Saturday, November 05, 2005

Julius Africanus on the Accuracy of Scripture

Earlier today, I posted the first of a few segments in my Apologetics Log series addressing alleged errors in the infancy narratives. Not only do many skeptics and liberals argue that the infancy accounts are errant, but so do some people who are more conservative, including many who claim to be highly concerned with holding traditional beliefs. Julius Africanus, a church father who lived in the second and third centuries, was more concerned with the accuracy of scripture than a lot of people today who profess to be his spiritual descendants. Regarding the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, he wrote:

"Nor shall an assertion of this kind [that the genealogies of Jesus are in error] prevail in the Church of Christ against the exact truth, so as that a lie should be contrived for the praise and glory of Christ. For who does not know that most holy word of the apostle also, who, when he was preaching and proclaiming the resurrection of our Saviour, and confidently affirming the truth, said with great fear, 'If any say that Christ is not risen, and we assert and have believed this, and both hope for and preach that very thing, we are false witnesses of God, in alleging that He raised up Christ, whom He raised not up?' And if he who glorifies God the Father is thus afraid lest he should seem a false witness in narrating a marvellous fact, how should not he be justly afraid, who tries to establish the truth by a false statement, preparing an untrue opinion? For if the generations are different, and trace down no genuine seed to Joseph, and if all has been stated only with the view of establishing the position of Him who was to be born - to confirm the truth, namely, that He who was to be would be king and priest, there being at the same time no proof given, but the dignity of the words being brought down to a feeble hymn, - it is evident that no praise accrues to God from that, since it is a falsehood, but rather judgment returns on him who asserts it, because he vaunts an unreality as though it were reality....Thus neither of the evangelists is in error, as the one reckons [his genealogy] by nature and the other by law....And hence it is that both these accounts are true, and come down to Joseph, with considerable intricacy indeed, but yet quite accurately." (The Epistle to Aristides, 1-2)