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Chapter XVI.

Exceedingly weak is his assertion, that “the disciples of Jesus wrote such accounts regarding him, by way of extenuating the charges that told against him:  as if,” he says, “any one were to say that a certain person was a just man, and yet were to show that he was guilty of injustice; or that he was pious, and yet had committed murder; or that he was immortal, and yet was dead; subjoining to all these statements the remark that he had foretold all these things.”  Now his illustrations are at once seen to be inappropriate; for there is no absurdity in Him who had resolved that He would become a living pattern to men, as to the manner in which they were to regulate their lives, showing also how they ought to die for the sake of their religion, apart altogether from the fact that His death on behalf of men was a benefit to the whole world, as we proved in the preceding book.  He imagines, moreover, that the whole of the confession of the Saviour’s sufferings confirms his objection instead of weakening it.  For he is not acquainted either with the philosophical remarks of Paul,32643264    ὅσα περὶ τούτου καὶ παρὰ τῷ Παύλῳ πεφιλοσόφηται. or the statements of the prophets, on this subject.  And it escaped him that certain heretics have declared that Jesus underwent His sufferings in appearance, not in reality.  For had he known, he would not have said:  “For ye do not even allege this, that he seemed to wicked men to suffer this punishment, though not undergoing it in reality; but, on the contrary, ye acknowledge that he openly suffered.”  But we do not view His sufferings as having been merely in appearance, in order that His resurrection also may not be a false, but a real event.  For he who really died, actually arose, if he did arise; whereas he who appeared only to have died, did not in reality arise.  But since the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a subject of mockery to unbelievers, we shall quote the words of Plato,32653265    Cf. Plato, de Rep., x. p. 614. that Erus the son of Armenius rose from the funeral pile twelve days after he had been laid upon it, and gave an account of what he had seen in Hades; and as we are replying to unbelievers, it will not be altogether useless to refer in this place to what Heraclides32663266    Cf. Plin., Nat. Hist., vii. c. 52. relates respecting the woman who was deprived of life.  And many persons are recorded to have risen from their tombs, not only on the day of their burial, but also on the day following.  What wonder is it, then, if in the case of One who performed many marvellous things, both beyond the power of man and with such fulness of evidence, that he who could not deny their performance, endeavoured to calumniate them by comparing them to acts of sorcery, should have manifested also in His death some greater display of divine power, so that His soul, if it pleased, might leave its body, and having performed certain offices out of it, might return again at pleasure?  And such a declaration is Jesus said to have made in the Gospel of John, when He said:  “No man taketh My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.  I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”32673267    John x. 18.  And perhaps it was on this account that He hastened His departure from the body, that He might preserve it, and that His legs might not be broken, as were those of the robbers who were crucified with Him.  “For the soldiers brake the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with Him; but when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead, they brake not His legs.”32683268    John xix. 32, 33.  We have accordingly answered the question, “How is it credible that Jesus could have predicted these things?”  And with respect to this, “How could the dead man be immortal?” let him who wishes to understand know, that it is not the dead man who is immortal, but He who rose from the dead.  So far, indeed, was the dead man from being immortal, that even the Jesus before His decease—the compound being, who was to suffer death—was not immortal.32693269    Οὐ μόνον οὖν οὐχ ὁ νεκρὸς ἀθάνατος, ἀλλ᾽ οὐδ᾽ ὁ πρὸ τοῦ νεκροῦ ᾽Ιησοῦς ὁ σύνθετος ἀθάνατος ἦν, ὅς γε ἔμελλε τεθνήξεσθαι.  For no one is immortal who is destined to die; but he is immortal when he shall no longer be subject to death.  But “Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more:  death hath no more dominion over Him;”32703270    Rom. vi. 9. although those may be unwilling to admit this who cannot understand how such things should be said.


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