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which, after all, are mere quibbles, and only prove, even under a perfect impossibility of explanation, that they had not made a previous arrangement. It would appear like an early history, correct as to the main point, but not investigated with critical or judicial acuteness ; and this is the case with all the first narrations of any fact, which is, in substance, true, but in effect, wonderful and extraordinary. But here are writers, who wrote many years after one another, and of whom the latest (Luke alone excepted) had read the writings of his predecessor, so that it was only necessary, if they wished to write falsehoods, that Mark should dress by Matthew, and for John, who had read them all, to contradict no one, and not even in the mildest manner to rectify him. But they certainly do not appear in the light of historians, who had entered into any previous agreement.
BURIAL AND RESURRECTION OF
I. JESUS IS ACTUALLY FOUND DEAD UPON
THE CROSS, AND PIERCED.
Joun, XIX. 31–37. 31. “ The Jews, therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remuin upon the cross on the subbath-day, (for that sabbath-day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their bones might be broken, and that they might be taken
away. 32. “ Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other, which was crucified with him.
33. “ But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs.
34. “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith cume thereout blood and water.
35. “ And he that saw it, bare record, und his record is true, and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
36. “ For these things were done, that the Scriptures should be fulfilled, a bone of him shall not be broken.
37. “ And again another Scripture saith, they shall look on him, whom they pierced."
This history is entirely in the manner of John, who loves to supply, what the other evangelists have omitted. He was, as he himself says, an eye-witness of the event, and stood by the cross. To him it appeared in a most striking point of view, on account of the fulfilment of two passages in the Old Testament, and to us, who live in later times, it becomes still more important in another, to which probably John did not advert at the time, namely, it obviates one objection to the resurrection of Jesus, that he might not have been really dead, but only in a fit ;—who, therefore, can be surprised, that he who in other respects, is so accustomed to minute additions, should add this fact, which was neither seen nor noted by others? The silence of the other evangelists is no contradiction, for what historian relates every thing? Besides, it is evident from the other evangelists, that something of this kind must actually have occurred. He who reads them will naturally imagine that the bodies of the two thieves
were taken away with Jesus from the cross, and that consequently those, who were crucified with him, were dead before the evening. According to Luke, this is certain, for Jesus says, (ch. xxiii. v. 43.) to one of them, “ To-day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” As now a crucified person does not die in the course of nature upon the first, but at the earliest, upon the third day, and this not from loss of blood, but from gangrene,) and many even live to the seventh day, it is evident from the evangelists themselves, that something like that which John relates must have taken place; and that the mortal blow must have been actually given them; this, perhaps, they omit, because this anticipated death was then tolerably common with them in the same way as in our history of a man broken alive upon the wheel, we seldom mention the finishing stroke, which releases him from his miseries. But we shall go further into this subject, as our inquiry extends itself. That the bones of Jesus were not broken with a club, every one who has read the history of the resurrection in the three first evangelists, will readily conceive, for if they had assumed the fact, that the bones were broken, they must either as historical inventors, or as positive
liars, have provided for his capability of walking after his resurrection. The singular circumstance of his early death is noted by Mark, ch. xv. v. 39. all the others
he died on the same day, which in the case of a crucified person, whether they observe upon it or not, is something unusual.
31. The Jews had no literal law from Moses, prohibiting the body of a crucified person, such person being still living, from being left upon the cross upon the sabbath, or the whole night; for, according to the Mosaic law, the punishment of crucifixion, or even of hanging a man upon a tree or post, was not common amongst them; they only hung malefactors, who were dead, stoned to death for instance upon a post. I have explained this in my 235th section upon the Mosaic law. It may be that in this case the hanging would not be done by cords, but by nailing to a piece of wood, and consequently a species of crucifixion, for the Hebrew word, which conveys this meaning, (Numbers xxv. 4. 2 Samuel xxi. 6, 9, 13.) signifies in no eastern language,“ hanging as hanging up;" in Arabic it imports “beating with a bammer;" it may be well, therefore, translated where it occurs, "attaching the malefactors to a post.”