Heathen Writers (§ 1).
The Apostle Paul (§ 2).
Paul and the Earthly Life of Jesus (§ 3).
Other Epistolars (§ 4).
The Gospel of Luke (§ 5).
Mark and Matthew (§ 6).
The Primitive "Narrative Source" (§ 7).
"Sayings of Jesus" (§ 8).
Individual Sections of Luke and Matthew (§ 9).
The Gospel of John (§ 10).
Gospel Portrait of Christ not Invented (§ 11).
His Humiliation (§ 1).
His Meseiahahip and Deity (§ 2).
Central Conceptions (§ 3).
In What Sense a "Life" Impossible (§ 1).
Framework of the "Life" (§ 2).
Outline of the "Life" (§ 3).
The Public Ministry (§ 4).
Instruments of the Ministry (§ 5).
The Virgin-Birth; the Resurrection (§ 6).
The Epistles of Paul (§ 1).
The Gospels (§ 2).
The Pauline Gospel (§ 3).
Its Relations and Character (§ 4).
The Petrine Gospel (§ 5).
Its Character (§ 6).
Consequences (§ 7).
Four Types of Tradition (§ 8).
The Gospel of John (§ 9).
Matthew and Luke (§ 10).
Q and the Aramaic Source (§ 11).
Results of Source Analysis (§ 12).
Relations with John the Baptist (§ 1).
The Motive for Jesus' Ministry (§ 2).
Message and Miracles (§ 3).
Breaking of Bread (§ 4).
Collision with the Authorities (§ 5).
The Crisis in Galilee (§ 6).
Jesus as "Son of Man" (§ 7).
The Finale (§ 8).
The Issue (§ 9).
What is lacking in them is happily supplied, however, by the writings of the Christians themselves. Christianity was from its beginnings a literary religion, and documentary records of it have come down from the very start. There are, for example, the letters of the Apostle Paul (q.v.), a highly cultured Romanized Jew of Tarsus, who early (34 or 35 A.D.) threw in his fortunes with the new religion, and by his splendid leadership established it in the chief centers of influence from Antioch to Rome. Written occasionally to one or another of the Christian communities of this region, at intervals during the sixth and seventh decades of the century, that is to say, from twenty to forty years after the origin of Christianity, these letters reflect the conceptions which ruled in the Christian communities
Into the details of Christ's earthly life Paul had no occasion to enter. But he shows himself fully familiar with them, and incidentally conveys a vivid portrait of Christ's personality. Of the seed of David on the human, as the Son of God on the divine aide he was born of a woman under the law, and lived subject to its ordinances for his mission's sake, humbling himself even unto death, and that the death of the cross. His lowly estate is dwelt upon, and the high traits of his personal character manifested in his lowliness are lightly sketched in, justifying not merely the negative declaration that "he knew no sin," but his positive presentation as the model of all perfection. An item of his teaching is occasionally adverted to, or even quoted, always with the utmost reverence. Members of his immediate circle of followers are mentioned by name or by class--whether his brethren according to the flesh or the twelve apostles whom he appointed. The institution by him of a sacramental feast is described, and that of a companion sacrament of initiation by baptism is implied. But especially his sacrificial death on the cross is emphasized, his burial, his rising again on the third day, and his appearances to chosen witnesses, who are cited one after the other with the greatest solemnity. Such details are never communicated to Paul's readers as pieces of fresh information. They are alluded to as matters of common knowledge, and with the plainest intimation of the unquestioned recognition of them by all. Thus it is made clear not only that there underlies Paul's letters a complete portrait of Jesus and a full outline of his career, but that this portrait and this outline are the universal possession of Christians. They were doubtless as fully before his mind as such in the early years of his Christian life, in the thirties, as when he was writing his letters in the fifties and sixties. There is no indication in the way in which Paul touches on these things of a recent change of opinion regarding them or of a recent acquisition of knowledge of them. The testimony of Paul's letters, in a word, has retrospective value, and is contemporary testimony to the facts.
Paul's testimony alone provides thus an exceptionally good basis for the historical verity of Jesus' personality and career. But Paul's testimony is far from standing alone. It is fully supported by the testimony of a series of other writings, similar to his own, purporting to come from the hands of early teachers of the Church, most of them from actual companions of our Lord and eye-witnesses of his majesty, and handed down to us with credible evidence of their authenticity. And it is extended by the testimony of a series of writings of a very different character; not occasional letters designed to meet particular crises or questions arising in the churches, but formal accounts of Jesus' words and acts.
Among these attention is attracted first by a great historical work, the two parts of which bear the titles of "the Gospel according to Luke" and "the Acts of the Apostles." The first contains an account of Jesus' life from his birth to his death and resurrection; or, including the opening paragraphs of the second, to his ascension. What directs attention to it first among books of its class is the uncommonly full information possessed concerning its writer and his method of historical composition. It is the work of an educated Greek physician, known to have enjoyed, as a companion of Paul, special opportunities of informing himself of the facts of Jesus' career. Whatever Paul himself knew of the acts and teachings of his Lord was, of course, the common property of the band of missionaries which traveled in his company, and could not fail to be the subject of much public and private discussion among them. Among Paul's other companions there could not fail to be some whose knowledge of Jesus' life, direct or derived, was considerable; an example is found, for instance, in John Mark, who had come out of the immediate circle of Jesus' first followers, although precise knowledge of the meeting of Luke and Mark as fellow com panions of Paul belongs to a little later period than the composition of Luke's Gospel. In company with Paul Luke had even visited Jerusalem and had resided two years at Cćsarea in touch with primitive disciples; and if the early tradition which represents him as a native of Antioch be accepted, he must be credited with facilities from the beginning of his Christian life for association with original disciples of Jesus. All that is needed to ground great confidence in his narrative as a trustworthy account of the facts it records is assurance that he had the will and capacity to make good use of his abounding opportunities for exact information.
Additional evidence of the trustworthiness of Luke's Gospel as an account of Jesus' acts and teaching is afforded by the presence by its side of other narratives of similar character and accordant contents. These narratives are two in number and have been handed down under the names of members of the earliest circle of Christians--of John Mark, who was from the beginning in the closest touch with the apostolic body, and of Matthew, one of the apostles. On comparison of these narratives with Luke's, not only are they found to present, each with its own peculiar point of view and purpose, precisely the same conception and portrait of Jesus, but to have utilized in large measure also the same sources of information. Indeed, the entire body of Mark's Gospel is found to be incorporated also in Matthew's and Luke's.
This circumstance, in view of the declarations of Luke's preface, is of the utmost significance for an estimate of the trustworthiness of the narrative thus embodied in all three of the "Synoptic" Gospels. In this preface Luke professes to have had for his object the establishment of absolute "certainty," with respect to the things made the object of instruction in Christian circles; and to this end to have grounded his narrative in exact investigation of the course of events from the beginning. In the prosecution of this task, he knew himself to be working in a goodly company to a common end, namely, the narration of the Christian origins on the basis of the testimony of those ministers of the word who had been also "eye-witnesses from the beginning." He does not say whether these fellow narrators had or had not been, some or all of them, eye-witnesses of some or of all the events they narrated; he merely says that the foundation on which all the narratives he has in view rested was the testimony of eye-witnesses. He does not assert for his own treatise superiority to those of his fellow workers; he only claims an honorable place for his own treatise among the others on the ground of the diligence and care he has exercised in ascertaining and recording the facts, through which, he affirms, he has attained a certainty with regard to them on which his readers may depend. Now, on comparing the narrative of Luke with those of Matthew and Mark, it is discovered that one of the main sources on which Luke draws is also one of the main sources on which Matthew draws and practically the sole source on which Mark rests. Thus Luke's judgment of the value and trustworthiness of this source receives the notable support of the judgment of his fellow evangelists, and it can scarcely be doubted that what it contains is the veritable tradition of those who were as well eyewitnesses as ministers of the Word from the beginning, in whose accuracy confidence can be placed. If the three Synoptic Gospels do not give three independent testimonies to the facts which they record, they give what is, perhaps, better,--three independent witnesses to the trustworthiness of the narrative, which they all incorporate into their own as resting on autoptic testimony and thoroughly deserving of credit. A narrative lying at the basis of all three of these Gospels, themselves written certainly not later than the seventh decade of the century, must in any event be early in date, and in that sense must emanate from the first followers of Christ; and in the circumstances--of the large and confident use made of it by all three of these Gospels&mdash:can not fail to be an authentic statement of what was the conviction of the earliest circles of Christians.
