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The Age of Christ at the Crucifixion.

(Jan. knowledge already acquired, and ren- from father to son almost without in. der us incapable, through scepticism, quiry; surely then it is not too much of making any rapid progress in those to insist, that before any thing, upon things which are yet to be learned. If which antiquity has thus unquestionthis proposition be true in general mat- ably set its seal, and which has acters, it is indeed more obviously so in quired strength from the consent of things relating to religion, the more so many generations, is attempted to essential parts of which are mere ob- be overturned, .grounds of error, jects of faith; and to endeavour to es- “clear as proofs in Holy Writ,” should tablish which by the evidence of our be made out, and he who wishes to senses is highly improper, as tending promulgate a new opinion, should be to place the articles of our belief upon required to shew the incorrectness of insecure and unstable foundations. the former one, with an almost maThey,” said Dryden, “ who would thematical

accuracy. Whether Mr. prove religion by reason, do but weaken Bellamy has done this or not, let us the cause which they endeavour to now proceed to inquire; first premissupport-it is to take away the pillars ing, that Mr. B. states he has appealed from our faith, and prop it with a only to the present translation of the twig." There are, however, in reli- Scriptures in support of this argument. gion many questions, more particu- This subject acquires an additional Jarly as to dates and times, which interest and importance from its conform fair subjects for investigation, and nexion with the prophecy of the 70 these have been sifted with all the weeks of Daniel, the accomplishment skill and learning that humanity has of which forms one of the most conever been able to bring to the task. vincing proofs of the truth of ChristiUpon many of these points the opi- anity and the inspiration of the Sacred nion of men has long been made up, writings. The prophecy itself runs and he acts most unwisely who, with- thus-“Seventy weeks are determined out proper consideration, or upon slight on thy people, and thy holy city, to grounds, endeavours to subvert these finish the transgression, and to make received and commonly admitted opi- an end of sins, and to make reconnions. Mankind are not apt to dis- ciliation for iniquity, and to bring tinguish between questions of vital im- in everlasting righteousness, and to portance and mere matters of specula- seal up the vision and prophecy, and tion, and when a long entertained opi- to anoint the Most Holy. Know therenion is suddenly shaken by the inge- fore, and understand, that from the nious argument or subtle sophistry

of going forth of the commandment to an able disputant, they are too ready restore and to rebuild Jerusalem unto to conclude, that other matters which the Messiah the Prince, shall be sehave received from them an implicit ven weeks and threescore and two belief rest upon no better foundations, weeks; the street shall be built again and may be as easily subverted. and the wall, even in troublous

These reflections have been called times. And after threescore and two forth by the recent perusal of a tract, weeks shall Messiah be cut off.” Dain which attempt is made to prove niel ix. 24, 25, 26. Upon the founthat the age of Jesus Christ, at the dation of this prophecy the whole of time of the Crucifixion, was not 33} Mr. Bellamy's theory rests : in supyears, as we have been taught to be- port of it he produces, as far as I lieve; but that in fact our Saviour was collect, seven propositions, each of 524 years of age at the time he suf- which will be considered in its turn. fered. The author of this pamphlet

First. He endeavours to establish is stated to be John Bellamy, author that Jesus Christ was to appear at the of “The New Translation of the Bi- end of 62 weeks from the going forth ble from the Hebrew Text;" “ The of the commandment mentioned in History of all Religions ;”. “The Anti- the prophecy. Deist,” &c. The question here agi

“Christians and Jews," tated is one of those upon which Chris- Bellamy, “ are agreed that the 70 tians have long been agreed; the com- weeks signify 490 years; that is, in the mon opinion can be traced back (ac- prophetic language of Scripture, a cording to the account of Mr. Beila- year for a day. This being admitted, my) to the fourth century, and has it appears that in the prophecy there since that time been handed down are three very clear divisions of the

can

says Mr.

" that

1823.)
The Age of Christ at the Crucifixion.

