The sources of the morality of the Gospels PDF book 1914 by Joseph McCabe

The sources of the morality of the Gospels PDF book 1914 Joseph McCabe

Joseph McCabe

Content of the book :
I. THE PROBLEM OF CHRIST 1 II. EGYPTIAN MORALS 24 III. MORALITY IN BABYLONIA AND PERSIA - 45 IV. THE EVOLUTION OF JE_WISH MORALITY - 68 V. GREEK MORALISTS 97 VI. MORALITY IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE - - 119 VII. THE GOSPELS 145 VIII. THE PARABLES OF THE GOSPELS AND THE TALMUD 174 IX. PARALLELS TO THE TEACHING OF CHRIST 204 X. PERSONALITY IN THE GOSPELS - - 298


The object of this work may be declared in a few words. It essays to give an answer to two questions that interest all who follow the advance of Christian theology or are attracted to the comparative study 'of religion and morals. A vast literature has been written of late years on the doctrinal or the historical issues raised by the New Testament, and the very sacrifices which have been imposed on theologians in regard to the personality of Christ have made them more eager to exaggerate the distinction of his teaching. The critical student may welcome a careful and specific study of the sentiments ascribed to Christ in the Gospels. The two main questions which I have held in view are :

(l) Are there any original or distinctive elements in the moral teaching attributed to Christ ? ;

(2) If that teaching takes its place in the natural evolution of morals, what were the strains or traditions which we may recognize as contributory to the Christian ethic?

Writers are too apt to appraise the " uniqueness " of Christ's teaching without any close study of those other moralities which they thus assume to be inferior to that of Christ Early does one notice in their pages more than a few superficial observations on the Stoic morality, and still, more rarely do they put the words of Stoic and other moralists side by side with those attributed to Christ. I have endeavored to make the work of comparison easy for the reader by giving first a sketch of the evolution of moral sentiment in the great pre-Christian civilizations, which modern research has now so amply traced, and then putting side by side the sentiments attributed to Christ in the Gospels and the corresponding sentiments of Hebrew, Greek, and Roman moralists. The field of research has been too vast for me to venture to claim that I have detected all the parallel sentiments in non-Christian writers of the age of Christ, but the reader may find that the material I have collected and collated suffices to yield an answer to the questions I kept before me.


Whether the words ascribed to Christ in the New Testament were ever in reality spoken by him does not much concern me; still less the question whether Christ had a historical existence at all. But these questions press continually on the mind of one who endeavors to appreciate the Christian ethic at its proper historical value, and some consideration has been given to them. It will be seen that, whether or no we can explain Christianity without Christ, we can assuredly explain the teaching attributed to him without assuming either that he existed or that an authentic word of his Gospel has reached us.

Author: Joseph McCabe 
Publication Date:1914


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