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they have at least acted as a permanent antidote against egotism and cruelty. Their beneficent influence is not only a thing of the past, but of the future. I do not share the opinion that they have as yet been superseded by some sort of a lay philosophy or theosophy.

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CHAPTER I

CHRISTIAN ORIGINS

Myth and history,The Canon of the New Testament—The orthodox tradition

as to the Evangelists—The conclusions of criticism on this point, The date of our Gospels—The synoptical Gospels—Testimony of PapiasThe composition of the synoptical Gospels—The Fourth Gospel --The lack of historical authority for the Gospels—The idea of the MessiahThe silence of secular writers—The testimony of Tacitus-Uncertain chronology of the life of Jesus—Uncertainty as to His trial and deathThe Docetes—The Christ of St. Paul—The supposed fulfilment of prophecies—The apocryphal Gospels—The Epistles of St. Paul-Chronology of St. Paul's apostolate—The Catholic Epistles—The Epistle of St. John and the verse of the "three witnesses "— The Apocalypse of St. JohnThe Apocalypse of St. Peter-Various Epistles-The Pastor of HermasThe Symbols and the Doctrine of the Apostles—The pseudo-Clementine writings-Simon Magus-Antichrist.

1. The beginning of every history is shrouded in legend; Christianity is no exception to the rule. The Churches insist that the legends of Christianity are pure history; if this were so, it would be the greatest of miracles,

2. Christianity belongs to a group of religions quite different from the official creeds of Judæa, Greece and Rome. The essential feature of the former group consists of initiation into the cult of a Saviour-God, who assumed human form, taught, suffered, died and rose from the dead; the reward of the initiated is salvation. Such were the religions of Osiris, Dionysos, Orpheus, Adonis, Attis, and the like. Christianity is the most recent of its class, the only perfectly moral and decent one, and the only one that has triumphed and survived. But it differs from all the others in a very striking peculiarity: the Saviour-God of the Christians lived in historical times, not in a remote, obscure and unattainable past. So what we may call, for analogy's sake, the myth of Christ, the evolution of which can be clearly traced from the time of St. Paul and of the Fourth Gospel, must be distinguished from the history of Jesus :

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a most difficult task, the more so as our earliest documents relating to Jesus are already steeped in miracle and myth.

3. Twenty-seven little Greek compositions, all the work of Christian writers, compose what is known as the Canon or rule of the New Testament. They are: the four so-called canonical Gospels 1 (the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), the Acts of the Apostles, twenty-one letters attributed to Apostles (Paul, Peter, John, James and Jude), and the Apocalypse or Revelation attributed to St. John.

4. This Canon was practically established about 350 A.D., after the Council of Nicæa (A.D. 325), and was confirmed for the Western churches by St. Augustine in 397; the only doubtful item was the Apocalypse, and this was still considered not altogether above suspicion in France during the eighth century. But the first idea of a Canon dates from A.D. 150; it was the reputed heretic, Marcion, who then formed the first collection of the kind, which included Luke and the majority of the Pauline epistles. Down to this time all quotations from “the Scriptures” in the works of the Apostolic Fathers (or early orthodox Christian writers) refer almost exclusively to the Old Testament.

5. A mutilated Latin catalogue, discovered at Milan by the Italian scholar Muratori (1672–1750) and dating from about 150 to 200 A.D., enumerates all the essentials of our Canon, but adds the Apocalypse of St. Peter, which has been discovered in Egypt in our own times. This catalogue was probably the Canon of the Roman Church in the second century.

6. It is supposed that the definitive Canon was formed of the collected writings which were read in the majority of the large Churches, and considered in harmony with the average opinion of Christendom. There could, of course, have been no question in those days of a scientific criterion, based on the origin and history of these writings. “If it be true that the Church applied a certain critical judgment to the choice and

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· Euangelion (Greek), i.e. "good news.”.

:“ It may be confidently asserted that these writers (Christians of the first half of the second century) did not know our Gospels, or, if they did know them, that they never mention or quote them, which comes to the same thing for us.” (Michel Nicolas, Études sur la Bible, vol. ii. p. 5).

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