Friday, November 30, 2018

Evan Roberts: Enemy of the Welsh Revival, Part 20 of 22


While Pentecostals, feminists, and advocates of ecumenicalism had much to cherish from the work of Evan Roberts, his work had many critics among Baptists and other advocates of the older orthodoxy and theology of revival.  Critics of Evan Roberts affirmed that his work was destroying a genuine revival movement in Wales that had already been taking place, “particularly, though not exclusively, among the Baptists . . . prior to Roberts beginning his mission.”[1] They thought that “[d]elusions and extravagances in various forms were countenanced and even fostered . . . the wave of inordinate emotionalism with its accompanying evils . . . undoubtedly was one of the causes that silenced the Spirit, and drove [Him] from among the people.”[2]  They argued that “violent bodily exercises . . . contortions and prostrations . . . did not possess any specific spiritual value, and did not convey any moral lesson[,] [nor left any] salutary impression . . . behind[,] [but were] the weakness of man rather than the power of God.”[3]  For example, Roberts’s opponents affirmed his work “sounded the death-knell of the Revival in the Avan Valley.  The flame was there, but it was extinguished.  The tide began to ebb, and ebb it did; and the last state of that Church is worse than the first.”[4]  At “Zoar, Neath,” church leaders and congregants averred, “[Roberts] has spoilt our meeting,” as “people seemed to have turned their faces away from God, and were looking to the Revivalist.”[5]  In “[n]umerous other instances . . . vast multitudes . . . [experienced] the Revival wave, feeling that they were face to face with the realities of life, conscious of the Divine presence in their midst, only to be told by Evan Roberts within five minutes of his appearance that the Holy Spirit was not there, because they had hindered His operations and refused to give obedience.”[6]  The “Tabernacle Baptist Church on the Hayes, Cardiff” was a “case in point” of the fact that “in the majority of cases [Roberts’s] appearances had a dispiriting effect.  Many were converted who had neither seen nor heard Evan Roberts; and some of the most successful meetings were held in the districts and towns to which Evan Roberts had refused to go on the ground that the Holy Spirit had not given him any message for them.”[7]  In those “Nonconformist places of worship where the ministers and elders were strong and wise enough to curb the . . . impulsive and excitable . . . and to keep the movement within due and proper limits[,] . . . [t]housands were converted, and the vast majority of them remain[ed] faithful[.]”[8]  Roberts was influenced by “the Keswick movement and holiness teaching” and his theology of revival placed him “in the same camp as the American revivalist, Charles G. Finney;”  his beliefs were, consequently, in contrast to and “beyond the tradition of the Welsh revivals” of the past, which had held a notably different theology of revival, affirming that it was “wholly dependent on the grace of God.”[9]
The evangelical Congregationalist minister Peter Price “believed a genuine revival was taking place apart from Roberts’ activities”[10] and “stated that Roberts’s emphasis on direct and unmediated divine inspiration denied the need for the objective preaching of the person and work of Christ and so created ‘a sham revival,’ which was hindering ‘the true revival’ that had long preceded Roberts’s work.”[11]  For example, “for nearly two years the Revival flame was ablaze in Cardiganshire . . . before Evan Roberts was heard of . . . and it was a pure work of God in that county.  That pure stream became impure under the hoof of the enemy” as Roberts’s methods took hold.[12]  In Price’s important “letter to the Western Mail . . . he wrote that there were two revivals in Wales, one a true revival based on the substitutionary atonement of Christ and the other a sham revival based on emotionalism for which Evan Roberts was the major spokesman.”[13]  Price wrote:
I write the following in the interest of the religion of Jesus Christ, and because I sympathize with visitors who come from long distances to see the Revival in South Wales.
        Now, I think I can claim that I have had as good an opportunity as most people to understand what is really going on in South Wales; and I have come to the conclusion that there are two so-called Revivals going on amongst us.  The one, undoubtedly, from above—Divine, real, intense in nature, and Cymric[14] in its form. . . . the real Divine thing. . . .
        [But] people . . . may attempt to make the thing, and lo! there comes out a calf and not a God. . . . Those who will do this are the shallow ones, the noisy ones, those who think themselves filled the most with the Spirit, but who are the least.  They are, in fact, the imitators, who say, “There’s something wrong here.  The Spirit is not here.  I have had a vision[”] . . . the stock sayings of Evan Roberts . . . [also] repeated . . . by . . . [his] imitators[.] . . . Others may be found imitating his bodily contortions, sighs, etc. This mimicry is . . . done by the would-be Evan Robertses quite as much for their own sakes as for the sake of their visitors. Breaking into song while another prays, or speaks, or preaches, is another form of the attempt to imitate Evan Roberts’s meetings.
        But these things are merely the accidents of the true Revival, and form no part of its kernel.  For there is a kernel, which is overwhelming in its Divine power, and many thousands have experienced it, and there are ample signs that many thousands more will be touched by it.
        There is, then, a Revival which is of God—of God alone—yes, a most mighty—an Almighty Revival . . . due to the earnest prayers of godly men and women for many years, and also to the extremely earnest preaching of the Gospel, emphasizing especially the Atonement, meaning by the Atonement the substitutionary death of our Lord Jesus Christ for the sins of the world.
        Some preachers, again, laid great emphasis upon the Person and ministry of the Holy Ghost.  Others, again, gave attention to the ethical aspect of our religion, but with less effect, in my opinion, as far as the present Revival is concerned.  I have witnessed bursts of this real Revival as far back as two years ago.  I understand that there are several would-be originators of the Revival; but I maintain that the human originator of the true Revival cannot be named.  And this, to me, is one of the proofs that it is of Divine origin.  I have witnessed indescribable scenes of this real Revival, effects that can never be put on paper.  Hence, I have a right to say that the real Revival has not been and cannot be reported.
        But there is another Revival in South Wales—a sham Revival, a mockery, a blasphemous travesty of the real thing.  The chief figure in this mock Revival is Evan Roberts, whose language is inconsistent with the character of anyone except that of a person endowed with the attributes of a Divine Being.  If not, what is he?  Are there four persons in the Godhead, and is Evan Roberts the fourth?  If so, I would call him the Commander of the Third Person, or the Master of the Spirit, for the . . . words which I myself heard from him on Monday night last at Bethania Chapel, Dowlais.  The Spirit being somewhat reluctant to obey him, he said, “He must come”; but the Spirit (of whom he talked most glibly, just as a child speaks of its toy, but somewhat more off-handedly) would not obey the orders. . . . [H]e spoke as if the Spirit was entirely in his grip . . . judging by his behaviour and talk, the Holy Spirit is led by Evan Roberts!
        My honest conviction is this; that the best thing that could happen to the cause of the true religious Revival amongst us would be for Evan Roberts and his girl-companions to withdraw into their respective homes, and there to examine themselves, and learn a little more of the meaning of Christianity, if they have the capacity for this, instead of going about the country pretending to show the Way of Life to people many of whom know a thousand times more about it than they do.  Why, we have scores of young colliers in Dowlais with whom Evan Roberts is not to be compared either in intellectual capacity or spiritual power.
        But it is this mock Revival—this exhibition—this froth—this vain trumpery—which visitors see and which newspapers report.  And it is harmful to the true Revival—very harmful.  And I am horrified lest people who trust to what they see at Evan Roberts’s meetings and to newspaper reports should identify the two Revivals—the true and the false—the Heavenly fire and the ignis fatuus.
        Before Evan Roberts visited Dowlais, we had the holy fire burning brightly—at white heat; and at my own church alone we could count our converts during the last five or six months by the hundreds.  But what happened when Evan Roberts visited the place?  People came from all parts anxious to see the man, to understand something of the movement, and to get some of the fire to take home with them.  I suppose that most of them did see the man; but I doubt whether they understood the movement—even the mock movement.  They had no chance to understand the true movement, nor had they a chance of catching any of the true fire, for it wasn’t there.  I will say that with much effort Evan Roberts, together with his co-operators (and, evidently, they understand one another thoroughly, and each knew his or her part well and where to come in), managed, by means of threats, complaints and incantations, which reminded me of the prophets of Baal, to create some of the false fire.  But never in my life did I experience such agony—the whole procedure being utterly sacrilegious.  I should say that Evan Roberts must have seen and felt that he was a failure at Dowlais; but to cover the circumstance of failure, there appeared in the paper, after he had proved himself so, a prophecy concerning certain misgivings of his as to whether he ought to have undertaken a mission to Dowlais.
        I should like to ask Evan Roberts a few questions; I have many more which I might ask; but I will be satisfied now with a few: . . . He said that there was someone in the lobby who was accepting Christ; but no one did.  What Spirit told him this lie? . . . Why does he wait until the meetings attain the climax of enthusiasm before he enters?  If help is valuable at any stage, is it not mostly so at the commencement, in order to kindle the fire? . . . Why does he visit places where the fire has been burning at maximum strength for weeks and months?  Would it not be more reasonable for him to go to places which the fire has not reached? . . . What spirit makes him bad-tempered when things don’t come about exactly as he wishes? . . . What spirit makes him say, “Ask God to damn the people if you don’t ask anything else?”
        “Yes, but he has a lovely face and a beautiful smile,” so some women say.  This is the last resort.
        May I repeat that I have written the above in the interest of the religion of Jesus Christ, and out of sympathy with visitors who come to see the Revival.  I may have to suffer persecution for writing the above—even by Spirit-filled (!) men; but I don’t seek the renown of the martyr; still, if martyrdom for the truth be necessary, I am ready.  To the true Revival—the gloriously real Revival—I will say and pray with all my soul,
“Cerdd ymlaen, nefol dân”
But to the bogus Revival I will say with all my soul,
“Cerdd yn ol, gnawdol dân.”
Peter Price, January 31, 1905[15]

Thus, in the view of Price and other advocates of the older theology of revival, a real “Revival, of which [Roberts] was not the originator, not the medium, and not the feeder,” had already been going on.  “There had been for months and years—there were even then [at the height of Roberts’s work]—influences at work that were independent of [Roberts’s] initiative or control,”[16] influences for real revival.  After all, “the Revival reached almost every nook and corner in the [Welsh] Principality, whilst the ministry of [Evan Roberts] was, with little exception, entirely exercised within one of its twelve counties.  The fire burned in places which he did not and could not visit; in [various] places which he did visit the fire was already blazing ere he came.”[17]  What Evan Roberts contributed was a false revivalism that was quenching the genuine work of God:
Evan Roberts had no controlling or constructive influence over the real Revival[,] . . . [but] was out of touch with [it]. . . . This [real Revival] . . . was the result of spiritual forces that had been quietly at work for years. . . . Evan Roberts was . . . the embodiment of the . . . rubbish . . . the waves of hysteria . . . [and] psychic manifestations . . . [that] were looked upon as necessary adjuncts to a successful meeting, and became at last, in the estimation of the press and the public, the characteristic marks of the Revival.[18]
As fanaticism and revivalism displaced true revival produced by the Holy Ghost, “Evan Roberts . . . [became] the central figure in the Revival of 1904-5; but he was not its originator, much less its conceiver.”[19]  Price “by no means st[ood] alone in his attitude. . . . Many other ministers share[d] his opinions . . . [about] ‘the sham Revival’ . . . of which . . . Mr. Evan Roberts [was] the chief exponent,” hindering the “real Revival” that had been going on.[20]  Thus, “thousands of sane, righteous people fully endorsed the opinions of Price . . . many eminent, spiritually-minded pastors and laymen agreed[.]”[21] 








