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Chapter 15

Joseph Wheless

                33 page printout, page 306 - 338
                           CHAPTER XV

                  MORE "HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS"


     WE have thus reviewed the salient features of the recorded
events of the birth and career of the Man of Nazareth, and thus
have been enabled to form an intelligent, if amazed, judgment as to
their inspired and historical verity. Let us regard now the closing
scenes of the sacred tragedy of the Son of Yahveh made man, in the
distressing episodes of his betrayal, condemnation, and ignominious
death, and in his glorious triumph over death, his resurrection
from the dead, his various subsequent appearances to the living,
and his transcendent ascension into heaven to sit with his Father
Yahveh until his coming again in glory to establish his promised
kingdom -- which he was to have established during his life on
earth; no return, or "second coming," for this purpose is once

                         THE LAST SUPPER

     The holding and eating of a Jewish passover supper by thirteen
poor wandering Jews, in a borrowed dining room (Matt. xxvi, 18, 19;
Mark xiv, 14, 15; Luke xxii, 9-13), would seem to be a simple
affair, to be narrated by divinely inspired chroniclers with little
effort and with fair chances for truth. But already one inspired
contradiction stares us in the face. Was it the passover supper or
just an ordinary meal? Three of the gospel recorders declare
expressly that the Last Supper was the passover meal; John says
that it was a supper eaten before the passover.

     According to the synoptists: "The disciples came to Jesus,
saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat
the passover? ... And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed
them; and they made ready the passover. Now when the even was come,
he sat down with the twelve" (Matt. xxvi, 17, 19, 20; Mark xiv, 12,
14, 16, 17; Luke xxii, 7, 8, 11, 13, 14). Luke quotes Jesus
expressly as saying, after they were all seated: "With desire I
have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer" (Luke
xxii, 15). Thus it was the passover supper. But John positively
controverts this, saying: "Now before the feast of the passover,
when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of
this world unto the Father. ... And supper being ended" (John xiii,
1, 2), then it was that the devil instigated Judas to betray Jesus.
The Last Supper was thus before the passover and was not the
passover supper.

     That one of the Twelve should betray him Jesus announced
during the Last Supper: "And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say
unto You, that one of you shall betray me" (Matt. xxvi, 21; Mark
xiv, 18). But it was after the supper was finished and the cup
passed that Jesus made the announcement: "Behold, the hand of him
that betrayeth me is with me on the table" (Luke xxii, 20, 21; John
xiii, 2, 21). Judas thereupon asked: "Master, is it I? He said unto
him, Thou hast said" (Matt. xxvi, 25); but according to John,
instead of this direct question by Judas, betraying his guilty
conscience, and the affirmative answer of Jesus, John, at the 

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instance of Peter, asked the question: "Lord, who is it? Jesus
answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop. ... And ... he gave
it to Judas Iscariot" (John xiii, 23-26). The identity of the
betrayer was not, however, disclosed, according to Mark; each of
the Twelve asked him "one by one, Is it I? ... And he answered and
said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in
the dish" (Mark xiv, 19-20); Luke says only that the disciples
"began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that
should do this thing," and Jesus made no disclosure other than the
remark above quoted (Luke xxii, 21, 23). Yet John represents the
disciples as not knowing or understanding what Jesus meant: for
after Judas had received the sop, "Satan entered into him. Then
said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the
table knew for what intent he spake this unto him" (John xiii, 27,
28). And Judas, "having received the sop went immediately out: and
it was night" (John xiii, 30); though Judas had already been
possessed of Satan, and had arranged the betrayal for the thirty
pieces, some days before the last passover (Matt. xxvi, 14-17; Mark
xiv, 10, 11; Luke xxii, 3-7).


     Immediately after the Last Supper a ceremony was performed by
Jesus, which the synoptists declare to have been the Lord's Supper
or Eucharist, but which John asserts was the simple act of washing
the feet of the disciples. (John was the only gospel writer
present.) John does not mention the former institution, and the
others do not mention the foot washing; but both are said to have
been the final act of Jesus before going out to Gethsemane and

     During the supper and before the ceremony of the Eucharist,
Jesus passed a cup of wine to the disciples, and said: "I will not
drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come
(Luke xxii, 18). But the remark, according to Matthew, was not made
until after the ceremonial of the Lord's Supper, and in connection
with it, and Jesus said that he would no more drink of the fruit of
the vine "until that day when I drink it new with you in my
Father's kingdom" (Matt. xxvi, 26-29). The difference here is
great: one statement is that he would drink again on earth when the
kingdom of God was come, as it was scheduled to do immediately; the
other is that he would drink it with the disciples some time in
heaven. Mark also makes the statement come after the ceremony, and
Jesus was to drink either on earth or in heaven, but quite alone;
the disciples were not included in the invitation: "until that day
that I drink it new in the kingdom of God" (Mark xiv, 25).
According to two reports the cup was passed but once, and the
remark of Jesus was made at that time (Matt. xxvi, 26-30; Mark xiv,
22-26); the other says the cup was passed twice, first during
supper, when the remark was made, and "likewise after supper," when
the Eucharist was instituted (Luke xxii, 17, 18, 20).

     Just what this eucharistic ceremonial was and whether it was
intended as a perpetual memorial or was for that occasion only is
a question of first concern, and like all other gospel truth is
sadly confused and contradictory. If John, who was the only
evangelist who attended the Last Supper, is believed, there was no 

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eucharistic ceremony at all; only foot washing (John xiii, 4-12).
But according to the synoptists, Jesus took bread and wine, blessed
them, and passed them to the disciples, saying, as to the bread:
"Take, eat; this is my body" (Matt. xxvi, 26; Mark xiv, 22); or,
"this is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of
me" (Luke xxii, 19). Luke's report cannot be authentic if the other
two are true. The chief tangle of inspiration is with respect to
the wine. What was the mystic purpose for which the Christ's blood
was to be shed?

     Jesus said, according to Matthew:

          "Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new
     testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
     (Matt. xxvi, 27, 28)

     Jesus said, according to Mark:

          "This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for
     many." (Mark xiv, 24)

     Jesus said, according to Luke:

     "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for
you." (Luke xxii, 20)

     More notable discrepancies on a more important tenet of
Christianity there could hardly be. The blood of Jesus, symbolized
by the wine, was shed for the disciples only, "shed for you" alone,
says Luke; it was "shed for many," but for whom is not specified,
according to Mark; it was "shed for many for the remission of
sins," according to Matthew, who is notoriously the purveyor of the
amplest inspiration, and always embellishes the reports of the
others. This revelation of the greatest of Christian doctrines, the
atonement, is either falsely ascribed by Matthew to Jesus; or Mark
and Luke have ignorantly or intentionally omitted it. The words
attributed to Jesus by Luke are entirely different from those
quoted by the others, even in the first part of the sentence. Not
more than one of the three can possibly be accurate; the other two
are necessarily false.

     With respect to the bread only one of the three quotes words
which are construed as establishing a permanent institution: "Do
this in remembrance of me" (Luke xxii, 19). This is far from having
the immense significance attributed to the simple words. One single
instance suffices for a token of remembrance of a departing friend
or companion; a farewell kiss is very often "something to remember
me by," perhaps, by the very circumstances of the incident, never
to be repeated. Matthew and Mark do not record even this ambiguous
remark; and John omits the whole of the Lord's Supper.

     John only of the Gospel recorders was an eye and ear witness
to the proceedings of the -- not passover, but simply last meal
together. The "supper being ended" Jesus "riseth from supper, and
laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
After that he poureth water in a bason, and began to wash the 

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disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was
girded. ... So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his
garments, and was set down again, be said unto them" etc. (John
xiii, 2, 4, 5, 12).

     John then, without a word of the Lord's Supper, records
verbatim a long speech by Jesus (covering the remainder of chapter
xiii and all of chapters xiv-xvii). Then, "when Jesus had spoken
these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook
Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his
disciples" (John xviii, 1). Whether, then, the "mystery of the
blessed Eucharist" or simple foot washing was there ordained is not
yet unriddled.

                     THE BETRAYAL AND ARREST

     Next comes the affecting incident of the betrayal and capture
of Jesus, by night, in the Garden of Gethsemane. Of the posse
comitatus which effected the capture, its source, its personnel,
its material. Matthew thus writes:

          "And while he [Jesus] yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the
     twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and
     staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people."
     (Matt. xxvi, 47)

     Mark records it thus:

          "And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one
     of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and
     staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the
     elders." (Mark xiv, 43)

     Luke thus:

          "And while he yet spake, behold a multitude and he that
     was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them. ...
     Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the
     temple, and the elders, which were come to him," etc. (Luke
     xxii, 47, 52)

     John says:

          "Judas then, having received a band of men [Revised
     Version, "soldiers"] and officers from the chief priests and
     Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and
     weapons." (John xviii, 3)

     The discrepancies in the foregoing four accounts of the posse
are, in a narration of inspired truth, significant. Matthew says
the posse was sent by "the chief priests and elders"; Mark, by the
"chief priests, and the scribes and the elders"; Luke, that the
chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders" went in
person with the posse; John says that it was sent by the "chief
priests and Pharisees." Matthew and Mark say that Judas took along
"a great multitude," Luke, simply "a multitude," all civilians. 

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John, much more precisely, says "a band of men and officers," all
soldiers (R.V.). Since this whole proceeding was by night, it may
naturally be somewhat in the dark, notwithstanding the "lanterns
and torches" of John's soldiers.

     Secondly, as to what happened when Judas and his posse arrived
at the garden. Matthew says:

          "Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying,
     Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And
     forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed
     him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come?
     Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him." (Matt.
     xxvi, 48-50)

     Mark says:

          "And he that had betrayed him had given them a token,
     saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him,
     and lead him away safely. And as soon as he was come, be goeth
     straightway to him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him.
     And they laid their hands on him, and took him." (Mark xiv,

     Luke says:

          "Judas ... went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to
     kiss him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the
     Son of man with a kiss?" (Luke xxii, 47,48)

     John relates that as the hand of soldiers approached at some

          "Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come
     upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They
     answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am
     he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As
     soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went
     backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again,
     Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus
     answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek
     me, let these go their way. ... Then the band and the captain
     and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him." (John
     xviii, 4-8, 12)

     The conflicts of testimony are glaring here. Matthew and Mark
are substantially agreed, declaring that Judas had prearranged to
point out Jesus to his civilian posse by kissing him; and they both
say that Judas went straightway to Jesus, hailed him "Master," and
kissed him. But Luke does not testify that Judas kissed Jesus; he
says only that he "drew near unto Jesus to kiss him"; and that
Jesus, telepathically knowing his purpose, checked him, saying:
"Judas, betrayest thou me with a kiss?" John contradicts the
contradictory reports of all three of the others in his version.
Judas, instead of going "before them," as Luke says, simply "stood
with them"; and as soon as Jesus had said "I am he," the whole
company of soldiers, with Judas, terrified, "went backward, and 

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fell to the ground." John says the soldiers then "took Jesus and
bound him" (xviii, 12); according to Matthew (xxvii, 2) and Mark
(xv, 1) Jesus was not bound until he was sent to Pilate. No
contradictions in human language could be plainer than these.

     The little incident of Peter's cutting off the ear of one of
the posse is related by Matthew thus:

          "And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched
     out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the
     high priest's, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto
     him, Put up again thy sword." (Matt. xxvi, 51, 52)

     Mark tells it thus:

          "And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a
     servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. And Jesus
     answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a
     thief, with swords and with staves to take me?" (Mark xiv, 47,

     Luke tells it thus:

          "When they which were about him saw what would follow
     [the kissing], they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with
     the sword? And one of them smote the servant of the high
     priest, and cut off his right ear, And Jesus answered and
     said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his car, and healed
     him." (Luke xxii, 49-51)

     John relates it thus:

          "Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the
     high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The
     servant's name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up
     thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given
     me, shall I not drink it?" (John xviii, 10, 11)

     Little as this incident is, these four inspired historians
cannot tell just how it happened. Matthew relates that "one of them
which were with Jesus" struck, and Jesus simply said: "Put up again
thy sword." Mark speaks of the sword-play as by "a certain one of
them that stood by"; and Jesus said nothing about putting up the
sword, but said to the posse: "Are ye come out as against a thief?"
Luke tells us that "they which were about" Jesus, seeing what was
going to follow the undelivered kiss, asked permission as for a
general affray, saying: "Lord, may we smite with the sword?" and
one of them without waiting for a reply, cut off the servant's ear.
Jesus, when it was too late, answered in the negative; then Luke,
the physician, puts in a word for his profession, and tells us that
Jesus performed a miracle by healing the ear. No one else relates
this, the most remarkable incident of the whole evening. John goes
into his usual detail and gives us the name of Peter as the
aggressor, says nothing about the asking permission for a general
assault, and gives the name of the wounded servant. And he reports
that Jesus told Peter to put up his sword, for he himself must take

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his medicine out of the cup prepared for him. Each reader may take
his choice as to how it happened or did not happen. It is related
that "then all the disciples forsook him, and fled" (Matt. xxvi,

                     PETER'S DENIAL OF JESUS

     We shall now take up the trial of Jesus as recorded by his
four inspired reporters. I omit, of course, all reference to Jewish
or Roman law and legal practice, as the Bible account must stand or
fall on its own internal consistency. The italics, used to call
attention to the contradictions, are mine.

     First, we shall consider the incident of Peter's denial, the
beginning of which precedes the trial. This takes us back a moment
for our authority. Jesus is reported to have predicted this denial
of Peter, in rebuking his vain boast of unfailing fidelity.

     Matthew states the events thus:

          "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out [from the
     Last Supper] into the mount of Olives. ... Jesus said unto him
     [Peter], Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the
     cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice." (Matt. xxvi, 30, 34)

     Mark relates the events thus:

          "And in the evening he [Jesus] cometh with the twelve.
     ... And Jesus saith unto him [Peter], Verily I say unto thee,
     That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice,
     thou shalt deny me thrice. ... And they came to a place which
     was named Gethsemane." (Mark xiv, 17, 30, 32)

     Luke writes thus:

          "And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve
     apostles with him. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock
     shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny
     that thou knowest me. ... And he came out, and went, as he was
     wont, to the mount of Olives." (Luke xxii, 14, 34,, 39)

     John relates the events thus:

          "And supper being ended, ... Jesus answered him [Peter).
     ... Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow,
     till thou hast denied me thrice." (John xiii, 2, 38)

     Here we have more conflicting truths. Matthew says that the
accusation of Peter was made by Jesus after the Last Supper, in the
Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Mark, Luke, and John
deny this, and assert that it occurred during the Last Supper, and
that they then, afterwards, went to the mount. Matthew, Luke, and
John report Jesus as saying that "before the cock crows" once,
Peter would deny him thrice; Mark makes him say "before the cock
crows twice," Peter would make the three denials. The reader may
accept either of these cock-tales which he most relishes.

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     Now, how did these prophesied denials of Peter's come about,
and what were their attendant circumstances?

     Matthew relates the story thus:

          "And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to
     Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders
     were assembled. But Peter followed him afar off unto the high
     priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to
     see the end. [The trial was proceeding -- verses 59-68.] Now
     Peter sat without in the palace, [i.e., in the courtyard]: and
     a damsel came unto him, saying," etc. "But he denied before
     them all, saying," etc. "And when he was gone out into the
     porch, another maid saw him, and said," etc. "And again he
     denied with an oath. ... And after a while came unto him they
     that stood by, and said to Peter." etc. "Then began he to
     curse and to swear, saying I know not the man. And immediately
     the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which
     had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me
     thrice." (Matt. xxvi, 57, 58, 69-75)

     Mark reports the matter with important variations:

          "And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him
     were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the
     scribes. And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace
     of the high priest: and he sat with the servants and warmed
     himself at the fire. [The trial then progressed -- verses 55-
     65.] And as Peter was beneath in the palace [i.e., in the
     courtyard], there cometh one of the maids of the high priest,
     and said," etc. "But he denied. ... And he went out into the
     porch; and the cock crew. And a maid saw him again, and began
     to say," etc. And he denied it again. And a little while after
     they that stood by said again to Peter," etc. But he began to
     curse and to swear. ... And the second time the cock crew. And
     Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before
     the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice." (Mark xiv,
     53, 54, 66-72)

     Luke relates the incident, with marked differences, as
occurring on the next day before the trial:

          "Then took they him [Jesus], and led him, and brought him
     into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off. And
     when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and
     were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a
     certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, ... and said,"
     etc. "And he denied him, saying," etc. "And after a little
     while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And
     Peter said, Man, I am not. And about the space of one hour
     after another confidently affirmed," etc. "And Peter said,
     Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he
     yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon
     Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had
     said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me
     thrice." (Luke xxii, 54-61)

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     John gives a totally different report:

          The soldiers "led him away to Annas first. ... And Simon
     Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that
     disciple ... went in with Jesus into the palace of the high
     priest. But Peter stood at the door without. [Later the maid
     that kept the door let Peter in.] Then saith the damsel that
     kept the door unto Peter," etc., and he denied. The servants
     and officers and Peter were standing there warming themselves.
     The trial, apparently before Annas, was proceeding, (xviii,
     19-24). "And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said
     therefore unto him," etc. "He denied it. ... One of the
     servants ... saith," etc. Peter then denied again: and
     immediately the cock crew." (John xviii, 13, 15-18, 25-27)

     The conflicts and contradictions in the relation of this
trifling incident are astonishing. It is difficult to untangle the
twisted narrative into its several warped strands. Matthew, Mark,
and Luke lay this incident of denials and cock-crowing at the house
of the high priest, Caiaphas; John lays it partly at the house of
Caiaphas and partly at the house of Annas. Matthew and Mark say
that it took place during the night trial of Jesus at the house of
Caiaphas; Luke says that it occurred during the night, but during
no trial, as Jesus was simply held a prisoner in the courtyard
overnight, and his trial took place next day; John says -- well,
Aristotle himself could hardly tell what John says; it is so mixed.
I pass this puzzle till we come to the account of the trial.

     To whom the denials were made, and where, is a matter of much
conflict. As to the first denial, Matthew says that Peter was
sitting without in the court, and a maid came unto him. Mark says
that as Peter was "beneath in" the court, "one of the maids" came
to him. Luke, says a certain maid saw him as he sat by the fire.
John says it was the maid who kept the door of the court and who
let Peter in.

     As to the second denial, Matthew says that when Peter was gone
out into the porch, another maid saw him. Mark says, when Peter was
out in the porch, the same maid as at first saw him. Luke says
Peter was still by the fire and that it was a man, Peter replying:
"Man, I am not." John says it was "they" (officers and servants).

     Of the third denial, Matthew says that after a little while
"they that stood by" came. Mark says the same. Luke says that after
the space of about one hour, "another man." John says "one of the

     Matthew, Luke, and John report the cock as crawing only once,
and after the third denial; Mark says that the cock crowed twice,
after the second and after the third denials. Matthew, Luke, and
John record Peter as thereupon remembering that Jesus had said to
him: "Before the cock crows [once], thou shalt deny me thrice";
Mark makes Peter remember that Jesus had said: "Before the cock
crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice." Luke says that Jesus was
present at the denial, and "turned, and looked upon Peter"; the
others all represent Jesus as not present.

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                       THE TRIAL OF JESUS

     This brings us to the trial of Jesus Christ. Matthew thus
relates the trial scene:

          "And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to
     Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders
     were assembled. ... Now the chief priests, and elders, and all
     the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to
     death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came,
     yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, And
     said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of
     God, and to build it in three days. And the high priest arose,
     and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which
     these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the
     high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the
     living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ the
     Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless
     I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting
     on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of
     heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath
     spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses?
     behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They
     answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit
     in his face, and buffeted him; ... Saying, Prophesy unto us,
     thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee? ... When the morning
     was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took
     counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had
     bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius
     Pilate, the governor." (Matt. xxvi, 57,,59-67; xxvii, 1, 2)

     Mark's account of the trial scene (Mark xiv, xv, 1) is
substantially identical with Matthew's; therefore I do not repeat

     Luke records the scene entirely differently. To get the
connection I shall have to repeat a few verses offered in
connection with the story of the "denial."

          "But a certain maid beheld him [Peter] as he sat by the
     fire, and said," etc. "And he denied," etc. "And ... the cock
     crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. ... And the
     men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. And when they
     had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked
     him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? And many
     other things blasphemously spake they against him. And as soon
     as it was day the elders of the people and the chief priests
     and the scribes came together, and led him into their council,
     saying, Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them,
     If I tell you ye will not believe. And if I also ask you, ye
     will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of
     man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they
     all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye
     say that I am. And they said, What need we any further
     witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth. And the
     whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate." (Luke
     xxii, 56-71; xxiii, 1)

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     John gives a still different account of the scene:

          "Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews
     took Jesus, and bound him, And led him away to Annas first;
     for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high
     priest that same year. The high priest then asked Jesus of his
     disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake
     openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in
     the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have
     I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me,
     what I said unto them: behold, they know what I said. And when
     he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck
     Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the
     high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil,
     bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?
     Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest."
     (John xviii, 12, 13, 19-24)

     The first two evangelists, Matthew and Mark, practically agree
in their accounts of the trial: it was before Caiaphas; it was
during the night when Jesus was captured; false witnesses
testified; Jesus made statements which were considered blasphemous,
and was judged worthy of death; and on the next morning he was
carried before the Roman governor, Pilate. But Luke completely
discredits the reports of Matthew and Mark. For Luke makes it plain
that there was no trial during the night; Jesus passed the night in
the courtyard with his guard and Peter; and the next morning, "as
soon as it was day," the council assembled, "and they led him into
their council." The proceedings are related with some minor
differences, of which only one need be noticed. The high priest
asked Jesus: "Art thou the Christ? ... And Jesus said, "I am" (Mark
xiv, 61, 62); but Luke says that Jesus replied: "If I tell you, ye
will not believe" (Luke xxii, 67). John says that Jesus was first
taken to Annas, at whose house some proceedings and one of Peter's
denials seem to have taken place; then "Annas sent [Jesus] bound
unto Caiaphas the high priest." Whether by night or day does not

     After the proceedings before Caiaphas, Jesus was taken to
Pilate for final sentence. There are many variants in the four
records of the proceedings before Pilate, but I shall pass all
except the most glaring. Luke represents the proceedings before
Pilate as held in the presence of the accusers of Jesus: "And led
him unto Pilate. And they began to accuse him. ... And the chief
priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. ... And
Pilate ... said unto them ... behold, I, having examined him before
you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof
you accuse him" (Luke xxiii, 1, 2, 10, 13, 14; cf. Matt. xxvii,
12-14; Mark xv, 1-4). But John declares that the hearing before
Pilate was ex parte, without witnesses or accusers present: "Then
led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was
early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest
they should be defiled. ... Pilate then went out unto them, and
said, What accusation bring ye against this man? ... Then Pilate
entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus" (John
xviii, 28, 29, 33). Pilate said to the Jews: "Take ye him, and
judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, 

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It is not lawful for us to put any man to death" (John xviii, 31).
A little later, "the Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our
law he ought to die" (John xix, 7). But in those days Jews were
noted liars.

     The result of the so-called trial was, by complete harmony of
the gospels, that Pilate declared Jesus innocent -- and sentenced
him to death! "Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify
him: for I find no fault in him" (John xix, 6)! Somewhat odd, this,
for the highest court of the land to adjudge a man not guilty and
then pronounce the sentence of death! Such is inspired truth. Then
the soldiers "stripped [Jesus], and put on him a scarlet robe"
(Matt. xxvii, 28); but John calls it "a purple robe" (John xix, 2).

     If this action of Pilate is denounced as infamous, Jesus says
that his Father Yahveh was the greater criminal. He said to Pilate:
"Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were
given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee
[Yahveh] hath the greater sin" (John xix, 11)! Good for Jesus!

                         THE CRUCIFIXION

     The immediate scene of the Crucifixion offers several points
of conflict. Let it be remembered that we now have to do with the
most stupendous series of events in all time -- if any of them ever
happened at all. The jewel of consistency should crown the inspired
record of these wonders. Amid all the miracles appealed to to
accredit the story of the death and resurrection of a God, the seal
of God's truth should blaze upon this supreme miracle for the faith
of mankind. Let us look for the miracle of truth in these four

                        BEARING THE CROSS

     Matthew (xxvii, 32), Mark (xv, 21), and Luke (xxiii, 26) say
that on the way to Golgotha with Jesus, one Simon a Cyrenian was
"compelled to go with them, that he might bear his cross"; John,
who says he was there, declares (xix, 17) that Jesus himself,
bearing the cross for himself, went forth to Golgotha.

                          WHEN WAS IT?

     The time of the Crucifixion is much confused, both as to the
day and the hour of the day. We have seen three of the gospel
historians declare that the Last Supper was itself the passover
meal; John says it was before the passover; and John, the most
intimate friend of Jesus, who was with him at the foot of the
cross, says that be was crucified before the passover, and after
noon: "And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the
sixth hour" (xix, 14) when Jesus was delivered up to be crucified
(xix, 16); he was taken to Golgotha (xix, 17); and Pilate came and
wrote the inscription (xix, 19); so that the Crucifixion took place
some time after noon, and before the passover, "because it was the
preparation" (xix, 31). Thus Jesus did not eat the passover.
According to the other three accounts, the Crucifixion took place
the day after the passover; a difference of two days.

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     Matthew says that the Crucifixion lasted from noon to three
o'clock: "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the
land unto the ninth hour" (Matt. xxvii, 45). But Mark says: "It was
the third hour [9 a.m.], and they crucified him" (Mark xv, 25);
though he joins Matthew in making the dying cry come at the ninth
hour, or 3 p.m. (xv, 34), as does Luke (xxiii, 44); so that Jesus,
according to two recorders, hung for three hours on the cross; for
six hours, according to Mark.

                         THE INSCRIPTION

     Jesus was crucified with an inscription above his head. With
respect to this Matthew says:

          "And [the soldiers who crucified Jesus) set up over his
     head his accusation written, This is Jesus the King of the
     Jews." (Matt. xxvii, 37)

     Mark records:

          "And the superscription of his accusation was written
     over, The King of the Jews." (Mark xv, 26)

     Luke says:

          "And a superscription also was written over him in
     letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, This is the King of
     the Jews." (Luke xxiii, 38)

     John says:

          "And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And
     the writing was, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."
     (John xix, 19)

     And John, who says he was there throughout, adds a totally new

          "Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write
     not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the
     Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written."
     (John xix, 21)

     The inscription reads four different ways, with really vital
differences of text. Luke, who did not see it, and John (xix, 20)
say that it was written in three languages, on the order of the
Rosetta Stone. Mark and Luke say that the name of Jesus was not in
the inscription, which simply read: "This is the King of the Jews";
Mark makes it even more laconic by omitting the first two words.
Matthew declares that it named Jesus; John asserts that it gave him
both name and title, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."
Matthew says that the soldiers who crucified Jesus set up the
inscription; Mark and Luke say simply that it "was written,"
without indicating its writer; John flatly contradicts Matthew's
statement that the soldiers did it, declaring that Pilate wrote it 

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and put it on the cross. The colloquy about the text between Pilate
and the chief priests, recorded by John (xix, 21), is evidently
apocryphal, as Pilate certainly was not present, and it may be 
doubted that the chief priests were there either.

                          THE WITNESSES

     It would seem to be of great importance to know who were
witnesses to that awful scene of a dying God; but the accounts are
too variant and contradictory to satisfy a just interest. All the
recorders speak of passers-by, soldiers, chief priests, scribes and
elders of the Jews, and John makes Pilate present. That no Jews
were or could be present is asserted by scholars versed in Jewish
customs and tradition. This holy gentry would not so much as enter
into the judgment hall of Pilate to press their accusations against
Jesus "lest they should be defiled" (John xvii, 28); much less
would they defile their pure selves by witnessing the murder they
had procured, even if permitted to do So.

     Probably only the Roman soldiery was present, with chance
passers-by and some of the pagan populace. The three synoptists
speak of "the centurion" and his remarkable testimony. A centurion
was an important officer, commander of one hundred men, a captain
of a company of soldiers. There were but four soldiers (John xlx,
23) present, and it is hardly likely that a company commander was
sent in charge of a corporal's squad of four men to execute two
thieves and one Christ.

     The friends and followers of Jesus who witnessed the fatal
scene deserve our attention more; but we can never know who they
were. John, who claims to have been on the spot, says that only
"there stood by the cross of Jesus" three Marys, "his mother, and
his mother's sister [both oddly named Mary], and Mary Magdalene"
(John xix, 25); and that Jesus, pointing to John, said: "Woman,
behold thy son" (xix, 26, 27). But John was not present, according
to the silence of all the other gospel truth-bearers. Matthew, who
was not there, bears record of "many women ... which followed Jesus
from Galilee: ... Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the
mother of James and Joses [he does not call her the mother, too, of
Jesus] -- and the mother of Zebedee's children" (Matt. xxvii, 55,
56). Mark gives the list differently: "Among whom was Mary
Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and
Salome, and many other women" (Mark xv, 40, 41). Both Matthew and
Mark declare that this whole troupe of women "were there beholding
afar off," "looking on from afar" -- therefore not "standing by the
cross" at all, as John says they were. And Luke too testifies that
not only "the women that followed him from Galilee" but also "all
his acquaintance" with them "stood afar off, beholding these
things" (Luke xxiii, 49). How the ladies could have seen these
things from afar is not clear, for we are assured by the Holy
Ghost, through three historians of the scene, that during the whole
time that Jesus hung on the cross "from the sixth hour there was
darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour" (Matt. xxvii, 45;
Mark xv, 33; Luke xxiii, 44); though John, who was present
throughout, didn't see the darkness and eclipse, nor any of the
other wonders to be noted.

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     John alone of the delectable Twelve was present at the final
tragedy, according to him; all the disciples (himself included) at
Gethsemane "forsook him and fled" (Matt. xxvi, 56; Mark xiv, 50);
all except Judas, who maybe, went and hanged himself. One traitor
and eleven craven cowards were the holy apostles of the Son of
Yahveh. A God might have foreknown their mean characters and have
chosen honest and loyal men for his suite.


     What occurred at and during this transcendent scene of the
Passion of a dying God, which should be recorded by inerrant
inspiration, is peddled with the same sort of pettifogging tell-
tale which characterizes all inspired narrative.

     After arriving at the place of crucifixion, say Matthew and
Mark, and before Jesus was put upon the cross, he was offered
something to drink, but what is not certain. Matthew says: "They
gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall" (xxvii, 34); Mark
says: "They gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh" (xv, 23);
and both state that he would not accept it. But it was after the
Crucifixion, says Luke, that the soldiers "mocked him. ... offering
him vinegar" (xxiii, 36), which was apparently refused. John, who
claims to have been there, details the whole scene to the end, and
then records: "After this, Jesus ... saith, I thirst. ... And they
filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to
his mouth" (xix, 28, 29), and Jesus "received the vinegar" (xix,
30), bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

     Two "thieves," say Matthew (xxvii, 38) and Mark (xv, 27), were
crucified with Jesus; Luke says they were simply "malefactors"
(xxiii, 32); John does not know what their offence was, and to him
they were merely "two other" (xix, 18). Both of Matthew's "thieves"
joined with the chief priests, scribes, and elders in "mocking"
Jesus, and "cast the same in his teeth" (xxvii, 44), and neither of
them repented, or was invited to paradise; and Mark agrees that
both "they that were crucified with him reviled him" (xv, 32),
however unseemly it may be for those in the agony of death to
engage in reproaching a fellow sufferer. But that there is honor
even among dying thieves is admitted by Luke, who records that but
"one of the malefactors ... railed on him," while "the other
answering rebuked" the railer (xxiii, 39, 40), and "this other" did
not repent of "reviling Jesus," for he had not reviled him; but he
did say: "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom"
(xxiii, 42) -- this dying thief being thus made to show a
familiarity with the esoteric teachings of Jesus which even his own
disciples did not at the time comprehend. But John, who was at the
very foot of the cross, recorded no reviling or mocking, and the
thieves, according to him, died like gentlemen, without a word.

     As tangled a bit is next related regarding the casting of lots
over the garments of the Crucified. The synoptists relate that all
the clothing was raffled: "They parted his garments, casting lots"
(Matt. xxvii, 35; Mark xv, 24; Luke xxiii, 34). But John, who was
present, says that the lots were cast only for the seamless coat,
the other things being divided by choice: "Then the soldiers ...
took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; 

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and also his coat: now the coat was without seam. ... They said
therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lot's for
it, whose it shall be" (Xix, 23, 24); and John puts into the mouth
of the Roman soldiers ancient Davidic complaints as pretended
Hebrew prophecy being fulfilled by themselves -- "... whose it
shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They
parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture did they cast
lots. These things therefore the soldiers did" (xix, 24).

     Matthew records that "about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a
loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" (xxvii, 46), these
Hebrew words being rendered as meaning: "My God, my God, why hast
thou forsaken me?" Mark quotes the same expiring cry, but makes the
first two words the Aramaic "Eloi, eloi" (xv, 34); though neither
Luke nor John records them in either form. But sabachthani means,
not "forsaken me," but sacrificed me. The words are quoted from one
of the Psalms (xxii, 1), and it seems strange that one dying in the
agony of the cross should for his dying words quote ancient poetry.
However, the quotation leads into other oddities of inspiration.
Matthew says that "some of them that stood there," hearing the
words, said, "This man calleth for Elias" (xxvii, 47); one of them
ran and got a vinegar-soaked sponge "and gave him to drink. The
rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him"
(xxvii, 48, 49). But, according to Mark; it was the same man who
gave the vinegar who made the remark: "And one ran and filled a
sponge ... and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see
whether Elias will come to take him down" (xv, 36). This despairing
cry, "My God, why hast thou forsaken [sacrificed] me?" at the hour
of death, when the oft-proclaimed Kingdom of David, or the
Messianic program for the Kingdom of God, seemed utterly collapsed,
proves of itself that the dying Christ was conscious that he was
not God, but a poor, disillusioned dying man, forsaken, sacrificed,
by Yahveh, God of Israel.

     It is odd that anyone, Jew or gentile, should have mistaken
the Hebrew word eli ("my God") for a call for Elijah, of which
Elias is the Greek form. As pronounced by Jesus, the word sounded
'lay-lee"; the name of Elijah in Hebrew is pronounced "eh-lee-yah-
hoo" (meaning "Yahveh is God"). The two words could not have been
mistaken by the Jews, and to the pagan gentiles they would have
been meaningless; they knew nothing about Elijah. Jews hearing it
would hardly have mistaken the words of the Psalm xxii for a cry to
the precursor of the Messianic kingdom -- a mistake upon which
their raillery is made to depend.

     One of the extraordinary episodes, related by John only, is
that after Jesus "was dead already" (xix, 33), "one of the soldiers
with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood
and water" (xix, 34). It is strange that none of the other wonder-
mongers relates this physiological curiosity. The deed was done
after the soldiers, by leave of Pilate (whom John records as taking
an incredible holiday to attend the Crucifixion), had found that
Jesus was already dead (xix, (31-34), and of course Pilate, being
there, knew that Jesus was dead after but three (or six) hours on
the cross. But Mark denies that Pilate was at the crucifixion or
knew that Jesus was dead; for "now when the even was come," Joseph
of Arimathaea "went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of 

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Jesus. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling
unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while
dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to
Joseph" (Mark xv, 42-45). So Pilate was at home, in the palace in
Jerusalem, and knew nothing about Jesus' being so soon dead
(crucifixion being a lingering death lasting usually several days).
This suffices for this batch of old wives' tales", peddled as
gospel truth.

                         THE LAST WORDS

     Matthew and Mark relate not a word said by Jesus on the cross
except the expiring cry at the ninth hour, "Eli, Eli, lama
sabachthani" (a quotation from David; Ps. xxii, 1), meaning "My
God, my God, why hast thou sacrificed me?" Luke (xxiii, 43) tells
of a single remark to one of the thieves, "To-day shalt thou be
with me in paradise" (but Jesus, after his death, went, not to
paradise, but to hell; Acts ii, 31; 1 Pet. iii, 19; cf. the
Apostles' Creed); and then, at the ninth hour, the expiring cry,
"Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (xxiii, 46). John
relates only one remark by Jesus to his mother, concerning John,
"Woman, behold thy son!" and one to the disciple, "Behold thy
mother!" and "I thirst" (xix, 26-28). At the end Jesus merely said:
"It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost"
(xix, 30), without either of the expiring cries. Surely this is
unsatisfactory for such a scene.

                      THE WONDERS AT DEATH

     Wonderful miracles attended the death of a God on a cross, as
related by one or another of the reporters.

     Matthew (xxvii, 45), Mark (xv, 33), and Luke (xxiii, 44) say
that "from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto
the ninth hour," when, with or without the expiring cry, Jesus,
"gave up the ghost." But John, who was there, and saw, and "saith
true, that ye might believe," did not see the darkness, nor other
wonderful phenomena. Matthew gives a whole catalogue of wonders,
which is found in no other history of that period:

          "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain
     from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the
     rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the
     saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his
     resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto
     many." (Matt. xxvii, 51-53)

     How there could have been "saints" already dead and buried
ages before the Holy Church set up its saint-mill is not clear; and
what they did between the "ninth hour," when they "arose," and
three (or one and a half) days later, when they "came out of their
graves after his resurrection," is not revealed. Maybe, as
Ingersoll suggests, "they were polite enough to sit in their open
graves and wait for Christ to rise first." But Mark does not credit
these ghosts, nor the earthquake, any more than I do, for he simply

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says (xv, 38) the "veil of the temple was rent in twain," which is
also all that Luke says (xxiii, 45); and John, who alone was there
to see, discredits every word of the three others, for he says 
nothing of all these wonders.

     These inspired writers are also in hopeless conflict as to
what the Roman centurion said when Jesus "gave up the ghost."
Matthew and Mark say that, when those present "saw the earthquake,"
the centurion said: "Truly this was the Son of God" -- thus
familiar with the Jewish Messianic doctrine and confessing the
Christian claim that Jesus was the Messiah! But Luke is not so
ambitious for a confession of Christian faith from the pagan Roman,
and declares that he simply said: "Certainly this was a righteous
man." John, at the foot of the cross, did not hear any remark from
the centurion, or did not record it.

                        THE BURIAL SCENE

     We may bow with such reverence as the palpable sham of the
whole affair permits while we look for a moment upon the burial of
a crucified and dead God.

     Matthew records that when even was come, a rich disciple of
Jesus, one Joseph of Arimathea, "went to Pilate, and begged the
body of Jesus" (xxvii, 58). Mark tells how Joseph went about the
request; he "went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of
Jesus (xv, 43); but not so boldly, says John -- "but secretly for
fear of the Jews, besought Pilate" (xix, 38). When Joseph had got
the body of Jesus by Pilate's order, says Matthew, "he wrapped it
in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he
had hewn out in the rock" (xxvii, 59, 60). Mark relates that Joseph
first went and "bought fine linen" (xv, 46), which, however, can
hardly be true; for Joseph was a Jew and a member of the
Cyanhydrin, and "the even was come, because it was the preparation,
that is, the day before the sabbath" (xv, 42); therefore it was the
sabbath, which began at "even"; and dry goods could neither be
bought nor sold, nor would "an honorable counsellor" (xv, 43), as
Joseph was, have violated the holy law by such an act, the penalty
for which was stoning to death. Howbeit, having somehow the fine
linen, Joseph took Jesus down from the cross, wrapped the body in
the linen, "and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a
rock" (xv, 46). But this evidently was not Joseph's "own new tomb"
of Matthew; Mark who wrote first, does not mention this important
circumstance; and John makes it positive that it was just a vacant
tomb that happened to be handy for temporary use. John makes
Nicodemus, too, a party to the burial: "And there came also
Nicodemus. ... Then took they the body of Jesus. ... Now in the
place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden
a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they
Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the
sepulchre was nigh at hand" (xix, 39-42). So it was just an empty
burial place near by, and Jesus was temporarily laid in it
"therefore because" of the holiday, "for the sepulchre was nigh at
hand." All this excludes totally the notion that this was Joseph's
"own new tomb."


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     Joseph then, all alone, says Matthew, "rolled a great stone to
the door of the sepulchre, and departed" (xxvii, 60), leaving two
Marys "sitting over against the sepulchre" (xxvii, 61; Mark xv, 46,
47). But according to Luke, Joseph, though alone, rolled no stone
against the door, but simply laid the body in (xxiii, 53) and went
away, and he left no women there watching. For, after Joseph was
gone away, "the women ... followed after, and beheld the sepulchre,
and how his body was laid" (xxiii, 55), showing there was no stone
closing the sepulchre, which is further proved by the statement
that the women "returned and prepared spices and ointments" (xxiii,
56) to anoint or embalm the body. There was no embalmment,
according to Matthew and Mark, as we have seen; and Luke's women
saw none, for they viewed the body and went away to prepare to
embalm it. But John avers that the body of Jesus was embalmed
before burial, by Joseph and Nicodemus, and in very exuberant
superfluity. For Nicodemus brought along "a mixture of myrrh and
aloes, about an hundred pound weight" (xix, 39) -- enough to embalm
an elephant. "Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in
linen clothes with the spices as the manner of the Jews is to bury"
(xix, 40). Then they buried it, but are not recorded to have rolled
any stone before the sepulchre, though all four evangelists speak
of the stone's being rolled away on the morning of the

     The women who, Luke says, came up after Joseph had left, "saw
how his body was laid" in the open sepulchre; they then returned
home "and prepared spices and ointments" to embalm the body, and
then they "rested the sabbath day" (Luke xxiii, 56); thus they had
obtained and prepared the materials before the sabbath. But Mark
has it otherwise, that "when the sabbath was past," the women "had
bought" (the Revised Version honestly reads "bought") the materials
"that they might come and anoint him" (Mark xvi, 1); thus not
buying the materials until after the sabbath.

     Matthew, the most incorrigible wonder-monger of them all, is
the only one to record an episode which must be noticed, as it is
one of his most palpable fabrications. According to Matthew, Jesus
was crucified and buried on the "day of preparation" for the
sabbath, that is, on Friday afternoon. Then he begins to entangle

     "Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation
[that is, on the sabbath day], the chief priests and Pharisees came
together unto Pilate [the most punctilious of the Jews going on
their holy day to their pagan enemy, Pilate, to attend to business
in utter defiance of their holy law], Saying, Sir, we remember that
that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will
rise again" (Matt. xxvii, 62, 63) -- showing the priests to be more
familiar with the resurrection doctrine of Jesus than his own
disciples, "For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must
rise again from the dead" (John, xx, 9). And the sanhedrim visitors
proceeded: "Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until
the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him
away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the
last error shall be worse than the first" (Matt. xxvii, 64) -- an
admission that they had erred in their accusations and in procuring
the death of "this deceiver." In reply, "Pilate said unto them, Ye 

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have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went,
and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a
watch" (xxvii, 65, 66); these rigorous sticklers for the law
forbidding work on the sabbath here violating it by undertaking a
big job of masonry.

     This story is evidently written in with a purpose, that
expressed by the Jews, of anticipating the claim of false
resurrection, and for the further purpose of lending greater
credibility to the ensuing story of the resurrection.

     Immediately following, Matthew begins the scene for which he
has thus set the stage. "In the end of the sabbath [that is,
Saturday at sundown, or as the verse erroneously continues] as it
began to dawn toward the first day of the week [therefore Sunday
morning], came [the two Marys] to see the sepulchre. And, behold,
there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended
from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and
sat upon it. ... And the angel answered and said unto the women ...
He is not here: for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place
where the Lord lay" (xxviii, 1, 2, 5, 6).

     Here was the grave sealed, and an armed Roman guard standing
sentinel before it; the angel descended from heaven before the eyes
of soldiers and women, and in their presence, breaking the seal,
rolled away the stone; and, lo! "He is not here: for he has risen."

     When and how did the risen Lord rise and with his physical
body get out of the grave? It was sealed and guarded by Roman
soldiers, and when opened before witnesses, it was empty. Matthew
is caught in his own trap; his attempt to create the air of
credibility results in a dilemma of total incredibility. Either the
body of Jesus Christ was never put into that grave -- or it was
"stolen away" before the grave was sealed and the sentinels posted.
Which? Jesus was put into the grave Friday about sunset; the
sepulchre was not sealed and the armed watch set until some time
"the next day that followed" (Matt. xxvii, 62, 66). Was Jesus
simply in a swoon from those three hours on the cross? Or was he
really dead, and put into the tomb by his friend and disciple
Joseph, Friday evening? and did "his disciples come by night [that
Friday night] and steal him away" before the watch was set on the
sabbath, and then "say unto the people, He is risen from the dead,"
just as the chief priests and Pharisees suspected?

     Matthew pursues his phantom. He relates that when the women
and angel left the sepulchre, "Some of the watch came into the
city" and related the affair to the chief priests; the latter
summoned the council (sanhedrim) and talked the problem over; then
"they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His
disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if
this comes to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure
you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught" (Matt.
xxviii, 11-15). What could be more preposterous? Soldiers posted
for three days leaving their posts before their time was up -- a
capital offence; then taking a bribe to admit that they slept on
post -- for which summary death was the unescapable penalty; then
learning that the seal was broken and the great stone rolled away 

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right under their noses (whether asleep or not, the commotion would
have waked them); then, most improbable of all, lyingly confessing
and trusting to these Jewish murderers of the Christ to "persuade"
Pilate, who hated them, to "be easy" on the recreant soldiers of
the guard who failed in the single purpose of their posting.
Inspiration surely is childish at times.

                        THE RESURRECTION

     Jesus was buried Friday evening; the Jewish sabbath, our
Saturday, passed, and the next morning, lo, "He is risen from the
dead"! Jesus was thus in the grave, if at all, two nights and one
day at most, discrediting his own prophecy in which he appealed to
the similitude of poor old Jonah: "For as Jonas was three days and
three nights in the whale's belly [so it was a whale after all, not
simply a "great fish"]; so shall the Son of man be three days and
three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matt. xii, 40). Jonah was
a poor prototype for a God, and the prophecy of three days and
three nights was not fulfilled.

     The resurrection of Jesus took place in the dead of night; no
human being was eyewitness to it. Only an empty borrowed grave --
and some immense contradictions -- vouch for it. Matthew records
the time and persons thus:

          "In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward
     the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other
     Mary to see the sepulchre." (Matt. xxviii, 1)

     Mark states thus:

          "And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary
     the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that
     they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning
     the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the
     rising of the sun." (Mark xvi, 1, 2)

     Luke thus:

          "Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the
     morning, they [i.e., the women which came with him from
     Galilee; xxiii, 55] came unto the sepulchre, bringing the
     spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them."
     (Luke xxiv, 1)

     John's record is this:

          "The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early,
     when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre." (John xx, 1)

     The conflicts here are very apparent, upon seemingly trifling
points; but nothing is trifling concerning inspired truths of the
event surpassing everything else in history, human or divine. The
time varies: Matthew, "as it began to dawn toward the day"; Mark,
"very early in the morning at the rising of the sun"; Luke, "very
early in the morning"; John, "when it was yet dark." Now, it could
not be sunrise and dark at the same time.

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     The writer of the Gospel According to Matthew was evidently
not a Jew. He says that the women went to the sepulchre "in the end
of the sabbath" and "as it began to dawn toward the first day of
the week" (xxviii, 1), and they found that Jesus had already risen.
If this be true, then the resurrection took place, not on "the
first day of the week," as Mark asserts (xvi, 9), but on the last
day of the week, the sabbath. The Jewish day ended, and another
began, at sunset, a method of computation of which no Jew has ever
been ignorant "even unto this day." No sabbath with the Jews ever
ended "as it began to dawn toward" the first day of the week; the
sabbath ended at the previous sunset. The writers both of Matthew
and of Mark evidently supposed that the Jewish day began at dawn or
sunrise; but the "first day of the week" and every other began in
the evening, at sunset of the preceding day. The night preceding
the morning visit to the tomb belonged, not to the seventh day, but
to the first.

     The conflict continues as to the persons who came, at sunrise
or by dark: Matthew, two persons, "Mary Magdalene and the other
Mary"; Mark, three persons, "Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of
James, and Salome"; Luke, a number of persons, "the women ... which
came with him from Galilee, ... and certain others with them";
John, one person, "Mary Magdalene," alone; John says nothing about
spices and anointing; and it may be wondered how they could expect
to anoint a body already buried three days, sealed in a grave with
a great stone before the door, and with an armed Roman guard
specially posted to prevent tampering.

     Now we shall see if we can disentangle what happened when one,
two, three, or a number of persons came to the sepulchre at
sunrise, or by dark:

     Matthew asserts that this is what happened:

          "And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel
     of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back
     the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was
     like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of
     him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the
     angel answered and said unto the women, ... go quickly, and
     tell his disciples." (Matt. xxviii, 2-7)

     Mark asserts that this happened:

          "And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled
     away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre,
     they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a
     long white garment; and they were affrighted." (Mark xvi, 4,

     Luke asserts that this happened:

          "And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
     And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
     And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout,
     behold, two men stood by them in shining garments." (Luke
     xxiv, 2-4)

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     John bears true record that these totally different and quite
impossible things happened:

          "The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene ... unto
     the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the
     sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to
     the other disciple [John], whom Jesus loved, and saith unto
     them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre. ...
     Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came
     to the sepulchre [John arriving first]. And he stooping down,
     and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not
     in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the
     sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie. ... Then went in
     also that other disciple, and he saw, and believed. For as yet
     they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the
     dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
     But Mary [Magdalene] stood without ... weeping: and ...
     stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two
     angels in white, sitting, the one at the head, and the other
     at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain." (John xx,

     The contradictions here are very glaring, and are of the
highest importance. Matthew avers that, after the two Marys arrived
at the sepulchre, a lightning-faced angel descended before their
eyes, accompanied by an earthquake, and rolled away the stone and
sat on it outside the sepulchre. This second "great earthquake,"
which none of the others saw or felt or mention, leaves the armed
Roman guard stretched out like dead men; the angel speaks to the
scared women; neither of Matthew's two women enters the sepulchre;
but the angel announces the resurrection and sends them away to
tell the news. Mark's three women see that the stone is already
rolled away, and they enter into the sepulchre and find one young
man sitting on the right side. Luke's whole trompe of women find
the stone removed, and they all enter into the sepulchre, and find
two men standing by. John, who was there himself after Mary
Magdalene called him, states that Mary Magdalene went alone to the
sepulchre, and found the stone taken away; but no angel of Yahveh,
nor one young man sitting, nor two men standing by are mentioned.
Mary Magdalene calls Peter and John, and they find the sepulchre
empty except for the grave-clothes. When Peter and John had found
nothing and gone home, then the Magdalene looked in and saw two
angels, one at each end of the place where the body had been. But
none of these saw a guard of keepers scared by a great earthquake.
Mark (xvi, 5) and Luke (xxiv, 5) say that it was the women who were
affrighted; Mark says that "they went out quickly, and fled" (xvi,
8); according to Luke, they "bowed down their faces to the earth"
(xxiv, 5).

     One of the most remarkable misstatements is that of John (xx,
9): "For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise
again from the dead." This denies the most insistent teaching of
Jesus throughout his career of preaching, and contradicts numerous
explicit declarations of his coming resurrection made to these same
disciples. "And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve
disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to
Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief 

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priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,
And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and
to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again" (Matt. xx,
17-19; cf. Mark viii, 31; ix, 31; x, 34; Luke xviii, 31-33; xxiv,
46). Moreover, John's statement is a gross anachronism; there could
not have been any scripture about the resurrection; there was only
the oral teaching of Jesus within the few months of his nomadic
association with his disciples. The reference to "scripture"
betrays the fact that the Gospel According to John was written many
years later by some forger who probably had Mark's book of Christ-
tales before him.


     The happenings immediately after the arrival at the sepulchre
of the one, two, or three women, or the troupe of women, and their
finding an angel sitting outside on the stone, or one young man
sittings or two men standing by, or none of these at all, are thus
related by the four inspired recorders:

     Matthew tells this story, abbreviated but exact:

          "The angel ... said unto the women, Fear not ye: ... for
     he is risen, as he said. ... Go quickly, and tell his
     disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he
     goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him. ... And
     they departed quickly, and did run to bring his disciples
     word." (Matt. xxviii, 5-8)

     Mark abbreviated but exact, tells this story: the young men
sitting on the right side said:

          "Be not affrighted. ... He is risen. ... But go your way,
     tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into
     Galilee: there shall ye see him. ... And they went out
     quickly, and fled; ... neither said any thing to any man; for
     they were afraid." (Mark xvi, 6-8)

     Luke abbreviated but exact, tells a different story thus: the
two men standing by said to the several women, who were "Mary
Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other
women that were with them" (xxiv, 10):

     "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is
risen: remember how he spake unto you. ... And they remembered, ...
And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the
eleven, and to all the rest. ... Then arose Peter, and ran unto the
sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by
themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was
come to pass." (Luke xxiv, 5-12)

     John, abbreviated but exact, tells a very different story:
Peter and John, as above related, ran together to the sepulchre
after Mary Magdalene had told them, and found the linen clothes,
and both went home. Then Mary went into the sepulchre, and the two
angels asked her: "Woman, why weepest thou?" (John xx, 13) The
first words of greeting are differently recorded. Matthew's angel 

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announces the resurrection as he sits outside on the stone, and
sends the two women to tell the disciples, adding that Jesus had
gone ahead into Galilee, where he would see them; and the women ran
to bring the disciples word. Mark has his young man, sitting
inside, make the announcement, and direct the three women to go
tell the disciples; but being afraid they told no man. Luke says
his two men, standing by, told the troupe of women that Jesus was
risen, and they went, without being instructed and told all the
disciples; and Peter alone went and looked in, did not enter the
sepulchre, and went away wondering. John says that Mary Magdalene
alone went to the sepulchre, found it empty and saw no one, and
then went and told him and Peter, and both went running, looked in,
entered, and found only the linen clothes and saw no one, and went
home. Then it was that Mary Magdalene a second time looked in, and
saw two angels, who spoke to her, asking what she sought. But they
did not announce the resurrection, for the reason which will next


     This brings us to the appearances of the Lord after his
resurrection to his disciples and other acquaintances.

                      THE FIRST APPEARANCE

     Matthew, after stating that "Mary Magdalene and the other
Mary" left the sepulchre at the behest of the angel to go to tell
the disciples that Jesus had gone to Galilee, relates the first
appearance thus:

          "And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus
     met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the
     feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not
     afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and
     there shall they see me." (Matt. xxviii, 9, 10)

     Mark, after telling how "Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother
of James, and Salome" had "fled from the sepulchre," and told no
one, "for they were afraid," gives this account:

          "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the
     week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene. ... And she went
     and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and
     wept. And they ... believed not." (Mark xvi, 9-11)

     Luke, after relating how "Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary
the mother of James, and other women that were with them" had
returned from the sepulchre and told all these things to the eleven
and to all the rest, and how Peter had then run to the sepulchre
alone and seen only the grave-clothes laid by, relates the first
appearance very differently, thus:

          "And, behold, two of them [disciples] went that same day
     to a village called Emmaus. ... And they talked together of
     all these things which had happened. And it came to pass,
     that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself

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     drew near and went with them. ... Then he said unto them, O
     fools," etc. "And he went in to tarry with them. ... And he
     hid from their sight." (Luke xxiv, 13-15, 25, 29, 31)

     John, after telling of Mary Magdalene's going alone to the
sepulchre, and finding the body gone but seeing no one, and of her
telling Peter and John, who went and found nothing but the grave-
clothes, and saw no one and returned home, and of Mary's seeing two
angels sitting where the body had lain, and their asking her,
"Woman, why weepest thou?" then declares:

          "And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and
     saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. ... Jesus
     saith unto her, Touch me not. ... Mary Magdalene came and told
     the disciples that she had seen the Lord." (John xx, 14, 17,

     Thus we have the four conflicting accounts. Matthew says that
Jesus first appeared to the two women as they went to tell the
disciples, and they at once recognized him; Mark says that he first
appeared to one woman, Mary Magdalene, early the first day; Luke
says that Jesus first appeared to the two disciples as they went to
Emmaus; John says that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene by
the sepulchre, as she turned from speaking with the two angels, and
that she did not recognize him. And she said that Jesus forbade her
to touch him, "for I am not yet ascended"; Matthew says that his
two Marys "came and held him by the feet."

                      THE SECOND APPEARANCE

     The second appearance is as diversely narrated. Matthew, after
saying that Jesus had told the two Marys to tell his disciples to
meet him in Galilee, relates the second appearance was thus:

          "Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into
     a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. ... And Jesus came
     and spake unto them, saying, ... And, lo, I am with you
     always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matt. xxviii,
     16, 18, 20)

     Mark, after telling how Jesus "appeared first to Mary
Magdalene," on the first day, tells of the second appearance thus:

          "After that he appeared in another form unto two of them,
     as they walked, and went into the country." (Mark xvi, 12)

     Luke, after relating how Jesus first appeared to the two on
their way to Emmaus, and how he went with them, and took supper
with them, says:

          "And they rose up the same hour, and returned to
     Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them
     that were with them. ... And as they thus spake, Jesus himself
     stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto
     you. But they were terrified and affrighted and supposed that 

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     they had seen a spirit. ... He shewed them his hands and his
     feet," and asked for meat, and he ate broiled fish and
     honeycomb before them, and spoke with them at length. (Luke
     xxiv, 33, 36, 37, 40, et seq.)

     John, after relating how Jesus had first appeared early on the
resurrection day to Mary Magdalene alone at the sepulchre, says of
the second appearance:

          "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the
     week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were
     assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in their
     midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. ... Then were
     the disciples glad when they saw the Lord." (John xx, 19, 20)

     The contradictions as to the second appearance are obvious.
Matthew says that it was to the Eleven on a mountain in Galilee,
"where Jesus had appointed them." But neither Jesus nor the Eleven
went into Galilee; for Luke says that at Jerusalem on the same
resurrection day Jesus suddenly appeared out of empty space "and
stood in the midst of them," and said: "Peace be unto you," but
that "they were terrified and affrighted." He had supper with them;
then "he led them out as far as Bethany" and said unto the Eleven:
"Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem;" and as he spoke, "he was
parted from them, and carried up into heaven" (Luke xxiv, 33-51).
Mark says that the second appearance was "in another form" (what
form he does not say) "to two of them," as they walked in the
country. Luke says that it was in Jerusalem, unto the Eleven "and
them that were with them," and greatly terrified them all. John
says that it was on the evening of the resurrection day, in a
closed room; and instead of being terrified, the disciples "were
glad when they saw the Lord."

                        THIRD APPEARANCE

     There were other appearances, not recorded by all the gospel
historians, the accounts of which are equally conflicting. Matthew
relates only the two appearances already credited to him. Mark,
after telling of the second appearance, to the two walking in the
country, tells of a third:

          "Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at
     meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief." (Mark xvi, 14)

     Luke is satisfied with his two, which differ entirely from
Matthew's two, as we have seen. John, after his account of the
second appearance, to the disciples in the closed room, on which
occasion he says that Thomas Didymus was not present, and after
stating that Thomas, when he heard about it, would not believe,
then tells of a third appearance, at which Thomas was convinced:

          "And after eight days again his disciples were within,
     and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut,
     and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you." (John
     xx, 26)


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     Thus we see that Matthew and Luke relate only two appearances,
and, if we believe Luke, there were no more; Mark and John relate
three. All the accounts differ about time, place, persons, and
other circumstances; each account renders impossible the others.

                        FOURTH APPEARANCE

     John relates a fourth appearance, which he calls the third, to
the disciples:

          "After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the
     disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he
     himself. ... This is now the third time that Jesus shewed
     himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the
     dead." (John xxi, 1, 14)

     On this occasion the disciples were fishing, and had caught
nothing. Jesus told them to throw their net on the other side of
the boat, and they landed 153 "great fishes"; "and for all there
were so many, yet was not the net broken" (xxi, 11). When they
landed, they saw a fire of coals, with fish already broiling
thereon, with bread, and they all had breakfast alfresco.

                    SUNDAY OTHER APPEARANCES

     This would seem to complete the very contradictory relations
of the appearances of the Crucified after the resurrection. But the
end is not yet; other witnesses say there were at least forty, and
perhaps more, appearances. We call the anonymous author of the Acts
of the Apostles, reputed to be Luke, who has already, and quite
differently, testified in his gospel. In Acts i, 1, 2, this witness
now testifies that Jesus, before "the day in which he was taken
up," gave commandments to the apostles,

          "To whom also he shewed himself alive, being seen of them
     forty days." (Acts i, 3)

     There would be, then, at least forty several appearances to
the apostles, on forty several days after the resurrection.

     But the chronicler of the Acts quotes Peter 'not only as
throwing doubt on the means of Jesus' death, asserting that he was
"hanged on a tree" (Acts x, 39), but further saying:

          "Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;
     Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of
     God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose
     from the dead." (Acts X, 40, 41)

     This would seem to indicate only one appearance, to the Eleven
only; and it discounts the repeated appearances to the one, two, or
many women. It limits the appearance to the little apostolic band,
by declaring that Jesus showed himself "not to all the people." One
would think that the sole proof of so tremendous an issue as the
resurrection of a God from the death of a man would not be left to
a crew of deserting cowards and proved liars, but that the risen
God would at once have shown himself to Pilate, to the sanhedrim, 

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"to all the people," as openly at least as the dead saints who
"came out of their graves after his resurrection, and went into the
holy city, and appeared unto many" (Matt. xxvii, 53); though, it is
true, we have only Matthew's word for this.

     The inspired historian of Acts a little later quotes Paul on
the subject, and in quite different tenor:

          "But God raised him up from the dead: And he was seen
     many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to
     Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people." (Acts xiii,
     30, 31)

     Thus for many days, and to a whole rabble of Gahlean peasants
the Conqueror of Death paraded himself in private; but no single
intelligent person, chief priest of the Jews, Roman ruler of
Jerusalem, or official historian of the province, was advised of
it, or given an opportunity to make a credible record of the
greatest wonder of the world. What negligence! Instead of
fishermen's tales of this transcendent event we should have
accredited official history.

     But with the lapse of time wonders grow, and Paul writing to
the Corinthians, lately pagans, adds prodigiously to the throng of
witnesses for the verity of his risen Lord. After telling of the
death and burial of the Christ, he adds:

          "He rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
     And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After
     that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once. ...
     After that he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And
     last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due
     time." (1 Cor. xv, 4-8)

     This is a most extraordinary rigmarole of falsities and
impossibilities -- if there is a word of truth in the four gospels;
for it contradicts even all the gospel contradictions on the
subject. Paul begins with a blunder: Jesus rose on the third day
"according to the scriptures." There were no scriptures of the New
Testament at that time; the gospels were not written until some
fifty or one hundred and fifty years later, and were not in
existence when the Epistles of Paul and the others were written.
The Old Testament never once predicts or mentions the resurrection.

     Paul next says that the first appearance of Jesus after his
resurrection was to Peter (Cephas). This contradicts flatly every
gospel recorder, every one of whom declares, though diversely, that
the first appearance was to Mary Magdalene, alone or with other
women. Next Paul says that Jesus was "seen ... of the Twelve." But
there were no Twelve at the time; Judas had deserted and was dead,
and his successor was not chosen until some time after the
"ascension," when one Matthias was elected (Acts i, 23-26). Paul
evidently knew nothing about Judas and his betrayal of the Christ.
After that, declares Paul, Jesus was seen by over five hundred
witnesses at once. This general appearance is not only entirely
unknown to the evangelists, but contradicts them all, particularly
Peter's declaration that Jesus appeared only "unto us who did eat 

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and drink with him after he rose from the dead" (Acts x, 41);
therefore to the Eleven only. In the days of Jesus there could have
been no "five hundred brethren"; shortly after the ascension, when
all the "brethren" were gathered to hear Peter, it is recorded that
"the number of the names together were about one hundred and
twenty" (Acts i, 15); and this number is considered exaggerated.

     James, own brother of Jesus, nowhere makes claim to have seen
him after the resurrection; and only Paul vouches for his own
peculiar vision, "as of one born out of due time." Both the last-
cited witnesses contradict the contradictory histories of the four
gospel writers, quoted above, and leave the whole matter of post-
mortem and pre-ascension appearances much more confused and
doubtful than even the gospels leave it. Not only are all these
alleged appearances contradictory and mutually destructive, and
thus evident fabricated; they also destroy the possibility of the
truth of the contradictorily related, fabled ascension.

                          THE ASCENSION

     Matthew, the most prolific wonder-teller, knew nothing of an
"ascension", and there was none if we stop with him, for he does
not mention it. On the contrary, in the last verse of his gospel
Jesus assures his hearers that he was going to stay with them -- "I
am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matt.
xxviii, 20).

     Mark, after relating the third appearance, to the Eleven as
they sat at meat, evidently in a room in a house, declares:

          "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was
     received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And
     they went forth, and preached." (Mark xvi, 19, 20)

     Luke, after relating the second and last appearance, to the
Eleven in Jerusalem, when Jesus ate the broiled fish and honey-
comb, says:

          "And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted
     up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he
     blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into
     heaven." (Luke xxiv, 50, 51)

     John, like Matthew, knows nothing, or says nothing, of an

     We have recourse now to our new and fifth witness, the author
of the Acts of the Apostles. After asserting that Jesus remained on
earth with the apostles and was "seen of them forty days," "being
assembled together with them" on the Mount of Olives, speaking with
them, the writer says:

          "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld,
     he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
     ... Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called
     Olivet." (Acts i, 9, 12 )

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     The evidence for the ascension is quite as conflicting, both
as to time and place, as all the rest which we have examined.
Matthew and John record no ascension at all. The resurrection is
laid by all on the first day of the week. As to the time of the
ascension, Mark is indefinite; he makes the first appearance of
Jesus on the same first day; and says and "after that" he made the
second appearance, and "afterward" the third. This third appearance
was indoors, at a meal-time, with the Eleven, and probably in
Jerusalem, their headquarters; and then and there "the Lord was
received up," right through the roof of the house.

     Luke, in his gospel, lays the time on the resurrection day,
immediately after the second and last appearance, at a meal with
the eleven in Jerusalem, and asserts that, when the meal was ended,
Jesus led them out as far as Bethany, and there "was separated from
them and carried up into heaven," from the open country side. But
in the Acts Luke tells a different story: he explicitly says that
the time was after forty days and at least forty appearances, and
that the place was "the mount called Olivet." As stated, John does
not record any ascension; but he relates the second appearance of
Jesus, to the eleven on the evening of the resurrection day, and
says that "after eight days" Jesus again appeared to them when
Thomas Didymus was also present; so that, according to John, the
ascension, if there was one, must have been at least eight days
after the resurrection; and longer, for John records that "after
these things Jesus shewed himself again to his disciples at the sea
of Tiberias," on the occasion of the miraculous fishing. And the
ascension could not have occurred far forty days after the
resurrection, if Peter is believed; for he says that Jesus was
"seen of them forty days" (Acts i, 3). This destroys every gospel
tale of the ascension.


     In concluding our review, we may pause for a moment and
satisfy a natural curiosity, as well as adduce important evidence,
by inquiring what effect all these "miracles and wonders and signs"
had upon the loyal disciples and close associates of Jesus. They
were with him throughout his career, and Jesus said to them: "Ye
are witnesses of these things." Jesus also gave them the fair and
gentle admonition, "He that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark
xvi, 16). This inquiry affords pertinent evidence for one who,
twenty centuries after -- when "seeing is believing" -- not having
seen these things himself, and having them only on the credit of
the four inspired biographies and the Acts, may be so bold as not
to believe them.

     Matthew guards a discreet silence, although be says (xxviii,
17) that when Jesus met his disciples in Galilee, "some doubted."

     Mark, after saying that Jesus first appeared to Mary
Magdalene, who told the others, says:

          "And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had
     been seen of her, believed not. After that he appeared in
     another form unto two of them, And they went and told it unto
     the residue; neither believed they them." (Mark xvi, 11-13)

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     Luke, after relating that his group of women returned from the
sepulchre and told the apostles of the resurrection, says:

          "And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they
     believed them not." (Luke, xxiv, 11)

     John quotes Jesus as saying: "Ye also have seen me, and
believe not"; and John tells the story of "doubting Thomas," who
said: "Show me, or I will not believe."

                     A PROPHET WITHOUT HONOR

     A halo of pathos surrounds, for credulous devotees of the
Christ, his plaintive words, which have become proverbial: "A
prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his
own house" (Matt. xiii, 57; Mark vi, 4; Luke iv, 24; John iv, 44).

     Even the little episode of the utterance of this just reproach
cannot be related by the truth-inspired gospel biographers without
contradictions which entirely destroy its force and discredit its
authenticity. The three synoptists say that Jesus uttered the
rebuke to the Galileans because of their rejection of him in his
home country; John says that it was directed at the Judeans because
they rejected him, and that the Galileans accepted him. Jesus and
the Twelve began the first preaching tour in Judea (Matt. xi, 1);
later Jesus, with them, "departed thence ... and was come into his
own country," Galilee (Matt. xiii, 53, 54). His neighbors scoffed
at "the carpenter's son," saying: "Whence then hath this man these
things?" (Matt. xiii, 55, 56) and "they were offended in him"
(xiii, 57). Upon this provocation Jesus spoke his condemnation of
the Galileans.

     John reverses the situation. According to him, Jesus "left
Judaea, and departed again into Galilee" (John iv, 3); he passed
through Samaria, and held converse with the much-married "woman of
Samaria" at the well of Sychar; then "after two days he departed
thence, and went into Galilee. For Jesus himself testified, that a
prophet hath no honor in his own country. Then when he was come
into Galilee, the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the
things that he did at Jerusalem" (John iv, 43-45).

     The synoptists thus say that Jesus was without honor in
Galilee; John says that he was without honor in Judea, and for that
reason left there and went into Galilee. According to the
synoptists the Galileans rejected him; John says "the Galileans
received him"; according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Galilee was
"his own country"; according to John, Judea was "his own country."

     Thus Christendom's Jewish prophet is stripped of honor, not
only in "his own country," which honored him not, but in the
credulous Christian world, which has dishonored itself by believing
-- and by murdering and martyring millions who would not believe --
these childish, contradictory tales of the Christ.

     This summary review of the reputed life and acts of Jesus of
Nazareth, as set forth in the only human documents in which they
are with any pretense of inspiration recorded, has more than 

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abundantly shown, to even the most reverently credulous, the degree
of inspired truth in the gospel stories. The common asseveration of
veracity, "true as the gospel," has lost force as a convincing
assurance. "On my word of honor" is to be recommended as a more
persuasive formula for men of truth and honor.

     It is sad perhaps to discover that the long-cherished gospels
are totally wanting in that "harmony" which has long been regarded
as their most potent assurance of truth. But the simple process of
attentively comparing their records and pointing out their
contradictions has stripped them of all pretense of being inspired
truth. These gospels prove themselves -- as historical records --
to be clumsy fabrications of impossibilities, palmed off upon an
ignorant and credulous populace -- a whole generation and more
after the pretended events, by perhaps well-meaning persons,
pretending, as Paul admits of himself, by their lies to make the
glory of God the more to abound (Rom. iii, 7).

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                         Joseph Wheless


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