These problems were covered up by the naturalistic psychology as by a light snow-drift
|November 4, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter nineteen||
What is the meaning of the further prediction on the way to Gethsemane (Mark xiv. 28) that after His resurrection He will go before the disciples into Galilee? How is the other version of this saying (Mark xvi. 7) to be explained, according to which it means, as spoken by the angel, that the disciples are to journey to Galilee to have their first meeting with the risen Jesus there, whereas, on the lips of Jesus, it betokened that, just as now as a sufferer He was going before them from Galilee to Jerusalem, so, after His resurrection, He would go before them from Jerusalem to Galilee? And what was to happen there?
These problems were covered up by the naturalistic psychology as by a light snow-drift. The snow has melted, and they now stand out from the narratives like black points of rock. It is no longer allowable to avoid these questions, or to solve them, each by itself, by softening them down and giving them an interpretation by which the reported facts acquire a quite different significance from that which they bear for the Evangelist. Either the Marcan text as it stands is historical, and therefore to be retained, or it is not, and then it should be given up. What is really unhistorical is any softening down of the wording, and the meaning which it naturally bears.
The sceptical and eschatological schools, however, go still farther in company. If the connexion in Mark is really no connexion, it is important to try to discover whether any principle can be discovered in this want of connexion. Can any order be brought into the chaos? To this the answer is in the affirmative.
The complete want of connexion, with all its self-contradictions, is ultimately due to the fact that two representations of the life of Jesus, or, to speak more accurately, of His public ministry, are here crushed into one; a natural and a deliberately supernatural representation. A dogmatic element has intruded itself into the description of this Life—something which has no concern with the events which form the outward course of that Life. This dogmatic element is the Messianic secret of Jesus and all the secrets and concealments which go along with it.
Hence the irrational and self-contradictory features of the presentation of Jesus, out of which a rational psychology can make only something which is unhistorical and does violence to the text, since it must necessarily get rid of the constant want of connexion and selfcontradiction which belongs to the essence of the narrative, and portray a Jesus who was the Messiah, not one who at once was and was not Messiah as the Evangelist depicts Him. When rational psychology conceives Him as one who was Messiah, but not in the sense expected by the people, that is a concession to the self-contradictions of the Marcan representation; which, however, does justice neither to the text nor to the history which it records, since the Gospel does not contain the faintest hint that the contradiction was of this nature.
Up to this point—up to the complete reconstruction of the system which runs through the disconnectedness, and the tracing back of the dogmatic element to the Messianic secret—there extends a close agreement between thoroughgoing scepticism and thoroughgoing eschatology. The critical arguments are identical, the construction is analogous and based on the same principle. The defenders of the modern psychological view cannot, therefore, play off one school against the other, as one of them proposed to do, but must deal with them both at once. They differ only when they explain whence the system that runs through the disconnectedness comes. Here the ways divide, as Bauer saw long ago. The inconsistency between the public life of Jesus and His Messianic claim lies either in the nature of the Jewish Messianic conception, or in the representation of the Evangelist. There is, on the one hand, the eschatological solution, which at one stroke raises the Marcan account as it stands, with all its disconnectedness and inconsistencies, into genuine history; and there is, on the other hand, the literary solution, which regards the incongruous dogmatic element as interpolated by the earliest Evangelist into the tradition and therefore strikes out the Messianic claim altogether from the historical Life of Jesus. Tertium non datur.
But in some respects it really hardly matters which of the two “solutions” one adopts. They are both merely wooden towers erected upon the solid main building of the consentient critical induction which offers the enigmas detailed above to modern historical theology. It is interesting in this connexion that Wrede’s scepticism is just as constructive as the eschatological outline of the Life of Jesus in the “Sketch.”
Bruno Bauer chose the literary solution because he thought that we had no evidence for an eschatological expectation existing in the time of Christ. Wrede, though he follows Johannes Weiss in assuming the existence of a Jewish eschatological Messianic expectation, finds in the Gospel only the Christian conception of the Messiah. “If Jesus,” he thinks, “really knew Himself to be the Messiah and designated Himself as such, the genuine tradition is so closely interwoven with later accretions that it is not easy to recognise it.” In any case, Jesus cannot, according to Wrede, have spoken of His Messianic Coming in the way which the Synoptists report. The Messiahship of Jesus, as we find it in the Gospels, is a product of Early Christian theology correcting history according to its own conceptions.
It is therefore necessary to distinguish in Mark between the reported events which constitute the outward course of the history of Jesus, and the dogmatic idea which claims to lay down the lines of its inward course. The principle of division is found in the contradictions.
The recorded events form, according to Wrede, the following picture. Jesus came forward as a teacher, first and principally in Galilee. He was surrounded by a company of disciples, went about with them, and gave them instruction. To some of them He accorded a special confidence. A larger multitude sometimes attached itself to Him, in addition to the disciples. He is fond of discoursing in parables. Besides the teaching there are the miracles. These make a stir, and He is thronged by the multitudes. He gives special attention to the cases of demoniacs. He is in such close touch with the people that He does not hesitate to associate even with publicans and sinners. Towards the Law He takes up an attitude of some freedom. He encounters the opposition of the Pharisees and the Jewish authorities.
 It would perhaps be more historical to say “as a prophet.”
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
|Also in print from Barnes and Noble
As an E-book at: