THE HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS, BOOK I

TRANSLATOR'S INTRODUCTORY NOTICE

ln the remarkable work known as his Retractations, Augustin makes a brief statement on the subject of this treatise on the Harmony of the Evangelists. The sixteenth Chapter of the second book of that memorable review of his literary career, contains corrections of certain points on which he believed that he had not been sufficiently accurate in these discussions. In the same passage he informs us that this treatise was undertaken during the years in which he was occupied with his great work on the Trinity, and that, breaking in upon the task which had been making gradual progress under his hand, he wrought continuously at this new venture until it was finished. Its composition is assigned to about the year 400 A.D. The date is determined in the following manner: In the first book there is a sentence (§ 27) which appears to indicate that, by the time when Augustin engaged himself with this effort, the destruction of the idols of the old religion was being carried out under express imperial authority. No law of that kind, however, affecting Africa, seems to be found expressed previous to those to which he refers at the close of the eighteenth book of the City of God. There he gives us to understand that such measures were put in force in Carthage, under Gaudentius and Jovius, the associates of the Emperor Honorius, and states that for the space of nearly thirty years from that time the Christian religion made advances large enough to arrest general attention. Before that period, which must have been about the year 399, the idols could not be destroyed, as Augustin elsewhere indicates (Serm. lxii. 11, n. 17), but with the consent of the parties to whom they belonged. These considerations are taken fix the composition of this work to a date not earlier than the close of 399 A.D.

Among Augustin's numerous theological productions, this one takes rank with the most toilsome and exhaustive. We find him expressing himself to that effect now and again, when he has occasion to allude to it. Thus, in the 112th Tractate on John (n. 1), he calls it a laborious piece of literature; and in the 117th Tractate on the same evangelist, he speaks of the themes here dealt with as matters which were discussed with the utmost painstaking.

Its great object is to vindicate the Gospel against the critical assaults of the heathen. Paganism, having tried persecution as its first weapon, and seen it fall, attempted next to discredit the new faith by slandering its doctrine, impeaching its history, and attacking with special persistency the veracity of the Gospel writers. In this it was aided by some of Augustin's heretical antagonists, who endeavoured at times to establish a conspicuous inconsistency between the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian, and at times to prove the several sections of the New Testament to be at variance with each other. Many alleged that the original Gospels had received considerable additions of a spurious character. And it was a favorite method of argumentation, adopted both by heathen and by Manichæan adversaries, to urge that the evangelical historians contradicted each other. Thus, in the present treatise (i. 7), Augustin speaks of this matter of the discrepancies between the Evangelists as the palmary argument wielded by his opponents. Hence, as elsewhere he sought to demonstrate the congruity of the Old Testament with the New, he set himself here to exonerate Christianity from the charge of any defect of harmony, whether in the facts recorded or in the order of their narration, between its four fundamental historical documents.

The plan of the work is laid out in four great divisions. In the first book, he refutes those who asserted that Christ was only the wisest among men, and who aimed at detracting from the authority of the Gospels, by insisting on the absence of any written compositions proceeding from the hand of Christ Himself, and by affirming that the disciples went beyond what had been His own teaching both on the subject of His divinity, and on the duty of abandoning the worship of the gods. in the second, he enters upon a careful examination of Matthew's Gospel, on to the record of the supper, comparing it with Mark, Luke, and John, and exhibiting the perfect harmony subsisting between them. In the third, he demonstrates the same consistency between the four Evangelists, from the account of the supper on to the end. And in the fourth, he subjects to a similar investigation those passages in Mark, Luke, and John, which have no proper parallels in Matthew.

For the discharge of a task like this, Augustin was gifted with much, but he also lacked much. The resources of a noble and penetrating intellect, profound spiritual insight, and reverent love for Scripture, formed high qualifications at his command. But he was deficient in exact scholarship. Thoroughly versed in Latin literature, as is evinced here by the happy notices of Ennius, Cicero, Lucan, and others of its great writers, he knew little Greek, and no Hebrew. He refers more than once in the present treatise to his ignorance of the original language of the Old Testament; and while his knowledge of that of the New was probably not so unserviceable as has often been supposed, instances like that in which he solves the apparent difficulty in the two burdens, mentioned in Gal. vi., without alluding to the distinction between the Greek words, make it sufficiently plain that it was not at least his invariable habit to prosecute these studies with the original in his view. Hence we find him missing many explanations which would at once have suggested themselves, had he not so implicitly followed the imperfect versions of the sacred text.

An analysis of the contents of the work might show much that is of interest to the Biblical critic. Principles elsewhere theoretically enunciated are seen here in their free application. In some respects, this effort is one of a more severely scientific character than is often the case with Augustin. It displays much less digression than is customary with him. The tendency to extravagant allegorizing is also less frequently indulged in, although it does come to the surface at times, as in the notable example of the interpretation of the names Leah and Rachel. His inordinate dependence upon the Septuagint, however, is as broadly marked here as anywhere. As he sometimes indicates an inclination to accept the story of Aristeas, in this composition he almost goes the length of claiming a special inspiration for these translators. On the other hand, in many passages we have the privilege of seeing his resolve to be no uncritical expositor. He pauses often to chronicle varieties of reading, sometimes in the Latin text and sometimes in the Greek. Thus he notices the occurrence of Lebæus for Thaddaeus, of Dalmanutha for Magedan, and the like, and mentions how some codices read woman for maid, n the sentence, The maid is not dead, but sleepeth (Matt. ix. 24).

His principles of harmonizing are ordinarily characterized by simplicity and good sense. In general, he surmounts the difficulty of what may seem at first sight discordant versions of one incident, by supposing different instances of the same circumstances, or repeated utterances of the same words. He holds emphatically by the position, that wherever it is possible to believe two similar incidents to have taken place, no contradiction can legitimately be alleged, although no Evangelist may relate them both together. All merely verbal variations in the records of the same occurrence he regards as matters of too little consequence to create any serious perplexity to the student whose aim is honestly to reach the sense intended. Such narratives as those of the storm upon the lake, the healing of the centurion's servant, and the denials of Peter, furnish good examples of his method, and of the fair and fearless spirit of his inquiry. And however unsuccessful we may now judge some of his endeavours, when we consider the comparative poverty of his materials, and the untrodden field which he essayed to search, we shall not deny to this treatise the merit of grandeur in original conception, and exemplary faithfulness in actual execution.

S.D.F.S.

THE HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS

BOOK I.

THE TREATISE OPENS WITH A SHORT STATEMENT ON THE SUBJECT OF THE AUTHORITY OF THE EVANGELISTS, THEIR NUMBER, THEIR ORDER, AND THE DIFFERENT PLANS OF THEIR NARRATIVES. AUGUSTIN THEN PREPARES FOR THE DISCUSSION OF THE QUESTIONS RELATING TO THEIR HARMONY, BY JOINING ISSUE IN THIS BOOK WITH THOSE WHO RAISE A DIFFICULTY IN THE CIRCUMSTANCE THAT CHRIST HAS LEFT NO WRITING OF HIS OWN, OR WHO FALSELY ALLEGE THAT CERTAIN BOOKS WERE COMPOSED BY HIM ON THE ARTS OF MAGIC. HE ALSO MEETS THE OBJECTIONS OF THOSE WHO, IN OPPOSITION TO THE EVANGELICAL TEACHING, ASSERT THAT THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST AT ONCE ASCRIBED MORE TO THEIR MASTER THAN HE REALLY WAS, WHEN THEY AFFIRMED THAT HE WAS GOD, AND INCULCATED WHAT THEY HAD NOT BEEN INSTRUCTED IN BY HIM, WHEN THEY INTERDICTED THE WORSHIP OF THE GODS. AGAINST THESE ANTAGONISTS HE VINDICATES THE TEACHING OF THE APOSTLES, BY APPEALING TO THE UTTERANCES OF THE PROPHETS, AND BY SHOWING THAT THE GOD OF ISRAEL WAS TO BE THE SOLE OBJECT OF WORSHIP, WHO ALSO, ALTHOUGH HE WAS THE ONLY DEITY TO WHOM ACCEPTANCE WAS DENIED IN FORMER TIMES BY THE ROMANS, AND THAT FOR THE VERY REASON THAT HE PROHIBITED THEM FROM WORSHIPPING OTHER GODS ALONG WITH HIMSELF, HAS NOW IN THE END MADE THE EMPIRE OF ROME SUBJECT TO HIS NAME, AND AMONG ALL NATIONS HAS BROKEN THEIR IDOLS IN PIECES THROUGH THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL, AS HE HAD PROMISED BY HIS PROPHETS THAT THE EVENT SHOULD BE.

CHAP. I.--ON THE AUTHORITY OF THE GOSPELS.

1. IN the entire number of those divine records which are contained in the sacred writings, the gospel deservedly stands pre-eminent. For what the law and the prophets aforetime announced as destined to come to pass, is exhibited in the gospel in its realization(1) and fulfilment. The first preachers of this gospel were the apostles, who beheld our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in person when He was yet present in the flesh. And not only did these(2) men keep in remembrance the words heard from His lips, and the deeds wrought by Him beneath their eyes; but they were also careful, when the duty of preaching the gospel was laid upon them, to make mankind acquainted with those divine and memorable occurrences which took place at a period antecedent to the formation of their own connection with Him in the way of discipleship, which belonged also to the time of His nativity, His infancy, or His youth, and with regard to which they were able to institute exact inquiry and to obtain information, either at His own hand or at the hands of His parents or other parties, on the ground of the most reliable intimations and the most trustworthy testimonies. Certain of them also--namely, Matthew and John--gave to the world, in their respective books, a written account of all those matters which it seemed needful to commit to writing concerning Him.

2. And to preclude the supposition that, in what concerns the apprehension and proclamation of the gospel, it is a matter of any consequence whether the enunciation comes by men who were actual followers of this same Lord here when He manifested Himself in the flesh and had the company of His disciples attendant on Him, or by persons who with due credit received facts with which they became acquainted in a trustworthy manner through the instrumentality of these former, divine providence, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, has taken care that certain of those also who were nothing more than followers of the first apostles should have authority given them not only to preach the gospel, but also to compose an account of it in writing. I refer to Mark and Luke. All those other individuals, however, who have attempted or dared to offer a written record of the acts of the Lord or of the apostles, failed to commend themselves in their own times as men of the character which would induce the Church to yield them its confidence, and to admit their compositions to the canonical authority of the Holy Books. And this was the case not merely because they were persons who could make no rightful claim to have credit given them in their narrations, but also because in a deceitful manner they introduced into their writings certain matters which are condemned at once by the catholic and apostolic rule of faith, and by sound doctrine.(1)

CHAP. II.--ON THE ORDER OF THE EVANGELISTS, AND THE PRINCIPLES ON WHICH THEY WROTE.

3. Now, those four evangelists whose names have gained the most remarkable circulation(2) over the whole world, and whose number has been fixed as four,--it may be for the simple reason that there are four divisions of that world through the universal length of which they, by their number as by a kind of mystical sign, indicated the advancing extension of the Church of Christ,--are believed to have written in the order which follows: first Matthew, then Mark, thirdly Luke, lastly John. Hence, too, [it would appear that] these had one order determined among them with regard to the matters of their personal knowledge and their preaching [of the gospel], but a different order in reference to the task of giving the written narrative. As far, indeed, as concerns the acquisition of their own knowledge and the charge of preaching, those unquestionably came first in order who were actually followers of the Lord when He was present in the flesh, and who heard Him speak and saw Him act; and [with a commission received] from His lips they were despatched to preach the gospel. But as respects the task of composing that record of the gospel which is to be accepted as ordained by divine authority, there were (only) two, belonging to the number of those whom the Lord chose before the passover, that obtained places,--namely, the first place and the last. For the first place in order was held by Matthew, and the last by John. And thus the remaining two, who did not belong to the number referred to, but who at the same time had become followers of the Christ who spoke in these others, were supported on either side by the same, like sons who were to be embraced, and who in this way were set in the midst between these twain.

4. Of these four, it is true, only Matthew is reckoned to have written in the Hebrew language; the others in Greek. And however they may appear to have kept each of them a certain order of narration proper to himself, this certainly is not to be taken as if each individual writer chose to write in ignorance of what his predecessor had done, or left out as matters about which there was no information things which another nevertheless is discovered to have recorded. But the fact is, that just as they received each of them the gift of inspiration, they abstained from adding to their several labours any superfluous conjoint compositions. For Matthew is understood to have taken it in hand to construct the record of the incarnation of the Lord according to the royal lineage, and to give an account of most part of His deeds and words as they stood in relation to this present life of men. Mark follows him closely, and looks like his attendant and epitomizer.(3) For in his narrative he gives nothing in concert with John apart from the others: by himself separately, he has little to record; in conjunction with Luke, as distinguished from the rest, he has still less; but in concord with Matthew, he has a very large number of passages. Much, too, he narrates in words almost numerically and identically the same as those used by Matthew, where the agreement is either with that evangelist alone, or with him in connection with the rest. On the other hand, Luke appears to have occupied himself rather with the priestly lineage and character(4) of the Lord. For although in his own way he carries the descent back to David, what he has followed is not the royal pedigree, but the line of those who were not kings. That genealogy, too, he has brought to a point in Nathan the son of David,(5) which person likewise was no king. It is not thus, however, with Matthew. For in tracing the lineage along through Solomon the king,(6) he has pursued with strict regularity the succession of the other kings; and in enumerating these, he has also conserved that mystical number of which we shall speak hereafter.

CHAP. III.--OF THE FACE THAT MATTHEW, TOGETHER WITH MARK, HAD SPECIALLY IN VIEW THE KINGLY CHARACTER OF CHRIST, WHEREAS LUKE DEALT WITH THE PRIESTLY.

5. For the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the one true King and the one true Priest, the former to rule us, and the latter to make expiation for us, has shown us how His own figure bore these two parts together, which were only separately commended [to notice] among the Fathers.(1) This becomes apparent if (for example) we look to that inscription which was affixed to His cross"King of the Jews:" in connection also with which, and by a secret instinct, Pilate replied, "What I have written, I have written."(2) For it had been said aforetime in the Psalms, "Destroy not the writing of the title."(3) The same becomes evident, so far as the part of priest is concerned, if we have regard to what He has taught us concerning offering and receiving. For thus it is that He sent us beforehand a prophecy(4) respecting Himself, which runs thus, "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedek."(5) And in many other testimonies of the divine Scriptures, Christ appears both as King and as Priest. Hence, also, even David himself, whose son He is, not without good reason, more frequently declared to be than he is said to be Abraham's son, and whom Matthew and Luke have both alike held by,--the one viewing him as the person from whom, through Solomon, His lineage can be traced down, and the other taking him for the person to whom, through Nathan, His genealogy can be carried up,--did represent the part of a priest, although he was patently a king, when he ate the shew-bread. For it was not lawful for any one to eat that, save the priests only.(6) To this it must be added that Luke is the only one who mentions how Mary was discovered by the angel, and how she was related to Elisabeth,(7) who was the wife of Zacharias the priest. And of this Zacharias the same evangelist has recorded the fact, that the woman whom he had for wife was one of the daughters of Aaron, which is to say she belonged to the tribe of the priests.(8)

6. Whereas, then, Matthew had in view the kingly character, and Luke the priestly, they have at the same time both set forth pre-eminently the humanity of Christ: for it was according to His humanity that Christ was made both King and Priest. To Him, too, God gave the throne of His father David, in order that of His kingdom there should be none end.(9) And this was done with the purpose that there might be a mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,(10) to make intercession for us. Luke, on the other hand, had no one connected with him to act as his summarist in the way that Mark was attached to Matthew. And it may be that this is not without a certain solemn significance.(11) For it is the right of kings not to miss the obedient following of attendants; and hence the evangelist, who had taken it in hand to give an account of the kingly character of Christ, had a person attached to him as his associate who was in some fashion to follow in his steps. But inasmuch as it was the priest's wont to enter all alone into the holy of holies, in accordance with that principle, Luke, whose object contemplated the priestly office of Christ, did not have any one to come after him as a confederate, who was meant in some way to serve as an epitomizer of his narrative.(12)

CHAP. IV.--OF THE FACT THAT JOHN UNDERTOOK THE EXPOSITION OF CHRIST'S DIVINITY.