11 70 weeks; viz. seven weeks or 49 text, threescore and two weeks), are years, and 62 weeks or 434 years, and wholly omitted, and that thereby the the consequently remaining one week sense and letter of the prophecy are or seven years; the whole commenc- made to bend to Mr. Bellamy's forced ing" from the going forth of the com- and erroneous construction. Is this mandment to restore and rebuild Je- then his manner of proving that the rusalem." With regard to the first world was in ignorance until he arose*. division, the seven weeks, that is usu- Is this his mode of appealing to the ally considered as the time which was present translation of the Scriptures ? occupied in rebuilding Jerusalem, and How faithfully he has transcribed their perfecting the Jewish constitution ; very words, and how honestly he has after the expiration of this term, 62 preserved their purity! weeks were to elapse before the ap- He next proceeds upon the basis of pearance of the Messiah; and after this palpable error, to assign a place these 62 weeks, and as appears from for the seven weeks which he had verse 27 in the midst of the last week thus dispossessed from their original (that is in three years and a half after station. “It follows,” he says, the conclusion of the 69 weeks) the the second division of the 70 weeks, Messiah was to be cut off. This then 7 weeks or 49 years, was to commence appears plain, that after (49 years and when Messiah made his advent, at the 434 years, i.e.) 483 years from the expiration of the 62 weeks, or 434 going forth of the commandment, the years. Thus, then, in the space

of a Messiah was to appear, and at the ex- few short sentences, has Mr. Bellamy piration of three years and a half from altered the whole meaning of the prohis appearance was to be cut off. In phecy, and by a stratagem more worthis manner it has been usual to con- thy the hero of a pantomime, than the sider that the prophecy has been ful- grave expounder of a passage of Scripfilled; but Mr. Bellamy, in opposition ture, rendered it subservient to the opito the plain reading of the original, nion which he proceeds more fully to wishes to displace the divisions of the detail. The fabrick which he raises 70 weeks, and endeavours in this first upon this disjointed foundation, is eviproposition to shew, that the 62 weeks, dently the work of the same architect'; which in the original are so evidently the cause is carried on by proofs as and distinctly placed after the seven convincing and as candid as the artifice weeks, should be transposed and reck- by which, in its outset, it is supported; oned before them. It would naturally and although we may feel but little be supposed that some shew of argu- doubt as to its issue, let us proceed to ment should be produced in support of examine the other evidence he adduces. this transposition, and that a change His third point is to make a date for so important would not be adopted the commandment to restore and rewithout grave and serious reasons; but build Jerusalem, which he does thus. Mr. B. seems to consider such trouble The Jews returned from the Babywholly unnecessary, and at once ef- lonish captivity, A. C. 536, in the first fects it as it were by slight of hand. year of the reign of Cyrus, who governHe performs the trick thus" Agree- ed altogether 28 years. Ahasuerus, his ably to the positive declaration of the successor, reigned seven years; Darius, prophecy, the advent of the Messiah who succeeded him, 30; and that his was to take place 434 years from that successor Artaxerxes reigned 31 years, time, when the commandınent went we have authority in Scripture. Mr. forth to restore and rebuild Jerusa- B. adds all these several reigns togelem; Know therefore, and understand, ther, and their sum, 102, being deductthat from the going forth of the com- ed from A. C. 536, the time of the remandment to restore and to build Je- turn of the Jews, there remain 434 rusalem, unto the Messiah, the Prince, A.C.; which answering to the length shall be sixty and two weeks.”-So of the 62 weeks, he therefore concludes far Mr. Bellamy; now it will be evi- the commencement of the interdent, upon reference to the prophecy val when the commandment went forth as it stands in the Old Testament, and to rebuild the city and the wall of Jeas previously stated, that the words rusalem; and the end of that period, “seven weeks and,” which ought to the time decreed when Christ was to have been inserted immediately before sixty and two weeks (or as it is in the * Vide the pamphlet, p. 4.

make

was

to

30

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The Age of Christ at the Crucifixion.

