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The Arkcho Volume - The Archeological Writings of the Sanhedrim and Talmuds of the Jews

 

The following information was written as a footnote to the "In Defence of Chabad" Parts 1 & 2 Article. The information was presented specifically to support Gamaliel's view of the sect. We have to keep in mind that the work itself is a compilation of letters and reports, so some chapters may be less credible than others. Rabbi Robert O. Miller is in support of the volume's authenticity and has a very detailed audio teaching on the work which first drew me to purchase a copy.

I merely present it here as food for thought. The early Church fathers saw the apostate work, "The Infancy of Messiah" as authentic (The Anti-Nicean Church Fathers volumes have the full work [All the volumes are available at Koorong]), which in contrast is laughable compared to the detail and accuracy of some of the Arkcho Volume's info despite some letters being more questionable than others.




I am basically requesting "a don't throw the baby out with the bath water" scenario.




Anyway, here's what I put together.




Jason




Footnote from in Defence of Chabad




In chapter five of a controversial book called the Archko Volume or as it is lesser known, The Archeological Writings of the Sanhedrim and Talmuds of the Jews, one can read Gamaliel’s findings after an interview with Yahshua’s parents, Yoseph (Joseph) and Miriam (Mary). According to this work, his conclusions corroborate not only his later “wait and see” attitude toward the Natsarim in Acts 5, but his feelings toward their son’s eligibility to be Moshiach.




Though the authenticity of this publication is disputed among scholars, the majority if it which consists of letters, testimonies, and reports by the likes of Caiaphas, Herod, and Pontius Pilate are compellingly accurate in there language, procedural detail and historic context. The existence of this work (initially available only in a Latin transcript) was made known by H.C. Whydaman and was obtained as a copied document by Father Freelinhusen, a chief guardian of the Vatican in 1858. It was then translated in English the following year. Some readers, who refute the authenticity of the Archko Volume may wish to disregard this citation as support.




The introduction to Gamliel’s interview consists of the following:




“The hagiographa of holy writings, found in St. Sophia Mosque at Constantinople, made by Gamaliel, in the Talmuds of the Jews, 27 B. It seems Gamaliel was sent by the Sanhedrim to interrogate Joseph and Mary in regard to this child (Yahshua)…”




The details of his findings based on specific citations by the prophets are interesting, if not controversial, but the inclusion of the following excerpt is meant only as supporting material in regard to his attitude toward the Natsarim in Acts 5.




"Now, Masters of Israel, after having investigated this matter; after tracing (Yahshua) from his conception to the present time; after obtaining all the information that is to be had on this important subject, getting it from those who are more likely to tell the truth from the fact they are disinterested persons; and then taking a prophetical as well as a historical view of the subject, I have come to the conclusion that this is the (Messiah) that we are looking for. And as a reason for my conclusion, I will call your attention to the following facts: First to the prophecy of Isaiah, section 7: And he said, Hear now, saith the Lord. Oh, house of David, is it a small thing for you? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name G-d with men. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil and choose the good; for before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good the land that G-d abhorrest shall be forsaken of her king.' Section 8: Bind the testimony; seal the law among his disciples; the Lord will hide his face from the house of Jacob, and he will look for him.' Here is a literal fulfilment of this word of the Most High G-d, so clear and plain that none may mistake. Jeremiah, 31st section: Turn, oh virgin, to thy people, for the hand of the Lord is upon thee; for the Lord shall create a new thing in the earth; a woman shall compass a man.' Here again are set forth the same things that Isaiah speaks of, and the same things that I have learned from (Miriam). Micah, section 5: Thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, thou art little among the thousands of Judah; out of thee shall come forth unto me him that shall rule my people. He is from everlasting; and I will give them up until the time she travailed to bring forth my first born, that he may rule all people/ Here we have the city, the virgin, the office, his manner of life, the seeking him by the Sanhedrim. All these things are under our eyes as full and complete as I now write them, who have all this testimony given in this letter. How can we as a people dispute these things? In the 49th section of Genesis, making reference to the history, that is now upon us, the writer says : 'A captive shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawmaker from him, until Shiloh come, and gather his people between his feet, and keep them forever,'"

Views: 653

Comment by Mikha El on January 1, 2010 at 7:59am
W.D. Mahon's account of how he came across the writings seems plausible. I have placed the book on my Amazon wish list.
Comment by James Trimm on January 2, 2010 at 1:01am
From the Book "Strange New Gospels" by Edger Goodspeed

Chapter 5
PILATE'S COURT, AND THE ARCHKO VOLUME
(http://www.tertullian.org/articles/goodspeed_strange_new_gospels.htm#5)
IN 1879, the Rev. W. D. Mahan, a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, of Boonville, Missouri, published a pamphlet of thirty-two pages, entitled "A Correct Transcript of Pilate's Court." It consisted chiefly of an official report of the trial and death of Jesus, made directly to the Emperor Tiberius, by Pilate, as governor of Judea. Pilate describes his arrival in Jerusalem as governor, the arrogance with which the Jewish leaders treated his advances, his encounter with Jesus, and the impression Jesus' words made upon him. Pilate invites Jesus to an interview, warns him of his danger from the Jews, and urges him to be more moderate in his condemnation of them, but Jesus is unmoved. Herod calls upon Pilate, and expresses his interest in Jesus. At the Passover, an insurrection against Pilate's authority broke out. Jesus was seized |43 by the rabble, brought before the high priest, and condemned to death. Caiaphas turned him over to Pilate for sentence and execution. As he was a Galilean, Pilate sent him to Herod, who again threw the responsibility upon Pilate. Pilate's wife, a Gaul of clairvoyant powers, warned him against harming Jesus. But he was carried away by the clamor of the mob, and unable with the few soldiers then at his command to assert his authority against the people, he washed his hands in disapproval, and allowed Jesus to be hurried away to crucifixion. Fearful portents and unnatural darkness attended his death. Joseph of Arimathea begged for his body, and placed it in a tomb. A few days later this was found empty, and the disciples declared that he was risen. Just as Pilate was finishing his report of the case to the Emperor, the night following "the fatal catastrophe," he heard the long-desired reinforcements, two thousand legionaries, marching to his relief--just too late to enable him to save Jesus.

Mr. Mahan accompanied this "Report" with a circumstantial account of how he came to know of the work and to become possessed of it. He stated that while he was living in |44 De Witt, Missouri, in 1856, a German scholar named Henry C. Whydaman was icebound there and spent several days at his house. In the course of their conversations Mr. Whydaman told him of the existence of these "Acts of Pilate" in the Vatican Library, and thought a transcript of them could be obtained. Mr. Mahan became interested in the matter, and afterward, on September 22, 1856, he wrote Mr. Whydaman for a copy of the text. Mr. Whydaman had1 returned to Germany, but answered from Westphalia, promising to do what he could to secure one. Some months later he wrote that Father Peter Freelinhusen, the chief guardian of the Vatican, would provide a copy of the Latin text for thirty-five darics, or sixty-two dollars and forty-two cents. Mr. Mahan sent him a check on the Foreign Exchange Bank of New York, and on April 26, 1859, Mr. Whydaman's brother-in-law, Mr. C. C. Vantberger, of New York, reported the arrival of the document, and offered to translate it for ten dollars. Eight letters in all are printed in explanation of how the document came into Mr. Mahan's hands. The eighth is a letter from Father Freelinhusen to |45 Mr. Whydaman certifying to the accuracy of his copy of the Latin manuscript.

Mr. Mahan does not explain what he did with the "Report" during the twenty years that followed. But in 1879 he did at last publish it in the modest pamphlet above described. It seems to have met with gratifying success. Mr. Frederick W. Ashley, chief assistant librarian of the Library of Congress, informs me that it was republished within a year at Shelbyville, Indiana, by the Rev. George Sluter, A.M., who accompanied it with almost a hundred pages of introduction and notes, calling it "The Acta Pilati." In 1880 William Overton Clough republished it at Indianapolis, as the "Gesta Pilati." Mr. Clough went so far as to print several passages from it in Latin, but without saying whence he obtained the Latin form, and it must be admitted that the Latin has a very modern sound.1

There are obviously some grave difficulties |46

1 This earliest form of the "Report," which appears in substantially identical form in the publications of Mahan, Sluter, and Clough, in 1879 and 1880, has recently been reissued in a mimeographed pamphlet, entitled "Pilate's Court," without date or place, except that the copyright for "Oregon and Washington Territory" is described as "owned by S. Monro Hubbard." The reference to "Washington Territory" seems to point to a date for this edition prior to 1889 when Washington became a state. The form differs from Mahan's earliest only in that the name of Pilate does not stand at the beginning.

with Mr. Mahan's document and his story of how he secured it. To begin with, the name of Henry C. Whydaman does not have a German ring. As Professor Schmiedel, the distinguished scholar of Zurich, has since pointed out, Whydaman is no German name, and Westphalia is not a place but a province. No such name as Vantberger appears in the New York City directories from 1853 to 1863, and the "Foreign Exchange Bank" does not appear among New York banks of 1858. The name of Father Peter Freelinhusen is unknown to the annals of the Vatican Library. The use of darics in Rome in the nineteenth century is a surprise to most of us, who know that coin best from its use in Xenophon's "Anabasis." It is noteworthy that Mr. Mahan had to have the document translated for him, though it was in a language as well known as Latin. It is also noteworthy that Father Freelinhusen made no announcement of the discovery to the world of scholarship, although the extraordinary importance of it, if it was genuine, could not possibly have escaped him. The learned Mr. |47 Whydaman, who transmitted the Latin text to America, must have been aware of its importance, and even the mysterious Mr. Vantberger, of New York, should have known that the transaction left him possessed of a Latin text of extreme interest.

The misgivings raised by the story of how the "Report" was obtained are not relieved by the contents of the "Report" itself. The remark of Pilate that Herod "then reigned in Galilee" is a strange thing for Pilate to write to the Emperor the night after the Crucifixion; the Emperor must have known who was governing Galilee, and, as a matter of fact, Herod's tenure of office outlasted Pilate's. The excited words of Pilate's wife, "The statues of Caesar are filled with gemonide, the columns of the interium have given way," are certainly obscure. At this point, the translator, Mr. Vantberger, seems to have done his work very imperfectly. The crowd that hurries Jesus away to crucifixion utters such cries as "were never heard in the seditions of the panonia." The mob "streams out of the funeral gate leading to the Gemonica." This looks like an allusion to the Gemonian stairs at Rome. Dionysius the Areopagite, the Athenian mentioned in the |48 Acts, is in Jerusalem on the day of the Crucifixion. The picture of Jesus in his interview with Pilate is romantic and theatrical, and the Pilate reflected in the "Report" is historically improbable. The whole work is a weak, crude fancy, a jumble of high-sounding but meaningless words, and hardly worth serious criticism. It is difficult to see how it could have deceived anyone.

The strangest part of the story is that it did deceive a great many people. Of course there were some who immediately declared it a fraud, but Mr. Mahan came boldly to the defense of his "Report" in advertisements and letters to the Boonville paper.

The success of the "Report of Pilate" led Mr. Mahan to further discoveries of the same kind. In 1884, five years after the appearance of the "Report," he published a considerable volume containing nine such works, under the appalling title, "The Archaeological and the Historical Writings of the Sanhedrin and Talmuds of the Jews, Translated from the Ancient Parchments and Scrolls at Constantinople and the Vatican at Rome." A series of letters at the beginning reports visits made by Mr. Mahan first to Rome and |49 then to Constantinople, to study original sources for the life of Jesus. He secured the aid of two great scholars, otherwise unknown-- Dr. Twyman, of England, and Dr. McIntosh, of Scotland. At the Vatican these three had no difficulty in seeing the manuscript of "Pilate's Report"; it was brought to them promptly the moment they called for it. They were thus able to expand Mr. Mahan's earlier form of it (which Father Freelinhusen had declared so exact) by about twelve hundred words, including a conclusion strongly resembling the corresponding part of the Gospel of Matthew, and ending with the inimitable words, "I am your most obedient servant, Pontius Pilate." The sad incident of the death from grief or fright, at the Crucifixion, of Balthasar, an aged and learned Jew of Antioch, now found a place in the "Report."

With "Pilate's Report" thus embellished were combined reports of interviews with the shepherds, Gamaliel's interview with Joseph and Mary, Caiaphas' reports to the Sanhedrin, Eli's story of the Magi, Herod Antipater's defense before the Senate for the slaughter of the innocents, and Herod Antipas' defense before the Senate--all with the claim that they were |50 copied and translated from ancient manuscripts in Rome or Constantinople.

Like the "Report of Pilate," these bristle with childish blunders. There is no such Greek philosopher and Roman legislator as "Meeleesen" (p. 6). The supposed references to Josephus' "Jewish Wars"--"Senect. 15, in brut. 15, quintil. 3 and 12"--simply do not exist. That Josephus in his "Antiquities" refers to Jesus in more than fifty places is false; the supposed references given for finding these have nothing to do with Josephus or Jesus; they are "Suet. in dom. 13, Martial 9, v. 4." The statements that Philo's works were translated into Greek by a Jewish rabbi named Simon, that he often refers to Jesus, and that he began to write about A.D. 40 are groundless; it was at about that time that he ceased to write. That Tacitus wrote his history of Agricola in A.D. 56 is of course an error; Tacitus was born in 55, and even if he had been able to write his father-in-law's biography at the age of one year, there was as yet nothing to write, for Agricola himself was only nineteen. Mr. Mahan is not aware that the "Agricola" was written in Latin. He says it was translated by Marcus, a Jewish rabbi; "and so were all the |51 histories written in this age. They were written in the languages of those days, and the scribes of those days were most all Rabbis." Mr. Mahan's statement that when Mohammed took Constantinople he had the fifty Bibles prepared for Constantine "all nicely cased and deposited in the St. Sophia Mosque" where "they look more like rolls of narrow carpet wound around a windlass than anything else" is baseless. Mr. Mahan thought that parchment was made out of vegetable pulp, reduced to a paste and dried in the sun, after which it was called papyrus! He gives no reference to manuscript numbers which might aid anyone to find and examine the books he claims to have found. The mention of Hilderium with Shammai and Hillel (p. 215) may be a reminiscence of Ilderim in "Ben-Hur"; there is no such Jewish name. As in "Ben-Hur," the Wise Men are a Greek, a Hindu, and an Egyptian. This with the story of Balthasar's death on the afternoon of the Crucifixion, which was absent from the original form of the "Report," had important consequences.

For Mr. Mahan's colleagues in the ministry were not slow to perceive his indebtedness, in Eli's "Story of the Magi," published in 1884, |52 to "Ben-Hur," published in 1880. Chief among them was the Rev. James A. Quarles, then head of the Elizabeth Aull Seminary at Lexington, Missouri, and afterward professor in Washington and Lee University. Mr. Quarles was quick to observe that whole pages of Eli's "Story" were copied verbatim from "Ben-Hur." One detail that struck him with peculiar force was the mysterious word anuman, in this sentence: "Egypt is satisfied with her crocodiles and anuman, holding them in equal honor." On comparing this with "Ben-Hur," page 272, Mr. Quarles saw that Mr. Mahan in transcribing "Ben-Hur" had accidentally omitted a line. "Ben-Hur" reads:

Egypt was satisfied with her crocodiles and Anu-
bis; the Persians were yet devoted to Ormuzd and Ahri-
man, holding them in equal honor;

which of course made everything plain.1 |53

1 A detailed comparison of Eli's "Story of the Magi" with "Ben-Hur" betrays Mr. Mahan's method and limitations. His strange reference (p. 121) to "the lawn of the Khan"--about the last thing anyone acquainted with a Syrian khan would expect--is explained by the mention in "Ben-Hur," p. 73, of "a lewen of the khan," in the very same connection: the Wise Men are resting there late at night. The description of the Virgin is also appropriated from "Ben-Hur," but her "drooping lids" are unhappily altered to "dropping" ones (from ibid., p. 47). The freedom and extent of Mr. Mahan's copying of "Ben-Hur" are almost beyond belief.

Mr. Quarles attacked the genuineness of Mr. Mahan's discoveries in the Boonville Weekly Advertiser, with great keenness. He pointed out that Mr. Mahan was back in Boonville on November 6, 1883, although he claimed to have been discovering manuscripts in Constantinople on October 22, 1883.1 We may add that the best opinion today in Boonville is that Mr. Mahan did not get farther away than Rome, Illinois, a little village north of Peoria, and that his foreign letters were dispatched from that place. He was absent from Boonville less than two months in the autumn in which he claimed to have visited Rome and Constantinople, discovering and copying manuscripts.

On November 13, 1884, Mr. Mahan answered Mr. Quarles, admitting that there were misprints in the book, but saying that he hoped to get "Lyman Abbot" to revise and enlarge it. "Even in its present condition," he goes on, "it is paying us about twenty dollars per day. . . . . You are bound to admit that the items in the book cant do any harm even if it were faulce, but will cause many to read and reflect that otherwise would not. So the |54

1 Eli's "Story of the Magi," 1. 2.

balance of good is in its favor, and as to the truth of its MSS I stand ready to defend them."

In his reply to this in the Advertiser, Mr. Quarles said, February 14, 1885, "I assume the responsibility of declaring that his nine manuscripts are, one and all of them, spurious." Largely in consequence of his criticism, Mr. Mahan was summoned before the Lebanon presbytery in September, 1885, to answer charges of falsehood and plagiarism.

In gathering evidence to lay before the presbytery, General Wallace, who was then American minister in Turkey, was consulted. The matter is fully discussed in his "Autobiography," although it falls in the part of the book written by Mrs. Wallace after the general's death.1 General Wallace certified that no such Hebrew manuscript of the "Story of the Magi" as Mr. Mahan claimed to have used was known to him, and further that no one connected with the United States legation in Constantinople in October, 1883, had any knowledge of a visit of Mr. Mahan to the city, nor could any of the American missionaries about Constantinople, of whom General |55

1 "Lew Wallace: An Autobiography" (1906), pp. 942-45.

Wallace had inquired, "recall at any time such a visitor to the capital, although few clergymen, especially those conducting such a research, . . . . stopped at Constantinople without making themselves known" (p. 943). "General Wallace received permission from the Sultan to visit the library" of the mosque of St. Sophia, in order to inquire for the manuscripts Mr. Mahan claimed he and Dr. McIntosh had found there. He was accompanied by Dr. Albert A. S. Long and others. "No book answering to the description given by Mr. Mahan was found, nor was there any trace of Hebrew manuscript in whole or in part relating to the story of the Magi. Zia Bey, the librarian, assured General Wallace that he had been in charge of the library for thirty years, and it contained no such manuscripts as Mr. Mahan professed to have seen." Dr. Long wrote to General Wallace confirming all this. "The librarian also certified that during his long incumbency of thirty years, but three or four parties besides that of General Wallace had visited the library, of whom he recalled the Emperor of Austria and the Empress Eugénie." It should be remembered that this investigation by General Wallace was |56 undertaken with all the prestige of a minister of the United States, so extraordinarily popular with the Sultan that when his term as minister expired the latter invited him to enter his service. It was made within eighteen months of Mr. Mahan's supposed visit to Constantinople and the St. Sophia library, yet even then no one could be found at the legation, at the library, at the college, or among the missionaries who had heard or seen anything of Mr. Mahan or Dr. McIntosh. There is a strange irony in the fact that at the very time when Mr. Mahan was supposed to have visited Constantinople and there to have read the story of the Magi from an ancient manuscript, the author of that story was residing there as United States minister to Turkey.

In the light of this and of other evidence, Mr. Mahan was found guilty of falsehood and of plagiarism, and suspended from the ministry for one year. He left the meeting of the presbytery, promising to withdraw the book from circulation. But it was reprinted in St. Louis in 1887, in Dalton, Georgia, in 1895, and in Philadelphia, by the Antiquarian Book Company, in 1896. This edition had a strange sequel.|57

On August 1, 1898, the American minister to Turkey, James B. Angell, long president of the University of Michigan, reported to the Secretary of State that he had been asked by the Antiquarian Book Company to inquire whether the librarian at St. Sophia would supply a statement that the documents described in the book as found in the library of St. Sophia had been found there. Copies of the correspondence that followed have been sent me by Mr. Ashley. At the instance of Mr. Angell, the Turkish Minister of Public Instruction had taken the matter up, and on July 26, 1898, made the following report to Mr. Angell:

"From the investigations and examinations which have been made on the inquiries contained in the personal letter of His Excellency Mr. Angell, American Minister, it has been ascertained that neither the copy of any Bible ordered by the Emperor Constantine, nor any Report of Gamaliel on a conversation with the parents of Jesus, nor any report of Caiaphas on the crucifixion of Jesus, does exist in the Library of St. Sophia nor in any other of the libraries."

The representations of Mr. Mahan as to his discoveries in Constantinople have thus been |58 twice investigated in Constantinople by no less a person than the American minister, and with the same result. Nothing could be found of the manuscripts he claimed to have seen there.

A summary of this correspondence was published in the Washington Star of September 23, 1898, but the reprinting of the "Archko Volume," as it had come to be called, went steadily forward. It was republished in Topeka, Kansas, as the "Archko Library," in 1904; and in Philadelphia, as "The Archko Volume," in 1905. The "Autobiography" of General Wallace, with its exposure of Mr. Mahan's claims, appeared in 1906, but did not affect the circulation and acceptance of the book. It made its third appearance in Philadelphia in 1913, and was reprinted in Chicago in 1923, by the De Laurence Company, which does a large mail-order business in charms, talismans, amulets, and such things as most of us associate with the Dark Ages. It has been printed more than once in Grand Rapids, Michigan; most recently (1929), in the face of serious protest, by William B. Eerdmans. These are only a few of its printings.

The original core of it all, the "Report of |59 Pilate," was republished in Zion's Watch-tower, Volume XIII (1892). It has also been translated into German and published apparently with some additions, at Barmen, Germany, for the "Ernste Bibelforscher," and a second German edition, 1919, attracted the critical attention of Professor Paul W. Schmiedel, of Zurich, who pointed out some of its manifest weaknesses in a tract entitled "Pilatus ueber Jesus bei den Ernsten Bibelforschern; Eine Faelschung entdeckt."

It was recently published as a tract, under the title "Letter of Pontius Pilate to Caesar," by the Free Tract Society, Inc., of Los Angeles, California, from whom it may be had at twenty cents per dozen. It was read over the radio from Davenport, Iowa, Sunday evenings in the summer and autumn of 1926, and the bulk of it was published in the American Weekly Magazine of December 4, 1927, with the statement that it was found in the Vatican Library in 1897.

What is the explanation of this curious story? The late seventies were the years when Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll was very much in the public eye, with his attacks upon the Bible. In 1876 he made his famous speech before the |60 Republican National Convention nominating James G. Blaine for the presidency. In 1879 his lecture on "The Mistakes of Moses" was published. Hundreds of men rose up to answer him, and a country preacher like Mr. Mahan may well have felt stirred to help in defending the Bible. The Book of Mormon had appeared in 1830. The Mormons came to Missouri from Ohio in 1837, and settled in Caldwell County, next to Carroll County, where Mahan afterward lived. Knowledge of them and their book may have contributed to his strange writings. He perhaps knew something of the amazing discoveries made by Tischendorf in the fifties in the libraries of the Levant. The suggestion of a letter or report to the Emperor doubtless came to him from the brief apocryphal pieces of that kind translated by Alexander Walker in the Edinburgh edition of the Ante-Nicene Library, Volume XVI, which appeared in 1873--the "Letter of Pontius Pilate to Tiberius," the "Report of Pilate to the Emperor Tiberius," and the "Acts of Pilate," in the Gospel of Nicodemus. All three of these titles--Letter, Report, Acts--have, it will be observed, been applied to Mr. Mahan's document. But the general color of his |61 pamphlet is very different from those old fictions of the fourth and fifth centuries, and often suggests the wild hysterical remorse of George Croly's Wandering Jew "Salathiel," a book better known in Mahan's day than now. It was probably to establish for his document a date prior to that of Walker's volume that Mahan built up the elaborate Whydaman-Freelinhusen-Vantberger correspondence with which he prefaced it, which was meant to prove that the "Report" had been in his possession since 1859.

At all events, in the late seventies, when attacks on the Bible were most violent, this uneducated man, fully convinced that such documents as would support his views of it must exist or have existed, saw no harm in inventing a document calculated as he supposed to confirm the statements of the New Testament as he understood it. Hardly had it appeared in print (March, 1879) when in 1880 Lew Wallace's "Ben-Hur" made its sensational appearance. This gave wings to Mr. Mahan's imagination, and in 1884 "Pilate's Report" has grown into the twelve chapters of the "Archaeological and Historical Writings." He writes without taste or skill; his unrefined |62 fancy sometimes descends to the vulgar and the indecent; his book is as Montague James calls it a "ridiculous and disgusting volume." Yet it has been printed and reprinted, however obscurely, in a dozen places, and actually welcomed as an aid to faith by earnest but uninformed people who should have been protected against such deception. The lesson is clear: We cannot dispense with the methods and resources of exact scholarship without exposing ourselves to pious frauds. |63
Comment by Mikha El on January 3, 2010 at 9:17pm
To begin with, the name of Henry C. Whydaman does not have a German ring. As Professor Schmiedel, the distinguished scholar of Zurich, has since pointed out, Whydaman is no German name, and Westphalia is not a place but a province. No such name as Vantberger appears in the New York City directories from 1853 to 1863, and the "Foreign Exchange Bank" does not appear among New York banks of 1858. The name of Father Peter Freelinhusen is unknown to the annals of the Vatican Library.

It appears a bit iffy now. Guess I'll take it off my wish list. :>(
Comment by James Trimm on January 3, 2010 at 9:30pm
I am always open to further information, but from what info I have at my disposal currently, I cannot put much faith in it,
Comment by James Trimm on May 17, 2012 at 10:49pm

 From the Book "Strange New Gospels" by Edger Goodspeed

Chapter 5
PILATE'S COURT, AND THE ARCHKO VOLUME
(http://www.tertullian.org/articles/goodspeed_strange_new_gospels.htm#5)
IN 1879, the Rev. W. D. Mahan, a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, of Boonville, Missouri, published a pamphlet of thirty-two pages, entitled "A Correct Transcript of Pilate's Court." It consisted chiefly of an official report of the trial and death of Jesus, made directly to the Emperor Tiberius, by Pilate, as governor of Judea. Pilate describes his arrival in Jerusalem as governor, the arrogance with which the Jewish leaders treated his advances, his encounter with Jesus, and the impression Jesus' words made upon him. Pilate invites Jesus to an interview, warns him of his danger from the Jews, and urges him to be more moderate in his condemnation of them, but Jesus is unmoved. Herod calls upon Pilate, and expresses his interest in Jesus. At the Passover, an insurrection against Pilate's authority broke out. Jesus was seized |43 by the rabble, brought before the high priest, and condemned to death. Caiaphas turned him over to Pilate for sentence and execution. As he was a Galilean, Pilate sent him to Herod, who again threw the responsibility upon Pilate. Pilate's wife, a Gaul of clairvoyant powers, warned him against harming Jesus. But he was carried away by the clamor of the mob, and unable with the few soldiers then at his command to assert his authority against the people, he washed his hands in disapproval, and allowed Jesus to be hurried away to crucifixion. Fearful portents and unnatural darkness attended his death. Joseph of Arimathea begged for his body, and placed it in a tomb. A few days later this was found empty, and the disciples declared that he was risen. Just as Pilate was finishing his report of the case to the Emperor, the night following "the fatal catastrophe," he heard the long-desired reinforcements, two thousand legionaries, marching to his relief--just too late to enable him to save Jesus.

Mr. Mahan accompanied this "Report" with a circumstantial account of how he came to know of the work and to become possessed of it. He stated that while he was living in |44 De Witt, Missouri, in 1856, a German scholar named Henry C. Whydaman was icebound there and spent several days at his house. In the course of their conversations Mr. Whydaman told him of the existence of these "Acts of Pilate" in the Vatican Library, and thought a transcript of them could be obtained. Mr. Mahan became interested in the matter, and afterward, on September 22, 1856, he wrote Mr. Whydaman for a copy of the text. Mr. Whydaman had1 returned to Germany, but answered from Westphalia, promising to do what he could to secure one. Some months later he wrote that Father Peter Freelinhusen, the chief guardian of the Vatican, would provide a copy of the Latin text for thirty-five darics, or sixty-two dollars and forty-two cents. Mr. Mahan sent him a check on the Foreign Exchange Bank of New York, and on April 26, 1859, Mr. Whydaman's brother-in-law, Mr. C. C. Vantberger, of New York, reported the arrival of the document, and offered to translate it for ten dollars. Eight letters in all are printed in explanation of how the document came into Mr. Mahan's hands. The eighth is a letter from Father Freelinhusen to |45 Mr. Whydaman certifying to the accuracy of his copy of the Latin manuscript.

Mr. Mahan does not explain what he did with the "Report" during the twenty years that followed. But in 1879 he did at last publish it in the modest pamphlet above described. It seems to have met with gratifying success. Mr. Frederick W. Ashley, chief assistant librarian of the Library of Congress, informs me that it was republished within a year at Shelbyville, Indiana, by the Rev. George Sluter, A.M., who accompanied it with almost a hundred pages of introduction and notes, calling it "The Acta Pilati." In 1880 William Overton Clough republished it at Indianapolis, as the "Gesta Pilati." Mr. Clough went so far as to print several passages from it in Latin, but without saying whence he obtained the Latin form, and it must be admitted that the Latin has a very modern sound.1

There are obviously some grave difficulties |46

1 This earliest form of the "Report," which appears in substantially identical form in the publications of Mahan, Sluter, and Clough, in 1879 and 1880, has recently been reissued in a mimeographed pamphlet, entitled "Pilate's Court," without date or place, except that the copyright for "Oregon and Washington Territory" is described as "owned by S. Monro Hubbard." The reference to "Washington Territory" seems to point to a date for this edition prior to 1889 when Washington became a state. The form differs from Mahan's earliest only in that the name of Pilate does not stand at the beginning.

with Mr. Mahan's document and his story of how he secured it. To begin with, the name of Henry C. Whydaman does not have a German ring. As Professor Schmiedel, the distinguished scholar of Zurich, has since pointed out, Whydaman is no German name, and Westphalia is not a place but a province. No such name as Vantberger appears in the New York City directories from 1853 to 1863, and the "Foreign Exchange Bank" does not appear among New York banks of 1858. The name of Father Peter Freelinhusen is unknown to the annals of the Vatican Library. The use of darics in Rome in the nineteenth century is a surprise to most of us, who know that coin best from its use in Xenophon's "Anabasis." It is noteworthy that Mr. Mahan had to have the document translated for him, though it was in a language as well known as Latin. It is also noteworthy that Father Freelinhusen made no announcement of the discovery to the world of scholarship, although the extraordinary importance of it, if it was genuine, could not possibly have escaped him. The learned Mr. |47 Whydaman, who transmitted the Latin text to America, must have been aware of its importance, and even the mysterious Mr. Vantberger, of New York, should have known that the transaction left him possessed of a Latin text of extreme interest.

The misgivings raised by the story of how the "Report" was obtained are not relieved by the contents of the "Report" itself. The remark of Pilate that Herod "then reigned in Galilee" is a strange thing for Pilate to write to the Emperor the night after the Crucifixion; the Emperor must have known who was governing Galilee, and, as a matter of fact, Herod's tenure of office outlasted Pilate's. The excited words of Pilate's wife, "The statues of Caesar are filled with gemonide, the columns of the interium have given way," are certainly obscure. At this point, the translator, Mr. Vantberger, seems to have done his work very imperfectly. The crowd that hurries Jesus away to crucifixion utters such cries as "were never heard in the seditions of the panonia." The mob "streams out of the funeral gate leading to the Gemonica." This looks like an allusion to the Gemonian stairs at Rome. Dionysius the Areopagite, the Athenian mentioned in the |48 Acts, is in Jerusalem on the day of the Crucifixion. The picture of Jesus in his interview with Pilate is romantic and theatrical, and the Pilate reflected in the "Report" is historically improbable. The whole work is a weak, crude fancy, a jumble of high-sounding but meaningless words, and hardly worth serious criticism. It is difficult to see how it could have deceived anyone.

The strangest part of the story is that it did deceive a great many people. Of course there were some who immediately declared it a fraud, but Mr. Mahan came boldly to the defense of his "Report" in advertisements and letters to the Boonville paper.

The success of the "Report of Pilate" led Mr. Mahan to further discoveries of the same kind. In 1884, five years after the appearance of the "Report," he published a considerable volume containing nine such works, under the appalling title, "The Archaeological and the Historical Writings of the Sanhedrin and Talmuds of the Jews, Translated from the Ancient Parchments and Scrolls at Constantinople and the Vatican at Rome." A series of letters at the beginning reports visits made by Mr. Mahan first to Rome and |49 then to Constantinople, to study original sources for the life of Jesus. He secured the aid of two great scholars, otherwise unknown-- Dr. Twyman, of England, and Dr. McIntosh, of Scotland. At the Vatican these three had no difficulty in seeing the manuscript of "Pilate's Report"; it was brought to them promptly the moment they called for it. They were thus able to expand Mr. Mahan's earlier form of it (which Father Freelinhusen had declared so exact) by about twelve hundred words, including a conclusion strongly resembling the corresponding part of the Gospel of Matthew, and ending with the inimitable words, "I am your most obedient servant, Pontius Pilate." The sad incident of the death from grief or fright, at the Crucifixion, of Balthasar, an aged and learned Jew of Antioch, now found a place in the "Report."

With "Pilate's Report" thus embellished were combined reports of interviews with the shepherds, Gamaliel's interview with Joseph and Mary, Caiaphas' reports to the Sanhedrin, Eli's story of the Magi, Herod Antipater's defense before the Senate for the slaughter of the innocents, and Herod Antipas' defense before the Senate--all with the claim that they were |50 copied and translated from ancient manuscripts in Rome or Constantinople.

Like the "Report of Pilate," these bristle with childish blunders. There is no such Greek philosopher and Roman legislator as "Meeleesen" (p. 6). The supposed references to Josephus' "Jewish Wars"--"Senect. 15, in brut. 15, quintil. 3 and 12"--simply do not exist. That Josephus in his "Antiquities" refers to Jesus in more than fifty places is false; the supposed references given for finding these have nothing to do with Josephus or Jesus; they are "Suet. in dom. 13, Martial 9, v. 4." The statements that Philo's works were translated into Greek by a Jewish rabbi named Simon, that he often refers to Jesus, and that he began to write about A.D. 40 are groundless; it was at about that time that he ceased to write. That Tacitus wrote his history of Agricola in A.D. 56 is of course an error; Tacitus was born in 55, and even if he had been able to write his father-in-law's biography at the age of one year, there was as yet nothing to write, for Agricola himself was only nineteen. Mr. Mahan is not aware that the "Agricola" was written in Latin. He says it was translated by Marcus, a Jewish rabbi; "and so were all the |51 histories written in this age. They were written in the languages of those days, and the scribes of those days were most all Rabbis." Mr. Mahan's statement that when Mohammed took Constantinople he had the fifty Bibles prepared for Constantine "all nicely cased and deposited in the St. Sophia Mosque" where "they look more like rolls of narrow carpet wound around a windlass than anything else" is baseless. Mr. Mahan thought that parchment was made out of vegetable pulp, reduced to a paste and dried in the sun, after which it was called papyrus! He gives no reference to manuscript numbers which might aid anyone to find and examine the books he claims to have found. The mention of Hilderium with Shammai and Hillel (p. 215) may be a reminiscence of Ilderim in "Ben-Hur"; there is no such Jewish name. As in "Ben-Hur," the Wise Men are a Greek, a Hindu, and an Egyptian. This with the story of Balthasar's death on the afternoon of the Crucifixion, which was absent from the original form of the "Report," had important consequences.

For Mr. Mahan's colleagues in the ministry were not slow to perceive his indebtedness, in Eli's "Story of the Magi," published in 1884, |52 to "Ben-Hur," published in 1880. Chief among them was the Rev. James A. Quarles, then head of the Elizabeth Aull Seminary at Lexington, Missouri, and afterward professor in Washington and Lee University. Mr. Quarles was quick to observe that whole pages of Eli's "Story" were copied verbatim from "Ben-Hur." One detail that struck him with peculiar force was the mysterious word anuman, in this sentence: "Egypt is satisfied with her crocodiles and anuman, holding them in equal honor." On comparing this with "Ben-Hur," page 272, Mr. Quarles saw that Mr. Mahan in transcribing "Ben-Hur" had accidentally omitted a line. "Ben-Hur" reads:

Egypt was satisfied with her crocodiles and Anu-
bis; the Persians were yet devoted to Ormuzd and Ahri-
man, holding them in equal honor;

which of course made everything plain.1 |53

1 A detailed comparison of Eli's "Story of the Magi" with "Ben-Hur" betrays Mr. Mahan's method and limitations. His strange reference (p. 121) to "the lawn of the Khan"--about the last thing anyone acquainted with a Syrian khan would expect--is explained by the mention in "Ben-Hur," p. 73, of "a lewen of the khan," in the very same connection: the Wise Men are resting there late at night. The description of the Virgin is also appropriated from "Ben-Hur," but her "drooping lids" are unhappily altered to "dropping" ones (from ibid., p. 47). The freedom and extent of Mr. Mahan's copying of "Ben-Hur" are almost beyond belief.

Mr. Quarles attacked the genuineness of Mr. Mahan's discoveries in the Boonville Weekly Advertiser, with great keenness. He pointed out that Mr. Mahan was back in Boonville on November 6, 1883, although he claimed to have been discovering manuscripts in Constantinople on October 22, 1883.1 We may add that the best opinion today in Boonville is that Mr. Mahan did not get farther away than Rome, Illinois, a little village north of Peoria, and that his foreign letters were dispatched from that place. He was absent from Boonville less than two months in the autumn in which he claimed to have visited Rome and Constantinople, discovering and copying manuscripts.

On November 13, 1884, Mr. Mahan answered Mr. Quarles, admitting that there were misprints in the book, but saying that he hoped to get "Lyman Abbot" to revise and enlarge it. "Even in its present condition," he goes on, "it is paying us about twenty dollars per day. . . . . You are bound to admit that the items in the book cant do any harm even if it were faulce, but will cause many to read and reflect that otherwise would not. So the |54

1 Eli's "Story of the Magi," 1. 2.

balance of good is in its favor, and as to the truth of its MSS I stand ready to defend them."

In his reply to this in the Advertiser, Mr. Quarles said, February 14, 1885, "I assume the responsibility of declaring that his nine manuscripts are, one and all of them, spurious." Largely in consequence of his criticism, Mr. Mahan was summoned before the Lebanon presbytery in September, 1885, to answer charges of falsehood and plagiarism.

In gathering evidence to lay before the presbytery, General Wallace, who was then American minister in Turkey, was consulted. The matter is fully discussed in his "Autobiography," although it falls in the part of the book written by Mrs. Wallace after the general's death.1 General Wallace certified that no such Hebrew manuscript of the "Story of the Magi" as Mr. Mahan claimed to have used was known to him, and further that no one connected with the United States legation in Constantinople in October, 1883, had any knowledge of a visit of Mr. Mahan to the city, nor could any of the American missionaries about Constantinople, of whom General |55

1 "Lew Wallace: An Autobiography" (1906), pp. 942-45.

Wallace had inquired, "recall at any time such a visitor to the capital, although few clergymen, especially those conducting such a research, . . . . stopped at Constantinople without making themselves known" (p. 943). "General Wallace received permission from the Sultan to visit the library" of the mosque of St. Sophia, in order to inquire for the manuscripts Mr. Mahan claimed he and Dr. McIntosh had found there. He was accompanied by Dr. Albert A. S. Long and others. "No book answering to the description given by Mr. Mahan was found, nor was there any trace of Hebrew manuscript in whole or in part relating to the story of the Magi. Zia Bey, the librarian, assured General Wallace that he had been in charge of the library for thirty years, and it contained no such manuscripts as Mr. Mahan professed to have seen." Dr. Long wrote to General Wallace confirming all this. "The librarian also certified that during his long incumbency of thirty years, but three or four parties besides that of General Wallace had visited the library, of whom he recalled the Emperor of Austria and the Empress Eugénie." It should be remembered that this investigation by General Wallace was |56 undertaken with all the prestige of a minister of the United States, so extraordinarily popular with the Sultan that when his term as minister expired the latter invited him to enter his service. It was made within eighteen months of Mr. Mahan's supposed visit to Constantinople and the St. Sophia library, yet even then no one could be found at the legation, at the library, at the college, or among the missionaries who had heard or seen anything of Mr. Mahan or Dr. McIntosh. There is a strange irony in the fact that at the very time when Mr. Mahan was supposed to have visited Constantinople and there to have read the story of the Magi from an ancient manuscript, the author of that story was residing there as United States minister to Turkey.

In the light of this and of other evidence, Mr. Mahan was found guilty of falsehood and of plagiarism, and suspended from the ministry for one year. He left the meeting of the presbytery, promising to withdraw the book from circulation. But it was reprinted in St. Louis in 1887, in Dalton, Georgia, in 1895, and in Philadelphia, by the Antiquarian Book Company, in 1896. This edition had a strange sequel.|57

On August 1, 1898, the American minister to Turkey, James B. Angell, long president of the University of Michigan, reported to the Secretary of State that he had been asked by the Antiquarian Book Company to inquire whether the librarian at St. Sophia would supply a statement that the documents described in the book as found in the library of St. Sophia had been found there. Copies of the correspondence that followed have been sent me by Mr. Ashley. At the instance of Mr. Angell, the Turkish Minister of Public Instruction had taken the matter up, and on July 26, 1898, made the following report to Mr. Angell:

"From the investigations and examinations which have been made on the inquiries contained in the personal letter of His Excellency Mr. Angell, American Minister, it has been ascertained that neither the copy of any Bible ordered by the Emperor Constantine, nor any Report of Gamaliel on a conversation with the parents of Jesus, nor any report of Caiaphas on the crucifixion of Jesus, does exist in the Library of St. Sophia nor in any other of the libraries."

The representations of Mr. Mahan as to his discoveries in Constantinople have thus been |58 twice investigated in Constantinople by no less a person than the American minister, and with the same result. Nothing could be found of the manuscripts he claimed to have seen there.

A summary of this correspondence was published in the Washington Star of September 23, 1898, but the reprinting of the "Archko Volume," as it had come to be called, went steadily forward. It was republished in Topeka, Kansas, as the "Archko Library," in 1904; and in Philadelphia, as "The Archko Volume," in 1905. The "Autobiography" of General Wallace, with its exposure of Mr. Mahan's claims, appeared in 1906, but did not affect the circulation and acceptance of the book. It made its third appearance in Philadelphia in 1913, and was reprinted in Chicago in 1923, by the De Laurence Company, which does a large mail-order business in charms, talismans, amulets, and such things as most of us associate with the Dark Ages. It has been printed more than once in Grand Rapids, Michigan; most recently (1929), in the face of serious protest, by William B. Eerdmans. These are only a few of its printings.

The original core of it all, the "Report of |59 Pilate," was republished in Zion's Watch-tower, Volume XIII (1892). It has also been translated into German and published apparently with some additions, at Barmen, Germany, for the "Ernste Bibelforscher," and a second German edition, 1919, attracted the critical attention of Professor Paul W. Schmiedel, of Zurich, who pointed out some of its manifest weaknesses in a tract entitled "Pilatus ueber Jesus bei den Ernsten Bibelforschern; Eine Faelschung entdeckt."

It was recently published as a tract, under the title "Letter of Pontius Pilate to Caesar," by the Free Tract Society, Inc., of Los Angeles, California, from whom it may be had at twenty cents per dozen. It was read over the radio from Davenport, Iowa, Sunday evenings in the summer and autumn of 1926, and the bulk of it was published in the American Weekly Magazine of December 4, 1927, with the statement that it was found in the Vatican Library in 1897.

What is the explanation of this curious story? The late seventies were the years when Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll was very much in the public eye, with his attacks upon the Bible. In 1876 he made his famous speech before the |60 Republican National Convention nominating James G. Blaine for the presidency. In 1879 his lecture on "The Mistakes of Moses" was published. Hundreds of men rose up to answer him, and a country preacher like Mr. Mahan may well have felt stirred to help in defending the Bible. The Book of Mormon had appeared in 1830. The Mormons came to Missouri from Ohio in 1837, and settled in Caldwell County, next to Carroll County, where Mahan afterward lived. Knowledge of them and their book may have contributed to his strange writings. He perhaps knew something of the amazing discoveries made by Tischendorf in the fifties in the libraries of the Levant. The suggestion of a letter or report to the Emperor doubtless came to him from the brief apocryphal pieces of that kind translated by Alexander Walker in the Edinburgh edition of the Ante-Nicene Library, Volume XVI, which appeared in 1873--the "Letter of Pontius Pilate to Tiberius," the "Report of Pilate to the Emperor Tiberius," and the "Acts of Pilate," in the Gospel of Nicodemus. All three of these titles--Letter, Report, Acts--have, it will be observed, been applied to Mr. Mahan's document. But the general color of his |61 pamphlet is very different from those old fictions of the fourth and fifth centuries, and often suggests the wild hysterical remorse of George Croly's Wandering Jew "Salathiel," a book better known in Mahan's day than now. It was probably to establish for his document a date prior to that of Walker's volume that Mahan built up the elaborate Whydaman-Freelinhusen-Vantberger correspondence with which he prefaced it, which was meant to prove that the "Report" had been in his possession since 1859.

At all events, in the late seventies, when attacks on the Bible were most violent, this uneducated man, fully convinced that such documents as would support his views of it must exist or have existed, saw no harm in inventing a document calculated as he supposed to confirm the statements of the New Testament as he understood it. Hardly had it appeared in print (March, 1879) when in 1880 Lew Wallace's "Ben-Hur" made its sensational appearance. This gave wings to Mr. Mahan's imagination, and in 1884 "Pilate's Report" has grown into the twelve chapters of the "Archaeological and Historical Writings." He writes without taste or skill; his unrefined |62 fancy sometimes descends to the vulgar and the indecent; his book is as Montague James calls it a "ridiculous and disgusting volume." Yet it has been printed and reprinted, however obscurely, in a dozen places, and actually welcomed as an aid to faith by earnest but uninformed people who should have been protected against such deception. The lesson is clear: We cannot dispense with the methods and resources of exact scholarship without exposing ourselves to pious frauds. |63

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