[1]              Pg. 517, “Demythologising the Evan Roberts Revival, 1904-1905,” Robert Pope. Journal of Ecclesiastical History 57:3 (July 2006) 515-534. 
[2]              Pg. 141, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[3]              Pg. 238, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[4]              Pg. 51, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[5]              Pg. 53, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[6]              Pgs. 53-54, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.  Italics in original.
[7]              Pg. 77, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[8]              Pgs. 113-114, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.  Unfortunately, Morgan mentions that such Nonconformist churches were a minority; the majority that fell under the influence of Evan Roberts and his methods were central in the decline in Welsh Nonconformity after the passing of the holiness revival.
[9]              Pg. 520, “Demythologizing the Evan Roberts Revival,” Pope.  Affirming that revival is wholly dependent upon the grace of God does not mean that God does not answer the prayers of His people for revival; rather, it recognizes that even such prayers, and not answers to them only, are a product of His grace.  At the same time, the confession of R. B. Jones is noteworthy:
Of course, it goes without telling that, like every other Revival, this also had its springs in prayer. . . . No axiom seems surer than that.  At the same time, if one is asked to probe the praying that lay back of the Revival of 1904, that is, such praying as would seem adequate to account for the tremendous things that followed, one would be compelled to confess inability.  Doubtless, there were those in Wales itself who pleaded for Revival, and, there was also the universal praying for Revival that belongs peculiarly to th year 1902.  Beyond this the writer has knowledge of nothing in the form of adequate prayer that might explain the copious showers that fell. (pg. 22, Rent Heavens:  The Welsh Revival of 1904, R. B. Jones, 3rd. ed.  Asheville, NC:  Revival Literature, 1950)
[10]            Pg. 231, The Making of the Modern Church:  Christianity in England since 1800, B. G. Worrall.
[11]            Pg. 555, “Evan Roberts,” Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, ed. Larsen.
[12]            Pg. 112, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan; cf. pg. 116-117 for other examples of revival before Evan Roberts.  Other men began to copy the practices of Evan Roberts.  “These men . . . followed Evan Roberts from place to place, picked up his platitudes and broken sentences, [and] went about the country repeating them and imitating his methods and contortions.  Thus it was that some of the finest elements in our Christian religion, so far from being strengthened in this Revival, were actually discouraged.  So great was the passion for results that men forgot what was due to reverence and even to decency.  Sensationalism was consecrated” (pg. 140, Ibid).
[13]            Pg. 525, “Demythologising the Evan Roberts Revival, 1904-1905,” Robert Pope. Journal of Ecclesiastical History 57:3 (July 2006) 515-534; also D. J. Roberts, Peter Price, Swansea 1968, pgs. 90-109.
[14]            Welsh in language or culture, from the Welsh CymruWales,” Cymry, “the Welsh,” etc.
[15]            See The Western Mail, February 1-6, 11, 1905.  The Welsh portion of his letter desires heavenly fire and wishes for the end of sensual fire.
Price’s letter is reproduced on pgs. 141-145 of The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan, who also includes readers’ responses (both positive and negative) to Price.  Pages 146-154 record opposition to Price by partisans of Roberts, who made statements such as that “Mr. Roberts . . . without doubt is inspired,” is “the mouthpiece of the Living God,” and is “a prophet of the present age,” while Price is a “mean, jealous, [sic] cad, whose actions are too contemptible to find words for,” who must be “a shareholder in a Brewery,” since “Jesus Christ don’t want [sic] us to judge and point out things” and Price should be “warn[ed] . . . against the awful harm you are doing even if you are right [emphasis in original].”  Price was said to be “blasphem[ing] the Holy Ghost,” and he was commanded to “ask God to forgive you and to save you” since he is “not a Christian,” not “born again,” and one whose letter “will . . . land you into Hell [sic]” which will “burn your never dying soul.”
Positive responses to Price (pgs. 154-161) included the following:  “I feel there is a sad deficiency in the leading of Mr. E. Roberts besides doubtful teaching from a scriptural point of view.”  Another comments:  “Sir—I am in entire sympathy with you in the noble stand you have made in the interest of 1.) Pure Christianity 2.) Moral Courage and 3.) Sincerity.”  A third states:  “[T]here are hundreds today who believe the same [as you] but have not the courage to openly and frankly admit so[,] and honestly Evan Roberts is a great stumbling block to this Revival as we at Treorky found to our cost when we had him.  He placed a damper on every Meeting,”  Another responds:  “Your remark about E. R. as in command of the Holy Spirit . . . I have often denounced as blasphemous and also [something that] would drive the weak minded insane and the doubters to unbelief.”  Someone else wrote:  “You have won the admiration of hundreds of fellow Christians (if that matters any) by your dauntless courage.  Oh that the virtue of having the courage to express one’s convictions were one that was not so rare.”
[16]            Pg. 57, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[17]            Pg. 17, Rent Heavens:  The Welsh Revival of 1904, R. B. Jones, 3rd. ed.  Asheville, NC:  Revival Literature, 1950.
[18]            Pgs. 68-69, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[19]            Pg. 112, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[20]            Pg. 181, “The Revival in Wales,” A. T. Fryer.  The East and the West:  A Quarterly Review for the Study of Missions. (1905) 174-188.
[21]            Pg. 270-271, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.

