As a disciple of Kant, however, Ammon feels obliged to refute the imputation that Jesus could have anything to promote excess
|November 20, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter nine||
It is only in this intelligible sense that the cures of Jesus are to be thought of as “miracles.” The magnetic force, with which the mediating theology makes play, is to be rejected. “The cure of psychical diseases by the power of the word and of faith is the only kind of cure in which the student of natural science can find any basis for a conjecture regarding the way in which the cures of Jesus were effected.”
In the case of the other miracles Ammon assumes a kind of Occasionalism, in the sense that it may have pleased the Divine Providence “to fulfil in fact the confidently spoken promises of Jesus, and in that way to confirm His personal authority, which was necessary to the establishment of His doctrine of the Divine salvation.”
In most cases, however, he is content to repeat the rationalistic explanation, and portrays a Jesus who makes use of medicines, allows the demoniac himself to rush upon the herd of swine, helps a leper, whom he sees to be suffering only from one of the milder forms of the disease, to secure the public recognition of his being legally clean, and who exerts himself to prevent by word and act the premature burial of persons in a state of trance. The story of the feeding of the multitude is based on some occasion when there was “a bountiful display of hospitality, a generous sharing of provisions, inspired by Jesus’ prayer of thanksgiving and the example which He set when the disciples were inclined selfishly to hold back their own supply.” The story of the miracle at Cana rests on a mere misunderstanding, those who report it not having known that the wine which Jesus caused to be secretly brought forth was the wedding-gift which he was presenting in the name of the family. As a disciple of Kant, however, Ammon feels obliged to refute the imputation that Jesus could have anything to promote excess, and calculates that the present of wine which Jesus had intended to give the bridal pair may be estimated as equivalent to not more than eighteen bottles. He explains the walking on the sea by claiming for Jesus an acquaintance with “the art of treading water.”
Only in regard to the explanation of the resurrection does Ammon break away from rationalism. He decides that the reality of the death of Jesus is historically proved. But he does not venture to suppose a real reawaking to life, and remains at the standpoint of Herder.
But the way in which, in spite of the deeper view of the conception of miracle which he owes to Kant, he constantly falls back upon the most pedestrian naturalistic explanations, and his failure to rid himself of the prejudice that an actual, even if not a miraculous fact must underlie all the recorded miracles, is in itself sufficient to prove that we have here to do with a mere revival of rationalism: that is, with an untenable theory which Strauss’s refutation of Paulus had already relegated to the past.
It was an easier task for pure supernaturalism than for pure rationalism to come to terms with Strauss. For the former Strauss was only the enemy of the mediating theology—there was nothing to fear from him and much to gain. Accordingly Hengstenberg’s Evangelische Kirchenzeitung hailed Strauss’s book as “one of the most gratifying phenomena in the domain of recent theological literature,” and praises the author for having carried out with logical consistency the application of the mythical theory which had formerly been restricted to the Old Testament and certain parts only of the Gospel tradition. “All that Strauss has done is to bring the spirit of the age to a clear consciousness of itself and of the necessary consequences which flow from its essential character. He has taught it how to get rid of foreign elements which were still present in it, and which marked an imperfect stage of its development.”
He has been the most influential factor in the necessary process of separation. There is no one with whom Hengstenberg feels himself more in agreement than with the Tübingen scholar. Had he not shown with the greatest precision how the results of the Hegelian philosophy, one may say, of philosophy in general, reacted upon Christian faith? “The relation of speculation to faith has now come clearly to light.”
 He is at one with Strauss in rejecting the explanation of this miracle on the analogy of an expedited natural process, to which Hase had pointed, and which was first suggested by Augustine in Tract viii. in Ioann.: “That Christ changed water into wine is nothing wonderful to those who consider the works of God. What was there done in the water-pots. God does yearly in the vine.” [Augustine’s words are: Miraculum quidem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, quo de aqua vinum fecit, non est mirum eis qui noverunt quia Deus fecit (i.e. that He who did it was God.) Ipse enim fecit vinum illo die …. in sex hydriis, qui omni anno tacit hoc in vitibus.] Nevertheless the poorest naturalistic explanation is at least better than the resignation of Lücke, who is content to wait “until it please God through the further progress of Christian thought and life to bring about the solution of this riddle in its natural and historical aspects.” Lücke, Johannes-Kommentar, p. 474 ff.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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