When He revealed Himself to Mary Magdalene He had no certainty that He would frequently see her again
|November 22, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter six||
Schleiermacher arranges the miracles in an ascending scale of probability according to the degree in which they can be seen to depend on the known influence of spirit upon organic matter. The most easily explained are the miracles of healing “because we are not without analogies to show that pathological conditions of a purely functional nature can be removed by mental influence.” But where, on the other hand, the effect produced by Christ lies outside the sphere of human life, the difficulties involved become insoluble. To get rid, in some measure, of these difficulties he makes use of two expedients. In the first place, he admits that in particular cases the rationalistic method may have a certain limited application; in the second place he, like Hase, recognises a difference between the miracle stories themselves, retaining the Johannine miracles, but surrendering, more or less completely, the Synoptic miracles as not resting on evidence of the same certainty and exactness.
That he is still largely under the sway of rationalism can be seen in the fact that he admits on an equal footing, as conceptions of the resurrection of Jesus, a return to consciousness from a trance-state, or a supernatural restoration to life, thought of as a resurrection. He goes so far as to say that the decision of this question has very little interest for him. He fully accepts the principle of Paulus that apart from corruption there is no certain indication of death.
“All that we can say on this point,” he concludes, “is that even to those whose business it was to ensure the immediate death of the crucified, in order that the bodies might at once be taken down, Christ appeared to be really dead, and this, moreover, although it was contrary to their expectations, for it was a subject of astonishment. It is no use going any further into the matter, since nothing can be ascertained in regard to it.”
What is certain is that Jesus in His real body lived on for a time among His followers; that the Fourth Gospel requires us to believe. The reports of the resurrection are not based upon “apparitions.” Schleiermacher’s own opinion is what really happened was reanimation after apparent death. “If Christ had only eaten to show that He could eat, while He really had no need of nourishment, it would have been a pretence—something docetic. This gives us a clue to all the rest, teaching us to hold firmly to the way in which Christ intends Himself to be represented, and to put down all that is miraculous in the accounts of the appearances to the prepossessions of the disciples.”
When He revealed Himself to Mary Magdalene He had no certainty that He would frequently see her again. “He was conscious that His present condition was that of genuine human life, but He had no confidence in its continuance.” He bade His disciples meet Him in Galilee because He could there enjoy greater privacy and freedom from observation in His intercourse with them. The difference between the present and the past was only that He no longer showed Himself to the world. “It was possible that a movement in favour of an earthly Messianic Kingdom might break out, and we need only take this possibility into account in order to explain completely why Jesus remained in such close retirement.” “It was the premonition of the approaching end of this second life which led Him to return from Galilee to Jerusalem.”
Of the ascension he says: “Here, therefore, something happened, but what was seen was incomplete, and has been conjecturally supplemented.” The underlying rationalistic explanation shows through!
But if the condition in which Jesus lived on after His crucifixion was “a condition of reanimation,” by what right does Schleiermacher constantly speak of it as a “resurrection,” as if resurrection and reanimation were synonymous terms? Further, is it really true that faith has no interest whatever in the question whether it was as risen from the dead, or merely as recovered from a state of suspended animation, that Jesus showed Himself to His disciples? In regard to this, it might seem, the rationalists were more straight-forward.
The moment one tries to take hold of this dialectic it breaks in one’s fingers. Schleiermacher would not indeed have ventured to play so risky a game if he had not had a second position to retire to, based on the distinction between the Synoptic and the Johannine miracle stories. In this respect he simplified matters for himself, as compared with the rationalists, even more than Hase. The miracle at the baptism is only intelligible in the narrative of the Fourth Gospel, where it is not a question of an external occurrence, but of a purely subjective experience of John, with which we have nothing to do. The Synoptic story of the temptation has no intelligible meaning. “To change stones into bread, if there were need for it, would not have been a sin.” “A leap from the Temple could have had no attraction for any one.”
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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