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Full text of "The quest of the historical Jesus : a critical study of its progress from Reimarus to Wrede"

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I \ 





F. C. BURKITT, M.A., D.D. 





First Edition published March igic 


THE book here translated is offered to the English-speaking public in the 
belief that it sets before them, as no other book has ever done, the history 
of the struggle ivhich the best-equipped intellects of the modern world 
have gone through in endeavouring to realise for themselves the historical 
personality of our Lord. 

Every one nowadays is aware that traditional Christian doctrine 
about Jesus Christ is encompassed with difficulties, and that many of the 
statements in the Gospels appear incredible in the light of modern views 
of history and nature. But when the alternative of "Jesus or Christ " 
is put forward, as it has been in a recent publication, or when we 
are bidden to choose between the Jesus of history and the Christ of 
dogma, few except professed students know what a protean and 
kaleidoscopic figure the "Jesus of history " is. Like the Christ in the 
Apocryphal Acts of John, He has appeared in different forms to 
different minds. " We know Him right well," says Professor Weinel. 1 
IVhat a claim / 

Among the many bold paradoxes enunciated in this history of the 
Quest, there is one that meets us at the outset, about which a few words 
may be said here, if only to encourage those to persevere to the end who 
might otherwise be repelled half-way the paradox that th^~^reatest_ 
attempts to write a 4dfLJ2f-J*L sus ^ ave ^ n written with hate? It 
is in full accordance with this faith that Dr. Schweitzer gives, in para- 
graph after paragraph, the undiluted expression of the views of men wfio 
agree only in their unflinching desire to attain historical truth. We 
are not accustomed to be so ruthless in England. We sometimes tend 
to forget that the Gospel has moved the world, and we think our faith 
and devotion to it so tender and delicate a thing that it will break, if it 
be not handled with the utmost circumspection. So we become dominated 

1 Quoted by Dr. Inge in the Hibbert Journal for Jan. 1910, p. 438 {from tt /estes 
or Christ" p. 32). 

2 " Quest '," /. 4. 


by phrases and afraid of them. Dr. Schweitzer is not afraid of phrases, 
if only they have been beaten out by real contact with facts. And those 
who read to the end will see that the crude sarcasm of Reimarus and 
the unflinching scepticism of Bruno Bauer are not introduced merely to 
shock and by way of contrast. Each in his own way made a real 
contribution to our understanding of the greatest historical problem 
in the history of our race. We see now that the object of attack 
was not the historical Jesus after all, bttt a temporary idea of Him, 
inadequate because it did not truly represent Him or the world in which 
He lived. And by hearing the writers' characteristic phrases, uncom- 
promising as they may be, by looking at things for a moment from their 
own point of view, different as it may be from ours, we are able to be 
more just, not only to these men of a past age, but also to the great 
Problem that occupied them, as it also occupies us. 

For, as Father Tyrrell has been pointing out in his last most 
impressive message to us all, Christianity is at the Cross Roads. If 
the Figure of our Lord is to mean anything for us we must realise it 
for ourselves. Most English readers of the New Testament have been 
too long content with the rough and ready Harmony of the Four 
Gospels that they unconsciously construct. This kind of " Harmony " 
is not a very convincing picture when looked into, if only because it 
almost always conflicts with inconvenient statements of the Gospels 
themselves, statements that have been omitted from the "Harmony," 
not on any reasoned theory, but simply from inadvertence or the difficulty 
of fitting them in. We treat the Life of our Lord too much as it is 
treated in tfie Liturgical " Gospels," as a simple series of disconnected 

Dr. Schweitzer's book does not pretend to be an impartial survey, 
He has his own solution of the problems, and it is not to be expected 
that English students will endorse the whole of his view of the Gospel 
History, any more than his German fellow-workers have done. But 
valuable and suggestive as I believe his constructive work to be in its 
main outlines, I venture to think his grasp of the nature and complexity 
of the great Quest is even more remarkable, and his exposition of it 
cannot fail to stimulate us in England. Whatever we may think of 
Dr. Schiveitzer* s solution or that of his opponents, we too have to 
reckon with the Son of Man who was expected to come before the apostles 
had gone over the cities of Israel, the Son of Man who would come in 
His Kingdom before some that heard our Lord speak should taste death, 
the Son of Man who came to give His life a ransom for many, whom 


they would see hereafter coming with the clouds of heaven. " Who is 
this Son of Man ? " Dr. Schweitzer's book is an attempt to give the 
full historical value and the true historical setting to these fundamental 
words of the Gospel of Jesus. 

Our first duty, with the Gospel as with every other ancient document, 
is to interpret it with reference to its own time. The true view of the 
Gospel will be that which explains the course of events in the first 
century and the second century, rather than that which seems to have 
spiritual and imaginative value for the twentieth century. Yet I 
cannot refrain from pointing out here one feature of the theory of 
thoroughgoing eschatology, which may appeal to those who are accustomed 
to the venerable forms of ancient Christian aspiration and worship. It 
may well be that absolute truth cannot be embodied in human thought 
and that its expression must always be clothed in symbols. It may be 
that we have to translate the hopes and fears of our spiritual ancestors 
into the language of our new world. We have to learn, as the Church 
in the second century had to learn, that the End is not yet, that New 
Jerusalem, like all other objects of sense, is an image of the truth rather 
than tlie truth itself. But at least we are beginning to see that the 
apocalyptic vision, the New Age which God is to bring in, is no mere 
embroidery of Christianity, but tJie heart of its enthusiasm. And there- 
fore the expectations of vindication and judgment to come, the imagery 
of the Messianic Feast, the " other-worldliness " against which so many 
eloquent words were said in the nineteenth century, are not to be 
regarded as regrettable accretions foisted on by superstition to the pure 
morality of the original Gospel. These ideas are the Christian Hope, 
to be allegorised and "spiritualised" by us for our own use whenever 
necessary, but not to be given up so long as we remain Christians at all. 
Books which teach us boldly to trust the evidence of our documents, and 
to accept the eschatology of the Christian Gospel as being historically the 
eschatology of Jesus, help us at the same time to retain a real meaning 
and use for the ancient phrases of the Te Deum, and for the mediaeval 
strain of "Jerusalem the Golden" 





I. THE PROBLEM . . . . i 







FATE . . . . . .68 




XL BRUNO BAUER . . . . . 137 


XIII. RENAN . . . . . .180 










ESCHATOLOGY . . . . .328 

XX. RESULTS ...... 396 





WHEN, at some future day, our period of civilisation shall lie, closed 
and completed, before the eyes of later generations, German theology 
will stand out as a great, a unique phenomenon in the mental and 
spiritual life of our time. For nowhere save in the German 
temperament can there be found in the same perfection the living 
complex of conditions and factors of philosophic thought, 
critical acumen, historical insight, and religious feeling without 
which no deep theology is possible. 

And the greatest achievement of German theology is the critical 
investigation of the life of Jesus. What it has accomplished here 
has laid down the conditions and determined the course of the 
religious thinking of the future. 

In the history of doctrine its work has been negative ; it has, 
so to speak, cleared the site for a new edifice of religious thought. 
In describing how the ideas of Jesus were taken possession of by 
the Greek spirit, it was tracing the growth of that which must 
necessarily become strange to us, and, as a matter of fact, has 
become strange to us. 

Of its efforts to create a new dogmatic we scarcely need to 
have the history written ; it is alive within us. It is no doubt 
interesting to trace how modern thoughts have found their way 
into the ancient dogmatic system, there to combine with eternal 
ideas to form new constructions ; it is interesting to penetrate into 
the mind of the thinker in which this process is at work \ but the 
real truth of that which here meets us as history we experience 
within ourselves. As in the monad of Leibnitz the whole universe 
is reflected, so we intuitively experience within us, even apart from 
any clear historical knowledge, the successive stages of the progress 
of modern dogma, from rationalism to Ritschl. This experience is 
true knowledge, all the truer because we are conscious of the whole 


as something indefinite, a slow and difficult movement towards a 
goal which is still shrouded in obscurity. We have not yet arrived 
at any reconciliation between history and modern thought only 
between half-way history and half-way thought. What the ultimate 
goal towards which we are moving will be, what this something is 
which shall bring new life and new regulative principles to coming 
centuries, we do not know. We can only dimly divine that it will 
be the mighty deed of some mighty original genius, whose truth and 
Tightness will be proved by the fact that we, working at our poor 
half thing, will oppose him might and main we who imagine we 
long for nothing more eagerly than a genius powerful enough to 
open up with authority a new path for the world, seeing that we 
cannot succeed in moving it forward along the track which we 
have so laboriously prepared. 

For this reason the history of the critical study of the life of 
Jesus is of higher intrinsic value than the history of the study of 
ancient dogma or of the attempts to create a new one. It has to 
describe the most tremendous thing which the religious conscious- 
ness has ever dared and done. In the study of the history of 
dogma German theology settled its account with the past ; in its 
attempt to create a new dogmatic, it was endeavouring to keep a 
place for the religious life in the thought of the present ; in 
the study of the life of Jesus it was working for the future in 
pure faith in the truth, not seeing whereunto it wrought. 

Moreover, we are here dealing with the most vital thing in the 
world's history. There came a Man to rule over the world ; He 
ruled it for good and for ill, as history testifies ; He destroyed the 
world into which He was born ; the spiritual life of our own time 
seems like to perish at His hands, for He leads to battle against 
our thought a host of dead ideas, a ghostly army upon which death 
has no power, and Himself destroys again the truth and goodness 
which His Spirit creates in us, so that it cannot rule the world. 
That He continues, notwithstanding, to reign as the alone Great 
and alone True in a world of which He denied the continuance, is 
the prime example of that antithesis between spiritual and natural 
truth which underlies all life and all events, and in Him emerges 
into the field of history. 

It is only at first sight that the absolute indifference of early 
Christianity towards the life of the historical Jesus is disconcerting. 
When Paul, representing those who recognise the signs of the 
times, did not desire to know Christ after the flesh, that was 
the first expression of the impulse of self-preservation by which 
Christianity continued to be guided for centuries. It felt that 
with the introduction of the historic Jesus into its faith, there 
would arise something new, something which had not been foreseen 
in the thoughts of the Master Himself, and that thereby a con- 


tradiction would be brought to light, the solution of which would 
constitute one of the great problems of the world. 

Primitive Christianity was therefore right to live wholly in the ] 
future with the Christ who was to come, and to preserve of the 
historic Jesus only detached sayings, a few miracles, His death and 
resurrection. By abolishing both the world and the historical 
Jesus it escaped the inner division described above, and remained 
consistent in its point of view. We, on our part, have reason to 
be grateful to the early Christians that, in consequence of this 
attitude they have handed down to us, not biographies of Jesus but 
only Gospels, and that therefore we possess the Idea and the 
Person with the minimum of historical and contemporary 

But the world continued to exist, and its continuance brought 
this one-sided view to an end. The supra-mundane Christ and 
the historical Jesus of Nazareth had to be brought together into 
a single personality at once historical and raised above time. 
That .was accomplished by Gnosticism and the Logos Christology. 
Both, from opposite standpoints, because they were seeking the 
same goal, agreed in sublimating the historical Jesus into the 
supra -mundane Idea. The result of this development, which 
followed on the discrediting of eschatology, was that the historical 
Jesus was again introduced into the field of view of Christianity, 
but in such a way that all justification for, and interest in, the 
investigation of His life and historical personality were done 
away with. 

Greek theology was as indifferent in regard to the historical 
Jesus who lives concealed in the Gospels as was the early eschato- 
logical theology. More than that, it was dangerous to Him ; for it 
created a new supernatural-historical Gospel, and we may consider 
it fortunate that the Synoptics were already so firmly established 
that the Fourth Gospel could not oust them ; instead, the Church, 
as though from the inner necessity of the antitheses which now 
began to be a constructive element in her thought, was obliged 
to set up two antithetic Gospels alongside of one another. 

When at Chalcedon the West overcame the East, its doctrine 
of the two natures dissolved the unity of the Person, and thereby 
cut off the last possibility of a return to the historical Jesus. The 
self-contradiction was elevated into a law. But the Manhood was 
so far admitted as to preserve, in appearance, the rights of history. 
Thus by a deception the formula kept the Life prisoner and 
prevented the leading spirits of the Reformation from grasping the 
idea of a return to the historical Jesus. 

This dogma had first to be shattered before men could once more 
go out in quest of the historical Jesus, before they could even grasp 
the thought of His existence. That the historic Jesus is something 


different from the Jesus Christ of the doctrine of the Two Natures 
seems to us now self-evident. We can, at the present day, scarcely 
imagine the long agony in which the historical view of the life of 
Jesus came to birth. And even when He was once more recalled 
to life, He was still, like Lazarus of old, bound hand and foot with 
grave-clothes the grave-clothes of the dogma of the Dual Nature. 
Hase relates, in the preface to his first Life of Jesus (1829), that a 
worthy old gentleman, hearing of his project, advised him to treat 
in the first part of the human, in the second of the divine Nature. 
There was a fine simplicity about that. But does not the simplicity 
cover a presentiment of the revolution of thought for which the 
historical method of study was preparing the way a presentiment 
which those who were engaged in the work did not share in the 
same measure ? It was fortunate that they did not ; for otherwise 
how could they have had the courage to go on ? 

The historical investigation of the life of Jesus did not take its 
rise from a purely historical interest ; it turned to the Jesus of 
history as an ally in the struggle against the tyranny of dogma. 
Afterwards when it was freed from this -n-aOos it sought to present 
the historic Jesus in a form intelligible to its own time. For Bahrdt 
and Venturini He was the tool of a secret order. They wrote 
under the impression of the immense influence exercised by the 
Order of the Illuminati 1 at the end of the eighteenth century. For 
Reinhard, Hess, Paulus, and the rest of the rationalistic writers He 
is the admirable revealer of true virtue, which is coincident with 
right reason. Thus each successive epoch of theology found its 
own thoughts in Jesus ; that was, indeed, the only way in which it 
could make Him live. 

But it was not only each epoch that found its reflection in Jesus ; 
each individual created Him in accordance with his own character. 
There is no historical task which so reveals a man's true self as the 
writing of a Life of Jesus. No vital force comes into the figure 
unless a man breathes into it all the hate or all the love of which 
he is capable. The stronger the love, or the stronger the hate, the 
more life-like is the figure which is produced. For hate as well as 
love can write a Life of Jesus, and the greatest of them are written 
with hate : that of Reimarus, the Wolfenbiittel Fragmentist, and 
that of David Friedrich Strauss. It was not so much hate of the 
Person of Jesus as of the supernatural nimbus with which it was 
so easy to surround Him, and with which He had in fact been 
surrounded. They were eager to picture Him as truly and purely 
human, to strip from Him the robes of splendour with which He 

1 An order founded in 1776 by Professor Adam Weishaupt of Ingolstadt in 
Bavaria. Its aim was the furtherance of rational religion as opposed to orthodox 
dogma ; its organisation was largely modelled on that of the Jesuits. At its most 
flourishing period it numbered over 2000 members, including the rulers of several 
German States. TRANSLATOR. 


had been apparelled, and clothe Him once more with the coarse 
garments in which He had walked in Galilee. 

And their hate sharpened their historical insight. They 
advanced the study of the subject more than all the others put 
together. But for the offence which they gave, the science of 
historical theology would not have stood where it does to-day. " It 
must needs be that offences come ; but woe to that man by whom 
the offence cometh." Reimarus evaded that woe by keeping the 
offence to himself and preserving silence during his lifetime his 
work, "The Aims of Jesus and His Disciples," was only published 
after his death, by Lessing. But in the case of Strauss, who, as a 
young man of twenty-seven, cast the offence openly in the face of 
the world, the woe fulfilled itself. His " Life of Jesus " was his 
ruin. But he did not cease to be proud of it in spite of all the 
misfortune that it brought him. "I might well bear a grudge 
against my book," he writes twenty-five years later in the preface to 
the "Conversations of Ulrich von Hutten," 1 "for it has done me 
much evil ('And rightly so!' the pious will exclaim). It has 
excluded me from public teaching in which I took pleasure and for 
which I had perhaps some talent ; it has torn me from natural 
relationships and driven me into unnatural ones ; it has made my 
life a lonely one. And yet when I consider what it would have 
meant if I had refused to utter the word which lay upon my soul, it 
I had suppressed the doubts which were at work in my mind then 
I bless the book which has doubtless done me grievous harm 
outwardly, but which preserved the inward health of my mind and 
heart, and, I doubt riot, has done the same for many others also." 

Before him, Bahrdt had his career broken in consequence of 
revealing his beliefs concerning the Life of Jesus ; and after him, 
Bruno Bauer. 

It was easy for them, resolved as they were to open the way 
even with seeming blasphemy. But the others, those who tried 
to bring Jesus to life at the call of love, found it a cruel task to 
be honest. The critical study of the life of Jesus has been for 
theology a school of honesty. The world had never seen before, 
and will never see again, a struggle for truth so full of pain and 
renunciation as that of which the Lives of Jesus of the last hundred 
years contain the cryptic record. One must read the successive 
Lives of Jesus with which Hase followed the course of the study 
from the 'twenties to the 'seventies of the nineteenth century to get 
an inkling of what it must have cost the men who lived through 
that decisive period really to maintain that "courageous freedom 
of investigation " which the great Jena professor, in the preface to 
his first Life of Jesus, claims for his researches. One sees in him 
the marks of the struggle with which he gives up, bit by bit, things 

1 D. Fr. Strauss, Gesprache von Ulrich -von Hutten. Leipzig, 1860. 


which, when he wrote that preface, he never dreamed he would 
have to surrender. It was fortunate for these men that theii 
sympathies sometimes obscured their critical vision, so that, without 
becoming insincere, they were able to take white clouds for distanl 
mountains. That was the kindly fate of Hase and Beyschlag. 

The personal character of the study is not only due, however, 
to the fact that a personality can only be awakened "to life by the 
touch of a personality ; it lies in the essential nature of the problerr 
itself. For the problem of the life of Jesus has no analogue in the 
field of history. No historical school has ever laid down canons 
for the investigation of this problem, no professional historian has 
ever lent his aid to theology in dealing with it/ Every ordinar) 
method of historical investigation proves inadequate to the com 
plexity of the conditions. The standards of ordinary historica 
science are here inadequate, its methods not immediately applicable, 
The historical study of the life of Jesus has had to create its own 
methods for itself. In the constant succession of unsuccessful 
attempts, five or six problems have emerged side by side which 
together constitute the fundamental problem. There is, however, 
no direct method of solving the problem in its complexity ; all that 
can be done is to experiment continuously, starting from definite 
assumptions ; and in this experimentation the guiding principle 
must ultimately rest upon historical intuition. 

The cause of this lies in the nature of the sources of the life 
of Jesus, and in the character of our knowledge of the contemporar) 
religious world of thought. It is not that the sources are in them 
selves bad. When we have once made up our minds that we have 
not the materials for a complete Life of Jesus, but only for a pic 
ture of His public ministry, it must be admitted that there are feu 
characters of antiquity about whom we possess so much indubitabl) 
historical information, of whom we have so many authentic dis 
courses. The position is much more favourable, for instance, than 
in the case of Socrates ; for he is pictured to us by literary men whc 
exercised their creative ability upon the portrait. Jesus stands 
much more immediately before us, because He was depicted b) 
simple Christians without literary gift. 

But at this point there arises a twofold difficulty. There is 
first the fact that what has just been said applies only to the firsi 
three Gospels, while the fourth, as regards its character, historica! 
data, and discourse material, forms a world of its own. It is written 
from the Greek standpoint, while the first three are written from the 
Jewish. And even if one could get over this, and regard, as has 
often been done, the Synoptics and the Fourth Gospel as standing 
in something of the same relation to one another as Xenophor 
does to Plato as sources for the life of Socrates, yet the complete 
irreconcilability of the historical data would compel the critica 


investigator to decide from the first in favour of one source or the 
other. Once more it is found true that " No man can serve two 
masters." This stringent dilemma was not recognised from the 
beginning ; its emergence is one of the results of the whole course 
of experiment. 

The second difficulty regarding the sources is the want of any 
thread of connexion in the material which they offer us. While 
the Synoptics are only collections of anecdotes (in the best, historical 
sense of the word), the Gospel of John as stands on record in its 
closing words only professes to give a selection of the events and 

From these materials we can only get a Life of Jesus with 
yawning gaps. How are these gaps to be filled ? At the worst 
with phrases, at the best with historical imagination. There is 
really no other means of arriving at the order and inner connexion 
of the facts of the life of Jesus than the making and testing of 
hypotheses. If the tradition preserved by the Synoptists really 
includes all that happened during the time that Jesus was with His 
disciples, the attempt to discover the connexion must succeed sooner 
or later. It becomes more and more clear that this presupposition 
is indispensable to the investigation. If it is merely a fortuitous 
series of episodes that the Evangelists have handed down to us, we 
may give up the attempt to arrive at a critical reconstruction of the 
life of Jesus as hopeless. 

But it is not only the events which lack historical connexion, we 
are without any indication of a thread of connexion in the actions 
and discourses of Jesus, because the sources give no hint of the 
character of His self-consciousness. They confine themselves to 
outward facts. We only begin to understand these historically 
when we can mentally place them in an intelligible connexion and 
conceive them as the acts of a clearly defined personality. All 
that we know of the development of Jesus and of His Messianic 
self-consciousness has been arrived at by a series of working hypo- 
theses. Our conclusions can only be considered valid so long as 
they are not found incompatible with the recorded facts as a whole. 
It may be maintained by the aid of arguments drawn from the 
sources that the self-consciousness of Jesus underwent a develop- 
ment during the course of His public ministry ; it may, with equally 
good grounds, be denied. For in both cases the arguments are 
based upon little details in the narrative in regard to which we do 
not know whether they are purely accidental, or whether they 
belong to the essence of the facts. In each case, moreover, the 
experimental working out of the hypothesis leads to a conclusion 
which compels the rejection of some of the actual data of the 
sources. Each view equally involves a violent treatment of the text. 

Furthermore, the sources exhibit, each within itself, a striking 


contradiction. They assert that Jesus felt Himself to be the 
Messiah ; and yet from their presentation of His life it does not 
appear that He ever publicly claimed to be so. They attribute to 
Him, that is, an attitude which has absolutely no connexion with 
the consciousness which they assume that He possessed. But once 
admit that the outward acts are not the natural expression of the 
self-consciousness and all exact historical knowledge is at an end ; 
we have to do with an isolated fact which is not referable to 
any law. 

This being so, the only way of arriving at a conclusion of any 
value is to experiment, to test, by working them out, the two 
hypotheses that Jesus felt Himself to be the Messiah, as the 
sources assert, or that He did not feel Himself to be so, as His 
conduct implies ; or else to try to conjecture what kind of Messianic 
consciousness His must have been, if it left His conduct and His 
discourses unaffected. For one thing is certain : the whole account 
of the last days at Jerusalem would be unintelligible, if we had to 
suppose that the mass of the people had a shadow of a suspicion 
that Jesus held Himself to be the Messiah. 

Again, whereas in general a personality is to some extent defined 
by the world of thought which it shares with its contemporaries, in 
the case of Jesus this source of information is as unsatisfactory as 
the documents. 

What was the nature of the contemporary Jewish world of 
thought ? To that question no clear answer can be given. We do 
not know whether the expectation of the Messiah was generally 
current or whether it was the faith of a mere sect. With the 
Mosaic religion as such it had nothing to do. There was no 
organic connexion between the religion of legal observance and the 
future hope. Further, if the eschatological hope was generally 
current, was it the prophetic or the apocalyptic form of that hope ? 
We know the Messianic expectations of the prophets ; we know the 
apocalyptic picture as drawn by Daniel, and, following him, by 
Enoch and the Psalms of Solomon before the coming of Jesus, and 
by the Apocalypses of Ezra and Baruch about the time of the 
destruction of Jerusalem. But we do not know which was the 
popular form ; nor, supposing that both were combined into one 
picture, what this picture really looked like. We know only the 
form of eschatology which meets us in the Gospels and in the 
Pauline epistles; that is to say, the form which it took in the 
Christian community in consequence of the coming of Jesus. 
And to combine these three the prophetic, the Late-Jewish 
apocalyptic, and the Christian has not proved possible. 

Even supposing we could obtain more exact information regard- 
ing the popular Messianic expectations at the time of Jesus, we 
should still not know what form they assumed in the self-conscious- 


ness of One who knew Himself to be the Messiah but held that the 
time was not yet come for Him to reveal Himself as such. We 
only know their aspect from without, as a waiting for the Messiah 
and the Messianic Age; we have no clue to their aspect from 
within as factors in the Messianic self-consciousness. We possess 
no psychology of the Messiah. The Evangelists have nothing to 
tell us about it, because Jesus told them nothing about it ; the 
sources for the contemporary spiritual life inform us only concerning 
the eschatological expectation. For the form of the Messianic self- 
consciousness of Jesus we have to fall back upon conjecture. 

Such is the character of the problem, and, as a consequence, 
historical experiment must here take the place of historical research. 
That being so, it is easy to understand that to take a survey of the 
study of the life of Jesus is to be confronted, at first sight, with 
a scene of the most boundless confusion. A series of experiments 
are repeated with constantly varying modifications suggested by 
the results furnished by the subsidiary sciences. Most of the 
writers, however, have no suspicion that they are merely repeating 
an experiment which has often been made before. Some of them 
discover this in the course of their work to their own great astonish- 
ment it is so, for instance, with Wrede, who recognises that he 
is working out, though doubtless with a clearer consciousness of 
his aim, an idea of Bruno Bauer's. 1 If old Reimarus were to come 
back again, he might confidently give himself out to be the latest 
of the moderns, for his work Crests upon a recognition of the ex- 
clusive importance of eschatology, such as only recurs again in 
Johannes Weiss. 

Progress, too, is curiously fitful, with long intervals of marking 
time between the advances. From Strauss down to the 'nineties 
there was no real progress, if one takes into consideration only the 
complete Lives of Jesus which appeared. But a number of separate 
problems took a more clearly defined form, so that in the end the 
general problem suddenly moved forward, as it seemed, with a jerk. 

There is really no common standard by which to judge the 
works with which we have to do. It is not the most orderly 
narratives, those which weave in conscientiously every detail of the 
text, which have advanced the study of the subject, but precisely 
the eccentric ones, those that take the greatest liberties with the 
text. It is not by the mass of facts that a writer sets down along- 
side of one another as possible because he writes easily and 
there is no one there to contradict him, and because facts on 
paper do not come into collision so sharply as they do in reality 
it is not in that way that he shows his power of reconstructing 
history, but by that which he recognises as impossible. The con- 

1 W. Wrede, Das Messiasgeheimnis in den Evangelien. (The Messianic Secret in 
the Gospels. ) Gottingen, 1901, pp. 280-282 


structions of Reimarus and Bruno Bauer have no solidity ; they 
are mere products of the imagination. But there is much more 
historical power in their clear grasp of a single definite problem, 
which has blinded them to all else, than there is in the circum- 
stantial works of Beyschlag and Bernard Weiss. 

But once one has accustomed oneself to look for certain de- 
finite landmarks amid this apparent welter of confusion one begins 
at last to discover in vague outline the course followed, and the 
progress made, by the critical study of the life of Jesus. 

It falls, immediately, into two periods, that before Strauss and 
that after Strauss. The dominant interest in the first is the 
question of miracle. What terms are possible between a historical 
treatment and the acceptance of supernatural events? With the 
advent of Strauss this problem found a solution, viz., that these 
events have no rightful place in the history, but are simply mythical 
elements in the sources. The way was thus thrown open. Mean- 
while, alongside of the problem of the supernatural, other problems 
had been dimly apprehended. Reimarus had drawn attention to 
the contemporary eschatological views; Hase, in his first Life of 
Jesus (1829), had sought to trace a development in the self- 
consciousness of Jesus. 

But on this point a clear view was impossible, because all the 
students of the subject were still basing their operations upon the 
harmony of the Synoptics and the Fourth Gospel; which means 
that they had not so far felt the need of a historically intelligible 
outline of the life of Jesus. Here, too, Strauss was the light- 
bringer. But the transient illumination was destined to be 
obscured by the Marcan hypothesis, 1 which now came to the 
front. The necessity of choosing between John and the Synoptists 
was first fully established by the Tubingen school ; and the right 
relation of this question to the Marcan hypothesis was subsequently 
shown by Holtzmann. 

While these discussions of the preliminary literary questions 
were in progress the main historical problem of the life of Jesus 
was slowly rising into view. The question began to be mooted : 
what was the significance of eschatology for the mind of Jesus ? 
With this problem was associated, in virtue of an inner connexion 
which was not at first suspected, the problem of the self-conscious- 
ness of Jesus. At the beginning of the 'nineties it was generally 
felt that, in the solution given to this dual problem, an in some 
measure assured knowledge of the outward and inward course of 
the life of Jesus had been reached. At this point Johannes 
Weiss revived the comprehensive claim of Reimarus on behalf of 

1 In the author's usage " the Marcan hypothesis " means the theory that the Gospel 
of Mark is not only the earliest and most valuable source for the facts, but differs 
from the other Gospels in embodying a more or less clear and historically intelligible 
view of the connexion of events. See Chaps. X. and XIV. below. TRANSLATOR. 


eschatology; and scarcely had criticism adjusted its attitude to 
this question when Wrede renewed the attempt of Bauer and 
Volkmar to eliminate altogether the Messianic element from the 
life of Jesus. 

We are now once more in the midst of a period of great 
activity in the study of the subject. On the one side we are 
offered a historical solution, on the other a literary. The question 
at issue is : Is it possible to explain the contradiction between the 
Messianic consciousness of Jesus and His non-Messianic discourses 
and actions by means of a conception of His Messianic conscious- 
ness which will make it appear that He could not have acted 
otherwise than as the Evangelists describe ; or must we endeavour to 
explain the contradiction by taking the non-Messianic discourses and 
actions as our fixed point, denying the reality of His Messianic self- 
consciousness and regarding it as a later interpolation of the beliefs 
of the Christian community into the life of Jesus ? In the latter 
case the Evangelists are supposed to have attributed these Messianic 
claims to Jesus because the early Church held Him to be the 
Messiah, but to have contradicted themselves by describing His 
life as it actually was, viz., as the life of a prophet, not of one who 
held Himself to be the Messiah. To put it briefly: Does the 
difficulty of explaining the historical personality of Jesus lie in the 
history itself, or only in the way in which it is represented in the 
sources ? 

This alternative will be discussed in all the critical studies of 
the next few years. Once clearly posed it compels a decision. 
But no one can really understand the problem who has not a clear 
notion of the way in which it has shaped itself in the course of the 
investigation ; no one can justly criticise, or appraise the value of, 
new contributions to the study of this subject unless he knows in 
what forms they have been presented before. 

The history of the study of the life of Jesus has hitherto 
received surprisingly little attention. Hase, in his Life of Jesus of 
1829, briefly records the previous attempts to deal with the subject. 
Friedrich von Ammon, himself one of the most distinguished 
students in this department, in his " Progress of Christianity," 1 gives 
some information regarding " the most notable biographies of Jesus 
of the last fifty years." In the year 1865 Uhlhorn treated together 
the Lives of Jesus of Renan, Schenkel, and Strauss; in 1876 Hase, 
in his " History of Jesus," gave the only complete literary history of 
the subject; 2 in 1892 Uhlhorn extended his former lecture to 
include the works of Keim, Delff, Beyschlag, and Weiss; 3 in 1898 

1 Dr. Christoph Friedrich von Ammon, Fortbildung des Christentums, Leipzig, 
1840, vol. iv. p. 156 ff. 

2 Hase, Geschichte Jesu, Leipzig, 1876, pp. 110-162. The second edition, 
published in 1891, carries the survey no further than the first. 

3 Das Leben Jesu in seinen neueren Darstellungen , 1892, five lectures. 


Frantzen described, in a short essay, the progress of the study since 
Strauss; 1 in 1899 and 1900 Baldensperger gave, in the Theologische 
Rundschau, a survey of the most recent publications; 2 Weinel's 
book, "Jesus in the Nineteenth Century," naturally only gives an 
analysis of a few classical works ; Otto SchmiedePs lecture on the 
" Main Problems of the Critical Study of the Life of Jesus " (1902) 
merely sketches the history of the subject in broad outline. 3 

Apart from scattered notices in histories of theology this is 
practically all the literature of the subject. There is room for an 
attempt to bring order into the chaos of the Lives of Jesus. Hase 
made ingenious comparisons between them, but he was unable to 
group them according to inner principles, or to judge them 
justly. Weisse is for him a feebler descendant of Strauss, Bruno 
Bauer is the victim of a fantastic imagination. It would indeed 
have been difficult for Hase to discover in the works of his time 
any principle of division. But now, when the literary and eschato- 
logical methods of solution have led to complementary results, when 
the post-Straussian period of investigation seems to have reached a 
provisional close, and the goal to which it has been tending has 
become clear, the time seems ripe for the attempt to trace 
genetically in the successive works the shaping of the problem as 
it now confronts us, and to give a systematic historical account 
of the critical study of the life of Jesus. Our endeavour will be 
to furnish a graphic description of all the attempts to deal with 
the subject ; and not to dismiss them with stock phrases or 
traditional labels, but to show clearly what they really did to 
advance the formulation of the problem, whether their con- 
temporaries recognised it or not. In accordance with this 
principle many famous Lives of Jesus which have prolonged an 
honoured existence through many successive editions, will make 
but a poor figure, while others, which have received scant notice, 
will appear great. Behind Success comes Truth, and her reward is 
with her. 

1 W. Frantzen, Die " Leben-Jesu " Bewegung seit Strauss, Dorpat, 1898. 

2 Theol. Rundschau, ii. 59-67 (1899) ; iii. 9-19 (1900). 

3 Von Soden's study, Die wichtigsten Fragen im Leben Jesu, 1904, belongs here 
only in a very limited sense, since it does not seek to show how the problems have 
gradually emerged in the various Lives of Jesus. 



" Von dem Zwecke Jesu und seiner Jiinger." Noch ein Fragment des Wolfenbiittel- 
schen Ungenannten. Herausgegeben von Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Braun- 
schweig, 1778, 276 pp. (The Aims of Jesus and His Disciples. A further 
Instalment of the anonymous Wolfenbiittel Fragments. Published by Gotthold 
Ephraim Lessing. Brunswick, 1778.) 

Johann Salomo Semler. Beantwortung der Fragmente eines Ungenannten ins- 
besondere vom Zwecke Jesu und seiner Jiinger. (Reply to the anonymous 
Fragments, especially to that entitled " The Aims of Jesus and His Disciples.") 
Halle, 1779, 432 pp. 

BEFORE Reimarus, no one had attempted to form a historical 
conception of the life of Jesus. Luther had not so much as felt 
that he cared to gain a clear idea of the order of the recorded 
events. Speaking of the chronology of the cleansing of the 
Temple, which in John falls at the beginning, in the Synoptists 
near the close, of Jesus' public life, he remarks : " The Gospels follow 
no order in recording the acts and miracles of Jesus, and the 
matter is no't, after all, of much importance. If a difficulty arises 
in regard to the Holy Scripture and we cannot solve it, we must 
just let it alone." When the Lutheran theologians began to 
consider the question of harmonising the events, things were still 
worse. Osiander (14981552), in his "Harmony of the Gospels," 
maintained the principle that if an event is recorded more than 
once in the Gospels, in different connexions, it happened more 
than once and in different connexions. The daughter of Jairus was 
therefore raised from the dead several times ; on one occasion Jesus 
allowed the devils whom He cast out of a single demoniac to enter 
into a herd of swine, on another occasion, those whom He cast 
out of two demoniacs ; there were two cleansings of the Temple, 
and so forth. 1 The correct view of the Synoptic Gospels as being 
interdependent was first formulated by Griesbach. 

The only Life of Jesus written prior to the time of Reimarus 
which has any interest for us, was composed by a Jesuit in the 

1 Hase, Geschichte Jesu, 1876, pp. 112, 113. 


Persian language. The author was the Indian missionary 
Hieronymus Xavier, nephew of Francis Xavier, and it was designed 
for the use of Akbar, the Moghul Emperor, who, in the latter part 
of the sixteenth century, had become the most powerful potentate 
in Hindustan. In the seventeenth century the Persian text was 
brought to Europe by a merchant, and was translated into Latin by 
Louis de Dieu, a theologian of the Reformed Church, whose 
intention in publishing it was to discredit Catholicism. 1 It is a 
skilful falsification of the life of Jesus in which the omissions, and 
the additions taken from the Apocrypha, are inspired by the sole 
purpose of presenting to the open-minded ruler a glorious Jesus, 
in whom there should be nothing to offend him. 

Thus there had been nothing to prepare the world for a work 
of such power as that of Reimarus. It is true, there had appeared 
earlier, in 1768, a Life of Jesus by Johann Jakob Hess 2 (1741- 
1828), written from the standpoint of the older rationalism, but it 
retains so much supernaturalism and follows so much the lines of 
a paraphrase of the Gospels, that there was nothing to indicate to 
the world what a master-stroke the spirit of the time was preparing. 

Not much is known about Reimarus. For his contemporaries 
he had no existence, and it was Strauss who first made his name 
known in literature. 3 He was born in Hamburg on the 22nd of 
December, 1694, and spent his life there as a professor of Oriental 
Languages. He died in 1768. Several of his writings appeared 
during his lifetime, all of them asserting the claims of rational 
religion as against the faith of the Church ; one of them, for 
example, being an essay on " The Leading Truths of Natural 
Religion." His magnum opus, however, which laid the historic 
basis of his attacks, was only circulated, during his lifetime, among 
his acquaintances, as an anonymous manuscript. In 1774 Lessing 
began to publish the most important portions of it, and up to 
1778 had published seven fragments, thereby involving himself in 
a quarrel with Goetze, the Chief Pastor of Hamburg. The manu- 
script of the whole, which runs to 4000 pages, is preserved in 
the Hamburg municipal library. 

The following are the titles of Fragments which he published : 

The Toleration of the Deists. 

The Decrying of Reason in the Pulpit. 

The impossibility of a Revelation which all men should have 
good grounds for believing. 

1 Historic. Christi persice conscripta simulque multis modis contaminata a 
Hieronymo Xavier. lat. reddita et animadd, notata a Ludovico de Dieu. Lugd. 

2 Johann Jakob Hess, Geschichte der drei letzten Lebensjahre Jesu. (History of 
the Last Three Years of the Life of Jesus. ) 3 vols. 1768 ff. 

3 D. F. Strauss, Hermann Samuel Reimarus und seine Schutzschrift fur die 
vernunftigen Verehrer Gottes. (Reimarus and his Apology for the Rational 
Worshippers of God.) 1862. 


The Passing of the Israelites through the Red Sea. 

Showing that the books of the Old Testament were not written 
to reveal a Religion. 

Concerning the story of the Resurrection. 

The Aims of Jesus and His disciples. 

The monograph on the passing of the Israelites through the 
Red Sea is one of the ablest, wittiest, and most acute which has 
ever been written. It exposes all the impossibilities of the narrative 
in the Priestly Codex, and all the inconsistencies which arise from 
the combination of various sources; although Reimarus has not the 
slightest inkling that the separation of these sources would afford 
the real solution of the problem. 

To say that the fragment on "The Aims of Jesus and His 
Disciples " is a magnificent piece of work is barely to do it justice. 
This essay is not only one of the greatest events in the history of 
criticism, it is also a masterpiece of general literature. The 
language is as a rule crisp and terse, pointed and epigrammatic 
the language of a man who is not " engaged in literary composition " 
but is wholly concerned with the facts. At times, however, it rises 
to heights of passionate feeling, and then it is as though the fires 
of a volcano were painting lurid pictures upon dark clouds. Seldom 
has there been a hate so eloquent, so lofty a scorn ; but then it is 
seldom that a work has been written in the just consciousness of so 
absolute a superiority to contemporary opinion. And withal, there 
is dignity and serious purpose ; Reimarus's work is no pamphlet. 

Lessing could not, of course, accept its standpoint. His idea 
of revelation, and his conception of the Person of Jesus, were 
much deeper than those of the Fragmentist. He was a thinker; 
Reimarus only a historian. But this was the first time that a 
really historical mind, thoroughly conversant with the sources, had 
undertaken the criticism of the tradition. It was Lessing's greatness 
that he grasped the significance of this criticism, and felt that it 
must lead either to the destruction or to the re-casting of the idea 
of revelation. He recognised that the introduction of the historical 
element would transform and deepen rationalism. Convinced that 
the fateful moment had arrived, he disregarded the scruples of 
Reimarus's family and the objections of Nicolai and Mendelssohn, 
and, though inwardly trembling for that which he himself held 
sacred, he flung the torch with his own hand. 

Semler, at the close of his refutation of the fragment, ridicules 
its editor in the following apologue. " A prisoner was once 
brought before the Lord Mayor of London on a charge of arson. 
He had been seen coming down from the upper story of the 
burning house. ' Yesterday,' so ran his defence, ' about four 
o'clock I went into my neighbour's store-room and saw there a 
burning candle which the servants had carelessly forgotten. In 


the course of the night it would have burned down, and set 
fire to the stairs. To make sure that the fire should break out 
in the day-time, I threw some straw upon it. The flames burst 
out at the sky-light, the fire-engines came hurrying up, and the 
fire, which in the night might have been dangerous, was promptly 
extinguished.' ' Why did you not yourself pick up the candle and 
put it out ? ' asked the Lord Mayor. * If I had put out the candle 
the servants would not have learned to be more careful ; now that 
there has been such a fuss about it, they will not be so careless 
in future.' 'Odd, very odd,' said the Lord Mayor, 'he is not a 
criminal, only a little weak in the head.' So he had him shut 
up in the mad-house, and there he lies to this day." 

The story is extraordinarily apposite only that Lessing was 
not mad; he knew quite well what he was doing. His object 
was to show how an unseen enemy had pushed his parallels up 
to the very walls, and to summon to the defence " some one who 
should be as nearly the ideal defender of religion as the Fragmentist 
was the ideal assailant." Once, with prophetic insight into the 
future, he says : " The Christian traditions must be explained by 
the inner truth of Christianity, and no written traditions can give 
it that inner truth, if it does not itself possess it." 

Reimarus takes as his starting-point the question regarding 
the content of the preaching of Jesus. "We are justified," he says, 
"in drawing an absolute distinction between the teaching of the 
Apostles in their writings and what Jesus Himself in His own 
lifetime proclaimed and taught." What belongs to the preaching 
of Jesus is clearly to be recognised. It is contained in two phrases 
of identical meaning, "Repent, and believe the Gospel," or, as it 
is put elsewhere, " Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." 

The Kingdom of Heaven must however be understood "ac- 
cording to Jewish ways of thought." Neither Jesus nor the 
Baptist ever explain this expression ; therefore they must have 
been content to have it understood in its known and customary 
sense. That means that Jesus took His stand within the Jewish 
religion, and accepted its Messianic expectations without in any way 
correcting them. If He gives a new development to this religion 
it is only in so far that He proclaims as near at hand the realisation 
of ideals and hopes which were alive in thousands of hearts. 

There was thus no need for detailed instruction regarding the 
nature of the Kingdom of Heaven ; the catechism and confession 
of the Church at its commencement consisted of a single phrase. 
Belief was not difficult : " they need only believe the Gospel, 
namely that Jesus was about to bring in the Kingdom of God." 1 

1 The quotations inserted without special introduction are, of course, from 
Reimarus. It is Dr. Schweitzer's method to lead up by a paragraph of exposition 
to one of these characteristic phrases. TRANSLATOR. 


As there were many among the Jews who were already waiting 
for the Kingdom of God, it was no wonder that in a few days, nay 
in a few hours, some thousands believed, although they had been 
told only that Jesus was the promised prophet. 

This was the sum total of what the disciples knew about the 
Kingdom of God when they were sent out by their Master to 
proclaim its coming. Their hearers would naturally think of the 
customary meaning of the term and the hopes which attached 
themselves to it. " The purpose of sending out such propagandists 
could only be that the Jews who groaned under the Roman yoke 
and had long cherished the hope of deliverance should be stirred 
up all over Judaea and assemble themselves in their thousands." 

Jesus must have known, too, that if the people believed His 
messengers they would look about for an earthly deliverer and turn 
to Him for this purpose. The Gospel, therefore, meant nothing 
more or less to all who heard it than that, under the leadership of 
Jesus, the Kingdom of Messiah was about to be brought in. For 
them there was no difficulty in accepting the belief that He was 
the Messiah, the Son of God, for this belief did not involve 
anything metaphysical. The nation was the Son of God ; the 
kings of the covenant -people were Sons of God ; the Messiah 
was in a pre-eminent sense the Son of God. Thus even in His 
Messianic claims Jesus remained "within the limits of humanity." 

The fact that He did not need to explain to His contemporaries 
what He meant by the Kingdom of God constitutes a difficulty for 
us. The parables do not enlighten us, for they presuppose a 
knowledge of the conception. " If we could not gather from the 
writings of the Jews some further information as to what was under- 
stood at that time by the Messiah and the Kingdom of God, these 
points of primary importance would be very obscure and 
incomprehensible. " 

If, therefore, we desire to gain a historical understanding 
of Jesus' teaching, we must leave behind what we learned in 
our catechism regarding the metaphysical Divine Sonship, the 
Trinity, and similar dogmatic conceptions, and go out into a wholly 
Jewish world of thought. Only those who carry the teachings of 
the catechism back into the preaching of the Jewish Messiah will 
arrive at the idea that He was the founder of a new religion. To 
all unprejudiced persons it is manifest "that Jesus had not the 
slightest intention of doing away with the Jewish religion and 
putting another in its place." 

From Matt. v. 18 it is evident that Jesus did not break with 
the Law, but took His stand upon it unreservedly. If there was 
anything at all new in His preaching, it was the righteousness which 
was requisite for the Kingdom of God. The righteousness of the 
Law will no longer suffice in the time of the coming Kingdom ; a 


new and deeper morality must come into being. This demand is 
the only point in which the preaching of Jesus went beyond the 
ideas of His contemporaries. But this new morality does not do 
away with the law, for He explains it as a fulfilment of the old 
commandments. His followers, no doubt, broke with the Law 
later on. They did so, however, not in pursuance of a command of 
Jesus, but under the pressure of circumstances, at the time when 
they were forced out of Judaism and obliged to found a new 

Jesus shared the Jewish racial exclusiveness wholly and unre- 
servedly. According to Matt. x. 5 He forbade His disciples to 
declare to the Gentiles the coming of the Kingdom of God. 
Evidently, therefore, His purpose did not embrace them. Had it 
been otherwise, the hesitation of Peter in Acts x. and xi., and the 
necessity of justifying the conversion of Cornelius, would be 

Baptism and the Lord's Supper are no evidence that Jesus in- 
tended to found a new religion. In the first place the genuineness 
of the command to baptize in Matt, xxviii. 19 is questionable, 
not only as a saying ascribed to the risen Jesus, but also because it 
is universalistic in outlook, and because it implies the doctrine of 
the Trinity and, consequently, the metaphysical Divine Sonship of 
Jesus. In this it is inconsistent with the earliest traditions regard- 
ing the practice of baptism in the Christian community, for in the 
earliest times, as we learn from the Acts and from Paul, it was the 
custom to baptize, not in the name of the Trinity, but in the name 
of Jesus, the Messiah. 

But, furthermore, it is questionable whether Baptism really goes 
back to Jesus at all. He Himself baptized no one in His own 
lifetime, and never commanded any of His converts to be baptized. 
So we cannot be sure about the origin of Baptism, though we can 
be sure of its meaning. Baptism in the name of Jesus signified 
only that Jesus was the Messiah. " For the only change which the 
teaching of Jesus made in their religion was that whereas they had 
formerly believed in a Deliverer of Israel who was to come in the 
future, they now believed in a Deliverer who was already present." 

The "Lord's Supper," again, was no new institution, but merely 
an episode at the last Paschal Meal of the Kingdom which was 
passing away, and was intended "as an anticipatory celebration of 
the Passover of the New Kingdom." A Lord's Supper in our sense, 
"cut loose from the Passover," would have been inconceivable to 
Jesus, and not less so to His disciples. 

It is useless to appeal to the miracles, any more than to the 
"Sacraments," as evidence for the founding of a new religion. In 
the first place, we have to remember what happens in the case of 
miracles handed down by tradition. That Jesus effected cures, 


which in the eyes of His contemporaries were miraculous, is not to 
be denied. Their purpose was to prove Him to be the Messiah. 
He forbade these miracles to be made known, even in cases where 
they could not possibly be kept hidden, " with the sole purpose of 
making people more eager to talk of them." Other miracles, 
however, have no basis in fact, but owe their place in the narrative 
to the feeling that the miracle-stories of the Old Testament must be 
repeated in the case of Jesus, but on a grander scale. He did 
no really miraculous works ; otherwise, the demands for a sign 
would be incomprehensible. In Jerusalem when all the people 
were looking eagerly for an overwhelming manifestation of His 
Messiahship, what a tremendous effect a miracle would have pro- 
duced ! If only a single miracle had been publicly, convincingly, 
undeniably, performed by Jesus before all the people on one of the 
great days of the Feast, such is human nature that all the people 
would at once have flocked to His standard. 

For this popular uprising, however, He waited in vain. Twice 
He believed that it was near at hand. The first time was when 
He was sending out the disciples and said to them : " Ye shall not 
have gone over the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes " 
(Matt. x. 23). He thought that, at the preaching of the disciples, 
the people would flock to Him from every quarter and immediately 
proclaim Him Messiah ; but His expectation was disappointed. 

The second time, He thought to bring about the decisive issue 
in Jerusalem. He made His entry riding on an ass's colt, that the 
Messianic prophecy of Zechariah might be fulfilled. And the 
people actually did cry " Hosanna to the Son of David ! " Re- 
lying on the support of His followers He might now, He thought, 
bid defiance to the authorities. In the temple He arrogates to 
Himself supreme power, and in glowing words calls for an open 
revolt against the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees, on the ground that 
they have shut the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven and forbidden 
others to go in. There is no doubt, now, that He will carry the 
people with Him ! Confident in the success of His cause, He closes 
the great incendiary harangue in Matt, xxiii. with the words 
" Truly from henceforth ye shall not see me again until ye shall 
say Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord " ; that is, 
until they should hail Him as Messiah. 

But the people in Jerusalem refused to rise, as the Galilaeans 
had refused at the time when the disciples were sent out to rouse 
them. The Council prepared for vigorous action. The voluntary 
concealment by which Jesus had thought to whet the eagerness of 
the people became involuntary. Before His arrest He was over- 
whelmed with dread, and on the cross He closed His life with the 
words " My God ! my God ! why hast Thou forsaken me ? " " This 
avowal cannot, without violence, be interpreted otherwise than as 


meaning that God had not aided Him in His aim and purpose as 
He had hoped. That shows that it had not been His purpose to 
suffer and die, but to establish an earthly kingdom and deliver the 
Jews from political oppression and in that God's help had failed 

For the disciples this turn of affairs meant the destruction of 
all the dreams for the sake of which they had followed Jesus. For 
if they had given up anything on His account, it was only in order 
to receive it again an hundredfold when they should openly take 
their places in the eyes of all the world as the friends and ministers 
of the Messiah, as the rulers of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus 
never disabused them of this sensuous hope, but, on the contrary, 
confirmed them in it. When He put an end to the quarrel about 
pre-eminence, and when He answered the request of the sons of 
Zebedee, He did not attack the assumption that there were to be 
thrones and power, but only addressed Himself to the question how 
men were in the present to establish their claims to that position 
of authority. 

All this implies that the time of the fulfilment of these hopes 
was not thought of by Jesus and His disciples as at all remote. In 
Matt. xvi. 28, for example, He says: "Truly I say unto you 
there are some standing here who shall not taste of death, till they 
see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." There is no 
justification for twisting this about or explaining it away. It simply 
means that Jesus promises the fulfilment of all Messianic hopes 
before the end of the existing generation. 

Thus the disciples were prepared for anything rather than that 
which actually happened. Jesus had never said a word to them 
about His dying and rising again, otherwise they would not have 
so played the coward at His death, nor have been so astonished 
at His " resurrection." The three or four sayings referring to these 
events must therefore have been put into His mouth later, in 
order to make it appear that He had foreseen these events in His 
original plan. 

How, then, did they get over this apparently annihilating blow ? 
By falling back upon the second form of the Jewish Messianic hope. 
Hitherto their thoughts, like those of their Master, had been domi- 
nated by the political ideal of the prophets the scion of David's 
line who should appear as the political deliverer of the nation. But 
alongside of that there existed another Messianic expectation which 
transferred everything to the supernatural sphere. Appearing first 
in Daniel, this expectation can still be traced in the Apocalypses, in 
Justin's " Dialogue with Trypho," and in certain Rabbinic sayings. 
According to these Reimarus makes use especially of the statements 
of Trypho the Messiah is to appear twice ; once in human lowli- 
ness, the second time upon the clouds of heaven. When the first 


systema^ as Reimarus calls it, was annihilated by the death of Jesus, 
the disciples brought forward the second, and gathered followers 
who shared their expectation of a second coming of Jesus the 
Messiah. In order to get rid of the difficulty of the death of 
Jesus, they gave it the significance of a spiritual redemption 
which had not previously entered their field of vision or that of 
Jesus Himself. 

But this spiritual interpretation of His death would not have 
helped them if they had not also invented the resurrection. 
Immediately after the death of Jesus, indeed, such an idea was far 
from their thoughts. They were in deadly fear and kept close 
within doors. "Soon, however, one and another ventures to slip 
out. They learn that no judicial search is being made for them." 
Then they consider what is to be done. They did not take kindly 
to the idea of returning to their old haunts ; on their journeyings 
the companions of the Messiah had forgotten how to work. They 
had seen that the preaching of the Kingdom of God will keep a 
man. Even when they had been sent out without wallet or money 
they had not lacked. The women who are mentioned in Luke 
viii. 2, 3, had made it their business to make good provision for 
the Messiah and His future ministers. 

Why not, then, continue this mode of life ? They would surely 
find a sufficient number of faithful souls who would join them in 
directing their hopes towards a second coming of the Messiah, and 
while awaiting the future glory, would share their possessions with 
them. So they stole the body of Jesus and hid it, and proclaimed 
to all the world that He would soon return. They prudently 
waited, however, for fifty days before making this announcement, in 
order that the body, if it should be found, might be unrecognisable. 

What was much in their favour was the complete disorganisation 
of the Jewish state. Had there been an efficient police administra- 
tion the disciples would not have been able to plan this fraud and 
organise their communistic fellowship. But, as it was, the new 
society was not even subjected to any annoyance in consequence 
of the remarkable death of a married couple who were buried from 
the apostles' house, and the brotherhood was even allowed to 
confiscate their property to its own uses. 

It appears, then, that the hope of the Parousia was the 
fundamental thing in primitive Christianity, which was a product of 
that hope much more than of the teaching of Jesus. Accordingly, 
the main problem of primitive dogmatics was the delay of the 
Parousia. Already in Paul's time the problem was pressing, and 
he had to set to work in 2 Thessalonians to discover all possible 
and impossible reasons why the Second Coming should be delayed. 
Reimarus mercilessly exposes the position of the apostle, who was 
obliged to fob people off somehow or other. The author of 2 Peter 


has a much clearer notion of what he would be at, and undertakes 
to restore the confidence of Christendom once for all with the 
sophism of the thousand years which are in the sight of God as 
one day, ignoring the fact that in the promise the reckoning was 
by man's years, not by God's. " Nevertheless it served the turn 
of the Apostles so well with those simple early Christians, that 
after the first believers had been bemused with it, and the period 
originally fixed had elapsed, the Christians of later generations, 
including Fathers of the Church, could continue ever after to feed 
themselves with empty hopes." The saying of Christ about the 
generation which should not die out before His return clearly 
fixes this event at no very distant date. But since Jesus has not 
yet appeared upon the clouds of heaven "these words must be 
strained into meaning, not that generation, but the Jewish people. 
Thus by exegetical art they are saved for ever, for the Jewish race 
will never die out." 

In general, however, " the theologians of the present day skim 
lightly over the eschatological material in the Gospels because it 
does not chime in with their views, and assign to the coming of 
Christ upon the clouds quite a different purpose from that which 
it bears in the teaching of Christ and His apostles." Inasmuch 
as the non-fulfilment of its eschatology is not admitted, our 
Christianity rests upon a fraud. In view of this fact, what is the 
evidential value of any miracle, even if it could be held to be 
authentic ? " No miracle would prove that two and two make five, 
or that a circle has four angles ; and no miracles, however numerous, 
could remove a contradiction which lies on the surface of the 
teachings and records of Christianity." Nor is there any weight in 
the appeal to the fulfilment of prophecy, for the cases in which 
Matthew countersigns it with the words " that the Scripture might 
be fulfilled " are all artificial and unreal ; and for many incidents 
the stage was set by Jesus, or His disciples, or the Evangelists, 
with the deliberate purpose of presenting to the people a scene 
from the fulfilment of prophecy. 

The sole argument which could save the credit of Christianity 
would be a proof that the Parousia had really taken place at the 
time for which it was announced ; and obviously no such proof 
can be produced. 

Such is Reimarus' reconstruction of the history. We can well 
understand that his work must have given offence when it appeared, 
for it is a polemic, not an objective historical study. But we have 
no right simply to dismiss it in a word, as a Deistic production, 
as Otto Schmiedel, for example, does ; l it is time that Reimarus 
came to his own, and that we should recognise a historical 
performance of no mean order in this piece of Deistic polemics. 

1 Otto Schmiedel, Die Hauptprobleme der Leben-Jesu-Forschung. Tubingen, 1902. 


His work is perhaps the most splendid achievement in the whole 
course of the historical investigation of the life of Jesus, for he was 
the first to grasp the fact that the world of thought in which Jesus 
moved was essentially eschatological. There is some justification 
for the animosity which flames up in his writing. This historical 
truth had taken possession of his mind with such overwhelming 
force that he could no longer understand his contemporaries, 
and could not away with their profession that their beliefs were, 
as they professed to be, directly derived from the preaching of 

What added to the offence was that he saw the eschatology 
in a wrong perspective. He held that the Messianic ideal which 
dominated the preaching of Jesus was that of the political ruler, 
the son of David. All his other mistakes are the consequence of 
this fundamental error. It was, of course, a mere makeshift hypothesis 
to derive the beginnings of Christianity from an imposture. Historical 
science was not at that time sufficiently advanced to lead even the 
man who had divined the fundamentally eschatological character 
of the preaching of Jesus onward to the historical solution of the 
problem ; it needed more than a hundred and twenty years to fill 
in the chasm which Reimarus had been forced to bridge with that 
makeshift hypothesis of his. 

In the light of the clear perception of the elements of the 
problem which Reimarus had attained, the whole movement of 
theology, down to Johannes Weiss, appears retrograde. In all its 
work the thesis is ignored or obscured that Jesus, as a historical 
personality, is to be regarded, not as the founder of a new religion, 
but as the final product of the eschatological and apocalyptic 
thought of Late Judaism. Every sentence of Johannes Weiss's Die 
Predigt Jesu vom Reiche Gottes (1892) is a vindication, a rehabilitation, 
of Reimarus as a historical thinker. 

Even so the traveller on the plain sees from afar the distant 
range of mountains. Then he loses sight of them again. His 
way winds slowly upwards through the valleys, drawing ever 
nearer to the peaks, until at last, at a turn of the path, they stand 
before him, not in the shapes which they had seemed to take from 
the distant plain, but in their actual forms. Reimarus was the first, 
after eighteen centuries of misconception, to have an inkling of 
what eschatology really was. Then theology lost sight of it again, 
and it was not until after the lapse of more than a hundred years 
that it came in view of eschatology once more, now in its true form, 
so far as that can be historically determined, and only after it had 
been led astray, almost to the last, in all its historical researches by 
the sole mistake of Reimarus the assumption that the eschatology 
was earthly and political in character. Thus theology shared at 
least the error of the man whom it knew only as a Deist, not as an 


historian, and whose true greatness was n~ot recognised even by 
Strauss, though he raised a literary monument to him. 

The solution offered by Reimarus may be wrong ; the data of 
observation from which he starts out are, beyond question, right, 
because the primary datum of all is genuinely historical. He 
recognised that two systems of Messianic expectation were present 
side by side in Late Judaism. He endeavoured to bring them into 
mutual relations in order to represent the actual movement of the 
history. In so doing he made the mistake of placing them in 
consecutive order, ascribing to Jesus the political Son - of - David 
conception, and to the Apostles, after His death, the apocalyptic 
system based on Daniel, instead of superimposing one upon the 
other in such a way that the Messianic King might coincide with 
the Son of Man, and the ancient prophetic conception might be 
inscribed within the circumference of the Daniel-descended apoca- 
lyptic, and raised along with it to the supersensuous plane. But 
what matters the mistake in comparison with the fact that the 
problem was really grasped ? 

Reimarus felt that the absence in the preaching of Jesus of 
any definition of the principal term (the Kingdom of God), in 
conjunction with the great and rapid success of His preaching con- 
stituted a problem, and he formulated the conception that Jesus 
was not a religious founder and teacher, but purely a preacher. 

He brought the Synoptic and Johannine narratives into harmony 
by practically leaving the latter out of account. The attitude 'of 
Jesus towards the law, and the process by which the disciples came 
to take up a freer attitude, was grasped and explained by him so 
accurately that modern historical science does not need to add a * 
word, but would be well pleased if at least half the theologians of 
the present day had got as far. 

Further, he recognised that primitive Christianity was not 
something which grew, so to speak, out of the teaching of Jesus, 
but that it came into being as a new creation, in consequence of 
events and circumstances which added something to that preach- 
ing which it did not previously contain ; and that Baptism and the 
Lord's Supper, in the historical sense of these terms, were not 
instituted by Jesus, but created by the early Church on the basis of 
certain historical assumptions. 

Again, Reimarus felt that the fact that the " event of Easter " 
was first proclaimed at Pentecost constituted a problem, and he 
sought a solution for it. He recognised, further, that the solution 
of the problem of the life of Jesus calls for a combination of the 
methods of historical and literary criticism. He felt that merely to 
emphasise the part played by eschatology would not suffice, but 
that it was necessary to assume a creative element in the tradition, 
to which he ascribed the miracles, the stories which turn on the 


fulfilment of Messianic prophecy, the universalistic traits and the 
predictions of the passion and the resurrection. Like Wrede, too, 
he feels that the prescription of silence in the case of miracles of 
healing and of certain communications to the disciples constitutes a 
problem which demands solution. 

Still more remarkable is his eye for exegetical detail. He has 
an unfailing instinct for pregnant passages like Matt. x. 23, xvi. 28, 
which are crucial for the interpretation of large masses of the 
history. The fact is there are some who are historians by the grace 
of God, who from their mother's womb have an instinctive feeling 
for the real. They follow through all the intricacy and confusion 
of reported fact the pathway of reality, like a stream which, despite 
the rocks that encumber its course and the windings of its valley, 
finds its way inevitably to the sea. No erudition can supply the 
place of this historical instinct, but erudition sometimes serves a use- 
ful purpose, inasmuch as it produces in its possessors the pleasing 
belief that they are historians, and thus secures their services for the 
cause of history. In truth they are at best merely doing the pre- 
liminary spade-work of history, collecting for a future historian the 
dry bones of fact, from which, with the aid of his natural gift, he can 
recall the past to life. More often, however, the way in which eru- 
dition seeks to serve history is by suppressing historical discoveries 
as long as possible, and leading out into the field to oppose the one 
true view an army of possibilities. By arraying these in support of 
one another it finally imagines that it has created out of possibilities 
a living reality. 

This obstructive erudition is the special prerogative of theology, 
in which, even at the present day, a truly marvellous scholarship 
often serves only to blind the eyes to elementary truths, and to 
cause the artificial to be preferred to the natural. And this 
happens not only with those who deliberately shut their minds 
against new impressions, but also with those whose purpose is to 
go forward, and to whom their contemporaries look up as leaders. 
It was a typical illustration of this fact when Semler rose up and 
slew Reimarus in the name of scientific theology. 1 

Reimarus had discredited progressive theology. Students so 
Semler tells us in his preface became unsettled and sought other 
callings. The great Halle theologian born in 1725 the pioneer 
of the historical view of the Canon, the precursor of Baur in the 
reconstruction of primitive Christianity, was urged to do away with 
the offence. As Origen of yore with Celsus, so Semler takes 
Reimarus sentence by sentence, in such a way that if his work 
were lost it could be recovered from the refutation. The fact was 
that Semler had nothing in the nature of a complete or well- 

1 Doderlein also wrote a defence of Jesus against the Fragmentist : Fragmente 
und Antifragmente. Nuremberg, 1778. 


articulated argument to oppose to him ; therefore he inaugurated 
in his reply the " Yes, but " theology, which thereafter, for more 
than three generations, while it took, itself, the most various 
modifications, imagined that it had finally got rid of Reimarus and 
his discovery. 

Reimarus so ran the watchword of the guerrilla warfare which 
Semler waged against him cannot be right, for he is one-sided. 
Jesus and His disciples employed two methods of teaching : one 
sensuous, pictorial, drawn from the sphere of Jewish ideas, by which 
they adapted their meaning to the understanding of the multitude, 
and endeavoured to raise them to a higher way of thinking ; and 
alongside of that a purely spiritual teaching which was independent 
of that kind of imagery. Both methods of teaching continued to 
be used side by side, because there were always contemporary 
representatives of the two degrees of capability and the two kinds 
of temperament. " This is historically so certain that the 
Fragmentist's attack must inevitably be defeated at this point, 
because he takes account only of the sensuous representation." But 
his attack was not defeated. What happened was that, owing to 
the respect in which Semler was held, and the absolute incapacity 
of contemporary theology to overtake the long stride forward made 
by Reimarus, his work was neglected, and the stimulus which it was 
capable of imparting failed to take effect. He had no predecessors ; 
neither had he any disciples. His work is one of those supremely 
great works which pass and leave no trace, because they are 
before their time ; to which later generations pay a just tribute of 
admiration, but owe no gratitude. Indeed it would be truer to say 
that Reimarus hung a mill-stone about the neck of the rising 
theological science of his time. He avenged himself on Semler by 
shaking his faith in historical theology and even in the freedom of 
science in general. By the end of the eighth decade of the century 
the Halle professor was beginning to retrace his steps, was becoming 
more and more disloyal to the cause which he had formerly served ; 
and he finally went so far as to give his approval to Wollner's edict 
for the regulation of religion (1788). His friends attributed this 
change of front to senility he died 1791. 

Thus the magnificent overture in which are announced all the 
motifs of the future historical treatment of the life of Jesus breaks 
off with a sudden discord, remains isolated and incomplete, and 
leads to nothing further. 



Johann Jakob Hess. Geschichte der drei letzten Lebensjahre Jesu. (History of 
the Last Three Years of the Life of Jesus.) 3 vols., 1400 pp. Leipzig-Zurich, 
1768-1772 ; 3rd ed., 1774 ff. ; 7th ed., 1823 ff. 

Franz Volkmar Reinhard. Versuch iiber den Plan, welchen der Stifter der 
christlichen Religion zum Besten der Menschheit entwarf. (Essay upon the Plan 
which the Founder of the Christian Religion adopted for the Benefit of Mankind. ) 
500 pp. ijftj^; 4th ed., 1798; 5th ed. , 1830. Our account is based on the 
4th ed. The 5th contains supplementary matter by Heubner. 

Ernst August Opitz. Preacher at Zscheppelin. Geschichte und Characterziige 
Jesu. (History of Jesus, with a Delineation of His Character.) Jena and 
Leipzig, 1812. 488 pp. 

Johann Adolph Jakobi. Superintendent at Waltershausen. Die Geschichte Jesu 
fur denkende und gemiitvolle Leser, ji6. (The History of Jesus for thoughtful 
and sympathetic readers.) A second volume, containing the history of the 
apostolic age, followed in 1818. 

Johann Gottfried Herder. Vom Erloser der Menschen. Nach unsern drei ersten 
Evangelien. (The Redeemer of men, as portrayed in our first three Gospels.) 
IZ9-6..., Von Gottes Sohn, der Welt Heiland. Nach Johannes Evangelium. 
(The Son of God, the Saviour of the World, as portrayed by John's Gospel. ) 
Accompanied by a rule for the harmonisation of our Gospels on the basis of 
their origin and order. Riga, published by Hartknoch, 1797. See Herder's 
complete works, ed. Suphan, vol. xix. 

THAT thorough -going theological rationalism which accepts only 
so much of religion as can justify itself at the bar of reason, and 
which conceives and represents the origin of religion in accordance 
with this principle, was preceded by a rationalism less complete, as 
yet not wholly dissociated from a simple-minded supernaturalism. 
Its point of view is one at which it is almost impossible for the 
modern man to place himself. Here, in a single consciousness, 
orthodoxy and rationalism lie stratified in successive layers. Here, 
to change the metaphor, rationalism surrounds religion without 
touching it, and, like a lake surrounding some ancient castle, 
mirrors its image with curious refractions. 

This half-developed rationalism was conscious of an impulse 
it is the first time in the history of theology that this impulse 



manifests itself to write the Life of Jesus; at first without any 
suspicion whither this undertaking would lead it. No rude hands 
were to be laid upon the doctrinal conception of Jesus ; at least 
these writers had no intention of laying hands upon it. Their 
purpose was simply to gain a clearer view of the course of our 
Lord's earthly and human life. The theologians who undertook 
this task thought of themselves as merely writing an historical 
supplement to the life of the God-Man Jesus. These " Lives " are, 
therefore, composed according to the prescription of the "good 
old gentleman" who in 1829 advised the young Hase to treat first 
of the divine, and then of the human side of the life of Jesus. 

The battle about miracle had not yet begun. But miracle no 
longer plays a part of any importance ; it is a firmly established 
principle that the teaching of Jesus, and religion in general, hold 
their place solely in virtue of their inner reasonableness, not by the 
support of outward evidence. ' 

The only thing that is really rationalistic in these older works 
is the treatment of the teaching of Jesus. Even those that retain 
the largest share of supernaturalism are as completely undogmatic 
as the more advanced in their reproduction of the discourses of the 
Great Teacher. All of them make it a principle to lose no 
opportunity of reducing the number of miracles ; where they can 
explain a miracle by natural causes, they do not hesitate for a 
moment. But the deliberate rejection of all miracles, the elimina- 
tion of everything supernatural which intrudes itself into the life 
of Jesus, is still to seek. That principle was first consistently 
carried through by Paulus. With these earlier writers it depends 
on the degree of enlightenment of the individual whether the 
irreducible minimum of the supernatural is larger or smaller. 

Moreover, the period of this older rationalism, like every period 
when human thought has been strong and vigorous, is wholly 
unhistorical. What it is looking for is not the past, but itself in 
the past. For it, the problem of the life of Jesus is solved the 
moment it succeeds in bringing Jesus near to its own time, in 
portraying Him as the great teacher of virtue, and showing that 
His teaching is identical with the intellectual truth which rationalism 

The temporal limits of this half-and-half rationalism are difficult 
to define. For the historical study of the life of Jesus the first 
landmark which it offers is the work of Hess, which appeared in 
1768. But it held its ground for a long time side by side with 
rationalism proper, which failed to drive it from the field. A 
seventh edition of Hess's Life of Jesus appeared as late as 1823 
while a fifth edition of Reinhard's work saw the light in 1830. 
And when Strauss struck the death-blow of out-and-out rationalism, 
the half-and-half rationalism did not perish with it, but allied itself 


with the neo-supernaturalism which Strauss's treatment of the life 
of Jesus had called into being; and it still prolongs an obscure 
existence in a certain section of conservative literature, though it 
has lost its best characteristics, its simple-mindedness and honesty. 

These older rationalistic Lives of Jesus are, from the aesthetic 
point of view, among the least pleasing of all theological productions. 
The sentimentality of the portraiture is boundless. Boundless, 
also, and still more objectionable, is the want of respect for the 
language of Jesus. He must speak in a rational and modern 
fashion, and accordingly all His utterances are reproduced in a style 
of the most polite modernity. None of the speeches are allowed 
to stand as they were spoken ; they are taken to pieces, paraphrased, 
and expanded, and sometimes, with the view of making them really 
lively, they are recast in the mould of a freely invented dialogue. 
In all these Lives of Jesus, not a single one of His sayings retains 
its authentic form. 

And yet we must not be unjust to these writers. What they 
aimed at was to bring Jesus near to their own time, and in so doing 
they became the pioneers of the historical study of His life. The 
defects of their work in regard to aesthetic feeling and historical grasp 
are outweighed by the attractiveness of the purposeful, unprejudiced 
thinking which here awakens, stretches itself, and begins to move 
with freedom. 

Johann Jakob Hess was born in 1741 and died in 1828. After 
working as a curate for seventeen years he became one of the 
assistant clergy at the Frauminster at Zurich, and later " Antistes," 
president, of the cantonal synod. In this capacity he guided the 
destinies of the Church in Zurich safely through the troublous times 
of the Revolution. He was not a deep thinker, but was well read 
and not without ability. As a man, he did splendid work. 

His Life of Jesus still keeps largely to the lines of a paraphrase 
of the Gospels; indeed, he calls it a paraphrasing history. It is 
based upon a harmonising combination of the four Gospels. The 
matter of the Synoptic narratives is, as in all the Lives of Jesus 
prior to Strauss with the sole exception of Herder's fitted more 
or less arbitrarily into the intervals between the Passovers in the 
fourth Gospel. 

In regard to miracles, he admits that these are a stumbling- 
block. But they are essential to the Gospel narrative and to revela- 
tion ; had Jesus been only a moral teacher and not the Son of God 
they would not have been necessary. We must be careful, however, 
not to prize miracles for their own sake, but to look primarily to 
their ethical teaching. It was, he remarks, the mistake of the Jews 
to regard all the acts of Jesus solely from the point of view of their 
strange and miraculous character, and to forget their moral teaching ; 
whereas we, from distaste for miracle as such, run the risk of 


excluding from the Gospel history events which are bound up with 
the Gospel revelation. 

Above all, we must retain the supernatural birth and the 
bodily resurrection, because on the former depends the sinlessness 
of Jesus, on the latter the certainty of the general resurrection of 
the dead. The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness was a 
stratagem of Satan by which he hoped to discover "whether Jesus 
of Nazareth was really so extraordinary a person that he would have 
cause to fear Him." The resurrection of Lazarus is authentic. 

But the Gospel narrative is rationalised whenever it can be done. 
It was not the demons, but the Gadarene demoniacs themselves, 
who rushed among the swine. Alarmed by their fury the whole 
herd plunged over the precipice into the lake and were drowned ; 
while by this accommodation to the fixed idea of the demoniacs, 
Jesus effected their cure. Perhaps, too, Hess conjectures, the Lord 
desired to test the Gadarenes, and to see whether they would attach 
greater importance to the good deed done to two of their number 
than to the loss of their swine. This explanation, reinforced by 
its moral, held its ground in theology for some sixty years and 
passed over into a round dozen Lives of Jesus. 

This plan of " presenting each occurrence in such a way that 
what is valuable and instructive in it immediately strikes the eye " 
is followed out by Hess so faithfully that all clearness of impression 
is destroyed. The parables are barely recognisable, swathed, as 
they are, in the mummy-wrappings of his paraphrase ; and in most 
cases their meaning is completely travestied by the ethical or 
historical allusions which he finds in them. The parable of the 
pounds is explained as referring to a man who went, like Archelaus, 
to Rome to obtain the kingship, while his subjects intrigued behind 
his back. 

Of the peculiar beauty of the speech of Jesus not a trace 
remains. The parable of the Sower, for instance, begins : "A 
countryman went to sow his field, which lay beside a country-road, 
and was here and there rather rocky, and in some places weedy, but 
in general was well cultivated, and had a good sort of soil." The 
beatitude upon the mourners appears in the following guise : 
" Happy are they who amid the adversities of the present make the 
best of things and submit themselves with patience ; for such men, 
if they do not see better times here, shall certainly elsewhere receive 
comfort and consolation." The question addressed by the Pharisees 
to John the Baptist, and his answer, are given dialogue-wise, in 
fustian of this kind : The Pharisees : " We are directed to enquire of 
you, in the name of our president, who you profess to be ? As 
people are at present expecting the Messiah, and seem not indisposed 
to accept you in that capacity, we are the more anxious that you 
should declare yourself with regard to your vocation and person." 


John : " The conclusion might have been drawn ^rom my discourses 
that I was not the Messiah. Why should people attribute such 
lofty pretensions to me ? " etc. In order to give the Gospels the 
true literary flavour, a characterisation is tacked on to each of the 
persons of the narrative. In the case of the disciples, for instance, 
this runs : " They had sound common sense, but very limited insight ; 
the capacity to receive teaching, but an incapacity for reflective 
thought ; a knowledge of their own weakness, but a difficulty in 
getting rid of old prejudices ; sensibility to right feeling, but 
weakness in following out a pre-determined moral plan." 

The simplest occurrences give occasion for sentimental por- 
traiture. The saying " Except ye become as little children " is 
introduced in the following fashion: "Jesus called a boy who was 
standing near. The boy came. Jesus took his hand and told him 
to stand beside Him, nearer than any of His disciples, so that he 
had the foremost place among them. Then Jesus threw His arm 
round the boy and pressed him tenderly to His breast. The 
disciples looked on in astonishment, wondering what this meant. 
Then He explained to them," etc. In these expansions Hess does 
not always escape the ludicrous. The saying of Jesus in John x. 9, 
" I am the door," takes on the following form : " No one, whether 
he be sheep or shepherd, can come into the fold (if, that is to 
say, he follows the right way) except in so far as he knows me and 
is admitted by me, and included among the flock." 

Reinhard's work is on a distinctly higher level. The author 
was born in 1753. In 1792, after he had worked for fourteen years 
as Decent in Wittenberg, he was appointed Senior Court Chaplain 
at Dresden. He died in 1812. 

"I am, as you know, a very prosaic person," writes Reinhard 
to a friend, and in these words he has given an admirable character- 
isation of himself. The writers who chiefly appeal to him are the 
ancient moralists ; he acknowledges that he has learned more from 
them than from a " collegium homileticum." In his celebrated 
"System of Christian Ethics" (5 vols., 1788-1815) he makes 
copious use of them. His sermons they fill thirty-five volumes, 
and in their day were regarded as models show some power and 
depth of thought, but are all cast in the same mould. He seems 
to have been haunted by a fear that it might some time befall him 
to admit into his mind a thought which was mystical or visionary, 
not justifiable by the laws of logic and the canons of the critical 
reason. With all his philosophising and rationalising, however, 
certain pillars of the supernaturalistic view of history remain for 
him immovable. 

At first sight one might be inclined to suppose that he frankly 
shared the belief in miracle. He mentions the raising of the 


widow's son, and of Lazarus, and accepts as an authentic saying the 
command of the risen Jesus to baptize all nations. But if we look 
more closely, we find that he deliberately brings very few miracles 
into his narrative, and the definition by which he disintegrates the 
conception of miracle from within leaves no doubt as to his own 
position. What he says is this : " All that which we call miraculous 
and supernatural is to be understood as only relatively so, and 
implies nothing further than an obvious exception to what can be 
brought about by natural causes, so far as we know them and have 
experience of their capacity. A cautious thinker will not venture 
in any single instance to pronounce an event to be so extraordinary 
that God could not have brought it about by the use of secondary 
causes, but must have intervened directly." 

The case stands similarly with regard to the divinity of Christ. 
Reinhard assumes it, but his " Life " is not directed to prove it ; it 
leads only to the conclusion that the Founder of Christianity is to 
be regarded as a wonderful " divine " teacher. In order to prove 
His uniqueness, Reinhard has to show that His plan for the welfare 
of mankind was something incomparably higher than anything 
which hero or sage has ever striven for. Reinhard makes the first 
attempt to give an account of the teaching of Jesus which should 
be historical in the sense that all dogmatic considerations should 
be excluded. "Above all things, let us collect and examine the 
indications which we find in the writings of His companions 
regarding the designs which He had in view." 

The plan of Jesus shows its greatness above all in its universality. 
Reinhard is well aware of the difficulty raised in this connexion by 
those sayings which assert the prerogative of Israel, and he discusses 
them at length. He finds the solution in the assumption that 
Jesus in His own lifetime naturally confined Himself to working 
among His own people, and was content to indicate the future 
universal development of His plan. 

With the intention " of introducing a universal change, tending 
to the benefit of the whole human race, " Jesus attaches His teaching 
to the Jewish eschatology. It is only the form of His teaching, 
however, which is affected by this, since He gives an entirely 
different significance to the terms Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom 
of God, referring them to a universal ethical reorganisation of 
mankind. But His plan was entirely independent of politics. He 
never based His claims upon His Davidic descent. This was, 
indeed, the reason why He held aloof from His family. Even the 
entry into Jerusalem had no Messianic significance. His plan was 
so entirely non-political that He would, on the contrary, have 
welcomed the severance of all connexion between the state and 
religion, in order to avoid the risk of a conflict between these two 
powers. Reinhard explains the voluntary death of Jesus as due to 


this endeavour. " He quitted the stage of the world by so early 
and shameful a death because He wished to destroy at once and 
for ever the mistaken impression that He was aiming at the founda- 
tion of an earthly kingdom, and to turn the thoughts, wishes, and 
efforts of His disciples and companions into another channel." 

In order to make the Kingdom of God a practical reality, it 
was necessary for Him to dissociate it from all the forces of this 
world, and to bring morality and religion into the closest connexion. 
"The law of love was the indissoluble bond by which Jesus for 
ever united morality with religion." " Moral instruction was the 
principal content and the very essence of all His discourses," His 
efforts "were directed to the establishment of a purely ethical 

It was important, therefore, to overthrow superstition and to 
bring religion within the domain of reason. First of all the priest- 
hood must be deprived for ever of its influence. Then an improve- 
ment of the social condition of mankind must be introduced, since 
the level of morality depends upon social conditions. Jesus was 
a social reformer. Through the attainment of "the highest 
perfection of which Society is capable, universal peace" was 
"gradually to be brought about." 

But the point of primary importance for Him was the alliance 
of religion with reason. Reason was to maintain its freedom by 
the aid of religion, and religion was not to be withdrawn from the 
critical judgment of reason : all things were to be tested, and only 
the best retained. 

" From these data it is easy to determine the characteristics of 
a religion which is to be the religion of all mankind : it must be 
ethical, intelligible, and spiritual." 

After the plan of Jesus has been expounded on these lines, 
Reinhard shows, in the second part of his work, that, prior to Jesus, 
no great man of antiquity had devised a plan of beneficence of a 
scope commensurate with the whole human race. In the third 
part the conclusion is drawn that Jesus is the uniquely divine 

But before the author can venture to draw this conclusion, he 
feels it necessary first to show that the plan of Jesus was no chimera. 
If we were obliged to admit its impracticability Jesus would have 
to be ranked with the visionaries and enthusiasts ; and these, 
however noble and virtuous, can only injure the cause of rational 
religion. " Visionary enthusiasm and enlightened reason who that 
knows anything of the human mind can conceive these two as 
united in a single soul ? " But Jesus was no visionary enthusiast. 
"With what calmness, self-mastery, and cool determination does 
He think out and pursue His divine purpose ? " By the truths 
which He revealed and declared to be divine communications He 


did not desire to put pressure upon the human mind, but only to 
guide it. " It would be impossible to show a more conscientious 
respect and a more delicate consideration for the rights of human 
reason than is shown by Jesus. He will conquer only by convinc- 
ing." " He is willing to bear with contradiction, and condescends 
to meet the most irrational objections and the most ill-natured mis- 
representations with the most incredible patience." 

It was well for Reinhard that he had no suspicion how full of 
enthusiasm Jesus was, and how He trod reason under His feet ! 

But what kind of relation was there between this rational religion 
taught by Jesus and the Christian theology which Reinhard accepted? 
How does he harmonise the symbolical view of Baptism and the 
Lord's Supper which he here expounds with ecclesiastical doctrine ? 
How does he pass from the conception of the divine teacher to 
that of the Son of God ? 

This is a question which he does not feel himself obliged to 
answer. For him the one circle of thought revolves freely within 
the other, but they never come into contact with each other. 

So far as concerns the presentation of the teaching, the Life of 
Jesus by Opitz follows the same lines as that of Reinhard. It is 
disfigured, however, by a number of lapses of taste, and by a crass 
supernaturalism in the description of the miracles and experiences 
of the Great Teacher. 

Jakobi writes "for thoughtful and sympathetic readers." He 
recognises that much of the miraculous is a later addition to the 
facts, but he has a rooted distrust of thoroughgoing rationalism, 
"whose would-be helpful explanations are often stranger than the 
miracles themselves." A certain amount of miracle must be 
maintained, but not for the purpose of founding belief upon it : 
"the miracles were not intended to authenticate the teaching of 
Jesus, but to surround His life with a guard of honour." l 

Whether Herder, in his two Lives of Jesus, is to be classed with 
the older rationalists is a question to which the answer must be 
"Yes, and No," as in the case of every attempt to classify those 
men of lonely greatness who stand apart from their contemporaries, 
but who nevertheless are not in all points in advance of them. 

Properly speaking, he has really nothing to do with the 
rationalists, since he is distinguished from them by the depth of 
his insight and his power of artistic apprehension, and he is far 
from sharing their lack of taste. Further, his horizon embraces 
problems of which rationalism, even in its developed form, never 

1 This is perhaps the place to mention the account of the life of Jesus which is 
given in the first part of Plank's Geschichte des Ckristfntuats. Gottingen, 1818. 


came in sight. He recognises that all attempts to harmonise the 
Synoptists with John are unavailing; a conclusion which he had 
avowed earlier in his " Letters referring to the Study of Theology." l 
He grasps this incompatibility, it is true, rather by the aid of poetic, 
than of critical insight. "Since they cannot be united," he writes 
in his "Life of Jesus according to John," "they must be left 
standing independently, each evangelist with his own special merit. 
Man, Ox, Lion, and Eagle, they advance together, supporting 
the throne of glory, but they refuse to coalesce into a single form, 
to unite into a Diatessaron." But to him belongs the honour of 
being the first and the only scholar, prior to Strauss, to recognise that 
the life of Jesus can be construed either according to the Synoptists, 
or according to John, but that a Life of Jesus based on the four 
Gospels is a monstrosity. In view of this intuitive historical 
grasp, it is not surprising that the commentaries of the theologians 
were an abomination to him. 

The fourth Gospel is, in his view, not a primitive historical 
source, but a protest against the narrowness of the "Palestinian 
Gospels." It gives free play, as the circumstances of the time 
demanded, to Greek ideas. " There was need, in addition to 
those earlier, purely historical Gospels, of a Gospel at once 
theological and historical, like that of John," in which Jesus should 
be i presented, not as the Jewish Messiah, "but as the Saviour of 
the World." 

The additions and omissions of this Gospel are alike skilfully 
planned. It retains only those miracles which are symbols of a 
continuous permanent miracle, through which the Saviour of the 
World works constantly, unintermittently, among men. The 
Johannine miracles are not there for their own sakes. The cures 
of demoniacs are not even represented among them. These had 
no interest for the Graeco-Roman world, and the Evangelist was 
unwilling "that this Palestinian superstition should become a 
permanent feature of Christianity, to be a reproach of scoffers or a 
belief of the foolish." His recording of the raising of Lazarus is, 
in spite of the silence of the Synoptists, easily explicable. The 
latter could not yet tell the story " without exposing a family which 
was still living near Jerusalem to the fury of that hatred which 
had sworn with an oath to put Lazarus to death." John, however, 
could recount it without scruple, "for by this time Jerusalem was 
probably in ruins, and the hospitable family of Bethany were 
perhaps already with their Friend in the other world." This most 
naive of explanations is reproduced in a whole series of Lives of 

In dealing with the Synoptists, Herder grasps the problem with 

1 Briefe das Studium der Theologie bctreflend, ist ed., 1780-1781 ; 2nd ed., 
1785-1786 ; Werke, ed. Suphan, vol. x. 


the same intuitive insight. Mark is no epitomist, but the creator of 
the archetype of the Synoptic representation. "The Gospel of 
Mark is not an epitome ; it is an original Gospel. What the 
others have, and he has not, has been added by them, not omitted 
by him. Consequently Mark is a witness to an original, shorter 
Gospel-scheme, to which the additional matter of the others ought 
properly to be regarded as a supplement." 

Mark is the " unornamented central column, or plain foundation 
stone, on which the others rest." The birth-stories of Matthew and 
Luke are "a new growth to meet new needs." The different 
tendencies, also, point to a later period. Mark is still comparatively 
friendly towards the Jews, because Christianity had not yet separated 
itself from Judaism. Matthew is more hostile towards them 
because his Gospel was written at a time when Christians had given 
up the hope of maintaining amicable relations with the Jews and 
were groaning under the pressure of persecution. It is for that 
reason that the Jesus of the Matthaean discourses lays so much 
stress upon His second coming, and presupposes the rejection of 
the Jewish nation as something already in being, a sign of the 
approaching end. 

Pure history, however, is as little to be looked for in the first 
three Gospels as in the fourth. They are the sacred epic of Jesus 
the Messiah, and model the history of their hero upon the prophetic 
words of the Old Testament. In this view, also, Herder is a pre- 
cursor of Strauss. 

In essence, however, Herder represents a protest of art against 
theology. The Gospels, if we are to find the life of Jesus in them, 
must be read, not with pedantic learning, but with taste. From 
this point of view, miracles cease to offend. Neither Old Testament 
prophecies, nor predictions of Jesus, nor miracles, can be adduced 
as evidence for the Gospel ; the Gospel is its own evidence. 
The miracles stand outside the possibility of proof, and belong to 
mere "Church belief," which ought to lose itself more and more in the 
pure Gospel. Yet miracles, in a limited sense, are to be accepted 
on the ground of the historic evidence. To refuse to admit this is 
to be like the Indian king who denied the existence of ice because 
he had never seen anything like it. Jesus, in order to help His 
miracle-loving age, reconciled Himself to the necessity of perform- 
ing miracles. But, in any case, the reality of a miracle is of small 
moment in comparison with its symbolic value. 

In this, therefore, Herder, though in his grasp of many problems 
he was more than a generation in advance of his time, belongs to 
the primitive rationalists. He allows the supernatural to intrude 
into the events of the life of Jesus, and does not feel that the 
adoption of the historical standpoint involves the necessity of doing 
away with miracle. He contributed much to the clearing up of 


ideas, but by evading the question of miracle he slurred over a 
difficulty which needed to be faced and solved before it should 
be possible to entertain the hope of forming a really historical con- 
ception of the life of Jesus. In reading Herder one is apt to fancy 
that it would be possible to pass straight on to Strauss. In reality, 
it was necessary that a very prosaic spirit, Paulus, should intervene, 
and should attack the question of miracle from a purely historical 
standpoint, before Strauss could give expression to the ideas of 
Herder in an effectual way, i.e. in such a way as to produce offence. 
The fact is that in theology the most revolutionary ideas are 
swallowed quite readily so long as they smooth their passage by a 
few small concessions. It is only when a spicule of bone stands 
out obstinately and causes choking that theology begins to take 
note of dangerous ideas. Strauss is Herder with just that little 
bone sticking out the absolute denial of miracle on historical 
grounds. That is to say, Strauss is a Herder who has behind 
him the uncompromising rationalism of Paulus. 


Karl Friedrich Bahrdt. Briefe ttber die Bibel im Volkston. Eine Wochenschrift 
von einem Prediger auf dem Lande. (Popular Letters about the Bible. A 
weekly paper by a country clergyman. ) J. Fr. Dost, Halle, 1782. 816 pp. 

Ausfiihrung des Plans und Zwecks Jesu. In Briefen an Wahrheit strchende Leser. 
(An Explanation of the Plans and Aims of Jesus. In letters addressed to 
readers who seek the truth.) n vols. , embracing 3000 pp. August Mylius, 
Berlin, 1784-1792. This work is a sequel to the Popular Letters about the Bible. 

Die samtlichen Reden Jesu aus den Evangelisten ausgezogen. (The Whole of the 
Discourses of Jesus, extracted from the Gospels.) Berlin, 1786. 

Karl Heinrich Venturini. Natiirliche Geschichte des grossen Propheten von 
Nazareth. (A Non-supernatural History of the Great Prophet of Nazareth.) 
Bethlehem (Copenhagen), ist ed. , 1800-1802; 2nd ed., 1806. 4 vols., 
embracing 2700 pp. The work appeared anonymously. The description given 
below is based on the 2nd ed. , which shows dependence, in some of the 
exegetical details, upon the then recently published commentaries of Paulus. 

IT is strange to notice how often in the history of our subject a few 
imperfectly equipped free-lances have attacked and attempted to 
carry the decisive positions before the ordered ranks of professional 
theology have pushed their advance to these decisive points. 

Thus, it was the fictitious "Lives" of Bahrdt and Venturini 
which, at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth 
centuries, first attempted to apply, with logical consistency, a non- 
supernatural interpretation to the miracle stories of the Gospel. 
Further, these writers were the first who, instead of contenting them- 
selves with the simple reproduction of the successive sections of the 
Gospel narrative, endeavoured to grasp the inner connexion of cause 
and effect in the events and experiences of the life of Jesus. Since 
they found no such connexion indicated in the Gospels, they had to 
supply it for themselves. The particular form which their explana- 
tion takes the hypothesis of a secret society of which Jesus is the 
tool is, it is true, rather a sorry makeshift. Yet, in a sense, these 
Lives of Jesus, for all their colouring of fiction, are the first which 
deserve the name. The rationalists, and even Paulus, confine 
themselves to describing the teaching of Jesus; Bahrdt and Venturini 
make a bold attempt to paint the portrait of Jesus Himself. It is 


K. F. BAHRDT 39 

not surprising that their portraiture is at once crude -and fantastic, 
like the earliest attempts of art to represent the human figure in 
living movement. 

Karl Friedrich Bahrdt was born in 1741 at Bischofswerda. 
Endowed with brilliant abilities, he made, owing to a bad up- 
bringing and an undisciplined sensuous nature, a miserable failure. 
After being first Catechist and afterwards Professor Extraordinary 
of Sacred Philology at Leipzig, he was, in 1766, requested to resign 
on account of scandalous life. After various adventures, and after 
holding for a time a professorship at Giessen, he received under 
Frederick's minister Zedlitz authorisation to lecture at Halle. 
There he lectured to nearly nine hundred students who were 
attracted by his inspiring eloquence. The government upheld him, 
in spite of his serious failings, with the double motive of annoying 
the faculty and maintaining the freedom of learning. After the 
death of Frederick the Great, Bahrdt had to resign his post, 
and took to keeping an inn at a vineyard near Halle. By ridiculing 
Wollner's edict (1788), he brought on himself a year of confine- 
ment in a fortress. He died in disrepute, in 1792. 

Bahrdt had begun as an orthodox cleric. In Halle he gave up 
his belief in revelation, and endeavoured to explain religion on the 
ground of reason. To this period belong the " Popular Letters 
about the Bible," which were afterwards continued in the further 
series, "An Explanation of the Plans and Aims of Jesus." 

His treatment of the life of Jesus has been too severely cen- 
sured. The work is not without passages which show a real depth 
of feeling, especially in the continually recurring explanations re- 
garding the relation of belief in miracle to true faith, in which the 
actual description of the life of Jesus lies embedded. And the 
remarks about the teaching of Jesus are not always commonplace. 
But the paraphernalia of dialogues of portentous length make it, 
as a whole, formless and inartistic. The introduction of a galaxy 
of imaginary characters Haram, Schimah, Avel, Limmah, and the 
like is nothing less than bewildering. 

Bahrdt finds the key to the explanation of the life of Jesus 
in the appearance in the Gospel narrative of Nicodemus and Joseph 
of Arimathea. They are not disciples of Jesus, but belong to the 
upper classes; what role, then, can they have played in the life 
of Jesus, and how came they to intercede on His behalf? They 
were Essenes. This Order had secret members in all ranks of 
society, even in the Sanhedrin. It had set itself the task of detaching 
the nation from its sensuous Messianic hopes and leading it to a 
higher knowledge of spiritual truths. It had the most widespread 
ramifications, extending to Babylon and to Egypt. In order to 
deliver the people from the limitations of the national faith, which 
could only lead to disturbance and insurrection, they must find a 


Messiah who would destroy these false Messianic expectations. 
They were therefore on the look-out for a claimant of the Messiah- 
ship whom they could make subservient to their aims. 

Jesus came under the notice of the Order immediately after 
His birth. As a child He was watched over at every step by the 
Brethren. At the feasts at Jerusalem Alexandrian Jews, secret 
members of the Essene Order, put themselves into communication 
with Him, explained to Him the falsity of the priests, inspired Him 
with a horror of the bloody sacrifices of the Temple, and made him 
acquainted with Socrates and Plato. This is set forth in dialogues 
of a hundred pages long. At the story of the death of Socrates, the 
boy bursts into a tempest of sobs which His friends are unable to 
calm. He longs to emulate the martyr-death of the great Athenian. 
On the market-place at Nazareth a mysterious Persian gives 
Him two sovereign remedies one for affections of the eye, the 
other for nervous disorders. 

His father does his best for Him, teaching Him, along with 
His cousin John, afterwards the Baptist, about virtue and im- 
mortality. A priest belonging to the Essene Order, who makes their 
acquaintance disguised as a shepherd, and takes part in their con- 
versations, leads the lads deeper into the knowledge of wisdom. 
At twelve years old, Jesus is already so far advanced that He argues 
with the Scribes in the Temple concerning miracles, maintaining 
the thesis that they are impossible. 

When they feel themselves ready to appear in public the two 
cousins take counsel together how they can best help the people. 
They agree to open the eyes of the people regarding the tyranny 
and hypocrisy of the priests. Through Haram, a prominent 
member of the Essene Order, Luke the physician is introduced to 
Jesus and places all his science at His disposal. 

In order to produce any effect they were obliged to practise 
accommodation to the superstitions of the people, and introduce 
their wisdom to them under the garb of folly, in the hope that, 
beguiled by its attractive exterior, the people would admit into 
their minds the revelation of rational truth, and after a time be 
able to emancipate themselves from superstition. Jesus, therefore, 
sees Himself obliged to appear in the role of the Messiah of 
popular expectation, and to make up His mind to work by means 
of miracles and illusions. About this He felt the gravest scruples. 
He was obliged, however, to obey the Order; and His scruples 
were quieted by the reminder of the lofty end which was to be 
reached by these means. At last, when it is pointed out to Him 
that even Moses had followed the same plan, He submits to the 
necessity. The influential Order undertakes the duty of stage- 
managing the miracles, and that of maintaining His father. On 
the reception of Jesus into the number of the Brethren of the First 


Degree of the Order it is made known to Him that these Brethren 
are bound to face death in the cause of the Order ; but that the 
Order, on its part, undertakes so to use the machinery and influence 
at its disposal that the last extremity shall always be avoided and 
the Brother mysteriously preserved from death. 

Then begins the cleverly staged drama by means of which the 
people are to be converted to rational religion. The members of 
the Order are divided into three classes : The Baptized, The 
Disciples, The Chosen Ones. The Baptized receive only the 
usual popular teaching; the Disciples are admitted to further 
knowledge, but are not entrusted with the highest mysteries ; the 
Chosen Ones, who in the Gospels are also spoken of as "Angels," 
are admitted into all wisdom. As the Apostles were only members 
of the Second Degree, they had not the smallest suspicion of the 
secret machinery which was at work. Their part in the drama 
of the Life of Jesus was that of zealous "supers." The Gospels 
which they composed therefore report, in perfect good faith, 
miracles which were really clever illusions produced by the Essenes, 
and they depict the life of Jesus only as seen by the populace 
from the outside. 

It is therefore not always possible for us to discover how the 
events which they record as miracles actually came about. But 
whether they took place in one way or another and as to this 
we can sometimes get a clue from a hint in the text it is certain 
that in all cases the process was natural. With reference to the 
feeding of the five thousand, Bahrdt remarks : " It is more reason- 
able here to think of a thousand ways by which Jesus might have 
had sufficient supplies of bread at hand, and by the distribution of 
it have shamed the disciples' lack of courage, than to believe in a 
miracle." The explanation which he himself prefers is that the 
Order had collected a great quantity of bread in a cave and 
this was gradually handed out to Jesus, who stood at the concealed 
entrance and took some every time the apostles were occupied in 
distributing the former supply to the multitude. The walking on 
the sea is to be explained by supposing that Jesus walked towards 
the disciples over the surface of a great floating raft ; while they, 
not being able to see the raft, must needs suppose a miracle. 
When Peter tried to walk on the water he failed miserably. The 
miracles of healing are to be attributed to the art of Luke. He 
also called the attention of Jesus to remarkable cases of apparent 
death, which He then took in hand, and restored the apparently 
dead to their sorrowing friends. In such cases, however, the 
Lord never failed expressly to inform the disciples that the persons 
were not really dead. They, however, did not permit this assurance 
to deprive them of their faith in the miracle which they felt they 
had themselves witnessed. 


In teaching, Jesus had two methods : one, exoteric, simple, for 
the world; the other, esoteric, mystic, for the initiate. "No 
attentive reader of the Bible," says Bahrdt, "can fail to notice 
that Jesus made use of two different styles of speech. Sometimes 
He spoke so plainly and in such universally intelligible language, 
and declared truths so simple and so well adapted to the general 
comprehension of mankind that even the simplest could follow 
Him. At other times he spoke so mystically, so obscurely, and 
in so veiled a fashion that words and thoughts alike baffled the 
understandings of ordinary people, and even by more practised 
minds were not to be grasped without close reflection, so that we 
are told in John vi. 60 that 'many of His disciples, when they 
heard this, said, This is an hard saying ; who can hear it ? ' And 
Jesus Himself did not deny it, but only told them that the reason 
of their not understanding His sayings lay in their prejudices, which 
made them interpret everything literally and materially, and over- 
look the ethical meaning which underlay His figurative language." 
Most of these mystical discourses are to be found in John, who 
seems to have preserved for us the greater part of the secret 
teaching imparted to the initiate. The key to the understanding 
of this esoteric teaching is to be found, therefore, in the prologue 
to John's Gospel, and in the sayings about the new birth. " To be 
born again " is identical with the degree of perfection which was 
attained in the highest class of the Brotherhood. 

The members of the Order met on appointed days in caves 
among the hills. When we are told in the Gospels that Jesus 
went alone into a mountain to pray, this means that He repaired 
to one of these secret gatherings, but the disciples, of course, knew 
nothing about that. The Order had its hidden caves everywhere ; 
in Galilee as well as in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. 

" Only by sensuous means can sensuous ideas be overcome." 
The Jewish Messiah must die and rise again, in order that the 
false conceptions of the Messiah which were cherished by the 
multitude might be destroyed in the moment of their fulfilment 
that is, might be spiritualised. Nicodemus, Haram, and Luke met 
in a cave in order to take counsel how they might bring about 
the death of Jesus in a way favourable to their plans. Luke 
guaranteed that by the aid of powerful drugs which he would give 
Him the Lord should be enabled to endure the utmost pain and 
suffering and yet resist death for a long time. Nicodemus under- 
took so to work matters in the Sanhedrin that the execution should 
follow immediately upon the sentence, and the crucified remain 
only a short time upon the cross. At this moment Jesus rushed 
into the cave. He had scarcely had time to replace the stone 
which concealed the entrance, so closely had He been pursued 
over the rocks by hired assassins. He Himself is firmly resolved 


to die, but care must be taken that He shall not be simply 
assassinated, or the whole plan fails. If He falls by the assassin's 
knife, no resurrection will be possible. 

In the end, the piece is staged to perfection. Jesus provokes 
the authorities by His triumphal Messianic entry. The unsus- 
pected Essenes in the council urge on His arrest and secure His 
condemnation though Pilate almost frustrates all their plans by 
acquitting Him. Jesus, by uttering a loud cry and immediately 
afterwards bowing His head, shows every appearance of a sudden 
death. The centurion has been bribed not to allow any of His 
bones to be broken. Then comes Joseph of Ramath, as Bahrdt 
prefers to call Joseph of Arimathea, and removes the body to the 
cave of the Essenes, where he immediately commences measures of 
resuscitation. As Luke had prepared the body of the Messiah by 
means of strengthening medicines to resist the fearful ill-usage 
which He had gone through the being dragged about and beaten 
and finally crucified these efforts were crowned with success. In 
the cave the most strengthening nutriment was supplied to Him. 
"Since the humours of the body were in a thoroughly healthy 
condition, His wounds healed very readily, and by the third day 
He was able to walk, in spite of the fact that the wounds made by 
the nails were still open." 

On the morning of the third day they forced away the stone 
which closed the mouth of the grave. As Jesus was descending 
the rocky slopes the watch awakened and took to flight in alarm. 
One of the Essenes appeared, in the garb of an angel, to the 
women and announced to them the resurrection of Jesus. Shortly 
afterwards the Lord appeared to Mary. At the sound of His 
voice she recognises Him. "Thereupon Jesus tells her that He 
is going to His Father (to heaven in the mystic sense of the 
word that is to say, to the Chosen Ones in their peaceful dwell- 
ings of truth and blessedness to the circle of His faithful friends, 
among whom He continued to live, unseen by the world, but still 
working for the advancement of His purpose). He bade her tell 
His disciples that He was alive." 

From His place of concealment He appeared several times to 
His disciples. Finally He bade them meet Him at the Mount of 
Olives, near Bethany, and there took leave of them. After ex- 
horting them, and embracing each of them in turn, He tore 
Himself away from them and walked away up the mountain. 
"There stood those poor men, amazed beside themselves with 
sorrow and looked after Him as long as they could. But as He 
mounted higher, He entered ever deeper into the cloud which lay 
upon the hill-top, until finally He was no longer to be seen. The 
cloud received Him out of their sight." 

From the mountain He returned to the chief lodge of the 


Brotherhood. Only at rare intervals did He again intervene in 
active life as on the occasion when He appeared to Paul upon 
the road to Damascus. But, though unseen, He continued to 
direct the destinies of the community until His death. 

Venturini's " Non-supernatural History of the Great Prophet of 
Nazareth " is related to Bahrdt's work as the finished picture to the 

Karl Heinrich Venturini was born at Brunswick in 1768. On 
the completion of his theological studies he vainly endeavoured to 
secure a post as Decent in the theological faculty at Helmstadt, or 
as Librarian at Wolfenbiittel. 

His life was blameless and his personal piety beyond reproach, 
but he was considered to be too free in his ideas. The Duke of 
Brunswick was personally well disposed towards him, but did not 
venture to give him a post on the teaching staff in face of the 
opposition of the consistories. He was reduced to earning a bare 
pittance by literary work, and finally in 1806 was thankful to 
accept a small living in Hordorf near Brunswick. He then 
abandoned theological writing and devoted his energies to recording 
the events of contemporary history, of which he published a yearly 
chronicle a proceeding which under the Napoleonic regime was 
not always unattended with risk, as he more than once had occasion 
to experience. He continued this undertaking till 1841. In 1849 
death released him from his tasks. 

Venturini's fundamental assumption is that it was impossible, 
even for the noblest spirit of mankind, to make Himself understood 
by the Judaism of His time except by clothing His spiritual teaching 
in a sensuous garb calculated to please the oriental imagination, 
" and, in general, by bringing His higher spiritual world into such 
relations with the lower sensuous world of those whom He wished 
to teach as was necessary to the accomplishment of His aims." 
" God's Messenger was morally bound to perform miracles for the 
Jews. These miracles had an ethical purpose, and were especially 
designed to counteract the impression made by the supposed miracles 
of the deceivers of the people, and thus to hasten the overthrow of 
the kingdom of Satan." 

For modern medical science the miracles are not miraculous. 
He never healed without medicaments and always carried His 
"portable medicine chest" with Him. In the case of the Syro- 
phoenician woman's daughter, for example, we can still detect in the 
narrative a hint of the actual course of events. The mother 
explains the case to Jesus. After enquiring where her dwelling was 
he made a sign to John, and continued to hold her in conversation. 
The disciple went to the daughter and gave her a sedative, and 
when the mother returned she found her child cured. 


The raisings from the dead were cases of coma. The nature- 
miracles were due to a profound acquaintance with the powers of 
Nature and the order of her processes. They involve fore-knowledge 
rather than control. 

Many miracle stories rest on obvious misunderstandings. 
Nothing could be simpler than the explanation of the miracle at 
Cana. Jesus had brought with Him as a wedding-gift some jars of 
good wine and had put them aside in another room. When the 
wine was finished and His mother became anxious, He still allowed 
the guests to wait a little, as the stone vessels for purification had not 
yet been filled with water. When that had been done He ordered 
the servants to pour out some of his wine, but to tell no one whence 
it came. When John, as an old man, wrote his Gospel, he got all 
this rather mixed up had not indeed observed it very closely at 
the time, "had perhaps been the least thing merry himself," says 
Venturini, and had believed in the miracle with the rest. Perhaps, 
too, he had not ventured to ask Jesus for an explanation, for he 
had only become His disciple a few days before. 

The members of the Essene Order had watched over the child 
Jesus even in Egypt. As He grew older they took charge of His 
education along with that of His cousin, John, and trained them 
both for their work as deliverers of the people. Whereas the nation 
as a whole looked to an insurrection as the means of its deliverance, 
they knew that freedom could only be achieved by means of a 
spiritual renewal. Once Jesus and John met a band of insurgents : 
Jesus worked on them so powerfully by His fervid speech that they 
recognised the impiousness of their purpose. One of them sprang 
towards Him and laid down his arms ; it was Simon, who afterwards 
became His disciple. 

When Jesus was about thirty years old, arid, owing to the deep 
experiences of His inner life, had really far outgrown the aims of 
the Essene Order, He entered upon His office by demanding 
baptism from John. Just as this was taking place a thunderstorm 
broke, and a dove, frightened by the lightning, fluttered round the 
head of Jesus. Both Jesus and John took this as a sign that the 
hour appointed by God had come. 

The temptations in the wilderness, and upon the pinnacle of 
the Temple, were due to the machinations of the Pharisee Zadok, 
who pretended to enter into the plans of Jesus and feigned admira- 
tion for Him in order the more surely to entrap Him. It was 
Zadok, too, who stirred up opposition to Him in the Sanhedrin. 

But Jesus did not succeed in destroying the old Messianic belief 
with its earthly aims. The hatred of the leading circles against 
Him grew, although He avoided everything " that could offend their 
prejudices." It was for this reason that He even forbade His 
disciples to preach the Gospel beyond the borders of Jewish 


territory. He paid the temple-tax, also, although he had no fixed 
abode. When the collector went to Peter about it, the following 
dialogue took place. 

Tax-collector (drawing Peter aside}. Tell me, Simon, does the 
Rabbi pay the didrachma to the Temple treasury, or should we not 
trouble Him about it ? 

Peter. Why shouldn't He pay it ? Why do you ask ? 

Tax-collector. It's been owing from both of you since last 
Nisan, as our books show. We did not like to remind your Master, 
out of reverence. 

Peter. I'll tell Him at once. He will certainly pay the tax. 
You need have no fear about that. 

Tax-collector. That's good. That will put everything straight, 
and we shall have no trouble over our accounts. Good-bye ! 

When Jesus hears of it He commands Peter to go and catch 
a fish, and to take care, in removing the hook, not to tear its 
mouth, that it may be fit for salting (!) In that case it will doubtless 
be worth a stater. 

The time arrived when an important move must be made. In 
full conclave of the Secret Society it was resolved that Jesus should 
go up to Jerusalem and there publicly proclaim Himself as the 
Messiah. Then He was to endeavour to disabuse the people of 
their earthly Messianic expectations. 

The triumphal entry succeeded. The whole people hailed Him 
with acclamations. But when He tried to substitute for their picture 
of the Messiah one of a different character, and spoke of times of 
severe trial which should come upon all, when He showed- Himself 
but seldom in the Temple, instead of taking His place at the head 
of the people, they began to doubt Him. 

Jesus was suddenly arrested and put to death. Here, then, 
the death is not, as in Bahrdt, a piece of play-acting, stage-managed 
by the Secret Society. Jesus really expected to die, and only to 
meet His disciples again in the eternal life of the other world. 
But when He so soon gave up the ghost, Joseph of Arimathea was 
moved by some vague premonition to hasten at once to Pontius 
Pilate and make request for His body. He offers the Procurator 
money. Pilate (sternly and emphatically] : " Dost thou also mistake 
me? Am I, then, such an insatiable miser? Still, thou art a 
Jew how could this people do me justice? Know, then, that a 
Roman can honour true nobility wherever he may find it. (He sits 
down and writes some words on a strip of parchment.} Give this to 
the captain of the guard. Thou shall be permitted to remove the 
body. I ask nothing for this. It is granted to thee freely." 

" A tender embrace from his wife rewarded the noble deed of 
the Roman, while Joseph left the Praetorium, and with Nicodemus, 
who was impatiently awaiting him, hastened to Golgotha." There 


he received the body ; he washed it, anointed it with spices, and 
laid it on a bed of moss in the rock-hewn grave. From the blood 
which was still flowing from the wound in the side, he ventured 
to draw a hopeful augury, and sent word to the Essene Brethren. 
They had a hold close by, and promised to watch over the body. 
In the first four-and-twenty hours no movement of life showed 
itself. Then came the earthquake. In the midst of the terrible 
commotion a Brother, in the white robes of the Order, was making 
his way to the grave by a secret path. When he, illumined by a flash 
of lightning, suddenly appeared above the grave, and at the same 
moment the earth shook violently, panic seized the watch, and they 
fled. In the morning the Brother hears a sound from the grave : 
Jesus is moving. The whole Order hastens to the spot, and Jesus 
is removed to their Lodge. Two brethren remain at the grave 
these were the " angels " whom the women saw later. Jesus, in 
the dress of a gardener, is afterwards recognised by Mary Magdalene. 
Later, He comes out at intervals from the hiding-place, where He 
is kept by the Brethren, and appears to the disciples. After forty 
days He took His leave of them : His strength was exhausted. 
The farewell scene gave rise to the mistaken impression of His 

From the historical point of view these lives are not such 
contemptible performances as might be supposed. There is 
much penetrating observation in them. Bahrdt and Venturini are 
right in feeling that the connexion of events in the life of Jesus 
has to be discovered ; the Gospels give only a series of occurrences, 
and offer no explanation why they happened just as they did. 
And if, in making Jesus subservient to the plans of a secret society, 
they represented Him as not acting with perfect freedom, but as 
showing a certain passivity, this assumption of theirs was to be 
brilliantly vindicated, a hundred years later, by the eschatological 
school, which asserts the same remarkable passivity on the part of 
Jesus, in that He allows His actions to be determined, not indeed 
by a secret society, but by the eschatological plan of God. Bahrdt 
and Venturini were the first to see that, of all Jesus' acts, His death 
was most distinctively His own, because it was by this that He 
purposed to found the kingdom. 

Venturini's " Non-supernatural History of the Great Prophet of 
Nazareth " may almost be said to be reissued annually down to the 
present day, for all the fictitious "Lives" go back directly or 
indirectly to the type which he created. It is plagiarised more 
freely than any other Life of Jesus, although practically unknown 
by name. 


Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob Paulus. Das Leben Jesu als Grundlage einer reinen 
Geschichte des Qrchristentums. Heidelberg, C. F. Winter. (The Life of Jesus 
as the Basis of a purely Historical Account of Early Christianity.) 1828. 
2 vols. , 1192 pp. 

Freut euch mit Gottesandacht, wenn es gewahrt euch ist, 
Dem, so kurz er war, weltumschaffenden Lebensgang 

Nach Jahrhunderten fern zu folgen, 

De.nket, glaubet, folget des Vorbildes Spur ! 

(Closing words of vol. ii. ) 

(Rejoice with grateful devotion, if unto you 'tis permitted, 
After the lapse of centuries, still to follow afar off 
That Life which, short as it was, changed the course of the ages ; 
Think ye well, and believe ; follow the path of our Pattern.) 

PAULUS was not the mere dry-as-dust rationalist that he is usually 
represented to have been, but a man of very versatile abilities. 
His limitation was that, like Reinhard, he had an unconquerable 
distrust of anything that went outside the boundaries of logical 
thought. That was due in part to the experiences of his youth. 
His father, a deacon in Leonberg, half-mystic, half-rationalist, had 
secret difficulties about the doctrine of immortality, and made his 
wife promise on her death-bed that, if it were possible, she would 
appear to him after her death in bodily form. After she was dead 
he thought he saw her raise herself to a sitting posture, and again 
sink down. From that time onwards he firmly believed himself to 
be in communication with departed spirits, and he became so 
dominated by this idea that in 1771 he had to be removed from 
his office. His children suffered sorely from a rtgime of com- 
pulsory spiritualism, which pressed hardest upon Heinrich Eberhard 
Gottlob, born in 1761, who, for the sake of peace, was obliged to 
pretend to his father that he was in communication with his 
mother's spirit. 

He himself had inherited only the rationalistic side of his 
father's temperament. As a student at the Tubingen Stift 
(theological institute) he formed his views on the writings of 



Semler and Michaelis. In 1789 he was called to Jena as 
Professor of Oriental Languages, and succeeded in 1793 to the third 
ordinary professorship of theology. The naturalistic interpretation 
of miracles which he upheld in his commentary on the Synoptic 
Gospels, published in 1800-1802, aroused the indignation of the 
consistories of Meiningen and Eisenach. But their petition for his 
removal from the professorship was unsuccessful, since Herder, who 
was president of the consistorium, used his influence to protect 
him. In 1799 Paulus, as Pro-rector, used his influence on behalf of 
his colleague Fichte, who was attacked on the ground of atheism ; 
but in vain, owing to the passionate conduct of the accused. 

With Goethe, Schiller, and Wieland, Paulus and his wife, a 
lively lady of some literary talents, stood in the most friendly 

When the Jena circle began to break up, he accepted, in 1803, 
an invitation from the Elector of Bavaria, Maximilian Joseph II., 
to go to Wiirzburg as Konsistorialrat and professor. There the 
liberal minister, Montgelas, was desirous of establishing a university 
founded on the principles of illuminism Schelling^Hufeland, and 
Schleiermacher were among those whom he contemplated appointing 
as Docents. Here the Catholic theological students were obliged 
to attend the lectures of the Protestant professor of theology, as 
there were no Protestants to form an audience. His first course 
was on " Encyclopadie " (i.e. introduction to the literature of 

The plan failed. Paulus resigned his professorship and became 
in 1807 a member of the Bavarian educational council (Schulrai). 
In this capacity he worked at the reorganisation of the Bavarian 
school system at the time when Hegel was similarly engaged. He 
gave four years to this task, which he felt to be laid upon him as 
a duty. Then, in 1811, he went to Heidelberg as professor of 
theology; and he remained there until his death, in 1851, at the 
age of ninety. One of his last sayings, a few hours before he died, 
was, "I am justified before God, through my desire to do right." 
His last words were, " There is another world." 

The forty years of his Heidelberg period were remarkably 
productive; there was no department of knowledge on which he 
did not write. He expressed his views about homoeopathy, about 
the freedom of the Press, about academic freedom, and about the 
duelling nuisance. In 1831, he wrote upon the Jewish Question; 
and there the veteran rationalist showed himself a bitter anti-Semite, 
and brought upon himself the scorn of Heine. On politics 
and constitutional questions he fought for his opinions so openly 
and manfully that he had to be warned to be more discreet. 
In philosophy he took an especially keen interest. When in Jena 
he had, in conjunction with Schiller, busied himself in the study 


of Kant. He did a particularly meritorious service in preparing 
an edition of Spinoza's writings, with a biography of that thinker, 
in 1803, at the time when neo-Spinozism was making its influence 
felt in German philosophy. He constituted himself the special 
guardian of philosophy, and the moment he detected the slightest 
hint of mysticism, he sounded the alarm. His pet aversion was 
Schelling, who was born fourteen years later than he, in the very 
same house at Leonberg, and whom he had met as colleague at 
Jena and at Wiirzburg. The works, avowed and anonymous, 
which he directed against this "charlatan, juggler, swindler, and 
obscurantist," as he designated him, fill an entire library. 

In 1841, Schelling was called to the chair of philosophy in 
Berlin, and in the winter of 1841-1842 he gave his lectures on 
"The Philosophy of Revelation" which caused the Berlin 
reactionaries to hail him as their great ally. The veteran 
rationalist he was eighty years old was transported with rage. 
He had had the lectures taken down for him, and he published 
them with critical remarks under the title "The Philosophy of 
Revelation at length Revealed, and set forth for General Examina- 
tion, by Dr. H. E. G. Paulus " (Darmstadt, 1842). Schelling was 
furious, and dragged "the impudent scoundrel" into a court of 
law on the charge of illicit publication. In Prussia the book was 
suppressed. But the courts decided in favour of Paulus, who 
coolly explained that " the philosophy of Schelling appeared to him 
an insidious attack upon sound reason, the unmasking of which 
by every possible means was a work of public utility, nay, even a 
duty." He also secured the result at which he aimed ; Schelling 
resigned his lectureship. 

In his last days the veteran rationalist was an isolated survival 
from an earlier age into a period which no longer understood him. 
The new men reproached him for standing in the old ways; he 
accused them of a want of honesty. It was just in his immobility 
and his one-sidedness that his significance lay. By his consistent 
carrying through of the rationalistic explanation he performed a 
service to theology more valuable than those who think themselves 
so vastly his superiors are willing to acknowledge. 

His Life of Jesus is awkwardly arranged. The first part gives 
a historical exposition of the Gospels, section by section. The 
second part is a synopsis interspersed with supplementary matter. 
There is no attempt to grasp the life of Jesus as a connected 
whole. In that respect he is far inferior to Venturini. Strictly 
regarded, his work is only a harmony of the gospels with explanatory 
comments, the ground plan of which is taken from the Fourth 
Gospel. 1 

1 A Life of Jesus which is completely dependent on the Commentaries of Paulus 
is that of Greiling, superintendent at Aschersleben, Das Leben Jesu -von Nazareth. 


The main interest centres in the explanations of the miracles, 
though the author, it must be admitted, endeavoured to guard 
against this. "It is my chief desire," he writes in his preface, "that 
my views regarding the miracle stories should not be taken as by 
any means the principal thing. How empty would devotion or 
religion be if one's spiritual well-being depended on whether one 
believed in miracles or no ! " " The truly miraculous thing about 
Jesus is Himself, the purity and serene holiness of His character, 
which is, notwithstanding, genuinely human, and adapted to the 
imitation and emulation of mankind." 

The question of miracle is therefore a subsidiary question. 
Two points of primary importance are certain from the outset : 
(i) that unexplained alterations of the course of nature can neither 
overthrow nor attest a spiritual truth, (2) that everything which 
happens in nature emanates from the omnipotence of God. 

The Evangelists intended to relate miracles ; of that there can 
be no doubt. Nor can any one deny that in their time miracles 
entered into the plan of God, in the sense that the minds of men 
were to be astounded and subdued by inexplicable facts. This 
effect, however, is past. In periods to which the miraculous makes 
less appeal, in view of the advance in intellectual culture of the 
nations which have been led to accept Christianity, the understanding 
must be satisfied if the success of the cause is to be maintained. 

Since that which is produced by the laws of nature is really 
produced by God, the Biblical miracles consist merely in the fact 
that eyewitnesses report events of which they did not know the 
secondary causes. Their knowledge of the laws of nature was 
insufficient to enable them to understand what actually happened. 
For one who has discovered the secondary causes, the fact remains, 
as such, but not the miracle. 

The question of miracle, therefore, dpes not really exist, or 
exists only for those " who are under the influence of the sceptical 
delusion that it is possible really to think any kind of natural powers 
as existing apart from God, or to think the Being of God apart from 
the primal potentialities which unfold themselves in the never- 
ceasing process of Becoming." The difficulty arises from the 
" original sin " of dissolving the inner unity of God and nature, 
of denying the equivalence implied by Spinoza in his " Deus sive 

For the normal intelligence the only problem is to discover the 
secondary causes of the " miracles " of Jesus. It is true there is 
one miracle which Paulus retains the miracle of the birth, or at 
least the possibility of it ; in the sense that it is through holy 

Bin religioses Handbuch fur Geist und Herz der Freunde Jesu unter den Gebildeten. 
.(The Life of Jesus of Nazareth, a religious Handbook for the Minds and Hearts of the 
Friends of Jesus among the Cultured. ) Halle, 1813. 


inspiration that Mary receives the hope and the power of conceiving 
her exalted Son, in whom the spirit of the Messiah takes up its 
dwelling. Here he indirectly denies the natural generation, and 
regards the conception as an act of the self-consciousness of the 

With the miracles of healing, however, the case is very simple. 
Sometimes Jesus worked through His spiritual power upon the 
nervous system of the sufferer ; sometimes He used medicines known 
to Him alone. The latter applies, for instance, to the cures of the 
blind. The disciples, too, as appears from Mark vi. 7 and 13, were 
not sent out without medicaments, for the oil with which they were 
to anoint the sick was, of course, of a medicinal character ; and the 
casting out of evil spirits was effected partly by means of sedatives. 

Diet and after-treatment played a great part, though the 
Evangelists say little about this because directions on these points 
would not be given publicly. Thus, the saying, "This kind goeth 
not out save by prayer and fasting," is interpreted as an instruction 
to the father as to the way in which he could make the sudden 
cure of the epileptic into a permanent one, viz. by keeping him to 
a strict diet and strengthening his character by devotional exercises. 

The nature miracles suggest their own explanation. The 
walking on the water was an illusion of the disciples. Jesus walked 
along the shore, and in the mist was taken for a ghost by the alarmed 
and excited occupants of the boat. When Jesus called to them, 
Peter threw himself into the water, and was drawn to shore by 
Jesus just as he was sinking. Immediately after taking Jesus into 
the boat they doubled a headland and drew clear of the storm centre ; 
they therefore supposed that He had calmed the sea by His command. 
It was the same in the case where He was asleep during the storm. 
When they waked Him He spoke to them about the wind and the 
weather. At that moment they gained the shelter of a hill which 
protected them from the wind that swept down the valley; and 
they marvelled among themselves that even the winds and the sea 
obeyed their Messiah. 

The feeding of the five thousand is explained in the following 
way. When Jesus saw the multitude an hungered, He said to His 
disciples, " We will set the rich people among them a good example, 
that they may share their supplies with the others," and he began 
to distribute His own provisions, and those of the disciples, to the 
people who were sitting near them. The example had its effect, 
and soon there was plenty for every one. 

The explanation of the transfiguration is somewhat more 
complicated. While Jesus was lingering with a few followers in 
this mountainous district He had an interview upon a high 
mountain at night with two dignified-looking men whom His three 
companions took for Moses and Elias. These unknown persons, 


as we learn from Luke ix. 31, informed Him of the fate which awaited 
Him at Jerusalem. In the early morning, as the sun was rising, the 
three disciples, only half awake, looked upwards from the hollow in 
which they had been sleeping and saw Jesus with the two strangers 
upon the higher part of the mountain, illuminated by the beams 
of the rising sun, and heard them speak, now of the fate which 
threatened Him in the capital, now of the duty of steadfastness 
and the hopes attached thereto, and finally heard an exhortation 
addressed to themselves, bidding them ever to hold Jesus to be 
the beloved Son of the Deity, whom they must obey. . . . Their 
drowsiness, and the clouds which in an autumnal sunrise float to 
and fro over those mountains, 1 left them no clear recollection of 
what had happened. This only added to the wonder of the vague 
undefined impression of having been in contact with apparitions 
from a higher sphere. The three who had been with Him on the 
mount never arrived at any more definite knowledge of the facts, 
because Jesus forbade them to speak of what they had seen until 
the end should come. 

In dealing with the raisings from the dead the author is in his 
element. Here he is ready with the unfailing explanation taken 
over from Bahrdt that they were only cases of coma. These 
narratives should not be headed "raisings from the dead," but 
"deliverances from premature burial." In Judaea, interment took 
place three hours after death. How many seemingly dead people 
may have returned to consciousness in their graves, and then have 
perished miserably ! Thus Jesus, owing to a presentiment suggested 
to Him by the father's story, saves the daughter of Jairus from being 
buried while in a cataleptic trance. A similar presentiment led 
Him to remove the covering of the bier which He met at the gate 
of Nain, and to discover traces of life in the widow's son. A 
similar instinct moved Him to ask to be taken to the grave of 
Lazarus. When the stone is rolled away He sees His friend stand- 
ing upright and calls to him joyfully, " Come forth ! " 

The Jewish love of miracle " caused everything to be ascribed 
immediately to the Deity, and secondary causes to be overlooked ; 
consequently no thought was unfortunately given to the question of 
how to prevent these horrible cases of premature burial from taking 
place ! " But why does it not appear strange to Paulus that Jesus 
did not enlighten His countrymen as to the criminal character of 
over-hasty burial, instead of allowing even his closest followers to 
believe in miracle ? Here the hypothesis condemns itself, although 
it has a foundation of fact, in so far as cases of premature burial are 
abnormally frequent in the East. 

1 Paulus prided himself on a very exact acquaintance with the physical and 
geographical conditions of Palestine. He had a wide knowledge of the literature of 
Eastern travel. TRANSLATOR. 


The resurrection of Jesus must be brought under the same 
category if we are to hold fast to the facts that the disciples saw 
Him in His natural body with the print of the nails in His hands, 
and that He took food in their presence. Death from crucifixion 
was in fact due to a condition of rigor, which extended gradually 
inwards. It was the slowest of all deaths. Josephus mentions in his 
Contra Apionem that it was granted to him as a favour by Titus, at 
Tekoa, that he might have three crucified men whom he knew taken 
down from the cross. Two of them died, but one recovered. Jesus, 
however, "died" surprisingly quickly. The loud cry which he uttered 
immediately before His head sank shows that His strength was far 
from being exhausted, and that what supervened was only a death- 
like trance. In such trances the process of dying continues until 
corruption sets in. " This alone proves that the process is complete 
and that death has actually taken place." 

In the case of Jesus, as in that of others, the vital spark 
would have been gradually extinguished, had not Providence 
mysteriously effected on behalf of its favourite that which in the 
case of others was sometimes effected in more obvious ways by 
human skill and care. The lance-thrust, which we are to think of 
rather as a mere surface wound, served the purpose of a phlebotomy. 
The cool grave and the aromatic unguents continued the process 
of resuscitation, until finally the storm and the earthquake aroused 
Jesus to full consciousness. Fortunately the earthquake also had 
the effect of rolling away the stone from the mouth of the grave. 
The Lord stripped off the grave-clothes and put on a gardener's 
dress which He managed to procure. That was what made Mary, 
as we are told in John xx. 1 5, take Him for the gardener. Through 
the women, He sends a message to His disciples bidding them 
meet Him in Galilee, and Himself sets out to go thither. At 
Emmaus, as the dusk was falling, He met two of His followers, who 
at first failed to recognise Him because His countenance was so 
disfigured by His sufferings. But His manner of giving thanks at 
the breaking of bread, and the nail-prints in His uplifted hands, 
revealed to them who He was. From them He learns where His 
disciples are, returns to Jerusalem, and appears unexpectedly among 
them. This is the explanation of the apparent contradiction 
between the message pointing to Galilee and the appearances in 
Jerusalem. Thomas wasf not present at this first appearance, and 
at a later interview was suffered to put his hand into the marks of 
the wounds. It is a misunderstanding to see a reproach in the 
words which Jesus addresses to him. What, then, is the meaning 
of " Blessed are they that have not seen and have believed " ? It 
is a benediction upon Thomas for what he has done in the interests 
of later generations. "Now," Jesus says, "thou, Thomas, art 
convinced because thou hast so unmistakably seen Me. It is 


well for those who now or in the future shall not see Me; for 
after this they can feel a firm conviction, because thou hast 
convinced thyself so completely that to thee, whose hands have 
touched Me, no possible doubt can remain of My corporeal re- 
animation." Had it not been for Thomas's peculiar mental 
constitution we should not have known whether what was seen 
was a phantom or a real appearance of the reanimated Jesus. 

In this way Jesus lived with them for forty days, spending part 
of that time with them in Galilee. In consequence of the ill- 
treatment which He had undergone, He was not capable of con- 
tinuous exertion. He lived quietly and gathered strength for the 
brief moments in which He appeared among His own followers 
and taught them. When He felt his end drawing near He returned 
to Jerusalem. On the Mount of Olives, in the early sunlight, He 
assembled His followers for the last time. He lifted up His hands 
to bless them, and with hands still raised in benediction He moved 
away from them. A cloud interposes itself between them and 
Him, so that their eyes cannot follow Him. As he disappeared 
there stood before them, clothed in white, the two dignified figures 
whom the three disciples who were present at the transfiguration 
had taken for Moses and Elias, but who were really among the 
secret adherents of Jesus in Jerusalem. These men exhorted them 
not to stand waiting there but to be up and doing. 

Where Jesus really died they never knew, and so they came to 
describe His departure as an ascension. 

This Life of Jesus is not written without feeling. At times, in 
moments of exaltation, the writer even dashes into verse. If only 
the lack of all natural aesthetic feeling did not ruin everything ! 
Paulus constantly falls into a style that sets the teeth on edge. 
The episode of the death of the Baptist is headed "Court-and- 
Priest intrigues enhance themselves to a judicial murder." Much 
is spoiled by a kind of banality. Instead of "disciples," he always 
says "pupils," instead of "faith," "sincerity of conviction." The 
appeal which the father of the lunatic boy addresses to Jesus, " Lord, 
I believe, help thou my unbelief," runs "I am sincerely convinced; 
help me, even if there is anything lacking in the sincerity of my 

The beautiful saying in the story of Martha and Mary, " One 
thing is needful," is interpreted as meaning that a 'single course 
will be sufficient for the meal. 1 The scene in the home at Bethany 
rejoices in the heading, " Geniality of Jesus among sympathetic 
friends in a hospitable family circle at Bethany. A Messiah with 
no stiff solemnity about Him." The following is the explanation 

1 This interpretation, it ought to be remarked, seems to be implied by the 
ancient reading. "Few things are needful, or one," given in the margin of the 
Revised Version. TRANSLATOR. 


which Paulus discovers for the saying about the tribute-money : 
" So long as you need the Romans to maintain some sort of order 
among you," says Jesus, "you must provide the means thereto. If 
you were fit to be independent you would not need to serve any one 
but God." 

Among the historical problems, Paulus is especially interested 
in the idea of the Messiahship, and in the motives of the betrayal. 
His sixty-five pages on the history of the conception of the Messiah are 
a real contribution to the subject. The Messianic idea, he explains, 
goes back to the Davidic kingdom ; the prophets raised it to a 
higher religious plane ; in the times of the Maccabees the ideal of 
the kingly Messiah perished and its place was taken by that of 
the super-earthly deliverer. The only mistake which Paulus makes 
is in supposing that the post-Maccabean period went back to the 
political ideal of the Davidic king. On the other hand, he rightly 
interprets the death of Jesus as the deed by which He thought to 
win the Messiahship proper to the Son of Man. 

With reference to the question of the High Priest at the trial, 
he remarks that it does not refer to the metaphysical Divine Son- 
ship, but to the Messiahship in the ancient Jewish sense, and 
accordingly Jesus answers by pointing to the coming of the Son of 

The importance of eschatology in the preaching of Jesus is 
clearly recognised, but Paulus proceeds to nullify this recognition 
by making the risen Lord cut short all the questions of the disciples 
in regard to this subject with the admonition " that in whatever way 
all this should come about, and whether soon or late, their business 
was to see that they had done their own part." 

How did Judas come to play the traitor ? He believed in the 
Messiahship of Jesus and wanted to force Him to declare Himself. 
To bring about His arrest seemed to Judas the best means of 
rousing the people to take His side openly. But the course of 
events was too rapid for him. Owing to the Feast the news of the 
arrest spread but slowly. In the night " when people were sleeping 
off the effects of the Passover supper," Jesus was condemned; in 
the morning, before they were well awake, He was hurried away to 
be crucified. Then Judas was overcome with despair, and went 
and hanged himself. "Judas stands before us in the history of 
the Passion as a warning example of those who allow their cleverness 
to degenerate into cunning, and persuade themselves that it is 
permissible to do evil that good may come to seek good objects, 
which they really value, by intrigue and chicanery. And the 
underlying cause of their errors is that they have failed to overcome 
their passionate desire for self-advancement.'.' 

Such was the consistently rationalistic Life of Jesus, which 
evoked so much opposition at the time of its appearance, and 


seven years later received its death-blow at the hands of Strauss. 
The method is doomed to failure because the author only saves his 
own sincerity at the expense of that of his characters. He makes 
the disciples of Jesus see miracles where they could not possibly 
have seen them ; and makes Jesus Himself allow miracles to be 
imagined where He must necessarily have protested against such a 
delusion. His exegesis, too, is sometimes violent. But in this, 
who has the right to judge him ? If the theologians dragged him 
before the Lord, He would command, as of old, "Let him that 
is without sin among you cast the first stone at him," and Paulus 
would go forth unharmed. 

Moreover, a number of his explanations are right in principle. 
The feeding of the multitudes and the walking on the sea must be 
explained somehow or other as misunderstandings of something 
that actually happened. And how many of Paulus' ideas are still 
going about in all sorts of disguises, and crop up again and again 
in commentaries and Lives of Jesus, especially in those of 
the " anti-rationalists " ! Nowadays it belongs to the complete 
duty of the well-trained theologian to renounce the rationalists and 
all their works ; and yet how poor our time is in comparison with 
theirs how poor in strong men capable of loyalty to an ideal, how 
poor, so far as theology is concerned, in simple commonplace 
sincerity ! 



Karl August Ease. Das Leben Jesu zunachst fur akademische Studien. (The Life 
of Jesus, primarily for the use of students.) 1829. 205 pp. This work 
contains a bibliography of the earliest literature of tn"e~subject. 5th ed., 1865. 

Friedrich Ernst Daniel Schleiermacher. Das Leben Jesu. 18*64.. Edited by 
Rutenik. The edition is based upon a student's note-book of a course of 
lectures delivered in 1832. 

David Friedrich Strauss. Der Christus des Glaubens und der Jesus der Geschichte. 
Eine Kritik des Schleiermacher 'schen Lebens Jesu. (The Christ of Faith and 
the Jesus of History. A criticism of Schleiermacher's Life of Jesus.) 1865. 

IN their treatment of the life of Jesus, Hase and Schleiermacher 
are in one respect still wholly dominated by rationalism. They 
still cling to the rationalistic explanation of miracle ; although they 
have no longer the same ingenuous confidence in it as their 
predecessors, and although at the decisive cases they are content 
to leave a question-mark instead of offering a solution. They 
might, in fact, be described as the sceptics of rationalism. In 
another respect, however, they aim at something beyond the range 
of rationalism, inasmuch as they endeavour to grasp the inner 
connexion of the events of Jesus' ministry, which in Paulus had 
entirely fallen out of sight. Their Lives of Jesus are transitional, in 
the good sense of the word as well as in the bad. In respect of 
progress, Hase shows himself the greater of the two. 

Scarcely thirteen years have elapsed since the death of the 
great Jena professor, his Excellency von Hase, and already we 
think of him as a man of the past. Theology has voted to inscribe 
his name upon its records in letters of gold and has passed on to 
the order of the day. He was no pioneer like Baur, and he does 
not meet the present age on the footing of a contemporary, offering 
it problems raised by him and still unsolved. Even his " Church 
History," with its twelve editions, has already had its day, although 
it is still the most brilliantly written work in this department, and 
conceals beneath its elegance of form a massive erudition. He 


K. A. HASE 59 

was more than a theologian ; he was one of the finest monuments 
of German culture, the living embodiment of a period which 
for us lies under the sunset glow of the past, in the land of 
" once upon a time." 

His path in life was unembarrassed; he knew toil, but not 
disappointment. Born in 1800, he finished his studies at Tubingen, 
where he qualified as a Privat-Docent in 1823. In 1824-1825 he 
spent eleven months in the fortress of Hohenasperg, where he 
was confined for taking the part of the Burschenschaften, 1 and 
had leisure for meditation and literary plans. In 1830 he went 
to Jena, where, with a yearly visit to Italy to lay in a store of 
sunshine and renewed strength, he worked until 1890. 

Not without a certain reverence does one take this little text- 
book of 205 pages into one's hands. This is the first attempt by 
' a fully equipped scholar to reconstruct the life of Jesus on a purely 
historical basis. There is more creative power in it than in almost 
any of his later works. It manifests already the brilliant qualities 
of style for which he was distinguished clearness, terseness, 
elegance. What a contrast with that of Bahrdt, Venturini, or 
Paulus ! 

And yet the keynote of the work is rationalistic, since Hase 
has recourse to the rationalistic explanation of miracles wherever 
that appears possible. He seeks to make the circumstances of the 
baptism intelligible by supposing the appearance of a meteor. In 
the story of the transfiguration, the fact which is to be retained is 
that Jesus, in the company of two unknown persons, appeared to 
the disciples in unaccustomed splendour. Their identification of 
His companions as Moses and Elias is a conclusion which is not 
confirmed by Jesus, and owing to the position of the eyewitnesses, 
is not sufficiently guaranteed by their testimony. The abrupt 
breaking off of the interview by the Master, and the injunction of 
silence, point to some secret circumstance in His history. By this 
hint Hase seems to leave room for the " secret society " of Bahrdt 
and Venturini. 

He makes no difficulty about the explanation of the story of 
the stater. It is only intended to show " how the Messiah avoided 
offence in submitting Himself to the financial burdens of the 
community." In regard to the stilling of the storm, it seems 
uncertain whether Jesus through His knowledge of nature was 
enabled to predict the end of the storm or whether He brought it 
about by the possession of power over nature. The " sceptic of 
rationalism " thus leaves open the possibility of miracle. He 
proceeds somewhat similarly in explaining the raisings from the 
dead. They can be made intelligible by supposing that they 
were cases of coma, but it is also possible to look upon them as 
1 Associations of students, at that time of a political character. TRANSLATOR. 


supernatural. For the two great Johannine miracles, the change of 
the water into wine and the increase of the loaves, no naturalistic 
explanation can be admitted. But how unsuccessful is his attempt 
to make the increase of the bread intelligible ! " Why should not 
the bread have been increased ? " he asks. " If nature every year 
in the period between seed-time and harvest performs a similar 
miracle, nature might also, by unknown laws, bring it about in 
a moment." Here crops up the dangerous anti-rationalistic 
intellectual supernaturalism which sometimes brings Hase and 
Schleiermacher very close to the frontiers of the territory occupied 
by the disingenuous reactionaries. 

The crucial point is the explanation of the resurrection of Jesus. 
A stringent proof that death had actually taken place cannot, 
according to Hase, be given, since there is no evidence that 
corruption had set in, and that is the only infallible sign of death. 
It is possible, therefore, that the resurrection was only a return to 
consciousness after a trance. But the direct impression made by 
the sources points rather to a supernatural event. Either view is 
compatible with the Christian faith. " Both the historically possible 
views either that the Creator gave new life to a body which was 
really dead, or that the latent life reawakened in a body which 
was only seemingly dead recognise in the resurrection a manifest 
proof of the care of Providence for the cause of Jesus, and are 
therefore both to be recognised as Christian, whereas a third view 
that Jesus gave Himself up to his enemies in order to defeat 
them by the bold stroke of a seeming death and a skilfully prepared 
resurrection is as contrary to historical criticism as to Christian 

Hase, however, quietly lightens the difficulty of the miracle 
question in a way which must not be overlooked. For the 
rationalists all miracles stood on the same footing, and all must 
equally be abolished by a naturalistic explanation. If we study 
Hase carefully, we find that he accepts only the Johannine miracles 
as authentic, whereas those of the Synoptists may be regarded as 
resting upon a misunderstanding on the part of the authors, because 
they are not reported at first hand, but from tradition. Thus the 
discrimination of the two lines of Gospel tradition comes to the 
aid of the anti-rationalists, and enables them to get rid of some of 
the greatest difficulties. Half playfully, it might almost be said, 
they sketch out the ideas of Strauss, without ever suspecting what 
desperate earnest the game will become, if the authenticity of the 
Fourth Gospel has to be given up. 

Hase surrenders the birth-story and the "legends of the 
Childhood" the expression is his own almost without striking 
a blow. The same fate befalls all the incidents in which angels 
figure, and the miracles at the time of the death of Jesus. He 


describes these as "mythical touches." The ascension is merely 
"a mythical version of His departure to the Father." 

Hase's conception even of the non-miraculous portion of the 
history of Jesus is not free from rationalistic traits. He indulges in 
the following speculations with regard to the celibacy of the Lord. 
" If the true grounds of the celibacy of Jesus do not lie hidden in 
the special circumstances of His youthj the conjecture may be per- 
mitted that He from whose religion was to go forth the ideal view 
of marriage, so foreign to the ideas of antiquity, found in His own 
time no heart worthy to enter into this covenant with Him." It is 
on rationalistic lines also that Hase explains the betrayal by Judas. 
"A purely intellectual, worldly, and unscrupulous character, he 
desired to compel the hesitating Messiah to found His Kingdom 
upon popular violence. ... It is possible that Judas in his 
terrible blindness took that last word addressed to him by Jesus, 
'What thou doest, do quickly,' as giving consent to his plan." 

But Hase again rises superior to this rationalistic conception of 
the history when he refuses to explain away the Jewish elements in 
the plan and preaching of Jesus as due to mere accommodation, 
and maintains the view that the Lord really, to a certain extent, 
shared this Jewish system of ideas. According to Hase there are 
two periods in the Messianic activity of Jesus. In the first He 
accepted almost without reservation the popular ideas regarding 
the Messianic age. In consequence, however, of His experience of 
the practical results of these ideas, He was led to abandon this 
error, and in the second period He developed His own distinctive 
views. Here we meet for the first time the idea of two different 
periods in the life of Jesus, which, especially through the influence 
of Holtzmann and Keim, became the prevailing view, and down to 
Johannes Weiss, determined the plan of all Lives of Jesus. Hase 
created the modern historico-psychological picture of Jesus. The 
introduction of this more penetrating psychology would alone suffice 
to place him in advance of the rationalists. 

Another interesting point is the thorough way in which he 
traces out the historical and literary consequences of this idea of 
development. The apostles, he thinks, did not understand this 
progress of thought on the part of Jesus, and did not distinguish 
between the sayings of the first and second periods. They re- 
mained wedded to the eschatological view. After the death of 
Jesus this view prevailed so strongly in the primitive community of 
disciples that they interpolated their expectations into the last dis- 
courses of Jesus. According to Hase, the apocalyptic discourse in 
Matt. xxiv. was originally only a prediction of the judgment upon and 
destruction of Jerusalem, but this was obscured later by the influx 
of the eschatological views of the apostolic community. Only John 
remained free from this error. Therefore the non-eschatological 


Fourth Gospel preserves in their pure form the ideas of Jesus in 
His second period. 

Hase rightly observes that the Messiahship of Jesus plays next 
to no part in His preaching, at any rate at first, and that, before 
the incident at Caesarea Philippi, it was only in moments of 
enthusiastic admiration, rather than with settled conviction, that 
even the disciples looked on Him as the Messiah. This indication 
of the central importance of the declaration of the Messiahship at 
Caesarea Philippi is another sign-post pointing out the direction 
which the future study of the life of Jesus was to follow. 

Schleiermacher's Life of Jesus introduces us to quite a different 
order of transitional ideas. Its value lies in the sphere of dogmatics, 
not of history. Nowhere, indeed, is it so clear that the great 
dialectician had not really a historical mind than precisely in his 
treatment of the history of Jesus. 

From the first it was no favourable star which presided over 
this undertaking. It is true that in 1819 Schleiermacher was the 
first theologian who had ever lectured upon this subject. But his 
Life of Jesus did not appear until 1864. Its publication had been 
so long delayed, partly because it had to be reconstructed from 
students' note- books, partly because immediately after Schleier- 
macher, in 1832, had delivered the course for the last time, it was 
rendered obsolete by the work of Strauss. For the questions 
raised by the latter's Life of Jesus, published in 1835, Schleier- 
macher had no answer, and for the wounds which it made, no 
healing. When, in 1864, Schleiermacher's work was brought forth 
to view like an embalmed corse, Strauss accorded to the dead 
work of the great theologian a dignified and striking funeral 

Schleiermacher is not in search of the historical Jesus, but of 
the Jesus Christ of his own system of theology ; that is to say, of 
the historic figure which seems to him appropriate to the self- 
consciousness of the Redeemer as he represents it. For him ,the 
empirical has simply no existence. A natural psychology is 
scarcely attempted. He comes to the facts with a ready-made 
dialectic apparatus and sets his puppets in lively action. Schleier- 
macher's dialectic is not a dialectic which generates reality, like 
that of Hegel, of which Strauss availed himself, but merely a 
dialectic of exposition. In this literary dialectic he is the greatest 
master that ever lived. 

The limitations of the historical Jesus both in an upward and 
downward direction are those only which apply equally to the 
Jesus of dogma. The uniqueness of His Divine self-consciousness 
is not to be tampered with. It is equally necessary to avoid 
Ebionism which does away with the Divine in Him, and Docetism 


which destroys His humanity. Schleiermacher loves to make his 
hearers shudder by pointing out to them that the least false step 
entails precipitation into one or other of these abysses ; or at least 
would entail it for any one who was not under the guidance 
of his infallible dialectic. 

In the course of this dialectic treatment, all the historical 
questions involved in the life of Jesus come into view one after 
another, but none of them is posed or solved from the point of 
view of the historian ; they are " moments " in his argument. 

He is like a spider at work. The spider lets itself down from 
aloft, and after making fast some supporting threads to points 
below, it runs back to the centre and there keeps spinning away. 
You look on fascinated, and before you know it, you are entangled 
in the web. It is difficult even for a reader who is strong in the 
consciousness of possessing a sounder grasp of the history than 
Schleiermacher to avoid being caught in the toils of that magical 

And how loftily superior the dialectician is ! Paulus had 
shown that, in view of the use of the title Son of Man, the 
Messianic self -consciousness of Jesus must be interpreted in 
accordance with the passage in Daniel. On this Schleiermacher 
remarks : " I have already said that it is inherently improbable that 
such a predilection (sc. for the Book of Daniel) would have been 
manifested by Christ, because the Book of Daniel does not belong 
to the prophetic writings properly so-called, but to the third 
division of the Old Testament literature." 

In his estimate of the importance to be attached to the story 
of the baptism, too, he falls behind the historical knowledge of his 
day. " To lay such great stress upon the baptism," he says, " leads 
either to the Gnostic view that it was only there that the Aoyog 
united itself with Jesus, or to the rationalistic view that it was only 
at the baptism that He became conscious of His vocation." But 
what does history care whether a view is gnostic or rationalistic if 
only it is historical ! 

This dialectic, so fatal often to sound historical views, might 
have been expressly created to deal with the question of miracle. 
Compared with Schleiermacher's discussions all that has been 
written since upon this subject is mere honest or dishonest 
bungling. Nothing new has been added to what he says, and no 
one else has succeeded in saying it with the same amazing 
subtlety. It is true, also, that no one else has shown the same 
skill in concealing how much in the way of miracle he ultimately 
retains and how much he rejects. His solution of the problem is, 
in fact, not historical, but dialectical, an attempt to transcend the 
necessity for a rationalistic explanation of miracle which does not 
really succeed in getting rid of it. 


Schleiermacher arranges the miracles in an ascending scale of 
probability according to the degree in which they can be seen to 
depend on the known influence of spirit upon organic matter. The 
most easily explained are the miracles of healing " because we are 
not without analogies to show that pathological conditions of a 
purely functional nature can be removed by mental influence." But 
where, on the other hand, the effect produced by Christ lies outside 
the sphere of human life, the difficulties involved become insoluble. 
To get rid, in some measure, of these difficulties he makes use of 
two expedients. In the first place, he admits that in particular 
cases the rationalistic method may have a certain limited applica- 
tion ; in the second place he, like Hase, recognises a difference 
between the miracle stories themselves, retaining the Johannine 
miracles, but surrendering, more or less completely, the Synoptic 
miracles as not resting on evidence of the same certainty and 

That he is still largely under the sway of rationalism can be 
seen in the fact that he admits on an equal footing, as conceptions 
of the resurrection of Jesus, a return to consciousness from a 
trance-state, or a supernatural restoration to life, thought of as a 
resurrection. He goes so far as to say that the decision of this 
question has very little interest for him. He fully accepts the 
principle of Paulus that apart from corruption there is no certain 
indication of death. 

" All that we can say on this point," he concludes, " is that even 
to those whose business it was to ensure the immediate death of 
the crucified, in order that the bodies might at once be taken down, 
Christ appeared to be really dead, and this, moreover, although it 
was contrary to their expectations, for it was a subject of astonish- 
ment. It is no use going any further into the matter, since nothing 
can be ascertained in regard to it." 

What is certain is that Jesus in His real body lived on for a 
time among His followers ; that the Fourth Gospel requires us to 
believe. The reports of the resurrection are not based upon 
" apparitions." Schleiermacher's own opinion is what really 
happened was reanimation after apparent death. " If Christ had 
only eaten to show that He could eat, while He really had no 
need of nourishment, it would have been a pretence something 
docetic. This gives us a clue to all the rest, teaching us to hold 
firmly to the way in which Christ intends Himself to be represented, 
and to put down all that is miraculous in the accounts of the 
appearances to the prepossessions of the disciples." 

When He revealed himself to Mary Magdalene He had no 
certainty that He would frequently see her again. "He was 
conscious that His present condition was that of genuine human 
life, but He had no confidence in its continuance." He bade His 


disciples meet Him in Galilee because He could there enjoy greater 
privacy and freedom from observation in His intercourse with 
them. The difference between the present and the past was only 
that He no longer showed Himself to the world. " It was possible 
that a movement in favour of an earthly Messianic Kingdom might 
break out, and we need only take this possibility into account in 
order to explain completely why Jesus remained in such close 
retirement." "It was the premonition of the approaching end of 
this second life which led Him to return from Galilee to Jerusalem." 

Of the ascension he says : "Here, therefore, something happened, 
but what was seen was incomplete, and has been conjecturally 
supplemented." The underlying rationalistic explanation shows 
through ! 

But if the condition in which Jesus lived on after His crucifixion 
was " a condition of reanimation," by what right does Schleiermacher 
constantly speak of it as a "resurrection," as if resurrection and 
reanimation were synonymous terms ? Further, is it really true 
that faith has no interest whatever in the question whether it was 
as risen from the dead, or merely as recovered from a state of 
suspended animation, that Jesus showed Himself to His disciples ? 
In regard to this, it might seem, the rationalists were more straight- 

The moment one tries to take hold of this dialectic it breaks in 
one's fingers. Schleiermacher would not indeed have ventured to 
play so risky a game if he had not had a second position to retire 
to, based on the distinction between the Synoptic and the Johannine 
miracle stories. In this respect he simplified matters for himself, 
as compared with the rationalists, even more than Hase. The 
miracle at the baptism is only intelligible in the narrative of the 
Fourth Gospel, where it is not a question of an external occurrence, 
but of a purely subjective experience of John, with which we have 
nothing to do. The Synoptic story of the temptation has no in- 
telligible meaning. "To change stones into bread, if there were 
need for it, would not have been a sin." "A leap from the 
Temple could have had no attraction for any one." 

The miracles of the birth and childhood are given up without 
hesitation ; they do not belong to the story of the life of Jesus ; 
and it is the same with the miracles at His death. One might 
fancy it was Strauss speaking when Schleiermacher says : " If we 
give due consideration to the fact that we have certainly found 
in these for the most part simple narratives of the last moments 
of Christ two incidents, such as the rending of the veil of the 
Temple and the opening of the graves, in reference to which we 
cannot possibly suppose that they are literal descriptions of actual 
facts, then we are bound to ask the question whether the same 
does not apply to many other points. Certainly the mention of 



the sun's light failing and the consequent great darkness looks 
very much as if it had been imported by poetic imagination into the 
simple narrative." 

A rebuke could have no possible effect upon the wind and sea. 
Here we must suppose either an alteration of the facts or a 
different causal connexion. 

In this way Schleiermacher and it was for this reason that these 
lectures on the life of Jesus became so celebrated enabled 
dogmatics, though not indeed history, to take a flying leap over the 
miracle question. 

What is chiefly fatal to a sound historical view is his one-sided 
preference for the Fourth Gospel. It is, according to him, only in 
this Gospel that the consciousness of Jesus is truly reflected. In 
this connexion he expressly remarks that of a progress in the teaching 
of Jesus, and of any "development" in Him, there can be no 
question. His development is the unimpeded organic unfolding of 
the idea of the Divine Sonship. 

For the outline of the life of Jesus, also, the Fourth Gospel is 
alone authoritative. " The Johannine representation of the way in 
which the crisis of His fate was brought about is the only clear one." 
The same applies to the narrative of the resurrection in this Gospel. 
"Accordingly, on this point also," so he concludes his discussion, "I 
take it as established that the Gospel of John is the narrative of an 
eyewitness and forms an organic whole. The first three Gospels 
are compilations formed out of various narratives which had arisen 
independently ; their discourses are composite structures, and their 
presentation of the history is such that one can form no idea of the 
grouping of events." The "crowded days," such as that of the 
sermon on the mount and the day of the parables, exist only in the 
imagination of the Evangelists. In reality there were no such days. 
Luke is the only one of them who has some semblance of historical 
order. His Gospel is compiled with much insight and critical tact 
out of a number of independent documents, as Schleiermacher 
believed himself to have shown convincingly in his critical study of 
Luke's Gospel, published in 1817. 

It is only on the ground of such a valuation of the sources 
that we can arrive at a just estimate of the different representations 
of the locality of the life of Jesus. "The contradictions," Schleier- 
macher proceeds, " could not be explained if all our Gospels stood 
equally close to Jesus. But if John stands closer than the others, 
we may perhaps find the key in the fact that John, too, mentions it 
as a prevailing opinion in Jerusalem that Jesus was a Galilaean, and 
that Luke, when he has got to the end of the sections which show 
skilful arrangement and are united by similarity of subject, gathers 
all the rest into the framework of a journey to Jerusalem. Following 
this analogy, and not remembering that Jesus had occasion to go 


several times a year to Jerusalem, the other two gathered into one 
mass all that happened there on various occasions. This could 
only have been done by Hellenists." l 

Schleiermacher is quite insensible to the graphic realism of the 
description of the last days at Jerusalem in Mark and Matthew, and 
has no suspicion that if only a single one of the Jerusalem sayings 
in the Synoptists is true Jesus had never before spoken in Jerusalem. 

The ground of Schleiermacher's antipathy to the Synoptists lies 
deeper than a mere critical view as to their composition. The fact 
is that their " picture of Christ " does not agree with that which he 
wishes to insert into the history. When it serves his purpose, he 
does not shrink from the most arbitrary violence. He abolishes the 
scene in Gethsemane because he infers from the silence of John 
that it cannot have taken place. "The other Evangelists," he 
explains, "give us an account of a sudden depression and deep 
distress of spirit which fell upon Jesus, and which He admitted to 
His disciples, and they tell us how He sought relief from it in 
prayer, and afterwards recovered His serenity and resolution. John 
passes over this in silence, and his narrative of what immedi- 
ately precedes is not consistent with it." It is evidently a 
symbolical story, as the thrice-repeated petition shows. " If they 
speak of such a depression of spirit, they have given the story that 
form in order that the example of Christ might be the more 
applicable to others in similar circumstances." 

On these premises it is possible to write a Life of Christ ; it is 
not possible to write a Life of Jesus. It is, therefore, not by 
accident that Schleiermacher regularly speaks, not of Jesus, but of 

1 The ground of the inference is that, according to this theory, they did not 
attach much importance to the keeping of the Feasts at Jerusalem. Dr. Schweitzer 
reminds us in a footnote that a certain want of clearness is due to the fact of this 
work having been compiled from lecture-notes. 



IN order to understand Strauss one must love him. He was not 
the greatest, and not the deepest, of theologians, but he was the 
most absolutely sincere. His insight and his errors were alike the 
insight and the errors of a prophet. And he had a prophet's fate. 
Disappointment and suffering gave his life its consecration. It 
unrolls itself before us like a tragedy, in which, in the end, the 
gloom is lightened by the mild radiance which shines forth from 
the nobility of the sufferer. 

Strauss was born in 1808 at Ludwigsburg. His father was a 
merchant, whose business, however, was unsuccessful, so that his 
means steadily declined. The boy took his ability from his mother, 
a good, self-controlled, sensible, pious woman, to whom he raised a 
monument in his " Memorial of a Good Mother" written in 1858, 
to be given to his daughter on her confirmation-day. 

From 1821 to 1825 he was a pupil at the "lower seminary" at 
Blaubeuren, along with Friedrich Vischer, Pfizer, Zimmermann, 
Marklin, and Binder. Among their teachers was Ferdinand 
Christian Baur, whom they were to meet with again at the 

His first year at the university was uninteresting, as it was only 
in the following year that the reorganisation of the theological 
faculty took place, in consequence of the appointment of Baur. 
The instruction in the philosophical faculty was almost equally 
unsatisfactory, so that the friends would have gained little from the 
two years of philosophical propaedeutic which formed part of the 
course prescribed for theological students, if they had not combined 
to prosecute their philosophical studies for themselves. The 
writings of Hegel began to exercise a powerful influence upon them. 
For the philosophical faculty, Hegel's philosophy was as yet non- 

These student friends were much addicted to poetry. Two- 



journeys which Strauss made along with his fellow-student Binder 
to Weinsberg to see Justinus Kerner made a deep impression upon 
him. He had to make a deliberate effort to escape from the 
dream-world of the " Prophetess of Prevorst." Some years later, in 
a Latin note to Binder, he speaks of Weinsberg as " Mecca nostra." x 

According to Vischer's picture of him, the tall stripling made an 
impression of great charm, though he was rather shy except with 
intimates. He attended lectures with pedantic regularity. 

Baur was at that time still immersed in the prolegomena to his 
system ; but Strauss already suspected the direction which the 
thoughts of his young teacher were to take. 

When Strauss and his student friends entered on their duties as 
clergymen, the others found great difficulty in bringing their 
theological views into line with the popular beliefs which they were 
expected to preach. Strauss alone remained free from inner 
struggles. In a letter to Binder 2 of the year 1831, he explains that 
in his sermons he was then assistant at Klein-Ingersheim near 
Ludwigsburg he did not use "representative notions" (Vor- 
stellungen, used as a philosophical technicality) such as that of the 
Devil, which the people were already prepared to dispense with ; 
but others which still appeared to be indispensable, such as those 
of an eschatological character, he merely endeavoured to present 
in such a way that the " intellectual concept " (Begriff) which lay 
behind, might so far as possible shine through. "When I con- 
sider," he continues, "how far even in intellectual preaching the 
expression is inadequate to the true essence of the concept, it does 
not seem to me to matter much if one goes even a step further. 
I at least go about the matter without the least scruple, and cannot 
ascribe this to a mere want of sincerity in myself." 

That is Hegelian logic. 

After being for a short time Deputy-professor at Maulbronn, he 
took his doctor's degree with a dissertation on the aTroKUTaoTacris 
TTCCVTWV (restoration of all things, Acts iii. 21). This work is lost. 
From his letters it appears that he treated the subject chiefly from 
the religious-historical point of view. 3 

When Binder took his doctorate with a philosophical thesis on 
the immortality of the soul, Strauss, in 1832, wrote to him expressing 
the opinion that the belief in personal immortality could not properly 
be regarded as a consequence of the Hegelian system, smce^ according 

1 See Theobald Ziegler, " Zur Biographic von David Friedrich Strauss " (Materials 
for the Biography of D. F. S. ), in the Deutsche Revue, May, June, July 1905. The 
hitherto unpublished letters to Binder throw some light on the development of Strauss 
during the formative years before the publication of the Life of Jesus. 

Binder, later Director of the Board of Studies at Stuttgart, was the friend who 
delivered the funeral allocution at the grave of Strauss. This last act of friendship 
exposed him to enmity and calumny of all kinds. For the text of his short address, 
see the Deutsche Revue, 1905, p. 107. 

2 Deutsche Revue, May 1905, p. 199. * Ibid, p. 201. 


to Hegel, it was not the subjective spirit of the indiyiduaL43[erson J 
T>ut onljTthe objective Spirit, the ^elf-realising Idea which constantly 
emtrotries ' itsclf-irr new creation s, to which immortality belongs. 1 

"~TiT~October rS^l Re went to Berlin to hear Hegel and 
Schleiermacher. On the i4th of November Hegel, whom he 
had visited shortly before, was carried off by cholera. Strauss 
heard the news in Schleiermacher's house, from Schleiermacher 
himself, and is said to have exclaimed, with a certain want of tact, 
considering who his informant was : " And it was to hear him that 
I came to Berlin ! " 

There was no satisfactory basis for a relationship between 
Schleiermacher and Strauss. They had nothing in common. 
That did not prevent Strauss's Life of Jesus being sometimes 
described by opponents of Schleiermacher as a product of the 
latter's philosophy of religion. Indeed, as late as the 'sixties, 
Tholuck thought it necessary to defend the memory of the great 
theologian against this reproach. 

As a matter of fact, the plan of the Life of Jesus arose during 
Strauss's intercourse with Vatke, to whom he felt himself strongly 
drawn. Moreover, what was first sketched out was not primarily 
the plan of a Life of Jesus, but that of a history of the ideas of 
primitive Christianity, intended to serve as a standard by which 
to judge ecclesiastical dogma. The Life of Jesus was originally 
designed, it might almost be said, as a mere prologue to this work, 
the plan of which was subsequently carried out under the title, 
"Christian Theology in its Historical Development and in its 
Antagonism with Modern Scientific Knowledge" (published in 

When in the spring of 1832 he returned to Tubingen to take 
up the position of " Repetent " 2 in the theological college (Sttft\ 
these plans were laid on the shelf in consequence of his pre- 
occupation with philosophy, and if things had gone according to 
Strauss's wishes, they would perhaps never have come to fulfilment. 
The " Repetents " had the right to lecture upon philosophy. 
Strauss felt himself called upon to come forward as an apostle of 
Hegel, and lectured upon Hegel's logic with tremendous success. 
Zeller, who attended these lectures, records the unforgettable 
impression which they made on him. Besides championing 
Hegel, Strauss also lectured upon Plato, and upon the history of 
modern philosophy. These were three happy semesters. 

"In my theology," he writes in a letter of i833, 3 "philosophy 
occupies such a predominant position that my theological views 
can only be worked out to completeness by means of a more 
thorough study of philosophy, and this course of study I am now 

1 Deutsche Revue, p. 203. 2 Assistant lecturer. 

3 Ibid., June 1905, p. 343 ff. 


going to prosecute uninterruptedly and without concerning myself 
whether it leads me back to theology or not." Further on he 
says : " If I know myself rightly, my position in regard to theology 
is that what interests me in theology causes offence, and what 
does not cause offence is indifferent to me. For this reason I 
have refrained from delivering lectures on theology." 

The philosophical faculty was not altogether pleased at the 
success of the apostle of Hegel, and wished to have the right of 
the " Repetents " to lecture on philosophy curtailed. The latter, 
however, took their stand upon the tradition. Strauss was desired 
to intermit his lectures until the matter should be settled. He 
would have liked best to end the situation by entering the philo- 
sophical faculty. The other " Repetents," however, begged him not 
to do so, but to continue to champion their rights. It is possible 
also that obstacles were placed in the way of his plan by the 
philosophical faculty. However that may be, it was in any case 
not carried through. Strauss was forced back upon theology. 

According to Hase, 1 Strauss began his studies for the Life of 
Jesus by writing a detailed critical review of his (Hase's) text-book. 
He sent this to Berlin to \h& Jahrbucher fur wissenschaftlicJic Kritik, 
which, however, refused it. His resolve to publish first, instead of 
the general work on the genesis of Christian doctrine, a critical 
study on the life of Jesus was doubtless determined by Schleier- 
macher's lectures on this subject. When in Berlin he had procured 
a copy of a lecture note-book, and the reading of it incited him to 

Considering its character, the work was rapidly produced. 
He wrote it sitting at the window of the Repetents' room, which 
looks out upon the gateway-arch. When its two volumes appeared 
in 1835 the name of the author was wholly unknown, except 
for some critical studies upon the Gospels. This book, into 
which he had poured his youthful enthusiasm, rendered him 
famous in a moment and utterly destroyed his prospects. 
Among his opponents the most prominent was Steudel, a member 
of the theological faculty, who, as president of the Stiff, made 
representations against him to the Ministry, and succeeded in 
securing his removal from the post of "Repetent." The hopes 
which Strauss had placed upon his friends were disappointed. 
Only two or three at most dared to publish anything in his 

He first accepted a transfer to the post of Deputy-professor 
at Ludwigsburg, but in less than a year he was glad to give it 
up, and heathen returned to Stuttgart. There he lived for 
several years, busying himself in the preparation of new editions 

1 See Hase, Leben Jesu, 1876, p. 124. The "text-book" referred to is Hase's 
first Life of Jesus. 


of the Life of Jesus, and in writing answers to the attacks which 
were made upon him. 

Towards the end of the 'thirties he became conscious of a 
growing impulse towards more positive views. The criticisms 
of his opponents had made some impression upon him. The 
second volume of polemics was laid aside. In its place appeared 
the third edition of the Life of Jesus, 1838-1839, containing a series 
of amazing concessions. Strauss explains that in consequence of 
reading de Wette's commentary and Neander's Life of Jesus he 
had begun to feel some hesitation about his former doubts 
regarding the genuineness and credibility of the Fourth Gospel. 
The historic personality of Jesus again began to take on intelligible 
outlines for him. These inconsistencies he removed in the next 
edition, acknowledging that he did not know how he could so 
have temporarily vacillated in his point of view. The matter 
admits, however, of a psychological explanation. He longed for 
peace, for he had suffered more than his enemies suspected or 
his friends knew. The ban of the outlaw lay heavy upon his 
soul. In this spirit he composed in 1839 the monologues 
entitled Vcrgangliches und Bkibendes im Christentum ("Transient 
and Permanent Elements in Christianity "), which appeared again 
in the following year under the title Friedliche Blatter (" Leaves of 
Peace "). 

For a moment it seemed as though his rehabilitation would 
be accomplished. In January 1839 the noble-minded Hitzig suc- 
ceeded in getting him appointed to the vacant chair of dogmatics 
in Zurich. But the orthodox and pietist parties protested so 
vehemently that the Government was obliged to revoke the 
appointment. Strauss was pensioned off, without ever entering 
on his office. 

About that time his mother died. In 1841 he lost his father. 
When the estate came to be settled up, it was found that his 
affairs were in a less unsatisfactory condition than had been 
feared. Strauss was secure against want. The success of his second 
great work, his "Christian Theology" (published in 1840-41), 
compensated him for his disappointment at Zurich. In conception 
it is perhaps even greater than the Life of Jesus; and in depth 
of thought it is to be classed with the most important contribu- 
tions to theology. In spite of that it never attracted so much 
attention as the earlier work. Strauss continued to be known as 
the author of the Life of Jesus. Any further ground of offence 
which he might give was regarded as quite subsidiary. 

And the book contains matter for offence in no common 
degree. The point to which Strauss applies his criticism is the 
way in which the Christian theology which grew out of the 
ideas of the ancient world has been brought into harmony with 


the Christianity of rationalism and of speculative philosophy. 
Either, to use his own expression, both are so finely pulverised 
in the process as in the case of Schleiermacher's combination 
of Spinozism with Christianity that it needs a sharp eye to 
rediscover the elements of the mixture; or the two are shaken 
together like water and oil, in which case the semblance of 
combination is only maintained so long as the shaking continues. 
For this crude procedure he desires to substitute a better method, 
based upon a preliminary historical criticism of dogma, in order 
that thought may no longer have to deal with the present form 
of Church theology, but with the ideas which worked as living 
forces in its formation. 

This is brilliantly worked out in detail. The result is not 
a positive, but a negative Hegelian theology. . Religion is 

cerned with supra-mundane beings and a divinely glorious future, 
but with present spiritual realities which appear as "moments" 
in the eternal being and becoming of Absolute Spirit. At 
the end of the second volume, where battle is joined on the 
issue of personal immortality, all these ideas play their part in 
the struggle. Personal immortality is finally rejected in every form, 
for the critical reasons which Strauss had already set forth in 
the letters of 1832. Immortality is not something which stretches 
out into the future, but simply and solely the present quality 
of the spirit, its inner universality, its power of rising above 
everything finite -to the Idea7^> Here the thought of Hegel coin- 
cides with that of Schleiermacher. " The saying of Schleiermacher, 
'In the midst of finitude to be one with the Infinite, and to 
be eternal in a moment,' is all that modern thought can say 
about immortality." But neither Schleiermacher nor Hegel was 
willing to draw the natural inferences from their ultimate position, 
or at least they did not give them any prominence. 

It is not the application of the mythological explanation to 
the Gospel history which irrevocably divides Strauss from the 
theologians, but the question of personal immortality. It would 
be well for them if they had only to deal with the Strauss of the 
Life of Jesus, and not with the thinker who posed this question 
with inexorable trenchancy. They might then face the future 
more calmly, relieved of the anxiety lest once more Hegel and 
Schleiermacher might rise up in some pious but critical spirit, 
not to speak smooth things, but to ask the ultimate questions, 
and might force theology to fight its battle with Strauss all over 

At the very time when Strauss was beginning to breathe freely 
once more, had turned his back upon all attempts at compromise, 
and reconciled himself to giving up teaching ; and when, after 
settling his father's affairs, he had the certainty of being secure 


against penury ; at that very time he sowed for himself the seeds of 
a new, immitigable suffering by his marriage with Agnese Schebest, 
the famous singer. 

They were not made for one another. He could not look 
to her for any sympathy with his plans, and she on her part 
was repelled by the pedantry of his disposition. Housekeeping 
difficulties and the trials of a limited income added another 
element of discord. They removed to Sontheim near Heilbronn 
with the idea of learning to adapt themselves to one another 
far from the distractions of the town; but that did not better 
matters. They lived apart for a time, and after some years they 
procured a divorce, custody of the children being assigned to the 
father. The lady took up her residence in Stuttgart, and Strauss 
paid her an allowance up to her death in 1870. 

What he suffered may be read between the lines in the passage 
in "The Old Faith and the New" where he speaks of the 
sacredness of marriage and the admissibility of divorce. The 
wound bled inwardly. His mental powers were disabled. At 
this time he wrote little. Only in the apologue "Julian the 
Apostate, or the Romanticist on the throne of the Caesars" 
that brilliant satire upon Frederic William IV., written in 1847 
is there a flash of the old spirit. 

But in spite of his antipathy to the romantic disposition of 
the King of Prussia he entered the lists in 1848 on behalf of 
the efforts of the smaller German states to form a united Germany, 
apart from Austria, under the hegemony of Prussia. He did 
not suffer his political acumen to be blunted either by personal 
antipathies or by particularism. The citizens of Ludwigsburg 
wished to have him as their representative in the Frankfort 
parliament, but the rural population, who were pietistic in 
sympathies, defeated his candidature. Instead, his native town 
sent him to the Wiirtemberg Chamber of Deputies. But here 
his philistinism came to the fore again. The phrase-mongering 
revolutionary party in the chamber disgusted him. He saw 
himself more and more forced to the "right," and was obliged 
to act politically with men whose reactionary sympathies he was 
far from sharing. His constituents, meanwhile, were thoroughly 
discontented with his attitude. In the end the position became 
intolerable. It was also painful to him to have to reside in 
Stuttgart, where he could not avoid meeting the woman who 
had brought so much misery into his life. Further he himself 
mentions this point in his memoirs he had no practice in 
speaking without manuscript, and cut a poor figure as a debater. 
Then came the " Blum Case." Robert Blum, a revolutionary, 
had been shot by court martial in Vienna. The Wiirtemberg 
Chamber desired to vote a public celebration of his funeral. 


Strauss did not think there was any ground for making a hero 
of this agitator, merely because he had been shot, and was not 
inclined to blame the Austrian Government very severely for 
meting out summary justice to a disturber of the peace. His 
attitude brought on him a vote of censure from his constituents. 
When, subsequently, the President of the Chamber called him 
to order for asserting that a previous speaker had "concealed 
by sleight of hand " (wegeskamotiert, " juggled away ") an important 
point in the debate, he refused to accept the vote of censure, 
resigned his membership, and ceased to attend the diets. As 
he himself put it, he "jumped out of the boat." Then began 
a period of restless wandering, during which he beguiled his 
time with literary work. He wrote, inter alia, upon Lessing, 
Hutten, and Reimarus, rediscovering the last-named for his fellow- 

At the end of the 'sixties he returned once more to theology. 
His " Life of Jesus adapted for the German People " appeared in 
1864. In the preface he refers to Renan, and freely acknowledges 
the great merits of his work. 

The Prusso-Austrian war placed him in a difficult position. 
His historical insight made it impossible for him to share the 
particularism of his friends ; on the contrary, he recognised that 
the way was now being prepared for the realisation of his dream 
of 1848 an alliance of the smaller German States under the 
hegemony of Prussia. As he made no secret of his opinions, he 
had the bitter experience of receiving the cold shoulder from men 
who had hitherto loyally stood by him. 

In the year 1870 it was granted to him to become the spokes- 
man of the German people ; through a publication on Voltaire 
which had appeared not long before he had become acquainted 
with Renan. In a letter to Strauss, written after the first battles, 
Renan made a passing allusion to these great events. Strauss 
seized the opportunity to explain to him, in a vigorous "open 
letter" of the i2th of August, Germany's reason and justification 
for going to war. Receiving an answer from Renan, he then, in 
a second letter, of the 2Qth of September, took occasion to defend 
Germany's right to demand the cession of Alsace, not on the 
ground of its having formerly been German territory, but for the 
defence of her natural frontiers. The resounding echo evoked by 
these words, inspired, as they were, by the enthusiasm of the 
moment, compensated him for much of the obloquy which he had 
had to bear. 

His last work, "The Old Faith and the New," appeared in 1872. 
Once more, as in the work on theology published in 1840-1841, he 
puts to himself the question, What is there of permanence in this 
artificial compound of theology and philosophy, faith and thought ? 


But he puts the question with a certain bitterness, and shows himself 
too much under the influence of Darwinism, by which his mind 
was at that time dominated. The Hegelian system of thought, 
which served as a firm basis for the work of 1840, has fallen in 
ruins. Strauss is alone with his own thoughts, endeavouring to 
raise himself above the new scientific world-view. His powers of 
thought, never, for all his critical acumen, strong on the creative 
side, and now impaired by age, were unequal to the task. There 
is no force and no greatness in the book. 

To the question, "Are we still Christians ?" he answers, "No." 
But to his second question, "Have we still a religion?" he is 
prepared to give an affirmative answer, if the assumption is granted 
that the feeling of dependence, of self-surrender, of inner freedom, 
which has sprung from the pantheistic world-view, can be called 
religion. But instead of developing the idea of this deep inner 
freedom, and presenting religion in the form in which he had 
experienced it, he believes himself obliged to offer some new 
construction based upon Darwinism, and sets himself to answer 
the two questions, " How are we to understand the world ? " and 
" How are we to regulate our lives ? " the form of the latter is 
somewhat lacking in distinction in a quite impersonal way. It 
is only the schoolmaster and pedant in him who was always at 
the elbow of the thinker even in his greatest works that finds 
expression here. 

It was a dead book, in spite of the many editions which it 
went through, and the battle which raged over it was, like the 
fiercest of the Homeric battles, a combat over the dead. 

The theologians declared Strauss bankrupt, and felt themselves 
rich because they had made sure of not being ruined by a similar 
unimaginative honesty. Friedrich Nietzsche, from the height of 
his would-be Schopenhauerian pessimism, mocked at the fallen 

Before the year was out Strauss began to suffer from an internal 
ulcer. For many months he bore his sufferings with quiet resigna- 
tion and inner serenity, until on the 8th of February 1874, in 
his native town of Ludwigsburg, death set him free. 

A few weeks earlier, on the 2Qth of December 1873, his 
sufferings and his thoughts received illuminating expression in the 
following poignant verses : 

Wem ich dieses klage, 
Weiss, ich klage nicht ; 
Der ich dieses sage, 
Fiihlt, ich zage nicht. 

Heute heisst's verglimmen, 
Wie ein Licht verglimmt, 
In die Luft verschwimmen, 
Wie ein Ton verschwimmt. 


Moge schwach wie immer, 
Aber hell und rein, 
Dieser letzte Schimmer 
Dieser Ton nur sein. 1 

He was buried on a stormy February day. 

1 He to whom my plaint is 
Knows I shed no tear ; 
She to whom I say this 
Feels I have no fear. 

Time has come for fading, 
Like a glimmering ray, 
Or a sense-evading 
Strain that floats away. 

May, though fainter, dimmer, 
Only, clear and pure, 
To the last the glimmer 
And the strain endure. 

The persons alluded to in the first verse are his son, who, as a physician, 
attended him in his illness, and to whom he was deeply attached, and a very old 
friend to whom the verses were addressed. TRANSLATOR. 


First edition, 1835 and 1836. 2 vols. 1480 pp. 
The second edition was unaltered. 
Third edition, with alterations, 1838-1839. 
Fourth edition, agreeing with the first, 1840. 

/ CONSIDERED as a literary work, Strauss's first Life of Jesus is one 
/ of the most perfect things in the whole range of learned literature. 
In over fourteen hundred pages he has not a superfluous phrase ; 
1 his analysis descends to the minutest details, but he does not lose 
V his way among them ; the style is simple and picturesque, some- 
times ironical, but always dignified and distinguished. 

In regard to the application of the mythological explanation 
to Holy Scripture, Strauss points out that De Wette, Eichhorn, 
Gabler, and others._of his predecessors had long ago freely applied 
it to the Old Testament, and that various attempts had been made 
to portray the life of Jesus in accordance with the critical assump- 
tions upojpr'^wKic.h his undertaking was based. He mentions 
especially Usteri as one who had helped to prepaTe the ^way for 
himv The distinction between Strauss and those who had pre- 
ceded him upon this path consists only in this, that prior to him 
the conception of myth was neither truly grasped nor consistently 
applied. Its application was confined to the account of Jesus' 
coming into the world and of His departure from it, while the 
real kernel of the evangelical tradition the sections from the 
Baptism to the Resurrection was left outside the field of its 
application. Myth formed, to use Strauss's illustration, the 
lofty gateways at the entrance to, and at the exit from, the Gospel 
history; between these two lofty gateways lay the narrow and 
crooked streets of the naturalistic explanation. 

The principal obstacle, Strauss continues, which barred the way 
to a comprehensive application of myth, consisted in the supposi- 
tion that two of our Gospels, Matthew and John, were reports of 
eyewitnesses; and a further difficulty was the offence caused by 



the word myth, owing to its associations with the heathen mythology. 
But that any of our Evangelists was an eyewitness, or stood in 
such relations with eyewitnesses as to make the intrusion of myth 
unthinkable, is a thesis which there is no extant evidence sufficient 
to prove. Even though the earthly life of the Lord falls within 
historic times, and even if only a generation be assumed to have 
elapsed between His death and the composition of the Gospels; 
such a period would be sufficient to allow the historical material 
to become intermixed with myth. No sooner is a great man dead 
than legend is busy with his life. 

Then, too, the offence of the word myth disappears for any one 
who has gained an insight into the essential character of religious 
myth. It is nothing else than the clothing in historic form of 
religious ideas, shaped by the unconsciously inventive power of 
legend, and embodied in a historic personality. Even on a priori 
grounds we are almost compelled to assume that the historic 
Jesus will meet us in the garb of old Testament Messianic ideas 
and primitive Christian expectations. 

The main distinction between Strauss and his predecessors 
consisted in the fact that they asked themselves anxiously how 
much of the historical life of Jesus would remain as a foundation 
for religion if they dared to apply the conception of myth con- 
sistently, while for him this question had no terrors. He claims in 
his preface that he possessed one advantage over all the critical 
and learned theologians of his time without which nothing can be 
accomplished in the domain of history the -inner emancipation 
of thought and feeling in regard to certain religious and dogmatic 
prepossessions which he had early attained as a result of his 
philosophic studies. Hegel's philosophy had set him free, giving 
him a clear conception of the relationship of idea and reality, 
leading him to a higher plane of Christological speculation, and 
opening his eyes to the mystic interpenetration of finitude and 
infinity, God and man. 

-Gp^dQiajllio^4y-feh-4tighLest idea, conceived by human thought, 
is actually realised. in _tiie-histOFie -personality of Jesus. But while 
conventional thinking supposes that this phenomenal realisation 
must be perfect, true thought, which has attained by genuine 
critical reasoning to a higher freedom, knows that no idea can 
realise itself perfectly on the historic plane, and that its truth does 
not depend on the proof of its having received perfect external 
representation, but that its perfection comes about through that 
which the idea carries into history, or through the way in which 
history is sublimated into idea. For this reason it is in the last 
analysis indifferent to what extent God-manhood has been realised 
in the person of Jesus ; the important thing is that the idea is 
now alive in the common consciousness of those who have been 


prepared to receive it by its manifestation in sensible form, and of 
whose thought and imagination that historical personality took 
such complete possession, that for them the unity of Godhood and 
manhood assumed in Him enters into the common consciousness, 
and the " moments " which constitute the outward course of His 
life reproduce themselves in them in a spiritual fashion. 

A purely historical presentation of the life of Jesus was in that 
impossible :wKat wagT>perative was a creative 
reminiscence acting under the impulse of the idea which the 
personality of Jesus had called to life among mankind. And this 
idea "oT God-man hoad^ the^realisation of which in every personality 
isjjhe^~uttimate~goal of_jiumanity t is the eternal reality in the 

However far criticism may go in proving the reaction of the 
idea upon the presentment of the historical course of the life 
of Jesus, the fact that Jesus represented that idea and called it 
to life among mankind is something real, something that no 
criticism can annul. It is alive thenceforward to this day, and 
for ever more. 

It is in this emancipation of spirit, and in the consciousness 
tharjesus as jthe_creator ot tEe religion of humanity is beyond the 
reach of criticism, that Strauss goes to work, and batters down the 
rubble, assured that his pick can make no impression on the stone. 
He~~s~eelTevidence that the time has come for this undertaking in 
the condition of exhaustion which characterised contemporary 
theology. The supernaturalistic explanation of the events of the 
life of Jesus had been followed by the rationalistic, the one making 
everything supernatural, the other setting itself to make all the 
events intelligible as natural occurrences. Each had said all that 
it had to say. From their opposition now arises a new solution 
the mythological interpretation. This is a characteristic example 
of the Hegeliaji_jneyioji I== ^^_jy^^.> of a thesis represented by 
the"superriafuralistic explanation with an antithesis represented by 
the rationalistic interpretation. 

Strauss's Life of Jesus is, therefore, like Schleiermacher's, the 
product of antithetic conceptions. But whereas in the latter the 
antitheses Docetism and Ebionism are simply limiting conceptions, 
between which his view is statically suspended, the synthesis with 
which Strauss operates represents a composition of forces, of 
which his view is the dynamic resultant. The dialectic is in the 
one case descriptive, in the other creative. This Hegelian dia- 
lectic determines the method of the work. Each incident of the 
life of Jesus is considered separately; first as supernaturally 
explained, and then as rationalistically explained, and the one 
explanation is refuted by the other. "By this means," says 
Strauss in his preface, "the incidental advantage is secured that 


the work is fitted to serve as a repertory of the leading views and 
discussions of all parts of the Gospel history." 

In every case the whole range of representative opinions is 
reviewed. Finally the forced interpretations necessitated by the 
naturalistic explanation of the narrative under discussion drives 
the reader back upon the supernaturalistic. That had been 
recognised by Hase and Schleiermacher, and they had felt them- 
selves obliged to make a place for inexplicable supernatural 
elements alongside of the historic elements of the life of Jesus. 
Contemporaneously there had sprung up in all directions new 
attempts to return by the aid of a mystical philosophy to the 
supernaturalistic point of view of our forefathers. But in these 
Strauss recognises only the last desperate efforts to make the past 
present and to conceive the inconceivable ; and in direct opposi- 
tion to the reactionary ineptitudes by means of which critical 
theology was endeavouring to work its way out of rationalism, he 
sets up the hypothesis that these inexplicable elements are 

In the stories prior to the baptism, everything is myth. The 
narratives are woven on the pattern of Old Testament prototypes, 
with modifications due to Messianic or messianically interpreted 
passages. Since Jesus and the Baptist came into contact with one 
another later, it is felt necessary to represent their parents as 
having been connected. The attempts to construct Davidic 
genealogies for Jesus, show us that there was a period in the 
formation of the Gospel History during which the Lord was simply 
regarded as the son of Joseph and Mary, otherwise genealogical 
studies of this kind would not have been undertaken. Even in 
the story of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple, there is 
scarcely more than a trace of historical material. 

In the narrative of the baptism we may take it as certainly un- 
historical that the Baptist received a revelation of the Messianic 
dignity of Jesus, otherwise he could not later have come to doubt 
this. Whether his message to Jesus is historical must be left an 
open question ; its possibility depends on whether the nature of 
his confinement admitted of such communication with the outer 
world. Might not a natural reluctance to allow the Baptist to 
depart this life without at least a dawning recognition of the 
Messiahship of Jesus have here led to the insertion of a legendary 
trait into the tradition ? If so, the historical residuum would be 
that Jesus was for a time one of the adherents of the Baptist, and 
was baptized by him, and that He soon afterwards appeared in 
Galilee with the same message which John had proclaimed, and 
even when He had outgrown his influence, never ceased to hold 
John in high esteem, as is shown by the eulogy which He pro- 
nounced upon him. But if the baptism of John was a baptism of 



repentance with a view to "him who was to come," Jesus cannot 
have held Himself to be sinless when He submitted to it. Other- 
wise we should have to suppose that He did it merely for appearance' 
sake. Whether it was in the moment of the baptism that the 
consciousness of His Messiahship dawned upon Him, we cannot 
tell. This only is certain, that the conception of Jesus as having 
been endowed with the Spirit at His baptism, was independent of, 
and earlier than, that other conception which held Him to have 
been supernaturally born of the Spirit. We have, therefore, in the 
Synoptists several different strata of legend and narrative, which in 
some cases intersect and in some are superimposed one upon the 

The story of the temptation is equally unsatisfactory, whether it 
be interpreted as supernatural, or as symbolical either of an inward 
struggle or of external events (as for example in Venturini's inter- 
pretation of it, where the part of the Tempter is played by a 
Pharisee) ; it is simply primitive Christian legend, woven together 
out of Old Testament suggestions. 

The call of the first disciples cannot have happened as it is 
narrated, without their having known anything of Jesus beforehand ; 
the manner of the call is modelled upon the call of Elisha by 
Elijah. The further legend attached to it Peter's miraculous 
draught of fishes has arisen out of the saying about " fishers of 
men," and the same idea is reflected, at a different angle of 
refraction, in John xxi. The mission of the seventy is unhistorical. 

Whether the cleansing of the temple is historical, or whether 
it arose out of a Messianic application of the text, " My house shall 
be called a house of prayer," cannot be determined. The difficulty 
of forming a clear idea of the circumstances is not easily to be 
removed. How freely the historical material has been worked up, 
is seen in the groups of stories which have grown out of a single 
incident ; as, for example, the anointing of Jesus at Bethany by an 
unknown woman, out of which Luke has made an anointing by a 
penitent sinner, and John an anointing by Mary of Bethany. 

As regards the healings, some of them are certainly historical, 
but not in the form in which tradition has preserved them. The 
recognition of Jesus as Messiah by the demons immediately 
arouses suspicion. It is doubtless rather to be ascribed to the 
tendency which grew up later to represent Him as receiving, in 
His Messianic character, homage even from the world of evil spirits, 
than to any advantage in respect of clearness of insight which 
distinguished the mentally deranged, in comparison with their 
contemporaries. The cure of the demoniac in the synagogue at 
Capernaum may well be historical, but, in other cases, the pro- 
cedure is so often raised into the region of the miraculous that a 
psychical influence of Jesus upon the sufferer no longer suffices 


to explain it ; the creative activity of legend must have come in to 
confuse the account of what really happened. 

One cure has sometimes given rise to three or four narratives. 
Sometimes we can still recognise the influences which have 
contributed to mould a story. When, for example, the disciples 
are unable to heal the lunatic boy during Jesus' absence on the 
Mount of Transfiguration, we are reminded of 2 Kings iv., where 
Elisha's servant Gehazi tries in vain to bring the dead boy to life 
by using the staff of the prophet. The immediate healing of 
leprosy has its prototype in the story of Naaman the Syrian. The 
story of the ten lepers shows so clearly a didactic tendency that 
its historic value is thereby rendered doubtful. 

The cures of blindness all go back to the case of the blind man 
at Jericho. But who can say how far this is itself historical ? The 
cures of paralytics, too, belong rather to the equipment of the 
Messiah than to history. The cures through touching clothes, and 
the healings at a distance, have myth written on their foreheads. 
The fact is, the Messiah must equal, nay, surpass, the deeds of the 
prophets. That is why raisings from the dead figure among His 

The nature miracles, over a collection of which Strauss puts 
the heading " Sea-Stories and Fish-Stories," have a much larger 
admixture of the mythical. His opponents took him severely to 
task for this irreverent superscription. 

The repetition of the story of the feeding of the multitude 
arouses suspicion regarding the credibility of what is narrated, and 
at once invalidates the hypothesis of the apostolic authorship of 
the Gospel of Matthew. Moreover, the incident was so naturally 
suggested by Old Testament examples that it would have been a 
miracle if such a story had not found its way into the Life of Jesus. 
An explanation on the analogy of an expedited process of nature, 
is here, as in the case of the miracle at Cana also, to be absolutely 
rejected. Strauss allows it to be laughed out of court. The 
cursing of the fig-tree and its fulfilment go back in some way 
or other to a parable of Jesus, which was afterwards made into 

More important than the miracles heretofore mentioned are 
those which have to do with Jesus Himself and mark the crises 
of His history. The transfiguration had to find a place in the 
life of Jesus, because of the shining of Moses' countenance. In 
dealing with the narratives of the resurrection it is evident that we 
must distinguish two different strata of legend, an older one, 
represented by Matthew, which knew only of appearances in 
Galilee, and a later, in which the Galilaean appearances are 
excluded in favour of appearances in Jerusalem. In both cases, 
however, the narratives are mythical. In any attempt to explain 


them we are forced on one horn of the dilemma or the other if 
the resurrection was real, the death was not real, and vice versa. 
That the ascension is a myth is self-evident. 

Such, and so radical, are the results at which Strauss's criticism 
of the supernaturalistic and the rationalistic explanations of the 
life of Jesus ultimately arrives. 

In reading Strauss^s discussions onejsjiot so much struckjwith 
their radical character, because of the admirable dialectic skill with 
'which he shows the total impossibility of any explanation which 
does not take account of myth. On the whole, the supernaturalistic 
explanation^ "wHicH" at least represents the plain sense of the nar- 
ratives, comes off much better than the rationalistic, the artificiality 
of which is everywhere remorselessly exposed. 

The sections which we have summarised are far from having 
lost their significance at the present day. They marked out the 
ground which is now occupied by modern critical study. And they 
filled in the death-certificates of a whole series of explanations 
which, at first sight, have all the air of being alive, but are not 
really so. If these continue to haunt present-day theology, it is 
only as ghosts, which can be put to flight by simply pronouncing 
the name of David Friedrich Strauss, and which would long ago 
have ceased to "walk," if the theologians who regard Strauss's book 
as obsolete would only take the trouble to read it. 

The results so far considered do not represent the elements 
of the life of Jesus which Strauss was prepared to accept as 
historical. He sought to make the boundaries of the mythical 
embrace the widest possible area ; and it is clear that he extended 
them too far. 

For one thing, he overestimates the importance of the Old 
Testament motives in reference to the creative activity of the 
legend. He does not see that while in many cases he has shown 
clearly enough the source of the form of the narrative in question, 
this does not suffice to explain its origin. Doubtless, there is 
mythical material in the story of the feeding of the multitude. 
But the existence of the story is not explained by referring to the 
manna in the desert, or the miraculous feeding of a multitude by 
Elisha. 1 The story in the Gospel has far too much individuality 
for that, and stands, moreover, in much too closely articulated an 
historical connexion. It must have as its basis some historical 
fact. It is not a myth, though there is myth in it. Similarly with 
the account of the transfiguration. The substratum of historical 
fact in the life of Jesus is much more extensive than Strauss is 
prepared to admit. Sometimes he fails to see the foundations, 
because he proceeds like an explorer who, in working on the 
ruins of an Assyrian city, should cover up the most valuable 

1 2 Kings iv. 42-44. 


evidence with the rubbish thrown out from another portion of the 

Again, he sometimes rules out statements by assuming their 
impossibility on purely dialectical grounds, or by playing off the 
narratives one against another. The Baptist's message to Jesus 
is a case in point. This is connected with the fact that he often 
fails to realise the strong confirmation which the narratives derive 
from their connexion with the preceding and following context. 

That, however, was only to be expected. Who ever discovered 
a true principle without pressing its application too far ? 

What really alarmed his contemporaries was not so much the 
comprehensive application of the mythical theory, as the general 
mining and sapping operations which they were obliged to see 
brought to bear upon the Gospels. 

In section after section Strauss cross-examines the reports on 
every point, down to the minutest detail, and then pronounces in 
what proportion an alloy of myth enters into each of them. In 
every case the decision is unfavourable to the Gospel of John. 
Strauss was the first to take this view. It is true that, at the end 
of the eighteenth century, many doubts as to the authenticity of 
this Gospel had been expressed, and Bretschneider, the famous 
General Superintendent at Gotha (i 776-1848), had made a tentative 
collection of them in his Probabilia}- The essay made some stir 
at the time. But Schleiermacher threw the aegis of his authority 
over the authenticity of the Gospel, and it was the favourite Gospel 
of the rationalists because it contained fewer miracles than the 
others. Bretschneider himself declared that he had been brought 
to a better opinion through the controversy. 

After this episode the Johannine question had been shelved for 
fifteen years. The excitement was, therefore, all the greater when 
Strauss reopened the discussion. He was opposing a dogma of 
critical theology, which, even at the present day, is wont to defend 
its dogmas with a tenacity beyond that of the Church itself. 

The luminous haze of apparent circumstantiality which had 
hitherto prevented men from recognising the true character of 
this Gospel is completely dissipated. Strauss shows that the 
Johannine representation of the life of Jesus is dominated by a 
theory, and that its portraiture shows the further development of 
the tendencies which are perceptible even in the Synoptists. He 
shows this, for example, in the case of the Johannine narrative of 
the baptism of Jesus, in which critics had hitherto seen the most 
credible account of what occurred, pointing out that it is just in 
this pseudo-simplicity that the process of bringing Jesus and the 
Baptist into the closest possible relations reaches its limit. 

1 Probabilia de evangelii et epistolarum loannis Apostoli indole et origins 
eruditorum iudiciis modeste subjecit C. Th. Bretschneider. Leipzig, 1820. 


Similarly, in regard to the call of the first disciples, it is, according 
to Strauss, a later postulate that they came from the Baptist's 
following and were brought by him to the Lord. Strauss does not 
scruple even to assert that John introduces imaginary characters. 
If this Gospel relates fewer miracles, the miracles which it retains 
are proportionately greater ; so great, indeed, that their absolutely 
miraculous character is beyond the shadow of doubt ; and, more- 
over, a moral or symbolical significance is added. 

Here, therefore, it is no longer the unconscious action of legend 
which selects, creates, or groups the incidents, but a clearly- 
determined apologetic and dogmatic purpose. 

The question regarding the different representations of the 
locality and chronology of the life of Jesus, had always been 
decided, prior to Strauss, in favour of the Fourth Gospel. De 
Wette makes it an argument against the genuineness of Matthew's 
Gospel that it mistakenly confines the ministry of Jesus to Galilee. 
Strauss refuses to decide the question by simply weighing the 
chronological and geographical statements one against the other, 
lest he should be as one-sided in his own way as the defenders of 
the authenticity of the Fourth Gospel were in theirs. On this 
point, he contents himself with remarking that if Jesus had really 
taught in Jerusalem on several occasions, it is absolutely unin- 
telligible how all knowledge of this could have so completely 
disappeared from the Synoptic tradition ; for His going up to the 
Passover at which He met His death is there represented as His 
sole journey to Jerusalem. On the other hand, it is quite con- 
ceivable that if Jesus had only once been in Jerusalem there would 
be a tendency for legend gradually to make several journeys out of 
this one, on the natural assumption that He regularly went up to 
the Feasts, and that He would proclaim His Gospel not merely in 
the remote province, but also in the capital. 

From the triumphal entry to the resurrection, the difference 
between the Synoptic and Johannine narratives is so great that all 
attempts to harmonise them are to be rejected. How are we to 
reconcile the statement of the Synoptists that the ovation at the 
triumphal entry was offered by Galilaeans who accompanied him, 
with that of John, according to which it was offered by a multitude 
from Jerusalem which came out to welcome Jesus who, moreover, 
according to John, was not coming from Galilee and Jericho and 
escorted Him into the city. To suppose that there were two 
different triumphal entries is absurd. 

But the decision between John and the Synoptists is not based 
solely upon their representation of the facts ; the decisive considera- 
tion is found in the ideas by which they are respectively dominated. 
John represents a more advanced stage of the mythopoeic process, 
inasmuch as he has substituted for the Jewish Messianic concep- 


tion, the Greek metaphysical conception of the Divine Sonship, 
and, on the basis of his acquaintance with the Alexandrian Logos 
doctrine, even makes Jesus apply to Himself the Greek speculative 
conception of pre-existence. The writer is aware of an already 
existing danger from the side of a Gnostic docetism, and has him- 
self an apologetic Christology to propound, thus fighting the 
Gnostics as a Gnostic of another kind. That he is free from 
eschatological conceptions is not, from the historical point of view, 
an advantage, but very much the reverse. He is not unacquainted 
with eschatology, but deliberately transforms it, endeavouring to 
substitute for the expectation of the Second Coming of Christ, as 
an external event of the future, the thought of His inward 
presence. t 

The most decisive evidence of all is found in the farewell 
discourses and in the absence of all mention of the spiritual struggle 
in Gethsemane. The intention here is to show that Jesus not only 
had a foreknowledge of His death, but had long overcome it in 
anticipation, and went to meet His tragic fate with perfect inward 
serenity. That, however, is no historical narrative, but the final 
stage of reverent idealisation. 

The question is decided. The Gospel of John is inferior to 
the Synoptics as a historical source just in proportion as it is more 
strongly dominated than they by theological and apologetic 
interests. It is true that the assignment of the dominant motives 
is for Strauss's criticism mainly a matter of conjecture. He cannot 
define in detail the attitude and tendency of this Gospel, because 
the development of dogma in the second century was still to a 
great extent obscure. He himself admits that it was only subse- 
quently, through the labours of Baur, that the positions which he 
had taken up in 1835 were rendered impregnable. And yet it is 
true to say that Johannine study has added in principle nothing 
new to what was said by Strauss. He recognised the decisive 
point. With critical acumen he resigned the attempt to base a 
decision on a comparison of the historical data, and allowed the 
theological character of the two lines of tradition to determine the 
question. Unless this is done the debate is endless, for an able 
man who has sworn allegiance to John will always find a thousand 
ways in which the Johannine data can be reconciled with those of 
the Synoptists, and is finally prepared to stake his life upon the 
exact point at which the missing account of the institution of the 
Lord's Supper must be inserted into the narrative. 

This changed estimate of John carries with it a reversal of the 
order in which the Gospels are supposed to have originated. 
Instead of John, Luke, Matthew, we have Matthew, Luke, and John 
the first is last, and the last first. Strauss's unsophisticated in- 
stinct freed Matthew from the humiliating vassalage to which 


Schleiermacher's aesthetic had consigned him. The practice of 
differentiating between John and the Synoptists, which in the hands 
of Schleiermacher and Hase had been an elegant amusement, now 
received unexpected support, and it at last became possible for the 
study of the life of Jesus to go forward. 

But no sooner had Strauss opened up the way than he closed 
it again, by refusing to admit the priority of Mark. His attitude 
towards this Gospel at once provokes opposition. For him Mark is 
an epitomising narrator, a mere satellite of Matthew with no inde- 
pendent light. His terse and graphic style makes on Strauss an 
impression of artificiality. He refuses to believe this Evangelist 
when he says that on the first day at Capernaum "the whole 
town " (Mark i. 33) came together before Peter's door, and that, 
on other occasions (Mark Hi. 20, vi. 31), the press was so 
great that Jesus and His disciples had no leisure so much as to 
eat. "All very improbable traits," he remarks, "the absence of 
which in Matthew is entirely to his advantage, for what else are 
they than legendary exaggerations ? " In this criticism he is at one 
with Schleiermacher, who in his essay on Luke 1 speaks of the 
unreal vividness of Mark " which often gives his Gospel an almost 
apocryphal aspect." 

This prejudice against Mark has a twofold cause. In the first 
place, this Gospel with its graphic details had rendered great service 
to the rationalistic explanation of miracle. Its description of the 
cure of the blind man at Bethsaida (Mark viii. 22-26) whose eyes 
Jesus first anointed with spittle, whereupon he at first saw things 
dimly, and then, after he had felt the touch of the Lord's hand 
upon his eyes a second time, saw more clearly was a veritable 
treasure -trove for rationalism. As Strauss is disposed to deal 
much more peremptorily with the rationalists than with the super- 
naturalists, he puts Mark upon his trial, as their accessory before 
the fact, and pronounces upon him a judgment which is not 
entirely unprejudiced. Moreover, it is not until the Gospels are 
looked at from the point of view of the plan of the history and the 
inner connexion of events that the superiority of Mark is clearly 
realised. But this way of looking at the matter does not enter into 
Strauss's purview. On the contrary, he denies that there is any 
traceable connexion of events at all, and confines his attention 
to determining the proportion of myth in the content of each 
separate narrative. 

Of the Synoptic question he does not, strictly speaking, take 
any account. That was partly due to the fact that when he wrote 
it was in a thoroughly unsatisfactory position. There was a con- 
fused welter of the most various hypotheses. The priority of Mark, 

1 Dr. Fr. Schleiermacher, t)ber die Schriften des Lukas. Rin kritischer Versuch, 
(The Writings of Luke. A critical essay. ) C. Reimer, Berlin, 1817. 


which had had earlier champions in Koppe, 1 Storr, 2 Gratz, 3 and 
Herder, 4 was now maintained by Credner and Lachmann, who saw 
in Matthew a combination of the logia-documentwith Mark. The 
"primitive Gospel" hypothesis of Eichhorn, according to which 
the first three Gospels went back to a common source, not 
identical with any of them, had become somewhat discredited. 
There had been much discussion and various modifications of 
Griesbach's "dependence theory," according to which Mark was 
pieced together out of Matthew and Luke, and Schleiermacher's 
DiegesentJieorief which saw the primary material not in a gospel, but 
in unconnected notes ; from these, collections of narrative passages 
were afterwards formed, which in the post-apostolic period coalesced 
into continuous descriptions of the life of Jesus such as the three 
which have been preserved in our Synoptic Gospels. 

In this matter Strauss is a sceptical eclectic. In the main he 
may be said to combine Griesbach's theory of the secondary origin 
of Mark with Schleiermacher's Diegesentheorie^ the latter answering 
to his method of treating the sections separately. But whereas 
Schleiermacher had used the plan of John's Gospel as a framework 
into which to fit the independent narratives, Strauss's rejection of 
the Fourth Gospel left him without any means of connecting the 
sections. He makes a point, indeed, of sharply emphasising this 
want of connexion and it was just this that made his work appear 
so extreme. 

The Synoptic discourses, like the Johannine, are composite 
structures, created by later tradition out of sayings which originally 
belonged to different times and circumstances, arranged under 
certain leading ideas so as to form connected discourses. The 
sermon on the mount, the discourse at the sending forth of the 
twelve, the great parable-discourse, the polemic against the 
Pharisees, have all been gradually formed like geological deposits. 
So far as the original juxtaposition may be supposed to have been 
here and there preserved, Matthew is doubtless the most trustworthy 
authority for it. "From the comparison which we have been 
making," says Strauss in one passage, " we can already see that the 
hard grit of these sayings of Jesus (die kornigen Reden Jesu) has 
not indeed been dissolved by the flood of oral tradition, but they 
have often been washed away from their original position and like 
rolling pebbles (Gerolle) have been deposited in places to which 

1 Koppe, Marcus non epitomator Matthdi, 1782. 

2 Storr, De Fontibus Evangeliorum Mt. et Lc., 1794. 

3 Gratz, Neuer Versuch, die Entstehung der drei ersten Evangelien zu erkldren, 

4 V. sup. p. 35 f. For the earlier history of the question see F. C. Baur, Krit. 
Untersuch. iiber die kanoniscken Evangelien, Tubingen, 1847, pp. 1-76. 

5 So called because largely based on the reference in Luke i. i, to the "many" 
who had " taken in hand to draw up a narrative (Si^yrjcis)." TRANSLATOR. 


they do not properly belong." l And, moreover, we find this dis- 
tinction between the first three Evangelists, viz. that Matthew is a 
skilful collector who, while he is far from having been able always 
to give the original connexion, has at least known how to bring 
related passages aptly together, whereas in the other two many 
fragmentary sayings have been left exactly where chance had 
deposited them, which was generally in the interstices between the 
larger masses of discourse. Luke, indeed, has in some cases made 
an effort to give them an artistic setting, which is, however, by no 
means a satisfactory substitute for the natural connexion. 

It is in his criticism of the parables that Strauss is most extreme. 
He starts out from the assumption that they have mutually 
influenced one another, and that those which may possibly be 
genuine have only been preserved in a secondary form. In the 
parable of the marriage supper of the king's son, for example, he 
confidently assumes that the conduct of the invited guests, who 
finally ill-treated and slew the messengers, and the question why 
the guest is not wearing a wedding-garment are secondary features. 

How external he supposes the connexion of the narratives to be 
is clear from the way in which he explains the juxtaposition of the 
story of the transfiguration with the " discourse while descending 
the mountain." They have, he says, really nothing to do with one 
another. The disciples on one occasion asked Jesus about the 
coming of Elijah as forerunner ; Elijah also appears in the story 
of the transfiguration : accordingly tradition simply grouped the 
transfiguration and the discourse together under the heading 
" Elijah," and, later on, manufactured a connexion between them. 

The tendency of the work to purely critical analysis, the 
ostentatious avoidance of any positive expression of opinion, and 
not least, the manner of regarding the Synoptists as mere bundles 
of narratives and discourses, make it difficult indeed, strictly 
speaking, impossible to determine Strauss's own distinctive con- 
ception of the life of Jesus, to discover what he really thinks is 
moving behind the curtain of myth. According to the view taken 
in regard to this point his work becomes either a negative or a 
positive life of Jesus. There are, for instance, a number of 
incidental remarks which contain the suggestion of a positive 
construction of the life of Jesus. If they were taken out of their 
context and brought together they would yield a picture which 
would have points of contact with the latest eschatological view. 
Strauss, however, deliberately restricts his positive suggestions to 
these few detached remarks. He follows out no line to its 
conclusion. Each separate problem is indeed considered, and 
light is thrown upon it from various quarters with much critical 

1 We take the translation of this striking image from Sanday's " Survey of the 
Synoptic Question," The Expositor, 4th ser. vol. 3, p. 307. 


skill. But he will not venture on a solution of any of them. 
Sometimes, when he thinks he has gone too far in the way of 
positive suggestion, he deliberately wipes it all out again with some 
expression of scepticism. 

As to the duration of the ministry he will not even offer a vague 
conjecture. As to the connexion of certain events, nothing can, 
according to him, be known, since the Johannine outline cannot be 
accepted and the Synoptists arrange everything with an eye to 
analogies and association of ideas, though they flattered themselves 
that they were giving a chronologically arranged narrative. From 
the contents of the narratives, however, and from the monotonous 
recurrence of certain formulae of connexion, it is evident that no 
clear view of an organically connected whole can be assumed to be 
present in their work. We have no fixed points to enable us to 
reconstruct even in a measure the chronological order. 

Especially interesting is his discussion of the title " Son of Man." 
In the saying " the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath day " 
(Matt. xii. 8), the expression might, according to Strauss, simply 
denote "man." In other passages one gets the impression that 
Jesus spoke of the Son of Man as a supernatural person, quite 
distinct from Himself, but identified with the Messiah. This is the 
most natural explanation of the passage in Matt. x. 23, where he 
promises the disciples, in sending them forth, that they shall not 
have gone over the cities of Israel before the Son of Man shall 
come. Here Jesus speaks of the Messiah as if He Himself were 
his forerunner. These sayings would, therefore, fall in the first 
period, before He knew Himself to be the Messiah. Strauss does 
not suspect the significance of this incidental remark ; it contains 
the germ of the solution of the problem of the Son of Man on the 
lines of Johannes Weiss. But immediately scepticism triumphs 
again. How can we tell, asks Strauss, where the title Son of Man 
is genuine in the sayings of Jesus, and where it has been inserted 
without special significance, merely from habit ? - 

Not less insoluble, in his opinion, is the question regarding the 
point of time at which Jesus claimed the Messianic dignity for 
Himself. "Whereas in John," Strauss remarks, "Jesus remains 
constant in His avowal, his disciples and followers constant in their 
conviction, that He is the Messiah ; in the Synoptics, on the other 
hand, there are, so to speak, relapses to be observed ; so that, in 
the case of the disciples and the people generally, the conviction 
of Jesus' Messiahship expressed on earlier occasions, sometimes, in 
the course of the narrative, disappears again and gives place to a 
much lower view of Him ; and even Jesus Himself, in comparison 
with His earlier unambiguous declaration, is more reserved on later 
occasions." The account of the confession of the Messiahship at 
Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus pronounces Peter blessed because of 


his confession, and at the same time forbids the Twelve to speak 
of it, is unintelligible, since according to this same Gospel His 
Messiahship had been mooted by the disciples on several previous 
occasions, and had been acknowledged by the demoniacs. The 
Synoptists, therefore, contradict themselves. Then there are the 
further cases in which Jesus forbids the making known of His 
Messiahship, without any reason whatever. It would, no doubt, be 
historically possible to assume that it only gradually dawned upon 
Him that He was the Messiah in any case not until after His 
baptism by John, as otherwise He would have to be supposed to 
have made a pretence upon that occasion and that as often as 
the thought that He might be the Messiah was aroused in others 
by something that occurred, and was suggested to Him from without, 
He was immediately alarmed at hearing spoken, aloud and definitely, 
that which He Himself had scarcely dared to cherish as a possi- 
bility, or in regard to which He had only lately attained to a clear 

From these suggestions one thing is evident, namely, that for 
Strauss the Messianic consciousness of Jesus was an historical fact, 
and is not to be referred, as has sometimes been supposed, to myth. 
To assert that Strauss dissolved the life of Jesus into myth is, in 
fact, an absurdity which, however often it may be repeated by 
people who have not read his book, or have read it only super- 
ficially, does not become any the less absurd by repetition. 

To come to detail, Jesus thought of His Messiahship, according 
to Strauss, in the form that He, although of human parentage, 
should after His earthly life be taken up into heaven, and thence 
should come again to bring in His Kingdom. " As, moreover, in 
the higher Jewish theology, immediately after the time of Jesus, the 
idea of the pre-existence of the Messiah was present, the conjecture 
naturally suggests itself that it was also present at the time when 
Jesus' thoughts were being formed, and that consequently, if He 
once began to think of Himself as the Messiah, He might also have 
referred to Himself this feature of the Messianic conception. 
Whether Jesus had been initiated, as Paul was, into the wisdom of 
the schools in such a way that He could draw this conception from 
it, is no doubt open to question." 

In his treatment of the eschatology Strauss makes a valiant 
effort to escape from the dilemma " either spiritual or political " in 
regard to the Messianic plans of Jesus, and to make the eschato- 
logical expectation intelligible as one which did not set its hopes 
upon human aid, but on Divine intervention. This is one of the 
most important contributions to a real understanding of the eschato- 
logical problem. Sometimes one almost seems to be reading 
Johannes Weiss ; as, for example, when Strauss explains that Jesus 
could promise His followers that they should sit on thrones without 


thinking of a political revolution, because He expected a reversal 
of present conditions to be brought about by God, and referred this 
judicial authority and kingly rule to the time of the TraAiyyeveo-ia. 
" Jesus, therefore, certainly expected to restore the throne of David, 
and, with His disciples, to rule over a people freed from political 
bondage, but in this expectation He did not set His hopes on the 
sword of human followers (Luke xxii. 38, Matt. xxvi. 52), but upon 
the legions of angels which His heavenly Father could give Him 
(Matt. xxvi. 53). When He speaks of the coming of His Messianic 
glory, it is with angels and heavenly powers that He surrounds 
Himself (Matt. xvi. 27, xxiv. 30 ff., xxv. 31). Before the majesty of 
the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven the nations will 
submit without striking a blow, and at the sound of the angel's 
trumpet -blast will, with the dead who shall then arise, range 
themselves before Him and His disciples for judgment. All this 
Jesus did not purpose to bring about by any arbitrary action of 
His own, but left it to His heavenly Father, who alone knew the 
right moment for this catastrophic change (Mark xiii. 32), to give 
Him the signal of its coming ; and He did not waver in His faith 
even when death came upon Him before its realisation. Any one 
who shrinks from adopting this view of the Messianic background of 
Jesus' plans, because he fears by so doing to make Jesus a visionary 
enthusiast, must remember how exactly these hopes corresponded 
to the long-cherished Messianic expectation of the Jews ; and how 
easily, on the supernaturalistic assumptions of the period and among 
a people which preserved so strict an isolation as the Jews, an ideal 
which was in itself fantastic, if it were the national ideal and had 
some true and good features, could take possession of the mind 
even of one who was not inclined to fanaticism." 

One of the principal proofs that the preaching of Jesus was 
eschatologically conditioned is the Last Supper. "When," says 
Strauss, " He concluded the celebration with the saying, * I will 
not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine until I drink it new 
with you in my Father's kingdom/ He would seem to have 
expected that in the Messianic kingdom the Passover would be 
celebrated with peculiar solemnity. Therefore, in assuring them 
that they shall next partake of the Feast, not in the present age, but 
in the new era, He evidently expects that within a year's time the 
pre- Messianic dispensation will have come to an end and the 
Messianic age will have begun." But it must be admitted, Strauss 
immediately adds, that the definite assurance which the Evangelists 
put into His mouth may after all only have been in reality an 
expression of pious hope. In a similar way he qualifies his other 
statements regarding the eschatological ideas of Jesus by recalling 
that we cannot determine the part which the expectations of 
primitive Christianity may have had in moulding these sayings. 


Thus, for example, the opinions which he expresses on the great 
Parousia discourse in Matt. xxiv. are extremely cautious. The 
detailed prophecies regarding the Second Coming which the 
Synoptists put into the mouth of Jesus cannot be derived from 
Jesus Himself. The question suggests itself, however, whether He 
did not cherish the hope, and make the promise, that He would 
one day appear in glory as the Messiah ? " If in any period of 
His life He held Himself to be the Messiah and that there was a 
period when He did so there can be no doubt and if He described 
Himself as the Son of Man, He must have expected the coming 
in the clouds which Daniel had ascribed to the Son of Man ; but 
it may be questioned whether He thought of this as an exalta- 
tion which should take place even in His lifetime, or as something 
which was only to take place after His death. Utterances like 
Matt. x. 23, xvi. 28 rather suggest the former, but the possibility 
remains that later, when he had begun to feel that His death was 
certain, his conception took the latter form, and that Matt. xxvi. 64 
was spoken with this in view." Thus, even for Strauss, the problem of 
the Son of Man is already the central problem in which are focused 
all the questions regarding the Messiahship and eschatology. 

From all this it may be seen how strongly he had been 
influenced by Reimarus, whom, indeed, he frequently mentions. 
It would be still more evident if he had not obscured his historical 
views by constantly bringing the mythological explanation into play. 

The thought of the supernatural realisation of the Kingdom 
of God must also, according to Strauss, be the starting-point of any 
attempt to understand Jesus' attitude towards the Law and the 
Gentiles, so far as that is possible in view of the conflicting data. 
The conservative passages must carry most weight. They need 
not necessarily fall at the beginning of His ministry, because it is 
questionable whether the hypothesis of a later period of increasing 
liberality in regard to the law and the Gentiles can be made 
probable. There would be more chance of proving that the 
conservative sayings are the only authentic ones, for unless all the 
indications are misleading the terminus a quo for this change of 
attitude is the death of Jesus. He no doubt looked forward to 
the abolition of the Law and the removal of the barriers between 
Jew and Gentile, but only in the future Kingdom. " If that be so," 
remarks Strauss, " the difference between the views of Jesus and of 
Paul consisted only in this, that while Jesus expected these limita- 
tions to fall away when, at His second coming, the earth should be 
renewed, Paul believed himself justified in doing away with them 
in consequence of the first coming of the Messiah, upon the still 
unregenerated earth." 

The eschatological passages are therefore the most authentic 
of all. If there is anything historic about Jesus, it is His assertion 


of the claim that in the coming kingdom He would be manifested 
as the Son of Man. 

On the other hand, in the predictions of the passion and 
resurrection we are on quite uncertain ground. The detailed 
statements regarding the manner of the catastrophe place it beyond 
doubt that we have here vatidnia ex eventu. Otherwise the despair 
of the disciples when the events occurred could not be explained. 
Yet it is possible that Jesus had a prevision of His death. Perhaps 
the resolve to die was essential to His conception of the Messiah- 
ship and He was not forced thereto by circumstances. This we 
might be able to determine with certainty if we had more exact 
information regarding the conception of the suffering Messiah in 
contemporary Jewish theology; which is, however, not available. 
We do not even know whether the conception had ever existed in 
Judaism. " In the New Testament it almost looks as if no one 
among the Jews had ever thought of a suffering or dying Messiah." 
The conception can, however, certainly be found in later passages 
of Rabbinic literature. 

The question is therefore insoluble. We must be content to 
work with possibilities. The result of a full discussion of the 
resolve to suffer and the significance attached to the suffering is 
summed up by Strauss in the following sentences. "In view of 
these considerations it is possible that Jesus might, by a natural 
process of thought, have come to see how greatly such a catastrophe 
would contribute to the spiritual development of His disciples, and 
in accordance with national conceptions, interpreted in the light of 
some Old Testament passages, might have arrived at the idea of 
an atoning power in His Messianic death. At the same time the 
explicit utterance which the Synoptists attribute to Jesus describing 
His death as an atoning sacrifice, might well belong rather to the 
system of thought which grew up after the death of Jesus, and the 
saying which the Fourth Gospel puts into His mouth regarding the 
relation of His death to the coming of the Paraclete might seem 
to be prophecy after the event. So that even in these sayings of 
Jesus regarding the purpose of His death, it is necessary to 
distinguish between the particular and the general." 

Strauss's " Life of Jesus " has a different significance for modern 
theology from that which it had for his contemporaries. For them 
it was the work which made an end of miracle as a matter of 
historical belief, and gave the mythological explanation its due. 

We, however, find in it also an historical aspect of a positive 
character, inasmuch as the historic Personality which emerges from 
the mist of myth is a Jewish claimant of the Messiahship, whose 
world of thought is purely eschatological. Strauss is, therefore, no 
mere destroyer of untenable solutions, but also the prophet of a 
coming advance in knowledge. 


It was, however, his own fault that his merit in this respect was 
not recognised in the nineteenth century, because in his " Life of 
Jesus for the German People" (1864), where he undertook to draw 
a positive historic picture of Jesus, he renounced his better opinions 
of 1835, eliminated eschatology, and, instead of the historic Jesus, 
portrayed the Jesus of liberal theology. 


David Friedrich Strauss. Streitschriften zur Verteidigung meiner Schrift uber das 
Leben-Jesu und zur Charakteristik der gegenwartigen Theologie. (Replies to 
criticisms of my work on the Life of Jesus ; with an estimate of present-day 
theology.) Tubingen, 1837. 

Das Leben-Jesu, 3te verbesserte Auflage (3rd revised edition). 1838-1839, 

August Tholuck. Die Glaubwiirdigkeit der evangelischen Geschichte, zugleich eine 
Kritik des Lebens Jesu von Strauss. (The Credibility of the Gospel History, 
with an incidental criticism of Strauss's " Leben-Jesu.") Hamburg, 1837. 

Aug. Wilh. Neander. Das Leben Jesu-Christi. Hamburg, 1837.. 

Dr. Neanders auf hohere Veranlassung abgefasstes Gutachten uber das Buch des 
Dr. Strauss' ' ' Leben-Jesu" und das in Beziehung auf die Verbreitung desselben zu 
beachtende Verfahren. (Dr. Neander's report, drawn up at the request of the 
authorities, upon Dr. Strauss's "Leben-Jesu" and the measures to be adopted in 
regard to its circulation. ) 1836. 

Leonhard Hug. Gutachten uber das Leben-Jesu, kritisch bearbeitet von D. Fr. 
Strauss. (Report on D. Fr. Strauss's critical work upon the Life of Jesus.) 
Freiburg, 1840. 

Christian Gottlob Wilke. Tradition und Mythe. Ein Beitrag zur historischen 
Kritik der kanonischen Evangelien uberhaupt, wie insbesondere zur Wiirdigung 
des mythischen Idealismus im Leben-Jesu von Strauss. (Tradition and Myth. 
A Contribution to the General Historical Criticism of the Gospels ; with 
special reference to the mythical idealism of Strauss's " Leben-Jesu.") Leipzig, 

August Ebrard. Wissenschaftliche Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte. (Scientific 
Criticism of the Gospel History.) Frankfort, 1842. 

Georg Heinr. Aug. Ewald. Geschichte Christus' und seiner Zeit. (History of 
Christ and His Times.) 1855. Fifth volume of the "Geschichte des Volkes 

Christoph Friedrich von Ammon. Die Geschichte des Lebens Jesu mit steter 
Riicksicht auf die vorhandenen Quellen. (History of the Life of Jesus with 
constant reference to the extant sources. ) 3 vols. 1842-1847. 

SCARCELY ever has a book let loose such a storm of controversy ; 
and scarcely ever has a controversy been so barren of immediate 
result. The fertilising rain brought up a crop of toad-stools. Of 
the forty or fifty essays on the subject which appeared in the next 

97 7 


five years, there are only four or five which are of any value, and 
even of these the value is very small. 

Strauss's first idea was to deal with each of his opponents 
separately, and he published in 1837 three successive Streit- 
schriften} In the preface to the first of these he states that he 
has kept silence for two years from a rooted objection to anything 
in the nature of reply or counter-criticism, and because he had 
little expectation of any good results from such controversy. These 
essays are able, and are often written with biting scorn, especially 
that directed against his inveterate enemy, Steudel of Tubingen, 
the representative of intellectual supernaturalism, and that against 
Eschenmayer, a pastor, also of Tubingen. To a work of the latter, 
"The Iscariotism of our Days" (1835), he had referred in the 
preface to the second volume of his Life of Jesus in the following 
remark : " This offspring of the legitimate marriage between 
theological ignorance and religious intolerance, blessed by a sleep- 
walking philosophy, succeeds in making itself so completely 
ridiculous that it renders any serious reply unnecessary." 

But for all his sarcasm Strauss does not show himself an 
adroit debater in this controversy, any more than in later times 
in the Diet. 

It is indeed remarkable how unskilled in polemics is this man 
who had produced a critical work of the first importance with 
almost playful ease. If his opponents made no effort to understand 
him rightly and many of them certainly wrote without having 
carefully studied the fourteen hundred pages of his two volumes 
Strauss on his part seemed to be stricken with a kind of uncertainty, 
lost himself in a maze of detail, and failed to keep continually 
re-formulating the main problems which he had set up for discussion, 
and so compelling his adversaries to face them fairly. 

Of these problems there were three. The first was composed 
of the related questions regarding miracle and myth ; the second 
concerned the connexion of the Christ of faith with the Jesus of 

1 For general title see above. First part : ' ' Herr Dr. Steudel, or the Self-deception 
of the Intellectual Supernaturalism of our Time." 182 pp. Second part: "Die 
Herren Eschenmayer und Menzel. " 247 pp. Third part : " Die evangelische Kirchen- 
zeitung, die Jahrbucher fur wissenschaftliche Kritik und Die theologischen Studien 
und Kritiken in ihrer Stellung zu meiner Kritik des Lebens Jesu. " (The attitude taken 
up by ... in regard to my critical Life of Jesus.) 179 pp. In the Studien und 
Kritiken two reviews had appeared : a critical review by Dr. Ullmann (vol. for 1836, pp. 
770-816) and that of Miiller, written from the standpoint of the ' ' common faith " (vol. 
for 1836, pp. 816-890). In the Evangelische Kirchenzeitungfae articles referred to are 
the following : Vorwort (Editorial Survey), 1836, pp. 1-6, 9-14, 17-23, 25-31, 33-38, 
41-45 ; "The Future of our Theology" (1836, pp. 281 ff. ) ; "Thoughts suggested 
by Dr. Strauss's essay on ' The Relation of Theological Criticism and Speculation 
to the Church'" (1836, pp. 382 ff. ) ; Strauss's essay had appeared in the Allgemeine 
Kirchenzeitung for 1836, No. 39. " Die kritische Bearbeitung des Lebens Jesu von 
D. F. Strauss nach ihrem wissenschaftlichen Werte beleuchtet. " (An Inquiry into the 
Scientific Value of D. F. Strauss's Critical Study of the Life of Jesus. ) By Prof. Dr. 
Harless. Erlangen, 1836. 


history ; the third referred to the relation of the Gospel of John to 
the Synoptists. 

It was the first that attracted most attention ; more than half 
the critics devoted themselves to it alone. Even so they failed to 
get a thorough grasp of it. The only thing that they clearly see 
is that Strauss altogether denies the miracles ; the full scope of the 
mythological explanation as applied to the traditional records of 
the life of Jesus, and the extent of the historical material which 
Strauss is prepared to accept, is still a riddle to them. That is in 
some measure due, it must in fairness be said, to the arrangement 
of Strauss's own work, in which the unconnected series of separate 
investigations makes the subject unnecessarily difficult even for one 
who wishes to do the author justice. 

The attitude towards miracle assumed in the anti- Strauss 
literature shows how far the anti-rationalistic reaction had carried 
professedly scientific theology in the direction of supernaturalism. 
Some significant symptoms had begun to show themselves even 
in Hase and Schleiermacher of a tendency towards the overcoming 
of rationalism by a kind of intellectual gymnastic which ran some 
risk of falling into insincerity. The essential character of this 
new kind of historical theology first came to light when Strauss 
put it to the question, and forced it to substitute a plain yes or no 
for the ambiguous phrases with which this school had only too 
quickly accustomed itself to evade the difficulties of the problem 
of miracle. The mottoes with which this new school of theology 
adorned the works which it sent forth against the untimely troubler 
of their peace manifest its complete perplexity, and display the 
coquettish resignation with which the sacred learning of the time 
essayed to cover its nakedness, after it had succumbed to the 
temptation of the* serpent insincerity. Adolf Harless of Erlangen 
chose the melancholy saying of Pascal : " Tout tourne bien pour 
les elus, jusqu'aux obscurites de Pe'criture, car ils les honorent a 
cause des clarte"s divines qu'ils y voient ; et tout tourne en mal 
aux reprouves, jusqu'aux clartes, car ils les blasphement a cause des 
obscurites qu'ils n'entendent pas." 1 

Herr Wilhelm Hoffmann, 2 deacon at Winnenden, selected Bacon's 
aphorism : " Animus ad amplitudinem mysteriorum pro modulo suo 
dilatetur, non mysteria ad angustias animi constringantur." (Let 
the mind, so far as possible, be expanded to the greatness of the 
mysteries, not the mysteries contracted to the compass of the mind.) 

1 "Everything turns to the advantage of the elect, even to the obscurities of 
scripture, for they treat them with reverence because of its perspicuities ; everything 
turns to the disadvantage of the reprobate, even to the perspicuities of scripture, 
for they blaspheme them because they cannot understand its obscurities." For the 
title of Harless's essay, see end of previous note. 

2 Das Leben-Jesu kritisch bearbeitet von Dr. D. F. Strauss. Gepriift fur 
Theologen und Nicht-Theologen, von Wilhelm Hoffmann. 1836. (Strauss's Critical 
Study of the Life of Jesus examined for the Benefit of Theologians and non-Theologians. ) 


Professor Ernst Osiander, 1 of the seminary at Maulbronn, 
appeals to Cicero : " O magna vis veritatis, quae contra hominum 
ingenia, calliditatem, sollertiam facillime se per ipsam defendit." 
(O mighty power of truth, which against all the ingenious devices, 
the craft and subtlety, of men, easily defends itself by its own 
strength !) 

Franz Baader, of Munich, 2 ornaments his work with the reflection : 
" II faut que les hommes soient bien loin de toi, 6 Verite' ! puisque 
tu supporte (sic/) leur ignorance, leurs erreurs, et leurs crimes." 
(Men must indeed be far from thee, O Truth, since thou art able 
to bear with their ignorance, their errors, and their crimes !) 

Tholuck 3 girds himself with the Catholic maxim of Vincent 
of Lerins: "Teneamus quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus 
creditum est." (Let us hold that which has been believed always, 
everywhere, by all.) 

The fear of Strauss had, indeed, a tendency to inspire Protestant 
theologians with catholicising ideas. One of the most competent 
reviewers of his book, Dr. Ullmann in the Studien und Kritiken^ 
had expressed the wish that it had been written in Latin to prevent 
its doing harm among the people. 4 An anonymous dialogue of the 
period shows us the schoolmaster coming in distress to the clergy- 
man. He has allowed himself to be persuaded into reading the 
book by his acquaintance the Major, and he is now anxious to 
get rid of the doubts which it has aroused in him. When his cure 
has been safely accomplished, the reverend gentleman dismisses 
him with the following exhortation : " Now I hope that after the 
experience which you have had you will for the. future refrain from 
reading books of this kind, which are not written for you, and of 
which there is no necessity for you to take any notice ; and for 
the refutation of which, should that be needful, you have no 

1 Apologie des Lebens Jesu gegeniiber dent neuesten Versuch, es in Mythen auf- 
zulosen. (Defence of the Life of Jesus against the latest attempt to resolve it into 
myth. ) ^ By Joh. Ernst Osiander, Professor at the Evangelical Seminary at Maulbronn. 

2 Uber das Leben-Jesu von Strauss, von Franz Baader, 1836. Here may be 
mentioned also the lectures which Krabbe (subsequently Professor at Rostock) 
delivered against Strauss : Vorlesungen iiber das Leben-Jesu fur Theologen und Nicht- 
Theologen (Lectures on the Life of Jesus for Theologians and non-Theologians), 
Hamburg, 1839. They are more tolerable to n on -theologians than to theologians. 
The author at a later period distinguished himself by the fanatical zeal with 
which he urged on the deposition of his colleague, Michael Baumgarten, whose 
Geschichte Jesu, published in 1859, though fully accepting the miracles, was weighed 
in the balance by Krabbe and found light-weight by the Rostock standard. 

8 For the title, see head of chapter. Tholuck was born in 1799 at Breslau, and 
became in 1826 Professor at Halle, where he worked until his death in 1877. 
With the possible exception of Neander, he was the most distinguished representative 
of the mediating theology. His piety was deep and his learning was wide, but his 
judgment went astray in the effort to steer his freight of pietism safely between the 
rocks of rationalism and the shoals of orthodoxy. 

4 Stud. u. Krit.i 1836, p. 777. In his "Open letter to Dr. Ullmann," Strauss 
examines this suggestion in a serious and dignified fashion, and shows that nothing 
would be gained by such expedients. Streitschriften, 3rd pt., p. 129 ff. 


equipment. You may be quite sure that anything useful or 
profitable for you which such books may contain will reach you 
in due course through the proper channel and in the right way, 
and, that being so, you are under no necessity to jeopardise any 
part of your peace of mind." 

Tholuck's work professedly aims only at presenting a " historical 
argument for the credibility of the miracle stories of the Gospels." 
"Even if we admit," he says in one place, "the scientific position 
that no act can have proceeded from Christ which transcends the 
laws of nature, there is still room for the mediating view of Christ's 
miracle-working activity. This leads us to think of mysterious 
powers of nature as operating in the history of Christ powers 
such as we have some partial knowledge of, as, for example, those 
magnetic powers which have survived down to our own time, like 
ghosts lingering on after the coming of day." From the standpoint 
of this spurious rationalism he proceeds to take Strauss to task 
for rejecting the miracles. "Had this latest critic been able to 
approach the Gospel miracles without prejudice, in the Spirit of 
Augustine's declaration, 'dardum est deo, eum aliquid facere posse 
quod nos investigare non poss^tr-us,' he would certainly since he 
is a man who in addition to the acumen of the scholar possesses 
sound common sense have oome to a'diFerent' conclusion in regard 
to these difficulties. As it is, however, he has approached the 
Gospels with the conviction that miracles are impossible ; and on 
that assumption, it was certain before the argument began that 
the Evangelists were either deceivers or deceived." 

Neander, in his Life of Jesus, 1 handles the question with more 
delicacy of touch, rather in the style of Schleiermacher. " Christ's 
miracles," he explains, "are to be understood as an influencing of 
nature, human or material." He does not, however, give so much 

1 Das Leben Jesu-Christi. Hamburg, 1837. Aug. Wilhelm Neander was born in 
1789 at Gottingen, of Jewish parents, his real name being David Mendel. He was 
baptized in 1806, studied theology, and in 1813 was appointed to a professorship in 
Berlin, where he displayed a many-sided activity and exercised a beneficent influence. 
He died in 1850. The best-known of his writings is the Geschichte der Pflanzung 
und Leitung der christlichen Kirche durch die Apostel (History of the Propagation 
and Administration of the Christian Church by the Apostles), Hamburg, 1832-1833, 
of which a reprint appeared as late as 1890. Neander was a man not only of deep 
piety, but also of great solidity of character. 

Strauss, in his Life of Jesus of 1864, passes the following judgment upon Neander's 
work : "A book such as in these circumstances Neander's Life of Jesus was bound 
to be calls forth our sympathy ; the author himself acknowledges in his preface that 
it bears upon it only too clearly the marks of the time of crisis, division, pain, and 
distress in which it was produced. " 

Of the innumerable "positive" Lives of Jesus which appeared about the end of 
the 'thirties we may mention that of Julius Hartmann (2 vols. , 1837-1839). Among 
the later Lives of Jesus of the mediating theology may be mentioned that of Theodore 
Pressel of Tubingen, which was much read at the time of its appearance (1857, 592 pp. ). 
It aims primarily at edification. We may also mention the Leben des Herrn Jesu 
Christi by Wil. Jak. Lichtenste'in (Erlangen, 1856), which reflects the ideas of von 


prominence as Schleiermacher had done to the difficulty involved in 
the supposition of an influence exercised upon material nature. 
He repeats Schleiermacher's assertions, but without the imposing 
dialectic which in Schleiermacher's hands almost commands assent. 
In regard to the miracle at Cana he remarks : " We cannot indeed 
form any clear conception of an effect brought about by the intro- 
duction of a higher creative principle into the natural order, since 
we have no experience on which to base such a conception, but we 
are by no means compelled to take this extreme view as to what 
happened ; we may quite well suppose that Christ by an immediate 
influence upon the water communicated to it a higher potency 
which enabled it to produce the effects of strong wine." In the 
case of all the miracles he makes a point of seeking not only the 
explanation, but the higher symbolical significance. The miracle 
of the fig-tree which is sui generis has only this symbolical sig- 
nificance, seeing that it is not beneficent and creative but destructive. 
" It can only be thought of as a vivid illustration of a prediction of 
the Divine judgment, after the manner of the symbolic actions of 
the Old Testament prophets." 

With reference to the ascension and the resurrection he writes : 
" Even though we can form no clear idea of the exact way in which 
the exaltation of'. Qirist from v.he earth took place and indeed 
there is much that is obscure in regard to "the earthly life of Christ 
after His resurrection yet, in its place in the organic unity of the 
Christian faith, it is as certain as the resurrection, which apart from 
it cannot be recognised in its true significance." 

That extract is typical of Neander's Life of Jesus, which in its 
time was hailed as a great achievement, calculated to provide a 
learned refutation of Strauss's criticism, and of which a seventh 
edition appeared as late as 1872. The real piety of heart with 
which it is imbued cannot conceal the fact that it is a patchwork of 
unsatisfactory compromises. It is the child of despair, and has 
perplexity for godfather. One cannot read it without pain. 

Neander, however, may fairly claim to be judged, not by this 
work, but by his personal attitude in the Strauss controversy. And 
here he appears as a magnanimous and dignified representative of 
theological science. Immediately after the appearance of Strauss's 
book, which, it was at once seen, would cause much offence, the 
Prussian Government asked Neander to report upon it, with a view 
to prohibiting the circulation, should there appear to be grounds for 
doing so. He presented his report on the i5th of November 1835, 
and, an inaccurate account of it having appeared in the Allgemeine 
Zeitung, subsequently published it. 1 In it he censures the work as 
being written from a too purely rationalistic point of view, but 
strongly urges the Government not to suppress it by an edict. He 
1 For title see head of chapter. 


describes it as " a book which, it must be admitted, constitutes a 
danger to the sacred interests of the Church, but which follows the 
method of endeavouring to produce a reasoned conviction by means 
of argument Hence any other method of dealing with it than by 
meeting argument with argument will appear in the unfavourable 
light of an arbitrary interference with the freedom of science." 

In holding that scientific theology will be able by its own 
strength to overthrow whatever in Strauss's Life of Jesus deserves to 
be overthrown, Neander is at one with the anonymous writer of 
" Aphorisms in Defence of Dr. Strauss and his Work," l who consoles 
himself with Goethe's saying 

Das Tiichtige, auch wenn es falsch ist, 
Wirkt Tag fur Tag, von Haus zu Haus ; 
Das Tiichtige, wenn's wahrhaftig ist, 
Wirkt liber alle Zeiten hinaus. 2 

(Strive hard, and though your aim be wrong, 
Your work shall live its little day ; 
Strive hard, and for the truth be strong, 
Your work shall live and grow for aye.) 

" Dr. Strauss," says this anonymous writer, " does not represent 
the author's views, and he on his part cannot undertake to defend Dr. 
Strauss's conclusions. But it is clear to him that Dr. Strauss's work 
considered as a scientific production is more scientific than the 
works opposed to it from the side of religion are religious. Other- 
wise why are they so passionate, so apprehensive, so unjust ? " 

This confidence in pure critical science was not shared by 
Herr Privat-Docent Daniel Schenkel of Basle, afterwards Professor 
at Heidelberg. In a dreary work dedicated to his Gottingen 
teacher Liicke, on " Historical Science and the Church," 3 he looks 
for future salvation towards that middle region where faith and 
science interpenetrate, and hails the new supernaturalism which 
approximates to a scientific treatment of these subjects "as a hope- 
ful phenomenon." He rejoices in the violent opposition at Zurich 
which led to the cancelling of Strauss's appointment, regarding 
it as likely to exercise an elevating influence. A similarly lofty 
position is taken up by the anonymous author of " Dr. Strauss and 
the Zurich Church," 4 to which De Wette contributed a preface. 

1 Aphorismen zur Apologie des Dr. Strauss und seines Werkes. Grimma, 1838. 

2 From the Xame Xenien, p. 259 of Goethe's Works, ed. Hempel. 

3 Die Wissenschaft und die Kirche. Zur Verstdndigung iiber die Straussische 
Angelegenheit. (A contribution to the adjustment of opinion regarding the Strauss 
affair.) By Daniel Schenkel, Licentiate in Theology and Privat-Docent of the 
University of Basle, with a dedicatory letter to Herr Dr. Lucke, Konsistorialrat. 
Basle, 1839. 

4 Dr. Strauss und die Ziiricher Kirche. Eine Stimme aus Norddeutschland. Mit 
einer Vorrede von Dr. W. M. L. de Wette. (A voice from North Germany. With 
an introduction by Dr. W. M. L. de Wette.) Basle, 1839. 


Though professing great esteem for Strauss, and admitting that from 
the purely historical point of view he is in the right, the author feels 
bound to congratulate the Zurichers on having refused to admit 
him to the office of teacher. 

The pure rationalists found it much more difficult than did the 
mediating theologians, whether of the older or younger school, to 
adjust their attitude to the new solution of the miracle question. 
Strauss himself had made it difficult for them by remorselessly 
exposing the absurd and ridiculous aspects of their method, and 
by refusing to recognise them as allies in the battle for truth, as 
they really were. Paulus would have been justified in bearing him 
a grudge. But the inner greatness of that man of hard exterior 
comes out in the fact that he put his personal feelings in the back- 
ground, and when Strauss became the central figure in the battle for 
the purity and freedom of historical science he ignored his attacks 
on rationalism and came to his defence. In a very remarkable 
letter to the Free Canton of Zurich, on " Freedom in Theological 
Teaching and in the Choice of Teachers for Colleges," 1 he urges-the 
council and the people to appoint Strauss because of the principle 
at stake, and in order to avoid giving any encouragement to the 
retrograde movement in historical science. It is as though he felt 
that the end of rationalism had come, but that, in the person of 
the enemy who had defeated it, the pure love of truth, which 
was the only thing that really mattered, would triumph over all 
the forces of reaction. 

It would not, however, be true to say that Strauss had beaten 
rationalism from the field. In Ammon's famous Life of Jesus, 2 in 
which the author takes up a very respectful attitude towards 
Strauss, there is a vigorous survival of a peculiar kind of 
rationalism inspired by Kant. For Ammon, a miraculous event 
can only exist when its natural causes have been discovered. " The 
sacred history is subject to the same laws as all other narratives of 
antiquity." Liicke, in dealing with the raising of Lazarus, had 
thrown out the question whether Biblical miracles could be thought 
of historically at all, and in so doing supposed that he was putting 
their absolute character on a firmer basis. "We," says Ammon, 
"give the opposite answer from that which is expected; only 
historically conceivable miracles can be admitted." He cannot 
away with the constant confusion of faith and knowledge found in 

1 Uber theologische Lehrfreiheit und Lehrerwahl fur Hochschulen. Zurich, 1839. 

2 For full title see head of chapter. Reference may also be made to the same 
author's Fortbildung des Christentums zur Weltreligion. (Development of 
Christianity into a World-religion. ) Leipzig, 1833 1835. 4 vols. Ammon was born 
in 1766 at Bayreuth ; became Professor of theology at Erlangen in 1790 ; was 
Professor in Gottingen from 1794 to 1804, and, after being back in Erlangen in the 
meantime, became in 1813 Senior Court Chaplain and ' ' Oberkonsistorialrat " at 
Dresden, where he died in 1850. He was the most distinguished representative of 
historico-critical rationalism. 


so many writers " who swim in an ocean of ideas in which the 
real and the illusory are as inseparable as salt and sea-water in 
the actual ocean." In every natural process, he explains, we have 
to suppose, according to Kant, an interpenetration of natural and 
supernatural. For that very reason the purely supernatural does 
not exist for our experience. " It is no doubt certain," so he lays 
it down on the lines of Kant's Kritik der reinen Vernunft, " that 
every act of causation which goes forth from God must be 
immediate, universal, and eternal, because it is thought as an effect 
of His will, which is exalted above space and time and interpene- 
trates both of them, but without abolishing them, leaving them 
undisturbed in their continuity and succession. For us men, there- 
fore, all action of God is mediate, because we are completely 
surrounded by time and space, as the fish is by the sea or the bird 
by the air, and apart from these relations we should be incapable 
of apperception, and therefore of any real experience. As free 
beings we can, indeed, think of miracle as immediately Divine, but 
we cannot perceive it as such, because that would be impossible 
without seeing God, which for wise reasons is forbidden to us." " In 
accordance with these principles, we shall hold it to be our duty in 
what follows to call attention to the natural side even of the 
miracles of Jesus, since apart from this no fact can become an 
object of belief." 

It is only in this intelligible sense that the cures of Jesus are to 
be thought of as " miracles." The magnetic force, with which the 
mediating theology makes play, is to be rejected. " The cure of 
psychical diseases by the power of the word and of faith is the only 
kind of cure in which the student of natural science can find any 
basis for a conjecture regarding the way in which the cures of Jesus 
were effected." 

In the case of the other miracles Ammon assumes a kind of 
Occasionalism, in the sense that it may have pleased the Divine 
Providence "to fulfil in fact the confidently spoken promises of 
Jesus, and in that way to confirm His personal authority, which was 
necessary to the establishment of His doctrine of the Divine 

In most cases, however, he is content to repeat the rationalistic 
explanation, and portrays a Jesus who makes use of medicines, 
allows the demoniac himself to rush upon the herd of swine, helps 
a leper, whom he sees to be suffering only from one of the milder 
forms of the disease, to secure the public recognition of his being 
legally clean, and who exerts himself to prevent by word and act 
the premature burial of persons in a state of trance. The story of 
the feeding of the multitude is based on some occasion when there 
was "a bountiful display of hospitality, a generous sharing of 
provisions, inspired by Jesus' prayer of thanksgiving and the 


example which He set when the disciples were inclined selfishly 
to hold back their own supply." The story of the miracle at Cana 
rests on a mere misunderstanding, those who report it not having 
known that the wine which Jesus caused to be secretly brought 
forth was the wedding-gift which he was presenting in the name of 
the family. As a disciple of Kant, however, Ammon feels obliged 
to refute the imputation that Jesus could have done anything to 
promote excess, and calculates that the present of wine which Jesus 
had intended to give the bridal pair may be estimated as equivalent 
to not more than eighteen bottles. 1 He explains the walking on 
the sea by claiming for Jesus an acquaintance with "the art of 
treading water." 

Only in regard to the explanation of the resurrection does 
Ammon break away from rationalism. He decides that the reality 
of the death of Jesus is historically proved. But he does not 
venture to suppose a real reawaking to life, and remains at the stand- 
point of Herder. 

But the way in which, in spite of the deeper view of the con- 
ception of miracle which he owes to Kant, he constantly falls back 
upon the most pedestrian naturalistic explanations, and his failure to 
rid himself of the prejudice that an actual, even if not a miraculous 
fact must underlie all the recorded miracles, is in itself sufficient to 
prove that we have here to do with a mere revival of rationalism : 
that is, with an untenable theory which Strauss's refutation of 
Paulus had already relegated to the past. 

It was an easier task for pure supernaturalism than for pure 
rationalism to come to terms with Strauss. For the former Strauss 
was only the enemy of the mediating theology there was nothing 
to fear from him and much to gain. Accordingly Hengstenberg's 
Evangelische Kirchenzeitung hailed Strauss's book as " one of the 
most gratifying phenomena in the domain of recent theological 
literature," and praises the author for having carried out with 
logical consistency the application of the mythical theory which 
had formerly been restricted to the Old Testament and certain 
parts only of the Gospel tradition. "All that Strauss has done 
is to bring the spirit of the age to a clear consciousness of itself 
and of the necessary consequences which flow from its essential 

1 He is at one with Strauss in rejecting the explanation of this miracle on the 
analogy of an expedited natural process, to which Hase had pointed, and which was first 
suggested by Augustine in Tract viii. in loann. : ' ' That Christ changed water into 
wine is nothing wonderful to those who consider the works of God. What was 
there done in the water-pots, God does yearly in the vine." [Augustine's words are : 
Miraculum quidem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, quo de aqua vinum fecit, non est 
mirum eis qui noverunt quia Deus fecit (i.e. that He who did it was God). Ipse enim 
fecit vinum illo die .... in sex hydriis, qui omni anno facit hoc in vitibus.] 
Nevertheless the poorest naturalistic explanation is at least better than the resignation 
of Liicke, who is content to wait ' ' until it please God through the further progress of 
Christian thought and life to bring about the solution of this riddle in its natural and 
historical aspects." Liicke, Johannes- Kommentar, p. 474 ff. 


character. He has taught it how to get rid of foreign elements 
which were still present in it, and which marked an imperfect stage 
of its development." 

He has been the most influential factor in the necessary process 
of separation. There is no one with whom Hengstenberg feels 
himself more in agreement than with the Tubingen scholar. Had 
he not shown with the greatest precision how the results of the 
Hegelian philosophy, one may say, of philosophy in general, reacted 
upon Christian faith ? " The relation of speculation to faith has 
now come clearly to light." 

"Two nations," writes Hengstenberg in 1836, "are struggling 
in the womb of our time, and two only. They will be ever more 
definitely opposed to one another. Unbelief will more and more 
cast off the elements of faith to which it still clings, and 
faith will cast off its elements of unbelief. That will be an in- 
estimable advantage. Had the Time-spirit continued to make 
concessions, concessions would constantly have been made to it 
in return." Therefore the man who "calmly and deliberately laid 
hands upon the Lord's anointed, undeterred by the vision of the 
millions who have bowed the knee, and still bow the knee, before 
His appearing," has in his own way done a service. 

Strauss on his part escaped with relief from the musty atmo- 
sphere of the study beloved by theology in carpet-slippers to the 
bracing air of Hengstenberg's Kirchenzeitung. In his "Replies" 
he devotes to it some fifty-four pages. " I must admit," he says, 
" that it is a satisfaction to me to have to do with the Evangelische 
Kirchenzeitung. In dealing with it one knows where one is and 
what one has to expect. If Herr Hengstenberg condemns, he 
knows why he condemns, and even one against whom he launches 
his anathema must admit that the attitude becomes him. Any one 
who, like the editor of the Evangelische Kirchenzeitung^ has taken 
upon him the yoke of confessional doctrine with all its implications, 
has paid a price which entitles him to the privilege of condemning 
those who differ from his opinions." 1 

Hengstenberg's only complaint against Strauss is that he does 
not go far enough. He would have liked to force upon him the 
role of the Wolfenbiittel Fragmentist, and considers that if Strauss 
did not, like the latter, go so far as to suppose the apostles guilty 
of deliberate deceit, that is not so much from any regard for the 
historical kernel of Christianity as in order to mask his attack. 

Even in Catholic theology Strauss's work caused a great 
sensation. Catholic theology in general did not at that time take 
up an attitude of absolute isolation from Protestant scholarship ; 

1 Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg was born in 1802 at Frondenberg in the 
"county " (Grafschaff) of Mark, became Professor of Theology in Berlin in 1826, and 
died there in 1869. He founded the Evangelische Kirchenzeitung in 1827. 


it had adopted from the latter numerous rationalistic ideas, and 
had been especially influenced by Schleiermacher. Thus, Catholic 
scholars were almost prepared to regard Strauss as a common 
enemy, against whom it was possible to make common cause with 
Protestants. In 1837 Joseph Mack, one of the Professors of the 
Catholic faculty at Tubingen, published his " Report on Herr Dr. 
Strauss's Historical Study of the Life of Jesus." J In 1839 appeared 
" Dr. Strauss's Life of Jesus, considered from the Catholic point of 
view," 2 by Dr. Maurus Hagel, Professor of Theology at the Lyceum 
at Dillingen ; in 1840 that lover of hypotheses and doughty fighter, 
Johann Leonhard Hug, 3 presented his report upon the work. 4 

Even French Catholicism gave some attention to Strauss's work. 
This marks an epoch the introduction of the knowledge of 
German critical theology into the intellectual world of the Latin 
nations. In the Revue des deux mondes for December 1838, 
Edgar Quinet gave a clear and accurate account of the influence 
of the Hegelian philosophy upon the religious ideas of cultured 
Germany. 5 In an eloquent peroration he lays bare the danger 
which was menacing the Church from the nation of Strauss and 
Hegel. His countrymen need not think that it could be charmed 
away by some ingenious formula ; a mighty effort of the Catholic 
spirit was necessary, if it was to be successfully opposed. " A new 
barbarian invasion was rolling up against sacred Rome. The 
barbarians were streaming from every quarter of the horizon, 
bringing their strange gods with them and preparing to beleaguer 
the holy city. As, of yore, Leo went forth to meet Attila, so now 
let the Papacy put on its purple and come forth, while yet there 
is time, to wave back with an authoritative gesture the devastating 
hordes into that moral wilderness which is their native home." 

Quinet might have done better still if he had advised the Pope 
to issue, as a counterblast to the unbelieving critical work of 

1 Bericht iiber des Herrn Dr. Strauss historische Bearbeitung des Lebens Jesu. 

2 Dr. Strauss' Leben-Jesu aus dent Standpunkt des Catholicismus betrachtet. 

3 Johann Leonhard Hug was born in 1765 at Constance, and had been since 
1791 Professor of New Testament Theology at Freiburg, where he died in 1846. 
He had a wide knowledge of his own department of theology, and his Introduction to 
the New Testament Writings won him some reputation among Protestant theologians 

4 Among the Catholic " Leben-Jesu," of which the authors found their incentive 
in the desire to oppose Strauss, the first place belongs to that of Kuhn of Tubingen. 
Unfortunately only the first volume appeared (1838, 488 pp.). Here there is a 
serious and scholarly attempt to grapple with the problems raised by Strauss. Of 
less importance is the work of the same title in seven volumes, by the Munich Priest 
and Professor of History, Nepomuk Sepp (1843-1846 ; 2nd ed. 1853-1862). 

5 Uber das Leben-Jesu von Doctor Strauss. By Edgar Quinet. Translated from 
the French by Georg Kleine. Published by J. Erdmann and C. C. Miiller, 1839. 
In 1840 Strauss's book was translated into French by M. Littre". It failed, however, 
to exercise any influence upon French theology or literature. Strauss is one of those 
German thinkers who always remain foreign and unintelligible to the French mind. 
Could Renan have written his Life of Jesus as he did if he had had even a partial 
understanding of Strauss ? 


Strauss, the Life of Jesus which had been revealed to the faith of 
the blessed Anna Katharina Emmerich. 1 How thoroughly this 
refuted Strauss can be seen from the fragment issued in 1834, 
"The Bitter Sufferings of Our Lord Jesus Christ," where even the 
age of Jesus on the day of His death is exactly given. On that 
Maundy Thursday the i3th Nisan, it was exactly thirty-three years 
and eighteen weeks less one day. The " pilgrim " Clement 
Brentano would certainly have consented, had he been asked, to 
allow his note-books to be used in the sacred cause, and to have 
given to the world the Life of Jesus as it was revealed to him by 
this visionary from the end of July 1820 day by day for three years, 
instead of allowing this treasure to remain hidden for more than 
twenty years longer. He himself ascribed to these visions the most 
strictly historical character, and insisted on considering them not 
merely as reflections on what had happened, but as the immediate 
reflex of the facts themselves, so that the picture of the life of 
Jesus is given in them as in a mirror. Hug, it may be mentioned, 
in his lectures, called attention to the exact agreement of the topo- 
graphy of the passion story in Katharina's vision with the descrip- 
tion of the locality in Josephus. If he had known her complete 
Life of Jesus he would doubtless have expressed his admiration for 
the way in which she harmonises John and the Synoptists; and 
with justice, for the harmony is really ingenious and skilfully 

Apart from these merits, too, this Life of Jesus, written, it 
should be observed, earlier than Strauss's, contains a wealth of 
interesting information. John at first baptized at Aenon, but later 
was directed to remove to Jericho. The baptisms took place in 
" baptismal springs." 

Peter owned three boats, of which one was fitted up especially 

1 Anna Katharina Emmerich was born in 1774 at Flamske near Coesfeld. Her 
parents were peasants. In 1803 she took up her abode with the Augustinian nuns 
of the convent of Agnetenberg at Diilmen. After the dissolution of the convent, 
she lived in a single room in Diilmen itself. The " stigmata " showed themselves first 
in 1812. She died on the 9th of February 1824. Brentano had been in her neigh- 
bourhood since 1819. Das bittere Leiden unseres Herrn Jesu Christi (The Bitter 
Sufferings of Our Lord Jesus Christ) was issued by Brentano himself in 1834. The 
Life of Jesus was published on the basis of notes left by him he died in 1842 in 
three volumes, 1858-1860, at Regensburg, under the sanction of the Bishop of 
Li m berg. 

First volume. From the death of St. Joseph to the end of the first year after the 
Baptism of Jesus in Jordan. Communicated between May i, 1821, and October i, 

Second volume. From the beginning of the second year after the Baptism in 
Jordan to the close of the second Passover in Jerusalem. Communicated between 
October i, 1822, and April 30, 1823. 

Third volume. From the close of the second Passover in Jerusalem to the 
Mission of the Holy Spirit. Communicated between October 21, 1823, and January 
8, 1824, and from July 29, 1820, to May 1821. 

Both works have been frequently reissued, the "Bitter Sufferings" as late as 


for the use of Jesus, and carried a complement of ten persons. 
Forward and aft there were covered-in spaces where all kinds of 
gear could be kept, and where also they could wash their feet ; 
along the sides of the boat were hung receptacles for the fish. 

When Judas Iscariot became a disciple of Jesus he was twenty- 
five years old. He had black hair and a red beard, but could not 
be called really ugly. He had had a stormy past. His mother 
had been a dancing-woman, and Judas had been born out of 
wedlock, his father being a military tribune in Damascus. As an 
infant he had been exposed, but had been saved, and later had 
been taken charge of by his uncle, a tanner at Iscariot. At the 
time when he joined the company of Jesus' disciples he had 
squandered all his possessions. The disciples at first liked him 
well enough because of his readiness to make himself useful ; he 
even cleaned the shoes. 

The fish with the stater in its mouth was so large that it made 
a full meal for the whole company. 

A work to which Jesus devoted special attention though this 
is not mentioned in the Gospels was the reconciliation of unhappy 
married couples. Another matter which is not mentioned in the 
Gospels is the voyage of Jesus to Cyprus, upon which He entered 
after a farewell meal with His disciples at the house of the 
Canaanitish woman. This voyage took place during the war 
between Herod and Aretas while the disciples were making their 
missionary journey in Palestine. As they could not give an eye- 
witness report of it they were silent; nor did they make any 
mention of the feast to which the Proconsul at Salamis invited the 
Saviour. In regard to another journey, also, which Jesus made to 
the land of the wise men of the East, the " pilgrim's " oracle has 
the advantage of knowing more than the Evangelists. 

In spite of these additional traits a certain monotony is caused 
by the fact that the visionary, in order to fill in the tale of days in 
the three years, makes the persons known to us from the Gospel 
history meet with the Saviour on several occasions previous to the 
meeting narrated in the Gospels. Here the artificial character of 
the composition comes out too clearly, though in general a lively 
imagination tends to conceal this. And yet these naive embellish- 
ments and inventions have something rather attractive about them ; 
one cannot handle the book without a certain reverence when one 
thinks amid what pains these revelations were received. If 
Brentano had published his notes at the time of the excitement 
produced by Strauss's Life of Jesus, the work would have had a 
tremendous success. As it was, when the first two volumes 
appeared at the end of the 'fifties, there were sold in one year three 
thousand and several hundred copies, without reckoning the French 
edition which appeared contemporaneously. 


In the end, however, all the efforts of the mediating theology, 
of rationalism and supernaturalism, could do nothing to shake 
Strauss's conclusion that it was all over with supernaturalism as a 
factor to be reckoned with in the historical study of the Life of 
Jesus, and that scientific theology, instead of turning back from 
rationalism to supernaturalism, must move straight onward between 
the two and seek out a new path for itself. The Hegelian method 
had proved itself to be the logic of reality. With Strauss begins 
the period of the non-miraculous view of the Life of Jesus; all 
other views exhausted themselves in the struggle against him, and 
subsequently abandoned position after position without waiting to 
be attacked. The separation which Hengstenberg had hailed with 
such rejoicing was really accomplished ; but in the form that 
supernaturalism practically separated itself from the serious study 
of history. It is not possible to date the stages of this process. 
After the first outburst of excitement everything seems to go on 
as quietly as before ; the only difference is that the question of 
miracle constantly falls more and more into the background. In 
the modern period of the study of the Life of Jesus, which begins 
about the middle of the 'sixties, it has lost all importance. 

That does not mean that the problem of miracle is solved. 
From the historical point of view it is really impossible to solve it, 
since we are not able to reconstruct the process by which a series 
of miracle stories arose, or a series of historical occurrences were 
transformed into miracle stories, and these narratives must simply 
be left with a question mark standing against them. What has 
been gained is only that the exclusion of miracle from our view of 
history has been universally recognised as a principle of criticism, 
so that miracle no longer concerns the historian either positively 
or negatively. Scientific theologians of the present day who 
desire to show their "sensibility," ask no more than that two or 
three little miracles may be left to them in the stories of the 
childhood, perhaps, or in the narratives of the resurrection. And 
these miracles are, moreover, so far scientific that they have at 
least no relation to those in the text, but are merely spiritless, 
miserable little toy-dogs of criticism, flea-bitten by rationalism, too 
insignificant to do historical science any harm, especially as their 
owners honestly pay the tax upon them by the way in which they 
speak, write, and are silent about Strauss. 

But even that is better than the delusive fashion in which some 
writers of the present day succeed in discussing the narratives of 
the resurrection " as pure historians " without betraying by a single 
word whether they themselves believe it to be possible or not. 
But the reason modern theology can allow itself these liberties is 
that the foundation laid by Strauss is unshakable. 

Compared with the problem of miracle, the question regarding 


the mythical explanation of the history takes a very subordinate 
place in the controversy. Few understood what Strauss's real 
meaning was; the general impression was that he entirely dis- 
solved the life of Jesus into myth. 

There appeared, indeed, three satires ridiculing his method. 
One showed how, for the historical science of the future, the life 
of Luther would also become a mere myth, 1 the second treated the 
life of Napoleon in the same way ; 2 in the third, Strauss himself 
becomes a myth. 3 

M. Eugene Mussard, "candidat au saint ministere," made it 
his business to set at rest the minds of the premier faculty at 
Geneva by his thesis, Du systeme mythique applique a fhistoire de la 
vie deJtsuS) 1838, which bears the ingenious motto ov o-eo-o^to-^evot? 
fj.vOois (not ... in cunningly devised myths, 2 Peter i. 16). He 
certainly did not exaggerate the difficulties of his task, but com- 
placently followed up an "Exposition of the Mythical Theory," 
with a "Refutation of the Mythical Theory as applied to the 
Life of Jesus." 

The only writer who really faced the problem in the form in 
which it had been raised by Strauss was Wilke in his work 
"Tradition and Myth." 4 He recognises that Strauss had given 
an exceedingly valuable impulse towards the overcoming of 
rationalism and supernaturalism and to the rejection of the abortive 

1 Ausziige aus der Schrift " Das Leben Luthers kritisch bearbeitet." (Extracts 
from a work entitled "A Critical Study of the Life of Luther.") By Dr. Casuar 
("Cassowary"; Strauss = Ostrich). Mexico, 2836. Edited by Julius Ferdinand 

2 Das Leben Napoleons kritisch gepriift. (A Critical Examination of the Life of 
Napoleon. ) From the English, with some pertinent applications to Strauss's Life of 
Jesus, 1836. [The English original referred to seems to have been Whateley's 
Historic Doubts relative to Napoleon Bonaparte, published in 1819, and primarily 
directed against Hume's Essay on Miracles. TRANSLATOR.] 

3 La Vie de Strauss. Ecrite en Van 2839. Paris, 1839. 

4 Ch. G. Wilke, Tradition und Mythe. A contribution to the historical criti- 
cism of the Gospels in general, and in particular to the appreciation of the treatment 
of myth and idealism in Strauss's " Life of Jesus." Leipzig, 1837. 

Christian Gottlob Wilke was born in 1786 at Werm, near Zeitz, studied theology 
and became pastor of Hermannsdorf in the Erzgebirge. He resigned this office in 
1837 in order to devote himself to his studies, perhaps also because he had become 
conscious of an inner unrest. In 1845 he prepared the way for his conversion to 
Catholicism by publishing a work entitled ' ' Can a Protestant go over to the Roman 
Church with a good conscience?" He took the decisive step in August 1846. 
Later he removed to Wiirzburg. Subsequently he recast his famous Clavis Novi 
Testamenti Philologica which had appeared in 18401841 in the form of a lexicon 
for Catholic students of theology. His Hermeneutik des Neuen Testaments, 
published in 1843-1844, appeared in 1853 as Biblische Hermeneutik nach katholischen 
Grundsdtzen (The Science of Biblical Interpretation according to Catholic principles). 
He was engaged in recasting his Clavis when he died in 1854. 

Of later works dealing with the question of myth, we may refer to Emanuel Marius, 
Die Persbnlichkeit Jesu mit besonderer Rucksicht auf die Mythologien und Mysterien 
der alien Volker (The Personality of Jesus, with special reference to the Mythologies 
and Mysteries of Ancient Nations), Leipzig, 1879, 395 PP- : ant * Otto Frick, Mythus 
und Evangelium (Myth and Gospel), Heilbronn, 1879, 44 PP- 


mediating theology. "A keener criticism will only establish the 
truth of the Gospel, putting what is tenable on a firmer basis, 
sifting out what is untenable, and showing up in all its nakedness 
the counterfeit theology of the new evangelicalism with its utter 
lack of understanding and sincerity." Again, " the approval which 
Strauss has met with, and the excitement which he has aroused, 
sufficiently show what an advantage rationalistic speculation 
possesses over the theological second-childishness of the new 
evangelicals." The time has come for a rational mysticism, 
which shall preserve undiminished the honesty of the old rational- 
ism, making no concessions to supernaturalism, but, on the other 
hand, overcoming the " truculent rationalism of the Kantian 
criticism " by means of a religious conception in which there is 
more warmth and more pious feeling. 

This rational mysticism makes it a reproach against the 
" mythical idealism " of Strauss that in it philosophy does violence 
to history, and the historic Christ only retains His significance as 
a mere ideal. A new examination of the sources is necessary to 
decide upon the extent of the mythical element. 

The Gospel of Matthew cannot, Wilke agrees, have been the 
work of an eyewitness. "The principal argument against its 
authenticity is the absence of the characteristic marks of an eye- 
witness, which must necessarily have been present in a gospel actually 
composed by a disciple of the Lord, and which are not present 
here. The narrative is lacking in precision, fragmentary and 
legendary, tradition everywhere manifest in its very form." There 
are discrepancies in the legends of the first and second chapters, as 
well as elsewhere, e.g. the stories of the baptism, the temptation, 
and the transfiguration. In other cases, where there is a basis of 
historic fact, there is an admixture of legendary material, as in the 
narratives of the death and resurrection of Jesus. 

In the Gospel of Mark, Wilke recognises the pictorial vividness 
of many of the descriptions, and conjectures that in some way or 
other it goes back to the Petrine tradition. The author of the 
Fourth Gospel is not an eyewitness ; the Kara (according to) only 
indicates the origin of the tradition ; the author received it, 
either directly or indirectly, from the Apostle, but he gave to it the 
gnosticising dialectical form of the Alexandrian theology. 

As against the Diegesentheorie x Wilke defends the independence 
and originality of the individual Gospels. " No one of the Evangelists 
knew the writing of any of the others, each produced an indepen- 
dent work drawn from a separate source." 

In the remarks on points of detail in this work of Wilke's there 
is evidence of a remarkable grasp of the critical data ; we already 
get a hint of the "mathematician" of the Synoptic problem, 

1 See p. 89 above. 



who, two years later, was to work out convincingly the literary 
argument for the priority of Mark. But the historian is quite 
subordinated to the literary critic, and, when all is said, Wilke 
takes up no clearly defined position in regard to Strauss's main 
problem, as is evident from his seeking to retain, on more or less 
plausible grounds, a whole series of miracles, among them the miracle 
of Cana and the resurrection. 

For most thinkers of that period, however, the question " myth 
or history " yielded in interest to the philosophical question of the 
relation of the historical Jesus to the ideal Christ. That was the 
second problem raised by Strauss. Some thought to refute him 
by showing that his exposition of the relation of the Jesus of 
history to the ideal Christ was not justified even from the point of 
view of the Hegelian philosophy, arguing that the edifice which 
he had raised was not in harmony with the ground-plan of the 
Hegelian speculative system. He therefore felt it necessary, in 
his reply to the review in the Jahrbiicher fur wissenschaftliche 
Kritik, to expound "the general relationship of the Hegelian 
philosophy to theological criticism," 1 and to express in more 
precise form the thoughts upon speculative and historical Christ- 
ology which he had suggested at the close of the second volume 
of his " Life of Jesus." 

He admits that Hegel's philosophy is ambiguous in this matter, 
since it is not clear " whether the evangelical fact as such, not 
indeed in its isolation, but together with the whole series of mani- 
festations of the idea (of God-manhood) in the history of the world, 
is the truth ; or whether the embodiment of the idea in that 
single fact is only a formula of which consciousness makes use in 
forming its concept." The Hegelian " right," he says, represented 
by Marheineke and Goschel, emphasises the positive side of the 
master's religious philosophy, implying that in Jesus the idea of God- 
manhood was perfectly fulfilled and in a certain sense intelligibly 
realised. " If these men," Strauss explains, " appeal to Hegel and 
declare that he would not have recognised my book as an expression 
of his meaning, they say nothing which is not in accordance with 
my own convictions. Hegel was personally no friend to historical 
criticism. It annoyed him, as it annoyed Goethe, to see the historic 
figures of antiquity, on which their thoughts were accustomed 
lovingly to dwell, assailed by critical doubts. Even if it was in 
some cases wreaths of mist which they took for pinnacles of rock, 
they did not want to have this forced upon their attention, nor to 

1 Streitschriften. Drittes Heft, pp. 55-126 : Die Jahrbucher fur wissenschaftliche 
Kritik'. i. Allgemeines Verhdltnis der Hegel schen Philosophie zur theologischen 
Kritik : ii. "Hegels Ansicht iiber den historischen Wert der evangelischen Geschichte 
(Hegel's View of the Historical Value of the Gospel History) ; iii. Verschiedene Rich- 
tungen innerhalb der Hegel' schen Schule in Betre/der Christologie (Various Tendencies 
within the Hegelian School in regard to Christology). 1837. 


be disturbed in the illusion from which they were conscious of 
receiving an elevating influence." 

But though prepared to admit that he had added to the edifice 
of Hegel's religious philosophy an annexe of historical criticism, 
of which the master would hardly have approved, Strauss is con- 
vinced that he is the only logical representative of Hegel's essential 
view. " The question which can be decided from the standpoint of 
the philosophy of religion is not whether what is narrated in the 
Gospels actually happened or not, but whether in view of the truth 
of certain conceptions it must necessarily have happened. And in 
regard to this, what I assert is that from the general system of the 
Hegelian philosophy it by no means necessarily follows that such 
an event must have happened, but that from the standpoint of 
the system the truth of that history from which actually the con- 
ception arose is reduced to a matter of indifference ; it may have 
happened, but it may just as well not have happened, and the 
task of deciding on this point may be calmly handed over to 
historical criticism." 

Strg-uss^eminds us that, even according to Hegel, the belief in 
Jesus as God-made-man is not immediately given with His appear- 
ing^in the world of sense, "Bufohly arose after His_death and the 
removal of His sensible presence. The master himself had ac- 
knowledged the existence of mythical elements in the Life of Jesus ; 
in regard to miracle he had expressed the opinion that the true 
miracle was "Spirit." The conception of the resurrection and 
ascension as outward facts of sense was not recognised by him 
as true. 

Hegel's authority may, no doubt, fairly be appealed to by those 
who believe, not only in an incarnation of God in a general sense, 
" but also that this manifestation of God in flesh has taken place 
in this man (Jesus) at this definite time and place." ... "In 
making the assertion," concludes Strauss, " that the truth of the 
Gospel narrative cannot be proved, whether in whole or in part, 
from philosophical considerations, but that the task of inquiring 
into its truth must be left to historical criticism, I should like to 
associate myself with the * left wing ' of the Hegelian school, were 
it not that the Hegelians prefer to exclude me altogether from their 
borders, and to throw me into the arms of other systems of thought 
only, it must be admitted, to have me tossed back to them like 
a ball." 

In regard to the third problem which Strauss had offered for 
discussion, the relation of the Synoptists to John, there was practi- 
cally no response. The only one of his critics who understood what 
was at stake was Hengstenberg. He alone perceived the signi- 
ficance of the fact that critical theology, having admitted mythical 
elements first in the Old Testament, and then in the beginning and 


end of the Gospel history, and having, in consequence of the latter 
admission, felt obliged to give up the first three Gospels, retaining 
only the fourth, was now being besieged by Strauss in its last 
stronghold. " They withdrew," says the Evangelische Kirchenzeitung, 
"into the Gospel of John as into a fortress, and boasted that 
they were safe there, though they could not suppress a secret 
consciousness that they only held it at the enemy's pleasure ; now 
the enemy has appeared before it ; he is using the same weapons 
with which he was formerly victorious ; the Gospel of John is in 
as desperate case as formerly the Synoptists. The time has come 
to make a bold resolve, a decisive choice ; either they must give 
up everything, or else they must successively re-occupy the more 
advanced positions which at an earlier date they had successively 
abandoned." It would be impossible to give a more accurate 
picture of the desperate position into which Hase and Schleier- 
macher had brought the mediating theology by their ingenious 
expedient of giving up the Synoptics in favour of the Gospel of 
John. Before any danger threatened, they had abandoned the 
outworks and withdrawn into the citadel, oblivious of the fact that 
they thereby exposed themselves to the danger of having their own 
guns turned upon them from the positions they had abandoned, 
and being obliged to surrender without striking a blow the position 
of which they had boasted as impregnable. It is impossible to 
emphasise strongly enough the fact that it was not Strauss, but 
Hase and Schleiermacher, who had brought the mediating 
theology into this hopeless position, in which the fall of the Fourth 
Gospel carried with it the surrender of the historical tradition as 
a whole. 

But there is no position so desperate that theology cannot 
find a way out of it. The mediating theologians simply 
ignored the problem which Strauss had raised. As they had 
been accustomed to do before, so they continued to do after, 
taking the Gospel of John as the authentic framework, and 
fitting into it the sections of the Synoptic narrative wherever 
place could best be found for them. The difference between 
the Johannine and Synoptic representations of Jesus' method 
of teaching, says Neander, is only apparently irreconcilable, and 
he calls out in support of this assertion all the reserves of old 
worn-out expedients and artifices, among others the argument 
that the Pauline Christology is only explicable as a combina- 
tion of the Synoptic and Johannine views. Other writers who 
belong to the same apologetic school, such as Tholuck, Ebrard, 1 

1 Wisstnschaftliche Kritik der evangeliscfan Geschichte. (Scientific Criticism of 
the Gospel History. ) August Ebrard. Frankfort, 1842; srded., 1868. 

Johannes Heinrich Aug. Ebrard was born in 1818 at Erlangen, was, first, Professor 
of Reformed Theology at Zurich and Erlangen, afterwards (1853) went to Speyer as 


Wieseler, 1 Lange, 2 and Ewald, 3 maintain the same point of view, 
only that their defence is usually much less skilful. 

The only writer who really in some measure enters into the 
difficulties is Ammon. He, indeed, is fully conscious of the 
difference, and thinks we cannot rest content with merely recog- 
nising it, but must find a solution, even if rather a forced one, " by 
subordinating the indefinite chronological data of the Synoptists, of 
whom, after all, only one was, or could have been, an eyewitness, 
to the ordered narrative of John." The fourth Evangelist makes so 
brief a reference to the Galilaean period because it was in accord- 
ance with his plan to give more prominence to the discourses of 
Jesus in the Temple and His dialogues with the Scribes as com- 
pared to the parables and teaching given to the people. The 
cleansing of the Temple falls at the outset of Jesus' ministry; 
Jesus begins His Messianic work in Jerusalem by this action of 
making an end of the unseemly chaffering in the court of the 
Temple. The question regarding the relative authenticity of the 
reports is decisively settled by a comparison of the two accounts of 

" Konsistorialrat," but was unable to cope with the Liberal opposition there, and 
returned in 1861 to Erlangen, where he died in 1888. 

A characteristic example of Ebrard's way of treating the subject is his method of 
meeting the objection that a fish with a piece of money in its jaws could not have 
taken the hook. ' ' The fish might very well," he explains, ' ' have thrown up the piece 
of money from its belly into the opening of the jaws in the moment in which Peter 
opened its mouth." Upon this Strauss remarks : "The inventor of this argument 
tosses it down before us as who should say, ' I know very well it is bad, but it is 
good enough for you, at any rate so long as the Church has livings to distribute 
and we Konsistorialrats have to examine the theological candidates.'" Strauss, 
therefore, characterises Ebrard's Life of Jesus as "Orthodoxy restored on a basis 
of impudence." The pettifogging character of this work made a bad impression 
even in Conservative quarters. 

1 Chronologische Synopse der vier Evangelien. (Chronological Synopsis of the 
four Gospels. ) By Karl Georg Wieseler. Hamburg, 1843. Wieseler was born in 
1813 at Altencelle (Hanover), and was Professor successively at Gottingen, Kiel, and 
Greifswald. He died in 1883. 

2 Johann Peter Lange, Pastor in Duisburg, afterwards Professor at Zurich in 
place of Strauss. Das Leben fesu. 5 vols. , 1844-1847. 

3 Georg Heinrich August Ewald, Geschichte des Volkes Israel. (History of the People 
of Israel. ) 7 vols. Gottingen, 1843-1859 ; 3rd ed. , 1864-1870. Fifth vol. , Geschichte 
Christus' und seiner Zeit. (History of Christ and His Times. ) 1855 ; 2nd ed. , 1857. 

Ewald was born in 1803 at Gottingen, where in 1827 he was appointed Professor 
ot Oriental Languages. Having made a protest against the repeal of the funda- 
mental law of the Hanoverian Constitution he was removed from his office and went 
to Tubingen, first as Professor of philology ; in 1841 he was transferred to the 
theological faculty. In 1848 he returned to Gottingen. When, in 1866, he refused 
to take the oath of allegiance to the King of Prussia, he was compulsorily retired, 
and, in consequence of imprudent expressions of opinion, was also deprived of 
the right to lecture. The town of Hanover chose him as its representative in the 
North German and in the German Reichstag, where he sat among the Guelph 
opposition, in the middle of the centre party. He died in 1875 a * Gottingen. His 
contributions to New Testament studies were much inferior to his Oriental and Old 
Testament researches. His Life of Jesus, in particular, is worthless, in spite of the 
Old Testament and Oriental learning with which it was furnished forth. He lays 
great stress upon making the genitive of " Christus" not "Christi," but, according 
to German inflection, " Christus'." 


the triumphal entry, because there it is quite evident that " Matthew, 
the chief authority among the Synoptists, adapts his narrative to 
his special Jewish-Messianic standpoint." According to Ammon's 
rationalistic view, the work of Jesus consisted precisely in the 
transformation of this Jewish-Messianic idea into the conception 
of a " Saviour of the world." In this lies the explanation of the 
fate of Jesus : " The mass of the Jewish people were not prepared 
to receive a Christ so spiritual as Jesus was, since they were not 
ripe for so lofty a view of religion." 

Ammon here turns his Kantian philosophy to account. It 
serves especially to explain to him the consciousness of pre- 
existence avowed by the Jesus of the Johannine narrative as 
something purely human. We, too, he explains, can "after the 
spirit " claim an ideal existence prior to the spatial creation without 
indulging any delusion, and without, on the other hand, thinking 
of a real existence. In this way Jesus is for Himself a Biblical 
idea, with which He has become identified. " The purer and deeper 
a man's self-consciousness is, the keener may his consciousness of 
God become, until time disappears for him, and his partaking in 
the Divine nature fills his whole soul." 

But Ammon's support of the authenticity of John's Gospel is, 
even from a purely literary point of view, not so unreserved as in 
the case of the other opponents of Strauss. In the background 
stands the hypothesis that our Gospel is only a working-over of the 
authentic John, a suggestion in regard to which Ammon can claim 
priority, since he had made it as early as iSn, 1 nine years before 
the appearance of Bretschneider's Probabilia. Were it not for the 
ingenuous fashion in which he works the Synoptic material into the 
Johannine plan, we might class him with Alexander Schweizer and 
Weisse, who in a similar way seek to meet the objections of Strauss 
by an elaborate theory of editing. 2 

The first stage of the discussion regarding the relation of John 
to the Synoptists passed without result. The mediating theology 
continued to hold its positions undisturbed and, strangest of all, 
Strauss himself was eager for a suspension of hostilities. 

It is as though history took the trouble to countersign the 

1 Ammon, Johannem evangelii auctorem ab editors huius libri fuissc diversum. 
Erlangen, 1811. 

2 No value whatever can be ascribed to the Life of Jesus by Werner Hahn, 
Berlin, 1844, 196 pp. The " didactic presentation of the history" which the author 
offers is ;not designed to meet the demands of historical criticism. He finds in the 
Gospels no bare history, but, above all, the inculcation of the principle of love. He 
casts to the winds all attempt to draw the portrait of Jesus as a true historian, 
being only concerned with its inner truth and ' ' idealises artistically and scientifically" 
the actual course of the outward life of Jesus. "It is never the business of a 
history," he explains, " to relate only the bare truth. It belongs to a mere planless 
and aimless chronicle to relate everything that happened in such a way that its words 
are a mere slavish reflection of the outward course of events. " 


genuineness of the great critical discoveries by letting the dis- 
coverers themselves attempt to cancel them. As Kant disfigures 
his critical idealism by making inconsistent additions in order to 
refute a reviewer who had put him in the same category with 
Berkeley, so Strauss inserts additions and retractations in the third 
edition of his Life of Jesus in deference to the uncritical works of 
Tholuck and Neander ! Wilke, the only one of his critics from 
whom he might have learned something, he ignores. "From the 
lofty vantage ground of Tholuck's many-sided knowledge I have 
sometimes, in spite of a slight tendency to vertigo, gained a 
juster point of view from which to look at one matter or another," 
is the avowal which he makes in the preface to this ill-starred edition. 

It would, indeed, have done no harm if he had confined him- 
self to stating more exactly here and there the extent of the 
mythical element, had increased the number of possible cures, had 
inclined a little less to the negative side in examining the claims of 
reported facts to rank as historical, and had been a little more 
circumspect in pointing out the factors which produced the myths ; 
the serious thing was that he now began to hesitate in his denial 
of the historical character of the Fourth Gospel the very founda- 
tion of his critical view. 

A renewed study of it, aided by De Wette's commentary and 
Neander's Life of Jesus, had made him " doubtful about his doubts 
regarding the genuineness and credibility of this Gospel." " Not 
that I am convinced of its genuineness," he admits, "but I am no 
longer convinced that it is not genuine." 

He feels bound, therefore, to state whatever makes in its 
favour, and to leave open a number of possibilities which formerly 
he had not recognised. The adhesion of the first disciples may, 
he now thinks, have happened essentially in the form in which 
it is reported in the Fourth Gospel ; in transferring the cleansing 
of the Temple to the first period of Jesus' ministry, John may 
be right as against the Synoptic tradition "which has no decisive 
evidence in its favour " ; in regard to the question whether Jesus 
had been only once, or several times, in Jerusalem, his opinion 
now is that "on this point the superior circumstantiality of the 
Fourth Gospel cannot be contested." 

As regards the prominence allowed to the eschatology also 
all is toned down and softened. Everywhere feeble compromises ! 
But what led Strauss to place his foot upon this shelving path 
was the essentially just perception that the Synoptists gave him no 
clearly ordered plan to set against that of the Fourth Gospel ; 
consequently he felt obliged to make some concessions to its 
strength in this respect. 

Yet he recognised almost immediately that the result was a 
mere patchwork. Even in the summer of 1839 he complained 


to Hase in conversation that he had been deafened by the clamour 

!of his opponents, and had conceded too much to them. 1 In the 
fourth edition he retracted all his concessions. "The Babel of 
voices of opponents, critics, and supporters," he says in his preface, 
"to which I had felt it my duty to listen, had confused me in 
regard to the idea of my work; in my diligent comparison of 
various views I had lost sight of the thing itself. In this way 
I was led to make alterations which, when I came to consider 
the matter calmly, surprised myself; and in making which it 
was obvious that I had done myself an injustice. In all these 
passages the earlier text has been restored, and my work has 
therefore consisted, it might be said, in removing from my good 
sword the notches which had not so much been hewn in it by 
the enemy as ground into it by myself." 

Strauss's vacillation had, therefore, not even been of any 
indirect advantage to him. Instead of endeavouring to find a 
purposeful connexion in the Synoptic Gospels by means of which 
he might test the plan of the Fourth Gospel, he simply restores 
his former view unaltered, thereby showing that in the decisive 
point it was incapable of development. In the very year in 
which he prepared his improved edition, Weisse, in his Evangelische 
Geschichte^ had set up the hypothesis that Mark is the ground- 
document, and had thus carried criticism past the " dead-point " 
which Strauss had never been able to overcome. Upon Strauss, 
however, the new suggestion made no impression. He does, it 
is true, mention Weisse's book in the preface to his third edition, 
and describes it as " in many respects a very satisfactory piece of 
work." It had appeared too late for him to make use of it in. 
his first volume ; but he did not use it in his second volume either. 
He had, indeed, a distinct antipathy to the Marcan hypothesis. 

It was unfortunate that in this controversy the highly important 
suggestions in regard to various historical problems which had 
been made incidentally in the course of Strauss's work were 
never discussed at all. The impulse in the direction of progress 
which might have been given by his treatment of the relation of 
Jesus to the law, of the question regarding His particularism, of the 
eschatological conception, the Son of Man, and the Messiahship 
of Jesus, wholly failed to take effect, and it was only after long 
and circuitous wanderings that theology again came in sight of 
these problems from an equally favourable point of view. In 
this respect Strauss shared the fate of Reimarus; the positive 
solutions of which the outlines were visible behind their negative 
criticism escaped observation in consequence of the offence caused 
by the negative side of their work ; and even the authors them- 
selves failed to realise their full significance. 

1 Hase, Geschichtc Jesu, 1876, p. 128. 



Christian Hermann Weisse. Die evangelische Geschichte kritisch und philo- 
sophisch bearbeitet. (A Critical and Philosophical Study of the Gospel History. ) 
2 vols. Leipzig, Breitkopf and Hartel, 1838. Vol. i. 614 pp. Vol. ii. 543 pp. 

Christian Gottlob Wilke. Der Urevangelist. (The Earliest Evangelist. ) 1838. 
Dresden and Leipzig. 694 pp. 

Christian Hermann Weisse. Die Evangelienfrage in ihrem gegenwartigen Stadium. 
(The Present Position of the Problem of the Gospels.) Leipzig, 1856. 

THE " Gospel History " of Weisse was written, like Strauss's Life of 
Jesus, by a philosopher who had been driven out of philosophy and 
forced back upon theology. Weisse was born in 1801 at Leipzig, 
and became Professor Extraordinary of Philosophy in the university 
there in 1828. In 1837, finding his advance to the Ordinary 
Professorship barred by the Herbartians, he withdrew from 
academic teaching and gave himself to the preparation of this 
work, the plan of which he had had in mind for some time. 
Having brought it to a satisfactory completion, he began again 
in 1841 as a Privat-Docent in Philosophy, and became Ordinary 
Professor in 1845. From 1848 onwards he lectured on Theology 
also. His work on " Philosophical Dogmatics, or the Philosophy of 
Christianity," 1 is well known. He died in 1866, of cholera. Lotze 
and Lipsius were both much influenced by him. 

Weisse admired Strauss and hailed his Life of Jesus as a forward 
step towards the reconciliation of religion and philosophy. He 
expresses his gratitude to him for clearing the ground of the 
primeval forest of theology, thus rendering it possible for him 
(Weisse) to develop his views without wasting time upon polemics, 
"since most of the views which have hitherto prevailed may be 
regarded as having received the coup de grace from Strauss." He 
is at one with Strauss also in his general view of the relations of 
philosophy and religion, holding that it is only if philosophy, by 
following its own path, attains independently to the conviction of 
the truth of Christianity that its alliance with theology and religion 

1 Philosophische Dogmatik oder Philosophic des Christentums. Leipzig, 1855-1862. 



can be welcomed as advantageous. 1 His work, therefore, like that 
of Strauss, leads up finally to a philosophical exposition in which 
he shows how for us the Jesus of history becomes the Christ of 
faith. 2 

Weisse is the direct continuator of Strauss. Standing outside 
the limitations of the Hegelian formulae, he begins at the point 
where Strauss leaves off. His aim is to discover, if possible, some 
thread of general connexion in the narratives of the Gospel 
tradition, which, if present, would represent a historically certain 
element in the Life of Jesus, and thus serve as a better standard 
by which to determine the extent of myth than can possibly be 
found in the subjective impression upon which Strauss relies. 
Strauss, by way of gratitude, called him a dilettante. This was 
most unjust, for if any one deserved to share Strauss's place of 
honour, it was certainly Weisse. 

The idea that Mark's Gospel might be the earliest of the four, 
first occurred to Weisse during the progress of his work. In March 
I ^37t when he reviewed Tholuck's "Credibility of the Gospel 
History," he was as innocent of this discovery as Wilke was at 
the same period. But when once he had observed that the 
graphic details of Mark, which had hitherto been regarded as due 
to an attempt to embellish an epitomising narrative, were too 
insignificant to have been inserted with this purpose, it became 
clear to him that only one other possibility remained open, viz., 
that their absence in Matthew and Luke was due to omission. He 
illustrates this from the description of the first day of Jesus' ministry 
at Capernaum. "The relation of the first Evangelist to Mark," 
he avers, "in those portions of the Gospel which are common to 
both is, with few exceptions, mainly that of an epitomiser." 

The decisive argument for the priority of Mark is, even more 
than his graphic detail, the composition and arrangement of the 
whole. " It is true, the Gospel of Mark shows very distinct traces 
of having arisen out of spoken discourses, which themselves were 
by no means ordered and connected, but disconnected and frag- 
mentary " being, he means, in its original form based on notes of 
the incidents related by Peter. " It is not the work of an eye- 
witness, nor even of one who had had an opportunity of question- 
ing eyewitnesses thoroughly and carefully; nor even of deriving 
assistance from inquirers who, on their part, had made a connected 

1 At^he end of his preface he makes the striking remark : "I confess I cannot 
conceive of any possible way by which Christianity can take on a form which will 
make it once more the truth for our time, without having recourse to the aid of 
philosophy ; and I rejoice to believe that this opinion is shared by many of the 
ablest and most respected of present-day theologians." 

2 Vol. ii. pp. 438-543. Philosophische Schlussbetrachtung iiber die religiose 
Bedeutung dtr Personlichkeit Christi und der evangelischen Uberliefentng. (Con- 
cluding Philosophical Estimate of the Significance of the Person of Christ and of 
the Gospel Tradition. ) 


study of the subject, with a view to filling up the gaps and placing 
each individual part in its right position, and so articulating 
the whole into an organic unity which should be neither merely 
inward, nor on the other hand merely external." Nevertheless 
the Evangelist was guided in his work by a just recollection of 
the general course of the life of Jesus. " It is precisely in Mark," 
Weisse explains, "that a closer study unmistakably reveals that 
the incidental remarks (referring for the most part to the way in 
which the fame of Jesus gradually extended, the way the people 
began to gather round Him and the sick to besiege Him), far from 
shutting off and separating the different narratives, tend rather to 
unite them with each other, and so give the impression not of a 
series of anecdotes fortuitously thrown together, but of a connected 
history. By means of these remarks, and by many other connect- 
ing links which he works into the narration of the individual 
stories, Mark has succeeded in conveying a vivid impression of 
the stir which Jesus made in Galilee, and from Galilee to Jerusalem, 
of the gradual gathering of the multitudes to Him, of the growing 
intensity of loyalty in the inner circle of disciples, and as the 
counterpart of all this, of the growing enmity of the Pharisees and 
Scribes an impression which mere isolated narratives, strung 
together without any living connexion, would not have sufficed to 
produce." A connexion of this kind is less clearly present in the 
other Synoptists, and is wholly lacking in John. The Fourth 
Gospel, by itself, would give us a completely false conception of 
the relation of Jesus to the people. From the content of its 
narratives the reader would form the impression that the attitude 
of the people towards Jesus was hostile from the very first, and 
that it was only in isolated occasions, for a brief moment, that 
Jesus by His miraculous acts inspired the people with astonishment 
rather than admiration; that, surrounded by a little company of 
disciples he contrived for a time to defy the enmity of the 
multitude, and that, having repeatedly provoked it by intemperate 
invective, he finally succumbed to it. 

The simplicity of the plan of Mark is, in Weisse's opinion, a 
stronger argument for his priority than the most elaborate de- 
monstration ; one only needs to compare it with the perverse 
design of Luke, who makes Jesus undertake a journey through 
Samaria. "How," asks Weisse, "in the case of a writer who 
does things of this kind can it be possible at this time of day 
to speak seriously of historical exactitude in the use of his 
sources ? " 

To come down to detail, Weisse's argument for the priority 
of Mark rests mainly on the following propositions : 

i. In the first and third Gospels, traces of a common plan 
are found only in those parts which they have in common 


with Mark, not in those which are common to them, but 
not to Mark also. 

2. In those parts which the three Gospels have in common, 

the " agreement " of the other two is mediated through 

3. In those sections which the First and Third Gospels have, 

but Mark has not, the agreement consists in the language 
and incidents, not in the order. Their common source, 
therefore, the "Logia" of Matthew, did not contain any 
type of tradition which gave an order of narration different 
from that of Mark. 

4. The divergences of wording between the two other 

Synoptists is in general greater in the parts where both 
have drawn on the Logia document than where Mark is 
their source. 

5. The first Evangelist reproduces this Logia-document more 

faithfully than Luke does ; but his Gospel seems to have 
been of later origin. 

This historical argument for the priority of Mark was confirmed 
in the year in which it appeared by Wilke's work, "The Earliest 
Gospel," 1 which treated the problem more from the literary side, 
and, to take an illustration from astronomy, supplied the mathe- 
matical confirmation of the hypothesis. 

1 Christian Gottlob Wilke, formerly pastor of Hermannsdorf in the Erzgebirge. 
Der Urevangelist, oder eine exegetisch-kritische Untersuchung des Venuandschafts- 
verhdltnisses der drei ersten Evangelien. (The Earliest Evangelist, a Critical and 
Exegetical Inquiry into the Relationship of the First Three Gospels. ) The subsequent 
course of the discussion of the Marcan hypothesis was as follows : 

In answer to Wilke there appeared a work signed Philosophotos Aletheias, 
Die Evangelien, ihr Geist, ihre Verfasser, und ihr Verhdltnis zu einander. (The 
Gospels, their Spirit, their Authors, and their relation to one another. ) Leipzig, 1845, 
440 pp. The author sees in Paul the evil genius of early Christianity, and thinks 
that the work of scientific criticism must be directed to detecting and weeding out 
the Pauline elements in the Gospels. Luke is in his opinion a party -writing, 
biased by Paulinism ; in fact Paul had a share in its preparation, and this is what 
Paul alludes to when he speaks in Romans ii. 16, xi. 28, and xvi. 25 of "his " Gospel. 
His hand is especially recognisable in chapters i.-iii. , vii. , ix. , xi. , xviii. , xx. , xxi. , and 
xxiv. Mark consists of extracts from Matthew and Luke ; John presupposes the 
other three. The Tubingen standpoint was set forth by Baur in his work, Kritische 
Untersuchungen fiber die kanonischen Evangelien. (A Critical Examination of the 
Canonical Gospels.) Tubingen, 1847, 622 pp. According to him Mark is based on 
Matthew and Luke. At the same time, however, the irreconcilability of the Fourth 
Gospel with the Synoptists is for the first time fully worked out, and the refutation 
of its historical character is carried into detail. 

The order Matthew, Mark, Luke is defended by Adolf Hilgenfeld in his work 
Die Evangelien. Leipzig, 1854, 355 pp. 

Karl Reinhold Kostlin's work, Der Ursprung und die Komposition der synopti sche n, 
Evangelien (Origin and Composition of the Synoptic Gospels), is rendered nugatory 
by obscurities and compromises. Stuttgart, 1853, 400 pp. The priority of Mark 
is defended by Edward Reuss, Die Geschichte der heiligen Schriften des Neuen Testa- 
ments (History of the Sacred Writings of the New Testament), 1842 ; H. Ewald, Die 
drei ersten Evangelien, 1850 ; A. Ritschl, Die Entstehung der altkatholischen Kirche 


In regard to the Gospel of John, Weisse fully shared the 
negative views of Strauss. What is the use, he asks, of keeping 
on talking about the plan of this Gospel, seeing that no one has 
yet succeeded in showing what that plan is ? And for a very good 
reason : there is none. One would never guess from the Gospel 
of John that Jesus, until His departure from Galilee, had experienced 
almost unbroken success. It is no good trying to explain the 
want of plan by saying that John wrote with the purpose of 
supplementing and correcting his predecessors, and that his 
omissions and additions were determined by this purpose. Such 
a purpose is betrayed by no single word in the whole Gospel. 

The want of plan lies in the very plan itself. " It is a fixed 
idea, one may say, with the author of this Gospel, who had heard 
that Jesus had fallen a victim in Jerusalem to the hatred of the 
Jewish rulers, especially the Scribes, that he must represent Jesus 
as engaged, from His first appearance onward, in an unceasing 
struggle with ' the Jews ' whereas we know that the mass of the 
people, even to the last, in Jerusalem itself, were on the side of 
Jesus ; so much so, indeed, that His enemies were only able to get 
Him into their power by means of a secret betrayal." 

In regard to the graphic descriptions in John, of which so 
much has been made, the case is no better. It is the graphic 
detail of a writer who desires to work up a vivid picture, not the 
natural touches of an eyewitness, and there are, moreover, actual 
inconsistencies, as in the case of the healing at the pool of 
Bethesda. The circumstantiality is due to the care of the author 
not to assume an acquaintance, on the part of his readers, with 
Jewish usages or the topography of Palestine. " A considerable 
proportion of the details are of such a character as inevitably to 
suggest that the narrator inserts them because of the trouble which 
it has cost him to orientate himself in regard to the scene of the 
action and the dramatis personae, his object being to spare his 
readers a similar difficulty; though he does not always go about 
it in the way best calculated to effect his purpose." 

The impossibility also that the historic Jesus can have preached 
the doctrine of the Johannine Christ, is as clear to Weisse as to 
Strauss. "It is not so much a picture of Christ that John sets 
forth, as a conception of Christ ; his Christ does not speak in His 
own Person, but 0/"His own Person." 

On the other hand, however, "the authority of the whole 
Christian Church from the second century to the nineteenth " 
carries too much weight with Weisse for him to venture altogether 
to deny the Johannine origin of the Gospel ; and he seeks a 

(Origin of the ancient Catholic Church), 1850 ; A. ReVille, Etudes critiques sur 
V Evangile selon St Matthieu, 1862. In 1863 the foundations of the Marcan 
hypothesis were relaid, more firmly than before, by Holtzmann's work, Die 
synoptischen Evangelien. Leipzig, 1863, 514 pp. 


middle path. He assumes that the didactic portions really, for the 

most part, go back to John the Apostle. "John," he explains, 

" drawn on by the interest of a system of doctrine which had formed 

itself in his mind, not so much as a direct reflex of the teaching 

of his Master, as on the basis of suggestions offered by that 

teaching in combination with a certain creative activity of his own, 

endeavoured to find this system also in the teaching of his Master." 

Accordingly, with this purpose, and originally for himself alone, 

not with the object of communicating it to others, he made an 

effort to exhibit, in the light of this system of thought, what his 

memory still retained of the discourses of the Lord. "The 

Johannine discourses, therefore, were recalled by a laborious effort 

of memory on the part of the disciple. When he found that his 

memory-image of his Master was threatening to dissolve into a 

mist-wraith, he endeavoured to impress the picture more firmly in 

his recollection, to connect and define its rapidly disappearing 

features, reconstructing it by the aid of a theory evolved by 

himself or drawn from elsewhere regarding the Person and work 

of the Master." For the portrait of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels 

the mind of the disciples who describe Him is a neutral medium ; 

for the portrait in John it is a factor which contributes to the 

production of the picture. The same portrait is outlined by the 

apostle in the first epistle which bears his name. 

These tentative "essays," not originally intended for publica- 
tion, came, after the death of the apostle, into the hands of his 
adherents and disciples, and they chose the form of a complete 
Life of Jesus as that in which to give them to the world. They, 
therefore, added narrative portions, which they distributed here and 
there among the speeches, often doing some violence to the latter 
in the process. Such was the origin of the Fourth Gospel. 

Weisse is not blind to the fact that this hypothesis of a 
Johannine basis in the Gospel is beset with the gravest one might 
almost say with insuperable difficulties. Here is a man who was 
an immediate disciple of the Lord, one who, in the Synoptic 
Gospels, in Acts, and in the Pauline letters, appears in a character 
which gives no hint of a coming spiritual metamorphosis, one, 
moreover, who at a relatively late period, when it might well have 
been supposed that his development was in all essentials closed 
(at the time of Paul's visit to Jerusalem, which falls at least 
fourteen years after Paul's conversion), was chosen, along with 
James and Peter, and in contrast with the apostles of the Gentiles, 
Paul and Barnabas, as an apostle of the Jews " how is it possible," 
asks Weisse, " to explain and make it intelligible, that a man of these 
antecedents displays in his thought and speech, in fact in his whole 
mental attitude, a thoroughly Hellenistic stamp? How came he, 
the beloved disciple, who, according to this very Gospel which 


bears his name, was admitted more intimately than any other into 
the confidence of Jesus, how came he to clothe his Master in this 
foreign garb of Hellenistic speculation, and to attribute to Him 
this alien manner of speech ? But, however difficult the explanation 
may be, whatever extreme of improbability may seem to us to be 
involved in the assumption of the Johannine authorship of the 
Epistle and of these essential elements of the Gospel, it is better 
to assent to the improbability, to submit to the burden of being 
forced to explain the inexplicable, than to set ourselves obstinately 
against the weight of testimony, against the authority of the whole 
Christian Church from the second century to the present day." 

There could be no better argument against the genuineness of 
the Fourth Gospel than just such a defence of its genuineness as 
this. In this form the hypothesis may well be destined to lead a 
harmless and never-ending life. What matters for the historical 
study of the Life of Jesus is simply that the Fourth Gospel should 
be ruled out. And that Weisse does so thoroughly that it is 
impossible to imagine its being done more thoroughly. The 
speeches, in spite of their apostolic authority, are unhistorical, and 
need not be taken into account in describing Jesus' system of 
thought. As for the unhappy redactor, who by adding the 
narrative pictures created the Gospel, all possibility of his reports 
being accurate is roundly denied, and as if that was not enough, 
he must put up with being called a bungler into the bargain. " I 
have, to tell the truth, no very high opinion of the literary art of 
the editor of the Johannine Gospel-document," says Weisse in his 
"Problem of the Gospels" of 1856, which is the best commentary 
upon his earlier work. 

His treatment of the Fourth Gospel reminds us of the story that 
Frederic the Great once appointed an importunate office-seeker to 
the post of " Privy Councillor for War," on condition that he would 
never presume to offer a syllable of advice ! 

The hypothesis which was brought forward about the same 
time by Alexander Schweizer, 1 with the intention of saving the 
genuineness of the Gospel of John, did not make any real 
contribution to the subject. The reading of the facts which form 
his starting-point is almost the exact converse of that of Weisse, 
since he regards, not the speeches, but certain parts of the narrative 
as Johannine. That which it is possible, in his opinion, to refer 

1 Alexander Schweizer, Das Evangelium Johannis nach seinem inneren Werte 
und seiner Bedeutung fur das Leben Jesu kritisch untersucht. 1841. (A Critical 
Examination of the Intrinsic Value of the Gospel of John and of its Importance as a 
Source for the Life of Jesus.) Alexander Schweizer was born in 1808 at Murten, 
was appointed Professor of Pastoral Theology at Zurich in 1835, and continued to 
lecture there until his death in 1888, remaining loyal to the ideas of his teacher 
Schleiermacher, though handling them with a certain freedom. His best-known 
work is his Glaubenslehre (System of Doctrine), 2 vols. , 1863-1872 ; 2nd ed. , 1877. 


to the apostle is an account, not involving any miracles, of the 
ministry of Jesus at Jerusalem, and the discourses which He 
delivered there. The more or less miraculous events which occur 
in the course of it such as, that Jesus had seen Nathanael under 
the fig-tree, knew the past life of the Samaritan woman, and healed 
the sick man at the Pool of Bethesda are of a simple character, 
and contrast markedly with those which are represented to have 
occurred in Galilee, where Jesus turned water into wine and fed a 
multitude with a few crusts of bread. We must, therefore, suppose 
that this short, authentic, spiritual Jerusalem-Gospel has had a 
Galilaean Life of Jesus worked into it, and this explains the 
inconsistencies of the representation and the oscillation between 
a sensuous and a spiritual point of view. 

This distinction, however, cannot be made good. Schweizer 
was obliged to ascribe the reports of a material resurrection to the 
Galilaean source, whereas these, since they exclude the Galilaean 
appearances of Jesus, must belong to the Jerusalem Gospel ; and 
accordingly, the whole distinction between a spiritual and material 
Gospel falls to the ground. Thus this hypothesis at best preserves 
the nominal authenticity of the Fourth Gospel, only to deprive it 
immediately of all value as a historical source. 

Had Strauss calmly examined the bearing of Weisse's hypothesis, 
he would have seen that it fully confirmed the line he had taken 
in leaving the Fourth Gospel out of account, and he might have 
been less unjust towards the hypothesis of the priority of Mark, 
for which he cherished a blind hatred, because, in its fully developed 
form, it first met him in conjunction with seemingly reactionary 
tendencies towards the rehabilitation of John. He never in the 
whole course of his life got rid of the prejudice that the recognition 
of the priority of Mark was identical with a retrograde movement 
towards an uncritical orthodoxy. 

This is certainly not true as regards Weisse. He is far from 
having used Mark unreservedly as a historical source. On the 
contrary, he says expressly that the picture which this Gospel gives 
of Jesus is drawn by an imaginative disciple of the faith, filled with 
the glory of his subject, whose enthusiasm is consequently some- 
times stronger than his judgment. Even in Mark the mythopoeic 
tendency is already actively at work, so that often the task of 
historical criticism is to explain how such myths could have been 
accepted by a reporter who stands as near the facts as Mark does. 

Of the miracula * so Weisse denominates the " non-genuine " 
miracles, in contradistinction to the "genuine" the feeding of 

1 The German is Mirakeln, the usual word being Wunder, which, though 
constantly used in the sense of actual " miracles," has, from its obvious derivation, 
a certain ambiguity. 


the multitude is that which, above all others, cries aloud for an 
explanation. Its historical strength lies in its being firmly inter- 
woven with the preceding and following context ; and this applies 
to both the Marcan narratives. It is therefore impossible to 
regard the story, as Strauss proposes to do, as pure myth ; it is 
necessary to show how, growing out of some incident belonging 
to that context, it assumed its present literary form. The authentic 
saying about the leaven of the Pharisees, which, in Mark viii. 14 and 
15, is connected with the two miracles of feeding the multitude, 
gives ground for supposing that they rest upon a parabolic dis- 
course repeated on two occasions, in which Jesus spoke, perhaps 
with allusion to the manna, of a miraculous food given through 
Him. These discourses were later transformed by tradition into 
an actual miraculous giving of food. Here, therefore, Weisse en- 
deavours to substitute for Strauss's " unhistorical " conception of 
myth a different conception, which in each case seeks to discover a 
sufficient historical cause. 

The miracles at the baptism of Jesus are based upon His 
account of a vision which He experienced in that moment. The 
present form of the story of the transfiguration has a twofold origin. 
In the first place, it is partly based on a real experience shared by 
the three disciples. That there is an historical fact here is evident 
from the way in which it is connected with the context by a 
definite indication of time. The six days of Mark ix. 2 cannot 
really be connected, as Strauss would have us suppose, with Ex. 
xxiv. 1 6 ; 1 the meaning is simply that between the previously 
reported discourse of Jesus and the event described there was an 
interval of six days. The three disciples had a waking, spiritual 
vision, not a dream-vision, and what was revealed in this vision was 
the Messiahship of Jesus. But at this point comes in the second, 
the mythico-symbolical element. The disciples see Jesus accom- 
panied, according to the Jewish Messianic expectations, by those 
whom the people thought of as His forerunners. He, however, 
turns away from them, and Moses and Elias, for whom the disciples 
were about to build tabernacles, for them to abide in, disappear. 
The mythical element is a reflection of the teaching which Jesus 
imparted to them on that occasion, in consequence of which there 
dawned on them the spiritual "significance of those expectations 
and predictions, which they were to recognise as no longer pointing 
forward to a future fulfilment, but as already fulfilled." The high 
mountain upon which, according to Mark, the event took place is 
not to be understood in a literal sense, but as symbolical of the 
sublimity of the revelation ; it is to be sought not on the map of 
Palestine, but in the recesses of the spirit. 

1 "And the glory of the Lord abode upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered 
it six days." 



The most striking case of the formation of myth is the story of 
the resurrection. Here, too, myth must have attached itself to an 
historical fact. The fact in question is not, however, the empty 
grave. This only came into the story later, when the Jews, in 
order to counteract the Christian belief in the resurrection, had 
spread abroad the report that the body had been stolen from 
the grave. In consequence of this report the empty grave had 
necessarily to be taken up into the story, the Christian account 
now making use of the fact that the body of Jesus was not found 
as a proof of His bodily resurrection. The emphasis laid on the 
identity of the body which was buried with that which rose again, 
of which the Fourth Evangelist makes so much, belongs to a time 
when the Church had to oppose the Gnostic conception of a 
spiritual, incorporeal immortality. The reaction against Gnosti- 
cism is, as Weisse rightly remarks, one of the most potent factors 
in the development of myth in the Gospel history. As an 
additional instance of this he might have cited the anti-gnostic 
form of the Johannine account of the baptism of Jesus. 

What, then, is the historical fact in the resurrection? "The 
historical fact," replies Weisse, "is only the existence of a belief 
not the belief of the later Christian Church in the myth of the 
bodily resurrection of the Lord but the personal belief of the 
Apostles and their companions in the miraculous presence of 
the risen Christ in the visions and appearances which they ex- 
perienced." " The question whether those extraordinary phenomena 
which, soon after the death of the Lord, actually and undeniably 
took place within the community of His disciples, rest upon fact 
or illusion that is, whether in them the departed spirit of the 
Lord, of whose presence the disciples supposed themselves to be 
conscious, was really present, or whether the phenomena were 
produced by natural causes of a different kind, spiritual and 
psychical, is a question which cannot be answered without going 
beyond the confines of purely historical criticism." The only thing 
which is certain is " that the resurrection of Jesus is a fact which 
belongs to the domain of the spiritual and psychic life, and which 
is not related to outward corporeal existence in such a way that the 
body which was laid in the grave could have shared therein." When 
the disciples of Jesus had their first vision of the glorified body of 
their Lord, they were far from Jerusalem, far from the grave, and 
had no thought of bringing that spiritual corporeity into any kind 
of relation with the dead body of the Crucified. That the earliest 
appearances took place in Galilee is indicated by the genuine 
conclusion of Mark, according to which the angel charges the 
women with the message that the disciples were to await Jesus 
in Galilee. 

Strauss's conception of myth, which failed to give it any point 


of vital connexion with the history, had not provided any escape 
from the dilemma offered by the rationalistic and supernaturalistic 
views of the resurrection. Weisse prepared a new historical basis 
for a solution. He was the first to handle the problem from a 
point of view which combined historical with psychological con- 
siderations, and he is fully conscious of the novelty and the far- 
reaching consequences of his attempt. Theological science did 
not overtake him for sixty years ; and though it did not for the 
most part share his one-sidedness in recognising only the Galilaean 
appearances, that does not count for much, since it was unable to 
solve the problem of the double tradition regarding the appearances. 
His discussion of the question is, both from the religious and from 
the historical point of view, the most satisfying treatment of it 
with which we are acquainted; the pompous and circumspect 
utterances of the very latest theology in regard to the "empty 
grave " look very poor in comparison. Weisse's psychology 
requires only one correction the insertion into it of the eschato- 
logical premise. 

It is not only the admixture of myth, but the whole character 
of the Marcan representation, which forbids us to use it without 
reserve as a source for the life of Jesus. The inventor of the 
Marcan hypothesis never wearies of repeating that even in the 
Second Gospel it is only the main outline of the Life of Jesus, not 
the way in which the various sections are joined together, which 
is historical. He does not, therefore, venture to write a Life of 
Jesus, but begins with a " General Sketch of the Gospel History " 
in which he gives the main outlines of the Life of Jesus according 
to Mark, and then proceeds to explain the incidents and discourses 
in each several Gospel in the order in which they occur. 1 

He avoids the professedly historical forced interpretation of 
detail, which later representatives of the Marcan hypothesis, Schenkel 
in particular, employ in such distressing fashion that Wrede's book, 
by making an end of this inquisitorial method of extracting the 
Evangelist's testimony, may be said to have released the Marcan 
hypothesis from the torture -chamber. Weisse is free from 
these over-refinements. He refuses to divide the Galilaean 
ministry of Jesus into a period of success and a period of failure 
and gradual falling off of adherents, divided by the controversy 

1 We subjoin the titles of the divisions of this work, which are of some interest : 
Vol i. Book i The Sources of the Gospel History. 

The Legends of the Childhood. 

General Sketch of the Gospel History. 

The Incidents and Discourses according to Mark. 
Vol ii. v The Incidents and Discourses according to Matthew and Luke. 

The Incidents and Discourses according to John. 

The Resurrection and the Ascension. 

Concluding Philosophical Exposition of the Significance of 
the Person of Christ and of the Gospel Tradition. 


about legal purity in Mark vii. ; he does not allow this episode to 
counterbalance the general evidence that Jesus' public work was 
accompanied by a constantly growing success. Nor does it occur 
to him to conceive the sojourn of the Lord in Phoenician territory, 
and His journey to the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi, as a 
compulsory withdrawal from Galilee, an abandonment of His cause 
in that district, and to head the chapter, as was usual in the second 
period of the exegesis of Mark, "Flights and Retirements." He is 
content simply to state that Jesus once visited those regions, and 
explicitly remarks that while the Synoptists speak of the Pharisees 
and Scribes as working actively against Him, there is nowhere any 
hint of a hostile movement on the part of the people, but that, on 
the contrary, in spite of the Scribes and Pharisees the people are 
always ready to approve Him and take His part ; so much so that 
His enemies can only hope to get Him into their power by a secret 

Weisse does not admit any failure in Jesus' work, nor that death 
came upon Him from without as an inevitable necessity. He 
cannot, therefore, regard the thought of suffering as forced upon 
Jesus by outward events. Later interpreters of Mark have often 
held that the essential thing in the Lord's resolve to die was that 
by His voluntary acceptance of a fate which was more and 
more clearly revealing itself as inevitable, He raised it into the 
sphere of ethico-religious freedom : this was not Weisse's view. 
Jesus, according to him, was not moved by any outward circum- 
stances when He set out for Jerusalem in order to die there. He 
did it in obedience to a supra-rational higher necessity. We can 
at most venture to conjecture that a cessation of His miracle- 
working power, of which He had become aware, revealed to Him 
that the hour appointed by God had come. He did, in fact, no 
further miracle in Jerusalem. 

How far Isaiah liii. may have contributed to suggest the con- 
ception of such a death being a necessary part of Messiah's work, 
it is impossible to discover. In the popular expectation there was 
no thought of the Messiah as suffering. The thought was con- 
ceived by Jesus independently, through His deep and penetrating 
spiritual insight. Without any external suggestion whatever He 
announces to His disciples that He is to die at Jerusalem, and that 
He is going thither with that end in view. He journeyed, not to 
the Passover, but to His death. The fact that it took place at the 
time of the Feast was, so far as Jesus was concerned, accidental. 
The circumstances of His entry were such as to suggest anything 
rather than the fulfilment of His predictions ; but though the 
jubilant multitude surrounded Him day by day, as with a wall of 
defence, He did not let that make Him falter in His purpose; 
rather he forced the authorities to arrest Him ; He preserved silence 


before Pilate with the deliberate purpose of rendering His death 
inevitable. The theory of later defenders of the Marcan hypothesis 
that Jesus, giving up His cause in Galilee for lost, went up to 
Jerusalem to conquer or die, is foreign to Weisse's conception. In 
his view, Jesus, breaking off His Galilaean work while the tide of 
success was still flowing strongly, journeyed to Jerusalem, in the 
scorn of consequence, with the sole purpose of dying there. 

It is true there are some premonitions of the later course of 
Marcan exegesis. The Second Gospel mentions no Passover 
journeys as falling in the course of the public ministry of Jesus ; 
consequently the most natural conclusion would be that no Pass- 
over journeys fall within that period ; that is, that Jesus' ministry 
began after one Passover and closed with the next, thus lasting 
less than a full year. Weisse thinks, however, that it is impossible 
to understand the success of His teaching unless we assume a 
ministry of several years, of more than three years, indeed. Mark 
does not mention the Feasts simply because Jesus did not go up to 
Jerusalem. "Intrinsic probability is, in our opinion, so strongly 
in favour of a duration of a considerable number of years, that we 
are at a loss to explain how it is that at least a few unprejudiced 
investigators have not found in this a sufficient reason for depart- 
ing from the traditional opinion." 

The account of the mission of the Twelve is also, on the 
ground of "intrinsic probability," explained in a way which is not 
in accordance with the plain sense of the words. "We do not 
think," says Weisse, "that it is necessary to understand this in the 
sense that He sent all the twelve out at one time, two and two, 
remaining alone in the meantime ; it is much more natural to 
suppose that He only sent them out two at a time, keeping the 
others about Him. The object of this mission was less the 
immediate spreading abroad of His teaching than the preparation 
of the disciples themselves for the independent activity which they 
would have to exercise after His death." These are, however, 
the only serious liberties which he takes with the statements of 

When did Jesus begin to think of Himself as the Messiah ? 
The baptism seems to have marked an epoch in regard to His 
Messianic consciousness, but that does not mean that He had not 
previously begun to have such thoughts about Himself. In any 
case He did not on that occasion arrive all at once at that point 
of His inward journey which He had reached at the time of His 
first public appearance. We must assume a period of some dura- 
tion between the baptism and the beginning of His ministry a 
longer period than we should suppose from the Synoptists during 
which Jesus cast off the Messianic ideas of Judaism and attained 
to a spiritual conception of the Messiahship. When He began to 


teach, His " development " was already closed. Later interpreters 
of Mark have generally differed from Weisse in assuming a develop- 
ment in the thought of Jesus during His public ministry. 

His conception of the Messiahship was therefore fully formed 
when He began to teach in Capernaum ; but He did not allow the 
people to see that He held Himself to be the Messiah until His 
triumphal entry. It was in order to avoid declaring His Messiahship 
that He kept away from Jerusalem. " It was only in Galilee and not 
in the Jewish capital that an extended period of teaching and work 
was possible for Him without being obliged to make an explicit 
declaration whether He were the Messiah or no. In Jerusalem 
itself the High Priests and Scribes would soon have put this 
question to Him in such a way that He could not have avoided 
answering it, whereas in Galilee He doubtless on more than one 
occasion cut short such attempts to question Him too closely 
by the incisiveness of His replies." Like Strauss, Weisse recog- 
nises that the key to the explanation of the Messianic con- 
sciousness of Jesus lies in the self-designation "Son of Man." 
" We are most certainly justified," he says, with almost prophetic 
insight, in his "Problem of the Gospels," published in 1856, "in 
regarding the question, what sense the Divine Saviour desired to 
attach to this predicate? what, in fact, He intended to make 
known about Himself by using the title Son of Man ? as an 
essential question for the right understanding of His teaching, and 
not of His teaching only, but also of the very heart and inmost 
essence of His personality." 

But at this point Weisse lets in the cloven hoof of that fatal 
method of interpretation, by the aid of which the defenders of the 
Marcan hypothesis who succeeded him were to wage war, with a 
kind of dull and dogged determination, against eschatology, in the 
interests of an original and " spiritual " conception of the Messiah- 
ship supposed to be held by Jesus. Under the obsession of the 
fixed idea that it was their mission to defend the " originality " of 
Jesus by ascribing to Him a modernising transformation and 
spiritualisation of the eschatological system of ideas, the defenders 
of the Marcan hypothesis have impeded the historical study of the 
Life of Jesus to an almost unbelievable extent. 

The explanation of the name Son of Man had, Weisse ex- 
plains, hitherto oscillated between two extremes. Some had held 
the expression to be, even in the mouth of Jesus, equivalent to 
" man " in general, an interpretation which cannot be carried 
through ; others had connected it with the Son of Man in Daniel, 
and supposed that in using the term Jesus was employing a Messianic 
title understood by and current among the Jews. But how came 
He to employ only this unusual periphrastic name for the Messiah ? 
Further, if this name were really a Messianic title, how could He 


repeatedly have refused Messianic salutations, and not until the 
triumphal entry suffered the people to hail Him as Messiah ? 

The questions are rightly asked ; it is therefore the more pity 
that they are wrongly answered. It follows, Weisse says, from the 
above considerations that Jesus did not assume an acquaintance on 
the part of His hearers with the Old Testament Messianic signifi- 
cance of the expression. "It was therefore incontestably the 
intention of Jesus and any one who considers it unworthy betrays 
thereby his own want of insight that the designation should have 
something mysterious about it, something which would compel 
His hearers to reflect upon His meaning." The expression Son 
of Man was calculated to lead them on to higher conceptions of 
His nature and origin, and therefore sums up in itself the whole 
spiritualisation of the Messiahship. 

Weisse, therefore, passionately rejects any suggestion, however 
modest, that Jesus' self-designation, Son of Man, implies any 
measure of acceptance of the Jewish apocalyptic system of ideas. 
Ewald had furnished forth his Life of Jesus l with a wealth of Old 
Testament learning, and had made some half-hearted attempts to 
show the connexion of Jesus' system of thought with that of post- 
canonical Judaism, but without taking the matter seriously and 
without having any suspicion of the real character of the eschatology 
of Jesus. But even these parade-ground tactics excite Weisse's 
indignation; in his book, published in 1856, he reproaches Ewald 
with failing to understand his task. 

The real duty of criticism is, according to Weisse, to show that 
Jesus had no part in those fantastic errors which are falsely attri- 
buted to Him when a literal Jewish interpretation is given to His 
great sayings about the future of the Son of Man, and to remove 
all the obstacles which seem to have prevented hitherto the 
recognition of the novel character and special significance of the 
expression, Son of Man, in the mouth of Him who, of His own 
free choice, applied this name to Himself. "How long will it be," 
he cries, " before theology at last becomes aware of the deep im- 
portance of its task? Historical criticism, exercised with all the 
thoroughness and impartiality which alone can produce a genuine 
conviction, must free the Master's own teaching from the imputa- 
tion that lies upon it the imputation of sharing the errors and 
false expectations in which, as we cannot deny, owing to imperfect 
or mistaken understanding of the suggestions of the Master, the 
Apostles, and with them the whole early Christian Church, became 

This fundamental position determines the remainder of Weisse's 
views. Jesus cannot have shared the Jewish particularism. He 

1 Geschichte Christus' und seiner Zeit. (History of Christ and His Times.) By 
Heinrich Ewald, Gottingen, 1855, 45 PP 


did not hold the Law to be binding. It was for this reason that 
He did not go up to the Feasts. He distinctly and repeatedly ex- 
pressed the conviction that His doctrine was destined for the whole 
world. In speaking of the parousia of the Son of Man He was 
using a figure a figure which includes in a mysterious fashion all 
His predictions of the future. He did not speak to His disciples 
of His resurrection, His ascension, and His parousia as three 
distinct acts, since the event to which He looked forward is not 
identical with any of the three, but is composed of them all. The 
resurrection is, at the same time, the ascension and parousia, and 
in the parousia the resurrection and the ascension are also included. 
"The one conclusion to which we believe we can point with 
certainty is that Jesus spoke of the future of His work and His 
teaching in a way that implied the consciousness of an influence to 
be continued after His death, whether unbrokenly or intermittently, 
and the consciousness that by this influence His work and teaching 
would be preserved from destruction and the final victory assured 
to it." 

The personal presence of Jesus which the disciples experienced 
after His death was in their view only a partial fulfilment of that 
general promise. The parousia appeared to them as still awaiting 
fulfilment. Thought of thus, as an isolated event, they could only 
conceive it from the Jewish apocalyptic standpoint, and they finally 
came to suppose that they had derived these fantastic ideas from 
the Master Himself. 

In his determined opposition to the recognition of eschatology 
in Strauss's first Life of Jesus, Weisse here lays down the lines 
which were to be followed by the " liberal " Lives of Jesus of the 
'sixties and following years, which only differ from him, not always 
to their advantage, in their more elaborate interpretation of the 
detail of Mark. The only work, therefore, which was a conscious 
continuation of Strauss's, takes, in spite of its just appreciation of 
the character of the sources, a wrong path, led astray by the 
mistaken idea of the "originality" of Jesus, which it exalts into 
a canon of historical criticism. Only .after long and devious 
wanderings did the study of the subject find the right road again. 
The whole struggle over eschatology is nothing else than a gradual 
elimination of Weisse's ideas. It was only with Johannes Weiss 
that theology escaped from the influence of Christian Hermann 




Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte des Johannes. (Criticism of the Gospel History 

of John. ) Bremen, 1840. 435 pp. 
Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte der Synoptiker. (Criticism of the Gospel 

History of the Synoptics. ) 3 vols. , Leipzig, 1841-1842; vol. i. 416 pp. ; vol. ii. 

392 pp. ; vol. iii. 341 pp. 

Kritik der Evangelien. (Criticism of the Gospels. ) 2 vols., 1850-1851, Berlin. 
Kritik der Apostelgeschichte. (Criticism of Acts. ) 1850. 
Kritik der Paulinischen Briefe. Berlin, 1850-1852. In three parts. 
Philo, Strauss, Renan und das Urchristentum. (P., S., R., and Primitive 

Christianity.) Berlin, 1874. X 5S PP- 
Christus und die Casaren. Der Ursprung des Christentums aus dem romischen 

Griechentum. (The Origin of Christianity from Graeco-Roman Civilisation.) 

Berlin, 1877. 387 pp. 

BRUNO BAUER was born in 1809 at Eisenberg, in the duchy of 
Sachsen-Altenburg. In philosophy, he was at first associated 
entirely with the Hegelian "right." Like Strauss, he received a 
strong impulse from Vatke. At this stage of his development he 
reviewed, in 1835 and 1836, Strauss's Life of Jesus in the 
Jahrbucher fur wissenschaftliche Kritik^ and wrote in 1838 a 
"Criticism of the History of Revelation." * 

In 1834 he had become Privat-Docent in Berlin, but in 1839 
he removed to Bonn. He was then in the midst of that intellectual 
crisis of which the evidence appeared in his critical works on John 
and the Synoptics. In August 1841 the Minister, Eichhorn, 
requested the Faculties of the Prussian Universities to report on 
the question whether Bauer should be allowed to retain the venia 
docendi. Most of them returned an evasive answer, Konigsberg 
replied in the affirmative, and Bonn in the negative. In March 
1842 Bauer was obliged to cease lecturing, and retired to Rixdorf 
near Berlin. In the first heat of his furious indignation over 
this treatment he wrote a work with the title "Christianity 

1 Kritik der Geschichte der Offenbarung. 


Exposed," 1 which, however, was cancelled before publication at 
Zurich in 1843. 

He then turned his attention to secular history and wrote 
on the French Revolution, on Napoleon, on the Illuminism of the 
Eighteenth Century, and on the party struggles in Germany during 
the years 1842-1846. At the beginning of the 'fifties he returned 
to theological subjects, but failed to exercise any influence. His 
work was simply ignored. 

Radical though he was in spirit, Bauer found himself fighting, 
at the end of the 'fifties and beginning of the 'sixties, in the ranks 
of the Prussian Conservatives we are reminded how Strauss in 
the Wiirtemberg Chamber was similarly forced to side with the 
reactionaries. He died in 1882. His was a pure, modest, and 
lofty character. 

At the time of his removal from Berlin to Bonn he was just at 
the end of the twenties, that critical age when pupils often 
surprise their teachers, when men begin to find themselves and 
show what they are, not merely what they have been taught. 

In approaching the investigation of the Gospel history, Bauer 
saw, as he himself tells us, two ways open to him. He might 
take as his starting-point the Jewish Messianic conception, and 
endeavour to answer the question how the intuitive prophetic idea 
of the Messiah became a fixed reflective conception. That was 
the historical method; he chose, however, the other, the literary 
method. This starts from the opposite side of the question, from 
the end instead of the beginning of the Gospel history. Taking 
first the Gospel of John, in which it is obvious that reflective 
thought has fitted the life of the Jewish Messiah into the frame 
of the Logos conception, he then, starting as it were from the 
embouchure of the stream, works his way upwards to the high 
ground in which the Gospel tradition takes its rise. The decision 
in favour of the latter view determined the character of Bauer's 
life-work ; it was his task to follow out, to its ultimate consequences, 
the literary solution of the problem of the life of Jesus. 

How far this path would lead him he did not at first suspect. 
But he did suspect how strong was the influence upon the formation 
of history of a dominant idea which moulds and shapes it with a 
definite artistic purpose. His interest was especially arrested by 
Philo, who, without knowing or intending it, contributed to the 
fulfilment of a higher task than that with which he was immediately 
engaged. Bauer's view is that a speculative principle such as 
Philo's, when it begins to take possession of men's minds, 
influences them in the first glow of enthusiasm which it evokes 

1 Das entdeckte Christentum. See also Die gute Sache der Freiheit und meine 
eigene Angelegenheit. (The Good Cause of Freedom, in Connexion with my own 
Case.) Zurich, 1843. 


with such overmastering power that the just claims of that which 
is actual and historical cannot always secure the attention which 
is their due. In Philo's pupil, John, we must look, not for history, 
but for art. 

The Fourth Gospel is in fact a work of art. This was now 
for the first time appreciated by one who was himself an artist. 
Schleiermacher, indeed, had at an earlier period taken up the 
aesthetic standpoint in considering this Gospel. But he had used 
it as an apologist, proceeding to exalt the artistic truth which he 
rightly recognised into historic reality, and his critical sense failed 
him, precisely because he was an aesthete and an apologist, when 
he came to deal with the Fourth Gospel. Now, however, there 
comes forward a true artist, who shows that the depth of religious 
and intellectual insight which Tholuck and Neander, in opposing 
Strauss, had urged on behalf of the Fourth Gospel, is Christian 

In Bauer, however, the aesthete is at the same time a critic. 
Although much in the Fourth Gospel is finely " felt," like the open- 
ing scenes referring to the Baptist and to Jesus, which Bauer groups 
together under the heading "The Circle of the Expectant," yet 
his art is by no means always perfect. The author who conceived 
those discourses, of which the movement consists in a kind of 
tautological return upon itself, and who makes the parables trail 
out into dragging allegories, is no perfect artist. " The parable of 
the Good Shepherd," says Bauer, "is neither simple, nor natural, 
nor a true parable, but a metaphor, which is, nevertheless, much 
too elaborate for a metaphor, is not clearly conceived, and, finally, 
in places shows much too clearly the skeleton of reflection over 
which it is stretched." 

Bauer treats, in his work of 1840,! the Fourth Gospel only. 
The Synoptics he deals with only in a quite incidental fashion, 
" as opposing armies make demonstrations in order to provoke the 
enemy to a decisive conflict." 

He breaks off at the beginning of the story of the passion, 
because here it would be necessary to bring in the Synoptic 
parallels. " From the distant heights on which the Synoptic forces 
have taken up a menacing position, we must now draw them down 
into the plain ; now comes the pitched battle between them and 
the Fourth Gospel, and the question regarding the historical char- 
acter of that which we have found to be the ultimate basis of the 
last Gospel, can now at length be decided." 

If, in the Gospel of John, no smallest particle could be found 
which was unaffected by the creative reflection of the author, how 
will it stand with the Synoptists ? 

When Bauer broke off his work upon John in this abrupt way 

1 Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte des Johannes. 


for he had not originally intended to conclude it at this point 
how far did he still retain a belief in the historical character of the 
Synoptics ? It looks as if he had intended to treat them as the 
solid foundation, in contrast with the fantastic structure raised 
upon it by the Fourth Gospel. But when he began to use his pick 
upon the rock, it crumbled away. Instead of a difference of kind 
he found only a difference of degree. The "Criticism of the 
Gospel History of the Synoptists " of 1841 is built on the site which 
Strauss had levelled. "The abiding influence of Strauss," says 
Bauer, " consists in the fact that he has removed from the path of 
subsequent criticism the danger and trouble of a collision with the 
earlier orthodox system." 

Bauer finds his material laid ready to his hand by Weisse 
and Wilke. Weisse had divined in Mark the source from which 
criticism becoming barren in the work of Strauss might draw a 
new spring of vigorous life ; and Wilke, whom Bauer places above 
Weisse, had raised this happy conjecture to the level of a 
scientifically assured result. The Marcan hypothesis was no 
longer on its trial. 

But its bearing upon the history of Jesus had still to be 
determined. What position do Weisse and Wilke take up 
towards the hypothesis of a tradition lying behind the Gospel 
of Mark ? If it be once admitted that the whole Gospel tradition, 
so far as concerns its plan, goes back to a single writer, who 
has created the connexion between the different events for 
neither Weisse nor Wilke regards the connexion of the sections 
as historical does not the possibility naturally suggest itself that 
the narrative of the events themselves, not merely the connexion in 
which they appear in Mark, is to be set down to the account of 
the author of the Gospel ? Weisse and Wilke had not suspected 
how great a danger arises when, of the three witnesses who 
represent the tradition, only one is allowed to stand, and the 
tradition is recognised and allowed to exist in this one written 
form only. The triple embankment held ; will a single one 
bear the strain ? 

The following considerations have to be taken into account. 
The criticism of the Fourth Gospel compels us to recognise that 
a Gospel may have a purely literary origin. This discovery 
dawned upon Bauer at a time when he was still disinclined to 
accept Wilke's conclusions regarding Mark. But when he had 
recognised the truth of the latter he felt compelled by the 
combination of the two to accept the idea that Mark also might 
be of purely literary origin. For Weisse and Wilke the Marcan 
hypothesis had not implied this result, because they continued 
to combine with it the wider hypothesis of a general tradition, 
holding that Matthew and Luke used the collection of "Logia," 


and also owed part of their supplementary matter to a free 
use of floating tradition, so that Mark, it might almost be said, 
merely supplied them with the formative principle by means of 
which they might order their material. 

But what if Papias's statement about the collection of "Logia" 
were worthless, and could be shown to be so by the literary data ? 
In that case Matthew and Luke would be purely literary expansions 
of Mark, and like him, purely literary inventions. 

In this connexion Bauer attaches decisive importance to 
the phenomena of the birth-stories. If these had been derived 
from tradition they could not differ from each other as they 
do. If it is suggested that tradition had produced a large number 
of independent, though mutually consistent, stories of the child- 
hood, out of which the Evangelists composed their opening narra- 
tives, this also is found to be untenable, for these narratives are 
not composite structures. The separate stories of which each 
of these two histories of the childhood consists could not have 
been formed independently of one another ; none of them existed 
by itself; ^each points to the others and is informed by a view 
which implies the whole. The histories of the childhood are 
therefore not literary versions of a tradition, but literary inventions. 

If we go on to examine the discourse and narrative material, 
additional to that of Mark, which is found in Matthew and 
Luke, a similar result appears. The same standpoint is regulative 
throughout, showing that the additions do not consist of oral 
or written traditional material which has been worked into the 
Marcan plan, but of a literary development of certain fundamental 
ideas and suggestions found in the first author. These develop- 
ments, as is shown by the accounts of the Sermon on the Mount 
and the charge to the Twelve, are not carried as far in Luke 
as in Matthew. The additional material in the latter seems 
indeed to be worked up from suggestions in the former. Luke 
thus forms the transition stage between Mark and Matthew. 
The Marcan hypothesis, accordingly, now takes on the following 
form. Our knowledge of the Gospel history does not rest upon 
any basis of tradition, but only upon three literary works. Two 
of these are not independent, being merely expansions of the 
first, and the third, Matthew, is also dependent upon the second. 
Consequently there is no tradition of the Gospel history, but only 
a single literary source. 

But, if so, who is to assure us that this Gospel history, with 
its assertion of the Messiahship of Jesus, was already a matter 
of common knowledge before it was fixed in writing, and did 
not first become known in a literary form ? In the latter case, 
one man would have created out of general ideas the definite 
historical tradition in which these ideas are embodied. 


The only thing that could be set against this literary 
possibility, as a historical counter-possibility, would be a proof 
that at the period when the Gospel history is supposed to take 
place a Messianic expectation really existed among the Jews, so 
that a man who claimed to be the Messiah and was recognised 
as such, as Mark represents Jesus to have been, would be 
historically conceivable. This presupposition had hitherto been 
unanimously accepted by all writers, no matter how much opposed 
in other respects. They were all satisfied " that before the appear- 
ance of Jesus the expectation of a Messiah prevailed among 
the Jews " ; and were even able to explain its precise character. 

But where apart from the Gospels did they get their 
information from? Where is the documentary evidence of the 
Jewish Messianic doctrine on which that of the Gospels is 
supposed to be based? Daniel was the last of the prophets. 
Everything tends to suggest that the mysterious content of his 
work remained without influence in the subsequent period. 
Jewish literature ends with the Wisdom writings, in which there 
is no mention of a Messiah. In the LXX there is no attempt 
to translate in accordance with a preconceived picture of the 
Messiah. In the Apocalypses, which are of small importance, 
there is reference to a Messianic Kingdom ; the Messiah Himself, 
however, plays a quite subordinate part, and is, indeed, scarcely 
mentioned. For Philo He has no existence; the Alexandrian 
does not dream of connecting Him with his Logos speculation. 
There remain, therefore, as witnesses for the Jewish Messianic 
expectations in the time of Tiberius, only Mark and his imitators. 
This evidence, however, is of such a character that in certain 
points it contradicts itself. 

In the first place, if at the time when the Christian community 
was forming its view of history and the religious ideas which we 
find in the Gospels, the Jews had already possessed a doctrine 
of the Messiah, there would have been already a fixed type of 
interpretation of the Messianic passages in the Old Testament, 
and it would have been impossible for the same passages to be 
interpreted in a totally different way, as referring to Jesus and 
His work, as we find them interpreted in the New Testament. 
Next, consider the representation of the Baptist's work. We 
should have expected him to connect his baptism with the 
preaching of " Him who was to come " if this were really the 
Messiah by baptizing in the name of this "Coming One." He, 
however, keeps them separate, baptizing in preparation for the 
Kingdom, though referring in his discourses to "Him who was 
to come." 

The earliest Evangelist did not venture openly to carry back 
into the history the idea that Jesus had claimed to be the 


Messiah, because he was aware that in the time of Jesus no 
general expectation of the Messiah had prevailed among the 
people. When the disciples in Mark viii. 28 report the opinions 
of the people concerning Jesus they cannot mention any who 
hold Him to be the Messiah. Peter is the first to attain to the 
recognition of His Messiahship. But as soon as the confession 
is made the Evangelist makes Jesus forbid His disciples to tell 
the people who He is. Why is the attribution of the Messiahship 
to Jesus made in this surreptitious and inconsistent way? It 
is because the writer who gave the history its form well knew 
that no one had ever come forward publicly on Palestinian soil 
to claim the Messiahship, or had been recognised by the people 
as Messiah. 

The " reflective conception of the Messiah " was not, therefore, 
taken over ready-made from Judaism; that dogma first arose 
along with the Christian community, or rather the moment in 
which it arose was the same in which the Christian community 
had its birth. 

Moreover, how unhistorical, even on a priori grounds, is the 
mechanical way in which Jesus at this first appearance at once 
sets Himself up as the Messiah and says, " Behold I am He whom 
ye have expected." In essence, Bauer thinks, there is not so much 
difference between Strauss and Hengstenberg. For Hengstenberg 
the whole life of Jesus is the living embodiment of the Old Testa- 
ment picture of the Messiah ; Strauss, a less reverent counterpart 
of Hengstenberg, made the image of the Messiah into a mask which 
Jesus Himself was obliged to assume, and which legend after- 
wards substituted for His real features. 

" We save the honour of Jesus," says Bauer, " when we restore 
His Person to life from the state of inanition to which the apologists 
have reduced it, and give it once more a living relation to history, 
which it certainly possessed that can no longer be denied. If a 
conception was to become dominant which should unite heaven and 
earth, God and man, nothing more and nothing less was necessary 
as a preliminary condition, than that a Man should appear, the 
very essence of whose consciousness should be the reconciliation 
of these antitheses, and who should manifest this consciousness to 
the world, and lead the religious mind to the sole point from which 
its difficulties can be solved. Jesus accomplished this mighty 
work, but not by prematurely pointing to His own Person. Instead 
He gradually made known to the people the thoughts which filled 
and entered into the very essence of His mind. It was only in this 
indirect way that His Person which He freely offered up in the 
cause of His historical vocation and of the idea for which He lived 
continued to live on in so far as this idea was accepted. When, 
in the belief of His followers, He rose again and lived on in the 


Christian community, it was as the Son of God who had overcome 
and reconciled the great antithesis. He was that in which alone 
the religious consciousness found rest and peace, apart from which 
there was nothing firm, trustworthy, and enduring." 

"It was only now that the vague, ill-defined, prophetic repre- 
sentations were focused into a point ; were not only fulfilled, but 
were also united together by a common bond which strengthened 
and gave greater value to each of them. With His appearance 
and the rise of belief in Him, a clear conception, a definite mental 
picture of the Messiah became possible ; and thus it was that a 
Christology 1 first arose." 

While, therefore, at the close of Bauer's first work it might have 
seemed that it was only the Gospel of John which he held to be a 
literary creation, here the same thing is said of the original Gospel. 
The only difference is that we find more primitive reflection in 
the Synoptics, and later work in the representation given by the 
Fourth Evangelist ; the former is of a more practical character, the 
latter more dogmatic. 

Nevertheless it is false to assert that according to Bauer the 
earliest Evangelist invented the Gospel history and the personality 
of Jesus. That is to carry back the ideas of a later period and 
a further stage of development into the original form of his view. 
At the moment when, having disposed of preliminaries, he enters 
on his investigation, he still assumes that a great, a unique 
Personality, who so impressed men by His character that it lived on 
among them in an ideal form, had awakened into life the Messianic 
idea ; and that what the original Evangelist really did was to 
portray the life of this Jesus the Christ of the community which 
He founded in accordance with the Messianic view of Him, just 
as the Fourth Evangelist portrayed it in accordance with the 
presupposition that Jesus was the revealer of the Logos. It was 
only in the course of his investigations that Bauer's opinion became 
more radical. As he goes on, his writing becomes ill-tempered, and 
takes the form of controversial dialogues with "the theologians," 
whom he apostrophises in a biting and injurious fashion, and whom 
he continually reproaches with not daring, owing to their apologetic 
prejudices, to see things as they really are, and with declining to 
face the ultimate results of criticism from fear that the tradition 
might suffer more loss of historic value than religion could bear. 
In spite of this hatred of the theologians, which is pathological in 
character, like his meaningless punctuation, his critical analyses 
are always exceedingly acute. One has the impression of walking 
alongside a man who is reasoning quite intelligently, but who talks 

1 Here and elsewhere Bauer seems to use " Christologie " in the sense of 
Messianic doctrine, rather than in the more general sense which is usual in theology. 


to himself as though possessed by a fixed idea. What if the whole 
thing should turn out to be nothing but a literary invention 
not only the incidents and discourses, but even the Personality which 
is assumed as the starting-point of the whole movement ? What 
if the Gospel history were only a late imaginary embodiment of 
a set of exalted ideas, and these were the only historical reality 
from first to last ? This is the idea which obsesses his mind more 
and more completely, and moves him to contemptuous laughter. 
What, he mocks, will these apologists, who are so sure of every- 
thing, do then with the shreds and tatters which will be all that 
is left to them ? 

But at the outset of his investigations Bauer was far from 
holding such views. His purpose was really only to continue the 
work of Strauss. The conception of myth and legend of which 
the latter made use is, Bauer thinks, much too vague to explain 
this deliberate "transformation" of a personality. In the place 
of myth Bauer therefore sets " reflection." The life which pulses 
in the Gospel history is too vigorous to be explained as created by 
legend; it is real "experience," only not the experience of Jesus, 
but of the Church. The representation of this experience of the 
Church in the Life of a Person is not the work of a number of 
persons, but of a single author. It is in this twofold aspect as 
the composition of one man, embodying the experience of many 
that the Gospel history is to be regarded. As religious art it has 
a profound truth. When it is regarded from this point of view 
the difficulties which are encountered in the endeavour to conceive 
it as real immediately disappear. 

We must take as our point of departure the belief in the 
sacrificial death and the resurrection of Jesus. Everything else 
attaches itself to this as to its centre. When the need arose to fix 
definitely the beginning of the manifestation of Jesus as the 
Saviour to determine the point of time at which the Lord issued 
forth from obscurity it was natural to connect this with the work 
of the Baptist ; and Jesus comes to his baptism. While this is 
sufficient for the earliest Evangelist, Matthew and Luke feel it to 
be necessary, in view of the important consequences involved in 
the connexion of Jesus with the Baptist, to bring them into relation 
once more by means of the question addressed by the Baptist to 
Jesus, although this addition is quite inconsistent with the assump- 
tions of the earliest Evangelist. If he had conceived the story of 
the baptism with the idea of introducing the Baptist again on a 
later occasion, and this time, moreover, as a doubter, he would have 
given it a different form. This is a just observation of Bauer's ; 
the story of the baptism with the miracle which took place at it, 
and the Baptist's question, understood as implying a doubt of the 
Messiahship of Jesus, mutually exclude one another. 



The story of the temptation embodies an experience of the 
early Church. This narrative represents her inner conflicts under 
the form of a conflict of the Redeemer. On her march through 
the wilderness of this world she has to fight with temptations of 
the devil, and in the story composed by Mark and Luke, and 
artistically finished by Matthew, she records a vow to build only on 
the inner strength of her constitutive principle. In the sermon on 
the mount also, Matthew has carried out with greater completeness 
that which was more vaguely conceived by Luke. It is only when 
we understand the words of Jesus as embodying experiences of the 
early Church that their deeper sense becomes clear and what would 
otherwise seem offensive disappears. The saying, " Let the dead 
bury their dead," would not have been fitting for Jesus to speak, 
and had He been a real man, it could never have entered into His 
mind to create so unreal and cruel a collision of duties ; for no 
command, Divine or human, could have sufficed to make it right 
for a man to contravene the ethical obligations of family life. So 
here again, the obvious conclusion is that the saying originated in 
the early Church, and was intended to inculcate renunciation of 
a world which was felt to belong to the kingdom of the dead, and 
to illustrate this by an extreme example. 

The mission of the Twelve, too, is, as an historical occurrence, 
simply inconceivable. It would have been different if Jesus had 
given them a definite teaching, or form of belief, or positive 
conception of any kind, to take with them as their message. But 
how ill the charge to the Twelve fulfils its purpose as a discourse 
of instruction ! What the disciples needed to learn, namely, what 
and how they were to teach, they are not told ; and the discourse 
which Matthew has composed, working on the basis of Luke, 
implies quite a different set of circumstances. It is concerned with 
the struggles of the Church with the world and the sufferings which 
it must endure. This is the explanation of the references to suffer- 
ing which constantly recur in the discourses of Jesus, in spite of the 
fact that His disciples were not enduring any sufferings, and that 
the Evangelist cannot even make it conceivable as a possibility 
that those before whose eyes Jesus holds up the way of the Cross 
could ever come into such a position. The Twelve, at any rate, 
had no sufferings to encounter during their mission, and if they 
were merely being sent by Jesus into the surrounding districts they 
were not very likely to meet with kings and rulers there. 

That it is a case of invented history is also shown by the fact 
that nothing is said about the doings of the disciples, and they seem 
to come back again immediately, though the earliest Evangelist, it 
is true, to prevent this from being too apparent, inserts at this point 
the story of the execution of the Baptist. 

All this is just and acute criticism. The charge to the Twelve 


is not a discourse of instruction. What Jesus there sets before the 
disciples they could not at that time have understood, and the 
promises which He makes to them are not appropriate to their 

Many of the discourses are mere bundles of heterogeneous 
sayings, though this is not so much the case in Mark as in the 
others. He has not forgotten that effective polemic consists of 
short, pointed, incisive arguments. The others, as advanced 
theologians, are of opinion that it is fitting to indulge in arguments 
which have nothing to do with the matter in hand, or only the 
most distant connexion with it. They form the transition to the 
discourses of the Fourth Gospel, which usually degenerate into an 
aimless wrangle. In the same connexion it is rightly observed that 
the discourses of Jesus do not advance from point to point by the 
logical development of an idea, the thoughts are merely strung 
together one after another, the only connexion, if connexion there 
is, being due to a kind of conventional mould in which the 
discourse is cast. 

The parables, Bauer continues, present difficulties no less great. 
It is an ineptitude on the part of the apologists to suggest that 
the parables are intended to make things clear. Jesus Himself 
contradicts this view by saying bluntly and unambiguously to His 
disciples that to them it was given to know the mysteries of the 
Kingdom of God, but to the people all His teaching must be 
spoken as parables, that " seeing they might see and not perceive, 
and hearing they might hear and not understand." The parables 
were therefore intended only to exercise the intelligence of the 
disciples ; and so far from being understood by the people, mystified 
and repelled them ; as if it would not have been much better to 
exercise the minds of the disciples in this way when He was alone 
with them. The disciples, however, do not even understand the 
simple parable of the Sower, but need to have it interpreted to 
them, so that the Evangelist once more stultifies his own theory. 

Bruno Bauer is right in his observation that the parables offer 
a serious problem, seeing that they were intended to conceal and 
not to make plain, and that Jesus nevertheless taught only in 
parables. The character of the difficulty, however, is such that 
even literary criticism has no explanation ready. Bruno Bauer 
admits that he does not know what was in the mind of the 
Evangelist when he composed these parables, and thinks that he 
had no very definite purpose, or at least that the suggestions which 
were floating in his mind were not worked up into a clearly ordered 

Here, therefore, Bauer's method broke down. He did not, 
however, allow this to shake his confidence in his reading of the 
facts, and he continued to maintain it in the face of a new difficulty 


which he himself brought clearly to light. Mark, according to him, 
is an artistic unity, the offspring of a single mind. How then is it 
to be explained that in addition to other less important doublets 
it contains two accounts of the feeding of the multitude? Here 
Bauer has recourse to the aid of Wilke, who distinguishes our 
Mark from an Ur-Markus, 1 and ascribes these doublets to later 
interpolation. Later on he became more and more doubtful about 
the artistic unity of Mark, despite the fact that this was the 
fundamental assumption of his theory, and in the second edition of 
his "Criticism of the Gospels," of 1851, he carried through the 
distinction between the canonical Mark and the Ur-Markus. 

But even supposing the assumption of a redaction were justified, 
how could the redactor have conceived the idea of adding to the 
first account of the feeding of the multitude a second which is 
identical with it almost to the very wording ? In any case, on what 
principle can Mark be distinguished from Ur-Markus ? There are 
no fundamental differences to afford a ready criterion. The 
distinction is purely one of subjective feeling, that is to say, it is 
arbitrary. As soon as Bauer admits that the artistic unity of Mark, 
on which he lays so much stress, has been tampered with, he 
cannot maintain his position except by shutting his eyes to the fact 
that it can only be a question of the weaving in of fragments of 
tradition, not of the inventions of an imitator. But if he once 
admits the presence of traditional materials, his whole theory of the 
earliest Evangelist's having created the Gospel falls to the ground. 

For the moment he succeeds in laying the spectre again, and 
continues to think of Mark as a work of art, in which the 
interpolation alters nothing. 

Bauer discusses with great thoroughness those sayings of Jesus 
in which He forbids those whom He had healed to noise abroad 
their cure. In the form in which they appear these cannot, he 
argues, be historical, for Jesus imposes this prohibition in some 
cases where it is quite meaningless, since the healing had taken 
place in the presence of a multitude. It must therefore be derived 
from the Evangelist. Only when it is recognised as a free creation 
can its meaning be discerned. It finds its explanation in the in- 
consistent views regarding miracle which were held side by side in 
the early Church. No doubt was felt that Jesus had performed 
miracles, and by these miracles had given evidence of His Divine 
mission. On the other hand, by the introduction of the Christian 
principle, the Jewish demand for a sign had been so far limited, 
and the other, the spiritual line of evidence, had become so 
important, or at least so indispensable, that it was no longer possible 
to build on the miracles only, or to regard Jesus merely as a 

1 We retain the German phrase, which has naturalised itself in Synoptic criticism 
as the designation of an assumed primary gospel lying behind the canonical Mark. 


wonder-worker ; so in some way or other the importance ascribed 
to miracle must be reduced. In the graphic symbolism of the 
Gospel history this antithesis takes the form that Jesus did miracles 
there was no getting away from that but on the other hand 
Himself declared that He did not wish to lay any stress upon such 
acts. As there are times when miracles must hide their light under 
a bushel, Jesus, on occasion, forbids that they should be made 
known. The other Synoptists no longer understood this theory of 
the first Evangelist, and introduced the prohibition in passages 
where it was absurd. 

The way in which Jesus makes known His Messiahship is based 
on another theory of the original Evangelist. The order of Mark 
can give us no information regarding the chronology of the life of 
Jesus, since this Gospel is anything rather than a chronicle. We 
cannot even assert that there is a deliberate logic in the way in 
which the sections are connected. But there is one fundamental 
principle of arrangement which comes quite clearly to light, viz. 
that it was only at Caesarea Philippi, in the closing period of His 
life, that Jesus made Himself known as the Messiah, and that, 
therefore, He was not previously held to be so either by His 
disciples or by the people. This is clearly shown in the answers of 
the disciples when Jesus asked them whom men took Him to be. 
The implied course of events, however, is determined by art, not 
history as history it would be inconceivable. 

Could there indeed be a more absurd impossibility? "Jesus," 
says Bauer, "must perform these innumerable, these astounding 
miracles because, according to the view which the Gospels represent, 
He is the Messiah ; He must perform them in order to prove Him- 
self to be the Messiah and yet no one recognises Him as the 
Messiah ! That is the greatest miracle of all, that the people had 
not long ago recognised the Messiah in this wonder-worker. Jesus 
could only be held to be the Messiah in consequence of doing 
miracles ; but He only began to do miracles when, in the faith of 
the early Church, He rose from the dead as Messiah, and the facts 
that He rose as Messiah and that He did miracles, are one and the 
same fact." 

Mark, however, represents a Jesus who does miracles and who 
nevertheless does not thereby reveal Himself to be the Messiah. 
He was obliged so to represent Him, because he was conscious that 
Jesus was not recognised and acknowledged as Messiah by the 
people, nor even by His immediate followers, in the unhesitating 
fashion in which those of later times imagined Him to have been 
recognised. Mark's conception and representation of the matter 
carried back into the past the later developments by which there 
finally arose a Christian community for which Jesus had become 
the Messiah. " Mark is also influenced by an artistic instinct which 


leads him to develop the main interest, the origin of the faith, 
gradually. It is only after the ministry of Jesus has extended over 
a considerable period, and is, indeed, drawing towards its close, 
that faith arises in the circle of the disciples ; and it is only later 
still, when, in the person of the blind man at Jericho, a prototype 
of the great company of believers that was to be has hailed the 
Lord with a Messianic salutation, that, at the triumphal entry into 
Jerusalem, the faith of the people suddenly ripens and finds 

It is true, this artistic design is completely marred when Jesus 
does miracles which must have made Him known to every child as 
the Messiah. We cannot, therefore, blame Matthew very much if, 
while he retains this plan in its external outlines in a kind of 
mechanical way, he contradicts it somewhat awkwardly by making 
Jesus at an earlier point clearly designate Himself as Messiah and 
many recognise Him as such. And the Fourth Evangelist cannot 
be said to be destroying any very wonderful work of art when he 
gives the impression that from the very first any one who wished 
could recognise Jesus as the Messiah. 

Mark himself does not keep strictly to his own plan. He 
makes Jesus forbid His disciples to make known His Messiahship ; 
how then does the multitude at Jerusalem recognise it so suddenly, 
after a single miracle which they had not even witnessed, and 
which was in no way different from others which He had done 
before ? If that " chance multitude " in Jerusalem was capable 
of such sudden enlightenment it must have fallen from heaven ! 

The following remarks of Bauer, too, are nothing less than 
classical. The incident at Caesarea Philippi is the central fact 
of the Gospel history, it gives us a fixed point from which to group 
and criticise the other statements of the Gospel. At the same 
time it introduces a complication into the plan of the life of Jesus, 
because it necessitates the carrying through of the theory often 
in the face of the text that previously Jesus had never been 
regarded as the Messiah ; and lays upon us the necessity of showing 
not only how Peter had come to recognise His Messiahship, but 
also how He subsequently became Messiah for the multitude 
if indeed He ever did become Messiah for them. But the very 
fact that it does introduce this complication is in itself a proof 
that in this scene at Caesarea Philippi we have the one ray of 
light which history sheds upon the life of Jesus. It is impossible 
to explain how any one could come to reject the simple and natural 
idea that Jesus claimed from the first to be the Messiah, if that 
had been the fact, and accept this complicated representation in 
its place. The latter, therefore, must be the original version. In 
pointing this out, Bauer gave for the first time the real proof, from 
internal evidence, of the priority of Mark. 


The difficulty involved in the conception of miracle as a proof 
of the Messiahship of Jesus is another discovery of Bauer's. Only 
here, instead of probing the question to the bottom, he stops half- 
way. How do we know, he should have gone on to ask, that the 
Messiah was expected to appear as an earthly wonder-worker? 
There is nothing to that effect in Jewish writings. And do not 
the Gospels themselves prove that any one might do miracles 
without suggesting to a single person the idea that he might be 
the Messiah ? Accordingly the only inference to be drawn from 
the Marcan representation is that miracles were not among the 
characteristic marks of the Messiah, and that it was only later, in 
the Christian community, which made Jesus the miracle-worker 
into Jesus the Messiah, that this connexion between miracles and 
Messiahship was established. In dealing with the question of 
the triumphal entry, too, Bauer halts half-way. Where do we 
read that Jesus was hailed as Messiah upon that occasion? If 
He had been taken by the people to be the Messiah, the con- 
troversy in Jerusalem must have turned on this personal question ; 
but it did not even touch upon it, and the Sanhedrin never thinks 
of setting up witnesses to Jesus' claim to be the Messiah. When 
once Bauer had exposed the historical and literary impossibility 
of Jesus' being hailed by the people as Messiah, he ought to have 
gone on to draw the conclusion that Jesus did not, according to 
Mark, make a Messianic entry into Jerusalem. 

It was, however, a remarkable achievement on Bauer's part 
to have thus set forth clearly the historical difficulties of the life 
of Jesus. One might suppose that between the work of Strauss 
and that of Bauer there lay not five, but fifty years the critical 
work of a whole generation. 

The stereotyped character of the thrice-repeated prediction 
of the passion, which, according to Bauer, betrays a certain poverty 
and feebleness of imagination on the part of the earliest Evangelist, 
shows clearly, he thinks, the unhistorical character of the utterance 
recorded. The fact that the prediction occurs three times, its 
definiteness increasing upon each occasion, proves its literary origin. 

It is the same with the transfiguration. The group in which 
the heroic representatives of the Law and the Prophets stand as 
supporters of the Saviour, was modelled by the earliest Evangelist. 
In order to place it in the proper light and to give becoming 
splendour to its great subject, he has introduced a number of traits 
taken from the story of Moses. 

Bauer pitilessly exposes the difficulties of the journey of Jesus 
from Galilee to Jerusalem, and exults over the perplexities of the 
"apologists." "The theologian," he says, "must not boggle at 
this journey, he must just believe it. He must in faith follow the 
footsteps of his Lord ! Through the midst of Galilee and Samaria 


and at the same time, for Matthew also claims a hearing, through 
Judaea on the farther side of Jordan ! I wish him Bon voyage!" 

The eschatological discourses are not history, but are merely 
an expansion of those explanations of the sufferings of the Church 
of which we have had a previous example in the charge to the 
Twelve. An Evangelist who wrote before the destruction of 
Jerusalem would have referred to the Temple, to Jerusalem, and 
to the Jewish people, in a very different way. 

The story of Lazarus deserves special attention. Did not 
Spinoza say that he would break his system in pieces if he could 
be convinced of the reality of this event? This is the decisive 
point for the question of the relation between the Synoptists and 
John. Vain are all the efforts of the apologists to explain why 
the Synoptists do not mention this miracle. The reason they 
ignore it is that it originated after their time in the mind of the 
Fourth Evangelist, and they were unacquainted with his Gospel. 
And yet it is the most valuable of all, because it shows clearly 
the concentric circles of progressive intensification by which the 
development of the Gospel history proceeds. " The Fourth Gospel," 
remarks Bauer, "represents a dead man as having been restored 
to life after having been four days under the power of death, and 
having consequently become a prey to corruption ; Luke represents 
the young man at Nain as being restored to life when his body 
was being carried to the grave ; Mark, the earliest Evangelist, can 
only tell us of the restoration of a dead person who had the 
moment before succumbed to an illness. The theologians have 
a great deal to say about the contrast between the canonical and 
the apocryphal writings, but they might have found a similar 
contrast even within the four Gospels, if the light had not been so 
directly in their eyes." 

The treachery of Judas, as described in the Gospels, is in- 

The Lord's Supper, considered as an historic scene, is revolting 
and inconceivable. Jesus can no more have instituted it than He 
can have uttered the saying, "Let the dead bury their dead." In 
both cases the objectionableness arises from the fact that a tenet 
of the early Church has been cast into the form of an historical 
saying of Jesus. A man who was present in person, corporeally 
present, could not entertain the idea of offering others his flesh 
and blood to eat. To demand from others that they should, while 
he was actually present, imagine the bread and wine which they 
were eating to be his body and blood, would be for an actual man 
wholly impossible. It was only when Jesus' actual bodily presence 
had been removed, and only when the Christian community had 
existed for some time, that such a conception as is expressed in 
that formula could have arisen. A point which clearly betrays the 


later composition of the narrative is that the Lord does not turn 
to the disciples sitting with Him at table and say, "This is my 
blood which is shed for you," but, since the words were invented 
by the early Church, speaks of the " many " for whom He gives 
Himself. The only historical fact is that the Jewish Passover was 
gradually transformed by the Christian community into a feast 
which had reference to Jesus. 

As regards the scene in Gethsemane, Mark, according to Bauer, 
held it necessary that in the moment when the last conflict and 
final catastrophe were coming upon Jesus, He should show clearly 
by His actions that He met this fate of His own free will. The 
reality of His choice could only be made clear by showing Him 
first engaged in an inner struggle against the acceptance of His 
vocation, before showing how He freely submitted to His fate. 

The last words ascribed to Jesus by Mark, " My God, my God, 
why hast Thou forsaken me ? " were written without thinking of the 
inferences that might be drawn from them, merely with the purpose 
of showing that even to the last moment of His passion Jesus 
fulfilled the role of the Messiah, the picture of whose sufferings had 
been revealed to the Psalmist so long beforehand by the Holy Spirit. 

It is scarcely necessary now, Bauer thinks, to go" into the 
contradictions in the story of the resurrection, for "the doughty 
Reimarus, with his thorough-going honesty, has already fully 
exposed them, and no one has refuted him." 

The results of Bauer's analysis may be summed up as follows : 

The Fourth Evangelist has betrayed the secret of the original 
Gospel, namely, that it too can be explained on purely literary 
grounds. Mark has "loosed us from the theological lie." "Thanks 
to the kindly fate," cries Bauer, "which has preserved to us this 
writing of Mark by which we have been delivered from the web of 
deceit of this hellish pseudo-science ! " 

In order to tear this web of falsehood the critic and historian 
must, despite his repugnance, once more take up the pretended 
arguments of the theologians in favour of the historicity of the 
Gospel narratives and set them on their feet, only to knock them 
down again. In the end Bauer's only feeling towards the theo- 
logians was one of contempt. "The expression of his contempt," 
he declares, " is the last weapon which the critic, after refuting the 
arguments of the theologians, has at his disposal for their discom- 
fiture ; it is his right to use it ; that puts the finishing touch upon 
his task and points forward to the happy time when the arguments 
of the theologians shall no more be heard of." 

These outbreaks of bitterness are to be explained by the feeling 
of repulsion which German apologetic theology inspired in every 
genuinely honest and thoughtful man by the methods which it 
adopted in opposing Strauss. Hence the fiendish joy with which 


he snatches away the crutches of this pseudo-science, hurls them to 
a distance, and makes merry over its helplessness. A furious hatred, 
a fierce desire to strip the theologians absolutely bare, carried Bauer 
much farther than his critical acumen would have led him in cold 

Bauer hated the theologians for still holding fast to the 
barbarous conception that a great man had forced himself into a 
stereotyped and unspiritual system, and in that way had set in 
motion great ideas, whereas he held that that would have signified 
the death of both the personality and the ideas; but this hatred is 
only the surface symptom of another hatred, which goes deeper 
than theology, going down, indeed, to the very depths of the 
Christian conception of the world. Bruno Bauer hates not only the 
theologians, but Christianity, and hates it because it expresses a 
truth in a wrong way. It is a religion which has become petrified 
in a transitional form. A religion which ought to have led on to 
the true religion has usurped the place of the true religion, and in 
this petrified form it holds prisoner all the real forces of religion. 

Religion is the victory over the world of the self-conscious ego. 
It is only when the ego grasps itself in its antithesis to the world as 
a whole, and is no longer content to play the part of a mere " walking 
gentleman " in the world-drama, but faces the world with independ- 
ence and reserve, that the necessary conditions of universal religion 
are present. These conditions came into being with the rise of the 
Roman Empire, in which the individual suddenly found himself 
helpless and unarmed in face of a world in which he could no 
longer find free play for his activities, but must stand prepared at 
any moment to be ground to powder by it. 

The self-conscious ego, recognising this position, found itself 
faced by the necessity of breaking loose from the world and 
standing alone, in order in this way to overcome the world. Victory 
over the world by alienation from the world these were the ideas 
out of which Christianity was born. But it was not the true victory 
over the world ; Christianity remained at the stage of violent 
opposition to the world. 

Miracle, to which the Christian religion has always appealed, 
and to which it gives a quite fundamental importance, is the 
appropriate symbol of this false victory over the world. There are 
some wonderfully deep thoughts scattered through Bauer's critical 
investigations. "Man's realisation of his personality," he says, "is 
the death of Nature, but in the sense that he can only bring about 
this death by the knowledge of Nature and its laws, that is to 
say from within, being himself essentially the annihilation and 
negation of Nature. . . . Spirit honours and recognises the worth 
of the very thing which it negates. . . . Spirit does not fume and 
bluster, and rage and rave against Nature, as it is supposed to do 


in miracle, for that would be the denial of its inner law, but quietly 
works its way through the antithesis. In short the death of Nature 
implied in the conscious realisation of personality is the resur- 
rection of Nature in a nobler form, not the maltreatment, mockery, 
and insult to which it would be exposed by miracle." Not only 
miracle, however, but the portrait of Jesus Christ as drawn in the 
Gospels, is a stereotyping of that false idea of victory over the world. 
The Christ of the Gospel history, thought of as a really historic figure, 
would be a figure at which humanity would shudder, a figure which 
could only inspire dismay and horror. The historical Jesus, if He 
really existed, can only have been One who reconciled in His own 
consciousness the antithesis which obsessed the Jewish mind, 
namely the separation between God and Man ; He cannot in the 
process of removing this antithesis have called into existence a new 
principle of religious division and alienation ; nor can He have 
shown the way of escape, by the principle of inwardness, from the 
bondage of the Law only to impose a new set of legal fetters. 

The Christ of the Gospel history, on the other hand, is Man 
exalted by the religious consciousness to heaven, who, even 
if He comes down to earth to do miracles, to teach, and to 
suffer, is no longer true man. The Son of Man of religion, even 
though His mission be to reconcile, is man as alienated from himself. 
This Christ of the Gospel history, the ego exalted to heaven and 
become God, overthrew antiquity, and conquered the world in the 
sense that He exhausted it of all its vitality. This magnified ego 
would have fulfilled its historical vocation if, by means of the terrible 
disorganisation into which it threw the real spirit of mankind, it 
had compelled the latter to come to a knowledge of itself, to become 
self-conscious with a thoroughness and decisiveness which had not 
been possible to the simple spirit of antiquity. It was disastrous 
that the figure which stood for the first emancipation of the ego, 
remained alive. That transformation of the human spirit which 
was brought about by the encounter of the world-power of Rome 
with philosophy was represented by the Gospels, under the influence 
of the Old Testament, as realised in a single historic Personality ; 
and the strength of the spirit of mankind was swallowed up by the 
omnipotence of the pure absolute ego, an ego which was alien 
from actual humanity. The self-consciousness of humanity finds 
itself reflected in the Gospels, a self, indeed, in alienation from 
itself, and therefore a grotesque parody of itself, but, after all, in some 
sense, itself; hence the magical charm which attracted mankind and 
enchained it, and, so long as it had not truly found itself, urged it 
to sacrifice everything to grasp the image of itself, to prefer it to all 
other and all else, counting all, as the apostle says, but " dung " in 
comparison with it. 

Even when the Roman world was no more, and a new world 


had come into being, the Christ so created did not die. The magic 
of His enchantment became only more terrible, and as new strength 
came flooding into the old world, the time arrived when it was to 
accomplish its greatest work of destruction. Spirit, in its abstrac- 
tion, became a vampire, the destroyer of the world. Sap and 
strength, blood and life, it sucked, to the last drop, out of humanity. 
Nature and art, family, nation, state, all were destroyed by it ; and 
in the ruins of the fallen world the ego, exhausted by its efforts, 
remained the only surviving power. 

Having made a desert all about it, the ego could not immedi- 
ately create anew, out of the depths of its inner consciousness, 
nature and art, nation and state ; the awful process which now went 
on, the only activity of which it was now capable, was the absorption 
into itself of all that had hitherto had life in the world. The ego 
was now everything ; and yet it was a void. It had become the 
universal power, and yet as it brooded over the ruins of the world 
it was filled with horror at itself and with despair at all that it had 
lost. The ego which had devoured all things and was still a void 
now shuddered at itself. 

Under the oppression of this awful power the education of 
mankind has been going on ; under this grim task-master it has 
been preparing for true freedom, preparing to rouse itself from the 
depths of its distress, to escape from its opposition to itself and 
cast out that alien ego which is wasting its substance. Odysseus 
has now returned to his home, not by favour of the gods, not laid on 
the shore in sleep, but awake, by his own thought and his own 
strength. Perchance, as of yore, he will have need to fight with 
the suitors who have devoured his substance and sought to rob 
him of all he holds most dear. Odysseus must string the bow 
once more. 

The baleful charm of the self-alienated ego is broken the moment 
any one proves to the religious sense of mankind that the Jesus 
Christ of the Gospels is its creation and ceases to exist as soon as 
this is recognised. The formation of the Church and the arising 
of the idea that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Messiah are not 
two different things, they are one and the same thing, they coincide 
and synchronise ; but the idea was only the imaginative conception 
of the Church, the first movement of its life, the religious expression 
of its experience. 

The question which has so much exercised the minds of men 
whether Jesus was the historic Christ ( = Messiah) is answered 
in the sense that everything that the historical Christ is, every- 
thing that is said of Him, everything that is known of Him, belongs 
to the world of imagination, that is, of the imagination of the 
Christian community, and therefore has nothing to do with any 
man who belongs to the real world. 


The world is now free, and ripe for a higher religion in which 
the ego will overcome nature, not by self- alienation, but by 
penetrating it and ennobling it. To the theologian we may fling 
as a gift the shreds of his former science, when we have torn it to 
pieces; that will be something to occupy himself with, that time 
may not hang heavy upon his hands in the new world whose 
advent is steadily drawing nearer. 

Thus the task which Bauer had set himself at the beginning of 
his criticism of the Gospel history, turned, before he had finished, 
into something different. When he began, he thought to save the 
honour of Jesus and to restore His Person from the state of 
inanition to which the apologists had reduced it, and hoped by 
furnishing a proof that the historical Jesus could not have been the 
Jesus Christ of the Gospels, to bring Him into a living relation 
with history. This task, however, was given up in favour of the 
larger one of freeing the world from the domination of the Judaeo- 
Roman idol, Jesus the Messiah, and in carrying out this endeavour 
the thesis that Jesus Christ is a product of the imagination of the 
early Church is formulated in such a way that the existence of a 
historic Jesus becomes problematical, or, at any rate, quite 

At the end of his study of the Gospels, Bauer is inclined to 
make the decision of the question whether there ever was a 
historic Jesus depend on the result of a further investigation which 
he proposed to make into the Pauline Epistles. It was not until 
ten years later (1850 1851) that he accomplished this task, 1 and 
applied the result in his new edition of the "Criticism of the 
Gospel History." 2 The result is negative : there never was any 
historical Jesus. While criticising the four great Pauline Epistles, 
which the Tubingen school fondly imagined to be beyond the reach 
of criticism, Bauer shows, however, his inability to lay a positive 
historic foundation for his view of the origin of Christianity. The 
transference of the Epistles to the second century is effected in 
so arbitrary a fashion that it refutes itself. However, this work 
professes to be only a preliminary study for a larger one in which 
the new theory was to be fully worked out. This did not appear 
until 1877; it was entitled "Christ and the Caesars; How 
Christianity originated from Graeco-Roman Civilisation." 3 The 
historical basis for his theory, which he here offers, is even more 
unsatisfactory than that suggested in the preliminary work on the 
Pauline Epistles. There is no longer any pretence of following 

1 Kritik der Paulin ischen Brief e. (Criticism of the Pauline Epistles.) Berlin, 

2 Kritik der Evangelien und Geschichte ihres Ursprungs. (Criticism of the 
Gospels and History of their Origin.) 2 vols. , Berlin, 1850-1851. 

3 Christus nnd die Casaren, Der Ursprung des Christentums aus dem romischzn 
Griechentum. Berlin, 1877. 


an historical method, the whole thing works out into an imaginary 
picture of the life of Seneca. Nero's tutor had, Bauer thinks, 
already in his inmost consciousness fully attained to inner 
opposition to the world. There are expressions in his works 
which, in their mystical emancipation from the world, prelude the 
utterances of Paul. The same thoughts, since they belong not to 
Seneca only, but to his time, are found also in the works of the 
three poets of the Neronian period, Persius, Lucan, and Petronius. 
Though they had but a feeble breath of the divine afflatus, they are 
interesting witnesses to the spiritual condition of the time. They, 
too, contributed to the making of Christianity. 

But Seneca, in spite of his inner alienation from the world, 
remained in active relations with the world. He desired to found 
a kingdom of virtue upon earth. At the courts of Claudius and 
Nero he used the arts of intrigue to further his ends, and even 
quietly approved deeds of violence which he thought likely to serve 
his cause. Finally, he grasped at the supreme power; and paid 
the supreme penalty. Stoicism had made an attempt to reform 
the world, and had failed. The great thinkers began to despair 
of exercising any influence upon history, the Senate was powerless, 
all public bodies were deprived of their rights. Then a spirit of 
resignation came over the world. The alienation from the world, 
which in Seneca had still been only half serious, was come in 
earnest. The time of Nero and Domitian was a great epoch in 
that hidden spiritual history which goes silently forward side by 
side with the noisy outward history of the world. When Stoicism, 
in this development, had been deepened by the introduction of 
neo-Platonic ideas, it was on its way to become the Gospel. 

But by itself it would not have given birth to that new thing. 
It attached itself as a formative principle to Judaism, which was 
then just breaking loose from the limitations of nationality. Bauer 
points to Josephus as a type of this new Roman Judaism. This 
" neo-Roman " lived in the conviction that his God, who had 
withdrawn from His Temple, would take possession of the world, 
and make the Roman Empire submit to His law. Josephus 
realised in his life that for which the way had been spiritually 
prepared by Philo. The latter did not merely effect a fusion of 
Jewish ideas with Greek speculations ; he took advantage of the 
universal dominion established by the Romans to found upon it 
his spiritual world. Bauer had already pictured him in this role 
in his work " Philo, Strauss, and Renan, and Primitive Christianity." 

Thus was the new religion formed. The spirit of it came 
from the west, the outward frame was furnished by Judaism. The 
new movement had two foci, Rome and Alexandria. Philo's 
" Therapeutae " were real people ; they were the forerunners of 
Christianity. Under Trajan the new religion began to be known. 


Pliny's letter asking for instructions as to how to deal with the 
new movement is its certificate of birth the original form of the 
letter, it must be understood, not the present form, which has 
undergone editing at the hands of Christians. 

The literary process by which the origin of the movement was 
thrown back to an earlier date in history lasted about fifty years. 

When this latest work of Bauer's appeared he had long been 
regarded by theologians as an extinct force ; nay, more, had been 
forgotten. And he had not even kept his promise. He had not 
succeeded in showing what that higher form of victory over the 
world was, which he declared superior to Christianity ; and in 
place of the personality of Jesus he had finally set up a hybrid 
thing, laboriously compounded out of two personalities of so little 
substance as those of Seneca and Josephus. That was the end of 
his great undertaking. 

But it was a mistake to bury, along with the Bauer of the 
second period, also the Bauer of the first period, the critic for the 
latter was not dead. It was, indeed, nothing less than a misfortune 
that Strauss and Bauer appeared within so short a time of one 
another. Bauer passed practically unnoticed, because every one 
was preoccupied with Strauss. Another unfortunate thing was 
that Bauer overthrew with his powerful criticism the hypothesis 
which attributed real historical value to Mark, so that it lay for a 
long time disregarded, and there ensued a barren period of twenty 
years in the critical study of the Life of Jesus. 

The only critic with whom Bauer can be compared is Reimarus. 
Each exercised a terrifying and disabling influence upon his time. 
No one else had been so keenly conscious as they of the extreme 
complexity of the problem offered by the life of Jesus. In view of 
this complexity they found themselves compelled to seek a solution 
outside the confines of verifiable history. Reimarus, by finding 
the basis of the story of Jesus in a deliberate imposture on the part 
of the disciples ; Bauer, by postulating an original Evangelist who 
invented the history. On this ground it was just that they should 
lose their case. But in dismissing the solutions which they offered, 
their contemporaries also dismissed the problems which had 
necessitated such solutions ; they dismissed them because they 
were as little able to grasp as to remove these difficulties. 

But the time is past for pronouncing judgment upon Lives of 
Christ on the ground of the solutions which they offer. For us the 
great men are not those who solved the problems, but those who 
discovered them. Bauer's " Criticism of the Gospel History " is 
worth a good dozen Lives of Jesus, because his work, as we are 
only now coming to recognise, after half a century, is the ablest 
and most complete collection of the difficulties of the Life of Jesus 
which is anywhere to be found. 


Unfortunately, by the independent, the too loftily independent 
way in which he developed his ideas, he destroyed the possibility 
of their influencing contemporary theology. The shaft which he 
had driven into the mountain broke down behind him, so that it 
needed the work of a whole generation to lay bare once more the 
veins of ore which he had struck. His contemporaries could not 
suspect that the abnormality of his solutions was due to the 
intensity with which he grasped the problems as problems, and 
that he had become blind to history by examining it too micro- 
scopically. Thus for his contemporaries he was a mere eccentric. 

But his eccentricity concealed a penetrating insight. No one 
else had as yet grasped with the same completeness the idea that 
primitive Christianity and early Christianity were not merely the 
direct outcome of the preaching of Jesus, not merely a teaching 
put into practice, but more, much more, since to the experience 
of which Jesus was the subject there allied itself the experience of 
the world-soul at a time when its body humanity under the 
Roman Empire lay in the throes of death. Since Paul, no one 
had apprehended so powerfully the mystic idea of the super- 
sensible trw/za Xpio-Tov. Bauer transferred it to the historical plane 
and found the " body of Christ " in the Roman Empire. 


Charles Christian Hennell. Untersuchungen iiber den Ursprung des Christentums. 
(An Inquiry concerning the Origin of Christianity.) 1840. With a preface by 
David Friedrich Strauss. English edition, 1838. 

Wichtige Enthiillungen iiber die wirkliche Todesart Jesu. Nach einem alien zu 
Alexandria gefundenen Manuskripte von einem Zeitgenossen Jesu aus dem 
heiligen Orden der Essaer. (Important Disclosures concerning the Manner of 
Jesus' Death. From an ancient MS. found at Alexandria, written by a con- 
temporary of Jesus belonging to the sacred Order of the Essenes. ) 1849. 5th 
ed., Leipzig. (Anonymous.) 

Historische Enthiillungen iiber die wirklichen Ereignisse der Geburt und Jugend Jesu. 
Als Fortsetzung der zu Alexandria aufgefundenen alten Urkunden aus dem 
Essaerorden. (Historical Disclosures concerning the real circumstances of the 
Birth and Youth of Jesus. A Continuation of the ancient Essene MS. discovered 
at Alexandria.) 1849. 2nd ed. , Leipzig. 

August Friedrich Gfrorer. Kritische Geschichte des Urchristentums. (Critical 
History of Primitive Christianity.) 

Vol. i. ist ed., 1831 ; and, 1835. Part i. 543 pp. ; Part ii. 406 pp. 
Vol. ii. 1838. Part i. 452 pp.; Part ii. 417 pp. 

Richard von der Aim. (Pseudonym of Friedrich Wilhelm Ghillany.) Theo- 
logische Briefe an die Gebildeten der deutschen Nation, 1863. (Theological 
Letters to the Cultured Classes of the German People, 1863.) Vol. i. 929 pp. ; 
Vol. ii. 656 pp. ; Vol. iii. 802 pp. 

Ludwig Noack. Die Geschichte Jesu auf Grund freier geschichtlicher Unter- 
suchungen iiber das Evangelium und die Evangelien. (The History of Jesus on 
the Basis of a free Historical Inquiry regarding the Gospel and the Gospels. ) 
2nd ed., 1876, Mannheim. Book i. 251 pp. ; Book ii. 187 pp. ; Book iii. 
386 pp. ; Book iv. 285 pp. 

STRAUSS can hardly be said to have done himself honour by con- 
tributing a preface to the translation of Hennell's work, which is 
nothing more than Venturini's " Non-miraculous History of the 
Great Prophet of Nazareth" tricked out with a fantastic para- 
phernalia of learning. 1 

The two series of "Important Disclosures" also are really 
" conveyed " with no particular ability from that classic romance of 

1 Hennell, a London merchant, withdrew himself from his business pursuits for two 
years in order to make the preparatory studies for this Life of Jesus. [He is best 
known as a friend of George Eliot, who was greatly interested and influenced by the 
" Inquiry." TRANSLATOR.] To the same category as Hennell's work belongs the 
Wohlgeprufte Darstellung des Lebens Jesu (An Account of the Life of Jesus based on 

161 ii 


the Life of Jesus, but that did not prevent their making something 
of a sensation at the time when they appeared. 1 Jesus, accord- 
ing to his narrative, was the son of a member of the Essene Order. 
The child was watched over by the Order and prepared for His 
future mission. He entered on His public ministry as a tool of the 
Essenes, who after the crucifixion took Him down from the cross 
and resuscitated Him. 

These " Disclosures " only preserve the more external features 
of Venturini's representation. His Life of Jesus had been more 
than a mere romance, it had been an imaginative solution of 
problems which he had intuitively perceived. It may be regarded 
as the Forerunner of rationalistic criticism. The problems which 
Venturini had intuitively perceived were not solved either by 
the rationalists, or by Strauss, or by Weisse. These writers 
had not succeeded in providing that of which Venturini had 
dreamed a living purposeful connexion between the events of the 
life of Jesus or in explaining His Person and Work as having a 
relation, either positive or negative, to the circumstances of Late 
Judaism. Venturini's plan, however fantastic, connects the life of 
Jesus with Jewish history and contemporary thought much more 
closely than any other Life of Jesus, for that connexion is of course 
vital to the plot of the romance. In Weisse's "Gospel History" 
criticism had deliberately renounced the attempt to explain Jesus 
directly from Judaism, finding itself unable to establish any con- 
nexion between His teachings and contemporary Jewish ideas. 
The way was therefore once more open to the imagination. 
Accordingly several imaginative Lives preluded a new era in the study 
of the subject, in so far as they endeavoured to understand Jesus on 
the basis of purely Jewish ideas, in some cases as affirming these, 
in others as opposing them in favour of a more spiritual conception. 
In Gfrorer, Richard von der Aim, and Noack, begins the skirmishing 
preparatory to the future battle over eschatology. 2 

the closest Examination) of the Heidelberg mathematician, Karl von Langsdorf. 
Mannheim, 1831. Supplement, with preface to a future second edition, 1833. 

1 Hase seems not to have recognised that the "Disclosures" were merely a 
plagiarism from Venturini. He mentions them in connexion with Bruno Bauer and 
appears to make him responsible for inspiring them ; at least that is suggested by his 
formula of transition when he says : "It was primarily to him that the frivolous 
apocryphal hypotheses attached themselves. " This is quite inaccurate. The anony- 
mous epitomist of Venturini had nothing to do with Bauer, and had probably not 
read a line of his work. Venturini, whom he had read, he does not name. 

2 One of the most ingenious of the followers of Venturini was the French Jew Salvator. 
In his Jtsus-Christ et sa doctrine (Paris, 2 vols. , 1838), he seeks to prove that Jesus 
was the last representative of a mysticism which, drawing its nutriment from the other 
Oriental religions, was to be traced among the Jews from the time of Solomon onwards. 
In Jesus this mysticism allied itself with Messianic enthusiasm. After He had lost con- 
sciousness upon the cross He was succoured by Joseph of Arimathea and Pilate's wife, 
contrary to His own expectation and purpose. He ended His days among the Essenes. 

Salvator looks to a spiritualised mystical Mosaism as destined to be the successful 
rival of Christianity. 

A. F. GFRORER 163 

August Friedrich Gfrorer, born in 1803 at Calw, was " Repetent " 
at the Tubingen theological seminary at the time when Strauss was 
studying there. After being curate at the principal church in 
Stuttgart for a year he gave up, in 1830, the clerical profession in 
order to devote himself wholly to his clerical studies. 

By that time he had abandoned Christianity. In the preface to 
the first edition of the first volume of his work, he describes 
Christianity as a system which now only maintains itself by the 
force of custom, after having commended itself to antiquity " by the 
hope of the mystic Kingdom of the future world and having ruled the 
middle ages by the fear of the same future." By enunciating this 
view he has made an end, he thinks, of all high-flying Hegelian 
ideas, and being thus freed from all speculative prejudices he feels 
himself in a position to approach his task from a purely historical 
standpoint, with a view to showing how much of Christianity is the 
creation of one exceptional Personality, and how much belongs to 
the time in which it arose. In the first volume he describes how 
the transformation of Jewish theology in Alexandria reacted upon 
Palestinian theology, and how it came to its climax in Philo. The 
great Alexandrian anticipated, according to Gfrorer, the ideas of 
Paul. His " Therapeutae " are identical with the Essenes. At the 
same period Judaea was kept in a ferment by a series of risings, to 
all of which the incentive was found in Messianic expectations. 
Then Jesus appeared. The three points to be investigated in 
His history are : what end He had in view ; why He died ; and 
what modifications His work underwent at the hands of the 

The second volume, entitled " The Sacred Legend," does not, 
however, carry out this plan. The works of Strauss and Weisse 
necessitated a new method of treatment. The fame of Strauss's 
achievement stirred Gfrorer to emulation, and Weisse, with his 
priority of Mark and rejection of John, must be refuted. The 
work is therefore almost a polemic against Weisse for his "want of 
historic sense," and ends in setting up views which had not entered 
into Gfrorer's mind at the time when he wrote his first volume. 

The statements of Papias regarding the Synoptists, which Weisse 
followed, are not deserving of credence. For a whole generation 
and more the tradition about Jesus had passed from mouth to 
mouth, and it had absorbed much that was legendary. Luke was 
the first as his preface shows who checked that process, and 
undertook to separate what was genuine from what was not. He 
is the most trustworthy of the Evangelists, for he keeps closely to 
his sources and adds nothing of his own, in contrast with Matthew 
who, writing at a later date, used sources of less value and invented 
matter of his own, which Gfrorer finds especially in the story of the 
passion in this Gospel. The lateness of Matthew is also evident 


from his tendency to carry over the Old Testament into the New. 
In Luke, on the other hand, the sources are so conscientiously treated 
that Gfrorer finds no difficulty in analysing the narrative into its 
component parts, especially as he always has a purely instinctive 
feeling " whenever a different wind begins to blow." 

Both Gospels, however, were written long after the destruction 
of the holy city, since they do not draw their material from the 
Jerusalem tradition, but "from the Christian legends which had 
grown up in the neighbourhood of the Sea of Tiberias," and in 
consequence " mistakenly transferred the scene of Jesus' ministry to 
Galilee." For this reason it is not surprising "that even down into 
the second century many Christians had doubts about the truth of 
the Synoptics and ventured to express their doubts." Such doubts 
only ceased when the Church became firmly established and began 
to use its authority to suppress the objections of individuals. Mark 
is the earliest witness to doubts within the primitive Christian 
community regarding the credibility of his predecessors. Luke and 
Matthew are for him not yet sacred books ; he desires to reconcile 
their inconsistencies, and at the same time to produce " a Gospel 
composed of materials of which the authenticity could be maintained 
even against the doubters." For this reason he omits most of the 
discourses, ignores the birth-story, and of the miracles retains only 
those which were most deeply embedded in the tradition. His 
Gospel was probably produced between no and 120. The "non- 
genuine " conclusion was a later addition, but by the Evangelist 
himself. Thus Mark proves that the Synoptists contain legend- 
ary matter even though they are separated from the events 
which they relate only by a generation and a half, or at most two 
generations. To show that there is nothing strange in this, Gfrorer 
gives a long catalogue of miracles found in historians who were 
contemporaries of the events which they describe, and in some cases 
were concerned in them in this connexion Cortez affords him a 
rich storehouse of material. On the other hand, all objections 
against the genuineness of the Fourth Gospel collapse miserably. It 
is true that, like the others, it offers no historically accurate report 
of the discourses of Jesus. It pictures Him as the Logos-Christ and 
makes Him speak in this character ; which Jesus certainly did not 
do. Inadvertently the author makes John the Baptist speak in the 
same way. That does not matter, however, for the historical con- 
ditions are rightly represented ; rightly, because Jerusalem was the 
scene of the greater part of the ministry, and the five Johannine 
miracles are to be retained. The healing of the nobleman's son r 
that of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, and that of the man 
blind from birth happened just as they are told. The story of the 
miracle at Cana rests on a misunderstanding, for the wine which 
Jesus provided was really the wedding-gift which He had brought 


with Him. In the raising of Lazarus a real case of apparent death 
is combined with a polemical exaggeration of it, the restoration to 
life becoming, in the course of controversy with the Jews, an actual 
resurrection. Having thus won free, dragging John along with him, 
from the toils of the Hegelian denial of miracle only, it is true, by 
the aid of Venturini and being prepared to explain the feeding 
of the multitude on the most commonplace rationalistic lines, he 
may well boast that he has "driven the doubt concerning the 
Fourth Gospel into a very small corner." 

"The miserable era of negation," cries Gfrorer, "is now at an 
end ; affirmation begins. We are ascending the eastern mountains 
from which the pure airs of heaven breathe upon the spirit. Our 
guide shall be historical mathematics, a science which is as yet 
known to few, and has not been applied by any one to the New 
Testament." This " mathematic " of Gfrorer's consists in develop- 
ing his whole argument out of a single postulate. Let it be granted 
to him that all other claimants of the Messiahship Gfrorer, in 
defiance of the evidence of Josephus, makes all the leaders of 
revolt in Palestine claimants of the Messiahship were put to death 
by the Romans, whereas Jesus was crucified by His own people : 
it follows that the Messiahship of Jesus was not political, but 
spiritual. He had declared Himself to be in a certain sense the 
longed-for Messiah, but in another sense He was not so. His 
preaching moved in the sphere of Philonian ideas ; although He 
did not as yet explicitly apply the Logos doctrine, it was implicit in 
His thought, so that the discourses of the Fourth Gospel have an 
essential truth. All Messianic conceptions, the Kingdom of God, 
the judgment, the future world, are sublimated into the spiritual 
region. The resurrection of the dead becomes a present eternal 
life. The saying in John v. 24, " He that heareth my word, and 
believeth on Him that sent me, hath eternal life and cometh not 
into judgment; but is passed from death into life," is hte only 
authentic part of that discourse. The reference which follows to 
the coming judgment and the resurrection of the dead is a Jewish 
interpolation. Jesus did not believe that He Himself was to rise 
from the dead. Nevertheless, the "resurrection" is historic ; Joseph 
of Arimathea, a member of the Essene Order, whose tool Jesus 
unconsciously was, had bribed the Romans to make the crucifixion 
of Jesus only a pretence, and to crucify two others with Him in 
order to distract attention from Him. After He was taken down 
from the cross, Joseph removed Him to a tomb of his own which 
had been hewn out for the purpose in the neighbourhood of the 
cross, and succeeded in resuscitating Him. The Christian Church 
grew out of the Essene Order by giving a further development 
to its ideas, and it is impossible to explain the organisation of the 
Church without taking account of the regulations of the Order. 


The work closes with a rhapsody on the Church and its develop- 
ment into the Papal system. 

Gfrorer thus works into Venturini's plan a quantity of material 
drawn from Philo. His first volume would have led one to expect 
a more original and scientific result. But the author is one of 
those " epileptics of criticism " for whom criticism is not a natural 
and healthy means of arriving at a result, but who, in consequence 
of the fits of criticism to which they are subject, and which they 
even endeavour to intensify, fall into a condition of exhaustion, in 
which the need for some fixed point becomes so imperative that 
they create it for themselves by self-suggestion as they previously 
did their criticism and then flatter themselves that they have 
really found it. 

This need for a fixed point carried the former rival of Strauss 
into Catholicism, for which his " General History of the Church " 
(1841-1846) already shows a strong admiration. After the appear- 
ance of this work Gfrorer became Professor of History in the 
University of Freiburg. In 1848 he was active in the German Par- 
liament in endeavouring to promote a reunion of the Protestants 
with the Catholics. In 1853 he went over to the Roman Church. 
His family had already gone over, at Strassburg, during the re- 
volutionary period. In the conflict of the church with the Baden 
Government he vehemently supported the claims of the Pope. He 
died in 1861. 

Incomparably better and more thorough is the attempt to 
write a Life of Jesus embodied in the " Theological Letters to the 
Cultured Classes of the German Nation." Their writer takes 
Gfrorer's studies as his starting-point, but instead of spiritualising 
unjustifiably he ventures to conceive the Jewish world of thought 
in which Jesus lived in its simple realism. He was the first to 
place the eschatology recognised by Strauss and Reimarus in an 
historical setting that of Venturini's plan and to write a Life of 
Jesus entirely governed by the idea of eschatology. 

The author, Friedrich Wilhelm Ghillany, was born in 1807 at 
Erlangen. His first studies were in theology. His rationalistic 
views, however, compelled him to abandon the clerical profession. 
He became librarian at Nuremberg in 1841 and engaged in con- 
troversial writing of an anti-orthodox character, but distinguished 
himself also by historical work of outstanding merit. A year after 
the publication of the "Theological Letters," which he issued under 
the pseudonym of Richard von der Aim, he published a collection 
of "The Opinions of Heathen and Christian Writers of the first 
Christian Centuries about Jesus Christ" (1864), a work which gives 
evidence of a remarkable range of reading. In 1855 he removed 
to Munich in the hope of obtaining a post in the diplomatic 


service, but in spite of his solid acquirements he did not succeed. 
No one would venture to appoint a man of such outspoken anti- 
ecclesiastical views. He died in 1876. 

As regards the question of the sources, Ghillany occupies very 
nearly the Tubingen standpoint, except that he holds Matthew to 
be later than Luke, and Mark to be extracted, not from these 
Gospels in their present form, but from their sources. John is not 

The worship offered to Jesus after His death by the Christian 
community is, according to Ghillany, not derived from pure 
Judaism, but from a Judaism influenced by oriental religions. 
The influence of the cult of Mithra, for example, is unmistakable. 
In it, as in Christianity, we find the virgin-birth, the star, the wise 
men, the cross, and the resurrection. Were it not for the human 
sacrifice of the Mithra cult, the idea which is operative in the 
Supper, of eating and drinking the flesh and blood of the Son 
of Man, would be inexplicable. 

The whole Eastern world was at that time impregnated with 
Gnostic ideas, which centred in the revelation of the Divine in the 
human. In this way there arose, for example, a Samaritan Gnosis, 
independent of the Christian. Christianity itself is a species of 
Gnosis. In any case the metaphysical conception of the Divine 
Sonship of Jesus is of secondary origin. If He was in any sense 
the Son of God for the disciples, they can only have thought of 
this sonship in a Gnostic fashion, and supposed that the " highest 
angel," the Son of God, had taken up His abode in Him. 

John the Baptist had probably come forth from among the 
Essenes, and he preached a spiritualised Kingdom of Heaven. 
He held himself to be Elias. Jesus' aims were originally similar ; 
He came forward " in the cause of sound religious teaching for the 
people." He made no claim to Davidic descent; that is to be 
credited to dogmatic theology. Similarly Papias is wrong in 
ascribing to Jesus the crude eschatological expectations implied in 
the saying about the miraculous vine in the Messianic Kingdom. 

It is certain, however, that Jesus held Himself to be Messiah 
and expected the early coming of the Kingdom. His teaching is 
Rabbinic; all His ideas have their source in contemporary 
Judaism, whose world of thought we can reconstruct from the 
Rabbinic writings ; for even if these only became fixed at a later 
period, the thoughts on which they are based were already current 
in the time of Jesus. Another source of great importance is 
Justin's " Dialogue with the Jew Trypho." 

The starting-point in interpreting the teaching of Jesus is the 
idea of repentance. In the tractate " Sanhedrin " we find : " The 
set time of the Messiah is already here ; His coming depends now 
upon repentance and good works. Rabbi Eleazer says, * When the 


Jews repent they shall be redeemed.'" The Targum of Jonathan 
observes, on Zech. x. 3, 4, 1 "The Messiah is already born, but 
remains in concealment because of the sins of the Hebrews." We 
find the same thoughts put into the mouth of Trypho in Justin. 
In the same Targum of Jonathan, Isa. liii. is interpreted with 
reference to the sufferings of the Messiah. Judaism, therefore, was 
not unacquainted with the idea of a suffering Messiah. He was 
not identified, however, with the heavenly Messiah of Daniel. The 
Rabbis distinguished two Messiahs, one of Israel and one of Judah. 
First the Messiah of the Kingdom of Israel, denominated the Son 
of Joseph, was to come from Galilee to suffer death at the hands 
of the Gentiles in order to make atonement for the sins of the 
Hebrew nation. Only after that would the Messiah predicted by 
Daniel, the son of David, of the tribe of Judah, appear in glory 
upon the clouds of heaven. Finally, He also, after two-and-sixty 
weeks of years, should be taken away, since the Messianic Kingdom, 
even as conceived by Paul, was only a temporary supernatural con- 
dition of the world. 

The Messianic expectation, being directed to supernatural 
events, had no political character, and one who knew Himself to 
be the Messiah could never dream of using earthly means for the 
attainment of His ends ; He would expect all things to be brought 
about by the Divine intervention. In this respect Ghillany grasps 
clearly the character of the eschatology of Jesus more clearly 
than any one had ever done before. 

The role of the Messiah, who prior to His supernatural mani- 
festation remains in concealment upon earth, is therefore passive. 
He who is conscious of a Messianic vocation does not seek to 
found a Kingdom among men. He waits with confidence. He 
issues forth from His passivity with the sole purpose of making 
atonement, by vicarious suffering, for the sins of the people, in 
order that it may be possible for God to bring about the new con- 
dition of things. If, in spite of the repentance of the people and 
the occurrence of the signs which pointed to its being at hand, 
the coming of the Kingdom should be delayed, the man who is 
conscious of a Messianic vocation must, by His death, compel the 
intervention of God. His vocation in this world is to die. 

Brought within the lines of these reflections the Life of Jesus 
shapes itself as follows. 

Jesus was the tool of a mystical sect allied to the Essenes, the 
head of which was doubtless that Joseph of Arimathea who makes 
so sudden and striking an appearance in the Gospel narrative. 
This party desired to bring about the coming of the Kingdom of 
Heaven by mystical means, whereas the mass of the people, led 
astray by the Pharisees, thought to force on its coming by means 
1 The reference should be Micah iv. 8. F. C. B. 


of a rising. In the preacher of a spiritual Kingdom of Heaven, 
who was resolved to go to death for His cause, the mystical party 
discovered Messiah the son of Joseph, and they recognised that 
His death was necessary to make possible the coming of the 
heavenly Messiah predicted by Daniel. That Jesus Himself was 
the Messiah of Daniel, that He would immediately rise again in 
order to ascend to His heavenly throne, and would come thence 
with the hosts of heaven to establish the Kingdom of Heaven, 
these people did not themselves believe. But they encouraged Him 
in this belief, thinking that he would hardly commit Himself to a 
sacrificial death from which there was to be no resurrection. It was 
left uncertain to His mind whether Jehovah would be content with 
the repentance of the people, in so far as it had taken place, as 
realising the necessary condition for the bringing in of the Kingdom 
of Heaven, or whether an atonement by blood, offered by the death 
of Messiah the son of Joseph, would be needful. It had been ex- 
plained to Him that when the calculated year of grace arrived, He 
must go up to Jerusalem and endeavour to rouse the Jews to 
Messianic enthusiasm in order to compel Jehovah to come to their 
aid with His heavenly hosts. From the action of Jehovah it could 
then be discovered whether the preaching of repentance and 
baptism would suffice to make atonement for the people before 
God or not. If Jehovah did not appear, a deeper atonement must 
be made ; Jesus must pay the penalty of death for the sins of the 
Jews, but on the third day would rise again from the dead and 
ascend to the throne of God and come again thence to found the 
Kingdom of Heaven. "Any one can see," concludes Ghillany, 
"that our view affords a very natural explanation of the anxiety 
of the disciples, the suspense of Jesus Himself, and the prayer, 
' If it be possible let this cup pass from me.' " 

"It was apparently only towards the close of His life that 
Jesus revealed to the disciples the possibility that the Son of Man 
might have to suffer and die before He could found the Messianic 

With this possibility before Him, He came to Jerusalem and 
there awaited the Divine intervention. Meanwhile Joseph of 
Arimathea lent his aid towards securing His condemnation in the 
Sanhedrin. He must die on the day of the Passover ; on the day 
of the Preparation He must be at hand and ready in Jerusalem. 
He heldj with His disciples, a love-feast after the Essene custom, 
not a Paschal meal, and in doing so associated thoughts of His 
death with the breaking of bread and the pouring out of the wine. 
" He did not lay upon His disciples any injunction to continue 
the celebration of a feast of this kind until the time of His return, 
because He thought of His resurrection and His heavenly glory as 
about to take place after three days. But when His return was 


delayed the early Christians attached these sayings of His about 
the bread and wine to their Essene love-feast, and explained this 
common meal of the community as a commemoration of the Last 
Supper of Jesus and His disciples, a memorial Feast in honour of 
their Saviour, the celebration of which must be continued until 
His coming." 

When the armed band came to arrest Him, Jesus surrendered 
to His fate. Pilate almost set Him free, holding Him to be a 
mere enthusiast who placed His hopes only in the Divine inter- 
vention. Joseph of Arimathea, however, succeeded in averting 
this danger. " Even on the cross Jesus seems to have continued 
to hope for the Divine intervention, as is evidenced by the cry, 
' My God ! My God ! why hast thou forsaken me ? ' " Joseph of 
Arimathea provided for His burial. 

The belief in His resurrection rests upon the visions of the 
disciples, which are to be explained by their intense desire for the 
Parousia, of which He had given them the promise. After setting 
their affairs in order in Galilee they returned at the Feast of 
Pentecost to Jerusalem, which they had left in alarm, in order 
there to await the Parousia in company with other Galilaean 

The confession of faith of the primitive Christian community 
was the simplest conceivable : Jesus the Messiah had come, not 
as a temporal conqueror, but as the Son of Man foretold by Daniel, 
and had died for the sins of the people. In other respects they 
were strict Jews, kept the Law, and were constantly in the Temple. 
Only the community of goods and the brotherhood-meal are of 
an Essene character. 

" The Christianity of the original community in Jerusalem was 
thus a mixture of Zealotism and Mysticism which did not include 
any wholly new element, and even in its conception of the 
Messiah had nothing peculiar to itself except the belief that the 
Son of Man predicted by Daniel had already come in the person 
of Jesus of Nazareth . . . that He was now enthroned at the 
right hand of God, and would again appear as the expected Son 
of Man upon the clouds of heaven according to Daniel's prophecy." 
Jesus, therefore, had triumphed over the mystical party who desired 
to make use of Him in the character of Messiah the son of Joseph 
their Messiah, the heavenly Son of Man, had not come. Jesus, 
in virtue of what He had done, had taken His place both in heaven 
and in earth. 

How much of Venturini's plan is here retained ? Only the 
" mystical part " which serves the purpose of setting the action 
of the drama in motion. All the rest of it, the rationalistic part, 
has been transmuted into an historical conception. Miracle and 
trickery, along with the stage-play resurrection, have been purged 


away in the fires of Strauss's criticism. There remains only a 
fundamental conception which has a certain greatness a brother- 
hood which looks for the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven 
appoints one of its members to undergo as Messiah an atoning 
death, that the coming of the Kingdom, for which the time is 
at hand, may not be delayed. This brotherhood is the only 
fictitious element in the whole construction much as in the 
primitive steam-engine the valves were still worked by hand while 
the rest of the machinery was actuated by its own motive -power. 
So in this Life of Jesus the motive-power is drawn entirely from 
historical sources, and the want of an automatic starting arrange- 
ment is a mere anachronism. Strike out the superfluous role of 
Joseph of Arimathea, and the distinction of the two Messiahs, 
which is not clear even in the Rabbis, and substitute the simple 
hypothesis that Jesus, in the course of His Messianic vocation, 
when He thinks the time for the coming of the Kingdom has 
arrived, goes freely to Jerusalem, and, as it were, compels the 
secular power to put Him to death, in order by this act of atone- 
ment to win for the world the immediate coming of the Kingdom, 
and for Himself the glory of the Son of Man make these changes, 
and you have a life of Jesus in which the motive-power is a purely 
historical force. It is impossible to indicate briefly all the parts 
of which the seemingly complicated, but in reality impressively 
simple, mechanism of this Life of Jesus is composed. The conduct 
of Jesus, alike in its resolution and in its hesitation, becomes clear, 
and not less so that of the disciples, All far-fetched historical 
ingenuity is dispensed with. Jesus acts "because His hour is 
come." This decisive placing of the Life of Jesus in the "last 
time " (cf. i Peter i. 20 <ai/e/xo#evTOS 8e ITT (r\a,T(ov TWV \p6vuv ^ 
v/x,as) is an historical achievement without parallel. Not less so 
is the placing of the thought of the passion in its proper eschato- 
logical setting as an act of atonement. Where had the character 
and origin of the primitive community ever been brought into 
such clear connexion with the death of Jesus ? Who had ever 
before so earnestly considered the problem why the Christian com- 
munity arose in Jerusalem and not in Galilee? "But the solution 
is too simple, and, moreover, is not founded on a severely scientific 
chain of reasoning, but on historical intuition and experiment, the 
simple experiment of introducing the Life of Jesus into the Jewish 
eschatological world of thought " so the theologians replied, or 
so, at least, they might have replied if they had taken this curious 
work seriously, if, indeed, they had read it at all. But how were 
they to suspect that in a book which seemed to aim at founding a 
new Deistic Church, and which went out with the Wolfenbiittel 
Fragmentist into the desert of the most barren natural religion, a 
valuable historical conception might be found ? It is true that 


no one suspected at that time that in the forgotten work of 
Reimarus there lay a dangerous historical discovery, a kind of 
explosive material such as can only be collected by those who 
stand free from every responsibility towards historical Christianity, 
who have abandoned every prejudice, in the good sense as well 
as in the bad and whose one desire in regard to the Gospel 
history is to be "spirits that constantly deny." 1 Such thinkers, if 
they have historical gifts, destroy artificial history in the cause of 
true history and, willing evil, do good if it be admitted that the 
discovery of truth is good. If this negative work is a good thing, 
the author of the " Letters to the German People " performed a dis- 
tinguished service, for his negation is radical. The new Church 
which was to be founded on this historic overcoming of historic 
Christianity was to combine "only what was according to reason 
in Judaism and Christianity." From Judaism it was to take the 
belief in one sole, spiritual, perfect God; from Christianity the 
requirement of brotherly love to all men. On the other hand, it 
was to eliminate what was contrary to reason in each : from 
Judaism the ritual system and the sacrifices ; from Christianity 
the deification of Jesus and the teaching of redemption through 
His blood. How comes so completely unhistorical a temperament 
to be combined with so historical an intellect ? His Jesus, after 
all, has no individuality ; He is a mere eschatological machine. 

In accordance with the confession of faith of the new Church of 
which Ghillany dreamed, the calendar of the Feasts is to be 
transformed as follows : 

1. Feast of the Deity, the first and second of January. 

2. Feast of the Dignity of Man and Brotherly Love, first and 

second of April. 

3. Feast of the Divine Blessing in Nature, first and second of 


4. Feast of Immortality, first and second of October. 

Apart from these eight Feast days, and the Sundays, all the 
other days of the year are working days. 

From the order of divine service we may note the following : 
" The sermon, which should begin with instruction and exhortation 
and close with consolation and encouragement, must not last longer 
than half an hour." 

The series of Lives of Jesus which combine criticism with fiction 
is closed by Noack's Story of Jesus. A freethinker like Ghillany, 
but lacking the financial independence which a kindly fate had 
conferred upon the latter, Noack led a life which may properly 
be described as a constant martyrdom, lightened only by his 
intense love of theological studies, which nevertheless were 
1 " Ich bin der Geist, der stets verneint. " Mephistopheles in Faust. 


responsible for all his troubles. Born in 1819, of a clerical family 
in Hesse, he became in 1842 Pastor's assistant and teacher of 
religion at Worms in the Hessian Palatinate. The Darmstadt 
reactionaries drove him out of this position in 1844 without his 
having given any ground of offence. In 1849 ne became 
" Repetent " in Philosophy at the University of Giessen at a 
salary of four hundred gulden. In 1855 he was promoted to 
be Professor Extraordinary without having his salary raised. In 
1870, at the age of 51, he was appointed assistant at the University 
Library and received at the same time the title of Ordinary 
Professor. He died in 1885. He was an extremely prolific 
writer, always ingenious, and possessed of wide knowledge, but he 
never did anything of real permanent value either in philosophy or 
theology. He was not without critical acumen, but there was too 
much of the poet in him ; a critical discovery was an incitement 
to an imaginative reconstruction of the history. In 1870-1871 
he published, after many preliminary studies, his chief work, " From 
the Jordan Uplands to Golgotha ; four books on the Gospel and 
the Gospels." 1 It passed unnoticed. Attributing its failure to the 
excitement aroused by the war, which ousted all other interests, he 
issued a revised edition in 1876 under the title "The History of 
Jesus, on the Basis of Free Historical Inquiry concerning the Gospel 
and the Gospels," 2 but with hardly greater success. 

And yet the fundamental critical ideas which can be detected 
beneath this narrative, in spite of its having the form of fiction, 
give this work a significance such as the contemporary Lives of 
Jesus which won the applause of theologians did not possess. It is 
the only Life of Jesus hitherto produced which is written consist- 
ently from the Johannine point of view from beginning to end. 
Strauss had not, after all, in Noack's opinion, conclusively 
shown the absolute incompatibility of the Synoptics with the 
Fourth Gospel; neither he nor any other critic had felt the full 
difficulty of the question why the Fourth Evangelist should be at 
pains to invent the numerous journeys to the Feasts, seeing 
that the development of the Logos Christology did not necessarily 
involve any alteration of the scene of the ministry ; on the contrary, 
it would, one might think, have been the first care of the 
Evangelist to inweave his novel theory with the familiar tradition 
in order to avoid discrediting his narrative in advance by his 
innovations. Noack's conclusion is that the inconsistency is not due 
to a single author; it is the result of a long process of redaction 
in which various divergent tendencies have been at work. But 
as the Fourth Gospel is not the logical terminus of the process of 

1 Aus der Jordanwiege nach Golgatha ; vier Bucher iiber das Evangelism und die 

2 Die Geschichte Jesu auf Grund freier geschichtlicher Untersuchungcn iiber das 
Evangelium und die Evangelien. 


alteration, the only alternative is to place it at the beginning. 
What we have to seek in it is the original Gospel from which the 
process of transforming the tradition started. 

There is also another line of argument based on the contradic- 
tions in the Gospel tradition which leads to the hypothesis that we 
have to do with redactions of the Gospels. Either Jesus was the 
Jewish Messiah of the Synoptics, or a Son of God in the Greek, 
spiritual sense, whose self - consciousness must be interpreted by 
means of the Logos doctrine: He cannot have been both at the 
same time. But it is inconceivable that a Jewish claimant of the 
Messiahship would have been left unmolested up to the last, and 
have had virtually to force the authorities to put him to death. 
On the other hand, if He were a simple enthusiast claiming to be a 
Son of God, a man who lived only for his own "self-consciousness," 
He might from the beginning have taken up this attitude without 
being in any way molested, except by the scorn of men. In this 
respect also, therefore, the primitive Gospel which we can recover 
from John has the advantage. It was only later that this " Son of 
God " became the Jewish Messiah. 

We arrive at the primitive Johannine writing when we cancel in 
the Fourth Gospel all Jewish doctrine and all miracles. 1 Its date 
is the year 60 and it was composed by Judas, the beloved disciple. 
This primitive Gospel received little modification and still shows 
clearly "the wonderful reality of its history." It aims only at 
giving a section of Jesus' history, a representation of His attitude 
of mind and spirit. With "simple ingenuousness " it gives, "along 
with the kernel of the historical material of the Gospel, Jesus' 
thoughts about His own Person in the mysterious oracular sayings 
and deeply thoughtful and moving discourses by which the Nazarene 
stirred rather than enlightened the world." Events of a striking 
character were, however, absent from it. The feeding of the multi- 
tude was represented in it as effected by natural means. It was a 
philanthropic feeding of a multitude which certainly did not number 
thousands, the numbers are a later insertion ; Jesus fed them with 
bread and fish which He purchased from a "sutler -lad." The 
healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda was the 
unmasking of a malingerer, whom the Lord exposed and ordered 
to depart. As He had bidden him carry his bed, and it was on the 
Sabbath, this brought Him into conflict with the authorities. His 
only " acts " were acts of self-revelation mystical sayings which He 
threw out to the people. " The problem which meets us in His 
history is in truth a psychological problem, how, namely, His 
exalted view of Himself came to be accepted as the purest and 
highest truth in His lifetime, it is true, only by a limited circle 
of disciples, but after His departure by a constantly growing 
1 For Noack's reconstruction of it see Book iii. pp. 196-225. 


multitude of believing followers." The gospel of the beloved 
disciple Judas made its way quietly into the world, understood by 
few, even as Jesus Himself had been understood by a few only. 

About ten years later, according to Noack, appeared the original 
form of Luke, which we can reconstruct from what is known of 
Marcion's Luke. 1 This Evangelist is under Pauline influence, and 
writes with an apologetic purpose. He desires to refute the calumny 
that Jesus was " possessed of a devil," and he does this by making 
Him cast out devils. It was in this way that miracle forced itself 
into the Gospel history. 

But this primitive Luke, as Noack reconstructs it by combining 
the statements of the Fathers regarding Marcion's Gospel, knows 
nothing of Jesus' journey to Jerusalem to die. This circumstance 
is of capital importance to Noack, because in the course of his 
attempt to bring the topography of the Fourth Gospel into harmony 
with that of the Synoptics he had arrived at the remarkable result 
that the Johannine Christ worked in Galilee, not in Judaea. On 
the basis of the Onomasticon of Eusebius which Noack, with 
the aid of topographical traditions derived from the Crusaders and 
statements of Mohammedan writers, interprets with a recklessness 
which is nothing short of criminal Cana and Bethany (Bethabara) 
were not in the latitude of Jerusalem, but " near the head-waters of 
the Jordan in the upper part of the Jordan valley before it flows 
into the lake of Huleh. There, in Coele-Syria, on the southern 
slope of Hermon, was the scene of John the Baptist's labours; 
there Jesus began His ministry; thither He returned to die." "It 
is in the Galilaean district which forms the scene of the Song of 
Solomon that the reader of this book must be prepared to find the 
Golgotha of the cross." That is the sentence with which Noack's 
account of the Life of Jesus opens. This alludes to an idea which 
had already been worked out in his " Studies on the Song of 
Solomon," 2 namely, that the mountain country surrounding the 
upper Jordan was the pre-exilic Judaea, and that the "city of 
David " was situated there. The Jews on their return from exile 
had at first endeavoured to rebuild that Coele-Syrian city of David 
with the ruins of Solomon's Temple, but had been driven away 
from it and had then taken the desperate resolution to build the 
temple of Zerubbabel upon the high plateau lying far to the south 
of ancient Israel. Ezra the Scribe interpolated the forgery on the 
ground of which this site began to be accepted as the former city 
of David. Under the Syrian oppression all remembrance of the 
ancient city of David entirely disappeared. 

