John E. Remsberg
[HTML and editing by Cliff Walker, 2000]
The Infancy of Christ
We have seen that the Four Gospels are not authentic, that they are anonymous writings which appeared late in the second century. If their contents seemed credible and their statements harmonized with each other this want of authenticity would invalidate their authority, because the testimony of an unknown witness cannot be accepted as authoritative. On the other hand, if their authenticity could be established, if it could be shown that they were written by the authors claimed, the incredible and contradictory character of their contents would destroy their authority.
As historical documents these books are hardly worthy of credit. The Arabian Nights is almost as worthy of credit as the Four Gospels. In both are to be found accounts of things possible and of things impossible. To believe the impossible is gross superstition; to believe the possible, simply because it is possible, is blind credulity. These books are adduced as the credentials of Christ. A critical analysis of these credentials reveals hundreds of errors. A presentation of these errors will occupy the five succeeding chapters of this work. If it can be shown that they contain errors, however trivial some of them may appear, this refutes the claim of inerrancy and divinity. If it can be shown that they abound with errors, this destroys their credibility as historical documents. Destroy the credibility of the Four Gospels and you destroy all proofs of Christ's divinity -- all proofs of his existence.
When was Jesus born?
Matthew: "In the days of Herod" (ii, 1).
Luke: "When Cyrenius was governor of Syria" (ii, 1-7).
Nearly every biographer gives the date of his subject's birth. Yet not one of the Evangelists gives the date of Jesus' birth. Two, Matthew and Luke, attempt to give the time approximately. But between these two attempts there is a discrepancy of at least ten years; for Herod died 4 B.C., while Cyrenius did not become governor of Syria until 7 A.D.
A reconciliation of these statements is impossible. Matthew clearly states that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod. Luke states that Augustus Caesar issued a decree that the world should be taxed, that "this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria," and that Jesus was born at the time of this taxing.
The following extracts from Josephus, the renowned historian of the race and country to which Jesus belonged, give the date of this taxing and the time that elapsed between the death of Herod and the taxing, and which reckoned backward from this gives the date of Herod's death:
"And now Herod altered his testament upon the alteration of his mind; for he appointed Antipas, to whom he had before left his kingdom, to be tetrarch of Galilee and Berea, and granted the kingdom to Archelaus.... When he had done these things he died" (Antiquities, B. xvii, ch. 8, sec. 1).
"But in the tenth year of Archelaus's government, both his brethren, and the principal men of Judea and Samaria, not being able to bear his barbarous and tyrannical usage of them, accused him before Caesar.... And when he was come [to Rome], Caesar, upon hearing what certain accusers of his had to say, and what reply he could make, both banished him, and appointed Vienna, a city of Gaul, to be the place of his habitation, and took his money away from him" (ibid., ch. 13, sec. 2).
"Archelaus's country was laid to the province of Syria; and Cyrenius, one that had been consul, was sent by Caesar to take account of people's effects in Syria, and to sell the house of Archelaus" (ibid., sec. 5).
"When Cyrenius had now disposed of Archelaus's money, and when the taxings were come to a conclusion, which were made in the thirty-seventh of Caesar's victory over Antony at Actium," etc. (ibid., B. xviii, ch. 2, sec. 1).
The battle of Actium was fought September 2, B.C. 31. The thirty-seventh year from this battle comprehended the time elapsing between September 2, A.D. 6, and September 2, A.D. 7, the mean of which was March 2, A.D. 7. The mean of the tenth year preceding this -- the year in which Herod died -- was September 2, B.C. 4.
It has been suggested by some unacquainted with Roman history that Cyrenius [Quirinus] may have been twice governor of Syria. Cyrenius was but once governor of Syria, and this not until 7 A.D. During the last years of Herod's reign, and during all the years of Archelaus's reign, Sentius Saturninus and Quintilius Varus held this office. Even if Cyrenius had previously held the office the events related by Luke could not have occurred then because Judea prior to 7 A.D. was not a part of Syria.
The second chapter of Luke which narrates the birth and infancy of Jesus, conflicts with the first chapter of this book. In this chapter it is expressly stated that Zacharias, the priest, lived in the time of Herod and, inferentially, that the conceptions of John and Jesus occurred at this time.
Christian chronology, by which events are supposed to be reckoned from the birth of Christ, agrees with neither Matthew nor Luke, but dates from a point nearly intermediate between the two. According to Matthew, Christ was born at least five years before the beginning of the Christian era; according to Luke he was born at least six years after the beginning of the Christian era This is 1907: but according to Matthew Christ was born not later than 1912 years ago; while according to Luke he was born not earlier than 1901 years ago.
At least ten different opinions regarding the year of Christ's birth have been advanced by Christian scholars. Dodwell places it in 6 B.C., Chrysostom 5 B.C., Usher, whose opinion is most commonly received, 4 B.C., Irenaeus 3 B.C., Jerome 2 B.C., Tertullian 1 B.C. Some modern authorities place it in 1 A.D., others in 2 A.D., and still others in 3 A.D.; while those who accept Luke as infallible authority must place it as late as 7 A.D.
It is generally assumed that Jesus was born in the last year of Herod's reign. How long before the close of Herod's reign was he born?
Matthew: At least two years (ii, 1-16).
Matthew says that when the wise men visited Herod he diligently inquired of them the time when the star which announced the birth of Jesus first appeared. When he determined to destroy Jesus and massacred the infants of Bethlehem and the surrounding country, he slew those "from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men," clearly indicating that Jesus was nearly or quite two years old at this time.
In attempting to reconcile Matthew's visit of the wise men to Jesus at Bethlehem with the narrative of Luke, which makes his stay there less than six weeks, it has been assumed that this visit occurred immediately after his birth, whereas, according to Matthew, it did not occur until about two years after his birth.
In what month and on what day of the month was he born?
Not one of his biographers is prepared to tell; primitive Christians did not know; the church has never been able to determine this. A hundred different opinions regarding it have been expressed by Christian scholars. Wagenseil places it in February, Paulius in March, Greswell in April, Lichtenstein in June, Strong in August, Lightfoot in September, and Newcome in October. Clinton says that he was born in the spring, Larchur says that he was born in the fall. Some early Christians believed that it occurred on the 5th of January; others the 19th of April; others still on the 20th of May. The Eastern church believed that he was born on the 7th of January. The church of Rome, in the fourth century, selected the 25th of December on which to celebrate the anniversary of his birth; and this date has been accepted by the greater portion of the Christian world.
What determined the selection of this date?
"There was a double reason for selecting this day. In the first place it had been observed from a hoary antiquity as a heathen festival, following the longest night of the winter solstice, and was called "the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun." It was a fine thought to celebrate on that day the birth of him whom the Gospel called "the light of the world."...The second reason was, that at Rome the days from the 17th to the 23rd of December were devoted to unbridled merrymaking These days were called the Saturnalia.... Now the church was always anxious to meet the heathen, whom she had converted or was beginning to convert, half-way, by allowing them to retain the feasts they were accustomed to, only giving them a Christian dress, or attaching a new and Christian signification to them" (Bible for Learners, vol. m, pp. 66, 67).
Gibbon says: "The Roman Christians, ignorant of the real time of the birth of Jesus, fixed the solemn festival on the 25th of December, the winter solstice when the Pagans annually celebrated the birth of the sun."
What precludes the acceptance of this date?
Luke: At the time of his birth "there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night" (ii, 8).
Shepherds did not abide in the field with their flocks at night in mid-winter. The Rev. Cunningham Geikie, D.D., a leading English orthodox authority on Christ, says:
"One knows how wretched even Rome is in winter and Palestine is much worse during hard weather. Nor is it likely that shepherds would lie out through the night, except during unseasonably fine weather" ("Christmas at Bethlehem," in Deems' Holydays and Holidays, p. 405).
"The nativity of Jesus in December should be given up." -- Dr. Adam Clarke.
In regard to the date of Christ's birth Dr. Farrar says: "It must be admitted that we cannot demonstrate the exact year of the nativity.... As to the day and month of the nativity it is certain that they can never be recovered; they were absolutely unknown to the early fathers, and there is scarcely one month of the year which has not been fixed upon as probable by modern critics."
The inability of Christians to determine the date of Christ's birth is one of the strongest proofs of his nonexistence as a historical character. Were the story of his miraculous birth and marvelous life true the date of his birth would have been preserved and would be today, the best authenticated fact in history.
Where was Jesus born?
Matthew and Luke: In Bethlehem of Judea (Matt. ii, l; Luke ii, 1-7).
Aside from these stories in Matthew and Luke concerning the nativity, which are clearly of later origin than the remaining documents composing the books and which many Christian scholars reject, there is not a word in the Four Gospels to confirm the claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Every statement in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as well as Acts, concerning his nativity, is to the effect that he was born in Nazareth of Galilee. He is never called "Jesus of Bethlehem," but always "Jesus of Nazareth." According to modern usage "Jesus of Nazareth" might merely signify that Nazareth was the place of his residence and not necessarily the place of his birth. But this usage was unknown to the Jews. Had he been born at Bethlehem, he would, according to the Jewish custom, have been called "Jesus of Bethlehem," because the place of birth always determined this distinguishing adjunct, and the fact of his having removed to another place would not have changed it.
Peter (Acts ii, 22; iii, 6), Paul (Acts xxvi, 9), Philip (John i, 45), Cleopas and his companion (Luke xxiv, 19), Pilate (John xix, 19), Judas and the band sent to arrest Jesus (John xviii, 5, 7), the High Priest's maid (Mark xiv, 67), blind Bartimaeus (Mark x, 47), the unclean spirits (Mark i, 24; Luke iv, 34), the multitudes that attended his meetings (Matt. xxi, 11; Luke xviii, 37), all declared him to be a native of Nazareth.
To the foregoing may be added the testimony of Jesus himself. When Paul asked him who he was he answered: "I am Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts xxii, 8).
Many of the Jews rejected Christ because he was born in Galilee and not in Bethlehem. "Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scriptures said, That Christ cometh out of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?" (John vii, 41, 42).
Concerning this subject the Bible for Learners says: "The primitive tradition declared emphatically that Nazareth was the place from which Jesus came. We may still see this distinctly enough in our Gospels. Jesus is constantly called the Nazarene, or Jesus of Nazareth. This was certainly the name by which he was known in his own time; and of course such local names were given to men from the place of their birth, and not from the place in which they lived, which might constantly be changing Nazareth is called in so many words his own, that is his native city, and he himself declares it so" (Vol. III, pp. 39, 40).
That Jesus the man, if such a being existed, was not born at Bethlehem is affirmed by all critics. That he could not have been born at Nazareth is urged by many. Nazareth, it is asserted, did not exist at this time. Christian scholars admit that there is no proof of its existence at the beginning of the Christian era outside of the New Testament. The Encyclopedia Biblica, a leading Christian authority, says: "We cannot perhaps venture to assert positively that there was a city called Nazareth in Jesus' time."
His reputed birth at Bethlehem was in fulfillment of what prophecy?
"And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda; for out of thee shall come a governor that shall rule my people Israel" (Matthew ii, 6).
This is a misquotation of Micah v, 2. The passage as it appears in our version of the Old Testament is itself a mistranslation. Correctly rendered it does not mean that this ruler shall come from Bethlehem, but simply that he shall be a descendant of David whose family belonged to Bethlehem.
Concerning this prophecy it may be said, 1. That Jesus never became governor or ruler of Israel; 2. That the ruler referred to was to be a military leader who should deliver Israel from the Assyrians. "And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into the land ... thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian" (Micah v, 5, 6).
Jesus is called the Son of David. Why?
Matthew and Luke: Because Joseph, who was not his father, but merely his guardian or foster father, was descended from David.
The Jews expected a Messiah. This expectation was realized, it is claimed, in Jesus Christ. His Messianic marks, however, were not discernible and the Jews, for the most part, rejected him. This Messiah must be a son of David. Before Jesus' claims could even be considered his Davidic descent must be established. This Matthew and Luke attempt to do. Each gives what purports to be a genealogy of him. If these genealogies agree they may be false; if they do not agree one must be false.
How many generations were there from David to Jesus?
Matthew: Twenty-eight (i, 6-16).
Luke: Forty-three (iii, 23-31).
Luke makes two more generations from David to Jesus in a period of one thousand years than Matthew does from Abraham to Jesus in a period of two thousand years.
How many generations were there from Abraham to Jesus?
Matthew: "From Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations" -- in all, forty-two generations (i, 17).
Here Matthew contradicts his own record given in the preceding sixteen verses; for, including both Abraham and Jesus, he names but forty-one generations: 1. Abraham, 2. Isaac, 3. Jacob, 4. Judas, 5. Phares, 6. Ezrom, 7. Aram, 8. Aminadab, 9. Naason, 10. Salmon, 11. Booz, 12. Obed, 13. Jesse, 14. David, 15. Solomon, 16. Roboam, 17. Abia, 18. Asa, 19. Josaphat, 20. Joram, 21. Ozias, 22. Joatham, 23. Achaz, 24. Ezekias, 25. Manasses, 26. Amon, 27. Josias, 28. Jechonias, 29. Salathiel, 30. Zorobabel, 31. Abiud, 32. Eliakim, 33. Azor, 34. Sadoc, 35. Achim, 36. Eliud, 37. Eleazer, 38. Matthan, 39. Jacob, 40. Joseph, 41. Jesus Christ.
Does Luke's genealogy agree with the Old Testament?
It does not. Luke gives twenty generations from Adam to Abraham, while Genesis (v, 3-32; xi, 10-26) and Chronicles (1 Ch. i, 1-4; 24-27) each gives but nineteen.
How many generations were there from Abraham to David?
Matthew: "From Abraham to David are fourteen generations" (i, 17).
From Abraham to David are not fourteen, but thirteen generations; for David does not belong to this period. The genealogical table of Matthew naturally and logically comprises three divisions which he recognizes. The first division comprises the generations preceding the establishment of the Kingdom of David, beginning with Abraham; the second comprises the kings of Judah, beginning with David the first and ending with Jechonias the last; the third comprises the generations following the kings of Judah, from the Captivity to Christ.
How many generations were there from David to the Captivity?
Matthew: "From David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations" (i, 17).
In order to obtain a uniformity of numbers -- three periods of double seven (seven was the sacred number of the Jews) each -- Matthew purposely falsifies the records of the Old Testament. A reference to the Davidic genealogy (1 Chronicles iii) shows that he omits the generations of Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, and Jehoiakim, four Jewish kings, lineal descendants of David, whose combined reigns amount to over eighty years.
The first three omissions are thus explained by Augustine: "Ochozias [Ahaziah], Joash, and Amazias were excluded from the number, because their wickedness was continuous and without interval."
As if the exclusion of their names from a genealogical list would expunge their records from history and drain their blood from the veins of their descendants. But aside from the absurdity of this explanation, the premises are false. Those whose names are excluded from the list were not men whose "wickedness was continuous and without interval," while some whose names are not excluded were. Ahaziah reigned but one year. Joash reigned forty years and both Kings and Chronicles affirm that "He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord" (2 Kings xii, 2; 2 Chron. xxiv, 2). Amaziah reigned twenty-nine years, and he, too, "did that which was right in the sight of the Lord" (2 Kings xiv, 3). On the other hand, Rehoboam, Joram and Jechonias, whose names are retained in Matthew's table, are represented as monsters of wickedness.
Name the generations from David to the Captivity.
How many generations were there from the Captivity to Christ?
Matthew: "From the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations" (i, 17).
Matthew is again guilty of deception. A reference to his table shows that there were but thirteen generations. In order to carry out his numerical system of fourteen generations to each period he counts the generation of Jechonias in this period which he has already counted in the preceding period; thus performing the mathematical feat of dividing 27 by 2 and obtaining 14 for a quotient.
Had Matthew given a true summary of this genealogy, assuming the generations from the close of the Old Testament record to Christ to be correct, instead of these periods of double seven each, we would have the following: "So all the generations from Abraham to David are thirteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are nineteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are thirteen generations."
Name the generations from the Captivity to Christ.
(Here the genealogy of
According to the accepted chronology, what was the average age of each generation from David to Jesus?
Luke: Twenty-five years.
Matthew: Forty years.
What was the average age from David to the Captivity?
Matthew: Thirty-seven years.
According to Chronicles the average age of the same line for the same period was but twenty-six years.
What was the average age from the Captivity to Jesus?
Luke: Twenty-eight years.
Matthew: Fifty years.
While the average age from David to the Captivity by way of Solomon was but twenty-six years the average age from the Captivity to Jesus by the same line, according to Matthew, was fifty years. This proves the falsity of Matthew's genealogy from the Captivity to Jesus.
What was the average length of each generation from Abraham to David?
Matthew and Luke: Seventy years.
Seventy years is said to constitute the natural life of man. According to these Evangelists Christ's Pre Davidic ancestors only reached maturity at seventy. How slow was man's development then -- a babe in his mother's arms at twenty; a playful child at forty; at sixty an ardent youth wooing a blushing maiden of half a hundred years; at three score years and ten a fond young father rejoicing at the birth of his first-born!
What was the average length of each generation from Adam to Abraham?
Luke: One hundred years.
How many generations were there from Adam to Abraham?
Luke: Twenty (iii, 34-38).
Luke makes less than half as many generations from Adam to Abraham in a period of two thousand years as he does from David to Jesus in a period of one thousand years.
How many generations were there between Rachab, the mother of Booz, and David?
Matthew: Three -- Booz, Obed, and Jesse (i, 5, 6).
Rachab lived at Jericho when it was taken by the Israelites. Jericho was taken in 1451 B.C., the year that Moses died. David was born in 1085 B.C. -- nearly four centuries later.
Assuming the generations following the Captivity in Matthew and Chronicles to run parallel, how many generations were there between the last generation named in Chronicles and Jesus?
Yet Chronicles was written, it is claimed, from 458 to 604 years before Christ.
"If the Chronicles were written by Ezra, the date of their composition was not far from B.C. 458, the year of the return from the Captivity. If by Daniel, the earlier period of from 604 to 534 must be adopted." -- Rev. Dr. Hitchcock.
Name the first ten ancestors of Jesus.
Luke: Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Maleleel, Jared, Enoch,
Mathusala, Lamech, Noe (iii, 36-38).
Archeological researches have shown these to be ten Babylonian kings.*
*[Based on current research, this statement is now incorrect -- ed.]
Who was Sala?
Luke: "Sala, which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad" (iii, 35, 36).
"And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years and begat Salah"(Genesis xi, 12).
According to Luke Sala was the grand-son of Arphaxad; according to Genesis he was the son of Arphaxad.
Who begat Ozias?
Matthew: "Joram begat Ozias" i, 8).
"Ahaziah his [Joram's] son, Joash his son, Amaziah his son, Azariah [Ozias] his son" (1 Chronicles iii, 11, 12).
According to the New Testament Ozias was the son of Joram; according to the Old Testament he was the great great-grandson of Joram.
Who was Josiah's successor?
Matthew: Jechonias (i, 11).
"Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz, the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father's stead" (2 Chronicles xxxvi, 1).
"For thus saith the Lord touching Shallum, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, which reigned instead of Josiah, his father" (Jeremiah xxii, 11).
"And Pharaoh-nechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah, his father, and turned his name to Jehoiakim" (2 Kings 34).
According to Matthew, Josiah's successor was Jechonias; according to Chronicles, Jehoahaz; according to Jeremiah, Shallum; according to Kings, Jehoiakim.
Who was the father of Jechonias?
Matthew: "Josias begat Jechonias" (i, 11).
Josias was not the father but the grandfather of Jechonias. "And the sons of Josiah were,...the second Jehoiakim.... And the sons of Jehoiakim: Jechoniah, his son" (1Chron. iii, 15, 16).
When did Josias beget Jechonias?
Matthew: "And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away into Babylon" (i, 11).
Josiah became king in 641 B.C. and died in 610 B.C. Jechonias was carried to Babylon in 588 B.C., 22 years after Josiah died.
Did Jechonias have a son?
Matthew: "And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel" (i, 12).
"As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah [Jechonias], the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence.... O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling no more in Judah" (Jeremiah xxii, 24-30).
This curse was pronounced upon Jechonias before he was taken to Babylon. By this divine oath Jesus is precluded from becoming an heir to the throne of David. God swears that Jechonias shall be childless, and that no descendant of his shall ever sit upon the throne. Yet Matthew, in the face of this oath, declares that Jechonias did not remain childless, that he begat a son, Salathiel, the progenitor of Jesus. In attempting to make Jesus an heir to David's throne Matthew makes God a liar and perjurer.
Matthew says that Salathiel was the son of Jechonias. Who does Luke declare him to be?
"The son of Neri" (iii, 27).
Who was the father of Zorobabel?
Matthew: "And Salathiel begat Zorobabel" (i, 12).
Luke: "Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel" (iii, 27).
Here both Evangelists agree -- agree to disagree with Chronicles which says that Zorobabel was the son of Pedaiah, the brother of Salathiel. "And the sons of Pedaiah were Zerubbabel and Shimei" (1 Chron. iii, 19).
Who was the son of Zorobabel?
Matthew: "And Zorobabel begat Abiud" (i, 13).
Luke: "Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel" (iii, 27).
Each contradicts the other, and both contradict the Old Testament (I Chron. iii, 19, 20).
Who was the father of Joseph?
Matthew: "And Jacob begat Joseph" (i, 16).
Luke: "Joseph, which was the son of Heli" (iii, 23).
If Jesus was descended from David, the descent was through one of David's sons. Which one?
Matthew: Solomon (i, 6-16).
Luke: Nathan (iii, 23-31).
Luke reaches the same person by way of one brother that Matthew does by way of the other.
Many commentators attempt to reconcile these discordant genealogies by assuming that Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph, while Luke gives the genealogy of Mary. What do the Evangelists themselves declare?
Matthew: "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ," etc. (i, 16).
Luke: "And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli," etc. (iii, 23).
Dr. Geikie, in his Life of Christ (Vol. I, p. 531, note), says: "The genealogies given by both Matthew and Luke seem unquestionably to refer to Joseph."
Regarding this the Rev. Dr. McNaught says: "Let the reader bear in mind how Matthew states that 'Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary,' and how Luke's words are 'Joseph which was the son of Heli,' and then let him say whether it is truthful to allege that these different genealogies belong to different individuals. Is it not plain that each of them professes to trace the lineal descent of one and the same man, Joseph?"
William Rathbone Greg says: "The circumstance that any man could suppose that Matthew when he said, 'Jacob begat Joseph,' or Luke, when he said, 'Joseph was the son of Heli' could refer to the wife of the one, or the daughter-in-law of the other, shows to what desperate stratagems polemical orthodoxy will resort in order to defend an untenable position."
Smiths Bible Dictionary offers the following explanation: "They are both the genealogies of Joseph, i.e., of Jesus Christ, as the reputed and legal son of Joseph and Mary. The genealogy of St. Matthew is Joseph's genealogy as legal successor to the throne of David. St. Luke's is Joseph's private genealogy, exhibiting his real birth, as David's son, and thus showing why he was heir to Solomon's crown. The simple principle that one Evangelist exhibits that genealogy which contained the successive heirs to David's and Solomon's throne, while the other exhibits the paternal stem of him who was the heir, explains all the anomalies of the two pedigrees."
This "simple principle" necessitates three disagreeable postulates. 1. That the lineage of Nathan, who is not the recorded possessor of even one wife, survived, while that of Solomon who had seven hundred wives became extinct. 2. That Joseph was legal successor to the throne of David, when Heli, his father, was not. 3. That the first chapter of Matthew contains more than a score of errors. That little word "begat" is fatal to the above theory. Matthew declares that Jacob begat Joseph. If Jacob begat Joseph, then Jacob, and not Heli, was the father of Joseph. According to Matthew, the royal line descends from David to Joseph unbroken; each heir begetting the succeeding one, thus precluding the possibility of a collateral branch inheriting the throne.
The hypothesis that Jesus was merely the adopted son and legal heir of Joseph and yet fulfilled the Messianic requirements is untenable. Strauss says: "Adoption might indeed suffice to secure to the adopted son the reversion of certain external family rights and inheritances; but such a relationship could in no wise lend a claim to the Messianic dignity, which was attached to the true blood and lineage of David" (Leben Jesu, p. 122).
The Messiah must be a natural and lineal descendant of David, which Peter expressly declares Jesus to be: "God had sworn with an oath to him [David], that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne" (Acts ii, 30).
It is assumed by some that a Levirate marriage had taken place between the parents of Joseph, and that the one genealogy belonged to the natural, the others to the legal father of Joseph. By a Levirate marriage if a man died without heirs his remaining brother married his widow and raised up heirs to him. But in this case the brothers would have the same father, and the genealogies would differ only in the father of Joseph. It is only by a succession of Levirate marriages and juggling of words, which no intelligent critic can seriously entertain, that such a hypothesis can be considered possible, even waiving the Old Testament writers, and the Evangelists themselves, whose language forbids it.
Eusebius advances an explanation characteristic of this ecclesiastical historian and of the early church whose history he professes to record. The Jews, it is said, were divided in their opinions regarding the descent of the Messiah. While some contended that his descent must be through the royal line, others believed that because of the excessive wickedness of the kings the descent would be through another line. Eusebius says: "Matthew gives his opinion, Luke repeats the common opinion of many, not his own.... This last view Luke takes, though conscious that Matthew gives the real truth of the genealogy."
