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Even Julius Cæsar had noticed that the Britons used either brass money, or iron circular coins reduced to a standard weight. In the scale of civilisation, therefore, the ancient Britons were as advanced in the era of Cæsar, as the Romans themselves at the expulsion of their kings; as the Grecians, in the age of Homer; as the Mexicans, at the Spanish Conquest; and as the modern Tartars.
To The EDITOR OF THE CLASSICAL JOURNAL.
F you think that the following remarks on a passage in Tacitus, and on the calumny of the Asinine Worship of the Jews and primitive Christians, will be acceptable to any of your readers, I shall be obliged to you to insert them in your Journal.
Tacitus, in his History, Lib. 5. after attempting to account for the exodus of the Jews out of Egypt, and their deliverance from perishing by thirst in the desert, adds, “Effigiem animalis, quo monstrante errorem sitimque depulerant, penetrali sacravere;” adopting a calumnious report, which he himself does not appear to have believed, for in the same Book he affirms “Judæi mente sola, unumque numen intelligunt.-Igitur nulla simulacra urbibus suis, nedum templis sunt.” But why did he
. retail an unfounded calumny? Doubtless to depreciate a people, whom he, and his nation hated, on account of the exclusive nature of the religion they professed. Nor was he singular in this aspersion, for Apion had, before him, urged it against
them;' and according to Suidas?, Democritus had trodden in the steps of Apion. There is however a difficulty in accounting for the rise of so odious a charge, as is evident from the diversity of opinion on the subject entertained by the learned. Le Fevres conjectures that the schismatic Temple erected in the province of Heliopolis, in Egypt, being called 'Ovsoữ voos and óviežov; the surrounding Pagans invented the fable, that the Ass ("Ovos) was worshipped there. Relando contends, that the Vase which contained the Manna laid up in the Ark, was of the kind termed *Ovous, and that from the similarity of this word to "Ovos, arose the belief of the Asinine worship of the Jews. The author of the work Laus Asini, believes that Oūgavos was sometimes abbreviated and written Ouvòs, and that the Heathens, either from ignorance or malice, read it Oővos. Thysius“ supposes, that as the ass was appropriated to Bacchus, and the Pagans maintained, from the Institution of the Feast of Tabernacles, &c. that the Jews were worshippers of the Drunken God; the report might spread that they were adorers of the ass itself. Dilherrus’ believes that the calumny arose from misunderstanding the 24th verse of the 36th chapter of Genesis, where the
-may be rendered according as they are dife ,את-הימים Words
rently pointed, either Mules, or Waters. Jurieus apprehends that he has adopted the most probable opinion, by assuming that the Pagans mistook one of the Faces of the Cherubim, particularly that of the Ox, for that of an Ass. Whilst the modest and profoundly learned Bochart' thinks it not improbable that the foolish story arose from the frequent use in the Hebrew Scriptures of the words 710' , which, when pronounced Pi Jao, are in sound similar to the Coptic IIIEN an ass; and that on this circumstance Apion founded the calumny.
Joseph. contra Apion.
2 Suid. Lex. sub voce 'Ioudalos. 3 Jurieu Hist. des Dogmes, Part 4me. Chap. 4. * Apud Saurin Discours Historiques, ac Tom. 2. Disc. 50. p. 150. 8vo. Edit.
5 Bochart Hieroz. Lib. 2. Cap. 18. Tom. 1. 6 A. Thysii Exercitationes Miscellaneæ, apud Crénii Fascic. Tom. 4. Exerc. 9. 7 Dilherri Farrago, apud Crenii Fascic. Tom. 8. Cap. 13.
8 Jurieu Hist. des Dogmes, Pt. 4. Ch. 4. p. 748.
9 Bochart Hieroz. Lib. %. Cap. 18. Tom. 1. Edit. Lond. Vol. IV.-No. vii.
Among so many discordant, and well defended opinions, it is not easy to decide which ought to be preferred. Instead of adopting any, one to the exclusion of the rest, I would rather suppose that the report was raised and gained strength by the combined influence of most or all of these causes; to which may be added another from the language of the Prophetic Scriptures. I particularly allude to the memorable prophecy of Zechariah, chap. ix. ver. 9. “ Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout,
. . O daughter of Jerusalem : behold, thy King cometh unto thee; he is just and having salvation, lowly, and riding upon an Ass, and upon a Colt the Foal of an Ass.” This prophecy was one which the Jews regarded with peculiar attention, referring it to the Messiah, and frequently dwelling upon the circumstance of his riding upon an Ass, as a proof of his humility. We find therefore the Talmudists endeavouring to reconcile what they corsidered as a discordancy in their Scriptures; for in Sanhed, cap. xi. fol. 98. it is said,' “ Rabbi Josuem filius Levi objecit,
. scriptum est de Messiâ. Dan. cap. vii. ver. 13. ' Et ecce cuin nubibus coeli, sicut filius hominis venit. At Zachar. cap. ix. ver. 9. de eodem scriptum est. Pauper et insidens asino.' Resp. Si Israelitæ digni sunt, veniet cum nubibus coeli; si non sunt digni, veniet pauper, et asino insidens." The Rabbins have also fabled that the Ass, upon which the Messiah will ride, will be one with a thousand excellencies, and the same on which Abraham and the Prophets formerly rode. From this frequent writing and speaking of the Ass, the Heathens were probably confirmed in their foolish opinion that the stupid animal was an object of adoration among the Jews.
When Christianity began to be preached, the slander raised at first against the Jews was readily transferred to the Christians, by the opponents of the Gospel. Gronovius: indeed supposes that the calumny against 'the Christians might originate in having their houses ornamented with paintings of Christ's entry into Jerusalem ; and Lord Hailes affirms, we are “indebted
• Bochart Hieroz. Lib. 2. Cap. 27. 2 Buxtorf Lex. Talmud. sub voce 783. Relandi Dissert. Miscell. pars altera, Dissert 9. p. 288, sub voce 7177. *
3 Minuc. Felix, cum not. var. Davisii, p. 56. n. 7.
* Dalrymple's Octavius, p. 143. note.
to Celsus for the discovery of the origin of a tale, at which Tertullian could only guess, and which was unknown to Minu
cius." I confess, however, I see nothing in the paintings of Christ's entry into Jerusalem, or in the fanciful scheme of Celsus, of Seven Celestial Intelligences, worshipped by the Christians, of which the Seventh bore the countenance of an Ass, that can justify the supposition of either of them being the cause of the detestable accusation against the followers of Christ. But it is well known that the Christians and Jews were frequently confounded with each other by their Pagan adversaries. Suetonius, when speaking of the reign of Claudius,' says, “ Judæos impulsore Chresto assiduè tumultuantes Româ expulit.” Chrestus, being thus spelt for Christus, from the Greeks sometimes spelling the word with a diphthong? Xpsíotos: agreeably to the words of Lactantius, Quidam Christum, immutatâ litera, soliti sunt dicere Chrestum. Dio also in the Life of Domitian, speaking of Acilius Glabrio, a man of consular dignity, says he was accused of Atheism, and put to death for turving to the Jewish religion; which, as Baronius observes, (An. 94. n. 1.) must mean the Christian Religion, for which he was a martyr. Spartian also informs us that Caracalla's playfellow. was of the Jewish religion ;' though it is certain he was a Christian, since Tertullian assures us that Caracalla was nursed by a Christian, for after naming Proculus, a Christian, the steward of Euhodus, he adds,“ “ Quem et Antoninus optimè noverat, lacte. Christiano educatus." The Jews and Christians being thus considered by their enemies, as professors of the same religion, nothing less could be expected, than that what was urged to depreciate the one, would be equally urged to injure the other, and both be liable to the same calumnies and injurious representations.
I Suet. Claud. c. 25.
Aug. de Civit. Dei. 3 Lactant. lib. de verà sapientia, cap. 7. and Hottingeri Éccles. Hist. t. 1. c. 1. $ 3. p. 37.
4 Bingham's Antiquities of the Christian Church. Vol. 1. § 10. p. 11. 8vo. Edit.
$ Spart. in Caracal. c. 1.
POEMA NUMISMATE ANNUO DIGNATUM, ET IN
CURIA CANTABRIGIENSI RECITATUM.
In obitum illustrissimæ Principissæ AMELIÆ.
FELIX ah! si longa dies, si cernere vultus
Stat. Sylv, iii. 3. 124.
EIEN ών· βέβακεν ενερτέρων γάν
αλλά μαν ου τούνομ’ όμως όλείται,
ευκλεής το δήν. Επί παττάλοισιν,