a.d. 1–100












J. L. von Mosheim: Historical Commentaries on the State of Christianity in the first three centuries. 1753. Transl. by Vidal and Murdock, vol. i. chs. 1 and 2 (pp. 9–82, of the N. York ed. 1853).

Neander: Allg. Gesch. der christl. Religion und Kirche. Vol. 1st (1842). Einleit. (p. 1–116).

J. P. Lange: Das Apost. Zeitalter. 1853, I. pp. 224–318.

Schaff: Hist. of the Apostolic Church. pp. 137–188 (New York ed.).

Lutterbeck (R. C.): Die N. Testamentlichen Lehrbegriffe, oder Untersuchungen über das Zeitalter der Religionswende, die Vorstufen des Christenthums und die erste Gestaltung desselben. Mainz, 1852, 2 vols.

Döllinger (R. C.): Heidenthum und Judenthum. Vorhalle zur Geschichte des Christenthums. Regensb. 1857. Engl. transl. by N. Darnell under the title: The Gentile and the Jew in the courts of the Temple of Christ: an Introduction to the History of Christianity. Lond. 1862, 2 vols.

Charles Hardwick (d. 1859): Christ and other Masters. London, 4th ed. by Procter, 1875.

M. Schneckenburger (d. 1848): Vorlesungen über N. Testamentliche Zeitgeschichte, aus dessen Nachlass herausgegeben von Löhlein, mit Vorwort von Hundeshagen. Frankf. a M. 1862.

A. Hausrath: N. Testamentliche Zeitgeschichte. Heidelb. 1868 sqq., 2d ed. 1873–’77, 4 vols. The first vol. appeared in a third ed. 1879. The work includes the state of Judaism and heathenism in the time of Christ, the apostolic and the post-apostolic age to Hadrian (a.d. 117). English translation by Poynting and Guenzer, Lond. 1878 sqq.

E. Schürer: Lehrbuch der N. Testamentlichen Zeitgeschichte. Leipz. 1874. Revised and enlarged under the title: Gesch. des jüd. Volkes im Zeitalter Christi. 1886, 2 vols. Engl. translation, Edinb. and N. Y.

H. Schiller: Geschichte des römischen Kaiserreichs unter der Regierung des Nero. Berlin, 1872.

L. Freidländer: Darstellungen aus der Sittengeschichte Roms in der Zeit von Augustus  bis zum Ausgang der Antonine. Leipzig, 5th ed., revised, 1881, 3 vols. A standard work.

Geo. P. Fisher (of Yale College, New Haven): The Beginnings of Christianity. N. York, 1877. Chs. II.-VII.

Gerhard Uhlhorn: The Conflict of Christianity with Heathenism. Transl. by Egbert C. Smyth and C. T H. Ropes. N. York, 1879. Book I. chs. 1 and 2. The German original appeared in a 4th ed., 1884.


 § 8. Central Position of Christ in the History of the World.


To see clearly the relation of the Christian religion to the preceding history of mankind, and to appreciate its vast influence upon all future ages, we must first glance at the preparation which existed in the political, moral, and religious condition of the world for the advent of our Saviour.

As religion is the deepest and holiest concern of man, the entrance of the Christian religion into history is the most momentous of all events. It is the end of the old world and the beginning of the new. It was a great idea of Dionysius "the Little" to date our era from the birth of our Saviour. Jesus Christ, the God-Man, the prophet, priest, and king of mankind, is, in fact, the centre and turning-point not only of chronology, but of all history, and the key to all its mysteries. Around him, as the sun of the moral universe, revolve at their several distances, all nations and all important events, in the religious life of the world; and all must, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, contribute to glorify his name and advance his cause. The history of mankind before his birth must be viewed as a preparation for his coming, and the history after his birth as a gradual diffusion of his spirit and progress of his kingdom. "All things were created by him, and for him." He is "the desire of all nations." He appeared in the "fulness of time,"45 when the process of preparation was finished, and the world’s need of redemption fully disclosed.

This preparation for Christianity began properly with the very creation of man, who was made in the image of God, and destined for communion with him through the eternal Son; and with the promise of salvation which God gave to our first parents as a star of hope to guide them through the darkness of sin and error.46  Vague memories of a primitive paradise and subsequent fall, and hopes of a future redemption, survive even in the heathen religions.

With Abraham, about nineteen hundred years before Christ, the religious development of humanity separates into the two independent, and, in their compass, very unequal branches of Judaism and heathenism. These meet and unite—at last in Christ as the common Saviour, the fulfiller of the types and prophecies, desires and hopes of the ancient world; while at the same time the ungodly elements of both league in deadly hostility against him, and thus draw forth the full revelation of his all—conquering power of truth and love.

As Christianity is the reconciliation and union of God and man in and through Jesus Christ, the God-Man, it must have been preceded by a twofold process of preparation, an approach of God to man, and an approach of man to God. In Judaism the preparation is direct and positive, proceeding from above downwards, and ending with the birth of the Messiah. In heathenism it is indirect and mainly, though not entirely, negative, proceeding from below upwards, and ending with a helpless cry of mankind for redemption. There we have a special revelation or self-communication of the only true God by word and deed, ever growing clearer and plainer, till at last the divine Logos appears in human nature, to raise it to communion with himself; here men, guided indeed by the general providence of God, and lighted by the glimmer of the Logos shining in the darkness,47 yet unaided by direct revelation, and left to "walk in their own ways,"48 "that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after him, and find him."49  In Judaism the true religion is prepared for man; in heathenism man is prepared for the true religion. There the divine substance is begotten; here the human forms are moulded to receive it. The former is like the elder son in the parable, who abode in his father’s house; the latter like the prodigal, who squandered his portion, yet at last shuddered before the gaping abyss of perdition, and penitently returned to the bosom of his father’s compassionate love.50  Heathenism is the starry night, full of darkness and fear, but of mysterious presage also, and of anxious waiting for the light of day; Judaism, the dawn, full of the fresh hope and promise of the rising sun; both lose themselves in the sunlight of Christianity, and attest its claim to be the only true and the perfect religion for mankind.

The heathen preparation again was partly intellectual and literary, partly political and social. The former is represented by the Greeks, the latter by the Romans.

Jerusalem, the holy city, Athens, the city of culture, and Rome, the city of power, may stand for the three factors in that preparatory history which ended in the birth of Christianity.

This process of preparation for redemption in the, history of the world, the groping of heathenism after the "unknown God"51 and inward peace, and the legal struggle and comforting hope of Judaism, repeat themselves in every individual believer; for man is made for Christ, and "his heart is restless, till it rests in Christ."52


 § 9. Judaism.




I. Sources.

1. The Canonical Books of the O. and N. Testaments.

2. The Jewish Apocrypha. Best edition by Otto Frid. Fritzsche: Libri Apocryphi Veteris Testamenti Graece. Lips. 1871. German Commentary by Fritzsche and Grimm, Leipz. 1851–’60 (in the "Exeget. Handbuch zum A. T."); English Com. by Dr. E. C. Bissell, N. York, 1880 (vol. xxv. in Schaff’s ed. of Lange’s Bible-Work).

3. Josephus (a Jewish scholar, priest, and historian, patronized by Vespasian and Titus,  b. a.d. 37, d. about 103): Antiquitates Judaicae (jArcaiologiva  jIoudaikhv), in 20 books, written first (but not preserved) in Aramaic, and then reproduced in Greek, a.d. 94, beginning with the creation and coming down to the outbreak of the rebellion against the Romans, a.d. 66, important for the post-exilian period. Bellum Judaicum (peri; tou' jIoudai>vkou' polevmou), in 7 books, written about 75, from his own personal observation (as Jewish general in Galilee, then as Roman captive, and Roman agent), and coming down to the destruction of Jerusalem, a.d. 70. Contra. Apionem, a defence of the Jewish nation against the calumnies of the grammarian Apion. His Vita or Autobiography was written after a.d. 100.—Editions of Josephus by Hudson, Oxon. 1720, 2 vols. fol.; Havercamp, Amst. 1726, 2 fol.; Oberthür, Lips. 1785, 3 vols.; Richter, Lips. 1827, 6 vols.; Dindorf, Par. 1849, 2 vols.; Imm. Bekker, Lips. 1855, 6 vols. The editions of Havercamp and Dindorf are the best. English translations by Whiston and Traill, often edited, in London, New York, Philadelphia. German translations by Hedio, Ott, Cotta, Demme.

4. Philo of Alexandria (d. after a.d. 40) represents the learned and philosophical (Platonic) Judaism. Best ed. by Mangey, Lond. 1742, 2 fol., and Richter, Lips. 1828, 2 vols. English translation by C. D. Yonge, London, 1854, 4 vols. (in Bohn’s "Ecclesiastical Library").

5. The Talmud (T'l]mWd  i.e. Doctrine) represents the traditional, post-exilian, and anti-Christian Judaism. It consists of the Mishna (!iv]n:h ,, deutevrwsi" Repetition of the Law), from the end of the second century, and the Gemara (gÒm;r;a  i.e. Perfect Doctrine, from gÉm'r  to bring to an end). The latter exists in two forms, the Palestinian Gemara, completed at Tiberias about a.d. 350, and the Babylonian Gemara of the sixth century. Best eds. of the Talmud by Bomberg, Ven. 1520 sqq. 12 vols. fol., and Sittenfeld, Berlin, 1862–’68, 12 vols. fol. Latin version of the Mishna by G. Surenhusius, Amst. 1698–1703, 6 vols. fol.; German by J. J. Rabe, Onolzbach, 1760–’63.

6. Monumental Sources: of Egypt (see the works of Champollion, Young, Rosellini, Wilkinson, Birch, Mariette, Lepsius, Bunsen, Ebers, Brugsch, etc.); of Babylon and Assyria (see Botta, Layard, George Smith, Sayce, Schrader, etc.).

7. Greek and Roman authors: Polybius (d. b.c. 125), Diodorus Siculus (contemporary of Caesar), Strabo ((d. a.d. 24), Tacitus (d. about 117), Suetonius(d. about 130), Justinus (d. after a.d. 160). Their accounts are mostly incidental, and either simply derived from Josephus, or full of error and prejudice, and hence of very little value.


II. Histories.

(a) By Christian authors.

Prideaux (Dean of Norwich, d. 1724): The Old and New Testament Connected in the History of the Jews and neighboring nations, from the declension of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah to the time of Christ. Lond. 1715; 11th ed. 1749, 4 vols. (and later eds.). The same in French and German.

J. J. Hess (d. 1828): Geschichte der Israeliten vor den Zeiten Jesu. Zür. 1766 sqq., 12 vols.

Warburton (Bishop of Gloucester, d. 1779): The Divine Legation of Moses demonstrated. 5th ed. Lond. 1766; 10th ed. by James Nichols, Lond. 1846, 3 vols. 8vo.

Milman (Dean of St. Paul’s, d. 1868): History of the Jews. Lond. 1829, 3 vols.; revised ed. Lond. and N. York, 1865, 3 vols.

J. C. K. Hofmann (Prof. in Erlangen, d. 1878): Weissagung und Erfüllung. Nördl. 1841, 2 vols.

Archibald Alexander (d. at Princeton, 1851): A History of the Israelitish Nation. Philadelphia, 1853. (Popular.)

H. Ewald (d. 1874): Geschichte des Volkes Israel bis Christus. Gött. 1843 sqq. 3d ed. 1864–’68, 7 vols. A work of rare genius and learning, but full of bold conjectures. Engl. transl. by Russell Martineau and J. E. Carpenter. Lond. 1871–’76, 5 vols. Comp. also Ewald’s Prophets, and Poetical Books of the O. T.

E. W. Hengstenberg (d. 1869): Geschichte des Reiches Gottes unter dem Alten Bunde. Berl. 1869–’71, 2 vols. (Posthumous publication.)  English transl., Edinburgh (T. & T. Clark), 1871–272, 2 vols. (Name of the translator not given.)

J. H. Kurtz: Geschichte des Alten Bundes. Berlin, 1848–’55, 2 vols. (unfinished). Engl. transl. by Edersheim, Edinb. 1859, in 3 vols. The same: Lehrbuch der heil. Geschichte. Königsb. 6th ed. 1853; also in English, by C. F. Schäffer. Phil. 1855.

P. Cassel: Israel in der Weltgeschichte. Berlin, 1865 (32 pp.).

Joseph Langen (R. C.): Das Judenthum in Palästina zur Zeit Christi. Freiburg i. B. 1866.

G. Weber and H. Holtzmann: Geschichte des Volkes Israel und der Gründung des Christenthums. Leipzig, 1867, 2 vols. (the first vol. by Weber, the second by Holtzmann).

H. Holtzmann: Die Messiasidee zur Zeit Christi, in the "Jahrbücher für Deutsche Theologie," Gotha, 1867 (vol. xii. pp. 389–411).

F. Hitzig: Geschichte des Volkes Israel von Anbeginn bis zur Eroberung Masada’s im J. 72 nach Chr. Heidelb. 1869, 2 vols.

A. Kuenen (Prof. in Leyden): De godsdienst van Israël tot den ondergang van den joodschen staat. Haarlem, 1870, 2 vols. Transl. into English. The Religion of Israel to the Fall of the Jewish State, by A. H. May. Lond. (Williams & Norgate), 1874–’75, 3 vols. Represents the advanced rationalism of Holland.

A. P. Stanley (Dean of Westminster): Lectures on the History of the Jewish Church. Lond. and N. York, 1863–76, 3 vols. Based on Ewald.

W. Wellhausen: Geschichte Israels. Berlin, 1878, 3d ed. 1886. Transl. by Black and Menzies: Prolegomena to the History of Israel. Edinb. 1885.

F. Schürer: Geschichte des jüd. Volkes im Zeitalter Christi. 1886 sq. 2 vols.

A. Edersheim: Prophecy and History in relation to the Messiah. Lond. 1885.

A. Köhler: Lehrbuch der bibl. Geschichte des A. T. Erlangen, 1875–’88.

C. A. Briggs: Messianic Prophecy. N. York and Edinb. 1886.

V. H. Stanton: The Jewish, and the Christian Messiah. Lond. 1886.

B. Stade: Gesch. des Volkes Israel. Berlin, 1888, 2 vols. Radical.

E. Renan: Hist. du peuple d’Israel. Paris, 1887 sqq., 3 vols. Engl. translation, London, 1888 sqq. Radical.

B. Kittel: Gesch. der Hebräer. Gotha, 1888 sqq. Moderate.


(b) By Jewish authors.

J. M. Jost: Geschichte der Israeliten seit der Zeit der Maccabäer bis auf unsere Tage. Leipz. 1820–’28, 9 vols. By the same: Geschichte des Judenthums und seiner Secten. 1857–159, 3 vols.

Salvador: Histoire de la domination Romaine en Judée et de la ruine de Jerusalem. Par. 1847, 2 vols.

Raphall: Post-biblical History of the Jews from the close of the 0. T. about the year 420 till the destruction of the second Temple in the year 70. Lond. 1856, 2 vols.

Abraham Geiger (a liberal Rabbi at Frankfort on the M.): Das Judenthum und seine Geschichte. Breslau; 2d ed. 1865–’71, 3 vols. With an appendix on Strauss and Renan. Comes down to the 16th century. English transl. by Maurice Mayer. N. York, 1865.

L. Herzfeld: Geschichte des Volkes Jizrael. Nordhausen, 1847–’57, 3 vols. The same work, abridged in one vol. Leipz. 1870.

H. Grätz (Prof. in Breslau): Geschichte der Juden von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart. Leipz. 1854–’70, 11 vols. (to 1848).


"Salvation is of the Jews."53  This wonderful people, whose fit symbol is the burning bush, was chosen by sovereign grace to stand amidst the surrounding idolatry as the bearer of the knowledge of the only true God, his holy law, and cheering promise, and thus to become the cradle of the Messiah. It arose with the calling of Abraham, and the covenant of Jehovah with him in Canaan, the land of promise; grew to a nation in Egypt, the land of bondage; was delivered and organized into a theocratic state on the basis of the law of Sinai by Moses in the wilderness; was led back into Palestine by Joshua; became, after the Judges, a monarchy, reaching the height of its glory in David and Solomon; split into two hostile kingdoms, and, in punishment for internal discord and growing apostasy to idolatry, was carried captive by heathen conquerors; was restored after seventy years’ humiliation to the land of its fathers, but fell again under the yoke of heathen foes; yet in its deepest abasement fulfilled its highest mission by giving birth to the Saviour of the world. "The history of the Hebrew people," says Ewald, "is, at the foundation, the history of the true religion growing through all the stages of progress unto its consummation; the religion which, on its narrow national territory, advances through all struggles to the highest victory, and at length reveals itself in its full glory and might, to the end that, spreading abroad by its own irresistible energy, it may never vanish away, but may become the eternal heritage and blessing of all nations. The whole ancient world had for its object to seek the true religion; but this people alone finds its being and honor on earth exclusively in the true religion, and thus it enters upon the stage of history."54

Judaism, in sharp contrast with the idolatrous nations of antiquity, was like an oasis in a desert, clearly defined and isolated; separated and enclosed by a rigid moral and ceremonial law. The holy land itself, though in the midst of the three Continents of the ancient world, and surrounded by the great nations of ancient culture, was separated from them by deserts south and east, by sea on the west, and by mountain on the north; thus securing to the Mosaic religion freedom to unfold itself and to fulfil its great work without disturbing influenced from abroad. But Israel carried in its bosom from the first the large promise, that in Abraham’s seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. Abraham, the father of the faithful, Moses, the lawgiver, David, the heroic king and sacred psalmist, Isaiah, the evangelist among the prophets, Elijah the Tishbite, who reappeared with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration to do homage to Jesus, and John the Baptist, the impersonation of the whole Old Testament, are the most conspicuous links in the golden chain of the ancient revelation.

The outward circumstances and the moral and religious condition of the Jews at the birth of Christ would indeed seem at first and on the whole to be in glaring contradiction with their divine destiny. But, in the first place, their very degeneracy proved the need of divine help. In the second place, the redemption through Christ appeared by contrast in the greater glory, as a creative act of God. And finally, amidst the mass of corruption, as a preventive of putrefaction, lived the succession of the true children of Abraham, longing for the salvation of Israel, and ready to embrace Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world.

Since the conquest of Jerusalem by Pompey, b.c. 63 (the year made memorable by the consulship of Cicero. the conspiracy of Catiline, and the birth of Caesar Augustus), the Jews had been subject to the heathen Romans, who heartlessly governed them by the Idumean Herod and his sons, and afterwards by procurators. Under this hated yoke their Messianic hopes were powerfully raised, but carnally distorted. They longed chiefly for a political deliverer, who should restore the temporal dominion of David on a still more splendid scale; and they were offended with the servant form of Jesus, and with his spiritual kingdom. Their morals were outwardly far better than those of the heathen; but under the garb of strict obedience to their law, they concealed great corruption. They are pictured in the New Testament as a stiff-necked, ungrateful, and impenitent race, the seed of the serpent, a generation of vipers. Their own priest and historian, Josephus, who generally endeavored to present his countrymen to the Greeks and Romans in the most favorable light, describes them as at that time a debased and wicked people, well deserving their fearful punishment in the destruction of Jerusalem.

As to religion, the Jews, especially after the Babylonish captivity, adhered most tenaciously to the letter of the law, and to their traditions and ceremonies, but without knowing the spirit and power of the Scriptures. They cherished a bigoted horror of the heathen, and were therefore despised and hated by them as misanthropic, though by their judgment, industry, and tact, they were able to gain wealth and consideration in all the larger cities of the Roman empire.

After the time of the Maccabees (b.c. 150), they fell into three mutually hostile sects or parties, which respectively represent the three tendencies of formalism, skepticism, and mysticism; all indicating the approaching dissolution of the old religion and the dawn of the new. We may compare them to the three prevailing schools of Greek philosophy—the Stoic, the Epicurean, and the Platonic, and also to the three sects of Mohammedanism—the Sunnis, who are traditionalists, the Sheas, who adhere to the Koran, and the Sufis or mystics, who seek true religion in "internal divine sensation."

1. The Pharisees, the "separate,"55 were, so to speak, the Jewish Stoics. They represented the traditional orthodoxy and stiff formalism, the legal self-righteousness and the fanatical bigotry of Judaism. They had most influence with the people and the women, and controlled the public worship. They confounded piety with theoretical orthodoxy. They overloaded the holy Scriptures with the traditions of the elders so as to make the Scriptures "of none effect." They analyzed the Mosaic law to death, and substituted a labyrinth of casuistry for a living code. "They laid heavy burdens and grievous to be borne on men’s shoulders," and yet they themselves would "not move them with their fingers." In the New Testament they bear particularly the reproach of hypocrisy; with, of course, illustrious exceptions, like Nicodemus, Gamaliel, and his disciple, Paul.

2. The less numerous Sadducees56 were skeptical, rationalistic, and worldly-minded, and held about the same position in Judaism as the Epicureans and the followers of the New Academy in Greek and Roman heathendom. They accepted the written Scriptures (especially the Pentateuch), but rejected the oral traditions, denied the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul, the existence of angels and spirits, and the doctrine of an all-ruling providence. They numbered their followers among the rich, and had for some time possession of the office of the high-priest. Caiaphas belonged to their party.

The difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees reappears among modern Jews, who are divided into the orthodox and the liberal or rationalistic parties.

3. The Essenes (whom we know only from Philo and Josephus) were not a party, but a mystic and ascetic order or brotherhood, and lived mostly in monkish seclusion in villages and in the desert Engedi on the Dead Sea.57  They numbered about 4,000 members. With an arbitrary, allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament, they combined some foreign theosophic elements, which strongly resemble the tenets of the new Pythagorean and Platonic schools, but were probably derived (like the Gnostic and Manichaean theories) from eastern religions, especially from Parsism. They practised communion of goods, wore white garments, rejected animal food, bloody sacrifices, oaths, slavery, and (with few exceptions) marriage, and lived in the utmost simplicity, hoping thereby to attain a higher degree of holiness. They were the forerunners of Christian monasticism.

The sect of the Essenes came seldom or never into contact with Christianity under the Apostles, except in the shape of a heresy at Colossae. But the Pharisees and Sadducees, particularly the former, meet us everywhere in the Gospels as bitter enemies of Jesus, and hostile as they are to each other, unite in condemning him to that death of the cross, which ended in the glorious resurrection, and became the foundation of spiritual life to believing Gentiles as well as Jews.


 § 10. The Law, and the Prophecy.


Degenerate and corrupt though the mass of Judaism was, yet the Old Testament economy was the divine institution preparatory to the Christian redemption, and as such received deepest reverence from Christ and his apostles, while they sought by terrible rebuke to lead its unworthy representatives to repentance. It therefore could not fail of its saving effect on those hearts which yielded to its discipline, and conscientiously searched the Scriptures of Moses and the prophets.

Law and prophecy are the two great elements of the Jewish religion, and make it a direct divine introduction to Christianity, "the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God."

1. The law of Moses was the clearest expression of the holy will of God before the advent of Christ. The Decalogue is a marvel of ancient legislation, and in its two tables enjoins the sum and substance of all true piety and morality—supreme love to God, and love to our neighbor. It set forth the ideal of righteousness, and was thus fitted most effectually to awaken the sense of man’s great departure from it, the knowledge of sin and guilt.58  It acted as a schoolmaster to lead men to Christ59 that they might be justified by faith."60

The same sense of guilt and of the need of reconciliation was constantly kept alive by daily sacrifices, at first in the tabernacle and afterwards in the temple, and by the whole ceremonial law, which, as a wonderful system of types and shadows, perpetually pointed to the realities of the new covenant, especially to the one all-sufficient atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

God in his justice requires absolute obedience and purity of heart under promise of life and penalty of death. Yet he cannot cruelly sport with man; he is the truthful faithful, and merciful God. In the moral and ritual law, therefore, as in a shell, is hidden the sweet kernel of a promise, that he will one day exhibit the ideal of righteousness in living form, and give the penitent sinner pardon for all his transgressions and the power to fulfil the law. Without such assurance the law were bitter irony.

As regards the law, the Jewish economy was a religion of repentance.

2. But it was at the same time, as already, hinted, the vehicle of the divine promise of redemption, and, as such, a religion of hope. While the Greeks and Romans put their golden age in the past, the Jews looked for theirs in the future. Their whole history, their religious, political, and social institutions and customs pointed to the coming of the Messiah, and the establishment of his kingdom on earth.

Prophecy, or the gospel under the covenant of the law, is really older than the law, which was added afterwards and came in between the promise and its fulfilment, between sin and redemption, between the disease and the cure.61  Prophecy begins in paradise with the promise of the serpent-bruiser immediately after the fall. It predominates in the patriarchal age, especially in the life of Abraham, whose piety has the corresponding character of trust and faith; and Moses, the lawgiver, was at the same time a prophet pointing the people to a greater successor.62  Without the comfort of the Messianic promise, the law must have driven the earnest soul to despair. From the time of Samuel, some eleven centuries before Christ, prophecy, hitherto sporadic, took an organized form in a permanent prophetical office and order. In this form it accompanied the Levitical priesthood and the Davidic dynasty down to the Babylonish captivity, survived this catastrophe, and directed the return of the people and the rebuilding of the temple; interpreting and applying the law, reproving abuses in church and state, predicting the terrible judgments and the redeeming grace of God, warning and punishing, comforting and encouraging, with an ever plainer reference to the coming Messiah, who should redeem Israel and the world from sin and misery, and establish a kingdom of peace and righteousness on earth.

The victorious reign of David and the peaceful reign of Solomon furnish, for Isaiah and his successors, the historical and typical ground for a prophetic picture of a far more glorious future, which, unless thus attached to living memories and present circumstances, could not have been understood. The subsequent catastrophe and the sufferings of the captivity served to develop the idea of a Messiah atoning for the sins of the people and entering through suffering into glory.

The prophetic was an extraordinary office, serving partly to complete, partly to correct the regular, hereditary priesthood, to prevent it from stiffening into monotonous formality, and keep it in living flow. The prophets were, so to speak, the Protestants of the ancient covenant, the ministers of the spirit and of immediate communion with God, in distinction from the ministers of the letter and of traditional and ceremonial mediation.

The flourishing period of our canonical prophecy began with the eighth century before Christ, some seven centuries after Moses, when Israel was suffering under Assyrian oppression. In this period before the captivity, Isaiah ("the salvation of God"), who appeared in the last years of king Uzziah, about ten years before the founding of Rome, is the leading figure; and around him Micah, Joel, and Obadiah in the kingdom of Judah, and Hosea, Amos, and Jonah in the kingdom of Israel, are grouped. Isaiah reached the highest elevation of prophecy, and unfolds feature by feature a picture of the Messiah—springing from the house of David, preaching the glad tidings to the poor, healing the broken-hearted, opening the eyes to the blind, setting at liberty the captives, offering himself as a lamb to the slaughter, bearing the sins of the people, dying the just for the unjust, triumphing over death and ruling as king of peace over all nations—a picture which came to its complete fulfilment in one person, and one only, Jesus of Nazareth. He makes the nearest approach to the cross, and his book is the Gospel of the Old Testament. In the period of the Babylonian exile, Jeremiah (i.e. "the Lord casts down") stands chief. He is the prophet of sorrow, and yet of the new covenant of the Spirit. In his denunciations of priests and false prophets, his lamentations over Jerusalem, his holy grief, his bitter persecution he resembles the mission and life of Christ. He remained in the land of his fathers, and sang his lamentation on the ruins of Jerusalem; while Ezekiel warned the exiles on the river Chebar against false prophets and carnal hopes, urged them to repentance, and depicted the new Jerusalem and the revival of the dry bones of the people by the breath of God; and Daniel at the court of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon saw in the spirit the succession of the four empires and the final triumph of the eternal kingdom of the Son of Man. The prophets of the restoration are Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. With Malachi who lived to the time of Nehemiah, the Old Testament prophecy ceased, and Israel was left to himself four hundred years, to digest during this period of expectation the rich substance of that revelation, and to prepare the birth-place for the approaching redemption.

3. Immediately before the advent of the Messiah the whole Old Testament, the law and the prophets, Moses and Isaiah together, reappeared for a short season embodied in John the Baptist, and then in unrivalled humility disappeared as the red dawn in the splendor of the rising sun of the new covenant. This remarkable man, earnestly preaching repentance in the wilderness and laying the axe at the root of the tree, and at the same time comforting with prophecy, and pointing to the atoning Lamb of God, was indeed, as the immediate forerunner of the New Testament economy, and the personal friend of the heavenly Bridegroom, the greatest of them that were born of woman; yet in his official character as the representative of the ancient preparatory economy he stands lower than the least in that kingdom of Christ, which is infinitely more glorious than all its types and shadows in the past.

This is the Jewish religion, as it flowed from the fountain of divine revelation and lived in the true Israel, the spiritual children of Abraham, in John the Baptist, his parents and disciples, in the mother of Jesus, her kindred and friends, in the venerable Simeon, and the prophetess Anna, in Lazarus and his pious sisters, in the apostles and the first disciples, who embraced Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfiller of the law and the prophets, the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, and who were the first fruits of the Christian Church.


 § 11. Heathenism.




I. Sources.

The works of the Greek and Roman Classics from Homer to Virgil and the age of the Antonines.

The monuments of Antiquity.

The writings of the early Christian Apologists, especially Justin Martyr: Apologia I. and II.; Tertullian: Apologeticus; Minucius Felix: Octavius; Eusebius: Praeparatio Evangelica; and Augustine (d. 430): De Civitate Dei (the first ten books).


II. Later Works.

Is. Vossius: De theologia gentili et physiolog. Christ. Frcf. 1675, 2 vols.

Creuzer (d. 1858): Symbolik und Mythologie der alien Völker. Leipz. 3d ed, 1837 sqq. 3 vols.

Tholuck (d. 1877): Das Wesen und der sittliche Einfluss des Heidenthums, besonders unter den Griechen und Römern, mit Hinsicht auf das Christenthum. Berlin, 1823. In Neander’s Denkwürdigkeiten, vol. i. of the 1st ed. Afterwards separately printed. English translation by Emerson in, "Am. Bibl. Repository" for 1832.

Tzschirner (d. 1828): Der Fall des Heidenthums, ed. by Niedner. Leip, 1829, 1st vol.

O. Müller (d. 1840): Prolegomena zu einer wissenschaftl. Mythologie. Gött. 1825. Transl. into English by J. Leitch. Lond. 1844.

Hegel (d. 1831): Philosphie der Religion. Berl. 1837, 2 vols.

Stuhr: Allgem. Gesch. der Religionsformen der heidnischen Völker. Berl. 1836, 1837, 2 vols. (vol. 2d on the Hellenic Religion).

Hartung: Die Religion der Römer. Erl. 1836, 2 vols.

C. F. Nägelsbach: Homerische Theologie. Nürnb. 1840; 2d ed. 1861. The same: Die nach-homerische Theologie des Griechischen Volksglaubens bis auf Alexander. Nürnb. 1857 .

Sepp (R. C.): Das Heidenthum und dessen Bedeutung für das Christenthum. Regensb. 1853, 3 vols.

Wuttke: Geschichte des Heidenthums in Beziehung auf Religion, Wissen, Kunst, Sittlichkeit und Staatsleben. Bresl. 1852 sqq. 2 vols.

Schelling (d. 1854): Einleitung in die Philosophie der Mythologie. Stuttg. 1856; and Philosophie der Mythologie . Stuttg. 1857.

Maurice (d. 1872): The Religions of the World in their Relations to Christianity. Lond. 1854 (reprinted in Boston).

Trench: Hulsean Lectures for 1845–’46. No. 2: Christ the Desire of all Nations, or the Unconscious Prophecies of Heathendom (a commentary on the star of the wise men, Matt. ii.). Cambr. 4th ed. 1854 (also 1850).

L. Preller: Griechische Mythologie. Berlin, 1854, 3d ed. 1875, 2 vols. By the same; Römische Mythologie. Berlin, 1858; 3d ed., by Jordan, 1881–83, 2 vols.

M. W. Heffter: Griech. und Röm. Mythologie. Leipzig, 1854.

Döllinger: Heidenthum und Judenthum, quoted in § 8.

C. Schmidt: Essai historique sur la societé civil dans le monde romain et sur sa transformation par le christianisme. Paris, 1853.

C. G. Seibert: Griechenthum und Christenthum, oder der Vorhof des Schönen und das Heiligthum der Wahrheit. Barmen, 1857.

Fr. Fabri: Die Entstehung des Heidenthums und die Aufgabe der Heidenmission. Barmen, 1859.

W. E. Gladstone (the English statesman): Studies on Homer and Homeric Age. Oxf. 1858, 3 vols. (vol. ii. Olympus; or the Religion of the Homeric Age). The same: Juventus Mundi: the Gods and Men of the Heroic Age. 2d ed. Lond. 1870. (Embodies the results of the larger work, with several modifications in the ethnological and mythological portions.)

W. S. Tyler (Prof. in Amherst Coll., Mass.): The Theology of the Greek Poets. Boston, 1867.

B. F. Cocker: Christianity and Greek Philosophy; or the Relation between Reflective Thought in Greece and the Positive Teaching of Christ and his Apostles. N. York, 1870.

Edm. Spiess: Logos spermaticós. Parallelstellen zum N. Text. aus den Schriften der alten Griechen. Ein Beitrag zur christl. Apologetik und zur vergleichenden Religionsforschung. Leipz. 1871.

G. Boissier: La religion romaine d’Auguste aux Antonins. Paris, 1884, 2 vols.

J Reville: La religion à Rome sous les Sévères. Paris, 1886.

Comp. the histories of Greece by Thirlwall, Grote, and Curtius; the histories of Rome by Gibbon, Niebuhr, Arnold, Merivale, Schwegler, Ihne, Duruy (transl. from the French by W. J. Clarke), and Mommsen. Ranke’s Weltgeschichte. Th. iii. 1882. Schiller’s Gesch. der römischen Kaiserzeit. 1882.


Heathenism is religion in its wild growth on the soil of fallen human nature, a darkening of the original consciousness of God, a deification of the rational and irrational creature, and a corresponding corruption of the moral sense, giving the sanction of religion to natural and unnatural vices.63

Even the religion of Greece, which, as an artistic product of the imagination, has been justly styled the religion of beauty, is deformed by this moral distortion. It utterly lacks the true conception of sin and consequently the true conception of holiness. It regards sin, not as a perverseness of will and an offence against the gods, but as a folly of the understanding and an offence against men, often even proceeding from the gods themselves; for "Infatuation," or Moral Blindness (  [Ath), is a "daughter of Jove," and a goddess, though cast from Olympus, and the source of all mischief upon earth. Homer knows no devil, but he put, a devilish element into his deities. The Greek gods, and also the Roman gods, who were copied from the former, are mere men and women, in whom Homer and the popular faith saw and worshipped the weaknesses and vices of the Grecian character, as well as its virtues, in magnified forms. The gods are born, but never die. They have bodies and senses, like mortals, only in colossal proportions. They eat and drink, though only nectar and ambrosia. They are awake and fall asleep. They travel, but with the swiftness of thought. They mingle in battle. They cohabit with human beings, producing heroes or demigods. They are limited to time and space. Though sometimes honored with the attributes of omnipotence and omniscience, and called holy and just, yet they are subject to an iron fate (Moira), fall under delusion, and reproach each other with folly and crime. Their heavenly happiness is disturbed by all the troubles of earthly life. Even Zeus or Jupiter, the patriarch of the Olympian family, is cheated by his sister and wife Hera (Juno), with whom he had lived three hundred years in secret marriage before he proclaimed her his consort and queen of the gods, and is kept in ignorance of the events before Troy. He threatens his fellows with blows and death, and makes Olympus tremble when he shakes his locks in anger. The gentle Aphrodite or Venus bleeds from a spear-wound on her finger. Mars is felled with a stone by Diomedes. Neptune and Apollo have to serve for hire and are cheated. Hephaestus limps and provokes an uproarious laughter. The gods are involved by their marriages in perpetual jealousies and quarrels. They are full of envy and wrath, hatred and lust prompt men to crime, and provoke each other to lying, and cruelty, perjury and adultery. The Iliad and Odyssey, the most popular poems of the Hellenic genius, are a chronique scandaleuse of the gods. Hence Plato banished them from his ideal Republic. Pindar, Aeschylus, and Sophocles also rose to loftier ideas of the gods and breathed a purer moral atmosphere; but they represented the exceptional creed of a few, while Homer expressed the popular belief. Truly we have no cause to long with Schiller for the return of the "gods of Greece," but would rather join the poet in his joyful thanksgiving:


"Einen zu bereichern unter allen,

Musste diese Götterwelt vergehen."


Notwithstanding this essential apostasy from truth and holiness, heathenism was religion, a groping after "the unknown God." By its superstition it betrayed the need of faith. Its polytheism rested on a dim monotheistic background; it subjected all the gods to Jupiter, and Jupiter himself to a mysterious fate. It had at bottom the feeling of dependence on higher powers and reverence for divine things. It preserved the memory of a golden age and of a fall. It had the voice of conscience, and a sense, obscure though it was, of guilt. It felt the need of reconciliation with deity, and sought that reconciliation by prayer, penance, and sacrifice. Many of its religious traditions and usages were faint echoes of the primal religion; and its mythological dreams of the mingling of the gods with men, of demigods, of Prometheus delivered by Hercules from his helpless sufferings, were unconscious prophecies and fleshly anticipations of Christian truths.

This alone explains the great readiness with which heathens embraced the gospel, to the shame of the Jews.64

There was a spiritual Israel scattered throughout the heathen world, that never received the circumcision of the flesh, but the unseen circumcision of the heart by the hand of that Spirit which bloweth where it listeth, and is not bound to any human laws and to ordinary means. The Old Testament furnishes several examples of true piety outside of the visible communion with the Jewish church, in the persons of Melchisedec, the friend of Abraham, the royal priest, the type of Christ; Jethro, the priest of Midian; Rahab, the Canaanite woman and hostess of Joshua and Caleb; Ruth, the Moabitess and ancestress of our Saviour; King Hiram, the friend of David; the queen of Sheba, who came to admire the wisdom of Solomon; Naaman the Syrian; and especially Job, the sublime sufferer, who rejoiced in the hope of his Redeemer.65

The elements of truth, morality, and piety scattered throughout ancient heathenism, may be ascribed to three sources. In the first place, man, even in his fallen state, retains some traces of the divine image, a knowledge of God,66 however weak, a moral sense or conscience,67 and a longing for union with the Godhead, for truth and for righteousness.68  In this view we may, with Tertullian, call the beautiful and true sentences of a Socrates, a Plato, an Aristotle, of Pindar, Sophocles, Cicero, Virgil, Seneca, Plutarch, "the testimonies of a soul constitutionally Christian,"69 of a nature predestined to Christianity. Secondly, some account must be made of traditions and recollections, however faint, coming down from the general primal revelations to Adam and Noah. But the third and most important source of the heathen anticipations of truth is the all-ruling providence of God, who has never left himself without a witness. Particularly must we consider, with the ancient Greek fathers, the influence of the divine Logos before his incarnation,70 who was the tutor of mankind, the original light of reason, shining in the darkness and lighting every man, the sower scattering in the soil of heathendom the seeds of truth, beauty, and virtue.71

The flower of paganism, with which we are concerned here, appears in the two great nations of classic antiquity, Greece and Rome. With the language, morality, literature, and religion of these nations, the apostles came directly into contact, and through the whole first age the church moves on the basis of these nationalities. These, together with the Jews, were the chosen nations of the ancient world, and shared the earth among them. The Jews were chosen for things eternal, to keep the sanctuary of the true religion. The Greeks prepared the elements of natural culture, of science and art, for the use of the church. The Romans developed the idea of law, and organized the civilized world in a universal empire, ready to serve the spiritual universality of the gospel. Both Greeks and Romans were unconscious servants of Jesus Christ, "the unknown God."

These three nations, by nature at bitter enmity among themselves, joined hands in the superscription on the cross, where the holy name and the royal title of the Redeemer stood written, by the command of the heathen Pilate, "in Hebrew and Greek and Latin."72


 § 12. Grecian Literature, and the Roman Empire.


The literature of the ancient Greeks and the universal empire of the Romans were, next to the Mosaic religion, the chief agents in preparing the world for Christianity. They furnished the human forms, in which the divine substance of the gospel, thoroughly prepared in the bosom of the Jewish theocracy, was moulded. They laid the natural foundation for the supernatural edifice of the kingdom of heaven. God endowed the Greeks and Romans with the richest natural gifts, that they might reach the highest civilization possible without the aid of Christianity, and thus both provide the instruments of human science, art, and law for the use of the church, and yet at the same time show the utter impotence of these alone to bless and save the world.

The Greeks, few in number, like the Jews, but vastly more important in history than the numberless hordes of the Asiatic empires, were called to the noble task of bringing out, under a sunny sky and with a clear mind, the idea of humanity in its natural vigor and beauty, but also in its natural imperfection. They developed the principles of science and art. They liberated the mind from the dark powers of nature and the gloomy broodings of the eastern mysticism. They rose to the clear and free consciousness of manhood, boldly investigated the laws of nature and of spirit, and carried out the idea of beauty in all sorts of artistic forms. In poetry, sculpture, architecture, painting, philosophy, rhetoric, historiography, they left true masterpieces, which are to this day admired and studied as models of form and taste.

All these works became truly valuable and useful only in the hands of the Christian church, to which they ultimately fell. Greece gave the apostles the most copious and beautiful language to express the divine truth of the Gospel, and Providence had long before so ordered political movements as to spread that language over the world and to make it the organ of civilization and international intercourse, as the Latin was in the middle ages, as the French was in the eighteenth century and as the English is coming to be in the nineteenth. "Greek," says Cicero, "is read in almost all nations; Latin is confined by its own narrow boundaries." Greek schoolmasters and artists followed the conquering legions of Rome to Gaul and Spain. The youthful hero Alexander the Great, a Macedonian indeed by birth, yet an enthusiastic admirer of Homer, an emulator of Achilles, a disciple of the philosophic world-conqueror, Aristotle, and thus the truest Greek of his age, conceived the sublime thought of making Babylon the seat of a Grecian empire of the world; and though his empire fell to pieces at his untimely death, yet it had already carried Greek letters to the borders of India, and made them a common possession of all civilized nations. What Alexander had begun Julius Caesar completed. Under the protection of the Roman law the apostles could travel everywhere and make themselves understood through the Greek language in every city of the Roman domain.

The Grecian philosophy, particularly the systems of Plato and Aristotle, formed the natural basis for scientific theology; Grecian eloquence, for sacred oratory; Grecian art, for that of the Christian church. Indeed, not a few ideas and maxims of the classics tread on the threshold of revelation and sound like prophecies of Christian truth; especially the spiritual soarings of Plato,73 the deep religious reflections of Plutarch,74 the sometimes almost Pauline moral precepts of Seneca.75  To many of the greatest church fathers, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and in some measure even to Augustine, Greek philosophy was a bridge to the Christian faith, a scientific schoolmaster leading them to Christ. Nay, the whole ancient Greek church rose on the foundation of the Greek language and nationality, and is inexplicable without them.

Here lies the real reason why the classical literature is to this day made the basis of liberal education throughout the Christian world. Youth are introduced to the elementary forms of science and art, to models of clear, tasteful style, and to self-made humanity at the summit of intellectual and artistic culture, and thus they are at the same time trained to the scientific apprehension of the Christian religion, which appeared when the development of Greek and Roman civilization had reached its culmination and began already to decay. The Greek and Latin languages, as the Sanskrit and Hebrew, died in their youth and were embalmed and preserved from decay in the immortal works of the classics. They still furnish the best scientific terms for every branch of learning and art and every new invention. The primitive records of Christianity have been protected against the uncertainties of interpretation incident upon the constant changes of a living language.

But aside from the permanent value of the Grecian literature, the glory of its native land had, at the birth of Christ, already irrecoverably departed. Civil liberty and independence had been destroyed by internal discord and corruption. Philosophy had run down into skepticism and refined materialism. Art had been degraded to the service of levity and sensuality. Infidelity or superstition had supplanted sound religious sentiment. Dishonesty and licentiousness reigned among high and low.

This hopeless state of things could not but impress the more earnest and noble souls with the emptiness of all science and art, and the utter insufficiency of this natural culture to meet the deeper wants of the heart. It must fill them with longings for a new religion.

The Romans were the practical and political nation of antiquity. Their calling was to carry out the idea of the state and of civil law, and to unite the nations of the world in a colossal empire, stretching from the Euphrates to the Atlantic, and from the Libyan desert to the banks of the Rhine. This empire embraced the most fertile and civilized countries of Asia, Africa, and Europe, and about one hundred millions of human beings, perhaps one-third of the whole race at the time of the introduction of Christianity.76  To this outward extent corresponds its historical significance. The history of every ancient nation ends, says Niebuhr, as the history of every modern nation begins, in that of Rome. Its history has therefore a universal interest; it is a vast storehouse of the legacies of antiquity. If the Greeks had, of all nations, the deepest mind, and in literature even gave laws to their conquerors, the Romans had the strongest character, and were born to rule the world without. This difference of course reached even into the moral and religious life of the two nations. Was the Greek, mythology the work of artistic fantasy and a religion of poesy, so was the Roman the work of calculation adapted to state purposes, political and utilitarian, but at the same time solemn, earnest, and energetic. "The Romans had no love of beauty, like the Greeks. They held no communion with nature, like the Germans. Their one idea was Rome—not ancient, fabulous, poetical Rome, but Rome warring and conquering; and orbis terrarum domina. S. P. Q. R. is inscribed on almost every page of their literature."77

The Romans from the first believed themselves called to govern the world. They looked upon all foreigners—not as barbarians, like the cultured Greeks, but—as enemies to be conquered and reduced to servitude. War and triumph were their highest conception of human glory and happiness. The "Tu, regere imperio populos, Romane, memento!"had been their motto, in fact, long before Virgil thus gave it form. The very name of the urbs aeterna, and the characteristic legend of its founding, prophesied its future. In their greatest straits the Romans never for a moment despaired of the commonwealth. With vast energy, profound policy, unwavering consistency, and wolf-like rapacity, they pursued their ambitious schemes, and became indeed the lords, but also, as their greatest historian, Tacitus, says, the insatiable robbers of the world.78

Having conquered the world by the sword, they organized it by law, before whose majesty every people had to bow, and beautified it by the arts of peace. Philosophy, eloquence, history, and poetry enjoyed a golden age under the setting sun of the republic and the rising sun of the empire, and extended their civilizing influence to the borders of barbarianism. Although not creative in letters and fine arts, the Roman authors were successful imitators of Greek philosophers, orators, historians, and poets. Rome was converted by Augustus from a city of brick huts into a city of marble palaces.79  The finest paintings and sculptures were imported from Greece, triumphal arches and columns were erected on public places, and the treasures of all parts of the world were made tributary to, the pride, beauty, and luxury of the capital. The provinces caught the spirit of improvement, populous cities sprung up, and the magnificent temple of Jerusalem was rebuilt by the ambitious extravagance of Herod. The rights of persons and property were well protected. The conquered nations, though often and justly complaining of the rapacity of provincial governors, yet, on the whole, enjoyed greater security against domestic feuds and foreign invasion, a larger share of social comfort, and rose to a higher degree of secular civilization. The ends of the empire were brought into military, commercial, and literary communication by carefully constructed roads, the traces of which still exist in Syria, on the Alps, on the banks of the Rhine. The facilities and security of travel were greater in the reign of the Caesars than in any subsequent period before the nineteenth century. Five main lines went out from Rome to the extremities of the empire, and were connected at seaports with maritime routes. "We may travel," says a Roman writer, "at all hours, and sail from east to west." Merchants brought diamonds from the East, ambers from the shores of the Baltic, precious metals from Spain, wild animals from Africa, works of art from Greece, and every article of luxury, to the market on the banks of the Tiber, as they now do to the banks of the Thames. The Apocalyptic seer, in his prophetic picture of the downfall of the imperial mistress of the world, gives prominence to her vast commerce: "And the merchants of the earth," he says, "weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stone, and pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet; and all thine wood, and every vessel of ivory, and every vessel made of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble; and cinnamon, and spice, and incense, and ointment, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and cattle, and sheep; and merchandise of horses and chariots and slaves; and souls of men. And the fruits that thy soul desired are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and sumptuous are perished from thee, and men shall find them no more at all."80

Heathen Rome lived a good while after this prediction, but, the causes of decay were already at work in the first century. The immense extension and outward prosperity brought with it a diminution of those domestic and civil virtues which at first so highly distinguished the Romans above the Greeks. The race of patriots and deliverers, who came from their ploughs to the public service, and humbly returned again to the plough or the kitchen, was extinct. Their worship of the gods, which was the root of their virtue, had sunk to mere form, running either into the most absurd superstitions, or giving place to unbelief, till the very priests laughed each other in the face when they met in the street. Not unfrequently we find unbelief and superstition united in the same persons, according to the maxim that all extremes touch each other. Man must believe something, and worship either God or the devil.81  Magicians and necromancers abounded, and were liberally patronized. The ancient simplicity and contentment were exchanged for boundless avarice and prodigality. Morality and chastity, so beautifully symbolized in the household ministry of the virgin Vesta, yielded to vice and debauchery. Amusement came to be sought in barbarous fights of beasts and gladiators, which not rarely consumed twenty thousand human lives in a single month. The lower classes had lost all nobler feeling, cared for nothing but "panem et circenses," and made the proud imperial city on the Tiber a slave of slaves. The huge empire of Tiberius and of Nero was but a giant body without a soul, going, with steps slow but sure, to final dissolution. Some of the emperors were fiendish tyrants and monsters of iniquity; and yet they were enthroned among the gods by a vote of the Senate, and altars and temples were erected for their worship. This characteristic custom began with Caesar, who even during his lifetime was honored as "Divus Julius" for his brilliant victories, although they cost more than a million of lives slain and another million made captives and slaves.82  The dark picture which St. Paul, in addressing the Romans, draws of the heathenism of his day, is fully sustained by Seneca, Tacitus, Juvenal, Persius, and other heathen writers of that age, and shows the absolute need of redemption. "The world," says Seneca, in a famous passage, "is full of crimes and vices. More are committed than can be cured by force. There is an immense struggle for iniquity. Crimes are no longer bidden, but open before the eyes. Innocence is not only rare, but nowhere."83  Thus far the negative. On the other hand, the universal empire of Rome was a positive groundwork for the universal empire of the gospel. It served as a crucible, in which all contradictory and irreconcilable peculiarities of the ancient nations and religions were dissolved into the chaos of a new creation. The Roman legions razed the partition-walls among the ancient nations, brought the extremes of the civilized world together in free intercourse, and united north and south and east and west in the bonds of a common language and culture, of common laws and customs. Thus they evidently, though unconsciously, opened the way for the rapid and general spread of that religion which unites all nations in one family of God by the spiritual bond of faith and love.

The idea of a common humanity, which underlies all the distinctions of race, society and education, began to dawn in the heathen mind, and found expression in the famous line of Terentius, which was received with applause in the theatre:

"Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto."

This spirit of humanity breathes in Cicero and Virgil. Hence the veneration paid to the poet of the Aeneid by the fathers and throughout the middle ages. Augustine calls him the noblest of poets, and Dante, "the glory and light of other poets," and "his master," who guided him through the regions of hell and purgatory to the very gates of Paradise. It was believed that in his fourth Eclogue he had prophesied the advent of Christ. This interpretation is erroneous; but "there is in Virgil," says an accomplished scholar,84 "a vein of thought and sentiment more devout, more humane, more akin to the Christian than is to be found in any other ancient poet, whether Greek or Roman. He was a spirit prepared and waiting, though he knew it not, for some better thing to be revealed."

The civil laws and institutions, also, and the great administrative wisdom of Rome did much for the outward organization of the Christian church. As the Greek church rose on the basis of the Grecian nationality, so the Latin church rose on that of ancient Rome, and reproduced in higher forms both its virtues and its defects. Roman Catholicism is pagan Rome baptized, a Christian reproduction of the universal empire seated of old in the city of the seven hills.


 § 13. Judaism and Heathenism in Contact.


The Roman empire, though directly establishing no more than an outward political union, still promoted indirectly a mutual intellectual and moral approach of the hostile religious of the Jews and Gentiles, who were to be reconciled in one divine brotherhood by the supernatural power of the cross of Christ.

1. The Jews, since the Babylonish captivity, had been scattered over all the world. They were as ubiquitous in the Roman empire in the first century as they are now throughout, Christendom. According to Josephus and Strabo, there was no country where they did not make up a part of the population.85   Among the witnesses of the miracle of Pentecost were "Jews from every nation under heaven ... Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and the dwellers of Mesopotamia, in Judaea and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, in Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and sojourners from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians."86   In spite of the antipathy of the Gentiles, they had, by talent and industry, risen to wealth, influence, and every privilege, and had built their synagogues in all the commercial cities of the Roman empire. Pompey brought a considerable number of Jewish captives from Jerusalem to the capital (b.c. 63), and settled them on the right bank of the Tiber (Trastevere). By establishing this community he furnished, without knowing it, the chief material for the Roman church. Julius Caesar was the great protector of the Jews; and they showed their gratitude by collecting for many nights to lament his death on the forum where his murdered body was burnt on a funeral pile.87  He granted them the liberty of public worship, and thus gave them a legal status as a religious society. Augustus confirmed these privileges. Under his reign they were numbered already by thousands in the city. A reaction followed; Tiberius and Claudius expelled them from Rome; but they soon returned, and succeeded in securing the free exercise of their rites and customs. The frequent satirical allusions to them prove their influence as well as the aversion and contempt in which they were held by the Romans. Their petitions reached the ear of Nero through his wife Poppaea, who seems to have inclined to their faith; and Josephus, their most distinguished scholar, enjoyed the favor of three emperors—Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. In the language of Seneca (as quoted by Augustin) "the conquered Jews gave laws to their Roman conquerors."

By this dispersion of the Jews the seeds of the knowledge of the true God and the Messianic hope were sown in the field of the idolatrous world. The Old Testament Scriptures were translated into Greek two centuries before Christ, and were read and expounded in the public worship of God, which was open to all. Every synagogue was a mission-station of monotheism, and furnished the apostles an admirable place and a natural introduction for their preaching of Jesus Christ as the fulfiller of the law and the prophets.

Then, as the heathen religious had been hopelessly undermined by skeptical philosophy and popular infidelity, many earnest Gentiles especially multitudes of women, came over to Judaism either, wholly or in part. The thorough converts, called "proselytes of righteousness,"88 were commonly still more bigoted and fanatical than the native Jews. The half-converts, "proselytes of the gate"89 or "fearers of God,"90 who adopted only the monotheism, the principal moral laws, and the Messianic hopes of the Jews, without being circumcised, appear in the New Testament as the most susceptible hearers of the gospel, and formed the nucleus of many of the first Christian churches. Of this class were the centurion of Capernaum, Cornelius of Caesarea, Lydia of Philippi, Timothy, and many other prominent disciples.

2. On the other hand, the Graeco-Roman heathenism, through its language, philosophy, and literature, exerted no inconsiderable influence to soften the fanatical bigotry of the higher and more cultivated classes of the Jews. Generally the Jews of the dispersion, who spoke the Greek language—the "Hellenists," as they were called—were much more liberal than the proper "Hebrews," or Palestinian Jews, who kept their mother tongue. This is evident in the Gentile missionaries, Barnabas of Cyprus and Paul of Tarsus, and in the whole church of Antioch, in contrast with that at Jerusalem. The Hellenistic form of Christianity was the natural bridge to the Gentile.

The most remarkable example of a transitional, though very fantastic and Gnostic-like combination of Jewish and heathen elements meets us in the educated circles of the Egyptian metropolis, Alexandria, and in the system of Philo, who was born about b.c. 20, and lived till after a.d. 40, though he never came in contact with Christ or the apostles. This Jewish, divine sought to harmonize the religion of Moses with the philosophy of Plato by the help of an ingenious but arbitrary allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament; and from the books of Proverbs and of Wisdom he deduced a doctrine of the Logos so strikingly like that of John’s Gospel, that many expositors think it necessary to impute to the apostle an acquaintance with the writings, or at least with the terminology of Philo. But Philo’s speculation is to the apostle’s "Word made flesh" as a shadow to the body, or a dream to the reality. He leaves no room for an incarnation, but the coincidence of his speculation with the great fact is very remarkable.91

The Therapeutae or Worshippers, a mystic and ascetic sect in Egypt, akin to the Essenes in Judaea, carried this Platonic Judaism into practical life; but were, of course, equally unsuccessful in uniting the two religions in a vital and permanent way. Such a union could only be effected by a new religion revealed from heaven.92

Quite independent of the philosophical Judaism of Alexandria were the Samaritans, a mixed race, which also  combined, though in a different way, the elements of Jewish and Gentile religion.93  They date from the period of the exile. They held to the Pentateuch, to circumcision, and to carnal Messianic hopes; but they had a temple of their own on Mount Gerizim, and mortally hated the proper Jews. Among these Christianity, as would appear from the interview of Jesus with the woman of Samaria,94 and the preaching of Philip,95 found ready access, but, as among the Essenes and Therapeutae fell easily into a heretical form. Simon Magus, for example, and some other Samaritan arch-heretics, are represented by the early Christian writers as the principal originators of Gnosticism.

3. Thus was the way for Christianity prepared on every side, positively and negatively, directly and indirectly, in theory and in practice, by truth and by error, by false belief and by unbelief—those hostile brothers, which yet cannot live apart—by Jewish religion, by Grecian culture, and by Roman conquest; by the vainly attempted amalgamation of Jewish and heathen thought, by the exposed impotence of natural civilization, philosophy, art, and political power, by the decay of the old religions, by the universal distraction and hopeless misery of the age, and by the yearnings of all earnest and noble souls for the religion of salvation.

"In the fulness of the time," when the fairest flowers of science and art had withered, and the world was on the verge of despair, the Virgin’s Son was born to heal the infirmities of mankind. Christ entered a dying world as the author of a new and imperishable life.



* Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998.

45  Mark 1:15; Gal. 4:4

46  Gen. 3:15

47  John 1:5; Rom 1:19, 20; 2:14, 15.

48  Acts 14:16.

49  Acts 17:26, 27.

50  Luke 15:11-32.

51  Acts 17:23.

52  St. Augustine, Conf. II . 1: "Fecisti nos ad Te, et inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in Te."

53  John 4:22. Comp. Luke 24:47; Rom. 9:4, 5.

54  Geschichte du Volkes Israel, Vol. I. p. 9 (3d ed.).

55  From  vr'P; . They were separated from ordinary persons and all foreign and contaminating influences by the supposed correctness of their creed and the superior holiness of their life. Ewald (IV. 482): "Pharisäer bezeichnet Gesonderteoder Besondere, nämlich Leute die vor andern durch Frömmigkeit auszgezeichnet und gleichsam mehr oder heiliger als andere sein wollen.

56  So called either from their supposed founder, Zadoc (so Ewald, IV. 358), or from  qyDix', "just."

57  The name is variously written (jEsshnoiv, jEssaiÀoi, jOssai'oi) and derived from proper names, or from the Greek, or from the Hebrew and Aramaic The most plausible derivations are from dysh, o{sio", holy; from ayba, physician (comp. the corresponding term of Philo, qerapeuthv", which, however, means worshipper, devotee); from ayzj, seer; from the rabbinical wZj, watchman, keeper (Ewald, formerly); from jva, to be silent (Jost, Lightfoot); from the Syriac chasi or chasyo, pious, which is of the same root with the Hebrew chasid, chasidim (De Sacy, Ewald, IV. 484, 3rd., and Hitzig). See Schürer, N. T. Zeitgesch. pp. 599 sqq., and Lightfoot’s instructive Excursus on the Essenes and the Colossian heresy, in Com. on Coloss. (1875), pp. 73, 114-179. Lightfoot again refutes the exploded derivation of Christianity from Essenic sources.

58  Rom. 3:20: Dia; novmou ejpivgnwsi" aJmartia".

59  Paidagwgo;" eij" Cristovn

60  Gal. 3:24

61  Novmo" parteishÀlqencame in besides, was added as an accessory arrangement, Rom. 5:20; comp. prosetevqh the law was " superadded"to the promise given to Abraham, Gal 3:19.

62  Deut. 18:15.

63  Comp. Paul’s picture of heathen immorality, Rom. 1:19-32

64  Comp. Matt. 8:10; 15:28. Luke 7:9. Acts 10:35.

65  Even Augustine, exclusive as he was, adduces the case of Job in proof of the assertion that the kingdom of God under the Old dispensation was not confined to the Jews, and then adds: "Divinitus autem provisum fuisse non dubito, ut ex hoc uno sciremus, etiam per alias gentes esse potuisse, qui secundum Deum vixerunt, eique placuerunt, pertinentes ad spiritualem Hierusalem." De Civit. Dei, xviii. 47.

66  Rom. 1:19, to; gnwsto;ntouÀ qeou'. Comp, my annotations on Lange in loc.

67  Rom. 2:14, 15. Comp. Lange in loc.

68  Comp. Acts 17:3, 27, 28, and my remarks on the altar to the qeo;" a[gnwsto" in the History of the Apost. Church. § 73, p. 269 sqq.

69  Testimonia animae naturaliter Christianae.

70  Lovgo" a[sarko" , Lovgo" spermatikov".

71  Comp. John 1:4, 5, 9, 10.

72  John 19:20.

73  Compare C. Ackermann, The Christian Element in Plato and the Platonic Philosophy, 1835, transl. from the German by S. R. Asbury, with an introductory note by Dr. Shedd. Edinburgh, 1861.

74  As in his excellent trestise: De sera numinis vindicta. It is strange that this philosopher, whose moral sentiments come nearest to Christianity, never alludes to it. Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius do mention it, but only once.

75  On the relation of Paul and Seneca comp. an elaborate dissertation of Bishop Lightfoot in his Commentary on the Philippians, pp. 268-331 (3d ed. 1873).

76  Charles Marivale, in his History of the Romans under the Empire (Lond. 1856), Vol. iv. p. 450 and 451, estimates the population of the Roman empire in the age of Augustus at 85 millions, namely, 40 millions for Europe, 28 millions for Asia, and 17 millions for Africa, but he does not include Palestine. Greswell and others raise the estimate of the whole population to 120 millions.

77  Hare Guesses at Truth, p. 432 (Lond. ed. 1867).

78  Raptores orbis, quos non oriens, non occidens satiaverit."

79  So the nephew of the modern Caesar transformed Parisinto a city of straight and broad streets and magnificent palaces.

80  Rev. 18:11-14.

81  "Unbelief and superstition, different hues of the same historical phenomenon, went in the Roman world of that day hand in hand, and there was no lack of individuals who in themselves combined both-who denied the gods with Epicurus, and yet prayed and sacrificed before every shrine." Theod. Mommsen, History of Rome. transl. by Dickson, Lond. 1867, vol. iv. p. 560.

82  "In the excess of their adoration, the Roman Senate desired even to place his image in the Temple of Quirinus himself, with an inscription to him as qeo;" ajnivkto", the invincible God. Golden chairs, gilt chariots, triumphal robes, were piled one upon another, with laurelled fasces and laurelled wreaths. His birthday was made a perpetual holiday, and the mouth Quinctilis was renamed, in honor of him, July. A temple to Concord was to be erected in commemoration of his clemency. His person was declared sacred and to injure him by word or deed was to be counted sacrilege. The Fortune of Caesar was introduced into the constitutional oath, and the Senate took a solemn pledge to maintain his acts inviolate. Finally, they arrived at a conclusion that he was not a man at all; no longer Caius Julius, but Divus Julius, a God or the Son of God. A temple was to be built to Caesar as another Quirinus, and Antony was to be his priest." J. A. Froude, Caesar (1879), Ch. XXVI. p. 491. The insincerity of these adulations shortly before the senatorial conspiracy makes them all the worse. "One obsequious senator proposed that every woman in Rome should be at the disposition of Caesar." Ibid., p 492.

83  De Ira, II. 8.

84  Principal Shairp, in an article on "Virgil as a Precursor of Christianity," in the "Princeton Review" for Sept., 1879, pp. 403-420. Comp. the learned essay of Professor Piper, in Berlin, on "Virgil als Theologe und Prophet," in his "Evang. Kalender" for 1862.

85  Jos., Bell. Jud., VII. c. 3, § 3: "As the Jewish nation is widely dispersed over all the habitable earth," etc. Antiqu., XIV. 7, 2: "Let no one wonder that there was so much wealth in our temple, since all the Jews throughout the habitable earth, and those that worship God, nay, even those of Asia and Europe, sent their contributions to it." Then, quoting from Strabo, he says: "These Jews are already gotten into all cities, and it is hard to, find a place in the habitable earth that has not admitted this tribe of men, and is not possessed by it; and it has come to pass that Egypt and Cyrene and a great number of other nations imitate their way of living, and maintain great bodies of these Jews in a peculiar manner, and grow up to greater prosperity with them, and make use also of the same laws with that nation."

86  Acts 2:5, 9-11.

87  Sueton., Caes., c. 84.

88  qr,x,h' yrEgE.

89  r['v'h yreg«. Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:14.

90  oiJ eujsebeiÀ" oij fobouvmenoi to;n qeovn, Acts 10:2; 13:16, etc., and Josephus.

91  The system of Philo has been very thoroughly investigated, both independently, and in connection with John’s Logos-doctrine by Grossmann (1829). Gfrörer (1831), Dähne (1834), Lücke, Baur, Zeller, Dorner, Ueberweg, Ewald, J. G. Müller (Die Messian. Erwartungen des Juden Philo, Basel, 1870), Keim, Lipsius, Hausrath, Schürer, etc. See the literature in Schürer, N. T. Zeitgesch., p. 648.

92  P. E. Lucius: Die Therapeuten und ihre Stellung in der Geschichte der Askese. Strassburg, 1880.

93  A remnant of the Samaritans (about 140 souls) still live in Nablous, the ancient Shechem, occupy a special quarter, have a synagogue of their own, with a very ancient copy of the Pentateuch, and celebrate annually on the top of Mount Gerizim the Jewish Passover, Pentecost, and Feast of Tabernacles. It is the only spot on earth where the paschal sacrifice is perpetuated according to the Mosaic prescription in the twelfth chapter of Exodus. See Schaff, Through Bible Lands (N.York and Lond. 1878), pp. 314 sqq. and Hausrath, l.c. I. 17 sqq.

94  John 4.

95  Acts 8.