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Chapter LVI.

But since the Jew says that these histories of the alleged descent of heroes to Hades, and of their return thence, are juggling impositions,33443344    τερατείας. maintaining that these heroes disappeared for a certain time, and secretly withdrew themselves from the sight of all men, and gave themselves out afterwards as having returned from Hades,—for such is the meaning which his words seem to convey respecting the Odrysian Orpheus, and the Thessalian Protesilaus, and the Tænarian Hercules, and Theseus also,—let us endeavour to show that the account of Jesus being raised from the dead cannot possibly be compared to these.  For each one of the heroes respectively mentioned might, had he wished, have secretly withdrawn himself from the sight of men, and returned again, if so determined, to those whom he had left; but seeing that Jesus was crucified before all the Jews, and His body slain in the presence of His nation, how can they bring themselves to say that He practised a similar deception33453345    πῶς οἴονται τὸ παραπλήσιον πλάσασθαι λέγειν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἱστορουμένοις, etc. with those heroes who are related to have gone down to Hades, and to have returned thence?  But we say that the following consideration might be adduced, perhaps, as a defence of the public crucifixion of Jesus, especially in connection with the existence of those stories of heroes who are supposed to have been compelled33463346    καταβεβηκέναι βιᾷ.  Bohereau proposes the omission of βιᾷ. to descend to Hades:  that if we were to suppose Jesus to have died an obscure death, so that the fact of His decease was not patent to the whole nation of the Jews, and afterwards to have actually risen from the dead, there would, in such a case, have been ground for the same suspicion entertained regarding the heroes being also entertained regarding Himself.  Probably, then, in addition to other causes for the crucifixion of Jesus, this also may have contributed to His dying a conspicuous death upon the cross, that no one might have it in his power to say that He voluntarily withdrew from the sight of men, and seemed only to die, without really doing so; but, appearing again, made a juggler’s trick33473347    ἐτερατεύσατο. of the resurrection from the dead.  But a clear and unmistakeable proof of the fact I hold to be the undertaking of His disciples, who devoted themselves to the teaching of a doctrine which was attended with danger to human life,—a doctrine which they would not have taught with such courage had they invented the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; and who also, at the same time, not only prepared others to despise death, but were themselves the first to manifest their disregard for its terrors.


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