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The Life of Jesus Critically Examined





According to the evangelical accounts, the death of Jesus was accompanied by extraordinary phenomena. Three hours before, we are told, a darkness diffused itself and lasted until Jesus expired (Matt. xxvii. 45 parall.); in the moment of his death the veil of the temple was torn asunder from the top to the bottom, the earth quaked, the rocks were rent, the graves were opened, and many bodies of departed saints arose, entered into the city, and appeared to many (Mall v. 51 ff. parall.). These details are very unequally distributed among the Evangelists: the first alone has them all; the second and third merely the darkness and the rending of the veil: while the fourth knows nothing of all these marvels.

We will examine them singly according to their order. The dærkness skotoV which is said to have arisen while Jesus hung on the cross,, cannot have been an ordinary eclipse of the sun, caused by the interposition of the moon between his disc and the earth,* since it happened during the Passover, and consequently about the time of the full moon. The gospels however do not directly use the terms ekleiyiV tou hliou (eclipse of the sun), the two first speaking only of darkness skotoV in general; and though the third adds with somewhat more particularity: kai eskotisqh o hlioV, and the sun was darkened, still this might be said of any species of widely extended obscuration. Hence it was an explanation which lay near at hand to refer this darkness to an atmospheric, instead of an astronomical cause, and to suppose that it proceeded from obscuring vapours in the air, such as are especially wont to precede earthquakes.That such obscurations of the atmospheaæ may be diffused over whole, countries, is true; but not only is the statement that the one

* The Evang. Nicodemi makes the Jews very absurdly maintain: there happened an eclipse of the sun in the ordinary course ekleiyiV hliou gegone kata to eiwqoV, c. xi. p. 592, ap. Thilo.

† Thus Paulus and Kuinöl, in loc.; Hase, L. J. § 143; Neander, L. J. Chr s. 639 f.


in question extended epi pasan or olhn thn ghn, i.e., according to the most natural explanation, over the entire globe, to be subtracted as an exaggeration of the narrator :* but also the presupposition, evident in the whole tenor of their representation, that the darkness had a supernatural cause, appears destitute of foundation from the want of any adequate object for such a miracle. Since then, with these accessory features the event does not in itself at once carry the conviction of its credibility, it is natural to inquire if it have any extrinsic confirmation. The fathers of the church appeal in its support to the testimony of heathen writers, among whom Phlegon especially in his cronikoiV is alleged to have noticed the above darkness:but on comparing the passage preserved by Eusebius, which is apparently the one of Phiegon alluded to, we find that it determines merely the Olympiad, scarcely the year, and in no case the season and day of this darkness.More modern apologists appeal to similar cases in ancient history, of which Wetstein in particular has made a copious collection. He adduces from Greek and Roman writers the notices of the eclipses of the sun which occurred at the disappearance of Romulus, the death of Cæsar,§ and similar events; he cites declarations which contain the idea that eclipses of the sun betoken the fall of kingdoms and the death of kings; lastly he points to Old Testament passages (Isa. l. 3; Joel iii. 20; Amos viii. 9; comp. Jer. xv. 9) and rabbinical dicta, in which either the obscuring of the light of day is described as the mourning garb of God,|| or the death of great teachers compared with the sinking of the sun at mid-day,or the opinion advanced that at the death of exalted hierarchical personages, if the last honours are not paid to them, the sun is wont to be darkened.* But these parallels, instead of being supports to the credibility of the evangelical narrative, are so many premises to the conclusion, that we have here also nothing more than the mythical offspring of universally prevalent ideas,—a Christian legend, which would make all nature put on the weeds of mourning to solemnize the tragic death of the Messiah.

The second prodigy is the rending of the veil of the temple, doubtless the inner veil before the Holy of Holies, since the word [Heb. letters] paroketh, used to designate this, is generally rendered in the LXX. by katapetasma. It was thought possible to interpret this rending of the veil also as a natural event, by regarding it as an effect of the earthquake. But, as Lightfoot has already justly observed, it is more conceivable that an earthquake should rend stationary fixed bodies such as the rocks subsequently mentioned, than that it should

3 Comp. Fritzsche and De Wette, in loc. Matth.

4 Tertull. Apologet. c. xxi. ; Orig. c. Cels. ii. 33, 59.

5 Euseb. can, chron. ad. Ol. 202, Anm. 4; comp. Paulus, s. 765 ff.

6 Serv. ad Virgil. Georg. i. 465 ff.: Constat, occiso Cæsare in Senatu pridie Idus Martias,solis fuisse defectum ab hora sexta usque ad noctem.

7 Echa R. iii. 28.

8 R. Bechai Cod. Hakkema: Cum insignis Rabbinus fato concederet, dixit quidam: iste dies gravis est Israeli, ut cum sol occidit ipso meridie.

9 Succa, f. xxix. 1 : Dixeruni doctores: quatuor de causis sol deficit: prima, ob patrem domus judicii mortuum, cum exequiæ non fiunt ut decet, etc.

10 Vid. Fritzsche, in loc. ; comp. also De Wette, exeg. Handb. 1, 1, s. 238; Theile, zur Biogr. Jesu, § 36.


tear a pliant, loosely hung curtain. Hence Paulus supposes that the veil of the temple was stretched and fastened not only above but also below and at the sides. But first, this is a mere conjecture: and secondly, if the earthquake shook the walls of the temple so violently, as to tear a veil which even though stretched, was still pliant: such a convulsion would rather have caused a part of the building to fall, as is said to have been the case in the Gospel of the Hebrews : * unless it be chosen to add, with Kuinöl, the conjecture that the veil was tender from age, and might therefore be torn by a slight concussion. That our narrators had no such causes in their minds is proved by the fact that the second and third Evangelists are silent concerning the earthquake, and that the first does not mention it until after the rending of the veil. Thus if this event really happened we must regard it as a miracle. Now the object of the divine Providence in effecting such a miracle could only have been this: to produce in the Jewish cotemporaries of Jesus a deep impression of the importance of his death, and to furnish the first promulgators of the gospel with a fact to which they might appeal in support of their cause. But, as Schleiermacher has shown, nowhere else in the New Testament, either in the apostolic epistles or in the Acts, or even in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in connexion with the subject of which it could scarcely fail to be suggested, is this event mentioned: on the contrary, with the exception of this bare synoptical notice, every trace of it is lost ; which could scarcely have been the case if it had really formed a ground of apostolical argument. Thus the divine purpose in ordaining this miracle must have totally failed; or, since this is inconceivable, it cannot have been ordained for this object— in other words, since neither any other object of the miracle, nor yet a mode in which the event might happen naturally can be discovered, it cannot have happened at all. In another way, certainly, a peculiar relation of Jesus to the veil of the temple is treated of in the Epistle to the Hebrews. While before Christ, only the priests had access into the holy place, and into the Holy of Holies only the high priest might enter once in the year with the blood of atonement; Christ, as the eternal high priest, entered by his own blood into the holy place within the veil, into the Holy of Holies in heaven, whereby he became the forerunner, prodromoV, of Christians, and opened access to them also, founding an eternal redemption aiwnion lutrwsin (vi. 19 f., ix. 6, 12, x. 19 f.). Even Paulus finds in these metaphors so close an affinity to our narrative, that he thinks it possible to number the latter among those fables which according to Henke’s definitions are to be derived e figurato genere dicendi; at least the event, even if it

* Hieron. ad Hedib. ep. cxlix. 8 (comp. his Comm. in loc.): In evangelio autem, quod hebraicis literis scriptum est, legimus, non velum templi scissum, sed superliminare templi mirae magnitudinis corruisse.

† The possibility of this is admitted by Neander also, but with the presupposition of some fact as a groundwork (s. 640 f.).


really happened, must have been especially important to the Christians on account of its symbolical significance, as interpreted by the images in the Epistle to the Hebrews: namely, that by Christ’s death the veil of the Jewish worship was rent asunder, and access to God opened to all by means of worship in the Spirit. But if, as has been shown, the historical probability of the event in question is extremely weak, and on the other hand, the causes which might lead to the formation of such a narrative without historical foundation very powerful; it is more consistent, with Schleiermacher, entirely to renounce the incident as historical, on the ground that so soon as it began to be the practice to represent the office of Christ under the images which reign throughout the Epistle to the Hebrews, nay, in the very earliest dawn of this kind of doctrine, on the first reception of the Gentiles, who were left free from the burthen of Jewish observances, and who thus remained without participation in the Jewish sacrifices, such representations must have entered into the Christian hymns (and the evangelical narratives). *

On the succeeding particulars of the earthquake and the rending of the rocks, we can only pronounce a judgment in connexion with those already examined. An earthquake by which rocks are disparted, is not unprecedented as a natural phenomenon: but it also not seldom occurs as a poetical or mythical embellishment of the death of a distinguished man; as, for example, on the death of Cæsar, Virgil is not content with eclipsing the sun, but also makes the Alps tremble with unwonted commotion.Now as we have only been able to view the prodigies previously mentioned in the latter light, and as, besides, the historical validity of the one before us is weakened by the fact that it rests solely on the testimony of Matthew; we must pronounce upon this also in the words of Fritzsche: Messiæ obitum atrocibus ostentis, quibus, quantus vir quummaxime exspirasset, orbi terrarum indicaretur, illustrem esse oporlebat.

The last miraculous sign at the death of Jesus, likewise peculiar to the first Evangelist, is the opening of the graves, the resurrection of many dead persons, and their appearance in Jerusalem. To render this incident conceivable is a matter of unusual difficulty. It is neither in itself clear how it is supposed to have fared with these ancient Hebrew saints, agioiV,§ after their resurrection || nor

* Ueber den Lukas, s. 293. Comp. De Wette, exeg. Handb., 1, 1, s. 240.

† Georg. i. 463 ff.

‡ When Hase, § 143, writes: "The earth trembled, mourning for her greatest Son," we see how the historian in speaking of this feature, which he maintains to be historical, involuntarily becomes a poet ; and when in the second edition the author qualifies the phrase by the addition of an "as it were:" it is further evident that his historical conscience had not failed to reproach him for the license.

§ Only such must be here thought of, and not sectatores Christi, as Kuinöl maintains. In the Evang. Nicodemi, c. xvii., there are indeed adherents of Jesus, namely, Simeon (Luke ii.) and his two sons, among those who come to life on this occasion; but the majority in this apocryphal book also, and as well in the anafora Pilatou, (Thilo, p. 810), according to Epiphanius, orat. in sepulchrum Chr. 275, Jgnat. ad Magnes. ix. and others (comp. Thilo, p. 780 ff.), are Old Testament persons, as Adam and Eve, the patriarchs and prophets.

|| Comp. the various opinions in Thilo, p. 783 f.


is anything satisfactory to be discovered concerning a possible object for so extraordinary a dispensation.* Purely in the resuscitated themselves the object cannot apparently have lain, for had it been so, there is no conceivable ground why they should be all awaked precisely in the moment of the death of Jesus, and not each at the period prescribed by the course of his own development. But if the conviction of others was the object, this was still less attained than in the miracle of the rending of the veil, for not only is any appeal to the apparition of the saints totally wanting in the apostolic epistles and discourses, but also among the Evangelists, Matthew is the only one by whom it is recorded. A special difficulty arises from the position which the determination of time: after his resurrection, meta thn egersin autou, occupies between the apparently consecutive stages of the event. For if we connect these words with what precedes, and thus suppose that at the moment of the death of Jesus, the deceased saints were only reanimated, and did not come out of their graves until after his resurrection,— this would have been a torment for the damned rather than a guerdon for the holy; if, on the contrary, we unite that determination of time to what follows, and thus interpret the Evangelist’s meaning to be, that the resuscitated saints did indeed come out of their graves immediately on their being reanimated at the moment that Jesus died, but did not go into the city until after his resurrection,—any reason for the latter particular is sought in vain. It is but an inartificial way of avoiding these difficulties to pronounce the whole passage an interpolation, without any critical grounds for such a decision.A more dexterous course is pursued by the rationalistic expositors, when they endeavour to subtract the miraculous from the event, and by this means indirectly to remove the other difficulties. Here, as in relation to the rending of the veil, the earthquake is regarded as the chief agent: this, it is said, laid open several tombs, particularly those of some prophets, which were found empty, because the bodies had either been removed by the shock, or become decomposed, or fallen a prey to wild beasts. After the resurrection of Jesus, those who were friendly to him in Jerusalem being filled with thoughts of resurrection from the dead, these thoughts, together with the circumstance of the graves being found empty, excited in them dreams and visions in which they believed that they beheld the pious ancestors who had been interred in those graves.But the fact of the graves being found empty would scarcely, even united with the news of the resurrection of Jesus, have sufficed to produce such visions, unless there had previously prevailed among the Jews the expectation that the Messiah would recall to life the departed saints

* Comp. especially Eichhorn, Einl. in d. N. T. 1, s. 446 ff.

† Stroth, von Interpolationen im Evang. Matth. In Eichhorn’s Repertorium, 9, s. 139. It is hardly a preferable expedient to regard the passage as an addition of the Greek translator. See Kern, Ueber den Urspr. des Evang. Matth. s. 25 and 100.

Thus Paulus and Kuinöl, in loc. The latter calls this explanation a mythical one.


of Israel. If however this expectation existed, it would more probably give birth to the legend of a resurrection of the saints coincident with the death of Jesus than to dreams; whence Hase wisely discards the supposition of dreams, and attempts to find a sufficient explanation of the narrative in the emptiness of the graves on the one hand, and the above Jewish expectation on the other.* But on a nearer view it appears that if once this Jewish idea existed there needed no real opening of the graves in order to give rise to such a mythus:accordingly Schneckenburger has left the emptiness of the graves out of his calculation. When, however, he yet speaks of visionary appearances whtch were seen by the adherents of Jesus in Jerusalem, under the excitement produced by his resurrection, he is not less inconsequent than Hase, when he omits the dreams and yet retains the laying open of the graves; for these two particulars being connected as cause and effect, if one of them be renounced as unhistorical so also must the other.

In opposition to this view it is remarked, not without an appearance of reason, that the above Jewish expectation does not suffice to explain the origin of such a mythus§ The actual expectation may be more correctly stated thus. From the epistles of Paul (i Thess. iv. 16,; comp. i Cor. xv. 22 f.) and more decidedly from the Apocalypse (xx. 4 f.), we gather that the first Christians anticipated, as a concomitant of the return of Christ, a resurrection of the saints, who would thenceforth reign with Christ a thousand years; only at the end of this period, it was thought, would the rest of the dead arise, and from this second resurrection the former was distinguished as the first resurrection h anastasiV h prwth, or the resurrection of the just twn dikaiwn(Luke xiv. 14 ?), in place of which Justin has the holy resurrection h agia anastasiV.|| But this is the Christianized form of the Jewish idea; for the latter referred, not to the return, but to the first advent of the Messiah, and to a resurrection of Israelites only. Now in the statement of Matthew likewise, that resurrection is assigned to the first appearance of the Messiah; for what reason, however, it is there connected with his death, there is certainly no indication in the Jewish expectation taken in and by itself, while in the modification introduced by the adherents of Jesus there would appear rather to have lain an inducement to unite the resurrection of the saints with his own; especially as the connecting of it with his death seems to be in contradiction with the primitive Christian idea elsewhere expressed, that Jesus was the first-begotten from the dead, prwtotokoV ek twn nekrwn (Col. i. 18; Rev. 1. 5), the firstfruits of them that sleep, aparch twn kekoimhmenwn (i Cor. xv. 20). But we do not know whether this idea was universal, and if some thought it due to the messianic dignity of Jesus to regard him as the first who rose from the dead, there are obvious

* Leben Jesu, § 148.

† Ueber den Urspr. s. 67.

Paulus, exeg. Handb., 3, b. s. 798.

§ Dial. c. Tryph. cxiii.

|| See the collection of passages relative to this subject in Schöttgen, 2, p. 570 ff.; and in Bertholdt’s Christologia, § 35.


motives which might in other cases lead to the representation that already at the death of Jesus there was a resurrection of saints. First there was an external motive: among the prodigies at the death of Jesus an earthquake is mentioned, and in describing its violence it was natural to add to the rending of the rocks another feature which appears elsewhere in accounts of violent earthquakes,* namely, the opening of the graves:

here then was an inviting hinge for the resurrection of the saints. But there was also an internal motive: according to the ideas early developed in the Christian community, the death of Jesus was the specially efficacious point in the work of redemption, and in particular the descent into Hades connected with it (i Pet. iii. 19 f.) was the means of delivering the previously deceased from this abode; hence from these ideas there might result an inducement to represent the bonds of the grave as having been burst asunder for the ancient saints precisely in the moment of the death of Jesus. Besides, by this position, yet more decidedly than by a connexion with the resurrection of Jesus, the resuscitation of the righteous was assigned to the first appearance of the Messiah, in accordance with the Jewish idea, which might very naturally be echoed in such a narrative, in the Judaizing circles of primitive Christendom; while at the same time Paul and also the author of the Apocalypse already assigned the first resurrection to the second and still future advent of the Messiah. It was then apparently with reference to this more developed idea, that the words after his resurrection were added as a restriction, probably by the author of the first gospel himself.

The synoptists conclude their description of the events at the death of Jesus, with an account of the impression which they made more immediately on the Roman centurion whose office it was to watch the crucifixion. According to Luke (v. 47) this impression was produced by to genomenon (what was done), i.e., since he had beforehand mentioned the darkness, by the departure of Jesus with an audible prayer, that being the particular which he had last noticed; indeed Mark, as if expounding Luke, represents the exclamation: truly this man was the Son of God as being called forth from the centurion by the circumstance that Jesus so cried out, and gave up the ghost, outw kraxaV exepneusen (v. 39). Now in Luke, who gives a prayer as the last utterance of Jesus, it is possible to conceive that this edifying end might impress the centurion with a favourable opinion of Jesus: but how the fact of his expiring with a loud cry could lead to the inference that he was the Son of God, will in no way appear. Matthew however gives the most suitable relation to the words of the centurion, when he represents them as being called forth by the earthquake and the other prodigies which accompanied the death of Jesus:

were it not that the historical reality of this speech of the centurion must stand or fall with its

* See the passages collected by Wetstein.

† See this idea further developed in the Evang. Nicod. c xviii. ff.


alleged causes. In Matthew and Mark this officer expresses the conviction that Jesus is in truth the Son of God, in Luke, that he is a righteous man. The Evangelists in citing the former expression evidently intend to convey the idea that a Gentile bore witness to the Messiahship of Jesus; but in this specifically Jewish sense the words cannot well have been understood by the Roman soldier: we might rather suppose that he regarded Jesus as a son of God in the heathen sense, or as an innocent man unjustly put to death, were it not that the credibility of the whole synoptical account of the events which signalized the death of Jesus being shaken, this, which forms the top stone as it were, must also be of doubtful security; especially when we look at the narrative of Luke, who besides the impression on the centurion adds that on the rest of the spectators, and makes them return to the city with repentance and mourning—a trait which appears to, represent, not so probably what the Jews actually felt and did, as what in the opinion of the Christians they ought to have felt and done.


While the synoptists represent Jesus as hanging on the cross from the wra ennath, i.e. three in the afternoon, when he expired, until the oyia, i.e. probably about six in the evening, without anything further happening to him: the fourth Evangelist interposes a remarkable episode. According to him, the Jews, in order to prevent the desecration of the coming sabbath, which was a peculiarly hallowed one, by the continued exposure of the bodies on the cross, besought the Procurator that their legs might be broken and that they might forthwith be carried away. The soldiers, to whom this task was committed, executed it on the two criminals crucified with Jesus; but when they perceived in the latter the signs of life having already become extinct, they held such a measure superfluous in his case, and contented themselves with thrusting a spear into his side, whereupon there came forth blood and water (xix. 31— 37).

This event is ordinarily regarded as the chief voucher for the reality of the death of Jesus, and in relation to it the proof to be drawn from the synoptists is held inadequate. According to the reckoning which gives the longest space of time, that of Mark, Jesus hung on the cross from the third to the ninth hour, that is, six hours, before he died; if, as to many it has appeared probable, in the two other synoptists the commencement of the darkness at the sixth hour marks also the commencement of the crucifixion, Jesus, according to them, hung only three hours living on the cross; and if we presuppose in John the ordinary Jewish mode of reckoning the hours, and attribute to him the same opinion as to the period of the death of Jesus, it follows, since he makes Pilate pronounce judgment on him only about the sixth hour, that Jesus must have died after


hanging on the cross not much more than two hours. But crucifixion does not in other cases kill thus speedily. This may be inferred from the nature of the punishment, which does not consist in the infliction of severe wounds so as to cause a rapid loss of blood, but rather in the stretching of the limbs, so as to produce a gradual rigidity; moreover it is evident from the statements of the Evangelists themselves, for according to them Jesus, immediately before the moment which they regard as the last, had yet strength to utter a loud cry, and the two thieves crucified with him were still alive after that time; lastly, this opinion is supported by examples of individuals whose life has lasted for several days on the cross, and who have only at length expired from hunger and similar causes.* Hence fathers of the church and older theologians advanced the opinion, that the death of Jesus, which would not have ensued so quickly in a natural way, was accelerated supernaturally, either by himself or by God; physicians and more modern theologians have appealed to the accumulated corporeal and spiritual sufferings of Jesus on the evening of the night prior to his crucifixion ; but they also for the most part leave open the possibility that what appeared to the Evangelists the supervention of death itself, was only a swoon produced by the stoppage of the circulation, and that the wound with the spear in the side first consummated the death of Jesus.

But concerning this wound itself, the place, the instrument, and the manner of its infliction—concerning its object and effects, there has always been a great diversity of opinion. The instrument is called by the Evangelist a logch, which may equally signify either the light javelin or the heavy lance; so that we are left in uncertainty as to the extent of the wound. The manner in which the wound was inflicted he describes by the verb nussein, which sometimes denotes a mortal wound, sometimes a slight scratch, nay, even a thrust which does not so much as draw blood; hence we are ignorant of the depth of the wound : though since Jesus, after the restirrection, makes Thomas lay only his fingers in the print of the nails, but, in or even merely on the wound in the side, his hand (John xx. 27), the stroke of the spear seems to have made a considerable wound. But the question turns mainly on the place in which the wound was made. This John describes as the pleura side, and certainly if the spear entered the left side between the ribs and penetrated into the heart, death must inevitably have ensued: but the above expression may just as properly imply the right side as the left, and in either side any spot from the shoulder to the hip. Most of these points indeed would be at once decided, if the object of the soldier had been to kill Jesus, supposing he should not be already dead; in this case he would doubtless have pierced Jesus in the

* The instances are collected in Paulus, exeg. Handb., 3, b. s. 781 ff.; Winer, bibl. Realwörterb. 1, s. 672 ff.; and Hase, § 144.

† According to Tertullian by the former, according to Grotius by the latter; see Paulus, s. 784, Anm.

‡ Thus Gruner amid others ap. Paulus, s. 782 ff.; Hase, ut sup. ; Neander, L. J. Chr. s. 647.


most fatal place, and as deeply as possible, or rather, have broken his legs, as was done to the two thieves: but since he treated Jesus otherwise than his fellow sufferers, it is evident that in relation to him he had a different object, namely, in the first place to ascertain by this stroke of the spear, whether death had really taken place—a conclusion which he believed might securely be drawn from the flowing of blood and water out of the wound.

But this result of the wound is in fact the subject on which there is the least unanimity. The fathers of the Church, on the ground that blood no longer flows from corpses, regarded the blood and water, aima kai udwr, which flowed from the corpse of Jesus as a miracle, a sign of his superhuman nature.* More modern theologians, founding on the same experience, have interpreted the expression as a hendiadys, implying that the blood still flowed, and that this was a sign that death had not yet, or not until now taken place.As, however, blood is itself a fluid, the water udwr added to the blood aima cannot signify merely the fluid state of the latter, but must denote a peculiar admixture which the blood flowing from the side of Jesus contained. To explain this to themselves, and at the same time obtain the most infallible proof of death, others have fallen on the idea that the water mixed with the blood came out of the pericardium, which had been pierced by the spear, and in which, especially in such as die under severe anguish, a quantity of fluid is said to be accumulated.But—besides that the piercing of the pericardium is a mere supposition—on the one hand, the quantity of such fluid, where no dropsy exists, is so trifling, that its emission would not be perceptible ; and on the other hand, it is only a single small spot in front of the breast where the pericardium can be so struck that an emission outward is possible: in all other cases, whatever was emitted would be poured into the cavity of the thorax.§

Without doubt the idea which was present in the Evangelist’s mind was rather the fact, which may be observed in every instance of blood-letting, that the blood, so soon as it has ceased to take part in the vital process, begins to divide itself into placenta and serum; and he intended by representing this separation as having already taken place in the blood of Jesus, to adduce a proof of his real death.|| But whether this outflow of blood and water in perceptible separation be a possible proof of death,—whether Hase and Winer be right when they maintain that on deep incisions in corpses the blood sometimes flows in this decomposed state; or the fathers, when they deem this so unprecedented that it must be regarded as a miracle in Jesus,—this is another question. A distinguished anatomist has explained the state of the fact to me in the

* Orig. c. Cels. ii. 36: Comp. Euthymius in loc.

† Schuster, in Eichhorn’s Bibi. 9, s. 1036 ff.

‡ Gruner, Comm. de morte J. Chr. vera, p. 47; Tholuck, Comm. z. Joh. s. 318.

§ Comp. Hase, ut sup.

|| Winer, ut sup.


following manner : * Ordinarily, within an hour after death the blood begins to coagulate in the vessels, and consequently no longer to flow on incisions; only by way of exception in certain species of death, as nervous fevers, or suffocation, does the blood retain its fluidity in the corpse. Now if it be chosen to place the death on the cross under the category of suffocation—which, however, from the length of time that crucified persons have often remained alive, and in relation to Jesus especially, from his being said to have spoken to the last, appears impracticable; or if it be supposed that the wound in the side followed so quickly on the instant of death that it found the blood still fluid,—a supposition which is discordant with the narratives, for they state Jesus to have been already dead at three in the afternoon, while the bodies must have been taken away only at six in the evening: then, if the spear struck one of the larger blood vessels, blood would have flowed, but without water; if, however, Jesus had already been dead about an hour, and his corpse was in the ordinary state: nothing at all would have flowed. Thus either blood or nothing: in no case blood and water, because the serum and placenta are not separated in the vessels of the corpse as in the basin after blood-letting. Hardly then had the author of this trait in the fourth gospel himself seen the aima kai udwr flowing out of the side of Jesus, as a sign that his death had taken place; rather, because after blood-letting he had seen the above separation take place in the blood as it lost its vitality, and because he was desirous to show a certain proof of the death of Jesus, he represented those separate ingredients as flowing out of his wounded corpse.

The Evangelist assures us, with the most solicitous earnestness, that this really happened to Jesus, and that his account is trustworthy, as being founded on personal observation (v. 35). According to some, he gives this testimony in opposition to docetic Gnostics, who denied the true corporeality of Jesus:but wherefore then the mention of the water? According to others, on account of the noteworthy fulfilment of two prophecies by that procedure with respect to the body of JesusBut, as Lücke himself says, though John does certainly elsewhere, even in subordinate points, seek a fulfilment of prophecy, he nowhere attaches to it so extraordinary a weight as he would here have done according to this supposition. Hence it appears the most natural supposition that the Evangelist intended by those assurances to confirm the truth of the death of Jesus,§ and that he merely appended the reference to the fulfilment of Scripture as a secondary illustrative addition. The absence of an historical indication, that so early as the period of the composition

* Comp. the similar statement of an anatomist in De Wette, in loc. and Tholuck ut sup.

† Weistein and Olshausen, in loc. ; comp. Hase, ut sup.

‡ Lücke, in loc.

§ Thus Less, Auferstehungsgeschichte, s. 95 f. ; Tholuck, in loc. According to Weisse (die evang. Gesch. 1, s. 102, 2, s. 237 ff.) the Evangelist referred to a passage of the apostolic epistle, under a misapprehension of its meaning, namely, to i John v. 6 : outoV estin o elqwn di udatoV kai ainatoV, I. o Cr., ouk en tw udati monon, allen tw udati kai tw aimati.


of the fourth gospel, there existed a suspicion that the death of Jesus was only apparent, does not suffice, in the paucity of information at our command concerning that period, to prove that a suspicion so easy of suggestion had not actually to be combated in the circle in which the above gospel arose, and that it may not have given occasion to the adduction of proofs not only of the resurrection of Jesus, but also of his death.* Even in the Gospel of Mark a similar effort is visible. When this Evangelist, in narrating Joseph’s entreaty for the body of Jesus, says: And Pilate marvelled if he were alreadj dead (v. 44): this suggests the idea that he lent to Pilate an astonishment which he must have heard expressed by many of his cotemporaries concerning the rapidity with which the death of Jesus had ensued; and when he proceeds to state that the procurator obtained from the centurion certain information that Jesus had been some time dead,palai apeqane: it appears as if he wished, in silencing the doubt of Pilate, to silence that of his cotemporaries also; but in that case he can have known nothing of a wound with a spear, and its consequences, otherwise he would not have left unnoticed this securest warrant of death having really taken place: so that the representation in John has the appearance of being a fuller development of a tendency of the legend already visible in Mark.

This view of John’s narrative is further confirmed by his citation of Old Testament passages, as fulfilled in this event. In the stroke of the spear he sees the fulfilment of Zech. xii. 10 (better translated by John than by the LXX.), where Jehovah says to the Israelites [Heb. letters] wehibbiytu ’elay ’eth ’asher they shall look on him whom they have pierced, in the sense, that they will one day return to him whom they had so grievously offended.The word [Heb. letters] daqar to pierce, understood literally, expresses an act which appears more capable of being directed against a man than against Jehovah: this interpretation is supported by the variation in the reading [Heb. letters] ’elayu ; and it must have been confirmed by the succeeding context, which proceeds in the third person thus: and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born. Hence the Rabbins interpreted this passage of the Messiah ben Joseph, who would be pierced by the sword in battle,and the Christians might refer it, as they did so many passages in Psalms of lamentation, to their Messiah, at first understanding the piercing either figuratively or as implying the nailing of the hands (and feet) in crucifixion (comp. Rev. i. 7); until at last some one, who desired a more decisive proof of death than crucifixion in itself afforded, interpreted it as a special piercing with the spear.

If then this trait of the piercing with the spear proceeded from the combined interests of obtaining a proof of death, and a literal

* Comp. Kaiser, bibb. Theol. 1, s. 253.

† Rosenmüller, Schol. in V. T. 7, 4, p. 340.

‡ Vid. ap. Rosenmüller, in loc. ; Schöttgen, 2, p. 221 ; Bertholdt, § 17, not. 12.


fulfilment of a prophecy: the rest must be regarded as merely its preparatory groundwork. The piercing was only needful as a test of death, if Jesus had to be early taken down from the cross, which according to Jewish law (Deut. xxi. 22; Josh. viii, 29, x. 26, f.—an exception occurs in 2 Sam. xxi. 6 ff.* ) must in any case be before night; but in particular in the present instance (a special circumstance which John alone notes), before the commencement of the passover. If Jesus died unusually soon, and if the two who were crucified with him were yet to be taken down at the same time, the death of the latter must be hastened by violent means. This might be done likewise by means of a stroke of the spear: but then the piercing, which in Zech. xii. 10 was predicted specially of the Messiah, would equally happen to others. Thus in their case it would be better to choose the breaking of the legs, which would not, indeed, instantaneously superinduce death, but which yet made it ultimately certain as a consequence of the mortification produced by the fracture. It is true that the crurifragium appears nowhere else in connexion with crucifixion among the Romans, but only as a separate punishment for slaves, prisoners of war, and the like.But it was not the less suitable in a prophetic point of view; for was it not said of the Paschal lamb with which Jesus was elsewhere also compared (x Cor. V. 7): not a bone of him shall be broken (Exod. xii. 46)? So that both the prophecies were fulfilled, the one determining what should happen exclusively to Jesus, the other what should happen to his fellow-sufferers, but not to him.


According to Roman custom the body of Jesus must have remained suspended until consumed by the weather, birds of prey, and corruption; according to the Jewish, it must have been interred in the dishonourable burying place assigned to the executed : § but the evangelical accounts inform us that a distinguished adherent of the deceased begged his body of the procurator, which, agreeably to the Roman law,|| was not refused, but was immediately delivered to him (Matt. xxvii. 57 parall.). This man, who in all the gospels is named Joseph, and said to be derived from Arimathea, was according to Matthew a rich man and a disciple of Jesus, but the latter, as John adds, only in secret; the two intermediate Evangelists describe him as an honourable member of the high council, in which character, Luke remarks, he had not given his voice for the condemnation of Jesus, and they both represent him as cherishing messianic expectations. That we have here a personal description gradually developed into more and more preciseness is evident. In

* Comp. Joseph. b. j. iv. v. 2. Sanhedrin, vi. 5, ap. Lightfoot, p. 499.

† Vid. Lipsius, de cruce, L. II. cap. 14.

‡ Comp. Winer, i, s. 802.

§ Sanhedrin, ap. Lightfoot, p. 499.

|| Ulpian, xlviii. 24, 1 ff.


the first gospel Joseph is a disciple of Jesus—and such must have been the man who under circumstances so unfavourable did not hesitate to take charge of his body; that, according to the same gospel, he was a rich man anqrwpoV plousioV already reminds us of Isa. liii. 9, where it is said [Heb. letters] wayyitten ’eth-resha‘iym qibro w’eth-‘ashiyr bemothayw which might possibly be understood of a burial with the rich, and thus become the source at least of this predicate of Joseph of Arimathea. That he entertained messianic ideas, as Luke and Mark add, followed of course from his relation to Jesus; that he was a counsellor, bouleuthV, as the same Evangelists declare, is certainly a new piece of information: but that as such he could not have concurred in the condemnation of Jesus was again a matter of course; lastly, that he had hitherto kept his adherence to Jesus a secret, as John observes, accords with the peculiar position in relation to Jesus which this Evangelist gives to certain exalted adherents, especially to Nicodemus, who is subsequently associated with Joseph. Hence it must not he at once supposed that the additional particulars which each succeeding Evangelist gives, rest on historical information which he possessed over and above that of his predecessors.

While the synoptists represent the interment of Jesus as being performed by Joseph alone, with no other beholders than the women, John, as we have observed, introduces Nicodemus as an assistant; a particular, the authenticity of which has been already considered in connexion with the first appearance of Nicodemus.* This individual brings spices for the purpose of embalming Jesus; a mixture of myrrh and aloes, in the quantity of about a hundred pounds. In vain have commentators laboured to withdraw from the word litra, which John here uses, the signification of the Latin libra, and to substitute a smaller weight: the above surprising quantity is, however, satisfactorily accounted for by the remark of Olshausen, that the superfluity was a natural expression of the veneration of those men for Jesus. In the fourth gospel the two men perform the office of embalming immediately after the taking down of the body from the cross, winding it in linen clothes after the Jewish practice; in Luke the women, on their return home from the grave of Jesus, provide spices and ointments, in order to commence the embalming after the sabbath (xxiii. 16, xxiv. 1); in Mark they do not buy the sweet spices arwmata until the sabbath is past (xvi. 1); while in Matthew there is no mention of an embalming of the body of Jesus, but only of its being wrapped in a clean linen cloth (xxvii. 59).

Here it has been thought possible to reconcile the difference between Mark and Luke in relation to the time of the purchase of the spices, by drawing over one of the two narrators to the side of the other. It appeared the most easy to accommodate Mark to Luke by the supposition of an enallage temporum; his verb

* Vol. II. § 80.

† Michaelis, Begräbniss- und Auferstehungsgeschichte, s. 68 ff.


hgorasan, they bought, used in connexion with the day after the sabbath, being taken as the pluperfect, and understood to imply, in accordance with the statement of Luke, that the women had the spices in readiness from the evening of the burial.* But against this reconciliation it has already been remarked with triumphant indignation by the Fragmentist, that the aorist, standing between a determination of time and the statement of an object, cannot possibly signify anything else than what happened at that time in relation to that object, and thus the words hgorasan arwmata, they bought sweet spices, placed between diagenomenou tou sabbatou The sabbath being past, and ina elqousai aleiywsin auton, that they might come and anoint him, can only signify a purchase made after the sabbath had elapsed.Hence Michaelis, who undertook to vindicate the histories of the burial and resurrection from the charge of contradiction urged by the Fragmentist, betook himself to the opposite measure, and sought to conform Luke to Mark. When Luke writes: upostreyasai de htoimasan arwmata kai mura, and they returned, and bought sweet spices and ointments, he does not, we are told, mean that they had made this purchase immediately after their return, and consequently on the evening of the burial: on the contrary, by the addition kai to men sabbatov hsucasan kata thn entolhn, and rested the sabbath day, according to the commandment, he himself gives us to understand that it did not happen until the sabbath was past, since between their return from the grave and the commencement of the sabbath at six in the evening, there was no time left for the purchase.But when Luke places his htoimasan (they prepared) between upostreyasai (being returned) and hsucasan (they rested), this can as little signify something occurring after the rest of the sabbath, as in Mark the similarly placed word hgorasan can signify something which had happened before the sabbath. Hence more recent theologians have perceived that each of these two Evangelists must be allowed to retain the direct sense of his words; nevertheless they have believed it possible to free both the one and the other from the appearance of error by the supposition that the spices prepared before the sabbath were not sufficient, and that the women, agreeably to Mark’s statement, really bought an additional stock after the sabbath.§ But there must have been an enormous requirement of spices if first the hundred pounds weight contributed by Nicodemus had not sufficed, and on this account the women on the evening before the sabbath had laid ready more spices, and then these too were found insufficient, so that they had to buy yet more on the morning after the sabbath.

Thus however, in consistency, it is necessary to solve the second

* Thus Grotius; Less, Auferstehungsgeschichte, s. 165.

† See the fifth Fragment, in Lessing’s viertem Beitrag zur Geschichte und Literatur, s. 467 f. Comp. concerning these differences also Lessing’s Duplik.

‡ Michaelis, ut sup. s. 102 ff.

§ Kuinöl, in Luc. p. 721.


contradiction which exists between the two intermediate Evangelists unitedly and the fourth, namely, that according to the latter Jesus was embalmed with a hundred weight of ointment before being laid in the grave, while according to the former the embalming was deferred until after the sabbath. But as far as the quantity was concerned, the hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes were more than enough: that which was wanting, and had to be supplied after the sabbath, could only relate to the manner, i.e. that the spices had not yet been applied to the body in the right way—because the process had been interrupted by the arrival of the sabbath.* But, if we listen to John, the interment of Jesus on the evening of his death was performed kaqwV eqoV esti toiV IoudaioiV entafiazein, as the manner of the Jews is to bury, i.e. rite, in due form, the corpse being wound in the linen clothes oqonia with the spices meta twn arwmatwn (v. 40), which constituted the whole of Jewish embalming, so that according to John nothing was wanting in relation to the manner ;not to mention that if the women, as Mark and Luke state, bought fresh spices and placed them in readiness, the embalming of Nicodemus must have been defective as to quantity also. Thus in the burial of Jesus as narrated by John nothing objective was wanting: nevertheless, it has been maintained that subjectively, as regarded the women, it had not been performed, i.e. they were ignorant that Jesus had already been embalmed by Nicodemus and Joseph.One is astonished that such a position can be advanced, since the synoptists expressly state that the women were present at the interment of Jesus, and beheld, not merely the place (pou tiqetai, Mark), but also the manner in which he was interred (wV eteqh, Luke).

There is a third divergency relative to this point between Matthew and the rest of the Evangelists, in so far as the former mentions no embalming either before or after the sabbath. This divergency, as it consists merely in the silence of one narrator, has been hitherto little regarded, and even the Fragmentist admits that the wrapping of the body in a clean linen cloth, mentioned by Matthew, involves also the Jewish method of embalming. But in this instance there might easily be drawn an argument ex silentio. When we read in the narrative of the anointing at Bethany the declaration of Jesus, that the woman by this deed had anointed his body for burial (Matt. xxvi. 12 parall.): this has indeed its significance in all the narratives, but a peculiarly striking one in Matthew, according to whose subsequent narrative no anointing took place at the burial of Jesus,§ and this fact appears to be the only sufficient explanation of the special importance which the Evangelical tradition attached to the action of the woman. if he who was revered as the Messiah did not, under the pressure of unfavourable circumstances, receive at

* Thus Tholuck, in loc.

† See the Fragments, ut sup. s. 469 ff.

‡ Michaelis, ut sup. s. 99 f. ; Kuinöl and Lücke leave open the choice between this expedient and the former.