By the side of this ancient body of narrative must be placed another equally, or, perhaps, even more ancient source, consisting largely, but not exclusively, of reports of "sayings of Jesus." This underlies much of the fabric of Luke and Matthew where Mark fails, and by their employment of it is authenticated as containing, as Luke asserts, the trustworthy testimony of eyewitnesses. Its great antiquity is universally allowed, and there is no doubt that it comes from the very bosom of the Apostolical circle, bearing independent but thoroughly consentient testimony, with the narrative source which underlies all three of the Synoptists, of what was understood by the primitive Christian community to be the facts regarding Jesus. This is the fundamental fact about these two sources--that the Jesus which they present is the same Jesus; and that this Jesus is precisely the same Jesus found in the Synoptic Gospels themselves, presented, moreover, in precisely the same fashion and with the emphases in precisely the same places. This latter could, of course, not fail to be the case
Valuable, however, as the separation out from the Synoptic narrative of these underlying sources is in this aspect of the matter, appeal can not be made from the Synoptics to these sources as from less to more trustworthy documents. On the one hand, these sources do not exist outside the Synoptics; in them they have "found their grave." On the other hand, the Synoptics in large part are these sources; and their trustworthiness as wholes is guaranteed by the trustworthiness of the sources from which they have drawn the greater part of their materials, and from the general portraiture of Christ in which they do not in the least depart. Luke's claim in his preface that he has made accurate investigations, seeking to learn exactly what happened that he might attain certainty in his narrative, is expressly justified for the larger part of his narrative when the sources which underlie it are isolated and are found to approve themselves under every test as excellent. There is no reason to doubt that for the remainder of his narrative (and Matthew too for the remainder of his narrative) not derived from these two sources which the accident of their common use by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, or by Matthew and Luke, reveals, he (or Matthew) derives his material from equally good and trustworthy sources which happen to be used only by him. The general trust worthiness of Luke's narrative is not lessened but enhanced by the circumstance that, in the larger portion of it, he has the support of other evangelists in his confident use of his sources, with the effect that these sources can be examined and an approving verdict reached upon them. His judgment of sources is thus confirmed, and his claim to possess exact information and to have framed a trustworthy narrative is vindicated. What he gives from sources which were not used by the other evangelists, that is to say, in that portion of his narrative which is peculiar to himself (and the same must be said for Matthew, mutatis rnutandis), has earned a right to credit on his own authentication. It is not surprising, therefore, that the portions of the narratives of Matthew and Luke which are peculiar to the one or the other bear every mark of sincere and well-informed narration and contain many hints of resting on good and trustworthy sources. In a word, the Synoptic Gospels supply a threefold sketch of the acts and teachings of Christ of exceptional trustworthiness. If here is not historical verity, historical verity would seem incapable of being attained, recorded, and transmitted by human hands.
Along with the Synoptic Gospels there has been
handed down by an unexceptionable line of testimony
under the name of the Apostle John another
narrative of the teaching and work of Christ of
equal fulness with that of the Synoptic
Gospels, and yet so independent of
theirs as to stand out in a sense in
strong contrast with theirs, and even
to invite attempts to establish a contradiction
between it and them. There is, however,
no contradiction, but rather a deep-lying harmony.
There are so-called Synoptical traits discoverable
in John, and not only are Johannine elements
imbedded in the Synoptical narrative, but an occasional
passage occurs in it which is almost more
Johannine than John himself. Take, for example,
that pregnant declaration recorded in
Matt. xi. 27-28,
which, as it occurs also in
This portrait may itself be confidently adduced as its own warranty. It is not too much to say with Nathaniel Lardner that "the history of the New Testament has in it all the marks of credibility that any history can have." But apart from these more usually marshaled evidences of the trustworthiness of the narratives, there is the portrait itself which they draw, and this can not by any possibility have been an invention. It is not merely that the portrait is harmonious throughout--in the allusions and presuppositions of the epistles of Paul and the other letter-writers of the New Testament, in the detailed narratives of the Synoptists and John, and in each of the sources which underlie them. This is a matter of importance; but it is not the matter of chief moment; there is no need to dwell upon the impossibility of such a harmony having been maintained save on the basis of simple truthfulness of record, or to dispute whether in the case of the Synoptics there are three independent witnesses to the one portrait, or only the two independent witnesses of their two most prominent "sources." Nor is the most interesting point whether the aboriginality of this portrait is guaranteed by the harmony of the representation in all the sources of information, some of which reach back to the most primitive epoch of the Christian movement. It is quite certain that this conception of Christ's person and career was the conception of his immediate followers, and indeed of himself; but, important as this conclusion is, it is still not the matter of primary import. The matter of primary significance is that this portrait thus imbedded in all the authoritative sources of information, and thus proved to be the conception of its founder cherished by the whole of primitive Christendom, and indeed commended to it by that founder himself, is a portrait intrinsically incapable of invention by men. It could never have come into being save as the revelation of an actual person embodying it, who really lived among men. "A romancer," as even Albert Réville allows, "can not attribute to a being which be creates an ideal superior to what be himself is capable of conceiving." The conception of the God-man which is embodied in the portrait which the sources draw of Christ, and which is dramatized by them through such a history as they depict, can be accounted for only on the assumption that such a God-man actually lived, was seen of men, and was painted from the life. The miracle of the invention of such a portraiture, whether by the conscious effort of art, or by the unconscious working of the mythopeic fancy, would be as great as the actual existence of such a person. Of this there is sufficient a posteriori proof in the invariable deterioration this portrait suffers in its secondary reproductions--in the so-called "Lives of Christ," of every type. The attempt vitally to realize and reproduce it results inevitably in its reduction. A portraiture which can not even be interpreted by men without suffering serious loss can not be the invention of the first simple followers of Jesus. Its very existence in their unsophisticated narratives is the sufficient proof of its faithfulness to a great reality.
His life of humiliation, sinking into his terrible death, was therefore not his misfortune, but his achievement as the promised Messiah, by and in whom the kingdom of God is to be established in the world; it was the work which as Messiah he came to do. Therefore, in his prosecution of it, he from the beginning announced himself as the Messiah, accepted all ascriptions to him of Messiahship under whatever designation, and thus gathered up into his person all the preadumbrations of Old-Testament prophecy; and by his favorite self-designation of "Son of Man," derived from Daniel's great vision (vii. 13), continually proclaimed himself the Messiah he actually was, emphasizing in contrast with his present humiliation
It is important to fix firmly in mind the central conception of this representation. It turns upon the sacrificial death of Jesus to which the whole life leads up, and out of which all its issues are drawn, and for a perpetual memorial of which he is represented as having instituted a solemn memorial feast. The divine majesty of this Son of God; his redemptive mission to the world, in a life of humiliation and a ransoming death; the completion of his task in accordance with his purpose; his triumphant rising from the death thus vicariously endured; his assumption of sovereignty over the future development of the kingdom founded in his blood, and over the world as the theater of its development; his expected return as the consummator of the ages and the judge of all--this is the circle of ideas in which all accounts move. It is the portrait not of a merely human life, though it includes the delineation of a complete and a completely human life. It is the portrayal of a human episode in the divine life. It is, therefore, not merely connected with supernatural occurrences, nor merely colored by supernatural features, nor merely set in a supernatural atmosphere: the supernatural is its very substance, the elimination of which would be the evaporation of the whole. The Jesus of the New Testament is not fundamentally man, however divinely gifted: he is God tabernacling for a while among men, with heaven lying about him not merely in his infancy, but throughout all the days of his flesh.
The instruments which have been relied on to effect this result may be called, no doubt with some but not misleading inexactitude, literary and historical criticism. The attempt has been made to track out the process by which the present witnessing documents have come into existence, to show them gathering accretions in this process, and to sift out the sources from which they are drawn; and then to make appeal to these sources as the only real witnesses. And the attempt has been made to go behind the whole written record, operating either immediately upon the documents as they now exist, or ultimately upon the sources which literary criticism has sifted out from them, with a view to reaching a more primitive and presumably truer conception of Jesus than that which has obtained record in the writings of his followers. The occasion for resort to this latter method of research is the failure of the former to secure the results aimed at. For, when, at the dictation of anti-supernaturalistic presuppositions, John is set aside in favor of the Synoptics, and then the Synoptics are set aside in favor of Mark, conceived as the representative of "the narrative source" (by the side of which must be placed--
The precariousness of these proceedings, or rather, frankly, their violence, is glaringly evident. In the processes of such criticism it is pure subjectivity which rules, and the investigator gets out as results only what he puts in as premises. And even when the desired result has thus been wrested from the unwilling documents, he discovers that he has only brought himself into the most extreme historical embarrassment. By thus desupernaturalizing Jesus he leaves primitive Christianity and its supernatural Jesus wholly without historical basis or justification. The naturalizing historian has therefore at once to address himself to supplying some account of the immediate universal ascription to Jesus by his followers of qualities which he did not possess and to which he laid no claim; and that with such force and persistence of conviction as totally to supersede from the very beginning with their perverted version of the facts the actual reality of things. It admits of no doubt, and it is not doubted, that supernaturalistic Christianity is the only historical Christianity. It is agreed on all hands that the very first followers of Jesus ascribed to him a supernatural character. It is even allowed that it is precisely by virtue of its supernaturalistic elements that Christianity has made its way in the world. It is freely admitted that it was by the force of its enthusiastic proclamation of the divine Christ, who could not be holden of death but burst the bonds of the grave, that Christianity conquered the world to itself. What account shall be given of all this? There is presented a problem here, which is insoluble on the naturalistic hypothesis. The old mythical theory fails because it requires time, and no time is at its disposal; the primitive Christian community believed in the divine Christ. The new "history-of-religions" theory fails because it can not discover the elements of that "Christianity before Christ" which it must posit, either remotely in the Babylonian inheritance of the East, or close by in the prevalent Messianic conceptions of contemporary Judaism. Nothing is available but the postulation of pure fanaticism in Jesus' first followers, which finds it convenient not to proceed beyond the general suggestion that there is no telling what fanaticism may not invent. The plain fact is that the supernatural Jesus is needed to account for the supernaturalistic Christianity which is grounded in him. Or--if this supernaturalistic Christianity does not need a supernatural Jesus to account for it, it is hard to see why any Jesus at all need be postulated. Naturalistic criticism thus overreaches itself and is caught up suddenly by the discovery that in abolishing the supernatural Jesus it has abolished Jesus altogether, since this supernatural Jesus is the only Jesus which enters as a factor into the historical development. It is the desupernaturalized Jesus which is the mythical Jesus, who never had any existence, the postulation of the existence of whom explains nothing and leaves the whole historical development hanging in the air.
It is instructive to observe the lines of development of the naturalistic reconstruction of the Jesus of the evangelists through the century and a half of its evolution. The normal task which the student of the life of Jesus sets himself is to penetrate into the spirit of the transmission so far as that transmission approves itself to him as trustworthy, to realize with exactness and vividness the portrait of Jesus conveyed by it, and to reproduce that portrait in an accurate and vital portrayal. The naturalistic reconstructors, on the other hand, engage themselves in an effort to substitute for the Jesus of the transmission another Jesus of their own, a Jesus who will seem "natural" to them, and will work in "naturally" with their naturalistic world-view. In the first instance it was the miracles of Jesus which they set themselves to eliminate, and this motive ruled their criticism from Reimarus (1694-1768), or rather, from the publication of the Wolfenbuettel Fragments (q.v.), to Strauss (1835-36). The dominant method employed--which found its culminating example in H. E. G. Paulus (1828)--was to treat the narrative as in all essentials historical, but to seek in each miraculous story a natural fact underlying it. This whole point of view was transcended by the advent of the mythical view in Strauss, who laughed it out of court. Since then miracles have been treated ever more and more
The inevitable reaction which seems to be now asserting itself takes two forms, both of which, while serving themselves heirs to the negative criticism of this "liberal" school, decisively reject its positive construction of the figure of Jesus. A weaker current contents itself with drawing attention to the obvious fact that such a Jesus as the "liberal" criticism yields will not account for the Christianity which actually came into being; and on this ground proclaims the "liberal" criticism bankrupt and raises the question, what need there is for assuming any Jesus at all. If the only Jesus salvable from the débris of legend is obviously not the author of the Christianity which actually came into being, why not simply recognize that Christianity came into being without any author--was just the crystallization of conceptions in solution at the time? A stronger current, scoffing at the projection of a nineteenth-century "liberal" back into the first century and calling him "Jesus," insists that "the historical Jesus" was just a Jew of his day, a peasant of Galilee with all the narrowness of a peasant's outlook and all the deficiency in culture which belonged to a Galilean countryman of the period. Above all, it insists that the real Jesus, possessed by those Messianic dreams which filled the minds of the Jewish peasantry of the time, was afflicted with the great delusion that he was himself the promised Messiah. Under the obsession of this portentous fancy he imagined that God would intervene with his almighty arm and set him on the throne of a conquering Israel; and when the event falsified this wild hope, he assuaged his bitter disappointment with the wilder promise that he would rise from death itself and come back to establish his kingdom. Thus the naturalistic criticism of a hundred and fifty years has run out into no Jesus at all, or worse than no Jesus, a fanatic or even a paranoiac. The "liberal" criticism which has had it so long its own way is called sharply to its defense against the fruit of its own loins. In the process of this defense it wavers before the assault and incorporates more or less of the new conception of Jesus--of the "consistently eschatological" Jesus--into its fabric. Or it stands in its tracks and weakly protests that Jesus' figure must be conceived as greatly as possible, so only it be kept strictly within the limits of a mere human being. Or it develops an apologetical argument which, given its full validity and effect, would undo all its painfully worked-out negative results and lead back to the Jesus of the evangelists as the true "historical Jesus."
It has been remarked above that the portrait of Jesus drawn in the sources is its own credential; no man, and no body of men, can have invented this figure, consciously or unconsciously, and dramatized it consistently through such a varied and difficult life-history. It may be added that the Jesus of the naturalistic criticism is its own refutation. One wonders whether the "liberal" critics realize the weakness, ineffectiveness, inanition of the Jesus they offer; the pitiful inertness they attribute to him, his utter passivity under the impact of circumstance. So far from being conceivable as the molder of the ages, this Jesus is wholly molded by his own surroundings, the sport of every suggestion from without. In their preoccupation with critical details, it is possible that its authors are scarcely aware of the grossness of the reduction of the figure of Jesus they have perpetrated. But let them only turn to portray their new Jesus in a life-history, and the pitiableness of the figure they have made him smites the eye. Whatever else may be said of it, this must be said--that out of the Jesus into which the naturalistic criticism has issued--in its best or in its worst estate--the Christianity which has conquered the world could never have come.
A series of synchronisms with secular history indicated by Luke, whose historical interest seems more alert than that of the other evangelists, gives the needed information for placing such a "life" in its right historical relations. The chronological framework for the "life" itself is supplied by the succession of annual feasts which are recorded by John as occurring during Jesus' public ministry. Into this framework the data furnished by the other Gospels--which are not without corroborative suggestions of order, season of occurrence, and relations--fit readily; and when so arranged yield so self-consistent and rationally developing a history as to add a strong corroboration of its trustworthiness. Differences of opinion respecting the details of arrangement of course remain possible; and these differences are not always small and not always without historical significance. But they do not affect the general outline or the main drift of the history, and on most points, even those of minor importance, a tolerable agreement exists. Thus, for example, it is all but universally allowed that Jesus was born c. 5 or 6 B.C. (year of Rome 748 or 749), and it is an erratic judgment indeed which would fix on any other year than 29 or 30 A.D.for his crucifixion. On the date of his baptism--which determines the duration of his public ministry--more difference is possible; but it is quite generally agreed that it took place late in 26 A.D. or early in 27. It is only by excluding the testimony of John that a duration of less than between two and three years can be assigned to the public ministry; and then only by subjecting the Synoptical narrative to considerable pressure. The probabilities seem strongly in favor of extending it to three years and some months. The decision between a duration of two years and some months and a duration of three years and some months depends on the determination of the two questions of where in the narrative of John the imprisonment of John the Baptist (Matt. iv. 12) is to be placed, and what the unnamed feast is which is mentioned in John v. 1. On the former of these questions opinion varies only between John iv. 1-3 and John v. 1. On the latter a great variety of opinions exists: some think of Passover, others of Purim or Pentecost, or of Trumpets or Tabernacles, or even of the day of Atonement. On the whole, the evidence seems decisively preponderant for piecing the imprisonment of the Baptist at John iv. 1-3, and for identifying the feast of John v. 1 with Passover. In that case, the public ministry of Jesus covered about three years and a third, and it is probably not far wrong to assign to it the period lying between the latter part of 28 A.D. and the Passover of 30 A.D.2
The material supplied by the Gospel narrative distributes itself naturally under the heads of (1) the preparation, (2) the ministry, and (3) the consummation. For the first twelve or thirteen years of Jesus' life nothing is recorded except the striking circumstances connected with his birth, and a general statement of his remarkable growth. Similarly for his youth, about seventeen years and a half, there is recorded only the single incident at its beginning, of his conversation with the doctors in the temple. Anything like continuous narrative begins only with the public ministry, in, say, December, 26 A.D. This narrative falls naturally into four parts which may perhaps be distinguished as
Into the substance of Jesus' ministry it is not possible to enter here. Let it only be observed that it is properly called a ministry. He himself testified that he came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and he added that this ministry was fulfilled in his giving his life as a ransom for many. In other words, the main object of his work was to lay the foundations of the kingdom of God in his blood. Subsidiary to this was his purpose to make vitally known to men the true nature of the kingdom of God, to prepare the way for its advent in their hearts, and above all, to attach them by faith to his person as the founder and consummator of the kingdom. His ministry involved, therefore, a constant presentation of himself to the people as the promised One, in and by whom the kingdom of God was to be established, a steady "campaign of instruction" as to the nature of the kingdom which he came to found, and a watchful control of the forces which were making for his destruction, until, his work of preparation being ended, he was ready to complete it by offering himself up. The progress of his ministry is governed by the interplay of these motives. It has been broadly distributed into a year of obscurity, a year of popular favor, and a year of opposition; and if these designations are understood to have only a relative applicability, they may be accepted as generally describing from the outside the development of the ministry. Beginning first in Judea Jesus spent some ten months in attaching to himself his first disciples, and with apparent fruitlessness proclaiming the kingdom at the center of national life. Then, moving north to Galilee, he quickly won the ear of the people and carried them to the height of their present receptivity; whereupon, breaking from them, he devoted himself to the more precise instruction of the chosen band he had gathered about him to be the nucleus of his Church. The Galilean ministry thus divides into two parts, marked respectively by more popular and more intimate teaching. The line of division falls at the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, which, as marking a crisis in the ministry, is recorded by all four evangelists, and is the only miracle which has received this fourfold record. Prior to this point, Jesus' work had been one of gathering disciples; subsequently to it, it was a work of instructing and sifting the disciples whom he had gathered. The end of the Galilean ministry is marked by the confession of Peter and the transfiguration, and after it nothing remained but the preparation of the chosen disciples for the death, which was to close his work; and the consummation of his mission in his death and rising again.
The instruments by which Jesus carried out his ministry were two, teaching and miracles. In both alike he manifested his deity. Wherever he went the supernatural was present in word and deed. His teaching was with authority. In its insight and foresight it was as supernatural as the miracles themselves; the hearts of men and the future lay as open before him as the forces of nature lay under his control; all that the Father knows he knew also, and he alone was the channel of the revelation of it to men. The power of his "But I say unto you" was as manifest as that of his compelling "Arise and walk." The theme of his teaching was the kingdom of God and himself as its divine founder and king. Its form ran all the way from crisp gnomic sayings and brief comparisons to elaborate parables and profound spiritual discussions in which the deep things of God are laid bare in simple, searching words. The purport of his miracles was that the kingdom of God was already present in its King. Their number is perhaps usually greatly underestimated. It is true that only about thirty or forty are actually recorded. But these are recorded only as specimens, and as such they represent all classes. Miracles of healing form the preponderant class; but there are also exorcisms, nature-miracles, raisings of the dead. Besides these recorded miracles, however, there are frequent general statements of abounding miraculous manifestations. For a time disease and death must have been almost banished from the land. The country was thoroughly aroused and filled with wonder. In the midst of this universal excitement--when the people were ready to take him by force and make him king--he withdrew himself from them, and throwing his
It is appropriate that this miraculous life should be set between the great marvels of the virgin birth and the resurrection and ascension. These can appear strange only when the intervening life is looked upon as that of a merely human being, endowed, no doubt, not only with unusual qualities, but also with the unusual favor of God, yet after all nothing more than human and therefore presumably entering the world like other human beings, and at the end paying the universal debt of human nature. From the standpoint of the evangelical writers, and of the entirety of primitive Christianity, which looked upon Jesus not as a merely human being but as God himself come into the world on a mission of mercy that involved the humiliation of a human life and death, it would be this assumed community with common humanity in mode of entrance into and exit from the earthly life which would seem strange and incredible. The entrance of the Lord of Glory into the world could not but be supernatural; his exit from the world, after the work which he had undertaken had been performed, could not fail to bear the stamp of triumph. There is no reason for doubting the trustworthiness of the narratives at these points, beyond the anti-supernaturalistic instinct which strives consciously or unconsciously to naturalize the whole evangelical narrative. The "infancy chapters" of Luke are demonstrably from Luke's own hand, bear evident traces of having been derived from trustworthy sources of information, and possess all the authority which attaches to the communications of a historian who evinces himself sober, careful, and exact, by every historical test. The parallel chapters of Matthew, while obviously independent of those of Luke--recording in common with them not a single incident beyond the bare fact of the virgin-birth--are thoroughly at one with them in the main fact, and in the incidents they record fit with remarkable completeness into the interstices of Luke's narrative. Similarly, the narratives of the resurrection, full of diversity in details as they are, and raising repeated puzzling questions of order and arrangement, yet not only bear consentient testimony to all the main facts, but fit into one another so as to create a consistent narrative--which has moreover the support of the contemporary testimony of Paul. The persistent attempts to explain away the facts so witnessed or to substitute for the account which the New Testament writers give of them some more plausible explanation, as the naturalistic mind estimates plausibility, are all wrecked on the directness, precision, and copiousness of the testimony; and on the great effects which have flowed from this fact in the revolution wrought in the minds and lives of the apostles themselves, and in the revolution wrought through their preaching of the resurrection in the life and history of the world. The entire history of the world for 2,000 years is the warranty of the reality of the resurrection of Christ, by which the forces were let loose which have created it. "Unique spiritual effects," it has been remarked, with great reasonableness, "require a unique spiritual cause; and we shall never understand the full significance of the cause, if we begin by denying or minimizing its uniqueness."
For details see the separate articles on the several distinct topics, e.g., CHRISTOLOGY; GOSPELS; MIRACLES; PARABLES; RESURRECTION; VIRGIN-BIRTH.
The means of writing a satisfactory life of Christ have never existed. From the outset what the Church attempted was no more than the story of Jesus covering a twelve-month. Even in this its object was not historical but apologetic. There exists a bare mention by a few secular writers of 110-120 A.D. of the origin of the obnoxious "Christians." Pliny, the earliest (112 A.D.), merely describes the sect. Tacitus, an accurate historian, c. 115 A.D., dates its rise from the execution of "Christus" by Pilate, procurator of Judea under Tiberius. Secular writers have no more to tell. They would have been compelled to refer inquirers to the tradition preserved by the sect itself. Now even the latest of our four Gospels can be traced in some form by its use in orthodox, heretical, and even anti-Christian writers, to about the same period; so that the whole question of the historical investigator resolves itself into a valuation and comparison of the writings preserved by the Church itself, in the interest of its own defense and edification.
The story of Jesus included what was needful for the uses of the Church. Fortunately the severest tests known to the science of literary and historical criticism leave the Church in possession of two groups of writings which circulated in Christian conventicles 50-100 A.D.These are (1) apostolic letters, homilies and "prophecies," writings directly addressed to the edification of particular churches; and (2) etiological narratives, purporting to give account of Christian origins.
Of these sources the former contain from the nature of the case but slight and incidental allusion to the tradition; but for the very reason that no effort is made to prove a case the readers being merely reminded of generally accepted facts, this testimony, so far as it goes, is of far greater value than apologetic narrative. Moreover, the nucleus of this group consists of extensive "epistles" by a known author addressed at a fixed date to definite localities critically authenticated, and from twenty to fifty years earlier in date than the anonymous narratives. It is needless, in view of this, to explain why the historical critic takes his stand primarily at the situation of belief and practise indirectly revealed by the great Pauline Epistles, employing them as a standard. The minor elements of this group, disputed letters of Paul, later and doubtful writings attributed to Peter, John, James and Jude add little in any event to the knowledge of Christianity as it existed in Corinth c. 55 >A.D. derivable from the two Epistles to the Corinthians alone.
The narrative writings (2) are four in number, all
anonymous, none earlier than 65 A.D.,
the latest, attributed in veiled language, in a subsequently attached appendix, to the Apostle John
not earlier than 98 A.D. They show a
large degree of mutual dependence,
but certainly have no mere partial presentation in
mind. Each aims to furnish to its respective region
"the Gospel" as locally understood inclusive
of all essential features. Not in the case of Mark,
admittedly representing the tradition as it circulated
at Rome, nor even in the case of John, representing
that of proconsular Asia, can it be supposed
that the writer intended merely to supplement certain
standard authorities already current. Just as
Mark represents "the Gospel" as understood in
Rome, one of the two chief Pauline centers, and
John that of Ephesus, the other, so the double
work attributed to Luke, whom tradition declared
of Antiochian parentage, represents "the Gospel"
(Luke i. 4) as understood in "Syria and Cilicia"
(Acts xv. 23; Gal. i. 21); while southern Syria,
whose historic relations are with Egypt, seems to
be represented by the Gospel attributed to Matthew.
Critical examination shows these four Gospels
to be largely interdependent so that practically
the whole of Mark has been transcribed to form
the narrative outline of both Matthew and Luke
while John shows dependence on all three. Yet
in each there persists a significant local type. Both
Syrian gospels, besides the conspicuous Mark element,
make large use of a factor absent from gospels
of the Pauline or Greco-Roman field, that of
the commandments of Jesus. This factor (Q) determines
the very nature of Matthew, whose whole
mission is to teach men "to observe all things
whatsoever I commanded you" (
The great Pauline Epistles recall the conditions out of which the Greek Gospels have grown. They reproduce not only Paul's own conception of "the Gospel" including an outline of the story, but certain fundamental differences between Paul and the older apostles, which in some degree correspond to and explain the persistent differences of type in the Greco-Roman and the Syrian tradition. Paul was both unable, and of principle unwilling, to compete with those who claimed to report acts and utterances of the Lord from their own observation. Even had he known a flesh and blood Messiah, such a Messiah, were it even the earthly Jesus himself, he would know no more (II Cor. v. 16), because since his experience in conversion, redemption had lost all interest save as a spiritual experience beginning in the individual soul. His own hopeless struggle for the righteousness of the law, on which participation in the Messianic age, the rabbinic "world to come," was in his view conditioned, had issued in a moral death, from which he had been raised by vision of the risen Lord of Stephen and of many another Christian martyr. Dawning faith in the crucified Messiah of the publicans and sinners, outcasts from synagogue orthodoxy, had brought to him not merely hope of a forgiveness without the works of the law, but an experience similar to that he witnessed in them, though of loftier, moral type, an influx of life and power from "the spirit." The starting-point of everything was to Paul the risen, glorified Christ, giver of the Spirit. He had been revealed as the Son of God with power by the resurrection (Rom. i. 4). This inward experience made Paul an apostle (Gal. i. 16) and gave him his message. Conference with those who were apostles before him was not needful to prepare him to preach it (Gal. i. 16-17). And yet without the safe anchor of connection with the historic Jesus, this doctrine of a spiritual Christ was exposed to all kinds of vagaries. From what it actually suffered at the hands of docetic Gnostics (see DOCETISM), and of ultra Paulinists like Marcion (q.v.), it seems that it would soon be assimilated in the hands of Greek converts to the myths of the redeemer-gods (theori soeres), who, incarnate in the form of demigods, or as invisible eons, "powers," or "emanations," were held to participate in the life of men. The whole ethical content of Paul's religion of the Spirit was
It is no surprise, therefore, to find Paul, three years after his conversion, going up to Jerusalem to "become acquainted with Peter," literally "to hear his story" (Gal. i. 18). From that Petrine story must have come many an allusion in Paul's letters to Jesus' teachings (I Thess. iv. 15; I Cor. vii. 10, ix. 14 the purity of his life (II Cor. v.21), the tragedy of his betrayal and death (I Cor. xi. 23), the manifestations of his resurrection glory (I Cor. xv. 3-7). From it came certainly the institution of the Eucharist (I Cor. xi. 23-25; see below, II., § 8), but not that of baptism (I Cor. i. 17). Moreover, if it related, as may surely be assumed, marvels of healing and exorcism outshining those of the "strolling Jews, exorcists" and even the "gifts of healing" and "miracles" boasted in the Church (I Cor. xii. 28-29), it is somewhat significant that Paul ignores this whole element, large as it looms on the pages of Mark. Ultimately in the latest of the undisputed epistles Paul states the essence of his Gospel in a "nutshell" (Phil. ii. 4-11; cf. Mark. x. 42-45). Such is Paul's messianism, the starting-point of which is the glorified one of his vision, but in its backward look almost overleaps the earthly career as a mere episode, a period of "humiliation," in the great economy of God, with whom this second Adam had enjoyed the riches of heaven (II Cor. viii. 9) before the first Adam walked in Paradise. Essentially and fundamentally Paul's Gospel is an incarnation doctrine, closely allied in its sacraments, its aspiration to life by mystic union with Christ and God in the Spirit, and even in its terminology, with Greek and Oriental mystery religion. Its soteriology recalls the avatar doctrine of the redeemer-gods (see HINDUISM). That which gives it power to assimilate rather than be assimilated in the maelstrom of intermingling religious ideals, is its ethical root in the life and teaching of the historic Jesus.
It can not be too emphatically insisted that the gospel of Peter was essentially, in its starting-point, and in religious value, identical with that of Paul (1 Cor. xv. 11; Gal. ii. 2, 6-8, 15-16). It also did not start from the story of the ministry, but from the resurrection (Acts iv. 33). It rested upon an experience of peter only less profoundly ethical than Paul, a rescue by the felt presence of the risen Christ from the abyss of moral agony. The four canonical Gospels have uniformly canceled the story of this fundamental event in the history of the Christian religion in favor of more concrete, more tangible and marvelous tales of the empty tomb and reappearances of Jesus in palpable form. Not a trace of this appears in Paul. His account of the tradition of the resurrection appearances is unassailable, and certainly complete. It puts his own experience in line with Peter's, and coincides with the remnants and allusions in the Gospel narrative of how first of all "the Lord appeared to Simon" (Luke xxiv. 34). Many traces of this initial vision of Peter exist in the canonical story itself (Mark xiv. 28, xvi. 1, cf. ix. 2-10), in additions to it (John xxi. 1-13), in extra-canonical fragments (Gospel of Peter, end), and above all in the recorded prayer of Jesus for the "turning again" of Simon (Luke xxii. 32). These amply corroborate the statement of Paul that the first "appearance" was "to Simon," and establish the essential justice of the tradition which explains the name of "Cephas" or "Peter" ("Rock") as given because the Church owed its foundation to the newborn faith of this disciple. Because Peter in Galilee rallied his "brethren" with the assurance of his experience of a manifestation of Jesus in glory, Christianity became a religion. What was--what is the experience of the presence of the risen Christ? This is not a problem of history but of religious psychology. With Peter's experience, soon repeated in that of his "brethren," of 500 at once, of Pentecost, of James, of Paul (I Cor. xv. 3-8) "the Gospel" began its career. It was essentially the story of the resurrection as a message of redemption (II Cor. v. 19-21). The psychological phenomenon, vital as it is in the spiritual history of the race, falls from its very nature outside the limits of this discussion; yet it alone accounts for the preservation of the implied story of Jesus' previous career.
In Peter's case as in Paul's this starting-point
was the resurrection. But that which tradition
reports (Papias, in Eusebius, Hist. eccl., III., xxxix.
15) of the nature of Peter's preaching is that which
could be anticipated from all known of his past.
To Peter the remembrance of Jesus' earthly
career would not be, as to Paul, a
mere episode in the eternal plan of redemption,
an avatar of God's redeeming
Spirit suffering humiliation and death. It
would be a priceless jewel of personal recollections
filled with foregleams of the later glorification.
Peter's Christology would be fundamentally not
an incarnation doctrine, but just as it is actually
found in the Petrine speeches of Acts
Two unavoidable inferences from what Paul has shown of Peter's Gospel confirm the tradition which connects the story of Jesus with him. (1) Without the impression of an extraordinary personality and an extraordinary career, the initial experience of Peter, echoed in that of his brethren and of Paul (I Cor. xv. 3-11), the true foundation experience of the Church, could never have occurred. (2) Having occurred, all Peter's remembered intercourse with Jesus would be shot through with transfiguring rays from the later vision of his heavenly glory. The process is artlessly acknowledged in the case of the so-called triumphal entry in John xii. 16. What proved Jesus to have been the Christ whose coming to establish his kingdom only awaits Israel's repentance (Acts iii. 19-26)—this formed the substance of Peter's story.
Turning to the second and later group of sources, the fourfold tradition, the four canonical Gospels in their fundamental character may fairly be compared with the four tendencies so distinctly marked by Paul among the Corinthian believers of 55 A.D. The Roman Gospel (Mark) recalls those "of Paul," the Ephesian (John) those "of Apollos," the Antiochian (Luke-Acts), those "of Cephas," the Palestinian (Matthew) those "of Christ." Mark and John are both Paulinism in the sense of making faith in the person of Christ essential rather than obedience to precept. But in Mark it is the external side of Paulinism which is presented. It appears with the same crudity in its doctrine of the Spirit, and brusqueness in repudiation of Jewish scruples, which calls forth Paul's rebuke of his too inconsiderate adherents in Corinth.
The Fourth Gospel systematically idealizes the tradition both of "sayings" and "doings" for the inculcation of a Christology now openly allied to the Logos philosophy of Ephesus and Alexandra. Differences exist among critics as to its authorship, but comparatively none as to its speculative and theological character. Its slender modicum of underlying historic tradition can be employed only with utmost critical caution to criticize or supplement the Petrine story in a few details, so completely has it been volatilized in the dominant interest of presenting Christological theory. Aiming only to depict the drama of the incarnate Logos, this Gospel takes indeed the foremost rank as a source for the later history of Pauline Christology, but is almost unusable for the history of Jesus of Nazareth.
The two Gospels assigned respectively to Jerusalem
and Antioch have much in common after the
subtraction of Mark. They do not, with Paul,
Mark and John, ignore the Davidic descent of Jesus
(cf. Rom. i. 3-4 with
Mark xii. 25-37;
It will readily be seen that the most invaluable of all sources for that extraordinary character and career which through its influence on Peter and Paul has given rise to the Christian religion, is the underlying non-Mark element common to Matthew and Luke (Q), whose relation to the reported "Hebrew" compilation (the Logia) is as yet unexplained. Unlike the "wonder-loving" Mark, Q is not dominated by the effort to prove by accounts of prodigies surrounding his career that Jesus was the Son of God in the Pauline sense (Mark i. 1), but aims primarily to report his teaching. Even more, while it alludes to Jesus' miracles, as Paul alludes to those of his time, it presents Jesus' attitude toward them as one of severe rebuke of the popular craving for signs (Matt. xii. 38 sqq.; Luke xi. 29 sqq.) as well as of the suggestion that he might violate by his human will the divine order of the world (Matt. iv. 3-7; Luke iv. 3, 4, 9-12). This aim, and this relative independence of Pauline Christology qualify Q, fragmentary as it is, for use as a corrective in relation to the Petrine tradition, much as the Pauline epistles have been used in relation to the fourfold narrative.
The foregoing analysis of the sources in their
It is true that Paul was dependent on Peter; but it is at least equally true that Peter, or more exactly those secondary sources which represent the Petrine tradition, show to an enormous extent the influence of Paul. Only the ultimate substratum of narrative in the Greek Gospels can claim to represent the Aramaic story of the Galilean fisherman. The one source which in its original Aramaic form was comparatively unaffected by Pauline soteriology was the Matthean collection of the "Sayings," which survives only in fragments from a Greek version utilized by Luke in connection with an. otherwise unknown narrative source, and by Matthew to complete his manual of "commandments." Even the Logia must have started with the presupposition of Jesus' superhuman authority, and, at least in the Greek form, applied to him the apocalyptic title "Son of Man" from Dan. vii. 13.
The task here is to draw from these materials a consistent outline of Jesus' historical career and teaching, determining from these the character of the man, and the nature of the movement which he set on foot "first in Galilee and afterward in Jerusalem."
The story of Jesus began "after the baptism
which John preached." (On the infancy chapters of
Matthew and Luke see above, I., § 10). The further
back the sources are traced the more apparent is it
that the movement which Jesus inaugurated was
a continuation of that of John, from
which the Church subsequently borrowed
its rite of initiation. Great
stress is laid in the earliest source (Q)
on the distinction between John's ascetic
life, emphasizing his stern warnings of judgment
and wrath to come, and that of Jesus, who
came into the populous haunts of men with his
winning proclamation of forgiveness. The latest
source (John) is deeply concerned to show how
void of all significance was the whole Johannine
movement, except as premonitory of the Gospel.
And yet the true relation is evident in the reverential
regard of Jesus for John, in whose movement
he saw no less a matter than the great repentance,
to be effected according to Scripture "before the
great and terrible Day of Yahweh" (Q,
Matt. xi. 2-19, xii. 41, xxi. 32;
Luke vii. 18-28, 31-35, xi. 32, xvi. 14-16).
Equally apparent is it in the
fundamental note of Petrine story, which begins
with Jesus' coming into Galilee after John's arrest,
with an invitation to the fishermen to join him in
gathering men, rescuing the strayed sheep of the
flock of Israel. There is all the less reason to doubt
the statement that Jesus had been himself baptized
by John, inasmuch as later evangelists experience
great difficulty in adjusting this fact to their
doctrine of Messiah's sinlessness (Matt. iii. 13-15;
Gospel of Hebrews, fragment 3).
But the so-called
The real impulse under which Jesus took up the standard of the martyred prophet and carried it away from the wilderness into the centers of half-heathen Galilee, is clearly apparent from his invitation to the fishermen (with Mark i. 17 cf. Jer. xvi. 16 and Matt. xiii. 47) and kindred utterances from Q (Matt. ix. 35-38, x. 6, xviii. 12-14; Luke x. 2, xv. 3-7). It is made even more unmistakable in the special source of Luke, in which the humanitarian and sociological aspect of Jesus' work is strikingly emphasized. Synagogue religion under the domination of the scribes had in fact made it almost impossible for the "people of the land" to expect any "share in the world to come." The spiritual inheritance of Israel as a whole had been monopolized by the scribes and their devout followers the Pharisees. The ideal since even the times before the monarchy (Ex. iv. 22; Hos. xi. 1) had been that Israel was to be a people of God's "sons." Now none were allowed to be so reckoned who did not "do the will," as revealed in the sacred law and interpreted by the scribes. The Johannine movement as interpreted by Jesus (Q, Matt. xxi. 32=Luke vii. 29) was a protest against this
Jesus did more than merely carry on the baptism of John. He renewed John's preaching of repentance in view of the coming kingdom, but instead of awaiting in the wilderness those whom curiosity or, conscience might drive to him, he carried the message where the lost sheep of Israel were most numerous. He enlisted the aid of fishermen, publicans, wage-earners like himself to proclaim it. He went from Capernaum to the towns of Gennesaret, from Gennesaret to the villages of Galilee. He preached in the synagogues and in the streets. Baptism itself was for the time being left behind, since physical conditions made it impracticable. The message also was infinitely bolder, and at the same time infinitely more hopeful than John's. Fortunately much of it is preserved in substantially original form. The repentance itself of the sinful was to Jesus a proof of that divine forgiveness for the attainment of which the repentance had been demanded (Matt. xxi. 28-32=Luke xv. 11-32, vii. 36-50). He declared in the name of the great Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that there was access to him, forgiveness, adoption, life in the kingdom, for those who "did the will"; not in the sense of scribe and Pharisee, but by simple imitation of the spirit of the loving God of nature (Q, Matt. v. 43-48=Luke vi. 27-36). He welcomed such to spiritual brotherhood with himself (Mark iii. 35 and parallels). Inward, not outward, purity was made the condition of "seeing God"; and the essence of the law simple-hearted devotion to God, and God-like goodness to one's fellow men, "even to the unthankful and the evil." This was much more than all whole burnt-offering and sacrifice. The immense effect of Jesus' preaching was not due alone to the reawakening in the land of the voice of prophetic authority, with its moral imperative, "thus saith the Lord "; but to certain startling accompaniments, which at their first appearance were the occasion to Jesus of one of his vigils of prayer (Mark i. 35-39), but were ultimately welcomed by him as a divine aid and seal upon his proclamation of forgiveness. His stern rebuke of an outcry from a "possessed" person in the synagogue in Capernaum resulted in an involuntary exorcism. The "demon" went out. In Peter's house immediately after, a "healing" took place on the appeal of the inmates that he would lay hands upon the patient. Straightway Jesus was besieged with the importunities of the sick in body and mind, with the result that he appears divided between the desire to give physical help, and the vivid appreciation of the danger involved of being forcibly diverted from his higher aims. A whole cycle of marvels of healing and exorcisms, even the subduing of the demons of wind and storm, appears at this point of the Petrine tradition. Q, with more sobriety, presents Jesus' attitude on the subject in contrast with the malignant interpretation of the scribes. The "mighty works" are the evidence of God's gracious intervention to overthrow the power of Satan. Such evidence would have led Tyre and Sidon, Sodom and Gomorrah, to repentance; but to that hardened generation they were simply an occasion of "stumbling in him." In point of fact he was accused by leading scribes of collusion with Beelzebub.
Before relating the irrepressible conflict with the
scribes into which Jesus was led by his championship
of the "people of the land," a few words must
be devoted to a cycle of narratives presented in duplicate
by Mark and Matthew, occupying a central
position in every one of the Gospels.
The chief feature of these is the feeding of
the multitude. They owe their
conspcuous position, as appears from
the features on which they dilate, to their etiological
significance, as explaining and defining the
order of the church rite of the breaking of bread;
and the very existence from earliest times of this
institution, with its significant name of Agape or
Love-feast (qq.v.; Acts vi. 4;
I Cor. xi. 20-34; Jude 12), proves the fundamental historicity of the
tradition. True, Mark's narrative is controlled by
the idea of a prodigy outstripping the miracle related
of Elisha in II Kings iv. 42-44, and the later
evangelists follow this lead. Still the original motive
is different. It inculcates that 'wonderful spirit
of absolute abandon in self-denying service which
formed one of the primitive "gifts of the Spirit"
Invasion of the domain of synagogue authority by such a movement as that of the prophet of Nazareth could not fail to provoke a violent reaction. This became apparent first in the murmurs of the Galilean Pharisees at the disregard shown by his followers for set fasts, ceremonial ablutions, and even for the Sabbath. Jesus deprecated iconoclasm, but insisted on the prior right of "the greater matters of the law, judgment, mercy and good faith." Local orthodoxy was reenforced by a delegation of "scribes from Jerusalem." These, when their unworthy ascription of the healings wrought "by the Spirit of God" to Beelzebub had been rebuked by Jesus, openly challenged his authority to teach, and demanded a prophet's authentication by "sign from heaven." Jesus' reply was a noble repudiation of such criteria in favor of God-given "signs of the times." He denounced the usurpation by the scribes of the right to admit to or exclude from "sonship," and their pretensions to be solely qualified to reveal "the Father." Against them he appealed to the "inward light." He thanked the infinite "Lord of heaven and earth " that his truth was not given to the wise and prudent, but to minds as simple as babes. As representative and champion of the "little ones" he even declared that real knowledge of the Father belongs to him who has the filial spirit; while the Father reserves to himself alone the right to say who is a son (Q, Matt. xi. 25-27 = Luke x. 21-22).5
But the Jews required a sign. The scribes remained masters of the field. Whether because of popular desertion, or the threatening attitude of Antipas, whose secret murder of John the Baptist at Machaerus falls at about this period (Mark vi. 14-29; cf. Luke xiii. 31-35), Jesus' public work in Galilee is from now on abruptly broken off. He remains in hiding on the northern frontier until, after secretly rallying his adherents in Capernaum, he undertakes with them the last emprise. The ultimate decision was made at Cćsarea Philippi, near the ancient Dan. Jesus consulted his few remaining followers as to his own career. The campaign must either be abandoned, or else reopened on a larger, but far more perilous scale. The impetuous Peter, so Petrine tradition relates, broached at this time the daring proposal of an actual Messianic coup d'état at Jerusalem. It was met by Jesus with a rebuke of crushing severity. He did indeed propose to attack the central seat of hierocratic usurpation, to vindicate in the temple itself the right of all the people to their own national sanctuary, now perverted into a mere instrumentality of extortion by a godless band of "robbers." Jesus was contemplating the throwing down of a gage of battle, in the face of the degenerate priestly aristocracy whose only relic of the splendid heritage of Maccabean sovereignty was the citadel of the temple. But he would do so in the name only of "the things that be of God." Zealot nationalists should not seize the reins to pervert his movement into a mere fruitless insurrection against the Romans. Once turned in this direction the result to himself, his followers, his cause, as he could not but foresee, would be inevitably fatal. Of the imminence of this danger he warned them, once and again. Yet withal, in the spirit of that unconquerable faith in God which they bad learned to know as his most distinctive trait he assured them that even if--as was only too probable--shipwreck did thus come of all their earthly hopes, even if they lost their lives for his sake and the Gospel's, they should find them again. Within the lifetime of that unworthy generation should come his vindication in the great "day of the Son of Man" of Danielic vision.