Friday, November 23, 2018

WHAT IS TRUTH SABBATICAL

First, please read Thomas Ross's post below and the second post when it comes out.  It's very good and helpful.  I don't want you to miss because of this very, very small post.

I'm going on a sabbatical in writing here at What Is Truth.  I might spend some time with an index for the posts and finally publish that index (which I've already started), but for an undetermined amount of time, I will not be writing here. I welcome Thomas Ross to continue posting on Friday, but I won't for awhile, I don't know how long.  The blog will stay alive and I reserve the right for starting it up again.  There is enough for someone to keep busy for awhile without my writing one single post.

There are several reasons I'm taking this extended break.  One, is to show that I don't have to write here.  It's not something I have to do.  I believe I was doing it to help, and I know it has helped based on the feedback I've been given.  If what I've written is the truth, then I've helped people.  However, it isn't something I'm required to do or have to do.  It is not what defines me.  Second, I know there are people that would rather I would not write, who I care about, so I'm honoring them by not writing for an unspecified period of time.

Thank you for reading and for your support.

The Testimonies of Josephus to Jesus Christ Vindicated, part 1 of 2

Josephus refers to the Lord Jesus Christ in two passages in his Antiquities.  A brief mention of the Savior appears in a context where Josephus narrates the events surrounding the death of James, the brother of Christ: 

[Ananus] assembled the sanhedrin of the judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus called Christ [Ἰησοῦ τοῦ λεγομένου Χριστοῦ], whose name was James, and some others. When he had accused them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned. (Antiquities 20.9.1)

This text is recognized as authentic by the "overwhelming majority of scholars" (Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence, Robert E. Van Voorst, pg. 84).  Josephus also refers to the Lord Jesus in a second and more extensive passage:

Around this time lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it is right to call him a man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who accept the truth with pleasure. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. He was the Christ. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, but those who had first loved him did not cease doing so. For on the third day he appeared to them alive again, the divine prophets having prophesied these and myriad other things about him. To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared. (Antiquities 18.3.3)

Γίνεται δὲ κατὰ τοῦτον τὸν χρόνον Ἰησοῦς σοφὸς ἀνήρ, εἴγε ἄνδρα αὐτὸν λέγειν χρή. ἦν γὰρ παραδόξων ἔργων ποιητής, διδάσκαλος ἀνθρώπων τῶν ἡδονῇ τἀληθῆ δεχομένων, καὶ πολλοὺς μὲν Ἰουδαίους, πολλοὺς δὲ καὶ τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ ἐπηγάγετο. ὁ Χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν. καὶ αὐτὸν ἐνδείξει τῶν πρῶτων ἀνδῶν παρʼ ἡμῖν σταυρῷ ἐπιτετιμηκότος Πιλάτου οὐκ ἐπαύσαντο οἱ τὸ πρῶτον ἀγαπήσαντες. ἐφάνη γὰρ αὐτοῖς τρίτην ἔχων ἡμέραν πάλιν ζῶν τῶν θείων προφητῶν ταυτά τε καὶ ἄλλα μυρία περὶ αὐτοῦ θαυμάσια εἰρηκότων. εἰς ἔτι τε νῦν τῶν Χριστιανῶν ἀπὸ τοῦδε ὠνομασμένον οὐκ ἐπέλιπε τὸ φῦλον.