7. These three evangelists, however, were for the most part engaged with those things which Christ did through the vehicle of the flesh of man, and after the temporal fashion.(13) But John, on the other hand, had in view that true divinity of the Lord in which He is the Father's equal, and directed his efforts above all to the setting forth of the divine nature in his Gospel in such a way as he believed to be adequate to men's needs and notions.(14) Therefore he is borne to loftier heights, in which he leaves the other three far behind him; so that, while in them you see men who have their conversation in a certain manner with the man Christ on earth, in him you perceive one who has passed beyond the cloud in which the whole earth is wrapped, and who has reached the liquid heaven from which, with clearest and steadiest mental eye, he is able to look upon God the Word, who was in the beginning with God, and by whom all things were made.(15) And there, too, he can recognise Him who was made flesh in order that He might dwell amongst us;(16) [that Word of whom we say,] that He assumed the flesh, not that He was changed into the flesh. For had not this assumption of the flesh been effected in such a manner as at the same time to conserve the unchangeable Divinity, Such a word as this could never have been spoken,--namely, "I and the Father are one."(1) For surely the Father and the flesh are not one. And the same John is also the only one who has recorded that witness which the Lord gave concerning Himself, when He said: "He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father also;" and, "I am in the Father, and the Father is in me;"(2) "that they may be one, even as we are one;"(3) and, "Whatsoever the Father doeth, these same things doeth the Son likewise."(4) And whatever other statements there may be to the same effect, calculated to betoken, to those who are possessed of right understanding, that divinity of Christ in which He is the Father's equal, of all these we might almost say that we are indebted for their introduction into the Gospel narrative to John alone. For he is like one who has drunk in the secret of His divinity more richly and somehow more familiarly than others, as if he drew it from the very bosom of his Lord on which it was his wont to recline when He sat at meat.(5)

CHAP. V.--CONCERNING THE TWO VIRTUES, OF WHICH JOHN IS CONVERSANT WITH THE CONTEMPLATIVE, THE OTHER EVANGELISTS WITH THE ACTIVE.

8. Moreover, there are two several virtues (or talents) which have been proposed to the mind of man. Of these, the one is the active, and the other the contemplative: the one being that whereby the way is taken, and the other that whereby the goal is reached;(6) the one that by which men labour in order that the heart may be purified to see God, and the other that by which men are disengaged(7) and God is seen. Thus the former of these two virtues is occupied with the precepts for the right exercise of the temporal life, whereas the latter deals with the doctrine of that life which is everlasting. In this way, also, the one operates, the other rests; for the former finds its sphere in the purging of sins, the latter moves in the light(8) of the purged. And thus, again, in this mortal life the one is engaged with the work of a good conversation; while the other subsists rather on faith, and is seen only in the person of the very few, and through the glass darkly, and only in part in a kind of vision of the unchangeable truth.(9) Now these two virtues are understood to be presented emblematically in the instance of the two wives of Jacob. Of these I have discoursed already up to the measure of my ability, and as fully as seemed to be appropriate to my task, (in what I have written) in opposition to Faustus the Manichaean.(10) For Lia, indeed, by interpretation means "labouring,"(11) whereas Rachel signifies "the first principle seen."(12) And by this it is given us to understand, if one will only attend carefully to the matter, that those three evangelists who, with pre-eminent fulness, have handled the account of the Lord's temporal doings and those of His sayings which were meant to bear chiefly upon the moulding of the manners of the present life, were conversant with that active virtue; and that John, on the other hand, who narrates fewer by far of the Lord's doings, but records with greater carefulness and with larger wealth of detail the words which He spoke, and most especially those discourses which were intended to introduce us to the knowledge of the unity of the Trinity and the blessedness of the life eternal, formed his plan and framed his statement with a view to commend the contemplative virtue to our regard.

CHAP. VI.--OF THE FOUR LIVING CREATURES IN THE APOCALYPSE, WHICH HAVE BEEN TAKEN BY SOME IN ONE APPLICATION, AND BY OTHERS IN ANOTHER, AS APT FIGURES OF THE FOUR EVANGELISTS.

