the public Life of Jesus, as reconstructed by Noack
|November 17, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter twelve||
But this primitive Luke, as Noack reconstructs it by combining the statements of the Fathers regarding Marcion’s Gospel, knows nothing of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem to die. This circumstance is of capital importance to Noack, because in the course of his attempt to bring the topography of the Fourth Gospel into harmony with that of the Synoptics he had arrived at the remarkable result that the Johannine Christ worked in Galilee, not in Judaea. On the basis of the Onomasticon of Eusebius—which Noack, with the aid of topographical traditions derived from the Crusaders and statements of Mohammedan writers, interprets with a recklessness which is nothing short of criminal—Cana and Bethany (Bethabara) were not in the latitude of Jerusalem, but “near the head-waters of the Jordan in the upper part of the Jordan valley before it flows into the lake of Huleh. There, in Coele-Syria, on the southern slope of Hermon, was the scene of John the Baptist’s labours; there Jesus began His ministry; thither He returned to die.” “It is in the Galilaean district which forms the scene of the Song of Solomon that the reader of this book must be prepared to find the Golgotha of the cross.” That is the sentence with which Noack’s account of the Life of Jesus opens. This alludes to an idea which had already been worked out in his “Studies on the Song of Solomon,” namely, that the mountain country eurrounding the upper Jordan was the preexilic Judaea, and that the “city of David” was situated there. The Jews on their return from exile had at first endeavoured to rebuild that Coele-Syrian city of David with the ruins of Solomon’s Temple, but had been driven away from it and had then taken the desperate resolution to build the temple of Zerubbabel upon the high plateau lying far to the south of ancient Israel. Ezra the Scribe interpolated the forgery on the ground of which this site began to be accepted as the former city of David. Under the Syrian oppression all remembrance of the ancient city of David entirely disappeared.
This fantastic edifice, in the construction of which the wildest etymologies play a part, is founded on the just recognition that a reconciliation of John with the Synoptists can only be effected by transferring some of the Johannine localities to the North; but this involves not only finding Bethany, Arimathea and the other places, but even the scene of Jesus’ death in this district. The brook Kedron conveniently becomes the “brook of Cedars.” For fifty years the two earliest Evangelists, in spite of their poverty of incident, sufficed for the needs of the Christians. The “fire of Jesus” was fed chiefly by the Pauline Gospel. The original form of the Gospel of Luke accordingly became the starting-point of the next stage of development. Thus arose the Gospel of Mark. Mark was not a native of Palestine, but a man of Roman extraction living in Decapolis, who had not the slightest knowledge of the localities in which the life of Jesus was really passed. He undertook, about the year 130, “in the interest of the new Christian settlement at Jerusalem in Hadrian’s time, deliberately and consciously to transform the original plan of the Gospel history and to represent the Lord as crucified at Jerusalem.” The man who from the year 132 onward, as Mark the Bishop, preached the word of the Crucified to a Gentile Christian community amid the ruins of the holy city, had previously, as Mark the Evangelist, taken care that a prophet should not perish out of Jerusalem. In composing his Gospel he made use, in addition to Luke, of a traditional source which he found in Decapolis. He deliberately omitted the frequent journeys to Jerusalem which were still found in the original Luke, and inserted instead Jesus’ journey to His death. He it was, also, who made the Nazarite into the Nazarene, laying the scene of Jesus’ youth in Nazareth. To the cures of demoniacs he added magical acts such as the feeding of the multitude and the resurrection.
In Matthew, who appeared about 135, legend and fiction riot unchecked. In addition, Jewish parables and sayings are put into the mouth of Jesus, whereas He really had nothing to do with the Jewish world of ideas. For if anything is certain, it is that the moral maxims of the latest Gospel are of a distinctively Jewish origin. About the middle of the second century the originals of John and Luke underwent redaction. The redaction of the Logos Gospel was completed by the addition of the twenty-first chapter, the last redaction of Luke was perhaps carried out by Justin Martyr, fresh from completing his “Dialogue with Trypho”! Thus John and Luke are, in this final form, which is full of contradictions, the latest Gospels, and the saying is fulfilled about the first being last, and the last first.
Arbitrary as these suggestions are, there is nevertheless something impressive in the attempt to explain the remarkable inconsistencies which are found within the Gospel tradition by considerations relating to its origin and development. Despite all his far-fetched ideas, Noack really stands higher than some of his contemporaries who showed more prudence in their theological enterprises, and about that time were earning the applause of the faculty, and quieting the minds of the laity, by performing once more the old conjuring trick—assisted by some new feats of leger-demain—of harmonising John with the Synoptists in such a way as to produce a Life of Jesus which could be turned to the service of ecclesiastical theology.
The outline of the public Life of Jesus, as reconstructed by Noack, is as follows. It lasted from early in the year 35 to the 14th Nisan of the year 37, and began in the moment when Jesus revealed His consciousness of what He was. We do not know how long previously He had cherished it in secret. It is certain that the Baptist helped to bring about this revelation. This is the only part which he plays in the Gospel of John. He was neither a preacher of repentance, nor an Elias, nor the forerunner of Jesus, nor a mere signpost pointing to the Messiah, such as the secondary tradition makes him out to be.
Similarly everything that is Messianic in the consciousness of Jesus is secondary. The lines of His thought were guided by the Greek ideaa about sons of God, for the soil of northern Galilee was saturated with these ideas. Other sources which contributed something were the personification of the Divine Wisdom in the “Wisdom Literature” and some of Philo’s doctrines. Jesus became the son of God in an ecstatic trance! Had not Philo recognised ecstasy as the last and highest means of rising to union with the Divine?
 Tharraqah und Sunamith. The Song of Solomon in its historical and topographical setting.1869
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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