« ПредишнаНапред »
portance to laying before his readers a picture of the immediate surroundings of Jesus and of the circumstances under which he grew up. He speaks of Nazareth and its charming neighbourhood, of the Jewish mode of instruction which, differing far from ours, made, even for the unlearned individual, a comparatively high mental cultivation possible; of the influence which the sacred Scriptures of the Jewish nation, especially those of a prophetic and poetical character, the proverbial sayings of a Hillel and of other Rabbis, the spirit of a superstitious supernaturalistic view of the world must have exercised upon a young man of that nation—a young man entirely unacquainted with Greek science, and who had always been without a notion of the political condition of the world; of the development of Messianic ideas and the ferment which had been thus produced in the minds of men; of the opposition existing between Galilee and Judea, not only in the character of the country, but also in that of their religious and social life. His disquisitions upon these points are moreover most attractive and well adapted to give us a more lively view of the circumstances under which Jesus grew up. But on a nearer view there is no mistaking that, even under this head, the imagination of the historian has introduced into his picture more than one feature, the historical character of which it is difficult to prove; that he gives to the enchanting nature of the country of Galilee, which, moreover, he himself was far from finding so rich and so pleasant as it is supposed to have been heretofore, an importance in the formation of the character of Jesus, utterly exaggerated and incapable of being proved by any definite signs; that considerable deductions must bemade from hispanegyric upon the cheerful innocence, the idyllic condition of the Galilean population, when we remember that it was precisely this province that was the theatre of bloody insurrections against the Romans, the native country of Judas the Gaulonite, a centre of Jewish fanaticism and of politico-religious, guerilla warfare; that the journeys to the festivals at Jerusalem, which Jesus is said to have undertaken almost every year from His infancy upwards, and the effect which Renan ascribes to them did not, probably, take place exactly as they are told; for the narrative in Luke II., 41 has, not without reason, been called in question by Strauss, and on the occasion of His latest visit to Jerusalem, which is the only one that is indisputable, there is every appearance of the Temple and the life of the people in the city having been quite new to Him (Matt. xxi. 12, 24, 1 parall.) "When Renan fully sums up the result of his meditations upon the religious development of Jesus, in the words: "Un Messie aux repas des noces, la courtisane et le bon Zachee appeles a, ses festins, les fondateurs du royaume du ciel comme un cortege de paranymphes: voila ce que la Galilee a ose, ce qu'elle a fait accepter," all this does indeed correspond with his inclination to make a Galilean idyll out of the beginnings of Christianity; but every one sees also all that is great, serious and worldrevolutionising in the character of this religion, and its founder, is obscured by phrases which have the less value, as the image of the marriage feast of the Messiah, which also is the basis of the unhistorical narrative of the marriage feast at Cana in Galilee, is not even anything peculiarly Christian, and, as the Apocalypse proves, may consort perfectly well with the full glow of a spirit of vengeance perfectly Jewish.
Strauss affects to tell us far less of the history of Jesus' culture. He also assumes that he had not the benefit of a learned education, even in the sense of the Judaism of that period; and in support of this assumption he appeals to the freshness and originality of his doctrine and mode of teaching and to the absence of that scholastic spirit which is so remarkable even in the case of the highly gifted Apostle of the Gentiles. Moreover, he remarks that in Galilee, the population of which was thickly intermixed with Gentiles and separated by Samaria from the Jews, so proud of their faith, the circumstances were favourable to a more liberal religious tendency. But he does not venture to push the assumption further, supported as it is by no more definite historical traces, and therefore, is content to remark that Jesus (like Socrates we might add, who was also a mechanic and possessed no learned knowledge of the philosophy of which he was to be the reformer) found the means which he required for the development of inward powers with which he was endowed, in industrious study of the Old Testament and also in free religious intercourse with the learned men of his own nation, and in particular, with the adherents of the three dominant schools. To show this he gives us not only a survey far more comprehensive than Renan does of the course of development of Judaism, and in doing so comprises in his view in particular the assistance given in the prophets to a spiritualisation of the religion, the formation and modification of the Messianic idea, the Jewish sects of the last century before Christ; but he also, following in the steps of Baur, completes this investigation by a description most luminous, and bringing out clearly and strikingly all essential points of the contributions made to the preparation for Christianity by the Grecian spirit, in virtue of its scientific and morally religious development, by the Roman empire and the practi
cal sense of the Roman people. And to this discussion I cannot but attribute the greater value the more decidedly I continue to adhere to the conviction that not only the practical modification of the circumstances by the Roman empire, but also the course and spread of the intellectual culture of the Greeks, had a much greater share in the rise of the Christian religion than is generally assumed. But this is exactly what is most difficult of proof in the case of the founder of Christianity. It is, indeed, perfectly evident that from the time of the appearance of the most ancient Alexandrine Christians and Gnosticism, Hellenic philosophy and the entire circle of Hellenic thought had an appreciable influence upon the theological conceptions and the moral views of the Christians. In the case of Paul, also, whose native town of Tarsus was a famous seat of Greek and especially of Stoic philosophy, whom his Rabbinical studies might, at all events in the way of controversy, have brought into contact with foreign elements, whose teacher, Gamaliel, was reproached with • his knowledge of the Greek language, who, from the time of his conversion, lived almost entirely in the Greek town of Antioch, in Ephesus, in Corinth, etc.,—in his case we should be less surprised if it could be shown that many of his ideas accrued to him, mediately or immediately, from the source upon which a Philo and others at that time drew so richly. But who will look upon it as a probable supposition that the same source was open also to the self-taught teacher of Nazareth, in whose case there is not a single reliable token that justifies the assumption that He was acquainted with the Greek language, or was in any way connected with persons of Greek cultivation? But if only the circumstances in question are clearly considered, we may be compelled to allow that
the notion is not so inadmissible as might at first sight appear. The question is, indeed, not whether Jesus himself eame into immediate contact with Grecianism—this is extremely improbable—but whether many of the thoughts which Greek philosophy first set in motion might not have passed over into Palestine, and have become domesticated in the circles which imparted to the Founder of Christianity the basis of His culture, which He could not, any more than any other man, dispense with for the development of His creative idiosyncrasy. And this possibility cannot be at once negatived when we reflect that these thoughts had been for centuries operating continuously in the Grecian world, that they were everywhere met with disengaged from their scholastic form and their systematic connection among the orators and poets, as well as among the philosophers, in daily life, as well as in the schools and in literature; that, moreover, the Jewish people outside of Palestine, in Syria, in Asia Minor, and, above all, in Egypt, had likewise for centuries been in communication, most fruitful in results, with the Greek spirit, and that it was impossible that those of Palestine could blockade themselves against the ideas which their compatriots abroad had adopted, under the circumstances of the lively intercourse which they held with them, an intercourse kept up by commercial connections, and the national religious festivals; that the influence of the Greek character, which, under the Seleucidse, and before the violent attempt at Hellenisation on the part of Antiochus Epiphanes, appears to have continued for a considerable time after a noiseless fashion, could hardly have been entirely set aside by the Maccabaean reaction, and that a speaking monument and most effective agent of this influence reached down for some years into the