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chapter is worthy of being quoted, but our space forbids even an analysis of it. We cannot refrain, however, from presenting our readers with the following extract:
“History does not present us with a single instance of an individual who has created a religion essentially new, or who has succeeded in extensively modify. ing the old. We pass over the question of the origin of Christianity as the direct subject of debate. Mohammedanism is the work of an individual, but it was evolved out of systems actually existing. It is no new creation. We can without difficulty ascertain its component parts and their relation to the past. It is exactly fitted to the state of the Arabian mind when it originated, and grew out of its idealization. Of every element not Arabian we can distinctly point out whence it came. The history of Mohammedanism is very important for our purpose, because its origin is not matter of speculation, but an historic fact. It proves that the professed author of a fresh revelation cannot disconnect himself either from the present or the past. All which he is able to effect is to exhibit existing materials in new combinations. He is surrounded by a moral and spiritual environment which binds him fast, and prevents him from being the creator of a new system of thought and feeling. The prophet's religion was an embodiment of the conceptions of his countrymen, enlarged by the introduç. tion of such foreign elements as had been for a considerable period working in the national mind. ... The different systems of historical Christianity have been the result of gradual growths. They have never been produced at once in their perfection. They have advanced throngh a succession of stages of devel. opment. They have required long intervals of time for their elaboration. Nicene Christianity took three centuries in completely evolving itself out of A postolic Christianity. The full conception of the Theocratic church of the Middle Ages required even a longer period for its development. Christianity in its present forms has taken another three centuries to evolve itself out of that of the Reformation. Yet it will be hardly pretended that as large an interval separates either of them from the other, as that which lies between the most advanced form of Judaism, which was in existence at the advent, and the full conception of the Jesus of the Evangelists. If the progress of religious developments has been gradual, that of morality has been still more so. The powers of the im. agination aid the former, but produce but little influence on the latter. The morality of eachi succeeding generation is bound to that of the past by the strongest bond of continuity. History presents us with no great moral reformer who has succeeded in stamping a new morality on his age and nation, and scarcely with one who has recalled it to an older and better type. Nor does she exhibit to us instances of individuals who have elevated themselves to a state of morality far above the atmosphere which they have breathed. She testifies to the fact that all progress in the moral world of an advancing character is effected by a succession of very gradual stages, although the movements in the direction of deterioration have bee far more rapid. Even when higher types of morality have been introduced from external sources, although the general conscience may have recognized their superiority, the previous moral conditions have retained their hold.”
We have now taken a brief view of the argument on which · the author has bestowed the most labor. The law which the Creator has imposed on the human mind as the law of its action and progress would render necessary, in order to the developinent of the portraiture of the Evangelical Christ, out of the previously existing state of Jewish thought, a period of time, in comparison with which the time which the mythologists really had at their command was an infinitesimal quantity. He truly says, that “ physical speculators stand in a far more favorable position than the advocates of the unhistorical character of the Gospels do, for imparting to their theories an appearance of probability. It' they wish to elaborate a man out of an ape, or a piece of sponge, an interval of one hundred million years may easily be conceded to them, or, if necessary, the period may be multiplied indefinitely." The proof is complete, and its force impresses the reader much more than would be supposed, froin the account which we have given of it. It occupies seven chapters of the book, the titles of which we have already given. Together with the last four they furnish a valuable thesaurus of Messianic arguinent. The subjects treated in the last four chapters are as follows: "The limits of the period which anthentic history assigns as that during which the conception of the mythical Christ must have been created and developed in its fulness;" “ The evidence afforded by the Epistles for the early existence of the portraiture of the Christ ;"* " The nature and character of the mythic Gospels ;" “ Features of the Gospels which are inconsistent with the supposition of their unhistorical character.”
In the first five chapters of the volume the author, as has been seen, examines the Evangelical portraiture of the Christ, just as it is, in its completed state, and assuming that so much of it as is supernatural is a pure invention, he pointed out the
* We have already alluded to the argument of this admirable chapter in a former part of this article. Professor Fisher, of Yale College Theological Seminary, in the Introduction to the new edition of his " Essays on the Supernatural Origin of Christianity,” refers to it as satisfactorily showing that some of the Pauline Epistles presuppose a character and work accordant with what the Gospels relate of Jesus
insurmountable difficulties (in view of the problems which would have had to be solved) which must have encircled those persons who were engaged in its creation. In the two chapters, the fourteenth and fifteenth, entitled, “The Jesus of the Gospels no mythical creation," and "The moral aspects of our Lord's character an historical reality,” he reverses the process. Supposing the mythologists to be about to commence their work, he begins with them, accompanying them closely in all their way as they proceed, and fixes the attention of his readers on the tremendous obstacles which must impede their progress at every step. Nothing can be more dispassionate, more careful, nor more searching than the reasoning of these two chapters, which, together, occupy nearly sixty pages of the book. And some of the paragraphs have a special interest for the contemplative mind which takes delight in reflecting upon the majesty and beauty of our Lord's character. But of the contents of these chapters, as well as of those of the last four alluded to, we must omit all notice. We will conclude our article by briefly considering the argument of the twelfth chapter, entitled, “ The portraiture of Christ, as it is depicted by the four Evangelists, constitutes an essential unity.”
In this chapter he proves its historical character from the fact of this unity. Mr. Row is of opinion that the numerous instances of diversity and agreement in three of the Evangelical narratives prove that they are the work of many minds. He believes that the Synoptic Gospels which are so remarkably characterized by these phenomena underwent a considerable amount of oral transmission, or in other words, that there was at first an oral Gospel for a considerable length of time; that parts of this oral Gospel were then reduced to writing ; and that of this Gospel which was partly oral and partly had been reduced to writing, the Synoptics are three different reports. During the moderately long period in which the Gos. pel was in an oral form, a large number of distinct human personalities and human agencies were employed in its transmission, and in this way the Synopties came to be the work of many persons. He strenuously maintains that this is the only explanation of the singular discrepancies which we discover in
the different Evangelists, united, as they frequently are, with the closest verbal agreements. The variations were introduced in the course of the transmission. “The vast amount of diversity,” he says, “which our Gospels present us with, both in their form and aspect, constitutes a proof which is absolutely irresistible, that they are the work of a multiplicity of minds. No single mind, nor even sereral minds, could have constructed four histories, which could have contained the agreements and disagreements, the samenesses and variations, which are presented by our Gospels.” *
The argument then is, that if we find that the portraiture of the Jesus is a perfect unity in all the aspects in which it is depicted, then, inasmuch as it is the work of a multiplicity of minds acting without concert, this unity proves the truthfulness of the portraiture, or that it is the portraiture of one who had an historical existence. Under such circumstances, the assumption of its truthfulness is absolutely necessary to account for its oneness, whereas its oneness cannot possibly be explained if a multitude of men working without concert invented it. The advocates of the mythic theory as to the origin of the portrait, also postulate a multitude of persons for its production, but they have no way of explaining its unity, for they dery its truthfulness. They may indeed contend that there was no unity in the various conceptions of the original portrayers of the Evangelical Christ but on the contrary irreconcilable diversities, and they may insinuate that when the four Evangelists undertook to write their narratives they effaced the diversities and imparted to the Jesus a certain degree of unity. But the answer to this is, that the unity underlying all and the minutest portions of the narratives is of such a character as to show that it was inherent in the numerous fictions out of which the Gospels were composed, and if this was the case they were not fictions.
As, then, the nature of Mr. Row's argument in this chapter
* In the October number of this Review, for 1848, there is a very interesting article from the pen of Dr. J. A. Alexander entitled. “The Gospel History." In the course of the article he gives the hypotheses of Eichhorn, Schleiermacher, Giesler, and Hug of Freyburg, by means of which they attempt to account for the resemblance and difference of the Gospels without denying the veracity of either.
in proof of his position that the Divine man, instead of being an ideal creation, was a reality, of which each Evangelist has given a portrait taken from a somewhat different point of view, requires him to establish the fact that a substantial unity underlies the whole portraiture; he proceeds to show, with his characteristic fulness and conclusiveness of reasoning, that the Jesus of the Gospels does present us with a substantial unity in all the multiform aspects in which the Evangelists hold him up to our view.
Now in regard to all this, we would remark, 1. That it is to be regretted that in connection with Mr. Row's method of accounting for the diversities which we discover in the Gospels, viz., that they are the work of a multiplicity of minds, he makes the hurtful concession that they contain some real discrepancies or inaccuracies of historical statement. He holds an unsound theory of inspiration. These concessions are inore clearly and expressly made in the last chapter of his book, where he shows that the Gospels fulfil the historical conditions on which they are based. Whether the Synoptics are compared with each other or with the fourth Gospel, it cannot be proved that any statement contained in one is really inconsistent with any which is made in the others. 2. There are certainly apparent disagreements in the four narratives. It is very probable that there was at first an oral Gospel, but there are other methods for satisfactorily accounting for these apparent variations besides the one which the author maintains that it is necessary for us to adopt. We should probably be able to explain most of them by distinguishing between mere juxtaposition in the record, and immediate chronological succession. 3. Mr. Row's argument is, that if we assume that many persons were engaged in the production of the Gospels, each acting independently of the other, then the fact that the portraiture in its multiform aspects is a perfect unity, proves that it belonged to one who really existed. But the unity is at least an argument against the mythic theory whether the Gospels are supposed really to be the work of many minds or not. That theory is, that all the parts of the portraiture were the creations of the imagination of an immense number of Christ's delnded followers. As the inventors of the myths
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