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An Ecclesiastical History To The 20th Year Of The Reign Of Constantine by Eusebius

AS it was not long before this that John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod the younger, the holy Scriptures record the fact, which is also confirmed by Josephus, who has expressly made mention of Herodias by name, and the circumstance of her being married to Herod, though she was the wife of his brother, Herod having first divorced his former lawful wife. She was a daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia Petræa. But having forced Herodias from her husband while living, on whose account also he slew John, he was involved in a war with Aretas for the disgrace inflicted on his daughter; in which war it is related that, when coming to battle, the army of Herod was completely destroyed, and that he suffered all this on account of the crime that he committed against John. But the same Josephus, in this account, in which he confesses that John was a most righteous man, also bears testimony to what is recorded of him in the narratives of the gospels. He relates, also, that Herod lost his kingdom on account of the same Herodias, and that he was driven into exile with her, and condemned to dwell at Vienna, a city of Gaul. These facts are stated by him in the eighteenth book of his Antiquities, where, in the same paragraphs, he also writes thus concerning John: To some of the Jews the army of Herod seemed to have been destroyed by God; who thus, with signal justice, avenged John, called the Baptist. For Herod slew him, a good man, and one who exhorted the Jews to the practice of virtue, and with the pursuit of righteousness and piety towards God, to receive baptism. For this baptism appeared to have been imparted to him for this object, not with the view to avoid a few trifling sins, but for the purification of the body, as far as the mind had been first purified by righteousness.

“And when many others flocked to him, for they were also much delighted with listening to his discourses, Herod, dreading the great confidence of men in him, lest, perhaps, he might stimulate them to a revolt (for they seemed disposed to do any thing at his suggestion), considered it much better, before any change should be attempted by him, to anticipate it by destroying him, than after a revolution, when involved in difficulties, to repent when it was too late. In consequence of Herod’s suspicions, therefore, he was sent in bonds to the aforesaid prison of Machærus, and there slain.” After relating these things concerning John, Josephus, in the same work, also makes mention of our Saviour in the following manner: “About the same time, there was a certain Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it is proper to call him a man. For he performed extraordinary deeds; was a teacher of men, who received his doctrine with delight; and attached to himself many of the Jews, and many of the Greeks. This was Christ. Pilate having inflicted the punishment of the cross upon him, on the accusation of our principal men, those who had been attached to him before, did not, however, afterwards cease to love him: for he appeared to them alive again on the third day, according to the holy prophets, who had declared these and innnumerable other wonderful things respecting him. The race of the Christians, who derive their name from him, likewise still continues.” When such testimony as this is transmitted to us by an historian who sprung from the Hebrews themselves, both respecting John the Baptist and our Saviour, what subterfuge can be left, to prevent those from being convicted as shameless deceivers, who have forged the acts against them? This, however, may suffice on this subject.








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