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The Life of Jesus Critically Examined






In the three first gospels the principal enemies of Jesus are the Pharisees and scribes,* who saw in him the most ruinous opponent of their institutions; together with the chief priests and elders, who, as the heads of the external temple-worship and the hierarchy founded upon it, could have no friendly feeling towards one who on every opportunity represented as the main point, the internal service of God with the devotion of the mind. Elsewhere we find among the enemies of Jesus the Sadducees (Matt. xvi. 1, xxii. 23 ff. parall., comp. Matt. xvi. 6 ff. parall.), to whose materialism much in his opinions must have been repugnant; and the Herodian party (Mark iii. 6; Matt. xxii. 16 parall.) who, having been unfavourable to the Baptist, were naturally so to his successor. The fourth gospel, though it sometimes mentions the chief priests and Pharisees, the most frequently designates the enemies of Jesus by the general expression: oi Ioudaioi the Jews; an expression which proceeds from a later, Christian point of view.

The four Evangelists unanimously relate, that the more defined machinations of the Pharisaic-hierarchical party against Jesus, took their rise from an offence committed by the latter against the prevalent rules concerning the observation of the sabbath. When Jesus had cured the man with the withered hand, it is said in Matthew: the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him (xii. 14, comp. Mark iii. 6; Luke vi. 11); and in like manner John observes, on the occasion of the Sabbath cure at the pool of Bethesda: therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and after mentioning a declaration of Jesus, proceeds thus: therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him (v. 16, 18).

* Winer’s bibl. Realwörterb.


But immediately after this commencing point, the synoptical account of the relation in question diverges from that of John. In the synoptists, the next offence is given by the neglect of washing before meals on the part of Jesus and his disciples, with the sharp invectives which, when called to account on the subject, he launched forth against the spirit of petty observance, and the hypocrisy and spirit of persecution with which it was united in the Pharisees and lawyers; after all which it is said, that the latter conceived a deep animosity against him, and tried to sift him and entrap him by dangerous questions, in order to obtain grounds of accusation against him (Luke xi. 37—54, comp. Matt. xv. i ff.; Mark vii. i ff.). On his last journey to Jerusalem, the Pharisees gave Jesus a warning against Herod (Luke xiii. 3 which apparently had no other object than to induce him to leave the country. The next important cause of offence to the hierarchical party, was the striking homage paid to Jesus by the people on his entrance into Jerusalem, and the purification of the temple which he immediately undertook: but they were still withheld from any violent measures towards him by the strength of his interest with the people (Matt. xxi. 15 ff.; Mark ix. i8; Luke xix. 39, 47 f.), which was the sole reason why they did not possess themselves of his person, after the severe manner in which he had characterized them, in the parable of the husbandmen of the vineyard (Matt. xxi. 45 f. parall.). After these events, it scarcely needed the anti-Pharisaic discourse Matt. xxiii. to make the chief priests, the scribes and elders, i.e. the Sanhedrim, assemble in the palace of the high priest, shortly before the passover, for a consultation, that they might take Jesus by subtlety and kill him (Matt. xxvi. 3 ff. parall.).

In the fourth gospel, also, the great number of the adherents of Jesus among the people is sometimes, it is true, described as the reason why his enemies desired to seize him (vii. 32, 44, comp. iv. 1 ff.), and his solemn entrance into Jerusalem embitters them here also (xii. 19) ; sometimes their murderous designs are mentioned without any motive being stated (vii. 1, 19, 25, viii. 40): but the main cause of offence in this gospel, lies in the declarations of Jesus concerning his exalted dignity Even on the occasion of the cure of the lame man on the Sabbath, what chiefly irritated the Jews was that Jesus justified it by appealing to the uninterrupted agency of God as his Father, which in their opinion was a blasphemous making of himself equal with God, ison eauton poiein tw qew (v. 18); when he spoke of his divine mission, they sought to lay hold on him (vii. 30, comp. viii 20) on his asserting that he was before Abraham, they took up stones to cast at him (viii. 59); they did the same when he declared that he and the Father were one (x. 31), and when he asserted that the Father was in him and he in the Father, they again attempted to seize him (x. 39). But that which, according to the fourth gospel, turns the scale, and causes the hostile party to take a formal resolution against Jesus, is the resuscitation


of Lazarus. When this act was reported to the Pharisees, they and the chief priests convened a council of the Sanhedrim, in which the subject of deliberation was, that if Jesus continued to perform so many signs, shmeia, all would at length adhere to him, and then the Roman power would be exerted to the destruction of the Jewish nation; whereupon the high priest Caiaphas pronounced the momentous decision, that it was better for one man to die for the people than for the whole nation to perish. His death was now determined upon, and it was enjoined on every one to point out his abode, that he might be arrested (xi. 46 ff.).

With regard to this difference modern criticism observes, that we should not at all comprehend the tragical turn of the fate of Jesus from the synoptical accounts, and that John alone opens to us a glance into the manner in which, step by step, the breach between the hierarchical party and Jesus was widened; in short, that in this point also the representation of the fourth gospel shows itself a pragmatical one, which that of the other gospels is not.* But what it is in which the Gospel of John exhibits superiority in gradation and progress, it is difficult to see, since the very first definite statement concerning the incipient enmity (v. 18) contains the extreme of the offence (ison eauton poiein tw qew, making himself equal with God) and the extreme of the enmity (ezhtoun auton apokteinai, they sought to kill him:); so that all which is narrated further concerning the hostility of the Jews is mere repetition, and the only fact which presents itself as a step towards more decided measures is the resolution of the Sanhedrim, chap. xi. This species of gradation, however, is not wanting in the synoptical account also: here we have the transition from the indefinite laying wait for Jesus, and the communing what might be done to him (Luke xi. 54, vi. ii), or as it is more precisely given in Matthew (xii. 14), and in Mark (iii. 6), the taking counsel how they might destroy him, to the definite resolve as to the manner (dolw) and the time (mh en th eorth Matt. xxvi. 4 f. parall.).—But it is especially made a reproach to three first Evangelists, that in passing over the resurrection of Lazarus, they have omitted that incident which gave the final impulse to the fate of Jesus.† If we, on the contrary, in virtue of the above result of our criticism of this miraculous narrative, must rather praise the synoptists, that they do not represent as the turning point in the fate of Jesus, an incident which never really happened : so the fourth Evangelist, by the manner in which he relates the murderous resolve to which it was the immediate inducement, by no means manifests himself as one whose authority can be held by us a sufficient warrant for the truth of his narrative. The circumstance that he ascribes to the high priest the gift of prophecy (without doubt in accordance with a superstitious idea of his age‡ ), and regards his

* Schneckenburger, über den Urspr., s. 9 f. Lücke, I, s. 133, 159, 2, s. 402.

† Comp. besides the critics above cited, Hug, Enleit. in das N. T. 2, s. 215.

‡ For the most correct views on this point see Lücke, 2, s. 407 ff.


speech as a prediction of the death of Jesus, would certainly not by itself prove that he could not have been an apostle and eye-witness.* But it has with justice been held a difliculty, that our Evangelist designates Caiaphas as the high priest of that year, arciereuV tou eniautou ekeinou (xi. 49), and thus appears to suppose that this dignity, like many Roman magistracies, was an annual one; whereas it was originally held for life, and even in that period of Roman ascendancy, was not a regular annual office, but was transferred as often as it pleased the arbitrariness of the Romans. To conclude on the authority of the fourth gospel, in opposition to the general custom, and notwithstanding the silence of Josephus, that Annas and Caiaphas, by a private agreement, held the office for a year by turns,† is an expedient to which those may resort whom it pleases; to take eniautou indefinitely for cronou,‡ is, from the twofold repetition of the same expression, v. 51 and xviii. 13, inadmissible; that at that period the high priesthood was frequently transferred from one to another, and some high priests were not allowed to remain in their office longer than a year,§ did not justify our author in designating Caiaphas as the high priest of a particular year, when in fact he filled that post for a series of years, and certainly throughout the duration of the public agency of Jesus; lastly, that John intended to say that Caiaphas was high priest in the year in which Jesus died, without thereby excluding earlier and later years, in which lie also held the office,|| is an equally untenable position. For if the time in which an incident occurs is described as a certain year, this mode of expression must imply, that either the incident the date of which is to be determined, or the fact by which that date is to be determined, is connected with the term of a year. Thus either the author of the fourth gospel must have been of the opinion, that from the death of Jesus, to which this decision of Caiaphas was the initiative step, a plenitude of spiritual gifts, including the gift of prophecy to the high priest of that period, was dispensed throughout that particular year, and no longer; or, if this be a far-fetched explanation, he must have imagined that Caiaphas was high priest for the term of that year only. Lücke concludes that as, according to Josephus, the high priest of that period held his office for ten years successively, therefore John cannot have meant, by the expression arciereuV tou eniautou ekeinou, that the office of high priest was an annual one; whereas the author of the Probabilia, on the ground that the evidence of this meaning in the words of the gospel, is far more certain than that John is its author, reverses this proposition, and concludes, that as the fourth gospel here presents an idea concerning the duration of the office of high priest which could not be entertained in Palestine, therefore its author cannot have been a native of Palestine.*

* As the author of the Probabilia thinks, s. 94.

† Hug, ut sup. s. 221.

‡ Kuinöl, in loc.

§ Paulus, Comm. 4, 5. 57ff.

|| Lücke, in loc.

¶Lightfoot, in loc.

* Probalil, ut sup.


Of the further statements also, as to the points in which Jesus gave offence to the hierarchy of his nation, those which the synoptists have alone, or in common with John, are credible; those which are peculiar to the latter, not so. Among those which are common to both sides, the solemn entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, and the strong attachment of the people to him, were equally natural causes of offence with his discourses and actions in opposition to the sabbatical institutions, in whatever the latter may have consisted; on the contrary, the manner in which, according to the fourth gospel, the Jews take offence at the declarations of Jesus concerning himself as the Son of God, is, according to our earlier analysis,* as inconceivable, as it is consistent with the common order of things that the polemical tone towards the Pharisees which the first Evangelists all lend to Jesus, should irritate the party attacked. Thus no new or more profound insight into the causes and motives of the reaction against Jesus, is to be obtained from the fourth gospel: but the information which the synoptists have preserved to us fully suffices to make that fact intelligible.



Although it had been resolved in the council of the chief priests and elders, that the feast time should be allowed to pass over before any measures were taken against Jesus, because any act of violence against him in these days might easily excite an insurrection, on the part of his numerous adherents among the visitants to the feast (Matt. xxvi. 5; Mark xiv. 2): yet this consideration was superseded by the facility with which one of his disciples offered to deliver him into their hands. Judas, surnamed IskariwthV, doubtless on account of his origin from the Jewish city of Kerioth† (Josh. xv. 25), went, according to the synoptists, a few days before the passover, to the heads of the priesthood, and volunteered to deliver Jesus quietly into their hands, for which service they promised him money, according to Matthew, thirty pieces of silver (arguria, Matt. xxvi. 14 ff. parall.). Of such an antecedent transaction between Judas and the enemies of Jesus, the fourth gospel not only says nothing, but appears moreover to represent the matter as if Judas had not formed the determination of betraying Jesus to the priesthood, until the last Supper, and had then promptly put it into execution. The same entering (eiselqein) of Satan into Judas, which Luke (xxii. 3) places before his first interview with the chief priests, and before any preparation had been made for Jesus and his disciples to eat

1* Vol. II. § 62.

† Olshausen gives us more precise information concerning the descent of the traitor, when he says (bibl. Comm. 2, s. 458 Anm.): "Perhaps the passage, Gen. xlix. 27, Dan shall be a serpent, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse’s heels, so that his rider shall fall backward, is a prophetic intimation of the treachery of Judas, whence we might conclude that he was of the tribe of Dan."


the passover together, is represented by the author of the fourth gospel as occurring at this meal, before Judas left the company (xiii. 27): a proof, as it appears, that in the opinion of this Evangelist, Judas now made his first traitorous visit. He does indeed observe, before the meal (xiii. 2), that the devil had put it into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus, and this tou diabolou beblhkotoV eiV thn kardian is commonly regarded as the parallel of Luke’s eishlqe satanaV (Satan entered into him), being understood to imply the formation of the treacherous resolve, in consequence of which Judas went to the chief priests: but if he had previously been in treaty with them, the betrayal was already completed, and it is then not easy to perceive what can be meant by the words eishlqen eiV auton o satanaV on the occasion of the last meal, since the summoning of those who were to seize Jesus was no new diabolical resolution, but only the execution of that which had already been embraced. The expression in John v. 27 only obtains an entirely consistent sense in distinction from v. 2, when the ballein eiV thn kardian in the latter, is understood of the rising of the thought, the eiselqein in the former, of the ripening of this thought into resolution, the supposition that Judas had pledged himself to the chief priests before the meal being thus excluded.* In this manner, however, the statement of the synoptists that Judas, some time before the perpetration of his treacherous act, made a bargain with the enemies of Jesus, stands in contradiction with that of John, that he only put himself in league with them immediately before the deed; and here Liicke decides in favour of John, maintaining it to be after his departure from the last supper (xiii. 30), that Judas made that application to the chief priests which the synoptists (Matt. xxvi. 1 f. parall.) place before the meal.† But this decision of Lücke’s is founded solely on deference to the presupposed authority of John; for even if, as he remarks, Judas could very well obtain an interview with the priests when night had commenced: still, regarding the matter apart from any presuppositions, the probability is beyond comparison stronger on the side of the synoptists, who allow some time for the affair, than on that of John, according to whom it is altogether sudden, and Judas, truly as if he were possessed, rushes out when it is already night to treat with the priests, and immediately hurry to the deed.

