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his Lives of Jesus is to this day undermining the entire Christian system throughout the Continent, and very widely throughout this country. Had there been no Strauss to prepare the way, there would most likely have been no Rénan. And Schenkel says of his own work (“Character of Jesus,” Preface, pp. xxiii, xxiv): "Perhaps even now this work would not have been published, had not the sensation caused by the “Life of Jesus,” by E. Rénan, forcibly reminded me of the necessity of meeting the deep want of our time, which demands a genuinely human, truly historical representation of Jesus. Yet Schenkel is a disciple of neither the mythic school of Strauss, nor of the legendary school of Rénan, but of the Tübingen theory of the Gospels, originated by Dr. Baur. Thus it would be an easy task to follow outward, as from a centre and by ever.widening circles, the impulses and influences of Strauss, in all the more intellectual and scholarly attacks upon the Christian faith peculiar to modern times.”
The great blemish of this book is, that it is not easy to see its plan. The arguments are sometimes misplaced, and are not kept sufficiently distinct. Even the chapters do not always follow each other in the right order. We could give a number of instances of faults of this kind, but we will proceed to furnish some account of the subject matter of the volume, premising that the limits of an article will require us to leave much which we would like to present to our readers entirely unnoticed. We shall occupy but a short space in giving Mr. Row's definition of the mythic hypothesis as to the origin of the portraiture of the Evangelical Jesus.
The advocates of the mythic hypothesis admit the historical existence of Jesus, and moreover they concede, and even maintain, that he was a great man. They also grant that it was an historical fact that he was put to death. When this event took place, the disappointment of his deluded followers was great, but their wonderful enthusiasm prevented them from giving up in despair. They still believed in him as the Messiah. Such a beliet, however, could not consist with that of his being conquered by death, and they therefore assumed that he must have risen from the dead. " Some of them saw him with their mental eye, and mistook what existed only in
their imagination for an external reality, and communicated their enthusiasm to the rest."* The resurrection, which was the first of the Gospel myths, having been invented, their imagination had full scope. They began, from this time, to imagine that they had seen him perform the wonders which the Messiah ought to have performed. And while some mythologists created miracles, others put parables into his mouth, and others invented discourses. One devoted follower added this trait to his character and another that, until they imagined that he was both divine and human—a divine man.
It was further necessary, inasmuch as the real historical Jesus died, that the mythologists should conceive of their Jesus as having suffered in a manner becoming a divine man. They did this, and they produced the portraiture of a sufferer such as never before nor since has been conceived of. They imparted a divine aspect to the crucified Jesus. Thus they went on creating detached portions of a character, the full conception of which existed nowhere. At last it entered the heads of some who mistook these fictions for facts, to attempt to weave them into a whole, and four persons succeeded in creating out of them four distinct portraits of one divine man. For the divine and human consciousness united in the person of Jesus, which we discover in the Gospels, was not a conception of the Evangelists, neither were the attributes in which they array him. Nor did they invent the miracles, parables, and discourses which they relate. These iniracles, parables, etc., with the separate portions of Christ's charactər had previously been created by the imagination of an immense number of Christ's deluded followers. The religion in which he lived, and which he taught, was the conception of this multitude of enthusiastic men. What the four Evangelists did was to set forth out of these fictions a life of Jesus in an historical form. We are not to charge either the mythologists or the Evangelists with fraud. They supposed they were relating facts, and that the portraiture of Jesus which they dramatized was an historical reality. This is the general outline of the mythic theory.
* Mr. Row, in his statement of the mythic theory, recognizes the concession as made by its advocates, that even the immediate disciples of Jesus testified to his supposed resurrection.
The author's argument against it is so constructed as to be much more than defensive. It shows that the portraiture of Jesus, as we see it on the pages of the Evangelists, could not by any possibility have been conceived of, or invented by any created inind; and yet either it was invented, or it is the portraiture of one who had an historical existence.
