The Christ Myth by Arthur Drews (1909)

The Christ Myth, by Arthur Drew








Since David Frederick Strauss, in his “Life of Jesus,” attempted for
the first time to trace the Gospel stories and accounts of miracles
back to myths and pious fictions, doubts regarding the existence of an
historical Jesus have never been lulled to rest. Bruno Bauer also in
his “Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte und der Synoptiker” (1841-42,
2nd ed. 1846), [1] disputed the historical existence of Jesus; later,
in his “Christ und die Caesaren, der Ursprung des Christentums aus
dem roemischen Griechentum” (1877), he attempted to show that the
life of Jesus was a pure invention of the first evangelist, Mark,
and to account for the whole Christian religion from the Stoic
and Alexandrine culture of the second century, ascribing to Seneca
especially a material influence upon the development of the Christian
point of view. But it was reserved for the present day, encouraged by
the essentially negative results of the so-called critical theology,
to take up the subject energetically, and thereby to attain to results
even bolder and more startling.

In England John M. Robertson, in “Christianity and Mythology” (1900),
in “A Short History of Christianity” (1902), as well as in his work
“Pagan Christs: Studies in Comparative Hierology” (1903), has traced
the picture of Christ in the Gospels to a mixture of mythological
elements in heathenism and Judaism.

In France, as early as the end of the eighteenth century, Dupuis
(“L’origine de tous les cultes,” 1795) and Voltaire (“Les Ruines,”
1791) traced back the essential points of the history of the Christian
redemption to astral myths, while Emile Burnouf (“La science des
religions,” 4th ed., 1885) and Hochart (“Etudes d’histoire religieuse,”
1890) collected important material for the clearing up of the origin
of Christianity, and by their results cast considerable doubt upon
the existence of an historical Christ.

In Italy Milesbo (Emilio Bossi) has attempted to prove the
non-historicity of Jesus in his book “Gesu Christo non e mai esistito”

In Holland the Leyden Professor of Philosophy, Bolland, handled the
same matter in a series of works (“Het Lijden en Sterven van Jezus
Christus,” 1907; “De Achtergrond der Evangelien. Eene Bijdrage tot
de kennis van de Wording des Christendoms,” 1907; “De evangelische
Jozua. Eene poging tot aanwijzing van den oorsprong des Christendoms,”

In Poland the mythical character of the story of Jesus has been shown
by Andrzej Niemojewski in his book “Bog Jezus” (1909), which rests on
the astral-mythological theories of Dupuis and the school of Winckler.

In Germany the Bremen Pastor Kalthoff, in his work, “Das
Christusproblem, Grundlinien zu einer Sozialtheologie” (1903),
thought that the appearance of the Christian religion could be
accounted for without the help of an historical Jesus, simply from a
social movement of the lower classes under the Empire, subsequently
attempting to remove the one-sidedness of this view by his work
“Die Entstehung des Christentums. Neue Beitraege zum Christusproblem”
(1904). (Cf. also his work “Was wissen wir von Jesus? Eine Abrechnung
mit Professor D. Bousset,” 1904.) A supplement to the works of Kalthoff
in question is furnished by Fr. Steudel in “Das Christusproblem und
die Zukunft des Protestantismus” (Deutsche Wiedergeburt, 1909).

Finally, the American, William Benjamin Smith, in his work, “The
Pre-Christian Jesus” (1906), has thrown so clear a light upon a number
of important points in the rise of Christianity, and elucidated so many
topics which give us a deeper insight into the actual correlation of
events, that we gradually commence to see clearly in this connection.

“The time is passed,” says Juelicher, “when among the learned the
question could be put whether an ‘historical’ Jesus existed at
all.” [2] The literature cited does not appear to justify this
assertion. On the contrary, that time seems only commencing. Indeed,
an unprejudiced judge might find that even Juelicher’s own essay, in
which he treated of the so-called founder of the Christian religion in
the “Kultur der Gegenwart,” and in which he declared it “tasteless”
to look upon the contents of the Gospels as a myth, speaks rather
against than for the historical reality of Jesus. For the rest,
official learning in Germany, and especially theology, has, up to
the present, remained, we may almost say, wholly unmoved by all the
above-mentioned publications. To my mind it has not yet taken up a
serious position regarding Robertson. Its sparing citations of his
“Pagan Christs” do not give the impression that there can be any talk
of its having a real knowledge of his expositions. [3]

It has, moreover, passed Kalthoff over with the mien of a better
informed superiority or preferably with silent scorn, and up to the
present it has avoided with care any thoroughgoing examination of
Smith. [4] And yet such a distinguished theologian as Professor Paul
Schmiedel, of Zuerich, who furnished a foreword to Smith’s work, laid
such an examination upon his colleagues as a “duty of all theologians
making any claim to a scientific temper,” and strongly warned them
against any under-estimation of Smith’s highly scientific work! “How
can one then confidently stand by his former views,” Schmiedel cries to
his theological colleagues, “unless he investigates whether they have
not in whole or in part been undermined by these new opinions? Or is it
a question of some secondary matter merely, and not rather of exactly
what for the majority forms the fundamental part of their Christian
conviction? But if these new opinions are so completely futile,
then it must be an easy matter, indeed a mere nothing, to show this.”

In the meantime there are many voices which speak out against the
existence of an historical Jesus. In wide circles the doubt grows
as to the historical character of the picture of Christ given in
the Gospels. Popular works written with a purpose, such as the
investigations of the Frenchman Jacolliot, worked up by Plange into
“Jesus ein Inder” (1898), have to serve to alleviate this thirst for
knowledge and confuse views more than they clear them. In a short
work, “Die Entstehung des Christentums” (1905), Promus has afforded
a brief resume of the most important matter bearing on the point,
without any working up of it on its own account, and attacked the
existence of an historical Jesus. Lately Karl Voller, the prematurely
deceased Jena Orientalist, in his valuable work, “Die Weltreligionen
in ihrem geschichtlichen Zusammenhange” (1907), voiced the opinion
“that weighty reasons favour this radical myth interpretation, and
that no absolutely decisive arguments for the historicity of the
person of Jesus can be brought forward” (op. cit. i. 163).

Another Orientalist, P. Jensen, in his work “Das Gilgamesch-Epos in der
Weltliteratur” (1906), even thinks that he can show that both the main
lines of the Old Testament story and the whole narrative of the life
of Jesus given in the Gospels are simply variations of the Babylonian
Gilgamesh Epic (about 2000 B.C.), and consequently a pure myth. [5]

While criticism of the Gospel documents is advancing more boldly and
always leaving in existence less of an historical Jesus, the number
of works in popular religious literature intended to glorify Jesus the
man grows enormously. These endeavour to make up for the deficiency in
certain historical material by sentimental phrases and the deep tone
of conviction; indeed, the rhetoric which is disseminated with this
design [6] seems to find more sympathy in proportion as it works with
less historical restraint. And yet learning as such has long come to
the point when the historical Jesus threatens to disappear from under
its hands. The latest results in the province of Oriental mythology
and religion, the advances in the comparative history of religion,
that are associated in England with the names of Frazer and Robertson
especially, and in Germany with those of Winckler, Jeremias, Gunkel,
Jensen, &c., have so much increased our knowledge of the religious
position of Nearer Asia in the last century before Christ, that we
are no longer obliged to rely exclusively upon the Gospels and the
other books of the New Testament for the rise of Christianity. [7] The
critical and historical theology of Protestantism has itself thrown
so deep a light upon the origins of the Christian religion that the
question as to the historical existence of Jesus loses all paradox
which hitherto may have attached to it in the eyes of many. So, too,
Protestant theology no longer has any grounds for becoming excited
if the question is answered in a sense opposed to its own answer.

The author of the present work had hoped until lately that one
of the historians of Christianity would himself arise and extract
the present results of the criticisms of the Gospel, which to-day
are clear. These hopes have not been fulfilled. On the contrary,
in theological circles religious views continue to be quietly drawn
from the “fact” of an historical Jesus, and he is considered as the
impassable height in the religious development of the individual,
as though nothing has occurred and the existence of such a Jesus was
only the more clearly established by the investigations of critical
theology in this connection. The author has accordingly thought that he
should no longer keep back his own views, which he long since arrived
at out of the works of specialists, and has taken upon himself the
thankless task of bringing together the grounds which tell against
the theory of an historical Jesus.

Whoever, though not a specialist, invades the province of any
science, and ventures to express an opinion opposed to its official
representatives, must be prepared to be rejected by them with anger,
to be accused of a lack of scholarship, “dilettantism,” or “want
of method,” and to be treated as a complete ignoramus. This has
been the experience of all up to now who, while not theologians,
have expressed themselves on the subject of an historical Jesus. The
like experience was not spared the author of the present work after
the appearance of its first edition. He has been accused of “lack of
historical training,” “bias,” “incapacity for any real historical way
of thinking,” &c., and it has been held up against him that in his
investigations their result was settled beforehand–as if this was
not precisely the case with theologians, who write on the subject of
a historical Jesus, since it is just the task of theology to defend
and establish the truth of the New Testament writings. Whoever has
looked about him in the turmoil of science knows that generally each
fellow-worker is accustomed to regard as “method” that only which he
himself uses as such, and that the famous conception of “scientific
method” is very often ruled by points of view purely casual and
personal. [8] Thus, for example, we see the theologian Clemen, in
his investigation into the method of explaining the New Testament
on religious-historical lines, seriously put the question to himself
whether one “could not dispense himself from refuting such books as
finally arrive at the unauthenticity of all the Pauline epistles and
the non-historicity of the whole, or at least of almost the whole,
tradition concerning Jesus; for example, not only that of Bauer, but
also those of Jensen and Smith.” This same Clemen advances the famous
methodological axiom: “An explanation on religious-historical lines is
impossible if it of necessity leads to untenable consequences or sets
out from such hypotheses,” [9] obviously thinking here of the denial of
an historical Christ. For the rest, the “method” of “critical theology”
consists, as is well known, in applying an already settled picture of
Jesus to the Gospels and undertaking the critical sifting of their
contents according to this measure. This picture makes the founder
of the Christian religion merely a pious preacher of morality in the
sense of present-day liberalism, the “representative of the noblest
individuality,” the incarnation of the modern ideal of personality, or
of some other fashionable theological view. Theologians commence with
the conviction that the historical Jesus was a kind of “anticipation
of modern religious consciousness.” They think that they discern the
real historical import of the Gospels in their “moral-religious kernel”
so far as this is good for all time, and they arrive in this manner
at its “strictly scientific conception” of Jesus by casting out all
such features as do not fit this picture, thus recognising only the
“everlasting human” and the “modern” as historical. [10]

If one keeps this before his eyes he will not be particularly moved by
the talk about “method” and “lack of scientific system.” One could then
at most wonder that it should be forbidden to philosophers particularly
to have a say in theological matters. As though the peace at present
reigning between philosophy and theology and their mutual efforts at a
rapprochement did not clearly indicate that upon one of the two sides,
or upon both, something cannot be in order, and that consequently
it was high time, if no one else undertakes it, for a philosopher to
notice theology in order to terminate the make-believe peace which is
for both so fateful. For what does Lessing say? “With orthodoxy God be
thanked one had arrived at a tolerable understanding. Between it and
philosophy a partition had been raised behind which each could continue
its way without hindering the other. But what is now being done? The
partition is again being demolished, and under the pretext of making
us reasonable Christians we are being made unreasonable philosophers.”

The author of this book has been reproached with following in
it tendencies merely destructive. Indeed, one guardian of Zion,
particularly inflamed with rage, has even expressed himself to this
effect, that the author’s researches do not originate in a serious
desire for knowledge, but only in a wish to deny. One who, as I
have done, has in all his previous work emphasised the positive
nature of the ethical and religious life against the denying and
destroying spirit of the age, who has in his work “Die Religion als
Selbst-Bewusstsein Gottes” (1906) sought to build up anew from within
the shattered religious outlook upon the world, who in the last chapter
of the present work has left no doubt remaining that he regards the
present falling away of religious consciousness as one of the most
important phenomena of our spiritual life and as a misfortune for our
whole civilisation, should be protected against such reproaches. In
reality, “The Christ Myth” has been written pre-eminently in the
interests of religion, from the conviction that its previous forms
no longer suffice for men of to-day, that above all the “Jesuanism”
of historical theology is in its deepest nature irreligious, and
that this itself forms the greatest hindrance to all real religious
progress. I agree with E. v. Hartmann and W. v. Schnehen in the opinion
that this so-called Christianity of the liberal pastors is in every
direction full of internal contradiction, that it is false through and
through (in so saying naturally no individual representative of this
movement is accused of subjective untruthfulness). I agree that by
its moving rhetoric and its bold appearance of being scientific it is
systematically undermining the simple intellectual truthfulness of our
people; and that on this account this romantic cult of Jesus must be
combated at all costs, but that this cannot be done more effectually
than by taking its basis in the theory of the historical Jesus [11]
from beneath its feet.

This work seeks to prove that more or less all the features of
the picture of the historical Jesus, at any rate all those of any
important religious significance, bear a purely mythical character,
and no opening exists for seeking an historical figure behind the
Christ myth. It is not the imagined historical Jesus but, if any one,
Paul who is that “great personality” that called Christianity into life
as a new religion, and by the speculative range of his intellect and
the depth of his moral experience gave it the strength for its journey,
the strength which bestowed upon it victory over the other competing
religions. Without Jesus the rise of Christianity can be quite well
understood, without Paul not so. If in spite of this any one thinks
that besides the latter a Jesus also cannot be dispensed with, this can
naturally not be opposed; but we know nothing of this Jesus. Even in
the representations of historical theology he is scarcely more than
the shadow of a shadow. Consequently it is self-deceit to make the
figure of this “unique” and “mighty” personality, to which a man may
believe he must on historical grounds hold fast, the central point
of religious consciousness. Jesus Christ may be great and worthy of
reverence as a religious idea, as the symbolical personification
of the unity of nature in God and man, on the belief in which the
possibility of the “redemption” depends. As a purely historical
individual, as liberal theology views him, he sinks back to the level
of other great historical personalities, and from the religious point
of view is exactly as unessential as they, indeed, more capable of
being dispensed with than they, for in spite of all rhetoric he is
in the light of historical theology of to-day, even at best only
“a figure swimming obscurely in the mists of tradition.” [12]


Karlsruhe, January, 1910.


The time since the appearance of the second edition was too short
for any material alterations to be undertaken in the third edition
now appearing. However, the phraseology here and there has been
improved and many things put more strongly. Above all, the famous
passage in Tacitus and the passage 1 Cor. ii. 23 et seq. has been so
handled that its lack of significance as regards the existence of an
historical Jesus should now appear more clearly than hitherto. That
Paul in reality is not a witness for an historical Jesus and is wrongly
considered as the “foundation” of the faith in such a figure, should
be already established for every unprejudiced person as the result
of the discussion so far on the “Christ Myth.” The Protestantenblatt
finds itself now compelled to the admission that the historical image
of the person of Jesus as a matter of fact “can no longer be clearly
recognised” (No. 6, 1910). How then does it fare with the new “bases”
of Schmiedel? To no refutation of the assertions which I represent has
greater significance been hitherto ascribed on the theological side
than to those supposed supports of a “really scientific life of Jesus”
(in the discussions of “the Christ Myth” this has again received the
strongest expression). And yet these bases were advanced by their
originator obviously with a view to a conception quite different from
mine, and, as I have now shown, do not affect, generally speaking, the
view represented by me regarding the rise of the supposed historical
picture of Jesus. When, above all, the “historical references to
Jesus” are supposed to be contained in them, and these, according to
the Protestantenblatt, lie “like blocks of granite” in my path–then
this is a pure illusion of the theologians.

As can be conceived, my assertion that a pre-Christian cult
of Jesus existed has found the most decisive rejection. This,
however, is for the most part only due to the fact that the
researches in this connection of the American, Smith, and the
Englishman, Robertson, were not known, and, moreover, the opinion
was held that one need not trouble about these “foreigners,” who
further were not “specialists.” And yet Gunkel, in his work “Zum
religionsgeschichtlichen Verstaendnis des Neuen Testaments,” had
already sufficiently prepared that view, as one might have thought,
when, among other things, he declares “that even before Jesus there
existed in Jewish syncretistic circles a belief in the death and
resurrection of Christ.” [13] Again, it can only be rejected without
more ado by such as seek the traces of the pre-Christian cult of
Jesus in well-worn places and will only allow that to be “proved”
which they have established by direct original documentary evidence
before their eyes. In this connection it is forgotten that we are
dealing with a secret cult, the existence of which we can decide upon
only by indirect means. It is forgotten also that the hypothesis of a
pre-Christian cult of Jesus, if urged upon us from another quarter,
cannot be forthwith rejected because it does not suit the current
views, and because it may be that it is impossible for the time being
to place it beyond all doubt. Where everything is so hypothetical,
uncertain, and covered with darkness, as is the case with the origins
of Christianity, every hypothesis should be welcomed and tested
which appears to be in some way or the other suitable for opening up
a new point of view and clearing away the darkness. For as Dunkmann
says in his sympathetic and genuine discussion of “The Christ Myth”:
“Irregularities and even violences of combination must be borne in
science for the simple reason that our sources are too scanty and
full of contradictions. Our hypotheses will in all such cases have
something rash, bold, and surprising in them; if even they are in the
main correct, i.e., if they are irrefutable according to the method
of investigation” (“Der historische Jesus, der mythologische Jesus,
und Jesus der Christ,” 1910, 55). But if that very hypothesis is
not established, yet this makes no difference in the fact that there
existed a pre-Christian Jesus Christ, at least as a complex myth, and
this quite suffices for the explanation of the Pauline Christology and
the so-called “original community” of Jerusalem. I can, accordingly,
only regard it as a misleading of the public when the other side,
after rejecting the hypothesis of a pre-Christian cult of Jesus, bear
themselves as though they had thereby taken away the foundations for
the whole body of my views regarding an historical Jesus.

Meanwhile the storm which has been raised against my book in
theological circles and in the Press, and has even led to mass
meetings of protest in the Busch Circus and in the Dom at Berlin,
shows me that I have “hit the bull’s-eye” with my performance and
have in truth touched the sore point of Christianity. The way in which
the battle is being waged, the means by which my opponents attempt to
disparage the author of “The Christ Myth,” or to make me ridiculous
in the eyes of the public by personal slanders, their habit of trying
to injure me by throwing doubt on my intellectual capabilities, and
to undermine my scientific honour and official position (Bornemann,
Beth)–all this can only make me more determined to continue the
work of illumination that I have begun, and only proves to me that my
“Christ Myth” cannot be so absolutely “unscientific” and so completely
a quantite negligeable as its opponents are disposed to represent it.

The means by which the “Christ Myth” is opposed to-day are exactly
the same as those which were employed against Strauss’s “Leben Jesu,”
without, however, the least result being attained. I accordingly
await the further attacks of the enemy with complete coolness of
mind, confident in the fact that what is true in my book will make
its way of itself, and that a work which, like mine, has arisen from
serious motives, and has been carried through with a disregard of
personal advantages, cannot be lost but will be serviceable to the
spiritual progress of mankind. The attacks which have so far come to
my notice in pamphlets (Bornemann, v. Soden, Delbrueck, Beth) and in
the Press have not had the effect of making any weaker my fundamental
convictions. On the contrary, they have only served to reveal to me
still further the weakness of the opposing position, which is much
greater than I myself had hitherto imagined. I am, however, at all
times ready and pleased–and I have shown this too by the corrections
undertaken since the first edition of this work–to give attention to
real objections and to put right possible errors. All that matters to
me is simply the fact as such. The question before us in “The Christ
Myth,” as it is not unnecessary to point out here once again, is a
purely scientific one. For possible suggestions and advice in this
direction I will accordingly at all times be grateful. On the contrary,
I am left perfectly cold by personal slanders, anonymous threats, and
pious corrections, meetings of protest in which the Minister of Public
Worship takes part with obbligato trombone choirs and professions of
faith, as well as by the uproar of the multitude roused to fanaticism
in this manner by the “guardian of their souls.” They are everything
except refutations.


Karlsruhe, March, 1910.


Preface to the First and Second Editions 7
Preface to the Third Edition 21


I. The Influence of Parseeism on the Belief in
a Messiah 37
II. The Hellenistic Idea of a Mediator (Philo) 46
III. Jesus as Cult-God in the Creed of Jewish Sects 51
IV. The Sufferings of the Messiah 64
V. The Birth of the Messiah. The Baptism 88
VI. The Self-Offering of the Messiah. The Supper 128
VII. Symbols of the Messiah. The Lamb and the Cross 140


I. The Pauline Jesus 165
II. The Jesus of the Gospels 214
a. The Synoptic Jesus 214
Jesus in Secular Literature 230
b. The Objections against a Denial of the
Historicity of the Synoptic Jesus 235
c. The True Character of the Synoptic Jesus 265
d. Gnosticism and the Johannine Jesus 273




“If you see a man undaunted by dangers, undisturbed by passions,
happy when fortune frowns, calm in the midst of storms, will you not be
filled with reverence for him? Will you not say that here is something
too great and grand to be regarded as of the same nature as the trivial
body in which it dwells? A divine force has descended here–a heavenly
power moves a soul so wonderful, so calm, one which passes through all
life as though it were of small account, and smiles at all our hopes
and fears. Nothing so great can exist without the help of God, and
therefore in the main it belongs to that from which it came down. Just
as the rays of the sun touch the earth, but belong to that from which
they are sent, so a great and holy spirit, sent here that we may
have a more intimate knowledge of deity, lives indeed in our midst,
but remains in contact with its source. On that it depends, thither
its eyes are turned, thither its life tends: among men it dwells as a
noble guest. What then is this soul? One which relies upon no goodness
but its own. What is proper to man is his soul and the perfect reason
in the soul: for man is a rational animal: therefore his highest good
is reached when he is filled with that of which he is born.”

With these words the Roman philosopher Seneca (4 B.C.-65 A.D.) portrays
the ideally great and good man that we may be moved to imitate
him. [14] “We must choose some good man,” he says, “and always have him
before our eyes; and we must live and act as if he were watching us. A
great number of sins would remain uncommitted were there a witness
present to those about to sin. Our heart must have someone whom it
honours, and by whose example its inner life can be inspired. Happy is
he whose reverence for another enables him to fashion his life after
the picture living in his memory. We need some one upon whose life we
may model our own: without the rule you cannot correct what is amiss”
(Ep. 11). “Rely on the mind of a great man and detach yourself from
the opinions of the mob. Hold fast to the image of the most beautiful
and exalted virtue, which must be worshipped not with crowns but
with sweat and blood” (Ep. 67). “Could we but gaze upon the soul of
a good man, what a beautiful picture should we see, how worthy of
our reverence in its loftiness and peace. There would justice shine
forth and courage and prudence and wisdom: and humanity, that rare
virtue, would pour its light over all. Every one would declare him
worthy of honour and of love. If any one saw that face, more lofty
and splendid than any usually found among men, would he not stand
in dumb wonder as before a God, and silently pray that it might be
for his good to have seen it? Then, overcome by the inviting grace
of the vision, he would kneel in prayer, and after long meditation,
filled with wondering awe, he would break forth into Virgil’s words:
‘Hail to thee, whoe’er thou art! O lighten thou our cares!’ There is
no one, I repeat, who would not be inflamed with love were it given
him to gaze upon such an ideal. Now indeed much obscures our vision:
but if we would only make our eyes pure and remove the veil that
covers them, we should be able to behold virtue even though covered
by the body, and clouded by poverty, lowliness and shame. We should
see its loveliness even through the most sordid veils” (Ep. 115).

The attitude expressed in these words was widespread in the whole of
the civilised world at the beginning of the Christian era. A feeling
of the uncertainty of all things human weighed like a ghastly dream
upon most minds. The general distress of the time, the collapse of the
nation states under the rough hand of the Roman conquerors, the loss
of independence, the uncertainty of political and social conditions,
the incessant warfare and the heavy death-roll it involved–all this
forced men back upon their own inner life, and compelled them to
seek there for some support against the loss of outer happiness in
a philosophy which raised and invigorated the soul. But the ancient
philosophy had spent itself. The naive interplay of nature and spirit,
that ingenuous trust in external reality which had been the expression
of a youthful vigour in the Mediterranean peoples, from which indeed
the ancient civilisation was derived, now was shattered. To the eyes
of men at that time Nature and Spirit stood opposed as hostile and
irreconcilable facts. All efforts to restore the shattered unity were
frustrated by the impossibility of regaining the primitive attitude. A
fruitless scepticism which satisfied no one, but out of which no
way was known, paralysed all joy in outward or inner activities,
and prevented men from having any pleasure in life. Therefore all
eyes were turned towards a supernatural support, a direct divine
enlightenment, a revelation; and the desire arose of finding once
again the lost certainty in the ordering of life by dependence upon
an ideal and superhuman being.

