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ART. VIII.— REVIEW OF CURRENT LITERATURE.
DR. FURNESS has added to his series of original and striking studies of the Gospels, by a translation of remarkable felicity and skill from a writer of kindred spirit, but of views often quite different from his The work of Dr. Schenkel, which has received this high testimony to its excellence and value, represents a style of moderate and pious liberalism, more familiar, we apprehend, to the German mind than to ours. It is also distinguished by a limitation and precision of aim, implying a certain modesty of judgment, and helping to keep the subject itself free of dogmatic assumptions and false expectations. It states frankly, at the outset, that we have not the materials for a Life of Jesus, - only for a Portrait. Renan has failed in his representation of the character, in aiming at too great completeness in the history. Of that character we have a "clearer image" in Mark than in either of the other Gospels, and along with it a more fresh and almost a first-hand narrative: the writer refers, with much confidence, to the Urmarcus, or original Gospel, differing considerably from the present form, as the real first authority for the portrait he seeks. Matthew and Luke represent successive stages of a "literary reconstruction" of the narrative, in which the primitive outline is already somewhat disguised; while there is an "insurmountable difficulty" in accepting the fourth Gospel in any sense at all that makes it of much value as an historical authority. In fact, the most prominent critical feature in the work is the extremely positive, clear, and decisive argument — decisive, we mean, as to the writer's own conviction against the genuineness of that Gospel; together with his protest against the "bigoted sophistry" which attempts to foreclose the argument by an appeal to religious prejudice.
These points indicate the writer's general position, which is maintained with good ability and the best of temper; also with an easy, ample, and familiar scholarship, too rare in popular works of this
* The Character of Jesus Portrayed; a Biblical Essay. With an Appendix. By Dr. DANIEL SCHENKEL, Professor of Theology, Heidelberg. Translated from the German edition. With Introduction and Notes, by W. H. FURNESS, D.D. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co. 2 vols. pp. 279, 359.
nature among us, which Dr. Furness has done a great service by placing within our easy reach. The undogmatic character of the book will prevent its being acceptable to either extreme wing of the religious public; while the evident check of a devout—not to say ecclesiastical — spirit and motive upon the freedom of its criticism lays it open, here and there, to the charge of feebleness and indecision. In its treatment of the cardinal question of miracles, it is, perhaps, better adapted to German habits of thought than ours. With an evident purpose not to deal in denials, and to accept the record for precisely as much as it can be fairly interpreted to mean, it shows as evident a reluctance (as Dr. Furness has remarked) to admit, fairly and squarely, any thing which is strictly a miracle proper, and can be explained into nothing else. Thus it accepts, without scruple and with but slight reserve, the works of healing, vindicating them by a very interesting discussion of the physiological truths or doctrines they imply; stories of control over the elements of nature, and the like, it treats undisguisedly as "legend" and "myth,” holding them to belong to a later period of belief, as they are found mainly in later portions of the narrative; accounts of the raising of the dead are unauthentic, or a mistake; the resurrection of Jesus himself, it holds, existed only in the pious imagination of his disciples. In all these points he is met with distinct and steady protest by his translator, who rejoices, in each instance, to accept the narrative as it stands, the more marvellous, the better illustration of that “ nature" whose highest type he sees in the life of Jesus. We wish he were more explicit in conveying and vindicating his conception of this phrase, which, to his own mind, is so large, living, and glorious as to include with ease what most of us are obliged to remand to the vaster domain of the "supernatural." As examples of the difference we have mentioned, in the case of the daughter of Jairus, Dr. Schenkel takes for literal fact the words of Jesus, "The maid is not dead, but sleepeth;" and the raising of Lazarus is barely alluded to, as if obviously unauthentic, and out of place in the narrative: while, in each of these instances, Dr. Furness finds an illustration, particularly vivid and dear to him, of his conception both of the character of Jesus and of the nature of his works. So frequent, indeed, is this difference and protest, that the book itself is a singular illustration of that harmony of spirit and motive, which, on a higher plane of thought, brings together minds that must be ranked, we think, plainly on opposite sides of the line of division in sharpest prominence now.
Considering the book as a systematic recast of the gospel narrative, it has overmuch the air of a paraphrase, with comments for edification. This was perhaps inevitable, if it would avoid the opposite qualities of Strauss and of Renan, of being a mere criticism upon the text, or else a free, imaginative construction. For the student, — who seeks positive results as stepping-stones, and is content to make absolutely sure of a little ground, hoping that the rest will be firmer by and by, the more valuable portions will be those discussions which deal with definite points of criticism. But the main motive of the book is a practical and pious one: indeed, the definiteness of its theological view is in marked contrast with its vagueness of scientific handling. The reality of the Christian faith, and of the redeeming work of Christ, make the central thought, to be illustrated by a generous exposition of these earliest documents of that faith. In this, as well as in its style of speculation and its wealth of erudition, it is again in curious contrast with the limited range, the set ethical purpose, the official temper, the secular and assertatory style, of "Ecce Homo." We take these two books, thus discriminated, as studies of high value. Perhaps the value we attach to the first we take partly on the credit of the translator, who has given it an immensely added value of his own, both in the literary form under: which he has presented it, and by blending with it the ripest results of his own long-continued, congenial, and devoted study. J. H. A.
ATHANASE COQUEREL, the younger, deprived of his parochial charge in Paris by the bigotry and terror of re-actionary Calvinism, is doing good service in giving to the world the views of the Liberal faith, in a form that the people can understand and enjoy. His new work "On the First Historical Transformations of Christianity" * expresses the substance of a great deal of reading and thought. In successive chapters, it sets forth the Christianity before Christ; the actual teaching of Jesus; the Jewish interpretation of the gospel ; the Hellenist interpretation of the gospel; how it was modified by Paul; how it was modified by Peter; how it was modified by John; the changes made in it by the Roman spirit; the Christianity of the early Fathers, Greek and Latin, Catholic and heretic; the Christianity of Constantine: and the conclusion of all is, that these modifi
* Des Premières Transformations Historiques du Christianisme. Par ATHANASE COQUEREL, Fils. Paris. 18mo. pp. 198.
cations of the original gospel were natural, necessary, honest; and that they help us to know it better, and value it more highly. He finds the Johannic type of faith perpetuated in the Greek Orthodox Church; the Petrine Jewish type, in the Roman Church; the Pauline type, in the Protestant Church. His little book is written in a clear, simple, serious style; and is invaluable to those who would find a summary of the opinion of the early Christian time. There is a deep reverence for the character of the Saviour, while there is a full recognition of the influence that both Pagan and Jewish thought had upon his utterances of truth. There is an intimation, at the close of the volume, that the plan may be farther followed, and that a sequel will give the larger history of the "Variations" of later ages. Such a history may be the antidote to the partial and harsh work of Bossuet.
ANOTHER recent contribution of the indefatigable Coquerel the younger to the ecclesiastical history of the French Protestant Church is an account of the "Forçats," or galley-slaves, * who were imprisoned and tortured in the reigns of the later Bourbons for no offence but their sturdy Protestantism. It is a very curious chapter of religious bigotry and oppression. The particular story of two of these victims, Marteilhe de Bergerac, noble by descent, and Jean Fabre, is told at length; and in an appendix is given the touching and simple autobiography of this Jean Fabre, who gave himself voluntarily to the slavery of the galleys as the substitute for his old father. There is nothing in all the annals of martyrdom more beautiful than this relation. This martyrdom for the sake of affection and conscience is the more remarkable, that we find in the story of Fabre no trace of pietism or fanaticism. He was more a philosopher than a religionist.
At the close of the volume, M. Coquerel gives a most carefully arranged list, in alphabetical order, for each year, of the names, ages, residences, and, in some cases, occupations and conditions, of the fifteen hundred who were arrested and condemned in that interval of ninety years, for the sole crime of an unlawful belief. Among these are found the names of many of noble birth; and rich and poor, high and low, meet as brethren in suffering on this roll of honor. Much as English heretics were called to endure, the sufferings of
* Les Forçats pour la Foi. Étude Historique (1684–1775). Par ATHANASE COQUEREL, Fils.
French heretics were far keener. The only fair parallel to these is in the sufferings of the prisoners at Salisbury and Andersonville, in the hands of the Southern chivalry.
C. H. B.
SOME five years ago, we had occasion to notice the History of Satan," by the Abbé Lécanu, written in the spirit of most pious belief in the Devil and his doings. The more recent work of Gastineau on the same theme, while it repeats some of Lécanu's facts, and goes over his ground, does this in the spirit of entire scepticism, in the interest of stience, and not of religion. M. Gastineau hates the Devil, finds him a nuisance in the world, the plague of all ages, the hinderance to all knowledge, a chimera of superstition and priestly cunning. He has collected a vast mass of curious facts to prove the iniquities and absurdities into which this belief in the Devil entices men. He has ransacked history, ancient and modern, for tales of demoniac possession; and has certainly made the Satan of the Church, and the Satan of the popular fear, a very uncomfortable personage to believe in. He has done in a different way the work which Balthazar Bekker, a Protestant minister of Amsterdam, did, two hundred years ago, who, in order to kill the Devil, was thought to have spoiled the principal dogmas of saving faith, and to have annihilated the Christian religion.
There is too much repetition in Gastineau's work, and some of the facts are so gross as to make it unfit for translation. We are reminded of the novels of the late Mr. Ingraham in the theory here stated and discussed, that Mary Magdalen was not only a harlot, but that she undertook to win Jesus to an impure love for her. The book, indeed, has overmuch to say of "Madame Satan,” that is, the work of Satan through the female sex; yet we are promised another special work on "Madame Satan."
A good history in the English tongue of the idea and influence of the Devil in the world is a thing yet to be desired.
HISTORY AND POLITICS.
THAT certainly cannot be a bad philosophy which affirms that the fundamental doctrine of social life is the subordination of politics to morals; and it is in the light of that philosophy that the clever essays
* Monsieur et Madame Satan. Par BENJAMIN GASTINEAU. Paris. 12mo. pp. 552.
VOL. LXXXII.-NEW SERIES, VOL. III. NO. I.