THE CHAIRMAN: Allow me to say that I do think that those persons who are not prepared to calmly listen to both sides should not have come. I for my part am very desirous of hearing what each of the disputants has to say, and I am of opinion that if I listen quietly I shall be in a better position to judge at the end of the debate than I shall be if I am continually interrupted and they are interrupted too. Do please let us have quietness: restrain your feelings. I wish that neither gentleman shall have any reason to complain of the way in which he has been treated by the audience. Mr. Roberts will now occupy a quarter of an hour, and will have the option either of making a speech or putting questions to Mr. Bradlaugh, which Mr. Bradlaugh will answer categorically.
MR. ROBERTS QUESTIONS MR. BRADLAUGH.
Mr. BRADLAUGH, do you believe that ever such a man as Saul of Tarsus existed?–I have not evidence sufficient to believe that he did exist.
Are you doubtful?–it is quite possible a man named Saul of Tarsus may have existed.
If I were to prove that the book of Acts and Paul’s epistles were in circulation at the close of the first century, would you doubt then that such a man as Paul existed and took a leading part in the establishment of the Christian faith?–I think you had better give me the proof first, and then I will tell you what my opinion is on that proof.
It will make it more worth my while to produce the proof if I have some hope of doing good.–If you produce the proof I must be convinced by it, and it is no use asking me what effect it will have on me till I see it.
I ask you whether you will accept Paul’s epistles as proof of Paul’s existence? I accept proof as a fair man, when the proof is produced.
I asked you last night how far back you allowed the New Testament to have existed, and I think you said you could trace it no further back than A.D. 150?-–I stated that the four gospels cannot be brought to a date as early as A.D.150.
Would you object to substitute in your answer the New Testament for "the four gospels"?–Yes, I certainly should.
Why do you fix on the year 150 for any part of the New Testainent?–Because I know I can show it later than that, and I always like to be on the safe side.
What is the earliest date you can show it?–That is not my business. It is your business to show it, and I decline to give you proof which it is your business to bring.
Can you trace it before 150?-–I have already said that I decline to give you proof which it is your business to bring.
Why do you fix on that year?–Because I know you cannot produce the shadow of a particle of evidence, going earlier.
Can I produce any at that time?–I don’t know what you can produce, because I don’t know how far your researches have extended.
I am speaking to a gentleman on the supposition that he is educated, and I am asking him how far the proof can be carried in his view of the case?–You will find the whole of the proof stated by me in my pamphlet, "When were our Gospels written? in my discussion with B. Harris Cooper, Esq., in Horne’s Introduction to the Bible, in Davidson’s Introduction to the New Testament, in Norton’s Introduction, and in other works of that class.
Then you cannot tell why you fix on 150?–Yes, I have told you: so that you sha’n’t catch me on a wrong date.
You have told me generally; I ask for specific information?–And I decline to give you that which it is your duty to produce.
You can’t do it, then?–Yes, I can.
Then you won’t?–No; it is your business to prove your case, not mine to make it out for you.
Then I must produce it. I first produce the book itself: every book is primafacie evidence of itself until it is disproved. –That is not true.
It is a canon of universal criticism that a document is evidence of itself until it is disproved?–No, that is not true: the book of Mormon is not evidence until it is disproved; the tale of the sea-serpent is not evidence until it is disproved.
Then you refuse to recognise the universal principle of literary criticism?–It never has been the principle of literary criticism in relation to theological Scriptures.
Well, all I can say, of course, is that you contradict the facts.–I generally do, especially when they are not true.
Can you disprove that Paul wrote the Epistles bearing his name?–It is not my business to try until you have given me the proof.
I give you the proof–I have not heard it.
"Ye see how large a letter I (Paul) have written unto you with mine own hand."
(Gal. 6:1 1).–What are you reading from?
I am reading from Paul’s epistles.–That is the book you have got to prove.
Then I produce the book as prima facie evidence. Can you disprove it? Really, that is simple nonsense. If I produce a bill signed "Robert Roberts", before I am entitled to make Robert Roberts pay, I must prove his signature.
Then I ask you, why don’t you believe the evidence I produce that Paul wrote that statement?–Because I don’t: the evidence is not sufficient to induce me to believe it. There have been so many forgeries in connection with apostolic writings that I am inclined to look at all of them as false until I have evidence of their verification.
What are apostolic writings?–Writings pretending to be by apostles.