Matthew's genealogy is self-evidently false; while Luke's, according to the admission of the historian of the primitive church, is merely a fabrication of early Christians, designed to influence those who rejected Matthew's genealogy of the Messiah.
If the miraculous conception be true the Davidic descent could only be through Mary. Was Mary descended from David?
"We are wholly ignorant of the name and occupation of St. Mary's parents. She was, like Joseph, of the tribe of Judah, and of the lineage of David (Ps. cxxxii, 11; Luke i, 32; Rom. i, 3)."-Smith's Bible Dictionary.
Three passages are cited in support of this claim:
1. "The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it. Of the fruit of thy body will I sit upon thy throne. If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne forevermore" (Ps. cxxxii, 11, 12).
2. "He shall be great, and shall be called the son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David" (Luke i, 32).
3. "Concerning his son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Rom. i, 3).
The second and third passages do not refer to Mary, the first passage refers neither to Jesus nor Mary. There is no evidence to prove that Mary was descended from David. On the contrary there is evidence to prove that she was not descended from him.
1. "The angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary" (Luke i, 27). Joseph, and not Mary, is declared to be of the house of David.
2. It is stated that Joseph went to Bethlehem "to be taxed with Mary," not because they, but "because he was of the house and lineage of David" (Luke ii, 4, 5).
3. Mary was the cousin of Elizabeth (Luke i, 3), and Elizabeth "was of the daughters of Aaron" (i, 5), i.e., descended from Levi, while the house of David was descended from Judah.
This desperate, yet ineffectual, effort to establish the Davidic descent of Mary is virtually an abandonment of the genealogical tables of Matthew and Luke, and a falling back upon this pitiable argumentum in circulo: Mary was descended from David because the Messiah was to be descended from David, and Jesus was the Messiah because Mary was descended from David.
These genealogies do not give the lineage of Mary who is said to have been his only earthly parent, but the lineage of Joseph who, it is claimed, was not his father. But if Joseph was not the father of Jesus, what is the use of giving his pedigree? If Joseph was not the father of Jesus how does proving that he was descended from David prove that Jesus was descended from David? If these genealogies run through Joseph to Jesus, as stated by Matthew and Luke, then Joseph must have been the father of Jesus; and if he was the father of Jesus the story of the miraculous conception is false.
The Synoptics, as we have seen, are for the most part, mere compilations, made up of preexisting documents. These documents belonged to different ages of the primitive church In the first ages of the church Christians believed that Jesus was simply a man -- the son of Joseph and Mary. The genealogies of Matthew and Luke, which trace his descent from David through Joseph, belonged to this age. The story of the miraculous conception was the product of a later age.
If the dogma of the miraculous conception be true, if God, and not Joseph, was the father of Jesus as taught, these genealogies, being genealogies of Joseph, fail to prove what they are intended to prove, the royal descent of Jesus from David. The genealogies of Matthew and Luke and their accounts of the miraculous conception mutually exclude each other.
Did Jesus believe himself to be descended from David?
Synoptics: He did not (Matt. xxii, 41-46; Mark xii, 35-37; Luke xx, 41-44).
A principal objection to accepting Jesus as the Messiah by the Jews was the fact that he was not descended from David. He tacitly admitted that he was not, and the whole burden of his argument was to convince them that it was not necessary that he should be.
The miraculous conception was in fulfillment of what prophecy?
Matthew: "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son and they shall call his name Emmanuel" (i, 22, 23).
This is esteemed the "Gem of the Prophecies," and may be found in the seventh chapter of Isaiah. The facts are these: Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, had declared war against Ahaz, king of Judah. God assured Ahaz that they should not succeed, but that their own kingdoms should be destroyed by the Assyrians. To convince him of the truth of this he requested Ahaz to demand a sign. "But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.... Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.... Before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings."
In the succeeding chapter the fulfillment of this prophecy is recorded: "And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the Lord to me, Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz. For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus [the capital of Rezin's kingdom] and the spoils of Samaria [the capital of Pekah's kingdom] shall be taken away before the king of Assyria" Rezin and Pekah were overthrown by the Assyrians about 720 B.C.
One of the most convincing proofs of Christ's divinity, with many, is the supposed fact that he was born of a virgin and that his miraculous birth was foretold by a prophet seven hundred years before the event occurred. Now, there is not a passage in the Jewish Scriptures declaring that a child should be born of a virgin. The word translated "virgin" does not mean a virgin in the accepted sense of the term, but simply a young woman, either married or single. The whole passage is a mistranslation. The words rendered "a virgin shall conceive and bear a son" should read, "a young woman is with child and beareth a son." In this so called prophecy there is not the remotest reference to a miraculous conception and a virgin-born child. The Jews themselves did not regard this passage as a Messianic prophecy; neither did they believe that the Messiah was to be born of a virgin.
Next to the preceding the following is most frequently cited as a Messianic prophecy: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,...until Shiloh come" (Genesis xlix, 10).
If Shiloh refers to Christ the prophecy was not fulfilled, for the sceptre did depart from Judah 600 years before Christ came. But Shiloh does not refer to a Messiah, nor to any man. Shiloh was the seat of the national sanctuary before it was removed to Jerusalem. This so-called prophecy, like the preceding, is a mistranslation. The correct reading is as follows: "The preeminence shall not depart from Judah so long as the people resort to Shiloh."
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be declared Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" (Isaiah ix, 6).
Prof. Cheyne, the highest authority on Isaiah, pronounces this a forgery. Every honest Christian scholar must admit this. It is a self-evident forgery. No Jewish writer could have written it. To have declared even the Messiah to be "The mighty God, the everlasting Father" would have been the rankest blasphemy, a crime the punishment of which was death.
These alleged Messianic prophecies are, in their present form, Christian rather than Jewish. Christian translators and exegetists have altered their language and perverted their meaning to make them appear to refer to Christ. The following is an example:
"I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Jeremiah xxiii, 5, 6).
The correct rendering of this passage is as follows:
"I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is the name whereby they shall call themselves: The Eternal is our righteousness."
To make a Messianic prophecy of this passage and give it effect no less than eight pieces of deception were employed by the editors of our Authorized Version:
1. The word "branch" is made to begin with a capital letter.
2. The word "King" also begins with a capital.
3. "The name" is rendered "his name."
4. The pronoun "they," relating to the people of Judah and Israel, is changed to "he."
5. The word "Eternal" is translated "Lord."
6. "The Lord our righteousness" is printed in capitals.
7. In the table of contents, at the head of the chapter, are the words "Christ shall rule and save them."
8. At the top of the page are the words "Christ promised."
Another example of this Messianic prophecy making is the following:
"Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks" (Daniel ix, 25).
The term "week," it is claimed, means a period of seven years, and assumed that by Messiah is meant Christ. Seven weeks and three score and two weeks are sixty-nine weeks, or 483 years, the time that was to elapse from the command to rebuild Jerusalem to the coming of Christ, if the prophecy was fulfilled. The decree of Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple was made 536 B.C. According to the accepted chronology Christ was born 4 B.C. From the decree of Cyrus, then, to the coming of Christ was 532 years instead of 483 years, a period of seven weeks, or forty-nine years, longer than that named by Daniel. Ezra, the priest, went to Jerusalem in 457 B.C. This event, however, had nothing whatever to do with the decree for rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple. It occurred 79 years after the decree was issued, and 58 years after the temple was finished. But a searcher for Messianic prophecies found that from the time of Ezra to the beginning of Christ's ministry was about 483 years, or 69 prophetic weeks; and notwithstanding there was a deficiency of 79 years at one end of the period, and an excess of 30 years at the other, it was declared to fit exactly.
Christian theologians pretend to recognize in the Old Testament two kinds of Messianic prophecies: 1. Specific predictions concerning Christ which were literally fulfilled; 2. Passages in which the writer refers to other persons or events, but which God, without the writer's knowledge, designed as types of Christ. The fallaciousness of the former having been exposed -- it having been shown that there is not a text in the Jewish Scriptures predicting the coming of Christ -- they now rely chiefly upon the latter to support their claims. These "prophecies" are almost limitless; for a firm believer in prophecy can, with a vivid imagination, take almost any passage and point out a fancied resemblance between the thing it refers to and the thing he wants confirmed; apparently oblivious to the fact that the passage is equally applicable to a thousand other things. Had the Mormons accepted Joe Smith as a Messiah instead of a prophet they would have no lack of prophecies to support their claims; and by translating and revising the Scriptures to suit their views, as Christians did, these prophecies would fit him as well as they do the Christ.
What name was to be given the child mentioned in Isaiah's prophecy?
"They shall call his name Emmanuel" (Matthew i, 23).
What name was to be given Mary's son?
"Thou shalt call his name Jesus" (Matt. i, 21). In the naming of the Christian Messiah Isaiah's prophecy was not fulfilled. He was never called Emmanuel, but Jesus.
To whom did the angel announcing the miraculous conception appear?
Matthew: To Joseph (i, 20, 21).
Luke: To Mary (i, 26-38).
"An angel did not appear, first to Mary, and also afterwards to Joseph; he can only have appeared either to the one or to the other. Consequently, it is only the one or the other relation which can be regarded as historical. And here different considerations would conduct to opposite decisions.... Every criticism which might determine the adoption of the one, and the rejection of the other, disappears; and we find ourselves, in reference to both accounts, driven back by necessity to the mythical view." -- Strauss.
For what purpose was the Annunciation made?
Luke: Simply to acquaint Mary with the heavenly decree that she had been chosen to become the mother of the coming Messiah (i, 26-33).
Matthew: To allay the suspicions of Joseph respecting Mary's chastity and prevent him from putting her away (i, 18-20).
Did the Annunciation take place before or after Mary's conception?
Luke: Before (i, 26-31).
Matthew: After (i, 18-20).
Who was declared to be the father of Jesus?
Matthew: The Holy Ghost (i, 18, 20).
With the Jews the Holy Ghost (Spirit) was of feminine gender; with the Greeks, of masculine gender. The belief that the Holy Ghost was the father of Jesus originated, not with the Jewish Christians of Palestine, as claimed, but with the Greek Christians of Alexandria.
What prediction did the angel Gabriel make to Mary concerning Jesus?
"The Lord shall give unto him the throne of his father David" (Luke i, 32).
Respecting this prediction the Rev. Dr. Hooykaas, of Holland, says: "If a messenger from Heaven had really come to bring a divine revelation to Mary, the result must have confirmed his prediction; and since Jesus never fulfilled these expectations it is obvious that the revelation was never made."
When Mary visited Elizabeth what did she do?
Luke: She uttered a hymn of praise (i, 46-55).
Had Mary uttered such a hymn we would suppose that it would have been original and inspired by the Almighty Father of her unborn child. Yet the hymn which Luke puts into her mouth was borrowed from the song of Hannah.
|"My heart rejoiceth in the Lord" (I Sam. ii, 1).||"My spirit hath rejoiced in God" (Luke i, 47).|
|"If thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid" (i, 11).||"For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden" (48).|
|"Talk no more so exceeding proudly" (ii, 3).||"He hath scattered the proud" (51).|
|"The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength (4).||"He hath put down the mighty from their seats and exalted them of low degree" (52).|
|"They that were full hath hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased" (5).||"He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away" (53).|
What decree is said to have been issued by Caesar Augustus immediately preceding the birth of Christ?
Luke: "That all the world should be taxed" (ii, 1).
No such decree was issued by Augustus, nor even one that the Roman world should be taxed. The taxation of different provinces of the empire was made at various times, no general decree ever having been issued and no uniform assessment ever having been attempted by Augustus. An enrollment of Roman citizens for the purpose of taxation was made in Syria in 7 A.D.
Of what king was Joseph a subject when Jesus was born?
Matthew: Of Herod.
If Jesus was born during the reign of Herod, Joseph, whether a resident of Judea or of Galilee, could not have been taxed by Augustus, for neither province was then a part of Syria. Both provinces belonged to Herod's kingdom and Herod's subjects were not taxed by the Roman government.
Of what province was Joseph a resident?
Matthew: Of Judea
Luke: Of Galilee.
If he was a resident of Galilee he could not have been taxed by Augustus, even in the time of Cyrenius, for Galilee was not a Roman province, but an independent state, and had no political connection with Syria
Again, this decree could not have applied to Judea prior to the banishment of Archelaus, ten years after the time of Herod; for Judea did not become a Roman province until that time; and while Archelaus had paid tribute to Rome the assessments of the people were made by him and not by Augustus.
Why was Joseph with his wife obliged to leave Galilee and go to Bethlehem of Judea to be enrolled?
Luke: "Because he was of the house and lineage of David," and Bethlehem was the "city of David" (ii, 4).
