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THE PRESUPPOSITIONS OF THE HISTORY OF DOGMA
§ I. Introductory.
THE Gospel presents itself as an Apocalyptic message on the soil of the Old Testament, and as the fulfilment of the law and the prophets, and yet is a new thing, the creation of a universal religion on the basis of that of the Old Testament. It appeared when the time was fulfilled, that is, it is not without a connection with the stage of religious and spiritual development which was brought about by the intercourse of Jews and Greeks, and was established in the Roman Empire; but still it is a new religion because it cannot be separated from Jesus Christ. When the traditional religion has become too narrow the new religion usually appears as something of a very abstract nature; philosophy comes upon the scene, and religion withdraws from social life and becomes a private matter. But here an overpowering personality has appeared—the Son of God. Word and deed coincide in that personality, and as it leads men into a new communion with God, it unites them at the same time inseparably with itself, enables them to act on the world as light and leaven, and joins them together in a spiritual unity and an active confederacy.
2. Jesus Christ brought no new doctrine, but he set forth in his own person a holy life with God and before God, and gave himself in virtue of this life to the service of his brethren in order to win then for the Kingdom of God, that is, to lead them out of selfishness and the world to God, out of 42the natural connections and contrasts to a union in love, and prepare them for an eternal kingdom and an eternal life. But while working for this Kingdom of God he did not withdraw from the religious and political communion of his people, nor did he induce his disciples to leave that communion. On the contrary, he described the Kingdom of God as the fulfilment of the promises given to the nation, and himself as the Messiah whom that nation expected. By doing so he secured for his new message, and with it his own person, a place in the system of religious ideas and hopes, which by means of the Old Testament were then, in diverse forms, current in the Jewish nation. The origin of a doctrine concerning the Messianic hope, in which the Messiah was no longer an unknown being, but Jesus of Nazareth, along with the new temper and disposition of believers was a direct result of the impression made by the person of Jesus. The conception of the Old Testament in accordance with the analogia fidei, that is, in accordance with the conviction that this Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, was therewith given. Whatever sources of comfort and strength Christianity, even in its New Testament, has possessed or does possess up to the present, is for the most part taken from the Old Testament, viewed from a Christian stand-point, in virtue of the impression of the person of Jesus. Even its dross was changed into gold; its hidden treasures were brought forth, and while the earthly and transitory were recognised as symbols of the heavenly and eternal, there rose up a world of blessings, of holy ordinances, and of sure grace prepared by God from eternity. One could joyfully make oneself at home in it; for its long history guaranteed a sure future and a blessed close, while it offered comfort and certainty in all the changes of life to every individual heart that would only raise itself to God. From the positive position which Jesus took up towards the Old Testament, that is, towards the religious traditions of his people, his Gospel gained a footing which, later on, preserved it from dissolving in the glow of enthusiasm, or melting away in the ensnaring dream of antiquity, that dream of the indestructible Divine nature of the human spirit, and the nothingness and baseness of all material 43things.4747The Old Testament of itself alone could not have convinced the Græco-Roman world. But the converse question might perhaps be raised as to what results the Gospel would have had in that world without its union with the Old Testament. The Gnostic Schools and the Marcionite Church are to some extent the answer. But would they ever have arisen without the presupposition of a Christian community which recognised the Old Testament? But from the positive attitude of Jesus to the Jewish tradition, there followed also, for a generation that had long been accustomed to grope after the Divine active in the world, the summons to think out a theory of the media of revelation, and so put an end to the uncertainty with which speculation had hitherto been afflicted. This, like every theory of religion, concealed in itself the danger of crippling the power of faith; for men are ever prone to compound with religion itself by a religious theory.
3. The result of the preaching of Jesus, however, in the case of the believing Jews, was not only the illumination of the Old Testament by the Gospel and the confirmation of the Gospel by the Old Testament, but not less, though indirectly, the detachment of believers from the religious community of the Jews from the Jewish Church. How this came about cannot be discussed here: we may satisfy ourselves with the fact that it was essentially accomplished in the first two generations of believers. The Gospel was a message for humanity even when there was no break with Judaism; but it seemed impossible to bring this message home to men who were not Jews in any other way than by leaving the Jewish Church. But to leave that Church was to declare it to be worthless, and that could only be done by conceiving it as a malformation from its very commencement, or assuming that it had temporarily or completely fulfilled its mission. In either case it was necessary to put another in its place, for, according to the Old Testament, it was unquestionable that God had not only given revelations, but through these revelations had founded a nation, a religious community. The result, also, to which the conduct of the unbelieving Jews, and the social union of the disciples of Jesus required by that conduct, led, was carried home with irresistible power: believers 44in Christ are the community of God, they are the true Israel, the ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ: but the Jewish Church persisting in its unbelief is the Synagogue of Satan. Out of this consciousness sprang—first as a power in which one believed, but which immediately began to be operative, though not as a commonwealth—the Christian Church, a special communion of hearts on the basis of a personal union with God, established by Christ and mediated by the Spirit; a communion whose essential mark was to claim as its own the Old Testament and the idea of being the people of God, to sweep aside the Jewish conception of the Old Testament and the Jewish Church, and thereby gain the shape and power of a community that is capable of a mission for the world.
4. This independent Christian community could not have been formed had not Judaism, in consequence of inner and outer developments, then reached a point at which it must either altogether cease to grow or burst its shell. This community is the presupposition of the history of dogma, and the position which it took up towards the Jewish tradition is, strictly speaking, the point of departure for all further developments, so far as with the removal of all national and ceremonial peculiarities it proclaimed itself to be what the Jewish Church wished to be. We find the Christian Church about the middle of the third century, after severe crisis, in nearly the same position to the Old Testament and to Judaism as it was 150 or 200 years earlier.4848We here leave out of account learned attempts to expound Paulinism. Nor do we take any notice of certain truths regarding the relation of the Old Testament to the New, and regarding the Jewish religion, stated by the Antignostic church teachers, truths which are certainly very important, but have not been sufficiently utilised. It makes the same claim to the Old Testament, and builds its faith and hope upon its teaching. It is also, as before, strictly anti-national; above all, anti-judaic, and sentences the Jewish religious community to the abyss of hell. It might appear, then, as though the basis for the further development of Christianity as a church was completely given from the moment in which the first breach of believers with the synagogue and the formation of independent 45Christian communities took place. The problem, the solution of which will always exercise this church, so far as it reflects upon its faith, will be to turn the Old Testament more completely to account in its own sense, so as to condemn the Jewish Church with its particular and national forms.
5. But the rule even for the Christian use of the Old Testament lay originally in the living connection in which one stood with the Jewish people and its traditions, and a new religious community, a religious commonwealth, was not yet realised, although it existed for faith and thought. If again we compare the Church about the middle of the third century with the condition of Christendom 150 or 200 years before, we shall find that there is now a real religious commonwealth, while at the earlier period there were only communities who believed in a heavenly Church, whose earthly image they were, endeavoured to give it expression with the simplest means, and lived in the future as strangers and pilgrims on the earth, hastening to meet the Kingdom of whose existence they had the surest guarantee. We now really find a new commonwealth, politically formed and equipped with fixed forms of all kinds. We recognise in these forms few Jewish, but many Græco-Roman features, and finally we perceive also in the doctrine of faith on which this common-wealth is based, the philosophic spirit of the Greeks. We find a Church as a political union and worship institute, a formulated faith and a sacred learning; but one thing we no longer find, the old enthusiasm and individualism which had not felt itself fettered by subjection to the authority of the Old Testament. Instead of enthusiastic independent Christians, we find a new literature of revelation, the New Testament, and Christian priests. When did these formations begin? How and by what influence was the living faith transformed into the creed to be believed, the surrender to Christ into a philosophic Christology, the Holy Church into the corpus permixtum, the glowing hope of the Kingdom of heaven into a doctrine of immortality and deification, prophecy into a learned exegesis and theological science, the bearers of the spirit into clerics, the brethren into laity held in tutelage, miracles and 46healings into nothing or into priestcraft, the fervent prayers into a solemn ritual, renunciation of the world into a jealous dominion over the world, the “spirit” into constraint and law ?
There can be no doubt about the answer: these formations are as old in their origin as the detachment of the Gospel from the Jewish Church. A religious faith which seeks to establish a communion of its own in opposition to another, is compelled to borrow from that other what it needs. The religion which is life and feeling of the heart cannot be converted into a knowledge determining the motley multitude of men without deferring to their wishes and opinions. Even the holiest must clothe itself in the same existing earthly forms as the profane if it wishes to found on earth a confederacy which is to take the place of another, and if it does not wish to enslave, but to determine the reason. When the Gospel was rejected by the Jewish nation, and had disengaged itself from all connection with that nation, it was already settled whence it must take the material to form for itself a new body and be transformed into a Church and a theology. National and particular, in the ordinary sense of the word, these forms could not be: the contents of the Gospel were too rich for that; but separated from Judaism, nay, even before that separation, the Christian religion came in contact with the Roman world and with a culture which had already mastered the world, viz., the Greek. The Christian Church and its doctrine were developed within the Roman world and Greek culture in opposition to the Jewish Church. This fact is just as important for the history of dogma as the other stated above, that this Church was continuously nourished on the Old Testament. Christendom was of course conscious of being in opposition to the empire and its culture, as well as to Judaism; but this from the beginning—apart from a few exceptions—was not without reservations. No man can serve two masters; but in setting up a spiritual power in this world one must serve an earthly master, even when he desires to naturalise the spiritual in the world. As a consequence of the complete break with the Jewish Church there followed not only the strict necessity of quarrying the stones for the 47building of the Church from the Græco-Roman world, but also the idea that Christianity has a more positive relation to that world than to the synagogue. And, as the Church was being built, the original enthusiasm must needs vanish. The separation from Judaism having taken place, it was necessary that the spirit of another people should be admitted, and should also materially determine the manner of turning the Old Testament to advantage.
6. But an inner necessity was at work here no less than an outer. Judaism and Hellenism in the age of Christ were opposed to each other, not only as dissimilar powers of equal value, but the latter having its origin among a small people, became a universal spiritual power, which, severed from its original nationality, had for that very reason penetrated foreign nations. It had even laid hold of Judaism, and the anxious care of her professional watchmen to hedge round the national possession, is but a proof of the advancing decomposition within the Jewish nation. Israel, no doubt, had a sacred treasure which was of greater value than all the treasures of the Greeks,—the living God; but in what miserable vessels was this treasure preserved, and how much inferior was all else possessed by this nation in comparison with the riches, the power, the delicacy and freedom of the Greek spirit and its intellectual possessions. A movement like that of Christianity, which discovered to the Jew the soul whose dignity was not dependent on its descent from Abraham, but on its responsibility to God, could not continue in the frame-work of Judaism however expanded, but must soon recognise in that world which the Greek spirit had discovered and prepared, the field which belonged to it: εἰκότως Ἰουδαίοίς μὲν νόμος, Ἕλλεσι δὲ φιλοσοφία μέχρις τῆς παρουσίας ἐντεῦθεν δὲ ἡ κλῆσις ἡ καθολική [to the Jews the law, to the Greeks Philosophy, up to the Parousia; from that time the catholic invitation]. But the Gospel at first was preached exclusively to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and that which inwardly united it with Hellenism did not yet appear in any doctrine or definite form of knowledge.
On the contrary, the Church doctrine of faith, in the preparatory 48stage, from the Apologists up to the time of Origen, hardly in any point shews the traces, scarcely even the remembrance of a time in which the Gospel was not detached from Judaism. For that very reason it is absolutely impossible to understand this preparation and development solely from the writings that remain to us as monuments of that short earliest period. The attempts at deducing the genesis of the Church’s doctrinal system from the theology of Paul, or from compromises between Apostolic doctrinal ideas, will always miscarry; for they fail to note that to the most important premises of the Catholic doctrine of faith belongs an element which we cannot recognise as dominant in the New Testament.4949There is indeed no single writing of the new Testament which does not betray the influence of the mode of thought and general conditions of the culture of the time which resulted from the Hellenising of the east: even the use of the Greek translation of the Old Testament attests this fact. Nay, we may go further, and say that the Gospel itself is historically unintelligible, so long as we compare it with an exclusive Judaism as yet unaffected by any foreign influence. But on the other hand, it is just as clear that, specifically, Hellenic ideas form the pre-suppositions neither for the Gospel itself, nor for the most important New Testament writings. It is a question rather as to a general spiritual atmosphere created by Hellenism, which above all strengthened the individual element, and with it the idea of completed personality, in itself living and responsible. On this foundation we meet with a religious mode of thought in the Gospel and the early Christian writings, which so far as it is at all dependent on an earlier mode of thought, is determined by the spirit of the Old Testament (Psalms and Prophets) and of Judaism. But it is already otherwise with the earliest Gentile Christian writings. The mode of thought here is so thoroughly determined by the Hellenic spirit that we seem to have entered a new world when we pass from the synoptists, Paul and John, to Clement, Barnabas, Justin or Valeutinus. We may therefore say, especially in the frame-work of the history of dogma, that the Hellenic element has exercised an influence on the Gospel first on Gentile Christian soil, and by those who were Greek by birth, if only we reserve the general spiritual atmosphere above referred to. Even Paul is no exception; for in spite of the well-founded statement of Weizsäcker (Apostolic Age, vol. I. Book II) and Heinrici (Das 2 Sendschreiben an die Korinthier, 1887, p. 578 ff.), as to the Hellenism of Paul, it is certain that the Apostle’s mode of religious thought, in the strict sense of the word, and therefore also the doctrinal formation peculiar to him, are but little determined by the Greek spirit. But it is to he specially noted that as a missionary and an Apologist he made use of Greek ideas (Epistles to the Romans and Corinthians). He was not afraid to put the Gospel into Greek modes of thought. To this extent we can already observe in him the beginning of the development which we can trace so clearly in the Gentile Church from Clement to Justin, and from Justin to Irenæus. 49viz., the Hellenic5050The complete universalism of salvation is given in the Pauline conception of Christianity. But this conception is singular. Because: (1) the Pauline universalism is based on a criticism of the Jewish religion as religion, including the Old Testament, which was not understood and therefore not received by Christendom in general. (2) Because Paul not only formulated no national anti-judaism, but always recognised the prerogative of the people of Israel as a people. (3) Because his idea of the Gospel, with all his Greek culture, is independent of Hellenism in its deepest grounds. This peculiarity of the Pauline Gospel is the reason why little more could pass from it into the common consciousness of Christendom than the universalism of salvation, and why the later development of the Church cannot be explained from Paulinism. Baur, therefore, was quite right when he recognised that we must exhibit another and more powerful element in order to comprehend the post-Pauline formations. In the selection of this element, however, he has made a fundamental mistake by introducing the narrow national Jewish Christianity, and he has also given much too great scope to Paulinism by wrongly conceiving it as Gentile Christian doctrine. One great difficulty for the historian of the early Church is that he cannot start from Paulinism, the plainest phenomenon of the Apostolic age, in seeking to explain the following development, that in fact the premises for this development are not at all capable of being indicated in the form of outlines, just because they were too general. But, on the other hand, the Pauline theology, this theology of one who had been a Pharisee, is the strongest proof of the independent and universal power of the impression made by the Person of Jesus. spirit. As far backwards as we can trace the history of the propagation of the Church’s doctrine of faith, from the middle of the third century to the end of the first, we nowhere perceive a leap, or the sudden influx of an entirely new element. What we perceive is rather the gradual disappearance of an original element, the Enthusiastic and Apocalyptic, that is, of the sure consciousness of an immediate possession of the Divine Spirit, and the hope of the future conquering the present; individual piety conscious of itself and sovereign, living in the future world, recognising no external authority and no external barriers. This piety became ever weaker and passed away: the utilising of the Codex of Revelation, the Old Testament, proportionally increased with the Hellenic influences which controlled the process, for the two went always hand in hand. At an earlier period the Churches made very little use of either, because they had in individual religious inspiration on the basis of Christ’s preaching and the sure hope of his Kingdom which was near at hand, much more than either could bestow. The factors whose 50co-operation we observe in the second and third centuries, were already operative among the earliest Gentile Christians. We nowhere find a yawning gulf in the great development which lies between the first Epistle of Clement and the work of Origen, Περὶ ἀρχῶν. Even the importance which the “Apostolic” was to obtain, was already foreshadowed by the end of the first century, and enthusiasm always had its limits.5151In the main writings of the New Testament itself we have a twofold conception of the Spirit. According to the one he comes upon the believer fitfully, expresses himself in visible signs, deprives men of self-consciousness, and puts them beside themselves. According to the other, the spirit is a constant possession of the Christian, operates in him by enlightening the conscience and strengthening the character, and his fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, etc. (Gal. V. 22). Paul above all taught Christians to value these fruits of the spirit higher than all the other effects of his working. But he has not by any means produced a perfectly clear view on this point: for “he himself spoke with more tongues than they all.” As yet “Spirit” lay within “Spirit.” One felt in the spirit of sonship a completely new gift coming from God and recreating life, a miracle of God; further, this spirit also produced sudden exclamations—“Abba, Father” and thus shewed himself in a way patent to the senses. For that very reason, the spirit of ecstasy and of miracle appeared identical with the spirit of sonship. (See Gunkel, Die Wirkungen d. h. Geistes nach der popularen Anschauung der Apostol. Zeit. Göttingen, 1888). The most decisive division, therefore, falls before the end of the first century; or more correctly, the relatively new element, the Greek, which is of importance for the forming of the Church as a commonwealth, and consequently for the formation of its doctrine, is clearly present in the churches even in the Apostolic age. Two hundred years, however, passed before it made itself completely at home in the Gospel, although there were points of connection inherent in the Gospel.
7. The cause of the great historical fact is clear. It is given in the fact that the Gospel, rejected by the majority of the Jews, was very soon proclaimed to those who were not Jews, that after a few decades the greater number of its professors were found among the Greeks, and that, consequently. the development leading to the Catholic dogma took place within Grco-Roman culture. But within this culture there was lacking the power of understanding either the idea of the completed Old Testament theocracy, or the idea of the Messiah. 51Both of these essential elements of the original proclamation, therefore, must either be neglected or remodelled.5252It may even be said here that the ἀθανασία (ζωὴ αἰώνιος), on the one hand, and the ἐκκλησία, on the other, have already appeared in place of the Βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ, and that the idea of Messiah has been finally replaced by that of the Divine Teacher and of God manifest in the flesh. But it is hardly allowable to mention details however important, where the whole aggregate of ideas, of religious historical perceptions and presuppositions, which were based on the old Testament, understood in a Christian sense, presented itself as something new and strange. One can easily appropriate words, but not practical ideas. Side by side with the Old Testament religion as the presupposition of the Gospel, and using its forms of thought, the moral and religious views and ideals dominant in the world of Greek culture could not but insinuate themselves into the communities consisting of Gen-tiles. From the enormous material that was brought home to the hearts of the Greeks, whether formulated by Paul or by any other, only a few rudimentary ideas could at first be appropriated. For that very reason, the Apostolic Catholic doctrine of faith in its preparation and establishment, is no mere continuation of that which, by uniting things that are certainly very dissimilar, is wont to be described as “Biblical Theology of the New Testament.” Biblical Theology, even when kept within reasonable limits, is not the presupposition of the history of dogma. The Gentile Christians were little able to comprehend the controversies which stirred the Apostolic age within Jewish Christianity. The presuppositions of the history of dogma are given in certain fundamental ideas, or rather motives of the Gospel, (in the preaching concerning Jesus Christ, in the teaching of Evangelic ethics and the future life, in the Old Testament capable of any interpretation, but to be interpreted with reference to Christ and the Evangelic history), and in the Greek spirit.5353It is one of the merits of Bruno Bauer (Christus und die Cäsaren, 1877), that he has appreciated the real significance of the Greek element in the Gentile Christianity which became the Catholic Church and doctrine, and that he has appreciated the influence of the Judaism of the Diaspora as a preparation for this Gentile Christianity. But these valuable contributions have unfortunately been deprived of their convincing power by a baseless criticism of the early Christian literature, to which Christ and Paul have fallen a sacrifice. Somewhat more cautious are the investigations of Havet in the fourth volume of Le Christianisme, 1884; Le Nouveau Testament. He has won great merit by the correct interpretation of the elements of Gentile Christianity developing themselves to catholicism, but his literary criticism is often unfortunately entirely abstract, reminding one of the criticism of Voltaire, and therefore his statements in detail are, as a rule, arbitrary and untenable. There is a school in Holland at the present time closely related to Bruno Bauer and Havet, which attempts to banish early Christianity from the world. Christ and Paul are creations of the second century: the history of Christianity begins with the passage of the first century into the second—a peculiar phenomenon on the soil of Hellenised Judaism in quest of a Messiah. This Judaism created Jesus Christ just as the later Greek religious philosophers created their Saviour (Apollonius, for example). The Marcionite Church produced Paul, and the growing Catholic Church completed him. See the numerous treatises of Loman, the Verisimilia of Pierson and Naber (1886), and the anonymous English work “Antigua Mater” (1887), also the works of Steck (see especially his Untersuchung über den Galaterbrief). Against these works see P. V. Schmidt’s “Der Galaterbrief,” 1892. It requires a deep knowledge of the problems which the first two centuries of the Christian Church present, in order not to thrust aside as simply absurd these attempts, which as yet have failed to deal with the subject in a connected way. They have their strength in the difficulties and riddles which are contained in the history of the formation of the Catholic tradition in the second century. But the single circumstance that we are asked to regard as a forgery such a document as the first Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, appears to me, of itself, to be an unanswerable argument against the new hypotheses.
8. The foregoing statements involve that the difference 52between the development which led to the Catholic doctrine of religion and the original condition, was by no means a total one. By recognising the Old Testament as a book of Divine revelation, the Gentile Christians received along with it the religious speech which was used by Jewish Christians, were made dependent upon the interpretation which had been used from the very beginning, and even received a great part of the Jewish literature which accompanied the Old Testament. But the possession of a common religious speech and literature is never a mere outward bond of union, however strong the impulse be to introduce the old familiar contents into the newly acquired speech. The Jewish, that is, the Old Testament element, divested of its national peculiarity, has remained the basis of Christendom. It has saturated this element with 53the Greek spirit, but has always clung to its main idea, faith in God as the creator and ruler of the world. It has in the course of its development rejected important parts of that Jewish element, and has borrowed others at a later period from the great treasure that was transmitted to it. It has also been able to turn to account the least adaptable features, if only for the external confirmation of its own ideas. The Old Testament applied to Christ and his universal Church has always remained the decisive document, and it was long ere Christian writings received the same authority, long ere individual doctrines and sayings of Apostolic writings obtained an influence on the formation of ecclesiastical doctrine.
9. From yet another side there makes its appearance an agreement between the circles of Palestinian believers in Jesus and the Gentile Christian communities, which endured for more than a century, though it was of course gradually effaced. It is the enthusiastic element which unites them, the consciousness of standing in an immediate union with God through the Spirit, and receiving directly from God’s hand miraculous gifts, powers and revelations, granted to the individual that he may turn them to account in the service of the Church. The depotentiation of the Christian religion, where one may believe in the inspiration of another, but no longer feels his own, nay, dare not feel it, is not altogether coincident with its settlements on Greek soil. On the contrary, it was more than two centuries ere weakness and reflection suppressed, or all but suppressed, the forms in which the personal consciousness of God originally expressed itself.5454It would be a fruitful task, though as yet it has not been undertaken, to examine how long visions, dreams and apocalypses, on the one hand, and the claim of speaking in the power and name of the Holy Spirit, on the other, played a rôle in the early Church; and further to shew how they nearly died out among the laity, but continued to live among the clergy and the monks, and how, even among the laity, there were again and again sporadic outbreaks of them. The material which the first three centuries present is very great. Only a few may he mentioned here: Ignat. ad. Rom. VII. 2: ad Philad VII. ad. Eph. XX. I. etc.: 1 Clem. LXIII. 2: Martyr. Polyc.: Acta Perpet. et Felic: Tertull de animo XLVII.: “Major pæne vis hominum e visionibus deum discunt.” Orig. c. Celsum. 1. 46: πολλοὶ ὡσπερεὶ ἅκοντες προσεληλύθασι χριστιανισμῶ, πνεύματός τινός τρέψαντος . . . καὶ φαντασιώσαντος αὐτοὺς ὕπαρ ἤ ὄναρ (even Arnobius was ostensibly led to Christianity by a dream). Cyprian makes the most extensive use of dreams, visions, etc., in his letters, see for example Ep. XI. 3–5: XVI. 4 (“præter nocturnas visiones per dies quoque impletur apud nos spiritu sancto puerorum innocens ætas, quæ in ecstasi videt,” etc.); XXXIX. i: LXVI. Io (very interesting: “quamquam sciam somnia ridicula et visiones ineptas quibusdam videri, sed utique illis, qui malunt contra sacerdotes credere quam sacerdoti, sed nihil mirum, quando de Joseph fratres sui dixerunt: ecce somniator ille,” etc.). One who took part in the baptismal controversy in the great Synod of Carthage writes, “secundum motum animi mei et spiritus Sancti.” The enthusiastic element was always evoked with special power in times of persecution, as the genuine African matyrdoms, from the second half of the third century, specially shew. Cf. especially the passio Jacobi, Mariani, etc. But where the enthusiasm was not convenient it was called, as in the case of the Montanists, dæmonic. Even Constantine operated with dreams and visions of Christ (see his Vita). Now it certainly lies in the nature of 54enthusiasm, that it can assume the most diverse forms of expression, and follow very different impulses, and so far it frequently separates instead of uniting. But so long as criticism and reflection are not yet awakened, and a uniform ideal hovers before one, it does unite, and in this sense there existed an identity of disposition between the earliest Jewish Christians and the still enthusiastic Gentile Christian communities.
10. But, finally, there is a still further uniting element between the beginnings of the development to Catholicism, and the original condition of the Christian religion as a movement within Judaism, the importance of which cannot be over-rated, although we have every reason to complain here of the obscurity of the tradition. Between the Græco-Roman world which was in search of a spiritual religion, and the Jewish commonwealth which already possessed such a religion as a national property, though vitiated by exclusiveness, there had long been a Judaism which, penetrated by the Greek spirit, was, ex professo, devoting itself to the task of bringing a new religion to the Greek world, the Jewish religion, but that religion in its kernel Greek, that is, philosophically moulded, spiritualised and secularised. Here then was already consummated an intimate union of the Greek spirit with the Old Testament religion, within the Empire and to a less degree in Palestine itself. If everything is not to be dissolved into a grey mist, we must clearly distinguish this union between Judaism and Hellenism and the spiritualising of religion it produced, from the 55powerful but indeterminable influences which the Greek spirit exercised on all things Jewish, and which have been a historical condition of the Gospel. The alliance, in my opinion, was of no significance at all for the origin of the Gospel, but was of the most decided importance, first, for the propagation of Christianity, and then, for the development of Christianity to Catholicism, and for the genesis of the Catholic doctrine of faith.5555As to the first, the recently discovered “Teaching of the Apostles” in its first moral part, shews a great affinity with the moral philosophy which was set up by Alexandrian Jews and put before the Greek world as that which had been revealed: see Massebieau, L’enseignement des XII. Apôtres. Paris. 1884, and in the Journal “Le Témoignage,” 7 Febr. 1885. Usener, in his Preface to the Ges. Abhandl. Jacob Bernays’, which he edited, 1885, p. v. f., has, independently of Massebieau, pointed out the relationship of chapters 1-5 of the “Teaching of the Apostles” with the Phocylidean poem (see Bernays’ above work, p. 192 ff.). Later Taylor “The teaching of the twelve Apostles,” 1886, threw out the conjecture that the Didache had a Jewish foundation, and I reached the same conclusion independently of him: see my Treatise: Die Apostellehre und die jüdischen beiden Wege, 1886. We cannot certainly name any particular personality who was specially active in this, but we can mention three facts which prove more than individual references. (1) The propaganda of Christianity in the Diaspora followed the Jewish propaganda and partly took its place, that is, the Gospel was at first preached to those Gentiles who were already acquainted with the general outlines of the Jewish religion, and who were even frequently viewed as a Judaism of a second order, in which Jewish and Greek elements had been united in a peculiar mixture. (2) The conception of the Old Testament, as we find it even in the earliest Gentile Christian teachers, the method of spiritualising it, etc., agrees in the most surprising way with the methods which were used by the Alexandrian Jews. (3) There are Christian documents in no small number and of unknown origin, which completely agree in plan, in form and contents with Græco-Jewish writings of the Diaspora, as for example, the Christian Sibylline Oracles, and the pseudo-Justinian treatise, “de Monarchia.” There are numerous tractates of which it is impossible to say with certainty whether they are of Jewish or of Christian origin.56
The Alexandrian and non-Palestinian Judaism is still Judaism. As the Gospel seized and moved the whole of Judaism, it must also have been operative in the non-Palestinian Judaism. But that already foreshadowed the transition of the Gospel to the non-Jewish Greek region, and the fate which it was to experience there. For that non-Palestinian Judaism formed the bridge between the Jewish Church and the Roman Empire, together with its culture.5656It is well known that Judaism at the time of Christ embraced a great many different tendencies. Beside Pharisaic Judaism as the stem proper, there was a motley mass of formations which resulted from the contact of Judaism with foreign ideas, customs and institutions (even with Babylonian and Persian), and which attained importance for the development of the predominant church, as well as for the formation of the so-called gnostic Christian communions. Hellenic elements found their way even into Pharisaic theology. Orthodox Judaism itself has marks which shew that no spiritual movement was able to escape the influence which proceeded from the victory of the Greeks over the east. Besides, who would venture to exhibit definitely the origin and causes of that spiritualising of religions and that limitation of the moral standard of which we can find so many traces in the Alexandrian age? The nations who inhabited the eastern shore of the Mediterranean sea, had from the fourth century B. C., a common history, and therefore had similar convictions. Who can decide what each of them acquired by its own exertions, and what it obtained through interchange of opinions? But in proportion as we see this we must be on our guard against jumbling the phenomena together and effacing them. There is little meaning in calling a thing Hellenic, as that really formed an element in all the phenomena of the age. All our great political and ecclesiastical parties to-day are dependent on the ideas of 1789, and again on romantic ideas. It is just as easy to verify this as it is difficult to determine the measure and the manner of the influence for each group. And yet the understanding of it turns altogether on this point. To call Pharisaism, or the Gospel, or the old Jewish Christianity Hellenic, is not paradox, but confusion. The Gospel passed into the world chiefly by this bridge. Paul indeed had a large share in this, but his own Churches did not understand the way he led them, and were not able on looking back to find it.5757The Acts of the Apostles is in this respect a most instructive book. It, as well as the Gospel of Luke, is a document of Gentile christianity developing itself to Catholicism: Cf. Overbeck in his Commentar z. Apostelgesch. But the comprehensive judgment of Havet (in the work above mentioned, IV. p. 395 is correct. “L’hellénisme tient assez peu de place clans le N. T., du moins l’hellénisme voulu et réfléchi. Ces livres sont écrits en grec et leurs auteurs vivaient en pays grec; il y a donc eu chez eux infiltration des idées et des sentiments helléniques; quelquefois même l’imagination hellénique y a pénétré comme dans le 3 évangile et dans les Actes . . . . Dans son ensemble, le N. T. garde le caractère d’un livre hébraïque Le christianisme ne commence avoir une littérature et des doctrines vraiment helléniques qu’au milieu du second siècle. Mais il y avait un judaïsme, celui d’Alexandrie, qui avait faite alliance avec 1’hellénisme avant même qu’il y eût des chrétiens.” He indeed 57became a Greek to the Greeks, and even began the undertaking of placing the treasures of Greek knowledge at the service of the Gospel. But the knowledge of Christ crucified, to which he subordinated all other knowledge as only of preparatory value, had nothing in common with Greek philosophy, while the idea of justification and the doctrine of the Spirit (Rom. VIII.), which together formed the peculiar contents of his Christianity, were irreconcilable with the moralism and the religious ideals of Hellenism. But the great mass of the earliest Gentile Christians became Christians because they perceived in the Gospel the sure tidings of the benefits and obligations which they had already sought in the fusion of Jewish and Greek elements. It is only by discerning this that we can grasp the preparation and genesis of the Catholic Church and its dogma.
From the foregoing statements it appears that there fall to be considered as presuppositions of the origin of the Catholic Apostolic doctrine of faith, the following topics, though of unequal importance as regards the extent of their influence.
(a). The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
(b). The common preaching of Jesus Christ in the first generation of believers.
(c). The current exposition of the Old Testament, the Jewish speculations and hopes of the future, in their significance for the earliest types of Christian preaching.5858The right of distinguishing (b) and (c) may be contested. But if we surrender this we therewith surrender the right to distinguish kernel and husk in the original proclamation of the Gospel. The dangers to which the attempt is exposed should not frighten us from it, for it has its justification in the fact that the Gospel is neither doctrine nor law.
(d). The religious conceptions, and the religious philosophy of the Hellenistic Jews, in their significance for the later restatement of the Gospel.
(e). The religious dispositions of the Greeks and Romans of the first two centuries, and the current Græco-Roman philosophy of religion.58
§ 2. The Gospel of Jesus Christ according to His own testimony concerning Himself.
I. The Fundamental Features.
The Gospel entered into the world as an apocalyptic eschatological message, apocalyptical and eschatological not only in its form, but also in its contents. But Jesus announced that the kingdom of God had already begun with his own work, and those who received him in faith became sensible of this beginning; for the “apocalyptical” was not merely the unveiling of the future, but above all the revelation of God as the Father, and the “eschatological” received its counterpoise in the view of Jesus’ work as Saviour, in the assurance of being certainly called to the kingdom, and in the conviction that life and future dominion is hid with God the Lord and preserved for believers by him. Consequently, we are following not only the indications of the succeeding history, but also the requirement of the thing itself, when, in the presentation of the Gospel, we place in the foreground, not that which unites it with the contemporary disposition of Judaism, but that which raises it above it. Instead of the hope of inheriting the kingdom, Jesus had also spoken simply of preserving the soul, or the life. In this one substitution lies already a transformation of universal significance, of political religion into a religion that is individual and therefore holy; for the life is nourished by the word of God, but God is the Holy One.
The Gospel is the glad message of the government of the world and of every individual soul by the almighty and holy God, the Father and Judge. In this dominion of God, which frees men from the power of the Devil, makes them rulers in a heavenly kingdom in contrast with the kingdoms of the world, and which will also be sensibly realised in the future on just about to appear, is secured life for all men who yield themselves to God, although they should lose the world and the earthly life. That is, the soul which is pure and holy in connection with God, and in imitation of the Divine 59perfection is eternally preserved with God, while those who would gain the world and preserve their life, fall into the hands of the Judge who sentences them to Hell. This dominion of God imposes on men a law, an old and yet a new law, viz., that of the Divine perfection and therefore of undivided love to God and to our neighbour. In this love, where it sways the inmost feeling, is presented the better righteousness (better not only with respect to the Scribes and Pharisees, but also with respect to Moses, see Matt. V.), which corresponds to the perfection of God. The way to attain it is a change of mind, that is, self-denial, humility before God, and heartfelt trust in him. In this humility and trust in God there is contained a recognition of one’s own unworthiness; but the Gospel calls to the kingdom of God those very sinners who are thus minded, by promising the forgiveness of the sins which hitherto have separated them from God. But the Gospel which appears in these three elements, the dominion of God, a better righteousness embodied in the law of love, and the forgiveness of sin, is inseparably connected with Jesus Christ; for in preaching this Gospel Jesus Christ everywhere calls men to himself. In him the Gospel is word and deed; it has become his food, and therefore his personal life, and into this life of his he draws all others. He is the Son who knows the Father. In him men are to perceive the kindness of the Lord; in him they are to feel God’s power and government of the world, and to become certain of this consolation; they are to follow him the meek and lowly, and while he, the pure and holy one, calls sinners to himself, they are to receive the assurance that God through him forgiveth sin.
Jesus Christ has by no express statement thrust this connection of his Gospel with his Person into the foreground. No words could have certified it unless his life, the overpowering impression of his Person, had created it. By living, acting and speaking from the riches of that life which he lived with his Father, he became for others the revelation of the God of whom they formerly had heard, but whom they had not known. He declared his Father to be their Father and they understood him. But he also declared himself to be 60Messiah, and in so doing gave an intelligible expression to his abiding significance for them and for his people. In a solemn hour at the close of his life, as well as on special occasions at an earlier period, he referred to the fact that the surrender to his Person which induced them to leave all and follow him, was no passing element in the new position they had gained towards God the Father. He tells them, on the contrary, that this surrender corresponds to the service which he will perform for them and for the many, when he will give his life a sacrifice for the sins of the world. By teaching them to think of him and of his death in the breaking of bread and the drinking of wine, and by saying of his death that it takes place for the remission of sins, he has claimed as his due from all future disciples what was a matter of course so long as he sojourned with them, but what might fade away after he was parted from them. He who in his preaching of the kingdom of God raised the strictest self-examination and humility to a law, and exhibited them to his followers in his own life, has described with clear consciousness his life crowned by death as the imperishable service by which men in all ages will be cleansed from their sin and made joyful in their God. By so doing he put himself far above all others, although they were to become his brethren; and claimed a unique and permanent importance as Redeemer and Judge. This permanent importance as the Lord he secured, not by disclosures about the mystery of his Person, but by the impression of his life and the interpretation of his death. He interprets it, like all his sufferings, as a victory, as the passing over to his glory, and in spite of the cry of God-forsakenness upon the cross, he has proved himself able to awaken in his followers the real conviction that he lives and is Lord and Judge of the living and the dead.
The religion of the Gospel is based on this belief in Jesus Christ, that is, by looking to him, this historical person, it becomes certain to the believer that God rules heaven and earth, and that God, the Judge, is also Father and Redeemer. The religion of the Gospel is the religion which makes the highest moral demands, the simplest and the most difficult, 61and discloses the contradiction in which every man finds himself towards them. But it also procures redemption from such misery, by drawing the life of men into the inexhaustible and blessed life of Jesus Christ, who has overcome the world and called sinners to himself.
In making this attempt to put together the fundamental features of the Gospel, I have allowed myself to be guided by the results of this Gospel in the case of the first disciples. I do not know whether it is permissible to present such fundamental features apart from this guidance. The preaching of Jesus Christ was in the main so plain and simple, and in its application so manifold and rich, that one shrinks from attempting to systematise it, and would much rather merely narrate according to the Gospel. Jesus searches for the point in every man on which he can lay hold of him and lead him to the Kingdom of God. The distinction of good and evil—for God or against God—he would make a life question for every man, in order to shew him for whom it has become this, that he can depend upon the God whom he is to fear. At the same time he did not by any means uniformly fall back upon sin, or even the universal sinfulness, but laid hold of individuals very diversely, and led them to God by different paths. The doctrinal concentration of redemption on sin was certainly not carried out by Paul alone; but, on the other hand, it did not in any way become the prevailing form for the preaching of the Gospel. On the contrary, the antitheses, night, error, dominion of demons, death and light, truth, deliverance, life, proved more telling in the Gentile Churches. The consciousness of universal sinfulness was first made the negative fundamental frame of mind of Christendom by Augustine.
1. Jesus announced the Kingdom of God which stands in opposition to the kingdom of the devil, and therefore also to the kingdom of the world, as a future Kingdom, and yet it is presented in his preaching as present; as an invisible, 62and yet it was visible—for one actually saw it. He lived and spoke within the circle of eschatological ideas which Judaism had developed more than two hundred years before: but he controlled them by giving them a new content and forcing them into a new direction. Without abrogating the law and the prophets he, on fitting occasions, broke through the national, political and sensuous eudæmonistic forms in which the nation was expecting the realisation of the dominion of God, but turned their attention at the same time to a future near at hand, in which believers would be delivered from the oppression of evil and sin, and would enjoy blessedness and dominion. Yet he declared that even now, every individual who is called into the kingdom may call on God as his Father, and be sure of the gracious will of God, the hearing of his prayers, the forgiveness of sin. and the protection of God even in this present life.5959Therewith are, doubtless, heavenly blessings bestowed in the present. Historical investigation has, notwithstanding, every reason for closely examining, whether, and in how far, we may speak of a present for the Kingdom of God, in the sense of Jesus. But even if the question had to be answered in the negative, it would make little or no difference for the correct understanding of Jesus’ preaching. The Gospel viewed in its kernel is independent of this question. It deals with the inner constitution and mood of the soul. But everything in this proclamation is directed to the life beyond: the certainty of that life is the power and earnestness of the Gospel.
2. The conditions of entrance to the kingdom are, in the first place, a complete change of mind, in which a man renounces the pleasures of this world, denies himself, and is ready to surrender all that he has in order to save his soul; then, a believing trust in God’s grace which he grants to the humble and the poor, and therefore hearty confidence in Jesus as the Messiah chosen and called by God to realise his kingdom on the earth. The announcement is therefore directed to the poor, the suffering, those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, not to those who live, but to those who wish to be healed and redeemed, and finds them prepared for entrance into, and reception of the blessings of the kingdom of 63God,6060The question whether, and in what degree, a man of himself can earn righteousness before God is one of those theoretic questions to which Jesus gave no answer. He fixed his attention on all the gradations of the moral and religious conduct of his countrymen as they were immediately presented to him, and found some prepared for entrance into the kingdom of God, not by a technical mode of outward preparation, but by hungering and thirsting for it, and at the same time unselfishly serving their brethren. Humility and love unfeigned were always the decisive marks of these prepared ones. They are to be satisfied with righteousness before God, that is, are to receive the blessed feeling that God is gracious to them as sinners, and accepts them as his children. Jesus, however, allows the popular distinction of sinners and righteous to remain, but exhibits its perverseness by calling sinners to himself, and by describing the opposition of the righteous to his Gospel as a mark of their godlessness and hardness of heart. while it brings down upon the self-satisfied, the rich and those proud of their righteousness, the judgment of obduracy and the damnation of Hell.
3. The commandment of undivided love to God and the brethren, as the main commandment, in the observance of which righteousness is realised, and forming the antithesis to the selfish mind, the lust of the world, and every arbitrary impulse,6161The blessings of the kingdom were frequently represented by Jesus as a reward for work done. But this popular view is again broken through by reference to the fact that all reward is the gift of God’s free grace. corresponds to the blessings of the Kingdom of God, viz., forgiveness of sin, righteousness, dominion and blessedness. The standard of personal worth for the members of the Kingdom is self-sacrificing labour for others, not any technical mode of worship or legal preciseness. Renunciation of the world together with its goods, even of life itself in certain circumstances, is the proof of a man’s sincerity and earnestness in seeking the Kingdom of God; and the meekness. which renounces every right, bears wrong patiently, requiting it with kindness, is the practical proof of love to God, the conduct that answers to God’s perfection.
4. In the proclamation and founding of this kingdom, Jesus summoned men to attach themselves to him, because he had recognised himself to be the helper called by God, and therefore also the Messiah who was promised.6262Some Critics—most recently Havet, Le Christianisme et ses origines, 1884. T. IV. p. 15 ff.—have called in question the fact that Jesus called himself Messiah. But this article of the Evangelic tradition seems to me to stand the test of the most minute investigation. But, in the case of Jesus, the consciousness of being the Messiah undoubtedly rested on the certainty of being the Son of God, therefore of knowing the Father and being constrained to proclaim that knowledge. He gradually declared 64himself to the people as such by the names he assumed,6363We can gather with certainty from the Gospels that Jesus did not enter on his work with the announcement: Believe in me for I am the Messiah. On the contrary, he connected his work with the baptising movement of John, but carried that movement further, and thereby made the Baptist his forerunner (Mark I. 15: πεπλήρωται ὁ καιρὸς καὶ ἤγγικεν ἤ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ· μετανοεῖτε καὶ πιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίω). He was in no hurry to urge anything that went beyond that message, but gradually prepared, and cautiously required of his followers an advance beyond it. The goal to which he led them was to believe in him as Messiah without putting the usual political construction on the Messianic ideal. for the names “Anointed,” “King,” “Lord,” “Son of David,” “Son of Man,” “Son of God,” all denote the Messianic office, and were familiar to the greater part of the people.6464Even “Son of Man” probably means Messiah: we do not know whether Jesus had any special reason for favouring this designation which springs from Dan. VII. The objection to interpreting the word as Messiah really resolves itself into this, that the disciples (according to the Gospels) did not at once recognise him as Messiah. But that is explained by the contrast of his own peculiar idea of Messiah with the popular idea. The confession of him as Messiah was the keystone of their confidence in him, inasmuch as by that confession they separated themselves from old ideas. But though, at first, they express only the call, office, and power of the Messiah, yet by means of them and especially by the designation Son of God, Jesus pointed to a relation to God the Father, then and in its immediateness unique, as the basis of the office with which he was entrusted. He has, however, given no further explanation of the mystery of this relation than the declaration that the Son alone knoweth the Father, and that this knowledge of God and Sonship to God are secured for all others by the sending of the Son.6565The distinction between the Father and the Son stands out just as plainly in the sayings of Jesus, as the complete obedient subordination of the Son to the Father. Even according to John’s Gospel, Jesus finishes the work which the Father has given him, and is obedient in everything even unto death. He declares Mat. XIX. 17: εἱ̂ς ἐστιν ὁ ἀγαθός. Special notice should be given to Mark XIII. 32, (Matt. XXIV, 36). Behind the only manifested life of Jesus, later speculation has put a life in which he wrought, not in subordination and obedience, but in like independence and dignity with God. That goes beyond the utterances of Jesus even in the fourth Gospel. But it is no advance beyond these, especially in the religious view and speech of the time, when it is announced that the relation of the Father to the Son lies beyond time. It is not even improbable that the sayings in the fourth Gospel referring to this, have a basis in the preaching of Jesus himself. In the 65proclamation of God as Father,6666Paul knew that the designation of God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was the new Evangelic confession. Origen was the first among the Fathers (though before him Marcion) to recognise that the decisive advance beyond the Old Testament stage of religion, was given in the preaching of God as Father; see the exposition of the Lord’s Prayer in his treatise De oratione. No doubt the Old Testament, and the later Judaism knew the designation of God as Father; but it applied it to the Jewish nation, it did not attach the evangelic meaning to the name, and it did not allow itself in any way to be guided in its religion by this idea. as well as in the other proclamation that all the members of the kingdom following the will of God in love, are to become one with the Son and through him with the Father,6767See the farewell discourses in John, the fundamental ideas of which are, in my opinion, genuine, that is, proceed from Jesus. the message of the realised kingdom of God receives its richest, inexhaustible content: the Son of the Father will be the first-born among many brethren.
5. Jesus as the Messiah chosen by God has definitely distinguished himself from Moses and all the Prophets: as his preaching and his work are the fulfilment of the law and the prophets, so he himself is not a disciple of Moses, but corrects that law-giver; he is not a Prophet, but Master and Lord. He proves this Lordship during his earthly ministry in the accomplishment of the mighty deeds given him to do, above all in withstanding the Devil and his kingdom,6868The historian cannot regard a miracle as a sure given historical event: for in doing so he destroys the mode of consideration on which all historical investigation rests. Every individual miracle remains historically quite doubtful, and a summation of things doubtful never leads to certainty. But should the historian, notwithstanding, be convinced that Jesus Christ did extraordinary things, in the strict sense miraculous things, then, from the unique impression he has obtained of this person, he infers the possession by him of supernatural power. This conclusion itself belongs to the province of religious faith: though there has seldom been a strong faith which would not have drawn it. Moreover, the healing miracles of Jesus are the only ones that come into consideration in a strict historical examination. These certainly cannot be eliminated from the historical accounts without utterly destroying them. But how unfit are they of themselves, after 1800 years, to secure any special importance to him to whom they are attributed, unless that importance was already established apart from them. That he could do with him-self what he would, that he created a new thing without overturning the old, that he won men to himself by announcing the Father, that he inspired without fanaticism, set up a kingdom without politics, set men free from the world without asceticism, was a teacher without theology, at a time of fanaticism and politics, asceticism and theology, is the great miracle of his person, and that he who preached the Sermon on the Mount declared himself in respect of his life and death, to be the Redeemer and Judge of the world, is the offence and foolishness which mock all reason. and—according 66to the law of the Kingdom of God—for that very reason in the service which he performs. In this service Jesus also reckoned the sacrifice of his life, designating it as a “λύτρν” which he offered for the redemption of man.6969See Mark X. 45—That Jesus at the celebration of the first Lord’s supper described his death as a sacrifice which he should offer for the forgiveness of sin, is clear from the account of Paul. From that account it appears to be certain that Jesus gave expression to the idea of the necessity and saving significance of his death for the forgiveness of sins, in a symbolical ordinance (based on the conclusion of the covenant, Exod. XXIV. 3 ff., perhaps, as Paul presupposes, on the Passover), in order that his disciples by repeating it in accordance with the will of Jesus, might be the more deeply impressed by it. Certain observations based on John VI., on the supper prayer in the Didache, nay, even on the report of Mark, and supported at the same time by features of the earliest practice in which it had the character of a real meal, and the earliest theory of the supper, which viewed it as a communication of eternal life and an anticipation of the future existence, have for years made me doubt very much whether the Pauline account and the Pauline conception of it, were really either the oldest, or the universal and therefore only one. I have been strengthened in this suspicion by the profound and remarkable investigation of Spitta (z. Gesch. u. Litt. d. Urchristenthums: Die urchristl. Traditionen ü. den Urspr. u. Sinnd. Abendmahls, 1893). He sees in the supper as not instituted, but celebrated by Jesus, the festival of the Messianic meal, the anticipated triumph over death, the expression of the perfection of the Messianic work, the symbolic representation of the filling of believers with the powers of the Messianic kingdom and life. The reference to the Passover and the death of Christ was attached to it later, though it is true very soon. How much is thereby explained that was hitherto obscure—critical, historical, and dogmatico-historical questions—cannot at all be stated briefly. And yet I hesitate to give a full recognition to Spitta’s exposition: the words I. Cor. XI. 23: ἐγὼ γὰρ παρέλαβον ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου, ὃ καὶ παρέδωκα ὑμῖν κ.τ.λ., are too strong for me. Cf. besides, Weizsäcker’s investigation in “The Apostolic Age.” Lobstein, La doctrine de la s. cène, 1889. A. Harnack i. d. Texten u. Unters. VII. 2 p. 139 if. Schürer, Theol. Lit. Ztg. 1891, p. 29 if. Jülicher Abhandl. f. Weizsäker, 1892, p. 215 ff. But he declared at the same time that his Messianic work was not yet fulfilled in his subjection to death. On the contrary, the close is merely initiated by his death; for the completion of the kingdom will only appear when he returns in glory in the clouds of heaven to judgment. Jesus seems to have announced this speedy return a short time before his death, and to have comforted his disciples at his departure, with the assurance 67that he would immediately enter into a supramundane position with God.7070With regard to the eschatology, no one can say in detail what proceeds from Jesus, and what from the disciples. What has been said in the text does not claim to be certain, but only probable. The most important, and at the same time the most certain point, is that Jesus made the definitive fate of the individual depend on faith, humility and love. There are no passages in the Gospel which conflict with the impression that Jesus reserved day and hour to God, and wrought in faith and patience as long as for him it was day.
6. The instructions of Jesus to his disciples are accordingly dominated by the thought that the end,—the day and hour of which, however, no one knows,—is at hand. In consequence of this, also, the exhortation to renounce all earthly good takes a prominent place. But Jesus does not impose ascetic commandments as a new law, far less does he see in asceticism, as such, sanctification7171He did not impose on every one, or desire from every one even the outward following of himself: see Mark V. 18-19. The “imitation of Jesus,” in the strict sense of the word, did not play any noteworthy role either in the Apostolic or in the old Catholic period.—he himself did not live as an ascetic, but was reproached as a wine-bibber—but he prescribed a perfect simplicity and purity of disposition, and a singleness of heart which remains invariably the same in trouble and renunciation, in possession and use of earthly good. A uniform equality of all in the conduct of life is not commanded: “To whom much is given, of him much shall be required.” The disciples are kept as far from fanaticism and overrating of spiritual results as from asceticism. “Rejoice not that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” When they besought him to teach them to pray, he taught them the “Lord’s prayer”, a prayer which demands such a collected mind, and such a tranquil, childlike elevation of the heart to God, that it cannot be offered at all by minds subject to passion or preoccupied by any daily cares.
7. Jesus himself did not found a new religious community, but gathered round him a circle of disciples, and chose Apostles whom he commanded to preach the Gospel. His preaching was universalistic inasmuch as it attributed no value to ceremonialism as such, and placed the fulfilment of the Mosaic 68law in the exhibition of its moral contents, partly against or beyond the letter. He made the law perfect by harmonising its particular requirements with the fundamental moral requirements which were also expressed in the Mosaic law. He emphasised the fundamental requirements more decidedly than was done by the law itself, and taught that all details should be referred to them and deduced from them. The external righteousness of Pharisaism was thereby declared to be not only an outer covering, but also a fraud, and the bond which still united religion and nationality in Judaism was sundered.7272It is asserted by well-informed investigators, and may be inferred from the Gospels (Mark XII. 32–34; Luke X. 27, 28), perhaps also from the Jewish original of the Didache, that some representatives of Pharisaism, beside the pedantic treatment of the law, attempted to concentrate it on the fundamental moral commandments. Consequently, in Palestinian and Alexandrian Judaism at the time of Christ, in virtue of the prophetic word and the Thora, influenced also, perhaps, by the Greek spirit which everywhere gave the stimulus to inwardness, the path was indicated in which the future development of religion was to follow. Jesus entered fully into the view of the law thus attempted, which comprehended it as a whole and traced it back to the disposition. But he freed it from the contradiction that adhered to it, (because, in spite of and alongside the tendency to a deeper perception, men still persisted in deducing righteousness from a punctilious observance of numerous particular commandments, because in so doing they became self-satisfied, that is, irreligious, and because in belonging to Abraham, they thought they had a claim of right on God). For all that, so far as a historical understanding of the activity of Jesus is at all possible, it is to be obtained from the soil of Pharisaism, as the Pharisees were those who cherished and developed the Messianic expectations, and because, along with their care for the Thora, they sought also to preserve, in their own way, the prophetic inheritance. If everything does not deceive us, there were already contained in the Pharisaic theology of the age, speculations which were fitted to modify considerably the narrow view of history, and to prepare for universalism. The very men who tithed mint, anise and cummin, who kept their cups and dishes outwardly clean, who, hedging round the Thora, attempted to hedge round the people, spoke also of the sum total of the law. They made room in their theology for new ideas which are partly to be described as advances, and on the other hand, they have already pondered the question even in relation to the law, whether submission to its main contents was not sufficient for being numbered among the people of the covenant (see Renan: Paul). In particular the whole sacrificial system, which Jesus also essentially ignored, was therewith thrust into the background. Baldensperger (Selbstbewusstsein Jesu. p. 46) justly says, “There lie before us definite marks that the certainty of the nearness of God in the Temple (from the time of the Maccabees) begins to waver, and the efficacy of the temple institutions to be called in question. Its recent desecration by the Romans, appears to the author of the Psalms of Solomon (II. 2) as a kind of Divine requital for the sons of Israel themselves having been guilty of so grossly profaning the sacrificial gifts. Enoch calls the shewbread of the second Temple polluted and unclean . . . There had crept in among the pious a feeling of the insufficiency of their worship, and from this side the Essenic schism will certainly represent only the open outbreak of a disease which had already begun to gnaw secretly at the religious life of the nation”: see here the excellent explanations of the origin of Essenism in Lucius (Essenism, 75 ff. 509 ff.). The spread of Judaism in the world, the secularization and apostacy of the priestly caste, the desecration of the Temple, the building of the Temple at Leontopolis, the perception brought about by the spiritualising of religion in the empire of Alexander the Great, that no blood of beasts can be a means of reconciling God—all these circumstances must have been absolutely dangerous and fatal, both to the local centralisation of worship, and to the statutory sacrificial system. The proclamation of Jesus (and of Stephen) as to the overthrow of the Temple, is therefore no absolutely new thing, nor is the fact that Judaism fell back upon the law and the Messianic hope, a mere result of the destruction of the Temple. This change was rather prepared by the inner development. Whatever point in the preaching of Jesus we may fix on, we shall find, that—apart from the writings of the Prophets and the Psalms, which originated in the Greek Maccabean periods—parallels can be found only in Pharisaism, but at the same time that the sharpest contrasts must issue from it. Talmudic Judaism is not in every respect the genuine continuance of Pharisaic Judaism, but a product of the decay which attests that the rejection of Jesus by the spiritual leaders of the people had deprived the nation and even the Virtuosi of Religion of their best part: (see for this the expositions of Kuenen “Judaismus und Christenthum,” in his (Hibbert) lectures on national religions and world religions). The ever recurring attempts to deduce the origin of Christianity from Hellenism, or even from the Roman Greek culture, are there also rightly, briefly and tersely rejected. Also the hypotheses, which either entirely eliminate the person of Jesus or make him an Essene, or subordinate him to the person of Paul, may be regarded as definitively settled. Those who think they can ascertain the origin of Christian religion from the origin of Christian Theology will indeed always think of Hellenism: Paul will eclipse the person of Jesus with those who believe that a religion for the world must be born with a universalistic doctrine. Finally, Essenism will continue in authority with those who see in the position of indifference which Jesus took to the Temple worship, the main thing, and who, besides, create for themselves an “Essenism of their own finding.” Hellenism, and also Essenism, can of course indicate to the historian some of the conditions by which the appearance of Jesus was prepared and rendered possible; but they explain only the possibility, not the reality of the appearance. But this with its historically not deducible power is the decisive thing. If some one has recently said that “the historical speciality of the person of Jesus” is not the main thing in Christianity; he has thereby betrayed that he does not know how a religion that is worthy of the name is founded, propagated, and maintained. For the latest attempt to put the Gospel in a historical connection with Buddhism (Seydel. Das Ev. von Jesus in seinem Verhältnissen zur Buddha-Sage, 1882: likewise, Die Buddha-Legende und das Leben Jesu, 1884), see, Oldenburg, Theol. Lit.-Ztg. 1882, Col. 415 f.; 1884, 185 f. However much necessarily remains obscure to us in the ministry of Jesus when we seek to place it in a historical connection, what is known is sufficient to confirm the judgment that his preaching developed a germ in the religion of Israel (see the Psalms) which was finally guarded and in many respects developed by the Pharisees, but which languished and died under their guardianship. The power of development which Jesus imported to it was not a power which he himself had to borrow from without; but doctrine and speculation were as far from him as ecstasy and visions. On the other hand, we must remember we do not know the history of Jesus up to his public entrance on his ministry, and that therefore we do not know whether in his native province he had any connection with Greeks. Political and national elements may probably have 69been made prominent in the hopes of the future, as Jesus appropriated them for his preaching. But from the conditions to which the realising of the hopes for the individual was attached, there already shone the clearer ray which was to eclipse those elements, and one saying such as Matt. XXII. 31., annulled at once political religion and religious politics.70
Supplement 1.—The idea of the inestimable inherent value of every individual human soul, already dimly appearing in several psalms, and discerned by Greek Philosophers, though as a rule developed in contradiction to religion, stands out plainly in the preaching of Jesus. It is united with the idea of God as Father, and is the complement to the message of the communion of brethren realising itself in love. In this sense the Gospel is at once profoundly individualistic and Socialistic. The prospect of gaining life, and preserving it for ever, is therefore also the highest which Jesus has set forth; it is not, however, to be a motive, but a reward of grace. In the certainty of this prospect, which is the converse of renouncing the world, he has proclaimed the sure hope of the resurrection, and consequently the most abundant compensation for the loss of the natural life. Jesus put an end to the vacillation and uncertainty which in this respect still prevailed among the Jewish people of his day. The confession of the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon the earth that I desire beside thee”, and the fulfilling of the Old Testament commandment, “Love thy neighbour as thyself”, were for the first time presented in their connection in the person of Jesus. He himself therefore is Christianity, for the “impression of his person convinced the disciples of the facts of forgiveness of sin and the second 71birth, and gave them courage to believe in and to lead a new life”. We cannot therefore state the “doctrine” of Jesus; for it appears as a supramundane life which must be felt in the person of Jesus, and its truth is guaranteed by the fact that such a life can be lived.
Supplement 2.—The history of the Gospel contains two great transitions, both of which, however, fall within the first century; from Christ to the first generation of believers, including Paul, and from the first, Jewish Christian, generation of these believers to the Gentile Christians; in other words, from Christ to the brotherhood of believers in Christ, and from this to the incipient Catholic Church. No later transitions in the Church can be compared with these in importance. As to the first, the question has frequently been asked, Is the Gospel of Christ to be the authority or the Gospel concerning Christ? But the strict dilemma here is false. The Gospel certainly is the Gospel of Christ. For it has only, in the sense of Jesus, fulfilled its Mission when the Father has been declared to men as he was known by the Son, and where the life is swayed by the realities and principles which ruled the life of Jesus Christ. But it is in accordance with the mind of Jesus and at the same time a fact of history, that this Gospel can only be appropriated and adhered to in connection with a believing surrender to the person of Jesus Christ. Yet every dogmatic formula is suspicious, be-cause it is fitted to wound the spirit of religion; it should not at least be put before the living experience in order to evoke it; for such a procedure is really the admission of the half belief which thinks it necessary that the impression made by the person must be supplemented. The essence of the matter is a personal life which awakens life around it as the fire of one torch kindles another. Early as weakness of faith is in the Church of Christ, it is no earlier than the procedure of making a formulated and ostensibly proved confession the foundation of faith, and therefore demanding, above all, subjection to this confession. Faith assuredly is propagated by the testimony of faith, but dogma is not in itself that testimony.
The peculiar character of the Christian religion is conditioned 72by the fact that every reference to God is at the same time a reference to Jesus Christ, and vice versa. In this sense the Person of Christ is the central point of the religion, and inseparably united with the substance of piety as a sure reliance on God. Such a union does not, as is supposed, bring a foreign element into the pure essence of religion. The pure essence of religion rather demands such a union; for “the reverence for persons, the inner bowing before the manifestation of moral power and goodness is the root of all true religion” (W. Herrmann). But the Christian religion knows and names only one name before which it bows. In this rests its positive character, in all else, as piety, it is by its strictly spiritual and inward attitude, not a positive religion alongside of others, but religion itself. But just because the Person of Christ has this significance is the knowledge and understanding of the “historical Christ” required: for no other comes within the sphere of our knowledge. “The historical Christ” that, to be sure, is not the powerless Christ of contemporary history shewn to us through a coloured biographical medium, or dissipated in all sorts of controversies, but Christ as a power and as a life which towers above our own life, and enters into our life as God's Spirit and God's Word, (see Herrmann, Der Verkehr des Christen mit Gott. 2. Edit. 1892, [i. e., “The Fellowship of the Christian with God”, an important work included in the present series of translations. Ed.]: Kähler, Der sog. historische Jesus und der geschichtliche biblische Christus, 1892). But historical labour and investigation are needed in order to grasp this Jesus Christ ever more firmly and surely.
As to the second transition, it brought with it the most important changes, which, however, became clearly manifest only after the lapse of some generations. They appear, first, in the belief in holy consecrations, efficacious in themselves, and administered by chosen persons; further, in the conviction, that the relation of the individual to God and Christ is, above all, conditioned on the acceptance of a definite divinely attested law of faith and holy writings; further, in the opinion that God has established Church arrangements, observance of which 73is necessary and meritorious, as well as in the opinion that a visible earthly community is the people of a new covenant. These assumptions, which formally constitute the essence of Catholicism as a religion, have no support in the teaching of Jesus, nay, offend against that teaching.
Supplement 3.—The question as to what new thing Christ has brought, answered by Paul in the words, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new”, has again and again been pointedly put since the middle of the second century by Apologists, Theologians and religious Philosophers within and without the Church, and has received the most varied answers. Few of the answers have reached the height of the Pauline confession. But where one cannot attain to this confession, one ought to make clear to oneself that every answer which does not lie in the line of it is altogether unsatisfactory; for it is not difficult to set over against every article from the preaching of Jesus an observation which deprives it of its originality. It is the Person, it is the fact of his life that is new and creates the new. The way in which he called forth and established a people of God on earth, which has become sure of God and of eternal life; the way in which he set up a new thing in the midst of the old and transformed the religion of Israel into the religion: that is the mystery of his Person, in which lies his unique and permanent position in the history of humanity.
Supplement 4.—The conservative position of Jesus towards the religious traditions of his people had the necessary result that his preaching and his Person were placed by believers in the frame-work of this tradition, which was thereby very soon greatly expanded. But, though this way of understanding the Gospel was certainly at first the only possible way, and though the Gospel itself could only be preserved by such means (see § 1), yet it cannot be mistaken that a displacement in the conception of the Person and preaching of Jesus, and a burdening of religious faith, could not but forthwith set in, from which developments followed, the premises of which would be vainly sought for in the words of the Lord (see 74§§ § 3, 4). But here the question arises as to whether the Gospel is not inseparably connected with the eschatological world-renouncing element with which it entered into the world, so that its being is destroyed where this is omitted. A few words may be devoted to this question. The Gospel possesses properties which oppose every positive religion, because they depreciate it, and these properties form the kernel of the Gospel. The disposition which is devoted to God, humble, ardent and sincere in its love to God and to the brethren, is as an abiding habit, law, and at the same time a gift of the Gospel, and also finally exhausts it. This quiet, peaceful element was at the beginning strong and vigorous, even in those who lived in the world of ecstasy and expected the world to come. One may be named for all, Paul. He who wrote I. Cor. XIII. and Rom. VIII. should not, in spite of all that he has said elsewhere, be called upon to witness that the nature of the Gospel is exhausted in its world-renouncing, ecstatic and eschatological elements, or at least that it is so inseparable united with these as to fall along with them. He who wrote those chapters, and the greater than he who promised the kingdom of heaven to children and to those who were hungering and thirsting for righteousness, he to whom tradition ascribes the words: “Rejoice not that the spirits are subject to you. but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven”—both attest that the Gospel lies above the antagonisms between this world and the next, work and retirement from the world, reason and ecstasy, Judaism and Hellenism. And because it lies above them it may be united with either, as it originally unfolded its powers under the ruins of the Jewish religion. But still more; it not only can enter into union with them, it must do so if it is other-wise the religion of the living and is itself living. It has only one aim; that man may find God and have him as his own God, in order to gain in him humility and patience, peace, joy and love. How it reaches this goal through the advancing centuries, whether with the co-efficients of Judaism or Hellenism, of renunciation of the world or of culture, of mysticism or the doctrine of predestination, of Gnosticism or 75Agnosticism, and whatever other incrustations there may yet be which can defend the kernel, and under which alone living elements can grow—all that belongs to the centuries. However each individual Christian may reckon to the treasure itself the earthly vessel in which he hides his treasure; it is the duty and the right, not only of the religious, but also of the historical estimate to distinguish between the vessel and the treasure; for the Gospel did not enter into the world as a positive statutory religion, and cannot therefore have its classic manifestation in any form of its intellectual or social types, not even in the first. It is therefore the duty of the historian of the first century of the Church, as well as that of those which follow, not to be content with fixing the changes of the Christian religion, but to examine how far the new forms were capable of defending, propagating and impressing the Gospel itself. It would probably have perished if the forms of primitive Christianity had been scrupulously maintained in the Church; but now primitive Christianity has perished in order that the Gospel might be preserved. To study this progress of the development, and fix the significance of the newly received forms for the kernel of the matter, is the last and highest task of the historian who himself lives in his subject. He who approaches from without must be satisfied with the general view that in the history of the Church some things have always remained, and other things have always been changing.
Literature.—Weiss. Biblical Theology of the New Testament. T. and T. Clark. Wittichen. Beitr. z. bibl. Theol. 3. Thle. 1864-72.
Schurer. Die Predigt Jesu in ihrem Verhaltniss z. A. T. u z. Judenthum, 1882.
Wellhausen. Abriss der Gesch. Israels u. Juda's (Skizzen u. Vorarbeiten) 1. Heft. 1884.
Baldensperger. Das Selbstbewusstsein Jesu im Licht der Messianischen Hoffnungen seiner Zeit, 1888, (2 Aufl. 1891). The prize essays of Schmoller and Issel, Ueber die Lehre vom Reiche Gottes irn N. Test. 1891 (besides Gunkel in d. Theol. Lit. Ztg. 1893. No. 2).76
Wendt. Die Lehre Jesu. (The teaching of Jesus. T. and T. Clark. English translation.)
Job. Weiss. Die Predigt Jesu vom Reiche Gottes, 1892.
Bousset. Jesu Predigt in ihrem Gegensatz zum Judenthum, 1892.
C. Holtzman. Die Offenbarung durch Christus und das Neue Testament (Zeitschr. f. Theol. und Kirche I. p. 367 ff.) The special literature in the above work of Weiss, and in the recent works on the life of Jesus, and the Biblical Theology of the New Testament by Beyschlag. [T. T. Clark]
§ 3. The Common Preaching concerning Jesus Christ in the First Generation of Believers.
Men had met with Jesus Christ and in him had found the Messiah. They were convinced that God had made him to be wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. There was no hope that did not seem to be certified in him, no lofty idea which had not become in him a living reality. Everything that one possessed was offered to him. He was everything lofty that could be imagined. Everything that can be said of him was already said in the first two generations after his appearance. Nay, more: he was felt and known to be the ever living one Lord of the world and operative principle of one's own life. “To me to live is Christ and to die is gain;” “He is the way, the truth and the life.” One could now for the first time be certain of the resurrection and eternal life, and with that certainty the sorrows of the world melted away like mist before the sun, and the residue of this present time became as a day. This group of facts which the history of the Gospel discloses in the world, is at the same time the highest and most unique of all that we meet in that history: it is its seal and distinguishes it from all other universal religions. Where in the history of mankind can we find anything resembling this, that men who had eaten and drunk with their Master should glorify him, not only as the revealer of God, but as the Prince of life, as the Redeemer and Judge of the world, as the living power of its existence, and that a choir of Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and Barbarians, wise and foolish, 77should along with them immediately confess that out of the fulness of this one man they have received grace for grace? It has been said that Islam furnishes the unique example of a religion born in broad daylight, but the community of Jesus was also born in the clear light of day. The darkness connected with its birth is occasioned not only by the imperfection of the records, but by the uniqueness of the fact, which refers us back to the uniqueness of the Person of Jesus.
But though it certainly is the first duty of the historian to signalise the overpowering impression made by the Person of Jesus on the disciples, which is the basis of all further developments, it would little become him to renounce the critical examination of all the utterances which have been connected with that Person with the view of elucidating and glorifying it; unless he were with Origen to conclude that Jesus was to each and all whatever they fancied him to be for their edification. But this would destroy the personality. Others are of opinion that we should conceive him, in the sense of the early communities, as the second God who is one in essence with the Father, in order to understand from this point of view all the declarations and judgments of these communities. But this hypothesis leads to the most violent distortion of the original declarations, and the suppression or concealment of their most obvious features. The duty of the historian rather consists in fixing the common features of the faith of the first two generations, in explaining them as far as possible from the belief that Jesus is Messiah, and in seeking analogies for the several assertions. Only a very meagre sketch can be given in what follows. The presentation of the matter in the frame-work of the history of dogma does not permit of more, because as noted above, § 1, the presupposition of dogma forming itself in the Gentile Church is not the whole infinitely rich abundance of early Christian views and perceptions. That presupposition is simply a proclamation of the one God and of Christ transferred to Greek soil, fixed merely in its leading features and otherwise very plastic, accompanied by a message regarding the future, and demands for a holy life. At the 78same time the Old Testament and the early Christian Palestinian writings with the rich abundance of their contents, did certainly exercise a silent mission in the earliest communities, till by the creation of the canon they became a power in the Church.
1. The contents of the faith of the disciples,7373See the brilliant investigations of Weizsäcker (Apost. Zeitalter. p. 36) as to the earliest significant names, self-designations, of the disciples. The twelve were in the first place “μαθηταί” (disciples and family-circle of Jesus, see also the significance of James and the brethren of Jesus), then witnesses of the resurrection and therefore Apostles; very soon there appeared beside them, even in Jerusalem, Prophets and Teachers. and the common proclamation which united them, may be comprised in the following propositions. Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah promised by the prophets. Jesus after his death is by the Divine awakening raised to the right hand of God, and will soon return to set up his kingdom visibly upon the earth. He who believes in Jesus, and has been received into the community of the disciples of Jesus, who, in virtue of a sincere change of mind, calls on God as Father, and lives according to the commandments of Jesus, is a saint of God, and as such can be certain of the sin-forgiving grace of God, and of a share in the future glory, that is, of redemption.7474The christian preaching is very pregnantly described in Acts XXVIII. 31, as κηρύσσειν τὴν Βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ διδάσκειν τὰ περὶ τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
A community of Christian believers was formed within the Jewish national community. By its organisation, the close brotherly union of its members, it bore witness to the impression which the Person of Jesus had made on it, and drew from faith in Jesus and hope of his return, the assurance of eternal life, the power of believing in God the Father and of fulfilling the lofty moral and social commands which Jesus had set forth. They knew themselves to be the true Israel of the Messianic time (see § 1), and for that very reason lived with all their thoughts and feelings in the future. Hence the Apocalyptic hopes which in manifold types were current in the Judaism of the time, and which Jesus had not demolished, continued to a great extent in force (see § 4). One guarantee for their fulfilment was supposed to be possessed in the various 79manifestations of the Spirit,7575On the spirit of God (of Christ) see note, p. 50. The earliest christians felt the influence of the spirit as one coming on them from without. which were displayed in the members of the new communities at their entrance, with which an act of baptism seems to have been united from the very first,7676It cannot be directly proved that Jesus instituted baptism, for Matth. XXVIII. 19, is not a saying of the Lord. The reasons for this assertion are: (1) It is only a later stage of the tradition that represents the risen Christ as delivering speeches and giving commandments. Paul knows nothing of it. (2) The Trinitarian formula is foreign to the mouth of Jesus, and has not the authority in the Apostolic age which it must have had if it had descended from Jesus himself. On the other hand, Paul knows of no other way of receiving the Gentiles into the Christian communities than by baptism, and it is highly probable that in the time of Paul all Jewish Christians were also baptised. We may perhaps assume that the practice of baptism was continued in consequence of Jesus' recognition of John the Baptist and his baptism, even after John himself had been removed. According to John IV. 2, Jesus himself baptised not, but his disciples under his superintendence. It is possible only with the help of tradition to trace back to Jesus a “Sacrament of Baptism,” or an obligation to it ex necessitate salutis, though it is credible that tradition is correct here. Baptism in the Apostolic age was εἰς τὸ ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν, and indeed εἰς τὸ ὄνομα (1. Cor. I. 13: Acts XIX. 5). We cannot make out when the formula, εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς, καὶ τοῦ ὑιοῦ, καὶ τοῦ ἀγίου ρνεύματος, emerged. The formula, εἰς τὸ ὄνομα, expresses that the person baptised is put into a relation of dependence on him into whose name he is baptised. Paul has given baptism a relation to the death of Christ, or justly inferred it from the εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν. The descent of the spirit on the baptised very soon ceased to be regarded as the necessary and immediate result of baptism; yet Paul, and probably his contemporaries also, considered the grace of baptism and the communication of the spirit to be inseparably united. See Scholten. Die Taufformel. 1885. Holtzman, Die Taufe im N. T. Ztsch. f. wiss. Theol. 1879. and in their gatherings. They were a guarantee that believers really were the ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ, those called to be saints, and, as such, kings and priests unto God7777The designation of the Christian community as ἐκκλησία originates perhaps with Paul, though that is by no means certain; see as to this “name of honour,” Sohm, Kirchenrecht, Vol. I. p. 16 ff. The words of the Lord, Matt. XVI. 18: XVIII. 17, belong to a later period. According to Gal. I. 22, ταῖς ἐν Χριστῷ is added to the ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Ἰουδαίας. The independence of every individual Christian in and before God is strongly insisted on in the Epistles of Paul, and in the Epistle of Peter, and in the Christian portions of Revelations: ἡμᾶς βασιλείαν, ἱερεῖς τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ. for whom the world, death and devil are overcome, although they still rule the course of the world. The confession of the God of Israel as the Father of Jesus, 80and of Jesus as Christ and Lord7878Jesus is regarded with adoring reverence as Messiah and Lord, that is, these are regarded as the names which his Father has given him. Christians are those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. I. 2): every creature must bow before him and confess him as Lord (Phil. II. 9): see Deissmann on the N. T. formula “in Christo Jesu.” was sealed by the testimony of the possession of the Spirit, which as Spirit of God assured every individual of his call to the kingdom, united him personally with God himself and became to him the pledge of future glory.7979The confession of Father, Son and Spirit is therefore the unfolding of the belief that Jesus is the Christ; but there was no intention of expressing by this confession the essential equality of the three persons, or even the similar relation of the Christian to them. On the contrary, the Father in it is regarded as the God and Father over all, the Son as revealer, redeemer and Lord, the Spirit as a possession, principle of the new supernatural life and of holiness. From the Epistles of Paul we perceive that the Formula, Father, Son and Spirit, could not yet have been customary, especially in Baptism. But it was approaching (2 Cor. XIII. 13).
2. As the Kingdom of God which was announced had not yet visibly appeared, as the appeal to the Spirit could not be separated from the appeal to Jesus as Messiah, and as there was actually nothing possessed but the reality of the Person of Jesus, so, in preaching, all stress must necessarily fall on this Person. To believe in him was the decisive fundamental requirement, and, at first, under the presupposition of the religion of Abraham and the Prophets, the sure guarantee of salvation. It is not surprising then to find that in the earliest Christian preaching Jesus Christ comes before us as frequently as the Kingdom of God in the preaching of Jesus himself. The image of Jesus and the power which proceeded from it were the things which were really possessed. Whatever was expected was expected only from Jesus the exalted and returning one. The proclamation that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand must therefore become the proclamation that Jesus is the Christ, and that in him the revelation of God is complete. He who lays hold of Jesus lays hold in him of the grace of God and of a full salvation. We cannot, however, call this in itself a displacement: but as soon as the proclamation that Jesus is the Christ ceased to be made with the same emphasis and the same meaning that it 81had in his own preaching, and what sort of blessings they were which he brought, not only was a displacement inevitable, but even a dispossession. But every dispossession requires the given forms to be filled with new contents. Simple as was the pure tradition of the confession: “Jesus is the Christ,” the task of rightly appropriating and handing down entire the peculiar contents which Jesus had given to his self-witnessing and preaching was nevertheless great, and in its limit uncertain. Even the Jewish Christian could perform this task only according to the measure of his spiritual understanding and the strength of his religious life. Moreover, the external position of the first communities in the midst of contemporaries who had crucified and rejected Jesus, compelled them to prove, as their main duty, that Jesus really was the Messiah who was promised. Consequently, everything united to bring the first communities to the conviction that the proclamation of the Gospel with which they were entrusted, resolved itself into the proclamation that Jesus is the Christ. The διδάσκειν τηρεῖν πάντα ὃσα ἐνετείλατο ὀ Ἰησοῦς (teaching to observe all that Jesus had commanded), a thing of heart and life, could not lead to reflection in the same degree, as the διδάσκειν ὅτι οὖτὸς ἐστιν ὁ χριστὸς τοῦ θεοῦ (teaching that this is the Christ of God); for a community which possesses the Spirit does not reflect on whether its conception is right, but, especially a missionary community, on what the certainty of its faith rests.
The proclamation of Jesus as the Christ, though rooted entirely in the Old Testament, took its start from the exaltation of Jesus, which again resulted from his suffering and death. The proof that the entire Old Testament points to him, and that his person, his deeds and his destiny are the actual and precise fulfilment of the Old Testament predictions, was the foremost interest of believers, so far as they at all looked backwards. This proof was not used in the first place for the purpose of making the meaning and value of the Messianic work of Jesus more intelligible, of which it did not seem to be in much need, but to confirm the Messiahship of Jesus. Still, points of view for contemplating the Person and work of Jesus could not fail to be got from the words of the Prophets. 82The fundamental conception of Jesus dominating everything was, according to the Old Testament, that God had chosen him and through him the Church. God had chosen him and made him to be both Lord and Christ. He had made over to him the work of setting up the Kingdom, and had led him through death and resurrection to a supramundane position of sovereignty, in which he would soon visibly appear and bring about the end. The hope of Christ's speedy return was the most important article in the “Christology,” inasmuch as his work was regarded as only reaching its conclusion by that return. It was the most difficult, inasmuch as the Old Testament contained nothing of a second advent of Messiah. Belief in the second advent became the specific Christian belief.
But the searching in the scriptures of the Old Testament, that is, in the prophetic texts, had already, in estimating the Person and dignity of Christ, given an important impulse towards transcending the frame-work of the idea of the theocracy completed solely in and for Israel. Moreover, belief in the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of God, caused men to form a corresponding idea of the beginning of his existence. The missionary work among the Gentiles, so soon begun and so rich in results, threw a new light on the range of Christ's purpose and work, and led to the consideration of its significance for the whole human race. Finally, the self-testimony of Jesus summoned them to ponder his relation to God the Father, with the presuppositions of that relation, and to give it expression in intelligible statements. Speculation had already begun on these four points in the Apostolic age, and had resulted in very different utterances as to the Person and dignity of Jesus (§ 4).8080The Christological utterances which are found in the New Testament writings, so far as they explain and paraphrase the confession of Jesus as the Christ and the Lord, may be almost entirely deduced from one or other of the four points mentioned in the text. But we must at the same time insist that these declarations were meant to be explanations of the confession that “Jesus is the Lord,” which of course included the recognition that Jesus by the resurrection became a heavenly being (see Weizsäcker in above mentioned work, p. 110). The solemn protestation of Paul, I Cor. XII. 3; διὸ γνωρίζω ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐδεις ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ λαλῶν λέγει, ΑΝΑΘΕΜΑ ΙΗΣΟΥΣ, καὶ οὐδεις δύναται εἰπεῖν, ΚΥΡΙΟΣ ΙΗΣΟΥΣ εἰ μὴ ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ (cf. Rom. X. 9), shews that he who acknowledged Jesus as the Lord, and accordingly believed in the resurrection of Jesus, was regarded as a full-born Christian. It undoubtedly excludes from the Apostolic age the independent authority of any christological dogma besides that confession and the worship of Christ connected with it. It is worth notice, however, that those early Christian men who recognised Christianity as the vanquishing of the Old Testament religion (Paul, the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, John) all held that Christ was a being who had come down from heaven.83
3. Since Jesus had appeared and was believed on as the Messiah promised by the Prophets, the aim and contents of his mission seemed already to be therewith stated with sufficient clearness. Further, as the work of Christ was not yet completed, the view of those contemplating it was, above all, turned to the future. But in virtue of express words of Jesus, and in the consciousness of having received the Spirit of God, one was already certain of the forgiveness of sin dispensed by God, of righteousness before him, of the full knowledge of the Divine will, and of the call to the future Kingdom as a present possession. In the procuring of these blessings not a few perceived with certainty the results of the first advent of Messiah, that is, his work. This work might be seen in the whole activity of Christ. But as the forgiveness of sins might be conceived as the blessing of salvation which included with certainty every other blessing, as Jesus had put his death in express relation with this blessing, and as the fact of this death so mysterious and offensive required a special explanation, there appeared in the foreground from the very beginning the confession, in I Cor. XV. 3: παρέδωκα ὑμῖν ἐν πρώτοις, ὁ καὶ παρέλαβον, ὅτι Χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν. “I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins.” Not only Paul, for whom, in virtue of his special reflections and experiences, the cross of Christ had become the central point of all knowledge, but also the majority of believers, must have regarded the preaching of the death of the Lord as an essential article, in the preaching of Christ,8181Compare in their fundamental features the common declarations about the saving value of the death of Christ in Paul, in the johannine writings, in 1st Peter, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and in the Christian portions of the book of Revelation: Τῷ ἀγαπῶνί ἡμᾶς καὶ λύσαντι ἡμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ ἁμαρτιῶν ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτῷ, αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα: Compare the reference to Isaiah LIII. and the Passover lamb: the utterances about the “lamb” generally in the early writings: see Westcott, The Epistles of John, p. 34 f.: The idea of the blood of Christ in the New Testament. seeing that, as a rule, they placed 84it somehow under the aspect of a sacrifice offered to God. Still, there were very different conceptions of the value of the death as a means of procuring salvation, and there may have been many who were satisfied with basing its necessity on the fact that it had been predicted, (ἀπέθανεν κατὰ τὰς γραφάς: “he died for our sins according to the scriptures”), while their real religious interests were entirely centered in the future glory to be procured by Christ. But it must have been of greater significance for the following period that, from the first, a short account of the destiny of Jesus lay at the basis of all preaching about him (see a part of this in 1. Cor. XV. 1-11). Those articles in which the identity of the Christ who had appeared with the Christ who had been promised stood out with special clearness, must have been taken up into this report, as well as those which transcended the common expectations of Messiah, which for that very reason appeared of special importance, viz., his death and resurrection. In putting together this report, there was no intention of describing the “work” of Christ. But after the interest which occasioned it had been obscured, and had given place to other interests, the customary preaching of those articles must have led men to see in them Christ's real performance, his “work.”8282This of course could not take place otherwise than by reflecting on its significance. But a dislocation was already completed as soon as it was isolated and separated from the whole of Jesus, or even from his future activity. Reflection on the meaning or the causes of particular facts might easily, in virtue of that isolation, issue in entirely new conceptions.
4. The firm confidence of the disciples in Jesus was rooted
in the belief that he did not abide in death, but was raised by God. That Christ
had risen was, in virtue of what they had experienced in him, certainly only
after they had seen him, just as sure as the fact of his death, and became the
main article of their preaching about him.8383See the discriminating statements of Weizsäcker,
“Apostolic Age,” p. 1 f., especially as to the significance of Peter as first
witness of the resurrection. Cf. 1 Cor. XV. 5 with Luke XXIV. 34: also the
fragment of the “Gospel of Peter” which unfortunately breaks off at the point
where one expects the appearance of the Lord to Peter. But in the
85message of the risen Lord was contained not only the
conviction that he lives again, and now lives for ever, but also the assurance
that his people will rise in like manner and live eternally. Consequently, the
resurrection of Jesus became the sure pledge of the resurrection of all
believers, that is of their real personal resurrection. No one at the beginning
thought of a mere immortality of the spirit, not even those who assumed the
perishableness of man's sensuous nature. In conformity with the uncertainty
which yet adhered to the idea of resurrection in Jewish hopes and speculations,
the concrete notions of it in the Christian communities were also fluctuating.
But this could not affect the certainty of the conviction that the Lord would
raise his people from death. This conviction, whose reverse side is the fear of
that God who casts into hell, has become the mightiest power through which the
Gospel has won humanity.8484 It is often said that Christianity rests on the belief in
the resurrection of Christ. This may be correct, if it is first declared who
this Jesus Christ is, and what his life signifies. But when it appears as a
naked report to which one must above all submit, and when in addition, as often
happens, it is supplemented by the assertion that the resurrection of Christ is
the most certain fact in the history of the world, one does not know whether he
should marvel more at its thoughtlessness or its unbelief. We do not need to
have faith in a fact, and that which requires religious belief, that is, trust
in God, can never be a fact which would hold good apart from that belief. The
historical question and the question of faith must therefore be clearly
distinguished here. The following points are historically certain. (1) That none
of Christ's opponents saw him after his death. (2) That the disciples were convinced that they had seen
him soon after his death. (3) That the succession and number of those appearances can
no longer be ascertained with certainty. (4) That the disciples and Paul were
conscious of having seen Christ not in the crucified earthly body, but in
heavenly glory—even the later incredible accounts of the appearances of Christ,
which strongly emphasise the reality of the body, speak at the same time of such
a body as can pass through closed doors, which certainly is not an earthly body.
(5) That Paul does not compare the manifestation of Christ given to him with any
of his later visions, but, on the other hand, describes it in the words (Gal. I.
15: ὅτε εὐδόκησεν ὁ θεὸς
ἀποκαλύψαι τὸν ὑιὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν ἐμοί, and yet
puts it on a level with the appearances which the earlier Apostles had seen.
But, as even the empty grave on the third day can by no means be regarded as a
certain historical fact, because it appears united in the accounts with manifest
legendary features, and further because it is directly excluded by the way in
which Paul has portrayed the resurrection 1 Cor. XV. it follows: (1) That every
conception which represents the resurrection of Christ as a simple reanimation
of his mortal body, is far from the original conception, and (2) that the
question generally as to whether Jesus has risen, can have
no existence for any one who looks at it apart from the contents and worth of the Person of Jesus. For the mere fact that
friends and adherents of Jesus were convinced that they had seen him, especially when they themselves explain that he appeared
to them in heavenly glory, gives, to those who are in earnest about fixing historical facts, not the least cause for the assumption
that Jesus did not continue in the grave.
History is therefore at first unable to bring any succour to faith here. However firm may have been the faith of the disciples in the appearances of Jesus in their midst, and it was firm, to believe in appearances which others have had is a frivolity which is always revenged by rising doubts. But history is still of service to faith: it limits its scope and therewith shews the province to which it belongs. The question which history leaves to faith is this: Was Jesus Christ swallowed up of death, or did he pass through suffering and the cross to glory, that is, to life, power and honour? The disciples would have been convinced of that in the sense in which Jesus meant them to understand it, though they had not seen him in glory (a consciousness of this is found in Luke XXIV. 26: οὐχὶ ταῦτα ἔδει παθεῖν τὸν Χριστὸν καί εὐσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ; and Joh. XX. 29: ὅτι εώρακας με πεπίστευκας, μακαριοι οἱ μὴ ἰδοντες καὶ πιστέυσαντες) and we might probably add, that no appearances of the Lord could permanently have convinced them of his life, if they had not possessed in their hearts the impression of his Person. Faith in the eternal life of Christ and in our own eternal life is not the condition of becoming a disciple of Jesus, but is the final confession of discipleship. Faith has by no means to do with the knowledge of the form in which Jesus lives, but only with the conviction that he is the living Lord The determination of the form was immediately dependent on the most varied general ideas of the future life, resurrection, restoration, and glorification of the body, which were current at the time. The idea of the rising again of the body of Jesus appeared comparatively early, because it was this hope which animated wide circles of pious people for their own future. Faith in Jesus, the living Lord, in spite of the death on the cross, cannot be generated by proofs of reason or authority, but only to-day in the same way as Paul has confessed of himself: ὅτε εὐδόκησεν ὁ θεὸς ἀποκαλύψσαι τὸν ὑιὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν ἐμοὶ. The conviction of having seen the Lord was no doubt of the greatest importance for the disciples and made them Evangelists: but what they saw cannot at first help us. It can only then obtain significance for us when we have gained that confidence in the Lord which Peter has expressed in Mark VIII. 29. The Christian even to-day confesses with Paul: εἰ ἐν τῇ ζωῇ ταύτὴ ἐν χριστῷ ἡλπικότες ἐσμὲν μόνον, ἐλεεινότεροι πάντων ἀνθρώπων ἐσμέν. He believes in a future life for himself with God because he believes that Christ lives. That is the peculiarity and paradox of Christian faith. But these are not convictions that can be common and matter of course to a deep feeling and earnest thinking being standing amid nature and death, but can only be possessed by those who live with their whole hearts and minds in God, and even they need the prayer: “I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” To act as if faith in eternal life and in the living Christ was the simplest thing in the world, or a dogma to which one has just to submit, is irreligious. The whole question about the resurrection of Christ, its mode and its significance, has thereby been so thoroughly confused in later Christendom, that we are in the habit of considering eternal life as certain, even apart from Christ. That, at any rate, is not Christian. It is Christian to pray that God would give the Spirit to make us strong to overcome the feelings and the doubts of nature, and create belief in an eternal life through the experience of “dying to live.” Where this faith, obtained in this way, exists, it has always been supported by the conviction that the Man lives who brought life and immortality to light. To hold fast this faith is the goal of life, for only what we consciously strive for is in this matter our own. What we think we possess is very soon lost.
5. After the appearance of Paul, the earliest communities were greatly exercised by the question as to how believers obtain the righteousness which they possess, and what significance a precise observance of the law of the Fathers may have in connection with it. While some would hear of no change in the regulations and conceptions which had hitherto existed, and regarded the bestowal of righteousness by God as possible only on condition of a strict observance of the law, others taught that Jesus as Messiah had procured righteousness for his people, had fulfilled the law once for all, and had founded a new covenant, either in opposition to the old, or as a stage above it. Paul especially saw in the death of Christ the end of the law, and deduced righteousness solely from faith in Christ, and sought to prove from the Old Testament itself, by means of historical speculation, the merely temporary validity of the law and therewith the abrogation of the Old 87Testament religion. Others, and this view, which is not everywhere to be explained by Alexandrian influences (see above p. 72 f.), is not foreign to Paul, distinguished between spirit and letter in the Mosaic law, giving to everything a spiritual significance, and in this sense holding that the whole law as νόμος τνευματικός was binding. The question whether righteousness comes from the works of the law or from faith, was displaced by this conception, and therefore remained in its deepest grounds unsolved, or was decided in the sense of a spiritualised legalism. But the detachment of Christianity from the political forms of the Jewish religion, and from sacrificial worship, was also completed by the conception, although it was regarded as identical with the Old Testament religion rightly understood. The surprising results of the direct mission to the Gentiles would seem to have first called forth those controversies (but see Stephen) and given them the 88highest significance. The fact that one section of Jewish Christians, and even some of the Apostles at length recognised the right of the Gentile Christians to be Christians without first becoming Jews, is the clearest proof that what was above all prized was faith in Christ and surrender to him as the Saviour. In agreeing to the direct mission to the Gentiles the earliest Christians, while they themselves observed the law, broke up the national religion of Israel, and gave expression to the conviction that Jesus was not only the Messiah of his people, but the redeemer of humanity.8585Weizsäcker (Apostolic Age, p. 73) says very justly: “The rising of Judaism against believers put them on their own feet. They saw themselves for the first time persecuted in the name of the law, and therewith for the first time it must have become clear to them, that in reality the law was no longer the same to them as to the others. Their hope is the coming kingdom of heaven, in which it is not the law, but their Master from whom they expect salvation. Everything connected with salvation is in him. But we should not investigate the conditions of the faith of that early period, as though the question had been laid before the Apostles whether they could have part in the Kingdom of heaven without circumcision, or whether it could be obtained by faith in Jesus, with or without the observance of the law. Such questions had no existence for them either practically or as questions of the school. But though they were Jews, and the law which even their Master had not abolished, was for them a matter of course, that did not exclude a change of inner position towards it, through faith in their Master and hope of the Kingdom. There is an inner freedom which can grow up along-side of all the constraints of birth, custom, prejudice, and piety. But this only comes into consciousness, when a demand is made on it which wounds it, or when it is assailed on account of an inference drawn not by its own consciousness, but only by its opponents. The establishment of the universal character of the Gospel, that is, of Christianity as a religion for the world, became now, however, a problem, the solution of which, as given by Paul, but few were able to understand or make their own.
6. In the conviction that salvation is entirely bound up with faith in Jesus Christ, Christendom gained the consciousness of being a new creation of God. But while the sense of being the true Israel was thereby, at the same time, held fast, there followed, on the one hand, entirely new historical perspectives, and on the other, deep problems which demanded solution. As a new creation of God, ἡ ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ, the community was conscious of having been chosen by God in Jesus before the foundation of the world. In the conviction of being the true Israel, it claimed for itself the whole 89historical development recorded in the Old Testament, convinced that all the divine activity there recorded had the new community in view. The great question which was to find very different answers, was how, in accordance with this view, the Jewish nation, so far as it had not recognised Jesus as Messiah, should be judged. The detachment of Christianity from Judaism was the most important preliminary condition, and therefore the most important preparation, for the Mission among the Gentile nations, and for union with the Greek spirit.
Supplement 1.—Renan and others go too far when they say that Paul alone has the glory of freeing Christianity from the fetters of Judaism. Certainly the great Apostle could say in this connection also: περισσότερον αὐτῶν πάντων ἐκοπίασα, but there were others beside him who, in the power of the Gospel, transcended the limits of Judaism. Christian communities, it may now be considered certain, had arisen in the empire, in Rome for example, which were essentially free from the law without being in any way determined by Paul's preaching. It was Paul's merit that he clearly formulated the great question, established the universalism of Christianity in a peculiar manner, and yet in doing so held fast the character of Christianity as a positive religion, as distinguished from Philosophy and Moralism. But the later development presupposes neither his clear formulation nor his peculiar establishment of universalism, but only the universalism itself.
Supplement 2.—The dependence of the Pauline Theology on the Old Testament or on Judaism is overlooked in the traditional contrasting of Paulinism and Jewish Christianity, in which Paulinism is made equivalent to Gentile Christianity. This theology, as we might a priori suppose, could, apart from individual exceptions, be intelligible as a whole to born Jews, if to any, for its doctrinal presuppositions were strictly Pharisaic, and its boldness in criticising the Old Testament, rejecting and asserting the law in its historical sense, could be as little congenial to the Gentile Christians as its piety towards the Jewish people. This judgment is confirmed by a glance at the fate of Pauline Theology in the 120 years that followed. Marcion was the only Gentile Christian who understood Panl, and even he misunderstood him: the rest never got beyond 90the appropriation of particular Pauline sayings, and exhibited no comprehension especially of the theology of the Apostle, so far as in it the universalism of Christianity as a religion is proved, even without recourse to Moralism and without putting a new construction on the Old Testament religion. It follows from this, however, that the scheme “Jewish Christianity”—“Gentile Christianity” is insufficient. We must rather, in the Apostolic age, at least at its close, distinguish four main tendencies that may have crossed each other here and there,8686Only one of these four tendencies—the Pauline, with the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Johannine writings which are related to Paulinism—has seen in the Gospel the establishment of a new religion. The rest identified it with Judaism made perfect, or with the Old Testament religion rightly understood. But Paul, in connecting Christianity with the promise given to Abraham, passing thus beyond the actual Old Testament religion, has not only given it a historical foundation, but also claimed for the Father of the Jewish nation a unique significance for Christianity. As to the tendencies named 1 and 2, see Book I. chap. 6. (within which again different shades appear). (1) The Gospel has to do with the people of Israel, and with the Gentile world only on the condition that believers attach themselves to the people of Israel. The punctilious observance of the law is still necessary and the condition on which the messianic salvation is bestowed (particularism and legalism, in practice and in principle, which, however, was not to cripple the obligation to prosecute the work of the Mission). (2) The Gospel has to do with Jews and Gentiles: the first, as believers in Christ, are under obligation as before to observe the law, the latter are not; but for that reason they cannot on earth fuse into one community with the believing Jews. Very different judgments in details were possible on this stand-point; but the bestowal of salvation could no longer be thought of as depending simply on the keeping of the ceremonial commandments of the law8787It is clear from Gal. II. 11 ff. that Peter then and for long before occupied in principle the stand-point of Paul: see the judicious remarks of Weizsäcker in the book mentioned above, p. 75 f. (universalism in principle, particularism in practice; the prerogative of Israel being to some extent clung to). (3) The Gospel has to do with both Jews and Gentiles; no one is any longer under obligation to observe 91the law; for the law is abolished (or fulfilled), and the salvation which Christ's death has procured is appropriated by faith. The law (that is the Old Testament religion) in its literal sense is of divine origin, but was intended from the first only for a definite epoch of history. The prerogative of Israel remains, and is shewn in the fact that salvation was first offered to the Jews, and it will be shewn again at the end of all history. That prerogative refers to the nation as a whole, and has nothing to do with the question of the salvation of individuals (Paulinism: universalism in principle and in practice, and Antinomianism in virtue of the recognition of a merely temporary validity of the whole law; breach with the traditional religion of Israel; recognition of the prerogative of the people of Israel; the clinging to the prerogative of the people of Israel was not, however, necessary on this stand-point: see the epistle to the Hebrews and the Gospel of John). (4) The Gospel has to do with Jews and Gentiles: no one need therefore be under obligation to observe the ceremonial commandments and sacrificial worship, because these commandments themselves are only the wrappings or moral and spiritual commandments which the Gospel has set forth as fulfilled in a more perfect form (universalism in principle and in practice in virtue of a neutralising of the distinction between law and Gospel, old and new; spiritualising and universalising of the law).8888These four tendencies were represented in the Apostolic age by those who had been born and trained in Judaism, and they were collectively transplanted into Greek territory. But we cannot be sure that the third of the above tendencies found intelligent and independent representatives in this domain, as there is no certain evidence of it. Only one who had really been subject to it, and therefore understood it, could venture on a criticism of the Old Testament religion. Still, it may be noted that the majority of non-Jewish converts in the Apostolic age had probably come to know the Old Testament beforehand—not always the Jewish religion, (see Havet, Le Christianisme, T. IV. p. 120: “Je ne sais s'il y est entré, du vivant de Paul, un seul païen: je veux dire un homme, qui ne connût pas déjà, avant d'y entrer, le judaism et la Bible”). These indications will shew how mistaken and misleading it is to express the different tendencies in the Apostolic age and the period closely following by the designations “Jewish Christianity—Gentile Christianity.” Short watchwords are so little appropriate here that one might even with some justice reverse the usual conception, and maintain that what is usually understood by Gentile Christianity (criticism of the Old Testament religion) was possible only within Judaism, while that which is frequently called Jewish Christianity is rather a conception which must have readily suggested itself to born Gentiles superficially acquainted with the Old Testament.92
Supplement 3.—The appearance of Paul is the most important fact in the history of the Apostolic age. It is impossible to give in a few sentences an abstract of his theology and work; and the insertion here of a detailed account is forbidden, not only by the external limits, but by the aim of this investigation. For, as already indicated (§ 1), the doctrinal formation in the Gentile Church is not connected with the whole phenomenon of the Pauline theology, but only with certain leading thoughts which were only in part peculiar to the Apostle. His most peculiar thoughts acted on the development of Ecclesiastical doctrine only by way of occasional stimulus. We can find room here only for a few general outlines.8989The first edition of this volume could not appeal to Weizsäcker's work, Das Apostolisehe Zeitalter der Christlichen Kirche, 1886, [second edition translated in this series]. The author is now in the happy position of being able to refer the readers of his imperfect sketch to this excellent presentation, the strength of which lies in the delineation of Paulinism in its relation to the early Church, and to early Christian theology (p. 79-172). The truth of Weizsäcker's expositions of the inner relations (p. 85 f.), is but little affected by his assumptions concerning the outer relations, which I cannot everywhere regard as just. (The work of Weizsäcker as a whole is, in my opinion, the most important work on Church history we have received since Ritschl's “Entstehung der alt-katholischen Kirche.” 2 Aufl. 1857.)
(1) The inner conviction that Christ had revealed himself to him, that the Gospel was the message of the crucified and risen Christ, and that God had called him to proclaim that message to the world, was the power and the secret of his personality and his activity. These three elements were a unity in the consciousness of Paul, constituting his conversion and determining his after-life. (2) In this conviction he knew himself to be a new creature, and so vivid was this knowledge that he was constrained to become a Jew to the Jews, and a Greek to the Greeks in order to gain them. (3) The crucified and risen Christ became the central point of his theology, and not only the central point, but the one source and ruling principle. The Christ was not in his estimation Jesus of Nazareth now exalted, but the mighty personal spiritual being in divine form who had for a time 93humbled himself, and who as Spirit has broken up the world of law, sin and death, and continues to overcome them in believers. (4) Theology therefore was to him, looking forwards, the doctrine of the liberating power of the Spirit (of Christ) in all the concrete relations of human life and need. The Christ who has already overcome law, sin and death, lives as Spirit, and through his Spirit lives in believers, who for that very reason know him not after the flesh. He is a creative power of life to those who receive him in faith in his redeeming death upon the cross, that is to say, to those who are justified. The life in the Spirit, which results from union with Christ, will at last reveal itself also in the body (not in the flesh). (5) Looking backwards, theology was to Paul a doctrine of the law and of its abrogation; or more accurately, a description of the old system before Christ in the light of the Gospel, and the proof that it was destroyed by Christ. The scriptural proof, even here, is only a superadded support to inner considerations which move entirely within the thought that that which is abrogated has already had its due, by having its whole strength made manifest that it might then be annulled,—the law, the flesh of sin, death: by the law the law is destroyed, sin is abolished in sinful flesh, death is destroyed by death. (6) The historical view which followed from this begins, as regards Christ, with Adam and Abraham; as regards the law, with Moses. It closes, as regards Christ, with the prospect of a time when he shall have put all enemies beneath his feet, when God will be all in all; as regards Moses and the promises given to the Jewish nation, with the prospect of a time when all Israel will be saved. (7) Paul's doctrine of Christ starts from the final confession of the primitive Church, that Christ is with the Father as a heavenly being and as Lord of the living and the dead. Though Paul must have accurately known the proclamation concerning the historical Christ, his theology in the strict sense of the word does not revert to it: but springing over the historical, it begins with the pre-existent Christ (the Man from heaven), whose moral deed it was to assume the flesh in self-denying love, in order to break for all men the powers of nature and 94the doom of death. But he has pointed to the words and
example of the historical Christ in order to rule the life in the Spirit. (8) Deductions, proofs, and perhaps also conceptions, which in point of form betray the theology of the Pharisaic schools, were forced from the Apostle by Christian opponents, who would only grant a place to the message of the crucified Christ beside the δικαιοσύνη ἐξ ἔργων. Both as an exegete and as a typologist he appears as a disciple of the Pharisees. But his dialectic about law, circumcision and sacrifice, does not form the kernel of his religious mode of thought, though, on the other hand, it was unquestionably his very Pharisaism which qualified him for becoming what he was. Pharisaism embraced nearly everything lofty which Judaism apart from Christ at all possessed, and its doctrine of providence, its energetic insistance on making manifest the religious contrasts, its Messianic expectations, its doctrines of sin and predestination, were conditions for the genesis of a religious and Christian character such as Paul.9090Kabisch, Die Eschatologie des Paulus, 1893, has shewn how strongly the eschatology of Paul was influenced by the later Pharisaic Judaism. He has also called attention to the close connection between Paul's doctrine of sin and the fall, and that of the Rabbis. This first Christian of the second generation is the highest product of the Jewish spirit under the creative power of the Spirit of Christ. Pharisaism had fulfilled its mission for the world when it produced this man. (9) But Hellenism also had a share in the making of Paul, a fact which does not conflict with his Pharisaic origin, but is partly given with it. In spite of all its exclusiveness the desire for making proselytes especially in the Diaspora, was in the blood of Pharisaism. Paul continued the old movement in a new way, and he was qualified for his work among the Greeks by an accurate knowledge of the Greek translation of the Old Testament, by considerable dexterity in the use of the Greek language, and by a growing insight into the spiritual life of the Greeks. But the peculiarity of his Gospel as a message from the Spirit of Christ, which was equally near to and equally distant from every religious and moral mode of thought 95among the nations of the world, signified much more than all this. This Gospel—who can say whether Hellenism had already a share in its conception—required that the missionary to the Greeks should become a Greek and that believers should come to know, “all things are yours, and ye are Christ's.” Paul, as no doubt other missionaries besides him, connected the preaching of Christ with the Greek mode of thought; he even employed philosophic doctrines of the Greeks as presuppositions in his apologetic,9191Some of the Church Fathers (see Socr. H. E. III. 16) have attributed to Paul an accurate knowledge of Greek literature and philosophy: but that cannot be proved. The references of Heinrici (2 Kor -Brief. p. 537-604) are worthy of our best thanks; but no certain judgment can be formed about the measure of the Apostles' Greek culture, so long as we do not know how great was the extent of spiritual ideas which were already precipitated in the speech of the time. and therewith prepared the way for the introduction of the Gospel to the Græco-Roman world of thought. But, in my opinion, he has nowhere allowed that world of thought to influence his doctrine of salvation. This doctrine, however, was so fashioned in its practical aims that it was not necessary to become a Jew in order to appropriate it. (10) Yet we cannot speak of any total effect of Paulinism, as there was no such thing. The abundance of its details was too great and the greatness of its simplicity too powerful, its hope of the future too vivid, its doctrine of the law too difficult, its summons to a new life in the spirit too mighty to be comprehended and adhered to even by those communities which Paul himself had founded. What they did comprehend was its Monotheism, its universalism, its redemption, its eternal life, its asceticism; but all this was otherwise combined than by Paul. The style became Hellenic, and the element of a new kind of knowledge from the very first, as in the Church of Corinth, seems to have been the ruling one. The Pauline doctrine of the incarnate heavenly Man was indeed apprehended; it fell in with Greek notions, although it meant something very different from the notions which Greeks had been able to form of it.
Supplement 4.—What we justly prize above all else in the New Testament is that it is a union of the three groups, 96Synoptic Gospels, Pauline Epistles,9292The epistle to the Hebrews and the first epistle of Peter, as well as the Pastoral epistles belong to the Pauline circle; they are of the greatest value because they shew that certain fundamental features of Pauline theology took effect after-wards in an original way, or received independent parallels, and because they prove that the cosmic Christology of Paul made the greatest impression and was continued. In Christology, the epistle to the Ephesians in particular, leads directly from Paul to the pneumatic Christology of the post-apostolic period. Its non-genuineness is by no means certain to me. and Johannine writings, in which are expressed the richest contents of the earliest history of the Gospel. In the Synodic Gospels and the epistles of Paul are represented two types of preaching the Gospel which mutually supplement each other. The subsequent history is dependent on both, and would have been other than it is had not both existed alongside of each other. On the other hand, the peculiar and lofty conception of Christ and of the Gospel, which stands out in the writings of John, has directly exercised no demonstrable influence on the succeeding development—with the exception of one peculiar movement, the Montanistic which, however, does not rest on a true understanding of these writings—and indeed partly for the same reason that has prevented the Pauline theology as a whole from having such an influence. What is given in these writings is a criticism of the Old Testament as religion, or the independence of the Christian religion, in virtue of an accurate knowledge of the Old Testament through development of its hidden germs. The Old Testament stage of religion is really transcended and over-come in the Johannine Christianity, just as in Paulinism, and in the theology of the epistle to the Hebrews. “The circle of disciples who appropriated this characterisation of Jesus is,” says Weizsäcke, “a revived Christ-party in the higher sense.” But this transcending of the Old Testament religion was the very thing that was unintelligible, because there were few ripe for such a conception. Moreover, the origin of the Johannine writings is, from the stand-point of a history of literature and dogma, the most marvellous enigma which the early history of Christianity presents: Here we have portrayed a Christ who clothes the indescribable with words, and proclaims as his own self-testimony what his disciples have experienced 97in him, a speaking, acting, Pauline Christ, walking on the earth, far more human than the Christ of Paul and yet far more Divine, an abundance of allusions to the historical Jesus, and at the same time the most sovereign treatment of the history. One divines that the Gospel can find no loftier expression than John XVII.: one feels that Christ himself put these words into the mouth of the disciple, who gives them back to him, but word and thing, history and doctrine are surrounded by a bright cloud of the suprahistorical. It is easy to shew that this Gospel could as little have been written without Hellenism, as Luther's treatise on the freedom of a Christian man could have been written without the “Deutsche Theologie.” But the reference to Philo and Hellenism is by no means sufficient here, as it does not satisfactorily explain even one of the external aspects of the problem. The elements operative in the Johannine theology were not Greek Theologoumena—even the Logos has little more in common with that of Philo than the name, and its mention at the be-ginning of the book is a mystery, not the solution of one9393In the Ztschr. für Theol. und Kirche, II. p. 1.89 if. I have discussed the relation of the prologue of the fourth Gospel to the whole work and endeavoured to prove the following: “The prologue of the Gospel is not the key to its comprehension. It begins with a well-known great object, the Logos, re-adapts and transforms it—implicitly opposing false Christologies—in order to substitute for it Jesus Christ, the μονογενὴς θέος, or in order to unveil it as this Jesus Christ. The idea of the Logos is allowed to fall from the moment that this takes place.” The author continues to narrate of Jesus only with the view of establishing the belief that he is the Messiah, the Son of God. This faith has for its main article the recognition that Jesus is descended from God and from heaven; but the author is far from endeavouring to work out this recognition from cosmological, philosophical considerations. According to the Evangelist, Jesus proves himself to be the Messiah, the Son of God, in virtue of his self-testimony, and because he has brought a full knowledge of God and life—purely supernatural divine blessings. (Cf. besides, and partly in opposition, Holtzmann, i. d. Ztschr. f. wissensch. Theol. 1893.) The author's peculiar world of theological ideas, is not, however, so entirely isolated in the early Christian literature as appears on the first impression. If, as is probable, the Ignatian Epistles are independent of the Gospel of John, further, the Supper prayer in the Didache, finally, certain mystic theological phrases in the Epistle of Barnabas, in the second epistle of Clement, and in Hermas: a complex of Theologoumena may be put together, which reaches back to the primitive period of the Church, and may be conceived as the general ground for the theology of John. This complex has on its side a close connection with the final development of the Jewish Hagiographic literature under Greek influence.—98but the Apostolic testimony concerning Christ has created from the old faith of Psalmists and Prophets, a new faith in a man who lived with the disciples of Jesus among the Greeks. For that very reason, in spite of his abrupt Anti Judaism, we must without doubt regard the Author as a born Jew.
Supplement 5.—The authorities to which the Christian communities were subjected in faith and life, were these: (1) The Old Testament interpreted in the Christian sense. (2) The tradition of the Messianic history of Jesus. (3) The words of the Lord: see the epistles of Paul, especially I Corinthians. But every writing which was proved to have been given by the Spirit has also to be regarded as an authority, and every tested Christian Prophet and Teacher inspired by the Spirit could claim that his words be received and regarded as the words of God. Moreover, the twelve whom Jesus had chosen had a special authority, and Paul claimed a similiar authority for himself (διατάξεις τῶν ἀποστόλων). Consequently, there were numerous courts of appeal in the earliest period of Christendom, of diverse kinds and by no means strictly defined. In the manifold gifts of the spirit was given a fluid element indefinable in its range and scope, an element which guaranteed freedom of development, but which also threatened to lead the enthusiastic communities to extravagance.
Literature.—Weiss, Biblical Theology of the New Testament, 1884. Beyschlag, New Testament Theology, 1892. Ritschl, Entstehung der Alt-Katholischen Kirche, 2 Edit. 1857. Reuss, History of Christian Theology in the Apostolic Age, 1864. Baur, The Apostle Paul, 1866. Holsten, Zum Evangelium des Paulus und Petrus, 1868. Pfleiderer, Paulinism, 1873: also, Das Urchristenthum, 1887. Schenkel, Das Christusbild der Apostel, 1879. Renan, Origins of Christianity, Vols. II.—IV. Havet, Le Christianisme et ses orig. T. IV. 1884. Lechler, The Apostolic and Post-Apostolic Age, 1885. Weizsäcker, The Apostolic Age, 1892. Hatch, Article “Paul” in the Encyclopædia Britannica. Everett, The Gospel of Paul. Boston, 1893. On the origin and earliest history of the Christian proofs from prophecy, see my “Texte und Unters. z. Gesch. der Alt-Christl.” Lit. I. 3, p. 56 f.99
§ 4. The Current Exposition of the Old Testament, and the Jewish hopes of the future, in their significance for the earliest types of Christian preaching.
Instead of the frequently very fruitless investigations about “Jewish-Christian”, and “Gentile-Christian”, it should be asked, What Jewish elements have been naturalised in the Christian Church, which were in no way demanded by the contents of the Gospel? Have these elements been simply weakened in course of the development, or have some of them been strengthened by a peculiar combination with the Greek? We have to do here, in the first instance, with the doctrine of Demons and Angels, the view of history, the growing exclusiveness, the fanaticism; and on the other hand, with the cultus, and the Theocracy, expressing itself in forms of law.
1. Although Jesus had in principle abolished the methods of pedantry, the casuistic treatment of the law, and the subtleties of prophetic interpretation, yet the old Scholastic exegesis remained active in the Christian communities above all the unhistorical local method in the exposition of the Old Testament, both allegoristic and Haggadic; for in the exposition of a sacred text—and the Old Testament was regarded as such—one is always required to look away from its historical limitations and to expound it according to the needs of the present.9494The Jewish religion, specially since the (relative) close of the canon, had become more and more a religion of the Book. The traditional view exercised its influence on the exposition of the Old Testament, as well as on the representations of the person, fate and deeds of Jesus, especially in those cases where the question was about the proof of the fulfilment of prophecy, that is, of the Messiahship of Jesus. (See above § 3, 2.) Under the impression made by the history of Jesus it gave to many Old Testament passages a sense that was foreign to them, and, on the other hand, enriched the life of Jesus with new facts, turning the interest 100at the same time to details which were frequently unreal and seldom of striking importance.9595Examples of both in the New Testament are numerous. See above all, Matt. I. II. Even the belief that Jesus was born of a Virgin sprang from Isaiah VII. 14. It cannot, however, be proved to be in the writings of Paul (the two genealogies in Matt. and Luke directly exclude it: according to Dillmann, Jahrb. f. protest. Theol. p. 192 ff. Luke I. 34, 35 would be the addition of a redactor); but it must have arisen very early, as the Gentile Christians of the second century would seem to have unanimously confessed it (see the Romish Symbol. Ignatius, Aristides, Justin, etc.). For the rest, it was long before theologians recognised in the Virgin birth of Jesus more than fulfilment of a prophecy, viz., a fact of salvation. The conjecture of Usener, that the idea of the birth from a Virgin is a heathen myth which was received by the Christians, contradicts the entire earliest development of Christian tradition, which is free from heathen myths so far as these had not already been received by wide circles of Jews, (above all, certain Babylonian and Persian Myths), which in the case of that idea is not demonstrable. Besides, it is in point of method not permissible to stray so far when we have near at hand such a complete explanation as Isaiah VII. 14. Those who suppose that the reality of the Virgin birth must be held fast, must assume that a misunderstood prophecy has been here fulfilled (on the true meaning of the passage see Dillmann [Jesajas, 5 Aufl. p. 69]: “of the birth by a Virgin [i.e., of one who at the birth was still a Virgin.] the Hebrew text says nothing . . . Immanuel as beginning and representative of the new generation, from which one should finally take possession of the king's throne”). The application of an unhistorical local method in the exposition of the Old Testament—Haggada and Rabbinic allegorism—may be found in many passages of Paul (see, e.g., Gal. III. 16, 19; IV. 22–31; 1 Cor. IX. 9; X. 4; XI. 10; Rom. IV. etc.).
2. The Jewish Apocalyptic literature, especially as it flourished since the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, and was impregnated with new elements borrowed from an ethico-religious philosophy, as well as with Babylonian and Persian myths (Greek myths can only be detected in very small number), was not banished from the circles of the first professors of the Gospel, but was rather held fast, eagerly read, and even extended with the view of elucidating the promises of Jesus.9696The proof of this may be found in the quotations in early Christian writings from the Apocalypses of Enoch, Ezra, Eldad and Modad, the assumption of Moses and other Jewish Apocalypses unknown to us. They were regarded as Divine revelations beside the Old Testament; see the proofs of their frequent and long continued use in Schürer's “History of the Jewish people in the time of our Lord.” But the Christians in receiving these Jewish Apocalypses did not leave them intact, but adapted them with greater or less Christian additions (see Esra, Enoch, Ascension of Isaiah). Even the Apocalypse of John is, as Vischer (Texte u. Unters. 3 altchristl. lit. Gesch. Bd. II. H. 4) has shown, a Jewish Apocalypse adapted to a Christian meaning. But in this activity, and in the production of little Apocalyptic prophetic sayings and articles, (see in the Epistle to the Ephesians, and in those of Barnabas and Clement) the Christian labour here in the earliest period seems to have exhausted itself. At least we do not know with certainty of any great Apocalyptic writing of an original kind proceeding from Christian circles. Even the Apocalypse of Peter which, thanks to the discovery of Bouriant, we now know better, is not a completely original work as contrasted with the Jewish Apocalypses. 101Though their contents seem to have been modified on Christian soil, and especially the uncertainty about the person of the Messiah exalted to victory and coming to judgment,9797The Gospel reliance on the Lamb who was slain very significantly pervades the Revelation of John, that is, its Christian parts. Even the Apocalypse of Peter shews Jesus Christ as the comfort of believers and as the Revealer of the future. In it (v. 3,) Christ says; “Then will God come to those who believe on me, those who hunger and thirst and mourn, etc.” yet the sensuous earthly hopes were in no way repressed. Green fat meadows and sulphurous abysses, white horses and frightful beasts, trees of life, splendid cities, war and blood-shed filled the fancy,9898These words were written before the Apocalypse of Peter was discovered. That Apocalypse confirms what is said in the text. Moreover, its delineation of Paradise and blessedness are not wanting in poetic charm and power. In its delineation of Hell, which prepares the way for Dante's Hell, the author is scared by no terror. and threatened to obscure the simple and yet, at bottom, much more affecting maxims about the judgment which is certain to every individual soul, and drew the confessors of the Gospel into a restless activity, into politics, and abhorrence of the State. It was an evil inheritance which the Christians took over from the Jews,9999These ideas, however, encircled the earliest Christendom as with a wall of fire, and preserved it from a too early contact with the world. an inheritance which makes it impossible to reproduce with certainty the eschatological sayings of Jesus. Things directly foreign were mixed up with them, and, what. was most serious, delineations of the hopes of the future could easily lead to the undervaluing of the most important gifts and duties of the Gospel.100100An accurate examination of the eschatological sayings of Jesus in the synoptists shews that much foreign matter is mixed with them (see Weiffenbach, Der Wiederkunftsgedanke Jesu, 1875). That the tradition here was very uncertain, because influenced by the Jewish Apocalyptic, is shewn by the one fact that Papias (in Iren. V. 33) quotes as words of the Lord which had been handed down by the disciples, a group of sayings which we find in the Apocalypse of Baruch, about the amazing fruitfulness of the earth during the time of the Messianic Kingdom.102
3. A wealth of mythologies and poetic ideas was naturalised and legitimised101101We may here call attention to an interesting remark of Goethe. Among his Apophthegms (no. 537) is the following: “Apocrypha: It would be important to collect what is historically known about these books, and to shew that these very Apocryphal writings with which the communities of the first centuries of our era were flooded, were the real cause why Christianity at no moment of political or Church history could stand forth in all her beauty and purity.” A historian would not express himself in this way, but yet there lies at the root of this remark a true historical insight. in the Christian communities, chiefly by the reception of the Apocalyptic literature, but also by the reception of artificial exegesis and Haggada. Most important for the following period were the speculations about Messiah, which were partly borrowed from expositions of the Old Testament and from the Apocalypses, partly formed in-dependently, according to methods the justice of which no one contested, and the application of which seemed to give a firm basis to religious faith.
Some of the Jewish Apocalyptists had already attributed pre-existence to the expected Messiah, as to other precious things in the Old Testament history and worship, and, without any thought of denying his human nature, placed him as already existing before his appearing in a series of angelic beings.102102See Schürer, History of the Jewish people. Div. II. vol. II. p. 160 f.; yet the remarks of the Jew Trypho in the dialogue of Justin shew that the notions of a pre-existent Messiah were by no means very widely spread in Judaism. (See also Orig. c. Cels. 1. 49: “A Jew would not at all admit that any Prophet had said the Son of God will come; they avoided this designation and used instead the saying, the anointed of God will come.”) The Apocalyptists and Rabbis attributed pre-existence, that is, a heavenly origin, to many sacred things and persons, such as the Patriarchs, Moses, the Tabernacle, the Temple vessels, the city of Jerusalem. That the true Temple and the real Jerusalem were with God in heaven and would come down from heaven at the appointed time, must have been a very wide-spread idea, especially at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, and even earlier than that (see Gal. IV. 26: Rev. XXI. 2: Heb. XII. 22). In the Assumption of Moses (c. I) Moses says of himself: Dominus invenit me, qui ab initio orbis terrarum præparatus sum, ut sim arbiter (μεσίτης) testamenti illius (τῆς διαθήκης αὐτοῦ). In the Midrasch Bereschith rabba VIII. 2. we read, “R. Simeon ben Lakisch says, 'The law was in existence 2000 years before the creation of the world.’” In the Jewish treatise Προσευχὴ Ἰωσήφ, which Origen has several times quoted, Jacob says of himself (ap. Orig. torn. II. in Joann. c. 25. Op. IV. 84: “ὁ γὰρ λαλῶν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, ἐγω Ἰακὼβ καὶ Ἰσραήλ, ἄγγελος θεοῦ εἰμὶ ἐγὼ καὶ πνεῦμα ἀρχικὸν καὶ Ἀβραὰμ καὶ Ἰσαὰκ προεκτίσθησαν προ παντος ἔργου, ἐγὼ δὲ Ἰακὼβ . . . . ἐγὼ πρωτογονος παντὸ ζώος ζωουμένου ὑπὸ θεοῦ.” These examples could easily be increased. The Jewish speculations about Angels and Mediators, which at the time of Christ grew very luxuriantly among the Scribes and Apocalyptists, and endangered the purity and vitality of the Old Testament idea of God, were also very important for the development of Christian dogmatics. But neither these speculations, nor the notions of heavenly Archetypes, nor of pre-existence, are to be referred to Hellenic influence. This may have co-operated here and there, but the rise of these speculations in Judaism is not to be explained by it; they rather exhibit the Oriental stamp. But, of course, the stage in the development of the nations had now been reached, in which the creations of Oriental fancy and Mythology could be fused with the ideal conceptions of Hellenic philosophy. This took place in accordance with an established 103method of speculation, so far as an attempt was made thereby to express the special value of an empiric object, by distinguishing between the essence and the inadequate form of appearance, hypostatising the essence, and exalting it above time and space. But when a later appearance was conceived as the aim of a series of preparations, it was frequently hypostatised and placed above these preparations even in time. The supposed aim was, in a kind of real existence, placed, as first cause, before the means which were destined to realise it on earth.103103The conception of heavenly ideals of precious earthly things followed from the first naive method of speculation we have mentioned, that of a pre-existence of persons from the last. If the world was created for the sake of the people of Israel, and the Apocalyptists expressly taught that, then it follows that in the thought of God Israel was older than the world. The idea of a kind of pre-existence of the people of Israel follows from this. We can still see this process of thought very plainly in the shepherd of Hermas, who expressly declares that the world was created for the sake of the Church. In consequence of this he maintains that the Church was very old, and was created before the foundation of the world. See Vis. I. 2. 4: II. 4. 11: Διατί οὖν πρεσβυτέρα (sci1. ἡ ἐκκλησία): Ὅτι, φησίν, πάντων πρώτη ἐκτισθη διὰ τοῦτο πρεσβυτέρα, καὶ διὰ ταύτην ὁ κόσμος κατηρτίσθη. But in order to estimate aright the bearing of these speculations, we must observe that, according to them, the precious things and persons, so far as they are now really manifested, were never conceived as endowed with a double nature. No hint is given of such an assumption; the sensible appearance was rather conceived as a mere wrapping which was necessary only to its becoming visible, or, conversely, the pre-existence or the archetype was no longer thought of in presence of the historical appearance of the object. That pneumatic form of existence was not set forth in accordance with the analogy of existence verified by sense, but was left in suspense. The idea of “existence” here could run through all the stages which, according to the Mythology and Metaphysic of the time, lay between what we now call “valid,” and the most concrete being. He who nowadays undertakes to justify the notion of pre-existence, will find himself in a very different situation from these earlier times, as he will no longer be able to count on shifting conceptions of existence. See Appendix I. at the end of this Vol. for a fuller discussion of the idea of pre-existence.104
Some of the first confessors of the Gospel, though not all the writers of the New Testament, in accordance with the same method, went beyond the declarations which Jesus himself had made about his person, and endeavoured to conceive its value and absolute significance abstractly and speculatively. The religious convictions (see § 3. 2): (1) That the founding of the Kingdom of God on earth, and the mission of Jesus as the perfect mediator, were from eternity based on God's plan of Salvation, as his main purpose; (2) that the exalted Christ was called into a position of Godlike Sovereignty belonging to him of right; (3) that God himself was manifested in Jesus, and that he therefore surpasses all mediators of the Old Testament, nay, even all angelic powers,—these convictions with some took the form that Jesus pre-existed, and that in him has appeared and taken flesh a heavenly being fashioned like God, who is older than the world, nay, its creative principle.104104It must be observed here that Palestinian Judaism, without any apparent influence from Alexandria, though not independently of the Greek spirit, had already created a multitude of intermediate beings between God and the world, avowing thereby that the idea of God had become stiff and rigid. “Its original aim was simply to help the God of Judaism in his need.” Among these intermediate beings should be specially mentioned the Memra of God (see also the Shechina and the Metatron). The conceptions of the old Teachers, Paul, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Apocalypse, the author of the first Epistle of Peter, the fourth Evangelist, differ in many ways when they attempt to define these convictions more closely. The latter is the only one who has recognised with perfect clearness that the premundane Christ must be assumed to be θεὸς ὥν ἐν ἀρχῆ πρός τὸν θεόν, so as not to endanger by this speculation the contents and significance of the revelation of God which was given in Christ. This, in the earliest period, was essentially a religious problem, that is, it was not introduced for the explanation of cosmological problems, (see, especially, Epistle to the Ephesians, I Peter; but also the Gospel of John), and there stood peacefully beside 105it, such conception as recognised the equipment of the man Jesus for his office in a communication of the Spirit at his baptism,105105See Justin. Dial. 48. fin: Justin certainly is not favourably disposed towards those who regard Christ as a “man among men,” but he knows that there are such people. or in virtue of Isaiah VII., found the germ of his unique nature in his miraculous origin.106106The miraculous genesis of Christ in the Virgin by the Holy Spirit and the real pre-existence are of course mutually exclusive. At a later period, it is true, it became necessary to unite them in thought. But as soon as that speculation was detached from its original foundation, it necessarily withdrew the minds of believers from the consideration of the work of Christ, and from the contemplation of the revelation of God which was given in the ministry of the historical person Jesus. The mystery of the person of Jesus in itself, would then necessarily appear as the true revelation.107107There is the less need for treating this more fully here, as no New Testament Christology has become the direct starting-point of later doctrinal developments. The Gentile Christians had transmitted to them, as an unanimous doctrine, the message that Christ is the Lord who is to be worshipped, and that one must think of him as the Judge of the living and the dead, that is, ὡς περὶ θεοῦ. But it certainly could not fail to be of importance for the result that already many of the earliest Christian writers, and therefore even Paul, perceived in Jesus a spiritual being come down from heaven (πνεῦμα) who was ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ, and whose real act of love consisted in his very descent.
A series of theologoumena and religious problems for the future doctrine of Christianity lay ready in the teaching of the Pharisees and in the Apocalypses (see especially the fourth book of Ezra), and was really fitted for being of service to it; e.g., doctrines about Adam, universal sinfulness, the fall, predestination, Theodocy, etc., besides all kinds of ideas about redemption. Besides these spiritual doctrines there were not a few spiritualised myths which were variously made use of in the Apocalypses. A rich, spiritual, figurative style, only too rich and therefore confused, waited for the theological artist to purify, reduce and vigorously fashion. There really remained very little of the Cosmico-Mythological in the doctrine of the great Church.
Supplement.—The reference to the proof from prophecy, to the current exposition of the Old Testament, the Apocalyptic 106and the prevailing methods of speculation, does not suffice to explain all the elements which are found in the different types of Christian preaching. We must rather bear in mind here that the earliest communities were enthusiastic, and had yet among them prophets and ecstatic persons. Such circumstances will always directly produce facts in the history. But, in the majority of cases, it is absolutely impossible to account subsequently for the causes of such productions, because their formation is subject to no law accessible to the understanding. It is therefore inadmissible to regard as proved the reality of what is recorded and believed to be a fact, when the motive and interest which led to its acceptance can no longer be ascertained.108108The creation of the New Testament canon first paved the way for putting an end, though only in part, to the production of Evangelic “facts” within the Church. For Hermas (Sim. IX. 16) can relate that the Apostles also descended to the under world and there preached. Others report the same of John the Baptist. Origen in his homily on 1. Kings XXVII. says that Moses, Samuel and all the Prophets descended to Hades and there preached. A series of facts of Evangelic history which have no parallel in the accounts of our Synoptists, and are certainly legendary, may be but together from the epistle of Barnabas, Justin, the second epistle of Clement, Papias, the Gospel to the Hebrews, and the Gospel to the Egyptians. But the synoptic reports themselves, especially in the articles for which we have only a solitary witness, shew an extensive legendary material, and even in the Gospel of John, the free production of facts cannot be mistaken. Of what a curious nature some of these were, and that they are by no means to be entirely explained from the Old Testament, as for example, Justin's account of the ass on which Christ rode into Jerusalem, having been bound to a vine, is shewn by the very old fragment in one source of the Apostolic constitutions (Texte u. Unters. II, 5. p. 28 ff.); ὅτε ᾒτωσεν ὁ διδάσκαλος τὸν ἂρτον καὶ τὸ ποτήριον καὶ ηὐλόγησεν αὐτὰ λέγων· τοῦτο ἐστι τὸ σῶμά μου καὶ τὸ αἷμα, οὐκ ἐπὲτρεψε ταύταις the women) συστῆναι ἡμῖν . . . . Μάρθα εἶπεν διὰ Μαριάμ, ὅτι εἶδεν αὐτὴν μειδιῶταν. Μαρία εἶπεν οὐκέτι ἐγέλασα. Narratives such as those of Christ's descent to Hell and ascent to heaven, which arose comparatively late, though still at the close of the first century (see Book I. Chap. 3) sprang out of short formula containing an antithesis (death and resurrection, first advent in lowliness, second advent in glory: descensus de cœlo, ascensus in cœlum; ascensus in cœlum, descensus ad inferna) which appeared to be required by Old Testament predictions, and were commended by their naturalness. Just as it is still, in the same way naively inferred: if Christ rose bodily he must also have ascended bodily (visibly?) into heaven.
Moreover, if we consider the conditions, outer and inner, in which the preaching of Christ in the first decades was placed, conditions which in every way threatened the Gospel with extravagance, we shall only see cause to wonder that it 107continued to shine forth amid all its wrappings. We can still, out of the strangest “fulfilments”, legends and mythological ideas, read the religious conviction that the aim and goal of history is disclosed in the history of Christ, and that the Divine has now entered into history in a pure form.
Literature.—The Apocalypses of Daniel, Enoch, Moses, Baruch, Ezra; Schürer, History of the Jewish People in the time of Christ; Baldensperger, in the work already mentioned. Weber, System der Altsynagogalen palästinischen Theologie, 1880, Kuenen, Hibbert Lectures, 1883. Hilgenfeld, Die jüdische Apokalyptik, 1859. Wellhausen, Sketch of the History of Israel and Judah, 1887. Diestel, Gesch. des A. T. in der Christl. Kirche, 1869. Other literature in Schürer. The essay of Hellwag in the Theol. Jahrb. von Baur and Zeller, 1848, “Die Vorstellung von der Präexistenz Christi in der ältesten Kirche”, is worth noting; also Joël; Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte zu Anfang des 2 Christl. Jahrhunderts, 1880— 1883.
§ 5. The Religious Conceptions and the Religious Philosophy of the Hellenistic Jews, in their significance for the later formulation of the Gospel.
1. From the remains of the Jewish Alexandrian literature and the Jewish Sibylline writings, also from the work of Josephus, and especially from the great propaganda of Judaism in the Græco-Roman world, we may gather that there was a Judaism in the Diaspora, for the consciousness of which the cultus and ceremonial law were of comparatively subordinate importance; while the monotheistic worship of God, apart from images, the doctrines of virtue and belief in a future reward beyond the grave, stood in the foreground as its really essential marks. Converted Gentiles were no longer everywhere required to be even circumcised; the bath of purification was deemed sufficient. The Jewish religion here appears transformed into a universal human ethic and a monotheistic cosmology. For that reason, the idea of the Theocracy as well as the Messianic hopes of the future faded away or were uprooted. The latter, indeed, did not altogether pass away; but as the oracles 108of the Prophets were made use of mainly for the purpose of proving the antiquity and certainty of monotheistic belief, the thought of the future was essentially exhausted in the expectation of the dissolution of the Roman empire, the burning of the world, and the eternal recompense. The specific Jewish element, however, stood out plainly in the assertion that the Old Testament, and especially the books of Moses, were the source of all true knowledge of God, and the sum total of all doctrines of virtue for the nations, as well as in the connected assertion that the religious and moral culture of the Greeks was derived from the Old Testament, as the source from which the Greek Poets and Philosophers had drawn their inspiration.109109The Sibylline Oracles, composed by Jews, from 160 B.C. to 189 A.D. are specially instructive here: see the Editions of Friedlieb. 1852; Alexandre, 1869; Rzach. 1891. Delaunay, Moines et Sibylles dans l’antiquité judéo-grecque, 1874. Schürer in the work mentioned above. The writings of Josephus also yield rich booty, especially his apology for Judaism in the two books against Apion. But it must be noted that there were Jews enlightened by Hellenism, who were still very zealous in their observance of the law. “Philo urges most earnestly to the observance of the law in opposition to that party which drew the extreme inferences of the allegoristic method, and put aside the outer legality as something not essential for the spiritual life. Philo thinks that by exact observance of these ceremonies on their material side, one will also come to know better their symbolical meaning” (Siegfried, Philo, p. 157).
