not giving that which is holy to the dogs or casting pearls before swine, does not belong to the Sermon on the Mount
|November 7, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter eighteen||
The credit of having written a life of Christ which is strictly scientific, in its own way very remarkable, and yet foredoomed to failure, belongs to Oskar Holtzmann. He has complete confidence in the Marcan plan, and makes it his task to fit all the sayings of Jesus into this framework, to show “what can belong to each period of the preaching of Jesus, and what cannot.” His method is to give free play to the magnetic power of the most important passages in the Marcan text, making other sayings of similar import detach themselves from their present connexion and come and group themselves round the main passages.
For example, the controversy with the scribes at Jerusalem regarding the charge of doing miracles by the help of Satan (Mark iii. 22-30) belongs, according to Holtzmann, as regards content and chronology, to the same period as the controversy, in Mark vii., about the ordinances of men which results in Jesus being “obliged to take to flight”; the woes pronounced upon Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, which now follow on the eulogy upon the Baptist (Matt. xi. 21-23), and are accordingly represented as having been spoken at the time of the sending forth of the Twelve, are drawn by the same kind of magnetic force into the neighbourhood of Mark vii., and “express very clearly the attitude of Jesus at the time of His withdrawal from the scene of His earlier ministry.” The saying in Matt. vii. 6 about not giving that which is holy to the dogs or casting pearls before swine, does not belong to the Sermon on the Mount, but to the time when Jesus, after Caesarea Philippi, forbids the disciples to reveal the secret of His Messiahship to the multitude; Jesus’ action in cursing the fig-tree so that it should henceforth bring no fruit to its owner, who was perhaps a poor man, is to be brought into relation with the words spoken on the evening before, with reference, to the lavish expenditure involved in His anointing, “The poor ye have always with you,” the point being that Jesus now, “in the clear consciousness of His approaching death, feels His own worth,” and dismisses “the contingency of even the poor having to lose something for His sake” with the words “it does not matter.”
All these transpositions and new connexions mean, it is clear, a great deal of internal and external violence to the text.
A further service rendered by this very thorough work of Oskar Holtzmann’s, is that of showing how much reading between the lines is necessary in order to construct a Life of Jesus on the basis of the Marcan hypothesis in its modern interpretation. It is thus, for instance that the author must have acquired the knowledge that the controversy about the ordinances of purification in Mark vii. forced the people “to choose between the old and the new religion”—in which case it is no wonder that many “turned back from following Jesus.”
 Oskar Holtzmann, Professor of Theology at Giessen, was born in 1859 at Stuttgart.
 This suggestlon reminds us involuntarily of the old rationalistic Lives of Jesus, which are distressed that Jesus should have injured the good people of the country of the Gesarenes by sacrificing their swine in healing the demoniac. A good deal of old rationalistic material crops up in the very latest Lives of Jesus, as cannot indeed fail to be the case in view of the arbitrary interpretation of detail which is common to both. According to Oskar Holtzmann the barren fig-tree has also a symbolical meaning. “It is a pledge given by God to Jesus that His faith shall not be put to shame in the great work of His life.”
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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