LIFE OF CHRIST









                           FREDERIC W. FARRAR, D.D., F.R.S.








                                               Illustrations by

                               GUSTAVE DORE AND OTHERS










                  Digitized by Ted Hildebrandt, with help from Amber Bensing,
                             Apurva Thanju and Nick Ware, Gordon College 2007







            IN fulfilling a task so difficult and so important as that of writing

the Life of Christ, I feel it to be a duty to state the causes which led

me to undertake it, and the principles which have guided me in carry-

ing it to a conclusion.

            1. It has long been the desire and aim of the publishers of this

work to spread as widely as possible the blessings of knowledge; and,

in special furtherance of this design, they wished to place in the hands

of their readers such a sketch of the Life of Christ on earth as should

enable them to realize it more clearly, and to enter more thoroughly

into the details and sequence of the Gospel narratives. They there-

fore applied originally to an eminent theologian, who accepted the

proposal, but whose elevation to the Episcopate prevented him from

carrying it out.

            Under these circumstances application was made to me, and I could

not at first but shrink from a labor for which I felt that the amplest

leisure of a lifetime would be insufficient, and powers incomparably

greater than my own would still be utterly inadequate. But the con-

siderations that were urged upon me came no doubt with additional

force from the deep interest with which, from the first, I contem-

plated the design. I consented to make the effort, knowing that I

could at least promise to do my best, and believing that he who does

the best he can, and also seeks the blessing of God upon his labors,

cannot finally and wholly fail.

            And I have reason to be thankful that I originally entered upon the

task, and, in spite of all obstacles, have still persevered in it. If the

following pages in any measure fulfil the objects with which such a

2                                       PREFACE.


Life ought to be written, they should fill the minds of those who read

them with solemn and not ignoble thoughts ; they should " add sun-

light to daylight by making the happy happier;" they should encour-

age the toiler ; they should console the sorrowful ; they should point

the weak to the one true source of moral strength. But whether this

book be thus blessed to high ends, or whether it be received with

harshness and indifference, nothing at least can rob me of the deep

and constant happiness which I have felt during almost every hour

that has been spent upon it. Though, owing to serious and absorb-

ing duties, months have often passed without my finding an oppor-

tunity to write a single line, yet, even in the midst of incessant labor

at other things, nothing forbade that the subject on which I was

engaged should be often in my thoughts, or that I should find in it a

source of peace and happiness different, alike in kind and in degree,

from any which other interests could either give or take away.

            2. After I had in some small measure prepared myself for the

task, I seized, in the year 1870, the earliest possible opportunity to

visit Palestine, and especially those parts of it which will be forever

identified with the work of Christ on earth. Amid those scenes

wherein He moved—in the


                        *  *  *               " holy fields .

            Over whose acres walked those blessed feet

            Which, eighteen hundred years ago, were nailed

            For our advantage, on the bitter cross" —


in the midst of those immemorial customs which recalled at every

turn the manner of life He lived—at Jerusalem, on the Mount of

Olives, at Bethlehem, by Jacob's Well, in the Valley of Nazareth,

along the bright strand of the Sea of Galilee, and in the coasts of

Tyre and Sidon—many things came home to me, for the first time,

with a reality and vividness unknown before. I returned more than

ever confirmed in the wish to tell the full story of the Gospels in

such a manner and with such illustrations as—with the aid of all

that was within my reach of that knowledge which has been accu-

mulating for centuries—might serve to enable at least the simple

and the unlearned to understand and enter into the human surround-

ings of the life of the Son of God.

                                      PREFACE.                                               3


            3. But, while I say this to save the book from being judged by a

false standard, and with reference to ends which it was never intended

to accomplish, it would be mere affectation to deny that I have hoped

to furnish much which even learned readers may value. Though

the following pages do not pretend to be exhaustive or specially

erudite, they yet contain much that men of the highest learning have

thought or ascertained. The books which I have consulted include

the researches of divines who have had the privilege of devoting to

this subject, and often to some small fragment of it, the best years

of laborious and uninterrupted lives. No one, I hope, could have

reaped, however feebly, among such harvests, without garnering at

least something, which must have its value for the professed theolo-

gian as well as for the unlearned. And because I believed—and

indeed most earnestly hoped— that this book might be acceptable to

many of my brother-clergymen, I have admitted into the notes some

quotations and references which will be comparatively valueless to

the ordinary reader. But, with this double aim in view, I have tried

to avoid "moving as in a strange diagonal," and have never wholly

lost sight of the fact that I had to work with no higher object than

that. thousands, who have even fewer opportunities than myself,

might be the better enabled to react that one Book, beside which

even the best and profoundest treatises are nothing better than poor

and stammering fragments of imperfect commentary.

            4. It is perhaps yet more important to add that this Life of

Christ is avowedly and unconditionally the work of a believer.

Those who expect to find in it new theories about the divine person-

ality of Jesus, or brilliant combinations of mythic cloud tinged by

the sunset imagination of some decadept belief, will look in vain.

It has not been written with any direct. and special reference to the

attacks of sceptical criticism. It is not even intended to deal other-

wise than indirectly with the serious doubts of those who, almost

against their will, think themselves forced to lapse into a state of '

honest disbelief. I may indeed venture to hope that such readers, if

they follow me with no unkindly spirit through these pages, may

here and there find considerations of real weight and importance,

which will solve imaginary difficulties and supply an answer to real

objections. Although this book is not mainly controversial, and would,

4                                      PREFACE.


had it been intended as a contribution to polemical literature, have

been written in a very different manner, I do not believe that it will

prove wholly valueless to any honest doubter who reads it in a can-

did and uncontemptuous spirit. Hundreds of critics, for instance,

have impugned the authority of the Gospels on the score of the real

or supposed contradictions to be found in them.  I am of course

familiar with such objections, which may be found in all sorts of

books, from Strauss's Leben Jesu and Renan's Vie de Jesus, down

to Sir R. Hanson's Jesus of History, and the English Life of Jesus,

by Mr. Thomas Scott. But, while I have never consciously evaded

a distinct and formidable difficulty, I have constantly endeavored to

show by the mere silent course of the narrative itself 'that many of

these objections are by no means insuperable, and that many more

are unfairly captious or altogether fantastic.

            5. If there are questions wider and deeper than the minutia of

criticism, into which I have not fully and directly entered, it is not

either from having neglected to weigh the arguments respecting

them, or from any unwillingness to state the reasons why, in common

with tens of thousands who are abler and wiser than myself, I can

still say respecting every fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith,

MANET IMMOTA FIDES.1 Writing as a believer to believers, as a Chris-

tian to Christians, surely, after nearly nineteen centuries of Chris-

tianity, any one may be allowed to rest a fact of the Life of Jesus on

the testimony of St. John without stopping to write a volume on the

authenticity of the Fourth Gospel; or may narrate one of the Gospel

miracles without deeming it necessary to answer all the arguments

which have been urged against the possibility of the supernatural.

After the long labors, the powerful reasoning, and the perfect his-

torical candor with which this subject has been treated by a host of

apologists, it is surely as needless as it is impossible to lay again, on

every possible occasion, the very lowest foundations of our faith. As

regards St. John, therefore, I have contented myself with the merest

and briefest summary of some of the evidence which to me still

seems adequate to prove that he was the author of the Gospel which

passes by his name,* and minuter indications tending to strengthen


            * See pp. 128, 129, passim.

                                    PREFACE.                                             5


that conviction will be found scattered throughout the book. It

would indeed be hypocrisy in me to say with Ewald that "every

argument, from every quarter to which we can look, every trace and

record, combine together to render any serious doubt upon the ques-

tion absolutely impossible ; " but I do say that, after the fairest and

fullest consideration which I have been able to give to a question

beset with difficulties, the arguments in favor of the Johannine

authorship seem to me to be immensely preponderant.

            Nor have I left the subject of the credibility of miracles and the

general authenticity of the Gospel narratives entirely untouched,

although there was the less need for my entering fully upon those

questions in the following pages from my having already stated

elsewhere, to the best of my 'ability, the grounds of my belief.

The same remark. applies to the yet more solemn truth of the

Divinity of Christ. That—not indeed as surrounded with all the

recondite inquiries about the perixw<rhsij2 or comrmunicatio

idiomatum,3 the hypostatic union, the abstract impeccability, and

such scholastic formulae, but in its broad scriptural simplicity— was

the subject of the Hulsean Lectures before the University of Cam-

bridge in the year 1870. In those lectures I endeavored to sketch

what has ever seemed to my mind the most convincing external evi-

dence of our faith, namely, "The Witness of History to Christ."

Those who have rejected the creed of the Church in this particular,

approach the subject from a totally opposite point to our own. They

read the earlier chapters of St. Luke and St. Matthew, and openly

marvel that any mind can believe what to them appears to be palpa-

ble mythology; or they hear the story of one of Christ's miracles of

power— the walking on the Sea of Galilee, or turning the water into

wine — and scarcely conceal their insinuated misgiving as to honesty

of those who can accept such narratives as true. Doubtless we

should share their convictions in these respects, if we approached the

subject in the same spirit and by the same avenues. To show that

we do not and why we do not so approach it, is — incidentally at

least — one of the objects of this book.

            The sceptic — and let me here say at once that I hope to use no

single word of anger or denunciation against a scepticism which I

6                                   PREFACE.


know to be in many cases perfectly honest and self-sacrificingly

noble — approaches the examination of the question from a point of

view the very opposite to that of the believer. He looks at the

majestic order and apparently unbroken uniformity of Law, until

the Universe becomes to him but the result mechanically evolved

from tendencies at once irreversible and self-originated. To us such

a conception is wholly inconceivable. Law to us involves the neces-

sity of postulating ai Law-giver, and "Nature," which we only use

as an unscientific and imaginative synonym for the sum total of

observed phenomena, involves in our conceptions the Divine Power

of whose energy it is but the visible translucence. We believe that

the God and Creator of "Nature" has made Himself known to us,

if not by a primitive intuition, at any rate by immediate revelation

to our hearts and cpnsciences. And therefore such narratives as

those to which I have alluded are not nakedly and singly presented

to us in all their unsupported and startling difficulty. To us they

are but incidental items in a faith which lies at the very bases of our

being—they are but fragments of that great whole which comprises

all that is divine and mysterious and supernatural in the two great

words, Christianity and Christendom. And hence, though we no

longer prominently urge the miracles of Christ as the proofs of our

religion, yet, on the other hand, we cannot regard then as stumbling-

blocks in the path of an historical belief. We study the sacred books

of all the great religions of the world ; we see the effect exercised by

those religions on the minds of their votaries ; and in spite of all the

truths which even the worst of them enshrined, we watch the failure

of them al.l to produce the inestimable blessings which we have our-

selves enjoyed from infancy, which we treasure as dearly as our life,.

and which we regard as solely due to the spread and establishment

of the faith we hold. We read the systems and treatises of ancient

philosophy, and in spite of all the great and noble elements in which

they abound, we see their total incapacity to console, or support, or

deliver, or regenerate the world. Then we see the light of Chris-

tianity dawning like a tender dayspring amid the universal and

intolerable darkness. From the first, that new religion allies itself

with the world's utter feeblenesses, and those feeblenesses it shares;

                                         PREFACE.                                              7


yet without wealth, without learning, without genius, without arms,

without anything to dazzle and attract — the religion of outcasts and

exiles, of fugitives and prisoners—numbering among its earliest

converts not many wise, not many noble, not many mighty, but such

as the gaoler of Philippi, and the runaway slave of Colossae —with

no blessing apparently upon it save such as cometh from above—

with no light whatever about it save the light that comes from

heaven—it puts to flight kings and their armies; it breathes a new

life, and a new hope, and a new and unknown holiness into a guilty

and decrepit world. This we see ; and we see the work grow, and

increase, and become more and more irresistible, and spread "with

the gentleness of a sea that caresses the shore it covers." And

seeing this, we recall the faithful principle of the wise and tolerant

Rabbi, uttered more than 1,800 years ago —"If this counsel or

this work be of men, it will come to nought; but if it be of God,

ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found to fight against


            And when we have thus been led to see and to believe that the

only religion in the world which has established the ideal of a per-

fect holiness, and rendered common the attainment of that ideal, has

received in conspicuous measure the blessing of God, we examine its

truths with ,t deeper reverence. The record of these truths—the

record of that teaching which made them familiar to the world — we

find in the Gospel narrative. And that narrative reveals to us much

more. It not only furnishes us with an adequate reason for the

existence and for the triumphs of the faith we hold, but it also brings

home to us truths which affect our hearts and intellects no less power-

fully than "the starry heavens above and the moral law within."

Taught to regard ourselves as children of God, and common brothers

in his great family of man, we find in the Gospels a revelation of

God in His Son which enables us to know Him more, and to trust

Him more absolutely, and to serve Him more faithfully, than all

which we can find in all the other books of God, whether in Scrip-

ture, or history, or the experience of life, or those unseen messages

which God has written on every individual heart. And finding that


            1 Acts v. 38. 39.

8                                     PREFACE.


this revelation has been recorded by honest men in narratives which,

however fragmentary, appear to stand the test of history, and to

bear on the face of them every mark of transparent simplicity

and perfect truthfulness- prepared for the reception of these glad

tidings of God's love in man's redemption by the facts of the

world without, and the experiences of the heart within-we thus

cease to find any overwhelming difficulty in the record that He

whom we believe to have been the Son of God—He who alone

has displayed on earth the transcendent miracle of a sinless life—

should have walked on the Sea of Galilee or turned the water into


            And when we thus accept the truth of the miracles they become to

us moral lessons of the profoundest value. In considering the mira-

cles of Jesus we stand in a wholly different position to the earlier

disciples. To them the evidence of the miracles lent an overwhelm-

ing force to the teachings of the Lord ; they were as the seal of God

to the proclamation of the new kingdom. But to us who, for nine-

teen centuries, have been children of that kingdom, such evidence is

needless. To the Apostles they were the credentials of Christ's

mission; to us they are but fresh revelations of His will. To us

they are works rather than signs, revelations rather than portents.

Their historical importance lies for us in the fact that without them

it would be impossible to account for the origin. and spread of Chris-

tianity. We appeal to them not to prove the truth of Christianity,

but to illustrate its dissemination: But though to us Christianity

rests on the basis of a Divine approval far more convincing than the

display of supernatural power — though to us the providence which

for these two millenniums has ruled the destinies of Christendom is

a miracle far more stupendous in its evidential force than the raising

of the dead or the enlightenment of the blind—yet a belief in these

miracles enables us to solve problems which would otherwise be

insolvable, as well as to embrace moral conceptions which would

otherwise have found no illustration. To one who rejects them— to

one who believes that the loftiest morals and the divinest piety which

mankind has ever seen were evoked by a religion which rested on

                                        PREFACE.                                                   9


errors or on lies — the world's history must remain, It seems to me, a

hopeless enigma or a revolting fraud.1

            6. Referring to another part of the subject, I ought to say I do

not regard as possible any final harmony of the Gospels. Against

any harmony which can be devised some plausible objection could

be urged. On this subject no two writers have ever been exactly

agreed, and this alone is sufficient to prove that the Gospel notices of

chronology are too incomplete to render certainty attainable. I have,

of course, touched directly, as well as indirectly, on such questions as

the length of the ministry ; and wherever the narrative required some

clear and strong reason for adopting one view rather than another on

some highly disputed point — such., for instance, as the Feast alluded

to in John v. 1 — I have treated the question as fully as was consist-

ent with brevity, and endeavored to put the reader in possession of

the main facts and arguments on which the decision rests. But it

would have been equally unprofitable and idle to encumber my pages

with endless controversy on collateral topics which, besides being

dreary and needless, are such as admit of no final settlement. In

deciding upon a particular sequence of events, we can only say that

such a sequence appears to us a probable one, not by any means that

we regard it as certain.  In every instance I have carefully examined

the evidence for myself, often compressing into a few lines, or even


            1 "Que la philosophic' est ingénieuse et profoude Bans ses conjectures!" writes

De Lamennais its his scornful style. "Comme les événemeus qui paraissaient les

plus extraordinaires, deviennent simple dès qu'elle daigne 1esi~ expliquer! Vous

ue concevez pas clue le Christianisme se soft propagé naturellement: elle va vous

le faire comprendre. Les Apôtres out dit, ‘Nous vous annoncons 1'Évanigile an

nom de l'Éternel, et vous devez nous croire, car nous soutntes doués du pouvoir

miraculeux. Nous rendons la santé aux malades, aux. perch s l'usage de leurs

membres, la vue aux aveugles, l’ouie aux sourds, la vie aux marts.' A ce discours

le peuple est account de toutes parts, pour être témoin des miracles promis avec

tant de confiance. Les malades n'ont point été gueris, les perclus n'ont point

marché, les aveugles n'ont point vu, les sourds n'ont point entendu, les molls n'ont

point ressuscité. Alois, transporté d'aumiration, Is peuple est tombé aux pieds

des Apôtres, et s'est écrié, ‘Ceux-ci sent manifestement les envoyés de Dieu, les

ministres de sa puissance!' et sur le champbrisant ses idoles, il a quitté le culte

des plaisirs pour le cuite de la croix; it a renoncé à ses habitudes, à ses préjuiés,

ses passions ; it a réformé ses moeurs et embrassé la pénitence; les riches out

vendu leurs biens, pour on distribuer he prix aux indigens, et tons out préféré les

plus horribles tortures et une snort inf«ute aux remords d'abandonner une religion

qui leur était si solidement prouvée." (Ess. sus l'Indifférence, iv. 458.) 4

10                                PREFACE.


into an incidental allusion, the results of a long inquiry. To some

extent I agree with Stier and Lange in the order of events which

they have adopted, and in this respect, as well as for my first insight

into the character of several scenes (acknowledged in their place), I

am perhaps more indebted to the elaborate work of Lange than to

any others who have written on the same subject. When an author

is writing from the results of independent thought on the sum total

of impressions formed during a course of study, it is not always pos-

sible to acknowledge specific obligations ; but Whenever I was con-

sciously indebted to others, I have, throughoi'it the book, referred

especially to Ewald, Neander, Schenkel, Strauss, Rase, Sepp, Stier,

Ebrard, Wieseler, Hofmann, Beim, Caspari, Ullmann, Delitzsch, De

Pressense, Wallon, Dupanloup, Capecelatro, Ellicott, Young, An-

drews, Wordsworth, Alford, and many others, as well as to older

writers like Bonaventura and Jeremy Taylor. I have also to

acknowledge the assistance which Y have gained from the writings

of Dean Stanley, Canons Lightfoot and Westcott, Professor Plumptre,

Dr. Ginsburg, Mr. Grove, and the authors of articles in the Encyclo-

pmdias of Ersch and Grube, Herzog, Zeller, Winer, and Dr. W.

Smith. Incidental lights have of course been caught from various

archEeological treatises, as well as works of ^geography and travel,

from the old Itineraries and Beland down to Dr. Thomson's Land

and Book, and Mr. Hepworth Dixon's Holy Land.

            7. It is needless to add that this book is almost wholly founded on

an independent study of the four Gospels side by side. In quoting

from them I have constantly and intentionally diverged from the

English version, because my main object has been to bring out and

explain the scenes as they are described by the original witnesses.

The minuter details of those scenes, and therewith the accuracy of

our reproduction of them, depend in no small degree upon the discov-

ery of the true reading, and the delicate observance of the true usage

of words, particles, and tenses. It must not 'be supposed for a mo-

ment that I oiler these translations— which are not unfrequently

paraphrases — as preferable to those of the English version, but only

that, consistently with the objects which I had in view, I have aimed

at representing with more rigid accuracy the force and meaning of

                                           PREFACE.                                             11


the true text in the original Greek. It will be seen, too, that I have

endeavored to glean in illustration all that is valuable or trustworthy

in Josephus, in the Apocryphal Gospels, and in traditional particu-

lars derived from the writings of the Fathers.

            8. Some readers will perhaps be surprised by the frequency of the

allusions to Jewish literature. Without embarking on "the sea of

the Talmud" (as the Rabbis themselves call it) — a task which would

require a lifetime — a modern reader may find not only the amplest

materials, but probably all the materials it can offer for the illustra-

tion of the Gospel history, in the writings not of Christians only, but

also of learned and candid Rabbis. Not only in the well-known

treatises of Lightfoot, Schöttgen, Surenhuys, Wagenseil, Buxtorf,

Otho, Reland, Budeus, Gfrörer, Herzfeld, McCaul, Etheridge, but

also in those of Jews by birth or religion, or both, like Geiger,

Jost, Grätz, Derenbourg, Munk, Frankl, Deutsch, Raphall, Schwab,

Cohen, any one may find large quotations from the original authori-

ties collected as well by adversaries as by reverent and admiring stu-

dents. Further, he may read the entire Mishua (if he have the time

and patience to do so) in the Latin version of Surenhusius, and may

now form his judgment respecting large and important treatises even

of the Gemara, from such translations as the French one of the Bera-

choth by M. Moïse Schwab. I have myself consulted all the author-

ities here named, and have gained from them much information

which seems to me eminently useful. Their researches have thrown

a flood of light on some parts of the Gospels, and have led me to

some conclusions which, so far as I am aware, are new. I have,

indeed, in the second Excursus of the Appendix, shown that nothing

of the slightest importance can be gleaned from the Talmudists

about our Lord Himself. The real value of the Rabbinic writings

in illustrating the Gospels is indirect, not direct — archeological, not

controversial. The light which they throw on the fidelity of the

Evangelists is all the more valuable because it is derived from a

source so unsuspected and so hostile.1

            9. If in any part of this book I have appeared to sin against the


            1 I take this opportunity of saying that the reader will not find in the following

pages any one rigid or uniform system of transliteration of Hebrew words into

English. This is due to the fact that, in most instances, my references to the

12                                  PREFACE.


divine law of charity, I must here ask pardon for it. But at least I

may say that whatever trace of asperity may be found in any page

of it, has never been directed against men, but against principles, or

only against those men or classes of men in long-past ages whom we

solely regard as the representatives of principles. It is possible that

this book may fall into the hands of some Jewish readers, and to

these particularly I would wish this remark to be addressed. I have

reason to believe that the Jewish race have long since learnt to look

with love and reverence on Him whom their fathers rejected; nay,

more, that many of them, convinced by the irrefragable logic of his-

tory, have openly acknowledged that He was indeed their promised

Messiah, although they still reject the belief in His divinity. I see,

in the writings of many Jews, a clear conviction that Jesus, to whom

they have quite ceased to apply the terms of hatred found in the

Talmud, was at any rate the greatest religious Teacher, the highest

and, noblest Prophet whom their race produced. They, therefore,

would be the last to defend that greatest crime in history—the Cru-

cifixion of the Son of God. And while no Christian ever dreams

of visiting upon them the horror due to the sin of their ancestors,

so no Jew will charge the Christians of to-day with looking with

any feeling but that of simple abhorrence on the long, cruel, and

infamous persecutions to which the ignorance and brutality of past

ages have subjected their great and noble race. .W e may humbly

believe that the day is fast approaching when He whom the Jews

crucified, and whose divine revelations the Christians have so often

and so grievously disgraced, will break down the middle wall of

partition between them, and make both races one in religion, in

heart, and life — Semite and Aryan, Jew and Gentile, united to bless

and to evangelize the world.


Talmud have been derived from the numerous sources mentioned in the above

paragraphs, and in referring such passages to the author who is responsible for

their accuracy, I have generally adopted his mode of spelling. Scripture navies

I have mostly left in the form in which they occur in our English version ; and

in many terms that have acquired,a common currency, like Mishna, Gemara, Tal-

mud, &c., I have left the words in the shape most usually adopted. Besides these

sources of difference there may doubtless be others "quas aut incuria fudit aut

humana parum cavit natura."5 For these errors, where they occur, as well as for

all others, I must ask the indulgence of the candid reader, who will appreciate

the difficulties of a task accomplished under conditions far from favorable.

                                  PREFACE.                                              13


            10. One task alone remains—the pleasant task of thanking those

friends to whose ready aid and sympathy I owe so much, and who

have surrounded with happy memories and obligations the comple-

tion of my work. First and foremost, my heartiest and sincerest

thanks are due to my friends, Mr. C. J. Monro, late Fellow of

Trinity College, Cambridge, and Mr. R. Garnett, of the British

Museum. They have given me an amount of time and attention

which leaves me most largely indebted to their unselfish generosity;

and I have made claims on their indulgence more extensive than I

can adequately repay. To my old pupil, Mr. H. J. Boyd, late scholar

of Brasenose College, Oxford, I am indebted for the table of Con-

tents. I have also to thank the Rev. Professor Plumptre and Mr.

George Grove not only for the warm interest which they have taken

in my work, but also for some valuable suggestions. There are many

others, not here named, who will believe, without any assurance from

me, that I am not ungrateful for the help which they have rendered;

and I must especially offer my best acknowledgments to the Rev. T.

Teignmouth Shore—but for whose kind encouragement the book

would not have been undertaken — and to those who with so much

care and patience have conducted it through the press.

            And now I send these pages forth not knowing what shall befall

them, but with the earnest prayer that they may be blessed to aid

the cause of truth and righteousness, and that He in whose name

they are written may, of Its mercy,


            " Forgive them where they fail in truth,

                        And in His wisdom make me wise."

                                                                                                F. W. F.



            Monday before Easter, 1874.

                                  LIST OF AUTHORITIES.


The following (without any attempt at completeness in the list) are some of the books

and editions frequently referred to in this work: --


Akerman, Numism. Illustr. of the New

                Testament. London, 1846.

Alford, Greek Testament. Second Edi-

                tion. London, 1854.

Andrews, Bible Student's Life of our

                Lord. London, 1867.

Bengel, Gnomon. Second Edition. Tu-

                bingen, 1759.

Bible Educator, The. London, 1874.

Bloomfield, Greek Testament. Eighth

                Edition, 1850.

Bonaventura, Vita Christi.

Browne, H., Ordo Saeclorum. London,


Browning, R., A Death in the Desert.

Bruce, Training of the Twelve.

Budaeus, Philosoph. Hebraeorum. 1720.

Buxtorf, Lexicon Talmudicum.

________. Synag. Judaica. Basle, 1661.

Capecelatro, La Vita di Gesu Cristo.

                Napoli, 1868.

Caspari, Chronologische-Geographisehe

                Einleitung in das Leben Jesu.

                Hamburg, 1869.

Cohen, Les Deieides. E. Tr. London,


Cowper, B. H., The Apocryphal Gospels.

Davidson, Introd. to New Testament.

                2 vols. London, 1868.

Delitzsch, F., Jesus und Hillel. Erlan-

                gen, 1867.

De Pressense, Jesus Christ.

Derenbourg, L'Hist. et la Georg, de in

                Palestine d'apres les Thalmuds.

                Paris, 1867.

De Saulcy, Inst. d'Herode. Paris, 1872.

Deutsch, Literary Remains [The Tal-

                mud, &c.]. London, 1874.

Dixon, W. Hepworth, The Holy Land.

                2 vols. London, 1865.

Döllinger, The Jew and the Gentile. E.

                Tr. 2 vols.

_____ The First Age of the Church.

                Second Edition. London, 1867.

Dupanloup, Hist. de Notre Sauveur

                Jesus Christ. Paris, 1870.

Ebrard, Gospel History. Edinb., 1869.

                Ecce Homo. 1867.

Ellicott, Bishop, Historical Lectures on

                the Life of our Lord Jesus Christ.

                Fifth Edition. London, 1869.

Etheridge, Introduction to Hebrew Liter-

                ature. London, 1858.

Ewald, Geschichte Christ us and seiner

                Zeit (Gesell. des Volker Israel.

                V.). Dritte Ausgabe. Göttingen,


Frankl, The Jews in the East. E. Tr.

                London, 1859.

Gaussen, Theopneustia. E. Tr. Lon-

                don, 1866.

Gfrörer, Das Jahrhundert des Heils.


Glass, Philologia Sacra. Amsterdam,


Graetz, Geschichte des Juden.

Guder, König Herodes der Grosse.

Guizot, Meditations sur l'Esprit de Chris-


Hanna, Dr., Life of Jesus. 1869.

Hanson, Sir R., The Jesus of History,

                London, 1869.

Hase, Leben Jesu. Fünfte Auflage.

                Leipzig, 1863.

Hervey, Rev. Lord A., (Bishop of Bath

                and Wells), The Genealogies of.

                Our Lord. Cambridge, 1833.

Herzfeld, Geschichte des Volkes Israel.

Herzog, Encyclopcedia. E. Tr. Ed.

                Bomberger, 1860.

Hilgenfeld, Messia Judaeorum. Leipzig,


Hofmann, Das Leben Jesu nach den Apo-

                kryphen. Leipzig, 1851.

Jahn, Hebrew Commonwealth. London,


_______. Archaeologia Biblica. Third Edi-

                tion. E. Tr. Oxford, 1836.

Josephus, Antiquitates Judaicae, Bel-

                turn Judaicum, Vita Contra

                Apionem. Edit. Richter, 1826,

                and Whiston's Translation.

Jost, Geschichte des Judenthums.

Judged by His Words.

Kelm, Geschichte Jesu von Nazara. Zu-

                rich, 1867.

Kitto, Biblical Cyclopaedia. Third Edi-

                tion. Edinburgh, 1862.

Lange, Leben Jesu. E. Tr. 6 vols.

                Edinburgh, 1864.

Lightfoot, Horae Hebraicae. Cantab.,


Lightfoot, The Revision of the New Tes-


Lynch, Exploration of the Jordan and

                Dead Sea. Philadelphia, 1849.





                               LIST OF AUTHORITIES.                                     15


Madden, History of Jewish Coinage.

                London, 1864.

Maurice, Unity of the New Testament.

                London, 1854.

McCaul, The Old Paths.

McGregor, The Rob Roy on the Jordan.

Messiah, The. London, 1864.

Mill, Mythical Interpretation of the Gos-

                pels. Cambridge, 1861.

Milman, History of Christianity.

Monod, Adolphe, Enfance de Jesus.

Munk, Palestine. Didot freres. Paris.

Meander, The Life of Jesus Christ. E.

                Tr. 1869.

Otho, Lexicon Rabbinicuin.

Pearson, On the Creed. Twenty-first

                Edition. London, 1839.

Perrone, Joan, De D. N. Jesu Christi

                Dicinitate. Turin, 1870.

Plumptre, Christ and Christendom.

                Boyle Lectures. London, 1866.

Porter, J. L., Handbook for Syria and

                Palestine. London, 1863.

Raphall, History of the Jews.

Reland, Antiq. Hebraicai. Ed. 3. 1717.

_________. Analecta Rabbinica 1711.

Renan, Vie de Jesus. 13me ed. Paris,


_________. L'Antechrist. Paris, 1873.

Robinson, Biblical Researches. Boston,


Salvador, J.,  Jesus Christ et sa Doctrine.

                Two vols. Paris, 1861.

Sanday, The Authorship and Historical

                Character of the Fourth Gospel.

                London, 1872.

Schenkel, Character of Jesus, E. Tr.

                London, 18(19.

Schleusner, Lex. Nov. Testamenti. Third

                Edition. Leipzig. 1808.

Schöttgen, Horae Hebraicae. Dresden,


Scott, English Life of Jesus.

Scrivener, Introduction to the Criticism

                of the New Testament. Cambridge,


Sepp, Das Leben Jesu. Regensburg,


Smith, Dictionary of the Bible. London,


Stanley, Sinai and Palestine. London,


Stier, R., Reden Jesu. 8 vols. E. Tr.

                Edinburgh, 1855.

Strauss, Leben Jesu; and A New Life of

                Jesus. E. Tr. London, 1865.

Surenhusius, Mischna. 6 vols., fol. Am-

                sterdam, 1700.

Thomson, The Land and the Book. New

                York, 1859.

Tischendorf, Synopsis Evangelica. Ed.

                Tert. Leipzig, 1871.

Trench, On the Miracles. Ninth Edition,


_______. On the Parables. Tenth Edition,


_______. Sermon on the Mount.

_______. Studies in the Gospels.

Turpic, The Old Testament in the New.

                London, 1868–1872.

Ullmann, Die Sündlosigkeit Jesu. Gotha,

                1863. 7th Aufl.

________. Historisch, oder Mythisch? 2te Ault

                Gotha, 1866.

Waehner's Antiq. Hebraieae. 2 vols.

                Göttingen, 1712

Wageniseil, Tela Ignea Satanae. 2 vols.

                Altdorf, 1801.

Wallon, H.,  Vie de Notre Seigneur

                Jesus Christ. Paris, 1865.

Westcott, Introduction to the Study of

                the Gospels. Third Edition,


_______. Characteristics of the Gospel Mira-

                cles. Cambridge, 1859.

_______. Gospel of the Resurrection. Lon-

                don 1860.

Wieseler, Synopsis of the Four Gospels.

                B. Tr. Cambridge, 1861.

Williams, The Nativity. London. 1844.

Winer, Rethworterbuch. Leipzig, 1847.

________. Grammar of the New Testament.

                E. Tr. Sixth Edition, 1866.

Wordsworth Bishop, The Four Gospels

                Seventh Edition. London, 1870.

Young, The Christ of History.





                                     LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


Frederic William Farrar                                                                               Frontispiece

Map of Palestine                                                                                                       31

The Nativity                                                                                                               40

A Star Over Judaea                                                                                                    56

The Massacre of the Innocents                                                                                60

He Grew As Other Children Grow                                                                          70

The Shadow of the Cross                                                                                          74

Phylacteries                                                                                                               94

Early Greek Writing                                                                                                 94

Jesus and the Woman of Samaria                                                                            174

Stilling the Tempest                                                                                     258

Healing the Sick                                                                                                        346

Bust of Vespasian                                                                                                      434

Mary Anointing the Feet of Jesus                                                                            494

Pray That Your Flight Be Not On the Sabbath Day                                                502

The "Desolation" of Jerusalem                                                                                 536

The Garden of Gethsemane                                                                         574

Jesus Crowned With Thorns                                                                                    626

The Death of Jesus                                                                                                    652








                                CHAPTER I.

                             THE NATIVITY.


The Fields of the Shepherds.—An Eastern Khan.—The Cave of Bethlehem.

            —The Enrolment.—Joseph and Mary.—"No room for them in the

            Inn"— The Manger and the Palace.— The Nativity.— Adoration of

            the Shepherds.-Fancy and Reality.— Contrast of the Gospels and the

            Apocrypha                                                                                            31


                                  CHAPTER II.


Four Circumstances of the Infancy.— Order of Events.--The Circumcision.—

            The name Jesus.—The Presentation in the Temple.— Simeon.— Anna   43


                                  CHAPTER III.

                         THE VISIT OF THE MAGI.

Importance of the Epiphany.— Herod the Great.— " Magi."— Traditions.—

            Causes of their Journey.— General Expectation of the World.— The Star

            in the East.— Astronomical Conjectures of Kepler, &c. — Evanescent

            Stars.— Gifts of the Magi                                                                      43


                                               CHAPTER IV.


Departure of the Magi. -- Legends of the Flight into Egypt.— Massacre of the

            innocents.— Its Historical Credibility.— Character of Herod the Great.—

            Silence of Josephus.—Death and Burial of Herod the Great,— The Spell

            of the Herodiau Dominion broken.— Accession of Archelans.— Settle-

            ment in Galilee,                                                                         57


                                              CHAPTER V.

                                  THE BOYHOOD or JESUS.

Geography of Palestine.— Galilee.— Nazareth.— Reticence of the Evangelists.

            —Truthfulness of the Gospels.—Contrasted with Apocryphal Legends.

            — Life of Galilaean Peasants.— Imagination and Fact..— "He shall be

            called a Nazarene."                                                                               67

18                                   CONTENTS


                                               CHAPTER VI.

                                       JESUS IN THE TEMPLE.


Jesus Twelve years old.— Journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem.— Scenes by

            the Way.— Numbers of Passover Pilgrims.—Jesus missing from the

            Caravan.— The Search.— Rabbis in the Temple.— "Hearing them and

            asking them questions."— "Why did ye seek Me?—"They understood

            not."— Submissiveness.                                                                                     77


                                             CHAPTER VII.

                                  THE HOME AT NAZARETH.

The Carpenter."— Dignity of Poverty.— Dignity of Toil.— The Common

            Lot.-- Wisdom better than Knowledge.— Originality.— The Language

            spoken by Jesus.— The Books of God.— Jesus in His Home.—Work and

            Example of those Years.—Peacefulness.—"The brethren of the Lord."

            —Solitude.—The Hill-top at Nazareth.—Plain of Esdraelon.—Central-

            ity of Palestine.                                                                                                 86


                                           CHAPTER VIII.

                                   THE BAPTISM OF JOHN.

Characteristics of the Age.—Darkness deepest before Dawn.—Asceticism.—

            John the Baptist.—His Character.—His Teaching.--His Audience.—

            Scene of His Teaching.— His Message.— Bearing of John in the Pres-

            ence of Jesus.— Why Jesus was baptized.— Recognition as the Messiah.           103


                                             CHAPTER IX.

                                           THE TEMPTATION.

Quarantania.—" With the wild beasts."— " Forty days. The Moment of

            Exhaustion.—Reality of the Temptation.—" Tempted like as we are."—

            Fasting.— LapidesJudaici. —The First Temptation.-- Subtlety of it.—

            "Not by bread alone." — The Suggested Doubt.—The Order of the

            Temptations.— The Temple Pinnacle.- The Tempter's Quotation.

            The Splendid Offer.—The Roman Emperor.—The Victory                                  113


                                              CHAPTER X.

                                     THE FIRST APOSTLES.

St. John's Gospel.—" The Lamb of God."—Andrew and. John.— Simon.—

            Appearance and Personal Ascendency of Jesus.— Philip.— Nathanael.

            — " Come and see." " Under the fig-tree."— " Angels ascending and

            descending."                                                                                                      127


                                             CHAPTER XI.

                                      THE FIRST MIRACLE.

"On the third day."— An Eastern Bridal.—" They have no wine." — The

            Answer to the Virgin.— The Miracle.— Characteristics of this and other

            Miracles.                                                                                                          141

                                        CONTENTS.                                                          19


                                               CHAPTER XII.

                                   THE SCENE OF THE MINISTRY.


Contrast between the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan Valley.—Beauty of Gen-

            nesareth.— Character of the Scenery.— Its Present Desolation and Past

            Populousness — Prophecy of Isaiah. —Centrality. — Christ's Teaching

            there.— Site of Capernaum                                                                               150


                                              CHAPTER XIII.

                                     JESUS AT THE PASSOVER.

Visit to Jerusalem.--Purification of the Temple.— State of the Court of the

            Gentiles. — Crowd of Traders.— Indignation of Jesus. —Why they did

            not dare to resist.-- Question of the Rulers. —"Destroy this temple."       

            Impression made by the Words.—Their deep Significance.—Extent to

            which they were understood                                                                               157


                                             CHAPTER XIV.


 Talmudic Allusions to Nicodemus. — His Character.— Indirectness of his

            Questions. —Discourse of Jesus.--His Disciples Baptize.—Continued

            Baptism of John.-- AEnon, near Salim.—Complaint of John's Disciples.   

            Noble and Sad Reply                                                                                         160


                                              CHAPTER XV.

                                    THE WOMAN OF SAMARIA.

Retirement of Jesus to Galilee. — Sychar. —Noontide at the Well. — The

            Scene. -- Conversation with the Woman. -Jerusalem and Gerizim.           

            Revelation of Messiahship. — Return of Disciples. — The Fields White

            unto Harvest. — Believing Samaritans                                                                172


                                          CHAPTER XVI.

                               REJECTED BY THE NAZARENES.

Sequence of Events.-- A perfect “Harmony" impossible.— A Prophet in

            his own Country. — A Jewish Synagogue. Nature of the Service.           

            Sermon of Jesus.-- Change of Feeling in the (Audience.— Their Fury.    

            Escape of Jesus-- Finally leaves Nazareth                                                           180


                                           CHAPTER XVII.


Thie Courtier's Entreaty.— His Faith.-- Sequence of Events. — St. John and

            the Synoptists.— Jesus stays at Capernaum.—His First Sabbath there.—

            Preaches in the Synagogue. -- The Demoniac. — Peter's Mother-in-law.—

            The Evening. —Eagerness of the Multitude.— His Privacy invaded.—

            Preaches from the Boat. — Call of Peter, James, and John. — "Depart

            from me."— Publicans. — The Publican Apostle                                                189

20                                     CONTENTS.


                                               CHAPTER XVIII.



A Night of Prayer. — Selection of the Twelve. — Conjectures respecting

            them. — James and John. — Peter.—Kûrn Hatton. — Contrast with Moses

            on Sinai.— Beatitudes.— Sketch of the Sermon on the Mount.—" Not as

            the Scribes." — Authority. — Christ and other Masters. — Perfection. —

            Beauty and Simplicity                                                                                        202


                                               CHAPTER XIX.

                                          FURTHER MIRACLES.

A man full of Leprosy. — Violation of the Letter. — Why was Publicity for-

            bidden? — Deputation of Batlanim. — Message of the Centurion. — Pres-

            sure of the Ministry.— The Interfering Kinsmen                                                 219


                                                  CHAPTER XX.

                                                JESUS AT NAIN.

Nain.—A Funeral.—The Widow’s Son Raised.—Message from John the

            Baptist.—Overclouding of his Faith.—How accounted for.—Machaerus.

            --God’s Trial of His Servants.—Answer of Jesus.—Splendid Eulogy of

            John.—“The least in the kingdom of heaven”                                                      227


                                                CHAPTER XXI.

                             THE SINNER AND THE PHARISEE.

Simon the Pharisee. — Jewish Customs at Meals. — The Weeping Woman.—

            Simon's Disgust.— Answer of Jesus.— Parable of the Debtors.— Cold

            Courtesy of Simon.—Pardoning of Sins.—Was it Mary of Magdala? - 235


                                               CHAPTER XXII.

                                 JESUS AS HE LIVED IN GALILEE.

A Scene in Galilee. — Jesus and His Followers. — His Aspect. — A Life of

            Poverty—of Toil—of Health— of Sorrow —and yet of Holy Joy                         242


                                               CHAPTER XXIII.

                               A GREAT DAY IN THE LIFE OF JESUS.

Order of Events. — Teaching from the Boat. — Parables. -- Parable of the

            Sower.— Other Parables.—Effect Produced.— Urgent Desire for Rest.—

            The Eastern Shore. — The Three Aspirants. -- The Storm. —" What

            manner of Man is this?" -- Miracles.— Gergesa.— The Naked Demoniac

            from the Tombs. —" Thy name." — Loss of the Swine. -- Alarm of the

            Gadarenes.— Their Request.—Request of the Demoniac                                                252


                                              CHAPTER XXIV.

                             THE DAY OF MATTHEW'S FEAST.

Return to Capernaum. — The Paralytic let through the Roof. -- " Thy sins be

            forgiven thee." —Feast in Matthew's House.— Scorn of the Pharisees.—

            Question about Fasting.—'lie New Wine and the Old                                           268

                                            CONTENTS.                                                        21


                                                  CHAPTER XXV.

                          THE DAY OF MATTHEW'S FEAST (continued).


Jairus.— The Woman with the Issue.— The Touch of Faith.—Message to

            Jairus.— The Hired Mourners.— Raising of Jairus's Daughter.— The

            Blind Men.— They disobey Christ's Injunction.   -           274


                                               CHAPTER XXVI.

                                       A VISIT TO JERUSALEM.

Phases of the Ministry.--Mission of the Twelve.— Their Instructions.— A

            Feast of the Jews.— Arrangement of St. John.—Days of Jewish Feasts.

            — Nature of the Purim Feast.— Reason for Christ's Presence.                           279


                                              CHAPTER XXVII.

                                  THE MIRACLE AT BETHESDA.

Pool of Bethesda.— Interpolated Verse.--Healing of the Impotent Man.—

            Jealous Questioning.-- Sabbath-breaking.— The Man's Meanness.—Anger

            of the Rulers.— Answer of Jesus.— Dangerous Results.                                                286


                                             CHAPTER XXVIII.

                          THE MURDER OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.

Return to Galilee.— Herod Antipas.—Herodias.—Consequences of the Adul-

            terous Marriage.— Credulity and Unbelief.— The Banquet.— Salome.—

            Her Request.— Murder of the Baptist. — Herod's Remorse.— He inquires

            about Jesus.— Ultimate Fate of Herod.                                                              295


                                          CHAPTER XXIX.


Bethsaida Julias.— Hungry Multitude.— Miracle of the Loaves.— Excitement

            of the Multitude.— Dismissal of the Disciples.— Jesus alone on the

            Mountain.— The Disciples alone in the Storm.—" It is I."— Peter's Bold-

            ness and Failure.— Nature of the Miracle.                                                          305


                                          CHAPTER XXX.

                         THE DISCOURSE AT CAPERNAUM.

Astonished Query of the Multitude.—Reproof of Jesus.—They ask for a

            Sign.— His Answer.— The Bread of Life.— Their Dull Materialism.—

            Their Displeasure.-- Abandonment of Jesus.— Sad Question to the Dis-

            ciples.— Answer of Peter.— Warning to Judas.                                                 314


                                         CHAPTER XXXI.

                                GATHERING OPPOSITION.

Gathering Clouds.--1. "Thy sins be forgiven thee." 2. " A gluttonous

            man and a winebibber." 3. "Thy disciples fast not." 4. "With pub-

            licans and sinners."—"Mercy, not sacrifice."—The Prodigal Son.—

            Religionism and Religion.—5. Charges of violating the Sabbath.—Jew-

            ish Traditions.—Abhôth and Tôlduth.--i. In the Corn-fields.-- Analogy

            of David's Conduct.--" No Sabbatismn in the temple."— Incident in the


22                                        CONTENTS.


            Codex Bezae.— ii. The Stone-mason with the Withered Hand.—Good or

            Evil on the Sabbath? — The Objectors foiled.— Unwashen Hands.—

            Jewish Ablutions.—"Your tradition."—The Oral Law.— Hagadôth. and

            Halachoth.—"That which cometh from within."— Evil Thoughts                          322


                                                CHAPTER XXXII.

                                        DEEPENING OPPOSITION.

Agitations of the Life of Jesus.—Prayer at Dawn.—The Lord's Prayer.—

            Parable of the Importunate Friend.—Lights and Shadows of the Life of

            Jesus.— The Blind and Dumb Demoniac.-- Exorcism.-- Slander of the

            Scribes.—Beelzebub.—Answer of Jesus.—Warning against Light Words.

            —Who are truly blessed? —"Master, we would see a sign." -- Sign of

            the Prophet Jonah.— Interference of His Kinsmen                                              342


                                              CHAPTER XXXIII.

                                         THE DAY OF CONFLICT.

Alone with Pharisees at the Midday Meal.— Unwashen Hands.— Reproof

            of Jesus.— The Lawyers included in the Reproof.— Spurious Civility.—

            Open Rupture.—Danger of Jesus.—He goes out to the Multitude.—

            Denunciation of Hypocrisy.— Foolish Appeal.— The Parable of the Rich

            Fool.--Peter's Question.—Jesus troubled in Spirit.                                                351


                                              CHAPTER XXXIV.

                                        AMONG THE HEATHEN.

The Region of Tyre and Sydon.—The Syro-phoenician Woman.—Her Peti-

            tion apparently rejected.— Her exalted Faith.— Her Faith rewarded.—

            Heathen Lands.— Return to Decapolis.— Deaf and Dumb Man.—" Eph-

            phatha "— Reception by the Multitudes.— Feeding of the Four Thousand             358


                                               CHAPTER XXXV.

                                       THE GREAT CONFESSION.

Reception of Jesus on His return to Galilee. — An ill-omened Conjunction.—

            Demand of a Sign.— Reproof and Refusal.— Sadness of Jesus. — He sails

            away. -- The Prophetic Woe. — Leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod.—

            Literal Misinterpretation of the Apostles. — Healing of a Blind Man at

            Bethsaida Julias. — On the road to Caesarea Philippi.— The Momentous

            Questions.— "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." — The

            Rock. -- Foundation of the Church. — Misinterpretations. -- Warnings

            about His Death — Rash Presumption of Peter. —"Get thee behind me,

            Satan."—The Worth of the Human Soul.—" The Son of Man coming in

            His Kingdom"                                                                                                    364


                                               CHAPTER XXXVI.

                                          THE TRANSFIGURATION.

The Mountain.— Not Tabor, but Hermon.—The Vision.— Moses and Elias.—

            Bewildered Words of Peter. — The Voice from Heaven. — Fading of the

            Vision.-- The New Elias                                                                                    380

                                              CONTENTS.                                                        23


                                                   CHAPTER XXXVII.

                                                 THE DEMONIAC BOY.                                                         PAGE.

The Contrast.—The Disciples and the Scribes. —Arrival of Jesus.— The

            Demoniac Boy. Emotion of Jesus.—Anguish of the father. — "If thou

            must"— The Deliverance,— Power of Faith to remove Mountains. —

            Secluded Return of Jesus. — Sad Warnings.—Dispute which should be

            the Greatest. — The Little Child.— John's Question. — Offending Christ's

            Little Ones.— The Unforgiving Debtor                                                               386


                                                  CHAPTER XXXVIII.

                                     A BRIEF REST IN CAPERNAUM.

The Temple Tax. — The Collectors come to Peter. — His rash Answer.—

            Jesus puts the Question in its true light. — The Stater in the Fish's

            Mouth. — Peculiar Characteristics of this Miracle                                               392


                                                  CHAPTER XXXIX.

                             JESUS AT THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.

Observances of the Feast of Tabernacles. — Presumption of the Brethren of

            Jesus.— "I go not up yet unto this feast."—Eager Questions of the

            Multitude. — Their differing Opinions.— Jesus appears in the Temple.

            His reproachful Question.—"Thou Last a devil."—Appeal to His Works.

            — Indignation of the Sanhedrin. — Observances of the Last Day of the

            Feast.--"The joy of the drawing of water."—"Rivers of Living Water."

            —Divided Opinions.—"Never man spake like this Man."— Timid Inter-

            pellation of Nicodemus.—Answering Taunt of the Pharisees                                396


                                                     CHAPTER XL.

                             THE WOMAN TAKEN IN ADULTERY.

Question as to the Genuineness of the Narrative. — The Evidence on both

            sides.—Jesus at the Mount of Olives.— Returns at Dawn to the Temple.

            — Hilarity of 'the Feast. -- Immorality of the Age. — The Water of

            Jealousy. — Base Cruelty of the Pharisees. — The Woman dragged into

            the Temple.—"What sayest That?"—Subtlety of the Assault.—Writing

            on the Floor. — ''Him that is without sin among you." — Conscience-

            stricken. — Misery left alone with Mercy. —"Go, and sin no more." —

            Absolute Calm less of Jesus under all Attacks. — Eighth Day of the

            Feast. — The great Candelabra. — The Light of the World. — Agitating

            Discussions with the Jews.—A burst of Fury.—Jesus leaves the

            Temple                                                                                                             406


                                                   CHAPTER XLI.

                                         THE MAN BORN BLIND.

Jewish Notion of Nemesis.—"Which did sin?" —"Go wash in the Pool of

            Siloam." -- On the Sabbath Day.-- The Man examined by the Sanhedrin

            —A sturdy Nature.—Perplexity of the Sanhedrists.—"We know that

            this man is a sinner."— Blandishments and Threats.— The Man Excom-

            municated.—Jesus and the Outcast.--True and False Shepherds                          419

24                                         CONTENTS.


                                                   CHAPTER XLII.

                                         FAREWELL TO GALILEE.                                                            PAGE.

The Interval between the Feasts of Tabernacles and Dedication. — Great

            Episode in St. Luke. — Character of the Episode. — Mission of the

            Seventy. — News of the Galilaeans massacred by Pilate. — Teachings

            founded on the Event. — Stern Warnings. — The Barren Fig-tree. — The

            Pharisees' Plot to hasten His Departure. — "Go and tell this fox." —

            Herod Antipas.—Jesus sets forth.—Farewell to the Scene of His Minis-

            try. — Fate that fell on the Galilaeans.— Jesus exults in Spirit. — "Come

            unto me all ye that labor."— Noble Joy                                                               425


                                                    CHAPTER XLIII.

                                      INCIDENTS OF THE JOURNEY.

Possible Routes. — The Village of En-gannim. — Churlishness of the Samari-

            tans. — Passion of the Sons of Thunder. — Gentle Rebuke of Jesus. —

            Counting the Cost.—Perma.—The Ten Lepers.—Thanklessness.—"Where

            are the nine?"                                                                                                    436


                                                    CHAPTER XLIV.

                                      TEACHINGS OF THE JOURNEY.

Sabbatical Disputes. — Foolish Ruler of the Synagogue. --Healing of the

            Bowed Woman.— Argumentum ad hominem. — Ignorant Sabbatarianism.

            —Religious Espionage.— The Man with the Dropsy.— Question of Jesus.

            —Silence of Obstinacy.—The Man Healed.—Self sufficiency of the Phari-

            sees. — Struggles for Precedence. — A Vague Platitude.— Parable of the

            King's Marriage-feast.—The Unjust Steward.— Avarice of the Pharisees.

            —Their Sycophancy to Herod.—The Rich Man and Lazarus.—"Are there

            few that be saved?"— "What must I do to obtain Eternal Life?"— The

            Good Samaritan. — Return of the Seventy. — The Love of Publicans and

            Sinners. — The Parable of the Prodigal Son. — Solemn Warnings. —

            "Where, Lord?"—The Eagles and the Carcass


                                                   CHAPTER XLV.

                                      THE FEAST OF DEDICATION.

The House at Bethany. Martha and Mary.—" The one thing needful."—The

            Chantlkkah. - Solomon's Porch. — Reminiscence of the Feast. — Jesus

            suddenly surrounded. —" How long dost thou hold us in suspense?" —

            No Political Messiah.—" I and My Father are one."—They seek to stone

            Him. — Appeal of Jesus to His Life and Works. — He retires to Bethany

            beyond Jordan                                                                                                   460


                                                 CHAPTER XLVI.

                                       THE LAST STAY IN PERAEA.

Question about Divorce. — Importance of the Question. — Hillel and Shammai.

            --Dispute as to the meaning of Ervath Dabhar. --Lax Interpretations.—

            Both Schools wrong. — Simple solution of the question. — Permission of

                                                CONTENTS.                                                  25



            Divorce by Moses only temporary.--Corruption of the Age. — Teachings

            of Jesus about Moral Purity. --Celibacy and Marriage. — Jesus blesses

            Little Children.-- The eager Young Buler.—" Good Master."—" What

            must I do? "—An heroic Mandate.-- "The Great Refusal."—Discourage-

            ment of the Disciples. — Hundredfold Rewards. — The Laborers in the

            Vineyard                                                                                                           467


                                                      CHAPTER XLVII.

                                             THE RAISING OF LAZARUS.

Message to Jesus. — Two Days' Delay. —"Let us also go that we may die

            with Him —He approaches Bethany.—Martha meets him.—"The Resur-

            rection and the Life."—Mary's Agony.—Deep Emotion of Jesus.— Scene

            at the Grave. — "Lazarus, come forth." — Silence of the Synoptists.—

            Meeting at the House of C'aiaphas. — His wicked Policy. -- The Fiat of

            Death.— Retirement to Ephraim                                                                        477


                                                      CHAPTER XLVIII.

                                                JERICHO AND BETHANY.

Pilgrim-caravans. — Jesus on his way.-- Revelation of the Crowning Horror.

            — The Sons of Zebedee. — The Cup and the Baptism. — Humility before

            Honor.—Jericho.—Bartintleus.-- Zacclneus.— His Repentance. — Parable

            of the Pounds. --- Events which suggested it. — Arrival at Bethany. —

            "Simon the Leper." — Intentional Reticence of the Sy noptists. — Mary's

            Offering. —Inward Rage of Judas. —Blessing of Mary by Jesus.—" For

            my burying." — Interview of the Traitor with the Priests                                      486


                                                      CHAPTER XLIX

                                                       PALM SUNDAY.

Excitement of Expectation. — Three Roads to Bethany. — BethplIage. —The

            Ass's Colt.—A humble Triumph. --Hosanna!—Turn of the Read.—The

            Jerusalem of that Day. — Jesus weeps over the City. — Terrible Fulfil-

            ment of the Woe. — The Two Processions. — Indignation of ithe Phari-

            sees. — "Who is this?" — Jesus once more cleanses the Temple. —

            Hosannas of the Children. --"Have ye never read?" — The Greeks

            who desired an Interview. — Abgarus V. — Discourse of Jesus. — Voice

            from Heaven. — The Day closes in Sadness. — Bivouac on tIut Mount of

            Olives                                                                                                               498


                                                         CHAPTER L.

                           MONDAY IN PASSION WEEK.—A DAY OF PARABLES.

Jesus Hungers.—The Deceptive Fig.—Hopelessly Barren.— Criticisms on the

            Miracle. —Right View of it. — Deputation of the Priests. —"Who gave

            thee this authority?" —Counter-question of Jesus.-- The Priests reduced

            to Silence. — Parable of the Two Sons. — Parable of the Rebellious

            Husbandmen. —The Rejected Corner-stone. —Parable of the Marriage

            of the King's Son. — Machinations of the Pharisees                                            510      


26                                      CONTENTS.


                                                   CHAPTER LI.


                                      PUBLIC MINISTRY OF JESUS.                                           PAGE.

The Withered Fig-tree. — Power of Faith. — Plot of the Herodians. Its

            Dangerous Character.—The Tribute Money.—Divine and Ready Wisdom

            of the Reply of Jesus.— Attempt of the Sadducees. — A poor Question of

            Casuistry.— The Sevenfold Widow—"As the Angels of God." — "The

            God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." — Implicit Teaching of Immortality 520


                                                  CHAPTER LII.

                                      THE GREAT DENUNCIATION.

"Master, thou has well said." — "Which is the great commandment?" —

            Answer of the Rabbis. — Answer of Jesus. — "Not far from the kingdom

            of heaven."— Question of Jesus to the Scribes.— David's Son and David's

            Lord. — Their Failure to Answer.-. The Final Rupture. —"Woe unto

            you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites I "— The Voice which broke in

            Tears. —"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem I"— The Denunciation Deserved. —

            The Denunciation Fulfilled                                                                                  528


                                                   CHAPTER LIII.

                                      FAREWELL TO THE TEMPLE.

A happier Incident. — The poor Widow. -- True Almsgiving. — Splendor of

            the Temple. —"Not one stone upon another."— Jesus on the Mount of

            Olives.--"When shall these things be?"— The great Eschatological Dis-

            course. — The Two Horizons. — Difficulties of the Discourse, and mode of

            meeting them. — What must come before the Final End. — The Immedi-

            ate Future. — Warning Signs. — Parable of the Fig-tree — of the Ten

            Virgins — of the Talents. - After Two Days. — Last Evening Walk to

            Bethany                                                                                                            538


                                                CHAPTER LIV.

                                   THE BEGINNING OF THE END.

Meeting of Conspirators in the Palace of Caiaphas. -- Their Discussions. —

            Judas demands an Interview. — Thirty pieces of Silver. — Motives of

            Judas. —" Satan entered into Judas."— The Wednesday passed in Retire-

            ment. — Last Sleep of Jesus on Earth                                                                548


                                                   CHAPTER LV.

                                              THE LAST SUPPER.

“Green Thursday.”— Preparations for the Meal. — The Upper Room. — Dis-

            pute about Precedence. — Jesus washes the Disciples' Feet. — Peter's

            Surprise and Submission. -- "Ye are clean, but not all." — Teaching about

            Humility. — Troubled in Spirit. —" One of you shall betray me." —"Lord,

            is it I?" —Peter makes a sign to John. — Giving of the Sop. —"Rabbi,

            is it I?"—"He went out, and it was night." — Revived Joy of the Feast.

            — Institution of the Lord's Supper                                                                      554


                                             CONTENTS.                                                           27



{t Now is the Son of Mart glorified."—" Little Children." — The New Coin-

mandment. —" Lord, whither goest Thou ?"— Warning to Peter. —

"Lord, here are two swords."— Consolations. —" IIow can we know the

way?"—"Lord, show us the Father." — Difficulty of Judas Lebbteus.—

Last Words before Starting. -- The True Vine. — Plain Teachings. --

Gratitude of the Disciples. -- Fresh Warnings to them. — The High-

Priestly Prayer 565



Walk through the Moonlight to Gethsemane. — Last Warning to Peter. —

Gethsemane. — Scene of Agony. -- Desire for Solitude and yet for Sym-

pathy.— The First Struggle with Agony of Soul.—Its Intensity. — The

Bloody Sweat. — Not due to Dread of Death. —" Simon, sleepest thou ? "—

The Second Agony. -- The Disciples Sleeping. — The Third Agony and

Final Victory. — "Sleep on now, and take your rest." — Torches in the

Moonlight. — Steps taken by Judas. — " Comrade." — The Traitor's Kiss.

— Jesus Advances. --" Whom seek ye ? "—" I am He." — Terror of the

Band. — Historical Parallels. — Jesus Arrested. — Peter's Blow. — " Suffer

ye thus far." — The Young Man in the Linen Sheet. — Jesus Bound and

Led away         57:i



Asserted Discrepancies. -- Sixfold Trial. -- " To Annas first." — Hanan, the

High Priest de jure. -- His Character. -- His Responsibility for the Result.

— Degradation of the then Sanhedrin. — Pharisees and Sadducees. —

Greater Cruelty of the Latter. — The Sadducees, the Priestly Party. —

Cause of their Rage and Hatred. — " The Viper Brood." — Jesus repudi-

ates the Examination of Hanan. — "Answerest Thou the High Priest so ? "

—Noble Patience. -- The Second Phase of the Trial. — In the Palace of

Caiaphas. — Committees of the Sanhedrin. —" Sought false witness "—

Total failure of the Witnesses. —" Destroy this Temple." — Silence of

Jesus. — Despair of Caiaphas. — His violent Adjuration.— Reply of Jesus.

—" Blasphemy." —" Isla maveth"          - .         588




The First Derision. — The Outer Court. — John procures Admission for Peter.

— The First Denial. — The Second Denial. — The Galilean Accent. —

The Third Denial.-- The Look of Jesus. — The Repentanoe of Peter. —

Brutal Insults of the Menials. — The Dawn. — The Meeting of the

Sanhedrin. — Their Divisions. — Third Phase of the Trial. — A Contrast

of two Scenes before the Sanhedrin. — Jesus breaks His Silence. — The

Condemnation. — The Second Derision. — The Fate of Jesus -  - 600

28                                            CONTENTS.


                                               CHAPTER LX.

                                         JESUS BEFORE PILATE.                                    PAGE.

"Suffered under Pontius Pilate." — What is known of Pilate. — First Out-

            break of the Jews against him on his Arrival. —The Aqueduct and

            the Corban. — The gilt Votive Shields.--The Massacre of Galilaeans.—

            The Massacre of Samaritans.— The Palace of Herod.-- Jesus in the Pal-

            ace.— Led before Pilate.— Pilate comes out to the Jews.—1. His Roman

            Contemptuousness.-- Determines to try the Case.—Vagueness of the

            Accusations.—"Art Thou the King of the Jews?"--"What is truth?"

            -- First Acquittal.-- 2. Fierceness of the Jews. — Jesus sent to Herod

            Antipas.— Cruel Frivolity of Herod.— Second Acquittal.— 3. Last Phase

            of the Trial.— Temporizing of Pilate.-- Dream of his Wife.— Cowardly

            Concession.—Jesus or Bar-Abbas ?—"Crucify Him."— The Scourging.—

            Third Derision.— The Crown of Thorns.—"Behold the Man!"— Last

            efforts of Pilate to save Him.— Last Warning to Pilate.--" The Son of

            God."—"Behold your King."— Pilate terrified at the name of Caesar.—

            He gives way.— He washes his Hands.—" His blood be on us, and on our

            children!"— Fulfilment of the Imprecation.                                                          611


                                                  CHAPTER LXI.

                                               THE CRUCIFIXION.

"I, miles, expedi crucem."— Two Malefactors.— The Cross.— Procession to

            Golgotha.— Simon of Cyrene.— The Daughters of Jerusalem.— The

            Green and the Dry Tree.-- Site of Golgotha.— The Medicated Draught.--

            The Method of Crucifixion.—"Father, forgive them."-- Agony of Cruci-

            fixion.— The Title on the Cross.—Rage of the Jews.— The Soldiers.—

            Parting the Garments.— Insults of the Bystanders.— The Robber.—

            Silence of the Sufferer.— The Penitent Robber.—''To-day shalt thou be

            with me in Paradise."— The Women from Galilee.—"Woman, behold

            thy son."— The Noonday Darkness. --"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthaui?"

            --"I thirst."—Vinegar to Drink.—"Into Thy hands."--"It is finished."

            The Centurion.—The Multitude.— What the Cross of Christ has Done.

            The Crurifragium.— Water and Blood.                                                               633


                                                    CHAPTER LXII.

                                               THE RESURRECTION.

Utter apparent Weakness of Christianity at the Death of Christ.— Source of

            its subsequent Strength.— Joseph of Arimathaea.— Nicodemus.— The

            Garden and the Sepulchre.— The Women mark the Spot.— Request of

            the Sanhedrin that the Tomb might be guarded.—The Dawn of Easter Day.

            --The Women at the Sepulchre.— The Empty Tomb.-- Peter and John.

            --1. First appearance to Mary of Magdala.— 2. Appearance to the

            Women.— Story Invented by the Jews.— 3. Appearance to Peter.— 4.

            The Disciples at Emmaus.—5. The Assembled Apostles.— 6. The Apos-

            tles and Thomas.— 7. At the Sea of Galilee.—Jesus and Peter.—" Feed

            my lambs."—" What shall this man do ? "— 8. The Five Hundred on the

            Mountain.--9. Appearance to James.— 10. The Ascension.—" At the

            right hand of God, the Father Almighty."                                                             656




                                                   EXCURSUS I.

THE DATE OF' CHRIST'S BIRTH                                                                              673


                                                   EXCURSUS II.

CHRIST AND THE CHRISTIANS IN THE TALMUD                                                            675


                                               EXCURSUS III.

JESUS AND HILLEL.                                                                                                 676


                                                 EXCURSUS IV.

GREEK LEARNING.                                                                                                   681


                                                  EXCURSUS V.         

THE TALMUD AND THE ORAL LAW                                                                      682


                                                 EXCURSUS VI.



                                               EXCURSUS VII.

JEWISH ANGELOLOGY AND DEMONOLOGY                                                       685


                                              EXCURSUS VIII.



                                               EXCURSUS IX.

HYPOCRISY OF THE PHARISEES                                                                            689


                                                EXCURSUS X.

WAS THE LAST SUPPER AN ACTUAL PASSOVER?                                                          691


                                               EXCURSUS XI.

OLD TESTAMENT QUOTATIONS                                                                            698


                                                EXCURSUS XII.

NOTES ON THE TALMUD                                                                                        699


                                                EXCURSUS XIII.

THE SANHEDRIN                                                                                                      704


                                               EXCURSUS XIV.

PHARISEES AND SADDUCEES                                                                                706


                                               EXCURSUS XV.

TRADITIONAL SAYINGS OF CHRIST                                                                      709





                LIFE OF CHRIST.


                                            CHAPTER I.


                                        THE NATIVITY.


Au]to>j e]nhnqrwphsen i !na h[mei?j qeopoihqw?men.6--ATHAN., De Incarn., p.

54 (Opp. i. 108).


            ONE mile from Bethlehem is a little plain, in which, under a grove

of olives, stands the hare and neglected chapel known by the name

of "the Angel to the Shepherds." 1 It is built over the traditional

site of the fields where, in the beautiful language of St. Luke more

exquisite than any idyl to Christian ears – "there were shepherds

keeping watch over their flock by night, when, lo, the angel of the

Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord2 shone round about

them," and to their happy ears were uttered the good tidings of great

joy, that unto them was born that day in the city of David a Saviour,

which was Christ the Lord.

            The associations of our Lord's nativity were all of the humblest

character, and the very scenery of His birth place was connected with

memories of poverty and toil. On that night, indeed, it seemed as

though the heavens must burst to disclose their radiant minstrelsies;

and the stars, and the feeding sheep, and the "light and sound in the


            1 Angelus ad Pastores." Near this spot once stood a tower called Migdal

Eder, or "Tower of the Flock" (Gen. xxxv. 21). The present rude chapel is,

perhaps, a mere fragment of a church built over the spot by Helena. (See Cas-

par, Chronologisch-Geographische Einleitung, p. 57.) The prophet Micah (iv. 8;

v. 2) had looked to Migdal Eder with Messianic hopes; and St. Jerome (De Loc.

Hebr.), writing with views of prophecy which were more current in the ancient

than in the modern Church, ventures to say "that by its very name it fore-signi-

ned by a sort of prophecy the shepherds at the birth of the Lord."

            2 By do<ca Kuri<ou (Luke ii. 9) is probably meant the Shechinah or cloud of

brightness which symbolized the Divine presence.



                                              MAP OF ISRAEL                                          31
32                             THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


darkness and stillness," and the rapture of faithful hearts, combine to

furnish us with a picture painted in the colors of heaven. But in the

brief and thrilling verses of the Evangelist we are not told that those

angel songs were heard by any except the wakeful shepherds of an

obscure village; — and those shepherds, amid the chill dews of a

winter night, were guarding their flocks from the wolf and the rob-

ber, in fields where Ruth, their Saviour's ancestress, had gleaned, sick

at heart, amid the alien corn, and David, the despised and youngest

son of a numerous family, had followed the ewes great with young.1

"And suddenly," adds the sole Evangelist who has narrated the

circumstances of that memorable night in which Jesus was born,

amid the indifference of a world unconscious of its Deliverer, " there

was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God,

and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among

men of good will."2

            It might have been expected that Christian piety would have

marked the spot by splendid memorials, and enshrined the rude

grotto of the shepherds in the marbles and mosaics of some stately

church. But, instead of this, the Chapel of the Herald Angel is a

mere rude crypt; and as the traveller descends down the broken

steps, which lead from the olive-grove into its dim recess, he can

hardly persuade himself that he is in a consecrated place. Yet a half


            1 Ps. lxxviii. 71.

            2Luke ii. 14, e]n a]nqrw<poij eu]doki<aj: such is the reading of the best MSS.,

x, A, B, D, and some of the best versions, the Vetus Itala, Vulgate, Gothic, &c.

Moreover, however dear the other reading may be-to us front long and delightful

association, this best maintains the obvious poetic parallelism :

            Glory to God                                         in the highest,

            Peace to men of good will                      on earth.

By a]nqrw<poij eu]doki<aj we may perhaps understand with Valcknaer, "men

with whom God is pleased." As I shall not unfrequently refer to the text of the

Greek Testament, I may take this opportunity of telling the ordinary reader that

by is meant the Codex Sinaiticus, now at St. Petersburgh, discovered by

Tischendorf in 1844, and perhaps as old as the fourth century ; by A, the Codex

Alexandrinus in the British Museum, written in the middle of the fifth century;

by B, the Codex Vuticanus in the Vatican, which belongs to the middle of the

fourth century; by C, the Codex Ephraemi, a palimpsest in the Imperial

Library at Paris, not later than the fifth century; by D, the Codex Bezae in the

University Library at Cambridge, not later than the seventh century; by E, the

Codex Basiliensis, about the eighth century; by F, the Codex Boreeli at Utrecht;

by L, the Codex Regius Parisiensis, an accurate and important MS. of the eighth

century. I shall seldom refer to the readings of any later MSS. A full and con-

venient account of them may be found in the Rev. F. Scrivener's Plain Introduc-

tion to the Criticism of the New Testament (1861), and in the Prolegomena to

Alford's Greek Testament, i. pp. 83-90.


                              THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                       33


unconscious sense of fitness has, perhaps, contributed to this apparent

neglect. The poverty of the chapel harmonizes well with the humble

toil of those whose radiant vision it is intended to commemorate.

    "Come now! let us go into Bethlehem,1 and see this thing which

has come to pass, which the Lord made known to us," said the shep-

herds, when those angel songs had ceased to break the starry silence.

Their way would lead them up the terraced hill, and through the

moonlit gardens of Bethlehem, until they reached the summit of the

grey ridge on which the little town is built. On that summit stood

the village inn. The khan (or caravansary) of a Syrian village, at

that day, was probably identical, in its appearance and accommoda-

tion, with those which still exist in modern Palestine. A khan is a

low structure, built of rough stones, and generally only a single story

in height. It consists for the most part of a square enclosure, in

which the cattle can be tied up in safety for the night, and an arched

recess for the accommodation of travellers. The leewan, or paved

floor of the recess, is raised a foot or two above the level of the court-

yard.  A large, khan — such, for instance, as that of which the ruins

may still be seen at Khan Minyeh, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee

— might contain a series of such recesses, which are, in fact, low

small rooms with no front wall to them. They are, of course, per-

fectly public; everything that takes place in them is visible to every

person in the khan. They are also totally devoid of even the most

ordinary furniture. The traveller may bring his own carpet if he

likes, may sit cross-legged upon it for his meals, and may lie upon it

at night.2 As a rule, too, he must bring his own food, attend to his

own cattle, and draw his own water from the neighboring spring.

He would neither expect nor require attendance, and would pay only

the merest trifle for the advantage of shelter, safety, and a floor on

which to lie. But if he chanced to arrive late, and the leewans were


    1 Luke ii. 15 die<lqwmen dh>=adedum. I must remark at the outset that in

most of ny quotations from the Gospels I do not slavishly follow the English ver-

sion, but translate from the original Greek.

    2 "It is common to find two sides of the one room where the native farmer

resides with his cattle, and the remainder elevated about two feet higher for the

accommodation of the family" (Thomson, Land and Book, II., ch. xixiii.). See,

too, Lane's Modern Egyptians, i. 18.—Leewan is a corruption el-eewan, which sig-

nifies any raised place to sit upon. My description is, however, drawn directly

from my own experiences, especially one night at a poor and lonely place called

Khan Hulda, between Sidon and Beyrout, at which we found ourselves belated.

A distinction has been drawn between kata<luma (Luke ii. 7), and pandoxei?on

(Luke x. 34), but probably the only distinction is that the former was a free place

of shelter, and had no host.


34                            THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


all occupied by earlier guests, he would have no choice but to be con-

tent with such accommodation as he could find in the court-yard

below, and secure for himself and his family such small amount of

cleanliness and decency as are compatible with an unoccupied corner

on the filthy area, which must be shared with horses, mules, and

camels. The litter, the closeness, the unpleasant smell of the crowded

animals, the unwelcome intrusion of the pariah dogs, the necessary

society of the very lowest hangers-on of the caravansery, are

adjuncts to such a position which can only be realized by any traveller

in the East who happens to have been placed in similar circum-


            In Palestine it not unfrequently happens that the entire khan, or

at any rate the portion of it in which the animals are housed, is one

of those innumerable caves which abound in the limestone rocks of

its central hills. Such seems to have been the case at the little town

of Bethlehem-Ephratah, in the land of Judah. Justin Martyr the

Apologist, who, from his birth at Shechem, was familiar with Pales-

tine, and who lived less than a century after the time of our Lord,1

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.2 Over

this cave has risen the Church and Convent of the Nativity, and it

was in a cave close beside it that one of the most learned, eloquent,

and holy of the Fathers of the Church — that great St. Jerome to

whom we owe the received Latin translation of the Bible -- spent

thirty of his declining years in study, and fast, and prayer.3

From their northern home at Nazereth, in the mountains of Zabu-

lon, Joseph, the village carpenter, had made his way along the wintry

roads with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.4 Fallen


            1 Justin Martyr was born at Flavia Neapolis, A. D. 103, and died A. D. 166. The

date of his First Apology was about A. D. 138. (Gieseler, Ch. Hist. i. 153, E. Tr.)

            2 It is impossible to stand in the little Chapel of the Nativity, and to look with-

out emotion on the silver star let into the white marble, encircled by its sixteen

ever-burning lamps, and surrounded by the inscription, "Hic de Virgine Maria

Jesus Christus natus est."'

            3 He settled in Bethlehem A. D. 386 and died A. D. 420. His allusions to the

sacredness of the spot are very touching, and the most splendid offers of prefer-

ment were insufficient to tempt him away from that holy ground (Ep. 24 ad


            4 It appears to be uncertain whether the journey of Mary with her husband was

obligatory or voluntary. From Dion. Hal. iv. 15 (ed. Sylb., p. 221) and Lact. De

port. persec. 23, the former seems not unlikely. Women were liable to a capita-

tion tax, if this enrolment (a]pografh<) also involved taxation (a]poti<mhsij).

                              THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                      35


as were their fortunes, they were both of the house and lineage of

David, and they were traversing a journey of eighty miles to the vil-

lage which had been the home of their great ancestor while he was

still a ruddy shepherd lad, tending his flocks upon the lonely hills.

The object of that toilsome journey, which could not but be disagree-

able to the settled habits of Oriental life, was to enrol their names as

members of the house of David in a census which had been ordered

by the Emperor Augustus. In the political condition of the Roman

Empire, of which Judea then formed a part, a single whisper of the

Emperor was sufficiently powerful to secure the execution of his

mandates in the remotest corners of the civilized world. Great as

are the historic difficulties in which this census is involved, there seem

to be good independent grounds for believing that it may have been

originally ordered by Sentius Saturninus,1 that it was begun by Pub-

lius Sulpicius Quirinus,2 when he was for the first time legate of


But, apart from any legal necessity, it may easily be imagined that at such a

moment Mary would desire not to be left alone. The cruel suspicion of which she

had been the subject, and which had almost led to the breaking off of her betrothal

(Matt, i. 19), would make her cling all the more to he protection of her husband.

    1 Tert. Adv. Marc. v. 19. It has been held impossible that there should have

been a census in the kingdom of an independent prince; yet the case of the

Clitae ("Clitarum natio, Cappadoci Archelao subjecta, quia nostrum in modum

deferre census, patri tributa adigebatur," 8 &c., Tac. Ann. vi. 41) seems to be closely

parallel. That the enrollment should be conducted in the Jewish fashion at the

place of family origin, and not in the Roman fashion at the place of residence,

may have been a very natural concession to the necessities of Herod's position.

It may be perfectly true that this plan would give more trouble; but, in spite of

this, it was far less likely to cause offence. Yet although the whole proceeding

was probably due to a mere desire on the part of Augustus to make a breviarium

imperii, or Domesday Book, which should include the regna as well as the prov-

inces (Tac. Ann. i. 11), it is very doubtful whether it actually did not cause dis-

turbances at this very time (Jos. Antt. xvii. 2, § 2), as we know that it did ten years

later. How deeply the disgrace of a heathen census was felt is shown by

the Targum of Jonathan, Hal). iii. 17, where for "The flock shall be cut off

from the folds, and there shall be no herd in the stalls," he has, "The Romans

shall be rooted out; they shall collect no more tribute from Jerusalem " (Kessoma

= census, v. Buxtorf, s. v.; Gfrörer Jahrund. des Heils, i. 42).

    2 Cyrenius (P. Sulp. Quirinus) was a man of low extraction, at once ambitious

and avaricious, but faithful to Augustus (Tac. Ann. ii. 30; iii. 22—48). Other

passages bearing more or less directly on this famous census are Tac. Ann. i. 11;

Suet. Aug. 28, 101; Dio Cass. liv. 35, &c.; Suidas, s. v. a]pografh. No less

than three censuses of Roman citizens are mentioned in the Monumentum An-

cyranum; and Strabo (under Tiberius) speaks of them as common. Zumpt has,

with incredible industry and research, all but established in this matter the

accuracy of St. Luke, by' proving the extreme probability that Quirinus was twice

governor of Syria — viz., 750—753 A. U. C., and again 700-765. It was during

the former period that he completed the first census which had been commenced


36                            THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


Syria, and that it was completed during his second term of office.

In deference to Jewish prejudices, any infringement of which

was the certain signal for violent tumults and insurrection, it was

not carried out in the ordinary Roman manner, at each person's

place of residence, but according to Jewish custom, at the town to

which their family originally belonged. The Jews still clung to

their genealogies and to the memory of long-extinct tribal relations ;

and though the journey was a weary and distasteful one, the mind

of Joseph may well have been consoled by the remembrance of that

heroic descent which would now be authoritatively recognized, and

by the glow of those Messianic hopes to which the marvellous cir-


by Varus (Zumpt, Das Geburtsjahr Christi; Hist. Chronol. Untersuchungen, Leipz.,

1870). The argument mainly turns on the fact that in IA. U. C. 742, Quirinus was

consul and afterwards (not before A. U. C. 747) proconsul of Africa : yet some

time between this year and A. U. C. 753 (in which year he was appointed rector to

C. Caesar, the grandson of Augustus) he conquered the Homonadenses in Cilicia

(Tac. Ann. iii. 48). He must therefore have been at this time propraetor of the im-

perial province of Syria, to which Cilicia belonged. The other provinces near

Cilicia (Asia, Bithynia, Pontus, Galatia) were senatorial, i. e., proconsular, and as a

man could not be proconsul twice, Quirinus could not have been governor in any

of these. It is not possible here to give the ingenious and elaborate arguments

by which Zumpt shows that the Homonadenses must at this time have been under

the jurisdiction of the Governor of Syria. Further than this, we know that P.

Q. Varus was propraetor of Syria, between B. C. 6 and B. C. 4 (A. U. C. 748 —

750), and it is extremely likely that Varus may have been displaced in favor of

Quirinus in the latter year, because the close friendship of the former with

Archelaus, who resembled him in character, might have done mischief. It may

therefore be regarded as all but certain, ou independent grounds, that Quiriuus

was propraetor of Syria between B. C. 4 and B. C. 1. And if such was the case,

instead of having been guilty of a flagrant historical error by antedating, by ten

years, the propraetorship of Quirinus in Syria,,St. Luke has preserved for us the

historical fact of his having been twice propraetor, or, to give the full title, Lega

tus Augusti pro praetore a fact which we should have been unable to learn from

Josephus or Dio Cassius, whose histories are here imperfect. For the full argu-

ments on this point the reader must, however, consult the exhaustive treatise of

A. W. Zumpt. The appeals of Tertulliau to census-records of Saturninus, and of

Justin Martyr to the tables of Quirinus, as proving the genealogy of our Lord,

are (so far as we can attach any importance to them) an additional confirmation of

these conclusions, which are not overthrown by Mommsen (Res. Gest. Div. Aug.,

p. 123) and Strauss (Leben Jesu, i. 28) ; see Merivale, IIist. iv. 45. Quirinus, not

Quirinius, is probably the true form of the name (Orelli ad Tac. Ann. ii. 30)

For further discussion of the question see Wieseler, Synops. of the Four Gospels,

E. Tr., pp. 65-106. I may, however, observe in passing that, although no error

has been proved, and, on the contrary, there is much reason to believe that the

reference is perfectly accurate, yet I hold no theory of inspiration which would

prevent me from frankly admitting, in such matters as these, any mistake or

inaccuracy which could be shown really to exist.


             THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                           37


cumstances of which he was almost the sole depositary would give a

tenfold intensity.1

    Travelling in the East is a very slow and leisurely affair, and was

likely to be still more so if, as is probable, the country was at that

time agitated by political animosities. Beeroth, which is fifteen miles

distant from Bethlehem,2 or possibly even Jerusalem, which is only

six miles off, may have been the resting-place of Mary and Joseph

before this last stage of their journey. But the heavy languor, or


    1 That Joseph alone knew these facts appears from Matt. i. 19, where the best

reading seems to be not paradeigmati<sai but deigmati<saii. e., not "make

her an example," but, as Eusebius points out, "reveal her condition to the world."

The e]nqumhqe<ntoj of verse 20 means that this intention continued until the ex-

planation had been revealed to him. There is nothing surprising in the fact that

the descendant of a royal house should be in a lowly position. Hillel, the great

Rabbi, though he, too, was a descendant of David, spent a great part of his life

in the deepest poverty as a common workman. The green turban, which marks

a descendant of Mahomet, may often be seen in Egypt and Arabia on the head of

paupers and beggars. Similar facts exist quite commonly among ourselves; and,

ages before this time, we find that the actual grandson of the great Lawgiver

himself (Judg. xviii. 30, where the true reading is "Moses," not " Manasseh")

was an obscure, wandering, semi-idolatrous Levite, content to serve an irregular

ephod for a double suit of apparel and ten shekels (i. e. about thirty shillings) a

year (Judg. xvii. 10). On the genealogies given in St. Matthew and St. Luke, see

the learned and admirable article by the Bishop of Bath and Wells in Smith's

Dict. of the Bible, and his more elaborate work on the same subject. Here I need

only add that remarkable confirmations of the descent of Jesus from David are

found (1) in the story of Domitian and the Desposyni, alluded to in infr. Chap.

IV.; and (2) in a statement by Ulla, a Rabbi, of the third century, that "Jesus was

treated exceptionally because of His royal extraction" (hvh tvnlml bvrqd vwy ynxw,  

Sanhedrin, 43 a, in non-expurgated editions) (Derenbourg, L'Hist. de la Palestine,

p. 349). It is now almost certain that the genealogies in both Gospels are geneal-

ogies of Joseph, which, if we may rely on early traditions of their consanguinity,

involve genealogies of Mary also. The Davidic descent of Mary is implied in Acts

ii. 30; xiii. 23; Rom. i. 3; Luke i. 32, &c. St. Matthew gives the legal descent

of Joseph, through the elder and regal line, as her to the throne of David; St.

Luke gives the natural descent. Thus the real father of Salathiel was heir of the

house of Nathan, but the childless Jeconiah (Jer. xxii. 30) was the last lineal rep-

resentative of the elder kingly line. The omission of some obscure names and

the symmetrical arrangement into tesseradecads were common Jewish customs.

It is not too much to say that after the labors of Mill (On the Mythical Interpreta-

tion of the Gospels, pp. 147—217) and Lord A. C. Hervey (On the Genealogies of Our Lord, 1853), scarcely a single serious difficulty remains in reconciling the apparent divergencies. And thus, in this, as in so many other instances, the very discrepancies which appear to be most irreconcilable, and most fatal to the historic

accuracy of the four Evangelists, turn out, on closer and more patient investiga-

tion, to be fresh proofs that they are not only entirely independent, but also

entirely trustworthy.

    2 St. Matthew calls it Bethlehem of Judæa (ii. 1) to distinguish it from Bethle-

hem in Zebulun (Josh. xix. 15). It is the Ephrath of Gen. xlviii. 7. Cf. Micah v. 2.

38                                 THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


even the commencing pangs of travail, must necessarily have retarded

the progress of the maiden-mother. Others who were travelling on

the same errand, would easily have passed them on the road, and

when, after toiling up the steep hill-side, by David's well, they

arrived at the khan —probably the very one which had been known

for centuries as the House of Chimham,1 and if so, covering perhaps

the very ground on which, one thousand years before, had stood the

hereditary house of Boaz, of Jesse, and of David —every Zeman

was occupied. The enrolment had drawn so many strangers to

thel little town, that "there was no room for them in the inn." In

the rude limestone grotto attached to it as a stable, among the hay

and 'straw spread for the food and rest of the cattle, weary with their

day's journey, far from home, in the midst of strangers, in the chilly

winter night — in circumstances so devoid of all earthly comfort or

splendor that it is impossible to imagine a humbler nativity —

ChriSt was born.2

            Distant but a few miles, on the plateau of the abrupt and singular

hill now called Jebel Fureidis, or " Little Paradise Mountain,"

towered the palace-fortress of the Great Herod. The magnificent

houses of his friends and courtiers crowded around its base. The

humble wayfarers, as they passed near it, might have heard the hired

and voluptuous minstrelsy with which its feasts were celebrated, or

the shouting of the rough mercenaries whose arms enforced obedi-


            1 Or rather " hostel " (tUrGe) (Jer. xli. 17 ; 2 Sam. six. 37, 38). One tradition says

that the khan was on the ruins of a fortress built by David which had gradually

fallen to ruin. The suggestion that the House of Chimham was the khan of

Bethlehem is made by Mr. W. Hepworth Dixon (Hely Land, I., ch. xiii.). He

gives a good description of Syrian khans.

            2 That "it was the winter wild," at the end of B. C. 5 or the beginning of B. C. 4

of our Dionysian era, is all but certain ; but neither the day nor the month can be

fixed (ei]si>n de> oi[ periergo<teron. . . kai> th>n h[me<ran prostiqe<ntej,9 Clem.

Alex. Strom. i. 21, 145). That the actual place of Christ's birth was a cave is, as

we have seen, a very ancient tradition, and this cave used to be shown as the

scene of the event even so early (A. D. 150) as the time of Justin Martyr (Dial. c.

Tryph., c. 78, 304, by e]n sphlai<& tini suneggu>j th?j kw<mhj.10 Cf. Orig. c. Cels., i.

51). There is therefore nothing improbable in the tradition which points out the

actual cave as having been the one now covered by the Church of the Nativity at

Bethlehem. Hadrian is said to have profaned it by establishing there the wor-

ship of Adonis. (Seep, Lehen Jesu, i. 7.) It is fair, however, to add that the tra-

dition of the cave may have arisen from the LXX. rendering of Isa. xxxiii. 16, just

as the subsequent words in the LXX., a@rtoj doqh<setai au]t&?, were fancifully

referred to Bethlehem, "the house of bread." There seems to be no proof of the

assertion (mentioned by Stanley, Sin. and Pal., p. 441), that the Arabs, when they

plundered the church, found that the Grotto of the Nativity was an ancient sep-

ulchre. If such had been the case, is it likely that the Empress Helena (A. D. 330)

would have built her church there?


             THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                           39


ence to its despotic lord.  But the true King of the Jews — the right-

ful Lord of the Universe — was not to be found in palace or fortress.

They who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. The cattle-stables

of the lowly caravansery were a more fitting birthplace for Him who

came to reveal that the soul of the greatest monarch was no dearer or

greater in God's sight than the soul of his meanest slave; for Him

who had not where to lay His head; for Him who, from His cross

of shame, was to rule the world.1

    Guided by the lamp which usually swings from the center of a

rope hung across the entrance of the khan, the shepherds made their

way to the inn of Bethlehem, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the

Babe lying in the manger. The fancy of poet and painter has

revelled in the imaginary glories of the scene. They have sung of

the “bright harnessed angels” who hovered there, and of the stars

lingering beyond their time to shed their sweet influences upon that

smiling infancy. They have painted the radiation of light from His

manger-cradle, illuminating all the place till the bystanders are forced

to shade their eves from that heavenly splendor.2  But all this is

wide of the reality. Such glories as the simple shepherds saw were

seen only by the eye of faith; and all which met their gaze was a

peasant of Galilee, already beyond the prime of life, and a young

mother, of whom they could not know that she was wedded maid and

virgin wife, with an Infant Child, whom, since there were none to

help her, her own hands had wrapped in swaddling-clothes. The

tight that shined iii the darkness was no physical, but a spiritual beam;


    1 Ps. xcvi. 10, LXX. e]basileusen [a]po> tou? cu<lu] (J. Mart., Dial c. Tryph.

§ 73, p. 298). Tert. Adv. Marc. iii. 19), "Age nunc si legisti penes David ‘Dominus regnavit a ligno,’ exspecto quid intelligas nisi forte lignarium aliquem regem Judae-

orum et non Christum, qui exinde a passione ligni superata morte regnavit." 11

Some suggest that the LXX read Nyfe for Jxa, but it is more probable that the words

were added by Christians, than that they were erased by Jews. The admission of

the rendering quoted by Tertullian from the Vetus Itala, made some of the Western

fathers attach great importance to a phrase which, though interesting, is certainly spurious.

    2 As in the splendid picture, "La Notte," of Correggio. See Arab. Gospel of the

Infancy, ch. iii.: "And, lo! it (the cave) was filled with lights more beautiful than

the glittering of lamps and candles, and brighter than the light of the sun." Pro-

tey. ch. xis.: " There appeared a great light in the cave, so that their eyes could

not bear it." Gospel Pseud. Mattli. "A cave below a cavern, in which there

was never any light, but always darkness. And when the blessed Mary had

entered it, it began to become all light with brightness," &c. " Praesepe jam ful-

get tuum" 12 (Ambros. De Adv. Dom. 86). "Quando Christus natus est corpus

ejus resplenduit ut sol quando oritur" 13 (Vincent Lerin. Sern. de Nativitate,

referring to Isa. ix. 2).

40                              THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


the Dayspring from on high, which had now visited mankind, dawned

only in a few faithful and humble hearts.1

            And the Gospels, always truthful and bearing on every page that

simplicity which is the stamp of honest narrative, indicate this fact

without comment. There is in them nothing of the exuberance of

marvel, and mystery, and miracle, which appears alike in the Jewish

imaginations about their coming Messiah, and in the apocryphal nar-

ratives about the Infant Christ. There is no more decisive criterion

of their absolute credibility as simple histories, than the marked and

violent contrast which they offer to all the spurious gospels of the

early centuries, and all the imaginative legends which have clustered

about them. Had our Gospels been unauthentic, they too must inevi-

tably have partaken of the characteristics which mark, without excep-

tion, every early fiction about the Saviour's life. To the unillumi-

nated fancy it would have seemed incredible that the most stupendous

event in the world's history should have taken place without convul-

sions and catastrophes. In the Gospel of St. James2 there is a really

striking chapter, describing how, at the awful moment of the nativity,

the pole of the heaven stood motionless, and the birds were still, and

there were workmen lying on the earth with their hands in a vessel,

and those who handled did not handle it, and those who took did

not lift, and those who presented it to their mouth did not present it,

but the faces of all were looking up; and I saw the sheep scattered and

the sheep stood, and the shepherd lifted up his hand to strike, and his

hand remained up ; and I looked at the stream of the river, and the

mouths of the kids were down, and were not drinking; and every-

thing which was being propelled forward was intercepted in its course."

But of this sudden hush and pause of awe-struck Nature,3 of the par-

helions and mysterious splendors which blazed in many places of the

world, of the painless childbirth,4 of the perpetual virginity,5 of the


            1 The apocryphal Gospels, with their fondness for circumstantiality, and their

readiness on all occasions to invent imaginary names, say that there were four

shepherds, and that their names were Misael, Acheel, Cyriacus, and Stephanus (see

Hofmann, Leben Jesu nach den Apokryphen, p. 117). The little village of Belt-

Sahur is pointed out as their native place.

            2 Commonly known as the Protevangelium, ch. xviii.

            3 "Credibile est in aliis partibus mundi aliqua indicia nativitatis Christi

apparuisse"14 (S. Thom. Aquin., Summa iii., qu. 36, art. 3. Hofmann, p. 115,


            4 " Nulla ibi obstetrix, nulla muliercularum sedulitas intercessit "15 (Jer.

Adv. Helvid.), probably with reference to Ps. xxii. 9 —"Thou art He who

tookest me out of my mother's womb." This is, however, involved in Luke ii. 7,


            5 "Virgo ante partum, in partu, post partum"16 (Aug. Serm. 123). "Claustrum






                                      THE NATIVITY

                              THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                 41


ox and the ass kneeling to worship Him in the manger,1 of the voice

with which immediately after His birth He told His mother that He

was the Son of God,2 and of many another wonder which rooted itself

in the earliest traditions, there is no trace whatever in the New Tes-

tament. The inventions of man differ wholly from the dealings of

God. In His designs there is no haste, no rest, no weariness, no dis-

continuity; all things are done by Him in the majesty of silence, and

they are seen under a light that shineth quietly in the darkness,

"showing all things in the slow history of their ripening." "The

unfathomable depths of the Divine counsels," it has been said, "were

moved; the fountains of the great deep were broken up; the heal-

ing of the nations was issuing forth: but nothing was seen on the

surface of human society but this slight rippling of the water: the

course of human things went on as usual, while each was taken up

with little projects of his own."

    How long the Virgin Mother and her holy Child stayed in this

cave, or cattle-inclosure, we cannot tell, but probably it was not for

long. The word rendered "manger" in Luke ii. 7,3 is of very

uncertain meaning, nor can we discover more about it than that it

means a place where animals were fed.4 It is probable that the crowd

in the khan would not be permanent, and common humanity would

have dictated an early removal of the mother and her child to some


pudoris permauet" 17 (Ambros. De Adv. Dom. 10). This was a mere fantastic

inference from Ezek. xliv. 2. (See Jer. Taylor, Life of Christ, ed. Eden, p. 65, n.)

    1 Gosp. Pseud. Matth. xiv.  An incident imagined with reference to Isa. i. 3,

"The ox knoweth his owner," &c., and Hab. iii. 2, mistranslated in the LXX.,

"Between two animals Thou shalt be made known" (e]n me<s& du<o zw<wn

gnwsqh^), and the Vet. Itala ("In medio duorum animalium innotesceris." 18)

"Cognovit bos et asinus Quod puer erat Dominus" 19 "(Pister, De Nativ. Dom. 5).

    2 Arab. Gosp. of Inf. i.

    3 fa<tnh (from pate<omai, "I eat:" Curtius, Grundzüge Griech. Etym., ii. 84).

It is used for sUbxe A. V., "crib," in Prov. xiv. 4 (Targ. xtvrvx, "barn;" cf. Isa.

i. 3; Job xxxix. 9), and for hrAUAxu "stable," in 2 Chron. xxxii. 28; cf. Hab. iii. 17.

In Luke xiii. 15 it is rendered "stall." But actual mangers, built as they are in

the shape of a kneading-trough, may be, and are, used as cradles in the East

(Thomson, Land and Book, ii. 533). Even where these are wanting, there is often

a projecting ledge on which the cattle can rest their nosebags. Mangers are cer-

tainly ancient (Hom. Il. x. 568; Hdt. ix. 70). On the whole I conclude that

fa<tnh means primarily "an enclosure where cattle are fed;" and secondly, "the

place from which they eat," and hence is used both for a stable and a manger.

    4 Vulg. ''praesepe." Hence Mr. Grove (Bibl. Dict. s. v. "Bethlehem") goes a

little too far in saying that "the stable and its accompaniments are the creation

of the imagination of poets and painters, with no support from the Gospel narra-






42                                                                       THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


more appropriate resting-place. The magi, as we see from St. Mat

thew, visited Mary in "the house." 1 But on all these minor inci-

dents the Gospels do not dwell. The fullest of them is St. Luke,

and the singular sweetness of his narrative, its almost idyllic grace,

its sweet calm tone of noble reticence, seemed clearly to indicate that

he derived it, though but in fragmentary notices, from the lips of

Mary herself. It is, indeed, difficult to imagine from whom else it

could have come, for mothers are the natural historians of infant

years; but it is interesting to find, in the actual style, that "coloring

of a woman's memory and a woman's view," which we should natu-

rally have expected in confirmation of a conjecture so obvious and so

interesting.2 To one who was giving the reins to his imagination,

the minutest incidents would have claimed a description; to Mary

they would have seemed trivial and irrelevant. Others might won-

der, but in her all wonder was lost in the one overwhelming revela-

tion — the one absorbing consciousness. Of such things she could

not lightly speak; "she kept all these things, and pondered them in

her heart." The very depth and sacredness of that reticence is the

natural and probable explanation of the fact, that some of the details

of the Saviour's infancy are fully recorded by St. Luke alone.


    1 Matt. ii. 11.             2 See Lange i. 325.             3 Luke ii. 19.


                                  THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                         43






                                          CHAPTER II.


                          THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE.


                       "He who with all heaven's heraldry whilere

                            Entered the world, now bleeds to give us ease.

                                  Alas! how soon our sin

                                  Sore doth begin

                       His infancy to seize!" — MILTON, The Circumcision.


    FOUR events only of our Lord's infancy are narrated by the Gospels

— namely, the Circumcision, the Presentation in the Temple, the

Visit of the Magi, and the Flight into Egvpt. Of these the first two

occur only in St. Luke, the last two only in St. Matthew. Yet no

single particular can be pointed out in which the two narratives are

necessarily contradictory. If, on other grounds, we have ample rea-

son to accept the evidence of the Evangelists, as evidence given by

witnesses of unimpeachable honesty, we have every right to believe

that, to whatever cause the confessed fragmentariness of their narra-

tives may be due, those narratives may fairly he regarded as supple-

menting each other. It is as dishonest to assume the existence of

irreconcilable discrepancies, as it is to suggest the adoption of impos-

sible harmonies. The accurate and detailed sequence of biographical

narrative from the earliest years of life was a thing wholly unknown

to the Jews, and alien alike from their style and temperament.

Anecdotes of infancy, incidents of childhood, indications of future

greatness in boyish years, are a very rare phenomenon in ancient

literature. It is only since the dawn of Christianity that childhood

has been surrounded by a halo of romance.

    The exact order of the events which occurred before the return to

Nazareth can only be a matter of uncertain conjecture. The Circum-

cision was on the eighth day after the birth (Luke i.59; ii. 21): the

Purification was thirty-three days after the circumcision 1 (Lev. xii. 4);

the Visit of the Magi was "when Jesus was born in Bethlehem"

(Matt. ii. 1): and the Flight into Egypt immediately after their

departure. The supposition that the return from Egypt was previ-


                    1 Not after the birth, as Caspari says.


44                           THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


ous to the Presentation in the Temple, though not absolutely impos-

sible, seems most improbable. To say nothing of the fact that such

a postponement would have been a violation (however necessary) of

the Levitical law,1 it would either involve the supposition that the

Purification was long postponed, which seems to be contradicted by

the twice-repeated expression of St. Luke (ii. 22, 39); or it supposes

that forty days allowed sufficient time for the journey of the wise

men from "the East," and for the flight to, and return from, Egypt.

It involves, moreover, the extreme improbability of a return of the

Holy Family to Jerusalem – a town but six miles distant from Beth-

lehem — within a few days after an event so frightful as the Massa-

cre of the Innocents. Although no supposition is entirely free from

the objections which necessarily arise out of our ignorance of the cir-

cumstances, it seems almost certain that the Flight into Egypt, and

the circumstances which led to it, did not occur till after the Presen-

tation. For forty days, therefore, the Holy Family were left in

peace and obscurity, in a spot surrounded by so many scenes of

interest, and hallowed by so many traditions of their family and


    Of the Circumcision no mention is made by the apocryphal gospels,

except an amazingly repulsive one in the Arabic Gospel of the

Infancy.2 It was not an incident which would be likely to interest

those whose object it was to intrude their own dogmatic fancies

into the sacred story. But to the Christian it has its own solemn

meaning. It shows that Christ came not to destroy the Law, but

to fulfil. Thus it became Him to fulfil all righteousness.3  Thus

early did He suffer pain for our sakes, to teach ifs the spiritual cir-

cumcision — the circumcision of the heart — the circumcision of all

our bodily senses.4 As the East catches at sunset the colors of the


    1 For by the law a woman was obliged to stay in the house during the forty

days before the purification (Lev. xii. 1—8).

    2 Arab. Ev. Inf. ch. v.— It was doubtless performed by Joseph, and the presence

of witnesses was necessary. Special prayers were offered on the occasion, a chair

was placed for the prophet Elijah, as the precursor of the Messiah, and a feast

terminated the ceremony. Lange (i. 399) well observes the contrast between the

slight notice of the circumcision of Jesus, and the great festivities with which

that of St. John was solemnized. "In John the rite of circumcision solemnized

its last glory."

    3 Matt. iii. 15.

    4 See the somewhat fanciful, yet beautiful remarks of St. Bonaventura in his

Vita Christi, ch. v.: "We Christians have baptism, a rite of fuller grace,

and free from pain.  Nevertheless, we ought to practice the circumcision of the



                              THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                 45


West, so Bethlehem is a prelude to Calvary, and even the Infant's

cradle is tinged with a crimson reflection from the Redeemer's

cross.1  It was on this day, too, that Christ first publicly received

that name2 of Jesus, which the command of the angel Gabriel had

already announced. "Hoshea" meant salvation; Joshua, "whose

salvation is Jehovah;”3 Jesus is but the English modification of the

Greek form of the name. At this time it was a name extraordinarily

common among the Jews. It was dear to them as having been

borne by the great Leader who had conducted them into victorious

possession of the Promised Land, and by the great High Priest who

had headed the band of exiles who returned from Babylon;4 but

henceforth—not for Jews only, but for all the world—it was des-

tined to acquire a significance infinitely more sacred as the mortal

designation of the Son of God. The Hebrew "Messiah" and the

Greek "Christ" were names which represented His office as the

Anointed Prophet, Priest, and King; but "Jesus" was the personal

name which He bore as one who "emptied Himself of His glory"

to become a sinless man among sinful men.5

    On the fortieth day after the nativity — until which time she could

not leave the house —the Virgin presented herself with her Babe for


    1 Williams, Nativity, p. 87.

    2 Among the Greeks, and Romans also, the gene<qlia, or nominalia, were on

the eighth or ninth day after birth. Among the Jews this was due to the fact

mentioned in Gen. xvii. 5, 15 (Abraham and Sarah).

    3 faUwvhy;, faUwye and Uwye. (Jehoshua, Jeshua, Jeshu) are the forms in which it occurs.

It was sometimes Grecized into Jason, sometimes into Jesus. Its meaning is

given in Philo (swthri<a Kuri<ou, De Mutat. Nomin., § 21), and in Ecclus.

xlvi 1, me<gaj e]pi> swthri<%, just as in Matt. i. 21. In the New Testament

"Jesus" twice stands for Joshua (Acts vii. 45; Heb. iv. 8). The name thus

resembles the German Gotthilf. The Valentinians, by the cabalistic system,

notarikon, made it equivalent to Jehovah shammaim as va-aretz (see Iren. II, xxxiv

4); and Osiander makes it the ineffable name, the "Shemhammephorash," ren-

dered utterable by an inserted w.

    4 See Ezra ii. 2; iii. 2; Zech. iii. 1, &c. For other bearers of the name, see 1

Chron. xxiv. 11; 1 Sam. vi. 14; 2 Kings xxiii. 8; Luke 29. A son of Saul is

said to have been so called (Jos. Antt. vi. 6, § 6). In the New Testament we have

"Jesus which is called Justus" (Col. iv. 11); Bar-Jesus (Acts viii. 6); and prob-

ably Jesus Barabbas, if the reading be right in Matt. xxvii. 16. Possibly the

name might have been omitted by transcribers from feelings of reverence; on the

other hand, it might have been inserted by heretics to spoil the fancy (alluded to

by Origen ad loc.) that "in tanta multitudine Scripturarum neminem invenimus

Jesum peccatorum.  (See Keim, Geschichte Jesu, i. 384-387.) No less than

twelve people of the name (besides those mentioned in Scripture) are alluded to

in Josephus alone.

    5 "Jesus mel in ore, in aure melos, in corde jubilum." 21 (St. Bern.)

46                           THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


their Purification in the Temple at Jerusalem.1 "Thus, then," says

St. Bonaventura, "do they bring the Lord of the Temple to the

Temple of the Lord." The proper offering on such occasions was a

yearling lamb for a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon or a turtle-

dove for a sin-offering;2 but with that beautiful tenderness, which

is so marked a characteristic of the Mosaic legislation, those who

were too poor for so comparatively costly an offering, were allowed

to bring instead two turtle-doves or two young pigeons.3 With this

humble offering Mary presented herself to the priest. At the same

time Jesus, as being a first-born son, was presented to God, and in

accordance with the law, was redeemed from the necessity of Temple

service by the ordinary payment of five shekels of the sanctuary

(Numb. xviii. 15, 16), amounting in value to about fifteen shillings.

Of the purification and presentation no further details are given to

us, but this visit to the Temple was rendered memorable by a double

incident — the recognition of the Infant Saviour by Simeon and Anna.

    Of Simeon we are simply told that he was a just and devout

Israelite endowed with the gift of prophecy, and that having received

divine intimation that his death would not take place till he had

seen the Messiah,4 he entered under some inspired impulse into the

Temple, and there, recognizing the Holy Child, took Him in his arms,

and burst into that glorious song—the "Nunc Dimittis" — which

for eighteen centuries has been so dear to Christian hearts. The

prophecy that the Babe should be "a light to lighten the Gentiles,"

no less than the strangeness of the circumstances, may well have

caused astonishment to His parents, from whom the aged prophet did

not conceal their own future sorrows — warning the Virgin Mother

especially, both of the deadly opposition which that Divine Child was

destined to encounter, and of the national perils which should agitate

the days to come.4


    1 tou? kaqarismou? au]tw?n. The reading, au]th?j, adopted by the E. V., is of

very inferior authority, and probably due to dogmatic prejudice. Au]tou?, the

reading of the Codex Bezae, is singular, but improbable.

    2 Luke ii. 22; Lev. xii. 1—8; Numb. xviii. 16.

    3 Lev. xii. 6-8.

   4 Hence he has received in early Christian writers the surname of qeodo<koj

The expression, "waiting for the consolation of Israel," resembles what St. Mark

says of Joseph of Arimathea," who also waited for the kingdom of God" (Mark

xv. 43). A prayer for the coming of the Messiah formed a part of the daily gëul

lah; and "may I see the consolation of Israel," was a common formula of hope

Sepp quotes Chagigah, fol. 16, and other rabbinical authorities.

    5 The word kei?tai (Luke ii. 34) has been taken to mean, "this child who lies in

my arms;" but the E. V. is probably nearer to the true meaning, and the meta-

                               THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                47


    Legend has been busy with the name of Simeon. In the Arabic

Gospel of the Infancy, he recognizes Jesus because he sees Him shin-

ing like a pillar of light in His mother's arms.1  Nicephorus tells us

that, in reading the Scriptures, he had stumbled at the verse,

'Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son" (Isa. vii. 14), and

had then received the intimation that he should not die till he had

seen it fulfilled. All attempts to identify him with other Simeons

have failed.2  Had he been a High Priest, or President of the Sanhe-

drin, St. Luke would not have introduced him so casually as "a man

(a@nqrwpoj) in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon." The statement

in the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary that he was 113 years old is

wholly arbitrary; as is the conjecture that the silence of the Talmud

about him is due to his Christian proclivities. He could not have

been Rabban Simeon, the son of Hillel, and father of Gamaliel,

who would not at this time have been so old. Still less could he have

been the far earlier Simeon the Just., who was believed to have

prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, and who was the last sur-

vivor of the great Sanhedrin.3 It is curious that we should be told

nothing respecting him, while of Anna the prophetess several inter-

esting particulars are given, and among others that she was of the

tribe of Asher— a valuable proof that tribal relations still lived

affectionately in the memory of the people.4


phor involved is that of a stone — whether for stumbling or for edification (v.

Wordsworth ad loc.). In the sad prophecy, "Yea, a sword shall pierce through

thy own soul also," the same word, r[omfai<a, is used as in Zech. xiii. 7, LXX.

    1 Ev. Inf. Arab. ch. vi.

    2 Gospel of James xxvi., and of Nicodemus xvi. They call him o[ me<gaj

dida<skaloj22 It is a curious coincidence that the Jews say that "Christ was

born in the days of P. Simeon, the son of Hillel."

    3 I spell this word, Sanhedrin throughout, because it is evidently a mere trans-

literation of the Greek dunedri<on.

    4 I can see no ground for the conjecture of Schleiermacher, approved by Neander,

that the narrative was derived from Anna herself.


48                                THE LIFE OF CHRIST.






                                          CHAPTER III.


                                THE VISIT OF THE MAGI.


"O Jerusalem, look about thee toward the east, and behold the joy that cometh

unto thee from God."— BARUCH iv. 36.


    THE brief narrative of the Visit of the Magi, recorded in the

second chapter of St. Matthew, is of the deepest interest in the history

of Christianity. It is, in the first place, the Epiphany, or Manifes-

tation of Christ to the Gentiles. It brings the facts of the Gospel

history into close connection with Jewish belief, with ancient proph-

ecy, with secular history, and with modern science; and, in doing so

it furnishes us with new confirmations of our faith, derived inciden-

tally, and therefore in the most unsuspicious manner, from indispu-

table and unexpected quarters.

    Herod the Great, who, after a life of splendid misery and criminal

success, had now sunk into the jealous decrepitude of his savage old

age, was residing in his new palace on Zion, when, half maddened as

he was already by the crimes of his past career, he was thrown into

a fresh paroxysm of alarm and anxiety by the visit of some Eastern

Magi, bearing the strange intelligence that they had seen in the East1

the star of a new-born king of the Jews, and had come to worship

him. Herod, a mere Idumæan usurper, a more than suspected apos-

tate, the detested tyrant over an unwilling people, the sacrilegious

plunderer of the tomb of David2— Herod, a descendant of the


    1 The expression might, perhaps, be rendered, "at its rising" (the plural

a]natolai> not a]natlh>, is used for "the east," in Matt, ii. 1); but this would

seem to require au]tou?, and does not well suit verse 9.

    2 Jos. Antt. xvi. 7, § 1. On seizing the throne, with the support of the Romans,

and specially of Antony, more than thirty years before (A. U. C. 717), Herod

(whose mother, Cypros, was an Arabian, and his father, Antipater, an Idumæan)

had been distinctly informed by the Sanhedrin that, in obedience to Deut. xvii.

15, they could not accept a stranger for their king. This faithfulness cost a great

many of them their lives. (See Jos. Antt. xiv. 9, § 4; xv. 1, &c., and rabbinic

authorities quoted by Sepp.) The political and personal relations of Herod were

evidently well adapted for the furtherance of a new religion. The rulers of the

Jews, since the Captivity, had been Persian between B.C. 536-332; Egypto-

Greek and Syro-Greek between B.C. 332—142; Asmonæan and independent

                               THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                49


despised Ishmael and the hated Esau, heard the tidings with a terror

and indignation which it was hard to dissimulate. The grandson of

one who, as was believed, had been a mere servitor in a temple at

Ascalon, and who in his youth had been carried off by Edomite brig-

ands, he well knew how worthless were his pretensions to an historic

throne which he held solely by successful adventure. But his craft

equalled his cruelty, and finding that all Jerusalem shared his sus-

pense, he summoned to his palace the leading priests and theologians

of the Jews—perhaps the relics of that Sanhedrin which he had

long reduced to a despicable shadow — to inquire of them where the

Messiah1 was to be born. He received the ready and confident

answer that Bethlehem was the town indicated for that honor by the

prophecy of Micah.2 Concealing, therefore, his desperate intention,

the dispatched the wise men to Bethlehem, bidding them to let him

know as soon as they had found the child, that he too might come

and do him reverence.

    Before continuing the narrative, let us pause to inquire who these

Eastern wanderers were, and what can be discovered respecting their

mysterious mission.


between B. C. 142—63; and under Roman influences since the conquest of Jerusa-

lem by Pompey, B.C. 63. Under Herod (from B.C. 37 to the birth of Christ)

the government might fairly be called cosmopolitan. In him the East and the

West were united. By birth an Edomite on the father's side, and an Ishmaelite

on the mother's, he represented a third great division of the Semitic race by his

nominal adoption of the Jewish religion. Yet his life was entirely moulded by

conceptions borrowed from the two great Aryan races of the ancient world; his

conceptions of policy and government were entirely Roman; his ideal of life and

enjoyment entirely Greek. And, in addition to this, he was surrounded by a

body-guard of barbarian mercenaries. At no previous or subsequent period could

a world-religion have been more easily preached than it was among the hetero-

geneous elements which were brought together by his singular tyranny. (Guder,

König Hoerodes der Grosse, i.) His astuteness, however, had early taught him that

his one best security was to truckle to the all-powerful Romans (oi[ pa<ntwn

kratou?ntej  [Rwmai?oi, Jos. Antt. xv. 11, § 1).

    1 Not as in the English version, "where Christ should be born;" for it is

o[ Xristo>j, "the Anointed." "Christ" in the Gospels, even when without the

article in Greek, which is only in four passages, is almost without exception

(John xvii. 3), an appellative and not a proper name ("non proprium nomen est,

sed nuncupatio potestatis et regni," 23 Lact. Instt. Div. iv. 7). (See Lightfoot on

Revision, 100.)

    2 Micah v. 2; cf. John vii. 42. The latter passage shows how familiarly this

prophecy was known to the people. The Jewish authorities quote the text

loosely, but give the sense. (See Turpie, The Old Test. in the New, p. 189.) The

version of Gen. xlix. 27 in the Targum of Onkelos is, "The Shechniah shall

dwell in the land of Benjamin." (Gfrörer, Jahrh. d. Heils, i. 55.)


50                           THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


    The name "Magi," by which they are called in the Greek of St.

Matthew, is perfectly vague. It meant originally a sect of Median

and Persian scholars; it was subsequently applied (as in Acts xiii. 6)

to pretended astrologers, or Oriental soothsayers. Such characters

were well known to antiquity, under the name of Chaldæans, and

their visits were by no means unfamiliar even to the Western

nations. Diogenes Laertius reports to as a story of Aristotle, that a

Syrian mage had predicted to Socrates that he would die a violent

death;1 and Seneca informs as that magi, "qui forte Athenis

erant," 24 had visited the tomb of Plato, and had there offered incense

to him as a divine being.2 There is nothing but a mass of confused

and contradictory traditions to throw any light either on their rank,

their country, their number, or their names. The tradition which

makes them kings was probably founded on the prophecy of Isaiah

(lx. 3): "And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the

brightness of thy rising." The fancy that they were Arabians may

have arisen from the fact that myrrh and frankincense are Arabian

products, joined to the passage in Ps. lxxii. 10, "The kings of Thar-

shish and of the isles shall give presents; the kings of Arabia and

Saba shall bring gifts." 3

    There was a double tradition as to their number. Augustine and

Chrysostom say that there were twelve, but the common belief, aris-

ing perhaps from the triple gifts, is that they were three in number.4

The Venerable Bede even gives us their names, their country, and

their personal appearance. Melchior was an old man with white hair

and long beard; Caspar, a ruddy and beardless youth; Balthasar,

swarthy and in the prime of life.5 We are further informed by tra-

dition that Melchior was a descendant of Shem, Caspar of Ham, and

Balthasar of Japheth. Thus they are made representatives of the

three periods of life, and the three divisions of the globe; and value-

less as such fictions may be for direct historical purposes, they have

been rendered interesting by their influence on the most splendid

productions of religious art.6 The skulls of these three kings, each


    1 Diog. Laert. ii. 45.

    2 Sen. Ep. 58.

    3 In the original xbAw;, i.e. Arabia Felix. One MS. of the Protevangelium makes them come from Persia (e]k Persidoj); Theodoret calls them Chaldæans; Hilary, Æthiopians; some more recent writers make them Indians. (See Hofmann, p. 127.)

    4 See all the authorities for these legends or fancies quoted with immense learn-

ing and accuracy by Hofmann.

    5 Bede, Opp. iii. 649.

    6 The art student will at once recall the glorious pictures of Paul Veronese,

Giovanni Bellini, &c.


                               THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                51


circled with its crown of jewelled gold, are still exhibited among the

relics in the cathedral at Cologne.1

    It is, however, more immediately to our purpose to ascertain the

causes of their memorable journey.

    We are informed by Tacitus, by Suetonius, and by Josephus,2 that

there prevailed throughout the entire East at this time an intense

conviction, derived from ancient prophecies, that ere long a powerful

monarch would arise in Judæa, and gain dominion over the world.

It has, indeed, been conjectured that the Roman historians may

simply be echoing an assertion, for which Josephus was in reality

their sole authority; but even if we accept this uncertain supposition,

there is still ample proof, both in Jewish and in Pagan writings, that

a guilty and weary world was dimly expecting the advent of its

Deliverer. "The dew of blessing falls not on us, and our fruits have

no taste," exclaimed Rabban Simeon, the son of Gamaliel; and the

expression might stun up much of the literature of an age which was,

as Niebuhr says, "effete with the drunkenness of crime." The splen-

did vaticination in the fourth Eclogue of Virgil proves the intensity

of the feeling, and has long been reckoned among the "unconscious

prophecies of heathendom."

    There is, therefore, nothing extraordinary in the fact that these

Eastern magi should have bent their steps to Jerusalem, especially

if there were any circumstances to awaken in the East a more imme-

diate conviction that this wide-spread expectation was on the point of

fulfilment.  If they were disciples of Zoroaster, they would see in

the Infant King the future conqueror of Ahriman, the destined Lord

of all the World. The story of their journey has indeed been set

down with contemptuous confidence as a mere poetic myth; but

though its actual historic verity must rest on the testimony of the

Evangelist alone, there are many facts which enable us to see that in

its main outlines it involves nothing either impossible or even



    1 They were said to have been found by Bishop Reinald in the twelfth century.

    2 "Pluribus persuasio inerat, antiquis sacerdotum libris contineri, fore ut vales-

ceret oriens, et e Judaea profecti rerum potirentur" 25 (Tac. Hist. v. 13). "Percre-

buerat oriente toto vetus et constans opinio esse in fatis, ut eo tempore Judaea pro-

fecti reruns potirentur,26 (Suet. Vesp. 4). xrhsmo>j . . . w[j kata> to>n kairo>n

e]kei?non a]po> th?j xw<raj tij au]tw?n a@rcei th ?j oi]koume<nhj27 (Jos. B. J. vi. 5,

§ 4). Josephus steadily and characteristically interprets the prophecy of Vespa-

sian. It is true that these historians refer to the days of the Flavian dynasty

(A. D. 79); but the "vetus" of Suetonius, and the 4th Eclogue of Virgil, taken in

connection with the possible date of the Third Book of the Sibylline Oracles, are

signs that the expectation had existed half a century earlier.


52                           THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


    Now St. Matthew tells us that the cause of their expectant attitude

was that they had seen the star of the Messiah in the East, and that

to discover Him was the motive of their journey.

    That any strange siderial phenomenon should be interpreted as the

signal of a coming king, was in strict accordance with the belief of

their age. Such a notion may well have arisen from the prophecy

of Balaam,1 the Gentile sorcerer — a prophecy which from the power

of its rhythm, and the splendor of its imagery, could hardly fail to

be disseminated in eastern countries. Nearly a century afterwards,

the false Messiah, in the reign of Hadrian, received from the cele-

brated Rabbi Akiba, the surname of Bar-Cocheba, or "Son of a

Star," and. caused a star to be stamped upon the coinage which he

issued. Six centuries afterwards, Mahomet is said to have pointed

to a comet as a portent illustrative of his pretensions. Even the

Greeks and Romans2 had always considered that the births and deaths

of great men were symbolized by the appearance and disappearance

of heavenly bodies, and the same belief has continued clown to com-

paratively modern times. The evanescent star which appeared in

the time of Tycho Brahe, and was noticed by him on Nov. 11, 1572,

was believed to indicate the brief but dazzling career of some warrior

from the north, and was subsequently regarded as having been pro-

phetic of the fortunes of Gustavus Adolphus. Now it so happens

that, although the exact year in which Christ was born is not ascer-

tainable with any certainty from Scripture, yet, within a few years of

what must, on any calculation, have been the period of His birth,

there undoubtedly did appear a phenomenon in the heavens so

remarkable that it could not possibly have escaped the observation of

an astrological people. The immediate applicability of this phe-

nomenon to the Gospel narrative is now generally abandoned; but,

whatever other theory may be held about it, it is unquestionably


    1 That the Jews and their Rabbis had borrowed many astrological notions from

the Chaldæans, and that they connected these notions with the advent of the Mes-

siah, is certain. See the quotations front the tract Sanhedrin, R. Abraham, Abar-

benel, the Zohar, in Münter, Sepp, &c. Comp. Jos. Antt. ii. 9, § 2, and i. 7, § 2,

where Josephus quotes Berosus as having said that Abram was "skilful in the

celestial science."

    2 Luc. i. 529; Suet. Caes. 88; Sen. Nat. Quaest. i. 1; Serv. ad Virg. Ecl. 9, 47,

"Ecce Dionaei processit Caesaris astrum," 28 &c. — Every one will remember the

allusions in Shakespeare —

               "The Heavens themselves blaze at the death of princes."—Henry IV.


                            "Comets portending change of time and state,

                             Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,

                             And with them scourge the bad revolting stars

                            That have consented to our Henry's death."-1 Henry VI., i.1.

                                THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                          53


important and interesting as having furnished one of the data which

first led to the discovery, that the birth of Christ took place three or

four years before our received era.1 This appearance, and the cir-

cumstances which have been brought into connection with it, we will

proceed to notice. They form a curious episode in the history of

exegesis, and are otherwise remarkable; but we must fully warn the

reader that the evidence by which this astronomical fact has been

brought into immediate connection with St. Matthew's narrative is

purely conjectural, and must be received, if received at all, with con-

siderable caution.

    On Dec. 17, 1603, there occurred a conjunction of the two largest

superior planets, Saturn and Jupiter, in the zodiacal sign of the

Fishes, in the watery trigon.2 In the following spring they were

joined in the fiery trigon by Mars, and in Sept., 1604, there appeared

in the foot of Ophiuchus, and between Mars and Saturn, a new star

of the first magnitude, which, after shining for a whole year, grad-

ually waned in March, 1606, and finally disappeared.3 Brunowski,

the pupil of Kepler, who first noticed it, describes it as sparkling with

an interchange of colors like a diamond, and as not being in any way

nebulous, or offering any analogy to a comet.4 These remarkable

phenomena attracted the attention of the great Kepler, who, from his

acquaintance with astrology, knew the immense importance which

such a conjunction would have had in the eyes of the Magi, and

wished to discover whether any such conjunction had taken place

about the period of our Lord's birth. Now there is a conjunction of


    1 This is the date adopted by Ideler, Sanclemente, Wieseler. Herod the Great

died in the first week of Nisan, A. U. C. 750, as we can prove, partly from the fact

that shortly before his death there was an eclipse of the moon (Jos. Antt. xvii. 6,

§ 4). Ideler and Wurm have shown that the only eclipse visible at Jerusalem in

the year 750 A. U. C., B.C. 4, must have taken place in the night between the 12th

and 13th of March (Wieseler, p. 56. Our era was invented by Dionysius Exiguns,

an abbot at Rome, who died in 556. See Appendix, Excursus I., "Date of Christ's


    4 Astrologers divided the Zodiac into four trigons—that of fire (Aries, Leo,

Sagittarius); that of earth (Taurus, Arit.,), Capricornus); that of air (Gemini,

Libra, Aquarius); and that of water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces). (Wieseler, Synop.

sis of the Four Gospels. E. Tr., pg. 57 - On the astrology of the Jews in general,

see Gfrörer, Jahrh. des Heils, ii. 116.

    3 The star observed by Tycho lasted from November, 1573, till about April,

1574. Such temporary stars are perhaps due to immense combustions of hydro-

gen. See Guillemin, The Heavens, pp. 310-313; Humboldt's Cosmos, ii. 323-333

(ed. Sabine).

    4 There may, therefore, be no exaggeration in the language of Ignatius (Ep. ad

Ephes. § 19), when he says, "The star sparkled brilliantly above all stars."

54                           THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


Jupiter and Saturn in the same trigon about every twenty years, but

in every 200 years they pass into another trigon, and are not con-

joined in the same trigon again (after passing through the entire

Zodiac), till after a lapse of 794 years, four months, and twelve days.

By calculating backwards, Kepler discovered that the same conjunc-

tion of Jupiter and Saturn, in Pisces, had happened no less than three

times in the year A. U. C. 747, and that the planet Mars had joined

them in the spring of 748; and the general fact that there was such

a combination at this period has been verified by a number of inde-

pendent investigators,1 and does not seem to admit of denial. And

however we may apply the fact, it is certainly an interesting one.

For such a conjunction would at once have been interpreted by

the Chaldæan observers as indicating the approach of some memora-

ble event; and since it occurred in the constellation Pisces, which

was supposed by astrologers to be immediately connected with the

fortunes of Judea,2 it would naturally turn their thoughts in that

direction. The form of their interpretation would be moulded, both

by the astrological opinions of the Jews — which distinctly point to

this very conjunction as an indication of the Messiah — and by the

expectation of a Deliverer which was so widely spread at the period

in which they lived.

    The appearance and disappearance of new stars is a phenomenon

by no means so rare as to admit of any possible doubt.3 The fact

that St. Matthew speaks of such a star within two or three years, at

the utmost, of a time when we know that there was this remarkable


    1 He supposed that the other conjunctions would coincide with seven great cli-

macteric years or epochs: Adam, Enoch, the Deluge, Moses, Isaiah (about the

commencement of the Greek, Roman, and Babylonian eras), Christ, Charlemagne,

and the Reformation.

    2 Kepler's first tract on this subject was De nova Stella in pede Serpenturii,

Prague, 1606. He was followed by Ideler, Handbuch der Chronologie, ii. 406;

Pfaff, Des Licht und die Weltgegenden, Bamb., 1821; Minter, Stern d. Weisen,

Copenhag., 1827; Schumacher, Schubert, Encke, Goldschmidt, &c. Professor

Pritchard carefully went through Kepler's calculations, and confirms the fact of

the conjunction, though he slightly modifies the dates, and, like most recent in-

quirers, denies that the phenomenon has any bearing on the Gospel narrative.

That such astronomical facts are insufficient to explain the language of St. Mat-

thew, if taken with minute and literal accuracy, is obvious; but that they have

no bearing on the circumstances as they were reported to the Evangelist perhaps

half a century later, is more than can be safely affirmed.

    3 Sepp, who always delights in the most fanciful and unfounded combinations,

connects this fact with the Fish (IXQUS= ]Ihsou?j Xristo>j qeou? Uio>j

Swth>r) as the well-known symbol of the Church and of Christians. (Leben

Jesu, p. 7.)

                               THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                55


planetary conjunction, and the fact that there was such a star nearly

1,600 years afterwards, at the time of a similar conjunction, can only

be regarded as a curious coincidence. We should, indeed, have a

strong and strange confirmation of one main fact in St. Matthew's

narrative, if any reliance could be placed on the assertion that, in the

astronomical tables of the Chinese, a record has been preserved that

a new star did appear in the heavens at this very epoch.1 But it

would be obviously idle to build on a datum which is so incapable of

verification and so enveloped with uncertainty.

    We are, in fact, driven to the conclusion that the astronomical

researches which have proved the reality of this remarkable plane-

tary conjunction are only valuable as showing the possibility that it

may have prepared the Magi for the early occurrence of some great

event. And this confident expectation may have led to their journey

to Palestine, on the subsequent appearance of an evanescent star, an

appearance by no means unparalleled in the records of astronomy,

but which in this instance2 seems to rest on the authority of the

Evangelist alone.

    No one, at any rate, need stumble over the supposition that

an apparent sanction is thus extended to the combinations of

astrology. Apart from astrology altogether, it is conceded by

many wise and candid observers, even by the great Niebuhr, the last

man in the world to be carried away by credulity or superstition, that

great catastrophes and unusual phenomena in nature have, as a mat-

ter of fact —however we may choose to interpret such a fact—syn-

chronized in a remarkable manner with great events in human


    1 This is mentioned by Wieseler, p. 61. We cannot, however, press the Evan-

gelist's use of a]sth<r,"a star," rather than a@stron, "a constellation;" the two

words are loosely used, and often almost indiscriminately interchanged. Further

than this it must he steadily borne in mind (v. supra, note 2, page 54), that the

curious fact of the planetary conjunction, even if it were accompanied by an

evanescent star, would not exactly coincide with, though it might to some extent

account for, the language used by St. Matthew.

    2 It is remarkable that the celebrated Abarbanel (d. 1508), in his hfwh ynym, or

"wells of salvation"—a commentary on Daniel – distinctly says that the conjunc-

tion of Jupiter and Saturn always indicates peat events. He then gives five

mystic reasons why Pisces should be the constellation of the Israelites, and says

that there had been a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Pisces three years before

the birth of Moses. From a similar conjunction in his own days (1463), he expected

the speedy birth of the Messiah. What makes this statement (which is quoted

by Münter, Stern d. Weisen, § 55; and Ideler, Handb. d. Chronol., ii. 405) more

remarkable is, that Abarbanel must have been wholly ignorant of the conjunction

in A. U. C. 747. (See Ebrard, Gosp. Hist., E. Tr., p. 178.)

56                           THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


history.1 It would not, therefore, imply any prodigious folly on the

part of the Magi to regard the planetary conjunction as something

providentially significant. And if astrology be ever so absurd, yet

there is nothing absurd in the supposition that the Magi should be

led to truth, even through the gateways of delusion, if the spirit

of sincerity and truth was in them. The history of science will

furnish repeated instances, not only of the enormous discoveries

accorded to apparent accident, but even of the immense results

achieved in the investigation of innocent and honest error. Saul

who, in seeking asses, found a kingdom, is but a type of many another

seeker in many another age.2

    The Magi came to Bethlehem, and offered to the young child in

his rude and humble resting-place3 a reverence which we do not hear

that they had paid to the usurping Edomite in his glittering palace.

"And when they had opened their treasures they presented unto

him gifts, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh." The imagination of

early Christians has seen in each gift a special significance: myrrh

for the human nature, gold to the king, frankincense to the divinity;

or, the gold for the race of Shem, the myrrh for the race of Ham,

the incense for the race of Japhet; —innocent fancies, only worthy

of mention because of their historic interest, and their bearing on

the conceptions of Christian poetry and Christian art.4


    1 See Niebuhr's Lect. on Hist. of Rome, ii. 103, ed. Schmitz.

    2 "Superstition," says Neander, "often paves the way for faith." "How

often," says Hamann, " has God condescended not merely to the feelings and

thoughts of men, but even to their failings and their prejudices."

    3 Matt. ii. 11 (ei]j th>n oi]ki<an29) seems to show, what would of course be prob-

able, that the stall or manger formed but a brief resting-place. It is needless to

call attention to the obvious fact that St. Matthew does not mention the birth in

the inn, or the previous journey from Nazareth. It is not necessary to assume

that he was wholly unaware of these circumstances, though I see no difficulty in

the admission that such may have been the case.

       4 "Dant tibi Chaldaei praenuntia munera reges,

               Myrrham homo, rex aurum, suscipe thura Deus." 30 (Ps. Claudian.)

              "Thus, aurum, myrrham, regique, hominique, Deoque,

                Dona ferunt." 31 (Juvenc. Mist. Ev., 249.)

              "Aurea nascenti fuderunt munera regi,

                Thura dedere Deo, myrrham tribuere sepulcro." 32 (Sedulius, ii. 95.)


See, too, Orig c. Cels., p. 47, Iren. iii. 10, and many other ancient fancies in Hof-

mann, Das Leben Jesu nach d. Apokr., p. 128; and others may be found in the

Latin Hymns of Mauburn, &c.


                                A STAR OVER JUDAEA


                               THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                 57






                                       CHAPTER IV.




                              "Salvete flores martyrum

                                    Quos, lucis ipso in limine,

                                    Christi insecutor sustulit, 

                                    Ceu turbo nascentes rosas." 32

                                                                       PRUDENT, De SS. Innocentt.


    WHEN they had offered their gifts, the Wise Men would naturally

have returned to Herod, but being warned of God in a dream, they

returned to their own land another way. Neither in Scripture, nor

in authentic history, nor even in early apocryphal tradition, do we

find any further traces of their existence; but their visit led to very

memorable events.

    The dream which warned them of danger may very probably have

fallen in with their own doubts about the cruel and crafty tyrant who

had expressed a hypocritical desire to pay his homage to the Infant

King; and if, as we may suppose, they imparted to Joseph any hint

as to their misgivings, he too would be prepared for the warning

dream which bade him fly to Egypt to save the young child from

Herod's jealousy.

    Egypt has, in all ages, been the natural place of refuge for all who

were driven from Palestine by distress, persecution, or discontent.

