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§ 30. The popular Sentiment in regard to Christ’s Connexion with the Schools.

Had Jesus been trained in the Jewish seminaries,8080   Dr. Paulus supposes that Christ, because he was called Rabbi, not only by his disciples, but by the distinguished Rabbi Nicodemus, and even by his enemies (John, vi., 25), obtained that title in the way usual among the Jews; and he intimates that Christ studied with the rabbis of the Essenes, and perhaps obtained the degree from them (Life of Christ, i., 1, 122). But when we remember that he stood at the head of a party which recognized his prophetic character, we can see why others, who did not recognize it, would yet call him their master, e. g., Matt., xvii., 24; ὁ διδάσκαλος ὑμῶν. Nicodemus, however, did really acknowledge him as a Divine teacher; nor were those who addressed him as Rabbi, in John, vi., 25, by any means his enemies. This style of address, therefore, does not imply his possession of a title from a Jewish tribunal, but rather arose in the circle of followers that he gathered around him. As to the Essenes, it cannot be proved that they created rabbis, as did the Jewish synagogues; and if they did, such titles would hardly be recognized by the prevailing party, the Pharisees. his opponents would, doubtless, have reproached him with the arrogance of setting up for master where he himself had been a pupil. But, on the contrary, we find that they censured him for attempting to explain the Scriptures without having enjoyed the advantages of the schools (John, vii., 15). His first appearance as a teacher in the synagogue at Nazareth caused even greater surprise, as he was known there, not as one learned in the Law, but rather as a carpenter’s son, who had, perhaps, himself worked at his father’s trade.8181   It cannot be decided certainly that this was the case. There was a tradition in primitive Christian times to that effect; so Justin Martyr (Dialog., c. Tryph., 316) says: ταῦτα τὰ τεκτονικὰ ἔργα ἐιργάξετο ἐν ἀνθρώποις ὤν, καὶ ζυγὰ διὰ τούτων καὶ τὰ τῇς δικαιοσύνης σώμβολα διδάσκων καὶ ἐνέργη βίον. It may be that this, and the tradition, also, that Christ was destitute of personal beauty, were rather ideal than historical conceptions, framed to conform with his humble condition “in the form of a servant.” Christ was not to come forth from a high position, but from a lowly workshop; as, according to the reproach of Celsus, his first followers were mechanics. But the report may have been true, and was, if the ordinary reading of Mark, vi., 3, be correct. Against this has been adduced the following passage in Orig., cont. Cels., vi., 36, viz.: ὅτι ὀυδαμοῦ τῶν ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις φερομένων εὐαγγελίων τέκτων αὐτὸ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀναγέγραπται. The reading in Mark, vi., 3, may have been altered before the time of Origen, from a false pride that took offence at Christ’s working as a common mechanic and a foolish desire to conciliate the pagans, who reproached Christians with this feature in the life of their founder. Fritzsche founds an ineffectual argument on the following internal ground, viz.: “Christ’s working at a trade would not have interfered with his appearing as a public teacher. The Jews had no contempt for artisans, and even the scribes sometimes supported themselves by mechanical toils.” True, the scribes might occasionally work at trades without reproach, but to be merely a mechanic (and no scribe) was quite a different thing; so that the ensuing objection, “How comes this carpenter to set up as our teacher?” was quite in character, even among Jews. It does not follow because, afterward, only designations of family are given in the passage, that therefore the first designation was fixed upon him only as “the son of the carpenter;” for, certainly, the two ideas, “he himself is only a carpenter,” and “his relations live among us as ordinary people,” hang well together. They could utter, first, the most cutting contrast, “he is a carpenter, like the others, and he now will be a prophet,” and then mention only his relations who were yet living, but not Joseph, who was already dead.
   It is perfectly in accordance with the genius of Christianity (although not necessarily flowing from it), that the Highest should thus spring from an humble walk of life, and that the Divine glory should manifest itself at first to men in so lowly a form. The Redeemer thus ennobled human labour and the forms of common life; there was thenceforth to be no βάναυσον in the relations of human society. Thus began the influence of Christianity upon the civil and social relations of men—an influence which has gone on increasing from that day to this.
The general impression of his discourses every where was, that they contained totally different materials from those furnished by the theological schools (Matt., vii., 29).

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