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miracles that He must have believed that He performed miracles Himself, or saw them performed; nor did even His conviction of His Messianic calling necessarily imply this belief. He might live in the hope that God at the proper time would found His kingdom after a miraculous manner, without believing Himself called upon to perform miracles, or capable of doing so. Even Mahomet, among a people as superstitious as the Jews, disclaimed in the most decisive manner, in his own person, the character of a performer of miracles. The real state of the case, as regards Jesus in this respect, can only be gathered from our Gospels. This only in a general way, still only from them. But however decisive the declarations may be which they attribute to Him, little is thus gained for us. When they represent Him as performing a number of miracles which mock at every natural explanation, they must indeed also represent Him as believing in His miraculous powers and speaking of them. But still, their statement taken by itself does not warrant us in considering those speeches as more historical than the deeds; but that they are so must first be proved independently. It is otherwise in the case of those expressions which contradict the Evangelists' own superstitious assumptions; if such expressions meet us from the lips of Jesus it cannot be assumed that they were attributed to Him by.the Evangelists or by the Christian legend, which was as eager for miracles as they were; they have, therefore, a decided presumption in favour of their genuineness. Now such an expression is found in the answer to the demand for a sign made by the Pharisees, when Jesus declares to the “evil and adulterous generation” that no sign shall be given to them; and when, according to the credible statement of Matthew and Luke, he adds, “no sign except that of Jonah,” Strauss (vol. i. p. 362) is certainly right in maintaining that these words did not originally refer to the resurrection as Matthew interprets them, but that, on the contrary, by the sign of Jonah, according to the whole of the context, only his preaching could be meant, and that, accordingly, in these words Jesus expressly disclaims any other proof of His exalted mission. This would not, certainly, exclude the possibility of a belief of a miraculous power being granted to Him having forced itself upon Him in the sequel. “However He might continue to disclaim material performance of miracles,” correctly remarks Strauss, “still in the belief of His countrymen and contemporaries He was bound to perform miracles whether He would or not.” From the time that He was considered a prophet, miraculous powers were attributed to Him, and from the time they were attributed they were, as a matter of course, put into operation. Under the circumstances, and among the men under which and among whom Jesus appeared, it was impossible that He could be considered a prophet, nay, even the greatest of the prophets, without being immediately considered a performer of miracles; and when he was once so considered, it is again inconceivable that reports of the miracles, which he was supposed to have performed, should not have been immediately circulated, and that also individual results should not have really occurred which left the impression of the miraculous upon His contemporaries and even upon Himself. But the province of these results could not extend further than the influence extended which the faith, or in other words, the feelings and the imagination do, according to natural laws, exercise upon the bodily life of man.
It may therefore have been the case, as Strauss also supposes, that in many instances those mental disturb
ances which the Judaism of that day looked upon as Possession, in part yielded entirely to the word of the prophet and the firm faith of the diseased person, in part were at least relieved for some time, and that similar effects were produced in the case of other complaints as well, which had their immediate cause in a disturbance of the nervous system ; it is, moreover, very possible that even those in whose state of health no really important amendment took place, felt themselves momentarily relieved, considered themselves cured, or were considered by others to be so. But the range of these extraordinary material results, connected with the person and ministration of Jesus, cannot be extended further, unless we would overstep the limits of what is naturally possible ; and not only events so utterly inconceivable as the miracle of the loaves, the walking on the water, and the raising of the dead, but also the majority of the miraculous cures, in the form in which they are given, are not to be considered historical, whether these narratives had, or, as appears to have been the case with the majority of them, had not, a basis of events capable of a natural explanation. For the natural qualification for producing effects of a peculiar character not only upon the spiritual, but also on the bodily system of men which has been lately ascribed to Jesus—this natural and miraculous gift, in the sense in which it is understood, and in the application made of it, belongs as much as the supernatural one to the kingdom of the imagination, as it far surpasses all and every analogy which general experience presents to us. In themselves, indeed, even such phenomena as really appeared in connection with the operations of Jesus as a teacher, might have led Him to believe that He was in possession of a miraculous power peculiar to Himself; nothing, however, is implied in His own expressions (with the exception of those which stand in connection with narratives manifestly unhistorical, and thus can make no claim upon our credulity), which need compel us to exceed the conception of supernatural effects with which the faith of the sick was rewarded, and to attribute to Jesus the belief that He had produced not merely those results which others also might have produced (Matt. xii. 27; vii. 22), but that He had only to will in order to make possible the most impossible things. When Renan ascribes to Him the tenet that not merely He himself but every one who believes and prays is possessed of unlimited power over nature, this is a misunderstanding of a figurative speech (Matt. xvii. 20; Luke xvii. 6), and when the same writer (p. 266) unhesitatingly admits that acts in which we should now see nothing but deception or delusion occupy in the life of Jesus an important place, he allows himself to be seduced into an injustice towards the Founder of Christianity by his uncritical respect for the pretended eyewitness John, and for Mark the interpreter of Peter. He himself does certainly excuse him, with the words that not every one who did anything that we in the nineteenth century should consider a piece of folly or charlatanry was therefore a fool or a charlatan; and, moreover, that Jesus appears rather to have had the character of a thaumaturge forced upon Him by others from without, not appearing Himself to have accepted that character until a late period, and after some resistance. Renan immediately adds, that He did not make much resistance to this opinion about Himself, but also did nothing to support it, and in any case felt its groundlessness. It is, however, obvious that this latter supposition is incompatible with the proposition that Jesus attributed to Himself an unlimited power over nature, and the character of the other apologies may readily be inferred when we read, for example, “ that the necessity of getting credit” led Jesus to make contradictory declarations about Himself (p. 251); that He sometimes availed Himself of an “innocent artifice,” in order to impose upon one whom He wished to gain over by a show of superior knowledge (e.g., John i. 42–48; iv. 17), and similar cases; or when the raising of Lazarus is supposed to be a drama enacted by the family at Bethany, in which it is not quite clear whether Jesus was only deceived by it Himself or subsequently shared in the deceit. The German critic's own good taste would have made it impossible for him to have hit upon so unfortunate an idea ; but he was more fundamentally ensured against it by his insight into the character of our Evangelical accounts, and into what was possible, psychologically and morally, for such a character as Jesus was. Moreover, he has no need of lamenting with Renan (pp. 92, 319, 359, ff. and elsewhere), that by the character of Messiah and Thaumaturge which he assumed, the Galilean idyll was destroyed, the innocence of his original religious idealism (which, in Renan, has moreover an unmistakeable touch of country simplicity) is given up; that, in consequence of that character and the resistance which He met with in it, His disposition became passionate, imperious, and ill-humoured ; and that, in the latter part of His life, He was no longer Himself. Strauss, on the contrary, can recognise in the course of the life of Jesus the natural development of heroic greatness which had grown to maturity in the tranquillity of His youthful years; in His Messianic appearance the historically necessary form of His ministry; and even in this, all that does not square with our preconceived notions he does not