[Jan. make his appearance in the world." seven weeks as that part of our SaWhy Mr. Bellamy thinks this was viour's life which passed before his such commencement, he does not public ministry (which therefore did deign to inforın us; and, although I not commence until he was 49 years cannot see any reason for concluding of age), he produces a supposition, to it to have been so, I cannot see any account for the delay, and to explain for determining that it was not so. the manner in which he spent the The 70 weeks were commence early part of his life; which is, that as when the commandment went forth Jesus came to fulfil all righteousness, to restore and rebuild Jerusalem ; the so “it inust be allowed that he fulsimple question therefore is, did such filled that part of the Mosaic dispensacommandment go forth in the 31st of tion which commands those who are Artaxerxes ? To which it may be an- chosen to officiate in the ministry from swered, -Unquestionably it did not. years

old to 50.” Numerous in ferThe last commandinent granted to the ences might be drawn from the nature Jews was in the 20th year of the reign of our Lord's mission, and numerous of Artaxerxes, and not in the 31st. arguments might be adduced to prove (Nehem. ii.) Artaxerxes reigned 40 how unnecessary such a service was ; years, and Mr. B. might with equal but I shall confine myself to one, justice have chosen the 39th or 40th, which I think will render it evident as the 31st; for the simple circum- that no such service could by possibistance stated by Nehemiah, that he lity have been performed. The reguwaited

upon the King in the 32d year lations of the service of the Temple of his reign, thereby determining that are so fully set forth in the books of he reigned 31 full years, can never be the Old Testament, that few persons a sufficient or indeed any ground for who are at all acquainted with the conconcluding that it was in that year tents of that Holy Volume, can be igthe commandment went forth ; more norant of the manner in which they especially since it is previously stated were conducted. I need, therefore, that the commandment to assist Nehe- hardly state that the services of the miah in rebuilding Jerusalem, was Temple, not only those of the Minisissued in the 20th year of the reign of try, but even the most menial, in fact Artaxerxes.

all the Ecclesiastical duties (except those Fourth. He now reverts to the se- of the Priesthood) were performed by ven weeks which he had before treat- the Levites, who were set apart" for ed with so much contumely, and his the service of the Tabernacle of the reasoning upon

this head is so evident congregation.” Neither,” says the and conclusive, that I will allow him inspired writer, “must the children of to explain the matter in his own words: Israel henceforth come nigh the TaIt must also appear,” he says, “ that bernacle of the congregation, lest they the seven weeks, or 49 years, do not bear sin and die ; but the Levites shall make any part of that period, from the do the service of the Tabernacle of the going forth of the commandment to congregation.” And if this was so,restore and rebuild the city; because if the Levites alone were to perform it is said, From the going forth of the these services,--and it was expressly commandment to restore and to build forbidden to the children of Israel Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince even to come nigh to the Tabernacle; shall be seven weeks and threescore then Jesus Christ, whose reputed faand two weeks.” Need I add one ther was not of the tribe of Levi, could word to the above? The seven weeks not be chosen to officiate in the minisdo not form any part of the time from try,--could not spend 19 years in the the going forth of the commandment, preparatory services of the altar; and because it is expressly stated that they Mr. Bellamy's fanciful theory is undo. An argument so singular, so 10- true, and in fact impossible. vel, and so forcible, will always find Sixth. Mr. Bellamy now rememits due weight, and upon the strength bers that there is a passage in St. Luke, of its own merits I am content to leave which in a very great degree interferes it, a striking instance of Mr. Bellamy’s with his speculations, and his next obingenuity.

ject is to get rid of that. The passage Fifth. Having thus, as he seems to referred to is in Luke iii. 23; after think, brought the 62 weeks down to having in the preceding verse described our Saviour's birth, and reckoned the the commencement of St. John's

preaching,

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1829.]
The Age of Christ at the Crucifixion.

13 preaching, in the 15th year of the

must appear that had he been but 30 reign of Tiberius Cæsar, and the man- years of age, a remark of this kind ner of the baptism of our Saviour, the would have been absurd.” When we Evangelist concludes : “And Jesus consider the occasion of this remark himself began to be about 30 years of (vide John viii. 57), when we bear in age. Now if Jesus was about 30 mind that it was most probably made years of age, in the 15th year of Tibe- by persons who had no other means of rius, how could he be 524 at his cru- judging of the age of our Saviour than cifixion, which took place in the 18th from his personal appearance, and that year of that Prince's reign? Mr. Bel- the life of misery and anxiety which lamy explains it thus. When Augus- the Son of Man led whilst upon earth, tus was advanced in years, and found having seldom“ where to lay his himself incapable of taking so active a head,” would naturally make a great part in the administration of public impression upon his mortal frame, and affairs as he had formerly done, he as- induce a premature appearance of age; sociated Tiberius within the govern- -when we consider also, that the age ment of the empire; and Mr. Bellamy of 50 is here introduced comparatively, contends that the 15th year here men- and as between two periods of time, at tioned, has reference to this joint do- an immense distance from one another: minion, and not to the reign of Tibe- and again, that it was not necessary for rius, as usually reckoned from the the Jews to be particular as to the age time when he became sole Emperor. of our Saviour (which is here introIn support of this argument, he pro- duced only by way of argument), but duces authorities from several antient merely to mention a time sufficiently authors, all of whom mention the well- far beyond bis real age to prevent the known fact of the admission of Tibe- possibility of contradiction ; I say, rius to the government; but there is that when we consider all these things, no occasion to have recourse to them; it is not too much to conclude, that no the absolute impossibility of this sup- argument ought or can be deduced position can be clearly demonstrated from this remark which can at all affrom another source. Pontius Pilate fect the matter in question. was Procurator of Judea for 10 years,

Eighth. The concluding authority and was put out a short time previous which Mr. Bellamy produces in favour to the death of Tiberius, that Emperor of his proposition, is Irenæus, who it having died before Pilate could arrive seems has declared “ that Christ was at Rome, to answer some charges about 50 years old at his crucifixion.” which had been preferred against him Irenæus was a disciple of Polycarp, for mal-administration. (Joseph. An- who was a disciple of St. John; he tiq. I. 18, c. 4. sec. 2.) Tiberius reign- therefore had only the authority of ed 22 years sole Emperor, and as Pilate hearsay for what he states : and when was appointed about 10 years before the unavoidable inaccuracies which his death, the appointment must have are engendered by that mode of comtaken place in the 12th year of his munication are coupled with the reign. Now Scripture gives evidence looseness and want of exactness which (Luke iii. 1.) that the commencement are observable in most of the antient of the preaching of John the Baptist, writers ; — when we remember also and this 15th year of Tiberius, when that the primitive Christians knew so St. Luke declares that Jesus began to be little of the true time of the birth of about 30 years of age, happened when Christ, of his baptism, and of his “Pontius Pilate was Governor of Ju- death, that they were generally misdea ;” which renders it very clear that taken several years in every one of Mr. Bellamy's argument is incorrect; those particulars, little notice I think since the 15th year of the sole reign of ought to be taken of this casual remark, Tiberius is the only one that can be especially if it be found to be in conreferred to, as having taken place dur- tradiction (as I shall shortly prove it ing the government of Pontius Pilate. is) to the more weighty authorities up

Seventh. From all the above argu- on the question. But I will put it upon ments Mr. Bellamy concludes, that a higher ground, and ask whether Irewhen Christ was crucified he was næus, who declares what his master 524 years old; and says, “this is cor- may have related that the Apostle said, roborated by the Jews, who said, is to be believed in preference to the “Thou art not yet 50 years old;' for it written testimony of those Apostles

themselves? small

*

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The Age of Christ at the Crucifixion.

[Jan. themselves ?' And I do contend, that Mr. Bellamy has produced in support if Jesus Christ was fifty years old at of this novel opinion, and I hope have the time of the crucifixion, not only sufficiently shown that none of them we, but also the Apostles themselves, can be considered to have any weight. are in error ; or else, that the accounts I will not say that I am surprised that of the life of Christ, which have been such an opinion should have been pubtransmitted to us by those Apostles, lished; since, in an age like the preare awkward and blundering fabrica- sent, in which knowledge is so genetions. That this is so will appear from rally diffused, and in a country like the following statements. Jesus was this, wherein the people have a free born in the reign of Herod, King of and unrestricted access to the Holy Judea (Matt. ii. 1). Very shortly af. Scriptures, it cannot appear remarkter his birth, the murder of the children able that bold and startling theories of Bethlem took place by order of the should be multiplied; more especially same Herod; it appears from Jose- at the present time, when many search phus (Antiq. b. 17, c. 18, s. 1), that a rather to find objections than to discofew days before this Herod's death, in ver truth, and eagerly seize any argua fit of frenzy, he ordered his son An- ment, however slight, that may tend tipater to be slain; and it also appears to weaken our faith in long-received that the news of Antipater's death, and opinions. I must, however, confess, also of the murder of the children at that when I found Mír. Bellamy's Bethlehem, was brought to the Ro- name to this Tract, and when I lookman Court at one time, in fact were ed into it, and saw the display of his confounded as one occurrence; and Hebrew learning, which he does not Antipater was thought to have been refrain from making even upon this slain amongst the young children; occasion, I did expect to have heard which sufficiently proves that both arguments more solid, and authorities these circumstances happened very more convincing. I did not think to nearly at the same time. Herod died have found him commencing with in the latter end of the 4710th year of garbled and manufactured extracts the Julian period, and the death of his from the Holy Volume, and bringing son and the murder of the innocents forward illustrations, the falseness of happened a few days before that time; which the knowledge of a school-boy therefore the birth of Christ must have is more than sufficient to detect. occurred within about a month before In fine, I expected argument where Herod's death, certainly in the same I have found assertion, and looked for year. The crucifixion took place in proof where I have discovered palpathe 18th year of Tiberius, and in the ble and glaring incorrectness. year of the Julian period 4744. If, Yours, &c.

J. B. then, Christ was born A. P. J. 4710, and was crucified A.P.J. 4744, it fol- Mr. URBAN,

Jan. 4. lows, that at the time of his death he

THA

HAT acute and indefatigable was in his 34th year; which entirely book-hunter, the late Rev. John confirms the common opinion, and Brand, could doubtless have furnished renders it utterly impossible that the an amusing history of the manner in assertion of Irenæus can be the fact, if which his vast collection had been the account of St. Matthew be correct. fattened by stall-feeding. He himself Upon this ground, then, I am per- was not so fattened. To such a narra. fectly willing to leave it, satisfied as I tive, I could add a mighty pretty supam, that no person will hesitate whe- plement, having not only picked up at ther to credit the hearsay of Irenæus, stalls very cheap books, of which I or the testimony of that book which was in search, but with still greater has “God for its author, truth for its advantages, many excellent works, of matter, and salvation for its end." which I had never heard, and pro

I have now, I believe, noticed all bably should never have known at all, the authorities and assertions which but for that mode of discovery. A

slight inspection satisfied me of their Cum audisset Augustus inter pueros

nature and utility, and a further acquos in Syria Herodes Rex Judæorum intra quaintance has generally shown that I bimatum jussit interfici filium quoque ejus was right; and frequently that I had occisum, ait, Melius est Herodis porcum even under-rated them in my first esse quam filium. Saturnal. 1. 2, c. 4. hasty estimate. Were I to go over my

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