This latter passage was recognized as authentic for the large majority of church history, but it is questioned today by many, although it has been defended as authentic by both conservative and liberal scholars.  There are good reasons to believe that the passage, in its entirety, is authentic.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, I reprint below the (out of copyright) argument for authenticity from the most widely printed edition of Josephus today, that translated by William Whiston  (The Works of Josephus, Complete and Unabridged, ed. William Whiston, pgs. 815-823):
DISSERTATION 1
THE TESTIMONIES OF JOSEPHUS CONCERNING JESUS CHRIST, JOHN THE BAPTIST AND JAMES THE JUST, VINDICATED
Since we meet with several important testimonies in Josephus, the Jewish historian, concerning John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus of Nazareth, concerning Jesus of Nazareth himself, and concerning James the Just the brother of Jesus of Nazareth; and since the principal testimony, which is that concerning Jesus of Nazareth himself, has of late been greatly questioned by many, and rejected by some of the learned as spurious, it will be fit for me, who have ever declared my firm belief that these testimonies were genuine, to set down fairly some of the original evidence and citations I have met with in the first fifteen centuries concerning them; and then to make proper observations upon that evidence, for the reader’s more complete satisfaction.
But before I produce the citations themselves out of Josephus, give me leave to prepare the reader’s attention, by setting down the sentiments of perhaps the most learned person and the most competent judge, that ever was, as to the authority of Josephus, I mean of Joseph Scaliger, in the Prolegomena to his book De Emendatione; Temporum, p. 17. “Josephus is the most diligent and the greatest lover of truth of all writers; nor are we afraid to affirm of him, that it is more safe to believe him, not only as to the affairs of the Jews, but also as to those that are foreign to them, than all the Greek and Latin writers; and this, because his fidelity and his compass of learning are everywhere conspicuous.”
THE ANCIENT CITATIONS OF THE TESTIMONIES OF JOSEPHUS, FROM HIS OWN TIME TILL THE END OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY
About a.d. 110Tacit. Annal. 15.44.—Nero, in order to stifle the rumor, [as if he himself had set Rome on fire], ascribed it to those people who were hated for their wicked practices, and called by the vulgar Christians: these he punished exquisitely. The author of this name was Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius, was brought to punishment by Pontius Pilate the procurator.
About a.d. 147Just. Mart. Dialog cum Tryph. p. 230.—You Jews knew that Jesus was risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven, as the prophecies did foretell was to happen.
About a.d. 230Origen Comment in Matt. p. 234.—This James was of so shining a character among the people, on account of his righteousness, that Flavius Josephus, when, in his twentieth book of the Jewish Antiquities, he had a mind to set down what was the cause, why the people suffered such miseries, till the very holy house was demolished, he said, that these things befell them by the anger of God, on account of what they had dared to do to James, the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ; and wonderful it is, that while he did not receive Jesus for Christ, he did nevertheless bear witness that James was so righteous a man. He says farther, that the people thought they had suffered these things for the sake of James.
About a.d. 250Id. Contr. Cels. 1.35–36.—I would say to Celsus, who personates a Jew, that admitted of John the Baptist, and how he baptized Jesus, that one who lived but a little while after John and Jesus, wrote, how that John was a baptizer unto the remission of sins; for Josephus testifies, in the eighteenth book of his Jewish Antiquities, that John was the Baptist; and that he promised purification to those that were baptized. The same Josephus also, although he did not believe in Jesus as Christ, when he was inquiring after the case of the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the demolition of the temple, and ought to have said that their machinations against Jesus were the cause of those miseries coming on the people, because they had slain that Christ who was foretold by the prophets, he, though as it were unwillingly and yet as one not remote from the truth, says, “these miseries befell the Jews by way of revenge for James the Just, who was the brother of Jesus that was called Christ; because they had slain him who was a most righteous person.” Now this James was he whom that genuine disciple of Jesus, Paul, said he had seen as the Lord’s brother [Gal. 1:19]; which relation implies not so much nearness of blood, or the sameness of education, as it does the agreement of manners and preaching. If therefore he says the desolation of Jerusalem befell the Jews for the sake of James, with how much greater reason might he have said that it happened for the sake of Jesus? etc.
About a.d. 324Euseb. Demonstr. Evan. 3.124. Certainly, the attestation of those I have already produced concerning our Savior may be sufficient. However, it may not be amiss, if, over and above, we make use of Josephus the Jew for a farther witness; who, in the eighteenth book of his Antiquities, when he was writing the history of what happened under Pilate, makes mention of our Savior in these words:—“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as had a veneration for truth. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles:—he was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at first did not forsake him; for he appeared unto them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had spoken of these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him: whence the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” If therefore we have his historian’s testimony, that he not only brought over to himself the twelve apostles, with the seventy disciples, but many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles also, he must manifestly have had somewhat in him extraordinary, above the rest of mankind; for how otherwise could he draw over so many of the Jews and of the Gentiles, unless he performed admirable and amazing works, and used a method of teaching that was not common? Moreover, the scripture of the Acts of the Apostles (21:20) bears witness, that there were many ten thousands of Jews, who were persuaded that he was the Christ of God, who was foretold by the prophets.
About a.d. 330IdHist. Eccles. 1.11. Now the divine scripture of the Gospels makes mention of John the Baptist as having his head cut off by the younger Herod. Josephus also concurs in his history, and makes mention of Herodias by name, as the wife of his brother, whom Herod had married, upon divorcing his former lawful wife. She was the daughter of Aretas, king of the Petrean Arabians; and which Herodias he had parted from her husband while he was alive; on which account also when he had slain John, he made war with Aretas [Aretas made war with him], because his daughter had been used dishonorably: in which war, when it came to a battle, he says, that all Herod’s army was destroyed; and that he suffered this because of his wicked contrivance against John. Moreover the same Josephus, by acknowledging John to have been a most righteous man, and the Baptist, conspires in his testimony with what is written in the Gospels. He also relates, that Herod lost his kingdom for the sake of the same Herodias, together with whom he was himself condemned to be banished to Vienna, a city of Gaul; and this is his account in the eighteenth book of the Antiquities, where he writes this of John verbatim:—Some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God and that very justly, as a punishment for what he did against John that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and one that commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism, for that by this means the washing [with water] would appear acceptable to him, when they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only],—but for the purification of the body, supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were greatly delighted in hearing his words, Herod was afraid that this so great power of persuading men might tend to some sedition or other, for they seemed to be disposed to do everything he should advise them to, so he supposed it better to prevent any attempt for a mutation from him, by cutting him off, than after any such mutation should be brought about, and the public should suffer, to repent [of such negligence]. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death.”—When Josephus had said this of John, he makes mention also of our Savior in the same history after this manner:—“Now there was about this time, one Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles also:—he was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him: for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold them and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him: and still the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” And since this writer, sprung from the Hebrews themselves, hath delivered these things above in his own work, concerning John the Baptist and our Savior, what room is there for any farther evasion? etc.
Now James was so wonderful a person, and was so celebrated by all others for righteousness, that the judicious Jews thought this to have been the occasion of that siege of Jerusalem, which came on presently after his martyrdom; and that it befell them for no other reason than that impious fact they were guilty of against him. Josephus therefore did not refuse to attest thereto in writing, by the words following:—“These miseries befell the Jews by way of revenge for James the Just, who was the brother of Jesus that was called Christ, on account that they had slain him who was a most righteous person.”
The same Josephus declares the manner of his death in the twentieth book of the Antiquities, in these words:—“Caesar sent Albinus into Judea to be procurator, when he had heard that Festus was dead. Now Ananus, junior, who, as we said, had been admitted to the high priesthood, was in his temper bold and daring in an extraordinary manner. He was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are more savage in judgment than any of the other Jews, as we have already signified. Since therefore this was the character of Ananus, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority], because Festus was dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembles the sanhedrin of Judges, and brings before them James, the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, and some others [of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them, as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and those who were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done. They also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done could not be justified,” etc.
About a.d. 360. Ambrose, or Hegesippus de Excid. Urb. Hierosolym. 2.12.—We have discovered that it was the opinion and belief of the Jews, as Josephus affirms (who is an author not to be rejected, when he writes against himself), that Herod lost his army, not by the deceit of men but by the anger of God, and that justly, as an effect of revenge for what he did to John the Baptist, a just man, who had said to him, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.
The Jews themselves also bear witness to Christ, as appears by Josephus, the writer of their history, who says thus:—“That there was at that time a wise man, if (says he) it be lawful to have him called a man, a doer of wonderful works, who appeared to his disciples after the third day from his death alive again, according to the writings of the prophets, who foretold these and innumerable other miraculous events concerning him; from whom began the congregation of Christians, and hath penetrated among all sorts of men: nor does there remain any nation in the Roman world which continues strangers to his religion.” If the Jews do not believe us let them at least believe their own writers. Josephus, whom they esteem a very great man, hath said this, and yet hath he spoken truth after such a manner; and so far was his mind wandered from the right way, that even he was not a believer as to what he himself said; but thus he spake, in order to deliver historical truth, because he thought it not lawful for him to deceive while yet he was no believer, because of the hardness of his heart and his perfidious intention. However, it was no prejudice to the truth that he was not a believer; but this adds more weight to his testimony, that while he has an unbeliever, and unwilling this should be true, he has not denied it to be so.
About a.d. 400. Hieronym de. Vir. Illustr, in Josepho.—Josephus in the eighteenth book of Antiquities, most expressly acknowledges that Christ was slain by the Pharisees, on account of the greatness of his miracles; and that John the Baptist was truly a prophet; and thatJerusalem was demolished on account of the slaughter of James the apostle. Now, he wrote concerning our Lord after this manner:—“At the same time there was Jesus, a wise man, if yet it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of those who willingly receive the truth. He had many followers both of the Jews and of the Gentiles:—he was believed to be Christ. And when by the envy of our principal men, Pilate had condemned him to the cross, yet notwithstanding, those who had loved him at first persevered, for he appeared to them alive on the third day as the oracles of the prophets had foretold many of these and other wonderful things concerning him; and the sect of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”
About a.d. 410Isidorus Pelusiot, the Scholar of Chrysostom, 4.225.—There was one Josephus, a Jew of the greatest reputation, and one that was zealous of the law; one also that paraphrased the Old Testament with truth, and, acted valiantly for the Jews, and had showed that their settlement was nobler than can be described by words. Now since he made their interest give place to truth, for he would not support the opinion of impious men, I think it necessary to set down his words. What then does he say? “Now there was about that time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles:—he was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them the third day alive again, as the divine prophets had said these, and a vast number of other wonderful things concerning him: and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” Now I cannot but wonder greatly at this great man’s love of truth in many respects, but chiefly where he says, “Jesus was a teacher of men who received the truth with pleasure.”
About a.d. 440Sozomen. Hist. Eccles. 1.1.—Now Josephus, the son of Matthias, a priest, a man of very great note, both among the Jews and the Romans, may well be a witness of credit as to the truth of Christ’s history; for he scruples to call him a man as being a doer of wonderful works, and a teacher of the words of truth. He names him Christ openly; and is not ignorant that he was condemned to the cross, and appeared on the third day alive, and that ten thousand other wonderful things were foretold of him by the divine prophets. He testifies also, that those whom he drew over to him, being many of the Gentiles, as well as of the Jews, continued to love him; and that the tribe named from him was not then extinct. Now he seems to me by this his relation almost to proclaim that Christ is God. However, he appears to have been so affected with the strangeness of the thing, as to run, as it were, in a sort of middle way, so as not to put any indignity upon believers on him, but rather to afford his suffrage to them.
About a.d. 510. Cassiodorus Hist. Tripartit. e Sozomeno.—Now Josephus, the son of Matthias, and a priest, a man of great nobility among the Jews, and of great dignity among the Romans, shall be a truth of Christ’s history: for he dares not call him a man, as a doer of famous works, and a teacher of true doctrines: he names him Christ openly; and is not ignorant that he was condemned to the cross, and appeared on the third day alive, and that an infinite number of other wonderful things were foretold of him by the holy prophets. Moreover, he testifies also that there were then alive many whom he had chosen, both Greeks and Jews, and that they continued to love him; and that the sect which was named from him was by no means extinct at that time.
About a.d. 640Chron. Alex. p. 514.—Now Josephus also relates in his eighteenth book of Antiquities, how John the Baptist, that holy man, was beheaded on account of Herodias, the wife of Philip, the brother of Herod himself; for Herod had divorced his former wife, who was still alive, and had been his lawful wife: she was the daughter of Aretas, king of the Petreans. When therefore Herod had taken Herodias away from her husband, while he was yet alive (on whose account he slew John also), Aretas made war against Herod, because his daughter had been dishonorably treated. In which war he says, that all Herod’s army was destroyed, and that he suffered that calamity because of the wickedness he had been guilty of against John. The same Josephus relates, that Herod lost his kingdom on account of Herodias, and that with her he was banished to Lyons, etc.
P. 526–27.] Now that our Savior taught his preaching three years, is demonstrated both by other necessary reasonings, as also out of the holy Gospels, and out of Josephus’s writings, who was a wise man among the Hebrews, etc.
P. 584, 586.] Josephus relates, in the fifth book of the [Jewish] War, that Jerusalem was taken in the third [second] year of Vespasian, as after forty years since they had dared to put Jesus to death: in which time he says, that James, the brother of our Lord and bishop of Jerusalem, was thrown down [from the temple] and slain of them, by stoning.
About a.d. 740. Anastasius Abbas contr. Jud.—Now Josephus, an author and writer of your own, says of Christ, that he was a just and good man, showed and declared so to be by divine grace, who gave aid to many by signs and miracles.
About a.d. 790Georgius Syncellus Chron. p. 339.—These miseries befell the Jews by way of revenge for James the Just, who was the brother of Jesus that was called Christ, on the account that they had slain him who was a most righteous person. Now as Ananus, a person of that character, thought he had a proper opportunity, because Festus was dead, and Albinus was but upon the road, so he assembles the sanhedrin of judges, and brings before them James, the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, and some of his companions, and when he had formed an accusation against them, as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned; but as for those that seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and those that were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done. They also sent to the king [Agrippa] desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done could not be justified, etc.
About a.d. 850Johan. Malela Chron. 10.—From that time began the destruction of the Jews, as Josephus, the philosopher of the Jews, hath written; who also said this. That from the time the Jews crucified Christ, who was a good and righteous man (that is, if it be fit to call such a one a man, and not God), the land of Judea was never free from trouble. These things the same Josephus the Jew has related in his writings.
About ad. 860Photius Cod. 48.—I have read the treatise of Josephus About the Universe, whose title I have elsewhere read to be Of the Substance of the Universe. It is contained in two very small treatises. He treats of the origin of the world in a brief manner. However, he speaks of the divinity of Christ, who is our true God, in a way very like to what we use, declaring that the same name of Christ belongs to him, and writes of his ineffable generation of the Father after such a manner as cannot be blamed; which things may perhaps raise a doubt in some, whether Josephus was the author of the work, though the phraseology does not at all differ from this man’s other works. However, I have found in some papers, that this discourse was not written by Josephus, but by one Caius, a presbyter.
Cod. 238.—Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee and of Perea, the son of Herod the Great, fell in love, as Josephus says, with the wife of his brother Philip, whose name was Herodias, who was the granddaughter of Herod the Great, by his son Aristobulus, whom he had slain. Agrippa was also her brother. Now Herod took her away from her husband, and married her. This is he that slew John the Baptist, that great man, the forerunner [of Christ], being afraid (as Josephus says) lest he should raise a sedition among his people; for they all followed the directions of John, on account of the excellency of his virtue. In his time was the passion of our Savior.
Cod. 33.—I have read the Chronicle of Justus of Tiberias. He omits the greatest part of what was most necessary to be related; but, as infected with Jewish prejudices, being also himself a Jew by birth, he makes no mention at all of the advent, or of the acts done, or of the miracles wrought, by Christ.
