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The Quest of the Historical Jesus

* XII *


Charles Christian Hennell. Untersuchungen fiber den Ursprung des Christentums. (An Inquiry concerning the Origin of Christianity.) 1840. With a preface by David Friedrich Strauss. English edition, 1838.

Vichtige Enthullungen fiber die wirkliche Todesart Jesu. Nach einem alten zu Alexandria gefundenen Manuskripte von einem Zeitgenossen Jesu aus dem heiligen Orden der Essaer. (Important Disclosures concerning the Manner of Jesus' Death. From an ancient MS. found at Alexandria, written by a con- temporary of Jesus belonging to the sacred Order of the Essenes.) 1849. 5th ed., Leipzig. (Anonymous.)

Historische Enthullungen liber die wirklichen Ereignisse der Geburt und Jugend Jesu. Als Fortsetzung der zu Alexandria augefundenen alten Urkunden aus dem Essaerorden. (Historical Disclosures concerning the real circumstances of the Birth and Youth of Jesus. A Continuation of the ancient Essene MS. discovered at Alexandria.) 1849. 2nd ed., Leipzig.

August Friedrich Gfrorer. Kritische Geschichte des Urchristentums. (Critical History of Primitive Christianity.)
Vol. i. 1st ed., 1831; 2nd, 1835. Part i. 543 pp.; Part ii. 406 pp.
Vol. ii. 1838. Part i. 452 pp.; Part ii. 417 pp.

Richard von der Alm. (Pseudonym of Friedrich Wilhelm Ghillany.) Theologische Briefe an die Gebildeten der deutschen Nation, 1863. (Theological Letters to the Cultured Classes of the German People, 1863.) Vol. i. 929 pp.; Vol. ii. 656 pp.; Vol. iii. 802 pp.

Ludwig Noack. Die Geschichte Jesu auf Grund freier geschichtlicher Untersu- chungen iiber das Evangelium und die Evangelien. (The History of Jesus on the Basis of a free Historical Inquiry regarding the Gospel and the Gospels.) 2nd ed., 1876, Mannheim. Book i. 251 pp.; Book ii. 187 pp.; Book iii. 386 pp.; Book iv. 285 pp.

STRAUSS CAN HARDLY BE SAID TO HAVE DONE HIMSELF HONOUR BY CONTRIBUTIMG a preface to the translation of Hennell's work, which is nothing more than Venturini's "Non-miraculous History of the Great Prophet of Nazareth" tricked out with a fantastic paraphernalia of learning. [1]

[1] Hennell, a London merchant, withdrew himself from his business pursuits for two years in order to make the preparatory studies for this Life of Jesus. [He is best known as a friend of George Eliot, who was greatly interested and influenced by the "Inquiry."—TRANSLATOR.] To the same category as Hennell's work belongs the Vohlgeprilfte Darstellung des Lebens Jesu. (An Account of the Life of Jesus based on the closest Examination) of the Heidelberg mathematician, Karl von Langsdorf. Mannheim, 1831. Supplement, with preface to a future second edition, 1833.


The two series of "Important Disclosures" also are really "conveyed" with no particular ability from that classic romance of the Life of Jesus, but that did not prevent their making something of a sensation at the time when they appeared. [1] Jesus, according to his narrative, was the son of a member of the Essene Order. The child was watched over by the Order and prepared for His future mission. He entered on His public ministry as a tool of the Essenes, who after the crucifixion took Him down from the cross and resuscitated Him.

These "Disclosures" only preserve the more external features of Venturini's representation. His Life of Jesus had been more than a mere romance, it had been an imaginative solution of problems which he had intuitively perceived. It may be regarded as the Forerunner of rationalistic criticism. The problems which Venturini had intuitively perceived were not solved either by the rationalists, or by Strauss, or by Weisse. These writers had not succeeded in providing that of which Venturini had dreamed—a living purposeful connexion between the events of the life of Jesus—or in explaining His Person and Work as having a relation, either positive or negative, to the circumstances of Late Judaism. Venturini's plan, however fantastic, connects the life of Jesus with Jewish history and contemporary thought much more closely than any other Life of Jesus, for that connexion is of course vital to the plot of the romance. In Weisse's "Gospel History" criticism had deliberately renounced the attempt to explain Jesus directly from Judaism, finding itself unable to establish any connexion between His teach- ings and contemporary Jewish ideas. The way was therefore once more open to the imagination. Accordingly several imaginative Lives preluded a new era in the study of the subject, in so far as they endeavoured to understand Jesus on the basis of purely Jewish ideas, in some cases as affirming these, in others as opposing them in favour of a more spiritual conception. In Gfrorer, Richard von der Aim, and Noack, begins the skirmishing preparatory to the future battle over escha- tology. [2]

[1] Hase seems not to have recognised that the "Disclosures" were merely a plagiarism from Venturini. He mentions them in connexion with Bruno Bauer and appears to make him responsible for inspiring them; at least that is suggested by his formula of transition when he says: "It was primarily to him that the frivolous apocryphal hypotheses attached themselves." This is quite inaccurate. The anonymous epitomist of Venturini had nothing to do with Bauer, and had probably not read a line of his work. Venturini, whom he had read, he does not name.

[2] One of the most ingenious of the followers of Venturini was the French Jew Salvator. In his Jesus-Christ et sa doctrine (Paris, 2 vols., 1838), he seeks to prove that Jesus was the last representative of a mysticism which, drawing its nutriment from the other Oriental religions, was to be traced among the Jews from the time of Solomon onwards. In Jesus this mysticism allied itself with Messianic enthusiasm.

After He had lost consciousness upon the cross He was succoured by Joseph of Arimathea and Pilate's wife contrary to His own expectation and purpose. He ended His days among the Essenes.

Salvator looks to a spiritualised mystical Mosaism as destined to be the successful rival of Christianity.


August Friedrich Gfrorer, born in 1803 at Calw, was "Repetent" at the Tubingen theological seminary at the time when Strauss was studying there. After being curate at the principal church in Stuttgart for a year he gave up, in 1830, the clerical profession in order to devote himself wholly to his clerical studies.

By that time he had abandoned Christianity. In the preface to the first edition of the first volume of his work, he describes Christianity as a system which now only maintains itself by the force of custom, after having commended itself to antiquity "by the hope of the mystic Kingdom of the future world and having ruled the middle ages by the fear of the same future." By enunciating this view he has made an end, he thinks, of all high-flying Hegelian ideas, and being thus freed from all speculative prejudices he feels himself in a position to approach his task from a purely historical standpoint, with a view to showing how much of Christianity is the creation of one exceptional Personality, and how much belongs to the time in which it arose. In the first volume he describes how the transformation of Jewish theology in Alexandria re- acted upon Palestinian theology, and how it came to its climax in Philo. The great Alexandrian anticipated, according to Gfrorer, the ideas of Paul. His "Therapeutae" are identical with the Essenes. At the same period Judaea was kept in a ferment by a series of risings, to all of which the incentive was found in Messianic expectations. Then Jesus appeared. The three points to be investigated in His history are: what end He had in view; why He died; and what modifications His work underwent at the hands of the Apostles.

The second volume, entitled "The Sacred Legend," does not, however, carry out this plan. The works of Strauss and Weisse necessitated a new method of treatment. The fame of Strauss's achievement stirred Gfrorer to emulation, and Weisse, with his priority of Mark and rejection of John, must be refuted. The work is therefore almost a polemic against Weisse for his "want of historic sense," and ends in setting up views which had not entered into Gfrorer's mind at the time when he wrote his first volume.

The statements of Papias regarding the Synoptists, which Weisse followed, are not deserving of credence. For a whole generation and more the tradition about Jesus had passed from mouth to mouth, and it had absorbed much that was legendary. Luke was the first—as his preface shows—who checked that process, and undertook to separate what was


genuine from what was not. He is the most trustworthy of the Evangelists, for he keeps closely to his sources and adds nothing of his own, in contrast with Matthew who, writing at a later date, used sources of less value and invented matter of his own, which Gfrorer finds especially in the story of the passion in this Gospel. The lateness of Matthew is also evident from his tendency to carry over the Old Testament into the New. In Luke, on the other hand, the sources are so conscientiously treated that Gfrorer finds no difficulty in analysing the narrative into its component parts, especially as he always has a purely instinctive feeling "whenever a different wind begins to blow."

Both Gospels, however, were written long after the destruction of the holy city, since they do not draw their material from the Jerusalem tradition, but "from the Christian legends which had grown up in the neighbourhood of the Sea of Tiberias," and in consequence "mistakenly transferred the scene of Jesus' ministry to Galilee." For this reason it is not surprising "that even down into the second century many Christians had doubts about the truth of the Synoptics and ventured to express their doubts." Such doubts only ceased when the Church became firmly established and began to use its authority to suppress the objections of individuals. Mark is the earliest witness to doubts within the primitive Christian community regarding the credibility of his predecessors. Luke and Matthew are for him not yet sacred books; he desires to reconcile their inconsistencies, and at the same time to produce "a Gospel composed of materials of which the authenticity could be maintained even against the doubters." For this reason he omits most of the discourses, ignores the birth-story, and of the miracles retains only those which were most deeply embedded in the tradition. His Gospel was probably produced between 110 and 120. The "non-genuine" conclusion was a later addition, but by the Evangelist himself. Thus Mark proves that the Synoptists contain legendary matter even though they are separated from the events which they relate only by a generation and a half, or at most two generations. To show that there is nothing strange in this, Gfrorer gives a long catalogue of miracles found in historians who were contemporaries of the events which they describe, and in some cases were concerned in them—in this connexion Cortez affords him a rich storehouse of material. On the other hand, all objections against the genuineness of the Fourth Gospel collapse miserably. It is true that, like the others, it offers no historically accurate report of the discourses of Jesus. It pictures Him as the Logos-Christ and makes Him speak in this character; which Jesus certainly did not do. Inadvertently the author makes John the Baptist speak in the same way. That does not matter, however, for the historical conditions are rightly represented; rightly, because Jerusalem was the scene of the greater


part of the ministry, and the five Johannine miracles are to be retained. The healing of the nobleman's son, that of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, and that of the man blind from birth happened just as they are told. The story of the miracle at Cana rests on a misunderstanding, for the wine which Jesus provided was really the wedding-gift which He had brought with Him. In the raising of Lazarus a real case of apparent death is combined with a polemical exaggeration of it, the restoration to life becoming, in the course of controversy with the Jews, an actual resurrection. Having thus won free, dragging John along with him, from the toils of the Hegelian denial of miracle—only, it is true, by the aid of Venturini—and being prepared to explain the feeding of the multitude on the most commonplace rationalistic lines, he may well boast that he has "driven the doubt concerning the Fourth Gospel into a very small corner."

"The miserable era of negation," cries Gfrorer, "is now at an end; affirmation begins. We are ascending the eastern mountains from which the pure airs of heaven breathe upon the spirit. Our guide shall be historical mathematics, a science which is as yet known to few, and has not been applied by any one to the New Testament." This "mathematic" of Gfrorer's consists in developing his whole argument out of a single postulate. Let it be granted to him that all other claimants of the Messiahship—Gfrorer, in defiance of the evidence of Josephus, makes all the leaders of revolt in Palestine claimants of the Messiahship—were put to death by the Romans, whereas Jesus was crucified by His own people: it follows that the Messiahship of Jesus was not political, but spiritual. He had declared Himself to be in a certain sense the longed-for Messiah, but in another sense He was not so. His preaching moved in the sphere of Philonian ideas; although He did not as yet explicitly apply the Logos doctrine, it was implicit in His thought, so that the discourses of the Fourth Gospel have an essential truth. All Messianic conceptions, the Kingdom of God, the judgment, the future world, are sublimated into the spiritual region. The resurrection of the dead becomes a present eternal life. The saying in John v. 24, "He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath eternal life and cometh not into judgment; but is passed from death into life," is the only authentic part of that discourse. The reference which follows to the coming judgment and the resurrection of the dead is a Jewish interpolation. Jesus did not believe that He Himself was to rise from the dead. Nevertheless, the "resurrection" is historic; Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Essene Order, whose tool Jesus unconsciously was, had bribed the Romans to make the crucifixion of Jesus only a pretence, and to crucify two others with Him in order to distract attention from Him. After He was taken down from the cross, Joseph removed


Him to a tomb of his own which had been hewn out for the purpose in the neighbourhood of the cross, and succeeded in resuscitating Him. The Christian Church grew out of the Essene Order by giving a further development to its ideas, and it is impossible to explain the organisation of the Church without taking account of the regulations of the Order. The work closes with a rhapsody on the Church and its development into the Papal system.

Gfrorer thus works into Venturini's plan a quantity of material drawn from Philo. His first volume would have led one to expect a more original and scientific result. But the author is one of those "epileptics of criticism" for whom criticism is not a natural and healthy means of arriving at a result, but who, in consequence of the fits of criticism to which they are subject, and which they even endeavour to intensify, fall into a condition of exhaustion, in which the need for some fixed point becomes so imperative that they create it for themselves by self-suggestion—as they previously did their criticism—and then flatter themselves that they have really found it.

This need for a fixed point carried the former rival of Strauss into Catholicism, for which his "General History of the Church" (1841-1846) already shows a strong admiration. After the appearance of this work Gfrorer became Professor of History in the University of Freiburg. In 1848 he was active in the German Parliament in endeavouring to promote a reunion of the Protestants with the Catholics. In 1853 he went over to the Roman Church. His family had already gone over, at Strassburg, during the revolutionary period. In the conflict of the church with the Baden Government he vehemently supported the claims of the Pope. He died in 1861.

Incomparably better and more thorough is the attempt to write a Life of Jesus embodied in the "Theological Letters to the Cultured Classes of the German Nation." Their writer takes Gfrorer's studies as his starting-point, but instead of spiritualising unjustifiably he ventures to conceive the Jewish world of thought in which Jesus lived in its simple realism. He was the first to place the eschatology recognised by Strauss and Reimarus in an historical setting—that of Venturini's plan—and to write a Life of Jesus entirely governed by the idea of eschatology.

The author, Friedrich Wilhelm Ghillany, was born in 1807 at Eriangen. His first studies were in theology. His rationalistic views, however, compelled him to abandon the clerical profession. He became librarian at Nuremberg in 1841 and engaged in controversial writing of an anti-orthodox character, but distinguished himself also by historical work of outstanding merit. A year after the publication of the "Theological Letters." which he issued under the pseudonym of Richard


von der Alm, he published a collection of "The Opinions of Heathen and Christian Writers of the first Christian Centuries about Jesus Christ" (1864), a work which gives evidence of a remarkable range of reading. In 1855 he removed to Munich in the hope of obtaining a post in the diplomatic service, but in spite of his solid acquirements he did not succeed. No one would venture to appoint a man of such outspoken anti-ecclesiastical views. He died in 1876.

As regards the question of the sources, Ghillany occupies very nearly the Tubingen standpoint, except that he holds Matthew to be later than Luke, and Mark to be extracted, not from these Gospels in their present form, but from their sources. John is not authentic.

The worship offered to Jesus after His death by the Christian community is, according to Ghillany, not derived from pure Judaism, but from a Judaism influenced by oriental religions. The influence of the cult of Mithra, for example, is unmistakable. In it, as in Christianity, we find the virgin-birth, the star, the wise men, the cross, and the resurrection. Were it not for the human sacrifice of the Mithra cult, the idea which is operative in the Supper, of eating and drinking the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, would be inexplicable.

The whole Eastern world was at that time impregnated with Gnostic ideas, which centred in the revelation of the Divine in the human. In this way there arose, for example, a Samaritan Gnosis, independent of the Christian. Christianity itself is a species of Gnosis. In any case the metaphysical conception of the Divine Sonship of Jesus is of secondary origin. If He was in any sense the Son of God for the disciples, they can only have thought of this sonship in a Gnostic fashion, and supposed that the "highest angel," the Son of God, had taken up His abode in Him.

John the Baptist had probably come forth from among the Essenes, and he preached a spiritualised Kingdom of Heaven. He held himself to be Elias. Jesus' aims were originally similar; He came forward "in the cause of sound religious teaching for the people." He made no claim to Davidic descent; that is to be credited to dogmatic theology. Similarly Papias is wrong in ascribing to Jesus the crude eschatological expectations implied in the saying about the miraculous vine in the Messianic Kingdom.

