Wilke is now in English translation

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by Neil Godfrey

I somehow managed to complete a first draft of a translation of the entire near 700 pages of one of the major works that established the case for the Gospel of Mark being the first gospel.

It can be accessed here on my vridar.info page. Link is to a PDF – 27 MB.

I have updated the Wilke page in the right margin where the link can always be found.

I have been advised that for my final act I should attempt the same for Weisse. Maybe…. but 1100+ pages…. ?


Christian Gottlob WILKEDer Urevangelist Translated into English

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

by Neil Godfrey

Update: 3rd August 2023

I somehow managed to complete a first draft of a translation of the entire near 700 pages of the work that significantly contributed to the case for the Gospel of Mark being the first gospel.

It can be accessed here on my vridar.info page. Link is to a PDF – 27 MB.

Wilke’s work is more than a voyage of discovery to identify the first evangelist, though. It addresses a range of principles and arguments that have relevance for question of the origins of the details of the story of Jesus. It also opens up options for consideration for anyone interested in knowing how the canonical form of the Gospel that we have today compares with what it may have originally looked like.

I am posting the draft form now because I expect it will be some time before I manage to go through it more carefully to fine-tune aspects of the translation and layout, and especially double-checking the Greek text which currently contains inconsistencies and errors with the accents.

Original post: 2nd July 2023

When I was translated Bruno Bauer’s studies of the New Testament writings i encountered numerous references to one of the pioneers of the Markan priority hypothesis, Christian Gottlob Wilke. Bruno often but not always deferred to Wilke’s judgments relating to the relationships among the synoptic gospels and how to account for their variations, what passages appeared to be earlier, which verses were intrusions of some kind, and so forth. My appetite was whetted and I wanted to read Wilke for myself. The work in question is Der Urevangelist oder exegetisch kritische Untersuchung über das Verwandtschaftsverhältniß der drei ersten Evangelien published in 1838. Translation: The Urevangelist [=Original Gospel] or exegetical critical study on the relationship of the first three Gospels.

I have just completed translating the introductory pages and part one — approximately 160 pages in all.

Part one addresses in depth the question of whether the synoptic gospels drew upon oral tradition. Wilke’s assessment is that they did not. The evidence that he advances to reach this conclusion is thorough in its detail. He also concludes part one with a discussion of variations of the standard notion of oral tradition and alternative hypotheses such as an Aramaic original.

I have read many modern studies about such questions and cannot help but think that many scholars would have written differently had they also read Wilke in the original. The original is in Old German or Fraktur font but I can offer a second best option. I have maintained the original pagination in the translation. Some of the paragraphs in the original exceed ten pages in length, and even a single sentence can sometimes run on beyond a page, but Wilke had the happy habit of inserting into his walls of text subdivisions — a, b, c, … α, β, γ…. 1, 2, 3 ….. aa, bb, cc,…. and I have broken the paragraphs at each of those points for easier reading.

For those who are seriously minded about these sorts of questions…. (you may have to do a bit of cursor clicking to make the files show)

Title page – Foreword – 3 TABLES to which the remainder of the study will constantly refer

Download (PDF, 89KB)


addressing the question of whether the synoptic gospels drew upon oral or written sources

Download (PDF, 408KB)

Original text is available at archive.org, the Bavarian State Library and no doubt other places.


Another Old German Treasure Translated into English

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

by Neil Godfrey

When I translated Bruno Bauer’s studies of the New Testament writings I encountered numerous references to one of the pioneers of the Markan priority hypothesis, Christian Gottlob Wilke. Bruno often but not always deferred to Wilke’s judgments relating to the relationships among the synoptic gospels and how to account for their variations, what passages appeared to be earlier, which verses were intrusions of some kind, and so forth. My appetite was whetted and I wanted to read Wilke for myself. The work in question is Der Urevangelist oder exegetisch kritische Untersuchung über das Verwandtschaftsverhältniß der drei ersten Evangelien published in 1838. Translation: The Urevangelist [=Original Gospel] or exegetical critical study on the relationship of the first three Gospels.

I have just completed translating the introductory pages and part one — approximately 160 pages in all.

Part one addresses in depth the question of whether the synoptic gospels drew upon oral tradition. Wilke’s assessment is that they did not. The evidence that he advances to reach this conclusion is thorough in its detail. He also concludes part one with a discussion of variations of the standard notion of oral tradition and alternative hypotheses such as an Aramaic original.

I have read many modern studies about such questions and cannot help but think that many scholars would have written differently had they also read Wilke in the original. The original is in Old German or Fraktur font but I can offer a second best option. I have maintained the original pagination in the translation. Some of the paragraphs in the original exceed ten pages in length, and even a single sentence can sometimes run on beyond a page, but Wilke had the happy habit of inserting into his walls of text subdivisions — a, b, c, … α, β, γ…. 1, 2, 3 ….. aa, bb, cc,…. and I have broken the paragraphs at each of those points for easier reading.

For those who are seriously minded about these sorts of questions…. (you may have to do a bit of cursor clicking to make the files show)

Title page – Foreword – 3 TABLES to which the remainder of the study will constantly refer

GDE Error: Error retrieving file - if necessary turn off error checking (404:Not Found)



addressing the question of whether the synoptic gospels drew upon oral or written sources

Download (PDF, 408KB)

I hope to eventually translate the entire volume. That won’t be completed by next week, though.

Original text is available at archive.org, the Bavarian State Library and no doubt other places.


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 (1843) 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 1840

BRUNO BAUER: Critique of the Gospel History – English translation 1841-42

BRUNO BAUER: Acts of the Apostles – in English 1850

BRUNO BAUER: Criticism of the Gospels and History of their Origin – in English 1850-51

BRUNO BAUER: Theological Explanation of the Gospels – English translation 1852 — 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 1852

BRUNO BAUER: Christ and the Caesars – in English 1877

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






§ 81. Speech of Jesus about the last things

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

by Neil Godfrey

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 3



§ 81.

Speech of Jesus about the last things.

Matth Ch. 24. 25.

1. Introduction.

In a gospel where Jesus spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem and his return as two related events (Matthew 23:38-39), it seems quite strange when, immediately after Jesus again mentions the destruction of Jerusalem, the disciples ask him when it will happen. Similarly, it is strange for the same question to be asked in another gospel (Luke 21:7), where there has already been a detailed discussion of Jesus’ return and its timing (Luke 17:22-37). Since a clear sign of the Messiah’s return was also discussed earlier in Luke, it is a new contradiction for the disciples to ask again about the sign of the end times and fulfillment. The contradiction is heightened in another way when Matthew has the disciples ask: “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
These are already dogmatic expressions that arise only when the view they represent has developed to the point that the word finally finds a conventional way to remind everyone who hears it of everything related to that view. And yet, in both Matthew’s and Luke’s scriptures, Jesus’ statement that his return is rather the sign of the end times appears as something new and unexpected. In short, Luke and Matthew were not right to share speeches that undermine the character of the new and unexpected content of the latter, before conveying the speech about the end times to Mark.

*) Luk 21,7: πότε ούν ταύτα έσται; και τι το σημείον, όταν μέλλη ταύτα γίνεσθαι.

**) Matth 24, 3: και τί το σημείον της σής παρουσίας και της συντελείας του αιώνος.


Jesus was teaching in the temple when he raised the question about the Messiah being called the son of David and gave the speech about the scribes. After this speech he sat down opposite the treasury, saw how the people threw money into it, how the rich sacrificed much, and praised the widow who threw two farthings into it! As he left the temple, one of the disciples drew his attention to the mighty building of the temple. Jesus answered that not one stone of this building would be left upon another, and when he had sat down on the Mount of Olives in view of the temple – the appropriate scene for the following speech – the four most respected disciples, Peter, Jacob, John and Andrew, asked him apart from the others when this would happen and what the sign was that all this would be accomplished *).

*) Mark 13, 4: είπε ημίν, πότε ταύτα έσται; και τί το σημείον, οταν μέλλη πάντα ταύτα συντελείσθαι και


Matthew had no more space for the little picture of the widow after his speech against the Pharisees had been excessively extended. Besides, he wanted to immediately connect the speech about the last things with the last sentence of the speech against the hypocrites, which also talks about the destruction of Jerusalem and the return of Jesus. Therefore, he immediately jumps to the note that Jesus left the temple when one of his disciples – he says the disciples in general did it – drew his attention to the buildings of the temple, and Jesus prophesied their destruction. However, he forgot to write down the note to Mark (Chapter 12, Verse 35) that Jesus was last in the temple. Later, he does mention that Jesus sat down on the Mount of Olives, but he fails to note that it happened in view of the temple. And when he says “the disciples” asked him “privately,” he has copied a keyword from Mark and made it meaningless, as he no longer has a contrast to explain the meaning of “privately.”

Luke has also treated the matter very carelessly and copied it. He damaged the frame for the little picture of the widow – he does not say that Jesus was sitting opposite the treasury and saw the crowd throwing their gifts into it – he does not say that Jesus had occasion to speak about the destruction of the temple when he left it, and he also does not mention that the revelation about the last things happened on the Mount of Olives. He has copied it very carelessly: he does not even mention the disciples, only saying that some people, not focusing on what was relevant here and to which Jesus’ answer, “not one stone upon another,” also refers, drew attention to the mighty structure of the temple, not its decoration, “the beautiful stones and the offerings.”


The fourth [Evangelist]—this is important for the decision about the story of the adulteress—has learned from Luke and Mark that Jesus once gave a speech himself in “God’s treasury”!! *)

*) John 8, 20, ταύτα ελάλησεν εν τω γαζοφυλακίω, διδάσκων εν τω ιερω.
Mark 12, 35, διδάσκων εν τω ιερώ; V. 41, καθίσας κατέναντι του γαζοφυλακίου.
John 8, 2 [corrected from 3], καθίσας


2. The context of the speech.

The task of criticism with regard to the speech about the last things is greatly complicated by the nature of the three relationships in which we read it. If we want to know the general structure of the speech, we must first have anatomized the individual parts, and yet we cannot truly understand them in their correct or crippled organism if we have not already gained a view of the overall organism. We could perhaps help ourselves by first focusing our attention on the structure of the whole, without neglecting the examination of the individual parts, and then examining the details more closely without giving up the view of the whole – but what about the three different relationships! This zigzag of jumping back and forth, the interest in the question of when this speech, when each individual relationship of it was created, and also the prejudices that are rooted in the previous critical consideration of this speech!

We dare to do this in the following way, by first leaving aside the final passage, where Jesus addresses the disciples again with the parable of the fig tree and exhorts them to watchfulness.


a. The account of Matthew.

Matth. 24, 4 – 31.

Behold. There will come many who will pretend to be the Christ, and they will deceive many. You will hear rumours of war. Take heed that ye be not troubled. For all things must come to pass, but it is not yet the end. For nation shall rise against nation. There will be famine, pestilence and earthquakes here and there. All these are the beginning of the travail. (V. 4-8.)

“Then” – afterwards or at the same time? the progress is not made clear – you “will” be delivered up to tribulation and death. Dead? Then the whole of the following explanation, the following instruction as to how they should behave, is highly superfluous! And what is the tribulation they will suffer? It is not said! You will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake! How will they come into contact with the nations? It is not said. Many will be united and will betray and hate one another. Love will grow cold, lawlessness will take over. Many false prophets will arise! Why false prophets again? The deceivers have already been mentioned above! He who endures to the end will be blessed! And the Gospel must be proclaimed throughout the whole earth to all nations! And then comes the end! But why are these two things connected? Do the disciples have nothing to do with this proclamation? It is not said! (V. 9-14.)

When you see the abomination of desolation, proclaimed by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place, then it is high time to flee. But why “therefore”? Has this abomination and the fact that it will stand in the holy place been spoken of before? No! Or since it was said immediately before: “then comes the end”, is this rising of the abomination the end? No! For in what follows it is explained that this appearance of the abomination is only the increase of the misery, and only after this misery shall the end come with the coming of the Son of Man”! So there is no connection! “Then comes the end! “is said too early in v. 14. So escape is urgently necessary, and it is fortunate if one can escape comfortably. The distress will be as great as it has never been and will never be again. There follows another warning against false messiahs and false prophets. Why this warning three times? Then follows the description of the coming of the Son of Man – although it is a warning, so that no one will be deceived by the false Messiahs – but the description immediately ceases to be a parenthetical one, it even wants to be an inner link in the progress of the context, when with the words: “for where the carrion is, the eagles gather” it is explained that this coming is necessarily demanded and can certainly be expected, if all conditions for it are fulfilled. (V. 15 – 28.)


Only after the distress of those days will the sign of the Son of Man be seen and he himself will appear to hold judgment (V. 29-31). So how can his arrival be announced beforehand, when his sign is only now being given? And furthermore, why give the condition for the arrival of the Son of Man – “where the carcass is, there the vultures will gather” – if the condition on which the disciples should take notice was already given beforehand?

Matthew has confused the matter to the highest degree. Luke has done no better.

b. Luke’s account.

21, 8 -28.

Beware and be not deceived! Many are coming in my name, saying, I am! “And the time has come!” Why this remark? It goes without saying that Jesus wants to describe the future in which the crisis will occur. What is the point of this remark, then, if it is only to say that this is the beginning of the development of the catastrophe? But is that all it wants to say? It is disturbing and clumsy when the main thing, the arrival of the Son of Man, takes place only after several preludes. “But when you hear of wars and upheavals, do not be afraid. For this must happen first, but it is not yet the end. “(V. 8. 9.) Why not the end? Luke is silent and does not say that this is the beginning of the travail.


“Then said Jesus unto them,” he continues, “one nation shall rise up against another, and there shall be great earthquakes, and famines, and pestilences, and great terrors and signs shall appear in heaven.” (V. 10. 11.) But why here, when a great discourse is to be communicated, this interruption by the formula: then said etc. ? May the notice that people will rise against people be separated from the preceding warning not to be afraid because of the rumours of war? When it is added to that warning: “for this must happen first” – must not then, for the sake of emphasis, be followed immediately by the assurance: “for one nation will rise against another”? And what is the purpose of the signs and terrifying images in the sky, since now and in the following only the confusion on earth is described and is to be described? Only at the end, when the Son of Man is to appear, are the signs in the sky in their place; Luke also mentions them again at the end (v. 25-27), so he has placed them here much too early.

Therefore, because he has mentioned the heavenly signs at the wrong time, he must now, if he wants to describe the persecutions which the apostles will have to endure, take a new approach or rather jump backwards and let the Lord say: “But before all this (v. 12) they will lay their hands on you”, and it does not even help him to turn back in this way. For who will lay hands on them? Shall it happen before the nations and kingdoms rise up against each other and the Apostles are drawn into the turmoil of the general tumult? But it is only in this turmoil that it is possible, as Luke himself adds later, for the disciples to be led before kings and princes. It is not too much to ask if we think that for orientation and so that we can reflect in the confusion of this tumult, the necessity must be stated why the disciples must endure these sufferings; if Luke therefore merely adds the remark: But it will be a testimony to you (v. 13)”, this is not only too little, this suggestion of a success brought about by chance is not only very weak, but we can also be sure that Luke has overlooked how the sufferings of the disciples must rather serve as a testimony to the nations, princes and kings. After the remark that the disciples should not worry about how they could answer for themselves, for he, Jesus, would give them mouth and wisdom, they are still informed that they would be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives and friends: too much! For it was already said above that they would be handed over; too late! For in the meantime many other things have come in between; too crowded! When parents, brothers, etc. are mentioned, it is rather to be expected that a general war of all against all is to be described. That the remark, “and not a hair of your head shall perish,” is a later insertion, we will assume to the honour of Luke, and thus admit to Wilke; the oversight would be very great indeed, since it was just said that some of them would be killed. (V. 12-19.)


But when you see Jerusalem besieged – it says in the place where this “when you see” occurs in Matthew – then – we should expect what follows later, may one only flee, no! then – know that her desolation has come. As if this were such a difficult conclusion that Jesus had to impress it on the disciples beforehand. By this alone is this mention of Jerusalem judged. Then follows the reminder that the flight can no longer be postponed – as if this reminder were necessary! – For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people: thus Jerusalem, the Jewish people, form the centre of interest here. They shall fall by the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem shall lie trodden down with the nations, until the time be ready. Now follows the indication of the signs that will appear, the description of the fear that will seize all nations when the Son of Man comes – i.e., the fear that will be felt by all nations when the Son of Man comes. Luke does not say that after the distress which the disciples will suffer during the general warfare of all nations, and after the distress which will follow the desolation, the signs will appear in the sky announcing the coming of the Messiah, for he has already given a time when he says that Jerusalem will lie desolate until the time of the nations also comes; But he has not clearly stated this information, because it is supplemented and more closely determined for his person from another scripture, and he thinks that what he knows and darkly implies, every one of his readers would also know. (V. 20 – 27.)


When it is further said: “When all these things begin, lift up your heads on high, for your deliverance draws near! “(v. 28), and when only v. 29, after the interjection : And when, in v. 29, after the interjection “He spoke a parable to them” (v. 29), the disciples are admonished to watch for the signs of the times, there is no mistaking the overflow; the first admonition is Luke’s later addition, and it is he who, with his usual formula, has introduced the original admonition, thus interrupting the connection of the discourse very untimely.

If we now remove all the contradictions caused by the negligence of the two compilers or their late tendencies, if we give each member its true expansion by separating out the later insertions or by restoring to their true development the sentences that are constricted, often even stifled, by these insertions, we have again the original account that we read in the writing of Mark.


c. The Original Account.

Mark 13, 5 -27.

First the disciples are warned not to be deceived by false Messiahs and to be frightened by rumours of war; “for this must come to pass, but it is not yet the end; for nations shall rise against nations, etc.”. This is the beginning of the travail! ” (V. 5 – 9.)

They should only take care of themselves. For it will also come to them. They will be handed over to the synagogues and so on. They will stand before princes and kings “for a testimony unto them, and the gospel must first be preached among all nations. “But they shall not take care what they shall say then; they shall be given what they shall say, etc. General betrayal and warfare of the relatives against one another. He who endures to the end will be saved. (V. 9 -13.)

But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not stand, then it is the last time to flee. For in these days there will be a distress such as has never been and will not be again. God has shortened these days for the sake of the elect (vv. 14-20).

But in those days, after that trouble, the heavenly signs will appear, the Son of Man will be seen coming, and He will gather His elect through His angels (vv. 24-27).

These are four parts which are really connected and each of which has the right relationship to the other.

Luke has confused them all: he divided the first in half and already included the signs of the fourth in the second half. He had to force the transition to the second part, precisely because of those signs, and he poorly and uncertainly developed that part because he had already led the disciples to powers and authorities and had caused divisions among close relatives in the previous section (referring to Luke 12:11-12, 12:52-53). He made the third and fourth parts connected by forcefully inserting references to Jerusalem.


Matthew has dislocated and amputated the second member so much because he had already copied the saying about the apostles’ responsibility before the temporal authorities and about the war between the relatives from Mark above (C. 10, 17-22) and now only throws lost key words of the original relationship through each other in a colourful way in order not to let everything perish. In order to fill the gap to some extent, he forms the saying (v. 12): because lawlessness is rampant, the love of the many will grow cold *).

*) After the pattern of Jer. 7, 28: ἐξέλιπεν ἡ πίστις. Ps. 12, 1: εκλέλοιπεν ο όσιος, ώλιγώθησαν αι αλήθειαι των υιών των ανθρώπεν verse 2 of the same Psalm.

Matthew has unhappily changed the transition to the third member: when you see “thus”. It was Matthew who first added to the abomination of desolation “spoken of through Daniel the prophet”, Matthew emphasised the reference to Daniel’s prophecy more strongly when he said: “stand in the holy place,” Matthew then added the admonition: “Let him who reads it take heed! “(v. 15.) The later copyist, who inserted the same formulas into the writing of Mark (C. 13, 14), did not consider, as Wilke rightly remarks **), that Mark does not cite the Old Testament views crudely, but works them freely and sets them in flow with the body of his work.

**) p. 262.

Then one is to flee when one sees the abomination of desolation: “but pray, says Mark at the close of this exhortation, that your flight be not during the winter,” “nor also, adds Matthew v. 20, on the Sabbath.” How appropriate! The flight is not agreed upon in one day, but requires several days, so the winter, which has a longer duration, can be called an unfavourable time. Or should we think of the moment when the flight begins, well, then, if the Sabbath were really an insurmountable obstacle, it would be time to flee beforehand, since the appearance of the abomination of desolation is the warning sign that the distress will reach its peak. Matthew, however, only wanted to prove to us what he has already proved far too often, much to our chagrin, that it is precisely those who come later who use the circumstances of earlier times as categories and, if they are as clumsy as Matthew, use them very inappropriately.


Luke omitted the thought that the days of the need of the elect would be shortened (Mark 13, 20), because his diatribe about the fate of Jerusalem occupied him too much, and on the contrary, he put the matter very vaguely, when he says that Jemsalem would be trampled underfoot by the people, “until their time also shall be fulfilled. “In return, he has not worked out very clearly the thought which he has suppressed here, namely, not with a clear lind carried out relation to the last future (C. 18, 1-8).

The warning against false prophets and Messiahs, which follows in Mark (C. 13, 21 – 23) and is even more extensive in Matthew (C. 24, 23-26), has the more definite trait that the false Messiahs would live in the wilderness and in chambers and would try to lure people there – we do not read this warning in Luke’s speech and it is only a later insertion in the writing of Mark, as Wilke has correctly noted. Mark has settled the matter of the false Messiahs in the beginning of the speech, and he is not the man who is so easily guilty of tautologies. Luke, on his own hand, made a variation on the speech of Jesus about the last things in that monstrous travelogue and also introduced this variation with a warning against the false Messiahs (C. 17, 22 – 24), Matthew inserted this passage here so incongruously, elaborated it even further and, since it is once in the course, also the comparison that the coming of the Son of Man will be like the sudden and all-illuminating shining of lightning, and finally even the conclusion of that earlier speech of Luke – where the carrion is, the eagles gather (Luke 17, 37) – is immediately added (C. 24, 23-28): this is where the unbelievable confusion comes from, which we have already characterised as such above *).

*) Luke had already used the image of the lightning earlier: Jesus says: he saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (C. 10, 18. Cf. Is. 14, 12: πώς εξέπεσεν εκ του ουρανού και έωςφόρος). It is he who first used the same for the appearance of the Messiah. He took the saying about the eagles from Hab. 1, 8. Job 39, 30.


We only note that Matthew first speaks of a sign of the Son of Man, which will then appear when those signs are seen in heaven – as if these heavenly signs were not the last sign of the imminent coming of the Messiah! – We note only briefly that Matthew will know very little to answer the curious people who want to ask him what this sign consists of and how it relates to the preceding heavenly signs and then to the actual appearance of the Messiah – after all, his mention of this sign is only a reworking of the saying about the lightning, which he had just copied from Luke – we note just as briefly that Matthew used Luke’s note of the fear of the people at that time as a signpost to that saying of Zechariah that the tribes will lament **); we note at last that we have the decision on the question suggested by Wilke, whether the repeated mention of the false prophets (C. 24, 11. 24) already originated with Matthew or only with a late Glossator, we gladly leave, although we believe Matthew to be capable of everything and have come to know him as the master of incoherent exposition, to a time to decide which has less important and urgent things to deal with than ours, and now, after all these miserable drudgeries which the confusion of secondary relations had loaded from our throats, we pass on to the explanation of the primordial account.

**) Zacharias speaks of πασαι αι φυλαι, namely of Israel, and says of them κοψονται, C. 12, 10 – 14. Matth. 24, 30 has made it: κόψονται πάσαι αι φυλαί της γης.


3. The Resolution of the Original Account.

When the mystery of the origin of the Synoptic Gospels is solved, the question of the origin and meaning of the discourse on the coming of the Son of Man has not only received its proper form, but also its solution. The question is not only whether Luke, by virtue of his late experience, was able to confuse the original relation by the forcible mention of the destroyed Jerusalem, but rather, now that we have been freed from all groundless transcendence and are in a position to speak rationally and intelligently,
we must ask whether Mark’s speech looks as if it were written before the destruction of Jerusalem. Do we still consider answering the question with a decisive “No”? How? The speech is prompted by the fact that Jesus’ attention is drawn to the greatness and power of the temple building, he declares that not one stone of it will be left out of another, he sits down on the Mount of Olives in the face of the temple to speak of the last things and his Second Coming, and yet in the speech itself Jerusalem is not mentioned? Why is the temple, the holy city, the Jewish state not remembered? Because all this had long since come to an end! Because everything that was necessary had been agreed in the entrance when Jesus said: “Not one stone will be left upon another! An evangelist who wrote before the destruction of Jerusalem would have taken quite a different view of the temple, of Jerusalem, of the Jewish people. In that preliminary utterance of Jesus, Mark did enough to satisfy his interest, which demanded that the Lord had prophesied the destruction of the temple, now long past; now, however, in the speech proper, he describes the catastrophe – well, which one? – the one prophesied by the prophets, whose image he only gives more support by the force of the Christian principle *) and for whose representation he uses more limited empirical circumstances – such as those in Judea may flee to the mountains! – were used as illustrations or processed into categories. Those Jewish magicians who appeared as prophets and promised to redeem their people **) have become such a category; the desecration and destruction of the temple has also already become such a category – as a sign of the last crisis – hence that cautious and general expression “standing where it must not stand”, which Luke and Matthew no longer knew how to appreciate – and under the influence of this category is also formed the circumstance that Jesus held this speech in the face of the temple.

*) Just to remind you of a few things! That the messengers of salvation will be placed before kings, but will also stand before the highest worldly court, Mark learned from Ps. 119, 46: ελάλουν εν τοις μαρτυρίοις σου εναντίον βασιλεων και ουκ ηοχυνομην. That the people of Judea flee to the mountains Ezekiel 7, 16 taught him. To Mark 13, 15. 16 compare further : Jer. 6, 25: μη εκπορεύεσθε εις αγρών και εν ταις οδούς μη βαδίζετε, ότι δομφαία των εχθρών παροικεί κύκλωθεν; the latter provision Mark has not used, e, because he does not want to bring out the empirical conditions in their seriousness, rather he is far beyond them. Luke 21, 28 – Is. 51, 6. the signs of heaven find described Is. 31, 10. the eternity of the word of Jesus – Is. 51, 6. Is. 40, 8. Ps. 119, 89.

**) Compare Joseph. bell, Jud. Lib. VII, XI, 1. II, XIII, 5.


Mark has forestalled all dangerous questions about the length of the crisis by appealing to the divine reckoning of time and, moreover, he rejects them completely with the remark that one cannot know how soon the crisis will be resolved and with the admonition that one should rather pray and watch, since the hour could strike at any moment.


4. Exhortation to vigilance.

Mark I3, 28 -37.

But in the same generation, Mark thinks, in which he lives and writes, the crisis would come. Just as one can see from the transformation of the fig tree that summer is near, so also the disciples, when they see all this happening – so now it has not yet happened – should be certain that the end is near. But this generation would not pass until all things were done. Let this be as certain as the word of the Lord is steadfast and grounded. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not even the angels which are in heaven, save the Father. Watch and pray! You do not know when the time is. It is just as when a householder goes away and leaves his house, and gives his power to his servants, and tells each one his business, and the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore! Ye know not when the master of the house cometh, lest, when he cometh suddenly, he find you asleep. But what I say unto you, Jesus must say at the end, lest Mark betray the late age in which he wrote this discourse, I say unto all: Watch!

If patience were absolutely and in all cases necessary, then we have violated such a law by immediately setting our eyes on the original report and not working our way to it through Matthew’s confused account. But if we have violated one law, we can now all the more easily obey the one which requires brevity of us. We therefore only briefly note that this section of the speech of Mark is not only simple, clear and coherent, but also has a suitable conclusion and is in proper proportion to the form and extent of the preceding sections; of Luke’s revision of the passage we only note that he left the first half of it (Luk. 21, 29-33) intact, at least in terms of its limb structure, but that he reworked the second half into a very sluggish sermon on watchfulness, omitting the parable of the householder, deleting the remark that this applies to all, and in the middle between the two halves omitting the saying that no one knows the hour (vv. 34-36). We now proceed immediately to Matthew, and since we can no longer be alienated by the mass of repetitions and disturbing, at least progress-disturbing episodes in his work, since we can expect such a mass and torrent from the outset, we immediately set to work to explain how Matthew again arrived at such a superfluous accumulation of material.


The first section – the parable of the fig tree, the remark that everything will certainly be expected in this generation, but that no one except the Father, not even the angels – “not even the Son” in Mark’s scripture is a late interpolation – will know anything about the hour and day (Matthew 24:32-36): all of this is faithfully copied from Mark. However, when it says further: “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the coming of the Son of Man,” and this comparison is further developed on the side of the image (v. 37-39), it is firstly disturbing that it is not further developed on the side of the matter, and disturbing that it is only later remarked: “You do not know when your Lord is coming” (v. 42), and the confusion reaches its highest point when the thought that then things will go miraculously and one will be accepted while the other is abandoned, which is not directly connected with either of the two remarks (v. 40-41), is developed in the middle. Matthew enriched and confused Mark’s speech by adding sayings from that variation which Luke composed using some of the same motifs, but in a different place. Luke, who also created the saying about the days of Lot, borrowed the saying about the days of Noah and the two people, one accepted and the other rejected (Luke 17:26-30, 34-36). (For the latter saying, compare Amos 4:7.)


Watch, Matthew continues, since you do not know at what hour your Lord is coming. Your Lord! Since the disciples, as servants of the Lord, are to be exhorted to watchfulness, how does the following parable of the householder, who would have watched if he had known when the thief was coming, fit in? It does not fit. Then comes a parable of the faithful servant, who is praised for his good fortune, because in the absence of his lord he obediently carried out his lord’s orders: But when that worthless servant says to himself, “The Lord will not come for a long time,” i.e. when in this way the transition is made to the counterpart, to the parable of the worthless servant, the confusion is delicious, for not a word had been said before about “that” servant. (Matth. 24, 42 – 51). But the matter does have meaning and context in Luke’s writing, which Matthew has so deliciously copied this time. Jesus had just spoken about his return and exhorted his followers to be watchful through a parable. Then Peter asked (that is, Luke is now processing the conclusion of Mark’s speech): “Lord, are you telling this parable to us or to everyone?” Jesus responds with the parable of the servant who faithfully carries out his master’s orders. Luke continues by describing the fate of the same servant based on his behavior; if that servant says in his heart, “My master is taking a long time to come,” he is given a different fate. But Matthew keeps the transition: “But if that servant” and makes him a servant whose fate is decided from the beginning, so he cannot explain how “that wicked servant” suddenly appears. (Luke 12:41-46.) In the speech about the last things, Luke leaves out the parable of the householder and the servant, and uses it to create the parable of the faithful or worthless servant. He adds the image of the householder and the thief (v. 39-40), and to keep the keyword “night watch” from being lost, he also creates another parable about the servants who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast. And what about Matthew? Because the Lord begins this parable with the exhortation, “Let your lamps be burning” (Luke 12:35-38), Matthew turns it into the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, by adding the contrast of the third parable (v. 42-46) to the situation and keywords of the first parable of Luke (v. 35-36).


5. The foolish and the wise virgins. 

Matth. 25, 1 -13.

Instead of dwelling on the remark that the exhortation to watchfulness had already extended far beyond all measure before the parable of the virgins, so that now the last thought of a measure is mocked by the new addition, we would rather draw attention to the fact that Matthew has not been able to fully process Luke’s parable, which he now wants to use for a new one.

It is usually assumed, or rather it is the generally prevailing explanation, that the virgins are the bridesmaids. But where is it heard that bridesmaids catch up with the bridegroom? Rather, he and his friends catch up with the bride. Is being clever or foolish of such extraordinary importance for the bridesmaids? We would think only for the bride; for her alone is it important to receive the bridegroom at the right time, and for her alone is the call: the bridegroom is coming! as all-important as it is assumed in the parable. Finally, how can bridesmaids so urgently, as the five in the parable do, demand to be admitted to the bridegroom, and what do the bridegroom’s words mean: I do not know you! if they are to be spoken to bridesmaids?

So nothing about bridesmaids! The bridegroom’s relationship to the bride is the basis of the collision of the parable. But does the bridegroom only come to the bride in the night to celebrate the wedding? And ten brides? Matthew has done nothing right in this parable. Instead of behaving like bridesmaids, the ten virgins behave like brides, and brides they are not, since, not to mention their number, they are treated like maids and servants by the Lord when he demands that they receive him with lamps on his nightly arrival. We have already explained the confusion when we said that the key words of Luke’s parable of the servants, “lamp, wedding, arrival of the Lord, late night”, ran together in Matthew’s mind, but did not unite into a sensible whole. Where he got the ten virgins from, he tells us himself when he immediately follows with the parable of the talents and suppresses Luke’s note that there were ten servants whom the Lord used for money transactions.


6. The talents.

Luke 19, 1,-28. Matth. 25, 14-39.

The king of Luke, on his departure, gives ten servants each a mina. When he returns, he calls them before him; the first, who gives account, has made ten minae, the second five, the third has kept his mina in the sweat cloth, and must now, while the other two are set over as many cities as they have gained minae, give his to him who has ten minae: for to every one that hath shall be given, but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

In the end, where things become serious, Luke only allows three servants to appear – at the beginning, he mentions ten servants to create the contrast that the first one who comes out later has earned as much with his share as all of them had received at the beginning together. Therefore, Matthew thought he could suppress the number ten and use it differently, and to completely suppress it, he only uses the more specific numbers of Luke to the extent that he entrusts five talents to one of the three, two to the second, and only one to the last. He could not give each of them only one and the same amount, as he no longer had that contrast at the beginning, so he gives them different sums of money, and then has to let the first win five talents, the second two talents, while the last buries his in the ground. He has thus given the parable a new turn, making the difference in earnings a difference in initial endowment from the outset, without, however, giving this new turn any particular support, since he only follows Luke’s one moral, that to those who have, more will be given, and vice versa. The determination that each would be given according to their particular ability (v. 15) had only unconsciously forced him into it, due to his preferred structure of the entire narrative.


By the way, he has made the matter more abstract. The Lord is not a king, but, in order to be like the Lord of Mark (Mark 13, 34), only a man who travels. He therefore does not let the talented servants be set over cities, but enter into the joy of the Lord, and the talentless servant he sends to that place which he has learned to know from Luke (Luke 13, 28) and to which – again according to his abstract manner – he so often sends inhabitants, the place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Luke has added a second interest to the parable, that the king returns because his citizens proclaim obedience to him by a message, and afterwards, when he had given an account to his servants, executes the disobedient subjects. Matthew was not able to make this move this time, and he made it much more inappropriate than Luke in this, or rather in that other parable of the wedding, and turned it into a formal war campaign against the rebels.

Matthew very wrongly believed himself justified in placing it here by the already unfortunate superscription which Luke gave to the parable, for even if Luke says that Jesus found himself moved to recite this parable in order to refute the opinion that the kingdom of God would be revealed immediately and not only after much labour, even Matthew did not dare to insert into the parable the remark that the Lord suddenly returned home – or he forgot it.

But with forethought he did not set the servants, who (v. 21, cf. Luke 16:10) were to be faithfully set over many things in small things, over so many cities as they had acquired talents, as Luke did, but “entered into the joy of the Lord,” because he has in mind the conclusion of the discourse, which describes the judgment and speaks of the sheep entering into the kingdom prepared for them, and of the goats being condemned to eternal punishment.


7. The sheep on the right hand and the goats on the left.

Matth. 25, 31-46.

If one would have asked Matthew how the present account of the judgment related to the one given above (C. 24, 31), he would have been very surprised, for he had long since forgotten it, when he now thought it fitting that the long discourse should finally end with an account of the judgment. Luke had encouraged him in this thought when he concluded his discourse on the last things with the exhortation that the disciples should make themselves worthy of being “brought before the Son of Man” (Luk 21:36). Matthew specifies that when the Son of Man (Mark 8, 38) comes in His glory, all nations will be brought “before Him” and when they are sorted out, the sheep will be placed at His right hand and the goats at His left. To this separation between sheep and goats the prophet Ezekiel had brought him (Ezek. 34, 17). The blessed of the Lord have done what the prophets Isaiah 58:7 and Ezekiel 18:7 commanded, and if in their righteous modesty they cannot find their way into their immense praise, the Lord reminds them of what He once said to the tongues, that the good that is done to the least of His brethren is done to Himself. Finally, the Lord thunders at the wicked on the left with the same words with which he had threatened earlier and which the righteous man of the O.T. had already called out to the wicked: “Depart from me, you wicked, you cursed! *)

*) Matth. 25, 41; πορευεσθε απ εμου οι κατηραμενοι (contrast ευλογημένοι v. 34).
Matth. 7, 23: αποχωρείτε απ’ εμού οι εργαζόμενοι την ανομίαν.
Ps. 119, 115: έκκλίνατε απ’ εμού πονηρευόμενοι.



§ 80. Speech against the scribes and Pharisees

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

by Neil Godfrey

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 3



§ 80.

Speech against the scribes and Pharisees.

Matth. 23, 1-39.

1. The seat of Moses. 

Matth. 23, 2-4.

It is a good thing that in the beginning of a long speech against the scribes and Pharisees, the audience is reminded that they should not let the wickedness of the person and their actions keep them from following their teachings: The scribes and Pharisees sit on the seat of Moses,” v. 2, 3. “All things therefore which they say unto you, that ye ought to observe, observe and do. But do not do according to their works, for they say it, but do it not. “But then, in the same discourse, the doctrines of the Pharisees and of the scribes should also be mentioned, such as, for example, the doctrine of the oath in vv. 16-22, which prove that the people must also be warned against the doctrine of these people. Still less, however, should we have passed over from their characterization as preachers of the Law of Moses to their description as inventors of an intolerable tradition, as if we were still speaking of the same significance of the scribes. “For,” it says immediately v. 4, “they bind heavy and unbearable burdens, but with their finger they will not stir them” – “and not with a finger will ye touch them”, so writes the man from whom Matthew borrowed this saying, Luke, whose saying Matthew associated with that other saying which in his time was probably already regarded as a saying about the hypocrisy of the teachers of the law, Luke, who first elaborated the woe-cries against the Pharisees, which Matthew even began with: Woe to you Pharisees, although the persons addressed are not present and rather only the people were to be instructed about their nature. Luke can have the Lord say: woe to you because the Pharisees are sitting with him at the table. But at table, now that Jesus was invited as a guest by one of the Pharisees? Should we really spoil the joy of Luke’s account, of this stormy interlude from the life of Jesus, by a lengthy argument? So be it, but on condition that I never again need to mention the name of a theologian in the course of this work.


2. A stormy intermezzo.

Luke 11, 37.-12, 1.

While Jesus was still speaking to those who had demanded a sign from him, a Pharisee invited him to breakfast. He immediately accepted the invitation, entered the house, reclined at the table, and immediately, when the Pharisee showed his surprise that he did not wash before the meal, he spoke out against the Pharisees with the words: “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” (Luke 11:39). After the Pharisees were further rebuked, a new incident follows: a law teacher takes the opportunity to remark that the preacher of punishment also insults his class, and now with the introduction “Woe also to you, experts in the law!” the thunder against the law teachers begins, first that they burden the people with unbearable loads but refuse to lift a finger to help them (Luke 11:46).

Schleiermacher feels a true joy in his heart that it was just a breakfast to which Jesus had accepted the invitation this time, for, he said, at a proper evening meal “he would hardly have neglected to wash, that would have been a deliberate breach of custom” *). But is not this violation considered and presented by the evangelist as a deliberate one, when Jesus contrasts inner and outer purity and declares himself against the Pharisaic concern for appearance?

*) a. a. O. p. I79 -181.


According to Schleiermacher, the Pharisees demonstrated their hypocrisy by inviting Jesus, and it is against this hypocrisy and their hostile attitude that the speech in Luke 12:1-12 is directed, which begins with the warning against the yeast of the Pharisees. “The intensity of that dispute caused that great crowd (Luke 12:1 ‘Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another’), which, it seems, freed Jesus from the intrusiveness of the Pharisees for this time.” Jesus spoke so loudly and terribly that tens of thousands gathered together!

But Schleiermacher further assumes that Jesus’ speech against the Pharisees took place “after breakfast, when they were already outside and could again be observed by the people. The Pharisee did not come forward with his reproach about the omitted washing until after breakfast,” and yet it says in v. 38, 39, “when the Pharisee saw it, he was amazed,” and Jesus immediately starts against the hypocrites. Schleiermacher ponders over this and bases his argument on the fact that the end of the meal was not mentioned. And yet it was only not mentioned because it was not worth mentioning after such a great battle against the Pharisees had been described, because a proper tact prevented the evangelist from mentioning it, in short because this setting of a breakfast for such a great battle proved in the end much too petty. How would it look if at the end of those prophecies it were reported: and then the breakfast was over. The note about the hostile attitude of the Pharisees (Luk 11, 53. 54) does not want to say what Schleiermacher hears from it, that the Pharisees already wanted to go over to violence, from which Jesus was only protected this time by the fact that the people were summoned by the noise of the quarrel in tens of thousands and fortunately arrived very quickly; indeed Luke does not even want to speak of violence, but he only says: from now on they tried to catch him by putting dangerous questions before him.


No! No! replies Paulus, when we are surprised that Jesus, while still at the table, so severely accuses the people of whom he was invited to breakfast and whose invitation he had immediately accepted, that he even speaks of the bloodguilt that should be smelled on them. No! No! says Paulus, Jesus was right to speak so, since he indeed “noticed murderous fury, dogged (!) rage in those present” *).

*) Handb. II, 115.

Indeed! Jesus at breakfast! Cries of woe over the blood-guilt of the people with whom he is breakfasting! So great a noise that crowds of tens of thousands hurry up! Everything is right, if the letter is right!

But Luke has only cast the story of Mark about the dispute about purity into a new form, because he wanted to enrich it with new elements. That he reworks this narrative is evident from the fact that Jesus first speaks of a contrast between “from without and from within” and then (b. 46), at the new point of evidence, immediately of the burden of the Pharisaic tradition.


3. The seeking of precedence.

Matth. 23, 6 -12.

Now, if Matthew, in v. 6, wanted to borrow from the speech as delivered to him by Mark the reproach that the Pharisees have the first place in the synagogue and let themselves be saluted, if he wanted to take occasion from this to work out a sermon on humility – for it is his work when he writes: they like to be called masters, but you do not let yourselves be called masters, for One is your Master, Christ etc. – Finally, when he, in order to strongly recommend the duty of humility to his readers, copies the saying about self-abasement *) from Luke (C. 14, 11), he should at least not have thought that with this sermon he was still following the same path that he had taken immediately before when he accused the Pharisees of hypocrisy (v. 5).

*) The elements for his statement provided Luke with several quotes from the Old Testament, for example Ezekiel 21:26.: εταπείνωσας the high and elevated the humble. Ps. 113, 6. 7. said Jehovah ταπεινά έφορών… and raised up from the land of the poor. Ps. 138, 6. Judith 9, 11. That Luke knew how to appreciate the book of Judith, we see from his praise of Mary: for we hear how the priest Osias greets Judith after her heroism (Judith 13, 18): ευλογητη συ θυγάτηρ τω θεώ τω υψίστω παρα πασας τας γυναικας τας επι της γης.

Isa. 5, 21 : ουαι οι σθνετοι εν εαυτοις: compare Luke 10, 21.

Isa. 26, 5: ὃς ταπεινώσας κατήγαγες τοὺς ἐνοικοῦντας ἐν ὑψηλοῖς· πόλεις ὀχυρὰς καταβαλεῖς καὶ κατάξεις ἕως ἐδάφους: compare the saying about Capernaum Luke 10, 15.

Sirach 3, 18. Οσω μεγας ει τοσοθτω ταπεινου σεαυτον: compare Luke 14, 7 – 11.

Luke took the elements of his Sermon on the Mount from the O. T. Comp. the original text Isa. 65, 5: “who seize you and cast you out for my name’s sake” and Luk. 6, 22. Ps 109, 28: καταρασονται αυτοι και ου ευλαγσεις: compare Luke 6, 28. Also the sayings Proverbs 25, 21 and Luke 6, 27. Ps. 103, 8: οικτιρμων και ελεημων ο κυριος: compare Luke 6, 36.

The basis of the parable of the house, Luke 6, 48. 49, is found in Luke 13, 11. 14. Proverbs 12, 7.

Matth. has also done his part. Isa. 61, 2: παρακαλέσαι πάντας τους πενθούντας – Matth. 5, 4. Ps. 37, 11: οι δε πραείς κληρονομήσουσι την γήν = Matth. 5, 5. Sirach 7, 14: μη δευτε-ρώσης λόγoν εν προσευχή σου and Sprache 10, 19 – Matth. 6, 7. The saying of the look and heart Matth. 6, 20. 21 is contained in Sirach 29, 11. Ps. 62, 10, after Luke 12, 33 the keywords from Isa. 51, 8.

To add some more ! Ps. 55, 22 : επίρριψον επί κύριον την μέριμνάν σου και αυτός σε διαθρέψει == Luke 12, 22. Jes. 41, 14: μη φοβού Ιακώβ ολιγοστός Ισραήλ, εγώ εβοήθησά σοι λέγει ο θεός σου, και λυτρούμενος σε Ισραήλ == Luke 12, 32. lingu. 19, 17: έλεγξον τον πλησίον σου πριν η απειλήσαι και δός τόπον νόμω υψίστου == Luke 12, 58. Isa. 49, 12 : ηξουσιν από βορρρά == Luke 13, 29. Sirach 7, 10: μη ολιγοψυχήσης εν τη προσευχή σου == Luke 18, 1. Isa. 8, 12. 13: τον δέ φόβον αυτού του μη φοβηθήτε …. κύριον, αυτών αγίασατε και αυτός εσται σου φόβος nachgebilber in Luke 12, 4. 5. 

The σκάνδαλα Matth. 13, 41 find borrowed from Zephaniah 1, 3 (Urtext).

Concerning Mark compare e.g. Ch. 3, 27 with Isa. 49, 24. 25 : μὴ λήψεταί τις παρὰ γίγαντος σκῦλα; ….. ἐάν τις αἰχμαλωτεύσῃ γίγαντα, λήψεται σκύλα· λαμβάνων δὲ παρὰ ἰσχύοντος σωθήσεται.  Ezek. 3, 27 : ὁ ἀκούων ἀκουέτω == Mark 3, 9. Proverbs 28, 24. Mark 7, 11. Ps. 49, 7. 8 == Mark 8, 37.

Compare also (Mark 4, 36 – 41) the story of the calming of the storm with Ps. 197, 24 – 31 and Jon. 1, 5. 6. 12.


4. The prophecies.

Matth. 23, 13 – 33.

Luke’s speech against the teachers of the law closes with the woe: you have taken the key of knowledge; you yourselves do not enter, and those who want to enter you refuse (Luk 11, 52). Matthew, who still has in mind the key to the kingdom of heaven from before, has made the following woe out of it: you shut up (v. 13) the kingdom of heaven from men, you do not enter and you do not even let in those who want to enter.

This is followed by woe to the hypocrites who eat widows’ houses and pray a lot for the sake of appearances (v. 14), formed after Jesus’ original speech in Mark.

The woe over proselytising and the sophistical distinction of oaths (vv. 15-22) belongs to Matthew alone.

Luke’s “woe” over the hypocritical tithing “mint, rue, and every kind of garden herb” (Luke 11:42) – Matthew says: “mint, dill, and cumin” – is further enriched by the last synoptic with the accusation that these “blind guides” strain out gnats but swallow camels (verse 23-24). But Luke would hardly have imagined that later scholars would take his deliberate exaggeration seriously and swear that the Pharisees had also paid tithes from the coin and the rue.


Luke (C. 11, 39 – 41) has explained the contrast between the inside and the outside in this way: the Pharisees keep the outside of their dishes pure, while they themselves are full of robbery and wickedness in their inside; but they should consider that he who made the outside also made the inside, and they should only give what is inside as all things, so that everything would be pure for them. Matthew, though it is in itself very simple, found it too difficult and involved: he now makes the cups and bowls the only object of consideration (v. 25. 26): the Pharisees are accused that their cups and bowls are kept clean by them on the outside, but on the inside they are full of robbery and “uncleanness”, but they should rather keep the inside of them clean – but how? is not said – then the inside of them would also be clean.

The comparison of the hypocrites with tombs, on the outside of which one cannot see what they contain, and the remark that the experts in the law, by building tombs for the prophets who killed their fathers, confess to the deeds of their fathers (Luke 11:44, 47-48), both sayings that Luke keeps far apart, Matthew not only elaborates further, but also, as was to be expected of him, brings them into direct contact because of the mere word “tombs” – he even says “graves” twice (verse 27-32).


5.The blood of Zacharias.

“Therefore”, it now says, after the Pharisees and scribes have been exposed as prophet murderers, in both further – but no! while in Luke (C. 11, 49-51) it says: “Therefore Wisdom also said, I will send unto them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill, and some they will persecute; that there may be reclaimed from this generation all the blood shed from the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel even unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple; yea! I tell you, it will be reclaimed from this generation”, Matthew has Jesus say (v. 34-36): “Therefore, behold, I send you”, i.e. Matthew has now given the theologians cause to ponder whether Jesus is speaking here in His own name, namely in the name of His authority, or whether He is only speaking like the old prophets in the name of Jehovah, etc. – thus I see Jesus as a prophet.
I send you prophets, wise men and scribes” – a new reason to wonder to what extent Jesus’ apostles can be called scribes! – Matthew goes on to say: “and you will kill and crucify some of him, and scourge some of them in your synagogues, and persecute them from one city to another”, i.e. without engaging in musings: Matthew has described more clearly than Luke the sufferings which, according to the experiences of Christ and the apostle Paul, await every teacher of the kingdom of heaven – but finally he names Zacharias more closely as the son of Barachias – but whether he hit the right note here or thinking of the Old Testament martyr Zechariah and only confusing his father Jehoiada with the father of the prophet Zechariah, can be of no consequence to us; In Luke, the Zechariah who is murdered between the altar and the temple is the same Zechariah who was killed in the temple by the Jewish Zealots shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem and who was a son of Baruch. If the beginning of the world is reckoned from the blood of Abel, if the blood of all prophets is to be smelt, then the final date must also be the most extreme – Luke reckons up to Zechariah of the Jewish war and thus commits the same oversight that happened to him in the Acts of the Apostles, where he lets Gamaliel speak of Theudas as of a known person.


Some theologians have been so bold as to acknowledge the truth and thus claim that Jesus prophesied the murder of that Zechariah – but they have forgotten to teach us how the people, the disciples or the Pharisees could understand this prophecy when Jesus speaks of the blood of this man as if it had already been shed.


To explain the words (Luke 11, 49): The prophecy of God said: I will send to him prophets and apostles, and they will kill some of him and persecute others”, we do not need to assume that Luke is citing an apocrypha which has been lost to us – rather, he only has in mind the speeches of Jehovah which deal with the mission of the prophets and the suffering among the unbelieving people, and furthermore, he remembers a saying in which the equipping of the prophets is attributed to wisdom *).

*) Jer. 44, 4: απέστειλα προς υμάς τους προφήτας … ουκ ήκουσάν μου. Wisdom of Solomon 7, 27 : προφήτας κατασκευάζει.



§ 79. The fight between Jesus and his opponents

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

by Neil Godfrey

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 3



§ 79.

The fight between Jesus and his opponents.

Mark 12, 13 -40.

As the people have their outpost in the blind man of Jericho, so representatives of the learned and influential power of the capital had appeared before (C. 7, 1.) to show the Lord what to expect from his opponents. Now that Jesus had come out in Jerusalem, and with the cleansing of the temple had proclaimed himself not only the judge of the decayed theocracy, but also the one who must accuse the corrupt leaders of the church of unfaithfulness and take over the leadership of the host in their stead, the superiors decided to overthrow him, but for fear of the people who clung to him, they decided to tread carefully and now sought to catch him by asking questions about difficult points of contention. The fight becomes a learned contest.


1. Overview.

First – we turn immediately to the writing of Mark – they send off some of the Pharisees and the Herodians to catch him with one word. They ask him about
the tribute and are astonished at him when he solved the matter so surprisingly simply.

Then the Sadducees also turned to him, but when they had given him to consider the folly of believing in resurrection, they had to hear that they were very much mistaken on this point.

This is the terrible battle! Jesus has emerged victorious, the matter becomes milder, a scribe, who had been listening to the learned contest, sees that Jesus has answered well, and therefore puts a question to him about the first of all the commandments. Jesus tells him which commandment it is, the matter ends amicably, the scribe praises and approves the answer, adds that obedience to this commandment is better than sacrifice, and Jesus remarks to him in response to this intelligent answer: “You are not far from the kingdom of heaven.”


But now no one dares to ask him any more and so Jesus now takes the opportunity to present a question himself in order to shame the opponents. It is the question about David’s son. No one, of course, can confront him, but the people, who had gathered in great numbers, listened to him with pleasure, and in teaching them, he gives that thunderous warning to the scribes.

That Matthew had already set the entrance to this contest in confusion, we have already noted. The note that the opponents “left him and went away” is later attributed to Mark and is placed at the end of his account of the interest, although he had already attributed the one conclusion of this story: that the opponents were astonished.

Then (C. 22, 23) the Sadducees appear, but since at the end of Jesus’ answer he writes [die drucker?]: He goes further in the following part of the original report, taking up the note about the people’s approval, the note which is only in its place at the end and before the exhortation about the scribes, and says: the multitudes were astonished at his teaching (v. 33).

He took away its friendly character from the negotiation for the highest bid; a law teacher throws it on, who appears before the Lord after an agreement of the Pharisees, and the Pharisees felt encouraged for this new undertaking against their enemy, because they – what a beautiful reason! especially after their early defeat! – had heard that he had silenced the Sadducees. Of course – as Matthew was still very consistent this time – the friendly conclusion is not missing, that the scribe approved of Jesus’ answer and also earned the approval of Jesus. The report concludes with the indication of the highest bid. But in order not to leave the conclusion too bare, Matthew must replace Jesus’ words (Mark 12:31): “There is no greater commandment than these” with the fuller formula: “On these two commandments depend the law and the prophets.”


Again the Pharisees come together and Jesus asks them about the formula: Son of David, i.e. Matthew has changed the position of the matter in such a way that Jesus is no longer the aggressor, and the note that no one dared to ask him, which had to precede the question about the Son of David, he has put in the wrong place, because he put it only after Jesus’ statement about the Son of David.

Now follows – but it is not mentioned as in Mark that the people were present – in chapter 23, verse 1, the speech against the Pharisees in the presence of the people.

Luke still leaves the transition to the question about the tribute as he finds it in the writing of Mark, but he does not say that it was Pharisees who sent some of them to catch their enemy by a dangerous question: he rather calls these delegates people who imagined themselves to be just! (C. 20, 20). A very appropriate description in a story that was not in the least about Pharisaic self-righteousness! If Luke had preferred to use this formula of love (C. 16, 15), from which he even created the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector (C. 18, 9 -14), he would have used it. 18, 9 -14), as Mark said, that it was the Pharisees and Herodians who carried out the attack against Jesus and who first started the battle that was to be fought, because the purpose of this whole passage is obviously no other than to set all Jewish parties in motion against the Messiah and to let Him triumph over all of them.

Luke was therefore also very wrong to omit the question of the “scholar of Christ” about the highest commandment from this passage and to put the formula that no one dared to ask Jesus any more, the formula that is only in its place after the negotiation about the highest commandment, the formula that he himself puts in place after the rejection of the Saddueans (C. 20, 40), before the question of the deniers of the resurrection and at the end of the passage about the nugget of interest (v. 26). Of course, he speaks twice, when he says “they were silent”, “they dared not ask him any more”, in a way that it is clear that he wants to make the unfruitful and useless remark that these particular opponents did not dare to ask anymore. But this “anymore” after the dismissal of the Sadducees betrays him and accuses him of having misunderstood the “no one dared to ask him anymore” of Mark quite substantially.


After the dismissal of the Sadducees, the question about the son of David follows, and then the speech against the scribes. However, in the introduction to the former section, he, just like Matthew, wrongly neglects the transition that Mark provides: Jesus answered (that is, now that the opponents were defeated, he took the opportunity to ask them a question).

Luke has placed the negotiation for the highest bid in a random position, after tearing it out of its context. He reports on it in chapter 10, verse 25. However, he unfortunately reveals very inappropriately that he read it in Mark after the dismissal of the Sadducees, when he presents the scribe’s response “You have spoken the truth” (Mark 12:32) in the form of “Some of the scribes answered, ‘Teacher, you have spoken well!'” (Luke 20:39) after the refutation of the denial of the resurrection. Where did these scribes suddenly come from if not from Mark’s account?


2. The tribute

The story of the tax coin came into being in those times which, as the New Testament epistles teach us, had to deal very often and very variously with the question of how the congregation was to relate to the Roman authorities, even though the only answer was always the same, that obedience was not to be withdrawn from the authorities, although the only and true Lord was to be worshipped in the Messiah. The Christian principle, in itself destructive in nature and necessarily hostile to the world and the state, helped itself for the moment and for the empirical existing conditions with the information that one had to submit to what existed. But that the world would soon and completely be put to an end – this hope and certainty was not given away even when, once pressed by accusations, one patiently offered one’s neck to the yoke.


3. The resurrection.

The ponderings about the resurrection were also very much in vogue at that time, when one had to contend with the scoffers who did not want to know anything about the resurrection of the Lord. Of course, if Jesus is to decide on the question, it must be Sadducees with whom he disputes, just as it was fitting that Mark should also lead Herodians out of the place when it concerns a question which at the same time touches on politics.

If we only had Luke’s synoptic gospel left to us, we would have to think that the Christians did not consider their savior particularly skilled in the art of reasoning and deduction. After the question of the Sadducees about whose wife the woman who had lived successively with seven brothers in levirate marriage would be at the resurrection, a question intended to make belief in the resurrection ridiculous, Jesus answers in Luke (chapter 20, verses 34-38): “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.” (So, is that supposed to prove immortality and its consequence? It would either have to be proved first or, more boldly and from the outset, be taken as a presupposition) – they are like the angels, and they are children of God, since they are children of the resurrection. But the fact that the dead are resurrected has also! Moses showed in the passage from the bush where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But God is not a God of the dead, but of the living. All live unto him. But is there any proof of the resurrection beforehand, so that it can be said that Moses also proved it?


Luke misunderstood the account of Mark, thinking that in the first chapter, where the angelic likeness of the resurrected is spoken of, there was also an argument for the resurrection. For Mark, however, this is only an argument in so far as the objection raised by the Sadducees against the impossibility of the resurrection is thereby removed. Luke came to his wrong idea especially because of the fact that Jesus (Mark 12, 24) denies the opponents that they were wrong because they knew neither the scriptures nor the power of God. He quickly says that there must now be two proofs of the resurrection. But according to Mark, the power of God proves itself not only in the resurrection of the dead, but also in the transformation of men into angels; the power of God, therefore, is to support both parts of the argument; the proof from Scripture, and only now really the proof of the resurrection, is only given in the second part.

Matthew has remained faithful to Mark.


4. The highest commandment.

Luke has treated the question of the highest commandment extraordinarily well. He improved the passage greatly when he copied it from Mark. The divine art of sacred historiography is great.

Firstly, the question should be purely theoretical, as Luke himself indicates, but highly inappropriate, by adding that the questioner had the intention of testing Jesus (Luke 10:25). And yet, the same Luke, who adds this inappropriate indication, gives it a purely practical interest when he has turned it into the question of the rich man: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”


Furthermore, this is a beautiful tempter who, as soon as Jesus asks him what is written, immediately knows how to combine those two commandments of love for God and one’s neighbour, no! how to count them out like clockwork! A beautiful tempter, who parrots the discovery, which in the case of Mark is supposed to be a discovery of Jesus, and must certainly appear as such, like a catechism! Not a word more about it! That is what is supposed to be new, that there is no higher commandment than these two! And Luke makes the seeker complain about this discovery, so that Jesus now replies: you have answered correctly, while in Mark the scribe, moved by the greatness of the discovery, says to Jesus: you have spoken according to the truth, “for – hear! hear! – there is only One God”, i.e. there is also only One Commandment!

Beautiful tempter, whose mouth is not yet shut, who immediately asks: who is my neighbour (Luk 10, 29)! Nice connoisseur of the catechism, who does not yet know that! And how inappropriate, after what has been said so far, is Luke’s remark, this repetition of his formula, that this man wanted to make himself stretched.

A part – but only a part – of the blame for all these improvements was borne by the fact that Luke here – in order to teach who is next – wants to use the parable of the Good Samaritan. Because the Samaritan is set up as an example, because this strange tempter is to be challenged to imitation, Jesus must finally turn the matter around at the end, namely, ask who was the neighbour of the poor man who had fallen into the hands of the robbers, and the teacher of the law must then also answer (C. 10, 30 to 37).

Since the word Samaritan has just been mentioned, we can still – but it is not worth the effort to even casually remind us that Luke, in order to contrast the Samaritans with the ungrateful Jews, invented the story of the Samaritan who alone thanked the Lord for the deliverance from leprosy, while the nine Jews, who had received the same benefit at the same time as him, were inaccessible to the feeling of thanks. Luk 17, 11 -19*).

*) Luk 17, 13: ιησου επιστάτα ελέησον ημάς.
Mark 10, 47 : ο υιός Δ. ιησού ελέησόν με.
Luke 17, 14: πορευθέντες επιδείξατε εαυτούς τους ιερεύσι. In order to explain how someone suddenly converted, Luke creates the miracle that Jesus only spoke these words to them, and they were healed on the way as they were going to the priests according to his command.
Mark 1, 44 : ύπαγε, σεαυτόν δειξον τώ ερεί.
Luke 17, 19: αναστας πορεύου: η πίστις σου σέσωκέ σε.
Mark 5, 34: η πίστις σου σέσωκέ σε. ύπαγε εις ειρήνην.
The beginning of Luke 17:12 is a reproduction of Mark 10:46.


5. The son of David.

What do you think of Christ? Whose son is he? asks Jesus – as Matthew tells us, C. 22, 42 – and in fact the people hit it so well with their answer: David’s! that they bring the conversation exactly into the direction that Jesus himself probably already had in mind. How then – continues Jesus; as if he should not have said: but how – does David call him in the spirit? – i.e. David according to the dictates of the Holy Spirit, when he says: “The Lord says to my Lord: sit down, etc.” If, then, David calls him Lord – now comes the right turn of phrase – how is he his son?

How can the opponents, whom Jesus is to embarrass, set up even one side of the difficulty? How can the negotiation be dragged back and forth so long that we only find out at the end what the difficulty is? Jesus is supposed to carry out an attack, so he has to attack the opponents right at the beginning and embarrass them. Matthew has copied badly.

“How is it,” Jesus asks in Mark, “that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?” Now follows the objection taken against this assertion from that Psalm, and then at the end the knot is pulled together: whence then is he his Son?


Thus wrote the same evangelist who posed the question above: “How do the scholars of Christ say that Elias etc. “Mark 9, 11.

The difficulty we have already explained above could of course only be formed by the evangelist from the point of view from which it was considered certain that David was the author of that Psalm.


6. The gowns.

Mark 12, 38 – 40.

Mark has done very well in the speech of Jesus against his opponents – we would almost venture the tautology. It is short and to the point, but striking. Beware,” says Jesus, and he says no more and no less, “of the Christian scholars, who go about in robes, and are saluted in the markets, and seek the first seat in the synagogues, and the first place at dinner; who eat up the houses of widows, and pray much for a pretence! “

Do you not see the Christian scholars before you? All the Christian scholars, as they live and breathe?

O, hear how the robes rustle! 

“They shall receive the more condemnation. ” 

At the same place, Luke has copied the same speech verbatim, and from one keyword, he has formed his parable of the first seat at the banquet (Luke 14:7). But Matthew has placed such a long speech against the scribes and Pharisees here, and this speech grows so much out of all proportion in its excessive length and out of any context, that we can conveniently consider it in a separate paragraph.



§ 74. The rich man

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

by Neil Godfrey

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 3



§ 74.

The rich man.

Mark 10, 17 – 31.

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus replied, “No one is good except God alone,” when someone fell at his feet and begged, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” This phrase already leads in the introduction the same turn of phrase that is made in this section in various forms and should recommend to the believer the necessity of elevating to a final abstract unity. The reading in Matthew 19:17, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One is the Good,” while not completely meaningless, is a later gloss that is prompted by Matthew having put the strangely tautological question in the man’s mouth: “What good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?”


1. The dispatch of the rich man.

If you, Jesus continues after those words, want to enter into life, keep the commandments! Which ones? asks the rich man; – how terribly clumsy, as if the man did not know them! As if the progress should not be made from the commandments known to him to the commandments still unknown to him! – Jesus now enumerates the commandments, at the end also the commandment: love your neighbor as yourself, to which the young man replies: I have observed all these from my youth. What do I still lack?” and Jesus gives him to consider: if you want to be perfect, go and sell what is yours and give it to the poor. (Matth. 19, 16 – 22.)


Matthew wanted to leave nothing untried to prove to theologians that he was not the first creator of this narrative. As it has already been noted, how ridiculous the question of the adult man is, and we also point out in passing how foreign the commandment of neighborly love is in this context, where only the commandments of the Decalogue are supposed to be listed as the well-known catechism commandments. Matthew could not resist adding a fragment from that pericope of the highest commandment here. Furthermore, as Wilke has already noted very well, but theologians do not want to hear it, and yet these are truths that are revealed at first glance and are almost accessible to the mere mechanics of aesthetic judgment – how weak and absolute is the weight that is placed on the commandments when it is said: “keep the commandments if you want to enter life!” Now, where the old commandments are only to be mentioned initially after the question of the rich man, so that what is lacking even for the most obedient servant of them is indicated, where this lack is supposed to be the decisive factor for recognition, it would be appropriate to describe the commandments as the absolute?

And when the rich man asks, “What still do I lack?”, does he not already know what will be revealed to him by Jesus – that there is still something missing? And when Jesus finally says, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, etc.”, is it not too much that the commandment is presented as rigidly dogmatic and positive, while in Mark, who knows nothing of that formula, that demand only appears in its true audacity as a stroke of genius, which in fact and on the contrary rather meets and destroys the confidence of the legal spirit in its positive fulfillment of duty?


Thus it is beautiful and artistic and correct, as Mark – as the first – has presented the matter, that Jesus first speaks of the commandments – “you know the commandments: you shall not, etc.” – and then only when the rich man remarks, “I have observed all this from my youth,” makes him aware of it with a painfully loving look:  One thing you still lack, go, sell and follow me and – what the other two have left out – take the cross!

Luke C. 18, 18-23 is faithful to Mark.


2. The rich and the kingdom of heaven.

After the rich man had sadly left – as demanded by the contrast of Christian belief and as was necessary for the following sayings to be written – Jesus remarked: “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were greatly dismayed and asked who then can be saved, to which Jesus replied, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” – (but not with God alone! Contrast in Mark) – “For man it is impossible” – (of course, after that contrast, Mark writes: “But”) – “but for God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:23-26)

That “again” of Matthew is only explicable from the scripture of Mark. Jesus remarks: how difficult it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven, etc. The disciples are amazed, but Jesus takes “again” and says – (we are inclined to concede to Wilke that the words τεκνα ———- εισελθειν must be struck out, although they can also be taken as a deliberate, painful resumption of the assurance: “how difficult”) – it is easier for a camel … Again, the disciples are even more shaken – this is the correct progression – they speak to one another: and who can be saved? from which follows that reference to divine omnipotence. Luke has squeezed the sentences together even more, and blurred the nuances of the original report – rightly, if he wanted to contract it – to such an extent that he also suppressed that “again”. (Luke 18:24-27.)


Once again! – perhaps we succeed in taking away all theological misunderstandings – when we say: Mark has worked beautifully and artistically! we are by no means inclined to offend art and beauty, just as little as we feel urged to violate the Christian principle – which Philipp. 3, 8 expressly declares everything but one to be filth, dung, ererement (σκυβαλα, Vulg. stercora) – and to ascribe to it, as the newer Christians do, an inclination to beauty and art which it abhors. Only in relation to the compilation of Matthew did Mark work beautifully, but in itself his work must fall apart again. The disciples marvel at the fact that a rich man will hardly enter the kingdom of heaven, and shaken, they ask: who can be saved? As if there were only rich people in the world, as if they themselves belonged to the rich, as if they had not, when they joined the Lord unconditionally, renounced all the treasures of the world. The Evangelist intended to conclude with a reflection on the divine power and grace in order to somewhat soften the bold statement he had made in the narrative itself, by juxtaposing it with another extreme, that of divine power and grace. In doing so, he forgot about the position of the disciples and also wanted to give us an opportunity to take a side glance at the fourth Gospel.


3 Nicodemus.

After we had fully analyzed in our critique of the fourth gospel the account of the conversation with Nicodemus in all its details, we remarked that we were not allowed to dissolve the core of the account. The character of the evangelist prevented us from doing so, since his imagination was anything but creative and “his reflection is only a weak, albeit excessively proliferating, parasitic growth that can cover a trunk but cannot form one.”

This trunk this time was the synoptic account of the rich man. Matthew may have made This trunk was this time the synoptic account of the rich man. Perhaps Matthew made this man a youth – strangely enough – because he reads in Mark that he appeals to his youth – perhaps also because he stands as Jesus looks at the man so lovingly and painfully. Luke made the man a “ruler,” and the fourth called this “ruler” Nicodemus. Just as in the original account the man addresses Jesus as “good teacher,” the first word of Nicodemus is also that word that Jesus is a teacher sent by God – but twisted into a thousandfold clumsiness. Just as Jesus rebukes the rich man for his address, it is also a rebuke, but twisted into senselessness, as Jesus’ first word to Nicodemus. Just as the rich man hears what he must do to enter life, so does Nicodemus hear what must happen to him if he wants to see the Kingdom of God. There Jesus speaks of the impossibility of a rich man entering the kingdom of heaven, so here – but degraded to absurdity – Nicodemus of the impossibility of his coming to see the kingdom of heaven after Jesus’ demand. Finally, just as Jesus flees to the idea of incomprehensible omnipotence there, in the conversation to the fact that the Spirit of God works even if one does not know how it works.

Once the Fourth Gospel reaches this boundary of the synoptic account (John 3:8), it is also at the limit of Nicodemus’ understanding, and the author allows himself to ascend even higher into more elevated realms.


4.The reward of sacrifice.

hat is said later in the synoptic report about the reward of sacrifice on the occasion of a remark of Peter by Jesus, could not be used by the fourth, since he wanted to involve the Lord only with Nicodemus, not with the disciples in a conversation and since, on the other hand, he had already explained sufficiently enough in the rebirth the higher potency of the renunciation of earthly possessions.

According to the above, Peter took the opportunity to ask: “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” (Matthew 19:27). A brave haggling over the reward, after complete renunciation was commanded and everything concerning the soul and salvation was left to the grace and omnipotence of God! Even the answer gives rise to a thousandfold offense. First, it is said that those who have followed Jesus will sit on twelve thrones in the regeneration, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, and then it is said of him who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, wife, children, or fields for the sake of Jesus’ name, that he will receive a hundredfold – what? – and inherit eternal life. It would be a heavy duty to renounce if one knows that one will soon sit on thrones and judge the tribes of Israel. It is a beautiful transition when first the eternal divine ruling power – thus the infinite – is promised and afterward only the hundredfold compensation. It is a great lack when first not only something so glorious but also something quite specific is promised, and afterward, one does not know what one will receive a hundredfold. And that is not called coherence when first – you who have followed me – are addressed to the disciples and afterward – whoever leaves – to everyone, as if everyone and the twelve disciples were the same.


Matthew has first formed Peter’s reward-seeking question. Mark lets the disciple somewhat more timidly and shamefully merely remark: “We have left everything and followed you”, from which Jesus – but in such a way that it applies to all his followers – remarks that “there can be no question of leaving and giving up” *), since one – listen to the exact distinction not observed by Matthew! – what one has given up, one will receive a hundredfold in this life and will inherit eternal life in the age to come. Matthew caused the enormous confusion by borrowing from Luke C. 22, 20 the document which endows the Twelve with the thrones of the Kingdom of Heaven and with jurisdiction over the twelve tribes of Israel, and interpolating it here. He also brought the dogmatic expression palingenesia only in that saying. Luke in the parallel passage faithfully followed the Mark, only that he says vaguely that in this life the abandoned would be restored in many ways.

*) as Wilke aptly renders the meaning, p. 228.

While the account in Mark differs advantageously from the work of Matthew, Peter’s reminder that they have left everything is still very affected, as it stands in disgusting contrast to the behavior of the rich man. The contrast and the preciousness of “See, we have left everything” is pretentious. The sentence “whoever leaves this and that will receive this and that, houses, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, children, or fields, a hundredfold in return” is the abstract work of the love of religion for contrasts and opposites. Specifically, this abstract implementation of the contrast is supposed to indicate the incommensurability of the reward.

In order to finally give them all their due, we must acknowledge that Matthew, in giving voice to Peter’s desire for reward, has brought to light the correct religious consequence of the original report.


5 The first and the last.

Matth. 19, 30. – 20, 16.

The parable of the laborers who, although hired at different times of the day and in some cases even at very late times, all receive the same wages “from the last”, which was agreed upon with the “first”, the first hired, this parable, as the teaching of which Matthew sets up the sentence: the last will be the first and the first the last, was first explained by Wilke in the whole sharpness of its meaning.

The parable does not want to teach equality “in” the kingdom of heaven, not the inadmissibility of a difference in degree, but, on the contrary, the absolute contrast that the Lord of the kingdom of heaven establishes at will.

The position of the first and the last is really reversed in the parable. The parable is the pure realization of the view of absolute volition, which is peculiar to the religious principle in its perfection, i.e. in its absolute separation from the natural conditions as well as from the morality of the people’s life, of the state, of the family. It is an apt expression of the revolution that must occur when the religious principle has withdrawn from all living, moral and definite content of the human spirit. Then indeterminacy reigns, pure arbitrariness. “Is it not lawful for me to do to my own what I will?” Matth. 20, 15.

The demand of the first, that their reward should be increased according to the measure by which the last are measured, is not acknowledged. The last are rather arbitrarily placed as the absolute, solely recognized ones before whom the first stand as the most rightful and rejected.

“The last receive, through the generosity of the distributor, the surplus that the first do not receive, despite believing they have the most founded claims to it. The happiness that is understood by that surplus” *).

*) Wilke, p. 371-373.


However, there was no reason at this time for the Christian principle to bring forth one of its most terrible lightning bolts and thunders. When the disciples, who had just received the most brilliant promises for leaving everything behind, were still standing there alone, it was not the time to preach a sermon whose evidence is thunder. Only because the topic of God’s grace was just mentioned, did Matthew believe he had the right to insert this parable, which speaks of the gift of salvation in a completely different context. The theme that Matthew used to develop the parable was borrowed from Luke, who, in a better context, namely after a sermon against the supposed claims of the Jews, formed the saying about the first and the last. In the Gospel of Mark 10:31, a later hand inserted this saying from Matthew’s account.

One should not say that the equalizing principle of Christianity brought freedom into the world. In the hands of religion, the truest principles – here that of universal equality – are always perverted and turned into their opposite – the idea of equality into that of arbitrary favoritism, the idea of spiritual equality into the idea of a privilege determined by nature, the idea of the spirit into that of an adventurous, thus unnatural nature. The true principles, in their religious form, because they blaspheme and reject mediation, are absolute error. As long as Christianity ruled, only feudalism prevailed; when peoples began to develop morally for the first time – towards the end of the Middle Ages – Christianity received its first dangerous blow, and a free people, real freedom and equality, and the overthrow of feudal privileges only became possible when the religious principle was properly valued in the French Revolution.


§ 73. Divorce

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

by Neil Godfrey

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 3



§ 73.


Matth. 19, I – 12. Mark 10, 1 – 12.

Now, when Jesus had revealed Himself as the Messiah to the disciples, and since He would soon be known as the Messiah to the whole people, Mark gives Him the opportunity to prove Himself as the new Lawgiver, as the perfecter of the old Law.


But is Mark the original evangelist? The most thorough and brilliant proofs which answer this question in the affirmative do not exist for the theologian, even if he sees them with his own eyes, and he must not acknowledge them, because otherwise, out of his fear of being rid of his wretched questions for once, he would have to renounce a fear in which alone his sense of self consists. He would become free, he would become a man; but as a theologian he must be a servant, he must be inhuman.

Although we know, therefore, that the theologian does not acknowledge evidence and is incapable of acknowledging the simplest truth, or rather because we know that we are not writing for the theologian, that there will soon be no more theology, because we are writing for free men and for those who want to become free, we continue to prove the truth, in itself most minute, but so decisive for the overthrow of theology, that Mark is indeed the original evangelist.

That Luke omitted the question of the Pharisees about divorce, that he only excluded the prohibition of divorce in his writing and introduced it with the affirmation of the eternal truth of the law, which found its end and fulfillment in Jesus (Luke 16:16-18), and what influence this statement had on the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, and that Matthew, because he followed both Luke and Mark, has the same statement twice, so that the order of the Gospels is already certain from this, we have already explained in detail above. Now we proceed with the analysis from another angle.

On the journey to Jerusalem, as many people followed him and “he healed them”, those Pharisees came to him with the question about divorce. A magnificent introduction to a discussion about the law in which Jesus, as the new lawgiver, should prove himself by healing the crowds! A magnificent introduction that could only come from the mind of a later theological apologist who always dreams of his Lord’s miraculous powers!


Mark does not say that many crowds followed Jesus – that is something only later writers would consider natural, that their Lord and Master would not lack crowds. Mark writes: the crowds came together to him again! Again! Do you hear? No, the theologian does not hear or see that Jesus previously traveled incognito through Galilee (Mark 9:30) and only stayed briefly in Capernaum to rebuke the disciples for their argument over rank. Mark continues: and as was his custom, he taught them again! Do you hear? Again! Now, as the final decision approached, Jesus gave himself to the people again – again! Again! Do you hear? – and he taught, as was fitting when the Pharisees approached him with a question about the law without further ado.

The theologian does not hear! But the stones will hear and accuse him.

Stones must be awakened from their sleep by the cries of the contradictions that Matthew has created in his thoughtless manner, and if it has not happened yet, it will happen through the terrifying roar of the following formula.


1. The journey to Judea.

Jesus, Matthew tells us, left Galilee and came to the region of Judea on the other side of the Jordan. A wonderful geographer, this Matthew! But an even more marvellous copyist! He knew so little of Palestine that he wrote down that meaningless formula, while he had the writing of Mark open before him. He did not see that Mark, when he writes: and Jesus comes into the region of Judea through the land beyond the Jordan *), strictly and correctly distinguishes both regions and only wants to indicate the route at the same time as the destination of the journey; for trifles of this kind the copyist had no eye and he now introduces us to a Judaa which also lies beyond the Jordan. Woe to the theologian who does not believe in this Judea!

*) Mark 10, 1, έρχεται εις τα όρια της Ιουδαίας δια του πέραν του Ιορδάνου.
Matth. 19, 1, ήλθεν εις τα όρια της Ιουδαίας πέραν του Ιορδάνου.


And woe to the theologian who does not combine his faith in the itinerary as given by Mark and Matthew with faith in the other itinerary as described by Luke. Jesus works in Galilee for six chapters and travels to Jerusalem for nine chapters. What a journey! First, when Jesus sets his face towards Jerusalem and begins his journey, he comes (C. 9, 52) to Samaria. What a journey! He finds the opportunity to send out the seventy! (C. 10, 1.) What a journey! How much Jesus negotiates during this journey, more than during His ministry in Galilee! What a journey! How often he is invited to breakfast by Pharisees! What a journey! So long is it, so much has happened since it began, that Luke must at last remind us again that Jesus went through towns and villages teaching and heading for Jerusalem! (C. 13, 22.) Oh, about the wonderful journey! Again so much happens that Luke again finds it necessary to remark that at this moment the Lord is on the way to Jerusalem and travelled through the middle of Samaria and Galilee (!!)! Glorious destiny! Right through the middle of Samaria and Galilee! Right through – after the Lord had long since left Galilee and would have long since passed through Samaria …. yet not a word more about it! Finally, after Luke has filled his bag of notes and created those wonderful resting points of his travel description, he arrives on his journey at the point in the writing of Mark where the Lord says to the disciples: look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and he does not hesitate to write down these words after all his earlier hints that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem (C. 18, 31).


The theologian must not let this journey spoil him: he must believe it! In faith he must follow his Lord on it! Through the midst of Samaria and Galilee! And at the same time – for Matthew also wants to be heard – through Judea beyond the Jordan! Happy journey!


2. The prohibition of divorce.

Matthew, like Mark, tells us that the Pharisees intended to tempt the Lord with their question; but he cannot make us understand how there could have been anything dangerous in this question. It is said that Jesus was still in the territory of Herod Antipas, who had dismissed his wife and could become indignant if Jesus declared himself against the divorce; but this view is based on the assumption that a statement of the Baptist about that deed of Herod had already proved to be very dangerous, from an assumption, therefore, which no longer exists for us, which is nowhere hinted at in the report and which, if we think of the right route, is no longer worth mentioning. Others think of the dispute between the schools of Hillel and Shammai about the right to divorce. But if the masters in Israel disputed the matter, a free word was permitted, and if, in the worst case, Jesus gave offence to one party, he had recourse to the other. Others, like de Wette, combines both explanations and their wisdom would be admirable if nothing and again nothing could ever become something.

The question, in the form in which Matthew gives it, has nothing dangerous about it. If the Pharisees ask whether divorce is permitted in every case, they themselves presuppose it, or at least do not consider it an exaggerated strictness that it should be permitted only in certain cases, and for themselves it could be highly indifferent whether Jesus admitted more or fewer cases than they. In short, the question belongs to the ridiculous questions of that kind which already contain the answer and give it to hand. Matthew has already included in the question the answer that divorce is only permitted in the one case where the woman has broken the marriage through fornication.


And yet the answer of Jesus (v. 4 – 6) is of such a kind that it not only introduces another question, but also – the word is as strange as the matter – another answer.

Jesus asks the Pharisees if they had not read that God, when he created in the beginning, created man as male and female? So, he continues, a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.

Is it not clear that this answer presupposes another question? the question that we read in Mark? the question: may a man divorce his wife? Is it not clear that this answer has no exception and is designed from the outset to exclude any exception?

Further: if now the Pharisees (Matth. V. 7 – 8) ask: why then did Moses permit the divorce, if now Jesus continues, Moses did it because of the hardness of heart of the Jews, and if now the Lord assures: from the beginning it was not so: does not this assurance look very impotent, because it had to be unnecessary, if the above proof from the creation story would have had power, and is not this earlier proof accused of impotence by it? And is this powerlessness not even more admitted, if now that fearful clause follows, that (v. 9) in one case divorce is permitted?

Listen to Mark! In the question of the Pharisees he poses the general dilemma: “May a man divorce his wife?” Yes or no? Jesus asks: what did Moses command you? They answer: He has left the man free to give a letter of divorce and to dismiss it, i.e. now Mark has set up the one side of the collision, whereupon he can be sure that the other side wins, which represents the eternal law founded in the plan of creation opposite to the temporal law. Jesus remarks that the commandment of Moses had its reason only in the temporal heartiness of the Jews, from the beginning it was different and the eternal, primordial law must prevail: “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder. “With this, all that had to be said is said, the Pharisees are dispatched, the eternal has triumphed, and only afterwards, back home, when the disciples continued to ask about the same matter, Jesus states the positive commandment that divorce is absolutely not allowed.


In various turns, which are taken each time from the specificity of the matter and therefore cannot be called a uniform schema, I have shown how the portrayal of Mark is always and in every case both the original and exposed to the fate of complete dissolution. The sagacity of those brave and honorable people, who can only imagine that faithful discoveries are made so that they have the opportunity to show how far the limits of their wit extend in judging them, have perceived a contradiction in my calling Mark’s portrayal an artistic one and yet claiming that it is dissolved by its inconveniences. However, whoever understands me correctly and knows how to determine the measure of my aesthetic judgment from my critique will know – and I have expressed it clearly enough – that I call Mark’s portrayal artistic and beautiful only in relation to his incredibly clumsy copyists, and otherwise I am of the opinion and have proven that the Christian principle as such is incapable of art, especially the art of portrayal.


In the contemplation of real works of art – of a Homer, Sophocles – it will not occur to the reasonable man to ask whether they prove themselves as correct sources of history, and on the other hand it will be impossible to dissolve them into such a miserable nothingness as the biblical accounts, because they possess real coherence in the ideal world they depict and never contain such inconveniences as are peculiar even to the mode of representation of Mark.

The question of the Pharisees: whether divorce is allowed, contains – less clumsily than the question formed by Matthew – already in itself the answer, at least as a precondition the opinion that divorce is not allowed. But how can the opponents of Jesus think to tempt Jesus with this question, since they themselves start from the premise that divorce is a wrong? However, in this presupposition lies a collision with the Mosaic commandment, a collision which forms the only interest of this passage and is resolved in favor of the eternal law. But – now the other question arises – how do the Pharisees come to form such a collision? Must they not rather presuppose the truth of the Mosaic law without any wavering: and without even the thought of the opposite?

In the Pharisees, Mark speaks, a member of the Christian community who introduces a collision with the Mosaic commandment in this way in order to overthrow it through the idea of the holiness and indissolubility of marriage.

If, by the way, the originality of Mark is recognized and that clause in Matthew’s saying has betrayed itself as a later apologetic, theological, reflective emergency work, then we want to make it clear that the Protestant is guided by it when he swears by the holy scripture. The philosopher will adhere to the concept of marriage. So then both sides have done their duty.


The Protestant must – think of those indications of the travel route! – go even further: he must follow contradictory rules: marry to prove the indissolubility of marriage, and not marry for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The latter is recommended by Jesus to the young man as something noble, as they noticed after that conversation with the Pharisees: if it is so with marriage, then it is better not to marry at all. If the Protestant objects that this commandment was only significant for those times, then we ask him whether the kingdom of heaven, for the sake of which Jesus demands celibacy, was also only something temporal that had significance only for those times? The Protestant should therefore reflect on this while we, as critics, intend to deal with this saying honestly, not Jesuitically.


3. Celibacy.

Matth. 19, 10 -12.

How? So, if Mark has the disciples ask a question after that conversation, and Jesus’ answer is already given by Matthew, because he wants to introduce another topic, does he know, if he now also wants to introduce a corresponding dialogue, to let the disciples say nothing better than that under these circumstances it would be better not to marry? So because marriage is a difficult moral duty, therefore . . . .?

And what does Jesus answer? Does he rebuke the disciples for their low mindset? No! He thinks of something completely different and lets the disciples understand that the eunuchs who have become eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven – and not to avoid the difficult duty of marriage – have something quite amazing to signify.

That is, Matthew, who thought he had the opportunity to praise the gift of celibacy, did not know how to bring about this elegance.

He also failed to praise celibacy at the very moment when the sanctity of marriage was mentioned.


The Christian principle contains this contradiction, but in any case it was awkward to condense it so rudely and unconsciously.

Mark only later – in the passage of the rich man – involuntarily brings up this negative direction of the Christian Principle against the family (C. 10, 29). Matthew was in too much of a hurry and did not even think at that moment that in what follows the one who leaves his wife for the sake of the Son of Man and the Gospel will be praised.



§ 72. The little ones

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

by Neil Godfrey

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 3



§ 72.

The little ones.

Mark 9, 33-50. 10, 13 – 16.

The close connection between the account of the disciples’ dispute over rank and Jesus’ statements about His Messiahship and destiny, as demonstrated above, entitles us to examine this account in this section. Inwardly, it is connected with the other account of the blessing of the children, and our task will now be to determine the relationship between the two accounts, and especially to reconstruct the original account for the former, since even in the writing of Mark we are confronted with many disturbing elements and the precision of the presentation is nullified.

It seems, in any case, that the substance which both narratives deal with did not easily lend itself to a firm and clear representation. It is too soft and, due to its softness, difficult to digest; it is very vague and contains a thousand contradictions in its gelatinous state; it is not only unmanly but also inhumane. We will be brief, as our above investigations have already resolved all these narratives. We simply note: sentimental contemplation of childhood, once it becomes serious, is an attack on the dignity of reason and its education and goods. The child is precisely characterized by raw desire, self-will, and selfishness in their most disgusting form. Who among us would want to become a child again and discard everything he has acquired in terms of education in the company of men? And were not the disciples true children, considering everything that the Gospels have reported to us about them so far? Did they not just now commit a true childish prank when, after their Master’s remarks about His suffering, they knew nothing better to do than to argue about precedence? Instead of presenting the children as a model, Mark should rather have said: become reasonable and men for once! Until now you have only been little children. Children, become men!


1 The blessing of the children.

We will first consider the account of the blessing of the children, partly because it is the clearer, more solid one – but only relatively, for in itself it is also contradictory and impossible – and partly because we must already know it, in order to be able to decide on some interpolations which confuse the first account.

One brings – we do not know how it comes to pass, since the people have not yet heard that the Lord is such a great friend of children, nor can we understand it any better, since the Lord travels through regions where he had not previously appeared – children to him, so that they may touch Jesus, that is, as we will see later, but which Luke has left out at the end (Chapter 18, 15-17), and which Matthew has only hinted at briefly, especially in relation to the detailed introduction – he simply says (Chapter 19, 15): he laid his hands on them – so that he would put his hands on them and bless them. The disciples prevented the people who brought them: why? would only be understandable if they themselves had already become children, whose main passion is the most foolish envy. When Jesus saw it, he became angry and said to them: Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them, for such – τωνγαρ τοιουτων – is the kingdom of God. Such! That is, theirs is the kingdom of heaven, which they receive – as Luke writes in accordance with Mark’s command; Matthew has very wrongly left out this more specific designation – as a child.

The poor children! We mean the real children: what might they have done in their embarrassment while Jesus was teaching the great children, the disciples?


How embarrassed they must have stood there! Even more, that Jesus hugged and blessed them afterwards can hardly compensate for the fact that they must serve purely and solely as a means for Jesus to teach the great, adult children. Jesus says not a word about them, and they must only serve as a metaphor for the great children. Calvin indeed says that the expression “such” refers to both the little ones and those like them*; de Wette goes even further: because “it is necessary in the action of Jesus that he must speak about the children themselves, the expression ‘such’ refers back to the previous subject, the children”**). Indeed, it refers back to them, but – how long should one waste time on such children’s lessons? – in the way that they are only used as a substrate for a metaphorical expression. The children are and remain mere means, brought there only so that the Lord can use the metaphorical expression “little children”; that is, only the pragmatism of Mark brought them there, so that the command of humiliation and self-denial, which recurs so often in this section (Chapter 8, 31; – 10, 45) and is the main theme, can be expressed once in the form that bringing children gives the Lord the opportunity to impress upon his followers that one can only receive the kingdom of heaven as a child. The whole thing is extremely frosty, contrived, and without substance; it is everything that can be the opposite of living, healthy, and rational reality.

*) τοιουτων: hac voce tam parvulos, quam eorum similes comprehendit.

**) 1, 1, 160. de Wette thereby commits the other violent trick of referring to 2 Cor. 12, 2. 3. 5. The poor language has indeed suffered much when theology still ruled. Anyone who no longer feels like sacrificing the law of language to the most miserable of all passions, to theological passion, will see at first glance that Paul (v. 5) wants to avoid referring directly to himself and, as far as possible in this case, to reject himself by the expression τοιουτος.


Before we hear how Jesus commands self-abasement on the occasion of the disciples’ rank dispute, we note that later, when the disciples became displeased with the pretensions of the two Zebedees, he again demands self-abasement. Here, because the development of the theme is concluded, the speech is not only more detailed than before – the opposition to the worldly great ones and princes who seek dominion is carefully elaborated and then commanded: whoever wants to be great among you, be a servant; whoever wants to be first, be the servant of all – but it is now also stated that self-denial is the first duty of the followers of the suffering Messiah: “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life in payment for many. “(Mark 10, 41 – 45. Matth. 20, 24 – 28.)


2. The Ranking Dispute Among the Disciples.

If it is clear that all of those incidents are literary creations, so that the Lord has an opportunity to express how the followers of the suffering Messiah should behave, and if it is equally clear that the contrast aimed at with these incidents cannot be more obvious and crude, it may still be worthwhile to point out how the crudeness of Matthew’s layout is further elaborated. Mark had wisely refrained from allowing the disciples to openly raise the question of who was the greatest, and although Luke blurred the finer nuances of the original account and only reported, “There arose a dispute among them as to who was the greatest, and when Jesus – in a wondrous way – saw the strife of their hearts, he took a child” (Chapter 9, 46-47), he still retained this reluctance. But Matthew not only allows the disciples to openly and shamelessly raise that question before the Lord, not only does he allow them to speak as if it were a foregone conclusion that there was a supreme rank in the kingdom of heaven – thus incorporating the premise of the request of the sons of Zebedee with a modification in his account – but he also allows the disciples to ask as if they had already received the promise that one of them would have the preeminence in the kingdom of heaven. “Who is (αρα) the greatest then,” they ask, “in the kingdom of heaven” (Chapter 18, 1) – a very inappropriate reference to an earlier concession in any case. In the original Gospel, Jesus never gave the disciples any reason to fall into such childishness. On the contrary! Their question is supposed to provide a contrast to the preceding conversation about suffering, death, and the cross. Or, as Chrysostom suggests, the question may refer to Jesus’ recent grant of preeminence to Peter over all the others, in which case the matter was already settled and decided. Only one thing is certain: Matthew had nothing specific in mind with that transition formula, and the disciples’ question should have been absent from a Gospel that teaches about Peter being given the keys to the kingdom of heaven.


3. The exception of a little one.

After the childish question of the disciples, Jesus takes a child – we would like to know where it immediately came from, since according to the original account the discussion took place in the house where Jesus and the disciples had stopped after their journey; we would also like to see the embarrassed face of the poor child in the midst of the disciples, whom it was supposed to serve as an example – and after he has placed it in the midst of the disciples – a piece of cake would have been more welcome to the child – he says (Matthew 18, 2-5): Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this (!) child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes such a child in my name welcomes me.

First of all, in the first half of this saying, the two different ways in which the same thought is twisted and turned and sharpened contradict each other. At the beginning (v. 3) it says, “Whoever does not become like the children cannot enter the kingdom of heaven – that is, the kingdom of heaven in general. “Then it says (v. 4): He who is humbled like this child is the greater in the kingdom of heaven,” i.e. only now does the discourse return to the occasion and the first saying does not belong here; it belongs to the narrative of the blessing of the children, where Matthew omits it. But the second half of the saying also contradicts the first. When Jesus, in v. 5, continues without further ado, in the same breath, as if he were speaking in the best context, “and whoever receives such a child in my name receives me,” we cannot see any connection here, since the child is just now regarded as an object of imitation, now as an object of benevolent care, that is, according to very different considerations, which must be kept quite separate. The contradiction seems more tolerable when, in Luke’s account, the value of the one who receives the child in Jesus’ name is mentioned first, and only then is added: “Whoever is the least among you all is the greatest” (Luke 9, 48). Here, at least, the latter reflection does not separate the statement about receiving a child from that symbolic act of Jesus placing a child before them, as it does in Matthew’s account. The contradiction seems least problematic when, as we read in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus first sits down, calls the disciples over to him, and tells them: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9, 35), and only then takes a child, places it in the midst of the disciples, and speaks about the merit of the one who receives such a child. But it is precisely here that the contradiction has emerged most sharply. Luke and Matthew at least say that Jesus, before he begins to speak, performs the symbolic action with the child. This is quite in order, but less appropriate if Jesus should sit down beforehand and directly pronounce the teaching which he first wants to give through the symbol. *). Correct! We do not dare to remark that Mark himself, because all these passages deal with the same subject, has already prefixed the sentence which Jesus later utters on the occasion of the absurd demand of the Zebedees, the sentence (C. 10, 43), whoever wants to be great must be the servant, whoever the first, the last. We immediately take back this remark, since it is contradicted by the simplicity of Mark. Luke went first, because he later omitted the story of the Zebedees, Matthew followed him blindly, increased the contradiction and only a later hand inserted this saying (C. 9, 35) and the disturbing introduction to it into the writing of Mark.

*) Wilke, p. 220. 221.


Mark has directed all the power of his presentation to the one point he has set his sights on. He does not only say what Matthew alone has copied: “whoever receives one of these children receives me”, but has the Lord add: And he that receiveth me receiveth not me, but him that sent me. “This or a similar advice must follow, as is also said in the following saying, omitted here by Matthew, but so beautifully given above (C. 10, 42), of him who gives a disciple even a drink of water (Mark 9, 41.): “Truly, I say to you, do not lose your reward. “A prayer of this kind is also required because of the following description of the terrible punishment that would befall the one who offended one of the little ones who believed in Jesus (Mark 9, 42. Matth. 18, 6). Matthew has omitted this increase, because his work was already full enough for him through the preceding insertions v. 3. 4.

The saying about taking up children, which Paul understands with humorous seriousness as compassion for orphaned children *), can only be understood correctly when we see in it one of those Christian sayings that want to be understood seriously – like the saying about plucking out the eye – but whose meaning mocks itself and lifts itself up in a more general idea. The child who is taken in the name of Jesus – that is, because, as the disciples later say (Mark 9, 41), it belongs to Christ – is not intended to represent the lesser members of the community in a rational way from the outset – otherwise, why would so much seriousness be wasted on the placement of an actual child and the reference to it? – but neither is the statement meant to stop at the mere idea of a child or the absurd notion of a believing child. Instead, the statement gets lost in that unclear darkness of prosaic seriousness and its complete negation, in that darkness which Christian language loves and has created in this grandiose indeterminacy.

*) Ereget. Handb. II, 525.


The general meaning of the saying – this is certain – is that he too can be great, indeed do everything that makes him worthy of the kingdom of heaven, who does even the smallest thing, or only has the opportunity to do it, if he does it only in the name of Jesus. It cannot be denied that the bringing of a child into the discussion is very formal, very cold, and very forced. The whole meaning of the statement is even spoiled when we have to imagine how embarrassed the child must have felt being used as a tool to teach those adult children.

We have said that the saying about the merit of the smallest kindness shown to the disciples (C. 9, 41) immediately follows the saying about the reception of such children in the writing of Mark: we agree with Wilke’s apt remark that the intervening passage (v. 38 – 40) is inserted by a later hand from the writing of Luke (9, 49 – 50). Because Jesus says: whoever receives one of these children “in my name”, it occurs to John to “take occasion” and to “reply”: Master, we have seen one who casts out demons “in your name” and does not follow us. We have therefore resisted him. But Jesus answered, “Do not hinder him, for he who is not against us is for us.” A man who tightens the threads of the narrative as tightly as Mark would have written the three sentences, “Whoever receives one such child (v. 37), whoever gives you a cup of water (v. 41), whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin (v. 42),” one after the other, and would have been unable to insert such an inappropriate episode here. Only Luke, who knows nothing greater about the seventy than that even the demons were subject to them, was able to insert this episode here for the sake of the mere words “in Jesus’ name.” If, just as Moses’ spirit came upon the seventy of the Old Testament, so Jesus’ spirit also came upon the seventy of the New Testament, and they drove out demons in their master’s name, then the parallel continues. “There, in the Old Testament, a young man complains that two others who stayed behind in the camp and did not go out to the tent with him also prophesied, and he asks Moses to forbid them. But Moses answers, ‘Would that all prophesied!’ (Numbers 11:26-29). That is the story from which we have the counterpart in Luke 9:49-50. Luke 11:23 also places value on exorcising demons and presents it as a matter of interest. The statement of Jesus that is included here, ‘He who is not with me is against me,’ has a similarity to the one expressed here in verse 50: ‘He who is not against us is for us.’ So this passage belongs only to Luke. Luke does not have the verses from Mark 9:41 onwards. He moves on to something else with the interpolated episode, which is linked to the following story of the zeal that John showed against the inhospitable Samaritans and for his Lord and Master (Luke 9:51-56) by the order of things.” *).

*) Wilke p. 635. 636.


Mark did not yet know that episode. Matthew, who also did not yet read it in the Scripture of the primitive evangelist, passes immediately after the saying of the reception of such a child to the other of the trouble which is given to one of the little ones that believe; Luke could only include this statement later, and he not only included it very late, but also very inappropriately, by giving it the blue sky as a backdrop. (Luk. 17, 1 – 2.)


4. The trouble.

After Jesus warns not to cause offense to any of the little ones who believe in him, saying that the punishment for such a transgression would be severe, Matthew 18:7 follows with the statement: “Woe to the world for the offenses, for it is necessary that offenses come, but woe to the man by whom the offense comes.” We need not even remind ourselves that the following verses (v. 8-9) about the limb that should be cut off and thrown away if it causes offense, and the punishment for those who cause offense (v. 6) are necessarily related – the severity of the punishment is the connecting link between both statements, and the progression from the first to the second is based on the reflection that if causing offense to others deserves severe punishment, then we must also be mercilessly strict against the offenses that our own limbs cause. Even without this reflection on the following verses, it is clear that the idea of the necessity of offense (v. 7) is very awkwardly inserted here. This idea can be thought of at any time, but not where the sole purpose of the speech is to warn against any kind of offense. Marcus has developed this warning (9:42-50) from the original Gospel, while Luke has only taken the opportunity to elaborate on the necessity of offense and the misery of the one who causes offense (Luke 17:1-2), wisely omitting the verses from the original Gospel. Matthew has combined the work of his two predecessors.


5. The high value of the little ones and the lost. 

Matth. 18, 10 – 14.

If, as happens especially in the writing of Mark, but also in Matthew, there is such a detailed discussion of the limbs that give rise to offense, the little ones are forgotten. This is also why they have long been forgotten, because in the saying about offense, when it is said that one should not offend any of these little ones who believe in Jesus, the original substrate of the image is pushed aside. For are children really the ones who can be said to believe in Jesus? It is therefore extremely bewildering and inappropriate when Matthew now speaks of real children again, and the way he speaks of them makes the confusion even more colossal. “Take heed,” Jesus must remark in verse 10-11, “not to despise one of these little ones, for I tell you, their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. For the Son of Man came to save the lost.” This is followed by the parable of the lost sheep and, finally, the remark: “So it is also the will of your Father in heaven that not one of these little ones should be lost.

What confusion! It is clear from the mention of the angels that children are meant: they are the guardian angels who watch over the weakness and helplessness of the children! But can the children be called “the lost”? Every word about it would be lost and wasted with diligence and courage. Matthew copied the parable of the lost sheep from Luke and did not copy the following parable of the lost penny and son (Luk. 15, 1 – 32) at the same time, because otherwise it would have been impossible for him to cast an inappropriate retrospective glance at the little ones.


Matthew has even dulled the sharpness of the irony that is inherent in that glorious story of the lost sheep: of course! for first of all he had to shorten the parable very much in order to get back to his little ones, and the shortening had at the same time to be a weakening, because in order to enforce his game with the little ones he could not let the essence of the enormous contrast that is originally contained in that parable fully emerge. When he has found the lost sheep,” he assures Jesus, “he will rejoice over it more than over the nine and ninety who have not gone astray. I tell you,” says Luke, “there will be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over nine and ninety righteous people who have no need of repentance. Thus writes the evangelist who first worked out these parables of the lost according to the pattern of that original antithesis which he saw before him in the writing of Mark. But we must add that Mark alone worked out the contrast purely, when he contrasted the healthy and the sick, the righteous and the sinners; in the parables of the lost, this ironic contrast only appears at the end, while at the beginning the fallen and the not-fallen confront each other in a completely different way. Luke was therefore not happy when he used the Old Testament *): “I will seek out what is lost” with the antithesis that Mark has worked out. That he gave expression to the same irony in the story of Zacchaeus – but not with any particular luck – has already been mentioned above, and the way in which he weaves it into the story of the anointing of Jesus will be seen later.

*) Ezech. 34, 16 τὸ ἀπολωλὸς ζητήσω καὶ τὸ πλανώμενον ἐπιστρέψω


We have already had occasion to notice how the old Adam of modern theology does not want to know anything about the sharpness of this Christian irony. He must also grumble against the parable of the prodigal. The thought that the joy over one penitent sinner is greater than over 99 righteous ones, says, for example, de Wette *), is (!) conceived in human terms: man rejoices for the moment (!) more over what he has regained than over what he already possesses. “In religion, on the contrary, this joy is eternal! The “excess weight” of this joy, says de Wette **), cannot be attributed to God. And yet it is said in Luke 15, 7: “in heaven” there will be a preponderance of joy. Yes, replies de Wette, this is said “naturally only in figurative speech”. What is natural, however, is that the natural man does not want to know or acknowledge anything about heavenly things, and what is unnatural is that he wants to force his aversion to heavenly things on heaven itself!

Since we have once engaged with the theologians and the parable of the lost sheep calls upon us to do so, let us say with what satisfaction we hear it when Neander defines the difference between the fable and the parable to the effect that in the latter “the animals are portrayed in such a way as the law of nature entails” ***). Correct! The fable makes the animals act intelligently, freely and rationally, because it is the mockery of the servant against despotism and his witty self-liberation from the degradation to which a brutal despotism has condemned him. The fable can almost be called poetry, while the parable is the serious prose of religious necessity, lets the animal be an animal and ascribes understanding and will, power and wisdom only to the lord and master, the shepherd.

*) l, 2, 77.

**) 1, 1, 154.

***) L. J. Ch. p. 174.


6. Reconciliation.

Matth. 18, 15 – 35.

Between the preceding and the following exhortation to reconciliation, the evangelist seemed to see an internal connection in the idea that humans should be reconciliatory towards their fellow brethren who have wronged them, just as God shows care towards the lost. However, firstly, the evangelist should have indicated this connection in a transitional sentence, at least. Secondly, we must note that such an indication would have been surprisingly difficult for him, since there is no connection at all. Is the tendency of that parable of the lost to depict God as reconciliatory, or is it rather ironic towards the righteous, towards the healthy? Is not the ironic dialectic between the concept of the righteous and sinners its only content? So, what is the prosaic exhortation to forgive one’s neighbor doing here?

And even if the best connection were inherently present, it would be completely undermined by the way in which Matthew elaborates on the commandment of reconciliation. Is it appropriate when, in a context where reconciliation should be commanded, the painful judicial procedure is commanded, according to which one should first confront the brother who has wronged us alone, then, if it was unsuccessful, bring two others to confront him, then, if that too is fruitless, report him to the church, and finally, if he does not listen to the church, regard him as a heathen and a tax collector?

In the following, the author continues to write in what he believes to be the best context when he says (v. 18): “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and so on.” And when it goes on to say (v. 19-20): “if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” However, these statements are neither related to each other nor to the preceding one. Even if we were to understand v. 18 in terms of the power of excommunication, it was only previously mentioned (v. 17) that the disobedient person excludes himself from the church, or if v. 17 is supposed to present the church as an absolute judge, it is as a church, as a community, while the subjects to whom the power of binding and loosing is transferred in v. 18 are the disciples. And in v. 19-20, there is not even a mention of the function of judgment, but only of the power of community in the matter of prayer.


It would therefore be ridiculous to try to find a semblance of coherence when v. 21 returns to the subject, namely Peter asks: Lord, how often may my brother offend against me and should I forgive him? Perhaps seven times? Before we hear how the Lord answers: No, not seven times, but seven and seventy times. and before we hear the following parable of that king who punished his servant, whom he had forgiven a great debt, because he would not forgive even a lesser debt to his fellow servant – so before we hear all this, we must cut through this confused tangle – it deserves no more – and ask, whether Peter, if there is to be any talk of reconciliation, was allowed from the outset and without any cause to offend his brother so badly and shamefully that he asked with the fastidious earnestness of the quisque praesumitur malus whether his brother was allowed to sin against him seven times before he had the right to intervene with the ray of banishment?

If only Matthew had been content to copy Luke literally: “Take heed: if thy brother offend against thee, warn him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he offend thee seven times in a day, and return unto thee seven times in a day, saying, I am sorry; forgive him” (Luke 17:3, 4). Behold! Thus speaks not only a man, but also a man who first writes down such reflections. In his poor compiling, jumbled manner, Matthew did not even realize that he writes like an inhumane person.


“Be careful: if your brother sins against you, warn him, and if he repents, forgive him!” That is just and humane! Matthew took this as an opportunity to describe the hierarchical chain of command all the way to the point where the brother is thrown out of the church! (— Or does Fritzsche want us to explicitly note that the church, the ekklesia, is the Christian church, not the “synagogue of Satan”, not the Jewish community, but the church in which the hierarchs bind and loose and in which, on the other hand — because here is where the contradictions reside — even two or three, when gathered in the name of Jesus, can be sure that the Lord is among them? Is time and paper worth nothing? — Precisely because both are worth a lot, we will not dwell further on how strange it is that Matthew wants the brother to be punished in the presence of two people in the second stage of the chain of command, because on the testimony of two or three witnesses ——– no more!). Matthew thought of the Old Testament provision on the number of witnesses in the wrong place; we also will not further point out how Matthew, only for a very superficial resemblance, now gives the power he gave to Peter above to the disciples in general and then adds a word about the power and significance of the church community: the whole thing is very poorly composed.

“And if your brother sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him!” It is trivial; this is how someone writes who first comes up with a saying of this kind and still knows what he is aiming at. Matthew focuses on the seven times, which in Luke is only an intensification of the assumed possibility — (“: and if he sins seven times”) — in a one-sided way, takes it awkwardly prosaic, lets Peter speak very clumsily as if he were sure that his brother could sin against him seven times a day – Matthew left out this necessary specification – and now the response must surpass the crude assumption by saying that he must show forbearance “until the” seventy-seventh offense.


Luke, too, has a parable which recommends the necessity of conciliation, and he, too, has placed it in an external context with the parables of the prodigal – it is the parable of the unjust steward. At the end of this parable it says: Make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness. Weisse has taken the last step towards resolving the difficulty when he declares the words “with the unrighteous mammon” to be those “which Jesus did not speak” – we must declare them to be those which do not belong to the parable (Luke 16:1-9), and even dare to call them such, which were not inserted into the text by Luke, but only by a later hand from v. 11. Weisse *) first correctly explained the meaning of the parable: just as that steward earned his master’s favour by boldly paying his debtors their bills, so we too should “regard ourselves as God’s appointed stewards of his great household and behave in exactly the same way, and no differently, towards our master’s debtors.”

*) II. 162. 163.



§ 71. The power of faith

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

by Neil Godfrey

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 3



§ 71.

The power of faith.

Mark 9, 14 – 29.

According to the reports of Matthew and Luke, when Jesus exclaimed “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you?” in response to the father’s complaint that the disciples were unable to heal his son, it seems certain that this accusation was directed towards the disciples because they had shown themselves to be weak and inept in the absence of their master. However, in the account of Mark, the matter is not so certain. While some significant manuscripts read “Jesus said to them”, others omit any further specification and thus attempt to cast doubt on the reading “Jesus said to him” (the father of the boy). This decision is inconclusive, as the latter reading may be difficult, and the view of Matthew and Luke may have been imposed by later readings of the original gospel. But when we see how Jesus accuses the father of the sick boy of lacking faith in the following passage, when he makes a bitter accusation that everything is possible for the believer, and the man tearfully declares “I believe, Lord; help my unbelief!” it seems certain that this accusation is directed towards the father of the boy and is based on the assumption that – how shall we express this enormous and most fearful transcendence? – that a person in faith can move mountains and cast them into the sea, so the father could have healed his son from the outset.


Calvin notes that Jesus usually treats people kindly, even when they make a somewhat inconvenient request, but this time the man, who was pained by his son’s illness, asked for help modestly and humbly. But why should an evangelist not be harsh, cruelly transcendent and exuberant at times, especially when this harsh exuberance is rooted in the nature of faith?

In short, it is highly probable that the Fourth understood this passage of the Gospel correctly when he borrowed from it (C. 4, 48) the phrase that the father of a sick son was harshly approached by Jesus, whom he asked for help.

Only afterwards, when the company had returned home, does Mark allow the disciples to come forward so that they too can learn what they had been lacking. They ask Jesus why they were unable to drive out the demon, and now they learn – as the congregation later understood the matter and believed they had to fight against the devil – that this kind can only be driven out by prayer and fasting. Luke left out this section because he wanted to report shortly afterwards how the Seventy simply drove out the evil spirits in the name of Jesus. Matthew, however, keeps the question of the disciples, only allowing it to be raised off the battlefield, and enriches Jesus’ answer with a saying that was delivered after the withering of the fig tree. Luke had taken this saying about faith that moves mountains out of its context, particularly by introducing it with the clumsy request of the disciples: “Lord, give us more faith” like a lightning bolt falling from a blue sky, and, to reveal to us where he got this saying from, turning the mountain into a mulberry-fig tree. Matthew takes the saying out of its isolated position in Luke, turns the tree back into its original form, the mountain, but does not feel prevented from putting the same saying into Jesus’ mouth again when he finds it in Mark’s scripture.


Of course, it is a contradiction when the Lord, in one breath, demands faith and fasting and prayer as the basic condition for one and the same work, but the same contradiction is already contained in the original report, when the Lord, before the conversation with the disciples, recommended faith to the father of the sick man, as if he could have cured the sickness of his son through it. Matthew only drew this contradiction closer together and very rightly seized upon it when he lifted that isolated saying out of Luke’s writing, for Luke had taken the disciples’ request: give us faith! (C. 17, 6) to the speech of that man: Lord, I believe, help my unbelief! Thus, in Matthew’s writing, all the elements that belong together have been reunited.

It has been wondered why the Fourth Gospel says nothing about demons that Jesus had cast out, nothing about this struggle with the kingdom of the devil. Some critics thought that he did not want to know about these associates of the devil because of his supposedly greater education, while others thought that he had simply not known about the exorcisms. We can now answer: he had read the Gospel of Mark and therefore said nothing about that struggle with the kingdom of Satan, because he allowed the Lord to fight against Satan and his evil in a different, more comprehensive, or rather more abstract way, perhaps also because he felt the role that demons played in the original gospel. In his writing, which has entirely different messengers of the Messiah and in which the Lord preaches about himself from the beginning, demons were superfluous as these corner preachers and betrayers of the secret. Under these circumstances, it is also understandable that the accusation that Jesus had the devil, if the Fourth Gospel still made it (Ch. 7, 20; 8, 48), had to be rather incorrectly or very weakly made. We have demonstrated in the criticism of the Fourth Gospel what this reversal and weakening consists of.



§ 70. The Second Coming of Elijah

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

by Neil Godfrey

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 3



§ 70.

The Second Coming of Elijah.

Mark 9, 11 – 13.

The omission of the conversation between Jesus and the disciples about Elijah was filled by Luke in a strange way, that he let the Lord leave the mountain the following day (Luke 9, 37). Matthew, who would have done best if he had at least omitted that dialogue, also overreaches himself somewhat when, on the contrary, he attempts to connect it with the transfiguration. “What, then, do the scholars of Christ say,” ask the disciples, as they came down from the mountain with their Master, “that Elijah must come first?” The question of the disciples presupposes the doubt of the disciples, whether Elijah must yet come, nay, it presupposes the certainty that he need not come at all, and it is therefore only intended to form an objection against the assertion of the scribes. If we now, since neither this doubt nor this certainty is founded in the foregoing, should nevertheless perhaps venture the utmost and explain the question of the disciples thus: “Elijah has just spoken with you, why then should we still expect him, or why do the scribes say that he must appear first, that is, before you? – But even this is of no avail, for the fact that Elijah appears once to the Lord and converses with him cannot be called the coming of which Malachi spoke.

Like the transition which Matthew made, the question itself, which we find in Mark, is made late. Matthew formed that inappropriate transitional formula, Mark created the question and answer and placed both here, not only because Elijah had just appeared and been mentioned, but because now that the Messiahship of Jesus had been explicitly discussed and acknowledged in all its attributes, it was time that the significance of the forerunner was also acknowledged and that he was explicitly called his forerunner by the Lord. Jesus’ response is the expression of later religious reflection on the history, and the question of the disciples is also poorly formulated in the scripture of Mark, as it presupposes in an exaggerated way the thought that it would be impossible to still need another Elijah in the disciples’ minds.


Jesus’ response *), that Elijah has already come and that he has suffered as it is written about the Son of Man, seems to belong completely to Mark, i.e. the original gospel writer seems to have already developed this comparison between the fate that the Messiah must suffer and that which the baptizer Elijah suffered, since Matthew (17:12) would not have easily come up with it at the corresponding location, and Luke in the reworking of this conversation about the Elijah-baptizer (Luke 7:33-34) also reveals that in the original account there was a statement that the people had rejected the baptizer and the Messiah in the same way.

*) And that as Fritzsche and Wilke rightly transpose the text: Mark 9, 13. 12, ελιας μεν . . . . αλλα λεγω υμιν, οτι και ηλιας εληλυθεν και εποιησαν αυτω οσα ηθελησαν, καθως γεγραπται επι τον υιον του ανθρωπου ινα πολλλα παθη και εξουδενωθη.

The fourth makes the Baptist himself declare that the saying of the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled in him by the preacher in the wilderness, but gives him occasion to declare that he was not Ellas. Both are equally inappropriate! He reads in the Scriptures of Luke that the Baptist had once had occasion to declare that he was not the Messiah, he makes this occasion an oskficial one, and as he now in a very exaggerated manner sets it up that the Baptist should first answer all the questions of the inquirers until he declares himself to be that preacher in the wilderness, so he presents the matter clumsily enough in such a way that mair also asked the Baptist whether he was the Ellas and the latter answered the question in the negative. The “who do you think that I am? I am not” of Luke (Acts 13, 25, Luk 3, 15) has been blown out of proportion by the Fourth.


§ 68. The prophecies of Jesus of his Passion

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

by Neil Godfrey

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 3



§ 68.

The prophecies of Jesus of his Passion.

Mark 8, 31 Luk. 9, 21. 22 Matth. 16, 21
Mark 9, 31. 32 Luk. 9, 43-45 Matth. 17, 22
Mark 10, 33. 34 Luk. 18, 31-34 Matth. 20, 17
Matth. 26, 2

Three times all three synoptics – to put it more vaguely with regard to Luke – let the Lord proclaim His suffering, His death and His resurrection in advance before His entry into Jerusalem; but in the way in which they increase the certainty of these prophecies and insert them into the whole of their writings, they differ from each other.



1. The increase of certainty.

After Peter’s confession, as reported in Mark 8:31, Jesus opened up to the disciples that “the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” After the Transfiguration, as they traveled incognito through Galilee – because the Lord did not want to attract attention, the manner of his appearance was already somewhat subdued and he wanted to enter the path of death without delay – he told the disciples the same thing, only more generally stating that “the Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men,” etc. Finally, as they were already on the way to Jerusalem (Mark 10:32-34), the prophecy becomes more specific or rather so specific that it is almost nothing but the program of the play whose performance is imminent. “See,” Jesus said to the twelve, “we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes. They will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise again.”

Whatever one may think about these prophecies and Jesus’ exact knowledge of the brutalities he would experience in the last hours, it is enough to say that in the Gospel of Mark, the increasing specificity of the prophecies is quite appropriate.

Luke has not changed much. The first prophecy he leaves unchanged, the second he abbreviates; Jesus only says: the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men, for Jesus has to waste too many words beforehand to call the disciples to attention – “Receive these words in your ears! “and the evangelist has to remark far too much on the disciples’ inability to hear these words to leave room for writing out Mark in full. The third prophecy he leaves (C. 18, 31 – 33) also essentially unchanged, except that he thought he had to change the active construction to the passive, and at most he was entitled to do so, since he believed he had to change the words “the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes and they will condemn him to death” in Mark’s Gospel to “everything that is written about the Son of Man in the prophets.”


Here, again, Matthew reveals to us the abstract nature of the later perspective, which makes the anachronisms that are already inherent in the original religious view even greater, and wants to see everything as already completed from the beginning, even barbarically blurring the small nuances of the original religious reflection. Immediately after Peter’s confession, in his abstract and anticipatory manner, Matthew has the Lord say that “he must now go to Jerusalem” and suffer much, etc. – followed by the prophecy that is the first in Mark’s Gospel. Matthew includes the second prophecy unchanged, at least without burdening it with an addition, but in the third, in which the brutalities of Jesus’ opponents are listed, he cannot resist removing one, the spitting, – so much was he dependent on the number of words! – and instead has the Lord say that he will be crucified (Matthew 20:19).

But he pushed the definiteness even further. Mark tells us how two days before Easter the priests had decided on the death of Jesus, but had postponed the execution of their decision until after the feast; He also tells us how the betrayal of Judas gave the priests the opportunity to carry out their plan earlier, and finally, when he lets Jesus speak of his death and of the betrayer during the meal of the Passover evening, he knows that we will believe that Jesus was not surprised by the passion events against his knowledge, just as he also shows us how Jesus voluntarily went to meet it when he gave himself up in the garden of Gethsemane, when he knew that the betrayer would find him.


Where the facts speak so loudly and clearly, a prophecy about what is imminent would have been very unnecessary and even out of place, especially since Jesus had already concluded his account of the last things in the previous discourse and uttered prophecies that far surpass the fate that now awaits him. Only before Jesus enters the scene of his suffering were prophecies in their place. Nevertheless, Matthew could not resist having the Lord tell the disciples at the end of that discourse on the last things and at the beginning of the Passion narrative (Matthew 26:1-2): “You know that in two days’ time it will be Passover, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

By considering the position of these three prophecies, we will reveal their origin and the origin of their context in one fell swoop, and we will also have the opportunity to answer some of the most important questions of criticism – although these pitiful questions cannot really be called important, because their solution reveals their whole misery.


2. The position of the three prophecies in the writing of Mark.

Each time these three prophecies in the writing of Mark have an inner relation to the preceding one, each time they are followed by an event which contrasts with them, which gives Jesus cause for a rebuke, whereupon Jesus again has cause to instruct his own in a more general form.


1. a) The first prophecy.

Peter acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, but now the Lord shows the disciples the dark side of the messianic image by saying that he must suffer. After highlighting the internal contrast of the messianic ideal in this way, the other contrast is presented, which is formed by the selfishness of the world. Peter represents this selfishness, and the Lord rebukes him, calling him Satan, because he is focused on the human aspect rather than the divine. Jesus then teaches the crowd and his disciples about the duty of self-denial in a more general way.


Whoever wants to follow him must deny himself and take up his cross. For whoever wants to keep his soul will lose it; but whoever loses his soul for my sake and – what the two others leave out – for the sake of the Gospel, will keep it. What good would it do a man if he gained the whole world and was deprived of his soul? (i.e. if his life were taken from him, he would not be able to enjoy his gain. Similarly, spiritual life is a prerequisite, without which nothing has worth or even existence for humans.) Luke has taken the nerve out of the saying when he abandons the expression in which the soul is apparently distinguished from the ego and held up to it as valuable, and instead has put the sensible expression: “when one loses oneself and is deprived of oneself. “Or what can man give so that he may redeem his soul? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of none of my words – therefore the mention of the Gospel is original and necessary – among this adulterous generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Matthew has overlooked the fact that the passage is designed to emphasise the importance of the confession and writes in his tendency to move from the abstract to the general: “the Son of Man will come . . . . . . and then he will repay each one according to his deeds”). And Jesus said to them: “Truly I say to you, there are some among those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God – (Matth, correctly explaining your context, writes: the Son of Man in his! Kingdom) – come in power.


Note not only the position and arrangement of the contrasting elements, but also their extension and spread. The historical account is compact, intense, and the contrasts are not kept far apart, but all are equally elaborated. The concluding speech (Mark 8:34-38, 9:1) – as if the sermon on the preceding theme or the moral of the story – is not excessively prolonged.


1. b) The second prophecy.

The second prophecy forms the inner contrast or complement to the transfiguration, and the outer contrast to the image of the suffering Messiah must be the selfish dispute of the disciples as to which of them is the greater (C. 9, 30-34). Jesus rebukes these children, who always seem to want to remain children, and – if these sentences belong to the Mark – is given the opportunity by a remark of John to further consider the duties of his own.


1. c) The third prophecy.

Jesus had in vain exhorted a rich man to renounce his possessions, to follow Him and to take up the cross (C. 10, 21. 22). On the other hand, the Messiah declares that he is ready to face the suffering that awaits him, but at the same time he has to reject the senseless claims of two attackers who fight for the next places on his side. No sooner had he done so than the other disciples, grumbling at the insolence of the two, gave him the opportunity to speak again of the duty of self-denial which each of his followers must practise. —-

Everywhere, then, the same structure, the same relationship of the group, the same contrasts, yes, the same thoughts and even the same turns of phrase, transitions, constructions and words!

How beautiful, the theologian will perhaps say, when he is forced to notice the arrangement of the reports and to see in the first place, how beautiful, how marvellous! We may already say: what poverty and paucity of invention!


But, we must add, in Mark we find these two turns of phrase always purely executed, the groupings appropriately arranged, the contrasts in their correct proportion and in their proper tension. We find none of this in Matthew and Luke, because they no longer knew the tendency and inner context of these passages in the Gospel.


3. The position of the three prophecies in Luke’s writing.

It has already been noted that Luke made his account less consistent when he left out the dialogue between Peter and Jesus after the first prophecy. It is also not necessary to mention that he gave the two first prophecies a false position by including so much between them and the note that Jesus was really serious about traveling to Jerusalem. He presents the second prophecy (Luke 9:44) in the same context in which he found it in Mark. Although the third prophecy (Luke 18:31) also follows the account of the rich man, Luke does not include the request of the sons of Zebedee – he believed that he could use the details that Mark provides in connection with this third prophecy at another place more effectively, as we will see later.

It is clear that if he twice omitted a necessary part of the original account, he no longer knew its tendency, and if he communicates the second prophecy with its original setting, he only acted as a mere copyist.

Luke gave his reflection a different direction, a direction that directly relates to the intelligence of the disciples, while Mark, in his vivid contrasts, only presents the matter in such a way that the disciples were not yet capable of practicing the self-denial that Jesus demanded of them and which he himself was about to practice to the highest degree.


After the healing of the possessed man, which follows the transfiguration, Mark gives no concluding formula to instruct us about the impression the miracle made on the people; we have become sufficiently acquainted with his manner to know why: he really wants the following incidents, which form contrasts to the preceding, to follow as such contrasts. Jesus heals the possessed man, he comes home with the disciples, they ask him why they could not cast out the devilish spirit, Jesus explains to them, “and as they set out, they travelled through Galilee, and he would not let himself be known. “For – we now learn why he wanted to travel incognito – he instructed the disciples that “the time of suffering was not far off. Right! Thus the thought of suffering stands in clear contrast to the preceding, also to the transfiguration. No sooner has Jesus arrived in Capernaum than the other contrast develops: Jesus asks the disciples what quarrel they had on the way and now has to chastise them because of their jealousy about precedence.

Luke concludes the account with all that has gone before, when he immediately, after helping the demoniac to health, remarks that everyone was amazed – everyone! that is, also the crowd that was present down at the mountain. Now the tension between the word “suffering” and the word “transfiguration” is not only removed, but when Luke says: When all were amazed at all that Jesus did,” and when we are to think that Jesus, who now wants to speak of his sufferings, is alone with his disciples, we lose all sense of hearing and seeing. Could he not have found another formula to distinguish the disciples from all those who were just now marvelling at the greatness of God? He could not. Enough, after Jesus has spoken of his suffering, it is said: “But they understood not this word, and it was hid from them, lest they should understand it; and they feared to ask him concerning this word. ” (C. 9, 43-45.)


Mark did not need this contrast. A foreign hand has bestowed upon him the reflection of Luke and inserted it into his writing: (C. 9, 32) “but they understood not the word, and feared to ask him ” *). Matthew saved the later glossator the trouble by turning the matter into a spiritual one and writing: (17, 23) and they became very sad.

*) Wilke, p. 504.

Luke has become so entrenched in his conception of the contrast that he places the same remark just as broadly and almost literally as after the second also after the third, although it is he who has Jesus refer to the prophecies of the prophets on this occasion. (18, 31-34) If Jesus could remind the disciples of the prophecies, i.e. if he could refer to a dogma as he does here, i.e. if he could refer to a dogma as a Christian preacher can do, then the disciples must have known what he was talking about. Mark incorporated the prophecies of O.T. into the speeches of Jesus himself and therefore, among other things, did not yet think of the crucifixion, as Matthew had the temerity to do. He speaks only of being overawed, scourged, humiliated and spat upon.

We come to Matthew.


4. The stater in the fish’s mouth. 

Matth. 17, 21-27.

Peter’s being given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and his being raised to the rock on which the church is to rest securely, both of these things, because they are inserted too superficially into the structure of the original gospel, have already been moved back to the place where they belong.

Before we move on from the rich man’s dispatch to Jesus’ third prophecy of His sufferings, time will also take too long: but here too it will be very easy for us to remove the interpolated parable of the denarii (Matth. 20, 1-16).


As for the second prophecy, here we have only to remove the intruder who wants to make the progress of the interest resound too annoyingly to the contrast which is unfit for it. We will cut off the excessive extension of the conclusion later in order to restore the correct measure of the original representation. That intruder is the miracle of the stater in the fish’s mouth.

When they were travelling in Galilee, says Matthew, Jesus told the disciples about the future of his sufferings, but the evangelist does not say that Jesus travelled through Galilee with the intention of going straight to Jerusalem, he does not say that Jesus travelled incognito through Galilee and explained to the disciples the striking nature of this journey, pointing to the future of his sufferings. He said nothing of all this, because on the arrival of the company in Capernaum he wanted to give the Lord another opportunity to perform an extraordinary miracle. If the people who demanded the taxes should admonish Peter and his master, Jesus was not allowed to travel incognito. But if Jesus does not travel incognito, if he does not travel through Galilee to continue the way beyond the province, then this prophecy is not motivated: if the disciples’ dispute about precedence does not fall out on that journey on which Jesus spoke of his sufferings, then the two sides of the contrast are torn out of their tension, and if Matthew, after he has performed the miracle with that statue, cannot help himself but say that on that day the disciples approached Jesus with the question as to which of them was the greatest, then the lameness of the disciples’ childishness has become excessive. Yet Mark is still so reserved that he presents the matter as if Jesus had asked the disciples what they had discussed on the way, and since they had kept silent out of shame, by means of his keen insight he saw through their dispositions and knew their quarrel. 9, 47), Jesus saw through the thoughts of their heart; but Matthew, who had to form a new transition after the interpolated episode of the Stater, formed it so badly that he lets the disciples step shamelessly before Herm with their childish question and that he even, when he lets them ask: “Who then is (!) the greatest?” he must betray that this question is connected with something that has gone before. Only he has so clumsily formed this hindsight from the preceding that it now appears as if Jesus had previously given the childish disciples a well-founded reason for their question. We only need to recognise this confusion and bring together what belongs together in order to crush the episode of the stater.


The question of whether the tax Jesus is being asked to pay is the Roman poll tax or the legal temple tax should not be raised again. When Jesus comes home *) and precedes Peter with the question whether “the kings of the world” levy interest on their children, and when Peter answers: rather on the foreigners, he adds: therefore the sons are free, it is clear that he wants to draw the conclusion from the custom of the “worldly” kings, how the “heavenly” king also treats his children. The Jewish people are like a group of foreigners and adopted servants to the heavenly king, whose children are Jesus and his disciples.

*) Matth. 17, 25 και ότε εισήλθεν εις την οικίαν and  V. 24 ελθοντων δε αυτων εις καπερναουμ, is still the formula of Mark C. 9, 33: και ηλθεν εις καπερναουμ και εν τη οικια γενομενος επηρωτα. Matth. writes προέφθασεν by making the marvellous perspicacity which Jesus there evidences in Mark more glaringly noticeable to the reader for ſhis purpose. Jesus knows what Peter has encountered and immediately speaks about the matter, just as he knows what the disciples have discussed on the way to Mark and seeks to bring them to confession.

Matthew formed this story out of the later and only later possible view, according to which Jesus and his followers were regarded as the true children of God and the Jews as servants, whom Jehovah, if he willed, could also bid farewell to again. The fourth evangelist borrowed this view from Matthew, but confused his treatment of it by developing the definition of servitude even further, without distinguishing this further development from the form in which he found it in the Scriptures of his predecessor.*)

*) Joh. 8, 31-36. Herewith is determined that which we Crit. d. ev. Gesch. d. Joh. p. 328 still left undefined.


Matthew has placed the miracle in the wrong place here, as it is very unbecoming for someone who has just admitted that he must suffer to find a divine law too burdensome and its observance indecent. It is the same contradiction into which Matthew fell above when he copied Mark’s first prophecy of Jesus’ sufferings, for if the Messiah must suffer and demands unlimited self-denial from his followers, it was very inappropriate to bestow the keys of the kingdom of heaven on Peter and legitimize hierarchical pride in general.

But in any case, even apart from its surroundings, the tendency of that fish anecdote is an unworthy one. It is at least unworthy how the exalted man disputes the obligation to pay interest, denies it for his person and for his own, yet acknowledges it again by paying the interest, but, by bowing, is at the same time endeavouring to secure for himself the recognition of his exaltedness by the amusingly ironic way in which he pays the interest.


5. The origin of Jesus’ prophecies of his suffering.

If we have now succeeded in restoring the original report, then his last hour will also have struck.


Weisse says *) that the “scene between Jesus and Peter” which followed the first prophecy was, as he somewhat forcefully expresses it, “drawn directly from the mouth of this disciple by the reporter” and that it “stands as a powerful argument against any doubt about the factual correctness of such proclamations from Jesus’ mouth.” However, regarding these prophecies, which – we may say immediately, without intending to make the criticism that will lead to this result useless or save us from it – are not based on success, but, together with the gospel accounts of suffering and resurrection, are modeled on the Old Testament ideal, we need only look at them humanely – and criticism must be humane – to be sure that as they stand – and in a form other than as they stand, they do not exist for either the rationalist or the believer – no living person speaks like that. Only a book speaks like that.

*) I, 531

The fact that they occur just three times, and that their definiteness increases appropriately in the original report, proves their authorial origin, an origin which, moreover, Matthew also proves when he makes their definiteness even greater and adds to the three a fourth, an even more definite one.

It would be unnecessary, especially since it is such an easy task in any case, to show the nullity of the tradition hypothesis everywhere, or to trace it back to its nothingness, i.e., to the imagination of scholars. We took over the business this time in order to give Mark his last honour. Gfrörer says that the three prophecies are basically one and the same. (Correctly understood, we admit this. But he takes it incorrectly. In the Christian Church the tradition had been preserved that Jesus, before his arrival in Jerusalem, had foretold the destinies awaiting him there. “So tradition had such a strong memory that it did not allow a weak “hint” to be lost! As if it were not much easier for the faithful to put the strongest and most fluent speeches about the future into the mouth of the Lord! As if the believer as such did not have to be convinced that the Lord foreknew everything exactly as it was to come! – In short, Gfrörer now thinks: “Because of the ambiguity which lay in this determination of the time, the prophecy was indented by means of three different sagas in three special places” *). But we know nothing more of such a framework into which various – we can hardly write the word – legends or – or ghosts again inserted the ghost of a legend or tradition – or what shall we call the absurdity? – interpolated. The three prophecies arose where we read them written, first, all together and in the order in which we see them before us. They came into being with their surroundings, which form the necessary contrast to them. Mark also knows how to write, as a man writes who creates such things, for he remarks, when he wants to report the third prophecy, that Jesus again saw the twelve and spoke to them of his future. “Again!” (παλιν C. 10, 32) after he had already told them twice about the near future.

*) Die heil. Sage, ll, 56. 64.


Mark first formed everything, everything, the prophecies and the contrasts belonging to them. Calvin has very well noticed the difficulty that now arises from the triple number, at least from the repeated repetition of this prophecy, but he has removed the difficulty very badly when he says, “although the apostles had already been taught before about the end of the Lord, yet they had not made sufficient progress in their understanding, and Jesus now repeats anew what he had already said often. ” But this would be a very unskilful teacher, who is content merely to repeat something anew **) when he knows that his pupils have not grasped what he had told them before. What teacher will chase down the same tirade in such a case? The teacher who really deserves the name will indeed take up the matter “anew,” but he will take it up from a “new” side, and of course precisely from the side which he knows was not yet clear to his pupils. This is how real, human teachers act, but they do not recite the same formula.

**) de iutegro repelit, quod saepius dixerat.


Mark formed these prophecies and had the Lord pronounce them three times, so that he would follow the law of the holy trinity and at the same time have the opportunity to add an artistic enhancement to his writing.

The enhancement lies not only in the prophecies, but also in the contrasting surroundings.

The background is first formed by the confession of Peter, in which the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah first emerges, the second time – in the transfiguration – the background is already more brilliant, and the third time the glory of Jesus and his kingdom is secured in a negative way, in that the rich and powerful of this world are humiliated in that rich man.

After each of these prophecies, Jesus has the opportunity to shame and rebuke human thoughts and behavior, first by scolding Peter for not wanting to hear about suffering, then after the second prophecy, by rejecting a more definite arrogance and the desire for superiority in general, and finally, after the third prophecy, the sons of Zebedee come with their request for seats at his right and left hand.

Who is now so bold as to deny that not only these three prophecies, but each of them in turn, originally belong together with their contrastive surroundings, that the prophecies, as they each follow one another with their surroundings, form a whole, and that as this whole they owe their origin to a single pen, to the plastic art of one man, to the invention of Mark?

Very well! Let us hear the last proof! If Mark did not want to compose too badly – and he did indeed compose quite skilfully – i.e. if he did not want to place the teaching of his Lord too low, he had to present the matter in such a way that the disciples, who were so often to be reminded of his suffering, would also be instructed about it more closely. In fact, this instruction always followed regularly. But how? After an event that Jesus could not foresee had happened. Did Jesus know that Peter would speak as he did, did he know that the disciples on the journey through Galilee would argue about precedence, that the Zebedees would come up with this senseless idea? Did he know that his disciples would commit such childish pranks? No, he did not know. But he should have known them better and should have taught them immediately when he spoke of suffering and especially when he thought he would have to speak of it more often. But no, he did not have to: the Lord of Mark knows that he only has to wait a few moments or until he returns from Caesarea Philippi to Capernaum to get the opportunity for these teachings.


That is to say, Mark has formed everything in such a way that what otherwise follows in one flow in the intelligible world complements itself in separate plastic formations – a complementation that is only possible in the world of ideal conception, in the real world it would be the opposite.

But not everyone who undertakes to create a world of ideal perception is therefore a master. The evangelists are not masters. There was only one Greek, there is only one Homer. The ideal world of the Gospels lacks the harmony of humanity, of moral, human motives, that harmony which even the contrasts must not lack. The ideal world of the sacred writers is a prosaic and disgustingly disjointed world.

These three contrasts must follow the three prophecies, so that a sermon on the necessity of self-denial, suffering and mutual subordination follows.


But then, as Weisse demands, we are to be forced to devour such positive stones and blocks, such figures of extremely “individual truth”, or to worship them as fetishes? If Jesus has clearly said that he must suffer and just added that he will rise on the third day, should Peter then come and say that this should not happen? When Jesus speaks of suffering and death, should the disciples behave like children and argue about who is the greatest? When Jesus speaks again of suffering, shall the Zebedees know nothing better than to think how to get ahead of the others in order to take the seats on the right and left of the Lord?

It would be pointless to say that if Jesus knew what kind of childish people he was dealing with, he should either not have spoken of such things to them at all, or if he really wanted to, he should have taken them to the children’s school. It would be pointless to say explicitly that if Jesus had spoken so clearly of his suffering, the disciples, even children, would have understood him. Jesus did not make these disclosures to the disciples, he did not have to trouble himself with their childishness; Peter, the Twelve and the Zebedees had only to act so incomprehensibly foolishly that Jesus might be given the opportunity, i.e. that the evangelist – if we may misuse the word – might have vivid occasions to set forth the meaning of suffering in the kingdom of God or to indicate the applications to which the spirit should apply the thought of his Saviour’s suffering for the salvation of his soul.

If Jesus had to prophesy his suffering in advance and describe those last hours down to the crudest coincidences, so that his omniscience and the voluntariness with which he approached the suffering might become clear, the childish imaginings of his disciples serve to put the seal of divine sublimity on his calmness and self-assurance for the evangelical view.

Whoever still dares to take these prophecies as the words of Jesus, may make even the smallest detail comprehensible to the sensible, may tell us, for example, what the disciples must have thought when Jesus asked them to take up their “cross”. Bengel is right, and he will continue to be right until evidence to the contrary is produced, when he says that the cross was not used by the Jews in a figurative or literal sense. He is right when he says that Jesus alludes to his cross, but he is wrong when he tries to explain the possibility of such an allusion by saying that Jesus had already carried the cross in secret *). Did the disciples know this, or had they noticed it, or had Jesus shown it to them?

*) to Matth. 10, 38: alludit ad crucem suam, quam ipse jam tum ferebat occulto.


Luke has formed a prophecy on his own, which we still have to consider, in order to answer a question in which it has again played a great role.


6. Jerusalem, the murderess of the prophets, and the festival journeys of Jesus.

The situation in which some of the Pharisees warn Jesus that Herod is after his life no longer exists for us. Go,” Jesus answers his enemies, who are very worried at this time, “and tell this fox: behold, I cast out demons and heal diseases today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will come to an end (Luk 13:31, 32). 32) – which is different from the words of an evangelist who knows so much about how the demons obey the name of Jesus, to whom the healing of the sick seems to be one of the most important aspects of the business of Jesus, and who has very clumsily placed the account after three days, which is lost in the original prophecy of Jesus, in order to use it as a rubric for the main business of Jesus and the completion of his course. “Only that I must walk today and tomorrow and the day after, for it is not possible for a prophet to perish outside Jerusalem” v. 33. – thus another, also not particularly happy application of the three days and a somewhat too dogmatic transformation of the words of Jesus, which Luke reads in Mark and which he himself writes down again C. 18, 31. Where is the dogma written that no prophet can perish outside Jerusalem, or what antecedence could Jesus bring to a dogma of this kind? Does an evangelist, in a passage so well invented, write the further reflection (v. 34) “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often have I wished to gather thy children together, as a bird gathereth her young under her wings, and ye would not? Behold, your house shall be left desolate. But I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, till it come to pass, that ye should say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Here, then, in this place, where Jesus had not yet been in Jerusalem, here, where Jesus first declared that he must go to Jerusalem, because it was only here that the prophet could perish, here is this saying originated, for it is at the same time supposed to be a prophecy of the reception which Jesus found on entering the holy city, for here they cried, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! was also shouted by varying the theme of that English hymn of praise: Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth). Matthew did not see the relation of that saying to the entry into Jerusalem; he believed it, because Jerusalem is at the same time thought of as a city about which the Lord had often endeavoured to give a better place, when he made it – separated from that confused twofold execution of the triple number – the last word which the Lord spoke to the people (C. 23, 37 – 39). We do not need to mention that it is inappropriately attached to a speech that is not directed against the people, not against the holy city, but against the Pharisees.


Luke formed the saying first and, what is more, in a very inappropriate place and linked it to an even more inappropriate occasion, if possible.

But, one might still ask, in order to save the presuppositions of the fourth Gospel *), does not the presupposition that Jesus was often in Jerusalem ring through this saying, a presupposition which therefore seems to be all the more correct and justified because it contradicts the other presuppositions of the Synoptics? No! Luke formed the saying first! On a saying which stands in such a suspicious environment and with which, in so far as it speaks of death in Jerusalem, there is certainly an inner connection, does one want to found a system? Doesn’t the primal gospel show a trace that could lead us to the presupposition of the fourth gospel?

*) Strauss L. I. I. 505. 506.

Weisse thinks himself justified by the saying to conclude a longer duration of Jesus’ one stay in Jerusalem, which, as he at the same time thinks, the Synoptics rightly assume alone **). But he builds on the wrong place which Matthew gave to the saying. He builds on sand. In Luke’s writing the saying has its solid ground, as far as there can be such a thing in the chimerical world of this writing.

**) I, 420.

Luke is certainly not the man who could come to the aid of the fourth evangelist, nor is he the man who could justify Weisse in ascribing to Jesus’ stay in Jerusalem, of which the synoptics alone know, a duration that was as long as possible. Luke remains faithful to the Synoptic presupposition also in the second part of his writing, when he (Acts 10, 37) lets Peter describe the life in the same way as he has described it in the Gospel *), namely that Jesus “began from Galilee”, travelled around and finally performed his deeds in Jerusalem and Judea. Luke also has Peter (v. 38) speak as if the healing of the sick and the casting out of devils were the main deeds of Jesus, i.e. Luke has formed the speech in which the Lord speaks of the necessity of His healing miracles.

*) and how the priests also describe the course of it, when they delivered Jesus to Pilate: Luk 23, 5: αρξαμενος απο της γαλιλαιας εως ωδε. Literally the same Acts. 10, 37.


But Luke lets the Lord speak as if he had much and often to do with Jerusalem? This does not give us the right to form theological hypotheses. He also lets Peter speak as if Judea and Jemsalem had been a main scene of Jesus’ miraculous activity, and yet in the Gospel itself he knows only as much and as little about Jesus’ stay in Jerusalem as his predecessor Mark. Luke forms the first point in the transition from the view of the Synoptics to that of the Fourth, namely, the point at which Judea and Jerusalem became important for the entire activity of Jesus, but he has not yet drawn the line from this point that the Fourth drew. He only formed a sentence in which he emphasised Jesus’ activity in Jerusalem and partly also spoke of this activity in the sense that Jesus took care of the children of Jerusalem by taking care of the chosen people in general.

Otherwise, or rather everywhere, he is dependent on the view of Mark and proves that he has his more exact knowledge of the life of Jesus through Mark. He even continues this view quite correctly in additions. If the angel who reports the resurrection of their Master to the women says that they should tell the disciples that Jesus would go ahead of them to Galilee, where they would see him as he had told them, Luke has the angel say that they should remember what he told them “while he was still in Galilee” (C. 24, 6.). Jesus, writes Luke (C. 16, 47.), taught daily in the temple, i.e. he wanted to use this new opportunity to work through his teaching.


There can be no doubt about the opinion of Mark. When he says: Jesus entered Jerusalem, went into the temple and after he had looked at everything, he went out to Bethany, because it was already late, this means: Jesus satisfied the curiosity of a man from the province and today he could do nothing but look at the temple, namely, he could not teach because it was already late.

Matthew did not copy this passage from Mark, since he – very hastily and somewhat too hotly – had the merchants driven out of the temple immediately after the Lord’s entry; instead, he formed another passage, which proves his agreement with Mark’ basic premise. When Jesus enters Jerusalem, the whole city is in an uproar and people ask, “Who is this? But the crowd answered: this is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee (C. 21, 10. 11.). This time we do not wish to reproach Matthew particularly for not having made it clear to us where the multitudes come from who are distinguished from the citizens of the holy city; he has at least shown us that, according to his view, Jesus also comes for the first time from the province to the capital.

Weisse reminds us that the rejoicing of the people at the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem proves that Jesus had not been in this city before or – to put it more correctly – that according to the Synoptics the moment has come when the Son of David enters the holy city. The Fourth, therefore, could not understand this rejoicing in its true sense; he even had to use the miracle of Lazarus to win over the crowds, since according to his previous account Jesus only had to expect trouble and distress in Jerusalem.

*) I, 297.


Whether at the time of Jesus, as Weisse remarks, who is only concerned with the positive statements of the Synoptics, people in Galilee thought more freely about the feast commandments, is not our concern here, but it is more than likely and at least puts the mechanical pragmatism of the fourth Gospel in its proper light. Whether the feast attendance was not necessary for Jesus is a personal question, and therefore cannot be answered by us, since we have not yet received a single message about Jesus. But Weisse’s remark is correct that according to the synoptic accounts Jesus travels to Jerusalem not to visit the feast but to suffer. However, we do not conclude from this, as Weisse does, that Jesus ‘ travelled to Jerusalem only at the time of this Christian sacrificial pascha, but . . . . . .

but that Mark the Evangelist was not at all concerned about all these questions of the theologians and Jews when he wrote his Gospel. He did not even think about the annually recurring feasts; their cycle had been forgotten in the ideal world in which he lived and which he described. The only thing he knew about it was that Jesus had to suffer at the Passover: for the time until then he knew nothing of chronology, as little as of a festival cycle.

It will now be seen where we want to go and where this matter will finally and for all time come to an end.

How can we take it into our heads to decide what a man had to do, or whether he attended the festivals of his people more than once, when all the reports that are supposed to teach us about him have dissolved? How can we go so far in our hunger for historical fragments as to want to decide from a writing whose author really lives in an ideal world and who, until he comes to the Passover, has breathed from the river of Lethe and forgotten all earthly measure of time, whether Jesus also visited the festivals more than once? Only one thing is certain, that the Passover – even the Passover! – has ideal significance for Mark, and that the time until this feast seems to him an eternity in which he knows no earthly calendar.


The fourth evangelist, who used no other sources for his news of the life of Jesus than the Gospels which we still possess, has distributed the life of his Lord in the Jewish festival cycles – but the admiration which was paid for it to the strength of his memory, the accuracy of his account, or higher influences, is now at last reduced to its proper measure, or rather to the opposite feeling.

One might now be inclined to agree with the Synoptics. For is it not more beautiful and more dignified how they present the matter, that Jesus first appears at the outermost edge of the holy land, establishes his work and only now enters the holy city in order to attack the corrupt hierarchy in the centre of its power and to fulfil his destiny?

It is more beautiful and more worthy, but not historical, for as yet we have found no trace of what is called history.

Weisse assumes that the public activity of Jesus must be attributed “a duration of a not too small number of years” *). We have no say in this, for reasons which we have already given. But we have a question to ask about the assumption that Mark got his material from Peter and yet, if we want to use this wretched prose of observation, which is quite inappropriate here, attributes such a very short period of time to the activity of Jesus. He has,” answers Weisse *), “in his endeavour to explain the isolated stories of Peter – that is to say, Peter has never – never – never! – never said a word about the whole? – into the solid whole of a history of the Lord’s life, by the manner of his transitions from one matter to another – Olshausen, how much wrong you have been done! – has created a semblance of continuity of events and thus also of changes in the setting of events, which a more skilful narrator, at least one who was at the same time a critical researcher, would undoubtedly have avoided. “

*) I, 292

*) I, 313 – 314.


No! Only one who knew an eyewitness like Peter would have avoided such a thing!

The Urevangelist, whom the Church called Mark, was not such a one.

The Urevangelist does not look at the transitions in any other way than the way he presents them. But carefully! He means to give definite, definite transitions, but in his ideal world he has at the same time lost the miserable prose of the earthly measure of time; he believes he is describing the history of an eternity, or at least he forgets the transitions, which are meant to be completely serious, in the view of the content, which to him is an infinite one. This is the contradiction of evangelical chronology. But the fact that it was possible for the evangelist to squeeze the creation of his ideal conception into such a short period of time for our calculation, proves first of all that the Christian principle is not capable of creating a true, extensive work of art and that the evangelist knew nothing less than the real life of Jesus.

But we want to hold him in such high esteem in any case that he is no longer asked the question of the festive journeys. This question is known only to the fourth and the theologian.

Admittedly, the theologian makes it very easy for himself in this respect too. He says: “the difference (between John and the poor Synoptics) in regard to chronology is easily (!) eliminated by the remark (!) that in the first three Gospels there are no chronological provisions at all” *).

*) Neander, 8. I. Chr. p. 380.


One can see that theology is an easy science; but its weight has become even lighter through criticism.



§ 67. The Confession of Peter

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

by Neil Godfrey

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 3


Critique of the Gospel History 

of the 

Synoptics and John


Bruno Bauer.

Third and final volume.

Brauuschweig: Friedrich Otto.



Eleventh section.

The express revelation of Jesus as the Messiah.


§ 67.

The Confession of Peter.

At last, after Jesus had always done such works as were possible only for the Messiah, and which should have long since made him known as such, it is expressly stated who he is, and his Messianic dignity is definitely and clearly acknowledged and revealed in three forms. First Peter confesses his faith, then Jesus himself expresses his seal on this confession by speaking of the necessity that he must suffer as Messiah, and finally the temple also gives its voice in order to give the Messiah general recognition as such.

But if we say that at last this express acknowledgment comes to pass, we must first consider a contradiction in which Matthew’s account enters into relation to this view and expression.


1. The report of Matthew.

Matthew, too, wants us to look at the matter as if Jesus had only now been recognized as the Messiah by his own people, and by them first of all, but partly in this account itself, partly in the whole of the preceding scripture, he has elements which frustrate his intention.


When Jesus asks the disciples about the opinion of the people, he also intends to ask them about their own views of him. After the report on the public opinion did not confirm his identity, he asks them: ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ (Matthew 16:15). However, it would have been inappropriate if Jesus had already given the disciples the desired answer by asking them about the people’s opinion of him, the Son of Man. He could only ask if it was already established between him and the disciples that he was the Son of Man, that is, the Messiah. But the report by Matthew himself implies that this was not yet the case, as Jesus later asks the disciples for their opinion in a way that shows that they had not expressed or oriented themselves about this matter before – and when Peter’s happy answer is described later as one that could only have been given to him by the Heavenly Father.

It was thought that one could secure the possibility of asking the question by the remark that ‘the designation as Son of Man was at least not the usual one for the Messiah’ *). But first of all, he who makes this assumption would have to prove that his exact knowledge of the Christological conceptions of the Jews at the time of Jesus was the correct one, and then he should not forget that when Jesus not only speaks of the Son of Man in a parable, but calls himself such, this is also connected with the intention of calling himself or him the Messiah. But even if a parable speaks of the Son of Man (e.g. Matth. 13, 41), it is clear that everyone should think of the Messiah and under certain circumstances (Matth. 25, 31) of Jesus as the Messiah. In the end, the critic only has to think of Matthew, his time, his surroundings, his views and presuppositions, and if he takes this correct standpoint, he will not doubt it. If he takes this correct standpoint, he will not doubt that Matthew, when he calls Jesus the Son of Man, intends to call Him the Messiah. In short, Jesus speaks here as if the presupposition that he is the Messiah is fixed among the disciples and between them and him. In short, Matthew has significantly and very disturbingly reworked a foreign account, which this time first wants to emphasise the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah among the disciples, by leaving this presupposition in place, even elaborating it further (in Peter’s beatitude), and yet forcing into the account the other, the later presupposition, for which everything is already ready in the beginning, the presupposition that the disciples had long known their Master as the Messiah. He had to proceed in this way if he wanted to communicate the report of Mark and could not rewrite it any better; for, to mention only one thing, he had already put the confession into the mouths of the disciples: you are in truth the Son of God! yes, not only to the disciples, but to the people in general (C. 14, 33), which cannot surprise us, since already in the first days after his appearance even the blind had recognized Jesus as the Son of David (C. 9, 27). It is impossible that the disciples, when asked about the voice of the people (C. 16, 14), spoke as if it had not yet occurred to anyone that Jesus was the Messiah; it is also impossible that Jesus, after Peter’s confession, could forbid the disciples to reveal His Messianic dignity to the people (16, 20), since He had already openly declared Himself to be the Messiah in His first public speech, in the Sermon on the Mount.

*) Strauss L. I. I, 531. I. I, 531. Weisse 1, 321.


Only in the account of Mark (C. 8, 27 – 30), which is preceded by nothing like Matthew’s account, could Jesus ask: “What do the people say about me?” he could ask the disciples, when he was not satisfied with the news about the opinion of the people: But what do you say of me?” and when Peter confessed him to be the Messiah, he could forbid them to speak of the matter to others.


Matthew not only thoroughly paralyzed the presentation of Mark, but he also confused it in a single stroke from another perspective.Some, the disciples report, take you for the Baptist, others for Elljah, others think you are Jeremiah or one of the prophets. So three classes! But there must be four, since those who take Jesus for Jeremiah are different from those who take him for one of the prophets in general *). – Matthew thus very clumsily inserted his enrichment of Jewish Christology into the third compartment, in which Mark only placed those who considered Jesus to be one of the prophets.

*) Wilke, p. 367.

The diligence of Matthew has brought even more to dust, he has enriched the report of Mark by very great, very important new discoveries, but unfortunately we cannot approve them.


2. The new name of Simon.

Matth. 16, 17. 18.

When Peter confessed, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ – according to Mark he only says, ‘You are the Christ,’ that is, the Anointed One, the Messiah; according to Luke, ‘You are the Christ of God’ – Jesus responds with a Pauline expression: ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for flesh and blood (Gal. 1:17) has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter,’ that is, a true rock, and from now on you shall be called Peter. This episode is inappropriate, as it should be followed immediately, as in Mark, by the prohibition not to reveal him to anyone as the Messiah. And if this prohibition, as in Matthew’s account, comes after the discussions about Simon’s new name and even after the further discussions about the foundation of the new church, it comes too late! It is appropriate, however, that the new Peter is immediately rebuked as Satan in verse 23.


Although Matthew has inserted the naming in the wrong place, he has at least motivated it by Peter’s confession. The fourth gospel writer, who wrote it down afterwards, has made it seem like it was done in the air when he describes the matter in such a way that Jesus immediately says to Simon when he sees him for the first time: ‘You shall be called Cephas’. Matthew believed he could use this method to justify Mark’s note that Simon received the nickname Peter from Jesus, while the fourth writer did not care about the motive and revealed that Jesus’ insight was so great that he recognized the rock in Peter at first sight.

Later (C. 6, 68-70), the Fourth uses Matthew’s account more diligently and, after asking Peter in a very stilted way whether they also wanted to leave him like others, he has him affirm: “We believe and have recognised that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God *). Finally, as in Matthew’s account Peter is accused of being Satan, the Fourth, who noticed the contradiction, at least made sure that after Peter’s confession (v. 70) Jesus called one of his disciples a devil.

*) Joh. 6, 69: συ ει ο Χριστός ο υιός του θεού του ζώντος.
Matth. 16, 17 ου ει ο Χριστός, ο υιός του θ. τ. ζώντος.

The other trait in Matthew’s account, that Jesus declares that on Peter he will found his church, has also not been passed over in the fourth Gospel: Jesus here commands Peter to tend his lambs; to indicate the seriousness of the commission, he tells him three times: “Feed my lambs” and to prove his worthiness, to prove his entitlement to this privilege, he has to answer in the affirmative the Lord’s question whether he loves him more than the others (C. 21, 15-17), – a very elaborate copy of the account we read in the Gospel of Matthew.



3. The foundation stone of the church.

Matth. 16, 18. 19.

If Calvin calls the man at Rome the “Antichrist” because of the assertion that Peter is proclaimed as the foundation of the Church by Jesus *), the critic must also put up with being called the Antichrist. For it concerns the correct interpretation of those words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew and – let us add – that commission given to Peter in the fourth gospel, which, as we have seen, is one and the same with that claim of Jesus in the former gospel, so it is not only a claim, not only a fiction, which the man in Rome has committed, but the correct explanation of the relevant passage in the gospel. The critic, as far as he is also an exegete, will absolutely agree with this man and will deeply sympathize with the torments that the literal-minded Protestant has brought upon himself.

The Protestants, not to mention the later zealots, that is, to stick with Calvin – one man! – ask: Can’t you see that the Antichrist is attributing to the person of Peter what is actually said about the faith of Peter? **) The Antichrist, however, cannot do otherwise; as long as he still has the use of his eyes and cannot understand to make them squint by force, he will also have to admit that if Peter is presented as this person, naturally as the person of such solid faith, and with the words: you are Peter! this person, naturally this person with this faith, is the rock on which the church is to be founded.

*) to Matth. 16, 18: Romanus Antichristus fingit Petrum vocari Ecclesiae fundamentum.

**) Quis non videt, quod (Antichr.) transfert ad hominis personam, de Petri fide in Christum dictum esse ?


But, say the Protestants further, when Jesus addresses Peter by name, it is only because Peter had confessed Jesus in the name of all; but for this very reason the Lord’s saying also refers to all the other disciples *). At last the time will come when language will no longer be robbed of its character of being language by theology. Can it be more strongly and powerfully described as something given by God only to Peter, that is, as a personal prerogative of Peter, that he recognised in Jesus the Anointed One, than if it is said that only the Father in heaven could have revealed this to him? Does the one to whom something has just been revealed from above express the conviction of others on their behalf? Would the Father in heaven have to intervene if Peter had to do nothing more than speak the conviction of others? – In the writing of Mark it can at most be the case that Peter expresses the conviction of the others; in the writing of Matthew it has become different, and the Fourth has correctly processed their view when he lets it depend on it that Peter loves the Lord more than the others before he lets him be entrusted with the oversight of his host.

*) Calvin: At Christus Petrum unum nominatim alloquitur: nempe sicuti unus omnium nomine Christum confessus fuerat dei filium, ila vicissim ad unum dirigitur sermo, qui tamen peraeque ad alios pertinet.

But, finally, it is said, if Peter, when he did not want to know about the suffering of Jesus, is called Satan, if this can only mean that he is like Satan, indeed, if he is even called Satan in this context, then it is clear, that only faith and not Peter as this person is called the pillar and foundation of the Church. Do you think, then, that it occurs to the Antichrist to suppose that Peter is to be called here with skin and hair and as this bone scaffolding covered with skin and flesh as the foundation on which the Church is founded? He with this faith is the foundation of the church, as he later, because of his earthly mindset without anxious reserve, is even called Satan himself.


But how can a man who so transgresses that he must be called Satan be appointed the foundation of the church? The critic will not rack his brains over this in the way you do, and weaken both sides of the contradiction: no! he says: Matthew has not only inserted a new element into the account of Mark, – but has also inserted it very clumsily, since he rather mechanically copied a trait from Mark, which, if he had only rcflectirt a little hastily, he would necessarily have had to suppress, or, as the Fourth did, completely change. Peter, the foundation of the Church, was not allowed to behave satanically, or if a satan should indeed appear, then another, such as Judas, would have had to take on this role.

The Roman Antichrist has correctly explained the words which form the diploma of Peter; the critical Antichrist agrees with him in this explanation, but withdraws the diploma from him when he refers to it, as to a divine handwriting, in order to prove his hierarchy as a divine work. This diploma did not first establish his hierarchy or legitimise it in advance, before it was established, but it was dictated by the already existing hierarchical view, by a view to which Peter already appeared as the prince of the church, and Matthew is the first to have written it. That word of Christ is the proof of the already existing hierarchy, it is the expression of the justification which the hierarchy presupposed for itself. The Bible-believing Protestant was not able to snatch this diploma from the man at Rome; only the critical Antichrist, after he has vidimirt it, can recognise it as correct and show that the seal and the signatures do not come from God’s hand, but from the hand of history, from a hand which, however, has issued many new and quite different diplomas. Let us therefore leave the man of Rome his handwriting; eregetically, as the Protestants thought, we shall not annul it; but if it is the hierarchy itself which has justified itself in this diploma, mankind has meanwhile written new diplomas which have long since refuted that old one, but only by their richer and more worthy contents.


The keys of the kingdom of heaven and the power to bind and loose were first given to Peter by Matthew *) and this power was somewhat inconsistently given to the disciples on another occasion (C. 18, 18). Otherwise, i.e. more specifically, in the primitive Gospel Jesus refers to the apostles only as messengers, emissaries, teachers, who are to proclaim the kingdom of heaven to the world, but not as church leaders, not as rulers who are to hierarchically determine the relationship of the individuals to heaven, i.e. only at the time of Matthew had the hierarchy already become such an essential and powerful element of the church that an evangelist writing at that time could not fail to confirm the prerequisites of it through the mouth of Jesus. Matthew is also the first evangelist who dared to put the word “Church” in the mouth of Jesus (16:18, 18:17).

*) He borrowed the formula for the blessing from the O. T.: Isa. 22, 22 και δώσω αυτή την κλείδα οίκου Δαυίδ. και ανοίξει και ουκ έσται ο αποκλείων, και-κλείσει και ουκ έσται και ανοίγων.

Mark knows nothing of all these things and in his work the question of Jesus about the opinion of the people, about the opinion of the disciples and the answer of Peter alone has its correct position and meaning, since no one had yet recognised Jesus as the Messiah and even not long before, as Mark had not failed to notice, the heart of the disciples was still closed (C. 6, 51. 52).

But if the report of Mark is aesthetically correct, this does not necessarily mean that it is historically correct.



4. The original report. 

Mark 8, 27 – 30.

How? In a man who performed such fearful wonders, who did nothing but miracles and attracted so much attention that he was immediately surrounded by crowds wherever he went, in a man whose miraculous power was trusted so much that as soon as he came into a city, the sick were brought to him in the market, should they not have recognised the Messiah long ago? Is there a more distasteful impossibility? Jesus has to perform these innumerable, these sky-scraping miracles because he is regarded as the Messiah in the evangelical view, he had to perform them in order to prove himself as the Messiah: and no one recognises the Messiah in him? Is not every Christian reader, when he sees these miracles, convinced that this man is the Messiah, and does he not know that the purpose of these miracles is to prove this man to him as the Messiah? And no one among the people should have made the childish conclusion that the mighty miracle-worker must be the Messiah? This conclusion of the children’s catechism would have been too difficult for a whole people, even for the disciples? What kind of children must Jesus have surrounded himself with, what kind of vain, miserable children must he have appeared among! No! these disciples, this people, were not even children in the sense in which one could speak here of children alone, they were warm infants in whom the first trace of humanity is not yet to be found, they were warm still less; for an infant can already smile to its nurses and knows how to distinguish them from others; they were lifeless dolls, they were warm nothing, they were warm less than nothing.

This terrible pragmatism remains both terrifying and horrifying, even after it has been resolved for us, as there are no more reports of miracles for us. It remains that it is itself the greatest evangelical miracle that the people had not already recognized the Messiah in this miracle-worker, and when Mark says that the disciples were so excessively terrified by Jesus’ walking on the sea because they had not yet recognized from the wonderful multiplication of the loaves who Jesus really was, their hearts were still closed and thick-skinned, that too is an enormous miracle, but a miracle that only the evangelist has created. Mark has surrounded the hearts of the disciples with this thick skin.


If this pragmatism now coincides with the miracle reports, one thing could still remain that the disciples only belatedly recognised the Lord as the Messiah, and that on one occasion when their Master questioned them about popular opinion. In vain! That the people regarded Jesus as the resurrected Baptist or as Elijah or as one of the prophets who came into the world for the second time, happened and happens in the Gospel only under the condition that Jesus performs miracles, as it must have happened to the Baptist when he really returned from the grave, or to an Elijah or one of the old prophets (Mark 6, 14 ). This popular opinion – which has already proven to us to be a mere fabrication of Mark – is therefore also impossible and with it the confession of Peter, which can only stand in contrast to it, falls to the ground.

Nothing can maintain itself in the report. To make matters worse, we can ask whether Jesus, who always went about with the disciples, thus had to experience the same things as the disciples and, in view of the stupidity and narrow-mindedness of the disciples presupposed in the Gospels, did not know better than the disciples how to test the spirits, how to fathom the mood of the people and how to recognise public opinion?

The disciples had indeed once undertaken a short missionary journey, and it would be possible that they had learned many things on that journey that had remained hidden from their Master. As if they could have learned more on such a short journey than the Lord could have learned during his whole activity, which always brought him into contact with the people, as if much time had not passed since their return (C. 6, 30), as if this missionary journey had not only lasted a very short time, but had also only begun and ended in the mind of the evangelist.


And why must Jesus have been on a journey through the villages of Caesarea Philippi when he asked the disciples about the opinion of the people and learned about the threefold view, which was already detailed in another way by the evangelist above, when it was said that Herod saw in Jesus the resurrected Baptist, but others assumed in him Elijah, others one of the prophets? So Herod is no longer alone in his view? He found proselytes? Oh no! Above, Herod had to see in Jesus the resurrected Baptist, so that, among others, Mark would have the opportunity to report the end of John, some had to assume Elijah in Jesus, because Mark is about to report deeds of Jesus that are Elijah-like, and others had to see one of the prophets in Jesus for the sake of dear symmetry. But why must Jesus, if he is to hear of these popular opinions, travel to the region of Caesarea Philippi? So that he might be near the region where Mark thinks the Herods and Herod’s judgment of Jesus at that time were pronounced, so that he might be near a city whose epithet reminds one of the Herods.

If the miracle reports no longer exist for us, i.e. if we have not heard a word yet that is, if we have not yet heard a word that could inform us in the least about Jesus and his historical existence, if even the last report of Mark has unravelled, the theologian could still stir in us in the end and, in the anguish of despair, draw the still genuinely theological conclusion that at least it is historical that Jesus was only recognised as Messiah by his disciples in the last days of his life. This is again nothing, because it is still a theological quackery! How can we draw a conclusion about the historical circumstances when all the data that we can and should use have disappeared from our hands? A Messiah who does not perform miracles and who does not perform miracles incessantly is impossible, is an impossibility. Jesus could not consider himself to be the Messiah and could not demand that he be recognised as such if he did not perform miracles, and it could not occur to the twelve, who have long since ceased to exist for us, to consider him to be the Messiah if they did not see him perform miracles. Jesus could only be considered the Messiah when he performed miracles, but he only performed miracles when he rose in the faith of the congregation as the Messiah, and that was one and the same fact, that he rose as the Messiah and that he performed miracles. This resurrection of his, this revelation of him as the Messiah, was the miracle of all miracles, and this miracle of all miracles, of which all other miracles were natural consequences, was the resurrection and the spiritual birth of the Messiah, because it was a fact of religious consciousness.

The fact that Mark only reveals the Messiahship of Jesus to the disciples on the journey to Caesarea Philippi, namely now, when Jesus’ career is about to come to an end, has already been explained by the fact that Mark still has a kind of feeling that Jesus has not been recognised and acknowledged as the Messiah by the people, not even by his immediate surroundings in the flat way that the later imagined. His conception and presentation of the matter is the later development carried over into the past, through which it finally came to a Christian community for which Jesus had become the Messiah. In addition, he was guided by an artistic instinct which moved him to let the interest, the development of faith, develop gradually, so that only after a long period of Jesus’ activity, indeed almost only at the end of it, does faith arise in the circle of the disciples, and only afterwards, after the herald of the larger crowd of believers has greeted the Lord in the blind man of Jericho, does the faith of the people mature and express itself at the solemn entry into Jerusalem. Admittedly, this artistic concept had to be completely spoiled when Jesus performed miracles and had to perform miracles as the Messiah, which should have made him recognisable to every child as the Messiah. We cannot, therefore, accuse Matthew very severely if he has somewhat more crudely thwarted this artistic concept, which he still mechanically preserved in its outward structure in his work, by having Jesus openly call Himself the Messiah beforehand and having not a few acknowledge Him as such. And the Fourth had no special work of art to destroy when he presented the matter in such a way that everyone who wanted to could know from the beginning that Jesus was the Messiah.


Of the numerous consequences that follow from this result, we must now emphasise some that relate to the designation of the Messiah as the Son of Man.


5. The Messiah as the Son of Man.

In the prophecy, as in the fulfilment, the Messiah was only an ideal product of religious consciousness; he did not exist as a sensually given individual. Everything that is valid for religious consciousness is always only its own deed and creation. Even the Dalai-Lama is as such the work and creature of his servants.

The designation of the Messiah as the Son of Man was only created when the Messiah came into existence for the Christian consciousness, and was only created late, as it first appears in the Gospel of Mark..

The external material of the name is borrowed from the well-known passage in the Book of Daniel, where it is described how the Messiah approaches the throne of the Ancient of Days on the clouds of heaven like the Son of Man, i.e. in human form, and it is now generally acknowledged that from this material, through Christian reworking, the form arose in which, as its most significant name says, human nature has produced a fruit in which it is itself reborn and transfigured as the true man.


“In the choice of expression,” says Weisse, presupposing that Jesus chose and formed it for himself, “a noble modesty manifests itself alongside a sublime sense of self, which does not aggressively impose the high sense it wants to express like a hawker. *)  We have freed Jesus from the glory of this modesty, which would still inwardly tickle itself over the sublime meaning of the expression and over the difficulty which the insidious title should have for the reflection of the hearers. As the expression came into being, it was clear to everyone who heard it, and, apart from being modest about it, it is rather the expression of the highest reverence, which first saw in Jesus the true man, the true fruit of the species. There is, however, one side to it, where it denotes a condescension, only we must understand the nature of it correctly. He describes the humanisation of religion, the turning of religion into humanity and the drawing down of Jewish consciousness, for which the highest was only the One beyond, in the One who is man here on earth among men. Therein lies the attractive power of the expression. But since it is again religious, it necessarily alienates the species from its fruit, from the fruit into which it has thrown all its essential power, and it makes even the human appearance, in which the religious consciousness of humanity beholds humanity, an otherworldly transcendent object.

*) I, 324. 325.

All the conclusions that one wants to draw from the use that Jesus made of this expression are unfounded, since Jesus did not use it. All those answers to the question as to what the Messianic plan of Jesus was like, whether it was at the same time a political or a purely ideal one, these answers are sufficiently appreciated by the fact that we forget them and delete the question. Only someone else should try to raise the question again and even answer it before he has the little phrases that he necessarily needs, taken from the arsenal of criticism.. The Gospels, as a creation of the congregation, teach us only how the kingdom of heaven, i.e. the idea of the kingdom of heaven, was understood in the congregation at the time when it came into being. And if it then seems, as, for example, Weisse also says, while he, of course, wants to enlighten us according to his presupposition about the consciousness of Jesus, that it is ideally conceived *), then this conception, too, is still very much in need of correction. To be sure, the kingdom of heaven of the church is not the Messiah’s kingdom of the prophets, and it is partly correct to say that the Old Testament concept of the kingdom of God was “transformed and spiritualized” in the New Testament; but if the political fury of the prophetic Messiah and the wonderful material ornamentation of the Old Testament kingdom of God were kept away from the church, then all this was kept away only in the sense that in the future all these beautiful things would return.

In the future, the struggle of the Kingdom of Heaven with the world is at the same time a political one – (with Rome, the whore of Babylon) – and in the completed alignment of the Kingdom of Heaven, the wonderful matter and the material, very sensual miracle are not missing. But we do not even need to look so far into the future, for Jesus is already performing miracles that are so strong and striking as only a prophet full of his Messiah could expect. Religious consciousness cannot do without the materialism of miracles, because even when it makes the spirit its watchword, it still does not know the real spirit, the spiritual mediation.

*) l, 327.


The correct understanding of this relationship saves us from many troubles, both in general and in detail, and spares us the effort of making Jesus into an overly clever man who ultimately gains nothing from his cleverness and is always pursued by the specter he wants to escape. For example, Mark (8:30) reports that Jesus immediately forbade the disciples to tell anyone about Peter’s confession. Theologians and apologetic critics *) say that Jesus did not want to get involved with Jewish expectations and imaginings about the Messiah. But what about the specter that Jesus was said to have always had in his back? Was this really evidence of that alleged “unwillingness to engage”? Was this really a man, a real man, who, in order to deal with a specter that he believed was pursuing him, simply tried to flee from it and didn’t even want to know its name? Isn’t it rather the duty of a man to confront such phantasms and to debunk them in front of others? And was it really the right way to instruct the disciples, who for the first time recognized and confessed him as the Messiah, about the manner in which he was, if all he had to say on this occasion was that they should not speak to anyone about it?

*) E. g. Weisse, I, 530.


Jesus forbids the disciples to speak of the matter to others, because the pragmatism of the primal gospel would have it so, because the faith of the people should only arise later in the way we have seen it. Luke, from whose account we still have a glimpse,


6. The account of Luke.

C. 9, 18 – 23.

Lukas has connected this prohibition with the following words of Jesus that the “Son of Man” **) must suffer, when he presents the matter in such a way that Jesus thinks that his impending suffering is the reason why they should not reveal his messianic dignity to anyone – as if such a thing could be hidden under a bushel! *). However, Luke, who in a moment later was capable of rashness, had the crowd of seventy cast out the demons in the name of the Lord (C. 10, 17), was the least able to make clear to himself the vague hint of connection that he thought he heard here. 

We only note that according to the pragmatism of the Ur-Gospel, the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah was necessary precisely to bring about his hour of suffering, that Luke, by inserting his reflection into the text, excluded the not unimportant remark of Mark that Jesus now began to speak openly and without reservation about the necessity of his suffering, and that it is in Mark’s Gospel that this word about suffering has its original and powerful place as a contrast to the rising of the light in which the Lord now appears to the disciples, and to Peter’s “fleshly” wish that his master might be spared from suffering. This scene, in which Peter seizes the Lord and urges him not to think of such things – Matthew has formed the words: “God forbid, Lord, this will not happen to you”. – that Jesus turns around, threatens and resists Peter and says: “Get thee away from me, Satan – thou art an offence unto me!” Matthew has him add **) – “Thou thinkest not what is God’s, but what is man’s:” – Luke has omitted this scene and robbed the following speech of Jesus, which he nevertheless copies from Mark, the speech about the necessity that his followers must also suffer, of its next motive.

**) Now, did Mark and Luke, who both put the same word here, also have the conception that it did not designate the Messiah as closely or as definitely as the other?

*) Luk. 8, 21. 22 παρήγγειλε μηδενί ειπείν τούτο είπων- ότι δει ….

**) Matth. 16, 23. Cf. v. 27 and 13, 41.


Luke himself must have revealed that he omitted an intermediate element when he forms the transition to this speech with the remark: “But he said to all” (9:23), a remark that only has its place when the negotiation with an individual precedes it.


We have to admit that Luke partially corrected a small mistake of Mark when he vaguely says that Jesus spoke to everyone. The original Gospel writer, in his account, introduced a progression: after Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was, Peter speaks up, then he appears again when Jesus talks about his suffering, and then when Peter forcibly grabs him and tries to persuade him, Jesus turns around and looks at all the disciples while calling Peter Satan. Finally, Jesus summons the crowd to hear the teachings on the duties of true followers of the suffering Messiah. And yet, we must imagine Jesus completely alone with his disciples when he asked them about the opinion of the people, alone with the disciples to whom he has just proclaimed the necessity of his suffering and whom he has forbidden to speak publicly about his messianic dignity when he says that his followers must take up their cross. What did the crowd understand about the cross or even about the necessity of suffering if they had not heard anything about the suffering of the Messiah before? Where does the crowd come from when Jesus has been thinking alone with his disciples so far? Mark made a mistake by suddenly conjuring up the crowd, thinking and rightly thinking – after all, he only sees the congregation in the crowd – that the following sayings are too general not to be heard by everyone.

He made a mistake, but Luke made an even bigger mistake when he wrote: Jesus spoke to all, and when he still omitted the negotiations with Peter. Matthew slightly toned down the escalation that Mark had brought into his account when, after Jesus’ dialogue with Peter, he noted (16:24) that the Lord spoke the following sayings to the disciples.


To those who, like Schleiermacher, *), are concerned with a rather complete pragmatism and who everywhere are looking for a rather crude, real and tangible story, Luke can seem to prepare a real joy of the heart by the way in which he connects the accounts here. It is not enough that he connects the question of the people’s voice with the sending out and return of the disciples so closely that it seems Jesus wanted to ask his missionaries about the experiences they had gathered on their journey – for no sooner have they returned than Jesus feeds the multitudes, and when he has withdrawn from them into solitude for prayer, he asks the disciples what they think of him – but the connection is even closer, because if we were talking about the multitudes, Jesus now asks the disciples not what “the people” but the “multitudes” think of him (C. 9, 10 -18). This close connection alone – as if Jesus could not have recognized and judged the view of the crowds he was dealing with by means of his keen insight – destroys this wonderful pragmatism and destroys it to such an extent that we hardly need to remind ourselves of it, that we hardly need to remember how the way in which Luke introduces the account of the feeding has long since resolved itself for us, and the reason why he does not have the other accounts here, which he read in the writing of Mark at this point, has cleared itself up for us.

*) A. a. O. p. 135.

We only need to note that he suppressed the note of the journey to Caesarea Philippi here because he still wants to report many journeys and deeds of Jesus, even the sending of the Seventy, i.e. that journey, which in the Gospel gives the impression that it is the last before the departure to Jerusalem and because of the conversation about the sufferings the preparation for the last journey, he was not allowed to mention because he still wants to write many chapters before the catastrophe comes.


But he helped himself very badly. He broke the frame and threw it away, and he put the picture in his writing. He copies Jesus’ speech to Mark about the necessity of his suffering, a speech that is supposed to prepare us for the approach of the catastrophe, and – he writes so many more chapters. He has helped himself very badly; he strained out gnats but swallowed camels.. Only in the writing of Mark do these prophecies of Jesus about his death have their proper place and, in relation to the passages in the book, their true harmony. Matthew, on the whole, has given these sayings their proper place, but has cancelled their harmony with the more definite arrangement of the subsections. The Fourth can hardly be mentioned in comparison with the Synoptics, since the idea of the suffering of the Messiah is already expressed at the moment when Jesus only shows himself from afar and has not even stepped onto the stage, thus introducing this Gospel of the heart.