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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/488

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

he was quite right in this conviction; but while he chooses the one alternative, I choose the other; as he rejects Protestantism on the ground of its incompatibility with history, so, a fortiori, I conceive that Romanism ought to be rejected, and that an impartial consideration of the evidence must refuse the authority of Jesus to anything more than the Kazarenism of James and Peter and John. And let it not be supposed that this is a mere "infidel" perversion of the facts. No one has more openly and clearly admitted the possibility that they may be fairly interpreted in this way than Dr. Newman. If, he says, there are texts which seem to show that Jesus contemplated the evangelization of the heathen:

. . . Did not the apostles hear our Lord? and what was their impression from what they heard? Is it not certain that the apostles did not gather this truth from his teaching? ("Tract 85," p. 63.) He said, "Preach the gospel to every creature." These words need have only meant "Bring all men to Christianity through Judaism." Make them Jews, that they may enjoy Christ's privileges which are lodged in Judaism; teach them those rites and ceremonies, circumcision and the like, which hitherto have been dead ordinances, and now are living; and so the apostles seem to have understood them (Ibid., p. 65).

So far as Nazarenism differentiated itself from contemporary orthodox Judaism, it seems to have tended toward a revival of the ethical and religious spirit of the prophetic age, accompanied by the belief in Jesus as the Messiah, and by various accretions which had grown round Judaism subsequently to the exile. To these belong the doctrines of the resurrection, of the last judgment, of heaven and hell; of the hierarchy of good angels; of Satan and the hierarchy of evil spirits. And there is very strong ground for believing that all these doctrines, at least in the shapes in which they were held by the post-exilic Jews, were derived from Persian and Babylonian[1] sources, and are essentially of heathen origin.

How far Jesus positively sanctioned all these indrainings of circumjacent paganism into Judaism; how far any one has a right to say that the refusal to accept one or other of these doctrines as ascertained verities comes to the same thing as contradicting Jesus, it appears to me not easy to say. But it is hardly less difficult to conceive that he could have distinctly negatived any of them; and, more especially, that demonology which has been accepted by the Christian churches in every age and under all their mutual antagonisms. But, I repeat my conviction that,

  1. Dr. Newman faces this question with his customary ability. "Now, I own, I am not at all solicitous to deny that this doctrine of an apostate angel and his hosts was gained from Babylon; it might still be divine nevertheless. God who made the prophet's ass speak, and thereby instructed the prophet, might instruct his church by means of heathen Babylon" ("Tract 85," p. 83). There seems to be no end to the apologetic burden that Balaam's ass can carry.