« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
of Christianity from ideas of thinkers, that Plato's speculation on a state has not yet been able to effect the founding of a state. Properly he knows no church. Paul, he says, deified Jesus and this was continued in the Epistle to the Hebrews and in the fourth Gospel. Paul did so, as he allowed himself to be borne upward in the air without ballast in a balloon filled with fancy. We are unable to conceive who could seriously find in the clear and dialectic Paul a fantast, and still less to comprehend how by a voyage in a “phantasie-gefullte Ballon in die Lüfte" an edifice could have been erected, such as the Christian church, which has for centuries stood on immoveable base and foundation.
In spite of all this, Strauss makes it appear as if Schleiermacher was fundamentally in agreement with his main principle. He assures us, when he begins to speak of his teacher : “More clearly and definitely had neither Herder nor Paulus comprehended the impossibility of a miracle than Schleiermacher.” Designedly untrue Strauss is not, but he absolutely does not comprehend Schleiermacher. It is with him as with one who has blue, red, or yellow glasses before his eyes and now sees every thing red, yellow, or blue. As long as he has no suspicion that those spectacles colour every thing, and so does not lay them aside, he must indeed see as they necessitate him. The glasses of Strauss are the understanding; not the intellectual power in general, but the lower faculty of knowing, in contrast with reason and mind. Taking understanding in this sense, we see in Strauss an intellective man, a one-sided intellective man only, reasoning on every thing. Certainly with him all begins, all proceeds, and all ends with reasoning, comprehending, thinking. It profits him nothing for understanding the things of God's kingdom, that he is an acute thinker, eminent stylist, and great scholar. A capitalist, who is rich and knows how to augment his treasures, derives from this ability no advantage whatever, to acquire also taste for and appreciation of the fine arts, to comprehend generosity and self-sacrifice, and to conceive of patriotism. To him Apollo Belvedere is a · piece of stone, Mary's act of love a waste.
Schleiermacher and Strauss stand externally very near each other, and, what is still more, the latter thinks he understands
the former. Yet he does not. Such a thing has often happened. Aristotle did not understand the ideal of his master Plato, Flacius Illyricus did not understand the freedom of Luther. Wolff meant to arrange the ideas of Leibnitz, and he petrified the ingenious thoughts of his master into lifeless dogmas. Fichte imagined that he was following Kant, and became, nevertheless, the opposite of that critic, a dogmatist. Just so Strauss comprehends nothing of Schleiermacher's life of faith, and his criticism therefore on the New Testament seems to him lame, his person an enigma.
On the whole Schleiermacher is not easy to comprehend; he certainly is absolutely unintelligible to a wholly dissimilar nature. Moreover, great defects are always very easily pointed out in him. In this Life of Jesus two things are especially embarrassing. First, an often unnecessary scepticism. But this harmonizes with his whole manner of viewing every matter. He is always critical, views things from all sides, has much to say for and against. He is a genuine dialectician in the sense of Plato. And this gives with many a difficulty also very great advantages. Secondly, a frequently recurring complaint of the incompleteness and the difference between the Evangelists, so that we do not know much, or are even uncertain respecting many circumstances of Jesus' life. That that incompleteness and that difference exist, is perfectly true, but is this a sufficient ground of complaint ? of complaint so excessive that what we know well and certainly, may, therefore, as is the case with Schleiermacher, be in good part overlooked. He laments that we do not know more about Jesus' birth, education, maintenance, daily labour, appearances after his resurrection, and similar matters, and in connection with these things he overlooks much that is important and well known; for instance, Jesus' mode of instruction, his use of similitudes, the education of his apostles according to their character in general and of each in particular, and much more of that nature. But on taking notice of all that we do not know, he thus not seldom overlooks the principal things which we know well. It is as if an astronomer complains that we cannot visit a single heavenly body beyond the earth, not even our own moon, and neglects, as we cannot know this, that, and the other thing, to reduce to
a whole what we know well. It is as if a connoisseur constantly complains of the painter, because he has given dark colours to various parts, is bent on knowing what those dark corners contain, and then does not attend to all the light parts, which the painter intended to bring out. Respecting these things he may not murmur. The great artist had his reasons, which we must respect, whilst we thankfully receive from his hand what he gives, and study and seek to understand this. The Evangelists are not indeed such artists; they have often given concisely what happened to Jesus. But above them stands Divine Providence, that has given us through them so much respecting Jesus as we need to know in order to find in Him the Saviour of the world. What is not related, was certainly less necessary or unnecessary, would perhaps with many have drawn away their attention from the necessary. Let us then not complain of the dark with the light, of the unknowable with the clear in the portraiture of Jesus' life.
Yet Schleiermacher even in this book abounds in profound and sublime thoughts, by which the shrewdest and most upright are impressed, and from which they derive refreshment of mind and heart, and whereby they are stimulated to wholly new investigations. He very often appears like an eagle, that flies high above forests and fields of snow, and surveys the earth in its parts and its connection. Who can follow his flight?
But every one can follow and understand Strauss. His wisdom is the everyday understanding and the audacious denial of nearly every thing that is elevated above the virtue of the saloon and the wisdom of the street. And since this understanding is introduced and commended by singular shrewdness and very comprehensive learning, he makes impression on many, all whose bloom and fruit fall off, when touched by his icy breath. With this remark we close: if Strauss does not understand his countryman whom he personally knew and had as his instructor, how easily may he then err, when he must comprehend a Luke or John, or, indeed, Jesus himself.
For this he wholly lacks the spiritual organ.
ART. VII.- Observations on the difference between Renan,
Strauss, and Schleiermacher's Life of Jesus. By P. HoFSTEDE DE GROOT, Professor of Theology in the University of Groningen. Translated from the Dutch.
The Life of Jesus by Renan, published in the summer of 1863, was succeeded a half year later by one elaborated by Strauss, and this was a few months after followed by one from Schleiermacher. Thus in one year three biographies of our Lord from three celebrated men. They were not, however, composed at the same time. The work of Schleiermacher might have been published thirty-two years ago. There is, however, an adequate reason why it was not. The subject therein contained was treated by him in his lectures. From his hand were found after his death only short notes.
What his hearers had recorded was often imperfect, and indistinctly written, so that his friends, the editors of his posthumous works, for a long time were unable from different copies to compose a whole. Finally they obtained a complete and distinct manuscript which, after comparison with what had already been collected, is now published by K. A. Rütenik.
It is important to compare these three works with each other. It would be so on account of their authors, if they had written the life of some other person, for instance of Pythagoras or Socrates, of Luther or Napoleon; how much more now that the life of Jesus is their subject!
Let the question first be answered: What is the general view taken by each of Jesus' person?
Renan is an admirer of the French Revolution of 1789. Every great movement in the history of the world, thus also the reformation of the church in the sixteenth century and the founding of Christianity itself, he compares, consciously or unconsciously, sometimes expressly and often tacitly, with the French Revolution.
As this revolution was not the work of a single mart, but proceeded from a concurrence of circumstances, from the whole range of thought and from the passions of France in the former
century, which conducted the spirit of the French nation to that revolution: so must Christianity, according to him, also be the result of a general fermentation in the thoughts and opinions of the nations, especially of the Jewish nation in that age, which was full of Messianic expectations. Jesus may thus, in Renan's spirit, be compared to a Mirabeau or Sieyès, who, in 1789 and later, were the best exponents of what was passing in the spirit and mind of the French people in general. As they did not, however, bring the revolution to an end, Renan seeks another example with which to compare Jesus, in order to understand Him, and finds it in Mohammed, as he acknowledges himself towards the close of his Introduction. Just as it was with him, so he ascribes to Jesus also different periods, first of amiability, afterward of violence; first of fanaticism, then of hypocrisy. Therefore after the manner of Mohammed Jesus also effected a religious- revolution. Thus we obtain a portraiture of Jesus' life, but one that is in conflict with itself, an absurd mixture of truth and falsehood. With such a view Strauss cannot agree.
The external manner in which Christianity first appeared, its world-conquering power, makes not on him such an impression as on the much more vivacious Frenchman, who is politician and man of the world. Strauss is a German, is a close student, is a thinker. In contemplating Jesus his attention is not so much attracted by the revolution in the history of the world effected by Jesus, as by what Jesus thought. Jesus is to him with respect to religion, what Socrates was in the philosophic, Aristotle in the scientific domain. He borrows this comparison from Renan; but Renan did not remain true to it. And Renan's comparison of Jesus, with Mohammed, Strauss does not accept. Now Socrates. and Aristotle were with Strauss above all thinkers. The moral-religious ideas of Jesus are thus to him the principal thing.
Again, it is wholly otherwise with Schleiermacher. He is also thinker, but finer, deeper, and many more-sided. He lived in a greatly excited age, in the midst of society; he was moreover & religious man, chiefly by virtue of his education among the Moravians. Was he by natural talent a thinker, and did he find time and opportunity to develope that talent as pro