ; that the superstition had spread not only over Judea, the source of the evil, but had reached Rome also : when Suetonius, an historian contemporary with Tacitus, relates that, in the time of Claudius, the Jews were making disturbances at Rome, Christus being their leader; and that, during the reign of Nero, the Christians were punished; under both which emperors, Josephus lived : when Pliny, who wrote his celebrated epistle not more than thirty years after the publication of Josephus's history, found the Christians in such numbers in the province of Bithynia, as to draw from him a complaint, that the contagion had seized cities, towns, and villages, and had so seized them as to produce a general desertion of the public rites; and when, as has already been observed, there is no reason for imagining that the Christians were more numerous in Bithynia than in
other Roman empire: il cannot, I should suppose, after this, be believed, that the religion, and the transaction upon which it was founded, were too obscure to engage the attention of Josephus, or to obtain a
parts of the place in his history. Perhaps he did not know how to represent the business, and disposed of his difficulties by passing it over in silence. Eusebius wrote the life of Constantine, yet omits entirely the most remarkable circumstance in that life, the death of his son Crispus ; undoubtedly for the reason heie given. The reserve of Josephus upon the subject of Christianity appears also in his passing over the banishment of the Jews by Claudius, which Suetonius, we have seen, has recorded with an express reference to Christ. This is at least as remarkable as his silence about the infants of Bethlehem * Be, however, the fact, or the cause of the omision in Josephus ti what it may, no other or
* Michaelis has computed, and, as it should seem, fairly enough, that probably not more than twenty children perish. ed by this cruel precaution. Michaelis's Introduction to the New Testament, translated by Marsh ; vol. i. c. ii. sect. 11.
+ There is no notice taken of Christianity in the Mishna, a collection of Jewish traditions compiled about the year 180; although it contains a Tract “ De cultu peregrino," of strange or idolatrous worship : yet it cannot be disputed but that Christianity was perfectly well known in the world at this time. There is extremely little notice of the subject in the Jerusalem Talmud, compiled about the year 300, and not much more in the Babylonish Talmud, of the year 500; al
different history on the subject has been given by him, or is pretended to have been given.
But farther; the whole series of Christian writers, from the first age of the institution down to the present, in their discussions, apologies, arguments, and controversies, proceed upon the general story which our Scriptures contain, and upon no other. The main facts, the principal agents, are alike in all. This argument will appear to be of great force, when it is known that we are able to trace back the series of writers to a contact with the historical books of the New Testament, and to the age of the first emissaries of the religion, and to deduce it, by an unbroken continuation, from that end of the train to the present.
The remaining letters of the apostles (and what more original than their letters
though both these works are of a religious nature, and al. though, when the first was compiled, Christianity was on the point of becoming the religion of the state, and, when the latter was published, had been so for 200 years.