Even if he had been subject to taxation there was no law or custom requiring him to leave his own country and go to that of his ancestors to be enrolled. The assessment, according to the Roman custom, was made at the residence of the person taxed. Nothing surpasses in absurdity this story of Luke, that a woman, on the eve of confinement, and the subject of another ruler, was dragged across two provinces to be enrolled for taxation.
In regard to this taxation Dr. Hooykaas says: "But here again we are met by overwhelming difficulties. In itself, the Evangelist's account of the manner in which the census was carried out is entirely incredible. Only fancy the indescribable confusion that would have arisen if every one, through the length and breadth of the land of the Jews, had left his abode to go and enroll himself in the city or village from which his family originally came, even supposing he knew where it was. The census under David was conducted after a very different fashion. But it is still more important to note that the Evangelist falls into the most extraordinary mistakes throughout. In the first place history is silent as to a census of the whole (Roman) world ever having been made at all. In the next place, though Quirinus [Cyrenius] certainly did make such a register in Judea and Samaria, it did not extend to Galilee; so that Joseph's household was not affected by it. Besides it did not take place till ten years after the death of Herod, when his son Archelaus was deposed by the Emperor, and the districts of Judea and Samaria were thrown into a Roman province. Under the reign of Herod nothing of the kind took place, nor was there any occasion for it. Finally, at the time of the birth of Jesus the governor of Syria was not Quirinus, but Quintus Sentius Saturninus" (Bible for Learners, Vol. III, pp. 55, 56).
Was Jesus born in a house or in a stable?
Matthew: "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother" (ii, 11).
Luke: "And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger" (ii, 7).
Nothing can be clearer than that the author of Matthew supposes that Jesus was born in a house. The author of Luke, on the other hand, expressly declares that he was born in a stable. Luke's story concerning the place of Mary's accouchement has been received, while that of Matthew has been ignored.
Christ's birth in a manger and death on the cross are the lodestones that have attracted the sympathies of the world, and kept him on the throne of Christendom; for sentiment rather than reason dominates mankind. Referring to Luke's story, the Bible for Learners says: "Such is the well-known story of the birth of Jesus, one of the sweetest and most deeply significant of all the legends of the Bible. That it is a legend, without even the smallest historical foundation, we must, of course, admit" (Vol. III, p. 54).
Justin Martyr states that Jesus was born in a cave, and this statement Farrar is disposed to accept: "Justin Martyr, the Apologist, who, from his birth at Shechem, was familiar with Palestine, and who lived less than a century after the time of our Lord, places the scene of the nativity in a cave. This is, indeed, the ancient and constant tradition both of the Eastern and the Western churches, and it is one of the few to which, though unrecorded in the Gospel history, we may attach a reasonable probability" (Life of Christ, p.3).
Why did Joseph and his wife take shelter in a stable?
Luke: "Because there was no room for them in the inn" (ii, 7).
Luke states that there was an inn at Bethlehem. There was no inn in the place. Dr. Geikie says: "We must not moreover think of Joseph seeking an inn at Bethlehem, for inns were unknown among the Jews" (Christmas at Bethlehem).
What celestial phenomenon attended Christ's birth?
Matthew: A new star appeared and stood in the heavens above him (ii, 1-9).
Luke: An angelic choir appeared and sang praises to God (ii, 13, 14).
Matthew's story of the star and the Magi, even to the language itself, was borrowed from the writings of the Persians; Luke's story of the celestial visitants was taken from Pagan mythology.
Who visited him after his birth?
Matthew: Wise men from the East (ii, 1-11).
Luke: Shepherds from a neighboring field (ii, 8-20).
Matthew makes no mention of the shepherds' visit; Luke is evidently ignorant of the visit of the wise men.
From where did the wise men come?
Matthew: "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him" (ii, 1, 2).
By the "East" was meant Persia or India, and from one of these countries the Magi are popularly supposed to have come.
Justin Martyr says: "When a star rose in heaven at the time of his birth, as is recorded in the 'Memoirs' of his Apostles, the Magi from Arabia, recognizing the sign by this, came and worshiped him" (Dialogues, cvi).
If they came from Arabia, as this Christian father declares, they came not from the East, but from the South.
What announcement did the angel make to the shepherds?
"For behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" (Luke ii, 10).
According to Luke the visit of the angels is to proclaim to the world the birth of the newborn Messiah. Had the celestial phenomenon reported by this Evangelist really occurred the news of it would have quickly spread over Palestine. Yet the people of Jerusalem, only a few miles away, learn nothing of it; for, according to Matthew, the first intimation that Herod has of Christ's birth, is from the wise men who visit him at a much later period. The inhabitants of Bethlehem themselves are ignorant of it. Could they have discovered to Herod this wonderful babe, or the place where his parents abode while there if they had departed, it would have saved their own children from the wrath of this monarch. But they knew nothing of him.
What effect had the announcement of Christ's birth upon Herod and the people of Jerusalem?
Matthew: "When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him" (ii, 3).
According to Matthew the announcement filled with alarm the entire populace, and the most diligent efforts were made to discover and destroy the babe. In strange contrast to this statement of Matthew is Luke's narrative (ii, 22-27), which declares that Jesus, when forty days old, was brought to Jerusalem and publicly exhibited in Herod's own temple, without exciting any alarm or provoking any hostility.
What did his parents do with him?
Matthew: They fled with him into Egypt (ii, 13, 15).
Luke: They remained with him in Palestine (ii, 22-52).
"All attempts to reconcile these two contradictory statements, seem only elaborate efforts of art." -- Dr. Schleiermacher.
When unable to discover Jesus what did Herod do?
Matthew: "Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under" (ii, 16).
If this statement be true hundreds of innocent babes (the Greek Calendar says fourteen thousand) must have perished, a crime the enormity of which is almost without a parallel in the annals of history. It is strange that Mark, Luke, and John make no mention of this frightful tragedy. Luke's silence is especially significant. It is passing strange that the Roman historians and Rabbinical writers of that age, who wrote of Herod, should be silent regarding it. Josephus devotes nearly forty chapters to the life of Herod. He narrates with much particularity every important event in his life. He detested this monarch and dwells upon his crimes and errors. Yet Josephus knew nothing of this massacre.
In this silence of Josephus Dr. Farrar recognizes a difficulty too damaging to ignore. He says: "Why then, it has been asked, does Josephus make no mention of so infamous an atrocity? Perhaps because it was performed so secretly that he did not even know of it. Perhaps because, in those terrible days, the murder of a score of children, in consequence of a transient suspicion, would have been regarded as an item utterly insignificant in the list of Herod's murders. Perhaps because it was passed over in silence by Nikolaus of Damascus, who, writing in the true spirit of those Hellenizing courtiers, who wanted to make a political Messiah out of a corrupt and blood-stained usurper, magnified all his patron's achievements, and concealed or palliated all his crimes. But the more probable reason is that Josephus, whom, in spite of all the immense literary debt which we owe to him, we can only regard as a renegade and a sycophant, did not choose to make any allusion to facts which were even remotely connected with the life of Christ" (Life of Christ, pp. 22, 23).
A more absurd reason than the first advanced by Farrar it is difficult to conceive. The second, that it was a matter of too little consequence to record, an explanation which other Christian apologists have assigned, is as unreasonable as it is heartless. The silence of Nikolaus, who wrote of Herod after his death, is also significant, and the excuse offered by Farrar that he omitted it because he was the friend of Herod, even if admitted, cannot apply to Josephus, who abhorred the memory of this monarch. The contention that Josephus purposely ignored the existence of Christ because he saw in him a menace to his faith is childish. Jesus Christ, admitting his existence, had made no history to record. His birth was attended by no prodigies, and there was nothing in his advent to excite the fear or envy of a king. Josephus mentions no Herodian massacre at Bethlehem because none occurred. Had Herod slain a single child in the manner stated the fact would be attested by a score of authors whose writings are extant. Herod did not slay one babe. This story is false.
Herod's massacre of the infants of Bethlehem and the escape of Jesus was probably suggested by Kansa's massacre of the infants of Matura and the escape of Krishna Pharaoh's slaughter of the first born in Egypt may also have suggested it.
What was the real cause of Herod's massacre?
Matthew: The visit of the wise men and the disclosures made by them (ii, 1-16).
These wise men, it is claimed, were under divine guidance. In view of this terrible slaughter their visit must be regarded as a divine blunder.
In the massacre of the innocents what prophecy was fulfilled?
Matthew: "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not" (ii, 17, 18).
This so-called prophecy is in Jeremiah xxxi, 15. It was written at the time of the Babylonian captivity and refers to the captive Jews. In the next verse Jeremiah says: "They shall come again from the land of the enemy."
When Herod died what did the Lord command Joseph to do?
"Arise, and take the young child and his mother and go into the land of Israel, for they are dead which sought the young child's life" (Matthew ii, 20)
"And the Lord said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return to Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life" (Exodus iv, 19).
The sojourn of Joseph and Mary with Jesus in Egypt was in fulfillment of what prophecy?
Matthew: That "spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son" (ii, 15).
This may be found in Hosea xi, 1, and clearly refers to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
Jesus was subsequently taken to Nazareth. Why?
Matthew: "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, He shall be called a Nazarene" (ii, 23).
The Bible contains no such prophecy. Fleetwood admits that "the words are not to be found" in "the prophetical writings," and Farrar says, "It is well known that no such passage occurs in any extant prophecy" (Life of Christ, p. 33). The only passage to which the above can refer is Judges xiii, 5. Here the child referred to was not to be called a Nazarene, but a Nazarite, and Matthew knew that "Nazarene" and "Nazarite" were no more synonymous than "Jew" and "priest." A Nazarene was a native of Nazareth; a Nazarite was one consecrated to the service of the Lord. Matthew likewise knew that this Nazarite referred to in Judges was Samson.
Had Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth previous to the birth of Jesus?
Luke: They had.
Matthew: They had not.
"And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem,...to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife.... And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth" (Luke ii, 4, 5, 39).
"When he [Joseph] arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: and was there until the death of Herod.... But when Herod was dead,...he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. And when he heard that Archelaus did reign in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither, notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth" (Matthew ii, 14-23).
According to Luke their home was in Nazareth of Galilee; according to Matthew their home was in Bethlehem of Judea Luke states that they merely visited Bethlehem to be enrolled for taxation and fulfill a certain Messianic prophecy. Matthew states that after the flight into Egypt and the death of Herod they were returning to Judea when fearing Archelaus they turned aside into Galilee to avoid this ruler and fulfill another Messianic prophecy.
How did the parents of Jesus receive the predictions of Simeon concerning him?
Luke: "And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him" (ii, 33).
Why should they marvel at the predictions of Simeon when long before they had been apprised of the same thing by the angel Gabriel?
Does the name "Joseph" belong in the text quoted above?
It does not. The correct reading is: "And his father and his mother were marvelling at the things which were spoken concerning him." It declares Joseph to be the father of Jesus, and as this did not harmonize with the story of the miraculous conception the makers of our version substituted "Joseph" for "father."
What does Luke say regarding the infancy of John and Jesus?
"And the child [John] grew and waxed strong in spirit" (i, 80).
"And the child [Jesus] grew and waxed strong in spirit" (ii, 40).
Between the growth of the man John and the growth of the God Jesus there is, according to the Evangelist, no difference, and the growth of each is identical with that of the demi-god Samson.
What custom did Jesus's parents observe?
Luke: "His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover" (ii, 41).
The preceding verse (40) shows that Luke means every year following the birth of Jesus. In the succeeding verse (42) it is clearly implied that Jesus always accompanied them. It is impossible to reconcile this statement of Luke, who evidently knows nothing of the enmity of Herod and Archelaus, with the statements of Matthew who declares them to have been his mortal enemies.
On one of these occasions where did they find him?
Luke: "They found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions" (ii, 46).
Not until the time of Gamaliel, who lived as late as the middle of the first century, was a child allowed to sit in the presence of the rabbis. He was always required to stand, and those acquainted with the Jewish history of that age know that the rabbis were the most rigid sticklers for ecclesiastical formalities, the slightest breach of which was never tolerated. The author of the third Gospel is familiar with the later, but not with the earlier custom.
What was the medium of communication through which the will of Heaven was revealed to the participants in this drama?
Matthew: A dream (i, 20; ii, 12, 13, 19, 22).
Luke: An angel (i, 11, 26; ii, 9).
In Matthew every message respecting the child Jesus is communicated by means of a dream; in Luke every announcement is made through the agency of an angel. Yet, after all, these Evangelists differ only in terms; for Luke's angels are created out of the same stuff that Matthew's dreams are made of, and the world is fast coming to a realization of the fact that this whole theological structure, founded on sleepers' dreams and angels' tales, is but "The baseless fabric of a vision."