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When Were Our Gospels Written?   By: (1833-1891)

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By Charles Bradlaugh

[Fourth Edition]

London: Freethought Publishing Company, 28, Stonecutter Street E.C.



Printed By Annie Besant And Charles Bradlaugh,

28, Stonecutter Street, E.C.


Since this pamphlet was originally penned in 1867, the author of "Supernatural Religion" has in his three volumes placed a very storehouse of information within the easy reach of every student, and many of Dr. Teschendorf's reckless statements have been effectively dealt with in that masterly work. In the present brief pamphlet there is only the very merest index to matters which in "Supernatural Religion" are exhaustively treated. Part II. of "The Freethinkers' Text Book," by Mrs Besant, has travelled over the same ground with much care, and has given exact reference to authorities on each point.

The Religious Tract Society, some time since, issued, prefaced with their high commendation, a translation of a pamphlet by Dr. Constantine Tischendorf, entitled "When were our Gospels Written?" In the introductory preface we are not unfairly told that "on the credibility of the four Gospels the whole of Christianity rests, as a building on its foundations." It is proposed in this brief essay to deal with the character of Dr. Tischendorf's advocacy, then to examine the genuineness of the four Gospels, as affirmed by the Religious Tract Society's pamphlet, and at the same time to ascertain, so far as is possible in the space, how far the Gospel narrative is credible.

The Religious Tract Society state that Dr. Tischendorf's brochure is a repetition of "arguments for the genuineness and authenticity of the four Gospels," which the erudite Doctor had previously published for the learned classes, "with explanations" now given in addition, to render the arguments "intelligible" to meaner capacities; and as the "Infidel" and "Deist" are especially referred to as likely to be overthrown by this pamphlet, we may presume that the society considers that in the 119 pages which the translated essay occupies they have presented the best paper that can be issued on their behalf for popular reading on this question. The praise accorded by the society, and sundry laudations appropriated with much modesty in his own preface by Dr. Constantine Tischendorf to himself, compel one at the outset to regard the Christian manifesto as a most formidable production. The Society's translator impressively tells us that the pamphlet has been three times printed in German and twice in France; that it has been issued in Dutch and Russian, and is done into Italian by an Archbishop with the actual approbation of the Pope. The author's preface adds an account of his great journeyings and heavy travelling expenses incurred out of an original capital of a "few unpaid bills," ending in the discovery of a basketful of old parchments destined for the flames by the Christian monks in charge, but which from the hands of Dr. Teschendorf are used by the Religious Tract Society to neutralise all doubts, and to "blow to pieces" the Rationalistic criticism of Germany and the coarser Infidelity of England. Doubtless Dr. Teschendorf and the Society consider it some evidence in favor of the genuineness and authenticity of the four Gospels that the learned Doctor was enabled to spend 5,000 dollars out of less than nothing, and that the Pope regards his pamphlet with favor, or they would not trouble to print such statements. We frankly accord them the full advantage of any argument which may fairly be based on such facts. An autograph letter of endorsement by the Pope is certainly a matter which a Protestant Tract Society who regard "the scarlet whore at Babylon" with horror may well be proud of.

Dr. Tischendorf states that he has since 1839 devoted himself to the textual study of the New Testament, and it ought to be interesting to the orthodox to know that, as a result of twenty seven years' labor, he now declares that "it has been placed beyond doubt that the original text... Continue reading book >>

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