The time uncertainMacarius in Actis Sanctorum, 5.149. ap. Fabric. Joseph. p. 61.—Josephus, a priest of Jerusalem, and one that wrote with truth the history of the Jewish affairs, bears witness that Christ, the true God, was incarnate, and crucified, and the third day rose again; whose writings are reposited in the public library. Thus he says:—“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles also; this was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first, did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again on the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and still the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” Since, therefore, the writer of the Hebrews has engraven this testimony concerning our Lord and Savior in his own books, what defense can there remain for the unbelievers?
About a.d. 980. Suidas in voce Iēsous.—We have found Josephus, who hath written about the taking of Jerusalem (of whom Eusebius Pamphilii makes frequent mention in his Ecclesiastical History), saying openly in his Memoirs of the Captivity, that Jesus officiated in the temple with the priests. Thus have we found Josephus saying, a man of ancient times, and not very long after the apostles, etc.
About a.d. 1060Cedrenus Compend. Histor. p. 196.—Josephus does indeed write concerning John the Baptist as follows—Some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that he was punished very justly for what punishment he had inflicted on John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both by righteousness towards one another and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism. But as concerning Christ, the same Josephus says, that about that time there was Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, and a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure: for that Christ drew over many even from the Gentiles; whom when Pilate had crucified, those who at first had loved him did not leave off to preach concerning him, for he appeared to them the third day alive again, as the divine prophets had testified, and spoke these and other wonderful things concerning him.
About a.d. 1080. Theophylact. in Joan 13.—The city of the Jews was taken, and the wrath of God was kindled against them; as also Josephus witnesses, that this came upon them on account of the death of Jesus.
About a.d. 1120. Zonaras Annal. 1.267.—Josephus, in the eighteenth book of Antiquities, writes thus concerning our Lord and God Jesus Christ;—Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles:—he was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them the third day alive again, as the divine prophets had said these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.
About a.d. 1120Glycus Annal. p. 234.—Then did Philo, that wise man, and Josephus, flourish. This last was styled The Lover of Truth, because he commended John, who baptized our Lord; and because he bore witness that Christ, in like manner, was a wise man, and the doer of great miracles; and that, when he was crucified, he appeared the third day.
About a.d. 1170Gotfridus Viterbiensis Chron. p. 366. e Vers. Rufini.—Josephus relates that a very great war arose between Aretas, king of the Arabians, and Herod, on account of the sin which Herod had committed against John. Moreover, the same Josephus writes thus concerning Christ: There was at this time Jesus, a wise man, if at least it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as willingly hear truth. He also drew over to him many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles:—he was Christ. And when Pilate, at the accusation of the principal men of our nation, had decreed that he should be crucified, those that had loved him from the beginning did not forsake him; for he appeared to them the third day alive again, according to what the divinely inspired prophets had foretold, that these and innumerable other miracles should come to pass about him. Moreover, both the name and sect of Christians, who were named from him, continue in being unto this day.
About a.d. 1360. Nicephorus Callistus Hist. Eccles. 1.90–91.—Now this [concerning Herod the tetrarch] is attested to, not only by the book of the holy Gospels, but by Josephus, that lover of truth; who also makes mention of Herodias his brother’s wife, whom Herod had taken away from him while he was alive, and married her; having divorced his former lawful wife, who was the daughter of Aretas, king of the Petrean Arabians. This Herodias he had married, and lived with her; on which account also, when he had slain John, he made war with Aretas, because his daughter had been dishonorably used; in which war he relates that all Herod’s army was destroyed, and that he suffered this on account of the most unjust slaughter of John. He also adds, that John was a most righteous man. Moreover, he makes mention of his baptism, agreeing in all points thereto relating with the Gospel. He also informs us, that Herod lost his kingdom on account of Herodias, with whom also he was condemned to be banished to Vienna, which was their place of exile, and a city bordering upon Gaul, and lying near the utmost bounds of the west.
About a.d. 1450Hardmannus Schedelius Chron. p. 110.—Josephus the Jew, who was called Flavius, a priest, and the son of Matthias, a priest of that nation, a most celebrated historian, and very skillful in many things; he was certainly a good man, and of an excellent character, who had the highest opinion of Christ.
About a.d. 1480. Platina de Vitis Pontificum’ in Christo.—I shall avoid mentioning what Christ did until the 30th year of his age, when he was baptized by John, the son of Zacharias, because not only the Gospels and Epistles are full of those acts of his, which he did in the most excellent and most holy manner, but the books of such as were quite remote from his way of living, and acting, and ordaining, are also full of the same. Flavius Josephus himself, who wrote twenty books of Jewish antiquities in the Greek tongue, when he had proceeded as far as the government of the emperor, Tiberius, says. There was in those days Jesus, a certain wise man, if at least it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, and a teacher of men, of such especially as willingly hear the truth. On this account he drew over to him many, both of the Jews and Gentiles:—he was Christ. But when Pilate, instigated by the principal men of our nation, had decreed that he should be crucified, yet did not those that had loved him from the beginning forsake him; and besides, he appeared to them the third day after his death alive, as the divinely inspired prophets had foretold, that these and innumerable other miracles should come to pass about him and the famous name of Christians, taken from him, as well as their sect, do still continue in being.
The same Josephus also affirms, That John the Baptist, a true prophet, and on that account one that was had in esteem by all men, was slain by Herod, the son of Herod the Great, a little before the death of Christ, in the castle of Macherus,—not because he was afraid for himself and his kingdom, as the same author says,—but because he had incestuously married Herodias, the sister of Agrippa, and the wife of that excellent person his brother Philip.
About a.d. 1480. Trithemius Abbas de Scriptor. Eccles.—Josephus the Jew, although he continued to be a Jew, did frequently commend the Christians; and in the eighteenth book of his Antiquities, wrote down an eminent testimony concerning our Lord Jesus Christ.