There is not existent in the world a single original book or manuscript of Hebrew or Christian Scriptures, containing the inspired Word of Yahveh. The most ancient manuscripts of the Hebrew texts date only from the eighth century of the era of Christ; while of the Christian books, said to have been written by the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost within the first century of the era, all, all are lost, and the oldest “copies” bear the marks of the fourth century. And even in this fourth century, so gross was the corruption of text, so numberless the errors and conflicting readings, that the great St. Jerome, author of the celebrated Latin Vulgate version of the Scriptures, has left it recorded, as his reason for his great work, that the sacred texts “varied so much that there were almost as many readings as codices,” or manuscript copies of the text. And for years past, the papal authorities have been collating all known extant versions and bits of Scriptures for the purpose of trying to edit them into one approved version of the inspired Word of Yahveh Curious indeed it seems that in this inspired revelation of Yahveh, the Hebrew God, to Man, wherein the awful destinies of the human soul are said to be revealed to eternal salvation or damnation, some ten thousand different, conflicting, and disputed readings and textual corruptions and verbal slips of inspiration admittedly exist in the inspired texts, with the knowledge and sufferance of the God whose awful will it all is; while the Providence of that same God, Yahveh, by special miraculous intervention has preserved wholly “incorrupt” through all the ages of faith, the cadavers and ghastly scraps and relics of holy saints and martyrs galore, from
the very Year One on, which are yet to-day (or at last reports were-Cath. Encyc., passim) as fresh, fragrant, and wholly “encorrupt” of flesh as when alive-which, in very truth, in the case of many saints-as their lives are recorded by the monks-is not saying very much for either freshness or fragrance.
An instance-e pluribus unumis that of the pioneer Saint Pachomius, who, ambitious to outdo in bodily mortification his companions in filth,
left the pig-sty in which he dwelt, and sat himself on the ground at the entrance of a cave full of hyenas in the pious desire of entering glory via their bestial maws; but the hyenas, rushing out upon the holy saint, stopped short of a sudden, sniffed him all over, turned tail, and left him in disgust uneaten.
AND TRANSLATIONS OF TRANSLATIONS
On the title-page of Bibles in current use is the statement “translated out of the original tongues”; but this does not tell the whole or the true story. The first translation of some of the Hebrew Scriptures (for all were not yet written) was the Septuagint into Greek, undertaken at the behest of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, of Egypt, begun at Alexandria about the year 285 B.C., and completed after some three hundred years. In many places this Greek translation differed widely from the Hebrew. About 392 A.D. Jerome made his translation from the Hebrew into Latin, this being the “Vulgate” version, which only gradually made its way into acceptance and suffered so many perversions that it was pronounced by Roger Bacon to be “horribly corrupt”; but it was adopted by the
Council of Trent in 1546 as the “sole authoritative source of quotation; and it [the Council] threatened withpunishment those who presumed to interpret the Scriptures contrary to the sense given them by the Fathers”
(New Int. Encyc., Vol. ]3: p. 251 ).
This Latin Vulgate, Old and New Testaments alike, with the Apocrypha added, was in its turn translated into English in the Douai Catholic version of 1609, thus removed three steps of translation from the Hebrew and two from the Greek. The Protestant versions in English, including the King James version of 1611, are more directly from the Hebrew and Greek texts of the respective Testaments. It is reported that the Tennessee legislator who sponsored the notorious “Anti-evolution” law in that state was greatly surprised to learn, from
the eye-opening revelations of the Scopes trial, that his cherished King James version of Holy Writ, whose precious petrified “Sacred science” he sought to protect from the destroying effects of modern knowledge, was not in the original language of “revelation,” in which Yahveh and the talking snake spoke to Adam and Eve. Some further anomalies and a number of tricks of translation will appear in their due order as we proceed.
WHEN THE BOOKS WERE WRITTEN
It will be of signal value to inquire, for a moment, concerning the periods of time indicated by the Bible, and the times when the principal books of it were written and by whom they were written-oather, as that is the only course possible, to show, negatively, by whom, and when, they were not written. This inquiry will be confined to the “internal evidences” of the Bible texts themselves, with a bit of reference to their marginal editorial annotations. The force of such “internal proofs” is self-evident.
To assist to an easier understanding, take this illustration:
If one picks up a book, a newspaper, a letter, or any piece of written or printed matter which bears no datemark or name of some known writer, one may not be able to ascertain exactly when or by whom it was written or printed. But one can often very readily determine, by the nature of its contents, that it was not written or published until after such or such a known time; and hence that it could not have been written by some person already dead or of one not yet born. If such a document, for instance, contains the name of Julius Caesar or of Jesus Christ, this proves at once that it was written some time within the past 1900-odd years, and not possibly before the advent of these two personages. If it mentions President Washington or some incident of his administration, it is evident that it could not have been written before Washington became President, in 1789; if it mentions Presidents Washington, Lincoln, and Coolidge, it is proof that it was written as late as the date the latter became President.
So of every factual or fanciful allusion-it can go no higher than its source. In a word, we know that no writing can speak as of a matter of fact of any event, person, or thing, until after such event has become an accomplished fact, or such person or thing has existed. No one can to-day write even the name of the President of the United States in the year A.D. 1939. With this simple thumb-rule of ascertaining or approximating the time of production of written documents by what is known as their “internal evidences” we may gather some astonishing proofs as to when, and by whom, sundry inspired records of Holy Writ were not written-contrary to some currently accepted theories.
SOME LIGHTS ON BIBLE CHRONOLOGY
According to the chronology, or time-computations worked out of the Bible narratives (principally by Bishop Usaher) and printed in the margins of all well-edited Bibles, Catholic and Protestant alike, until recent ridicule shamed the Bible editors into quietly dropping them, the world and Man were created by the fiat or by the fingers of the Hebrew God Yahveh about 4004 years before the present so-called Christian Era, not yet two thousand years old; so that the reputed first man, Adam, inhabited the new-made earth slightly less than six
thousand years before the present time. The revelation of this interesting event-which by every token of human knowledge outside the Bible is known not to have occurred just when and how there related-and of many equally accredited events, is recorded (for wonder of mankind) in the first five books of the Bible Genesis to Deuteronomy, called the Pentateuch or Five Books, or, as entitled in the Bible, “The Five Books of Moses.”
Moses is reputed to have written them at the inspiration or by the revelation of Yahveh, the God of Israel. According to the Bible chronology, Moses lived some 1500 years before Christ; the date of his exodus out of Egypt with the Israelites is laid down as the year 1491 Before Christ, or some 2500 years after the Biblical creation of the world. So, if Moses wrote the account of the creation, the fall of man, the flood, and other notable historical events recorded in Genesis, he wrote of things happening, if ever they happened, 2500 years
more or less before his earthly time, and some of them before even man was created on earth; things which Moses of course could not personally have known. But it is explained that while this is true, yet Yahveh inspired Moses with a true knowledge or “revelation” of all those things unknown to him, and so what he wrote was revealed historical fact. This is a matter which will be noticed a little later.
But the Book of Genesis, and all the Five Books of Moses, contain many matters of “revealed” fact which occurred, if ever at all many hundreds of years after the death of Moses. Moses is not technically “numbered among the Prophets,” and he does not claim for himself to have been inspired both backwards and forwards, so as to write both past and future history. It is evident therefore, by every internal and human criterion, that these “five Books of Moses,” containing not only the past events referred to, but many future events-not in form of
prophecy, but as past occurrences — could not have been written by Moses, the principal character of the alleged Exodus and of the forty years’ wandering in the Wilderness of Sin, at the end of which he died. The cardinal significance of this fact, and of others connected with it, as bearing upon the historicity of Mosaic narrative and revelation, will appear in due course.
Indeed, in the light of modern knowledge, it is quite evident that Moses and the “Hebrews” of his supposed time (1500 B.C.) could not write at all; or, if at all, on the theory of their 430 years in Egypt, only in Egyptian hieroglyphs. Not till many centuries later did the Hebrews acquire the art of writing. Professor Breasted, the distinguished Egyptologist of the University of Chicago, points out that to the nomad Hebrews writing was unknown; and that it was not until about the time of Amos (about eight hundred years after Moses) that the Hebrews were just “learning to write”; that “they were now abandoning the clay tablet, and they wrote on papyrus with Egyptian pen and ink. They borrowed their alphabet from the Phoenician and Aramean merchants.” [James H. Breasted, Ancient Times (Boston: Ginn & Co.), see. 305] These Arameans themselves
borrowed the alphabet from the Phoenicians “about 1000 B.C.”; [Op. cit., see. 205.] the Phoenicians had
themselves “devised an alphabet drawn from Egyptian hieroglyphs.” [Op. cit., see. 400; see also Andrew
Norton, The Pentateuch, p. 44.]