|Faith Strengthened||Chapter 45||Part 1|
I have to set forth the following objection to the Christian religion. If our Christian brethren are sincerely anxious to separate truth from falsehood, they ought to examine the passages of the Old Testament quoted in the gospel, and ascertain whether they are really applicable or not. A brief survey of such topics shows that the quotations in the gospel can never be considered cogent or satisfactory. Whoever reads the statement made by the prophets must at once grant, that they never had it in contemplation to afford any clue or even a preference for the admission of a change or abjuration of the Faith of Israel. Besides this, the authors of the gospel have occasionally garbled and perverted the form as well as the sense of the original text, and have thus based their erroneous opinion on an unstable foundation. Even in matters relating to history, where the fact has no relation to prediction and fulfillment, they have resorted to misrepresentation, which does not argue in favor of the veracity of their faith, or of their sound knowledge of the Scriptures. We shall examine these discrepancies in the Second Part of this work, and will now only make a few cursory remarks on one or two points.
Matthew, in the first chapter, (verse 8) of his book, says, "And Joram begat Ozias." This is not to be found in the Old Testament. In 1 Chronicles 3:11, we read the following genealogy: "Joram his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, Jotham his son." Azariah, father of Jotham, here mentioned, was Uzziah, mentioned elsewhere in our Scripture, consequently the three generations of Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah, are omitted in the Gospel of Matthew. The omission is not caused by any oversight, but must have been intentional, in order to reduce the generations to the like number as those from Abraham to David, and thus to make both series of genealogy appear to consist of fourteen generations. Nor is the enumeration of the third series of fourteen generations during the Babylonian captivity, and coming down to Jesus, anything but a mere invention, in order to lead to the opinion that the three genealogical divisions ending in Jesus, were ordained as a special manifestation from the Almighty. Equally unsound is the tale of Matthew that Jesus was brought forth by a Virgin, in order to fulfill the words of Isaiah 7:14, "Behold, the young woman [according to the vulgate a virgin] shall conceive and shall bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel." What connection with the birth of Jesus has the address made by Isaiah to King Ahaz, in order to remove his fear of the two hostile kings then threatening Jerusalem? What comfort could it possibly have afforded to Ahaz, and how could it have allayed his terror, if the prophet, in proof of his divine mission, had given him a sign which could not and was not to be realized for more than five centuries after the death of the king? A fair examination of the entire passage in Isaiah will be found in chapter 21 of this work. The same discordance between the word of Scripture and its application in the New Testament will be found in referring to the following passage of Matthew 2:14, 15, "And he [Joseph] arose and took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt. And he was there until the death of Herod; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt have I called my son." The prophet alluded to in this portion of the gospel is Hosea, who in reality says (in chapter 11:1, "When Israel was a youth I loved him, and from Egypt I called my son." The fulfillment had not been delayed to the times of Jesus, but had taken place in the days of Moses when the Lord had told him (Exodus 4:22, 23) "And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, thus saith the Lord, Israel is my first-born son;" and again, "Send away my son that he may serve me. What connection between Prophecy and the New Testament can be discovered in the following passage of St. Matthew? (chapter 2:16-18), "And Herod sent forth and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem from two years old and under. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, (chapter 31:15), saying, Rachel is weeping for her children, and would not be comforted because they are not." Whoever reads the complete passage delivered by Jeremiah, will soon perceive that he speaks of the captives, who, he says, ibid verse 16, "Shall return from the land of the enemy." And subsequently the prophet continues to say, (ibid verse 17), "And the children shall return to their boundary." It is thus quite evident, that Jeremiah is representing the lamentations of an afflicted mother, who alludes to the children who are living in captivity, and not those who have been massacred by a tyrant: the ten tribes being called by the name of Ephraim the descendants of Rachel; who was represented as a becoming emblem of maternal grief for her unhappy children. Moreover, if the prophet had intended to point out the affliction created by the massacre of the children in Bethlehem Judah, he would have selected Leah as the representative of the wounded spirit of a bereaved mother; for she and not Rachel was the female ancestor of the inhabitants of Bethlehem. Various other remarks on this passage have already been made in chapter 28 of this work.
In the same second chapter of Matthew, verse 23, we read, "And he came and dwelt in the city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a ĎNazarene.í" It is quite certain that the writings of our prophets afford not the slightest authority in support of this quotation.
In Matthew 5:43, Jesus is made to say, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy." Now we maintain that the additional injunction of hating the enemy flowed from the inventive mind of the author of the Gospel, and that it is not to be found in any part of the Jewish law. What we find in our law concerning the treatment of our enemy, is conveyed in totally different terms. See Exodus 23:4-5, "If thou meet thine enemyís ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou seest the ass of him that hateth thee, lying under his burden and wouldst forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him." Again, see Leviticus 19:17, 18, "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart, thou shalt in anywise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." The same precept is reproduced in Proverbs 25:21, "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink."
In Matthew 23:35, Jesus reproaches the Jews for having slain Zacharias, son of Barachias, "between the temple and the altar." In this reproach an insufficient acquaintance with our Holy Books is shown, inasmuch as it was Zachariah, the son of Jehoiada, the priest, who was slain (see 2 Chronicles 24:22). Some Christian commentators endeavor to explain away this discrepancy, asserting that the father of Barachias had two names. But this is a clumsy subterfuge, for the priest Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, lived in the days of Joash, king of Judah, while Zechariah, the son of Berachiah, prophesied during the reign of Darius; therefore several centuries intervened between the existence of the two men bearing the name Zechariah.