§ Comp. De Wette, in loc. Matth.


his burial the due honour of embalmment: then must the thoughts of his adherents revert with peculiar complacency to an event in the latter part of his life, in which a humble-minded female votary, as if foreboding that this honour would be denied to him when dead, rendered it to him while yet living. Viewed in this light the different representation of the anointing in the other Evangelists would have the appearance of a gradual development of the legend. In Mark and Luke it still remains, as in Matthew, that the corpse of Jesus is not really embalmed: but, said the legend, already outstepping the narrative of the first gospel, the embalming was designed for him,—this intention was the motive for the resort of the women to his grave on the morning after the sabbath, and its execution was only prevented by the resurrection. In the fourth gospel, on the other hand, this anointing, from being first performed on him by anticipation while he was yet living, and then intended for him when dead, resolved itself into an actual embalming of his body after death: in conjunction with which, however, after the manner of legendary formations, the reference of the earlier anointing to the burial of Jesus was left standing.

The body of Jesus, according to all the narrators, was forthwith deposited in a tomb hewn out of a rock, and closed with a great stone. Matthew describes this tomb as kainon, new; an epithet which Luke and John more closely determine by stating that no man had yet been laid therein. We may observe in passing, that there is as much reason for suspicion with respect to this newness of the grave, as with respect to the unridden ass in the history of the entrance of Jesus, since here in the same way as there, the temptation lay irresistibly near, even without historical grounds, to represent the sacred receptacle of the body of Jesus as never having been polluted by any corpse. But even in relation to this tomb the Evangelists exhibit a divergency. According to Matthew it was the property of Joseph, who had himself caused it to be hewn in the rock; and the two other synoptists also, since they make Joseph unhesitatingly dispose of the grave, appear to proceed on the same presupposition. According to John, on the contrary, Joseph’s right of property in the grave was not the reason that Jesus was laid there; but because time pressed, he was deposited in the new sepulchre, which happened to be in a neighbouring garden. Here again the harmonists have tried their art on both sides. Matthew was to be brought into agreement with John by the observation, that a manuscript of his gospel omits the autou (his own) after mnhmeiw; while an ancient translation read, instead of o elatomhsen (which he had hewn),—o hn lelatomenon (which was hewn) :* as if these alterations were not obviously owing already to harmonizing efforts. Hence the opposite side has been taken, and it has been remarked that the words of John by no means exclude the possibility that Joseph may have been the owner of the tomb, since both reasons—the

* Michaclis, ut sup. s. 45 ff.


vicinity, and the fact that the grave belonged to Joseph—may have co-operated.* But the contrary is rather the truth:

namely, that the vicinity of the grave when alleged as a motive, excludes the fact of possession: a house in which I should take shelter from a shower, because it is near, would not be my own; unless indeed I were the owner of two houses, one near and one more distant, of which the latter was my proper dwelling: and in like manner a grave, in which a person lays a relative or friend who does not himself possess one, because it is near, cannot be his own, unless he possess more than one, and intend at greater leisure to convey the deceased into the other; which however in our case, since the near grave was from its newness adapted above all others for the interment of Jesus, is not easily conceivable. If according to this the contradiction subsists, there does not appear in the narratives themselves any ground for decision in favour of the one or of the other.



On the following day, the Sabbath,the chief priests and Pharisees, according to Matthew (xxvii. 62 ff.) came to Pilate, and with reference to the prediction of Jesus, that he should rise again after three days, requested him to place a watch by his grave, lest his disciples should take occasion from the expectation which that prediction had awakened, to steal his body and then spread a report that he was risen again. Pilate granted their request, and accordingly they went away, sealed the stone, and placed the watch before the grave. The subsequent resurrection of Jesus (we must here anticipate so far), and the angelic appearances which accompanied it, so terrified the guards, that they became as dead men, wsei nekroi,—forthwith, however, hastened to the city and gave an account of the event to the chief priests. The latter, after having deliberated on the subject in an assembly with the elders, bribed the soldiers to pretend that the disciples had stolen the body by night; whence, the narrator adds, this report was disseminated, and was persisted in up to his time (xxviii. 4, 11 ff.).

In this narrative, peculiar to the first gospel, critics have found all kinds of difficulties, which have been exposed with the most acumen by the author of the Wolfenbüttel Fragments, and after him

* Kuinöl, in Matth. p. 786; Hase, § 145; Tholuck, Comm. s. 320.

† A confusion of the khpoV garde;: near to the place of execution, where according to John Jesus was buried, with the garden of Gethsemane, where he was taken prisoner, appears to have given rise to the statement of the Evang. Nicodemi, that Jesus was crucified en tw khpw, opou epiasqh in the garden where he was apprehended. C. ix. p. 580, ap. Thilo.

Th epaurion, htiV esti meta thn paraskeuhn (the next day, that followed the day of the preparation), is certainly a singular periphrasis for the Sabbath, for it is a strangely inappropriate mode of expression to designate a solemn day, as the day after the previous day: nevertheless we must abide by this meaning so long as we are unable to evade it in a more natural manner than Schneckenburger in his chronology of the Passion week, Beitrage, s. 3 ff.


by Paulus.* The difficulties lie first of all in this: that neither the requisite conditions of the event, nor its necessary consequences, are presented in the rest of the New Testament history. As regards the former, it is not to be conceived how the Sanhedrists could obtain the information, that Jesus was to return to life three days after his death: since there is no trace of such an idea having existed even among his disciples. They say: We remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, etc. If we are to understand from this that they remembered to have heard him speak to that effect; Jesus, according to the evangelical accounts, never spoke plainly of his resurrection in the presence of his enemies; and the figurative discourses which remained unintelligible to his confidential disciples, could still less be understood by the Jewish hierarchs, who were less accustomed to his mode of thought and expression. If, however, the Sanhedrists merely intend to say, that they had heard from others of his having given such a promise: this intelligence could only have proceeded from the disciples; but as these had not, either before or after the death of Jesus, the slightest anticipation of his resurrection, they could not have excited such an anticipation in others ;—not to mention that we have been obliged to reject as unhistorical the whole of the predictions of the resurrection lent to Jesus in the gospels. Equally incomprehensible with this knowledge on the part of the enemies of Jesus, is the silence of his friends, the Apostles and the other Evangelists besides Matthew, concerning a circumstance so favourable to their cause. It is certainly applying too modern a standard to the conduct of the disciples to say with the Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist, that they must have entreated from Pilate a letter under his seal in attestation of the fact that a watch had been set over the grave: but it must be held surprising that in none of the apostolic speeches is there anywhere an appeal to so striking a fact, and that even in the gospels, with the exception of the first, it has left no discoverable trace An attempt has been made to explain this silence from the consideration, that the bribing of the guards by the Sanhedrim had rendered an appeal to them fruitless : but truth is not so readily surrendered to such obvious falsehoods, and at all events, when the adherents of Jesus had to defend themselves before the Sanhedrim, the mention of such a fact must have been a powerful weapon. The cause is already half given up when its advocates retreat to the position, that the disciples probably did not become acquainted with the true cause of the event immediately, but only later, when the soldiers began to betray the secret.For even if the guards in the first instance merely set afloat the tale of the theft, and thus admitted that they had been placed by the grave, the adherents of Jesus could already construe for themselves the real state of the case, and might boldly

* The former, ut sup. s. 437 ff.; the latter in the exeg. Handb. 3, b, s. 837 ff.Comp. Kaiser, bibl. Theol. 1, 5. 253.

† Michaelis, Begräbniss- und Auferstehungsgeschichte, s. 206; Olshausen 2, s. 506.

‡ Michaclis, ut sup.


appeal to the guards, who must have been witnesses of something quite different from the theft of a corpse. But lest we be told of the invalidity of an argument drawn from the merely negative fact of silence, there is something positive narrated concerning a part of the adherents of Jesus, namely, the women, which is not reconcilable with the fact of a watch being placed at the grave. Not only do the women who resort to the grave on the morning after the Sabbath, intend to complete the embalming which they could not hope to be permitted to do, if they knew that a watch was placed before the grave, and that this was besides sealed : * but according to Mark their whole perplexity on their way to the grave turns upon the question, who will roll away the stone for them from the grave; a clear proof that they knew nothing of the guards, since these either would not have allowed them to remove the stone, however light, or if they would have allowed this, would also have helped them to roll away a heavier one; so that in any case the difficulty as to the weight of the stone would have been superfluous. But that the placing of the watch should have remained unknown to the women is, from the attention which everything relative to the end of Jesus excited in Jerusalem (Luke xxiv. 18), highly improbable.

But within the narrative also, every feature is full of difficulties, for, according to the expression of Paulus, no one of the persons who appear in it, acts in accordance with his character. That Pilate should have granted the request of the Jewish magistrates for a watch, I will not say without hesitation, but so entirely without ridicule, must be held surprising after his previous conduct such minor particulars might however be merely passed over by Matthew in his summary mode of recounting the incidents. It is more astonishing that the guards should have been so easily induced to tell a falsehood which the severity of Roman discipline made so dangerous, as that they had failed in their duty by sleeping on their post; especially as, from the bad understanding which existed between the Sanhedrim and the procurator, they could not know how far the mediation promised by the former would avail. But the most inconceivable feature is the alleged conduct of the Sanhedrim. The difficulty which lies in their going to the heathen procurator on the Sabbath, defiling themselves by approaching the grave, and placing a watch, has certainly been overstrained by the Fragmentist; but their conduct, when the guards, returning from the grave, apprised them of the resurrection of Jesus, is truly impossible. They believe the assertion of the soldiers that Jesus had arisen out of his grave in a miraculous manner. How could the council, many of whose members were Sadducees, receive this as credible? Even the Pharisees in the Sanhedrim, though they held in theory the possibility

* Olshausen overlooks the latter point when he (ut sup.) says the watch had not received the command to prevent the completion of the interment.

† Olshausen indeed is here still so smitten with awe, that he supposes Pilate to have been penetrated with an indescribable feeling of dread on hearing this communication from the Sanhedrists, s. 505.


of a resurrection, would not, with the mean opinion which they entertained.of Jesus, be inclined to believe in his resurrection; especially as the assertion in the mouth of the guards sounded just like a falsehood invented to screen a failure in duty. The real Sanhedrists, on hearing such an assertion from the soldiers, would have replied with exasperation: You lie! you have slept and allowed him to be stolen; but you will have to pay dearly for this, when it comes to be investigated by the procurator. But instead of this, the Sanhedrists in our gospel speak them fair, and entreat them thus: Tell a lie, say that you have slept and allowed him to be stolen: moreover, they pay them richly for the falsehood, and promise to exculpate them to the procurator. This is evidently spoken entirely on the Christian presupposition of the reality of the resurrection of Jesus; a presupposition however which is quite incorrectly attributed to the members of the Sanhedrim. It is also a difficulty, not merely searched out by the Fragmentist, but even acknowledged by orthodox expositors,* that the Sanhedrim, in a regular assembly, and after a formal consultation, should have resolved to corrupt the soldiers and put a lie into their mouths. That in this manner a college of seventy men should have officially decided on suggesting and rewarding the utterance of a falsehood, is, as Olshausen justly observes, too widely at variance with the decorum, the sense of propriety, inseparable from such an assembly. The expedient of supposing that it was merely a private meeting, since only the chief priests and elders, not the scribes, are said to have embraced the resolution of bribing the soldiers,would involve the singularity, that in this assembly the scribes were absent, while in the shortly previous interview with the procurator, where the scribes are represented by the Pharisees who formed their majority, the elders were wanting: whence it is evident rather that, it being inconvenient invariably to designate the Sanhedrim by a full enumeration of its constituent parts, it was not seldom indicated by the mention of only some or one of these. If it therefore remains that according to Matthew the high council must in a formal session have resolved on bribing the guards: such an act of baseness could only be attributed to the council as such, by the rancour of the primitive Christians, among whom our anecdote arose.

These difficulties in the present narrative of the first gospel have been felt to be so pressing, that it has been attempted to remove them by the suppoposition of interpolation; which has lately been moderated into the opinion, that while the anecdote did not indeed proceed from the Apostle Matthew himself, it was not however added by a hand otherwise alien to our gospel, but was inserted by the Greek translator of the Hebrew Matthew.§ Against the former

* Olshausen, s 506.

† Michaelis, ut sup. s. 198 f.

‡ Stroth, in Eichhorn’s Repertorium, 9, s. 141.

§ Kern, über den Ursprung des Ev. Matth. Tüb. Zeitschrift, 1834, 2, s. 100 f.; comp. 123. Compare my Review, Jahrbücher f. wiss. Kritik, Nov. 1834; now in the Charakteristiken u. Kritiken, s. 280.


supposition the absence of all critical authority is decisive; the appeal of those who advance the other opinion to the unapostolic character of the anecdote, would not warrant its separation from the context of the main narrative, unless that narrative itself were already proved to be of apostolic origin; while the anecdote is so far from presenting any want of connexion with the rest, that, on the contrary, Paulus is right in his remark that an interpolator (or inserting translator) would scarcely have given himself the trouble to distribute his interpolation in three different places (xxvii. 62—66; xxviii. 4, 1115), but would have compressed it into one passage, or at most two. Neither can the question be settled so cheaply as Olshausen imagines, when he concludes that the entire narrative is apostolic and correct, save that the Evangelist erred in representing the corruption of the guards as being resolved on in full council, whereas the affair was probably managed in secret by Caiaphas alone: as if this assembly of the council were the sole difficulty of the narrative, and as if, when errors had insinuated themselves in relation to this particular, they might not extend to others also.*

Paulus correctly points out how Matthew himself, by the statement: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews to this day,—indicates a calumnious Jewish report as the source of his narrative. But when this theologian expresses the opinion that the Jews themselves propagated the story, that they had placed a watch at the grave of Jesus, but that the guards had permitted his body to be stolen: this is as perverted a view as that of Hase, when he conjectures that the report in question proceeded first of all from the friends of Jesus, and was afterwards modified by his enemies. For as regards the former supposition, Kuinöl has already correctly remarked, that Matthew merely designates the assertion respecting the theft of the corpse as a Jewish report, not the entire narrative of the placing of a watch; neither is there any reason to be conceived why the Jews should have fabricated such a report as that a watch was set at the grave of Jesus: Paulus says, it was hoped thereby to render the assertion that the body of Jesus was stolen by his disciples more easy of acceptation with the credulous: but those must indeed have been very credulous who did not observe, that the placing of the watch was the very thing to render a furtive removal of the body of Jesus improbable. Paulus appears to represent the matter to himself thus: the Jews wished to obtain witnesses as it were to the accusation of a theft, and for this purpose fabricated the story of the guard being placed by the grave. But that the guards with open eyes quietly beheld. the disciples of Jesus carry away his body, no one could credit: while, if they saw nothing of this, because they slept, they gave no testimony, since they could then only by inference arrive at the conclusion, that the body might have been stolen: a conclusion which could be drawn just as well without them. Thus in no way can the watch have belonged to the

* Hase, L. J., § 145.


Jewish basis of the present narrative; but the report disseminated among the Jews consisted, as the text also says, merely in the assertion that the disciples had stolen the body. As the Christians wished to oppose this calumny, there was formed among them the legend of a watch placed at the grave of Jesus, and now they could boldly confront their slanderers with the question: how can the body have been carried away, since you placed a watch at the grave and sealed the stone? And because, as we have ourselves proved in the course of our inquiry, a legend is not fully convicted of groundlessness until it has been shown how it could arise even without historical grounds: it was attempted on the side of the Christians, in showing what was supposed to be the true state of the case, to expose also the origin of the false legend, by deriving the falsehood propagated among the Jews from the contrivance of the Sanhedrim, and their corruption of the guards. Thus the truth is precisely the reverse of what Hase says, namely, that the legend probably arose among the friends of Jesus and was modified by his enemies :—the friends first had an inducement to the fiction of the watch, when the enemies had already spoken of a theft.*


That the first news of the grave of Jesus being opened and empty on the second morning after his burial, came to the disciples by the mouth of women, is unanimously stated by the four Evangelists: but in all the more particular circumstances they diverge from each other, in a way which has presented the richest material for the polemic of the Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist, and on the other hand has given abundant work to the harmonists and apologists, without there having been hitherto any successful attempt at a satisfactory mediation between the two parties.

Leaving behind the difference which is connected with the divergencies in the history of the burial, as to the object of the women in resorting to the grave,—namely, that according to the two intermediate Evangelists they intended to embalm the body of Jesus, according to the two others merely to pay a visit to the grave,—we find, first, a very complicated divergency relative to the number of the women who made this visit. Luke merely speaks indefinitely of many women; not alone those whom he describes xxiii. 55, as having come with Jesus from Galilee, and of whom he mentions by name, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, but also certain others with them tineV sun autaiV (xxiv. 1). Mark has merely three women; two of those whom Luke also names, but as the third, Salome instead of Joanna (xvi. 1). Matthew has not this third woman, respecting whom the two intermediate Evangelists

* Comp. Theile, zur Biogr. Jesu, § 37; Weisse, die Evang. Gesch. 2, s. 343 f.

† Comp. Theile, ut sup.


differ, but merely the two Maries concerning whom they agree (xxviii. 1). Lastly, John has only one of these, Mary Magdalene (xx. 1). The time at which the women go to the grave is likewise not determined with uniformity; for even if the words of Matthew, In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, oye sabbatown th epifwskoush eiV mian sabbatwn, make no difference,* still the addition of Mark : at the rising of/he sun, anateilantoV tou hliou, are in contradiction with the expressions when it was yet dark, skotiaV eti oushV, in John, and very early in the morning, orqroubaqeiV, in Luke.—In relation to the circumstances in which the women first saw the grave there may appear to be a difference, at least between Matthew and the three other Evangelists. According to the latter, as they approach and look towards the grave, they see that the stone has already been rolled away by an unknown hand: whereas the narrative of the first Evangelist has appeared to many to imply that the women themselves beheld the stone rolled away by an angel.—Manifold are the divergencies as to what the women further saw and learned at the grave, According to Luke they enter into the grave, find that the body of Jesus is not there, and are hence in perplexity, until they see standing, by them two men in shining garments, who announce to them his resurrection. In Mark, who also makes them enter into the grave, they see only one young man in a long white garment, not standing, but sitting on the right side, who gives them the same intelligence. In Matthew they receive this information before they enter into the grave, from the angel, who after rolling away the stone had sat upon it. Lastly, according to John, Mary Magdalene, as soon as she sees the stone taken away, and without witnessing any angelic appearance, runs back into the city.—Moreover the relation in which the disciples of Jesus are placed with respect to the first news of his resurrection is a different one in the different gospels. According to Mark, the women, out of fear, tell no one of the angelic appearance which they have beheld; according to John, Mary Magdalene has nothing more to say to John and Peter, to whom she hastens from the grave, than that Jesus is taken away; according to Luke, the women report the appearance to the disciples in general, and not merely to two of them; while according to Matthew, as they were in the act of hastening to the disciples, Jesus himself met them, and they were able to communicate this also to the disciples. In the two first gospels nothing is said of one of the disciples himself going to the grave on hearing the report of the women; according to Luke, Peter went thither, found it empty and returned wondering, and from Luke xxiv. 24 it appears that other disciples besides him went thither in a similar manner; according to the fourth gospel Peter was accompanied by John, who on this occasion was convinced of the resurrection of Jesus. Luke says that Peter made his visit to the sepulchre after he had already been

* Comp. Fritzsche, in loc., and Kern, Tüb. Zeitschr. 1834, 2, s. 102 f.


informed by the women of the angelic appearance; but in the fourth gospel the two disciples go to the grave before Mary Magdalene can have told them of such an appearance; it was only when she had proceeded a second time to the grave with the two disciples, and when they had returned home again, that, stooping into the sepulchre, she saw, according to this gospel, two angels in white, sitting, the one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body ofJesus had lain, by whom she was asked, why she wept? and on turning round she beheld Jesus himself; a particular of which there is a fragmentary notice in Mark v. 9, with the additional remark, that she communicated this news to his former companions.

It has been thought possible to reconcile the greater part of these divergencies by supposing, instead of one scene variously described, a multiplicity of different scenes; for which purpose the ordinary grammatical and other artifices of the harmonists were pressed into the service. That Mark might not contradict the skotiaV eti oushV while it was yet dark of John, the apologists did not scruple to translate the words anateilantoV tou hliou by orituro sole; the contradiction between Matthew and the rest, when the former appears to say that the women saw the stone rolled away by the angel, seemed to be more easy of solution, not indeed by supposing, with Michaelis,* that , kai idou (and behold!) denotes a recurrence to a previous event, and that apekulise has the signification of a pluperfect (an expedient which has been justly combated by modern criticism in opposition to Lessing, who was inclined to admit it) ; but by understanding the hlqe v. 1 to express a yet unfinished progress of the women towards the grave, in which case the kai idou and what follows may, in accordance with its proper meaning, relate something that happened after the departure of the women from their home, but before their arrival at the grave.In relation to the number and the visit of the women, it was in the first place urged that even according to John, although he mentions only Mary Magdalene by name,—several women must have accompanied her to the grave, since he makes her say after her return to the two disciples: we know not where they have laid him ; § a plural, which certainly intimates the presence of other but unspecified persons, with whom Mary Magdalene, whether at the grave itself or on her return, had conversed on the subject before she came to the Apostles. Thus, it is said, Mary Magdalene went to the grave with the other women, more or fewer of whom are mentioned by the other Evangelists. As however she returned without having, like the other women, seen an angel, it is supposed that she ran back alone as soon as she saw the stone rolled away: which is accounted for by her impetuous temperament, she having been formerly a demoniac.|| While she

* Michaelis, ut sup. s. 112.

† Schneckenburger, über den Urspr. des ersten kanon. Evang., s. 62 f. Comp. the Woblenbüttel Fragmentist in Lessing’s viertem Beitrag, s. 472 ff. On the other hand, Lessing’s Duplik, Werke, Donauösch. Ausg. 6. Thl. s. 394 f.

‡ De Wette, in loc.

§ Michaelis, s. 150 ff.

|| Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, b, s. 825.


hastened back to the city, the other women saw the appearances of which the synoptists speak.—To all it is maintained, the angels appeared within the grave; for the statement in Matthew that one sat outside on the stone, is only a pluperfect: when the women came he had already withdrawn into the sepulchre, and accordingly, after their conversation with him, the women are described as departing from the sepulchre, exelqousai ek tou mnhmeiou (v. 8): * in which observation it is only overlooked that between the first address of the angel and the above expression, there stands his invitation to the women to come with him into the grave and see the place where Jesus had lain. In relation to the difference that according to the two first Evangelists the women see only one angel, according to the third, two, even Calvin resorts to the miserable expedient of supposing a synecdoche, namely that all the Evangelists certainly knew of two angels, but Matthew and Mark mention only the one who acted as speaker. Others make different women see different appearances: some, of whom Matthew and Mark speak, seeing only one angel; the others, to whom Luke refers, and who came earlier or perhaps later than the above, seeing two but Luke makes the same two Maries who, according to his predecessors, had seen only one angel, narrate to the Apostles an appearance of two angels. It is also said that the women returned in separate groups, so that Jesus might meet those of whom Matthew speaks without being seen by those of Luke; and though those of Mark at first tell no one from fear, the rest, and they themselves afterwards, might communicate what they had seen to the disciples. —On hearing the report brought by several women, Peter, according to Luke, straightway goes to the grave, finds it empty and turns away wondering. But according to the hypothesis which we are now detailing, Mary Magdalene had run back a considerable time before the other women, and had brought with her to the grave Peter and John. Thus Peter, first on hearing the imperfect intelligence of Mary Magdalene that the grave was empty, must have gone thither with John; and subsequently, on the account of the angelic appearance brought by the other women, he must have gone a second time alone: in which case it would be particularly surprising that while his companion arrived at a belief in the resurrection of Jesus on the very first visit, he himself had not attained further than wonder even on the second. Besides, as the Fragmentist has already ably shown, the narrative in the third gospel of the visit of Peter alone, and that in the fourth of the visit of Peter and John, are so strikingly similar even in words,§ that the majority of commentators regard them as referring

* Michaelis, s. 117.

† Michaelis, s. 146.—Celsus stumbled at this difference respecting the number of the angels, and Origen replied that the Evangelists mean different angels: Matthew and Mark the one who had rolled away the stone, Luke and John those who were commissioned to give information to the women, c. Cels. v. 56.

‡ Paulus, in loc. Matth.

§ I subjoin the table sketched by the Fragmentist (ut sup. s. 477 f.)

" 1.   Luke xxiv. 12: Peter ran to the grave, edramen.

        John xx. 4: Peter and John ran, etrecon.

  2.   Luke v. 12: Peter looked in, parakuyaV.

        John v. 5: John looked in, parakuyaV.

  3.   Luke v. 12: Peter saw the clothes lying alone, blepei ta oqonia keimena mona.

John v. 6, 7: Peter saw the clothes lie, and the napkin not lying with the clothes: qewrei ta oqonia keimena, kai to soudarion ou meta twn oqoniwn keimenon.

4. Luke v. 12: Peter went home, aphlqe proV eauton.

John v. 10: Peter and John went home again,


to a single visit, Luke having only omitted to notice the companion of Peter: in support of which opinion they can appeal to Luke xxiv. 24. But if the visit of the two Apostles, occasioned by the return of Mary Magdalene, be one and the same with that occasioned by the return of the other women, then the return of the women is also not a double one; if however they returned in company with each other, we have a contradiction. After the two Apostles are returned without having seen an angel, Mary, who remains behind, as she looks into the grave, all at once sees two. What a strange playing at hide and seek must there have been on the part of the angels, according to the harmonistic combination of these narratives! First only one shows himself to one group of women, to another group two show themselves; both forthwith conceal themselves from the disciples; but after their departure both again become visible. To remove these intermissions Paulus has placed the appearance presented to Mary Magdalene before the arrival of the two disciples: but by this violent transposition of the order chosen by the narrator, he has only confessed the impossibility of thus incorporating the various Evangelists with each other. Hereupon, as Mary Magdalene raises herself from looking into the grave and turns round, she sees Jesus standing behind her. According to Matthew, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, when they had already set out on their way to the city, consequently when they were at some distance from the grave. Thus Jesus would have first appeared to Mary Magdalene alone, close to the grave, and a second time when she was on her way from thence, in the company of another woman. In order to avoid the want of purpose attaching to the repetition of an appearance of Jesus after so short an interval, commentators have here called in the above supposition, that Mary Magdalene had previously separated herself from the women of whom Matthew speaks : * but in that case,, since Matthew has besides Mary Magdalene only the other Mary, it would have been only one woman to whom Jesus appeared on the way from the grave: whereas Matthew throughout speaks of several (aphnthsen autaiV).

To escape from this restless running to and fro of the disciples and the women, this phantasmagoric appearance, disappearance, and reappearance of the angels, and the useless repetition of the appearances of Jesus before the same person, which result from this harmonistic method, we must consider each Evangelist by himself: we then obtain from each a quiet picture with simple dignified features; one visit of the women to the grave, or according to John, two; one

* Kuinöl, in Matth., p. 800 f.


angelic appearance; one appearance of Jesus, according toJohn and Matthew; and one visit to the grave by one or two of the disciples, according to Luke and John.

But with the above difficulties of the harmonistic method of incorporation as to the substance, there is associated a difficulty as to form, in the question,. how comes it, under the presuppositions of this mode of viewing the gospels, that from the entire series of occurrences, each narrator has selected a separate portion for himself,—that of the many visits and appearances not one Evangelist relates all, and scarcely one the same as his neighbour, but for the most part each has chosen only one for representation, and each again a different one? The most plausible answer to this question has been given by Griesbach in a special treatise on this subject.* He supposes that each Evangelist recounts the resurrection of Jesus in the manner in which it first,. became known to him: John received the first information from Mary Magdalene, and hence he narrates only what he learned from her; to Matthew (for without doubt the disciples, as strangers visiting the feast, resided in different quarters of the city), the first news was communicated by those women to whom Jesus himself appeared on their way from the grave, and hence he relates only what these had experienced. But here this explanation already founders on the facts, that in Matthew, of the women who see Jesus on their way homeward, Mary Magdalene is one; and that in John, Mary Magdalene, after her second visit to the grave, in which Jesus. appeared to her, no longer went to John and Peter alone, but to the disciples in general, and communicated to them the appearance she had seen and the commission she had received: so that Matthew in any case must also have known of the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene. Further, when, according to this hypothesis, Mark narrates the history of the resurrection as. he had learned it in the house of his mother who lived in Jerusalem (Acts xii. 12); Luke, as he had received it from Joanna, whom he alone mentions: we cannot but wonder at the tenacity with which, according to this, each must have clung to the narrative which he had happened first to receive, since the resurrection of Jesus must have been the subject of all others on which there was the most lively interchange of narratives among his adherents, so that the ideas concerning the first tidings of the event must have found their level. To remove these difficulties, Griesbach has further supposed, that the disciples had it in their intention to compare the discordant accounts of the women and reduce them to order; when, however, the resuscitated Jesus himself appeared in the midst of them, they neglected this, because they now no longer founded their faith on the assertions of the women, but on the appearances which they had themselves witnessed: but the more the information of the women

* Progr. de fontibus, unde Evangelistæ suas de resurrectione Domini narrationes hauserint. Opusc. acad. ed. Gabler, Vol. 2, p. 241 ff.

† Comp. Schneckenburger, ut sup. s. 64 f., Anm.


fell into the background, the less conceivable is it, how in the sequel each could so obstinately cling to what this or that woman. had chanced first to communicate to him.

If then the plan of incorporation will not lead to the desired end,* we must try that of selection, and inquire whether we must not adhere to one of the four accounts, as pre-eminently apostolic, and by this rectify the others; in which inquiry here as elsewhere, from the essential equality of the external evidence, only the internal character of the separate narratives can decide.

From the number of those accounts concerning the first intelligence of the resurrection of Jesus which have any claim to the rank of autoptical testimonies, modern criticism has excluded that of the first gospel and we cannot, as in other instances, complain of this disfavour as an injustice. For in many respects the narrative of the first gospel here betrays itself to have been carried a step farther in traditional development than that of the other gospels. First, that the miraculous opening of the grave is seen by the women—if indeed Matthew intends to say this—could scarcely, had it really been the case, have been so entirely lost from remembrance as it is in the other Evangelists, but might very well be formed gradually in tradition; further, that the rolling away of the stone was effected by the angel, evidently rests only on the combination of one who did not know any better means of answering the question, how the great stone was removed from the grave, and the guards taken out of the way, than to use for both purposes the angel presented to him in the current narratives of the appearance witnessed by the women; to which he added the earthquake as a further embellishment of the scene. But besides this, there is in the narrative of Matthew yet another trait, which has anything but an historical aspect. After the angel has already announced the resurrection of Jesus to the women, and charged them to deliver to the disciples the message that they should go into Galilee, where they would see the risen one: Jesus himself meets them and repeats the message which they are to deliver to the disciples. This is a singular superfluity. Jesus had nothing to add to the purport of the message which the angel had given to the women; hence he could only wish to confirm it and render it more authentic. But to the women it needed no further confirmation, for they were already filled with great joy by the tidings of the angel, and thus were believing; while for the disciples even that confirmation did not suffice, for they remained incredulous even to the account of those who assured them that they had seen Jesus, until they had seen him themselves. Thus it appears that two different narrations, as to the first news of the resurrection, have here become entangled with each other; the one representing angels, the other Jesus himself, as the medium by which

* On this subject comp. De Wette, exeg. Handb. 1, 1, s. 245; Ammon, Fortbildung Christenthums zur Weltreligion, 2, 1, s. 6; Theile, zur Biogr. Jesu, § 37.

† Schulz, über das Abendmahl, s. 321 f. ; . Schncckenburger, ut sup. s. 61 ff.


the women were informed of the event and sent with a message to the disciples :—the latter evidently the later tradition.

The pre-eminence in originality denied to the narrative of Matthew, is here as elsewhere awarded to that of John. Traits so characteristic, says Lücke, as that on the visit to the grave the other disciple went faster than Peter and came to the spot before him, attest the authenticity of the gospel even to the most sceptical. But the matter has yet another aspect. It has been already remarked, at an earlier point of our inquiry, that this particular belongs to the effort, which the fourth gospel exhibits in a peculiar manner, to place John above Peter.* We may now discuss the point with more particularity, by comparing the account in Luke already mentioned of the visit of Peter to the grave, with the account in the fourth gospel of the visit of the two disciples. According to Luke (xxiv. 12), Peter runs to the grave: according to John (xx. 3 ff.), Peter and the favourite disciple go together, but so that the latter runs faster, and comes first to the grave. In the third gospel, Peter stoops down, looks into the sepulchre, and sees the linen clothes: in the fourth, John does this, and sees the same. In the third gospel, nothing is said of an entering into the grave: but the fourth makes Peter enter first, and look more closely at the linen clothes, then John also, and the latter with the result that he begins to believe in the resurrection of Jesus.That in these two narratives we have one and the same incident, has been above shown probable from their similarity even in the expressions. Thus the only question is: which is the original narrative, the one nearest to the fact? If that of John: then must his name have been gradually lost out of the narrative in the course of tradition, and the visit to the grave ascribed to Peter only; which, since the importance of Peter threw all others into the shade, is easily conceivable. We might rest contented with this conclusion, regarding these two parallel narratives by themselves: but in connexion with the whole suspicious position which the fourth gospel assigns to John in relation to Peter, the contrary relation of the two narratives must here again be held the more probable. As in the entrance into the high priest’s palace, so in the visit to the grave of Jesus, only in the fourth gospel is John given as a companion to Peter; as in the former case it is he who gains an entrance for Peter, so in the latter he runs before him and casts the first glance into the grave, a circumstance which is repeatedly mentioned. That afterwards Peter is the first to enter into the grave, is only an apparent advantage, which is allowed him out of deference to the common idea of his position: for after him John also enters, and with a result of which Peter could not boast, namely, that he believed in the resurrection of Jesus, and thus was the first who attained to that degree of faith. From this effort to make John

* Vol. II. § 74.

† Concerning this sense of episteusen, and its not being contradicted by oupw gar hdeisan thn grafhn k. t. l. (v. 9), see the correct view in Lücke, in loc.


the first-born among the believers in the resurrection of Jesus may also be explained the divergency, that according to the narrative of the fourth gospel alone, Mary Magdalene hastens back to the two disciples before she has yet seen an angel. For had she beforehand witnessed an angelic appearance, which she would not any more than the women in Matthew have mistrusted, she would have been the first believer, and would have won the precedence of John in this respect; but this is avoided by representing her as coming to the two disciples immediately after perceiving the emptiness of the grave, and under the disquietude excited in her by this circumstance. This presupposition serves also to explain why the fourth gospel makes the woman returning from the grave go, not to the disciples in general, but only to Peter and John. As, namely, the intelligence which, according to the original narrative, was brought to all the disciples, occasioned, according to Luke, only Peter to go to the grave, and as moreover, according to Mark (v. 7), the message of the women was destined more especially for Peter: the idea might easily be formed, that the news came to this disciple alone, with whom the object of the fourth Evangelist would then require that he should associate John. Only after the two disciples had come to the grave, and his John had attained faith, could the author of the fourth gospel introduce the appearances of the angel and of Jesus himself, which were said to have been granted to the women. That instead of these collectively he names only Mary Magdalene—although as has been earlier remarked, he xx. 2 presupposes at least a subsequent meeting between her and other women—this might certainly, under other circumstances, be regarded as the original representation, whence the synoptical one arose by a process of generalization: but it might just as well be the case that the other women, being less known, were eclipsed by Mary Magdalene. The description of the scene between her and Jesus, with the non-recognition of him at the first moment, etc., certainly does honour to the ingenuity and pathos of the author * but here also there is an unhistorical superfluity similar to that in Matthew. For here the angels have not, as in the other Evangelists, to announce the resurrection to Mary Magdalene, and to make a disclosure to her; but they merely ask her, Why weepest thou? whereupon she complains to them of the disappearance of the body of Jesus, but, without waiting for any further explanation, turns round and sees Jesus standing. Thus as in Matthew the appearance of Jesus, since it is not represented as the principal and effective one, is a superfluous addition to

that of the angel: so here the angelic appearance is an idle, ostentatious introduction to the appearance of Jesus.

If we turn to the third account, that of Mark, to ascertain whether he may not perhaps be the nearest to the fact: we find it so incoherent, and composed of materials so little capable of being fitted together, that such a relation is not to be thought of. After it has

* Weisse is of a different opinion, ut sup. s. 355, Anm.


been already narrated that early in the morning of the day succeeding the Sabbath the women came to the grave of Jesus, and were informed by an angel of his resurrection, but out of fear said nothing to any one of the appearance which they had seen (xvi. 1-8) : at v. 9, as if nothing had previously been said either of the resurrection or of the time at which it happened, the narrator proceeds: Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils, anastaV de prwi prwth sabbatwn efanh prwton Maria th Magdalhnh. This statement also does not suit the foregoing narrative, because this is not formed on the supposition of an appearance specially intended for Mary Magdalene: on the contrary, as she is said to be informed by an angel of the resurrection of Jesus, together with two other women, Jesus could not have appeared to her beforehand; while afterwards, on her way to the city, she was in company with the other women, when, according to Matthew, they were all actually met by Jesus. Whether on this account we are to regard the end of the gospel of Mark, from v. 9, as a later addition,* is indeed doubtful, from the want of decisive critical grounds, and still more from the abruptness of the conclusion efobounto gar, for they were afraid, which the gospel would then present: but in any case we have here a narrative which the author, without any clear idea of the state of the fact and the succession of the events, hastily compiled out of the heterogeneous elements of the current legend, which he knew not how to manage.

In the narrative of Luke there would be no special difficulty: but it has a suspicious element in common with the others, namely, the angelic appearance, and moreover, in a twofold form. What had the angels to do in this scene? Matthew tells us: to roll away the stone from the grave; on which it has already been remarked by Celsus, that according to the orthodox presupposition, the Son of God could find no such aid necessary for this purpose: he might indeed find it suitable and becoming. In Mark and Luke the angels appear more as having to impart information and commissions to the women: but as, according to Matthew and John, Jesus himself appeared immediately after, and repeated those commissions, the delivery of them by angels was superfluous. Hence, nothing remains but to say: the angels belonged to the embellishment of the great scene, as celestial attendants who had to open the Messiah the door by which he meant to issue forth; as a guard of honour on the spot from which the once dead had just departed with recovered life. But here occurs the question : does this species of pomp exist in the real court of God, or only in the childish conception formed of it by antiquity?

* As Paulus, Fritzsche, Credner, Einleitung, 1, § 49. Comp. De Wette, exeg. Handb. 1, 2, s. 199 f. A middle view in Hug, Einl. in d. N. T. 2, § 69.

† Orig c. Cels. v. 52.


Hence commentators have laboured in various ways to transform the angels in the history of the resurrection into natural appearances. Setting out from the account of the first gospel in which the angel is said to have a form or countenance like lightning idea wV astraph, and to effect the rolling away of the stone and the prostration of the guards, while an earthquake is connected with his appearance: it no longer lay far out of the way to think of a flash of lightning, which struck the stone with force sufficient to shatter it, and cast the guards to the earth; or of an earthquake which, accompanied by flames bursting out of the ground, produced the same effect; in which case the flames and the overwhelming force of the phenomenon were taken by the watching soldiers for an angel.* But partly the circumstance that the angel seated himself on the stone after it had been rolled away, partly, and still more decidedly, the statement that he spoke to the women, renders this hypothesis insufficient. Hence an effort has been made to complete it by the supposition that the sublime thought, Jesus is risen! which on the discovery that the grave was empty began to arise in the women and gradually to subdue their first doubts, was ascribed by them, after the oriental mode of thought and language, to an angel.But how comes it that in all the gospels the angels are represented as clothed in white, shining garments? Is that too an oriental figure of speech? The oriental may indeed describe a good thought which occurs to him as being whispered to him by an angel: but to depict the clothing and aspect of this angel, passes the bounds of the merely figurative even among orientals. In the description of the first gospel the supposed lightning might be called to aid in the conjecture that the effect thereby produced on the senses of the women was ascribed by them to an angel, which, with reference to that lightning, they depicted as one clothed in shining garments. But, according to the other Evangelists, the rolling away of the stone, ex hypothesi by the lightning, was not seen by the women; on the contrary, when they went or looked into the grave, the white forms appeared to them in a perfectly tranquil position. According to this, it must have been something within the grave which suggested to them the idea of white-robed angels. Now in the grave, according to Luke and John, there lay the white linen clothes in which the body of Jesus had been wrapt: these, which were recognized simply as such by the more composed and courageous men, might, it is said, by timid and excited women, in the dark grave and by the deceptive morning twilight, be easily mistaken for angels.But how should the women, who must have expected to find in the grave a corpse enveloped in white, be prompted by the sight of these clothes to a thought so strange,

* Schuster, in Eichhorn’s allg. Biblioth. 9, s. 1034 ff.: Kuinöl, in Matth., p. 779.

† Friedrich, über die Engel in der Auferstehungsgeschichte. In Eichhorn’s allg. Bibl. 6, s. 700 ff. Kuinöl, ut sup.

‡ Thus a treatise in Eichhorn’s allg. BibI. 8, s. 629 ff., and in Schmidt’s BibI. 2, s. 545 f. ; also Bauer, hebr. Myth. 5, s. 259.


and which then lay so remote from their anticipations, as that they might be an angel who would announce to them the resurrection of their deceased master? It has been thought in another quarter quite superfluous here to advance so many ingenious conjectures as to what the angels may have been, since, among the four narratives, two expressly tell us what they were: namely, natural men, Mark calling his angel a young man, neaniskon, Luke his two angels, two men, andraV duo.* Whom then are we to suppose these men to have been? Here again the door is opened for the supposition of secret colleagues of Jesus, who must have been unknown even to the two disciples :—these men seen at the grave may have been the same who met him in the so-called Transfiguration, perhaps Essenes, white being worn by this sect,—or whatever else of the like conjectures the antiquated pragmatism of a Bahrdt or Venturini has to offer. Or will it rather be chosen to suppose a purely accidental meeting? or, lastly, with Paulus, to leave the matter in an obscurity, from the midst of which, so soon as it is endeavoured to clear it up by definite thoughts, the two forms of the secret colleagues invariably present themselves? A correct discernment will here also rather recognize the forms of the Jewish popular conception, by which the primitive Christian tradition held it necessary to glorify the resurrection of its Messiah: a recognition, which at once solves in the most simple manner the differences in the number and modes of appearance of those celestial beings.

Herewith, however, it is at the same time acknowledged that we can succeed no better with the plan of selection than with that of incorporation; but must rather confess, that in all the evangelical accounts of these first tidings of the resurrection, we have before us nothing more than traditional reports.



The most important of all the differences in the history of the resurrection turns upon the question, what locality did Jesus design to be the chief theatre of his appearances after the resurrection? The two first gospels make Jesus, before his death, when retiring to the Mount of Olives, utter this promise to his disciples: After I am risen again I will go before you into Galilee (Matt. xxvi. 32; Mark xiv. 28); the same assurance is given to the women

* Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, b, s. 829, 55, 60, 62.

† Fritzsche, in Marc. in loc., Nemo—quispiam primi temporis Christianis tam dignus videri poterat, qui de Messia in vitam reverso nuntium ad homines perferret, quam angelus, Del minister, divinorumque consiliorum interpres et adjutor. Then on the differences in relation to the number of the angels, etc. : Nimirum insperato Jesu Messiae in vitam reditui miracula adjecere ailii alia, quæ Evangelistae religiose, quemadmodum ab suis auctoribus acceperant, literis mandarunt.

‡ Kaiser, bibl. Theol. i, s. 254 ff.


by the angels on the morning of the resurrection, with the addition: there shall ye see him (Matt. xxviii. 7 ; Mark xvi. 7); and in Matthew, besides all this, Jesus in his own person commissions the women to say to the disciples: that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me (xxviii. 10). In Matthew the journey of the disciples into Galilee, with the appearance of Jesus which they there witnessed (the only one to the disciples recorded by this Evangelist), is actually narrated in the sequel. Mark, after describing the amazement into which the women were thrown by the angelic appearance, breaks off in the enigmatical manner already mentioned, and appends some appearances of Jesus, which,—as the first happens immediately after the resurrection, and therefore necessarily in Jerusalem, and no change of place is mentioned before the succeeding ones, while the earlier direction to go into Galilee is lost sight of,—must all be regarded as appearances in and around Jerusalem. John knows nothing of a direction to the disciples to go into Galilee, and makes Jesus show himself to the disciples on the evening of the day of resurrection, and again eight days after, in Jerusalem; the concluding chapter, however, which forms an appendix to his gospel, describes an appearance by the Sea of Galilee. In Luke, on the other hand, not only is there no trace of an appearance in Galilee, Jerusalem with its environs being made the sole theatre of the appearances of Christ which this gospel relates; but there is also put into the mouth of Jesus when, on the evening after the resurrection, he appears to the assembled disciples in Jerusalem, the injunction: tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem (in the Acts i. 4, more definitely expressed by the negative, that they should not depart from Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high (xxiv. 49). Here two questions inevitably arise: 1st, how can Jesus have directed the disciples to journey into Galilee, and yet at the same time have commanded them to remain in Jerusalem until Pentecost? and 2ndly, how could he refer them to a promised appearance in Galilee, when he had the intention of showing himself to them that very day in and near Jerusalem?

The first contradiction which presents itself more immediately between Matthew and Luke, has by no one been more pointedly exhibited than by the Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist. If, he writes, it be true, as Luke says, that Jesus appeared to his disciples in Jerusalem on the day of his resurrection, and commanded them to remain there, and not to depart thence until Pentecost: then is it false that he commanded them within the same period to journey into Galilee, that he might appear to them there, and vice versa.* The harmonists indeed affected to regard this objection as unimportant, and only remarked briefly, that the injunction to remain in a city was not equivalent to an arrest, and did not exclude walks and excursions in the neighbourhood; and that Jesus merely forbade

* In Lessing’s Beitragen, ut sup. s. 485.


the removal of residence from Jerusalem, and the going out into all the world to preach the gospel, before the given term should arrive.* But the journey from Jerusalem to Galilee is not a mere walk, but the longest expedition which the Jew could make within the limits of his own country; as little was it an excursion for the apostles, but rather a return to their home: while what Jesus intended to prohibit to the disciples in that injunction cannot have been the going out into all the world to preach the gospel, since they would have no impulse to do this before the outpouring of the Spirit; nor can it have been the removal of residence from Jerusalem, since they were there only as strangers visiting at the feast: rather Jesus must have meant to deter them from that very journey which it was the most natural for them to take, i.e. from the return to their native province Galilee, after the expiration of the feast days. Besides this—and even Michaelis confesses himself obliged to wonder here—if Luke does not mean by that prohibition of Jesus to exclude the journey into Galilee, why is it that he alludes to this by no single word? and in like manner, if Matthew knew that his direction to go into Galilee was consistent with the command to remain in the metropolis, why has he omitted the latter, together with the appearances in Jerusalem? This is certainly a plain proof that the accounts of the two Evangelists are based on a different idea as to the theatre on which the risen Jesus appeared.

In this exigency of having to reconcile two contradictory commands given on the same day, the comparison with the Acts presented a welcome help by indicating a distinction of the times. Here, namely, the command of Jesus that the disciples should not leave Jerusalem is placed in his last appearance, forty days after the resurrection, and immediately before the ascension: at the close of the gospel of Luke it is likewise in the last interview, terminating in the ascension, that the above command is given. Now though from the summary representation of the gospel taken by itself, it must be believed that all occurred on the very day of the resurrection : we nevertheless see, it is said, from the history of the Acts by the same author, that between v. 43 and 44 in the last chapter of his gospel we must interpose the forty days from the resurrection to the ascension. Herewith, then, the apparent contradiction between these two commands vanishes: for one who in the first instance indeed enjoins a journey into Galilee, may very well forty days later, after this journey has been made, and the parties are once more in the metropolis, now forbid any further removal from thence.But as the dread of admitting a contradiction between different New Testament authors is no ground for departing from the natural interpretation of their expressions: so neither can this be justified by the apprehension that the same author may in different writings contradict himself; since if the one were written somewhat later than the other,

* Michaelis, s. 259 f. ; Kuinöl, in Luc., p. 743.

† Schleiermacher, über den Lukas, s. 299 f. ; Paulus, s. 910.


the author may in the interim have been on many points otherwise informed, than when he composed his first work. That this was actually the case with Luke in relation to that part of the life of Jesus which followed his resurrection, we shall have reason to be convinced when we come to the history of the ascension: and this conclusion removes all ground for interposing nearly five weeks between the efagen, v. 43, and eipe de, v. 44, in defiance of their obviously immediate connexion ; at the same time, however, it does away with the possibility of reconciling the opposite commands of Jesus in Matthew and Luke by a distinction of times.

Meanwhile, even admitting that this contradiction might be in some way or other removed, still, even without that express command which Luke mentions, the mere facts as narrated by him and his predecessor and successor, remain irreconcilable with the injunction which Jesus gives to the disciples in Matthew. For, asks the Fragmentist, if the disciples collectively twice saw him, spoke with him, touched him, and ate with him, in Jerusalem; how can it be that they must have had to take the long journey into Galilee in order to see him ? * The harmonists, it is true, boldly reply: when Jesus causes his disciples to be told that they will see him in Galilee, it is by no means said that they will see him nowhere else, still less that they will not see him in Jerusalem.But, the Fragmentist might rejoin, after his manner: as littIe as one who says to me, go to Rome, there you shall see the Pope, can mean that the Pope will indeed first come through my present place of residence, so as to be seen by me here, but afterwards I must yet go to Rome, in order to see him again there: so little would the angel in Matthew and Mark, if he had had any anticipation of the appearance in Jerusalem on the very same day, have said to the disciples: go into Galilee, there will Jesus show himself to you; but rather: be comforted, you shall yet see him here in Jerusalem before evening. Wherefore the reference to the more remote event, when there was one of the same kind close at hand? wherefore an appointment by means of the women, for the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee, if the latter foresaw that he should on the same day personally speak with the disciples? With reason does the latest criticism insist on what Lessing had previqusly urged; namely, that no rational person would make an appointment with his friends through a third party for a joyful reunion at a distant place, if he were certain of seeing


them repeatedly on the same day in their present locality.§ If thus the angel and Jesus himself when they in the morning by means of the women directed the disciples to go into Galilee, cannot yet have known that he would show himself to them on the evening of the same day in and near Jerusalem: he must in the morning have still held the intention of going immediately into Galilee, but in the

* Ut sup. s. 486.

† Griesbach, Vorlesungen über Hermeneutik des N. T., mit Anwendung auf die Leidens und Auferstehungsgeschichte Christi, herausgegeben von Steiner, s. 314.

‡ Duplik, Werke, 6 Bd. s. 352.

§ Schneckenburger, über den Urspr. des ersten kanon. Evang., s. 17 f.


course of the day have embraced another purpose. According to Paulus,* an indication of such an original intention is found in Luke, in the travelling of Jesus towards Emmaus, which lay in the direction of Galilee; while the reason for the alteration of plan is supposed by the same expositor, with whom in this instance Olshausen agrees,to have been the belief of the disciples, as more particularly manifested to Jesus on occasion of the journey to Emmaus. How so erroneous a calculation on the part of Jesus can consist with the orthodox view of his person, is Olshausen’s care; but even regarding him in a purely human character, there appears no sufficient reason for such a change of mind. Especially after Jesus had been recognised by the two disciples going to Emmaus, he might be certain that the testimony of the men would so accredit the assertion of the women, as to lead the disciples with at least a glimmering ray of faith and hope into Galilee. But in general, if a change of mind and a diversity of plan in Jesus before and after that change, really existed: why does no one Evangelist take any notice of such a retractation? Why does Luke speak as if he knew nothing of the original plan; Matthew, as if he knew nothing of a subsequent alteration; John, as if the principal theatre of the appearances of the risen Jesus had been Jerusalem, and he had only by way of supplement at length showed himself in Galilee? Lastly, why does Mark speak so as to make it evident that, having gathered the original direction to go into Galilee from Matthew, and the succeeding appearances in Jerusalem and its environs from Luke or elsewhere, he was unable, nor did he even make the attempt, in any way to reconcile them; but placed them together as he found them, rough hewn and contradictory.

According to this we must agree with the latest criticism of the gospel of Matthew, in acknowledging the contradiction between it and the rest in relation to the locality of the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection : but, it must be asked, can we also approve the verdict of this criticism when it at once renounces the representation of the first gospel in favour of that of the other Evangelists.If, setting aside all presuppositions as to the apostolic origin of this or that gospel, we put the question: which of the two divergent accounts is the best adapted to be regarded as a traditional modification and development of the other? we can here refer, not merely to the general nature of the accounts, but also to a single point at which the two touch each other in a characteristic manner. This is the address of the angel to the women, in which according to all the synoptists Galilee is mentioned, but in a different way. In Matthew the angel, as has been already noticed, says of Jesus: he goeth before you into Galilee,—lo, I have told you (xxviii. 7), proagei umaV eiV thn Galilaianidou eipon umin. In Mark he says the same,

* Exeg. Handb. 3, b. s. 835.

† Bibl. Comm. 2, s. 524.

‡ This is done by Schulz, über das Abendm. s. 321; Schneckenburger, ut sup.


except that instead of the latter addition, by which in Matthew the angel seeks to impress his own words on the women, he has the expression: as he said unto you, kaqwV eipen umin, with which he refers to the earlier prediction of Jesus concerning this circumstance. If we first compare these two representations:

the confirmatory I have told you, eipon umin, might easily appear superfluous and nugatory; while on the other hand the reference to the earlier prediction of Jesus by he said, eipen, might seem more appropriate, and on this the conjecture might be founded that perhaps Mark has here the correct and original phrase, Matthew a variation not unaccompanied by a misunderstanding.* But if we include the account of Luke in the comparison, we find here, as in Mark, the words: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, mnhsqhte, wV elalhsen umin eti wn en th Galilaia, a reference to an earlier prediction of Jesus, not however referring to Galilee, but delivered in Galilee. Here the question occurs: is it more probable that Galilee, from being the designation of the locality in which the prophecy of the resurrection was uttered, should at a later period be erroneously converted into a designation of the locality where the risen one would appear; or the contrary? In order to decide this, we must ascertain in which of the two positions the mention of Galilee is the more intrinsically suited to the context. Now that on the announcement of the resurrection it was an important point whether and where the risen Jesus was to be seen, is self-evident; it was of less moment, in referring to an earlier prediction, to specify where this prediction was uttered. Hence from this comparison of the passages it might already be held more probable that it was originally said, the angels directed the disciples to go into Galilee, there to see the risen one (Matt.); but afterwards, when the narratives of the appearances of Jesus in Judea had gradually supplanted those in Galilee, a different turn was given to the mention of Galilee in the address of the angel, so as to make it imply that already in Galilee Jesus had predicted his resurrection (Luke); whereupon Mark appears to have taken a middle course, since he with Luke refers the eipon (changed into eipen) to Jesus, but with Matthew retains Galilee as the theatre, not of the earlier prediction of Jesus, but of the coming appearance.

If we next take into consideration the general character of the two narratives and the nature of the case, there exist the same objections to the supposition that Jesus after his resurrection appeared several times to his disciples in and near Jerusalem, but that the remembrance of this fact was lost, and the same arguments in favour of the opposite supposition, as we have respectively applied to the analogous alternatives in relation to the various journeys to the feasts and Judæan residences of Jesus.That the appearances of the risen Jesus in Jerusalem should undesignedly, that is, by a total

* On which account Michaelis, s. 118 f., is of opinion that eipen was the original reading in Matthew also. Comp. Weisse, die Evang. Gesch. 2, s. 347 f.

† Vol. I. § 57.


obliteration of them from the minds of individuals, have sunk into oblivion in Galilee, where according to this presupposition the tradition of Matthew was formed, is difficult to conceive, both from the pre-eminent importance of these appearances, which, as for example those before the assembled eleven and before Thomas, involved the surest attestations of the reality of his resurrection, and also from the organizing influence of the community in Jerusalem; while that the Judæan appearances ofJesus were indeed known in Galilee, but intentionally suppressed by the author of the first gospel, in order to preserve the honour for his province alone, would presuppose an exclusivism, an opposition of the Galilean Christians to the church at Jerusalem, of which we have not the slightest historical trace. The other contrary possibility, that perhaps originally only Galilean appearances of the risen Jesus were known, but that tradition gradually added appearances in Judea and Jerusalem, and that at length these completely supplanted the former, may on many grounds be heightened into a probability. First, as respects the time, the tidings of the resurrection of Jesus were the more striking, the more immediately his appearances followed on his burial and resurrection: if however he first appeared in Galilee, such an immediate sequence of the events could not exist ; further, it was a natural idea that the resurrection of Jesus must have been attested by appearances in the place where he died ; lastly, the objection that Jesus after his pretended resurrection only appeared to his own friends, and in a corner of Galilee, was in some degree repelled when it could be alleged that on the contrary, he walked as one arisen from the dead in the metropolis, in the midst of his furious enemies, though indeed he was neither to be taken nor seen by them. But when once several appearances of Jesus were laid in Judea and Jerusalem, the appearances in Galilee lost their importance, and might thenceforth either be appended in a subordinate position, as in the fourth gospel, or even be entirely overlooked, as in the third. This result, drawn from the possible mode of legendary formation, not being opposed, as in the inquiry concerning the theatre of the ministry of the living Jesus, by a contrary one drawn from the circumstances and designs of Jesus: we may, in contradiction to the criticism of the day, decide in favour of the first gospel, whose account of the appearance of tlìe risen Jesus recommends itselt as the more simple and free from difficulty.*

As regards the appearances of the risen Jesus taken singly, the first gospel has two: one on the morning of the resurrection to the women (xxviii. 9 f.), and one, the time of which is undetermined, before the disciples in Galilee (xxviii. 16 f.). Mark, in what is indeed a merely summary statement, enumerates three: the first, to

* The opinion that the true locality of the appearances of the risen Jesus before the disciples was Galilee, is concurred in by Weisse, 2, s. 358 ff.; but in accordance with his fundamental supposition concerning the synoptical gospels, he gives the preference to the narrative of Mark before that of Matthew.


Mary Magdalene on the morning of the resurrection (xvi. 9 f.); a second, to two disciples going into the country (xvi. 12); and a third, to the eleven as they sat at meat, doubtless in Jerusalem (xvi. 14). Luke narrates only two appearances: that before the disciples going to Emmaus on the day of the resurrection (xxiv. 53 ff.), and the last, before the eleven and other disciples in Jerusalem, according to xxiv. 36 ff., on the evening of the same day, according to the Acts i. 4 ff. forty days later; but when the travellers to Emmaus, on rejoining the apostles, are greeted by them, before Jesus has appeared in the midst of them, with the information: the Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon (xxiv. 34): here a third appearance is presupposed, which was granted to Peter alone. John has four such appearances: the first, to Mary Magdelene at the grave (xx. 14 ff.); the second to the disciples when the doors were shut (xx. 19 ff.) ; the third, likewise in Jerusalem, eight days later, when Thomas was convinced (xx. 26 ff.); the fourth, of which the time is unspecified, at the Galilean sea (xxi.). But here we have also to take into consideration a statement of the Apostle Paul, who 1 Cor. xv. 5 ff., if we deduct the appearance of Christ granted to himself, enumerates five appearances after the resurrection, without however giving any precise description of them: one to Cephas; one to the twelve ; one before more than five hundred brethren at once; one to James; and lastly, one before all the apostles.

Now how shall we make an orderly arrangement of these various appearances? The right of priority is, in John, and still more expressly in Mark, claimed for that to Mary Magdalene. The second must have been the meeting of Jesus with the women returning from the grave, in Matthew; but as Mary Magdalene was likewise among these, and there is no indication that she had previously seen Jesus, these two appearances cannot be regarded as distinct, but rather as one under two different garbs. Paul, who in the above named passage speaks as if he meant to enumerate all the appearances of the resuscitated Christ, of which he knew, omits the one in question; but it may perhaps be said in explanation of this, that he did not choose to adduce the testimony of women. As the order in which he enumerates his Christophanies, to judge from the succession of eita and epeita and the conclusion with escaton, appears to be the order of time : * according to him the appearance before Cephas was the first that happened before a man. This would agree well with the representation of Luke, in which the journeyers to Emmaus, on rejoining the disciples in Jerusalem, are met by them with the information that Jesus is really arisen and has appeared to Simon, which might possibly be the case before his interview with those two disciples. As the next appearance, however, according to Luke, we must number that last named, which Paul would not mention, perhaps because he chose to adduce only those which were seen by apostles, and from among the rest only those which happened

* Vid Billoth’s Commentar, in loc.


before great masses of witnesses, or more probably, because it was unknown to him. Mark xvi. 12 f. evidently refers to the same appearance; the contradiction, that while in Luke the assembled disciples meet those coming from Emmaus with the believing exclamation: the Lord is risen, etc., in Mark the disciples are said to have remained incredulous even to the account of those two witnesses, probably proceeds from nothing more than an exaggeration of Mark, who will not lose his hold of the contrast between the most convincing appearances of Jesus and the obstinate unbelief of the disciples. The appearance on the way to Emmaus is in Luke immediately followed by that in the assembly of the eleven and others. This is generally held to be identical with the appearance before the twelve mentioned by Paul, and with that which John narrates when Jesus on the evening after the resurrection entered while the doors were closed among the disciples, out of whose number, however, Thomas was wanting. It is not fair to urge in opposition to this identification the eleven of Luke, as at variance with the statement of John that only ten apostles were present, any more than the twelve of Paul, from which number Judas at least must be deducted; moreover the similar manner in which the two Evangelists describe the entrance of Jesus by esth en mesw autwn and esth eiV to meson, and the greeting cited in both instances: eirenh umin, appear to indicate the identity of the two appearances; nevertheless, if we consider that the handling of the body of Jesus, which in John first happens eight days later, and the eating of the broiled fish, which John assigns to the still later appearance in Galilee, are connected by Luke with that scene in Jerusalem on the day of the resurrection: it is evident that either the third Evangelist has here compressed several incidents into one, or the fourth has divided one into several—whichever alternative may be chosen. This appearance before the apostles in Jerusalem however, as has been above remarked, according to Matthew could not have happened, since this Evangelist makes the eleven journey to Galilee in order to see Jesus. Mark, and Luke in his gospel, annex the ascension to this appearance, and thus exclude all subsequent ones. As the next appearance, the apostle Paul has that before five hundred brethren, which is generally regarded as the same with the one which Matthew places on a mountain in Galilee : * but at this only the eleven are stated to have been present, and moreover the discourse of Jesus on the occasion, consisting principally of official instructions, appears more suited to this narrow circle. Paul next adduces an appearance to James, of which there is also an apocryphal account, in the Hebrew gospel of Jerome, according to which however it must have been the first of allHere there would be

* Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, b. s. 897; Olshausen, 2, s. 541.

