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Charles Bradlaugh Roberts Bradlaugh Night1 1roberts3

The CHAIRMAN: Mr. Roberts will now occupy six minutes out of the twelve remaining, and then Mr. Bradlaugh will reply till ten o’clock.

Mr. ROBERTS: Ladies and gentlemen; if Mr. Bradlaugh would strictly confine himself to accuracy in his representations of what I say, my arguments would not suffer in his hands. I have not represented that those authorities I have quoted were contemporary. I have given, in each case, the year in which they wrote.


Mr. ROBERTS: I have. I stated that Clement wrote A.D. 83, and that Tertuflian wrote in the middle of the second century. I gave those general indications, and certainly never committed myself to the absurdity of supposing that men living in the first century and the second could, by any construction, be said to be contemporary. He has given me a great many passages to explain. I wish he would give me them as questions. I will undertake to answer every one of them if they are put to me in the colloquial style of the Socratic method; but how can I, in six minutes, explain twenty or thirty alleged discrepancies, which discrepancies I am persuaded, do not exist. I have read through a list of 144 so-called contradicitons, issued by a Secular Society in America; and with the exception of some five or six, there is not even the shadow of a difficulty to contend with, and every one of them in the process of question and answer, I would undertake to explain, and I would do so in a speech, were the speech of sufficient dimensions to admit of it. With regard to the Septuagint, I did not speak at random in saying what I said; I gave the evidence on which my statement rests. There is the Septuagint; there is such a book; it is substantially a transcript of the Hebrew Scriptures, though I grant there are discrepancies of the sort he mentioned; that is to say, the chronology does not agree; there has been tampering somewhere, undoubtedly, but there is the fact; here is a literary monument, which, apart from all discrepancies, certainly proves what I quoted it to prove: and that is, that the Hebrew Scriptures existed as a literary compilation, at least in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, and I do not produce it to prove anything more than that. The simplest mind is capable of receiving that argument; for where does the Septuagint come from, if there were not Hebrew Scriptures from which to make a translation? What is the account of it? Josephus here gives us an account of it. We have both the book, and an account of how the book came into existence. The only thing Mr. Bradlaugh can do is to say, "How do I know that Josephus is speaking the truth?" He tells us he believes in Eusebius because there is an unbroken line of reference; and then, as I proceed to unfold my references in regard to Paul, he says, "How do I know that he wrote that letter you are referring to?" On the principle that Mr. Bradlaugh is contending for to-night, I deny that he can possibly prove that there ever existed such a person as Eusebius, or that he ever wrote the books that bear his name; indeed, he cannot prove the existence of Shakespeare on the same principle, for he never saw him, and he has no certain evidence that he wrote the book–that is to say upon his principle. I admit that there is evidence in regard to Shakespeare, and in regard to Eusebius, and in regard to Paul; and there would never have been any objection to the evidence in regard to Paul if his case had not involved evidence of Christ’s resurrection. I produce, then, this statement of Josephus in reference to the Septuagint.-(Josephus’s Antiquities,–book 12, sections 1 and 4.) Those two sections contain a sufficiency of evidence on the point. I will read one or two extracts, though I am afraid the time will scarcely admit of it to-night. Of course, I am well aware that critics have written against it; but, nevertheless, my remark, in its general form, is unimpeachable, and that is, that critical, judicial, clear, unbiassed minds there are that receive the Septuagint as the translation made in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus.

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