The Annunciation: the Massacre; the Flight
In this section it is unfortunately necessary once more to call attention to Mr. Shaw's carelessness. Matthew does not call the people who saw the star, Kings, but Wise Men. It is only in the Middle Ages that they developed into Kings. But even suppose that "Kings" was the word used, is there any difficulty? Mr. Shaw's mistake is fortunate, for it permits us to point out, what will subsequently appear as an important factor in this criticism, that Mr. Shaw's ignorance of life in the East renders him entirely useless as an aid to realizing Jesus.
He says, "Matthew tells us that the Mother of Jesus was betrothed to a man of royal pedigree named Joseph, who was rich enough to live in a house in Bethlehem to which kings could bring gifts of gold without provoking any comment." He begins to cast ridicule, and it is ridicule in the wrong place. As it happens, I myself was rich enough to live in a seven-foot tent to which Kings could and did bring gifts of gold. They were quite genuine Kings, entitled to a salute of guns if they ever went to Calcutta; and I would touch the gold and remit it, bestowing moreover upon the said Kings some pocket handkerchiefs and perhaps a few rupees, or a watch. It is quite an ordinary ceremony. They merely wished to do homage, and offer tribute, to the British Government in my humble person.
This may seem a very small point, but to some it will appear cardinal. It is a principal contention of this essay, that intimate knowledge of the manners of the East is necessary even to a rudimentary understanding of the gospel story. It is a shameful thing to say, but one could wish that Mr. Shaw, for the purpose of writing this preface, had sought the collaboration of Mr. Rudyard Kipling. Besides, the episode in Matthew does 'provoke comment'. In fact, it gets the Tetrarch all worked up, and he massacres all the children in the vicinity in the hope of catching the one he wants. But perhaps Mr. Shaw will plead that this is not "fair comment", like the plaintiff in a libel action!
Mr. Shaw takes occasion to remark at the end of this section, "Nothing that interests us nowadays turns on the credibility of the massacre of the innocents and the flight into Egypt." Mr. Shaw is a secularist, and his placidity may be ascribed to the fact that he has long ago discarded all such points as obvious fictions. But it is necessary for us to make up our minds on this question. Mr. Shaw's claim, no less than that of Pope Benedict, is that Jesus was a unique character, far in advance of his time, who enunciated certain teachings which we should do well to follow.
To rebut this claim, it is desired to show the character of the documents on which he relies. If it be agreed that the statements of fact are all false, and if it be shown that the sayings recorded, instead of being original, are the common-places of all time, what becomes of the claim? Mr. Shaw ceases to be a thinker, if this be so. He becomes a rhetorician offering an ad captandun argument to the vulgar, just like the people who used to excuse themselves at table for picking chicken bones, without the use of a fork, on the ground that Queen Victoria and Mr. Gladstone did so. Once having introduced the names of those illustrious personages, it becomes pertinent to inquire whether in fact this was their custom, while the bolder type of democrat may even ask whether, if they did so, they were right in so doing. Admit the possibility that they were wrong, and the introduction of their names has become superfluous to the argument. It may prove that Mr. Shaw has 'dragged in Velasquez.' This matter of the credibility of the gospels will be discussed more fully under the section so headed.
Our only criticism of this section is that John does not for a moment suggest that circumcision should be discarded. There is no evidence that anything in the teaching of John particularly annoyed the Pharisees. It is perfectly usual, now as then, for any Eastern to set up as a wandering ascetic. It is only when some cardinal doctrine or practice is attacked, that the orthodox take offence. It is important to note this because of what Mr. Shaw says in the next section.
Mr. Shaw now tells us how Jesus came to John and demanded baptism. "As far as established Jewry was concerned, he burnt his boats by this action, and cut himself off from the routine of wealth, respectability, and orthodoxy." This is altogether contradicted by the text in the third chapter of Matthew, verse 5,6,7, "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" It is evident from this that John's teaching was not considered seriously heterodox, any more than a church of England Christian to-day would be necessarily excommunicated for playing at theosophy, or, as Mr. Shaw says himself, "as certain well-to-do young gentlemen forty years ago joined the socialists."
The Savage John and the Civilized Jesus
If Mr. Shaw had been fired with the ambition to improve the quality of his vital fluid by the introduction of seventy times seven kinds of malaria germs, and to enrich the P. and O.S.S. Co. by some £150, he would have recognized at once these two types of 'holy man' as such. There are plenty of John the Baptists to-day in India. Take a dirty piece of cloth, a little tumeric, a lot of cowdung, and a pair of tongs; and you have him. He is a half crazy half savage individual, brusque and violent in speech, impossible in manner, who practices all kinds of austerity, feeds on refuse, and is usually in a condition of more or less maniacal excitement produced by fasting, or the use of such drugs as opium or hashish, or both.
