This argumentation of Peter, therefore, had it even emanated from the apostle himself, instead of being a "religious romance," as the author of Supernatural Religion calls it, would prove nothing whatever in favor of the identity of the God of the Jews, with the "Father" of Jesus. At best it would only demonstrate that Peter had remained from first to last "an apostle of circumcision," a Jew faithful to his old law, and a defender of the Old Testament. This conversation proves, moreover, the weakness of the cause he defends, for we see in the apostle a man who, although in most intimate relations with Jesus, can furnish us nothing in the way of direct proof that he ever thought of teaching that the all-wise and all-good Paternity he preached was the morose and revengeful thunderer of Mount Sinai. But what the Homilies do prove, is again our assertion that there was a secret doctrine preached by Jesus to the few who were deemed worthy to become its recipients and custodians. "And Peter said: 'We remember that our Lord and teacher, as commanding, said to us, guard the mysteries for me, and the sons of my house. Wherefore also he explained to his disciples, privately, the mysteries of the kingdoms of the heavens.'"*
If we now recall the fact that a portion of the Mysteries of the "Pagans" consisted of the aporrJhvta, aporrheta, or secret discourses; that the secret Logia or discourses of Jesus contained in the original Gospel according to Matthew, the meaning and interpretation of which St. Jerome confessed to be "a difficult task" for him to achieve, were of the same nature; and if we remember, further, that to some of the interior or final Mysteries only a very select few were admitted; and that finally it was from the number of the latter that were taken all the ministers of the holy "Pagan" rites, we will then clearly understand this expression of Jesus quoted by Peter: "Guard the Mysteries for me and the sons of my house," i.e., of my doctrine. And, if we understand it rightly, we cannot avoid thinking that this "secret" doctrine of Jesus, even the technical expressions of which are but so many duplications of the Gnostic and Neo-platonic mystic phraseology — that this doctrine, we say, was based on the same transcendental philosophy of Oriental Gnosis as the rest of the religions of those and earliest days. That none of the later Christian sects, despite their boasting, were the inheritors of it, is evident from the contradictions, blunders, and clumsy repatching of the mistakes of every preceding century by the discoveries of the succeeding one. These mistakes, in a number of manuscripts claimed to be authentic, are sometimes so ridiculous as to bear on their face the evidence of being pious forgeries. Thus, for instance, the utter ignorance of some patristic champions of the very gospels they claimed to defend. We have mentioned the accusation against Marcion by Tertullian and Epiphanius of mutilating the Gospel ascribed to Luke, and erasing from it that which is now proved to have never been in that Gospel at all. Finally, the method adopted by Jesus of speaking in parables, in which he only followed the example of his sect, is attributed in the Homilies to a prophecy of Isaiah! Peter is made to remark: "For Isaiah said: 'I will open my mouth in parables, and I will utter things that have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.' " This erroneous reference to Isaiah of a sentence given in Psalms lxxviii. 2, is found not only in the apocryphal Homilies, but also in the Sinaitic Codex. Commenting on the fact in the Supernatural Religion, the author states that "Porphyry, in the third century, twitted Christians with this erroneous ascription by their inspired evangelist to Isaiah of a passage from a Psalm, and reduced the Fathers to great straits."+ Eusebius and Jerome tried to get out of the difficulty by ascribing the mistake to an "ignorant scribe"; and Jerome even went to the length of asserting that the name of Isaiah never stood after the above sentence in any of the old codices, but that the name of Asaph was found in its place, only "ignorant men had removed it."} To this, the author again observes that "the fact is that the reading 'Asaph' for 'Isaiah' is not found in any manuscript extant; and, f "Supernatural Religion," p. 11.
J Hieron., "Opp.," vii., p. 270, ff.; "Supernatural Religion," p. 11.
although 'Isaiah' has disappeared from all but a few obscure codices, it cannot be denied that the name anciently stood in the text. In the Sinaitic Codex, which is probably the earliest manuscript extant . . . and which is assigned to the fourth century," he adds, "the prophet Isaiah stands in the text by the first hand, but is erased by the second."*
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