The Gospel of Matthew cannot, Wilke agrees, have been the work of an eyewitness
|November 20, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter nine||
The Gospel of Matthew cannot, Wilke agrees, have been the work of an eyewitness. “The principal argument against its authenticity is the absence of the characteristic marks of an eyewitness, which must necessarily have been present in a gospel actually composed by a disciple of the Lord, and which are not present here. The narrative is lacking in precision, fragmentary and legendary, tradition everywhere manifest in its very form.” There are discrepancies in the legends of the first and second chapters, as well as elsewhere, e.g. the stories of the baptism, the temptation, and the transfiguration. In other cases, where there is a basis of historic fact, there is an admixture of legendary material, as in the narratives of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
In the Gospel of Mark, Wilke recognises the pictorial vividness of many of the descriptions, and conjectures that in some way or other it goes back to the Petrine tradition. The author of the Fourth Gospel is not an eyewitness; the kat? (according to) only indicates the origin of the tradition; the author received it, either directly or indirectly, from the Apostle, but he gave to it the gnosticising dialectical form of the Alexandrian theology.
As against the Diegesentheorie Wilke defends the independence and originality of the individual Gospels. “No one of the Evangelists knew the writing of any of the others, each produced an independent work drawn from a separate source.”
In the remarks on points of detail in this work of Wilke’s there is evidence of a remarkable grasp of the critical data; we already get a hint of the “mathematician” of the Synoptic problem, who, two years later, was to work out convincingly the literary argument for the priority of Mark. But the historian is quite subordinated to the literary critic, and, when all is said, Wilke takes up no clearly defined position in regard to Strauss’s main problem, as is evident from his seeking to retain, on more or less plausible grounds, a whole series of miracles, among them the miracle of Cana and the resurrection.
For most thinkers of that period, however, the question “myth or history” yielded in interest to the philosophical question of the relation of the historical Jesus to the ideal Christ. That was the second problem raised by Strauss. Some thought to refute him by showing that his exposition of the relation of the Jesus of history to the ideal Christ was not justified even from the point of view of the Hegelian philosophy, arguing that the edifice which he had raised was not in harmony with the ground-plan of the Hegelian speculative system. He therefore felt it necessary, in his reply to the review in the Jahrbücher für wissenschaftliche Kritik, to expound “the general relationship of the Hegelian philosophy to theological criticism,” and to express in more precise form the thoughts upon speculative and historical Christology which he had suggested at the close of the second volume of his “Life of Jesus.”
He admits that Hegel’s philosophy is ambiguous in this matter, since it is not clear “whether the evangelical fact as such, not indeed in its isolation, but together with the whole series of manifestations of the idea (of God-manhood) in the history of the world, is the truth; or whether the embodiment of the idea in that single fact is only a formula of which consciousness makes use in forming its concept.” The Hegelian “right,” he says, represented by Marheineke and Göschel, emphasises the positive side of the master’s religious philosophy, implying that in Jesus the idea of God-manhood was perfectly fulfilled and in a certain sense intelligibly realised. “If these men,” Strauss explains, “appeal to Hegel and declare that he would not have recognised my book as an expression of his meaning, they say nothing which is not in accordance with my own convictions. Hegel was personally no friend co historical criticism. It annoyed him, as it annoyed Goethe, to see the historic figures of antiquity, on which their thoughts were accustomed lovingly to dwell, assailed by critical doubts. Even if it was in some cases wreaths of mist which they took for pinnacles of rock, they did not want to have this forced upon their attention, nor to be disturbed in the illusion from which they were conscious of receiving an elevating influence.”
 See p. 89 above.
 Streitschriften. Drittes Heft, pp. 55-126: Die Jahrbülcher für wissenschaftliche Kritik: i. Allgemeines Verhältnis der Hegel‘schen Philosophic zur theologischen Kritik: ii. Hegels Ansicht über den historischen. Wert der evangelischen Geschichte (Hegel’s View of the Historical Value of the Gospel History); iii. Verschiedene Richtungen innerhalb der Hegel’schen Schule in Betreff der Christologie (Various Tendencies within the Hegelian School in regard to Christology). 1837.
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