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§ 8. Fundamentally opposite Modes of apprehending the Accounts.

The problems offered to scientific inquiry at this point are, first, to distinguish the objective reality of the events from the subjective form in which they are apprehended in the accounts; and, secondly, to fill up, as far as may be, the chasms which necessarily arise in the history from 12its being composed of detached narratives. These problems nearly involve each other; for we must obtain a clear view of the events themselves, before we can solve the difficulties that arise in connecting them together. Of these, various views may be taken, different in themselves, yet each in harmony with the interests of religion.

But this cannot be said of all the different views which may be taken of the subject. The attempt might be made, for instance, to explain the life of Christ just as that of any eminent man, on the natural principles of human developement; rejecting, of course, the first truth of Christian belief in Christ as the Son of God and our Saviour. This theory, denying the supernatural element of Christianity, necessarily leads its advocates to consider every thing in the Gospel accounts which contradicts it as simply mythical. Thus, even in what may be called the ante-historical part of our work, we find arrayed against us those views which always reject the supernatural in the events of the life of Christ; although this is a dispute which cannot be settled empirically by inquiries into the separate accounts; for this very distinction of historical and non-historical presupposes a final decision between these opposing views made elsewhere. Thus, the Deistic and Pantheistic theories, which, although they arise from directly opposite modes of thought, agree perfectly in opposing supernaturalism, must deny, in the outset, what the supernatural-theistic views hold to be essential to the idea of a genuine world-redeeming Christ.

We must, then, in order to bring the individual features into harmony with our portraiture of Christ, form the latter definitely from a view of his whole life, and of the organism of that Christian consciousness which grows out of his impress left upon humanity, and manifests his perpetual revelation. In relation to the individual features of the history, it only remains to prove, by naked historical inquiry, that there is no sufficient ground, apart from the general prejudices of rationalism, to deny their historical basis; and to show that the origin of the accounts themselves cannot be explained without the actual occurrence of the events which they describe on the very ground where they arose.

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