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WHAT WE CAN SAY ON THE HISTORICITY OF THE MIRACLES OF JESUS
WE have seen that the miracles of Jesus are to be estimated not only as a constituent part but also as an integral part of his entire Messianic calling. The first of these two questions has been decided in the affirmative; miracles make no break either in the personality or in the calling of Jesus. We turn to the second question: What can be ascertained purely historically concerning the reality of the miracles of Jesus? It has already been pointed out that the question as to the reality of the miracles of Jesus has two sides. Here we do not deal with the question as to whether miracles are, on the whole, possible and conceivable, but solely with the purely historical question, whether historical instances can be obtained for the reality of the miracles of Jesus. But this question also demands division. In the first place, it comes in the form whether anything can be ascertained relative to the 48reality of miracles from a consideration of the state of the gospel tradition. In the second place, the religio-historical consideration obtrudes itself with power. Antiquity is rich in miracles which, like the miracles of Jesus in the new Testament, are ascribed both to heroes of heathenish mythology and legend, and also to truly historical personalities. Thus the problem is not to be rejected, but must present itself to every man, to every Christian: If the miracles of Jesus are to be accepted from Christian sources as historical facts, should one not judge with the same certainty as to the historicity of the miracles handed down in heathendom? On the other hand: If we hesitate to accept the miracles of heathenism, in which we see, perhaps, purely fictitious legend, should we not also deny the reality of the miracles of Jesus? To both of these questions we now turn our attention.
It may seem that, on the whole, one must concede that on the ground of historical inquiry he cannot assert something about the reality of an object which is supernatural, and which therefore lies outside the circle of events which we call historical. Without 49doubt this is correct; history can never speak the last word in such questions. How will one prove the historicity of a thing which, according to its very historical connection between cause and effect, is undiscernible? How will one establish a miracle through historical and literary inquiry? Such being the case, the other is also impossible: to try to prove the unhistoricity of the miracle records of the Gospel with the aid of historical inquiry. For history as such has for the same reason no right to speak on that subject. Through historical inquiry we may be able to find out instances, probability arguments for or against the reality of a recorded miracle; and we shall soon see that from the gospel records themselves a number of reasons can be referred to for the historicity of the miracles which, just as far as historical arguments are able, speak in favor of the reality of those miracles.
To be sure, an establishment in this sense of the facts for miracles would be impossible if at the outset the credibility of the records were as doubtful as is often supposed; if, in the "Christ-picture of faith,” 50which the Gospels offer, nothing else were to be seen than the picture of the historical Jesus adorned with a rich wreath of wondrous stories invented by religious enthusiasm for the person of Jesus, and otherwise distorted into the supernatural. Where such an opinion as this prevails, the attributing of miracles to Jesus is explained as the unavoidable consequence of Jewish belief in Jesus's Messianic dignity. In keeping with the Jewish Messianic expectation, early Christian believers simply had the wondrous deeds of the Old Testament men of God re- peated and surpassed by Jesus. Thus the miracles ascribed to Jesus are criticized away without difficulty, as the imputation of sentimental belief. A critique of this kind neutralizes itself, since it results in nothing but the greatest inconsequence. Negative criticism gladly accepts those words of Jesus which he delivered to those demanding a sign against the performance of an extraordinary miracle. No one objects to the idea that this attitude of Jesus is historical. But when it is to be inferred from this that in reality Jesus did no miracles, that he refused to perform any miracle, negative criticism 51is forced to consider all words of Jesus which refer to the accomplishment of any certain miracle, either as invented or as handed down in the record completely distorted. Discourses of Jesus which refer to a miracle which took place, or was to take place, are found in great number, and form the most important evidence against the denial of miracles, for these numerous words would completely hang in the air if the respective miracles had not taken place. Thus, for instance, the words spoken to the Pharisees before the healing of the man sick of the palsy (Matt. 9. 5, 6). The record is so unique that one cannot explain how such words could have been invented had there been no miracle. Think, also, of the discourse which refers to the feeding of the five thousand (Matt. 16. 18, seq.), or of the answer to the Baptist (Matt. 9. 4, seq.), or of the discourse on the Sabbath question called forth by healing of the sick (three times according to the synoptists). The very clear historical picture, against which no objection can lie, is this: that very extraordinary deeds were performed by Jesus which only emanated from his mercy, or 52now and then were performed perhaps for the purpose of symbolizing a higher, worldly wisdom. At the same time it is by no means necessary that all astonishing deeds of Jesus are to be understood as real miracles. It is possible that a large number of these do not go beyond the measure of that psycho-physical superiority, which is also found in rare cases among men. A. great number of cures may be directly paralleled to strange cures of later times. The Gospels themselves do not speak of all remarkable deeds of the Lord as having been real miracles; yet we have a number of events, also of cures, which can only be looked upon as real miracles.
It is only over against satisfying the mania for miracles that Jesus refused to perform miracles. To refuse a sign is by no means peculiar in the attitude of Jesus. It is in harmony with his attitude toward other matters, and is mainly the application of his fixed purpose to this special thing. For this one fact is absolutely certain: that Jesus neither did nor did he intend to answer to the Jewish popular expectation, according to which the kingdom of God had to come 53with observation; and that the Messiah had to surpass in mighty wonders everything that had occurred before. His whole life was a continually strained protest against this false popular expectation. But when the Gospels mean to make known and describe to us most clearly this very struggle against the Jewish expectation we cannot suppose that they had yielded at the same time to the impulse to impute miracles to the Lord in abundance. People who transmit the words of Jesus, "that no sign shall be given except that of Jonas,” cannot think of ascribing to him whom they thus make speak special miraculous deeds.
These are the points which may be quoted as instances for the historical reality of the miracles of Jesus. This, however, cannot mean that each recorded miracle is guaranteed offhand in its historicity by such considerations. It is by no means precluded that in the tradition and in the conception of the eyewitnesses this or that fact got out of its place, and that a certain event was perceived and interpreted by them as an absolute miracle, without being entitled to such an estimate. But we may safely add, 54after what Jesus himself said on the importance of his miracles, that it matters not by any means whether each individual miraculous deed of Jesus took place just so, and is to be understood just so, as the narrative reads. For the objective ascertaining of a miracle we have no sure means at our disposal. On this or that event, which the first tradition perceived as miraculous, considerations may assert themselves; considerations, indeed, of a purely historical nature, which do not admit of a certain final decision. But all this does not affect the general result to which we have come. The purely historical use of the sources already brings the probability to the line of certainty that Jesus performed real miracles.
Over against this general result we shall not omit to picture to ourselves some reflections against some miracle records which one cannot directly call unfounded. Those miracles of Jesus which were done on impersonal nature, without perceiving the motive of Jesus, or one otherwise answering to the attitude of Jesus have always caused special doubt. Such miracles would include 55the stilling .of the storm at sea, inasmuch as we may not assume that a real danger existed for the occupants of the boat; and Jesus himself could not doubt that the Father in heaven would not yet put an end to his work. In this case, was it really his word which quelled the storm, and did he bring it about in order to comfort the anxious disciples "of little faith"? We well understand this question; but it is not necessary to fall back upon this, that, on the supposition of the outer circumstances, the ceasing of the storm accidentally coincided with his commanding word, and the disciples explained this as a powerful deed. To us it rather seems that it was not at all against the known principles of Jesus to assist in such a condition the little faith of his faithful by powerful interference with the roaring elements. But how about the tribute money which he procured, and of which Matthew (17. 27) narrates? Did Jesus, indeed, have recourse to this means to procure for himself and Peter the small temple tax, since we may assume that at Capernaum, where this otherwise very credible narrative (verses 24, seq.) occurred, many a friend would 56have offered to him the small gift? But, above all things, is not the supposition plainly inconceivable that a fish which snapped at the glittering piece of money should, with the coin in its mouth, take the bait? Nevertheless if the event took place according to the wording of the texts, we have not a miracle of power, but a case of the miraculous knowledge of Jesus. But the suggestion is not to be rejected that in this narrative, which only belongs to the first Gospel, a shifting of the picture from recollection has taken place. We should find it entirely suitable to the view of Jesus when he said to Peter who was in straits for the tribute money: "Catch a big fish, and you have the necessary money; that is, what you require in your calling with little trouble you will certainly not refuse to the government, which has a right to demand!" Peter acted accordingly, and held in his hands an object which represented the tribute. In this manner the affair answers to the ethical sentiment of Jesus, whereas the assumption of a miraculous procuring of the tribute money would deprive the latter of its character and could with difficulty only be brought into 57harmony with the moral logic of the Lord.11The author here makes a concession wholly unnecessary.--Editor. This narrative offers a case which forces us to admit that the oral tradition in one single occurrence can only have shaped the miraculous character. The cursing of the fig tree (Matt. 21. 18-21; Mark 11. 12-14, 20-23) also causes a difficulty. The withering of the tree, according to Matthew, takes place at once before the eyes of the disciples; according to Mark the friend finds the accursed tree dried up in the evening. It has been pointed out, that such an incident cannot take place in the named season, not in the Easter, time, since at this time no fruits were to be expected on the tree. Such a hint is purposeless; there are many such exceptions in the life of nature, and here it is clearly stated, at all events, that the tree was covered with leaves, and thereby invited search for fruit. Even if this event is transferred to that autumn which Jesus spent at Jerusalem, of which John speaks in chapter 7, the main difficulty is not yet touched at all; for this is contained in the serious question, whether it was worthy of the hungry Jesus to curse 58the tree because he was disappointed and to make of it an example of his miraculous power? To say the least, such a way of acting cannot be reconciled with the character of Jesus as revealed to us. In consideration of this, it is only an evasion to speak of a "symbolic miracle,” by which the judgment which was to come over the city of Jerusalem was to be illustrated. Should one suppose this, then none of the narrators had understood the miracle, because neither of them has any reference to this coming judgment. Above all it is and remains remarkable, that for once the wondrous power of Jesus is used for a curse, whereas it is his very singularity to use it as a blessing. With this consideration, the wondrous power of the Lord is by no means called into question, who could also naturally have performed this miracle. It is an historic argument, the observation of the transmitted portrait of Jesus, whereby the supposition is suggested that we have to do here with a combination of an actual occurrence and a word of Jesus, like the parable . of the fruitless fig tree narrated only by Luke (13. 6-9). That, in this wise, a miracle record took root in 59an oral tradition, is easily understood. Jesus and his disciples are near the city; he is hungry, sees a fig tree richly covered with leaves; he expects to find some fruit on it but finds it not. This tree, which disappointed him in his just hope, becomes to him a symbol of the capital which, in like manner, disappoints the religious hope; and he says, with reference to Jerusalem: "This fig tree, not bringing fruit, shall wither,” just as in that parable he designates Israel as the fruitless fig tree, which is to be cut down. These examples are not intended to offer a sure decision on the respective miracle records, but that this only might become clear: that an impartial glance can meet with many difficulties which are fully intelligible and can be held in suspense without detriment to belief in the real, practical proof of the true wondrous power of Jesus.
Let us turn to the religio-historical points of view. We hereby enter upon a very large and different territory, in which we must make a scanty selection. We meet with miracles in the religious and in the profane literature of the nations in great multitudes, and we are wholly skeptical of such tradition. 60In all fairness nothing entitles us, who impartially measure according to the like standard that which is historically handed down everywhere, to estimate the miracles of Jesus more favorably. In a religio-historical comparison the analogies are of the highest importance, and in miracle materials the analogies are especially strong. Through similarity in this point, the various religions seem to come very close to each other. All miracles seem to be written on the same line. Common religio-historical study follows the principle to explain all like or related phenomena in the different religions, if anywhere possible, from like causes; so also miracles. It regards all religious data as subjective. What is written in the sacred codices is considered as the product of religious feeling or judgment. If it is supposed that miracle legends originated in the desire to bring the supernatural near to the human mind, and that on this account the supernatural was added as an attribute to adored heroes, the principle requires of similarly actuated analogy that all miracles of which these religions speak were of like origin; that is, that without exception all 61must be regarded as the outcome of imagination to which there is no reality. The real motive of the miracle composing imagination is thus seen in the popular longing for a concrete apprehension and description of the supernatural, which is fed by a perfect mania for miracles. From the state of the gospel writings we have already pointed out .a number of signs which, according to our view, strongly support the historicity of several of the miracles of Jesus. The trend of the criticism which we oppose is to shake conviction in the historical reality of the Gospel miracles; and over against the alleged principle of the analogy referred to, a stringent scientific proof that the miracles of the Gospels are of different origin than the miracles in foreign religious traditions cannot, of course, be brought. This proof is just as little to be given absolutely as the proof for the correctness of the principle of the analogy which is only an hypothesis. But no one will assert that this principle, although it comprises a large field, is of universal validity. Everyone will rather admit that a limitless multitude of cases is conceivable which outwardly, indeed, appear as analogies 62but which owe their existence to entirely different causes; under the supposition of this possibility we will make the following observations: Just as we previously found instances for the historicity of the miracles of Jesus according to the records, we now affirm that the motive for miracle narratives must not be considered offhand as the sole and authoritative reason for the narrative without doing violence to historical truth. Two things must here be borne in mind. In the first place this motive cannot be spoken of as a mania for miracles in a degree that it blindly received everything which is recorded of miraculous things; in the second place, the majority of the extra-canonical miracles stand in a very different relation than the canonical.
It sounds very strange that today we can. "no more" believe in miracles, whereas formerly such a belief was entirely in its proper place. One thing, indeed, seems to be evident, that the modern man in general is more opposed to the acceptance of a real miracle than the mark of the time of Jesus. But we must not forget that there is today also a playing with the miraculous which 63differs little from the mania for miracles of the past. And, when among us, not only the desire for appearances of dead persons and communication with them is publicly made known, but also the gratification of this want is promised, as it were, in a businesslike manner, is the like desire dictated by less mania for miracles than many things which we estimate so contemptibly in the thought of an age which in its naïvete had no idea of natural happenings conformable to law? This estimate is already made invalid by the mere existence of the notion of miracle. For when the ancient age possessed the idea of miracle it held it in opposition to the idea of regular laws of nature. The idea of miracle, be it ever so confused, always includes the thought of a conflict with natural law. Thus it is also very remarkable when one asserts that the contemporaries of Jesus were less strangely affected by the raising of a dead man than we moderns would be who know that the brazen law of nature retains in death whom it once has. The people of that time knew very well that the dead remains dead. After the burial of Lazarus, Mary, the sister of the deceased, 64who was intimately acquainted with Jesus, is not prepared for the idea that a resurrection is to take place. She, like those who were near her, thought, indeed, that Jesus could have cured the sick Lazarus; but the still unprecedented miracle on the dead they also regarded as impossible; and Martha wished to prevent the stone being taken from the grave (John 11. 32, 37, 39). In the Octavius of Minucius, Felix, the heathen, turns to the Christian and says: "I cannot agree to the return of the dead to life, for such a case only happened once, when Protesilaus, at the entreaties of his wife, returned for a few hours from the lower world.” But this case he also ascribed to fictitious legend. A resuscitation of the dead is narrated of the great Pythagorean philosopher and itinerant preacher Apollonius of Tyana, which he performed at Rome. A girl from a noble house died on the day of her wedding and is carried out. (By the way, the similarity of the individual traits with the Gospel narrative of the raising of the widow's son at Nain is so great that the Apollonius story looks very much like an intended analogy.) Apollonius causes 65them to put down the bier. "He touches the dead, speaks a few unintelligible words, and raises her from the frame.” The biographer, Philostratus, who is very skeptical as to this tradition, remarks (Vita Apollonii, iv. 45): "Whether he still found in her a spark of life which the physicians did not perceive—for it is said that the god had bedewed her, and from her face ascended a vapor—or whether he called back again the extinguished life and rekindled it, I am not able to ascertain, nor could they who were present.” In the Octavius mentioned already, the heathen complains of the credulity of former generations, under whose fictions the education of youth is still suffering: "Our ancestors very gladly believed in lies. Without examination they accepted as true even monstrous prodigies like the Scylla, the Chimera, etc.” What do the statements here put together prove? So much, at any rate, that at the very time when Christianity stepped in beside all trifling with the miraculous, skepticism also was a powerful factor in the mental life, and endeavored to cut the very ground from under the mania for miracles. Not only educated 66men, like the alleged authors, behave themselves in a critical manner toward miracles, but also the plain countrymen of Jesus were by no means especially disposed toward unprecedented miraculous events.
But, in spite of all, the wonderful stories of former times eagerly prevailed and were readily believed by the mass. In the first place, probably the god of medicine Askelepios (or, Latin, "Æsculapius), the true "saviour" of the heathen who, as the son of a god and a human mother, of Apollo and Koronis, was endowed with a wonderful healing power. After he had been snatched away from the earth through the lightning of Zeus, on account of his raisings of the dead (of which ten are recorded) he still worked from divine heights, healed through the hand of priests by means of medicine, or recompensed with recovery pilgrimages to his sanctuaries. And this is only one example. There is no doubt that at that time also belief in miracles was diffused and a mania for miracles prevailed. Other instances could be quoted as supplemental; but not all must be placed to account, such as that miracles were also ascribed to Roman 67emperors, for it is extremely doubtful whether the miracles were at all believed by anyone, and were not, rather, an official tune of the cult of the Caesars. But whoever goes through history will find no reason to rate very high the hunger for miracles in the age of Christ. The mania for miracles is the constant companion of enlightenment; it is always a powerful factor in the mental life, only the manifestations are different now and then; and it must be doubtful whether among people who were educated after the pattern of the wisdom of the synagogue, or who had at least felt the breath of the wind from the wing-stroke of that great wisdom, that the disposition to believe in miracles had been exceptionally great. It is known that as never before the dogma of the Almighty God of creation was indeed emphasized in later Judaism, but that this belief exclusively referred to the creating act of the past, whereas, confident belief in the God who is present in the history of his people, and in individuals ever rules and works, had receded more and more. The God, whose name one did not pronounce, was also lost to the religious feeling; and, 68although this decay of religion was in the first place a production of theology, and the pious and retired ones in the country uninfluenced by it found edification in psalms and ancient prayers, it could not be prevented that the deistic view of the educated concerning the world and God encroached on the masses. This was also unavoidable, because the temple ceremonial changed in the direction of the transcendent. From all this it must also be evident that the Jewish generation of that time also was not greatly disposed to recognize events as miraculous works of God, and it is not without difficulty to expect of the first Christian generation that without cogent facts it twined a wreath of divine deeds around the Saviour who a short time ago still lived among them, and represented these miracles as the immediate effects of God himself, as is done in the fourth Gospel. The history of our mental life shows that in such situations all manner of superstition and mystery easily springs up, which at the first time meddle with the dark powers; but this is something very different from imputing to a historical person miraculous deeds which are 69said to have been wrought by a divine power and by a Divine Being. We have enough documents of that time pertaining to superstition and exorcism. At that time Jewish exorcists had especially acquired a certain reputation. Their formulas, which contained the names of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, according to the testimony of Origen (contra Celsum, iv. 33), were used by numerous non-Jewish magicians; and the "Solomonic" incantations were considered as especially efficacious. But we need only to think once more of the Apostle Paul to know how far removed even the Pharisaically educated man was from having recourse to the miracles of Jesus and thus also to the tendency of miracle fiction.
If therefore, the greatest caution is required when, according to the analogy of the bulk of the heathenish miracles, One wishes to trace a Gospel miracle to the mania for miracles, the essential difference between the miracles of Jesus and those of other heroes must also be taken into consideration. In general, it is forcible. We recognize it in the first place by this, that the miracles of Jesus owe their origin entirely to divine love. 70No real miracle can be found in the Gospels which was not a miracle of mercy. In spite of some discrepancies in the account (Mark 6. 56) the person of the miracle-worker, as such, steps back, whereas the extra-ceremonial miracles are characterized by this, that they take place and are described in glorification of the miracle-worker; and, though they are also not entirely lacking the motive of compassionate love, the person of the miracle-worker always stands in the foreground, and the miracles obtain thereby a certain proper object.
A few examples from a great mass of material may suffice. Let us commence with the miracles of the apocryphal gospel literature, and take the Gospel of Thomas, which purposes to fill the gap between the return of the carpenter's family from Egypt and the first visit to the temple by the child Jesus at the age of twelve. It commenced at once with two miracles of nature. "By his mere word,” as we are expressly told, Jesus, five years old, makes muddy water, with which he played, clear; he then makes twelve sparrows of mud. When a Jew became angry because he thereby, desecrated the 71Sabbath, and being rebuked also by his father, the boy proves by a miracle that he did nothing wrong; he claps his hands and calls to the sparrows: "Fly away!" and off they went. The son of a scribe, who causes the water to run out which little Jesus had collected in puddles, he calls a blockhead, and impious fellow, and causes him to become withered. Another boy, who touches him by the shoulder whilst running, he causes to fall down dead, "for every word of his is a ready deed.” To the reproacher, he replies that he only cures evildoers, but those become blind at once who reproached him. In this way it goes on. Here we have the grossest contrast to canonical literature. These are divine childish tricks by which the person is to be exalted. All who do not already perceive the God in the child must die. The Buddha child too, is already wonderfully bright after his birth. The newly born announces with a lion's voice his calling: "I am the sublimest, the best in the world! This is my last birth. I will make an end to birth, age, sickness, death.” At this follow miracle after miracle. Buddha's very unique knowledge is always praised. 72Buddha says it himself: "It is manifest unto me what occupies your mind; you cannot deceive me.”
Real marvelous knowledge is recorded in numerous cases of Jesus; however, no real marvelous knowledge of human beings is transmitted, but, indeed, a surprisingly clear knowledge of human thoughts and opinions, which, according to the analogy, we are even able to comprehend, so that it is not properly miraculous. Jesus only manifests a foreknowledge of his divine calling, of the kingdom of God; but here, too, only in great lines, refusing the knowledge of details. His extraordinary knowledge is of a purely prophetical kind. The knowledge of Buddha is magical, even the cures of Buddha lie also in an entirely different sphere, and are evidently intended to glorify the person of the hero; thus he gives to a prince, whose hands and feet were cut off, and whose prayer he hears in a distance through a message by means of the sacred formulas, the full possession of his members, and the healed shows at once a superhuman power. Buddha could also cause a fearful earthquake by stamping the ground. In 73these traits which are wanting in the Jesus picture of the Gospels, we feel at once the greatness of the contrast. It is not otherwise with Apollonius of Tyana. Like Buddha, he heals by special perceptive means or charms. "Æsculapius, too, used for his cures sundry means; prescribed medicine; afterward the patients had to sleep in his temples and follow the direction of the dreams which they had there. It is not the divine omnipotence which worked there; we meet with a jumble of the sensually natural and supernatural. Apollonius cannot only banish a ghost, but needs the coöperation of shouting men (Vita Apollonii, 7). When he wishes to deliver the city of Ephesus from the pestilence he leads the inhabitants to the statue of Apotrapacus, the calamity-averting Hercules. He also applies a morally very doubtful measure; he causes the stoning of an old man, who is to bear the cause of the epidemic; afterward, however, not a human corpse but a big dead dog is found (Vita Apollonii, iv, 11). A man suffering hydrophobia, he causes to be cured by the dog which bit him (Ibid., vi. 43). He is very superstitious; he touches the incense flames, 74when their flickering seems favorable (Ibid., i, 31). Besides, an absolutely wonderful knowledge is ascribed to him. He knows the language of every nation without having studied it; from small outward events he twice prophesies the short reign of the three soldier-emperors, Galba, Otho, Vitellius. At Ephesus he suddenly stops in the conversation and sees, experiencing it himself, how at the very minute Domitian is murdered in Rome (Ibid., i, 19; v, 11-13; viii, 26). Of Apollonius, as of his great master, Pythagoras (in the biography composed by Jamblichus), it is reported that he was able to be in many places at one and the same time, or to transfer himself with celerity to another place. Such magic freedom from limits of space and material existence, is also ascribed to Buddha.
In our Gospels such traits are not found, unless one understands in this sense the walking of Jesus on the sea.
In conclusion, let us turn once again to an apocryphal writing, the Acts of Peter, where the strangest things are told of their hero; he has the power to revive a pickled herring; at his command a suckling announces 75with a loud voice the impending judgment on Simon Magus, and challenges him to a contest in performing miracles. Even the contest is described, and this very fact in its pregnant form, allows us to perceive the signature of the heathenish miracle view. The alleged examples make it clear how in extra-canonical sources all miracles are recorded with the view of extolling the person of the hero. Like a contention for the divinely glorified person, it often affects us, indeed, when he is raised beyond the level of the human, whereas, on the other hand, the life of the respective individual betrays nothing of the divine. This is the unique peculiarity of the extra-canonical miracle records: that the miracles do not harmonize with the type of the acting persons. The superhuman is there only too deeply buried in that which is altogether too human, and comes forth from the latter like something that should not be. When the extremely acute Apollonius, who was endowed with superhuman knowledge, is involved in different popular superstitions, when he even applies immoral means in his miraculous help, we become confused. It is 76bad inconsistency which we find in the view forming the basis of such records. The heathenish "saviours" are said to perform cures which defy every human medical science; but when they apply to these divine deeds the genuinely human means of medicine, magic, and incantations, ceremonial washings, etc., this, too, is an inconsistency which allows us to see how the whole picture comes from the view of those who designed it. This inconsistency of view is not perceptible in the Gospels. Here, as we have seen, the miracles of Jesus appear as the true consequence of the entire being and calling of Jesus. To the other "heroes" the miraculous adheres like an official gown, like an ornament or insignia. Christ's personal life and work is a miracle. They were magnified through the miracles; Christ is so great that the miracle becomes small in comparison with him.22Seeberg, Grundwahrheiten der Christlichen Religion, p. 50. And, whereas in the heathen miracle narratives the heroes act from a certain egotistical fullness of heart, and gladly exhibit miraculous gift, we find nothing of this in the portrait of Jesus in the Gospels.77
Unspeakably great is the contrast of this simple and sublime personality with all world heroes, all legendary lords and saviours of mythology. He, Jesus the Christ and Lord of men, rises above all and yet in our endeavor to fully apprehend him he gladly remains in secret with his deeds of love and service.
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