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was first in his own case: whether he arrived at the unauthenticity of the sources from the impossibility of miracles, or attained his standpoint from the opposite course, neither the scope of the work before us nor the frank explanation of its author can leave us in uncertainty as to the just decision. However high a value he concedes to historical investigation, he himself expressly declines to have any purely historicocritical interest in it. He adds that there is no need of our entering into purely critical questions, in order to refuse the acceptation of miracles. And he could not express himself plainer than he has done (Leben Jesu, p. 150, Eng. trans. vol. i. p. 200): 'It is absolutely impossible to conceive a case in which the investigator of history will not find it more probable, beyond all comparison, that he has to deal with an untrue account rather than with a miraculous fact.' This is no chance remark, but an assertion which can indeed be considered as the programme for all his subsequent investigations. We therefore follow Strauss' own leading, when we seek to oppose the denial of miracles in the evangelical narratives, which has found in him its representative. It
may appear as if, in keeping this point in view, we are restricted to a region in which a method quite different from the purely historico-exegetical one would be required. Strauss, indeed, lays great stress on this, that the mere historian, from his standpoint, must refuse even to acknowledge the miracles in the evangelical narrative. For, as the historical investigator has not merely to arrange what has happened, but also to state how one event must have proceeded from the other, so he can by no means allow an occurrence to pass which breaks through the chain of what is natural, and permits that which is unnatural to enter in. But he adds, that the historian, especially in so far as he
is a scientific man, must have his philosophy, and thus he would also be supported by it in refusing to believe in miracles on philosophic grounds; or, in other words, that the philosophical historian may attack the truth of the miracles in the Gospel narrative, for the very reason that he is not in a position to admit the conception of a miracle.
It has often been asserted, that the rejoinders which were called forth by the critical edition of Strauss' Life of Jesus, published in the year 1835, have, notwithstanding their merits, missed the desired effect, because, various as are the points of view taken, they left unheeded the deepest ground, out of which have sprung the assertions of the critic. Should the combat with Strauss be fought out in the battle of Theism against Pantheism and Atheism ? If this were really the case, theology would have no cause to appear on the battle-field. It would be impossible to require it, as such, to fight the opponent of Christianity with the weapons of philosophy. Franz Buddeus, in his excellent work, Theses Theologica de Atheismo, puts himself in strong opposition to Spinoza on the miracles in Holy Scripture (ch. iii. § 5); but he contents himself with the point, that all the errors of the philosopher have proceeded from the false supposition, that 'Deum et naturam unum idemque esse. Against this fundamental error he simply protests, without in any way refuting it. In the same way, Rothe, in his treatise on the Miracles (Zur Dogmatik, Gotha 1863, p. 80, etc.), explains that it may be perfectly conceivable that miracles should be denied by the pantheist, who knows of no other causality than that of nature, whether as natura naturans? or as natura naturata, and for whom that causality which we call God does not exist; also it is easily to be understood how Schleiermacher, partly from his tendency towards Pantheism, partly from his deterministic representations of the preservation and government of the world, should have arrived at a similar result; but it is not conceivable how the conception of a miracle can furnish any difficulty to a theist.? Now, if a theology is conceivable only on the standpoint of Theism, we cannot reasonably desire it to enter into the latest fundamental views of philosophy, from which has resulted, in Strauss' case, the impossibility of miracles. But apart from this, a “Life of Jesus'thus prepared would in no manner correspond with that of the author. We have here to do with a work of conciliatory tendency. As it was intended for the people—for the German people especially—Strauss knew very well that he would have a difficulty to reach them by a philosophical explanation. No popularizing of Spinoza, however well done, would be able to take away, from even a section of the people, their present faith in miracles. It would not even have earned the
1 This is an expression which Nitzsch in his System d. Christlehre, $ 85, as also Twesten in his Dogmatik, ii. p. 176, have made available in the interest of the simple rejection of Pantheism.
