To call such a story a myth, is simply to shirk the odium of calling it by its right name, or more probably to avoid having to meet the astounding historical difficulty of supposing that men endured what the Apostles endured for what they must have known to have been a falsehood, and the still more astounding difficulty that One Whom the author of “Supernatural Religion” allows to have been a Teacher Who “carried morality to the sublimest point attained or even attainable by humanity,” and Whose “life, as far as we can estimate it, was uniformly noble and consistent with his lofty principles,” should have impressed a character of such deep-rooted fraud and falsehood on His most intimate friends.
The author of “Supernatural Religion” has, however, added another to the many proofs of the truth of the Gospel. In his elaborate book of 1,000 pages of attack on the authenticity of the Evangelists he has shown, with a clearness which, I think, has never been before realized, the great fact that from the first there has been but one account of Jesus Christ. In the writings of heathens, of Jews, of heretics, [199:1] in lost gospels, in contemporary accounts, in the earliest traditions of the Church, there appears but one account, the account called by its first proclaimers the Gospel; and the only explanation of the existence of this Gospel is its truth.
[3:1] Papias, for instance, actually mentions St. Mark by name as writing a gospel under the influence of St. Peter. The author of “Supernatural Religion” devotes ten pages to an attempt to prove that this St. Mark’s Gospel could not be ours. (Vol. i. pp. 448-459.)
[6:1] I need hardly say that I myself hold the genuineness of the Greek recension. The reader who desires to see the false reasonings and groundless assumptions of the author of “Supernatural Religion” respecting the Ignatian epistles thoroughly exposed should read Professor Lightfoot’s article in the “Contemporary Review” of February, 1875. In pages 341-345 of this article there is an examination of the nature and trustworthiness of the learning displayed in the footnotes of this pretentious book, which is particularly valuable. I am glad to see that the professor has modified, in this article, the expression of his former opinion that the excerpta called the Curetonian recension is to be regarded as the only genuine one. “Elsewhere,” the professor writes (referring to an essay in his commentary on the Philippians), “I had acquiesced in the earlier opinion of Lipsius, who ascribed them (i.e., the Greek or Vossian recension) to an interpolator writing about A.D. 140. Now, however, I am obliged to confess that I have grave and increasing doubts whether, after all, they are not the genuine utterances of Ignatius himself.”
[10:1] [Greek: Ou gar monon en Hellesi dia Sokratous hypo logou elenchthe tauta, alla kai en Barbarois hyp’ autou tou Logou morphothentos kai anthropou genomenou kai Iesou Christou klethentous.]