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author owes to the reader some 
words of explanation, how this book 
has come to its present form. 

It was in 1908 that he was asked to 
read a paper before the Third International 
Congress for the History of Religions, held 
at Oxford, September, 1908. He laid 
several subjects to be treated upon before 
the Committee, and the Committee decided 
in favour of " The Significance of Early 
Christian Eschatology." This paper was 
printed in the Transactions of the Congress, 
vol. ii., pp. 312-320, and is here reprinted 


as an Introduction by kind permission of 
the Clarendon Press. 

The four lectures which follow appeared 
in the Expositor, February-May, 1910, and 
are an expansion of what he had given 
only in outlines. They were delivered at 
the summer school of theology at Oxford 
in 1909. 

v. D. 









TRADITION . . . .77 








STANDING (ST. JOHN) . . .l6l 

The Significance of Early Christian 



T^SCHATOLOGY was not so long 
^-^ ago the last chapter of dogmatics. 
The Biblical scholar was quite satisfied 
when he had made all the New Testament 
sayings about the last things fit into his 
system. Nobody cared what the early 
Christians felt and thought in reading 
these sayings, and but few people were 
personally interested in their contents. 
Time went on, and New Testament 
exegesis became historical instead of dog 
matic. Students learned to ask what the 

Escttalology. 3 


New Testament authors meant and felt. 
But there was so little appreciation for 
eschatological ideas that these were, if not 
neglected altogether, softened down and 

It is only within the last thirty years 
that the attitude of Biblical theology has 
changed. Modern criticism allows a special 
interest in everything which is alien to 
our own time. Hence, together with angel- 
ology and demonology, eschatology to-day 
forms the most attractive of New Testa 
ment studies. And, as it generally hap 
pens, where there was once utter neglect, 
the tendency is now towards the opposite 
extreme an over-estimation of the signifi 
cance of eschatology on the part of a 
considerable number of scholars. 

Under these circumstances I may be 
justified in laying before this distinguished 
assembly this question : What was the real 


significance of eschatology in the earliest 
days of Christianity ? 

I do not propose to deal here with early 
Christian eschatological doctrines in general. 
It is well known what a number of apoca 
lyptic ideas were current during that period. 
We may take it for granted that all these j 
were borrowed from Judaism, whatever 
may have been their origin. The gospel 
introduced two new points only: (i) the 
central place was given to Jesus, whose 
parousia or descent from heaven in the 
glory of the Father was to bring with it 
the end of this world, the resurrection, the 
judgment, the kingdom of God, and life 
everlasting ; and (2) this was expected to 
happen very speedily, the Messiah having 
been sent already by God in the person 
of Jesus, and being postponed for a short 
space only. This is the vital point : early 
Christianity was not simply meditating on 


eschatological dreams that might be 
realised some time or other at a remote 
period, but the first Christians were per 
suaded that the great day when all would 
be changed was to come in the lifetime of 
their own generation. 

No modern scholar will deny, I trust, 
that Jesus Himself and His disciples, in 
cluding the Apostle Paul, shared this per 
suasion. Of course, it cannot be proved that 
Jesus ever thought that He would succeed 
in establishing the kingdom of God with 
out dying first. It is a widespread hypo- 
j thesis among scholars of our time that 
He did so, at least in the first period of 
His ministry ; that He tried to win His 
people by preaching and healing, and that 
He was only led by the experience of 
growing hatred on the part of His country 
men to reckon, first with the possibility, 
then with the necessity, of His death, and, 


finally, to attribute to it a positive efficacy. 
In vain we ask for proofs of this theory. 
Jesus says that unto this (present) genera 
tion no sign should be given, 1 that there 
were some of them that stood there who 
should not taste of death till they had 
seen the kingdom of God come with 
power. 2 He never speaks of His own life 
time 3 ; it is only in the next generation 
that the kingdom will come. His disciples 
have to wait for it, as they pray for its 

And thus the apostles, when Jesus was 
taken from them, taught the people that 
Jesus of Nazareth, whom the chiefs of the 
Jews put to death, was the man ordained 

1 Mark viii. 12. 2 Mark ix. 9. 

3 Matt. x. 23 is to be understood of the mission 
ary work after Jesus s death, not of the disciples 
short trip through Galilee. 

4 Matt. vi. 10. 


by God; but they did not tell them that 
the new era had already begun. The 
kingdom was still to be expected. Jesus 
must come back from heaven to establish 
it, and would come quickly. 

St. Paul felt sure that he would be still 
alive at the coming. " We which are 
alive and remain," he says to the Thessa- 
lonians I ; and in his first letter to the 
Corinthians he expresses the same view. 2 
Later on his attitude changes. As a 
matter of fact, in the second to the Corin 
thians, his position has become uncertain ; 
still he hopes and wishes that death may 
not come to him before Christ s parousia ; 
but having realised that death can come 
suddenly, even upon him, he declares 
solemnly his confidence that he will be in 
communion with Christ even in death : 

1 i Thess. iv. 15, 17. 2 I Cor. xv. 51, 52. 


" We are confident, I say, and willing 
rather to be absent from the body and to 
be present with the Lord." l Here we find 
for the first time the individual death 
taking the place of the parousia, an alter 
native often suggested by later Christian 
writers. But Paul does not at all mean 
to set aside the enthusiastic expectation 
of Christ s immediate advent. His only 
doubt is this : will he himself be still alive ? 
The event is not postponed ; on the con 
trary, it draws nigh rapidly, as he writes 
to the Romans : " Now is our salvation 
nearer than when we believed." 2 And even 
in the last of his letters he declares : " We 
look for the salvation from heaven." 3 

To these testimonies we may add the 
opening and the closing words of St. 
John s Revelation : " Things which must 

1 2 Cor. v- 6-8. 2 Rom. xiii. 11-12. 

3 Phil, iii, 20. 


shortly come to pass;" " For the time is 
at hand ; " " Surely I come quickly. Amen. 
Even so, Lord Jesus". 1 It is impossible 
not to see how deeply early Christianity 
was impressed with this conviction. 

Not a single modern scholar, I feel sure, 
will deny these statements. The question, 
however, is how far this belief in an 
immediate coming of the end acted upon 
the mind of Jesus and of His disciples. 
We shall find that it did not do so as 
much as we might expect. 

Jesus declares that the gospel must be 
preached to all nations before the kingdom 
can come ; 2 but He does not go beyond 
the Jewish frontiers.3 Although at the 
sending out of His disciples to preach in 
the cities and villages of Palestine His 

1 Rev. i. I, 3 ; xxii. 20. 

2 Mark xiii. 10. 3 Mark vi. i ff. 


orders show that He would have them 
hurry on, 1 He Himself makes no haste at 
all. There is no evidence that He ever 
dreamt of hastening on the day of the 
Lord by His activity or His suffering, that 
(to quote from a recent author) He was 
possessed with the idea that His inter 
vention would bring to a standstill the 
wheel of history. 

And even St. Paul, much as he was 
impressed by the urgent need of accom 
plishing his missionary work throughout 
the world before the coming of Christ, 2 
did not hurry on from town to town ; on 
the contrary, he was anxious to stay as 
long as his activity was needed, not merely 
to found, but to develop and to educate a 
Christian community. 

Now, as a matter of fact, in his exhor- 

1 Mark vi. 8-12. 2 Rom. xv. 16. 


tation he frequently insists on the approach 
of judgment and final salvation. 1 When 
he appeals to scriptural " examples " he 
justifies himself by the remark that the end 
of the time has come upon his readers. 2 
But we cannot say that this view materially 
influenced his ethics. Many scholars 
maintain that we have to explain from 
the eschatological point of view what Paul 
says about marriage in i Cor. vii., and, 
indeed, his general idea is that, as the 
time is short, nothing should be changed ; 
he who was married when he became a 
Christian should remain married ; he who 
was unmarried should so remain : "let every 
man abide in the same calling wherein 
he was called." 3 His preference for celibacy, 
however, is not to be explained by his 

1 i Thess. v. i ff. ; Rom. xii. 1 1. 

2 i Cor. x. n. 

3 i Cor. vii. 17, 20, 24. 


eschatology 1 ; it was the asceticism of his 
age which influenced him in regarding 
marriage as the lower state. 

Jesus certainly looks forward to a rich 
harvest, which is to be given to the poor, 
the hungry, the merciful, the pure in 
heart, 2 and so on, when the kingdom 
comes ; and this will be very soon. He 
insists on the duty of being watchful, 
because the day will come suddenly as 
a thief in the night.3 But if we eliminate 
His eschatological ideas His ethics remain 
unchanged. Take, for example, the parables 
of the Good Samaritan and of the Prodigal 
Son.4 The great commandments of love 

1 I Cor. vii. 26, 31, have been partly mis 
interpreted, partly overvalued in their signi 

2 Matt. v. 3-12 ; Luke vi. 20-22. 

3 Matt. xxiv. 42-44. 

4 Luke x. 30 ff. ; xv. 1 1 ff. 


and of self-renunciation I are in no way 
suggestive of an " interim ethics," but of 
a definite, absolute system of ethics. 

And in this way His ethical precepts 
were understood, taught, and acted upon 
by the early Christians. 2 That they are 
strange to our modern Christian mind is 
not due to the fact that we have aban 
doned the eschatological idea, but to the 
fact that the enthusiasm which inspired 
them and made their fulfilment easy is no 
longer ours. This enthusiasm, however, 
has its roots not so much in eschatology 
as in the profound consciousness of a 
change already accomplished through the 
experience of salvation, as we shall see 

It is true that neither Jesus nor Paul 

1 Mark xii. 28-34 ; Matt. v. 38-48 ; Luke vi. 
26, 27. 

2 E.g., i Thess. v. 15 ; Rom. xii. 17-21. 


conceived the idea of a gradual develop 
ment of the kingdom, or of an extension 
of the Church through a long period of 
history upon earth. Jesus s first coming 
was not indeed the end, but at the end 
of history. It is from this point of view 
that we have to understand what Jesus 
Himself says about His death, as a 
ransom for many and the making of a 
new covenant. 1 He looks backward in 
history. The new covenant will be in 
another seon, not on this earth, not under 
these conditions of life. 2 When St. Paul 
speaks of Jesus as a propitiation, and of 
the redemption and forgiveness of all sins 
by His death,3 this is intelligible on the 
supposition that what stands at the end 
of history extends its influence backwards 

1 Mark x. 45 ; xiv. 24. 

2 Mark xii. 25 ; xiv. 25. 3 Rom. iii. 25. 


upon the whole period which preceded. 
Paul does not think about the sins of 
millions of men, who will live after Christ s 
death. When he insists on the parallelism 
between Adam and Christ, 1 he is thinking 
of humanity in its beginning and in its 
end. Christ is not the centre or turning- 
point of a great historical development, as 
we may now call Him from our remote 
standpoint, but He is the end itself. What 
follows is no continuation, but a renovation 
of what has gone before, a new humanity 
in a new world. 

Thus the general conception of history 
in primitive Christianity so characteristic 
of Jewish thought as contrasted with 
Greek philosophy is strongly influenced by 
what we may call the eschatological idea. 
And it is this historical conception which 

1 Rom. v. I2-2I. 


throws light upon the early Christian 
theories of redemption. 

These theories, however, are but a form 
of religious thought, just as ethics are 
only a way of forming the moral power of 
Christendom. When we ask what is the 
kernel of early Christian religious feeling, 
we shall find that there is nothing eschato- 
logical about it. 

Jesus s religious position may be rightly 
defined as a life of unbroken union with 
God. The Judaism of His time, even in 
its most pious form, thought of God as 
of a distant Being, removed and com 
pletely separated from this world of sin, 
which was given into the dominion of 
subordinate or even evil spirits until the 
time when God should come to judge the 
world and to establish His own sove 
reignty. Jesus knows Him and teaches 
men to know Him as the Father, who, 

Eschatology. 3 


always and everywhere present, cares about 
the welfare of all His children ; x who has 
compassion on the sinner and forgives 
trespasses whenever man repents. It is 
in the strength of this trust that Jesus 
goes on His way, undisturbed by hostile 
threats; 2 that He sleeps in the storm,3 
feeds the multitude,4 heals all kinds of 
sickness, 5 and casts out the demons. 6 
Thence He gets a conception of the 
jSao-iXeia row Otov quite different from the 
current one ; the kingdom of God is not 
to be brought about by a miraculous 
act of God, but it is the domination of 
God casting away all evil powers. 7 Jesus 

1 Matt v. 45 ; Luke vi. 35. 

2 Luke xiii. 31, 32. 3 Mark iv. 37-40. 
4 Mark vi. 34-40; viii. 13-26. 

s Mark i. 32 ff. ; ii. 5 ; v. 34 ; xi. 23, 24. 

6 Mark iii. 22 ff. 

7 Matt xii. 28 ; Luke xi. 20. Cp. Luke x. 18. 


Himself by His complete union with God 
brings in this domination of God : it is 
where He is ; it is present among men ; 
it is to be found in men s hearts, and not 
to be looked for in external miraculous 
signs. 1 So Jesus in His own opinion 
is not only preparing the future kingdom 
of God, like His forerunner, John the 
Baptist, but He is actually bringing it in. 2 
He is the bridegroom whose companions 
cannot fast while He is with them. 3 
From the parables of the garment and of 
the wine-bottles 4 we learn that He looks 
on Himself and His surroundings as some 
thing quite new. He does not speak 
much of the new spirit, but all His acting 
is dominated by a new spirit. So is that 

1 Luke xvii. 21. 

2 Matt xi. 9-10 ; Luke vii. 26-8 ; xvi. 16. 

3 Mark ii. 19. 

4 Mark ii, 21, 22 ; Matt xiii. 16, 17. 


of His disciples. Of course, in His 
addresses to the people He speaks as the 
missionary ; there is the need to be watch 
ful, for the great moment will come 
shortly, suddenly. But in the intimate 
circle of His followers there is no anxious 
self-preparation for judgment to come, but 
a happy enjoyment of all blessings which 
God s grace had vouchsafed to them in 
Jesus. This is the meaning of Peter s 
confession : l " People may say, Thou art 
a prophet, one of a large number, an 
Elijah or John, i.e., the forerunner of a 
greater one. We confess that Thou art 
the Christ, the unique bringer of salva 
tion : there is none greater than Thou ; 
in Thee we enjoy our union with God, 
in short our salvation." 

It is this spirit of gladness, caused by 

1 Mark viii. 28, 29. 


the experience of the greatest gifts of 
God, that we discern in the disciples 
after Jesus had gone from them. Whether 
it be called the experience of communion 
with the risen Lord or the communion of 
the Holy Ghost, it is not the anticipation 
of something yet to come ; it is the actual 
possession of a present benefit. 

This fact becomes still more patent when 
we turn once more to St. Paul. What 
has the triumphant hymn in Rom. viii. 
to do with eschatology ? The Christian is 
sure of God s love as shown and guaran 
teed to him by Christ who came down 
and died for this very purpose, and by 
the Holy Ghost, which is given into his 
heart. 1 Salvation is at hand, God has 
performed, Christ has died and risen, the 
Holy Ghost has been given to every 

1 Rom. v. 5-8 ; viii. 32. 


believer. Christians, then, are washed, 
sanctified, justified. 1 They are living in 
a new state ; " old things are passed away ; 
behold, all things are become new." 2 

Eschatology, it is true, is at the back 
ground of all this, but it has changed its 
significance. Many sayings of Jesus and 
Paul are then only fully intelligible if we 
recognise that eschatological terms are 
used by them in a new sense ; they dis 
card all external, political, miraculous sig 
nificance, but take the inward moral meaning 
as already fulfilled. 3 At the same time 
they do not entirely eliminate the other 
meaning ; putting forward the new, they 
retain the original one combined with it. 
If time present had brought fulfilment, 
still larger fulfilment is in store for time 
to come. 

1 i Cor. vi. ii ; i. 30. 2 2 Cor. v. 17. 

3 See, e.g., i Cor. iv. 8. 


Jesus, like all great religious personali 
ties, was at once progressive and emi 
nently conservative. The new gifts which 
He had to bring to mankind are envisaged 
by Himself in the form of old Jewish 
conceptions. External reality did not 
correspond to what people expected, to 
what Jesus Himself found in the prophets. 
There was still a lack of external glory. 
Now Jesus trusted to His Father that He 
would accomplish what He had begun, 
and fulfil all that He had promised. And 
so eschatology in its old form was for Him 
a postulate of His faith. The kingdom is 
at hand, it is present in His person, in 
His casting out devils, in His bringing 
sinners to repentance but it has still to 
come in glory, when after His death and 
resurrection He will come upon the clouds 
from heaven. 1 Men are God s beloved 
1 Mark viii. 38 ; xiv. 62. 


and happy children; so runs His message, 
and they are this if they are merciful even 
as He is. 1 But He can also say, " Blessed 
are the peacemakers, for they shall be 
called the children of God." 2 So in Jesus s 
preaching everything is at once present and 
future : you have it, you will receive it. 

The same may be said of St. Paul s 
doctrine : there we find not only the 
double conception of the kingdom, present 
and future, 3 but also that of sonship, of 
redemption, of deliverance, of righteousness, 
and so on. We are children of God ; we 
have the spirit of sonship, and yet we 
have to wait for the manifestation of the 
sons of God ; we wait for the sonship.4 
We are redeemed, and yet we look for 

1 Matt. v. 45 ; Luke vi. 35. 2 Matt. v. 9. 

3 Rom. xiv. 17 ; i Cor. iv. 20 ; i Thess. ii. 12 ; 
I Cor. vi. 9, 10 ; Gal. v. 21. 

4 Rom. viii. 14, 16, 19, 23. 


the redemption of our body. 1 Paul feels 
himself a new creature, exalted above all 
human misery and sin : and yet all that 
he now has, is but a small portion of what 
he will obtain when his Lord comes in 
His glory to glorify those who belong to 
Him. 2 If Christ s death has done such 
great things, he argues in Romans v., to 
reconcile us with God how great will be 
the effect of Christ s life, 3 i.e., of His 
coming in glory and of our being united 
with Him eternally. 

We are now in a better position to 
understand how it is that Paul, when 
changing his opinion as to the time of his 
own death in relation to the parousia, did 
not forthwith set aside the old conception 
(as we should have expected, had he been 
merely abandoning Rabbinical views for 

1 i Cor. i. 30 ; Rom. viii. 23. 

2 2 Cor. v. 17. 3 Rom. v. 9, 10. 


Hellenistic ones). Even in the latest of 
his letters he holds both conceptions: on 
the one hand he can desire to depart and 
to be with Christ ; on the other he can 
anticipate Christ s return from heaven to 
conform the body of our humiliation to 
the body of His glory. 1 

It would be easy to demonstrate these 
alternating views by the Rabbinical doctrine 
of the two Olams (aeons, worlds), the one 
present, bad, evil, and the other future, 
glorious, happy. The New Testament 
writers use the terms, but it is difficult to 
say how precisely they view their own 
age. If Christ came that He might de 
liver us from the present evil world, 
Christians belong already to the new world. 
And yet all the external conditions of the 
old bad world still exist. Christians dwell 
still in the flesh, but they walk not after 
1 Phil. i. 20; iii. 20, 21. 


the flesh ; or, as St. John says, they are 
in the world but not of the world. It is 
remarkable that we nowhere find an ex 
plicit theory of an intermediate state like 
later doctrines of the twofold advent of 
Christ, or the later distinction between 
ecclesia militans and ecclesia triumphans. 
The early Christians were so enthusiastic 
in their belief in an accomplished salva 
tion that, in spite of all external evidence, 
they imagined themselves already dwelling 
in the new order of things. If St. Mark 
illustrates the effect of Christ s death by 
the veil of the temple rent in twain from 
the top to the bottom, the Gospel accord 
ing to St. Matthew anticipate the signs 
of the parousia and the last judgment 
by the earthquake, the opening of the 
graves, and the rise of the many bodies 
of the saints. 1 

1 Mark xv. 38 ; Matt, xxvii. 51, 52. 


This attitude of early Christianity is to 
be seen in its clearest form in the Johan- 
nine writings. It is well known that the 
fourth evangelist (whoever he may be) 
uses eschatological terms in the modified 
sense : Zw-h atowoe, " eternal life," is not, as in 
other books, the life of the aeon to come, 
but it is something that begins in this life, 
life in the highest sense whereas what 
men call life is but death. So Christ gives 
life everlasting to all who know Him and 
believe in Him. So, too, judgment and 
resurrection are taken in a figurative sense : 
for the Christian judgment lies in the 
past ; he has passed from death into life ; I 
the KP HTIG is effected by the separation of 
believers and unbelievers. 2 It is to be 
understood in this figurative sense when 
Jesus says : "The hour is coming, and now 

1 Johnv. 24. 2 John iii. 17-21. 


is, when the dead shall hear the voice of 
the Son of God, and they that hear shall 
live " : men, morally dead, by accepting 
the gospel get life everlasting. 1 But when, 
three verses further on, he says, " For 
the hour is coming, in the which all that 
are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and 
shall come forth ; they that have done 
good, unto the resurrection of life, and 
they that have done evil, unto the resur 
rection of judgment" (damnation), 2 the 
thought is fully eschatological. It is this 
combination of non-eschatological plus 
eschatological ideas which makes the 
Johannine characteristic as distinct both 
from primitive Christian and from Gnostic 
views. And yet it is the very attitude 
of Jesus and Paul which we recognise in 
this Johannine two-sidedness. 

1 John v. 25. 2 John v. 28, 29. 


At this point we may stop. We have 
found eschatology playing a great part in 
early Christian belief and thought, (i) as 
a strong motive in moral exhortation but 
only one motive besides others, such as 
thankfulness for God s grace, care for 
God s honour, Christian self-respect, and 
so on and not influencing Christian 
ethics materially ; (2) as the key to the 
historical conception of God s working 
with mankind, the sending of His Son as 
Saviour being the end of a long history 
of sin. But it was not of the essence of 
Christian faith, this being rather confidence 
in a present activity of God and an already 
accomplished salvation. 

We may accordingly affirm that Chris 
tianity did not change its essence, when 
the expectation of Christ s coming became 
fainter and eschatology fell into the rank 
of a doctrine of merely historical value. 


The remark may be added that the great 
eschatological pictures come in only at a 
later period of early Christian literature, 
not in the first, but in the second genera 
tion. That the mass of Jewish apocalyptic 
ideas is introduced, is in itself evidence of 
the weakening of early Christian confi 

And at the same time we may deter 
mine the position of the Gospel in 
the history of religions. All religions of 
that time were religions of hope. Stress 
was laid on the future; the present time 
was but for preparation. So in the mys 
terious cults of Hellenism, whose highest 
aim is to offer guarantees for other worldly 
happiness ; so too in Judaism, whose legacy 
has but the aim of furnishing the happy 
life in the kingdom of the future. Christi 
anity is a religion of faith, the gospel 
giving not only guarantees for the future 


life in another world, but bringing by itself 
confidence, peace, joy, salvation, forgive 
ness, righteousness whatever man s heart 
yearns after. 

With this it combines hope this we 
must never forget. Hope is an essential 
feature of vivid religious feeling. But in 
primitive Christian piety hope takes only 
the second place. When at a later period, 
hope takes the first rank at the expense 
of faith, as may be seen, e.g., in i Peter 
and Hebrews, this is due to the increasing 
influence of pre-Christian Hellenistic re 
ligion, and means a declension. Strange 
to say, the weakening of eschatological 
feeling and the other-worldly tendency are 
both produced by the same movement. 

Now, where all stress is laid on hope, 
instead of on trust, joy changes into timidity, 
the religious stimulus once more becomes 
fear. So we see the Christianity of the 


second century creating a new system of 
guarantees, exactly similar to that which 
the mysteries of Greece had furnished : 
guarantees of a future salvation a highly 
uncertain salvation. But wherever there 
is a revival of the Gospel, e.g., in St. 
Augustine, St. Francis, Luther, and the 
other heroes of the Reformation, we meet 
again joyful confidence and assurance of 
salvation combined with a secure hope 
of still greater blessings. 

This is the proof from history for our 


The Problem and its History 


T^SCHATOLOGY is at the present 
-*- - moment a favourite subjeci which 
attracts more and more the interest of 
large circles. I hope, therefore, that the fol 
lowing four lectures, which were delivered at 
the Summer School of Theology at Oxford, 
September 1909, may be welcomed here. 
I give them, with the exception of some 
slight alterations, in the original form of 

The subject, as it was formulated by 
the Committee of the Summer School, 
is not equivalent to "The eschatology of 



Jesus " it includes much more ; nor is it so 
comprehensive as the paper read before the 
third International Congress for the history 
of religions, at Oxford, September 1908, on 
"The Significance of early Christian eschato- 
logy," 1 As it is given, the subject places us 
before the whole gospel-question, reminding 
us of two most important points which we 
never should lose sight of in studying the 
Gospels, two points indeed which make the 
problem so intricate and difficult : first that 
all depends on " the Gospel," i.e. on what 
Jesus Himself thought and said ; and 
secondly, that we have this only in the 
form of " the Gospels," i.e. in the different 
forms of tradition. Or, to use Matthew 
Arnold s words : " All our criticism of the 
four Evangelists who report Jesus has this 
for its governing idea : to make out what 

1 See above, p. 1-33. 


in their report of Jesus is Jesus, and what is 
the reporters." T 


Before we attack the problem itself, it 
will be desirable to say a few words with 
regard to its history. This, I think, is 
what a methodical study needs most. It 
makes the distinction between the reading 
of a scholar and a dilettante. The latter, 
when he comes across any question, will at 
once go into it or through it with his own 
brains only, and perhaps one or two books 
with which chance has provided him ; while 
on the other side the scholar will, before 
starting, find out what the question really 
is : what has to be said about it when it is 
taken in connection with all related prob 
lems, and what has been said already by 

1 God and the Bible, 1875, 167. 


those into whose labours he is entering. 
Having thus fixed as a well-trained ex 
plorer the latitude and the longitude of his 
own position, he may say confidently : 
There we are, and it is in this direction 
that we have to go on further. 

i. Now the question laid before us is, we 
may safely say, as so many other questions, 
at the same time quite old and quite recent. 
It is quite old, because there was no time 
in Church history when Christians were 
not occupied by the eschatological sayings 
in the Bible. It is quite recent, because 
it was only in the last century that the 
question became a problem in the sense 
of modern historical investigation. I think 
it is always very useful, especially for men 
of our own time, who are so proud of the 
results of modern research, to be reminded 
that those problems have been felt ever 
since the first age, that the same observa- 


tions have always been made, and that it 
Js only the method of dealing with them, 
the way by which we try to solve them, 
which changes. It has been observed from 
the very beginning that in the holy Scrip 
tures there is plenty of information about 
the last things, the end of the world and the 
glorious and happy state of a new age, 
about judgment and final salvation. It has 
been felt always with keen regret that in 
formation on these subjects is so scanty, so 
fragmentary, so very uncertain. Now the 
old method was to gather all utterances 
scattered through the whole book and to 
combine them so as to gain a systematic, 
self-consistent view. Biblical interpretation, 
as you know, from the first century down 
to the eighteenth was dominated by dog 
matic and practical presuppositions. People 
did not ask what Jesus said nor what the 
apostles meant, but what God had to tell 


them by the mouth of His prophets and 
apostles. In this way they dealt with the 
eschatological utterances as with a collec 
tion of divine oracles which were to be 
fulfilled in their present time, and thus 
were to be explained by the events which 
just then were going on. You may read 
Hippolytus commentary on the Book of 
Daniel, or his treatise on the Antichrist, 
or the fifteenth catechesis of Bishop Cyril 
of Jerusalem, or whatever patristic com 
mentary of non-Alexandrian type you like : 
you will find them always explaining New 
Testament prophecies as coming to fulfil 
ment in the interpreter s own time. What 
was said about " battles and wars, famines 
and pestilences, and earthquakes " was 
always easy to be identified with some 
events of the time. There were always 
some heretics able to be stamped as the 
Antichrist or his prophet. Wyclifites, 


Hussites, the Reformers recognised the 
Antichrist sitting in the temple of God 
in the Pope, whilst, on the other hand, 
the Jesuits easily found marks of the Anti 
christ in Luther or Calvin. Later on there 
was Napoleon as the beast from the abyss, 
or the railway as the dragon with his tail 
in our time it would be the motor-cars. At 
all events it was always something of the 
interpreter s own time. You had only to 
open your eyes and to look around you to 
see that the time was fulfilled and the end 
at hand. 

This form of interpretation, which we 
may call the historical adaptation of escha- 
tological prophecy, was the most widely 
spread. Former times had only two alter 
natives besides, viz., the spiritualising in 
terpretation of the Alexandrian school, 
which rather tended to abolish all eschato- 
logical ideas, and another one, which one 


may speak of as a really eschatological 
interpretation ; there were only a few 
exceptional men who, disregarding the 
usual view, maintained that the predictions 
of those marvellous supernatural events 
which are spoken of in the New Testament 
were to be taken in a very strict sense, 
so that it would be impossible to identify 
them with anything in the ordinary course 
of history. You have, they declared, to 
expect them as they are foretold, but we 
do not know at what time they will happen ; 
it may be in some few years, it may be in 
some hundred years, because, as has been 
said already in the second Epistle of St. 
Peter, "A thousand years are with the 
Lord as one day." 

It is very interesting to see on this point 
St. Augustine s correspondence with the 
Bishop of Salona, Hesychius. 1 To speak 

1 Epp. 197, 198, 199 in Migne, PL 33, 899-925. 


in general terms, this view, supported first 
by Irenaeus, found a stronger support only 
in more recent times. It was the so-called 
first Tubingen school not that critical one 
of F. Chr. Baur, but an earlier one, founded 
by Storr and represented in Baur s own 
time by J. T. Beck. Quite evangelical in 
type, these theologians put themselves 
against all spiritualising as much as Bishop 
Nepos or Methodius in the third century 
had contradicted the spiritualising inter 
pretation of Origen. We may remark that 
there had been always a realistic tradition 
in western interpretation. So Bengel and 
the Tubingen men laid much stress on the 
realistic meaning of New Testament escha- 
tology, but they neglected altogether that 
element of nearness in the prophecies which, 
taken strictly, would never allow a hundred 
or thousand years to be put between predic 
tion and fulfilment. 


2. With the eighteenth century inter 
pretation became historical, and thus only 
the question arose : what was the meaning 
of the men who uttered those predictions ? 
Certainly they did not think about events 
of the second or fourth, or even the nine 
teenth century. By saying "what will 
shortly come to pass " they did not mean 
to say "shortly" for Hippolytus or for 
Cyril, nor even for Swedenborg, but 
"shortly" for themselves. They must 
have been thinking of the last things as 
being at hand. But how did they con 
ceive them ? Was it really to be under 
stood verbally, exactly as the words used 
suggest, something almost supernatural, but 
at the same time visible, and to be touched, 
some divine miraculous change of the 
whole external order of things, or was 
it rather to be understood in a spiritual 
sense of something moral and inward ? 


There were at first only very few voices 
who supported the former view, which 
hardly could be brought into line with 
modern ideas. The majority of inter 
preters tried to escape from the difficulty 
by returning to the allegorising method of 
Origen. We quite understand that the 
average of modern theology, influenced as 
it was by Greek philosophy on one side, 
and by the predominant ethical ideas of 
the gospel on the other, could not do 
otherwise than spiritualise what was said 
by Christ and His apostles. It was in 
particular Schleiermacher s school, but also 
the critical school of Baur, which renewed 
the old spiritualising allegory. The whole 
school of Vermittelungs-theologen, as we 
usually call them, as well as the liberals of 
former times, acknowledged nothing but 
religious and moral ideas in the teaching 
of Jesus. The eschatological utterances, 


interpreted in this way, lost all their 
significance and became rather a duplicate 
of other sayings put into an awkward 
picturesque form : so it was argued we 
had better neglect them and keep to the 
clearer utterances of the Fourth Gospel. 
You may take the Biblical theology of the 
late Professor Willibald Beyschlag, of 
Halle, as the average expression of this 
standpoint in Germany. We find it sup 
ported even at the present day by, for 
instance, the late Professor Erich Haupt, 
of Halle, 1 and by Professor Adams Brown, 
of New York. 2 

But this spiritualising interpretation does 
too much violence to the actual words of 
the Gospel. It could not stand the attack 

1 Die eschatologischen Aussagen Jesu in den 
synoptischen Evangelien, 1895. 

2 Art. Parousia in Hastings DB, iii. 674-680, 


of a more realistic feeling in New Testa 
ment theology. Professor B. Weiss, of 
Berlin, simply by collecting all that is to 
be found in the Gospels, demonstrated 
clearly that there are many really eschato- 
logical ideas. I should mention here a 
very important English contribution, pub 
lished for the first time without the author s 
name in 1878 with the title, The Parousia, 
a critical inquiry into the New Testament 
Doctrine of our Lords Second Coming ; in 
a new edition of 1887 the author s name 
was added J. S. Russell. I do not know 
who he was, but at all events he was a 
very sincere Bible-reader. He made it 
quite clear that you cannot deal with the 
New Testament prophecies in the way 
of former interpreters, taking them as 
referring to a much later time, nor put 
them aside by reading something spiritual 
into them ; you have to take them as they 

Eschatology. 5 


are : foretelling some great catastrophe in 
the lifetime of Jesus own generation. 
When he comes to the end of his inves 
tigation, he puts the difficulty in the form 
of the following dilemma : either you have 
to say with some rationalists, Jesus and 
His apostles were wrong in their expecta 
tion ; or if you believe in the divine truth of 
the Bible, you must explain it by some event 
of the apostolic time, and you will easily find 
this in the destruction of Jerusalem. 

Now, as a matter of fact, this solution 
of the question is a very old one. It has 
its Biblical support in the writings of St. 
Luke, who, as we shall see in our next 
lecture, colours the eschatological utterances 
in such a way that they may be under 
stood of the destruction of Jerusalem. It 
has always had some support by later 
interpretation. 1 But it will not prove 

1 This historical orientation of Jesus predic- 


itself to be the final solution of the 

3. By modern research we have become 
acquainted with much apocalyptic literature, 
produced by later Judaism and highly 
appreciated in the early Christian Church, 
but forgotten for many centuries. We owe 
their discovery and collection to such 
scholars as Dillmann, Volkmar, Hilgenfeld, 
Schiirer, and to English scholars, in the 
first rank of whom I should mention Pro 
fessor R. H. Charles, besides Dr. Taylor, 
the late Master of St. John s, Cambridge, 

tions is the main feature in the most recent 
contribution to our subject by H. B. Sharman, 
The Teaching of Jesus about the future according 
to the Synoptic Gospels, Chicago, 1909. Cp. also 
Canon Grierson s pamphlet on Christ s Predictions 
of His Return in The Churchman, Dec., 1908, who 
maintains that Christ was conscious of His cosmic 
relations and foreknew His manifold comings in 
the epoch-making crisis of history. 


Rendel Harris and F. C. Conybeare. By 
reading this apocalyptic literature we be 
came aware of a very important feature, 
not noted before, viz., that the eschato- 
logical ideas, or, as I would rather say, 
the forms in which they were uttered, were 
by no means an original product of the 
Gospel, but are taken over from later 
Judaism. This means that we have to 
explain them by an eschatological tradition. 
There was a certain amount of eschato 
logical views spread in Judaism, being a 
part of what we call the " Weltanschauung," 
the general view of the world, prevailing 
at that time. And even Jesus and His 
disciples were participators of it ; their 
horizon was not wider in this respect than 
that of their countrymen. 

So a quite new form of interpretation 
appeared, the utterances of the Gospels 
being explained by Jewish eschatology. It 


was Job. Weiss, in his book, Die Predigt 
Jesu vom Reiche Gottes, 1892, second 
edition, 1900, who started this new form 
with a rare success. 1 The current notions 
of the gospel were all to be taken in the 
realistic sense of late Judaism ; the escha- 
tological prophecies of Jesus were to be 
understood from his Jewish conceptions, 
without any regard to their fulfilment. 
There is a strong tendency now among 
German interpreters to get rid of their 
own modern views with the aim of looking 
at the early Christian writings with early 
Christian eyes, a tendency which you would 
call perhaps Romanticism, but is, how 
ever, better styled historical sincerity com- 

1 The influence of J. Weiss may best be seen 
in the second edition of H. Wendt, Die Lehre Jesu, 
1901, where we have the most deliberate and 
circumspect judgment pronounced upon this 
eschatological view. 


bined with some antiquarian feeling. They 
enlarge intentionally the difference between 
early and recent Christian views as much 
as possible with the purpose of being 
historical as far as possible. 1 The best 
example of this one-sided archaism may 
be found in Kabisch s book on Pauline 
eschatology (1893). But there are many 
other contributions of the same style in 
Germany now. In this way we got used 
to these rather strange eschatological ideas, 
so that many of our recent German students 
will find themselves quite at home in them 
and will think this form of interpretation 
to be the usual, the only natural one. 

4. This is not all. Quite recently the 
problem of eschatology has gained yet 
another aspect. We have learned not only 

1 Cp. the present writer s paper : Der gegen- 
wdrtige Stand der Neutestamentlichen Exegese, 


to deal with the notions of Jesus and His 
disciples, and to explain them by contem 
porary views, but to ask for the practical 
significance of these views for those who 
held them. It is one of the great merits 
of Professor H. J. Holtzmann, formerly 
of Strassburg, 1 that he showed how to 
combine both these modes of dealing with 
the question, not only to collect and ex 
plain the single utterances, but to make 
out their importance as influencing Jesus 
whole life. There has been always some 
tendency in this direction in Strassburg 
theology. It was Tim. Colani 2 who first 

1 Besides his Lehrbuch der Neutestamentlichen 
Theologie, 1897, I would recommend in connexion 
with our question especially his masterful little 
treatise, Das Messianische Bewusstsein Jesu> 1907, 
which gives an accurate summary of the present 
stand, together with a complete record of recent 

2 Jesus Christ et les croyances messianiques de 
son temps > 1869. 


threw light upon the life of Jesus from 
the point of view of eschatology. From 
Strassburg started W. Baldensperger, now 
Professor at Giessen. 1 Professor F. Spitta, 
of Strassburg, has the great merit of 
always getting fresh lights upon the story 
of the Gospels out of those late Jewish 
apocryphas, going hand in hand with Joh. 
Weiss in their realistic interpretation. So 
you will easily understand how it came 
to pass that one of the most clever junior 
Strassburg men, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, 
also well known as an ingenious interpreter 
of Bach s music, happened to put forth 
his so-called theory of " consequent escha 
tology," i.e. that Jesus in all His acting 
is to be understood by nothing else than 
His eschatological view that He was 

1 Das Selbstbewusstsein Jesu im Lichte der 
messianischen Hoffnungen seiner Zeit> 1888; 
second edition 1892, third edition 1903 (part I.). 


designed by the Father to bring an end 
unto all things. Now I wonder how it 
happened that this theory, put forth in 
the form of a history, or rather an historical 
review, of the research on the life of Christ 
in the last hundred years " from Reimarus 
to Wrede," 1906, met with much more 
appreciation in England than in Germany, 
where even Schweitzer s friends were rather 
surprised by the one-sidedness of his views 
and declined to follow him. I need refer 
only to the criticism made upon the 
book by Professor P. Wernle (Basle), 1 by 
Professor Ad. Jiilicher (Marburg), 2 and 
last, not least, Professor H. J. Holtzmann 3 

1 In Theol. Literaturzeitung, 1906, N. 18, Sp. 
501 ff. 

2 In his lectures Neue Linien in der Kritik der 
evangelischen Uberlieferung, 1906, 1-13. 

3 In his reviews Der gegenwdrtige Stand der 
Leben-Jesu-Forschung, Deutsche Literaturzeitung, 
1906, N. 38 ff. 


while Professor W. Sanday s treatment 
of the book in his work, The Life of 
Christ in Recent Research, 1907, gave 
Dr. Schweitzer s book a splendid advertise 
ment in this country and, at the Oxford 
Congress for the history of religions in 
1908, Professor F. C. Burkitt l made 
himself champion of this theory of con 
sistent eschatology, which I myself would 
prefer to call radical eschatology. 

Now, without going into the question 
itself, which will be our task in the next 
lectures, I may be allowed to say only 
this : if eschatology is the key to all gospel- 

1 See his paper on The Parable of the Wicked 
Husbandmen, Transactions, II. 321-328, and cp. 
also his essay The Eschato logical Idea in the 
Gospel in Essays on some Biblical Questions of 
the day, by Members of the University of 
Cambridge, 1909, 193-213. Unnecessary to say, 
that Prof. Burkitt does not share all the conclusions 
of Dr. Schweitzer ! 


questions, then it becomes the problem of 
problems how Christianity could go on 
without eschatology through so many cen 
turies. If there was nothing in Jesus but 
eschatology, then He was a misguided 
enthusiast, and it would be almost im 
possible to explain how the name of an 
eccentric became the symbol for millions 
and millions of Christians who took from 
Him not only some vain hopes of the 
future, but a joyful experience of real 
salvation and an unexampled amount of 
moral energy. 

The exaggerated " Consistency," however, 
should not keep back others from following 
the method in a sounder way this was 
rightly maintained by Professor K. Lake 
at the Congress. 1 We have a very 

1 See also the remarkable book of H. Monnier, 
La mission historique de Jesus, 1906; and Abbe 


remarkable instance thereof in a recent 
American contribution by Professor Shailer 
Matthews : The Messianic Hope in the New 
Testament, 1905, a book whose very title, 
when compared with Dr. Kennedy s well- 
known book on St. Paul s Conception of 
the Last Things, 1904^ shows how much 
the view has changed : it is not the 
material of eschatological notions and 
doctrines, but it is their living force and 
influence upon the piety and the whole 
life of their believers, which is discussed 

At this point we may stop our historical 
inquiry into the different ways of dealing 
with our problem. 

Loisy s Les evangiles synoptiques, 1907-8, together 
with the fair criticism pronounced in C. Pie- 
penoning, Jesus historique, 1909. 

i Cp, also W. O. E. Oesterley, B.D., The doctrine 
of the Last Things, Jewish and Christian, 1908. 



The word eschatology has very different 
meanings. There was a time, some fifty 
years ago, and it lasts perhaps till now, 
when people, talking about eschatology, 
did not mean to say anything else than 
what happens after death: "It is appointed 
unto men once to die, and after this comet h 
judgment" (Heb. ix. 27). Now we 
know better that eschatology is the 
doctrine of the last things as understood 
by late Jewish teaching. And latterly 
we have come to use the word now to 
express a certain mode of feeling, not 
so much the different opinions on some 
points of eschatology as the whole fashion 
of mind produced by the belief in a near 
approach of the end. It is in this last 
sense that the word is taken here, viz., as 
signifying some idea which exercised a 


spiritual influence on the mind of Jesus 
and His disciples. 

To understand this we must bear in 
mind what the belief of Jewish people in 
regard to the last things was in former 
times, and what was the evolution which 
this belief underwent. 

i. The religion of Israel was, as you 
know, national in a far stricter sense than 
we can use this word of the religions of 
the Greeks or the Romans or other 
peoples. It meant not only that every 
member of the nation by his birth was 
to be an adherent of this religion, but 
that the very subject of the religion was 
the nation, not the individual. Israel as 
a nation was the chosen people of God ; 
it was in the nation s history that God 
revealed Himself to mankind, it was to 
the people that He had given all His 
promises, the individuals having no right 


for themselves, but only as members of 
the nation. It was their happiness to 
belong to this chosen people of God, and 
their hope and aim that their children 
or grandchildren perhaps would participate 
in the glorious fulfilment of God s promises 
to His people. To be sure, at a later 
time, let us say from the time of the 
Maccabean revival, a more individualistic 
conception began to spread among the 
Jewish people : it may have been sug 
gested by the individualistic doctrines of 
the Persian religion, as some recent 
scholars maintain, or it may have come 
out of this very Hellenistic influence, so 
strong at the time, against which the 
Maccabean movement was directed. Its 
deeper source, however, is to be looked 
for in the Maccabean movement itself : 
the Jews of this time, prepared as they 
were by Persian and Hellenistic concep- 


tions, could not think, of God as leaving 
without any personal reward those who 
gave up even their life for His sake. 
It appeared to them impossible, incom 
patible with God s righteousness, that the 
martyrs should die without any compen 
sation. It was as a benefit on behalf 
of the martyrs that Jewish religion asked 
at first for a personal continuation of life 
after death. But note : it is not a 
continuation in our sense of the word. 
Death comes in and separates body and 
soul. Neither of them is living when 
separated from the other. They are both 
in an estate of unconscious existence which 
you may rightly compare to sleep. The 
body is in the tomb, the soul in the 
so-called Sheol, which is not to be 
identified with Hell, but rather with the 
Hades of the Greeks, where the souls 
live their life as shades. This existence 


if we may call it existence, being quite 
unconscious lasts until that great day 
when God fulfils His promises to the 
nation. Then, but only then, those who 
are to participate in this glorious and 
happy time of salvation will be awakened, 
both body and soul will come out of 
their different receptacles, and will be 
united, and so the man will be able to 
enjoy a new life in company with all those 
who are alive then. So, you see, the old 
national conception of the last things has 
not given place to another one of more 
Hellenistic and individualistic type ; it is 
still the old Jewish notion of the nation 
as the subject, only enlarged by the idea 
of a bodily resurrection of some earlier 
members of the people. 

There is a splendid sermon of the 
late Principal John Caird, of Glasgow, 
in his University sermons, upon Hebrews 

Eschatology. 6 


xi. 39, 40 : " And these all having 
obtained a good report through faith, 
received not the promise, God having 
provided some better thing for us that 
they without us should not be made 
perfect." Dealing with the idea of Com 
parative resurrection " the Principal says 
some most beautiful and stimulating things 
of great practical value for the religious 
life. But he treats the question as a 
matter of speculation, and not having 
first gone through these late Jewish 
conceptions, he misses just the one im 
portant point to be noticed from the 
standpoint of the modern historical method, 
viz., that we have in those words the 
Christian adaptation of that Jewish notion : 
salvation will come for all those who 
deserve it, but only when it comes for 
the nation. 

This view is quite different from what 


we are accustomed to, and I would like 
the reader clearly to understand the great 
importance of this difference. The Jewish 
conception, by keeping to the national 
idea, has always an historical orientation : 
it is based upon that notion of two ages, 
one which is now, and another to come ; 
the present bad, sinful, full of oppression, 
the future good, holy, happy. On the 
other hand, Greek, and later Christian 
thought, more individualising in its nature, 
goes rather in the line of a local than of 
a temporal contrast : happiness is not here, 
but you can find it elsewhere. Or, to 
make this a little more clear, one might 
say that, in the case of the Jews, possi 
bility of salvation, being an expectation 
and not yet a reality, caused the stress to 
be laid upon the time when, while in the 
case of the Greeks, possibility of salvation 
being conceived as a present fact, caused 


the stress to be laid upon the place 
You know the islands of the Hesperides 
far in the West, where the happy heroes 
enjoyed a god-like, everlasting life ; you 
know the two parts in the Hades, one 
dark and harmful, a real hell for the 
sinners, the other a bright and happy 
abode for pious and righteous men. In 
the latest stage of Greek religion and 
philosophy it is rather the contrast of 
above and below, of heaven and earth. 
And you see that this is what most 
Christian people think of as the original 
Christian conception : that after their life 
on this sorrowful earth has come to an 
end, they immediately will go to another 
life, a life of glory and happiness in 

1 Or better still, as my friend Professor Lake 
put it in a conversation, we had, after attending 
this lecture, " the Jew is separated from the 
realm of bliss by time, the Greek by space." 


heaven. This is what they call salvation. 
Now without entering into the dogmatic 
question of what will happen to us after 
death, we may safely say that this is not 
the original Christian conception of salva 
tion, which was almost in the line of 
Jewish thought, not perhaps so much 
national, but collective, historical : a time 
was to be expected when all who believed 
and placed their hope in God as the 
Saviour of His faithful people should see 
His glorious salvation, not only the quick, 
but also those who had died before, 
because they would rise again at that 
very moment. 

2. This salvation might be conceived 
in many different ways : the mass of 
Jewish people took it in a political sense, 
either purely national : viz., that the yoke 
of heathen tyranny should be broken off, 
and Israel, free from all oppression, should 


enjoy his own land, his Holy City with 
the temple of God, and live a happy life 
under his God s gracious guidance, God s 
royalty being identified with the dominion 
of Israel over all other nations. Or else 
the conception was rather mixed up with 
party-morals : the salvation would come 
for that very part of Israel which remained 
faithful to the Lord their God, which, 
humble and poor, had to stand the oppres 
sion by that proud, rich company of un 
righteous and godless men, who ruled, by 
their own will, over God s people, so that 
the salvation was to be seen in a true 
restoration of the theocracy against the 
tyranny of the Hasmonean or Sadducean 
priests or princes like Herod and his sons. 
Besides these there was a third form of 
conception, which, compared with the two 
political ones already mentioned, may be 
called mythological, as it deals not so 


much with human powers in opposition to 
God s kingdom, but with the spiritual 
powers of the devil and his demons, 
always in rebellion against God, and trying 
to make men offend against God s holy 
will and law with the aim of bringing 
them under their own pitiless dominion. 

There are only a few traces of this last 
conception in pre-Christian Jewish escha- 
tology, especially in the book of Enoch, 
where the fallen angels, the so-called 
Egregores (watchmen), play a great part. 

Now we may say that in whatever way 
salvation was conceived, the very aim of 
Jewish religion was to get this salvation, 
not so much to ensure a share in it 
(because most Jews supposed this to be 
their natural right), but to get God to 
bring it. Because it was not to be 
brought by means of human operation. It 
was supposed to be a quite superhuman, 


supernatural acting by God Himself, send 
ing His salvation to His people. Only 
that this faithful people may influence His 
motion by pressing on Him in prayer, 
fasting and doing His ordinances in the 
law. As to how God would do it, there 
was no certainty ; either He would come 
by Himself, breaking open the heaven 
and descending, or He would send His 
Messiah, the blessed one, His beloved, 
His Son, the Son of man, the Son of 
David. This coming would be preceded 
by various signs. The heathen power 
would rise to an almost unheard of level 
of tyranny, cruelty and abomination, the 
iniquity of the godless and unrighteous 
would join with them, so that the apostasy 
from the one God, the living and true 
one, and His worship to the idols and all 
the sins of idolatry would become general ; 
there would be signs in the heaven and 


on earth, the sun giving no more light, 
the moon being changed into blood, the 
stars falling from heaven, earthquakes, 
famines, pestilences, frightening mankind 
everywhere. Then at the very culmina 
tion of horrors the Messiah would appear 
in a miraculous way, and by His wonderful 
power He would destroy all His enemies, 
and by the aid of His angels collect His 
chosen people from all parts of the world, 
and reign over them in justice and peace, 
filled as He was with God s Holy Spirit, 
the Spirit of righteousness and truth. 

3. It is not necessary to go further into 
detail now, because all this is very well 
known, especially through the works of 
Professor Charles. We only repeat, that 
there was no self-consistent doctrine of 
eschatology among the Jews of Jesus time, 
and that the influence of eschatology was 
rather restricted to some circles, the life 


of the people being occupied by the busi 
ness of the present time and ruled by the 
heavy yoke of Pharisaic ordinances. It 
was really something new to the people 
when John the Baptist started his preach 
ing in the wilderness of Judaea: "Repent 
ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 
And whatever may have been the 
position taken by Jesus in regard to 
eschatology, there can be no doubt that 
eschatology was much more important in 
early Christianity than in late Judaism. 
It was so, because the messianic hope had 
found in Jesus its proper object : since 
Jesus had appeared, people were convinced 
that His glorious advent (the Parousia) 
was to be expected at the earliest term. 
This is the main distinction between early 
Christian and late Jewish eschatology : all 
has received a stricter form, many possi 
bilities being excluded by the very fact 


that it was Jesus, with all His personal 
characteristics, who was to be expected ; all 
has been brought nearer, the fact that the 
Messiah was known, that it was Jesus, and 
that Jesus had disappeared only for a short 
time, giving urgency to all expectations. 
There was even an increasing tendency 
towards eschatological occupation in the 
second half of the first century, the very 
time when our Gospels were written. So 
the problem comes before us, whether the 
eschatology of the Gospels belongs to the 
original stock of Jesus-tradition, or is due 
to this later eschatological inclination of 
Christianity, which, borrowing from Judaism, 
transformed the gospel into a rather escha 
tological teaching. It is lastly the ques 
tion, how far Jesus can be brought under 
the law of historical continuity, He Himself 
being dependent backwards on late Judaism 
and influencing forwards early Christianity 


and how far He must be regarded as 
an exceptional being outside the operation 
of this law, unrooted in His nation, and 
misunderstood by His followers. 

Various Tendencies in the Transmission 
of the Gospel. The Eschatological 
Stock of Jesus-Tradition 



TTAVING defined the problem as it 
-*" -^ stands to-day in our first lecture, 
we now go on to try to settle first what 
is the Gospel-tradition about eschatology, 
and what measure of certainty we have 
to make out our Lord s own words and 


There is not only some vague possibility 
of alterations brought into the Gospel in 



the course of its transmission, but there is 
plenty of evidence that sayings of Jesus 
were coloured afterwards, and this at first 
\A\ by eschatological additions and 
changes. We may confine our investi 
gation to three instances : 

i. The saying against those who say 
" Lord, Lord" is given by Matthew vii. 21 
and Luke vi. 46, both passages belonging 
to the sermon on the mount. In Matthew 
vii. 22, 23 herewith is combined another 
saying, which is found in Luke xiii. 25-27 
in quite a different context. We are not 
concerned here with this second saying we 
may remark by the way that Luke has 
evidently the original form, not only in the 
shape of the parable, but also in the 
features claimed by the unfortunate people 
outdoors, which are with Luke rather 
ordinary experiences of Jesus lifetime 
while Matthew puts in extraordinary 


experiences of the apostolic age ; at 
all events, this second word is eschato- 
logical in its substance : it deals with the 
last judgment. Not so the first saying ; 
as it runs in Luke, "And why call ye me, 
Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I 
say ? " there is nothing in it, which tends 
towards eschatology. Now there can be 
hardly any doubt that Luke has the 
original form of this saying, and that the 
Matthsean form "Not every one that says 
unto me Lord, Lord, SHALL ENTER INTO THE 
KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, but he that doeth the 
will of my Father which is in heaven" 
with its unmistakable eschatological colour 
ing, strengthened by the introduction of 
" in that day " in the next sentence, is 
due to the combination with that other 
saying. It is a well-known feature in the 
composition of our First Gospel and we 
shall see other instances of the same 

Eschatology. 7 


immediately that words are brought into 
a closer connexion by conforming them 
one to the other. 

