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and which do not, therefore, bear upon them the same characters of strict historical truth; and that the miraculous, with which the ancient history of Israel is so thickly interspersedthe belief imbibed with the earliest lessons of the home and the synagogue, that the God of their fathers was ever present in the midst of them, and might at any moment directly interfere for their benefit-predisposed the Jewish people to behold in the words and acts of Jesus a repetition of the old prophetic wonders, and to interpret everything which related to him from the supernatural point of view. This statement excludes from the domain of proper history, some of the most remarkable miracles recorded in the gospels, and, with regard to the rest, leaves the line between the natural though extraordinary and exceptional, and the strictly supernatural, very indistinctly drawn. In the application of these views, Ewald is often extremely whimsical and arbitrary. He seems, for instance, to understand Christ's first miracle at Cana of Galilee in a symbolical sense. It was the joyous influence of his spirit which made the guests drink water as wine.* The story in Matthew (xvii. 27), about Peter's finding a piece of money in the fish's mouth for the payment of the tribute, is not accepted by our author as historical fact, though it is the obvious purport of the original text that it should be so understood.+ So again, the destruction of the swine, and the cure of the demoniac, narrated in Mark (v. 11-16), are regarded as having been originally mere coincidences, afterwards connected as cause and effect by the ingenuity of the popular belief; for the region where the transaction occurred was inhabited by heathens.‡ In these instances we discern a partial recurrence to the old rationalistic method of reducing by interpretation the miraculous to the natural, which we supposed had reached its acme in Paulus, and been since abandoned. The raising of Lazarus, the most stupendous miracle narrated in the New Testament, and described with the utmost particularity by John, is idealized, against the plain meaning of the passage, into a strong assurance inspired by the presence of Christ, of the resurrection of all his friends at the last day. To
"Das Wasser selbst wird unter seinem Geiste zum besten Weine." "Soll denn das Wasser im besten Sinne des Wortes nicht überall auch jetzt noch zu Weine werden, wo sein Geist in voller Kraft thätig ist ?" p. 224. † p. 344.
“Nur der Judäische Volkswitz konnte mitten in dem lebendigen Wogen der Vorstellungen über die unreinen Geister und ihr Gelüste an den unreinen Schweinen, diesen Zusammenhang so eng ziehen und so in diese Erzählung verflechten." p. 299.
guard against possible misrepresentation, we give Ewald's own words: :
"Who can read this long and most affecting narrative, and not experience in his own breast, from its whole form and character, a reflection of that infinite and triumphant joy with which the first Christians looked on the death of the friends of Christ, and anticipated his own appearance at the appointed season as the restorer of life? It was only the look forwards into that great future, which could penetrate the apostle's remembrance of this insulated occurrence of the past, with so elevated a joy, and clothe his words in this passage as with a celestial glory. The most beautiful feature in the narration is misunderstood, when this fact is overlooked or denied." * p. 361.
It is in perfect consistency with this mode of treating the subject, that the resurrection of Christ, on which the mass of Christians build their chief hope of a future life, should be considered simply as an "eternal glorification" (ewige Verherrlichung), which belongs to the belief of the apostolic period, and cannot, therefore, as a fact, enter into the proper History of Christ." We are far from denying the difficulties which surround this mysterious subject, nor are we at all indisposed to lend a candid ear to any suggestion proceeding from so thoughtful and reverent an inquirer as Ewald; but the question is one which adheres to the very substance of historical Christianity as set forth in the New Testament; and what we miss in Ewald, is the statement of any definite and intelligible principle to which his interpretation of the miraculous can be referred. His mode of procedure is altogether arbitrary and gratuitous.
Unless we are prepared to regard the miraculous element of the Biblical narratives as the result of wanton and shameless fabrication, depriving the book in which it is so thickly strewed of all claim to belief and respect (and there are few of the most hardy unbelievers who will go to this extent), there are only three methods by which we can dispose of this most
It is remarked by Ewald, that John's gospel contains one well-selected example of each of Christ's principal exertions of supernatural power: viz. (1) A transformation of substances, ii. 1-10; (2) Cure of a fever, iv. 47—54 ; (3) Healing of the lame, v. 1—–9; (4) Feeding of multitudes, vi. 4—13; (5) Walking on a stormy sea, vi. 16-21; (6) Restoration of sight to the blind, ix. 1–7; (7) Raising the dead, xi. 1-46. All these miracles are described with great fulness of detail, and the series is terminated by the most wonderful of them, the resurrection of Lazarus. The number seven may be accidental, but it should not be unnoticed. From the eleventh chapter no miracle is recorded by John till the resurrection of Christ himself. Gesch. Chr. p. 359, note.