Many saw in the exalted person of the Emperor the incarnation of
such a divine being. It was not then always pure flattery, but often
enough the expression of real gratitude towards individual Imperial
benefactors, combined with a longing for direct proximity with and
visible presence of a god, which gave to the worship of the Emperor
its great significance throughout the whole Roman Empire.

An Augustus who had put an end to the horrors of the civil war must, in
spite of everything, have appeared as a prince of peace and a saviour
in the uttermost extremity, who had come to renew the world and to
bring back the fair days of the Golden Age. He had again given to
mankind an aim in life and to existence some meaning. As the head of
the Roman State religion, a person through whose hands the threads of
the policy of the whole world passed, as the ruler of an empire such
as the world had never before seen, he might well appear to men as a
God, as Jupiter himself come down to earth, to dwell among men. “Now
at length the time is passed,” runs an inscription, apparently of
the ninth year before Christ, found at Priene not long ago, “when man
had to lament that he had been born. That providence, which directs
all life, has sent this man as a saviour to us and the generations
to come. He will put an end to all feuds, and dispose all things
nobly. In his appearance are the hopes of the past fulfilled. All
earlier benefactors of mankind he has surpassed. It is impossible
that a greater should come. The birthday of the God has brought for
the world the messages of salvation (Gospels) which attend him. From
his birth a new epoch must begin.” [15]

It was not only the longing of mankind for a new structure of society,
for peace, justice, and happiness upon earth, which lay at the root of
the cult of the Emperors. Deeper minds sought not only an improvement
in political and social circumstances, but felt disturbed by thoughts
of death and the fate of the soul after its parting from its bodily
shell. They trembled at the expectation of the early occurrence
of a world-wide catastrophe, which would put a terrible end to all
existence. The apocalyptic frame of mind was so widespread at the
commencement of the Christian era that even a Seneca could not keep
his thoughts from the early arrival of the end of the world. Finally,
there also grew up a superstitious fear of evil spirits and Daemons,
which we can scarcely exaggerate. And here no philosophic musings could
offer a support to anxious minds, but religion alone. Seldom in the
history of mankind has the need for religion been so strongly felt as
in the last century before and the first century after Christ. But it
was not from the old hereditary national religions that deliverance was
expected. It was from the unrestrained commingling and unification of
all existing religions, a religious syncretism, which was specially
furthered by acquaintance with the strange, but on that account all
the more attractive, religions of the East. Already Rome had become
a Pantheon of almost all religions which one could believe, while in
the Far East, in Nearer Asia, that breeding-place of ancient Gods and
cults, there were continually appearing new, more daring and secret
forms of religious activity. These, too, in a short while obtained
their place in the consciousness of Western humanity. Where the public
worship of the recognised Gods did not suffice, men sought a deeper
satisfaction in the numberless mystic associations of that time, or
formed themselves with others of like mind into private religious
bodies or pious brotherhoods, in order to nourish in the quiet of
private ritualistic observance an individual religious life apart
from the official State religion.



Among no people was the longing for redemption so lively and the
expectation of a speedy end of the world so strong as among the
Jews. Since the Babylonian captivity (586-536 B.C.) the former Jewish
outlook upon the world had undergone a great change. Fifty years had
been spent by the Israelites in the land of the stranger. For two
hundred years after their return to their own land they were under
Persian overlordship. As a consequence of this they were in close
connection politically and economically with the Achaemenidean Empire,
and this did not cease when Alexander overthrew the Persian power
and brought the whole Eastern world under Greek influence. During
this lengthy period Persian modes of thinking and Persian religious
views had influenced in many ways the old Jewish opinions, and had
introduced a large number of new ideas. First of all the extreme
dualism of the Persians had impressed a distinctly dual character
upon Jewish Monotheism. God and the world, which in the old ideas
had often mingled with one another, were separated and made to stand
in opposition to each other. Following the same train of thought,
the old national God Jahwe, in imitation of the Persian Ahuramazda
(Ormuzd), had developed from a God of fire, light, and sky into a God
of supernatural purity and holiness. Surrounded by light and enthroned
in the Beyond, like Ahuramazda, the source of all life, the living
God held intercourse with his creatures upon the earth only through
the instrumentality of a court of angels. These messengers of God or
intermediate beings in countless numbers moved between heaven and earth
upon his service. And just as Angromainyu (Ahriman), the evil, was
opposed to Ahuramazda, the good, and the struggle between darkness and
light, truth and falsehood, life and death, was, according to Persian
ideas, reproduced in the course of earthly events, so the Jews too
ascribed to Satan the role of an adversary of God, a corrupter of the
divine creation, and made him, as Prince of this world and leader of
the forces of hell, measure his strength with the King of Heaven. [16]

In the struggle of the two opposing worlds, according to Persian
ideas, Mithras stood in the foreground, the spirit of light,
truth, and justice, the divine “friend” of men, the “mediator,”
“deliverer,” and “saviour” of the world. He shared his office with
Honover, Ahuramazda’s Word of creation and revelation; and indeed in
most things their attributes were mingled. An incarnation of fire or
the sun, above all of the struggling, suffering, triumphant light,
which presses victoriously through night and darkness, Mithras was
also connected with death and immortality, and passed as guide of
souls and judge in the under-world. He was the “divine son,” of whom
it was said that Ahuramazda had fashioned him as great and worthy
of reverence as his own self. Indeed, he was in essence Ahuramazda
himself, proceeding from his supernatural light, and given a concrete
individuality. As companion in creation and “protector” of the world
he kept the universe standing in its struggle against its enemies. At
the head of the heavenly host he fought for God, and with his sword
of flame he drove the Daemons of Darkness in terror back into the
shadows. To take part in this combat on the side of God, to build up
the future kingdom of God by the work of a life-giving civilisation,
by the rendering fruitful of sterile wastes, the extinction of noxious
animals, and by moral self-education, seemed the proper end of human
existence. But when the time should have been fulfilled and the present
epoch come to an end, according to Persian belief, Ahuramazda was
then to raise up from the seed of Zarathustra, the founder of this
religion, the “virgin’s son,” Saoshyant (Sraosha, Sosiosch, which
signifies the Saviour), or, as it ran according to another rendering,
Mithras himself should descend upon the earth and in a last fierce
struggle overwhelm Angromainyu and his hosts, and cast them down
into the Nether World. He would then raise the dead in bodily shape,
and after a General Judgment of the whole world, in which the wicked
should be condemned to the punishments of hell and the good raised
to heavenly glory, establish the “millennial Kingdom of Peace.” Hell
itself was not to last for ever, for a great reconciliation was to
be finally held out even to the damned. Then Angromainyu also would
make peace with Ahuramazda, and upon a new earth beneath a new heaven
all were to be united to one another in everlasting blessedness.

These ideas entered the circle of Jewish thought and there brought
about a complete transformation of the former belief in a Messiah.

Messiah–that is, the Anointed (in Greek, Christos)–originally
signified the king as representative of Jahwe before the people and of
the people before Jahwe. According to 2 Sam. vii. 13 sq., he was placed
in the same relation of an obedient “son” to his “father,” in which
the whole people was conscious of standing. [17] Then the opposition
between the holy dignity of the “Anointed” of God and the humanly
imperfect personality of the Jewish kings led to the ideal of the
Messiah being transferred to the future and the complete realisation
of the rule of Jahwe over his people being expected only then. In
this sense the ancient prophets had already celebrated the Messiah
as an ideal King of the future, who would experience in the fullest
sense the high assurances of Jahwe’s favour, of which David had been
deemed worthy, since he would be completely worthy of them. They had
described him as the Hero, who would be more than Moses and Joshua,
who would establish the promised glory of Israel, dispose the people
anew, and bring Jahwe’s religion even to the heathen. [18] They had
glorified him in that he would span the heavens afresh, establish a
new earth, and make Israel Lord over all nations. [19] In this they
had at first understood the Messiah only as a human being, as a new
David or of his seed–theocratic king, divinely favoured prince of
peace and just ruler over his people, just as the Persian Saoshyant
was to be a man of the seed of Zarathustra. In this sense a Cyrus,
the deliverer of the people from the Babylonian captivity, the rescuer
and overlord of Israel, had been acclaimed Messiah. [20] But just as
Saoshyant had been undesignedly transfigured in the imagination of the
people into a divine being and made one with the figure of Mithras,
[21] so also among the prophets the Messiah was more and more assigned
the part of a divine king. He was called “divine hero,” “Father of
Eternity,” and the prophet Isaiah indulged in a description of his
kingdom of peace, in which the wolf would lie down by the lamb, men
would no longer die before their time, and would enjoy the fruit of
their fields without tithe, while right and justice would reign upon
earth under this king of a golden age as it had never done before. [22]
Secret and supernatural, as was his nature, so should the birth of
the Messiah be. Though a divine child, he was to be born in lowly
state. [23] The personality of the Messiah mingled with that of Jahwe
himself, as though it were God himself of whose ascending the throne
and journey heavenwards the Psalmists sing. [24]

These alternations of the Messiah between a human and a divine nature
appear still more clearly in the Jewish apocalyptics of the last
century before and the first century after Christ. Thus the Apocalypse
of Daniel (about 165 B.C.) speaks of one who as Son of Man will descend
upon the clouds of heaven and will be brought before the “Ancient of
Days.” The whole tone of the passage leaves no doubt that the Son of
Man (barnasa) is a superhuman being representing the Deity. To him the
majesty and kingdom of God have been entrusted in order that, at the
end of the existing epoch, he should descend upon the clouds of heaven,
surrounded by a troop of angels, and establish an everlasting power, a
Kingdom of Heaven. In the picture-language of Enoch (in the last decade
before Christ) the Messiah, the “Chosen One,” the “Son of Man,” appears
as a supernatural pre-existing being, who was hidden in God before the
world was created, whose glory continues from eternity to eternity and
his might from generation to generation, in whom the spirit of wisdom
and power dwells, who judges hidden things, punishes the wicked, but
will save the holy and just. [25] Indeed, the Apocalypse of Esdras
(the so-called fourth Book of Esdras) expressly combats the opinion
that the judgment of the world will come through another than God,
and likewise describes the Messiah as a kind of “second God,” as the
“Son of God,” as the human incarnation of the Godhead. [26]

In all of this the influence of Persian beliefs is unmistakable,
whether these arose in Iran itself directly, or whether the idea of
a God-appointed king and deliverer of the world was borrowed by the
Persians from the circle of Babylonian ideas. Here this conception
had taken deep root and was applied at different times now to this
king, now to that. [27] Just as in the Persian religion the image
of Saoshyant, so also in the Jewish view the picture of the Messiah
wavered between a human king of the race of David and a supernatural
being of divine nature descended from heaven. And just as in the
Persian representation of the coming of Saoshyant and the final victory
of the Kingdom of Light there would be a preceding period during which
threatening signs would appear in the heavens, the whole of nature
would find itself in upheaval and mankind would be scourged with
fearful plagues, so also the Jewish Apocalypse speaks of the “woes”
of the Messiah and describes a period of terror which would precede
the coming of the Messiah. The coming of the power of God was looked
upon as a miraculous catastrophe suddenly breaking in from on high,
as a conflagration of the world followed by a new creation. The Jewish
agreed with the Persian view in this also, that it made a heavenly
kingdom of undisturbed bliss “in the light of the everlasting life
and in likeness of the angels” follow the earthly world-wide empire
of the Messiah. This they imagined on exactly the same lines as the
Persian Paradise. There would the holy drink of the “Water of Life”
and nourish themselves on the fruit which hang upon the “Tree of
Life.” The wicked, on the other hand, would be cast into hell and
suffer in fearful torments the just punishment of their sins. [28]

The conception of a resurrection of the dead and a last judgment had
hitherto been strange to the Jews. In pre-exilic days they allowed the
body to die and the soul after death to go down as a shadow without
feeling into Hades (Sheol), without disturbing themselves further
about its fate. Now, however, with the doctrine of the destruction
of the world by fire and the general judgment, the idea of personal
immortality entered the world of Jewish thought. Thus it is said by
Daniel that on the day of judgment the dead will rise again, some
waking to everlasting life, others to everlasting perdition. “But the
teachers will shine as the brightness of heaven, and those who led
the multitude to justice as the stars for ever and ever.” [29] With
the acceptance of personal immortality the whole tone of religious
thought was deepened and enriched in the direction of thought for
the individual. Former Jewish morality had been essentially of a
collective kind. It was not so much the individual as the people
viewed collectively that was looked upon as the object of divine
solicitude. At this point the position, the road to which had been
already prepared by the prophets, was definitely established, that
the individual hoped for a personal religious salvation and as a
consequence felt in direct personal relationship with Jahwe. God
indeed remained, as the Persians had taught them to understand
him, the superhuman lord of heaven enthroned in pure light, the
source of all life, the living God. His metaphysical qualities,
however, his dazzling glory and unconquerable might were ever more
and more overshadowed by his moral attributes: goodness, grace,
and mercy appeared as the most prominent features in the character
of Jahwe. God seemed a loving father who leads his children through
life with kindly care, and without whose consent not a hair of one of
his creatures could be touched. The strong tendency within Judaism,
represented by the upper currents of pharisaic rabbinism, continually
drew the national boundaries closer, and was ever more anxiously
occupied with a painfully strict observance of the letter of the
law and a conscientious observance of ritualistic ordinances. Ethics
threatened to be extinguished under a system of conventional rules
of an essentially juristic nature. Yet all the while a more human
and natural morality was arising, an inward piety, warm-hearted,
popular, and sound, which broke through the narrow limits of Jewish
nationalism, and sent a fresh current into the heavy atmosphere of
official legality. It was then that the groundwork of later Christian
ethics was laid in the purified morality of the psalms, aphorisms,
and other edificatory writings of a Job, Baruch, Jesus son of Sirach,
&c. It was then that the Jewish Monotheism set itself to extend
its sway beyond the boundaries of its own land and to enter into
competition with the other religions of antiquity, from which it was
to draw back vanquished only before a matured Christianity.



With Alexander’s conquest of the Persian Empire Palestine also was
drawn within the circle of Hellenistic culture. It was at first a
vassal state of the Egyptian Ptolemies, and consequently at the
commencement of the second century before Christ came under the
overlordship of the Syrian Seleucids. The customs and intellectual life
of Greece forced their way into the quiet isolation of the priest-ruled
Jewish state and could not be expelled again, despite the national
reaction under the Maccabees against foreign influences. Above all,
however, the dispersal of the Jews contributed to bring about a
settlement of opposing views. Since the Exile the Jews had spread
over all the countries of the East Mediterranean. Some had remained
in Babylon, others were permanently settled especially in the ports
as tradesmen, bankers, and merchants. They controlled the entire
money market and trade of the East through their assiduous industry,
mercantile sharpness, their lack of scruples, and the tenacity with
which they held together, supported therein by their worship in common
in the Synagogue. In the atmosphere of Greek philosophy and morality a
still further transformation and purification of Jahwe took place. All
common human and material lineaments were dropped, and he developed
into a spiritual being of perfect goodness, such as Plato had described
the Godhead. Here the Jews found themselves face to face with the same
problem that had long occupied the Greek philosophers. This was the
reconciliation of the supernatural loftiness and aloofness from the
world of their God with the demands of the religious consciousness
that required the immediate presence of Godhead.

Among the ideas which were borrowed by Judaism from the Persian
religion belonged those connected with the mediatory “Word.” As
the creative power of the Godhead, the bearer of revelation and
representative of God upon earth, the expression “the word” had already
appeared in aphoristic literature. Under Graeco-Egyptian influence
the term “wisdom” (sophia) had become the naturalised expression for
it. “Wisdom” served to describe the activities in regard to man of the
God who held aloof from the world. In this connection it may be noted
that according to Persian ideas “Wisdom” under the name of Spenta
Armaiti was considered as one of the six or seven Amesha Spentas
(Amshaspands), those spirits that stood as a bodyguard closest to
the throne of God and corresponded to the Jewish archangels. She
was considered by the Persians as the daughter or spouse of
Ahuramazda. Already, in the so-called “Wisdom of Solomon,” written by
an Alexandrian Jew in the last century before Christ, she was declared
to be a separately existing spirit in close relation to God. Under the
guise of a half-personal, half-material being–a power controlling the
whole of nature–she was described as the principle of the revelation
of God in the creation, maintenance, and ruling of the world, as the
common principle of life from on high and as the intermediary organ
of religious salvation. Just as Plato had sought to overcome the
dualism of the ideal and the material world by the conception of a
“world-soul,” so “Wisdom” was intended to serve as an intermediary
between the opposites, the God of the Jews and his creation. These
efforts were continued by the Alexandrian Jew Philo (30 B.C. to 50
A.D.), who tried to bring the Perso-Jewish conception of the “Word”
or “Wisdom” into closer accord with the ideas of Greek philosophy
than the author of the “Book of Wisdom” had already done. Philo, too,
commenced with the opposition between an unknowable, unnameable God,
absolutely raised above the world, and material created existence. He
imagined this opposition bridged over by means of “powers” which,
as relatively self-existing individuals, messengers, servants, and
representatives of God, at one time more closely resembled Persian
angels or Greek Daemons, at another time the Platonic “Ideas,” the
originals and patterns of God in creating. Essentially, however,
they bore the character of the so-called “Fructifying powers,”
those creative forces which infused a soul and design into formless
matter and by means of which the Stoic philosophers sought to explain
existence. As the first of these intermediate forces, or, indeed, as
the essence of them all, Philo considered the “Logos,” efficacious
reason or the creative word of God. He called him the “first-born
son of God” or the “second God,” the representative, interpreter,
ambassador, Archangel of God, or Prince of Angels. He considered him
as the High Priest, who made intercession with God for the world,
the affairs of which he represented before him as the paraclete, the
advocate and consoler of the world, who was the channel to it of the
divine promises; as the tool with which God had fashioned the world,
the original and ideal of it to which God had given effect in its
creation–that which operated in all things; in a word, as the soul
or spirit of the world, which the Stoics had identified with their
God, but which Philo distinguished from the other-world Divinity and
looked upon as his revelation and manifestation.

In essence only an expression for the sum total of all divine forces
and activities, the Logos of Philo also was sometimes an impersonal
metaphysical principle, simply the efficacy of the Godhead, and
sometimes an independent personality distinct from God. Just as the
Stoics had personified their world-reason in Hermes, the messenger of
the Gods, so the Egyptians had raised Amun Ra’s magic word of creation
to a self-existing personal mediatory being in Thoth the guide of
souls; the Babylonians, the word of fate of the great God Marduk in
the shape of Nabu; the Persians, the word of Ahuramazda in Vohu mano
as well as in the Spenta Armaiti, the good thought of the creative
God. And just as according to Persian ideas it was at one time the
divine “son” and mediator “Mithras,” the collectivity of all divine
forces, at another the ideal man Saoshyant who appeared as Saviour
and Deliverer of the world, and just as both mingled in one form,
so Philo also at one time described the Word as the collectivity of
all creative ideas, at another only as the unembodied idea of man,
the ideal man, the direct divine image and immaterial pattern of
the material exemplars of humanity, that is effective therein as the
subject of all religious redemption. Indeed, he occasionally identified
him with the tree of life in Paradise, since both were everlasting and
“stood in the middle.”

According to Philo, man is unable of his own strength to free himself
from the bonds of earthly existence. All deliverance depends upon the
emancipation of the soul from the body and its sensuous desires. In
conformity with his true spiritual and godlike nature, to become
as perfect as God, is the highest virtue and at the same time true
happiness. This is attained by an insight into the divine reality of
things, by whole-hearted trust in God, by grateful recognition of the
goodness and love bestowed by him, showing itself in piety towards God
as well as in charity and justice towards other men. But in addition
the Logos itself must be in us and cause for us the insight into our
divine nature. The Logos must guide us, come to the aid of our human
weakness with his supernatural strength in the struggles against the
world and sin and raise us up to God. Thus the apotheosis of man is
the goal aimed at in all religious activity. The Logos, however, is
the only means to this end, in so far as we are raised through union
with him in faith and love to our true origin and life’s source,
“the vision of God,” and thereby have participation in his life.



All religious spirits of the time longed to secure this happy vision
and communion with God, and to obtain even here on earth a foretaste of
the heavenly life. The Jews sought to attain this end by a painfully
exact observance of the ordinances of their law, but in so doing they
became entangled in a mesh of such minute and tiresome regulations
that the more they applied themselves to the service of the law
the more difficult it appeared. It seemed to be no longer possible
to reconcile the demands of everyday life with one’s religious
duties. Some therefore withdrew from the life of the world and in
retirement and quiet endeavoured to devote themselves exclusively
to the “inner life.” In Egypt the Therapeutes or Physicians, a
religious association composed of Jews and their proselytes, with their
headquarters in the neighbourhood of Alexandria, sought in this manner,
as Philo informs us in his work “On the Contemplative Life,” to give
effect to the claims of religion as expressed by Philo himself. [30]
Their religious observances resembled those of the Orphic-Pythagorean
sects, as in abstinence from flesh and wine, admiration for virginity,
voluntary poverty, religious feasts and community singing, and the
use of white garments.

They made a deep study of the mystical writings of revelation that had
been handed down, and these they used as a guide in the allegorical
explanation of the Mosaic law. They united a contemplative piety with
a common religious observance, and thus sought to strengthen themselves
mutually in the certainty of religious salvation. Beyond the Jordan the
Jewish sect of the Essenes (from the Syrian word chase, plural chasen
or chasaja) had their chief settlement. These called themselves, as is
expressed by their name, the “Pious” or “Godfearing.” In their esteem
of temperance, celibacy, and poverty, their reprobation of slavery,
private property, the taking of oaths, and blood-sacrifice, in the
honour they paid the sun as a visible manifestation of the divine
light, they agreed with the Therapeutes. They differed from them,
however, in their monastic organisation and the regular manner in which
the life of the community was divided among different classes, their
strict subordination to superiors, their maintenance of a novitiate of
several years, the secrecy of the traditions of the sect, and their
cultivation of the healing art and magic. The Therapeutes passed
their lives in leisurely contemplation and spiritual exercises; the
Essenes, on the other hand, engaged in the rearing of stock, farming,
and bee-culture, or they pursued a handicraft, and in the country
places or towns of Judaea, where they often dwelt together in houses of
the order, they lived as dwellers in a desert the life of purity and
sanctity. Both sects, again, were alike in expecting an early end of
the world and in seeking to prepare themselves for the reception of the
promises of God by the cultivation of brotherly dispositions amongst
themselves, by justice, good works, and benevolence towards their
fellow-men, finding therein the special occupation of their lives. [31]

Of what nature were the secret traditions upon which these sects
rested? We know from the Jewish historian Josephus that the Essenes
clung to an extreme dualism of soul and body, in which, indeed, they
agreed with the other religious associations of antiquity. Like all
mystical sects, they regarded the body as the grave and prison-house
of the immortal soul, to which it had been banished from an earlier
life in light and blessedness. They also grounded their longing for
deliverance from the world of sense and their strivings towards the
glory of a better life of the soul beyond the grave upon pessimism
in regard to human existence. They even regarded the performance
of secret rites as a necessary condition of redemption. But in the
opinion of the Essenes it was essential above all to know the names of
the angels and daemons who opened the passage to the different heavens,
disposed one above another. This knowledge was to be revealed to men
by one of the higher gods, a god-redeemer. A conception allied to that
lay at the root of the Book of Wisdom, as well as of Philo’s work–the
belief in the magic power of the redemptive word of God, mingled by the
Essenes with many strange Egyptian, Persian, and Babylonian ingredients
and removed from the sphere of philosophic thought to the region
of a rankly luxuriant superstition. Thus the closely related Jewish
Apocalypse had expressly supported the revelation of a secret divine
wisdom. [32] Indeed, we now know that this whole world of thought
belonged to an exceedingly manifold syncretic religious system,
composed of Babylonian, Persian, Jewish, and Greek ingredients,
which ruled the whole of Western Asia in the last centuries before
Christ. Its followers called themselves Adonaei, after the name of its
supposed founder, Ado (? Adonis). It is, however, generally described
as the Mandaic religion, according to another name for its followers,
the so-called Mandaei (Gnostics). [33]

Of the numberless sects into which this religion split only a few names
have come down to us, of which some played a part in the history of the
heresies of early Christianity; for example, the Ophites or Nassenes,
the Ebionites, Perates, Sethianes, Heliognostics, Sampsaees, &c. [34]
We are thus much better acquainted with their fundamental ideas,
which were very fantastic and complicated. They all subscribed to
the belief in the redemption of the soul of man from its grave of
darkness by a mediatory being, originally hidden in God and then
expressly awakened or appointed by him for this purpose. In original
Mandaism he bore the name of Manda de hajje–that is, Gnosis, or “word”
of life. In the form of Hibil-ziwa, the Babylonian Marduk or Nabu,
he was to descend from heaven with the keys thereof, and by means of
his magic obtain the dominion of the world. He was to conquer those
daemons that had fallen away from God, introduce the end of the world,
and lead back the souls of light to the highest Godhead.

As the Apocalyptics show, this view had numerous adherents among
the Jews of Palestine also. All those who found no satisfaction
in the literalness of the Pharasaic beliefs and the business-like
superficiality of the official Jewish religion, found edification in
ideas of this sort, which excited the imagination. They dealt with
them as “mysteries,” and sought, as may well be from fear of conflicts
with traditional religion, to keep them secret from the public. [35]
Hence it is that we have such an incomplete knowledge of this side
of the religious life of the Jews. At any rate they clothed their
expected Messiah with the attributes of the Mandaic God of Mediation,
and they appear, as is clear from the Apocalypse of Daniel and that
of John, to have taken particular pleasure in the description of the
scene where God calls (“awakes”) the Redeemer to his mediatory office
and installs him as Deliverer, Ruler of the World, and Judge of the
living and the dead.

We are accustomed to look upon the Jewish religion as strictly
monotheistic. In truth, it never was, even in the Mosaic times,
until after the return from Exile. And this is clear, in spite of the
trouble which the composers of the so-called historic books of the
Old Testament have taken to work up the traditions in a monotheistic
sense and to obliterate the traces of the early Jewish polytheism,
by transforming the ancient gods into patriarchs, heroes, angels,
and servants of Jahwe. It was not entirely Babylonian, Persian, and
Greek opinions which influenced Judaism in a polytheistic direction;
from the beginning, besides the theory of one God, emphasised
by the priesthood and official world, there existed a belief in
other Gods. This constantly received fresh nourishment from foreign
influences, and it appears to have been chiefly cultivated in the
secret societies. On the descent of the Israelites into Canaan each
tribe brought with it its special God, under whose specific guidance it
believed its deeds were accomplished. By the reforms of the Prophets
these Gods were suppressed; but the higher grew the regard for Jahwe
(apparently the God of the tribe of Judah), and the further he was in
consequence withdrawn from the world to an unapproachable distance,
the more strongly the remembrance of the ancient Gods again arose and
assumed the form of the recognition of divine intermediate beings, the
so-called “Sons of God.” In these the longing for the direct presence
and visible representation of God sought expression. Such appears to
have been the “Presence,” or “Angel of God,” with whom Jacob wrestled
in the desert, [36] who led the Israelites out of Egypt and went before
them as a pillar of flame, [37] who fought against their enemies,
drove the Canaanites from their homes, [38] held intercourse with the
prophets Elijah and Ezekiel, [39] and stood by the people of Jahwe in
every difficulty. [40] He is also called the “King” (Melech), or “Son”
of Jahwe, [41] and thus exactly resembles the Babylonian Marduk, the
Persian Mithras, the Phoenician Hercules or Moloch, “the first-born
son” of God (Protogonos), who also appeared among the Orphics under
the name of Phanes (i.e., Countenance), who wrestles with Zeus at
Olympia as Jacob with Jahwe, and, like him, dislocates his hip in
the struggle with Hippokoon. In the rabbinic theology he is compared
with the mystic Metatron, a being related to the Logos, “The Prince of
the Presence,” “Leader of Angels,” “Lord of Lords,” “King of Kings,”
“Commencement of the Way of God.” He was also called the “Protector,”
“Sentinel,” and “Advocate” of Israel, who lays petitions before God,
and “in whom is the name of the Lord.” [42] Thus he is identical with
that Angel promised in the second Book of Moses, in whom also is the
name of Jahwe, who was to lead Israel to victory over the Amorites,
Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites. [43] But
he, again, is no other than Joshua, who was said to have overthrown
these nations with Jahwe’s aid. [44] But Joshua himself is apparently
an ancient Ephraimitic God of the Sun and Fruitfulness, who stood
in close relation to the Feast of the Pasch and to the custom of
circumcision. [45]

Now, many signs speak in favour of the fact that Joshua or Jesus was
the name under which the expected Messiah was honoured in certain
Jewish sects. In Zech. iii. Joshua, who, according to Ezra iii. 2,
led back the Jews into their old homes after the Babylonian captivity,
just as the older Joshua brought back the Israelites into Canaan, the
promised land of their fathers, was invested as High Priest by the
“Angel of the Lord,” and promised the continuance of his priesthood
so long as he walked in the ways of the Lord. In Zech. vi. 9-15
the High Priest Joshua is crowned as Messiah and brought into
connection with the “branch” under which the glory of God’s kingdom
will come to pass. It is true that in this passage under the title
of Messiah Zerubbabel, the leader of the Jews of the race of David,
was originally understood. In him the prophet thought he could
discern that “branch” by which, in accordance with Isaiah xi. 1,
the House of David was again to obtain the rule. Since, however,
the great hopes set upon Zerubbabel as Messiah were not fulfilled,
a correction was made (and this before the Bible was translated
into Greek) in the text of the prophet, as follows: The name of
Zerubbabel was struck out, the plural changed into the singular,
so that Joshua alone was represented as having been crowned, the
promises regarding the Messiah accordingly also passing over to
him (Stade, “Gesch. des Volkes Israel,” 1888, ii. 126, note. Huehn,
“Die messianischen Weissagungen des israel. Volkes,” 1889, 62 et sq.).

Jesus was a name given, as will be still more clearly shown, not
only to the High Priest of Zechariah and to the successor of Moses,
both of whom were said to have led Israel back into its ancient
home, both having a decidedly Messianic character. The name in
ancient times also belonged to the Healthbringer and Patron of the
Physician–namely, Jasios or Jason, the pupil of Chiron skilled in
healing [46]–who in general shows a remarkable resemblance to the
Christian Redeemer. Consider also the significant fact that three times
at decisive turning-points in the history of the Israelites a Joshua
appears who leads his people into their promised home, into Canaan
and Jerusalem, into the Kingdom of God–the “New Jerusalem.” Now, as
Epiphanius remarks in his “History of the Heretics,” Jesus bears in
the Hebrew language the same meaning as curator, therapeutes–that
is, physician and curer. But the Therapeutes and Essenes regarded
themselves as physicians, and, above all, physicians of the soul. It
is accordingly by no means improbable that they too honoured the God
of their sect under this name. [47] We, moreover, read in a Parisian
magic-papyrus recently found and published by Wessely (line 3119
et sq.): “I exort thee by Jesus the God of the Hebrews.” The words
are found in an ostensibly “Hebrew Logos” of that papyrus, the tone
of which is quite ancient, moreover shows no trace of Christian
influence, and is ascribed by the transcriber to “the Pure,” under
which name, according to Dieterich, the Essenes or Therapeutes are to
be understood. [48] The Jessaes or Jessenes (Jessaioi) named themselves
after Jesus, or after “the branch from the root of Jesse.” [49] They
were closely connected on one side with the Essenes and on the other
side with the Jewish sect of the Nazarenes or Nazoraes (Nazoraiori),
if they were not absolutely identical. These were, as Epiphanius shows,
in existence long before Christ, and had no knowledge of him. [50]
They were, however, called Nazoraes (Nazarenes (Nazarenos) is only
a linguistic variation of it, cf. Essaes and Essenes) because they
honoured the Mediator God, the divine “son,” as a protector and
guardian (Syrian, Nasarya; Hebrew, Ha-nosri) (cf. “the Protector of
Israel,” also the fact that Mithras was honoured as “Protector of
the World”). According to Acts xxiv. 5 the first followers of Jesus
were also called Nazoraes or Nazarenes. The expressions “Jesus”
and “Nazorean” were therefore originally of almost like meaning,
and by the addition of “the Nazorean” or “Nazarene” Jesus is not
characterised as the man of Nazareth, as the Evangelists represent it,
but as the Healer and Deliverer.

Whether there was a place called Nazareth in pre-Christian days must
be considered as at least very doubtful. Such a place is not mentioned
either in the Old Testament or in the Talmud, which, however, mentions
more than sixty Galilean towns; nor, again, by the Jewish historian
Josephus, nor in the Apocrypha. Cheyne believes himself justified by
this in the conclusion that Nazareth in the New Testament is a pure
geographical fiction. [51]

It is only in the later phases of the tradition that the name appears
in the New Testament as a place-name. In the earlier ones the Nazorean
(Nazarene) only signifies the follower of a particular sect, or is
a surname of Jesus which characterises the significance attached to
him in the thoughts of his followers. “The Nazorean” appears here
only as an integral part of the whole name of Jesus, as Zeus Xenios,
Hermes Psychopompos, Apollo Pythios, &c., &c. It is applied to Jesus
only as Guardian of the world, Protector and Deliverer of Men from the
power of sin and Daemons, but without any reference to a quite obscure
and entirely unknown village named Nazareth, which is mentioned in
documents beyond any dispute, only from the fourth century on (see
Eusebius, Jerome, and Epiphanius). Or where else is a sect named after
the birthplace of its founder? [52] Moreover, even in the Gospels it
is not Nazareth but Capernaum which is described as his city; while
Nazareth does not play any part at all in the life of Jesus. For the
passages Matt. xiii. 53-58 and Mark vi. 1-6, according to which he
had no success with his miracles in his “patris” on account of the
unbelief of the people, leave the question open whether under the
name of “patris” one is to understand his father-city Nazareth or
somewhere else. The corresponding passage, Luke iv. 16-31, mentions
Nazareth, it is true, in connection with this incident; but it is
in discrepancy with the older versions of Matthew and Mark, and it
appears otherwise recognisable as a later redaction of the passages
in the other Gospels. [53]

Now the expression nazar or netzer in the sense of twig (sprout)
is found not only in the well-known passage Isaiah xi. 1, where the
Messiah is described as the “rod from the tree of Jesse” or “the twig
from its root.” In fine, was not the twig looked upon as a symbol
of the Redeemer in his character of a God of vegetation and life, as
was the case in the worship of Mithras, of Men, a god of Asia Minor,
of Attis, Apollo, [54] &c., and did not this idea also make itself
felt in the name of the Nazareans? “He shall be called a Nazarene,”
[55] accordingly, does not signify that he was to be born in the small
village of Nazareth, which probably did not exist in the time of Jesus,
but that he is the promised netzer or Zemah, who makes all new, and
restores the time when “one loads the other beneath vine and fig-tree,”
[56] and wonderful increase will appear. [57] Again, the possibility
is not excluded of the name of the Nazareans having been confused with
that of the Nasiraes (Nazirites), those “holy” or “dedicated” ones,
who were a survival in Judea from the times when the Israelite tribes
were nomads. These sought to express their opposition to the higher
civilisation of the conquered land by patriarchal simplicity and purity
of life, abstinence from the use of oil, wine, and the shears, &c. [58]

According to this, Jesus (Joshua) was originally a divinity, a
mediator, and God of healing of those pre-Christian Jewish sectaries,
with reference to whom we are obliged to describe the Judaism of the
time–as regards certain of its tendencies, that is–as a syncretic
religion. [59] “The Revelation of John” also appears to be a Christian
redaction of an original Jewish work which in all likelihood belonged
to a pre-Christian cult of Jesus. The God Jesus which appears in it has
nothing to do with the Christian Jesus. Moreover, its whole range of
ideas is so foreign even to ancient Judaism that it can be explained
only by the influence of heathen religions upon the Jewish. [60]
It is exactly the same with the so-called “Doctrine of the Twelve
Apostles.” This too displays a Jewish foundation, and speaks of a
Jesus in the context of the words of the supper, who is in no wise
the same as the Christian Redeemer. [61] It is comprehensible that
the later Christians did all they could in order to draw the veil of
forgetfulness over these things. Nevertheless Smith has succeeded
in his book, “The Pre-Christian Jesus,” in showing clear evidences
even in the New Testament of a cult of an old God Jesus. Among other
things the phrase “ta peri tou Iesou” (“the things concerning
Jesus”) [62] which according to all appearance has no reference to
the history of Jesus, but only means the doctrines concerning him,
and in any case could originally only have had this meaning, involves
a pre-Christian form of belief in a Jesus. But this point is above all
supported by the circumstance that even at the earliest commencement
of the Christian propaganda we meet with the name of Jesus used in
such a manner as to point to a long history of that name. For it
is employed from the beginning in the driving out of evil spirits,
a fact that would be quite incomprehensible if its bearer had been
merely a man. Now we know from the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles
that it was not only the disciples of the Jesus of the Gospels, but
also others even in his lifetime (i.e., even in the first commencement
of the Christian propaganda), healed diseases, and drove out evil
spirits in the name of Jesus. From this it is to be concluded that
the magic of names was associated from of old with the conception
of a divine healer and protector, and that Jesus, like Marduk, was
a name for this God of Healing. [63] Judging by this the Persian,
but above all the Babylonian, religion must have influenced the views
of the above-named sects. For the superstition regarding names, the
belief in the magic power attributed to the name of a divine being,
as well as the belief in Star Gods and Astral mythology, which is
a characteristic of Mandaism, all have Babylon as their home. The
Essenes also appear to have exercised the magical and healing art of
which they boasted in the form of wonder-working and the driving out
of evil spirits by a solemn invocation of the name of their God of
Healing. [64]



In the most different religions the belief in a divine Saviour and
Redeemer is found bound up with the conception of a suffering and dying
God, and this idea of a suffering and dying Messiah was by no means
unknown to the Jews. It may be of no importance that in the Apocalypse
of Esdras [65] the death of Christ is spoken of, since in the opinion
of many this work only appeared in the first century after Christ;
but Deutero-Isaiah too, during the Exile, describes the chosen one
and messenger of God as the “suffering servant of God,” as one who
had already appeared, although he had remained unknown and despised,
had died shamefully and been buried, but as one also who would rise up
again in order to fulfil the splendour of the divine promise. [66] This
brings to mind the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Gods of
Babylon and of the whole of Nearer Asia; for example, Tammuz, Mithras,
Attis, Melkart, and Adonis, Dionysus, the Cretan Zeus, and the Egyptian
Osiris. The prophet Zechariah, moreover, speaks of the secret murder of
a God over which the inhabitants of Jerusalem would raise their lament,
“as in the case of Hadad-rimmon (Ramman) in the valley of Megiddon,”
that is, as at the death of Adonis, one of the chief figures among
the Gods believed in by the Syrians. [67] Ezekiel also describes the
women of Jerusalem, sitting before the north gate of the city and
weeping over Tammuz. [68] The ancient Israelites, too, were already
well acquainted with the suffering and dying Gods of the neighbouring
peoples. Now, indeed, it is customary for Isaiah’s “servant of God”
to be held to refer to the present sufferings and future glory of
the Jewish people, and there is no doubt that the prophet understood
the image in that sense. At the same time Gunkel rightly maintains
that in the passage of Isaiah referred to, the figure of a God who
dies and rises again stands in the background, and the reference to
Israel signifies nothing more than a new symbolical explanation of
the actual fate of a God. [69]

Every year the forces of nature die away to reawaken to a new life only
after a long period. The minds of all peoples used to be deeply moved
by this occurrence–the death whether of nature as a whole beneath
the influence of the cold of winter, or of vegetable growth under the
parching rays of the summer sun. Men looked upon it as the fate of a
fair young God whose death they deeply lamented and whose rebirth or
resurrection they greeted with unrestrained rejoicing. On this account
from earliest antiquity there was bound up with the celebration
of this God an imitative mystery under the form of a ritualistic
representation of his death and resurrection. In the primitive stages
of worship, when the boundaries between spirit and nature remained
almost entirely indistinct, and man still felt himself inwardly in a
sympathetic correspondence with surrounding nature, it was believed
that one could even exercise an influence upon nature or help it in
its interchange between life and death, and turn the course of events
to one’s own interest. For this purpose man was obliged to imitate
it. “Nowhere,” says Frazer, to whom we are indebted for a searching
inquiry into all ideas and ritualistic customs in this connection,
“were these efforts more strictly and systematically carried out than
in Western Asia. As far as names go they differed in different places,
in essence they were everywhere alike. A man, whom the unrestrained
phantasy of his adorers clothed with the garments and attributes
of a God, used to give his life for the life of the world. After he
had poured from his own body into the stagnating veins of nature a
fresh stream of vital energy, he was himself delivered over to death
before his own sinking strength should have brought about a general
ruin of the forces of nature, and his place was then taken by another,
who, like all his forerunners, played the ever-recurring drama of the
divine resurrection and death.” [70] Even in historic times this was
frequently carried out with living persons. These had formerly been
the kings of the country or the priests of the God in question, but
their place was now taken by criminals. In other cases the sacrifice
of the deified man took place only symbolically, as with the Egyptian
Osiris, the Persian Mithras, the Phrygian Attis, the Syrian Adonis,
and the Tarsic (Cilician) Sandan (Sandes). In these cases a picture
of the God, an effigy, or a sacred tree-trunk took the place of the
“God man.” Sufficient signs, however, still show that in such cases
it was only a question of a substitute under milder forms of ritual
for the former human victim. Thus, for example, the name of the High
Priest of Attis, being also Attis, that is, “father,” the sacrificial
self-inflicted wound on the occasion of the great feast of the God
(March 22nd to 27th), and the sprinkling with his blood of the picture
of the God that then took place, makes us recognise still more plainly
a later softening of an earlier custom of self-immolation. [71] With
the idea of revivifying dying nature by the sacrifice of a man was
associated that of the “scapegoat.” The victim did not only represent
to the people their God, but at the same time stood for the people
before God and had to expiate by his death the misdeeds committed by
them during the year. [72] As regards the manner of death, however,
this varied in different places between death by his own sword or
that of the priest, by the pyre or the gibbet (gallows).

In this way we understand the 53rd chapter of Isaiah: “Surely he
hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him
stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our
transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement
of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we
like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed,
yet he humbled himself, and opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led
to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb; yea,
he opened not his mouth. He was cut off out of the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And they made
his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death; although
he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. When
thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed,
he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper
in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul [? sufferings],
and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant
justify many, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I
divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil
with the strong; because he poured out his soul unto death, and was
numbered with the transgressors; yet he bare the sin of many, and made
intercession for the transgressors.” Here we obviously have to do with
a man who dies as an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of his people,
and by his death benefiting the lives of the others is on that account
raised to be a God. Indeed, the picture of the just man suffering, all
innocent as he is, itself varies between a human and a divine being.

And now let us enter into the condition of the soul of such an unhappy
one, who as “God man” suffers death upon the gibbet, and we understand
the words of the 22nd Psalm: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my
roaring? O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou answereth not;
and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou
that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee;
they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and
were delivered; they trusted in Thee, and were not ashamed. But I am
a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All
they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake
the lip, saying, Commit thyself unto the Lord, let him deliver him:
let him deliver him, seeing he delighteth in him…. Many bulls have
compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gape
upon me with their mouth, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am
poured out like water. And all my bones are out of joint: my heart
is like wax: it is melted in the midst of my bowels…. They pierced
my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones. They look and stare
upon me: they part my garments among them, and upon my vesture do
they cast lots. But be not thou far off, O Lord: O Thou, my succour,
haste Thee to help me…. Save me from the lion’s mouth, yea, from
the horns of the wild oxen….”

When the poet of the psalms wished to describe helplessness in its
direst extremity, before his eyes there came the picture of a man, who,
hanging upon the gibbet, calls upon God’s aid, while round about him
the people gloat over his sufferings, which are to save them; and the
attendants who had taken part in the sacrifice divide among themselves
the costly garments with which the God-king had been adorned.

The employment of such a picture presupposes that the occurrence
depicted was not unknown to the poet and his public, whether it
came before their eyes from acquaintance with the religious ideas
of their neighbours or because they were accustomed to see it in
their own native usages. As a matter of fact in ancient Israel human
sacrifices were by no means unusual. This appears from numberless
passages of the Old Testament, and has been already exhaustively set
forth by Ghillany in his book “Die Menschenopfer der alten Hebraeer”
(1842), and by Daumer in his “Der Feuer- und Molochdienst der alten
Hebraeer.” Thus we read in 2 Sam. xxi. 6-9 of the seven sons of the
House of Saul, who were delivered over by David to the Gibeonites,
who hung them on the mountain before the Lord. Thus was God appeased
towards the land. [73] In Numb. xxv. 4 Jahwe bade Moses hang the chiefs
of the people “to the Lord before the sun, in order that the bitter
wrath of the Lord might be turned from Israel.” And according to the
Book of Joshua this latter dedicated the inhabitants of the city of Ain
to the Lord, and after the capture of the city hung their king upon
a tree, [74] while in the tenth chapter (15-26) he even hangs five
kings at one time. Indeed, it appears that human sacrifice formed a
regular part of the Jewish religion in the period before the Exile;
which indeed was but to be expected, considering the relationship
between Jahwe and the Phoenician Baal. Jahwe himself was, moreover,
originally only another form of the old Semitic Fire- and Sun-God;
the God-king (Moloch or Melech), who was honoured under the image of
a Bull, was represented at this time as a “smoking furnace” [75] and
was gratified and propitiated by human sacrifices. [76] Even during
the Babylonian captivity, despite the voices raised against it by
some prophets in the last years of the Jewish state, sacrifices of
this kind were offered by the Jews; until they were suppressed under
the rule of the Persians, and in the new Jewish state were expressly
forbidden. But even then they continued in secret and could easily be
revived at any time, so soon as the excitement of the popular mind in
some time of great need seemed to demand an extraordinary victim. [77]

Now the putting to death of a man in the role of a divine ruler was
in ancient times very often connected with the celebration of the
new year. This is brought to our mind even at the present day by the
German and Slav custom of the “bearing out” of death at the beginning
of spring, when a man or an image of straw symbolising the old year or
winter, is taken round amidst lively jesting and is finally thrown into
the water or ceremonially burnt, while the “Lord of May,” crowned with
flowers, makes his entrance. Again, the Roman Saturnalia, celebrated
in December, during which a mock king wielded his sceptre over a world
of joy and licence and unbounded folly, and all relationships were
topsy-turvy, the masters playing the part of slaves and vice-versa,
in the most ancient times used to be held in March as a festival of
spring. And in this case, too, the king of the festival had to pay
for his short reign with his life. In fact, the Acts of St. Dasius,
published by Cumont, show that the bloody custom was still observed
by the Roman soldiers on the frontiers of the Empire in the year 303
A.D. [78]

In Babylon the Feast of the Sakaees corresponded to the Roman
Saturnalia. It was ostensibly a memorial of the inroad of the Scythian
Sakes into Nearer Asia, and according to Frazer was identical with the
very ancient new year’s festival of the Babylonians, the Zakmuk. This
too was associated with a reversal of all usual relationships. A
mock king, a criminal condemned to death, was here also the central
figure–an unhappy being, to whom for a few days was accorded absolute
freedom and every kind of pleasure, even to the using of the royal
harem, until on the last day he was divested of his borrowed dignity,
stripped naked, scourged, and then burnt. [79] The Jews gained a
knowledge of this feast during the Babylonian captivity, borrowed
it from their oppressors, and celebrated it shortly before their
Pasch under the name of the Feast of Purim, ostensibly, as the Book
of Esther is at pains to point out, as a memorial of a great danger
from which in Persia during the reign of Ahasuerus (Xerxes) they
were saved by the craft of Esther and her uncle Mordecai. Jensen,
however, has pointed out in the Vienna Zeitschrift fuer die Kunde des
Morgenlandes [80] that the basis of the narrative of Esther is an
opposition between the chief Gods of Babylon and those of hostile
Elam. According to his view under the names of Esther and Mordecai
are hidden the names of Istar, the Babylonian Goddess of fertility,
and Marduk, her “son” and “beloved.” At Babylon during the Feast
of the Sakaees, under the names of the Elamite Gods Vashti and Haman
(Humman), they were put out of the way as representatives of the old
or wintry part of the year in order that they might rise up again
under their real names and bring into the new year or the summer half
of the year. [81] Thus the Babylonian king of the Sakaees also played
the part of a God and suffered death as such upon the pyre. Now we
have grounds for assuming that the later Jewish custom at the Feast
of Purim of hanging upon a gibbet and burning a picture or effigy
representing the evil Haman, originally consisted, as at Babylon,
in the putting to death of a real man, some criminal condemned to
death. Here, too, then was seen not only a representative of Haman,
but one also of Mordecai, a representative of the old as well as of
the new year, who in essence was one and the same being. While the
former was put to death at the Purim feast, the latter, a criminal
chosen by lot, was given his freedom on this occasion, clothed with
the royal insignia of the dead man and honoured as the representative
of Mordecai rewarded by Ahasuerus for his services.

“Mordecai,” it is said in the Book of Esther, “went out from the
king in royal attire, gold and white, with a great crown of gold, and
covered with a robe of linen and purple. And the town of Susa rejoiced
and was merry.” [82] Frazer has discovered that in this description we
have before us the picture of an old Babylonian king of the Sakaees,
who represented Marduk, as he entered the chief town of the country
side, and thus introduced the new year. At the same time it appears
that in reality the procession of the mock king was less serious
and impressive than the author of the Book of Esther would out of
national vanity make us believe. Thus Lagarde has drawn attention to
an old Persian custom which used to be observed every year at the
beginning of spring in the early days of March, which is known as
“the Ride of the Beardless One.” [83] On this occasion a beardless
and, when possible, one-eyed yokel, naked, and accompanied by a
royal body-guard and a troop of outriders, was conducted in solemn
pomp through the city seated upon an ass, amidst the acclamations of
the crowd, who bore branches of palm and cheered the mock king. He
had the right to collect contributions from the rich people and
shopkeepers along the route which he followed. Part of these went
into the coffers of the king, part were assigned to the collector,
and he could without more ado appropriate the property of another
in case the latter refused his demands. He had, however, to finish
his progress and disappear within a strictly limited time, for in
default of this he exposed himself to the danger of being seized by
the crowd and mercilessly cudgelled to death. People hoped that from
this procession of “the Beardless One” an early end of winter and a
good year would result. From this it appears that here too we have
to do with one of those innumerable and multiform spring customs,
which at all times and among the most diverse nations served to
hasten the approach of the better season. The Persian “Beardless One”
corresponded with the Babylonian king of the Sakaees, and appears to
have represented the departing winter. Frazer concludes from this
that the criminal also who played the part of the Jewish “Mordecai”
with similar pomp rode through the city like “the Beardless One,” and
had to purchase his freedom with the amusement which he afforded the
people. In this connection he recalls a statement of Philo according
to which, on the occasion of the entry of the Jewish King Agrippa into
Alexandria, a half-crazy street sweeper was solemnly chosen by the
rabble to be king. After the manner of “the Beardless One,” covered
with a robe and bearing a crown of paper upon his head and a stick
in his hand for a sceptre, he was treated by a troop of merry-makers
as a real king. [84] Philo calls the poor wretch Karabas. This is
probably only a corruption of the Hebrew name Barabbas, which means
“Son of the Father.” It was accordingly not the name of an individual,
but the regular appellation of whoever had at the Purim feast to
play the part of Mordecai, the Babylonian Marduk, that is, the new
year. This is in accordance with the original divine character of
the Jewish mock king. For as “sons” of the divine father all the
Gods of vegetation and fertility of Nearer Asia suffered death, and
the human representatives of these gods had to give their lives for
the welfare of their people and the renewed growth of nature. [85]
It thus appears that a kind of commingling of the Babylonian Feast of
the Sakaees and the Persian feast of “the Beardless One” took place
among the Jews, owing to their sojourn in Babylon under Persian
overlordship. The released criminal made his procession as Marduk
(Mordecai) the representative of the new life rising from the dead,
but it was made in the ridiculous role of the Persian “Beardless
One”–that is, the representative of the old year–while this latter
was likewise represented by another criminal, who, as Haman, had to
suffer death upon the gallows. In their account of the last events of
the life of the Messiah, Jesus, the custom at the Jewish Purim feast,
already referred to, passed through the minds of the Evangelists. They
described Jesus as the Haman, Barabbas as the Mordecai of the year,
and in so doing, on account of the symbol of the lamb of sacrifice,
they merged the Purim feast in the feast of Easter, celebrated a little
later. They, however, transferred the festive entry into Jerusalem of
“the Beardless One,” his hostile measures against the shopkeepers
and money-changers, and his being crowned in mockery as “King of
the Jews,” from Mordecai-Barabbas to Haman-Jesus, thus anticipating
symbolically the occurrences which should only have been completed
on the resurrection of the Marduk of the new year. [86] According
to an old reading of Math. xxvii. 18 et seq., which, however, has
disappeared from our texts since Origen, Barabbas, the criminal set
against the Saviour, is called “Jesus Barabbas”–that is, “Jesus,
the son of the Father.” [87] May an indication of the true state
of the facts not lie herein, and may the figure of Jesus Barabbas,
the God of the Year, corresponding to both halves of the year, that
of the sun’s course upwards and downwards, not have separated into
two distinct personalities on the occasion of the new year’s feast?

The Jewish Pasch was a feast of spring and the new year, on the
occasion of which the firstfruits of the harvest and the first-born of
men and beasts were offered to the God of sun and sky. Originally this
was also associated with human sacrifices. Here too such a sacrifice
passed, as was universal in antiquity, for a means of expiation,
atoning for the sins of the past year and ensuring the favour of Jahwe
for the new year. [88] “As representing all the souls of the first-born
are given to God; they are the means of union between Jahwe and his
people; the latter can only remain for ever Jahwe’s own provided a new
generation always offers its first-born in sacrifice to God. This was
the chief dogma of ancient Judaism; all the hopes of the people were
fixed thereon; the most far-reaching promises were grounded upon the
readiness to sacrifice the first-born.” [89] The more valuable such
a victim was, the higher the rank which he bore in life, so much the
more pleasing was his death to God. On this account they were “kings”
who, according to the Books of Joshua and Samuel, were “consecrated”
to the Lord. Indeed, in the case of the seven sons of the house of Saul
whom David caused to be hung, the connection between their death and
the Pasch is perfectly clear, when it is said that they died “before
the Lord” at the time of the barley harvest (i.e., of the Feast of the
Pasch). [90] Thus there could be no more efficacious sacrifice than
when a king or ruler offered his first-born. It was on this account
that, as Justin informs us, [91] the banished Carthaginian general
Maleus caused his son Cartalo, decked out as a king and priest, to be
hung in sight of Carthage while it was being besieged by him, thereby
casting down the besiegers so much that he captured the city after
a few days. It was on this account that the Carthaginian Hamilcar at
the siege of Agrigentum (407 B.C.) sacrificed his own son, and that
the Israelites relinquished the conquest of Moab, when the king of
this country offered his first-born to the Gods. [92] Here, too, the
human victim seems to have been only the representative of a divine
one, as when, for example, the Phoenicians in Tyre until the time of
the siege of that city by Alexander sacrificed each year, according
to Pliny, a boy to Kronos, i.e., Melkart or Moloch (king). [93] This
Tyrian Melkart, however, is the same as he to whom, as Porphyry states,
a criminal was annually sacrificed at Rhodes. According to Philo of
Byblos the God was called “Israel” among the Phoenicians, and on the
occasion of a great pestilence, in order to check the mortality, he
is said to have sacrificed his first-born son Jehud (Judah), i.e.,
“the Only one,” having first decked him out in regal attire. [94]
Thus Abraham also sacrificed his first-born to Jahwe. Abraham
(the “great father”) is, however, only another name for Israel,
“the mighty God.” This was the earliest designation of the God of
the Hebrews, until it was displaced by the name Jahwe, being only
employed henceforth as the name of the people belonging to him. The
name of his son Isaac (Jishak) marks the latter out as “the smiling
one.” This however, does not refer, as Goldzither [95] thinks, to
the smiling day or the morning light, but to the facial contortions
of the victim called forth by the pains he endured from the flames
in the embrace of the glowing oven. These contortions were anciently
called “sardonic laughter,” on account of the sacrifices to Moloch
in Crete and Sardinia. [96] When, as civilisation increased, human
sacrifices were done away with in Israel, and with the development
of monotheism the ancient Gods were transformed into men, the story
of Genesis xxii. came into existence with the object of justifying
“historically” the change from human to animal victims. The ancient
custom according to which amongst many peoples of antiquity, kings,
the sons of kings, and priests were not allowed to die a natural
death, but, after the expiration of a certain time usually fixed
by an oracle, had to suffer death as a sacrificial victim for the
good of their people, must accordingly have been in force originally
in Israel also. Thus did Moses and Aaron also offer themselves for
their people in their capacity of leader and high priest. [97] But
since both, and especially Moses, passed as types of the Messiah, the
opinion grew up quite naturally that the expected great and mighty
leader and high priest of Israel, in whom Moses should live again,
[98] had to suffer the holy death of Moses and Aaron as sacrificial
victims. [99] The view that the idea of a suffering and dying Messiah
was unknown to the Jews cannot accordingly be maintained. Indeed,
in Daniel ix. 26 mention is made of a dying Christ. We saw above
that among the Jews of the post-exilic period the thought of the
Messiah was associated with the personality of Cyrus. Now of Cyrus
the story goes that this mighty Persian king suffered death upon
the gibbet by the order of the Scythian queen Tomyris. [100] But in
Justin the Jew Trypho asserts that the Messiah will suffer and die
a death of violence. [101] Indeed, what is more, the Talmud looks
upon the death of the Messiah (with reference to Isaiah liii.) as
an expiatory death for the sins of his people. From this it appears
“that in the second century after Christ, people were, at any rate
in certain circles of Judaism, familiar with the idea of a suffering
Messiah, suffering too as an expiation for human sins.” [102]

The Rabbinists separate more accurately two conceptions of the
Messiah. According to one, in the character of a descendant of
David and a great and divine hero he was to release the Jews from
servitude, found the promised world-wide empire, and sit in judgment
over men. This is the Jewish conception of the Messiah, of which
King David was the ideal. [103] According to the other he was to
assemble the ten tribes in Galilee and lead them against Jerusalem,
only to be overthrown, however, in the battle against Gog and Magog
under the leadership of Armillus on account of Jeroboam’s sin–that
is, on account of the secession of the Israelites from the Jews. The
Talmud describes the last-mentioned Messiah, in distinction from the
first, as the son of Joseph or Ephraim. This is done with reference
to the fact that the kingdom of Israel included above all the tribes
of Ephraim and Manasseh, and that these traced back their origin
to the mythical Joseph. He is thus the Messiah of the Israelites
who had separated from the Jews, and especially, as it appears,
of the Samaritans. This Messiah, “the son of Joseph,” it is said,
“will offer himself in sacrifice and pour forth his soul in death,
and his blood will atone for the people of God.” He himself will
go to heaven. Then, however, the other Messiah, “the son of David,”
the Messiah of the Jews in a narrower sense, will come and fulfil the
promises made to them, in which connection Zech. xii. 10 sq. and xiv. 3
sq. seem to have influenced this whole doctrine. [104] According to
Dalman, [105] the figure of the Messiah ben Joseph first appeared
in the second or third century after Christ. Bousset too appears
to consider it a “later” tradition, although he cannot deny that the
Jewish Apocalypses of the end of the first thousand years after Christ,
which are the first to make extensive mention of the matter, may have
contained “very ancient” traditions. According to Persian beliefs,
too, Mithras was the suffering Redeemer and mediator between God and
the world, while Saoshyant, on the other hand, was the judge of the
world who would appear at the end of all time and obtain the victory
over Ariman (Armillus). In the same way the Greek myth distinguished
from the older Dionysus, Zagreus, the son of Persephone, who died a
cruel death at the hands of the Titans, a younger God of the same name,
son of Zeus and Semele, who was to deliver the world from the shackles
of darkness. Precisely the same relationship exists between Prometheus,
the suffering, and Heracles, the triumphant deliverer of the world. We
thus obviously have to do here with a very old and wide-spread myth,
and it is scarcely necessary to point out how closely the two figures
of the Samaritan and Jewish Messiahs correspond to the Haman and
Mardachai of the Jewish Purim feast, in order to prove the extreme
antiquity of this whole conception. The Gospel united into one the
two figures of the Messiah, which had been originally separate. From
the Messiah ben Joseph it made the human Messiah, born in Galilee,
and setting out from there with his followers for Jerusalem, there to
succumb to his adversaries. On the other hand, from the Messiah ben
David it made the Messiah of return and resurrection. At the same time
it elevated and deepened the whole idea of the Messiah in the highest
degree by commingling the conception of the self-sacrificing Messiah
with that of the Paschal victim, and this again with that of the God
who offers his own son in sacrifice. Along with the Jews it looked
upon Jesus as the “son” of King David, at the same time, however,
preserving a remembrance of the Israelite Messiah in that it also gave
him Joseph as father; and while it said with respect to the first idea
that he was born at Bethlehem, the city of David, it assigned him in
connection with the latter Nazareth of Galilee as his birthplace,
and invented the abstruse story of the journey of his parents to
Bethlehem in order to be perfectly impartial towards both views.

And now, who is this Joseph, as son of whom the Messiah was to be
a suffering and dying creature like any ordinary man? Winckler has
pointed out in his “Geschichte Israels” that under the figure of
the Joseph of the Old Testament, just as under that of Joshua, an
ancient Ephraimitic tribal God is concealed. Joseph is, as Winckler
expresses it, “the heroic offspring of Baal of Garizim, an offshoot
of the Sun-God, to whom at the same time characteristics of Tammuz,
the God of the Spring Sun, are transferred.” [106] Just as Tammuz had
to descend into the under-world, so was Joseph cast into the well,
in which, according to the “Testament of the twelve Patriarchs,”
[107] he spent three months and five days. This betokens the winter
months and five additional days during which the sun remains in the
under-world. And again he is cast into prison; and just as Tammuz,
after his return from the under-world, brings a new spring to the
earth, so does Joseph, after his release from confinement, introduce
a season of peace and happiness for Egypt. [108] On this account he
was called in Egypt Psontomphanech, that is, Deliverer of the World,
in view of his divine nature, and later passed among the Jews also as
a prototype of the Messiah. Indeed, it appears that the Evangelists
themselves regarded him in such a light, for the story of the two
fellow-prisoners of Joseph, the baker and cupbearer of Pharaoh, one
of whom, as Joseph foretold, was hanged, [109] while the other was
again received into favour by the king, was transformed by them into
the story of the two robbers who were executed at the same time as
Jesus, one of whom mocked the Saviour while the other besought him
to remember him when he entered into his heavenly kingdom. [110]

But the Ephraimitic Joshua too must have been a kind of Tammuz
or Adonis. His name (Joshua, Syrian, Jeshu) characterises him as
saviour and deliverer. As such he also appears in the Old Testament,
finally leading the people of Israel into the promised land after
long privations and sufferings. According to the Jewish Calendar
the commencement of his activity was upon the tenth of Nisan,
on which the Paschal lamb was chosen, and it ended with the Feast
of the Pasch. Moses introduced the custom of circumcision and the
redemption of the first-born male, and Joshua was supposed to have
revived it. [111] At the same time he is said to have replaced the
child victims, which it had been customary to offer to Jahwe in early
days, by the offering of the foreskin of the male and thereby to have
established a more humane form of sacrificial worship. This brings to
our mind the substitution of an animal victim for a human one in the
story of Isaac (Jishaks). It also brings to mind Jesus who offered his
own body in sacrifice at the Pasch as a substitute for the numberless
bloody sacrifices of expiation of prior generations. Again, according
to an ancient Arabian tradition, the mother of Joshua was called Mirzam
(Mariam, Maria), as the mother of Jesus was, while the mother of Adonis
bore the similar sounding name of Myrrha, which also expressed the
mourning of the women at the lament for Adonis [112] and characterised
the mother of the Redeemer God as “the mother of sorrow.” [113]

But what is above all decisive is that the son of the “Ploughman”
Jephunneh, Caleb (i.e., the Dog), stands by Joshua’s side as a hero of
equal rank. His name points in the same way to the time of the summer
solstice, when in the mouth of the “lion” the dog-star (Sirius) rises,
while his descent from Nun, the Fish or Aquarius, indicates Joshua
as representing the winter solstice. [114] Just as Joshua belonged to
the tribe of Ephraim, to which according to the Blessing of Jacob the
Fishes of the the Zodiac refer, [115] so Caleb belonged to the tribe
of Judah, which Jacob’s Blessing likened to a lion; [116] and while
the latter as Calub (Chelub) has Shuhah for brother, that is, the Sun
descending into the kingdom of shadows (the Southern Hemisphere),
[117] in like manner Joshua represents the Spring Sun rising out
of the night of winter. They are thus both related to one another
in the same way as the annual rise and decline of the sun, and as,
according to Babylonian ideas, are Tammuz and Nergal, who similarly
typify the two halves of the year. When Joshua dies at Timnath-heres,
the place of the eclipse of the Sun (i.e., at the time of the summer
solstice, at which the death of the Sun-God was celebrated [118]),
he appears again as a kind of Tammuz, while the “lamentation” of the
people at his death [119] alludes possibly to the lamentation at the
death of the Sun-God. [120]

It cannot be denied after all this that the conception of a suffering
and dying Messiah was of extreme antiquity amongst the Israelites
and was connected with the earliest nature-worship, although later it
may indeed have become restricted and peculiar to certain exclusive
circles. [121]

The Jewish representative of Haman suffered death at the Feast of
Purim on account of a crime, as a deserved punishment which had been
awarded him. The Messiah Jesus, on the other hand, according to the
words of Isaiah, took the punishment upon himself, being “just.” He
was capable of being an expiatory victim for the sins of the whole
people, precisely because he least of all deserved such a fate.

Plato had already in his “Republic” sketched the picture of a “just
man” passing his life unknown and unhonoured amidst suffering and
persecution. His righteousness is put to the proof and he reaches
the highest degree of virtue, not allowing himself to be shaken in
his conduct. “The just man is scourged, racked, thrown into prison,
blinded in both eyes, and finally, when he has endured all ills,
he is executed, and he recognises that one should be determined not
to be just but to appear so.” In Pharisaic circles he passed as a
just man who by his own undeserved sufferings made recompense for
the sins of the others and made matters right for them before God,
as, for example, in the Fourth Book of the Maccabees the blood of
the martyrs is represented as the expiatory offering on account of
which God delivered Israel. The hatred of the unjust and godless
towards the just, the reward of the just and the punishment of the
unjust, were favourite themes for aphoristic literature, and they
were fully dealt with in the Book of Wisdom, the Alexandrian author
of which was presumably not unacquainted with the Platonic picture
of the just man. He makes the godless appear conversing and weaving
plots against the just. “Let us then,” he makes them say, “lie in
wait for the righteous; because he is not to our liking and he is
clean contrary to our doings; he upbraideth us with our offending
the law and reproacheth us with our sins against our training. He
professeth to have the knowledge of God; and he calleth himself
the child of the Lord. He proved to be to us for the reproof of our
designs. He is grievous unto us even to behold: for his life is not
like other men’s, his ways are of another fashion. We are esteemed
of him as counterfeits; he abstaineth from our ways as from filth;
he pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed and maketh his boast
that God is his father. Let us see if his words be true: and let us
prove what will happen in the end of him. For if the just man be the
son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his
enemies. Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture that we
may know his meekness and prove his patience. Let us condemn him with
a shameful death: thus will he be known by his words.” [122] “But
the souls of the just,” continues the author of the Book of Wisdom,
“are in the hands of God, and there shall no torment touch them. In
the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is
taken for misery, and their going from us for utter destruction:
but they are in peace. For though they be punished in the sight of
men yet is their hopes full of immortality. And having been a little
chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them and
found them worthy for himself. As gold in the furnace hath he tried
them, and received them as a burnt offering. And in the time of their
visitation they shall shine and run to and fro like sparks among
the stubble. They shall judge the nations and have dominion over the
people and their Lord will rule for ever.” [123] It could easily be
imagined that these words, which were understood by the author of the
Book of Wisdom of the just man in general, referred to the just man
par excellence, the Messiah, the “son” of God in the highest sense
of the word, who gave his life for the sins of his people. A reason
was found at the same time for the shameful death of the Messiah. He
died the object of the hatred of the unjust; he accepted contempt and
scorn as did the Haman and Barabbas of the Feast of Purim, but only
in order that by this deep debasement he might be raised up by God,
as is said of the just man in the Book of Wisdom: “That is he whom we
had sometimes in derision and a proverb of reproach: We fools accounted
his life madness and his end to be without honour: Now is he numbered
among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints.” [124]

Now we understand how the picture of the Messiah varied among the
Jews between that of a divine and that of a human being; how he was
“accounted just among the evil-doers”; how the idea became associated
with a human being that he was a “Son of God” and at the same time
“King of the Jews”; and how the idea could arise that in his shameful
and undeserved death God had offered himself for mankind. Now too we
can understand that he who died had after a short while to rise again
from the dead, and this in order to ascend into heaven in splendour
and glory and to unite himself with God the Father above. These were
ideas which long before the Jesus of the Gospels were spread among the
Jewish people, and indeed throughout the whole of Western Asia. In
certain sects they were cherished as secret doctrines, and were the
principal cause that precisely in this portion of the ancient world
Christianity spread so early and with such unusual rapidity.



It is not only the idea of the just man suffering, of the Messiah dying
upon the gibbet, as “King of the Jews” and a criminal, and his rising
again, which belongs to the centuries before Christ. The stories which
relate to the miraculous birth of Jesus and to his early fortunes
also date back to this time. Thus in the Revelation of John [125]
we meet with the obviously very ancient mythical idea of the birth of
a divine child, who is scarcely brought into the world before he is
threatened by the Dragon of Darkness, but is withdrawn in time into
heaven from his pursuer; whereupon the Archangel Michael renders the
monster harmless. Gunkel thinks that this conception must be traced
back to a very ancient Babylonian myth. [126] Others, as Dupuis [127]
and Dieterich, have drawn attention to its resemblance to the Greek
myth of Leto, [128] who, before the birth of the Light god Apollo,
being pursued by the Earth dragon Pytho, was carried by the Wind god
Boreas to Poseidon, and was brought safely by the latter to the Island
of Ortygia, where she was able to bring forth her son unmolested by
the hostile monster. Others again, like Bousset, have compared the
Egyptian myth of Hathor, according to which Hathor or Isis sent her
young son, the Light god Horus, fleeing out of Egypt upon an ass before
the pursuit of his uncle Seth or Typhon. Pompeian frescoes represent
this incident in such a manner as to recall feature for feature the
Christian representations of the flight of Mary with the Child Jesus
into Egypt; and coins with the picture of the fleeing Leto prove how
diffused over the whole of Nearer Asia this myth must have been. The
Assyrian prince Sargon also, being pursued by his uncle, is said
to have been abandoned on the Euphrates in a basket made of reeds,
to have been found by a water-carrier, and to have been brought up
by him–a story which the Jews have interwoven into the account of
the life of their fabulous Moses. [129] And very similar stories are
related both in East and West, in ancient and in later times, of other
Gods, distinguished heroes and kings, sons of the Gods, of Zeus, Attis,
Dionysus, OEdipus, Perseus, Romulus and Remus, Augustus, and others. As
is well known, the Indian God-man Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu,
is supposed to have been sought for immediately after his birth by his
uncle, King Kansa, who had all the male children of the same age in
his country put to death, the child being only saved from a like fate
by taking refuge with a poor herdsman. [130] This recalls Herodotus’s
story of Cyrus, [131] according to which Astyages, the grandfather of
Cyrus, being warned by a dream, ordered his grandson to be exposed,
the latter being saved from death, however, through being found by
a poor herdsmen and being brought up in his house. Now in Persian
the word for son is Cyrus (Khoro, [132] Greek Kyros), and Kyris or
Kiris is the name of Adonis in Cyprus. [133] Thus it appears that the
story of the birth of Cyrus came into existence through the transfer
to King Cyrus of one of the myths concerning the Sun-God, the God in
this way being confused with a human individual. Now since Cyrus, as
has been said, was in the eyes of the Jews a kind of Messiah and was
glorified by them as such, we can understand how the danger through
which the Messianic child is supposed to have passed found a place
in the Gospels. Again, a similar story of a king, who, having been
warned by a dream or oracle, orders the death of the children born
within a specified time, is found in the “Antiquities” of Josephus
[134] in connection with the story of the childhood of Moses. Moses,
however, passed like Cyrus for a kind of forerunner and anticipator
of Christ; and Christ was regarded as a Moses reappearing. [135] Again
Joab, David’s general, is said to have slaughtered every male in Edom;
the young prince Hadad, however, escaped the massacre by fleeing into
Egypt. Here he grew up and married the sister of the king, and after
the death of his enemy King David he returned to his home. [136]
But Hadad is, like Cyrus, (Kyrus) a name of the Syrian Adonis.

