God-manhood, the highest idea conceived by human thought, is actually realised in the historic personality of Jesus
|November 20, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter eight||
Then, too, the offence of the word myth disappears for any one who has gained an insight into the essential character of religious myth. It is nothing else than the clothing in historic form of religious ideas, shaped by the unconsciously inventive power of legend, and embodied in a historic personality. Even on a priori grounds we are almost compelled to assume that the historic Jesus will meet us in the garb of Old Testament Messianic ideas and primitive Christian expectations.
The main distinction between Strauss and his predecessors consisted in the fact that they asked themselves anxiously how much of the historical life of Jesus would remain as a foundation for religion if they dared to apply the conception of myth consistently, while for him this question had no terrors. He claims in his preface that he possessed one advantage over all the critical and learned theologians of his time without which nothing can be accomplished in the domain of history—the inner emancipation of thought and feeling in regard to certain religious and dogmatic prepossessions which he had early attained as a result of his philosophic studies. Hegel’s philosophy had set him free, giving him a clear conception of the relationship of idea and reality, leading him to a higher plane of Christological speculation, and opening his eyes to the mystic interpenetration of finitude and infinity, God and man.
God-manhood, the highest idea conceived by human thought, is actually realised in the historic personality of Jesus. But while conventional thinking supposes that this phenomenal realisation must be perfect, true thought, which has attained by genuine critical reasoning to a higher freedom, knows that no idea can realise itself perfectly on the historic plane, and that its truth does not depend on the proof of its having received perfect external representation, but that its perfection comes about through that which the idea carries into history, or through the way in which history is sublimated into idea. For this reason it is in the last analysis indifferent to what extent God-manhood has been realised in the person of Jesus; the important thing is that the idea is now alive in the common consciousness of those who have been prepared to receive it by its manifestation in sensible form, and of whose thought and imagination that historical personality took such complete possession, that for them the unity of Godhood and manhood assumed in Him enters into the common consciousness, and the “moments” which constitute the outward course of His life reproduce themselves in them in a spiritual fashion.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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