It is certain, however, that Jesus held Himself to be Messiah and expected the early coming of the Kingdom. His teaching is Rabbinic; all His ideas have their source in contemporary Judaism, whose world of thought we can reconstruct from the Rabbinic writings; for even if these only became fixed at a later period, the thoughts on which they are based were already current in the time of Jesus. Another source of great importance is Justin's "Dialogue with the Jew Trypho."


The starting-point in interpreting the teaching of Jesus is the idea of repentance. In the tractate "Sanhedrin" we find: "The set time of the Messiah is already here; His coming depends now upon repentance and good works. Rabbi Eleazer says, 'When the Jews repent they shall be redeemed.'" The Targum of Jonathan observes, on Zech. x. 3, 4,1 "The Messiah is already born, but remains in concealment because of the sins of the Hebrews." We find the same thoughts put into the mouth of Trypho in Justin. In the same Targum of Jonathan, Isa. liii. is interpreted with reference to the sufferings of the Messiah. Judaism, therefore, was not unacquainted with the idea of a suffering Messiah. He was not identified, however, with the heavenly Messiah of Daniel. The Rabbis distinguished two Messiahs, one of Israel and one of Judah. First the Messiah of the Kingdom of Israel, denominated the Son of Joseph, was to come from Galilee to suffer death at the hands of the Gentiles in order to make atonement for the sins of the Hebrew nation. Only after that would the Messiah predicted by Daniel, the son of David, of the tribe of Judah, appear in glory upon the clouds of heaven. Finally, He also, after two-and-sixty weeks of years, should be taken away, since the Messianic Kingdom, even as conceived by Paul, was only a temporary supernatural condition of the world.

The Messianic expectation, being directed to supernatural events, had no political character, and one who knew Himself to be the Messiah could never dream of using earthly means for the attainment of His ends; He would expect all things to be brought about by the Divine intervention. In this respect Ghillany grasps clearly the character of the eschatology of Jesus—more clearly than any one had ever done before.

The role of the Messiah, who prior to His supernatural manifestation remains in concealment upon earth, is therefore passive. He who is conscious of a Messianic vocation does not seek to found a Kingdom among men. He waits with confidence. He issues forth from His passivity with the sole purpose of making atonement, by vicarious suffering, for the sins of the people, in order that it may be possible for God to bring about the new condition of things. If, in spite of the repentance of the people and the occurrence of the signs which pointed to its being at hand, the coming of the Kingdom should be delayed, the man who is conscious of a Messianic vocation must, by His death, compel the intervention of God. His vocation in this world is to die.

Brought within the lines of these reflections the Life of Jesus shapes itself as follows.

Jesus was the tool of a mystical sect allied to the Essenes, the head of which was doubtless that Joseph of Arimathea who makes so sudden

[1] The reference should be Micah iv. 8.—F. C. B.


and striking an appearance in the Gospel narrative. This party de- sired to bring about the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven by mystical means, whereas the mass of the people, led astray by the Pharisees, thought to force on its coming by means of a rising. In the preacher of a spiritual Kingdom of Heaven, who was resolved to go to death for His cause, the mystical party discovered Messiah the son of Joseph, and they recognised that His death was necessary to make possible the coming of the heavenly Messiah predicted by Daniel. That Jesus Himself was the Messiah of Daniel, that He would immediately rise again in order to ascend to His heavenly throne, and would come thence with the hosts of heaven to establish the Kingdom of Heaven, these people did not themselves believe. But they encouraged Him in this belief, thinking that he would hardly commit Himself to a sacrificial death from which there was to be no resurrection. It was left uncertain to His mind whether Jehovah would be content with the repentance of the people, in so far as it had taken place, as realising the necessary condition for the bringing in of the Kingdom of Heaven, or whether an atonement by blood, offered by the death of Messiah the son of Joseph, v/ould be needful. It had been explained to Him that when the calculated year of grace arrived, He must go up to Jerusalem and endeavour to rouse the Jews to Messianic enthusiasm in order to compel Jehovah to come to their aid with His heavenly hosts. From the action of Jehovah it could then be discovered whether the preaching of repentance and baptism would suffice to make atonement for the people before God or not. If Jehovah did not appear, a deeper atonement must be made; Jesus must pay the penalty of death for the sins of the Jews, but on the third day would rise again from the dead and ascend to the throne of God and come again thence to found the Kingdom of Heaven. "Any one can see," concludes Ghillany, "that our view affords a very natural explanation of the anxiety of the disciples, the suspense of Jesus Himself, and the prayer, 'If it be possible let this cup pass from me.' "

"It was apparently only towards the close of His life that Jesus revealed to the disciples the possibility that the Son of Man might have to suffer and die before He could found the Messianic Kingdom."

With this possibility before Him, He came to Jerusalem and there awaited the Divine intervention. Meanwhile Joseph of Arimathea lent his aid towards securing His condemnation in the Sanhedrin. He must die on the day of the Passover; on the day of the Preparation He must be at hand and ready in Jerusalem. He held, with His disciples, a love-feast after the Essene custom, not a Paschal meal, and in doing so associated thoughts of His death with the breaking of bread and the pouring out of the wine. "He did not lay upon His disciples any injunction to continue the celebration of a feast of this kind until the


time of His return, because He thought of His resurrection and His heavenly glory as about to take place after three days. But when His return was delayed the early Christians attached these sayings of His about the bread and wine to their Essene love-feast, and explained this common meal of the community as a commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus and His disciples, a memorial Feast in honour of their Saviour, the celebration of which must be continued until His coming."

When the armed band came to arrest Him, Jesus surrendered to His fate. Pilate almost set Him free, holding Him to be a mere enthusiast who placed His hopes only in the Divine intervention. Joseph of Arimathea, however, succeeded in averting this danger. "Even on the cross lesus seems to have continued to hope for the Divine intervention, as is evidenced by the cry, 'My God! My God! why hast thou forsaken me?'" Joseph of Arimathea provided for His burial.

The belief in His resurrection rests upon the visions of the disciples, which are to be explained by their intense desire for the Parousia, of which He had given them the promise. After setting their affairs in order in Galilee they returned at the Feast of Pentecost to Jerusalem, which they had left in alarm, in order there to await the Parousia in company with other Galilaean believers.

The confession of faith of the primitive Christian community was the simplest conceivable: Jesus the Messiah had come, not as a temporal conqueror, but as the Son of Man foretold by Daniel, and had died for the sins of the people. In other respects they were strict Jews, kept the Law, and were constantly in the Temple. Only the community of goods and the brotherhood-meal are of an Essene character.

"The Christianity of the original community in Jerusalem was thus a mixture of Zealotism and Mysticism which did not include any wholly new element, and even in its conception of the Messiah had nothing peculiar to itself except the belief that the Son of Man predicted by Daniel had already come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth . . . that He was now enthroned at the right hand of God, and would again appear as the expected Son of Man upon the clouds of heaven according to Daniel's prophecy." Jesus, therefore, had triumphed over the mystical party who desired to make use of Him in the character of Messiah the son of Joseph—their Messiah, the heavenly Son of Man, had not come. Jesus, in virtue of what He had done, had taken His place both in heaven and in earth.

How much of Venturini's plan is here retained? Only the "mystical part" which serves the purpose of setting the action of the drama in motion. All the rest of it, the rationalistic part, has been transmuted into an historical conception. Miracle and trickery, along with the stage-play resurrection, have been purged away in the fires of Strauss's criticism.


There remains only a fundamental conception which has a certain greatness—a brotherhood which looks for the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven appoints one of its members to undergo as Messiah an atoning death, that the coming of the Kingdom, for which the time is at hand, may not be delayed. This brotherhood is the only fictitious element in the whole construction—much as in the primitive steam-engine the valves were still worked by hand while the rest of the machinery was actuated by its own motive-power. So in this Life of Jesus the motive-power is drawn entirely from historical sources, and the want of an automatic starting arrangement is a mere anachronism. Strike out the superfluous role of Joseph of Arimathea, and the distinction of the two Messiahs, which is not clear even in the Rabbis, and substitute the simple hypothesis that Jesus, in the course of His Messianic vocation, when He thinks the time for the coming of the Kingdom has arrived, goes freely to Jerusalem, and, as it were, compels the secular power to put Him to death, in order by this act of atonement to win for the world the immediate coming of the Kingdom, and for Himself the glory of the Son of Man—make these changes, and you have a life of Jesus in which the motive-power is a purely historical force. It is impossible to indicate briefly all the parts of which the seemingly complicated, but in reality impressively simple, mechanism of this Life of Jesus is composed. The conduct of Jesus, alike in its resolution and in its hesitation, becomes clear, and not less so that of the disciples. All far-fetched historical ingenuity is dispensed with. Jesus acts "because His hour is come." This decisive placing of the Life of Jesus in the "last time" (cf. 1 Peter i. 20 fanerwqentoV de ep' escatwn twn cronwn di umaV) is an historical achievement without parallel. Not less so is the placing of the thought of the passion in its proper eschatological setting as an act of atonement. Where had the character and origin of the primitive community ever been brought into such clear connexion with the death of Jesus? Who had ever before so earnestly considered the problem why the Christian community arose in Jerusalem and not in Galilee? "But the solution is too simple, and, moreover, is not founded on a severely scientific chain of reasoning, but on historical intuition and experiment, the simple experiment of introducing the Life of Jesus into the Jewish eschatological world of thought"—so the theologians replied, or so, at least, they might have replied if they had taken this curious work seriously, if, indeed, they had read it at all. But how were they to suspect that in a book which seemed to aim at founding a new Deistic Church, and which went out with the Wolfenuttel Fragmentist into the desert of the most barren natural religion, a valuable historical conception might be found? It is true that no one suspected at that time that in the forgotten work of Reimarus there lay a dangerous historical


discovery, a kind of explosive material such as can only be collected by those who stand free from every responsibility towards historical Christianity, who have abandoned every prejudice, in the good sense as well as in the bad—and whose one desire in regard to the Gospel history is to be "spirits that constantly deny." [1] Such thinkers, if they have historical gifts, destroy artifical history in the cause of true history and, willing evil, do good—if it be admitted that the discovery of truth is good. If this negative work is a good thing, the author of the "Letters to the German People" performed a distinguished service, for his negation is radical. The new Church which was to be founded on this historic overcoming of historic Christianity was to combine "only what was according to reason in Judaism and Christianity." From Judaism it was to take the belief in one sole, spiritual, perfect God; from Christianity the requirement of brotherly love to all men. On the other hand, it was to eliminate what was contrary to reason in each: from Judaism the ritual system and the sacrifices; from Christianity the deification of Jesus and the teaching of redemption through His blood. How comes so completely unhistorical a temperament to be combined with so historical an intellect? His Jesus, after all, has no individuality; He is a mere eschatological machine.

In accordance with the confession of faith of the new Church of which Ghillany dreamed, the calendar of the Feasts is to be transformed as follows:—

1. Feast of the Deity, the first and second of January.

2. Feast of the Dignity of Man and Brotherly Love, first and second of April.

3. Feast of the Divine Blessing in Nature, first and second of July.

4. Feast of Immortality, first and second of October.

Apart from these eight Feast days, and the Sundays, all the other days of the year are working days.

From the order of divine service we may note the following: "The sermon, which should begin with instruction and exhortation and close with consolation and encouragement, must not last longer than half an hour."

The series of Lives of Jesus which combine criticism with fiction is closed by Noack's Story of Jesus. A freethinker like Ghillany, but lacking the financial independence which a kindly fate had conferred upon the latter, Noack led a life which may properly be described as a constant martyrdom, lightened only by his intense love of theological studies, which nevertheless were responsible for all his troubles. Born in 1819, of a clerical family in Hesse, he became in 1842 Pastor's as-

[1] "Ich bin der Geist, der stets verneint."—Mephistopheles in Faust.


sistant and teacher of religion at Worms in the Hessian Palatinate. The Darmstadt reactionaries drove him out of this position in 1844 without his having given any ground of offence. In 1849 he became "Repetent" in Philosophy at the University of Giessen at a salary of four hundred gulden. In 1855 he was promoted to be Professor Extraordinary without having his salary raised. In 1870, at the age of 51, he was appointed assistant at the University Library and received at the same time the title of Ordinary Professor. He died in 1885. He was an extremely prolific writer, always ingenious, and possessed of wide knowledge, but he never did anything of real permanent value either in philosophy or theology. He was not without critical acumen, but there was too much of the poet in him; a critical discovery was an incitement to an imaginative reconstruction of the history. In 1870-1871 he published, after many preliminary studies, his chief work, "From the Jordan Uplands to Golgotha; four books on the Gospel and the Gospels." [1] It passed unnoticed. Attributing its failure to the excitement aroused by the war, which ousted all other interests, he issued a revised edition in 1876 under the title "The History of Jesus, on the Basis of Free Historical Inquiry concerning the Gospel and the Gospels," [2] but with hardly greater success.

And yet the fundamental critical ideas which can be detected beneath this narrative, in spite of its having the form of fiction, give this work a significance such as the contemporary Lives of Jesus which won the applause of theologians did not possess. It is the only Life of Jesus hitherto produced which is written consistently from the Johannine point of view from beginning to end. Strauss had not, after all, in Noack's opinion, conclusively shown the absolute incompatibility of the Synoptics with the Fourth Gospel; neither he nor any other critic had felt the full difficulty of the question why the Fourth Evangelist should be at pains to invent the numerous journeys to the Feasts, seeing that the development of the Logos Christology did not necessarily involve any alteration of the scene of the ministry; on the contrary, it would, one might think, have been the first care of the Evangelist to inweave his novel theory with the familiar tradition in order to avoid discrediting his narrative in advance by his innovations. Noack's conclusion is that the inconsistency is not due to a single author; it is the result of a long process of redaction in which various divergent tendencies have been at work. But as the Fourth Gospel is not the logical terminus of the process of alteration, the only alternative is to place it

[1] Aus der Jordanwiege nach Golgotha; vier Bucher fiber das Evangelium und die Evangelien.

[2] Die Geschichte Jesu auf Grand freiw geschichtlicher Untersuchungen uber das evangelium und die Evangelien.


at the beginning. What we have to seek in it is the original Gospel from which the process of transforming the tradition started.

There is also another line of argument based on the contradictions in the Gospel tradition which leads to the hypothesis that we have to do with redactions of the Gospels. Either Jesus was the Jewish Messiah of the Synoptics, or a Son of God in the Greek, spiritual sense, whose self-consciousness must be interpreted by means of the Logos doctrine: He cannot have been both at the same time. But it is inconceivable that a Jewish claimant of the Messiahship would have been left unmolested up to the last, and have had virtually to force the authorities to put him to death. On the other hand, if He were a simple enthusiast claiming to be a Son of God, a man who lived only for his own "self-consciousness," He might from the beginning have taken up this attitude without being in any way molested, except by the scorn of men. In this respect also, therefore, the primitive Gospel which we can recover from John has the advantage. It was only later that this "Son of God" became the Jewish Messiah.

We arrive at the primitive Johannine writing when we cancel in the Fourth Gospel all Jewish doctrine and all miracles. [1] Its date is the year 60 and it was composed by—Judas, the beloved disciple. This primitive Gospel received little modification and still shows clearly "the wonderful reality of its history." It aims only at giving a section of Jesus' history, a representation of His attitude of mind and spirit. With "simple ingenuousness" it gives, "along with the kernel of the historical material of the Gospel, Jesus' thoughts about His own Person in the mysterious oracular sayings and deeply thoughtful and moving discourses by which the Nazarene stirred rather than enlightened the world." Events of a striking character were, however, absent from it. The feeding of the multitude was represented in it as effected by natural means. It was a philanthropic feeding of a multitude which certainly did not number thousands, the numbers are a later insertion; Jesus fed them with bread and fish which He purchased from a "sutler-lad." The healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda was the unmasking of a malingerer, whom the Lord exposed and ordered to depart. As He had bidden him carry his bed, and it was on the Sabbath, this brought Him into conflict with the authorities. His only "acts" were acts of self-revelation—mystical sayings which He threw out to the people. "The problem which meets us in His history is in truth a psychological problem, how, namely. His exalted view of Himself came to be accepted as the purest and highest truth—in His lifetime, it is true, only by a limited circle of disciples, but after His departure by a constantly grow-

[1] For Noack's reconstruction of it see Book iii. pp. 196-225.


ing multitude of believing followers." The gospel of the beloved disciple Judas made its way quietly into the world, understood by few, even as Jesus Himself had been understood by a few only.

About ten years later, according to Noack, appeared the original form of Luke, which we can reconstruct from what is known of Marcion's Luke. [1] This Evangelist is under Pauline influence, and writes with an apologetic purpose. He desires to refute the calumny that Jesus was "possessed of a devil," and he does this by making Him cast out devils. It was in this way that miracle forced itself into the Gospel hbtory.

But this primitive Luke, as Noack reconstructs it by combining the statements of the Fathers regarding Marcion's Gospel, knows nothing of Jesus' journey to Jerusalem to die. This circumstance is of capital importance to Noack, because in the course of his attempt to bring the topography of the Fourth Gospel into harmony with that of the Synoptics he had arrived at the remarkable result that the Johannine Christ worked in Galilee, not in Judaea. On the basis of the Onomasticon of Eusebius—which Noack, with the aid of topographical traditions derived from the Crusaders and statements of Mohammedan writers, interprets with a recklessness which is nothing short of criminal—Cana and Bethany (Bethabara) were not in the latitude of Jerusalem, but "near the head-waters of the Jordan in the upper part of the Jordan valley before it flows into the lake of Huleh. There, in Coele-Syria, on the southern slope of Hermon, was the scene of John the Baptist's labours; there Jesus began His ministry; thither He returned to die." "It is in the Galilaean district which forms the scene of the Song of Solomon that the reader of this book must be prepared to find the Golgotha of the cross." That is the sentence with which Noack's account of the Life of Jesus opens. This alludes to an idea which had already been worked out in his "Studies on the Song of Solomon," [2] namely, that the mountain country eurrounding the upper Jordan was the pre-exilic Judaea, and that the "city of David" was situated there. The Jews on their return from exile had at first endeavoured to rebuild that Coele-Syrian city of David with the ruins of Solomon's Temple, but had been driven away from it and had then taken the desperate resolution to build the temple of Zerubbabel upon the high plateau lying far to the south of ancient Israel. Ezra the Scribe interpolated the forgery on the ground of which this site began to be accepted as the former city of David. Under the Syrian oppression all remembrance of the ancient city of David entirely disappeared.

This fantastic edifice, in the construction of which the wildest etymolo-

[1] For the reconstruction see Book iii. pp. 326-386.

[2] Tharraqah und Sunamith. The Song of Solomon in its historical and topographical setting. 1869.


gies play a part, is founded on the just recognition that a reconciliation of John with the Synoptists can only be effected by transferring some of the Johannine localities to the North; but this involves not only finding Bethany, Arimathea and the other places, but even the scene of Jesus' death in this district. The brook Kedron conveniently becomes the "brook of Cedars."

For fifty years the two earliest Evangelists, in spite of their poverty of incident, sufficed for the needs of the Christians. The "fire of Jesus" was fed chiefly by the Pauline Gospel. The original form of the Gospel of Luke accordingly became the starting-point of the next stage of development. Thus arose the Gospel of Mark. Mark was not a native of Palestine, but a man of Roman extraction living in Decapolis, who had not the slightest knowledge of the localities in which the life of Jesus was really passed. He undertook, about the year 130, "in the interest of the new Christian settlement at Jerusalem in Hadrian's time, deliberately and consciously to transform the original plan of the Gospel history and to represent the Lord as crucified at Jerusalem." The man who from the year 132 onward, as Mark the Bishop, preached the word of the Crucified to a Gentile Christian community amid the ruins of the holy city, had previously, as Mark the Evangelist, taken care that a prophet should not perish out of Jerusalem. In composing his Gospel he made use, in addition to Luke, of a traditional source which he found in Decapolis. He deliberately omitted the frequent journeys to Jerusalem which were still found in the original Luke, and inserted instead Jesus' journey to His death. He it was, also, who made the Nazarite into the Nazarene, laying the scene of Jesus' youth in Nazareth. To the cures of demoniacs he added magical acts such as the feeding of the multitude and the resurrection.

In Matthew, who appeared about 135, legend and fiction riot unchecked. In addition, Jewish parables and sayings are put into the mouth of Jesus, whereas He really had nothing to do with the Jewish world of ideas. For if anything is certain, it is that the moral maxims of the latest Gospel are of a distinctively Jewish origin. About the middle of the second century the originals of John and Luke underwent redaction. The redaction of the Logos Gospel was completed by the addition of the twenty-first chapter, the last redaction of Luke was perhaps carried out by Justin Martyr, fresh from completing his "Dialogue with Trypho"! Thus John and Luke are, in this final form, which is full of contradictions, the latest Gospels, and the saying is fulfilled about the first being last, and the last first.

Arbitrary as these suggestions are, there is nevertheless something impressive in the attempt to explain the remarkable inconsistencies which are found within the Gospel tradition by considerations relating


to its origin and development. Despite all his far-fetched ideas, Noack really stands higher than some of his contemporaries who showed more prudence in their theological enterprises, and about that time were earning the applause of the faculty, and quieting the minds of the laity, by performing once more the old conjuring trick—assisted by some new feats of leger-demain—of harmonising John with the Synoptists in such a way as to produce a Life of Jesus which could be turned to the service of ecclesiastical theology.

