if Jesus made a Messianic entry He must thereafter have given Himself out as Messiah
|November 7, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter eighteen||
Any one who is less skilled in reading the thoughts of Jesus, and more simple and natural in his reading of the text of Mark, cannot fail to observe that Jesus speaks in Mark x. 45 of His death as an expiation, not as a means of saving others from death, and that at the Lord’s Supper there was no reference to His “community,” but only to the inexplicable “many,” which is also the word in Mark x. 45. We ought to admit freely that we do not know what the thoughts of Jesus about His death were at the time of the first prediction of the Passion after Peter’s confession; and to be on our guard against the “original sin” of theology, that of exalting the argument from silence, when it happens to be useful, to the rank of positive realities.
Is there not a certain irony in the fact that the application of “natural” psychology to the explanation of the thoughts of Jesus compels the assumption of supra-historical private information such as this? Bahrdt and Venturini hardly read more subjective interpretations into the text than many modern Lives of Jesus; and the hypothesis of the secret society, which after all did recognise and do justice to the inexplicability from an external standpoint of the relation of events and of the conduct of Jesus, was in many respects more historical than the psychological links of connexion which our modernising historians discover without having any foundation for them in the text.
In the end this supplementary knowledge destroys the historicity of the simplest sections. Oskar Holtzmann ventures to conjecture that the healing of the blind man at Jericho “is to be understood as a symbolical representation of the conversion of Zacchaeus,” which, of course, is found only in Luke. Here then the defender of the Marcan hypothesis rejects the incident by which the Evangelist explains the enthusiasm of the entry into Jerusalem, not to mention that Luke tells us nothing whatever about a conversion of Zacchaeus, but only that Jesus was invited to his house and graciously accepted the invitation.
It would be something if this almost Alexandrian symbolical exegesis contributed in some way to the removal of difficulties and to the solution of the main question, that, namely, of the present or future Messiah, the present or future Kingdom. Oskar Holtzmann lays great stress upon the eschatological character of the preaching of Jesus regarding the Kingdom, and assumes that, at least at the beginning, it would not have been natural for His hearers to understand that Jesus, the herald of the Messiah, was Himself the Messiah. Nevertheless, he is of opinion that, in a certain sense, the presence of Jesus implied the presence of the Kingdom, that Peter and the rest of the disciples, advancing beyond the ideas of the multitude, recognised Him as Messiah, that this recognition ought to have been possible for the people also, and, in that case, would have been “the strongest incentive to abandon evil ways,” and “that Jesus at the time of His entry into Jerusalem seems to have felt that in Isa. lxii. 11 there was a direct command not to withhold the knowledge of His Messiahship from the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
But if Jesus made a Messianic entry He must thereafter have given Himself out as Messiah, and the whole controversy would necessarily have turned upon this claim. This, however, was not the case. According Holtzmann, all that the hearers could make out of that crucial question for the Messiahship in Mark xii. 35-37 was only “that Jesus clearly showed from the Scriptures that the Messiah was not in reality the son of David.”
But how was it that the Messianic enthusiasm on the part of the people did not lead to a Messianic controversy, in spite of the fact that Jesus “from the first came forward in Jerusalem as Messiah”? This difficulty O. Holtzmann seems to be trying to provide against when he remarks in a footnote: “We have no evidence that Jesus, even during the last sojourn in Jerusalem, was recognised as Messiah except by those who belonged to the inner circle of disciples. The repetition by the children of the acclamations of the disciples (Matt. xxi. 15 and 16) can hardly be considered of much importance in this connexion.” According to this, Jesus entered Jerusalem as Messiah, but except for the disciples and a few children no one recognised His entry as having a Messianic significance! But Mark states that many spread their garments upon the way, and others plucked down branches from the trees and strewed them in the way, and that those that went before and those that followed after, cried “Hosanna!” The Marcan narrative must therefore be kept out of sight for the moment in order that the Life of Jesus as conceived by the modern Marcan hypothesis may not be endangered.
 Isaiah lxii. 11, “Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh.”
 “For Jesus Himself,” Oskar Holtzmann argues, “this discovery”—he means the antinomy which He had discovered in Psalm cx.—”disposed of a doubt which had always haunted him. If He had really known Himself to be descended from the Davidic line, He would certainly not have publicly suggested a doubt as to the Davidic descent of the Messiah.”
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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