difficult part of scriptural interpretation-perhaps, also, a fourth, which consists of a certain combination of the former three. (1). There is the attempt which was made with great earnestness at the close of the last, and the commencement of the present, century, to explain away all the miraculous histories of the Bible into a misconception or exaggerated representation of natural events and appearances. This was the favourite procedure of the old German rationalism, assuming the general authenticity and credibility of the Scriptures, and finding under every apparent expression of the supernatural, a positive nucleus of historical fact. This system was carried out with unflinching consequentiality by Paulus, in his celebrated "Leben Jesu;" and he had at least the merit of fairly testing it, and proving how utterly baseless it was, by the forced interpretations and the absurd evasion of inevitable results which it necessarily involved. (2). There is the mythical theory, adopted by those who see the impossibility of converting the supernatural into common history by a simple process of exegesis. It is the essence of this theory, to view the miraculous of Scripture as originating from the first in a sensuous or symbolical conception of what is in itself simply ideal and spiritual-an apprehension of mental states and operations as outward events -a conversion of thought into history-a rendering of the subjective into the objective. This mythical working of the mind marks a necessary phase of human development; for it is the only way in which rude and simple natures are capable of realizing to themselves the relations which they are dimly conscious of sustaining to the spiritual and the unseen: and those who uphold this theory of scriptural interpretation, would refer to the accounts of Christ's baptism, temptation, and transfiguration, as notable examples of it. George Laurence Bauer, in his "Hebrew Mythology of the Old and New Testaments," where he has compared the miraculous narratives of the Bible with the myths of other histories and literatures, indicates the transition from the old rationalism of Paulus to the mythical theory which succeeded it, and which, to a certain extent, and for certain portions of Scripture, has been approved and applied by some of the most distinguished theologians of the last generation-amongst whom it may suffice to specify Schleiermacher and De Wette. But the individual who has the most decidedly adopted the mythic system, and developed it with the most thorough consistency in relation to Christianity, is David Frederic Strauss, who has done for this theory what Paulus did for the old rationalistic-taken it as far as it will go, and put its sufficiency to the proof. And it is of ulti* Leipzig, 1802.
mate service to truth, that there should always be some resolute and one-sided minds that will fearlessly follow out any hypothesis which they have adopted, and push it to its last possible result. No candid inquirer will henceforth deny, that there are parts of the sacred narrative where the mythic principle has been clearly in operation: but that the rich and varied story, so full of life in its minutest veins, so expressive of deep and earnest reality in its most unguarded and unconscious aspects, which is set before us in the New Testament, is one floating web of myth, loosely connected with the smallest central point of historical fact a mere reflection of the supernatural wonders of the past in the dreamy consciousness of a small enthusiastic sect-that the creative fantasy of the church generated Christ and his history, and not Christ's personality the church-has ever struck us as the very wildest extravagance of theory-the most singular inversion of the natural order of ideas-the most curious instance of a critical vσтeрov πрóτeрov that is to be found in the pathology of literature-an abnormal effort of learning and ingenuity, which only the fascination of preconceived theory could have rendered possible to a mind so acute and logical, and in other respects so dispassionate and truth-seeking, as that of Strauss. (3). There remains the system of supernaturalism, which accepts the miraculous narratives of Scripture, just as they are given, in their literal truth, as evidence of God's sanction of the doctrine delivered by men whom he had empowered to perform wonderful works in his name. This is still the idea involved in the prevalent conception of revealed religion-the belief, at least the avowed and recognized belief, of the great majority of professing Christians in this country: and it must be admitted, that, as a simple question of scriptural exegesis, this theory is attended with the fewest difficulties, and is most consistent with itself. Nevertheless, on a broader view, connecting Christianity with the general history of our race, and with the dominant laws which govern the administration of the universe, the subject confessedly has its difficulties, which have been felt by the most religious minds, and have led them to the inquiry, whether it might not be possible, without weakening their trust in the great doctrines of which the Bible is the vehicle, to escape the necessity of taking as simple historical fact the whole mass of the miraculous contained in Scripture. Yet the real difficulties are not precisely those which most obviously suggest themselves; they are neither metaphysical nor religious. A believer in a God of boundless power must allow his perfect command over laws which he himself established; nor can a believer in his infinite wisdom and goodness refuse to admit, that he may occasionally
control their ordinary operation, when the well-being of his creatures can in this way be more effectually accomplished: any objection founded on either of these considerations is, at bottom, atheistic-at least pantheistic. The difficulty, as we conceive it, lies in the application and the extent of the principle which the admission of the miraculous involves. Does supernatural interference impress an absolute character of divine approval on the entire system of actions and events in the midst of which it occurs, so as to suspend the exercise of all moral judgment respecting them? If not, where does the weight of its presumed sanction fall? Can it in this case confer any specific sanction whatever? Must not reason and the moral sense decide after all independently on the claims of every case for which these supernatural credentials are alleged; and then the miraculous can only confirm the sentence of a prior judge? If, on the other hand, it be argued, that the supernatural confines its sanction to the particular act with which it is immediately connected, we are driven to the necessity of regarding, as direct appointments of God, Elijah's merciless slaughter of the prophets of Baal, for following a different faith and worship from his own; Elisha's vengeful sacrifice of little children to wild beasts for a mere outburst of infantine petulance; and even in the New Testament, the gratuitous and uncompensated destruction of another's property in the drowning of a whole herd of swine. Again, to define logically the extent of the supernatural principle in religious history, ever appeared to us a matter of as much difficulty as determining the precise point of its application. It is usual to confine it within the limit of the canonical Scriptures, and to affirm that its manifestations cease with the last of the apostles. But this is a limit, as every one who has studied the subject perfectly well knows, most arbitrarily and uncritically drawn. Evidence of the same kind which suffices for our acceptance of the Scripture miracles, cannot be denied to attach to many statements that we meet with far down in the subsequent ages of ecclesiastical history; and acceptance or rejection of the one seems to require, in consistency, acceptance or rejection of the other.* John Henry Newman has maintained this view of the case with much acuteness in an essay prefixed to a portion of Fleury's "History of the Church;" and it would be difficult to find a satisfactory reply to some of
See, for instance, as late as the seventeenth century, the extraordinary accumulation of testimony to the cure by the "Holy Thorn," in the establishment of the Port Royal, from men of learning and intelligence, not previously inclined to believe-adduced by Racine in his " Abrégé de l'Histoire de Port Royal." Euvres de Jean Racine. Paris, 1813. Tom. iv.