“Matthew and Luke,” said Scaurus, “go even beyond Mark in the inculcation
of a doctrine, beautiful after a fashion, but unjust, and impracticable.
Mark says, ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself.’ Surely, that is as far as
reason can let us go. I should say it is farther. But Matthew and Luke
say, ‘Love your enemies.’ Now I can recall one passage where Epictetus
says that the Cynic must love the men that thrash him, but I am sure that
his general view is this, ‘The man that treats me thus behaves like a
beast, or like a mere scourge in the hand of Zeus, whose pleasure it is
thus to try me. How can I hate a beast? Or how can I hate a scourge?’”

Then, after reminding me how he had declared that Epictetus borrowed from
the Christians, he said, “This, I think, is an instance. The Christian
really loves the beast-like man because he believes the man to be made
in the image of God and degraded by Satan. The Christian really pities
him; he is troubled for the man’s sake. Christ says ‘Pray for him’;
and the Christian honestly prays, ‘This man is behaving like a beast.
God help him!’ The Epictetian does not recognise prayer or pity; he
recognises his own peace of mind as God’s supreme gift. ‘This man,’ he
says, ‘is behaving like a beast. But it is no evil to me. I must see that
it does not interfere with my peace of mind. I must beware of pitying
him.’ Elsewhere Epictetus says that when you are reviled you are to
make yourself a ‘stone,’ whereas Christ says, ‘Bless them that curse
you.’ This exceptional sentence, then, in which Epictetus speaks about
‘loving one’s cudgellers’ appears to me a case where our friend, while
cutting away the Christian foundation, has tried to keep the Christian
superstructure. Perhaps the view of Epictetus (at all events in word and
in appearance) is somewhat selfish. But certainly the Christian precept
is contrary to justice and common sense. One ought no more to love the
wicked than to admire the ugly.”

This seemed at first convincing, or, at all events, overpowering. But he
went on to connect it with the doctrine of forgiveness, which Matthew
and Luke included in the Lord’s Prayer. “This doctrine,” said Scaurus,
“I have mentioned above, as being in Mark, although he does not give
the Lord’s Prayer. It is, in fact, intended by Christ to be the very
basis of his community. Now of course, Silanus, you and I and all
reasonable people are agreed that we ought to be patient, and equable,
and to condone faults to our equals, and not to lose our temper with our
inferiors, if (as Epictetus says) a slave ‘brings us vinegar instead of
oil.’ And a magnanimous man will put up with much greater offences than
these, sometimes with injustice or fraud, sometimes even with insults,
if he feels that his honour is not touched by them, or that society does
not require a prosecution of the offence. But there is all the world of
difference between this—which any gentleman would do, philosopher or no
philosopher—and the extraordinary dishonesty—for I can call it by no
other name—reduced to a system by the Christians, of ‘letting people off’
in the hope that God may ‘let you off.’ I do not want to be ‘let off’ by
God. I should prefer to say (as Epictetus says to the tyrant) ‘If it seem
advisable, punish me’.”

As soon as Scaurus used this argument, I perceived that he confused the
remission of penalty with the forgiveness of sin, that power of “bearing
the burdens” of others, and of “restoring” others, which, as I have shewn
above, Paul recognised as a fact and which Paul made me recognise as a
fact, though a very mysterious fact. Hence, reasoning backward, I saw
that this faculty of discerning the image of God in the most sinful of
sinners, and of pitying the sinner, yes, and even of loving him, might
belong to God Himself, and to men in so far as they are like God. If so,
the existence of this power of loving one’s enemies was a reality, just
as the power of forgiving was a reality. “Scaurus himself,” I said, “has
and uses this power. He often sees good in people where most men would
fail to see it. He likes those in whom others see nothing to like. I can
conceive that a Son of God might not only possess but impart a power of
this kind, increased to such a degree that it might be justly called a
new power.”

“The curious thing,” said Scaurus, “about this doctrine of loving and
forgiving is this. Although it appears unpractical and paradoxical,
yet the ‘kingdom’ (to use the Christian word) based on this doctrine
is, I must confess, not unpractical at all, but on the contrary a very
solid and inconvenient fact in a great number of our largest cities and
among the poorest and most squalid of the populace. Note the difference
between the kingdom of the Christian and that of the Stoic. The Christian
missionary cries aloud like a herald, ‘Repent ye; the kingdom of God
is at hand,’ the Cynic says ‘_I am a king_,’ or—to quote Epictetus
exactly—‘Which of you, having seen me, does not recognise in me his
natural king and master?’ The former prays, and teaches his proselytes
to pray, looking up to a God in heaven, ‘Thy kingdom come’; the latter
neither prays nor enjoins prayer of any kind.

“I suppose no Greek or Roman philosopher would apply the title of king
to God quite as freely and naturally as Hebrew and Jewish writers do;
for when we Romans say ‘king,’ we think of ‘tyrant.’ But apart from that
(which is only a superficial difference of word) our philosophers have
little or none of that expectation which underlies the words ‘Thy kingdom
come.’ The Christians assert (supported by Matthew and Luke) that Christ
himself taught them to pray thus. They anticipate a new kingdom—new
family, if you prefer the term—where all the world will be brothers and
sisters doing the will of the Father. When they pray ‘Thy kingdom come,’
they mean ‘Thy will be done.’ Indeed Matthew has inserted ‘Thy will be
done’ in his version of the Lord’s Prayer. Perhaps it was a paraphrase,
which Luke has rejected because it was not a part of the original. But
in any case, ‘Thy will be done’ is well adapted to make the meaning of
‘kingdom’ clear in the churches of the west. If a Christian philosopher
were to write a gospel, I should not wonder if he were to go still
further and drop the word ‘kingdom’ altogether, because it is calculated
to give a false impression to all that are unacquainted with the Hebrew
or Jewish method of speech.” Scaurus was nearly right here. When I came
to study the fourth gospel, I found that Jesus is represented as never
using the word except in explanations to Nicodemus and Pilate.

“Now,” said Scaurus, “I do not deny that there are advantages in this
scheme of a kingdom over the whole world, where the king is not a despot
but a beneficent ruler to whom all may feel heartily and permanently
loyal. _As compared with Christ_, such Epictetian ‘kings’ as Socrates,
Diogenes, and Zeno, pass before us like solitary champions, fighting, so
to speak, each for his own hand. Or we may liken them to torchbearers,
lighting up the darkness for a time but not succeeding in transmitting
the torch to a successor. They depart. There is a momentary wake of
light. It disappears. Then we have to wait for a new torchbearer, or a
new champion; and the fighting, or the torch-waving, has to begin all
over again. Take notice of my qualification—‘as compared with Christ.’
Even thus qualified, perhaps my remarks about Socrates are too strong.
For assuredly his light has not gone out. But to tell the truth, resuming
my study of these half-forgotten gospels in the light of Paul’s epistles,
I find myself sometimes admiring rather to excess that visionary
letter-writer and practical church-builder. Our philosophers do not
consolidate a kingdom. The Christians do. I am impressed by what Paul
calls somewhere their ‘solid phalanx.’ There is something about it that I
cannot quite fathom.”

I too was impressed by Scaurus’s confession that he had somewhat changed
his mind about the gospels in consequence of Paul’s epistles. It seemed
to me to explain some inconsistencies in his letters. Also I noted that
Paul’s phrase was “the solid phalanx _of your faith_,” and that perhaps
“_faith_” explained “_phalanx_.” Scaurus now passed to the doctrine of
New Birth. “I call it thus,” said he, “for brevity. Mark expresses it
ambiguously, saying that no man can enter into the kingdom unless he
receives it ‘as a little child.’ Now this might mean ‘as he receives a
little child.’ And this interpretation is rather favoured by the fact
that, somewhat earlier, Mark has a doctrine about ‘receiving one of such
little children.’ I suspect some mystical doctrine is concealed in Mark.
But Matthew has, ‘unless ye turn and become as little children.’ There
is no mistaking that. Now I say, in the first place, this is impossible;
in the second place, it is wrong. First, it is impossible. The Father of
heaven, says Horace, may send fair weather to-day and foul tomorrow. But
not even He—

‘⸺ diffinget infectumque reddet
Quod fugiens simul hora vexit.’

You must agree with me. Jupiter cannot cause what has been done to have
been not done. In the next place, it is wrong. A full-grown man has no
right to divest himself of full-grown faculties. How much better is the
doctrine of Epictetus, ‘My friend, you have fallen down. Get up. Try
again.’ This is possible. This is encouraging. But tell the same man,
‘Become a little child,’ ‘Be born again’! He will think you are playing
the fool with him.”

I wondered why Scaurus did not see that here again he was inconsistent.
He had forgotten the admissions he had made in view of Paul’s epistles.
In the cities of Asia and Greece, some of the vilest among the vile had
been told by Paul, “You must become new creatures in Christ,” “You must
die to sin and rise again to righteousness.” They did not “think he was
playing the fool.” They had (as Scaurus confessed) been morally “born
again.” Moreover Paul had met his objection as to “full-grown faculties”
by saying, “Be ye babes in respect of malice, but in understanding be
full-grown men.” Still I was sorry that the gospels had expressed this
obscurely. Neither of us had as yet read the fourth gospel. That makes
the doctrine quite clear by shewing that what is needed is not to be
“born over again”—for one might be “born over again” ten times worse than
one was before—but to be “born _from above_.” This was quite different
from “causing what has been done to have been not done.” It meant
“created anew,” or “reshaped,” so that the Spirit of Christ, within
the Christian, dominated the flesh. Both here and elsewhere, Scaurus’s
criticisms would have been very different, if he had known the fourth

“The next point to be considered,” said Scaurus, “is the laws for the new
kingdom. Matthew has grouped together a collection of precepts as a code.
Some of these contrast what ‘has been said,’ or ‘has been said to men of
old,’ with what Christ now says. Apparently Matthew intended this code
of laws (uttered, he says, on a ‘mountain’) to correspond to the code
promulgated on Mount Sinai. But Luke (who by the way omits the ‘mountain’
and makes the scene ‘a place on the plain’) while giving many of these
precepts, scatters them about his gospel specifying various occasions on
which several of them were uttered; and he never inserts the contrasting
clause above-mentioned. The conclusion I draw is, that Christ promulgated
no law at all. Law deals almost exclusively with actions. Christ dealt
almost exclusively with motives, as the last of the Ten Commandments
does. When Christ inculcates actions, they are often metaphorical or
hyperbolical, as when he says, ‘If you are struck on one cheek, turn the
other to the striker,’ ‘Let not your right hand know what your left hand
does,’ ‘If a man takes your cloak, give him your coat too,’ and, ‘If
anyone wants to make you go a mile with him, go two miles,’—to which last
precept, by the way, Epictetus would say, No.”

I think Scaurus was referring to a passage where Epictetus said,
“Diogenes, if you seized any possession of his, would sooner give it
up to you than follow you on account of it.” Scaurus went on to say,
“Matthew’s habit of grouping sentences makes it difficult to distinguish
sayings uttered before the resurrection from those uttered after it. For
example, he speaks of a power of ‘binding and loosing’ given to Peter, in
connexion with a mention of the ‘church.’ On another occasion, a similar
power is given to the other disciples, again in connexion with the
‘church.’ Now this ‘binding and loosing’ is not mentioned by any other
evangelist. What does it mean? And when was this saying uttered?

“My rabbi tells me that ‘binding and loosing’ is regularly used by
the Jews to indicate that a rabbi ‘forbids’ or ‘sanctions’ a certain
action—for example, the eating of a particular food. Thus in the Acts of
the Apostles, the Lord would be said by the Jews to ‘loose’ the eating of
food that was before unclean, saying to Peter, ‘Arise, kill and eat.’ And
I can conceive that a gospel might describe Jesus as saying to Peter, ‘I
give thee this power of loosing unclean food, that thou and the rest of
my disciples may henceforth eat with the Gentiles, and in their houses,
asking no questions concerning the food.’ But I do not myself believe
that Christ used the phrase ‘bind and loose’ in this sense. I think he
connected it with that strange doctrine of forgiveness of sins on which
he laid so much stress, and that it was uttered after the resurrection,
when the term ‘church’ might be more naturally used.” Scaurus was so far
right in this that I afterwards found in the fourth gospel a doctrine,
not indeed about “binding and loosing,” but about “imprisoning and
loosing” or “arresting and loosing”; and this was connected with “sins,”
and Christ gave this power to the disciples after the resurrection.

Scaurus continued, “Look at Matthew’s words in one of these passages,
‘But if he refuse to hear the church, let him be unto thee as the heathen
and the publican,’ and then, at some interval, ‘Where two or three are
gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.’ Then look
at the last words of Matthew’s gospel, uttered after the resurrection,
‘Behold I am with you always.’ Does not the saying, ‘I am there in the
midst of you when you are gathered together,’ come more appropriately
from Christ, appearing after the resurrection, than from Christ before
the resurrection? I think so. The context indicates a tradition of some
utterance made after the resurrection, conveyed through some apostle
in a Jewish form, promising Christ’s presence to the disciples. Paul
assumes such a presence, writing to the Corinthians ‘When ye are gathered
together, and my spirit, together with the power of the Lord Jesus
Christ, to deliver over such a one to Satan.’ These last words about
‘Satan’ I do not profess to comprehend fully; but they seem to me to
imply the opposite of ‘loosing’—some kind of’ ‘binding’ or ‘remanding to
prison.’ And it is to take place in the presence of Christ, with Paul’s
spirit, when the church of Corinth is ‘gathered together’.”

I thought Scaurus was probably right as to the date of this promise.
But I was much more impressed by what he said concerning the tradition,
in Luke, “_Eat those things that are served up to you_.” This, in Luke,
was almost meaningless to me, but it had been full of meaning in Paul’s
epistle to the Corinthians, where the apostle spoke about meat sold in
Gentile markets: “If an unbeliever invites you, and ye desire to accept,
_eat everything that is served up to you, asking no questions_.”

Scaurus said, “This tradition about ‘_eating what is served up_’ occurs
nowhere in the gospels except in Luke’s account of the sending of
the Seventy, beginning, ‘After these things the Lord appointed other
seventy.’ Now this word ‘_appoint_’ does not in the least necessitate the
conclusion that Christ appointed the Seventy before the resurrection.
Look at the ‘_appointment_’ of the thirteenth apostle in the place of
Judas. The Acts says ‘Lord, _appoint_ him whom thou hast chosen.’ Then
Matthias is ‘_appointed_.’ The Lord is supposed to ‘_appoint_’ him in
answer to the prayer. Concerning this, Luke might say, ‘_After these
things the Lord appointed Matthias_.’ If these words had been inserted
in the gospel, they would have given the false impression that Jesus,
while living, had appointed Matthias. Well, that is just the impression—a
false one—that Luke gives as to the ‘_appointment_’ of the Seventy. The
fact is that the Seventy (a number often used by the Jews to denote
all the nations or languages of the world) represent the missionaries
_‘appointed’ after the Lord’s death to go to the cities of the Gentiles
to prepare them for the Coming of the Lord from heaven_. These were
to go into the houses of Gentiles. Though Jews, they were to eat of
Gentile food—‘_everything that is served up_.’ Without this explanation,
the tradition has no meaning—or, if any, an unworthy one, ‘Do not be
fastidious. If you cannot have pleasant food, eat unpleasant food.’
This seems to me absurd. But with this explanation, the precept becomes
intelligible and necessary.”

This convinced me. Moreover Luke’s use of “the Lord,” for “Jesus”—since
“the Lord” would be more likely to be used than “Jesus” after the
resurrection—seemed slightly to favour Scaurus’s conclusion. He passed
next to a tradition of Matthew’s about abstinence from marriage “for
the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” On this he said, “Looking at Paul’s
advice to the Corinthians about celibacy and marriage, and at the
distinction he draws between ‘advice,’ and ‘allowance’ and ‘command,’
and ‘not I but the Lord,’ I am convinced that Paul spoke on his own
responsibility, except as to Christ’s insistence on the old tradition in
Genesis, ‘The two shall be one flesh.’ I mean that Christ upheld monogamy
against polygamy and against that modified form of polygamy which arose
from the husband’s unrestricted, or scarcely restricted, right of
divorce. Soon after the resurrection, in the midst of persecutions, when
the Christians expected that Christ might speedily return and carry them
up to heaven, it was natural that the Corinthians should apply for advice
to Paul, and other churches to other apostles.

“My belief is that Christ’s words extended to only the first half of
Matthew’s tradition. The disciples complain, in effect, ‘If a man cannot
divorce his wife when he dislikes her, it is best not to marry.’ To
this Christ replies, as I interpret him, ‘Not all grasp the mystery of
the true marriage contemplated from the beginning (namely, “the two
shall become one”) but only those to whom it is given.’ This seems to
me to have been explained in a wrong sense in the words that follow
about ‘eunuchs.’ At all events, Paul twice quotes the words quoted
by Christ (about the ‘two’ becoming ‘one’) as though they were the
basis of his doctrine about marriage and also a type of the mysterious
wedlock between Christ and the church. I do not think, however, that
any confident conclusion is deducible. Christ elsewhere indicates—when
dealing with an imaginary case where a woman has married seven brothers
consecutively—that the marriage tie does not extend to the next life. By
the Jews, marriage is, and was, regarded as honourable, and almost as a
duty. But a Jewish sect called the Essenes, or some of them, practised
celibacy; and you know how Epictetus inculcates celibacy on his Cynics
of the first class. These facts, and the pressure of hard times, and
Paul’s example, may not only have favoured abstinence from marriage among
Christians but also have favoured some tampering with tradition in order
to enjoin celibacy. A letter to Timothy speaks of certain heretics as
‘forbidding to marry.’ Perhaps the only safe conclusion about Matthew’s
tradition is that no conclusion can be deduced from it.”

Scaurus next discussed the question whether Christ inculcated poverty
on his disciples. He denied it. Not that he denied Luke to be more
correct verbally in saying “Blessed are _the poor_” than Matthew in
“Blessed are _the poor in spirit_.” But he asserted that Christ meant
“_poor in spirit_.” Similarly (said Scaurus) Christ meant “hungering
_after righteousness_,” as Matthew says, though Luke was right verbally
in omitting “after righteousness.” For, according to Scaurus, “Christ
hardly ever used such words as ‘bread,’ ‘leaven,’ ‘water,’ ‘hunger,’
‘thirst,’ ‘fire,’ ‘salt,’ ‘treasure,’ and so on, except metaphorically.”
Then he quoted the following instance out of Mark’s version of Christ’s
instructions to the twelve apostles, where, he said, Mark’s metaphors had
been misunderstood literally—and consequently altered—by Matthew and Luke.

“Mark,” said he, “has, ‘that they should take nothing for the journey,
_save a staff only_, no bread, no wallet, no money for the purse.’
Matthew and Luke have ‘_no staff_.’ Now turn to Genesis, where Jacob
thanks God for helping him on his journey, ‘I passed over Jordan with
_my staff_.’ He _means_, ‘with _my staff only_.’ Philo explains this
‘_staff_’ metaphorically, as ‘training,’ _i.e._ the instruction or
guidance given by God. David says to God, ‘Thy rod and _thy staff_ are
my help,’ or words to that effect—manifest metaphor. My rabbi shewed me
a Jewish paraphrase of Jacob’s words, ‘I had neither gold, nor silver,
nor herds, but _simply my staff_.’ He also told me that this ‘_staff_’
was supposed by the Jews to have been given by God to Adam from whom it
descended to the patriarchs in succession. This shews that Jews might
find no difficulty in Christ’s metaphor, ‘Go forth with _nothing but
a staff_,’ _i.e._ the staff of Jacob, the rod and staff of God. But
Greeks and Romans would naturally take the word literally as meaning
‘walking-stick.’ Then they would find a difficulty, asking, ‘Why should
Jesus say, _No bread, no wallet—only a walking-stick_?’ Hence many,
writing largely for Gentiles, might alter it into ‘_no walking-stick_.’
This is what Matthew and Luke have done. Similarly they altered Mark’s
metaphor ‘_but shod with sandals_,’ _i.e._ with light shoes fit for the
‘beautiful feet’ of the preachers of the gospel, into ‘_no boots_,’ or
words to that effect. The error is the same. Jewish metaphor has been in
each case taken literally by Matthew and Luke.”

Scaurus added a few remarks on Christ as a historical character, “dimly
traceable,” he said, “in the combined testimony of Mark, Matthew, and
Luke”—where I thought he might have added, “and in the epistles of
Paul.” His main thought was that, in spite of all the defects of these
three writers, it was possible to discern in Christ a successor of Moses
and Isaiah. “This man,” said Scaurus, “may be regarded in two aspects.
As a lawgiver, he took as the basis of his republic a re-enactment,
in a stronger form, of the two ancient laws that enjoined love of the
Father and love of the brethren. As a prophet, he saw a time when all
mankind—recognising in one another (man in man and nation in nation) some
glimpse of the divine image, and of the beauty of divine holiness—would
beat their swords into ploughshares, and go up to the City of peace,
righteousness, and truth, to worship the Father of the spirits of all
flesh. Isaiah had foreseen this. But this prophet was also possessed with
a belief, beyond Isaiah’s, in the unity of God and man. He was persuaded
that the true Son of man was the Son of God, higher than the heavens.
I think also that he trusted—but on what grounds I do not know, unless
it was an ingrained prophetic belief, found in all the great prophets,
carried to its highest point in this prophet—that, as light follows on
darkness, so does joy on sorrow, righteousness on sin, and life on death.
A Stoic would say that these things alternate and that all things go
round. But this Jewish prophet believed that all things in the end would
go up—up to heaven. That is how I read his expectation. Feeling himself
to be one with God, he placed no limits, except God’s will, to the mighty
works that God might do for him in his attempt to fulfil God’s purpose
of exalting men from darkness to light and from death to life.

“It is in some of these mysterious aspirations,” said Scaurus, “that I
cannot follow this prophet of the Jews. At times he seems to me to act
and speak (certainly Paul speaks thus) as though God had caused mankind
to take (if I may say so) one disease in order to get rid of another.
I am speaking of moral disease. God seems to Paul to have allowed
man to contract the disease of sin in order to rise to a health of
righteousness, higher than would have been possible if he had not sinned.
On these and other mystical notions this Jewish prophet may perhaps base
views of forgiveness, and of love, and of the efficacy of his own death
for his disciples, all of which perplex me. Sometimes I reject them
entirely. Sometimes I am in doubt.” These last words of Scaurus seemed
to me to explain many inconsistencies in his letters. But how could I be
surprised? Was I consistent myself? Was not my own mind at that instant
fluctuating like a very Euripus? I could understand his doubts only too

He concluded by contrasting Christ with John the Baptist. “The one
point,” said Scaurus, “in which these two prophets or reformers agreed,
was that the Lord God would intervene for the people, if only the people
would return to Him. But in other respects they appear to me to have
altogether differed. John the Baptist seems to have desired to bring
about a remission of debts in accordance with the Law of Moses, as
insisted on by previous prophets. He also desired an equalisation of
property. That is what I gather from the gospels themselves, interpreted
in the light of the ancient Law of the Jews. Moreover Josephus told me
that Herod the tetrarch put John to death on political grounds, because
he seemed likely to stir up the people to sedition, nor did he ever
mention the influence of Herodias as contributing to the prophet’s
execution. Of course the story about the dancing and the oath may be
true, and yet the oath may have been a mere excuse for getting rid of an
inconvenient person. John was not unwilling (as I gather) to resort to
the sword of Gideon or the fire of Elijah if the word of the gospel did
not suffice to establish the new kingdom.

“Jesus, on the other hand, was absolutely averse to violence. Jesus was
penetrated with the belief in the power of ‘little ones’ and ‘babes’ and
‘sucklings.’ How far he anticipated the future in store for himself I
cannot say. Sometimes I am inclined to believe that he thought God would
intervene at the last moment and deliver him from the jaws of death.
Sometimes he seems to have deliberately faced death with the conviction
that he would be swallowed up by it for a short time, emerging from it to

“The Baptist certainly expected to be delivered by Jesus from the prison
in which he was being kept by Antipas, and to have been disappointed
by his friend’s inaction. It must have been a very bitter moment for
the latter when John sent to reproach him, as good as saying, ‘Are you,
too, a false Messiah? Will you leave me to perish in prison? Are you
really our Deliverer, or must we, the whole nation, turn from you as a
laggard, and wait for another?’ In my opinion, this was the very greatest
temptation to which Jesus was exposed. In that moment—as I judge when
I try to guess the eastern metaphor corresponding to western fact—Jews
would say that Satan said to Christ ‘Worship me, and I will give you the
empire of the world,’ or ‘Take the risk! Throw yourself down from the
pinnacle! See whether God will save you!’ In plain words, the temptation
was, ‘Appeal to the God of battles! Rouse the people to arms, first
against Antipas, and then against the Romans!’ For a perfectly unselfish
and noble nature, believing in divine interventions, this must indeed
have been a great, a very great temptation.”

Scaurus finished this part of his letter by quoting a passage that I had
long had in mind, but I had forgotten its context, “Do you remember,
Silanus, how the old Egyptian priest says in the Timaeus, ‘Solon, Solon,
you Greeks are always boys’? Then comes the reason, ‘_You have not in
your souls any ancient belief based on tradition from the days of old_.’
Well, we Romans are in the same position as the poor Greeks. So are the
Egyptians for the matter of that. For it is not antiquity alone, but
_divine_ antiquity, that counts. None of us have this divine antiquity
of ‘tradition from the days of old’ going back to such characters as
Abraham, Moses, and the prophets. I think we must put up with our
inferiority. These things we had better leave to others. We have, as
Virgil says, ‘arts’ of our own, the arts of war and empire. There, we
are men, full-grown men. But as compared with Moses, Isaiah, and above
all with this Jesus, or Christ, I must frankly confess I sometimes feel
myself a ‘boy,’ and never so much as now. My conclusion is, _I will keep
to the things in which I am not a ‘boy.’_ Do you the same.”

Passing next to the subject of Christ’s resurrection, “To deal first,”
said Scaurus, “with Christ’s alleged predictions that he would ‘rise
again,’ what strikes me as the strangest point in them is his frequent
mention of being ‘_betrayed_.’ For the rest, if Jesus believed himself to
be the Messiah or Christ—as I think he did, if not at first, yet soon—or
even if he did not believe himself to be the Christ, but thought that
he was to reform the nation, I can well understand that he adopted the
language of one of their prophets, Hosea by name, who says, ‘Come and
let us return unto the Lord … he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
After two days will he revive us. On the third day he will raise us up,
and we shall live in his sight.’ Using such language as this, a later
Jewish prophet, such as Christ, might lead his followers up to Jerusalem
at the Passover, not knowing whether he should live or die, but convinced
that the Lord would work some deliverance for Israel. And the predictions
of ‘scourging,’ and ‘smiting,’ and ‘spitting,’ I could also understand,
as coming from the prophets. But ‘betrayal’ is not mentioned by the
prophets, and I cannot understand its insertion here.”

With this I have dealt above, and with the double sense of the word
meaning “deliver over” and “betray.” I now found that the evangelists
sometimes apply the word to the act of Judas the betrayer (because by his
betrayal Christ was “delivered over” to the Jews); and Scaurus regarded
it as meaning “betray” here. I could not however believe that Jesus,
when predicting His death, used the word in the sense “_betray_.” It
seemed to me that He predicted that His end would be like that of the
Suffering Servant in Isaiah, namely, that He would be “_delivered over_”
as a ransom for the sins of the people by the will of His Father. Long
afterwards, I found that, whereas the Greek in Isaiah has “_delivered
over for_,” the Hebrew has “_make intercession for_.” Then I saw, even
more clearly than before, the reason why Christ may have often repeated
this prediction, if He foresaw that His death would “make intercession”
for the people. The evangelists rendered this so that it might be
mistaken for “would be betrayed.” But Paul made the matter clear.

Scaurus added that the rising again was predicted as about to occur,
sometimes “on the third day,” as in Hosea, but sometimes “after three
days,” corresponding to a period of three days and three nights spent by
Jonah (according to a strange Hebrew legend) in a whale’s belly. And he
also said, “Mark and Matthew represent Jesus as saying, concerning what
he would do after death, ‘I will go before you _to Galilee_.’ But Luke
omits these words. Later on, after the resurrection, Mark and Matthew
again mention this prediction; but there Luke has ‘remember that which
he said to you _while yet in Galilee_.’ My rabbi tells me that the words
‘to Galilee’ might easily be confused with other expressions having quite
a different meaning. This seems to me probable, but into these details
I cannot now enter. I take it, however, that Luke knew Mark’s tradition
‘_to Galilee_,’ and rejected it as erroneous. Matthew also says that
certain women, meeting Jesus after death, ‘took hold of his feet,’ and
Jesus sent word by them to the disciples to ‘depart _into Galilee_.’ Here
you see ‘_Galilee_’ again. But this tradition is not in any other gospel.
Luke makes no mention of any appearance in _Galilee_.”

These discrepancies about “Galilee” might have interested me at any other
time; but “_took hold of his feet_”—this was the assertion that amazed me
and carried away my thoughts from everything else. I had approached the
subject of the Resurrection through Paul, who mentions Christ merely as
having “appeared” to several of the apostles and last of all to himself.
I had all along assumed that the “appearances” of the Lord to the other
apostles had been of the same kind as the appearance to Paul, that is
to say, supernatural, but not material nor tangible. Having read what
Paul said about the spiritual body and the earthly body, I had supposed
that Christ’s earthly body remained in the tomb but that His spiritual
body rose from the dead, passed out of the tomb—as a spirit might pass,
not being confinable by walls or gates or by the cavernous sides of a
tomb—and “appeared” to the disciples, now in this place, now in that.
That the “spiritual body” meant the _real spiritual “person”_—and not
a mere “shade” or breath-like “spirit” of the departed—this (as I have
explained above) I had more or less understood. But I had never supposed
that the “body” could be touched. And now, quite unexpectedly, Scaurus
thrust before me, so to speak, a tradition that some women “_took hold of
Christ’s feet_” after He had risen from the dead.

“Of course,” said Scaurus, “most critics would say at once that the
women lied. But in the first place, even if they did lie, that would
not explain why Mark and Luke omitted it. For you may be quite sure
the evangelists would not believe that the women told a lie; and, if
they believed that the women told the truth, why should they not report
it? For the fact, if a fact, is a strong proof of resurrection. In
the next place, I am convinced that the Christian belief in Christ’s
resurrection is far too strong to have been originated by lies. I believe
it was originated by visions, and that the stories about these visions
were exaggerated in various ways, but never dishonest ways. In this
particular case, the explanation probably is, that the women saw a vision
of Christ in the air and ‘_would have held_ it fast by the feet,’ that
is, _desired to do so, but could not_. I could give several instances
from the LXX where ‘_would have_’ is thus dropped in translation. The
belief of the Christians was, that Christ ascended to heaven. The
women are perhaps regarded as _desiring to grasp his feet while he was
ascending_, but Christ prevents them, sending them away to carry word to
his ‘_brethren_’—for so he calls them—of his resurrection.” I had not,
at the time, knowledge enough to judge of Scaurus’s explanation; but I
afterwards found that “_would have_” might be thus dropped, and that the
fourth gospel represents a woman as attempting, or desiring, to “touch”
Jesus, but as being prevented (by the words “touch me not”) because
He had “_not yet ascended_”; and Jesus says to her “_Carry word to my
brethren_.” Scaurus’s explanation was confirmed by these facts.

Scaurus continued as follows, “Mark, the earliest of the evangelists,
contains no account of the resurrection, except as an announcement
made by angels. He says that the women “were afraid” when they heard
this announcement; and there he ends. But in my copy of Mark there is
an appendix (not in the handwriting of the same scribe that wrote the
gospel) which begins, ‘Now having arisen on the first day of the week
he became visible at first to Mary of Magdala, out of whom he had cast
seven devils.’ Then it says that Jesus ‘was manifested in a different
form’ to two of his previous companions, when walking in the country.
Then it mentions a third and last manifestation to ‘the eleven’ seated
at a meal.” I turned at once to my copy of Mark, but there was no such
appendix. It ended with the words “for they were afraid.”

Scaurus proceeded, “This appendix is not at all in Mark’s style, but it
is probably very ancient. Luke mentions no appearance of Christ to women.
But he describes an appearance to two disciples walking toward a village
near Jerusalem; or rather, not to them while walking, for Jesus did not
appear to them at first so as to be recognised; he first walked and
talked with them and ‘opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.’
Then, in the village, during the breaking of bread, he was recognised
by them, and vanished. As regards ‘walking,’ I may mention that the
ancient Jews describe God as ‘_walking with Israel_,’ and I have read in
a Christian letter, ‘_The Lord journeyed with me_,’ meaning ‘enlightened
me.’ So the word may be used metaphorically. These two disciples
expressly mention a ‘vision of angels’ spoken of by the women, who told
them that angels had announced that Christ had risen from the dead; but,
according to Luke, the two disciples and their companions disbelieved the
women’s tale. And not a word is said by Luke, then or afterwards, about
any appearance of Christ himself to women.

“You can see for yourself, Silanus, under what a disadvantage this
Mark-Appendix placed these poor, simple, ignorant, honest Christians,
when it called as their first witness to the resurrection a woman that
had been formerly a lunatic. I believe they have been already attacked
by their Jewish enemies on this ground. If they have not been, I am
sure they will be. Luke, a physician and an educated man, chooses his
ground much more sensibly. First, he omits all direct mention, in his own
narrative, of manifestations to women. Secondly, he says, in effect—not
in narrative but in dialogue—‘The women _did_ see an apparition, but
it was only of angels.’ Thirdly, ‘the _men_ (and men are not liable
to the hysterical delusions of women)—the _men_,’ he says, ‘treated
the women’s vision as a mere delusion. The _men_ saw Jesus himself.’
Possibly Luke was influenced by Paul, who in his list of the witnesses
of manifestations makes no mention of women. The Law of Moses does not
expressly exclude women’s testimony. But Josephus once told me that his
countrymen allowed neither women nor slaves to give public testimony. So
it is clear that Jewish tradition has interpreted the Law as excluding
women, and that Paul, when controverting Jews, would not appeal to
the evidence of women, because Jews would not accept it. Perhaps Luke
followed in the same path.

“Luke also makes the following attempt to meet the objections of those
who might urge that Christ’s apparition was not a rising of the actual
body from the grave. He represents Christ as saying to the disciples,
‘Handle me’—as a proof that he was not a disembodied spirit. Now I do
not believe that Luke invented this, although he, the latest of the
three evangelists, is alone in recording it. Curiously enough, I have
only recently been reading a letter—very wild and extravagant but
manifestly genuine—written some four or five years ago by a Christian
named Ignatius, which throws light on these very words in Luke. A
few months after writing it, the man suffered as a Christian here in
Rome, and his letters naturally had a vogue. Flaccus sent me a copy
as a curiosity. Well, this letter says that when Christ came to his
disciples—Ignatius says ‘_to those around Peter_’ but the meaning is ‘to
Peter and his companions,’ that is, ‘to Christ’s disciples,’ as I have
explained above—in the flesh, after his resurrection, he said to them,
‘Take, handle me, and see that I am not a bodiless dæmon.’ Then Ignatius
adds—and these are the words I want you to mark—‘Straightway they
_touched_ him and believed, having been _mixed with his flesh and blood_.’

“Do you remember my laughing at you as a boy because you translated
Diodorus Siculus literally, ‘They _touched_ one another because of
extreme need,’ when it ought to have been, ‘They _fed on_ one another’?
I quoted to you, at the time, the saying of Pythagoras, ‘Do not _touch_
a white cock,’ _i.e._ ‘do not _feed on_ it.’ There are many instances of
this meaning. Well, the Christians believed that they _fed on_ Christ.
His _‘flesh and blood was mixed’ with theirs_—or they were ‘_mixed_’
with his—when they _fed on_ him in their sacred meal. If there were some
Greek traditions saying ‘they _touched_ him,’ meaning ‘they _fed on_
him,’ there would naturally be other traditions about ‘_touching_’ Jesus
meaning that they ‘_handled_’ him. The latter would suggest that they
touched the wounds in his body inflicted during the crucifixion.”

I remembered my boyish mistake, and I saw clearly that Christians would
have had much more excuse for making a similar one. Scaurus added, “This
also explains Ignatius’s curious use of ‘take’ (as in Mark and Matthew).”
At first I could not understand what Scaurus meant; but on looking at
Ignatius’s Greek, which Scaurus gave me, I perceived that the words were
not “_Take hold of me_, handle me,” but “_Take_,” _i.e._ “_Take_ me,” or
“_Take_ my body (as a whole).” Now “_take_” is similarly used by Mark and
Matthew in the sentence “_Take_, eat, this is my body,” where Mark omits

“Moreover,” continued Scaurus, “Luke goes on to relate that Jesus said to
the disciples, ‘Have ye anything to eat?’ and that _they gave_ him some
broiled fish, and that he ate in their presence. Christians in Rome have
been in the habit—it would take too long to explain why—of using FISH as
the emblem of Christ. The sense requires ‘_he gave_,’ not ‘_they gave_.’
I think Luke has confused ‘_he gave_’ with ‘_they gave_.’ The confusion,
in Greek, might arise from one erroneous letter.” After giving me
several instances of such confusion, he said, “I should not be surprised
if some later gospel stated the fact more correctly, namely, that _Christ
gave_ the disciples ‘fish’.” This I afterwards found to be the case in
the fourth gospel.

Scaurus then proceeded, “I think, however, that Luke’s error may
have arisen in part from another tradition, which he has preserved
in the Acts—somewhat like that of the Christian Ignatius which I
have quoted above. Ignatius spoke of ‘_mixing_,’ Luke, in the Acts,
speaks of ‘_incorporating_’—I can think of no better word to give the
meaning—saying that Jesus, ‘_in the act of being incorporated with_’ the
disciples, bade them not to depart from Jerusalem till they had received
the Holy Spirit. Now this word ‘_incorporate_’—which is used of men
brought into a city, hounds into a pack, soldiers into a squadron, and so
on—is adapted to represent that close union which is a mark of almost all
the Christians, who say with Paul that they are ‘one body in Christ’ and
‘members one of another.’ But this compact union of Christians is also
represented by their Eucharist, so that Paul says to the Corinthians,
in effect, not only, ‘Ye are one body,’ but also ‘Ye are one loaf.’
And I rather think that some Christians at the present time, in their
Eucharists, pray that, as the grains of wheat scattered in the field are
made into one, so the scattered children of God may be gathered into one.
I think you must see how easily errors might spring up from metaphors
of this kind used in the various churches of the empire, among people
varying in language, customs, and traditions, and for the most part

“Even in the letter of Ignatius above-mentioned, a scribe has altered the
word ‘mixed’ into ‘constrained’ in the margin; and I am not surprised.
I do not by any means accuse Luke of dishonesty, nor of carelessness.
He did his best. But he was probably a physician—a man of science
therefore—and liked to have things definitely and scientifically stated.
This word above-mentioned, ‘being made into one compact body with them,’
might easily be supposed to mean ‘partaking of salt with them,’ that
is, ‘sharing a meal with them.’ That rendering had the advantage of
constituting a definite proof of Christ’s resurrection with a body that
might be called in some sense material, since it (_i.e._ the body) was
capable of eating. Then, of course, Luke would adapt his other accounts
of the resurrection to this tradition, which he would naturally regard
as one of central importance. But, though honest and pains-taking, Luke
appears to me to have altered and corrupted what was perhaps, in some
sense, a real—yes, I will admit, in some sense, a real—manifestation (if
indeed any visions are real) into a mere non-existent physical sign or

“Luke represents Jesus as feeding on his own body in order to satisfy
his unbelieving disciples that he is really among them. I can easily
imagine how very different may have been the feelings of those simple
enthusiasts, the early Galilæan disciples, when they used these
words—never dreaming that they would be reduced to dry, evidential
prose—in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, praising the Lord for
allowing them to ‘sit at His table,’ and to ‘eat and drink with Him,’ or
for making them ‘sharers in the sacred food of His body’ and ‘partners
of His board.’ It was only, after a generation or more had passed away,
outside the atmosphere of Galilee—it was only to a compiler laboriously
tracing back the truth through documents—that all these phrases would
suggest the thought of Jesus proving his reality by partaking of food
that his disciples give to him.

“It may be said, as though it were to Luke’s discredit, ‘He represents
Peter as positively testifying to this eating.’ Of course he does. You
know how speeches are written, even in the most accurate histories. No
historian, as a rule, professes to record a speech of any length exactly.
If Luke first inferred that Christ ate with the apostles after his death,
he would also naturally go on to infer that Peter, in attesting Christ’s
resurrection, must necessarily have included some mention of this fact.
I cannot blame him. I think he was perfectly honest, though in error.” I
agreed. But it seemed to me an error much to be regretted.

