Gnosticism and the Logos Christology
|November 24, 2011||Posted by admin under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter one||
But the world continued to exist, and its continuance brought this onesided view to an end. The supra-mundane Christ and the historical Jesus of Nazareth had to be brought together into a single personality at once historical and raised above time. That was accomplished by Gnosticism and the Logos Christology. Both, from opposite standpoints, because they were seeking the same goal, agreed in sublimating the historical Jesus into the supra-mundane Idea. The result of this development, which followed on the discrediting of eschatology, was that the historical Jesus was again introduced into the field of view of Christianity, but in such a way that all justification for, and interest in, the investigation of His life and historical personality were done away with.
Greek theology was as indifferent in regard to the historical Jesus who lives concealed in the Gospels as was the early eschatological theology. More than that, it was dangerous to Him; for it created a new supernatural-historical Gospel, and we may consider it fortunate that the Synoptics were already so firmly established that the Fourth Gospel could not oust them; instead, the Church, as though from the inner necessity of the antitheses which now began to be a constructive element in her thought, was obliged to set up two antithetic Gospels alongside of one another.
When at Chalcedon the West overcame the East, its doctrine of the two natures dissolved the unity of the Person, and thereby cut off the last possibility of a return to the historical Jesus. The self-contradiction was elevated into a law. But the Manhood was so far admitted as to preserve, in appearance, the rights of history. Thus by a deception the formula kept the life prisoner and prevented the leading spirits of the Reformation from grasping the idea of a return to the historical Jesus.
This dogma had first to be shattered before men could once more go out in quest of the historical Jesus, before they could even grasp the thought of His existence. That the historic Jesus is something different from the Jesus Christ of the doctrine of the Two Natures seems to us now self-evident. We can, at the present day, scarcely imagine the long agony in which the historical view of the life of Jesus came to birth. And even when He was once more recalled to life. He was still, like Lazarus of old, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes—the grave-clothes of the dogma of the Dual Nature. Hase relates, in the preface to his first Life of Jesus (1829), that a worthy old gentleman, hearing of his project, advised him to treat in the first part of the human, in the second of the divine Nature. There was a fine simplicity about that. But does not the simplicity cover a presentiment of the revolution of thought for which the historical method of study was preparing the way—a presentiment which those who were engaged in the work did not share in the same measure? It was fortunate that they did not; for otherwise how could they have had the courage to go on?
The historical investigation of the life of Jesus did not take its rise from a purely historical interest; it turned to the Jesus of history as an ally in the struggle against the tyranny of dogma. Afterwards when it was freed from this paqoV it sought to present the historic Jesus in a form intelligible to its own time. For Bahrdt and Venturini He was the tool of a secret order. They wrote under the impression of the immense influence exercised by the Order of the Illuminati at the end of the eighteenth century. For Reinhard, Hess, Paulus, and the rest of the rationalistic writers He is the admirable revealer of true virtue, which is coincident with right reason. Thus each successive epoch of theology found its own thoughts in Jesus; that was, indeed, the only way in which it could make Him live.
 An order founded in 1776 by Professor Adam Weishaupt of Ingolstadt in Bavaria. Its aim was the furtherance of rational religion as opposed to orthodox dogma; its organisation was largely modelled on that of the Jesuits. At its most flourishing period it numbered over 2000 members, including the rulers of several German States.—TRANSLATOR
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
|Also in print from Barnes and Noble
As an E-book at: