In the synagogue at Capernaum He drives many from Him, offended by the saying about eating and drinking His flesh and blood.
|November 17, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter thirteen||
This Life of Jesus is introduced by a kind of prelude. Jesus had been living in Galilee before He came to the Baptist; when He heard of the latter’s success He went to him with His little company of followers. They were both young, and Jesus became the imitator of the Baptist. Fortunately the latter soon disappeared from the scene, for his influence on Jesus was in some respects injurious. The Galilaean teacher was on the verge of losing the sunny religion which He had learned from His only teacher, the glorious natural scenery which surrounded His home, and of becoming a gloomy Jewish fanatic. But this influence fell away from Him again; when He returned to Galilee He became Himself once more. The only thing which He had gained from John was some knowledge of the art of preaching. He had learned from him how to influence masses of men. From that time forward He preached with much more power and gained greater ascendancy over the people.
With the return to Galilee begins the first act of the piece. The story of the rise of Christianity is a pastoral play. Bauer, in his “Philo, Strauss, and Renan,” writes with biting sarcasm: “Renan, who is at once author of the play, the stage-manager, and the director of the theatre, gives the signal to begin, and at a sign from him the electric lights are put on full power, the Bengal fires flare up, the footlights are turned higher, and while the flutes and shawms of the orchestra strike up the overture, the people enter and take their places among the bushes and by the shore of the Lake.” And how confiding they were, this gentle and peaceful company of Galilaean fisher folk! And He, the young carpenter, conjured the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth for a year, by the spell of the infinite tenderness which radiated from Him. A company of men and women, all of the same youthful integrity and simple innocence, became His followers and constantly repeated “Thou art the Messiah.” By the women He was more beloved than He Himself liked, but from His passion for the glory of His Father He was content to attract these “fair creatures” (belles créatures) and suffered them to serve Him, and God through Him. Three or four devoted Galilaean women constantly accompanied Him and strove with one another for the pleasure (le plaisir) of listening to His teaching and attending to His comfort. Some of them were wealthy and used their means to enable the “amiable” (charmant) prophet to live without needing to practise His handicraft. The most devoted of all was Mary Magdalene, whose disordered mind had been healed by the influence of the pure and gracious beauty (par la beauté pure et douce) of the young Rabbi.
Thus He rode, on His long-eyelashed gentle mule, from village to village, from town to town. The sweet theology of love (la délicieuse theologie de l’amour) won Him all hearts. His preaching was gentle and mild (suave et douce), full of nature and the fragrance of the country. Wherever He went, the people kept festival. At marriages He was a welcome guest; to the feasts which He gave He invited women who were sinners, and publicans like the good Zacchaeus.
“The Frenchman,” remarks Noack, “takes the mummied figure of the Galilaean Rabbi, which criticism has exhumed, endows it with life and energy, and brings Him upon the stage, first amid the lustre of the earthly happiness which it was His pleasure to bestow, and then in the moving aspect of one doomed to suffer.”
When Jesus goes up to the Passover at the end of this first year, He comes into conflict with the Rabbis of the capital. The “winsome teacher, Who offered forgiveness to all on the sole condition of loving Him,” found in the capital people upon whom His charm had no effect. When He returned to Galilee He had entirely abandoned His Jewish beliefs, and a revolutionary ardour glowed in His heart. The second act begins. “The action becomes more serious and gloomy, and the pupil of Strauss turns down the footlights of his stage.” The erstwhile “winsome moralist” has become a transcendental revolutionary. Up to this point He had thought to bring about the triumph of the Kingdom of God by natural means, by teaching and influencing men. The Jewish eschatology stood vaguely in the background. Now it becomes prominent. The tension set up between His purely ethical ideas and these eschatological expectations gives His words from this time forward a special force. The period of joyous simplicity is past.
Even the character of the hero loses its simplicity. In the furtherance of His cause He becomes a wonder-worker. It is true that even before He had sometimes practised innocent arts such as Joan of Arc made use of later. He had, for instance, pretended to know the unspoken thoughts of one whom He desired to win, had reminded him, perhaps, of some experience of which he cherished the memory. He allowed the people to believe that He received knowledge of certain matters through a kind of revelation. Finally, it came to be whispered that He had spoken with Moses and Elias upon the mountains. But He now finds Himself compelled to adopt in earnest the role which He had formerly taken, as it were, in play. Against His will He is compelled to found His work upon miracle. He must face the alternative of either renouncing His mission or becoming a thaumaturge. He consented, therefore, to play an active part in many miracles. In this astute friends gave Him their aid. At Bethany something happened which could be regarded as a raising of the dead. Perhaps this miracle was arranged by Lazarus himself. When very ill he had allowed himself to be wrapped in the cerements of the dead and laid in the grave. His sisters sent for Jesus and brought Him to the tomb. He desired to look once more upon His friend, and when, overcome with grief, He cried his name aloud, Lazarus came forth from the grave. Why should the brother and sisters have hesitated to provide a miracle for the Master, in whose miracle-working power they, indeed, believed? Where, then, was Renan’s allegiance to his “honoured master” Strauss, when he thus enrolled himself among the rationalists?
On these lines Jesus played His part for eighteen months, from the Easter of 31 to the Feast of Tabernacles of 32. How great is the change from the gentle teacher of the Sermon on the Mount! His discourse takes on a certain hardness of tone. In the synagogue at Capernaum He drives many from Him, offended by the saying about eating and drinking His flesh and blood. The “extreme materialism of the expression,” which in Him had always been the natural counterpoise to the “extreme idealism of the thought,” becomes more and more pronounced. His “Kingdom of God” was indeed still essentially the kingdom of the poor, the kingdom of the soul, the great spiritual kingdom; but He now preached it as the kingdom of the apocalyptic writings. And yet in the very moment when He seems to be staking everything upon a supernatural fulfilment of His hopes, He provides with remarkable prescience the basis of a permanent Church. He appoints the Twelve Apostles and institutes the fellowship-meal. It is certain, Renan thinks, that the “Supper” was not first instituted on that last evening; even in the second Galilaean period He must have practised with His followers the mystic rite of the Breaking of Bread, which in some way symbolised His death.
 Bruno Bauer in Philo, Strauss, und Renan.
 Renan does not hesitate to apply this tasteless parallel.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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