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Charles Bradlaugh Roberts Bradlaugh Night1 1bradlaugh2

Mr. BRADLAUGH: First, the evidence as to the Septuagint is exactly the opposite to the statement Mr. Roberts has made, and it shows, therefore, the misfortune in conducting this debate without giving authorities as we go on. Mr. Roberts — and I am quite sure that he means to tell you, at least I think so, what he believes to be true — Mr. Roberts must be utterly unacquainted with all the criticism on the subject, or he would know, when he says that it is accepted and recognised by all educated men, that one of the very latest amongst orthodox writers, the Rev. Dr. Irons, one of the officials of St. Paul’s at the present moment, in his book, entitled The Bible and its Interpreters, says no man knows when the Septuagint was translated, who translated it, where the version was made, or how it was made; and I will undertake to prove to you that the balance of criticism is utterly against your view; so that it shows that, in these kind of statements, you want to know the evidence on which your antagonists rely. I do not want to be in the painful position of telling Mr. Roberts each time, Your statement is not true. I want him to give me the evidence on which he relies, and then I will show him where the supposed evidence is no evidence at all; but if he simply makes general statements, and tells you that it is accepted and recognised by all educated men, when a statement of that kind simply means that he has not read what educated men have written about it; and when he tells you that it is the matter of chronology alone, one version differs about 900 years; and in another version the difference is over 1,200 years from the Hebrew, and, therefore, cannot possibly be a translation of it. Mr. Roberts has got to prove his case, and I must ask him to state his evidence on which he relies for the Septuagint translation, and then I will reply to it. Evidently, Mr. Roberts and I differ as to what is evidence. He said he was going to prove from Justin Martyr the existence of the Four Gospels, and he read to you something about Memorials of the Apostles, but what on earth there is to identify those with the Four Gospels, in the books, as we have got them, I do not know, and it requires a mind like Mr. Robert’s to get the evidence out of it. That passage says nothing of any gospels, and would be as good evidence for forty gospels as for four; and I will show you that in the time of Justin Martyr, forty gospels and writings of apostles existed, at least; and I will tell Mr. Roberts where he can get a list of them — in the Rev. Jeremiah Jones’s Canon of the New Testament. Jeremiah Jones has made an index of what he calls the Apocryphal Books and Gospels. Then he says that he read from Josephus’s testimony. Well now, there again we differ as to the meaning of words. He was to prove from Josephus that Solomon wrote the Proverbs, and that Josephus had knowledge of the evidence which entitled him to say that Solomon wrote the Proverbs; and when he read it, there was not a word about Solomon, not a single word about the Proverbs. Well, if that is evidence, the sooner we leave off this debate the better. Then again, he quoted Clement of Rome, and he did not quote; and here is another difficulty: if my friend brought here the works themselves to quote from, I should be able to say, if he told me which edition it was, "turn to the preface, and you will find my arguments against it there, in the handwritings of your own men;" but when he simply quotes loose statements from other writers, there is no sort of reply to that kind possible. And when he says, "Oh! if Mr. Bradlaugh disputes, I will prove", that is not the question: his business is to prove as he goes on, and not to make loose statements, which require proof at some later time. Now, he says something about the women who went to the tomb, and he gave me chapter and verse, as he saw I was looking at the Bible; but he did not know what I was referring to. I want to know whether God revealed that, according to Matt. 28, two women went; or, according to John 20:1, that one woman went; or, according to Luke 24, that several women went; and I want to know whether Mary went by herself, or whether several went with her; and I want to know whether that is one of the surface contradictions which Mr. Roberts had forgotten, and which he said he would look up for me. Then Mr. Roberts is good enough to say that he will refer you to Acts 28:23. But what does that prove? Simply that there were current in the alleged time of Jesus, works which were called the law of Moses and the prophets. I have never denied that. But you have got first to identify those with the Bible as we have them, and then to prove that this is divine revelation. A loose statement of that kind is no sort of evidence at all. It is only evidence of the existence of something called the "law of Moses"; and I will defy Mr. Roberts to identify the Pentateuch with those words, because I will show you from the Bible itself plenty of places in which the word "law" is used, which cannot possibly mean the whole of the contents of the Pentateuch. And do not forget that Mr. Roberts has not said one word about the texts to which I called his attention: these texts affecting the goodness, omnipotence and immutability of Deity. Those are passed over; and then he tells you that all educated men have abandoned the mythical theory regarding the Christ. Well, now, that is really a little too strong. I do not know that it would amount to anything if it were proved; but it is not even, in the remotest degree proved. What most men are prepared to concede is what I conceded in the answer to Mr. Roberts. The name which is rendered "Jesus", is only a form of the Hebrew word "Joshua". It is quite possible there was a real man on whom the myth has been centred; but there is not an educated man who admits a real Jesus, who was born without a father; whose husband’s mother had two fathers; who lived at the same time in Judea and Egypt; who was known by John, and not known by him at the same moment of time; who was crucified, and in the grave three days and three nights, between late on Friday evening and the period which elapsed before Saturday night was quite over. Now, if Mr. Roberts should tell me those statements are not in the Bible, he will have an opportunity of asking me for texts, and he will find that I can quote him chapter and verse for every one of them. Now, I will ask him to take another illustration; whether Genesis 28:20, 21, where God is represented as saying that the story has reached Him about Sodom and Gomorrah, and that He is going to inquire, and will know — whether that is consistent with the omniscience of Deity, and whether what follows is consistent with the goodness of the Deity? And don’t forget here that I hold exactly the doctrine put forward by John Stuart Mill: I hold that you have not the right to apply the word "goodness" in one sense in reference to man, and in some other sense in reference to God, and then tell me you cannot explain what that second sense is. I hold it is an entire abandonment of the whole of the debate to make any such contention as that. If Mr. Roberts does not know what goodness means, he ought not to be here; if he does, he ought to tell us. He ought not to tell us that goodness for God may not mean the same thing now as it may a thousand years hence, or as it did a thousand years since. A book which represents as an all-good God, guilty of evil acts, cannot be a Divine revelation. Then I will ask him as to Dent. 8:2, and 2 Chron. 32:3 1, whether these are consistent with God’s omniscience? I will ask him whether the whole story of the Fall, omitting its absurdities, is not one of the most monstrous stories as a picture of the character of the Deity? whether it does not picture God making the Garden of Eden a damnation-trap in which to catch the whole of the human race, so that he may punish them; I will ask him whether the whole story of the Deluge, admitting its monstrous improbabilities and impossibilities, does not picture God as a cruel Deity, who would delight rather in punishing than reforming, and who slaughtered all living beings, the innocent with the guilty; I will ask him whether the case of Jacob and Esau, referred to in Mal. 1:2, does not show that God either loved the man because he was a rascal, or in spite of it; because he was a liar, or in spite of it; because he helped to rob his uncle; or in spite of it; because he cheated his brother, or in spite of it; and whether it does not show that He hated Esau, because he had the misfortune to be cheated, and the virtue to be forgiving, or in spite of it. I submit that on either contention it is utterly inexplicable with the contention that the Bible is the revelation of God. And then I will take him to 1st Kings 11:33, 34, 38; 14:8, where it says David never did anything but good; did only that which was right in the sight of God; I will ask him whether David was not a thief, a liar, a murderer, a perjurer, an adulterer, a traitor, a scoundrel, all through, who did not even repent when he died? how could such a man have obeyed all God’s statutes and commandments? And I will point out to him that, very curiously, he is wasting all his learned evidence on people who are certainly very remote from the time of Moses, and he does it in the funniest way, for he quotes you Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, Clement of Rome; and he talks of "those days", as if they all lived at that time. Would you talk of a man who lived in 1745, and another who lived in 1845, as living in "those days"? Now, I ask my friend not to assume that I am ignorant of all these things. I do not assume to be a learned man, but there is not an author he can quote in relation to this subject that I will not, when he has quoted him, tell him what can be said for or against him.

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