« EdellinenJatka »
A CONCISE VIEW OF THE ARGUMENTS PROVING PHILO AND JOSEPHUS TO BE CHRISTIAN WRITERS.
THAT Philo and Josephus were historians and apologists of Christianity, is a proposition so opposite to the opinion of modern divines, that it might well be regarded, for a time, with indifference or distrust. On full enquiry, however, it will appear, I presume, a fact, and an important fact; and I here subjoin a summary view of the arguments which prove it so, as not an improper introduction to the second volume. 1. These two writers must have classed with the friends or with the enemies of the Gospel, and could not have remained neutral. The claims of Christ, and the doctrine which he taught, humbled the pride, and disappointed the dearest expectations of the Jews; and necessarily made every one his enemy, who was not subdued by evidence to become his friend. Our Lord himself has declared, that he who was not against him, was with him, Mark ix. 40, and as the very existence of the Jewish community was involved in the question, none could have continued in a state, of indifference or neu
trality. If, therefore, Philo and Josephus did not write with favourable views towards Christ and his cause; if they did not wish to support and promote the Gospel of Christ, they must have been actuated with hostile views, they must have been anxious to check and subvert it. From pride or policy, they might not mention Jesus and his followers; but their writings would have abounded with complaints and reproaches, and dark insinuations against them. A passage quoted by Lardner, from the Mishna, (vol. vii. p. 144.) shews the real temper which the early Jewish writers cherished towards the Christians, and the manner in which they opposed them. Here it is said, "that the people degenerated from bad to worse; that slanderers prevailed; that impudence increased; that the supreme empire of the world is overwhelmed with bad opinions, and the synagogue turned into brothel houses." "All these complaints," says the learned and candid Lardner, "as seem to me, refer to the resolution and steadiness of the converts to Christianity from Judaism and Gentilism, who judged for themselves, and admitted the evidences of the truth of the new religion which overpowered their minds. which, therefore, they made an open profession, notwithstanding the sophistry, the entreaties, and the menaces of the world around them; many of whom were their superiors in age, learning, and outward condition. Of all this we have in this passage, as seems to me, a graphical description."
Philo and Josephus have made no complaints of this kind in any part of their voluminous writings. So far, indeed, from reflecting on the Gospel and its votaries, they act the part of advocates and
friends, whenever the occasion calls for their interference. Ananus, the high priest, accused James, and some of his brethren, of transgressing the law, and condemned them to be stoned. This was the accusation brought against the Christians, for teaching that the soul, or essence of the law, is of a spiritual nature. Josephus has related* the condemnation of that Apostle; and what does he say in regard to the sentence passed upon him? He had the highest reverence for the priesthood, being himself by birth a high priest; yet he scruples not to say of Ananus, that he was fierce in his temper, exceedingly daring, and one of those who were cruel in their judicial sentences. On the other hand, with great effect, but with great caution, he holds forth the apostle and his fellow sufferers, as not guilty of the charge brought against them, alleging that the most equitable men of the city, aud those who had the most accurate knowledge of the law, were grievously offended at such proceedings. The men who were thus grievously offended at the condemnation of James, must have had the same views with him of the Jewish law; in other words they must have been believers in Christ. Josephus also clearly expresses his own belief in the same spiritual system, by representing the men who pronounced him innocent, as most competent to decide by their superior knowledge of the law.
2. The writings of Philo appear to me to prove, beyond contradiction, that he was acquainted with the Christian doctrine, and one of
* See Anti. lib. 20. c. 9. 1. Researches, vol. 1. p. 521.
its converts and teachers. "It becomes him," says he, "who is devoted to the Father of the world, to employ as his intercessor his own son, who is most perfect in virtue, in order that he might obtain the forgiveness of his sins, and a supply of the most abundant blessings." Elsewhere he thus writes, " God, the author of divine virtue, was willing to send his Image from heaven to the earth, in compassion on our race, that he might wash away the impurities which fill this life with guilt and misery, and that he might thus secure to us a better inheritance." In these two passages, the Son of God is expressly mentioned-is set forth as most perfect in virtue, or without sin-as the intercessor by whom is obtained the pardon of our sins-as the Image of God, sent from heaven for the purpose of reforming mankind, and thus qualifying them for a divine inheritance. These are the glorious and peculiar doctrines of the Gospel; and Philo expresses the same ideas, nearly in the same words with the apostles of Christ, see particularly 1 John ii. 1. and Heb. i. 1.
Philo, moreover, calls the Son of God the Logos, or the word of God; and in the following passage he virtually asserts the resurrection of the dead by the Son of God: "When a just man is
See Eccles. Resear. p. 125. 138. 152. The original of these passages is there quoted. Philo calls the Logos, the Image of God; and in this place it is clear that he means a person by that word; for he writes, amoλovoaμevov, though qualifying the feminine noun ixova. See vol. ii. p. 669, of his works.