Concerning the motives which induced Judas to league himself with the enemies of Jesus, we learn from the three first gospels no more than that he received money from the chief priests. This would indicate that he was actuated by covetousness, especially according to the narrative in Matthew, where Judas, before he promises to betray Jesus, puts the question, What will ye give me? Clearer light is thrown on this subject by the statement of the fourth gospel (xii. 4 ff.), that on the occasion of the meal in Bethany, Judas was indignant at the anointing, as an unnecessary expenditure,—that he carried the purse, and acted the thief in that office; whence it might be supposed that the avarice of Judas, no longer satisfied by his peculations on the funds of the society, hoped to reap a more considerable harvest by

* That, according to the account in John, Judas first went to the chief priests from the meal, is acknowledged by Lightfoot also (horæ, p. 465), but he on this account regards the meal described by John as earlier than the synoptical one.

† Comm. z. Joh. 2, s. 484.


betraying Jesus to the rich and powerful sacerdotal party. We must hold ourselves under obligation to the author of the fourth gospel, that by the preservation of these particulars, which are wanting in the other Evangelists, he has made the act of Judas somewhat more comprehensible,—so soon as his statements are shown to have an historical foundation. We have shown above, however, how improbable it is that, had that censure really proceeded from Judas, the legend should have lost this trait;* how probable, On the other hand, a legendary origin of it, it is easy to discern. The meal at Bethany stood in the evangelical tradition near to the end of the life of Jesus, an end brought about by the treachery of Judas ;—how easily might the thought arise in some one, that the narrow-minded censure of a noble prodigality could only come from the covetous Judas? That the censure at the same time turned upon the propriety of selling the ointment for the benefit of the poor, could in the mouth of Judas be only a pretext, behind which he concealed his selfishness: but advantage to himself from the sale of the ointment could not be expected by him, unless he allowed himself to purloin some of the money saved; and this again he could not do unless he were the purse-bearer. If it thus appear possible for the statement that Judas was a thief and had the bag, to have had an unhistorical origin: we have next to inquire whether there are any reasons for supposing that such was actually the case.

Here we must take into consideration another point on which the synoptists and John differ, namely, the foreknowledge of Jesus that Judas would betray him. In the synoptical gospels, Jesus first manifests this knowledge at the last supper, consequently at a time in which the deed of Judas had virtually been perpetrated; and apparently but a short time before, Jesus had so little presentiment that one of the twelve would be lost to him, that he promised them all, without exception, the honour of sitting on twelve thrones of judgment in the palingenesia (Matt. xix. 28). According to John, on the contrary, Jesus declares shortly before the time of the last passover but one, consequently a year before the result, that one of the twelve is a devil, diaboloV, meaning, according to the observation of the Evangelist, Judas, as his future betrayer (vi. 70); for, as it had been observed shortly before (v. 64), Jesus knew from the beginning,—-who should betray him. According to this, Jesus knew from the commencement of his acquaintance with Judas, that this disciple would prove a traitor; and not merely did he foresee this external issue, but also, since he knew what was in man (John ii. 25), he must have penetrated the motives of Judas, namely,

* Vol. II. § 89.


covetousness and love of money. And, if so, would he have made him purse-bearer, i.e. placed him in a position in which his propensity to seek gain by any means, even though dishonest, must have had the most abundant nourishment? Would he have made him a thief by giving him opportunity, and thus, as if designedly, have brought up in him a betrayer for himself? Considered simply in an economical point of view, who entrusts a purse to one of whom he knows that he robs it? Then, in relation to the idea of Jesus as a moral teacher, who places the weak in a situation which so constantly appeals to his weak point, as to render it certain that he will sooner or later give way to the temptation? No truly: Jesus assuredly did not so play with the souls immediately entrusted to him, did not exhibit to them so completely the opposite of what he taught them to pray for, lead us not into temptation (Matt. vi. 13), as to have made Judas, of whom he foreknew that he would become his betrayer out of covetousness, the purse-bearer of his society; or, if he gave him this office, he cannot have had such a foreknowledge.

In order to arrive at a decision in this alternative, we must consider that foreknowledge separately, and inquire whether, apart from the treasurership of Judas, it be probable or not? We shall not enter on the question of the psychological possibility, because there is always freedom of appeal to the divine nature of Jesus; but with regard to the moral possibility it is to be asked, whether presupposing that foreknowledge, it be justifiable in Jesus to have chosen Judas among the twelve, and to have retained him within this circle? As it was only by this vocation that his treachery as such could be rendered possible; so Jesus appears, if he foresaw this treachery, to have designedly drawn him into the sin. It is urged that intercourse with Jesus afforded Judas the possibility of escaping that abyss :* but Jesus is supposed to have foreseen that this possibility would not be realized. It is further said that even in other circles the evil implanted in Judas would not the less have developed itself in a different form: a proposition which has a strong tinge of fatalism. Again, when it is said to be of no avail to a man that the evil, the germ of which lies within him, should not be developed, this appears to lead to consequences which are repudiated by the apostle Paul, Rom. iii. 8, vi.1 f. And regarding the subject in relation to feeling merely,—how could Jesus endure to have a man, of whom he knew that he would be his betrayer, and that all instruction would be fruitless to him, as his constant attendant throughout the whole period of his public life? Must not the presence of such a person have every hour interfered with his confidential intercourse with the rest of the twelve? Assuredly they must have been weighty motives, for the sake of which Jesus imposed on himself anything so repugnant and difficult. Such motives or objects must either have had relation to Judas, and thus have consisted in the design to make him better—which however was

* See these and the following reasons in Olshausen, 2, s. 458 ff.


precluded by the decided foreknowledge of his crime; or they must have had relation to Jesus himself and his work, i.e. Jesus had the conviction that if the work of redemption by means of his death were to be effected, there must be one to betray him.* But for the purpose of redemption, according to the Christian theory, the death of Jesus was the only indispensable means: whether this should be brought about by a betrayal, or in any other way, was of no moment, and that the enemies of Jesus must, earlier or later, have succeeded in getting him into their power without the aid of Judas, is undeniable. That the betrayer was indispensable in order to bring about the death of Jesus exactly at the passover, which was a type of himself † —with such trivialities it will scarcely be attempted to put us off in these days.

If then we are unable to discover any adequate motive which could induce Jesus advertently to receive and retain in his society his betrayer in the person of Judas: it appears decided that he cannot beforehand have known him to be such. Schleiermacher, in order that he may not infringe on the authority of John by denying this foreknowledge, prefers doubting that Jesus chose the twelve purely by his own act, and supposes that this circle was rather formed by the voluntary adherence of the disciples: since it would be more easy to justify the conduct of Jesus, if he merely refrained from rejecting Judas when he spontaneously offered himself than if he drew him to himself by free choice.‡ But hereby the authority of John is still endangered, for it is he who makes Jesus say to the twelve: Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you (xv. 16, comp. vi. 76); moreover, even dismissing the idea of a decided act of election, still for any one to remain constantly with Jesus there needed his permission and sanction, and even these he could not, acting humanly, give to a man of whom he knew that, by means of this relation to himself, he would be enabled to mature the blackest crime. It is said, however, that Jesus put himself entirely into the Divine point of view, and admitted Judas into his society, for the sake of the possibility of reformation which he yet foreknew would never be realised; but this would be a Divine inhumanity,—not the conduct of the God-man. If, according to this, it is extremely difficult to maintain as historical the statement of the fourth gospel, that Jesus from the beginning knew Judas to be his betrayer: so it is equally easy to discern what even without historical foundation might lead to such a representation.

It would be natural to suppose, that the fact of Jesus being betrayed by one of his own disciples, would be injurious to him in the eyes of his enemies, even if we did not know that Celsus, in the character of a Jew, reproached Jesus that he was betrayed by one of those whom he called his disciples, oti ufwn wnomaze maqhtwn proudoqh, as a proof that he was less able to attach his followers

* Olshausen, ut sup.

† Such an argument may be gathered from what Olshausen says, 2, s. 387, 388.

‡ Ueber den Lukas, s. 88.


to himself than every robber-chief.* Now as the injurious consequences to be drawn from the ignominious death of Jestis, appeared to be most completely obviated by the assertion that he had long foreknown his death: so, the arguments against Jesus derived from the treachery of Judas, might seem to be most effectually repelled by the statement, that he had penetrated into the character of the traitor from the first, and could have escaped what his treason prepared for him ; since this would involve the inference that he had exposed himself to the effects of his faithlessness by his own free will, and out of higher considerations.† This method included a second advantage, which attaches to the enunciator of every prediction alleged to be fulfilled, and which the fourth Evangelist naïvely makes his Jesus express, when, after the exposure of the betrayer, he puts into his mouth the words : Now I tell you before it come, that when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he (xiii. 19)—In fact, the best motto for every vaticinium post eventum. These two objects were the more completely attained, the earlier the period in the life of Jesus to which this foreknowledge was referred; whence it is to be explained why the author of the fourth gospel, not satisfied with the ordinary representation, that Jesus predicted his betrayal by Judas at the last supper, placed his knowledge on this subject in the commencement of the connexion between him and Judas.‡

This early knowledge on the part of Jesus concerning the treachery of Judas being dismissed as unhistorical, there would be room for the statement that Judas carried the purse of the society; since this particular only appeared incompatible with the above foreknowledge, while, if Jesus was in general mistaken in Judas, he might, under this error, have entrusted the funds to him. But by the proof that the representation of John, in relation to the knowledge of Jesus concerning his betrayer, is a fictitious one, its credibility in this matter is so shaken, that no confidence can be placed in the other statement. If the author of the fourth gospel has embellished the relation between Jesus and Judas on the side connected with Jesus, he can scarcely have left the side of Judas unadorned; if he has introduced the fact, that Jesus was betrayed, by making Jesus foresee this part of his destiny, his other statement, that Judas had beforehand exhibited his avarice by a dishonest use of the common purse, may easily be only an introduction to the fact, that Jesus was betrayed by Judas.


* Orig. c. Cels., ii. 11 f,

† Comp. Probabil., p. 139.

‡ Still farther back we find, not the knowledge of Jesus concerning his betrayer, but an important meeting between them, in the apocryphal Evangelium infantiæ arabicum, c. xxxv. ap. Fabricius I, p. 197 f., ap. Thilo, I, p. 108 f. Here a demoniacal boy, who in his attacks bit violently at everything around him, is brought to the child Jesus, attempts to bite him, and because he cannot reach him with his teeth gives him a blow on the right side, whereupon the child Jesus weeps, while Satan comes out of the boy in the form of a furious dog. Hic autem puer, qui Jesum percussit et ex quo Salanas sub forma canis exivit, fuit Judas Ischariotes, qui illum Judaeis prodidit.


But even though we renounce the information given by John concerning the character and motives of Judas: we still retain, in the forementioned statement of the synoptists, the most decided intimation that the chief motive of his deed was covetousness.


From the earliest to the latest times there have been persons, who have held opinions at issue with this view of the New Testament writers concerning the motives of Judas, and with their entirely reprobatory judgment upon them (comp. Acts i. 16 ff.); and this divergency has arisen partly out of au exaggerated supranaturalism, and partly out of a rationalistic bias.

An over-strained supranaturalism, proceeding from the point of view presented in the New Testament itself, namely, that the death of Jesus, decreed in the Divine plan of the world for the salvation of mankind, might even regard Judas, by whose treachery the death of Jesus was brought about, as a blameless instrument in the hand of Providence, a co-operator in the redemption of mankind. He might be placed in this light by the supposition that he had knowledge of that Divine decree, and that its fulfilment was the object at which he aimed in betraying Jesus. We actually find this mode of viewing the subject on the part of the gnostic sect of the Cainites, who, according to the ancient writers on heresies, held that Judas had liberated himself from the narrow Jewish opinions of the other disciples and attained to the gnosis, and accordingly betrayed Jesus because he knew that by his death the kingdom of the inferior spirits who ruled the world would be overthrown.* Others in the early church admitted that Judas betrayed Jesus out of covetousness; maintaining, however, that be did not anticipate the death of Jesus as a consequence of his betrayal, hut supposed that he would, as he had often previously done, escape from his enemies by an exertion of his supernatural power :an opinion which forms the transition to the modern methods of justifying the traitor.

As the above mentioned supranaturalistic exaltation of Judas by the Cainites immediately proceeded from their antagonistic position with respect to Judaism, in virtue of which they had made it a principle to honour all who were blamed by the Jewish authors

* Iren. adv. hær. r. 35 Judam proditorem—solum præ ceteris cognoscentem veritatem perfecisse proditionis mysterium, per quem et terrena et coelestia omnia dissoluta dicunt. Epiphan. xxxviii. 3: Some Cainites say, that Judas betrayed Jesus because he regarded him as a wicked man ponhron, who meant to destroy the good law.

† Theophylact, in Matth. xxvii. 4.


of the Old Testament, and the judaizing authors of the New, and vice versa: so Rationalism especially in its first indignation at the long subjection of the reason to the fetters of authority, felt a certain delight both in divesting of their nimbus those biblical personages who according to its views had been too zealously deified by orthodoxy, and also in defending and elevating those who were condemned or depreciated by the latter. Hence, in the Old Testament, the exaltation of Esau over Jacob, of Saul over Samuel; in the New, of Martha over Mary, the eulogiums on the doubting Thomas, and now the apology even for the traitor Judas. According to some, he became a criminal out of injured honour: the manner in which Jesus reproved him at the meal at Bethany, and, in general, the inferior degree of regard which he experienced in comparison with other disciples, converted his love for his teacher into hatred and revenge.* Others have preferred the conjecture preserved by Theophylact, that Judas may have hoped to see Jesus this time also escape from his enemies. Some have taken up this idea in the supranaturalistic sense, supposing it to be the expectation of Judas that Jesus would set himself at liberty by an exertion of his miraculous power ;† others consistently with their point of view have supposed that Judas may probably have expected that if Jesus were taken prisoner the people would raise an insurrection in his favour and set him at liberty.‡ These opinions represent Judas as one who, in common with the other disciples, conceived the messianic kingdom as an earthly and political one, and hence was discontented that Jesus so long abstained from availing himself of the popular favour, in order to assume the character of the messianic ruler. Instigated either by attempts at bribery on the part of the Sanhedrim, or by the humour of their plan to seize Jesus in secret after the feast, Judas sought to forestall this project, which must have been fatal to Jesus, and to bring about his arrest before the expiration of the feast time, in which he might certainly hope to see Jesus liberated by an insurrection, by which means he would be compelled at last to throw himself into the arms of the people, and thus take the decisive step towards the establishment of his dominion. When he heard Jesus speak of the necessity of his being captured, and of his rising again in three clays, he understood these expressions as an intimation of the concurrence of Jesus in his plan; under this mistake, he partly failed to hear, and partly misinterpreted, his additional admonitory discourse; and especially understood the words: What thou doest, do quickly, as an actual encouragement to the execution of his design. He took the thirty pieces of silver from the priests either to conceal his real intentions under the appearance of covetousness, and thus to lull every suspicion on their part; or, because, while he

* Kaiser, bibi. Theol. I, s. 249. Klopstock gives a similar representation in his Messias.

† K. Ch. L. Schmidt, exeg. Beiträge, I, Thl. 2ter Versuch, s. 18 ff.; comp. Schmidt’s Bibliothek, 3, I, s. 163 ff.

‡ Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, b, s. 451 ff. L. J. I, b, s. 143 ff.; Hase, L. J., § 132. Comp. Theile, zur Biographie Jesu, § 33.


expected an exaltation to one of the first places in the kingdom of his master, he was not unwilling to combine with it even that small advantage. But Judas had miscalculated in two points: first, in not considering that after the feasting of the paschal night, the people would not be early on the alert for an insurrection; secondly, in overlooking the probability, that the Sanhedrim would hasten to deliver Jesus into the hands of the Romans, from whom a popular insurrection would hardly suffice to deliver him. Thus Judas is supposed to be either an honest man misunderstood,* or a deluded one, who however was of no common character, but exhibited even in his despair the wreck of apostolic greatness;or, he is supposed, by evil means, indeed, to have sought the attainment of an object, which was nevertheless good.‡ Neander imagines the two opposite opinions concerning Jesus, the supernatural and the natural, to have presented themselves to the mind of Judas in the form of a dilemma, so that he reasoned thus: if Jesus is the Messiah, a delivery into the hands of his enemies will, owing to his supernatural power, in no way injure him, but will, on the contrary, serve to accelerate his glorification: if, on the other hand, he is not the Messiah, he deserves destruction. According to this, the betrayal was merely a test, by which the doubting disciple meant to try the messiahsliip of his master.§

Among these views, that which derives the treachery of Judas from wounded ambition, is the only one which can adduce a positive indication in its favour: namely, the repulse which the traitor drew on himself from Jesus at the meal in Bethany. But against such an appeal to this reproof we have already, on another occasion, applied the remark of the most recent criticism, that its mildness, especially as compared with the far more severe rebuke administered to Peter, Matt. xvi. 23, must forbid our attributing to it such an effect as the rancour which it is supposed to have engendered in Judas|| while that in other instances he was less considered than his fellow-disciples, we have nowhere any trace.

All the other conjectures as to what was properly the motive of the deed of Judas, can only be supported by negative grounds, i.e. grounds which make it improbable in general that his project had a bad aim, and in particular, that his motive was covetousness; a positive proof; that he intended to further the work of Jesus, and especially that he was actuated by violent political views of the Messiah’s kingdom, is not to be discovered.—That Judas had in general no evil designs against Jesus is argued chiefly from the fact, that after the delivery of Jesus to the Romans, and the inevitableness of his death had come to his knowledge, he fell into despair; this being regarded as a proof that he had expected an opposite result. But not only does the unfortunate result of crime, as Paulus thinks, but also its fortunate result, that is, its success, "exhibit

* Schmidt, ut sup.

† Hase.

‡ Paulus.

§ Neander, L. J. Chr., s. 578 f.

|| Vol. II. § 88; comp. Hase, ut sup.


that which had before been veiled under a thousand extenuating pretexts, in all the blackness of its real form." Crime once become real, once passed into act, throws off the mask which it might wear while it remained merely ideal, and existed in thought alone; hence, as little as the repentance of many a murderer, when he sees his victim lie before him, proves that he did not really intend to commit the murder; so little can the anguish of Judas, when he saw Jesus beyond rescue, prove that he had not beforehand contemplated the death of Jesus as the issue of his deed.

But, it is further said, covetousness cannot have been the motive of Judas; for if gain had been his object, he could not be blind to the fact that the continued charge of the purse in the society of Jesus, would yield him more than the miserable thirty pieces of silver (from 20 to 25 thalers,* of our money), a sum which among the Jews formed the compensation for a wounded slave, being four months’ wages. But these thirty pieces of silver are in vain sought for in any other narrator than Matthew. John is entirely silent as to any reward offered to Judas by the priests; Mark and Luke speak indefinitely of money argurion, which they had promised him; and Peter in the Acts (i. 18) merely mentions a reward, misqoV, which Judas obtained. Matthew, however, who alone has that definite sum, leaves us at the same time in no doubt as to the historical value of his statement. After relating the end of Judas (xxvii. 9 f.), he cites a passage from Zechariah (xi. 12 f. ; he ascribes it by mistake to Jeremiah), wherein likewise thirty pieces of silver appear as a price at which some one is valued. It is true that in the prophetic passage the thirty pieces of silver are not given as purchase money, but as hire; he to whom they are paid is the prophet, the representative of Jehovah, and the smallness of the sum is an emblem of the slight value which the Jews set upon the divine benefits so plentifully bestowed on them. But how easily might this passage, where there was mention of a shamefully low price (ironically a good1y price [Heb. letters] ’eder hayqar), at which the Israelites had rated the speaker in the prophecy, remind a Christian reader of his Messiah, who, in any case, had been sold for a paltry price compared with his value, and hence be led to determine by this passage, the price which was paid to Judas for betraying Jesus.‡ Thus the thirty pieces of silver, triakonta arguria, present no support to those who would prove that it could not be the reward which made Judas a traitor; for they leave us as ignorant as ever how great or how small was the reward which Judas received. Neither can we, with Neander, conclude that the sum was trifling from Matt. xxvii. 6 ff. ; Acts i. 18, where it is said that a field, agroV or cwrion, was purchased with the reward assigned to the treachery of Judas; since, even apart from the historical value of that statement, hereafter to

[* The German Thaler (Rixthaler) is equivalent to about three shillings.TR]

† Rosenmüller, Schol. in V. T. 7, 4, s. 318 ff.

‡ Even Neander thinks this a possible origin of the above statement in the first gospel, s. 574, Anm.


be examined, the two expressions adduced may denote a larger or a smaller piece of land, and the additional observations of Matthew, that it was destined to bury strangers in, eiV tafhn toiV xenoiV will not allow us to think of a very small extent. How the same theologian can discover in the statement of the two intermediate Evangelists, that the Jewish rulers had promised Judas money, argurion, an intimation that the sum was small, it is impossible to conceive.—Far more weighty is the observation above made with a different aim, that Jesus would scarcely have appointed and retained as purse-bearer one whom he knew to be covetous even to dishonesty; whence Neander directly infers that the fourth Evangelist, when he derived the remark of Judas at the meal in Bethany from his covetousness, put a false construction upon it, in consequence of the idea which ultimately prevailed respecting Judas, and especially added the accusation, that Judas robbed the common fund, out of his own imagination.* But in opposition to this it is to be asked, whether in Neander’s point of view it be admissible to impute to the apostle John, who is here understood to be the author of the fourth gospel, so groundless a calumny—for such it would be according to Neander’s supposition; and, in our point of view, it would at least be more natural to conclude, that Jesus indeed knew Judas to be fond of money, but did not until the last believe him to be dishonest, and hence did not consider him unfit for the post in question. Neander observes in conclusion: if Judas could be induced by money to betray Jesus, he must have long lost all true faith in him. This indeed follows of necessity, and must be supposed in every view of the subject; but this extinction of faith could of itself only lead him to go back, apelqein eiV ta opisw (John vi. 66); in order to prompt him to meditate treachery there must be a further, special incitement, which, intrinsically, might just as well be covetousness, as the views which are attributed to him by Neander and others.

That covetousness, considered as such an immediate motive, suffices to explain the deed of Judas, I will not maintain; I only contend that any other motives are neither stated nor anywhere intimated in the gospels, and that consequently every hypothesis as to their existence is built on the air.†


On the first day of unleavened bread, in the evening of which the paschal lamb was to be slain, consequently, the day before the feast properly speaking, which however commenced on that evening, i.e. the 14th of Nisan, Jesus, according to the two first Evangelists, in compliance with a question addressed to Him by the disciples, sent—Matthew leaves it undecided which and how many, Mark says, two disciples, whom Luke designates as Peter and John—to

* L. J. Chr., s. 573.

† Comp. also Fritzsche, in Matth., p. 759 f.


Jerusalem (perhaps from Bethany), to bespeak a place in which he might partake of the passover with them, and to make the further arrangements (Matt. xxvi. 17 ff. parall.). The three narrators do not altogether agree as to the directions which Jesus gave to these disciples. According to all, he sends them to a man of whom they had only to desire, in the name of their master didaskaloV, a place in which to celebrate the passover, in order at once to have their want supplied : but first, this locality is more particularly described by the two intermediate Evangelists than by Matthew, namely as a large upper room, which was already furnished and prepared for the reception of guests; and secondly, the manner in which they were to find the owner, is described by the former otherwise than by the latter. Matthew makes Jesus merely say to the disciples, that they were to go to such a man, proV ton deina: the others, that, being come into the city, they would meet a man bearing a pitcher of water, whom they were to follow into the house which he should enter, and there make their application to the owner.

In this narrative there have been found a multitude of difficulties, which Gabler has assembled in a special treatise.* At the very threshold of the narrative it occasions surprise, that Jesus should not have thought of any preparation for the passover until the last day, nay, that he should even then have needed to be reminded of it by the disciples, as the two first Evangelists tell us: for owing to the great influx of people at the time of the passover (2,700,000, according to Josephus),† the accommodations in the city were soon disposed of, and the majority of the strangers were obliged to encamp in tents before the city. It is the more remarkable, then, that, notwithstanding all this the messengers of Jesus find the desired chamber disengaged, and not only so, but actually kept in reserve by the owner and prepared for a repast, as if he had had a presentiment that it would be bespoken by Jesus. And so confidently is this reckoned on by Jesus that he directs his disciples to ask the owner of the house,—not whether he can obtain from him a room in which to eat the passover, but merely—where the guest-chamber appropriated to this purpose may be? or, if we take Matthew’s account, he directs them to say to him that he will eat the passover at his house; to which it must be added that, according to Mark and Luke, Jesus even knows what kind of chamber will be assigned him, and in what part of the house it is situated. But the way in which, according to these two Evangelists, the two disciples were to find their way to the right house, is especially remarkable. The words upagete eiV thn polin proV ton deina in Matthew (v. 18), sound as if Jesus had named the person to whom the disciples were to go, but that the narrator either would not or could not repeat it: whereas in the two other Evangelists, Jesus indicates the house into which they were to enter, by means of a person whom they would meet

* Ueber die Anordnung des letzten Paschamahls Jesu, in his neust. theol. Journal, 2, 5, s. 441 ff.

† Bell. jud. vi. ix. 3.


carrying a vessel of water. Now how could Jesus in Bethany, or wherever else he might be, foreknow this accidental circumstance, unless, indeed, it had been pre-concerted that at this particular time a servant from the house should appear with a vessel of water, and thus await the messengers of Jesus? To the rationalistic expositors everything in our narrative appeared to point to a preconcerted arrangement; and this being presupposed, they believed that all its difficulties would at once be solved. The disciples, dispatched so late, could only find a room disengaged if it had been previously bespoken by Jesus; he could only direct them to address the owner of the house so categorically, if he had already previously made an arrangement with him; this would explain the precise knowledge of Jesus as to the locality, and, lastly, (the point from which this explanation sets out), his certainty that the disciples would meet a man carrying water from that particular house. This circumlocutory manner of indicating the house, which might have been avoided by the simple mention of the owner’s name, is supposed to have been adopted by Jesus, that the place where he intended to keep the passover might not be known before the time to the betrayer, who would otherwise perhaps have surprised him there, and thus have disturbed the repast.*

But such is not at all the impression produced by the evangelical narrative. Of a preconcerted arrangement, of a previous bespeaking of the apartment, it says nothing; on the contrary, the words, they found as he had said unto them, in Mark and Luke, seem intended to convey the idea that Jesus was able to predict everything as they afterwards actually found it; a solicitous foresight is nowhere indicated, but rather a miraculous foreknowledge. Here, in fact, as above in the procuring of the animal for the entrance into Jerusalem, we have a twofold miracle: first, the fact that everything stands ready to supply the wants of Jesus, and that no one is able to withstand the power of his name; secondly, the ability of Jesus to take cognizance of distant circumstances, and to predict the merest fortuities.† It must create surprise that, forcibly as this supranaturalistic conception of the narrative before us urges itself upon the reader, Olshausen himself seeks to elude it, by arguments which would nullify most of the histories of miracles, and which we are accustomed to hear only from rationalists. To the impartial expositor, he says,‡ the narrative does not present the slightest warrant for a miraculous interpretation (we almost fancy ourselves transported into the commentary of Paulus); if the narrators intended to recount a miracle, they must have expressly observed that no previous arrangement had been made (precisely the

* Thus Gabler, ut sup. ; Paulus. exeg. Handb., 3, b, s. 781; Kern, Hauptthatsachen, Tüb. Zeitschr. 1836, 3, s. 3 f.; Neander, s. 583.

