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Monday, March 19, 2012

Ecce Homo!

Ecce Homo!
by Paul Henry Thiry Baron d' Holbach

This volume from 1827 shows the spirit of rational enquiry and scepticism regarding the historicity of the Bible was flourishing early in the nineteenth century.

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This rejection and desertion of Jesus threw the apostles into consternation.

To reanimate their confidence, Jesus caused a fig-tree to die in twenty-four hours to punish it for not producing figs at a season when it was physically impossible for it to bear any; that is about the month of March.

As all the actions of the messiah, even when they appear foolish to ordinary men, have an important signification in the eyes of devotees illuminated by faith, we ought to perceive in the miracle of this fig-tree one of the fundamental dogmas of the Christian religion symbolically represented.

The fig-tree cursed is the mass of mankind, whom, according to our theologists, the God of mercy curses, and condemns to eternal flames, for having neither faith nor grace, which they could not possibly acquire of themselves, and which God does not seem to have been willing to give them.

Thus we find that the ridiculous passage of the fig-tree in the gospel, is intended to typify one of the most profound dogmas of the Christian religion.

From the Preface (NOTE: Plain text version below):

Plain text version below:

With such dispositions, it is no way surprising to see men persisting in their ignorance, and making a merit of rejecting the lights which reason offers them. It is thus, that error is perpetuated, and that nations, in concert with those who deceive them, confer on interested cheats an unbounded confidence in what they regard as of the greatest importance to their own felicity.

But the darkness which for so many ages has enveloped the human mind, begins to dissipate. In spite of the tyrannic cares of their jealous guides, mankind seem desirous to burst from the pupilage, wherein so many causes combine to retain them.

The ignorance in which the priesthood fostered the credulous, has vanished from among many nations; the despotism of priests is enfeebled in several flourishing states; science has rendered the mind more liberal; and mankind begin to blush at the ignominious fetters, under which the clergy have so long made both kings and people groan. The human mind is struggling in every country to break in pieces its chains.

Having premised this, we proceed to examine, without any prejudice, the life of Jesus. We shall deduce our facts from the gospels only--memorials reverenced and acknowledged by the doctors of the Christian religion. To illustrate these facts, we shall employ the aid of criticism.

We shall exhibit, in the plainest manner, the conduct, maxims, and policy of an obscure legislator, who, after his death, acquired a celebrity to which he had no pretensions while alive.

We shall contemplate in its cradle a religion which, at first, intended for the vilest populace of a nation, the most abject, the most credulous, and the most stupid on earth, became, by little and little, mistress of the Romans, the firebrand of nations, the absolute sovereign of European monarchs; arbiter of the destiny of kingdoms; the cause of their friendship, and of their hate; the cement which serves to strengthen their alliance or their discord; and the leaven always ready to put minds in fermentation.

In fine, we shall behold an artizan, a melancholy enthusiast and unskilful juggler, abandoning his profession of a carpenter to preach to men of his own cast; miscarrying in all his projects; himself punished as a public incendiary; dying on a cross; and yet after his death becoming the legislator and the god of many nations, and an object of adoration to beings who pretend to common sense!

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