Another name of Adonis or Tammuz is Dod, Dodo, Daud, or David. This
signifies “the Beloved” and indicates “the beloved son” of the heavenly
father, who offers himself for mankind, or “the Beloved” of the Queen
of heaven (Atargatis, Mylitta, Istar). [137] As is well known, King
David was also called “the man after the heart of God,” and there is
no doubt that characteristics of the divine Redeemer and Saviour of
the same name have been intermingled in the story of David in the same
way as in that of Cyrus. [138] According to Jeremiah xxx. 8 and Ezekiel
xxxiv. 22 sqq. and xxxvii. 21, it was David himself who would appear as
the Messiah and re-establish Israel in its ancient glory. Indeed, this
even appears to have been the original conception of the Messiah. The
Messiah David seems to have been changed into a descendant of David
only with the progress of the monotheistic conception of God, under
the influence of the Persian doctrine concerning Saoshyant, the man
“of the seed of Zarathustra.” Now David was supposed to have been
born at Bethlehem. But in Bethlehem there was, as Jerome informs us,
[139] an ancient grove and sanctuary of the Syrian Adonis, and as
Jerome himself complains the very place where the Saviour first saw the
light resounded with the lamentations over Tammuz. [140] At Bethlehem,
the former Ephrata (i.e., Place of Ashes), Rachel is said to have
brought forth the youngest of the twelve month-sons of Jacob. She
herself had christened him Benoni, son of the woeful lament. He was,
however, usually called Benjamin, the Lord or Possessor of light. In
the Blessing of Moses he is also called “a Darling of the Lord,” and
his father Jacob loved him especially. [141] He is the God of the
new year born of the ashes of the past, at whose appearance lament
and rejoicings are commingled one with another; and thus he is only
a form of Tammuz (Hadad) bringing to mind the Christian Redeemer in
that he presided over the month of the Ram. [142]

Now we understand the prophecy of the prophet Micah: “Thou Bethlehem
Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah,
out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be a ruler in
Israel, whose going forth is from of old, from everlasting.” [143]
Now, too, the story of the slaughter of the children at Bethlehem
has its background in religious history. It is said in Matt. ii. 18,
with reference to Jer. xxxi. 15, “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping
and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and she would
not be comforted, because they are not.” It is the lamentation of
the women over the murdered Adonis which was raised each year at
Bethlehem. This was transformed by the Evangelists into the lament
over the murder of the children which took place at the birth of
Hadad who was honoured at Bethlehem. [144]

Hadad-Adonis is a God of Vegetation, a God of the rising sap of
life and of fruitfulness: but, as was the case with all Gods of a
similar nature, the thought of the fate of the sun, dying in winter
and being born anew in the spring, played its part in the conception
of this season God of Nearer Asia. Something of this kind may well
have passed before the mind of Isaiah, when he foretold the future
glory of the people of God under the image of a new birth of the sun
from out of the blackness of night, with these “prophetic” words:
“Arise, shine, for thy light has come and the glory of the Lord is
risen upon thee. For behold darkness shall cover the earth and gross
darkness the peoples: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his
glory shall be seen upon thee. And nations shall come to thy light,
and kings to the brightness of thy rising…. The abundance of the
sea shall be turned unto thee, the wealth of the nations shall come
unto thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of
Midian and Ephah. They all shall come from Sheba: they shall bring gold
and frankincence, and shall proclaim the praises of the Lord.” [145]

As is well known, later generations were continually setting out
this idea in a still more exuberant form. The imagination of the
enslaved and impoverished Jews feasted upon the thought that the
nations and their princes would do homage to the Messiah with gifts,
while uncounted treasures poured into the temple at Jerusalem: “Princes
shall come out of Egypt, Ethiopia shall haste to stretch out her hands
unto God. Sing unto God ye kingdoms of the earth.” [146] This is the
foundation of the Gospel story of the “Magi,” who lay their treasures
at the feet of the new-born Christ and his “virgin mother.” But that we
have here in reality to do with the new birth of the sun at the time
of the winter solstice appears from the connection between the Magi,
or kings, and the stars. For these Magi are nothing else than the
three stars in the sword-belt of Orion, which at the winter solstice
are opposed in the West to the constellation of the Virgin in the East;
stars which according to Persian ideas at this time seek the son of the
Queen of Heaven–that is, the lately rejuvenated sun, Mithras. [147]
Now, as it has been said, Hadad also is a name of the Sun-God, and the
Hadad of the Old Testament returns to his original home out of Egypt,
whither he had fled from David. Thus we can understand how Hosea xi. 1,
“I called my son out of Egypt,” could be referred to the Messiah and
how the story that Jesus passed his early youth in Egypt was derived
from it. [148]

It may be fairly asked how it was that the sun came to be thus
honoured by the people of Western Asia, with lament at its death
and rejoicing at its new birth. For winter, the time of the sun’s
“death,” in these southern countries offered scarcely any grounds
at all for lament. It was precisely the best part of the year. The
night, too, having regard to its coolness after the heat of the day,
gave no occasion for desiring the new birth of the sun in the morning.

We are compelled to suppose that in the case of all the Gods of this
nature the idea of the dying away of vegetation during the heat of
the year and its revival had become intertwined and commingled with
that of the declining and reviving strength of the sun. Thus, from
this mingling of two distinct lines of thought, we have to explain
the variations of the double-natured character of the Sun-Gods and
Vegetation-Gods of Western Asia. [149] It is obvious, however, that the
sun can only be regarded from such a tragic standpoint in a land where,
and in the myths of a people for whom, it possesses in reality such a
decisive significance that there are grounds for lamenting its absence
or lack of strength during winter and for an anxious expectation of
its return and revival. [150] But it is chiefly in the highlands of
Iran and the mountainous hinterland of Asia Minor that this is the
case to such an extent as to make this idea one of the central points
of religious belief. Even here it points back to a past time when
the people concerned still had their dwelling-place along with the
kindred Aryan tribes in a much more northerly locality. [151] Thus
Mithras, the “Sol invictus” of the Romans, struggling victoriously
through night and darkness, is a Sun hero, who must have found his
way into Persia from the north. This is shown, amongst other things,
by his birthday being celebrated on the 25th of December, the day of
the winter solstice. Again, the birth of the infant Dionysus, who
was so closely related to the season Gods of Nearer Asia, used to
be celebrated as the feast of the new birth of the sun at about the
same time, the God being then honoured as Liknites, as “the infant
in the cradle” (the winnowing-fan). The Egyptians celebrated the
birth of Osiris on the 6th of January, on which occasion the priests
produced the figure of an infant from the sanctuary, and showed it to
the people as a picture of the new-born God. [152] That the Phrygian
Attis came thither with the Aryans who made their way from Thrace into
Asia Minor, and must have had his home originally in Northern Europe,
appears at once from the striking resemblance of the myth concerning
him with that of the northern myth of Balder. There can be no doubt
that the story in Herodotus of Atys, son of Croesus, who while out
boar hunting accidently met his death from the spear of his friend,
only gives another version of the Attis myth. This story, however,
so closely resembles that of the death of Balder, given in the Edda,
that the theory of a connection between them is inevitably forced
upon one’s mind. In the Edda the wife of Balder is called Nanna. But
Nanna (i.e., “mother”) was according to Arnobius [153] the name of
the mother of the Phrygian Attis.

Now the Sun and Summer God Balder is only a form of Odin, the Father
of Heaven, with summer attributes, and he too is said, like Attis,
Adonis and Osiris, to have met his death through a wild boar. Just as
anemones sprang from the blood of the slain Adonis and violets from
that of Attis, so also the blood of the murdered Odin (Hackelbernd)
is said to have been changed into spring flowers. [154] At the great
feast of Attis in March a post or pine-tree trunk decked with violets,
on which the picture of the God was hung, used to form the central
point of the rite. This was a reminder of the way in which in ancient
times the human representative of the God passed from life to death,
in order by sacrifice to revive exhausted nature. According to the
verses of the Eddic Havamal, Odin says of himself:–

“I know that I hang on the wind-rocked tree
Throughout nine nights,
Wounded by the spear, dedicated to Odin,
I myself to myself.” [155]

By this self-sacrifice and the agonies which he endured, the northern
God, too, obtained new strength and life. For on this occasion he not
only discovered the Runes of magic power, the knowledge of which made
him lord over nature, but he obtained possession at the same time of
the poetic mead which gave him immortality and raised the Nature God
to be a God of spiritual creative power and of civilisation. This is
obviously the same idea as is again found in the cult of Attis and
in the belief in the death of the God. The relationship of all these
different views seems still more probable in that a sacrificial rite
lay at the root of the Balder myth also. This myth is only, so to
speak, the text of a religious drama which was performed every year
for the benefit of dying nature–a drama in which a man representing
the God was delivered over to death. [156] As all this refers to the
fate of a Sun God, who dies in winter to rise again in the spring,
the same idea must have been associated originally with the worship
of the Nearer Asiatic Gods of vegetation and fruitfulness, and this
idea was only altered under changed climatic conditions into that
of the death and resurrection of the plant world, without, however,
losing in its new form its original connection with the sun and winter.

At the same time the myth of the Sun God does not take us to the
very basis and the real kernel of the stories of the divine child’s
birth. The Persian religion was not so much a religion of Light
and Sun as of Fire, the most important and remarkable manifestation
of which was of course the sun. Dionysus too, like all Gods of the
life-warmth, of the rising plant sap and of fruitfulness, was in his
deepest nature a Fire God. In the Fire Religion, however, the birth
of the God forms the centre of all religious ideas; and its form was
more exactly fixed through the peculiar acts by means of which the
priest rekindled the holy fire.

For the manner in which this occurred we have the oldest authentic
testimony in the religious records of the Indian Aryans. Here Agni,
as indeed his name (ignis, fire) betokens, passed for the divine
representative of the Fire Element. His mystic birth was sung in
numberless passages in the hymns of the Rigveda. At dawn, as soon as
the brightening morning star in the east announced that the sun was
rising, the priest called his assistants together and kindled the fire
upon a mound of earth by rubbing together two sticks (arani) in which
the God was supposed to be hidden. As soon as the spark shone in the
“maternal bosom,” the soft underpart of the wood, it was treated as an
“infant child.” It was carefully placed upon a little heap of straw,
which at once took fire from it. On one side lay the mystic “cow”–that
is, the milk-pail and a vessel full of butter, as types of all animal
nourishment–upon the other the holy Soma draught, representing the
sap of plants, the symbol of life. A priest fanned it with a small
fan shaped like a banner, thereby stirring up the fire. The “child”
was then raised upon the altar. The priests turned up the fire with
long-handled spoons, pouring upon the flames melted butter (ghrita)
together with the Soma cup. From this time “Agni” was called “the
anointed” (Akta). The fire flickered high. The God was unfolding
his majesty. With his flames he scared away the daemons of darkness,
and lighted up the surrounding shadows. All creatures were invited to
come and gaze upon the wonderful spectacle. Then with presents the
Gods (kings) hastened from heaven and the herdsmen from the fields,
cast themselves down in deep reverence before the new-born, praying
to it and singing hymns in its praise. It grew visibly before their
eyes. The new-born Agni already had become “the teacher” of all living
creatures, “the wisest of the wise,” opening to mankind the secrets
of existence. Then, while everything around him grew bright and the
sun rose over the horizon, the God, wreathed in a cloud of smoke,
with the noise of darting flames, ascended to heaven, and was united
there with the heavenly light. [157]

Thus in ancient India the holy fire was kindled anew each morning,
and honoured with ritualistic observances (Agnihotra). This took
place, however, with special ceremony at the time of the winter
solstice, when the days began again to increase (Agnistoma). They
then celebrated the end of the time “of darkness,” the Pitryana, or
time of the Manes, during which the worship of the Gods had been at a
standstill. Then the Angiras, the priestly singers, summoned the Gods
to be present, greeting with loud song the beginning of the “holy”
season, the Devayana, with which the new light arose. Agni and the
other Gods again returned to men, and the priests announced to the
people the “joyful tidings” (Evangelium) that the Light God had been
born again. As Hillebrand has shown, this festival also indicates
the memory of an earlier home in the North whence the Aryan tribes
had migrated, since in India, where the shortest and longest days
only differ by about four hours, no reason exists for celebrating
the “return” of the light. [158] Indeed, it appears that we have to
do here with a rite which reaches back into the very origins of all
human civilisation, and preserves the memory of the discovery of fire
in the midst of the horrors of the Stone Age.

There is no doubt that we have before us in the Vedic Agni Cult the
original source of all the stories of the birth of the Fire-Gods
and Sun-Gods. These Gods usually enter life in darkness and
concealment. Thus the Cretan Zeus was born in a cavern, Mithras,
Dionysus, and Hermes in a gloomy grotto, Horus in the “stable”
(temple) of the holy cow (Isis)–Jesus, too, was born at dead of
night in a lowly “stable” [159] at Bethlehem. The original ground
for this consists in the fact that Agni, in the form of a spark,
comes into existence in the dark hollow of the hole bored in the
stick. The Hymns of the Rigveda often speak of this “secret birth”
and of the “concealment” of Agni. They describe the Gods as they set
out in order to seek the infant. They make the Angiras discover it
“lying in concealment,” and it grows up in hiding. [160] But the idea
of the Fire-God being born in a “stable” is also foreshadowed in the
Rigveda. For not only are the vessels of milk and butter ready for
the anointing compared with cows, but Ushas, too, the Goddess of Dawn,
who is present at the birth, is called a red milch-cow, and of men it
is said that they flocked “like cows to a warm stable” to see Agni,
whom his mother held lovingly upon her lap. [161]

It is a common fundamental feature of all Nature religions that they
distinguish between the particular and the general, between earthly
and heavenly events, between human acts and natural occurrences as
little as they do between the spiritual and natural. The Agni Cult
shows, as does the Vedic religion in general, this interplay of the
earthly and heavenly world, of the microcosmic individual and the
macrocosm. The kindling of the fire upon the earth at the same time
betokened the rising of the great light of the skies, the sun. The fire
upon the altar did not merely represent but actually was the sun, the
earthly and the heavenly Agni were one. Thus it was that the nations
of antiquity were able to think of transferring earthly events into
heaven, and conversely were able to read earthly events in heavenly
occurrences such as the relations of the stars to one another. It was
on this that astrology rested. Even the ancient Fire Worship appears
in very early times to have been transformed into astrology, and what
was in the beginning a simple act of worship was generalised by the
priests in a macrocosmic sense and was transferred to the starry
heavens as a forecast. Thus the altar or place of sacrifice upon
which the sacred fire was kindled was enlarged into the Vault of the
Spheres or Grotto of the Planets. Through this the sun completed its
annual journey among the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and in so doing
assumed successively the form and fulfilled the functions of that
constellation with which it entered into astronomical relations. The
metaphorical name of “stable” for the place of sacrifice attains a
new significance from the fact that the sun during a certain epoch of
the world (something between 3000 and 800 B.C.) at the beginning of
spring passed through the constellation of the Bull, and at the time
of the winter solstice commenced its course between the Ox (Bull)
and the Great Bear, which anciently was also called the Ass. [162]
The birth of the God is said to have been in secret because it took
place at night. His mother is a “virgin” since at midnight of the
winter solstice the constellation of the Virgin is on the eastern
horizon. [163] Shortly afterwards Draco, the Dragon (the snake Pytho),
rises up over Libra, the Balance, and seems to pursue the Virgin. From
this comes the story of the Winter Dragon threatening Leto, or Apollo;
or, as it is also found in the Myth of Osiris and the Apocalypse of
John, the story of the pursuit of the child of light by a hostile
principle (Astyages, Herod, &c.). [164] Unknown and in concealment
the child grows up. This refers to the course of the sun as it yet
stands low in the heavens. Or like Sargon, Dionysus, or Moses it is
cast in a basket upon the waters of some great stream or of the sea,
since the sun in its wanderings through the Zodiac has next to pass
through the so-called watery region, the signs of the Water-carrier
and the Fishes, the rainy season of winter. Thus can the fate of the
new-born be read in the sky. The priests (Magi) cast his horoscope like
that of any other child. They greet his birth with loud rejoicings,
bring him myrrh, incense and costly presents, while prophesying
for him a glorious future. The earthly Agni is completely absorbed
in the heavenly one; and in the study of the great events which are
portrayed in the sky, the simple act of sacrificial worship, which had
originally furnished the opportunity for this whole range of ideas,
gradually fell into oblivion. [165]

It has been often maintained that Indian influences have worked
upon the development of the story of the childhood of Jesus, and in
this connection we are accustomed to think of Buddhism. Now, as a
matter of fact, the resemblances between the Christian and Buddhist
legends are so close that we can scarcely imagine it to be a mere
coincidence. Jesus and Buddha are both said to have been born of a
“pure virgin,” honoured by heavenly spirits at their birth, prayed
to by kings and loaded with presents. “Happy is the whole world,”
sing the Gods under the form of young Brahmins at the birth of the
child–as we are told in the Lalita Vistara, the legendary biography
of Buddha, dating from before Christ, “for he is indeed born who
brings salvation and will establish the world in blessedness. He
is born who will darken sun and moon by the splendour of his merits
and will put all darkness to flight. The blind see, the deaf hear,
the demented are restored to reason. No natural crimes afflict us any
longer, for upon the earth men have become righteous. Gods and men
can in future approach each other without hostility, since he will
be the guide of their pilgrimage.” [166] Just as the significance of
Jesus was announced beforehand by Simeon, in the same way according
to the Buddhist legend, the Seer Asita foresees in his own mind the
greatness of the child and bursts into tears since he will not see him
in the splendour of his maturity and will have no part in his work
of redemption. Again, just as Jesus [167] even in his early youth
astonished the learned by his wisdom, so Prince Siddharta (Buddha)
put all his teachers at school to shame by his superior knowledge, and
so on. The Buddhist legend itself, however, goes back to a still older
form, which is the Vedic Agni Cult. All its various features are here
preserved in their simplest form and in their original relation to the
sacrificial worship of the Fire-God. This was the natural source of the
Indian and Christian legends, and it was the original of those myths
which the Evangelist worked up for his own purposes, which according
to Pfleiderer belonged “to the common tribal property of the national
sagas of Nearer Asia.” [168] Again, it could the more easily reappear
in the Evangelists’ version of the story of the childhood of Jesus,
since the sacrificial act had been re-interpreted mythologically,
and the corresponding myths transformed into astrology, and, as it
were, written with starry letters upon the sky, where they could be
read without trouble by the most distant peoples of antiquity.

The myth of Krishna offers a characteristic example of the manner in
which in India a sacrificial cult is changed into a myth. Like Astyages
and Herod, in order to ward off the danger arising from his sister’s
son, of which he had been warned by an oracle, King Kansa caused his
sister and her husband Vasudewa to be cast into prison. Here, in the
darkness of a dungeon, Krishna comes into the world as Jesus did in
the stable at Bethlehem. The nearer the hour of birth approaches the
more beautiful the mother becomes. Soon the whole dungeon is filled
with light. Rejoicing choirs sound in the air, the waters of the
rivers and brooks make sweet music. The Gods come down from heaven
and blessed spirits dance and sing for joy. At midnight his mother
Dewaki (i.e., the divine) brings the child into the world, at the
commencement of a new epoch. The parents themselves fall down before
him and pray, but a voice from heaven admonishes them to convey him
from the machinations of the tyrant to Gokala, the land of the cow,
and to exchange him for the daughter of the herdsman Nanda. Immediately
the chains fall from the father’s hands, the dungeon doors are opened,
and he passes out into freedom. Another Christopher, he bears the
child upon his shoulders through the river Yamuna, the waters of which
recede in reverence before the son of God, and he exchanges Krishna
for the new-born daughter of Nanda. He then returns to the dungeon,
where the chains again immediately fasten of their own accord upon
his limbs. Kansa now makes his way into the dungeon. In vain Dewaki
entreats her brother to leave her the child. He is on the point of
tearing it forcibly from her hands when it disappears before his eyes,
and Kansa gives the order that all newly-born children in his country
under the age of two years shall be killed.

At Mathura in Gokala Krishna grew up unknown among poor herdsmen. While
yet in his cradle he had betrayed his divine origin by strangling,
like Hercules, a dreadful snake which crawled upon him. He causes
astonishment to every one by his precosity and lofty wisdom. As he
grows up he becomes the darling of the herdsmen and playmate of Gopias,
the milkmaid; he performs the most astonishing miracles. When, however,
the time had come he arose and slew Kansa. He then fought the frightful
“Time Snake” Kaliyanaga, of the thousand heads (the Hydra in the
myth of Hercules, the Python in that of Apollo), which poisoned the
surrounding air with its pestilential breath; and he busied himself
in word and deed as a protector of the poor and proclaimer of the
most perfect teaching. His greatest act, however, was his descent
into the Underworld. Here he overpowered Yama, the dark God of death,
obtained from him a recognition of his divine power, and led back the
dead with him to a new life. Thus he was a benefactor of mankind by
his heroic strength and miraculous power, leading the purest life,
healing the sick, bringing the dead back to life, disclosing the
secrets of the world, and withal humbly condescending to wash the
feet of the Brahmins. Krishna finally died of an arrow wound which he
sustained accidentally and in an unforeseen manner on his heel–the
only vulnerable part of his body (cf. Achilles, Balder, Adonis, and
Osiris). While dying he delivered the prophecy that thirty-six years
after his death the fourth Epoch of the World, Caliyuga, the Iron
Age, would begin, in which men would be both unhappy and wicked. But
according to Brahmin teaching Krishna will return at the end of all
time, when bodily and moral need will have reached its highest pitch
upon the earth. In the clouds of heaven he will appear upon his white
steed. With a comet in his right hand as a sword of flame he will
destroy the old earth by fire, founding a new earth and a new heaven,
and establishing a golden age of purity and perfection in which there
will be nothing but pure joy and blessedness.

This reminds us strongly of the Persian Eschatology, of Mithras and
Saoshyant, and of the Jewish Apocalyptics. But following the ancient
sacred poem, the Barta Chastram, the former conception as well as the
doctrine of a Messiah rest upon a prophecy according to which Vishnu
Jesudu (!) was to be born a Brahmin in the city of Skambelam. He was
to hold intercourse with men as a God, to purify the earth from sin,
making it the abode of justice and truth, and to offer a sacrifice
(self-sacrifice?). But still more striking are the resemblances of
the Krishna myth with the Gospels. Does any connection between the two
exist? The question is hard to answer because, owing to the uncertainty
in all Indian citation of dates, the age of the story of Krishna cannot
be settled. In the oldest Indian literature, the Vedas, Krishna appears
to be the name of a Daemon. In the Mahabbharata, the great Indian heroic
epic, he plays indeed a prominent part, and is here on the point of
assuming the place of the God Indra. The age of the poem, however, is
debatable, although it is probably of pre-Buddhist origin. The chief
source of the Krishna myth is the Puranas, especially the Bhagavat
Purana and Vishnu Parana. But since the antiquity of these also is
uncertain, and their most modern portions presumably belong only to
the eighth or ninth century of the Christian era, a decision as to
the date of the appearance of the Krishna myth can only be arrived
at from internal evidence.