Do you mean to say that those are apostolic writings that are not apostolic writings?–I do not mean to say anything more than my answer conveyed.
Do you mean to say a pretended thing is a thing itself?–Everything is a thing.
"A pretended thing"?–A pretended shilling is a shilling.
Is it a real one?–The difference between a pretence and a reality is that one is sham and the other is real.
I ask you if an apostolic writing is not a real apostolic writing?–A forged apostolic writing is no more a real apostolic writing than a forged bill signed "Robert Roberts" would be a real bill signed "Robert Roberts".
I ask about a real apostolic writing?–I know nothing of any real ones.
Then what do you mean by apostolic writings?–I said "forged".
"Forged!" Then I ask again, Are forged apostolic writings real?–If you don’t know the meaning of the words you have used yourself, I cannot supply you with any better.
Are forged apostolic writings real?–Forged apostolic writings are real forgeries, but are not real writings by apostles.
Then do I understand you to mean that there are no such things as real apostolic writings?–That is not my business. Show me something, and ask me whether I consider that to be so, and I will answer.
I ask you whether there are such things as real apostolic writings?–Out of the enormous mass of forgeries, I have not been able to find any.
What proof of forgery can you give me in Paul’s letters or outside of them? If you will hand me the volume of Eusebius, I will give you lots of proofs of forgeries.
I ask you about the Epistle to the Corinthians.–I have not said it is a forgery.
Then do you admit it is real?–It is not my business to do so.
Can you prove it is a forgery?–I have not said it is a forgery.
Do you believe it real?–My belief is not an atom’s weight in this debate. We are not discussing "Does Mr. Bradlaugh believe the Bible to be an authentic revelation?" We are discussing "Is the Bible an authentic revelation?" and Mr. Roberts undertook to prove it. I don’t believe those to be the writings of Paul, but I don’t necessarily involve any allegation as to forgery about them, because it is not part of my case.
I must return to my question. I must insist upon an answer whether or no Mr. Bradlaugh believes the 1st epistle to the Corinthians to be forged or real?–I don’t believe the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians to be the writing of Paul.
Then if it is not the writing of Paul, is it not a forgery?–I don’t know anything about it until you give me the evidence for it, and then I will tell you my opinion on that evidence.
What is your reason for saying it is not the writing of Paul?–Because the evidence that I have examined has not brought the opinion to my mind that it is Paul’s.
Have you any evidence that it is not?–That is my business, not yours; your business is to prove that Paul wrote it.
Is it your business to take away the foundation on which I stand?–Oh! the moment you build a foundation I will knock it away quick enough.
I ask again, are you prepared to prove Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians a forgery?–I have not said it is a forgery. I have said I do not believe that to be the writing of Paul. It is not my business to express anything more than my belief at the moment.
If it be not the writing of Paul, is it not a forgery in pretending to be so?–I can give no other answer than that I don’t believe the writing to be the writing of Paul, and that it is your business to make out that it is.
And my question is that if it be not the writing of Paul, is it not a forgery in pretending to be so?–If it does pretend to be the writing of Paul, and is not the writing of Paul, then it is a forgery; but my belief and the fact are two distinct matters.
Will you define the sense in which you used the term "forgery" as applicable to a literary document?–0 yes; I say that where I can show that the name of an author has been used for a book that he never wrote, that if that has been used intentionally then that is a forgery; but it may have been used unintentionally: then it is not a forgery but a blunder.
Then do you mean to start the theory that somebody unintentionally wrote these letters as Paul’s letters, when they were not the letters of Paul?–That is not my business.
I ask you whether that is the theory you wish to broach to-night.–I will tell you my theory in my speech.
Do you believe that Josephus, the Jewish historian, wrote, in the first century, the works which are attributed to him in our day?–I believe that the works accredited to Josephus in our day, are, with slight alterations, as Josephus left them to us.
Have you any better evidence in the case of Josephus than you have in the case of Paul?–I think yes.
Please produce it.–The business is not for me to prove the writings of Josephus, and, therefore, I decline.
Can you produce contemporary evidence of Josephus having written a work which you believe to be his? –I can produce it, only that it is no part of this debate, and therefore, I utterly decline to do it, because I have not relied on Josephus. I can produce quotations, in every age, coming through from time to time, of the writings of Josephus; but it is not my business to do it; it is no part of this debate, and I decline.