THEOSOPHY, Vol. 55, No. 6, April, 1967
(Pages 170-180; Size: 34K)
THE WISDOM RELIGION(11)
THE MYSTERIES: V
[Part 6 of a 12-part series]
NO more than any other scripture of the great world-religions can the Bible be excluded from that class of allegorical and symbolical writings which have been, from the pre-historic ages, the receptacle of the secret teachings of the Mysteries of Initiation, under a more or less veiled form. The primitive writers of the Logia (now the Gospels) knew certainly the truth, and the whole truth; but their successors had, as certainly, only dogma and form, which lead to hierarchical power at heart, rather than the spirit of the so-called Christ's teachings.
Nevertheless, TRUTH has not allowed herself to remain without witnesses. There are, besides great Initiates into scriptural symbology, a number of quiet students of the mysteries of archaic esotericism, of scholars proficient in Hebrew and other dead tongues, who have devoted their lives to unriddle the speeches of the Sphinx of the world-religions. And these students, though none of them has yet mastered all the "seven keys" that open the great problem, have discovered enough to be able to say: There was a universal mystery-language, in which all the World Scriptures were written, from Vedas to "Revelation," from the "Book of the Dead" to the Acts. One of the keys, at any rate -- the numerical and geometrical key(1) to the Mystery Speech is now rescued; an ancient language, truly, which up to this time remained hidden, but the evidences of which abundantly exist, as may be proven by undeniable mathematical demonstrations. If, indeed, the Bible is forced on the acceptance of the world in its dead-letter meaning, in the face of the modern discoveries by Orientalists and the efforts of independent students and kabalists, it is easy to prophesy that even the present new generations of Europe and America will repudiate it, as all the materialists and logicians have done. For, the more one studies ancient religious texts, the more one finds that the ground-work of the New Testament is the same as the ground-work of the Vedas, of the Egyptian theogony, and the Mazdean allegories. The atonements by blood -- blood-covenants and blood-transferences from gods to men, and by men, as sacrifices to the gods -- are the first keynote struck in every cosmogony and theogony; soul, life and blood were synonymous words in every language, pre-eminently with the Jews; and that blood-giving was life-giving. Lenormant has shown (Beginnings of History, p. 52, note) that "the Orphics ... said that the immaterial part of man, his soul (his life) sprang from the blood of Dionysius Zagreus, whom ... Titans tore to pieces." Blood "revivifies the dead" -- i.e., interpreted metaphysically, it gives conscious life and a soul to the man of matter or clay -- such as the modern materialist is now. The mystic meaning of the injunction, "Verily I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves," etc., can never be understood or appreciated at its true occult value, except by those who hold some of the seven keys, and yet care little for St. Peter.(2)
The first key that one has to use to unravel the dark secrets involved in the mystic name of Christ, is the key which unlocked the door to the ancient mysteries of the primitive Aryans, Sabeans and Egyptians. The Gnosis supplanted by the Christian scheme was universal. It was the echo of the primordial wisdom-religion which had once been the heirloom of the whole of mankind; and, therefore, one may truly say that, in its purely metaphysical aspect, the Spirit of Christ (the divine logos) was present in humanity from the beginning of it. The author of the Clementine Homilies is right; the mystery of Christos -- now supposed to have been taught by Jesus of Nazareth -- "was identical" with that which from the first had been communicated "to those who were worthy." We may learn from the Gospel according to Luke, that the "worthy" were those who had been initiated into the mysteries of the Gnosis, and who were "accounted worthy" to attain that "resurrection from the dead" in this life ... "those who knew that they could die no more, being equal to the angels as sons of God and sons of the Resurrection." In other words, they were the great adepts of whatever religion; and the words apply to all those who, without being Initiates, strive and succeed, through personal efforts to live the life and to attain the naturally ensuing spiritual illumination in blending their personality -- the ("Son") with (the "Father,") their individual divine Spirit, the God within them. This "resurrection" can never be monopolized by the Christians, but is the spiritual birth-right of every human being endowed with soul and spirit, whatever his religion may be. Such individual is a Christ-man. On the other hand, those who choose to ignore the Christ (principle) within themselves, must die unregenerate heathens -- baptism, sacraments, lip-prayers, and belief in dogmas notwithstanding.
In order to follow this explanation, the reader must bear in mind the real archaic meaning of the paronomasia involved in the two terms Chréstos and Christos. The former means certainly more than merely "a good," an "excellent man," while the latter was never applied to any one living man, but to every Initiate at the moment of his second birth and resurrection.(3) He who finds Christos within himself and recognizes the latter as his only "way," becomes a follower and an Apostle of Christ, though he may have never been baptised, nor even have met a "Christian," still less call himself one.
The word Chréstos existed ages before Christianity was heard of. It is found used, from the fifth century B.C., by Herodotus, by Æschylus and other classical Greek writers, the meaning of it being applied to both things and persons. The terms Christ and Christians, spelt originally Chrést and Chréstians (Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Lactantius, Clemens Alexandrinus, and others spelt it in this way), were directly borrowed from the Temple terminology of the Pagans, and meant the same thing. The secular meaning of Chréstos runs throughout the classical Greek literature pari passu with that given to it in the mysteries. Demosthenes ... means by it, "you nice fellow"; Plato ... "you are an excellent fellow to think...." But in the esoteric phraseology of the temples "chréstos" ... answers to what we would call an adept, also a high chela, a disciple. It is in this sense that it is used by Euripides and by Æschylus.
It is not what the early Fathers, who had an object to achieve, may affirm or deny, that is the important point, but rather what is now the evidence for the real significance given to the two terms Chréstos and Christos by the ancients in the pre-Christian ages. For the latter had no object to achieve, therefore nothing to conceal or disfigure, and their evidence is naturally the more reliable of the two. This evidence can be obtained by first studying the meaning given to these words by the classics, and then their correct significance searched for in mystic symbology.
Now Chréstos, as already said, is a term applied in various senses. It qualifies both Deity and Man. It is used in the former sense in the Gospels, and in Luke (6:35), where it means "kind," and "merciful," [and] in I Peter (2:3), where it is "kind is the Lord." On the other hand, it is explained by Clemens Alexandrinus as simply meaning a good man; i.e., "All who believe in Chrést (a good man) both are, and are called Chréstians, that is good men." The reticence of Clemens, whose Christianity, as King truly remarks in his Gnostics, was no more than a graft upon the congenial stock of his original Platonism, is quite natural. He was an Initiate, a new Platonist, before he became a Christian, which fact, however much he may have fallen off from his earlier views, could not exonerate him from his pledge of secrecy. And as a Theosophist and a Gnostic, one who knew, Clemens must have known that Christos was "the Way," while Chréstos was the lonely traveller journeying on to reach the ultimate goal through that "Path," which goal was Christos, the glorified Spirit of "TRUTH," the reunion with which makes the soul (the Son) ONE with the (Father) Spirit. That Paul knew it, is certain, for his own expressions prove it. For what do the words "I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you" mean, but what we give in its esoteric rendering, i.e., "until you find the Christos within yourselves as your only 'way'." (Gal. 4:19-20.)
Thus Jesus, whether of Nazareth or Lüd,(4) was a Chréstos, as undeniably as that he never was entitled to the appellation of Christos, during his lifetime and before his last trial. A number of ancient writers may be brought forward to testify that Christos (or Chreistos, rather) was, along with Hrésos, an adjective applied to Gentiles before the Christian era. Christos, or the "Christ-condition," was ever the synonym of the "Mahatmic-condition," i.e., the union of the man with the divine principle in him. As Paul says (Ephes. 3:17), "That you may find Christos in your inner man through knowledge" not faith, as translated; for Pistis is "knowledge."
There is still another and far more weighty proof that the name Christos is pre-Christian. The evidence for it is found in the prophecy of the Erythrean Sybil. Read exoterically, the words "Iesous Chreistos theou yios soter stauros," meaning literally "Iesus, Christos, God, Son, Saviour, Cross," are most excellent handles to hang a Christian prophecy on, but they are pagan, not Christian. Read esoterically, this string of meaningless detached nouns, which has no sense to the profane, contains a real prophecy -- only not referring to Jesus -- and a verse from the mystic catechism of the Initiate. The prophecy relates to the coming down upon the Earth of the Spirit of Truth (Christos), after which advent -- that had once more nought to do with Jesus -- will begin the Golden Age; the verse refers to the necessity before reaching that blessed condition of inner (or subjective) theophany and theopneusty, to pass through the crucifixion of flesh or matter.
