« PreviousContinue »
executed *; for I did not doubt but, let their confession be of any sort whatsoever, this positiveness and inflexible obstinacy deserved to be punished. There have been some of this mad sect whom I took notice of in particular as Roman citizens, that they might be sent to that city f. After some time, as is usual in such examinations, the crime spread itself, and many more cases came before me. A libel was sent me, though without an author, containing many names [of persons accused]. These denied that they were Christians now, or ever had been. They called upon the gods, and supplicated to your imagei, which I caused to be brought to me for that purpose, with frankincense and wine: they also cursed Christ Ş: none of which things, as it is said, can any of those that are really Christians be compelled to do; so I thought fit to let them go.— Others of them, that were named in the libel, said they were Christians, but presently denied it again; that, indeed, they had been Christians, but had ceased to be so some three years, some many more; and one there was that said he had not been so these twenty years. All these worshiped your image, and the images of our gods: these also cursed Christ. However, they assured me, that the main of their fault, or of their mistake, was this, that they were wont, on a stated day, to meet together before it was light, and to sing a hymn to Christ, as a god, alternately; and to oblige themselves by a sacrament [or oath], not to do any thing that was ill, but that they would commit no theft, or pilfering, or adultery; that they would not break their promises, or deny what was deposited with them, when it was required back again: after which it was their custom to depart, and to meet again at a common but innocent meal ||, which yet they had left off upon that edict which I published at your command, and wherein I had forbidden any such conventicles. These examinations made me think it necessary to inquire by torments, what the truth was, which I did of two servantmaids, which were called deaconesses; but still I discovered no more, than that they were addicted to a bad and an extravagant superstition. Hereupon l have put off any farther examinations, and have recourse to you; for the affair seems to be well worth consultation, especially on account of the number of those that are in danger*; for there are many of every age, of every rank, and of both sexes, which are now and hereafter hkely to be called to account, and to be in danger; for this superstition is spread like a contagion, not only into cities and towns, but into country villages also, which yet there is reason to hope may be stopped and corrected. To be sure, the temples, which were almost forsaken, begin already to be frequented; and the holy solemnities, which were long intermitted, begin to be revived. The sacrifices begin to sell well everywhere, of which very few purchasers had of late appeared; whereby it is easy to suppose how great a multitude of men may be amended, if place for repentance be admitted.
* Amazing doctrine! that a firm and fixed resolution of keeping a good conscience should be thought without dispute to deserve death, and this by such comparatively excellent heathens as Pliny and Trajan. + This was the case of St. Paul, who being a citizen of Rome was allowed to appeal unto Caesar, and was sent to Rome accordingly. Acts, xxii. 25–29; xxv. 25; xxvi. 32; xxvii. f Amazing stupidity that the emperor's image, even while he was alive, should be allowed capable of divine worship, even by such comparatively excellent heathens as Pliny and Trajan. § Take here a parallel account out of the martyrdom of Polycarp, sect. 9. The proconsul said—“Reproach Christ.” Polycarp replied—“Eighty and six years have I now served Christ, and he has never done me the least wrong; how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?” | This must most probably be the feast of charity.
TRAJAN's EPISTLE To PLINY.
MY PLINY–You have taken the method which you ought, in examining the causes of those that had been accused as Christians; for, indeed, no certain and general form of judging can be ordained in this case. These people are not be sought for; but if they be accused, and convicted, they are to be punished, but with this caution, that he who denies himself to be a Christian, and makes it plain that he is not so by supplicating to our gods, although he had been so formerly, may be allowed pardon, upon his repentance. As for libels sent without an author, they ought to have no place in any accusation whatsoever, for that would be a thing of very ill example, and not agreeable to my reign.
Upon the PAss Ages taken out of tAcitus.
I. We see here what great regard the best of the Roman historians of that age, Tacitus, had to the history of Josephus, while, though he never names him, as he very rarely names any of those Roman authors whence he derives other parts of his history, yet does it appear that he refers to his seven books of the Jewish Wars several times in a very few pages, and almost always depends on his accounts of the affairs of the Romans and Parthians, as well as of the Jews, during no fewer than 240 years, to which those books extend.
* Some of late are very loath to believe that the Christians were numerous in the second century; but this is such an evidence that they were very numerous, * in Bithynia, even in the beginning of that century, as is wholly undemiadle.
II. Yet does it appear that when he now and then followed other historians or reports concerning the Romans, the Parthians, or the Jews, during that long interval, he was commonly mistaken in them, and had better have kept close to Josephus, than hearken to any of his other authors or informers. - III. It also appears highly probable that Tacitus had seen the Antiquities of Josephus, and knew that the most part of the accounts he produced of the origin of the Jewish nation entirely contradicted those Antiquities. He also could hardly avoid seeing that those accounts contradicted one another also, and were childish, absurd, and supported by no good evidence whatsoever: as also, he could hardly avoid seeing that Josephus’s accounts in those Antiquities were authentic, substantial, and thoroughly attested to by the ancient records of that nation, and of the neighbouring nations also, which, indeed, no one can now avoid seeing, that carefully peruses and considers them. IV. Tacitus, therefore, in concealing the greatest part of the true ancient history of the Jewish nation, which lay before him in Josephus, and producing such fabulous, ill-grounded, and partial histories, which he had from the heathens, acted a most unfair part: and this procedure of his is here the more gross, in regard he professed such great impartiality, Hist. B. i. cap. i. and is allowed to have observed that impartiality in the Roman affairs also. W. Tacitus's hatred and contempt of God's peculiar people, the Jews, and his attachment to the grossest idolatry, superstition, and astral fatality of the Romans, were, therefore, so strong in him, as to overbear all restraints of sober reason and equity in the case of those Jews, though he be allowed so exactly to have followed them on other occasions relating to the Romans. WI. Since, therefore, Tacitus was so bitter against the Jews, and since he knew that Christ was a Jew himself, and that his apostles and first followers were Jews, and also knew that the Christian religion was derived into the Roman provinces from Judea, it is no wonder that his hatred and contempt of the Jews extended itself to the Christians also, whom the Romans usually confounded with the Jews: as, therefore, his hard words of the Jews appear to have been generally groundless, and hurt his own reputation, instead of theirs, so ought we to esteem his alike hard words of the Christians to be blots upon his own character, and not upon theirs. VII. Since, therefore, Tacitus, soon after the publication of Josephus's Antiquities, and in contradiction to them was determined to produce such idle stories about the Jews, and since one of those idle stories is much the same as that published in Josephus against Apion, from Manetho and Lysimachus, and nowhere else met with so fully in all antiquity, it is most probable that those Antiquities of Josephus were the very occasion of Tacitus giving us these stories, as we know from Josephus himself, contr. Apion, B. 1. sect. 1, that the same Antiquities were the very occasion of Apion's publication of his equally scandalous stories about them, and which Josephus so thoroughly confuted in his two books written against them. And if Tacitus, as I suppose, had also read those two books, his procedure in publishing such stories, after he had seen so thorough a confutation of them, was still more highly criminal. Nor will Tacitus's fault be much less, though we suppose he neither saw the Antiquities, nor the books against Apion, because it was so very easy for him, then at Rome, to have had more authentic accounts of the origin of the Jewish nation, and of the nature of the Jewish and Christian religions, from the Jews and Christians themselves, which, he owns, were very numerous there in his days; so that his publication of such idle stories is still utterly inexcusable. VIII. It is, therefore, very plain, after all, that notwithstanding the encomiums of several of our learned critics upon Tacitus, and hard suspicions upon Josephus, that all the (involuntary) mistakes of Josephus, in all his large works put together, their quality, as well as quantity, considered, do not amount to near so great a sum, as do these gross errors and misrepresentations of Tacitus about the Jews amount to in a few pages; so little reason have some of our later and lesser critics to prefer the Greek and Roman profane historians and writers to the Jewish, and particularly to Josephus. Such later and lesser critics should have learned more judgment and modesty from their great father Joseph Scaliger, when, as we have seen, after all his deeper inquiries, he solemnly pronounces, De Emend. Temp. Prolegom. p. 17,-that “Josephus was the most diligent and the greatest lover of truth of all writers;” and is not afraid to affirm, that “it is more safe to believe him, not only as to the affairs of the Jews, but also as to those that are foreign to them, than all the Greek and Latin writers, and
TABLE of the Jewish Weights and MEASUREs, particularly of those mentioned in Josephus's Works.
Of the Jewish Measures of LENGTH.
Inches. Feet. Inches. Cubit, the standard . . . . 21 1 9 Zereth or large span . . . . 10} . . O 104 Small span . . . . . . 7 . O 7 Palm or hand's breadth . . . " 3# . O 3} . Inch or thumb's breadth . . 1, 16 O 1, 16 Digit or finger's breadth . . ,875 . 0 ,875 Orgyia or fathom . . . . 84 . . 7 O Ezekiel's Canneh or reed . . . 126 1O 6 Arabian Canneh or pole . . 168 . . 14 O Schaenus's line or chain . . . 1680 . . 140 0 Sabbath-day's journey . . . 42000 . . 3500 0 Jewish mile . . . . . 84000 . . 7000 O Stadium or furlong . . . . 8400 . . 700 O Parasang . . . . . . . 252000 . 21000 0
Of the Jewish Measures of CAPAcity.
Cub. Inch. Pints or Pounds.
Bath or Epha . . . . . . 807,274 . . 27,83
Chorus or Chomer . . . . . 8072,74 . . 278,3 Seah or Saton . . . . . . 269,091 . . 9,266 Ditto according to Josephus . 828,28 . . 28,3 Hin . . . . . . . . . 134,54 . . 4,4633 Ditto according to Josephus . 414, 19 . . 14,3 Omer or Assaron . . . . . 80,722 . . 2,78
Cab . . . . . . . . . 44,859 . . 1,544 Log . . . . . . . . . . l 1,21 . . ,39 Metretes or Syrian firkin . . . 207 - - 7, 125
Of the Jewish Weights and Coins.
Statur, Siclus, or shekel of the sanctuary, the standard
Drachma Attica, one-fourth . . . . . . . 7}
Drachma Alexandrina, or Darchmon, or Adarchmon, one-half . . . . . . . . 1 3
Gerah, or Obolos, one-twentieth . . . O 1+