The liberal Jesus has given place to Germanic Jesus.
|November 7, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter eighteen||
Oskar Holtzmann realises that to a certain extent. According to him Mark is a writer “who embodied the materials which he received from the tradition more faithfully than discriminatingly.” “That which was related as a symbol of inner events, he takes as history—in the case, for example, of the temptation, the walking on the sea, the transfiguration of Jesus.” “Again in other cases he has made a remarkable occurrence into a supernatural miracle, as in the case of the feeding of the multitude, where Jesus’ courageous love and ready organising skill overcame a momentary difficulty, whereas the Evangelist represents it as an amazing miracle of Divine omnipotence.”
Oskar Holtzmann is thus more cautious than von Soden. He is inclined to see in the material which he wishes to exclude from the history, not so much inventions of the Church as mistaken shaping of history by Mark, and in this way he gets back to genuine old-fashioned rationalism. In the feeding of the multitude Jesus showed “the confidence of a courageous housewife who knows how to provide skilfully for a great crowd of children from small resources.” Perhaps in a future work Oskar Holtzmann will be less reserved, not for the sake of theology, but of national well-being, and will inform his contemporaries what kind of domestic economy it was which made it possible for the Lord to satisfy with five loaves and two fishes several thousand hungry men.
Modern historical theology, therefore, with its three-quarters scepticism, is left at last with only a torn and tattered Gospel of Mark in its hands. One would naturally suppose that these preliminary operations upon the source would lead to the production of a Life of Jesus of a similarly fragmentary character. Nothing of the kind. The outline is still the same as in Schenkel’s day, and the confidence with which construction is carried out is not less complete. Only the catchwords with which the narrative is enlivened have been changed, being taken in part from Nietzsche. The liberal Jesus has given place to Germanic Jesus. This is a figure which has as little to do with the Marcan hypothesis as the “liberal” Jesus had which preceded it; otherwise it could not so easily have survived the downfall of the Gospel of Mark as an historical source. It is evident, therefore, that this professedly historical Jesus is not a purely historical figure, but one which has been artificially transplanted into history. As formerly in Renan the romantic spirit created the personality of Jesus in its own image, so at the present day the Germanic spirit is making a Jesus after its own likeness. What is admitted as historic is just what the Spirit of the time can take out of the records in order to assimilate it to itself and bring out of it a living form.
Frenssen betrays the secret of his teachers when in Hilligenlei he confidently superscribes the narrative drawn from the “latest critical investigations” with the title “The Life of the Saviour portrayed according to German research as the basis for a spiritual re-birth of the German nation.”
 Von Soden, for instance, germanises Jesus when he writes, “and this nature is sound to the core. In spite of its inwardness there is no trace of an exaggerated sentimentality. In spite of all the intensity of prayer there is nothing of ecstasy or vision. No apocalyptic dream-pictures find a lodging-place in His soul.” Is a man who teaches a world-renouncing ethic which sometimes soars to the dizzy heights such as that of Matt. xix. 12, according to our conceptions “sound to the core”? And does not the life of Jesus present a number of occasions on which He seems to have been in an ecstasy? Thus, von Soden has not simply read his Jesus out of the texts, but has added something of his own, and that something is Germanic in colouring.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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