On one point, however, Scaurus seemed to me to be not quite accurate,
when he said of Luke, “He represents Peter as positively testifying to
this eating.” For Peter’s speech was to this effect, “God raised him up
on the third day and granted that he should be manifested—not to all the
people but to witnesses previously appointed by God, namely us, who ate
with him and drank with him—after he had risen from the dead.” Scaurus
regarded this as meaning that “the eating and drinking” of Christ’s
disciples took place “after his death.” Even if that had been so, it
might be that Jesus was merely present (not eating and drinking) when
the disciples ate and drank: and something of this kind I afterwards
found in the fourth gospel. But I punctuated the words differently, and
interpreted them differently, as meaning that the “_manifestation_”
(not the “eating”) _took place after the resurrection_; and that the
manifestation was limited to those who had been Christ’s intimate
companions, or as the Greeks say, “_sharers of his table_,” _during his

I remembered also an old remark of Scaurus’s about our modern Roman
use of “convivo,” meaning “I _live with_,” and how easily it might be
taken to mean the ordinary “convivor,” meaning “I _feast with_.” Since
that, I have found that, in other ways, “_living with_” and “_eating
with_” may be easily confused. For these reasons I concluded that the
supposition that Jesus ate with the disciples after His resurrection was
not justified.

“I now come,” said Scaurus, “to one of the most interesting of all the
traditions of the resurrection—the ‘rolling away of the stone’ from the
tomb. As to the alleged facts, all the evangelists agree. But Mark alone
has preserved traces of what I take to be the historical fact, namely,
that the narrative, as it now stands, has sprung from Christian songs
and hymns based on Hebrew scriptures and Jewish traditions. I shewed you
above how the precept, ‘Go forth with the staff alone,’ did not mean
‘with a walking-stick’ but ‘with the staff of God,’ a metaphor from the
story of Jacob in Genesis. Curiously enough, the same story will help us
to explain the rolling away of the stone.

“There Jacob rolls away the stone from the well for Rachel in order that
her flocks may obtain water. The Jews have many symbolical explanations
of this ‘rolling of the stone.’ One is, that the stone is the evil nature
in man. When worshippers go into the synagogue, the stone (they say) is
rolled away. When they come out, it is rolled back again. Philo comments
fully on the somewhat similar action of Moses helping the daughters of
Jethro, taking it in a mystical sense. The scriptures may be regarded as
the ‘water of life’ or ‘living water.’ The ‘stone’ prevents the ‘water’
from issuing to those that thirst for it. You may perhaps remember that
Paul says something of the same kind, but using a different metaphor.
To this day, he says, a ‘veil’ lies on the hearts of the Jews when the
scriptures are read. So Luke says—concerning one of Christ’s predictions
about his resurrection—‘it was _veiled_ from them.’ Luke also relates
that Christ, after the resurrection, conversed with two disciples,
but did not make himself visible to them till he had ‘interpreted the
scriptures’ to them. Then, when he broke bread, ‘their eyes were opened
and they recognised him.’ This ‘interpreting,’ the two disciples call
‘opening the scriptures.’ The ‘_opening of the scriptures_’ might be
called ‘_taking the veil from the heart_,’ or ‘_rolling away the stone_.’
But the last phrase might still better be used for ‘_rolling away the
burden of unbelief_’.”

All this seemed fanciful to me. But as I knew very little about Jewish
tradition I waited to see what traces of this poetic language Scaurus
could shew in the Greek text of Mark. Before passing to that, however,
Scaurus shewed me, from Isaiah, that “the stone” might be used in two
senses, a good and a bad; a good, for believers, as being “the stone
that had become the head of the corner”; but a bad, for unbelievers, as
“the stone of stumbling and rock of offence.” And he said that the stone
rolled away by Jacob was called by some Jews the Shechinah or glory
of God. According to Matthew, the “stone” at the door of the tomb was
“sealed” by the chief priests, the enemies of Christ. There it stood, as
an enemy, saying to the disciples, “Your faith is vain. He will come out
no more. He is dead.” This was “_a stone of stumbling_.” On the other
hand Scaurus said he had read an epistle written by Peter, which bids the
disciples come to Christ as “_a living stone_.”

“Now,” said Scaurus, “taking the accounts literally, we must find it
impossible to explain how the women, at about six o’clock in the morning,
could expect to find men at the tomb ready and willing to roll the stone
away for them; or, if guards were on the spot, how the guards could be
induced to allow it. And there are also other difficulties, too many to
enumerate, in the differences between the evangelists as to the object of
the women’s visit. But taking the account as originally a poem, we are
able to recognise (I think) two or three historic facts found in Mark

“First, take the statement that the women ‘said,’ or ‘said to
themselves,’ ‘Who _will roll_ away the stone for us from the door of the
tomb?’ I am not surprised that someone has altered this into, ‘Who _has
rolled_ away the stone for us?’ Improbable though the latter is, it is at
all events conceivable. But it is inconceivable that women, going to the
guarded door of a prison, should ask, as a literal question, ‘Who will
open the door for us?’ Taken literally, Mark’s text implies something
almost as absurd as this. But now take it as a prayer to heaven. Then you
may illustrate it by the language of the Psalmist, ‘Who will rise up for
me against the evil-doers? Who will stand up for me against the workers
of iniquity?’—followed by ‘Unless the Lord had been my help my soul had
soon dwelt in silence.’ So the Psalmist says, ‘Who will bring me into
the fenced city?’ and then adds, ‘Hast not thou cast us off, O God?’ You
see in all these cases the question is really a prayer, a passionate and
almost desperate prayer, implying ‘What man will do this for us? No man.
No one but God.’ So it is in the Law, ‘Who will go up to heaven? Who will
go down into the deep?’ These last words Paul quotes as the utterance of
something approaching to despair. So I take the women’s words as having
been originally a cry to God, ‘Who, if not God, will roll away the stone!’

“Secondly, note that Mark says nothing about any guards at the tomb.
According to him, no obstacle was to be anticipated by the women, in
their attempt to enter the tomb, except the weight of the stone, which
was ‘exceeding great.’ No other evangelist says this. But I have seen
traditions describing the stone as so heavy that twenty men could
scarcely roll it, or that it required the efforts of the elders and
scribes aided by the centurion and his soldiers. In my opinion the
omission of the ‘greatness’ by Matthew and Luke, and the literalising of
it by later traditions, arise from a misunderstanding of its poetical and
spiritual character. The ‘stone’ was ‘exceeding great’ in this sense,
that it could not be moved except by the help of God.

“Thirdly, ‘the women _looked up_ and saw it (_i.e._ the stone) _rolled
upward_,’ that is, as I take it, to heaven, in a vision. The word here
used for ‘look up’ may mean ‘regain sight,’ as though the women were
blind to the fact till they had uttered their aspiration (‘who will roll
it away?’) and then their eyes were opened. Anyhow, it is more than
‘looked.’ I think it means ‘saw in a vision’.” I was certainly astonished
at this use of “look up,” but much more at the “_rolling up_” of the

“As to Mark’s ‘_rolling up_’,” said Scaurus, “I have looked everywhere,
trying to find his word used by others in the sense of ‘roll away,’
or ‘roll back.’ But in vain. Its use here is all the more remarkable
because, when Jacob rolls away the stone for Rachel, the word ‘_roll
away_’ is used. You may say, ‘This shews that the term is not borrowed
from Jacob’s story.’ I cannot agree with that. The Christian hymn might
contrast Jacob, the type of Christ, rolling the stone merely on one side,
with Christ, the fulfilment, rolling it right up to heaven. I should add
that a marginal note in Mark inserts an ascension of angels with Jesus at
this point.”

In attempting to do justice to this narrative and to Scaurus’s criticisms
of it, I felt at a great disadvantage owing to my ignorance of Jewish
literature and thought; and at first I was much more disposed to put
by the whole story as an inexplicable legend than to accept Scaurus’s
explanation. But afterwards, looking at Matthew’s narrative, I found
that Matthew described an “angel” as “rolling away the stone,” and as
saying to the women, “Fear not.” This seemed decidedly to confirm the
conclusion that the women saw “a vision of angels” (a phrase used by
Luke) in which vision the stone was seen rolled away—or (as Mark says)
“rolled upward”—when the angels went up to heaven. But all this—though
it confused and wearied me—did not prevent me from believing that the
spirit, or spiritual body, of Christ had really risen from the dead,
since I had all along supposed that this alone was what was meant by
Christ’s resurrection, in accordance, as it appeared to me, with Paul’s
statements. Nothing that Scaurus had said, so far, seemed to me to shake
Paul’s testimony to the resurrection.

But Scaurus’s next remarks dealt with this matter, and greatly shook
my faith. “I had almost forgotten,” he said, “to speak of Christ’s
appearance to Paul. It was clearly a mere image of Paul’s thought,
called up by his conscience—nothing more. I need write no further about
it. Flaccus has sent you Luke’s Acts of the Apostles. If you are curious,
look there, and you will find enough and more than enough. My belief is,
that, if Stephen had not seen Christ, Paul would not have seen Christ.
That puts the matter epigrammatically, and therefore (to some extent)
falsely; for all epigrams are partly false. But it is mainly true. There
may have been other Stephens whom Paul persecuted. But Stephen, I think,
summed up the effect of all. Read what Paul says to the Romans about the
persecuted and their conquest of persecutors:—‘Bless them that persecute
you’; that is, instead of resorting to the fire of vengeance against
one’s enemy, use, he says, the refiner’s fire of kindness, ‘for in
doing this thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head’; finally, ‘Be not
conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.’ Read this. Then reflect
that Paul ‘persecuted.’ Then read the Acts and see how he persecuted
Stephen, and how Stephen interceded for his enemies. I take it that Paul
is writing from experience—that the intercession of Stephen ‘overcame’
Paul (_he_ would say ‘overcame,’ _I_ should say ‘hypnotized’ him) and
compelled Paul to see what Stephen saw, namely, Jesus raised from the
dead and glorified. Read the Acts and see if I am not right.”

It had not occurred to me before, while I was reading what Flaccus’s
letter said incidentally about the inclusion of the Acts of the Apostles
in my parcel, that this book would probably give me Luke’s account of the
conversion of the apostle Paul, which had been so much in my thoughts, in
my conjectures, and even in my dreams. Now, therefore, although barely a
dozen lines of Scaurus’s letter remained to read, I immediately put them
aside and took up the Acts. Here I found that I had been wrong in most
of my wild anticipations about the circumstances of Paul’s conversion;
but I had been right in supposing that the conversion took place near
Damascus, and that the utterance of Christ would contain the words, “I
am Jesus.” Moreover the words, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”
accorded (not indeed exactly but as to their general sense) with my dream
about the Christian martyrs—how they looked at me, as though saying, Why
didst thou rack me? Why didst thou torture me?; and how they blessed me,
and looked up to heaven; and how they made me fear lest I, too, should be
compelled to look up and see what they saw.

Now therefore once more I was seized with a kind of fellow-feeling for
Paul as he journeyed to Damascus. I began again to imagine his efforts to
prevent himself from thinking of Stephen, and from seeing Stephen’s face
looking up to heaven, and from hearing Stephen’s blessing. It seemed to
me that I, too, should have rebelled as Paul rebelled at first, striving
against my conscience, like the bullock that kicks against the goad.
Then I asked, “Should I have done what Paul did afterwards? Should I,
too, have been ‘overcome’ as Paul was, being brought under the yoke?” I
thought I might have been.

But was it seemly or right that a free man should be brought under a
“yoke”? That was the question I had now to answer. I seemed to have come
to the branching of the paths. All depended on the nature of the “yoke.”
What was it? On the one hand, Paul said it was “the constraining love of
Christ.” He had made me feel that there was nothing base in it, nothing
to be ashamed of. Nay, under Paul’s influence, this “yoke” had begun to
seem an ensign of the noblest warfare, a sign of royalty, the emblem of
service undertaken by God Himself, the yoke of the risen Saviour, the
Son of God, enthroned by the Father’s side in heaven, and in the hearts
of men on earth. But on the other side stood Scaurus, maintaining that
all these Jewish stories were dreams—not falsehoods, but self-deceits
more dangerous than falsehoods. He had also convinced me that the
gospels contained an unexpected multitude of errors and exaggerations
and disproportions. This I could not honestly deny. Thus the gospels
flung me back—or at least, as interpreted by Scaurus, seemed to fling me
back—from the faith to which I was just on the point of attaining through
the epistles. In my bewilderment I was no longer able to say clearly and
firmly as before, “Nevertheless the moral power of the gospel is attested
by facts that Scaurus and Arrian both admit, facts that Epictetus would
be only too glad to allege for himself—by myriads of souls converted
from vice to virtue. Does not this moral power rest on reality?”

The Christians themselves seemed to attach so much importance to “Christ
in the flesh” that I began to attach importance too. The evangelists
appeared to say, in effect, “If we cannot prove that Christ in the flesh
arose from the dead, then we admit that He has not arisen.” So they—or
rather my impression about them—led me away to say the same thing. A
few days ago, I had neither desired nor expected that Christ should be
demonstrated to have risen in the flesh. Now I said, “I fear it cannot
be proved that Christ in the flesh, that Christ’s tangible body, rose
from the dead. Nay, more, I feel that the belief in what might be called
a tangible resurrection arose from some such causes as Scaurus has
specified. So I must give up all belief.”

I ought to have waited. I ought to have asked, “All belief in _what_?”
“Belief in _what kind_ of resurrection?” Scaurus himself had casually
admitted that visions, though not presenting things tangible, might
present things real. If so, then the visions of Israel might be real,
the visions to Abraham and the patriarchs, to Moses, to the prophets.
These might be a series of lessons given to the teachers in the east
to be passed on to the learners in the west. Among the latest of these
was a vision of “one like unto a Son of man.” He was represented as
“coming” with the clouds of heaven. That was a noble vision. Yet how
much better and nobler would be a vision of the Son of man “coming”
into the hearts of men, taking possession of them, reigning in them,
establishing a kingdom of God in them! Such a Son of man had been
revealed to Paul, “defined” as “the Son of God” “from the resurrection of
the dead.” Being both God and man He brought (so Paul said) God and man
into one, imparting to all men the sense of divine sonship, the light of
righteousness and spiritual life, triumphant over spiritual darkness and
death. This is what I ought to have thought of, but did not.

Such an all-present power of divine sonship Paul seemed also to have in
view when he likened belief in the risen Saviour to the faith described
by Moses in Deuteronomy. The true believer, said Paul, is not the slave
of place, saying, “Who shall go up to heaven?” that is, to bring Christ
down to us from the right hand of God. Nor does he say, “Who shall go
down to the abyss?” that is, to bring Christ up to us from the dead. The
word of faith is “very near.” It is “in the heart.” It says, “Believe
_with the heart_ that God raised Christ from the dead.” Such belief is
not from the “eyes” nor from the “understanding”—as if one saw with one’s
own eyes the door of the grave burst open by an angel, or heard the facts
attested in a lawcourt by a number of honest and competent eyewitnesses
incapable of being deceived and of deceiving. To say, “I believe it
because Marcus or Gaius believed it,” is to avow a belief in Marcus or
Gaius, not in Christ, unless the avower can go on to say “and because I
have felt the risen Saviour within me.”

He alone really and truly believes in the resurrection of Christ
whose belief is based on personal experience. If he has that, he can
contemplate without alarm the divergences of the gospels in their
narratives of this spiritual reality. He will understand the meaning
of Paul’s words, “It pleased God to _reveal His Son in me_”—not “to
me,” but “_in me_.” For indeed it is a revelation—not a demonstration
from the intellect and senses alone—derived from all our faculties
when enlightened by God. God draws back the veil from our fearful and
faithless hearts and gives us a convincing sense of Christ at His right
hand and in ourselves. This “conviction” is derived from no source but
the convincing Spirit of the Saviour, coming to us in various ways, and
through many instruments, but mostly through disciples whom the Saviour
loves, and who have received not only His Spirit but also the power of
imparting it to others.

All these things I knew afterwards, but not at the time I am now
describing. I had indeed already some faint conjecture of the truth,
but not such as I could put into definite words. I was defeated. In the
bitterness of defeat I exclaimed, “There is more beyond, but I cannot
reach it. I cannot even suggest it. These evangelists give me no help.
They take part with Scaurus against me. I am beaten and must surrender.”
Yet I felt vaguely that I was not fairly beaten. I was like a baffled
suitor retiring from a court of justice, crushed by a hostile verdict,
victorious in truth and equity, but beaten and mulcted of all his estate
on some point of technical law.

In this mood, sullen and sick at heart, weary of evidence and evidential
“proofs” that were no proofs, and irritated rather with the evangelists
than with Scaurus—who, after all, was doing no more than his duty in
pointing out what appeared to him historical errors—I was greatly moved
by an appeal to my love of truth with which my old friend concluded his
letter. It was to this effect.

“Well, Silanus, now I have really done. I cannot quite understand what
induced me to take up so much of my time, paper, and ink—and your time,
too, which is worse—and all to kill a dead illusion. Why do I say ‘dead’
if it was never alive? Perhaps it was once nearly alive even in my
sceptical soul. I think I have mentioned before that I, even I, have had
moments when the dream of that phantom City of Truth and Justice had
attractions for me. Perhaps I fancied it might be possible to receive
this Jewish prophet as a great teacher and philosopher—helpful for the
morals of private life at all events, even though useless for politics
and imperial affairs—apart from the extravagant claims now raised for him
by his disciples. But it is gone—this illusion—if it ever existed. The
East and the West cannot mix. If they did, their offspring would be a
portent. This Christian superstition is a mere creature of feeling, not
of reason. I do not say it has done me harm to study it. Else I would not
have sent you this letter. It is perhaps a bracing and healthful exercise
to remind ourselves now and then that things are not as we could wish
them to be, and that we must not ‘feign things like unto our prayers.’ A
truthful man must see things as they are in truth. The City of Dreams has
closed its gates against me, and I am shut out. It is warm in there. I
am occasionally cold. So be it! Theirs is the fervour of the fancy, the
comfortable warmth of the not-true. I must wrap myself in the cloak of
truth—a poor uncomfortable thing, perhaps, but (as Epictetus would say)
‘my own.’ Truth, my dear Silanus, is your own, too—that is to say, truth
to your own reason, truth to your own conscience. Never let wishes or
aspirations wrest that from you. ‘_Keep what is your own!_’”

For the time, this appeal was too strong for me. I wrote to Scaurus
briefly confessing that the City of Dreams had had attractions for me, as
well as for him, but that I had resolved to put the thought away, though
I might, perhaps, continue a little longer the study of the Christian
books, which I, too, had found very interesting. When I grew calmer, I
added a postscript, asking whether it was not possible that “feeling,” as
well as “reason,” might play a certain lawful part in the search after
truths about God. My last words were an assurance that, whereas I had
been somewhat irregular of late in my attendance at Epictetus’s lectures,
I should be quite regular in future. This indeed was my intention. As
things turned out, however, the next lecture was my last.

Awaking early next morning, two or three hours before lecture, I spent
the time in examining the gospels, and in particular the accounts of
Christ’s last words. So few they were in Mark and Matthew that I could
not anticipate that Luke would omit a single one of them or fail to give
them exactly. They were uttered in public and in a loud voice. According
to Mark and Matthew, they were a quotation from a Psalm, of which the
Jewish words were given similarly by the two evangelists. They added a
Greek interpretation. Luke, to my amazement, omitted both the Jewish
words and the Greek interpretation. Afterwards, Mark and Matthew said
that Jesus, in the moment of expiring, cried out again in a loud voice.
On this occasion they gave no words. But there Luke mentioned words.
Luke’s words, too, were from a Psalm, but quite different in meaning from
the words previously given by Mark and Matthew.

Still more astonished was I to find what kind of words the two earliest
evangelists wrote down as the last utterance of Christ—“My God, my God,
why hast thou forsaken me?” That Christ said this I could hardly believe.
Reading further, I found that some of the men on guard exclaimed “This
man calls for Elias”—because the Jewish word “Heli” or “Eli,” “my God,”
resembles the Jewish “Elias.” I wished that these men might prove true
interpreters. Then I found that, although Luke mentions neither “Eli” nor
“Elias,” he nevertheless mentions “Elios” or “Helios,” which in Greek
means “sun.” This occurred in the passage parallel to Eli or Heli. What
Luke said was that there was an “eclipse,” or “failing,” of “the sun.”
I thought then (and I think still) that Luke was glad—as a Christian
historian might well be without being at all dishonest—to find that
Mark’s “Eli” had been taken, at all events by some, not to mean “my God.”
Perhaps some version gave “Elios,” or “Helios,” “sun.” This Luke might
gladly accept. Indeed, in the genitive, which is the form used by Luke,
the word “Heliou” may mean either “of the sun” or “of Elias.”

But, on reflection, I could not find much comfort from Luke’s version.
For the difficult version seemed more likely to be true. And how could
there be an “eclipse” of the sun during Passover, when the moon was at
the full? Then I looked at the Psalm from which the words were taken, and
I noted that although it began with “Why hast thou forsaken me?” it went
on to say that God “hath not hid his face from him, but when he cried
unto him he heard him.” Also the Psalm ended in a strain of triumph,
as though this cry “Why hast thou forsaken me?” would end in comfort
and strength for all the meek, so that “all the ends of the earth shall
remember and turn unto the Lord.” Nevertheless this did not satisfy me.
And even the help that I afterwards received from Clemens (about whom
I shall speak later on) left me, and still to this day leaves me, with
a sense that there is a mystery in this utterance beyond my power to
fathom, though not beyond my power to believe.

I was still engaged in these meditations when my servant brought me a
letter. It was from Arrian, informing me of the death of his father,
which would prevent him from returning to Nicopolis. He also requested
me to convey various messages to friends to whom he had not been able to
bid farewell owing to his sudden departure. In particular he enclosed a
note, which he asked me to give to Epictetus. “Add what you like,” he
said, “you can hardly add too much, about my gratitude to him. I owe
him morally more than I can express. Moreover in the official world,
where everybody knows that our Master stands well with the Emperor, it
is sometimes a sort of recommendation to have attended his lectures. And
perhaps it has helped me. At all events I have recently been placed in
a position of responsibility and authority by the Governor of Bithynia.
I like the work and hope to do it fairly well. Even the mere negative
virtue of not taking bribes goes for something, and that at least I can
claim. I am not able, and never shall be able, to be a Diogenes, going
about the province and healing the souls of men. But I try to do my duty,
and I feel an interest in getting at the truth, and judging justly among
the poor, so far as my limited time, energy and intelligence permit.

“In the towns, among the artisans and slaves, I have been surprised to
find so many of the Christians. You may remember how we talked about this
sect more than once. You thought worse of them than I did. But I don’t
think you had much more basis than the impressions of your childhood,
derived from what you heard among your servants and the common people in
Rome. I have seen a great deal of them lately and have been impressed by
the high average of their morality, industry, and charity to one another.

“You never see a Christian begging. What is more, they set their faces
against the exposing of children. I have often thought that our law is
very defective in this respect. We will not let a father strangle his
infant son, but we let him kill it by cold, starvation, or wild beasts.
Every such death is the loss of a possible soldier to the state. It
is a great mistake politically, and I am not sure whether it is right
morally. When I first came to Nicopolis I used to hear it said that our
Epictetus—one of the kindest of men I verily believe—once adopted a baby
that was on the point of being exposed by one of his friends, got a nurse
for it, and put himself to a lot of trouble. I sometimes wonder why he
did not first give his friend the money to find a nurse and food for the
baby, and then give him a good sharp reprimand for his inhumanity. For
I call it inhuman. But I never heard Epictetus say a word against this
practice. The Jews as well as the Christians condemn it. Perhaps the
latter, in this point, merely followed the former; but in most points the
Christians seem to me superior to the Jews.

“I am proud to call myself a philosopher, and perhaps I should be prouder
than Epictetus would like if I could call myself a Roman citizen; but
I am free to confess that there are points in which philosophers and
Romans could learn something from these despised followers of Christus.
_Fas est et a Christiano doceri._ I have been more impressed than I
can easily explain to you on paper by the behaviour of this strangely
superstitious sect. There is a strenuous fervour in their goodness—I mean
in the Christians, I am not now speaking of the Jews—which I don’t find
in my own attempts at goodness. I am, at best, only a second-class Cynic,
devoid of fervour.

“You may say, like an orthodox scholar of Epictetus, ‘Let them keep
their fervour and leave me calmness.’ But these men have both. They
can be seasonably fervid and seasonably calm. I have heard many true
stories of their behaviour in the last persecution. Go into one of
their synagogues and you may hear their priest—or rather prophet, for
priests they have none—thundering and lightening as though he held the
thunderbolts of Zeus. Order the fellow off for scourging or execution,
and he straightway becomes serenity itself. Not Epictetus could be more
serene. Indeed, where an Epictetian would ‘make himself a stone’ under
stripes and say, ‘They are nothing to me,’ a Christian would rejoice to
bear them ‘for the sake of Christus.’ And even Epictetus, I think, could
not reach the warmth, the glow, of their affection for each other. I am
devoutly thankful that I did not occupy my present office under Pliny. It
has never been my fate to scourge, rack, torture, or kill, one of these
honest, simple, excellent creatures, whose only fault is what Epictetus
would call their ‘_dogma_’ or conviction—surely such a ‘dogma’ as an
emperor might almost think it well to encourage among the uneducated
classes, in view of its excellent results. Farewell, and be ever my

The third hour had almost arrived and I had to hasten to the lecture-room
taking with me the note addressed to Epictetus. All the way, I could
think of nothing but the contrast between what Arrian had said about
the Christians, and what Mark and Matthew had said about Christ’s last
words—the servants tranquil, steadfast, rejoicing in persecution; their
Master crying “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It perplexed
me beyond measure.

In this bewilderment, I took my accustomed place beside Glaucus, who
greeted me with even more than his usual warmth. He seemed strangely
altered. It was no new thing for him to look worn and haggard. But to-day
there was a strange wildness in his eyes. Absorbed though I was in my
own thoughts, I could not help noticing this as I sat down, just before
Epictetus began.

The lecture was of a discursive kind but might be roughly divided into
two parts, one adapted for the first class of Cynics, those who aspired
to teach; the other for the second class, those who were content to
practise. The first class Epictetus cautioned against expecting too much.
No man, he said, not even the best of Cynic teachers, could control the
will of another. Socrates himself could not persuade his own son. It was
rather with the view of satisfying his own nature, than of moving other
men’s nature, that Socrates taught. Apollo himself, he said, uttered
oracles in the same way. I believe he also repeated—what I have recorded
before—that Socrates “did not persuade one in a thousand” of those whom
he tried to persuade.

I remembered a similar avowal in Isaiah when the prophet declares that
his message is “Hear ye indeed, but understand not”; and this, or
something like it, was repeated by Jesus and Paul. But Isaiah says,
“Lord, how long?” And the reply is that the failure will not be for ever.
In the Jewish utterances, there was more pain but also more hope. I
preferred them. Nor could I help recalling Paul’s reiterated assertions
that everywhere the message of the gospel was a “power,”—sometimes indeed
for evil, to those that hardened themselves against it, but more often
for good—constraining, taking captive, leading in triumph, and destined
in the end to make all things subject to the Son of God. Compared with
this, our Master’s doctrine seemed very cold.

In the next place, Epictetus addressed himself to the larger and lower
class of Cynics, those who were beginning, or who aspired only to the
passive life. These he exhorted to set their thoughts on what was their
own, on their own advantage or profit—of course interpreting profit in
a philosophic sense as being virtue, which is its own reward and is the
most profitable thing for every man. It was all, in a sense, very true,
but again I felt that it was chilling. It seemed to send me down into
myself, groping in the cellars of my own nature, instead of helping
me to look up to the sun. Most of it was more or less familiar; and
there was one saying that I have quoted above, to the effect that the
universe is “badly managed if Zeus does not take care of each one of His
own citizens in order that they like Him may be divinely happy.” Now I
knew that Epictetus did not use the word _eudæmon_, or divinely happy,
referring to the next life, for he did not believe that a “citizen of
Zeus” would continue to exist, except as parts of the four elements, in
a future life. He meant “in this life.” And if anyone in this life felt
unhappy—more particularly, if he “wept”—that was a sign, according to
Epictetus, that he was not a “citizen of Zeus.” For he declared that
Ulysses, if he wept and bewailed his separation from his home and wife—as
Homer says he did—“was not good.” So it came to this, that no man must
weep or lament in earnest for any cause, either for the sins or sorrows
of others, or for his own, on pain of forfeiting his franchise in the
City of Zeus. I had read in the Hebrew scriptures how Noah, and Lot,
and others of the “citizens of God,” lived alone amongst multitudes of
sinners; but they, and the prophets too, seemed to be afflicted by the
sins around them. Also Jesus said in the gospels, “O sinful and perverse
generation! How long shall I be with you and bear you!” as though it were
a burden to him. And I had come to feel that every good man must in some
sense bear the sins and carry the iniquities of his neighbours—especially
those of his own household, and his own flesh and blood. So I flinched
from these expressions of Epictetus, although I knew that they were quite
consistent with his philosophy.

Glaucus, I could clearly see, resented them even more than I did. He was
very liable to sudden emotions, and very quick to shew them. Just now
he seemed unusually agitated. He was writing at a great pace, but not (I
thought) notes of the lecture. When Epictetus proceeded to warn us that
we must not expect to attain at once this perfection of happiness and
peace, but that we must practise our precepts and wait, Glaucus stopped
his writing for a moment to scrawl something on a piece of paper. He
pushed it toward me, and I read “_Rusticus expectat_.” I remembered that
he had replied to me in this phrase when I had given him some advice
about “waiting patiently,” saying that all would “come right,” or words
to that effect. I did not now feel that I could say, “All will come
right.” Perhaps my glance in answer to Glaucus expressed this. But he
said nothing, merely continuing his writing, still in great excitement.

Epictetus proceeded to repeat that “pity” must be rejected as a fault.
The philosopher may of course love people, but he must love them as
Diogenes did. This ideal did not attract me, though he called Diogenes
“mild.” The Cynic, he said, is not really to weep for the dead, or with
those sorrowing for the dead. That is to say, he is not to weep “_from
within_.” This was his phrase. Perhaps he meant that, although in the
antechamber and even in some inner chambers of the soul there may be
tearful grief, and sorrow, and bitterness of heart, yet in the inmost
chamber of all there must be peace and trust. But he did not say this. He
said just what I have set down above. At the words “_not from within_,”
Glaucus got up and began to collect his papers, as though intending to
leave the room. The next moment, however, he sat down and went on writing.

The lecture now turned to the subject of “distress”—which interested me
all the more because I had noticed in the morning that Luke had described
Christ as being “in distress” when he prayed fervently in the night
before the crucifixion. But it seemed to me that Luke and Epictetus were
using the same word for two distinct things. Epictetus meant “distress”
about things not in our power, and among these things he included the
sins of our friends and neighbours. But Luke seemed to mean “distress”
about things in Christ’s power, because (according to Luke’s belief)
Christ had a power of bearing the sins of others. If so, Luke did not
mean what Epictetus meant, namely, nervous, faithless, and timid worry or
terror, but rather an _agōn_, or conflict, of the mind, corresponding to
the _agōn_, or conflict, of the body when one is wrestling with an enemy,
as Jacob was said by the Hebrews to have wrestled with a spirit in Penuel.

At this point, after repeating what I had heard him say before,
concerning the grace and dexterity with which Socrates “played at ball”
in his last moments—the ball being his life and his family—Epictetus
passed on to emphasize the duty of the philosopher to preserve his peace
of mind even at the cost of detaching himself from those nearest and
dearest to him. Suppose, for example, you are alarmed by portents of
evil, you must say to yourself “These portents threaten my body, or my
goods, or my reputation, or my children, or my wife; but they do not
threaten _me_.” Then he insisted on the necessity of placing “the supreme
good” above all ties of kindred. “I have nothing to do,” he exclaimed,
“with my father, but only with the supreme good.” Scarcely waiting for
him to finish his sentence, Glaucus rose from his seat, pressed some
folded papers into my hand, and left the room.

I think Epictetus saw him go. At all events, he immediately put
himself, as it were, in Glaucus’s place, as though uttering just such
a remonstrance as Glaucus would have liked to utter, “Are you so hard
hearted?” To this Epictetus replied in his own person, “Nay, I have
been framed by Nature thus. God has given me this coinage.” What our
Master really meant was, that God has ordained that men should part with
everything at the price of duty and virtue. “Duty” or “virtue” is to be
the “_coin_” in exchange for which we must be ready to sell everything,
even at the risk of disobeying a father. A father may bid his son betray
his country that he, the father, may gain ten thousand sesterces. In
such a case the son ought to reply—as Epictetus said—“Am I to neglect my
supreme good that you may have it [_i.e._ what you consider your supreme
good]? Am I to make way for you? What for?” “I am your father,” says the
father. “Yes, but you are not my supreme good.” “I am your brother,”
says the brother. “Yes, but you are not my supreme good.”

All this (I thought) was very moral in intention, but might it not have
been put differently—“Father, I must needs disobey you for your sake as
well as mine,” “Brother, you are going the way to dishonour yourself
as well as me”? Glaucus could not have taken offence at that. However,
this occasional austerity was characteristic of our Teacher. Perhaps it
was an ingredient in his honesty. He liked to put things sometimes in
their very hardest shape, as though to let his pupils see how very cold,
reasonable, definite, and solid his philosophy was, how self-interested,
how calculating, always looking at profit! Yet, in reality, he had no
thought for what the world calls profit. His eyes were fixed on the glory
of God. This alone was _his_ profit and _his_ gain. But unless we were as
God-absorbed as he was—and which of us could boast that?—it was almost
certain that we should to some degree misunderstand him. Just now, he was
in one of these detached—one might almost call them “non-human”—moods.

A few moments ago, I had been sorry that Glaucus went out. But I ceased
to regret it when I heard what followed. It was in a contrast between
Socrates and the heroes of tragedy, or rather the victims of calamity.
We must learn, he said, to exterminate from life the tragic phrases,
“Alas!” “Woe is me!” “Me miserable!” We must learn to say with Socrates,
on the point of drinking the hemlock, “My dear Crito, if this way is
God’s will, this way let it be!” and not, “Miserable me! Aged as I am,
to what wretchedness have I brought my grey hairs!” Then he asked, “Who
says this? Do you suppose it is someone in a mean or ignoble station?
Is it not Priam? Is it not Œdipus? Is it not the whole class of kings?
What else is tragedy except the passionate words and acts and sufferings
of human beings given up to a stupid and adoring wonder at external
things—sufferings set forth in metre!”

This seemed to me gratuitously cruel. If ever human being deserved pity,
was it not the poor babe Œdipus, predestined even before birth to evil,
cast out to die on Mount Cithaeron, but rescued by the cruel kindness
of a stranger—to kill his own father, to marry his own mother, to beget
children that were his brothers and sisters, and to die, an exile, in
self-inflicted blindness, bequeathing his evil fate to guilty sons and
a guiltless daughter! But Epictetus would not let Œdipus alone: “It is
among the rich, the kings, and the despots, that tragedies find place. No
poor man fills a tragic part except as one of the chorus. But the kings
begin with prosperity, commanding their subjects (like Œdipus) to fix
garlands on their houses in joy and thankfulness to the Gods. Then, about
the third or fourth act, comes ‘Alas, Cithaeron, why didst thou receive
and shelter me?’ Poor, servile wretch, where are your crowns now? Where
is your royal diadem? Cannot your guards assist you?”

All this was in stage-play, the agony of the king and the scoffing of
the philosopher so life-like as to be quite painful—at least to me.
Then Epictetus turned to us in his own person: “Well, then, in the act
of approaching one of these great people, remember this, that you are
going to a tragedian. By ‘_tragedian_’ I do not mean an _actor_, but a
_tragic person_, Œdipus himself. But perhaps you say to me ‘Yes, but
such and such a lord or ruler may be called blessed. For he walks with a
multitude’”—of slaves, he meant—“‘around him.’ See, then! I too go and
place myself in company with that multitude. Do not I also ‘walk with a
multitude’? But to sum up. Remember that the door is always open. Do not
be more cowardly than the children. When they cease to take pleasure in
their game, they cry at once ‘I will not play any more.’ So you, too, as
soon as things appear to you to point to that conclusion, say, ‘I will
not play any more.’ And be off. Or, if you stay, don’t keep complaining.”

This was the end of the lecture, and I felt gladder than ever that
Glaucus had gone; for he seemed to me to have been just in the mood to
take to heart that last suggestion, “The door is always open.” I hastened
to his rooms, but he was not there. I found however that he was expected
back soon, for he was making preparations for a journey. Leaving word
that I should call again in an hour, I determined to use the interval to
leave Arrian’s note with Epictetus.

The Master was disengaged and gave me a most kindly welcome, asking
with manifest interest about Arrian and his prospects, and giving me
to understand that he had heard of me, too, from Arrian and others.
His countenance always expressed vigour, but on this occasion it had
even more than its usual glow. Perhaps he was a little flushed with
the exertion of his lecture. Perhaps he was glad to hear that at least
one pupil, likely to do good work in the world, was remembering him
gratefully in Bithynia. Possibly he thought another such pupil stood
before him. I had never seen him close, face to face. Now I felt strongly
drawn towards him, but not quite as pupil to master. From the moment
of leaving the lecture-room that day, I had been repeating, “Alas,
Cithaeron, why didst thou receive and preserve me?” Poor Œdipus! He
seemed to sum up the cry of myriads of mortals predestined to misery. And
what gospel had my Master for them? Nothing but mockery, “Poor, servile

Yet I had felt almost sure, even from the first utterance of the cruel
words, that he had not intended to be cruel. Now, as I stood looking down
into his face and he up at mine, some kind of subtle fellowship seemed
to spring up between us. At least I felt it in myself and thought I saw
it in him. And it grew stronger as we conversed. I rapidly recalled the
reproach he had just now addressed to himself in his lecture, as coming
from one of his pupils, “Are you so hard hearted?” At the moment I had
asked “Could it possibly be true?” Now I knew it was not true. Certainly
he had been absorbed in God. His God was not the God of Christ. It was
a Being of Goodness of some sort, but impersonal, an Alone, not a real
Father. Such as it was, however, Epictetus had been absorbed in it. He
motioned to me to be seated, and began to question me about friends of
his in Rome.

I was on the point of replying, when the door burst open and Glaucus
suddenly rushed in, beside himself with fury. Striding straight up to
Epictetus, he began pouring forth a tale of wrongs, treacheries, outrages
and malignities, perpetrated on his family in Corinth. He took no notice
of my presence, and I doubt whether he was even aware of it, as he burst
out into passionate reproaches on our Master for teaching that a son must
witness such sufferings in a father or mother, brother or sister, and
say, “These evils are no evils to me.”

It would serve no useful purpose, nor should I be able, to set down
exactly what Glaucus said. Let it suffice that he had only too much
reason for burning indignation against certain miscreants in Corinth. He
had only that morning received news—which had been kept back from him by
treachery—that cruel and powerful enemies had brought ruin, desolation,
and disgrace upon his family. His father had been suddenly imprisoned on
false charges, his sister had been shamefully humiliated, and his mother
had died of a broken heart. “Epictetus,” he cried, “do you hear this? Or
do you make yourself a stone to me, as you bid us make ourselves stones
when men smite us and revile us? Do you still assert that there are no
evils except to the evil-minded? By Zeus in heaven, if there is a Zeus
and if there is a heaven, I would sooner torture myself like a Sabazian,
or be crucified like a Christian, or writhe with Ixion in hell, that I
might at least cry out in the hearing of Gods and men, ‘These things
_are_ evil, they _are_, they _are_,’ than be transported to the side of
the throne above with you, looking down on the things that have befallen
my father, mother, and sister, and repeating my Epictetian catechism, _I
am in perfect bliss and blessedness; these things are no evils to me_!
O man, man, are you a hypocrite, or are you indeed a stone?” So saying,
without waiting for a word of reply, he rushed from the room.

I went with him. I was not sure—nor am I now—whether Epictetus wished me
to stay or to go. But I thought Glaucus needed me most. My heart went
out to him when I heard for the first time how shamefully he had been
deceived and how cruelly his family had been outraged, and I did not
know what he might do in his despair. Besides, if I had stayed, could
Epictetus have helped me to help my friend? What would his helping have
been? It could have been nothing more—if he had been consistent—than to
repeat for the thousandth time that Glaucus’s “trouble,” and my “trouble”
for Glaucus’s sake, were mere _dogmas_, or “convictions,” and that
our “convictions” were wrong and must be given up. Would he have been
consistent? Would he have said these things?

To this day I cannot tell. As I followed Glaucus out of the room, while
in the act of turning round to close the door, I had my Master at a
disadvantage. I saw him, but he did not see me. His head was drooping.
The light was gone from his face; the eyes were lacking their usual
lustre; the forehead was drawn as if in pain. It was no longer Epictetus
the God-absorbed, but Epictetus the God-abandoned. If I had turned to
him with a reproach, “Epictetus, you are breaking your own rule. You
are sorrowing, sorrowing in earnest,” would he have replied, “No, only
in appearance, not _from within_”? I do not think he would. He was too
honest. To this day I verily believe that for once, at least for that
once, our Master broke his own rule and felt real “_trouble_.” And I love
him the better for it. That indeed is how I always like to remember his
face—as I saw it for the last time, not knowing that it was the last,
through the closing door—clouded with real grief, while I was leaving
him for ever without farewell, never trusting so little in his teaching,
never loving the teacher so much.