Popular Science Monthly/Volume 39/August 1891/Professor Huxley and the Swine-Miracle
|PROFESSOR HUXLEY AND THE SWINE-MIRACLE.|
By W. E. GLADSTONE.
THE controversy, in which this paper has to take its place, arose out of a statement, indeed a boast, as I understood it, by Prof. Huxley, that the adepts in natural science were assailing the churches with weapons of precision, and that their opponents had only antiquated and worthless implements to employ in the business of defense. I took upon me to impeach at certain points the precision of the Professor's own weapons. Upon one of those points, the miracle of the swine, as recorded in the Gospels, he had given us assumption instead of proof upon what he thinks the vital question, whether the keeping of the swine was an innocent and lawful occupation. He has now offered an elaborate attempt at proof that such was its character. The smallest indication of such an attempt in the original article would have sufficed entirely to alter the form of my observation, which would then have been what it will now be; not that he offers no argument, but that his argument is unsound from the beginning to the end.
Of that considerable portion of his article which is devoted to sneers, imputations, and lectures against myself, I shall take no notice whatever. The question of my guilt or innocence is too insignificant, and even the question whether Mr. Huxley does or does not always use weapons of precision might hardly warrant a prolongation of the warfare. But the personal action of our Lord is the basis of the Christian revelation, and to impugn it successfully in any point is to pierce the innermost heart of every Christian. No inquiry, therefore, can be too painstaking which helps to carry such a question to a conclusive issue.
I must, however, in passing, make the confession that I did not state with accuracy, as I ought to have done, the precise form of the accusation. I treated it as an imputation on the action of our Lord: he replies that it is an imputation on the narrative of three Evangelists respecting Him. The difference from his point of view is probably material, and I therefore regret that I overlooked it. From the standing ground of those who receive the Scriptures, it is not so considerable. That Christ, who is not only the object of imitation, love, and worship, but the very food and life of Christians, is the Christ of the Gospels. In a sense relative yet not untrue, they may almost be called "the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person." If the Gospels are put on their trial as literary documents, and if a legitimate though mordant criticism can successfully impugn any portion of them, we can not complain, and must take our chance. But when their contents are summarily condemned and rejected on a charge of intrinsic unworthiness and immorality, upon no higher authority than that of the private judgment of this or that individual, then, and so long as we are dealing with a portion of the attested portraiture, an arraignment of them becomes, at least in my view, more hard to distinguish from an arraignment of Him whom they portray. Told, and told in detail, by all the three Synoptics, the miracle of the demoniac and the swine does not well bear severance from the staple of the biography. Nor, indeed, is it so severed by Mr. Huxley, who frankly treats it as involving at large the authority of the Synoptic Gospels. In ' itself, it is undoubtedly of the utmost significance, on account of the questions which it raises. One of these is the large subject of demoniacal possession, on which I do not presume to enter. Another is whether our Saviour in answering the prayer of the evil spirits by "saying unto them, Go," became a co-operator in the destruction of the swine. This has been contested, but I pass by the contest, and for argument's sake at least admit the affirmative. Then there remains the further question; whether the beneficent ministry of our Lord on earth included in this instance the infliction of heavy injury upon certain individuals, the owners, or keepers and owners, of the swine, by the destruction of their property lawfully and innocently held?
Mr. Huxley observes that the Evangelists do not betray any consciousness of the moral and legal difficulties involved in the question. But if the Evangelists believed that our Lord was dealing in this case with Hebrews, or with persons bound by the law of Moses, then for them, believers in the Messiah, there were no legal or moral difficulties at all.
There are, indeed, those who have been content to rest the case on the absolute right of the Deity to deal at will with the property of the creatures whom he has made. "Of thine own have we given Thee!" Commentators are far from uniform. But, as it appears to me, the question does not come before us quite in this shape. Apart from any such contention, it is no trivial inquiry whether we have to record in this case the existence of an exception to the general character of our Lord's ministry, which was both beneficent and law-abiding. So far as regards the taking of animal life, the matter need not be discussed. It was life destined to be taken, taken by violence and probably with greater pain. It may have been, undoubtedly, the highest practical assertion of power, which is recorded by the Evangelists. But there is a remaining question, namely, whether this assertion of power was such as to involve serious injury to the proprietary rights of innocent persons. This is the character which Prof. Huxley stamps upon the narrative; justly, as he thinks, but, as I hold, in defiance of historical authority, and of the laws of rational and probable interpretation. I can not, however, but agree with him on two points which appear to be important: namely, first, that the excision on moral grounds of this narrative from the Synoptic Gospels affects their credit as a whole, and, secondly, that it is material to know whether the act recorded involved the infliction of a heavy penalty upon conduct in itself innocent.
The first question that arises in approaching this inquiry is, where did the miracle take place? And I do not well understand how Mr. Huxley, or his authorities, have so readily arrived at the conclusion that the very existence of any place named Gergesa is very questionable. Origen was a learned man, of critical mind, and he resided for a large part of his life in Palestine, and traveled there only two centuries after the time of our Lord. He tells us expressly these three things:
1. That there was an ancient city named Gergesa on the Lake of Tiberias.
2. That, bordering on the water, there was a precipitous descent, which it appears, or is proved (δείκνυΤαι), that the swine descended.
3. That Gadara is indeed a city of Judæa, with very famous baths, but has no precipitous ground in the vicinity of water.
This statement from such a source, at such a date, appears to require a treatment much more careful than the dictum that the existence of Gergesa is "very questionable." I admit, however, my obligation under the circumstances to inquire also, and fully, into the case of Gadara.
Let me now summarily point out what I conceive to be the main sources of error, which, taken together, vitiate the entire argument of Prof. Huxley.
1. Throughout the paper he confounds together what I had distinguished, namely, the city of Gadara and the vicinage attached to it, not as a mere pomærium, but as a rural district.
2. He more fatally confounds the local civil government and its following, including, perhaps, the whole wealthy class and those attached to it, with the ethnical character of the general population.
3. His one item of direct evidence as to the Gentile character of the city refers only to the former and not to the latter.
4. He fatally confounds the question of political party with those of nationality and of religion, and assumes that those who took the side of Rome in the factions that prevailed could not be subject to the Mosaic law.
5. His examination of the text of Josephus is alike one-sided, inadequate, and erroneous.
6. Finally, he sets aside, on grounds not critical or historical, but purely subjective, the primary historical testimony on the subject, namely, that of the three Synoptic Evangelists, who write as contemporaries, and deal directly with the subject, neither of which is done by any other authority.
7. And he treats the entire question, in the narrowed form in which it arises upon secular testimony, as if it were capable of a solution so clear and summary as to warrant the use of the extremest weapons of controversy against those who presume to differ from him.
Our main question, then, is the lawfulness and innocence of the employment of the swineherds. The ethnical character of Gadara and of its district derives its interest from its relation to that main question. In my opinion, not formed without an attempt at full examination, there is no historical warrant for doubting that the swineherds were persons bound by the Mosaic law. In the opinion of Mr. Huxley, "the proof that Gadara was, to all intents and purposes, a Gentile and not a Jewish city, is complete." And, again, Gadara was, "for Josephus, just as much a Gentile city as Ptolemais." Utterly contesting these two propositions, I make two admissions: first, that one or more of the many and sparse references of Josephus may easily mislead a prepossessed and incomplete inquirer; and secondly, that in the territory of Gadara, and in various other parts of Palestine, it would be a mistake to look for a perfectly homogeneous population either Hebrew or Gentile.
Outside the text of Josephus, Prof. Huxley adduces but a single fact in support of his allegations concerning Gadara—the fact, namely, that its coinage was Gentile. But coinage is essentially, and is most of all in conquered a country, the work of the governors, wholly apart from the governed. To say that the Gadarenes "adopted the Pompeian era on their coinage" out of gratitude, must almost be a jest. If Pompey re-annexed Gadara to the Syrian province, it is most improbable that he should have altered its laws respecting religion. Mr. Huxley supposes this change was popular as a restoration of Roman authority. But, had he consulted the text of Josephus, he would have seen it was approved, because the cities were restored by him to the "Home Rule" of their own proper inhabitants.
I. The Revolted Jews.—Mr. Huxley comes nearer to the point when he touches the text of Josephus, on which, indeed, apart from the Synoptic Evangelists, we have chiefly to depend. He deals with the passages found in the 18th chapter of Book II of the Judaic War. Now, these passages are most dangerous and seductive to those of his opinion, because, if severed from other passages, they would prove his point: on one condition, however, namely this, that we admit what is, indeed, his master fallacy, to be sound in logic and in fact.
He says that the revolted Jews are stated by Josephus to have laid waste the villages of the Syrians, "and their neighboring cities, and after them Gadara and Hippos." He then cites from Section 5 the passage which states that Scythopolis, Askelon, Ptolemais, and Tyre slew or put in prison great numbers of Jews. "Those of Hippos and those of Gadara did the like; as did the remaining cities of Syria." And hereupon Prof. Huxley assumes that his case is proved: causa finita est.
And so, perhaps, it might be were we to adopt what I have termed his master fallacy. That master fallacy is his assumption as to the cleavage of the Palestinian communities. According to him, all that was anti-Roman was Jewish or Hebrew, and all that acted on the other side was Gentile. Where, as in Tyre or Ptolemais, the population generally is known to have been Gentile, this assumption would, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, be a fair one. Such, in Mr. Huxley's view, was the case of Gadara, where the Jews were only local immigrants, like the inhabitants of a Ghetto. But this is just what he ought to prove; and it is not proved by showing either that those Jews who were in revolt attacked a part of the Gadarite population, or that the Gadarite population afterward did the like to some Jews among themselves. For the whole text of Josephus testifies that the Jews, as often happens in a case where foreign domination exists over a people of high nationalism, were sharply divided among themselves on the point of resistance. There were among them Roman and anti-Roman factions; ardent spirits always disposed to rise, and spirits more sluggish and pacific, who were either indifferent or indisposed to run the risk. Further, the strife between these sometimes went to blood, and not unfrequently placed the same community on different sides at different times. This, undoubtedly, I have to prove. I will first illustrate it by various cases including even Jerusalem itself, and will afterward show that, if we wish to make sense and not nonsense out of Josephus, we must apply the same ideas to Gadara, which besides, in all likelihood, had some mixture of population, and classes possessed of wealth and influence, which were sure to take the Roman or anti-national side.
I must first, however, observe that Mr. Huxley has quoted the text of Josephus inaccurately. As he has cited it, the revolted Jews proceeded at Gadara and Hippos as they had done in the cities of Syria that he had previously mentioned. But what Josephus says is that they devastated (wholesale as it were) these Syrian cities, and that then, proceeding against Gadara and Hippos (which meant territories and not mere cities), they burned some places, and reduced to submission (not the rest but) others; thus, pointing to those differences of local faction, class, or race, in the different neighborhoods, which Mr. Huxley overlooks.
Sepphoris, the chief city of Galilee, and the strongest, exhibits those anomalies of political position which belonged to a conquered, disturbed, and variously divided country. It was one of the five great Hebrew centers, which Gabinius chose to be the seats of . After the death of Herod, it was taken and destroyed by the Romans, and the population reduced to slavery. Subsequently it was repeopled. When Vespasian invaded Palestine, it asked and obtained from him a Roman garrison, as it had also received Cestius Gallus with acclamations not long before. Yet, nearly at the same period, and probably between these two occasions, when Josephus was engaged in preparing Galilee for defense, by fortifying at the proper points, he left Sepphoris to raise its own walls, because while it was rich it was also zealous for the war. Later on, Sepphoris was required to give hostages to the Romans at the very time when it was exposed to the jealousy and hostility of the Jews. Thus the same city, according to local fluctuations, was the partisan to-day of one side, to-morrow of the other. A clear comprehension of this shifting character in the local facts is vitally necessary for a sound judgment on the case before us.
Again, Gamala, on the Sea of Tiberias, adhered at this time to Rome; a little later we find it one of the last and most obstinate strongholds of Judaism against Vespasian, Further, Gabara, as I shall presently show, exhibited similar variations.
In truth, as Milman says, "every city was torn to pieces by little animosities; wherever the insurgents had time to breathe from the assaults of the Romans, they turned their swords against each other." It was in Jerusalem most of all that these bloody factions raged; they were exasperated by the arrival of strangers; the peace parties shed the blood of the warlike, and the war parties of the peaceful. In truth, such had long been the condition of that city, that Vespasian wisely postponed the commencement of his operations for fear he should extinguish the local feuds, which, as he saw, were wasting the strength of the rebels, and should compel them to unite together.
It is, then, quite conceivable that when Josephus says the revolted Jews burned some places and subjugated or kept down others in Gadaris, he means to speak of places where the peace party, which might be Jewish or not Jewish, predominated; and when he says the Hippenes and the Gadarenes acted against the Jews, he probably means that the Jews of the war party were put down by antagonists averse to war, though of their own race, as much as, and even possibly more than, by Gentile portions of the population. This, I have said, is a conceivable opinion. But, in order to justify what I have said of the argument of Prof. Huxley, I must show that it is an opinion not only conceivable, but warranted, and even required, by a consideration of the whole evidence on the record. That is the best conclusion, which best meets all the points of the case. The conclusion reached by Prof. Huxley leaves Josephus in hopeless contradiction to himself.
For I shall now proceed to show that Gadara or Gadaris, first, was an important center of Jewish population, by which I mean population subject to the Mosaic law; secondly, was a recognized seat of Jewish military strength; and thirdly, according to Josephus himself, acknowledged the law of Moses as its local public law, and was bound to obey it.
II. The Ordinance of Gabinius.—Mr. Huxley places great reliance on the "classical" work of Dr. Schürer, which treats of the history of the Jewish people in the time of our Lord. And certainly a high tribute to it is due from him, as it seems to have supplied nearly all his material for the history and character of Gadara; except, indeed, the exaggeration of the terms in which he describes them. It may, perhaps, be questioned whether a work, of which one half bears dates so recent as 1889 and 1890, can yet have fully earned the title of a classical work. I do not, however, presume to question its ability and research. On the other hand, without detracting from its general character, I can not presume it to be precise and conclusive upon every one of those complicated local histories of Palestinian towns, among which Gadara has to be reckoned. Nor can I help embracing the opinion that he is (in the case before us) overfond of giving the go-by to a difficulty by altering the text of his authority, so as to make it conform to the view he has adopted. No less than five times, upon this very limited subject, does he accept or propose this method of proceeding. At the same time, he altogether passes by phrases, and even passages, of Josephus. which are of real, and, in one or more cases, even of capital importance.
Let the reader test what I have said, in the first place, by reference to the weighty statement of the Jewish historian as to the Sanhedrims of Gabinius.
Soon after the conquest by Pompey, who had himself given proof of his moderation and regard for the religion of a conquered people, Gabinius became administrator of the Roman power; and he divided Palestine into five regions, for the purpose of administering the Jewish law in each of them, through an assembly of elders termed Sanhedrim; possibly also with a view to the easier and more effective collection of the Roman tribute.
Of these regions, according to the text as it stands, one had Gadara for its center; the others being Jerusalem, Sepphoris, Jericho, and Amathus. The measure, and the name of Gadara, are mentioned in two separate passages. Here we have to all appearance a pretty flat contradiction to the theory that Gadara was a Greek or a Gentile city. Accordingly, says Mr. Huxley, Schürer has "pointed out" that what Gabinius really did was to lodge one of these (the ) in Gazara, "far away on the other side of the Jordan." Under this facile phrase of "pointing out" is signified the deliberate alteration of the text, which inconveniently asserts not only in two separate passages, but in two separate works, that the place selected was not Gazara but Gadara. Without doubt any theory can be established with ease, if we are free thus to bend the original text into conformity with its demands. In this instance that text contains, as we shall see, a specific statement, which, as Mr. Huxley must have found if he had referred to Josephus, made it manifestly impossible that he could have written Gazara in these two places.
I confess that Dr. Schürer appears to me to have seriously misapprehended in some degree the spirit of this measure as well as the facts, when he says that it involved the abolition of whatever residue of political independence had thus long remained to Palestine, because Hyrcanus was now deprived of his temporal and confined to his priestly power. If we examine the matter according to the reason of the case, it was probably a great gain to the population to have the Mosaic law administered at its own doors by its own local leaders rather than by a priest-king sitting at a distance in Jerusalem. If we test it by the general spirit of the policy of this proconsul, we are led to suppose it friendly, because with it there was combined the rebuilding of some cities which had been overthrown. If we follow the authority of Josephus, we are bound to take it as a measure altogether favorable to Jewish liberties; for he says, "thus the Jews were liberated from dynastic rule, and remained under the government of their local heads" (ὲν ὰριστοκρατείᾁ διἢγν).
