The story of Lazarus deserves special attention. Did not Spinoza say that he would break his system in pieces if he could be convinced of the reality of this event?
|November 20, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter eleven||
It is the same with the transfiguration. The group in which the heroic representatives of the Law and the Prophets stand as supporters of the Saviour, was modelled by the earliest Evangelist. In order to place it in the proper light and to give becoming splendour to its great subject, he has introduced a number of traits taken from the story of Moses.
Bauer pitilessly exposes the difficulties of the journey of Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem, and exults over the perplexities of the “apologists.” “The theologian,” he says, “must not boggle at this journey, he must just believe it. He must in faith follow the footsteps of his Lord! Through the midst of Galilee and Samaria—and at the same time, for Matthew also claims a hearing, through Judaea on the farther side of Jordan! I wish him Bon voyage!”
The eschatological discourses are not history, but are merely an expansion of those explanations of the sufferings of the Church of which we have had a previous example in the charge to the Twelve. An Evangelist who wrote before the destruction of Jerusalem would have referred to the Temple, to Jerusalem, and to the Jewish people, in a very different way.
The story of Lazarus deserves special attention. Did not Spinoza say that he would break his system in pieces if he could be convinced of the reality of this event? This is the decisive point for the question of the relation between the Synoptists and John. Vain are all the efforts of the apologists to explain why the Synoptists do not mention this miracle. The reason they ignore it is that it originated after their time in the mind of the Fourth Evangelist, and they were unacquainted with his Gospel. And yet it is the most valuable of all, because it shows clearly the concentric circles of progressive intensification by which the development of the Gospel history proceeds. “The Fourth Gospel,” remarks Bauer, “represents a dead man as having been restored to life after having been four days under the power of death, and having consequently become a prey to corruption; Luke represents the young man at Nain as being restored to life when his body was being carried to the grave; Mark, the earliest Evangelist, can only tell us of the restoration of a dead person who had the moment before succumbed to an illness. The theologians have a great deal to say about the contrast between the canonical and the apocryphal writings, but they might have found a similar contrast even within the four Gospels, if the light had not been so directly in their eyes.”
The treachery of Judas, as described in the Gospels, is inexplicable.
The Lord’s Supper, considered as an historic scene, is revolting and inconceivable. Jesus can no more have instituted it than He can have uttered the saying, “Let the dead bury their dead.” In both cases the objectionableness arises from the fact that a tenet of the early Church has been cast into the form of an historical saying of Jesus. A man who was present in person, corporeally present, could not entertain the idea of offering others his flesh and blood to eat. To demand from others that they should, while he was actually present, imagine the bread and wine which they were eating to be his body and blood, would be for an actual man wholly impossible. It was only when Jesus’ actual bodily presence had been removed, and only when the Christian community had existed for some time, that such a conception as is expressed in that formula could have arisen. A point which clearly betrays the later composition of the narrative is that the Lord does not turn to the disciples sitting with Him at table and say, “This is my blood which is shed for you,” but, since the words were invented by the early Church, speaks of the “many” for whom He gives Himself. The only historical fact is that the Jewish Passover was gradually transformed by the Christian community into a feast which had reference to Jesus.
As regards the scene in Gethsemane, Mark, according to Bauer, held it necessary that in the moment when the last conflict and final catastrophe were coming upon Jesus, He should show clearly by His actions that He met this fate of His own free will. The reality of His choice could only be made clear by showing Him first engaged in an inner struggle against the acceptance of His vocation, before showing how He freely submitted to His fate.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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