after the death of their Master that the disciples differentiated the thought of the Resurrection from that of the Second Coming
|November 16, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter fifteen||
Here, then, we have the introduction of the converse opinion, which was subsequently established as correct; namely, that Jesus foresaw, indeed, the Last Judgment, but not the historical destruction of Jerusalem.
In the next place, in the course of his critical examination of the eschatological material, Weiffenbach stumbles upon the discourse at the sending forth of the Twelve in Matt. x., and finds himself face to face with the fact that the discourse which he was expected to regard as a discourse of instruction was really nothing of the kind, but a collection of eschatological sayings. As he had taken over along with the Marcan hypothesis the closely connected view of the composite character of the Synoptic discourses, he does not allow himself to be misled, but regards this inappropriate charge to the Twelve as nothing else than an impossible anticipation and a bold anachronism. He knows that he is at one in this with Holtzmann, Colani, Bleek, Scholten, Meyer, and Keim, who also made the discourse of instruction end at the point beyond which they find it impossible to explain it, and regard the predictions of persecution as only possible in the later period of the life of Jesus. “For these predictions,” to express Weiffenbach’s view in the words of Keim, “are too much at variance with the essentially gracious and happy mood which suggested the sending forth of the disciples’ and reflect instead the lurid gloom of the fierce conflicts of the later period and the sadness of the farewell discourses.”
It was a good thing that Bruno Bauer did not hear this chorus. If he had, he would have asked Weiffenbach and his allies whether the poor fragment that remained after the critical dissection of the “charge to the Twelve” was “a discourse of instruction,” and if in view of these difficulties they could not realise why he had refused, thirty years before, to believe in the “discourse of instruction.” But Bruno Bauer heard nothing; and so their blissful unconsciousness lasted for nearly a generation longer.
The expectation of His Second Coming, repeatedly expressed by Jesus towards the close of His life, is on this hypothesis authentic; it was painted over by the primitive Christian community with the colours of its own eschatology, in consequence of the delay of the Parousia; and in view of the mission to the Gentiles a more cautious conception of the nearness of the time commended itself; nay, when Jerusalem had fallen and the “signs of the end” which had been supposed to be discovered in the horrors of the years 68 and 69 had passed without result, the return of Jesus was relegated to a distant future by the aid of the doctrine that the Gospel must first be preached to all the heathen. Thus the Parousia, which according to the Jewish-Christian eschatology belonged to the present age, was transferred to the future. “With this combination and making coincident—they were not so at the first—of the Second Coming, the end of the world, and the final Judgment, the idea of the Second Coming reached the last and highest stage of its development.”
Weiffenbach’s view, as we have seen, empties Jesus’ expectation of His return of almost all its content, and to that is due the fact that his investigation did not prove so useful as it might have done. His purpose is, following suggestions thrown out by Schleiermacher and Wiesse, to prove the identity of the predictions of the Second Coming and of the Resurrection, and he takes as his starting-point the observation that the conduct of the disciples after the death of Jesus forbids us to suppose that the Resurrection had been predicted in clear and unambiguous sayings, and that, on the other hand, the announcement of the Second Coming coincides in point of time with the predictions of the Resurrection, and the predictions buih of the Second Coming and of the Resurrection stand in organic connexion with the announcement of His approaching death. The two are therefore identical.
It was only after the death of their Master that the disciples differentiated the thought of the Resurrection from that of the Second Coming. The Resurrection did not bring them that which the Second Coming had promised; but it produced the result that the eschatological hopes, which Jesus had with difficulty succeeded in damping, flamed up again in the hearts of His disciples. The spiritual presence of the Deliverer who had manifested Himself to them did not seem to them to be the fulfilment of the promise of the Second Coming; but the expectation of the latter, being brought into contact with the flame of eschatological hope with which their hearts were a-fire, was fused, and cast into a form quite different from that in which it had been derived from the words of Jesus.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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