Since the text, as it stands, entirely overthrows the doctrine that Gadara was a Gentile city, the propounders of that theory can only meet their difficulty by altering it, although they must surely feel that the contradiction of two independent works is a remedy not daring only, but rather desperate.
But, independently of the confirmatory witness of a double text, Josephus can not have written Gazara, for, if he had done so, he would have committed the absurd error of contradicting himself in the very sentence in which he wrote it.
Gazara is not only "far on the other side of Jordan." We are dealing with the northeast of the country, and Gazara is in the extreme southwest. Josephus says expressly that Gabinius divided the country into five equal districts. Now the old kingdom of Judæa may be taken roughly as one third of Palestine. Samaria was probably excluded: even if it were not, the case is not greatly altered. For the emendation thus "pointed out" entirely overthrows the equality of the districts. It gives to Judæa three out of the five Sanhedrims, and, leaving Amathus for the country beyond Jordan, assigns to Sepphoris alone the Galilees and Decapolis, or a territory about as large as that given to the three southern centers conjointly.
It can hardly be necessary to observe that, besides this fatal objection, Gazara seems to be disqualified by its geographical remoteness near the southwestern border, and perhaps also by comparative historical insignificance.
The emendation, then, has to be committed emendaturis ignibus for self-contradiction; and the twice-repeated testimony of Josephus stands intact, showing that, shortly after the time of Pompey, Gadara was chosen for a purpose which obviously required, and which therefore establishes its being, a great center of Hebrew or Mosaic population.
III. Military Importance.—Having shown that Gadara was important as a center of population which was either Jewish in blood or governed by the Jewish law, I will next show that Gadara was also formidable as a seat of Jewish military power. The time came when Vespasian had to contemplate operations against Jerusalem. And now, says Josephus, "it was necessary for him to subdue what remained unsubdued, and to leave nothing behind him which might prevent his prosecution of the siege."
Accordingly, he marched to the point of danger. This was Gadara, the strong metropolis of Peræa, which had once, against Jannæus, stood a siege of ten months. The rich, who were numerous there, escaping the notice of their opponents, had invited him. On the approach of Vespasian, the party disposed to war found itself (and no wonder) in a minority, and fled; but not till they had massacred Dolesus, the author of the invitation to the Roman general. In their absence, the people received Vespasian with acclamations. But they pulled down the walls of their own accord; and he then left with them a garrison of horse and foot to defend them against the return of the expelled party. Why were the walls pulled down, except to prevent the population from holding the city against the Romans? Why, although the wealthy and the local governing power was friendly, yet was a Roman garrison left behind, but because the dominant force in the city, apart from foreign intervention, was a Hebrew or antiRoman, and not a Gentile, force? And does not this passage, even if it stood alone, abundantly suffice to show that, whatever the division of parties may have been, Gadara was not, "to all intents and purposes, a Gentile city"? It was a city from which Vespasian apprehended an attack in his rear; and to prevent this he makes it an open city, and leaves a force in it in order that his partisans might continue to have the upper hand.
But let us not suppose that these partisans were necessarily Gentiles. I must again press the proposition that the Jews of that era, or the population observing the Mosaic law, were largely divided into peace party and war party, and that we may find the peace party acting with the Gentiles against their fellow-countrymen, in order to avoid the alternative of war. I will now refer to a passage which shows this in a manner quite conclusive. Gischala appears to have been a city of the extreme war party, though it, too, had partisans of peace. However, it broke away, and was in consequence assailed and destroyed by a composite force of Tyrians, Sogarenes, Gadarenes, and Gabarenes. It seems quite natural that the Tyrians, a Gentile people, should actively maintain the Roman domination. And the Gadarenes on this occasion acted with them. Shall this prove Gadara to be a Gentile city? Certainly not; for Gabara was a Galilæan, and, as Mr. Huxley sees, a thoroughly Jewish city, and yet it shared in the overthrow of Gischala. There can not be a clearer proof that, in certain cases, it was not the question of religion or race that determined the balance of opinion and the action of the community, but the question of war or peace. I rely, then, on the strategical movement of Vespasian to show that Gadara, an important center of Jewish population, was also in the main an important seat of Jewish military strength; most of all, perhaps, as being the center at which the rural population of Gadaris would muster for war in case of emergency.
IV. The Jewish Law in Gadaris.—Although, in inquiries of this kind, we may speak of Jewish or Hebrew populations, as Dean Milman does, to describe generally those who were adverse to the Roman power, the expressions are not quite satisfactory, because, in themselves, they involve a condition of race; whereas, to say nothing of those descendants of the ancient Canaanites who had conformed to Judaism, we find that the Mosaic law was imposed at the time of which we treat, as a consequence of conquest if not on Gentile yet on mixed populations. And the real question in respect to the Gadarene territory is not exclusively whether the population were of Hebrew extraction, but also, and indeed mainly, whether they were Jewish as being bound by the Jewish law: or, as I should like to call it, whether they were a Mosaic population. To this question let us now further look.
