The CHAIRMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, I can understand that this process of questioning and answering might be extremely interesting if we were only permitted to listen to it quietly. Mr. Bradlaugh will now have the privilege of either making a speech or questioning Mr. Roberts.
By whom do you think the Book of Genesis was written?–By Moses.
When?–Principally while the Israelites were sojourning in the wilderness for forty years.
But about what date is that?–About 1500 years before Christ, more or less.
Can you show me any evidence that the Book of Genesis was in current circulation about 1500 years before Christ?–Yes.
Will you please give it?–I produce the book itself.
Except producing the book itself can you give any evidence that the Book of Genesis was in current circulation 1500 years before Christ?–I can give the consent of subsequent generations in an unbroken line for many centuries.
Then as you can give it in an unbroken line for many centuries, give me one in the year 1400 before Christ? — Joshua.
Give me a writing of Joshua?–I produce it.
Show it to me?–You know it.
Do you mean the Book of Joshua in the authorised version?–Yes.
Give me any evidence that Joshua wrote it?–I produce the evidence (pointing to the book).
Give me any evidence that Joshua wrote it?–Then I will read it.
Please, just give me chapter and verse as you read?–The 8th chapter of Joshua.
Please tell me the verses.–I will read them.
No; if you will tell me them I will read them: I can read them quicker.–You must allow me to read them, Mr. Bradlaugh.
No; I must read them.
The CHAIRMAN: Mr. Bradlaugh asks Mr. Roberts to produce the passage and read it; Mr. Roberts has a right to do so. That is the fair and proper way. If he occupies a long time, then the time is lost to one gentleman as much as another, when it is questioning that is going forward.
Mr. ROBERTS: "And he (Joshua) wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel." "And afterwards", verse 34, "he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law, there is not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel."
Is that the whole of your evidence that the Book of Genesis was in existence in the time of somebody who you say wrote this Book of Joshua? –No.
Then give me the evidence, because there is not a word about Genesis here: it refers to a book about law –a copy of the law written upon stones, and it does not refer to a book written by Moses; and I want you to give me the evidence that Moses wrote a book which we now have called Genesis. This evidence is that Joshua wrote a book, and not that Moses did.–Do you deny that the law there spoken of is the law of Moses?
It is your business to prove what you said you would prove.–Then I prove it again. This is a verse I did not read before.
What verse?–The 33rd. "And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side, before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, as well as the stranger as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against Mount Ebal; as Moses, the servant of the Lord, had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law." Now what is that? I will refer to Deuteronomy to prove that.
But wait a moment. Your statement was–and I recall it to you–that the Book of Genesis was written by Moses, and that you could bring evidence of that, and you said that you could bring evidence in the time of Joshua. I asked you for proof that the book was written in the time of Joshua. That you have not given me, but you read me instead a statement in the Book of Joshua–a statement that Joshua wrote a copy on the stones, and that he read it to the people. Now how is that evidence?–It is a recognition of the fact by Joshua that Moses had written a book of the law.
Where does it say so in those verses which you have just read?–It says that Joshua wrote – "According to all that is written in the book of the law", and I was proceeding to prove what that was when you interrupted me.
No, but you must prove it from Joshua. You cannot prove it from any other than Joshua until you abandon Joshua: Can you find me in the Book of Joshua a statement, that Moses wrote the book which we now have as Genesis?–I have produced it, and I have not completed my evidence.
But is there any other portion of the Book of Joshua you want to read?–Not at present.
Then I decline to allow you to read any other than the evidence you offered. Will you now give me the evidence that Joshua wrote the book from which you have just been reading?–I begin at the modern end of the line of the evidence.
No, but you will please begin where I ask you. You said you would trace it from the time, and I want you to begin by showing that Joshua wrote it.–What I said was that I relied on the Books of Moses having been written by Moses by the consent of subsequent generations in an unbroken line.
Then I want you to begin at that time. –I trace the line backwards.
But I decline to allow you. I want you to begin at the beginning, and I ask you to give me the evidence because your statement was in your speech that you would give evidence that the writings were in current circulation at the time they were produced, and I want you to show that the writing you call Joshua was in current circulation at the time it was produced.–The book itself is evidence of its production.
Show me the date of it.–What do you mean?
I mean the date on the book. You say there is a date on the book, and I want to see it.–I did not say there was a date on the book: I said the book was evidence of the date of its production.
What was the date of production?–1500 years before Christ.
Where do I get it?–By a calculation of the various dates involved in the narrative.
You spoke of the consent of subsequent generations.–Yes.
Give me the consent of someone at that time.–I produce Josephus, who–
But Josephus was–did not live at that time.–You must allow me to finish my answers.
Josephus is 1300 years at least later than the date I am enquiring about, and it is not fair when I ask for contemporary consent to give me Josephus, 1400 years later, and say that is evidence.–Mr. Bradlaugh you must allow me to answer your question, and you will see whether or not I give you the evidence you want: You break in upon me before I have done.
You said you could prove from Joshua that Moses wrote the book we call Genesis, and I want the evidence, not from Josephus, but from Joshua.–You want evidence from anywhere I can get it surely.–
No, I don’t; I want it from the witness you call Joshua.–And I have produced it.
Then show me that the book you call Joshua was in existence 1300 years before Jesus.–And I produce the book itself as evidence.
Then show me that the book was in existence.–I am about to do it, and you will not allow me.
But Josephus was 1400 years later, and I object to that. I want a witness of the date you pretend the book came. –I am going to prove it just as you would prove to me the age of Homer’s writings.
But the age of Homer’s writings is not the matter in debate. What you have said is that you can show the Book of Genesis in existence in the time of Joshua. You try to do that by quoting a book you call the Book of Joshua, and I want you to show me the Book of Joshua in existence 1400 years before Jesus.–And I am about to do it, and you will not allow me.
Then try; but not from writings 1400 years later. –If I can prove it in any way proof is proof. I produce Christ as a good witness, because–
But Christ was 1400 years later.–Mr. Bradlaugh, you ought not to interrupt my answers. If you interrupt my answers I shall decline to answer any more questions.
I will interrupt the answers if they are not answers to the question.–Then I will not answer any question, because you cannot judge till you hear my answer whether it is an answer or no.
The CHAIRMAN (to Mr. Bradlaugh): You might have avoided this difficulty by making your question a little more definite.
I have made it very definite.
The CHAIRMAN: But there was just the possibility of mistake on Mr. Robert’s part. If you say, produce me evidence from a book of that date.
Mr. BRADLAUGH: That is what I have asked for, I say, produce me evidence from the year 1400 before Christ, or about that time, that the book you call the Book of Joshua was in existence?–And I am producing the evidence, and Mr. Bradlaugh will not allow me to elaborate.
But which is the author you are going to quote? – You won’t wait to see.
The chairman has made a very fair suggestion. Can you give your evidence without quoting writers 1400 years after; yes or no? –Yes.
Which is the nearest writer to the 1400th year before Christ that you can quote? –At the very time.
Very well: now we have got it. Then quote me some writer at the very time to show that Joshua wrote the book.–Joshua.
But how can you prove that Joshua wrote it?–By evidence which you have prevented me giving. You know there are no books extant in the world except the Bible that existed at that age.
Oh! then now your answer is, there are no books extant in the world except the Bible which existed at that age? –Yes.
Then were you wrong when you said that you would give evidence that the writings were in current circulation at the time they were produced?–No: I was not wrong.
But how can you give evidence if you have only got the book itself to rely on? The book itself is prima facie evidence until it is disproved.
Do you mean to say, then, that every book in the world is prima facie evidence for the truth of its contents. –Until it is disproved.
Of course. But I say, do you mean that every book in the world is prima facie evidence of the truth of its contents?–It is prima facie proof of its authenticity, which is another point altogether. I admit the authenticity of the Koran, but I do not believe the contents.
But wait a moment. You have said two things; first, that you would show that the Book of Genesis was written by Moses, and that it was in circulation 1500 B.C.–Yes.
Asked for your proof, you simply quote a certain text from the Book of Joshua.–I do not simply do so; I was about to do that which you will not allow me to do.
Pardon me for a moment. Have you any other evidence outside the Bible of the circulation of the books at all: yes or no? –In a general way, yes.
Give it in a general way, then, outside the Bible.–I will only refer to it in a general way, because I presume you are acquainted with the facts, and that as an honest man you will–
Give it in a general way.–I prove it by the evidence of Ptolemy Philadelphus’ library.
But is Ptolemy Philadelphus within a thousand years of Joshua?–No; but the presence of the Septuagint there is evidence that logically goes far back beyond the library itself.