Christianism ("Christianity"), Etc.

But the experts in PALAEOGRAPHY [see 1990] were strongly on the side of Tischendorf. Tregelles [Samuel Prideaux Tregelles 1813 - 1875], the distinguished scholar and Plymouth Brother, declared that a man might as well pretend that the Alexandrian of the Vatican MS. was a modern work as claim to have written the Sinaitic Codex. And the famous Mr. Henry Bradshaw [1831 - 1886 (see: Dict. Nat. Bio., Vol. 22, 251-254 (impressive!))], who with Tregelles had inspected the Codex itself at Tischendorf's house at Leipsic in July, 1862, declared himself, in a letter to the Guardian of 23rd January, 1863, as being "as absolutely certain of the genuineness and antiquity of the Codex Sinaiticus as of his own existence". And Mr. Scrivener [probably, Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener 1813 - 1891] who made the Sinaitic Codex his special study, expressed himself equally strongly against the claim of Simonides.

NEVERTHELESS THESE DOGMATIC [see 1736] ASSURANCES ARE NOT QUITE CONVINCING. Simonides' claim was supported on its first appearance by certain letters in the Guardian purporting to come from Alexandria and signed "Kallinikos Hieromonachos". These letters, inspected at a meeting of the Society of Literature, were thought to be in a handwriting identical with that of Simonides and to be written on paper like that used in Simonides' own letters; the inference being that Simonides had written them himself and sent them to Alexandria to be posted back to England (Parthenon, 14th February, 1863). But this alleged similarity of handwriting was never certified by any expert in handwriting.

And the attempt to throw doubt on the existence of Kallinikos failed as completely as the attempt to dispose in the same way of Benedict. Other Greeks besides Simonides had lax ideas of the value of truth. There was Nicolaides, who had been Archdeacon of Salonica from 1839 to 1853; who had visited Mount Athos five times; and who claimed to know all the MSS. existing there intimately; he wrote to the Parthenon that he not only had never heard of Benedict but that he disbelieved in his existence. Yet one has only to refer to Lampros' Catalogue of the Mount Athos MSS. to find Benedict's name appended to several MSS., and to one as late as 1844 (though Simonides gave 1840 as the year of his death). (See Nos. 5999, 6118, 6194, 6360, 6362, 6393.) The same work attests as conclusively the real existence of Kallinikos. A MS. dated March, 1867, is signed with the hand of Kallinikos who is "also the least of the monks of the monastery of Russico" (i.e., Pantelemon) (No. 638). And there is another MS. at Pantelemon, copied by the hand of Constantine Simonides on 27th March 1841 (6405), and two other copies of the same work by Kallinikos Monachos (6406, 6407), which prove that Kallinikos and Simonides were at Pantelemon at the same time and associated in the same work.

Simonides, who was always more precise in his information about real or feigned persons, declares that this Kallinikos was born in 1802, a Thessalian, named originally Kuriakos; on his admission to the Church he took the name of Kallinikos, and for his bravery in the war of the Greek Revolution he received the surname of Keraunos. Whether this was so or not, Kallinikos was a real person, and his intervention in the controversy with his attestation of having seen Simonides write the Codex cannot be brushed aside as the testimony of a fabulous being.

PAGE 1889

In fact it is upon Kallinikos that the whole question hinges. For Kallinikos is said to have had lithographed at Moscow in 1853 and at Odessa in 1854 certain letters between himself and Simonides an the patriarch Constantius, wherein repeated allusion is made to the Codex prepared by Simonides for the Czar. One of these collections of lithographed letters is called "Autographa" and the other "Spoudaion hupomnema". They are both at the British Museum, presented apparently by Mr. James Young, the eminent antiquary, who received them as a gift from Simonides. But were these letters really lithographed in the years assigned to them in the frontispiece? May they not have been concocted by Simonides in 1863 and then antedated by ten years in order to support his claim? This has never been satisfactorily settled. Mr. John Eliot Hodgkin set himself the task in 1863 of trying to arrive at the truth, and he was informed by a "correspondent of unquestionable reputation at Odessa" that the foreman of certain lithographing works in that city perfectly remembered the printing of the letters at the time alleged. But in the case of Simonides, who was well skilled in lithography, one would be glad of some stronger proof.

As such proof Simonides showed Mr. Hodgkin a letter to himself at Munich from a friend B. Panchalos in London, dated March, 1858, which refers chiefly to these publications by Kallinikos in 1853. A copy of this letter in the handwriting of Simonides is still in the possession of Mr. Hodgkin, with a note by him, to the effect that the original letter was in a peculiar writing and that the postmarks seemed to be real ones. The writer professes to have brought from Odessa to London the letters and some works by Simonides which Kallinikos had lithographed. But Mr. Hodgkin's note bears the date of 21st July, 1863, and it is conceivable that the original letter had been produced at a later date than its apparent one.

But if these lithographed letters really were produced in the fifties, long before Simonides made his claim, and if they prove the truth of his statements concerning his work on the Codex, it is of course possible to maintain that it was not the Sinaitic Codex which he produced, but another. Simonides claimed to have seen his own work, the Codex, at Mount Sinai, when he was there in 1852, and his most important lithographed letters are dated from Mount Sinai in the March and April of 1852. But was Simonides at Mount Sinai at that time? Stewart says, presumably on the authority of Simonides himself, that he went to Mount Athos for the third time in 8th October, 1851, and that he stayed there a whole year, which of course is wholly incompatible with his writing letters from Mount Sinai in the March and April of 1852. But again Stewart may have made a mistake about the dates, and it would be unfair to press his statement too strongly against Simonides.

It is to be regretted that this matter was never cleared up at the time the claim was made. IT CANNOT BE SAID TO HAVE BEEN SETTLED BY THE MERE OPINIONS OF TREGELLES OR BRADSHAW, OR BY THE MORE CRITICAL AND PALAEOGRAPHICAL [see 1990] OBJECTIONS URGED BY MR. SCRIVENER in his Introduction to the Sinaitic Codex (1867). The two former examined the Codex two months before Simonides had made his claim to it as his work, so that they had no reason to examine it with suspicion. And Mr. Scrivener's argument that no mere youth of at most nineteen could in a few months have composed a volume of nearly 4,000,000 uncial letters, though convincing about most youths, is not convincing

PAGE 1890

where that youth was Simonides. On the side of Simonides is his unlimited skill in calligraphy; the very audacity of such a claim if entirely baseless; the remarkable presence in the Codex of a portion of the Shepherd of Hermas, which Simonides was the first scholar ever to have seen in Greek; the very natural allusions to the work in the lithographed letters; the fact that no visitor to the monastery at Mount Sinai before 1844 had ever seen or heard of such a work as belonging to the monks; and the very extraordinary story told by Tischendorf of his discovery and acquisition of the Codex. The question therefore, pending the acquisition of further evidence, must remain among the interesting but unsolved mysteries of literature.

Simonides appears to have left England somewhat hurriedly in 1864, nor is it known what became of him between that date and the year 1867 when he died, or at least is said to have died, at Alexandria (Notes and Queries for 22nd October, 1867, 3rd Series, xii., 339). His literary activity was extraordinary. Besides the works he published in Odessa, in England and in Germany, he wrote many others which were never published. His chief interest was to prove that his method of interpreting Egyptian hieroglyphics was superior to as well as different from that of Champollion and other Egyptologists, and it may be suspected that he was often not above resorting to trickery in support of his theory. His learning was prodigious, but it occasionally failed him, as where he placed the death of Irenaeus [c. 130 - c. 200] in 292 (a full century after the probable or possible date), and where he drew on Demetrius Magnes for information which that writer could by no possibility have supplied. It was from Demetrius (or Dionysius) Magnes that he drew, as from an inexhaustible well, for his extraordinarily minute information about numberless people, many of whom were long posterior in date to their alleged biographer. But Simonides did not always invent or forge or lie; probably these lapses occupied the smaller portion of his activity, and much of his work was honest, laborious and useful. But naturally discrimination in these circumstances was difficult or impossible, and his contemporaries found it the easier course to reject as spurious anything connected with his name. It is probable that scepticism has gone farther than was necessary in this direction, and that literature has lost in consequence some acquisitions that rightfully belong to it. But of all the figures of the nineteenth century that are connected with the shady side of literature, Simonides, with his extensive learning, his knowledge of manuscripts, his miraculous calligraphy, his passionate nature, and above all his claim to the authorship of the Sinaitic Codex, will ever stand out as pre-eminently the first of his order. In literary ability he surpassed all his contemporaries, but unhappily the essential element of truth formed no part of his mental constitution.' [End of: "The Sinaitic Codex."] [59-66]. [See: 1749-1750].

PAGE 1891

'Chapter VII.



The composition of works in support of definite ends, though it long preceded the Christian era, seems to have acquired increased impetus after the introduction of the new religion had supplied new motives for FICTITIOUS WRITING. The contest from the first between different opinions and doctrines led naturally to works composed in defence of the writer's views, and to their ascription to names which might serve to claim attention and to clothe them with credit.

The consequence has been the HOPELESS BEWILDERMENT of critics of a later date who have vainly attempted to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to distinguish between the genuine and spurious works of the early Christian Church.

A final judgment can never be hoped for regarding such productions as the letters attributed to St. Clement, St. Ignatius, or Polycarp, nor is the mystery likely to be solved as to the authorship of the Sibylline Oracles, the Correspondence of St. Paul and Seneca, or those books of the New Testament which Eusebius placed in his category of Contested Scriptures.

When FORGERY became ECCLESIASTICAL, it touched the infinite. The greatness of the interests at stake, the rivalries of doctrines and churches, produced for an insatiable demand A BOUNDLESS SUPPLY OF FALSE DOCUMENTS. False epistles and false martyrdoms entered so widely into the history of the Christian Church as to HAVE RENDERED THAT [CHURCH] HISTORY MAINLY HYPOTHETICAL.

Even into the earliest and most honest attempt at such a history, that of Eusebius in the fourth century, much that is fabulous has found its way. The correspondence between Christ and Agbar, King of Edessa, has long been relegated to the realm of fiction, though accepted as genuine by Eusebius; and it may be suspected that as little credit is due to such an episode as that of the Martyrs of Lyons [see 1798-1800] which he [Eusebius] relates in his fifth book as illustrative of a world-wide persecution under Marcus Aurelius in the year 177. For no writer, pagan or Christian, before him makes the least allusion to such an event, and Eusebius lived about a century and a half after its alleged occurrence. It is incredible that contemporaries like Tertullian (about 150-240), Clement of Alexandria (150-220), Athenagoras, Origen (185-234), or other intermediate writers like Cyprian or Lactantius, all six of whom wrote specifically on the subject of persecutions, should have conspired to make not the smallest allusion to any persecution of the sort, had such a persecution been an historical reality.

PAGE 1892

Tradition has always connected the name of Irenaeus [c. 130 - c. 200], Presbyter of Lyons at the time, with the authorship of this [apparently, "Martyrs of Lyon"] narrative, and the tradition is amply supported by the style of the composition. As he represents the pagans as searching out even the most obscure Christians, it is not evident how so prominent a Christian as himself incurred no danger at all, but remained an uninjured spectator of the persecution, and was suffered to hold free intercourse with the martyrs in prison. But this is only one of the many difficulties. And a writer who could assert, as Irenaeus did, that he himself had often heard persons "speak with tongues [Yes! Glossolalia! History, to Greek religions (before?) (see Encyc. Brit.)]," and that it was a common thing in the church of his day to raise the dead to life again, has no claim to the unlimited belief that has been vouchsafed to him. He was probably one of the earliest composers of those fictitious Martyria [martyrology? (martyria = "Confirming something by referring to one's own experience." (Internet))] which became so favourite a subject with imaginative writers. And there is strong evidence that he [Irenaeus] also wrote the story of the martyrdom of Polycarp and others at Smyrna (for which an equivocal allusion by himself is the only contemporary evidence with the smallest claim to value). Irenaeus has no title to implicit trust when he relates martyrdoms to which no satisfactory date can be assigned, and which conflict at innumerable points with all that is otherwise known of the history of the time.

No denial of the numerous and cruel persecutions of the early Christians which have blackened the pages of history is involved in the proposition that in no other direction did exaggeration and invention become more conspicuous. Such Martyria were the form that PIOUS FICTION took. On the accepted principle that that must be the truth for which men had been willing to die, martyrdoms were regarded as the best proof of soundness of doctrine. Origen's clear statement, that down to his time those who had actually died for the faith were very few and easily numerable (though attempts have been made to reduce its significance), really governs all the cases of martyrdom recorded of the first two centuries.

And AS THE CENTURIES CONTINUED, THESE FICTIONS INCREASED IN VOLUME, till at last we reach that Bollandist collection in sixty-four colossal volumes which it took many generations of Jesuit writers more than 150 years to complete, from the time when John Bollandus [1596 - 1665] began the work: perhaps the most astonishing literary enterprise that the world can show, though certainly as HISTORICALLY WORTHLESS as it is wonderful in execution.' ["126"-129].

PAGE 1893

'....But ecclesiastical forgery never ceased. Dominican writers themselves confess that St. Thomas of Aquinas had been deceived by a forgery when he relied on certain passages of the Greek fathers, more especially of Cyril of Alexandria, to introduce into dogmatic theology the doctrine of the infallibility and absolute power of the Pope; and that St. Thomas, himself deceived, deceived a long succession of subsequent theologians and canonists. And to the same end served many a history of the Church, deliberately falsified. When one considers all that flowed from this systematic fraud, all the struggles between Popes and secular rulers, the depositions of kings and emperors, the excommunications, the inquisitions, indulgences, absolutions, persecutions and burnings, and reflects that all this miserable history was the direct product of a series of forgeries of which the "DONATION OF CONSTANTINE" and the "FALSE DECRETALS ["PAPAL DECREES"] [see 1742-1743]" were not indeed the earliest, but the most important,


But the light of truth penetrated at last even this egregious edifice of fiction. In the fifteenth century criticism effectually pierced the thick mass of deceit, and exposed the spuriousness of the "Decretals," the "Donation," and of much besides. To Cardinal Nicholas de Cusa and Laurentius Valla belongs the honour of first establishing the truth; and remarkable it is that, despite the damaging blows dealt by Valla's treatise at the papal system, he was taken into the service of Nicholas V. after its appearance, and received both from him and his successor, Calixtus III., signal marks of their favour.

Nor in this honourable rivalry must Reginald Pococke, for a brief spell Bishop of Chichester, be forgotten, who about 1449 published that enlightened work against the Lollards, called the Repression of Overmuch Blaming of the Clergy, which with other books of his he was not only compelled to recant but to burn with his own hands at St. Paul's Cross a few years later. The attempt to vindicate the genuineness of the "Decretals" ["papal decrees"] by the Jesuit Torres in 1572 led to its more total discomfiture at the hands of the Calvinist divine David Blondel in 1628. And now it only remains as the greatest monument of successful imposture that the world can show or that the genius of man has ever produced; the strongest chain for the enslavement of the human spirit that the Catholic priestcraft ever succeeded in forging.' [End of Chapter VII.: "Forgery in the Church."] [143-144].

"So true is Dr. Johnson's dictum that patriotism is often the last refuge of a scoundrel [see #3, 91, 307. ("Politics"; "religion")]." [End of Chapter XII.: "A French Forger: Vrain-Denis Lucas."] [214]. Comment:


PAGE 1894

from: Practical Life and The Study of Man, by J. Wilson [Jacob Wilson 1831 - 1914], Ph.D., Author of "Errors of Grammar," "Practical Grammar," "Phrasis: a Treatise on the History and Structure of the Different Languages of the World," "Religion as Seen by the Light of the Nineteenth Century," Etc., Etc., Newark, New York: J. Wilson & Son, Publishers. 1882. [found in a San Diego bookstore (Bountiful Books), and first seen (at the completion of Addition 36), 1/30/02 [see 1644]].

[See (Biography of Jacob Wilson): The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume XVI, 81: "soldier, lawyer, educator and author"; "Nominated for Congress in 1874"; "In 1880 he was a Democratic presidential elector."; "He loved nature, music, art and literature, and his knowledge of science and philosophy made him a

charming and brilliant conversationalist."

Inscription (faded ink): "Compliments of the Author"

"[printed dedication]

His Son,
Jacob Wilson, Jr.,
His Success in Printing
His Devotion to the Art.
This Work
Affectionately Dedicated
His Father, The Author."


The department of shams in this world's affairs is more extensive than even observing persons would believe. THE FONDNESS OF PEOPLE, AND ESPECIALLY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, FOR SHAMS, AND THINGS THAT ARE ABSURD AND ENTIRELY UNBELIEVABLE, IS ABSOLUTELY ASTONISHING. If our ran, in point of intelligence, depended upon what we believe, we might easily pass for a nation of idiots. Our daily walks and our life's doings are full of ridiculous shams....

ONE OF THE FLOURISHING RELIGIONS OF THE DAY IS MORMONISM. IT WAS BUILT UP, AS EVERY ONE KNOWS WHO IS ACQUAINTED WITH ITS RISE AND PROGRESS, UPON FRAUD AND SHAM. Yet it rises, spreads and prospers; every day adds to the strength and durability of the foundations, and to the permanence and importance of the institution which they support. How it [Mormonism] arose, and what was the history and character of the man with whom it originated, is well set forth in the following paragraph taken from the North American Review:

PAGE 1895

Joe Smith [Joseph Smith 1805 - 1844] [see Additions 26, 31, 35: pages 1211-1212, 1408, 1698] was born in Rutland, Vt., about the time that Wingate, the combined forger and religious charlatan, made such a sensation there. He removed, when a youth, to Palmyra, New York, and there Rigdon found him. Smith was full of magnetism, full of warm blood, a hearty, generous fellow--from the description an original, untutored Jim Fisk. After proper training Smith became the prophet, and Rigdon the inspiration behind him, putting cunning words in the mouth of the boor. At last Smith finding how pleasant it was to play prophet, and flattered by the devotion paid him, drew away from the cold Rigdon. For one of his sensual nature, it was but natural to conclude that if celestial plural marriages were good, it was a grievous waste of time to wait for death to sanctify them; that real women were greatly to be preferred to doubtful and unsubstantial ghosts, and that the right thing was to be sealed to those still in the flesh. So he had a revelation; polygamy became a part of the Mormon religion, and Joe Smith a little Mohammed. Followers began to flock rapidly around Smith. Probably without being conscious of the fact, he had made animalism the key-stone in the arch of his creed, and given to his church all the adhesiveness which cements Christian creeds, and in addition all the fascination which, to sensual natures, clings to Mohammedism. Thenceforth the institution thrived until it became so much of a nuisance, and took on attributes of such menace to free government, that in a paroxysm of rage the mob killed Smith [see Addition 26, 1211]. Though his life had been full of irregularities, in the hearts of his followers his death made him a martyred prophet, who had died for his people, and ever since he has been held by them as one to be reverenced next to the Nazarene [Jesus].

That the golden plates were originally deposited in a hill near Palmyra, and were finally given to Smith, who, after much difficulty, deciphered them, and that Smith was a holy man, and was sent by God to thus raise up and direct his people, all this is something that every true Mormon steadfastly believes. But the Mormon is not lacking in intelligence. He is about up to the average in that regard. He believes in his sham, and rejects all other shams. And so it is with all men. They ["men"] all believe in shams, but are very precise about the particular sham which they decide to adopt.

The proudest and most enlightened people on the earth are given to belief in shams and impostures. We recently saw an account in a French journal in regard to two most remarkable relics which were exposed for sale at a curiosity shop in Paris. One was a piece of stuff resembling a dried banana peel, and on the card attached to it an inscription was traceable to the intent that the substance was "a piece of skin of the serpent which tempted mother Eve in Paradise. Adam killed the reptile next day with a spear, of which the trace can yet be seen. Authenticity guaranteed by savants and theologians." The other curiosity is a long black hair, attached to a piece of parchment by some wax. This inscription reads: "Hair of Charles II," known as "the bald king of France." Doubtless some one will be found to purchase even these relics, for they must be genuine. Read the history of the swindling concerns in the cities, and observe how the people catch at the improbable and incredible. Let some one advertise what cannot be done, and most people would believe it from the very miraculousness of the affair. Read the quack medicine certificates. They are generally frauds from beginning to end, and yet they are very entertaining and impressive literature for many people. [see 1991 (relics)].

PAGE 1896

Men are perpetually striving to be what they cannot be, and seeming to be what they are not. If it were possible to weigh sham and honesty by the same standard of power and influence in this world, we do believe the former [sham] would greatly overbalance the latter [honesty] [see 1894]. Every man, even in his daily walks, appears with his face disguised with a mask. Men are constantly pretending to be what they know they are not. It is thus that it happens so often that the unsuspecting creditor is taken in by the too plausible debtor. It is thus that men are deceived in a thousand other ways, and made to repent the confidence they had reposed in the pretensions of others. It is thus that innocent and unsophisticated people come to believe that a man is a whole man, when the fact often is, he is only half or three-quarters of a man--or, perhaps, is no man at all. The devoted student of human nature finally learns that there are wooden men, putty men, men of straw and spurious men. They have all the semblance of true men--nevertheless they are not men in the strict sense of the term--they are not genuine.

Alas! this is an age of sham. It thrives, it grows, it strengthens, it prospers--and all this on a soil where honesty and truthfulness can do little more than gain a bare living. PEOPLE LOVE SHAM, AND THEREFORE PATRONIZE IT. The present as it is, and the future as it should be, seem to afford little real satisfaction to any one. We want to get out of ourselves and away from ourselves; or, as Lord Shaftesbury has it, "A RESTLESSNESS TO HAVE SOMETHING WHICH WE HAVE NOT, AND TO BE SOMETHING WHICH WE ARE NOT, IS THE ROOT OF ALL IMMORALITY."' [49-53]. [End of: "Shams and Shams."].


Does not the world make its own heroes after all? Men are not heroes till the world pronounces them such; in other words, makes them such. It is curious to see what a long time it takes the world to bring out its hero and give him his proper stage dress--sometimes a century after he was born, and sometimes even more. When a man dies, we put him into the ground, and then administer on his effects; and not only on his effects, but on his character and conduct also. The development of his personal history goes on just the same as if he were living, with this difference, that he is no more at hand to speak in his own defense, or correct the false passages that some crazy head, or malicious hand, may put into history. It must never be forgotten that the one that sees things has as much to do with the view that is taken of them, their appearance and effect, as the things have themselves.

IT SHOULD NOT BE FORGOTTEN THAT WHAT IS WRITTEN IS NOT NECESSARILY TRUE, even if said honestly and with the utmost fairness. What the author says is only his view of the matter. He only gives his ideas of the subject, and simply paints the picture as he finds it represented to his eye. To the eye of some one else, it may appear quite different. Many things are to be taken as facts only on condition that other facts are overlooked and forgotten. Bonaparte's crossing the Alps is called the greatest feat of the kind known to history, and yet MacDonald's passage of the Splugen was far greater, far more difficult, and was attended with much greater perils.