These Jews and the Greeks converted by them formed, as it were, a Judaism of a second order without law, i.e., ceremonial law, and with a minimum of statutory regulations. This Judaism prepared the soil for the Christianising of the Greeks, as well as for the genesis of a great Gentile Church in the empire, free from the law; and this the more that, as it seems, after the second destruction of Jerusalem, the punctilious observance of the law110110Direct evidence is certainly almost entirely wanting here, but the indirect speaks all the more emphatically: see § 3, Supplement 1. 2. was imposed more strictly than before on all who worshipped the God of the Jews.111111The Jewish propaganda, though by no means effaced, gave way very distinctly to the Christian from the middle of the second century. But from this time we find few more traces of an enlightened Hellenistic Judaism. Moreover, the Messianic expectation also seems to have somewhat given way to occupation with the law. But the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well as other Jewish terms certainly played a great rôle in Gentile and Gnostic magical formulæ of the third century, as may be seen e.g., from many passages in Origen c. Celtum.109
The Judaism just portrayed, developed itself, under the influence of the Greek culture with which it came in contact, into a kind of Cosmopolitanism. It divested itself, as religion, of all national forms, and exhibited itself as the most perfect expression of that “natural” religion which the stoics had disclosed. But in proportion as it was enlarged and spiritualised to a universal religion for humanity, it abandoned what was most peculiar to it, and could not compensate for that loss by the assertion of the thesis that the Old Testament is the oldest and most reliable source of that natural religion, which in the traditions of the Greeks had only witnesses of the second rank. The vigour and immediateness of the religious feeling was flattened down to a moralism, the barrenness of which drove some Jews even into Gnosis, mysticism and asceticism.112112The prerogative of Israel was, for all that, clung to: Israel remains the chosen people.
2. The Jewish Alexandrian philosophy of religion, of which Philo gives us the clearest conception,113113The brilliant investigations of Bernays, however, have shewn how many-sided that philosophy of religion was. The proofs of asceticism in this Hellenistic Judaism are especially of great interest for the history of dogma (see Theophrastus' treatise on piety). In the eighth Epistle of Heraclitus, composed by a Hellenistic Jew in the first century, it is said (Bernays, p. 182). “So long a time before, O Hermodorus, saw thee that Sibyl, and even then thou wert” (εἶδρ σε πρὸ ποσούτου αἰῶνος, Ερμόδωρε, ἡ Σίβυλλα ἐκείνη, καὶ τότε ἦσθα). Even here then the notion is expressed that foreknowledge and predestination invest the known and the deter-mined with a kind of existence. Of great importance is the fact that even before Philo, the idea of the wisdom of God creating the world and passing over to men had been hypostatised in Alexandrian Judaism (see Sirach, Baruch. the wisdom of Solomon, Enoch, nay, even the book of Proverbs). But so long as the deutero-canonical Old Testament, and also the Alexandrine and Apocalyptic literature continue in the sad condition in which they are at present, we can form no certain judgment and draw no decided conclusions on the subject. When will the scholar appear who will at length throw light on these writings, and therewith or the section of inner Jewish history most interesting to the Christian theologian? As yet we have only a most thankworthy preliminary study in Schürer's great work, and beside it particular or dilettante attempts which hardly shew what the problem really is, far less solve it. What disclosures even the fourth book of the Maccabees alone yields for the connection of the Old Testament with Hellenism! is the scientific theory which corresponded to this religious conception. The theological system which Philo, in accordance with the example of 110others, gave out as the Mosaic system revealed by God, and proved from the Old Testament by means of the allegoric exegetic method, is essentially identical with the system of Stoicism, which had been mixed with Platonic elements and had lost its Pantheistic materialistic impress. The fundamental idea from which Philo starts is a Platonic one; the dualism of God and the world, spirit and matter. The idea of God itself is therefore abstractly and negatively conceived (God, the real substance which is not finite), and has nothing more in common with the Old Testament conception. The possibility, however, of being able to represent God as acting on matter, which as the finite is the non-existent, and therefore the evil, is reached, with the help of the Stoic λόγοι as working powers and of the Platonic doctrine of archetypal ideas, and in outward connection with the Jewish doctrine of angels and the Greek doctrine of demons, by the introduction of intermediate spiritual beings which, as personal and impersonal powers proceeding from God, are to be thought of as operative causes and as Archetypes. All these beings are, as it were, comprehended in the Logos. By the Logos Philo understands the operative reason of God, and consequently also the power of God. The Logos is to him the thought of God and at the same time the product of his thought, therefore both idea and power. But further, the Logos is God himself on that side of him which is turned to the world, as also the ideal of the world and the unity of the spiritual forces which produce the world and rule in it. He can therefore be put beside God and in opposition to the world; but he can also, so far as the spiritual contents of the world are comprehended in him, be put with the world in contrast with God. The Logos accordingly appears as the Son of God, the foremost creature, the representative, Viceroy, High Priest, and Messenger of God; and again as principle of the world, spirit of the world, nay, as the world itself. He appears as a power and as a person, as a function of God and as an active divine being. Had Philo cancelled the contradiction which lies in this whole conception of the Logos, his system would have been demolished; for that system with its hard antithesis of 111God and the world, needed a mediator who was, and yet was not God, as well as world. From this contrast, however, it further followed that we can only think of a world-formation by the Logos, not of a world-creation.114114“So far as the sensible world is a work of the Logos, it is called νεώτερος ὑιός (quod deus immut. 6. I. 277), or according to Prov. VIII. 22, an offspring of God and wisdom: ἡ δὲ παραδεξαμένη τὸ τοῦ θεοῦ σπέρμα τελεσφόροις ὠδῖσι τὸν μόνον καὶ ἀγαπητὸν αἰσθητὸν ὑιὸν ἀπεκύησε τὸνδε τὸν κὸσμον (de ebriet. 8. I. 361 f.). So far as the Logos is High Priest his relation to the world is symbolically expressed by the garment of the High Priest, to which exegesis the play on the word κόσμος, as meaning both ornament and world, lent its aid.” This speculation (see Siegfried. Philo. 235) is of special importance, for it shews how closely the ideas κὸσμος and λὸγος were connected. Within this world man is regarded as a microcosm, that is, as a being of Divine nature according to his spirit, who belongs to the heavenly world, while the adhering body is a prison which holds men captive in the fetters of sense, that is, of sin.
The Stoic and Platonic ideals and rules of conduct (also the Neo-pythagorean) were united by Philo in the religious Ethic as well as in the Cosmology. Rationalistic moralism is surmounted by the injunction to strive after a higher good lying above virtue. But here, at the same time, is the point at which Philo decidedly goes beyond Platonism, and introduces a new thought into Greek Ethics, and also in correspondence therewith into theoretic philosophy. This thought, which indeed lay altogether in the line of the development of Greek philosophy, was not, however, pursued by Philo into all its consequences, though it was the expression of a new frame of mind. While the highest good is resolved by Plato and his successors into knowledge of truth, which truth, together with the idea of God, lies in a sphere really accessible to the intellectual powers of the human spirit, the highest good, the Divine original being, is considered by Philo, though not invariably, to be above reason, and the power of comprehending it is denied to the human intellect. This assumption, a concession which Greek speculation was compelled to make to positive religion for the supremacy which was yielded to it, was to have far-reaching consequences in the future. A place was now for the first time provided in philosophy for a 112mythology to be regarded as revelation. The highest truths which could not otherwise be reached, might be sought for in the oracles of the Deity; for knowledge resting on itself had learnt by experience its inability to attain to the truth in which blessedness consists. In this very experience the intellectualism of Greek Ethics was, not indeed cancelled, but surmounted. The injunction to free oneself from sense and strive upwards by means of knowledge, remained; but the wings of the thinking mind bore it only to the entrance of the sanctuary. Only ecstasy produced by God himself was able to lead to the reality above reason. The great novelties in the system of Philo, though in a certain sense the way had al-ready been prepared for them, are the introduction of the idea of a philosophy of revelation and the advance beyond the absolute intellectualism of Greek philosophy, an advance based on scepticism, but also on the deep-felt needs of life. Only the germs of these are found in Philo, but they are already operative. They are innovations of world-wide importance: for in them the covenant between the thoughts of reason on the one hand, and the belief in revelation and mysticism on the other, is already so completed that neither by itself could permanently maintain the supremacy. Thought about the world was henceforth dependent, not only on practical motives, it is always that, but on the need of a blessedness and peace which is higher than all reason. It might, perhaps, be allowable to say that Philo was the first who, as a philosopher, plainly expressed that need, just because he was not only a Greek, but also a Jew.115115Of all the Greek Philosophers of the second century, Plutarch of Chäronea, died c. 125 A.D., and Numenius of Apamea, second half of the second century, approach nearest to Philo; but the latter of the two was undoubtedly familiar with Jewish philosophy, specially with Philo, and probably also with Christian writings.
Apart from the extremes into which the ethical counsels of Philo run, they contain nothing that had not been demanded by philosophers before him. The purifying of the affections, the renunciation of sensuality, the acquisition of the four cardinal virtues, the greatest possible simplicity of life, as well 113as a cosmopolitan disposition are enjoined.116116As to the way in which Philo (see also 4 Maccab. V. 24) learned to connect the Stoic ethics with the authority of the Torah, as was also done by the Palestinian Midrash, and represented the Torah as the foundation of the world, and therewith as the law of nature: see Siegfried, Philo, p. 156. But the attainment of the highest morality by our own strength is despaired of, and man is directed beyond himself to God's assistance. Redemption begins with the spirit reflecting on its own condition; it advances by a knowledge of the world and of the Logos, and it is perfected, after complete asceticism, by mystic ecstatic contemplation in which a man loses himself, but in return is entirely filled and moved by God.117117Philo by his exhortations to seek the blessed life, has by no means broken with the intellectualism of the Greek philosophy, he has only gone beyond it. The way of knowledge and speculation is to him also the way of religion and morality. But his formal principle is supernatural and leads to a supernatural knowledge which finally passes over into sight. In this condition man has a foretaste of the blessedness which shall be given him when the soul, freed from the body, will be restored to its true existence as a heavenly being.
This system, notwithstanding its appeal to revelation, has, in the strict sense of the word, no place for Messianic hopes, of which nothing but very insignificant rudiments are found in Philo. But he was really animated by the hope of a glorious time to come for Judaism. The synthesis of the Messiah and the Logos did not lie within his horizon.118118But everything was now ready for this synthesis, so that it could be, and immediately was, completed by Christian philosophers.
3. Neither Philo's philosophy of religion, nor the mode of thought from which it springs, exercised any appreciable influence on the first generation of believers in Christ.119119We cannot discover Philo's influence in the writings of Paul. But here again we must remember that the scripture learning of Palestinian teachers developed speculations which appear closely related to the Alexandrian, and partly are so, but yet cannot be deduced from them. The element common to them must, for the present at least, be deduced from the harmony of conditions in which the different nations of the East were at that time placed, a harmony which we cannot exactly measure. But its practical ground-thoughts, though in different degrees, must have found admission very early into the Jewish Christian circles of the Diaspora, and through them to Gentile Christian circles also. Philo's philosophy of religion became 114operative among Christian teachers from the beginning of the second century,120120The conception of God's relation to the world as given in the fourth Gospel is not Philonic. The Logos doctrine there is therefore essentially not that of Philo. (Against Kuenen and others, see p. 93.) and at a later period actually obtained the significance of a standard of Christian theology, Philo gaining a place among Christian writers. The systems of Valentinus and Origen presuppose that of Philo. It can no longer, however, be shewn with certainty how far the direct influence of Philo reached, as the development of religious ideas in the second century took a direction which necessarily led to views similar to those which Philo had anticipated (see § 6, and the whole following account).
Supplement.—The hermeneutic principles (the “Biblical-alchemy”), above all, became of the utmost importance for the following period. These were partly invented by Philo himself, partly traditional,—the Haggadic rules of exposition and the hermeneutic principles of the Stoics having already at an earlier period been united in Alexandria. They fall into two main classes: “first, those according to which the literal sense is excluded, and the allegoric proved to be the only possible one; and then, those according to which the allegoric sense is discovered as standing beside and above the literal sense.”121121Siegfried (Philo. pp. 160–197) has presented in detail Philo's allegorical interpretation of scripture, his hermeneutic principles and their application. Without an exact knowledge of these principles we cannot understand the Scripture expositions of the Fathers, and therefore also cannot do them justice. That these rules permitted the discovery of a new sense by minute changes within a word, was a point of special importance.122122See Siegfried, Philo, p. 176. Yet, as a rule, the method of isolating and adapting passages of scripture, and the method of unlimited combination were sufficient. Christian teachers went still further in this direction, and, as can be proved, altered the text of the Septuagint in order to make more definite what suggested itself to them as the meaning of a passage, or in order to give a satisfactory meaning to a sentence which appeared to them unmeaning or offensive.123123Numerous examples of this may he found in the epistle of Barnabas (see cc. 4–9), and in the dialogue of Justin with Trypho (here they are objects of controversy, see cc. 71–73, 120), but also in many other Christian writings, (e.g. 1 Clem. ad Cor. VIII. 3: XVII. 6: XXIII. 3, 4: XXVI. 5: XLVI. 2: 2 Clem. XIII. 2). These Christian additions were long retained in the Latin Bible, (see also Lactantius and other Latins: Pseudo-Cyprian de aleat. 2 etc.), the most celebrated of them is the addition “a ligno” to “dominus regnavit” in Psalm XCVI., see Credner, Beiträge II. The treatment of the Old Testament in the epistle of Barnabas is specially instructive, and exhibits the greatest formal agreement with that of Philo. We may close here with the words in which Siegfried sums up his judgment on Philo: “No Jewish writer has contributed so much as Philo to the breaking up of particularism and the dissolution of Judaism. The history of his people, though he believed in it literally, was in its main points a didactic allegoric poem for enabling him to inculcate the doctrine that man attains the vision of God by mortification of the flesh. The law was regarded by him as the best guide to this, but it had lost its exclusive value, as it was admitted to be possible to reach the goal without it, and it had, besides, its aim outside itself. The God of Philo was no longer the old living God of Israel, but an imaginary being who, to obtain power over the world, needed a Logos by whom the palladium of Israel, the unity of God, was taken a prey. So Israel lost everything which had hitherto characterised her.” Nay, attempts were not wanting 115among Christians in the second century—they were aided by the uncertainty that existed about the extent of the Septuagint, and by the want of plain predictions about the death upon the cross—to determine the Old Testament canon in accordance with new principles; that is, to alter the text on the plea that the Jews had corrupted it, and to insert new books into the Old Testament, above all, Jewish Apocalypses revised in a Christian sense. Tertullian (de cultu fem. 1. 3,) furnishes a good example of the latter. “Scio scripturam Enoch, quæ hunc ordinem angelis dedit, non recipi a quibusdam, quia nec in armorium Judaicum admittitur . . . sed cum Enoch eadem scriptura etiam de domino prædicarit, a nobis quidem nihil omnino reiciendum est quod pertinet ad nos. Et legimus omnem scripturam ædificationi habilem divinitus inspirari. A Judæis potest jam videri propterea reiecta, sicut et cetera fera quæ Christum sonant. . . . . Eo accedit quod Enoch apud Judam apostolum testimonium possidet.” Compare also the history of the Apocalypse of Ezra in the Latin Bible (Old Testament). Not only the genuine Greek portions of the Septuagint, but also many Apocalypses were quoted by Christians in the second century as of equal value with the Old Testament. It was the New Testament that slowly put an end to these tendencies towards the formation of a Christian Old Testament.116
To find the spiritual meaning of the sacred text, partly beside the literal, partly by excluding it, became the watchword for the “scientific” Christian theology which was possible only on this basis, as it endeavoured to reduce the immense and dissimilar material of the Old Testament to unity with the Gospel, and both with the religious and scientific culture of the Greeks,—yet without knowing a relative standard, the application of which would alone have rendered possible in a loyal way the solution of the task. Here, Philo was the master; for he first to a great extent poured the new wine into old bottles. Such a procedure is warranted by its final purpose; for history is a unity. But applied in a pedantic and stringently dogmatic way it is a source of deception, of untruthfulness, and finally of total blindness.
Literature.—Gefrörer, Das Jahr des Heils, 1838. Parthey, Das Alexandr. Museum, 1838. Matter, Hist. de l’école d’Alex. 1840. Dähne, Gesch. Darstellung der jüd.-alex. Religionsphilos. 1834. Zeller, Die Philosophie der Griechen, III. 2. 3rd Edition. Mommsen, History of Rome, Vol. V. Siegfried, Philo van Alex. 1875. Massebieau, Le Classement des Œuvres de Philon. 1889. Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek, 1889. Drummond, Philo Judæus, 1888. Bigg, The Christian Platonists of Alexandria, 1886. Schürer, History of the Jewish People. The investigations of Freudenthal (Hellenistische Studien), and Bernays (Ueber das phokylideische Gedicht; Theophrastos' Schrift über Frömmigkeit; Die heraklitischen Briefe). Kuenen, Hibbert Lectures: “Christian Theology could have made and has made much use of Hellenism. But the Christian religion cannot have sprung from this source.” Havet thinks otherwise, though in the fourth volume of his “Origines” he has made unexpected admissions.
§ 6. The Religious Dispositions of the Greeks and Romans in the first two centuries, and the current Græco-Roman Philosophy of Religion.
1. After the national religion and the religious sense generally in cultured circles had been all but lost in the age of 117Cicero and Augustus, there is noticeable in the Græco-Roman world from the beginning of the second century a revival of religious feeling which embraced all classes of society, and appears, especially from the middle of that century, to have increased from decennium to decennium.124124Proofs in Friedländer, Sittengeschichte, vol. 3. Parallel with it went the not altogether unsuccessful attempt to restore the old national worship, religious usages, oracles, etc. In these attempts, however, which were partly superficial and artificial, the new religious needs found neither vigorous nor clear expression. These needs rather sought new forms of satisfaction corresponding to the wholly changed conditions or the time, including intercourse and mixing of the nations; decay of the old republican orders, divisions and ranks; monarchy and absolutism and social crises; pauperism; influence of philosophy on the domain of public morality and law; cosmopolitanism and the rights of man; influx of Oriental cults into the West; knowledge of the world and disgust with it. The decay of the old political cults and syncretism produced a disposition in favour of monotheism both among the cultured classes who had been prepared for it by philosophy, and also gradually among the masses. Religion and individual morality became more closely connected. There was developed a corresponding attempt at spiritualising the worship alongside of and within the ceremonial forms, and at giving it a direction towards the moral elevation of man through the ideas of moral personality, conscience, and purity, The ideas of repentance and of expiation and healing of the soul became of special importance, and consequently such Oriental cults came to the front as required the former and guaranteed the latter. But what was sought above all, was to enter into an inner union with the Deity, to be saved by him and become a partaker in the possession and enjoyment of his life. The worshipper consequently longed to find a “præsens numen” and the revelation of him in the cultus, and hoped to put himself in possession of the Deity by asceticism and mysterious rites. This new piety longed for health and purity of soul, and elevation above earthly things, and in connection with these a divine, that 118is a painless and eternal, life beyond the grave (“renatus in æternum taurobolio”). A world beyond was desired, sought for, and viewed with an uncertain eye. By detachment from earthly things and the healing of its diseases (the passions) the freed, new born soul should return to its divine nature and existence. It is not a hope of immortality such as the ancients had dreamed of for their heroes, where they continue, as it were, their earthly existence in blessed enjoyment. To the more highly pitched self-consciousness this life had become a burden, and in the miseries of the present, one hoped for a future life in which the pain and vulgarity of the unreal life of earth would be completely laid aside (Ἐγκράτεια and ἀνάστασις). If the new moralistic feature stood out still more emphatically in the piety of the second century, it vanished more and more behind the religious feature, the longing after life125125See the chapter on belief in immortality in Friedländer, Sittengesch. Roms Bde. 3. Among the numerous mysteries known to us, that of Mythras deserves special consideration. From the middle of the second century the Church Fathers saw in it, above all, the caricature of the Church. The worship of Mithras had its redeemer, its mediator, hierarchy, sacrifice, baptism and sacred meal. The ideas of expiation, immortality, and the Redeemer God, were very vividly present in this cult, which of course, in later times, borrowed from Christianity: see the accounts of Marquardt, Réville, and the Essay of Sayous, Le Taurobole in the Rev. de l’Hist. des Religions, 1887, where the earliest literature is also utilised. The worship of Mithras in the third century became the most powerful rival of Christianity. In connection with this should be specially noted the cult of Æsculapius, the God who helps the body and the soul; see my essay “Medicinisches aus der ältesten Kirchengeschichte,” 1892. p. 93 ff. and after a Redeemer God. No one could any longer be a God who was not also a saviour.126126Hence the wide prevalence of the cult of Æsculapius.
