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object is evidently not to give currency to Mohammed's dictrines, but to acquire a reputation as an author, as an bisto. rian, as a critic, and last, though not least, to make money; but he has not visited the sacred places of Islam, neither Mecca nor Medina, nor the sacred Alcaaba. Is the Frenchman ahead of the German in disinterested enthusiasm ?
Rénan's “St. Paul” opens with a critical notice of original documents. Of all the epistles ascribed to the Apostle Paul, he considers the four that stand first as unquestionably genuine,--all the others as possibly genuine, with the exception of the pastoral letters to Timothy and Titus, which he considers as spurious. The Apocalypse, which was written, according to him, by the Apostle John about A. D. 68, and the Epistles of James and Jude, which figure largely in the work, he considers as genuine, and from these documents he draws the following traits of the character of his hero (page 325, etc.):
"One man (Paul) has contributed more than any other to the rapid extension of Christianity. This man has torn off that sort of light and fearfully dangerous swaddling-clothes in which the child was wrapped from its birth. He has proclaimed that Christianity was not a simple reformed Judaism, but that it was a complete religion, existing by itself, To say that this man deserves to occupy a very high rank in history, is to say a very evident thing; but he must not be called a founder. It is in vain for Paul to talk; he is inferior to the other Apostles. He has not seen Jesus; he has not heard his woru. The divine 2byla and the parables are scarcely known to him. The Christ who gives him personal revelations is his own phantom—it is himself he hears when thinking he hears Jesus."
And this character, every trait of which is either a fiction or a perversion, is claimed to be drawn from history. But it is well that we meet M. Renan on this ground. Although we are fully persuaded that this picture is an à priori construction, that it is drawn from another source than history, that history only furnishes the drapery; we cannot follow, at least not in these pages, our author to the real source from which he has drawn his “ St. Paul” and his “ Jesus.” What Neander says on the “Life of Jesus," by Strauss, applies also to the subject before us; his words are : “The chief points of controversy turn upon essential differences of religious thought and feeling. These essential differences are to be found chiefly in opposing views of the relation of God to the world, of the personality of the spirit, of the relation between the here and the hereafter, and of the nature of sin. The controversy does not lie between an old and a new view of Christianity, but between Christianity and a human invention directly opposed to it. It is nothing less than a struggle between Christian theism and a system of world and self deification.” What Neander says of Strauss in the same connection, viz.: “I cannot but rejoice to find that my treatment of the subject, with that of others engaged in the controversy, has induced Dr. Strauss to soften down this mythical theory of the life of Christ in various points, and to acknowledge the truth of several results arrived at by my historical inquiries,” can, alas! not be applied to M. Rénan. He occupies so lofty a position, that he can afford to look with perfect equanimity down on all below-he is so firmly persuaded of the correctness of his position, that he would consider every word as lost that he should utter in defence of it—he considers it, moreover, morally wrong in Paul to defend his position, and he, therefore, abstains consistently enough from effort in this direction. As we intiinated already, Rénan is a stranger to the pains taken by the Tübingen school to prove that the Gospels were written not anterior to A. D. 150, and pass, naturally enough, as the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, etc., although these men did not write them ; nor is he under any necessity of doing so, since he allows the first two Gospels to have been written by the men whose names they bear, prior to A. D. 70, the third Gospel by Luke, shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem. Even the fourth Gospel he regards as genuine, having been written either by John himself in his dotage, or still during his life-time by some of his disciples about A. D. 98, although it is not a sober history of facts, but is based upon little incidents, around which great imaginary interests are made to centre, and which are, therefore, magnified into stupendous miracles, calling forth long discourses which Jesus did not deliver, but John or the compiler manufactured to suit his own notions as to what the new religion was or should be, just as Plato makes Socrates deliver learned discourses which the simple tanner never dreamed of. In only
one thing Rénan takes great pains, viz.: in describing natural scenery, the culture and way of religious thinking in the several cities and countries, so that nothing is wanting in his works to make them novels, historical romances, or philosophical disquisitions—they are any thing but history.
We shall now furnish the proof of what we have said. As a specimen of the novelistic character of the work we are reviewing, we quote from page 48, on the journey of St. Paul to Cyprus, to wit: “It is a short day's journey from Antioch to Seleucia. The route follows at a distance the right bank of the Orontes, rising and falling on the last undulations of the mountains of Pieria, and traversing by ford the numerous streams which flow down from them. On all sides there are myrtle underwood, arbutus, laurels, and green oaks; rich villages are suspended in the sharply-cut crests of the mountains. On the left plain of the Orontes spreads out its high cultivation. The wooded summits of the mountains of Daphne shut in the horizon in the south. We are now no longer in Syria. This is a classical, fertile, pleasant, civilized land."
In what light our author himself looks upon the documents from which he draws his information, and upon the theme of his story, he tells us with great naïveté, p. 53: “ The Acts
« of the Apostles, an expression of this first transport of the Christian conscience, compose a book of joy, of serene ardor. Since the Homeric poems, no work had been seen full of such fresh sensations. A breeze of morning, an odor of the sea, if I dare express it so, inspiring something joyful and strong, penetrates the whole book, and makes it an excellent compagnon de voyage, the exquisite breviary for him who is searching for ancient remains on the seas of the south. This is the second idyl of Christianity. The Lake of Tiberias and its fishing barks had furnished the first.” Our author, being so completely captivated with scenery, idyllic beauty, can naturally pay but little attention to the nature of the work of his hero.
We how to the narrative itself, and in the treatment of the first incident we find every charge made by us more than sustained ; the incident is the conversion of the Pro
consul Sergius Paulus, at Paphos, recorded Acts xiii. 6–12. What has our author to say of this event, narrated by the sacred historian in language as brief as it is simple and unadorned? He devotes pp. 54-56 to it.
In the first place, we are told that S. Paulus was of an illustrious Roman family, which statement is evidently made for a certain purpose, since in point of fact it is altogether gratuitous. He is represented as a scion of an illustrious family, in order to make it appear probable that he shared the scepticism of many of his contemporaries belonging to the higher classes, and thus to justify the assertion, which gives the lie to Acts, that “the conversion of a Roman of this order, at this period, is a thing absolutely inadmissible.” But where is the proof of the asserted nobility of birth? The fact that he was proconsul of so unimportant a province as Cyprus does certainly not furnish it. The event took place toward the close of the first half of the first century; Claudius was emperor-Pallas, his freedman, was one of the most powerful men of the empire, and men of this class, favorites of the emperors, held far more important offices than members of the old patrician families. Felix was the brother of this Pallas, who remained in power for some time under Nero. This madman did, from the second half of his reign, all he could to degrade the ancient noble families, and to deprive them even of all self-respect. (See Sat. III. of Juvenal.) S. Paulus is called an åvào ovvetòs, which has nothing to do with bis birth. We do, however, not say that he was not of illustrious descent, but only that we know nothing about this, and M. Rénan does, in this instance, know not more than we do. We pass by the infamous remark (p. 55), “Probably the illusions, to which it is unfortunately permitted us to think that Paul and Barnabas sometimes had recourse, appeared to him more striking and greater than those of Bar-jesus.” But we ask, why “is the conversion of a Roman of this order, at this period, a thing absolutely inadmissible?” Paul writes (Gal. iv. 4), that when the fulness of time was come, i.e., when the world was prepared both positively and negatively, God sent his Son. The views of a man like Paul have, as a matter of course, little weight with Rénan, but what
says history? What was the religious condition of the RomanGrecian world of those days ? had not the old religions of state outlived themselves! had not the belief in the national deities almost entirely given way so as to create a fearful vacuum in the human breast ? was not the necessity of something new and better felt keenly and painfully? There were, indeed, philosophers, Stoics, Epicureans, and others, to whom might, at least at times, apply what Rénan says of the higher classes as a whole. But were these all philosophers ? what portion of the whole population did the sceptic philosophers constitute, especially in a nation so emphatically unspecula. tive and unphilosophical as the Romans? Was there one philosopher to every 100,000 souls? We trow not. That under these circumstances the mass of the people, high and low, were ready to receive new religious teaching, may fairly be taken for granted, and is fully corroborated by the many converts to Judaism, both proselytes of the gate and proselytes of righteousness. The almost universal expectation of a deliverer coming from the East exerted, likewise, a powerful influence in the same direction. (See Tacitus, Hist., V., 13; Suet., Vesp., 4.) Cicero already (pro Flacco, 28) complains of the great number of conversions of Greeks and Romans to Judaism; so do Juvenal, Tacitus, Seneca. Juvenal (XIV., 96, etc.) uses this language: “Some that happen to have Sabbath-fearing fathers, worship nothing but the clouds and the sky; soon they submit to circumcision, but, accustomed to despise the Roman laws, they learn by heart, observe, and fear the Jewish laws whichsoever Moses has handed down in a secret volume." Tacitus says (Hist., V., 5): “The other Jewish rites got the upper hand by the baseness of men. For all the worst despised the religion of their fathers, and carried tributes and presents to Jerusalem, whence their power increased. . . Those that go over to them do the same things, nor do they learn any thing quicker than to despise the gods, to deny their fatherland, and to hold parents, children, and brothers in derision.” Again (Ann., II., 85): “4,000 freedmen, seized with the same superstition (Jewish belief), were sent to the island of Sardinia.” Seneca (De Superst.) says: “The Jewish religion spreads over the whole earth—the con