† Hieron. de viris illusir. ii. : Evangelium quoque, quod appellatur secundum Hebræos,— post resurrectionem Salvatoris refert: Dominus autem, postquam dedisset sindonem servo sacerdolis (apparently in relation to the watch at the grave, which is here represented as a sacerdotal instead of a Roman guard; vid. Credner, Beiträge zur Einl., in das N. T. s. 406 f.), ivit ad Jacobum et apparuit ei. Juraverat enim Jacobus, se non comestururn panem ab illa hora, qua biberat calicern Dornini, donec videret eum resurgentum a dormientibus (on the inconceivableness of such a vow, despairing as the disciples were, comp. Michaelis, s. 122). Rursusque post paululum: Afferte, ait Dominus, mensam et panem. Statimque additur: Tuli panem et benedixit at fregit, et dedit Jacobo justo et dixit ei: frater mi, comede panem tuum, quia resurrexit filius hominis a dormientibus.


space for that appearance in which, according to the fourth gospel eight days after the resurrection of Jesus, Thomas was convinced; wherewith Paul would closely agree, if his expression, to all the apostles, toiV apostoloiV pasin (v. 7), which he uses in relation to this appearance, were really to be understood of a full assembly of the eleven in distinction from the earlier one, when Thomas was not present: which however, as Paul, according to the above presupposition, had described this also as an appearance before the twelve, is impossible; on the contrary, the apostle intends as well by the dwdeka, twelve, as by apostoloi panteV, all the apostles, the collective body of apostles (whose proper number was then indeed incomplete by one man), in opposition to the individuals (Cephas and James) of whom in each case he had just before spoken, as having witnessed a Christophany. If however we were nevertheless to regard the fifth appearance of Jesus according to Paul as identical with the third in John: it would only be the more clearly evident that the fourth of Paul, before the five hundred brethren, cannot have been the one in Galilee recorded by Matthew. For as, in John, the third took place in Jerusalem, the fourth in Galilee: Jesus and the apostles must in that case have gone into Galilee after the first appearances in Jerusalem, and have met on the mountain; then have returned to Jerusalem where Jesus showed himself to Thomas; then again have proceeded into Galilee where the appearance by the sea occurred; and lastly, have once more returned to Jerusalem for the ascension. In order to avoid this useless journeying backwards and forwards, and yet to be able to combine those two appearances, Olshausen lays the appearance before Thomas in Galilee: an inadmissible violence, since not only is there no mention of a change of place between this and the foregoing, which is by implication represented as happening in Jerusalem, but the place of assembly is in both instances described in the same manner; nay the addition, the doors being shut, will not allow the supposition of any other locality than Jerusalem, because in Galilee, where there was less excitement against Jesus from the enmity of the priesthood, there cannot be supposed to have been the same reason for that precaution, in the fear of the Jews. Thus, first where the Judean appearances close with that happening eight days after the resurrection, we should obtain room to insert the Galilean appearances of Matthew and John. But these have the peculiar position, that each claims to be the first, and that of Matthew at the same time the last.* By the tenor of his whole narrative, and

* Lessing, Duplik, s. 449 ff.


expressly by adding, after the statement that the disciples went to a mountain in Galilee, the words: where Jesus had appointed them, ou etaxato autoiV o I., Matthew marks this appearance as the one to which Jesus had referred on the morning of the resurrection, first by the angel, and then in his own person; but no one concerts a second meeting in a particular place, leaving the first undetermined: consequently, as an unforeseen earlier meeting is incompatible with the evangelical idea of Jesus,* that meeting, since it was the concerted one, was also the first in Galilee. if thus the appearance at the sea of Tiberias in John, cannot possibly be placed before that on the mountain in Matthew: so the latter will just as little suffer the other to follow it, since it is a. formal leave-taking of Jesus from his disciples. Moreover, it would be more than ever difficult to understand how the appearance in John could be made out, in accordance with the Evangelist’s own statement, to be the third fanerwsiV of the risen Christ before his disciples (xxi. 14), if that of the first gospel must also be supposed to precede it. Meanwhile, even allowing the priority to the former, this numerical notice of John remains sufficiently perplexing. We might, it is true, deduct the appearances before the women, because, though John himself narrates that to Mary Magdalene, he does not take it into his account; but if we number that to Cephas as the first, and that on the way to Emmaus as the second: then this Galilean appearance, as the third, would fall between the above and that before the eleven on the evening of the resurrection, which would presuppose a rapidity of locomotion totally impossible; nay, if that appearance before the assembled eleven is the same with the one at which, according to John, Thomas was absent, the third appearance of John would fall before his first. Perhaps, however, when we consider the expression : showed himself to his disciples, efanerwqh toiV maqhtaiV autou, we ought to understand that John only numbers such appearances as happened before several disciples at once, so that those before Peter and James should be deducted, in that case, we must number as the first, the appearance to the two disciples going to Emmaus; as the second, that before the assembled eleven on the evening of the resurrection : and thus in the eight days between this and the one before Thomas, the journey into Galilee would fall somewhat more conveniently,— but also the third appearance of John would fall before his second. Perhaps, then, the author of the fourth gospel held the two disciples whom Jesus met on the way to Emmaus too small a number, to entitle this Christophany to rank as a fanerousqai toiV maqhtaiV. On this supposition the entrance of Jesus among the assembled disciples in the evening would be the first appearance; hereupon the five hundred brethren to whom Jesus showed himself at once would surely be numerous enough to be taken into the reckoning: so that the Galilean appearance of John, that is, his third, must be inserted after

* As Kern admits, Hauptthats. Tüb. Zeitschr. 1836, 3, s. 57.


this, but then it would still fall before that to Thomas and all the apostles, which John enumerates as the second. Perhaps, however, the appearance of Jesus before the five hundred is to be placed later, so that after that entrance of Jesus among the assembled disciples would first follow the scene with Thomas, after this the appearance at the sea of Galilee, and only then the sight of Jesus granted to the five hundred. But if the appearance before Thomas is to he reckoned the same with the fifth in Paul’s enumeration, this apostle must have reversed the order of his two last appearances, a transposition for which there was no reason : On the contrary, it would have been more natural to place last the appearance before the five hundred brethren, as the most important. Thus nothing remains but to say: John understood under the word maqhtaiV merely a greater or a smaller assembly of the apostles; but among the five hundred there was no apostle; hence he omitted these also, and thus correctly numbered the appearance at the sea of Tiberias as the third: if indeed this could have happened before the one on the mountain in Galilee, which, we have seen, to be inconceivable. The above expedients resorted to by way of accommodation are in part ridiculous enough: but Kern has lately surpassed them all by a suggestion which he advances with great confidence, namely, that John here intends to number, not the appearances, but the days on which appearances took place, so that touto hdh triton efanerwqh o I. toiV maqhtaiV, this is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples, means: now had Jesus already appeared to his disciples on three separate days: namely, four times on the day of the resurrection; then once eight days after; and now again some days later.* Renouncing such expedients, nothing remains but to acknowledge that the fourth Evangelist numbers only those appearances of Jesus to his disciples, which he had himself narrated; and the reason of this can scarcely have been that the rest, from some cause or other, appeared to him less important, but rather that he knew nothing of them.And again, Matthew with his last Galilean appearance, can have known nothing of the two in Jerusalem recorded by John; for if in the first of these ten apostles had been convinced of the reality of the resurrection of Jesus, and in the second Thomas also: it could not have been that at that later appearance on the mountain in Galilee some of the eleven (for only these are represented by Matthew as going thither) still doubted (oi de edistasan, v. I7). Lastly, if Jesus here delivered to his disciples the final command to go into all the world teaching and baptizing, and gave them the promise to he with them until the end of the existing age, which is manifestly the tone of one who is taking leave: he cannot subsequently, as is narrated in the introduction to the Acts, have communicated to them his last commands and taken leave of them at Jerusalem. According to the conclusion of the gospel of Luke,

* Hauptthatsachen, ut sup. s. 47.

† Comp. De Wette, exeg. Handb. 1, 3, s. 205, 210; Weisse, die evang. Gesch. 2, s. 409.


this farewell departure on the contrary occurs much earlier than can be supposed in accordance with Matthew; and in the close of the gospel of Mark, where Jesus is represented as parting from his disciples in Jerusalem on the very day of his resurrection, partly the same words are put into his mouth as, according to Matthew, are spoken in Galilee, and in any case later than on the day of the resurrection. The fact, that the two books of the same author, Luke, diverge so widely from each other in relation to the time during which Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, that one determines this time to have been a single day, the other, forty days, cannot be taken into more particular consideration until we have reached a farther point of our inquiry.

Thus the various evangelical writers only agree as to a few of the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection; the designation of the locality in one excludes the appearances narrated by the rest; the determination of time in another leaves no space for the narratives of his fellow Evangelists; the enumeration of a third is given without any regard to the events reported by his predecessors; lastly, among several appearances recounted by various narrators, each claims to be the last, and yet has nothing in common with the others. Hence nothing but wilful blindness can prevent the perception that no one of the narrators knew and presupposed what another records; that each again had heard a different account of the matter; and that consequently at an early period, there were current only uncertain and very varied reports concerning the appearances of the risen Jesus.*

This conclusion, however, does not shake the passage in the first Epistle to the Corinthians which, (it being undoubtedly genuine,) was written about the year 59 after Christ, consequently not 30 years after his resurrection. On this authority we must believe that many members of the primitive church who were yet living at the time when this epistle was written, especially the apostles, were convinced that they had witnessed appearances of the risen Christ. Whether this involves the admission that some objective reality lay at the foundation of these appearances, will hereafter become the subject of inquiry; concerning the present point, the divergencies of the Evangelists, especially in relation to the locality, the passage of Paul offers nothing decisive, since he has given no particular description of any of those appearances.


But how are we to represent to ourselves this continuation of the life of Jesus after the resurrection, and especially the nature of

* Comp. Kaiser, bidl. Theol. 1, s. 254 ff; De Wette ut sup. ; Ammon, Fortbildung, 2, 1, Kap. 1; Weisse, die Evang. Gesch., 2, 7 tes Buch.


his body in this period? In order to answer this question we must once more cast a glance over the separate narratives of his appearances when risen.

According to Matthew, Jesus on the morning of the resurrection meets (aphnthsen) the women as they are hastening back from the grave; they recognize him, embrace his feet in sign of veneration, and he speaks to them. At the second interview on the Galilean mountain the disciples see him (idonteV), but some still doubt, and here also Jesus speaks to them. Of the manner in which he came and went, we have here no precise information.

In Luke, Jesus joins the two disciples who are on their way from Jerusalem to the neighbouring village of Emmaus (eggisaV suneporeueto autoiV); they do not recognize him on the way, a circumstance which Luke attributes to a subjective hindrance produced in them by a higher influence (oi ofqalmoi autwn ekratounto, tou mh epignwnai auton), and only Mark, who compresses this event into few words, to an objective alteration of his form (en etera morfh). On the way Jesus converses with the two disciples, after their arrival in the village complies with their invitation to accompany them to their lodging, sits down to table with them, and proceeds according to his wont to break and distribute bread. In this moment the miraculous spell is withdrawn from the eyes of the disciples, and they know him : * but in the same moment he becomes invisible to them (afantoV egeneto apautwn). Just as suddenly as he here vanished, he appears to have shown himself immediately after in the assembly of the disciples, when it is said that he all at once stood in the midst of them (esth en mesw autwn), and they, terrified at the sight, supposed that they saw a spirit. To dispel this alarming idea, Jesus showed them his hands and feet, and invited them to touch him, that by feeling his flesh and bones they might convince themselves that he was no spectre; he also caused a piece of broiled fish and of honeycomb to be brought to him, and ate it in their presence. The appearance to Simon is in Luke described by the expression wfqh; Paul in the first Epistle to the Corinthians uses the same verb for all the Christophanies there enumerated, and Luke in the Acts comprises all the appearances of the risen Jesus during the forty days under the expressions optanomenoV (i. 3) and emfanh genesqai (x. 40). In the same manner Mark describes the appearance to Mary Magdalene by efanh, and those to the disciples on the way to Emmaus and to the eleven by efanerwqh. John describes the appearance at the sea of Tiberias by efanerwsen eauton, and to all the Christophanies narrated by him he applies the word efanerwqh. Mark and Luke add, as the close of the earthly life of the risen Jesus, that he was taken away from before the eyes of the disciples, and (by a cloud, according to Acts i. 9) carried up to heaven.

* That it was the marks of the nails in the hand, which became visible in the act of breaking bread, by which Jesus was recognized (Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, b. s. 882; Kuinol, in Luc. p. 734.) is without any intimation in the text.


In the fourth gospel Jesus first stands behind Mary Magdalene as she is turning away from the grave; she however, does not recognize him even when he speaks to her, but takes him for the gardener, until he (in the tone so familiar to her) calls her by her name. When on this she attempts to manifest her veneration, Jesus prevents her by the words: Touch me not, mh mou aptou, and sends her with a message to the disciples. The second appearance of Jesus in John occurred under peculiarly remarkable circumstances. The disciples were assembled, from fear of the hostile Jews, with closed doors: when all at once Jesus came and stood in the midst of them, greeted them, and presented— apparently to their sight only—his hands and feet, that they might recognize him as their crucified master. When Thomas, who was not present, refused to be convinced by the account of his fellow disciples of the reality of this appearance, and required for his satisfaction himself to see and touch the wounds of Jesus : the latter, in an appearance eight days after, granted him this proof, making him touch the marks of the nails in his hands and the wound in his side. Lastly, at the appearance by the sea of Galilee, Jesus stood on the shore in the morning twilight, without being known by the disciples in the ship, asked them for fish, and was at length recognized by John, through the rich draught of fishes which he procured them; still, how ever, the disciples, when come to land, did not venture to ask him whether it were really he. Hereupon he distributed among them bread and fish, of which he doubtless himself partook, and finally held a conversation with John and Peter.*

Now the general ideas which may bc formed of the life of Jesus after his resurrection are two: either it was a natural and perfectly human life, and accordingly his body continued to be subject to the physical and organic laws; or his life was already of a higher,

* The part of this conversation which relates to John, has already (§ 116) been considered. In that relating to Peter, the thrice repeated question of Jesus: Lovest thou me? has reference, according to the ordinary opinion, to his as often repeated denial ; but to the words : When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest, but when thou shall be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shalt gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not, (v. 18 f.), the Evangelist himself gives the interpretation, that Jesus spoke them to Peter, signifying by what death he should glorify God. He must here have alluded to the crucifixion, which, according to the ecclesiastical legend (Tertull. de præscr. hær. xxxvi. Euseb. H. E. ii. 25) was the death suffered by this apostle, and to which in the intention of the Evangelist the words follow me, v. 20 and 22 (i.e. follow me in the same mode of death) also appear to point. But precisely the main feature in this interpretation, the stretching forth of the hands, is here so placed as to render a reference to crucifixion impossible, namely, before the leading away against the will; on the other hand, the girding, which can only signify binding for the purpose of leading away, should stand before the stretching forth of the hands on the cross. If we set aside the interpretation which, as even Lücke (s. 703) admits, is given to the words of Jesus ex eventu by the narrator : they appear to contain nothing more than the commonplace of the helplessness of age contrasted with the activity of youth, for even the phrase, shall carry thee whither thou wouldest not, does not outstep this comparison. But the author of John xxi., whether the words were known to him as a declaration of Jesus or otherwise, thought them capable of being applied in the manner of the fourth gospel, as a latent prophecy of the crucifixion of Peter.


superhuman character, and his body supernatural and transfigured: and the accounts, taken unitedly, present certain traits to which, on the first view, each of these two ideas may respectively appeal. The human form with its natural members, the possibility of being known by means of them, the continuance of the marks of the wounds, the human speech, the acts of walking and breaking bread,—all these appear to speak in favour of a perfectly nattiral life on the part of Jesus even after the resurrection. If it were possible still to demur to this, and to conjecture, that even a higher, heavenly corporeality might give itself such an aspect and perform such functions : all doubts must be quelled by the further statement, that Jesus after the resurrection consumed earthly food, and allowed himself to be touched. Such things are indeed ascribed even to higher beings in old myths, as for example, eating to the heavenly forms from whom Abraham received a visit (Gen. xviii. 8), and palpability to the God that wrestled with Jacob (Gen. xxxii. 24 ff.): but it must nevertheless be insisted that in reality both these conditions can only belong to material, organized bodies. Hence not only the rationalists, but even orthodox expositors, consider these particulars as an irrefragable proof that the body and life of Jesus after the resurrection must be regarded as remaining still natural and human.* This opinion is further supported by the remark, that in the state of the risen Jesus there is observable precisely the same progress as might be expected in the gradual, natural cure of a person severely wounded. In the first hours after the resurrection he is obliged to remain in the vicinity of the grave; in the afternoon his strength suffices for a walk to the neighbouring village of Emnaus; and only later is he able to undertake the more distant journey into Galilee. Then also in the permission to touch his body there exists the remarkable gradation, that on the morning of the resurrection Jesus forbids Mary Magdalene to touch him, because his wounded body was as yet too suffering and sensitive; but eight days later, he himself invites Thomas to touch his wounds. Even the circumstance that Jesus after his resurrection was so seldom with his disciples and for so short a time, is, according to this explanation, a proof that he had brought from the grave his natural, human body, for such an one would necessarily feel so weak from the wounds and torture of the cross, as always after short periods of exertion to require longer intervals of quiet retirement.

But the New Testament narratives, as we have seen, also contain particulars which favour the opposite idea of the corporeality of Jesus after the resurrection : hence the advocates of the opinion hitherto detailed must undertake so to interpret these apparently antagonistic features that they may no longer present a contradiction. Here it may seem that the very expressions by which the appearances of Jesus are ordinarily introduced, as wfqh, used of the

* Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, b. s. 834 ff.L.J. 1, b. s. 265 ff.; Ammon, ut sup.; Hase, L. J. § 149; Michaelis, ut sup., s. 255 f. Comp. also Neander, L. J. Chr. s. 650.


appearance in the burning bush (Exod. iii 2, LXX.); optanomenoV, of the appearance of the angel in Tobit xii. 19; efanh, of the angelic appearances in Matt. i. and ii., may seem already to point to something supernatural. As still more decided indications, the idea of a natural going and coming which may be presupposed in some scenes, is contradicted in others by a sudden appearance and disappearance; the supposition of an ordinary human body is opposed by the frequent non-recognition on the part of friends, nay, by the express mention of another form, etera morfh; above all, the palpability of the body of Jesus appears to be opposed by the capability which, according to the first impression from the text, is lent to him in John, namely, that of entering through closed doors. But, that Mary Magdalene mistook Jesus at first for the gardener, is thought even by commentators who ordinarily are not diffident of the miraculous, to be most probably accounted for by the supposition that Jesus had borrowed clothes from the gardener, who very likely dwelt near to the grave; moreover, say these writers, both in this instance and in the journey to Emmaus, the disfiguration of the countenance of Jesus by the sufferings of crucifixion may have contributed to prevent his being recognized, and these two circumstances are alone to be understood from the expression etera morfh, another form, in Mark.* As to the disciples going to Emmaus, in the joyful astonishment caused by the sudden recognition of him whom they had believed dead, Jesus, it is said, may easily have withdrawn from them unobserved in the most natural manner; which, however, they, to whom the whole fact of the resuscitation of Jesus was a miracle, might regard as a supernatural disappearance.Nor, we are told, do the expressions : esth en mesw autwn or eiV to meson he stood in the midst of them, especially in John, where they are accompanied by the ordinary words hlqen he came, and ercetai he comes, imply anything supernatural, but merely the startling arrival of one who had just been spoken of, without his being expected; and the assembled disciples took him for a spirit, not because he entered in a miraculous manner, but because they could not believe in the real resuscitation of their deceased master. Lastly, even the trait which is supposed to be decisive against the opinion that the body of the risen Jesus was a natural and human one,— the coming when the doors were shut ercetai qurwn kekleismenwn in John,—has long been interpreted even by orthodox theologians so as no longer to present any obstacle to that opinion. We will not discuss explanations such as that of Heumann, according to which the doors were not those of the house in which the disciples were assembled, but the doors of Jerusalem in general, and the statement that they were shut is an intimation of its having been that hour of the night in which it was customary to close the

* Tholuck, in loc., comp. Paulus, exeg. Handh, 3, b. s. 866, 88m. A similar natural explanation has lately been adopted by Lücke, from Hug.

† Paulus, ut sup. s. 882.

‡ Paubus, ut sup. 883, 93; Lücke, 2, s. 684 f.


doors, while the fear of the Jews represents the motive, not for the closing of the doors, but for the assembling of the disciples. Apart from these expedients, Calvin himself pronounces the opinion that the body of the risen Jesus passed per medium ferrum et asseres, to be pueriles argutiæ, for which the text gives no occasion, since it does not say that Jesus entered per januas clausas, but only that he suddenly appeared among his disciples, cum clausæ essent januae.* Still Calvin upholds the entrance of Jesus of which John here speaks as a miracle, which must consequently be supposed to consist in this, that Jesus entered cum fores clausae fuissent, sed quæ Domino veniente subilo patuerunt ad nutum divinæ majestatis ejus.While more modern orthodox divines only contend for the less definite position, that in the entrance of Jesus some miracle took place, its precise character being unascertained : Rationalism has found means entirely to banish the miraculous from the event. The closed doors, we are told, were opened to Jesus by human hands; which John omits to notice, only because it is understood as a matter of course, nay, it would have been absurd of him to say: they opened the doors for him, and he went in. §

But in thus interpreting the words ercetai qurwn kekleismenwn, theologians have been by no means unprejudiced. Least of all Calvin; for when he says, the papists maintain a real penetration of the body of Jesus through closed doors in order to gain support for their tenet that the body of Christ is immense, and contained in no place, ul corpus Christi immensum esse, nulloque loco contineri obtineant: it is plain that he combats that interpretation of the words of John merely to avoid giving any countenance to the offensive doctrine of the ubiquity of Christ’s body. The more modern expositors, on the other hand, were interested in avoiding the contradiction which to our perceptions is contained in the statement, that a body can consist of solid matter, and yet pass without hindrance through other solid matter: but as we know not whether this was also a contradiction in the view of the New Testament writers, the apprehension of it gives us no authority to discard that interpretation, providing it be shown to be in accordance with the text. We might certainly, on a partial consideration, understand the expression the doors being shut, twn qurwn kekleismenwn, as an intimation of the anxious state into which the disciples were thrown by the death of Jesus. But already the circumstance that this particular is repeated on the appearance of Jesus before Thomas excites doubts, since if the above was the only meaning, it was scarcely worth while to repeat the observation.|| But as in fact in this second instance the above cause for the closing of the doors no longer exists, while the words twn qurwn kekleismenwn are immediately united with ercetai,

* Calvin, Comm. in Joh. in loc., p. 363 f. ed. Tholuck.

† Thus Suicer, Thes. s. v. qura.; comp. Michaelis, 5. 265.

‡ Tholuck and Olshausen, in loc.

§ Griesbach, Vorlesungen über Hermeneutik, s. 305; Paulus, s. 835. Comp. Lücke, 2, s. 683 ff.

|| Vid. Tholuck and De Wette, in loc.


he comes : what was before the most apparent meaning, namely, that they are intended to determine the manner of the coming of Jesus, is here heightened into a probability.* Further, the repeated statement that Jesus came when the doors were closed is again followed by the words esth eiV to meswn, which even in connexion with hlqen, to which they are related as a more precise determination, imply that Jesus suddenly presented himself, without his approach having been seen: whence it is undeniably evident that the writer here speaks of a coming without the ordinary means, consequently, of a miraculous coming. But did this miracle consist in passing through the boards of the doors? This is combated even by those who espouse the cause of miracles in general, and they confidently appeal to the fact, that it is nowhere said, he entered through the closed doors dia twn qurwn kekleismenon. But the Evangelist does not mean to convey the precise notion that Jesus, as Michaelis expresses himself, passed straight through the pores of the wood of which the doors were made; he merely means that the doors were shut and remained so, and nevertheless Jesus suddenly stood in the chamber,—walls, doors, in short all material barriers, forming no obstacle to his entrance. Thus in reply to their unjust demand of us, to show them in the text of John a precise determination which is quite away from the intention of this writer, we must ask them to explain why he has not noticed the (miraculous) opening of the doors, if he presupposed such a circumstance? in relation to this point Calvin very infelicitously refers to Acts xii. 6 ff., where it is narrated of Peter, that he came out of the closed prison; no one, he says, here supposes that the doors remained closed, and that Peter penetrated through wood and iron. Assuredly not; because here it is expressly said of the iron gate of the prison which led into the city, that it opened to him of its own aœord (v. 10). This observation serves to give so lively and graphic an idea of the miracle, that our Evangelist would certainly not, in two instances, have omitted a similar one, if he had thought of a miraculous opening of the doors.

Thus in this narrative of John the supernatural will not admit of being removed or diminished : nor is the natural explanation more satisfactory in relation to the expressions by which Luke describes the coming and going of Jesus. For if, according to this Evangelist, his coming was a standing in the midst of the disciples, sthnai en mesw twn maqhtwn, his going a becoming invisible to them, afantoV ginesqai apautwn: the concurrence of these two representations, taken in connexion with the terror of the disciples and their mistaking him for a spirit, will hardly allow the supposition of anything else than a miraculous appearance. Besides, if we might perhaps form some idea how Jesus could enter in a natural manner without being observed into a room filled with men: we should still be at a loss to imagine how it could be possible for him, when he

* Comp. Olshausen, 2, s. 531, Anm.

† Thus, besides Calvin, Lücke, ut sup. ; Olshausen, 530


sat at table at Emmaus, apparently with the two disciples alone, to withdraw himself from them unobserved, and so that they were not able to follow him.*

That Mark, under the words etera morfh understands a form miraculously altered, ought never to have been denied; but this is a point of minor importance, because it involves only the narrator’s own interpretation of the circumstance which had been already stated, but with a different explanation, by Luke: namely, that the two disciples did not know Jesus. That Mary Magdalene took Jesus for the gardener, was hardly, in the view of the Evangelist, the consequence of his having borrowed the gardener’s clothes: rather, the spirit of the narrative would require us to explain her not knowing him by supposing that her eyes were held krateisqai, Luke xxiv. 16), or that Jesus had assumed another form ; while her taking him for the gardener might then be simply accounted for by the fact that she met the unknown man in the garden. Nor are we authorized by the evangelical narratives to suppose a disfiguration of Jesus by the sufferings of the cross, and a gradual healing of his wounds. The words Touch me not in John, if they were to be regarded as a prohibition of a touch as painful, would be in contradiction, not merely with Matthew, according to whom Jesus on the same morning—that of the resurrection —allowed the women to embrace his feet, but also with Luke, according to whom he on the same day invited the disciples to handle him; and we must then ask, which representation is correct? But there is nothing at all in the context to intimate that Jesus forbade Mary to touch him for fear of pain; he may have done so from various motives: concerning which, however, the obscurity of the passage has hitherto precluded any decision.

But the most singularly perverted inference is this: that the infrequent and brief interviews of Jesus with his disciples after the resurrection are a proof that he was as yet too weak for long and multiplied efforts, arid consequently was undergoing a natural cure. On this very supposition of his needing bodily tendance, he should have been not seldom, but constantly, with his disciples, who were those from whom he could the most immediately expect such tendance. For where are we to suppose that he dwelt in the long intervals between his appearances? in solitude? in the open air? in the wilderness and on mountains? That was no suitable abode for an invalid, and nothing remains but to suppose that he must have been concealed among secret colleagues of whom even his disciples knew nothing. But thus to conceal his real abode even from his own disciples, to show himself to them only seldom, and designedly

* Olshausen, ut sup. s. 530.

† Comp. Fritzsche, in Marc. p. 725.

‡ See the various explanations in Tholuck and Lücke, of whom the latter finds an alteration of the reading necessary. Even Weisse’s interpretation of the words (2, s. 395 ff.), although I agree with the general tenor of the explanation of which it forms a part, I must regard as a failure.


to present and withdraw himself suddenly, would be a kind of double dealing, an affectation of the supernatural, which would exhibit Jesus and his cause in a light foreign to the object itself so far as it lies before us in our original sources of information, and only thrown upon it by the dark lantern of modern, yet already obsolete, conceptions. The opinion of the Evangelists is no other than that the risen Jesus, after those short appearances among his followers, withdrew like a higher being into invisibility, from which, on fitting occasions, he again stept forth. *

Lastly, on the presupposition that Jesus by his resurrection returned to a purely natural existence, what conception must be formed of his end? In consistency he must be supposed, whether at the end of a longer or a shorter time after his resuscitation, to have died a natural death; and accordingly Paulus intimates that the too intensely affected body of Jesus, notwithstanding it had recovered from the death-like rigidity produced by crucifixion, was yet completely worn out by natural maladies and consuming fever.That this is at least not the view of the Evangelists concerning the end of Jesus is evident, since two of them represent him as taking leave of his disciples like an immortal, the others as being visibly carried up to heaven. Thus before the ascension, at the latest, if until then Jesus had retained a natural human body, it must have undergone a change which qualified him to dwell in the heavenly regions; the sediment of gross corporeality must have fallen to the earth, and only its finest essence have ascended. But of any natural remains of the ascended Jesus the Evangelists say nothing; and as the disciples who were spectators of his ascension must have observed them had there been such, nothing is left for the upholders of this opinion but the expedient of certain theologians of the Tübingen school, who regard as the residuum of the corporeality of Jesus, the cloud which enveloped him in his ascension, and in which what was material in him is supposed to have been dissolved and as it were evaporated.§ As thus the Evangelists neither represent to themselves the end of the earthly life of Jesus after the resurrection as a natural death, nor mention any change undergone by his body at the ascension, and moreover narrate of Jesus in the interval between the resurrection and ascension things which are inconceivable of a natural body:

they cannot have represented to themselves his life after the resurrection as natural, but only as supernatural, nor his body as material and organic, but only as transfigured.

In the point of view held by the Evangelists, this conception is not contradicted even by those particulars which the friends of the

* Comp. on this subject especially Weisse, ut sup. s. 339 ff.

† Brennecke, biblischer Beweis, dass Jesus nach seiner Auferstehung noch 27 Jahre leibhaftig auf Erden gelebt, und zum Wohle der Menschheit in der Stille fortgewirkt habe. 1819.

Ut sup. s. 793, 925. Comp. Briefe über den Rationalismus, s. 240.

§ Noch etwas über die Frage: warum haben die Apostel Matthäus und Johannes nicht ebenso wie die zwei Evangelisten Markus und Lukas die Himmelfahrt ausdrücklich erzählt? In Süskind’s Magazin, i7, s. 165 ff.


purely natural opinion respecting the life of the risen Jesus are accustomed to urge in their support. That Jesus ate and drank was, in the circle of ideas within which the gospels originated, as far from presupposing a real necessity, as the meal of which Jehovah partook with two angels in the tent of Abraham: the power of eating is here no proof of a necessity for eating.* That he caused himself to be touched, was the only possible mode of refuting the conjecture that an incorporeal spectre had appeared to the disciples; moreover, divine existences, not merely in Grecian, but also (according to the passage above quoted, Gen. xxxii. 24) in Hebrew antiquity, sometimes appeared palpable, in distinction from unsubstantial shades, though they otherwise showed themselves as little bound by the laws of materiality as the palpable Jesus, when he suddenly vanished, and was able to penetrate without hindrance into a room of which the door was closed.

It is quite another question, whether on our more advanced position, and with our more correct knowledge of nature, those two different classes of particulars can be held compatible with each other. Here we must certainly say: a body which consumes visible food, must itself be visible; the consumption of food presupposes an organism, but an organism is organized matter, and this has not the property of alternately vanishing and becoming visible again at will.More especially, if the body of Jesus was capable of being felt, and presented perceptible flesh and bones, it thus exhibited the impenetrability of matter, proper to it as solid: if on the other hand he was able to pass into closed houses and rooms, unhindered by the interposition of walls and doors, he thus proved that the impenetrability of solid matter did not belong to him. Since then according to the evangelical accounts he, must at the same time have had and not have had the same property: the evangelical representation of the corporeality of Jesus after the resurrection is manifested to be contradictory. And this contradiction is not of such a kind that it is divided among the different narrators; but the accotint of one and the same Evangelist includes those contradictory features within itself. The brief account of Matthew, it is true, implies in the embracing of the feet of Jesus by the women (v. 9) only the attribute of palpability,

* Joann. Damasc. de f. orth 4, 1.

† The vagueness of the conception which lies at the foundation of the evangelical accounts is well expressed by Origen, when he says of Jesus: After the resurrection, he existed in a form which held the mean between the materiality of his body before his passion, and the state of the soul when altogether destitute of such body (c. CeIs. ii. 62.)

‡ Hence even Kern admits that he knows not how to reconcile that particular in Luke with the rest, and regards it as of later, traditional origin (Hauptthats., ut sup. s 50). But what does this admission avail him, since he still has, from the narrative of John, the quality of palpability, which equally with the act of eating belongs to the "conditions of earthly life, the relations of the material world," to which the body of the risen Jesus, according to Kern’s own presupposition, "was no longer subjected."?


without at the same time presenting an opposite one; with Mark the case is reversed, his statement that Jesus appeared in another form (v. 12) implying something supernatural, while on the other hand he does not decidedly presuppose the opposite; in Luke, on the other hand, the permission to touch his body and the act of eating speak as decidedly in favour of organic materiality, as the sudden appearance and disappearance speak against it; but the members of this contradiction come the most directly into collision in John, where Jesus, immediately after he has entered into the closed room unimpeded by walls and doors,* causes the doubting Thomas to touch him.



The proposition: a dead man has returned to life, is composed of two such contradictory elements, that whenever it is attempted to maintain the one, the other threatens to disappear. If he has really returned to life, it is natural to conclude that he was not wholly dead; if he was really dead, it is difficult to believe that he has really become living.

When we form a correct opinion of the relation between soul and body, not abstractly separating the two, but conceiving them at once in their identity, the soul as the interior of the body, the body as the exterior of the soul, we know not how to imagine, to say nothing of comprehending, the revivification of a dead person. What we call the soul is the governing centre which holds in combination the powers and operations of the body; its function, or rather the soul itself, consists in keeping all other processes of which the body is susceptible in uninterrupted subjection to the superior unity of the process of organic life, which in man is the basis of his spiritual nature: so soon as this regulating power ceases to act, the supremacy in the various parts of the body is assumed by these other, inferior principles, whose work in its prosecution is corruption. When once these have acceded to the dominion, they will not be inclined to render it back to their former monarch, the soul; or rather this is impossible, because, quite apart from the question of the immortality of the human spirit (Geist), the soul (Seele) as such ceases in the same moment with its dominion and activity, which constitute its existence; consequently, in a revivification, even if resort be had to a miracle, this must consist in the direct creation of a new soul.

* Many fathers of the church and orthodox theologians held the capability thus exhibited by Jesus of penetrating through closed doors, not altogether reconcileable with the representation, that for the purpose of the resurrection the stone was rolled away from the grave, and hence maintained : resurrexit Christus clauso sepulchro, sive nondum ab ostio sepulchri revoluto per angelum lapide. Quenstedt, theol. didact. polem. 3, p. 542.

† Comp. Schleiermacher’s Weihnachtsfeier, s. 117 f.


Only in the dualism which has become popular on the subject of the relation between body and soul, is there anything to favour the opinion of the possibility of a revivification properly so called. In this system, the soul in its relation to the body is represented as like a bird, which, though it may for a time have flown out of the cage, can yet be once more caught and replaced in its former abode; and it is to such figures that an imaginative species of thought cleaves, in order to preserve the notion of revivification. But even in this dualistic view, the inconceivability of such an event is rather concealed than really diminished. For in the most abstract separation, the co-existence of the body and soul cannot be held as indifferent and lifeless as that of a box and its contents; on the contrary, the presence of the soul in the body produces effects, which again are the conditions whereby that presence is rendered possible. Thus so soon as the soul has forsaken the body, there is a cessation in the latter of those activities which according to the dualistic idea were the immediate expressions of the influence of the soul; at the same time, the organs of these activities—brain, blood, etc., begin to stagnate; a change which is coincident with the moment of death. Thus if it could occur to the departed soul, or be imposed on it by another, to re-enter its former dwelling-place: it would find this dwelling, even after the first moments, uninhabitable in its noblest parts, and unfit for use. To restore, in the same way as an infirm member, the most immediate organs of its activity, is an impossibility to the soul, since in order to effect anything in the body it has need of the service of these very organs: thus the soul, although remanded into the body, must suffer it to decay, from inability to exercise any influence over it; or there must be added to the miracle of its reconveyance into the body, the second miracle of a restoration of the lifeless bodily organs: an immediate interposition of God in the regular course of nature, irreconcileable with enlightened ideas of the relation of God to the world.

Hence the cultivated intellect of the present day has very decidedly stated the following dilemma: either Jesus was not really dead, or he did not really rise again.

Rationalism has principally given its adhesion to the former opinion. The short time that Jesus hung on the cross, together with the otherwise ascertained tardiness of death by crucifixion, and the uncertain nature and effects of the wound from the spear, appeared to render the reality of the death doubtful. That the agents in the crucifixion, as well as the disciples themselves, entertained no such doubt, would be explained not only by the general difficulty of distinguishing deep swoons and the rigidity of syncope from real death, but also from the low state of medical science in that age; while at least one example of the restoration of a crucified person appeared to render conceivable a resuscitation in the case of Jesus also. This example is found in Josephus, who informs us that of three crucified acquaintances whose release he begged from Titus, two died


after being taken down from the cross, but one survived.* How long these people had hung on the cross Josephus does not mention; but from the manner in which he connects them with his expedition to Thekoah, by stating that he saw them on his return from thence, they must probably have been crucified during this expedition, and as this, from the trifling distance of the above place from Jerusalem, might possibly be achieved in a day, they had in all probability not hung on the cross more than a day, and perhaps a yet shorter time. These three persons, then, can scarcely have hung much longer than Jesus, who, according to Mark, was on the cross from nine in the morning till towards six in the evening, and they were apparently taken down while they still showed signs of life; yet with the most careful medical tendance only one survived. Truly it is difficult to perceive how it can hence be shown probable that Jesus, who when taken from the cross showed all the signs of death, should have come to life entirely of himself, without the application of medical skill.

According to a certain opinion, however, these two conditions—some remains of conscious life, and careful medical treatment—were not wanting in the case of Jesus, although they are not mentioned by the Evangelists. Jesus, we are told, seeing no other way of purifying the prevalent messianic idea from the admixture of material and political hopes, exposed himself to crucifixion, but in doing so relied on the possibility of procuring a speedy removal from the cross by early bowing his head, and of being afterwards restored by the medical skill of some among his secret colleagues; so as to inspirit the people at the same time by the appearance of a resurrection.Others have at least exonerated Jesus from such contrivance, and have admitted that be really sank into a deathlike slumber; but have ascribed to his disciples a preconceived plan of producing apparent death by means of a potion, and thus by occasioning his early removal from the cross, securing


his restoration to life.|| But of all

* Joseph. vita, 75. And when 1 was sent by Titus Caesar with Cerealius and 1,000 horsemen, to a certain village called Thecoa, in order to know whether it were a place fit for a camp, as I came back, I saw many captives crucified; and remembered three of them as my former acquaintance. I was very sorry at this in my mind; and went with tears in my eyes to Titus, and told him of them; so he immediately commanded them to be taken down, and to have the greatest care taken of then:, in order to their recovery; yet two of them died under the physician’s hands, while the third recovered. For the arguments of Paulus on this passage, see exeg. Handb. 3, b, s. 786; and in the Appendix, s. 929 ff.

† Bretschneider, über den angeblichen Scheintod Jesu am Kreuze, in Ullmann’s und Umbreit’s Studien, 2832, 3, s. 625 ff.; Hug, Beiträge zur Geschichte des Verfahrens bei der Todesstrafe der Kreuzigung, Freiburger Zeitschr. 7, s. 144 ff.

‡ Bahrdt, Ausführung des Plans und Zwecks Jesu. Comp. on the other hand, Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, b, 793 f.

|| Xenodoxien, in der Abh.: Joseph und Nikodemus. Comp. on the other hand KIaiber’s Studien der würtemberg. Geistlichkeit, 2, 2, s. 84 ff.


this our evangelical sources give no intimation, and for conjecturing such details we have no ground. Judicious friends of the natural explanation, who repudiate such monstrous productions of a system which remodels history at will, have hence renounced the supposition of any remains of conscious life in Jesus, and have contented themselves, for the explanation of his revivification, with the vital force which remained in his still young and vigorous body, even after the cessation of consciousness; and have pointed out, instead of premeditated tendance by the hands of men, the beneficial influence which the partly oleaginous substances applied to his body must have had in promoting the healing of his wounds, and, united with the air in the cave, impregnated with the perfumes of the spices, in reawakening feeling and consciousness in Jesus * to all which was added as a decisive impulse, the earthquake and the lightning which on the morning of the resurrection opened the grave of Jesus.Others have remarked, in opposition to this, that the cold air in the cave must have had anything rather than a vivifying tendency; that strong aromatics in a confined space would rather have had a stupefying and stifling influence; and the same effect must have been produced by a flash of lightning bursting into the grave, if this were not a mere figment of rationalistic expositors.

Notwithstanding all these improbabilities, which are against the opinion that Jesus came to life after a merely apparent death by the operation of natural causes, this nevertheless remains so far possible, that if we had secure evidence of the resuscitation of Jesus, we might, on the strength of such certainty as to the result, supply the omissions in the narrative, and approve the opinion above presented,—with the rejection, however, of all precise conjectures. Secure evidence of the resurrection of Jesus, would be the attestation of it in a decided and accordant manner by impartial witnesses. But the impartiality of the alleged witnesses for the resurrection of Jesus, is the very point which the opponents of Christianity, from Celsus down to the Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist, have invariably called in question. Jesus showed himself to his adherents only: why not also to his enemies, that they too might be convinced, and that by their testimony posterity might be precluded from every conjecture of a designed fraud on the part of his disciples? § I cannot certainly attach much weight to the replies by which apologists have sought to repel this objection, from that of Origen, who says: Christ avoided the judge who condemned him, and his enemies, that they might not be smitten with blindness ; || to the opinions of

* Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, b, s. 785 ff.L. J. 1, b, s. 281 ff.

† Schuster, in Eichhorn’s alIg. Biblioth. 9, s 1053.

‡ Winer, bibl. Realw. 1, s. 674.

§ Orig. c. Cels. ii. 63. Comp. the Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist, in Lessing, s. 450, 60, 92 ff.; Woolston, Disc. 6. Spinoza, ep. 23, ad Oldenburg, p. 558 f. ed. Gfrörer.

|| Ut sup. 67.


the modern theologians, who by their vacillation between the assertion that by such an appearance the enemies of Jesus would have been compelled to believe, and the opposite one, that they would not have believed even on such evidence,—rnutually confute one another.* Nevertheless, it can still be urged in reply to that objection, that the adherents of Jesus, from their hopelessness, which is both unanimously attested by the narratives, and is in perfect accordance with the nature of the case, here rise to the rank of impartial witnesses. If they had expected a resurrection of Jesus and we had then been called upon to believe it on their testimony alone: there would certainly be a possibility and perhaps also a probability, if not of an intentional deception, yet of an involuntary self-delusion on their part; but this possibility vanishes in proportion as the disciples of Jesus lost all hope after his death. Now even if it be denied that any one of the gospels proceeded immediately from a disciple of Jesus, it is still certain from the epistles of Paul and the Acts that the Apostles themselves had the conviction that they had seen the risen Jesus. We might then rest satisfied with the evangelical testimonies in favour of the resurrection, were but these testimonies in the first place sufficiently precise, and in the second, in agreement with themselves and with each other. But in fact the testimony of Paul, which is intrinsically consistent and is otherwise most important, is so general and vague, that taken by itself, it does not carry us beyond the subjective fact, that the disciples were convinced of the resurrection of Jesus; while the more fully detailed narratives of the gospels, in which the resurrection of Jesus appears as an objective fact, are, from the contradictions of which they are convicted, incapable of being used as evidence, and in general their account of the life of Jesus after his resurrection is not one which has connexion and unity, presenting a clear historical idea of the subject, but a fragmentary compilation,which presents a series of visions, rather than a continuous history.

If we compare with this account of the resurrection of Jesus, the precise and internally consistent attestation of his death: we must incline to the other side of the dilemma above stated, and be induced to doubt the reality of the resurrection rather than that of the death. Hence Celsus chose this alternative, deriving the alleged appearance of Jesus after the resurrection, from the self-delusion of the disciples, especially the women, either dreaming or waking; or from what appeared to him still more probable, intentional deception : and more modern writers, as, for example, the Wolfenbüttel

* Comp. Mosheim, in his translation of the work of Origen against Celsus, on the passage above quoted; Michaelis, Anm. zum fünften Fragment, s. 407.

† Hase, L. J., § 049; Diss.: librorum sacrorum de J. Chr. a mortuis revocato atque in coelum sublato narrationem collatis vulgaribus illa ætate Judæorum de morte opinionibus interpretari conatus est C. A. Frege, p. 12 f. ; Weisse, die evang. Gesch. 2, s. 362 ff.

‡ Orig. c. Cels. ii. 55.


Fragmentist, have adopted the accusation of the Jews in Matthew, namely, that the disciples stole the body of Jesus, and afterwards fabricated,, with slender agreement, stories of his resurrection and subsequent appearances.* This suspicion is repelled by the remark of Origen, that a spontaneous falsehood on the part of the disciples could not possibly have animated them to so unflinching an announcement of the resurrection of Jesus amid the greatest perils and it is a just argument of modern apologists that the astonishing revolution from the deep depression and utter hopelessness of the disciples at the death of Jesus, to the strong faith and enthusiasm with which they proclaimed him as the Messiah on the succeeding Pentecost, would be inexplicable unless in the interim something extraordinarily encouraging had taken place—something, in fact, which had convinced them of his

resurrection.But that this cause of conviction was precisely a real appearance of the risen Jesus—that, indeed it was necessarily an external event at all is by no means proved. If we chose to remain on supranatural ground, we might with Spinoza suppose that a vision was produced by miraculous means in the minds of the disciples, the object of which was to make evident to them, in a manner accordant with their powers of comprehension and the ideas of their age, that Jesus by his virtuous life had risen from spiritual death, and that to those who followed his example he would grant a similar resurrection.§ With one foot at least on the same ground stands the supposition of Weisse, that the departed spirit of Jesus really acted on the disciples whom he had left behind; in connexion with which he refers to the apparitions of spirits, the impossibility of which remains unproved.|| ln order to escape from the magic circle of the supernatural, others have searched for natural external causes which might induce the belief that Jesus had risen and had been seen after his resurrection. The first impetus to this opinion, it has been conjectured, was given by the circumstance that on the second morning after the burial his grave was found empty, the linen clothes which lay in it being taken first for angels and then for an appearance of the risen Jesus

* The 5th Fragment, in Lessing’s 4th Beitrag. Woolston, Disc. 8.

† Ut sup. 56.

‡ Ullmann, Was setz die Stiftung der Christlichen Kirche durch einen Gekreuzigten voraus? In his Studien, 1832, 3, s. 589 f. (Röhr); Briefe über den Rationalismus, s. 28, 236. Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, b, s. 826 f.; Hase, § 146.

§ Spinoza, ut sup.

|| Die evang. Gesch. 2, s. 426 ff.


himself: * but if the body of Jesus was not reanimated, how are we to suppose that it came out of the grave? Here it would be necessary to recur to the supposition of a theft: unless the intimation of John, that Jesus on account of haste was laid in a strange grave, were thought available for the conjecture that perhaps the owner of the grave caused the corpse to be removed: which however the disciples must subsequently have learned, and which in any case has too frail a foundation in the solitary statement of the fourth gospel.

Far more fruitful is the appeal to the passage of Paul (1 Cor. xv. 5 ff.), as the most appropriate starting point in this inquiry, and the key to the comprehension of all the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection,When Paul there places the Christophany which occurred to himself in the same series with the appearances of Jesus in the days after his resurrection : this authorizes us, so far as nothing else stands in the way of such an inference, to conclude that, for aught the Apostle knew, those earlier appearances were of the same nature with the one experienced by himself. Now with respect to the latter as narrated to us in the Acts (ix. 1 ff, xxii. 3 ff., xxvi 12 ff), it is no longer possible, after the analysis of Eichhornand Ammon,§ to retain it as an external, objective appearance of the real Christ; even Neander|| does not positively dare to maintain more than an internal influence of Christ on the mind of Paul, only appending in a very beseeching manner the supposition of an external appearance; and even that internal influence he himself renders superfluous by detailing the causes which might in a natural manner produce such a revolution in the disposition of the man thus: the favourable impression of Christianity, of the doctrine, life and conduct of its adherents, which he had here and there received, especially on the occasion of the martyrdom of Stephen, threw his mind into a state of excitement and conflict, which he might indeed for a time forcibly repress, perhaps even by redoubled zeal against the new sect, but which must at last find vent in a decisive spiritual crisis, concerning which it need not surprise us that in an oriental it took the form of a Christophany. If according to this we have in the Apostle Paul an example, that strong impressions from the infant Christian community might carry an ardent mind that had long striven against it, to a pitch of exaltation which issued in a Christophany, and a total change of sentiment: surely the impression of the sublime personality of Jesus would suffice to inspire into his immediate disciples, struggling with the doubts concerning his messiahship which his death had excited in them, the experience of similar visions. They who think it necessary and desirable in relation to the Christophany of Paul

* Versuch über die Auferstehung Jesu, in Schmidt’s Bibliothek, 2, 4, s 545 ff.

† Ibid., s. 537; Kaiser, bibl. Theol. 1, s. 258 f.; Frege, ut sup. p. 13.

‡ In his allg. Bibliothek, 6, i, s. 1 ff.

§ Comm. exeg. de repentina Sauli—conversione. In his opusc. theol.; Fortbildung des Christenth. 2, 1, Kap. 3. Comp. also my Streitschriften, 2tes Heft, s. 52 ff.

|| Gesch. der Pflanzung und Leitung der Christl. Kirche durch die Apostel, 1, s. 75 ff.


to call in the aid of external natural phenomena, as thunder and lightning, may also seek to facilitate the explanation of the appearances of the risen Jesus which his immediate disciples believed themselves to have previously had, by the supposition of similar incidents.* Only it must be observed that, as Eichhorn’s explanation of the event in the life of Paul proved a failure from his maintaining as historical every single detail in the New Testament narrative, as the blindness of Paul and his cure, the vision of Ananias, and so on, which he could only transform into natural occurrences by a very strained interpretation : so it would inevitably render impossible the psychological explanation of the appearances of Jesus, to acknowledge as historical all the evangelical narratives concerning them, especially those of the tests which Thomas applied by touching the wounds of Jesus, and which Jesus himself afforded by taking material nourishment; and indeed these narratives, from the contradiction which they are shown to present, have not the slightest claim to such a character. The two first gospels, and our chief informant in this matter, the Apostle Paul, tell us nothing of such tests, and it is quite natural that the Christophanies which, in the actual experience of the women and Apostles, may have floated before them as visions of much the same character as that which Paul had on the way to Damascus, when once received into tradition, should by reason of the apologetic effort to cut off all doubts as to their reality, be continually more and more consolidated so that the mute appearances became speaking ones, the ghostlike form was exchanged for one that ate, and the merely visible body was made palpable also.

Here however there presents itself a distinction, which seems at once to render the event in the history of Paul unavailable for the explanation of those earlier appearances. To the Apostle Paul, namely, the idea that Jesus had risen and appeared to many persons was delivered as the belief of the sect which he persecuted; he had only to receive it into his conviction and to vivify it in his imagination until it became a part of his own experience: the earlier disciples, on the contrary, had before them as a fact merely the death of their Messiah,—the notion of a resurrection on his part they could nowhere gather, but must, according to our conception of the matter, have first produced it; a problem which appears to be beyond all comparison more difficult than that subsequently presented to the Apostle Paul. In order to form a correct judgment on this subject, we must transport ourselves yet more completely into the situation and frame of mind into which the disciples of Jesus were thrown by his death. During several years’ intercourse with them he had constantly impressed them more and more decidedly with the belief that he was the Messiah; but his death, which they were unable to reconcile with their messianic ideas, had for the moment annihilated this belief. Now when, after the first shock was past, the earlier

* This is done in the treatise in Schmidt’s Bibliothek, and by Kaiser, ut sup.


impression began to revive: there spontaneously arose in them the psychological necessity of solving the contradiction between the ultimate fate of Jesus and their earlier opinion of him — of adopting into their idea of the Messiah the characteristics of suffering and death. As, however, with the Jews of that age to comprehend meant nothing else than to derive from the sacred scriptures: they turned to these, to ascertain whether they might not perhaps find in them intimations of a suffering and dying Messiah. Foreign as the idea of such a Messiah is to the Old Testament, the disciples, who wished to find it there, must nevertheless have regarded as intimations of this kind, all those poetical and prophetic passages which, like isa. liii., Ps. xxii., represented the man of God as afflicted and bowed down even to death. Thus Luke states as the chief occupation of the risen Jesus in his interview with the disciples, that beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself, i. e. that Christ ought to have suffered such things (xxiv. 26 f., 44 ff.). When they had in this manner received into their messianic idea ignominy, suffering and death, the ignominiously executed Jesus was not lost, but still remained to them: by his death he had only entered into his messianic glory (Luke xxiv. 26) in which he was invisibly with them always, even unto the end of the world (Matt. xxviii. 20). But how could he fail, out of this glory, in which he lived, to give tidings of himself to his followers? and how could they, when their mind was opened to the hitherto hidden doctrine of a dying Messiah contained in the scriptures, and when in moments of unwonted inspiration their hearts burned within them (Luke xxiv. 32),—how could they avoid conceiving this to be an influence shed on them by their glorified Christ, an opening of their understanding by him (v. 45), nay, an actual conversing with him ? * Lastly, how conceivable is it that in individuals, especially women, these impressions were heightened, in a purely subjective manner, into actual vision; that on others, even on whole assemblies, something or other of an objective nature, visible or audible, sometimes perhaps the sight of an unknown person, created the impression of a revelation or appearance of Jesus: a height of pious enthusiasm which is wont to appear elsewhere in religious societies peculiarly oppressed and persecuted. But if the crucified Messiah had truly entered into the highest form of blessed existence, he ought not to have left his body in the grave: and if in precisely such Old Testament passages as admitted of a typical relation to the sufferings of the Messiah, there was at the same time expressed the hope : thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption (Ps. xvi. 10; Acts ii. 27); while in Isa. liii. 10, he who had been represented as led to the slaughter and buried, was yet promised a prolongation of his days: what was more natural to the disciples than to reinstate their earlier Jewish ideas, which the death of Jesus had disturbed,

* Comp. Weisse, ut sup. p. 398 ff.


namely, that the Christ remaineth for ever (John xii. 34), through the medium of an actual revivification of their dead master, and, as it was a messianic attribute one day to call the dead bodily from the grave, to imagine also as returning to life in the manner of a resurrection?

Meanwhile, if the body of Jesus was interred in a known place, and could there (so far as we are not at liberty to suppose a theft, or an accidental removal) be sought for and exhibited: it is difficult to conceive how the disciples in Jerusalem itself, and not quite two days after the interment, could believe and declare that Jesus was risen, without refuting themselves, or meeting with refutation from their adversaries, (to whom however they appear to have made the first disclosure as to the resurrection of their Messiah at Pentecost,) by ocular demonstration at the grave.* Now it is here that the narrative of the first gospel, which has been unjustly placed below the others, presents an explanatory and satisfactory indication. According to this gospel also the risen Jesus does indeed appear in Jerusalem, but only to the women, and so entirely as a mere preparation for a succeeding interview, nay, so superfluously, that we have already questioned the truth of this appearance, and pronounced it to be a later modification of the legend of the angelic appearance, which Matthew nevertheless also included in his narrative.The sole important appearance of Jesus after the resurrection occurs, according to Matthew, in Galilee, whither an angel, and Jesus himself on the last evening of his life and on the morning of the resurrection, most urgently directed his disciples, and where the fourth gospel also, in its appendix, places an appearance of the resuscitated Jesus. That the disciples, dispersed by their alarm, at the execution of their Messiah, should return to their home in Galilee, where they had no need, as in the metropolis of Judea, the seat of the enemies of their crucified Christ, to shut the doors for fear of the Jews, was natural. Here was the place where they gradually began to breathe freely, and where their faith in Jesus, which had been temporarily depressed, might once more expand with its former vigour. But here also, where no body lay in the grave to contradict bold suppositions, might gradually be formed the idea of the resurrection of Jesus; and when this conviction had so elevated the courage and enthusiasm of his adherents that they ventured to proclaim it in the metropolis, it was no longer possible by the sight of the body of Jesus either to convict themselves, or to be convictcd by others.

According to the Acts, it is true, the disciples so early as on the next Pentecost, seven weeks after the death of Jesus, appeared in Jerusalem with the announcement of his resurrection, and were themselves already convinced of it on the second morning after his burial, by appearances which they witnessed. But how long will it yet be,

* Comp. Friedrich, in Eichhorn’s Biblioth. 7, s. 223.

† Comp. also Schmidt’s Biblioth. 2, s. 548.


until the manner in which the author of the Acts places the first appearance of the disciples of Jesus with the announcement of the new doctrine, precisely on the festival of the announcement of the old law, be recognized as one which rests purely on dogmatical grounds; which is therefore historically worthless, and in no way binds us to assign so short a duration to that time of quiet preparation in Galilee? As regards the other statement—it might certainly require some time for the mental state of the disciples to become exalted in the degree necessary, before this or that individual amongst them could, purely as an operation of his own mind, make present to himself the risen Christ in a visionary manner; or before whole assemblies, in moments of highly wrought enthusiasm, could believe that they heard him in every impressive sound, or saw him in every striking appearance:

but it would nevertheless be conceived, that, as it was not possible that he should be held by the bonds of death (Acts ii. 24), he had passed only a short time in the grave. As to the more precise determination of this interval, if it be held an insufficient explanation, that the sacred number three would be the first to suggest itself; there is a further idea which might occur,—whether or not it be historical that Jesus was buried on the evening before a sabbath,— namely, that he only remained in the grave during the rest of the sabbath, and thus rose on the morning after the sabbath prwi prwth sabbatw which by the known mode of reckoning might be reconciled with the round number of three days.*

When once the idea of a resurrection of Jesus had been formed in this manner, the great event could not be allowed to have happened so simply, but must be surrounded and embellished with all the pomp which the Jewish imagination furnished. The chief ornaments which stood at command for this purpose, were angels: hence these must open the grave of Jesus, must, after he had come forth from it, keep watch in the empty place, and deliver to the women, who (because without doubt women had had the first visions) must be the first to go to the grave, the tidings of what had happened. As it was Galilee where Jesus subsequently appeared to them, the journey of the disciples thither, which was nothing else than their return home, somewhat hastened by fear, was derived from the direction of an angel; nay, Jesus himself must already before his death, and, as Matthew too zealously adds, once more after the resurrection also, have enjoined this journey on the disciples. But the further these narratives were propagated by tradition, the more must the difference between the locality of the resurrection itself and the appearances of the risen one, be allowed to fall out of sight as inconvenient; and since the locality of the death and resurrection was not transferable, the appearances

* May the three days’ abode of Jonah in the whale have had any influence on this determination of time? or the passage in Hosea quoted above, § I II, note 3? Thc former is indeed only placed in this connexion in one gospel, and the latter is nowhere used in the N. T.


were gradually placed in the same locality as the resurrection,—in Jerusalem, which as the more brilliant theatre and the seat of the first Christian Church, was especially appropriate for them.*

* Compare with this explanation the one given by Weisse, in the 7th chapter of his work above quoted. He agrees with the above representation in regarding the death of Jesus as real, and the narratives of the grave being found empty as later fabrications; the point in which he diverges is that above mentioned—that in his view the appearances of the risen Jesus are not merely psychological and subjective, but objective magical facts.

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