Rhinokolura, the river of Egypt, or as Milton, with his usual exquisite

and learned accuracy, calls it, —


                                         "The brook that parts

                         Egypt from Syrian ground," 1


might have been reached by the fugitives in three days; and once

upon the further bank, they were beyond the reach of Herod's juris-


    Of the flight, and its duration, Scripture gives us no further par-


    1 Milton has, however, been misled by the Word wady, and its translation by

"brook" in our version. Mr. Grove informs me that Rhinocolura, now Wady

el-Areesh) the Nachal Mitzrairm, or "river of Egypt," (Numb. xxxiv. 5, &c.), is a

broad shallow wady with scarcely a trace of a bank. Still, as is usual in desert

valleys a torrent does flow through the bottom of it after winter rains.


58                             THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


ticulars; telling us only that the Holy Family fled by night from

Bethlehem, and returned when Joseph had again been assured by a

dream that it would be safe to take back the Saviour to the land of

His nativity. It is left to apocryphal legends, immortalized by the

genius of Italian art, to tell us how, on the way, the dragons came

and bowed to Him, the lions and leopards adored Him, the roses of

Jericho blossomed wherever His footsteps trod, the palm-trees at His

command bent down. to give them dates, the robbers were overawed

by His majesty, and the journey was miraculously shortened.1 They

tell us further how, at His entrance into the country, all the idols of the

land of Egypt fell from their pedestals with a sudden crash, and lay

shattered and broken upon their faces, and how many wonderful cures

of leprosy and demoniac possession were wrought by His word. All

this wealth and prodigality of superfluous, aimless, and unmeaning

miracle — arising in part from a mere craving for the supernatural,

and in part from a fanciful application of Old Testament prophecies

—furnishes a strong contrast to the truthful simplicity of the Gospel

narrative. St. Matthew neither tells us where the Holy Family abode

in Egypt, nor how long their exile continued; but ancient legends

say that they remained two2 years absent from Palestine, and lived

at Matareeh,3 a few miles north-east of Cairo, where a fountain was

long shown of which Jesus had made the water fresh, and an ancient

sycamore under which they had rested. The Evangelist alludes only

to the causes of their flight and of their return, and finds in the

latter a new and deeper significance for the words of the prophet

Hosea, "Out of Egypt have I called my Son." 4


    1 See the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew xviii:— xxiv.; Arab. Gospel of the Infancy,

xii.— xxv.; B. H. Cowper, The Apocr. Gospels, pp. 56-64,1 8—191; Hofmann,

pp. 140-183. Many of these legends are mere fanciful representations of Ps.

cxlviii. 7; Isa. xi. 6-9; lxv. 25; xix. 1, &c. From the dissemination of the Gospel

of the Infancy in Arabia, many of these fables have exercised a strong influence

on the Mohammedan legends of Jesus. Some of the Rabbis took occasion from

the visit to Egypt to charge Christ with a knowledge of magic. Matathia, in the

Nizzachon, says that as Jesus did not know the Tetragrammaton, or ineffable name

of God, His miracles (the reality of which is not denied) were due to sorcery learnt

in Egypt (Sepp, Leben Jesu, § xiii.). It is hardly worth while to refer to the pre

posterous story in the Toldôth Jeshû (Wagenseil, Tela Ignea, ii. p. 7).

    2 St. Bonaventura (De Vita Christi) says seven years.

    3 This town is sometimes identified with On, or Heliopolis, where lived Asenath,

the wife of Joseph, and where, under the name of Osarsiph, Moses had been a

priest. Onias, at the head of a large colony of Jewish refugees, flying from the

rage of Antiochus, had founded a temple there, and was thus believed to have

fulfilled the prophecy of Isa. six. 19. (Sepp.)

    4 "Finds a new and deeper significance, or, in other words, totally misunder-

stands," is the marginal comment of a friend who saw these pages. And so, no

                                THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                           59


    The flight into Egypt led to a very memorable event. Seeing that

the Wise Men had not returned to him, the alarm and jealousy of

Herod assumed a still darker and more malignant aspect. He had

no means of identifying the royal infant of the seed of David, and

least of all would he have been likely to seek for Him in the cavern

stable of the village khan. But he knew that the child whom the

visit of the Magi had taught him to regard as a future rival of him-

self or of his house was yet an infant at the breast; and as Eastern

mothers usually suckle their children for two years,1 he issued his fell

mandate to slay all the children of Bethlehem and its neighborhood

"from two years old and under." Of the method by which the

decree was carried out we know nothing. The children may have

been slain secretly, gradually, and by various forms of murder; or,

as has been generally supposed, there may have been one single hour

of dreadful butchery.2 The decrees of tyrants like Herod are usually

involved in a deadly obscurity; they reduce the world to a torpor in

which it is hardly safe to speak above a whisper. But the wild wail

of anguish which rose from the' mothers thus cruelly robbed of their

infant children could not be hushed, and they who heard it might well

imagine that Rachel, the great ancestress of their race, whose tomb

stands by the roadside about a file front Bethlehem, once more, as


doubt, it might at first appear to our Western and Northern conceptions and

methods of criticism; but not so to an Oriental and an Analogist. Trained to

regard every word, nay, every letter of Scripture as mystical and divine, accus-

tomed to the application of passages in various senses, all of which were supposed

to be latent, in some mysterious fashion, under the original utterance, St. Matthew

would have regarded his least apparently relevant quotations from, and allusions

to, the Old Testament, not in the light of occasional illustrations, inn in the light

of most solemn prophetic references to the events about which he writes. And

in so doing he would be arguing in strict accordance with the views in which

those for whom he wrote had been trained from their earliest infancy. Nor is

there, even to our modern conceptions, anything erroneous or unnatural the

fact that the Evangelist transfers to the Messiah the language which Hosea had

applied to the ideal Israel. The ideal Israeli. e., the ideal "Jashar" or "Upright

Man"— was the obvious and accepted type of the coming Christ.—The quotation

is from Hosea xi. 1, and St. Matthew has here referred' to the original, and cor-

rected the faulty rendering of the LXX., which is e]c Ai]gu<ptou meteka<lesa ta>

te<kna au]tou? 34  See Excursus XI., "Old Testament Quotations in the Evangelists."

    1 Ketubhoth, 59 b; Mace. vii. 27, "gave thee suck three years." Others refer

the calculation to the previous appearance of the planetary conjunction; and if

this took place A. U. C. 747, and Jesus was born (as is all but certain) A. U. C.

750, it is a curious coincidence that Abarbanel, as we have already mentioned,

places the astrological "aspect" which foreshadowed the birth of Moses three

years before that event took place.

    2 The Protevang. says (xxi. 1) that he dispatched the assassins to Bethlehem

(e@pemye tou>j foneuta<j35 )

60                            THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


in the pathetic image of the prophet, mingled her voice with the

mourning and lamentation of those who wept so inconsolably for

their murdered little ones.1

    To us there seems something inconceivable in a crime so atrocious;

but our thoughts have been softened by eighteen centuries of Chris-

tianity, and such deeds are by no means unparalleled in the history

of heathen despots and of the ancient world. Infanticide of a

deeper dye than this of Herod's was a crime dreadfully rife in the

days of the Empire, and the Massacre of the Innocents, as well as

the motives which led to it, can be illustrated by several circumstances

in the history of this very epoch. Suetonius, in his Life of Augustus,

quotes from the life of the Emperor by his freedman Julius Mara-

thus, a story to the effect that shortly before his birth there was a

prophecy in Rome that a king over the Roman people would soon, be

born. To obviate this danger to the Republic, the Senate ordered

that all the male children born in that year should be abandoned or

exposed; but the Senators, whose wives were pregnant, took means

to prevent the ratification of the statute, because each of them hoped

that the prophecy might refer to his own child.2 Again, Eusebius3

quotes from Hegesippus, a Jew by birth, a story that Domitian,

alarmed by the growing power of the name of Christ, issued an

order to destroy all the descendants of the house of David. Two

grandchildren of St. Jude — "the Lord's brother" – were still

living, and were known as the Desposyni.4 They were betrayed to


    1 Jer. xxxi. 15, applied originally to the Captivity. In this quotation also St.

Matthew has translated freely from the Hebrew original. The remark of Calvin,

that "Matthew does not mean that the prophet had predicted what Herod should do,

but that, at the advent of Christ, that mourning was renewed which many years

before the women of Bethlehem had made," is characterized by his usual strong

and honest common sense, and must be borne in mind in considering several of

the Gospel references to ancient prophecy. It applies to St. Matthew more

strongly than to the other Evangelists. On this, as on other points of exegesis,

there can be no question whatever, in the mind of any competent scholar, that

the theology of the Reformation, and even of the Fathers, was freer, manlier, less

shackled by false theories about inspiration, and less timid of ignorant criticism,

than that which claims to be the sole orthodox theology of the present day.

    2 Suet. Vit. Aug., p. 94. — As history, no doubt the anecdote is perfectly worth-

less, but it is not worthless as illustrating what we otherwise know to have been

possible in an age in which, as is still the case in China, infanticide was hardly

regarded as a disgrace.

    3 Hist. Ecc. iii. 15.

    4 This fact is mentioned by Julius Africanus, who was born at Emmaus, about

the beginning of the third century, and who says that he knew some of the De-

sposyni personally. (Euseb. Hist. Ecc. i. 7.)





                               THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                61


the Emperor by a certain Jocatus, and other Nazaraean heretics, and

were brought into the imperial presence; but when Domitian

observed that they only held the rank of peasants, and that their

hands were hard with manual toil, he dismissed them in safety with

a mixture of pity and contempt.

    Although doubts have been thrown on the Massacre of the Inno-

cents, it is profoundly in accordance with all that we know of

Herod's character. The master-passions of that able but wicked

prince were a most unbounded ambition, and a most excruciating

jealousy.1 His whole career was red with the blood of murder. He

had massacred priests and nobles; he had decimated the Sanhedrin;

he had caused the High Priest, his brother-in-law, the young and

noble Aristobulus, to be drowned in pretended sport before his eyes;

he had ordered the strangulation of his favorite wife, the beautiful

Asmonaean princess Mariamne, though she seems to have been the

only human being whom he passionately loved.2 His sons Alexan-

der, Aristobulus, and Antipater – his uncle Joseph — Antigonus and

Alexander, the uncle and father of his wife — his mother-in-law

Alexandra—his kinsman Cortobanus — his friends Dositheus and

Gadias, were but a few of the multitudes who fell victims to his

sanguinary, suspicious, and guilty terrors. His brother Pheroras and

his son Archelaus barely and narrowly escaped execution by his

orders. Neither the blooming youth of the prince Aristobulus, nor

the white hairs of the king Hyrcanus had protected them from his

fawning and treacherous fury. Deaths by strangulation, deaths by

burning, deaths by being cleft asunder, deaths by secret assassina-

tion, confessions forced by unutterable torture, acts of insolent and

inhuman lust, mark the annals of a reign which was so cruel that, in

the energetic language of the Jewish ambassadors to the Emperor

Augustus, "the survivors during his lifetime were even more misera-

ble than the sufferers." And as in the case of Henry VIII., every

dark and brutal instinct of his character seemed to acquire fresh


   1 Jos. Antt. xvi. 5, § 4.

    2 The feelings of Herod towards Mariamne, who, as a Maccabæan princess, had

far more right to the sovereignty than himself, were not unlike those of Henry VII

towards Elizabeth of York, and in a less degree those of William III, towards

Mary. Herod was well aware that he owed his sovereignty solely to "the

almighty Romans." Aristobulus was murdered at the age of eighteen, Hyrcanus

at the age of eighty; and he hated them alike for their popularity, and for their

Maccabæan origin. More ghosts must have gathered round the dying bed of this

"gorgeous criminal" than those which the fancy of Shakespeare has collected

round the bed of Richard III.

    3 Jos. Antt. xvii. 11, § 2.

62                              THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


intensity as his life drew towards its close. Haunted by- the spectres

of his murdered wife and murdered sons, agitated by the conflict-

ing furies of remorse and blood, the pitiless monster, as Josephus

calls him, was seized in his last days by a black and bitter ferocity,

which broke out against all with whom he came in contact.1 There

is no conceivable difficulty in supposing that such a man – a savage

barbarian with a thin veneer of corrupt and superficial civilization —

would have acted in. the exact manner which St. Matthew describes;

and the belief in the fact receives independent confirmation from

various sources. "On Augustus being informed," says Macrobius,

"that among the boys under two years of age whom Herod ordered to

be slain in Syria, his own son also had been slain," "It is better," said

he "to be Herod's pig (u$n) than his son (ui[o>n)." 2 Although Macro-

bius is a late writer, and made the mistake of supposing that Herod's

son Antipater, who was put to death about the same time as the

Massacre of the Innocents, had actually perished in that mas-

sacre, it is clear that the form in which he narrates the bon mot of

Augustus points to some dim reminiscence of this cruel slaughter.

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.3 Perhaps because it was


    1 Jos. Antt. xvii. 6, § 5, me<laina xolh> au]to>n ^@rei e]pi> pa?sin e]cagriai<

nousa; 36 B. J. i. 30, § 4, e]pto<hto t&? fo<b& kai> pro>j pa?san u[po<noian

e]cer]r[ipti<zeto 37— "Most miserable family, even to the third generation, to be

imbued so deep beyond any other in blood; one steeped in the blood of infant

martyrs, the other in that of John the Baptist, and the third who slew James the

Apostle with the sword – all three conspicuous in the persecution of Christ."

(Williams, The Natic. 132.)

    2 Saturnal. ii. 4, "Augustus cum audisset, inter pueros, quos in Syria Herodes 

infra bimatum (cf. Matt. ii. 16, a]po> dietou?j kai> katwte<rw; Vulg., "a bimatu

et infra ") interfici jussit, filium quoque ejus occisum, ait, Melius est Herodis porcum

(u{n) esse quam puerum (ui[o>n). 38 The pun cannot be preserved in English.

Augustus meant that Herod's pig, since, as a Jew, he could not eat it, would be

safer than his son. Herod had to ask the Emperor's leave before putting his sons

to death; and Antipater, whom he ordered to be executed only five days before

his death, was the third who had undergone this fate.— Macrobius lived about

A. D. 400, but he used early materials, and the pun is almost certainly historical.

    3 The probable number of the Innocents has been extraordinarily exaggerated.

An Æthiopian legend makes them 14,000! Considering that Bethlehem was but

a village of perhaps 2,000 inhabitants, we may safely hope that, even in all its

boundaries, not more than twenty were sacrificed, and perhaps not half that num-

                                 THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                          63


passed over in silence by Nikolans of Damascus, who, writing in the

true spirit of those Hellenizing courtiers, who wanted to make a polit-

ical Messiah out of a corrupt and blood-stained usurper, magnified all

his patron's achievements, and concealed or palliated all his crimes.1

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. The single passage in which he alludes to Him is inter-

polated, if not wholly spurious, and no one can doubt that his silence

on the subject of Christianity was as deliberate as it was dishonest.2

    But although Josephus does not distinctly mention the event, yet

every single circumstance which he does tell us about this very period

of Herod's life supports its probability. At this very time two elo-


ber; especially as the a[po> dietou?j may mean (as Creswell supposes) "just beyond

the age of one year."

    1 Nikolaus was to Herod what Velleius Paterculus was to Tiberius. Josephus's

own opinion of the kind of men who were Herod's creatures and parasites may

be found in his Antt. xvi. 5, § 4. As to Josephus, his own narrative is his worst

condemnation, and De Quincey's estimate of him (Works, vi. 272—275) is not too

severe. His works betray some of the worst characteristics of the Oriental and

the Pharisee. He may have omitted all mention of Christ out of sheer per-

plexity, although he certainly rejected His Messiahship (Orig. c. Cels. i. 35).

Nothing is more common in historians and biographers than the deliberate sup-

pression of awkward and disagreeable facts. Justus of Tiberius, another contem-

porary historian, was also purposely reticent. Does any one doubt the murder

of Crispus because Eusebius takes no notice of it in his life of Constantine? But

perhaps, after all, there is an allusion —though guarded and distant—to this

crime, or at any rate to the circumstances which led to it, in the Antiquitics of

Josephus (xvi. 11, § 7; xvii. 2, § 4), where it is narrated than Herod slew a num-

ber of Pharisees and others because they foretold "how God had decreed that

Herod's government should cease, and his posterity should be deprived of it."

Possibly another allusion (though out of place may be found in xi v. 9, § 4, where

we hear of a clamor against Herod, raised by "The mothers of those who had

been slain by him "

    2 This celebrated passage is as follows:—Antt. xviii. 3 § 3  Fi<gnetai de>

kata> tou?ton to>n xro<non  ]Ihsou?j, sofo>j a]nh>r [dida<skaloj a]nqrw<pwn tw?n su>n

h[don^? ta]lhqh? dexome<nwn] kai> pollou>j me>n tw?n  ]Ioudai<wn pollou>j de> kai>

a]po> tou?  [Ellhnikou? e]phga<geto [ [O Xristo>j, ou$toj h#n] Kai> au]to>n e]n-

dei<cei tw?n prw<twn a]ndrw?n par ] h[mi?n staur&? e]pitetimhko<toj Pila<tou,

ou]k e]pau<santo oi! ge prw ?ton au]to>n a]gaph<santej.  [ ]Efa<nh ga>r au]toi?j

tri<thn e@xwn h[me<ran pa<lin zw ?n, zw?n qei<wn profhtw?n tau ?ta< te kai> a]lla

muri<a peri< au]tou ? qauma<sia ei]rhko<twn] Ei]j e@ti nu ?n tw ?n Xristianw ?n

a]po> tou ?de w]nomasme<nwn ou]k e]pe<lipe to> fu?lon.39 The only other allusion

to Jesus in Josephus is also of dubious authenticity (Antt. xx. 9, § 1), where he

calls James to>n a]delfo>n  ]Ihsou? tou? legome<nou Xristou??.40

64                          THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


quent Jewish teachers, Judas and Matthias, had incited their scholars

to pull down the large golden eagle which Herod had placed above

the great gate of the Temple. Josephus connects this bold attempt

with premature rumors of Herod's death; but Lardner's conjecture

that it may have been further encouraged by the Messianic hopes

freshly kindled by the visit of the Wise Men, is by no means impos-

sible. The attempt, however, was defeated, and Judas and Matthias,

with forty of their scholars, were burned alive. With such crimes

as this before him on every page, Josephus might well have ignored

the secret assassination of a few unweaned infants in a little village.

Their blood was but a drop in that crimson river in which Herod

was steeped to the very lips.

    It must have been very shortly after the murder of the Innocents

that Herod died. Only five days before his death he had made a

frantic attempt at suicide, and had ordered the execution of his eldest

son Antipater. His deathbed, which once more reminds us of Henry

VIII., was accompanied by circumstances of peculiar horror, and it

has been noticed that the loathsome disease1 of which he died is

hardly mentioned in history, except in the case of men who have

been rendered infamous by an atrocity of persecuting zeal.2 On his

bed of intolerable anguish, in that splendid and luxurious palace

which he had built for himself under the palms of Jericho, swollen

with disease and scorched by thirst — ulcerated externally and glow-

ing inwardly with "a soft, slow fire" — surrounded by plotting sons

and plundering shaves, detesting all and detested by all – longing for

death as it release from his tortures, yet dreading it as the beginning

of worse terrors — stung by remorse, yet still unslaked with murder

—a horror to all around him, yet in his guilty conscience a worse

terror to himself – devoured by the premature corruption of an


    1 The morbus pedicularis, or phthiriasis. See Lactantius, De Mortibus persecu-

torum, cap. xxxiii., where, describing the disease of Maximian in terms which

would serve equally well to record what is told us of the death of Herod, he says,

"Percussit eum Deus insanabili plagâ. Nascitur ei ulcus malum in inferiori parte

genitalium, serpitque latius . . . . proxima quæque cancer invadit . . . .

jam non longe pernicies aberat, et inferiora omnia corripuerat. Computrescunt

foriusecus viscera, et in tabem sedes tota dilabitur . . . . Vermes intus cre-

antur. Odor it autem non modo per palatium, sed totam pervadit civitatem."41

There is more and worse, which I spare the reader, especially since it is very

doubtful whether there is such a disease as the morbus pedicularis.—There is

a somewhat similar account of the deathbed of Henry VIII. in Forster's Essay on

Popular Progress. "Now Herod died the worst kind of death, suffering punish-

ment for the shed blood of the children," &c. (Hist. of Jos. the Carpenter, ix.)

    2 E.g., Antiochus Epiphanes, Sylla, Maximian, Diocletian, Herod the Great,

Herod Agrippa, the Duke of Alva, Henry VIII., &c.


                                 THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                          65


anticipated grave — eaten of worms as though visibly smitten by the

finger of God's wrath after seventy years of successful villainy — the

wretched old man, whom men had called the Great, lay in savage

frenzy awaiting his last hour.1 As he knew that none would shed

one tear for he determined that they should shed many for

themselves, and issued an order that, under pain of death, the prin-

cipal families in the kingdom and the chiefs of the tribes should

come to Jericho. They came, and then, shutting them in the hippo-

drome, he secretly commanded his sister Salome that at the moment

of his death they should all be massacred. And so, choking as it were

with blood, devising massacres in its very delirium, the soul of Herod

passed forth into the night.

    In purple robes, with crown and sceptre and precious stones, the

corpse was placed upon its splendid bier, and accompanied with mili-

tary pomp and burning incense to its grave in the Herodium, not far

front the place where Christ was born. Put the spell of the Herodian

dominion was broken, and the people saw how illusory had been its

glittering fascination. The day of Herod's death was, as he had fore-

seen, observed as a festival. His will was disputed; his kingdom

disintegrated; his last order was disobeyed; his sons died for the

most part in infamy and exile; the curse of God was on his house,

and though, by ten wives and many concubines, he seems to have

had nine sons and five daughters, yet within a hundred years the

family of the hierodoulos of Ascalon had perished by disease or vio-

lence, and there was no living descendant to perpetuate his name.2

    If the intimation of Herod's death3 was speedily given to Joseph,

the stay in Egypt must have been too short to influence in any way

the human development of our Lord. This may perhaps be the rea-

son why St. Luke passes it over in silence.


    1 The title first occurs in Jos Antt. xviii. 5, § 4. He was beginning the thirty-

eighth year of his reign. It has been suggested that "the Great" is a mistaken

rendering xbr, "the elder." "Nur aus Missverständniss eines Hebräischen Aus-

druckes;" cf.  [Elki<aj o[ me<gaj, (Antt. viii. 8, § 4). Ewald (Gesch. iv. 473) thinks

that the name may possibly have originated from coins, as Agrippa I. is called

basileu>j me<gaj on a coin. In this case it may merely imply that he was not a

mere tetrarch, or ethnarch, but a king of Palestine — just as Indian princes call

themselves Maharajah. In any case, "L'i pithete de grand que l'histoire lui a

donnée est une amère dérision: sa grandeur consistait à être un magnifique esciave, portant des chaines d'or" 42 (Munk, Palest., 560).

    2 Antipater, father of Herod, is said to have been a hierodoulos or servitor in a

temple of Apollo at Ascalon. Compare the rapid extinction of the sons of Philip

the Fair.

    3 The plural teqnh<kasi may be merely general, or it is perhaps a reference to

Exod. iv. 19.

66                             THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


    It seems to have been the first intention of Joseph to fix his home

in Bethlehem. It was the city of his ancestors, and was hallowed by

many beautiful and heroic associations. It would have been easy to

find a living there by a trade which must almost anywhere have sup-

plied the simple wants of a peasant family. It is true that an Orien-

tal rarely leaves his home, but when he has been compelled by cir-

cumstances to do so, he finds it comparatively easy to settle elsewhere.

Having once been summoned to Bethlehem, Joseph might find a

powerful attraction in the vicinity of the little town to Jerusalem;

and the more so since it had recently been the scene of such memo-

rable circumstances. But, on his way, he was met by the news that

Archelaus ruled in the room of his father Herod.1 The people would

only too gladly have got rid of the whole Idumaean race; at the

worst they would have preferred Antipas to Archelaus. But Augus-

tus had unexpectedly decided in favor of Archelaus, who, though

younger than Antipas, was the heir nominated by the last will of his

father; and as though anxious to show that he was the true son of

that father, Archelaus, even before his inheritance had been con-

firmed by Roman authority, "had," as Josephus' scornfully remarks,

"given to his subjects a specimen of his future virtue, by ordering a

slaughter of 3,000 of his own countrymen at the Temple." It was

clear that under such a government there could be neither hope nor

safety; and Joseph, obedient once more to an intimation of God's

will, seeking once more the original home of himself and Mary,

"turned aside into the parts of Galilee," where, in remote obscu-

rity, sheltered by poverty and insignificance, the Holy Family might

live secure under the sway of another son of Herod – the equally

unscrupulous, but more indolent and indifferent Antipas.


    1 Matt. ii. 22. He was saluted "king" by the army, though he declined the title.

Similarly Josephus gives the name of "kingdom" to the tetrarchy of Lysanias

(B. J. ii. 11, § 5). The word basileu<ei seems, however — if taken quite strictly

— to show that the return from Egypt was very shortly after the flight thither; for

it was only during a short time after his father's death that Archelaus strictly had

the title of king (cf Jos. B. J. ii. 1, § 1). When he went to Rome for the con-

firmation of his title, Augustus only allowed him to be called ethnarch; but before

this time his assumptions of royalty, by sitting on a golden throne, &c., were actu-

ally part of Antipater's charges against him, and at this period Josephus dis-

tinctly calls him the "king" (Antt. xvii. 9, § 2). It is remarkable how near the

Evangelists often seem to be to an inaccuracy, while yet closer inspection shows

them to be, in these very points, minutely accurate.

    2 Antt. xvii. 11, § 2. Augustus afterwards banished him for his tyranny and

insolence, and he died at Vienne in Gaul, A. D. 7 (id. 13, § 2).

    3 Matt. ii 22, a]nexw<rhsen, not "returned," but "retired." The same word is

used of the flight into Egypt (Matt. ii. 14). St. Luke (ii. 39) was either unaware

of the flight into Egypt, or passed it over as having no bearing on his subject.


                                 THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                          67






                                         CHAPTER V.


                                      THE BOYHOOD OF JESUS.


    "Try to become little with the Little One, that. you may increase in stature

with Him."— ST. BONAVENTURA, Vita Christi, ix.

    "Le haut degré de la perfection consiste à participer à l'enfance sacrée de notre

très doux, très humble, et très obéissant Serviteur." 43 —ST. FRANÇOIS DE



    THE physical geography of Palestine is, perhaps, more distinctly

marked than that of any other country in the world. Along the

shore of the Mediterranean runs the Shephelah and the maritime

plain, broken only by the bold spur of Mount Carmel; parallel to

this is a long range of hills, for the most part rounded and feature-

less in their character; these, on their eastern side, plunge into the

deep declivity of El Ghôr, the Jordan valley; and beyond the Jor-

dan valley runs the straight, unbroken, purple line of the mountains

of Moab and Gilead. Thus the character of the country from north

to south may be represented by four parallel bands — the Sea-board,

the Hill country, the Jordan valley, and the Trans-Jordanic range.

    The Hill country, which thus occupies the space between the low

maritime plain and the deep Jordan valley, falls into two great

masses, the continuity of the low mountain-range being broken by

the plain of Jezreel. The southern mass of those limestone hills

forned the land of Judea; the northern, the land of Galilee.