According to Origen, Gadara was simply a city of Judæa. According to Josephus in one passage, it was a Grecian city, as were Hippos and Gaza. But in another place he includes it in a great group of cities which were Syrian, Idumæan, or Phœnician, and he then places it in the Syrian subdivision of that group. We are guided by the nature of the case to the meaning of these two last-named designations. There was no properly Hellenic element reckoned in the population of the country,Strabo, xvi, 2. though there must have been a sprinkling of Greeks concerned in the administration of the kingdoms founded by Alexander's generals. As there were Phœnicians in the earliest Hellas, so now there were important Hellenic settlers in Asia, and, without doubt, a larger number of Hellenized Asiatics. In connection with the name of Gadaris, Strabo| enumerates a few Greek individuals of some distinction. The case has been sufficiently explained by Grote, who allows as the characteristics of what was, he thinks improperly, called Hellenism, in the kingdoms after Alexander, the common use of Greek speech, a certain proportion of Greeks, both as inhabitants and as officers, and a partial streak of Hellenic culture. The flavor of Hellenism would be found rather at central spots than in the country at large. At Gadara it might be sustained by the bath, which probably made it a place of fashionable resort. But in this qualified or diluted sense, the name of Grecian was applied both to the Syrian and the Egyptian powers, and the Rescript of Augustus respecting religion accordingly describes Judæa as having suffered grievously from Greek cruelty. Politically, Gadara with Hippos and Gaza were given to Herod, and after his death, on the division of his dominions, they were re-annexed to Syria. But these were administrative changes, without any effect, so far as appears, on the laws and religion of the country. Very different was the change which ensued when, from having been a Syrian city, it was acquired by Alexander Jannæus for Judæa. My opponent has overlooked the capital fact, that what Judæa acquired or recovered by conquest was thereupon placed under the Mosaic law. In Samaria, we may safely assume that it was there already when Jannæus conquered it. When Idumæa was subdued by his father Hyrcanus, that law was established, and the people were at once circumcised. In the case now before us the statement, though indirect, is equally conclusive. When Josephus enumerates the cities conquered by Jannæus, Pella closes the list. But Pella, he adds, they destroyed, because the inhabitants would not submit to the Mosaic law (τὰ πάτρια τᾢν Ἲνδαίων ἔθη). It is plain therefore that the other cities, of which Gadara was one, remained intact, because they allowed the law of Moses to become the law of the land.
Alexander Jannæus died in b. c. 70. But there is not, so far as I know, the smallest evidence that the law was altered here, any more than in Galilee or Judæa, before the time of our Saviour. Mr. Huxley indeed again and again assumes the contrary, but without citing a single authority, or even taking notice of the testimony from Josephus which I have here given; and it is in the light of this passage that we have to consider the establishment of the by Gibinius. He says, indeed (without any reference), that the only laws of Gadara were the Gentile laws sanctioned by the Roman suzerain.Ibid., p. 977. Now we know something of the proceedings of the Roman suzerain in the time of Augustus, with regard to the Jews, not of Judæa merely, but of Asia at large and of Cyrenais, who appealed to Cæsar against what they termed Greek oppression. The answer commends the fidelity of the Jews; it especially lauds Hyrcanus, the actual high priest; and then grants to the Jews without limit the full enjoyment of their own peculiar laws after the manner of their fathers as they were enjoying them under Hyrcanus, the high priest. This charter of continuance for the Mosaic law where it prevailed is issued during the lifetime of Herod the Great, and before the reannexation of Gadara to the Syrian province. I can hardly suppose, however, that any one would assign to that merely administrative change the effect of altering the religious law of the country, a matter in which the rule of Roman policy was that of resolute non-interference.
I conceive, then, that the conquest of Jannæus, together with the measures of Gabinius, leave no reasonable ground for doubting that the law established in Gadara at that period was the Mosaic law; and also that the Rescript of Augustus confirms this proposition. But confirmation is not required. If the religious system of the Jews was established there in the time of Gabinius, we must assume its continuance until we find it changed. Of such a change there is not, I believe, any sign before the time of our Lord.
V. Strabo.—Were it only on account of his general authority, we must not omit to notice the particulars which Strabo has supplied with respect to Gadaris. He has indeed fallen into undeniable confusion as to geographical arrangement, yet not so as to hide the real effect of some important statements.
In proceeding southward along the Syrian coast, Strabo places Gadaris next to Joppa; then come Azotus, Ascalon, and Gaza. From Gadara proceeded five persons with Grecian names, of whom he gives a list. Now this Gadara has points of contact with the Gadara of the north, first because he speaks of it as Gadaris, a territory and not only a town; secondly, because the Greeks whom he names are known to have sprung from Gadara of Peræa. Let us now try to clear up this matter.
Proceeding from Gaza toward Pelusium, he introduces the Sirbonian Lake or morass; but in describing by characteristic details the nature of its waters, he gives them properties which, copied from Diodorus, render it an accurate account of the Dead Sea; except that he assigns to it only two hundred stadia in length, and makes it stretch along the sea-coast, which agrees with the Sirbonian Lake, while the length of the Dead Sea nearly reaches forty miles. He was in fact almost wholly ignorant of the interior; and, as he confounded the Dead Sea with the Sirbonian Lake, he probably also confounded the Lake of Tiberias with the Dead Sea, both being on the line of the Jordan; and thus was led to bring Gadaris into geographical relation with it and with the coast.
The chief importance, however, of his account is to be found in a third point of contact with the true Gadaris which it presents. He describes the appropriation of this territory by a remarkable phrase. The Jews, he says, xxx, made it conform to their own model; thus supporting emphatically the account drawn above from Josephus respecting the introduction of the Jewish law into the district.
It seems possible that Strabo may have been in part misled by the name of Gazara, which was in this part of Palestine, and which had likewise been Judaized upon a military conquest.
VI. Gadara and Gabara.—Vespasian, in commencing his campaign of a. d. 67, came from Antioch to Ptolemais to unite his force with that of Titus. He was there met by a party sent out of Sepphoris, who obtained from him a Roman garrison, From this center, all Galilee was laid waste with fire and sword, there being no safety except in the cities fortified by Josephus. Vespasian then carried his army of overwhelming force across the Galilæan frontier, and encamped there to try the moral effect upon the enemy. It was so powerful that Josephus, who commanded the Jews, withdrew his force to Tiberias, at the extremity of the province.
