Otto Schmiedel’s “The Principal Problems of the Study of the Life of Jesus,”
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We should not, however, regard the evidence of supernatural knowledge and the self-contradictions of this Life of Jesus as a matter for censure, but rather as a proof of the merits of O. Holtzmann’s work. He has written the last large-scale Life of Jesus, the only one which the Marcan hypothesis has produced, and aims at providing a scientific basis for the assumptions which the general lines of that hypothesis compel him to make; and in this process it becomes clearly apparent that the connexion of events can only be carried through at the decisive passages by violent treatment, or even by rejection of the Marcan text in the interests of the Marcan hypothesis.
These merits do not belong in the same measure to the other modern Lives of Jesus, which follow more or less the same lines. They are short sketches, in some cases based on lectures, and their brevity makes them perhaps more lively and convincing than Holtzmann’s work; but they take for granted just what he felt it necessary to prove. P. W. Schmidt’s Geschichte Jesu (1899), which as a work of literary art has few rivals among theological works of recent years, confines itself to pure narrative. The volume of prolegomena which appeared in 1904, and is intended to exhibit the foundations of the narrative, treats of the sources, of the Kingdom of God, of the Son of Man, and of the Law. It makes the most of the weakening of the eschatological standpoint which is manifested in the second edition of Johannes Weiss’s “Preaching of Jesus,” but it does not give sufficient prominence to the difficulties of reconstructing the public ministry of Jesus.
Neither Otto Schmiedel’s “The Principal Problems of the Study of the Life of Jesus,” nor von Soden’s “Vacation Lectures” on “The Principal Questions in the Life of Jesus” fulfils the promise of its title. They both aim rather at solving new problems proposed by themselves than at restating the old ones and adding new. They hope to meet the views of Jonnes Weiss by strongly emphasising the eschatology, and think they can escape the critical scepticism of writers like Volkmar and Brandt by assuming an “Ur-Markus.” Their view is, therefore, that with a few modifications dictated by the eschatological and sceptical school, the traditional conception of the Life of Jesus is still tenable, whereas it is just the a priori presuppositions of this conception, hitherto held to be self-evident, which constitute the main problems.
 Oskar Holtzmann’s work. War Jesus Ekstatiker? (Tübingen, 1903, 139 pp.) is in reality a new reading of the life of Jesus. By emphasising the ecstatic element he breaks with the “natural” conception of the life and teaching of Jesus; and, in so far, approaches the eschatological view. But he gives a very wide significance to the term ecstatic, subsuming under it, it might almost be said, all the eschatological thoughts and utterances of Jesus. He explains, for instance, that “the conviction of the approaching destruction of existing conditions is ecstatic.” At the same time, the only purpose served by the hypothesis of ecstasy is to enable the author to attribute to Jesus “The belief that in His own work the Kingdom of God was already beginning, and the promise of the Kingdom to individuals; this can only be considered ecstatic.” The opposites which Bousset brings together by the conception of paradox are united by Holtzmann by means of the hypothesis of ecstasy. That is, however, to play fast and loose with the meaning of “ecstasy.” An ecstasy is, in the usual understanding of the word, an abnormal, transient condition of excitement in which the subject’s natural capacity for thought and feeling, and therewith all impressions from without, are suspended, being superseded by an intense mental excitation and activity. Jesus may possibly have been in an ecstatic state at His baptism and at the transfiguration. What O. Holtzmann represents as a kind of permanent ecstatic state is rather an eschatological fixed idea. With eschatology, ecstasy has no essential connexion. It is possible to be eschatologically minded without being an ecstatic, and vice versa. Philo attributes a great importance to ecstasy in his religious life, but he was scarcely, if at all, interested in eschatology.
 P. W. Schmidt, now Professor in Basle, was born in Berlin in 1845.
 Otto Schmiedel, Professor at the Gymnasium at Eisenach, Die Hauptproblem der Leben-Jesu-Forschung. Tübingen, 1902. 71 pp. Schmiedel was born in 1858.
Hermann Freiherr von Soden, Die wichtigsten Fragen im Lehen Jesu. Von Soden, Professor in Berlin, and preacher at the Jerusalem Kirche, was born in 1852. We may mention also the following works:—
Fritz Barth (born 1856, Professor at Bern), Die Hauptprobleme des Lebens Jesu. 1st ed., 1899; 2nd ed., 1903.
Friedrich Nippold’s Der Entwicklungsgang des Lebens Jesu im Wortlaut der drei ersten Evangelien (The Course of the Life of Jesus in the Words of the First Three Evangelists) (Hamburg, 1895, 213 pp.) is only an arrangement of the sections.
Konrad Furrer’s Vorträge über das Leben Jesu Christi (Lectures on the Life of Jesus Christ) have a special charm by reason of the author’s knowledge of the country and the locality. Furrer, who was born in 1838, is Professor at Zurich.
Another work which should not be forgotten is R. Otto’s Leben und Wirken Jesu nach historisch-kritischer Auffassung (Life and Work of Jesus from the Point of View of Historica1 Criticism). A Lecture. Göttingen, 1902. Rudolf Otto, born in 1869, is Privat-Docent at Göttingen.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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