If called upon to explain the names IESOUS CHREISTOS, the answer is: study mythology, the so-called "fictions" of the ancients, and they will give you the key. Ponder over Apollo, the solar god, and the "Healer," and the allegory about his son Janus (or Ion), his priest at Delphos, through whom alone could prayers reach the immortal gods, and his other son Asclepios, called the Soter, or Saviour.
Occultism pure and simple finds the same mystic elements in the Christian as in other faiths, though it rejects as emphatically its dogmatic and historic character. Still, the personage (Jesus) so addressed -- whenever he lived -- was a great Initiate and a "Son of God."
The surname Christos is based on, and the story of the Crucifixion derived from events that preceded it. Everywhere, in India as in Egypt, in Chaldea as in Greece, all these legends were built upon one and the same primitive type; the voluntary sacrifice of the logoï -- the rays of the one LOGOS, the direct manifested emanation from the One ever-concealed Infinite and Unknown -- whose rays incarnated in mankind. They consented to fall into matter, and are, therefore, called the "Fallen Ones."
* * *"Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy presence, and of the consummation of the age?"(5) asked the Disciples of the MASTER, on the Mount of Olives.The reply given by the "Man of Sorrow," the Chréstos, on his trial, but also on his way to triumph, as Christos, or Christ,(6) is prophetic, and very suggestive. It is a warning indeed. The answer must be quoted in full. Jesus ... said unto them:Take heed that no man lead you astray. For many shall come in my name saying, I am the Christ; and shall lead many astray. And ye shall hear of wars ... but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and earthquakes in divers places. But all these things are the beginning of travail. ... Many false prophets shall arise and shall lead many astray. ... Then shall the end come ... when ye see the abomination of desolation which was spoken through Daniel. ... Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ, or There! believe him not. ... If they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the wilderness, go not forth; behold, he is in the inner chambers, believe them not. For as the lightning cometh forth from the East, and is seen even in the West, so shall be the presence of the Son of Man.Two things become evident to all in the above passages, now that their false rendering is corrected in the revision text: (a) "the coming of Christ," means the presence of CHRISTOS in a regenerated world, and not at all the actual coming in body of "Christ" Jesus; (b) this Christ is to be sought neither in the wilderness nor "in the inner chambers," nor in the sanctuary of any temple or church built by man; for Christ -- the true esoteric SAVIOUR -- is no man, but the DIVINE PRINCIPLE in every human being. He who strives to resurrect the Spirit crucified in him by his own terrestrial passions, and buried deep in the "sepulchre" of his sinful flesh; he who has the strength to roll back the stone of matter from the door of his own inner sanctuary, he has the risen Christ in him.(7) The "Son of Man" is no child of the bondwoman -- flesh, but verily of the free-woman -- Spirit, the child of man's own deeds, and the fruit of his own spiritual labour. (Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, was feminine with the Jews, as with most ancient peoples, and it was so with the early Christians. Sophia of the Gnostics, and the third Sephiroth Binah [the female Jehovah of the Kabalists], are feminine principles -- "Divine Spirit," or Ruach. "Achath Ruach Elohim Chiim." "One is She, the Spirit of the Elohim of Life," is said in "Sepher Yezirah.")
Theosophists were never found saying that Christ is "Here" or "There," in wilderness or city, and least of all in the "inner chamber" behind the altar of any modern church. Whether Heathen or Christian by birth, they refuse to materialise and thus degrade that which is the purest and grandest ideal -- the symbol of symbols -- namely, the immortal Divine Spirit in man, whether it be called Horus, Krishna, Buddha, or Christ.
The "Christ principle," the awakened and glorified Spirit of Truth, being universal and eternal, the true Christos cannot be monopolized by any one person, even though that person has chosen to arrogate to himself the title of the "Vicar of Christ," or of the "Head" of that or another State-religion. The spirits of "Chrést" and "Christ" cannot be confined to any creed or sect, only because that sect chooses to exalt itself above the heads of all other religions or sects. The name has been used in a manner so intolerant and dogmatic, especially in our day, that Christianity is now the religion of arrogance par excellence, a steppingstone for ambition, a sinecure for wealth, sham and power; a convenient screen for hypocrisy.
