Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare

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Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare (14 September 1856 – 9 January 1924) was an English orientalist, Anglo-Papalist, and Professor of Theology at the University of Oxford.


  • The earliest body of gospel tradition, represented by Mark no less than by the primitive non-Marcan document embodied in the first and third gospels, begins, not with the birth and childhood of Jesus, but with his baptism; and this order of accretion of gospel matter is faithfully reflected in the time order of the invention of feasts. The great church adopted Christmas much later than Epiphany; and before the 5th century there was no general consensus of opinion as to when it should come in the calendar, whether on the 6th of January, or the 25th of March, or the 25th of December.
    • Christmas. Wikisource, 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica (1911).
  • ... what is poetry to us—akin to the folk-lore of water-sprites, naiads, kelpies, river-gods and water-worship in general—was to Tertullian and to the generations of believers who fashioned the baptismal rites, ablutions and beliefs of the church, nothing less than grim reality and unquestionable fact.
    • Holy Water. Wikisource, 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica (1911).

Myth, Magic, and Morals (1909)

  • ... when a priest undertakes by certain movements of his hands, by use of certain invocations, of certain names and forms of words, which must on no account be varied, to impart to bread and wine, to water, oil, salt, bells, or what not, certain occult qualities and values, which they had not before and could not otherwise gain, he moves in the realm of pure magic.
  • ... Paul's Christ is an a priori construction of his own, owing to the historical man of Nazareth and to those who knew that man and cherished his memory little except the bare name of Jesus. Paul's Jesus is an ideal superhuman Saviour, destined, from the beginning of the world, to play an ecumenic rôle.
  • We can write a life of Julius Caesar or of Cicero, because we have in the first line letters, commentaries, and other authentic documents written by them and their friends; in the second, lives written by Plutarch and others who had in their hands monuments of them, now lost; and in the third, masses of contemporary coins and inscriptions. Contrast with this wealth of sources the scanty material which remains, after the examination of the preceding chapters, for a portrait of Jesus of Nazareth. So slender is it, indeed, that it seems not absurd to some critics to-day to deny that he ever lived.

History of New Testament Criticism (1910)

  • The various writings—narrative, epistolary, and apocalyptic—which make up the New Testament had no common origin, but were composed at different times by at least a score of writers in places which, in view of the difficulties presented to travel by the ancient world, may be said to have been widely remote from each other. With the exception of the Epistles of Paul, none of them, or next to none, were composed until about fifty years after the death of Jesus; and another hundred years elapsed before they were assembled in one collection and began to take their place alongside the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible as authoritative scriptures.
  • Marcion, in the middle of the second century, had pitilessly assailed the God of the Jews, and denounced the cruelty, lust, fraud, and rapine of the Hebrew patriarchs and kings, the favourites of that God. In the middle of the third century the orthodox were still hard put to it to meet the arguments of Marcion, and, as Milton put it, "to justify the ways of God to man."
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