1 Rothe had formerly introduced Weisse as a striking example of this, but afterwards he recalled the expression of his amazement at this thinker. An author has lately appeared, who acknowledges himself as a modern example of this kind, viz. O. Bagge, who has published Princip. d. Mythus, etc., the Principle of the Myth in the Service of Christian Positivism, – Essay for, and yet against Strauss,-Leipzig 1865. He asserts that he stands on the true, unclouded field of Theism, and yet that he looks upon miracles as only the popular childish conception of the unknown workings of nature. He can oppose nothing to what Strauss has explained in this sense, that there can be no grosser theological suicide than the bare assertion of the traditional belief in miracles. The author appears to have a different conception of Theism than the one here advanced (of which Zeller says: “If God is thought of, in the sense of ordinary Theism, as a supernatural Will, there must necessarily be the working of this Will, that is, a miracle '). He has not defined to us what his Theism is; but it must be that undefined and undefinable 'something,' like the same something, that remainder which is still left to him out of the evangelical narratives. This latter something' is just as inconceivable a minimum as is the difference between this author and Strauss.
thanks and applause of those in whom that faith was already lost. Nowhere has he treated it from the standing ground of outspoken Pantheism; but, in its place, he accepts that of scepticism. He pronounces on Hume's Discussions the commendatory judgment, that they are of such a general convincing power, that the matter can really be considered as satisfactorily settled by them. From them he borrows his view of the internal improbability of miracles. The burden of this improbability is shown to be so heavy, that everything which could be brought towards the justification of miracles is as a feather in the scale against a hundredweight. And he is not satisfied with this general assertion; but against each several Gospel narrative of a miracle, he produces the grounds on account of which it is neither probable nor credible that it could have taken place in the manner related. A sharp eye can discover everywhere in the background Spinozism, which has nevertheless quite other arguments at its disposal. However, it is not these, but solely those of scepticism, as stated, which are made available. If this treatment can reckon on finding a good point of union in the abhorrence of miracles, inherent in the thinkers of moderate intellect as well as in the savant of little experience, it also promises to effect a more prompt reception of the myth theory. For if it had been proved that the biblical narratives could only be received as true histories by heaping improbability on improbability, a method of exposition by which each difficulty of that nature disappears brings its own recommendation. Here, then, is the problem which the apologist has to solve. He has to prove that these improbabilities really do not exist, but are adroitly produced and brought in, while they never occur of themselves to the unprejudiced and critical reader. On the other hand, the miraculous accounts in the Gospel history have in themselves the highest internal probability,—a probability which appears the brighter, the more the biblical narrative is considered.
II. METHOD OF SOLVING THE PROBLEM.
Before we describe the way and the manner in which we intend to solve the problem, it will be necessary to declare to which of the miracles we wish to attach the proposed proof. It may be objected to our making a selection, such as is in accordance with our judgment, that by such a selection the point of the proof, although here and there in single cases successful, is broken as a whole. We would meet this objection by stating that we consider the problem in some sense soluble, even in those miracles which we deliberately exclude from our investigation. We make a distinction between those miracles wrought by the word and power of Jesus Himself, and those which were wrought by the glory of the Father on the Son.
With regard to the latter (the supernatural birth of Jesus, and His resurrection from the dead), they do seem undoubtedly to elude a manner of consideration such as we intend to use towards the others. The schoolmen had a very firm consciousness of this, especially Thomas Aquinas. He makes the distinction between 'miracula quæ sunt ad fidei confirmationem,' and those de quibus ipsa est fides.' As an example of this last, he expressly points out the birth of Jesus by the Virgin; and he continues : 'Illa sunt facta in multorum conspectu, hæc vero voluit Deus esse occulta, ut fides probaretur, quando ea amplectitur propter scripturarum assertionem. A similar feeling is betrayed in the distinction, by Augustine, between 'miracula visibilia et invisibilia.' As this Father says: “Illa ad illuminationem vocant, ista vero vocatos illuminant.' Both have been decided by the circum