Now the Pantanjalis Mahabhashya, i.e., “Great Commentary,” of the
second century before Christ, shows that the story of Kansa’s death
at the hands of Krishna was at that time well known in India, and was
even the subject of a religious drama. Thus the story of the birth at
least of Krishna, who had already been raised to be a Cult God of the
Hindoos, cannot have been unknown. The other portions of the myth,
however, belong as a whole to the general circle of Indian ideas,
and are in part only transferred from other Gods to Krishna. Thus,
for example, the miraculous birth of the divine child in the darkness,
his precosity, his upbringing among the herdsmen, and his friendship
with Gopias, remind us of Agni, the God of Fire and Herdsmen, who also
is described in the Rigveda as a “friend and lover of the maidens”
(of the Cloud Women?). His combat with the Time Snake, on the other
hand, is copied from the fight of Indra with the wicked dragon Vritra
or Ahi. Again, in his capacity as purifier and deliverer of the world
from evil and daemons the God bears such a striking resemblance to
Hercules, that Megasthenes, the ambassador of Seleucus at the court
of the king at Pataliputra, in the third century before Christ, simply
identified him with the latter. No impartial critic of the matter can
now doubt that the Krishna myth was in existence and was popularised
long before Christianity appeared in the world. The great importance,
however, which the God possesses in present-day India may have been
attained only during the Christian era, and the Puranas may have
been composed only after the appearance of the Gospels; for their
being written down later proves nothing against the antiquity of the
matter they contain. It appears that even Buddhism did not obtain its
corresponding legends direct from the Vedas, but through the channel
of the Krishna myth. Since, however, Buddhism is certainly at least
four hundred years older than Christianity, it must be assumed that
it was the former which introduced the Krishna myth to Christianity,
and not vice versa, if we are not to consider the Babylonian-Mandaic
religion as the intermediary between Krishna and Christ. [169]

For the rest the supposition of Indian influences in the Gospel
story is not by any means an improbable one. It is pure theological
prejudice, resting upon a complete ignorance of the conditions of
national intercourse in ancient times, when it is denied, as, for
example, by Clemen in his “Religionsgeschichtlichen Erklaerung des
Neuen Testaments” (1909), that the Gospels were influenced by Indian
ideas, or when only a dependence the other way about is allowed;
[170] and this although Buddha left to his disciples, as one of
the highest precepts, the practice of missionary activity, and
although as early as 400 B.C. mention is made in Indian sources of
Buddhist missionaries in Bactria. Two hundred years later we read of
Buddhist monasteries in Persia. Indeed, in the last century before the
Christian era the Buddhist mission in Persia had made such progress
that Alexander Polyhistor actually speaks of a period during which
Buddhism flourished in that country, and bears witness to the spread
of the Mendicant Orders in the western parts of Persia. Buddhism
also reached Syria and Egypt at that time with the trade caravans;
as we have to suppose a frequent exchange of wares and ideas between
India and the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, especially
after the campaigns of Alexander. Communication took place, not only
overland by way of Persia, but by sea as well. Indian thought made
advances in the Near East, where Alexandria, the London and Antwerp
of antiquity, and a headquarters of Jewish syncretism, favoured the
exchange of ideas. With the rediscovery of the South-west Monsoon
at the beginning of the first century after Christ the intercourse
by sea between India and the Western world assumed still greater
dimensions. Thus Pliny speaks of great trading fleets setting out
annually for India and of numerous Indian merchants who had their
fixed abode in Alexandria. Indian embassies came to Rome as early as
the reign of Augustus. The renown of Indian piety caused the author
of the Peregrinus Proteus to choose the Indian Calanus as an example
of holiness. Indeed, so lively was the Western world’s interest
in the intellectual life of India, that the library at Alexandria,
as early as the time of the geographer Eratosthenes under Ptolemy
Euergetes (246 B.C.), was administered with special regard to Indian
studies. The monastic organisation of the Essenes in Palestine also
very probably points to Buddhist influence. Again, although the
Rigveda, which contains the groundwork of all Indian religions, may
have been unknown in Nearer Asia, yet the Fire Worship of the Mazda
religion at any rate reaches back to the time before the division
between the Indian and Persian Aryans. Certain fundamental ideas,
therefore, of the Fire Religion may through Persian influences on
Nearer Asia have been known to the surrounding peoples. [171]

As a matter of fact, the Mandaic religion contains much that is
Indian. This is the less strange considering that the headquarters
and centre of Mandaism was in Southern Babylonia; and the ancient
settlements of the Mandaei, close to the Persian Gulf, were easily
reached by sea from India. Moreover, from ancient times Babylonian
trade went down to India and Ceylon. [172] Consequently it is by no
means improbable that the many remarkable resemblances between the
Babylonian and Indian religions rest upon mutual influences. Indeed,
in one case the borrowing of a Mandaic idea from India can be looked
upon as quite certain. The Lalita Vistara begins with a description
of Buddha’s ante-natal life in heaven. He teaches the Gods the “law,”
the eternal truth of salvation, and announces to them his intention
of descending into the bosom of an earthly woman in order to bring
redemption to mankind. In vain the Gods endeavour to hold him back
and cling weeping to his feet: “Noble man, if thou remainest here
no longer, this abode of heaven will be bright no more.” He leaves
them, however, a successor, and consecrates him solemnly to be the
possessor of the future dignity of Buddha: “Noble man, thou art
he who will be endowed after me with the perfect intelligence of a
Buddha.” [173] “Man” (Purusha) is thus here the usual name for the
divine nature of Buddha destined for individual incarnations. It is
also called the “great man” (Mahapurusha) or the “victorious lord”
(Cakravartin). Here we have the original of the Mandaic “son of man,”
whom we meet with in the Jewish Apocalyptics (Daniel, Enoch, Ezra),
a figure which plays so great a part in the primitive Gospel records
of Christianity, and has called forth so many explanations. And
the Elcesaitic Gnostics teach a like doctrine when they imagine the
“son of man,” or Christ, as a heavenly spirit and king of the world to
come who became incarnate first in Adam, then in Enoch, Noah, Abraham,
Isaac, Jacob and so on, in order finally to appear by a supernatural
virgin-birth in the person of Jesus, and to illumine the dark earth
by his true message of salvation. [174]

Of all the Gods of the Rigveda Agni bears the closest relationship
to the Perso-Jewish Messiah, and it is he also who stands closest
to man’s soul. He is rightly called king of the universe, as God of
Gods, who created the world and called into life all beings that are
upon it. He is the lord of the heavenly hosts, the guardian of the
cosmic order and judge of the world, who is present as an invisible
witness of all human acts, who as a “knower of nature” works in every
living thing, and as a party to all earthly secrets illuminates the
unknown. Sent down by his father, the Sky-God or Sun-God, he appears
as the “light of the world.” He releases this world from the Powers
of Darkness and returns to his father with the “Banner of Smoke” in
his hand as a token of victory. Agni blazes forth in the lightning
flash from out of the watercloud, the “sea of the sky,” in order to
annihilate the Daemons of Darkness and to release oppressed humanity
from the fear of its tormentors. Thus, according to Isaiah xi.,
4, the Messiah too will burn his enemies with the fiery breath
of his mouth; and in this he is clearly a Fire-God. Again, in the
Apocalypse of Esdras (chap. xiii.) the Seer beholds the “Son of Man”
(Purusha) rise up from out of the sea, fly upon the clouds of heaven,
destroy the hostile forces by the stream of fire which proceeded
from his mouth, free the scattered Israelites from their captivity
and lead them back into their country. [175] But this “first-born”
son of the Sun-God and the Sky-God is at the same time the father and
ancestor of men, the first man (Purusha), the head of the community
of mankind, the guardian of the house and of the domestic flock, who
keeps from the threshold the evil spirits and the enemies who lurk
in the darkness. Agni enters the dwellings of men as guest, friend
(Mitra), companion, brother and consoler of those who honour him. He
is the messenger between this world and the beyond, communicating the
wishes of men to the Gods above, and announcing to men the will of the
Gods. He is a mediator between God and men who makes a report to the
Gods of everything of which he becomes aware among mankind. Although
indeed he takes revenge for the men’s faults yet he is a gracious God,
disposed to forgive, in his capacity of an expiatory, propitiatory and
redeeming power, atoning for their sins and bringing them the divine
grace. Finally, he is also the guide of souls–he conducts the Gods
down to the sacrifices offered by man and makes ready for men the path
upon which he leads them up to God. And when their time has come he,
as the purifying fire, consumes their bodies and carries that which
is immortal to heaven. [176]

Agni’s father is, as has been said, the sky, or rather the light,
the sun, the source of all warmth and life upon the earth. He bears
the name of Savitar, which means “creator” or “mover,” is called “the
lord of creation,” “the father of all life,” “the living one,” or “the
heavenly father” simply. [177] At the same time Tvashtar also passes
as the father of Agni. His name characterises him simply as modeller
(world-modeller) or work-master, divine artist, skilful smith, or
“carpenter,” in which capacity he sharpens Brihaspati’s axe, and,
indeed, is himself represented with a hatchet in his hand. [178]
He appears to have attained this role as being the discoverer of
the artificial kindling of fire, by means of which any fashioning
(welding), any art in the higher sense of the word became possible,
as being the preparer of the apparatus for obtaining fire by friction
or rotation–“the fire cradle”–which consisted of carefully chosen
wood of a specified form and kind. Finally, the production of fire is
ascribed to Mataricvan also, the God of the Wind identical with Vayu,
because fire cannot burn without air, and it is the motion of the
breeze which fans the glimmering spark. [179] All of these different
figures are identical with one another, and can mutually take the
place one of another, for they are all only different manifestations
of warmth. It is this which reveals itself as well in the lightning
of the sky and motion of the air, as in the glimmering of the fire,
and not only as the principle of life, but also as that of thought
and of knowledge or the “word” (Vac, Veda), appearing on the one side
as the productive, life-giving, and fructifying power of nature, on
the other as the creative, inspiring spirit. This is the reason why,
among the ancients, the God of life and fertility was in his essential
nature a Fire-God, and why the three figures of the divine “father,”
“son,” and “spirit,” in spite of the differences of their functions,
could be looked upon without inconsistency as one and the same being.

As is well known, Jesus, too, had three fathers, namely, his
heavenly father, Jahwe, the Holy Spirit, and also his earthly father,
Joseph. The latter is also a work-master, artizan, or “carpenter,” as
the word “tekton” indicates. Similarly, Kinyras, the father of Adonis,
is said to have been some kind of artizan, a smith or carpenter. That
is to say, he is supposed to have invented the hammer and the lever
and roofing as well as mining. In Homer he appears as the maker of
the ingenious coat of mail which Agamemnon received from him as a
guest-friend. [180] The father of Hermes also is an artizan. Now Hermes
closely resembles Agni as well as Jesus. He is the “good messenger,”
the Euangelos; that is, the proclaimer of the joyful message of
the redemption of souls from the power of death. He is the God of
sacrifices, and as such “mediator” between heaven and earth. He is the
“guide of souls” (Psychopompos) and “bridegroom of souls” (beloved of
Psyche). He is also a God of fertility, a guardian of the flocks, who
is represented in art as the “good shepherd,” the bearer of the ram,
a guide upon the roads of earth, a God of the door-hinge (Strophaios)
and guardian of the door, [181] a god of healing as well as of speech,
the model of all human reason, in which capacity he was identified
by the Stoics with the Logos that dwelt within the world. [182] Just
as in the Rigveda Tvashtar stands with Savitar, the divine father of
Agni, and Joseph the “carpenter” with Jahwe, as father of the divine
mediator, so the divine artificer, Hephaistos, whose connection with
Tvashtar is obvious, is looked upon together with Zeus, the father
of heaven, as the begetter of Hermes. [183]

Now if Joseph, as we have already seen, was originally a God, Mary,
the mother of Jesus, was a Goddess. Under the name of Maya she is
the mother of Agni, i.e., the principle of motherhood and creation
simply, as which she is in the Rigveda at one time represented by
the fire-producing wood, the soft pith, in which the fire-stick was
whirled; at another as the earth, with which the sky has mated. She
appears under the same name as the mother of Buddha as well as of
the Greek Hermes. She is identical with Maira (Maera) as, according
to Pausanias, viii. 12, 48, the Pleiad Maia, wife of Hephaistos,
was called. She appears among the Persians as the “virgin” mother
of Mithras. As Myrrha she is the mother of the Syrian Adonis;
as Semiramis, mother of the Babylonian Ninus (Marduk). In the
Arabic legend she appears under the name of Mirzam as mother of the
mythical saviour Joshua, while the Old Testament gives this name to
the virgin sister of that Joshua who was so closely related to Moses;
and, according to Eusebius, [184] Merris was the name of the Egyptian
princess who found Moses in a basket and became his foster-mother.

After all this it seems rather naive to believe that the parents of the
“historical” Jesus were called Joseph and Mary, and that his father
was a carpenter. In reality the whole of the family and home life
of the Messiah, Jesus, took place in heaven among the Gods. It was
only reduced to that of a human being in lowly circumstances by the
fact that Paul described the descent of the Messiah upon the earth
as an assumption of poverty and a relinquishment of his heavenly
splendour. [185] Hence, when the myth was transformed into history,
Christ was turned into a “poor” man in the economic sense of the word,
while Joseph, the divine artificer and father of the sun, became an
ordinary carpenter.

Now it is a feature which recurs in all the religions of Nearer Asia
that the “son” of the divine “virgin” mother is at the same time the
“beloved” of this Goddess in the sexual sense of the word. This
is the case not only with Semiramis and Ninus, Istar and Tammuz,
Atargatis (Aphrodite) and Adonis, Cybele and Attis, but also with
Aphrodite (Maia) and Hermes, [186] Maia and Iasios, one of the Cabiri,
identical with Hermes or Cadmus, who was slain by his father, Zeus,
with a lightning stroke, but was raised again and placed in the
sky as a constellation. [187] We may conclude from the connection
between Iasios and Joshua that a similar relationship existed between
the latter and his mother Mirzam. Indeed, a glimmer of this possibly
appears even in the Gospels in the relationship of the various Maries
to Jesus, although, of course, in accordance with the character of
these writings, they are transferred into quite a different sphere
and given other emotional connections. [188]

Now in Hebrew the word “spirit” (ruach) is of feminine gender. As a
consequence of this the Holy Ghost was looked upon by the Nassenes and
the earliest Christians as the “mother” of Jesus. Indeed, it appears
that in their view the birth of the divine son was only consummated by
the baptism and the descent of the Spirit. According to the Gospels
which we possess, on the occasion of the baptism in the Jordan a
voice from above uttered these words: “Thou art my beloved son; in
thee I am well pleased.” [189] On the other hand, in an older reading
of the passage in question in Luke, which was in use as late as the
middle of the fourth century, it runs, in agreement with Psalm ii. 7:
“Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.” In this case the
spirit who speaks these words is regarded as a female being. This
is shown by the dove which descends from heaven, for this was the
holy bird, the symbol of the Mother Goddess of Nearer Asia. [190]
But it was not the Nassenes alone (Ophites) who called the Holy
Spirit “the first word” and “the mother of all living things:”
[191] other Gnostic sects, such as the Valentinians, regarded the
Spirit which descended in the shape of a dove as the “word of the
mother from above, of wisdom.” [192] Viewed in this sense, baptism
also passed in the Mysteries as a new birth. Indeed, its Greek name,
photisma or photismos (i.e., illumination), clearly indicates its
origin in fire-worship. Thus, when Justin [193] too speaks of a
flame appearing at the baptism of Jesus, he alludes thereby to the
connection between that solemn act and the birth of a Fire-God. [194]
Ephrem, the Syrian composer of hymns, makes the Baptist say to Jesus:
“A tongue of fire in the air awaits thee beyond the Jordan. If thou
followest it and wilt be baptized, then undertake to purify thyself,
for who can seize a burning fire with his hands? Thou who art all fire
have mercy upon me.” [195] In Luke iii. 16 and Matt. iii. 11 it is
said in the same sense: “I indeed baptize you with water; but there
cometh he that is mightier than I…. He shall baptize you with the
Holy Ghost and with fire.” And in Luke xii. 49 sq. we read the words:
“I came to cast fire upon the earth: and what will I, if it is already
kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with.” Here is a reference
to fire falling upon the eyes and being made to blaze up by “baptism,”
that is, the pouring on of a nourishing liquid, as we have seen in
the worship of Agni. [196]

Just as John, who was closely related to the Essenes, baptized the
penitents in the Jordan in the open air, so also the Mandaei, whose
connection with the Essenes is extremely probable, used to perform
baptisms in flowing water only, on which account they were also called
“the Christians of John” in later times. This custom among them was
obviously connected with the fact that Hibil Ziwa, who was venerated by
them as a Redeemer, was a form of Marduk, and the latter was a son of
the great Water-God, Ea; he thus incorporated the healing and cleansing
powers of water in himself. On the other hand, as has been already
said, the “anointing” of the God in the Agni Cult with milk, melted
butter, and the fluid Soma, served to strengthen the vital powers of
the divine child and to bring the sparks slumbering in the fire-wood
to a blaze. There is no doubt that this idea was also present in the
baptism as it was usually practised in the mystic cults. By baptism
the newly admitted member was inwardly “enlightened.” Often enough,
too, for example, in the Mysteries of Mithras, with the ceremony
there was also associated the actual flashing forth of a light, the
production of the Cult God himself manifested in light. [197] By this
means the faithful were “born again,” in the same way as Agni was
“baptized” at his birth, and thereby enabled to shine forth brightly
and to reveal the disorder of the world hidden in the darkness.

“The world was swallowed up, veiled in darkness,
Light appeared, when Agni was born.” [198]

“Shining brightly, Agni flashes forth far and wide,
He makes everything plain in splendour.” [199]

A complete understanding of the baptism in the Jordan can only be
attained if here, too, we take into consideration the translation of
the baptism into astrological terms. In other words, it appears that
John the Baptist, as we meet him in the Gospels, was not an historical
personage. Apart from the Gospels he is mentioned by Josephus only,
[200] and this passage, although it was known to Origen [201] in
early days, is exposed to a strong suspicion of being a forgery
by some Christian hand. [202] Again, the account in the Gospels
of the relations between John and Jesus is full of obscurities and
contradictions, as has been pointed out by Strauss. These, however,
disappear as soon as we recognise that under the name John, which
in Hebrew means “pleasing to God,” is concealed the Babylonian
Water-God, Oannes (Ea). Baptism is connected with his worship, and
the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan represents the reflection upon
earth of what originally took place among the stars. That is to say,
the sun begins its yearly course with a baptism, entering as it does,
immediately after its birth, the constellations of the Water-carrier
and the Fishes. But this celestial Water Kingdom, in which each year
the day-star is purified and born again, is the Eridanus, the heavenly
Jordan or Year-Stream (Egyptian, iaro or iero, the river), wherein the
original baptism of the divine Saviour of the world takes place. [203]
On this account it is said in the hymn of Ephrem on the Epiphany
of the divine Son: “John stepped forward and adored the Son, whose
form was enveloped in a strange light,” and “when Jesus had received
the baptism he immediately ascended, and his light shone over the
world.” [204] In the Syrian Baptismal Liturgy, preserved to us under
the name of Severus, we read the words: “I, he said, baptize with
water, but he who comes, with Fire and Spirit, that spirit, namely,
which descended from on high upon his head in the shape of a dove, who
has been baptized and has arisen from the midst of the waters, whose
light has gone up over the earth.” According to the Fourth Gospel,
John was not himself the light; but he gave testimony of the light,
“that true light which lighteth every man coming into the world,”
by whom the world was made and of whose fulness we have all received
grace. [205] In this the reference to the sun is unmistakable, while
the story of John’s birth [206] is copied from that of the Sun-Gods
Isaac [207] and Samson. [208] In John, the Baptist himself is called
by Jesus “a burning and shining lamp,” [209] and he himself remarks,
when he hears of the numerous following of Jesus, “he must increase
but I must decrease,” [210] a speech which probably at first referred
to the summer solstice, when the sun, having reached the highest point
in its course, enters the winter hemisphere and loses strength day by
day. John is said to have been born six months before Jesus. [211]
This, too, points to the fact that both are essentially identical,
that they are only the different halves of the year, representing
the sun as rising and setting, these two phases being related to one
another as Caleb and Joshua, Nergal and Tammuz, &c. John the Baptist is
represented as wearing a cloak of camel-hair, with a leathern girdle
about his loins. [212] This brings to mind the garb of the prophet
Elijah, [213] to whom Jesus himself likened him. [214] But Elijah,
who passed among the Jews for a forerunner of the Messiah, is a form
of Sun-God transferred to history. In other words, he is the same as
the Greek Helios, the German Heljas, and Ossetic Ilia, with whom he
coincides in most important points, or at any rate characteristics
of this God have been transferred to the figure of the prophet. [215]

According to Babylonian ideas corresponding to the “baptism of water”
at the commencement of the efficacious power of the sun, was the
“baptism of fire,” when it was at the height of its annual course,
at the time of the summer solstice, and its passage was again
inclined downwards. [216] This idea, too, is found in the Gospels,
in the story of the transfiguration of Jesus upon the mountain. [217]
It takes precisely the same place in the context of his life-year,
as depicted by the Evangelists, as the Sun’s “baptism of fire”
in the Babylonian world system, since it too marks the highest and
turning-point in the life of the Christian Saviour. On this occasion
Moses and Elijah appeared with the Saviour, who shone like a pillar
of fire, “and his garments became glistening, exceeding white, like
unto snow, so as no fuller on earth can whiten them.” And there came
a cloud which overshadowed the three disciples whom Jesus had taken
with him on to the mountain. And a voice came from the cloud, saying,
“This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” As at the baptism, so here,
too, was Jesus proclaimed by a heavenly voice as the Son or beloved
of God, or rather of the Holy Spirit. As the latter is in Hebrew of
the feminine gender, it consequently appears that in this passage we
have before us a parallel to the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. The
incident is generally looked upon as though by it was emphasised
the higher significance of Jesus in comparison with the two chief
representatives of the old order, and as though Jesus was extolled
before Moses and Elijah by the transfiguration. Here too, however,
the Sun-God, Helios, is obviously concealed beneath the form of the
Israelite Elijah. On this account Christianity changed the old places
of worship of Zeus and Helios upon eminences into chapels of Elijah;
and Moses is no other than the Moon-God, the Men of Asia Minor. And
he has been introduced into the story because the divine lawgivers in
almost all mythologies are the same as the moon, the measurer of time
and regulator of all that happens (cf. Manu among the Indians, Minos
among the Greeks, Men (Min) among the Egyptians). [218] According
to Justin, [219] David is supposed to have made the prophecy that
Christ would be born “before the sun and the moon.” The sun and moon
often appear upon the pictures of the Nearer Asiatic Redeemer, God
(e.g., Mithras), paling before the splendour of the young Light-God,
as we have seen in the case of Buddha, [220] and as, according to
the narrative of the Rigveda, also happened at the birth of the Child
Agni. Accordingly we have before us in the story of the transfiguration
in the Gospels only another view of the story of the birth of the
Light-God or Fire-God, such as lies at the root of the story of the
baptism of the Christian Saviour. [221] And with the thought of the
new birth of the Saviour is associated that of the baptism of Jesus,
and particularly that of the fire-baptism, of which the sun partakes
at the height of its power. [222]



Like Baptism, the sacrament of the “Supper,” the partaking of the
sacred host and wine (in place of which among certain sects water is
also found), has its precedent in the most ancient fire-worship. When
the sacred fire had been kindled upon the altar, the faithful were
accustomed, as the Rigveda shows, to sit down in order to partake of
the sacred cake prepared from meal and butter, the symbol of all solid
food, and of the Soma cup, the symbol of all liquid nourishment. It
was thought that Agni dwelt invisible within these substances: in
the meal as though in the concentrated heat of the sun, in the Soma,
since the drink in its fiery nature and invigorating power disclosed
the nature of the God of Fire and Life. Participation therein opened to
the faithful communion with Agni. Thereby they were incorporated with
the God. They felt themselves transformed into him, raised above the
actuality of every day, and as members of a common body, as though of
one heart and one soul, inflamed by the same feeling of interdependence
and brotherhood. Then some such hymn as follows would mount towards
heaven from their breasts overflowing with thankfulness:–

“Oh great Agni, true-minded
Thou dost indeed unite all.
Enkindled on the place of worship
Bring us all that is good.
Unitedly come, unitedly speak,
And let your hearts be one,
Just as the old Gods
For their part are of one mind.

