The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings
by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
The Jews, a Semitic people, followed the same custom all down the ages and times they lived as a nation. They neglected the prophets, laid more stress on their traditions than on the texts foretelling Christ, and when He came they did not know or receive Him. After the destruction of the Holy City by the Romans under Titus, Hadrian, etc., when they were forbidden to live in it, they made Tiberius the religious capital of Judea.
There in the second century, where Rabbi Judah had a college, they wrote down these traditions in a work called the Talmud, a Hebrew word meaning study, teaching or discipline. This is called the Jerusalem Talmud. But there is another, composed at Babylon, called the Babylonian Talmud.
The Talmud forms three texts, the first being the sacred text of the Old Testament, called the Micra, then the Mishna, which was written by Rabbi Judah, the holy teachings or the traditions, and the third the Midras or explanation of the-mysteries hidden in the text. The fourth, called the Ghemara, gives not only a running commentary, but is also explanatory of words and names of famous scholars. The fifth, called the Agadah, goes deeper into the hidden meanings of the Bible by Kabbalistic or Doctrinal explanations. The Babylonia Talmud the writer used in the Astor Library New York, is in twenty quarto volumes in English, and the Jerusalem Talmud, in French, is in forty volumes. It contains a vast amount of rubbish, with scintilations of truth scattered here and there relating to Christ, the Temple, and the time of which we write. It is a tiresome task to read it.
Peculiar writings, called " Apocryphal Gospels, Acts, and Revelations," come down to us from the earliest ages of Christianity. They once formed a part of the New Testament, and were read in the churches. But the Third and Fourth Councils of Carthage separated them from the New Testament, and fixed the Bible as we have it now. The Bishop of Rome confirmed the decrees and the Scriptures ever after remained as we have them to-day.
These works, not inspired, must be read with great care, for they contain many untruths. The earliest writers and fathers of the Church quote them, showing that they existed in their time. They go into minute details of Christ's life and throw great light on that important epoch of human history.
God foresaw that the Jews would reject Christ, that another race was required to administer the Church and spread the Gospel into other nations, and in a wonderful way He prepared for Christianity. Let us now see how He did that. While the Hebrews lived their simple farmer lives on Judea'g hills and plains, God's Providence directing nations is making ready two races which are to influence mankind till the end of time. The sons of Javan, " God be praised," whose fathers, Japheth's children, had settled the Isles of the inland Sea and Greece, are developing their civilization. In Macedonia was born to Philip's royal family a son he named Alexander, " Man's lover," 1 Feeling the instincts of that blessing N'oe uttered on the white man: " May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Sem," (Gen. ix. 27.) Alexander dreamed of universal empire.
Leading his Greek army, he swept over the earth, with a swiftness and a triumph which have astonished historians. All the east of Europe fell before him. Asia Minor, the north of Africa, Babylonia, Assyria, and even the Indies he subdued. Wherever he went he brought Greek civilization, language and customs. Why was this ? Because there was to come a religious empire of the Crucified, the Universal Church, and a universal language was required, that she might speak to the nations in a tongue they all could understand. Nearly all the New Testament, and the Masses, the Apostles composed in Greek. In 334 B. C. Alexander marched against Palestine. Now let us see, in Josephus' words, how God directed him, and how he came to Jerusalem. (Josephus, Antiq. B. xi. C. viii. 4.)
" Now Alexander, when he had taken Gaza, made haste to go up to Jerusalem. And Jaddua, the high priest, when he heard that, was in agony, and under terror, as not knowing how he should meet the Macedonians. He ordered therefore that the people should make supplications, and should join with him in offering sacrifices." Then God warned him in a dream to open the city to Alexander.
"And when he understood that he (Alexander) was not far from the city, he went out in procession, with the priests and the multitude of citizens. The procession was venerable, and the manner of it different from that of other nations. It reached to a place called Sapha, which name translated into Greek signifies " a prospect," for you have thence a prospect, both of Jerusalem and of the Temple. And when the Phenicians and the Chaldeans, that followed him, thought they should have liberty to plunder the city, and torment the high priest to death, which the king's displeasure promised them, the very re verse of it happened. For Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance in white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine linen, and the high priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his mitre on his head, having the golden plate whereon the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself and adored that name, and first saluted the high priest. The Jews also did altogether salute Alexander, and encompass him about. Whereupon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done, and supposed him disordered in his mind. However, Parmenio alone went up to him, and asked him how it came to pass, that when all others adored him, he should adore the high priest of the Jews ? To whom he replied,
" I did not adore him, but that God who hath honored him with high priesthood. For I saw this very person in a dream in this very habit, when I was at Dios in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but to boldly pass over the sea thither, for that he would conduct my army and give me dominion over the Persians. Whence it is that having seen no other in that habit, and now seeing this person in it, and remembering that vision, and the exhortation, which I had in my dream, I believe that I bring this army under the divine conduct, and shall therewith conquer Darius, and destroy the power of the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to what is in my own mind.
"And when he had said this to Parmenio, and had given the priest his right hand, the priests ran along with him, and he came into the city, and when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high priest's direction, and magnificently treated the high priest and the priests. And when the Book of Daniel was shown him, (Dan. vii. 6; viii. 3-8, 20, 21, 22 ; xi. 3, etc.) wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks would destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that he himself was the person in tended, and as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present. But the next day he called them to him, and bade them ask what favors they pleased of him, whereupon the high priest desired that they might enjoy the laws of their forefathers, and might pay no tribute on the seventh year. lie granted all they desired." (Josephus, Antiq. B.xi. Art viii. 5.) From that time the Greek language became the spoken tongue among the learned and the nobles of the Holy Land.
1 Mentioned three times in the first and second chapters of I. Machabees.