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ship and resurrection of Jesus would appear strange and unfounded stories.* In the interval, however, between the fall of Jerusalem and the close of the first century, Christianity formed gradually an alliance which materially assisted the spread of its doctrines amongst the Greeks and Romans.
This alliance was with the Platonism of the Alexandrian school. The name of Plato was held in high veneration by the Greeks; and the Jews of Alexandria, being constantly mingled with the Greeks, affected to partake of the fashionable admiration of the Platonic doctrines, which, they pretended to discover, were derived from Moses. Many of the Alexandrian Jews were Essenes, and became adherents of John the Baptist, and of Jesus. Hereby a channel was opened by which Platonism and Christianity might flow into each other.
The Alexandrian Jews chiefly followed trade, and consequently journeyed often to all parts of the Roman empire. Ephesus, another important commercial city, was doubtless a place of continual resort to them; and from the visit of Apollos to the end of the century, [A.D. 56— 97,] we may reasonably infer that the Christian church planted by Paul at Ephesus received continually fresh infusions of the notions of the Alexandrian Jewish school.+ The result was a new doctrine concerning the person of Jesus, to which prominence was given by the publication
*Irenæus cont. Hær. 1. 4, cap. xxiv. "Quapropter plus laborabat, qui in Gentes apostolatum acceperat, quam qui in circumcisione præconabant Filium Dei. Illos enim adjuvabant Scripturæ, quas confirmavit Dominus et adimplevit, talis veniens qualis, et prædicabatur hic vero peregrina quædam eruditio et nova doctrina, Deos gentium non solum non esse Deos, sed et idola esse dæmoniorum, esse unum Deum qui est super omnem principatum; et hujus verbum naturaliter quidem invisibilem, palpabilem et visibilem in hominibus factum, et usque ad mortem descendisse, mortem crucis et eos qui in eum credunt, incorruptibiles et impassibiles futuros et percipere regnum cœlorum. Et hæc Sermone prædicabantur Gentibus sine scripturis; quapropter plus laborabant qui in Gentibus prædicabant. Generosior autem rursus fides Gentium ostenditur, Sermonem Dei assequentium sine instructione literarum."
† From 1 Tim. i. 3-7, it seems not improbable that Paul's cautions to the first bishop of Ephesus were directed partly against Platonic innovators.
of another Gospel, by authority of the church of Ephesus, under the name of John, [about A.D. 97].
Plato had taught* that the Supreme Being, whom he called The Good (ro ayatov) made his only begotten offspring, the world, by means of his own divine wisdom or intelligence, which he called logos or nous, a principle bearing the same relation to God as the human understanding does to a man. And he sometimes spoke of this logos in terms which might be interpreted to signify something distinct from the divine mind itself,§ although, perhaps, he only intended to use a mysterious and sublime manner of personifying a mere property. Most of his followers preferred the more unintelligible interpretation, and carried the personification so far as to make the logos or nous a distinct being, proceeding from its origin The Good, as a son from his father, which figure had been used by Plato himself for a different purpose, viz. to describe the production of the world by God. The Jews conversant with Greek literature generally considered the term logos as synonymous with the Chaldee mimra, the word of Jehovah, which was merely a poetical paraphrase for Jehovah himself. But the Platonic Jews adopted the heathen notion of personifying the logos,|| and even made the personification more perfect by representing the logos as a divine emanation, the invisible image of the invisible God, and the medium by which
* Priestley's History of Early Opinions, book i. chap. vi.— Enfield's History of Philosophy, book ii. chap. viii.
† "So that we may justly say, that the world is, through the providence of God, a living creature that it has a soul and reaThat this living creature might be like the most perfect living creature, he did not make two or more of them, but this one only begotten heaven” (μovoyɛvnç spavQ). Timæus of Plato, p. 477.
"They who think rightly are said to think with logos; and there can be no right opinion without knowledge." Theatetus of Plato, p. 94.
§ "As light and vision resemble the sun, but are not the sun, so knowledge and truth resemble the good, but are not the good, the good itself being something more venerable." De Rep. lib. vi. p. 433.
See Wisdom of Solomon, vii. 22-30.
he made the world, and communicated with Abraham, Moses, and the prophets.
To this the writer of the Gospel of St. John added, that the logos which had been from the beginning with God, or in the bosom of the Father, had at last become flesh, and dwelt amongst men in the visible form of Jesus Christ.* The doctrine grew into favour with both parties, the Christians and the Platonists. The former saw
* By comparing the words of Philo, the Jew, with those of St. John, it will be seen how natural the transition was.
Philo. "To speak plainly, the ideal world is no other than the logos of God, who makes the world." De Mundi Opificio, p. 5.
The logos is the image of God, by which all the world was made.” Λογος δε εςιν εικων θες δι 8 συμπας ὁ κοσμο εδημιεργείτο. De Monarchia, p. 823.
"Though no person is worthy to be called the Son of God, endeavour to be accomplished, like his first-begotten logos, the most ancient angel, as being the archangel of many names: for it is called the apxy (beginning), the name of God, and the logos, and the man according to his image, and the seer of Israel. For if we are not worthy to be called the sons of God, let us be so of his eternal image, the most holy logos; for this most ancient logos is the image of God." De Confusione Linguarum, p. 341. In another place he describes the logos as a first-begotten son (TрwToyovov vlov), superintending nature as an officer under God, and likewise as the angel that God told Moses he would send before him. De Agric. p. 195.
"The true God is one, but those who are figuratively so called are many; wherefore the sacred word on this occasion (the appearance to Abraham) distinguishes the true God by the article, I am & eos; but him that is so called figuratively, without the article. De Somniis, p. 599.
He also represents the world as the younger son of God, but the logos as his elder son, remaining with the Father. Пap'eauty καταμενειν διενοήθη. Immutability of God.
St. John. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God (Tov Beov), and the logos was God (Bog). The same was in the beginning with God (Tov BEov). All things were made by him (or it); and without it was not any thing made that was made. In it was life, and the life was the light of men.... That was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not...and the logos became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth. i. 1-14.
in it a new mode of exalting the Messiah ;* and the latter new interest to their philosophy, by connecting it so closely with the most active sect of the venerable religion of Judaism, the professors of which formed already an influential part of their own school. The junction with Platonism gave to Christianity a new and imposing title to consideration with the Gentiles. The claims of Jesus were no longer those of an obscure Jew, interesting chiefly to his own nation, and proveable only by reference to Jewish writings. They appeared to rest also on the authority of one of the most venerated of the Grecian sages, and might be supported by the writings of an extensive and fashionable philosophic school. To the Jews he had seemed to fulfil the law and the prophets; and
The first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews contains a doctrine so closely resembling that of John's Gospel,—that Jesus was the logos or image of God,-that the two writings would seem to proceed from nearly the same age. There is no satisfactory. evidence of the date or authorship of the epistle, which appears to be first quoted by Clement of Rome, A.D. 96, who has several passages nearly in the words of Heb. i. 3—13. The application of some of the attributes of the Platonic logos to Christ begins to appear as early as in the writings of Paul (Col. i. 12-18), for he calls him the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature but the incarnation of the logos itself first appears clearly in the Gospel of John. The minds of most of the Jews were more or less imbued with the notions of the Alexandrian school, especially the Essenes, of whom the contemplative portion, or Therapeutæ, resided chiefly in Egypt.
† The spiteful manner of Tacitus in mentioning the Jews, (gens teterrima, despectissima,) and his ready adoption of calumnies upon them, (Annals, book ii. chap. 3, 4, 5,) even such an absurd one as the placing of an ass in the holy of holies, should rather lead us to think that he had some peculiar motive for enmity towards them, than that he fairly represents the opinion of the heathens in general towards the Jews. Josephus shews (Antiq. xiv. chap. 10) the estimation in which the Jews were held by the Romans as well as the Greeks before the last Jewish war. Their pertinacious resistance during that war, and the continual trouble which they afterwards gave to the Romans in order to keep them in subjection, may, perhaps, account for the bitterness of Tacitus. The Christians, as a Jewish sect, obtained a share of his invectives; " per flagitia invisos.... Sontes, et novissima exempla
now to the Greeks he appeared to complete the scheme of Plato.
Platonism was that system of heathen philosophy which had most points of agreement with the Judaism of the Pharisaic and Essene schools. It taught the doctrines of one supreme and invisible Deity, his perfect goodness, and the immortality of man. But these doctrines being in the form of abstract and hardly intelligible speculations, were, with the Platonists, confined to the philosophic schools. The followers of John the Baptist, and of Jesus, connected them with the interests and transactions of life, and with expectations of momentous political importance. Platonism still continued to offer attractive speculations to the learned and inquisitive; but it was reserved for its more robust and energetic ally, the Judaism of Nazareth, to give to its important truths an influence in the business of the world, to open for them an entrance into the affections, and to obtain for them an empire over the will, of the multitudes.
Thus have we followed the Essene Judaism, from its connexion with the doctrine of the Jewish Messiah, its amplification by the adherence and protection of the Pharisees, its extension into the Gentile world, by the relaxation of the Mosaic code, to its junction with the Platonism of the Greeks; and such was Christianity left at the close of the first century, or about the date of the termination of the writings of the New Testament. By this time, Jesus of Nazareth had advanced from the characters of the carpenter's son, the prophet of Galilee, the king of Israel, the Judge of mankind, to be the Logos or incarnate representation of the Deity; and shortly afterwards the gradation was completed by identifying him
with God himself.
By its doctrines concerning God and a future state; by its social institutions for religious worship and the free communication of charity; by its connexion with the story of Jesus, and its claims to fulfil the prophecies concerning the Jewish Messiah; by its asserted miracles; and by its announcement of the end of the world, and of an approaching Kingdom of Heaven; Christianity possessed too powerful means of influence over the intellect, the affections, and the imagination of men, to be successfully