Man never has known, and probably never will know, just how much of all that which we believe to be fact, is purely and mathematically true, and how much is, either in whole or in part, merely a product of the imagination. It is really strange to see how much of that which we know to be unqualifiedly and unconditionally true, as, for instance, the laws of health, the rights of individuals, and the like; how much of these, we repeat, we treat as fictitious and imaginary, while other things, such as the creatures of romance, the fancies of poetry, etc., which we know to be false, we treat with the greatest consideration, as being unquestionably real. Indeed, the mind becomes uncertain as to what is fiction and what is not, and hence it happens that most of the leading characters described in books of romance, as Blue Beard, Robin Hood, Robinson Crusoe, Pickwick and Sam Weller, have just as real an existence for us, in our minds, as any of the figures in our most reliable histories. And then there are the people, and the deeds of people, that belong to our poetry. What man is more real for us, or who that ever lived and breathed and acted, was more living and more substantial than Iago, Macbeth, Shylock, Ulysses, Ajax, Romulus, Helen, Paris, Hercules, and a thousand other important characters that we need not mention? If these people never lived, and if they never were flesh and blood, and bone and sinew, like us, who that ever lived, except the few that we see now around us perhaps, were more living and more real than they?

Why, the truest and most reliable book that ever came from the printing press, the Bible, is now doubted by men, and some of its most devoted friends pronounce this portion allegory, that fable, that fiction, and that as simply and unmistakably a falsehood. We are obliged to doubt whether there ever were such folks in the world as Adam, and Noah, and Abraham, and David, and Goliah [Goliath], and Samson, to say nothing of beings so difficult to comprehend as God himself and the Devil. BUT IF THE BIBLE IS NOT TRUE, AND ALL THAT IS IN IT, WHAT BOOK THAT IS A HUNDRED YEARS OLD IS TRUE? What book is founded on better authority, or is written by men who were more truly inspired? What book is supported by such an array of concurring testimony as the Holy Bible? If the Bible, with its accumulated testimony of two thousand years, will not stand criticism, where is the one book that will?

PAGE 1898


Fact furnishes the frame work, the warp, and imagination puts in the woof. It is so, and to a greater or less extent must be so, with everything that was ever written. The hard facts are there, but the dressing up is done by the author. Perhaps, after all, what we believe to be true is only what we imagine to be true. No doubt Herodotus [c. 485 - c. 425 B.C.E.] believed all he wrote, Virgil [70 - 19 B.C.E.] and Homer [8th century B.C.E.] all they wrote, and Josephus [c. 37 - c. 100 C.E.] all he wrote, but WE, IN THIS INCREDULOUS AGE, BELIEVE VERY LITTLE OF ALL THAT THESE MEN WROTE. We doubt very much as to Livy, whether it is part romance and part true, or all romance and none true. So it is with the Cyropedia [see Additions 26, 27: pages 1196, 1201, 1206, 1208; 1260 (Cyropaedia)] of Xenophon [c. 431 - c. 352 B.C.E.], and some of the biographies of Plutarch [c. 46 - c. 120]. Thus we are in a quandary all the time, and we do not see that it makes the slightest difference in reality whether the things reported did happen or did not. It is enough to know that all of them might have happened. It is the principle and the lesson we are after, rather than the absolute fact itself. Sir Robert Walpole [1781 - 1856] said:--"Don't read history, that must be false." Men, generally, are not half as good as they are painted in history, and generally not half so hideous and wicked. It is impossible to tell in such cases how much to believe, when we know not the prejudices, the jealousies, and perhaps the blindness of the author. "All history," as one writer well says, "must be fiction"; and Hume [David Hume 1711 - 1776] was not far from the truth when he exclaimed:--"We are all in the wrong."' [53-54, 56-58].

[End of: "Fictions of History."].

Comment: from memory, University of California, San Francisco, c. 1967: (reportedly) Sir William Osler [1849 - 1919] [see 1954], to a graduating Medical class:

Gentlemen!, I have a confession to make! Half of what we have taught you is in error--and furthermore, we don't know which half!


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