The ritual worship of the God of Israel remained for Jesus always a sacred thing
|November 16, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter fifteen||
The historical Jesus therefore founded a community of followers without advancing any claims to the Messiahship. He desired only to be a reformer; the spiritual deliverer of the people of God, to realise upon earth the Kingdom of God which they were all seeking in the beyond, and to extend the reign of God over all nations. “The Kingdom of God is doubtless to win its final and decisive victory by the almighty aid of God; our duty is to see to its beginnings”—that is, according to Volkmar, the lesson which Jesus teaches us in the parable of the Sower. The ethic of this Kingdom was not yet confused by any eschatological ideas. It was only when, as the years went on, the expectation of the Parousia rose to a high pitch of intensity that “marriage and the bringing up of children came to be regarded as superfluous, and were consequently thought of as signs of an absorption in earthly interests which was out of harmony with the near approach to the goal of these hopes.” Jesus had renewed the foundations on which “the family” was based and had made it, in turn, a corner stone of the Kingdom of God, even as He had consecrated the common meal by making it a love feast.
In most things Jesus was conservative. The ritual worship of the God of Israel remained for Him always a sacred thing. But in spite of that He withdrew more and more from the synagogue, the scene of His earliest preaching, and taught in the houses of His disciples. “He had learned to fulfil the law as implicit in one highest commandment and supreme principle, therefore ‘in spirit and in truth’; but He never, as appears from all the evidence, declared it to be abolished.” “We may be equally certain, however, that Jesus, while He asserted the abiding validity of the Ten Commandments, never explicitly declared that of the Mosaic Law as a whole. The absence of any such saying from the tradition regarding Jesus made it possible for Paul to take his decisive step forward.”
As regards the Gospel discourses about the Parousia, it is easy to recognise that, even in Mark, these “are one and all the work of the narrator, whose purpose is edification. He connects his work as closely as possible with the Apocalypse, which had appeared some five years earlier, in order to emphasize, in contrast to it, the higher truth.” Jesus’ own hope, in all its clearness and complete originality, is recorded in the parables of the seed growing secretly and the grain of mustard seed, and in the saying about the immortality of His words. Nothing beyond this is in any way certain, however remarkable the saying in Mark ix. 1 may be, that the looked-for consummation is to take place during the lifetime of the existing generation.
“It is only the fact that Mark is preceded by ‘the book of the Birth (and History) of Christ according to Matthew’—not only in the Scriptures, but also in men’s minds, which were dominated by it as the ‘first Gospel’— which has caused it to be taken as self-evident that Jesus, knowing Himself from the first to be the Messiah, expected His Parousia solely from heaven, and therefore with, or in, the clouds of heaven. . . . But since He who was thought of as by birth the Son of God, is now thought of as the Son of Man, born an Israelite, and becoming the Son of God after the spirit only at His baptism, the hope that looks to the clouds of heaven cannot be, or at least ought not to be, any longer explained otherwise than as an enthusiastic dream.”
If, even at the beginning of the eighties, a so extreme theory on the other side could, without opposition, occupy all the points of vantage, it is evident that the theory which gave eschatology its due place was making but slow progress. It was not that any one had been disputing the ground with it, but that all its operations were characterised by a nervous timidity. And these hesitations are not to be laid to the account of those who did not perceive the approach of the decisive conflict, or refused to accept battle, like the followers of Reuss, for instance, who were satisfied with the hypothesis that thoughts about the Last Judgment had forced their way into the authentic discourses of Jesus about the destruction of the city; even those who like Weiffenbach are fully convinced that “the eschatological question, and in particular the question of the Second Coming, which in many quarters has up to the present been treated as a noli me tangere, must sooner or later become the battle-ground of the greatest and most decisive of theological controversies”—even those who shared this conviction stopped half-way on the road on which they had entered.
 Kienlen, “Die eschatologische Rede Jesu Matt. xxiv. cum Parall.” (Tha Eschatological Discourse of Jesus in Matt. xxiv. with the parallel passages), Jahrbuch für die Theologie, 1869, pp. 706-709. Analysis of other attempts directed to the same end in Weiffenbach, Der Wiederkunftsgedanke, p. 31 ff.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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