The priority of the non-eschatological 
form of this saying is supported (i) by 
the parable which follows immediately in 
Luke and only a few verses later on in 
Matthew as well in quite the same form, 
so that we may trace it back to Q, the 
parable, I mean, of the house built on the 
rock or upon the sand, a parable which is 
not likely to be taken in an eschatological 
sense ; and (2) by the comparison of another 
saying which has much affinity to it, Jesus 
saying about His relations : For whosoever 
shall do the will of God, the same is my 
brother, and sister, and mother" (Mark iii. 
35; cp. Matt. xii. 50, Luke viii. 21). It 
is not said : I will, at the day of judgment, 
declare him to be my brother, &c., but "he 
is" So it is a purely moral statement 


without the peculiar taste of eschatology. 
And this is all the more remarkable as it 
is found in the Marcan tradition. 

2. The next instance of this kind of 
transformation I find in the parables of the 
tares and of the net, forming originally 
a couple of parables as so many others, 
now separated in Matthew xiii. 24-30 
(with an additional interpretation in v. 36- 
43) and xiii. 47-50. The evangelist sees 
in both parables a description of the last 
judgment, when "the Son of Man shall send 
forth his angels and they shall gather out 
of his kingdom all things that cause 
stumbling, and them that do iniquity, and 
shall cast them into the furnace of fire, 
there shall be the weeping and gnashing 
of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine 
forth as the sun in the kingdom of their 
Father" " The harvest is the end of the 
world" xiii. 39, this is the main point of 


Matthew s interpretation, from which all 
the parable is to be explained. But take 
the parables by themselves, and you will 
see that there is no necessity for this in 
terpretation. Jesus is not describing a 
single act but something which occurs to 
men at any time. As sowing and harvest 
are repeated annually and the gathering 
and sifting of fishes is the fisherman s daily 
work, so it is some rule for daily life which 
Jesus put into the disciples mind by telling 
them these parables. Many interpreters 
since the time of Tertullian have found 
here some rule of ecclesiastical conduct : 
the Church as a corpus mixtum has to 
contain sinners as well as saints until the 
day of God s judgment. But this is 
neither the meaning of the evangelist, 
who in his allegorical interpretation makes 
the field signify the world, not the Church, 
and neglects the servants of the house- 


holder altogether, the problem Matthew 
is interested in being not the composition 
of the Christian Church and the conduct 
of its leaders on account of bad members, 
but the situation of Christianity in the 
midst of the world of unbelievers, a close 
parallel to John xvii. n, 14: "These are 
in the world" "not of the world" Nor 
is it the original meaning of the parable, 
this giving merely the general moral rule : 
" Do not put in your hands before things are 
ready ; everything will, at the proper time, 
be revealed for what it is ; leave it to God s 
care the same rule as we have it in the 
famous counsel of Gamaliel, Acts v. 35 ff. 
3. The main instance of this intrusion 
of eschatology into the Gospel-tradition 
is the great eschatological sermon found 
in Mark xiii., Matthew xxiv. and Luke xxi. 
It was in the year 1864 that Colani and 
Weizsacker, one independent of the other, 


came to the conclusion that this is not the 
report of an original sermon of Jesus, but 
a composite work, mixing original sayings 
of Christ with parts of a little apocalypse, 
as to the origin of which there was and 
is still some difference of opinion, some 
scholars maintaining with Weizsacker, that 
it was a Jewish document, while the 
majority agrees in acknowledging the 
Christian character and is inclined to 
identify this little apocalyptic fly-leaf with 
the revelation spoken of by Eusebius, 
H.E. III. v. 3, as having caused the 
Christians to move from the Holy City 
before its fall. As reconstructions of this 
little apocalypse are easily accessible, e.g., 
in Professor Charles book on Eschatology, 
I may confine myself to a few remarks : 
(i) As we have only Mark (Matthew 
borrowing from Mark l and Luke colour- 

1 I do not think that two or three instances, 


ing Mark s narrative), it is impossible to 
reconstruct the actual words of Mark s 
source ; it contained probably verses 7, 8, 
14-20, 24-27 ; but it is uncertain if some 
words, such as verses 15 and 18, are 
perhaps additions by Mark, and, on the 
other hand, if we have to add verses 21-23 
and perhaps also verse 30. (2) We find 
described only a few remarkable features : 
in the first part, the beginnings of horrors, 
a general motion and revolution among 
the peoples and all kinds of frightful 
events ; in the second part, the cul 
mination of horrors, something mysterious, 
Mark using the same words as Daniel, 
but contrary to the Greek gender as a 
masculine, showing thereby that he thinks 
of an individual, some Antichrist. With 

given by B. Weiss and others, are enough to 
prove that Matthew had independent knowledge 
of that apocalypse. 


the notion of supreme horror are com 
bined two different ideas of getting out 
of them : a local one flying into the 
mountains, and this is the pet point of the 
little apocalypse, marked by calling the 
attention of the reader (you see it is not 
a sermon of Jesus) ; and on the other hand 
a temporal one shortening of the time by 
the powerful interfering of the Lord (you 
see again, it is not Jesus who is speaking 
here) ; and in the third part, through a 
terrible motion of all the elements, the 
glorious advent of the Messiah. There is 
in all this, not even in the last part, nothing 
of peculiar Christian notions which we 
ought to trace back to Jesus Himself. 
They are common apocalyptic ideas. And 
yet, all is so short, so brief in this little 
apocalypse, nothing unnecessary, only main 
points. This is, I believe, the proof-mark 
of early Christian in comparison with late 


Jewish literature, according to Wellhausen s 
well-known remark regarding the Gospel 
and rabbinic literature : that all that is in 
the Gospel is to be found there too, yes, 
all, and much more. It is especially the 
lack of all national and political elements in 
this much-condensed little apocalypse which 
makes it quite clear as far as I may be 
able to pronounce judgment that the con 
ception is an early Christian one, using the 
materials of late Jewish eschatology in its 
own way. (3) The very fact that Mark 
could give this little apocalypse as a 
sermon of Jesus, taken together with this 
other fact, that several words of the 
apocalypse have parallels in well-attested 
sayings of Jesus * and that the sayings 

1 Cp. Mark xiii. 15, 16 with Luke xvii. 31 ; 
Mark xiii. 21-23 with Luke xvii. 23 ; Matt. xxiv. 
26 ; especially Mark xiii. 26 with viii. 38 and 
xiv. 62. 


combined with the apocalypse in Mark xiii. 
bear nearly the same stamp, 1 proves that 
the main ideas of this little fly-leaf are not 
far removed from Jesus own opinions. 
But the fact remains, that it is an eschato- 
logical addition to the original Jesus- 
tradition. 2 

These three instances of alteration by 
intrusion of eschatology could easily be 
multiplied. But if one were to conclude 
that all eschatological material found actu 
ally in the Gospel was but later addition 

1 So Mark xiii. 6 is nearly identical with xiii. 
21 f. = Luke xvii. 23. 

2 Mark, taking this little apocalypse from 
about 68 A.D. into his gospel, has his analogon 
in the author of Q, putting into Jesus mouth 
a quotation from an apocryphal book of Wisdom 
dating probably not earlier than 69 A.D. [the 
Zacharias son of Barachia being identical with 
the one mentioned by Josephus, B. J. IV. v. 4 
(335)]> see Luke xi. 49-51, Matt, xxiii. 34-36. 


or transformation, one would be wide of 
the mark, False generalisation is the 
worst of all faults in method. Plenty of 
eschatological sayings remain, which must 
come from original tradition. 

Before starting, however, our proper 
investigation, let us turn to another form 
of alteration [.Z?], eschatological utterances 
of Jesus being transfigured into historical 
predictionsespecially by Luke. 

i. There is, e.g., Christ s saying in 
regard to Jerusalem, taken evidently from 
Q, both in Matthew xxiii. 37-39 and 
Luke xiii. 34-35. The closing words : 
"And I say unto you, Ye shall not see 
me, until ye shall say, Blessed is he that 
cometh in the name of the Lord," are 
capable of a twofold interpretation, either 
eschatological or as they recur at Jesus 
entrance into Jerusalem historical. Now 
Luke placing the saying long before this 


entrance, understood probably, and liked 
his readers to understand, in the latter 
sense : an historical prediction of the 
Messianic entrance : whereas Matthew, 
recording the word only after this 
entrance, took it evidently in an escha- 
tological sense. And he was right in his 
understanding, as far as I can see. 

2. A similar instance of transformation is 
given in Luke s reproduction of Mark xiii., 
the already mentioned synoptic apocalypse: 
" The abomination of desolation" spoken of 
by Mark and Matthew as standing where 
HE ought not (or in the holy place, Matthew) 
is paraphrased by Luke xxi. 20 in the 
following way : But when ye see Jerusalem 
compassed with armies, then know that her 
DESOLATION is at hand" It is the same 
word /or//iW(7tc, used here instead of some 
more usual expressions for destruction, as 

ri, KaOaiptatg, KarajSoArj, avarpOTrr), which 


betrays Luke borrowing from the Danielle 
formula in Mark and taking the mysterious 
expression in the sense of some prophetic 
utterances. 1 In this way he substitutes 
definite historical prediction for an obscure 
eschatological prophecy. 2 

is found in LXX = n ?"p in Jer. vii. 34, 
xxii. 5, xxxii. 18, li. 6, 22, but connected with 
yri, in connexion with Jerusalem in Daniel ix. 2. 
Josephus uses aXwo-tc B.J. I. i. 4 (10); VI. x. i 
(441), sometimes Karao-Ka^rv, ibid. VI. x. I (440). 
For other equivalents see Corpus glossariorum 
latinorum ed. Loewe et Goetz, vi. 333, s.v. 

2 Another view has been proposed recently by 
my friend, Professor F. Spitta, in a suggestive 
study, " Die grosse eschatologische Rede Jesu " 
in Theol. Stud. u. Krit., 1909, 348-401 ; retract 
ing his own former hypothesis of a Jewish 
apocalypse inserted in Matt xxiv., Spitta main 
tains that Luke gives the original form of Jesus 
answer to His disciples, the genuine prediction 
of the destruction of the temple being changed 


If this be granted we have to reckon 
with the possibility that the number of 
eschatological sayings found in the earliest 
tradition has undergone diminution as 
well as enrichment by later alterations. 


We now proceed to ask how much 
there is of assured eschatological matter 
in the sayings of our Lord. 

i. To begin with the main object of 
His preaching ; the kingdom of God is 
in its origin undoubtedly an entirely 
eschatological notion. It is not God s 
government over the world, not His 
ruling His people, as usually in the 
Psalter, when there is said, " God rules," 
" God is king," but it is a peculiar 

in Caligula s time into the apocalyptic notion 
known from Daniel. 


estate of things when God is reigning 
without any opposition, neither by man, 
nor by the evil spirits. Now as John 
the Baptist (Matt. iii. 2) preaches that 
this kingdom of God is at hand, 1 so 
the preaching of Jesus begins with the 
very same announcement : " the time is 
fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at 
hand" (Mark i. 15 ; cp. Matt iv. 17). 
We have perhaps a still better instance 
of this in the Lord s prayer : if Jesus 
makes His disciples pray : " Thy kingdom 
come" then it is not to be taken as 
already come but as to be hoped and 

1 We may perhaps be not allowed to take 
these words as a genuine rendering of John s 
message, because in Mark i. 4, 8 and Luke iii. 
3, 7 ff. as well as in Matt. iii. 7 ff. he is 
represented rather as announcing an almost 
severe judgment. But this has to be taken 
only as a beginning or rather the means of 
making way for the kingdom of God. 


prayed for. The next petition, given 
only by Matthew, " Thy will be done, 
as in heaven^ so on earth" makes it 
clear what the kingdom of God was 
understood to be : a moral estate of 
mankind wherein God s will was done 
without exception, without any opposition 
by personal sin or by contrary forces in 
society. The kingdom of God, as it 
would be conceived by those people who 
heard Jesus preaching, was to be some 
thing most desirable, an estate of com 
plete happiness, something that was 
worthy the hardest efforts and even the 
greatest loss ; you ought to give every 
thing for it, even your own life. But at 
the same time people would understand 
that it was something to be looked for 
which you cannot make by your own 
efforts, but you have to wait for it until 
God brings it about. 


2. Now the main question is for us 
as it was for the men of that time : 
What was the relation of Jesus to this 
kingdom of God ? Except two or three 
passages which we are to consider later 
on, He never says that He is bringing 
it into being, but He speaks of Himself 
as of the Son of Man, a title which, as 
we know already, had a Messianic 
content ; He never says directly that He 
is the Messiah ; He even declines to be 
called the Son of David. And yet His 
whole appearance, the way He manifests 
Himself and the authoritative tone which 
He adopts show that He is the very 
kind of man to proclaim Himself the 
Messiah. And at last, when He is set 
before the High Court of the people and 
asked in the most solemn way by the 
High Priest upon His claim: "Art thou 
the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" then 

Eschatology. 8 


He said: "/ am, and ye shall see the Son 
of Man sitting at the right hand of power, 
and coming with the clouds of heaven 
(Mark xiv. 61, 62). This is an unmis 
takable expression of His claim for 
Messiahship. And even if we would 
prefer the form in which Matthew xxvi. 
64 puts the words : " Thou hast said ; 
nevertheless I say unto you, henceforth 
ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at 
the right hand of power, and coming on 
the clouds of heaven," we ought to say 
that it is a form of restrained assertion 
which we may paraphrase : Yes, but it 
is not I who have used the actual word, 
but thou hast used it. 

Now it seems to me to be impossible 
to maintain, as some scholars do, that 
Jesus denies his Messiahship altogether 
(so Dalman, Merx), or that He makes 
a distinction between Himself and the 


Messiah to be expected according to the 
words of Psalm ex. i and Daniel vii. 13. 
With more probability it has been said 
that He claims Messiahship not as His 
present state, but only for a future time. 
He is not the Messiah, but He will 
be the Messiah. This notion of a 
Messiah to come, first put forth, so far 
as I know, by Joh. Weiss, has met with 
an almost unusual degree of assent. It 
has been accepted by H. Holtzmann, 
A. Harnack, 1 H. Monnier, 2 A. Loisy, 
and many others. Indeed, there are 
some difficulties in the life of Jesus 
which would find the easiest explana 
tion by assuming that Jesus, persuaded 
as He was that He was the Son of 

1 Spruche und Reden Jesu (= Beitrage II.), 
1907, 169. 

2 La mission historique de Jesus y 1906, 64. 


God, the chosen one to bring salva 
tion, nevertheless, conceived Himself not 
to be the Messiah, but only to be 
destined to be the Messiah in a later 
time : Messias destinatus, Messias futurus. 
His appearance, resembling rather a rabbi 
or at most a prophet, was so far from 
the popular notion of the Messiah, who 
should be a glorious and mighty king, 
destroying all his enemies by means of 
his power, that we easily could imagine 
Him taking His present appearance only 
as a preparatory one, His office being 
to prepare the people for His coming in 
glory as the Messiah. So He would 
have been His own forerunner, His own 
John the Baptist. But this was not His 
view, neither was it the opinion of His 
judges. The question laid before Him by 
the High Priest was, " Art thou the 
Christ the Son of the Blessed?" And 


Jesus answered, "/ am." He did not 
tell them : " Not yet, but if you will bring 
Me to death, then I shall be it." He 
simply replied, " / am, and you will see 
The condemnation by the High Council 
as well as the accusation brought before 
the Roman Governor gives, I think, suffi 
cient evidence that His claim on Messiah- 
ship was understood not as that of a 
Messiah destinatus, but as that of a 
present Messiah. It is just the contrast 

ls "** <b 

between this claim and the very appear 
ance of this humble prisoner brought 
before him which puzzles Pilate so that 
he would have refused to execute the 
sentence, except for fear of the Jews, 
who frightened him by the Emperor s 

wrath. The title on the Cross is by 

. 1r . . , . c. 

itself a convincing argument against this 

modern theory of a Messiahship of the 


3. It is quite certain, I should think, 
that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. 
But it is equally certain that He speaks 
of His coming again in glory and power. 
If one would reject the testimony of 
Mark xiv. 62 pleading that there was 
none of the disciples present at the trial, 
one must accept the combined testimony 
of other utterances. When speaking about 
the necessity of confession he says : " For 
whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of 
my words in this adulterous and sinful 
generation^ the Son of Man also shall be 
ashamed of him, when he cometh in the 
glory of his Father with the holy angels " 
(Mark viii. 38 ; cp. Matt. xvi. 27 ; Luke 
ix. 26). When asked by James and John 
to give them the places of honour on His 
right and on His left in His glory, as 
Mark x. 37, or in His kingdom, as 
Matthew xx. 21 puts the question, He 


does not reject this notion, but only 
makes a very hard condition, and refers 
the right of bestowing those places to 
the Father (Mark x. 35-40 ; Matt. xx. 
20-23). * 

The warnings against false Messiahs 
(cp. Mark xiii. 6, 21, and Luke xvii. 23, 
24, Matt. xxiv. 23-28) presuppose the idea 
of His own coming again. 

There are many parables, dealing with 
the unexpected returning of the Lord, or 
the sudden coming of some one : Mark xiii. 
33-37 gives only short extracts, which, 
however, show he knew a much larger 
tradition, which one may try to reconstruct 

1 This has a remarkable parallel in the 
promise given to the twelve that they shall 
take part in the messianic judgment sitting on 
twelve thrones (Matt. xix. 28 ; Luke xxii. 
29, 30 [Q?]). 


by the help of the First and Third 

So far we have gathered mainly from 
the Marcan tradition. Mark, it has been 
said, is the strongest supporter of eschato- 
logical views ; and, in fact, there are some 
passages where the other main sources 
have a less eschatological colouring : not 
only Luke, who reproduces Jesus answer 
to the High Priest without the closing 
sentence (coming, &c.), allowing, thereby, 
for a more spiritual interpretation of the 
rest (sitting at the right hand}, and so 
weakening the eschatological impression, 
but also O, of equal value with Mark in 
regard to the certainty of tradition; so 
instead of the words quoted above from 
Mark viii. 38, " The Son of Man also shall 
be ashamed of him, when he comet h in the 
glory of his Father with the holy angels" 
we read in Q (Luke xii. 9 and Matt. x. 


33) "He that denieth me in the presence 
of men shall be denied in the presence of 
the angels of God" (or according to 
Matthew, "before my Father which is in 
heaven "), a phrase which, intended to be 
understood in an eschatological sense, is 
capable, however, of a more spiritual 
interpretation not showing that peculiar 
note of time characteristic of Jewish 

But we must not generalise this fact 
and draw the conclusion that eschatology 
supported only or mostly by Mark is his 
own addition, and therefore not to be 
taken as a genuine part of Jesus teach 
ing. Neither Q nor the other non-Marcan 
sources of our Gospel-tradition are bare 
of eschatology ; on the contrary, they 
support it strongly. 

We have mentioned already the promise 
made to the disciples (Matt. xix. 28 ; 


Luke xxii. 29-30) ; Jesus woe over Jeru 
salem (Matt, xxiii. 39 ; Luke xiii. 35), with 
its final sentences : " Ye shall not see me 
henceforth, till ye shall say : Blessed is 
He that cometh in the name of the 

The admonition for readiness gains 
strength from the argument: "For in 
an hour that ye think not the Son of 
Man cometh " (Matt. xxiv. 44 ; cp. Luke 
xii. 40). 

The coming of the Son of Man is said 
to be like a lightning (Matt. xxiv. 27 ; 
cp. Luke xvii. 24). 

The want of vigilance and the careless 
ness of mankind before the coming of the 
Son of Man is compared with the state of 
mind in the days of Noah (Matt. xxiv. 37 ; 
cp. Luke xvii. 26). 

All this shows that the notion of the 
coming of the Son of Man as something 


still to be expected is a commonplace in 
Gospel-tradition and has to be traced back 
to Jesus Himself. 

4. There is another remark to be made 
in connexion with these utterances. It is 
hardly said anywhere how the coming of 
the Son of Man will be, except that it 
will be suddenly, surprising. Sometimes 
we find used the words of Daniel : " on " 
or "with the clouds of heaven! Sometimes 
angels are spoken of as following Him. 
His glory is mentioned. If the single 
phrase is capable of a spiritualising inter 
pretation, the impression made by the 
whole set of passages will be that it is 
some miraculous, supernatural, but at the 
same time external and visible event in 
history, or better still, some catastrophe 
at the very end of history ; in one word, 
some really eschatological fact, which is 


It is important to settle this before we 
go on, because the spiritualising tendency 
of modern theology has tried to escape 
from this conclusion by dealing with every 
passage by itself. So making one after 
the other say what they were wanted to 
say, the interpreter was able to declare, 
that there is no eschatology at all. 

Take, e.g., Jesus answer before the 
High Priest : " Ye shall see the Son of 
Man sitting at the right hand of power, 
and coming with the clouds of heaven." 
Professor Haupt says : How can they see 
Him sitting at the right hand of power? 
this can be meant only in a spiritual way : 
they shall see His influence in the wonder 
ful propagation of His gospel ; and so the 
next sentence, and coming, &c., is but 
another illustration of the same idea : they 
will see His influence in the judgment 
passed upon their own people for having 


rejected Him. This seems quite probable 
But taken together with all the other 
utterances we have just considered, this 
explanation will hardly satisfy any one. If 
these words are spoken by Jesus and I 
see no reason for denying this they must 
be taken as they stand, as an expression 
for some really eschatological event. 

5. A further point of no less importance 
is the following : Jesus says : " Ye_ shall 
see" In connexion with a spiritual inter 
pretation this may well be explained as 
comprehending not so much the judges 
themselves as their children and grand 
children and all other generations to 
follow. Taken together with our realistic 
interpretation it can only mean : you by 
yourselves, not men of a later time. The 
present generation is the latest. It is 
destined to live to see the end of all 


This interpretation is confirmed by a 
set of sayings dealing with the notion 
of the present generation : We read in 
Mark xiii. 30, and in the parallel passages 
Matthew xxiv. 34, Luke xxi. 32, " Verily 
I say unto you: This generation shall not 
pass away, until all these things be accom 
plished." As this saying is found in the 
eschatological chapter some writers main 
tain that it is a part of that fly-leaf which 
we found to be a later Christian apoca 
lypse. This is possible, but I think it is 
equally possible and even more probable 
that it belongs to the genuine stock of 
sayings of Jesus, which were mixed up 
with that little apocalypse. At any rate, 
it is quite in the same line with those 
other words of Jesus, " Ye shall see" &c. 

It seems to be contradicted, however, 
by another saying. When asked by the 
Pharisees to give a sign from heaven, 


Jesus sighed deeply in His spirit and 
said, " Why doth this generation seek a 
sign ? Verily, I say unto you : There 
shall no sign be given unto this genera 
tion So Mark viii. 12. We are accus 
tomed to another form of this answer, 
adding " but the sign of Jonah." So we 
read in Matthew xvi. 4, the parallel 
passage to Mark viii. 12, as well as in 
Matthew xii. 39 and Luke xi. 29, two 
parallel passages taken probably from Q. 
Now as Matthew usually conforms the 
sayings he borrows from different sources, 
the testimony of Matthew xvi. 4 is of no 
value. We have in reality only Mark 
against Q, Q giving the additional words, 
Mark omitting them. Which form is 
genuine ? Against the vast majority of 
writers I think Wellhausen is right here 
in maintaining the superiority of the 
Marcan tradition. Nobody until this day 


has succeeded in giving a fair explanation 
of what the sign of Jonah might mean. 
It is, I dare say, commonly acknow 
ledged to-day that the interpretation 
given already by Matthew xii. 40 as 
pointing to the three days and three 
nights which Jonah spent in the whale s 
belly and Jesus likewise in the tomb or 
in Hell, is wrong. The preaching of 
Jonah, which caused the people of Nineveh 
to repent, can hardly be called a sign. 
Now, as our saying is combined in Q 
with another saying dealing with the re 
pentance of the people of Nineveh at 
the preaching of Jonah, it seems to me 
highly probable that this other saying 
gave rise to the addition in the former 
saying, and that therefore Mark has pre 
served its original form. Jesus does not 
promise any sign, but He denies to the 
present generation the sign which they 


ask for, viz., the Messianic sign, which is, 
of course, to be distinguished from His 
powerful acts of mercy, these in the 
oldest tradition never being called o-rj/mov 
sign. So Jesus by this answer denies 
that this generation will see the coming 
of the Messiah. 

The contradiction between this saying 
and the other two sayings mentioned 
before, exists, I think, only in appearance. 
The solution is to be found in another 
saying, recorded by Mark ix. i (cp. Matt, 
xvi. 28 and Luke ix. 27) ; " Verily I 
say unto you : There be some here of 
them that stand by which shall in no 
wise taste of death, till they see the 
kingdom of God come with power." This 
is not to be taken in a spiritual sense ; 
it refers to the real Parousia. This 
will be in the lifetime of the present 
generation. But, this is the main point 

Eschatology. 9 


to be remarked here : Jesus does not 
say that all who stand around will be 
still alive. He solemnly declares : there 
will be some still alive when it happens 
to come. This looks rather like a later 
restriction made at a time when most 
of them who had been with Jesus had 
gone already without having seen His 
Parousia. But taken together with those 
other sayings it will prove to be the 
original conception of Jesus, explaining 
what He meant by generation, when He 
said: "no sign to this generation," and 
"this generation shall not pass" on the 
other side. We find a similar instance 
in the Old Testament and we may 
suppose Jesus bearing this in mind viz., 
that of all the generation which went 
out from Egypt only two, Joshua son 
of Nun, and Caleb son of Jephunneh, 
were able to enter the land of promise 


(Num. xiv. 30, 38, cp. i Cor. x. 5). 
This parallel makes it quite clear that 
"this generation" is not to be taken in 
the sense of this nation (as some in 
terpreters ventured to explain), but in the 
chronological sense of the word : the men 
just now living. This generation got the 
advantage of seeing God s highest reve 
lation, compared with which even the 
time of the patriarchs and of Solomon 
counted for nothing ; but having proved 
unworthy of such grace, this generation 
was to be called an evil and adulterous 
one. So it resulted that, while the blood 
of all prophets would be required of 
this generation (Luke xi. 51), or [in 
other words] all these things would come 
upon this generation (Matt, xxiii. 36), 
only few of them would be worthy to 
live to see the establishment of salvation, 
the coming of the Son of Man. It is 


indeed, as we said before, in Jesus 
opinion, the last generation destined to 
see the kingdom of God. 

This, I think, is not in contradiction 
with other sayings of Jesus : as, e.g., His 
saying Mark xiii. 32 (cp. Matt. xxiv. 36) : 
" Of that day or that hour knoweth no 
one, not even the angels in heaven, neither 
the Son, but the Father," I because in 
putting the date at the end of His 
generation He gives no real date ; nor 
by those two sayings dealing with the 
spread of the Gospel, viz., Matt. x. 23, 

1 It is an open question whether the words 
" neither the Son " are to be omitted in the 
text of Matthew or not. At all events they are 
genuine in Mark. And so the question can be 
only whether the omission is due to Matthew 
himself or to a later copyist, the motive being 
in both cases that the words seemed to be 
derogatory to the divinity of Christ. 


" Ye shall not have gone through the 
cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be 
come " ; and on the other side, Mark xiii. 
10 (cp. Matt. xxiv. 14) : " The gospel 
must first be preached unto all nations" 
two statements contradicting one another 
and showing neither of them the genuine 
teaching of Jesus but the later views of 
Jewish and Gentile Christianity. Jesus 
statement about the coming of the 
kingdom in the lifetime of His own 
generation is in full accordance with the 
general tenour of His admonitions. When 
He says, " Watch therefore : for ye know 
not when the Lord of the house cometh" 
(Mark xiii. 35 ; cp. Matt. xxiv. 42), He 
addresses, undoubtedly, the men of His 
own time, this and other parables having 
no effect if the Parousia was not supposed 
to occur in the lifetime of these men. 
As a matter of fact He announces the 


death of some of His disciples, e.g., the 
sons of Zebedee (Mark x. 39 ; Matt, 
xx. 23) as well as He foretells His own 
death I see no reason for treating this 
with Ed. Schwartz as an ex eventu 
prophecy but this comes out rather as 
an exception, the disciples not being 
deprived by their martyrdom of the 
benefit of partaking in the glorious 
kingdom, no less than Jesus Himself, 
who firmly believed in getting through 
death to life, patronising in this depart 
ment Pharisaic doctrine against Sadducean 
unbelief, or rather protecting by His own 
assent what was of real value in the 
progress of Jewish religious thought, at 
the same time improving it by putting 
out from it all sensuousness, all elements 
of worldly, chiliastic happiness : " For 
when they shall rise from the dead, they 
neither marry, nor are given in marriage, 


but are as angels in heaven " (Mark xii. 
25 and par.). 

In the same way, when Jesus speaks 
of a meal where the sons of the kingdom 
will be gathered with Abraham, Isaac, 
and Jacob, we may conclude that this is 
meant eschatologically, but not in a 
chiliastic sense as a big dinner, where as 
it is represented sometimes in late Jewish 
literature, the Leviathan will be given as 
fish and the Behemoth as meat, and the 
cups will be filled with wine without end. 
As a matter of fact we find Jesus using 
the very words of being at table, eating 
bread and drinking the fruit of the vine 
in the kingdom of God (Matt. viii. 1 1 ; 
Luke xiii. 29, xiv. 15 ; Mark xiv. 25 
c. par.) ; but here realistic interpretation 
is out of place ; it is the popular way of 
expressing supreme happiness, which Jesus 
is using for something which is far 


beyond the literal sense of the words. 
Nobody I trust would imagine Jesus fore 
telling to His disciples the pleasures of a 
dinner in the Messianic kingdom, even 
when he takes the most realistic view of 
Jesus eschatology. 

Two more Features in the Genuine 



T3Y collecting and sifting the evidence 
-*^ afforded by our first three Gospels, 
we found that notwithstanding a marked 
tendency towards bringing in eschato- 
logical views there was a large enough 
genuine stock of eschatological sayings 
of Jesus to prove that He Himself be 
lieved in a change of all things which 
would come quickly, and not later than 
the end of His own generation ; the 
kingdom of God would then be estab 
lished in its full glory and happiness by 



His own coming in power and glory ; all 
His believers, or rather, all pious and 
good men, heathen as well as members 
of the chosen people, participating in its 
happy life. We do not see Jesus in 
terested in the details of eschatology like 
most of the apocalyptic writers of late 
Judaism and early Christianity. For 
Jesus eschatology has only a twofold 
significance: (i) it is a help for Him 
to understand and make men under 
stand His own position : being the 
Messiah, the culmination in God s revela 
tion to His people, final in all that 
He does and says, He brings about the 
kingdom of God ; and (2) it is a 
motive in His admonitions : be ready, be 
watchful, because the kingdom of God 
is at hand. 



But beside these clearly eschatological 
utterances there is another set of sayings 
dealing likewise with the notions of the 
kingdom and of His Messiahship, but 
showing quite a different aspect of them : 
the kingdom is present, and Jesus, humble 
and meek as He is, is the Messiah, 
because He fulfils the expectation in its 
true form and brings salvation in its 
deepest sense. 

A. i. When attacked on account of 
His casting out devils, Jesus argues 
according to Mark iii. 24-27 by two 
parables : a kingdom divided against itself 
cannot stand, and a man cannot enter 
into a strong man s house and spoil his 
goods except he first binds the strong 
man. Q, represented by Luke xi. 19, 20 
and Matthew xii. 27, 28, gives two more 


arguments used on the same occasion by 
Jesus. He refers to the casting out of 
devils by the rabbis and their pupils, so 
defending his own practice per analogiam ; 
then He goes on to say : " But if I by 
the finger (or, according to Matthew, by 
the spirit) of God cast out devils, then 
is the kingdom of God come upon you." 
This "is come" (tyOave) must mean some 
thing more than the usual "is at hand" 
(riyytKEv) ; it is the solemn declaration that 
the kingdom is present in Jesus acting ; 
His casting out of devils proves that the 
powers of the kingdom are at work. 
Some interpreters take pleasure in urging 
the discrepancy between these two argu 
ments. When Jesus casting out of 
devils, they say, is nothing else than 
what was done by the rabbis, how can it 
be taken as a sign of the kingdom of 
God being present ? Perhaps this is 


logically correct ; it is hardly true psycho 
logically ; you can easily compare one 
thing with another without admitting that 
both are on the same level. That the 
casting out of devils by Jesus was far 
beyond the usual exorcism of the rabbis 
is admitted by His opponents by their 
very attack. If, then, the kingdom of 
God is proved to be present by the casting 
out of devils by Jesus, we have here 
a peculiar notion of the kingdom. There 
was, as we have seen before, beside the 
political notions of the kingdom of God, 
another idea in Jewish eschatology, a 
mythological one, taking the kingdom of 
God in contrast to the power of Satan 
and his evil spirits. This we have here ; 
but the difference is that Jesus by His 
deeds realises the idea. He Himself is 
" the stronger," spoken of in that other 
parable connected with our saying both 


in Mark and Q, who, having first bound 
the strong man, spoils his goods. The 
individual act of casting out a devil is 
only the consequence of what Jesus has 
done before, overcoming Satan. So we 
read in Luke x. 18, that when the seventy 
returned with joy exulting that even the 
devils were subject to them in Jesus 
name, Jesus answered them : " / beheld 
Satan fallen as lightning from heaven." 
I am not prepared to accept this as a 
parallel to Revelation xii. 9, where the 
dragon is cast out from heaven and comes 
down to the earth in order to persecute 
the Children of the Church. 1 I understand 
it as an allegory of Satan s power being 
broken, so that it is easy work now to 
cast out his evil spirits. For the disciples 

1 F. Spitta, "Satan als Blitz" in Preuschen s 
ZNTW, ix., 1908, 160. 


it is no matter of glorifying themselves on 
account of their exorcising power ; they 
had rather enjoy their own salvation. 

2. A second saying to be studied in 
this connexion is found in Luke xvii. 
20-21 only: "And being asked by the 
Pharisees, when the kingdom of God 
cometh, he answered them and said , the 
kingdom of God cometh not with observa 
tion, neither shall they say, Lo, here! 
or, There / for Lo, the kingdom of God 
is within you." So tvroc v/mwv is trans 
lated both by the A.V. and the R.V., 
while some interpreters prefer to trans 
late in the midst of you. 1 The discus- 

1 The Latin intra vos seems to patronise this 
later view : unter euch, among you : on Old 
Syriac bainathchon (among you) and Pesitta 
begau menchon (in the midst of you] and 
Diatessaron within your heart, see F. C. 
Burkitt, Evangelion da Mepharreshe, ii. 198, 

Eschatolofy. 10 


sion as to the true meaning of this 1 
goes through the whole history of inter 
pretation and will perhaps never come to 
a final decision, most interpreters main 
taining that there must be the same 
notion of presence as in the former 
saying. Joh. Weiss tries to get rid of 
this notion by taking " is in the midst 
of you" in the sense of "will then be 
in the midst of you suddenly, without 
being announced by outward visible pre 
parations." But in order to express "in 
the midst of you " Luke would have used 
* ; the rather uncommon expression 
he can have chosen only 

298. A. Merx, Die vier kanonischen Evangelien, 
ii. 2, 347, understands the Pesitta meaning : 
"within you" "Inside of you" is the Bohairic 
rendering (G. Horner). 

1 This is found in Luke s writings more than 
a dozen times ; IVTOQ c. gen. only xvii. 21. 


with the aim of giving to " in the 
peculiar colouring of inwardness. 1 Now it 
may be an open question, if we can trust 
his rendering of the Aramaic original. 
There may have come in a misunder 
standing in the very act of translation. 
But we cannot reach this Aramaic original 
behind the extant Greek text. And I see 
no necessity for putting aside Luke s 
meaning, as inwardness of the kingdom, 
if not stated expressly by other sayings 
of Jesus, is quite in the line of what he 
says about clean and unclean : " There is 

1 It is worth remark that the parallels 
brought forward in favour of the meaning " in 
the midst of you " are all taken from early 
writers, as Thukydides, Plato, Xenophon, 
whereas the LXX uses the word in the sense 
of "in the interior of." I should attribute a 
great value, too, to the linguistic sensorium 
of Chrysostom, who champions the inward-view. 


nothing from without the man, that going 
into him can defile him : but the things 
which proceed out of the man are those that 
defile the man ; " "for from within, out of 
the heart of men, evil thoughts proceed . . . 
and defile the man" (Mark vii. 15, 21; 
cp. Matt. xv. n, 19). If it is man s 
heart where the evil thoughts come from, 
or, in other words, where the devil ex 
ercises his dominion, then it is man s 
heart, too, where the kingdom of God 
is to be established. " Thy kingdom come, 
thy will be done " points in the same 

3. A third saying is still more difficult. 
It is found in Matt. xi. 12, 13, and 
Luke xvi. 16, i.e., at two different places, 
and in two quite different forms, too. I 
therefore do not think that it comes from 
Q, but rather from some other source, 
perhaps an oral one. We hardly can say 


what are the original words ; we had 

better put the two redactions side by 
side : 


(a) And from the days 
of John the Baptist until 
now the kingdom of 
heaven suffereth vio 
lence, and men of vio 
lence I take it by force. 

(b) For all the pro 
phets and the law pro 
phesied until John. 


(a) The law and the 
prophets (were) until 
John : 

(b) from that time the 
gospel of the kingdom 
of God is preached, and 
every man entereth vio 
lently 2 into it. 

Whatever may be the original form 
(most of the interpreters trying to gain it 
by a rather hazardous combination) ; 3 

1 The violent, A.V. 2 Presseth, A.V. 

3 See the various attempts at reconstruction 
by Wendt, Lehre Jesu, i. 75 ; Harnack, Spriiche 
Jesu, 101 ; B. Weiss, Die Quellen der syn. 


whatever may be the meaning of that most 
disputed word /Brno-rat and /3mcrat (Luke, 
evidently taking the latter in a passive 
sense : is compelled to enter into if) : one 
thing seems to be beyond any doubt : the 
time of Jesus is set in opposition to the 
time until John, the present to the past, 
and it is to this present that the kingdom 
of God belongs, not to a third form, the 
future. And because it is present, it is to 
be taken as something inward, some ex 
perience of happiness which men try to 
get so eagerly that they rather jostle one 
another in the effort to reach it. 

4. A fourth saying, which one would 
mention in this connexion, is perhaps not 
so certain ; it is found in Mark x. 15 

Uberlieferung (Texte u. Unters., 3 ser. ii. 3); 
H. von Soden, Die wichtigsten Fragen in Leben 
Jesu, does not include this saying in Q. 


(cp. Luke xviii. 17 J ) : " Verily I say unto 
you, Whosoever shall not receive the king 
dom of God, as a little child, he shall in no 
wise enter therein While in the second 
part the notion of the kingdom is the 
usual one, a different notion seems to be 
presupposed in the first part. If to receive 
the kingdom is the condition for entering 
into the kingdom, it must be in the first 
place some kingdom before the kingdom, 
i.e., some inward experience, accessible to 
man in the present time, before the king 
dom in the external eschatological sense is 
to be revealed. The kingdom of God as 
an experience of man s heart would be in 
agreement with what we learned from 
Luke xvii. 21. On the other hand, "the 
kingdom of God" can be taken here as 

1 Matthew omits this word at xix. 14, because 
he has a various form of the same in xviii. 3. 


an abbreviated expression for the " gospel 
of the kingdom of God," and in this case 
the conclusion would not be quite necessary. 
5. Lastly, we have to mention here the 
two parables of the mustard seed and the 
leaven, only the former being given in 
Mark iv. 30-32, while Luke xiii. 18-21, 
following probably Q, has the original 
couple, and Matthew xiii. 31-33 combines, 
as he likes to do, the Marcan form with 
the Q-tradition. The notion of the king 
dom of God, given by these parables, is 
at any rate quite opposite to the eschato- 
logical one which makes the kingdom 
appear suddenly in its full power and 
glory. Here we are told that it is grow 
ing up, however quickly, and that it is 
exercising influence by its inheritant power. 
Certainly Jesus opinion has nothing in 
common with the modern view of a 
gradual evolution, the seed of His gospel 


coming to grow up by hundreds and 
hundreds of years. He thinks of a rapid 
growing up and a quick leavening of the 
whole people by His gospel. But at all 
events it is by His own preaching and 
teaching and healing that the kingdom is 
to be realised. We would not be sur 
prised to hear Him speak of the great 
success of His gospel, as He tells His 
disciples in the parable of the sower that 
what falls into good ground brings fruit, 
some thirty and some sixty and some an 
hundred (Mark iv. 8). But in these two 
parables He is not speaking of His gospel, 
but of the kingdom of God, illustrating its 
extensive and intensive power. The con 
clusion is inevitable, that it is by His 
preaching that the kingdom comes, or, 
rather, is present ; the effect of His 
preaching is that inward experience of 
man which we found identified with the 


notion of the kingdom in two former 

B. This peculiar notion of the kingdom 
of God as some present, inward experi 
ence is supported by a set of sayings 
which show Jesus looking upon His own 
present activity as means of not so much 
preparing, but bringing salvation to His 

i. When the Baptist sends to Him ask 
ing, "Art thou he that comet k, or look we 
for another ? " (Luke vii. 19, Matt. xi. 3), 
Jesus answers neither Yes nor No ; He 
makes John glance over His activity and 
see how it fulfils what the prophets had 
said about the time of salvation. In what 
ever sense you may take the words, " the 
blind receive their sight" &c., spiritual or 
realistic, Jesus doings, His preaching, His 
healing fulfil these expectations. The 
Baptist, being a stern prophet of the last 


judgment, had not done any miracle, as 
we are informed John x. 41 I : Jesus is 
surrounded by miracles, the outward 
miracles of healing being, in His own 
opinion, only small proofs of the still 
greater inward miracles of conversion of 
sinners (Mark ii. 10 f.). So Jesus answer 
to the Baptist is a Yes, but a Yes which 
has to be made out by the asking man 
himself: Look and see, and then you will 
make up your mind that I am really He 
that should come. Jesus, the humble Son 
of Man, the preaching and healing prophet, 
is indeed the Messiah. So He declares 
to the people by telling them that John 
the Baptist, the greatest of all prophets, 
is far behind any one who belongs to the 

1 The same is implied in the popular estima 
tion of Jesus relation to John, Mark vi. 14 
(Matt. xiv. 2). 


kingdom. He is not speaking of Himself, 
but whoever has ears to hear may under 
stand that He who speaks is more than 
a small member of this kingdom : He is 
the king in this kingdom. 

2. And His disciples did understand 
Him. At a time when the people still 
looked out for various solutions of the 
problem put before them by this Son of 
Man, who was so unlike all others, who, 
being the most humble and meek, yet 
spoke with power as nobody ever had 
spoken before Him ; at a time when 
people called Him a prophet, one of the 
great prophets of times past, Elijah, or 
perhaps even John the Baptist himself, 
risen from death, and, therefore, gifted 
with miraculous power : His disciples, by 
the mouth of Peter, found the right ex 
pression solemnly declaring Him to be the 
Messiah, i.e., the unique, the final bringer 


of salvation. 1 And He did not decline to 
be called so ; He only forbade them to 
tell this to the people, because He was 
aware that such a claim would lead the 
people to expect of Him what He never 
intended to do, i.e., to relieve the people 
from foreign tyranny, to deliver it from 
the Romans, and may be, even from the 

1 See Mark viii. 27 ff. ; Matt. xvi. 13 ff. ; 
Luke ix. 18 ff. There is an ingenious interpre 
tation of the Lukan form by Prof. F. Spitta 
in his book Streitfragen der Geschichte Jesu, 1907, 

85-843 : VfJLttq TlVCi jlt AyT tVCU . . . TOV 

XpiaTov TOV Otov, not being taken as the dis 
ciples personal confession, but as their speaking 
to the people about Jesus (/irjc^vi Xfyav TOVTO, 
ver. 21). Then the whole scene would have 
another significance than we are accustomed 
to ; Mark must have misunderstood this, and 
Matthew reinforced this misinterpretation by 
his well-known addition. I am not convinced 
that this was Luke s meaning, nor that his 
relation is independent of Mark. 


Sadducees ; in one word, to carry on a 
line of political evolution. This He de 
clined, and therefore He not only forbad 
His disciples to use the title of Messiah, 
but He told them at once that He had 
to be delivered into the hands of His 
enemies and to be put to death death, 
however, not being able to destroy His 
work or overcome Himself. 

3. Jesus activity was indeed a Messianic 
one, if only we take this word not in its 
national and political sense, but in the 
purely religious meaning of bringing salva 
tion and happiness. He said to His 
disciples, according to Luke x. 23 and 
Matt. xiii. 16: "Blessed are the eyes which 
see the things which ye see, [and the ears 
which hear the things which ye hear\ : I for 

1 This part is wanting in Luke, but it is 
certainly original, as we have in Matt. : 


/ say unto you that many prophets and 
kings I desired to see the things which ye see 
and saw them not, and to hear the things 
which ye hear and heard them not" We 
can hardly imagine a more solemn form 
of proclamation for the fact that in 
Christ s present actions all promises are 
fulfilled. And this is not the evangelists, 
Luke or Matthew, but it is Q or some 
other old source. 

4. That in Jesus was fulfilled whatever 
was expected for the Messianic time, will 
further be seen by a comparison of several 
sayings : 

a. A commonplace of eschatological ex- 

" Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your 
ears, for they hear The parallelism is sup 
ported also by the continuation. 

i The "righteous men" of Matthew is prob 
ably his own ; he likes this combination, 
cp. x. 41, xxiii. 29. 


pectation was mutual hatred between the 
nearest relations. So Mark xiii. 12 (cp. 
Luke xxi. 16; Matt. x. 21, xxiv. 10) 
records as a saying of Jesus that in the 
last time brother shall deliver up brother 
to death and the father his child, and 
children shall rise up against parents, 
and cause them to be put to death. 
Now in Q we read nearly the same, 
but it runs quite another way, Jesus 

LUKE xii. 51-53. 

Think ye that I am 
come to give peace in 
the earth ? I tell you, 
Nay, but rather divi 
sion : for there shall be 
from henceforth five in 
one house divided, three 
against two, and two 
against three. They 

MATTHEW x. 34-35. 

Think not that I 
came to send peace on 
the earth ; I came not 
to send peace but a 
sword. For I came to 
set a man at variance 
against his father, and 
the daughter against 
her mother, and the 


shall be divided, father daughter-in-law against 
against son and son her mother-in-law, 
against the father, mo 
ther against daughter 
and daughter against 
her mother ; mother-in- 
law against her daugh 
ter-in-law and daughter- 
in-law against her mo 

Jesus is come to fulfil what was expected 
for the last time. And Jesus Himself 
realises some of this result of His mission 
by the unbelief He met with in His own 
family (Mark iii. 21, 31 ff. ; cp. Matt. xii. 
46 ff., Luke viii. 19 ff., John vii. 5), and 
on the part of his countrymen (Mark vi. 
1-6 ; cp. Matt. xiii. 53-58, Luke iv. 16-30). 

b. The Messianic judgment was to bring 
up a sharp separation, as is said in a saying 
recorded by Q itself : " Then shall two 
men be in the field (or according to Luke : 

Eschatology. 1 1 


"In that night there shall be two men on 
one bed), one is taken and one is left ; two 
women shall be grinding at the mill, one 
is taken and one is left" (Matt. xxiv. 40, 41 ; 
Luke xvii. 34). Now this very separation 
is worked out by Jesus Himself when He 
calls some fishermen to follow Him and 
left others ; when He calls Levi and 
Zacchaeus the publicans and the Pharisees 
stand outside ; when He declines to allow 
the one who asks to follow Him, whereas 
He presses on another who is rather un 
willing : "follow me ; and leave the dead to 
bury their own dead" (Matt. viii. 22 ; 
Luke ix. 60). 

c. At the Messianic time a large festival 
was expected, all members of the chosen 
people taking part in it. Jesus, in His well- 
known parables accepts this expectation 
correcting only its last part. Those who 
were first invited refusing to come, others 


will be introduced (Luke xiv. 16-24 ; Matt, 
xxii. 1-14) ; this is nearly the same as what 
He says about the heathen taking a place 
at the Messianic table together with the 
patriarchs (Luke xiii. 28 ff. ; Matthew viii. 
ii f.). But the same is fulfilled already in 
Jesus own lifetime by His preaching the 
gospel of the kingdom to the poor, declaring 
that the publicans and harlots go into the 
kingdom of God before the Pharisees 
(Matt. xxi. 31 f. ; cp. Luke vii. 29) ; it is 
accomplished when He sits down with 
publicans and sinners, so that the honour 
able men who pretend to be alone worthy 
of His company are rather shocked (Mark 
ii. 15 f. c. par.) ; when he finds faith among 
Gentiles in a measure He never had found 
before among His own countrymen (Luke 
vii. 9 ; Matt. viii. 10). 

5. All this points to the same effect : 
Jesus is the Messiah, whatever may be the 


discrepancy between His appearance and 
the popular expectation. He is the Messiah 
in this sense, that He brings judgment and 
salvation. He is the stumbling-block for 
one class of men, and to the other He 
brings happiness and joyous life. As He is 
the son, so His disciples are the son, freed 
from all bondship, so that they need not 
even pay the regular tax for the temple, 
a saying which, though found only in 
Matthew xvii. 26, in a context belonging to 
a not very trustworthy collection of Peter 
stories, nevertheless has a genuine colouring. 
Jesus as surrounded by His disciples re 
presents the new era of Messianic time. 
The wedding, a very common Messianic 
notion, spoken of in so many parables of 
Jesus, is already going on ; Jesus is the 
bridegroom, His disciples are the children 
of the bride-chamber, as He puts it in His 
apology for non-fasting (Mark ii. 19, 20 ; 


cp. Matt. ix. 15, Luke v. 34, 35). This is 
all the more remarkable as we have it not 
in Q as most of the words mentioned before, 
but in that same Marcan tradition which we 
found to be distinguished for its eschato- 
logical views. 1 Jesus looked upon His 
estate as belonging already to the new 
order of things. So in the parables of the 
piece of new cloth and of the new wine 
(combined in Mark ii. 21, 22, c. par. with 

1 About the authenticity there can be no doubt 
(against Wellhausen). The question rather is, if 
those words belong to so early a period in the 
life of Jesus (Wendt). As a matter of fact, Mark s 
chronological arrangement is not beyond doubt ; 
it was criticised already by the Elder from whom 
Papias got his information. But having no means 
of settling the chronological order by ourselves, 
we had better refrain from expressing decision. 
I am not persuaded that there was an 
evolution in Jesus thought during His public 


the parable of the bridegroom) He declares 
as clearly as possible, that there is some 
thing new about Him in opposition to all 
that which was before. It is the same 
contrast as we found it in the word Luke 
xvi. 1 6, dealing with John the Baptist as 
representative of the time gone and the 
preaching of the kingdom as the characteristic 
of the time now. 

Here we may stop. The evidence col 
lected is quite sufficient to prove that in the 
teaching of Jesus there is a strong line of 
what I would call transmuted eschatology. 
I mean eschatology transmuted in the sense 
that what was spoken of in Jewish 
eschatology as to come in the last days is 
taken here as already at hand in the lifetime 
of Jesus ; transmuted at the same time in 
the other sense that what was expected as 
an external change is taken inwardly : not 
all people seeing it, but Jesus disciples be- 


coming aware of it. For the great mass 
of the people Jesus is only one of the 
prophets ; for His enemies, Pharisees as 
well as Sadducees, He is a pseudo-prophet 
deceiving the people ; but His disciples 
recognise and acknowledge Him to be the 
Messiah, the Chosen one of God ; and in 
His company they enjoy all the happiness 
of the Messianic time. 

Now we must compare this with the 
first group of sayings dealing with pure 
eschatology : Jesus the Messiah to come on 
the clouds of heaven ; the Messianic judg 
ment to be held at the end of the days ; 
the Messianic meal to take place after this 
glorious event, and so on. Both groups 
are quite distinct and to be kept separate. 
Neither of them may be reduced easily to 
the other one without violence being done 
to the tradition, nor can we put aside one 
of them as a later addition or transformation, 


both being attested by our best sources. 
One may say that in Mark the eschato- 
logical view prevails, whereas the other 
view is predominant in Q ; but Q is not 
without eschatology, nor Mark without the 
other element. This is the evidence of the 


Before starting a solution of this problem, 
we have to take account of one more 
point of tradition, worth being remarked. 

Taking together all materials collected 
hitherto, eschatology as well as transmuted 
eschatology, we find that they represent 
only a small part of the whole Gospel- 
tradition ; there are plenty of sayings 
beside these, which we may cali, for the 
sake of brevity, entirely non-eschatological. 
We do not need lose time with a detailed 


investigation, Every one knows what 
Jesus says about trust in God, God s care 
for the individual, about prayer and the 
certainty of its being heard, not trusting 
in riches, loving the neighbour and even 
the enemy, pardoning offenders, &c. It 
is (as Harnack stated against Wellhausen) 
the great value of Q that it represents 
Jesus from this peculiar side. But even 
in Mark we have plenty of this non- 
eschatological, purely moral matter : e.g., 
Jesus sayings about cleanness (vii. 1-23), 
marriage and divorce (x. 1-12), children 
(x. 13-16), and the rich (x. 17-31). 
It may be interesting to settle this 
statement by means of a peculiar inductive 

There are the so-called doublets, i.e., 
sayings related both by Mark and Q. 
They are of some importance in the 
critical study of the Gospels, some critics 


maintaining that they prove a literary 
relation to exist between these two main 
sources I on the contrary, am rather 
inclined to say that they prove both 
sources to be independent, giving the 
same saying mostly in quite different 
renderings. But they have another im 
portance, too, as Professor Burkitt has 
pointed out l : they allow us to infer 
not only which sayings are the best 
attested, but at the same time sayings 
which were the most appreciated, and, 
therefore, had the widest circulation and 
the greatest influence. Now out of the 
thirty doublets, which may be read in 

1 The Gospel History and its Transmission, 
1906, 147 ff. Cp. also Sir John Hawkins, Horae 
Synopticae, 1899, 65 ff., and Professor V. H. 
Stanton, The Gospels as Historical Documents, ii., 
1909, 59-60. 


Professor Burkitt s book there are but 
seven dealing with eschatology, 1 all the 
others containing non-eschatological matter 
of a moral character. Of course the 
eschatological background may give a 
peculiar colouring to some of them ; e.g., 
that nothing is kid save that it should 
be manifested, may, set by itself, well 
be taken as an announcement of the last 
judgment. But, in general, we should 
not miss anything for the understanding 
of those general moralisations, if we had 
no knowledge of the eschatology of 

At this point we may be able to 
pronounce a fair criticism of the so-called 
theory of " consistent eschatology." Ac 
cording to this theory there is nothing 

1 Nos. 2, 3, 12, 15, 29, 30, 31 in Burkitt s 


in the life of Jesus nor in His sayings 
which is not to be explained by eschato- 
logy, that is to say, by Jesus belief that 
He was to bring the end of this present 
order of things. Now (i) this theory 
is to be maintained only by doing violence 
to the tradition, which, besides some 
distinct eschatological matter, gives a few 
but very expressive instances of what I 
have called transmuted eschatology, and 
as the main content a large amount of 
non-eschatological matters. It means doing 
violence to Jesus moral teaching, if this 
is subordinated to His announcement of 
the approaching end in the way of being 
only an " Interimsethik " ; it means doing 
violence to the other group of sayings 
representing the kingdom and the Messiah- 
ship as present, if these are taken only 
as mere anticipations of the future, to 
be jumped over, while Jesus real doctrine 


is said to be represented only by the 
first group of sayings, the purely eschato- 
logical group. (2) The surprising lights 
this theory seems to throw upon several 
points of the gospel history are gained 
by a strange interpretation which reads 
into the text what is to be demonstrated : 
e.g., when the feeding of the multitude 
as well as the last supper is taken as 
a Messianic sacrament, assuring to all 
partakers the participation at the Messianic 
meal, it has to be admitted that there 
is not the slightest indication thereof in 
the texts, but even that probably no one 
of all who were present was able to 
conceive this meaning. (3) It is Jesus 
Himself who contradicts this modern view 
of His activity, viz., that He was working 
by all His forces to the effect of bringing 
about the kingdom of God or the end 
of history ; in the parable of the seed 


(Mark iv. 26-29) he expressly states that 
when the seed has been cast into the 
ground the man has nothing else to do 
but to wait for the time of harvest. 

It is not only the amount of non- 
eschatological materials in the Gospels 
that forbids us to account for Jesus whole 
life and teaching by His eschatology. 
It is at the same time the permanent 
value of His non-eschatological doctrines 
that causes us to put them in the first 
rank, whereas the transmuted eschatology 
points out in what direction Jesus Himself 
would form the mind of His believers. 
It is, lastly, as we have said before, 
the history of the Christian Church, from 
its beginning in the apostolic age to our 
own time, that proves the non-eschatological 
element to be essential. This statement 
does not include, however, the opposite 
thesis, that eschatology has no place at 


all in Jesus mind. A sound and sober 
interpretation will be found to be one 
which gives to every group of sayings 
its own value and weight. 

Various Modes of Understanding (St. John) 



investigation of the Gospel-tra- 
dition led us to the conclusion 
that there are different lines of thought, 
and various groups of sayings, which have 
each of them the same claim to be ac 
counted for, if we try to make out what 
was Jesus own opinion. We will do our 
best to combine them in a way of a 
psychological analysis of the leading ideas 
in Jesus. Contrary to the order of our 
former investigation, we will begin with 
the third group of sayings, i.e., the non- 

Eschatology. 163 

164 JESUS 

eschatological group, which we found to 
cover the most space and to be of 
the highest importance. 

(a) Jesus, as it is commonly said, 
started as a teacher of piety and morality. 
So at least people understood Him. They 
called Him a rabbi, remarking, however, 
that there was something in Him far 
above the doctrine of the rabbis of His 
time. It has been proclaimed by many a 
rationalistic writer of recent time, and 
especially by modern Jewish authorities, 
that Jesus was nothing but a reformer of 
moral ideas, and that He did not go be 
yond the line of the best moralists of His 
time, such as, e.g., Rabbi Hillel. There 
are coincidences, of course, for Hillel also 
summed up the whole of the law in one 
sentence, the so-called golden rule. But 
we need only read attentively Jesus ex 
planation of the law as given in Matt. v. 

JESUS 165 

to see the difference. He expresses 
not an individual opinion which may be 
balanced by the authority of some other 
rabbi the way in which the rabbinical 
schools of that time used to settle questions 
concerning the law but gives the explana 
tion ; He fulfils the law, as it is said, by 
setting finally the rule which is to guide 
its interpretation. He even speaks with 
no less authority than the law itself: " You 
have heard that it was said to them of 
old time : but I say unto you" and some 
times He sets aside the letter of the law 
by giving higher ordinances of His own, 
as in the law of the Sabbath, the law of 
purification, the law of divorce, &c. 

There are others who consider Him 
more than a rabbi, and are prepared to 
acknowledge that His teaching is rather 
to be compared with the teaching of the 
great prophets of a former time, the pro- 

166 JESUS 

phets whose great work was to raise the 
religion of Israel to a higher platform of 
ethical conceptions. Jesus, it has been 
said, overcame the rabbinical Judaism of 
His time, with all its ritualistic and 
legalistic moralities, by going back to the 
simple and lofty standard of the old pro 
phets. There is undoubtedly some truth 
in this statement. We need only read 
Mark vii. or x. to see how deeply Jesus 
mind was filled with prophetical sayings, 
how He opposed Old Testament authority 
to the traditional doctrine of the rabbis of 
His time. But this touches only the form 
of His utterances, and you will remark 
that while the prophet is speaking in the 
name of his God, Jesus sets His own 
authority even against the Divine Law. 
There is something more in His teaching 
than a mere restoration of the old pro 
phetical religion. 

JESUS 167 

In the last twenty years there has been 
a great change as regards Jesus teaching 
or rather, our view of religion has been 
changed by rediscovering that morals, how 
ever important in religion, are not the religion, 
that there is a religion something beyond 
all that is moral, intellectual, aesthetic, some 
real intercourse with God. We may call 
this mysticism, only that it is not neces 
sarily mysticism in the strict sense of the 
word with a naturalistic notion about Deity 
as its basis and including some materia 
listic means of intercourse with the Divine. 
In Judaism, certainly, this element of 
nature-religion had been cast away long 
before, and it came into Christianity only 
later through pagan influence. It marks 
the position of Jesus in the history of re 
ligion, that He is the culmination of that 
line of religion which has broken off all 
relation to the primitive cult of nature 

168 JESUS 

and has put in its place the idea of God s 
moral holiness, and that to do the will of 
God makes the man religious. But, as we 
have remarked already, to do the will of 
God is not in itself the religion, but a part 
of it, or, rather, a consequence of it. The 
centre of religion is a real experience of 
God s presence and helpfulness, of His 
grace and mercy. And this is what we 
find in complete fulness in Jesus. It is 
only by taking account of this funda 
mental part of Jesus doctrine, that we can 
hope to approach His own meaning as well 
as His position in the history of mankind. 
Jesus teaching deals not so much with 
morals, however important the moral 
element of His teaching may be : He 
preaches a new relation of God to man 
and of man to God ; or better, He brings, 
He represents this new relation. And this 
is, we may say confidently, what con- 

JESUS 169 

stitutes His distinction from, and His 
superiority to all prophets. He has in 
Himself the unity with God which He 
brings to mankind. He does not only tell 
how to realise a new form of relation to 
God ; He embodies it in Himself. 

(b) Now, without entering into the pro 
found question of metaphysical speculation, 
we may simply say that Jesus, according 
to His own words, felt this relation to God 
to be unique in Himself, and that He had 
no other means of explaining it and speak 
ing about it than by calling God His 
Father and Himself God s Son. We may 
be sure He supposed that the same rela 
tion ought to exist between God and every 
one else. But His refined moral sense 
must have discovered at a very early 
period of His life the difference be 
tween Himself and others in this respect, 
He Himself being in uninterrupted com- 

170 JESUS 

munion with His Father, while all others 
were separated from God by sin. He felt 
the longer, the more that it was His task 
to bring them into full communion with 
God. His life was to be devoted to this 
very aim, to remove all that could stand 
between God and mankind. 

This is, I should think, the real meaning 
of what we call Jesus " Tauferlebnis" the 
experience at the moment of His baptism : 
He became aware of this as the task laid 
upon Him by His Father s will. This, at 
the same time, explains the story of the 
temptation, that in taking upon Him that 
task, He had to come to terms with the 
ordinary Messianic notion of His people. 
" Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am 
well pleased." This Jesus had known all 
His life ; but at this very moment it 
gained a new significance for Him. He 
was to be the Son of God, acknowledged 

JESUS 171 

as such by His people ; in other words, 
He was to be the Messiah. 1 Of course, 
Jesus did not think of Himself as the 
Messiah according to the current popular 
notion ; this He declined, as we learn 
from the story of the temptation. What 
ever may be the kernel of this story, it 
shows that it is a mistake, in order to get 
at a solution of the problem, to start from 
the current popular notion and ask how 
Jesus could adopt this. The late Pro 
fessor A. Merx (of Heidelberg) was quite 
right in denying that Jesus ever thought 
of adopting this. 2 We have to go the 
opposite way : we take it for granted that 
Jesus had a peculiar estimation of His 
own importance, what German theology 

1 Cp. on this topic E. Schiirer, Das messianische 
Selbstbewusstsein Jesu, Gottingen, 1903. 

2 Die vier kanonischen Evangelien, ii. I, 1902, 
1 86 and passim. 

172 JESUS 

calls his " Selbstbewusstsein" Conscious as 
He was of a unique position involving a 
great task as well as a supreme authority, 
He had no other notion in the language of 
His people to describe this position than 
that of Messiah. Rabbi was a common 
title, expressing the human authority of 
scholarship, a man of letters, a man who 
studies and knows the law. Jesus was 
no man of letters : He of course knew the 
law, but not by scholarly training ; He 
knew it as the will of His Father. He 
was far above all that could be 
meant by calling Him a rabbi. Nor 
would prophet have been sufficient to ex 
press His own self-appreciation ; there had 
been prophets in great number : He knew 
His position was unique ; the prophets had 
all been talking about a time of fulfilment 
to come : He was bringing this time. 
They all derived their authority from a 

JESUS 173 

special calling, from individual acts of 
inspiration : He did not need such call 
ing ; His understanding of God His 
Father was beyond all inspiration. So 
to express His unique position there was 
no other means than to adopt the title 
of Messiah, and to express His task 
there was no other way than to preach 
the kingdom of God, because the 
Messiah was to bring salvation, and the 
kingdom of God was the most compre 
hensive term for final salvation. Both 
notions undoubtedly included at that time 
many other things. So it has been said, 
with some appearance of truth, that Jesus, 
when adopting such terms in a sense 
different from the current one, was bound 
to give at the beginning of His teaching 
a clear statement about His own under 
standing of it. As He did not do so, 
He must, we are told, have taken the 

174 JESUS 

notions in their current sense, and we are 
bound to accept them in the realistic 
meaning of late Jewish eschatology. I 
do not think the presuppositions are right : 
Jesus was not a philosopher proceeding 
upon definitions and conclusions. He was 
a preacher, or rather, His way was preach 
ing. And we see Him going on slowly 
in His declarations. He likes to make 
men find out by themselves what He is. 
You remember His answer to the Baptist. 
He likes to put forth things in such a 
way that they are clear for those who 
are willing to understand, whereas others 
may guess as they like. Mark is surely 
not quite wrong in his statement regard 
ing the parabolic form of Jesus teaching 
parables including indeed, besides their 
proper aim of illustrating, some element 
of concealment. So it is easy enough to 
explain how the Messiahship of Jesus 

JESUS 175 

came to be looked upon by His disciples 
as a mystery not to be revealed to the 
people. There is Mio necessity for accept 
ing the ingenious, but rather too ingenious, 
theory of the late Professor W. Wrede 
(of Breslau), 1 who maintained this con 
ception of a mystery to involve the 
implicit confession that at a later time 
two opposite views were combined, viz., 
an earlier view regarding Jesus as Messiah 
only after His death and resurrection, and 
a later one taking Him as Messiah already 
in His lifetime. 

As an example of Jesus own way of 
dealing with His Messiahship, let us take 
His entrance into Jerusalem, which usually 
is declared to be the most solemn form 
of Messianic self-declaration. But where 
is the Messianic element? To ride upon 

1 Das Messiasgeheimnis in den Evangelien, 1901. 

176 JESUS 

an ass is a very common fashion, occurring 
frequently in Talmudic narratives regard 
ing celebrated rabbis. The devotion of 
His adherents in breaking branches from 
the trees and putting their garments in 
the way, is not so extraordinary in eastern 
lands as it may seem to western readers. 
Even the shouting, " Hosanna ! Blessed 
He who comes in the name of the Lord" 
is not by itself a clear statement of 
Messiahship, for Matthew, as a matter 
of fact, says that the people declared 
Jesus to be the prophet from Galilee 
(xxi. n). So His entrance was not 
interpreted as a royal one, as a solemn 
declaration of Messianic dignity. I quite 
agree that Jesus Himself meant to enter 
the capital of His people as the Messiah, 
and that by riding on an ass He intended 
to make allusion to the prophecy of 
Zechariah ; but the manner He chose 

JESUS 177 

for His entrance was very fit for declaring 
His Messianic dignity to those who were 
able and inclined to understand and to 
conceal it from the others. Whatever 
one may think of this behaviour, I am 
sure there is no other means of explaining 
the tradition. Jesus goes His way in 
the full consciousness of His unique 
position ; but while others would have 
spoken of their mission in the highest 
terms, He only preaches the kingdom 
of God, and chooses for Himself the 
lowest of all Messianic titles a title not 
even regarded as involving Messiahship 
by the mass of the people. He does His 
work, and He leaves it to His Father 
to reveal His Son to mankind. This He 
tells us in that famous saying called 
usually, according to Luke s introduction, 
" the Agalliasis" (Luke x. 21, 22; Matt, 
xi. 25, 27). Jesus is the Messiah. How- 

Eschatology. 13 

178 JESUS 

ever slow may be the understanding of 
His claim on the part of His disciples, 
He is the Messiah from the very begin 
ning of His public career, and not only, 
as has been said recently, 1 from the time 
of His transfiguration. This transfigura 
tion has significance not for Himself but 
for His disciples, the heavenly voice 
being not a declaration on the part of 
the Father to the Son, like that at the 
baptism, " Thou art My beloved Son, in 
whom I am well pleased" but rather a 
declaration to the witnesses on behalf of 
the Son, " This is My beloved Son: hear 
ye Him" (Mark ix. ;). 2 

1 Harnack, Spriiche Jesu, 138, n. i. 

2 Harnack (I.e. I72 2 ) is quite right insisting 
upon the priority of the Sohnesbewusstsein com 
pared with the Messiasbewusstsein ; but these two 
steps in the evolution of Jesus self-conscious 
ness correspond to the period before his public 

JESUS 179 

Jesus not only preaches the kingdom 
of heaven, He brings it by casting out 
devils and forgiving sins, by healing 
diseases and filling men with a new spirit, 
by spreading around Himself an atmo 
sphere of happiness and salvation. Who 
ever enjoys in company with Him His 
complete communion with God, belongs 
to the kingdom and gets all its 

All this belongs to what we called the 
transmuted eschatology ; this best ex 
presses Jesus proper view. The second 
group of sayings, however small it may 
be, is the most conspicuous : Jesus the 
Messiah, i.e., the Saviour bringing actual 
and present salvation to all those who 
follow Him, salvation indeed in a purely 

ministry and during it, not to two parts of His 
public life. 

180 JESUS 

religious and moral sense, very different 
from what people expected : " Blessed are 
ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." 
(c) There still remains the first group 
of purely eschatological sayings, and we 
have now to try to make out their signi 
ficance for Jesus Himself and His dis 
ciples. Thinking of Jesus as a teacher 
of systematic theology, one would be 
inclined to say : Granted that Jesus was 
persuaded that He was the Messiah in 
the true religious sense of the word 
and brought salvation to His people, 
there was no need of talking about 
a future kingdom of God or of a 
coming again in the clouds of heaven. 
These are notions belonging to a former 
stage of religious insight, and corrected 
and overthrown by Jesus own new views. 
Transmuted eschatology makes eschatology 
an unnecessary and even wrong suppo- 


1 81 

sition. So one could argue ; but * 

not think that this is right. Jesus, look 
ing upon the misunderstanding and even 
hatred with which He met, could not 
think of His actual work as being the 
final establishment of God s kingdom. 
Jesus reading the Holy Scriptures could 
not help acknowledging that the pro 
phecies wanted some other fulfilment. 
Being convinced that He was the Messiah, 
and that He was bringing salvation to 
His people and all mankind, He had to 
look forward to a final success, and it was 
only in the forms given by the prophets 
of old and by the apocalyptic tradition 
that He could imagine it. Being sure 
that He represented in Himself the cul 
mination of the religious history of His 
people, He could only think of Himself, 
trained as He was in Jewish views, as 
standing at the end of history, at the 


meeting-point of the two ages. Thus 
His coming back with the clouds of 
heaven in the glory of the Father and 
the holy angels must needs occur in a 
very short time. This, I think, is the 
way in which one may easily explain how 
Jesus came to accept the eschatological 
views of His time. Conservative as He 
was, I think this was only natural for 
Him (if we are allowed to apply psycho 
logy to so exceptional a case). He did 
but add eschatological expectation to His 
conviction of being already in an eschato 
logical relationship to the world, the term 
being understood in the transmuted sense. 
It was an inevitable consequence of His 
trust in God His Father. God could not 
leave His work undone or only half done. 
He would certainly bring it to a plain 
issue. He was bound to fulfil all His pro 
mises. Salvation, as brought by Jesus, was 

JESUS 183 

only an individual and inward experience ; 
it ought to be some collective and outward 
fact. It is, as we have seen, characteristic 
of Jesus eschatological teaching, that He 
makes no efforts to get a more detailed 
view of eschatology ; He confines Himself 
to repeating the outlines of what was 
given by prophetic and apocalyptic tradi 
tion, emphasising only two points, viz., 
the responsibility of men regarding the 
coming judgment and that He Himself 
is the Son of Man, who will pronounce 
judgment. As He expressly says about 
the time, that no one, not even the Son, 
but only the Father knows it, so He 
leaves to the Father also the form in 
which all that is to be expected will be 
fulfilled. He only expresses His own 
opinion that it will happen soon, so that 
men must be prepared, and that it will 
be glorious, so that He Himself will be 


184 JESUS 

justified even in the eyes of His enemies, 
who condemned Him to death. 