† Beza, in Matth. xxvi. 18, correctly, save that he supposes too special a reference to the approaching sufferings of Jesus, thus represents the object of this prediction: ut magis ac magis intelligent discipuli, nihil temere in urbe magistro eventurum, sed quæ ad minutissimas usque circumstantias penitus perspecta haberet.

‡ Bibl. Comm. 2, s. 385 f. Comp. in opposition to this De Wette, in loc.


rationalistic demand—if a cure were meant to be recognised as a miracle, the application of natural means must have been expressly denied); moreover the object of such a miracle is not to be discerned, a strengthening of the faith of the disciples was not then necessary, nor was it to be effected by this unimportant miracle, after the more exalted ones which had preceded it :— grounds on which the thoroughly similar narrative of the procuring of the ass for the entrance, which Olshausen upholds as a miracle, would be equally excluded from the sphere of the supernatural.

The present narrative, indeed, is so strikingly allied to the earlier one just mentioned, that in relation to their historical reality, the same judgment must be passed on both. In the one as in the other, Jesus has a want, the speedy supply of which is so cared for by God, that Jesus foreknows to the minutest particular the manner in which it is to be supplied; in the one he needs a guest chamber, as in the other an animal on which to ride; in the one as in the other, he sends out two disciples, to bespeak the thing required; in the one he gives them as a sign by which to find the right house—a man carrying water whom they are to meet, as in the other they have a sign in the circumstance of the ass being tied where two roads meet; in the one as in the other, he directs his disciples simply to mention him to the owner, in the one case as the master, didaskaloV, in the other, as the lord, kurioV, in order to ensure unhesitating compliance with his demand; in both instances the result closely corresponds to his prediction. In the narrative more immediately under our consideration, as in the earlier one, there is wanting an adequate object, for the sake of which so manifold a miracle should have been ordained; while the motive which might occasion the development of the miraculous narrative in the primitive Christian legend is obvious. An Old Testament narrative, to which we have already had occasion to refer in connexion with the earlier miracle, is still more strikingly recalled by the one before us. After disclosing to Saul that he was destined to be King of Israel, Samuel, as a sign of the truth of this more remote announcement, foretells whom Saul will meet on his return homewards: namely, first two men with the information that his father’s asses are found; then three others, who will be carrying animals for sacrifice, bread and wine, and will offer him some of the bread, etc. (I Sam. x. 1 ff.): whence we see by what kind of predictions the Hebrew legend made its prophets attest their inspiration.

As regards the relation of the gospels to each other, the narrative of Matthew is commonly placed far below that of the two other synoptists, and regarded as the later and more traditional.* The circumstance of the man carrying water, especially, is held to have belonged to the original fact, but to have been lost in tradition before the narrative reached Matthew, who inserted in its place the

* Schulz, über das Abendmahl, s. 321 ; Schleiermacher, über den Lukas, s. 280; Weisse, die evang. Gesch., s. 6oo f.


enigmatical upagete proV ton deina, go to such a man. But we have seen, on the contrary, that the deina presents no difficulty; while the circumstance of the water-bearer is in the highest degree enigmatical.* Still less is the omission of Matthew to designate the two commissioned disciples as Peter and John, an indication that the narrative of the third gospel is the more original one. For when Schleierrnacher says that this trait might easily be lost in the course of transmission through several hands, but that it could scarcely have been added by a later hand,—the latter half of his proposition, at least, is without foundation. There is little probability that Jesus should have assigned so purely economical an office to the two most eminent disciples; whereas it is easy to conceive that in the first instance it was simply narrated, as by Matthew, that Jesus sent the disciples or some disciples, that hereupon the number was fixed at two, perhaps from the narrative of the procuring of the ass, and that at length, as the appointment had relation to a task which was ultimately of high importance,—the preparing of the last meal of Jesus,—these places were filled by the two chief apostles, so that in this instance even Mark appears to have kept nearer to the original fact, since he has not adopted into his narrative the names of the two disciples, which are presented by Luke.


Not only does the fourth Evangelist omit all mention of the above arrangements for the paschal meal; he also widely diverges from the synoptists in relation to the meal itself. Independently of the difference which runs throughout the description of the scene, and which can only be hereafter considered, he appears, in regard to the time of the meal, to represent it as occurring before the passover, as decidedly as it is represented by the synoptists to be the paschal meal itself.

When we read in the latter, that the day on which the disciples were directed by Jesus to prepare for the meal, was already the first day of unleavened bread, h prwth twn azumwn when the passover must be killed, en h edei quesqai to pasca (Matt. xxvi. 17 parall.): we cannot suppose the meal in question to have been any other than the paschal; further, when the disciples ask Jesus, Where will thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? pou qeleiV etoimaswmen soi fagein to pasca; when it is hereupon said of the disciples, that they made ready the passover, htoimasan to pasca (Matt. V. 19 parall.), and of Jesus, that when evening was come, he sat down with the twelve, oyiaV genomenhV anekeito meta twn dwdeka (v. 20): the meal to which they here sat down appears to be marked

* Vid. Theile, über die letzte Mahlzeit Jesu, in Winer’s and Engelhardt’s neuem krit. Journal, 2, s. 169, Anm., and zur Biographie Jesu, § 31.


out even to the superfluity as the paschal, even if Luke (xxii. 15) did not make Jesus open the repast with the words: With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you, epiqumia epequmhsa touto to pasca fagein mequmwn.—When, on the other hand, the fourth gospel commences its narrative of the last meal with the statement of time: before the feast of the passover, pro de thV eorthV tou pasca, (xiii. 1); the supper. deipvov, which is mentioned immediately after (v. 2), appears also to happen before the passover; especially as throughout John’s description of this evening, which, especially in relation to the discourses accompanying the meal, is very ample, there is not any notice or even allusion, to indicate that Jesus was on this occasion celebrating the passover. Further, when Jesus after the meal addresses the traitor with the summons, what thou doest, do quickly, this is misunderstood by the rest of the disciples to mean, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast, eiV thn eorthn (v. 29). Now the requirements for the feast related chiefly to the paschal meal, and consequently the meal just concluded cannot have been the paschal. Again, it is said, xviii. 28, that on the following morning, the Jews would not enter the Gentile prætorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the passover, ina mh mianqwsin, allina fagwsi to pasca: whence it would seem that the paschal meal was yet in prospect. To this it may be added that this same succeeding day, on which Jesus was crucified, is called the preparation of the passover, paraskeuh tou pasca, i.e. the day on the evening of which the paschal lamb was to be eaten; moreover, when it is said of the second day after the meal in question, being that which Jesus passed in the grave: that sabbath day was an high day, hn gar megalh h hmera ekeinou tou sabbatou (xix. 31); this peculiar solemnity appears to have proceeded from the circumstance, that on that sabbath fell the first day of the passover, so that the paschal lamb was not eaten on the evening on which Jesus was arrested, but on the evening of his burial.

These divergencies are so important, that many expositors, in order to prevent the Evangelists from falling into contradiction with each other, have here also tried the old expedient of supposing that they do not speak of the same thing—that John intends to describe an altogether different repast from

that of the synoptists. According to this view, the deipnon of John was an ordinary evening meal, doubtless in Bethany; on this occasion Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, spoke of the betrayer, and after Judas had left the company, added other discourses of a consoling and admonitory tendency, until at length, on the morning of the 14th of Nisan, he summoned the disciples to depart from Bethany and proceed to Jerusalem, in the words: Arise, let us go hence (xiv. 31). Here the synoptical account may be interposed, since it represents the two disciples as being sent forward to Jerusalem to prepare for the paschal meal, and then records its celebration, concerning which John is silent, and only


takes up the thread of the narrative at the discourses delivered after the paschal meal (xv. 1 ff.).* But this attempt to avoid contradiction by referring the respective narratives to totally different events, is counteracted by the undeniable identity of many features in the two meals. Independeritly of isolated particulars which are found alike in both accounts, it is plain that John, as well as the synoptists, intends to describe the last meal of which Jesus partook with his disciples. This is implied in the introduction to John’s narrative; for the proof which is there said to be given of Jesus having loved his own unto the end, eiV teloV, may be the most suitably referred to his last moments of companionship with them. In like manner, the discourses after the meal point to the prospect of immediate separation; and the meal and discourses are, in John also, immediately followed by the departure to Gethsemane and the arrest of Jesus. It is true that, according to the above opinion, these last-named incidents are connected only with those discourses which were delivered on the occasion of the later meal, omitted by John (xv. 17) : but that between xiv. 31 and xv. 1 the author of the fourth gospel intentionally omitted the whole incident of the paschal meal, is a position which, although it might appear to explain with some plausibility the singular egeiresqe, agwmen enteuqen, Arise, let us go hence, no one will now seriously maintain. But even admitting such an ellipsis, there still remains the fact that Jesus (xiii. 38) foretells to Peter his denial with this determination of time: ou mh alektwr fwnhsh, the cock shall not crow, which he could only make use of at the last meal, and not, as is here presupposed, at an earlier one.†

Thus this expedient must be relinquished, and it must be admitted that all the Evangelists intend to speak of the same meal, namely, the last of which Jesus partook with his disciples. And in making this admission, the fairness which we owe to every author, and which was believed to be due in a peculiar degree to the authors of the Bible, appeared to demand an enquiry whether, although they represent one and the same event with great divergencies in several respects, yet nevertheless both sides may not be correct. To obtain an affirmative result of this inquiry it must be shown, as regards the time, either that the three first Evangelists, as well as the fourth, do not intend to describe a paschal meal, or that the latter, as well as the former, does so intend.

In an ancient Fragmentit is sought to solve the problem in the first method, by denying that Matthew places the last meal of Jesus at the proper time for the paschal meal, the evening of the 14th of Nisan, and his passion on the first day of the feast of the passover, the 15th of Nisan; but one does not see how the express indications respecting the passover in the synoptists can be neutralized.

* Thus Lightfoot, horæ, p. 463 ff.; Hess, Geschichte Jesu, 2, s. 273 ff.; also Venturini 3, s. 634ff.

† An insufficient outlet from this difficulty is pointed out by Lightfoot, p. 482 f.

‡ Fragm. ex Claudii Apollinaris libro de Paschate, in Chron. Paschal. ed. du Fresne. Paris, 1688, p. 6 f. præf.


Hence it has been a far more general attempt in recent times, to draw John to the side of the other Evangelists.* His expression before the feast of the passover, pro thV eorthV tou pasca (xiii. 1), was thought to be divested of its difficulty by the observation that it is not immediately connected with the supper deipnon, but only with the statement that Jesus knew that his hour was come, and that he loved his own unto the end; it is only in the succeeding verse that there is any mention of the meal, to which therefore that determination of time does not refer. But to what then can it refer? to the knowledge that his hour was come? this is only an incidental remark; or to the love which endured to the end? but to this so special a determination of time can only refer, if an external proof of love be intended, and such an one is presented in his conduct at the meal, which consequently remains the point to which that determination of the day must apply. It is therefore conjectured farther that the words pro thV eorthV tou pasca were used out of accommodation to the Greeks for whom John wrote: since that people did not, like the Jews, begin their day with the evening, the meal taken at the beginning of the first day of the passover, would appear to them to be taken on the evening before the passover. But what judicious writer, if he supposes a misconstruction possible on the part of the reader, chooses language which can only serve to encourage that misconstruction? A still more formidable difficulty is presented by xviii. 28, where the Jews, on the morning after the imprisonment of Jesus, will not enter the judgment hall lest they should be defiled, but that they may eat the passover,allina fagwsi to pasca. Nevertheless it was supposed that passages such as Deut. xvi. i, 2, where all the sacrifices to be killed during the time of the passover are denoted by the expression [Heb. letters] pesakh, authorise the interpretation of to pasca in this place of the remaining sacrifices to be offered during the paschal week, and especially of the Chagiga, which was to be consumed towards the end of the first feast day. But as Mosheim has correctly remarked, from the fact that the paschal lamb, together with the rest of the sacrifices to be offered during the feast of the passover was designated pasca, it by no means follows that these can be so designated with the exclusion of the paschal lamb.† On the other hand, the friends of the above view have sought to show the necessity of their mode of interpretation, by observing that for the eating of the passover which was celebrated late in the evening, consequently at the commencement of the succeeding day, the entering of a Gentile house in the morning, being a defilement which lasted only through the current day, would have been no disqualification; but that it would have been such for the partaking of the Chagiga, which was eaten in the afternoon, consequently on the same day on which the defilement was contracted; so that only this, and

* See especially Tholuck and Olshausen, in loc.; Kern, Hauptthatsachen, Tüb. Zeitschr. 1836, 3, s. 5 ff.