    Gâlîl, in Hebrew, means "a circle," and the name was originally

applied to the twenty cities in the circuit of Kedesh-Naphtali, which

Solomon gave to Hiram in return for his services in transporting

timber, and to which Hiram, in extreme disgust, applied the name

of Cabul, or "disgusting." 1 Thus it seems to have been always the

destiny of Galilee to be despised; and that contempt was likely to

be fostered in the minds of the Jews from the fact that this district

became, from very early days, the residence of a mixed population,

and was distinguished as "Galilee of the Gentiles." 2 Not only


    1 See 1 Kings ix. 13. In Hebrew the word Cabul has no meaning, but it seems

to be put as an equivalent for a Phoenician word to which this meaning is

assigned. Josephus calls it xabalw<n, and explains it ou]k a]re<skon (Antt. viii.

5, § 3).

    2 Compare Judg. iv. 2, "Harosheth of the Gentiles;" and Isa. ix. 1; Matt. iv.

15; 1 Macc. v. 15-27.

68                               THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


were there many Phoenicians and Arabs in the cities of Galilee, but,

in the time of our Lord, there were also many Greeks, and the Greek

language was currently spoken and understood.

    The hills which form the northern limit of the plain of Jezreel

run almost due east and west from the Jordan valley to the Medi-

terranean, and their southern slopes were in the district assigned to

the tribe of Zebulun.

    Almost in the centre of this chain of hills there is a singular cleft

in the limestone, forming the entrance to a little valley. As the

traveller leaves the plain he will ride up a steep and narrow pathway,

broidered with grass and flowers, through scenery which is neither

colossal nor overwhelming, but infinitely beautiful and picturesque.

Beneath him, on the right-hand side, the vale will gradually widen,

until it becomes about a quarter of a mile in breadth. The basin of

the valley is divided by hedges of cactus into little fields and gar-

dens, which, about the fall of the spring rains, wear an aspect of

indescribable calm, and glow with a tint of the richest green.1

Beside the narrow pathway, at no great distance apart from each

other, are two wells, and the women who draw water there are more

beautiful, and the ruddy, bright-eyed shepherd boys who sit or play

by the well-sides, in their gay-colored Oriental costume, are a hap-

pier, bolder, brighter-looking race than the traveller will have seen

elsewhere. Gradually the valley opens into a little natural amphithe-

atre of hills, supposed by some to be the crater of an extinct vol-

cano; and there, clinging to the hollows of a hill, which rises to the

height of some five hundred feet above it, lie, "like a handful of

pearls in a goblet of emerald," the flat roofs and narrow streets of

a little Eastern town. There is a small church; the massive build-

ings of a convent; the tall minaret of a mosque; a clear, abundant

fountain; houses built of white stone, and gardens scattered among

them, umbrageous with figs and olives, and rich with the white and

scarlet blossoms of orange and pomegranate. In spring, at least,

everything about the place looks indescribably bright and soft;

doves murmur in the trees; the hoopoe flits about in ceaseless

activity; the bright blue roller-bird, the commonest and loveliest

bird of Palestine, flashes like a living sapphire over fields which


    1 An early pilgrim, Antoninus Martyr, speaks of Nazareth with a sincerity of

enthusiasm which many a modern traveller would echo. "In civitate tanta est

gratia mulierum Hebraearum ut inter Hebraeas pulcriores non inveniantur, et hoc

a S. Mariâ sibi concessum dicunt   . . . . .             Provincia paradiso similis

in tritico, in frugibus similis Ægypto, sed praecellit in vino et oleo, pomis ac

melle." 44 (Quoted by Caspari, p. 53.)

                               THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                69


are enamelled with innumerable flowers. And that little town is En

Nazirah, Nazareth,1 where the Son of God, the Saviour of man-

kind, spent nearly thirty years of His mortal life. It was, in fact,

His home, His native village for all but three or four years of His

life on earth; the village which lent its then ignominious name to

the scornful title written upon His cross; the village from which He

did not disdain to draw His appellation when He spake in vision to

the persecuting Saul.2 And along the narrow mountain-path which

I have described, His feet must have often trod, for it is the only

approach by which, in returning northwards from Jerusalem, He

could have reached the home of His infancy, youth, and manhood.

    What was His manner of life during those thirty years? It is a

question which the Christian cannot help asking in deep reverence,

and with yearning love; but the words in which the Gospels answer

it are very calm and very few.

    Of the four Evangelists, St. John, the beloved disciple, and St.

Mark, the friend and "son" of St. Peter,3 pass over these thirty

years in absolute, unbroken silence. St. Matthew devotes one chap-

ter to the visit of the Magi, and the Flight into Egypt, and then pro-

ceeds to the preaching of the Baptist. St. Luke alone, after describ-

ing the incidents which marked the presentation in the Temple,

preserves for us one inestimable anecdote of the Saviour's boyhood,

and one inestimable verse descriptive of His growth till He was twelve

years old. And that verse contains nothing for the gratification of

our curiosity; it furnishes us with no details of life, no incidents of

adventure; it tells us only how, in a sweet and holy childhood, "the

child grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the

grace of God was upon Him." To this period of His life, too, we

may apply the subsequent verse, "And Jesus increased in wisdom

and stature, and in favor with God and man." His development

was a strictly human development. He did not come into the world


    1 Nazareth is not mentioned in the old Testament; unless it be identical with

Sarid, which is mentioned as the border of the inheritance of Zebulun in Josh.

xix. 10, 12. The position accurately corresponds, but it is philologically difficult

to suppose that Nazareth is a corruption — as some have suggested—of En Sarid

(the fountain or spring of Sarid). It has been more usually connected with Nët-

ser (a branch), and perhaps in allusion to this St. Jerome compares it to an open-

ing rose, and calls it " the flower of Galilee." It is not once mentioned by


    2 John xix. 19; Luke ii. 51; Acts xxii. 8.

    3 "Marcus, my son" (1 Pet. v. 13). Papias, quoted by Eusebius, says of Mark,

e[rmhneuth>j Pe<trou genome<nouj a]kribw?j e@grayen ou] me<ntoi ta<cei, ta>

u[po> tou ? Xristou ? h} lexqe<nta h} praxqe<nta45 (Hist. Ecc. iii. 40)

70                               THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


endowed with infinite knowledge, but, as St. Luke tells us, "He

gradually advanced in wisdom." 1 He was not clothed with infinite

power, but experienced the weaknesses and imperfections of human

infancy. He grew as other children grow, only in a childhood of

stainless and sinless beauty—"as the flower of roses in the spring of

the year, and as lilies by the waters." 2

    There is, then, for the most part a deep silence in the Evangelists

respecting this period; but what eloquence in their silence! May we

not find in their very reticence a wisdom and an instruction more

profound than if they had filled many volumes with minor details?

    In the first place, we may see in this their silence a signal and

striking confirmation of their faithfulness. We may learn from it

that they desired to tell the simple truth, and not to construct an

astonishing or plausible narrative. That Christ should have passed

thirty years of His brief life in the deep obscurity of a provincial vil-

lage; that He should have been brought up not only in a conquered

land, but in its most despised province; not only in a despised prov-

ince, but in its most disregarded valley; that during all those thirty

years the ineffable brightness of His divine nature should have taber-

nacled among us, "in a tent like ours, and of the same material,"

unnoticed and unknown; that during those long years there should

have been no flash of splendid circumstance, no outburst of amazing

miracle, no "sevenfold chorus of hallelujahs and harping symphonies"

to announce, and reveal, and glorify the coming King – this is not

what we should have expected — not what any one would have been

likely to imagine or to invent.

    We should not have expected it, but it was so; and therefore the

Evangelists leave it so; and the very fact of its contradicting all that

we should have imagined, is an additional proof that so it must have

been. An additional proof, because the Evangelists must inevitably

have been — as, indeed, we know that they were — actuated by the

same à priori anticipations as ourselves; and had there been any

glorious circumstances attending the boyhood of our Lord, they, as

honest witnesses, would certainly have told us of them; and had they

not been honest witnesses, they would—if none such occurred in

     1 Luke ii. 52, proe<kopte sofi<% Cf. Heb. v. 8, e@maqen a]f ] w#n e@paqe. 46

    2 Comp. Ecclus. xxxix. 13, 14, "Hearken unto me, ye holy children, and bud

forth as a rose growing by the brook of the field: and give ye a sweet savor as

frankincense, and flourish as a lily, and send forth a smell, and sing a song of


    3 The terms of Isa. ix. 1, 2, show in what estimation Galilee was held. Keim

also refers to Jos. Antt. xiii. 12, § 1; xiv. 9, § 2.




                           HE GREW AS OTHER CHILDREN GROW
                                THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                           71


reality — have most certainly invented them. But man's ways are not

as God's ways; and because the truth which, by their very silence,

the Evangelists record, is a revelation to us of the ways of God, and

not of man, therefore it contradicts what we should have invented;

it disappoints what, without further enlightenment, we should have

desired. But, on the other hand, it fulfils the ideal of ancient

prophecy, "He shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as

a root out of a dry ground;" and it is in accordance with subsequent

allusion, "He made himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the

form of a servant." 1

    We have only to turn to the Apocryphal Gospels, and we shall

find how widely different is the human ideal from the divine

fact. There we shall see how, following their natural and unspiritual

bent, the fabulists of Christendom, whether heretical or orthodox,

surround Christ's boyhood with a blaze of miracle, make it porten-

tous, terror-striking, unnatural, repulsive. It is surely an astonishing

proof that the Evangelists wore guided by the Spirit of God in telling

how He lived in whom God was revealed to man, when we gradu-

ally discover that no profane, no irreverent, even no imaginative

hand can touch the sacred outlines of that divine and perfect picture

without degrading and distorting it. Whether the Apocryphal

writers meant their legends to be accepted as history or as fiction, it

is at least certain that in most cases they meant to weave around the

brows of Christ a garland of honor. Yet how do their stories dwarf,

and dishonor, and misinterpret Him! How infinitely superior is the

noble simplicity of that evangelic silence to all the theatrical displays

of childish and meaningless omnipotence with which the Protevange-

lium, and the Pseudo-Matthew, and the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy

are full!2 They meant to honor Christ but no invention can

honor Him; he who invents about Him degrades Him; he mixes

the weak, imperfect, erring fancies of man with the unapproachable

and awful purposes of God. The boy Christ of the Gospels is sim-

ple and sweet, obedient and humble; He is subject to His parents;

He is occupied solely with the quiet duties of His home and of His


    1 Isa. liii. 2; Phil. ii. 7.- The Apocryphal Gospels are for the most part mere

worthless Hegadoth, in glorification (1) of the birth and virginity of Mary, (2) of

the childhood, and (3) of the passion of our Lord. They were widely spread

in the East, and traces of them may be found in the Koran (D'Herbelot, Bibl. Ori-

ent. 499).

    2 "Caveat omnia apocrypha. Sciat multa his admixta vitiosa, et grandis esse

prudentiae aurum in luto quaerere." 44 (Jer. Ep. ad Laetam. Praef ad Lib. Regg.).

But, as a friend remarks, aurum in luto quaerere 48 is, in some sad senses, a busi-

ness of life.

72                               THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


age; He loves all men, and all men love the pure, and gracious, and

noble child. Already He knows God as His Father, and the favor

of God falls on Him softly as the morning sun-light, or the dew of

heaven, and plays like an invisible aureole round His infantine and

saintly brow. Unseen, save in the beauty of heaven, but yet covered

with silver wings, and with its feathers like gold, the Spirit of God

descended like a dove, and rested from infancy upon the Holy Child.

    But how different is the boy Christ of the New Testament Apocry-

pha! He is mischievous, petulant, forward, revengeful. Some of

the marvels told of Him are simply aimless and puerile—as when

He carries the spilt water in His robe; or pulls the short board to the

requisite length; or moulds sparrows of clay, and then claps His

hand to make them fly; or throws all the cloths into the dyer's vat,

and then draws them out each stained of the requisite color. But

some are, on the contrary, simply distasteful and inconsiderate, as

when He vexes and shames and silences those who wish to teach Him;

or rebukes Joseph; or turns His playmates into kids: and others are

simply cruel and blasphemous, as when He strikes dead with a curse

the boys who offend or run against Him, until at last there is a storm

of popular indignation, and Mary is afraid to let Him leave the house.

In a careful search through all these heavy, tasteless, and frequently

pernicious fictions, I can find but one anecdote in which there is a

touch of feeling, or possibility of truth; and this alone I will quote

because it is at any rate harmless, and it is quite conceivable that it

may rest upon some slight basis of traditional fact. It is from the

Arabic Gospel of the Infancy, and runs as follows:1

    "Now in the month of Adar, Jesus assembled the boys as if He

were their king; they strewed their garments on the ground, and He

sat upon them. Then they put on His head a crown wreathed of

flowers, and, like attendants waiting upon a king, they stood in

order before Him on His right hand and on His left. And whoever

passed that way the boys took him by force, crying, 'Come hither

and adore the King, and then proceed upon thy way.' "

    Yet I am not sure that the sacredness of the evangelic silence is

not rudely impaired even by so simple a fancy as this: for it was in

utter stillness, in prayerfulness, in the quiet round of daily duties

— like Moses in the wilderness, like David among the sheep-folds,

like Elijah among the tents of the Bedawîn, like Jeremiah in his


    1 Cap. 41.  I quote the translation of Mr. B. Harris Cowper, whose admirable

volume has placed the Apocryphal Gospels within easy reach of all readers, un-

learned as well as learned.

                                 THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                          73


quiet home at Anathoth, like Amos in the sycamore groves of Tekoa

— that the boy Jesus prepared Himself, amid a hallowed obscurity,

for His mighty work on earth. His outward life was the life of all

those of His age, and station, and place of birth. He lived as lived

the other children of peasant parents in that quiet town, and in great

measure as they live now. He who has seen the children of Naza-

reth in their red caftans, and bright tunics of silk or cloth, girded

with a many-colored sash, and sometimes covered with a loose outer

jacket of white or blue he who has watched their noisy and merry

games, and heard their ringing laughter as they wander about the

hills of their little native vale, or play in bands on the hill-side beside

their sweet and abundant fountain, may perhaps form some concep-

tion of how Jesus looked and played when He too was a child. And

the traveller who has followed any of those children — as I have done

— to their simple homes, and seen the scanty furniture, the plain but

sweet and wholesome food, the uneventful, happy patriarchal life,

may form a vivid conception of the manner in which Jesus lived.

Nothing can be plainer than those houses, with the cloves sunning

themselves on the white roofs, and the vines wreathing about them.

The mats, or carpets, are laid loose along the walls; shoes and sandals

are taken off at the threshold; from the centre hangs a lamp which

forms the only ornament of the room; in some recess in the wall is

placed the wooden chest, painted with bright colors, which contains

the books or other possessions of the fancily; on a ledge that runs

round the wall, within easy reach, are neatly rolled up the gay-colored

quilts, which serve as beds, and on the same ledge are ranged the

earthen vessels for daily use; near the door stand the large common

water-jars of red clay with a few twigs and green leaves — often of

aromatic shrubs —thrust into their orifices to keep the water cool.

At meal-time a painted wooden stool is placed in the centre of the

apartment, a large tray is put upon it, and in the middle of the tray

stands the dish of rice ands meat, or libbân, or stewed fruits, from

which all help themselves in common. Both before and after the

meal the servant, or the youngest member of the family, pours water

over the hands from a brazen ewer into a brazen bowl. So quiet, so

simple, so humble, so uneventful was the outward life of the family

of Nazareth.1


  1 Some of these facts have been exquisitely represented by Mr. Holman Hunt in

his truly noble picture, "The Shadow of Death." The above paragraphs were,

however, written before I had seen the picture. Readers of this book may be

interested to know that it was in Palestine, and at the author's request, that Mr.

74                               THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


The reverent devotion and brilliant fancy of the early mediæval

painters have elaborated a very different picture. The gorgeous

pencils of a Giotto and a Fra Angelico have painted the Virgin and

her Child seated on stately thrones, upon floors of splendid mosaic,

under canopies of blue and gold; they have robed them in colors

rich as the hues of summer or delicate as the flowers of spring, and

fitted the edges of their robes with golden embroidery, and clasped

them with priceless gems.1 Far different was the reality. When

Joseph returned to Nazareth he knew well that they were going into

seclusion as well as into safety; and that the life of the Virgin and

the Holy Child would be spent, not in the full light of notoriety or

wealth, but in secrecy,2 in poverty, and in manual toil.

    Yet this poverty was not pauperism; there was nothing in it

either miserable or abject; it was sweet, simple, contented, happy,

even joyous. Mary, like others of her rank, would spill, and cook

food, and go to buy fruit, and evening by evening visit the fountain,

still called after her "the Virgin's fountain," with her pitcher of

earthenware carried on her shoulder or her head. Jesus would play,

and learn, and help His parents in their daily tasks, and visit the

synagogues on the Sabbath days. "It is written," says Luther,

"that there was once a pious godly bishop, who had often earnestly

prayed that God would manifest to him what Jesus had done in His

youth. Once the bishop had a dream to this effect. He seemed in

his sleep to see a carpenter working at his trade, and beside him a

little boy who was gathering up chips. Then came in a maiden

clothed in green, who called them both to come to the meal, and set

porridge before them. All this the bishop seemed to see in his

dream, himself standing behind the door that he might not be per-

ceived. Then the little boy began and said, 'Why does that man

stand there? shall he not also eat with us?' And this so frightened

the bishop that he awoke." "Let this be what it may," adds Luther,

"a true history or a fable, I none the less believe that Christ in His

childhood and youth looked and acted like other children, yet with-

out sin, in fashion like a man." 3


Holman Hunt sketched the two engravings which adorn it. It is not often that a

chance traveller gets the opportunity, as I was fortunate enough to do on several

occasions, of seeing the every-day home life and meals of the inhabitants.

    1 As early as 1679 a monograph was written by Rohr, Pictor errans in Hist.

Sacra; and in 1689, by Hilscher, De erroribus pictorum circa Nativ. Christi.

    2 John vii. 3-5. Work in Galilee is there called work e]n krup&?.49

    3 Cf. St. Bonaventura, Vit. Christi, xii. "Fancy you see Him busied with His

parents in the most servile work of their little dwelling. Did He not help them


                                  THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS

                                 THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                          75


    St. Matthew tells us, that in the settlement of the Holy Family at

Nazareth, was fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophets, "He

shall be called a Nazarene." It is well known that no such passage

occurs in any extant prophecy. If the name implied a contemptuous

dislike — as may be inferred from the proverbial question of Nathan-

ael, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" 1 — then St.

Matthew may be summing up in that expression the various proph-

ecies so little understood by his nation, which pointed to the

Messiah as a man of sorrows. And certainly to this day "Nazarene"

has continued to be a term of contempt. The Talmudists always

speak of Jesus as "Ha-nozeri;" Julian is said to have expressly

decreed that Christians should be called by the less honorable appel-

lation of Galilæans; and to this day the Christians of Palestine are

known by no other title than Nusara.2 But the explanation which

refers St. Matthew's allusion to those passages of prophecy in

which Christ is called "the Branch" (nêtser, rc,ne) seems far more

probable. The village may have derived this name from no other

circumstance than its abundant foliage; but the Old Testament is

full of proofs that the Hebrews – who in philology accepted the

views of the Analogists — attached immense and mystical importance

to mere resemblances in the sound of words. To mention but one

single instance, the first chapter of the prophet Micah turns almost

entirely on such merely external similarities in what, for lack of a

better term, I can only call the physiological quantity of sounds. St.

Matthew, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, would without any hesitation

have seen a prophetic fitness in Christ's residence at this town of

Galilee, because its name recalled the title by which He was

addressed in the prophecy of Isaiah.3


in setting out the frugal board, arranging the simple sleeping-rooms, nay, and in

other yet humbler offices?"

   1 Perhaps in this question, and in the citation of St. Matthew, there may be a

play upon the possible derivation of the name from Nazóra, "despicable."

   2 In the singular, Nusrâny. On the supposed edict of Julian, see Gibbon, ii.

312 (ed. Milman). If we ever passed a particularly ill-conditioned village in

Palestine, my Mohammedan dragoman always rejoiced if he could assure me that

the inhabitants were not Moslim, but Nusâra — which he rarely lost an opportu-

nity of doing. Cf. Acts xxviii. 22.

   3 Isa. xi.1. Tsemach, the word used in Jer. xxiii. 5; Zech. iii. 8, &c., also means

"Branch." Hitzig, with less probability, supposed St. Matthew to allude to Isa.

xlix. 6 (Heb.). The explanation of the passage as = Nazirai?oj, a Nazarite, is

philologically erroneous and historically false; but something may be said for

the derivation from nōtser, "protecting," so that "he who calls Jesus Nazarene

shall, against his will, call Him my 'Saviour,' 'my Protector'" (Bp. Alexander,

76                             THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


    "Shall the Christ come out of Galilee?" asked the wondering

people "Search and look!" said the Rabbis to Nicodemus, "for

out of Galilee ariseth no prophet" (John vii. 41, 52). It would not

have needed very deep searching or looking to find that these words

were ignorant or false; for not to speak of Barak the deliverer, and

Elon the judge, and Anna the prophetess, three, if not four, of the

prophets—and those prophets of the highest eminence, Jonah, Eli-

jah, Hosea, and Nahum—had been born, or had exercised much of

their ministry, in the precincts of Galilee.1 And in spite of the

supercilious contempt with which it was regarded, the little town of

Nazareth, situated as it was in a healthy and secluded valley, yet

close upon the confines of great nations, and in. the centre of a mixed

population, was eminently fitted to be the home of our Saviour's

childhood, the scene of that quiet growth "in wisdom, and stature,

and favor with God and man." 2


Ideas of the Gospels, p. 6).—The vague dia> tw?n profhtw?n 50 of Matt, H. 23 per-

haps admits of more than one reference and explanation. For a fuller disquisi-

tion on the principles of the explanation offered in the text I must refer to my

Chapters on Language (second edition), pp. 229—247, in which I have attempted

to illustrate this difficult and interesting subject.

   1 Jonah was of Gath-hepher (2 Kings xiv. 25), a town of Zebulun (Josh. xix. 10,

13); Hosea is said to have been of Issachar, and was a Northern prophet; Elkosh,

the birthplace of Nahum, was probably in Galilee (Jer. ad Nah. i. 1); Thisbe, the

supposed birthplace of Elijah, was believed to be in Naphthali (Tobit i. 2, but it

is exceedingly uncertain whether bwtm ybwth may not mean "the stranger, from

the strangers ")—at any rate Elijah's main ministry was in Galilee; Elisha was

of Abel-meholah, in the Jordan valley. To get over such flagrant carelessness in

the taunting question of the Jews, some have proposed to give a narrower sig-

nificance to the name Galilee, and make it mean only Upper Galilee, for the

limits of which see Jos. B. J. iii. 3, § 1. Among other great names connected

with Galilee, Keim mentions the philosopher Aristobulus (of Paneas), the Scribe

Nithai of Arbela, Alexander Jannæus, Judas the Gaulonite, and John of Giscala

(Gesch. Jes. i. 317). A legend mentioned by Jerome also connects the family of St.

Paul with Giscala (Jer. De Vir. illustr. 5).

    2 Luke ii. 52. Cf. Prov. iii. 4; Ps. cxi. 10; 1 Sam. ii. 26.

                                 THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                          77






                                         CHAPTER VI.


                                         JESUS IN THE TEMPLE.


    "Omnes venit salvare, infantes, et parvulos, et pueros, et juvenes, et seniores;

ideo per omnem venit aetatem." 51 - IREN. Adv. Haeres. iii. 18.


    EVEN as there is one hemisphere of the lunar surface on which, in its

entirety, no human eye has ever gazed, while at the same time the

moon's librations enable us to conjecture of its general character and

appearance, so there is one large portion of our Lord's life respecting

which there is no full record; yet such glimpses are, as it were,

accorded to us of its outer edge, that from these we are able to under-

stand the nature of the whole.

    Again, when the moon is in crescent, a few bright points are

visible through the telescope upon its unilluminated part; those

bright points are mountain peaks, so lofty that they catch the sun-

light. One such point of splendor and majesty is revealed to us in

the otherwise unknown region of Christ's youthful years, and it is

sufficient to furnish us with a real insight into that entire portion of

His life. In modern language we should call it an anecdote of the

Saviour's confirmation.

    The age of twelve years was a critical age for a Jewish boy. It

was the age at which, according to Jewish legend, Moses had left the

house of Pharaoh's daughter; and Samuel had heard the Voice which

summoned him to the prophetic office; and Solomon had given the

judgment which first revealed his possession of wisdom; and Josiah

had first dreamed of his great reform. At this age a boy of what-

ever rank was obliged, by the injunction of the Rabbis and the cus-

tom of his nation, to learn a trade for his own support. At this age

he was so far emancipated from parental authority that his parents

could no longer sell him as a slave. At this age be became a ben

hat-tôrah, or "son of the Law." Up to this age he was called katôn,

or "little;" henceforth he was gadôl, or "grown up," and was

treated more as a man; henceforth, too, he began to wear the teph-

illin, or "phylacteries," and was presented by his father in the syna-

gogue on a Sabbath, which was called from this circumstance the

shabbath tephillin. Nay, more, according to one Rabbinical treatise,

the Sepher Gilgulîm, up to this age a boy only possessed the

78                              THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


nephesh, or animal life; but henceforth he began to acquire the

ruach, or spirit, which, if his life were virtuous, would develop, at

the age of twenty, into the nishema, or reasonable soul.1

    This period, too — the completion of the twelfth year2 — formed a

decisive epoch in a Jewish boy's education. According to Juda Ben

Tema,3 at five he was to study the Scriptures (Mikra), at ten the

Mishna, at thirteen the Talmud; at eighteen he was to marry, at

twenty to acquire riches, at thirty strength, at forty prudence, and so

on to the end. Nor must we forget, in considering this narrative,

that the Hebrew race, and, indeed, Orientals generally, develop with

a precocity unknown among ourselves, and that boys of this age (as

we learn from Josephus) could and did fight in battle, and that, to

the great detriment of the race, it is, to this day, regarded as a mar-

riageable age among the Jews of Palestine and Asia Minor.

    Now it was the custom of the parents of our Lord to visit Jerusa-

lem every year at the feast of the Passover. Women were, indeed,

not mentioned in the law which required the annual presence of all

males at the three great yearly feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and

Tabernacles; but Mary, in pious observance of the rule recommended

by Hillel,4 accompanied her husband every year, and on this occasion

they took with them the boy Jesus, who was beginning to be of an

age to assume the responsibilities of the Law. We can easily imag-

ine how powerful must have been the influence upon His human

development of this break in the still secluded life; of this glimpse

into the great outer world; of this journey through a land of which

every hill and every village teemed with sacred memories; of this

first visit to that Temple of His rather which was associated with so

many mighty events in the story of the kings His ancestors and the

prophets His forerunners.


    1 Fol. 40, 1. Sepp is my authority for these particulars. These roughly cor-

respond to Philo's division of life into the logikh> e!cij, a@krwj telei<wsij, 52 and

a]kmh>, 53 or pe<raj au]ch<sewj.54 This incident preserved for us by St. Luke is of

inestimable value as discountenancing that too-prevalent Apollinarian heresy

which denies to Christ the possession of a human soul (a]lhqw?j), and gives Him only

the Lo<goj in lieu of it. It is as much the object of the Gospels to reveal to us

that He was tele<wj (man), as that He was a]lhqw?j (God). (See Hooker, Eccl. Pol.

i. 614, ed. Keble.) – It should be observed that the word used in Luke ii. 40 is

plhrou<menon, implying a course of growth in wisdom, not peplhrwme<non, imply-

ing a finished and permanent result.

    2 Peplhrwkw>j e@toj h@dh duwde<katon 55 (Jos. Antt. ii. 9, § 6; v. 10, § 4), the

instances of Moses and Samuel. (Kelm, i. 416.)

    3 Pirke Abhôth, v. 21.

        Caspari, p 64.-"Pascha feminarum est arbitrarium" 56 (Kiddushin, f. 61, 3).


                                  THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                         79


    Nazareth lies from Jerusalem at a distance of about eighty miles,

and, in spite of the intense and jealous hostility of the Samaritans, it

is probable that the vast caravan of Galilean pilgrims on their way

to the feast would go by the most direct and the least dangerous

route, which lay through the old tribal territories of Manasseh and

Ephraim.1 Leaving the garland of hills which encircle the little

town in a manner compared by St. Jerome to the petals of an open-

ing rose, they would descend. the narrow flower-bordered limestone

path into the great plain of Jezreel. As the Passover falls at the

end of April and the beginning of May, the country would be wear-

ing its brightest, greenest, loveliest aspect, and the edges of the vast

cornfields on either side of the road through the vast plain would be

woven, like the high Priest's robe, with the blue and purple and

scarlet of innumerable flowers.2 Over the streams of that ancient

river, the river Kishon — past Shunem, recalling memories of Elisha

as it lay nestling on the southern slopes of Little Hermon —past

royal Jezreel, with the sculptured sarcophagi that alone bore witness

to its departed splendor — past the picturesque outline of bare and

dewless Gilboa—past sandy Taanach, with its memories of Sisera

and Barak — past Megiddo, where He might first have seen the hel-

mets and broadswords and eagles of the Roman legionary — the road

would lie to En-Gannîm, where, beside the fountains, and amid the

shady and lovely gardens which still mark the spot, they would proba-

bly have halted for their first night's rest. Next day they would

begin to ascend the mountains of Manasseh, and crossing the "Drown-

ing Meadow" as it is now called, and winding through the rich fig-

yards and olive-groves that fill the valleys round El Jib, they would

leave upon the right the hills which, in their glorious beauty, formed

the "crown of pride" of which Samaria boasted, but which, as the

prophet foretold, should be as a "fading flower." Their second

encampment would probably be near Jacob's well, in the beautiful

and fertile valley between Ebal and Gerizim, and not far from the

ancient Shechem. A third day's journey would take them past Shiloh

and Gibeah of Saul and Bethel to Beeroth; and from the pleasant

springs by which they would there encamp a short and easy stage would


    1 Two other routes were open to them: one by the sea-coast, past Carmel and

Cæsarea to Joppa, and so across the plain to Jerusalem; the other to Tiberias,

and then on the eastern bank of the Jordan to the fords of Bethabara. Both of

these routes were longer, less frequented, and more liable to the attacks of rov-

ing bands.

    2 It was at this time of year that the author visited in 1870 the scenes he is

here describing. In the year A. D. 8 the Passover began on April 8.


80                              THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


bring them in sight of the towers of Jerusalem. The profane

plumage of the eagle-wings of Rome was already overshadowing the

Holy City; but, towering above its walls, still glittered the great

Temple, with its gilded roofs and marble colonnades, and it was still

the Jerusalem of which royal David sang, and for which the exiles

by the waters of Babylon had yearned with such deep emotion, when

they took their harps from the willows to wail the remorseful dirge

that they would remember her until their right hands forgot their

cunning. Who shall fathom the unspeakable emotion with which

the boy Jesus gazed on that memorable and never-to-be-forgotten


    The numbers who flocked to the Passover from every region of

the East might be counted by tens of thousands.1 There were far

more than the city could by any possibility accommodate; and then,

as now at Eastertime, vast numbers of the pilgrims reared for them-

selves the little succôth — booths of mat, and wicker-work, and inter-

woven leaves, which provided them with a sufficient shelter for all

their wants. The feast lasted for a week — a week, probably, of

deep happiness and strong religious emotion; and then, with their

mules, and horses, and asses, and camels, the vast caravan would clear

away their temporary dwelling-places, and start on the homeward

journey. The road was enlivened by mirth and music. They often

beguiled the tedium of travel with the sound of drums and timbrels,

and paused to refresh themselves with dates, or melons, or cucum-

bers, and water drawn in skins and waterpots from every springing

well and running stream. The veiled women and the stately old

men are generally mounted, while their sons or brothers, with long

sticks in their hands, lead along by a string their beasts of burden.

The boys and children sometimes walk and play by the side of their

parents, and sometimes, when tired, get a lift on horse or mule. I

can find no trace of the assertion or conjecture2 that the women, and


    1 Josephus (Bell. Jud. ii. 1, § 3) calls them "an innumerable multitude;" and

in vi. 9, § 3, he mentions the very remarkable fact that Cestius, in order to give

Nero some notion of the power of the city, had asked the chief priests to count

the number of paschal lambs offered at the Passover, and found that there were

no less than 256,500! which (allowing a general average of rather more than ten

to each lamb, whereas there were sometimes as many as twenty) would make

the number of worshippers no less than 2,700,200, exclusive of all foreigners, and

all who were ceremonially unclean, &c. The assertion that Agrippa reckoned

12,000,000 worshippers by counting the kidneys of the lambs offered, is one of the

usual Rabbinic exaggerations.

    2 Which first occurs, I believe, in Bede.


                                 THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                           81


boys, and men formed three separate portions of the caravan, and

such is certainly not the custom in modern times. But, in any case,

among such a sea of human beings, how easy would it be to lose one

young boy! 1

    The apocryphal legend says that on the journey from Jerusalem

the boy Jesus left the caravan and returned to the Holy City.2 With

far greater truth and simplicity St. Luke informs us that — absorbed

in all probability in the rush of new and elevating emotions — He

"tarried behind in Jerusalem." A day elapsed before the parents3

discovered their loss; this they would not do until they arrived at

the place of evening rendezvous, and all day long they would be free

from all anxiety, supposing that the boy was with some other group

of friends or relatives in that long caravan. But when evening

came, and their diligent inquiries4 led to no trace of Him, they would

learn the bitter fact that He was altogether missing from the band

of returning pilgrims. The next day, in alarm and anguish — per-

haps, too, with some sense of self-reproach that they had not been

more faithful to their sacred charge—they retraced their steps to

Jerusalem. The country was in a wild and unsettled state. The

ethnarch Archelaus, after ten years of a cruel and disgraceful reign,

had recently been deposed by the Emperor, and banished to Vienne,

in Gaul. The Romans had annexed the province over which he had

ruled, and the introduction of their system of taxation by Coponius,

the first procurator, had kindled the revolt which, under Judas of

Gamala and the Pharisee Sadoc, wrapped the whole country in a

storm of sword and flame.5 This disturbed state of the political hori-

zon would not only render their journey more difficult when once


    1 The incident constantly occurs to this day in the annual expeditions of the pil-

grims to bathe in the fords of Jordan. At Easter I met hundreds of Mohamme-

dan pilgrims streaming southwards to the "Tomb of Moses."

    2 Lange here particularizes too much, both in assuming that there was a sepa-

rate company of boys , and that "the Child — He knew not how — fell out of the

train of boys, and went on, led by the Spirit, meditating, longing, attracted, and

carried along by His own infinite thoughts until He stood in the Temple, in the

midst of the Rabbis."

    3 The proper reading of Luke ii. 43 is almost certainly of oi[ gonei?j 57 which has

for dogmatic reasons been dishonestly altered  ]Iwsh>f kai> h[ mh<thr au]tou?58

(see Lightfoot, Rev. of the New Test., p. 29). The place where they first halted

might very well be, as tradition says, El Bîreh, the ancient Beeroth, about six miles

north of Jerusalem.

    4 Luke ii. 44, a]nezh<toun.

    5 The insurrection of Judas was A. D. 6 — i. e., only two years before this event.

It will be seen (Exc. I. infr., "The date of Christ's Birth" that A. U. C. 750

(B. C. 4) seems to me the almost certain date of the Nativity.

82                             THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


they had left the shelter of the caravan, but would also intensify their

dread lest, among all the wild elements of warring nationalities

which at such a moment were assembled about the walls of Jerusa-

lem, their Son should have met with harm. Truly on that day of

misery and dread must the sword have pierced through the virgin

mother's heart!

    Neither on that day, nor during the night, nor throughout a con-

siderable part of the third day, did they discover Him, till at last

they found Him in the place which, strangely enough, seems to have

been the last where they searched for Him in the Temple, "sit-

ting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them

questions; and all that heard Him were astonished at His under-

standing and answers."

    The last expression, no less than the entire context, and all that

we know of the character of Jesus and the nature of the circumstances,

shows that the Boy was there to inquire and learn —not, as the

Arabic Gospel of the Infancy1 represents it, to cross-examine the

doctors "each in turn"— not to expound the number of the spheres

and celestial bodies, and their natures and operations — still less to

"explain physics and metaphysics, hyperphysics and hypophysics" (!)

All these are but the Apollinarian fictions of those who preferred their

heretical and pseudo-reverential fancies of what was fitting, to the

simple truthfulness with which the Evangelist lets us see that Jesus,

like other children, grew up in gradual knowledge, consistently with

the natural course of human development. He was there, as St. Luke

shows us, in all humility and reverence to His elders, as an eager-

hearted and gifted learner, whose enthusiasm kindled their admira-

tion, and whose bearing won their esteem and love.2 All tinge of


    1 Ch. xlviii.—lii. Not of this kind was the wisdom in which He grew. "La

sagesse dont il est question, ce n'est pas la sagesse selon le monde mais la sagesse

selon Dieu. Ce n'est ni cette philosophie superbe dont se vantait la Grèce, et

qu'elle inculquait si soigneusement à la génération naissaute; ni cette prudence

de la vie, par laquelle les enfants de ce siècle surpassent les enfants de la lumière;

ni cette instruction des livres que les hommes d’étude ramassent aver tant de

travail; ni même la connaissance speculative de Dieu et des saints mystêres de

sa Parole. Il s’agit ici de cette sagesse si souvent louée dans les livres du roi

Salomon, dont la première lecon est, 'Crains Dieu, et garde ses commande-

ments.'" 59 (Adolphe Monod, Enfance de Jesus, p. 9.)

    2 "The Rabbis themselves said," observes Stier, "that the word of God out of

the mouths of children is to be received as from the mouth of the Sanhedrin, of

Moses, of the Blessed God Himself " (Bammidbar Rabba,14). (Stier, Words of the

Lord Jesus, i. 20, E. Tr.) — Anything like forwardness in boys was peculiarly die-

tasteful to the Jews (Abhôth, v. 12, 15).


                                  THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                       83


arrogance and forwardness was utterly alien to His character, which,

from His sweet childhood upward, was meek and lowly of heart.

Among those present may have been—white with the snows of

well-nigh a hundred years — the great Hillel, one of the founders of

the Masôrah, whom the Jews almost reverence as a second Moses;

and his son the Rabban Simeon, who thought so highly of silence;

and his grandson, the refined and liberal Gamaliel; and Shammai,

his great rival, a teacher who numbered a still vaster host of disci-

ples; and Hanan, or Annas, son of Seth, His future judge; and

Boethus, the father-in-law of Herod; and Babha Ben Butah, whose

eyes Herod had put out; and Nechaniah Ben Hiskanah, so celebrated

for his victorious prayers; and Johanan Ben Zaccliai, who predicted

the destruction of the Temple; and the wealthy Joseph of Arima-

tltea; and the timid but earnest Nicodemus; and the youthful Jon-

athan Ben Uzziel, who subsequently wrote the celebrated Chaldee

paraphrase, and was held by his contemporaries in boundless honor.1

But though none of these might conjecture Who was before them

— and though hardly one of them lived to believe on Him, and some

to oppose Him in years to come — which of them all would not have

been charmed and astonished at a glorious and noble-hearted boy, in

all the early beauty of his life, who, though He had never learned in

the schools of the Rabbis, yet showed so marvellous a wisdom, and

so deep a knowledge in all things Divine?2

    Here then—perhaps in the famous Lishcath haggazzîth, or

"Hall of Squares" — perhaps in the Chanujôth, or "Halls of Pur-

chase," or in one of the spacious chambers assigned to purposes of


    1 Sepp, Leben Jesu, i. § 17; but I do not pledge myself to the exactitude of his

conjecture in this enumeration. For some further allusions to these Rabbis with

Talmudic references to the traditions about them, see Etheridge's Hebrew Litera-

ture, p. 38. In a blasphemous Jewish book, the Toldóth Jeshû (which is not older

than the thirteenth century, though Voltaire supposed it to belong to the first),

Hillel and Shammai are represented as having reproved Jesus for having come into

the Temple with His head uncovered. Nothing whatever new or true respecting

Jesus is to be learnt from the Talmud (see Excursus 1L, infr., "Christ and Chris-

tians in the Talmud"), and least of all from this sickening and worthless piece of

blasphemy, which he who wills may read in Wagenseil's Tela Ignea Satanae,


    2 Incidents somewhat similar in their external circumstances were by no means

unknown. They are narrated of R. Eliezer Ben Azaria, a descendant in the tenth

generation of Ezra; and of R. Ashe, the first compiler of the Babylonian Talmud.

(Stipp, Leben Jesu, ebi supr.) Josephus (Vita, 2), with the imperturbable egotism

and naive self-complacency which characterized him, narrates how, when he was

about fourteen years of age, the chief priests and Rabbis at Jerusalem frequently

visited him to hear the understanding with which he answered the most difficult

questions on the hidden meaning of the Law.


84                              THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


teaching1 which adjoined the Court of the Gentiles — seated, but

doubtless at the feet of his teachers, on the many-colored mosaic

which formed the floor, Joseph and Mary found the Divine Boy.

Filled with that almost adoring spirit of reverence for the great

priests and religious teachers of their day which characterized at this

period the simple and pious Galilæans, they were awe-struck to find

Him, calm and happy, in so august a presence.2 They might, indeed,

have known that He was wiser than His teachers, and transcendently

more great; but hitherto they had only known Him as the silent,

sweet, obedient child, and perhaps the incessant contact of daily life

had blunted the sense of His awful origin. Yet it is Mary, not

Joseph, who alone ventures to address Him in the language of tender

reproach. "My child, why dost Thou treat us thus? see, thy father

and I were seeking Thee with aching hearts." 3 And then follows

His answer, so touching in its innocent simplicity, so unfathomable in

its depth of consciousness, so infinitely memorable as furnishing us

with the first recorded words of the Lord Jesus:

   "Why is it that ye were seeking me?  Did ye not know that I

must be about my Father's business?" 4

    This answer, so divinely natural, so sublimely noble, bears upon

itself the certain stamp of authenticity. The conflict of thoughts

which it implies; the half-vexed astonishment which it expresses

that they should so little understand Him; the perfect dignity, and

yet the perfect humility which it combines, lie wholly beyond the

possibility of invention. It is in accordance, too, with all His min-

istry—in accordance with that utterance to the tempter, "Man shall

not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of

the mouth of God," and with that quiet answer to the disciples by

the well of Samaria, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent

me, and to finish His work." Mary had said unto Him, "Thy

father," but in His reply He recognizes, and henceforth He knows,

no father except His Father in heaven. In the "Did ye not know,"

He delicately recalls to them the fading memory of all that they did


    1 The Lishcath haggazzîth was a basilica of hewn square stones (built B. C.

110 by Simon Ben Shetach), in which both priests and Sanhedrin met, till they

were transferred to the chanujôth. It opened both on the Court of the Priests

and on that of the Gentiles. (Joma, 25 a; Shabbah, 15 a, in Ginsburg, s. v. "San-

hedrin," Kitto's Cyclop.)

    2 The word is a strong one, e]cepla<ghsan (Luke ii. 48).

    3 Luke ii. 48, o]dunw<menoi e]chtou?men.59

    4 e]n toi?j tou ? patro< mou, sc. pra<gmasin (Luke ii. 49). It might mean "in

my father's house;" but the other rendering is wider and better. Cf. 1 Tim. iv.

15; Gen. xli. 51, LXX.

                                 THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                          85


know; and in that "I must," He lays down the sacred law of self-

sacrifice by which He was to walk, even unto the death upon the


    "And they understood not the saying which He spake unto

them." They — even they – even the old man who had protected His

infancy, and the mother who knew the awful secret of His birth —

understood not, that is, not in their deeper sense, the significance of

those quiet words. Strange and mournful commentary on the first

recorded utterance of the youthful Saviour, spoken to those who

were nearest and dearest to Him on earth! Strange, but mourn-

fully prophetic of all His life: — "He was in the world, and the

world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came

unto His own, and His own received Him not." 1

    And yet, though the consciousness of His Divine parentage was

thus clearly present in His mind — though one ray from the glory

of His hidden majesty had thus unmistakably flashed forth — in all

dutiful simplicity and holy obedience "He went down with them,

and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them."


    1 John i. 10, 11. It should be rather "unto His own possessions (ei]j ta> i@dia).

and His own people (oi[ i@dioi) received Him not."

86                              THE LIFE OF CHRIST.







                                       CHAPTER VII.


                                    THE HOME AT NAZARETH.


Au]ca<nwn kata> to> koino>n a[pa<ntwn a]nqrw<pwn.60 – JUST. MART. Dial. c.

Tryph. 88.


    SUCH, then, is the "solitary floweret out of the wonderful enclosed

garden of the thirty years, plucked precisely there where the swollen

bud, at a distinctive crisis, bursts into flower." 1

    But if of the first twelve years of His human life we have only

this single anecdote, of the next eighteen years of His life we possess

no record whatever save such as is implied in a single word.

That word occurs in Mark vi. 3: "Is not this the carpenter?" 2

We may be indeed thankful that the word remains, for it is full

of meaning, and has exercised a very noble and blessed influence

over the fortunes of mankind. It has tended to console and sanctify

the estate of poverty; to ennoble the duty of labor; to elevate the

entire conception of manhood, as of a condition which in itself alone,

and apart from every adventitious circumstance, has its own gran-

deur and dignity in the sight of God.

    1. It shows, for instance, that not only during the three years of

His ministry, but throughout the whole of His life, our Lord was


    1 Stier, i. 18.

    2 It is, no doubt, on dogmatical grounds that this was altered into "the son of

the carpenter" in the later MSS., though not in a single uncial. Some were

offended that the Lord of All should have worked in the shop of a poor artisan;

but how alien to the true spirit of Christianity is this feeling of offence! Origen,

indeed, says (c. Cels. vi. 36) that nowhere in the Gospels is Jesus himself called a

carpenter; but this is probably a mere slip of memory, or may only prove how

early the Christians grew ashamed of their Divine Master's condescension, and

how greatly they needed the lessons which it involves. That even "the carpen-

ter's son" became a term of reproach among the Gentiles, is clear from the story

of Libanius's question to a Christian during Julian's expedition into Persia,

"What is the Carpenter's Son doing now?" The Christian answered, "He is

making a coffin;" and soon came the news of Julian's death. The omission of

Joseph's name in Mark vi. 3 has been universally accepted as an indication that

he was dead; otherwise we might suppose that something contemptuous was

intended by only mentioning the mother's name (see Ewald, Gram. Arabica, ii. 4,

note). For this reference I am indebted to Mr. C. J. Monro.

                                   THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                        87


poor. In the cities the carpenters would be Greeks, and skilled

workmen; the carpenter of a provincial village — and, if tradition

be true, Joseph was "not very skilful" — can only have held a very

humble position and secured a very moderate competence.1 In all

ages there has been an exaggerated desire for wealth; an exaggerated

admiration for those who possess it; an exaggerated belief of its

influence in producing or increasing the happiness of life; and

from these errors a flood of cares and jealousies and meannesses have

devastated the life of man. And therefore Jesus chose voluntarily

"the low estate of the poor" — not, indeed, an absorbing, degrading,

grinding poverty, which is always rare, and almost always remedi-

able, but that commonest lot of honest poverty, which, though it

necessitates self-denial, can provide with ease for all the necessaries

of a simple life. The Iduman dynasty that had usurped the throne

of David might indulge in the gilded vices of a corrupt Hellenism,

and display the gorgeous gluttonies of a decaying civilization; but He

who came to be the Friend and the Saviour, no less than the King

of All, sanctioned the purer, better, simpler traditions and customs

of His nation,2 and chose the condition in which the vast majority of

mankind have ever, and must ever live.

    2. Again, there has ever been, in the unenlightened mind, a love

of idleness; a tendency to regard it as a stamp of aristocracy; a

desire to delegate labor to the lower and weaker, and to brand it

with the stigma of inferiority and contempt.3 But our Lord wished

to show that labor is a pure and a noble thing; it is the salt of life;


    1 Arab. Gosp. Inf. xxxviii. Unfortunately, Pagan writers do not add one single

fact to our knowledge of the life of Jesus (Tac. Ann. xv. 44; Plin. Epp. x. 97

Suet. Claud. 25; Lucian, De Mort. Peregr. 11; Lamprid. Alex. Sev. 29, 43). A few

passages in the Vera Hist. of the Pseudo-Lucian are probably meant to ridicule

Gospel narratives, and a few passages in the Life of Apollonius of Tyana by

Philostratus, and the Life of Pythagoras by Jamblichus — the "cloudy romances

of Pagan sophists"— are perhaps intended by way of parallel. Jewish writers are

just as barren. Josephus and Justus of Tiberias passed over the subject with

obvious and unworthy reticence. The Talmudists simply preserved or invented

a few turbid and worthless calumnies.

    2 Philo. in Flac. 977 f.

    3 To the Greeks and Romans all mechanical trade was ba<nausoj, i. e., mean,

vulgar, contemptible, and was therefore left to slaves. The Jews, with a truer

and nobler wisdom, enacted that every boy should learn a trade, and said with R.

Juda b. Ilai, "the wise," that "labor honors the laborer." Saul was a tentmaker.

Up to the age of forty, R. Johanan, son of Zakkai, afterwards president of the

Sanhedrin, was, like Maliomet; a merchant; the Rabbis Juda and Menahem were

bakers; R. Eliezer, supreme president of the schools of Alexandria, was a smith

R, Ismael, a needle-maker; R. Joza Ben Chalaphta, a tanner. (Sepp, § 19; Gins-

burg, in Kitto's Cyclop., s. v. "Education"). The rabbis even assumed and

88                             THE LIFE OF CHRIST.


it is the girdle of manliness; it saves the body from effeminate lan-

guor, and the soul from polluting thoughts. And therefore Christ

labored, working with His own hands, and fashioned ploughs and

yokes for those who needed them. The very scoff of Celsus against

the possibility that He should have been a carpenter who carne to

save the world,1 shows how vastly the world has gained from this

very circumstance — how gracious and how fitting was the example

of such humility in One whose work it was to regenerate society, and

to make all things new.

    3. Once more, from this long Silence, from this deep obscurity,

from this monotonous routine of an unrecorded and uneventful life,

we were meant to learn that our real existence in the sight of God

consists in the inner and not in the outer life. The world hardly

attaches any significance to any life except those of its heroes and

benefactors, its mighty intellects, or its splendid conquerors. But

these are, and must ever be, the few. One raindrop of myriads fall-

ing on moor or desert, or mountain — one snowflake out of myriads

melting into the immeasurable sea — is, and must be, for most men

the symbol of their ordinary lives. They die, and barely have they

died, when they are forgotten; a few years pass, and the creeping

lichens eat away the letters of their names upon the churchyard

stone; but even if those crumbling letters were still decipherable,

they would recall no memory to those who stand upon their graves.

Even common and ordinary men are very apt to think themselves of

much importance; but, on the contrary, not even the greatest man

is in any degree necessary, and after a very short space of time —


                               "His place, in all the pomp that fills

                                The circuit of the summer hills,

                                Is that his grave is green."


    4. A relative insignificance, then, is, and must be, the destined lot

of the immense majority, and many a man might hence be led to


rejoiced in the titles of R. Johanan, the shoemaker; R. Simon, the weaver, &c.

Labor and learning were, in the eyes of the Rabbis, good antidotes against sinful

thoughts (Pirke Abhôth, fol. 2, 2). – Even the Rabbis, however, were not far

enough advanced to honor labor without learning, and, as we shall see hereafter,

they spoke contemptuously of uneducated artisans and common tillers of the soil

(vid. infra, p. 92).

    1 Justin Mart. Dial c. Tryph. 88, tektonika> e@rga ei]rga<zeto e]n a]nqrw<poij w@n,

A@rotra kai> zu<ga, dia> tou<twn ta> th?j dikaiosu<nhj su<mbola dida<skwn kai>

e]nergh? Bi<on.61 (There is no necessity, with Neander, to translate zu<ga, "scales.")

The supposed allusions to the trade of a carpenter in Matt. vi. 27; Luke xxiii. 31,

&c., are obviously too vague to have any bearing on this question.

                                 THE LIFE OF CHRIST.                                           89


think, that since he fills so small a space – since, for the vast masses

of mankind, he is of as little importance as the ephemerid which

buzzes out its little hour in the summer noon — there is nothing bet-

ter than to eat, and drink, and die. But Christ came to convince us

that a relative insignificance may be an absolute importance. He

came to teach that continual excitement, prominent action, distin-

guished services, brilliant success, are no essential elements of true

and noble life, and that myriads of the beloved of God are to be

found among the insignificant and the obscure. "Si vis divinus

esse, late ut Deus," 62 is the encouraging, consoling, ennobling lesson

of those voiceless years. The calmest and most unknown lot is often

the happiest, and we may safely infer that these years in the home

and trade of the carpenter of Nazareth were happy years in our

Saviour's life. Often, even in His later days, it is clear that His

words are the words of one who rejoiced in spirit; they are words

which seem to flow from the full river of an abounding happiness.

But what must that happiness have been in those earlier days, before

the storms of righteous anger had agitated His unruffled soul, or His

heart burned hot with terrible indignation against the sins and hypoc-

risies of men? "Heaven," as even a Confucius could tell us, "means

principle;" and if at all times innocence be the only happiness, how

great must have been the happiness of a sinless childhood! "Youth,"

says the poet-preacher, "danceth like a babble, nimble and gay, and

shineth like a dove's neck, or the image of a rainbow which bath no

substance, and whose very image and colors are fantastical." And

if this description be true of even a careless youth, with what trans-

cendently deeper force must it apply to the innocent, the sinless, the

perfect youth of Christ? In the case of many myriads, and

assuredly not least in the case of the saints of God, a sorrowful and

stormy manhood has often been preceded by a calm and rosy dawn.

    5. And while they were occupied manually, we have positive evi-

dence that these years were not neglected intellectually. No import-

ance can be attached to the clumsy stories of the Apocryphal Gos-

pels, but it is possible that some religious and simple instruction may

have been given to the little Nazarenes by the sopherim, or other

attendants of the synagogue;2 and here our Lord, who was made


    1 "Tu homo, TANTUM NOMEN, si intelligas te" 63 (Tort. Apol. adv. Gent. xlviii.)


                              "We are greater than we know."— Wordsworth .


    2 The Talmud certainly proves their later existence, and that the sopherim and