If we take it in this fashion, we shall 

easily come to a fair understanding. And 

we shall, I think, discover at the same 

. time how to deal with the difficult ques- 


tion whether Jesus was misled in His 

In fact, He did not come back in the 
clouds of heaven in the lifetime of His 
own generation. He has not come yet. 
The history of the world did not come 
to an end soon after mankind reached its 
highest religious level in Jesus ; it has 
continued through many centuries, going 
up and down, mankind falling back to a 
lower standard and climbing again, but 
never reaching the height represented in 
Jesus. So He was wrong in His expec 
tation. Was He really? If we keep to 
the letter of His words, we cannot help 

JESUS 185 

agreeing that He was wrong regarding 
the outward form of His predictions, and 
especially the time of God s fulfilment. 
But this does not involve, I am sure, 
any imperfection on His side, any more 
than His opinion about the sun as a 
star going around the earth, or about the 
Pentateuch as a book written by Moses. 
In all these respects He was a Jew of 
His time. But as we have remarked 
already, the form of His expectation was 
unimportant even for Himself. He left 
it to His Father how and when He 
would realise it. His belief was that 
His work and His own person could not 
be overthrown, that His work, confined 
as it was to a small circle, should gain 
universal importance and undisputed 
success, and that He Himself should be 
acknowledged by every man as what He 
was : the king of the kingdom of God. 


Now in this expectation He was not 
wrong. His work has gone on through 
His death and resurrection in a wonderful 
way : the Church founded by His disciples 
upon belief in His name, has spread 
through the world, and will so we hope 
gain the whole earth. He Himself is 
acknowledged and adored as the Son of 
God by millions and millions of believers. 
Looking back through history, we may 
see His work in the judgment upon His 
nation, the Holy City being destroyed 
and the nation scattered over the world. 
So far Luke s interpretation is right ; only 
it is the view of a later time looking upon 
Jesus prophecies in the light of a fulfil 
ment, which even He Himself did not 
imagine. We may truly say that it 
pleased God to fulfil Jesus words thus, 
but we would be guilty of false witness 
if we dared to maintain that Jesus 


Himself expressed this as His own 


Beside this historical ex eventn interpre 
tation, there is another, which is regarded 
by many a pious Christian as the true 
one. I mean the interpretation given to 
the eschatological sayings in the Fourth 
Gospel. I have avoided up till now 
making use of this Gospel, the reason 
for which will be seen presently. Our 
research, however, would not be com 
plete if we did not at least glance at it. 

As a specimen I select two passages 
dealing with Jesus coming (xiv. 15-29), 
and with the judgment (v. 19-29), two 
notions of undoubted eschatological origin. 

(a) It is rather hard to say what the 
coming in chap. xiv. may be meant to 


be. As the sayings concerning this idea 
are placed now between other sayings 
dealing with the coming of the Comforter, 
one would feel inclined to say : it is 
Jesus coming by His Spirit ; it is at 
Pentecost that this promise was fulfilled. 
But there is evidently some distinction 
between the sending of the Comforter and 
the coming of Jesus Himself. When we 
compare chap. xvi. v. 16, "A little while, 
and ye behold Me no more {ye shall not 
see Me, A.V.), and again a little while, 
and ye shall see Me" we feel compelled 
to think of the appearances of the risen 
Lord. And this would suit very well 
the question of that other Judas (chap, 
xiv. v. 22): "Lord, what is come to pass 
that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, 
and not unto the world?" The risen 
Lord appeared, as has been remarked 
from the earliest time, only to His 


believers, and the Greek used here, 
ffHt>avifav lawov, is a technical term for 
appearances of healing gods who come to 
visit these adherents in dreams. But let 
us look more closely at the two verses, 
xvi. 1 6 and xiv. 19, and it will appear 
that there is a marked difference. The 
former, "A little while, and ye behold 
Me no more, and again a little while, and 
ye see Me" has certainly to do with 
death and resurrection. But the latter in 
the passage before us, "Yet a little while, 
and the world beholdeth Me no more, but 
ye behold Me ; because I live, < and > ye 
shall live also" runs quite differently. It 
is the abiding communion of the Lord 
with His disciples, unbroken even by 
death, which finds here a splendid exposi 
tion. That this is the true meaning will 
be seen by the answer given to Judas : 
"If a man love Me, he will keep My 


word, and My Father will love him, and 
WE will come unto him and make our 
abode with him." It is impossible not to 
see that this means nothing else than an 
inward dwelling of God and of the Lord 
in the hearts of Christians, what we may 
call mystical union, although St. John 
understands it rather in an ethical than 
in a mystical way. Even this idea of an 
indwelling God can be traced back to an 
eschatological conception, found in the 
Old Testament prophets : God abiding in 
the midst of His people, either in the 
temple of His Holy City, or perhaps, as 
it is put in the Christian apocalypse, 
instead of the temple. There is no need 
of sunlight, God Himself being in their 
midst. But you will easily observe how 
much this is altered. There is no more 
eschatology ; its place has been taken by 
mysticism; the nation has given place to 


the individual. Instead of dwelling in the 
midst of His people, God is dwelling 
inwardly in the hearts of the individual 
believers. Now when we ask, Is this 
Jesus or is it a Johannine conception, 
one may at first sight be inclined to 
think of it as a genuine utterance of the 
Lord. It is very like what we have 
called transmuted eschatology. I need 
only remind you of our interpretation of 
the word Ivroc V/ULUV (Luke xvii. 21), which 
we found to represent Jesus own teach 
ing, that the kingdom is "within you," 
i.e., something inward, an experience of 
the heart, a rule governing man s will. 
But we must remark the very important 
difference it is the kingdom of God 
which is here spoken of, not God or 
Jesus ; it is a purely ethical inwardness, 
expressed by these words, while there is 
some mystical element in the words as 


given by the Fourth Gospel, personal 
union between God and man, Jesus and 
man. And this is not an original view 
of Jesus : it is, however, what we find 
in St. John elsewhere. We need only 
compare Revelation iii. 20 : " Behold, I 
stand at the door and knock : if any man 
hear My voice and often the door, I will 
come in to him, and will sup with him, 
and he with Me." It is the well-known 
eschatological notion of a Messianic 
supper, where all the saints will be at 
table with the Son of Man and the 
patriarchs. Only it is not said here, 
" He who hears My voice shall enter 
into the wedding and sit down at My 
table," but, " I will come in to him and 
will sup with him." It is again an inward 
and individual experience instead of an 
outward and collective fact ; the eschato 
logical picture is turned into some mystical 


idea. Here we have the Johannine con 
ception as we found it in the Gospel. 
So I venture to say : The coming of the 
Lord promised by Himself as an outward 
eschatological act is changed into an 
inward mystical experience by this Johan 
nine colouring of His words. I quite 
agree that there is some connexion with 
one line of Jesus thoughts. His concep 
tion of the ethical inwardness of religion 
reacted upon the eschatological ideas, and 
out of this combination there arose what 
we rightly may call the Johannine 
mysticism. Only, in order to understand 
this process thoroughly, we must re 
member that it was not in Palestine but 
in Asia Minor that St. John whoever 
he was lived ; that he was surrounded 
by a Hellenistic atmosphere ; and that 
this, full of mysticism, helped to trans 
form his Jewish conceptions. The ethical 

Eschatology. 14 


inwardness of Jesus and the mysticism of 
Hellenistic religion had to co-operate in 
order to produce this change of attitude. 
So it happened that the idea of the 
Parousia was turned into the idea of 
Jesus coming into the hearts of His 

This interpretation, however, does not 
account for the whole passage we are 
dealing with. We do not reach the full 
meaning of its content if we confine our 
selves to this mystical colouring of the 
original eschatological conception. There 
is another element in it, which we may 
call an historical adaptation : the coming 
of Jesus is understood as meaning the 
appearances of the risen Lord. This at 
least is the meaning of some words in 
these chapters, as we have seen before, 
the promises of Jesus that He would come 
again being interpreted from the experi- 


ences of the earliest Christianity as ful 
filled in the appearances of the risen 

Another experience was the coming of 
the Holy Ghost, and this led to the juxta 
position of the sayings regarding the 
Comforter with the sayings about Jesus 
own coming, with the result that the 
latter may now be understood as identical 
with the former. 

So we may rightly distinguish a triple 
stratification: (i) the underlying eschato- 
logical one, representing Jesus own view ; 
(2) the mystical one, which we may call 
the main Johannine stratum ; and (3) a 
twofold historical adaptation : Jesus coming 
is to be seen in His appearances or in 
His sending the Comforter; both these 
adaptations may be attributed to a later 
stage of Johannine thought, represented 
by the author of the Fourth Gospel, 


whom I believe to have been a pupil of 
John the Presbyter, the Elder of Ephesus. 
(b) The other passage which I choose 
as an illustration is found in chap. v. 
w. 19-29. This passage deals with resur 
rection and judgment, two notions which 
undoubtedly belong to the eschatological 
stock of late Jewish doctrines, and are 
found in Jesus teaching in their original 
meaning. But here in the Fourth Gospel 
we have them coloured almost to an 
opposite meaning. Except the last two 
verses, the passage in question deals en 
tirely with the spiritual experiences of 
Christianity. The judgment or, as I 
would prefer to translate, the discrimina 
tion between good and bad happens not 
at the end of the world, but, as it is 
said in chap. iii. w. 18-21, when Jesus 
preaches (or the gospel is preached) and 
one man believes and the other refuses. 


This is what the Fourth Gospel calls the 
judgment, a self-going-on process, an auto 
matic judgment upon the moral work of 
men : those who do well will be attracted 
by the light of the gospel, those who do 
badly will withdraw from this light. And 
so their fate will be decided without any 
special judgment having to be pronounced 
on the part of God. This is called 17 K pi<ng, 
the judgment (R.V.), or, as the Authorised 
Version has it, the condemnation. So it is 
said : "He that heareth My word, and 
believeth Him that sent Me, hath eternal 
life, and cometh not into judgment but 
hath passed out of death into life " (or, is 
passed from death unto life, A.V.). This 
gives the old notion of resurrection, but 
changed into something inward, so that 
it reminds us of the teaching of the 
Gnostics, as given by the Pastoral 
Epistles, that the resurrection has already 


taken place (avdaraaiv rjSrj ytyovEvcu, 2 Tim. 

ii. 1 8). This spiritualising tendency of 
Johannine teaching is best seen in chap, 
v. v. 25, " Verily, verily, I say unto you, 
the hour cometh, and now is, when the 
dead shall hear the voice of the Son of 
God, and they that hear shall live." This 
sounds purely eschatological, very like the 
description of the great act of resurrec 
tion as we find it e.g. in St. Paul s first 
letter to the Thessalonians (iv. 16), "For 
the Lord Himself shall descend from 
heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the 
archangel, and with the trump of God: 
and the dead in Christ shall rise first 
But as it stands in John v. it cannot be 
taken in this eschatological sense, but 
only in a spiritual one : the dead are men 
dead in their sin ; the voice of the Son 
of God is the preaching of Jesus ; not all 
are listening to it, only some hear it, i.e. 


credit Him, believe in Him ; those who 
believe gain life, not only a life of future 
time, but life in the full sense of the 
word, presently. 

This meaning here is unmistakable. 
But the Fourth Gospel does not stop 
here ; it goes on supplementing the in 
ward spiritual view by an outward escha- 
tological outlook, and thereby distinguish 
ing Johannine theology from the doctrine 
of Gnostic heretics. We read nearly the 
same words again, only a few verses later 
on, v. 28, 29, but now in a clear eschato- 
logical form: "Marvel not at this; for 
the hoiir cometh, in which all that are 
in the tombs shall hear His voice, and 
shall come forth, they that have done good, 
unto the resurrection of life, and they that 
have done ill, unto the resurrection of 
judgment" (or better, damnation, A.V.). 
It is quite clear : these verses are dealing 


with some future event there is no word 
about the hour being now, as in v. 25 ; 
they speak of a general resurrection 
there is no distinction between those who 
hear and those who do not hear ; they 
indicate a bodily resurrection "all that 
are in the tombs " is not susceptible of a 
spiritual interpretation as " the dead" of 
v. 25. There are two different notions 
of life expressed in these two verses : 
inward, present, spiritual ; and external, 
future, in one word, eschatological. 
Chap. v. vv. 28, 29 gives indeed the 
description of what is called in Revela 
tion xx. 7-15 the second resurrection, 
only that which precedes in v. 25 does 
not correspond to the first resurrection in 
Revelation xx. 1-6. It is not so much a 
first and a second resurrection as a re 
generation and then a resurrection. Of 
course, vv. 28, 29, as they are put now, 


are meant to be an explanatory repeti 
tion, a corroboration and at the same 
time an interpretation of v. 25. But taken 
in their proper sense, they deal with two 
quite different notions and originate in 
different conceptions ; vv. 28, 29 give the 
current popular eschatology in its realistic 
form, which has been transmuted by 
spiritualising in v. 25. The curious phe 
nomenon here is that the transmuted 
eschatology appears as the main line, the 
underlying popular eschatology only as an 
additional feature. 

Now this comes very near to what we 
found in Jesus own teaching : transmuted 
eschatology with an additional element of 
real eschatology ; it is, however, not 
quite the same. There is a slight dif 
ference which prevents us from tracing 
back this Johannine tradition immediately 
to Jesus Himself. He never speaks of 


the judgment as some inward experience 
of man : to Him it is some future event. 
He often talks about entering into life, 
but never as done by the very act of 
believing in His word : to do so is a 
privilege granted by God or His Messiah 
in a future time. On the other side, the 
idea of a bodily resurrection of all man 
kind on the day of judgment, so common 
in late Jewish literature and not un 
common even in the Synoptic Gospels, 
belongs rather to that stratum of later 
eschatological additions which we recog 
nised there in our first lecture. 

Here we may stop our inquiry into the 
Johannine branch of Gospel - tradition. 
The two illustrations I ventured to give 
will be sufficient, I trust, to show the 
complicated nature of Johannine doctrines, 
and what I think to be the right way of 


dealing with them. There are different 
stratifications, as modern research (Wendt, 
Spitta, Bacon, Wellhausen, Ed. Schwartz) has 
made more and more conspicuous. 1 Beside 
some genuine sayings of the Lord, we 
have what may be called the Johannine 
tradition, resting largely upon original con 
ceptions of Jesus, but transforming them 
in the direction of mysticism ; and then 
we have some additional matter, in our 
case the real eschatology, which perhaps 
may be traced back to the author of the 
Fourth Gospel, as distinguished from St. 
John ; it is, however, possible that it 
belongs to a later redaction, of which 
chap. xxi. gives ample proof. 

The main Johannine stratum, with its 
characteristics of individualistic, ethical, 
inward transformation of the current 
Jewish eschatology, bears signs of close 

1 Cp. H. L. Jackson, The Fourth Gospel, 1908. 


affinity to the gospel of Jesus ; but at the 
same time there is a marked difference : 
the Johannine doctrine has a distinct 
touch of mysticism, which is entirely 
wanting in the teaching of Jesus, and is 
to be explained by Hellenistic influences. 
The validity of this distinction being 
granted, we may, without fear of mis 
understanding, declare that we take the 
Johannine doctrine as an approximately 
good expression of Jesus own views. 
The mystical inwardness of St. John 
certainly approaches far more nearly to 
Jesus real meaning than the enlarging 
and enforcing of His eschatological utter 
ances which we remarked in some pas 
sages of the Synoptic Gospels, especially 
St. Matthew. However strong Jesus 
belief in eschatology might have been, it 
was only of secondary importance for His 
religious life, and for His teaching. It 


was a misunderstanding on the part of 
primitive Christianity when they laid the 
greatest stress on this side of the gospel. 
It may be called even a sign of decline 
that the expectation of some outward, 
realistic event overgrew the joyful ex 
perience of inward, present salvation. 
Later Christianity, when following the 
Johannine line of thought, came nearer to 
the true intention of Jesus Himself, not 
withstanding His own belief in realistic 

Christianity is and will ever be the 
religion of sure salvation, brought by 
Jesus and to be experienced by His 
believers already during their present life. 
This does not exclude Christian hope. 
On the contrary, the more present salva 
tion is experienced in mankind, the 
stronger Christian hope will be. This is 
the great lesson given to us by Jesus 


Himself ; He realised in Himself the 
complete and supreme communion with 
God, and yet He looked forward to a 
time of final salvation. He was the Son 
of God, and He had to bring salvation ; 
but His gospel reached only few, and only 
individuals realised what was given to 
them in Jesus! However fully they sub 
mitted their own will to God, there were 
powers of evil outside them. The 
kingdom of God is not established so 
long as its dominion is only recognised 
by individuals ; it wants to be collective, 
universal. Jesus victory over Satan, His 
casting out of devils, was only an 

And this is the abiding truth in 
eschatology : it is to be sought not in the 
particulars of Jesus coming and similar 
details, but in the fact that we have to 
expect and to pray for a state of things 


in which God s dominion will be fully 
established, and all obstacles, all evil 
energies finally destroyed. 1 We have 
seen in St. John s Gospel and the later 
history of Christianity affords plenty of 
similar examples that this looking out 
for some external real change is well 
combined with the finest and best inward 
ness. The Christian is a new creature, 
but he looks for a new heaven and a new 
earth, and his prayer will be for ever as 
His Lord taught him : " Thy kingdom 


1 Cp. Dr. Kolbing (formerly Principal of the 
Moravian Seminary at Gnadenfeld) : Die bleibende 
Bedeutung der urchristlichen Eschatologie, 1907. 

tTbc (Sreebam pres0, 



f lf?