† Diss. de vera notione coene Domini, annexed to Cudworth, syst. intel1., p. 22, not. 1.


not the passover, can have been intended. But first, we do not know whether entrance into a Gentile house was a defilement for the day merely; secondly, if such were the case, the Jews, by a defilement contracted in the morning, would still have disqualified themselves from participating in the preparatory proceedings, which fell on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan; as, for example, the slaying of the lamb in the outer court of the temple. Lastly, in order to interpret the passage xix. 14 in consistency with their own view, the harmonists understand the preparaIian of the passover, paraskeuh tou pasca, to mean the day of preparation for the sabbath in the Easter week; a violence of interpretation which at least finds no countenance in xix. 31, where the paraskeuh is said to be the preparation for the sabbath, since from this passage it only appears, that the Evangelist conceived the first day of the passover as occurring that year on the sabbath.*

These difficulties, which resist the reference of the narrative in John to a real paschal meal, appeared to be obviated by a presupposition derived from Lev. xxiii. 5; Num. ix. 3; and a passage in Josephus ;namely, that the paschal lamb was eaten, not on the evening from the 14th to the 15th, but on that from the 13th to the 14th of Nisan, so that between the paschal meal and the first feast day, the 15th of Nisan, there fell a working day, the 14th. On this supposition, it would be correct that the day following the last paschal meal taken by Jesus, should be called, as in John xix. 14, the preparation of the passover, paraskeuh tou pasca, because it was actually a day of preparation for the feast day; it would also be correct that the following sabbath should be called megalh (xix. 31), since it would coincide with the first day of the feast.‡ But the greatest difficulty, which lies in John xviii. 28, remains unsolved; for on this plan the words, that they might eat the passover, ina fagwsi to pasca, must, since the paschal meal would be already past, be understood of the unleavened bread, which was eaten also during the succeeding feast days: an interpretation which is contrary to all the usages of language. If to this it be added, that the supposition of a working day falling between the passover and the first feast day, has no foundation in the Pentateuch and Josephus, that it is decidedly opposed to later custom, and is in itself extremely improbable; this expedient cannot but be relinquished.§

Perceiving the impossibility of effecting the reconciliation of the synoptists with John by this simple method, other expositors have resorted to a more artificial expedient. The appearance of the Evangelists having placed the last meal of Jesus on different days, is alleged to have its truth in the fact, that either the Jews or Jesus

* See these counter observations particularly in Lücke and de Wette, in loc.; in Sieffert über den Ursprung, s. 127 ff., and Winer, bibl. Realwörterb. 2, s. 238 ff.

† Antiq. II. xiv. 16.

‡ Fritzsche, vom Osterlamm; more recently, Rauch, in the theol. Studien und Kritiken, 1832, 3, s. 537 f.

§ Comp. De Wette, theol. Studien und Krit. 1834, 4, s.. 939 f.; Tholuck, Comm. z. Joh. s. 245 f.; Winer, ut sup.


celebrated the passover on another than the usual day. The Jews, say some, in order to avoid the inconvenience arising from the circumstance, that in that year the first day of the passover fell on a Friday, so that two consecutive days must have been solemnized as a sabbath, deferred the paschal meal until the Friday evening, whence on the day of the crucifixion they had still to beware of defilement; Jesus, however, adhering strictly to the law, celebrated it at the prescribed time, on the Thursday evening: so that the synoptists are right when they describe the last meal of Jesus as an actual celebration of the passover; and John also is right when he represents the Jews as, the day after, still looking forward to the eating of the paschal lamb.* In this case, Mark would be wrong in his statement, that on the day when they killed the passover, ote to pasca equon (v. 12), Jesus also caused it to be prepared; but the main point is, that though in certain cases the passover was celebrated in a later month, it was still on the 15th day; there is nowhere any trace of a transference to a later day of the same month.—It has therefore been a more favourite supposition that Jesus anticipated the usual time of eating the passover. From purely personal motives, some have thought, foreseeing that at the proper time of the paschal supper he should be already lying in the grave, or at least not sure of life until that period, he, like those Jews who were prevented from journeying to the feast, and like all the Jews of the present day, without a sacrificed lamb, and with mere substitutes for it, celebrated a commemorative passover, pasca mnhmoneutikon.But in the first place, Jesus would not then, as Luke says, have kept the passover on the day on which the passover must be killed, en h edei quesqai to pasca; and secondly, in the merely commemorative celebration of the passover, though the prescribed locality (Jerusalem) is dispensed with, the regular time (the evening from the 14th to the 15th Nisan) is inviolably observed: whereas in the case of Jesus the reverse would hold, and he would have celebrated the passover at the usual place, but at an unusual time, which is without example. To shield the alleged transposition of the passover by Jesus from the charge of being unprecedented and arbitrary, it has been maintained that an entire party of his cotemporaries joined in celebrating the passover earlier than the great body of the nation. It is known that the Jewish sect of the Caraites or Scripturalists differed from the Rabbinites or Traditionalists especially in the determination of the new moon, maintaining that the practice of the latter in fixing the new moon according to astronomical calculation was an innovation, whereas they, true to the ancient, legal practice, determined it according to an empirical observation of the phase of the new luminary. Now in the time of Jesus, we are told, the Sadducees, from whom the Caraites are said to have sprung, determined the time of the new moon, and with it that of the festival of the passover, which was dependent upon it,

* Calvin, in Matth. xxvi. 17.

† Grotius, in Matth. xxvi. 18.


differently from the Pharisees and Jesus, as the opponent of tradition and the friend of scripture, favoured their practice in this matter.* But not to insist that the connexion of the Caraites with the ancient Sadducees is a mere conjecture; it was a well-founded objection put forth by the Caraites, that the determination of the new moon by calculation did not arise until after the destruction of the temple by the Rornans; so that at the time of Jesus such a difference cannot have existed; nor is there besides any indication to be discovered that at that time the passover was celebrated on different days by different parties.† Supposing, however, that the above difference as to the determining of the new moon already prevailed in the time of Jesus, the settling of it according to the phase, which Jesus is supposed to have followed, would rather have resulted in a later than an earlier celebration of the passover; whence some have actually conjectured that more probably Jesus followed the astronomical calculation.

Besides what may thus be separately urged against every attempt at an amicable adjustment of the differences between the Evangelists, as to the time of the last supper; there is one circumstance which is decisive against all, and which only the most recent criticism has adequately exposed. With respect, namely, to this contradiction, the case is not so that among passages for the most part harmonious, there appear only one or two statements of an apparently inconsistent sense, of which it might be said that the author had here used an inaccurate expression, to be explained from tile remaining passages: but, that all the chronological statements of the synoptists tend to show that Jesus must have celebrated the passover, all those of John, on the contrary, that he cannot have celebrated it.§ Thus there stand opposed to each other two differing series of evangelical passages, which are manifestly based on two different views of the fact on the part of the narrators: hence, as Sieffert remarks, to persist in disputing the existence of a divergency between the Evangelists, can no longer be regarded as scientific exposition, but only as unscientitic arbitrariness and obstinacy.

Modern criticism is therefore constrained to admit, that on one side or the other there is an error; and, setting aside the current prejudices in favour of the fourth gospel, it was really an important reason which appeared to necessitate the imputation of this error to the synoptists. The ancient Fragment attributed to Apollinaris, mentioned above, objects to the opinion that Jesus suffered on the great day of unleavened bread, th megalh hmera twn azumwn epaqen, that this would have been contrary to the law asumfwnoJV tw nomw; and in recent times also it has been observed, that the day following the last meal of Jesus is treated on all sides so entirely as a working day, that it cannot be supposed the first day of the passover, nor,

* Iken, Diss. philol. theol, vol. 2, p. 436 ff.

† Vid. Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, a, S. 486 ff.

‡ Michaelis, Anm. zu Joh. 13.

§ Sieffert, ut sup.; Has; L. J., § 124; De Wette, exeg. Handb. I, 3, s. 149 ff; Theile, zur Biographie Jesu, § 31.


consequently, the meal of the previous evening, the paschal meal. Jesus does not solemnize the day, for he goes out of the city, an act which was forbidden on the night of the passover; nor do his friends, for they begin the preparations for his burial, and only leave them unfinished on account of the arrival of the next day, the sabbath still less do the members of the Sauhedrim keep it sacred, for they not only send their servants out of the city to arrest Jesus, but also personally undertake judicial proceedings, a trial, sentence, and accusation before the Procurator; in general, there appears, throughout, only the fear of desecrating the following day, which commenced on the evening of the crucifixion, and nowhere any solicitude about the current one: clear signs that the synoptical representation of the meal as a paschal one, is a later error, since in the remaining narrative of the synoptists themselves, there is evidence, not easy to be mistaken, of the real fact, that Jesus was crucified before the passover.* These observations are certainly of weight. It is true that the first, relative to the conduct of Jesus, might perhaps be invalidated by the contradiction existing between the Jewish decisions as to the law citedwhile the last and strongest may be opposed by the fact, that trying and giving sentence on the sabbaths and feast days was not only permitted among the Jews, but there was even a larger place for the administration of justice on such days, on account of the greater concourse of people; so, also, according to the New Testament itself, the Jews sent out officers to seize Jesus on the great day hmera megalh of the Feast of Tabernacles (John vii. 44 1.), and at the Feast of Dedication they were about to stone him (John X. 31), while Herod caused Peter to be imprisoned during the days of unleavened bread; though indeed he intended to defer the public sentencing and execution until alter the passover (Acts xii. 2 f.). In proof that the crucifixion of Jesus might take place on the feast of the passover, it is urged that the execution was performed by Roman soldiers; and that moreover, even according to Jewish custom, it was usual to reserve the execution of important criminals for a feast time, in order to make an impression on a greater multitude.‡ But only thus much is to be proved: that during the feast time, and thus during the passover, on the five intermediate and less solemn days, criminals were tried and executed,—not that this was admissible also on the first and last days of the passover, which ranked as sabbaths:§ and thus we read in the Talmud that Jesus was crucified on the [Heb. letters] ‘rb pskh, i.e. the evening before the passover.|| It would be another

* Theile, in Winer’s Krit. Journal, 2, 5. 157 ff; Sieffert and Lücke, ut sup.

† Pesachin f. lxv. 2, ap. Lighifoot, p. 654: Paschate primo tenetur quispiam ad pernoctatione. Gloss.: Paschatizans tenetur ad pernoctandum in Hierosolyma nocte prima. On the other hand, Tosaphoth ad tr. Pesachin 8: In Paschate Aegyptiaco dicitur: nemo exeat— usque ad mane. Sed sic non fuit in sequentibus generationibus, —quibus comedebalur id uno loco et pernoctabant in alio. Comp. Schneckenburger, Beiträge, s. 9.

‡ Tract. Sanhedr. f. lxxxix. I, ap. Schöttgen, i. p. 221 ; comp. Paulus, ut sup. s. 492.

§ Fritzsche, in Matth., p. 763 f.; comp. 755; Lücke, 2, s. 614.

|| Sanhedr. f. xliii. 1, ap. Schõttgen, ii. p. 700.


thing if, as Dr. Baur strives to prove, the execution of criminals, as a sanguinary expiation for the people, belonged to the essential significance of the passover, as a feast of expiation, and hence the custom, noticed by the Evangelists, of liberating a prisoner at the feast had been only the reverse side to the execution of another, presenting the same relation as that between the two goats and the two sparrows in the Jewish offerings of atonement and purification.*

It is certainly very possible that the primitive Christian tradition might be led even unhistorically to associate the last supper of Jesus with the paschal lamb and the day of his death with the feast of the passover As the Christian supper represented in its form, the passover, and in its import, the death of Jesus: it was natural enough to unite these two points—to place the execution of Jesus on the first day of the passover, and to regard his last meal, at which he was held to have founded the Christian supper, as the paschal meal. It is true that presupposing the author of the first gospel to have been an apostle and a participator in the last meal of Jesus, it is difficult to explain how he could fall into such a mistake. At least it is not enough to say, with Theile, that the more the last meal partaken with their master transcended all paschal meals in interest to the disciples, the less would they concern themselves as to the time of it, whether it occurred on the evening of the passover, or a day earlier.† For the first Evangelist does not leave this undetermined, but speaks expressly of a paschal meal, and to this degree a real participator, however long he might write after that evening, could not possibly deceive himself. Thus on the above view, the supposition that the first Evangelist was an eye-witness must be renounced, and he must be held, in common with the two intermediate ones, to have drawn his materials from tradition.‡ The difficulty arising from the fact, that all the synoptists, and consequently all those writers who have preserved to us the common evangelical tradition, agree in such an error,§ may perhaps be removed by the observation, that just as generally as in the Judæo-Christian communities, in which the evangelical tradition was originally formed, the Jewish passover was still celebrated, so generally must the effort present itself to give that feast a Christian import, by referring it to the death and the last meal of Jesus.

But it is equally easy, presupposing the correctness of the synoptical determination of time, to conceive how John might be led erroneously to place the death of Jesus on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan, and his last meal on the previous evening. If, namely, this Evangelist found in the circumstance that the legs of the crucified Christ were not broken, a fulfilment of the words Not a bone

* Ueber die ursprüngliche Bedeutung des Passahfestes u. s. w., Tübinger, Zeitschrift f. Theol. 1832, I, s. 90 ff.

† Ut sup. s. 167 ff.

‡ Sieffert, ut sup. s. 144 ff.; Lücke, s. 628 ff.; Theile, zur Biogr. Jesu, § 31 ; Dc Wette, exeg. Handb. I, 3, s. 149 ff. ; comp. Neander, L. J. Chr., s. 580 ff. Anm.

§ Fritzsche, in Matth., p. 763; Kern, über den Urspr. des Ev. Matth. in der Tüb. Zeitschrift, 1834, 2, s. 98.


of him shall be broken ostoun ou suntribhsetai autw (Exod. xii. 46) : this supposed relation between the death of Jesus and the paschal lamb might suggest to him the idea, that at the same time in which the paschal lambs were killed, on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan, Jesus suffered on the cross and gave up the ghost ;* in which case the meal taken the evening before was not the paschal meal.†

Thus we can conceive a possible cause of error on both sides, and since the internal difficulty of the synoptical determination of time, namely, the manifold violations of the first day of the passover, is in some degree removed by the observations above cited, and is counterpoised by the agreement of three Evangelists: our only course is to acknowledge an irreconcilable contradiction between the respective accounts, without venturing a decision as to which is the correct one.


Not only in relation to the time of the last meal of Jesus, but also in relation to what passed on that occasion, there is a divergency between the Evangelists. The chief difference lies between the synoptists and the fourth gospel: but, on a stricter comparison, it is found that only Matthew and Mark closely agree, and that Luke diverges from them considerably, though on the whole he is more accordant with his predecessors than with his successor.

Besides the meal itself, the following features are common to all the accounts: that, during the meal, the coming betrayal by Judas is spoken of; and that, during or after the meal, Jesus predicts to Peter his denial. As minor differences we may notice, that in John, the mode of indicating the traitor is another and more precise than that described by the other Evangelists, and has a result of which the latter are ignorant; and that, further, in the fourth gospel the meal is followed by prolonged farewell discourses, which are not found in the synoptists: but the principal difference is, that while according to the synoptists Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper at this final meal, in John he instead of this washes the disciples’ feet.

The three synoptists have in common the instituting of the Lord’s supper, together with the announcement of the betrayal, and the denial; but there exists a divergency between the two first and the third as to the order of these occurrences, for in the former the announcement of the betrayal stands first, in the latter, the instituting of the Supper; while the announcement of Peter’s denial, in Luke, apparently takes place in the room in which the repast had been held, in the two other Evangelists, on the way to the Mount of

* Comp. Suicer, thesaur. 2, s. 613.

† Another view as to the cause of the error in the fourth gospel is given in the Probabilia, s. 100 ff.; comp. Weisse, die evang. Gesch. I, s. 446 f. Anm.


Olives. Again, Luke introduces some passages which the two first Evangelists either do not give at all, or not in this connexion: the contention for pre-eminence and the promise of the twelve thrones, have in their narratives a totally different position; while what passes in Luke on the subject of the swords is in them entirely wanting.

In his divergency from the two first Evangelists, Luke makes some approximation to the fourth. As John, in the washing of the disciples’ feet, presents a symbolical act having reference to ambitious contention for pre-eminence, accompanied by discourses on humility: so Luke actually mentions a contention for pre-eminence, and appends to it discourses not entirely without affinity with those in John ; further, it is in common with John that Luke makes the observations concerning the betrayer occur at the opening of the repast, and after a symbolical act; and lastly, that he represents the announcement of Peter’s denial as having been delivered in the room where the repast had been held.

The greatest difficulty here naturally arises from the divergency, that the institution of the Lord’s supper, unanimously recorded by the synoptists, is wanting in John,:who in its stead relates a totally different act of Jesus, namely, the washing of the disciples’ feet. Certainly, by those who, in similar cases, throughout the whole previous course of the evangelical narrative, have found a sufficient resource in the supposition, that it was the object of John to supply the omissions of the earlier gospels, the present difficulty is surmounted as well, or as ill, as any other. John, it is said, saw that the institution of the Supper was already narrated in the three first Evangelists in a way which fully agreed with his own recollection; hence he held a repetition of it superfluous.* But if, among the histories already recorded in the three first gospels, the fourth Evangelist really intended to reproduce only those in the representation of which he found something to rectify or supply: why does he give another edition of the history of the miraculous feeding, in which he makes no emendation of any consequence, and at the same time omit the institution of the Lord’s supper? For here the divergencies between the synoptists in the arrangement of the scene, and the turn given to the words of Jesus, and more especially the circumstance that they, according to his representation, erroneously, make that institution occur on the evening of the passover, must have appeared to him a reason for furnishing an authentic account. In consideration of this difficulty, the position that the author of the fourth gospel was acquainted with the synoptical writings, and designed to complete and rectify them, is now, indeed, abandoned; but it is still maintained that he was acquainted with the common oral tradition, and supposed it known to his readers also, and on this ground, it is alleged, he passed over the institution of the Supper as a history

* Paulus, 3, b, s. 499; Olshausen, 2, s. 294.


generally known.* But that it should be the object of an evangelical writing to narrate only the less known, omitting the known, is an idea which cannot be consistently entertained. Written records imply a mistrust of oral tradition; they are intended not merely as a supplement to this, but also as a means of fixing and preserving it, and hence the capital facts, being the most spoken of, and therefore the most exposed to misrepresentation, are precisely those which written records can the least properly omit. Such a fact is the founding of the Lord’s supper, and we find, from a comparison of the different New Testament accounts, that the expressions with which Jesus instituted it must have early received additions or mutilations ; consequently, it is the last particular which John should have omitted. But, it is further said, the narrating of the institution of the Lord’s supper was of no importance to the object of the fourth gospel.† How so? With regard to its general object, the convincing of its readers that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God (xx. 31), was it of no importance to communicate a scene in which he appears as the founder of a new covenant, kainh diaqhkh? and in relation to the special object of the passage in question, namely, the exhibiting of the love of Jesus as a love which endured unto the end (xiii. 1), would it have contributed nothing to mention how he offered his body and blood as meat and drink to his followers, and thus realized his words in John vi.? But, it is said, John here as elsewhere, only concerns himself with the more profound discourses of Jesus, for which reason he passes over the institution of the Supper, and begins his narrative with the

discourse connected with the washing of the disciples’ feet.‡ Nothing, however, but the most obdurate prejudice in favour of the fourth gospel, can make this discourse on humility appear more profound than what Jesus says of the partaking of his body and blood, when instituting the Lord’s supper.

But the main point is that harmonists should show us in what part of John’s narrative, if we are to believe that he presupposed Jesus to have instituted the Supper at this last meal, he can have made the alleged omission—that they should indicate the break at which that incident may be suitably introduced. On looking into the different commentaries, there appears to be more than one place excellently adapted to such an insertion. According to Olshausen, the end of the 13th chapter, after the announcement of Peter’s denial, presents the interval in which the institution of the Supper must be supposed to occur; herewith the repast closed, and the succeeding discourses from xiv. 1 were uttered by Jesus after the general rising from table, and while standing in the chamber.§ But, here, it appears as if Olshausen, for the sake of obtaining a resting place between xiii. 38 and xiv. 1, had resigned himself to the delusion of supposing that the words Arise, let us go hence, at which he makes Jesus rise from table and deliver the rest of his discourse standing, are found at the end of the 13th chapter, whereas they do not occur until the end of the 14th. Jesus had been speaking of going whither his disciples could not follow him, and had just rebuked the rashness of Peter, in volunteering to lay down life for his sake, by the prediction of his denial: here, at xiv. 1 ff., he calms the minds of the disciples, whom this prediction had disturbed, exhorting them to faith, and directing their attention to the blessed effects of his departure.—Repelled by the firm coherence of this part of the discourse, other commentators, e.g. Paulus, retreat to xiii. 30, and are of opinion that the institution of the Supper may be the most fitly introduced after the withdrawal of Judas, for the purpose of putting his treachery into execution, since this circumstance might naturally excite in Jesus those thoughts concerning his death which lie at the basis of the institution.|| But even rejecting the opinion of Lücke and others, that ote exhlqe when he went out, should be united to legei o IhsouV, Jesus said, it is unquestionable that the words of Jesus v. 31, Now is the Son of man glorified, etc., and what he says farther on (v. 33) of his speedy departure, have an immediate reference to the retiring of Judas. For the verb doxazein in the fourth gospel always signifies the glorification of Jesus, to which he is to be led by suffering; and with the departure of the apostate disciple to those who brought suffering and death on Jesus, his glorification and his speedy death were decided.—The verses 31—33 being thus inseparably connected with v. 30; the next step is to carry the institution of the Supper somewhat lower, and place it where this connexion may appear to cease: accordingly, Lücke makes it fall between v. 33 and 34. supposing that after Jesus (v. 3 1—33) had composed the minds of the disciples, disturbed and shocked by the departure of the traitor, and had prepared them for the sacred meal, he, at v. 34 f., annexes to the distribution of the bread and wine the new commandment of love. But, as it has been elsewhere remarked, ¶ since at v. 36 Peter asks Jesus, in allusion to v. 33, whither he will go, it is impossible that the Supper can have been instituted after the declaration of Jesus v. 33; for otherwise Peter would have interpreted the expression I go, upagw, by the body given swma didomenon and the blood shed, aima ekcunomenon or in any case would rather have felt prompted to ask the meaning of these latter expressions.— Acknowledging this, Neander retreats a verse, and inserts the Supper between v. 32 and 33;* but he thus violently severs the obvious connexion between the words euquV doxasei auton shall straightway glorify him in the former verse, and the words eti mikron mequmwn eimi yet a little while I am with you in the latter.—It is, therefore, necessary to retreat still farther than Neander, or even Paulus : but as from v. 30 up to v. 18, the discourse turns uninterruptedly

* Lücke, 2, s. 484 f.; Neander, L. J. Chr., s. 583, Anm.

† Olshausen, ut sup.

‡ Sieffert, über den Urspr., s. 152.

§ Bibl. Comm. 2, s. 330, 381 f.

|| Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, b, s. 497.

¶Meyer, Comm. über den Joh., in loc.

* L.J. Chr., s. 587, Anm.


on the traitor, and this discourse again is inseparably linked to the washing of the disciples’ feet and the explanation of that act, there is no place at which the institution of the Supper can be inserted until the beginning of the chapter. Here, however, according to one of the most recent critics, it may be inserted in a way which perfectly exonerates the author of the gospel from the reproach of misleading his reader by an account which is apparently continuous, while it nevertheless passes over the Supper. For, says this critic, from the very commencement John does not profess to narrate anything of the meal itself, or what was concomitant with it, but only what occurred after the meal; inasmuch as the most natural interpretation of deipnou genomenou is: after the meal was ended, while the words egeiretai ek tou deipnou, he riseth from supper, plainly show that the washing of the disciples’ feet was not commenced until after the meal.* But after the washing of the feet is concluded, it is said of Jesus, that he sat down again (anapeswn palin v. 12), consequently the meal was not yet ended when he commenced that act, and by the words lie riseth from supper, it is meant that he rose to wash the disciples’ feet from the yet unfinished meal, or at least after the places had been taken preparatory to the meal. Again, deipnou genomenou does not mean: after a meal was ended, any more than the words tou I. genomenou en Bhqania (Matt. xxvi. 6) mean: after Jesus had been in Bethany: as the latter expression is intended by Matthew to denote the time during the residence of Jesus in Bethany, so the former is intended by John to denote the course of the meal itself.† Hence he thereby professes to inform us of every remarkable occurrence connected with that meal, and in omitting to mention the institution of the Lord’s supper, which was one of its features, he incurs the reproach of having given a deficient narrative, nay of having left out precisely what is most important.—Instead of this highest extremity of John’s account, Kern has recently taken the lowest, and has placed the institution of the Supper after the words, Arise, let us go hence, xiv. 37 ; ‡ whereby he assigns to it the improbable and indeed unworthy position, of an act only occurring to Jesus when he is preparing to depart.

Thus, viewing the subject generally, there is no conceivable motive why John, if he spoke of this last evening at all, should have omitted the institution of the Lord’s supper; while, on descending to a particular consideration, there is in the course of his narrative no point where it could be inserted: hence nothing remains but to conclude that he does not mention it because it was unknown to him. But as a means of resisting this conclusion, theologians, even such as acknowledge themselves unable to explain the omission of the institution, rely on the observation, that a rite so universally prevalent in the primitive church as was the Lord’s supper, cannot possibly have been unknown to the fourth Evangelist, whoever he

* Sieifert, s. 152 ff.

† Comp. Lücke, s. 468.

‡ Die Hauptthatsachen der evang. Gesch. Tüb. Zeitschr. 1836, 3, s. 72.


may have been.* Certainly, he knew of the Lord’s supper as a Christian rite, for this may be inferred from his 6th chapter, and unavoidably he must have known of it; it may, however, have been unknown to him under what circumstances Jesus formally instituted this observance. The referring of so revered an usage to the authority of Jesus himself was an object of interest to this Evangelist; but from unacquauntance with the synoptical scene, and also from a partiality for the mysterious, which led him to put into the mouth of Jesus expressions unintelligible at the moment, and only to be explained by the issue, he effected this purpose, not by making Jesus actually institute the rite, but by attributing to him obscure expressions about the necessity of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, which, being rendered intelligible only by the rite of the Lord’s supper introduced into the church after his death, might be regarded as an indirect institution of that rite.

As John omits the institution of the Lord’s supper, so the synoptists omit the washing of the disciples’ feet: but it cannot be maintained with equal decision that they were therefore ignorant of this incident; partly on account of its inferior importance and the more fragmentary character of this part of the synoptical narrative ; and partly because, as has been above remarked, the contention for pre-eminence in Luke v. 24 ff. has appeared to many expositors to be connected with the washing of the disciples’ feet, as the inducement to that action on the part of Jesus.† But as regards this contention for pre-eminence, we have shown above, that being unsuited to the tenor of the scene before us, it may owe its position only to a fortuitous association of ideas in the narrator :‡ while the washing of the disciples’ feet, in John, might appear to be a legendary development of a synoptical discourse on humility. In Matthew (xx. 26 ff.) Jesus admonishes his disciples that he among them who would be great must be the minister diakonoV of the others, just as he himself came not to be ministered unto but to minister ou diakonhqhnai alla diakonhsai; and in Luke (xxii. 27) he expresses the same thought in the question: Whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat or he that that serveth? tiV gar meizwn; o anakeimenoV h o diakonwn; and adds, but I am among you as he that serveth, ego de eimi en mesw umwn wV o diakonwn. Now it is certainly probable that Jesus might see fit to impress this lesson on the disciples through the medium of their senses, by an actual serving diakonein among them, while they played the part of those sitting at meat (anakeimenoi); but it is equally probable, since the synoptists are silent respecting such a measure, that either the legend, before it reached the fourth Evangelist, or this writer himself, spun the fact out of the dictum.§ Nor is it necessary to suppose that the above declaration

* Hase, L. J., § 133; Kern, Hauptthatsachen, s. 11 ; Theile, zur Biographie Jesu, § 31.

† Sieffert, s. 753; Paulus and Olshausen, in loc. For the opposite opinion comp. De Wette, 1, 1, s. 222, 1, 2, s. 107.

‡ Vol. II. § 83.

§ The conjecture as to the origin of this anecdote in the Probabilia, s. 70 f. is too far-fetched.


came to him as having been uttered at the last meal of Jesus, in accordance with the representation of Luke; for it naturally resulted from the expressions anakeisqai (to recline at meat), and diakonein (to serve), that this symbolizing of the relation which they denote should be attached to a meal, and this meal might on easily conceivable grounds appear to be the most appropriately represented as the last.

According to Luke’s representation, Jesus on this occasion addresses the disciples as those who had continued with him in his temptations, and as a reward for this fidelity promises them that they shall sit with him at table in his kingdom, and seated on thrones, judge the twelve tribes of Israel (v. 28—30). This appears incongruous with a scene in which he had immediately before announced his betrayal by one of the twelve, and in which he


Immediately after predicted his denial by another; at a time, moreover, in which the temptations peirasmoi properly so called, were yet future. After what we have already observed in relation to the entire character of the scene in Luke, we can hardly seek the reason for the insertion of this fragment of a discourse, in anything else than a fortuitous association of ideas, in which the contention about rank among the disciples might suggest the rank promised to them by Jesus, and the discourse on sitting at table and serving, the promise that the disciples should sit at table with Jesus in his messianic kingdom.*

In the succeeding conversation Jesus says to his disciples figuratively, that now it will be necessary to buy themselves swords, so hostilely will they be met on all sides, but is understood by them literally, and is shown two swords already in the possession of the society. Concerning this passage I am inclined to agree with Schleiermacher, who is of opinion that Luke introduced it here as a prelude to Peter’s use of the sword in the ensuing narrative.†

The other divergencies in relation to the last meal will come under review in the course of the following investigations.


In the statement that Jesus from the beginning knew who would be his betrayer, the fourth gospel stands alone; but all four of the Evangelists concur in testifying that at his last meal he predicted his betrayal by one of his disciples.

But in the first place there is this difference: while according to Matthew and Mark the discourse respecting the betrayer opens the scene, and in particular precedes the institution of the Lord’s supper (Matt. xxvi. 21 ff.; Mark xiv. 18 ff.); Luke represents Jesus as not speaking of the betrayer until after the commencement of the meal, and the institution of the commemorative rite (xxii.

16 Comp. De Wette, in loc.

17 Ueber den Lukas, s. 275.


21 ff.); and in John what relates to the betrayer goes forward during and after the washing of the disciples’ feet (xiii. 10—30). The intrinsically trivial question, which Evangelist is here right, is extremely important to theologians, because its decision involves the answer to another question, namely, whether the betrayer also partook of the ritual Supper. It neither appeared consistent with the idea of that supper as a feast of the most intimate love and union, that a virtual alien like Judas should participate in it, nor did it seem to accord with the love and compassion of the Lord, that he should have permitted an unworthy disciple by this participation to aggravate his guilt.‡ So undesirable a view of the facts was believed to be avoided by following the arrangement of Matthew and Mark, and making the designation of the betrayer precede the institution of the Supper: for as it was known from John, that as soon as Judas saw himself detected and exposed, he withdrew from the company, it would thence appear that Jesus did not institute the Supper until after the retirement of the traitor.§ But this expedient is founded on nothing but an inadmissible incorporation of the narrative of John with that of the synoptists. For the withdrawal of Judas is mentioned only by the fourth Evangelist; and he alone needs the supposition of such a circumstance, because, according to him, Judas now first entered into his transactions with the enemies of Jesus, and thus, in order to come to terms with them, and obtain the requisite force, needed a somewhat longer time. In the synoptists there is no trace of the betrayer having left the company; on the contrary, everything in their narrative appears to imply that Judas, first on the general departure from the room in which the repast had been taken, instead of going directly to the garden, went to the chief priests, of whom he at once, the agreement having been made beforehand, received the necessary force for the arrest of Jesus. Thus whether Luke or Matthew be right in the arrangement of the scene, all the synoptists intimate that Judas did not leave the company before the general departure, and consequently that he partook of the ritual Supper.

But also as to the manner in which Jesus pointed out his betrayer, there exists no slight divergency between the Evangelists. In Luke Jesus only makes the brief remark that the hand of his betrayer is with him on the table, whereupon the disciples ask among themselves, who it can be that is capable of such a deed? In Matthew and Mark he says, first, that one of those, who are present will betray him ; and when the disciples individually ask him, Lord, is it I? he replies: he that dippeth his hand with me in the dish; until at last, after a woe has been denounced on the traitor, according to Matthew, Judas also puts that question, and receives an affirmative answer. In John, Jesus alludes to the betrayer during and after the washing of the disciples’ feet, in the observations, that not all the disciples present are clean, and that

* Olshausen, 2, s. 380.

† Thus Lücke, Paulus, Olshausen.


on the contrary the scripture must be fulfilled: he that eateth bread with me, hath lifted up his heel against me. Then he says plainly, that one of them will betray him; the disciples look inquiringly at each other, wondering of whom he speaks, when Peter prompts John, who is lying next to Jesus, to ask who is the traitor? Jesus replies, he to whom he shall give a sop, which he immediately does to Judas, with an admonition to hasten the execution of his project; whereupon Judas leaves the company.

Here again the harmonists are at once ready to incorporate the different scenes with each other, and render them mutually consistent. According to them, Jesus, on the question of each disciple whether he were the traitor, first declared aloud that one of his companions at table would betray him (Matthew); hereupon John asked in a whisper which of them he meant, and Jesus also in a whisper made the answer, he to whom he should give the sop (John) ; then Judas, likewise in a whisper, asked whether it were he, and Jesus in the same manner replied in the affirmative (Matthew); lastly, after an admonition from Jesus to be speedy, the betrayer left the company (John).* But that the question and answer interchanged between Jesus and Judas were spoken in a whisper, Matthew, who alone communicates them, gives no intimation, nor is this easily conceivable without presupposing the improbable circumstance, that Judas reclined on the one side of Jesus, as John did on the other: if, however, the colloquy were uttered aloud, the disciples could not, as John narrates, have so strangely misunderstood the words, what thou doest, do quickly,—and the supposition of a stammering question on the side of Judas, and a low-toned answer from Jesus, cannot be seriously held a satisfactory explanation.† Nor is it probable that Jesus, after having already made the declaration: he who dippeth with me in the dish will betray me, would for the more precise indication of the traitor have also given him a sop; it is rather to be supposed that these are but two different modes of reporting the same particular. But when once this is admitted, as it is by Paulus and Olshausen, so much is already renounced either in relation to the one narrative or the other, that it is inconsistent to resort to forced suppositions, in order to overcome the difficulty involved in the explicit answer which Matthew makes Jesus give to the traitor; and it should rather be allowed that we have before us two divergent accounts, of which the one was not so framed that its deficiencies might be supplied by the other.

Having, with Sieffert and Fritzsche, attained this degree of insight, the only remaining question is: to which of the two narratives must we give the preference as the original? Sieffert has answered this question very decidedly in favour of John; not merely, as he maintains, because he shares in the prejudice which attributes to

* Kuinöl, in Matth., p. 707.

† This is Olshausen’s expedient, 2, s. 402. Against it see Sietlert, s. 148. f.


that Evangelist the character of an eye-witness; but also because his narrative is in this part, by its intrinsic evidence of truthfulness, and the vividness of its scenes, advantageously distinguished from that of Matthew, which presents no indications of an autoptical origin. For example, while John is able to describe with the utmost minuteness the manner in which Jesus indicated his betrayer: the narrative of the first gospel is such as to induce the conjecture that its author had only received the general information, that Jesus had personally indicated his betrayer.* It certainly cannot be denied, that the direct answer which Jesus gives to Judas in Matthew (v. 25) has entirely the appearance of having been framed, without much fertility of imagination, to accord with the above general information; and in so far it must be regarded as inferior to the more indirect, and therefore more probable mode of indicating the traitor, in John. But in relation to another feature, the result of the comparison is different. In the two first Evangelists Jesus says: he who has dipped or who dippeth with me, o embayaV or embaptomenoV metemou: in John, he to whom 1 shall give a sop when I have dipped it, w ego bayaV to ywmion epidwsw; a difference in which the greater preciseness of the indication, and consequently the inferior probability, is on the side of the fourth gospel. In Luke, Jesus designates the traitor merely as one of those who are sitting at meat with him; and as regards the expression o embayaV k. t.l.. in Matthew and Mark, the interpretation given of it by Kuinöl and Henneberg,† who suppose it to mean one of the party at table, leaving it uncertain which, is not so mistaken as Olshausen represents it to be. For, first, to the question of the several disciples, is it I? Jesus might see fit to return an evasive answer; and secondly, the above answer, as Kuinöl has correctly remarked, stands in the relation of an appropriate climax to the previous declaration: one of you shall betray me (v. 21), since it presents that aggravating circumstance of the betrayal, fellowship at table. Even if the authors of the two first gospels understood the expression in question to imply, that Judas in particular dipped his hand in the dish with Jesus, and hence supposed this second declaration to have indicated him personally: still the parallel passage in Luke, and the words eiV ek twn dwdeka, one of the twelve, which in Mark precede o embaptomenV, show that originally the second expression was merely an amplification of the former, though from the wish to have a thoroughly unequivocal designation of the betrayer on the part of Jesus, it was early interpreted in the other more special sense. When, however, a legendary exaggeration of the preciseness of the indication is once admitted, the manner in which the fourth gospel describes that indication must be included in the series of progressive representations, and according to Sieffert, it must have been the original from which all the rest proceeded. But if we beforehand renounce the affirmative

* Ut Sup. s. 147 ff.

† Comm. über die Gesch. des Leidens und Todes Jesu, in loc.


reply to Judas, su eipaV, thou hast said, in Matthew, the mode of designation in John is the most definite of all; for the intimation: one of my companions at table, is comparatively indefinite, and even the expression: he who dippeth with me in the dish, is a less direct sign of the traitor, than if Jesus had himself dipped the morsel and presented it to him. Now is it in the spirit of the ancient legend, if Jesus really gave the more precise designation, to lose its hold of this, and substitute one less precise, so as to diminish the miracle of the foreknowledge exhibited by Jesus? Assuredly not; but rather the very reverse holds true. Hence we conclude that Matthew, together with the unhistorically precise, has yet at the same time preserved the historically less precise; whereas John has entirely lost the latter and has retained only the former.

After thus renouncing what is narrated of a personal designation of the traitor by Jesus, as composed post eventum, there yet remains to us the general precognition and prediction on the part of Jesus, that one of his disciples and companions at table would betray him. But even this is attended with difficulties. That Jesus received any external notification of treason brooding against him in the circle of his confidential friends, there is no indication in the gospels: he appears to have gathered this feature of his destiny also out of the scriptures alone. He repeatedly declares that by his approaching betrayal the scripture will be fulfilled (John xiii. 18, xvii. 12 ; comp. Matt. xxvi. 24 parall.), and in the fourth gospel (xiii. 18), he cites as this scripture, grafh, the words: He that eateth bread with me, hath lifted up his heel againsi me, o trwgwn meteme thn pternan autou, from Ps. xli. 10. This passage in the Psalms refers either to the well-known perfidious friends of David, Ahithophel and Mephibosheth, or, if the Psalm be not the composition of David, to some unknown individuals who stood in a similar relation to the poet.* There is so little trace of a messianic significance, that even Tholuck and Olshausen acknowledge the above to be the original sense. But according to the latter, in the fate of David was imaged that of the Messiah; according to the former, David himself, under a divine impulse often used expressions concerning himself, which contained special allusions to the fate of Jesus. When, however, Tholuck adds: David himself, under the influence of inspiration, did not always comprehend this more profound sense of his expressions; what is this but a confession that by the interpretation of such passages as relating to Christ there is given to them another sense than that in which their author originally intended them? Now that Jesus deduced from this passage of the 41st Psalm, that it would be his lot to be betrayed by a friend, in the way of natural reflection, is the more inconceivable, because there is no indication to be discovered that this Psalm was interpreted messianically among the Jews : while that such an interpretation was a result of the divine knowledge in Jesus is impossible, because it is a false interpretation. It is rather to be supposed, that the passage in question was applied to the treachery of Judas only after the issue. It is necessary to figure to ourselves the consternation which the death of the Messiah must have produced in the minds of his first adherents, and the solicitous industry with which they endeavoured to comprehend this catastrophe; and to remember that to a mind of Jewish culture, to comprehend a fact or doctrine was not to reconcile it with consciousness and reason, but to bring it into harmony with scripture. In seeking such a result, the primitive Christians found predicted in the oracles of the Old Testament, not only the death of the Messiah, but also his falling by means of the perfidy of one of his friends, and even the subsequent fate and end of this traitor (Matt. xxvii. 9 f. ; Acts i. 20); and as the most striking Old Testament authority for the betrayal, there presented itself the above passage from Ps. xli., where the author complains of maltreatment from one of his most intimate friends. These vouchers from the Old Testament might be introduced by the writers of the evangelical history either as reflections from themselves or others by way of appendix to their narrative of the result, as is done by the authors of the first gospel and the Acts, where they relate the end of Judas: or, what would be more impressive, they might put them into the mouth of Jesus himself before the issue, as is done by the author of, the fourth gospel in the present instance. The Psalmist had meant by [Heb. letters] ’okel lakhmiy one who generally was accustomed to eat bread with him : but this expression might easily come to be regarded as the designation of one in the act of eating bread with the subject of the prophecy: and hence it seemed appropriate to choose as the scene for the delivery of the prediction, a meal of Jesus with his disciples, and for the sake uf proximity to the end of Jesus to make this meal the last. For the rest, the precise words of the psalm were not adhered to, for instead of otrwgwn metemou ton arton, he who eateth bread with me, was substituted either the synonymous phrase metemou epi thV traphzhV, with me on the table, as in Luke; or, in accordance with the representation of the synoptists that this last was a paschal meal, an allusion to the particular sauce used on that occasion: o embaptomenoV metemou eiV to trublion, he who dippeth with me in the dish, as in Mark and Matthew. This, at first entirely synonymous with the expression o trwgwn k.t.l., as a designation of some one of his companions at table, was soon, from the desire for a personal designation, misconstrued to mean that Judas accidentally dipped his hand into the dish at the same moment with Jesus, and at length the morsel dipped into the dish by Judas at the same time with Jesus, was by the fourth Evangelist converted into the sop presented by Jesus to his betrayer.

There are other parts also of this scene in John, which, instead of having a natural character, as Sieffert maintains, must rather be pronounced artificial. The manner in which Peter has to use the

* See De Wette, in loc.


intervention of the disciple leaning on Jesus’ bosom, in order to obtain from the latter a more definite intimation concerning the betrayer, besides being foreign to the synoptists, belongs to that unhistorical colouring which, as we have above shown, the fourth gospel gives to the relation of the two apostles. Moreover, to disguise an indication of Judas in the evil character of the traitor, beneath an action of friendliness, as that of giving him the sop, must retain something untruthful and revolting, whatever may be imagined of objects which Jesus might have in view, such as the touching of the traitor with compunction even at that hour. Lastly, the address, What thou doest, do quickly, after all that can be done to soften it,* is still harsh,—a kind of braving of the impending catastrophe; and rather than resort to any refinements in order to justify these words as spoken by Jesus, I prefer agreeing with the author of the Prohabilia, who sees in them the effort of the fourth Evangelist to improve on the ordinary representation, according to which Jesus foreknew the betrayal and refrained from preventing it, by making him even challenge the traitor to expedite his undertaking.†

Besides the betrayal, Jesus is said to have predicted the denial by Peter, and to have fixed the precise time of its occurrence, declaring that before the cock should crow (Mark says twice) on the following morning, Peter would deny him thrice (Matt. xxvi. 33 ff. parall.): which prediction, according to the gospels, was exactly accomplished. It is here observed on the side of Rationalism, that the extension of the prophetic gift to the cognizance of such merely accessory circumstances as the crowing of cocks, must excite astonishment; as also that Jesus, instead of warning, predicts the result as inevitable :a feature which calls to mind the Fate of the Greek tragedy, in which a man, in spite of his endeavour to avoid what the oracle has predicted of him, nevertheless fulfils its inexorable decree. Paulus will not admit either ou fwnhsei shmeron alektwr, or aparneisqai or triV, to have been spoken in their strict verbal signification, but gives to the entire speech of Jesus only this indecisive and problematical sense: so easily to be shaken is the imagined firmness of this disciple, that between the present moment and the early morning, events may arise which would cause him more than once to stumble and be unfaithful to his master. But this is not the right mode of removing the difficulty of the evangelical narrative. The words attributed to Jesus so closely agree with the subsequent event, that the idea of a merely fortuitous coincidence is not to be here entertained. Occurring as they do in a tissue of prophecies post eventum, we must rather suppose that after Peter had really denied Jesus more than once during that night, the announcement of such

* Vid. Lücke and Tholuck, in loc.

† P. 62 reliqui quidem narrant evangelistae servatorern scivisse proditionis consilium, nec impedivisse; ipsum vera excitasse Judam ad proditionem nemo eorum dicit, neque convenit hoc Jesu.

‡ Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, b, s. 538. L. J. 1, b, s. 192. Hase, L. J., § 137.


a result was put into the mouth of Jesus, with the common marking of time by the crowing of the cock,* and the reduction of the instances of denial to three. That this determination of time and number was permanent in the evangelical tradition (except that Mark, doubtless arbitrarily, for the sake of balancing the thrice denying by another number, speaks of the twice crowing of the cock), appears to be explained without any great difficulty by the familiarity of the expressions early chosen, and the ease with which they could be retained in the memory.

Just as little claim to be regarded as a real prophecy has the announcement of Jesus to the rest of his disciples that they will all of them be offended because of him in the coming night, that they will forsake him and disperse. (Matt. xxvi. 31 parall., comp. John xvi. 32); especially as the Evangelists themselves, in the words: For it is written, 1 will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad, point out to us the Old Testament passage (Zech. xiii. 7), which, first sought out by the adherents of Jesus for the satisfaction of their own difficulties as to the death of their master, and the melancholy consequences which immediately ensued, was soon put into the mouth of Jesus as a prophecy of these consequences.



It was at the last meal, according to the synoptists, with whom the Apostle Paul also agrees (i Cor. xi. 23 ff.), that Jesus gave to the unleavened bread and the wine which, agreeably to the custom of the paschal feast,† he, as head of the family, had to distribute among his disciples, a relation to his speedily approaching death. During the repast, we are told, he took bread, and after giving thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples with the declaration: This is my body, touto esti to swma mou, to which Paul and Luke add: which is given or broken for you, uper umwn didomenon or klwmenon; in like manner,according to Paul and Luke after supper, he presented to them a cup of wine with the words: This is my blood of the new testament, touto esti to aima mou to thV kainhV diaqhkhV, or, according to Paul and Luke: the new testament in my blood, which is shed for many, or for you, kainh diaqhkh en tw aimati mou, to peri pollwn, or uper umwn, ekcunomenon, to which Matthew adds: for the remission of sins, eiV afesin amartiwn, and Paul, what he and Luke previously give in reference to the bread : Do this, touto poieite (Paul, with the wine, as oft as ye drink it osakiV an pinhte), in remembrance of me, eiV thn emhn anamnhsin.

The controversy between the different confessions as to the meaning of these words,—whether they signify a transmutation of bread

* Comp. Lightfoot and Paulus, in loc.

† Comp. on this subject especially, Lightfoot, horae, p. 474 ff., and Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, b, s. 511 ff.


and wine into the body and blood of Christ, or a presence of the body and blood of Christ with and beneath those elements, or lastly, the symbolizing of the body and blood of Christ by bread and wine,—may be pronounced obsolete, and ought not to be any longer pursued, at least exegetically, because it is founded on a misplaced distinction. It is only when transmitted to a modern age, and to the occidental mind, in which the forms of thought are more abstract, that what the ancient oriental understood by the words, touto esti divides itself into the above variety of possible significations; and if we would obtain a correct conception of the idea which originally suggested the expression, we must cease to discriminate thus. To explain the words in question as implying a transmutation of the substance, is to go too far, and to be too definite; to understand them of an existence cum et sub specie, etc., is too much of a refinement; while to translate them: this signifies, is too limited and meagre an interpretation. To the writers of our gospels, the bread in the commernorative supper was the body of Christ: but had they been asked, whether the bread were transmuted, they would have denied it; had they been spoken to of a partaking of the body with and under the form of bread, they would not have understood it; had it been inferred that consequently the bread merely signified the body, they would not have been satisfied.

Thus to dispute farther on this point is a fruitless labour: it is a more interesting question, whether Jesus merely intended this peculiarly significant distribution of bread and wine as a parting demonstration of attachment to his disciples, or whether he designed that it should be celebrated by his disciples in memory of him after his departure. if we had only the account of the two first Evangelists,—this is admitted even by orthodox theologians,* — there would be no solid ground for the latter supposition; but the words, Do this in rememberance of me, which are added by Paul and Luke, appear decisive of the fact that Jesus purposed the founding of a commemorative meal, which, according to Paul, the Christians were to celebrate, until he should come acriV ou an elqh. Concerning this very addition, however, it has been of late conjectured that it may not have been originally uttered by Jesus, but that in the celebration of the Lord’s supper in the primitive church, the presiding member of the community, in distributing the elements, may have exhorted the rest to continue the repetition of this meal in remembrance of Christ, and that from this primitive Christian ritual the above words were added to the address of Jesus.† This conjecture should not be opposed by an exaggerated estimate of the authority of the Apostle Paul, such as that of Olshausen, who infers from the words, I have received of the Lord, parelabon apo tou Kuriou, that he here delivers an immediate revelation from Christ, nay, that Christ himself speaks through him : since, as even Süskind

* Süskind, in the treatise: Hat Jesus das Abendmahl abs einen mnemonischen Ritus angeordnet? in his Magazin 11, s. 1 ff.

† Paulus, exeg. Handb, 3, b, s. 527.


has admitted, and as Schulz has recently shown in the most convincing manner,* the phrase paralambanein apo tinoV cannot signify an immediate reception, but only a mediate transmission from the individual specified. If, however, Paul had not that addition from Jesus himself, still Süskind thinks himself able to prove that it must have been communicated, or at least confirmed, by an apostle, and is of opinion, in the manner of his school, that by a series of abstract distinctions, he can define certain boundary lines which must in this case prevent the intrusion of an unhistorical tradition. But the severe attention to evidence which characterizes our own day, ought not to be expected from an infant religious society, between the distant portions of which there was not yet any organized connexion, or for the most part any other than oral communication. On the other hand, however, we must not be induced to regard the words touto poieite k. t. l. as a later addition to the address of Jesus, on false grounds, such as, that it would have been repugnant to the humility of Jesus to found a rite in remembrance of himself;† nor must we rate too highly the silence of the two first Evangelists, in opposition to the testimony of Paul.

Perhaps this point may be decided by means of another more general question, namely, what led Jesus to make this peculiarly significant distribution of bread and wine among his disciples? Orthodox theologians seek to remove as far as possible from the person of Jesus, as divine, all progress, and especially a gradual or sudden origination of plans and resolutions not previously present in his mind: hence, according to them, there lay in Jesus from the beginning, together with the foreknowledge of his destiny, and his entire plan, the design to institute this supper, as a commemorative rite to be observed by his church; and this opinion may at least appeal for support, to the allusions implying that he already contemplated the institution a year beforehand, attributed to Jesus in the sixth chapter of the fourth gospel.

This is certainly an insecure support, for, as a previous enquiry has shown, those allusions, totally unintelligible before the institution of the Supper, cannot have proceeded from Jesus, but only from the Evangelist.‡ Further, as, viewing the subject generally, it appeared to annul the reality of the human nature in Jesus, to suppose that all lay foreseen and prepared in him from the first, or at least from the commencement of his mature age; Rationalism has maintained, on the contrary, that the idea of the symbolical act and words in question did not arise in Jesus until the last evening. According to this view, at the sight of the broken bread and the outpoured wine, Jesus had a foreboding of his near and violent death; he saw in the former an image of his body which was to be put to death, and in the latter of his blood which was to be shed; and this

* Ueber das Abendmahl, s. 217 ff.

† Kaiser, bibl. Theol. 2, a, s. 39; Stephani, das h. Abendmahl, s. 61.

‡ Vol. II. § 81.

§ Paulus, ut sup. s. 519 ff.; Kaiser, ut sup. s. 37 ff.


momentary impression was communicated by him to his disciples.§ But such a tragical impression could only be felt by Jesus if he contemplated his death as a near event. That he did so with a greater distinctness at the last meal, is thought to be proved by the assurance which, according to all the synoptists, he gave to his disciples, that he would no more drink of the fruit of the vine until he drank it new in the kingdom of his Father; whence, as there is no ground for supposing a vow of abstinence on his part, he must have foreseen that his end would arrive within the next few days. If, however, we observe how in Luke this assurance in relation to the wine is preceded by the declaration of Jesus, that he will no more eat the passover until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God, it appears probable that originally the fruit of the vine also was understood not as wine in general, but as specially the beverage of the passover; of which a trace may perhaps be discovered in the expression of Matthew and Mark—this fruit of the vine, toutou tou gennhmatoV thV ampelou. Meals in the messianic kingdom were, in accordance with the ideas of the age, often spoken of by Jesus, and he may have expected that in that kingdom the Passover would be observed with peculiar solemnity. When therefore he declares that he will no more partake of this meal in the present age, aiwn, but only in the future; first, this does not apply to eating and drinking in general, and hence does not mean that his sojourn in this pre-messianic world was to have an end within the next few days, but only within the space of a year; nor, secondly, does it necessarily involve the idea that this change was to be introduced by his death, for he might even yet expect that the kingdom of the Messiah would commence during his life.

Meanwhile, to deny every presentiment of his end on the part of Jesus in these last days of his life, is on the one hand, not warranted by our previous examination, and on the other, would compel us to doubt the Institution of the ritual Supper by Jesus which we can hardly do in opposition to the testimony of Paul. It is moreover easily conceivable, that the continually increasing involvement of his relation to the Jewish hierarchy, might at length bring to Jesus the conviction that his death was inevitable, and that in a moment of emotion he might even fix the next passover as the term which he should not survive. Thus each of the supposed cases appears possible: either that, owing to a thought suggested by the impressiveness of the moment, at the last passover which he celebrated with his disciples, he made bread and wine the symbols of his body which was to be slain and his blood which was to be shed; or that for some time previously he had embraced the design of bequeathing such a commemorative meal to his adherents, in which case he may very probably have uttered the words preserved by Paul and Luke. But before this intimation of the death of Jesus had


been duly appropriated by the disciples, and received into their conviction, they were overtaken by the actual catastrophe, for which, therefore, they might be regarded as wholly unprepared.

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Kirby, Peter. "Historical Jesus Theories." Early Christian Writings. <>.