Had Strauss calmly examined the bearing of Weisse’s hypothesis, he would have seen that it fully confirmed the line he had taken in leaving the Fourth Gospel out of account
|November 20, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter ten||
Had Strauss calmly examined the bearing of Weisse’s hypothesis, he would have seen that it fully confirmed the line he had taken in leaving the Fourth Gospel out of account, and he might have been less unjust towards the hypothesis of the priority of Mark, for which he cherished a blind hatred, because, in its fully developed form, it first met him in conjunction with seemingly reactionary tendencies towards the rehabilitation of John. He never in the whole course of his life got rid of the prejudice that the recognition of the priority of Mark was identical With a retrograde movement towards an uncritical orthodoxy.
This is certainly not true as regards Weisse. He is far from having used Mark unreservedly as a historical source. On the contrary, he says expressly that the picture which this Gospel gives of Jesus is drawn by an imaginative disciple of the faith, filled with the glory of his subject, whose enthusiasm is consequently sometimes stronger than his judgment. Even in Mark the mythopoeic tendency is already actively at work, so that often the task of historical criticism is to explain how such myths could have been accepted by a reporter who stands as near the facts as Mark does.
Of the miracula —so Weisse denominates the “non-genuine” miracles, in contradistinction to the “genuine”—the feeding of the multitude is that which, above all others, cries aloud for an explanation. Its historical strength lies in its being firmly interwoven with the preceding and following context; and this applies to both the Marcan narratives. It is therefore impossible to regard the story, as Strauss proposes to do, as pure myth; it is necessary to show how, growing out of some incident belonging to that context, it assumed its present literary form. The authentic saying about the leaven of the Pharisees, which, in Mark viii. 14 and 15, is connected with the two miracles of feeding the multitude, gives ground for supposing that they rest upon a parabolic discourse repeated on two occasions, in which Jesus spoke, perhaps with allusion to the manna, of a miraculous food given through Him. These discourses were later transformed by tradition into an actual miraculous giving of food. Here, therefore, Weisse endeavours to substitute for Strauss’s “unhistorical” conception of myth a different conception, which in each case seeks to discover a sufficient historical cause.
 The German is Mirakeln, the usual word being Wunder, which, though constantly used in the sense of actual “miracles,” has, from its obvious derivation, a certain ambiguity.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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