The psychological explanation of motive, and the psychological connexion of the events and actions which such critics have proposed to find in Mark, simply do not exist
|November 4, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter nineteen||
Another hitherto self-evident point—the “historical kernel” which it has been customary to extract from the narratives—must be given up, until it is proved, if it is capable of proof, that we can and ought to distinguish between the kernel and the husk. We may take all that is reported as either historical or unhistorical, but, in respect of the definite predictions of the passion, death, and resurrection, we ought to give up taking the reference to the passion as historical and letting the rest go; we may accept the idea of the atoning death, or we may reject it, but we ought not to ascribe to Jesus a feeble, anaemic version of this idea, while setting down to the account of the Pauline theology the interpretation of the passion which we actually find in Mark.
Whatever the results obtained by the aid of the historical kernel, the method pursued is the same; “it is detached from its context and transformed into something different.” “It finally comes to this,” says Wrede, “that each critic retains whatever portion of the traditional sayings can be fitted into his construction of the facts and his conception of historical possibility and rejects the rest.” The psychological explanation of motive, and the psychological connexion of the events and actions which such critics have proposed to find in Mark, simply do not exist. That being so, nothing is to be made out of his account by the application of a priori psychology. A vast quantity of treasures of scholarship and erudition, of art and artifice, which the Marcan hypothesis has gathered into its storehouse in the two generations of its existence to aid it in constructing its life of Jesus has become worthless, and can be of no further service to true historical research. Theology has been simplified. What would become of it if that did not happen every hundred years or so? And the simplification was badly needed, for no one since Strauss had cleared away its impedimenta.
Thoroughgoing scepticism and thoroughgoing eschatology, between them, are compelling theology to read the Marcan text again with simplicity of mind. The simplicity consists in dispensing with the connecting links which it has been accustomed to discover between the sections of the narrative (pericopes), in looking at each one separately, and recognising that it is difficult to pass from one to the other.
The material with which it has hitherto been usual to solder the sections together into a life of Jesus will not stand the temperature test. Exposed to the cold air of critical scepticism it cracks; when the furnace of eschatology is heated to a certain point the solderings melt. In both cases the sections all fall apart.
Formerly it was possible to book through-tickets at the supplementary-psychological-knowledge office which enabled those travelling in the interests of Life-of-Jesus construction to use express trains, thus avoiding the inconvenience of having to stop at every little station, change, and run the risk of missing their connexion. This ticket office is now closed. There is a station at the end of each section of the narrative, and the connexlons are not guaranteed.
The fact is, it is not simply that there is no very obvious psychological connexion between the sections; in almost every case there is a positive break in the connexion. And there is a great deal in the Marcan narrative which is inexplicable and even self-contradictory.
In their statement of the problems raised by this want of connexion Wrede and the “Sketch” are in the most exact agreement. That these difficulties are not artificially constructed has been shown by our survey of the history of the attempts to write the Life of Jesus, in the course of which these problems emerge one after another, after Bruno Bauer had by anticipation grasped them all in their complexity.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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