The agitation against him was engineered from Berlin, where his successful attack upon the illiberal constitution of the Church had not been forgiven
|November 16, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter fourteen||
If Schenkel’s picture of Jesus’ character attracted much more attention than Weizsäcker’s work, that is mainly due to the art of lively popular presentation by which it is distinguished. The writer knows well how to keep the reader’s interest awake by the use of exciting headlines. Catchwords abound, and arrest the ear, for they are the words about which the religious controversies of the time revolved. There is never far to look for the moral of the history, and the Jesus here portrayed can be imagined plunging into the midst of the debates in any ministerial conference. The moralising, it must be admitted, sometimes becomes the occasion of the feeblest ineptitudes. Jesus sent out His disciples two and two; this is for Schenkel a marvellous exhibition of wisdom. The Lord designed, thereby, to show that in His opinion “nothing is more inimical to the interests of the Kingdom of God than individualism, self-will, self-pleasing.” Schenkel entirely fails to recognise the superb irony of the saying that in this life all that a man gives up for the sake of the Kingdom of God is repaid a hundredfold in persecutions, in order that in the Coming Age he may receive eternal life as his reward. He interpreted it as meaning that the sufferer shall be compensated by love; his fellow-Christians will endeavour to make it up to him, and will offer him their own possessions so freely that, in consequence of this brotherly love, he will soon have, for the house which he has lost, a hundred houses, for the lost sisters, brothers, and so forth, a hundred sisters, a hundred brothers, a hundred fathers, a hundred mothers, a hundred farms. Schenkel forgets to add that, if this is to be the interpretation of the saying, the persecuted man must also receive through this compensating love, a hundred wives.
This want of insight into the largeness, the startling originality, the selfcontradictoriness, and the terrible irony in the thought of Jesus, is not a peculiarity of Schenkel’s; it is characteristic of all the liberal Lives of Jesus from Strauss’s down to Oskar Holtzmann’s. How could it be otherwise? They had to transpose a way of envisaging the world which belonged to a hero and a dreamer to the plane of thought of a rational bourgeois religion. But in Schenkel’s representation, with its popular appeal, this banality is particularly obtrusive.
In the end, however, what made the success of the book was not its popular characteristics, whether good or bad, but the enmity which it drew down upon the author. The Basle Privat-Docent who, in his work of 1839, had congratulated the Zurichers on having rejected Strauss, now, as Professor and Director of the Seminary at Heidelberg, came very near being adjudged worthy of the Martyr’s crown himself. He had been at Heidelberg since 1851, after holding for a short time De Wette’s chair at Basle. At his first coming a mildly reactionary theology might have claimed him as its own. He gave it a right to do so by the way in which he worked against the philosopher, Kuno Fischer, in tne Higher Consistory. But in the struggles over the constitution of the Church he changed his position. As a defender of the rights of the laity he ranged himself on the more liberal side. After his great victory in the General Synod of 1861, in which the new constitution of the Church was established, he called a German Protestant assembly at Franktort, in order to set on foot a general movement for Church reform. This assembly met in 1863, and led to the formation of the Protestant Association.
When the Charakterbild Jesu appeared, friend and foe were alike surprised at the thoroughness with which Schenkel advocated the more liberal views. “Schenkel’s book,” complained Luthardt, in a lecture at Leipzig, “has aroused a painful interest. We had learnt to know him in many aspects; we were not prepared for such an apostasy from his own past. How long is it since he brought about the dismissal of Kuno Fischer from Heidelberg because he saw in the pantheism of this philosopher a danger to Church and State? It is still fresh in our memory that it was he who in the year 1852 drew up the report of the Theological Faculty of Heidelberg upon the ecclesiastical controversy raised by Pastor Dulon at Bremen, in which he denied Dulon’s Christianity on the ground that he had assailed the doctrines of original sin, of justification by faith, of a living and personal God, of the eternal Divine Sonship of Christ, of the Kingdom of God, and of the credibility of the holy Scriptures.” And now this same Schenkel was misusing the Life of Jesus as a weapon in “party polemics”!
The agitation against him was engineered from Berlin, where his successful attack upon the illiberal constitution of the Church had not been forgiven. One hundred and seventeen Baden clerics signed a protest declaring the author unfitted to hold office as a theological teacher in the Baden Church. Throughout the whole of Germany the pastors agitated against him. It was especially demanded that he should be immediately removed from his post as Director of the Seminary. A counter-protest was issued by the Durlach Conference in the July of 1864, in which Bluntschli and Holtzmann vigorously defended him. The Ecclesiastical Council supported him, and the storm gradually died away, especially when Schenkel in two “Defences” skilfully softened down the impression made by his work, and endeavoured to quiet the public mind by pointing out that he had only attempted to set forth one side of the truth.
 Omitted in some of the best texts. —F. C. B
 Oskar Holtzmann, Das Leben Jesu, 1901.
 Die modernen Darstellungen des Lebens Jesu. (Modern Presentments of the Life of Jesus.) A discussion of the works of Strauss, Renan, and Schenkel, and of the Essays of Coquerel the Younger, Scherer, Colani, and Keim. A lecture by Chr. Ernest Luthardt, Leipzig. lst and 2nd editions, 1864. Luthardt was born in 1823 at Maroldsweisach in Lower Franconia became Docent at Erlangen in 1851, was called to Marburg as Professor Extraordinary in 1854, and to Leipzig as Ordinary Professor in 1856. He died in 1902.
 Zur Orientierung über meine Schrift “Das Charakterbild Jesu.” (Explanations intended to place my work “A picture of the Character of Jesus” in the proper light.) 1864. Die protestantische Freiheit in ihrem gegenwärtigen Kampfe mit der kirchlichen Reaktion. (Protestant Freedom in its present Struggle with Ecclesiastical Reaction.) 1865.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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