Contrast with this type the man, often of excellent family, perhaps even a great king, who quits the world and its vanities as soon as he feels that he has performed his duty to mankind. This course of action is prescribed for everybody in the Sacred Books of Hindustan. Some feel the call more strongly, and take a chance by refusing to fulfil such duties as marriage, going out while still quite young men into the desert or jungle.
Such men are totally different from those described above, in nearly all respects. They are learned in the Scriptures. They do not inflict torture upon themselves except in the same way as a 'blue' does when he is training for the boat race. Their manners are, however, much superior to those of the average 'blue'. They care nothing for the conventions of society, but respect the feelings of others, though, if they are of the teaching kind, they will sometimes publicly perform some unconventional act to call attention to some point of their doctrine.
The main position of such men is not that the Scriptures are wrong in prescribing certain courses of action, but that formalism has destroyed the virtue of such teachings; just as any earnest clergyman to-day, without leaving his pulpit, might rebuke his flock for the shallowness of their religion.
It will be observed that this is exactly what Jesus did. Practically all of his attacks on the Pharisees are not directed against the strictness of their observance of the Mosaic law, but against their formalism, and sometimes even against their laxity. For example, we read in Matthew, chapter XII, verses 10, and 11 "And behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold of it, and lift it out?" He says that his mission is only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, as is shewn in Matthew, chapter X, verses 5 and 6. "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
So far from being in any way a reformer as opposed to a mere revivalist, he says plainly (in Matthew Chapter V, verses 17, 18, 19, and 20) "Think not that I am come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in now wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven".
He evidently regards himself as a new Isaiah. There are other sides to his character which will be discussed later, but there was at least this side, and we cannot follow Mr. Shaw in stamping him plainly as unorthodox, for he is found dining with Pharisees as well as with publicans, and throughout the whole of the gospel we find that he is permitted to teach in the synagogues.
One point, however, mentioned by Mr. Shaw is so vital that it must be discussed at once. Mr. Shaw says: "When reproached, as Bunyan was for resorting to the art of fiction when teaching in parables, he justifies himself on the ground that art is the only way in which the people can be taught."
Here again Mr. Shaw's ignorance of the East betrays him. He quite misses the significance of the explanation given by Jesus, which is as follows: "And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to these it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not: and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." (Matthew XIII. 10-13).
There is no question of art, but of mystery and initiation. In the East every teacher has his particular secrets, usually received from some other teacher before him, which he guards with extreme jealousy, and communicates only to most carefully chosen disciples. It may be a simple matter like inducing the Apana-Vayu to move upwards into the Svadistthana-cakkra, or it may be something much more complicated; but whatever it is, he makes a great secret of it, and his claim to possess such secrets is his principal asset. Why should people leave all and follow him unless he has something to tell them which they can get from no one else?
We now see Jesus in a totally different light. He is not only and orthodox revivalist, but a leader of what we should call nowadays a secret society. The idea of the parables, which it seems absurd to tell if nobody is going to understand them, is to excite the curiosity of the hearer, to show him that the speaker is a mysterious person, who knows something wonderful, and thus to induce him to become a disciple.
It is hard to conceive how Mr. Shaw can make such a statement as now follows: "A point of considerable practical importance to-day is that he expressly repudiates the idea that forms of religion, once rooted, can be weeded out and replanted with the flowers of a foreign faith. 'If you try to root up the tares you will root up the wheat as well'. Our proselytizing missionary enterprises are thus flatly contrary to his advice". Can Mr. Shaw explain away the following passage in Matthew, Chapter XXVIII, verses 18 and 19? "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Mr. Shaw apparently relies upon the parables of the tares and the wheat. But this is apparently no more than an injunction to make no attempt to root out the wicked before the Day of Judgment. That his plan was conversion is quite evident in the three other parables in the first part of the thirteenth chapter of Matthew.
Later in this section Mr. Shaw accepts the view set forward above that Jesus merely wished to add a superstructure to the Law of Moses, but he goes on to make a most extraordinary statement, which must be quoted in full. "To this day a Christian would be in religion a Jew initiated by baptism instead of circumcision, and accepting Jesus as the Messiah, and his teachings as of higher authority than those of Moses, but for the action of the Jewish priests, who, to save Jewry from being submerged in the rising flood of Christianity after the capture of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, set up what was practically a new religious order, with new Scriptures and elaborate new observances; and to their list of the accursed added one Jeschu, a bastard magician, whose comic rogueries brought him to a bad end like Punch or Til Eulenspiegel: an invention which cost them dear when the Christians got the upper hand of them politically. The Jew, as Jesus, himself a Jew, knew him, never dreamt of such things, and would follow Jesus without ceasing to be a Jew."
