John Jay Chapman
Mayor Otis saw nothing important in the episode which has given him a Dantesque immortality.
That old Jewish society was probably the most moral society that ever existed. If we consider its thousand years of prophets, its literature of ethics and of devotion, its popular passion for theology, its passion for those discussions which went on constantly in temple and marketplace, and which show a deeper clutch upon truth than Athens at her best could show—if we consider what sort of men those scribes and Pharisees probably were, we shall have to confess that Christ’s rebuke fell on men whose faults were mild compared to the atrocities visible in the modern world.
[Denunciation] is not an accidental characteristic of Christ’s. It is an organic product, a concomitant of the hottest, most personal love of men that has ever been known upon the earth. . . . You would speak thus yourself, could you see as clearly, feel as keenly, as Christ. Your calmness is only possible because your heart is cold, or your eyes dim.