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to cast suspicion on the presumed biographies. Then, again, they are written in Greek, the language of the allegorizers ; they abound in parables; they contain frequent and impressive warnings against literal constructions; they describe themselves in many parts as containing hidden wisdom which the initiated only can understand; they were received as allegorical writings by some of the fathers of the Church, conspicuous among whom was Origen, who said, "The Sacred Scripture is like a man; for, as a man consists of a rational soul, of a sentient or sensuous soul, and of a body, so, in like manner, have the divine books a threefold sense, an historical or grammatical sense, a moral sense, and a spiritual sense." That the Gospels are Essene writings he argues, in addition to the other evidence, from the fact that the Essenes are not mentioned in them; that the Essene doctrine of the letter and the spirit runs through them; that the great foes of the Essenes, the Scribes and Pharisees, are vehemently denounced on almost every page; that the only opinions which receive any commendation at all are those which were entertained by the Essenes.

The author's supposition is that the Gospels were composed, not for the people who were "without," but for the use of the Essenes alone; and for a considerable period were kept exclusively in their hands. They were secret books, containing a secret doctrine. And they might have remained secret books forever had not St. Paul who, if not a member in regular standing in the society, held substantially the opinions which the society held — openly preached in such a manner as to attract the public attention to the sect and to the books. Great numbers of the uninitiated became acquainted through him with the hidden doctrines of the sect; the line which divided them from the world was broken down; the books were forced out of their hands, and made common property; the admixture of foreign elements changed their character, and altered their attitude in history; converts from other parties Sadducees, Pharisees, Greeks, Romans-succeeded in getting into the brotherhood without getting into the wisdom; differences of opinion in regard to the truth itself found entrance and foothold; literalists read the mystical

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writings as literalists always will, with the eyes of the understanding, not with the eyes of the soul; the myths were interpreted as history, the metaphor was accepted as fact, the allegory was received as biography, the figure of speech became a living man. A new sect, as it might be called, grew about this personage, increased, built up an organization of its own, became known as a distinct body, - either split off from the original Essene community, or, being the more numerous, absorbed it, received a new name, Christians, at Antioch, and stood before the world the heralds of a new religion. From this time the spiritual element declined in force. Partly because it was disabled by the unrepealed obligation of secrecy, and partly because the spiritual element is always surpassed in demonstration of power by brute mind and practical organization. Many of the Fathers of the Church were members of the order, and adhered faithfully to the original tradition respecting the authorship and character of the New Testament; but they were forbidden to divulge what they knew, and their knowledge passed away with them, or was long concealed in obscure corners of the mind of Christendom. The historical tendency overwhelmingly prevailed; and it was not long ere the truth was publicly lost sight of, and pronounced to be heresy.

Such is the theory. We have stated it briefly, but with perfect fairness, and have carefully avoided every expression that might seem to carry with it a shadow of prejudgment. It might have been stated more strongly if stated at greater length; but those who can read intelligently will understand the strength of it from the hints given; others would require much more explanation than a paper like this could supply. It is certainly an interesting, ingenious, and suggestive view of primitive Christianity; and we happen to know that to many minds it has come, as the writer desires it may come, as a welcome and grateful relief from the difficulties that encumber the popular theory. Perhaps the serene, spiritual beauty of it has fascinated a few who have not cared to observe its exceedingly radical character, and who would probably be shocked if set face to face with its literal results. We shall not occupy much room in recording the reasons of our dissent from the

critical conclusions of this book, but it is necessary to indicate them.

That these conclusions rest upon no solid foundation in historical or literary fact, - that the theory comes about as near being pure theory as ever theory did or can,-is an objection, and a serious one, but not absolutely fatal, in this department of inquiry. Every account of the origin, the authorship, the construction of the New Testament, is largely made up of hypothesis. The account that is generally received is perhaps quite as largely made up of hypothesis as any other. So little is really known in regard to primitive Christianity and the earliest Christian literature, that the plain truth of history is not to be obtained. One theory may be more plausible than another; but, inasmuch as we can have nothing better than theory, no writing can be condemned on that ground alone.

The chief weakness of the author's position consists in the exaggerated importance that he attaches, and that others have attached, to the resemblance between Essenism and the primitive Christianity. No doubt this resemblance is very curious. and very close in some particulars. The ethics of the Essenes and the ethics of the New Testament are nearly identical. If to account for this it were necessary to suppose an historical connection between the two, it would be sufficient to say that the systems touched at this one point. The Evangelists may have belonged to the "brotherhood," and may have given their coloring to the precepts of Jesus. Numbers of the early disciples may have entered the Church from the brotherhood between the death of Jesus and the composition of the New Testament. There is no difficulty in presuming that Jesus himself was intimately acquainted with the members of a sect which had so much that was in unison with his own cast of sentiment, and which would naturally impart something of its own temper to one endowed and moved as he was. A contact with Essenism at this single point, where alone the similitude. is very apparent, does not involve an intimate alliance with it, far less need it imply a vital dependence on it, or an absorption in it.

But it is not necessary to suppose even thus much historical 5TH S. VOL. XI. NO. III.



connection between Essenism and Christianity. For that which they held thus cordially in common, they both held in common with all the spiritualists of that epoch and of that quarter of the globe. The lofty ethics of the New Testament were not peculiar to those purists of Palestine. If the Essenes. had them before the Christians, the Therapeutæ of Egypt had them before the Essenes, and the Persians had them before the Therapeutæ. They are not Syrian, but Oriental. They are all found in their elements, some of them are found fully stated, in the books of the Old Testament. The writer of "Christ the Spirit" admits and argues that these precepts contained only the spirit of the Law; if that is so, they were the common heritage of all illuminated Jews, to whatever sect they belonged. They were the exclusive possession of no party and of no person; and their presence in the New Testament is no more strange, and no less strange, than their presence in other spiritual writings. Why should we allow to the Essenes a monopoly of moral insight? Why admit that this lofty virtue when found in a Pharisee's possession must be attached as stolen property? Why fear lest Christianity should lose its prestige of originality, because it must share with others what belongs to all, since it possesses this on those high conditions which the truly original alone enjoy?

We hold, then, that this ancient apprehension of the secondary origin of Christianity on the score of its Essenian character is groundless. The similarity brings no grave historical consequences with it. But this is not the whole case. A great deal has been said about the agreement between Essenism and Christianity. There is on the other side a great deal to be said about the disagreement between them. There are considerations which make it quite impossible to believe that either was derived from the other. 'Primitive Christianity was, past all doubt, Hebraic; Essenism was deeply tinged with the mysticism of Oriental thought. It is reported to have had secret doctrines, which were imparted only to the initiated. What those doctrines were is not positively known; but so far as they are known, they suggest the theosophy of Parsism. The Essene Deity was wholly unlike the Hebrew Jehovah; there was a philosophy of the

spiritual world such as certainly did not prevail in the early Church, such as certainly did prevail among the people beyond the Euphrates; there was a philosophy of angels, of which great account was made; there was large parade of occult wisdom; there was the Eastern speculation in regard to the soul and the body, the impurity of the flesh, the uncleanness of the world, the expiatory design of human existence. The elements of Pantheism lurked there, as Philo intimates distinctly enough. The Essenes raised the symbol of the sun to such dignity, that many have suspected them of being fire-worshippers.

Something of all this appeared in the Christian Church of the second century, and it may have been introduced by the Essenes; but if it was, it was introduced as a corruption. Ewald contends that it was thus brought in. Ewald-whose authority on such a matter stands high as the highest — gives it as his opinion that the Essenes, being a "close communion," having no share in the popular life, and no intercourse with other sects, for a long period kept aloof from the Christian fraternity; but, as in course of time the new religion spread and made its influence felt in the remote corners and among the secluded people of the country, many of them were drawn to it by spiritual affinity. These retained their peculiarities of faith and observance as far as it was possible, and endeavored to carry them over to the new sect. As their numbers increased, their success in leavening the still unorganized mass of the Christians became palpable and apparent; so much so, that the genuine spiritualists took alarm, and proceeded against these intruders as heretics. Paul especially held them in distrust, warned the churches against their fanciful speculations, and assailed them as the representatives of that hard, narrow exclusiveness of mind, that obstinate formalism, that stiff Hebraism, which, in his view, hindered the spread, polluted the purity, and smothered the genius of the faith. The Essenes are reported as being strenuous observers of the Law, and jealous guardians of its privileges. They were of the native Hebrew party; of course, the Apostle to the Gentiles found among them no friends.

But whether Ewald be right or wrong in his conjecture that

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