"Doubts" Miracles Taken Up By Fr. F. Woodlock
By a C.H. Reporter THE SUNDAY REFEREE LAST WEEK FEATURED A REVIEW, OR RATHER A " POTTED VERSION " OF A NEW LIFE OF CHRIST, BY THE NOVELIST, SIR HALL CAINE, WHO DIED SEVEN YEARS AGO. THE " LIFE " HAS ONLY NOW BEEN PUBLISHED.
On the same page, under the headline " Fr. Woodlock Replies" the Sunday Referee writes: " Fr. Woodlock, the famous Jesuit preacher, in a reply to Hall Caine's book, told the Sunday Referee yesterday: . . " There follow a series of sentences criticising the " Life."
The disconnected nature of these sentences aroused my suspicions, and I got into touch with Fr. Woodlock.
This is what he told me.
He had been asked to send a review of Sir Hall Caine's Life of Christ to the Sunday Referee. Having done as he was asked, he was rung up by the Referee and told that his review was too long and would have to be "cut." On asking for the manuscript back to do this himself, or at least to approve the Referee's " cutting," he was told that he would not be " let down."
" Let Down "
Fr. Woodlock thinks he was "let down," and that Catholic truth was let down too. Fr. Woodlock is concerned that the orthodox Christian defence of the Gospel story should not simply " go by default " in the popular press.
"The aim of this book is to unveil the ' historical Jesus' and to make a portrait of him, such as the twentieth century wants.
" I wonder whether the ephemeral wants' of a particular age are any guarantee of the authenticity of a portrait drawn to attract UT' This is the pertinent query made by Fr. Francis Woodlock, S.J., concerning the Life of Christ.
It is claimed that the novelist spent more than thirty years working on the " Life," and Ruskin, the Victorian art critic and writer, is quoted as saying that ",no man knew his Bible better than Hall Caine."
These are some of the conclusions reached by Hall Caine in his Life of Christ as presented to readers of the Sunday Referee:
... The accounts of the Virgin Birth were separate documents put into the Gospels after they were written.
" The Gospels would be more conclusive without them. They do not harmon ise with the rest of the Gospels. On the contrary, they disagree with them. , The supernatural birth of Jesus Christ drags Him away from humanity."
" Not a Good Guide" " Guidance in reading the Bible is not to be found in such a work as this," Mgr. Goodier, S.J., Archbishop of Hierapolis, told the CATHOLIC HERALD this week.
"As a specimen of the author's method let me quote his rejection of the Resurrection of Christ's Body because ' the theory of a natural body I find very painful and almost revolting.'"
A review of the " Life " by Mgr. Good ier will appear in next week's CATHOLIC HERALD.
The Suspicion Arises . . .
And here are some of Hall Caine's verdicts on miracles recorded in the Gospels: I. The man born blind.—" The magnitude of the miracle might have been expected to attract Mark, who loved the most dramatic best. He says nothing about it, while he tells stories of cures of the blind which are immeasurably less important. Hence the suspicion arises that the cure of the roan born blind never did occur."
2. The changing of water into wine.,, An apocryphal story of a degrading kind."
3. The raising of Lazarus from the dead. —Sir Hall Caine thinks that Lazarus had not been buried for four days as stated in the Bible, but that " he was perhaps only a few hours buried, that he was not quite dead, and that he was revived by the voice
of Jesus." The story of Lazarus' fourdays' burial was a later addition to the Gospel, thinks Sir Hall Caine.
We are also told that Sir Hall Caine " cannot believe " such Bible statements as that the earth quaked, the dead rose from their graves, and the veil of the Temple was rent, when Jesus was crucified.
" The object of the book," Fr. Woodlock told me, " is to give the historic Christ— as the twentieth century wants to picture Him. He must be shown as the perfect human being; all the super-human part must be eliminated.
Explain Away or Deny " Thus Hall Caine ascribes as many miracles as seems possible to Christ's tremendous human personality. Any miracles which cannot thus be explained away arc simply denied."
The orthodoz position is that these miracles happened because there is conclusive historical evidence for them.
The orthodox position is that these miracle:, are impossible tht evidence for them cannot be conclusive.