The outline of the public Life of Jesus, as reconstructed by Noack, is as follows. It lasted from early in the year 35 to the 14th Nisan of the year 37, and began in the moment when Jesus revealed His consciousness of what He was. We do not know how long previously He had cherished it in secret. It is certain that the Baptist helped to bring about this revelation. This is the only part which he plays in the Gospel of John. He was neither a preacher of repentance, nor an Elias, nor the forerunner of Jesus, nor a mere signpost pointing to the Messiah, such as the secondary tradition makes him out to be.

Similarly everything that is Messianic in the consciousness of Jesus is secondary. The lines of His thought were guided by the Greek ideaa about sons of God, for the soil of northern Galilee was saturated with these ideas. Other sources which contributed something were the personification of the Divine Wisdom in the "Wisdom Literature" and some of Philo's doctrines. Jesus became the son of God in an ecstatic trance! Had not Philo recognised ecstasy as the last and highest means of rising to union with the Divine?

Jesus' temperament, according to Noack, was pre-disposed to ecstasy, since He was born out of wedlock. One who had this burden upon His spirit may well have early taken refuge in His own thoughts, above the clouds, in the presence of the God of His fathers. Assailed in a thousand ways by the cruelty of the world, it would seem to Him as though His Heavenly Father, though unseen, was stretching out to Him the arms of consolation. Imagination, which ever mercifully lightens for men the yoke of misery, charmed the fatherless child out of His earthly sufferings and put into His hand a coloured glass through which He saw the world and life in a false light. Ecstatic enthusiasm had carried Him up to the dizzy height of spiritual union with the Father in Heaven. A hundred times He was cast down out of His dreams into the hard world of reality, to experience once more His earthly distresses, but ever anew he won His way by fasting, vigil, and prayer to the starry heaven of ecstasy.

"Jesus," Noack explains, "had in thought projected Himself beyond His earthly nativity and risen to the conception that His ego had been in existence before this earthly body in which He stood visibly upon


the stage of the world. He felt that His ego had had being and life before He became incarnate upon earth. . . . This new conception of Himself, born of His solitary musings, was incorporated into the very substance of His natural personal ego. A new ego had superseded the old natural, corporeally conditioned ego."

Ambition, too, came into play—the high ambition to do God a service by the offering up of Himself. The passion of self-sacrifice is characteristic of a consciousness such as this. According to the document which underlies the Johannine Gospel it was not in consequence of outward events that Jesus took His resolve to die. "It was the later Gospel tradition which exhibited His fate as an inevitable consequence of His conflict with a world impervious to spiritual impression." In the original Gospel that fate was freely embraced from the outset as belonging to the vocation of the Son of God. Only by the constant presence of the thought of death could a life which for two years walked the razor edge of such dizzy dreams have been preserved from falling. The conviction, or perhaps rather the instinctive feeling, that the role of a Son of God upon earth was not one to be maintained for decades was the necessary counterpoise to the enthusiasm of Jesus' spirit. From the first He was as much at home with the thought of death as with His Heavenly Father.

This Son of Man—according to Noack's interpretation the title is equivalent to Son of Hope—requires of the multitude that they shall take His lofty dream for solid reality. "He revealed His message from heaven to the world at the Paschal Feast of the year 35, by throwing out a challenge to the Sadducaean hierarchy in Jerusalem." In the time between John's removal from the scene and John's death, there falls the visit of Jesus to Samaria and a sojourn in the neighbourhood of His Galilaean home. At the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem in the autumn of that year, the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda led to a breach with the Sabbatic regulations of the Pharisees. Later on, in consequence of His generous feeding of the multitude in the Gaulonite table-land, there is an attempt to make Him into a Messianic King; which He, however, repudiates. At the time of the Passover in Galilee in the year 36, in the synagogue at Capernaum, He tests the spiritual insight of those who may, He hopes, be ripe for the higher teaching concerning the Son of God made flesh, by the touchstone of His mystical words about the bread of life. At the next Feast of Tabernacles, in the city of Zion, He makes a last desperate attempt to move men's hearts by the parable of the Good Shepherd who is ready to lay down His life for His sheep, the people of Israel.

But His adversaries are remorseless; they wound Him to the very depths of His spirit by bringing to Him the woman taken in adultery,


and asking Him what they are to do with her. When this question was sprung upon Him, He saw in a moment the public humiliation designed by His adversaries. All eyes were turned upon Him, and for a few moments the embarrassment of One who was usually so self-possessed was patent to all. He stooped as though He desired to write with His finger upon the ground. Was it shame at His dishonourable birth that compelled Him thus to lower His gaze? But the painful silence of expectation among the spectators did not last long. His adversaries repeated their question. He raised His head and spoke the undying words: "Let him that is without sin among you cast the first stone at her."

Incensed by His constant references to His heavenly Sonship, they endeavour at last to stone Him. He flees from the Temple and takes refuge in the Jordan uplands. His purpose is, at the next Passover, that of the year 37, here in the mountains which were blessed as Joseph's portion, to offer His atoning death as that of the true paschal lamb, and with this act to quit the stage of the world's history. He remained in hiding in order to avoid the risk of assassination by the emissaries of the Pharisees. In Bethany He receives the mysterious visit of the Greeks, who doubtless desired to tempt Him to raise the standard of revolt as a claimant of the Messiahship, but He refuses to be shaken in His determination to die. The washing of the disciples' feet signifies their baptism with water, that they might thereafter receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Judas, the disciple whom Jesus loved, who was a man of much resource, helped Him to avoid being arrested as a disturber of the peace by arranging that the "betrayal" should take place on the evening before the Passover, in order that Jesus might die, as He desired, on the day of the Passover. For this service of love he was, in the secondary tradition, torn from the bosom of the Lord and branded as a traitor.

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