The resurrection of Lazarus is authentic.
|November 24, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter three||
Above all, we must retain the supernatural birth and the bodily resurrection, because on the former depends the sinlessness of Jesus, on the latter the certainty of the general resurrection of the dead. The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness was a stratagem of Satan by which he hoped to discover “whether Jesus of Nazareth was really so extraordinary a person that he would have cause to fear Him.” The resurrection of Lazarus is authentic.
But the Gospel narrative is rationalised whenever it can be done. It was not the demons, but the Gadarene demoniacs themselves, who rushed among the swine. Alarmed by their fury the whole herd plunged over the precipice into the lake and were drowned; while by this accommodation to the fixed idea of the demoniacs, Jesus effected their cure. Perhaps, too, Hess conjectures, the Lord desired to test the Gadarenes, and to see whether they would attach greater importance to the good deed done to two of their number than to the loss of their swine. This explanation, reinforced by its moral, held its ground in theology for some sixty years and passed over into a round dozen Lives of Jesus.
This plan of “presenting each occurrence in such a way that what is valuable and instructive in it immediately strikes the eye” is followed out by Hess so faithfully that all clearness of impression is destroyed. The parables are barely recognisable, swathed, as they are, in the mummy-wrappings of his paraphrase; and in most cases their meaning is completely travestied by the ethical or historical allusions which he finds in them. The parable of the pounds is explained as referring to a man who went, like Archelaus, to Rome to obtain the kingship, while his subjects intrigued behind his back.
Of the peculiar beauty of the speech of Jesus not a trace remains. The parable of the Sower, for instance, begins: “A countryman went to sow his field, which lay beside a country-road, and was here and there rather rocky, and in some places weedy, but in general was well cultivated, and had a good sort of soil.” The beatitude upon the mourners appears in the following guise: “Happy are they who amid the adversities of the present make the best of things and submit themselves with patience; for such men, if they do not see better times here, shall certainly elsewhere receive comfort and consolation.” The question addressed by the Pharisees to John the Baptist, and his answer, are given dialogue-wise, in fustian of this kind:—The Pharisees: “We are directed to enquire of you, in the name of our president, who you profess to be? As people are at present expecting the Messiah, and seem not indisposed to accept you in that capacity, we are the more anxious that you should declare yourself with regard to your vocation and person.” John: “The conclusion might have been drawn from my discourses that I was not the Messiah. Why should people attribute such lofty pretensions to me?” etc. In order to give the Gospels the true literary flavour, a characterisation is tacked on to each of the persons of the narrative. In the case of the disciples, for instance, this runs: “They had sound common sense, but very limited insight; the capacity to receive teaching, but an incapacity for reflective thought; a knowledge of their own weakness, but a difficulty in getting rid of old prejudices; sensibility to right feeling, but weakness in following out a pre-determined moral plan.”
The simplest occurrences give occasion for sentimental portraiture. The saying “Except ye become as little children” is introduced in the following fashion: “Jesus called a boy who was standing near. The boy came. Jesus took his hand and told him to stand beside Him, nearer than any of His disciples, so that he had the foremost place among them. Then Jesus threw His arm round the boy and pressed him tenderly to His breast. The disciples looked on in astonishment, wondering what this meant. Then He explained to them,” etc. In these expansions Hess does not always escape the ludicrous. The saying of Jesus in John x. 9, “I am the door,” takes on the following form: “No one, whether he be sheep or shepherd, can come into the fold (if, that is to say, he follows the right way) except in so far as he knows me and is admitted by me, and included among the flock.”
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
|Also in print from Barnes and Noble
As an E-book at: