primitive Christianity was not something which grew, so to speak, out of the teaching of Jesus
|November 24, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter two||
The solution offered by Reimarus may be wrong; the data of observation from which he starts out are, beyond question, right, because the primary datum of all is genuinely historical. He recognised that two systems of Messianic expectation were present side by side in Late Judaism. He endeavoured to bring them into mutual relations in order to represent the actual movement of the history. In so doing he made the mistake of placing them in consecutive order, ascribing to Jesus the political Son-of-David conception, and to the Apostles, after His death, the apocalyptic system based on Daniel, instead of superimposing one upon the other in such a way that the Messianic King might coincide with the Son of Man, and the ancient prophetic conception might be inscribed within the circumference of the Daniel-descended apocalyptic, and raised along with it to the supersensuous plane. But what matters the mistake in comparison with the fact that the problem was really grasped?
Reimarus felt that the absence in the preaching of Jesus of any definition of the principal term (the Kingdom of God), in conjunction with the great and rapid success of His preaching constituted a problem, and he formulated the conception that Jesus was not a religious founder and teacher, but purely a preacher.
He brought the Synoptic and Johannine narratives into harmony by practically leaving the latter out of account. The attitude of Jesus towards the law, and the process by which the disciples came to take up a freer attitude, was grasped and explained by him so accurately that modern historical science does not need to add a word, but would be well pleased if at least half the theologians of the present day had got as far.
Further, he recognised that primitive Christianity was not something which grew, so to speak, out of the teaching of Jesus, but that it came into being as a new creation, in consequence of events and circumstances which added something to that preaching which it did not previously contain; and that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, in the historical sense of these terms, were not instituted by Jesus, but created by the early Church on the basis of certain historical assumptions.
Again, Reimarus felt that the fact that the “event of Easter” was first proclaimed at Pentecost constituted a problem, and he sought a solution for it. He recognised, further, that the solution of the problem of the life of Jesus calls for a combination of the methods of historical and literary criticism. He felt that merely to emphasise the part played by eschatology would not suffice, but that it was necessary to assume a creative element in the tradition, to which he ascribed the miracles, the stories which turn on the fulfilment of Messianic prophecy, the universalistic traits and the predictions of the passion and the resurrection. Like Wrede, too he feels that the prescription of silence in the case of miracles of healing and of certain communications to the disciples constitutes a problem which demands solution.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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