Weisse does not admit any failure in Jesus’ work, nor that death came upon Him from without as an inevitable necessity
|November 20, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter ten||
Weisse does not admit any failure in Jesus’ work, nor that death came upon Him from without as an inevitable necessity. He cannot, therefore, regard the thought of suffering as forced upon Jesus by outward events. Later interpreters of Mark have often held that the essential thing in the Lord’s resolve to die was that by His voluntary acceptance of a fate which was more and more clearly revealing itself as inevitable, He raised it into the sphere of ethico-religious freedom: this was not Weisse’s view. Jesus, according to him, was not moved by any outward circumstances when He set out for Jerusalem in order to die there. He did it in obedience to a supra-rational higher necessity. We can at most venture to conjecture that a cessation of His miracle-working power, of which He had become aware, revealed to Him that the hour appointed by God had come. He did, in fact, no further miracle in Jerusalem.
How far Isaiah liii. may have contributed to suggest the conception of such a death being a necessary part of Messiah’s work, it is impossible to discover. In the popular expectation there was no thought of the Messiah as suffering. The thought was conceived by Jesus independently, through His deep and penetrating spiritual insight. Without any external suggestion whatever He announces to His disciples that He is to die at Jerusalem, and that He is going thither with that end in view. He journeyed, not to the Passover, but to His death. The fact that it took place at the time of the Feast was, so far as Jesus was concerned, accidental. The circumstances of His entry were such as to suggest anything rather than the fulfilment of His predictions; but though the jubilant multitude surrounded Him day by day, as with a wall of defence, He did not let that make Him falter in His purpose; rather he forced the authorities to arrest Him; He preserved silence before Pilate with the deliberate purpose of rendering His death inevitable. The theory of later defenders of the Marcan hypothesis that Jesus, giving up His cause in Galilee for lost, went up to Jerusalem to conquer or die, is foreign to Weisse’s conception. In his view, Jesus, breaking off His Galilaean work while the tide of success was still flowing strongly, journeyed to Jerusalem, in the scorn of consequence, with the sole purpose of dying there.
It is true there are some premonitions of the later course of Marcan exegesis. The Second Gospel mentions no Passover journeys as falling in the course of the public ministry of Jesus; consequently the most natural conclusion would be that no Passover journeys fall within that period; that is, that Jesus’ ministry began after one Passover and closed with the next, thus lasting less than a full year. Weisse thinks, however, that it is impossible to understand the success of His teaching unless we assume a ministry of several years, of more than three years, indeed. Mark does not mention the Feasts simply because Jesus did not go up to Jerusalem. “Intrinsic probability is, in our opinion, so strongly in favour of a duration of a considerable number of years, that we are at a loss to explain how it is that at least a few unprejudiced investigators have not found in this a sufficient reason for departing from the traditional opinion.”
The account of the mission of the Twelve is also, on the ground of “intrinsic probability,” explained in a way which is not in accordance with the plain sense of the words. “We do not think,” says Weisse, “that it is necessary to understand this in the sense that He sent all the twelve out at one time, two and two, remaining alone in the meantime; it is much more natural to suppose that He only sent them out two at a time, keeping the others about Him. The object of this mission was less the immediate spreading abroad of His teaching than the preparation of the disciples themselves for the independent activity which they would have to exercise after His death.” These are, however, the only serious liberties which he takes with the statements of Mark.
When did Jesus begin to think of Himself as the Messiah? The baptism seems to have marked an epoch in regard to His Messianic consciousness, but that does not mean that He had not previously begun to have such thoughts about Himself. In any case He did not on that occasion arrive all at once at that point of His inward journey which He had reached at the time of His first public appearance. We must assume a period of some duration between the baptism and the beginning of His ministry—a longer period than we should suppose from the Synoptists—during which Jesus cast off the Messianic ideas of Judaism and attained to a spiritual conception of the Messiahship. When He began to teach, His “development” was already closed. Later interpreters of Mark have generally differed from Weisse in assuming a development in the thought of Jesus during His public ministry.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
|Also in print from Barnes and Noble
As an E-book at: