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lar imagination can invest a fiction with all the outward semblance of a fact. A village rumor, utterly without foundation, is thrice as natural in its form, as the most careful phrases of the historian. "Can a great man be concealed?" said Plato. But allow that great events must be recorded, and it does not follow that what claims to be the record of a great event, however natural, is strictly true. And hence, when Dr. Furness tells us that we ought to look "directly at the facts," he takes for granted every thing that criticism has been trying to discover for the last fifty years; viz., What are the facts? And, until we know more of this matter than we do at present, it is of the first importance to know when and by whom the first reports of Jesus and his work were written.
And to this part of his labors Dr. Schenkel has applied himself with a great deal of fairness and ability. His result is not very different from that of M. Renan, except that he assigns the fourth Gospel to a much lower rank of authenticity. Our nearest approach to Jesus is the "primitive Mark," of which the present Gospel by that name is an enlargement and exaggeration. This opinion is supported by various reasons, the most prominent of which, after the external testimony, are, that it has no literary aim, has much less of the legendary and miraculous, contains no fabled infancy, and no appearance after death. The estimate of Matthew is very similar to that of Renan and Réville. It is made up, principally, from the primitive Mark and the rà Aória spoken of by Papias. It shows, unmistakably, a literary purpose. Its object is to prove the Messianic dignity of Jesus. His life is viewed as something fixed beforehand, from the beginning to the end. It addresses itself, throughout, to Jewish prejudices. Jesus acts in one way rather than in another, not from internal desire, but from external necessity, in order that some prophecy of the Old Testament may be fulfilled. The literary aim in the third Gospel is even more apparent than in the first. It leans as far from the historic perpendicular in favor of the Gentiles as the first in favor of the Jews. It gives us the various legends in their latest, and hence gross
est, form. It is much more miraculous than the first Gospel, vastly more than the second. The legends of the infancy and the resurrection here assume their baldest form. The extra-Jewish features in the ministry of Jesus are much magnified, and the universal significance of his teachings everywhere made prominent. The arguments by which Dr. Schenkel seeks to prove that John did not write the fourth Gospel are the most masterly portions of his book. We should do injustice to their fulness and ability by attempting a synopsis of them. His own conviction on this point is complete; and he abides by it throughout his work, instead of using the fourth Gospel as if it were authentic, after having proved that it is not. The blunder of Renan is here continually before him. He fully realizes the impossibility of a consistent life of Jesus, that does not leave this Gospel out of the account. And, although his consequent success is far from complete, it is so much greater than it would otherwise have been, that we lament afresh that Renan did not feel at liberty to build with the material furnished by the first three Gospels; for, had he done so, the life of Jesus would have been written, as now we fear it will not be for many years to come.
And what is the conception of Jesus that Dr. Schenkel has discovered in the Synoptic Gospels? Certainly, it is a conception very different from that which the fourth Gospel has enshrined, and Christendom has always cherished. According to the fourth Gospel, there is no development of his religious or Messianic self-consciousness, no growth of his ideas. He is already at the first what he continues to be to the end. But the conception of the Synoptic Gospels involves the idea of development. By degrees, it is borne in upon his mind that he is the Messiah; not the Messiah of the Old Testament, not the Messiah that the Pharisees were looking for, but the Messiah, in a moral and spiritual sense, that was but barely hinted at in prophecy. By degrees, also, he widens the circle of his activity,― comes to the conclusion that it was not only "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" that he must try to save. And, when the idea of his work is fully formed in his own mind, it is only by degrees that he imparts
it to his disciples, and by still slower processes that he communicates it to the adherents of the Old Theocracy.
The first resolve to enter upon a public career awoke in Jesus at the call of John the Baptist. It is here that the "democratic twang," spoken of by the "London Quarterly," first makes itself evident. "The third Gospel, by a fine allusion, lets us read in the soul of Jesus the moving cause of his wishing to be baptized: When all the people were baptized,' then Jesus also suffered himself to be baptized." It is a beautiful idea; but we should like it better, if, in this case, it did not seem to be a last resort, on the part of Dr. Schenkel, to save us from the supposition that Jesus had any sins to repent of. Dr. Furness does well to rebuke this prudery. From positive impurity or malice, Jesus may at this time have been free; but he was yet far short of his ideal of holiness. It was long after that he said to the young man who called him "good master," "Why callest thou me good?" But Jesus does not long remain with the Baptist. He resolves to do an inde pendent work; concludes that John is doing, on the whole, more harm than good; and goes apart into the wilderness, to meditate upon the form of his mission and the methods by which it shall be carried on. The temptation which here awaits him is partly to misuse his working-wonder power, and partly to compromise with the theocracy. He triumphs over it, and goes back into the world to choose four disciples. (at first) from the middle class, and begin a ministry characterized by two assertions and by two demands. The assertions are: 1. The time is fulfilled, i.e., the time of the old order; 2. The kingdom of God is among you, i.e., is waiting to be realized by spiritual appropriation of its benefits. The demands are: 1. For a change of heart; "he insisted on a life moulded in one way from within; " 2. Faith, not in his person, but in the possibility of a new life in the kingdom of heaven, whose presence he declared to be a fact.
The limits of an article do not permit us to follow Dr. Schenkel in the subsequent details of the career which he ascribes to Jesus. His fame grew rapidly, with little opposition. At first he did not consider himself the Messiah, but
only a teacher of the people, the founder of a new era, the herald of the kingdom of God. The laws of this kingdom he unfolded with increasing clearness and boldness as the days went on. The necessary conflict between his purpose and the Old Theocracy became more apparent to him, and more evident to the hierarchy, with every word he spoke. At length he confesses to the disciples that he is the Christ. By what arguments he was convinced of this we are not told; but it was a turning-point in his mission. It bound the disciples to him more closely; it alienated, in like proportion, the Jewish theologues and priests. The impossibility of making any thing out of the old order growing stronger in the mind of Jesus, he resolves to break with it completely, to attack it with all the energy of his being. For this purpose he goes to Jerusalem. He is haunted with the idea of the suffering Messiah. To be this; to sacrifice himself; to crown his sacrifice with his death, and, dying, to drag down the tottering hierarchy into a grave thrice deeper than his own, this from henceforth is his ideal. The latter part of Dr. Schenkel's work is loaded with this thought, and he applies it to the records with an ingenuity that is sometimes almost startling. Still Jesus does not go out of his way to irritate his enemies. There is no need for him to do so: the crisis comes full soon enough. A few days in Jerusalem are sufficient to bring all the fury of the hierarchy down upon his head. But every preparation has been made. Mary has consecrated him to death; at a last supper with his followers he has formally established the communion, the New Theocracy of which he is to be the Paschal Lamb, the only sacrifice. Then comes the cross, and then the grave; and thenJesus is glorified.
"It is an indisputable fact, that, in the early morning of the first day of the week following the crucifixion, the grave of Jesus was found empty" (vol. ii. p. 313).
"It is a second fact, that the disciples and other members of the Apostolic Communion were convinced that Jesus was seen after his crucifixion" (vol. ii. p. 313).
VOL. LXXXII.-NEW SERIES, VOL. III. NO. II.
"There is a third fact: the appearances of Jesus after his death, related in the Gospels, had substantially no other character than that which marked the appearance of Christ to the Apostle Paul upon his journey to Damascus. Paul mentions the appearance of Christ to himself among the other appearances related in the Gospels, as in every respect of a like description. Thence we may conclude, that the accounts in the Gospels which represent the risen Master as having a material body cannot be well grounded. From the account in the Book of Acts, it does not appear that Jesus wrought any effect upon the apostle through the organs of a material body. It was an appearance of light attended by a voice, which, according to this representation, was perceived by Paul. He himself describes his vision of Christ as emphatically an inward revelation of Christ: It pleased God to reveal his Son in him'" (vol. ii. p. 314).
In this portrait of Jesus, which Dr. Schenkel has sketched with such a loving hand and reverent spirit, there is less, far less, in the features than in the expression to make us feel that we are really looking at that blessed face. It is in what is incidental, rather than in what is essential, to his treatment, that the finest touches will be found, and the impression of severest truthfulness received. One thing he has proved conclusively, that a true Life of Jesus does not necessarily arise from a right estimate of the Gospels, however indispensable such an estimate may be to such a Life. It is also necessary to be without bias, without preconceptions. He that would write the Life of Jesus, though he need not be without hypotheses, must be content to drop them just as fast as he discovers that they are not justified by the reports which he accepts as genuine. And he must not be too anxious to make the record square with his hypotheses. It may well be doubted whether the application of these tests to Dr. Schenkel's method would not reveal a leaning on his part to certain modes of thought, so strong as to unfit him for the task which he has undertaken. Never was a book written more earnestly, in a more truth-loving and God-serving spirit. It shines at every page with a most perfect conscientiousness and purity of aim. But these qualities often consist with violent dogmatic leanings, that, in spite of them, are sure to tell upon the task in hand.