Jesus's Words

Chapter 13: Paul's Supposable Miracles Explained

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Section 3: Supposable Miracle II.—at Lystra, Cripple Cured.—Acts 14:8-11

Second of these supposed miracles,—cure of the cripple at Lystra.

This miracle makes a bad match with the before-mentioned one.

Seeing a man at Lystra, neither man's name, nor place's, except in that general way, nor time, in any way mentioned,—seeing a man in the guise of a cripple, Paul who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, he [Paul] said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.Acts 14:9-10 Chorus of the people thereupon, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.Acts 14:11b

To the production of an appearance of this sort, what was necessary? a real miracle? No, surely: so long as a vagrant was to be found, who, without any risk, could act a part of this sort for a few pence, in an age so fertile in imposture.

True it is, that this same man, whoever he was, is represented as being "impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked." But these words, how much more than any other words, of the same length, in the same number, did the writing of them cost the author of this story? As to the correctness of his narratives,—of the self-contradictory accounts given by him of Paul's conversion, a sample has been already given. As to detection, supposing this circumstance false,—detection is what the account thus given of it renders impossible. For—this same cripple, what was his name? from birth to this time, where had he been living? Of this nothing is said. That, at Lystra, or anywhere else, the account was ever made public, is neither affirmed, nor so much as insinuated: not but that it might have been published, and, at the same time, though as to everything but the scene that exhibited itself to outward appearance, false,—might not have found any person, at the same time able and willing to contradict the falsity, and thus naturalize the miracle.

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