This fantastic edifice, in the construction of which the wildest 

1 For the reconstruction see Book iii. pp. 326-386. 

2 Tharraqah und Sunamith. The Song of Solomon in its historical and topo- 
graphical setting. 1869. 


etymologies play a part, is founded on the just recognition that 
a reconciliation of John with the Synoptists can only be effected by 
transferring some of the Johannine localities to the North ; but 
this involves not only rinding Bethany, Arimathea and the other 
places, but even the scene of Jesus' death in this district. The 
brook Kedron conveniently becomes the " brook of Cedars." 

For fifty years the two earliest Evangelists, in spite of their 
poverty of incident, sufficed for the needs of the Christians. The 
" fire of Jesus " was fed chiefly by the Pauline Gospel. The 
original form of the Gospel of Luke accordingly became the 
starting-point of the next stage of development. Thus arose the 
Gospel of Mark. Mark was not a native of Palestine, but a man 
of Roman extraction living in Decapolis, who had not the slightest 
knowledge of the localities in which the life of Jesus was really 
passed. He undertook, about the year 130, "in the interest of 
the new Christian settlement at Jerusalem in Hadrian's time, 
deliberately and consciously to transform the original plan of the 
Gospel history and to represent the Lord as crucified at Jerusalem." 
The man who from the year 132 onward, as Mark the Bishop, 
preached the word of the Crucified to a Gentile Christian com- 
munity amid the ruins of the holy city, had previously, as Mark 
the Evangelist, taken care that a prophet should not perish out of 
Jerusalem. In composing his Gospel he made use, in addition 
to Luke, of a traditional source which he found in Decapolis. He 
deliberately omitted the frequent journeys to Jerusalem which were 
still found in the original Luke, and inserted instead Jesus' journey 
to His death. He it was, also, who made the Nazarite into the 
Nazarene, laying the scene of Jesus' youth in Nazareth. To the 
cures of demoniacs he added magical acts such as the feeding of 
the multitude and the resurrection. 

In Matthew, who appeared about 135, legend and fiction riot 
unchecked. In addition, Jewish parables and sayings are put into 
the mouth of Jesus, whereas He really had nothing to do with the 
Jewish world of ideas. For if anything is certain, it is that the 
moral maxims of the latest Gospel are of a distinctively Jewish 
origin. About the middle of the second century the originals of 
John and Luke underwent redaction. The redaction of the Logos 
Gospel was completed by the addition of the twenty-first chapter ; 
the last redaction of Luke was perhaps carried out by Justin 
Martyr, fresh from completing his " Dialogue with Trypho " ! Thus 
John and Luke are, in this final form, which is full of contradic- 
tions, the latest Gospels, and the saying is fulfilled about the first 
being last, and the last first. 

Arbitrary as these suggestions are, there is nevertheless some- 
thing impressive in the attempt to explain the remarkable in- 
consistencies which are found within the Gospel tradition by 


considerations relating to its origin and development. Despite all 
his far-fetched ideas, Noack really stands higher than some of his 
contemporaries who showed more prudence in their theological 
enterprises, and about that time were earning the applause of the 
faculty, and quieting the minds of the laity, by performing once 
more the old conjuring trick assisted by some new feats of leger- 
demain of harmonising John with the Synoptists in such a way 
as to produce a Life of Jesus which could be turned to the service 
of ecclesiastical theology. 

The outline of the public Life of Jesus, as reconstructed by 
Noack, is as follows. It lasted from early in the year 35 to the 
1 4th Nisan of the year 37, and began in the moment when Jesus 
revealed His consciousness of what He was. We do not know 
how long previously He had cherished it in secret. It is certain 
that the Baptist helped to bring about this revelation. This is the 
only part which he plays in the Gospel of John. He was neither 
a preacher of repentance, nor an Elias, nor the forerunner of 
Jesus, nor a mere signpost pointing to the Messiah, such as the 
secondary tradition makes him out to be. 

Similarly everything that is Messianic in the consciousness of 
Jesus is secondary. The lines of His thought were guided by the 
Greek ideas about sons of God, for the soil of northern Galilee 
was saturated with these ideas. Other sources which contributed 
something were the personification of the Divine Wisdom in the 
"Wisdom Literature" and some of Philo's doctrines. Jesus 
became the son of God in an ecstatic trance ! Had not Philo 
recognised ecstasy as the last and highest means of rising to union 
with the Divine? 

Jesus' temperament, according to Noack, was pre-disposed to 
ecstasy, since He was born out of wedlock. One who had this 
burden upon His spirit may well have early taken refuge in His 
own thoughts, above the clouds, in the presence of the God of 
His fathers. Assailed in a thousand ways by the cruelty of the 
world, it would seem to Him as though His Heavenly Father, 
though unseen, was stretching out to Him the arms of conso- 
lation. Imagination, which ever mercifully lightens for men the 
yoke of misery, charmed the fatherless child out of His earthly 
sufferings and put into His hand a coloured glass through which 
He saw the world and life in a false light. Ecstatic enthusiasm 
had carried Him up to the dizzy height of spiritual union with the 
Father in Heaven. A hundred times He was cast down out of 
His dreams into the hard world of reality, to experience once 
more His earthly distresses, but ever anew he won His way by 
fasting, vigil, and prayer to the starry heaven of ecstasy. 

"Jesus," Noack explains, "had in thought projected Himself 
beyond His earthly nativity and risen to the conception that His 



ego had been in existence before this earthly body in which He 
stood visibly upon the stage of the world. He felt that His ego 
had had being and life before He became incarnate upon earth. 
. . . This new conception of Himself, born of His solitary musings, 
was incorporated into the very substance of His natural personal 
ego. A new ego had superseded the old natural, corporeally con- 
ditioned ego." 

Ambition, too, came into play the high ambition to do God 
a service by the offering up of Himself. The passion of self- 
sacrifice is characteristic of a consciousness such as this. Accord- 
ing to the document which underlies the Johannine Gospel it was 
not in consequence of outward events that Jesus took His resolve 
to die. " It was the later Gospel tradition which exhibited His fate 
as an inevitable consequence of His conflict with a world impervious 
to spiritual impression." In the original Gospel that fate was 
freely embraced from the outset as belonging to the vocation of 
the Son of God. Only by the constant presence of the thought 
of death could a life which for two years walked the razor edge of 
such dizzy dreams have been preserved from falling. The con- 
viction, or perhaps rather the instinctive feeling, that the role of 
a Son of God upon earth was not one to be maintained for decades 
was the necessary counterpoise to the enthusiasm of Jesus' spirit. 
From the first He was as much at home with the thought of death 
as with His Heavenly Father. 

This Son of Man according to Noack's interpretation the 
title is equivalent to Son of Hope requires of the multitude that 
they shall take His lofty dream for solid reality. " He revealed His 
message from heaven to the world at the Paschal Feast of the 
year 35, by throwing out a challenge to the Sadducaean hierarchy 
in Jerusalem." In the time between John's removal from the 
scene and John's death, there falls the visit of Jesus to Samaria 
and a sojourn in the neighbourhood of His Galilaean home. At 
the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem in the autumn of that year, 
the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda led to a 
breach with the Sabbatic regulations of the Pharisees. Later on, 
in consequence of His generous feeding of the multitude in the 
Gaulonite table-land, there is an attempt to make Him into a 
Messianic King ; which He, however, repudiates. At the time of 
the Passover in Galilee in the year 36, in the synagogue at 
Capernaum, He tests the spiritual insight of those who may, He 
hopes, be ripe for the higher teaching concerning the Son of God 
made flesh, by the touchstone of His mystical words about the 
bread of life. At the next Feast of Tabernacles, in the city of 
Zion, He makes a last desperate attempt to move men's hearts 
by the parable of the Good Shepherd who is ready to lay down 
His life for His sheep, the people of Israel. 


But His adversaries are remorseless ; they wound Him to the 
very depths of His spirit by bringing to Him the woman taken 
in adultery, and asking Him what they are to do with her. When 
this question was sprung upon Him, He saw in a moment the 
public humiliation designed by His adversaries. All eyes were 
turned upon Him, and for a few moments the embarrassment of 
One who was usually so self-possessed was patent to all. He 
stooped as though He desired to write with His finger upon the 
ground. Was it shame at His dishonourable birth that compelled 
Him thus to lower His gaze ? But the painful silence of expecta- 
tion among the spectators did not last long. His adversaries 
repeated their question, He raised His head and spoke the 
undying words : " Let him that is without sin among you cast the 
first stone at her." 

Incensed by His constant references to His heavenly Sonship, 
they endeavour at last to stone Him. He flees from the Temple 
and takes refuge in the Jordan uplands. His purpose is, at the 
next Passover, that of the year 37, here in the mountains which 
were blessed as Joseph's portion, to offer His atoning death as 
that of the true paschal lamb, and with this act to quit the stage 
of the world's history. He remained in hiding in order to avoid 
the risk of assassination by the emissaries of the Pharisees. In 
Bethany He receives the mysterious visit of the Greeks, who 
doubtless desired to tempt Him to raise the standard of revolt as 
a claimant of the Messiahship, but He refuses to be shaken in His 
determination to die. The washing of the disciples' feet signifies 
their baptism with water, that they might thereafter receive the 
baptism of the Holy Spirit. 

Judas, the disciple whom Jesus loved, who was a man of much 
resource, helped Him to avoid being arrested as a disturber of 
the peace by arranging that the " betrayal " should take place on 
the evening before the Passover, in order that Jesus might die, as 
He desired, on the day of the Passover. For this service of love 
he was, in the secondary tradition, torn from the bosom of the 
Lord and branded as a traitor. 



Ernest Renan. La Vie de Je~sus. 1863. Paris, Michel Le>y Freres. 462 pp. 
E. de Pressense. Je"sus-Christ, son temps, sa vie, sonoeuvre. Paris, 1865. 684 pp. 

ERNEST RENAN was born in 1823 at Treguier in Brittany. 
Intended for the priesthood, he entered the seminary of St. Sulpice 
in Paris, but there, in consequence of reading the German critical 
theology, he began to doubt the truth of Christianity and of its 
history. In October 1845, shortly before the time arrived for him 
to be ordained a sub-deacon, he left the seminary and began to 
work for his living as a private teacher. In 1849 he received a 
government grant to enable him to make a journey to Italy for the 
prosecution of his studies, the fruits of which appeared in his 
Averroh et FAverro'isme (Paris, 1852); in 1856 he was made a 
member of the Academic des Inscriptions; in 1860 he received 
from Napoleon III. the means to make a journey to Phoenicia and 
Syria. After his return in 1862 he obtained the professorship of 
Semitic Languages at the College de France. But the wide- 
spread indignation aroused by his Life of Jesus, which appeared in 
the following year, forced the Government to remove him from his 
office. He refused a post as Librarian of the Imperial Library, and 
lived in retirement until the Republic of 1871 restored him to his 
professorship. In politics, as in religion, his position was some- 
what indefinite. In religion he was no longer a Catholic ; avowed 
free-thought was too plebeian for his taste, and in Protestantism 
the multiplicity of sects repelled him. Similarly in politics, in the 
period immediately following the fall of the Empire, he was in turn 
Royalist, Republican, and Bonapartist. At bottom he was a 
sceptic. He died in 1892, already half-forgotten by the public; 
until his imposing funeral and interment in the Pantheon recalled 
him to its memory. 

Like Strauss, Renan designed his Life of Jesus to form part of 
a complete account of the history and dogma of the early Church. 
His purpose, however, was purely historical ; it was no part of his 



project to set up, on the basis of the history, a new system of 
dogma, as Strauss had desired to do. This plan was not only 
conceived, but carried out. Les Apotres appeared in 1866; 
St. Paul in 1869 ; L? Ante-Christ in 1873 ; Les Evangiles in 1877 ; 
L'tiglise chretienne in 1879 ; Marc-Aurele et la fin du monde 
antique in 1881. Several of these works were more valuable than 
the one which opened the series, but for the world Renan continued 
to be the author of the Vie de Jesus, and of that alone. 

He planned the work at Gaza, and he dedicated it to his 
sister Henriette, who died soon after, in Syria, and lies buried at 

This was the first Life of Jesus for the Catholic world, which 
had scarcely been touched the Latin peoples least of all by the 
two and a half generations of critical study which had been devoted 
to the subject. It is true, Strauss's work had been translated into 
French, 1 but it had made only a passing stir, and that only among 
a little circle of intellectuals. Now came a writer with the 
characteristic French mental accent, who gave to the Latin world in 
a single book the result of the whole process of German criticism. 

But Renan's work marked an epoch, not for the Catholic world 
only, but for general literature. He laid the problem which had 
hitherto occupied only theologians before the whole cultured world. 
And not as a problem, but as a question of which he, by means of 
his historical science and aesthetic power of reviving the past, could 
provide a solution. He offered his readers a Jesus who was alive, 
whom he, with his artistic imagination, had met under the blue 
heaven of Galilee, and whose lineaments his inspired pencil had 
seized. Men's attention was arrested, and they thought to see Jesus, 
because Renan had the skill to make them see blue skies, seas of 
waving corn, distant mountains, gleaming lilies, in a landscape 
with the Lake of Gennesareth for its centre, and to hear with him 
in the whispering of the reeds the eternal melody of the Sermon 
on the Mount. 

Yet the aesthetic feeling for nature which gave birth to this 
Life of Jesus was, it must be confessed, neither pure nor profound. 
It is a standing enigma why French art, which in painting grasps 
nature with a directness and vigour, with an objectivity in the best 
sense of the word, such as is scarcely to be found in the art of any 
other nation, has in poetry treated it in a fashion which scarcely 
ever goes beyond the lyrical and sentimental, the artificial, the 
subjective, in the worst sense of the word. Renan is no exception 
to this rule, any more than Lamartine or Pierre Loti. He looks at 
the landscape with the eye of a decorative painter seeking a motif for 
a lyrical composition upon which he is engaged. But that was not 
noticed by the many, because they, after all, were accustomed to have 

1 La Vie de J&us de D. Fr. Strauss. Traduite par M. Littr, 1840. 

1 82 REN AN 

nature dressed up for them, and had had their taste so corrupted 
by a certain kind of lyricism that they had lost the power of 
distinguishing between truth and artificiality. Even those who 
might have noticed it were so astonished and delighted at being 
shown Jesus in the Galilaean landscape that they were content to 
yield to the enchantment. 

Along with this artificial feeling for nature a good many other 
things were accepted without question. There is scarcely any other 
work on the subject which so abounds in lapses of taste and those 
of the most distressing kind as Kenan's Vie de Jesus. It is 
Christian art in the worst sense of the term the art of the wax 
image. The gentle Jesus, the beautiful Mary, the fair Galilaean s 
who formed the retinue of the "amiable carpenter," might have been 
taken over in a body from the shop-window of an ecclesiastical art 
emporium in the Place St. Sulpice. Nevertheless, there is some- 
thing magical about the work. It offends and yet it attracts. It 
will never be quite forgotten, nor is it ever likely to be surpassed in 
its own line, for nature is not prodigal of masters of style, and rarely 
is a book so directly born of enthusiasm as that which Renan 
planned among the Galilaean hills. 

The essay on the sources of the Life of Jesus with which it 
opens is itself a literary masterpiece. With a kind of effortless ease 
he makes his readers acquainted with the criticism of Strauss, of 
Baur, of Reuss, of Colani. He does not argue, but simply sets the 
result vividly before the reader, who finds himself at once at home 
in the new world of ideas. He avoids any hard or glaring effects ; 
by means of that skilful transition from point to point which 
Wagner in one of his letters praises as the highest art, everything 
is surrounded with atmosphere. But how much trickery and 
illusion there is in this art ! In a few strokes he indicates the 
relation of John to the Synoptists ; the dilemma is made clear, it 
seems as if one hom or the other must be chosen. Then he begins 
by artful touches to soften down the contrast. The discourses of 
John are not authentic ; the historical Jesus cannot have spoken 
thus. But what about the statements of fact ? Here Renan declares 
himself convinced by the graphic presentment of the passion story. 
Touches like "it was night," "they had lighted a fire of coals," 
" the coat was without seam," cannot have been invented. There- 
fore the Gospel must in some way go back to the disciple whom 
Jesus loved. It is possible, nay certain, that when as an old man 
he read the other Gospels, he was displeased by certain inaccuracies, 
and perhaps vexed that he was given so small a place in the 
history. He began to dictate a number of things which he had 
better means of knowing than the others ; partly, too, with the 
purpose of showing that in many cases where Peter only had been 
mentioned he also had played a part, and indeed the principal part. 


Sometimes his recollection was quite fresh, sometimes it had been 
modified by time. When he wrote down the discourses, he had 
forgotten the Lake of Gennesareth and the winsome words which 
he had listened to upon its shores. He was now living in quite a 
different world. The events of the year 70 destroyed his hopes 
of the return of his Master. His Jewish prejudices fell away, 
and as he was still young, he adapted himself to the syncretistic, 
philosophic, gnostic environment amid which he found himself in 
Ephesus. Thus even Jesus' world of thought took on a new shape 
for him ; although the discourses are perhaps rather to be referred 
to his school than to himself. But, when all is said, John remains 
the best biographer. Or, to put it more accurately, while all the 
Gospels are biographies, they are legendary biographies, even 
though they come down from the first century. Their texts need 
interpretation, and the clue to the interpretation can be supplied 
by aesthetic feeling. They must be subjected to a gentle pressure 
to bring them together, and make them coalesce into a unity in 
which all the data are happily combined. 

How this is to be done Renan shows later in his description of 
the death of Jesus. "Suddenly," he says, "Jesus gave a terrible 
cry in which some thought they heard 'Father, into thy hands I 
commend my spirit,' but which others, whose thoughts were running 
on the fulfilment of prophecy, reported as ' It is finished.' " 

The authentic sayings of Jesus are more or less self-evidencing. 
Coming in contact with one of them amid the welter of heterogeneous 
traditions, you feel a thrill of recognition. They leap forth and 
take their proper place, where their vivid power becomes apparent. 
For one who writes the life of Jesus on His native soil, the Gospels 
are not so much sources of information as incentives to revelation. 
"I had," Renan avows, "a fifth Gospel before my eyes, mutilated 
in parts, but still legible, and taking it for my guide I saw behind 
the narratives of Matthew and Mark, instead of an ideal Being of 
whom it might be maintained that He had never existed, a glorious 
human countenance full of life and movement." It is this Jesus of 
the fifth Gospel that he desires to portray. 

In looking at the picture, the reader must not allow the vexed 
question of miracle to distract him and disturb the proper frame 
of mind. The author refuses to assert either the possibility or the 
impossibility of miracle, but speaks only as an historian. " We do 
not say miracle is impossible, we say only that there has never been 
a satisfactorily authenticated miracle." 

In view of the method of treatment adopted by Renan there 
can, of course, be no question of an historical plan. He brings in 
each saying at the point where it seems most appropriate. None 
of them is passed over, but none of them appears in its historical 
setting. He shifts individual incidents hither and thither in the 

1 84 RENAN 

most arbitrary fashion. For example, the coming of Jesus' mother 
to seek Him (in the belief that He is beside Himself) must belong 
to the later part of Jesus' life, since it is out of tone with the happy 
innocence of the earlier period. Certain scenes are transposed 
from the later period to the earlier, because they are not gloomy 
enough for the later time. Others again are made the basis of an 
unwarranted generalisation. It is not enough that Jesus once rode 
upon an ass while the disciples in the intoxication of joy cast their 
garments in the way; according to Renan, He constantly rode 
about, even in Galilee, upon a mule, " that favourite riding-animal 
of the East, which is so docile and sure-footed and whose great 
dark eyes, shaded by long lashes, are full of gentleness." Some- 
times the disciples surrounded Him with rustic pomp, using their 
garments by way of carpeting. They laid them upon the mule 
which carried Him, or spread them before Him on the way. 

Scenes of little significance are sometimes elaborately de- 
scribed by Renan while more important ones are barely touched 
on. "One day, indeed," he remarks in describing the first visit to 
Jerusalem, "anger seems to have, as the saying goes, overmastered 
Him ; He struck some of the miserable chafferers with the scourge, 
and overthrew their tables." Such is the incidental fashion in 
which the cleansing of the temple was brought in. In this way it 
is possible to smuggle in a miracle without giving any further 
explanation of it. The miracle at Cana is brought, by means of 
the following unobtrusive turn of phrase, into the account of the 
period of success in Galilee. " One of His miracles was done by 
Jesus for the sole purpose of increasing the happiness of a wedding- 
party in a little country town." 

This Life of Jesus is introduced by a kind of prelude. Jesus 
had been living in Galilee before He came to the Baptist ; when 
He heard of the latter's success He went to him with His little 
company of followers. They were both young, and Jesus became 
the imitator of the Baptist. Fortunately the latter soon disappeared 
from the scene, for his influence on Jesus was in some respects 
injurious. The Galilaean teacher was on the verge of losing the 
sunny religion which He had learned from His only teacher, the 
glorious natural scenery which surrounded His home, and of 
becoming a gloomy Jewish fanatic. But this influence fell away 
from Him again ; when He returned to Galilee He became Himself 
once more. The only thing which He had gained from John was 
some knowledge of the art of preaching. He had learned from 
him how to influence masses of men. From that time forward 
He preached with much more power and gained greater ascendancy 
over the people. 

With the return to Galilee begins the first act of the piece. 
The story of the rise of Christianity is a pastoral play. Bauer, in 


his " Philo, Strauss, and Renan," writes with biting sarcasm : 
" Renan, who is at once the author of the play, the stage-manager, 
and the director of the theatre, gives the signal to begin, and at a 
sign from him the electric lights are put on full power, the Bengal 
fires flare up, the footlights are turned higher, and while the flutes 
and shawms of the orchestra strike up the overture, the people 
enter and take their places among the bushes and by the shore of 
the Lake." And how confiding they were, this gentle and peaceful 
company of Galilaean fisher folk ! And He, the young carpenter, 
conjured the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth for a year, by the 
spell of the infinite tenderness which radiated from Him. A 
company of men and women, all of the same youthful integrity and 
simple innocence, became His followers and constantly repeated 
" Thou art the Messiah." By the women He was more beloved 
than He Himself liked, but from His passion for the glory of His 
Father He was content to attract these "fair creatures" (belles 
creatures) and suffered them to serve Him, and God through Him. 
Three or four devoted Galilaean women constantly accompanied 
Him and strove with one another for the pleasure (le plaisir) of 
listening to His teaching and attending to His comfort. Some of 
them were wealthy and used their means to enable the " amiable " 
(charmant) prophet to live without needing to practise His handi- 
craft. The most devoted of all was Mary Magdalene, whose dis- 
ordered mind had been healed by the influence of the pure and 
gracious beauty (par la beaut e pure et douce] of the young Rabbi. 

Thus He rode, on His long-eyelashed gentle mule, from village 
to village, from town to town. The sweet theology of love (la 
delicieuse thtologie de Vamour) won Him all hearts. His preach- 
ing was gentle and mild (suave et douce\ full of nature and the 
fragrance of the country. Wherever He went the people kept festival. 
At marriages He was a welcome guest; to the feasts which He 
gave He invited women who were sinners, and publicans like the 
good Zacchaeus. 

" The Frenchman," remarks Noack, " takes the mummied figure 
of the Galilaean Rabbi, which criticism has exhumed, endows it 
with life and energy, and brings Him upon the stage, first amid the 
lustre of the earthly happiness which it was His pleasure to bestow, 
and then in the moving aspect of one doomed to suffer." 

When Jesus goes up to the Passover at the end of this first 
year, He comes into conflict with the Rabbis of the capital. The 
"winsome teacher, who offered forgiveness to all on the sole 
condition of loving Him," found in the capital people upon whom 
His charm had no effect. When He returned to Galilee He had 
entirely abandoned His Jewish beliefs, and a revolutionary ardour 
glowed in His heart. The second act begins. "The action 
becomes more serious and gloomy, and the pupil of Strauss turns 

1 86 REN AN 

down the footlights of his stage." 1 The erstwhile "winsome 
moralist " has become a transcendental revolutionary. Up to this 
point He had thought to bring about the triumph of the Kingdom 
of God by natural means, by teaching and influencing men. The 
Jewish eschatology stood vaguely in the background. Now it 
becomes prominent. The tension set up between His purely 
ethical ideas and these eschatological expectations gives His words 
from this time forward a special force. The period of joyous 
simplicity is past. 

Even the character of the hero loses its simplicity. In the 
furtherance of His cause He becomes a wonder-worker. It is true 
that even before He had sometimes practised innocent arts such as 
Joan of Arc made use of later. 2 He had, for instance, pretended 
to know the unspoken thoughts of one whom He desired to win, 
had reminded him, perhaps, of some experience of which he 
cherished the memory. He allowed the people to believe that He 
received knowledge of certain matters through a kind of revelation. 
Finally, it came to be whispered that He had spoken with Moses 
and Elias upon the mountains. But He now finds Himself 
compelled to adopt in earnest the role which He had formerly 
taken, as it were, in play. Against His will He is compelled to 
found His work upon miracle. He must face the alternative of 
either renouncing His mission or becoming a thaumaturge. He 
consented, therefore, to play an active part in many miracles. In 
this astute friends gave Him their aid. At Bethany something 
happened which could be regarded as a raising of the dead. 
Perhaps this miracle was arranged by Lazarus himself. When very 
ill he had allowed himself to be wrapped in the cerements of the 
dead and laid in the grave. His sisters sent for Jesus and brought 
Him to the tomb. He desired to look once more upon His friend, 
and when, overcome with grief, He cried his name aloud, 
Lazarus came forth from the grave. Why should the brother and 
sisters have hesitated to provide a miracle for the Master, in whose 
miracle-working power they, indeed, believed ? Where, then, was 
Kenan's allegiance to his "honoured master" Strauss, when he 
thus enrolled himself among the rationalists ? 

On these lines Jesus played His part for eighteen months, from 
the Easter of 31 to the Feast of Tabernacles of 32. How great is 
the change from the gentle teacher of the Sermon on the Mount ! 
His discourse takes on a certain hardness of tone. In the 
synagogue at Capernaum He drives many from Him, offended by 
the saying about eating and drinking His flesh and blood. The 
"extreme materialism of the expression," which in Him had always 
been the natural counterpoise to the "extreme idealism of the 

1 Bruno Bauer in Philo, Strauss, und Renan. 
2 Renan does not hesitate to apply this tasteless parallel. 


thought," becomes more and more pronounced. His "Kingdom 
of God " was indeed still essentially the kingdom of the poor, the 
kingdom of the soul, the great spiritual kingdom ; but He now 
preached it as the kingdom of the apocalyptic writings. And yet 
in the very moment when He seems to be staking everything upon 
a supernatural fulfilment of His hopes, He provides with remark- 
able prescience the basis of a permanent Church. He appoints 
the Twelve Apostles and institutes the fellowship-meal. It is 
certain, Renan thinks, that the " Supper " was not first instituted 
on that last evening ; even in the second Galilaean period He must 
have practised with His followers the mystic rite of the Breaking of 
Bread, which in some way symbolised His death. 

By the end of this period He had cast off all earthly ambitions. 
Nothing of earth existed for Him any more. A strange longing 
for persecution and martyrdom had taken possession of Him. 
It was not, however, the resolve to offer an atonement for the sins 
of His people which familiarised Him with the thought of death ; 
it was forced upon Him by the knowledge that He had entered 
upon a path in which it was impossible for Him to sustain His role 
for more than a few months, or perhaps even weeks. So He sets 
out for Jerusalem, outwardly a hero, inwardly half in despair 
because He has turned aside from His true path. The gentle, 
faithful, long-eyelashed mule bears Him, amid the acclamations of 
the multitude, through the gate of the capital. 

The third act begins : the stage is dark and becomes constantly 
darker, until at last, through the darkness of the scene, there is 
faintly visible only the figure of a woman of her who in her deep 
grief beside the grave was by her vision to call to life again Him 
whom she loved. There was darkness, too, in the souls of the 
disciples, and in that of the Master. The bitter jealousy between 
Judas and John made one of them a traitor. As for Jesus, He 
had His hour of gloom to fight through in Gethsemane. For a 
moment His human nature awakened in Him ; all that He thought 
He had slain and put behind Him for ever rose up and confronted 
Him as He knelt there upon the ground. "Did He remember 
the clear brooks of Galilee at which He might have slaked His 
thirst the vine and the fig-tree beneath which He might have 
rested the maidens who would perhaps have been willing to love 
Him ? Did He regret His too exalted nature ? Did He, a martyr 
to His own greatness, weep that He had not remained the simple 
carpenter of Nazareth ? We do not know ! " 

He is dead. Renan, as though he stood in Pere Lachaise, 
commissioned to pronounce the final allocution over a member 
of the Academy, apostrophises Him thus : " Rest now, amid 
Thy glory, noble pioneer. Thou conqueror of death, take the 
sceptre of Thy Kingdom, into which so many centuries of Thy 

1 88 REN AN 

worshippers shall follow Thee, by the highway which Thou hast 
opened up." 

The bell rings ; the curtain begins to fall ; the swing-seats tilt. 
The epilogue is scarcely heard: "Jesus will never have a rival. 
His religion will again and again renew itself; His story will call 
forth endless tears : His sufferings will soften the hearts of the 
best ; every successive century will proclaim that among the sons 
of men there hath not arisen a greater than Jesus." 

The book passed through eight editions in three months. The 
writings of those who opposed it had an equal vogue. That of 
Freppel had reached its twelfth edition in I864. 1 Their name was 
legion. Whatever wore a soutane and could wield a pen charged 
against Renan, the bishops leading the van. The tone of these 
attacks was not always very elevated, nor their logic very profound. 
In most cases the writers were only concerned to defend the Deity 
of Christ, 2 and the miracles, and are satisfied that they have done 
so when they have pointed out some of the glaring inconsistencies 
in Renan's work. Here and there, however, among these refuta- 
tions we catch the tone of a loftier ethical spirit which has 
recognised the fundamental weakness of the work, the lack of any 
definite ethical principles in the writer's outlook upon life. 3 There 
were some indeed who were not content with a refutation ; they 
would gladly have seen active measures taken against Renan. One 
of his most embittered adversaries, Amadee Nicolas, 4 reckons up 
in an appendix to his work the maximum penalties authorised by 
the existing enactments against free-thought, and would welcome 
the application of the law of the 25th of March 1822, according 
to which five years' imprisonment could be imposed for the crime 
of "insulting or making ridiculous a religion recognised by the 

Renan was defended by the Siecle, the Debats, at that time the 
leading French newspaper, and the Temps, in which Scherer 
published five articles upon the book. Even the Revue des deux 
mondes, which had formerly raised a warning voice against Strauss, 
allowed itself to go with the stream, and published in its August 

1 Charles Emile Freppel (Abbe 1 ), Professeur d'eloquence sacre"e a la Sorbonne. 
Examen critique de la vie de Jdsus de M. Renan. Paris, 1864. 148 pp. 

Henri Lasserre's pamphlet, L J&vangile selon Renan (The Gospel according to 
Renan), reached its four-and- twentieth edition in the course of the same year. 

2 Lettre pastorale de Monseigneur V Archcveque de Paris (Georges Darboy) sur la 
divinite" de J tens-Christ, et mandement pour le careme de 1864. 

3 See, for example, Felix Antoine Philibert Dupanloup, Bishop of Orleans, 
Avertissement a la jeunesse et aux peres de famille sur les attaques dirigtes centre la 
religion par quelques farivains denos jours. (Warning to the Young, and to Fathers 
of Families, concerning some Attacks directed against Religion by some Writers of our 
Time.) Paris, 1864. 141 pp. 

4 Amad6e Nicolas, Renan et sa vie de Jtsus sous les rapports moral, Ugal, et 
littdraire. Appel a la raison et la conscience du monde civilise". Paris-Marseille, 


number of 1863 a critical analysis by Havet l who hailed Renan's work 
as a great achievement, and criticised only the inconsistencies by 
which he had endeavoured to soften down the radical character of 
his undertaking. Later on the Revue changed its attitude and sided 
with Renan's opponents. In the Protestant camp there was an 
even keener sense of distaste than in the Catholic for the senti- 
mental gloss which Renan had spread over his work to make it 
attractive to the multitude by its iridescent colours. In four 
remarkable letters Athanase Coquerel the younger took the author to 
task for this. 2 From the standpoint of orthodox scholarship E. de 
Pressense' condemned him ; 3 and proceeded without loss of time 
to refute him in a large-scale Life of Jesus. 4 He was answered 
by Albert Reville, 5 who claims recognition for Renan's services to 

In general, however, the rising French school of critical theology 
was disappointed in Renan. Their spokesman was Colani. 
" This is not the Christ of history, the Christ of the Synoptics," he 
writes in 1864 in the Revue de thlologie, "but the Christ of the 
Fourth Gospel, though without His metaphysical halo, and painted 
over with a brush which has been dipped in the melancholy blue 
of modern poetry, in the rose of the eighteenth-century idyll, 
and in the grey of a moral philosophy which seems to be derived 
from La Rochefoucauld." " In expressing this opinion," he adds, " I 
believe I am speaking in the name of those who belong to what 
is known as the new Protestant theology, or the Strassburg school. 
We opened M. Renan's book with sympathetic interest ; we closed 
it with deep disappointment." 6 

The Strassburg school had good cause to complain of Renan, 
for he had trampled their growing crops. They had just begun to 
arouse some interest, and slowly and surely to exercise an influence 
upon the whole spiritual life of France. Sainte-Beuve had called 
attention to the work of Reuss, Colani, Rdville, and Scherer. 

1 Ernest Havet, Professeur au College de France, Jtsus dans I'histoire. Examen 
de la -vie de Jtsus par M. Renan. Extrait de la Revue des deux mondes. Paris, 
1863. 71 pp. 

2 Zwei franzosische Stimmen iiber Renans Leben-Jesu, -von Edmond Scherer und 
Athanase Coquerel, d.J. Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis des franzosischen Protestantis- 
mus. Regensburg, 1864. (Two French utterances in regard to Renan's Life of 
Jesus, by Edmond Scherer and Athanase Coquerel the younger. A contribution 
to the understanding of French Protestantism.) 

3 E. de Pressense", L ' Ecole critique et Jtsus-Christ, a propos de la vie de Jtsus d? 
M. Renan. 

4 E. de Pressense", Jdsus- Christ, son temps, sa vie, son ceuvre. Paris, 1865. 684 pp. 
In general the plan of this work follows Renan's. He divides the Life of Jesus into 
three periods : i. The Time of Public Favour ; ii. The Period of Conflict ; iii. The 
Great Week. Death and Victory. By way of introduction there is a long essay on 
the supernatural which sets forth the supernaturalistic views of the author. 

5 La Vie de Jtsus de Renan devant les orthodoxes et devant la critique. 1864. 

6 T. Colani, Pasteur, "Examen de la vie de Je"sus de M. Renan," Revue de 
thdologie. Issued separately, Strasbourg- Paris, 1864. 74 pp. 

90 REN AN 

Others of the school were Michel Nicolas of Montauban and 
Gustave d'Eichthal. Nefftzer, the editor of the Temps, who was 
at the same time a prophet of coming political events, defended 
their cause in the Parisian literary world. The Revue germanique 
of that period, the influence of which upon French literature can 
hardly be over-estimated, was their sworn ally. Then came Renan 
and threw public opinion into a ferment of excitement. Every- 
thing in the nature of criticism, and of progress in religious 
thought, was associated with his name, and was thereby discredited. 
By his untimely and over-easy popularisation of the ideas of the 
critical school he ruined their quiet work. The excitement roused 
by his book swept away all that had been done by those noble and 
lofty spirits, who now found themselves involved in a struggle with 
the outraged orthodoxy of Paris, and were hard put to it to defend 
themselves. Even down to the present day Renan's work forms the 
greatest hindrance to any serious advance in French religious thought. 
The excitement aroused upon the other side of the Rhine was 
scarcely less than in Paris. Within a year there appeared five 
different German translations, and many of the French criticisms 
of Renan were also translated. 1 The German Catholic press was 
wildly excited; 2 the Protestant press was more restrained, more 
inclined to give the author a fair hearing, and even ventured to 
express admiration of the historical merits of his performance. 
Beyschlag 3 saw in Renan an advance upon Strauss, inasmuch as 
for him the life of Jesus as narrated in the Gospels, while not, 
indeed, in any sense supernatural, is nevertheless historical. For 
a certain school of theology, therefore, Renan was a deliverer from 
Strauss; they were especially grateful to him for his defence, 
sophistical though it was, of the Fourth Gospel. Weizsacker 
expressed his admiration. Strauss, far from directing his " Life of 
Jesus for the German People," with which he was then occupied, 

1 Lasserre, Das Evangelium nach Renan. Munich, 1864. 

Freppel, Kritische Beleuchtung der E. Renan' schen Schrift. Translated by 
Kallmus. Vienna, 1864. 

See also Lamy, Professor of the Theological Faculty of the Catholic University 
of Louvain, Renans Leben-Jesu vor dem Richterstuhle der Kritik. (Renan's Life 
of Jesus before the Judgment Seat of Criticism. ) Translated by August Rohling, 
Priest. Munster, 1864. 

2 Dr. Michelis, Renans Roman vom Leben Jesu. Eine deutsche Antwort aiff eine 
franzosische Blasphemie. (Renan's Romance on the Life of Jesus. A German 

answer to a French blasphemy.) Munster, 1864. 

Dr. Sebastian Brunner, Der Atheist Renan und sein Evangelium. (The Atheist 
Renan and his Gospel. ) Regensburg, 1864. 

Albert Wiesinger, Aphorismen gegen Renans Leben-Jesu. Vienna, 1864. 

Dr. Martin Deutlinger, Renan rind das Wunder. (Renan and Miracle. A 
contribution to Christian Apologetic. ) Munich, 1864. 159 pp. 

Dr. Daniel Bonifacius Haneberg, Ernest Renans Leben-Jesu. Regensburg, 

3 Willibald Beyschlag, Doctor and Professor of Theology, Uber das Leben-Jesu 
von Renan. A Lecture delivered at Halle, January 13, 1864. Berlin. 


against the superficial and frivolous French treatment of the subject 
as has sometimes been alleged hailed Renan in his preface as 
a kindred spirit and ally, and " shook hands with him across the 
Rhine." Luthardt, 1 however, remained inexorable. "What is 
there lacking in Renan's work ? " he asks. And he replies, " It lacks 

That is a just judgment. From this lack of conscience, 
Renan has not been scrupulous where he ought to have been 
so. There is a kind of insincerity in the book from beginning 
to end. Renan professes to depict the Christ of the Fourth 
Gospel, though he does not believe in the authenticity or the 
miracles of that Gospel. He professes to write a scientific work, 
and is always thinking of the great public and how to interest 
it. He has thus fused together two works of disparate character. 
The historian finds it hard to forgive him for not going more 
deeply into the problem of the development in the thought of 
Jesus, with which he was brought face to face by the emphasis 
which he laid on eschatology, and for offering in place of a 
solution the highly-coloured phrases of the novelist. 

Nevertheless, this work will always retain a certain interest, 
both for Frenchmen and for Germans. The German is often 
so completely fascinated by it as to lose his power of criticism, 
because he finds in it German thought in a novel and piquant 
form. Conversely the Frenchman discovers in it, behind the 
familiar form, which is here handled in such a masterly fashion, 
ideas belonging to a world which is foreign to him, ideas which 
he can never completely assimilate, but which yet continually 
attract him. In this double character of the work lies its im- 
perishable charm. 

1 Chr. Ernst Luthardt, Doctor and Professor of Theology, Die modernen 
Darstellungen des Lebens Jesu. (Modern Presentations of the Life of Jesus.) A 
discussion of the writings of Strauss, Renan, and Schenkel, and of the essays of 
Coquerel the younger, Scherer, Colani, and Keim. A Lecture. Leipzig, 1864. 

Of the remaining Protestant polemics we may name : 

Dr. Hermann Gerlach, Gegen Renans Leben-Jesu 1864. Berlin. 

Br. Lehmann, Renan wider Renan. (Renan versus Renan.) A Lecture 
addressed to cultured Germans. Zwickau, 1864. 

Friedrich Baumer, Schwarz, Strauss, Renan. A Lecture. Leipzig, 1864. 

John Cairns, D. D. (of Berwick). Falsche Christi und der wahre Christus, oder 
Verteidigung der evangelischen Geschichte gegen Strauss und Renan. (False Christs 
and the True, a Defence of the Gospel History against Strauss and Renan. ) A 
Lecture delivered before the Bible Society. Translated from the English. Ham- 
burg, 1864. 

Bernhard ter Haar, Doctor of Theology and Professor at Utrecht, Zehn Vorlesungen 
uber Renans Leben-Jesu. (Ten Lectures on Renan's Life of Jesus. ) Translated by 
H. Doermer. Gotha, 1864. 

Paulus Cassel, Professor and Licentiate in Theology, Bericht iibtr Renans 
Leben-Jesu. (A Report upon Renan's Life of Jesus. ) 

J. J. van Oosterzee, Doctor and Professor of Theology at Utrecht, Geschichte oder 
Roman? Das Leben-Jesu von Renan vorldufig beleuchtet. (History or Fiction? 
A Preliminary Examination of Renan's Life of Jesus. ) Hamburg, 1864. 

192 REN AN 

And its weakness ? That it is written by one to whom the 
New Testament was to the last something foreign, who had not 
read it from his youth up in the mother-tongue, who was not 
accustomed to breathe freely in its simple and pure world, but 
must perfume it with sentimentality in order to feel himself at 
home in it. 


David Friedrich Strauss. Das Leben Jesu fiir das deutsche Volk bearbeitet. (A 
Life of Jesus for the German People.) Leipzig, 1864. 631 pp. 

Der Christus des Glaubens und der Jesus der Geschichte. Eine Kritik des Schleier- 
macher'schen Lebens Jesu. (The Christ of Faith and the Jesus of History, 
a Criticism of Schleiermacher's Life of Jesus.) Berlin, 1865. 223 pp. 
Appendix, pp. 224-240. 

Der Schenkel'sche Handel in Baden. (The Schenkel Affair in Baden.) A 
corrected reprint from No. 441 of the National- Zeitung, of the 2ist September 

Die Halben und die Ganzen. (The Half-way-ers and the Whole-way-ers. ) 1865. 

Daniel Schenkel. Das Charakterbild Jesu. (The Portrait of Jesus.) Wiesbaden, 
1864 (ed. i and 2). 405 pp. Fourth edition, with a preface opposing Strauss's 
" Der alte und der neue Glaube" (The Old Faith and the New), 1873. 

Karl Heinrich Weizsacker. Untersuchungen iiber die evangelische Geschichte, 
ihre Quellen und den Gang ihrer Entwicklung. (Studies in the Gospel History, 
its Sources and the Progress of its Development.) Gotha, 1864. 580 pp. 

Heinrich Julius Holtzmann. Die synoptischen Evangelien. Ihr Ursprung und 
geschichtlicher Charakter. (The Synoptic Gospels. Their Origin and Historical 
Character.) Leipzig, 1863. 514 pp. 

Theodor Keim. Die Geschichte Jesu von Nazara. (The History of Jesus of 
Nazara. ) 3 vols., Zurich; vol. i., 1867, 446 pp.; vol. ii. , 1871, 616 pp. ; vol. 
iii., 1872, 667 pp. 

Die Geschichte Jesu. Zurich, 1872. 398 pp. 

Karl Hase. Geschichte Jesu. Nach akademischen Vorlesungen. (The History of 
Jesus. Academic Lectures, revised. ) Leipzig, 1876. 612 pp. 

Willibald Beyschlag. Das Leben Jesu. First Part : Preliminary Investigations, 
1885, 450 pp. Second Part : Narrative, 1886, 495 pp. ; 2nd ed., 1887-1888. 

Bernhard Weiss. Das Leben Jesu. ist ed. , 2 vols., 1882 ; 2nd ed. , 1884. First 
vol., down to the Baptist's question, 556 pp. Second vol., 617 pp. 

" MY hope is," writes Strauss in concluding the preface of his new 
Life of Jesus, " that I have written a book as thoroughly well 
adapted for Germans as Renan's is for Frenchmen." He was 
mistaken ; in spite of its title the book was not a book for the 
people. It had nothing new to offer, and what it did offer was 
not in a form calculated to become popular. It is true Strauss, 
like Renan, was an artist, but he did not write, like an imaginative 
novelist, with a constant eye to effect. His art was unpretentious, 

i93 13 


even austere, appealing to the few, not to the many. The people 
demand a complete and vivid picture. Renan had given them 
a figure which was theatrical no doubt, but full of life and move- 
ment, and they had been grateful to him for it. Strauss could not 
do that. 

Even the arrangement of the work is thoroughly unfortunate. 
In the first part, which bears the title "The Life of Jesus," he 
attempts to combine into a harmonious portrait such of the 
historical data as have some claim to be considered historical ; in 
the second part he traces the " Origin and Growth of the Mythical 
History of Jesus." First, therefore, he tears down from the tree the 
ivy and the rich growth of creepers, laying bare the worn and 
corroded bark ; then he fastens the faded growths to the stem 
again, and describes the nature, origin, and characteristics of each 
distinct species. 

How vastly different, how much more full of life, had been the 
work of 1835 There Strauss had not divided the creepers from 
the stem. The straining strength which upheld this wealth of 
creepers was but vaguely suspected. Behind the billowy mists of 
legend we caught from time to time a momentary glimpse of the 
gigantic figure of Jesus, as though lit up by a lightning-flash. 
It was no complete and harmonious picture, but it was full of 
suggestions, rich in thoughts thrown out carelessly, rich in con- 
tradictions even, out of which the imagination could create a 
portrait of Jesus. It is just this wealth of suggestion that is 
lacking in the second picture. Strauss is trying now to give a 
definite portrait. In the inevitable process of harmonising and 
modelling to scale he is obliged to reject the finest thoughts of the 
previous work because they will not fit in exactly ; some of them 
are altered out of recognition, some are filed away. 

There is wanting, too, that perfect freshness as of the spring 
which is only found when thoughts have but newly come into 
flower. The writing is no longer spontaneous; one feels that 
Strauss is setting forth thoughts which have ripened with his mind 
and grown old with it, and now along with their definiteness of 
form have taken on a certain stiffness. There are now no hinted 
possibilites, full of promise, to dance gaily through the movement 
of his dialectic ; all is sober reason a thought too sober. Renan 
had one advantage over Strauss in that he wrote when the 
material was fresh to him one might almost say strange to him 
and was capable of calling up in him the response of vivid feeling. 

For a popular book, too, it lacks that living interplay of 
reflection with narration without which the ordinary reader fails 
to get a grip of the history. The first Life of Jesus had been rich 
in this respect, since it had been steeped in the Hegelian theory 
regarding the realisation of the Idea. In the meantime Strauss 


had seen the Hegelian philosophy fall from its high estate, and 
himself had found no way of reconciling history and idea, so that 
his present Life of Jesus was a mere objective presentment of the 
history. It was, therefore, not adapted to make any impression 
upon the popular mind. 

In reality it is merely an exposition, in more or less popular 
form, of the writer's estimate of what had been done in the study 
of the subject during the past thirty years, and shows what he 
had learnt and what he had failed to learn. 

As regards the Synoptic question he had learnt nothing. In 
his opinion the criticism of the Gospels has "run to seed." He treats 
with a pitying contempt both the earlier and the more recent 
defenders of the Marcan hypothesis. Weisse is a dilettante; 
Wilke had failed to make any impression on him ; Holtzmann's 
work was as yet unknown to him. But in the following year he 
discharged the vials of his wrath upon the man who had both 
strengthened the foundations and put on the coping-stone of the 
new hypothesis. "Our lions of St. Mark, older and younger," he 
says in the appendix to his criticism of Schleiermacher's Life of Jesus, 
" may roar as loud as they like, so long as there are six solid reasons 
against the priority of Mark to set against every one of their flimsy 
arguments in its favour and they themselves supply us with a store 
of counter-arguments in the shape of admissions of later editing and 
so forth. The whole theory appears to me a temporary aberration, 
like the * music of the future ' or the anti -vaccination movement ; 
and I seriously believe that it is the same order of mind which, in 
different circumstances, falls a victim to the one delusion or the 
other." But he must not be supposed, he says, to take the 
critical mole-hills thrown up by Holtzmann for veritable mountains. 

Against such opponents he does not scruple to seek aid from 
Schleiermacher, whose unbiased but decided opinion had ascribed 
a tertiary character to Mark. Even Gfrorer's view that Mark 
adapted his Gospel to the needs of the Church by leaving out 
everything which was open to objection in Matthew and Luke, is 
good enough to be brought to bear against the bat-eyed partisans of 
Mark. F. C. Baur is reproached for having given too much weight 
to the " tendency " theory in his criticism of the Gospels ; and also 
for having taken suggestions of Strauss's and worked them out, 
supposing that he was offering something new when he was really 
only amplifying. In the end he had only given a criticism of the 
Gospels, not of the Gospel history. 

But this irritation against his old teacher is immediately allayed 
when he comes to speak of the Fourth Gospel. Here the teacher 
has carried to a successful issue the campaign which the pupil had 
begun. Strauss feels compelled to "express his gratitude for the 
work done by the Tubingen school on the Johannine question." 


He himself had only been able to deal with the negative side of 
the question to show that the Fourth Gospel was not an historical 
source, but a theological invention ; they had dealt with it positively, 
and had assigned the document to its proper place in the evolution 
of Christian thought. There is only one point with which he 
quarrels. Baur had made the Fourth Gospel too completely 
spiritual, "whereas the fact is," says Strauss, "that it is the most 
material of all." It is true, Strauss explains, that the Evangelist 
starts out to interpret miracle and eschatology symbolically; but 
he halts half-way and falls back upon the miraculous, enhancing 
the professed fact in proportion as he makes it spiritually more 
significant. Beside the spiritual return of Jesus in the Paraclete 
he places His return in a material body, bearing the marks of the 
wounds; beside the inward present judgment, a future outward 
judgment; and the fact that he sees the one in the other, finds 
the one present and visible in the other, is just what constitutes the 
mystical character of his Gospel. This mysticism attracts the 
modern world. " The Johannine Christ, who in His descriptions 
of Himself seems to be always out-doing Himself, is the counter- 
part of the modern believer, who in order to remain a believer 
must continually out-do himself; the Johannine miracles which 
are always being interpreted spiritually, and at the same time 
raised to a higher pitch of the miraculous, which are counted 
and documented in every possible way, and yet must not be 
considered the true ground of faith, are at once miracles and 
no miracles. We must believe them, and yet can believe without 
them ; in short they exactly meet the taste of the present day, which 
delights to involve itself in contradictions and is too lethargic and 
wanting in courage for any clear insight or decided opinion on 
religious matters." 

Strictly speaking, however, the Strauss of the second Life of 
Jesus has no right to criticise the Fourth Gospel for sublimating the 
history, for he himself gives what is nothing else than a spiritual- 
isation of the Jesus of the Synoptics. And he does it in such an 
arbitrary fashion that one is compelled to ask how far he does it 
with a good conscience. A typical case is the exposition of Jesus' 
answer to the Baptist's message. " Is it possible," Jesus means, 
" that you fail to find in Me the miracles which you expect from 
the Messiah ? And yet I daily open the eyes of the spiritually 
blind and the ears of the spiritually deaf, make the lame walk erect 
and vigorous, and even give new life to those who are morally dead. 
Any one who understands how much greater these spiritual miracles 
are, will not be offended at the absence of bodily miracles ; only 
such an one can receive, and is worthy of, the salvation which I 
am bringing to mankind." 

Here the fundamental weakness of his method is clearly shown. 


The vaunted apparatus for the Evaporation of the mythical does 
not work quite satisfactorily. The ultimate product of this process 
was expected to be a Jesus who should be essential man; the 
actual product, however, is Jesus the historical man, a being whose 
looks and sayings are strange and unfamiliar. Strauss is too 
purely a critic, too little of the creative historian, to recognise this 
strange being. That Jesus really lived in a world of Jewish ideas 
and held Himself to be Messiah in the Jewish sense is for the 
writer of the Life of Jesus an impossibility. The deposit which 
resists the chemical process for the elimination of myth, he must 
therefore break up with the hammer. 

How different from the Strauss of 1 83 5 ! He had then recognised 
eschatology as the most important element in Jesus' world of 
thought, and in some incidental remarks had made striking applica- 
tions of it. He had, for example, proposed to regard the Last 
Supper not as the institution of a feast for coming generations, but 
as a Paschal meal, at which Jesus declared that He would next 
partake of the Paschal bread and Paschal wine along with His 
disciples in the heavenly kingdom. In the second Life of Jesus 
this view is given up ; Jesus did found a feast. " In order to give 
a living centre of unity to the society which it was His purpose to 
found, Jesus desired to institute this distribution of bread and wine 
as a feast to be constantly repeated." One might be reading 
Renan. This change of attitude is typical of much else. 

Strauss is not in the least disquieted by rinding himself at one 
with Schleiermacher in these attempts to spiritualise. On the 
contrary, he appeals to him. He shares, he says, Schleiermacher's 
conviction "that the unique self -consciousness of Jesus did not 
develop as a consequence of His conviction that He was the 
Messiah; on the contrary, it was a consequence of His self- 
consciousness that He arrived at the view that the Messianic 
prophecies could point to no one but Himself." The moment 
eschatology entered into the consciousness of Jesus it came in 
contact with a higher principle which over-mastered it and gradually 
dissolved it. " Had Jesus applied the Messianic idea to Himself 
before He had had a profound religious consciousness to which 
to relate it, doubtless it would have taken possession of Him so 
powerfully that He could never have escaped from its influence." 
We must suppose the ideality, the concentration upon that which 
was inward, the determination to separate religion, on the one 
hand, from politics, and on the other, from ritual, the serene 
consciousness of being able to attain to peace with God and with 
Himself by purely spiritual means all this we must suppose to 
have reached a certain ripeness, a certain security, in the mind of 
Jesus, before He permitted Himself to entertain the thought of His 
Messiahship, and this we may believe is the reason why He grasped 


it in so independent and individual a fashion. In this, therefore, 
Strauss has become the pupil of Weisse. 

Even in the Old Testament prophecies, he explains, we find 
two conceptions, a more ideal and a more practical. Jesus holds 
consistently to the first, He describes Himself as the Son of Man 
because this designation " contains the suggestion of humility and 
lowliness, of the human and natural." At Jerusalem, Jesus, in 
giving His interpretation of Psalm ex., "made merry over the 
Davidic descent of the Messiah." He desired " to be Messiah in 
the sense of a patient teacher exercising a quiet influence." As 
the opposition of the people grew more intense, He took up some 
of the features of Isaiah liii. into His conception of the Messiah. 

Of His resurrection, Jesus can only have spoken in a meta- 
phorical sense. It is hardly credible that one who was pure man 
could have arrogated to himself the position of judge of the world. 
Strauss would like best to ascribe all the eschatology to the distorting 
medium of early Christianity, but he does not venture to carry 
this through with logical consistency. He takes it as certain, 
however, that Jesus, even though it sometimes seems as if He did 
not expect the Kingdom to be realised in the present, but in a 
future, world-era, and to be brought about by God in a super- 
natural fashion, nevertheless sets about the establishment of the 
Kingdom by purely spiritual influence. 

With this end in view He leaves Galilee, when He judges the 
time to be ripe, in order to work on a larger scale. " In case of an 
unfavourable issue, He reckons on the influence which a martyr- 
death has never failed to exercise in giving momentum to a lofty 
idea." How far He had advanced, when He entered on the 
fateful journey to Jerusalem, in shaping His plan, and especially 
in organising the company of adherents who had gathered about 
Him, it is impossible to determine with any exactness. He 
permitted the triumphal entry because He did not desire to 
decline the role of the Messiah in every aspect of it. 

Owing to this arbitrary spiritualisation of the Synoptic Jesus, 
Strauss's picture is in essence much more unhistorical than Renan's. 
The latter had not needed to deny that Jesus had done miracles, 
and he had been able to suggest an explanation of how Jesus came 
in the end to fall back upon the eschatological system of ideas. 
But at what a price ! By portraying Jesus as at variance with 
Himself, a hero broken in spirit. This price is too high for 
Strauss. Arbitrary as his treatment of history is, he never loses 
the intuitive feeling that in Jesus' self-consciousness there is a 
unique absence of struggle ; that He does not bear the scars which 
are found in those natures which win their way to freedom and 
purity through strife and conflict, that in Him there is no trace of 
the hardness, harshness, and gloom which cleave to such natures 


throughout life, but that He " is manifestly a beautiful nature from 
the first." Thus, for all Strauss's awkward, arbitrary handling of 
the history he is greater than the rival 1 who could manufacture 
history with such skill. 

Nevertheless, from the point of view of theological science, 
this work marks a standstill. That was the net result of the thirty 
years of critical study of the life of Jesus for the man who had 
inaugurated it so impressively. This was the only fruit which 
followed those blossoms so full of promise of the first Life of Jesus. 

It is significant that in the same year there appeared Schleier- 
macher's lectures on the Life of Jesus, which had not seen the 
light for forty years, because, as Strauss himself remarked in his 
criticism of the resurrected work, it had neither anodyne nor 
dressing for the wounds which his first Life of Jesus had' made. 2 
The wounds, however, had cicatrised in the meantime. It is true 
Strauss is a just judge, and makes ample acknowledgment of the 
greatness of Schleiermacher's achievement. 3 He blames Schleier- 
macher for setting up his " presuppositions in regard to Christ " as 
an historical canon, and considering it a proof that a statement is 
unhistorical if it does not square with those presuppositions. But 
does not the purely human, but to a certain extent unhistorical, 
man, who is to be the ultimate product of the process of eliminating 
myth, serve Strauss as his " theoretic Christ " who determines the 
presentment of his historical Jesus ? Does he not share with 
Schleiermacher the erroneous, artificial, " double " construction of 
the consciousness of Jesus? And what about their views of 
Mark? What fundamental difference is there, when all is said, 
between Schleiermacher's de-rationalised Life of Jesus and Strauss's ? 
Certainly this second Life of Jesus would not have frightened 
Schleiermacher's away into hiding for thirty years. 

So Schleiermacher's Life of Jesus might now safely venture 

1 Strauss's second Life of Jesus appeared in French in 1864. 

2 " I can now say without incurring the reproach of self-glorification, and almost 
without needing to fear contradiction, that if my Life of Jesus had not appeared in 
the year after Schleiermacher's death, his would not have been withheld for so long. 
Up to that time it would have been hailed by the theological world as a deliverer ; 
but for the wounds which my work inflicted on the theology of the day, it had neither 
anodyne nor dressing ; nay, it displayed the author as in a measure responsible for 
the disaster, for the waters which he had admitted drop by drop were now, in defiance 
of his prudent reservations, pouring in like a flood." From the Introduction to The 
Christ of Faith and the Jesus of History, 1865. 

3 "Now that Schleiermacher's Life of Jesus at last lies before us in print, all 
parties can gather about it in heartfelt rejoicing. The appearance of a work by 
Schleiermacher is always an enrichment to literature. Any product of a mind like 
his cannot fail to shed light and life on the minds of others. And of works of this 
kind our theological literature has certainly in these days no superfluity. Where the 
living are for the most part as it were dead, it is meet that the dead should arise and 
bear witness. These lectures of Schleiermacher's, when compared with the work of 
his pupils, show clearly that the great theologian has let fall upon them only his 
mantle and not his spirit." Ibid. 


forth into the light. There was no reason why it should feel itself 
a stranger at this period, and it had no need to be ashamed of 
itself. Its rationalistic birth-marks were concealed by its brilliant 
dialectic. 1 And the only real advance in .the meantime was the 
general recognition that the Life of Jesus was not to be inter- 
preted on rationalistic, but on historical lines. All other, more 
definite, historical results had proved more or less illusory; there 
is no vitality in them. The works of Renan, Strauss, Schenkel, 
Weizsacker, and Keim are in essence only different ways of 
carrying out a single ground-plan. To read them one after 
another is to be simply appalled at the stereotyped uniformity 
of the world of thought in which they they"move. You feel that you 
have read exactly the same thing in the others, almost in identical 
phrases. To obtain the works of Schenkel and Weizsacker 
you only need to weaken down in Strauss the sharp discrimina- 
tion between John and the Synoptists so far as to allow of the 
Fourth Gospel being used to some extent as an historical source 
"in the higher sense," and to put the hypothesis of the priority 
of Mark in place of the Tubingen view adopted by Strauss. The 
latter is an external operation and does not essentially modify the 
view of the Life of Jesus, since by admitting the Johannine scheme 
the Marcan plan is again disturbed, and Strauss's arbitrary 
spiritualisation of the Synoptics comes to something not very 
different from the acceptance of that " in a higher sense historical 
Gospel " alongside of them. The whole discussion regarding the 
sources is only loosely connected with the process of arriving at 
the portrait of Jesus, since this portrait is fixed from the first, being 
determined by the mental atmosphere and religious horizon of the 
'sixties. They all portray the Jesus of liberal theology ; the only 
difference is that one is a little more conscientious in his colouring 
than another, and one perhaps has a little more taste than another, 
or is less concerned about the consequences. 

The desire to escape in some way from the alternative between 
the Synoptists and John was native to the Marcan hypothesis. 
Weisse had endeavoured to effect this by distinguishing between 
the sources in the Fourth Gospel. 2 Schenkel and Weizsacker are 

1 The lines of Schleiermacher's work were followed by Bunsen. His Life of Jesus 
forms vol. ix. of his Bibelwerk. (Edited by Holtzmann, 1865.) He accepts the 
Fourth Gospel as an historical source and treats the question of miracle as not yet 
settled. Christian Karl Josias von Bunsen, born in 1791 at Korbach in Waldeck, 
was Prussian ambassador at Rome, Berne, and London, and settled later in Heidel- 
berg. He was well read in theology and philology, and gradually came, in spite 
of his friendly relations with Friedrich Wilhelm IV. , to entertain more liberal views 
on religion. The issue of his Bibelwerk fur die Gemeinde was begun in 1858. He 
died in 1860. (Best known in England as the Chevalier Bunsen.) 

2 Ch. H. Weisse, Dieevangelische Geschichte, Leipzig, 1838. Die Evangelienfrage 
in ihrem gegenwdrtigen Stadium. (The Present Position of the Problem -of the 
Gospels. ) Leipzig, 1856. He regarded the discourses as historical, the narrative 
portions as of secondary origin. Alexander Schweizer, again, wished to distinguish 



more modest. They do "not feel the need of any clear literary 
view of the Fourth Gospel, of any critical discrimination between 
original and secondary elements in it ; they are content to use as 
historical whatever their instinct leads them to accept. " Apart 
from the fourth Gospel," says Schenkel, " we should miss in the 
pro'trait of the Redeemer the unfathomable depths and the 
inaccessible heights." "Jesus," to quote his aphorism, "was not 
always thus in reality, but He was so in truth." Since when have 
historians had the right to distinguish between reality and truth? 
That was one of the bad habits which the author of this character- 
isation of Jesus brought with him from his earlier dogmatic 

Weizsacker 1 expresses himself with more circumspection. " We 
possess," he says, "in the Fourth Gospel genuine apostolic 
reminiscences as much as in any part of the first three Gospels ; 
but between the facts on which the reminiscences are based and 
their reproduction in literary form there lies the development of 
their possessor into a great mystic, and the influence of a philosophy 
which here for the first time united itself in this way with the 
Gospel ; they need, therefore, to be critically examined ; and' the 
historical truth of this gospel, great as it is, must not be measured 
with a painful literality." 

One wonders why both these writers appeal to Holtzmann, 
seeing that they practically abandon the Marcan plan which he 
had worked out at the end of his very thorough examination of 
this Gospel. They do not accept as sufficient the controversy 
regarding the ceremonial regulations in Mark vii. which, with the 
rejection at Nazareth, constitute, in Holtzmann's view, the turning- 
point of the Galilaean ministry, but find the cause of the change of 
attitude on the part of the people rather in the Johannine discourse 
about eating and drinking the flesh and blood of the Son of Man. 
The section Mark x.-xv., which has a certain unity, they interpret 
in the light of the Johannine tradition, finding in it traces of a 
previous ministry of Jesus in Jerusalem and interweaving with it 
the Johannine story of the Passion. According to Schenkel the 
last visit to Jerusalem must have been of considerable duration. 
When confronted with John, the admission may be wrung from the 
Synoptists that Jesus did not travel straight through Jericho to the 
capital, but worked first for a considerable time in Judaea. Strauss 

a Jerusalem source and a Galilaean source, the latter being unreliable. Das 
Evangelium Johannis nach seinem inneren Werte und seiner Bedeutung fiir das Leben 
fesu, 1841. (The Gospel of John considered in Relation to its Intrinsic Value and its 
Importance as a Source for the Life of Jesus.) See p. 127 f. Renan takes the 
narrative portions as authentic and the discourses as secondary. 

1 Karl Heinrich Weizsacker was born in 1822 at Ohringen in Wiirtemberg. 
He qualified as Privat-Docent in 1847 and, after acting in the meantime as Court- 
Chaplain and Oberkonsistorialrat at Stuttgart, became in 1861 the successor of 
Baur at Tiibingen. He died in 1899. 


tartly observes that he cannot see what the author of the 
" characterisation " stood to gain by underwriting Holtzmann's 
Marcan hypothesis. 1 

Weizsacker is still bolder in making interpolations from the 
Johannine tradition. He places the cleansing of the Temple, in 
contradiction to Mark, in the early period of Jesus' ministry, on the 
ground that " it bears the character of a first appearance, a bold 
deed with which to open His career." He fails to observe, 
however, that if this act really took place at this point of time, the 
whole development of the life of Jesus which Holtzmann had so 
ingeniously traced in Mark, is at once thrown into confusion. In 
describing the last visit to Jerusalem, Weizsacker is not content to 
insert the Marcan stones into the Johannine cement ; he goes 
farther and expressly states that the great farewell discourses of 
Jesus to His disciples agree with the Synoptic discourses to the 
disciples spoken during the last days, however completely they of 
all others bear the peculiar stamp of the Johannine diction. 

Thus in the second period of the Marcan hypothesis the same 
spectacle meets us as in the earlier. The hypothesis has a literary 
existence, indeed it is carried by Holtzmann to such a degree of 
demonstration that it can no longer be called a mere hypothesis, 
but it does not succeed in winning an assured position in the 
critical study of the Life of Jesus. It is common-land not yet 
taken into cultivation. 

That is due in no small measure to the fact that Holtzmann 
did not work out the hypothesis from the historical side, but rather 
on literary lines, recalling Wilke as a kind of problem in Synoptic 
arithmetic and in his preface expresses dissent from the Tubingen 
school, who desired to leave no alternative between John on the 
one side and the Synoptics on the other, whereas he approves the 
attempt to evade the dilemma in some way or other, and thinks 
he can find in the didactic narrative of the Fourth Gospel the 
traces of a development of Jesus similar to that portrayed in the 
Synoptics, and has therefore no fundamental objection to the use 
of John alongside of the Synoptics. In taking up this position, 
however, he does not desire to be understood as meaning that " it 
would be to the interests of science to throw Synoptic and Johannine 
passages together indiscriminately and thus construct a life of 
Jesus out of them." " It would be much better first to reconstruct 
separately the Synoptic and Johannine pictures of Christ, composing 
each of its own distinctive material. It is only when this has been 
done that it is possible to make a fruitful comparison of the two." 
Exactly the same position had been taken up sixty-seven years 

1 The works of a Dutch writer named Strieker, Jesus von Nazareth (1868), and 
of the Englishman Sir Richard Hanson, The Jesus of History (1869), were based on 
Mark without any reference to John. 


before by Herder. In Holtzmann's case, however, the principle 
was stated with so many qualifications that the adherents of his view 
read into it the permission to combine, in a picture treated " in the 
grand style," Synoptic with Johannine passages. 

In addition to this, the plan which Holtzmann finally evolved 
out of Mark was much too fine-drawn to bear the weight of the 
remainder of the Synoptic material. He distinguishes seven stages 
in the Galilaean ministry, 1 of which the really decisive one is the 
sixth, in which Jesus leaves Galilee and goes northward, so that 
Schenkel and Weizsacker are justified in distinguishing practically 
only two great Galilaean periods, the first of which down to 
the controversy about ceremonial purity they distinguish as the 
period of success, the second down to the departure from Judaea 
as the period of decline. What attracted these writers to the 
Marcan hypothesis was not so much the authentification which it 
gave to the detail of Mark, though they were willing enough to 
accept that, but the way in which this Gospel lent itself to the 
a priori view of the course of the life of Jesus which they 
unconsciously brought with them. They appealed to Holtzmann 
because he showed such wonderful skill in extracting from the 
Marcan narrative the view which commended itself to the spirit of 
the age as manifested in the 'sixties. 

Holtzmann read into this Gospel that Jesus had endeavoured 
in Galilee to found the Kingdom of God in an ideal sense ; that 
He concealed His consciousness of being the Messiah, which was 
constantly growing more assured, until His followers should have 
attained by inner enlightenment to a higher view of the Kingdom 
of God and of the Messiah; that almost at the end of His 
Galilaean ministry He declared Himself to them as the Messiah 
at Caesarea Philippi ; that on the same occasion He at once began 
to picture to them a suffering Messiah, whose lineaments gradually 
became more and more distinct in His mind amid the growing 
opposition which He encountered, until finally, He communicated 
to His disciples His decision to put the Messianic cause to the 
test in the capital, and that they followed Him thither and saw 
how His fate fulfilled itself. It was this fundamental view which 
made the success of the hypothesis. Holtzmann, not less than his 
followers, believed that he had discovered it in the Gospel itself, 
although Strauss, the passionate opponent of the Marcan hypothesis, 
took essentially the same view of the development of Jesus' thought. 
But the way in which Holtzmann exhibited this characteristic 
view of the 'sixties as arising naturally out of the detail of 
Mark, was so perfect, so artistically charming, that this view 
appeared henceforward to be inseparably bound up with the 

1 i, Mark i. ; 2, Mark ii. i-iii. 6 ; 3, Mark iii, 7-19 ; 4, Mark iii. ig-iv. 34 ; 
5, Mark iv. 35- vi. 6 ; 6, Mark vi. y-vii. 37 ; 7, Mark viii. i-ix. 50. 


Marcan tradition. Scarcely ever has a description of the life of 
Jesus exercised so irresistible an influence as that short outline 
it embraces scarcely twenty pages with which Holtzmann closes 
his examination of the Synoptic Gospels. This chapter became 
the creed and catechism of all who handled the subject during the 
following decades. The treatment of the life of Jesus had to 
follow the lines here laid down until the Marcan hypothesis was 
delivered from its bondage to that a priori view of the develop- 
ment of Jesus. Until then any one might appeal to the Marcan 
hypothesis, meaning thereby only that general view of the inward 
and outward course of development in the life of Jesus, and 
might treat the remainder of the Synoptic material how he chose, 
combining with it, at his pleasure, material drawn from John. 
The victory, therefore, belonged, not to the Marcan hypothesis pure 
and simple, but to the Marcan hypothesis as psychologically 
interpreted by a liberal theology. 

The points of distinction between the Weissian and the new 
interpretation are as follows : Weisse is sceptical as regards the 
detail ; the new Marcan hypothesis ventures to base conclusions 
even upon incidental remarks in the text. According to Weisse 
there were not distinct periods of success and failure in the ministry 
of Jesus ; the new Marcan hypothesis confidently affirms this dis- 
tinction, and goes so far as to place the sojourn of Jesus in the parts 
beyond Galilee under the heading "Flights and Retirements." 1 
The earlier Marcan hypothesis expressly denies that outward 
circumstances influenced the resolve of Jesus to die ; according to 
the later, it was the opposition of the people, and the impossibility 
of carrying out His mission on other lines which forced Him to 
enter on the path of suffering. 2 The Jesus of Weisse's view has 

1 Holtzmann, Kommentar zu den Synoptikern, 1889, p. 184. The form of the 
expression (Fluchtwege und Reisen] is derived from Keim. 

2 ' ' Thus the course of Jesus' life hastened forward to its tragic close, a close which 
was foreseen and predicted by Jesus Himself with ever-growing clearness as the sole 
possible close, but also that which alone was worthy of Himself, and which was 
necessary as being foreseen and predetermined in the counsel of God. The hatred 
of the Pharisees and the indifference of the people left from the first no other 
prospect open. That hatred could not but be called forth in the fullest measure 
by the ruthless severity with which Jesus exposed all that it was and implied a 
heart in which there was no room for love, a morality inwardly riddled with decay, 

' an outward show of virtue, a hypocritical arrogance. Between two such unyielding 
opponents a man who, to all appearance, aimed at using the Messianic expectations 
of the people for his own ends, and a hierarchy as tenacious of its claims and as 
sensitive to their infringement as any that has ever existed it was certain that the 
breach must soon become irreparable. It was easy to foresee, too, that even in 
Galilee only a minority of the people would dare to face with Him the danger of 
such a breach. There was only one thing that could have averted the death sentence 
which had been early determined upon a series of vigorous, unambiguous demon- 
strations on the part of the people. In order to provoke such demonstrations Jesus 
would have needed, if only for the moment, to take into His service the popular, 
powerful, inflammatory Messianic ideas, or rather, would have needed to place Him- 
self at their service. His refusal to enter, by so much as a single step, upon this 


completed His development at the time of His appearance; the 
Jesus of the new interpretation of Mark continues to develop in 
the course of His public ministry. 

There is complete agreement, however, in the rejection of 
eschatology. For Holtzmann, Schenkel, and Weizsacker, as for 
Weisse, Jesus desires "to found an inward kingdom of repent- 
ance." 1 It was Israel's duty, according to Schenkel, to believe 
in the presence of the Kingdom which Jesus proclaimed. John 
the Baptist was unable to believe in it, and it was for this reason 
that Jesus censured him for it is in this sense that Schenkel 
understands the saying about the greatest among those born of 
women who is nevertheless the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. 
" So near the light and yet shutting his eyes to its beams is there 
not some blame here, an undeniable lack of spiritual and moral 
receptivity ? " 

Jesus makes Messianic claims only in a spiritual sense. He 
does not grasp at super-human glory ; it is His purpose to bear 
the sin of the whole people, and He undergoes baptism "as a 
humble member of the national community." 

His whole teaching consists, when once He Himself has 
attained to clear consciousness of His vocation, in a constant 
struggle to root out from the hearts of His disciples their theocratic 
hopes and to effect a transformation of their traditional Messianic 
ideas. When, on Simon's hailing Him as the Messiah, He declares 
that flesh and blood has not revealed it to him, He means, accord- 
ing to Schenkel, "that Simon has at this moment overcome the 
false Messianic ideas, and has recognised in Him the ethical and 
spiritual deliverer of Israel." 

"That Jesus predicted a personal, bodily, Second Coming, in 
the brightness of His heavenly splendour and surrounded by the 
heavenly hosts, to establish an earthly kingdom, is not only not 
proved, it is absolutely impossible." His purpose is to establish a 
community of which His disciples are to be the foundation, and by 
means of this community to bring about the coming of the 
Kingdom of God. He can, therefore, only have spoken of His 
return as an impersonal return in the Spirit. The later exponents 
of the Marcan view were no doubt generally inclined to regard the 
return as personal and corporeal. For Schenkel, however, it is 
historically certain that the real meaning of the eschatological 

course, which from any ordinary point of view of human policy would have been 
legitimate, because the only practicable one, was the sole sufficient and all-explaining 
cause of His destruction." Holtzmann, Die synoptischen Evangelien, 1863, pp. 485, 

1 " Ein innerliches Reich der Sinnesanderung." "Sinnesanderung " corresponds 
more exactly than " repentance" to the Greek /merdvoca (change of mind, change of 
attitude), but the phrase is no less elliptical in German than in English. The meaning 
is doubtless ' ' kingdom based upon repentance, consisting of those who have fulfilled 
this condition." 


discourses is more faithfully preserved in the Fourth Gospel than 
in the Synoptics. 

In his anxiety to eliminate any enthusiastic elements from the 
representation of Jesus, he ends by drawing a bourgeois Messiah 
whom he might have extracted from the old-fashioned rationalistic 
work of the worthy Reinhard. He feels bound to save the credit 
of Jesus by showing that the entry into Jerusalem was not intended 
as a provocation to the government. " It is only by making this 
supposition," he explains, " that we avoid casting a slur upon the 
character of Jesus. It was certainly a constant trait in His 
character that He never unnecessarily exposed Himself to danger, 
and never, except for the most pressing reasons, did He give 
any support to, the suspicions which were arising against Him ; 
He avoided provoking His opponents to drastic measures by 
any overt act directed against them." Even the cleansing of 
the Temple was not an act of violence but merely an attempt 
at reform. 

Schenkel is able to give these explanations because he knows 
the most secret thoughts of Jesus and is therefore no longer bound 
to the text. He knows, for example, that immediately after His 
baptism He attained to the knowledge " that the way of the Law 
was no longer the way of salvation for His people." Jesus cannot 
therefore have uttered the saying about the permanence of the 
Law in Mark v. 18. In the controversies about the Sabbath "He 
proclaims freedom of worship." 

As time went on, He began to take the heathen world into 
the scope of His purpose. "The hard saying addressed to the 
Canaanite woman represents rather the proud and exclusive 
spirit of Pharisaism than the spirit of Jesus." It was a test ot 
faith, the success of which had a decisive influence upon Jesus' 
attitude towards the heathen. Henceforth it is obvious that He 
is favourably disposed towards them. He travels through Samaria 
and establishes a community there. In Jerusalem He openly calls 
the heathen to Him. At certain feasts which they had arranged 
for that purpose, some of the leaders of the people set a trap for 
Him, and betrayed Him into liberal sayings in regard to the Gentiles 
which sealed His fate. 

This was the course of development of the Master, who, accord- 
ing to Schenkel, " saw with a clear eye into the future history of the 
world," and knew that the fall of Jerusalem must take place in 
order to close the theocratic era and give the Gentiles free access 
to the universal community of Christians which He was to found. 
" This period He described as the period of His coming, as in a 
sense His Second Advent upon earth." 

The same general procedure is followed by Weizsacker in his 
"Gospel History," though his work is of a much higher quality 


than Schenkel's. His account of the sources is one of the clearest 
that has ever been written. In the description of the life of Jesus, 
however, the unhesitating combination of material from the Fourth 
Gospel with that of the Synoptics rather confuses the picture. 
And whereas Renan only offers the results of the completed process, 
Weizsacker works out his, it might almost be said, under the eyes of 
the reader, which makes the arbitrary character of the proceeding 
only the more obvious. But in his attitude towards the sources 
Weizsacker is wholly free from the irresponsible caprice in which 
Schenkel indulges. From time to time, too, he gives a hint of 
unsolved problems in the background. For example, in treating 
of the declaration of Jesus to His judges that He would come as 
the Son of Man upon the clouds of heaven, he remarks how sur- 
prising it is that Jesus could so often have used the designation 
Son of Man on earlier occasions without being accused of claiming 
the Messiahship. It is true that this is a mere scraping of the keel 
upon a sandbank, by which the steersman does not allow himself to 
be turned from his course, for Weizsacker concludes that the name 
Son of Man, in spite of its use in Daniel, "had not become a 
generally current or really popular designation of the Messiah." 
But even this faint suspicion of the difficulty is a welcome sign. 
Much emphasis, in fact, in practice rather too much emphasis, is 
laid on the principle that in the great discourses of Jesus the 
structure is not historical ; they are only collections of sayings 
formed to meet the needs of the Christian community in later 
times. In this Weizsacker is sometimes not less arbitrary than 
Schenkel, who represents the Lord's Prayer as given by Jesus to 
the disciples only in the last days at Jerusalem It was an axiom 
of the school that Jesus could not have delivered discourses such 
as the Evangelists record. 

If Schenkel's picture of Jesus' character attracted much more 
attention than Weizsacker's work, that is mainly due to the art of 
lively popular presentation by which it is distinguished. The 
writer knows well how to keep the reader's interest awake by the 
use of exciting headlines. Catchwords abound, and arrest the 
ear, for they are the catchwords about which the religious con- 
troversies of the time revolved. There is never far to look for the 
moral of the history, and the Jesus here portrayed can be imagined 
plunging into the midst of the debates in any ministerial conference. 
The moralising, it must be admitted, sometimes becomes the 
occasion of the feeblest ineptitudes. Jesus sent out His disciples 
two and two ; this is for Schenkel a marvellous exhibition of wisdom. 
The Lord designed, thereby, to show that in His opinion " nothing 
is more inimical to the interests of the Kingdom of God than in- 
dividualism, self-will, self - pleasing." Schenkel entirely fails to 
recognise the superb irony of the saying that in this life all that a 


man gives up for the sake of the Kingdom of God is repaid a 
hundredfold in persecutions, in order that in the Coming Age he 
may receive eternal life as his reward. He interpreted it as 
meaning that the sufferer shall be compensated by love; his 
fellow-Christians will endeavour to make it up to him, and will 
offer him their own possessions so freely that, in consequence of 
this brotherly love, he will soon have, for the house which he has 
lost, a hundred houses, for the lost sisters, brothers, and so forth, 
a hundred sisters, a hundred brothers, a hundred fathers, a 
hundred mothers, a hundred farms. Schenkel forgets to add that, 
if this is to be the interpretation of the saying, the persecuted 
man must also receive through this compensating love, a hundred 
wives. 1 

This want of insight into the largeness, the startling originality, 
the self-con tradictoriness, and the terrible irony in the thought of 
Jesus, is not a peculiarity of Schenkel's ; it is characteristic of all the 
liberal Lives of Jesus from Strauss's down to Oskar Holtzmann's. 2 
How could it be otherwise ? They had to transpose a way of en- 
visaging the world which belonged to a hero and a dreamer to the 
plane of thought of a rational bourgeois religion. But in Schenkel's 
representation, with its popular appeal, this banality is particularly 

In the end, however, what made the success of the book was 
not its popular characteristics, whether good or bad, but the enmity 
which it drew down upon the author. The Basle Privat-Docent 
who, in his work of 1839, had congratulated the Zurichers on having 
rejected Strauss, now, as Professor and Director of the Seminary at 
Heidelberg, came very near being adjudged worthy of the martyr's 
crown himself. He had been at Heidelberg since 1851, after 
holding for a short time De Wette's chair at Basle. At his first 
coming a mildly reactionary theology might have claimed him as 
its own. He gave it a right to do so by the way in which he 
worked against the philosopher, Kuno Fischer, in the Higher Con- 
sistory. But in the struggles over the constitution of the Church 
he changed his position. As a defender of the rights of the 
laity he ranged himself on the more liberal side. After his 
great victory in the General Synod of 1861, in which the new 
constitution of the Church was established, he called a German 
Protestant assembly at Frankfort, in order to set on foot a general 
movement for Church reform. This assembly met in 1863, and 
led to the formation of the Protestant Association. 

When the Charakterbild Jesu appeared, friend and foe were 
alike surprised at the thoroughness with which Schenkel advocated 
the more liberal views. " Schenkel's book," complained Luthardt, 

1 Omitted in some of the best texts. F. C. B. 
2 Oskar Holtzmann, Das Leben Jesu, 1901. 


in a lecture at Leipzig, 1 "has aroused a painful interest. We 
had learnt to know him in many aspects ; we were not prepared 
for such an apostasy from his own past. How long is it since 
he brought about the dismissal of Kuno Fischer from Heidelberg 
because he saw in the pantheism of this philosopher a danger 
to Church and State ? It is still fresh in our memory that it was 
he who in the year 1852 drew up the report of the Theological 
Faculty of Heidelberg upon the ecclesiastical controversy raised by 
Pastor Diilon at Bremen, in which he denied Dillon's Christianity 
on the ground that he had assailed the doctrines of original sin, of 
justification by faith, of a living and personal God, of the eternal 
Divine Sonship of Christ, of the Kingdom of God, and of the 
credibility of the holy Scriptures." And now this same Schenkel 
was misusing the Life of Jesus as a weapon in " party polemics " ! 

The agitation against him was engineered from Berlin, where 
his successful attack upon the illiberal constitution of the Church 
had not been forgiven. One hundred and seventeen Baden clerics 
signed a protest declaring the author unfitted to hold office as a 
theological teacher in the Baden Church. Throughout the whole 
of Germany the pastors agitated against him. It was especially 
demanded that he should be immediately removed from his post 
as Director of the Seminary. A counter-protest was issued by the 
Durlach Conference in the July of 1864, in which Bluntschli and 
Holtzmann vigorously defended him. The Ecclesiastical Council 
supported him, and the storm gradually died away, especially 
when Schenkel in two " Defences " skilfully softened down the 
impression made by his work, and endeavoured to quiet the public 
mind by pointing out that he had only attempted to set forth one 
side of the truth. 2 

The position of the prospective martyr was not rendered any 
more easy by Strauss. In an appendix to his criticism of 
Schleiermacher's Life of Jesus he settled accounts with his old 
antagonist. 3 He recognises no scientific value whatever in the 
work. None of the ideas developed in it are new. One might 

1 Die modernen Darstellungen des Lebens Jesu. (Modern Presentments of the Life 
of Jesus. ) A discussion of the works of Strauss, Renan, and Schenkel, and of the 
Essays of Coquerel the younger, Scherer, Colani, and Keim. A lecture by Chr. 
Ernest Luthardt, Leipzig, ist and 2nd editions, 1864. Luthardt was born in 1823 
at Maroldsweisach in Lower Franconia, became Decent at Erlangen in 1851, was 
called to Marburg as Professor Extraordinary in 1854, and to Leipzig as Ordinary 
Professor in 1856. He died in 1902. 

2 Zur Orientierung iiber meine Schrift ' ' Das Charakterbild Jesu." (Explanations 
intended to place my work " A Picture of the Character of Jesus " in the proper light. } 
1864. Die protestantische Freiheitin ihrem gegenivartigen Kampfe mit der kirchlichen 
Reaktion. (Protestant Freedom in its present Struggle with Ecclesiastical Reaction.) 

3 Der Schenkefsche Handel in Baden. (The Schenkel Controversy in Baden. ) 
(A corrected reprint from number 441 of the National- Zeitung of September 21, 1864. ) 
An appendix to Der Christus des Glaubens und der Jesus der Geschichte. 1865. 



fairly say, he thinks, " that the conclusions which have given 
offence had been carried down the Neckar from Tubingen to Heidel- 
berg, and had there been salvaged by Herr Schenkel in a some- 
what sodden and deteriorated condition, it must be admitted and 
incorporated into the edifice which he was constructing." Further, 
Strauss censures the book for its want of frankness, its half-and-half 
character, which manifests itself especially in the way in which the 
author clings to orthodox phraseology. " Over and over again he 
gives criticism with one hand all that it can possibly ask, and then 
takes back with the other whatever the interests of faith seem to 
demand ; with the constant result that what is taken back is far 
too much for criticism and not nearly enough for faith." " In the 
future," he concludes, " it will be said of the seven hundred 
Durlachers that they fought like paladins to prevent the enemy 
from capturing a standard which was really nothing but a patched 

Schenkel died in 1885 after severe sufferings. As a critic he 
lacked independence, and was, therefore, always inclined to com- 
promises ; in controversy he was vehement. Though he did 
nothing remarkable in theology, German Protestantism owes him 
a vast debt for acting as its tribune in the 'sixties. 

That was the last time that any popular excitement was aroused 
in connexion with the critical study of the life of Jesus ; and it 
was a mere storm in a tea-cup. Moreover, it was the man and not 
his work that aroused the excitement. Henceforth public opinion 
was almost entirely indifferent to anything which appeared in this 
department. The great fundamental question whether historical 
criticism was to be applied to the life of Jesus had been decided 
in connexion with Strauss's first work on the subject. If here and 
there indignation aroused by a Life of Jesus brought inconveniences 
to the author and profit to the publisher, that was connected 
in every case with purely external and incidental circumstances. 
Public opinion was not disquieted for a moment by Volkmar and 
Wrede, although they are much more extreme than Schenkel. 

Most of the Lives of Jesus which followed had, it is true, 
nothing very exciting about them. They were mere variants of the 
type established during the 'sixties, variants of which the minute 
differences were only discernible by theologians, and which were 
otherwise exactly alike in arrangement and result. As a con- 
tribution to criticism, Keim's 1 "History of Jesus of Nazara" 

1 Theodor Keim, Die Geschichte Jesu von Nazara, in ihrer Verhaltung mit dem 
Gesamtleben seines Volkes frei untersucht und ausfiihrlich erzdhlt. (The History of 
Jesus of Nazara in Relation to the General Life of His People, freely examined and 
fully narrated. ) 3 vols. Zurich, 1867-1872. Vol. i. The Day of Preparation ; vol. ii. 
The Year of Teaching in Galilee; vol. iii. The Death- Passover (Todesostern) in 
Jerusalem. A short account in a more popular form appeared in 1872, Geschichte 
Jcsu nach den Ergebnissen heutiger Wissenschaft fur weitere Kreise iibersichtlich 


was the most important Life of Jesus which appeared in a long 

It is not of much consequence that he believes in the priority 
of Matthew, since his presentment of the history follows the general 
lines of the Marcan plan, which is preserved also in Matthew. He 
gives it as his opinion that the life of Jesus is to be reconstructed 
from the Synoptics, whether Matthew has the first place or Mark. 
He sketches the development of Jesus in bold lines. As early 
as his inaugural address at Zurich, delivered on the iyth of 
December 1860, which, short as it was, made a powerful impression 
upon Holtzmann as well as upon others, he had set up the thesis 
that the Synoptics "artlessly, almost against their will, show us 
unconsciously in incidental, unobtrusive traits the progressive de- 
velopment of Jesus as youth and man." l His later works are the 
development of this sketch. 

His grandiose style gave the keynote for the artistic treatment 
of the portrait of Jesus in the 'sixties. His phrases and expressions 
became classical. Every one follows him in speaking of the 
" Galilaean spring-tide " in the ministry of Jesus. 

On the Johannine question he takes up a clearly defined 
position, denying the possibility of using the Fourth Gospel side by 
side with the Synoptics as an historical source. He goes very far 
in finding special significance in the details of the Synoptists, 
especially when he is anxious to discover traces of want of success 
in the second period of Jesus' ministry, since the plan of his Life 
of Jesus depends on the sharp antithesis between the periods of 
success and failure. The whole of the second half of the Galilaean 
period consists for him in "flights and retirements." "Beset by 
constantly renewed alarms and hindrances, Jesus left the scene of 
His earlier work, left his dwelling-place at Capernaum, and 
accompanied only by a few faithful followers, in the end only by 
the Twelve, sought in all directions for places of refuge for longer 
or shorter periods, in order to avoid and elude His enemies." 
Keim frankly admits, indeed, that there is not a syllable in the 
Gospels to suggest that these journeys are the journeys of a fugitive. 
But instead of allowing that to shake his conviction, he abuses the 
narrators and suggests that they desired to conceal the truth. 
"These flights," he says, "were no doubt inconvenient to the 
Evangelists. Matthew is here the frankest, but in order to 
restore the impression of Jesus' greatness he transfers to this 

erziihlt. (The History of Jesus according to the Results of Present-day Criticism, 
briefly narrated for the General Reader.) and ed., 1875. 

Karl Theodor Keim was born in 1825 at Stuttgart, was Repetent at Tubingen 
from 1851 to 1855, and after he had been five years in the ministry, became Professor 
at Zurich in 1860. In 1873 he accepted a call to Giessen, where he died in 1878. 

1 Die menschliche Entwicklung Jesu Christi. See Holtzmann, Die synoptischen 
Evangelien, 1863, pp. 7-9. This dissertation was followed by Der geschichtliche 
Christus. 3rd ed. , 1866. 


period the greatest miracles. The later Evangelists are almost 
completely silent about these retirements, and leave us to suppose 
that Jesus made His journeys to Caesarea Philippi and the 
neighbourhood of Tyre and Sidon in the middle of winter from 
mere pleasure in travel, or for the extension of the Gospel, and 
that He made His last journey to Jerusalem without any external 
necessity, entirely in consequence of His free decision, even 
though the expectation of death which they ascribe to Him goes 
far to counteract the impression of complete freedom." Why do 
they thus correct the history ? " The motive was the same difficulty 
which draws from us also the question, 'Is it possible that Jesus 
should flee ? ' ' Keim answers " Yes." Here the liberal psychology 
comes clearly to light. "Jesus fled," he explains, "because He 
desired to preserve Himself for God and man, to secure the continu- 
ance of His ministry to Israel, to defeat as long as possible the dark 
designs of His enemies, to carry His cause to Jerusalem, and there, 
while acting, as it was His duty to do, with prudence and foresight 
in his relations with men, to recognise clearly, by the Divine 
silence or the Divine action, what the Divine purpose really was, 
which could not be recognised in a moment. He acts like a man 
who knows the duty both of examination and action, who knows 
His own worth and what is due to Him and His obligations 
towards God and man." 1 

In regard to the question of eschatology, however, Keim does 
justice to the texts. 2 He admits that eschatology, " a Kingdom of 
God clothed with material splendours," forms an integral part of the 
preaching of Jesus from the first ; " that He never rejected it, and 
therefore never by a so-called advance transformed the sensuous 
Messianic idea into a purely spiritual one." " Jesus does not 
uproot from the minds of the sons of Zebedee their belief in the 
thrones on His right hand and His left ; He does not hesitate to 
make His entry into Jerusalem in the character of the Messiah ; 
He acknowledges His Messiahship before the Council without 
making any careful reservations ; upon the cross His title is The 
King of the Jews ; He consoles Himself and His followers with the 
thought of His return as an earthly ruler, and leaves with His 
disciples, without making any attempt to check it, the belief, which 
long survived, in a future establishment or restoration of the 
Kingdom in an Israel delivered from bondage." Keim remarks 
with much justice " that Strauss had been wrong in rejecting his own 
earlier and more correct formula," which combined the eschatological 

1 Geschichte Jesu. 2nd ed. , 1875, pp. 228 and 229. 

2 The ultimate reason why Keim deliberately gives such prominence to the 
eschatology is that he holds to Matthew, and is therefore more under the direct 
impression of the masses of discourse in this Gospel, charged, as they are, with 
eschatological ideas, than those writers who find their primary authority in Mark, 
where these discourses are lacking. 


and spiritual elements as operating side by side in the plan of 

Keim, however, himself in the end allows the spiritual elements 
practically to cancel the eschatological. He admits, it is true, 
that the expression Son of Man which Jesus uses designated the 
Messiah in the sense of Daniel's prophecy, but he thinks that 
these pictorial representations in Daniel did not repel Jesus because 
He interpreted them spiritually, and " intended to describe Himself 
as belonging to mankind even in His Messianic office." To solve 
the difficulty Keim assumes a development. Jesus' consciousness 
of His vocation had been strengthened both by success and by 
disappointment. As time went on He preached the Kingdom not 
as a future Kingdom, as at first, but as one which was present in 
Him and with Him, and He declares His Messiahship more and 
more openly before the world. He thinks of the Kingdom as 
undergoing development, but not with an unlimited, infinite 
horizon as the moderns suppose ; the horizon is bounded by the 
eschatology. " For however easy it may be to read modern ideas 
into the parables of the draught of fishes, the mustard seed and 
the leaven, which, taken by themselves, seem to suggest the 
duration contemplated by the modern view, it is nevertheless 
indubitable that Jesus, like Paul, by no means looks forward to 
so protracted an earthly development; on the contrary, nothing 
appears more clearly from the sources than that He thought of 
its term as rapidly approaching, and of His victory as nigh at hand ; 
and looked to the last decisive events, even to the day of judgment, 
as about to occur during the lifetime of the existing generation, 
including Himself and His apostles." "It was the overmastering 
pressure of circumstances which held Him prisoner within the 
limitations of this obsolete belief." When His confidence in the 
development of His Kingdom came into collision with barriers 
which He could not pass, when His belief in the presence of the 
Kingdom of God grew dim, the purely eschatological ideas won 
the upper hand, " and if we may suppose that it was precisely this 
thought of the imminent decisive action of God, taking possession 
of His mind with renewed force at this point, which steeled His 
human courage, and roused Him to a passion of self-sacrifice with 
the hope of saving from the judgment whatever might still be saved, 
we may welcome His adoption of these narrower ideas as in 
accordance with the goodwill of God, which could only by this 
means maintain the failing strength of its human instrument and 
secure the spoils of the Divine warfare the souls of men subdued 
and conquered by Him." 

The thought which had hovered before the mind of Renan, but 
which in his hands had become only the motive of a romance 
tme ficelle de roman as the French express it was realised by 


Keim. Nothing deeper or more beautiful has since been written 
about the development of Jesus. 

Less critical in character is Hase's " History of Jesus," l which 
superseded in 1876 the various editions of the Handbook on 
the Life of Jesus which had first appeared in 1829. 

The question of the use of John's Gospel side by side with 
the Synoptics he leaves in suspense, and speaks his last word 
on the subject in the form of a parable. " If I may be allowed 
to use an avowedly parabolic form of speech, the relation of Jesus 
to the two streams of Gospel tradition may be illustrated as 
follows. Once there appeared upon earth a heavenly Being. 
According to His first three biographers He goes about more 
or less incognito, in the long garment of a Rabbi, a forceful 
popular figure, somewhat Judaic in speech, only occasionally, almost 
unmarked by His biographers, pointing with a smile beyond this 
brief interlude to His home. In the description left by His 
favourite disciple, He has thrown off the talar of the Rabbi, 
and stands before us in His native character, but in bitter and 
angry strife with those who took offence at His magnificent 
simplicity, and then later it must be confessed, more attractively 
in deep emotion at parting with those whom, during His 
pilgrimage on earth, He had made His friends, though they did 
not rightly understand His strange, unearthly speech." 

This is Hase's way, always to avoid a final decision. 
The fifty years of critical study of the subject which he had 
witnessed and taken part in had made him circumspect, some- 
times almost sceptical. But his notes of interrogation do not 
represent a covert supernaturalism like those in the Life of Jesus 
of 1829. Hase had been penetrated by the influence of Strauss 
and had adopted from him the belief that the true life of Jesus 
lies beyond the reach of criticism. "It is not my business," he 
says to his students in an introductory lecture, "to recoil in 
horror from this or that thought, or to express it with embarrass- 
ment as being dangerous ; I would not forbid even the enthusiasm 
of doubt and destruction which makes Strauss so strong and 
Renan so seductive." 

It is left uncertain whether Jesus' consciousness of His 
Messiahship reaches back to the days of His childhood, or 
whether it arose in the ethical development of His ripening 
manhood. The concealment of His Messianic claims is ascribed, 

1 Geschichte Jesu. Nach akademischen Vorlesungen von Dr. Karl Hase. 1876. 
Special mention ought also to be made of the fine sketch of the Life of Jesus in 
A. Hausrath's Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte (History of New Testament Times), 
ist ed., Munich, 1868 ff. ; 3rd ed. , i vol., 1879, pp. 325-515 ; Die zeitgeschichtlichen 
Beziehungen des Lebens Jesu (The Relations of the Life of Jesus to the History 
of His time). 

Adolf Hausrath was born at Karlsruhe. He was appointed Professor of 
Theology at Heidelberg in 1867, and died in 1909. 


as by Schenkel and others, to paedagogic motives ; it was necessary 
that Jesus should first educate the people and the disciples up 
to a higher ethical view of His office. In the stress which he 
lays upon the eschatology Hase has points of affinity with Keim, 
for whom he had prepared the way in his Life of Jesus of 1829, 
in which he had been the first to assert a development in Jesus 
in the course of which He at first fully shared the Jewish 
eschatological views, but later advanced to a more spiritual con- 
ception. In his Life of Jesus of 1876 he is prepared to make 
the eschatology the dominant feature in the last period also, 
and does not hesitate to represent Jesus as dying in the 
enthusiastic expectation of returning upon the clouds of heaven. 
He feels himself driven to this by the eschatological ideas in the 
last discourses. "Jesus' clear and definite sayings," he declares, 
"with the whole context of the circumstances in which they 
were spoken and understood, have been forcing me to this con- 
clusion for years past." 

"That lofty Messianic dream must therefore continue to hold 
its place, since Jesus, influenced as much by the idea of the 
Messianic glories taken over from the beliefs of His people as 
by His own religious exaltation, could not think of the victory 
of His Kingdom except as closely connected with His own 
personal action. But that was only a misunderstanding due 
to the unconscious poesy of a high-ranging religious imagination, 
the ethical meaning of which could only be realised by a long 
historical development. Christ certainly came again as the 
greatest power on earth, and His power, along with His word, 
is constantly judging the world. He faced the sufferings which 
lay immediately before Him with His eyes fixed upon this great 

The chief excellence of Beyschlag's Life of Jesus consists 
in its arrangement. 1 He first, in the volume of preliminary in- 
vestigations, discusses the problems, so that the narrative is 
disencumbered of all explanations, and by virtue of the author's 
admirable style becomes a pure work of art, which rivets the 
interest of the reader and almost causes the want of a consistent 
historical conception to be overlooked. The fact is, however, 
that in regard to the two decisive questions Beyschlag is 
deliberately inconsistent. Although he recognises that the Gospel 

1 Das Leben Jesu, von Willibald Beyschlag : Pt. i. Preliminary Investigations, 
1885, 450 PP- I Pt- ii- Narrative, 1886, 495 pp. Job. Heinr. Christoph Willibald 
Beyschlag was born in 1823 at Frankfort-on-Main, and went to Halle as Professor 
in 1860. His splendid eloquence made him one of the chief spokesmen of German 
Protestantism. As a teacher he exercised a remarkable and salutary influence, 
although his scientific works are too much under the dominance of an apologetic 
of the heart. He died in 1900. 


of John has not the character of an essentially historical source, 
"being, rather, a brilliant subjective portrait," "a didactic, quite 
as much as an historical work," he produces his Life of Jesus 
by "combining and mortising together Synoptic and Johannine 
elements." The same uncertainty prevails in regard to the 
recognition of the definitely eschatological character of Jesus' 
system of ideas. Beyschlag gives a very large place to eschatology, 
so that in order to combine the spiritual with the eschatological 
view his Jesus has to pass through three stages of development. 
In the first He preaches the Kingdom as something future, a 
supernatural event which was to be looked forward to, much 
as the Baptist preached it. Then the response which was called 
forth on all hands by His preaching led Him to believe that the 
Kingdom was in some sense already present, "that the Father, 
while He delays the outward manifestation of the Kingdom, is 
causing it to come even now in quiet and unnoticed ways by 
a humble gradual growth, and the great thought of His parables, 
which dominates the whole middle period of His public life, 
the resemblance of the Kingdom to mustard seed or leaven, comes 
to birth in His mind." As His failure becomes more and more 
certain, " the centre of gravity of His thought is shifted to the 
world beyond the grave, and the picture of a glorious return to 
conquer and to judge the world rises before Him." 

The peculiar interweaving of Synoptic and Johannine ideas 
leads to the result that, between the two, Beyschlag in the end 
forms no clear conception of the eschatology, and makes Jesus 
think in a half-Johannine, half-Synoptic fashion. "It is a coju _ 
sequence of Jesus' profound conception of the Kingdom of God 
as something essentially growing that He regards its final perfec- 
tion not as a state of rest, but rather as a living movement, as 
a process of becoming, and since He regards this process as 
a cosmic and supernatural process in which history finds its 
consummation, and yet as arising entirely out of the ethical and 
historical process, He combines elements from each into the same 
prophetic conception." An eschatology of this kind is not matter 
for history. 

In the acceptance of the "miracles" Beyschlag goes to the 
utmost limits allowed by criticism; in considering the possibility 
of one or another of the recorded raisings from the dead he 
even finds himself within the borders of rationalist territory. 

Whether Bernhard Weiss's J is to be numbered with the liberal 

1 Bernhard Weiss, Das Leben Jesu. 2 vols. Berlin, 1882. See also Das Markus- 
evangelium, 1872 ; Das Matthdusevangelium, 1876 ; and the Lehrbuch der neutesta- 
mentlichen Theologie, 5th ed. , 1888. Bernhard Weiss was born in 1827 at Konigsberg, 
where he qualified as Privat-Docent in 1852. In 1863 he went as Ordinary Professor 
to Kiel, and was called to Berlin in the same capacity in 1877. 


Lives of Jesus is a question to which we may answer " Yes ; but 
along with the faults of these it has some others in addition." 
Weiss shares with the authors of the liberal " Lives " the assump- 
tion that Mark designed to set forth a definite "view of the 
course of development of the public ministry of Jesus," and on 
the strength of that believes himself justified in giving a very 
far-reaching significance to the details offered by this Evangelist. 
The arbitrariness with which he carries out this theory is quite 
as unbounded as Schenkel's, and in his fondness for the " argument 
from silence " he even surpasses him. Although Mark never 
allows a single word to escape him about the motives of the 
northern journeys, Weiss is so clever at reading between the 
lines that the motives are "quite sufficiently" clear to him. 
The object of these journeys was, according to his explana- 
tion, "that the people might have an opportunity, undistracted 
by the immediate impression of His words and actions, to make 
up their minds in regard to the questions which they had 
put to Him so pressingly and inescapably in the last days 
of His public ministry; they must themselves draw their own 
conclusions alike from the declarations and from the conduct 
of Jesus. Only by Jesus' removing Himself for a time from their 
midst could they come to a clear decision as to their attitude 
to Jesus." This modern psychologising, however, is closely 
combined with a dialectic which seeks to show that there is 
no irreconcilable opposition between the belief in the Son of 

Among the distinctly liberal Lives of Jesus of an earlier date, that of W. Kriiger- 
Velthusen (Elberfeld, 1872, 271 pp.) might be mentioned if it were not so entirely 
uncritical. Although the author does not hold the Fourth Gospel to be apostolic 
he has no hesitation in making use of it as an historical source. 

There is more sentiment than science, too, in the work of M. G. Weitbrecht, 
Das Leben Jesu nach den vier Evangelien, 1881. 

A weakness in the treatment of the Johannine question and a want of clearness 
on some other points disfigures the three-volume Life of Jesus of the Paris professor, 
E. Stapfer, which is otherwise marked by much acumen and real depth of feeling. 
Vol. i. Jtsus-Christ avant son ministere (Fischbacher, Paris, 1896) ; vol. ii. Jtsus- 
Christ pendant son ministere (1897) ; vol. iii. La Mart et la resurrection de Je"sus- 
Christ (1898). 

F. Godet writes of "The Life of Jesus before His Public Appearance" (German 
translation by M. Reineck, Leben Jesu vor seinem offentlichen Auftreten. Hanover, 

G. Langin founds his Der Christus der Geschichte und sein Christentum (The 
Christ of History and His Christianity) on a purely Synoptic basis. 2 vols. , 1897-1898. 

The English Life of Jesus Christ, by James Stalker, D.D. (now Professor of 
Church History in the United Free Church College, Aberdeen), passed through 
numberless editions (German, 1898 ; Tubingen, 4th ed. , 1901). 

Very pithy and interesting is Dr. Percy Gardner's Exploratio Evangelica. A Brief 
Examination of the Basis and Origin of Christian Belief. 1899 I 2nf i ec *-. I 97- 

A work which is free from all compromise is H. Ziegler's Der geschichtliche 
Christus (The Historical Christ). 1891. For this reason the five lectures, delivered 
in Liegnitz, out of which it is composed, attracted such unfavourable attention that 
the Ecclesiastical Council took proceedings against the author. (See the Christ liche 
Welt, 1891, pp. 563-568, 874-877.) 


God and Son of Man which the Church of Christ has always 
confessed, and a critical investigation of the question how far 
the details of His life have been accurately preserved by tradition, 
and how they are to be historically interpreted. That means 
that Weiss is going to cover up the difficulties and stumbling- 
blocks with the mantle of Christian charity which he has woven 
out of the most plausible of the traditional sophistries. As a 
dialectical performance on these lines his Life of Jesus rivals in 
importance any except Schleiermacher's. On points of detail there 
are many interesting historical observations. When all is said, 
one can only regret that so much knowledge and so much 
ability have been expended in the service of so hopeless a 

What was the net result of these liberal Lives of Jesus ? In the 
first place the clearing up of the relation between John and the 
Synoptics. That seems surprising, since the chief representatives of 
this school, Holtzmann, Schenkel, Weizsacker, and Hase, took up 
a mediating position on this question, not to speak of Beyschlag 
and Weiss, for whom the possibility of reconciliation between the 
two lines of tradition is an accepted datum for ecclesiastical and 
apologetic reasons. But the very attempt to hold the position made 
clear its inherent untenability. The defence of the combination of 
the two traditions exhausted itself in the efforts of these its critical 
champions, just as the acceptance of the supernatural in history 
exhausted itself in the to judge from the approval of the many 
victorious struggle against Strauss. In the course of time 
Weizsacker, like Holtzmann, 1 advanced to the rejection of any 
possibility of reconciliation, and gave up the Fourth Gospel as an 
historical source. The second demand of Strauss's first Life of 
Jesus was now at last conceded by scientific criticism. 

That does not mean, of course, that no further attempts at 
reconciliation appeared thenceforward. Was ever a street so closed 
by a cordon that one or two isolated individuals did not get 
through ? And to dodge through needs, after all, no special 

1 Holtzmann, Neutestamentliche Einleitung, 2nd ed. , 1886. Weizsacker declares 
himself in the Theologische Literaturzeitung for 1882, No. 23, and Das apostolische 
Zeitalter, 2nd ed. , 1890. 

Hase and Schenkel accepted this position in principle, but were careful to keep 
open a line of retreat. 

Towards the end of the 'seventies the rejection of the Fourth Gospel as an historical 
source was almost universally recognised in the critical camp. It is taken for granted 
in the Life of Jesus by Karl Wittichen (Jena, 1876, 397 pp. ), which might be reckoned 
one of the most clearly conceived works of this kind based on the Marcan hypothesis 
if its arrangement were not so bad. It is partly in the form of a commentary, inas- 
much as the presentment of the life takes the form of a discussion of sixty-seven 
sections. The detail is very interesting. It makes an impression of ar#\vhen we 
find a series of sections grouped under the title, " The establishment of Christianity 
in Galilee." No stress is laid on the significance of Jesus' journey to the north. 
Wittichen, also, misled by Luke, asserts, just as Weisse had done, that Jesus had 
worked in Judaea for some time prior to the triumphal entry. 


intelligence, or special courage. Must we never speak of a victory 
so long as a single enemy remains alive ? Individual attempts to 
combine John with the Synoptics which appeared after this decisive 
point are in some cases deserving of special attention, as for 
example, Wendt's 1 acute study of the "Teaching of Jesus," which 
has all the importance of a full treatment of the " Life." But the 
very way in which Wendt grapples with his task shows that the 
main issue is already decided. All he can do is to fight a skilful 
and determined rearguard action. It is not the Fourth Gospel as 
it stands, but only a " ground-document " on which it is based, which 
he, in common with Weiss, Alexander Schweizer, and Renan, would 
have to be recognised " alongside of the Gospel of Mark and the 
Logia of Matthew as an historically trustworthy tradition regarding 
the teaching of Jesus," and which may be used along with those two 
writings in forming a picture of the Life of Jesus. For Wendt there 
is no longer any question of an interweaving and working up 
together of the individual sections of John and the Synoptists. He 
takes up much the same standpoint as Holtzmann occupied in 1863, 
but he provides a much more comprehensive and well-tested basis 
for it. 

In the end there is no such very great difference between Wendt 
and the writers who had advanced to the conviction of the irrecon- 
cilability of the two traditions. Wendt refuses to give up the 
Fourth Gospel altogether; they, on their part, won only a half 
victory because they did not as a matter of fact escape from the 
Johannine interpretation of the Synoptics. By means of their 
psychological interpretation of the first three Gospels they make for 
themselves an ideal Fourth Gospel, in the interests of which they 
reject the existing Fourth Gospel. They will hear nothing of 
the spiritualised Johannine Christ, and refuse to acknowledge even 
to themselves that they have only deposed Him in order to put in 
His place a spiritualised Synoptic Jesus Christ, that is, a man who 
claimed to be the Messiah, but in a spiritual sense. All the 
development which they discover in Jesus is in the last analysis 
only an evidence of the tension between the Synoptics, in their 
natural literal sense, and the " Fourth Gospel " which is extracted 
from them by an artificial interpretation. 

The fact is, the separation between the Synoptics and the 
Fourth Gospel is only the first step to a larger result which 

1 H. H. Wendt, Die Lehre Jesu, vol. i. Die evangelischen Quellenberichte iiber 
die Lehre Jesu. (The Record of the Teaching of Jesus in the Gospel Sources. ) 354 pp. 
Gottingen, 1886 ; vol. ii., 1890; Eng. trans., 1892. Second German edition in one 
vol., 626 pp., 1901. See also the same writer's Das Johannesevangelium. Unter- 
suchung seiner Entstehung und seines geschichtlichen Wertes, 1900. (The Gospel of 
John : an Investigation of its Origin and Historical Value. ) Hans Heinrich Wendt was 
born in 1853 at Hamburg, qualified as Privat-Docent in 1877 at Gottingen, was 
subsequently Extraordinary Professor at Kiel and Heidelberg, and now works at 


necessarily follows from it the complete recognition of the funda- 
mentally eschatological character of the teaching and influence of 
the Marcan and Matthaean Jesus. Inasmuch as they suppressed 
this consequence, Holtzmann, Schenkel, Hase, and Weizsacker, 
even after their critical conversion, still lay under the spell of the 
Fourth Gospel, of a modern, ideal Fourth Gospel. It is only when 
the eschatological question is decided that the problem of the 
relation of John to the Synoptics is finally laid to rest. The liberal 
Lives of Jesus grasped their incompatibility only from a literary 
point of view, not in its full historical significance. 

There is another result in the acceptance of which the critical 
school had stopped half-way. If the Marcan plan be accepted, it 
follows that, setting aside the references to the Son of Man in 
Mark ii. 10 and 28, Jesus had never, previous to the incident at 
Caesarea Philippi, given Himself out to be the Messiah or been 
recognised as such. The perception of this fact marks one of the 
greatest advances in the study of the subject. This result, once 
accepted, ought necessarily to have suggested two questions : in 
the first place, why Jesus down to that moment had made a secret 
of His Messiahship even to His disciples ; in the second place, 
whether at any time, and, if so, when and how, the people were 
made acquainted with His Messianic claims. As a fact, however, 
by the application of that ill-starred psychologising both questions 
were smothered ; that is to say, a sham answer was given to them. 
It was regarded as self-evident that Jesus had concealed His 
Messiahship from His disciples for so long in order in the mean- 
time to bring them, without their being aware of it, to a higher 
spiritual conception of the Messiah; it was regarded as equally 
self-evident that in the last weeks the Messianic claims of Jesus could 
no longer be hidden from the people, but that He did not openly 
avow them, but merely allowed them to be divined, in order to lead 
up the multitude to the recognition of the higher spiritual character 
of the office which He claimed for Himself. These ingenious 
psychologists never seemed to perceive that there is not a word of 
all this in Mark ; but that they had read it all into some of the most 
contradictory and inexplicable facts in the Gospels, and had thus 
created a Messiah who both wished to be Messiah and did not wish 
it, and who in the end, so far as the people were concerned, both 
was and was not the Messiah. Thus these writers had only 
recognised the importance of the scene at Caesarea Philippi, they 
had not ventured to attack the general problem of Jesus' attitude in 
regard to the Messiahship, and had not reflected further on the 
mutually contradictory facts that Jesus purposed to be the Messiah 
and yet did not come forward publicly in that character. 

Thus they had side-tracked the study of the subject, and based 
all their hopes of progress on an intensive exegesis of the detail of 


Mark. They thought they had nothing to do but to occupy a 
conquered territory, and never suspected that along the whole line 
they had only won a half victory, never having thought out to the 
end either the eschatological question or the fundamental historical 
question of the attitude of Jesus to the Messiahship. 

They were not disquieted by the obstinate persistence of the 
discussion on the eschatological question. They thought it was 
merely a skirmish with a few unorganised guerrillas ; in reality it was 
the advance-guard of the army with which Reimarus was threaten- 
ing their flank, and which under the leadership of Johannes Weiss 
was to bring them to so dangerous a pass. And while they were 
endeavouring to avoid this turning movement they fell into the 
ambush which Bruno Bauer had laid in their rear : Wrede held up 
the Marcan hypothesis and demanded the pass-word for the theory 
of the Messianic consciousness and claims of Jesus to which it 
was acting as convoy. 

The eschatological and the literary school, finding themselves 
thus opposed to a common enemy, naturally formed an alliance. 
The object of their combined attack was not the Marcan outline 
of the life of Jesus, which, in fact, they both accept, but the 
modern " psychological " method of reading between the lines of 
the Marcan narrative. Under the cross fire of these allies that 
idea of development which had been the strongest entrenchment 
of the liberal critical Lives of Jesus, and which they had been 
desperately endeavouring to strengthen down to the very last, was 
finally blown to atoms. 

But the striking thing about these liberal critical Lives of Jesus 
was that they unconsciously prepared the way for a deeper historical 
view which could not have been reached apart from them. A/ 
deeper understanding of a subject is only brought to pass when ail 
theory is carried to its utmost limit and finally proves its ownj; 

There is this in common between rationalism and the liberal 
critical method, that each had followed out a theory to its ultimate 
consequences. The liberal critical school had carried to its limit 
the explanation of the connexion of the actions of Jesus, and of 
the events of His life, by a " natural " psychology ; and the con- 
clusions to which they had been driven had prepared the way for 
the recognition that the natural psychology is not here the historical 
psychology, but that the latter must be deduced from certain his- 
torical data. Thus through the meritorious and magnificently sincere 
work of the liberal critical school the a priori " natural " psychology 
gave way to the eschatological. That is the net result, from the 
historical point of view, of the study of the life of Jesus in the post- 
Straussian period. 


Timothe'e Colani. J^sus- Christ et les croyances raessianiques de son temps. 
Strassburg, 1864. 255 pp. 

Gustav Volkmar. Jesus Nazarenus und die erste christliche Zeit, mil den beiden 
ersten Erzahlern. (Jesus the Nazarene and the Beginnings of Christianity, with 
the two earliest narrators of His life.) Zurich, 1882. 403 pp. 

Wilhelm Weiffenbach. Der Wiederkunftsgedanke Jesu. (Jesus' Conception of His 
Second Coming.) 1873. 424 pp. 

W. Baldensperger. Das Selbstbewusstsein Jesu im Lichte der messianischen Hoff- 
nungen seiner Zeit. (The Self-consciousness of Jesus in the Light of the Messianic 
Hopes of His time.) Strassburg, 1888. 2nd ed., 1892, 282 pp. ; 3rd ed. pt. i. 
240 pp. 

Johannes Weiss. Die Predigt Jesu vom Reiche Gottes. (The Preaching of Jesus 
concerning the Kingdom of God. ) 1892. Gottingen. 67 pp. Second revised 
and enlarged edition, 1900, 210 pp. 

So long as it was merely a question of establishing the distinctive 
character of the thought of Jesus as compared with the ancient 
prophetic and Danielic conceptions, and so long as the only 
available storehouse of Rabbinic and Late-Jewish ideas was 
Lightfoot's Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae in quatuor Evangelistas^- 
it was still possible to cherish the belief that the preaching of 
Jesus could be conceived as something which was, in the last 
analysis, independent of all contemporary ideas. But after the 
studies of Hilgenfeld and Dillmann 2 had made known the Jewish 
apocalyptic in its fundamental characteristics, and the Jewish 
pseudepigrapha were no longer looked on as "forgeries," but as 
representative documents of the last stage of Jewish thought, the 
necessity of taking account of them in interpreting the thought 
of Jesus became more and more emphatic. Almost two decades 

1 Johannis Ligktfooti, Doctoris Angli et Collegii S. Catharinae in Cantabrigiensi 
Academia Praefecti, Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae in Quatuor Evangelistas . . . 
nunc secundum in Germania junctim cum Indicibus locorum Scripturae rerumque 
ac verborum necessariis editae e Museo lo. Benedicti Carpzovii. Lipsiae. Anno 

2 The pioneer works in the study of apocalyptic were Dillmann's Henoch, 1851 ; 
and Hilgenfeld's Judische Apokalyptik, 1857. 



were to pass, however, before the full signifiance of this material was 

It might almost have seemed as if it was to meet this attack by 
anticipation that Colani wrote in 1864 his work, Jesus-Christ et les 
croyances messianiques de son temps. 

Timothe'e Colani was born in 1824 at Leme (Aisne), studied 
in Strassburg and became pastor there in 1851. In the year 1864 
he was appointed Professor of Pastoral Theology in Strassburg in 
spite of some attempted opposition to the appointment on the 
part of the orthodox party in Paris, which was then growing in 
strength. The events of the year 1870 left him without a post. 
As he had no prospect of being called to a pastorate in France, he 
became a merchant. In consequence of some unfortunate business 
operations he lost all his property. In 1875 he obtained a post 
as librarian at the Sorbonne. He died in 1888. 

How far was Jesus a Jew? That was the starting-point of 
Colani's study. According to him there was a complete lack of 
homogeneity in the Messianic hopes cherished by the Jewish people 
in the time of Jesus, since the prophetic conception, according 
to which the Kingdom of the Messiah belonged to the present 
world-order, and the apocalyptic, which transferred it to the future 
age, had not yet been brought into any kind of unity. The general 
expectation was focused rather upon the Forerunner than upon 
the Messiah. Jesus Himself in the first period of His public 
ministry, up to Mark viii., had never designated Himself as the 
Messiah, for the expression Son of Man carried no Messianic 
associations for the multitude. His fundamental thought was 
that of perfect communion with God ; only little by little, as the 
success of the preaching of the Kingdom more and more impressed 
His mind, did His consciousness take on a Messianic colouring. 
In face of the undisciplined expectations of the people He 
constantly repeats in His parables of the growth of the Kingdom, 
the word "patience." By revealing Himself as the Lord of this 
spiritual kingdom He makes an end of the oscillation between the 
sensuous and the spiritual in the current expectations of the future 
blessedness. He points to mankind as a whole, not merely to the 
chosen people, as the people of the Kingdom, and substitutes for 
the apocalyptic catastrophe an organic development. By His inter- 
pretation of Psalm ex., in Mark xii. 35-37, He makes known that 
the Messiah has nothing whatever to do with the Davidic kingship. 
It was only with difficulty that He came to resolve to accept the 
title of Messiah ; He knew what a weight of national prejudices 
and national hopes hung upon it. 

But He is "Messiah the Son of Man"; He created this 
expression in order thereby to make known His lowliness. In the 
moment in which He accepted the office He registered the resolve 


to suffer. His purpose is, to be the suffering, not the triumphant, 
Messiah. It is to the influence which His Passion exercises upon 
the souls of men that He looks for the firm establishment of His 

This spiritual conception of the Kingdom cannot possibly be 
combined with the thought of a glorious Second Coming, for if Jesus 
had held this latter view He must necessarily have thought of the 
present life as only a kind of prologue to that second existence. 
Neither the Jewish, nor the Jewish-Christian eschatology as repre- 
sented in the eschatological discourses in the Gospels, can, therefore, 
in Colani's opinion, belong to the preaching of Jesus. That He 
should sometimes have made use of the imagery associated with 
the Jewish expectations of the future is, of course, only natural. But 
the eschatology occupies far too important a place in the tradition 
of the preaching of Jesus to be explained as a mere symbolical 
mode of expression. It forms a substantial element of that preaching. 
A spiritualisation of it will not meet the case. Therefore, if the 
conviction has been arrived at on other grounds that Jesus' preach- 
ing did not follow the lines of Jewish eschatology, there is only one 
possible way of dealing with it, and that is by excising it from the 
text on critical grounds. 

The only element in the preaching of Jesus which can, in 
Colani's opinion, be called in any sense " eschatological " was the 
conviction that there would be a wide extension of the Gospel even 
within the existing generation, that Gentiles should be admitted to 
the Kingdom, and that in consequence of the general want of 
receptivity towards the message of salvation, judgment should 
come upon the nations. 

These views of Colani furnish him with a basis upon which to 
decide on the genuineness or otherwise of the eschatological dis- 
courses. Among the sayings put into the mouth of Jesus which 
must be rejected as impossible are : the promise, in the discourse 
at the sending forth of the Twelve, of the imminent coming of the 
Son of Man, Matt. x. 23 ; the promise to the disciples that they 
should sit upon twelve thrones judging the tribes of Israel, Matt. 
xix. 28; the saying about His return in Matt, xxiii. 39; the final 
eschatological saying at the Last Supper, Matt. xxvi. 29, "the 
Papias-like Chiliasm of which is unworthy of Jesus " ; and the pre- 
diction of His coming on the clouds of heaven with which He closes 
His Messianic confession before the Council. The apocalyptic dis- 
courses in Mark xiii., Matt, xxiv., and Luke xxi. are interpolated. 
A Jewish-Christian apocalypse of the first century, probably com- 
posed before the destruction of Jerusalem, has been interwoven 
with a short exhortation which Jesus gave on the occasion when 
He predicted the destruction of the temple. 

According to Colani, therefore, Jesus did not expect to come 


again from Heaven to complete His work. It was completed by 
His death, and the purpose of the coming of the Spirit was to 
make manifest its completion. Strauss and Renan had entered 
upon the path of explaining Jesus' preaching from the history 
of the time by the assumption of an intermixture in it of Jewish 
ideas, but it was now recognised "that this path is a cul-de-sac, 
and that criticism must turn round and get out of it as quickly as 

The new feature of Colani's view was not so much the uncom- 
promising rejection of eschatology as the clear recognition that its 
rejection was not a matter to be disposed of in a phrase or two, 
but necessitated a critical analysis of the text. 

The systematic investigation of the Synoptic apocalypse was a 
contribution to criticism of the utmost importance. 

In the year 1882 Volkmar took up this attempt afresh, at least 
in its main features. 1 His construction rests upon two main points 
of support ; upon his view of the sources and his conception of 
the eschatology of the time of Jesus. In his view the sole source 
for the Life of Jesus is the Gospel of Mark, which was " probably 
written exactly in the year 73," five years after the Johannine 

The other two of the first three Gospels belong to the second 
century, and can only be used by way of supplement. Luke dates 
from the beginning of the first decade of the century; while 
Matthew is regarded by Volkmar, as by Wilke, as being a com- 
bination of Mark and Luke, and is relegated to the end of this 
first decade. The work is in his opinion a revision of the Gospel 
tradition "in the spirit of that primitive Christianity which, while 
constantly opposing the tendency of the apostle of the Gentiles to 
make light of the Law, was nevertheless so far universalistic that, 
starting from the old legal ground, it made the first steps towards 
a catholic unity." Once Matthew has been set aside in this way, 
the literary elimination of the eschatology follows as a matter of 
course ; the much smaller element of discourse in Mark can offer no 
serious resistance. 

As regards the Messianic expectations of the time, they were, in 
Volkmar's opinion, such that Jesus could not possibly have come 

1 Jesus Nazarenus u?id die erste christliche Zeit, mit den beiden erst en Erzdhlern, 
von Gustav Volkmar, Zurich, 1882. To which must be added : Markus und die 
Synapse der Evangelien, nach dem urkundlichen Text ; und das Geschichtliche vom 
Leben Jesu. (Mark and Synoptic Material in the Gospels, according to the original 
text ; and the historical elements in the Life of Jesus. ) Zurich, 1869 ; 2nd edition, 1876, 
738 pp. Volkmar was born in 1809, and was living at Fulda as a Gymnasium 
(High School) teacher, when in 1852 he was arrested by the Hessian Government on 
account of his political views, and subsequently deprived of his post. In 1853 he 
went to Zurich, where a new prospect opened to him as a Docent in theology. He 
died in 1893. 


forward with Messianic claims. The Messianic Son of Man, whose 
aim was to found a super-earthly Kingdom, only arose in Judaism 
under the influence of Christian dogma. The contemporaries of 
Jesus knew only the political ideal of the Messianic King. And 
woe to any one who conjured up these hopes ! The Baptist had 
done so by his too fervent preaching about repentance and the 
Kingdom, and had been promptly put out of the way by the 
Tetrarch. The version found even in Mark, which represents that 
it was on Herodias' account, and at her daughter's petition, that 
John was beheaded, is a later interpretation which, according to 
Volkmar, is evidently false on chronological grounds, since the 
Baptist was dead before Herod took Herodias as his wife. Had 
Jesus desired the Messiahship, He could only have claimed it in 
this political sense. The alternative is to suppose that He did not 
desire it. 

Volkmar's contribution to the subject consists in the formulat- 
ing of this clean-cut alternative. Colani had indeed recognised the 
alternative, but had not taken up a consistent attitude in regard to 
it. Here, that way of escape from the difficulty is barred, which 
suggests that Jesus set Himself up as Messiah, but in another than 
the popular sense. What may be called Jesus' Messianic conscious- 
ness consisted solely " in knowing Himself to be first-born among 
many brethren, the Son of God after the Spirit, and consequently 
feeling Himself enabled and impelled to bring about that regenera- 
tion of His people which alone could make it worthy of deliverance." 
It is in any case clearly evident from Paul, from the Apocalypse, 
and from Mark, " the three documentary witnesses emanating from 
the circle of the followers of Jesus during the first century, that it 
was only after His crucifixion that Jesus was hailed as the Christ ; 
never during His earthly life." The elimination of the eschatology 
thus leads also to the elimination of the Messiahship of Jesus. 

If we are told in Mark viii. 29 that Simon Peter was the first 
among men to hail Jesus as the Messiah, it is to be noticed, 
Volkmar points out, that the Evangelist places this confession at a 
time when Jesus' work was over and the thought of His Passion 
first appears; and if we desire fully to understand the author's 
purpose we must fix our attention on the Lord's command not to 
make known His Messiahship until after His resurrection (Mark 
viii. 30, ix. 9 and 10), which is a hint that we are to date Jesus' 
Messiahship from His death. For Mark is no mere naive chronicler, 
but a conscious artist interpreting the history; sometimes, indeed, 
a powerful epic writer in whose work the historical and the poetic 
are intermingled. 

Thus the conclusion is that Mark, in agreement with Paul, 
represents Jesus as becoming the Messiah only as a consequence 
of His resurrection. He really appeared, and His first appearance 


was to Peter. When Peter on that night of terror fled from 
Jerusalem to take refuge in Galilee, Jesus, according to the mystic 
prediction of Mark xiv. 28 and xvi. 7, went before him. "He was 
constantly present to his spirit, until on the third day He manifested 
Himself before his eyes, in the heavenly appearance which was also 
vouchsafed to the last of the apostles 'as he was in the way' 
and Peter, enraptured, gave expression to the clear conviction 
with which the whole life of Jesus had inspired him in the cry 
' Thou art the Christ.' " 

The historical Jesus therefore founded a community of followers 
without advancing any claims to the Messiahship. He desired 
only to be a reformer, the spiritual deliverer of the people of God, to 
realise upon earth the Kingdom of God which they were all seeking 
in the beyond, and to extend the reign of God over all nations. 
" The Kingdom of God is doubtless to win its final and decisive 
victory by the almighty aid of God; our duty is to see to its 
beginnings" that is, according to Volkmar, the lesson which 
Jesus teaches us in the parable of the Sower. The ethic of this 
Kingdom was not yet confused by any eschatological ideas. 
It was only when, as the years went on, the expectation of the 
Parousia rose to a high pitch of intensity that " marriage and 
the bringing up of children came to be regarded as superfluous, 
and were consequently thought of as signs of an absorption in 
earthly interests which was out of harmony with the near approach 
to the goal of these hopes." Jesus had renewed the foundations 
on which " the family " was based and had made it, in turn, a 
corner stone of the Kingdom of God, even as He had consecrated 
the common meal by making it a love feast. 

In most things Jesus was conservative. The ritual worship of 
the God of Israel remained for Him always a sacred thing. But 
in spite of that He withdrew more and more from the synagogue, 
the scene of His earliest preaching, and taught in the houses of 
His disciples. "He had learned to fulfil the law as implicit in 
one highest commandment and supreme principle, therefore ' in 
spirit and in truth ' ; but He never, as appears from all the evidence, 
declared it to be abolished." "We may be equally certain, 
however, that Jesus, while He asserted the abiding validity of the 
Ten Commandments, never explicitly declared that of the Mosaic 
Law as a whole. The absence of any such saying from the tradition 
regarding Jesus made it possible for Paul to take his decisive step 

As regards the Gospel discourses about the Parousia, it is easy 
to recognise that, even in Mark, these "are one and all the work 
of the narrator, whose purpose is edification. He connects his 
work as closely as possible with the Apocalypse, which had appeared 
some five years earlier, in order to emphasise, in contrast to it, the 


higher truth." Jesus' own hope, in all its clearness and complete 
originality, is recorded in the parables of the seed growing secretly and 
the grain of mustard seed, and in the saying about the immortality 
of His words. Nothing beyond this is in any way certain, however 
remarkable the saying in Mark ix. i may be, that the looked-for 
consummation is to take place during the lifetime of the existing 

"It is only the fact that Mark is preceded by 'the book of 
the Birth (and History) of Christ according to Matthew' not 
only in the Scriptures, but also in men's minds, which were 
dominated by it as the 'first Gospel' which has caused it to 
be taken as self-evident that Jesus, knowing Himself from the first 
to be the Messiah, expected His Parousia solely from heaven, and 
therefore with, or in, the clouds of heaven. . . . But since He 
who was thought of as by birth the Son of God, is now thought 
of as the Son of Man, born an Israelite, and becoming the Son of 
God after the spirit only at His baptism, the hope that looks to 
the clouds of heaven cannot be, or at least ought not to be, any 
longer explained otherwise than as an enthusiastic dream." 

If, even at the beginning of the 'eighties, a so extreme theory 
on the other side could, without opposition, occupy all the points 
of vantage, it is evident that the theory which gave eschatology its 
due place was making but slow progress. It was not that any one 
had been disputing the ground with it, but that all its operations 
were characterised by a nervous timidity. And these hesitations 
are not to be laid to the account of those who did not perceive the 
approach of the decisive conflict, or refused to accept battle, like 
the followers of Reuss, for instance, who were satisfied with the 
hypothesis that thoughts about the Last Judgment had forced their 
way into the authentic discourses of Jesus about the destruction of the 
city ;* even those who like WeifTenbach are fully convinced that " the 
eschatological question, and in particular the question of the Second 
Coming, which in many quarters has up to the present been treated 
as a noli me tangere, must sooner or later become the battle-ground 
of the greatest and most decisive of theological controversies" 
even those who shared this conviction stopped half-way on the 
road on which they had entered. 

Weiffenbach's 2 work, "Jesus' Conception of His Second Coming," 
published in 1873, sums up the results of the previous discussions 
of the subject. He names as among those who ascribe the 

1 Kienlen, "Die eschatologische Rede Jesu Matt. xxiv. cum Parall." (The 
Eschatological Discourse of Jesus in Matt. xxiv. with the parallel passages), Jahrbuch 

fur die Tteologic, 1869, pp. 706-709. Analysis of other attempts directed to the 
same end in Weiffenbach, Der Wiederkunftsgedanke, p. 31 ff. 

2 Wilhelm Weiffenbach, Director of the Seminary for Theological Students at 
Friedberg, was born in 1842 at Bornheim in Rhenish Hesse. 


expectation of the Parousia, in the sensuous form in which it meets 
us in the documents, to a misunderstanding of the teaching of Jesus 
on the part of the disciples and the writers who were dependent 
upon them Schleiermacher, Bleek, Holtzmann, Schenkel, Colani, 
Baur, Hase, and Meyer. Among those who maintained that the 
Parousia formed an integral part of Jesus' teaching, he cites Keim, 
Weizsacker, Strauss, and Renan. He considers that the readiest 
way to advance the discussion will be by undertaking a critical 
review of the attempt to analyse the great Synoptic discourse about 
the future in which Colani had led the way. 

The question of the Parousia is like, Weiffenbach suggests, a 
vessel which has become firmly wedged between rocks. Any 
attempt to get it afloat again will be useless until a new channel 
is found for it. His detailed discussions are devoted to en- 
deavouring to discover the relation between the declarations 
regarding the Second Coming and the predictions of the Passion. 
In the course of his analysis of the great prophetic discourse he 
rejects the suggestion made by Weisse in his Evangelienfrage of 
1856, that the eschatological character of the discourse results 
from the way in which it is put together ; that while the sayings 
in their present mosaic-like combination certainly have a reference 
to the last things, each of them individually in its original context 
might well bear a natural sense. In Colani's hypothesis of 
conflation the suggestion was to be rejected that it was not "Ur- 
Markus," but the author of the Synoptic apocalypse who was 
responsible for the working in of the " Little Apocalypse." 1 It was 
an unsatisfactory feature of Weizsacker's position 2 that he insisted on 
regarding the " Little Apocalypse " as Jewish, not Jewish-Christian ; 
Pfleiderer had distinguished sharply what belongs to the Evangelist 
from the " Little Apocalypse," and had sought to prove that the 
purpose of the Evangelist in thus breaking up the latter and working 
it into a discourse of Jesus was to tone down the eschatological 
hopes expressed in the discourse, because they had remained 
unfulfilled even at the fall of Jerusalem, and to retard the rapid 
development of the apocalyptic process by inserting between its 
successive phases passages from a different discourse. 3 Weiffen- 
bach carries this series of tentative suggestions to its logical con- 
clusion, advancing the view that the link of connexion between 

1 The English reader will find a constructive analysis of what is known as the 
"Little Apocalypse" in Encyclopaedia Biblica, art. "Gospels," col. 1857, It con- 
sists of the verses Matt. xxiv. 6-8, 15-22, 29-31, 34, corresponding to Mark xiii. 7-90, 
14-20, 24-27, 30. According to the theory first sketched by Colani these verses 
formed an independent Apocalypse which was embedded in the Gospel by the 
Evangelist. F. C. B. 

2 Untersuchungen iiber die evangelische Gesckickte, 1864, pp. 121-126. 

3 " ttber die Komposition der eschatologischen Rede Matt. xxiv. 4 ff." (The 
Composition of the Eschatological Discourse in Matt. xxiv. 4 ff. ), Jahrbuchf. d. Theol. 
vol. xiii., 1868, pp. 134-149. 


the Jewish-Christian Apocalypse and the Gospel material in which 
it is embedded is the thought of the Second Coming. This was 
the thought which gave the impulse from without towards the trans- 
mutation of Jewish into Jewish-Christian eschatology. Jesus must 
have given expression to the thought of His near return ; and 
Jewish-Christianity subsequently painted it over with the colours 
of Jewish eschatology. 

In developing this theory, Weiffenbach thought that he had 
succeeded in solving the problem which had been first critically 
formulated by Keim, who is constantly emphasising the idea that 
the eschatological hopes of the disciples could not be explained 
merely from their Judaic pre-suppositions, but that some incentive 
to the formation of these hopes must be sought in the preaching 
of Jesus ; otherwise primitive Christianity and the life of Jesus 
would stand side by side unconnected and unexplained, and in that 
case we must give up all hope " of distinguishing the sure word of 
the Lord from Israel's restless speculations about the future." 

When the Jewish-Christian Apocalypse has been eliminated, 
we arrive at a discourse, spoken on the Mount of Olives, in which 
Jesus exhorted His disciples to watchfulness, in view of the near, 
but nevertheless undefined, hour of the return of " the Master of 
the House." 

In this discourse, therefore, we have a standard by which 
criticism may test all the eschatological sayings and discourses. 
Weiffenbach has the merit of having gathered together all the 
eschatological material of the Synoptics and examined it in the 
light of a definite principle. In Colani the material was incomplete, 
and instead of a critical principle he offered only an arbitrary 
exegesis which permitted him, for example, to conceive the watch- 
fulness on which the eschatological parables constantly insist as 
only a vivid expression for the sense of responsibility "which 
weighs upon the life of man." 

And yet the outcome of this attempt of Weiffenbach's, which 
begins with so much real promise, is in the end wholly unsatisfactory. 
The "authentic thought of the return" which he takes as his 
standard has for its sole content the expectation of a visible 
personal return in the near future "free from all more or less 
fantastic apocalyptic and Jewish-Christian speculations about the 
future." That is to say, the whole of the eschatological discourses 
of Jesus are to be judged by the standard of a colourless, unreal 
figment of theology. Whatever cannot be squared with that is to 
be declared spurious and cut away ! Accordingly the eschatological 
closing saying at the Last Supper is stigmatised as a "Chiliastic- 
Capernaitic " l distortion of a "normal" promise of the Second 
Coming; the idea of the 7raAiyyei/ria, Matt. xix. 28, is said to be 
1 By "Capernaitic" Weiffenbach apparently means literalistic ; cf. John vi. 52 f. 



wholly foreign to Jesus' world of thought ; it is impossible, too, 
that Jesus can have thought of Himself as the Judge of the world, 
for the Jewish and Jewish-Christian eschatology does not ascribe 
the conduct of the Last Judgment to the Messiah; that is first 
done by Gentile Christians, and especially by Paul. It was, 
therefore, the later eschatology which set the Son of Man on the 
throne of His glory and prepared " the twelve thrones of judgment 
for the disciples." The historian ought only to admit such of the 
sayings about bearing rule in the Messianic Kingdom as can be 
interpreted in a spiritual, non-sensuous fashion. 

In the end Weiffenbach's critical principle proves to be merely 
a bludgeon with which he goes seal-hunting and clubs the defence- 
less Synoptic sayings right and left. When his work is done you 
see before you a desert island strewn with quivering corpses. 
Nevertheless the slaughter was not aimless, or at least it was not 
without result. 

In the first place, it did really appear, as a by-product of the 
critical processes, that Jesus' discourses about the future had 
nothing to do with an historical prevision of the destruction of 
Jerusalem, whereas the supposition that they had, had hitherto 
been taken as self-evident, the prediction of the destruction of 
Jerusalem being regarded as the historic nucleus of Jesus' discourses 
regarding the future, to which the idea of the Last Judgment had 
subsequently attached itself. 

Here, then, we have the introduction of the converse opinion, 
which was subsequently established as correct ; namely, that Jesus 
foresaw, indeed, the Last Judgment, but not the historical destruction 
of Jerusalem. 

In the next place, in the course of his critical examination of 
the eschatological material, Weiffenbach stumbles upon the discourse 
at the sending forth of the Twelve in Matt, x., and finds himself face 
to face with the fact that the discourse which he was expected 
to regard as a discourse of instruction was really nothing of the kind, 
but a collection of eschatological sayings. As he had taken over 
along with the Marcan hypothesis the closely connected view of 
the composite character of the Synoptic discourses, he does not 
allow himself to be misled, but regards this inappropriate charge 
to the Twelve as nothing else than an impossible anticipation and 
a bold anachronism. He knows that he is at one in this 
with Holtzmann, Colani, Bleek, Scholten, Meyer, and Keim, who 
also made the discourse of instruction end at the point beyond 
which they find it impossible to explain it, and regard the pre- 
dictions of persecution as only possible in the later period of the 
life of Jesus. "For these predictions," to express Weiffenbach's 
view in the words of Keim, " are too much at variance with the 
essentially gracious and happy mood which suggested the sending 


forth of the disciples, and reflect instead the lurid gloom of the 
fierce conflicts of the later period and the sadness of the farewell 

It was a good thing that Bruno Bauer did not hear this chorus. 
If he had, he would < have asked Weiffenbach and his allies 
whether the poor fragment that remained after the critical dissection 
of the "charge to the Twelve" was "a discourse of instruction," 
and if in view of these difficulties they could not realise why he had 
refused, thirty years before, to believe in the " discourse of instruc- 
tion." But Bruno Bauer heard nothing: and so their blissful 
unconsciousness lasted for nearly a generation longer. 

The expectation of His Second Coming, repeatedly expressed 
by Jesus towards the close of His life, is on this hypothesis authentic ; 
it was painted over by the primitive Christian community with the 
colours of its own eschatology, in consequence of the delay of the 
Parousia ; and in view of the mission to the Gentiles a more cautious 
conception of the nearness of the time commended itself; nay, when 
Jerusalem had fallen and the "signs of the end" which had been 
supposed to be discovered .in the horrors of the years 68 and 69 
had passed without result, the return of Jesus was relegated to a 
distant future by the aid of the doctrine that the Gospel must first 
be preached to all the heathen. Thus the Parousia, which accord- 
ing to the Jewish-Christian eschatology belonged to the present age, 
was transferred to the future. " With this combination and making 
coincident they were not so at the first of the Second Coming, the 
end of the world, and the final Judgment, the idea of the Second 
Coming reached the last and highest stage of its development." 

Weiffenbach's view, as we have seen, empties Jesus' expectation 
of His return of almost all its content, and to that is due the fact 
that his investigation did not prove so useful as it might have done. 
His purpose is, following suggestions thrown out by Schleiermacher 
and Weisse, to prove the identity of the predictions of the Second 
Coming and of the Resurrection, and he takes as his starting-point 
the observation that the conduct of the disciples after the death 
of Jesus forbids us to suppose that the Resurrection had been pre- 
dicted in clear and unambiguous sayings, and that, on the other 
hand, the announcement of the Second Coming coincides in point 
of time with the predictions of the Resurrection, and the predictions 
both of the Second Coming and of the Resurrection stand in 
organic connexion with the announcement of His approaching 
death. The two are therefore identical. 

It was only after the death of their Master that the disciples 
differentiated the thought of the Resurrection from that of the 
Second Coming. The Resurrection did not bring them that which 
the Second Coming had promised ; but it produced the result that 
the eschatological hopes, which Jesus had with difficulty succeeded 


in damping, flamed up again in the hearts of His disciples. The 
spiritual presence of the Deliverer who had manifested Himself to 
them did not seem to them to be the fulfilment of the promise of 
the Second Coming ; but the expectation of the latter, being brought 
into contact with the flame of eschatological hope with which their 
hearts were a-fire, was fused, and cast into a form quite different 
from that in which it had been derived from the words of Jesus. 

That is all finely observed. For the first time it had 
dawned upon historical criticism that the great question is that 
concerning the identity or difference of the Parousia and the 
Resurrection. But the man who had been the first to grasp that 
thought, and who had undertaken his whole study with the special 
purpose of working it out, was too much under the influence of the 
spiritualised eschatology of Schleiermacher and Weisse to be able 
to assign the right values in the solution of his equation. And, 
withal, he is too much inclined to play the apologist as a subsidiary 
role. He is not content merely to render the history intelligible ; 
he is, by his own confession, urged on by the hope that perhaps 
a way may be found of causing that " error " of Jesus to disappear 
and proving it to be an illusion due to the want of a sufficiently close 
study of His discourses. But the historian simply must not be an 
apologist ; he must leave that to those who come after him and he 
may do so with a quiet mind, for the apologists, as we learn from 
the history of the Lives of Jesus, can get the better of any his- 
torical result whatever. It is, therefore, quite unnecessary that 
the historian should allow himself to be led astray by following an 
apologetic will-o'-the-wisp. 

Technically regarded, the mistake on which Weiffenbach's in- 
vestigation made shipwreck was the failure to bring the Jewish 
apocalyptic material into relation with the Synoptic data. If he 
had done this, it would have been impossible for him to extract an 
absolutely unreal and unhistorical conception of the Second Coming 
out of the discourses of Jesus. 

The task which Weiffenbach had neglected remained undone 
to the detriment of theology until Balden sperger 1 repaired the 
omission. His book, " The Self-consciousness of Jesus in the Light 
of the Messianic Hopes of His Time," 2 published in 1888, made its 
impression by reason of the fullness of its material. Whereas 
Colani and Volkmar had still been able to deny the existence of 

1 Wilhelm Baldensperger, at present Professor at Giessen, was born in 1856 at 
Miilhausen in Alsace. 

2 A new edition appeared in 1891. There is no fundamental alteration, but in 
consequence of the polemic against opponents who had arisen in the meantime it 
is fuller. The first part of a third edition appeared in 1903 under the title Die 
messianisch-apokalyptischen Hoffnungen des Judentums. 

See also the interesting use made of Late-Jewish and Rabbinic ideas in Alfred 
Edersheim's The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, and ed. , London, 1884, 2 vols. 


a fully formed Messianic expectation in the time of Jesus, the 
genesis of the expectation was now fully traced out, and it was 
shown that the world of thought which meets us in Daniel had 
won the victory, that the " Son of Man " Messiah of the Similitudes 
of Enoch was the last product of the Messianic hope prior to the 
time of Jesus; and that therefore the fully developed Danielic 
scheme with its unbridgeable chasm between the present and the 
future world furnished the outline within which all further and 
more detailed traits were inserted. The honour of having effect- 
ively pioneered the way for this discovery belongs to Schiirer. 1 
Baldensperger adopts his ideas, but sets them forth in a much 
more direct way, because he, in contrast with Schiirer, gives no 
system of Messianic expectation and there never in reality was 
a system but is content to picture its many-sided growth. 

He does not, it is true, escape some minor inconsistencies. 
For example, the idea of a "political Messiahship," which is really 
set aside by his historical treatment, crops up here and there, as 
though the author 'had not entirely got rid of it himself. But 
the impression made by the book as a whole was overpowering. 

Nevertheless this book does not exactly fulfil the promise of 
its title, any more than Weiffenbach's. The reader expects that 
now at last Jesus' sayings about Himself will be consistently ex- 
plained in the light of the Jewish Messianic ideas, but that is not 
done. For Baldensperger, instead of tracing down and working 
out the conception of the Kingdom of God held by Jesus as a 
product of the Jewish eschatology, at least by way of trying whether 
that method would suffice, takes it over direct from modern 
historical theology. He assumes as self-evident that Jesus' con- 
ception of the Kingdom of God had a double character, that the 
eschatological and spiritual elements were equally represented in it 
and mutually conditioned one another, and that Jesus therefore 
began, in pursuance of this conception, to found a spiritual invisible 
Kingdom, although He expected its fulfilment to be effected by 
supernatural means. Consequently there must also have been a 

1 Emil Schurer, Geschichte desjudischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi. (History 
of the Jewish People in the Time of Christ. ) 2nd ed. , part second, 1886, pp. 417 ff. 
Here is to be found also a bibliography of the older literature of the subject. ird ed. , 
1889, vol. ii. pp. 49 8 ff. 

Emil Schurer was born at Augsburg in 1844, and from 1873 onwards was suc- 
cessively Professor at Leipzig, Giessen, and Kiel, and is now (1909) at Gottingen. 

The latest presentment of Jewish apocalyptic is Diejudische Eschatologie von Daniel 
bis Akiba, by Paul Volz, Pastor in Leonberg. Tubingen, 1903. 412 pp. The 
material is very completely given. Unfortunately the author has chosen the system- 
atic method of treating his subject, instead of tracing the history of its development, 
: only right way. As a consequence Jesus and Paul occupy far too little space 
in this survey of Jewish apocalyptic. For a treatment of the origin of Jewish 
schatology from the point of view of the history of religion see Hugo Gressmann, 
now Professor at Berlin, Der Ursprung der israclitisch-judischen Eschatologie (The 
Jrigm of the Israelitish and Jewish Eschatology), Gottingen, 1905. 377 pp. 


duality in His religious consciousness, in which these two con- 
ceptions had to be combined. Jesus' Messianic consciousness 
sprang, according to Baldensperger, " from a religious root " ; that 
is to say, the Messianic consciousness was a special modification 
of a self-consciousness in which a pure, spiritual, unique relation to 
God was the fundamental element ; and from this arises the 
possibility of a spiritual transformation of the Jewish-Messianic self- 
consciousness. In making these assumptions, Baldensperger does 
not ask himself whether it is not possible that for Jesus the purely 
Jewish consciousness of a transcendental Messiahship may itself 
have been religious, nay even spiritual, just as well as the Messiah- 
ship resting on a vague, indefinite, colourless sense of union with 
God which modern theologians arbitrarily attribute to Him. 

Again, instead of arriving at the two conceptions, Kingdom of 
God and Messianic consciousness, purely empirically, by an un- 
biased comparison of the Synoptic passages with the Late-Jewish 
conceptions, Baldensperger, in this following Holtzmann, brings 
them into his theory in the dual form in which contemporary 
theology, now becoming faintly tinged with eschatology, offered 
them to him. Consequently, everything has to be adapted to this 
duality. Jesus, for example, in applying to Himself the title Son 
of Man, thinks not only of the transcendental significance which 
it has in the Jewish apocalyptic, but gives it at the same time an 
ethico-religious colouring. 

Finally, the duality is explained by an application of the genetic 
method, in which the "course of the development of the self- 
consciousness of Jesus" is traced out. The historical psychology 
of the Marcan hypothesis here shows its power of adapting itself to 
eschatology. From the first, to follow the course of Baldensperger's 
exposition, the eschatological view influenced Jesus' expectation of 
the Kingdom and His Messianic consciousness. In the wilderness, 
after the dawn of His Messianic consciousness at His baptism, He 
had rejected the ideal of the Messianic king of David's line and 
put away all warlike thoughts. Then He began to found the 
Kingdom of God by preaching. For a time the spiritualised idea 
of the Kingdom was dominant in His mind, the Messianic eschato- 
logical idea falling rather into the background. 

But His silence regarding His Messianic office was partly due 
to paedagogic reasons, " since He desired to lead His hearers to a 
more spiritual conception of the Kingdom and so to obviate a 
possible political movement on their part and the consequent inter- 
vention of the Roman government." In addition to this He had 
also personal reasons for not revealing Himself which only disap- 
peared in the moment when His death and Second Coming 
became part of His plan ; previous to that He did not know how 
and when the Kingdom was to come. Prior to the confession at 


Caesarea Philippi, the disciples " had only a faint and vague sus- 
picion of the Messianic dignity of their Master." 

This was "rather the preparatory stage of His Messianic work." 
Objectively, it may be described "as the period of growing 
emphasis upon the spiritual characteristics of the Kingdom, and of 
resigned waiting and watching for its outward manifestation in 
glory ; subjectively, from the point of view of the self-consciousness 
of Jesus, it may be characterised as the period of the struggle 
between His religious conviction of His Messiahship and the 
traditional rationalistic Messianic belief." 

This first period opens out into a second in which He had 
attained to perfect clearness of vision and complete inner harmony. 
By the acceptance of the idea of suffering, Jesus' inner peace is en- 
hanced to the highest degree conceivable. " By throwing Himself 
upon the thought of death He escaped the lingering uncertainty as 
to when and how God would fulfil His promise. . . ." "The 
coming of the Kingdom was fixed down to the Second Coming 
of the Messiah. Now He ventured to regard Himself as the 
Son of Man who was to be the future Judge of the world, for 
the suffering and dying Son of Man was closely associated with the 
Son of Man surrounded by the host of heaven. Would the people 
accept Him as Messiah ? He now, in Jerusalem, put the question 
to them in all its sharpness and burning actuality ; and the people 
were t moved to enthusiasm. But so soon as they saw that He 
whom they had hailed with such acclamation was neither able nor 
willing to fulfil their ambitious dreams, a reaction set in." 

Thus, according to Baldensperger, there was an interaction 
between the historical and the psychological events. And that is 
right! if only the machinery were not so complicated, and a 
" development " had not to be ground out of it at whatever cost. 
But this, and the whole manner of treatment in the second part, 
encumbered as it is with parenthetic qualifications, was rendered 
inevitable by the adoption of the two aforesaid not purely historical 
conceptions. Sometimes, too, one gets the impression that the 
author felt that he owed it to the school to which he belonged to 
advance no assertion without adding the limitations which scientifi- 
cally secure it against attack. Thus on every page he digs himself 
into an entrenched position, with palisades of footnotes in fact 
the book actually ends with a footnote. But the conception which 
underlay the whole was so full of vigour that in spite of the thoughts 
not being always completely worked out, it produced a powerful 
impression. Baldensperger had persuaded theology at least to 
admit the hypothesis whether it took up a positive or negative 
position in regard to it that Jesus possessed a fully-developed 
eschatology. He thus provided a new basis for discussion and gave 
an impulse to the study of the subject such as it had not received 


since the 'sixties, at least not in the same degree of energy. 
Perhaps the very limitations of the work, due as they were to its 
introduction of modern ideas, rendered it better adapted to the 
spirit of the age, and consequently more influential, than if it had 
been characterised by that rigorous maintenance of a single point of 
view which was abstractly requisite for the proper treatment of 
the subject. It was precisely the rejection of this rigorous con- 
sistency which enabled it to gain ground for the cause of 

But the consistent treatment from a single point of view was 
bound to come; and it came four years later. In passing from 
Weiffenbach and Baldensperger to Johannes Weiss l the reader feels 
like an explorer who after weary wanderings through billowy seas of 
reed-grass at length reaches a wooded tract, and instead of swamp 
feels firm ground beneath his feet, instead of yielding rushes sees 
around him the steadfast trees. At last there is an end of " qualify- 
ing clause" theology, of the "and yet," the "on the other hand," 
the " notwithstanding " ! The reader had to follow the others 
step by step, making his way over every footbridge and gang-plank 
which they laid down, following all the meanderings in which they 
indulged, and must never let go their hands if he wished to come 
safely through the labyrinth of spiritual and eschatological ideas 
which they supposed to be found in the thought of Jesus. 

In Weiss there are none of these devious paths : " behold the 
land lies before thee." 

His "Preaching of Jesus concerning the Kingdom of God," 2 
published in 1892, has, on its own lines, an importance equal to 
that of Strauss's first Life of Jesus. He lays down the third great 
alternative which the study of the life of Jesus had to meet. The 
first was laid down by Strauss : either purely historical or purely super- 
natural. The second had been worked out by the Tubingen school 
and Holtzmann : either Synoptic or Johannine. Now came the 
third : either eschatological or non-eschatological ! 

Progress always consists in taking one or other of two alternatives, 
in abandoning the attempt to combine them. The pioneers of 
progress have therefore always to reckon with the law of mental 
inertia which manifests itself in the majority who always go on 
believing that it is possible to combine that which can no longer 
be combined, and in fact claim it as a special merit that they, in 
contrast with the " one-sided " writers, can do justice to the other side 
of the question. One must just let them be, till their time is over, 

1 Johannes Weiss, now Professor at Marburg, was born at Kiel in 1863. 

2 It may be mentioned that this work had been preceded (in 1891) by two Leiden 
prize dissertations, Vber die Lehre vom Reich Gotles im Neucn Testament (Concerning 
the Kingdom of God in the New Testament), one of them by Issel, the other, which 
lays especially strong emphasis upon the eschatology, by Schmoller. 


and resign oneself not to see the end of it, since it is found by 
experience that the complete victory of one of two historical 
alternatives is a matter of two full theological generations. 

This remark is made in order to explain why the work of 
Johannes Weiss did not immediately make an end of the mediating 
views. Another reason perhaps was that, according to the usual 
canons of theological authorship, the book was much too short 
only sixty-seven pages and too simple to allow its full significance 
to be realised. And yet it is precisely this simplicity which makes 
it one of the most important works in historical theology. It 
seems to break a spell. It closes one epoch and begins another. 

Weiffenbach had failed to solve the problem of the Second 
Coming, Baldensperger that of the Messianic consciousness of 
Jesus, because both of them allowed a false conception of the 
Kingdom of God to keep its place among the data. The general 
conception of the Kingdom was first rightly grasped by Johannes 
Weiss. All modern ideas, he insists, even in their subtlest forms, 
must be eliminated from it; when this is done, we arrive at a 
Kingdom of God which is wholly future ; as is indeed implied by 
the petition in the Lord's prayer, "Thy Kingdom come." Being 
still to come, it is at present purely supra-mundane. It is present 
only as a cloud may be said to be present which throws its shadow 
upon the earth; its nearness, that is to say, is recognised by the 
paralysis of the Kingdom of Satan. In the fact that Jesus casts 
out the demons, the Pharisees are bidden to recognise, according to 
Matt. xii. 25-28, that the Kingdom of God is already come upon 

This is the only sense, in which Jesus thinks of the Kingdom as 
present. He does not "establish it," He only proclaims its coming. 
He exercises no " Messianic functions," but waits, like others, for 
God to bring about the coming of the Kingdom by supernatural 
means. He does not even know the day and hour when this shall 
come to pass. The missionary journey of the disciples was not 
designed for the extension of the Kingdom of God, but only as a 
means of rapidly and widely making known its nearness. But it 
was not so near as Jesus thought. The impenitence and hardness 
of heart of a great part of the people, and the implacable enmity 
of His opponents, at length convinced Him that the establishment 
of the Kingdom of God could not yet take place, that such 
penitence as had been shown hitherto was not sufficient, and that 
a mighty obstacle, the guilt of the people, must first be put away. 
It becomes clear to Him that His own death must be the ransom- 
price. He dies, not for the community of His followers only, but 
for the nation ; that is why He always speaks of His atoning death 
as "for many," not "for you." After His death He would come 
again in all the splendour and glory with which, since the days of 


Daniel, men's imaginations had surrounded the Messiah, and He 
was to come, moreover, within the lifetime of the generation to 
which He had proclaimed the nearness of the Kingdom of God. 

The setting up of the Kingdom was to be preceded by the Day 
of Judgment. In describing the Messianic glory Jesus makes use 
of the traditional picture, but He does so with modesty, restraint, 
and sobriety. Therein consists His greatness. 

With political expectations this Kingdom has nothing whatever 
to do. " To hope for the Kingdom of God in the transcendental 
sense which Jesus attaches to it, and to raise a revolution, are two 
things as different as fire and water." The transcendental character 
of the expectation consists precisely in this, that the State and all 
earthly institutions, conditions, and benefits, as belonging to the 
present age, shall either not exist at all in the coming Kingdom, or 
shall exist only in a sublimated form. Hence Jesus cannot preach 
to men a special ethic of the Kingdom of God, but only an ethic 
which in this world makes men free from the world and prepared 
to enter unimpeded into the Kingdom. That is why His ethic is 
of so completely negative a character ; it is, in fact, not so much an 
ethic as a penitential discipline. 

The ministry of Jesus is therefore not in principle different from 
that of John the Baptist : there can be no question of a founding 
and development of the Kingdom within the hearts of men. What 
distinguishes the work of Jesus from that of the Baptist is only 
His consciousness of being the Messiah. He awoke to this con- 
sciousness at His baptism. But the Messiahship which He claims 
is not a present office ; its exercise belongs to the future. On 
earth He is only a man, a prophet, as in the view implied in the 
speeches in the Acts of the Apostles. " Son of Man " is therefore, 
in the passages where it is authentic, a purely eschatological designa- 
tion of the Messiah, though we cannot tell whether His hearers 
understood Him as speaking of Himself in His future rank and 
dignity, or whether they thought of the Son of Man as a being 
quite distinct from Himself, whose coming He was only proclaiming 
in advance. 

" The sole object of this argument is to prove that the Messianic 
self-consciousness of Jesus, as expressed in the title 'Son of Man,' 
shares in the transcendental apocalyptic character of Jesus' idea of 
the Kingdom of God, and cannot be separated from that idea." 
The only partially correct evaluation of the factors in the problem 
of the Life of Jesus which Baldensperger had taken over from 
contemporary theology, and which had hitherto prevented historical 
science from obtaining a solution of that problem, had now been 
corrected from the history itself, and it was now only necessary 
to insert the corrected data into the calculation. 

Here is the point at which it is fitting to recall Reimarus. He 


was the first, and indeed, before Johannes Weiss, the only writer who 
recognised and pointed out that the preaching of Jesus was purely 
eschatological. It is true that his conception of the eschatology 
was primitive, and that he applied it not as a constructive, but as a 
destructive principle of criticism. But read his statement of the 
problem "with the signs changed," and with the necessary deduc- 
tion for the primitive character of the eschatology, and you have 
the view of Weiss. 

Ghillany, too, has a claim to be remembered. When Weiss 
asserts that the part played by Jesus was not the active role of 
establishing the Kingdom, but the passive role of waiting for 
the coming of the Kingdom ; and that it was, in a sense, only by 
the acceptance of His sufferings that He emerged from that 
passivity; he is only asserting what Ghillany had maintained 
thirty years before with the same arguments and with the same 
decisiveness. But Weiss places the assertion on a scientifically 
unassailable basis. 


Wilhelm Bousset. Jesu Predigt in ihrem Gegensatz zum Judentum. Ein religions- 
geschichtlicher Vergleich. (The Antithesis between Jesus' Preaching and Judaism. 
A Religious-Historical Comparison. ) Gottingen, 1892. 130 pp. 

Erich Haupt. Die eschatologischen Aussagen Jesu in den synoptischen Evangelien. 
(The Eschatological Sayings of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels.) 1895. 167 pp. 

Paul Wernle. Die Anfange unserer Religion. Tubingen-Leipzig, 1901; and ed. , 
1904. 410 pp. 

Emil Schiirer. DasmessianischeSelbstbewusstsein Jesu-Christi. 1903. Akademische 
Festrede. (The Messianic Self-consciousness of Jesus Christ. ) 24 pp. 

Wilhelm Brandt. Die evangelische Geschichte und der Ursprung des Christentums 
auf Grund einer Kritik der Berichte iiber das Leiden und die Auferstehung Jesu. 
(The Gospel History and the Origin of Christianity. Based upon a Critical 
Study of the Narratives of the Sufferings and Resurrection of Jesus. ) Leipzig, 
1893- 59i PP- 

Adolf Julicher. Die Gleichnisreden Jesu. (The Parables of Jesus.) Vol. i., 1888, 
291 pp. ; vol. ii. , 1899, 643 pp. 

IN this period the important books are short. The sixty-seven 
pages of Johannes Weiss are answered by Bousset x in a bare 
hundred and thirty. People began to see that the elaborate Lives 
of Jesus which had hitherto held the field, and enjoyed an 
immortality of revised editions, only masked the fact that the 
study of the subject was at a standstill j and that the tedious re- 
handling of problems which had been solved so far as they were 
capable of solution only served as an excuse for not grappling with 
those which still remained unsolved. 

This conviction is expressed by Bousset at the beginning of 
his work. The criticism of the sources, he says, is finished, and 
its results may be regarded, so far as the Life of Jesus is concerned, 
as provisionally complete. The separation between John and the 
Synoptists has been secured. For the Synoptists, the two-document 
hypothesis has been established, according to which the sources 
are a primitive form of Mark, and a collection of "logia." A 
certain interest might still attach to the attempt to arrive at the 
primitive kernel of Mark; but the attempt has a priori so little 

1 Wilhelm Bousset, now Professor in Gottingen, born 1865 at Liibeck. 

241 16 


prospect of success that it was almost a waste of time to continue 
to work at it. It would be a much more important thing to get 
rid of the feeling of uncertainty and artificiality in the Lives of 
Jesus. What is now chiefly wanted, Bousset thinks, is " a firmly- 
drawn and life-like portrait which, with a few bold strokes, should 
bring out clearly the originality, the force, the personality of Jesus." 

It is evident that the centre of the problem has now been 
reached. That is why the writing becomes so terse. The masses 
of thought can only be manoeuvred here in a close formation such 
as Weiss gives them. The loose order of discursive exegetical 
discussions of separate passages is now no longer in place. The 
first step towards further progress was the simple one of marshalling 
the passages in such a way as to gain a single consistent impression 
from them. 

In the first instance Bousset is as ready as Johannes Weiss to 
w-' admit the importance for the mind of Jesus of the eschatological 
" then " and " now." The realistic school, he thinks, are perfectly 
right in endeavouring to relate Jesus, without apologetic or 
theological inconsistencies, to the background of contemporary 
ideas. Later, in 1901, he was to make it a reproach against 
Harnack's " What is Christianity ? " (Das Wesen des Christentums) 
that it did not give sufficient importance to the background of 
contemporary thought in its account of the preaching of Jesus. 1 

He goes on to ask, however, whether the first enthusiasm over 
the discovery of this genuinely historical way of looking at things 
should not be followed by some " second thoughts " of a deeper 
character. Accepting the position laid down by Johannes Weiss, 
we must ask, he thinks, whether this purely historical criticism, by 
the exclusive emphasis which it has laid upon eschatology, has not 
allowed the " essential originality and power of the personality of 
Jesus to slip through its fingers," and closed its grasp instead upon 
contemporary conceptions and imaginations which are often of a 
quite special character. 

The Late-Jewish eschatology was, according to Bousset, by no 
means a homogeneous system of thought. Realistic and transcen- 
dental elements stand side by side in it, unreconciled. The 
genuine popular belief of Late Judaism still clung quite naively to 
the earthly realistic hopes of former times, and had never been 
able to rise to the purely transcendental regions which are the 
characteristic habitat of apocalyptic. The rejection of the world 
is never carried out consistently ; something of the Jewish national 
ideal always remains. And for this reason Late Judaism made no 
progress towards the overcoming of particularism. 

Probably, Bousset holds, this Apocalyptic thought is not even 
genuinely Jewish; as he ably argued in another work, there 

1 Theol. Rundschau (1901), 4, pp. 89-103. 


was a considerable strain of Persian influence in it. 1 The dualism, 
the transference to the transcendental region of the future hope, 
the conception of the world which appears in Jewish apocalyptic, 
are of Iranian rather than Jewish origin. 

Two thoughts are especially characteristic of Bousset's position ; 
first, that this transcendentalising of the future implied a spiritualisa- 
tion of it ; secondly, that in post-exilic Judaism there was always 
an undercurrent of a purer and more spontaneous piety, the 
presence of which is especially to be traced in the Psalms. 

Into a dead world, where a kind of incubus seems to stifle all 
naturalness and spontaneity, there comes a living Man. According 
to the formulae of His preaching and the designations which He 
applies to Himself, He seems at first sight to identify Himself 
with this world rather than to oppose it. But these conceptions 
and titles, especially the Kingdom of God and the Son of Man, 
must be provisionally left in the background, since they, as being 
conceptions taken over from the past, conceal rather than reveal 
what is most essential in His personality. The primary need is to 
discover, behind the phenomenal, the real character of the personality 
and preaching of Jesus. The starting-point must therefore be the 
simple fact that Jesus came as a living Man into a dead world. 
He is living, because in contrast with His contemporaries He has 
.a living idea of God. His faith in the Fatherhood of God is 
Jesus' most essential act. It signifies a breach with the trans- 
cendental Jewish idea of God, and an unconscious inner negation 
of the Jewish eschatology. Jesus, therefore, walks through a world 
which denies His own eschatology like a man who has firm ground 
under his feet. 

That which on a superficial view appears to be eschatological 
preaching turns out to be essentially a renewal of the old prophetic 
preaching with its positive ethical emphasis. Jesus is a manifesta- 
tion of that ancient spontaneous piety of which Bousset had shown 
the existence in Late Judaism. 

The most characteristic thing in the character of Jesus, 
according to Bousset, is His joy in life. It is true that if, in 
endeavouring to understand Him, we take primitive Christianity 
as our starting-point, we might conceive of this joy in life as the 
complement of the eschatological mood, as the extreme expression 
of indifference to the world, which can as well enjoy the world as 
flee it. But the purely eschatological attitude, though it reappears 

1 W. Bousset, Die jiidische Apokalyptik in ihrer religionsgeschichtlichen 
Herkunft und ihrer Bedeutung fur das Neue Testament. (The Origin of Apocalyptic 
as indicated by Comparative Religion, and its significance for the understanding of 
the New Testament.) Berlin, 1903. 67 pp. See also W. Bousset, Die Religion des 
Judentums im neutestamentlichen Zeitalter, 512 pp., 1902. For the assertion of 
Parsic influences see also Stave, Der Einfluss des Parsismus auf das Judentum. 
Haarlem, 1898. 


in early Christianity, does not give the right clue for the interpreta- 
tion of the character of Jesus as a whole. His joy in the world 
was real, a genuine outcome of His new type of piety. It 
prevented the eudaemonistic eschatological idea of reward, which 
some think they find in Jesus' preaching, from ever really becoming 
an element in it. 

Jesus is best understood by contrasting Him with the 
Baptist. John was a preacher of repentance whose eyes were fixed 
upon the future. Jesus did not allow the thought of the nearness 
of the end to rob Him of His simplicity and spontaneity, and was 
not crippled by the reflection that everything was transitory, 
preparatory, a mere means to an end. His preaching of 
repentance was not gloomy and forbidding ; it was the proclamation 
of a new righteousness, of which the watchword was, " Ye shall be 
perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect." He desires to com- 
municate this personal piety by personal influence. In contrast 
with the Baptist He never aims at influencing masses of men, but 
rather avoids it. His work was accomplished mainly among little 
groups and individuals. He left the task of carrying the Gospel 
far and wide as a legacy to the community of His followers. The 
mission of the Twelve, conceived as a mission for the rapid and 
widespread extension of the Gospel, is not to be used to explain 
Jesus' methods of teaching ; the narrative of it rests on an " obscure 
and unintelligible tradition." 

This genuine joy in life was not unnoticed by the con- 
temporaries of Jesus who contrasted Him as "a gluttonous man 
and a wine-bibber," with the Baptist. They were vaguely 
conscious that the whole life of Jesus was " sustained by the feeling 
of an absolute antithesis between Himself and His times." He 
lived not in anxious expectation, but in cheerful gladness, because 
by the native strength of His piety He had brought present and 
future into one. Free from all extravagant Jewish delusions 
about the future, He was not paralysed by the conditions which 
must be fulfilled to make this future present. He has a peculiar 
conviction of its coming which gives Him courage to " marry " the 
present with the future. The present as contrasted with the 
beyond is for Him no mere shadow, but truth and reality ; life is 
not for Him a mere illusion, but is charged with a real and 
valuable meaning. His own time is the Messianic time, as His 
answer to the Baptist's question shows. "And it is among the 
most certain things in the Gospel that Jesus in His earthly life 
acknowledged Himself as Messiah both to His disciples and to the 
High-Priest, and made His entry into Jerusalem as such." 

He can, therefore, fully recognise the worth of the present. It is 
not true that He taught that this world's goods were in themselves 
bad; what He said was only that they must not be put first. 


Indeed He gives a new value to life by teaching that man cannot 
be righteous in isolation, but only in the fellowship of love. And 
as, moreover, the righteousness which He preaches is one of the 
goods of the Kingdom of God, He cannot have thought of the 
Kingdom as wholly transcendental. The Reign of God begins 
for Him in the present era. His consciousness of being able to 
cast out demons in the spirit of God because Satan's kingdom on 
earth is at an end is only the supernaturalistic expression for 
something of which He also possesses an ethical consciousness, 
namely, that in the new social righteousness the Kingdom of God 
is already present. 

This presence of the Kingdom was not, however, clearly 
explained by Jesus, but was set forth in paradoxes and parables, 
especially in the parables of Mark iv. When we find the 
Evangelist, in immediate connexion with these parables, 
asserting that the aim of the parables was to mystify and conceal, 
we may conclude that the basis of this theory is the fact that these 
parables concerning the presence of the Kingdom of God were not 

In effecting this tacit transformation Jesus is acting in accordance 
with a tendency of the time. Apocalyptic is itself a spiritualisation 
of the ancient Israelitish hopes of the future, and Jesus only 
carries this process to its completion. He raises Late Judaism 
above the limitations in which it was involved, separates out the 
remnant of national, political, and sensuous ideas which still clung 
to the expectation of the future in spite of its having been 
spiritualised by apocalyptic, and breaks with the Jewish particu- 
larism, though without providing a theoretical basis for this step. 

Thus, in spite of, nay even because of, His opposition to it, 
Jesus was the fulfiller of Judaism. In Him were united the ancient 
and vigorous prophetic religion and the impulse which Judaism itself 
had begun to feel towards the spiritualisation of the future hope. 
The transcendental and the actual meet in a unity which is full of 
life and strength, creative not reflective, and therefore not needing 
to set aside the ancient traditional ideas by didactic explanations, 
but overcoming them almost unconsciously by the truth which 
lies in this paradoxical union. The historical formula embodied in 
Bousset's closing sentence runs thus : " The Gospel develops some 
of the deeper-lying motifs of the Old Testament, but it protests 
against the prevailing tendency of Judaism." 

Such of the underlying assumptions of this construction as invite 
challenge lie open to inspection, and do not need to be painfully 
disentangled from a web of exegesis ; that is one of the merits of 
the book. The chief points to be queried are as follows : 

Is it the case that the apocalypses mark the introduction of a 
process of spiritualisation applied to the ancient Israelitish hopes ? 


A picture of the future is not spiritualised simply by being projected 
upon the clouds. This elevation to the transcendental region 
signifies, on the contrary, the transference to a place of safety of 
the eudaemonistic aspirations which have not been fulfilled in the 
present, and which are expected, by way of compensation, from 
the other world. The apocalyptic conception is so far from being 
a spiritualisation of the future expectations, that it represents on 
the contrary the last desperate effort of a strongly eudaemonistic 
popular religion to raise to heaven the earthly goods from which it 
cannot make up its mind to part. 

Next we must ask : Is it really necessary to assume the 
existence of so wide reaching a Persian influence in Jewish 
eschatology? The Jewish dualism and the sublimation of its 
hope have become historical just because, owing to the fate of the 
nation, the religious life of the present and the fair future which 
was logically bound up with it became more and more widely 
separated, temporally and locally, until at last only its dualism and 
the sublimation of its hope enabled the nation to survive its 

Again, is it historically permissible to treat the leading ideas of 
the preaching of Jesus, which bear so clearly the marks of the 
contemporary mould of thought, as of secondary importance for the 
investigation, and to endeavour to trace Jesus' thoughts from 
within outwards and not from without inwards ? 

Further, is there really in Judaism no tendency towards the 
overcoming of particularism ? Has not its eschatology, as shaped 
by the deutero-prophetic literature, a universalistic outlook ? Did 
Jesus overcome particularism in principle otherwise than it is over- 
come in Jewish eschatology, that is to say, with reference to the 
future ? 

What is there to prove that Jesus' distinctive faith in the 
Fatherhood of God ever existed independently, and not as 
an alternative form of the historically -conditioned Messianic 
consciousness? In other words, what is there to show that the 
" religious attitude " of Jesus and His Messianic consciousness are 
anything else than identical, temporally and conceptually, so that 
the first must always be understood as conditioned by the second ? 

Again, is the saying about the gluttonous man and wine-bibber 
a sufficient basis for the contrast between Jesus and the Baptist ? 
Is not Jesus' preaching of repentance gloomy as well as the 
Baptist's? Where do we read that He, in contrast with the 
Baptist, avoided dealing with masses of men? Where did He 
give " the community of His disciples " marching orders to go far 
and wide in the sense required by Bousset's argument? Where 
is there a word to tell us that He thought of His work among 
individuals and little groups of men as the most important feature 


of His ministry? Are we not told the exact contrary, that He 
" taught " His disciples as little as He did the people ? Is there 
any justification for characterising the missionary journey of the 
Twelve, just because it directly contradicts this view, as " an obscure 
and unintelligible tradition ? " 

Is it so certain that Jesus made a Messianic entry into 
Jerusalem, and that, accordingly, He declared Himself to the 
disciples and to the High Priest as Messiah in the present, and 
not in a purely future sense ? 

What are the sayings which justify us in making the attitude 
of opposition which He took up towards the Rabbinic legalism 
into a " sense of the absolute opposition between Himself and His 
people " ? The very "absolute," with its ring of Schleiermacher, is 

All these, however, are subsidiary positions. The decisive point 
is : Can Bousset make good the assertion that Jesus' joy in life was 
a more or less unconscious inner protest against the purely 
eschatological world-renouncing religious attitude, the primal 
expression of that " absolute " antithesis to Judaism ? Is it not 
the case that His attitude towards earthly goods was wholly con- 
ditioned by eschatology ? That is to say, were not earthly goods 
emptied of any essential value in such a way that joy in the^world 
and indifference to the world were simply the final expression of an 
ironic attitude which had been sublimated into pure serenity. 
That is the question upon the answer to which depends the 
decision whether Bousset's position is tenable or not. 

It is not in fact tenable, for the opposite view has at its disposal 
inexhaustible reserves of world-renouncing, world-contemning say- 
ings, and the few utterances which might possibly be interpreted 
as expressing a purely positive joy in the world, desert and go 
over to the enemy, because they textually and logically belong to 
the other set of sayings. Finally, the promise of earthly happiness 
as a reward, to which Bousset had denied a position in the teaching 
of Jesus, also falls upon his rear, and that in the very moment 
when he is seeking to prove from the saying, " Seek ye first the 
Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall 
be added unto you," that for Jesus this world's goods are not in 
themselves evil, but are only to be given a secondary place. 
Here the eudaemonism is written on the forehead of the saying, 
since the receiving of these things we must remember, too, the 
" hundredfold " in another passage is future, not present, and will 
only " come " at the same time as the Kingdom of God. All present 
goods, on the other hand, serve only to support life and render 
possible an undistracted attitude of waiting in pious hope for that 
future, and therefore are not thought of as gains, but purely as 
a gift of God, to be cheerfully and freely enjoyed as a foretaste 


of those blessings which the elect are to enjoy in the future Divine 

The loss of this position decides the further point that if there 
is any suggestion in the teaching of Jesus that the future Kingdom 
of God is in some sense present, it is not to be understood as 
implying an anti-eschatological acceptance of the world, but merely 
as a phenomenon indicative of the extreme tension of the 
eschatological consciousness, just in the same way as His joy in 
the world. Bousset has a kind of indirect recognition of this in 
his remark that the presence of the Kingdom of God is only 
asserted by Jesus as a kind of paradox. If the assertion of its 
presence indicated that acceptance of the world formed part 
of Jesus' system of thought, it would be at variance with His 
eschatology. But the paradoxical character of the assertion is due 
precisely to the fact that His acceptance of the world is but the last 
expression of the completeness with which He rejects it. 

But what do critical cavils matter in the case of a book of 
which the force, the influence, the greatness, depends upon its 
spirit? It is great because it recognises what is so rarely 
recognised in theological works the point where the main issue 
really lies ; in the question, namely, whether Jesus preached and 
worked as Messiah, or whether, as follows if a prominent place is 
given to eschatology, as Colani had long ago recognised, His 
career, historically regarded, was only the career of a prophet with 
an undercurrent of Messianic consciousness. 

As a consequence of grasping the question in its full signifi- 
cance, Bousset rejects all the little devices by which previous writers 
had endeavoured to relate Jesus' ministry to His times, each one 
prescribing at what point He was to connect Himself with it, and 
of course proceeding in his book to represent Him as connecting 
Himself with it in precisely that way. Bousset recognises that the 
supreme importance of eschatology in the teaching of Jesus is not 
to be got rid of by whittling away a little point here and there, and 
rubbing it smooth with critical sandpaper until it is capable of 
reflecting a different thought, but only by fully admitting it, while 
at the same time counteracting it by asserting a mysterious element 
of world-acceptance in the thought of Jesus, and conceiving His 
whole teaching as a kind of alternating current between positive 
and negative poles. 

This is the last possible sincere attempt to limit the exclusive 
importance of eschatology in the preaching of Jesus, an attempt so 
gallant, so brilliant, that its failure is almost tragic ; one could have 
wished success to the book, to which Carlyle might have stood 
sponsor. That it is inspired by the spirit of Carlyle, that it 
vindicates the original force of a great Personality against the 
attempt to dissolve it into a congeries of contemporary conceptions, 


therein lies at once its greatness and its weakness. Bousset 
vindicates Jesus, not for history, but for Protestantism, by making 
Him the heroic representative of a deeply religious acceptance 
of the goods of life amid an apocalyptic world. His study 
is not unhistorical, but supra-historical. The spirit of Jesus was in 
fact world-accepting in the sense that through the experience 
of centuries it advanced historically to the acceptance of the 
world, since nothing can appear phenomenally which is not in 
some sense ideally present from the first. But the teaching of the 
historical Jesus was purely and exclusively world-renouncing. If, 
therefore, the problem which Bousset has put on the blackboard 
for the eschatological school to solve is to be successfully solved, 
the solution is to be sought on other, more objectively historical, 

That the decision of the question whether Jesus' preaching of 
the Kingdom of God is wholly eschatological or only partly 
eschatological, is primarily to be sought in His ethical teaching, 
is recognised by all the critics of Baldensperger and Weiss. They 
differ only in the importance which they assign to eschatology. But 
no other writer has grasped the problem as clearly as Bousset. 

The Parisian Ehrhardt emphasises eschatology very strongly 
in his work " The Fundamental Character of the Preaching of Jesus 
in Relation to the Messianic Hopes of His People and His own 
Messianic Consciousness." l Nevertheless he asserts the presence 
of a twofold ethic in Jesus' teaching : eschatology did not attempt 
to evacuate everything else of all value, but allowed the natural 
and ethical goods of this world to hold their place, as belonging to 
a world of thought which resisted its encroachments. 

A much more negative attitude is taken up by Albert Reville 
in his Jesus de Nazareth? According to him both Apocalyptic 
and Messianism are foreign bodies in the teaching of Jesus which 
have been forced into it by the pressure of contemporary thought. 
Jesus would never of His own motion have taken up the role of 

Wendt, too, in the second edition of his Lehre Jesu, which 
appeared in 1903, held in the main to the fundamental idea of 
the first, the 1890, edition ; namely, that Jesus in view of His purely 
religious relation to God could not do otherwise than transform, 
from within outwards, the traditional conceptions, even though 

1 Der Grundcharakter der Ethik Jesu im Verhdltnis zu den, messianischen 
Hoffnungen seines Volkes und zu seinem eigenen Messiasbewusstsein. Freiburg, 
1895, 119 pp. See also his inaugural dissertation of 1896, Le Principe de la morale 
de J6sus. Paris, 1896. 

A. K. Rogers, The Life and Teachings of Jesus ; a Critical Analysis, etc. (London 
and New York, 1894), regards Jesus' teaching as purely ethical, refusing to admit any 
eschatology at all. 2 Paris, 2 vols., 500 and 512 pp. 


they seem to be traceable in their actual contemporary form on 
the surface of His teaching. He had already, in 1893, in the 
Christliche Welt clearly expounded, and defended against Weiss, his 
view of the Kingdom of God as already present for the thought 
of Jesus. 

The effect which Baldensperger and Weiss had upon Weiffen- 
bach 1 was to cause him to bring out in full strength the apologetic 
aspect which had been somewhat held in check in his work of 
1873 by the thoroughness of his exegesis. The apocalyptic of 
this younger school, which was no longer willing to believe that in 
the mouth of Jesus the Parousia meant nothing more than an 
issuing from death clothed with power, is on all grounds to be 
rejected. It assumes, since this expectation was not fulfilled, an 
error on the part of Jesus. It is better to rest content with not 
being able to see quite clearly. 

Protected by a similar armour, the successive editions of 
Bernhard Weiss's Life of Jesus went their way unmolested down 
to 1902. 

Not with an apologetic purpose, but on the basis of an original 
religious view, Titius, in his work on the New Testament doctrine 
of blessedness, develops the teaching of Jesus concerning the 
Kingdom of God as a present good. 2 

In the same year, 1895, appeared E. Haupt's work on "The 
Eschatological Sayings of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels." 3 In 
contradistinction to Bousset he takes as his starting-point the 
eschatological passages, examining each separately and modulating 
them back to the Johannine key. It is so delicately and ingeniously 
done that the reading of the book is an aesthetic pleasure which 
makes one in the end quite forget the apologetic motif in order to 
surrender oneself completely to the author's mystical system of 
religious thought. 

It is, indeed, not the least service of the eschatological school 
that it compels modern theology, which is so much preoccupied 
with history, to reveal what is its own as its own. Eschatology 
makes it impossible to attribute modern ideas to Jesus and then 
by way of " New Testament Theology " take them back from Him 
as a loan, as even Ritschl not so long ago did with such naivett. 
Johannes Weiss, in cutting himself loose, as an historian, from 
Ritschl, and recognising that "the real roots of Ritschl's ideas 

1 W. Weiffenbach, Die Frage der Wiederkunft Jesu. (The Question concerning 
the Second Coming of Jesus. ) Friedberg, 1901. 

2 A. Titius, Die neutestamentliche Lehre -von der Seligkeit und ihre Bedeutung 
fur die Gegenwart. I. Teil : Jesu Lehre -vom Reich Gottes. (The New Testament 

Doctrine of Blessedness and its Significance for the Present. Pt. I. , Jesus' Doctrine 
of the Kingdom of God.) Arthur Titius, now Professor at Kiel, was born in 1864 
at Sensburg. 

3 Die eschalologischen Aussagcn Jesu in den synoptischen Evangelien, 167 pp. 
Erich Haupt, now Professor in Halle, was born in 1841 at Stralsund. 


are to be found in Kant and the illuminist theology," l introduced 
the last decisive phase of the process of separation between 
historical and " modern " theology. Before the advent of eschato- 
logy, critical theology was, in the last resort, without a principle of 
discrimination, since it possessed no reagent capable of infallibly 
separating out modern ideas on the one hand and genuinely ancient 
New Testament ideas on the other. The application of the 
criterion has now begun. What will be the issue, the future 
alone can show. 

But even now we can recognise that the separation was not 
only of advantage to historical theology ; for modern theology, the 
manifestation of the modern spirit as it really is, was still more 
important. Only when it became conscious of its own inmost 
essence and of its right to exist, only when it freed itself from 
its illegitimate historical justification, which, leaping over the 
centuries, appealed directly to an historical exposition of the New 
Testament, only then could it unfold its full wealth of ideas, which 
had been hitherto root-bound by a false historicity. It was not by 
chance that in Bousset's reply a certain affirmation of life, something 
expressive of the genius of Protestantism, cries aloud as never before 
in any theological work of this generation, or that in Haupt's work 
German mysticism interweaves its mysterious harmonies with the 
Johannine motif. The contribution of Protestantism to the inter- ' 
pretation of the world had never been made so manifest in any 
work prior to Weiss's. The modern spirit is here breaking in ; 
wreaths of foam upon the sharp cliffs of the rock-bound eschato- 
logical world-view of Jesus. To put it more prosaically, modern 
theology is at last about to become sincere. But this is so far only 
a prophecy of the future. 

If we are to speak of the present it must be fully admitted that 
even historical science, when it desires to continue the history 
of Christianity beyond the life of Jesus, cannot help protesting 
against the one-sidedness of the eschatological world of thought of 
the " Founder." It finds itself obliged to distinguish in the thought 
of Jesus " permanent elements and transitory elements " which, being 
interpreted, means eschatological and not essentially eschatological 
materials ; otherwise it can get no farther. For if Jesus' world of 
thought was wholly and exclusively eschatological, there can only 
have arisen out of it, as Reimarus long ago maintained, an ex- 
clusively eschatological primitive Christianity. But how a com- 
munity of that kind could give birth to the Greek non-eschatological 
theology no Church history and no history of dogma has so far 
shown. Instead of that they all Harnack, with the most consum- 
mate historical ability lay down from the very first, alongside 

1 Cf. the preface to the 2nd ed. of Joh. Weiss's Die Predigt Jesu vom Reiche 
Gottes. Gottingen, 1900. 


of the main line intended for " contemporary views " traffic, a 
relief line for the accommodation of through trains of " non-tempor- 
ally limited ideas " ; and at the point where primitive Christian 
eschatology becomes of less importance they switch off the train to 
the relief line, after slipping the carriages which are not intended 
to go beyond that station. 

This procedure has now been rendered impossible for them 
by Weiss, who leaves no place in the teaching of Jesus for 
anything but the single-line traffic of eschatology. If, during the 
last fifteen years, any one had attempted to carry out in a work on 
a large scale the plan of Strauss and Renan, linking up the history 
of the life of Jesus with the history of early Christianity, and New 
Testament theology with the early history of dogma, the immense 
difficulties which Weiss had raised without suspecting it, in the 
course of his sixty-seven pages, would have become clearly apparent. 
The problem of the Hellenisation of Christianity took on quite a 
new aspect when the trestle bridge of modern ideas connecting the 
eschatological early Christianity with Greek theology broke down 
under the weight of the newly-discovered material, and it became 
necessary to seek within the history itself an explanation of the 
way in which an exclusively eschatological system of ideas came 
to admit Greek influences, and what is much more difficult 
to explain how Hellenism, on its part, found any point of contact 
with an eschatological sect. 

The new problem is as yet hardly recognised, much less grappled 
with. The few who since Weiss's time have sought to pass over 
from the life of Jesus to early Christianity, have acted like men 
who find themselves on an ice-floe which is slowly dividing into 
two pieces, and who leap from one to the other before the cleft 
grows too wide. Harnack, in his " What is Christianity ? " almost 
entirely ignores the contemporary limitations of Jesus' teaching, 
and starts out with a Gospel which carries him down without 
difficulty to the year 1899. The anti-historical violence of this 
procedure is, if possible, still more pronounced in Wernle. The 
"Beginnings of our Religion" 1 begins by putting the Jewish 
eschatology in a convenient posture for the coming operation by 
urging that the idea of the Messiah, since there was no appropriate 
place for it in connexion with the Kingdom of God or the new 
Earth, had become obsolete for the Jews themselves. 

The inadequateness of the Messianic idea for the purposes of 

Jesus is therefore self-evident. "His whole life long" as if we 

knew any more of it than the few months of His public ministry ! 

" He laboured to give a new and higher content to the Messianic 

title which He had adopted." In the course of this endeavour He 

1 Tubingen-Leipzig, 1901, 410 pp. ; 2nd ed., 1904. Paul Wernle, now Professor 
of Church History at Basle, was born in Zurich, 1872. 


discarded "the Messiah of the Zealots" by that is meant the 
political non- transcendent Messianic ideal. As if we had any 
knowledge of the existence of such an ideal in the time of Jesus ! 
The statements of Josephus suggest, and the conduct of Pilate at 
the trial of Jesus confirms the conclusion, that in none of the risings 
did a claimant of the Messiahship come forward, and this should 
be proof enough that there did not exist at that time a political 
eschatology alongside of the transcendental, and indeed it could 
not on inner grounds subsist alongside of it. That was, after 
all, the thing which Weiss had shown most clearly ! 

Jesus, therefore, had dismissed the Messiah of the Zealots ; He 
had now to turn Himself into the " waiting " Messiah of the Rabbis. 
Yet He does not altogether accept this role, for He works actively 
as Messiah. His struggle with the Messianic conception could not 
but end in transforming it. This transformed conception is intro- 
duced by Jesus to the people at His entry into Jerusalem, since His 
choice of the ass to bear Him inscribed as a motto, so to speak, 
over the demonstration the prophecy of the Messiah who should 
be a bringer of peace. A few days later He gives the Scribes to 
understand by His enigmatic words with reference to Mark xii. 37, 
that His Messiahship has nothing to do with Davidic descent and 
all that that implied. 

The Kingdom of God was not, of course, for Him, according 
to Wernle, a purely eschatological entity ; He saw in many events 
evidence that it had already dawned. Wernle's only real concession 
to the eschatological school is the admission that the Kingdom 
always remained for Jesus a supernatural entity. 

The belief in the presence of the Kingdom was, it seems, only 
a phase in the development of Jesus. When confronted with 
growing opposition He abandoned this belief again, and the super- 
earthly future character of the Kingdom was all that remained. 
At the end of His career Jesus establishes a connexion between 
the Messianic conception, in its final transformation, and the 
Kingdom, which had retained its eschatological character; He 
goes to His death for the Messiahship in its new significance, but 
He goes on believing in His speedy return as the Son of Man. 
This expectation of His Parousia as Son of Man, which only emerges 
immediately before His exit from the world when it can no longer 
embarrass the author in his account of the preaching of Jesus is 
the only point in which Jesus does not overcome the inadequacy of 
the Messianic idea with which He had to deal. " At this point 
the fantastic conception of Late Judaism, the magically transformed 
world of the ancient popular belief, thrusts itself incongruously 
into Jesus' great and simple consciousness of His vocation." 

Thus Wernle takes with him only so much of Apocalyptic as he 
can safely carry over into early Christianity. Once he has got 


safely across, he drags the rest over after him. He shows that in 
and with the titles and expressions borrowed from apocalyptic 
thought, Messiah, Son of God, Son of Man, which were all at 
bottom so inappropriate to Jesus, early Christianity slipped in again 
"either the old ideas or new ones misunderstood." In pointing 
this out he cannot refrain from the customary sigh of regret these 
apocalyptic titles and expressions " were from the first a misfortune 
for the new religion." One may well ask how Wernle has dis- 
covered in the preaching of Jesus anything that can be called, 
historically, a new religion, and what would have become of this 
new religion apart from its apocalyptic hopes and its apocalyptic 
dogma ? We answer : without its intense eschatological hope the 
Gospel would have perished from the earth, crushed by the weight 
of historic catastrophes. But, as it was, by the mighty power of 
evoking faith which lay in it, eschatology made good in the 
darkest times Jesus' sayings about the imperishability of His 
words, and died as soon as these sayings had brought forth new 
life upon a new soil. Why then make such a complaint against it ? 
The tragedy does not consist in the modification of primitive 
Christianity by eschatology, but in the fate of eschatology itself, 
which has preserved for us all that is most precious in Jesus, 
but must itself wither, because He died upon the cross with a loud 
cry, despairing of bringing in the new heaven and the new earth 
that is the real tragedy. And not a tragedy to be dismissed with 
a theologian's sigh, but a liberating and life-giving influence, like 
every great tragedy. For in its death-pangs eschatology bore to 
the Greek genius a wonder-child, the mystic, sensuous, Early- 
Christian doctrine of immortality, and consecrated Christianity as 
the religion of immortality to take the place of the slowly dying 
civilisation of the ancient world. 

But it is not only those who want to find a way from the 
preaching of Jesus to early Christianity who are conscious of the 
peculiar difficulties raised by the recognition of its purely Jewish 
eschatological character, but also those who wish to reconstruct 
the connexion backwards from Jesus to Judaism. For example, 
Wellhausen and Schiirer repudiate the results arrived at by the 
eschatological school, which, on its part, bases itself upon their re- 
searches into Late Judaism. Wellhausen, in his "Israelitish and 
Jewish History," l gives a picture of Jesus which lifts Him out of 
the Jewish frame altogether. The Kingdom which He desires to 
found becomes a present spiritual entity. To the Jewish eschatology 

1 Israelitische und judische Geschichte, ist ed. , 1894, pp. 163-168; 2nd 
ed., 1895, PP- 198-204; 3rd ed., 1897; 4 thed., 1901, pp. 380-394. See also his 
Skizzen (Sketches), pp. 6, 187 ff. 

See also J. Wellhausen, Das Evangelium Marci, 1903, and ed., 1909 ; Das Evan- 
gelium Matthdi, 1904 ; Das Evangelium Lucae, 1904. 

Julius Wellhausen, now Professor at Gottingen, was born in 1844 at Hameln. 


His preaching stands in a quite external relation, for what was in 
His mind was rather a fellowship of spiritual men engaged in seek- 
ing a higher righteousness. He did not really desire to be the 
Messiah, and in His inmost heart had renounced the hopes of His 
people. If He called Himself Messiah, it was in view of a higher 
Messianic ideal. For the people His acceptance of the Messiah- 
ship denoted the supersession of their own very differently coloured 
expectation. The transcendental events become immanent. In 
regard to the apocalyptic Judgment of the World, he retains only 
the sermon preserved by John about the inward and constant 
process of separation. 

Although not to the same extent, Schitrer also, in his view of 
the teaching of Jesus, is strongly influenced by the Fourth Gospel. 
In an inaugural discourse of 1903 x he declares that in his opinion 
there is a certain opposition between Judaism and the preaching of 
Jesus, since the latter contains something absolutely new. His 
Messiahship is only the temporally limited expression of a unique, 
generally ethical, consciousness of being a child of God, which has 
a certain analogy with the relation of all God's children to their 
Heavenly Father. The reason for His reserve in regard to His 
Messiahship was, according to Schiirer, Jesus' fear of kindling 
" political enthusiasm " ; from the same motive He repudiates in 
Mark xii. 37 all claim to be the Messiah of David's line. The 
ideas of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God at least underwent 
a transformation in His use of them. If in His earlier preaching 
He only announces the Kingdom as something future, in His later 
preaching He emphasises the thought that in its beginnings it is 
already present. 

That it is precisely the representatives of the study of Late 
Judaism who lift Jesus out of the Late-Jewish world of thought, is 
not in itself a surprising phenomenon. It is only an expression of 
the fact that here something new and creative enters into an un- 
creative age, and of the clear consciousness that this Personality 
cannot be resolved into a complex of contemporary ideas. The 
problem of which they are conscious is the same as Bousset's. 
But the question cannot be avoided whether the violent separation 
of Jesus from Late Judaism is a real solution, or whether the very 
essence of Jesus' creative power does not consist, not in taking out 
one or other of the parts of the eschatological machinery, but in 
doing what no one had previously done, namely, in setting the 
whole machinery in motion by the application of an ethico-religious 
motive power. To perceive the unsatisfactoriness of the trans- 
formation hypothesis it is only necessary to think of all the 

1 Emil Schiirer, Das messianische Selbstbewusstsein Jesu Christi. (The Messianic 
Self-consciousness of Jesus Christ.) 1903, 24 pp. 

According to J. Meinhold, too, in Jesus und das alte Testament (Jesus and the Old 
Testament), 1896, Jesus did not purpose to be the Messiah of Israel. 


conditions which would have to be realised in order to make it 
possible to trace, even in general outline, the evidence of such a 
transformation in the Gospel narrative. 

All these solutions of the eschatological question start from the 
teaching of Jesus, and it was, indeed, from this point of view that 
Johannes Weiss had stated the problem. The final decision of the 
question is not, however, to be found here, but in the examination 
of the whole course of Jesus' life. On which of the two pre- 
suppositions, the assumption that His life was completely dominated 
by eschatology, or the assumption that He repudiated it, do we find 
it easiest to understand the connexion of events in the life of 
Jesus, His fate, and the emergence of the expectation of the 
Parousia in the community of His disciples ? 

The works which in the examination of the connexion of events 
follow a critical procedure are few and far between. The average 
" Life of Jesus " shows in this respect an inconceivable stupidity. 
The first, after Bruno Bauer, to apply critical methods to this point 
was Volkmar ; between Volkmar and Wrede the only writer who 
here showed himself critical, that is sceptical, was W. Brandt. 
His work on the " Gospel History " l appeared in 1893, a year after 
Johannes Weiss's work and in the same year as Bousset's reply. 
In this book the question of the absolute, or only partial, 
dominance of eschatology is answered on the ground of the general 
course of Jesus' life. 

Brandt goes to work with a truly Cartesian scepticism. He 
first examines all the possibilities that the reported event did not 
happen in the way in which it is reported before he is satisfied that 
it really did happen in that way. Before he can accept the state- 
ment that Jesus died with a loud outcry, he has to satisfy his 
critical conscience by the following consideration : " The statement 
regarding this cry, is, so far as I can see, to be best explained by 
supposing that it was really uttered." The burial of Jesus owes its 
acceptance as history to the following reflection. " We hold Joseph 
of Arimathea to be an historical person ; but the only reason which 
the narrative has for preserving his name is that he buried Jesus. 
Therefore the name guarantees the fact." 

But the moment the slightest possibility presents itself that the 
event happened in a different way, Brandt declines to be held by 
any seductions of the text, and makes his own " probably " into an 

1 Die evangelische Geschichte und der Ursprung des Christentums auf Grund 
einer Kritik der Berichte iiber das Leiden und die Auferstehung Jesu. (The Gospel 
History and the Origin of Christianity considered in the light of a critical investigation 
of the Reports of the Suffering and Resurrection of Jesus. ) By Dr. W. Brandt, Leipzig, 
1893, 588 pp. 

Wilhelm Brandt was born in 1855 of German parents in Amsterdam and became 
a pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church. In 1891 he resigned this office and studied 
in Strassburg and Berlin. In 1893 be was appointed to lecture in General History of 
Religion as a member of the theological faculty of Amsterdam. 


historical fact. For instance, he thinks it unlikely that Peter was 
the only one to smite with the sword ; so the history is immediately 
rectified by the phrase "that sword-stroke was doubtless not the 
only one, other disciples also must have pressed to the front." 
That Jesus was first condemned by the Sanhedrin at a night-sitting, 
and that Pilate in the morning confirmed the sentence, seems to 
him on various grounds impossible. It is therefore decided that 
we have here to do only with a combination devised by "a 
Christian from among the Gentiles." In this way the " must have 
been's " and " may have been's " exercise a veritable reign of terror 
throughout the book. 

Yet that does not prevent the general contribution of the book 
to criticism from being a very remarkable one. Especially in 
regard to the trial of Jesus, it brings to light a whole series of 
previously unsuspected problems. Brandt is the first writer since 
Bauer who dares to assert that it is an historical absurdity to 
suppose that Pilate, when the people demanded from him the 
condemnation of Jesus, answered : " No, but I will release you another 
instead of Him." 

As his starting-point he takes the complete contrast between 
the Johannine and Synoptic traditions, and the inherent im- 
possibility of the former is proved in detail. The Synoptic 
tradition goes back to Mark alone. His Gospel is, as was also 
held by Bruno Bauer, and afterwards by Wrede, a sufficient basis 
for the whole tradition. But this Gospel is not a purely historical 
source, it is also, and in a very much larger degree, poetic invention. 
Of the real history of Jesus but little is preserved in the Gospels. 
Many of the so-called sayings of the Lord are certainly to be 
pronounced spurious, a few are probably to be recognised as 
genuine. But the theory of the " poetic invention " of the earliest 
Evangelist is not consistently carried out, because Brandt does not 
take as his criterion, as Wrede did later, a definite principle on 
which Mark is supposed to have constructed his Gospel, but decides 
each case separately. Consequently the most important feature of 
the work lies in the examination of detail. 

Jesus died and was believed to have risen again : this is the 
only absolutely certain information that we have regarding His 
" Life." And accordingly this is the crucial instance for testing 
the worth of the Gospel tradition. It is only on the basis of an 
elaborate criticism of the accounts of the suffering and resurrection 
of Jesus that Brandt undertakes to give a sketch of the life of 
Jesus as it really was. 

What was, then, so far as appears from His life, Jesus' attitude 
towards eschatology? It was, according to Brandt, a self- 
contradictory attitude. " He believed in the near approach of the 
Kingdom of God, and yet, as though its time were still far distant, 



He undertakes the training of disciples. He was a teacher and 
yet is said to have held Himself to be the Messiah." The duality 
lies not so much in the teaching itself; it is rather a cleavage 
between His conviction and consciousness on the one hand, and 
His public attitude on the other. 

To this observation we have to add a second, namely, that 
Jesus cannot possibly during the last few days at Jerusalem have 
come forward as Messiah. Critics, with the exception, of course, 
of Bruno Bauer, had only cursorily touched on this question. The 
course of events in the last few days in Jerusalem does not at all 
suggest a Messianic claim on the part of Jesus, indeed it directly 
contradicts it. Only imagine what would have happened if Jesus 
had come before the people with such claims, or even if such 
thoughts had been so much as attributed to Him ! On the other 
side, of course, we have the report of the Messianic entry, in which 
Jesus not only accepted the homage offered to Him as Messiah, 
but went out of His way to invite it ; and the people must therefore 
from that point onwards have regarded him as Messiah. In 
consequence of this contradiction in the narrative, all Lives of 
Jesus slur over the passage, and seem to represent that the people 
sometimes suspected Jesus' Messiahship, sometimes did not suspect 
it, or they adopt some other similar expedient. Brandt, however, 
rigorously drew the logical inference. Since Jesus did not stand 
and preach in the temple as Messiah, He cannot have entered 
Jerusalem as Messiah. Therefore "the well-known Messianic 
entry is not historical." That is also implied by the manner of 
His arrest. If Jesus had come forward as a Messianic claimant, 
He would not simply have been arrested by the civil police ; 
Pilate would have had to suppress a revolt by military force. 

This admission implies the surrender of one of the most 
cherished prejudices of the anti-eschatological school, namely, that 
Jesus raised the thoughts of the people to a higher conception of 
His Messiahship, and consequently to a spiritual view of the 
Kingdom of God, or at least tried so to raise them. But we 
cannot assume this to have been His intention, since He does not 
allow the multitude to suspect His Messiahship. Thus the con- 
ception of a " transformation " becomes untenable as a means of 
reconciling eschatological and non-eschatological elements. And 
as a matter of fact that is the stroke of critical genius in the 
book Brandt lets the two go forward side by side without any 
attempt at reconciliation ; for the reconciliation which would be 
possible if one had only to deal with the teaching of Jesus becomes 
impossible when one has to take in His life as well. For Brandt 
the life of Jesus is the life of a Galilaean teacher who, in con- 
sequence of the eschatology with which the period was so fully 
charged, was for a time and to a certain extent set at variance with 


Himself and who met His fate for that reason. This conception is at 
bottom identical with Kenan's. But the stroke of genius in leaving 
the gap between eschatological and non-eschatological elements 
unbridged sets this work, as regards its critical foundation and 
historical presentment, high above the smooth romance of the latter. 

The course of Jesus' life, according to Brandt, was therefore as 
follows : Jesus was a teacher ; not only so, but He took disciples in 
order to train them to be teachers. " This is in itself sufficient to 
show there was a period in His life in which His work was not 
determined by the thought of the immediate nearness of the decisive 
moment. He sought men, therefore, who might become His fellow- 
workers. He began to train disciples who, if He did not Himself 
live to see the Day of the Lord, would be able after His death to 
carry on the work of educating the people along the lines which He 
had laid down." " Then there occurred in Judaea an event of which 
the rumour spread like wildfire throughout Palestine. A prophet 
arose a thing which had not happened for centuries a man who 
came forward as an envoy of God ; and this prophet proclaimed 
the immediate coming of the reign of God : ' Repent that ye may 
escape the wrath of God.'" The Baptist's great sermon on 
repentance falls, according to Brandt, in the last period of the 
life of Jesus. We must assume, he thinks, that before John came 
forward in this dramatic fashion he had been a teacher, and at 
that period of his life had numbered Jesus among his pupils. 
Nevertheless his life previous to his public appearance must have 
been a rather obscure one. When he suddenly launched out 
into this eschatological preaching of repentance "he seemed like 
an Elijah who had long ago been rapt away from the earth and 
now appeared once more." 

From this point onwards Jesus had to concentrate His activity, 
for the time was short. If He desired to effect anything and 
so far as possible to make the people, before the coming of the 
end, obedient to the will of God, He must make Jerusalem the 
starting-point of His work. " Only from this central position, and 
only with the help of an authority which had at its disposal the 
whole synagogal system, could He effect within a short time much, 
perhaps all, of what was needful. So He determined on journeying 
to Jerusalem with this end in view, and with the fixed resolve there 
to carry into effect the will of God." 

The journey to Jerusalem was not therefore a pilgrimage of 
death. " So long as we are obliged to take the Gospels as a true 
reflection of the history of Jesus we must recognise with Weizsacker 
that Jesus did not go to Jerusalem in order to be put to death 
there, nor did He go to keep the Feast. Both suppositions are 
excluded by the vigour of his action in Jerusalem, and the bright 
colours of hope with which the picture of that period was painted 


in the recollection of those who had witnessed it." We cannot 
therefore regard the predictions of the Passion as historical, or " at 
most we might perhaps suppose that Jesus in the consciousness of 
His innocence may have said to His disciples : * If I should die, 
may God for the sake of My blood be merciful to you and to the 
people.' " 

He went to Jerusalem, then, to fulfil the will of God. " It was 
God's will that the preaching by which alone the people could be 
inwardly renewed and made into a real people of God should be 
recognised and organised by the national and religious authorities. 
To effect this through the existing authorities, or to realise it in 
some other way, such was the task which Jesus felt Himself called 
on to perform." With his eyes upon this goal, behind which lay 
the near approach of the Kingdom of God, He set His face towards 

" But nothing could be more natural than that out of the 
belief that He was engaged in a work which God had willed, there 
should arise an ever stronger belief in His personal vocation." It 
was thus that the Messianic consciousness entered into Jesus' 
thoughts. His conviction of His vocation had nothing to do with 
a political Messiahship, it was only gradually from the development 
of events that He was able to draw the inference that He was 
destined to the Messianic sovereignty, " it may have become more 
and more clear to Him, but it did not become a matter of absolute 
certainty." It was only amid opposition, in deep dejection, in 
consequence of a powerful inner reaction against circumstances, 
that He came to recognise Himself with full conviction as the 
anointed of God. 

When it began to be bruited about that He was the Messiah, 
the rulers had Him arrested and handed Him over to the Procurator. 
Judas the traitor " had only been a short time among His followers, 
and only in those unquiet days at Jerusalem when the Master 
had scarcely any opportunity for private intercourse with him and 
for learning really to know him. He had not been with Jesus 
during the Galilaean days, and Jesus was consequently nothing 
more to him than the future ruler of the Kingdom of God." 

After His death the disciples "could not, unless something 
occurred to restore their faith, continue to believe in His Messiah- 
ship." Jesus had taken away with Him in His death the hopes which 
they had set upon Him, especially as He had not foretold His death, 
much less His resurrection. " At first, therefore, it would be all in 
favour of His memory if the disciples remembered that He Himself 
had never openly and definitely declared Himself to be the Messiah." 
They returned to Galilee. "Simon Peter, and perhaps the son of 
Zebedee, who afterwards ranked along with him as a pillar of the 
Church, resolved to continue that preparation for their work which 


had been interrupted by their journey to Jerusalem. It seemed 
to them that if they were once more on Galilaean soil the days which 
they had spent in the inhospitable Jerusalem would cease to oppress 
their spirits with the leaden weight of sorrowful recollection. . . . 
One might almost say that they had to make up their minds to 
give up Jesus the author of the attempt to take Jerusalem by storm ; 
but for Jesus the gracious gentle Galilaean teacher they kept a warm 
place in their hearts." So love watched over the dead until hope 
was rekindled by the Old Testament promises and came to re- 
awaken Him. "The first who, in an enthusiastic vision, saw 
this wish fulfilled was Simon Peter." This "resurrection" has 
nothing to do with the empty grave, which, like the whole narrative 
of the Jerusalem appearances, only came into the tradition later. 
The first appearances took place in Galilee. It was there that the 
Church was founded. 

This attempt to grasp the connexion of events in the life of Jesus 
from a purely historical point of view is one of the most important 
that have ever been made in this department of study. If it had 
been put in a purely constructive form, this criticism would have 
made an impression unequalled by any other Life of Jesus since 
Renan's. But in that case it would have lost that free play of 
ideas which the critical recognition of the unbridged gap admits. 
The eschatological question is not, it is true, decided by this in- 
vestigation. It shows the impossibility of the previous attempts 
to establish a present Messiahship of Jesus, but it shows, too, that 
the questions, which are really historical questions, concerning the 
public attitude of Jesus, are far from being solved by asserting the 
exclusively eschatological character of His preaching, but that new 
difficulties are always presenting themselves. 

It was perhaps not so much through these general ethico-religious 
historical discussions as in consequence of certain exegetical prob- 
lems which unexpectedly came to light that theologians became 
conscious that the old conception of the teaching of Jesus was not 
tenable, or was only tenable by violent means. On the assumption 
of the modified eschatological character of His teaching, Jesus is 
still a teacher ; that is to say, He speaks in order to be understood, 
in order to 'explain, and has no secrets. But if His teaching is 
throughout eschatological, then He is a prophet, who points in 
mysterious speech to a coming age, whose words conceal secrets 
and offer enigmas, and are not intended to be understood always 
and by everybody. Attention was now turned to a number of 
passages in which the question arises whether Jesus had any secrets 
to keep or not. 

This question presents itself in connexion with the very earliest 
of the parables. In Mark iv. n, 12 it is distinctly stated that the 
parables spoken in the immediate context embody the mystery of the 


Kingdom of God in an obscure and unintelligible form, in order that 
those for whom it is not intended may hear without understanding. 
But this is not borne out by the character of the parables themselves, 
since we at least find in them the thought of the constant and 
victorious development of the Kingdom from small beginnings to 
its perfect development. After the passage had had to suffer 
many things from constantly renewed attempts to weaken down 
or explain away the statement, Jiilicher, in his work upon the 
Parables, 1 released it from these tortures, left Jesus the parables 
in their natural meaning, and put down this unintelligible saying 
about the purpose of the parabolic form of discourse to the account 
of the Evangelist. He would rather, to use his own expression, 
remove a little stone from the masonry of tradition than a diamond 
from the imperishable crown of honour which belongs to Jesus. 
Yes, but, for all that, it is an arbitrary assumption which damages 
the Marcan hypothesis more than will be readily admitted. What 
was the reason, or what was the mistake which led the earliest 
Evangelist to form so repellent a theory regarding the purpose of 
the parables ? Is the progressive exaggeration of the contrast 
between veiled and open speech, to which Jiilicher often appeals, 
sufficient to account for it ? How can the Evangelist have invented 
such a theory, when he immediately proceeds to invalidate it by 
the rationalising, rather commonplace explanation of the parable 
of the Sower ? 

Bernhard Weiss, not being so much under the influence of modern 
theology as to feel bound to recognise the paedagogic purpose 
in Jesus, gives the text its due, and admits that Jesus intended 
to use the parabolic form of discourse as a means of separating 
receptive from unreceptive hearers. He does not say, however, 
what kind of secret, intelligible only to the predestined, was con- 
cealed in these parables which seem clear as daylight. 

That was before Johannes Weiss had stated the eschatological 
question. Bousset, in his criticism of the eschatological theory, 2 
is obliged to fall back upon Jiilicher's method in order to justify 
the rationalising modern way of explaining these parables as point- 
ing to a Kingdom of God actually present. It is true Jiilicher's 
explanation of the way in which the theory arose does not satisfy 
him; he prefers to assume that the basis of this false theory of 
Mark's is to be found in the fact that the parables concerning the 
presence of the Kingdom remained unintelligible to the con- 
temporaries of Jesus. But we may fairly ask that he should point 
out the connecting link between that failure to understand and 

1 Ad. Julicher, Die Gleichnisreden Jesu. Vol. i., 1888. The substance of it had 
already been published in a different form. Freiburg, 1886. 

Adolf Julicher, at present Professor in Marburg, was born in 1857 at Falkenberg. 

2 W. Bousset, Jesu Predigt in ihrem Gegensatz sum Judentum. Gottineen, 


the invention of a saying like this, which implies so very much 
more ! 

If there are no better grounds than that for calling in question 
Mark's theory of the parables, then the parables of Mark iv., the 
only ones from which it is possible to extract the admission of a 
present Kingdom of God, remain what they were before, namely, 

The second volume of Jiilicher's " Parables " l found the eschato- 
logical question already in possession of the field. And, as a 
matter of fact, Jiilicher does abandon "the heretofore current 
method of modernising the parables," which finds in one after 
another of them only its own favourite conception of the slow and 
gradual development of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of 
Heaven is for Jiilicher a completely supernatural idea ; it is to be 
realised without human help and independently of the attitude of 
men, by the sole power of God. The parables of the mustard 
seed and the leaven are not intended to teach the disciples the 
necessity and wisdom of a development occupying a considerable 
time, but are designed to make clear and vivid to them the idea 
that the period of perfecting and fulfilment will follow with super- 
earthly necessity upon that of imperfection. 

But in general the new problem plays no very special part in 
Jiilicher's exposition. He takes up, it might almost be said, in 
relation to the parables, too independent a position as a religious 
thinker to care to understand them against the background of a 
wholly different world-view, and does not hesitate to exclude from 
the authentic discourses of Jesus whatever does not suit him. This 
is the fate, for instance, of the parable of the wicked husbandmen 
in Mark xii. He finds in it traits which read like vatidnia ex eventu, 
and sees therefore in the whole thing only a prophetically expressed 
" view of the history as it presented itself to an average man who 
had been present at the crucifixion of Jesus and nevertheless 
believed in Him as the Son of God." 

But this absolute method of explanation, independent of any 
traditional order of time or events, makes it impossible for the 
author to draw from the parables any general system of teaching. 
He makes no distinction between the Galilaean mystical parables 
and the polemical, menacing Jerusalem parables. For instance, 
he supposes the parable of the Sower, which according to Mark 
was the very first of Jesus' parabolic discourses, to have been 
spoken as the result of a melancholy review of a preceding period 

1 Ad. Jiilicher, Die Gleichnisreden Jesu t and pt. (Exposition of the Parables in 
the first three Gospels.) Freiburg, 1899, 641 pp. 

Chr. A. Bugge, Die Hauptparabeln Jesu (The most important Parables of Jesus), 
German, from the Norwegian, Giessen, 1903, rightly remarks on the obscure and 
inexplicable character of some of the parables, but makes no attempt to deal with it 
from the historical point of view. 


of work, and as expressing the conviction, stamped upon His mind 
by the facts, " that it was in accordance with higher laws that the 
word of God should have to reckon with defeats as well as victories." 
Accordingly he adopts in the main the explanation which the 
Evangelist gives in Mark iv. 13-20. The parable of the seed 
growing secretly is turned to account in favour of the " present " 
Kingdom of God. 

Jiilicher has an incomparable power of striking fire out of every 
one of the parables, but the flame is of a different colour from that 
which it showed when Jesus pronounced the parables before the 
enchanted multitude. The problem posed by Johannes Weiss in 
connexion with the teaching of Jesus is treated by Jiilicher only so 
far as it has a direct interest for the creative independence of his 
own religious thought. 

Alongside of the parabolic discourses of Mark iv. we have now 
to place, as a newly discovered problem, the discourse at the sending 
out of the Twelve in Matt. x. Up to the time of Johannes Weiss 
it had been possible to rest content with transplanting the gloomy 
sayings regarding persecutions to the last period of Jesus' life ; but 
now there was the further difficulty to be met that while so hasty 
a proclamation of the Kingdom of God is quite reconcilable with 
an exclusively eschatological character of the preaching of the 
Kingdom, the moment this is at all minimised it becomes un- 
intelligible, not to mention the fact that in this case nothing can 
be made of the saying about the immediate coming of the Son of 
Man in Matt. x. 23. As though he felt the stern eye of old 
Reimarus upon him, Bousset hastens in a footnote to throw over- 
board the whole report of the mission of the Twelve as an " obscure 
and unintelligible tradition." Not content with that, he adds: 
"Perhaps the whole narrative is merely an expansion of some 
direction about missionising given by Jesus to the disciples in view 
of a later time." Before, it was only the discourse which was 
unhistorical ; now it is the whole account of the mission at least 
if we may assume that here, as is usual with theologians of all 
times, the author's real opinion is expressed in the footnote, and 
his most cherished opinion of all introduced with "perhaps." 
But how much historical material will remain to modern theologians 
in the Gospels if they are forced to abandon it wholesale from their 
objection to pure eschatology ? If all the pronouncements of this 
kind to which the representatives of the Marcan hypothesis have 
committed themselves were collected together, they would make a 
book which would be much more damaging even than that book of 
Wrede's which dropped a bomb into their midst. 

A third problem is offered by the saying in Matt. xi. 12, about 
" the violent " who, since the time of John the Baptist, " take the 
Kingdom of Heaven by force," which raises fresh difficulties for the 


exegetical art. It is true that if art sufficed, we should not have 
long to wait for the solution in this case. We should be asked to 
content ourselves with one or other of the artificial solutions with 
which exegetes have been accustomed from of old to find a way 
round this difficulty. Usually the saying is claimed as supporting 
the " presence " of the Kingdom. This is the line taken by Wendt, 
Wernle, and Arnold Meyer. 1 According to the last named it means : 
"From the days of John the Baptist it has been possible to get 
possession of the Kingdom of God ; yea, the righteous are every 
day earning it for their own." But no explanation has heretofore 
succeeded in making it in any degree intelligible how Jesus could 
date the presence of the Kingdom from the Baptist, whom in the 
same breath He places outside of the Kingdom, or why, in order 
to express so simple an idea, He uses such entirely unnatural and 
inappropriate expressions as "rape" and "wrest to themselves." 

The full difficulties of the passage are first exhibited by 
Johannes Weiss. 2 He restores it to its natural sense, according to 
which it means that since that time the Kingdom suffers, or is 
subjected to, violence, and in order to be able to understand it 
literally he has to take it in a condemnatory sense. Following 
Alexander Schweizer, 3 he sums up his interpretation in the following 
sentence : Jesus describes, and in the form of the description shows 
His condemnation of, a violent Zealotistic Messianic movement 
which has been in progress since the days of the Baptist. 4 But this 
explanation again makes Jesus express a very simple meaning in a 
very obscure phrase. And what indication is there that the sense 
is condemnatory ? Where do we hear anything more about a 
Zealotic Messianic movement, of which the Baptist formed the 
starting-point ? His preaching certainly offered no incentive to 
such a movement, and Jesus' attitude towards the Baptist is else- 
where, even in Jerusalem, entirely one of approval. Moreover, a 
condemnatory saying of this kind would not have been closed with 
the distinctive formula : " He that hath ears to hear let him hear " 
(Matt. xi. 15), which elsewhere, cf. Mark iv. 9, indicates a mystery. 

We must, therefore, accept the conclusion that we really do not 
understand the saying, that we "have not ears to hear it," that we 
do not know sufficiently well the essential character of the Kingdom 
of God, to understand why Jesus describes the coming of the 

1 Arnold Meyer, Jesu Muttersprache, 1896. P. W. Schmidt, too, in his Geschichte 
Jesu (Freiburg, 1899), defends the same interpretation, and seeks to explain this 
obscure saying by the other about the " strait gate." 

" 2 Die Predigt Jesu vom Reiche Gottes, 2nd ed., 1900, p. 192 ff. 

3 Stud. Krit., 1836, pp. 90-122. 

4 See also Die Vorstellungen vom Messias und vom Gottesreich bei den Synoftikern. 
(The Conceptions of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God in the Synoptic Gospels. ) 
By Ludwig Paul. Bonn, 1895. 130 pp. This comprehensive study discusses all 
the problems which are referred to below. Matt. xi. 12-14 is discussed under the 
heading "The Hinderers of the Kingdom of God." 


Kingdom as a doing-violence-to-it, which has been in progress since 
the days of the Baptist, especially as the hearers themselves do not 
seem to have cared, or been able, to understand what was the 
connexion of the coming with the violence ; nor do we know why 
He expects them to understand how the Baptist is identical with 

But the problem which became most prominent of all the new 
problems raised by eschatology, was the question concerning the 
Son of Man. It had become a dogma of theology that Jesus used 
the term Son of Man to veil His Messiahship ; that is to say, 
every theologian found in this term whatever meaning he attached 
to the Messiahship of Jesus, the human, humble, ethical, un- 
political, unapocalyptic, or whatever other character was held to 
be appropriate to the orthodox " transformed " Messiahship. The 
Danielic Son of Man entered into the conception only so far as it 
could do so without endangering the other characteristics. Con- 
fronted with the Similitudes of Enoch, theologians fell back upon 
the expedient of assuming them to be spurious, or at least worked- 
over in a Christian sense in the Son of Man passages, just as the 
older history of dogma got rid of the Ignatian letters, of which it 
could make nothing, by denying their genuineness. But once the 
Jewish eschatology was seriously applied to the explanation of the 
Son of Man conception, all was changed. A new dilemma presented 
itself; either Jesus used the expression, and used it in a purely 
Jewish apocalyptic sense, or He did not use it at all. 

Although Baldensperger did not state the dilemma in its full 
trenchancy, Hilgenfeld thought it necessary to defend Jesus 
against the suspicion of having borrowed His system of thought and 
His self-designation from Jewish Apocalypses. 1 Orello Cone, too, 
will not admit that the expression Son of Man has only apocalyptic 
suggestion in the mouth of Jesus, but will have it interpreted 
according to Mark ii. 10 and 28, where His pure humanity is the 
idea which is emphasised. 2 Oort holds, more logically, that Jesus 
did not use it, but that the disciples took the expression from " the 
Gospel " and put it into the mouth of Jesus. 3 

Johannes Weiss formulated the problem clearly, and proposed 
that, with the exception of the two passages where Son of Man 
means man in general, only those should be recognised in which 
the significance attached to the term in Daniel and the Apocalypses 
is demanded by the context. By so doing he set theology a 
problem calculated to keep it occupied for many years. Not many 
indeed at first recognised the problem. Charles, however, meets it 

1 A. Hilgenfeld, Zeitschr. f. wiss. TheoL, 1888, pp. 488-498 ; 1892, pp. 445-464. 

2 Orello Cone, "Jesus' Self-designation in the Synoptic Gospels," The New 
World, 1893, pp. 492-518. 

3 H. L. Oort, Die uitdrukking o utds TOV avOp&Trov in het Nieuwe Testament. 
(The Expression Son of Man in the New Testament.) Leyden, 1893. 


in a bold fashion, proposing to regard the Son of Man, in Jesus' 
usage of the title, as a conception in which the Messiah of the 
Book of Enoch and the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah are united 
into one. 1 Most writers, however, did not free themselves from 
inconsistencies. They wanted at one and the same time to make 
the apocalyptic element dominant in the expression, and to hold 
that Jesus could not have taken the conception over unaltered, 
but must have transformed it in some way. These inconsistencies 
necessarily result from the assumption of Weiss's opponents that 
Jesus intended to designate Himself as Messiah in the actual 
present. For since the expression Son of Man has in itself only an 
apocalyptic sense referring to the future, they had to invent another 
sense applicable to the present, which Jesus might have inserted 
into it. In all these learned discussions of the title Son of Man 
this operation is assumed to have been performed. 

According to Bousset, Jesus created, and embodied in this term, 
a new form of the Messianic ideal which united the super-earthly 
with the human and lowly. In any case, he thinks, the term has 
a meaning applicable in this present world. Jesus uses it at once 
to conceal and to suggest His Messianic dignity. How conscious 
Bousset, nevertheless, is of the difficulty is evident from the fact 
that in discussing the meaning of the title he remarks that the 
Messianic significance must have been of subordinate import- 
ance in the estimation of Jesus, and cannot have formed the basis 
of His actions, otherwise He would have laid more stress upon 
it in His preaching. As if the term Son of Man had not meant for 
His contemporaries all He needed to say ! 

Bousset's essay on Jewish Apocalyptic, 2 published in 1903, seeks 
the solution in a rather different direction, by postponing, namely, to 
the very last possible moment the adoption of this self-designation. 
" In all probability Jesus in a few isolated sayings towards the close 
of His life hit upon this title Son of Man as a means of expressing, 
in the face of the thought of defeat and death, which forced itself 
upon Him, His confidence in the abiding victory of His person and 
His cause." If this is so, the emphasis must be principally on the 
triumphant apocalyptic aspects of the title. 

Even this belated adoption of the title Son of Man is more 

1 R. H. Charles, " The Son of Man," Expos. Times, 1893. 

2 Die judische Apokalyptik in ihrer religionsgeschichtlichen Herkunft und ihrer 
Bedeutung fur das Neue Testament. (Jewish Apocalyptic in its religious-historical 
origin and in its significance for the New Testament. ) 1903. 

On the eschatology of Jesus see also Schwartzkoppf, Die Weissagimgen Jesu Christi 
von seinem Tode, seiner Auferstehung und Wiederkunft und ihre Erfiillung. (The 
Predictions of Jesus Christ concerning His Death, His Resurrection, and Second 
Coming, and their Fulfilment.) 1895. 

P. Wernle, Die Reichgottestioffnung in den dltesten christlichen Dokzimenten und bei 
Jesus. (The Hope of the Kingdom of God in the most ancient Christian Documents 
and as held by Jesus. ) 


than Brandt is willing to admit, and he holds it to be improbable 
that Jesus used the expression at all. It would be more natural, 
he thinks, to suppose that the Evangelist Mark introduced this 
self-designation, as he introduced so much else, into the Gospel on 
the ground of the figurative apocalyptic discourses in the Gospel. 

Just when ingenuity appeared to have exhausted itself in 
attempts to solve the most difficult of the problems raised by the 
eschatological school, the historical discussion suddenly seemed 
about to be rendered objectless. Philology entered a caveat. In 
1896 appeared Lietzmann's essay upon "The Son of Man," which 
consisted of an investigation of the linguistic basis of the enigmatic 



Arnold Meyer. Jesu Muttersprache. (The Mother Tongue of Jesus.) Leipzig, 1896. 
166 pp. 

Hans Lietzmann. Der Menschensohn. Ein Beitrag zur neutestamentlichen 
Theologie. (The Son of Man. A Contribution to New Testament Theology. ) 
Freiburg, 1896. 95 pp. 

J. Wellhausen. Israelitische und judische Geschichte. (History of Israel and the 
Jews.) 3rd ed. , 1897; 4th ed. , 1901. 394 pp. 

Gustaf Dalman. Grammatik des jiidisch-palastinensischen Aramaisch. (Grammar of 
Jewish- Palestinian Aramaic. ) Leipzig, 1894. Die Worte Jesu. Mit Beriicksich- 
tigung des nachkanonischen judischen Schrifttums und der aramaischen Sprache. 
(The Sayings of Jesus considered in connexion with the post-canonical Jewish 
writings and the Aramaic Language.) I. Introduction and certain leading 
conceptions : with an appendix on Messianic texts. Leipzig, 1898. 309 pp. 

A. Wunsche. Neue Beitrage zur Erlauterung der Evangelien aus Talmud und 
Midrasch. (New Contributions to the Explanation of the Gospels, from Talmud 
and Midrash. ) Gottingen, 1878. 566pp. 

Ferdinand Weber. System der altsynagogalen palastinensischen Theologie. (System 
of Theology of the Ancient Palestinian Synagogue.) Leipzig, 1880. 399 pp. 
2nd ed. , 1897. 

Rudolf Seydel. Das Evangelium Jesu in seinen Verhaltnissen zur Buddha-Sage und 
Buddha-Lehre. (The Gospel of Jesus in its relations to the Buddha- Legend and 
the Teaching of Buddha. ) Leipzig, 1882. 337 pp. Die Buddha- Legende und 
das Leben Jesu nach den Evangelien. Erneute Priifung ihres gegenseitigen 
Verhaltnisses. (The Buddha-Legend and the Life of Jesus in the Gospels. A 
New Examination of their Mutual Relations.) 2nd ed., 1897. 129 pp. 

ONLY since the appearance of Dalman's Grammar of Jewish 
Palestinian Aramaic in 1894 have we really known what was the 
dialect in which the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount were 
spoken. This work closes a discussion which had been proceeding 
for centuries on a line parallel to that of theology proper, and 
which, according to the clear description of Arnold Meyer, ran its 
course somewhat as follows. 1 

1 Arnold Meyer, now Professor of New Testament Theology and Pastoral Theology 
at Zurich, and formerly at Bonn, was born at Wesel in 1861. 



The question regarding the language spoken by Jesus had been 
vigorously discussed in the sixteenth century. Up till that time no 
one had known what to make of the tradition recorded by Eusebius 
that the speech of the apostles had been "Syrian" since the 
distinction between Syrian, Hebrew, and " Chaldee " was not under- 
stood and all three designations were used indiscriminately. Light 
was first thrown upon the question by Joseph Justus Scaliger 
(11609). In the year 1555, Joh. Alb. Widmanstadt, Chancellor of 
Ferdinand I., had published the Syriac translation of the Bible in 
fulfilment of the wishes of an old scholar of Bologna, Theseus 
Ambrosius, who had left him the manuscript as a sacred legacy. 
He himself and his contemporaries believed that in this they had the 
Gospel in the mother-tongue of Jesus, until Scaliger, in one of his 
letters, gave a clear sketch of the Syrian dialects, distinguished Syriac 
from Chaldee, and further drew a distinction between the Baby- 
lonian Chaldee and Jewish Chaldee of the Targums, and in the 
language of the Targums itself distinguished an earlier from a later 
stratum. The apostles spoke, according to Scaliger, a Galilaean 
dialect of Chaldaic, or according to the more correct nomenclature 
introduced later, following a suggestion of Scaliger's, a dialect of 
Aramaic, and, in addition to that, the Syriac of Antioch. Next, 
Hugo Grotius put in a strong plea for a distinction between Jewish 
and Antiochian Syriac. Into the confusion caused at that time 
by the use of the term " Hebrew " some order was introduced 
by the Leyden Calvinistic professor Claude Saumaise, who, writing 
in French, emphasised the point that the New Testament, and the 
Early Fathers, when they speak of Hebrew, mean Syriac, since 
Hebrew had become completely unknown to the Jews of that 
period. Brian Walton, the editor of the London polyglot, which 
was completed in 1657, supposed that the dialect of Onkelos and 
Jonathan was the language of Jesus, being under the impression 
that both these Targums were written in the time of Jesus. 

The growing knowledge of the distinction between Hebrew and 
Aramaic did not prevent the Vienna Jesuit Inchofer (11648) from 
maintaining that Jesus spoke Latin ! The Lord cannot have used 
any other language upon earth, since this is the language of the 
saints in heaven. On the Protestant side, Vossius, opposing Richard 
Simon, endeavoured to establish the thesis that Greek was the 
language of Jesus, being partly inspired by the apologetic purpose 
of preventing the authenticity of the discourses and sayings of 
Jesus from being weakened by supposing them to have been 
translated from Aramaic into Greek, but also rightly recognising 
the importance which the Greek language must have assumed at 
that time in northern Palestine, through which there passed such 
important trade routes. 

This view was brought up again by the Neapolitan legal scholar, 


Dominicus Diodati, in his book De Christo Graece loquente, 
1767, who added some interesting material concerning the 
importance of the Greek language at the period and in the native 
district of Jesus. But five years later, in 1772, this view was 
thoroughly refuted by Giambernardo de Rossi, 1 who argued con- 
vincingly that among a people so separate and so conservative 
as the Jews the native language cannot possibly have been wholly 
driven out. The apostles wrote Greek for the sake of foreign 
readers. In the year 1792, Johann Adrian Bolten, "first 
collegiate pastor at the principal church in Altona " (11807), made 
the first attempt to re-translate the sayings of Jesus into the 
original tongue. 2 

The certainly original Greek of the Epistles and the Johannine 
literature was a strong argument against the attempt to recognise 
no language save Aramaic as known to Jesus and His disciples. 
Paulus the rationalist, therefore, sought a middle path, and 
explained that while the Aramaic dialect was indeed the native 
language of Jesus, Greek had become so generally current among 
the population of Galilee, and still more of Jerusalem, that the 
founders of Christianity could use this language when they found 
it needful to do so. His Catholic contemporary, Hug, came to a 
similar conclusion. 

In the course of the nineteenth century Aramaic known down 
to the time of Michaelis as " Chaldee " 3 was more thoroughly 
studied. The various branches of this language and the history of 
its progress became more or less clearly recognisable. Kautzsch's 
grammar of Biblical Aramaic 4 (1884) and Dalman's 5 work 
embody the result of these studies. "The Aramaic language," 
explains Meyer, "is a branch of the North Semitic, the linguistic 
stock to which also belong the Assyrio-Babylonian language in the 
East, and the Canaanitish languages, including Hebrew, in the West, 
while the South Semitic languages the Arabic and Aethiopic 
form a group by themselves. The users of these languages, the 

1 Giambern. de Rossi, Dissertazione della lingua propria di Christo e degli Ebrei 
nazionali della Palestina da' Tempi de' Maccabei in disamina del sentimento di un 
recente scrittore Ilaliano. Parma, 1772. 

2 Der Bericht des Matthaus von Jesu dem Messias. (Matthew's account of Jesus 
the Messiah.) Altona, 1792. According to Meyer, p. 105 ff., this was a very striking 

3 The name Chaldee was due to the mistaken belief that the language in which 
parts of Daniel and Ezra were written was really the vernacular of Babylonia. That 
vernacular, now known to us from cuneiform tablets and inscriptions, is a Semitic 
language, but quite different from Aramaic. F. C. B. 

4 Emil Friedrich Kautzsch was born in 1841 at Plauen in Saxony, and studied in 
Leipzig, where he became Privat-Docent in 1869. In 1872 he was called as 
Professor to Basle, in 1880 to Tubingen, in 1888 to Halle. 

5 Gustaf Dalman, Professor at Leipzig, was born in 1865 at Niesky. In addition 
to the works of his named above, see also Der leidende und der sterbende Messias 
(The Suffering and Dying Messiah), 1888 ; and Was sagt der Talmud iiber Jesum ? 
(What does the Talmud say about Jesus?), 1891. 


Aramaeans, were seated in historic times between the Babylonians 
and Canaanites, the area of their distribution extending from the 
foot of Lebanon and Hermon in a north-easterly direction as far as 
Mesopotamia, where "Aram of the two rivers" forms their 
easternmost province. Their immigration into these regions 
forms the third epoch of the Semitic migrations, which probably- 
lasted from 1600 B.C. down to 600. 

The Aramaic states had no great stability. The most important 
of them was the kingdom of Damascus, which at a certain period 
was so dangerous an enemy to northern Israel. In the end, 
however, the Aramaean dynasties were crushed, like the two 
Israelitish kingdoms, between the upper and nether millstones of 
Babylon and Egypt. In the time of the successors of Alexander, 
there arose in these regions the Syrian kingdom; which in turn 
gave place to the Roman power. 

But linguistically the Aramaeans conquered the whole of Western 
Asia. In the course of the first millennium B.C. Aramaic became the 
language of commerce and diplomacy, as Babylonian had been 
during the second. It was only the rise of Greek as a universal 
language which put a term to these conquests of the Aramaic. 

In the year 701 B.C. Aramaic had not yet penetrated to Judaea. 
When the rabshakeh (officer) sent by Sennacherib addressed the 
envoys of Hezekiah in Hebrew, they begged him to speak Aramaic 
in order that the men upon the wall might not understand. 1 For 
the post-exilic period the Aramaic edicts in the Book of Ezra and 
inscriptions on Persian coins show that throughout wide districts 
of the new empire Aramaic had made good its position as the 
language of common intercourse. Its domain extended from the 
Euxine southwards as far as Egypt, and even into Egypt itself. 
Samaria and the Hauran adopted it. Only the Greek towns and 
Phoenicia resisted. 

The influence of Aramaic upon Jewish literature begins to be 
noticeable about the year 600. Jeremiah and Ezekiel, writing in 
a foreign land in an Aramaic environment, are the first witnesses to 
its supremacy. In the northern part of the country, owing to the 
immigration of foreign colonists after the destruction of the 
northern kingdom, it had already gained a hold upon the common 
people. In the Book of Daniel, written in the year 167 B.C., the 
Hebrew and Aramaic languages alternate. Perhaps, indeed, we 
ought to assume an Aramaic ground-document as the basis of this 

At what time Aramaic became the common popular speech in 
the post-exilic community we cannot exactly discover. Under 
Nehemiah "Judaean," that is to say, Hebrew, was still spoken in 
Jerusalem ; in the time of the Maccabees Aramaic seems to have 

1 2 Kings xviii. 26 ff. 


wholly driven out the ancient national language. Evidence for 
this is to be found in the occurrence of Aramaic passages in the 
Talmud, from which it is evident that the Rabbis used this 
language in the religious instruction of the people. The provision 
that the text, after being read in Hebrew, should be interpreted to 
the people, may quite well reach back into the time of Jesus. 
The first evidence for the practice is in the Mishna, about 

A.D. 150. 

In the time of Jesus three languages met in Galilee Hebrew, 
Aramaic, and Greek. In what relation they stood to each other 
we do not know, since Josephus, the only writer who could have 
told us, fails us in this point, as he so often does elsewhere. He 
informs us that when acting as an envoy of Titus he spoke to the 
people of Jerusalem in the ancestral language, and the word he 
uses is tjSpatfav. But the very thing we should like to know 
whether, namely, this language was Aramaic or Hebrew, he does 
not tell us. We are left in the same uncertainty by the passage in 
Acts (xxii. 2) which says that Paul spoke to the people 'EjS/xudt 
StaAeKTw, thereby gaining their attention, for there is no indication 
whether the language was Aramaic or Hebrew. For the writers 
of that period " Hebrew " simply means Jewish. 

We cannot, therefore, be sure in what relation the ancient 
Hebrew sacred language and the Aramaic of ordinary intercourse 
stood to one another as regards religious writings and religious 
instruction. Did the ordinary man merely learn by heart a few 
verses, prayers, and psalms ? Or was Hebrew, as the language of the 
cultus, also current in wider circles ? 

Dalman gives a number of examples of works written in 
Hebrew in the century which witnessed the birth of Christ: "A 
Hebrew original," he says, "must be assumed in the case of the 
main part of the Aethiopic book of Enoch, the Assumption of 
Moses, the Apocalypse of Baruch, Fourth Ezra, the Book of 
Jubilees, and for the Jewish ground-document of the Testament 
of the Twelve Patriarchs, of which M. Gaster has discovered a 
Hebrew manuscript." The first Book of Maccabees, too, seems 
to him to go back to a Hebrew original. Nevertheless, he holds it 
to be impossible that synagogue discourses intended for the people 
can have been delivered in Hebrew, or that Jesus taught otherwise 
than in Aramaic. 

Franz Delitzsch's view, on the other hand, is that Jesus and 
the disciples taught in Hebrew ; and that is the opinion of Resch 
also. Adolf Neubauer, 1 Reader in Rabbinical Hebrew at Oxford, 
attempted a compromise. It was certainly the case, he thought, 

1 Studio. Biblica I. Essays in Biblical Archaeology and Criticism and Kindred 
Subjects by Members of the University of Oxford. Clarendon Press, 1885, pp. 39-74. 
See Meyer, p. 29 ff. 



that in the time of Jesus Aramaic was spoken throughout 
Palestine ; but whereas in Galilee this language had an exclusive 
dominance, and the knowledge of Hebrew was confined to texts 
learned by heart, in Jerusalem Hebrew had renewed itself by the 
adoption of Aramaic elements, and a kind of Neo-Hebraic 
language had arisen. This solution at least testifies to the difficulty 
of the question. The fact is that from the language of the New 
Testament it is often difficult to make out whether the underlying 
words are Hebrew or Aramaic. Thus, for instance, Dalman 
remarks with reference to the question whether the statement of 
Papias refers to a Hebrew or an Aramaic " primitive Matthew " 
that it is difficult " to produce proof of an Aramaic as distinct from 
a Hebrew source, because it is often the case in Biblical Hebrew, 
and still more often in the idiom of the Mishna, that the same 
expressions and forms of phrase are possible as in Aramaic." 
Delitzsch's 1 " retranslation " of the New Testament into Hebrew 
is therefore historically justified. 

But the question about the language of Jesus must not be 
confused with the problem of the original language of the primitive 
form of Matthew's Gospel. In reference to the latter, Dalman 
thinks that the tradition of the Early Church regarding an earlier 
Aramaic form of the Gospel must be considered as lacking con- 
firmation. "It is only in the case of Jesus' own words that an 
Aramaic original form is undeniable, and it is only for these that Early 
Church tradition asserted the existence of a Semitic documentary 
source. It is, therefore, the right and duty of Biblical scholarship 
to investigate the form which the sayings of Jesus must have 
taken in the original and the sense which in this form they must 
have conveyed to Jewish hearers." 

That Jesus spoke Aramaic, Meyer has shown by collecting all 
the Aramaic expressions which occur in His preaching. 2 He 
considers the "Abba" in Gethsemane decisive, for this means 
that Jesus prayed in Aramaic in His hour of bitterest need. Again 
the cry from the cross was, according to Mark xv. 34, also Aramaic : 
'EAou, eAwi, Aa/xa <ra/3axOavei. The Old Testament was therefore 
most familiar to Him in an Aramaic translation, otherwise this form 
of the Psalm passage would not have come to His lips at the 
moment of death. 

It is a quite independent question whether Jesus could speak, 

1 Franz Delitzsch, Die Biicher des Neuen Testaments aus dem Griechischen ins 
Hebrdische ubersetst. 1877. (The Books of the N.T. translated from Greek into 
Hebrew. ) This work has been circulated by thousands among Jews throughout the 
whole world. 

Delitzsch was born in 1813 at Leipzig and became Privat-Docent there in 1842, 
went to Rostock as Professor in 1846, to Erlangen in 1850, and returned in 1867 to 
Leipzig. By conviction he was a strict Lutheran in theology. He was one of the 
leading experts in Late-Jewish and Talmudic literature. He died in 1890. 

a See Meyer, p. 47 ff. 


or at least understand, Greek. According to Josephus the know- 
ledge of Greek in Palestine at that time, even among educated Jews, 
can only have been of a quite elementary character. He himself 
had to learn it laboriously in order to be able to write in it. His 
" Jewish War " was first written in Aramaic for his fellow-country- 
men ; the Greek edition was, by his own avowal, not intended 
for them. In another passage, it is true, he seems to imply a 
knowledge of, and interest in, foreign languages even among people 
in humble life. 1 

An analogy, which is in many respects very close, to the linguistic 
conditions in Palestine was offered by Alsace under French rule 
in the 'sixties of the nineteenth century. Here, too, three languages 
met in the same district. The High-German of Luther's translation 
of the Bible .was the language of the Church, the Alemannic dialect 
was the usual speech of the people, while French was the language 
of culture and of government administration. This remarkable 
analogy would be rather in favour if analogy can be admitted 
to have any weight in the question of Delitzsch and Resch, 
since the Biblical High-German, although never spoken in social 
intercourse, strongly influenced the Alemannic dialect although this 
was, on the other hand, quite uninfluenced by Modern High-German 
but did not allow it to penetrate into Church or school, there 
maintaining for itself an undivided sway. French made some 
progress, but only in certain circles, and remained entirely ex- 
cluded from the religious sphere. The Alsatians of the poorer 
classes who could at that time have repeated the Lord's Prayer or 
the Beatitudes in French would not have been difficult to count. 
The Lutheran translation still holds its own to some extent against 
the French translation with the older generation of the Alsatian 
community in Paris, which has in other respects become completely 
French ^so strong is the influence of a former ecclesiastical 
language even among those who have left their native home. 
There is one factor, however, which is not represented in the 
analogy ; the influence of the Greek-speaking Jews of the Diaspora, 
who gathered to the Feasts at Jerusalem, upon the extension of 
the Greek language in the mother-country. 

Jesus, then, spoke Galilaean Aramaic, which is known to us 
as a separate dialect from writings of the fourth to the seventh 
century. For the Judaean dialect we have more and earlier 
evidence. We have literary monuments in it from the first to the 
third century. "It is very probable," Dalman thinks, "that the 
popular dialect of Northern Palestine, after the final fall of the 
Judaean centre of the Aramaic-Jewish culture, which followed on 
the Bar-Cochba rising, spread over almost the whole of Palestine." 

The retranslations into Aramaic are therefore justified. After 
1 See Meyer, p. 61 ff. 


J. A. Bolten's attempt had remained for nearly a hundred years 
the only one of its kind, the experiment has been renewed in our 
own time by J. T. Marshall, E. Nestle, J. Wellhausen, Arnold Meyer, 
and Gustaf Dalman ; in the case of Marshall and Nestle with the 
subsidiary purpose of endeavouring to prove the existence of an 
Aramaic documentary source. These retranslations first attracted 
their due meed of attention from theologians in connexion with 
the Son-of-Man question. Rarely, if ever, have theologians ex- 
perienced such a surprise as was sprung upon them by Hans 
Lietzmann's essay in I896. 1 Jesus had never, so ran the thesis 
of the Bonn candidate in theology, applied to Himself the title 
Son of Man, because in the Aramaic the title did not exist, and on 
linguistic grounds could not have existed. In the language which 
He used, &* T? was merely a periphrasis for "a man." That Jesus 
meant Himself when He spoke of the Son of Man, none of His 
hearers could have suspected. 

Lietzmann had not been without predecessors. 2 Gilbert 
Ge*nebrard, who died Archbishop of Aix as long ago as 1597, had 
emphasised the point that the term Son of Man should not be in- 
terpreted with reference solely to Christ, but to the race of mankind. 
Hugo Grotius maintained the same position even more emphatically. 
With a quite modern one-sidedness, Paulus the rationalist main- 
tained in his commentaries and in his Life of Jesus that according to 
Ezek. ii. i " Barnash " meant man in general. Jesus, he thought, 
whenever He used the expression the Son of Man, pointed to 
Himself and thus gave it the sense of " this man." In taking this 
line he gives up the general reference to mankind as a whole for 
which Mark ii. 28 is generally cited as the classical passage. The 
suggestion that the term Son of Man in its apocalyptic signification 
was first attributed to Jesus at a later time and that the passages 
where it occurs in this sense are therefore suspicious, was first put 
forward by Fr. Aug. Fritzsche. He hoped in this way to get rid 
of Matt. x. 23. De Lagarde, like Paulus, emphatically asserted that 
Son of Man only meant man. But instead of the clumsy ex- 
planation of the rationalist he gave another and a more pleasing 
one, namely, that Jesus by choosing this title designed to ennoble 
mankind. Wellhausen, in his " History of Israel and of the Jews " 
(1894), remarked on it as strange that Jesus should have called 
Himself "the Man." B. D. Eerdmans, taking the apocalyptic 
significance of the term as his starting-point, attempted to carry 
out consistently the theory of the later interpolation of this title 
into the sayings of Jesus. 3 

1 Hans Lietzmann, now Professor in Jena, was born in 1875 at Diisseldorf. 
Until his call to Jena he worked as a Privat- Decent at Bonn. He has done some 
very meritorious work in the publication of Early Christian writings. 

2 See Meyer, p. 141 ff. 

8 " De Oorsprong van de uitdrukking ' Zoon des Menschen ' als evangelische 


Thus Lietzmann had predecessors; but they were not so in 
any real sense. They had either started out from the Marcan 
passage where the Son of Man is described as the Lord of the 
Sabbath, and endeavoured arbitrarily to interpret all the Son-of- 
Man passages in the same sense; or they assumed without 
sufficient grounds that the title Son of Man was a later inter- 
polation. The new idea consisted in combining the two attempts, 
and declaring the passages about the Son of Man to be linguis- 
tically and historically impossible, seeing that, on linguistic grounds, 
"son of man " means "man." 

Arnold Meyer and Wellhausen expressed themselves in the 
same sense as Lietzmann. The passages where Jesus uses the 
expression in an unmistakably Messianic sense are, according to 
them, to be put down to the account of Early Christian theology. 
The only passages which in their opinion are historically tenable 
are the two or three in which the expression denotes man in 
general, or is equivalent to the simple "I." These latter were felt 
to be a difficulty by the Church when it came to think in Greek, 
since this way of speaking of oneself was strange to them ; con- 
sequently the expression appeared to them deliberately enigmatic 
and only capable of being interpreted in the sense which it bears 
in Daniel. The Son-of-Man conception, argued Lietzmann, when 
he again approached the question two years later, had arisen in a 
Hellenistic environment, 1 on the basis of Dan. vii. 1 3 ; N. Schmidt, 2 
too, saw in the apocalyptic Bar-Nasha passages which follow the 
revelation of the Messiahship at Caesarea Philippi an interpolation 
from the later apocalyptic theology. On the other hand, P. Schmiedel 
still wished to make it a Messianic designation, and to take it as 
being historical in this sense even in passages in which the term man 
"gave a possible -sense. " 3 H. Gunkel thought that it was possible 
to translate Bar-Nasha simply by " man," and nevertheless hold 
to the historicity of the expression as a self-designation of Jesus. 
Jesus, he suggests, had borrowed' this enigmatic term, which goes 
back to Dan. vii. 13, from the mystical apocalyptic literature, 
meaning thereby to indicate that He was the Man of God in 
contrast to the Man of Sin. 4 

Holtzmann felt a kind of relief in handing over to the philologists 
the obstinate problem which since the time of Baldensperger and 

Messiastitel, " Theol. Tijdschr. , 1894. (The Origin of the Expression "Son of Man " 
as a Title of the Messiah in the Gospels. ) 

1 H. Lietzmann, " Zur Menschensohnfrage " (The Son-of-Man Problem), 
Theol. Arb. des Rhein. wissenschaftl. Predigervereins, 1898. 

2 N. Schmidt, "Was NB?J na a Messianic title?" Journal of the Society for 
Biblical Literature, xv. , 1896. 

3 P. Schmiedel, " Der Name Menschensohn und das Messiasbewusstsein Jesu " 
(The Designation Son of Man and the Messianic Consciousness of Jesus), 1898, Prot. 
Monatsh. z, pp. 252-267. 

4 H. Gunkel, Z. w. Th., 1899, 42, pp. 581-611. 


Weiss had caused so much trouble to theologians, and wanted to 
postpone the historical discussion until the Aramaic experts had 
settled the linguistic question. That happened sooner than was 
expected. In 1898 Dalman declared in his epoch-making work 
(Die Wortejesu) that he could not admit the linguistic objections 
to the use of the expression Son of Man by Jesus. "Biblical 
Aramaic," he says, "does not differ in this respect from Hebrew. 
The simple v\* and not w* 13 is the term for man." ... It was 
only later that the Jewish-Galilaean dialect, like the Palestinian- 
Christian dialect, used * i| for man, though in both idioms the 
simple WN occurs in the sense of " some one." " In view of the 
whole facts of the case," he continues, " what has to be said is 
that Jewish-Palestinian Aramaic of the earlier period used WK 
for * man,' and occasionally to designate a plurality of men makes 
use of the expression NJ '. The singular #IK na was not current, 
and was only used in imitation of the Hebrew text of the Bible, where 
7 II belongs to the poetic diction, and is, moreover, not of very 
frequent occurrence." "It is," he says elsewhere, "by no means a 
sign of a sound historical method, instead of working patiently 
at the solution of the problem, to hasten like Oort and Lietzmann 
to the conclusion that the absence of the expression in the New 
Testament Epistles is a proof that Jesus did not use it either, but 
that there was somewhere or other a Hellenistic community in the 
Early Church which had a predilection for this name, and often 
made Jesus speak of Himself in the Gospel narrative in the third 
person, in order to find an opportunity of bringing it in." 

So the oxen turned back with the ark into the land of the 
Philistines. It was a case of returning to the starting-point and 
deciding on historical grounds in what sense Jesus had used the 
expression. 1 But the possibilities were reduced by the way in which 
Lietzmann had posed the problem, since the interpretations according 
to which Jesus had used it in a veiled ethical Messianic sense, to 
indicate the ethical and spiritual transformation of all the eschato- 
logical conceptions, were now manifestly incapable of offering any 
convincing argument against the radical denial of the use of the 
expression. Baldensperger rightly remarked in a review of the 
whole discussion that the question which was ultimately at stake in 

1 For the last phase of the discussion we may name : 

Wellhausen, Skiszen und Vorarbeiten (Sketches and Studies), 1899, pp. 187-215, 
where he throws further light on Dalman's philological objections ; and goes on to 
deny Jesus' use of the expression. 

W. Baldensperger, "Die neueste Forschung iiber den Menschensohn," Theol. 
Rundschau, 1900, 3, pp. 201-210, 243-255. 

P. Fiebig, Der Menschensohn. Tubingen, 1901. 

P. W. Schmiedel, "Die neueste Auffassung des Namens Menschensohn," Prot. 
Monatsh. 5, pp. 333-351, 1901. (The Latest View of the Designation Son 
of Man. ) 

P. W. Schmidt, Die Geschichte Jesu, \\. (Erlduterungen Explanations). 
Tubingen, 1904, p. 157 ff. 


the combat over the title Son of Man was the question whether 
Jesus was the Messiah or no, and that Dalman, by his proof of its 
linguistic possibility, had saved the Messiahship of Jesus. 1 

But what kind of Messiahship ? Is it any other kind than the 
future Messiahship of the apocalyptic Son of Man which Johannes 
Weiss had asserted? Did Jesus mean anything different by the 
Son of Man from that which was meant by the apocalyptic writers ? 
To put it otherwise : behind the Son-of-Man problem there lies the 
general question whether Jesus can have described Himself as a 
present Messiah ; for the fundamental difficulty is that He, a man 
upon earth, should give Himself out to be the Son of Man, and at 
the same time apparently give to that title a quite different sense 
from that which it previously possessed. 

The champion of the linguistic possibility of this self-designation 
made the last serious attempt to render the transformation of the 
conception historically conceivable. He argues that Jesus cannot 
have used it as a mere meaningless expression, a periphrasis for the 
simple I. 2 On the other hand, the term cannot have been under- 
stood by the disciples as an exalted title, or at least only in the 
sense that the title indicative of exaltation is paradoxically con- 
nected with the title indicative of humility. " We shall be justified 
in saying, that, for the Synoptic Evangelists, ' Man's Son ' was no 
title of honour for the Messiah, but as it must necessarily appear 
to a Hellenist a veiling of His Messiahship under a name which 
emphasises the humanity of its bearer." For them it was not 
the references to the sufferings of " Man's Son " that were 
paradoxical, but the references to His exaltation : that " Man's 
Son " should be put to death is not wonderful ; what is wonderful 
is His " coming again upon the clouds of heaven." 

If Jesus called Himself the Son of Man, the only conclusion 
which could be drawn by those that heard Him was, "that for 
some reason or other He desired to describe Himself as a Man 
par excellence" There is no reason to think of the Heavenly Son 
of Man of the Similitudes of Enoch and Fourth Ezra ; that con- 
ception could hardly be present to the minds of His auditors. 

1 Dalman's reputation as an authority upon Jewish Aramaic is so deservedly high, 
that it is necessary to point out that his solution did not, as Dr. Schweitzer seems to 
say, entirely dispose of the linguistic difficulties raised by Lietzmann as to the meaning 
and use of barndsh and barndshd in Aramaic. The English reader will find the 
linguistic facts well put in sections 4 and 32 of N. Schmidt's article " Son of Man " 
in Encyclopedia Biblica (cols. 4708, 4723), or he may consult Prof. Bevan's review 
of Dalman's Worte Jesu in the Critical Review for 1899, p. 148 ff. The main point 
is that 6 dvQpwiros and 6 ui6s rod avdpuirov are equally legitimate translations of 
barndshd. Thus the contrast in the Greek between 6 avOpuiros and 6 vios TOU 
dvQpuTTov in Mark ii. 27 and 28, or again in Mark viii. 36 and 38, disappears on 
retranslation into the dialect spoken by Jesus. Whether this linguistic fact makes the 
sayings in which 6 vios TOV todpuirov occurs unhistorical is a further question, upon 
which scholars can take, and have taken, opposite opinions. F. C. B. 

3 See Worte Jesu, 1898, p. 191 ff. ( = E. T. p. 234 ff.). 


" How was one who was now walking upon earth, to come from 
heaven? He would have needed first to be translated thither. 
One who had died or been rapt away from earth might be 
brought back to earth again in this way, or a being who had 
never before been upon earth, might be conceived as descending 

But if, on the one hand, the title Son of Man was not to 
be understood apart from the reference to the passage in Daniel, 
while on the other Jesus so designated Himself as a man actually 
present upon earth, " what was really implied was that He was the 
man in whom Daniel's vision of 'one like unto a Son of Man' 
was .being fulfilled." He could not certainly expect from His 
hearers a complete understanding of the self-designation. "We 
are doubtless justified in saying that in using it, He intentionally 
offered them an enigma which challenged further reflection upon 
His Person." 

According to Peter's confession the name was intelligible to 
the disciples as coming from Dan. vii. 13, and obviously indicating 
Him who was destined to the sovereignty of the world. Jesus 
calls Himself the Son of Man, "not as meaning the lowly one, 
but as a scion of the human race with its human weakness, whom 
nevertheless God will make Lord of the world ; and it is very 
probable that Jesus found the Son of Man of Dan. vii. in Ps. 
viii. 5 ff. also." Sayings regarding humiliation and suffering could 
be attached to the title just as well as references to exaltation. 
For since the " Child of Man " has placed Himself upon the 
throne of God, He is in reality no longer a mere man, but ruler 
over heaven and earth, "the Lord." 

This attempt of Dalman's has the same significance in regard 
to the question of the Messiahship as Bousset's had for the 
ethical question. Just as in Bousset's view the Kingdom of God 
was, in a paradoxical way, after all proclaimed as present, so 
here the self-designation " Son of Man " is retained by a paradox as 
conveying the sense of a present Messiahship. But the documents 
do not give any support to this assumption ; on the contrary 
they contradict it at every point. According to Dalman it was not 
the predictions of the passion of the Son of Man which sounded 
paradoxical to the disciples, but the predictions of His exaltation. 
But we are distinctly told that when He spoke of His passion 
they did not understand the saying. The predictions of His 
exaltation, however, they understood so well that without troubling 
themselves further about the predictions of the sufferings, they 
began to dispute who should be greatest in the Kingdom of 
Heaven, and who should have his throne closest to the Son 
of Man. And if it is once admitted that Jesus took the designa- 
tion from Daniel, what ground is there for asserting that the 


purely eschatological transcendental significance which the term had 
taken on in the Similitudes of Enoch and retains in Fourth Ezra 
had no existence for Jesus ? Thus, by a long round-about, criticism 
has come back to Johannes Weiss. 1 His eschatological solution 
of the Son-of-Man question the elements of which are to be 
found in Strauss's first Life of Jesus is the only possible one. 
Dalman expresses the same idea in the form of a question. " How 
could one who was actually walking the earth come down from 
heaven? He would have needed first to be translated thither. 
One who had died or been rapt away from earth might possibly 
be brought back to earth in this way." Having reached this 
point we have only to observe further that Jesus, from the 
"confession of Peter" onwards, always speaks of the Son of Man 
in connexion with death and resurrection. That is to say, that 
once the disciples know in what relation He stands to the Son of 
Man, He uses this title to suggest the manner of His return : as 
the sequel to His death and resurrection He will return to the world 
again as a superhuman Personality. Thus the purely transcendental 
use of the term suggested by Dalman as a possibility turns out 
to be the historical reality. 

Broadly speaking, therefore, the Son-of-Man problem is both 
historically solvable and has been solved. The authentic passages 
are those in which the expression is used in that apocalyptic sense 
which goes back to Daniel. But we have to distinguish two different 
uses of the term according to the degree of knowledge assumed 
in the hearers. If the secret of Jesus is unknown to them, then 
in that case they understand simply that Jesus is speaking of 
the " Son of Man " and His coming without having any suspicion 
that He and the Son of Man have any connexion. It would 
be thus, for instance, when in sending out the disciples in Matt. 
x. 23, He announced the imminence of the appearing of the 
Son of Man ; or when He pictured the judgment which the 
Son of Man would hold (Matt. xxv. 31-46), if we may imagine 

1 See the classical discussion in J. Weiss, Die Predigt Jesus vom Reiche Gottes, 
1892, ist ed. , p. 52 ff. 

In the second edition, of 1900, p. 160 ff. , he allows himself to be led astray by 
the " chief est apostles" of modern theology to indulge in the subtleties of fine spun 
psychology, and explain Jesus' way of speaking of Himself in the third person as 
the Son of Man as due to the "extreme modesty of Jesus," a modesty which did 
not forsake Him in the presence of His judges. This recent access of psychologising 
exegesis has not conduced to clearness of presentation, and the preference for the 
Lucan narrative does not so much contribute to throw light on the facts as to 
discover in the thoughts of Jesus subtleties of which the historical Jesus never dreamt. 
If the Lord always used the term Son of Man when speaking of His Messiahship, 
the reason was that this was the only way in which He could speak of it at all, 
since the Messiahship was not yet realised, but was only to be so at the appearing 
of the Son of Man. For a consistent, purely historical, non-psychological exposition 
of the Son-of-Man passages see Albert Schweitzer, Das Messianitdts- und Leidens- 
geheimnis. (The Secret of the Messiahship and the Passion. ) A sketch of the Life 
of Jesus. Tubingen, 1901. 


it to have been spoken to the people at Jerusalem. Or, on 
the other hand, the secret is known to the hearers. In that 
case they understand that the term Son of Man points to the 
position to which He Himself is to be exalted when the present era 
passes into the age to come. It was thus, no doubt, in the case of 
the disciples at Caesarea Philippi, and of the High Priest to whom 
Jesus, after answering his demand with the simple " Yea " (Mark 
xiv. 62), goes on immediately to speak of the exaltation of the 
Son of Man to the right hand of God, and of His coming upon 
the clouds of heaven. 

Jesus did not, therefore, veil His Messiahship by using the 
expression Son of Man, much less did He transform it, but He 
used the expression to refer, in the only possible way, to His 
Messianic office as destined to be realised at His "coming," and 
did so in such a manner that only the initiated understood that He 
was speaking of His own coming, while others understood Him as 
referring to the coming of a Son of Man who was other than Himself. 

The passages where the title has not this apocalyptic reference, 
or where, previous to the incident at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus in 
speaking to the disciples equates the Son of Man with His own 
"ego," are to be explained as of literary origin. This set of 
secondary occurrences of the title has nothing to do with " Early 
Church theology " ; it is merely a question of phenomena of trans- 
lation and tradition. In the saying about the Sabbath in Mark 
ii. 28, and perhaps also in the saying about the right to forgive 
sins in Mark ii. 10, Son of Man doubtless stood in the original in 
the general sense of " man," but was later, certainly by our Evan- 
gelists, understood as referring to Jesus as the Son of Man. In 
other passages tradition, following the analogy of those passages in 
which the title is authentic, put in place of the simple I expressed 
in the Aramaic by " the man " the self-designation " Son of Man," 
as we can clearly show by comparing Matt. xvi. 13, "Who do men 
say that the Son of Man is ? " with Mark viii. 2 7, " Who do men 
say that I am ? " 

Three passages call for special discussion. In the statement 
that a man may be forgiven for blasphemy against the Son of Man, 
but not for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, in Matt. xii. 32, the 
" Son of Man " may be authentic. But of course it would not, 
even in that case, give any hint that " Son of Man designates the 
Messiah in His humiliation " as Dalman wished to infer from the 
passage, but would mean that Jesus was speaking of the Son of 
Man, here as elsewhere, in the third person without reference to 
Himself, and was thinking of a contemptuous denial of the Parousia 
such as might have been uttered by a Sadducee. But if we take 
into account the parallel in Mark iii. 28 and 29, where blasphemy 
against the Holy Ghost is spoken of without any mention of 


blasphemy against the Son of Man, it seems more natural to take 
the mention of the Son of Man as a secondary interpolation, 
derived from the same line of tradition, perhaps from the same 
hand, as the "Son of Man" in the question to the disciples at 
Caesarea Philippi. 

The two other sayings, the one about the Son of Man "who 
hath not where to lay His head," Matt. viii. 20, and that about the 
Son of Man who must submit to the reproach of being a glutton 
and a wine-bibber, Matt. xi. 19, belong together. If we assume 
it to be possible, in conformity with the saying about the purpose of 
the parables in Mark iv. n and 12, that Jesus sometimes spoke 
words which He did not intend to be understood, we may if we 
are unwilling to accept the supposition of a later periphrasis for the 
ego, which would certainly be the most natural explanation re- 
cognise in these sayings two obscure declarations regarding the 
Son of Man. They would then be supposed to have meant in 
the original form, which is no longer clearly recognisable, that the 
Son of Man would in some way justify the conduct of Jesus of 
Nazareth. But the way in which this idea is expressed was not 
such as to make it easy for His hearers to identify Him with the 
Son of Man. Moreover, it was for them a conception impossible 
to realise, since Jesus was a natural, and the Son of Man a super- 
natural, being; and the eschatological scheme of things had not 
provided for a man who at the end of the existing era should hint 
to others that at the great transformation of all things He would be 
manifested as the Son of Man. This case presented itself only in 
the course of history, and it created a preparatory stage of eschato- 
logy which does not answer to any traditional scheme. 

That act of the self-consciousness of Jesus by which He recog- 
nised Himself in His earthly existence as the future Messiah is the 
act in which eschatology supremely affirms itself. At the same 
time, since it brings, spiritually, that which is to come, into the 
unaltered present, into the existing era, it is the end of eschatology. 
For it is its " spiritualisation," a spiritualisation of which the ultimate 
consequence was to be that all its " supersensuous " elements were 
to be realised only spiritually in the present earthly conditions, and 
all that is affirmed as supersensuous in the transcendental sense 
was to be regarded as only the ruined remains of an eschatological 
world-view. The Messianic secret of Jesus is the basis of Christianity, 
since it involves the de-nationalising and the spiritualisation of Jewish 

Yet more. It is the primal fact, the starting-point, of a process 
which manifests itself, indeed, in Christianity, but cannot fully 
work itself out even here, of a movement in the direction of 
inwardness which brings all religious magnitudes into the one 
indivisible spiritual present, and which Christian dogmatic has not 


ventured to carry to its completion. The Messianic consciousness 
of the uniquely great Man of Nazareth sets up a struggle between 
the present and the beyond, and introduces that resolute absorption 
of the beyond by the present, which in looking back we recognise 
as the history of Christianity, and of which we are conscious in 
ourselves as the essence of religious progress and experience a 
process of which the end is not yet in sight. 

In this sense Jesus did "accept the world" and did stand in 
conflict with Judaism. Protestantism was a step -a step on which 
hung weighty consequences in the progress of that "acceptance 
of the world " which was constantly developing itself from within. 
By a mighty revolution which was in harmony with the spirit of 
that great primal act of the consciousness of Jesus, though in 
opposition to some of the most certain of His sayings, ethics 
became world-accepting. But it will be a mightier revolution still 
when the last remaining ruins of the supersensuous other-worldly 
system of thought are swept away in order to clear the site for a 
new spiritual, purely real and present world. All the inconsistent 
compromises and constructions of modern theology are merely an 
attempt to stave off the final expulsion of eschatology from religion, 
an inevitable but a hopeless attempt. That proleptic Messianic 
consciousness of Jesus, which was in reality the only possible 
actualisation of the Messianic idea, carries these consequences 
with it inexorably and unfailingly. At that la?t cry upon the cross 
the whole eschatological supersensuous world fell in upon itself in 
ruins, and there remained as a spiritual reality only that present 
spiritual world, bound as it is to sense, which Jesus by His all- 
powerful word had called into being within the world which He 
contemned. That last cry, with its despairing abandonment of the 
eschatological future, is His real acceptance of the world. The 
" Son of Man " was buried in the ruins of the falling eschatological 
world; there remained alive only Jesus "the Man." Thus these 
two Aramaic synonyms include in themselves, as in a symbol of 
reality, all that was to come. 

If theology has found it so hard a task to arrive at an historical 
comprehension of the secret of this self-designation, this is due to 
the fact that the question is not a purely historical one. In this 
word there lies the transformation of a whole system of thought, 
the inexorable consequence of the elimination of eschatology from 
religion. It was only in this future form, not as actual, that Jesus 
spoke of His Messiahship. Modern theology keeps on endeavouring 
to discover in the title of Son of Man, which is bound up with the 
future, a humanised present Messiahship. It does so in the con- 
viction that the recognition of a purely future reference in the 
Messianic consciousness of Jesus would lead in the last result to a 
modification of the historic basis of our faith, which has itself become 



historical, and therefore true and self-justifying. The recognition 
of the claims of eschatology signifies for our dogmatic a burning of 
the boats by which it felt itself able to return at any moment 
from the time of Jesus direct to the present. 

One point that is worthy of notice in this connexion is the 
trustworthiness of the tradition. The Evangelists, writing in Greek, 
and the Greek-speaking Early Church, can hardly have retained an 
understanding of the purely eschatological character of that self- 
designation of Jesus. It had become for them merely an indirect 
method of self- designation. And nevertheless the Evangelists, 
especially Mark, record the sayings of Jesus in such a way that the 
original significance and application of the designation in His 
mouth is still clearly recognisable, and we are able to determine 
with certainty the isolated cases in which this self-designation in 
His discourses is of a secondary origin. 

Thus the use of the term Son of Man which, if we admitted 
the sweeping proposal of Lietzmann and Wellhausen to cancel it 
everywhere as an interpolation of Greek Early Church theology, 
would throw doubt on the whole of the Gospel tradition becomes 
a proof of the certainty and trustworthiness of that tradition. We 
may, in fact, say that the progressive recognition of the eschato- 
logical character of the teaching and action of Jesus carries with it 
a progressive justification of the Gospel tradition. A series of 
passages and discourses which had been endangered because from 
the modern theological point of view which had been made the 
criterion of the tradition they appeared to be without meaning, are 
now secured. The stone which the critics rejected has become the 
corner-stone of the tradition. 

If Aramaic scholarship appears in regard to the Son-of-Man 
question among the opponents of the thorough-going eschatological 
view, it takes no other position in connexion with the retranslations 
and in the application of illustrative parallels from the Rabbinic 

In looking at the earlier works in this department, one is struck 
with the smallness of the result in proportion to the labour ex- 
pended. The names that call for mention here are those of John 
Lightfoot, Christian Schottgen, Joh. Gerh. Meuschen, J. Jak. Wett- 
stein, F. Nork, Franz Delitzsch, Carl Siegfried, and A. Wiinsche. 1 
But even a work like F. Weber's System der altsynagogakn 

1 See Dalman, p. 60 ff. 

John Lightfoot, Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae in quatuor Evangelistas. Edited 
by J. B. Carpzov. Leipzig, 1684. 

Christian Schottgen, Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae in universum Novum 
Testamentum. Dresden-Leipzig, 1733. 

Joh. Gerh. Meuschen, Novum Testamentum ex Talmude et antiquitatibus 
Hebraeorum illustratum. Leipzig, 1736. 


palastinensischen Theologie, 1 which does not confine itself to single 
sayings and thoughts, but aims at exhibiting the Rabbinic system 
of thought as a whole, throws, in the main, but little light on the 
thoughts of Jesus. The Rabbinic ^parables supply, according to 
Jiilicher, but little of value for the explanation of the parables of 
Jesus. 2 In this method of discourse, Jesus is so pre-eminently 
original, that any other productions of the Jewish parabolic 
literature are like stunted undergrowth beside a great tree ; though 
that has not prevented His originality from being challenged in this 
very department, both in earlier times and at the present. As 
early as 1648, Robert Sheringham, of Cambridge, 3 suggested that the 
parables in Matt. xx. i ff., xxv. i ff., and Luke xvi., were derived 
from Talmudic sources, an opinion against which J. B. Carpzov, 
the younger, raised a protest; in 1839, F. Nork asserted, in his 
work on "Rabbinic Sources and Parallels for the New Testament 
Writings," that the best thoughts in the discourses of Jesus are to 
be attributed to His Jewish teachers; in 1880 the Dutch Rabbi, 
T. Tal, maintained the thesis that the parables of the New Testament 
are all borrowed from the Talmud. 4 Theories of this kind cannot 
be refuted, because they lack the foundation necessary to any 
theory which is to be capable of being rationally discussed that of 
plain common sense. 5 

We possess, however, really scientific attempts to define more 
closely the thoughts of Jesus by the aid of the Rabbinic language 
and Rabbinic ideas in the works of Arnold Meyer and Dalman. It 
cannot indeed be said that the obscure sayings which form the 
problem of present-day exegesis are in all cases made clearer by 
them, much as we may admire the comprehensive knowledge of 

J. Jakob. Wettstein, Novum Testamentum Graecum. Amsterdam, 1751 and 1752. 

F. Nork, Rabbinische Quellen und Parallelen zu neutestamentlichen Schriftstellen, 
Leipzig, 1839. 

Franz Delitzsch, " Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae," in the Luth. Zeitsch., 1876- 

Carl Siegfried, Analecta Rabbinica, 1875 ; " Rabbin. Analekten," Jahrb. f. prot. 
Theol., 1876. 

A. Wiinsche, Neue Beitrdge zur Erlduterung der Evangelien aus Talmud und 
Midrasch. (Contributions to the Exposition of the Gospels from Talmud and 
Midrash.) Gottingen, 1878. 

1 Leipzig, 1880; 2nded., 1897. 

2 Cf. for what follows, Jiilicher, Die Glcichnisreden Jesu, i., 1888, p. 164 ff. 

3 Robert Sheringham of Caius College, Cambridge, a royalist divine, published 
an edition of the Talmudic tractate Yoma. London, 1648. F. C. B. 

4 T. Tal, Professor Oort und der Talmud, 1880. See upon this Van Manen, 
Jahrb. f. prot. Theol., 1884, p. 569. The best collection of Talmudic parables is, 
according to Julicher, that of Prof. Guis. Levi, translated by L. Seligman as Parabeln, 
Legenden und Gedanken aus Talmud und Midrasch. Leipzig, and ed., 1877. 

The question may be said to have been provisionally settled by Paul Fiebig's 
work, Altjiidische Gleichnisse und die Gleichnisse Jesu (Ancient Jewish Parables and 
the Parables of Jesus), Tubingen, 1904, in which he gives some fifty Late-Jewish 
parables, and compares them with those of Jesus, the final result being to show more 
clearly than ever the uniqueness and absoluteness of His creations. 


these scholars. Sometimes, indeed, they become more obscure 
than before. According to Meyer, for instance, the question of 
Jesus whether His disciples can drink of His cup, and be baptized 
with His baptism means, if put back into Aramaic, " Can you drink 
as bitter a drink as I ; can you eat as sharply salted meat as I ? " l 
Nor does Dalman's Aramaic retranslation help us much with the 
saying about the violent who take the Kingdom of Heaven by force. 
According to him, it is not spoken of the faithful, but of the rulers 
of this world, and refers to the epoch of the Divine rule which has 
been introduced by the imprisonment of the Baptist. No one can 
violently possess himself of the Divine reign, and Jesus can therefore 
only mean that violence is done to it in the person of its subjects. 

On this it must be remarked, that if the saying really means 
this, it is about as appropriate to its setting as a rock in the sky. 
Jesus is not speaking of the imprisonment of the Baptist. By the 
days of John the Baptist He means the time of his public ministry. 

It is equally open to question whether in putting that crucial 
question regarding the Messiah in Mark xii. 37 He really in- 
tended to show, as Dalman thinks, " that physical descent from David 
was not of decisive importance it did not belong to the essence 
of the Messiahship." 

But a point in regard to which Dalman's remarks are of great 
value for the reconstruction of the life of Jesus is the entry into 
Jerusalem. Dalman thinks that the simple " Hosanna, blessed be 
he that cometh in the name of the Lord " (Mark xi. 9) was what the 
people really shouted in acclamation, and that the additional words 
in Mark and Matthew are simply an interpretative expansion. 
This acclamation did not itself contain any Messianic reference. 
This explains "why the entry into Jerusalem was not made a 
count in the charge urged against Him before Pilate." The events 
of "Palm Sunday" only received their distinctively Messianic 
colour later. It was not the Messiah, but the prophet and wonder- 
worker of Galilee whom the people hailed with rejoicing and 
accompanied with invocations of blessing. 2 

Generally speaking, the value of Dalman's work lies less in the 
solutions which it offers than in the problems which it raises. By 
its very thorough discussions it challenges historical theology to test 
its most cherished assumptions regarding the teaching of Jesus, 
and make sure whether they are really so certain and self-evident. 
Thus, in opposition to Schiirer, he denies that the thought of the 

1 See the explanation by means of the Aramaic of a selection of the sayings of 
Jesus in Meyer, pp. 72-90. A Judaism more under Parsee influence is assumed as 
explaining the origin of Christianity by E. Boklen, Die Verwandschaft der jiidisch- 
christlichen mit der parsischen Eschatologie (The Relation of Jewish-Christian to 
Persian Eschatology), 1902, 510 ff. 

2 The same view is expressed by Wellhausen, Israelitische undjiidische Geschichte, 
3rd ed. , p. 381, note 2; and by Albert Schweitzer, Das Messianitats- und Leidens- 
geheimnis, 1901. 


pre-existence in heaven of all the good things belonging to the 
Kingdom of God was at all generally current in the Late-Jewish 
world of ideas, and thinks that the occasional references l to a pre- 
existing Jerusalem, which shall finally be brought down to the earth, 
do not suffice to establish the theory. Similarly, he thinks it 
doubtful whether Jesus used the terms "this world (age)," "the 
world (age) to come " in the eschatological sense which is generally 
attached to them, and doubts, on linguistic grounds, whether they 
can have been used at all. Even the use of ohy or o^y for " world " 
cannot be proved. In the pre-Christian period there is much 
reason to doubt its occurrence, though in later Jewish literature it 
is frequent. The expression eV rrj TraAiyyeveo-ia in Matt. xix. 28, is 
specifically Greek and cannot be reproduced in either Hebrew or 
Aramaic. It is very strange that the use which Jesus makes of Amen 
is unknown in the whole of Jewish literature. According to the 
proper idiom of the language " jo* is never used to emphasise one's 
own speech, but always with reference to the speech, prayer, 
benediction, oath, or curse of another." Jesus, therefore, if He 
used the expression in this sense, must have given it a new 
meaning as a formula of asseveration, in place of the oath which 
He forbade. 

All these acute observations are marked by the general tendency 
which was observable in the interpretation of the term Son of Man, 
that is, by the endeavour so to weaken down the eschatological 
conceptions of the Kingdom and the Messiah, that the hypothesis 
of a making-present and spiritualising of these conceptions in the 
teaching of Jesus might appear inherently and linguistically possible 
and natural. The polemic against the pre-existent realities of the 
Kingdom of God is intended to show that for Jesus the Reign of God 
is a present benefit, which can be sought after, given, possessed, and 
taken. Even before the time of Jesus, according to Dalman, a 
tendency had shown itself to lay less emphasis, in connexion with 
the hope of the future, upon the national Jewish element. Jesus 
forced this element still farther into the background, and gave a 
more decided prominence to the purely religious element. " For 
Him the reign of God was the Divine power, which from this time 
onward was steadily to carry forward the renewal of the world, and 
also the renewed world, into which men shall one day enter, which 
even now offers itself, and therefore can be grasped and received 
as a present good." The supernatural coming of the Kingdom is 
only the final stage of the coming which is now being inwardly 
spiritually brought about by the preaching of Jesus. Though He 
may perhaps have spoken of " this " world and the " world to come," 
these expressions had in His use of them no very special importance. 
It is for Him less a question of an antithesis between " then " and 

1 See the Apocalypse of Baruch, and Fourth Ezra. 


" now," than of establishing a connexion between them by which 
the transition from one to the other is to be effected. 

It is the same in regard to Jesus' consciousness of His Messiah- 
ship. "In Jesus' view," says Dalman, "the period before the 
commencement of the Reign of God was organically connected 
with the actual period of His Reign." He was the Messiah 
because He knew Himself to stand in a unique ethico-religious 
relation to God. His Messiahship was not something wholly in- 
comprehensible to those about Him. If redemption was regarded 
as being close at hand, the Messiah must be assumed to be in 
some sense already present. Therefore Jesus is both directly and 
indirectly spoken of as Messiah. 

Thus the most important work in the department of Aramaic 
scholarship shows clearly the anti-eschatological tendency which 
characterised it from the beginning. The work of Lietzmann, 
Meyer, Wellhausen, and Dalman, forms a distinct episode in the 
general resistance to eschatology. That Aramaic scholarship 
should have taken up a hostile attitude towards the eschatological 
system of thought of Jesus lies in the nature of things. The 
thoughts which it takes as its standard of comparison were only 
reduced to writing long after the period of Jesus, and, moreover, in 
a lifeless and distorted form, at a time when the apocalyptic temper 
no longer existed as the living counterpoise to the legal righteous- 
ness, and this legal righteousness had allowed only so much of 
Apocalyptic to survive as could be brought into direct connexion 
with it. In fact, the distance between Jesus' world of thought and 
this form of Judaism is as great as that which separates it from 
modern ideas. Thus in Dalman modernising tendencies and 
Aramaic scholarship were able to combine in conducting a criticism 
of the eschatology in the teaching of Jesus in which the modern 
man thought the thoughts and the expert in Aramaic formulated 
and supported them, yet without being able in the end to make 
any impression upon the well-rounded whole formed by Jesus' 
eschatological preaching of the Kingdom. 

Whether Aramaic scholarship will contribute to the investigation 
of the life and teaching of Jesus along other lines and in a direct 
and positive fashion, only the future can show. But certainly if 
theologians will give heed to the question-marks so acutely placed 
by Dalman, and recognise it as one of their first duties to test 
carefully whether a thought or a connexion of thought is linguistically 
or inherently Greek, and only Greek, in character, they will derive 
a notable advantage from what has already been done in the 
department of Aramaic study. 

But if the service rendered by Aramaic studies has been hitherto 
mainly indirect, no success whatever has attended, or seems likely 



to attend, the attempt to apply Buddhist ideas to the explanation 
of the thoughts of Jesus. It could only indeed appear to have 
some prospect of success if we could make up our minds to follow 
the example of the author of one of the most recent of fictitious 
lives of Christ in putting Jesus to school to the Buddhist priests ; 
in which case the six years which Monsieur Nicolas Notowitsch 
allots to this purpose, would certainly be none too much for the 
completion of the course. 1 If imagination boggles at this, there 
remains no possibility of showing that Buddhist ideas exercised 
any direct influence upon Jesus. That Buddhism may have had 
some kind of influence upon Late Judaism and thus indirectly upon 
Jesus is not inherently impossible, if we are prepared to recognise 
Buddhistic influence on the Babylonian and Persian civilisations. 
But it is unproved, unprovable, and unthinkable, that Jesus derived 
the suggestion of the new and creative ideas which emerge in His 
teaching from Buddhism. The most that can be done in this 
direction is to point to certain analogies. For the parables of 
Jesus, Buddhist parallels were suggested by Renan and Havet. 2 

How little these analogies mean in the eyes of a cautious 
observer is evident from the attitude which Max Miiller took up 
towards the question. "That there are startling coincidences 
between Buddhism and Christianity," he remarks in one passage, 3 
" cannot be denied ; and it must likewise be admitted that 
Buddhism existed at least four hundred years before Christianity. 
I go even further and say that I should be extremely grateful 
if anybody would point out to me the historical channels through 
which Buddhism had influenced early Christianity. I have been 
looking for such channels all my life, but hitherto I have found 
none. What I have found is that for some of the most startling 
coincidences there are historical antecedents on both sides ; and 
if we once know these antecedents the coincidences become far 
less startling." 

A year before Max Miiller formulated his impression in these 
terms, Rudolf Seydel 4 had endeavoured to explain the analogies 

1 La Vie inconnue de Jlsus-Christ, par Nicolas Notowitsch. Paris, 1894. 

2 See Jiilicher, Gleichnisreden Jesu, i. , 1888, p. 172 ff. 

3 Max Miiller, India, What can it teach us ? London, 1883, p. 279. 

4 Rudolf Seydel, Professor in the University of Leipzig, Das Evangelium von 
Jesu in seinen Verhdltnissen zu Buddha-Sage und Buddha-Lehre mit fortlaufender 
Riicksicht auf andere Religionskreise. (The Gospel of Jesus in its relation to the 
Buddha Legend and the Teaching of Buddha, with constant reference to other religious 
groups.) Leipzig, 1882, p. 337. 

Other works by the same author are Buddha und Christus. Deutsche Biicherei 
No. 33, Breslau, Schottlander, 1884. 

Die Buddha- Legende und das Leben Jesu nach den Rvangelien. and ed. Weimar, 
1897. (Edited by the son of the late author. ) 129 pp. 

See also on this question Van den Bergh van Eysinga, Indische Einftiisse auf 
tvangelische Erzdhlungcn. Gottingen, 1904. 104 pp. 

According to J. M. Robertson, Christianity and Mythology (London, 1900), the 


which had been noticed by supposing Christianity to have been 
influenced by Buddhism. He distinguishes three distinct classes 
of analogies : 

1. Those of which the points of resemblance can without 
difficulty be explained as due to the influence of similar sources 
and motives in the two cases. 

2. Those which show a so special and unexpected agreement 
that it appears artificial to explain it from the action of similar 
causes, and the dependence of one upon the other commends 
itself as the most natural explanation. 

3. Those in which there exists a reason for the occurrence of 
the idea only within the sphere of one of the two religions, or in 
which at least it can very much more easily be conceived as origin- 
ating within the one than within the other, so that the inexplicability 
of the phenomenon within the one domain gives ground for seeking 
its source within the other. 

This last class demands a literary explanation of the analogy. 
Seydel therefore postulates, alongside of primitive forms of Matthew 
and Luke, a third source, " a poetic- apocalyptic Gospel of very early 
date which fitted its Christian material into the frame of a 
Buddhist type of Gospel, transforming, purifying, and ennobling 
the material taken from the foreign but related literature by a kind 
of rebirth inspired by the Christian Spirit." Matthew and Luke, 
especially Luke, follow this poetic Gospel up to the point where 
historic sources become more abundant, and the primitive form of 
Mark begins to dominate their narrative. But even in later parts 
the influence of this poetical source, which as an independent 
document was subsequently lost, continued to make itself felt. 

The strongest point of support for this hypothesis, if a mere 
conjecture can be described as such, is found by Seydel in the 
introductory narratives in Luke. Now it is not inherently im- 
possible that Buddhist legends, which in one form or another were 
widely current in the East, may have contributed more or less to 
the formation of the mythical preliminary history. Who knows the 
laws of the formation of legend ? Who can follow the course of the 
wind which carries the seed over land and sea ? But in general it 
may be said that Seydel actually refutes the hypothesis which he is 
defending. If the material which he brings forward is all that 
there is to suggest a relation between Buddhism and Christianity, 
we are justified in waiting until new discoveries are made in that 
quarter before asserting the necessity of a Buddhist primitive 
Gospel. That will not prevent a succession of theosophic Lives of 
Jesus from finding their account in Seydel's classical work. Seydel 
indeed delivered himself into their hands, because he did not 

Christ-Myth is merely a form of the Krishna-Myth. The whole Gospel tradition 
is to be symbolically interpreted. 


entirely avoid the rash assumption of theosophic "historical 
science " that Jewish eschatology can be equated with Buddhistic. 

Eduard von Hartmann, in the second edition of his work, " The 
Christianity of the New Testament," 1 roundly asserts that there 
can be no question of any relation of Jesus to Buddha, nor of any 
indebtedness either in His teaching or in the later moulding of the 
story of His life, but only of a parallel formation of myth. 

1 Das Christentum des Neuen Testaments, 1905. 



Oskar Holtzmann. Das Leben Jesu. Tubingen, 1901. 417 pp. 

Das Messianitatsbewusstsein Jesu und seine neueste Bestreitung. Vortrag. (The 

Messianic Consciousness of Jesus and the most recent denial of it. A Lecture. ) 

1902. 26pp. (Against Wrede. ) 
War Jesus Ekstatiker? (Was Jesus an ecstatic?) Tubingen, 1903. 139 pp. 

Paul Wilhelm Schmidt. Die Geschichte Jesu. (The History of Jesus. ) Freiburg, 

1899. 175 pp. (4th impression.) 
Die Geschichte Jesu. Erlautert. Mit drei Karten von Prof. K. Furrer (Zurich). (The 

History of Jesus. Preliminary Discussions. With three maps by Prof. K. Furrer 

of Zurich. ) Tubingen, 1904. 414 pp. 

Otto Schmiedel. Die Hauptprobleme der Leben-Jesu-Forschung. (The main 
Problems in the Study of the Life of Jesus.) Tubingen, 1902. 71 pp. and 
ed. , 1906. 

Hermann Freiherr von Soden. Die wichtigsten Fragen im Leben Jesu. (The 
most important Questions about the Life of Jesus. ) Vacation Lectures. Berlin, 

1904. in pp. 

Gnstav Frenssen. Hilligenlei. Berlin, 1905. pp. 462-593 : " Die Handschrift. " 
("The Manuscript " in which a Life of Jesus, written by one of the characters 
of the story, is given in full. ) 

Otto Pfleiderer. Das Urchristentum, seine Schriften und Lehren in geschichtlichem 
Zusammenhang beschrieben. (Primitive Christianity. Its Documents and 
Doctrines in their Historical Context.) 2nd ed. Berlin, 1902. Vol. i. , 696 pp. 

Die Entstehung des Urchristentums. (How Primitive Christianity arose. ) Munich, 

1905. 255 pp. 

Albert Kalthoff. Das Christus- Problem. Grundlinien zu einer Sozialtheologie. 

(The Christ-problem. The Ground-plan of a Social Theology. ) Leipzig, 1902. 

87 pp. 
Die Entstehung des Christentums. Neue Beitrage zum Christus- Problem. (How 

Christianity arose. New contributions to the Christ-problem.) Leipzig, 1904. 

155 PP- 
Eduard von Hartmann. Das Christentum des Neuen Testaments. (The 

Christianity of the New Testament.) 2nd revised edition of "Letters on the 

Christian Religion." Sachsa-in-the-Harz, 1905. 311 pp. 

De Jonge. Jeschua. Der klassische judische Mann. Zerstorung des kirchlichen, 
Enthtillung des judischen Jesus-Bildes. Berlin, 1904. 112 pp. (Jeshua. The 
Classical Jewish Man. In which the Jewish picture of Jesus is unveiled, and 
the ecclesiastical picture destroyed. ) 



Wolfgang Kirchbach. Was lehrte Jesus? Zwei Urevangelien. (What was the 
teaching of Jesus? Two Primitive Gospels.) Berlin, 1897. 248 pp. 2nd 
revised and greatly enlarged edition, 1902, 339 pp. 

Albert Dulk. Der Irrgang des Lebens Jesu. In geschichtlicher Auffassung 
dargestellt. (The Error of the Life of Jesus. An Historical View.) ist 
part, 1884, 395 pp. ; 2nd part, 1885, 302 pp. 

Paul de Regla. Jesus von Nazareth. German by A. Just. Leipzig, 1894. 435 pp. 

Ernest Bosc. La Vie e'sote'rique de Je"sus de Nazareth et les origines orientales du 
christianisme. (The secret Life of Jesus of Nazareth, and the Oriental Origins 
of Christianity. ) Paris, 1902. 

THE ideal Life of Jesus of the close of the nineteenth century 
is the Life which Heinrich Julius Holtzmann did not write 
but which can be pieced together from his commentary on the 
Synoptic Gospels and his New Testament Theology. 1 It is ideal 
because, for one thing, it is unwritten, and arises only in the 
idea of the reader by the aid of his own imagination, and, for 
another, because it is traced only in the most general outline. 
What Holtzmann gives us is a sketch of the public ministry, a 
critical examination of details, and a full account of the teaching 
of Jesus. He provides, therefore, the plan and the prepared 
building material, so that any one can carry out the construction 
in his own way and on his own responsibility. The cement and 
the mortar are not provided by Holtzmann ; every one must 
decide for himself how he will combine the teaching and the life, 
and arrange the details within each. 

We may recall the fact that Weisse, too, the other founder of 
the Marcan hypothesis, avoided writing a Life of Jesus, because 
the difficulty of fitting the details into the ground-plan appeared 
to him so great, not to say insuperable. It is just this modesty 
which constitutes his greatness and Holtzmann's. Thus the 
Marcan hypothesis ends, as it had begun, with a certain historical 
scepticism. 2 

1 Heinrich Julius Holtzmann, Handkommentar. Die Synoptiker. 
3rded., 1901. Lehrbuch der neutestament lichen Theologie, 1896, vol. 

2 In the Catholic Church the study of the Life of Jesus has remained down to 
the present day entirely free from scepticism. The reason of that is, that in principle 
it has remained at a pre-Straussian standpoint, and does not venture upon an 
unreserved application of historical considerations either to the miracle question 
or to the Johannine question, and naturally therefore resigns the attempt to take 
account of and explain the great historical problems. 

We may name the following Lives of Jesus produced by German Catholic 
writers : 

Joh. Nep. Sepp, Das Leben Jesu Christi. Regensburg, 1843-1846. 7 vols., 2nd 
ed., 1853-1862. 

Peter Schegg, Seeks Biicher des Lebens Jesv. (The Life of Jesus in Six Books.) 
Freiburg, 1874-1875. c. 1200 pp. 

Joseph Grimm, Das Leben Jesu. Wiirzburg, 2nd ed. , 1890-1903. 6 vols. 

Richard von Kralik, Jesu Leben und Werk. Kempten-Niirnberg, 1904. 481 pp. 

W. Capitaine, Jesus von Nazareth. Regensburg, 1905. 192 pp. 

How narrow are the limits within which the Catholic study of the life of Jesus 
moves even when it aims at scientific treatment, is illustrated by Hermann Schell's 


The subordinates, it is true, do not allow themselves to be 
disturbed by the change of attitude at head-quarters. They keep 
busily at work. That is their right, and therein consists their 
significance. By keeping on trying to take the positions, and 
constantly failing, they furnish a practical proof that the plan 
of operations worked out by the general staff is not capable of 
being carried out, and show why it is so, and what kind of new 
tactics will have to be evolved. 

The credit of having written a life of Christ which is strictly 
scientific, in its own way very remarkable, and yet foredoomed 
to failure, belongs to Oskar Holtzmann. 1 He has complete 
confidence in the Marcan plan, and makes it his task to fit all 
the sayings of Jesus into this framework, to show " what can 
belong to each period of the preaching of Jesus, and what cannot." 
His method is to give free play to the magnetic power of the 
most important passages in the Marcan text, making other sayings 
of similar import detach themselves from their present connexion 
and come and group themselves round the main passages. 

Christus (Mainz, 1903. 152 pp.). After reading the forty-two questions with 
which he introduces his narrative one might suppose that the author was well 
aware of the bearing of all the historical problems of the life of Jesus, and intended 
to supply an answer to them. Instead of doing so, however, he adopts as the work 
proceeds more and more the role of an apologist, not facing definitely either the 
miracle question or the Johannine question, but gliding over the difficulties by the aid 
of ingenious headings, so that in the end his book almost takes the form of an 
explanatory text to the eighty-nine illustrations which adorn the book and make 
it difficult to read. 

In France, Renan's work gave the incentive to an extensive Catholic ' ' Life-of- 
Jesus " literature. We may name the following : 

Louis Veuillot, La Vie de notre Seigneur J hits- Christ. Paris, 1864. 509 pp. 
German by Waldeyer. Koln-Neuss, 1864. 573 pp. 

H. Wallon, Vie de notre Seigneur Jtsus- Christ. Paris, 1865. 355 pp. 

A work which met with a particularly favourable reception was that of Pere 
Didon, the Dominican, Jtsus-Christ, Paris, 1891, 2 vols., vol. i. 483 pp., vol. ii. 
469 pp. The German translation is dated 1895. 

In the same year there appeared a new edition of the ' ' Bitter Sufferings of Our 
Lord Jesus Christ " (see above, p. 109 f. ) by Katharina Emmerich ; the cheap 
popular edition of the translation of Renan's "Life of Jesus"; and the eighth 
edition of Strauss's " Life of Jesus for the German People." 

We may quote from the ecclesiastical Approbation printed at the beginning of 
Didon's Life of Jesus. ' ' If the author sometimes seems to speak the language of his 
opponents, it is at once evident that he has aimed at defeating them on their own 
ground, and he is particularly successful in doing so when he confronts their irreligious 
a priori theories with the positive arguments of history." 

As a matter of fact the work is skilfully written, but without a spark of under- 
standing of the historical questions. 

All honour to Alfred Loisy ! (Le Quatrieme fevangile, Paris, 1903, 960 pp. ), who 
takes a clear view on the Johannine question, and denies the existence of a Johannine 
historical tradition. But what that means for the Catholic camp may be recognised 
from the excitement produced by the book and its express condemnation. See also 
the same writer's IlEvangileet I'Eglise (German translation, Munich, 1904, 189 pp.), 
in which Loisy here and there makes good historical points against Harnack's " What 
is Christianity?" 

1 Oskar Holtzmann, Professor of Theology at Giessen, was born in 1859 at 


* For example, the controversy with the scribes at Jerusalem 
regarding the charge of doing miracles by the help of Satan 
(Mark iii. 22-30) belongs, according to Holtzmann, as regards 
content and chronology, to the same period as the controversy, 
in Mark vii., about the ordinances of men which results in Jesus 
being "obliged to take to flight"; the woes pronounced upon 
Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, which now follow on the 
eulogy upon the Baptist (Matt. xi. 21-23), an( * are accordingly 
represented as having been spoken at the time of the sending 
forth of the Twelve, are drawn by the same kind of magnetic 
force into the neighbourhood of Mark vii., and "express very 
clearly the attitude of Jesus at the time of His withdrawal from 
the scene of His earlier ministry." The saying in Matt. vii. 6 
about not giving that which is holy to the dogs or casting 
pearls before swine, does not belong to the Sermon on the 
Mount, but to the time when Jesus, after Caesarea Philippi, 
forbids the disciples to reveal the secret of His Messiahship to 
the multitude ; Jesus' action in cursing the fig-tree so that it 
should henceforth bring no fruit to its owner, who was perhaps 
a poor man, is to be brought into relation with the words 
spoken on the evening before, with reference to the lavish 
expenditure involved in His anointing, "The poor ye have always 
with you," the point being that Jesus now, "in the clear conscious- 
ness of His approaching death, feels His own worth," and dismisses 
" the contingency of even the poor having to lose something for 
His sake" with the words "it does not matter." 1 

All these transpositions and new connexions mean, it is clear, 
a great deal of internal and external violence to the text. 

A further service rendered by this very thorough work of Oskar 
Holtzmann's, is that of showing how much reading between the 
lines is necessary in order to construct a Life of Jesus on the basis 
of the Marcan hypothesis in its modern interpretation. It is thus, 
for instance, that the author must have acquired the knowledge 
that the controversy about the ordinances of purification in 
Mark vii. forced the people " to choose between the old and the 
new religion " in which case it is no wonder that many " turned 
back from following Jesus." 

Where are we told that there was any question of an old and 
a new " religion " ? The disciples certainly did not think of things 
in this way, as is shown by their conduct at the time of His death 

1 This suggestion reminds us involuntarily of the old rationalistic Lives of Jesus, 
which are distressed that Jesus should have injured the good people of the country 
of the Gesarenes by sacrificing their swine in healing the demoniac. A good deal of 
old rationalistic material crops up in the very latest Lives of Jesus, as cannot indeed 
fail to be the case in view of the arbitrary interpretation of detail which is common to 
both. According to Oskar Holtzmann the barren fig-tree has also a symbolical 
meaning. " It is a pledge given by God to Jesus that His faith shall not be put to 
shame in the great work of His life." 


and the discourses of Peter in Acts. Where do we read that the 
people turned away from Jesus? In Mark vii. 17 and 24 all that 
is said is, that Jesus left the people, and in Mark vii. 33 the same 
multitude is still assembled when Jesus returns from the "banish- 
ment " into which Holtzmann relegates Him. 

Oskar Holtzmann declares that we cannot tell what was the 
size of the following which accompanied Jesus in His journey north- 
wards, and is inclined to assume that others besides the Twelve 
shared His exile. The Evangelists, however, say clearly that it was 
only the paOyrai, that is, the Twelve, who were with Him. The 
value which this special knowledge, independent of the text, has 
for the author, becomes evident a little farther on. After Peter's 
confession Jesus calls the "multitude" to Him (Mark viii. 34) and 
speaks to them of His sufferings and of taking up the cross and 
following Him. This "multitude " Holtzmann wants to make "the 
whole company of Jesus' followers," "to which belonged, not only 
the Twelve whom Jesus had formerly sent out to preach, but 
many others also." The knowledge drawn from outside the text 
is therefore required to solve a difficulty in the text. 

But how did His companions in exile, the remnant of the 
previous multitude, themselves become a multitude, the same 
multitude as before? Would it not be better to admit that we 
do not know how, in a Gentile country, a multitude could suddenly 
rise out of the ground as it were, continue with Him until Mark 
ix. 30, and then disappear into the earth as suddenly as they 
came, leaving Him to pursue His journey towards Galilee and 
Jerusalem alone ? 

Another thing which Oskar Holtzmann knows is that it required 
a good deal of courage for Peter to hail Jesus as Messiah, since the 
"exile wandering about with his small following in a Gentile 
country " answered " so badly to the general picture which people 
had formed of the coming of the Messiah." He knows too, that 
in the moment of Peter's confession, " Christianity was complete " in 
the sense that "a community separate from Judaism and centring 
about a new ideal, then arose." This "community" frequently 
appears from this point onwards. There is nothing about it in 
the narratives, which know only the Twelve and the people. 

Oskar Holtzmann's knowledge even extends to dialogues which 
are not reported in the Gospels. After the incident at Caesarea 
Philippi, the minds of the disciples were, according to him, pre- 
occupied by two questions. " How did Jesus know that He was 
the Messiah?" and "What will be the future fate of this Messiah?" 
The Lord answered both questions. He spoke to them of His 
baptism, and "doubtless in close connexion with that" He told 
them the story of His temptation, during which He had laid down 
the lines which He was determined to follow as Messiah. 


Of the transfiguration, Oskar Holtzmann can state with con- 
fidence, "that it merely represents the inner experience of the 
disciples at the moment of Peter's confession." How is it then 
that Mark expressly dates that scene, placing it (ix. 2) six days 
after the discourse of Jesus about taking up the cross and following 
Him ? The fact is that the time-indications of the text are treated 
as non-existent whenever the Marcan hypothesis requires an order 
determined by inner connexion. The statement of Luke that 
the transfiguration took place eight days after, is dismissed in the 
remark "the motive of this indication of time is doubtless to be 
found in the use of the Gospel narratives for reading in public 
worship ; the idea was that the section about the transfiguration 
should be read on the Sunday following that on which the con- 
fession of Peter formed the lesson." Where did Oskar Holtzmann 
suddenly discover this information about the order of the " Sunday 
lessons " at the time when Luke's Gospel was written ? 

It was doubtless from the same private source of information 
that the author derived his knowledge regarding the gradual 
development of the thought of the Passion in the consciousness of 
Jesus. "After the confession of Peter at Caesarea Philippi," he 
explains, " Jesus' death became for Him only the necessary point 
of transition to the glory beyond. In the discourse of Jesus to 
which the request of Salome gave occasion, the death of Jesus 
already appears as the means of saving many from death, because 
His death makes possible the coming of the Kingdom of God. 
At the institution of the Supper, Jesus regards His imminent 
death as the meritorious deed by which the blessings of the New 
Covenant, the forgiveness of sins and victory over sin, are 
permanently secured to His 'community.' We see Jesus con- 
stantly becoming more and more at home with the idea of His 
death and constantly giving it a deeper interpretation." 

Any one who is less skilled in reading the thoughts of Jesus, 
and more simple and natural in his reading of the text of Mark, 
cannot fail to observe that Jesus speaks in Mark x. 45 of His 
death as an expiation, not as a means of saving others from death, 
and that at the Lord's Supper there was no reference to His 
" community," but only to the inexplicable " many," which is also 
the word in Mark x. 45. We ought to admit freely that we do 
not know what the thoughts of Jesus about His death were at the 
time of the first prediction of the Passion after Peter's confession ; 
and to be on our guard against the " original sin " of theology, 
that of exalting the argument from silence, when it happens to 
be useful, to the rank of positive realities. 

Is there not a certain irony in the fact that the application of 
" natural " psychology to the explanation of the thoughts of Jesus 
compels the assumption of supra -historical private information 


such as this ? Bahrdt and Venturini hardly read more subjective 
interpretations into the text than many modern Lives of Jesus ; 
and the hypothesis of the secret society, which after all did 
recognise and do justice to the inexplicability from an external 
standpoint of the relation of events and of the conduct of Jesus, 
was in many respects more historical than the psychological links 
of connexion which our modernising historians discover without 
having any foundation for them in the text. 

In the end this supplementary knowledge destroys the historicity 
of the simplest sections. Oskar Holtzmann ventures to conjecture 
that the healing of the blind man at Jericho " is to be understood 
as a symbolical representation of the conversion of Zacchaeus," 
which, of course, is found only in Luke. Here then the defender 
of the Marcan hypothesis rejects the incident by which the Evangelist 
explains the enthusiasm of the entry into Jerusalem, not to mention 
that Luke tells us nothing whatever about a conversion of Zacchaeus, 
but only that Jesus was invited to his house and graciously accepted 
the invitation. 

It would be something if this almost Alexandrian symbolical 
exegesis contributed in some way to the removal of difficulties and 
to the solution of the main question, that, namely, of the present 
or future Messiah, the present or future Kingdom. Oskar Holtz- 
mann lays great stress upon the eschatological character of the 
preaching of Jesus regarding the Kingdom, and assumes that, at 
least at the beginning, it would not have been natural for His 
hearers to understand that Jesus, the herald of the Messiah, was 
Himself the Messiah. Nevertheless, he is of opinion that, in a 
certain sense, the presence of Jesus implied the presence of the 
Kingdom, that Peter and the rest of the disciples, advancing 
beyond the ideas of the multitude, recognised Him as Messiah, 
that this recognition ought to have been possible for the people 
also, and, in that case, would have been "the strongest incentive 
to abandon evil wayV and "that Jesus at the time of His entry 
into Jerusalem seems to have felt that in Isa. Ixii. 1 1 l there was 
a direct command not to withhold the knowledge of His Messiah- 
ship from the inhabitants of Jerusalem." 

But if Jesus made a Messianic entry He must thereafter have 
given Himself out as Messiah, and the whole controversy would 
necessarily have turned upon this claim. This, however, was not 
the case. According to Holtzmann, all that the hearers could 
make out of that crucial question for the Messiahship in Mark 
xu - 35-37 was on ty "that Jesus clearly showed from the Scriptures 
that the Messiah was not in reality the son of David." 2 

1 Isaiah Ixii. n, " Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh." 

2 "For Jesus Himself," Oskar Holtzmann argues, " this discovery " he means 
the antinomy which He had discovered in Psalm ex. " disposed of a doubt which 


But how was it that the Messianic enthusiasm on the part of 
the people did not lead to a Messianic controversy, in spite of the 
fact that Jesus "from the first came forward in Jerusalem as 
Messiah " ? This difficulty O. Holtzmann seems to be trying to 
provide against when he remarks in a footnote : " We have no 
evidence that Jesus, even during the last sojourn in Jerusalem, 
was recognised as Messiah except by those who belonged to the 
inner circle of disciples. The repetition by the children of the 
acclamations of the disciples (Matt. xxi. 15 and 16) can hardly be 
considered of much importance in this connexion." According 
to this, Jesus entered Jerusalem as Messiah, but except for the 
disciples and a few children no one recognised His entry as having 
a Messianic significance ! But Mark states that many spread 
their garments upon the way, and others plucked down branches 
from the trees and strewed them in the way, and that those that 
went before and those that followed after, cried " Hosanna ! " The 
Marcan narrative must therefore be kept out of sight for the 
moment in order that the Life of Jesus as conceived by the 
modern Marcan hypothesis may not be endangered. 

We should not, however, regard the evidence of supernatural 
knowledge and the self-contradictions of this Life of Jesus as 
a matter for censure, but rather as a proof of the merits of 
O. Holtzmann's work. 1 He has written the last large-scale Life 
of Jesus, the only one which the Marcan hypothesis has produced, 
and aims at providing a scientific basis for the assumptions which 
the general lines of that hypothesis compel him to make ; and in 

had always haunted him. If He had really known Himself to be descended from 
the Davidic line, He would certainly not have publicly suggested a doubt as to the 
Davidic descent of the Messiah." 

1 Oskar Holtzmann's work, War Jesus Ekstatiker? (Tubingen, 1903, 139 pp.) is 
in reality a new reading of the life of Jesus. By emphasising the ecstatic element 
he breaks with the "natural" conception of the life and teaching of Jesus; and, 
in so far, approaches the eschatological view. But he gives a very wide significance 
to the term ecstatic, subsuming under it, it might almost be said, all the eschatological 
thoughts and utterances of Jesus. He explains, for instance, that ' ' the conviction 
of the approaching destruction of existing conditions is ecstatic." At the same time, 
the only purpose served by the hypothesis of ecstasy is to enable the author to 
attribute to Jesus "The belief that in His own work the Kingdom of God was 
already beginning, and the promise of the Kingdom to individuals ; this can only 
be considered ecstatic. " The opposites which Bousset brings together by the 
conception of paradox are united by Holtzmann by means of the hypothesis of 
ecstasy. That is, however, to play fast and loose with the meaning of "ecstasy." 
An ecstasy is, in the usual understanding of the word, an abnormal, transient 
condition of excitement in which the subject's natural capacity for thought and 
feeling, and therewith all impressions from without, are suspended, being superseded 
by an intense mental excitation and activity. Jesus may possibly have been in an 
ecstatic state at His baptism and at the transfiguration. What O. Holtzmann 
represents as a kind of permanent ecstatic state is rather an eschatological fixed 
idea. With eschatology, ecstasy has no essential connexion. It is possible to be 
eschatologically minded without being an ecstatic, and vice versa. Philo attributes 
a great importance to ecstasy in his religious life, but he was scarcely, if at all, 
interested in eschatology. 


this process it becomes clearly apparent that the connexion of 
events can only be carried through at the decisive passages by 
violent treatment, or even by rejection of the Marcan text in the 
interests of the Marcan hypothesis. 

These merits do not belong in the same measure to the other 
modern Lives of Jesus, which follow more or less the same lines. 
They are short sketches, in some cases based on lectures, and 
their brevity makes them perhaps more lively and convincing than 
Holtzmann's work ; but they take for granted just what he felt it 
necessary to prove. P. W. Schmidt's 1 Geschichte Jesu (1899), 
which as a work of literary art has few rivals among theological 
works of recent years, confines itself to pure narrative. The 
volume of prolegomena which appeared in 1904, and is intended 
to exhibit the foundations of the narrative, treats of the sources, of 
the Kingdom of God, of the Son of Man, and of the Law. It 
makes the most of the weakening of the eschatological standpoint 
which is manifested in the second edition of Johannes Weiss's 
"Preaching of Jesus," but it does not give sufficient prominence to 
the difficulties of reconstructing the public ministry of Jesus. 

Neither Otto Schmiedel's " The Principal Problems of the Study 
of the Life of Jesus," nor von Soden's " Vacation Lectures " on " The 
Principal Questions in the Life of Jesus " fulfils the promise of its 
title. 2 They both aim rather at solving new problems proposed by 
themselves than at restating the old ones and adding new. They 
hope to meet the views of Johannes Weiss by strongly emphasising 
the eschatology, and think they can escape the critical scepticism 
of writers like Volkmar and Brand by assuming an " Ur-Markus." 
Their view is, therefore, that with a few modifications dictated by 
the eschatological and sceptical school, the traditional conception 
of the Life of Jesus is still tenable, whereas it is just the a priori 
presuppositions of this conception, hitherto held to be self-evident, 
which constitute the main problems. 

1 P. W. Schmidt, now Professor in Basle, was born in Berlin in 1845. 

3 Otto Schmiedel, Professor at the Gymnasium at Eisenach, Die Hauptprobleme 
der Leben-Jesu-Forschung. Tubingen, 1902. 71 pp. Schmiedel was born in 1858. 

Hermann Freiherr von Soden, Die wichtigsten Fragen im Leben Jesu. Voa 
Soden, Professor in Berlin, and preacher at the Jerusalem Kirche, was born in 1852. 

We may mention also the following works : 

Fritz Earth (born 1856, Professor at Bern), Die Hauptprobleme des Leb ens Jesu. 
isted. , 1899; 2nd ed. , 1903. 

Friedrich Nippold's Der Entwicklungsgang des Lebens Jesu im Wortlaut der drei 
ersten Evangelien (The Course of the Life of Jesus in the Words of the First Three 
Evangelists) (Hamburg, 1895, 2I 3 PP-) * s on ^y an arrangement of the sections. 

Konrad Furrer's Vortrdge iiber das Leben Jesu Christi (Lectures on the Life of 
Jesus Christ) have a special charm by reason of the author's knowledge of the 
country and the locality. Furrer, who was born in 1838, is Professor at Zurich. 

Another work which should not be forgotten is R. Otto's Leben und Wirken Jesu 
nach historisch-kritischer Auffassung (Life and Work of Jesus from the Point of View 
of Historical Criticism). A Lecture. Gottingen, 1902. Rudolf Otto, born in 1869,. 
is Privat-Docent at Gottingen. 


" It is self-evident," says von Soden in one passage, " in view of 
the inner connexion in which the Kingdom of God and the Messiah 
stood in the thoughts of the people . . . that in all classes the 
question must have been discussed, so that Jesus could not 
permanently have avoided their question, * What of the Messiah ? 
Art thou not He ? ' " Where, in the Synoptics, is there a word 
to show that this is "self-evident"? When the disciples in 
Mark viii. tell Jesus " whom men held Him to be," none of them 
suggests that any one had been tempted to regard Him as' the 
Messiah. And that was shortly before Jesus set out for Jerusalem. 

From the day when the envoys of the Scribes from Jerusalem 
first appeared in the north, the easily influenced Galilaean multi- 
tude began, according to von Soden, "to waver." How does he 
know that the Galilaeans were easily influenced? How does he 
know they " wavered " ? The Gospels tell us neither one nor the 
other. The demand for a sign was, to quote von Soden again, a 
demand for a proof of His Messiahship. " Yet another indication," 
adds the author, " that later Christianity, in putting so high a value 
on the miracles of Jesus as a proof of His Messiahship, departed 
widely from the thoughts of Jesus." 

Before levelling reproaches of this kind against later Christianity, 
it would be well to point to some passage of Mark or Matthew in 
which there is mention of a demand for a sign as a proof of His 

When the appearance of Jesus in the south we are still 
following von Soden aroused the Messianic expectations of the 
people, as they had formerly been aroused in His native country, 
" they once more failed to understand the correction of them 
which Jesus had made by the manner of His entry and His 
-conduct in Jerusalem." They are unable to understand this 
" transvaluation of values," and as often as the impression made 
by His personality suggested the thought that He was the Messiah, 
they became doubtful again. Wherein consisted the correction of 
the Messianic expectation given at the triumphal entry ? Was it 
that He rode upon an ass? Would it not be better if modern 
historical theology, instead of always making the people "grow 
doubtful," were to grow a little doubtful of itself, and begin to look 
for the evidence of that " transvaluation of values " which, accord- 
ing to them, the contemporaries of Jesus were not able to follow ? 

Von Soden also possesses special information about the 
"peculiar history of the origin" of the Messianic consciousness of 
Jesus. He knows that it was subsidiary to a primary general 
religious consciousness of Sonship. The rise of this Messianic 
consciousness implies, in its turn, the "transformation of the 
conception of the Kingdom of God, and explains how in the mind 
of Jesus this conception was both present and future." The great- 


ness of Jesus is, he thinks, to be found in the fact that for Him 
this Kingdom of God was only a " limiting conception " the 
ultimate goal of a gradual process of approximation. "To the 
question whether it was to be realised here or in the beyond Jesus 
would have answered, as He answered a similar question, 'That, 
no man knoweth ; no, not the Son.' " 

As if He had not answered that question in the petition " Thy 
Kingdom come " supposing that such a question could ever have 
occurred to a contemporary in the sense that the Kingdom was to 
pass from the beyond into the present ! 

This modern historical theology will not allow Jesus to have 
formed a "theory" to explain His thoughts about His passion. 
" For Him the certainty was amply sufficient ; * My death will effect 
what My life has not been able to accomplish.' " 

Is there then no theory implied in the saying about the " ransom 
for many," and in that about " My blood which is shed for many 
for the forgiveness of sins," although Jesus does not explain it? 
How does von Soden know what was " amply sufficient " for Jesus 
or what was not ? 

Otto Schmiedel goes so far as to deny that Jesus gave distinct 
expression to an expectation of suffering ; the most He can have 
done and this is only a " perhaps " is to have hinted at it in His 

In strong contrast with this confidence in committing them- 
selves to historical conjectures stands the scepticism with which 
von Soden and Schmiedel approach the Gospels. " It is at once 
evident," says Schmiedel, " that the great groups of discourses in 
Matthew, such as the Sermon on the Mount, the Seven Parables 
of the Kingdom, and so forth, were not arranged in this order in 
the source (the Logid), still less by Jesus Himself. The order is, 
doubtless, due to the Evangelist. But what is the answer to the 
question, " On what grounds is this ' at once ' clear ? " l 

Von Soden's pronouncement is even more radical. " In the 
composition of the discourses," he says, "no regard is paid in 
Matthew, any more than in John, to the supposed audience, or to 
the point of time in the life of Jesus to which they are attributed." 
As early as the Sermon on the Mount we find references to perse- 
cutions, and warnings against false prophets. Similarly, in the 
charge to the Twelve, there are also warnings, which undoubtedly 

1 Schmiedel is not altogether right in making " the Heidelberg Professor Paulus " 
follow the same lines as Reimarus, '' except that his works, of 1804 and 1828, are less 
malignant, but only the more dull for that." In reality the deistic Life of Jesus by 
Reimarus, and the rationalistic Life by Paulus have nothing in common. Paulus was 
perhaps influenced by Venturini, but not by Reimarus. The assertion that Strauss 
wrote his " Life of Jesus for the German people" because " Renan's fame gave him 
no peace" is not justified, either by Strauss's character or by the circumstances in 
which the second Life of Jesus was produced. 


belong to a later time. Intimate sayings, evidently intended for 
the inner circle of disciples, have the widest publicity given to them. 

But why should whatever is incomprehensible to us be un- 
historical? Would it not be better simply to admit that we do 
not understand certain connexions of ideas and turns of expression 
in the discourses of Jesus ? 

But instead even of making an analytical examination of the 
apparent connexions, and stating them as problems, the discourses 
of Jesus and the sections of the Gospels are tricked out ' with 
ingenious headings which have nothing to do with them. Thus, 
for instance, von Soden heads the Beatitudes (Matt. v. 3-12), 
"What Jesus brings to men," the following verses (Matt. v. 13-16), 
"What He makes of men." P. W. Schmidt, in his "History of 
Jesus," shows himself a past master in this art. "The rights of 
the wife " is the title of the dialogue about divorce, as if the question 
at stake had been for Jesus the equality of the sexes, and not 
simply and solely the sanctity of marriage. "Sunshine for the 
children" is his heading for the scene where Jesus takes the 
children in His arms as if the purpose of Jesus had been to 
protest against severity in the upbringing of children. Again, he 
brings together the stories of the man who must first bury his 
father, of the rich young man, of the dispute about precedence, of 
Zacchaeus, and others which have equally little connexion under 
the heading " Discipline for Jesus' followers." These often brilliant 
creations of artificial connexions of thought give a curious attractive- 
ness to the works of Schmidt and von Soden. The latter's 
survey of the Gospels is a really delightful performance. But this 
kind of thing is not consistent with pure objective history. 

Disposing in this lofty fashion of the connexion of events, 
Schmiedel and von Soden do not find it difficult to distinguish 
between Mark and " Ur-Markus " ; that is, to retain just so much of 
the Gospel as will fit in to their construction. Schmiedel feels sure 
that Mark was a skilful writer, and that the redactor was " a Christian 
of Pauline sympathies." According to " Ur-Markus," to which 
Mark iv. 33 belongs, the Lord speaks in parables in order that the 
people may understand Him the better ; " it was only by the redactor 
that the Pauline theory about hardening their hearts (Rom. ix.-xi.) 
was interpolated, in Mark iv. 10 ff., and the meaning of Mark iv. 33 
was thus obscured." 

It is high time that instead of merely asserting Pauline influ- 
ences in Mark some proof of the assertion should be given. What 
kind of appearance would Mark have presented if it had really 
passed through the hands of a Pauline Christian ? 

Von Soden's analysis is no less confident. The three out- 
standing miracles, the stilling of the storm, the casting out of the 
legion of devils, the overcoming of death (Mark iv. 35~v. 43), the 


romantically told story of the death of the Baptist (Mark vi. 17-29), 
the story of the feeding of the multitudes in the desert, of Jesus' 
walking on the water, and of the transfiguration upon an high 
mountain, and the healing of the lunatic boy all these are dashed 
in with a broad brush, and offer many analogies to Old Testament 
stories, and some suggestions of Pauline conceptions, and reflections 
of experiences of individual believers and of the Christian com- 
munity. " All these passages were, doubtless, first written down by 
the compiler of our Gospel." 

But how can Schmiedel and von Soden fail to see that they 
are heading straight for Bruno Bauer's position? They assert 
that there is no distinction of principle between the way in which 
the Johannine and the Synoptic discourses are composed : the 
recognition of this was Bruno Bauer's starting-point. They propose 
to find experiences of the Christian community and Pauline teach- 
ing reflected in the Gospel of Mark ; Bruno Bauer asserted the 
same. The only difference is that he was consistent, and extended 
his criticism to those portions of the Gospel which do not present 
the stumbling-block of the supernatural. Why should these not 
also contain the theology and the experiences of the community 
transformed into history ? Is it only because they remain within 
the limits of the natural ? 

The real difficulty consists in the fact that all the passages which 
von Soden ascribes to the redactor stand, in spite of their mythical 
colouring, in a closely-knit historical connexion ; in fact, the 
historical connexion is nowhere so close. How can any one cut 
out the feeding of the multitudes and the transfiguration as narra- 
tives of secondary origin without destroying the whole of the 
historical fabric of the Gospel of Mark ? Or was it the redactor 
who created the plan of the Gospel of Mark, as von Soden seems 
to imply ? l 

1 Von Soden gives on pp. 24 ff. the passages of Mark which he supposes to be 
derived from the Petrine tradition in a different order from that in which they occur 
in Mark, regrouping them freely. He puts together, for instance, Mark i. 16-20, 
iii. 13-19, vi. 7-16, viii. 27-ix. i, ix. 33-40, under the title "The formation and 
training of the band of disciples. " He supposes Mark, the pupil of Peter, to have 
grouped in this way by a kind of association of ideas " what he had heard Peter 
relate in his missionary journeys, when writing it down after Peter's death, not con- 
nectedly, but giving as much as he could remember of it " ; this would be in accord- 
ance with the statement of Papias that Mark wrote "not in order." Papias's 
statement, therefore, refers to an " Ur-Markus," which he found lacking in historical 

But what are we to make of a representative of the early Church thus approaching 
the Gospels with the demand for historical arrangement? And good, simple old 
Papias, of all people ! 

But if the Marcan plan was not laid down in " Ur-Markus," there is nothing for 
it since the plan was certainly not given in the collection of Logia but to ascribe 
it to the author of our Gospel of Mark, to the man, that is, who wrote down for the 
first time these " Pauline conceptions," those reflections of experiences of individual 
believers and of the community, and inserted them into the Gospel. It is proposed, 



But in that case how can a modern Life of Jesus be founded 
on the Marcan plan ? How much of Mark is, in the end, historical ? 
Why should not Peter's confession at Caesarea Philippi have been 
derived from the theology of the primitive Church, just as well as 
the transfiguration ? The only difference is that the incident at 
Caesarea Philippi is more within the limits of the possible, whereas 
the scene upon the mountain has a supernatural colouring. But is 
the incident at Philippi so entirely natural ? Whence does Peter 
know that Jesus is the Messiah ? 

This semi-scepticism is therefore quite unjustifiable, since in 
Mark natural and supernatural both stand in an equally good 
and close historical connexion. Either, then, one must be com- 
pletely sceptical like Bruno Bauer, and challenge without exception 
all the facts and connexions of events asserted by Mark ; or, if one 
means to found an historical Life of Jesus upon Mark, one must take 
the Gospel as a whole because of the plan which runs right through 
it, accepting it as historical and then endeavouring to explain why 
certain narratives, like the feeding of the multitude and the trans- 
figuration, are bathed in a supernatural light, and what is the 
historical basis which underlies them. A division between the 
natural and supernatural in Mark is purely arbitrary, because the 
supernatural is an essential part of the history. The mere fact that 
he has not adopted the mythical material of the childhood stories 
and the post-resurrection scenes ought to have been accepted as 
evidence that the supernatural material which he does embody 
belongs to a category of its own and cannot be simply rejected 
as due to the invention of the primitive Christian community. It 
must belong in some way to the original tradition. 

Oskar Holtzmann realises that to a certain extent. According 
to him Mark is a writer "who embodied the materials which he 
received from the tradition more faithfully than discriminatingly." 
"That which was related as a symbol of inner events, he takes 
as history in the case, for example, of the temptation, the walking 
on the sea, the transfiguration of Jesus." "Again in other cases 
he has made a remarkable occurrence into a supernatural miracle, 

then, to retain the outline which he has given of the life of Jesus, and reject at the 
same time what he relates. That is to say, he is to be believed where it is convenient 
to believe him, and silenced where it is inconvenient. No more complete refutation 
of the Marcan hypothesis could possibly be given than this analysis, for it destroys 
its very foundation, the confident acceptance of the historicity of the Marcan plan. 

If there is to be an analysis of sources in Mark, then the Marcan plan must be 
ascribed to " Ur-Markus," otherwise the analysis renders the Markan hypothesis 
historically useless. But if "Ur-Markus" is to be reconstructed on the basis of 
assigning to it the Marcan plan, then we cannot separate the natural from the super- 
natural, for the supernatural scenes, like the feeding of the multitude and the trans- 
figuration, are among the main features of the Marcan outline. 

No hypothetical analysis of "Ur-Markus" has escaped this dilemma; what it 
can effect by literary methods is historically useless, and what would be historically 
useful cannot be attained nor "presented " by literary methods. 


as in the case of the feeding of the multitude, where Jesus' 
courageous love and ready organising skill overcame a momentary 
difficulty, whereas the Evangelist represents it as an amazing 
miracle of Divine omnipotence." 

Oskar Holtzmann is thus more cautious than von Soden. He is 
inclined to see in the material which he wishes to exclude from the 
history, not so much inventions of the Church as mistaken shaping 
of history by Mark, and in this way he gets back to genuine old- 
fashioned rationalism. In the feeding of the multitude Jesus 
showed "the confidence of a courageous housewife who knows 
how to provide skilfully for a great crowd of children from small 
resources." Perhaps in a future work Oskar Holtzmann will be 
less reserved, not for the sake of theology, but of national well- 
being, and will inform his contemporaries what kind of domestic 
economy it was which made it possible for the Lord to satisfy with 
five loaves and two fishes several thousand hungry men. 

Modern historical theology, therefore, with its three-quarters 
scepticism, is left at last with only a torn and tattered Gospel of 
Mark in its hands. One would naturally suppose that these pre- 
liminary operations upon the source would lead to the production 
of a Life of Jesus of a similarly fragmentary character. Nothing 
of the kind. The outline is still the same as in Schenkel's day, 
and the confidence with which the construction is carried out is 
not less complete. Only the catch-words with which the narrative 
is enlivened have been changed, being now taken in part from 
Nietzsche. The liberal Jesus has given place to the Germanic 
Jesus. This is a figure which has as little to do with the Marcan 
hypothesis as the " liberal " Jesus had which preceded it ; otherwise 
it could not so easily have survived the downfall of the Gospel 
of Mark as an historical source. It is evident, therefore, that this 
professedly historical Jesus is not a purely historical figure, but 
one which has been artificially transplanted into history. As 
formerly in Renan the romantic spirit created the personality of 
Jesus in its own image, so at the present day the Germanic spirit 
is making a Jesus after its own likeness. What is admitted as 
historic is just what the Spirit of the time can take out of the records 
in order to assimilate it to itself and bring out of it a living form. 

Frenssen betrays the secret of his teachers when in Hilligenlei 
he confidently superscribes the narrative drawn from the "latest 
critical investigations " with the title " The Life of the Saviour 
portrayed according to German research as the basis for a spiritual 
re-birth of the German nation." 1 

1 Von Soden, for instance, germanises Jesus when he writes, ' ' and this nature 
is sound to the core. In spite of its inwardness there is no trace of an exaggerated 
sentimentality. In spite of all the intensity of prayer there is nothing of ecstasy or 
vision. No apocalyptic dream-pictures find a lodging-place in His soul." 

Is a man who teaches a world-renouncing ethic which sometimes soars to the 


As a matter of fact the Life of Jesus of the " Manuscript " 1 is 
unsatisfactory both scientifically and artistically, just because it aims 
at being at once scientific and artistic. If only Frenssen, with 
his strongly life-accepting instinct, which gives to his thinking, 
at least in his earliest writings where he reveals himself without 
artificiality, such a wonderful simplicity and force, had dared to 
read his Jesus boldly from the original records, without following 
modern historical theology in all its meanderings ! He would have 
been able to force his way through the underwood well enough 
if only he had been content to break the branches that got in his 
way, instead of always waiting until some one went in front to 
disentwine them for him. The dependence to which he sur- 
renders himself is really distressing. In reading almost every 
paragraph one can tell whether Kai Jans was looking, as he 
wrote it, into Oskar Holtzmann or P. W. Schmidt or von Soden. 
Frenssen resigns the dramatic scene of the healing of the blind 
man at Jericho. Why? Because at this point he was listening 
to Holtzmann, who proposes to regard the healing of the blind 
man as only a symbolical representation of the "conversion of 
Zacchaeus." Frenssen's masters have robbed him of all creative 
spontaneity. He does not permit himself to discover motifs for 
himself, but confines himself to working over and treating in cruder 
colours those which he finds in his teachers. 

And since he cannot veil his assumptions in the cautious, care- 
fully modulated language of the theologians, the faults of the 
modern treatment of the life of Jesus appear in him exaggerated 
an hundredfold. The violent dislocation of narratives from their 
connexion, and the forcing upon them of a modern interpretation, 
becomes a mania with the writer and a torture to the reader. 
The range of knowledge not drawn from the text is infinitely 
increased. Kai Jans sees Jesus after the temptation cowering 
beneath the brow of the hill "a poor lonely man, torn by fearful 
doubts, a man in the deepest distress." He knows too that there 
was often great danger that Jesus would " betray the ' Father in 
heaven ' and go back to His village to take up His handicraft 
again, but now as a man with a torn and distracted soul and a 
conscience tortured by the gnawings of remorse." 

The pupil is not content, as his teachers had been, merely 
to make the people sometimes believe in Jesus and sometimes doubt 

dizzy heights such as that of Matt. xix. 12, according to our conceptions " sound to the 
core " ? And does not the life of Jesus present a number of occasions on which He 
seems to have been in an ecstasy ? 

Thus, von Soden has not simply read his Jesus out of the texts, but has added 
something of his own, and that something is Germanic in colouring. 

1 i.e. the MS. Life of Jesus written by Kai Jans, one of the characters of the 
novel. The way in which the whole life-experience of this character prepares 
him for the writing of the Life is strikingly if not always acceptably worked 


Him ; he makes the enthusiastic earthly Messianic belief of the 
people " tug and tear " at Jesus Himself. Sometimes one is tempted 
to ask whether the author in his zeal "to use conscientiously 
the results of the whole range of scientific criticism " has not for- 
gotten the main thing, the study of the Gospels themselves. 

And is all this science supposed to be new ? l Is this picture 
of Jesus really the outcome of the latest criticism ? Has it not 
been in existence since the beginning of the 'forties, since Weisse's 
criticism of the Gospel history ? Is it not in principle the same 
as Renan's, only that Germanic lapses of taste here take the place 
of Gallic, and "German art for German people," 2 here quite out 
of place, has done its best to remove from the picture every trace 
of fidelity ? 

Kai Jans' " Manuscript " represents the limit of the process of 
diminishing the personality of Jesus. Weisse left Him still some 
greatness, something unexplained, and did not venture to apply to 
everything the petty standards of inquisitive modern psychology. In 
the 'sixties psychology became more confident and Jesus smaller ; 
at the close of the century the confidence of psychology is at its 
greatest and the figure of Jesus at its smallest so small, that 
Frenssen ventures to let His life be projected and written by one 
who is in the midst of a love affair ! 

This human life of Jesus is to be " heart-stirring " from beginning 
to end, and " in no respect to go beyond human standards " ! And 
this Jesus who "racks His brains and shapes His plans" is to 
contribute to bring about a re-birth of the German people. How 
could He? He is Himself only a phantom created by the 
Germanic mind in pursuit of a religious will-o'-the-wisp. 

It is possible, however, to do injustice to Frenssen's presentation, 
and to the whole of the confident, unconsciously modernising 
criticism of which he here acts as the mouthpiece. These writers 
have the great merit of having brought certain cultured circles 
nearer to Jesus and made them more sympathetic towards Him. 
Their fault lies in their confidence, which has blinded them to what 
Jesus is and is not, what He can and cannot do, so that in the 
end they fail to understand " the signs of the times " either as 
historians or as men of the present. 

1 Frenssen's Kai Jans professes to have used the "results of the whole range 
of critical investigation" in writing his work. Among the books which he enumerates 
and recommends in the after-word, we miss the works of Strauss, Weisse, Keim, 
Volkmar, and Brandt, and, generally speaking, the names of those who in the 
past have done something really great and original. Of the moderns, Johannes Weiss 
is lacking. Wrede is mentioned, but is virtually ignored. Pfleiderer's remarkable 
and profound presentation of Jesus in the Urchristentum (E.T. "Primitive 
Christianity," vol. ii., 1909) is non-existent so far as he is concerned. 

2 Heimatkunst, the ideal that every production of German art should be racy 
of the soil. It has its relative justification as a protest against the long subservience 
of some departments of German art to French taste. TRANSLATOR. 


If the Jesus who owes His birth to the Marcan hypothesis 
and modern psychology were capable of regenerating the world 
He would have done it long ago, for He is nearly sixty years old 
and his latest portraits are much less life-like than those drawn by 
Weisse, Schenkel, and Renan, or by Keim, the most brilliant 
painter of them all. 

For the last ten years modern historical theology has more and 
more adapted itself to the needs of the man in the street. More 
and more, even in the best class of works, it makes use of attractive 
head-lines as a means of presenting its results in a lively form to 
the masses. Intoxicated with its own ingenuity in inventing these, 
it becomes more and more confident in its cause, and has come to 
believe that the world's salvation depends in no small measure upon 
the spreading of its own " assured results " broad-cast among the 
people. It is time that it should begin to doubt itself, to doubt its 
" historical " Jesus, to doubt the confidence with which it has 
looked to its own construction for the moral and religious re- 
generation of our time. Its Jesus is not alive, however Germanic 
they may make Him. 

It was no accident that the chief priest of "German art for 
German people " found himself at one with the modern theologians 
and offered them his alliance. Since the 'sixties the critical study 
of the Life of Jesus in Germany has been unconsciously under the in- 
fluence of an imposing modern-religious nationalism in art. It has 
been deflected by it as by an underground magnetic current. It 
was in vain that a few purely historical investigators uplifted their 
voices in protest. The process had to work itself out. For 
historical criticism had become, in the hands of most of those who 
practised it, a secret struggle to reconcile the Germanic religious 
spirit with the Spirit of Jesus of Nazareth. 1 It was concerned for 
the religious interests of the present. Therefore its error had a 
kind of greatness, it was in fact the greatest thing about it ; and 
the severity with which the pure historian treats it is in proportion 
to his respect for its spirit. For this German critical study of the 
Life of Jesus is an essential part of German religion. As of old 
Jacob wrestled with the angel, so German theology wrestles with 
Jesus of Nazareth and will not let Him go until He bless it that 
is, until He will consent to serve it and will suffer Himself to be 
drawn by the Germanic spirit into the midst of our time and our 
civilisation. But when the day breaks, the wrestler must let Him 
go. He will not cross the ford with us. Jesus of Nazareth will 
not suffer Himself to be modernised. As an historic figure He 
refuses to be detached from His own time. He has no answer 

1 The Jesus of H. S. Chamberlain's Worte Christi, 1901, 286 pp., is also 
modern. But the modernity is not so obtrusive, because he describes only the 
teaching of Jesus, not His life. 


for the question, " Tell us Thy name in our speech and for our 
day ! " But He does bless those who have wrestled with Him, so 
that, though they cannot take Him with them, yet, like men who 
have seen God face to face and received strength in their souls, 
they go on their way with renewed courage, ready to do battle with 
the world and its powers. 

But the historic Jesus and the Germanic spirit cannot be 
brought together except by an act of historic violence which in 
the end injures both religion and history. A time will come when 
our theology, with its pride in its historical character, will get rid of 
its rationalistic bias. This bias leads it to project back into 
history what belongs to our own time, the eager struggle of the 
modern religious spirit with the Spirit of Jesus, and seek in history 
justification and authority for its beginning. The consequence is 
that it creates the historical Jesus in its own image, so that it is not 
the modern spirit influenced by the Spirit of Jesus, but the Jesus 
of Nazareth constructed by modern historical theology, that is set 
to work upon our race. 

Therefore both the theology and its picture of Jesus are poor 
and weak. Its Jesus, because He has been measured by the petty 
standard of the modern man, at variance with himself, not to say 
of the modern candidate in theology who has made shipwreck; 
the theologians themselves, because instead of seeking, for them- 
selves and others, how they may best bring the Spirit of Jesus in 
living power into our world, they keep continually forging new 
portraits of the historical Jesus, and think they have accomplished 
something great when they have drawn an Oh ! of astonishment 
from the multitude, such as the crowds of a great city emit on 
catching sight of a new advertisement in coloured lights. 

Any one who, admiring the force and authority of genuine 
rationalism, has got rid of the naive self-satisfaction of modern 
theology, which is in essence only the degenerate offspring of 
rationalism with a tincture of history, rejoices in the feebleness 
and smallness of its professedly historical Jesus, rejoices in all those 
who are beginning to doubt the truth of this portrait, rejoices in 
the over-severity with which it is attacked, rejoices to take a share 
in its destruction. 

Those who have begun to doubt are many, but most of them 
only make known their doubts by their silence. There is one, 
however, who has spoken out, and one of the greatest Otto 
Pfleiderer. 1 

In the first edition of his Urchristentum^ published in 1887, he 
still shared the current conceptions and constructions, except that 
he held the credibility of Mark to be more affected than was 

1 Born in 1839 at Stettin. Studied at Tubingen, was appointed Professor in 
1870 at Jena and in 1875 at Berlin. (Died 1908.) 


usually supposed by hypothetical Pauline influences. In the 
second edition l his positive knowledge has been ground down in 
the struggle with the sceptics it is Brandt who has especially 
affected him and with the partisans of eschatology. This is the 
first advance-guard action of modern theology coming into touch 
with the troops of Reimarus and Bruno Bauer. 

Pfleiderer accepts the purely eschatological conception of the 
Kingdom of God and holds also that the ethics of Jesus were 
wholly conditioned by eschatology. But in regard to the question 
of the Messiahship of Jesus he takes his stand with the sceptics. 
He rejects the hypothesis of a Messiah who, as being a " spiritual 
Messiah," conceals His claim, but on the other hand, he cannot 
accept the eschatological Soi^-of-Man Messiahship having reference 
to the future, which the eschatological school finds in the utterances 
of Jesus, since it implies prophecies of His suffering, death, and 
resurrection which criticism cannot admit. " Instead of finding the 
explanation of how the Messianic title arose in the reflections of 
Jesus about the death which lay before Him," he is inclined to 
find it " rather in the reflection of the Christian community upon 
the catastrophic death and exaltation of its Lord after this had 
actually taken place." 

Even the Marcan narrative is not history. The scepticism in 
regard to the main source, with which writers like Oskar Holtz- 
mann, Schmiedel, and von Soden conduct a kind of intellectual 
flirtation, is here erected into a principle. " It must be recognised," 
says Pfleiderer, "that in respect of the recasting of the history 
under theological influences, the whole of our Gospels stand in 
principle on the same footing. The distinction between Mark, 
the other two Synoptists, and John is only relative a distinction 
of degree corresponding to different stages of theological reflection 
and the development of the ecclesiastical consciousness." If only 
Bruno Bauer could have lived to see this triumph of his opinions ! 

Pfleiderer, however, is conscious that scepticism, too, has its 
difficulties. He wishes, indeed, to reject the confession of Jesus 
before the Sanhedrin " because its historicity is not well established 
(none of the disciples were present to hear it, and the apocalyptic 
prophecy which is added, Mark xiv. 62, is certainly derived from 
the ideas of the primitive Church) " ; on the other hand, he is 
inclined to admit as possibilities though marking them with a 
note of interrogation that Jesus may have accepted the homage 
of the Passover pilgrims, and that the controversy with the Scribes 

1 Das Urchristentum, seine Schriften und Lehren in geschichtlichem Zusammenhang 
beschrieben. and ed. Berlin, 1902. Vol. i. (696pp.), 615 ff. : Die Predigt Jesu und 
der Glaube der Urgemeinde (English Translation, "Primitive Christianity," chap. 
xvi. ). Pfleiderer's latest views are set forth in his work, based on academic lectures, 
Die Entstehung des Urchristentums. (How Christianity arose.) Munich, 1905. 
255 PP- 


about the Son of David had some kind of reference to Jesus 

On the other hand, he takes it for granted that Jesus did not 
prophesy His death, on the ground that the arrest, trial, and 
betrayal must have lain outside all possibility of calculation even 
for Him. All these, he thinks, came upon Jesus quite unexpectedly. 
The only thing that He might have apprehended was "an attack 
by hired assassins," and it is to this that He refers in the saying 
about the two swords in Luke xxii. 36 and 38, seeing that two 
swords would have sufficed as a protection against such an attack 
as that, though hardly for anything further. When, however, he 
remarks in this connexion that "this has been constantly overlooked" 
in the romances dealing with the Life of Jesus, he does injustice 
to Bahrdt and Venturini, since according to them the chief concern 
of the secret society in the later period of the life of Jesus 
was to protect Jesus from the assassination with which He was 
menaced, and to secure His formal arrest and trial by the 
Sanhedrin. Their view of the historical situation is therefore 
identical with Pfleiderer's, viz. that assassination was possible, 
but that administrative action was unexpected and is inexplicable. 

But how is this Jesus to be connected with primitive Christianity? 
How did the primitive Church's belief in the Messiahship of Jesus 
arise ? To that question Pfleiderer can give no other answer than 
that of Volkmar and Brandt, that is to say, none. He laboriously 
brings together wood, straw, and stubble, but where he gets the 
fire from to kindle the whole into the ardent faith of primitive 
Christianity he is unable to make clear. 

According to Albert Kalthoff, 1 the fire lighted itself Chris- 
tianity arose by spontaneous combustion, when the inflammable 
material, religious and social, which had collected together in the 
Roman Empire, came in contact with the Jewish Messianic 
expectations. Jesus of Nazareth never existed ; and even suppos- 
ing He had been one of the numerous Jewish Messiahs who were 
put to death by crucifixion, He certainly did not found Christianity. 
The story of Jesus which lies before us in the Gospels is in reality 
only the story of the way in which the picture of Christ arose, that 
is to say, the story of the growth of the Christian community. 
There is therefore no problem of the Life of Jesus, but only a 
problem of the Christ. 

1 Albert Kalthoff, Das Christusproblem. Grundlinien zu eincr Soaialtheologie. 
(The Problem of the Christ: Ground-plan of a Social Theology.) Leipzig, 1902. 
87 pp. 

Die Entstehung des Christentums. Neue Beitrdge zum Christusproblem. (How 
Christianity arose.) Leipzig, 1904. 155 pp. 

Albert Kalthoff was born in 1850 at Barmen, and is engaged in pastoral work 
in Bremen. 


Kalthoff has not indeed always been so negative. When in 
the year 1880 he gave a series of lectures on the Life of Jesus he 
felt himself justified " in taking as his basis without further argument 
the generally accepted results of modern theology." Afterwards he 
became so completely doubtful about the Christ after the flesh 
whom he had at that time depicted before his hearers that he 
wished to exclude Him even from the register of theological 
literature, and omitted to enter these lectures in the list of his 
writings, although they had appeared in print. 1 

His quarrel with the historical Jesus of modern theology was 
that he could find no connecting link between the Life of Jesus 
constructed by the latter and primitive Christianity. Modern 
theology, he remarks in one passage, with great justice, finds itself 
obliged to assume, at the point where the history of the Church 
begins, " an immediate declension from and falsification of, a pure 
original principle," and that in so doing "it is deserting the 
recognised methods of historical science." If then we cannot 
trace the path from its beginning onwards, we had better try to 
work backwards, endeavouring first to define in the theology of 
the primitive Church the values which we shall look to find again 
in the Life of Jesus. 

In that he is right. Modern historical theology will not have 
refuted him until it has explained how Christianity arose out of 
the life of Jesus without calling in that theory of an initial " Fall " 
of which Harnack, Wernle, and all the rest make use. Until this 
modern theology has made it in some measure intelligible how, 
under the influence of the Jewish Messiah-sect, in the twinkling 
of an eye, in every direction at once, Graeco-Roman popular 
Christianity arose ; until at least it has described the popular 
Christianity of the first three generations, it must concede to all 
hypotheses which fairly face this problem and endeavour to solve 
it their formal right of existence. 

The criticism which Kalthoff directs against the "positive" 
accounts of the Life of Jesus is, in part, very much to the point. 
"Jesus," he says in one place, "has been made the receptacle 
into which every theologian pours his own ideas." He rightly 
remarks that if we follow " the Christ " backwards from the Epistles 
and Gospels of the New Testament right to the apocalyptic vision 
of Daniel, we always find in Him superhuman traits alongside of 
the human. "Never and nowhere," he insists, "is He that which 
critical theology has endeavoured to make out of Him, a purely 
natural man, an indivisible historical unit." "The title of 'Christ' 
had been raised by the Messianic apocalyptic writings so completely 
into the sphere of the heroic that it had become impossible to 

1 Das Leben Jesu. Lectures delivered before the Protestant Reform Society at 
Berlin. Berlin, 1880. 173 pp. 


apply it to a mere historical man." Bruno Bauer had urged the 
same considerations upon the theology of his time, declaring it to 
be unthinkable that a man could have arisen among the Jews and 
declared " I am the Messiah." 

But the unfortunate thing is that Kalthoff has not worked 
through Bruno Bauer's criticism, and does not appear to assume 
it as a basis, but remains standing half-way instead of thinking the 
questions through to the end as that keen critic did. According 
to Kalthoff it would appear that, year in year out, there was a 
constant succession of Messianic disturbances among the Jews 
and of crucified claimants of the Messiahship. "There had been 
many a 'Christ,'" he says in one place, "before there was any 
question of a Jesus in connexion with this title." 

How does Kalthoff know that ? If he had fairly considered 
and felt the force of Bruno Bauer's arguments, he would never 
have ventured on this assertion ; he would have learned that it is 
not only historically unproved, but intrinsically impossible. 

But Kalthoff was in far too great a hurry to present to his 
readers a description of the growth of Christianity, and therewith 
of the picture of the Christ, to absorb thoroughly the criticism of 
his great predecessor. He soon leads his reader away from the 
high road of criticism into a morass of speculation, in order to 
arrive by a short cut at Graeco-Roman primitive Christianity. 
But the trouble is that while the guide walks lightly and safely, 
the ordinary man, weighed down by the pressure of historical 
considerations, sinks to rise no more. 

The conjectural argument which Kalthoff follows out is in 
itself acute, and forms a suitable pendant to Bauer's recon- 
struction of the course of events. Bauer proposed to derive 
Christianity from the Graeco-Roman philosophy ; Kalthoff, recognis- 
ing that the origin of popular Christianity constitutes the main 
question, takes as his starting-point the social movements of the 

In the Roman Empire, so runs his argument, among the 
oppressed masses of the slaves and the populace, eruptive forces 
were concentrated under high tension. A communistic movement 
arose, to which the influence of the Jewish element in the 
proletariat gave a Messianic-Apocalyptic colouring. The Jewish 
synagogue influenced Roman social conditions so that "the crude 
social ferment at work in the Roman Empire amalgamated itself 
with the religious and philosophical forces of the time to form the 
new Christian social movement." Early Christian writers had 
learned in the synagogue to construct "personifications." The 
whole Late-Jewish literature rests upon this principle. Thus "the 
Christ " became the ideal hero of the Christian community, 
" from the socio-religious standpoint the figure of Christ is the 


sublimated religious expression for the sum of the social and ethical 
forces which were at work at a certain period." The Lord's Supper 
was the memorial feast of this ideal hero. 

" As the Christ to whose Parousia the community looks 
forward this Hero-god of the community bears within Himself the 
capacity for expansion into the God of the universe, into the 
Christ of the Church, who is identical in essential nature with God 
the Father. Thus the belief in the Christ brought the Messianic 
hope of the future into the minds of the masses, who had already 
a certain organisation, and by directing their thoughts towards the 
future it won all those who were sick of the past and despairing 
about the present." 

The death and resurrection of Jesus represent experiences of 
the community. "For a Jew crucified under Pontius Pilate 
there was certainly no resurrection. All that is possible is a 
vague hypothesis of a vision lacking all historical reality, or an 
escape into the vaguenesses of theological phraseology. But 
for the Christian community the resurrection was something real, 
a matter of fact. For the community as such was not annihi- 
lated in that persecution : it drew from it, rather, new strength 
and life." 

But what about the foundations of this imposing structure ? 

For what he has to tell us about the condition of the Roman 
Empire and the social organisation of the proletariat in the time 
of Trajan for it was then that the Church first came out into the 
light we may leave the responsibility with Kalthoff. But we 
must inquire more closely how he brings the Jewish apocalyptic 
into contact with the Roman proletariat. 

Communism, he says, was common to both. It was the bond 
which united the apocalyptic " other-worldliness " with reality. 
The only difficulty is that Kalthoff omits to produce any proof 
out of the Jewish apocalypses that communism was "the funda- 
mental economic idea of the apocalyptic writers." He operates 
from the first with a special preparation of apocalyptic thought, of a 
socialistic or Hellenistic character. Messianism is supposed to 
have taken its rise from the Deuteronomic reform as "a social 
theory which strives to realise itself in practice." The apocalyptic 
of Daniel arose, according to him, under Platonic influence. " The 
figure of the Messiah thus became a human figure; it lost its 
specifically Jewish traits." He is the heavenly proto-typal ideal 
man. Along with this thought, and similarly derived from Plato, 
the conception of immortality makes its appearance in apocalyptic. 1 
This Platonic apocalyptic never had any existence, or at least, 

1 If Kalthoff would only have spoken of the conception of the resurrection 
instead of the conception of immortality ! Then his subjective knowledge would have 
been more or less tolerable. 


to speak with the utmost possible caution, its existence must not 
be asserted in the absence of all proof. 

But, supposing it were admitted that Jewish apocalyptic had 
some affinity for the Hellenic world, that it was Platonic and 
communistic, how are we to explain the fact that the Gospels, 
which describe the genesis of Christ and Christianity, imply a 
Galilaean and not a Roman environment ? 

As a matter of fact, Kalthoff says, they do imply a 
Roman environment. The scene of the Gospel history is laid in 
Palestine, but it is drawn in Rome. The agrarian conditions 
implied in the narratives and parables are Roman. A vineyard 
with a wine-press of its own could only be found, according to 
Kalthoff, on the large Roman estates. So, too, the legal con- 
ditions. The right of the creditor to sell the debtor, with his wife 
and children, is a feature of Roman, not of Jewish law. 

Peter everywhere symbolises the Church at Rome. The 
confession of Peter had to be transferred to Caesarea Philippi 
because this town, "as the seat of the Roman administration," 
symbolised for Palestine the political presence of Rome. 

The woman with the issue was perhaps Poppaea Sabina, the 
wife of Nero, " who in view of her strong leaning towards Judaism 
might well be described in the symbolical style of the apocalyptic 
writings as the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' garment." 

The story of the unfaithful steward alludes to Pope Callixtus, 
who, when the slave of a Christian in high position, was condemned 
to the mines for the crime of embezzlement ; that of the woman 
who was a sinner refers to Marcia, the powerful mistress of 
Commodus, at whose intercession Callixtus was released, to be 
advanced soon afterwards to the bishopric of Rome. " These two 
narratives, therefore," Kalthoff suggests, "which very clearly allude 
to events well known at that time, and doubtless much discussed 
in the Christian community, were admitted into the Gospel to 
express the views of the Church regarding the life-story of a Roman 
bishop which had run its course under the eyes of the community, 
and thereby to give to the events themselves the Church's sanction 
and interpretation." 

Kalthoff does not, unfortunately, mention whether this is a case 
of simple, ingenuous, or of conscious, didactic, Early Christian 

That kind of criticism is a casting out of Satan by the aid of 
Beelzebub. If he was going to invent on this scale, Kalthoff need 
not have found any difficulty in accepting the figure of Jesus 
evolved by modern theology. One feels annoyed with him because, 
while his thesis is ingenious, and, as against " modern theology " 
has a considerable measure of justification, he has worked it out 
in so uninteresting a fashion. He has no one but himself to blame 


for the fact that instead of leading to the right explanation, it only 
introduced a wearisome and unproductive controversy. 1 

In the end there remains scarcely a shade of distinction 
between Kalthoff and his opponents. They want to bring their 
"historical Jesus" into the midst of our time. He wants to do 
the same with his "Christ." "A secularised Christ," he says, "as 
the type of the self-determined man who amid strife and suffering 
carries through victoriously, and fully realises, His own personality 
in order to give the infinite fullness of love which He bears within 
Himself as a blessing to mankind a Christ such as that can 
awaken to new life the antique Christ-type of the Church. He 
is no longer the Christ of the scholar, of the abstract theological 
thinker with his scholastic rules and methods. He is the people's 
Christ, the Christ of the ordinary man, the figure in which all those 
powers of the human soul which are most natural and simple and 
therefore most exalted and divine find an expression at once 
sensible and spiritual." But that is precisely the description of 
the Jesus of modern historical theology; why, then, make this 
long roundabout through scepticism ? The Christ of Kalthoff is 
nothing else than the Jesus of those whom he combats in such a 
lofty fashion j the only difference is that he draws his figure of Christ 
in red ink on blotting-paper, and because it is red in colour and 
smudgy in outline, wants to make out that it is something new. 

It is on ethical grounds that Eduard von Hartmann 2 refuses to 
accept the Jesus of modern theology. He finds fault with it 
because in its anxiety to retain a personality which would be of 
value to religion it does not sufficiently distinguish between the 
authentic and the " historical " Jesus. When criticism has removed 
the paintings-over and retouchings to which this authentic portrait 
of Jesus has been subjected, it reaches, according to him, an un- 
recognisable painting below, in which it is impossible to discover 
any clear likeness, least of all one of any religious use and value. 

Were it not for the tenacity and the simple fidelity of the 
epic tradition, nothing whatever would have remained of the 
historic Jesus. What has remained is merely of historical and 
psychological interest. 

At His first appearance the historic Jesus was, according to 

1 Against Kalthoff : Wilhelm Bousset, Was wissen wir von Jesus? (What do we 
know about Jesus?) Lectures delivered before the Protestantenverein at Bremen. 
Halle, 1904. 73 pp. In reply: Albert Kalthoff, Was wissen wir von Jesus? A 
settlement of accounts with Professor Bousset. Berlin, 1904. 43 pp. 

A sound historical position is set forth in the clear and trenchant lecture of 
W. Kapp, Das Christus- und Christentumsproblem bei Kalthoff. (The problem of 
the Christ and of Christianity as handled by Kalthoff.) Strassburg, 1905. 23 pp. 

2 Eduard von Hartmann, Das Christentum des Neuen Testaments. (The 
Christianity of the N.T. ) and, revised and altered, edition of the " Letters on the 
Christian Religion." Sachsa-in-the-Harz, 1905. 311 pp. 


Eduard von Hartmann, almost " an impersonal being," since He 
regarded Himself so exclusively as the vehicle of His message that 
His personality hardly came into the question. As time went 
on, however, He developed a taste for glory and for wonderful 
deeds, and fell at last into a condition of " abnormal exaltation of 
personality." In the end He declares Himself to His disciples 
and before the council as Messiah. "When He felt His death 
drawing nigh He struck the balance of His life, found His mission 
a failure, His person and His cause abandoned by God, and died 
with the unanswered question on His lips, * My God, why hast 
thou forsaken me ? " 

It is significant that Eduard von Hartmann has not fallen into 
the mistake of Schopenhauer and many other philosophers, of 
identifying the pessimism of Jesus with the Indian speculative 
pessimism of Buddha. The pessimism of Jesus, he says, is not 
metaphysical, it is "a pessimism of indignation," born of the 
intolerable social and political conditions of the time. Von 
Hartmann also clearly recognises the significance of eschatology, 
but he does not define its character quite correctly, since he bases 
his impressions solely on the Talmud, hardly making any use of 
the Old Testament, of Enoch, the Psalms of Solomon, Baruch, 
or Fourth Ezra. He has an irritating way of still using the name 

Like Reimarus von Hartmann's positions are simply modern- 
ised Reimarus he is anxious to show that Christian theology has 
lost the right " to treat the ideal Kingdom of God as belonging to 
itself." Jesus and His teaching, so far as they have been preserved, 
belong to Judaism. His ethic is for us strange and full of stumbling- 
blocks. He despises work, property, and the duties of family life. 
His gospel is fundamentally plebeian, and completely excludes the 
idea of any aristocracy except in so far as it consents to plebeianise 
itself, and this is true not only as regards the aristocracy of rank, 
property, and fortune, but also the aristocracy of intellect. Von 
Hartmann cannot resist the temptation to accuse Jesus of " Semitic 
harshness," finding the evidence of this chiefly in Mark iv. 12, where 
Jesus declares that the purpose of His parables was to obscure 
His teaching and cause the hearts of the people to be hardened. 

His judgment upon Jesus is : " He had no genius, but a certain 
talent which, in the complete absence of any sound education, 
produced in general only moderate results, and was not sufficient 
to preserve Him from numerous weaknesses and serious errors ; at 
heart a fanatic and a transcendental enthusiast, who in spite of an 
inborn kindliness of disposition hates and despises the world and 
everything it contains, and holds any interest in it to be injurious to 
the sole true, transcendental interest ; an amiable and modest 
youth who, through a remarkable concatenation of circumstances 


arrived at the idea, which was at that time epidemic, 1 that He was 
Himself the expected Messiah, and in consequence of this met 
His fate." 

It is to be regretted that a mind like Eduard von Hartmann's 
should not have got beyond the externals of the history, and made 
an effort to grasp the simple and impressive greatness of the figure 
of Jesus in its eschatological setting ; and that he should imagine 
he has disposed of the strangeness which he finds in Jesus when 
he has made it as small as possible. And yet in another respect 
there is something satisfactory about his book. It is the open 
struggle of the Germanic spirit with Jesus. In this battle the victory 
will rest with true greatness. Others wanted to make peace before 
the struggle, or thought that theologians could fight the battle 
alone, and spare their contemporaries the doubts about the historical 
Jesus through which it was necessary to pass in order to reach the 
eternal Jesus and to this end they kept preaching reconciliation 
while fighting the battle. They could only preach it on a basis of 
postulates, and postulates make poor preaching ! Thus, Jiilicher, 
for example, in his latest sketches of the Life of Jesus 2 distinguishes 
between " Jewish and supra-Jewish " in Jesus, and holds that Jesus 
transferred the ideal of the Kingdom of God " to the solid ground 
of the present, bringing it into the course of historical events," 
and further " associated with the Kingdom of God " the idea of 
development which was utterly opposed to all Jewish ideas about 
the Kingdom. Jiilicher also desires to raise "the strongest 
protest against the poor little definition of His preaching which 
makes it consist in nothing further than an announcement of the 
nearness of the Kingdom, and an exhortation to the repentance 
necessary as a condition for attaining the Kingdom." 

But when has a protest against the pure truth of history ever 
been of any avail ? Why proclaim peace where there is no peace, 
and attempt to put back the clock of time ? Is it not enough that 
Schleiermacher and Ritschl succeeded again and again in making 
theology send on earth peace instead of a sword, and does not the 

1 Eduard von Hartmann ought, therefore, to have given his assistance to the others 
who have made this assertion in proving that there really existed Messianic claimants 
before and at the time of Jesus. 

2 "Jesus," by Jiilicher, in Die Kultur der Gegenwart. (An encyclopaedic 
publication which is appearing in parts.) Teubner, Berlin, 1905, pp. 40-69. 

See also W. Bousset, " Jesus," Religionsgeschichtliche Volksbiicher. (A series of 
religious-historical monographs.) Published by Schiele, Halle, 1904. 

Here should be mentioned also the thoughtful book, following very much the lines 
of Jiilicher, by Eduard Grimm, entitled Die Ethik /esu, Hamburg, 1903, 288 pp. 
The author, born in 1848, is the chief pastor at the Nicolaikirche in Hamburg. 

Another work which deserves mention is Arno Neumann, /esu wie er 
gcschichtlich war (Jesus as he historically existed), Freiburg, 1904, 198 pp. (New 
Paths to the Old God), a Life of Jesus distinguished by a lofty vein of natural poetry 
and based upon solid theological knowledge. Arno Neumann is headmaster of a 
school at Apolda. 


weakness of Christian thought as compared with the general culture 
of our time result from the fact that it did not face the battle when 
it ought to have faced it, but persisted in appealing to a court of 
arbitration on which all the sciences were represented, but which 
it had successfully bribed in advance ? 

Now there comes to join the philosophers a jurist. Herr 
Doctor jur. De Jonge lends his aid to Eduard von Hartmann 
in "destroying the ecclesiastical," and "unveiling the Jewish picture 
of Jesus." 1 

De Jonge is a Jew by birth, baptized in 1889, who on the 
22nd of November 1902 again separated himself from the Christian 
communion and was desirous of being received back " with certain 
evangelical reservations " into the Jewish community. In spite of 
his faithful observance of the Law, this was refused. Now he is 
waiting " until in the Synagogue of the twentieth century a freedom 
of conscience is accorded to him equal to that which in the first 
century was enjoyed by John, the beloved disciple of Jeschua of 
Nazareth." In the meantime he beguiles the period of waiting 
by describing Jesus and His earliest followers in the character of 
pattern Jews, and sets them to work in the interest of his "Jewish 
views with evangelical reservations." 

It is the colourless, characterless Jesus of the Superintendents 
and Konsistorialrats which especially arouses his enmity. With 
this figure he contrasts his own Jesus, the man of holy anger, the 
man of holy calm, the man of holy melancholy, the master of 
dialectic, the imperious ruler, the man of high gifts and practical 
ability, the man of inexorable consistency and reforming vigour. 

Jesus was, according to De Jonge, a pupil of Hillel. He 
demanded voluntary poverty only in special cases, not as a general 
principle. In the case of the rich young man, He knew " that the 
property which he had inherited was derived in this particular case 
from impure sources which must be cut off at once and for ever." 

But how does De Jonge know that Jesus knew this ? 

A writer who is attacking the common theological picture of 
Jesus, and who displays in the process, as De Jonge does, not only 

1 Jeschua. Der klassische jiidische Mann. Zerstorung des kirchlichen, Enthiillung 
des jiidischen Jesus-Bildes. Berlin, 1904, 112 pp. Earlier studies of the Life of Jesus 
from the Jewish point of view had been less ambitious. Dr. Aug. Wiinsche had written 
in 1872 on "Jesus in His attitude towards women" from the Talmudic standpoint 
(146 pp.), and had described Him from the same standpoint as a Jesus who rejoiced 
in life, Der lebensfreudige Jesus der synoptischen Evangelien im Gegensatz zum 
leidenden Messias der Kirche, Leipzig, 1876, 444 pp. The basis is so far correct, 
that the eschatological, world-renouncing ethic which we find in Jesus was due to 
temporary conditions and is therefore transitory, and had nothing whatever to do 
with Judaism as such. The spirit of the Law is the opposite of world-renouncing. 
But the Talmud, be its traditions never so trustworthy, could teach us little about Jesus 
because it has preserved scarcely a trace of that eschatological phase of Jewish 
religion and ethics. 



wit and address, but historical intuition, ought not to fall into the 
error of the theology with which he is at feud ; he ought to use 
sober history as his weapon against the supplementary knowledge 
which his opponents seem to find between the lines, instead of 
meeting it with an esoteric historical knowledge of his own. 

De Jonge knows that Jesus possessed property inherited from 
His father : " One proof may serve where many might be given 
the hasty flight into Egypt with his whole family to escape from 
Herod, and the long sojourn in that country." 

De Jonge knows he is here, however, following the Gospel of 
John, to which he everywhere gives the preference that Jesus was 
between forty and fifty years old at the time of His first coming 
forward publicly. The statement in Luke iii. 23, that He was axret 
thirty years old, can only mislead those who do not remember that 
Luke was a portrait painter and only meant that "Jeschua, in 
consequence of His glorious beauty and His ever-youthful appear- 
ance, looked ten years younger than He really was." 

De Jonge knows also that Jesus, at the time when He first 
emerged from obscurity, was a widower and had a little son the 
" lad " of John vi. 9, who had the five barley loaves and two fishes, 
was in fact His son. This and many other things the author finds 
in "the glorious John." According to De Jonge too we ought to 
think of Jesus as the aristocratic Jew, more accustomed to a dress 
coat than to a workman's blouse, something of an expert, as 
appears from some of the parables, in matters of the table, and 
conning the menu with interest when He dined with " privy-finance- 
councillor " Zacchaeus. 

But this is to modernise more distressingly than even the 
theologians ! 

De Jonge's one-sided preference for the Fourth Gospel is shared 
by Kirchbach's book, " What did Jesus teach ? " l but here every- 
thing, instead of being judaised, is spiritualised. Kirchbach does 
not seem to have been acquainted with Noack's " History of Jesus," 
otherwise he would hardly have ventured to repeat the same 
experiment without the latter's touch of genius and with much less 
skill and knowledge. 

The teaching of Jesus is interpreted on the lines of the Kantian 
philosophy. The saying, "No man hath seen God at any time," is 
to be understood as if it were derived from the same system of 
thought as the "Critique of Pure Reason." Jesus always used the 

1 Wolfgang Kirchbach, Was lehrte Jesus? Zwei Urevangelien. Berlin, 1897, 
248 pp. ; second greatly enlarged and improved edition, 1902, 339 pp. By the same 
author, Das Buck Jesus. Die Urevangelien. Neu nachgewiesen, neu -ubersetzt,geordne.t 
und aus der Ursprache erkldrt. (The Book of Jesus. The Primitive Gospels. Newly 
traced, translated, arranged, and explained on the basis of the original. ) Berlin, 


words " death " and " life " in a purely metaphorical sense. Eternal 
life is for Him not a life in another world, but in the present. He 
speaks of Himself as the Son of God, not as the Jewish Messiah. 
Son of Man is only the ethical explanation of Son of God. The 
only reason why a Son -of -Man problem has arisen, is because 
Matthew translated the ancient term Son of Man in the original 
collection of Logia " with extreme literality." 

The great discourse of Matt, xxiii. with its warnings and 
threatenings is, according to Kirchbach, merely " a patriotic oration 
in which Jesus gives expression in moving words to His opposition 
to the Pharisees and His inborn love of His native land." 

The teaching of Jesus is not ascetic, it closely resembles the 
real teaching of Epicurus, " that is, the rejection of all false meta- 
physics, and the resulting condition of blessedness, of makaria." 
The only purpose of the demand addressed to the rich young man 
was to try him. " If the youth, instead of slinking away dejectedly 
because he was called upon to sell all his goods, had replied, 
confident in the possession of a rich fund of courage, energy, ability, 
and knowledge, ' Right gladly. It will not go to my heart to part 
with my little bit of property ; if I'm not to have it, why then I can 
do without it,' the Rabbi would probably in that case not have 
taken him at his word, but would have said, ' Young man, I like 
you. You have a good chance before you, you may do something 
in the Kingdom of God, and in any case for My sake you may 
attach yourself to Me by way of trial. We can talk about your 
stocks and bonds later.' " 

Finally, Kirchbach succeeds, though only, it must be admitted, 
by the aid of some rather awkward phraseology, in spiritualising 
John vi. "It is not the body," he explains, "of the long departed 
thinker, who apparently attached no importance whatever to the 
question of personal survival, that we, who understand Him in the 
right Greek sense, ' eat ' ; in the sense which He intended, we eat 
and drink, and absorb into ourselves, His teaching, His spirit, His 
sublime conception of life, by constantly recalling them in connexion 
with the symbol of bread and flesh, the symbol of blood, the 
symbol of water." 1 

Worthless as Kirchbach's Life of Jesus is from an historical point 
of view, it is quite comprehensible as a phase in the struggle 
between the modern view of the world and Jesus. The aim of the 

1 Before him, Hugo Delff, in his History of the Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth (Leipzig, 
1889, 428 pp.), had confined himself to the Fourth Gospel, and even within that 
Gospel he drew some critical distinctions. His Jesus at first conceals His Messiahship 
from the fear of arousing the political expectations of the people, and speaks to them 
of the Son of Man in the third person. At His second visit to Jerusalem He breaks 
with the rulers, is subsequently compelled, in consequence of the conflict over the 
Sabbath, to leave Galilee, and then gives up His own people and turns to the heathen. 
Delff explains the raising of Lazarus by supposing him to have been buried in a state 
of trance. 


work is to retain His significance for a metaphysical and non-ascetic 
time; and since it is not possible to do this in the case of the 
historical Jesus, the author denies His existence in favour of an 
apocryphal Jesus. 

It is, in fact, the characteristic feature of the Life-of- Jesus 
literature on the threshold of the new century even in the produc- 
tions of professedly historical and scientific theology, to subordinate 
the historical interest to the interest of the general world-view. And 
those who " wrest the Kingdom of Heaven " are beginning to wrest 
Jesus Himself along with it. Men who have no qualifications for 
the task, whose ignorance is nothing less than criminal, who loftily 
anathematise scientific theology instead of making themselves in 
some measure acquainted with the researches which it has carried 
out, feel impelled to write a Life of Jesus, in order to set forth their 
general religious view in a portrait of Jesus which has not the 
faintest claim to be historical, and the most far-fetched of these 
find favour, and are eagerly absorbed by the multitude. 

It would be something to be thankful for if all these Lives of 
Jesus were based on as definite an idea and as acute historical 
observation as we find in Albert Dulk's "The Error of the 
Life of Jesus." 1 In Dulk the story of the fate of Jesus is also the 
story of the fate of religion. The Galilaean teacher, whose true 
character was marked by deep religious inwardness, was doomed to 
destruction from the moment when He set Himself upon the dizzy 
heights of the divine sonship and the eschatological expectation. 
He died in despair, having vainly expected, down to the very last, a 
"telegram from heaven." Religion as a whole can only avoid the 
same fate by renouncing all transcendental elements. 

The vast numbers of imaginative Lives of Jesus shrink into 
remarkably small compass on a close examination. When one 
knows two or three of them, one knows them all. They have 
scarcely altered since Venturini's time, except that some of the 
cures performed by Jesus are handled in the modern Lives from the 
point of view of the recent investigations in hypnotism and 
suggestion. 2 

1 Albert Dulk, Der Irrgang des Lebens Jesu. In geschichtlicher Auffassung 
dargestellt. Erster Teil : Die historischen Wurzeln und die galildische Blute, 1884. 
395 pp. Zweiter Teil: Der Messiaseinzug und die Erhebung ans Kreuz, 1885, 302 
pp. (The Error of the Life of Jesus. Historically apprehended and set forth. 
Pt. i., The Historical Roots and the Galilaean Blossom. Pt. ii., The Messianic Entry 
and the Crucifixion. ) The course of Dulk's own life was somewhat erratic. Born 
in 1819, he came prominently forward in the revolution of 1848, as a political 
pamphleteer and agitator. Later, though almost without means, he undertook 
long journeys, even to Sinai and to Lapland. Finally, he worked as a social 
democratic reformer. He died in 1884. 

a A scientific treatment of this subject is supplied by Fr. Nippold, Die 
psyckiatrische Seite der Heilstdtigkeit Jesu (The Psychiatric Side of Jesus' Works of 
Healing), 1889, in which a luminous review of the medical material is to be found. 


According to Paul de Regla 1 Jesus was born out of wedlock. 
Joseph, however, gave shelter and protection to the mother. De 
Regla dwells on the beauty of the child. " His eyes were not 
exceptionally large, but were well-opened, and were shaded by long, 
silky, dark-brown eyelashes, and rather deep-set. They were of a 
blue-grey colour, which changed with changing emotions, taking on 
various shades, especially blue and brownish-grey." 

He and His disciples were Essenes, as was also the Baptist. 
That implies that He was no longer a Jew in the strict sense. His 
preaching dealt with the rights of man, and put forward socialistic 
and communistic demands : His religion in the pure consciousness 
of communion with God. With eschatology He had nothing what- 
ever to do, it was first interpolated into His teaching by Matthew. 

The miracles are all to be explained by suggestion and 
hypnotism. At the marriage at Cana, Jesus noticed that the guests 
were taking too much, and therefore secretly bade the servants 
pour out water instead of wine while He Himself said, " Drink, this 
is better wine." In this way He succeeded in suggesting to a part 
of the company that they were really drinking wine. The 
feeding of the multitude is explained by striking out a couple of 
noughts from the numbers ; the raising of Lazarus by supposing it a 
case of premature burial. Jesus Himself when taken down from 
the cross was not dead, and the Essenes succeeded in reanimating 
Him. His work is inspired with hatred against Catholicism, but 
with a real reverence for Jesus. 

Another mere variant of the plan of Venturini is the fictitious 
Life of Jesus of Pierre Nahor. 2 The sentimental descriptions of 
nature and the long dialogues characteristic of the Lives of Jesus 
of a hundred years ago are here again in full force. After John 
had already begun to preach in the neighbourhood of the Dead 
Sea, Jesus, in company with a distinguished Brahmin who possessed 
property at Nazareth and had an influential following in Jerusalem, 
made a journey to Egypt and was there indoctrinated into all kinds 
of Egyptian, Essene, and Indian philosophy, thus giving the author, 

See also Dr. K. Kunz, Christus medicus, Freiburg in Baden, 1905, 74 pp. The 
scientific value of this work is, however, very much reduced by the fact that the 
author has no acquaintance with the preliminary questions belonging to the sphere of 
history and literature, and regards all the miracles of healing as actual events, 
believing himself able to explain them from the medical point of view. The tendency 
of the work is mainly apologetic. 

1 Jesus von Nazareth. Described from the Scientific, Historical, and Social Point oj 
View. Translated from the French (into German) by A. Just. Leipzig, 1894. The 
author, whose real name is P. A. Desjardin, is a practising physician. De Re"gla, 
too, makes the Fourth Gospel the basis of his narrative. 

2 Pierre Nahor (Emilie Lerou), Jesus. Translated from the French by Walter 
Bloch. Berlin, 1905. Its motto is : The figure of Jesus belongs, like all mysterious, 
heroic, or mythical figures, to legend and poetry. In the introduction we find the 
statement, "This book is a confession of faith." The narrative is based on the 
Fourth Gospel. 


or rather the authoress, an opportunity to develop her ideas on 
the philosophy of religion in didactic dialogues. When He soon 
afterwards begins to work in Galilee the young teacher is much 
aided by the fact that, at the instance of His fellow-traveller, He 
had acquired from Egyptian mendicants a practical acquaintance 
with the secrets of hypnotism. By His skill He healed Mary of 
Magdala, a distinguished courtesan of Tiberias. They had met 
before at Alexandria. After being cured she left Tiberias and 
went to live in a small house, inherited from her mother, at 

Jesus Himself never went to Tiberias, but the social world of 
that place took an interest in Him, and often had itself rowed to 
the beach when He was preaching. Rich and pious ladies used to 
inquire of Him where He thought of preaching to the people on a 
given day, and sent baskets of bread and dried fish to the spot 
which He indicated, that the multitude might not suffer hunger. 
This is the explanation of the stories about the feeding of the 
multitudes ; the people had no idea whence Jesus suddenly 
obtained the supplies which He caused His disciples to distribute. 

When he became aware that the priests had resolved upon 
His death, He made His friend Joseph of Arimathea, a leading 
man among the Essenes, promise that he would take Him down 
from the cross as soon as possible and lay Him in the grave without 
other witnesses. Only Nicodemus was to be present. On the 
cross He put Himself into a cataleptic trance ; He was taken down 
from the cross seemingly dead, and came to Himself again in the 
grave. After appearing several times to His disciples he set out 
for Nazareth and dragged His way painfully thither. With a last 
effort He reaches the house of His mysterious old Indian teacher. 
At the door He falls helpless, just as the morning dawns. The old 
slave -woman recognises Him and carries Him into the house, 
where He dies. "The serene solemn night withdrew and day 
broke in blinding splendour behind Tiberias." 

Nikolas Notowitsch l finds in Luke i. 80 ("And the child grew 

1 La Vie inconnue de Jdsus-Christ. Paris, 1894. 301 pp. German, under the 
title Die Liicke im Leben Jesu (The Gap in the Life of Jesus), Stuttgart, 1894. 1 86 pp. 
See Holtzmann in the Theol. Jahresbericht, xiv. p. 140. 

In a certain limited sense the work of A. Lillie, The Influence of Buddhism on 
Primitive Christianity (London, 1893), > s to be numbered among the fictitious works 
on the life of Jesus. The fictitious element consists in Jesus being made an Essene 
by the writer, and Essenism equated with Buddhism. 

Among "edifying" romances on the life of Jesus intended for family reading, 
that of the English writer J. H. Ingraham, The Prince of the House of David, 
has had a very long lease of life. It appeared in a German translation as early as 
1858, and was reissued in 1906 (Brunswick). 

A fictitious life of Jesus of wonderful beauty is Peter Rosegger's I.N.R.f. Frohe 
Botschaft eines armen Sunders (The Glad Tidings of a poor Sinner). Leipzig, 6th- 
loth thousand, 1906. 293 pp. 

A feminine point of view reveals itself in C. Rauch's Jeschua ben Joseph. 
Deichert, 1899. 


. . . and was in the deserts until the day of his shewing unto Israel ") 
a "gap in the life of Jesus," in spite of the fact that this passage 
refers to the Baptist, and proposes to fill it by putting Jesus to 
school with the Brahmins and Buddhists from His thirteenth to 
His twenty-ninth year. As evidence for this he refers to statements 
about Buddhist worship of a certain Issa which he professes to 
have found in the monasteries of Little Thibet. The whole thing 
is, as was shown by the experts, a barefaced swindle and an 
impudent invention. 

To the fictitious Lives of Jesus belong also in the main the 
theosophical "Lives," which equally play fast and loose with the 
History, thougtThere with a view to proving that Jesus had absorbed 
the Egyptian and Indian theosophy, and had been indoctrinated 
with "occult science." The theosophists, however, have the 
advantage of escaping the dilemma between reanimation after a 
trance and resurrection, since they are convinced that it was 
possible for Jesus to reassume His body after He had really died. 
But in the touching up and embellishment of the Gospel narratives 
they out-do even the romancers. 

Ernest Bosc, 1 writing as a theosophist, makes it the chief aim of 
his work to describe the oriental origin of Christianity, and 
ventures to assert that Jesus was not a Semite, but an Aryan. The 
Fourth -Gospel is, of course, the basis of his representation. He 
does not hesitate, however, to appeal also to the anonymous 
"Revelations" published in 1849, which are a mere plagiarism 
from Venturini. 

A work which is written with some ability and with much 
out-of-the-way learning is " Did Jesus live 100 B.C. ? " 2 The author 
compares the Christian tradition with the Jewish, and finds in the 
latter a reminiscence of a Jesus who lived in the time of Alexander 
Jannaeus (104-76 B.C.). This person was transferred by the 
earliest Evangelist to the later period, the attempt being facilitated 
by the fact that during the procuratorship of Pilate a false prophet 
had attracted some attention. The author, however, only professes 
to offer it as a hypothesis, and apologises in advance for the offence 
which it is likely to cause. 

1 La Vie Isot&riquc de Jdsu-Christ et les origines orientates du christianisme. 
Paris, 1902. 445 pp. 

That Jesus was of Aryan race is argued by A. Miiller, who assumes a Gaulish 
immigration into Galilee. Jesus ein Arier. Leipzig, 1904. 74 pp. 

2 Did Jesus live 100 K.C. ? London and Benares. Theosophical Publishing 
Society, 1903. 440 pp. 

A scientific discussion of the " Toledoth Jeshu," with citations from the Talmudic 
tradition concerning Jesus, is offered by S. Krauss, Das Leben Jesu nach jiidischen 
Quellen. 1902. 309 pp. According to him the Toledoth Jeshu was committed 
to writing in the fifth century, and he is of opinion that the Jewish legend is only a 
modified version of the Christian tradition. 



W. Wrede. Das Messiasgeheimnis in den Evangelien. Zugleich ein Beitrag zuni 
Verstandnis des Markusevangeliums. (The Messianic Secret in the Gospels. 
Forming a contribution also to the understanding of the Gospel of Mark. ) 
Gottingen, 1901. 286 pp. 

Albert Schweitzer. Das Messianitats- und Leidensgeheimnis. Eine Skizze des 
Lebens Jesu. (The Secret of the Messiahship and the Passion. A Sketch of 
the Life of Jesus. ) Tubingen and Leipzig, 1901. 109 pp. 

THE coincidence between the work of Wrede l and the " Sketch of 
the Life of Jesus " is not more surprising in regard to the time of 
their appearance than in regard to the character of their contents. 
They appeared upon the self-same day, their titles are almost 
identical, and their agreement in the criticism of the modern 
historical conception of the life of Jesus extends sometimes to the 
very phraseology. And yet they are written from quite different 
standpoints, one from the point of view of literary criticism, the 
other from that of the historical recognition of eschatology. It 
seems to be the fate of the Marcan hypothesis that at the decisive 
periods its problems should always be attacked simultaneously and 
independently from the literary and the historical sides, and the 
results declared in two different forms which corroborate each 
other. So it was in the case of Weisse and Wilke ; so it is again 
now, when, retaining the assumption of the priority of Mark, the 
historicity of the hitherto accepted view of the life of Jesus, based 
upon the Marcan narrative, is called in question. 

1 William Wrede, born in 1859 at Biicken in Hanover, was Professor at Breslau. 
(He died in 1907.) 

Wrede names as his real predecessors on the same lines Bruno Bauer, Volkmar, 
and the Dutch writer Hoekstra ( " De Christologie van het canonieke Marcus- 
Evangelic, vergeleken met die van de beide andere synoptische Evangelien," TheoL 
Tijdschrift, v. , 1871). 

In a certain limited degree the work of Ernest Havet (Le Christianisme et ses 
origines) has a claim to be classed in the same category. His scepticism refers 
principally to the entry into Jerusalem and the story of the passion. 



The meaning of that is that the literary and the eschatological 
view, which have hitherto been marching parallel, on either flank, 
to the advance of modern theology, have now united their forces, 
brought theology to a halt, surrounded it, and compelled it to give 

That in the last three or four years so much has been written 
in which this enveloping movement has been ignored does not alter 
the real position of modern historical theology in the least. The 
fact is deserving of notice that during this period the study of the 
subject has not made a step in advance, but has kept moving to 
and fro upon the old lines with wearisome iteration, and has 
thrown itself with excessive zeal into the work of popularisation, 
simply because it was incapable of advancing. 

And even if it professes gratitude to Wrede for the very 
interesting historical point which he has brought into the discussion, 
and is also willing to admit that thoroughgoing eschatology has 
advanced the solution of many problems, these are mere demonstra- 
tions which are quite inadequate to raise the blockade of modern 
theology by the allied forces. Supposing that only a half nay, only 
a third of the critical arguments which are common to Wrede and 
the " Sketch of the Life of Jesus " are sound, then the modern 
historical view of the history is wholly ruined. 

The reader of Wrede's book cannot help feeling that here no 
quarter is given ; and any one who goes carefully through the present 
writer's " Sketch " must come to see that between the modern 
historical and the eschatological Life of Jesus no compromise is 

Thoroughgoing scepticism and thoroughgoing eschatology may, 
in their union, either destroy, or be destroyed by modern historical 
theology ; but they cannot combine with it and enable it to advance, 
any more than they can be advanced by it. 

We are confronted with a decisive issue. As with Strauss's 
"Life of Jesus," so with the surprising agreement in the critical 
basis of these two schools we are not here considering the 
respective solutions which they offer there has entered into the 
domain of the theology of the day a force with which it cannot 
possibly ally itself. Its whole territory is threatened. It must 
either reconquer it step by step or else surrender it. It has no 
longer the right to advance a single assertion until it has taken up 
a definite position in regard to the fundamental questions raised 
by the new criticism. 

Modern historical theology is no doubt still far from recognising 
this. It is warned that the dyke is letting in water and sends a 
couple of masons to repair the leak ; as if the leak did not mean 
that the whole masonry is undermined, and must be rebuilt from 
the foundation. 


To vary the metaphor, theology comes home to find the broker's 
marks on all the furniture and goes on as before quite comfortably, 
ignoring the fact it will lose everything if it does not pay its debts. 

The critical objections which Wrede and the " Sketch " agree 
in bringing against the modern treatment of the subject are as 

In order to find in Mark the Life of Jesus of which it is in 
search, modern theology is obliged to read between the lines a whole 
host of things, and those often the most important, and then to 
foist them upon the'text by means of psychological conjecture. It 
is determined to find evidence in Mark of a development of Jesus, 
a development of the disciples, and a development of the outer 
circumstances ; and professes in so doing to be only reproducing 
the views and indications of the Evangelist. In reality, however, 
there is not a word of all this in the Evangelist, and when his 
interpreters are asked what are the hints and indications on which 
they base their assertions they have nothing to offer save argumenta 
e silentio. 

Mark knows nothing of any development in Jesus, he knows 
nothing of any paedagogic considerations which are supposed to 
have determined the conduct of Jesus towards the disciples and the 
people; he knows nothing of any conflict in the mind of Jesus 
between a spiritual and a popular, political Messianic ideal ; he does 
not know, either, that in this respect there was any difference 
between the view of Jesus and that of the people ; he knows nothing 
of the idea that the use of the ass at the triumphal entry symbolised 
a non-political Messiahship ; he knows nothing of the idea that the 
question about the Messiah's being the Son of David had some- 
thing to do with this alternative between political and non-political ; 
he does not know, either, that Jesus explained the secret of the 
passion to the disciples, nor that they had any understanding of it ; 
he only knows that from first to last they were in all respects 
equally wanting in understanding ; he does not know that the first 
period was a period of success and the second a period of failure ; 
he represents the Pharisees and Herodians as (from iii. 6 onwards) 
resolved upon the death of Jesus, while the people, down to the 
very last day when He preached in the temple, are enthusiastically 
loyal to Him. 

All these things of which the Evangelist says nothing and they 
are the foundations of the modern view should first be proved, if 
proved they can be ; they ought not to be simply read into the text 
as something self-evident. For it is just those things which appear 
so self-evident to the prevailing critical temper which are in reality 
the least evident of all. 

Another hitherto self-evident point the "historical kernel" 
which it has been customary to extract from the narratives must 


be given up, until it is proved, if it is capable of proof, that we 
can and ought to distinguish between the kernel and the husk. 
We may take all that is reported as either historical or unhistorical, 
but, in respect of the definite predictions of the passion, death, and 
resurrection, we ought to give up taking the reference to the 
passion as historical and letting the rest go; we may accept the 
idea of the atoning death, or we may reject it, but we ought not 
to ascribe to Jesus a feeble, anaemic version of this idea, while 
setting down to the account of the Pauline theology the interpreta- 
tion of the passion which we actually find in Mark. 

Whatever the results obtained by the aid of the historical 
kernel, the method pursued is the same ; " it is detached from its 
context and transformed into something different." "It finally 
comes to this," says Wrede, "that each critic retains whatever 
portion of the traditional sayings can be fitted into his construction 
of the facts and his conception of historical possibility and rejects 
the rest." The psychological explanation of motive, and the 
psychological connexion of the events and actions which such 
critics have proposed to find in Mark, simply do not exist. That 
being so, nothing is to be made out of his account by the applica- 
tion of a priori psychology. A vast quantity of treasures of scholar- 
ship and erudition, of art and artifice, which the Marcan hypothesis 
has gathered into its storehouse in the two generations of its 
existence to aid it in constructing its life of Jesus has become 
worthless, and can be of no further service to true historical research. 
Theology has been simplified. What would become of it if that 
did not happen every hundred years or so ? And the simplifica- 
tion was badly needed, for no one since Strauss had cleared away 
its impedimenta. 

Thoroughgoing scepticism and thoroughgoing eschatology, 
between them, are compelling theology to read the Marcan text 
again with simplicity of mind. The simplicity consists in 
dispensing with the connecting links which it has been accustomed 
to discover between the sections of the narrative (pericopes), in 
looking at each one separately, and recognising that it is difficult to 
pass from one to the other. 

The material with which it has hitherto been usual to solder the 
sections together into a life of Jesus will not stand the temperature 
test. Exposed to the cold air of critical scepticism it cracks ; 
when the furnace of eschatology is heated to a certain point the 
solderings melt. In both cases the sections all fall apart. 

Formerly it was possible to book through -tickets at the 
supplementary-psychological-knowledge office which enabled those 
travelling in the interests of Life-of-Jesus construction to use 
express trains, thus avoiding the inconvenience of having to stop 
at every little station, change, and run the risk of missing their 


connexion. This ticket office is now closed. There is a station 
at the end of each section of the narrative, and the connexions are 
not guaranteed. 

The fact is, it is not simply that there is no very obvious 
psychological connexion between the sections; in almost every 
case there is a positive break in the connexion. And there is a 
great deal in the Marcan narrative which is inexplicable and even 

In their statement of the problems raised by this want of con- 
nexion Wrede and the " Sketch " are in the most exact agreement. 
That these difficulties are not artificially constructed has been 
shown by our survey of the history of the attempts to write the Life 
of Jesus, in the course of which these problems emerge one after 
another, after Bruno Bauer had by anticipation grasped them 
all in their complexity. 

How do the demoniacs know that Jesus is the Son of God ? 
Why does the blind man at Jericho address Him as the Son of 
David, when no one else knows His Messianic dignity ? How was 
it that these occurrences did not give a new direction to the 
thoughts of the people in regard to Jesus ? How did the Messianic 
entry come about? How was it possible without provoking the 
interference of the Roman garrison of occupation ? Why is it as 
completely ignored in the subsequent controversies as if had never 
taken place? Why was it not brought up at the trial of Jesus? 
" The Messianic acclamation at the entry into Jerusalem," says 
Wrede, " is in Mark quite an isolated incident. It has no sequel, 
neither is there any preparation for it beforehand." 

Why does Jesus in Mark iv. 10-12 speak of the parabolic form 
of discourse as designed to conceal the mystery of the Kingdom of 
God, whereas the explanation which He proceeds to give to the 
disciples has nothing mysterious about it? What is the mystery 
of the Kingdom of God ? Why does Jesus forbid His miracles to 
be made known even in cases where there is no apparent purpose 
for the prohibition ? Why is His Messiahship a secret and yet no 
secret, since it is known, not only to the disciples, but to the 
demoniacs, the blind man at Jericho, the multitude at Jerusalem 
which must, as Bruno Bauer expresses it, "have fallen from 
heaven " and to the High Priest ? 

Why does Jesus first reveal His Messiahship to the disciples at 
Caesarea Philippi, not at the moment when He sends them forth to 
preach? How does Peter know without having been told by 
Jesus that the Messiahship belongs to his Master? Why 
must it remain a secret until the " resurrection " ? Why does 
Jesus indicate His Messiahship only by the title Son of Man ? And 
why is it that this title is so far from prominent in primitive 
Christian theology ? 


What is the meaning of the statement that Jesus at Jerusalem 
discovered a difficulty in the fact that the Messiah was described 
as at once David's son and David's Lord ? How are we to explain 
the fact that Jesus had to open the eyes of the people to the 
greatness of the Baptist's office, subsequently to the mission of the 
Twelve, and to enlighten the disciples themselves in regard to it 
during the descent from the mount of transfiguration ? Why should 
this be described in Matt. XL 14 and 15 as a mystery difficult to 
grasp (" If ye can receive it " ..." He that hath ears to hear, 
let him hear ") ? What is the meaning of the saying that he that 
is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than the Baptist? 
Does the Baptist, then, not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven ? 
How is the Kingdom of Heaven subjected to violence since the 
days of the Baptist ? Who are the violent ? What is the Baptist 
intended to understand from the answer of Jesus ? 

What importance was attached to the miracles by Jesus Him- 
self? What office must they have caused the people to attribute 
to Him ? Why is the discourse at the sending out of the Twelve 
filled with predictions of persecutions which experience had given 
no reason to anticipate, and which did not, as a matter of fact, 
occur? What is the meaning of the saying in Matt. x. 23 about 
the imminent coming of the Son of Man, seeing that the disciples 
after all returned to Jesus without its being fulfilled ? Why does 
Jesus leave the people just when His work among them is most 
successful, and journey northwards? Why had He, immediately 
after the sending forth of the Twelve, manifested a desire to 
withdraw Himself from the multitude who were longing for 
salvation ? 

How does the multitude mentioned in Mark viii. 34 suddenly 
appear at Caesarea Philippi? Why is its presence no longer 
implied in Mark ix. 30? How could Jesus possibly have travelled 
unrecognised through Galilee, and how could He have avoided 
being thronged in Capernaum although He stayed at " the 
house " ? 

How came He so suddenly to speak to His disciples of His 
suffering and dying and rising again, without, moreover, explaining 
to them either the natural or the moral " wherefore " ? " There is 
no trace of any attempt on the part of Jesus," says Wrede, "to 
break this strange thought gradually to His disciples . . . the 
prediction is always flung down before the disciples without 
preparation, it is, in fact, a characteristic feature of these sayings 
that all attempt to aid the understanding of the disciples is 

Did Jesus journey to Jerusalem with the purpose of working 
there, or of dying there? How comes it that in Mark x. 39, He 
holds out to the sons of Zebedee the prospect of drinking His 


cup and being baptized with His baptism ? And how can He, 
after speaking so decidedly of the necessity of His death, think 
it possible in Gethsemane that the cup might yet pass from Him ? 
Who are the undefined "many," for whom, according to Mark 
x. 45 and xiv. 24, His death shall serve as a ransom? 1 

How came it that Jesus alone was arrested ? Why were no 
witnesses called at His trial to testify that He had given Himself 
out to be the Messiah ? How is it that on the morning after His 
arrest the temper of the multitude seems to be completely changed, 
so that no one stirs a finger to help Him ? 

In what form does Jesus conceive the resurrection, which He 
promises to His disciples, to be combined with the coming on the 
clouds of heaven, to which He points His judge ? In what relation 
do these predictions stand to the prospect held out at the time of 
the sending forth of the Twelve, but not realized, of the immediate 
appearance of the Son of Man ? 

What is the meaning of the further prediction on the way to 
Gethsemane (Mark xiv. 28) that after His resurrection He will go 
before the disciples into Galilee ? How is the other version of this 
saying (Mark xvi. 7) to be explained, according to which it means, 
as spoken by the angel, that the disciples are to journey to Galilee 
to have their first meeting with the risen Jesus there, whereas, on 
the lips of Jesus, it betokened that, just as now as a sufferer He 
was going before them from Galilee to Jerusalem, so, after His 
resurrection, He would go before them from Jerusalem to Galilee ? 
And what was to happen there ? 

These problems were covered up by the naturalistic psychology 
as by a light snow-drift. The snow has melted, and they now stand 
out from the narratives like black points of rock. It is no longer 
allowable to avoid these questions, or to solve them, each by itself, 
by softening them down and giving them an interpretation by 
which the reported facts acquire a quite different significance from 
that which they bear for the Evangelist. Either the Marcan text 
as it stands is historical, and therefore to be retained, or it is not, 
and then it should be given up. What is really unhistorical is any 
softening down of the wording, and the meaning which it naturally 

The sceptical and eschatological schools, however, go still 
farther in company. If the connexion in Mark is really no 
connexion, it is important to try to discover whether any principle 
can be discovered in this want of connexion. Can any order be 
brought into the chaos ? To this the answer is in the affirmative. 

The complete want of connexion, with all its self-contradictions, 
is ultimately due to the fact that two representations of the life of 

1 These and the following questions are raised more especially in the Sketch 
afthe Life of Jesus. 


Jesus, or, to speak more accurately, of His public ministry, are here 
crushed into one ; a natural and a deliberately supernatural re- 
presentation. A dogmatic element has intruded itself into the 
description of this Life something which has no concern with the 
events which form the outward course of that Life. This dogmatic 
element is the Messianic secret of Jesus and all the secrets and 
concealments which go along with it. 

Hence the irrational and self-contradictory features of the 
presentation of Jesus, out of which a rational psychology can make 
only something which is unhistorical and does violence to the text, 
since it must necessarily get rid of the constant want of connexion 
and self-contradiction which belongs to the essence of the narrative, 
and portray a Jesus who was the Messiah, not one who at once 
was and was not Messiah, as the Evangelist depicts Him. When 
rational psychology conceives Him as one who was Messiah, but 
not in the sense expected by the people, that is a concession to the 
self-contradictions of the Marcan representation ; which, however, 
does justice neither to the text nor to the history which it records, 
since the Gospel does not contain the faintest hint that the contra- 
diction was of this nature. 

Up to this point up to the complete reconstruction of the 
system which runs through the disconnectedness, and the tracing 
back of the dogmatic element to the Messianic secret there 
extends a close agreement between thoroughgoing scepticism and 
thoroughgoing eschatology. The critical arguments are identical, 
the construction is analogous and based on the same principle. 
The defenders of the modern psychological view cannot, therefore, 
play off one school against the other, as one of them proposed to 
do, but must deal with them both at once. They differ only when 
they explain whence the system that runs through the disconnected- 
ness comes. Here the ways divide, as Bauer saw long ago. The 
inconsistency between the public life of Jesus and His Messianic 
claim lies either in the nature of the Jewish Messianic conception, 
or in the representation of the Evangelist. There is, on the one 
hand, the eschatological solution, which at one stroke raises the 
Marcan account as it stands, with all its disconnectedness and in- 
consistencies, into genuine history; and there is, on the other 
hand, the literary solution, which regards the incongruous dogmatic 
element as interpolated by the earliest Evangelist into the tradition 
and therefore strikes out the Messianic claim altogether from the 
historical Life of Jesus. Tertium non datur. 

But in some respects it really hardly matters which of the two 
" solutions " one adopts. They are both merely wooden towers 
erected upon the solid main building of the consentient critical 
induction which offers the enigmas detailed above to modern 
historical theology. It is interesting in this connexion that Wrede's 


scepticism is just as constructive as the eschatological outline of 
the Life of Jesus in the "Sketch." 

Bruno Bauer chose the literary solution because he thought 
that we had no evidence for an eschatological expectation existing 
in the time of Christ. Wrede, though he follows Johannes Weiss 
in assuming the existence of a Jewish eschatological Messianic 
expectation, finds in the Gospel only the Christian conception of 
the Messiah. "If Jesus," he thinks, "really knew Himself to be 
the Messiah and designated Himself as such, the genuine tradition 
is so closely interwoven with later accretions that it is not easy to 
recognise it." In any case, Jesus cannot, according to Wrede, have 
spoken of His Messianic Coming in the way which the Synoptists 
report. The Messiahship of Jesus, as we find it in the Gospels, is a 
product of Early Christian theology correcting history according to 
its own conceptions. 

It is therefore necessary to distinguish in Mark between the 
reported events which constitute the outward course of the history 
of Jesus, and the dogmatic idea which claims to lay down the 
lines of its inward course. The principle of division is found in 
the contradictions. 

The recorded events form, according to Wrede, the following 
picture. Jesus came forward as a teacher, 1 first and principally in 
Galilee. He was surrounded by a company of disciples, went 
about with them, and gave them instruction. To some of them He 
accorded a special confidence. A larger multitude sometimes 
attached itself to Him, in addition to the disciples. He is fond 
of discoursing in parables. Besides the teaching there are the 
miracles. These make a stir, and He is thronged by the multitudes. 
He gives special attention to the cases of demoniacs. He is in 
such close touch with the people that He does not hesitate to 
associate even with publicans and sinners. Towards the Law He 
takes up an attitude of some freedom. He encounters the 
opposition of the Pharisees and the Jewish authorities. They set 
traps for Him and endeavour to bring about His fall. Finally they 
succeed, when He ventures to show Himself not only on Judaean 
soil, but in Jerusalem. He remains passive and is condemned to 
death. The Roman administration supports the Jewish authorities. 

"The texture of the Marcan narrative as we know it," continues 
Wrede, "is not complete until to the warp of these general 
historical notions there is added a strong weft of ideas of a 
dogmatic character," the substance of which is that "Jesus, the 
bearer of a special office to which He was appointed by God," 
becomes "a higher, superhuman being." If this is the case, 
however, then " the motives of His conduct are not derived from 
human characteristics, human aims and necessities." "The one 

1 It would perhaps be more historical to say " as a prophet. " 


motive which runs throughout is rather a Divine decree which lies 
beyond human understanding. This He seeks to fulfil alike in His 
actions and His sufferings. The teaching of Jesus is accordingly 
supernatural." On this assumption the want of understanding of 
the disciples to whom He communicates, without commentary, 
unconnected portions of this supernatural knowledge becomes 
natural and explicable. The people are, moreover, essentially "non- 
receptive of revelation." 

" It is these motifs and not those which are inherently historical 
which give movement and direction to the Marcan narrative. It is 
they that give the general colour. On them naturally depends the 
main interest, it is to them that the thought of the writer is really 
directed. The consequence is that the general picture offered by 
the Gospel is not an historical representation of the Life of Jesus. 
Only some faded remnants of such an impression have been taken 
over into a supra-historical religious view. In this sense the 
Gospel of Mark belongs to the history of dogma." 

The two conceptions of the Life of Jesus, the natural and the 
supernatural, are brought, not without inconsistencies, into a kind 
of harmony by means of the idea of intentional secrecy. The 
Messiahship of Jesus is concealed in His life as in a closed dark 
lantern, which, however, is not quite closed otherwise one could 
not see that it was there and allows a few bright beams to 

The idea of a secret which must remain a secret until the 
resurrection of Jesus could only arise at a time when nothing was 
known of a Messianic claim of Jesus during His life upon earth : 
that is to say, at a time when the Messiahship of Jesus was thought 
of as beginning with the resurrection. But that is a weighty piece 
of indirect historical evidence that Jesus did not really profess to be 
the Messiah at all. 

The positive fact which is to be inferred from this is that the 
appearances of the risen Jesus produced a sudden revolution in 
His disciples' conception of Him. " The resurrection " is for 
Wrede the real Messianic event in the Life of Jesus. 

Who is responsible, then, for introducing this singular feature, 
so destructive of the real historical connexion, into the life of 
Jesus, which was in reality that of a teacher? It is quite im- 
possible, Wrede argues, that the idea of the Messianic secret is the 
invention of Mark. " A thing like that is not done by a single 
individual. It must, therefore, have been a view which was current 
in certain circles, and was held by a considerable number, though 
not necessarily perhaps by a very great number of persons. To 
say this is not to deny that Mark had a share and perhaps a 
considerable share in the creation of the view which he sets forth 
... the motifs themselves are doubtless not, in part at least, 



peculiar to the Evangelist, but the concrete embodiment of them is 
certainly his own work ; and to this extent we may speak of a 
special Marcan point of view which manifests itself here and there. 
Where the line is to be drawn between what is traditional and 
what is individual cannot always be determined even by a careful 
examination directed to this end. We must leave it commingled, 
as we find it." 

The Marcan narrative has therefore arisen from the impulse to 
give a Messianic form to the earthly life of Jesus. This impulse 
was, however, restrained by the impression and tradition of the 
non-Messianic character of the life of Jesus, which were still strong 
and vivid, and it was therefore not able wholly to recast the material, 
but could only bore its way into it and force it apart, as the roots 
of the bramble disintegrate a rock. In the Gospel literature which 
arose on the basis of Mark the Messianic secret becomes gradually 
of more subordinate importance and the life of Jesus more Messianic 
in character, until in the Fourth Gospel He openly comes before 
the people with Messianic claims. 

In estimating the value of this construction we must not attach 
too much importance to its a priori assumptions and difficulties. 
In this respect Wrede's position is much more precarious than that 
of his precursor Bruno Bauer. According to the latter the interpola- 
tion of the Messianic secret is the personal, absolutely original act of 
the Evangelist. Wrede thinks of it as a collective act, representing 
the new conception as moulded by the tradition before it was fixed 
by the Evangelist. That is very much more difficult to carry 
through. Tradition alters its materials in a different way from 
that in which we find them altered in Mark. Tradition transforms 
from without. Mark's way of drawing secret threads of a different 
material through the texture of the tradition, without otherwise 
altering it, is purely literary, and could only be the work of an 
individual person. 

A creative tradition would have carried out the theory of the 
Messianic secret in the life of Jesus much more boldly and logically, 
that is to say, at once more arbitrarily and more consistently. 

The only alternative is to distinguish two stages of tradition 
in early Christianity, a naive, freely-working, earlier stage, and a more 
artificial later stage confined to a smaller circle of a more literary 
character. Wrede does, as a matter of fact, propose to find in 
Mark traces of a simpler and bolder transformation which, leaving 
aside the Messianic secret, makes Jesus an openly- professed 
Messiah, and is therefore of a distinct origin from the conception 
of the secret Christ. To this tradition may belong, he thinks, 
the entry into Jerusalem and the confession before the High 
Priest, since these narratives "naively" imply an openly avowed 


The word " naively " is out of place here ; a really naive 
tradition which intended to represent the entry of Jesus as Messianic 
would have done so in quite a different way from Mark, and would 
not have stultified itself so curiously as we find done even 
in Matthew, where the Galilaean Passover pilgrims, after the 
" Messianic entry," answer the question of the people of Jerusalem 
as to who it was whom they were acclaiming, with the words " This 
is the Prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee " (Matt. xxi. n). 

The tradition, too, which makes Jesus acknowledge His 
Messiahship before His judges is not " naive " in Wrede's sense, 
for, if it were, it would not represent the High Priest's knowledge 
of Jesus' Messiahship as something so extraordinary and peculiar 
to himself that he can cite witnesses only for the saying about the 
Temple, not with reference to Jesus' Messianic claim, and bases his 
condemnation only on the fact that Jesus in answer to his question 
acknowledges Himself as Messiah and Jesus does so, it should 
be remarked, as in other passages, with an appeal to a future 
justification of His claim. The confession before the council is 
therefore anything but a " naive representation of an openly 
avowed Messiahship." 

The Messianic statements in these two passages present precisely 
the same remarkable character as in all the other cases to which 
Wrede draws attention. We have not here to do with a different 
tradition, with a clear Messianic light streaming in through the 
window-pane, but, just as elsewhere, with the rays of a dark lantern. 
The real point is that Wrede cannot bring these two passages 
within the lines of the theory of secrecy, and practically admits this 
by assuming the existence of a second and rather divergent line of 
tradition. What concerns us is to note that this theory does not 
suffice to explain the two facts in question, the knowledge of Jesus' 
Messiahship shown by the Galilaean Passover pilgrims at the time 
of the entry into Jerusalem, and the knowledge of the High Priest 
at His trial. 

We can only touch on the question whether any one who wished 
to date back in some way or other the Messiahship into the life of 
Jesus could not have done it much more simply by making Jesus 
give His closest followers some hints regarding it. Why does the 
re-moulder of the history, instead of doing that, have recourse 
to a supernatural knowledge on the part of the demoniacs and the 
disciples ? For Wrede rightly remarks, as Bruno Bauer and the 
" Sketch " also do, that the incident of Caesarea Philippi, as repre- 
sented by Mark, involves a miracle, since Jesus does not, as is 
generally supposed, reveal His Messiahship to Peter; it is Peter 
who reveals it to Jesus (Mark viii. 29). This fact, however, makes 
nonsense of the whole theory about the disciples' want of under- 
standing. It will not therefore fit into the concealment theory, 


and Wrede, as a matter of fact, feels obliged to give up that theory 
as regards this incident. "This scene," he remarks, "can hardly 
have been created by Mark himself." It also, therefore, belongs to 
another tradition. 

Here, then, is a third Messianic fact which cannot be brought 
within the lines of Wrede's "literary" theory of the Messianic 
secret. And these three facts are precisely the most important of 
all: Peter's confession, the Entry into Jerusalem, and the High 
Priest's knowledge of Jesus' Messiahship ! In each case Wrede 
finds himself obliged to refer these to tradition instead of to 
the literary conception of Mark. 1 This tradition undermines his 
literary hypothesis, for the conception of a tradition always involves 
the possibility of genuine historical elements. 

How greatly this inescapable intrusion of tradition weakens 
the theory of the literary interpolation of the Messiahship into 
the history, becomes evident when we consider the story of the 
passion. The representation that Jesus was publicly put to death 
as Messiah because He had publicly acknowledged Himself to be 
so, must, like the High Priest's knowledge of His claim, be referred 
to the other tradition which has nothing to do with the Messianic 
secret, but boldly antedates the Messiahship without employing 
any finesse of that kind. But that strongly tends to confirm the 
historicity of this tradition, and throws the burden of proof upon 
those who deny it. It is wholly independent of the hypothesis 
of secrecy, and in fact directly opposed to it. If, on the other 
hand, in spite of all the difficulties, the representation that 
Jesus was condemned to death on account of His Messianic claims 
is dragged by main force into the theory of secrecy, the question 
arises : What interest had the persons who set up the literary theory 
of secrecy, in representing Jesus as having been openly put to 
death as Messiah and in consequence of His Messianic claims? 
And the answer is : " None whatever : quite the contrary." For in 
doing so the theory of secrecy stultifies itself. As though one 
were to develop a photographic plate with painful care and, just 
when one had finished, fling open the shutters, so, on this hypothesis, 
the natural Messianic light suddenly shines into ( the room which 
ought to be lighted only by the rays of the dark lantern. 

Here, therefore, the theory of secrecy abandoned the method 
which it had hitherto followed in regard to the traditional material. 
For if Jesus was not condemned and crucified at Jerusalem as 

1 The difficulties which the incident at Caesarea Philippi places in the way of 
Wrede's construction may be realised by placing two of his statements side by side. 
P. 101 : " From this it is evident that this incident contains no element which cannot 
be easily understood on the basis of Mark's ideas." P. 238 : " But in another aspect 
this incident stands in direct contradiction to the Marcan view of the disciples. It is 
inconsistent with their general ' want of understanding,' and can therefore hardly 
have been created by Mark himself." 


Messiah, a tradition must have existed which preserved the truth 
about the last conflicts, and the motives of the condemnation. This 
is supposed to have been here completely set aside by the theory of 
the secret Messiahship, which, instead of drawing its delicate threads 
through the older tradition, has simply substituted its own repre- 
sentation of events. But in that case why not do away with the 
remainder of the public ministry ? Why not at least get rid of the 
public appearance at Jerusalem ? How can the crudeness of 
method shown in the case of the passion be harmonised with the 
skilful conservatism towards the non-Messianic tradition which it 
is obvious that the "Marcan circle" has scrupulously observed 
elsewhere ? 

If according to the original tradition, of which Wrede admits 
the existence, Jesus went to Jerusalem not to die, but to work there, 
the dogmatic view, according to which He went to Jerusalem to 
die, must have struck out the whole account of His sojourn in 
Jerusalem and His death, in order to put something else in its 
place. What we now read in the Gospels concerning those last 
days in Jerusalem cannot be derived from the original tradition, 
for one who came to work, and, according to Wrede, " to work with 
decisive effect," would not have cast all His preaching into the 
form of obscure parables of judgment and minatory discourses. 
That is a style of speech which could be adopted only by one who 
was determined to force his adversaries to put him to death. 
Therefore the narrative of the last days of Jesus must be, from 
beginning to end, a creation of the dogmatic idea. And, as a 
matter of fact, Wrede, here in agreement with Weisse, " sees grounds 
for asserting that the sojourn at Jerusalem is presented to us in the 
Gospels in a very much abridged and weakened version." That is a 
euphemistic expression, for if it was really the dogmatic idea which 
was responsible for representing Jesus as being condemned as 
Messiah, it is not a mere case of "abridging and weakening down," 
but of displacing the tradition in favour of a new one. 

But if Jesus was not condemned as Messiah, on what grounds 
was He condemned ? And, again, what interest had those whose 
concern was to make the Messiahship a secret of His earthly life, in 
making Him die as Messiah, contrary to the received tradition ? And 
what interest could the tradition have had in falsifying history in 
that way ? Even admitting that the prediction of the passion to 
the disciples is of a dogmatic character, and is to be regarded as a 
creation of primitive Christian theology, the historic fact that He 
died would have been a sufficient fulfilment of those sayings. 
That He was publicly condemned and crucified as Messiah has 
nothing to do with the fulfilment of those predictions, and goes far 
beyond it. 

To take a more general point : what interest had primitive 


theology in dating back the Messiahship of Jesus to the time of 
His earthly ministry ? None whatever. Paul shows us with what 
complete indifference the earthly life of Jesus was regarded by 
primitive Christianity. The discourses in Acts show an equal 
indifference, since in them also Jesus first becomes the Messiah by 
virtue of His exaltation. To date the Messiahship earlier was not 
an undertaking which offered any advantage to primitive theology, 
in fact it would only have raised difficulties for it, since it involved 
the hypothesis of a dual Messiahship, one of earthly humiliation 
and one of future glory. The fact is, if one reads through the 
early literature one becomes aware that so long as theology had an 
eschatological orientation and was dominated by the expectation of 
the Parousia the question of how Jesus of Nazareth " had been " the 
Messiah not only did not exist, but was impossible. Primitive 
theology is simply a theology of the future, with no interest in 
history ! It was only with the decline of eschatological interest and 
the change in the orientation of Christianity which was connected 
therewith that an interest in the life of Jesus and the " historical 
Messiahship " arose. 

That is to say, the Gnostics, who were the first to assert the 
Messiahship of the historical Jesus, and who were obliged to 
assert it precisely because they denied the eschatological 
conceptions, forced this view upon the theology of the Early 
Church, and compelled it to create in the Logos Christology an 
un-Gnostic mould in which to cast the speculative conception of 
the historical Messiahship of Jesus ; and that is what we find in 
the Fourth Gospel. Prior to the anti-Gnostic controversies we find 
in the early Christian literature no conscious dating back of the 
Messiahship of Jesus to His earthly life, and no theological interest 
at work upon the dogmatic recasting of His history. 1 It is there- 
fore difficult to suppose that the Messianic secret in Mark, that 
is to say, in the very earliest traditio