Freethought Archives > Walter R. Cassels > Supernatural Religion 


Part 6, Chapter 2 (pp. 808-829)

[808:1] Let no one suppose that, in freely criticising the Gospels, we regard without emotion the actual incidents which lie at the bottom of these narratives, supposing them to be genuine. No one can, without pain, form to himself any adequate conception of the terrible sufferings of the Master, maltreated and insulted by a base and brutal multitude, too degraded to understand his noble character, and too ignorant to appreciate his elevated teaching; and to follow his course from the tribunal which sacrificed him to Jewish popular clamour to the spot where he ended a brief but self-sacrificing life by the shameful death of a slave may well make sympathy take the place of criticism. Profound veneration for the great Teacher, however, and earnest interest in all that concerns his history, rather command serious and unhesitating examination of the statements made with regard to him, than discourage an attempt to ascertain the truth; and it would be anything but respect for his memory to accept without question the Gospel accounts of his life simply because they were composed with the desire to glorify him.

[808:2] Matt. 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26.

[808:3] Bastazôn eautô ton stauron, John 19:17. If, instead of this reading, which is that of the Sinaitic and Alexandrian codices and other authorities, adopted by Tischendorf and others, the ton stauron autou of the received text and Lachmann, or autô t. st., of B, X, etc., be preferred, the result is the same. We may mention, in passing, that the fourth Gospel has no reference to a saying ascribed by the Synoptics to Jesus, in which bearing his cross is used typically: Matt. 10:38, 16:24; Mark 8:34, 10:21; Luke 9:23, 14:27.

[808:4] Luke 23:27 f.; cf. 21:23; Matt. 24:19.

[809:1] We shall, for the sake of brevity, call the Gospels by the names assigned to them in the Canon.

[809:2] There have been many attempts to explain away cholê, and to make it mean either a species of Vermuth, or any bitter substance (Olshausen, Leidensgesch., 168); but the great mass of critics rightly retain its meaning - "gall." So Ewald, Meyer, Bleek, Strauss, Weisse, Schenkel, Volkmar, Alford, Wordsworth, etc.

[809:3] "St. Matthew mentally refers it to Psalm 69:21 oxos (or possibly oinon, which Tischendorf admits from א, B, D, K, L, etc.) meta cholês" (Farrar, Life of Christ, ii., p. 400, note 1).

[809:4] Luke omits the subsequent offer of "vinegar" (probably the Posca of the Roman soldiers) mentioned by the other Evangelists. We presume the reference in 23:36 to be the same as the act described in Matt. 27:34 and Mark 15:23.

[810:1] Matt. 27:45 f.; Mark 15:33 f.; Luke 23:44 f.

[810:2] Cf. Matt. 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19.

[810:3] Westcott, Int. to Study of the Gospels, 4th ed., p. 328, note 10.

[811:1] Matt. 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34.

[811:2] "Certainly an interpolation" (Westcott, Int. to Study of Gospels, p. 325, note 2).

[812:1] "Certainly an interpolation" (Westcott, ib., p. 326, note 5).

[812:2] Matt 27:44; Mark 15:32.

[812:3] It is unnecessary for us to discuss the various ideas of which this episode is supposed to be symbolical.

[813:1] 7. Pantes oi theôrountes me exemyktêrisan me, elelêsan en cheilesin, ekinêsan kephalên, 8. Elpisen epi Kurion, rhysasthô auton, sôsatô auton, hoti thelei auton. Ps. 21, Sept.; cf. verses 4, 5.

[813:2] Matt. 27:55 f.; Mark 15:40; Luke 23:49.

[813:3] Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40.

[813:5] Cf. Matt. 26:31, 56; Mark 14:27.

[814:2] Strauss calls attention to Isaiah 53:12, where, of the servant of Jehovah, it is said that he "made intercession for the transgressors" (Das Leben Jesu, p. 584).

[814:3] Matt. 27:48 f.; Mark 15:36.

[814:4] Exod. 12:22; cf. Levit. 14:4, 6, 49.

[814:5] Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34.

[814:6] Matt. 27:50; Mark 15:37.

[815:4] The Sinaitic Cod., Matt. 27:46 reads: Elôi, Elôi, lema sabachthanei; the Cod. Alex., Hêli, Hêli, k.t.l.; Cod. Vat., elôei, elôei, k.t.l. D has Hêlei, Hêlei, k.t.l. We only note the variations in the first two words, which are those upon which the question turns.

[815:5] Matt. 27:47, 49; cf. Mark 15:35, 36.

[816:1] Matt. 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44.

[816:2] Luke 23:45. This is the reading of the Sinaitic and Vatican (ekleip.) codices. A reads kai eskotisthê ho hêlios.

[816:3] Dr. Farrar says: "It is quite possible that the darkness was a local gloom which hung densely over the guilty city and its immediate neighbourhood" (Life of Christ, 5th ed., ii., p. 414).

[816:4] 13, Olympiad.

[816:5] Chron. ad Olymp., 202.

[816:6] Cf. Virgil., Georg., i. 463-468; Dio Cass., 40:17, 56:29; Plin. H. N., 2:30; Plutarch., V. Rom., § 27, p. 34; Caes., § 69, p. 740 f.; Wetstein, Grotius, ad h. l.

[816:7] Cf. Joel 2:10, 31, 3:15; Amos 8:9; Isaiah 13:10, l. 3, etc.

[817:3] We have elsewhere referred to the wonderful occurrences related by Josephus at the Temple about the time of the siege (Bell. Jud., 6:5, § 3; cf. Apoc., 11:19).

[817:5] So the phenomenon is distinctly called in v. 54.

[817:6] Farrar, Life of Christ, i., Pref., p. viii.

[818:1] Farrar, ib., ii., p. 419. Dean Milman, following the explanation of Michaelis, says: "Even the dreadful earthquake which followed seemed to pass away without appalling the enemies of Jesus. The rending of the veil of the Temple from the top to the bottom, so strikingly significant of the abolition of the local worship, would either be concealed by the priesthood, or attributed as a natural effect to the convulsion of the earth. The same convulsion would displace the stones which covered the ancient tombs and lay open many of the innumerable rock-hewn sepulchres which perforated the hills on every side of the city, and expose the dead to public view. To the awe-struck and depressed minds of the followers of Jesus, no doubt, were confined those visionary appearances of these spirits of their deceased brethren, which are obscurely intimated in the rapid narratives of the Evangelists" (Hist. of Christianity, i., p. 336). It will be observed that, inadvertently, Dr. Milman has put "Evangelists" in the plural.

[818:2] Anaphora Pilati, Thilo, Cod. Apoc. N. T., p. 810 f.; Tischendorf, Evang. Apocr., p. 424.

[818:3] Can the author of the Apocalypse or Paul ever have heard of the raising of Lazarus?

[819:1] Matt. 27:54. This is the reading of the Vatican Cod. and D, with some others. Cod. A, C, E, F, and many others, read Theou uios. The Sinaitic MS. has Al. uios ên tou Theou outos. The rendering of the Authorised Version, "the Son of God," cannot be sustained linguistically, whatever may have been the writer's intention.

[819:2] Mark 15:39. The A. V. has "saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost"; kraxas has certainly high authority (A, C, E, G, H, etc.; D has kraxanta), but the Sin., Vat., and some other codices and versions, omit it, and it is rejected by Tischendorf. We, therefore, take the reading for the moment which leaves the question most open.

[819:3] Meyer, who takes the view, considers that, hearing Jesus expire with so loud a cry, the centurion concluded him to be a "Hero" (Ev. des Mark u. Lukas, 5te Aufl., 203 f.).

[820:3] The Sin., Vat., and other codices insert in Matt. 27:49 the phrase from John 19:34, allos de labôn lonchên, enyxen autou tên pleuran, kai exêlthen hudôr kai aima. Notwithstanding this high authority, it is almost universally acknowledged that the phrase is an interpolation here.

[821:1] Ebrard admits that it was not common (Evang. Gesch., p. 565, anm. 31).

[822:1] Cf. Numbers 9:12; Ps. 34:20.

[822:2] Cf. Ps. 22:16. We need not discuss here the variation in the quotation from Zech. 12:10.

[822:3] Of course we do not here even touch upon the wider question raised by this passage.

[822:4] Cf. John 7:37-39, 3:5, etc.

[823:1] "Oravit Patrem, et exauditus est, et statim ut clamavit ad Patrem, receptus est aut sicut qui potestatem habebat ponendi animam suam, posuit eam quando voluit ipse ... Miraculum enim erat quoniam post tres horas receptus est," etc. (Orig. in Matth. ed. Delarue, 1740, iii., § 140, p. 928).

[823:2] The use of the verb nyssô does not favour the view that the writer intended to express a deep wound.

[823:3] It has likewise been thought that the representation in Mark 15:44, that Pilate marvelled at the rapid death of Jesus, and sent for the centurion to ascertain the fact, was made to meet similar doubts, or at least to give assurance of the reality of the death.

[823:4] According to Luke 23:53, Joseph actually "took down" the body.

[826:1] Schabbath 151:1; Keim, Jesu von Nazara, iii. 522, anm. 1.

[826:2] Kai dôsô tous ponêrous anti tês taphês autou, kai tous plousious anti tou thanatou autou. Is. 53:9.

[828:2] It has been argued that Pilate does not give a Roman guard, but merely permits the chief priests to make use of their own guard. This, however, is opposed to the whole tenor of the story, and the suggestion is generally rejected. Tertullian says: "Tunc Judaei detractum et sepulchro conditum magna etiam militaris custodiae diligentia circumsederunt" (Apol., § 21).

[828:4] Olshausen, to obviate the difficulty of supposing that the Sanhedrin did all this, supposes that Caiaphas the high priest may have been the principal agent (Bibl. Comm., ii. 2, p. 190 f.).

Return to Pt 6, Ch 2      Contents
HTML © 2002 -