Mr. Shaw appears to imply in this passage that the whole course of Christianity was determined by the action of the Jews subsequent to the destruction of the Temple, as if their hostility had been aroused only by the addition of the simple matters mentioned. Are we to understand that the Crucifixion of Jesus was intended only as a friendly admonition, or at most a paternal chastisement of the kind that would hurt them more than it would hurt him? A first edition of "My Heart bleeds for Louvain?"
A word may be in season with regard to the Sepher Toldoth Jeschu, or "Book of the Doings of Jesus". By what right does Mr. Shaw assume that an official publication of this sort is as false as any official publication of to-day? It is a life of Jesus, possessing on the surface of it more authority than the gospels, and of earlier date. It will be said that it is full of absurdities, and is evidently an exparte statement full of animus. But the gospels also are full of absurdities, and are admittedly written as partisan statements. It may then be replied that modern Jews have thrown over the Sepher Toldoth Jeschu. But then modern Christians have equally thrown over the Gospels! There is really no reason in the world why we should take sides in the controversy.
It is somewhat unfortunate that Mr. Shaw has not assisted the student of his excellent preface by always giving references to his authority, for one is sometimes at a loss as to what passage he may be honouring with his reliance. When Mr. Shaw says that Jesus advocates communism, one cannot tell what text he may be taking as his authority for the statement, to show that in many passages he strongly upheld the right of property. It is true that he tells the rich man, in Matthew XIX, verse 21, "Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: come and follow me". This remark is the ordinary commonplace of any Eastern religious teacher, when any one comes to him for salvation.
He makes a religious merit of renunciation in the 29th verse of the same chapter. "And everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life." This is again in perfect accordance with ordinary Eastern doctrine; but it has nothing to do with communism. He makes rules for his own community, which are the ordinary rules prescribed by any wandering yogi then or now
Now read Matthew, Chapter XX, verses 25 and 26. "But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister." This attitude is characteristic of all religious brotherhoods.
Now see the following passages in Matthew, chapter VI, verses 25, 26, 31, 32, 33, and 34. "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink: nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowl of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you, Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
This is all very well as an instruction to a limited brotherhood. The Buddha had given identical instructions six hundred years before. You will wear three robes, he said to his disciples, you will pluck them from the corpses on the burning-ghat. You will take a bowl, and you will go around the village every morning and beg your rice.
Burma to-day is full of men who obey these precepts, though latterly their robes are usually furnished by the gift of persons who wish to 'acquire merit'. But as advice to the whole world it is lunacy. It would not be communism, but suicide. The sowing of wheat and cotton is certainly taking thought for the morrow. No doubt the hardiest of humanity should be able to survive by adopting the life of their cousins the monkeys. But we cannot assume that Mr. Shaw would regard this as an ideal state of society, though few reasonable people would consider it very much worse than what we have at present!
It is evident from other passages that Jesus upheld the rights of property as firmly as the Duke of Wellington. It has already been shown that Jesus was quite whole-hearted in his support of the Mosaic law. He was annoyed, in fact, because they had set casuists to work upon it. In Matthew XV, verses 1-9, we read: "There came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whosoever thou mightest be profited by me; and honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Eseias prophesy of you saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
Now the Mosaic law is extraordinarily individualistic. One cannot think of any provision of it which sounds like an approach to communism. In Matthew, chapter V, verses 25 and 26, he says: "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." This view of debt seems as stringent as the laws of England, in the times of the old Fleet Prison, or those of Massachusetts to-day. In the beginning of the sixth chapter he advocates the giving of alms in secret. Is it a misunderstanding of communism to suppose that almsgiving is incompatible with it? In the 'Lord's Prayer', Matthew, chapter VI, verse 12, one of the petitions is "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." This passage certainly suggest that the elect should take a generous attitude, but it as certainly contemplates the existence of such things as debts.
Mr. Shaw now tells us that Jesus advocates "the widening of the private family with its cramping ties into the great family of mankind under the fatherhood of God." Mr. Shaw here evidently relies on Matthew, Chapter XII, verses 46 and 50. "While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."
Here again, we have the normal attitude of the religious teacher of the East. There is no evidence that he intended this as general advice to the world.
In the matter of marriage, Jesus is quite as strict as the average Catholic or Church of England bishop. Read Matthew, chapter XIX, verses 3 to 12. "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh. That therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given." This explanation is an expansion of another passage in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew, chapter V, verses 31 and 32.
Here Jesus definitely says that he does not expect all men to adopt the happy-go-lucky, promiscuous existence which we call the religious life. He makes the welfare of a wife depend upon her fidelity as strictly as any other lawgiver. In fact, the theory is that the rights of the wife are so paramount, that she can only forfeit them by the one act of absolutely unpardonable treachery, in which case she becomes an outcast from humanity altogether. This is not 'widening the private family', but tightening its bonds. Easy divorce is universally recognized, both by its friends and by its enemies, as a step toward socialism.
It is to be remembered also that even in the time of Jesus divorce was terrible punishment, when the cause was fornication, for the divorced woman had no means of livelihood. Under the Mosaic law the punishment was death for both parties offending; see Leviticus chapter XX, verse 10. "And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that commiteth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." The severity of this law had evidently been relaxed in favour of something like that which still obtains in Mohammedan countries. And Jesus objected!
Mr. Shaw next says that Christ advocates the abandonment of revenge and punishment, apparently on the strength of Matthew, chapter V, verses 43 and 45. "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." This is a very fair statement of the ordinary rules for Hindu ascetics. The idea is that by becoming 'ahimsa' or 'harmless', by refusing to injure even a tiger or a snake, they will acquire the power of immunity from the savagery of others. Mr. Shaw's own Androcles seems to have been that kind of person. The doctrine is not to be taken any further than this. The 'Father in Heaven', who in these verses is so impartial, is exhibited in a very different character in such passages as the following: Matthew VIII, 11, 12. "And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth".
Matthew, chapter X, 14, 15. "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city."
Matthew, XI, 21 to 24. "Woe unto them, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day."
Matthew XII, 31, 32. "Therefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."
Matthew XVIII, 6 to 9. "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire."
Matthew XXII, 1 to 14, "And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parable, and said, The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage of his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth! and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants: The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into the outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Matthew XXIV 50 and 51. "The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him assunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Matthew XXV, 31 and 46. "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, When saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee with a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he also say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."
It is hard to suppose that Mr. Shaw thought that all the preachers of hell-fire from the apostles themselves all the way down through Turricremata and Calvin to Charles Spurgeon and Billy Sunday had no warrant for their doctrine in the actual words of Jesus! Mr. Shaw would have done better to have sought his authority in the works of Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Mr. Shaw's next statement is that Jesus advocates "an organic conception of society in which you are not an independent individual, but a member of society." This statement is really too vague to rebutt. Even the Manchester School had some such conception. We think it certainly incumbent upon Mr. Shaw to quote some words of Jesus, which will allow us at least to compare him with Manu or Plato.
(Note: This caption is an insertion of our own.)
It is to be observed that there is no marked distinction between the parables attributed to Jesus and those of the ordinary Eastern sage. Yet the latter usually illustrates some spiritual truth, or applaud some virtue; the former have no value but to induce the hearer to follow Jesus, or to illustrate some point of his salvationist theology. An analysis of them one by one will exhibit this quality in all due lucence.
- Matthew XIII.3-8 - The Sower and the Seed.
Moral (XIII.18-23) - Various classes of hearers are described.
- Matthew XIII.24-30 - The Wheat and the Tares.
Moral (XIII.37-43) - Jesus and Satan: Salvation or damnation in a furnace of fire, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth accordingly.
- Matthew XIII.31-32 - The Grain of mustard seed.
Moral - My doctrine will convert the whole world.
- Matthew XIII.33 - The leaven.
Moral - Same as no. 3.
- Matthew XIII.44 - The treasure in the field.
Moral - Give up everything for Jesus.
- Matthew XIII.45,46 - The Pearl of Great Price.
Moral - The same as no. 5.
- Matthew XIII.47-48 - The drawnet cast into the sea.
Moral (XIII.49,50) - Same as no. 2.
- Matthew XVIII 23-34 - The king and his debtors
Moral (XVIII.35) - Unless you show generosity to men, God will show you none. (This is the first parable that has any moral value.)
- Matthew XX.1-16 - The labourers in the vineyard.
Moral - The greatest scoundrel shall be rewarded as well as the best of men, in my vineyard.
- Matthew XXI 28-30 - The two sons.
Moral (XXI.31-32) - Unless you believe in Me, you are worse than an harlot or a publican.
- Matthew XXI 33-41 - The wicked husbandman.
Moral - The Jews will be miserably destroyed for rejecting Jesus.
- Matthew XXII 1-14 - The Marriage of the King's Son.
Moral - Outer darkness, with weeping and gnashing of teeth for bad Christians; (V 13) destruction for the Jews (V 7).
- Matthew XXIV 33 - The Fig Tree.
Moral (XXIV 33) - The second Advent is to be announced by various tribulations and miraculous events.
- Matthew XXIV 42-51 - The Servants.
Moral - in text - Behave, or - weeping and gnashing of teeth, as usual.
- Matthew XXV 1-12 - The ten virgins.
Moral (Verse 13) - Watch for My return; or you will get left.
- Matthew XXV 14-30 - The talents.
Moral - in text - Be faithful (apparently in Spreading the Gospel) or - more weeping and gnashing of teeth.
- Mark IV 1-20 - As No. 1.
- Mark IV 26-29 - The seed growing secretly.
Moral - Work, and heed not the event. (This is the second parable of any value.)
- Mark IV 30-32 - As No. 3.
- Mark XII 1-9 - As No. 11.
- Luke VIII 4-15 - As No. 1.
- Luke VIII 16-17 - The Candle
Moral (Verse 18). . .- Be careful how you hear. (This moral does not fit the parable.)
- Luke XII 16-21 - The Rich Man.
Moral (VV 22-34) - Do not accumulate wealth, but live like ravens or lilies.
- Luke XII 41-48 - As 14.
- Luke XIII 18 - As No. 3.
- Luke XIII 19 - As No. 4.
- Luke XIV 16 - As No. 12, but with omissions.
- Luke XV 3-6 - The lost sheep.
Moral (Verse 7) - The repentant sinner is of more value than 99 just persons.
- Luke XV 8-9 - The piece of Silver.
Moral (Verse 10) - As 28.
- Luke XV 11-33 - The Prodigal Son.
Moral - as 28 - All righteousness is worthless; repentance alone brings reward.
- Luke XVI 1-12 - The Unjust Steward.
Moral ? ? ? ?
- Luke XVI 19-31 - Dives and Lazarus.
Moral - Resurrection would not convince anyone who did not hear Moses and the Prophets.
- Luke XVIII 1-6 - The Unjust Judge.
Moral (Verses 7-8) - God will 'avenge his elect'.
- Luke XVIII 10-14 - The PHarisee and the Publican.
Moral (Verse 9) - Do not be self-righteous, or despise others. (This is the third parable of any value.)
- Luke XX 9-18 - As No. 11.
- John X 1-6 - The Good Shepherd.
Moral (Verses 7-8) - Beware all imitations; I am Unique.
Analysis has really left very little of these famous parables; only three have any signification apart from the Salvationist Theology.
Mr. Shaw begins this extremely important section with the following statement: "He has certain abnormal powers by which he can perform miracles. He is ashamed of these powers, but, being extremely compassionate, cannot refuse to exercise them when afflicted people beg him to cure them, when multitudes of people are hungry, and when his disciples are terrified by storms on the lakes. He asks for no reward, but begs the people not to mention these powers of his."
I can find no authority for the statement that Jesus felt any shame in the matter, and as to his begging the people not to mention his powers, this (once again) is the ordinary attitude of the Eastern sage. It is difficult to explain what were (and are) the exact reasons of initiates for prescribing silence. There is a certain feeling of delicacy about it, which one would have to be an initiate in order thoroughly to understand.
Mr. Shaw does not mention this, but goes on as follows: "There are two obvious reasons for his dislike of being known as a worker of miracles. One is the natural objection of all men who possess such powers, but have far more important business in the world than to exhibit them, to be regarded primarily as charlatans, besides being pestered to give exhibitions to satisfy curiosity. The other is that his view of the effect of miracles upon his mission is exactly that taken later on by Rousseau. He perceives that they will discredit him and divert attention from his doctrine by raising an entirely irrelevant issue between his disciples and his opponents." These reasons are doubtless obvious to Mr. Shaw, but they would not be obvious to any Eastern except the sub-reason about being pestered. They were certainly not obvious to Jesus.
Mr. Shaw continues to elaborate this thesis: "Rousseau shows, as Jesus foresaw, that the miracles are the main obstacle to the acceptance of Christianity. Jesus' teaching has nothing to do with miracles. If his mission had been simply to demonstrate a new method of restoring lost eyesight, the miracle of curing the blind would have been entirely relevant. But to say 'You should love your enemies; and to convince you of this I will now proceed to cure this gentleman of cataract" would have been, to a man of Jesus' intelligence, the proposition of an idiot."
Now, on the contrary, Jesus seems to regard his thaumaturgical power as the sole and sufficient reason for accepting him and his mission. Read Matthew, XI, 2 to 6. "Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them". Moreover, in the same chapter, verses 21 to 24, which have already been quoted in another connection, we see that Jesus expected every one to accept him on this ground, and on no other, and is very angry that they are not convinced.
He further specifically argues the point in the 12th chapter of Matthew, verses 22 to 28. "Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand, And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub, cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges."
In other words, he says: "The fact that I am able to cast out devils is sufficient evidence that the spirit of God is in me. If it were not so, it would surely be more sensible for me to put devils into people rather than the reverse. If you admit this argument, the conclusion is obvious, the Kingdom of God is come, as I have told you. Therefore believe."
Mr. Shaw says that Christ expected the practical good sense of his proposals to convert people, but he does not quote a single text to support this view. Nor, indeed, would it have been any use. You cannot convince any Eastern by reason. The Eastern bows to authority. Proving anything to him is a waste of time. He enjoys argument, but does not guide his conduct accordingly. He bows to authority, and if you wish to make him act in any particular manner all you need do is to exhibit your authority. You can do this only by exhibiting your power, and you can exhibit your power in only one of two ways, firstly, by miracles, secondly, by sticks. Take the well known case of John Nicholson, who so impressed the natives of the Punjab by his executive power that some of them turned him into a god, and worshipped him. He, being a particularly pious Christian, tried to beat it out of them; but the more he beat them, the more godlike he appeared!
Once again Mr. Shaw's ignorance of the East has led him astray. He has not realized the normal attitude of such people as those among whom Jesus lived. In the expedition which attempted to climb Chogo Ri in 1902, we had a Swiss doctor in the party, and at every halting place established a little clinic. Practically all the wordone was crude surgery, such as tooth-drawing, and tapping for dropsy. A great reputation was, however, acquired, and on the return journey he found the villages full of people, some brought from a great distance, waiting to be cured. But when the doctor brought out his instruments there was an immediate revulsion, or at the very least profound astonishment. They all expected to be cured by the laying-on of hands! Now, considering that these people, only a couple of months before, had seen with their own eyes the actual methods employed, the incident throws a search light on the workings of the Oriental mind.
Here then is the pitfall in which Mr. Shaw has become entrapped. These people would not only expect miracles, but create miracles out of anything that occurred which was in the least degree unusual. Not only the common people, but the most educated, believed absolutely in miracles. The whole 'history' of the Jews was a succession of miracles; and the Pharisees of the period, as is shown in the passage quoted above, had regular exorcists. We read (for instance) a rather amusing account of some competing thaumaturgists of an entirely orthodox character in Acts, XIX, 13 to 16. "Then certain of the vagabond ('vagabond' is merely the rudeness of the translators: peripatetic would have been fairer. It means the same thing, but suggests Aristotle.) Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, we adjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know: but who are ye?"
If any additional argument be required, as seems hardly credible, it is that Peter immediately upon the death of Christ bases his whole argument upon miracles. Acts II,22. "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know." Paul's trump card is always the resurrection. Mr. Shaw will doubtless reply that this merely shows the stupidity of the apostles; but that is no answer to the question as to whether miracles would or would not discredit any given teaching. The historical fact is that they did not do so. Witness the circumstance that those who call themselves Christians to-day still hang on to the miracles in spite not only of Rousseau's argument, but of those of all the free-thinkers. Is not Mr. Shaw aware that 'Paley's Evidences' is still the text book for the 'little-go' at Cambridge? When that is replaced by Tom Paine and Ingersoll, it may be admitted that the argument of Mr. Shaw had penetrated to the seats of light and learning. Mr. Shaw is perfectly right in saying that miracles would not convince him of the value of the doctrine of any man who performed them; but Mr. Shaw, like other philosophers, is too apt to think that all men are made in his image. When Immanuel Kant stated that there were certain things which every man thought, and must think, it was universally recognized that he must be a supreme genius on the ground that he was the first man who had ever thought them!
The preface continues to say that "the intellectual energy of sceptics and divines has been wasted for generations in arguing about the miracles on the assumption that Christianity is at stake in the controversy as to whether the stories of Matthew are false or true." Christianity "is" at stake. Remove the miracles, remove the prophecies, and nothing is left but a little doctrine, much of it contradictory, as has already been shown, and in any case explicable in a dozen ways beside that which appeals to Mr. Shaw. There are practically no incidents in the life of Jesus which are not miraculous, for the simple reason that the Evangelists thought anything natural not worth recording. The demolition demanded by Mr. Shaw reminds one of Berkeley's abstraction of the qualities from Hyle, or Buddha's analysis of the idea of Atman. In fact, Mr. Shaw's purpose appears to be to show that Jesus is only a name for a person who held the social, ethical, and political opinions of Mr. Shaw himself. But surely such ideas are the common property of most first-class minds.
Matthew imputes Bigotry to Jesus
The evidence on this point has already been given fully enough. No further comment is needed.
Mr. Shaw now takes us to the 16th chapter of Matthew, verses 13 to 23. "When Jesus came into the coasts of Ceasarea Phillippi, he asked his disciples saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee."
One small criticism is necessary at the outset. Mr. Shaw says: "And he accepts his destiny as a god, announcing that he will be killed when he goes to Jerusalem; for if he is really the Christ, it is a necessary part of his legendary destiny that he shall be slain." There is no trace of this John Barleycorn tradition in the Jewish hope of a Messiah. They merely expected an emancipator to restore the legendary glories of their race. Of course, there are some passages in the Hebrew Prophets which may be twisted to identify the Messiah with the 'slain god', notably the famous 53rd chapter of Isaiah. But the Jews as a class do not seem to have had any idea of this kind.
We regret that we are unable to see the 'great change' in the character of Christ observed by Mr. Shaw. Many of the claims to supernatural power, and threats of divine vengeance on those who refuse him, which have been quoted above, come from earlier chapters in the gospel.
It is not the first time, either, that Jesus has been hailed as the Son of God. See Matthew XIV. 33: "Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God."
Nor is this the first time that Jesus has shown symptoms of what Mr. Shaw in his more secularist moments would call megalomania. See Matthew, XI, 27. "All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."
In Matthew, IX, 6., he also claims the divine prerogative to forgive sins. The theological teaching of Jesus appears perfectly consistent from start to finish. It is really extraordinary, and it is painful beyond expression, to note how carelessly Mr. Shaw has read the gospel. In this section he says that Jesus "forgets his own teaching and threatens eternal fire and eternal punishment." If the reader will refer to the passages quoted above under the section, "The Teachings of Jesus", he will find the earlier curses identical in style, and in some cases identical in actual wording with the latter.
Jerusalem and the Mystical Sacrifice.
This section demands little comment; but it may be observed that Matthew says in chapter XXVII, verse 50, that 'Jesus cried again with a loud voice' after the complaint that he was forsaken, as recorded by Mr. Shaw. It is not unreasonable to suppose that this last cry was the "It is finished" recorded by other evangelists. Now these words are not merely what they seem to be. They, or their equivalents "Konx Om Pax", were the technical cry of triumph used in the initiations of the ritual of the "slain god".
At the risk of tediousness and reiteration we must complain once more of the extraordinary bias shown by Mr. Shaw in his reading of the text. He is so determined to be not merely a secularist, but a secularist determined to read history into legend, that he omits altogether any incidents in the story of the Crucifixion which might upset that reading. It is really as bad criticism as that of the ingenious gentleman who quite correctly reported Jesus as having said (Matthew, XXII, 40) "Hang all the law and the prophets."
It is submitted that this method is utterly vicious. It would be just as reasonable to take an Arabian Night from the "Alf laylah wa laylah", remove all the evidently fabulous incidents, and conclude that "there is no reason to suppose that the remainder is not a true story." Quite right; it may be true, but there is no reason why we should suppose it to be so, and where, as in this case, there is really no particular point in the story except the fabulous elements, the universe of our discourse is, so to speak reduced to zero. Mr. Shaw is anxious to convert the world to the belief that the Jesus of the Gospels was a socialist after Mr. Shaw's own heart, and his method is to take from a great mass of legend just those facts of the recorded life which suit his purpose, and just those recorded sayings which seem to bear out his contention. It would be possible to make a socialist out of Machiavelli or Hobbes, by a similar method of exegesis; and it might be rather amusing to go through the prefaces of Mr. Shaw and prove him a Tory. It would be quite easy.
Not This Man But Barabbas.
Mr. Shaw says "The choice of Barabbas thus appears as a popular choice of the militant advocate of physical force as against the unresisting advocate of mercy." As Mr. Shaw admits, he has gained this conception of Barabbas not from Matthew, but from the other gospels. It, however, is not a 'popular' choice! Read Matthew XVII, 20: "But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. "And there seems no reason to suppose that Barabbas was chosen because he advocated physical force. It seems more likely that his name was taken simply as that of a well-known man,
who happened to be popular in the way that brigands have always been from the beginning of the world. It is the romance of a brigand's life that commends him to the popular imagination. There is no reason why we should suppose that Barabbas was in any special sense an advocate of physical force. For there has never been in any country until of very late years any person so equally degenerate and imbecile as to advocate anything else as the ultimate ratio. And of course if any other plan were adopted, it would be instantly upset by the first man who chose to pick up a stick. Jesus himself is the strongest possible advocate of physical force. He boasts (Matthew XXVI, 53.) "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of Angels?" His reason for not mobilizing the angels is simply (verse 56) "that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." It is a mere postponement of the exercise of warrior power, for he says to the high priest, in verse 64. "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." How are Satan and the unbelieving to be cast into the Lake of Fire except by superior force? It hardly seems the programme for the "Unresisting advocate of mercy."
The reader should get it entirely out of his head that Jesus is a forgiving kind of person. Even in the early part of his life he announces his mission in most uncompromising terms. In Matthew X, 34, 35, we read "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." And on the Cross he says: "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do." Ignorance is the only excuse, He has a splendid chance to show nobility by forgiving Judas: and he missed it. It is utterly incomprehensible to me how this superstition of 'gentle Jesus' has endured. Even Shelley, a professed atheist, talks in "Prometheus Unbound" about 'his mild and gentle ghost wailing for the faith he kindled,' though on a previous occasion he had written of the "Galilean Serpent". No strictures can be too severe for people who deliberately mutilate texts and emasculate characters. The hell-fire evangelists are a thousand times better as critics than the Renans. Bernard Shaw, by these remarks becomes intellectually inferior to Billy Sunday!
No comment is here needed except as a further illustration of Mr. Shaw's carelessness. It is not said that Jesus was buried in the family vault of Joseph of Arimathaea. On the contrary it is (Matthew, XXVII, 60) "his own new tomb which he had hewn out in the rock." Which is a very different thing. It doesn't matter; but a man who drops eggs is not to be trusted to carry dynamite.
The Date of Matthew's Narrative
"One effect of the promise of Jesus to come again in glory during the lifetime of some of his hearers is to date the gospel without the aid of any scholarship. It must have been written during the lifetime of Jesus's contemporaries: that is, whilst it was still possible for the promise of his Second Coming to be fulfilled. The death of the last person who had been alive when Jesus said 'There be some of them that stand here that shall in no wise taste death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom' destroyed the last possibility of the promised Second Coming, and bore out the incredulity of Pilate and the Jews. And as Matthew writes as one believing in that Second Coming, and in fact left his story unfinished to be ended by it, he must have produced his gospel within a lifetime of the crucifixion. Also, he must have believed that reading books would be one of the pleasures of the kingdom of heaven on earth."
The whole argument of this paragraph appears to rest upon completely bad psychology, alike of the writer of the gospel and the readers for whom it was intended. If Matthew had been worrying about possibilities in the ordinary sense of the word, he would not have got very far with his gospel! The merest glance at Matthew's mind, the most casual and superficial appreciation of it, shows that he would have been simply amazed had any one offered to him such an argument as Mr. Shaw presents. The difficulties with regard to the Second Coming of Jesus have been pointed out often enough; and I have yet to see the Christian who was in the least disturbed by them. Very few apologists have even gone so far as to take the trouble to explain away the promise of Jesus that he would return. Such an explanation in any case is fairly easy, either on the obvious mystical tack, or by showing that the Transfiguration fulfills the promise in part, the apparitions to Stephen and to Paul in part; and so on. (Mr. Shaw seems to forget that it was thousands of years before anybody doubted that Moses the Pentateuch, although his own death and burial are described in it.)
It is a very poor argument too. There is no reason at all why a man should not describe his own death and burial. (Especially is this so with Moses, who was buried by God himself, so that no man knew where his tomb was!!! (Deut. XXXIV, 5,6.) As luck would have it, I did it myself some years ago in my "Book of Lies", chapter 65! Would Mr. Shaw quote this as a proof that the book was not written by me, and not until after my death? It never occured to religious writers of such periods to try to guard themselves against any rational criticism. The thing practically did not exist; and to this day the vast majority of Christians are absolutely incapable of understanding any such arguments, which they regard as mere blasphemy. They do not worry about it, even so much as to say that the text is corrupt or interpolated, or may be interpreted after another manner. They simply ride over it without seeing it. The most powerful arguments do not even rock the boat. The type of mind is different, the plane of thought is different. It is not possible to find a common ground for intellectual discussion between Charles Bradlaugh and Charles Sprugeon, because Bradlaugh bases everything upon the mind, and Spurgeon merely remarks "The carnal mind is enmity against God."
Moreover, all attempts of this kind to date documents are absolutely unscholarly. A document may be composite, and incorporate older elements. We might as well try to date Mark Twain's "Yankee at the Court of King Arthur" by saying that the author shows so much knowledge of the intimate life of the king that he must have been a contemporary, or at the very least have been informed by eye-witnesses. There are fifty possibilities of error in all documents of this class, and Mr. Shaw ignores them in a way that can only be called beyond amazement.
The only real way to date a book is to possess a dated copy. If I possess among (or rather above) my treasures a "Leaves from the Journal of our life in the Highlands", and that copy contain an indubitable signature of King Edward VII, authenticated by comparison with that signature in the archives of the state, one might be justified in believing that the book was genuine. The mere date upon the title-page would prove nothing. The volume might be a piracy of many years later, and all sorts of liberties might have been taken with the editing of such a book.
Any one with any knowledge of bibliography knows that this is not only possible but even likely. Witness the adventures of Burton's "Arabian Nights". We have a codex of Matthew which certainly belongs to the third or fourth century, but there is no real evidence whatever that that codex is derived from any previous codex. It may have been the first time that the manuscript ever appeared in that form.
Class Type of Matthew's Jesus.
Most of the points in this section have been dealt with previously in various places, but we must draw attention to Mr. Shaw's final admission. "All this shows a great power of seeing through vulgar illusions, and a capacity for higher morality than has yet been established in any civilized community; but it does not place Jesus above Confucius or Plato, not to mention more modern philosophers and moralists." 'All this', as has been shown, is by no means admissable. But it leaves us to expect a further revelation in some other gospel which will place Jesus above Confucius and Plato. We shall see later whether this expectation is to be realized, or whether it is in the same class of promises as that of the Second Advent. We now turn to the gospel according to Mark.