9. For these reasons, it also appears to me, that of the various parties who have interpreted the living creatures in the Apocalypse as significant of the four evangelists, those who have taken the lion to point to Matthew, the man to Mark, the calf to Luke, and the eagle to John, have made a more reasonable application of the figures than those who have assigned the man to Matthew, the eagle to Mark, and the lion to John.(13) For, in forming their particular idea of the matter, these latter have chosen to keep in view simply the beginnings of the books, and not the full design of the several evangelists in its completeness, which was the matter that should, above all, have been thoroughly examined. For surely it is with much greater propriety that the one who has brought under our notice most largely the kingly character of Christ, should be taken to be represented by the lion. Thus is it also that we find the lion mentioned in conjunction with the royal tribe itself, in that passage of the Apocalypse where it is said, "The lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed."(1) For in Matthew's narrative the magi are recorded to have come from the east to inquire after the King, and to worship Him whose birth was notified to them by the star. Thus, too, Herod, who himself also was a king, is [said there to be] afraid of the royal child, and to put so many little children to death in order to make sure that the one might be slain.(2) Again, that Luke is intended under the figure of the calf, in reference to the pre-eminent sacrifice made by the priest, has been doubted by neither of the two [sets of interpreters]. For in that Gospel the narrator's account commences with Zacharias the priest. In it mention is also made of the relationship between Mary and Elisabeth.(3) In it, too, it is recorded that the ceremonies proper to the earliest priestly service were attended to in the case of the infant Christ;(4) and a careful examination brings a variety of other matters under our notice in this Gospel, by which it is made apparent that Luke's object was to deal with the part of the priest. In this way it follows further, that Mark, who has set himself neither to give an account of the kingly lineage, nor to expound anything distinctive of the priesthood, whether on the subject of the relationship or on that of the consecration, and who at the same time comes before us as one who handles the things which the man Christ did, appears to be indicated simply under the figure of the man among those four living creatures. But again, those three living creatures, whether lion, man, or calf, have their course upon this earth; and in like manner, those three evangelists occupy themselves chiefly with the things which Christ did in the flesh, and with the precepts which He delivered to men, who also bear the burden of the flesh, for their instruction in the rightful exercise of this mortal life. Whereas John, on the other hand, soars like an eagle above the clouds of human infirmity, and gazes upon the light of the unchangeable truth with those keenest and steadiest eyes of the heart.(5)

CHAP. VII.--A STATEMENT OF AUGUSTIN'S REASON FOR UNDERTAKING THIS WORK ON THE HARMONY OF THE EVANGELISTS, AND AN EXAMPLE OF THE METHOD IN WHICH HE MEETS THOSE WHO ALLEGE THAT CHRIST WROTE NOTHING HIMSELF, AND THAT HIS DISCIPLES MADE AN UNWARRANTED AFFIRMATION IN PROCLAIMING HIM TO BE GOD.

10. Those sacred chariots of the Lord,(6) however, in which He is borne throughout the earth and brings the peoples under His easy yoke and His light burden, are assailed with calumnious charges by certain persons who, in impious vanity or in ignorant temerity, think to rob of their credit as veracious historians those teachers by whose instrumentality the Christian religion has been disseminated all the world over, and through whose efforts it has yielded fruits so plentiful that unbelievers now scarcely dare so much as to mutter their slanders in private among themselves, kept in check by the faith of the Gentiles and by the devotion of all the peoples. Nevertheless, inasmuch as they still strive by their calumnious disputations to keep some from making themselves acquainted with the faith, and thus prevent them from becoming believers, while they also endeavour to the utmost of their power to excite agitations among others who have already attained to belief, and thereby give them trouble; and further, as there are some brethren who, without detriment to their own faith, have a desire to ascertain what answer can be given to such questions, either for the advantage of their own knowledge or for the purpose of refuting the vain utterances of their enemies, with the inspiration and help of the Lord our God (and would that it might prove profitable for the salvation of such men), we have undertaken in this work to demonstrate the errors or the rashness of those who deem themselves able to prefer charges, the subtilty of which is at least sufficiently observable, against those four different books of the gospel which have been written by these four several evangelists. And in order to carry out this design to a successful conclusion, we must prove that the writers in question do not stand in any antagonism to each other. For those adversaries are in the habit of adducing this as the palmary(7) allegation in all their vain objections, namely, that the evangelists are not in harmony with each other.

11. But we must first discuss a matter which is apt to present a difficulty to the minds of some. I refer to the question why the Lord has written nothing Himself, and why He has thus left us to the necessity of accepting the testimony of other persons who have prepared records of His history. For this is what those parties--the a pagans more than any(1)--allege when they lack boldness enough to impeach or blaspheme the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and when they allow Him--only as a man, however--to have been possessed of the most distinguished wisdom. In making that admission, they at the same time assert that the disciples claimed more for their Master than He really was; so much more indeed that they even called Him the Son of God, and the Word of God, by whom all things were made, and affirmed that He and God are one. And in the same way they dispose of all other kindred passages in the epistles of the apostles, in the light of which we have been taught that He is to be worshipped as one God with the Father. For they are of opinion that He is certainly to be honoured as the wisest of men; but they deny that He is to be worshipped as God.

12. Wherefore, when they put the question why He has not written in His own person, it would seem as if they were prepared to believe regarding Him whatever He might have written concerning Himself, but not what others may have given the world to know with respect to His life, according to the measure of their own judgment. Well, I ask them in turn why, in the case of certain of the noblest of their own philosophers, they have accepted the statements which their disciples left in the records they have composed, while these sages themselves have given us no written accounts of their own lives? For Pythagoras, than whom Greece in those days(2) did not possess any more illustrious personage in the sphere of that contemplative virtue, is believed to have written absolutely nothing, whether on the subject of his own personal history or on any other theme whatsoever. And as to Socrates, to whom, on the other hand, they have adjudged a position of supremacy above all others in that active virtue by which the moral life is trained, so that they do not hesitate also to aver that he was even pronounced to be the wisest of men by the testimony of their deity Apollo,--it is indeed true that he handled the fables of AEsop in some few short verses, and thus made use of words and numbers of his own in the task of rendering the themes of another. But this was all. And so far was he from having the desire to write anything himself, that he declared that he had done even so much only because he was constrained by the imperial will of his demon, as Plato, the noblest of all his disciples, tells us. That was a work, also, in which he sought to set forth in fair form not so much his own thoughts, as rather the ideas of another. What reasonable ground, therefore, have they for believing, with regard to those sages, all that their disciples have committed to record in respect of their history, while at the same time they refuse to credit in the case of Christ what His disciples have written on the subject of His life? And all the more may we thus argue, when we see how they admit that all other men have been excelled by Him in the matter of wisdom, although they decline to acknowledge Him to be God. Is it, indeed, the case that those persons whom they do not hesitate to allow to have been by far His inferiors, have had the faculty of making disciples who can be trusted in all that concerns the narrative of their careers, and that He failed in that capacity? But if that is a most absurd statement to venture upon, then in all that belongs to the history of that Person to whom they grant the honour of wisdom, they ought to believe not merely what suits their own notions, but what they read in the narratives of those who learned from this sage Himself those various facts which they have left on record on the subject of His life.

CHAP. VIII.--OF THE QUESTION WHY, IF CHRIST IS BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN THE WISEST OF MEN ON THE TESTIMONY OF COMMON NARRATIVE REPORT, HE SHOULD NOT BE BELIEVED TO BE GOD ON THE TESTIMONY OF THE SUPERIOR REPORT OF PREACHING.

13. Besides this, they ought to tell us by what means they have succeeded in acquiring their knowledge of this fact that He was the wisest of men, or how it has had the opportunity of reaching their ears. If they have been made acquainted with it simply by current report, then is it the case that common report forms a more trustworthy informant(3) on the subject of His history than those disciples of His who, as they have gone and preached of Him, have disseminated the same report like a penetrating savour throughout the whole world?(4) In fine, they ought to prefer the one kind of report to the other, and believe that account of His life which is the superior of the two. For this report,(5) indeed, which is spread abroad with a wonderful clearness from that Church catholic(6) at whose extension through the whole world those persons are so astonished, prevails in an incomparable fashion over the unsubstantial run, ours with which men like them occupy themselves. This report, furthermore, which carries with it such weight and such currency,(7) that in dread of it they can only mutter their anxious and feeble snatches of paltry objections within their own breasts, as if they were more afraid now of being heard than wishful to receive credit, proclaims Christ to be the only-begotten Son of God, and Himself God,(1) by whom all things were made. If, therefore, they choose report as their witness, why does not their choice fix on this special report, which is so pre-eminently lustrous in its remarkable definiteness? And if they desire the evidence of writings, why do they not take those evangelical writings which excel all others in their commanding authority? On our side, indeed, we accept those statements about their deities which are offered at once in their most ancient writings and by most current report. But if these deities are to be considered proper objects for reverence, why then do they make them the subject of laughter in the theatres? And if, on the other hand, they are proper objects for laughter, the occasion for such laughter must be all the greater when they are made the objects of worship in the theatres. It remains for us to look upon those persons as themselves minded to be witnesses concerning Christ, who, by speaking what they know not, divest themselves of the merit of knowing what they speak about. Or if, again, they assert that they are possessed of any books which they can maintain to have been written by Him, they ought to produce them for our inspection. For assuredly those books (if there are such) must be most profitable and most wholesome, seeing they are the productions of one whom they acknowledge to have been the wisest of men. If, however, they are afraid to produce them, it must be because they are of evil tendency; but if the), are evil, then the wisest of men cannot have written them. They acknowledge Christ, however, to be the wisest of men, and consequently Christ cannot have written any such thing.

CHAP. IX.--OF CERTAIN PERSONS WHO PRETEND THAT CHRIST WROTE BOOKS ON THE ARTS OF MAGIC.

14. But, indeed, these persons rise to such a pitch of folly as to allege that the books which they consider to have been written by Him contain the arts by which they think He wrought those miracles, the fame of which has become prevalent in all quarters. And this fancy of theirs betrays what they really love, and what their aims really are. For thus, indeed, they show us how they entertain this opinion that Christ was the wisest of men only for the reason that He possessed the knowledge of I know not what illicit arts, which are justly condemned, not merely by Christian discipline, but even by the administration of earthly government itself. And, in good sooth, if there are people who affirm that they have read books of this nature composed by Christ, then why do they not perform with their own hand some such works as those which so greatly excite their wonder when wrought by Him, by taking advantage of the information which they have derived from these books?

CHAP. X.--OF SOME WHO ARE MAN ENOUGH TO SUPPOSE THAT THE BOOKS WERE INSCRIBED WITH THE NAMES OF PETER AND PAUL.

15. Nay more, as by divine judgment, some of those who either believe, or wish to have it believed, that Christ wrote matter of that description, have even wandered so far into error as to allege that these same books bore on their front, in the form of epistolary superscription, a designation addressed to Peter and Paul. And it is quite possible that either the enemies of the name of Christ, or certain parties who thought that they might impart to this kind of execrable arts the weight of authority drawn from so glorious a name, may have written things of that nature under the name of Christ and the apostles. But in such most deceitful audacity they have been so utterly blinded as simply to have made themselves fitting objects for laughter, even with young people who as yet know Christian literature only in boyish fashion, and rank merely in the grade of readers.

16. For when they made up their minds to represent Christ to have written in such strain as that to His disciples, they bethought themselves of those of His followers who might best be taken for the persons to whom Christ might most readily be believed to have written, as the individuals who had kept by Him on the most familiar terms of friendship. And so Peter and Paul occurred to them, I believe, just because in many places they chanced to see these two apostles represented in pictures as both in company with Him.(2) For Rome, in a specially honourable and solemn manner,(3) commends the merits of Peter and of Paul, for this reason among others, namely, that they suffered [martyrdom] on the same day. Thus to fall most completely into error was the due desert of men who sought for Christ and His apostles not in the holy writings, but on painted walls. Neither is it to be wondered at, that these fiction-limners were misled by the painters.(1) For throughout the whole period during which Christ lived in our mortal flesh in fellowship with His disciples, Paul had never become His disciple. Only after His passion, after His resurrection, after His ascension, after the mission of the Holy Spirit from heaven, after many Jews had been converted and had shown marvellous faith, after the stoning of Stephen the deacon and martyr, and when Paul still bore the name Saul, and was grievously persecuting those who had become believers in Christ, did Christ call that man [by a voice] from heaven, and made him His disciple and apostle.(2) How, then, is it possible that Christ could have written those books which they wish to have it believed that He did write before His death, and which were addressed to Peter and Paul, as those among His disciples who had been most intimate with Him, seeing that up to that date Paul had not yet become a disciple of His at all?

CHAP. XI.--IN OPPOSITION TO THOSE WHO FOOLISHLY IMAGINE THAT CHRIST CONVERTED THE PEOPLE TO HIMSELF BY MAGICAL ARTS.

17. Moreover, let those who madly fancy that it was by the use of magical arts that He was able to do the great things which He did, and that it was by the practice of such rites that He made His name a sacred thing to the peoples who were to be converted to Him, give their attention to this question,--namely, whether by the exercise of magical arts, and before He was born on this earth, He could also have filled with the Holy Spirit those mighty prophets who aforetime declared those very things concerning Him as things destined to come to pass, which we can now read in their accomplishment in the gospel, and which we can see in their present realization in the world. For surely, even if it was by magical arts that He secured worship for Himself, and that, too, after His death, it is not the case that He was a magician before He was born. Nay, for the office of prophesying on the subject of His coming, one nation had been most specially deputed; and the entire administration of that commonwealth was ordained to be a prophecy of this King who was to come, and who was to found a heavenly state(3) drawn out of all nations.

CHAP. XII.--OF THE FACT THAT THE GOD OF THE JEWS, AFTER THE SUBJUGATION OF THAT PEOPLE, WAS STILL NOT ACCEPTED BY THE ROMANS, BECAUSE HIS COMMANDMENT WAS THAT HE ALONE SHOULD BE WORSHIPPED, AND IMAGES DESTROYED.

18. Furthermore, that Hebrew nation, which, as I have said, was commissioned to prophesy of Christ, had no other God but one God, the true God, who made heaven and earth, and all that therein is. Under His displeasure they were ofttimes given into the power of their enemies. And now, indeed, on account of their most heinous sin in putting Christ to death, they have been thoroughly rooted out of Jerusalem itself, which was the capital of their kingdom, and have been made subject to the Roman empire. Now the Romans were in the habit of propitiating 4 the deities of those nations whom they conquered by worshipping these themselves, and they were accustomed to undertake the charge of their sacred rites. But they declined to act on that principle with regard to the God of the Hebrew nation, either when they made their attack or when they reduced the people. I believe that they perceived that, if they admitted the worship of this Deity, whose commandment was that He only should be worshipped, and that images should be destroyed, they would have to put away from them all those objects to which formerly they had undertaken to do religious service, and by the worship of which they believed their empire had grown. But in this the falseness of their demons mightily deceived them. For surely they ought to have apprehended the fact that it is only by the hidden will of the true God, in whose hand resides the supreme power in all things, that the kingdom was given them and has been made to increase, and that their position was not due to the favour of those deities who, if they could have wielded any influence whatever in that matter, would rather have protected their own people from being over-mastered by the Romans, or would have brought the Romans themselves into complete subjection to them.

19. Certainly they cannot possibly affirm that the kind of piety and manners exemplified by them became objects of love and choice on the part of the gods of the nations which they conquered. They will never make such an assertion, if they only recall their own early beginnings, the asylum for abandoned criminals and the fratricide of Romulus. For when Remus and Romulus established their asylum, with the intention that whoever took refuge there, be the crime what it might be with which he stood charged, should enjoy impunity in his deed, they did not promulgate any precepts of penitence for bringing the minds of such wretched men back to a right condition. By this bribe of impunity did they not rather arm the gathered band of fearful fugitives against the states to which they properly belonged, and the laws of which they dreaded? Or when Romulus slew his brother, who had perpetrated no evil against him, is it the case that his mind was bent on the vindication of justice, and not on the acquisition of absolute power? And is it true that the deities did take their delight in manners like these, as if they were themselves enemies to their own states, in so far as they favoured those who were the enemies of these communities? Nay rather, neither did they by deserting them harm the one class, nor did they by passing over to their side in any sense help the other. For they have it not in their power to give kingship or to remove it. But that is done by the one true God, according to His hidden counsel. And it is not His mind to make those necessarily blessed to whom He may have given an earthly kingdom, or to make those necessarily unhappy whom He has deprived of that position. But He makes men blessed or wretched for other reasons and by other means, and either by permission or by actual gift distributes temporal and earthly kingdoms to whomsoever He pleases, and for whatsoever period He chooses, according to the fore-ordained order of the ages.

CHAP. XIII.--OF THE QUESTION WHY GOD SUFFERED THE JEWS TO BE REDUCED TO SUBJECTION.

20. Hence also they cannot meet us fairly with this question: Why, then, did the God of the Hebrews, whom you declare to be the supreme and true God, not only not subdue the Romans under their power, but even fail to secure those Hebrews themselves against subjugation by the Romans? For there were open sins of theirs that went before them, and on account of which the prophets so long time ago predicted that this very thing would overtake them; and above all, the reason lay in the fact, that in their impious fury they put Christ to death, in the commission of which sin they were made blind [to the guilt of their crime] through the deserts of other hidden transgressions. That His sufferings also would be for the benefit of the Gentiles, was foretold by the same prophetic testimony. Nor, in another point of view, did; the fact appear clearer, that the kingdom of that nation, and its temple, and its priesthood, and its sacrificial system, and that mystical unction which is called <greek>kriQma</greek>(1) in Greek, from which the name of Christ takes its evident application, and on account of which that nation was accustomed to speak of its kings as anointed ones,(2) were ordained with the express object of prefiguring Christ, than has the kindred fact become apparent, that after the resurrection of the Christ who was put to death began to be preached unto the believing Gentiles, all those things came to their end, all unrecognised as the circumstance was, whether by the Romans, through whose victory, or by the Jews, through whose subjugation, it was brought about that they did thus reach their conclusion.

CHAP. XIV.--OF THE FACT THAT THE GOD OF THE HEBREWS, ALTHOUGH THE PEOPLE WERE CONQUERED, PROVED HIMSELF TO BE UNCONQUERED, BY OVERTHROWING THE IDOLS,AND BY TURNING ALL THE GENTILES TO HIS OWN SERVICE.

21. Here indeed we have a wonderful fact, which is not remarked by those few pagans who have remained such,--namely, that this God of the Hebrews who was offended by the conquered, and who was also denied acceptance by the conquerors, is now preached and worshipped among all nations. This is that God of Israel of whom the prophet spake so long time since, when he thus addressed the people of God: "And He who brought thee out, the God of Israel, shall be called (the God) of the whole earth."(3) What was thus prophesied has been brought to pass through the name of the Christ, who comes to men in the form of a descendant of that very Israel who was the grandson of Abraham, with whom the race of the Hebrews began.(4) For it was to this Israel also that it was said, "In thy seed shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed."(5) Thus it is shown that the God of Israel, the true God who made heaven and earth, and who administers human affairs justly and mercifully in such wise that neither does justice exclude mercy with Him, nor does mercy hinder justice, was not overcome Himself when His Hebrew people suffered their overthrow, in virtue of His permitting the kingdom and priesthood of that nation to be seized and subverted by the Romans. For now, indeed, by the might of this gospel of Christ, the true King and Priest, the advent of which was prefigured by that kingdom and priesthood, the God of Israel Himself is everywhere destroying the idols of the nations. And, in truth, it was to prevent that destruction that the Romans refused to admit the sacred rites of this God in the way that they admitted those of the gods of the other nations whom they conquered. Thus did He remove both kingdom and priesthood from the prophetic nation, because He who was promised to men through the agency of that people had already come. And by Christ the King He has brought into subjection to His own name that Roman empire by which the said nation was overcome; and by the strength and devotion of Christian faith, He has converted it so as to effect a subversion of those idols, the honour ascribed to which precluded His worship from obtaining entrance.

22. I am of opinion that it was not by means of magical arts that Christ, previous to His birth among men, brought it about that those things which were destined to come to pass in the course of His history, were pre-announced by so many prophets, and prefigured also by the kingdom and priesthood established in a certain nation. For the people who are connected with that now abolished kingdom, and who in the wonderful providence of God are scattered throughout all lands, have indeed remained without any unction from the true King and Priest; in which anointing(1) the import of the name of Christ is plainly discovered. But notwithstanding this, they still retain remnants of some of their observances; while, on the other hand, not even in their state of overthrow and subjugation have they accepted those Roman rites which are connected with the worship of idols. Thus they still keep the prophetic books as the witness of Christ; and in this way in the documents of His enemies we find proof presented(2) of the truth of this Christ who is the subject of prophecy. What, then, do these unhappy men disclose themselves to be, by the unworthy method in which they laud(3) the name of Christ? If anything relating to the practice of magic has been written under His name, while the doctrine of Christ is so vehemently antagonistic to such arts, these men ought rather in the light of this fact to gather some idea of the greatness of that name, by the addition of which even persons who live in opposition to His precepts endeavour to dignify their nefarious practices. For just as, in the course of the diverse errors of men, many persons have set up their varied heresies against the truth under the cover of His name, so the very enemies of Christ

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