His book has the immense advantage of not contending for any minor issues. The critics bring forward difficulties connected with the Old Testament; difficulties connected with the inspiration of the Scriptures. They contend that the Gospels contain contradictions to the facts of history, that they are full of contradictions and incongruities, that facts exhibited in one Gospel are at variance with those contained in another, that the Gospel of John has little or no historic value, etc. But even supposing that these objections have not as yet been satisfactorily answered, what do they avail to shake our faith in the divine origin of our holy religion, if we know that all that is said in the Gospels concerning the Christ whom the church has worshipped is true; that precisely the Jesus whose character the Gospels present under so many aspects was an bistorical person. There is no reason why any
mind should be in the least unsettled by any amount of such difficulties, if it can only find firm ground for its faith in the historical reality of the divine person of our Lord, as he is depicted in the Evangelists. It is the opinion of our author that this is the battle-field on which moderu theologi. cal controversy will ultimately be decided.
The Jesus of the Gospels is a great spiritual and moral conception, and there is wonderful distinctness in their delineation of the superhuman glories of his character. It cannot be denied that this portraiture exists, and its existence requires to be accounted for. Is it the delineation of a reality, or did it originate in fiction? If it did not originate in fiction, it is the iinage of one who actually existed. It is the design of the author to show that it cannot, by any possibility, be fictitious.
He displays much acuteness in his first argument, and it is most convincing, but we do not regard it as his main proof. The basis of his principal proof is that which history furnishes, which testifies that all developments of the human mind have been effected in conformity with a law of progress. We are fully able to ascertain the state of mind of the Jewish people when Christianity originated, i. e., tlieir state of thought on moral and religious subjects, out of which it is maintained that Christianity sprung. Then also the progress of mental and moral science enables us to determine with certainty the law of the development of the human mind; and the chief and most labored argument of his book, and that which occupies the most space, is designed to prove, and does prove unanswerably, that the conditions which history imposes, and the laws of mental development to the truth ot which she testifies, render it impossible that the portraiture of the Jesus of the Evangelists could have been evolved as an ideal conception.
But this argument is not fairly begun until he has finished the first five chapters of his book. The reasoning contained in these chapters is, as already remarked, admirable and convincing. Proceeding on the assumption that the portraiture of the Evangelical Jesus is almost entirely an invention, he investigates its nature, examining the elements which enter into it, and points out the tremendous difficulties its authors must have had to encounter in fabricating it, even when untrammelled by the conditions imposed by history, and which are taken into view when he comes to his main argument. The consideration of these difficulties is of itself enough to show the absurdity of the supposition that it was only invented. We desire to give our readers a glimpse of the argument of these chapters, before we proceed to consider those contained in the subsequent portions of the book. We can, of course, unerely present the salient points.
What then are the elements of the portraiture of Jesus, as that portraiture was invented by the mythologists? What are the things which enter into its nature? In the first place, there belongs to it a divine and human consciousness, in which consciousness no distinction whatever exists between the two factors of the divine and the human. The mythologists have
conceived of a being having precisely such a consciousness, whom they have dramatized over an extensive sphere of action. The difficulties to be mastered, as soon as they began their work, pertained to the very conception of the divine and human in one person.
There must have belonged to the question whether such a union was possible, difficulties of a metaphysical nature which had to be settled in some way before they could have proceeded a single step in the direction of developing the Christ of the Gospels. The supporters of the mythic theory would of course claim that in the case of the mythologists these difficulties did not exist, inasmuch as they had the advantage which the perusal of the Book of Enoch must certainly have afforded them, in which book the Messiah is set forth as one who was to be both the Son of God and the Son of Man. But it is very doubtful whether the Book of Enoch was written prior to our Lord's advent. But admitting, for the sake of the argument, that it was, still it was necessary that they should solve the following problems, all unsolved before, and for the solution of which the Book of Enoch does not afford the smallest assistance. They had to determine the mode in which the two distinct factors of the divine and the human should be united in a single personality, the degree of prominence which should be assigned to each, and how they should be blended in an harmonious unity. But these problems the credulous, simple-minded men who created the myths solved successfully, although philosophers might have discussed them forever without arriving at an agreement.
The minds of the inventors of the Gospel miracles, parables, etc., must have been deeply imbued with the spirit of the Old Testament writings. But in the Old Testament the closest contact into which God and man are brought took place when holy men were inspired to prophesy. This, therefore, was the only model which they could have had before them. But in the case of the prophetical illapse, the persons of the inspired and inspirer are invariably distinct. The divine and the human always form two separate factors, and refuse to unite in a single consciousness. The light of inspiration invariably comes from without, and by the very terms of its utterance,