In the light of later conviction this assurance of
divine vindication in the Messianic judgment came
to be interpreted as a prediction by Jesus that he
himself would come again as the Son
of Man. This term is already consistently
employed in the oldest evangelic
source (Q) as a self-designation
of Jesus, though not yet in Paul. From Q it passes
to Mark and thence to the entire evangelic tradition,
creating the wrong impression that Jesus was
a visionary (Ekstatiker), carried away with the
apocalyptic enthusiasm of the early post-resurrection
conventicles. In reality his ideal was ethico-religious;
and the integrity and unswervable fidelity
of his simple, straightforward purpose ought to
have made it impossible in the present to impute
to him a perversion from this ideal. In spite of
Jesus' crushing rebuke, a later element of the Palestinian
Gospel (Matt. xvi. 17) makes Peter's suggestion of Messiahship at this time the foundation
of the Church. Jesus, it is said, declared it a bath
kol, or revelation from God. Parallel to this prose
statement is the apocalypse or "vision" story of
the transfiguration, interjected by
The exodus from Galilee was accomplished secretly. The little body of those who were willing to leave all and follow Jesus to possible martyrdom went by way of the Jordan valley, Peraea and Jericho. At this last stage of the journey it received an encouraging accession, whether the story of Mark is followed or the "special source" of Luke. Shortly before Passover, Jesus entered the temple, surrounded by a motley company of enthusiastic, yet orderly supporters. The priestly authorities were overawed. The most obnoxious of abuses inaugurated in the sanctuary by "the hissing brood of Annas" was abolished, peremptorily, and yet without mob violence. In answer to the challenge of the sanhedrin Jesus gave as the sign of his authority "the baptism of John," a movement "from heaven and not of men." He had succeeded in
Such is the career whose outline critical analysis dimly discerns beneath the tradition of the Church. The vindication came, though not as Jesus expected it. The throne to which he had not aspired was given him by the love and faith of humanity. There was a "turning again" when the influence of Jesus, whether by the reaction of memories of the past, or in direct spiritual intervention from the unseen world, reawakened the faith of Simon Peter, and Christianity began, founded in devotion to the risen and glorified Lord.
The literature is enormous and the following
is no more than a selection aiming to direct to the most
useful works from various points of view. The literature
cited is exclusive of works on the teaching, work, and
character of Jesus, and on special topics or phases of his
life trial, death, resurrection, and ascension. A bibliography
carrying all these and other topics is: S. G.
Ayres, Jesus Christ Our Lord; an English Bibliography
of Christology comprising over 5,000 Titles annotated and
classified, New York, 1906; cf. W. B. Hill, A Guide to
the Lives of Christ for English Readers, New York, 1905
(gives evaluation of thirty-six lives of Christ). Volumes
which review discussions of the life and works of Christ
are: A. Schweitzer, Von Reimarus zu Wrede, Eine Geschichte
der Leben-Jesu-Forschung, Strasburg, 1906 (reviews
the attempts up to date to write the life of Jesus);
H. Jordan, Jesus im Kampfe der Parteien der Gegenwart,
Stuttgart, 1907; F. Spitta, Streitfragen der Geschichte der
Jeau, Göttingen, 1907; W. Sanday, Life of Christ in Recent
Research, New York, 1907; H. Weinel, Jesus im 19.
Jahrhundert, Tübingen, 1907 (a review of the work of the
century); G. Pfanmüller, Jesus in Urteil der Jahrhunderte,
Possibly the earliest attempt at a systematic life was that in a series of Meditationes vitae Christi attributed to Bonaventura, Eng. transl. by W. H. Hutchings, New York, 1881; a corresponding effort in English is Jeremy Taylor's Great Exemplar of Sanctity and Holy Life, London, 1649 (devotional). A new period opened with J. G. von Herder, Erlöser des Menschen and Von Gottes Sohn, in his Christliche Schriften, Riga, 1794-98 (the first notable works to apply scientific research). Stadia were marked by H. E. G. Paulus, Das Leben Jesu, Heidelberg, 1828 (rationalistic); D. F. Strauss, Das Leben Jesu, 2 vols., Tübingen, 1835-36; Eng. transls., e.g., 3 vols., London, 1846, and Das Leben Jesu für das deutsche Volk, Leipsic, 1864, Eng. transls., London, 1879 (advanced the mythical theory and evoked a storm of protest and a large number of replies); A. Neander, Das Leben Christi, Gotha, 1837, Eng. transl., London, 1846 (one of the earliest and best answers to Strauss); E. Renan, Vie de Jésus, Paris, 1863, Eng, transls., frequent eds., e.g., New York, 1904 (more appreciative than Strauss of historical verities, but yet so stressed the legendary that it evoked as much opposition as Strauss's work); T. Keim, Geschichte Jesu von Nazara, 3 vols., Zurich, 1867-72, Eng. transl., 6 vols., London, 1873, new ed., 1897 (critical, rationalistic, yet to be reckoned with). It may be serviceable to the historical student to know that the British Museum Catalogue gives in the entries under each of these notable works the titles of replies or criticisms which they evoked. While the works just named in a way mark stages in the study, the lives which follow are those which are of chief value among the very large number of works on the life of Christ; F. W. Farrar, Life of Christ; with an appendix, 2 vols., London, 1874 (popular); C. Geikie, ib. 1876; E. De Preasensd, London, 1879; J. Stalker, Edinburgh, 1879; A. M. Fairbairn, Studies in the Life of Christ, New York, 1882; A. Edersheim, London, 1883 (utilizes rabbinic sources); S. J. Andrews, New York, 1884 (one of the best in English); B. Weiss, 2 vols., Berlin, 1884, Eng, transl., 3 vols., Edinburgh, 1884; G. Dalman and A. W. Streane, Jesus Christ in the Talmud, Midrash, Zohar, and the Liturgy of the Synagogue, texts and transl., London, 1893; A. Robinson, A Study of the Saviour in the Newer Light, London, 1898 (critical but reverent); G. Matheson, Studies in the Portrait of Christ, 2 vols., London, 1900 (sympathetic and spiritual); R. Rhees, New York 1900 (concise); O. Holtzmann Tübingen, 1901, Eng, transl., London, 1904; N. Schmidt, The Prophet of Nazareth, New York, 1905 (critical, of high value); D. Smith, The Days of His Flesh, London, 1905 (highly esteemed); A. Whyte, The Walk, Conversation and Character of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Edinburgh, 1905 (brilliant and original); W. Bousset, Jesus, Eng. transl., London, 1906 (a judicial consideration of the testimony of the Gospels); A. Réville, 2 vols., Paris 1906 (critical); W. Sanday, Outlines of the Life of Christ, 2d ed., Edinburgh, 1906, For the critical literature on the sources see under GOSPELS; PAUL THE APOSTLE; and under the articles on the separate Gospels.
1 In Josephus, Ant. XVIII., iii. 3, XX., ix. 1, "Jesus," "Jesus, surnamed Christ," occur. But the authenticity of the passages is questionable, especially that of the former.
2 Ramsay, Sanday, and Turner prefer 29 A.D. for the date of the crucifixion. Turner's dates are: birth, 7-6 B.C.; baptism, 26 A.D.; ministry, between two and three years; death 29 A.D. Sanday's dates are: birth, --; baptism, late 26 A.D.; ministry, two and a half years; death, 29 A.D. Ramsay's dates are: birth, autumn, 6 B.C.; baptism, early in 26 A.D.; ministry, three years and some months; death, 29 A.D.
4 "In I Cor. xi. and John vi, the two rites, agape and Eucharist, are inextricably interwoven; for church practise had already taken this inevitable course. But in Luke xxiv. 35 men who know nothing of the latter recognize the practise of the former.
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