all objections against the genuineness of the Fourth Gospel collapse miserably
|November 17, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter twelve||
Both Gospels, however, were written long after the destruction of the holy city, since they do not draw their material from the Jerusalem tradition, but “from the Christian legends which had grown up in the neighbourhood of the Sea of Tiberias,” and in consequence “mistakenly transferred the scene of Jesus’ ministry to Galilee.” For this reason it is not surprising “that even down into the second century many Christians had doubts about the truth of the Synoptics and ventured to express their doubts.” Such doubts only ceased when the Church became firmly established and began to use its authority to suppress the objections of individuals. Mark is the earliest witness to doubts within the primitive Christian community regarding the credibility of his predecessors. Luke and Matthew are for him not yet sacred books; he desires to reconcile their inconsistencies, and at the same time to produce “a Gospel composed of materials of which the authenticity could be maintained even against the doubters.” For this reason he omits most of the discourses, ignores the birth-story, and of the miracles retains only those which were most deeply embedded in the tradition. His Gospel was probably produced between 110 and 120. The “non-genuine” conclusion was a later addition, but by the Evangelist himself. Thus Mark proves that the Synoptists contain legendary matter even though they are separated from the events which they relate only by a generation and a half, or at most two generations. To show that there is nothing strange in this, Gfrörer gives a long catalogue of miracles found in historians who were contemporaries of the events which they describe, and in some cases were concerned in them—in this connexion Cortez affords him a rich storehouse of material. On the other hand, all objections against the genuineness of the Fourth Gospel collapse miserably. It is true that, like the others, it offers no historically accurate report of the discourses of Jesus. It pictures Him as the Logos-Christ and makes Him speak in this character; which Jesus certainly did not do. Inadvertently the author makes John the Baptist speak in the same way. That does not matter, however, for the historical conditions are rightly represented; rightly, because Jerusalem was the scene of the greater part of the ministry, and the five Johannine miracles are to be retained. The healing of the nobleman’s son, that of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, and that of the man blind from birth happened just as they are told. The story of the miracle at Cana rests on a misunderstanding, for the wine which Jesus provided was really the wedding-gift which He had brought with Him. In the raising of Lazarus a real case of apparent death is combined with a polemical exaggeration of it, the restoration to life becoming, in the course of controversy with the Jews, an actual resurrection. Having thus won free, dragging John along with him, from the toils of the Hegelian denial of miracle—only, it is true, by the aid of Venturini—and being prepared to explain the feeding of the multitude on the most commonplace rationalistic lines, he may well boast that he has “driven the doubt concerning the Fourth Gospel into a very small corner.”
“The miserable era of negation,” cries Gfrörer, “is now at an end; affirmation begins. We are ascending the eastern mountains from which the pure airs of heaven breathe upon the spirit. Our guide shall be historical mathematics, a science which is as yet known to few, and has not been applied by any one to the New Testament.” This “mathematic” of Gfrörer ‘s consists in developing his whole argument out of a single postulate. Let it be granted to him that all other claimants of the Messiahship— Gfrörer, in defiance of the evidence of Josephus, makes all the leaders of revolt in Palestine claimants of the Messiahship—were put to death by the Romans, whereas Jesus was crucified by His own people: it follows that the Messiahship of Jesus was not political, but spiritual. He had declared Himself to be in a certain sense the longedfor Messiah, but in another sense He was not so. His preaching moved in the sphere of Philonian ideas; although He did not as yet explicitly apply the Logos doctrine, it was implicit in His thought, so that the discourses of the Fourth Gospel have an essential truth. All Messianic conceptions, the Kingdom of God, the judgment, the future world, are sublimated into the spiritual region. The resurrection of the dead becomes a present eternal life. The saying in John v. 24, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath eternal life and cometh not into judgment; but is passed from death into life,” is the only authentic part of that discourse. The reference which follows to the coming judgment and the resurrection of the dead is a Jewish interpolation. Jesus did not believe that He Himself was to rise from the dead. Nevertheless, the “resurrection” is historic; Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Essene Order, whose tool Jesus unconsciously was, had bribed the Romans to make the crucifixion of Jesus only a pretence, and to crucify two others with Him in order to distract attention from Him. After He was taken down from the cross, Joseph removed Him to a tomb of his own which had been hewn out for the purpose in the neighbourhood of the cross, and succeeded in resuscitating Him. The Christian Church grew out of the Essene Order by giving a further development to its ideas, and it is impossible to explain the organisation of the Church without taking account of the regulations of the Order. The work closes with a rhapsody on the Church and its development into the Papal system.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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