2023-06-07

BRUNO BAUER: Theological Explanation of the Gospels – II. Strauss’s tradition hypothesis

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by Neil Godfrey

Theological Explanation of the Gospels

Die theologische Erklärung der Evangelien

by

Bruno Bauer

1852

II.

Strauss’ tradition hypothesis.

Topic headings in the text below are my additions to Bauer’s text.

68

The proposition that language is the man and the word is the thing remains valid even when the language of a point of view is so unfounded and and deviates in such strange and arbitrary directions from the object of investigation that there can no longer be any mention of a substantive debate, and the engagement with this standpoint can only exist in a representation of chance, which governs its language.

The truly substantive debate is then the portrayal of language – the essence manifests itself in the indeterminacy and confusion of language – in the thoughtlessness with which this language throws together the most contradictory things, the soullessness of the standpoint.

“The apostles, Strauss says,*) gradually die off in the second half of the first century; the evangelical proclamation gradually spreads in the Roman Empire and increasingly takes on a specific form; but soon this tradition was interpreted in various writings, to which one apostle or another perhaps also provided the basic outlines – writings that initially had no fixed shape and therefore had to undergo various transformations, as shown by the example of the Hebrew Gospel and the quotations of Justin.”

*) I, 82. 83.

69

This is Strauss’s general view on the origin of the evangelical historiography – every word an uncertain assumption – the whole a tangle of chimeras.

“The evangelical proclamation” – what is it?

It “gradually spreads” – as a fluid or through specific organs?

It “spreads” – where does it come from?

However, we know what it is according to Strauss’s opinion – the continuation of apostolic preaching and proclamation – the oral gospel; we know its premise, understand it, but must also, in order to reproduce it, renounce any specific thought.

It “fixes itself more and more to a certain type” – but if it originally emanated from the apostles, should they not already have provided for such a type? If such a type is missing, can we still speak of an ״evangelical’ proclamation – of the life of a historical person?

Only one turn of phrase is needed, and this proclamation, which is proven by nothing and about which nothing can be conceived, stands firm and secure as “this tradition” – a simple “soon,” the relationship of which to the preceding “gradually” and “more and more” remains a mystery, captures this tradition in writings, immediately in “various” writings – this written interpretation of the tradition is supported by “basic outlines,” perhaps provided by an apostle, thus reduced to a superfluous thing, since the transition of the tradition into writing was not necessary if basic outlines already existed at the same time, perhaps provided by an apostle – yes, if perhaps an apostle had already provided the basic outlines for “one or the other” evangelical history book, then not only is the bold turn that translates the tradition into “various” writings exposed as meaningless talk, but also the initial assertion of the gradually progressing fixation of the evangelical proclamation.

70

The worthy conclusion of this discussion is formed by the writings that “initially had no fixed form” – a chimera about which nothing can be conceived – a determination that doesn’t even serve the purpose for which it appears, as even writings with a very fixed form can undergo “various transformations”!

Rather, it is a law and inherent in the nature of the matter that writings in which the first attempt is made to fix and shape general views have a fixed form, that their authors feel the necessity of order, coherence, and motivation the most, and that the later ones, who have the written letters before them, lend their assumptions, their knowledge of the connection and the motives to their readers without really working out or even expressing these assumptions in their writings, and thus can produce writings as formless as those composed by Luke, Matthew, and the Fourth [Gospel].

71

However, Strauss believes that in the Hebrew Gospel and in the apostolic memoirs from which Justin derived his quotations, he possesses the evidence that the earliest evangelical compositions were writings that had no fixed form. However, the actual Hebrew Gospel, that is, the one we learn about from the references of Origen and Jerome, had a very fixed form – a form that characterizes it as a later work, for which the present Gospels of Matthew and Luke, as well as the fourth Gospel, are used. As for those apostolic memoirs of Justin, I have also demonstrated that where they intersect with our Gospels of Matthew and Luke, they contain the evangelical material in its original, solid form.

————————–

Strauss also incorporates myths, in the “tradition” of the actual life of Jesus, as fabulous additions, mythical elements. Here, at least, he had to address the question of the influence of self-consciousness on the formation of religious beliefs. However, once again, he relies on general phrases that he takes from those sections of “Prolegomena O. Müller to a Scientific Mythology” in which they still fall into exaggerations that the initial attempts of a scientific foundation are subject to.

A phrase that can only intimidate anxious minds and satisfy theologians is the expression that a “artificial system of deception, whether it be self-serving or philanthropic, if the entire impression is not deceptive, is very poorly suited to the noble simplicity of those times” *) as the earliest products of Greek (and Christian) thought impress upon us.

 *) I, 101

72

By means of a parenthesis, then (“and Christian”), he achieves the equality of the times and circumstances that Müller speaks of and that he has to address. This parenthesis grants him the right to apply the inherently empty phrase of “noble simplicity” to a time from which one can rather assert, if one does not want to exhaust the characterization with it alone, that it was a time of intellectual madness, of frivolity.

“So we come to the conclusion,” Strauss continues with Müller, “that even an inventor of myth in the true sense of the word is inconceivable” — really? Because the “noble simplicity” of the first — I add: and the second — century of the Roman imperial era contradicts the assumption of deliberate deception? Is it because the question is initially posed in an extreme and erroneous manner, and therefore it is “evident that the entire concept of invention is inappropriate and should be removed”? Is it because it is “the concept of a certain (!) necessity and unconsciousness” (in the formation of ancient myths) “that we must emphasize”? **) Is it because “the debate about whether the myth originates from one or many, from the poet or the people, is not the main issue”?

**) 1, 102.

Therefore, rather, all dispute ceases — but the investigation has also reached its end from the very beginning because it is not reflected upon that what the individual shaped and could shape only as such (for the multitude as such cannot do it and has never done it) could not be known beforehand to the many as that which was shaped — in other words, that the shaped entity did not exist before its shaping as such.

73

“The One, the narrator, Strauss continues with Müller״ is only the mouth through which all speak” – that is, he is no longer a real, an actual mouth.

When Strauss himself says (again with Müller) that this chimerical mouth first gives form and expression to ״what all would like to say,’ he is only saying himself that this form did not exist before, that therefore the One gives something new and that his effort during the forming must teach him himself how far his creation is something new. What all would like to express” (but all cannot) is essentially different from the preceding earlier attempts and even in its pre-existing conditions and prerequisites is still hidden from all. What does not yet have form and its own expression does not yet exist for the world. The happy one who possesses it in his own sense of self and recognises it in its preconditions must first create it.

“The myth, Strauss lets Müller further say *), is not based on an individual consciousness, but on a higher, general people’s consciousness.”

*) 1, 104 

Certainly! Certainly! Quite well said in his time – at a time when the Enlightenment hypothesis, according to which religious ideas were only priestly inventions, still occupied an important place. But Strauss should have explained it better, proved it better, than he did with his monotonous presupposition of a Jewish messianic dogmatics – i.e. with his constant reference to Bertholdt’s Jewish Christology.

74

After letting Müller speak so far, he himself appears: ״However,’ he remarks in his own person somewhat more timidly, ״However, the line between the unintentional and the intentional is not easy to draw here” – but not impossible?

But that line of demarcation that is not easy to draw – Strauss does not want to get involved in the attempt to draw it, he does not even want to acknowledge it seriously: ״It is almost impossible for our understanding and critical contemporary education to put itself back into a time and education in which the imagination worked so powerfully that its creations could solidify into realities in the spirit of the very person who created them. But what is “almost impossible” for the ״critical formation of time” need not be so for the critic who possesses in the works before him the result of an intellectual work which represents in itself the degree of freedom of self-consciousness from which it derives and is affected.

Strauss believes that he is examining and determining when he immediately introduces some kind of attenuation or digression from a thought whose elaboration “seems almost impossible”: however, he explicitly states *) that this unconsciousness and “lack of intention” should by no means be extended to all narratives—But—here comes a new digression—”a work of fiction, even if not unintentional, can still be innocent”—but—I ask—what about the composition of the fourth Gospel—what about the parallel between Peter and Paul, which forms the interest of the Acts of the Apostles—what about the historical antithesis that the author of the Galatians has juxtaposed with his historical notes regarding the relationship between the Gentile apostle and the original apostles in the Acts of the Apostles?

*) I, 110 

————————-

75

I will return once more to the side of tradition according to which it produces nothing new, but only repeats the historical material with its inexhaustible breath.

Tradition and ״the evangelical proclamation,’ which gradually spread ״in the Roman Empire,’ are therefore one and the same, and through this uninterrupted, lengthy, always and forever repeating historical narrative, the Roman world has become a conquest of Christianity.

But not even the author of the Acts of the Apostles, who was already aware of a well-developed literature of the Gospels, dared to elevate himself to this level of historical perception — although he often presents his apostles as proclaimers of the Lord, he did not stoop down to the trivial notion that they had presented their listeners with the complete “evangelical history” — rather, it is always the turning point, manifested in the resurrection of the one whom the Jews had killed, thus the proof guided by God that the victim of Jewish hatred is the Messiah, and the apologetic proof that he is therefore the Promised One of the prophets and as such had to suffer, which forms the sole content of the apostolic preaching.

76

Even if the New Testament epistles, according to the early ecclesiastical view, are allowed to derive from the authors to whom they ascribe themselves, they cannot, with their few isolated and accidental allusions or references to individual data of evangelical history, be regarded as witnesses to the tradition.

But after my proof of the late origin even of the so-called Pauline Epistles – what new and decisive force is thrown into the previous struggle against the tradition hypothesis – what confirmation at least does it give to all that has hitherto been carried out against it.

Not only in the letters of Peter and James, but also in the writings of Paul, the sparse references to the evangelical history, instead of tradition, rely primarily on the written Gospels. The authors of the Pauline letters, too, draw their accounts of the Lord’s history solely from their Gospels.

The author of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (C. 11, 23) says, when he wants to reproduce the words of the Lord at the institution of the Lord’s Supper, ״he received it from the Lord’ – but the truth is rather that he has everything he gives from the Scriptures of Urlukas; – that formula is nothing but a sought-after expression which is supposed to vouch for the independence of the apostle.

The self-glory of the Apostle to the Gentiles in the Epistle to the Galatians (C. 1, 12) is only an imitation of the passage in the First Epistle to the Corinthians – just as the phrase that immediately precedes it – “But I declare to you, brethren, that the gospel which I preach is not after the manner of men” – is only an unfortunate imitation of the correctly executed phrase of the last Epistle (C. 15, 1).

77

I do not need to repeat my evidence here that the phrase in the Galatians letter, chapter 5, verse 14: “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,'” is simply a free interpretation of the main point from the evangelical narrative on the greatest commandment. Likewise, the statement in the first Corinthians letter, chapter 7, verse 10, that the command of the Lord refers only to the evangelical prohibition of divorce, is also a free interpretation of certain passages. Furthermore, in the next volume, I will demonstrate that the Apostolic Fathers, meaning the later authors of the writings of Barnabas, Hermas, Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp, did not draw their quotations from the words of Jesus from either oral tradition or the proclamation of the Gospels, but rather from their written Gospels.

Even where tradition alone could serve as a means of preservation, in the area of doctrine, one always wrote down what one possessed and had gained – one sought not only to secure but also to expand one’s possessions through written elaboration. The First Epistle to the Corinthians, for example, is nothing but an attempt to systematise the whole doctrine.

The assertion of the Church Fathers that the rule of faith is entrusted not to parchment, but only to the spirit and hearts of believers, is merely one of their declamatory exaggerations and rhetorical flourishes. In fact, they themselves have documented the development and growth of this rule gradually in their writings, recording its various versions over time.

But theologians invoke the power of memory in antiquity, emphasizing the advantage that antiquity bestowed upon the living and enduring scripture of the heart over the dead scripture of parchment!

78

On the other hand, we need only refer to the facts at hand.

The saying: ״I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners,’ Luke communicates in that later weakening which he has suffered through the subsequent addition: ״to repentance,’ Matthew brings together with a strange saying belonging to a quite different argumentation. If writers proceed in this way with a saying which they read written, what should be the fate of a saying which wanders around in the memory of a scattered congregation made up of the most heterogeneous components for years – many years? But we need not be seriously concerned about it, since in every head, in every particular circle, it becomes a different one, takes on new forms, so that there can no longer be any question of a definite saying.

If, as I have demonstrated in almost every gap in the narratives, with the alterations that Luke has already found in his sources and the errors and disruptive combinations of Matthew—if the letter itself can be so mutable, how can it remain intact and endure in tradition, that is, in the minds and hearts of thousands, preserved in vessels of such diverse forms, and written down on tablets that assimilate it in various ways?

Who can reproduce a work of art, a circle of parables, a work such as the realisation of the antithesis of the old and the new law in the Sermon on the Mount, thus explanations which are the revelations of an absolutely new spirit and in all respects contradict the usual and existing presuppositions, literally and intactly in a single hearing? No one! But instead of blaming this impossibility on the modern weakness of memory, first prove that the ancients possessed a better memory – only do not refer to the testimonies of writers of antiquity who were themselves theologically minded and sentimental admirers of prehistoric times and barbaric conditions!

79

What the peoples of antiquity really knew, they wrote down with great difficulty; as soon as they had brought something to clarity of conception, the organ which served to elaborate and fix it was also ready, and if they wrote nothing, the reason was only that they had nothing worth the trouble. More, for example, than what the ancient Egyptians expressed in their monuments and hieroglyphics, they did not possess in their inner view of history and the world of the gods.

———————

Infancy narratives

I shall now follow Strauss into the details of his work and first touch upon his explanation of the infancy story in order to show how his view of the origin of the same basically agrees with the apologetic justification of the miracles which, according to the Gospel account, announce and surround the birth of the Saviour.

The external suitability, the external naturalness, in short, the category of external coherence, is for both Strauss and the apologists the instrument through which they connect the individual miracles to the main event. Neither the latter nor the miracle itself has an inner soul for either of them—both are deaf to the harmonious interplay between the dominant and subordinate elements.

80

When the religious perspective, in the angels who served the divine purpose in the history of the New Testament and now announce the birth of the consummator, groups the mediators of the past as servants around the consummator, the apologist, for example Neander, pleads—or rather threatens—that one must recognize how “in the vicinity of the greatest miracle in human history, by which it was meant to be brought into the closest connection with heaven, the rays of an otherwise hidden invisible world that shine into humanity appear as something harmoniously related.” However, only to the dark and God-forsaken theological mind is the heavenly world veiled, while it remains open and vividly shared with the religious spirit, just as history with its rich life and the activity of spirits that prepared the future opens itself to the positive perspective. The positive perspective sees throngs of servants in its domain, whereas the religious perspective must content itself with a few characterless angels.

One must admit,” exclaims Lange, “that God can also have a court, as noble in birth, as spiritually pure and elevated, as befits a king” — “can!” — the theologian negotiates with his poverty over this “can” and fails to see the court that surrounds the epoch-making heroes of real history — the court that is not composed of angels who are all equal in their insignificance, but of the earlier historical spirits, each of whom, in their own way and through a unique struggle, made possible the advent of the hero and the turning point of the epoch.

81

Can! ״The religious (!) spirit, pleads Olshausen, can be be surrounded by religious (!) spirits when it enters the world” – it can only? Were not the spirits of the whole past really standing around the cradle of Christianity, cheering the birth of the spirit that “hovered before” their still unclear works and struggles as the ultimate goal?

When shepherds, Simeon, Anna hear of the newborn Messiah or see him with their own eyes, Neander pleads: “it is in itself in the analogy of history that great phenomena and epochs are met by the longing of many a receptive mind, by many a prophetic presentiment” — as if the critic needed to plead for the recognition of this possibility that a later spirit could already be felt in advance and in the presentiment! He, too, accepts the anticipated enjoyment of the later, the anticipated happiness through the later in the earlier forms of the spirit – but precisely in these other forms of the spirit – an infinitely richer and more blissful enjoyment than when a pair of people stare at a newborn child.

When, finally, the apologist, like Lange, for example, in order to bring the star of the magicians to historical recognition, haggles with Jewish busyness and importunity: ״It is only a question here of a single bonfire in the heights, of a shining signal with which the earth, in the middle of its world history, is saluted out of the universe to which it – (the Jew becomes sentimental!) – belongs so intimately” – then this hard-hearted avarice is put to shame by the wealth of the positive view, which in the great historical heroes up to the Baptist, in the premonitions and flashes of light of the old religions, in philosophy and law and in the fire of the struggles of the nations, possesses and points out a sea of fire of stars and signals with which world history has saluted the rise of Christianity.

82

Now – this mindless expediency of the apologetic – “it could, it was proper, it had to” corresponds to the tautological necessity which, in Strauss’s explanation, connects the Christian myths with their Old Testament and Jewish originals. ״The Messiah could, says Strauss among others *), according to the prophecies, only come from David: how conceivable, therefore, if a Galilean, whose descent further up was not known at all, and therefore no one could prove that he did not come from David – how conceivable, if such a one had acquired the reputation of being the Messiah, that the legend of his Davidic descent soon developed in various forms”.

*) l, 179.

Regarding the evangelical perspective on the birth of Jesus, Strauss states **), “One particular factor that contributed to the development of the birth narratives in the Gospels was the prevailing title given to the Messiah: Son of God. Because of the nature of such initially figurative expressions, they tend to be taken more literally and strictly over time. Especially among the later Jews, there was a tendency to interpret what was previously meant spiritually and metaphorically in a more literal and sensual manner.” Thus, two factors—time and later Jewish customs—created one of the highest and most distinctively Christian perspectives. Let us leave aside the matter itself and consider how even the story of the Magi and the star follows the Jewish prototype. Strauss also notes that “the new Christians, coming from a Jewish background, could only justify and establish their belief in Jesus as the Messiah by attempting to demonstrate that he fulfilled all the attributes that Jewish eschatological expectations ascribed to the Messiah.” *) Finally, let us congratulate Strauss on the rich treasure of historical material he has already found in the accounts of the birth and childhood of Jesus. For example, it seems likely to him that “the detailed description of Anna may have been taken from an actual person who was known for her piety during the time of the origins of Luke’s prehistory.” **) Regarding the account of Jesus’ appearance in the temple, he finds that “criticism has no right to deny its historical significance.”

**) I, 229-233.

*) l, 304. 305. 

**) l, 326.

83

If he is already so happy here, how great must be his happiness when he enters the sphere of Jesus’ public life! – How poorly, rather, and anxiously will he beg the theologians and let them give him historical data on the real life of Jesus! Every step he thinks he is taking into real history will lead him from one lack of support to another, from one theological commonplace to another.

———

84

John the Baptist

For example, his assumption that the Synoptics attribute only a brief period of activity to John the Baptist is unfounded—a short-sighted bias, according to Neander, when he argues *) in favor of the Synoptics by stating, “It cannot be proven that the significant impact that John the Baptist had on his contemporaries and future generations can only be explained if he had been active in public for more than just about six months.” It is a meaningless truism to say that “the Spirit does not always conform to the measure of time” – it is a vacuous vagueness into which he ultimately retreats by acknowledging that “the Gospel account is insufficient to elevate that possibility (the short duration of John’s activity according to John’s Gospel) to historical certainty.”

*) I, 381

He speaks of an “evangelical” portrayal, distinct from the synoptic account, and it is only the compiler of the current Gospel of Luke who, through his combination of the infancy narrative, which places the precursor’s birth half a year before the Messiah, with the Gospel of the earlier Luke, which chronologically determines the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, has weakened the power and force with which the original Gospel progresses from the ministry and preaching of John the Baptist to the appearance of the Savior, and has destroyed the ideality of the original perspective. It is this compiler who has prompted the question of whether it is possible for a world-historical figure to accomplish their public work in just half a year. And truly, “Does the Spirit not always adhere to the measure of time?” Rather, it is in the struggle, with its profound dependence on time, in the intense battle against the brevity of the time allotted to humans, that the fortunate and powerful individual who carries within them a contribution to the collective treasure of humanity is able to extract, process, and present this personal treasure for recognition. Instead of seeking refuge with Neander under the shelter of a lifeless phrase about the independence of the “spirit” from time, Strauss should have cited at least one world-historical hero—a real fighter—who, in fighting with themselves and with the sluggish historical material that even resists the discoverer’s efforts to establish and secure their findings, needed “only about” a year.

85

If the question is whether Josephus is right when he lets the Baptist appear with the belief in the intrinsic value of his work, or whether his account must be inferior to the premise of the Gospels, according to which the Baptist described himself and his work from the outset only as provisional, then fortunately for Strauss, religious and theological interest have put the larval nature of the historical heroes so much beyond all doubt, the messianic dogmatism of the Jews, which had prescribed its larvae for the Saviour, the forerunner, as well as for all persons of sacred history, stands so firmly for him that *) he agrees with the Gospels against Josephus, since John’s baptism ״cannot be explained properly if one may not” – think of Berthold’s Christology and presuppose the Christian dogma for Christianity as its larva, which has long since been formed in advance. Furthermore, he is so happy to be able to cite the statement ״of the apostle Paul’ *) that John (Acts 19:4) baptised into the Coming One, in order to confirm his assumption – i.e. he allows the view of a Scripture which reproduces the presuppositions of the Gospels on which it is based, and can only reproduce them, to bear witness to the historical reliability of its original.

*) I, 386

*) I, 415

86

Theology has been unable to answer any of the questions it has grappled with because the elements it used to form those questions were inherently chimerical from the start. The rabbinical dispute among theologians has always been conducted over a non-existent entity, and since Strauss shares the same material interest as them, he cannot put an end to their dispute or the chimera that it revolves around.

When theologians debate the relationship between Luke’s account and that of the Fourth Gospel regarding the testimony of John the Baptist—how to reconcile the fact that Luke presents John giving his testimony to the people before Jesus comes to him, similar to the other Synoptic Gospels, while the Fourth Gospel has John speaking of Jesus as if the baptism has already taken place, in his response to the priests’ messengers—when Lücke, in order to do justice to both the Fourth Gospel and the Synoptics, agrees with the assumption of two separate incidents, while de Wette considers the accounts as different representations of the same event, leaning more towards mistrust of the Synoptics and favoring the Fourth Gospel, accusing Luke of inaccuracy—Strauss must allow this unfruitful predicament to continue endlessly and leave the spiritless “dilemma” unresolved. At most, it can be decided *) “based on the general view of the relationship between the Fourth Gospel and the Synoptics in terms of their historical credibility,” thus allowing each individual to reach different conclusions according to their unique assumptions and the nature of their interests.

*) I, 420

87

Fortunately, the quarrel of men of honour who, for equally noble and equally valuable reasons, have decided in favour of one of the two sides of this dilemma, and who therefore have every reason to spare each other their decision, will come to an end when research has provided the means for finding in the accounts of the Fourth and the Synoptics the means which need only be used to enable them to determine their relation to each other and to the Gospel itself.

The theological interest which commands him to extract the historically credible core from a Gospel passage or to use one passage for the historical authentication of the other, his veneration, furthermore, for the friends of truth who have treated the Gospel accounts with the same tact and with the same gentleness – both make Strauss a prisoner of the first best report and the first best theologian at the same time. He believes he is examining the historical presupposition of an account, and yet he only stares at it – he believes, according to free decision, that he agrees with one of the theological findings of truth, and yet he cannot do otherwise – he cannot break through the powerless magic circle of the tautologies of a de Wette or Neander.

For example, in the case of Jesus’ testimony about the Baptist (Matth. 11, 7-14), he exclaims **): ״Here, however, we must say with Neander, if John had not formed the idea of the Messiah and his kingdom in a clearer and more spiritual way than the prophets *), Jesus would not have called him greater than all the prophets’, whose creator had before him the primal gospel, in which the Baptist announces himself as the forerunner of the Mighty One, and could not even doubt the premise that the God-sent forerunner had correctly grasped and described the spiritual power of the Mighty One!

**) I, 421

*) educated! [trained? formed?] – which category, if the Jewish, i.e. Bert-Hold’s messianic dogmatics had long before made their historical larva for him and the Saviour.

88

Concerning the synoptic accounts of the execution of the Baptist, he notes that one of the differences between them is that ״Mark recounts the scene at the banquet in the most graphic detail, whereas Luke is content with a brief statement, while Matthew is in the middle. It was rather to be examined whether the vividness of Mark was necessary and of such a nature that it could not be lacking in the account which first made the execution of the Baptist an inner member in the development of the Gospel story. The question was whether Luke’s brief account stood in the right relation to the whole structure of the Gospel story, whether Matthew’s middle position was the right one. The critic’s business is not to judge the vividness according to the length, but to examine and present its inner determination, its inner measure, its inner harmony and its relationship to the whole of the Gospel story.

89

Vividness – the term loses its meaning in the mouth of a theologian, as it is subject to arbitrary interpretation and must serve any desired purpose. This is evident from the fact that, for the apologetic theologian, it is sufficient for a narrative to be vivid in order to praise its historical credibility. On the other hand, when a report appears vivid to Strauss, it gives him the right to infer the involvement of legend or tradition. For example, by assuming that Matthew’s account of the execution of John the Baptist is the norm from the outset, while Mark’s account is traditionally expanded, he considers the peculiarities of the latter to be alterations and embellishments in which one could possibly detect traces of tradition. *)

*) I, 427

Why? Why could one do so? What gives the critic the right to quickly abandon the ground on which the real work should solely be focused and venture into the unfamiliar territory of tradition? Why could one do so?

Strauss responds to the question by saying, “How obvious it was, indeed, to further elevate John the Baptist by creating a contrast: even the ruler who had imprisoned him, upon hearing his words, had a troubled conscience and held him in respect, and it was only due to the vengeful desires of his wife that she persuaded him to issue the order for his execution.” However, how much more obvious it would have been to consider the accounts themselves and pay attention to how the mention of Herod’s grief, which appears isolated and senseless in Matthew’s account, is actually traced back to Mark’s account, where it is properly prepared and harmonizes with the entire passage. In Mark’s account, it takes on a meaningful and significant role, even with broader implications.

—————

90

Jesus’ Baptism

With the hunger of the righteous and the thirst for theological truth, seeking to extract morsels of historical reality from the evangelical accounts, Strauss searches for a solution to the contradiction that Jesus, with his messianic self-awareness, would have submitted to John’s baptism of repentance. He entangles himself in the intricacies of apologetics, not to resolve them, but to become hopelessly entangled within them.

Although the Jesus of Matthew preemptively responded to all objections when he answered the same Matthew’s account of John the Baptist’s refusal to baptize him as the Messiah with, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness,” this response was still insufficient for the troubled conscience of the apologists. It merely restates the question and conceals rather than resolves the difficulty within a general category. The question remains the same: Why did Jesus have to fulfill all righteousness to such an extent that he underwent a baptism that was not intended for him, as he had no sins to confess and was not permitted to acknowledge faith in the coming one unless he wanted to create the appearance of uncertainty about his own identity?

It is worth the trouble to let the spokesmen of the apologetic crowd speak out about this question, in order to show which company Strauss joins and which are the comrades in whose midst he feels comfortable.

91

Bengel has brought to his general expression all the reasons that the whole society can muster, and has drawn the consequence with praiseworthy intrepidity and certainty. ״The necessity, the proper thing, he says, has in the divine conclusions and works an extraordinarily wide scope’ *); i.e. there is nothing definite about it. i.e. nothing definite is to be thought of under this necessity, it reaches so far that it embraces nothing and cannot be traced to any law – in short, it is in itself pure arbitrariness. If, therefore, Jesus followed this necessity when he went to John’s baptism, if there was no inner relationship between his personality and John’s baptism, then his baptism was an empty formality that had neither meaning nor reason for him. Bengel has also expressed this consequence in all its purity: ״It was not for his sake’, he says, that Jesus allowed himself to be baptised. **) 

*) Decentia in divinis consilils et operibus admiranda latissime patet.

**) non sibi baptizatus est Christus.

All apologetic explanations revolve around this formula: ״not for his sake” and even in their efforts to avoid it, they have to fall back into it.

If, for example, Mr. Hoffmann ***) says: “John’s baptism called all who forsake the law to repentance, to the mere (!) solemn declaration that he would keep the law, the only one who had done no evil” – then this declaration of will is also only an empty formality, since it did not presuppose the serious possibility of evil, a possibility which the apologist denies in this serious sense. And to whom did Jesus declare his intention to fulfill the law? God? The one who sees into the heart? Himself? So, did he not know his own sinlessness? People? Impossible! From him whom no one could accuse of sin, no man could demand that he should declare his mere will to keep the law, especially on an occasion which could not have been more inopportunely chosen, since Jesus, even if he had somehow succeeded in preventing the appearance that he too was in need of repentance, would in any case have had to degrade a significant act to an empty formality for the sake of a presumptuous and untimely demand.

***) in his Leben Jesu (a polemic against Strauss) p. 301-303.

92

“The concept of divine right, Mr Hoffmann continues, also includes the fulfilment of what God demands.” – But this is rather the difficulty of how an action could be demanded of Jesus that did not befit him.

No rescue anywhere! No peace anywhere! Sisyphus tries again and again and never reaches his goal!

Says Mr Hoffmann: When Jesus’ sense of Messiahship had developed into clear consciousness, the encouragement had to appeal to his holy spirit to do nothing but according to the will of his Father, not to emerge from silence earlier than when he was called; he received this call at his baptism; In this respect it is Jesus’ initiation into his ministry” – Jesus would soon enough have forgotten this demand – “so he was when he went to the baptism of which he could not know that it would become the initiation into his ministry, he would have acted very hastily, for according to the Synoptic account, the divine miracle which makes the baptism the initiation into his office and lets him hear the divine call *) appears in a way unforeseen by Jesus.

*) as already Weisse, evangel. Gesch. I, 275 has correctly remarked. 

93

״It was necessary, continues Mr. Hoffmann, to certify his inner Messiah. The baptism is thus still not the purpose for which Jesus came to John, but only a mechanical opportunity for the miracle which was to make him certain of his cause, and he himself was mechanically drawn to it without an inner purpose and impulse, without an inner relationship.

Finally, Mr. Hoffmann is hired: ״The spirit that was present and active in Jesus from birth could not yet guarantee the completion of the work of redemption,” the blasphemy that forms the core of this apologetic argument has come forward in all its nakedness and we know as little as before how the sinless man could go to baptism, since he did not know beforehand that it was to become important and significant for him in a completely different way than for the others.

Finally, Neander **) brings this empty rhetoric to a close when he refers to Jesus’ baptism as his “consecration” and asserts that “John was moved by a revelation received at the baptism to inaugurate Jesus as the Messiah.” The theological sense of truth, which seeks a solution in the fourth Gospel, has the right to disregard how, according to its account, the baptism itself—the actual act of baptism—provided the occasion and opportunity for the sign that revealed Jesus to John as the Messiah. Only the theologian, whose sense of truth allows him to recognize the historical truth in the mechanism by which the fourth Gospel presents Jesus’ baptism, is entitled to render this mechanism completely meaningless. Only their love for truth exempts them from questioning how the same sign, to which baptism—the actual act of baptism—was supposed to be the occasion, could have already prompted John to baptize Jesus and consecrate him as the Messiah. Only theological thoughtlessness finds complete excuse and justification for its purposelessness in its good intentions. It even earns the applause of all lovers of truth when it refuses to be misled, simply repeating the difficulty in a cowardly turn of phrase that conceals it (for anything that is consecrated has previously been entangled with the profane).

**) in his Life of Jesus Christ.

94

And now Strauss also enters the realm of this purposeless discourse when, in an attempt to resolve the contradiction we started with, he welcomes the “account” mentioned by Justin *), which states that according to Jewish expectation, the Messiah would be anointed by the preceding Elijah and thus introduced among his people. Strauss asserts that “Jesus could consider this anointing as the baptism of John and submit to it as the Messiah.” However, he fails to realize that his feeble reasoning is merely a repetition of the old tautology of “it had to be, it was fitting,” and thus he cannot grasp that Justin’s mention of Elijah’s role is nothing more than a product of the same apologetics that created the “it was fitting” in the source text of Matthew, shaped the mechanical pragmatism of the fourth Gospel, sparked Bengel’s audacious thoughtlessness, and established Neander’s exegetical greatness.

*) I, 434

———–

95

If one, like Strauss, starts from the assumption that both evangelical accounts, the synoptic one in which Jesus only traveled to Jerusalem once, and the one in the Fourth Gospel where Jesus’ public ministry is marked by several visits during festivals, must have some historical correctness, then one must indeed engage in an endless back-and-forth discussion about the arguments for and against each account. If instead of overlooking the difference with an aesthetic perspective, one seeks historical materiality with the hungry eye of a Neander, then it is essentially arbitrary which side one chooses, but it is likely that one would give preference to the more materialistic and cruder pragmatism of the Fourth Gospel. In fact, it is almost inevitable that, like Strauss, one would conclude the uncertain reasoning with the assertion *) “that the Fourth Gospel cannot be denied the predominant appropriateness of its portrayal in this matter.”

*) I, 506

If one, due to overwhelming theological interest, fails to consider the true “appropriateness” that is aesthetic in nature and does not want to trace the transition from the artistic conception of the original Gospel to the glaring mechanism of the Fourth where it alone emerges and becomes apparent in the literary development of the original Gospel, then one must allow it to be obscured in the fog of tradition – then one must “assume, to explain the silence of the synoptics,” as Strauss does, “that in the initial oral tradition, the individual speeches and events were only generally indicated as occurring in Galilee or during the journey or in Jerusalem, but the specifics, such as which visit to the capital etc., were not determined; the later it got, the less means there were to record these distinctions, and eventually the entire evangelical material was thrown together into the categories: stay in Galilee – journey – stay in Jerusalem.”

“Finally!” – and the drama that begins in Galilee, anticipates the catastrophe during the journey, and culminates in Jerusalem, is rather the original work of the first evangelist – it is only the supplementary writings that Luke used that have disrupted the coherence of this drama, and the last one, the Fourth [Gospel], has completely destroyed it with its pragmatism.

“Into categories!” – thus, the artistically rounded acts of the original drama are turned into categories, and the categories into which the Fourth [Gospel] has forced the pulsating life of the original Gospel are hailed for their “appropriateness.”

And there were no “means” available later to add those distinctions? On the contrary, the Fourth [Gospel], which had before it the development of the Gospel literature up to the present-day Gospel of Luke, found in the richness of its vision more than enough means to present the appropriate division of the life of its Lord to the world and the admiration of later apologists.

————————-

97

The chronological information provided in the Fourth [Gospel] is so unquestionably firm in Strauss’s view that he primarily relies on it when seriously considering the question of the duration of Jesus’ public life, determining the minimum and maximum period to be assumed *).

*) I, 515-520.

Tradition serves as such a reliable witness for him regarding the statements attributed to Jesus in the Gospels that he seriously believes Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man, and he earnestly addresses the question of “what unique conception it was that Jesus embedded in this expression **)”.

**) I, 533. 

He also seriously assumes ***) that Jesus used and transformed the expression “Son of God” for himself. Indeed, his accounts of the life of the Lord go so far back into his childhood that he confidently asserts that even in the “twelve-year-old Jesus,” the “emotional aspect” that he attached to “his divine sonship” was already evident. As for the Lord’s reflections on his preexistence in the fourth Gospel, he †), given that the idea of the Messiah’s preexistence was present in high Jewish theology immediately after Jesus’ time, suggests that it was also present during the time in which Jesus developed, and thus, when he eventually conceived of himself as the Messiah, he could have transferred this resonating aspect of the Messianic conception, which was unique to his religious consciousness.

***) I, 535. 

†) I, 612.

98

“The presumption is plausible – if he could have once” – indeed, these are valuable and powerful expressions that truly lead into the secret workshop of history, as they find themselves lost in Berthold’s Jewish Christology.

—————————

Presentation as Messiah

The theological-material interest with which Strauss raises and addresses the question of how soon Jesus presented himself as the Messiah and found recognition must, in turn, lead him astray in the tangle that the reports present to an uncritical eye.

For example, if there is wavering conviction and recognition on the part of the people in the Synoptics, he finds *) that it is “not unlikely.” Instead of taking the reports as reports, he finds facts everywhere – instead of explaining the relationship of the reports to each other, he seeks to make sense of the disordered heap of facts they presuppose – instead of calming the tumult of the reports by separating the original perspective from its mixture and combination with later perspectives and interests, he seeks help from hypotheses with which theologians have elevated the monstrosities of chance, the offspring of those later combinations, to historically probable, even certain factsbecause all the evangelical acts stand on the same level of historical ground for him, he naturally cannot consider examining and explaining the internal contradiction that is already inherent in the original perspective.

*) I, 543.

99

That the people in the Synoptics are uncertain and wavering is certain to him – he does not pay attention to the fact that the praises the people of Matthew offer to Jesus as the Messiah, before Peter’s confession, contradict the report of the disciples that precedes this confession, and that only in the original Gospel preserved by Mark do the preceding sections and that report of the disciples align in the assumption that no one had recognized Jesus as the Messiah until then.

Just as he found that wavering of popular conviction “not unlikely,” he finds the unfortunate work of the Fourth [Gospel] where the people, after the feeding miracle, want to make Jesus their king and immediately afterwards (John 7:40) are not in agreement whether he is the Messiah or the Prophet *). Of course, this is because Lücke and Tholuck have already “perfectly” explained all these things, so it would be a denial of all sense of truth to let that episode of the people’s enterprise already find its pitiful end in the contradictions of the section on the feeding miracle and to consider the supposed wavering of the people in the following section (Ch. 7:40) as a failed application of the report provided by the disciples in the original Gospel regarding the popular opinion. Strauss has no attention left for examining the overall pragmatism of the Fourth [Gospel] and its relation to a more original perspective that emerges even from its wildest dissonances, as he is preoccupied with the works of Lücke, Tholuck, and the whole enlightened group of noble apologists who know how to occupy him and throw heaps of evangelical facts and their excellent explanations at him with every step he takes.

*) I, 544.

100

Thus, he allows himself to be led by the weight placed on Peter’s confession in the Synoptic Gospels and by a couple of critical apologists (Fritzsche and Schneckenburger) to distinguish between two sections in Jesus’ “public life,” in the first of which he did not present himself as the Messiah *).

*) I, 546.

Assuming that this view is correct, he finds that the immediate question now arises as to whether Jesus initially refrained from presenting himself as the Messiah because he only later came to the conviction of his messiahship, or whether he indeed had this conviction from the beginning but concealed it due to certain considerations.

In other words, he now wants to hear the grass grow, the grass of imagination, of chimera. For example, when discussing the question of whether Jesus concealed his miracles, his command to demons not to reveal him, he fails to notice that he is dealing with literary expressions in these specific points of individual Gospel sections. The next question can only be in what context they stand within the composition of the whole to which they belong, especially with the plan of the original Gospel. Instead, driven by his theological-material curiosity, he immediately rushes forward and casts his penetrating gaze “into the depths of Jesus’ soul” to discover its secrets.

101

However, he doesn’t even need to make the effort himself – the Fourth [Gospel], Fritzsche, and Tholuck reveal the secret to him. The Fourth [Gospel] provides him with a vivid image of the danger the Lord constantly had to contend with when it reports (John 6:15) how “the people, having concluded from the miraculous feeding that Jesus is the Messiah, wanted to make him king immediately.” Tholuck and Fritzsche enlighten him about how Jesus “had to fear the agitation of the fleshly messianic hopes of his time at the dissemination of any action or statement that seemed to proclaim him as the expected Messiah, and the transformation of these hopes into a more spiritual understanding was the task of his life” *) – the fear that his spiritual leaders communicated to him through their explanations clouds his eyes and prevents him from noticing the caricature he depicts in the image of the tormented man who, if he truly had to fear such terrible consequences from every action or statement “that seemed to proclaim him as the Messiah,” should have done nothing, should not have uttered anything that could have led peopArele to consider the possibility that he might indeed be the Messiah.

*) I, 548

————————–

102

When Strauss addresses the messianic plan of Jesus *), he notes: “The idea of the messianic kingdom belonged to the Israelite people; the question is whether Jesus merely adopted it as he found it or also made independent modifications to it.” In other words, he transforms the examination of the combination of the original Christian revolution with the statutory and Judaic elements into a purely personal question. Instead of grasping the revolution inherent in the Christian conception of the kingdom of heaven in its purity and tracing the historical process, presented in the Gospels, that gave this idea its positive, statutory organization, he loses himself in the twists and turns of the flat personal question of whether Jesus “included the political basic element of the Jewish messianic idea in his messianic plan.” Instead of examining the structure of the Gospels and tracing the stages of the struggle in which the revolutionary idea of the kingdom of heaven confronted the worldly empire, he gets lost in the confusion of chimerical possibilities arising from the accidental jumbling of evangelical data. Fortunately for him, he can ultimately take refuge in the haven of meaningless vagueness, which is opened to him by figures like de Wette and Neander.

*) 1, 549ff.

———————–

Jesus and the Law

Naturally, his great historical interest, which lies in the struggle and confrontation of the new Christian freedom with the law, once again shrinks into a personal question of whether “the abolition of Mosaism was Jesus’ intention.” Thus, he plunges once again into the labyrinth that owes its origin to the wild combination of sayings that emerged in various stages of that struggle and confrontation, and once again, it is the most skilled theologians who appear to him as saviors in the passages of this labyrinth.

103

Initially, a whole series of “sayings and actions of Jesus” present themselves to him, which “clearly seem to indicate” that he had that “intention” – he is certain that Jesus said this and that – for example, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” which he “quotes on every occasion” *) – however, the enlightened theologians also enlighten him about the true meaning of these sayings and actions of Jesus. For instance, it has been “properly acknowledged by open-minded ecclesiastical interpreters with an expanded theological historical perspective” **) that Jesus “did not have in mind an overthrow of the old religious constitution of his people” – “when he heals on the Sabbath or allows his disciples to pluck grain, when he does not introduce fasting or washing before meals in his company, this was not against the Mosaic law,” but rather against the “later pettiness” that considered healing and plucking a few grains to be forbidden Sabbath work – Lücke has long made it clear that Jesus (for example, with his statement in John 5:17) does not want to touch the Sabbath law itself but only the abuses that the fleshly mind of the Pharisees permitted themselves – Lücke, Tholuck, and all the “unbiased” interpreters have long relegated the question of whether a law that subjected the will of natural determination was already carnal itself to the realm of frivolous wittiness – and if the thunder of the revolutionary battles in which the innovator of the original Gospel fights against the law, the thunder that even mocks the statutory turns of Matthew’s scripture and echoes in the abstract formulas of the Fourth [Gospel] – if this thunder impresses the disciple Tholuck, the disciple Lücke, so much that they must at least admit in a feeble turn of phrase that Jesus “recognized what relates to morality and spiritual worship as the only essential in religion,” then Neander presents himself as a savior to him and tells him how it can still be imagined that Jesus, solely focused on this aspect, did not engage in a closer examination of the other ceremonial aspects; that due to his deep-rooted respect for the holy law book of his nation, he would have honored the insignificant aspects for the sake of its essential content *) – or he saves himself on his own accord in the final refuge **) by claiming that Jesus “hoped that with the growth and maturation of his ideas, the husks and shells surrounding them would naturally fall off, which still surrounded them at that time.”

*) I, 557. 

**) I, 559. 

*) I, 562-563. 

**) I, 565.

104

In my previous works, I presented and interpreted the efforts of the second Christian century to confine Christian freedom within legal boundaries as the manifestation of the eternal Jew, who had found his dwelling in Christian consciousness.

105

I will now add a counterpart to this depiction in a brief reminder of the struggle between “unbiased ecclesiastical” interpreters and the biblical passages in which Christian freedom contends, triumphs, or organizes itself. I do this not only to show Strauss that his teachers and authorities only recognize and listen to the inner Jew within the Christian, but also for a more objective interest. I will demonstrate that while early Christian Judaism, with its mitigation of the original contrast, made the new accessible to the masses and provided the Church with its indispensable foundation, the fear with which theologians seek to silence the testimonies of the original Christian revolution and the groundlessness of their cowardly turns to escape recognition of the contrast represent the ultimate culmination of ugliness and cowardice inherent in Judaism. If the Jew in the ancient Christian era participated in a real formation when he helped erect the edifice of the Church, I will demonstrate, at the very least, the weakness and dissolution of the language employed by the apologists in their struggle against evangelical sculpture, revealing the fragility and lifelessness of this phase of the eternal Jew.

In that masterpiece of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, whose original form, when freed from the compiler’s additions, speaks again of the greatness of the spirit that thoroughly organized the Christian revolution – that is, stabilized it within the law – Tholuck says that Jesus dealt not only with the Old Testament but also with the Old Testament doctrine in the form given to it by Pharisaism. The opposition “You have heard that it was said to the ancients… But I say to you…” – the opposition that always deals only with the legal commandment and its Christian fulfillment – cannot be formed more clearly and purely, cannot be executed more rigorously. But the fear – the fear of the eternal Jew! Can he admit that his law has truly succumbed to history? Can he die? No! He is more powerful than the mightiest opposition. He sustains himself by denying the contrast—his weakness, which cannot grasp the sculpture of contradiction, prolongs his unhappy existence!

106

In these parallels, Tholuck continues, “Christ, in essence, *) does not form a contradictory opposition to the Old Testament, but rather everywhere provides its fulfillment” – what bargaining! What haggling! What intellectual wheeling and dealing!

*) After demonstrating the late age in which this organization of the Christian revolution became possible, I can, without harm to the matter at hand, leave the apologist to his usage of language and assumption regarding the authorship of this and all subsequent statements.

By silently admitting that, in words, the opposition exists, Tholuck wants to persuade us to concede that, in essence, no opposition takes place.

He offers us the mere word “fulfillment,” hoping that it will satisfy us, and counts on us not thinking about the painful operations that are inevitably necessary in history to achieve the fulfillment of a form of life.

107

The Jew does not desire a plastic completion, for he does not want to relinquish the limited and obstinate determination that prevents completion from reigning supreme. He does not want the penetrating soul, for he would then have to put an end to the spell that the piercing gaze of the law casts upon his subjects. He is sentimental and wishes to convince people that history cannot be so cruel as to shatter outdated forms of life and generate new plastic forces. But in reality, if he had the power, he would be truly cruel and sacrifice the new forces that provoke his envy to his rigid and spiritless laws.

But then, “an inappropriate sense would arise,” responds Olshausen, “that Jesus set himself and his teaching in opposition to the Mosaic law”—an objection that, in the mouths of those who find every creative truth inappropriate, is indeed powerful!

If these modern Jews spoke honestly, like the ancient ones, they would explicitly state, as Bengel does, that Jesus did not declare the Law of Moses to be imperfect *), that there is no difference between Moses and Christ, and that the preaching of the latter did not surpass the law of the former **), or like Calvin, that while God promised a new covenant for the time of Christ’s coming, He also showed that it would in no way be different from the first. ***)

*) Imperfecta. 

**) Nulla pugna est inter Mosen et Christum. Mosis legem non excedit sermon Christi. 

***) Pollicitus quod erat Deus novum foedus Christi adventu, sed simul ostenderat, minime diversum fore a primo.

108

When Jesus opposes the Old Testament commandment, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders shall be liable to judgment,” with his own words, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire,” and when it is necessary to truly highlight the Pharisaic determinations that Jesus is contending with, de Wette responds that the phrase “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment” is an addition by the scribes, and Paul even calls it a “weakening addition”—as if the law did not command that judgment be passed on the murderer! As if this determination were not simply excluded from the law as a starting point for the escalation from judgment to the fires of hell in the second part of the opposition!

When Jesus opposes the legal prohibition of adultery with the statement that even the involuntary rising of lust is equivalent to adultery, de Wette remarks that “the scribes only focused on the committed, external adultery”—well then! They thought as the law did!

When Jesus asserts the complete indissolubility of marriage, one would think that the apologist would despair of finding an addition by the scribes that would form the opposition to this new law, since the law itself legitimized the man’s discretion to the utmost degree. Nevertheless, Olshausen claims that Jesus is opposing the Pharisaic interpretation, which included the legal permission for divorce as part of the essence of marriage—as if the law did not derive its authorization of the man’s discretion from its fundamental understanding of the essence of marriage! This cowardice, which fears acknowledging the opposition between the law and the gospel, finally degenerates into such horrendous statements as those of the same apologist, who claims that “the correct view of marriage as an indissoluble spiritual union was the basis of the Old Testament”—referring to the law that exposed women to the barbaric discretion of men!

109

While older interpreters like Bengel, without concern for how their interpretation aligns with the text, simply write that the retaliation, which Jesus opposes with voluntary submission to injustice, is the most appropriate punishment *), the modern apologist must make more serious efforts to eliminate the appearance that Jesus is opposing the Old Testament law. Tholuck is the fortunate one who has succeeded—he has truly discovered that Jesus is “not addressing the authorities” here—(for him, Jesus is not speaking about positive law and legislation)—he believes that in the “assumption” that “the carnal understanding of the scribes has made that judicial norm of retaliation into a norm for everyday life, even for the satisfaction of unruly revenge,” he can find help and rescue against the terrible opposition. In the enjoyment of well-deserved peace, the thorough researcher forgets that it was his duty to at least provide some form of historical evidence for his adventurous finding that the scribes made daily life a constant fistfight through the abusive application of that legal provision!

*) tallo poenarum convenientissima

Unfortunately, in my critique of this section, I have spoiled the triumphant joy with which the apologist points to the parallel between the Old Testament commandment of neighborly love and the Christian commandment of enemy love.

110

You shall love your neighbor! Yes, that is commanded in the law, but where, asks the triumphant apologist, does it say that you should hate your enemy? Tholuck answers that hating your enemy is rather an “addition of the scribes,” a conclusion “falsely added by the Pharisees,” according to de Wette, or “a conclusion drawn by the Pharisees from the Mosaic command,” says Paul.

The whole matter boils down to the fact that this statement is nothing more than a correct inference from the legal perspective, but an inept and feeble trailing addition by the compiler from whom the present Gospel of Matthew originated.

The contrast between the old and the new law remains!

“The strong,” says Jesus, when the Pharisees criticized him for associating with sinners and tax collectors, “do not need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Even this revolutionary statement, which completely overturns the world order, was not safe from the numbing activity of the apologists. “The Pharisees,” for example, as de Wette says, “are, albeit comparatively, the righteous and found, because they did not live in such unrighteousness as the tax collectors; Jesus acknowledges legal righteousness.” Thus, the religious artist who crafted this statement in vain brought forth the entire subversive irony of the Christian principle in its simplest expression. The apologist has failed to grasp the essence of the Christian revolution, which destroyed the privilege of the righteous and made the outcasts the object of divine favor.

He must also tackle the parable of the lost coin and the lost sheep. “The idea that the joy over one repentant sinner is greater than over ninety-nine righteous ones,” says de Wette, “is understood in human terms. Humans rejoice more in what is regained for the moment than in what they possess peacefully.” In heaven, this joy is rather eternal. “The preponderance” of that joy, says de Wette, “cannot be attributed to God. Rather, it will take place in heaven” (Luke 15:7). “Of course,” de Wette replies, “that is said ‘only in figurative speech.'” But what is natural is rather that the natural person understands nothing about heavenly things.

111

As Strauss says, Calvin also states that Jesus did not oppose the Sabbath law, but only fought against the pettiness of the Pharisees *) and their self-invented traditions. When Jesus justifies the disciples who were accused by the Pharisees of plucking grain on the Sabbath by saying that David did something that was not lawful according to the law, Calvin knows better: he says that David did nothing against the law **) itself. Or when Jesus refers to the priests who desecrate the Sabbath because of their temple service, which requires work from them, Calvin says that Jesus is speaking indirectly and accommodating himself to the listeners—the listeners—the opponents, who are struck down by this cleverly invented turn of phrase!

*) their superciliousness. 

**) except for the law — an example of the imprecision of theological language. Calvin merges the two perspectives involved. The question is not only whether David did nothing against the law—which can appear different according to various opinions—but whether he did something that the positive law prohibited.

112

Another expression of hostility with which the natural man pursues the freedom of the new spirit!

Even if Matthew had not given his inappropriate conclusion to Jesus’ explanation about the only defiling thing (Matt. 15:20) and mentioned again the eating with unwashed hands, after having moved on to a much broader dialectic from this occasion, the theologians would still have gotten lost.

Even the question of whether Jesus declares himself against the Mosaic dietary laws, de Wette considers “improper,” as the context does not lead to it and it is clear from Matt. 15:20 that Jesus is only thinking about eating with unwashed hands. Instead of being moved by the power of the statement about the only defiling thing to investigate whether there is really coherence in Matthew’s compilation, de Wette uses the incoherence of this compilation to stifle that power.

“Not what goes into the mouth defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a person” (Matt. 15:11) — this is a contradiction whose pure tension imparts an equally unrestricted universality to each of its two sides. Only that which is of spiritual origin can defile a person — no food (thus, the statement is not just about food that is brought to the mouth with unwashed hands) can defile a person, as it is merely natural.

Despite the clear execution of the contradiction, Fritzsche dares to claim that Jesus does not want to deny outright that food defiles a person but only says that evil thoughts defile him much more.

113

To the Jew, who only loves spiteful or feeble antitheses, a substantial contradiction is abhorrent — a contradiction that confidently strides forward in the proud self-awareness of its content is considered godless and blasphemous. Therefore, he must see if it is possible to sever its sinews.

Olshausen is even daring enough to venture the claim that, in truth, there is no contradiction at all, and that it only “seemed” so to the disciples who, in their weak understanding of the height that theological interpretation could reach, did not yet grasp the supposed contradiction between the statement about the only defiling thing and the Old Testament, which teaches the distinction between clean and unclean foods.

No! There is no substantive, real contradiction present — Jesus could not and should not have dealt this deadly blow against the positive law. “Since he acknowledges the divinity of the Old Testament, he must also see something significant in the dietary laws,” says Olshausen. Thus, the sentimental Jew, the cowardly and cruel protector of the most oppressive and outdated antiquity, hopes to make us forget the fact that it concerns the positive validity of the law by pointing out its significance.

No! The Redeemer does not mean to say that the dietary laws are “completely empty and arbitrary.” He simply emphasizes the contrast between the internal and the external, and notes that food, as something external, can never touch or defile the internal. But does that not put an end once and for all to a perspective that ascribed spiritual and moral power to the natural order itself, thus presupposing that it could directly impact and influence the spirit?

114

The rabbi speaks of significance and pretends to be capable of discovering the internal basis of the Oriental view regarding the defiling power of the natural world. But as a Jew, he is just as incapable of grasping the inner soul of a viewpoint as he is of freeing himself from it. While the Orient believes that the spiritually defiling power of nature can be seen in those phenomena where it seemingly lives a life of its own and defies divine will — thus, in all manifestations where its rebellious forces contradict the harmony of the divine or no longer obey the soul of the organism — for Olshausen, the “significant” ordinance, which the Redeemer also found highly significant and continued to uphold for his community despite his “emphasis” on the contrast between the internal and the external, shrinks down to the commonplace notion that “external things can externally defile, and therefore, it does matter what a person eats.”

The eternal Jew no longer understands the meaning of the laws to which he obeyed in his Oriental homeland — but he also fails to understand the freedom of the world through which he travels and in whose new legislation he nevertheless constantly seeks to interfere as an old, experienced master.

———————

Gentiles and Samaritans

I return to Strauss.

Even in the question of the extent of Jesus’ messianic plan and his relationship with the Gentiles, he struggles with the sayings of the Gospel Jesus and weighs his possibilities, all of which are chimera-like and remain so since they are based on the assumption and will remain dependent on the notion that tradition truly carried Jesus’ expressions on this matter. Nowhere is there a force that puts an end to the boredom of this swinging movement — no solace in this hell, except occasionally when Neander and de Wette appear and uplift him with their revelations!

115

He owes his enlightenment, for example, to the way out that the prohibition given to the disciples to approach the Gentiles can with all likelihood be presented as one that was intended to be temporary. Jesus found it advisable to establish the Gospel primarily among his compatriots during his lifetime and only later, once the ideas of his followers would be purified through his death, to let it spread further *).

*) I, 571.

In an equally uninspired manner, he obscures the difficulties that arise from the contradiction in which the Gospel statements of Jesus about “the relationship of the messianic plan to the Samaritans” find themselves. He presents one possibility after another until Neander convinces him that “reasons can be imagined for which Jesus found it unobjectionable to proclaim himself as the Messiah to the Samaritans—a branch severed from the trunk of the nation with less intense national sentiment, whose Messianic expectations, although politically colored, seemed to encounter less resistance than from the Jews and even from the disciples as long as Jesus was still alive” *).

*) I, 581.

116

Truly a successful character portrait. He was truly a man who always had to fear resistance—even among his closest followers—and “found it unobjectionable” to personally “confess” himself **) once to a circle that “seemed to offer less resistance!” Indeed, a hero who did not know how to fight!

**) I, 584. 

———————

Miracles

To prove that the fishing miracle of Peter in the Gospel of Luke is a transformed account of Jesus’ initial calling of the disciples, Strauss asks ***), “Since when has it been the nature of legend to spiritualize the real, to transform a miracle story into the realm of the ideal, or mere speech into something else?” On the contrary, he argues that it is the opposite that is inherent in the nature of legend.

***) I, 603.

By inserting this stake, the concept of legend, into an investigation that deals with entirely different factors, it is effectively killed from the outset. The nature of legend is not relevant to this particular inquiry. Rather, what needs to be examined are the reports themselves, their mutual relationship, and their relationship to the writings in which they are found, as well as the relationship between these writings. This is the sole focus of the investigation. At first glance, this inquiry may appear more complex than determining what is inherent in the nature of legend. However, in reality, it is much simpler – as simple as sticking to what is truly in accordance with nature.

117

After examining the threefold relationship mentioned above, it becomes evident that the author of the present Gospel of Luke used the writings of a man who had utilized Jesus’ words to his first disciples to create a narrative of miracles. If one were to draw the conclusion from this result, following the style of Strauss’s criticism, that it is in the nature of later writers to transform the ideal, such as mere speeches, into the real, namely into miracle stories, then the Gospel of Luke itself would strongly protest against such a claim. This is because the Gospel of Luke, through its transformation of the story of the cursed fig tree into the parable of the fig tree, actually demonstrates that a writer can also be inclined towards the opposite approach.

The fourth Gospel also tells of a miraculous catch of fish that took place after Jesus’ resurrection. “That this is a different story from the one told by Luke,” says Strauss, “is hardly conceivable due to the great similarity; undoubtedly, the same story has been attributed to different parts of Jesus’ life through tradition.” *)

*) I, 604.

For the critic who considers the phrase “without a doubt” as a highly inappropriate tool for research, one thing is undoubtedly certain: they must ascertain from the internal structure and mutual connection of two accounts whether they are related to each other in a literary sense. The differences that accompany the similarities will inform them which of the two accounts is original and which is a copy. “Without a doubt,” they will then discover that it was not tradition but the author of the fourth Gospel who utilized Luke’s account of Peter’s fishing miracle for their composition, while also incorporating an interest that permeates Luke’s narrative of the appearance of the resurrected Christ.

118

I will present one piece of evidence. When the risen one appeared to the Eleven, Luke reports, and they were frightened, he allows them to touch him to convince themselves that he has flesh and bones and is not a spirit. But even though they still doubted, he asked them if they had anything to eat and ate the food they gave him before their eyes. This is clear, sensible, coherent, and formed in this context. However, in the fourth Gospel, when the disciples are on the sea and the risen one stands on the shore, and before they recognized him and without any apparent motivation, he shouts to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” it is “undoubtedly” certain that the Fourth Gospel has taken a cue from Luke’s account, torn it out of its natural context, and detached it from all natural motives.

———————

When Strauss, as a result of his vacillation over the Sermon on the Mount, puts forward the statements *) that “the weighty discourses of Jesus could not be dissolved by the flood of oral tradition, but often they were torn out of their natural context and placed in locations where they did not actually belong,” that Matthew was “a skillful collector,” and that finally in Luke and Mark “some small pieces remained where chance had left them,” he has, in fact, allowed himself to be carried away by the chimera of tradition and determined by chance, instead of investigating the only available facts and allowing reality, when appropriately questioned, to testify most willingly to its order.

*) I, 604.

119

If the Gospels are considered not as a reflection of tradition, but as what they truly are, namely, literary compositions, then the contrast between the original Gospel, in which the concise, impactful and world-changing responses and utterances of the Lord are in harmonious relation to the narrative structure, and the later compilations becomes evident. The later creations, which the compilers have thrown together with foreign elements, can be separated again. Finally, the sequence of historical developments and struggles that the community life had to undergo in order for these later creations to become possible comes to light.

In short, the sequence of historical stages, the course of literary creation, composition, and compilation—life and reality—form and individuality take the place of vague phrases.

———————

120

Problems with Oral Tradition

It is true – when Augustine *) explains the different positions given by the evangelists to individual events by stating that each one “believed he had to narrate in the order in which God pleased, inserting into his memory precisely what he narrated,” the naivety of the tautology, which believes that by attributing it to God’s pleasure, it explains a difficulty, can hardly be surpassed.

*) in his work “On the Harmony of the Evangelists” Book II, chapter 44, 51, and others.

The obtuseness of consciousness that Schleiermacher demonstrates when he derives the peculiar order in which Luke narrates the events from the fact that he used the works of collectors of anecdotes who combined the events in the order in which they had experienced them is hardly capable of further escalation.

But what was still possible, Strauss has actually accomplished – his theory of tradition has enabled him to compete successfully with the naivety of the great church father and the modern holy dullness, and he has truly succeeded, just as devoid of spirit as the latter, in deriving the pragmatic arrangement of the gospel material from chance and, at the same time, just as believably as Augustine did, attributing chance to a higher power.

The evangelists write down their anecdotes in the form and order in which tradition dictated to them. However, significant variations occur among their works, and it is the nature of oral tradition itself that allows for the emergence of different versions of the same material and the alteration of the usual sequence. In contrast, the ordinary tradition – and here we must risk this tautology – preserved the usual form and order more firmly. These differences can be easily explained by the fact that the evangelists either followed the general tradition or adhered to the specifics of the oral tradition. For instance, when Luke presents Jesus’ saying about his spiritual relatives in two versions, he was influenced by both traditions. *).

*) I, 761

121

Even the Fourth Gospel, for whose rescue from his earlier doubts Strauss feels infinitely indebted to Neander and de Wette, owes certain fragments to the inspiration of this tradition – he too was subject to that chance – for example, **) “the traditional dictum” (Arise, let us go from here, John 14:31) has “unintentionally slipped in” into the discourse that forms the farewell speech of Jesus.

**) I, 729

——————-

Nowhere is there a soulful gaze that reveals the inner life of an evangelical creation! Never does a spark of life shine from the eye that could reveal the life that flows through the original structure of evangelical history. No sense of plan, rhythm, and harmony – therefore, no sense of confusion, dissonance, and the combination of discordant tones!

Life, spirit, and the sense of form and soul cannot emerge in the hunger of theological interest.

122

For example, it concerns the different placement that the Fourth Gospel and the Synoptics give to the cleansing of the temple. According to Strauss, the only difference is that the latter “place this event in the one Jerusalem visit of Jesus, of which they are aware,” while the former allows it to occur during the first festival visit. The only question for him is which of these assumptions is historically correct. No! The difference already contains the answer. “Since the specific time indication of the Fourth Evangelist is juxtaposed with the others, which are actually without time determination, the appearance of greater internal difficulty on the side of time determination in the Fourth Gospel cannot authorize us, concludes Strauss, *) with our imperfect knowledge of the temporal circumstances and specific details, to reject it in favor of another that has no specific testimony for itself.”

*) I, 773

But what testimony does the Fourth Gospel have for itself? Must only one assumption be rejected? And if, correctly framed, it concerns both assumptions simultaneously, does anything change if they are both rejected? Should the theologian, with his false craving for historical data, dominate research to the extent that it believes its task is solved when it has resolved the contradiction between two evangelical assumptions in their mutual demise?

No! Because this resolution of the contradiction can only be achieved if, in the freedom of its theoretical interest, it does justice to both sides of the contradiction, seeks their souls, and explains their origins.

——————-

123

Strauss presents the question regarding the accounts of the anointing of Jesus as follows: “If the four narratives can only be reconciled under the assumption that several of them have undergone traditional modifications, then the question arises as to which of them is closest to the original event.” *)

*) I, 783

Only? Is that the only assumption under which the accounts— (not to “reconcile,” because that is still the language of theological interest seeking to harmoniously unite the accounts, but) —are to be placed in their internal relationship? Accounts that, in every sentence, in every turn of phrase, provide evidence that they originated from one another?

And the next question would be which of the four accounts is closest to the original event?

It is rather the question of which is the original account, in what sequence the others originated, and what interest led the later ones to make changes. Once this question is answered, the soul that received its body in the original account will no longer remain a mystery.

After the usual back and forth, such as “it is not advisable to accuse the Fourth Gospel, which calls the anointing woman Mary, of an unhistorical naming,” and that “the relationship between Jesus and the family in Bethany” is instead “a point at which this Gospel likely has more detailed notes than the others,” Strauss arrives at the conclusion that the reports of Matthew and Mark about Jesus’ stay in Bethany, Luke’s account of his visit with the sisters Martha and Mary, and the reports of Mark and Matthew about the anointing in Bethany— “these scattered details are as many signposts pointing to a point of convergence in the narrative of John.” *)

*) I, 786, 787

124

Very natural! After the Fourth Gospel borrowed these details from its predecessors and united them in its own way.

——————-

That the Jewish people in Jesus’ time expected miraculous deeds from the Messiah,”**) Strauss is “certain from the Gospels.” However, whether the Gospels themselves are allowed to testify in their own matter, that is, whether their assumption of a Jewish dogma that prescribed to the Messiah what he had to do, can withstand the forum of historical criticism — he thinks as little about this question as Bertholdt, his Christological authority.

**) II ,1

What misfortune must befall him, then, when he enumerates the Gospel testimonies one by one and attempts to use them for his tautological proof!

When Jesus once healed a demon-possessed blind man, the people were led to speculate whether he might be the Son of David. Unfortunately, it is only in Matthew (12:23-28) that this belief is presupposed among the masses so early, before Peter with his God-given faith and the blind man of Jericho appear as harbingers of the approaching popular belief. “John the Baptist, prompted by rumors of Jesus’ deeds, questioned whether he was the Coming One. To which Jesus, in order to affirm that he was, referred to his miracles”—but in what world did this Baptist and this Jesus live? Not even in the world of the original Gospel, but rather in the world later created, for which one of Luke’s precursors is responsible.

125

So Strauss actually assumes—and he wants to prove—that Jesus performed miracles? Indeed! Otherwise, the speculation prompted by witnessing these miracles would lack persuasive power for his hypothesis of the messianic dogma of the Jews. Otherwise, the apologists who painstakingly sought evidence for the credibility of the Gospel miracle accounts would have worked in vain on his behalf!

For example, *) he states that “the gift of miracles continued in the apostolic Church even after Jesus’ departure. This is not only attested by the Acts of the Apostles, whose testimony could possibly be invoked, but also by the indisputable witness of the Apostle Paul in his letters, where he ascribes to himself a power of signs and wonders bestowed by Christ (Romans 15:19), and attributes an efficacy in signs and wonders among the gifts of healing and miracles distributed in the community” (2 Corinthians 12:12).

*) II, 5

I, on the other hand, have proven that the miracles in the Acts of the Apostles are a literary copy of the miracles of Jesus and that the so-called Pauline Apostle, including those main and foundational epistles previously regarded as unquestionably Pauline, is a late product of the second Christian century.

126

Strauss continues: “From here, a conclusion applies not only in the sense that we do not have an absolute right to accept something in one place and reject it in another, but even by reasoning from the minor to the major, we must find the extraordinary more believable in the case of Jesus than in the case of his disciples.” Therefore, I would have even more, since I can start from a proof, the right to infer from the literary origin of the copy to the same origin of the original. However, I do not need this inference—I have let the copy and the original speak for themselves and render their own judgment.

——————-

Regarding the specific types of miracles, Strauss strongly argues that Jesus should be attributed “such an elaborate demonology” as is evidenced by his statements and words about demons. When he discusses specific stories, he divides them according to what suits his interests, distinguishing between the factual and the legendary. For example, he states about the story of the Gadarene demoniac *): “While there is little reason to doubt that the healing of one or two individuals with particularly severe forms of illness by Jesus is a factual basis, there are serious doubts **) that must be cast on certain details of the narrative ***), particularly the inclusion of the incident with the swine, *)  which is likely to be legendary.”

*) II, 47

**) but certainly not by the account itself. 

***) which, however, the account considers as just as necessary elements of itself as the components of the supposed basic fact.

*) even if the report so earnestly wanted to claim him as the last printer to finish his night piece.

127

Indeed, a great notion of criticism! A thorough decision that separates the two components in the accounts, which one has “no cause to doubt” as the historical core, and which one is “urgently compelled” to consider as mythical additions!

However, if the structure of the accounts, their grouping, and their relationship to the overall plan of the Gospels are truly examined, the question will assume a position that surpasses that theological curiosity about the historical facts and that arbitrary distinction between the historical core and the mythical additions. It will then become evident why the Fourth Gospel, about which the apologists have speculated uncertainly until Strauss, knows nothing about this struggle of Jesus with the demons.

The original evangelist, who designed his narrative so that Jesus was only recognized as the Messiah by the disciples and the people at the end of his Galilean ministry, could not bear it and still felt the contradiction in nobody recognizing the Messiah in the Mighty One and confessing him as such. He even had to present confessors from the very beginning, who testified to how powerful and compelling the impression of his personality was. According to the overall structure of his work, people could not immediately interpret this impression, so they could only be supernatural spirits who recognized the Son of the Most High in the Exalted and Unique One and testified to his superiority in their defeat.

128

The Fourth Gospel does not mention anything about this struggle, not because it was unaware of it, not because, due to its presumed high education, it wanted to know nothing about these companions of the devil. On the contrary, it had the current Gospel of Luke and partly the source texts of the other synoptic Gospels in mind. It deliberately chose not to mention that struggle with the ruler of Satan because it depicts the Lord engaging in a broader, more abstract way in a battle against Satan and his children. Perhaps it also felt the service that the demons provide in the original design of the Gospel narrative. In its writing, at least, which includes different heralds of the Messiah and presents the Lord asserting his messianic identity to the people from the very beginning, the demons were unnecessary as the betrayers of the secret.

——————-

Regarding the “healings of lepers,” Strauss remarks *) that whether a healing power similar to magnetism, which we assume Jesus possessed, could also have a healing effect on disturbed nerves (referring to the so-called demon-possessed individuals) or on corrupted bodily fluids, remains uncertain. In any case, the insertion of an intermediate period would be necessary to make the reported success conceivable.

*) II, 79

129

Fortunately, the Urevangelium (original Gospel), which only reports one healing of a leper and allows the significance of this event to clearly emerge in its thoughtful pragmatism, frees us from any medical investigation that genuine Gospel criticism will never be called upon to undertake, as well as from resorting to a tool whose application is left to the author of the “natural history of the great Prophet from Nazareth” and its apologetic followers.

Let physicians, if they wish to compete with theologians, address the question of whether “a healing power similar to magnetism can also act on corrupted bodily fluids,” and so on. Let theologians, to satisfy their limited interests and establish the historical credibility of an evangelical account, enrich the medical field with the hypotheses born out of their anxieties. However, the critic requires theological enlightenment, just as little as the physician needs theological hypotheses or the theologian’s medical knowledge. The critic solely engages with the literary pragmatism that connects the apologetic interpretation in the final words of Jesus to the healed leper with the revolutionary struggle that immediately erupts against the law. It is a pragmatism that, unlike any theological medicine or medical theology, determines the fate of the apologetic introduction and the revolutionary section that precedes it.

130

Enough of Strauss’s theory of miracles and explanations of the miracle accounts!

For research, it is indifferent from which further or closer point the insertion of natural intermediate links no longer seems feasible, where he no longer follows Neander’s hints, disregards Paulus and Venturini, where he no longer considers it possible to separate the fabulous additions from the underlying factual events, and finds the “historical interpretation” of the accounts gradually so difficult that he finally resorts to “Jewish folk legend” and the messianic dogma of the Jews to burden them with the responsibility for the entire “miracle” at hand.

The Resurrection

I will only add a few remarks to his elucidations regarding the facts underlying the resurrection accounts in the Gospels and then counter the false conclusions of Weisse’s reasoning on the same matter with a few words based on the actual facts.

After another endless and haphazard discourse, Strauss reaches a conclusion, of which he is certainly unaware that it is merely a condensed expression of the aimlessness of this back-and-forth and at the same time its starting point and inner foundation.

Considering the contradictions among the Evangelists, he says, one would have to be intentionally blind not to acknowledge that none of the narrators knew what the other reported and assumed, that each had heard the matter in a different way, and that therefore, only fluctuating and often confused rumors were circulating early on regarding the appearances of the risen Jesus.

131

On the contrary, because criticism opens the eyes, it leads to the certainty that among the authors of the present Gospels, Matthew had the work of Luke in mind, the Fourth Gospel knew both writings, and the reviser of the original Gospel, whom the Church calls Mark, borrowed some of his additions from these predecessors.

Because criticism truly opens the eyes, it leads out of the haze of ignorance, from the simple and cohesive creation of the original evangelist to the later formations and combinations that gradually succeeded one another in the long series extending from the work of the early Luke to the final compilation of Mark.

What the honest fragmentist accomplished in ten paragraphs and what Lessing defended so thoroughly, criticism achieves—it explains the contradictions between the Gospel accounts—it traces the origin of these contradictions.

Strauss has accomplished nothing—has explained nothing in his entire work.

“Early on in circulation”—the apologist wants to remain as close as possible to the supposed original factual basis underlying the “fluctuating and often varied rumors,” to the supposed ecstatic visions in which the disciples believed they saw the risen Christ—he must cling to this factual basis—there must be a factual basis—but the actual factual basis, the present literary works of the Evangelists, above all, the great fact that sacred history is a creation of faith—he cannot, he does not want to see it—because he cannot “intentionally be blind.”

132

But regarding the account of the “undoubtedly genuine” first letter to the Corinthians by Paul—a letter that was written “around the year 59 AD, thus less than 30 years after his resurrection”—we must believe that “many members of the first community, especially the apostles, were convinced of having experienced appearances of the risen Christ at the time of writing the letter.” *)

*) ibid.

An unfortunate appeal to a letter that was written in the middle of the second century and whose author had no other source for his mention of the appearances of the risen one than that adaptation of the original Gospel, which even the early Luke used for his compilation!

——————-

Weisse, who assumes that the actual basis underlying the Gospel accounts are not ecstatic visions of the disciples but actual appearances of the risen one, albeit appearances of a kind for which we can hardly find a specific and indicative word since they lie outside the realm of positive reality, primarily builds his understanding of the resurrection on that mention in the first letter to the Corinthians. Therefore, he chooses an equally unfortunate ground as Strauss as the basis for his argumentation, but he cannot choose a firm ground either when, in the interest of apologetics, he ignores the only positive reality—the Gospel accounts—and the only creative force—the faith that shaped the original formation—and pursues a chimerical reality.

133

As evidence for the “immaterial, spiritual, or ghostly nature” of the appearances of the risen one described in the Gospels, Weisse, for example, cites the fact that Paul, in his letter, compares the appearance that had happened to him as “similar” to those *)—in reverse: the author of that letter compiles all the appearances of the risen one, except for Paul’s, in this way because he considers the latter to be just as real, marvelous, visible, and physical as the earlier ones that happened to the first believers.

*) Weisse, Evangelische Geschichte II, 367. 

To keep the nature of the risen one separate from all material corporeality and to equate it with the nature of the believers in their resurrection—I cannot express this idea more precisely—Weisse stoops so low **) as to invoke Paul’s appeal to the Pharisaic doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles—to use that appeal through which the apostle aims to win over the Pharisees against the Sadducees.

**) II, 370. 371.

Certainly, Weisse does not knowingly stoop down, for he is unaware that this ugly turn, with which the Paul of the Acts of the Apostles appeals to the agreement between his teaching of the risen one and Jewish orthodoxy *), is only one of those humiliations imposed by the author of that work upon the apostle to the Gentiles—a mere attenuation of the original Christian content, which finds its explanation in his Judaism.

*) Acts of the Apostles 23:6. 

134

The apologist will not cease to draw the most welcome materials for his construction of the history of the Gospels from the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline Epistles, and those who know him (I am not speaking of Weiße, whose search I also respect in his errors) will not entertain the thought that it will be possible to convince him of the uselessness of these materials. However, in the field of research, with my criticism of that historical work and these letters, I will have achieved enough that the burden of the light-friendly Judaism of the Acts of the Apostles, as well as the presuppositions derived from the Gospels by the authors of the Pauline Epistles, will no longer be imposed upon the Gospels that preceded them, and they will no longer be imposed as witnesses.

I will briefly mention the following: When Weisse, rightly so, claims to know nothing about an appearance of the resurrected Christ to the women in the Urevangelium (the original Gospel), he bases it on **) the fact that the Paul of the first Corinthians knows nothing about it either. This is simply because the author of that letter was not yet acquainted with the Fourth and current Gospel of Mark or the Gospel of Matthew, which provided the Fourth Gospel with the basis for its elaborate account of the encounter between the resurrected Christ and Mary Magdalene. The Gospel literature of his time knew nothing about such an appearance.

**) II, 354. 355.

——————-

135

This description of the tradition hypothesis will finally receive its most fitting conclusion when I present the behaviour of its adherents towards some of the main theses of my criticism.

——————-

 


BRUNO BAUER: Theological Explanation of the Gospels – I. The theological explanation of the fourth Gospel

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Theological Explanation of the Gospels

Die theologische Erklärung der Evangelien

by

Bruno Bauer

1852

 

I.

The theological explanation of the fourth Gospel.

45

For the German Protestant Church, the Johannine age of disintegration and instability began, if we leave Fichte’s declamations to the past as a prophecy of this completion of the indeterminacy that is inherent in religious consciousness in general, when, in the second decade of our century, religiosity, which had still proved powerful even in the rational cult of the Revolution, turned again to Christian forms and, at the same time, rationalism accomplished one of its most significant deeds in Brettschneider’s Probabilia *).

If this new religiosity was already a broken figure from the outset, since as a mere reaction against Enlightenment it could only repeat the flabby opposites of deism and at most transpose them into Christian formulas, its attitude had to become even more unhappy and sad, since it had to defend its corresponding gospel against Brettschneider’s “two” fels about the origin of the same from an apostle.

*) 1820

46

Fichte had already correctly sensed that the fourth Gospel corresponded to the new religiosity of which he was the prophet, and had based his edifying speeches on eternal and blessed life on it – the new theology had found its Christian-modified deistic highest essence in the formlessness of the messianic figure that this Gospel sets up, and in its contrast to the world, it had found its Christian-modified deistic highest essence – and now it, the unfortunate one, whose decrepit bones still trembled from the struggles of the Enlightenment, had to enter its career in the wake of doubt – it had to struggle to win back that melting figure from doubt!

With Brettschneider, with the exception of a few counter-writes, no real battle took place. He himself did not pursue his attack, but rather withdrew later with a few unifying remarks. As correct as most of his antitheses of the synoptic and Johannine portrayal of the Messiah were, they still lacked the solid foundation on which they could have developed their strength and become established. He gave the synoptic representation the preference – attributed to it the glory of greater historicity – but time had long since lost real faith in the truth of the synoptic massiveness, had almost lost the memory of the synoptic sculpture – from Ratio nalism and its representative Brettschneider one could not seriously assume that his preference for the synoptic figure would be followed by a real living into it, What, then, was the time to do with a work that wanted to command faith in a figure that no longer had any real life in any of those who were seized by the new religiosity and brought about the new theology?

47

Brettschneider’s work was a premature attempt which, after the appearance of the independent counter-writings, was only mentioned in the historical textbooks, as well as in the introductions to the Commentaries on the Fourth Gospel, and was rejected as an erroneous hypothesis – its effect was, to all appearances, just as superficial and soon obliterated, as that which the Superintendent Vogel had been able to achieve twenty years earlier with his ״Juvenal Judgement’ on the Evangelist John and his commentators – but it was only so easy for the theologians to come to terms with Vrettschneider’s twists and turns and to ignore them because they themselves carried doubt within them.

They had all fallen prey to unbelief – they wanted to get out of the power of negation, and the whole movement which occupied the German world for twenty years until Straussen’s resignation is nothing more than this last struggle of faith with unbelief, the last attempt of faith to assert itself before unbelief – but how would it have been possible to escape unbelief by a mere turning away from faith and to render harmless a power which had dominated the world for centuries? *

With the same justification with which one calls this turn to faith, one can call it the last, decisive penetration of unbelief into faith.

No! With a much greater right.

48

This, the complete conversion of unbelief into faith, is the historical reality, the real meaning and fact of the period.

I called the movement of this period a reactionary one – well! just as every historically significant reaction is only the organisation of the revolution against which it is directed and which, in its opinion, it puts an end to, so the theology and apologetics of this period is the Christian organisation of unbelief – an organisation which has received its proper conclusion in Strauss. .

When the hermaphroditism of the newer Christianity and theology suddenly saw this conclusion before it, it could be startled and protest in a multitude that it had nothing in common with this work, which came solely from the spirit of negation – but how much this work, as the consummate marriage of faith and negation, belonged to it, even for those to whom this connection seems incredible, the success must testify, the fact must prove, that theology, after it had not produced a new turn in those protests and had only assured the solidity of its preceding twenty years of work, had to go into eternal retirement and had nothing more to do. Strauss had done all she could in the end.

It is certain that the work of that twenty-year period was the work of unbelieving faith and believing unbelief.

The preference for the fourth Gospel was the result of unbelief that could no longer bear the strict and firm figure of the synoptic Jesus and hoped to be able to assert itself as faith in the melting world of that Gospel.

49

Weak – vain hope! How can a being that fled from the plastic form and is doubt from the outset, even face the blurring form with certainty and composure? How can it, the unbelieving, uncertain being, grasp and acknowledge the deformity for what it is, as a deformity? It seeks support and salvation against its inner restlessness and insecurity in the dissolving deformity; therefore it must forcibly intervene in the uncertain lines, in the untenable contrasts, in the exaggerated movements of its ideal and try to bring support into the contrasts, moderation into the movements.

So this unhappy being must disfigure the deformity even more, i.e. completely destroy his own ideal, give the lie to his faith in the fourth gospel.

And from where do the apologists, who in the course of that period defended and explained the Gospel of the heart, get the standard which is to bring form, support and measure into its untenability?

From the very Synoptic Gospels which their unbelief had already abandoned.

At the beginning of this period *) Gieseler had for the first time brought the hitherto isolated impulses of the tradition hypothesis to unity and to a kind of consistency, thus providing his contemporaries with what they needed for their explanation and defence of the fourth Gospel. It is true that he still left open the possibility that the traditional view of the origin of the Synoptic Gospels could be reconciled with the assumption of a gradually ordered Gospel tradition; indeed, he even believed that he could not recommend his version of the Tradition hypothesis any better than by asserting that it corresponded to the view of the origin of the Fourth Gospel, that it only provides the most certain support for the view of the origin of the Synoptic Gospels – only the power of faith was lacking in time, which also made it quite clear from Gieseler’s statement that he was not entirely serious about this recommendation of his hypothesis, and appropriated from the latter what corresponded to its love of indeterminacy and could be of real service to it in its treatment of the Fourth Gospel – i.e. the presupposition that it was not possible to find the origin of the Synoptic Gospels. I. e. the presupposition that in the Synoptic Gospels the oral tradition of the Gospel material had received its written fixation.

*) 1818.

50

If it was now necessary to defend the individual features of the fourth Gospel, its embarrassing detail and its deviating premises against the Synoptic Gospels, the more chimerical, groundless and crude it was at the same time, the more the definiteness of the fourth was a proof of its eye-witnessnessness and it was self-evident that the Synoptic Gospels, as documents of oral tradition, had to take a back seat to its work.

The tradition, however, especially since it had received its basic form from the apostles, nevertheless also led back to the real facts – thus the process of theological explanation and the decision was not as easy as it seemed at first in view of the simplicity of the contrast between eyewitness and oral tradition – in other words: the faith which was preferably due to the fourth gospel was also claimed by the synoptic gospels and penetrated the unbelief with which theology regarded the latter, whereas the unbelief which had affected the synoptics was turned against the fourth.

51

That is to say, one sought to harmonistically balance the opposing presuppositions, to blur the contradiction, and if for this purpose the presuppositions of the Fourth were forced upon the synoptic view, the theo-logical busyness was at the same time so unpartheistic in its anxiety that it muffled the most glaring detailed determinations of the latter to the benefit of the synoptic view or let them become completely blurred in the latter.

The common work of this unbelieving faith and believing unbelief now consists in those theological acts of violence against the clearest and firmest determinations of the evangelical text, which I had to present in detail as such in the first elaboration of my critique and of which I have proved that they are just as atrocious as they are silly and purposeless – atrocious, inasmuch as they are evangelical views and determinations, which the supposed faith of the theologians venerates as God’s word and threatens to oppose the unbelief of the world, to maltreatment which otherwise only characterises the most brutal struggle to the death – silly and pointless, insofar as they are perpetrated against the clearest text and insurmountable laws of language – futile, since the scriptural word which the theologian wanted to strangle survives all his efforts and in the end only stands there as his accuser.

After this struggle of united faith and unbelief has reached its end in the freedom that criticism has given to the Word of Scripture, – its end at least within the context of historical development, to which theology will no longer add any significant achievement, even if it maintains its status quo for so long with the reminiscence of its painful work – I was able to refrain from any interference in the present implementation of my critique.

52

The Gospels now belong to themselves, to history, and to that free and happy outlook which has already enriched itself with the bit- world of fetishism and the art world of polytheism, and which, in the bright space of its memory above the tumult of images of the Orient and the ideals of Greek lands, now also sets up the monotheistic image of the One, who, as man — in faith and in the new power that signify the rise of Christianity — has dreamed the dream of dominion over the whole universe and — again as the ideal man of faith — has for the first time grasped the thought of a complete break with the past.

If the ideal is saved and no longer needs to be defended against modern Jewishness, then the battle that the Jewish unbelief of theological faith waged with the evangelical witness also belongs to historical memory. It no longer provokes a counter-struggle, for the object against which it was waged is securely established; – it only needs to be presented and described in its most important turns, just as the criticism of the Gospels has become a pure presentation of their contradictions and of the original form to which these contradictions lead back.

But before I go on to describe the crudeness and cowardice of this struggle of the last 

theologians against the Gospels, I must first remark that it is but the consummation of the ambiguous conduct which the chiefs of Christian science have always shown, and indeed could only show, against the Scriptures. If the greatest organisations of Christianity, such as, for example, the mediæval If the greatest organisations of Christianity, such as the medieval division of spiritual and temporal power or even the Protestant creation of the state church, after a short flowering, only disintegrated again and again very soon, more quickly than the organisations of antiquity, because the vagueness and indeterminacy of their theological basis made it considerably easier for the offended to fight against them and provided the most dangerous weapons, the theoretical elaboration and substantiation of the doctrine was even worse off, since it had to rely on a disjointed collection of writings whose statements all claimed absolute validity and yet pushed their contradiction to the point of serious mutual exclusion. Even the most important organisers, an Augustine, *) Calvin, were therefore already forced to deal with these contradictions and to kill them in the same way as the moderns did, such as a Lücke, a Neander and de Wette, who were determined to drag the end of the tragedy down into the record with their personal anguish.

*) With the exception of Luther, whose plastic and solid nature kept him the furthest away from these theological miseries, which in the end had to bring about the downfall of the whole system.

53

The inherent power of development which the Christian world of thought contained up to the time of the Neformation did not allow those men of the organisational period to fall so low that they dared to trust the biblical testimonies only after the agonising struggle with those contradictions. But when the power of organisation was exhausted, when the system was complete, when new dogmas were no longer possible, and when doubt and clarification had shaken the world of thought and made it so untenable that the Protestant principle, according to which the Holy Scriptures are the judicial authority, the norm and guide for all teaching, was no longer valid, The theological struggle with the contradictions of the Gospels became serious, ghastly, convulsive and feverish.

54

And yet only one step beyond this consequence of the pro testant formal principle and the struggle was over, but this one step brought us into a new world in which the Gospels no longer serve personal need, but find themselves subject to personal power and yet at the same time belong to themselves for the first time.

As limited as the Protestant idea was that a form of life which, after the decay of its classical elaboration, already had to struggle with mortal doubt, could really be rejuvenated by the restoration of its historical beginning – as much as this return to the original Christianity was closed as an illusion by the Lutheran and Anglican creation of the state church, and in general by the Protestant submission of the church to the secular dictatorship, a substantial impulse was nevertheless expressed in it, the impulse of historical research.

As ugly and embarrassing as the fear was with which the theologians rummaged through the Gospels in order to find the real historical figure of their Saviour, the suspicion that the historical origin of their faith was different from the idea they had of its origin was nevertheless at work in them.

55

No matter how violent and futile the theological struggle with the contradictions of the Gospels may be, the assiduity with which the theologians sought out these impulses and strove to eliminate them was nevertheless an expression of the modern striving for “exact knowledge” – research, criticism, exact knowledge were still held only by monotheistic fear and lualism, as they were in alchemy and astrology, before they were superseded by chemistry and astronomy, in the service of an alien interest, greed or curiosity about one’s own future.

In short, confusion was the immediate precursor of the order and freedom that research brought to the world whose explanation it was, and this its historical significance is eS what will justify the remembrance we devote to it in the following lines.

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The theologian and the fourth can still be called fortunate at the same time when the business of interpretation is so simple that a tautology suffices to bring it to an end – the former cannot go astray, for he need only render the text with a few more “general words”; the evangelist can be sure that his property is preserved unabridged and that his labour has not been in vain.

It is absolutely correct, for example, when de Wette remarks about the relationship between the questions of the priestly messengers and the answers of the Baptist (Jn. 1:19-27), that ״John does not always let the questions and answers correspond directly.

56

It is very correct when the same commentator comments on the situation where the Baptist sees Jesus coming towards him and the latter’s coming is kept at a wonderful distance and remains standing so that the latter can point at him with his fingers and recite his testimony (C. 1, 29 – 34) – when de Wette remarks on this inconsequential coming, ״the attention of the evangelist is directed solely to the testimony of the Baptist.

Tholuck demonstrates his mastery of the art of interpretation when he calls the ״nobody’ in the Baptist’s lament (C. 3, 32), that no one accepts the testimony of the one who has escaped from heaven, a hyperbole.

It is a true tautology when Bengel explains the pompous turn of phrase with which Jesus refers the disciples, who asked him about his dwelling, to the mystery of it (״come and see’ C. 1, 29), to the effect that this dwelling bore witness to its messianic owner, that it was worthy of him, yes, of him alone.

It is true what Hemsen remarks, that the word ״woman’ in the abrupt answer with which Jesus at the wedding feast at Cana rejects the admonishing finger pointing of his mother to the lack of wine that had occurred. the very ordinary meaning of a form of address”.

The inner incongruity of the self-tearing lament of John’s disciples (E. 3, 26): ״He of whom thou hast begotten baptiseth,’ Tholuck renders with at least a fairly correct tautology, when, according to him, the disciples of the Baptist say: -He who had to be baptised by thee, and had a testimony״ issued, takes the liberty of baptising himself.”

Enough of these tautologies, which, as it were, form the clear spaces in the wild and confused undergrowth of theological interpretation or the resting places where the exegetes recover from their strenuous struggle with the difficulties and contradictions.

57

And yet they can find no real peace and rest – the happiness of their tautologies is deceptive – they have well felt the difficulties that the Gospel text contains – with their tautologies they hoped to escape them – but in vain – the difficulties follow them on their heels.

Is the present difficulty not precisely that in that negotiation between the priests and the Anabaptist the questions and answers do not correspond? Is it explained if it is simply repeated, if the contradiction of the text is transformed into a general formula? Is the disproportion between means and ends not rather due to the nature of the end pursued by the Fourth, to its pragmatism, to its position in relation to the preceding evangelical historiography?

Is the hyperbole of the ״Nobody’ in that lamentation of the Täu Is the hyperbole of the ״Nobody’ in that lament of the deceiver not precisely the inadequacy that first demands its explanation? Or is the groundless jnconvenience eliminated when it is reduced to a grammatical formula? Does the meaningless hyperbole become a meaningful turn of phrase when it is only described as hyperbole – does its contradiction with the other presuppositions of the text cease when the theologian closes his eyes to it?

Is not the pomp with which Jesus presents his dwelling as the worthy tabernacle of the Most Reverend precisely the floating and unsubstantial exaggeration that is to be explained above all?

If the address ״Woman!’ is indeed an address, does it therefore cease to be harsh and abrupt towards the mother, and is it not first necessary to explain how the Lord comes to this extreme degree of alienation, which is certainly not motivated in the account of the Fourth and only finds its explanation in a completely different circle, in the synoptic account of events?

58

In the misfortune of the theologians, therefore, that of the Fourth is also preserved – in that the theologians hope to eliminate or cover up its contradictions and dissonances with their tautologies, they do it an injustice and overturn its text. They misjudge its pragmatism if they want to take away its glaring and at the same time groundless contradictions.

The fourth, however, asserts its tearing dissonances – it scoffs at the means with which the exegetes want to come to its aid.

The congruence of the complaint of the disciples of John: ״He of whom thou hast begotten baptiseth,’ is not raised by Tholuck’s tautological paraphrase, but only becomes more confused, only shifted; — when the Baptist says C. 1, 34: ״I begat,’ that means: Jesus – when the Lord says (C. 5, 33) John begat the truth,” that means: the truth had to have a favourable testimony issued to it by״ John? In whose favour you have testified,” with these words de Wette renders the complaint of John’s disciples somewhat less glaringly than Tholuck – but was not rather the testimony of the Baptist of the kind that he placed the one testified to by it infinitely above himself? Does not the dissonance therefore remain – must not the dissonance remain – that the disciples of John complain about the presumption of him whom their Master himself had described to them as the very greatest?

59

De Wette’s tautology about the inconsequentiality of Jesus’ coming, which gives the Baptist cause for his testimony that the evangelist’s attention is “solely” directed to the latter, is not yet pure and uninteresting enough; it does not merely reproduce the facts at hand, but at the same time follows its own theological purposes – it would like to persuade itself, it would like to persuade the people, that the fourth man knew quite well what happened afterwards between Jesus and the Baptist – but his attention is rather so exclusively directed to the testimony of the Baptist that he immediately forgets the marvellous scenery, which served only to bring about this testimony, when the latter has taken place – the scenery has vanished when the Baptist has spoken.

It has served its purpose.

If the tautology is really carried out purely and without any theological If the tautology is really pure and carried out without theological secondary intentions, then it is’ no longer tautology – then it is real explanation and understanding. Let the pragmatism of the fourth be recognised for what it is and it is explained – let justice be done to the fourth, let it be given what it deserves – let it have what is its own and it is seen through.

It is also still tautology, but a most impure, a slippery one, when Lücke remarks on the Baptist’s testimony to the Lamb of God that the disciples only understood his ״messianic relationship’.

So a saying whose ״messianic relationship’ is its only content contained more? contained other relationships? other meanings?

Theology does not want to say this, does not dare to assert it – but the whole scene, that the Baptist shows his disciples the Lamb of God in the Lord and the disciples are moved to follow Jesus, has the synoptic presupposition that the Lord only at the end of his ministry is the Lamb of God, that the Lord spoke of the necessity of his suffering and death only at the end of his Galilean activity, and that the disciples could not find themselves in these prayers, has a dangerous neighbour, which insists so firmly on the opposite that it does not tolerate the opposite presupposition of the fourth next to it.

60

Only the peaceableness of the theologian cannot grasp the thought that the two presuppositions are absolutely mutually exclusive – only the theologian can trust his eloquence to be capable of reconciling the two mortal enemies with one another; – and what turn of his rhetoric inspires him with such tremendous confidence?

Again, the tautology! He repeats the contradiction in a limp phrase and believes that he has thus eliminated it, appeased it. That the disciples of the Baptist, the later disciples of the Lord, at first only understood the messianic relationship in that ״saying’ – with this sentence Lücke finds the fourth; with the addition: ״the inner understanding remained hidden from them,’ he reassures the Synoptics; – For the sake of the fourth, the disciples must hear the “messianic relationship” out of the saying – for the sake of the Synoptics, they do not really understand the saying itself, although the “messianic relationship” is its only content, and the disciples could not understand anything about the messianic relationship of the image of the “Lamb of God” if they did not know to which part of the messianic business it referred.

The theologian wants to do justice to both the Synoptics and the Fourth, and he is wrong against both parties – he impairs both.

As far as the testimony of the Baptist himself is concerned, the apologist must of course weaken it for the sake of Luke, in whose Gospel the Baptist doubts when Jesus had long since proved himself through his miracles, e.g. Lücke must assert that the Baptist had ״not understood the full context of the Christian idea’, i.e. he must not acknowledge it. That is, he must not acknowledge that the image which the Anabaptist of the Fourth sets up as the highest and summarising expression for the destiny of the Messiah is the totality of the Christian idea summed up into a reflected unity.

61

In the same way, the theologian cannot acknowledge the real historical basis of the definiteness with which this image, this religious category appears, for he would then have to admit that this basis was given to the Fourth in the already existing faith of the congregation in the redemptive death of the Lord. He must not admit that the Baptist of the Fourth proceeds from the assumption that the image of the Lamb of God is fixed as dogma for the listeners – (the readers) – and Lücke, like Bengel, must help himself with the excuse that the Baptist had grasped the image of the Lamb in a ״prophetic’ spirit or as a result of divine inspiration.

Just as Bengel did not feel reassured in his assumption of a sudden divine inspiration and hoped to find a natural cause for the image in the influence of the festive atmosphere, in the proximity of the Passover *), so too Lücke does not dare to attribute the creation of the image to the prophetic spirit alone and he also looks around for a given point of contact. Only he is no longer capable of the naiveté with which the older commentators used the dangerous beistan of the Feast of the Passover – he knows the danger – he fears the unbelief that traces the image of the Lamb of God back to the Passover Lamb and would only have considered its creation possible in that time in which the Redeemer was worshipped as the true Passover Lamb, and now hopes for salvation in the image of the Tolerator, which the second part of Zesaias (C. 53) sketches out. 53), he hopes to find salvation from unbelief and an occasion for the image of the deceiver.

*) Similar to Lampe, who makes the Baptist fall for this image through the circumstance that a herd of sheep lambs was being driven over the Jordan for the upcoming feast.

62

Unfortunate deception! In order that ״the Lamb of God’ might become the lamb of that prophetic passage which appears only as the image of meekness and patience, he must now assert that in the Gospel saying ״the addition: which bears the sin of the world, does not refer both to the figurative concept of the lamb and to the mesfian subject depicted in it’ – in vain! Rather, through the image of the lamb, the subject of the Messiah is to be united with the bearing of sin, i.e. the bearing of sin belongs to the essence of the lamb – the lamb is the Passover lamb and it could only become the symbol of the Messiah at that time, when he had wrought redemption from sin in the faith of the world through his death.

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The theologians, e.g. Lücke, hope to eliminate the contradiction that the first disciples in the synoptic account were called in Galilee, and after the fourth in Judea, by claiming that in the Gospel of the latter Jesus’ word to Philip (C. 1, 43): ״Follow me’ could only be understood by the outer company.

63

So again a double injustice! In order to unite the two accounts, the thorough researchers have to unnerve them both – they take away from the synoptic account the presupposition that Jesus immediately won over the disciples whom he met for the first time in Galilee by the magic power of his word – from the fourth, which only owes this magic word to the synoptic account: ״Follow me’, they impose the presupposition that the same invitation, which in Galilee emanates from Jesus so powerfully that it draws the disciples into the spiritual realm of his personality, in Judea only aims at their external bondage to his person.

The fourth reports that Jesus also baptised – albeit through his disciples.

While a right feeling prevented the evangelist from carrying out this glaring idea in detail and asserting it for more than a moment, the theologian must take it more seriously and raise the awkward question, ״Why do we not hear more about the baptism of Christ in the Gospels?’ He will certainly know how to give a reason, but since he insists on the presupposition that Jesus baptized, but the difficulty that besets this presupposition is insurmountable, the reason he sets up will at the same time infallibly betray the inner impossibility of the Johannine construction.

“The definite faith in Jesus the Christ, as it was included in baptism, answers Lücke, came forth much less frequently during the lifetime of Jesus.”

Indeed! The original designer of evangelical history, however, is not content with this ״much seltner’ and demands a never – a decisive never, which excludes the precondition of the fourth par excellence. He knew that his Lord first had to open up the infinity of his self-consciousness to the Wett and that before he had accomplished this spiritual, ideal work, he could not think of imbedding his activity in a positive statute like baptism – he knew that a positive statute could only serve as a means of grace when the new Wett was really founded and only required the invitation to enter it – he knew, He knew that the Lord could only institute the gracious statute at the moment when he had completed his work and empowered the disciples as its administrators – he knew, finally, that as long as Jesus was still fighting the battle of the kingdom of heaven with the law, faith could only be an emerging one, bursting forth in instantaneous enthusiasm, but not the positive and determined one that baptism presupposes.

64

Of course, the theologians could not see the origin of the untenable nature of the two passages in which Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman face the Lord; – that the inclination of Nicodemus and his infinite dullness only stem from the fact that the Fourth could not better reproduce the synoptic narrative of the rich man, and that the synoptic sculpture had to succumb to his love of untenable contrasts – that the Samaritan woman, that the Samaritan woman, the copy of the synoptic Canaanite woman, only proves herself unworthy of the Lord’s participation with every word, because the Fourth has formed her according to the same pattern according to which Nicodemns is created, the theologians must not admit even now, after I have proved it.

Nevertheless, they must explain how it is that the Lord surprises people with the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven who do not know how to use the simplest figurative expression.

65

But how? How are they to help themselves if they do not seek the explanation where it alone can be found – if they are not allowed to think of the original – of the real desire of the rich man for the bliss of the Kingdom of Heaven, of the heroic conquering power of the Canaanite woman?

False, therefore also impotent means of violence must help.

Nicodemus is the chosen protégé of the apologists, the Samaritan woman their favourite: – For the love of both, the theologian does everything, dares everything.

Even when the ״Master of Zsrael’ raises the first senseless objection as to how a man, who is also an old man, can return to the womb of his mother and be born again, Lücke wants to ״equitably divide the understanding and the lack of understanding of Nicodemus’, i.e. he wants to surpass the evangelist in equitableness, who presents the Pharisee purely as lacking understanding. Afterwards, Lücke tries this form of division by letting Nicodemus understand the ״words’ but not ״the inner meaning’, without making it comprehensible how anyone can understand words whose meaning he does not grasp.

Under Tholuck’s discipline, the old Pharisee becomes even more leacious – only the apologist still finds fault with the strength of his will. At the same moment that the Lord, astonished at the Pharisee’s weakness of understanding, exclaims: -You, the Master of Israel, do not understand this? Tholuck secretly hisses to us that the matter is quite different: -Nicodemus understands more and more clearly what the Lord means״ but he does not feel the strength in himself to make the required change. He also knows Nicodemus better than Nicodemus knows himself – while Nicodemus doubts theoretically or rather does not know what to think of Jesus’ statement, Tholuck explains to us that the Pharisee only felt no inclination to let himself be transformed in the way the Lord demanded.

66

Afterwards, when Jesus assaults the man who did not understand the first laws of the kingdom of heaven with the highest heavenly mysteries, and when the apologists, despite their initial denial, are brought to admit the Pharisee’s incapacity, de Wette explains the new turn, de Wette explains the new turn from the Lord’s intention, according to which he wanted to ״make an impression by higher revelations’ – and yet de Wette himself says that the Lord had ״abandoned the attempt to make Nicode- mus understand beforehand. “

Lücke even wants to establish a kind of law for this new turn of events: it is also otherwise the procedure of Jesus, ״that he, although he knows that he will not be understood, nevertheless also expresses the more difficult in order to spur the spirits on’ – only then he would really have had to have a spirit before him, which is not the case according to the presupposition of the fourth – then he would have had to be certain, then he would have had to be sure that something definite would stick in the soul of the listeners – then, in order to really seize the soul, he would not have been allowed to get confused into an unclear typology, he would have had to present the matter in its striking simplicity. – – – – – – –

But I break off. That is enough. The purpose which this reminder of the theological attempts at explanation alone could serve has been achieved.

I must break off, for the examples given have amply demonstrated the utter worthlessness of the supposed treasure which the theologians have heaped up with their interpretations – they prove that the whole world to which they belong can no longer be fought, but only forgotten.

67

If a more detailed recollection of the work which has been 67 If a more detailed recollection of the work involved in founding and establishing this chimerical world can still find an excuse and have an interest, then cS only that of the finisher of this work – Strauss.

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BRUNO BAUER: Theological Explanation of the Gospels – Foreword

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Theological Explanation of the Gospels

Die theologische Erklärung der Evangelien

by

Bruno Bauer

1852

 

Foreword

 

When I appeared with my critique of evangelical history twelve years ago, two years prior, a fortunate and thorough effort had initiated a turning point in research, placing the question that Christian theology had struggled with in an unattainable manner into a position where it had become possible to give it its final form.

Those two achievements, one bearing the mark of deserved fortune and the other the combined work of fortune and scholarly thoroughness, were my historical starting point.

I could directly build upon them since they were the first instances in which the inherent spirit of the subject matter they dealt with had come to life and found expression.*) I had to build upon them because there could be no further limitations apart from the ones still inherent in them, and their removal was necessary for the enrichment of research.

*) Of course, I would have to call Luther’s views an outstanding exception if it were only a matter of the religious, even artistically formed testimony of the Spirit and if the Reformer’s preference for the Scriptures of the Fourth as the ״only, tender, right main Gospel’ did not prove the illusory and unreliable nature of this religious testimony of the Spirit.

2

The one who first uttered the scientific word on the internal contradiction of evangelical historiography, specifically regarding the contrast between the Johannine and synoptic Jesus, laying the foundation for the correct interpretation of the birth and childhood narratives of Jesus, and who truly brought certain points, cardinal points of evangelical history, to a decision for the first time, is Weisse.

The one who, for the first time, conducted an exact examination of the relationship between the first three Gospels and carried it out so thoroughly, bringing it so close to a solution that it will forever serve as the basis for later research, even if it may deviate in many and essential points from its results, is Wilke.

Regarding Weisse, he opposed the tradition hypothesis, according to which the Gospel authors received their material from the tradition of the community, and which had received its most consistent development from Strauss, with a few fortunate elaborations. Furthermore, he was fortunate enough to make the discovery that the Gospel of Mark is the Gospel that the authors of the first and third Gospels had used.

Thus, it had become certain, or at least accordingly probable—since Weisse had not yet fully validated his discovery in detail—that the historical material of the first and third Gospels was not taken from the tradition of the community but originated as a literary adaptation of the information provided by the Gospel of Mark. However, Weisse still had two questions to answer. He had to deal with the tradition hypothesis when it came to explaining the origin of the Gospel of Mark and also when it concerned the source from which the speeches and sayings of Jesus contained in the first and third Gospels had flowed.

3

Weisse found the answer to both questions in the well-known notes preserved for us by Eusebius from the writing of Papias. Mark composed his Gospel from the occasional narratives of the Apostle Peter, whose companion he had been. As for the sayings and speeches of Jesus, which the first and third evangelists enriched their writings with, they were taken from the collection of sayings compiled by the Apostle Matthew.

Among other difficulties, there was one in particular that posed a danger to Weisse’s viewpoint. The tradition hypothesis sees the miracles reported in the Gospels as one of the strongest pieces of evidence that it could not have been an apostle, an eyewitness of Jesus’ historical activities, from whom the evangelists received the content of their writings. Weisse eliminates this danger by explaining the most striking miracle accounts as parabolic or allegorical representations that Jesus himself created. He often notes that we still possess the literal presentation of Jesus in these accounts.

Both ways of determining the origin of the Gospels and the source of their content are connected to the entire worldview of their authors.

In the lifelessness of Strauss’s work, Hegelian metaphysics demonstrated its incapacity to grasp the essence of a historical phenomenon. Despite the individual fortunate successes he achieved over Strauss, Weisse failed because his positive philosophy, which he had developed in contrast to Hegel’s, could only offer glimpses of light but could not penetrate and illuminate the entire material.

4

In the misfortune of both, the bankruptcy of metaphysics was revealed.

—————–

Strauss.

It must be fully acknowledged by the disciples of Hegel that the philosophy of their master is the most perfect, the ultimate, the absolute. The world of the individual and the real cannot be more thoroughly and comprehensively subjected to an ideal, that is, a chimerical universality, than Hegel has done—the Orientalism that allows reality to dissolve before divine glory, yes, the fetishism that sees the divine and always the same divine in every single thing, cannot be restored more completely and forcefully.

As a devout student of his master, Strauss recognizes in history only one power, one reality, one active force—the Idea, the reproduction of Oriental substance.

What is the tradition from which the Gospel writers derived the content of their writings? What is the legend in which a large part of evangelical history took shape and which traveled elementally across the world sphere, if not the substance in one of its historical manifestations, where it was the power of the Christian community?

5

Why is Strauss’s explanation of the origin of evangelical history, specifically evangelical history in the double sense of the substance of our current Gospels and the fixed form it has acquired in the Gospels, mysterious?

Why? Because at every moment when it attempts to bring forth the process by which evangelical history—the evangelical history in that perplexing double sense—owes its origin, it can only produce the appearance of a process. It is mysterious because it is tautological.

And why tautological? Why meaningless?

Because it cannot step out of the indeterminacy of the relation of substance. The statement that evangelical history has its source and origin in tradition repeats the same thing twice: “tradition” and “evangelical history.” It certainly wants to relate them to each other, but it cannot do so because the substance, being incapable of an internal process, is not creative. The substance “is” its attributes and modes, and the Idea repeats itself in its productions, which are only apparent productions, containing only what it already encompasses—the tradition “is” evangelical history from the outset.

This is also just a specific expression of his orthodox-Hegelian disposition when, for Strauss, the difference between Judaism and paganism on one hand and Christianity on the other almost disappears. He considers the alleged Jewish messianic dogma to be the original of the Christian legend that was fashioned after it. He regards the pagan myths and the Christian ones as equivalent and dismisses as superfluous speculation any research that seeks to uncover the difference. He is right because the idea is everything and remains the same.

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6

The indifference towards historical differences that Hegel, in overcoming it at the expense of the coherence of his system, denied in his grand historical perspectives and elaborations, established the popularity of his disciples, who guarded themselves with true religious piety, so as not to disturb the eternal self-equality of the idea even through a significant view of a period of history. This particularly accounted for the extraordinary popularity of Strauss’s work.

This lack of personal[national?] pride, expressed in the parallelization and equating of Christian views, our ultimate educators, with pagan and Jewish notions, makes Strauss a continuation of the Enlightenment of the previous century and at the same time a philosophical precursor of the later friendship of reason. When, with Bertholdt’s help, he explains the “Christian legend” as a mere reflection of the supposed Jewish messianic dogma, he proceeds as thoroughly as, for example, Voltaire, who believed he had grasped Judaism by deriving it from paganism with the assistance of Spencer and Selby, actually only relying on Bolingbroke, thus with equally powerless assistance.

Even Strauss’s philosophical concluding statement: “If we know the becoming human, dying, and resurrection as the eternal cycle, the endlessly repeating pulse of divine life, what significance can there still be attached to an individual fact that merely sensually represents this process?” The idea in the fact, the genus in the individual—our time in Christology wants to be guided by this.*) Despite its metaphysical formulas, it is so popular and its truth so universally attested that one could almost say the “consensus of nations” stands in favor of it against any doubt and against the assault of research. The fetish worshipper stands and approves of it because they also elevate themselves above the “merely sensual” appearance of nature to the universal world soul that lives and weaves within it. The Jewish enlightenment of Preacher Solomon, with its antipathy towards the presumption of history that imagines itself creating something new, and with its hatred towards individuals who are so proud as to believe they possess the power of a new world within themselves, had long ago come to the realization that everything merely repeats the eternal cycle of emergence, death, and rebirth. As the Christian worldview approached its demise, it was discovered (through enlightenment) that its history was nothing but a series of sensual, crude facts, where it matters little whether one designates the life represented in this sensuality as divine or as the eternal cycle of “trickery and deception,” as in either case the real, inherent life of history remains unknown. However, that statement has found its true era in the present, and its true community in the general friendship of reason of our time, which deals with the fact by allowing it to rest and rely upon itself, content with a thought about it. It understands how to subject the historical figurehead and the self-power of personality to the omnipotence and dead uniformity of the genus.

*) The Life of Jesus, II. 770. Third edition.

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8

Just as enlightenment and the friendship of reason were unable to recognize Christianity and thus relegate it to the past, the same goes for Strauss. But he does not want to do so; he is a philosopher and, as such, seeks to rediscover in Christianity only the “cycle” or the “pulse” or whatever the fetishist may call these manifestations of life in the Idea. Therefore, no matter how much he may differ from the orthodox theologian in his doubt regarding the historical reality of the fact in which the Idea is supposed to be manifested, he stands on the same ground, shares the same presuppositions, and lives in the same categories. The immediacy, so to speak, the swiftness with which the idea is translated into its factual representation is the same enchantment that the orthodox theologian venerates in the wondrous manifestations of his Lord or in the inspiration of the Spirit.

The tradition hypothesis is essentially only the transformation of the earlier orthodox view of the origin of the Gospels into an abstract formula—it is its abstract but more complete reflection. Both views, no matter how opposed they may be, are still just the same view in this opposition. The tradition hypothesis aimed to replace the divine inspiration, under whose influence the church places the Evangelists, with a historical power. However, this power itself remains a mysterious concept. For the question of how evangelical history and its portrayal in the Gospels came into being, it is irrelevant whether one answers that the Evangelists wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit or that tradition provided them with the entire material that had already been shaped and dictated by it. Both are equally transcendent, both reduce the authors of the Gospels to selfless masks, and the only, yet significant and meaningful merit of the tradition hypothesis lies in relieving the critique from immediate engagement with the heavenly chimera and assigning it the sole task of unraveling the historical.

9

Against Hengstenberg, the critic no longer needs to demonstrate the difference between the Old and New Testaments and defend the novelty of the Christian creation. Rather, the critic has done enough, has accomplished everything, by exposing the metaphysical emptiness that is seen to operate in Judaism and Christianity as the same idea.

Against Hengstenberg, the critic no longer needs to elaborate on the shallowness of the historical view that considers the personality of Jesus merely as a tautology, that is, only as the real, sensual manifestation of what the divine promise had foretold to the pious of the Old Testament. Instead, the critic has dissolved the immediate opposition by exposing the metaphysical fantasizing according to which the miraculous content of evangelical history is modeled after the pattern of Jewish messianic dogma. Furthermore, the critic has dispelled the Church’s presupposition by eliminating its metaphysical counterpart and its supposed transformation into a rational historical view through the demonstration of the novelty of the Christian revolution.

—————–

10

Strauss’s metaphysical assumption of the Absolute renders any critical relationship to Christianity impossible for him. The naivety of his assumption that “the content of the highest religion, Christianity, is identical to the highest philosophical truth” prevents him from realizing that this unity of religion and philosophy stems only from the fact that the latter is the artificial restoration of the former from its fallen state, from which it could no longer extricate itself on its own power since the idea of natural law was established.

What is Spinoza’s Substance but the transformation of the natural law discovered by seventeenth-century natural science into a religious, indeed an Oriental God? What else is it but the conversion of positive fact into a universal essence?

What is the systematic unity of the entire universe that modern philosophy sought to create? What is the unity and singularity of the idea, whose establishment and realization were achieved only by the most recent, the completed, the Hegelian philosophy? It is nothing but the final justification of religious monotheism. It is nothing but the reproduction of the ignorant notion that believes it can attain and possess the unity and coherence of the world by deducing everything real from a single being.

What is Hegelian mysticism — this seemingly profound yet only vague and barren statement that religion is God’s self-consciousness in humanity? It is nothing but the forceful assertion of the religious proposition of human sinfulness, which pursues humans even in their theoretical conduct and renders knowledge impossible. What is it other than the religious formula for the unity that humans achieve with themselves in thought?

11

Strauss’s question, whether the content can exist as absolute in the form of religion, is still too limited. The philosophical conception of the Absolute itself remains religious, and philosophy is not destined for decline because it reduces and confines the Absolute within a finite formula. Rather, it is through the formula of the Absolute that the perception and understanding of reality become impossible.

Equally limited is Strauss’s view when he regards the modern collision as merely a Christological dilemma, juxtaposing the church’s Christology of the community with the “speculative” Christology of the spiritual realm, in which the insight has emerged that, instead of an individual, a Idea, the idea of humanity, should be posited as the subject of the predicates attributed to Christ by the church. For research, both Christologies hold equal value, both lie on the same line of historical development, and the “speculative” Christology is merely a modification of the ecclesiastical one. Therefore, it cannot even be said that research is in conflict with that historical development and its current widespread influence. Instead, research begins a new epoch precisely by explaining this development and reducing it to the past. It is free from the old oppositions, and it remains indifferent to the casuistry with which the speculatively educated cleric navigates and arranges his personal “dilemma,” or to the measures by which the church establishment secures itself against him if it fails to subject him once again to ecclesiastical determination.

—————–

12

The only difference between Strauss and Hegel is that while the latter, in the strict unison of his dialectic, allows the Idea to pass through its manifestations and, when he speaks of a difference within it, does not pursue it seriously. In fact, since it is still the same Idea that manifests itself within him, he treats it with equal indifference both in practice and in theory. He would dismiss the question of the practical validity of subordinate manifestations as frivolous curiosity and as a disturbance of theoretical tranquility. On the other hand, Strauss does ask this question and seeks to solve it using the means provided by Hegelian dialectic.

But what arouses in him this “frivolous curiosity,” for example, about the value of individual facts alongside the Idea that manifests itself within them, or about the significance of ecclesiastical Christology alongside the speculative one? Certainly not the Hegelian system, which is in no way a system where the Idea carelessly and self-sufficiently rolls through its determinations and is content with itself in all aspects, as it always only deals with its determinations.

Rather, it is the development of modern theology, which began with the pietistic opposition between the soul and individual positive propositions, continued through the rationalistic distinction between the temporal and local determinations of early Christianity valid only for the primordial era and Palestine, and its eternal truths, and finally, in the apologetic anxiety about the authenticity of individual books of the New Testament and the credibility of specific Gospel accounts, has become hopelessly confused. It is only this development that drove him, in contrast to the original dullness of the system, to those questions whose formulation and unsuccessful answers initiated the crisis that later engulfed both theology and philosophy.

13

He himself, however, remained both theologian and philosopher.

While philosophy made it impossible for him to comprehend historical differences— (I must constantly recall the mechanism of his derivation of evangelical myths from Jewish messianic dogma)—he was unable to untangle the confusion in which theology had ultimately become entangled, and he allowed himself to be driven from one exegetical question to another by the same chance under which the apologists worked.

His apologetic position regarding the evangelical material brought him the benefit in the first edition of his work that alongside the so-called myths, there remained a true treasure of historical facts in the Gospels. In subsequent editions, this treasure enriched him even more, eventually granting him almost complete possession of the facts that Neander and de Wette had acquired for him. However, given the weakness of his method, it was initially indifferent and accidental how far he shifted the boundary between the mythical and the historical backward or forward.

The perception of substance, as it emerged from the perception of natural law, is critical of the unnatural, as Spinoza proves. But since it itself is once again the unnatural hypostasis of natural law, it must, as Spinoza again proves, ultimately succumb to the most unnatural ideas, deny its critical direction, and it becomes entirely irrelevant how far it follows its critical impulse and where the driving force of that impulse eventually perishes. It is inherently only an impulse, thus unclear, insufficient, crossed by other impulses, and must eventually succumb to their counteraction.

14

Thus, Strauss also cannot truly detach the elevation to the Idea from the individual factum—his contemplation of the “endlessly repeating pulse of divine life” cannot render the individual factum completely indifferent. It is impossible—the boredom of that endlessly repeating cycle is too great; continually watching the pure course of divine life is too tiring. Moreover, that cycle of divine life, this “becoming human, dying, and resurrection,” is only a vague, groundless image taken from sacred history—it is a reflection of a religious concept.

Therefore, Strauss must also backtrack, he must return to the religious original!

However, he immediately continues, after leading “our time” to the Idea,*) if indeed scientific Christology has to move beyond Jesus as a person, it will still have to return to him in one aspect.

*) II, 770

Why? He does indeed provide a reason, even claiming to present a historical law as the basis for this return. At the forefront of all actions, including those of world-historical significance, he notes that individuals stand. Particularly in the realm of religion, within the monotheistic domain, all new epochs and distinct formations are invariably linked to prominent personalities—only Christianity should be an exception to this typology? Should the most significant spiritual creation be without a identifiable origin, merely the result of the clash of scattered forces and causes?”

15

But where does history show a great intellectual creation that would have been accomplished by only one individual? Where in history has there been a groundbreaking content that did not take shape within a circle of conflicting personalities and factions? When has a new form of life emerged in history, standing complete and absolute from the beginning of its era, so that the successors of the creator only needed to receive, perhaps develop, but no longer create themselves?

Nowhere! Never!

Strauss appeals to the natural disposition of the monotheistic domain. However, since Islam, given its inferiority, cannot be parallelized with the Judaism of the Old Testament and with Christianity, and since it cannot be considered a genuine creation, it is permissible to set it aside in this matter until historical criticism sheds light on the historical presuppositions of Muhammad. Thus, the only analogy remaining for Christianity would be the Judaism of the Old Testament. But does Strauss truly provide us with the “prominent personality” to whom the “distinct formation” of Judaism is “linked”? Did someone truly create Judaism? Is Judaism “merely the result of the clash of scattered forces and causes” if no exclusive originator can be identified at its helm? Is it the accidental result of random friction if it cannot be attributed solely to one creator, following the monotheistic, i.e., mechanical and lifeless approach? Are the authors of individual psalms, the second part of Isaiah, or the Book of Daniel not creators? Do they cease to be creators simply because no one can provide their names?

16

In short, what leads Strauss from the idea to the personality of Jesus is not a genuine historical law, but rather the weakness of this idea and its penetrating entanglement with the belief-based assumption that one – in the monotheistic sense – must have done everything.

In his philosophical turns, Strauss has remained a theologian, not in spite of their philosophical character, but because of it. His Hegelian orthodoxy has so strengthened the theologian within him, has made him such a complete theologian, that in the following account, I mainly need to describe his perplexity and the confusion of his assumptions in order to portray the aimlessness and confusion in which theology has ultimately found its historical conclusion and deserved end.

Therefore, when in 1838 the two men emerged who, like Weisse, spoke the first intelligent words about the looming question and, like Wilke, provided the first exact elaboration, in short, when the first statements and elaborations on the evangelical question were presented that were no longer theological, Strauss could only retreat into the same passivity and indolence to which theologians were condemned from that point on and forever.

Thus, despite Wilke’s investigation of the Gospel of Mark, in the year 1840, Strauss was still able to summarize his judgment on the origin of this gospel in the words that it was “demonstrably written based on the first and third [gospels], even if only from memory” – yet he punished himself for the sluggishness with which he clings to a thoroughly refuted hypothesis and for the certainty with which he speaks of “demonstrable” by presenting such a baseless possibility as contained in his addition: “even if only from memory.”

17

Weisse had brought forth several cardinal points for consideration – however, Strauss must deny him his acknowledgment and withhold matters that were brought close to complete certainty in the dreadfully tedious vagueness that characterizes his approach.

Weisse and Wilke had already largely refuted the tradition hypothesis regarding the form of the Gospels – yet Strauss continues to speak of tradition as if nothing has happened – but his indolent attitude towards Wilke’s work is rewarded by the scientific nullity that will continue to make his writings appear significant and valuable to theologians.

What have Weisse and Wilke achieved?

—————–

Weisse.

I mentioned earlier that it was a well-deserved fortune that Weisse discovered the original evangelical historical narrative in the Gospel of Mark and in several insightful and vivid observations, providing new vitality to the withered criticism found in Strauss’s work.

18

He earned his fortune in his struggle against the Hegelian system – but it is also inherent in the nature of this fight that he could not pursue his fortunate divinations in the breadth and depth of the domain with which he engaged in his “critical and philosophical treatment of evangelical *) history,” and eventually got lost in a multitude of chimerical assumptions and presuppositions.

*) 1838, in two volumes. 

He was right against Hegelian philosophy when he asserted the reality against its presupposition of the uniqueness of the idea, and experience and perception against its dialectic – but he could not pursue his right and carry it through all instances, as he opposed the system with a different one, opposing Hegel’s monotheism of the idea with his own, the philosophically modified monotheism of Christianity, and Hegelian speculation with his own, that of philosophy which he intended to overthrow.

If he failed to penetrate and gain recognition with the real substance of his opposition, some of his views on evangelical history will justify him against this perceived ill fortune of the time – yet, in any case, it was simply impossible for him to penetrate a system that represented the utmost perfection on the uncertain ground of a priori speculation with a new system or even with the mere demand for such a system. **)

**) He expresses this in Fichte’s Journal for Philosophy and Speculative Theology, Volume 1, Issue 1 (1837), pp. 163, 164, regarding the “demand for a higher standpoint in philosophy.” He considers both going beyond Hegel and attaining a higher standpoint of speculation as equally important and describes this higher standpoint as “the only conceivable one.”

19

“If one wants to escape nationalism in religious matters,” he notes in his “Evangelische Geschichte” against Strauss and Hegel*), “which hollows out every living and spirit-filled entity into empty conceptual universality, it is important to distinguish that kind of knowledge which is based on perception and can only be acquired through perception from that abstract and a priori conceptual knowledge that stands apart from the individual and concrete nature of perception and extends only over those general concepts that cannot be the object of perception as such” – the remedy is good, but only for the beginning – it liberates from a priori conceptual knowledge, but only by replacing it with an a priori derived image.

*) ll, 496.

Weisse’s perception is itself a priori, as it is based on religious demands that are predetermined – it is again abstract perception that overlooks the real – it is not genuine, research-driven and secure perception, but rather intuition and divination that can hit upon the void but also miss the mark – as aesthetic experience, it is hasty and premature, the anticipated perception, the success or failure of which depends on the greater or lesser scope of the subject’s education, its original natural disposition, yet ultimately it depends on chance as it does not stem from a complete mastery of the material.

20

Incidentally, Weisse himself recognises the deficiency and precarious position of his view when he describes *) the fact, ״that there is a God’, as ״the great primordial fact on which all other real philosophical truth is based or into which it dialectically goes back’.

*) E.g. in the cited issue of Fichte’s Zeitschrift, p. 176.

So then the rigid formalism ״of the Hegelian system’ **) would be broken if the One Formula, that there is a God, were to take its place? then would really “life be inflated above death” if that formula were erected above logical formalism? The unity and coherence of the universe would really only be assured when the One who governs the world ״according to one great purpose” is established? ״If philosophy wants to express that living unity, in which it recognises everything to be comprehended, briefly and emphatically in one word”, then it cannot do without ״the name of the Godhead”?

**) As Weisse also already did in his writing: Ueber das Verhältniß des Publicums zur Philosophie in dem Zeitpunkte von Hegels Abschei den (Leipzig 1832) p. 48.

Yes, philosophy cannot do without it – its ignorance, its abstraction from the real content of the world and history drives it into the arms of the hypothesis of a ״highest content” – its inability to grasp the real connection of the universe, its hasty acceptance of this connection before it is really experienced, forces it to the hypothesis of the One, who remains a formula, whether one calls him by the religious name or calls him Idea.

21

Yes, Hegel really completed the proofs of the existence of God and revealed their true meaning when he did not make the transition “from” the being of the finite, not from the thought of man to God, but passed from the non-being of the finite to the general being, from the non-thought of man to the infinite self-consciousness of God. The non-being of the finite, the non-thinking of man are the basis for the idea that offers the philosophers as well as the religious a substitute for their untruthfulness and for the end of their thoughts.

When research takes possession of reality and history, it no longer needs this substitute. When the world and history regain their own inner life, the formula that is supposed to guarantee them life and unity is no longer necessary.

Weisse called his philosophy positive, but it is – (a fine sentence in which the dispute between his religious and the ideal monotheism of his Hegelian opponents finds its solution) – not positive enough – not really positive. If it were indeed positive, then it would no longer be a metaphysical system, but criticism, research – then it would no longer be dialectical, but exact science.

Weisse’s profound look into the evangelical story of the birth of the Messiah, his spiritual explanation of the account of the temptation of Jesus, his successful remark on the presupposition of the Fourth Evangelist that Jesus had baptised, his accurate explanations of the contrast between the Synoptic and Johannine views – these are fully valid testimonies to the positive nature of his aesthetic view, positive enrichments of science, even if they still suffer considerable damage through the presuppositions with which they find themselves entangled or in which they get lost.

22

However, just as what he considers the most positive in his philosophy, his retreat to the great primal fact that underlies all real philosophical truth, is the unpositive and only an expression of the unpositive character of his philosophy as a whole, so within his treatment of the evangelical history, what he regards as the highest and most positive guarantee of historical reality is rather a testimony to the unpositive foundation of his work.

His philosophical Christology, that is, his image of Christ, whose wondrous visual expressions, insofar as they reveal both his agreement and disagreement, determine the historical reliability or inaccuracy of the evangelical accounts, is a hypothesis based on feeling that has nothing to do with research, but rather relies on arbitrary sympathy and antipathy, accepting some traits suitable to the orthodox view while rejecting others.

Weisse believes he has reached something positively given and final, something that one must unquestionably accept, when he encounters works by individuals in the Gospel of Mark and the collection of sayings in Matthew that vouch for the correctness of what is given. Peter told it to Mark, and Peter even recounted some things in Jesus’ own words, which Mark has faithfully recorded for us. Finally, Matthew has preserved for us a whole series of speeches and sayings of Jesus in his collection of sayings, and the first synoptist has faithfully transmitted them to us. Who could provide a more reliable personal guarantee?

23

Doesn’t criticism have to acknowledge the pillars of Hercules in these two positive aspects, which forever set a goal for it?

On the contrary, with these supposedly incontrovertible data it had to begin its work in earnest and prove its power by exposing the unpositive nature of these two magnitudes and by finding a new and more positive expression in the historical development of the Christian spirit, as well as in the creative power of men who have given the elemental spirit of the Christian faith. Christian spirit as well as in the creative power of the men who gave the elementary gain of this development its plastic, only historically significant form.

After I have given this critical account in my previous work, all that remains for me to do is the secondary work, the critique of the so-called testimonies of Papias on the origin of the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Matthew. Only in the following volume, however, in the context of my presentation of the historical development of Christian literature of the second century, will this criticism be in its proper place, will I show the chimerical nature of these supposedly positive data, the worthlessness of these so-called testimonies – here I will only briefly indicate what injustice Weisse himself must do to the Gospel of Mark when he calls up these testimonies in its favour.

How, for example, does it fit together that Mark has his material from Peter and yet ascribes such a short period of time to the activity of Jesus and actually limits it to only a few days of miracles?

“He has, answers *) Weisse, in endeavouring to compile the individual narratives of Peter into the solid whole of a history of the Lord’s life, by the manner of his transitions from one matter to another, produced an appearance of continuity of the incidents, thus also of changes in the setting of the incidents, which a skilful narrator, at least one who was at the same time a critical researcher, would undoubtedly have avoided.”

*) Evangelical History, l, 313. 314.

24

No! Such a one would have avoided such things who had known an eyewitness like Peter and had attended as his companion his supposed treaties about the life of the Lord!

Well! Peter only recited ״individual’ stories – but to his constant companion he never – never said a word about the whole, about the context of the whole, about the real spread of Jesus’ efficacy? The companion was so dull, so indifferent, while he collected all the details literally in his memory, so unconcerned about the overall course of his Lord’s life, that he never once asked the eyewitness about the scope and context of the whole?

And Mark only created “the appearance” of continuity of the events by the way he presented them?

Olshausen, Paulus, Neander, and all the other unhappy workers who have in vain endeavoured to break through the historical transitions of the Gospels with their screwed turns of phrase, and to transform the seriousness of the Gospels into a light appearance with their frivolous assertions – they are no longer alone, even the most zealous champion of positive philosophy joins them and approves the sisyphean work of their unsuccessful turns of phrase!

Weisse seriously assumes that Mark “has meagrely compiled an evangelical account out of the isolated, incoherent narratives of a single Apostle”. *) On the other hand, it is a positive, completely positive fact that the original Gospel, the difference between which and the present Gospel of Mark I do not need to reflect upon here, follows a very definite plan, has through and through a complete symmetry, that its sections close together artistically and that every link within the individual sections serves a strictly pre-drawn plan.

*) I, 31,32.

25

White’s assertion that Mark had “only composed his Gospel with the intention of not letting the content of the apostle’s narratives get lost” beats it back most brilliantly by pointing to its inner reason and purpose, to the power of the soul that reveals its life in his depiction of the collision between the new freedom and the Jewish privilege, in his vividly pulsating account of the struggle and victory of that freedom.

Yes, for the sake of that senseless testimony according to which Mark did not compile his Gospel in an orderly manner **) from Peter’s narratives, White is able to say ***) to Mark, ״that there is something to be said for the order in which he narrates the events, since he did not hear Peter narrate them in order, but, deprived of the assistance of his master, had to devise such an order himself, as best he could” – at least he endeavours with this paraphrase to render the sense, but nevertheless the tenable and probable sense, of that testimony of Papias.

**) ου ταξει

***) l, 43.

But in vain! his treatment of that testimony, which fits nothing less than the Gospel of Mark or the Primal Gospel, helps him nothing – it does not mean to say that the order of Mark’ composition is one of his own devising, but that this Gospel lacks order altogether.

26

Finally, is it really positive when Weisse assumes of several miracle reports that they are “self-invented parables” of Jesus, symbolic representations of the nature of the Son of Man, and that the apostle Matthew, whose writing contained nothing but speeches and sayings of the Lord, “told” them as parables, albeit in the tone of historical reports, “after” Jesus? *)

*) E.g. 1,527. II,53.

This prerequisite of a personal responsibility may be positive – this last point, which sets the limits of the investigation, may be positive in the sense that at such presuppositions and last points the stirring and disturbing research has not yet proven its negative nature.

Such presuppositions and final points may be given and welcome to an individual in the circle of his other presuppositions and hypotheses, which demand just such a settlement and such an arrangement with the real difficulties.

In the field of research, however, they are unpositive, invented, excuses, chimeras. For research, positive can only be that which, after the complete penetration of the found facts – after a penetration that measures the facts by their presuppositions, the presuppositions by the presuppositions, and if both prove contradictory, places the facts again in the circle of their really historical, their really explanatory presuppositions – which, after this process, results as a fact.

27

Furthermore, this hypothesis of Weisse’s, like the others that arise from the presumed positive nature of his direction, proves its unpositive character most convincingly by being useless and least able to accomplish what it is supposed to achieve.

For example, Weisse explains the account of Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman, as well as the other accounts concerning the centurion of Capernaum, as Jesus’ parabolic speeches. He does so because only under this assumption does the harshness in Jesus’ initial dismissive response to the woman’s request negate itself through the overall tendency of the narrative. And it is only in this way that one can avoid the “troubling circumstance” contained in the assumption underlying both accounts, namely that “the faith that prompts Jesus to exercise his miracle-working power is not the faith of the afflicted individual, but rather the faith of a third party.”

As if Jesus, whenever he made himself the historical subject of a parable in this manner, did not inevitably evoke in his disciples the conviction that he was capable of such harshness and that the exercise of his miracle-working power, whenever he chose, was independent of any natural point of reference!

—————–

Wilke.

That the current Gospel of Mark is not the original Gospel but a redaction of it, for which the present Gospels of Luke, Matthew, and John were used, I have now proven against Wilke, although originally it was not the main point of contention following the appearance of this researcher.

28

Wilke made the correct statement that a collection of sayings, such as the one mentioned by Papias as the composition of Matthew, *) did not exist on its own.**) However, when he argued that the Sermon on the Mount of the first Synoptist is “an expanded version of Luke’s,” I have now demonstrated that Matthew, in this instance as well as others, utilized his own sources, later redactions of the original Gospel, and also had Luke’s text in mind. But even that was not the main point that needed to be resolved according to Wilke.

*) I add, at least according to the opinions of Weitzel and others.

**) The original gospel, p. 691.

My earlier work was not affected when I coincided with Wilke in those mistaken hypotheses, just as Wilke’s proof of the originality he discovered in the Gospel of Mark was not affected when, after removing certain interpolations in the current Gospel of Mark, he believed he possessed the original Gospel. The forward-looking gaze and the ruthlessness that demands far-reaching discoveries seem to be possible only through that limitation of vision that overlooks details lying nearby or to the side. The discovery remains valid, even if later works succeed in reconciling it with the overall mass of details and, indeed, provide it with the highest degree of evidence.

29

The great question that was at issue after the appearance of Wilke’s work was independent of the overcoming of the still unnoticed detail, – it advanced further and could leave this overcoming to the future – it had as its object the final decision.

That the Gospel of Mark *) is of literary origin, Wilke has basically proved. Basically: – in so far as he has supplied the first essential materials of proof. After his thorough work, he may say that the work of Mark ״is not a copy of an oral original gospel, but an artificial composition. **) He may call this work a ״work of art” because of its composition and because it carries out a purpose set with consciousness with equally free consciousness ***). He can finally say (although this sentence already acquires an apologetic, cross-eyed character through the category of semblance), ״that his compilations are conditioned less by historical connection than by pre-conceived general propositions, notwithstanding they have assumed the semblance of a historical connection, this is explained by the fact that its author was not one of the immediate companions of Jesus’. †).

*) We want to leave the name of the Original Gospel for a moment.

**) op. cit. p. 684. 

***) S. 671.

†) S. 684.

It remains unclear, however, to what extent, in Wilke’s view, the material should be taken for granted in the certainty that the form is freely created. It also remains unclear that Weisse, when he announced Wilke’s writing in the Berlin Yearbooks, expressed the certainty that now the highest guarantee for the truly historical character of the Gospel accounts had been given.

30

And yet Weisse had hit Wilke’s meaning. Wilke says it himself *): ״The guarantors of the message, according to which the creators of the diegesis were guided, were not people who had first inquired of others or who had written out what they had found out in Galilee, but the apostles, and among them those who had been servants of the Word from the beginning, that is, from the time when the report, if it was to become a whole, had to take off”. In Wilke’s view, this original gospel was given in the writing of Mark and with it came Luke and Matthew.

*) p. 657. 658.

In the main, therefore, Wilke still stood on Weisse’s positive standpoint, but in his case, since he had hitherto most evidently proved the authorial origin of the Original Gospel, the contradiction of this standpoint, the unmitigated unification of the critical and the positive **) had reached the point where he demanded its resolution.

**) The positive in the sense of a not yet overpowered presupposition.

In my work, the conclusion of which appeared ten years ago, I had carried out this resolution.

The critique of the fourth Gospel had forced me to recognise the possibility that a Gospel could be of purely literary origin, and had finally convinced me that in that Gospel we possess a Scripture of this origin, while I was still at war with the result of Wilke’s work. But just as this conviction was well founded – just as, in possession of it, I went on to the Synoptic Gospels, in order to test once more by their pragmatism whether they were also of this origin, I had to agree with Wilke, or rather, through the connection of form and content, the question was raised to the height where it was a question of the final decision and the last positive, i.e. the last chimerical presupposition had to fall and the really positive knowledge of the origin of Christianity had to arise.

31

If the form is consistently of literary origin and gives the original Gospel the character of a work of art, and if artistic activity not only influences the content but also creates content itself, can criticism still maintain any of the traditional assumptions? Can it remain content with a final positive stance?

It was impossible! The content, too, proved to be a free creation of the writer’s art.

Furthermore, by overthrowing the assumption that the followers of the traditional hypothesis closely associated with defenders of the orthodox tradition, namely the assumption that the Jews already possessed a Christology and were familiar with the concept of “the Messiah” before Christianity, thus implying that Christianity existed before Christianity itself, I restored the original significance to the emergence of the Christian community. I made it possible for the Christian community to be recognized as a new creation, and the uprising of its spirit as a revolutionary act.

What was still lacking in the proof, I have supplied in this new work – the darkness of that positive which could still threaten the proof, I have now fully illuminated and brightened up – by finally placing in the wagons in which I had earlier placed my proof of the historical originality of Christianity and the free creation of Protestant history, I have now also placed my critique of the Pauline epistles, I have completely pushed them down to our earth and into our history, and the other one, with all its hypotheses and ״positive’ presuppositions, has forever vanished into thin air.

32

—————–

Modern Judaism.

Already at my first appearance with that statement on the independence of the Christian community from a Jewish Christology, I declared that it was neither necessary nor possible that this statement, like the others connected with it, should immediately win general approval.

The course of the last ten years has only confirmed how right I was when I gave myself this isolated position – when I considered this isolated position to be the only one possible for research with its critical overthrow of the prevailing ideas.

Even now, a general approval of the critical explanation of Christianity is neither necessary nor possible – indeed, it has only become even more unnecessary, even more impossible.

Not necessary – because if the personal conviction of the insignificance of a theory is merely an imagination as long as it is not based on the fact that the theory, despite the general opposition it encounters, is the culmination of a historical development and belongs to the existing state of the world as an interpretation and overcoming of the elements that contained its demands – what need does the critical explanation of Christianity already have for explicit approval, when its work, the dissolution of a perspective and science, to whose elaboration and destruction the entire history has contributed – when the dissolution of theological perspective and science testifies to it?

33

Can it count on the approval of a circle that it has broken up and dissolved? Is it not enough for it if the theological corporation, having been relieved of its original office and freed from the scientific distress which the explanation of Christianity had hitherto caused it, can no longer produce any decisive work?

Or can it occur to it to expect approval from the meta-physicists, who, through the ghostly beings of their realm of ideas, are bound in solidarity with theology and since the fall of the latter have been condemned for ever to equal barrenness?

Impossible – for the same modern power, whose opposition already irritated me when I argued against Hengstenberg about the difference between the Gospel and the Law and when I found Strauss’s derivation of Christian ״mythology’ from a pre-existing Jewish Christology insufficient, has now attained a dominance that can almost be called autocracy.

This power is Judaism – Judaism in the sense in which I presented it in my work on the history of the apostles as the world power of flattening, as the opponent of definiteness, as the adversary of the original world, as the enemy of all historical differences.

34

It is therefore not only the Judaism of the synagogue.

Indeed, national Judaism, as a personal enemy of Christianity, has accompanied all its creations with its curse. It has watched their rise, development, and flourishing with a fervent desire for them to succumb to its envious Jehovah. It is true that in antiquity and the Middle Ages, it forced Christians, through the need for refuting doubts, to become acquainted with doubt itself. Even in the Middle Ages, when the Christian world displayed the splendor of its blossoming, it provided the dangerous example that there could exist human beings within this world who, through their skill and industriousness, could establish their own independent existence and be unaffected by any of the conditions of life in that world. However, it could not bring about the dissolution and downfall it yearned for; it had to leave their realization to the struggles and efforts of members of the Christian world itself.

The Jew has corrosive but not dissolving power. He is unfavourably disposed towards the historical forms, but he cannot attack them. He stands outside the historical struggles, but his sceptical attitude is flabby and powerless; – he wonders how one can toil and kill one another for the interests at stake in the flowering and dissolution of the Christian world, but he wonders about it only because he understands nothing of these interests.

With the exception of the Jews of modern times who oppose the Christian world order with their oriental antitheses and literary sarcasms, the skeptic has always been a stranger in the Christian world. He was and remains a foreign entity to it. Therefore, he directs his weak skepticism against it. However, he cannot successfully attack it; he is even less capable of dissolving it.

35

The dissolution of this world can only “proceed from” and be accomplished by a power which understands it and which, in its self-feeling, in the vibrations of its inner being, despite its completed opposition, so purely and surely imitates the soul and the inner rhythm of Christianity that it has a right to reckon the masters of present-day theology and the heads of the political parties, whose express business is the restoration of Christianity, among the representatives of general Judaism *).

*) In this sense I have cancelled my writing against Hengstenberg (published in 1839) on the contrast between the “Law” and the “Gospel” as a Christian against Hengstenberg as a Jew.

Although the religious and theological form of the dissolution neither originated in the synagogue nor was carried out by the national Jews, it may nevertheless be called the work of the general Judaism, because in the power that carried it out, the specific nature of the Jew attained a kind of world domination and general spread.

It was the foreignness into which Christianity, as its dissolution (already in the last centuries of the Middle Ages), began to fall upon itself that rendered both the opponents and defenders of the outdated system insensitive to its original significance. It gave the initial movements of research and criticism the form of either hatred or apathetic indifference and turned the preservation of the historical system into a political measure or a matter of personal speculation. Finally, from this foreignness emerged the Jewish rootlessness of recent times. In it, the position that the Jew had always held towards the Christian world found its justification.

36

Those legal scholars who had taken on the role of learned arbiters in the medieval dispute between secular and ecclesiastical power and who regarded the question of the classical existence of Christianity as a formal question in which one could decide for or against at will and without harm to the whole system of life – they were already the forerunners of modern advocates who, for example, believe that they can keep state life going in their dispute over constitutional formulas – were the forerunners of today’s Judaism, which no longer knows any sympathy for a historical form of life and no longer believes that it is possible to decide for or against. They were already the forerunners of modern advocates who, for example, believe that they can keep state life going by arguing about constitutional formulas – the forerunners of today’s Judaism, which no longer knows sympathy for a historical form of life and regards the decision in favour of the pro or con as a business to be regulated according to a supreme formula or according to the rules of its own prudence.

The Christian spirit’s own dullness created those supreme formulas of deism or pantheistic philosophy which subjected the historical formations of Christianity to a monotonous levelling, i.e. to the Judaism.

When the decay of the whole dogmatic system was decided by the overthrow of the dogma of the eternity of the punishments of hell, the Jewish hatred of the aristocracy triumphed and the Jewish principle of equality succeeded in carrying itself through also in heaven and in transforming the Christian organisation, Dante’s world, into a uniform chaos of meaningless zeros.

37

No matter how zealously the political businessmen of the present day may pose as knights of the Christian world, when they defend the order and inner gradation of the Christian-Germanic world as the direct work of the Godhead – they are and remain Jews, and even their justification of the historical division of the monarchy speaks of the Jewish hatred of historical design, since with their heartless and unfeeling derivation from God they equate the works of art of history with any insect.

It makes no difference whether, like Strauss or Hengstenberg, one makes Old Testament Judaism the original and creator of Christianity – both are the work of Jewish antipathy to their own originality, the victory of Jewish uniformity over soulful form.

Well, this Judaism, into which the development of the Christian world runs, is the expression and consequence of its own flattening and the slackening of its original contrasts – it is a Christian work, even if it is the work of the Christian, to whom his own world has become alien. But when Judaism is established and has become the general element of life, then the weary Christian is forced to reach out to the national Jew and welcome him as his ally.

When the Christian has lost his historical attitude and his historical privilege has expired, the Jew, who always doubted it, has triumphed and demands his recognition.

When the Christian form has slackened and lapsed into shapelessness, when man no longer dares to assert his place in the bosom of the Godhead, and concedes the honour of the Godhead to the One God of deism alone, then the covenant is made between the enlightened and Moses Mendelssohn.

38

When the one of deism has reduced the world to a heap of equal, i.e. equally worthless things, then the Jew demands equality with the Christian, the latter demands freedom for the latter – when both have become so powerless that they demand freedom as a gift – both are worthy of freedom, which remains a distant being and, as a mere demand, delights and torments.

If the Christian form of life has been abandoned by the plastic power of its soul and has ossified into a formula, then the Jew can even render great service to the Conservative interest, he can do his business, since no one knows better than he how to handle the soulless formula and bring it to fruition.

When an art such as music has been perfected and the source of tones has dried up, when the melodious soul has exhausted itself in its “sweeps” and the Christian masters have fought out their battles of the soul in the contrasts and opposites of their creations, then the Jew gives the public what it wants – a purring tangle instead of soulful melody – thoughtless cries instead of the opposites which, in their proud attitude, express the heroic struggle of the inner self.

Wherever the penetrating soul has disappeared, the Jew appears, finds his world – when faith and trust have long since disappeared from the life of the state and the only thing that governments still have to do, the preservation of order, is secured by military power, then the Jew shines and does his business, When even an aristocracy like the English has lost its power to rule, then the Jew as statesman shows off his inadequacy and the world admires him as the striking proof of how little of his own substance and character is needed to keep the political machine going.

39

In the field in which I am working with my critique in the present work, Judaism can be called truly complete since theology has lost its counterpart and the confusion that has always been characteristic of its language has dissolved into a babbling slur about it.

This perfected Judaism is the friendship of light – that form of science, theology and religiosity which is only possible after the appearance of criticism.

The friend of light is the Christian who believes himself to be free of the hostile system when he no longer worries about it – his Christianity as well as that which is hostile to him are to him the unspeakable and unthinkable – his and the opposing Christianity offer him so few real and historical predicates any more that he can only distinguish between them by means of their opposition, that he can only describe their opposition by the image of light and darkness or by the mystical formulas of the new spirit and the old evil – he is the servant of an unknowable being and so ignorant of his own religion that, in spite of the great history, he is unable to understand it, that he still wants to realise it despite the great history in which it has attained its realisation and could attain it alone – without the ability to investigate and explain Christianity, he frees himself from the positive forms of it, from its dogmas and sacred history, by leaving them to himself and lying behind his back – he is a stranger in the world that surrounds him, free from it and at the same time its servant, because it is something alien and purely intangible to him – he is a stranger in the world that surrounds him, free from it and at the same time its servant, because it is something alien and purely intangible to him. thing to him –

40

In short, he has become what the Jew always was.

But the friend of light is not only that bourgeois friend of freedom who declares himself in protests and popular assemblies against the rule of the symbols and cannot be sufficiently enraptured by the supposed arrogance of the church regime, which all of a sudden speaks of doctrinal regulations that rightly exist – but the church regime itself, as well as the crowd of theologians and the corporations that provide a kind of basis and support for its provisions, they also belong to the world of the friend of light and are only one species of this modern genre.

The believing theologian, too, has an enemy in everything that exact science has created for centuries, against which he saves himself only by apathetic confinement to himself and by flight into thoughtlessness – he, too, takes so little part in the work and development of his world, in a development of which even his paralysis and apathy is a consequence, that he cannot comprehend, how the wicked come to set themselves tasks in their obstinacy and, in their diabolical bias, to involve themselves in researches that do not touch practical life and only disturb the enjoyment and tranquillity of the moment, that he can only describe the opposition of the two as the opposition of light and darkness, or his spirit only as the new spirit that has risen above the diabolical apostasy – he, too, knows his religion so little that he would consider himself called upon to actually realise it – if the liberal friend of light frees himself through thoughtlessness from the dogmas of his religion and from the miraculous view of Holy Scripture, the same thoughtlessness is the power of the believing friend of light that preserves these positive forms of Christianity for him – he can only preserve his world by renouncing its explanation and research – he is, like his liberal opponent, the reflection of a history and development that he knows as little as the latter – he is, like the latter, the Judaised Christian.

41

The world domination of which the national Jew dreams would be certain to him, and the victory which the power of slackness gives him over the Christian sculpture could never be snatched away again, if the same source from which his freedom from Christianity springs did not also spring his defeat.

This dangerous source, which produces momentary strength but permanent weakness, is the feeling of alienation.

Yes, Christianity cannot harm the Jew, because it is foreign to him – but he himself is also a foreigner to the Christian world, and this feeling of foreignness outlasts all the illusions of equality and equal rights which the time of dissolution produces, and, after a momentary revolutionary slackening, draws new nourishment from the whole spiritual and natural world of feelings, views and customs into which Christianity has passed and in which it maintains itself against all immature attempts at dissolution.

The liberal and the believing friendship of light would also be victorious and continue their fruitless struggle into infinity, if the same feeling of strangeness did not protect the world from this fate of semi-decay.

The friend of light may believe himself to be master of Christianity when he takes refuge in thoughtlessness in the face of it and calls the theoretical preoccupation with it a servile bias – it remains, remains as a task for research and after a brief triumph of thoughtlessness the friend of light will stand there as a stranger in the world in whose organisation this task still lives.

42

Even if the believing friend of light has a historical right to defend the relics of Christianity, which uphold the task of overcoming the whole, against the liberal friend of light, he is nevertheless opposed by an “insurmountable” power which exposes him as a stranger in this world.

No matter how confident the attitude with which the spiritual shepherd behaves as master of the congregation and the theologian relies on Scripture, no matter how confident the political speculator may be of his momentary success, no matter how much the church regime may try to give the appearance of firmness to its language when it refers to the existing ecclesiastical law, no matter how confident the attitude with which the spiritual shepherd behaves as master of the congregation and the theologian relies on Scripture, they may all create for themselves an almost undisputed world dominion, since no one except the protesting light friend considers them worthy of a serious fight any more——-the world, which apparently lies at their feet, nevertheless feels from their confident declamations that they are all fundamentally alien to it, and that it holds their noblest pleasures and dearest treasures in deep resentment. The heart of society remains beyond the reach of their heartless efforts, and their commands, demands, and threats are powerless against the wealth of emotions and perspectives that the positive achievements of art and science have already generated within the fabric of social organization. The ground beneath their influence has been shaken since the arts and exact research of the past centuries have eroded the monotheistic foundation of religious conceptions. While Jewish speculators and devout adherents of enlightenment believe they are ruling society, the position they truly hold is that of foreign adventurers, a mere association.

43

Nothing can demonstrate the provisional nature of our time more than this pervasive sense of foreignness that separates those individuals, to whom the active role in the present has primarily fallen, from the task at hand, which encompasses both the remnants of the Christian world and the accumulated treasure of positive and exact perspectives for the future.

The general state of the world, the overall unfinished nature and mutual alienation, demand this rule of adventurers that precedes that universal empire which will witness the crisis of Christianity, just as the Roman Empire witnessed its rise. However, the present is also engaged in the development of means that will serve to remove that sense of foreignness from the world. One of these means is criticism, whose main achievement, whose first work preceding all others, despite being accused of biased self-restraint, is to dissolve the contrast between the still existing Christian world and positive, exact science. This means enlarging and securing the treasure of the latter through the positive explanation of Christianity.

Having laid the foundation for this explanation in the previous work on the Gospels, and before I bring the investigation to its conclusion, I will subsequently address what I intentionally did not touch upon at that time—the opposition to the theological interpretation of the Gospels.

But there is no longer any opposition. In the purity and autonomy of my exposition, I have provided proof that criticism has become master over the subject, and therefore, it is no longer in opposition to theology. I no longer have to fight, but merely present the accomplished fact—that the Gospels are a foreign object to theology and that the latter is excluded from their domain, to which it was previously counted.

—————–

 


BRUNO BAUER: Theological Explanation of the Gospels – English translation

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Machine translated by Neil Godfrey from Die theologische Erklärung der Evangelien (1852)

(June 2023)

Foreword (pp 1-44)

        • Strauss pp 4-17
        • Weisse pp 17-27
        • Wilke pp 27-32
        • Modern Judaism pp 32-43

I. The theological explanation of the fourth Gospel (pp 45-67)

II. Strauss’ tradition hypothesis (pp. 68-135)

III. The Original Evangelist (pp. 136-148)

 

 


2023-05-06

Bruno BAUER — Seven (now Eight) Works Translated into English

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Until recently, an English translation of Bruno Bauer’s Christianity Exposed has only been available through a library or Edwin Mellen University Press. Now, however, Google Books has made Bruno Bauer’s famous work public — though it is in German. BUT the better news is that when one opens it in Google Reader and runs a cursor over the German text, a little box pops up giving one the option to have an instant translation of the selected text! Nice. — https://books.google.com.au/books/about … edir_esc=y Click on the READ EBOOK link in the left margin.

I have translated seven volumes of Bruno Bauer’s works into English and make them freely accessible here. I am not a German speaker and the Fraktur or Gothic font is not my closest friend so I have relied heavily on machine translation tools — Google Translate, DeepL and ChatGPT, often comparing them paragraph by paragraph for the preferable rendering into English. I have made an effort to manually check all pages for accuracy and comprehensibility but unfortunately the complexity and highly abstract commentary by Bauer sometimes stretched me to the limits of my abilities. Most of the text, I trust, is easier to read than those sections, but I encourage anyone who sees errors or can propose better translations to let me know.

Christ and the Caesars is commercially available — or rather it is very difficult to obtain — so I have provided here a fresh translation for open access.

BRUNO BAUER: Critique of the Gospel of John – English translation

BRUNO BAUER: Critique of the Gospel History – English translation

BRUNO BAUER: Acts of the Apostles – in English

BRUNO BAUER: Criticism of the Gospels and History of their Origin – in English

BRUNO BAUER: Theological Explanation of the Gospels – English translation  — Primarily a response to David Strauss and his Life of Jesus and the assumption of oral tradition behind the gospels

BRUNO BAUER: Criticism of the Pauline Letters – in English

BRUNO BAUER: Christ and the Caesars – in English

Albert Schweitzer on Bruno Bauer

One might suppose that between the work of Strauss and that of Bauer there lay not five, but fifty years—the critical work of a whole generation. . . .

The only critic with whom Bauer can be compared is Reimarus. Each exercised a terrifying and disabling influence upon his time. No one else had been so keenly conscious as they of the extreme complexity of the problem offered by the life of Jesus. . . .

For us the great men are not those who solved the problems, but those who discovered them. Bauer’s Criticism of the Gospel History is worth a good dozen Lives of Jesus, because his work, as we are only now coming to recognise, after half a century, is the ablest and most complete collection of the difficulties of the Life of Jesus which is anywhere to be found. . . .

Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. A Critical Study of Its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede. Translated by W. Montgomery. A. & C. Black, 1910. pp. 151, 159

 

 

 

 


2013-07-26

Blood and Water: What Is the Function of John 19:34?

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Tim Widowfield

c. 1400
Crucifixion with a Dominican friar c. 1400 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 A shock to the system

33  But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.

34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.

John 19:33-34, NRSV

Today in this short post I return to a recurring theme here on Vridar. The anxiety of historicity (or authenticity) has played such a dominant role in both mainstream and apologetic Jesus studies (if it’s possible to separate them), that we often lose sight of original intent. In other words, scholars and clergymen over the past two centuries have spilled gallons of ink explaining how certain events are plausible, while giving short shrift to the questions concerning the evangelist’s purpose for a story or how that story functioned in the setting of the early church.

The events surrounding the crucifixion are no exception. In fact, a curious blend of wannabe medical experts and earnest confessional scholars have contributed to a vast library of works “explaining” the plausibility of every last detail of the Passion narrative. In the case of the spear piercing Jesus’ side, for example, these experts — who seem to have more interest in forensic science and human anatomy than in the religious meaning of the text — have dominated the conversation.

Above all else, they must impress upon us that “this really did happen,” not in some mythological story, but in the real, material world. Consider the following paragraph:

Prior to death, the sustained rapid heartbeat caused by hypovolemic shock also causes fluid to gather in the sack around the heart and around the lungs. This gathering of fluid in the membrane around the heart is called pericardial effusion, and the fluid gathering around the lungs is called pleural effusion. This explains why, after Jesus died and a Roman soldier thrust a spear through Jesus’ side (probably His right side, piercing both the lungs and the heart), blood and water came from His side just as John recorded in his Gospel (John 19:34).

(Note: I was going to credit a certain apologetic web site (gotquestions.org) with the above paragraph, but I’ve found that if you Google the first sentence, you’ll get so many copypasta hits that it’s difficult to tell exactly where the hell it originated.)

Sciencey, ergo plausible, ergo true

Naturally, I don’t expect apologists really understand hypovolemic shock any more than they do the Second Law of Thermodynamics. And that, of course, is why they copy the text word for word. But the point is it sounds sciencey and very sophisticated. It sounds true.

I can remember listening to visiting lecturers in the church I grew up in who would explain “what Jesus actually endured” during the scourging and the crucifixion. I would suppose that Mel Gibson’s Texas Chainsaw Jesus movie spawned even more such discussions. Suffice it to say that at the time, in my early teens, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of why blood and water flowed from Jesus’ wound.

Recently, however, while reading David Friedrich Strauss’s The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, I was struck by his unusual perspective. Why did John tell the story of the spear and the flowing blood and water?

This event is ordinarily regarded as the chief voucher for the reality of the death of Jesus, and in relation to it the proof to be drawn from the synoptists is held inadequate. (p. 697)

Continue reading “Blood and Water: What Is the Function of John 19:34?”