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Charles Bradlaugh Roberts Bradlaugh Night5 5bradlaugh1

Mr. BRADLAUGH: I will dispose of a matter of fact first. Mr. Roberts has said that he had Tatian, Theophilus, Mileto, Athenagoras, Barnabas, Polycarp, Ignatius and others giving evidence as to the existence of the New Testament gospels, before A.D. 150. 1 call for the writings of Tatian, and I sit down until they are produced. (Hear, hear.)

Mr. ROBERTS: I have handed the documents to the chairman.

Mr. BRADLAUGH: Producing them to the chairman won’t do for me. Produce me extracts from Tatian. I have them all lying before me, and not one of them says what you pretend to say they do. If the book is there, I ask that it may be put into my hands. If not, Mr. Roberts has claimed credit for what he did not possess.

Mr. ROBERTS: I never admitted I possessed the book in the sense of which you speak.

Mr. BRADLAUGH: Give me the best reference you can. I don’t want you to read it if you will give me the reference.

Mr. ROBERTS: I find in the case of Tatian it is the name of one of his books I rely upon as evidence of the existence of the New Testament, viz.: his Harmony of the Four Gospels.

Mr. BRADLAUCH: Don’t take up my time. Give me the books. Then I will read you what it is. I ask what I am to say to a man who pretended to put into the hands of the chairman that which he has not got. The first reference to Tatian is in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, in the 29th chapter. I ask if it is not wretched audacity for anyone to pretend that Eusebius’ history is any sort of testimony whatever? Having denied that testimony, I now ask for Theophilus.

Mr. ROBERTS: I say the book is not here. There is evidence of "three books to Autolycus. "

Mr. BRADLAUGH: You cannot produce it to me. The man offers to put the books in the hands of the chairman and yet they are not produced. So that the debate is simply ended so far as concerns the evidence put into my hands. I have got it all here. I ask for the book, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. ROBERTS: I never said I had it.

Mr. BRADLAUGH: Then the matter is disposed of so far as regards Theophilus. I ask for Mileto, and if it is not produced I won’t go on with the debate.

Mr. ROBERTS: I produce evidence of Mileto having written a work, in which —

Mr. BRADLAUGH: Give me the book and I will read it.

Mr. ROBERTS: I produce the evidence upon which I founded my argument last night.

Mr. BRADLAUGH: Mr. Roberts offered to leave in the hands of the chairman the evidence upon which the argument was based, and it is not produced. I say there is nothing in Mileto capable of the construction he put upon it, and I say he has no extract capable of the construction put upon it.

Mr. ROBERTS: I said he wrote a work in which he indirectly recognises the New Testament by speaking of the Old. I gave the title of it as my argument. The shorthand writer will bear me out in what I say.

Mr. BRADLAUGH: Mr. Roberts has made an appeal to the shorthand writer. I know that there is a trustworthy gentleman (Mr. Arthur Andrew, of London) employed by Mr. Roberts’ friends, and I call upon him to read from Mr. Roberts’ first speech. If my memory serves me rightly, I remember that, over and over again, I challenged him to produce the authorities upon which he relied, and he at last said he would. As we are not to have Mileto, I ask for Athenagoras. I will wait for Athenagoras. Are you going to produce it?

Mr. ROBERTS: I will give you the quotation from him on which I rely.

Mr. BRADLAUGH: I don’t want you to occupy my time with quotations. I must decline to continue the debate if I am to be thus dealt with. I say it is the greatest pretence of evidence I ever heard in my life. I am ashamed of it.

Mr. ROBERTS: I have submitted the evidence to the Chairman.

Mr. BRADLAUGH: But evidence submitted to the Chairman I don’t accept as produced evidence. Give it to me.

Mr. ROBERTS: Then I will read it.

Mr. BRADLAUGH: Give it to me.

Mr. ROBERTS: I will when I have read it.

Mr. BRADLAUGH: But why can’t you give it me now?

Mr. ROBERTS: I have my own reasons. I will give you the book when I have read the quotation.

Mr. BRADLAUGH: It is manifestly unfair that this man should take up my half-hour.

Mr. ROBERTS: It is in answer to your own request.

Mr. BRADLAUGH: He is going to quote from Athenagoras.

Mr. ROBERTS: I read from his petition on behalf of the Christians –(Page 11.) He said to the Emperor, in answer to the charge of Atheism: "To convince we are not mere Atheists, hear the maxims in which we are instructed: I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." That is a quotation from Matthew made in the middle of the second century.

Mr. BRADLAUGH: Give me the book. [Mr. Roberts hands the book to Mr. Bradlaugh.] Now, friends, Mr. Roberts said he would read to you from Athenagoras to prove the existence of the gospels in the middle of the second century, and he begins by referring to his charge to the Emperor, and says the quotation is from Matthew. I say there is nothing in any writings attributable to Athenagoras that refers to Matthew at all. I say that that is an addition by a man called Brewer, and has no existence in Athenagoras at all–(A VOICE IN THE AUDIENCE: "That is only your assertion.")–Thank you for saying that is my assertion. I have taken the trouble to become acquainted with the matter, and I am not like the man who says he is not obliged at all to produce his authorities. When you tell me a man challenges another with access to a library, he ought to be armed with the evidence itself, instead of bringing Brewer’s paltry work.

Now, I ask you to hear what Murchine says, and you will judge of how much or how little Mr. Roberts knows of these things when I come to read it to you. You will find that one of the epistles he quoted to you was the epistle of Barnabas. Murchine says that, whilst, in his opinion, the epistle was the production of some Jewish writer, it was clearly a different person from Barnabas; and we find him saying just before, with reference to a number of works which bear the name of Clement:–"The epistles of Clement were falsely ascribed to that eminent father, for the purpose of securing for them great authority; and we find, during these times, various histories full of imposition and fable were composed by persons addicted to pious frauds, and were palmed upon the world." That is the evidence of your own witness against you. Now I put to you this, and I beg you will bear your mind upon it.

You have cited Ignatius, Barnabas, Hermas, Clement, and Polycarp, to prove the writings of the apostles, and my answer to that was that, so far as they were concerned, not one of the gospel authors was mentioned in one of them–not one. I read to you from Justin Martyr a statement showing that whatever documents they did quote were not the documents of our gospels. I told you last night that I was fully assured that the writings of Tatian did not exist. Why did you not come here to-night and frankly say, "It is perfectly true, they do not exist"? for you clearly ought not to have quoted that with which you were not acquainted. It is perfectly true Mr. Roberts only relied on the name of Mileto’s book; but I ask whether this is the style in which a debate of this kind should be conducted, when a speaker cannot pretend to something more than mere names. Mr. Roberts has told you, with respect to the Septuagint and Samaritan versions of the Pentateuch, that he relies on the Septuagint version, which is the only version available for the Pentateuch, the Samaritan only extending to the letter of the law and not one line beyond that.

I have put this in the Free Thinkers’ Text Book, and had come prepared for hearing the strongest things about it. Dr. Haynes says about the Septuagint, or Greek version, that it is not the original Bible, but what the interpreters have made it. Strictly speaking it appears to be the growth of at least two generations, and we might expect this from the nature of the thing. Mr. Roberts quoted Josephus as an authority for the Septuagint version, but there is no evidence, even in Josephus, as to the whole Septuagint. The express language of Josephus limits the translation to the books of the law, whatever they may mean; and therefore it is utterly impossible he could mean the whole of the Old Testament book. Mr. Roberts quotes Eusebius, whose works he calls trashy–don’t forget, "trashy"–and, if trashy, he should not have produced them. You can buy the work at any library for 5s.6d. Then, as to the letters of Ignatius, if some editions of them are forgeries, the great question is, which edition is and which is not a forgery. But come, if you please, a little further, to Spinoza, who says, "of the author or authors we know almost nothing; we entertain great doubts if they were written by the persons whose names they bear." If with Mr. Roberts we are to take Josephus, then the Old Testament he referred to is clearly not the book we have to-day. Thousands of passages might be read to show that the book he refers to is not the book Mr. Roberts is here to defend; and when Mr. Roberts tells me these are mere trifling matters, I want to know where the trifles are to begin or end? I cannot understand. If Mr. Roberts had said that he relied on the New Testament to prove the Old, I could have understood him. But is there anything in the New Testament to prove the existence of the Old? There is no mention of the book, beginning with Genesis and ending with Malachi. The very Septuagint contains matters of fact which are entirely different from our Bible. I pass from this to refer to what has been said as to Paul. None of the authorities who have been quoted refer to Paul at all, though we certainly have the manufactured Christian evidences, which are the most childish authority in the world. I make no concealment of the fact that I do come prepared with authoritative evidences to support my views. If I were not I should not be fit to take part in a debate of this kind. I may now refer you to Lord Amberley’s new book. p.254. I am not reading this as evidence. I am reading an expression of opinion from a book in which I find every research. [Here Mr. Bradlaugh read an extract from Lord Amberley’s new work, which the shorthand writer has not supplied.]

Let us look at some more of the internal evidence. We have a statement that, before the baptism, John knew Jesus, and thought himself unworthy to baptise him, and we have a statement that he did not know him before, but knew him on the announcement, "This is my beloved Son". We have Matthew 11:2, 3, and Luke 7:19. John sending to enquire whether Jesus was the Christ or not? We should think if John heard the declaration, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased", he would not have thought it necessary to send messengers to ascertain whether Jesus was the Christ or not. And what answer did Jesus give? He does not remind John of the scene at the baptism, but he says, "Go and tell John you have seen me performing miracles, that the blind see, the lame walk, the leper is cleansed." I submit that one of these two statements is untrue, and that the entire part of the book which contains them cannot be otherwise. I would refer to the miracle of the loaves and fishes, where Jesus fed five thousand with five loaves and two small fishes; and I would refer to the worthy disciples, and to their forgetfulness of the miracles afterwards. In either case an authentic revelation of God would not be made in so ridiculous a fashion. Take the case of the miracle which is recited in three different ways in three of the evangelists– I mean the miracle of casting out the devils. Was it one man or two men? Was there one devil or two? or a legion? Is the story true or untrue, or is it divine revelation at all? If you took any other book with so many contradictions in so many pages you would resign or reject it. I come now to the alleged cursing of the fig tree. We are told that Jesus came to the fig tree, when the season was not in, and cursed it, because it had no fruit, which it could not have, not being the season. I ask, is that an authentic revelation? And take that declaration of Christ which is most important according to you–I mean the death and resurrection of Jesus. Take the gospels of Matthew and Mark; the last recorded words of Jesus, according to Matthew and to Mark, are, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani". If Jesus deemed God had forsaken him, when his death was to save the world, and he had so little confidence as to cry, in the bitterness of despair, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" am I to be condemned because I cannot see such a thing divine? Is not this the language of an enthusiast who had deluded others, and a man who was himself deluded? It is not certainly the language of a man who believed in the truth of his mission, which was to redeem the world. I refer you again to Matt. 2:5, 6, where there is a pretended quotation from Micah 5:2, making Bethlehem the place of the advent of the governor that shall rule my people Israel. This made Hosea (11:1) deliberately untrue, for it was there said, "Out of Egypt have I called my son". My time is gone, and gone in such a way with nothing to answer that I need not regret it.

The CHAIRMAN: I may say, in my position of referee on points of order, I should not consider myself as referee on a subject like that submitted by Mr. Roberts, unless at the request of both parties. If, when the discussion is fully over, the gentlemen choose to refer any point to me I will have no objection, as far as I am concerned, but nothing but a mutual request would induce me to act in this way. Mr. Roberts will now occupy a quarter of an hour, either by a speech or by questioning Mr. Bradlaugh, who will answer categorically.

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