Is it so certain that Jesus made a Messianic entry into Jerusalem?
|November 8, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter sixteen||
Is it the case that the apocalypses mark the introduction of a process of spiritualisation applied to the ancient Israelitish hopes? A picture of the future is not spiritualised simply by being projected upon the clouds. This elevation to the transcendental region signifies, on the contrary, the transference to a place of safety of the eudaemonistic aspirations which have not been fulfilled in the present, and which are expected, by way of compensation, from the other world. The apocalyptic conception is so far from being a spiritualisation of the future expectations, that it represents on the contrary the last desperate eifort of a strongly eudaemonistic popular religion to raise to heaven the earthly goods from which it cannot make up its mind to part.
Next we must ask: Is it really necessary to assume the existence of so wide reaching a Persian influence in Jewish eschatology? The Jewish dualism and the sublimation of its hope have become historical just because, owing to the fate of the nation, the religious life of the present and the fair future which was logically bound up with it became more and more widely separated, temporally and locally, until at last only its dualism and the sublimation of its hope enabled the nation to survive its disappointment.
Again, is it historically permissible to treat the leading ideas of the preaching of Jesus, which bear so clearly the marks of the contemporary mould of thought, as of secondary importance for the investigation, and to endeavour to trace Jesus’ thoughts from within outwards and not from without inwards?
Further, is there really in Judaism no tendency towards the overcoming of particularism? Has not its eschatology, as shaped by the deuteroprophetic literature, a universalistic outlook? Did Jesus overcome particularism in principle otherwise than it is overcome in Jewish escharology, that is to say, with reference to the future?
What is there to prove that Jesus’ distinctive faith in the Fatherhood of God ever existed independently, and not as an alternative form of the historically-conditioned Messianic consciousness? In other words, what is there to show that the “religious attitude” of Jesus and His Messianic consciousness are anything else than identical, temporally and conceptually, so that the first must always be understood as conditioned by the second?
Again, is the saying about the gluttonous man and wine-bibber a sufficient basis for the contrast between Jesus and the Baptist? Is not Jesus’ preaching of repentance gloomy as well as the Baptist’s? Where do we read that He, in contrast with the Baptist, avoided dealing with masses of men? Where did He give “the community of His disciples” marching orders to go far and wide in the sense required by Bousset’s argument? Where is there a word to tell us that He thought of His Work among individuals and little groups of men as the most important feature of His ministry? Are we not told the exact contrary, that He “taught” His disciples as little as He did the people? Is there any justification for characterising the missionary journey of the Twelve, just because it directly contradicts this view, as “an obscure and unintelligible tradition?”
Is it so certain that Jesus made a Messianic entry into Jerusalem, and that, accordingly, He declared Himself to the disciples and to the High Priest as Messiah in the present, and not in a purely future sense?
What are the sayings which justify us in making the attitude of opposition which He took up towards the Rabbinic legalism into a “sense of the absolute opposition between Himself and His people”? The very “absolute,” with its ring of Schleiermacher, is suspicious.
All these, however, are subsidiary positions. The decisive point is: Can Bousset make good the assertion that Jesus’ joy in life was a more or less unconscious inner protest against the purely eschatological worldrenouncing religious attitude, the primal expression of that “absolute” antithesis to Judaism? Is it not the case that His attitude towards earthly goods was wholly conditioned by eschatology? That is to say, were not earthly goods emptied of any essential value in such a way that joy in the world and indifference to the world were simply the final expression of an ironic attitude which had been sublimated into pure serenity. That is the question upon the answer to which depends the decision whether Bousset’s position is tenable or not.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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