These outbreaks of bitterness are to be explained by the feeling of repulsion which German apologetic theology inspired in every genuinely honest and thoughtful man
|November 20, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter eleven||
The last words ascribed to Jesus by Mark, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” were written without thinking of the inferences that might be drawn from them, merely with the purpose of showing that even to the last moment of His passion Jesus fulfilled the role of the Messiah, the picture of whose sufferings had been revealed to the Psalmist so long beforehand by the Holy Spirit.
It is scarcely necessary now, Bauer thinks, to go into the contradictions in the story of the resurrection, for “the doughty Reimarus, with his thorough-going honesty, has already, fully exposed them, and no one has refuted him.”
The results of Bauer’s analysis may be summed up as follows:—
The Fourth Evangelist has betrayed the secret of the original Gospel, namely, that it too can be explained on purely literary grounds. Mark has “loosed us from the theological lie.” “Thanks to the kindly fate,” cries Bauer, “which has preserved to us this writing of Mark by which we have been delivered from the web of deceit of this hellish pseudo-science!”
In order to tear this web of falsehood the critic and historian must, despite his repugnance, once more take up the pretended arguments of the theologians in favour of the historicity of the Gospel narratives and set them on their feet, only to knock them down again. In the end Bauer’s only feeling towards the theologians was one of contempt. “The expression of his contempt,” he declares, “is the last weapon which the critic, after refuting the arguments of the theologians, has at his disposal for their discomfiture; it is his right to use it; that puts the finishing touch upon his task and points forward to the happy time when the arguments of the theologians shall no more be heard of.”
These outbreaks of bitterness are to be explained by the feeling of repulsion which German apologetic theology inspired in every genuinely honest and thoughtful man by the methods which it adopted in opposing Strauss. Hence the fiendish joy with which he snatches away the crutches of this pseudo-science, hurls them to a distance, and makes merry over its helplessness. A furious hatred, a fierce desire to strip the theologians absolutely bare, carried Bauer much farther than his critical acumen would have led him in cold blood.
Bauer hated the theologians for still holding fast to the barbarous conception that a great man had forced himself into a stereotyped and unspiritual system, and in that way had set in motion great ideas, whereas he held that that would have signified the death of both the personality and the ideas; but this hatred is only the surface symptom of another hatred, which goes deeper than theology, going down, indeed, to the very depths of the Christian conception of the world. Bruno Bauer hates not only the theologians, but Christianity, and hates it because it expresses a truth in a wrong way. It is a religion which has become petrified in a transitional form. A religion which ought to have led on to the true religion has usurped the place of the true religion, and in this petrified form it holds prisoner all the real forces of religion.
Religion is the victory over the world of the self-conscious ego. It is only when the ego grasps itself in its antithesis to the world as a whole, and is no longer content to play the part of a mere “walking gentleman” in the world-drama, but faces the world with independence and reserve, that the necessary conditions of universal religion are present. These conditions came into being with the rise of the Roman Empire, in which the individual suddenly found himself helpless and unarmed in face of a world in which he could no longer find free play for his activities, but must stand prepared at any moment to be ground to powder by it.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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