Hereupon, says our historian, Vespasian attacked the city of the Gadarenes, took it at the first assault, as it was not provided with a fighting force, and on his entry slaughtered the inhabitants of military age, for two reasons—one of which was hatred to their race. As the text stands, it proves at least a wide prevalence of Jewish nationality in the city and region of Gadaris.
It is proposed, however, to alter Gadara into Gabara, and the alteration, first suggested by Reland (1714), but not adopted by Hudson (1720) or Cardwell (1837), has received the approval of Schürer, of Milman, and of Robinson. I speak of it with respect, out of deference to such authorities. They do not seem to have stated conclusive or even detailed reasons, beyond the remark that, while Gabara may be within fifteen miles of Ptolemais, Gadara is out of Galilee, and more than twice the distance. Prof. Huxley has gone much further, and has set forth strategical reasons which he thinks demonstrate that Vespasian's case would have been one truly of demoniacal possession could he have passed by Gabara and marched on to Gadara. For the Roman line of march would have been between Gabara, to the north, and Jotopata, a fortified city in strong position on the south. According to Robinson, I may observe the distance between the two is only from six to eight Roman miles. Vespasian "could not afford to leave these strongholds in the possession of the enemy," and from Gabara "his communications with his base could easily be threatened."
Now this statement is contradicted right and left by the facts. For first, if Gabara be the right reading, it was (and so Milman has stated it) ungarrisoned. Secondly, it was not a stronghold at all; for Josephus tells us that all Galilee was now cruelly devastated with fire and sword by the Romans, and there was nowhere any refuge, except in the cities he had fortified; of which Gabara was not one. Thirdly, in the narrow region between Gabara and Jotopata lay Sepphoris, which was held by the Romans, and was the stronghold from which all Galilee was laid waste. Fourthly, Vespasian, in defiance of his modern instructor, did leave behind him all the twelve or fourteen strong places that Josephus had fortified except one. Fifthly, he did, indeed, march against Jotopata, but for this he had a very strong reason, quite apart from fears about his base, which would under the circumstances have been chimerical; namely, that the Roman commander, Placidus, had just before failed in an attack upon it, and had been defeated and put to flight under its walls. We may now, I think, bid adieu to the strategy of Prof. Huxley.
Many a good cause, however, suffers from the use of bad arguments in its favor. It remains for me to offer, with due submission some reasons, which appear to me serious, in support of the text as it stands.
1. Josephus says Vespasian attacked "the city of the Gadarenes." So far as I know, he uses this form of expression only when the city is the center of a district (Gadaris), named after it. Such was the case of Gadara, but not of Gabara. He does not call Sepphoris the city of the Sepphorites, or Gamala the city of the Gamalenes.
2. He says the place was taken at the first assault; appropriately enough for a fortified place shorn of its garrison, but not appropriate for an open town.
3. Gamala, as part of the open country of Galilee, was already in full subjection to the Romans.
4. If, as we see, Vespasian began his operations by securing Sepphoris, the capital of Galilee, and thereby secured the province, so that the Jewish force fled to Tiberias, was it strange or unnatural that he should as his next operation secure the capital of Peraea to dominate the territory beyond Jordan?
5. The text, as it stands, agrees with Book iv, 7, 3, in testifying to the military importance of Gadara: but the emendation makes Vespasian prefer to Jotopata a place which apparently counted for nothing in military movements.
VII. Testimony of the Evangelists.—Bidding farewell now to the text of Josephus, I do not know that we have much more assistance to expect from secular literature as to Gadara and its district. But a very important light is cast upon it by the Synoptical Gospels, and by the facts of the Old Testament history in their relation to the geographical precinct, which was also in general the ethnical limit, of our Lord's ministry upon earth.
It was, apparently, a part of the providential calling of the race of Abraham that they were to have in the first instance for themselves a distinct and separate offer of the new "glad tidings." Christ was not sent, accordingly, "but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel." It is most interesting to observe how and in what localities this offer took effect.
We naturally look in the first instance to Jerusalem and the country belonging to it. Our Lord was born, as we know, in Judæa; and the scene of the Gospel of St. John, which is in the main confined to Jerusalem and its neighborhood, and also in the main to a few continuous narratives, is principally laid there. The territory of Samaria was immediately contiguous to that of Judæa, but "the Jews had no dealings" with the mixed race inhabiting that country, and our Saviour seems never to have exercised there more than what may be termed an accidental ministry. But the Baptism and temptation were in Galilee. It was there that He commenced His course of miracles. When the wakeful jealousy of the Pharisees made it needful for Him to quit Judæa and repair to Galilee, "He must needs go through Samaria." Then came the (so to speak) casual meeting and discourse with the woman of Samaria, to whom He declared that salvation was of the Jews. Out of the report which she carried away from Him, there grew an invitation of the Samaritans to the Saviour, praying Him to come among them: but He abode with them only two days, and passed on into Galilee. It is wonderful to observe how large a proportion of His ministry was exercised in the north. Nor was it in the neighborhood of His own city of Nazareth, nor equally diffused over the Galilæan provinces from east to west, but was almost confined, or most largely given, to the eastern district and the close neighborhood of the Galilæan sea. Here and hereabouts we have the principal specific narratives of the calling of the Apostles, to the number, apparently, of six. Here lay the chief scene of our Lord's active ministry: here was delivered the Sermon on the Mount. It was not only from the eastern or Galilæan side of this sea, but from Decapolis also He was followed by great multitudes; and of Decapolis Gadara and its district were an important, and were also the nearest, part. And the fact that our Saviour selected Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for the denunciation of the woes, on account of the privileges that they had enjoyed, at once denotes the scenes of His habitual preaching, and bears appalling testimony to its rejection. Dr. Edersheim places a group of the miracles to the east of the sea of Galilee in "a semi-heathen population," lying much beyond Gadara. But he includes the eastern shores of the lake in the country which he describes as the principal seat of Jewish nationalism. This perhaps was "Galilee of the Gentiles. Nor did our Lord wholly avoid the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, Matt-xv, 21; Mark vii, 24. where there were Jews in considerable numbers: but the contrast between these towns and those before named proves the comparative rarity of His visits. If they were also rare in Decapolis," through the midst of the coasts of which " He came, we must recollect that this district, constituted under Greek authority, included Damascus and other Gentile cities. We know very well that Hebraic settlement and influence were not in our Lord's time confined to the western side of the Lake of Tiberias; for the town of Gamala on its eastern side (see Robinson's map) was sternly Jewish in the final struggle, which was also sustained by multitudes, so says Josephus, from Peræa as well as other parts of Palestine; Peræa being regularly reckoned as part of Palestine by the Rabbis.
We need not doubt that there was a variable Syrian infusion in the population of this country. But we have to bear in mind that Gadaris and all its neighborhood formed part of the old promised land, and that, accordingly, the law of Moses had been in force there from a date running back fifteen hundred years; except, perhaps, at the comparatively recent period at which it had been reckoned for a time as a Syrian city. The right general assumption, therefore, is that the large majority, especially of the rural and laboring population, was either of genuinely Hebrew origin, or was drawn from one of those nations of Canaan who were in prior occupation. As to these, the reader of the Sacred Volume must be struck by the contrast between the pre-exilic and the post-exilic times. In the earlier history of Palestine, we are only too much reminded of their presence by the fatal fascinations of their worship. At the later period, when Judaism had set itself firmly against idolatry, they seem to be effaced; and we are left to infer that unless in Samaria, on which they imprinted a hybrid character, they had either quitted the country or had been drawn gradually within the compass of the more substantive religion, and had come to be reckoned in the number of the dominant and stronger race. Over and above these considerations, and that re-establishment of the Jewish law in the recovered cities, of which notice has already been taken, it is known that, after the two captivities, there was a powerful reflux or reaction of the Hebrew element or race in Northern Palestine, which, perhaps, was the means of establishing the broad distinction between it and Samaria. Dean Milman notices this infusion. Samaria remained, he observes, in comparative insignificance. But the north became gradually populous, whether from the multiplication of those who had escaped deportation, or from those who returned, with the aid, perhaps, of families belonging to the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin. We might have expected it partially to repair to the neighboring district of Samaria, and to the temple on Mount Gerizim; but, on the contrary, the inhabitants worshiped in Jerusalem, followed the fortunes of its ruling power, and fought desperately at the close for the national cause. He speaks in particular of the two Galilees, but the resistance, as Dr. Edersheim has stated, extended beyond them, and it is plain that in a portion, at least, and evidently the nearer portion, of Decapolis strong nationalism prevailed. And here we may admire the wisdom of Gabinius in providing at Gadara and Sepphoris for the local administration of the law, and thus relieving this great population from much of the inconvenience of dependence on a distant center at Jerusalem.
Quite apart from the conclusive testimony of Josephus, Mr. Huxley has evidently seen that the Synoptical Gospels, in the narrative of the swine, and in other parts, presuppose the predominance of a Hebrew nationality in the population of Gadaris. He is wise, therefore, in not only rejecting the story, but availing himself of the occasion in order to challenge the general authority of the Gospels. Conversely, all we who acknowledge their historical credit, must feel how improbable it is that our Lord should have carried His ministry into a really Greek or Gentile district on the only one occasion when He thought fit to run counter to the public sentiment, and to give to His action the character of a serious interference with the rights of property. How could He have ventured thus to associate Himself with the destruction of a great herd of swine, if the country was Gentile, and if those swine belonged to persons not bound by the prohibition of the Mosaic law? Might they not, and would they not, have resorted to the use of force against this unarmed as well as unauthorized intruder? But what happens is that the swineherds fly; according to all the three Evangelists, they fly; to the city, according to St. Matthew and St. Mark, which was the seat of authority; and they tell what had happened. Why, then, if this was a land of Gentile rule, and if the swineherds were Gentiles, why was not our Saviour—since His agency was recognized—either assailed by popular violence, or called regularly to account by the law of the land; by that "Hellenic Gadarene law," with the supposed existence of which Mr. Huxley pastures his imagination? Instead of this, without the slightest idea of an accusation against our Lord, the population, streaming forth, simply consult for their own temporal interests, and beseech Him to depart out of their coasts.
The supply of swine testifies indeed to the existence of a demand. It may probably testify also to the existence of a Gentile class or element in the country. The question, indeed, which relates to the use of pork as an article of diet has by no means that uniformity of color, outside the Mosaic law, which Prof. Huxley assigns to it. But it would be tedious by entering upon it to lengthen a paper already too long, for we may safely allow that among the Syrian Gentiles this diet may have been known, and may not have entailed any legal penalty.
Mr. Huxley concludes the argumentative portion of his article by insisting that the "party of Galilæans" were foreigners in the Decapolis, and could have no title, as private individuals, even to vindicate the law. I will not argue the point, which is wholly immaterial to my purpose; and it may not be easy to draw with exactness the line up to which the private person may go of his own motion in supporting established law. I confine myself to the following propositions:
1. Both from antecedent likelihoods, and from history, there is the strongest reason to believe that the Mosaic law was the public law of Gadaris.
