« PreviousContinue »
unto you for a guide." The arrangement Egypt.) The hidden ways of wisdom are of the Talmud of Babylon differs in many the ten Sephiroth, or attributes of the details from that of the Talmud of Jeru- Divinity, and the twenty-two letters, salem. In twenty-six tracts, the former which are types of matter. (In the for. has no Ghemara, and in the tract Shecalim mer it is impossible not to recognize, ipsa the Ghemara of Jerusalem is applied in nomine, the ten cyphers, which Europe the Babylon Talmud.
owes to the Arabic writers.) The letters We have hitherto spoken of the several are, three mother letters, seven double, tracts of the Mishna, and their accompa- and twelve single; and in the microcos.n nying Ghemara, as constituting the Tal- and macrocosm - the world, the soul, and mud. That word, however, is often ap- the year — “ all things are ordered by one plied to designate the whole teaching of on three, three on seven, and seven on the Jewish Law - including the Law, the twelve." We spare our readers any disProphets, and the Hagiographa, together cussion of the four alphabets, and the with the books of which we have given a four species of the Cabbala. brief précis.
We may perhaps most clearly grasp the We must not omit to mention the three tenets of the chief Jewish sects during the obscure and mystic glosses on the Penta- early Christian centuries by contrasting teuch, which exist under the names of the several directions in which they diMekilta, Siphra, and Siphri. The first is verged from the common centre of the a commentary on the Book of Exodus. Written Lay The second, attributed to Rav, or Abba Most conservative in their views, alAribba, who was rector of the University though historically uncertain in their oriof Sora until A.D. 243, is also called the gin, were the Karaites, who seem to be Torath Cohenim, or law of the priests, the vollkol of the New Testament. The and is founded on Leviticus. The third Talmud classes them as a branch of the book, Siphri, is a comment on Numbers Sadducees. They regarded the Written and Deuteronomy.
Law alone as divinely inspired, and rarely The doctrine of the Talmud, remarks availed themselves of traditional interprethe Abbé Chiarini, like the Tabernacle of tation. Critical remarks on the mode of Moses, has three veils. Raise the first, reading and interpreting the Bible, which and you enter the porch. Lift the second, are attributed in the Talmud to the Scribes, and the Holy Place is before you. Be- are of the Karaite school. yond the third, is the Holy of Holies. In opposition to these literalists, the With these three stages of devout intelli- great sect of the Pharisees, which spring gence correspond the Halaca, the Agada, up during the early days of the Maccabees, and the Cabbala. The third of these esteemed the letter of the Law above its studies, which is the parent of the al- spirit; the Oral above the Written Law, chemy and the magic of the Middle Ages, and ceremonies above morality. The de. forms the subject of the extremely ob- scription of various branches of the Pharscure books entitled Fetsira and Zohar. isees, which is to be collected from the We have only space to refer to the mas- Jerusalem Talmud, explains the frequent ter idea of the Cabbalistic philosophy, to coupling of the name of that sect with the which may be traced the origin of the reproach of hypocrisy. Seven classes of doctrine of the Sephur, or Logos, which their professors of the Law are named, has been erroneously attributed to a Pla- out of which there is but one who were contonic source.
fessedly actuated in their conduct by the God, according to the Jetsira, created noblest principle, namely the love of God. the world by three Sephirim; His con- Among the other six were the Shekamites, ception (or idea), His word, and His who displayed their good deeds to all the writing. The archetype of the world was world, as if they bore them on their shoulconceived by the Divine Being with num- ders ; the Niephes, or borrowers, who ber, weight, and measure ; it was called constantly asked for loans in order to from nothing into existence by His word, give alms or perform other good deeds: and it was peopled with creatures, who the Kizeen, or counters, who reckoned a are His writing; and conception, word, commandment against every transgresand writing are the same thing in God. sion ; those who feigned to renounce their The Hebrew language is Divine, because property in order to bestow it in pious God has made use of it to communicate works (represented, in the Acts of the with’ man. Its writing is perfect, and the Apostles, by Ananias and Sapphira); those form of every letter involves a mystery. who asked of all men to tell them of any (This points back to the hieroglyphics of transgression that they had committed,
Ant. XVIII. i.
Heb. xiii. 10.
that they might make expiation ; and those'. The Hellenists took their rise in the who performed their prescribed duties time of the Greek kings; and introduced simply through the influence of fear. much from the philosophy of Greece into
The sect of the Sadducees, the follow- both the doctrine and the customs of the ers of Sadok and Baithos, originated about Jews. They gave a High Priest to Jeru300 B.C., and disputed the great authority salem in the person of Jason. They were of the Pharisees.* The doubts entertained the first sect encountered by Paul after by this sect as to the future life and the his conversion; and their influence must spiritual existence are reflected in the Tal- have been considerable to have induced mud by a frequent indifference as to ques- or enabled a scholar of the Pharisee tions relating to the immortality of the Gamaliel to quote the Greek poet Aratus. soul.
The Therapeutists may be considered The opposite pole to the Sadducees was as the natural counterpoise of any philooccupied by the Mehestanites, a sect as sophical tendency among the Jews ; their old as the Captivity, which had drawn doctrine that supreme happiness confrom Persian sources a detailed belief in sisted in meditation being one to be met the influence of good and evil spirits, as with among the Indian Fakeers. well as in astrology. Much of the ghost
THE ESSENES lore of the Talmud has been contributed
The CHRISTIANS by this sect, which to some extent influ- cause they have more pure of the Lord Jesus. Acts
do not offer sacrifices, bem were baptised in the name enced the main body of Jewish belief. lustrations of their own. Nor are the doctrines in question by any
We have an altar, of
which they have no right means confined to the pale of Judaism.
to eat who serve the TabThe Misraimites originated soon after
Having all things in They had all things comthe time of Alexander the Great. They
Acts iv. 32. are to be recognized in all those passages They appoint
Look ye out among you in the Talmud which relate to the Numeric stewards to take care of seven men of honest rem
their common offices. Bell.
port ... over this busior Graphic Cabbala – which was derived 11. viii.
Acts vi. 3. from the Egyptian, hieroglyphics. They
They minister to one an- Ye ought also to wash other.
one another's feet. John ascribed a divine origin, and hidden teaching, to the very form of the square Chal- They have no certain Here we have no contin
uing city. Heb. xiii. 14. daic characters; a doctrine that points city,
They neglect wedlock. It is good for a man not back to a period when the phonetic value
to touch a woman.
I Cor. of the hieroglyphics had not superseded
They have a greater af- We know that we have all earlier idiographic significance. Thus fection for one
another passed from death to life the opening left between the stem of the than other sects have. because we love the breth
1 John iii. 14. Koph and its curved part is said to inti
they take their
He that hath no sword, mate that the door of Divine mercy was weapons.
let him sell his garment
and buy one. Luke xxii. never closed to the penitent.
36. The Essenes, or Oraculists, professed
They go into the dining- When ye come together to find in the Law a species of allegory. room as into a certain holy into one place, this is not
to eat the Lord's Supper. To them is to be attributed a great portion of what is called the Agada and Midrasha Swearing is avoided by Swear not at all. Matt. of the Talmud, and we trace the inf
There are also those Desire spiritual gifts, but of their doctrines in such expressions as among them who under- rather that ye may proph
1 Cor. xiv. 1. "the law, having a shadow of good things take to foretell things to esy. to come ; " and "this Agar is Mount Sinai come. Bell
. 11. viii. 12.
Hold fast the form of in Arabia.” But the Essenes of the Tal- serve the books belonging sound words. 2 Tim. i.
13. Holding fast the faithmud can hardly be identified with the sect to their sect.
ful word. Tit. i. described, at unusual length, by Josephus And the names of the The seven stars are the under that name, in whom it is difficult to angels.
angels of the seven church
es. Apoc. i. 20. recognize any other body than the early Those that are caught in If we sin wilfully there Jewish Christians.*
1 Cor. xi. 20.
any heinous sin they cast remaineth no more sacriout of their society, and he fice for sin, but a certain who is thus separated from fearful looking for of judge
them does often die in a ment. It seems difficult to avoid the conclusion that, under miserable manner. the name of the Essenians, Josephus actually describes There are about 4,000 about 3,000 souls. the early Christians, to whom, if the portions of the men that live in this way. ii. 41. The number of the works attributed to him as to Christ and as to Hades
men was about 5,000. Acts are genuine, he may be considered to have belonged.
iv. 4. His abandonment of the national cause, when actually (Verbatim extracts from hopeless, can thus be explained without injury to his the accounts of the Essencharacter. The points in common between the sects in ians in Ant. XVIII. i. and question may thus be cited.
Bell. 11. viii.)
Heb. X. 27
The name of the Herodians, who al- troversy. This is a dispute that has been lowed political constraint to regulate re- carried' on almost entirely on false asligious worship, and of the opposing sect sumptions. The two main questions of the Gaulonites, or Zealots, who were raised are, the age at which the rite of intolerant of even the payment of tribute baptism should be administered, and the to any but the Eternal King, will be mode in which it should be effected. recognized by the students of the Evan- This is altogether a distinct question gelists and of Josephus. But it passes from that of the sacramental efficacy of the limits of ordinary intelligence to as the institution. It
may be named the sign any principle, but that of mutual ritual
, or ceremonial, dispute, as distincontradiction, to the unresting schism guished from that which is doctrinal or between the schools of Shamai and of theological. The Romish Church, more Hillel.
suo, cuts the question very short. It Such were the sects and schools, and relies on its own tradition; and asperses, such the main topics of constant dispute, signs, and anoints every infant, in the that were rife at Jerusalem during the name of the Church, within the shortest childhood and the manhood of Christ. possible period after birth ; thus expeditThere is scarce a page of the Synoptic ing the passage from this world of many Gospels on which a clear and instructive a weakly suckling. It deserves remark, light may not be thrown by the study of that the one point connected with this the topics which are introduced by the rite which is accepted by the whole of writers as too familiar to need explana- Christendom as incontrovertible, is the tion. We may even say, that the most essential necessity of the material emobscure passages thus become plain, and ployed. The pure element of water is that the true meaning of the words of indispensable. The two Eastern monoChrist, the meaning which they bore to theistic rituals admit of the substitution His hearers, comes out with unexpected of clean sand, for ceremonial abluforce and often with unsuspected beauty. tions, where water cannot be obtained. No one who reads the Gospels with a In the greater strictness of the Occicompetent knowledge of the Talmud, will dental rubric may be traced a mark of admit that they can otherwise be fully the direct filiation of the Christian rite understood. On the entire history of the with the administration of the total sons of Israel, from the days of Moses to plunging bath which the proselyte, and our own, a comment is here afforded with the Jew and Jewess, subject to certain out which the text remains an enigma. legal pollution, were compelled to under
The diffusion of a competent knowl-go. In extending the application of the edge of the Talmud would have a result rite to children, the water-dreading Italwhich might be ungrateful to certain tem- ians have allowed the symbol of asper. pers, but which would be most beneficial sion to replace the original practice ; alto the interest of literature, both religious though the use of the element necessary and ethical. It would tend to extinguish for the total bath, but not necessary for a controversy. It might, alas ! prove too true partial ablution, is retained. In the that the flames, when stamped out in one Greek Church, the original total immerplace, would break forth with renewed sion is still applied to infants, to the fury in another. But the plain man, who great furtherance of the survivorship of seeks truth for its own sake, would not the strongest. fail to derive a benefit. As it is, while Had the controversialists who have the clashing views of rival schools are vexed our language with the vehement based, in their common ignorance, on dispute known as the Baptismal Controimaginary foundations, the unlearned ob- versy, taken the trouble to acquaint themserver may well feel perplexed. But selves with the facts which they were when he finds where the real bone of content to infer from one or two indiscontention lies, and sees how far the tinct passages of the New Testament, ground can be levelled and swept before the quarrel, if not absolutely prevented, the fight fairly begins, it may so chance would at all events have been confined that he will take but little interest in the within the limits of rational discussion. contest, and rather leave it to those who All parties must have recognized the uniare by temperament polemics and dispu- versal practice, in the Catholic Church, tants quand même.
of an initiatory rite ; the legislation affectNo subject, for example, has more bit- ing which, if it ever had a definite ex. terly divided certain sects of Protestants istence, is entirely lost beneath the than what is called the Baptismal Con- I darkness of the first three centuries of
persecution. Further, they would have previously aroused, in cultivated Italy, traced an historic affiliation with an ordi- by the announcements of Galileo. The nary Jewish rite, and especially with the Latin literature of the time of the “Tusperformance of that rite by John the son can Artist " shows that a terror, like that of Zacharias. Thirdly, they must have caused by an actual earthquake, shook seen the absolute contrast existing be- the most intelligent men. They felt as tween the actual Christian, and the an- if the solid earth was falling from under cient Jewish rites, as to person, occasion, them. In our time the fear was, perhaps, and method. With the ground thus more narrow, but it was nevertheless incleared, it is of course possible to enter tense. It was the conscientious opinion on a long and perplexed inquiry as to the of many good men that the hypotheses character and effect of the institution. of the immense antiquity of our planet ; But, for the Baptismal Controversy, as it of the existence on its surface of succesactually encumbers our shelves, there sive forms of life, and of death; and of would have been no room.
the long-descended and hoary age of the While disputes that are rather ecclesi- human species; were in contradiction to astical than religious must thus be nar- the plain words of the Book of Genesis. rowed, if not obviated, by a competent But the educated Jew would not be conknowledge of the mother facts, quar- tent, in this respect, with the enlargerels of an altogether different order ment of vision insured by the knowledge would have been entirely avoided, if the that the Divine Law spoke so as to be rulers of Catholic Christendom had been intelligible to its hearers. His light was enlightened by some of the most rudi- yet brighter. He knew that the Mikra mentary principles of the interpretation had its Agada no less than the Mishna. of the ancient Law.
He knew that all the teachers of his peoThe men who attributed to every word, ple, in long line of associated Sanhedrin and to every letter, of the Pentateuch a ascending to the great Master, Moses, direct divine origin and ordination, yet himself, had shown that the Holy Writadmitted a maxim, inspired by the pro-ings contained allegory as well as prefoundest common sense, the application cept and history. He could have used of which would have prevented the the words of the writer of the Second shameful struggle of the Holy See with Epistle of Peter in the sense in which the immortal Galileo. Loquitur lex, is they were composed — that no prophetic, the rule, phrasibus filiorum hominum. or allegoric, part of Scripture was for the The highest human study, the Rabbins interpretation of idiotai -- (idias &ALÚOEws) taught, was that of the Law. But if – men unlearned in the Law. He would positive science, in other hands, made have been told in plain terms by his Rabdefinite discoveries, there was an elas-bins that the man who attached a literal ticity in the unchangeable Word that meaning to an allegoric part of Scripture could never permit of any contradiction was a fool. He would soon have been arising between Faith and Science. Cul- made aware that the study of the “work tivated Europe should blush to the very of the Creation," * as well as of the finger-nails at her ignorance of such an “ work of the Chariot,” † was specially irenical and philosophical maxim, hidden prohibited to the unlearned. Without in the neglected lore of the Jewish sages. going to the full extent to which this view It is true that a legislation like that of is carried by the Rabbins, critical disMoses might admit of a provision for the crimination, and due knowledge of the organic growth of human intelligence Sacred Books, are enough to show the which would be fatal to a legislation like purely absurd character of a group of that of the Papacy. But the fact is English publications of which we may hardly to the advantage of the latter. not even yet have seen the last. We may take a step further in the
If we pass from the regions, which are same luminous direction. Men are not yet far from being absolutely deserted, yet very old who can remember the of ecclesiological controversy; if we alacrity with which theologians of differ- shun any outburst of that guerilla warent schools hastened to extinguish, first fare which is yet active on the confines the glimmer and then the glow, which where science and religious opinion was thrown upon the unwritten history march, we shall find that one special of mankind by the discoveries of Cuvier study of our own day, the pursuit of an and his school. The excitement in men's minds in England on the subject was hardly less keen than that which was
t Ezek. i.
# Gen. i.
exhaustive and determinative criticism, the meaning of the writers can be arhas yet very much to gain from a compe- rived at by persons who are altogether tent acquaintance with the Talmud. The ignorant of the literary history of the very words of the Mishna are often quot- period. ed verbatim by the New Testament writ- We may, indeed, well think it inexpliers, as when Paul uses the phrase, “ The cable that the doctors of the Christian cup of blessing which we bless." * In Church should not have been indiced by the Sermon on the Mount, Christ three | the plain language of Christ Himself to times † distinctly quotes the Oral Law, undertake that study of the Hebrew litby the appropriate phrase, “It has been erature which was necessary to a clear said by the elders.” He proceeds, on grasp of the meaning of His words. It that, and on other occasions, to give His cannot be doubted that Christ gave the judgment on points which we know to full weight of His authority to the suphave been main topics of dispute be- port of the Oral Law. When He says of tween the doctors of the great schools of those who sit in Moses' seat, “ WhátsoHis day. Such was the controversy be ever they bid you observe, observe and tween the Beth Shamai and the Beth do,” * there can be no question of the Hillel as to the causes which would justi-written precepts, as to which no such enfy a man in giving a Get, or bill of di- forcement could for a moment be thought
Such were various points at is necessary. The forms in which the sue between the Pharisees, who exalted Mikra and the Mishna are severally quotceremonial observance above doctrine, ed are so distinct as to leave no pretext and the oral above the written Law, and for confusion. The line which is drawn the Karaites and Sadducees, who were by Christ lies between the ancient conthe strict literalists of the day; the lat- stitutions, orally nanded down, in eluciter of whom questioned the certitude of dation of the brief injunctions of the Penthe prevalent doctrine as to spirits and a tateuch, and those later regulations of future life, because it was not to be ar- the Sanhedrin, which had no such origin. rived at from the direct words of the In speaking of the unchangeable authorMikra. Such were those between the ity of the law of Moses, the whole body Herodians, who held that it is lawful to of written and ancient traditional legislachange forms of observance for purely tion is distinctly accepted by Christ. worldly reasons, when constrained to do A striking instance may be adduced of so by force, and the Gaulonites or Zeal- the manner in which important questions ots, an offshoot of the Pharisees, who of historical criticism may be solved by teach, in the Talmud, that the Jews can the aid of the Talmud. One of the most be subjects or tributaries of no King but urgent critical questions of the day is the Eternal. Such, again, were the ques- that of the collation of the first three Gostions as to the observance of the rules pels (in our present arrangement of the laid down in the Seder Tahoroth, as to New Testament) with the fourth. The ablutions and purifications, and the pro- subject has been recently discussed, in hibition of eating grains from the ear on a contemporary journal, in a temper that the Sabbath. Such were the legal objec-is creditable to the polemics of the day, tions raised by the Pharisees, not to a The writer, at the same time, expresses miracle of healing, but to the breach of a calm reliance on the impregnable charthe Law of Sabbath by commanding a acter of his own view, which some acman to carry his bed on that day. In quaintance with the literature of the Talfact, the whole text of the New Testa- mud would tend considerably to modify: ment is so full of references to the points The four Gospels all agree in describaround which the controversies of the ing the Crucifixion as occurring on the great religious sects of the day revolved, eve of the Sabbath, that is to say, on the that no distinct and intelligent idea of sixth day of the week. The fourth Gos
pel is singular in including a distinct * 1 Cor. x. 16.
chronological indication of the year, + Matt. v. 21, 27, 33. The injuhctions thus cited are This is afforded by the reckoning of 46 taken from the Mishna, where it is explanatory of the
In v. 31-38, and 43, are references to years from the commencement of the oral precepts which are not founded on the letter of the third Temple (which took place in the both in the mode of quoting them, and in the character eighteenth year of Herod), and by the
In the first case the injunctions are mention of two subsequent passovers. fortified by the enunciation of their purpori, in the sec: In the year thus determined, the 30th of ond they are contradicted. This distinction pervades the whole teaching of Christ recorded in the Synoptic Gospels.
* Matt. xxiii. 3.