In Mark 2:25, Jesus is made to say to the Pharisees, "Have ye never read what David did when he had need, and was an hungered, he and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar, the high priest, and did eat the shew-bread, which is not lawful but for the priest, and gave also to them that were with him?" This author of the Gospel likewise evinces an inattentive perusal of our Scriptures, since David did not go to Abiathar, but he went to Ahimelech, the father of Abiathar. See 1 Samuel 21:2 [21:1], "And David came to Nob to Ahimelech the priest;" and ibid chapter 22:20, "And one of the sons of Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and ran after David." Nor did David come to Ahimelech with his followers, as the above quotation from Mark would lead one to suppose. For Ahimelech asked David (1 Samuel 21:2 [21:1], "Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?" in St. John 13:34, Jesus communicates to his disciples, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another." This commandment is decidedly not new. Moses laid it down in the words, [Leviticus 19:18] "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
In Acts 7:4, is to be seen, "Then came he (Abraham) out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran, and from thence, when his father was dead, He [God] removed him unto the land wherein ye now dwell." This is erroneous, for Abraham quitted Haran during his fatherís lifetime. And since Terah, the father of Abraham, died in Haran at the age of 205 years, he must have resided there for sixty years after the departure of Abraham. The following statement will prove this, according to the account given in Genesis:-- Terah was seventy years old when he begat Abraham, and the latter, when seventy-five years old, quitted his father; and Terah having died at the age of 205, he must, therefore, have been still living for sixty years after his sonís departure. The order in which the history of Terah and Abraham is given in Genesis 11 and 12 has most probably led to the inaccuracies we have pointed out.
In Paulís Epistle to the Romans 9:24-25, the Gentiles are declared to be on an equality with the Chosen People. "Even us whom he hath called not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. As he says also in Hosea, ĎI will call them my people which were not my people, and her beloved which was not beloved.í" Whoever peruses the first and second chapter of Hosea will find that Paul made use of the most tortuous means in order to show that the Gentiles are meant by that prophet. So long as the people of Israel, through sin, forfeited the favors of God, they were stigmatized by the designation "Loammi" (no more my people), and "Lo-ruchamah" (not received in mercy), but on returning to God, the Judgment was, according to the prophet, to be reversed, and they would bear the title "Ammi" (my people), and "Ruchamah" (received in mercy). The contents of Hoseaís prophecy completely refute Paulís attempt to assimilate the Gentiles with the Jews.
In the same ninth chapter of Paul (verse 33) a quotation from Isaiah is inserted, "Behold I lay in Zion a stumbling-stone and rock of offence, and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." This quotation is a mere fabrication of the author. In Isaiah 8:14, we find only, "And he shall be for a sanctuary, and for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both houses of Israel; for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem." In chapter 28:16 of the same prophet, we read "Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone of trial, a precious corner-stone, which shall be well founded, yea securely founded; he that believeth shall not hasten from it." Paul thus combines various distinct passages to make them serve his own views.
In chapter 10:11 of Paulís Epistle to the Romans and 1 Peter 2:6, an inaccurate version of the above is given, "He that believeth on him shall not be ashamed" (or confounded). Scripture thus mutilated can certainly not uphold the fabric of human faith. Again, Paul says in Romans 10:6-8, "Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above); or who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee; even in thy mouth and in thy heart: that is the word of faith which we preach." The words separated by Paul from their context, allude to the Divine promise contained in Deuteronomy 30:3, "God will turn the captivity of Israel and replace all evils with blessing," verse 2, "if thou wilt turn to the Lord with all thy heart and with all thy soul." Ibid 11, 12, "For this commandment or precept which I command thee this day is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven that thou shouldst say, Who shall go up for us to heaven and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and do it." The grace of the Almighty here points out to us the magnitude of the duty of repentance, and the ease of accomplishing it. Commonly the value of worldly advantages is estimated according to the difficulty of obtaining them. But the preciousness of repentance consists in the means which the Almighty has placed within our reach; and therefore the subject closes with the terms ibid verse 14, "but the thing is very nigh unto thee. It is in thy heart and in thy mouth that thou mayst do it."
In the Epistle to the Hebrews 10:5, Paul quotes the following words from our Scriptures:--"Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body thou hast prepared me." The true passage occurring in Psalm 40:7 [40:6], is, however, thus worded: "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, mine ears hast thou opened," etc. The Psalmist touched here only on the subject of obedience as agreeing with the announcement made by Moses previously to the delivery of the Decalogue. See Exodus 19:5, where it is said, "And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto my commandments and keep my covenant, that ye shall be unto me a distinct people from among all nations, for mine is the earth." The matter is further developed by Jeremiah, who says in his book, chapter 7:22, 23, "For I spoke not unto your ancestors, and I commanded not unto them concerning the burnt offering and sacrifices; but this I commanded them, saying, Hearken unto my voice." Again, in 1 Samuel 15:22, obedience is enforced in preference to sacrifice, "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold obedience is better than sacrifice, to attend unto Him is better than the fat of rams." We thus see that sacrifices were not ordained for their intrinsic value, but were intended to lead sinners into the temple, where they might contemplate on the mercy of God while performing the prescribed offering. Sacrifices consequently produced the same sanctifying effect on the mind, as healing medicines do on the body. We have here selected only a few Scriptural passages from those incorrectly cited in the New Testament, but will resume the subject more minutely in the Second Part of this work.
Many Christian commentators have lost their way, while attempting to reconcile those inconsistencies which we perceive in the New Testament, and they have found it necessary to assert, that it is not right to argue on those dubious matters. If that principle be true, it certainly would be better if the Jews were left unmolested by the assailants of their ancient religion, and if they were left free from the obtrusion of doctrines which interest neither faith nor reason.
Note: chapter and verse numbers in brackets  are the numbers used in the English bible.