2. Even if it had been relaxed as public law, yet those traditionally bound to it would not have been released from the moral obligation of obedience, and all the particulars go to show that the keepers of the swine were thus bound.
3. In the enforcement of a law which bound the conscience, our Lord had an authority such as does not belong to the private individual.
4. That the Gadarenes should have deprecated any recurrence of this interference with unlawful gains, is no more wonderful than that the population of the maritime counties of Great Britain should, in the days of our protective tariff, have been favorable to smuggling, and should even have resented, as they did, the interference of conscientious clergymen whose duty it was to denounce the practice.
5. That they should have done no more than ask for our Saviour's departure, affords of itself the strongest presumption that the action in which He co-operated, and which was certainly detrimental, was not illegal.
I submit these observations upon an historical subject, complicated by several difficulties, with all respect to those who differ from me. I do not deny that the population of Decapolis was in some sense a mixed population, partially resembling that of Samaria. But to suppose the swineherds to have been punished by Christ for pursuing a calling which to them was an innocent one, is to run counter to every law of reasonable historic interpretation. I will not assume that I have even now exhausted the subject, though I have not knowingly omitted anything material. But Prof. Huxley is so well pleased with his own contentions, that he thinks the occasion one suitable for pointing out the intellectual superiority to which he has been led up by scientific training. I believe that I have overthrown every one of them; but I do not think the achievement such as would warrant my concluding by paying myself a compliment.—Nineteenth Century.
- Nineteenth Century, July, 1890, p. 22. [Popular Science Monthly, September, 1890, p. 649.]
- Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture, p. 260.
- Heb. i, 3.
- Nineteenth Century, December 1890, p. 968.
- Consult Cornelius a Lapide, and his references to others, on Matt, viii, 28-34. Thomas Scott's commentary is worthy of notice.
- Nineteenth Century, December, 1890, p. 972.
- See also McClellan's New Testament, on Matt, viii, 28, for the testimony of St. Jerome.
- Orig., Comment, in Joann., p. 145.
- Nineteenth Century, p. 973.
- Ibid., p. 974.
- Nineteenth Century, p. 973.
- Josephus, de Bell. Jud., i, 7, 7.
- Nineteenth Century, p. 974.
- Ibid, on Bell. Jud., ii, 18, 1.
- Nineteenth Century, p. 974.
- Bell. Jud., ii, 18, 5.
- Antiq. xiv, 5, 4; Bell. Jud., i, 8, 5.
- Ibid., ii, 18, 11.
- Ibid., ii., 20, 6.
- Vita, c. 8.
- Vita, c. 11.
- Milman, Hist. Jews, ii, 280-4.
- Ibid., ii, 290.
- Milman, Hist. Jews, ii, 315 seqq.
- Ibid., ii, 305.
- Geschichte des jüdiscben Volks im Zeitalter Jesu Christi, Leipzig, 1386-'90.
- Antiq., xiii, 13, 5 (Schürer. ii, 91); ibid., xiv, 5, 4; Bell. Judd., i, 8, 5; ibid., iii, 1, 1; Vita, c. 15.
- Ninteenth Century, p. 973.
- Antiq., xiv, 5, 4; Bell. Judd., i, 8, 5.
- Gesch., i, 276.
- Antiq., xiv, 5, 4.
- Bell. Jud., iv, 7, 3.
- Josephus, Vita, c. x.
- In Joann., p. 141.
- Bell. Jud., ii, 6, 3.
- Antiq., xiii, 15, 4.
- Ibid., xvi, 2, 29.
- Hist, of Greece, xii, 362-7.
- Antiq., xvi, 6, 2.
- Bell. Jud., ii, 5, 3. Antiq., xvii, 11,4.
- Mr. Huxley says, "It is said to have been destroyed by captors." It is not so stated by Josephus in his account of the conquest. But it seems to have undergone some reverse before the time of Pompey (b. c. 65), by whose favor it was restored.
- Antiq., xiii, 15, 4.
- Milman, Hist. Jews, ii, 28. Bell. Jud., xix, 9, 1.
- Antiq., xiii, 15, 4.
- Nineteenth Century, pp. 977-8.
- Josephus, Antiq., xvi, 6, 1, 2.
- Strabo, xvi, 2, p. 759.
- Schürer, ii, 91.
- Strabo, 763.
- Williams in Smith's Dictionary.
- Bell. Jud., ii, 2, 4.
- Ibid., 4, 1.
- Ibid., 6, 2, 3.
- Ibid., 7, 1.
- ii, 243.
- Biblical Researches, iv, 37.
- Biblical Researches, iv, 87 (1832).
- Nineteenth Century, p. 976.
- Bell. Jud., iii, 3, 1.
- John iv, 9.
- Matt, iii, 1, 13; iv, 1.
- John ii, 11.
- Ibid., i, 43; ii, 1-11.
- Ibid., v, 22.
- Ibid., v, 40.
- Matt, iv, 18-22, and John i, 40-51.
- Matt, iv, 25.
- Ibid., xi, 21-24; Luke x, 13-15.
- Life and Times of Jesus, ch. xxxiv.
- Ibid., ch. x, vol. i, p. 238.
- Matt, iv, 15; Isaiah ix, 1.
- Mark vii, 31.
- Milman, Hist. Jews, ii, 280-6.
- Edersheim, i, 398.
- Edersheim, i, 441, 2.
- Matt, viii, 34; Mark v, 13.
- Nineteenth Century, p. 976.
- Matt, viii, 34; Mark v, IV; Luke viii, 37.
- Nineteenth Century, p. 978.
- Bell. Jud., iii, 3, 2.