Bible, and as interpreted by the Church, the Martian considers in a further chapter. Scientists incline to the view that the earth has existed as a separate planet for something like two thousand million years (2,000,000,000). The rocks give a history of 16,000,000,000. Just as in the study of the origin of primitive beliefs, one finds that man made his gods and invented all that they are reported to have said, so a study of the Old Testament reveals that the ancient Hebrew invented his God, and manufactured the vast mass of myth and fable that are recorded as the words and deeds of God. Throughout the ages, the words of these ancient Hebrews have been taken as the words of a god.
"Everything goes to show that the Hebrew literature was produced like other literatures. Hebrews were not the first to tell tales. When they did come to write 'for our learning' they borrowed from other people. The only reason why anything more than a literary attention is paid to these old Jewish writings is that Jesus was a Jew. When Christianity was founded—a difficult date to fix—there was no such thing as a Bible. The old Brahmans and Buddhists had Holy Scriptures; the Egyptians had a Book of the Dead, and the Sayings of Khuenaten; the Persians had the Zend-Avesta; the Chinese had sacred books. They were all as sacred as the Jewish books. Priests made them sacred. Priests generally rewrote and edited them, even if they had not originally imagined them. There is nothing to guide the man of common sense save knowledge and reason. Every priest swears his religion and his scriptures are true. But they cannot all be true. If the first are true, then the Jews are past further consideration, for they were not the first in the field with sacred writings.... Holy scriptures are merely Jewish classics. We have had to accept these old writings of the Hebrews as holy and inspired because the priests said so, and for no other reason whatsoever. There is no other reason." Assuming the existence of a deity, a man exercising his common sense would be compelled to deny that the Old Testament is inspired of God, because it abounds in stupidities and errors such as no god could inspire. "But because the Jews accumulated these writings, the subsequent adopters of Christianity, realizing that Jesus was a Jew, and had been a professing Jew, promptly annexed these tales of fancy and of fear, of muddled, sensual, silly things and said they must be accepted with the teachings of Jesus. And in the course of time, people had to believe these old Jewish writings were the Word of God." (W. H. Williamson, "Thinker or Believer.")
The Hebrews had as one of their gods, Yahveh, whom they endowed with their qualities; qualities inherent in a primitive people: jealousy and might, trickery and fickleness. They evolved a worship that contained in a modified form many of the ceremonials that they witnessed when they came into contact with the Babylonians and Phœnicians. Their Bible they maintained to be a collection of books which appeared at intervals, with divine inspiration, during a thousand years of Jewish history. Similarly, they insisted that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, that Judges, Kings, and Chronicles go back to the times they describe, that the prophecies were added from the ninth century onward, and so on.
The Martian found that not a single book of the Old Testament is older than the ninth century B.C. and that in the fifth century B.C. all the older books and fragments were combined together into the Old Testament as we have it, and were drastically altered so as to yield a version of early Jewish history which is not true. The manipulation of the Hebrew writings by the Jewish priests had for its object to represent the Jewish priesthood, and its rights and customs, as having been established in the days of Moses. Deuteronomy and Leviticus have been classed as priestly forgeries. Nearly every occurrence, from the creation of the world to the death of Moses, is related twice and, in some cases, three times; and as the Pentateuch is supposed to have been written by Moses one must assume that Moses had double and triple vision.
Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah are impudent forgeries of the fourth century, giving a totally false version of the events. The Martian finds that the terms used for these fabrications are "redaction" or "recension," but, in his understanding, he finds the word most descriptive of the process to be forgery. "The main point is that practically all the experts assure you that in scores of material points the Old Testament history has been discredited, and has only been confirmed in a few unimportant incidental statements; and that the books are a tissue of inventions, expansions, conflations, or recensions dating centuries after the event."
The Martian in his analysis becomes aware of instances related in the Old Testament that on his planet would have to be termed forgeries,—deliberate falsifications or fabrications of documents or of the signature to them. "Now the far greater part of the more learned clerical authorities on the Bible say that many books of the Old Testament pretend to be written by men who did not write them; that many books were deliberately written as history when the writers knew that they were not history; and that the Old Testament as a whole, as we have it, is a deliberate attempt to convey an historical belief which the writers knew to be false. But these learned authorities do not like the word forgery. It is crude." (Joseph McCabe, "The Forgery of The Old Testament.") They veil the meaning of this word in the elegance, the subtlety, the resources, of diplomatic language. They talk of certain books in terms of "their legendary character," "their conformity to a scheme," and "their didactic purpose." To the Martian these are but an extremely polite description of what he would call a forgery.
A theologian in speaking of David states that "Keen criticism is necessary to arrive at the kernel of fact," and, "the imaginative element in the story of David is but the vesture which half conceals, half discloses certain facts treasured in popular tradition." The Martian thinks this is polite language, but the word forgery is much more concise and to the point, and he finds an excellent example of this described by Joseph McCabe in "The Forgery of the Old Testament." He states, "Some time ago we recovered tablets of the great Persian king, Cyrus, and Professor Sayre gives us a translation of them, and he compares them, as you may, with the words of Daniel, 'In that night was Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, slain, and Darius the Median took the kingdom.' The tablets of Cyrus describe the taking of Babylon, and are beyond the slightest suspicion. The Persians had adopted the Babylonian custom of writing on clay, then baking the brick or tablet, and such documents last forever. And these and other authentic and contemporary documents of the age which 'Daniel' describes show: