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to the Evangelists, and the story of Paulina, related by Josephus, agree in one essential point. Each is said to have communed with a superior being; and this is the circumstance which led the Jewish historian to subjoin the history of Paulina to the history of Christ. What then did he wish his readers to conclude? Evidently this, that the conduct of Paulina is the foundation of the story related of the mother of Jesus; and that the impostors, who pretended to teach his religion in Rome, are the authors of it. This intimation is as clear as can be conveyed by facts, nor could it have been overlooked by modern critics, if they had been aware that Josephus was a believer in Jesus.
The friends and foes of the Gospel in ancient times understood that Josephus, in the above passage, refers the story of our Lord's miraculous birth to Rome, as the place where it first originated. It is of consequence to make good this assertion; and there are facts of a peculiar nature to prove it.
Now, in order to prove this point, in regard to the Jews and other enemies of the Gospel, it is only necessary to shew, that they associated Paulina and Mary together, and that they copied from the very transactions recorded by Josephus, materials to calumniate our Lord, his mother, and his Apostles.
In the tenth century lived a Jew named Josippon, or Joseph Ben Gorion. This man understanding Josephus to be a Christian writer, and being himself a malicious enemy of Christianity, new modelled his works, and gave them to the public as his own productions. In this garbled
edition, the impostor entirely changed or altered all those passages in the genuine works of Josephus, where the Christians and their cause are noticed and defended, under terms borrowed from the Jews. In the room of the paragraph in which Josephus speaks of Christ, Josippon has inserted the following remark: "In the days of Tiberius Cæsar, many impieties were perpetrated not in Judea only; even in Rome the city of royalty, many impieties were perpetrated.*" The impieties here said to have prevailed in Judea and in Rome mean, according to the frequent use of the term, the practices of idolatry and fornication. The author therefore alluded to the doctrines of the divinity, and miraculous birth of Jesus,
* In diebus Tiberii Cæsaris non tantum in Judæa tales factæ sunt stultitiæ, sed et Romæ, et in omnibus terris dominii ejus fecerunt stultitias majores, quam stultissimi ex populis. Referemus hic unam ex stultitiis quæ tunc Romæ factæ fuerunt. The instance he thus gives is the case of Paulina from Josephus. Josippon, p. 272.
The original of Stultitia is ma nabaloth, which properly signifies follies or crimes; and here means the senseless and impure practices of idolatry and fornication, two names often synonymous in the Jewish writings, because of the impurities which always accompanied the pagan rites. See Deut. xxii. 21. Jud. xx. 7-10. Hos. ii. 10-12.
The authors of the Mishna complain in a passage quoted by Lardner, vol. vii. p. 144. that the synagogues were turned into brothel houses. Josippon says expressly that he related the story of Paulina, as a specimen of the impurities which were done in Judea and other parts of the Roman empire. For he thus concludes. Propter ista itaque scripsimus stultitias, quæ factæ sunt in diebus Tiberii, ut ostenderemus talia facta fuisse in diebus ejus per universam terram dominii ejus.
which prevailed if not in Judea, in Rome, and in other places. This allusion is certain: First, because Josippon having mentioned the profanation of the holy city by the images of Cæsar which Pilate had introduced into it, presently adds, that crimes of a similar nature were committed in Judea. The deification and worship of Jesus was assuredly an infringement of the fundamental principles of the Jewish religion; and Josippon endeavours to fix the odium of such a violation on Christ and his Apostles;--Secondly, because Josippon expressly asserts that, similar to the impieties committed in Judea, were committed others in Rome; and he gives for one instance the very story of Paulina recorded in the "Jewish Antiquities"; and to what could the conduct of Paulina, who affected to commune with the God Anubis, be similar in Judea, excepting the case of Mary, supposed to have conceived by the Holy Ghost? Besides, this celebrated woman became, as Josephus represents, through the wicked Jew, a convert to the philosophy of Moses; or as we should say, to the Gospel. She was therefore a nominal Christian, though still devoted to the Egyptian superstition. Josippon, therefore, in complaining of the impiety respecting Paulina, insinuates that similar impieties obtained in Judea, in regard to the mother of Jesus; and it is evident that he considered the two stories as one and the same; for in relating the affair of Paulina, he had the narrative respecting Mary as recorded in Luke before his eyes; having copied some expressions from thence, and blended them with the language of
Josephus.* And here we see the difference between an enlightened, conscientious friend, and a malicious enemy of the truth. Josephus leads his readers to conclude that the tale of our Lord's supernatural birth did not originate with him and his faithful disciples, but with the priests of Isis, in conjunction with an unprincipled Jew at Rome, and thus defends the former from the impiety and falsehood which in justice should be imputed only to the latter. Josippon makes no such distinction; but wishing to load the Gospel with the doctrines of the divinity and miraculous birth of 'Christ, which he knew to be false and foreign to it, he gives the impieties at Rome as specimens of the things done by the Christians in Judea.
A Jewish Tract, entitled Toldoth Jesu, a composition of unexampled folly and malignity, professes to relate the birth and actions of Jesus Christ. The author had read the Jewish Antiquities, and has copied from thence some of the materials of his fiction. In Josephus it is recorded that Helen, Queen of the Adiabenes, became a convert to the Christian doctrine. This very woman is introduced by name into the above
* When Paulina was in the temple, she asked the God, Quis tu es? Respondit, ego Anubis Veni. Ait mulier, Si tu es Deus, quare teneris concupiscentia mulieris? Anubis then adds another woman hath done thus, and brought forth a God like me. The woman believed, and said I am blessed among daughters. Then the woman departed into her own house with great joy, and told her husband all the things which happened in the temple. Compare these words with the words of Mary in Luke i, 28-56.
mentioned tract, and is represented, consistently with the Jewish historian, as defending our Lord against his enemies. The story of Paulina related by the Jewish historian is the foundation of the account, which the unprincipled author of Toldoth Jesu has given of the birth of Christ, though he has used his endeavours to conceal the source of the falsehoods he alleges. According to Josephus, Paulina is married to Saturninus, a man of rank and probity; she was exceedingly beautiful, and Mundus, a Roman soldier of distinction, falls in love with her. Being a woman of strict virtue and honour, she rejects his offer with disdain and Mundus, finding all his arts unavailing, determines to starve himself; but a female slave re-animates his hopes, and procures for him by treachery, the object which he could not obtain by less dishonourable means. Similar things are said of Mary, the mother of Jesus, by
* Even this circumstance, the writer has perverted; and his object was to conceal the origin whence he borrowed his materials. Erat ea regina Helena, conjux supra memorati, Jannæi regis, quæ post mortem mariti imperavit. Vocatur alio nomine, Oleina filiumque habuit Monabazum regem, &c. Though she is here falsely said to have been the wife of Jannæus, her character as a friend to Christ is preserved. When the wise men, meaning the chief priests, who put Jesus to death, said, that he was a magician, the Queen turning to them, said, how can ye presume to say that this man was a magician? Have I not seen him with my eyes performing miracles like the Son of God. And the wise men answered and said, let it not enter the mind of the queen to utter such things for assuredly he is a magician. But the Queen said to the wise men, Depart from my sight, nor ever again allege before me such an accusation. Apud. Wagenseil. p. 11.