With all this Polytheism was not suppressed, but only put into a subordinate place. On the contrary, it was as lively and active as ever. For the idea of a numen supremum did not exclude belief in the existence and manifestation of sub-ordinate deities. Apotheosis came into currency. The old state religion first attained its highest and most powerful expression in the worship of the emperor, (the emperor glorified as “dominus ac deus noster”,127127Dominus in certain circumstances means more than deus; see Tertull. Apol. It signifies more than Soter: see Irenæus I. 1. 3; . . . . . τὸν σωτῆρα λέγουσιν, οὐδὲ γὰρ κύριον ὀνομάζειν αὐτὸν θὲλουσιν—κύριος and δεσπότης are almost synonymous. See Philo. Quis. rer. div. heres. 6: συνώνυμα ταῦτα εἶναι λέγεται. as “præsens et corporalis deus”, 119the Antinous cult, etc.), and in many circles an incarnate ideal in the present or the past was sought, which might be worshipped as revealer of God and as God, and which might be an example of life and an assurance of religious hope. Apotheosis became less offensive in proportion as, in connection with the fuller recognition of the spiritual dignity of man, the estimate of the soul, the spirit, as of supramundane nature, and the hope of its eternal continuance in a form of existence befitting it, became more general. That was the import of the message preached by the Cynics and the Stoics, that the truly wise man is Lord, Messenger of God, and God upon the earth. On the other hand, the popular belief clung to the idea that the gods could appear and be visible in human form, and this faith, though mocked by the cultured, gained numerous adherents, even among them, in the age of the Antonines.128128We must give special attention here to the variability and elasticity of the concept “θεὸς”, and indeed among the cultured as well as the uncultured (Orig. prolegg. in Psalm. in Pitra, Anal. T. II. p. 437i according to a Stoic source; κατ᾽ ἄλλον δέ τρόπον λέγεσθαι θεὸν ζῷον ἀθάνατον λογικὸν σπουδαῖον, ὥστε πᾶσαν ἀστείαν ψυχήν θεὸν ὑπάρχειν, κἃν περιόχηται, ἄλλως δὲ λενεσθαι θεὸν τὸ καθ᾽ αὑτὸ ὄν ζῷνν ἀθάνατον ὡς τὰ ἐν ἀνθρωποις σοφοῖς περιεχομένας ψυχὰς μὴ ὑπάρχειν θεούς). They still regarded the Gods as passionless, blessed men living for ever. The idea therefore of a θεοποίησις, and on the other hand, the idea of the appearance of the Gods in human form presented no difficulty (see Acts XIV. 11: XXVIII. 6). But philosophic speculation—the Platonic, as well as in yet greater measure the Stoic, and in the greatest measure of all the Cynic—had led to the recognition of something divine in man's spirit (πνεῦμα, νοῦς). Marcus Aurelius in his Meditations frequently speaks of the God who dwells in us. Clement of Alexandria (Strom. VI. 14. 113) says: οὕτως δύναμιν λαβοῦσα κυριακὴν ἡ ψυχὴ μελετᾷ εἶναι θεός, κακὸν μὲν οὐδὲν ἄλλο πλὴν ἀγνοίας εἶναι νομίζουσα. In Bernays' Heraclitian Epistles, pp. 37 f. 135 f., will be found a valuable exposition of the Stoic [Heraclitian] thesis and its history, that men are Gods. See Norden, Beitrage zur Gesch. d. griech. Philos. Jahrb. f. klass. Philol. XIX. Suppl. Bd. p. 373 ff., about the Cynic Philosopher who, contemplating the life and activity of man [κατάσκοπος], becomes its ἐπίσκοπος, and further κύριός, ἄγγελος θεοῦ, θεὸς ἐν ἀνθρώποις. The passages which he adduces are of importance for the history of dogma in a twofold respect. (1) They present remarkable parallels to Christiology [one even finds the designations, κύριος, ἄγγελος, κατάσκοπος, ἐπίσκοπος, θεὸς associated with the philosophers as with Christ, e.g, in Justin; nay, the Cynics and Neoplatonics speak of ἐπίσκοποι δαίμονες; cf. also the remarkable narrative in Laertius VI. 102, concerning the Cynic Menedemus; οὗτὸς, καθά φησιν Ἰππόβοτος, εἰς ποσος τον τερατείας ἤλασεν, ὥστε Ἐρινύος ἀναλαβὼν σχῆμα περιῄει, λέγων ἐπισκοπος ἀφἶχθαι ἐξ Ἅιδου τῶν ἁμαρτόμένων, ὅπως πάλιν κατιὼν ταςτα ἀπαγγέλλοι τοῖς ἐκεῖ, δαίμοσιν (2) They also explain how the ecclesiastical ἐπίσκοποι came to be so highly prized, inasmuch as these also were from a very early period regarded as mediators between God and man, and considered as ἐν ἀνθρώποις θεοί). There where not a few who in the first and second centuries, appeared with the claim to be regarded as a God or an organ inspired and chosen by God (Simon Magus [cf. the manner of his treatment in Hippol. Philos. VI. 8: see also Clem. Hom. II. 27], Apollonius of Tyana (?), see further Tacitus Hist. II. 51: “Mariccus . . . . iamque adsertor Galliarum et deus, nomen id sibi indiderat,”; here belongs also the gradually developing worship of the Emperor: “dominus ac deus noster.” Cf. Augustus, Inscription of the year 25/24 B.C. in Egypt, [where the Ptolemies were for long described as Gods]: Ύπὲρ Καίσαρος Αὐτοκράττορος θεοῦ (Zeitschrift für Ægypt. Sprache. XXXI. Bd. p. 3). Domitian: θεὸς Ἀδριανός, Kaibel Inscr. Gr. 829. 1053. θεός Σεουῆρος Ευσεβῆς, 1061—the Antinous cult with its prophets. See also Josephus on Herod Agrippa. Antiq. XIX. 8. 2. (Euseb. H. E. II. Io). The flatterers said to him, θεὸν προσαγορεύοντες· εἰ καί μέχρι νῦν ὡς ἄνθρωπον ἐφοβήθημεν, ἀλλὰ τούντεῦθεν κρείττονα σε θνητῆς τῆς φύσεως ὁμολογοῦμεν. Herod himself, § 7, says to his friends in his sickness; ὁ θεὸς ὑμῖν ἐγὼ ἤδη καταστρέφειν ἐπιτάττομαι τὸν βίον . . . . ὁ κληθεις ἀθάνατος ὑφ᾽ ἡμῶν ἤδη θανεῖν ἀπάγομαι). On the other hand, we must mention the worship of the founder in some philosophic schools, especially among the Epicureans. Epictetus says (Moral. 15), Diogenes and Heraclitus and those like them are justly called Gods. Very instructive in this connection are the reproaches of the heathen against the Christians, and of Christian partisans against one another with regard to the almost divine veneration of their teachers. Lucian (Peregr. II) reproaches the Christians in Syria for having regarded Peregrinus as a God and a new Socrates. The heathen in Smyrna, after the burning of Polycarp, feared that the Christians would begin to pay him divine honours (Euseb. H. E. IV. 15. 41). Cæcilius in Minucius Felix speaks of divine honours being paid by Christians to priests. (Octav. IX. 10.) The Antimontanist (Euseb. H. E. V. 18. 6) asserts that the Montanists worship their prophet and Alexander the Confessor as divine. The opponents of the Roman Adoptians (Euseb. H. E. V. 28) reproach them with praying to Galen. There are many passages in which the Gnostics are reproached with paying Divine honours to the heads of their schools, and for many Gnostic schools (the Carpocratians, for example) the reproach seems to have been just. All this is extremely instructive. The genius, the hero, the founder of a new school who promises to shew the certain way to the vita beata, the emperor, the philosopher, (numerous Stoic passages might be noted here) finally man, in so far as he is inhabited by νοῦς—could all somehow be considered as θεοί, so elastic was the concept. All these instances of Apotheosis in no way endangered the Monotheism which had been developed from the mixture of Gods and from philosophy; for the one supreme Godhead can unfold his inexhaustible essence in a variety of existences, which, while his creatures as to their origin, are parts of his essence as to their contents. This Monotheism does not yet exactly disclaim its Polytheistic origin. The Christian, Hermas, says to his Mistress (Vis. I. 1. 7) οὐ πάντοτέ σε ὡς θεάν ἡγησάμην, and the author of the Epistle of Diognetus writes (X. 6) ταῦτα τοις ἐπιδεομένοις χορηγῶν (i.e., the rich man) θεὸς γίνεται τῶν λαμβανόντων. That the concept θεὸς was again used only of one God, was due to the fact that one now started from the definition “qui vitam æternam habet,” and again from the definition “qui est super omnia et originem nescit.” From the latter followed the absolute unity of God, from the former a plurality of Gods. Both could be so harmonised (see Tertull. adv. Prax. and Novat. de Trinit.) that one could assume that the God qui est super omnia, might allow his monarchy to be administered by several persons, and might dispense the gift of immortality and with it a relative divinity.120
The new thing which was here developed, continued to be greatly obscured by the old forms of worship which reasons of state and pious custom maintained. And the new piety, dispensing with a fixed foundation, groped uncertainly around, adapting the old rather than rejecting it. The old religious practices of the Fathers asserted themselves in public life generally, and the reception of new cults by the state, which was certainly effected, though with many checks, did not disturb them. The old religious customs stood out especially on state holidays, in the games in honour of the Gods, frequently degenerating into shameless immorality, but yet protecting the institutions of the state. The patriot, the wise man, the sceptic, and the pious man compounded with them, for they had not really at bottom outgrown them, and they 121knew of nothing better to substitute for the services they still rendered to society (see the λόγος ἀληθής of Celsus).
2. The system of associations, naturalised centuries before among the Greeks, was developed under the social and political pressure of the empire, and was greatly extended by the change of moral and religious ideas. The free unions, which, as a rule, had a religious element and were established for mutual help, support, or edification, balanced to some extent the prevailing social cleavage, by a free democratic organisation. They gave to many individuals in their small circle the rights which they did not possess in the great world, and were frequently of service in obtaining admission for new cults. Even the new piety and cosmopolitan disposition seem to have turned to them in order to find within them forms of expression. But the time had not come for the greater corporate unions, and of an organised connection of societies in one city with those of another we know nothing. The state kept these 122associations under strict control. It granted them only to the poorest classes (collegia tenuiorum) and had the strictest laws in readiness for them. These free unions, however, did not in their historical importance approach the fabric of the Roman state in which they stood. That represented the union of the greater part of humanity under one head, and also more and more under one law. Its capital was the capital of the world, and also, from the beginning of the third century, of religious syncretism. Hither migrated all who desired to exercise an influence on the great scale: Jew, Chaldean, Syrian priest, and Neoplatonic teacher. Law and Justice radiated from Rome to the provinces, and in their light nationalities faded away, and a cosmopolitanism was developed which pointed beyond itself, because the moral spirit can never find its satisfaction in that which is realised. When that spirit finally turned away from all political life, and after having laboured for the ennobling of the empire, applied itself, in Neoplatonism, to the idea of a new and free union of men, this certainly was the result of the felt failure of the great creation, but it nevertheless had that creation for its presupposition. The Church appropriated piecemeal the great apparatus of the Roman state, and gave new powers, new significance and respect to every article that had been depreciated. But what is of greatest importance is that the Church by her preaching would never have gained whole circles, but only individuals, had not the universal state already produced a neutralising of nationalities and brought men nearer each other in temper and disposition.
3. Perhaps the most decisive factor in bringing about the revolution of religious and moral convictions and moods, was philosophy, which in almost all its schools and representatives, had deepened ethics, and set it more and more in the fore-ground. After Possidonius, Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius of the Stoical school, and men like Plutarch of the Platonic, attained to an ethical view, which, though not very clear in principle (knowledge, resignation, trust in God), is hardly capable of improvement in details. Common to them all, as distinguished from the early Stoics, is the value put upon the soul, (not the entire human nature), while in some 123of them there comes clearly to the front a religious mood, a longing for divine help, for redemption and a blessed life beyond the grave, the effort to obtain and communicate a religious philosophical therapeutic of the soul.129129The longing for redemption and divine help is, for example, clearer in Seneca than in the Christian philosopher, Minucius Felix: see Kühn, Der Octavius des M. F. 1882, and Theol. Lit. Ztg. 1883. No. 6. From the beginning of the second century, however, already announced itself that eclectic philosophy based on Platonism, which after two or three generations appeared in the form of a school, and after three generations more was to triumph over all other schools. The several elements of the Neoplatonic philosophy, as they were already foreshadowed in Philo, are clearly seen in the second century, viz., the dualistic opposition of the divine and the earthly, the abstract conception of God, the assertion of the unknowableness of God, scepticism with regard to sensuous experience, and distrust with regard to the powers of the understanding, with a greater readiness to examine things and turn to account the result of former scientific labour; further, the demand of emancipation from sensuality by means of asceticism, the need of authority, belief in a higher revelation, and the fusion of science and religion. The legitimising of religious fancy in the province of philosophy was already begun. The myth was no longer merely tolerated and re-interpreted as formerly, but precisely the mythic form with the meaning imported into it was the precious element.130130See the so-called Neopythagorean philosophers and the so-called forerunners of Neoplatonism. (Cf. Bigg, The Platonists of Alexandria, p. 250, as to Numenius.) Unfortunately, we have as yet no sufficient investigation of the question what influence, if any, the Jewish Alexandrian Philosophy of religion had on the development of Greek philosophy in the second and third centuries. The answering of the question would be of the greatest importance. But at present it cannot even be said whether the Jewish philosophy of religion had any influence on the genesis of Neoplatonism. On the relation of Neoplatonism to Christianity and their mutual approximation, see the excellent account in Tzschirner, Fall des Heidenthums, pp. 574-618. Cf. also Réville,, La Religion à Rome. 1886. There were, however, in the second century numerous representatives of every possible philosophic view. To pass over the frivolous writers of the day, the Cynics criticised the traditional 124mythology in the interests of morality and religion.131131The Christians, that is the Christian preachers, were most in agreement with the Cynics (see Lucian's Peregrinus Proteus), both on the negative and on the positive side; but for that very reason they were hard on one another (Justin and Tatian against Crescens)—not only because the Christians gave a different basis for the right mode of life from the Cynics, but above all, because they did not approve of the self-conscious, contemptuous, proud disposition which Cynicism produced in many of its adherents. Morality frequently underwent change for the worse in the hands of Cynics, and became the morality of a “Gentleman,” such as we have also experience of in modern Cynicism. But there were also men who opposed the “ne quid nimis” to every form of practical scepticism, and to religion at the same time, and were above all intent on preserving the state and society, and on fostering the existing arrangements which appeared to be threatened far more by an intrusive religious than by a nihilistic philosophy.132132The attitude of Celsus, the opponent of the Christians, is specially instructive here. Yet men whose interest was ultimately practical and political, became ever more rare, especially as from the death of Marcus Aurelius, the maintenance of the state had to be left more and more to the sword of the Generals. The general conditions from the end of the second century were favourable to a philosophy which no longer in any respect took into real consideration the old forms of the state.
The theosophic philosophy which was prepared for in the second century,133133For the knowledge of the spread of the idealistic philosophy the statement of Origen (c. Celsum VI. 2) that Epictetus was admired not only by scholars, but also by ordinary people who felt in themselves the impulse to be raised to something higher, is well worthy of notice. was, from the stand-point of enlightenment and knowledge of nature, a relapse; but it was the expression of a deeper religious need, and of a self-knowledge such as had not been in existence at an earlier period. The final consequences of that revolution in philosophy, which made consideration of the inner life the starting-point of thought about the world, only now began to be developed. The ideas of a divine, gracious providence, of the relationship of all men, of universal brotherly love, of a ready forgiveness of wrong, of forbearing patience, of insight into one's own weakness125—affected no doubt with many shadows—became, for wide circles, a result of the practical philosophy of the Greeks as well as the conviction of inherent sinfulness, the need of redemption, and the eternal value and dignity of a human soul which finds rest only in God. These ideas, convictions and rules, had been picked up in the long journey from Socrates to Ammonius Saccas: at first, and for long afterwards, they crippled the interest in a rational knowledge of the world; but they deepened and enriched the inner life, and therewith the source of all knowledge. Those ideas, however, lacked as yet the certain coherence, but, above all, the authority which could have raised them above the region of wishes, presentiments, and strivings, and have given them normative authority in a community of men. There was no sure revelation, and no view of history which could be put in the place of the no longer prized political history of the nation or state to which one belonged.134134This point was of importance for the propaganda of Christianity among the cultured. There seemed to be given here a reliable, because revealed, Cosmology and history of the world—which already contained the foundation of everything worth knowing. Both were needed and both were here set forth in closest union. There was, in fact, no such thing as certainty. In like manner, there was no power which might overturn idolatry and abolish the old, and therefore one did not get beyond the wavering between self-deification, fear of God, and deification of nature. The glory is all the greater of those statesmen and jurists who, in the second and third centuries, introduced human ideas of the Stoics into the legal arrangements of the empire, and raised them to standards. And we must value all the more the numerous undertakings and performances in which it appeared that the new view of life was powerful enough in individuals to beget a corresponding practice even without a sure belief in revelation.135135The universalism as reached by the Stoics is certainly again threatened by the self-righteous and self-complacent distinction between men of virtue and men of pleasure, who, properly speaking, are not men. Aristotle had already dealt with the virtuous elite in a notable way. He says (Polit. 3. 13. p. 1284), that men who are distinguished by perfect virtue should not be put on a level with the ordinary mass, and should not be subjected to the constraints of a law adapted to the average man. “There is no law for these elect, who are a law to themselves.”126
Supplement.—For the correct understanding of the beginning of Christian theology, that is, for the Apologetic and Gnosis, it is important to note where they are dependent on Stoic and where on Platonic lines of thought. Platonism and Stoicism, in the second century, appeared in union with each other: but up to a certain point they may be distinguished in the common channel in which they flow. Wherever Stoicism prevailed in religious thought and feeling, as, for example, in Marcus Aurelius, religion gains currency as natural religion in the most comprehensive sense of the word. The idea of revelation or redemption scarcely emerges. To this rationalism the objects of knowledge are unvarying, ever the same: even cosmology attracts interest only in a very small degree. Myth and history are pageantry and masks. Moral ideas (virtues and duties) dominate even the religious sphere, which in its final basis has no independent authority. The interest in psychology and apologetic is very pronounced. On the other hand, the emphasis which, in principle, is put on the contrast of spirit and matter, God and the world, had for results: inability to rest in the actual realities of the cosmos, efforts to unriddle the history of the universe backwards and forwards, recognition of this process as the essential task of theoretic philosophy, and a deep, yearning conviction that the course of the world needs assistance. Here were given the conditions for the ideas of revelation, redemption, etc., and the restless search for powers from whom help might come, received here also a scientific justification. The rationalistic apologetic interests thereby fell into the background: contemplation and historical description predominated.136136Notions of pre-existence were readily suggested by the Platonic philosophy; yet this whole philosophy rests on the fact that one again posits the thing (after stripping it of certain marks as accidental or worthless, or ostensibly foreign to it) in order to express its value in this form, and hold fast the permanent in the change of the phenomena.
The stages in the ecclesiastical history of dogma, from the middle of the first to the middle of the fifth century, correspond to the stages in the history of the ancient religion during the same period. The Apologists, Irenæus, Tertullian, 127Hippolytus; the Alexandrians; Methodius, and the Cappadocians; Dionysius, the Areopagite, have their parallels in Seneca, Marcus Aurelius; Plutarch, Epictetus, Numenius; Plotinus, Porphyry; Iamblichus and Proclus.
But it is not only Greek philosophy that comes into question for the history of Christian dogma. The whole of Greek culture must be taken into account. In his posthumous work Hatch has shewn in a masterly way how that is to be done. He describes the Grammar, the Rhetoric, the learned Profession, the Schools, the Exegesis, the Homilies, etc., of the Greeks, and everywhere shews how they passed over into the Church, thus exhibiting the Philosophy, the Ethic, the speculative Theology, the Mysteries, etc., of the Greeks, as the main factors in the process of forming the ecclesiastical mode of thought.
But, besides the Greek, there is no mistaking the special influence of Romish ideas and customs upon the Christian Church. The following points specially claim attention: (1) The conception of the contents of the Gospel and its application as “salus legitima,” with the results which followed from the naturalising of this idea. (2) The conception of the word of Revelation, the Bible, etc., as “lex.” (3) The idea of tradition in its relation to the Romish idea. (4) The Episcopal constitution of the Church, including the idea of succession, of the Primateship and universal Episcopate, in their dependence on Romish ideas and institutions (the Ecclesiastical organisation in its dependence on the Roman Empire). (5) The separation of the idea of the “sacrement” from that of the “mystery,” and the development of the forensic discipline of penance. The investigation has to proceed in a historical line, described by the following series of chapters: Rome and Tertullian; Rome and Cyprian; Rome, Optatus and Augustine; Rome and the Popes of the fifth century. We have to shew how, by the power of her constitution and the earnestness and consistency of her policy, Rome a second time, step by step, conquered the world, but this time the Christian world.137137See Tzschirn. i. d. Ztschr. f. K.-Gesch. XII. p 215 if. “The genesis of the Romish Church in the second century.” What he presents is no doubt partly incomplete, partly overdone and not proved: yet much of what he states is useful.128
Greek philosophy exercised the greatest influence not only on the Christian mode of thought, but also through that, on the institutions of the Church. The Church never indeed be-came a philosophic school: but yet in her was realised in a peculiar way, that which the Stoics and the Cynics had aimed at. The Stoic (Cynic) Philosopher also belonged to the factors from which the Christian Priests or Bishops were formed. That the old bearers of the Spirit—Apostles, Prophets, Teachers—have been changed into a class of professional moralists and preachers, who bridle the people by counsel and reproof (νουθετεῖν καὶ ἐλέγχειν), that this class considers itself and de-sires to be considered as a mediating Kingly Divine class, that its representatives became “Lords” and let themselves be called “Lords,” all this was prefigured in the Stoic wise man and in the Cynic Missionary. But so far as these several “Kings and Lords” are united in the idea and reality of the Church and are subject to it, the Platonic idea of the republic goes beyond the Stoic and Cynic ideals, and subordinates them to it. But this Platonic ideal has again obtained its political realisation in the Church through the very concrete laws of the Roman Empire, which were more and more adopted, or taken possession of. Consequently, in the completed Church we find again the philosophic schools and the Roman Empire.
Literature.—Besides the older works of Tzschirner, Döllinger, Burckhardt, Preller, see Friedländer, Darstellungen aus der Sittengesch. Roms in der Zeit von August bis zum Ausgang der Antonine, 3 Bd. Aufl. Boissier, La Religion Romaine d'Auguste aux Antonins, 2 Bd. 1874. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire before 170. London, 1893. Réville, La Religion à Rome sous les Sévères, 1886. Schiller, Geschichte der Röm Kaiserzeit, 1883. Marquardt, Römische Staatsverwaltung, 3 Bde. 1878. Foucart, Les Associations Relig. chez les Grecs, 1873. Liebeman, Z. Gesch. u. Organisation d. Röm. Vereinswesen, 189o. K. J. Neumann, Der Röm. Staat und die allg. Kirche, Bd. I. 1890. Leopold Schmidt, Die Ethik der alten Griechen, 2 Bd. 1882. Heinrici, Die Christengemeinde 129Korinth's und die religiösen Genossenschaften der Griechen, in der Ztschr. f. wissensch. Theol. 1876-77. Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church. Buechner, De neocoria, 1888. Hirschfeld. Z. Gesch. d. röm. Kaisercultus. The Histories of Philosophy by Zeller, Erdmann, Ueberweg, Strümpell, Windelband, etc. Heinze, Die Lehre vom Logos in der Griech. Philosophie, 1872. By same Author, Der Eudämonismus in der Griech. Philosophic, 1883. Hirzel, Untersuchungen zu Cicero's philos. Schriften, 3 Thle. 1877-1883. These investigations are of special value for the history of dogma, because they set forth with the greatest accuracy and care, the later developments of the great Greek philosophic schools, especially on Roman soil. We must refer specially to the discussions on the influence of the Roman on the Greek Philosophy. Volkmann, Die Rhetorik der Griechen und Römer, 1872.
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