Story type: Essay
Look into the Acts of the Apostles, you see the wide dispersion of the Jews which had then been accomplished; a dispersion long antecedent to that penal dispersion which occurred subsequently to the Christian era. But search the pages of the wicked Jew, Josephus, who notices expressly this universal dispersion of the Jews, and gives up and down his works the means of tracing them through every country in the southern belt of the Mediterranean, through every country of the northern belt, through every country of the connecting belt, in Asia Minor and Syria–through every island of the Mediterranean. Search Philo-Judaeus, the same result is found. But why? Upon what theory? What great purpose is working, is fermenting underneath? What principle, what law can be abstracted from this antagonist or centrifugal motion outwards now violently beating back as with a conflict of tides the original centripetal motion inwards? Manifestly this: the incubating process had been completed: the ideas of God as an ideal of Holiness, the idea of Sin as the antagonist force–had been perfected; they were now so inextricably worked into the texture of Jewish minds, or the Jewish minds were now arrived at their maximum of adhesiveness, or at their minimum of repulsiveness, in manners and social character, that this stage was perfect; and now came the five hundred years during which they were to manure all nations with these preparations for Christianity. Hence it was that the great globe of Hebraism was now shivered into fragments; projected ‘by one sling of that victorious arm’–which had brought them up from Egypt. Make ready for Christianity! Lay the structure, in which everywhere Christianity will strike root. You, that for yourselves even will reject, will persecute Christianity, become the pioneers, the bridge-layers, the reception-preparers, by means of those two inconceivable ideas, for natural man–sin and its antagonist, holiness.
In this way a preparation was made. But if Christianity was to benefit by it, if Christianity was to move with ease, she must have a language. Accordingly, from the time of Alexander, the strong he-goat, you see a tendency–sudden, abrupt, beyond all example, swift, perfect–for uniting all nations by the bond of a single language. You see kings and nations taking up their positions as regularly, faithfully, solemnly as a great fleet on going into action, for supporting this chain of language.
Yet even that will be insufficient; for fluent motion out of nation into nation it will be requisite that all nations should be provinces of one supreme people; so that no hindrances from adverse laws, or from jealousies of enmity, can possibly impede the fluent passage of the apostle and the apostle’s delegates–inasmuch as the laws are swallowed up into one single code, and enmity disappears with its consequent jealousies, where all nationalities are absorbed into unity.
This last change being made, a signal, it may be supposed, was given as with a trumpet; now then, move forward, Christianity; the ground is ready, the obstacles are withdrawn. Enter upon the field which is manured; try the roads which are cleared; use the language which is prepared; benefit by the laws which protect and favour your motion; apply the germinating principles which are beginning to swell in this great vernal season of Christianity. New heavens and new earth are forming: do you promote it.
Such a complexus of favourable tendencies, such a meeting in one centre of plans–commencing in far different climates and far different centres, all coming up at the same aera face to face, and by direct lines of connection meeting in one centre–the world had never seen before.
 ‘The wicked Jew,’ Josephus, as once I endeavoured to show, was perhaps the worst man in all antiquity; it is pleasant to be foremost upon any path, and Joe might assuredly congratulate himself on surmounting and cresting all the scoundrels since the flood. What there might be on the other side the flood, none of us can say. But on this side, amongst the Cis-diluvians, Joe in a contest for the deanery of that venerable chapter, would assuredly carry off the prize. Wordsworth, on a question arising as to who might be the worst man in English history, vehemently contended for the pre-eminent pretensions of Monk. And when some of us assigned him only the fifth or sixth place, was disposed to mourn for him as an ill-used man. But no difficulty of this kind could arise with regard to the place of Josephus among the ancients, full knowledge and impartial judgment being presupposed. And his works do follow him; just look at this: From the ridiculous attempt of some imbecile Christian to interpolate in Josephus’s History a passage favourable to Christ, it is clear that no adequate idea prevailed of his intense hatred to the new sect of Nazarenes and Galilaeans. In our own days we have a lively illustration of the use which may be extracted from the Essenes by sceptics, and an indirect confirmation of my own allegation, against them, in Dr. Strauss (Leben Jesu). The moment that his attention was directed to that fact of the Essenes being utterly ignored in the New Testament (a fact so easily explained by my theory, a fact so utterly unaccountable to his) he conceived an affection for them. Had they been mentioned by St. John, there was an end to the dislike; but Josephus had, even with this modern sceptical Biblical critic, done his work and done it well.