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SECTION XXVIII.

The Old Testament Apocryphal Books,9999   Comp. Stäudlin: Gesch. der Sittenl. Jesu, i, 358; Cramer: Moral der Apokr., 1814; (also in Keil and Tzschirner’s Analekten, 1814, ii, 1, 2,); Räbiger: Ethica libe apocr., 1838; Keerl: Die Apokr. d. A. T., 1852, somewhat unfair; comp. Hengstenberg: Für Beibehaltung der Apokr. abandoned by the fire of the prophetic spirit, and in part affected by foreign philosophical influences, treat predominantly of morality. The moral law,—in the Old Testament canon an essential element of the educative divine revelation as a whole,—is here considered rather in itself and as unconnected with the world-historical goal of the Theocracy, and is thereby degraded into a merely individual, empirically-grounded moral system.—In the Talmud the law appears as entirely unspiritualized,—as fallen into complete lifeless externality, dissolved into its ultimate atoms.

The moral thoughts of the Apocrypha give clear evidence of some degree of obscuration of the consciousness of redemption-history, both in respect to its presupposition, namely, the fall and its consequences, and in regard to its true nature in the Ancient Covenant, and also in regard to its historical goal—the expected redemption-act by Christ. With the obscuration of this thought go naturally enough hand in hand a manifest coming into the fore-ground of a certain holiness by works, in the manner of the heathen moralists [comp. Sirach iii, 16, 17 (14, 15), 33 (30); xxix, 15-17 (12, 13); xvii, 18 (22) sqq.], a one-sided laudation of wisdom and righteousness in obliviousness of the question whether 170indeed there are any such wise and righteous persons to be found, and also in many respects a proud self-satisfaction with one’s own wisdom and virtue, together with a censorious and contemptuous looking-down upon the unwise and unrighteous many,—a certain coldly-rational self-complacent tone, especially in Sirach,—a suspicious complaining and an almost bigoted abstaining from true love-communion with others [comp. Sirach xi, 30 (29) sqq.; xii; xiii; xxv, 10 (7); xxx, 6; xxxiii, 25; sqq.],—a zealous cautioning against the wickedness and falseness of others instead of a warning against the wickedness and deceptiveness of one’s own heart; and there is frequently a manifest lack of the proper humility of the truly self-understanding conscience; and the obtaining of personal happiness is often presented too one-sidedly as a direct motive to virtue, so that the ethical view is sometimes tinged with a shallow utilitarianism [comp. Sirach xiv, 14 sqq.].—The book of Wisdom, showing traces of Alexandrino-Piatonic influences, and accordingly containing the four Greek virtues [viii, 7]. does not keep far clear of work-holy boasting [ e. g. vii and viii]; and though it admits the sinful corruption and weakness of all men [ix; xii, 10 sqq.; xiii, 1 sqq.; ii, 24], it yet brings them into a false connection with theories from other sources [viii, 19, 20; ix, 15; e. g., pre-existence of the soul, and dualistic relation of the body as an essential trammeling of the soul]. The book of Sirach gives expression both to a deep piety and to a rich practical life-experience, and though in the eyes of Rationalism it is the most valuable book of the Old Testament, it is still very far superior to modern Rationalistic shallowness [comp. xxv, 32 (24); xl, 15, 16; xli, 8 (5), sqq.; viii, 6 (5)]; it manifests, however, on the other hand, also a want of depth in its view of sinfulness and of the need of redemption [comp. xv, 15-17; xxxii, 27 (Septuagint, xxxv, 23); xxxvii, 17 (13); li, 18 (13) sqq.], and often places the outward ungenerous prudence-rules of a distrustful understanding in the stead of higher moral ideas [e. g. viii, 1 sqq.; xlii, 6, 7], and, as differing from the book of Wisdom, alludes to no supernatural goal of morality in a transmundane life; it may indeed teach the spiritually regenerated much moral life-wisdom and prudent rational foresight, but it cannot bring the natural man to 171self-acquaintance and humility. From the stand-point of Christian ethics, this book is very far remote; the essence of love is unknown to it. The book of Judith presents in narrative form a highly questionable morality [ix, 2 sqq.; comp. Gen. xxxiv; xlix, 5-7].

As in Sirach the vigorously-growing tree of Old Testament ethics begins to show signs of failing vitality, so in the Talmud (A. D. 200-600) we find the dead and decayed or petrified trunk.100100   Mishna translated by Rabe, 1760, 6 vols.—Talmud Babli, the Babylonian Talmud, by Pinner, 1842.—Schulchan Aruch by Löwe, 1836, 4 vols.—Fassel: Die mosaisch-rabbin. Tugend-u. Pflichtenl., 2 ed., 1842. Abandoned by the spirit of faith and hope, the Jews, in their faithlessness to their Redeemer, lost also the spirit of love; and human ingenuity changed the law which was readily enough borne by hoping faith, into an unspiritual yoke utterly subversive of moral fieedom. The strictly objective character of the Old Testament law, so necessary for disciplinary purposes, had -its vital complement in an expectant faith. This latter ele1m.ent becomes in the Talmud deceptive and wavering, and gives place almost entirely to the doctrine of the law; and the lifeless, idealess law, multiplied thousandfoldly by the ingenuity of human exegesis and inference, takes even the most insignificant and external actions into a dictatorially-regulative tutelage. Man acts no longer as prompted by his inner consciousness, for his inner life-source is dried up, but according to the outward law as multiplying its branches through all the channels of human life.—The Talmud contains, besides its more spiritual elements, which are mostly taken from the Old Testament, a system of casuistry unparalleled for its trivial and childish entering into minutiae, such as was possible in fact only on just such a soil, namely, matured Pharisaism. For the Jew, the authority of the Scribes takes the place of the moral conscience; to him who honestly holds fast to the law, the multiplicity of precepts becomes a yoke subversive of true morality, while to those who are less sincere the manifold contradictions in the same give pretext for a disingenuous relaxation of duty.

Observation. Islamism,—which finds its place in the history of the religious and moral spirit not as a vital organic member, but as violently interrupting the course of this history, and 172which is to be regarded as an attempt of heathenism to maintain itself erect, under an outward monotheistic form, against Christianity, and to arm the entire unbroken essence of the natural man against the spirit of an inner new-birth,—has indeed given rise to a peculiar ethical system, though one which has so little of depth peculiar to itself, that we need here only allude to it in passing.101101   Imm. Berger: Ueber die Moral des Koran in Stäudlin’s Beiträge zur Phil., v, 250, (1799), superficial.—Weil: Mohammed, 1843.—Sprenger: Leben u. Lehre des Moh., 1862. The ethics of Islam bears the character of an outwardly and crudely conceived doctrine of righteousness; conscientiousness in the sphere of the social relations, faithfulness to conviction and to one’s word, and the bringing of all action into relation to God, are its bright points; but there is a lack of heart-depth, of a basing of the moral in love. The highest good is the very outwardly and very sensuously conceived happiness of the individual. The potency of sin is not recognized; evil is only an individual, not an historical power; hence there is no need of redemption, but only of personal works on the basis of prophetic instruction; Mohammed is only a teacher, not an atoner. God and man remain strictly external to, and separate from, each other; God—no less individually conceived of than man—comes into no real communion with man; and man, as moral, acts not as influenced by such a communion, but only as an isolated individual. The ideal basis of the moral is faith in God and in his Prophet; the moral life, conceived as mainly consisting in external works, is not a fruit of received salvation, but a means for the attainment of the same; pious works, and particularly prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and pilgrimaging to Mecca, work salvation directly of themselves. Man has nothing to receive from God but the Word, and nothing to do for God but good works; of inner sanctification there is no thought; the essential point is simply to let the per se good nature of man manifest itself in works; there is no inner struggle in order to attain to the true life, no penitence-struggle against inner sinfulness; and instead of true humility we find only proud work-righteousness. To the natural propensions of man there is consequently but little refused,—nothing but the enjoyment of wine, of swine-flesh, of blood, of strangled animals, and of games of chance, and this, too, for 173insufficient (assigned) reasons. The merely individual character of the morality manifests itself especially in the low conception that is formed of marriage, in which polygamy is expressly conceded, woman degraded to a very low position, and the dissolution of the marriage bond placed in the unlimited discretion of the man; there hence results a very superficial view of the family in general; the moral community-life is conceived of throughout in a very crude manner. Unquestionably this form of ethics is not an advancing on the part of humanity, but a guilty retrograding from that which had already been attained.


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