What, then, is the historical fact in the resurrection? “The historical fact,” replies Weisse, “is only the existence of a belief
|November 20, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter ten||
The miracles at the baptism of Jesus are based upon His account of a vision which He experienced in that moment. The present form of the story of the transfiguration has a twofold origin. In the first place, it is partly based on a real experience shared by the three disciples. That there is an historical fact here is evident from the way in which it is connected with the context by a definite indication of time. The six days of Mark ix. 2 cannot really be connected, as Strauss would have us suppose, with Ex. xxiv. 16; the meaning is simply that between the previously reported discourse of Jesus and the event described there was an interval of six days. The three disciples had a waking, spiritual vision, not a dream-vision, and what was revealed in this vision was the Messiahship of Jesus. But at this point comes in the second, the mythico-symbolical element. The disciples see Jesus accompanied, according to the Jewish Messianic expectations, by those whom the people thought of as His forerunners. He, however, turns away from them, and Moses and Elias, for whom the disciples were about to build tabernacles, for them to abide in, disappear. The mythical element is a reflection of the teaching which Jesus imparted to them on that occasion, in consequence of which there dawned on them the spiritual “significance of those expectations and predictions, which they were to recognise as no longer pointing forward to a future fulfilment, but as already fulfilled.” The high mountain upon which, according to Mark, the event took place is not to be understood in a literal sense, but as symbolical of the sublimity of the revelation; it is to be sought not on the map of Palestine, but in the recesses of the spirit.
The most striking case of the formation of myth is the story of the resurrection. Here, too, myth must have attached itself to an historical fact. The fact in question is not, however, the empty grave. This only came into the story later, when the Jews, in order to counteract the Christian belief in the resurrection, had spread abroad the report that the body had been stolen from the grave. In consequence of this report the empty grave had necessarily to be taken up into the story, the Christian account now making use of the fact that the body of Jesus was not found as a proof of His bodily resurrection. The emphasis laid on the identity of the body which was buried with that which rose again, of which the Fourth Evangelist makes so much, belongs to a time when the Church had to oppose the Gnostic conception of a spiritual, incorporeal immortality. The reaction against Gnosticism is, as Weisse rightly remarks, one of the most potent factors in the development of myth in the Gospel history. As an additional instance of this he might have cited the anti-gnostic form of the Johannine account of the baptism of Jesus.
What, then, is the historical fact in the resurrection? “The historical fact,” replies Weisse, “is only the existence of a belief—not the belief of the later Christian Church in the myth of the bodily resurrection of the Lord—but the personal belief of the Apostles and their companions in the miraculous presence of the risen Christ in the visions and appearances which they experienced.” “The question whether those extraordinary phenomena which, soon after the death of the Lord, actually and undeniably took place within the community of His disciples, rest upon fact or illusion—that is, whether in them the departed spirit of the Lord, of whose presence the disciples supposed themselves to be conscious, was really present, or whether the pheonomena were produced by natural causes of a different kind, spiritual and psychical, is a question which cannot be answered without going beyond the confines of purely historical criticism.” The only thing which is certain is “that the resurrection of Jesus is a fact which belongs to the domain of the spiritual and psychic life, and which is not related to outward corporeal existence in such a way that the body which was laid in the grave could have shared therein.” When the disciples of Jesus had their first vision of the glorified body of their Lord, they were far from Jerusalem, far from the grave, and had no thought of bringing that spiritual corporeity into any kind of relation with the dead body of the Crucified. That the earliest appearances took place in Galilee is indicated by the genuine conclusion of Mark, according to which the angel charges the women with the message that the disciples were to await Jesus in Galilee.
 “And the glory of the Lord abode upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days.”
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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