To the true follower of the SPIRIT OF TRUTH, it matters little, therefore, whether Jesus, as man and Chréstos, lived during the era called Christian, or before, or never lived at all. The Adepts, who lived and died for humanity, have existed in many and all the ages, and many were the good and holy men in antiquity who bore the surname or title of Chréstos before Jesus of Nazareth, otherwise Jesus (or Jehoshua) Ben Pandira was born. (Several classics bear testimony to this fact.) Therefore, one may be permitted to conclude, with good reason, that Jesus, or Jehoshua, was like Socrates, like Phocian, like Theodorus, and so many others surnamed Chréstos, i.e., the "good, the excellent," the gentle, and the holy Initiate, who showed the "way" to the Christos condition, and thus became himself "the Way" in the hearts of his enthusiastic admirers. The Christians, as all "Hero-worshippers" have tried to throw into the background all the other Chréstoï, who have appeared to them as rivals of their Man-God. But if the voice of the MYSTERIES has become silent for many ages in the West, if Eleusis, Memphis, Antium, Delphi, and Crèsa have long ago been made the tombs of a Science once as colossal in the West as it is yet in the East, there are successors now being prepared for them. We are in 1887 and the nineteenth century is close to its death. The twentieth century has strange developments in store for humanity, and may even be the last of its name.
Belief in the Bible literally, and in a carnalised Christ, will not last a quarter of a century longer. The Churches will have to part with their cherished dogmas, or the twentieth century will witness the downfall and ruin of all Christendom, and with it, belief even in a Christos, as pure Spirit. The very name has now become obnoxious, and theological Christianity must die out, never to resurrect again in its present form. This, in itself, would be the happiest solution of all, were there no danger from the natural reaction which is sure to follow: crass materialism will be the consequence and the result of centuries of blind faith, unless the loss of old ideals is replaced by other ideals, unassailable, because universal, and built on the rock of eternal truths instead of the shifting sands of human fancy.
No man, once he devotes himself to such comparative studies, can regard the religion of the West in any light but that of a pale and enfeebled copy of older and nobler philosophies. The origin of all religions -- Judaeo-Christianity included -- is to be found in a few primeval truths, not one of which can be explained apart from all the others, as each is a complement of the rest in some one detail. And they are all, more or less, broken rays of the same Sun of truth, and their beginnings have to be sought in the archaic records of the Wisdom-religion.
Whence, then, the Gospels, the life of Jesus of Nazareth? Has it not been repeatedly stated that no human, mortal brain could have invented the life of the Jewish Reformer, followed by the awful drama on Calvary? We say, on the authority of the esoteric Eastern School, and all this came from the Gnostics, as far as the name Christos and the astronomico-mystical allegories are concerned, and from the writings of the ancient Tanaïm as regards the Kabalistic connection of Jesus or Joshua, with the Biblical personifications.
The Gnostic Records contained the epitome of the chief scenes enacted during the mysteries of Initiation, since the memory of man; though even that was given out invariably under the garb of semi-allegory, whenever entrusted to parchment or paper. But the ancient Tanaïm, the Initiates from whom the wisdom of the Kabala (oral tradition) was obtained by the later Talmudists, had in their possession the secrets of the mystery language, and it is in this language that the Gospels were written.(8) He alone who has mastered the esoteric cypher of antiquity -- the secret meaning of the numerals, a common property at one time of all nations -- has the full proof of the genius which was displayed in the blending of the purely Egypto-Jewish, Old Testament allegories and names, and those of the pagan-Greek Gnostics, the most refined of all the mystics of that day.
The Christian application of the compound name Jesus-Christ is all based on Gnostic and Eastern mysticism. It was only right and natural that Chroniclers like the initiated Gnostics, pledged to secrecy, should veil or cloak the final meaning of their oldest and most sacred teachings. The right of the Church fathers to cover the whole with an epitheme of euhemerized fancy is rather more dubious.(9) The Gnostic Scribe and Chronicler deceived no one. Every Initiate into the Archaic gnosis -- whether of the pre-Christian or post-Christian period -- knew well the value of every word of the "mystery language." For these Gnostics -- the inspirers of primitive Christianity -- were "the most cultured, the most learned and most wealthy of the Christian name," as Gibbon has it. Neither they, nor their humbler followers, were in danger of accepting the dead letter of their own texts.
Paul was a gnostic, a founder of a new sect of gnosis which recognized, as all other gnostic sects did, a "Christ-Spirit," though it went against its opponents, the rival sects, is sufficiently clear to all but dogmatists and theologians. Nor is it less clear that the primitive teachings of Jesus, whenever he may have lived, could be discovered only in Gnostic teachings; against which discovery, the falsifiers who dragged down Spirit into matter, thus degrading the noble philosophy of primeval Wisdom-Religion, have taken ample precautions from the first. The works of Basilides alone -- "The philosopher devoted to the contemplation of Divine things," as Clement describes him -- the twenty-four volumes of his interpretations upon the Gospels -- were all burned by order of the Church.
Another proof of the claim that the Gospel of Matthew in the usual Greek texts is not the original gospel written in Hebrew, is given by no less an authority than S. Jerome (or Hieronymus). The suspicion of a conscious and gradual euhemerization of the Christ principle ever since the beginning, grows into a conviction, once that one becomes acquainted with a certain confession contained in book ii. of the "Comment. to Matthew" by Hieronymus. For we find in it the proofs of a deliberate substitution of the whole gospel, the one now in the Canon having been evidently re-written by this too zealous Church Father.(10) He says that he was sent toward the close of the fourth century by "their Felicities," the Bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus to Cæsarea, with the mission to compare the Greek text (the only one they ever had) with the Hebrew original version preserved by the Nazarenes in their library, and to translate it. He translated it, but under protest; for, as he says, the Evangel "exhibited matter not for edification, but for destruction. The "destruction" of what? Of the dogma that Jesus of Nazareth and the Christos are one -- evidently; hence for the "destruction" of the newly planned religion. In this same letter the Saint (who advised his converts to kill their fathers, trample on the bosom that fed them, by walking over the bodies of their mothers, if the parents stood as an obstacle between their sons and Christ) -- admits that Matthew did not wish his gospel to be openly written, hence that the MS. was a secret one. But while admitting also that this gospel "was written in Hebrew characters and by the hand of himself" (Matthew), yet in another place he contradicts himself and assures posterity that as it was tampered with, and rewritten by a disciple of Manicheus, named Selecus ... "the ears of the Church properly refused to listen to it."
No wonder that the very meaning of the terms Chréstos and Christos, and the bearing of both on "Jesus of Nazareth," a name coined out of Joshua the Nazar, has now become a dead letter for all with the exception of non-Christian Occultists. For even the Kabalists have no original data now to rely upon. The Zohar and the Kabala have been remodelled by Christian hands out of recognition; and were it not for a copy of the Chaldean Book of Numbers there would remain no better than garbled accounts.
What with several generations of most active Church Fathers ever working at the destruction of old documents and the preparation of new passages to be interpolated in those which happened to survive, there remains of the Gnostics -- the legitimate offspring of the Archaic Wisdom-religion -- but a few unrecognisable shreds. But a particle of genuine gold will glitter for ever; and, however garbled the accounts left by Tertullian and Epiphanius of the Doctrines of the "Heretics," an occultist can yet find even in them traces of those primeval truths which were once universally imparted during the Mysteries of Initiation. Among other works with most suggestive allegories in them, we have still the so-called Apocryphal Gospels, and the last discovered as the most precious relic of Gnostic literature, a fragment called Pistis-Sophia, "Knowledge-Wisdom."
Those who translate Pistis by "Faith," are utterly wrong. The word "faith" as grace or something to be believed in through unreasoned or blind faith, is a word that dates only since Christianity. Nor has Paul ever used this term in this sense in his Epistles; and Paul was undeniably -- an INITIATE.
THE WISDOM RELIGION
[Part 7 of a 12-part series]
"THE WISDOM RELIGION"
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ELEVEN (11) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(11) NOTE.--"The Wisdom Religion" began in the November, 1966, issue. This installment, the last on "The Mysteries," comprises extracts from "The Esoteric Character of the Gospels," by H. P. Blavatsky. This three-part article was first published in Lucifer for November, December, 1887, and February, 1888; and was reprinted in Volume IV of THEOSOPHY.
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(1) "The key to the recovery of the language, so far as the writer's efforts have been concerned, was found in the use, strange to say, of the discovered integral ratio in numbers of diameter to circumference of a circle," by a geometrician. "This ratio is 6,561 for diameter and 20,612 for circumference." (Cabalistic MSS.)
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(2) The existence of these seven keys is virtually admitted, owing to deep research in the Egyptological lore, by Mr. G. Massey. While opposing the teachings of "Esoteric Buddhism" -- unfortunately misunderstood by him in almost every respect -- in his Lecture on "The Seven Souls of Man," he writes (p. 21):
"This system of thought, this mode of representation, this septenary of powers, in various aspects, had been established in Egypt, at least, seven thousand years ago, as we learn from certain allusions to Atma (the god 'in whom the fatherhood was individualised as the begetter of an eternal soul,' (the seventh principle of the Theosophists), found in the inscriptions lately discovered at Sakkarah. I say in various aspects, because the gnosis of the Mysteries was, at least sevenfold in its nature -- it was Elemental, Biological, Elementary (human), Stellar, Lunar, Solar and Spiritual -- and nothing short of a grasp of the whole system can possibly enable us to discriminate the various parts, distinguish one from the other, and determine the which and the what, as we try to follow the symbolical Seven through their several phases of character."
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(3) "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God." (John 3:4.) Here the birth from above, the spiritual birth, is meant, achieved at the supreme and last initiation.
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(4) Or Lydda. Reference is made here to the Rabbinical tradition in the Babylonian Gemara, called Sepher Toledoth Jeshu, about Jesus being the son of one named Pandira, and having lived a century earlier than the era called Christian, namely, during the reign of the Jewish king Alexander Jannæus and his wife Salome, who reigned from the year 106 to 79 B.C. Accused by the Jews of having learned the magic art in Egypt, and of having stolen from the Holy of Holies the Incommunicable Name, Jehoshua (Jesus) was put to death by the Sanhedrin at Lud. He was stoned and then crucified on a tree, on the eve of Passover. The narrative is ascribed to the Talmudistic authors of "Sota" and "Sanhedrin," p. 19, Book of Zechiel. See Isis Unveiled II, 201; Eliphas Levi's Science des Esprits, and "The Historical Jesus and Mythical Christ," a lecture by G. Massey.
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(5) St. Matthew 24:3, et seq. The sentences italicised are those which stand corrected in the New Testament after the recent revision in 1881 of the version of 1611, which version is full of errors, voluntary and involuntary. The word "presence," for "coming," and "the consummation of the age," now standing for "the end of the world," have altered, of late, the whole meaning, even for the most sincere Christians, if we except the Adventists.
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(6) He who will not ponder over and master the great difference between the meaning of the two Greek words -- Chréstos and Christos -- must remain blind forever to the true esoteric meaning of the Gospels; that is to say, to the living Spirit entombed in the sterile dead-letter of the texts, the very Dead Sea fruit of lip-Christianity.
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(7) For ye are the temple ("sanctuary" in the revised N.T.) of the living God. (II Cor. 6:16.)
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(8) Thus while the three Synoptics display a combination of the pagan Greek and Jewish symbologies the Revelation is written in the mystery language of the Tanaïm -- the relic of Egyptian and Chaldean wisdom -- and St. John's Gospel is purely Gnostic.
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(9) The claim of Christianity to possess Divine authority rests on the ignorant belief that the mystical Christ could and did become a Person, whereas the gnosis proves the corporeal Christ to be only a counterfeit Presentment of the trans-corporeal man; consequently, historical portraiture is, and ever must be, a fatal mode of falsifying and discrediting the Spiritual Reality." (G. Massey, "Gnostic and Historic Christianity.")
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(10) This is history. How far that re-writing of, and tampering with, the primitive gnostic fragments which are now become the New Testament went, may be inferred by reading Supernatural Religion, which went through over twenty-three editions, if I mistake not. The host of authorities for it given by the author, is simply appalling. The list of the English and German Bible critics alone seems endless.
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