Like are their designs, like their assembly,
Like their disposition, united their thoughts.
So pray I also to you with like prayer,
And sacrifice unto you with like sacrifice.
The like design you have indeed,
And your hearts are united.
Let your thoughts be in unison,
That you may be happily joined together.” [223]

While the faithful by partaking of the sacred cake and the fiery
Soma cup united themselves with the God and were filled with his
“spirit,” the sacrificial gifts which had been brought to him burnt
upon the altars. These consisted likewise of Soma and Sacred Cake,
and caused the sacred banquet to be of such a kind that it was
partaken of by Agni and men together. The God was at and present
in the banquet dedicated to him. He consumed the gifts, transformed
them into flame, and in sweet-smelling smoke bore them with him up
to heaven. Here they were partaken of by the other divine beings and
finally by the Father of Heaven himself. Thus Agni became not merely
an agent at the sacrifice, a mystic sacrificial priest, but, since the
sacrificial gifts simply contained him in material form, a sacrificer,
who offered his own body in sacrifice. [224] While man sacrificed God,
God at the same time sacrificed himself. Indeed, this sacrifice was
one in which God was not only the subject but also the object, both
sacrificer and sacrificed. “It was a common mode of thinking among the
Indians,” says Max Mueller, “to look upon the fire on the altar as at
the same time subject and object of the sacrifice. The fire burnt the
offering and was accordingly the priest as it were. The fire bore the
offering to the Gods and was accordingly a mediator between God and
men. But the fire also represented something divine. It was a God,
and if honour was paid to this God, the fire was at once subject and
object of the sacrifice. Out of this arose the first idea, that Agni
sacrificed to himself, that is, that he brought his own offering to
himself, then, that he brought himself as a victim–out of which the
later legends grew.” [225] The sacrifice of the God is a sacrificing of
the God. The genitive in this sentence is in one case to be understood
in an objective, in the other in a subjective sense. In other words,
the sacrifice which man offers to the God is a sacrifice which the
God brings, and this sacrifice of the God is at the same time one in
which the God offers himself as victim.

In the Rigveda Agni, as God of Priests and Sacrifices, also bears
the name of Vicvakarman, i.e., “Consummator of All.” Hymn x., 81 also
describes him as the creator of the world, who called the world into
existence, and in so doing gave his own body in sacrifice. Hence,
then, the world, according to x. 82, represents nothing existing
exterior to him, but the very manifestation of Vicvakarman, in which
at the creation he as it were appeared. On the other hand, Purusha,
the first man, is represented as he out of whose body the world was
formed. [226] But Purusha is, as we have seen, the prototype of the
Mandaic and apocalyptic “son of man.” Herein lies the confirmation
of the fact that the “son of man” is none other than Agni, the most
human of the Vedic Gods. In the Mazda religion the first mortals were
called Meshia and Meshiane, the ancestors of fallen mankind, who expect
their redemption at the hands of another Meshia. This meaning of the
word Messiah was not strange to the Jews too, when they placed the
latter as the “new Adam” in the middle of the ages. Adam, however,
also means man. [227] The Messiah accordingly, as the new Adam,
was for them too only a renewal of the first man in a loftier and
better form. This idea, that mankind needed to be renewed by another
typical representative of itself, goes back in the last resort to
India, where, after the dismemberment of Purusha, a man arose in
the person of Manu or Manus. He was to be the just king, the first
lawgiver and establisher of civilisation, descending after his death
to rule as judge in the under-world (cf. the Cretan Minos). But Manu,
whose name again meant no more than man or human being (Manusha),
passed as son of Agni. Indeed, he was even completely identified
with him, since life, spirit, and fire to the mind of primitive man
are interchangeable ideas, although it is spirit and intelligence
which are expressed under the name of Manu (Man = to measure, to
examine). [228] We thus also obtain a new reason for the fact that the
divine Redeemer is a human being. We also understand not only why the
“first-born son of God” was, according to the ideas of the whole of
Nearer Asiatic syncretism, the principle of the creation of the world,
but also why the redemption which he brought man could be for this
reason looked upon as a divine self-sacrifice. [229]

The sacrifice of the God on the part of mankind is a sacrifice of the
God himself–it is only by this means that the community between God
and man was completed. The God offers sacrifice for man, while man
offers sacrifice for God. Indeed, more than this, he offers himself
for mankind, he gives his own body that man may reap the fruit of
his sacrifice. The divine “son” offers himself as a victim. Sent
down by the “father” upon the earth in the form of light and warmth,
he enters men as the “quickening and life-giving spirit” under the
appearance of bread and wine. He consumes himself in the fire and
unites man with the father above, in that by his disposal of his
own personality he removes the separation and difference between
them. Thus Agni extinguishes the hostility between God and man, thus
he consumes their sins in the glow of his fiery nature, spiritualising
and illuminating them inwardly. Through the invigorating power of
the “fire-water” he raises men above the actuality of every day
to the source of their existence and by his own sacrifice obtains
for them a life of blessedness in heaven. In the sacrifice, too,
God and man are identified. Therein God descends to man and man is
raised to God. That is the common thought which had already found
expression in the Rigveda, which later formed the special “mystery”
of the secret cults and religious unions of Nearer Asia, which lay
at the root of the sacrament of “the Supper,” which guaranteed to man
the certainty of a blessed life in the beyond, and reconciled him to
the thought of bodily death. [230] Agni is accordingly nothing else
than the bodily warmth in individuals, and as such the subject of
their motions and thoughts, the principle of life, their soul. When
the body grows cold in death the warmth of life leaves it, the eyes
of the dead go up to the sun, his breath into the wind; his soul,
however, ascends towards heaven where the “fathers” dwell, into the
kingdom of everlasting light and life. [231] Indeed, so great is the
power of Agni, the divine physician and saviour of the soul, [232]
that he, as the God of all creative power, can, by merely laying on
his hands, even call the dead back to life. [233]

Even in the Old Testament we meet with the idea of a sacramental
meal. This is pointed to in Genesis xiv. 18 sqq., when Melchisedek,
the prince of peace (“King of Salem”), the priest of “God Most
High,” prepares for Abraham a meal of bread and wine, and at it
imparts to him the blessing of the Lord God. For Melchisedek, the
ruler of Salem, the city of peace, “the King of Justice,” as he is
called in the Epistle to the Hebrews, is even in this book plainly
described as an ancient God: “without father, without mother, without
genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made
like unto the Son of God, he abideth a priest continually.” [234]
So also the Prophet Jeremiah speaks of holy feasts, consisting of
cake and wine, of nightly sacrifices of burnt-offerings and liquids,
which were offered to the Queen of Heaven (i.e., the Moon) and other
Divinities. [235] Isaiah, too, is indignant against those who prepare
a drinking-feast for God and make liquid offerings to Meni. [236]
Now Meni is none other than Men, the Moon-God of Asia Minor, and
as such is identical with Selene-Mene, the Goddess of the Moon in
the Orphic hymns. Like her he is a being of a dual sex, at once
Queen and King of Heaven. Consequently a liquid sacrifice appears
to have been offered by all the people of Nearer Asia in honour of
the Moon. As Moon-God (Deus Lunus) and as related to Meni, in whose
worship a sacramental meal also plays the chief part, Agni appears in
the Vedas under the name of Manu, Manus, or Soma. He too is a being
of dual sex. Of this we are again reminded when Philo, the Rabbinic
speculation of the Kabbala, as well as the Gnostics ascribe to the
first man (Adam Kadmon) two faces and the form of a man and woman,
until God separated the two sexes from one another. [237] According
to this we should probably look upon the fire-worship in Asia Minor
also as the foundation of the sacramental meal.

Obviously we have to do with a meal of this kind in the bringing in
of the so-called shew-bread. Every Sabbath twelve cakes were laid by
the priests “upon the pure table before the Lord,” “and it shall be
for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place, for
it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the Lord, by a perpetual
statute.” [238]

It appears, then, that this meal, presided over by the High Priest as
representative of Aaron, was partaken of by twelve other priests, and
Robertson rightly sees herein the Jewish prototype of the Christian
Supper and of the number of apostles–the Twelve–present at it. But
the High Priest Aaron is a personification of the Jewish Ark of the
Covenant, that is, of the visible expression of the Covenant between
God and man, one of the chief prototypes of the Messiah. And if the
self-offering of the Messiah, as we have seen above (p. 78), has its
precedent in the self-offering of Aaron, so also the great solemnity
of the Aaronic sacrificial meal would not be wanting in the story of
the Christian Redeemer.

As is well known, Joshua too, the Jesus of the Old Testament, whom we
have learnt to recognise as an ancient Ephraimitic God of the Sun and
Fruitfulness, was accompanied in his passage of the Jordan by twelve
assistants, one from each tribe. And he is said after circumcising the
people to have celebrated the Paschal Feast on the other bank. [239]
Hence, taking into account what has been said above concerning Joshua,
we are probably justified in drawing the conclusion that his name was
permanently connected with the partaking of the Easter lamb. [240]
In any case the so-called “Supper” of Christianity did not only later
take its place as the central point of religious activity, but from
the beginning it held this central position in the cults of those
sects out of which Christianity was developed. It was the point of
crystallisation, the highest point, of the other ritualistic acts,
in a way the germ cell out of which in association with the idea
of the death and resurrection of the God Redeemer the Christian
outlook upon the world has grown. Just as in the Vedic Agni Cult the
sacrifice offered by men to their God was a self-sacrifice of this
God as well in a subjective as in an objective sense; just as the
participating in common of the sacrificial gifts served the purpose
of rendering the sacrifice in an inward sense their very own, and
thereby making them immediate participators in its efficacy, so, too,
the Christian partakes in the bread of the body of his God and in the
wine drinks his blood in order to become as it were himself God. The
Evangelists make the Supper coincide with the Feast of the Pasch,
because originally a man was immolated on this occasion; and he,
as the first-born and most valuable of sacrificial gifts, took the
place of the God who offered himself in sacrifice. [241]

The celebration of sacramental feasts was very widespread throughout
the whole of antiquity. They were among the most important acts
of worship in the Mystic religions, above all in connection with
the idea of the Saviour (Soter) and God of Sacrifices, who gave his
life for the world. Thus Mithras, the Persian Agni, is said to have
celebrated in a last meal with Helios and the other companions of
his toils the end of their common struggle. Those initiated into
the Mysteries of Mithras also celebrated this occurrence by common
feasts in which they strove to unite themselves in a mystic manner
with the God. Saos (Saon or Samon), the son of Zeus or Hermes,
the God of Healing, and a nymph, reminds us of the name of Mithras,
rejuvenated and risen again, of Saoshyant or Sosiosh. He is said to
have founded the Mysteries in Samothrace, and appears to be identical
with the mythical Sabus, who is supposed to have given his name to the
Sabines, to have founded Italian civilization, and to have invented
wine. [242] His name characterises him as the “sacrificer” (Scr.,
Savana, sacrifice); and he appears to be a Western form of Agni,
the God of Sacrifices and preparer of the Soma, since Dionysus also
bore the surname of Saos or Saotes and, as distributor of the wine, is
supposed to have shed his blood for the salvation of the world, to have
died and to have risen again, and thus has a prototype in the Vedic
Agni. With Saos are connected Iasios (Jasion), the son and beloved of
Demeter or Aphrodite (Maia), and of Zeus or the divine “artificer”
Hephaistos (Tvashtar). Just as Saos established the worship of the
Cabiri, Iasios is said to have established the worship of Demeter in
Samothrace. In this connection he is identified with Hermes-Cadmus,
the divine sacrificial priest (Kadmilos, i.e., Servant of God) of
the Samothracian religion (cf. Adam-Kadmon of the Kabbala and the
Gnostics, who is connected both with Agni-Manu and Jesus). According
to Usener his name is connected with the Greek “iasthein,” to cure,
and consequently characterises its bearer as “saviour.” But this is
also the real meaning of the name Jason, whose bearer, a form of the
patron of physicians, Asclepios (Helios), wanders about as a physician,
exorciser of demons and founder of holy rites, and was venerated as
God of Healing in the whole of Nearer Asia and Greece. [243] The myth
also connects him with the establishment of the worship of the twelve
Gods. [244]

Now, Iasios (Jason) is only a Greek form of the name Joshua
(Jesus). Just as Joshua crossed the Jordan with twelve assistants and
celebrated the Pasch (lamb) on the further bank, just as Jesus in
his capacity of divine physician and wonder-worker wanders through
Galilee (the district of Galil!) with twelve disciples, and goes to
Jerusalem at the Pasch in order to eat the Easter lamb there with
the Twelve, so does Jason set out with twelve companions in order to
fetch the golden fleece of the lamb from Colchis. [245] And just as
Jason, after overcoming innumerable dangers, successfully leads his
companions to their goal and back again to the homes they so longed
for, so does Joshua lead the people of Israel into the promised land
“where milk and honey flow,” and so Jesus shows his followers the
way to their true home, the kingdom of heaven, the land of their
“fathers,” whence the soul originally came and whither after the
completion of its journey through life it returns. It can scarcely
be doubted that in all of these cases we have to do with one and the
same myth–the myth of the Saving Sun and Rejoicer of the peoples,
as it was spread among all the peoples of antiquity, but especially
in Nearer Asia. We can scarcely doubt that the stories in question
originally referred to the annual journey of the sun through the
twelve signs of the Zodiac. Even the names (Iasios, Jason, Joshua,
Jesus; cf. also Vishnu Jesudu, see above) agree, and their common
root is contained also in the name Jao (Jahwe), from which Joshua is
derived. Jao or Jehu, however, was a mystical name of Dionysus among
the Greeks, and he, like Vishnu Jesudu (Krishna), Joshua, and Jesus,
roamed about in his capacity of travelling physician and redeemer
of the world. [246] Of all of these wandering Healers, Physicians,
and Deliverers it is true that they were honoured in the Mysteries
by sacramental meals and offered the faithful both the chalice of
corporal and spiritual healing and the “bread of life.”



Of a great number of modes of expression and images in the New
Testament we know that they originated from the common treasury of
the languages of the secret sects of the Orient, having their source
above all in Mandaism and the Mithraic religion. Thus “the rock,”
“the water,” “the bread,” “the book,” or “the light of life,”
[247] “the second death,” “the vine,” “the good shepherd,” &c.,
are simply expressions which in part are known also by the Rigveda
and there belong to the ideas grouped about Agni, the God of Fire,
Life, and Shepherds. Of the latter, too, as of Jesus, it is said
that he loses not a single one of the flock entrusted to his care,
[248] for Pushan, to whom the hymn in this connection is addressed,
is only a form of Agni. In its symbols also the earliest Christianity
coincides with Indian thought in such a striking manner that it can
scarcely be explained as chance. Thus the horse, [249] the hare, and
the peacock, which play so great a part in symbolic pictures of the
catacombs, point to an ultimately Vedic origin, where they all stand in
connection with the nature of Agni. Again, the Fish was already to be
found in the Indian Fire Worship and appears to have here originally
represented Agni swimming in the water of the clouds, the ocean of
heaven. [250] In the hymn of the Rigveda itself Agni is often invoked
as “the Bull.” This was probably originally a simple nature symbol,
the Bull as image of the strength of the God; then the Fire-God and
Sun-God, in his capacity of preparer of the Soma cup, was identified
with the moon (Manu), whose crescents were taken as the horns of a
bull. Later, however, the image of the Bull was driven out by that
of the Ram. As early as in the Rigveda there is frequent mention of
the God’s “banner of smoke.” Thus he was accustomed to be represented
leading a ram with a banner in his hand or simply with a banner in his
hand with the picture of a ram upon it, just as Christ is portrayed
under the shape of a ram or lamb bearing a banner like a cross.

About the year 800 B.C. the sun, the heavenly Agni, which had hitherto
been at the commencement of spring in the constellation of the Bull,
entered (as a consequence of the advance of equality between day and
night) that of the Ram. Thus it became, according to astrological
modes of thought, itself a ram. [251] While it had formerly, in the
shape of a bull, opened the spring and released the world from the
power of winter–an image which was still retained in the Mithras
Cult–these functions were now transferred to the ram, and this became
a symbol of the God and the beast offered in expiatory sacrifices. Now
the constellation of the Ram was described by the Persians in a word
which could also mean lamb. In other cases also the lamb often took
the place of the ram in the sacrificial worship of Nearer Asia; for
example, among the Jews, who were accustomed to consume the Paschal
lamb at the beginning of the year in spring. This is the explanation
of the mystical lamb in the Revelation of John (which is scarcely an
original Christian work, but shows signs of a pre-Christian Cult of
Jesus [252]), being depicted by seven horns or rays in a way which
rather implies the idea of a ram.

The fifth chapter of Revelation describes the lamb in its quality
of heavenly victim of expiation. No one can open the book with the
seven seals, which God holds in his right hand, in which the fate of
the world appears to be written, but the lamb alone succeeds in so
doing–“In the midst of the four-and-twenty elders who, clad in white
garments and with crowns on their heads, sit around the divine throne,
and in the midst of the four beasts who sit around it, the lamb,
suddenly and without anything happening, stands as though it had been
slain, having seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven spirits of
God, sent forth into all the earth. And when he had taken the book the
four living creatures and the four-and-twenty elders fell down before
the lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense,
which are the prayers of the saints. And they sing a new song saying,
Worthy art thou to take the book and to open the seals thereof, for
thou wast slain and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every
tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and madest them to be unto
our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon the earth.” [253]

The scene recalls to mind the self-offering of Agni in the midst of
the Gods, Priests, and victims, and the ascension of the God which
then took place. Just as the sacrifice of the lamb in Revelation
refers to the entrance of the sun into the constellation of the Ram,
and the victory of light over wintry darkness and the beginning of
a new life which it heralds, so were mystic sacrifices of bulls and
rams in the other Sun Cults of Nearer Asia, especially in those of
Attis and Mithras, very customary for purposes of expiation or new
birth. On these occasions the beast was immolated while standing,
and the blood which poured in streams from the victim was looked upon
as a means of cleansing and of life-giving. In any case, throughout
Revelation the lamb plays the part of the heavenly fire revealing
God’s illuminatory nature, unfolding his wisdom and enlightening the
world. As it is said of the heavenly Jerusalem: “And the city needed
no sun and no moon to shine upon her, for the glory of God illumined
her, and her light is the lamb.” [254]

Again, in the Church of the first century, at Easter, a lamb was
solemnly slaughtered upon an altar and its blood collected in a
chalice. [255] Accordingly in the early days of Christianity the
comparison of Christ with the light and the lamb was a very favourite
one. Above all the Gospel of John makes the widest use of it. As had
already been done in the Vedic Cult of Agni, here too were identified
with Christ the creative word of God that had existed before the
world–the life, the light, and the lamb. And he was also called
“the light of the world” that came to light up the darkness ruling
upon the earth, as well as “the Lamb of God, who bore the sins of the
world.” [256] And indeed the Latin expression for lamb (agnus) also
expresses its relation to the ancient Fire-God and its sanctity as a
sacrificial animal. For its root is connected with ignis (Scr. agni,
the purifying fire, and yagna, victim), and also, according to Festus
Pompeius, with the Greek “hagnos,” pure, consecrated, and “hagnistes,”
the expiator. [257] In this sense “Agnus Dei,” the Lamb of God,
as Christ is very frequently called, is in fact nothing else than
“Agni Deus,” since Agnus stands in a certain measure as the Latin
translation for Agni. [258] But in India at the so-called Hulfeast,
at the spring equinox, a ram (lamb) used to be solemnly burnt as an
expiatory victim representing Agni. The “crucifixion” of Jesus, as will
likewise appear, is in a certain sense only the symbol of the burning
of the divine lamb, which by its death redeems man from sin. In both
cases the lamb refers to the lamb of the Zodiac, the constellation of
the Ram, into which the sun enters at the time of the spring equinox,
and with which consequently, in accordance with the astrological way
of looking at things, it is blended, and which is as though burnt up
by it. Thus were completed the victory of the Sun Fire (Agni) over
the night of winter and the resurrection of nature to a new life,
this cosmic process finding its reflection in the sacrifice upon
earth of a lamb (agnus).

During the first century after Christ the lamb in association with
light and fire was among the most popular images in ecclesiastical
language and symbolism. The heathen Romans used to hang “bullae”
round the necks of their children as amulets. The Christians
used consecrated waxen lambs, which were manufactured out of the
remains of the Easter candles of the preceding year and distributed
during Easter week. The belief then attached itself to these “Agnus
Dei’s,” that if they were preserved in a house they gave protection
against lightning and fire. Above all the lamps offered a convenient
opportunity for symbolising Christ as a light, and thus making use
of the image of the lamb. [259] The motif of the lamb with the cross
is also found very frequently in old Christian art upon glass bowls,
sarcophagi, and articles of use of all kinds. And indeed in such cases
the cross is sometimes found upon the head or shoulder, sometimes at
the side of the lamb or even behind him, while a nimbus in the shape
of a disc of sunlight surrounds his head and points to the “light”
nature of the lamb. The nimbus, too, is an old Indian symbol, and
thus indicates that the whole conception was borrowed from the circle
of Indian ideas. Later the lamb is also found upon the cross itself,
and indeed at the point of intersection of the two arms surrounded by
the disc of sunlight. This seems to point to the Saviour’s death upon
the cross, the cross here appearing to be understood as the gibbet. But
is it really certain that the cross in the world of Christian thought
possessed this significance from the beginning as the instrument by
means of which Jesus was put to death?

In the whole of Christendom it passes as a settled matter that Jesus
“died upon the cross”; but this has the shape, as it is usually
represented among painters, of the so-called Latin cross, in which the
horizontal crosspiece is shorter than the vertical beam. On what then
does the opinion rest that the cross is the gibbet? The Evangelists
themselves give us no information on this point. The Jews described
the instrument which they made use of in executions by the expression
“wood” or “tree.” Under this description it often occurs in the Greek
translation of the Old Testament, in which the gibbet is rendered by
xulon, the same expression being also found in the Gospels. Usually,
however, the gibbet is described as stauros (i.e., stake), so much
so that stauros and xulon pass for synonyms. The Latin translation of
both these words is crux. By this the Romans understood any apparatus
for the execution of men generally, without thinking, however, as a
rule of anything else than a stake or gallows (patibulum, stipes) upon
which, as Livy tells us, the delinquent was bound with chains or ropes
and so delivered over to death. [260] That the method of execution in
Palestine differed in any way from this is not in any way shown. Among
the Jews also the condemned used to be hanged upon a simple stake or
beam, and exposed to a lingering death from heat, hunger, and thirst,
as well as from the natural tension of his muscles. “To fasten to the
cross” (stauroun, afigere cruci) accordingly does not mean either in
East or West to crucify in our sense, but at first simply “to torture”
or “martyr,” and later “to hang upon a stake or gallows.” And in this
connection it appears that the piercing of hands and feet with nails,
at least at the time at which the execution of Jesus is supposed to
have occurred, was something quite unusual, if it was ever employed
at all. The expressions prospassaleuein and proseloun, moreover,
usually signify only to “fasten,” “to hang upon a nail,” but not at
all “to nail to” in the special sense required. [261]

There is not then the least occasion for assuming that according to
original Christian views an exception to this mode of proceeding was
made at the execution of Jesus. The only place in the Gospels where
there is any mention of the “marks of the nails” (viz., John xx. 25)
belongs, as does the whole Gospel, to a relatively later time,
and appears, as does so much in John, as a mere strengthening and
exaggeration of the original story. For example, Luke xxiv. 39, upon
which John is based, does not speak at all of nail-marks, but merely
of the marks of the wounds which the condemned must naturally have
received as a consequence of being fastened to the stake. Accordingly
the idea that Christ was “nailed” to the cross was in the earliest
Christianity by no means the ruling one. Ambrose, for example, only
speaks of the “cords” of the “cross” and the “ligatures of the passion”
(“usque ad crucis laqueos ac retia passionis”), [262] and consequently
knew nothing of nails having been used in this case. [263] If we
consider that the “crucifixion” of Jesus corresponds to the hanging
of Attis, Osiris, and so forth, and that the idea of the gibbeted
gods of Nearer Asia called forth and fixed the Christian view; if we
remember that Haman, the prototype of Jesus at the Purim feast, was
also hanged upon a gallows, [264] then it becomes doubly improbable
that our present ideas on the matter correspond to the views of
the early Christians. For although we have no direct picture of the
hanging of those Gods, yet we possess representations of the execution
of Marsyas by Apollo, in which the God has his rival hauled up on to a
tree by ropes round his wrists, which have been bound together. [265]
But Marsyas, the inventor of the flute, the friend and guide of Cybele
in the search for the lost Attis, is no other than the latter himself,
or at any rate a personality very near akin to Attis. [266] It is not
difficult to conclude that Attis too, or the man who represented him
in the rites, was hung in the same manner to the stake or tree-trunk
and thus put to death. Thus it seems that originally the manner of
death of the Jewish Messiah was imagined in the same way, and so the
heathens too called the new God in scorn “the Hanged One.”

How, then, did the idea come into existence that Jesus did not die upon
a simple gallows, but rather upon wood having the well-known form of
the cross? It arose out of a misunderstanding, from considering as
the same and mingling two ideas which were originally distinct but
described by the same word wood, tree, xulon, lignum, arbor. This word
signifies, as we have already said, on the one hand indeed the stake
or gallows (stauros, crux) upon which the criminal was executed; but
the same word, corresponding to the Hebrew text of the Old Testament,
also referred to the “wood,” “the tree of life,” which was supposed
to stand in Paradise. According to the Revelation of John it was to
serve as food for the holy in the new Paradise to come, [267] and it
was honoured by the Christians as the “seal” and guarantee of their
salvation under the form of the mystic cross or Tau.

In all private religious associations and secret cults of later
antiquity the members made use of a secret sign of recognition or
union. This they carried about in the form, in some cases, of wooden,
bronze, or silver amulets hung round the neck or concealed beneath
the clothes, in others woven in their garments, or tattooed upon the
forehead, neck, breast, hands, &c. Among these signs was the cross,
and it was usually described under the name “Tau,” after the letter
of the old Phoenician alphabet. Such an application of the cross
to mystic or religious ends reaches back into grey antiquity. From
of old the cross was in use in the cult of the Egyptian Gods,
especially of Isis and Horus. It was also found among the Assyrians
and Persians, serving, as the pictures show, in part as the mark
and ornament of distinguished persons, such as priests and kings,
in part also as a religious attribute in the hands of the Gods and
their worshippers. According to some it was the sign which Jahwe
ordered the Israelites to paint upon their doors with the blood of
the lamb when he sent the angel of death to destroy the first-born of
their Egyptian oppressors. It played a similar part also in Isaiah
[268] and Ezekiel, [269] when it was a question of separating
the god-fearing Israelites from the crowd of other men whom Jahwe
purposed to destroy. When the Israelites were pressed in battle by
the Amalekites Moses is said to have been helped by Aaron and Hur to
stretch out his arms in the shape of that magic sign, and thus to have
rendered possible a victory for his people over their enemies. [270]
Among the other nations of antiquity also–the Greeks, Thracians,
the Gaulish Druids, and so on–the Tau was applied in a similar
manner to ritualistic and mystic ends. It appears as an ornament
on the images of the most different divinities and heroes–e.g.,
Apollo, Dionysus, Demeter, Diana (the Phoenician Astarte). It is also
found upon innumerable Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Phoenician coins,
upon vases, pictures, jewellery, &c. In Alexandria the Christians
found it chiselled upon the stone when the temple of Serapis was
destroyed, in 391. In this temple Serapis himself was represented
of superhuman size, with arms outstretched in the form of a cross,
as though embracing the universe. In Rome the Vestal virgins wore
the cross upon a ribbon round the neck. Indeed, it even served as an
ornament upon the weapons of the Roman legions and upon the standards
of the cavalry long before Constantine, by his well-known “vision,”
gave occasion for its being expressly introduced under the form of the
so-called “Monogram of Christ” into the army as a military sign. [271]
But in the North also we find the cross, not only in the shape of the
hooked-cross and the three-armed cross (Triskele), but also in the form
of Thor’s hammer, upon runic, stones, weapons, utensils, ornaments,
amulets, &c. And when the heathens of the North, as Snorre informs us,
marked themselves in the hour of death with a spear, they scratched
upon their bodies one of the sacred signs that has been mentioned,
in doing which they dedicated themselves to God. [272]

That here we have to do with a sun symbol is easily recognised wherever
the simple, equally-armed cross appears duplicated with an oblique
cross having the same point of intersection with it, [eight ray star
symbol], or where it has the shape of a perpendicular which is cut
symmetrically by two other lines crossing one another, [six ray star
symbol]. And as a matter of fact this symbol of a sun shedding
its rays is found upon numberless coins and illustrations, in which
it is obvious that a reference to the sun is intended–e.g., upon
the coins of the Egyptian Ptolemies, of the city Gods of Rome, of
Augustus and the Flavian Caesars. Here the Sun sign appears to have
been adopted as a consequence of the fusing of the Sun Cult of later
antiquity with the cult of the Emperor. Much more frequent, however,
is the simple Tau, sometimes, indeed, in a shape with equal limbs
(Greek cross), +, sometimes with the upright below lengthened (Latin
cross), sometimes upright, sometimes oblique (St. Andrew’s cross), x,
sometimes, again, like the Greek letter Tau, T, sometimes in the
shape of the so-called mirror of Venus, [Venus symbol], in which the
ring plainly refers to the sun, sometimes in that of the Svastika,
or hooked cross, [swastika], sometimes with, sometimes without a
circle, and so on. A form made up of the oblique and the ring cross
of the Egyptians (so-called Key of the Nile) is the cross known under
the description of the “Monogram of Christ.” According to the legend
it was first employed by Constantine on account of his “vision”; and
ecclesiastical writers, especially on the Catholic side, try even
to-day to support this view, in spite of all facts. For this form of
the cross also is clearly of pre-Christian origin, and had its
prototype in the ancient Bactrian Labarum cross, as is found, for
example, upon the coins of the Bactrian king Hippostratos (about
130 B.C.), of the Egyptian Ptolemies, of Mithridates, upon Attic
Tetradrachma, &c. [273]

After the careful investigations on this subject which have been
undertaken by French savants especially, there can be no doubt that
we have before us in this so-called “seal” of the Gods and religious
personalities a symbol of the creative force of nature, of the
resurrection and the new life, a pledge of divine protection in this
world and of everlasting blessedness after. As such it appears upon
heathen sarcophagi and tombstones; and on this account in some cases
their Christian character is too quickly assumed. Moreover, the cross
has been preserved in present-day musical notation as the sign of the
raising of a note, [274] while its use in the Mysteries and private
Cult associations is authority for the statement that precisely in
these the thought of a new-birth and resurrection in company with the
hero of the association or God of the union stood as a central point
of faith. One understands the painful feeling of the Christians at the
fact that the private sign used by them and their special sacraments
were in use among all the secret cults of antiquity. They could explain
this to themselves only as the work of spiteful daemons and an evil
imitation of Christian usages on the heathens’ part. [275] In reality
the symbol of the cross is much older than Christianity; and, indeed,
the sign of the cross is found associated in a special manner with the
cult of divinities of nature or life with its alternations of birth,
blossoming, and decay, representatives of the fertility and creative
force of nature, the Light-Gods and Sun-Gods subjected to death and
triumphing victoriously over it. It is only as such, as Gods who
died and rose again, that they were divinities of the soul and so of
the Mysteries and pious fraternities. The idea of the soul, however,
is found everywhere in nature religion considered as being connected
with the warmth of life and with fire, just as the sun was honoured as
the highest divinity and, so to speak, as the visible manifestation
of the world-soul solely on account of its fiery nature. Should not,
then, the symbol of life, which in its developed form plainly refers
to the sun, in its simplest and original shape point to the fire,
this “earliest phenomenon” of all religious worship?

Naturally, indeed, different views can be held as to what the various
forms of the cross betoken. Thus, for example, according to Burnouf,
Schliemann, and others, the Svastika represents the “fire’s cradle,”
i.e., the pith of the wood, from which in oldest times in the point
of intersection of the two arms the fire was produced by whirling
round an inserted stick. [276] On the other hand, according to the
view most widespread at the present day, it simply symbolises the
twirling movement when making the fire, and on this, too, rests its
application as symbol of the sun’s course. [277] Hochart considers
the cross in the shape of the Greek Tau as the inserted stick
(pramantha) of the Vedic priests. [278] Very likely, however, this
form arose simply through the identity of sound between the Greek and
Phoenician letter, the Greeks having interchanged the like-sounding
foreign letter with their own Tau. That the cross generally speaking,
however, is connected with the Fire Cult, and that both parts of the
sign originally contained a reference to the pieces of wood (arani)
of which in most ancient times use was made to produce fire, has
been placed beyond doubt by the investigations into the matter. This
is confirmed inter alia by the use of the symbol in the worship of
the Vestals, the Roman fire-priestesses. This is the explanation
of the wide extent of the symbol of the cross. Not only among the
peoples of antiquity and in Europe, but also in Asia among the
Indians and Chinese, it is in use from ancient times. In America,
too, among the Mexicans and Incas, it played a part in worship
long before the arrival of Europeans. In the same way is explained
the close association of that symbol with the priestly office and
kingly dignity, which was itself often connected with that office;
similarly the intimate relations between the sign of the cross and the
Gods of Fertility, Vegetation, and Seasons. For all of these were, as
representatives of the warmth of life and the soul’s breath, in their
deepest nature, Fire-Gods special aspects, closer characterisations
and connections of that one divinity, of whom the oldest form known
to us is in the Vedic Agni, and in whose service the priests of all
peoples and times grew to their overwhelming strength. [279] Julius
Firmicus Maternus was thus quite right when he declared that Mithras,
whose followers bore the sign of the cross upon their foreheads and
at their communion-meal had the cross, imprinted upon the holy loaf,
before their eyes, was an ancient Fire-God. [280] But if the cross is
the symbol of fire and also of the Mediator God, who brings earth and
heaven into connection, then the reason can be found why Plato in the
“Timaeus” makes the World Soul in the form of a Chi, i.e., an oblique
cross, stretched between heaven and earth. [281] Then, indeed, it is
not strange that the Christians of the first century regarded as an
inspiration of the devil Plato’s doctrine of the mediatory office of
the “double-natured” World Soul, which, according to that philosopher,
was formed from a mixture of ideal and sensible matter. It is not
strange that a Justin, “the most foolish of the Christian fathers”
(Robertson), could actually assert that Plato borrowed the idea,
as well as that of a world-conflagration, from–Moses. [282]

In the Old Testament also, as was shown above, we meet the cross. Here
it served as a mark of recognition and distinction of the God-fearing
Israelites from the heathen, and as a magic sign. With a similar
significance we meet it again in the New Testament. In the Revelation
of John it appears as “the seal (sphragis) of the living God.” By it
here, too, are the chosen ones of Israel marked off from the rest of
mankind whom judgment has overtaken. At the same time, it is said
that this sign is imprinted upon the foreheads of the inhabitants
of the true Jerusalem. [283] In the Epistles to the Galatians and
Ephesians it is said of the believers in Christ that they were
“sealed” before God by the mystic sign upon their foreheads, hands,
or feet. The sign thus serves them as a pledge of redemption. [284]
Again, in the Epistle of Barnabas ix. 8, the cross contained in the
letter T is expressly interpreted as (charis) “grace.” Under the
form of the Greek Tau the cross appears during the first century
of the Christian era, especially among the Christians in Egypt, and
according to many was a symbol of Adonis or Tammuz. [285] Now since
the expressions xulon and stauros, lignum and crux, were of double
significance and denoted both the “seal” of religious salvation and
the gibbet, it is possible that the two different significations
became of themselves identical in the minds of the faithful. [286]
This was possible so much the more easily since the biblical account
placed by the side of the “tree of life” in Paradise a “tree of
death,” the fateful “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” which
was supposed to have been accountable for the death of Adam and so of
the whole of mankind, and as such made the comparison possible with
the wood upon which Jesus died. We meet again with a special form of
the cross in the old Assyrian or Babylonian so-called “mystical tree
of mystery,” which was also a symbol of life. Among the Persians it
appears to have had some reference to the holy Haoma tree; and here,
too, as well as in India, where it was connected with the Bodhi tree,
under which Sakyamuni by his devout humility rose to be a Buddha,
it was represented in the artificial shape of a many-armed cross. [287]

One and the same word, then (xulon, crux), betokens both the gibbet
and the pledge of life. Christ himself appears as the true “Tree of
Life,” as the original of that miraculous tree the sight of which
gave life to the first man in Paradise, which will be the food of the
blessed in the world to come, and is represented symbolically by the
mystical cross. It was easy to unite the ideas connected with those
expressions, to look upon the “seal” of Christ (to semeion tou staurou,
signum crucis) as the cross upon which he suffered, and vice-versa,
and to ascribe to the “wood” upon which Jesus is supposed to have died,
the shape of the mystic sign, the Tau, or cross. The heathens had been
accustomed to regard the stake upon which their Gods were hanged both
as the representative of the God in question and the symbol of life
and fruitfulness. For example, the stake furnished with four oblique
sticks (like a telegraph post), which went by the name of the tatu,
tat, dad, or ded and was planted at the feast of Osiris in Egypt, often
had a rough picture of the God painted upon it, as also the pine-tree
trunk of Attis, in which connection the idea that the seed contained
in the cones of the rock-pine from of old had served men as food,
while the sap found in them was prepared into an intoxicating drink
(Soma), played its part. [288] We are reminded also of the Germanic
custom of the planting of the may-tree. This was not only a symbol
of the Spring God, but also represented the life bestowed by him. In
the same way the cross did not appear to the Christians originally
as the form of the gibbet upon which God died, but as “the tree of
life,” the symbol of the new birth and redemption. Since, however,
the word for the mystical sign was identical with the expression for
the gibbet, the double meaning led to the gibbet of Jesus being looked
upon as the symbol of life and redemption, and the idea of the gibbet
was mingled with that of the cross, the shape of the latter being
imagined for the former. As Justin in his conversation with the Jew
Trypho informs us, the Jews used to run a spit lengthwise through
the whole body of the Paschal lamb and another cross-wise through
its breast, upon which the forefeet were fastened, so that the two
spits made the shape of a cross. This was to them obviously not a
symbol of execution but rather the sign of reconcilement with Jahwe
and of the new life thereon depending. For the Christians, however,
who compared their Saviour with the Paschal lamb, this may have been an
additional cause for the above-mentioned commingling of ideas, and this
may have strengthened them in the conception that their God died upon
the “cross.” The Phrygians, moreover, according to Firmicus Maternus,
at the Spring Feast of Attis, used to fasten a ram or lamb at the foot
of the fig-tree trunk on which the image of their God was hung. [289]

In agreement with this view is the fact that the earliest
representations of Christ in connection with the cross had for their
subject not the suffering and crucified, but the miraculous Saviour
triumphing over sickness and death. He appeared as a youthful God
with the Book of the Law, the Gospel, in his hand, the lamb at his
feet, the cross upon his head or in his right hand, just as the
heathen Gods, a Jupiter, or some crowned ruler, used to be depicted
with a cross-shaped sceptre. Or Jesus’ head was placed before the
cross, and this in the orb of the sun–and exactly at the point of
intersection of the arms of the cross, thus at the place where one
otherwise finds the lamb. Even the Church, probably with a right
feeling of the identity of Agnus and Agni, and in order to remove
the connection of ideas therein contained, in the year 692, by the
Quinisext Synod (in Trullo), forbade the pictures of the lamb and
required the representation to be of the Saviour’s human shape. In
spite of this even then they did not represent “the Crucified” in
the present-day sense of the word, but portrayed Christ in the form
of one standing before the cross praying with outstretched arms. Or
he was shown risen from the grave, or standing upon the Gospels at
the foot of the cross, out of this arising later the support for the
feet in the pictures of him crucified. Here he was represented with
open eyes, with his head encircled by the sun’s orb. In all of these
different representations accordingly the cross only brought again
before the eyes in symbolical form what was at the same time expressed
by the figure of Christ standing at the cross, just as at the feasts
of Osiris or Attis the God was doubly represented, both in his true
shape (as image or puppet) and in the symbolical form of the Jatu or
pine-tree trunk. This mode of depicting Christ lasted a long while,
even though as early as the fifth or sixth century mention is made
of crucifixion, and in arbitrary interpretation of Psa. xxii. 17
he was depicted with the marks of the nails. For, as has been said,
“crux” betokens both the gibbet and the mystical sign, and the marks
of the nails served to symbolise the Saviour’s triumph over pain and
death. An ivory plate in the British Museum in London, mentioned and
copied by Kraus, [290] is considered the oldest representation of a
crucifixion in our present sense. It is said to be of fifth-century
origin. This assignment of date is, however, just as uncertain as
the other, according to which the miniature from the Syrian Gospel
manuscript of the monk Rabula of the monastery of Zagba in Mesopotamia,
which also has the crucifixion for subject and is to be found in the
Bibliotheca Laurenziana at Florence, is assigned to the year 586. In
any case, as a general rule until the eleventh century it was not
the dead but the living Christ who was depicted before or on the
cross. Consequently an illustration in the Bibliotheca Laurenziana
of about the date 1060 is considered as the first certain example of
a dead crucified Christ. [291]

The conception of Christ being put to death upon the cross is,
comparatively speaking, a late one. The connection of Christ
with the cross was originally not a reproduction of the manner
of his death. It rather symbolises, as in the ancient Mysteries,
precisely the reverse–the victory of the Christian Cult-God over
death–the idea of resurrection and life. Hence it is obvious that
the above-mentioned juxtaposition of the cross and lamb must have
expressed the same idea. Here, too, the cross was originally only
the symbol of fire and life. The lamb encircled by the sun’s orb
refers to the ceremonial burning of the lamb at the spring equinox
as an expiatory sacrifice and as a pledge of a new life. It appears
the more plainly to be a figure of Agni (Agnus), since it is usually
placed exactly at the point of intersection of the two arms–that is,
at the place whence the divine spark first issued at the kindling of
the fire with the two arani. [292]




The faith in a Jesus had been for a long time in existence among
innumerable Mandaic sects in Asia Minor, which differed in many
ways from each other, before this faith obtained a definite shape in
the religion of Jesus, and its adherents became conscious of their
religious peculiarities and their divergence from the official Jewish
religion. The first evidence of such a consciousness, and also the
first brilliant outline of a new religion developed with Jesus as
its central idea, lies in the epistles of the tent-maker of Tarsus,
the pilgrim-apostle Paul.

Of the epistles in his name which have been handed down to us, that to
the Hebrews is quite certainly not Paul’s. But also the two epistles
to the Thessalonians, that to the Ephesians, as well as the so-called
pastoral epistles (to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon), are considered
by the overwhelming majority of theologians to be forgeries; and also
the authenticity of the epistles to the Colossians and Philippians
is negatived by considerations of great weight. But with all the
more certainty modern critical theologians believe that Paul was the
writer of the four great didactic epistles–one to the Galatians,
two to the Corinthians, and one to the Romans; and they are wont
to set aside all suspicion of these epistles as a “grave error”
of historical hypercriticism.

In opposition to this view the authenticity of even these epistles is
contested, apart from Bruno Bauer, especially by Dutch theologians,
by Pierson, Loman, von Mauen, Meyboom, Matthes, and others; and, in
addition, recently the Bern theologian R. Steck, and B. W. Smith,
Professor of Mathematics in the Tulane University of New Orleans,
with whom the late Pastor Albert Kalthoff of Bremen was associated,
have contested the traditional view with objections that deserve
consideration. They have attempted to prove the Pauline epistles, as a
literary product, to be the work of a whole school of second-century
theologians, authors who either simultaneously or successively wrote
for the growing Church.

This much is certain–a conclusive proof that Paul was really the
author of the epistles current in his name cannot be given. With
regard to this it must always remain a ground for doubt that Luke,
who accompanied Paul on his missionary travels, was completely silent
as to such literary activity of the apostle; and this, although he
devoted the greatest portion of his account in the Acts to Paul’s
activities. [293] Also the proof given by Smith, that the Pauline
epistles were as yet completely unknown in the first century a.d.,
that in particular the existence of the Epistle to the Romans is not
testified to before the middle of the second century, must speak
seriously against Paul’s authorship, and is evidence that those
epistles cannot be accepted as the primary source of the Pauline
doctrines. For this reason it can in no way be asserted that the
critical theology of last century has “scientifically and beyond
question established” [294] the authenticity of the Pauline writings.

It is well known that the ancient world was not as yet in possession of
the idea of literary individuality in our sense of the word. At that
time innumerable works were circulated bearing famous names, whose
authors had neither at the time nor probably at any time anything
to do with the men who bore those names. Many such productions were
circulated among the members of Sects of antiquity, which passed,
for example, under the names of Orpheus, of Pythagoras, of Zoroaster,
&c., and thereby sought to procure the canonical acceptance of their
contents! Of the works of the Old Testament neither the Psalms, nor
the Proverbs, nor the so-called Preacher, nor the Book of Wisdom,
can be connected with the historical kings David and Solomon, whose
names they bear; and the prophet Daniel is just such a fictitious
personality as the Enoch and the Ezra of the Apocalypses known under
their names. Even the so-called Five Books of Moses are the literary
product of an age much later than the one in which Moses is supposed
to have lived, while Joshua is the name of an old Israelite God after
whom the book in question is called. [295] There has never anywhere
been such a Moses as the one described in the Old Testament.

The possibility of the so-called Pauline epistles having been the work
of later theologians, and of having been christened in the name of
Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, only to increase their authority in
the community, is therefore by no means excluded; especially when we
consider how exuberantly literary falsifications and “pious frauds”
flourished in the first century, and at other times also, in the
interests of the Christian Church. Indeed, at that time they even
dared, as is shown by Christian documents of the second century,
to alter the very text of the Old Testament, and thereby, as they
used to say, to “elucidate” it. Already in the middle of the second
century Marcion, the Gnostic, reproached the Church with possessing
the Pauline epistles only in a garbled form, and who can say whether
it was a false accusation? He himself undertook to restore the correct
text by excisions and completions. [296]

But let us leave completely on one side the question of the
authenticity of the Pauline epistles, a question absolute agreement
on which will probably never be attained, for the simple reason
that we lack any certain basis for its decision. Instead of this let
us turn rather to what we learn from these epistles concerning the
historical Jesus.

There we meet in the first place with the fact, testified to by Paul
himself, that the Saviour revealed himself in person to him, and at
the same time caused him to enter his service (Gal. i. 12). It was,
as is stated in the Acts, on the way to Damascus that suddenly there
shone round about him a light out of heaven, while a voice summoned
him to cease his former persecution of the community of the Messiah,
and revealed itself to him as Jesus. [297] There is no need to doubt
the fact itself; but to see in it a proof of the historical Jesus
is reserved for those theologians who have discovered the splendid
conception of an “objective vision,” basing the objective reality of
the vision in question on Paul’s life in the desert. It was obviously
only an “inner vision,” which the “visionary” and “epileptic” Paul
attributed to Jesus; and for this reason it proves nothing as to
the existence of an historical Jesus when he asks, 1 Cor. ix. 1,
“Have I not seen our Lord Jesus?” and remarks, 1 Cor. xv. 9, “Last
of all he appeared to me also.”

It only proves the dilemma of theologians on the whole question
that they have recently asserted that Paul, notwithstanding his own
protestations (Gal. i.), must have had a personal knowledge of the
historical Jesus, as otherwise on the occasion at Damascus he could
not have recognised the features and voice of the transfigured Jesus,
not being already acquainted with them from some other quarter! With
equal justice we might assert that the heathens also, who had visions
of their Gods, must previously have known them personally, as otherwise
they could not have known that Zeus or Athene or any other definite
God had appeared to them. In the Acts we read only of an apparition
of light which Paul saw, and of a voice which called to him, “Saul,
why persecutest thou me?” Is the supposition referred to necessary
to account for the fact that Paul, the persecutor of Jesus, referred
the voice and the vision to Jesus?

The case is similar with Paul’s testimony as to those who, like
him, saw the Saviour after his death. [298] It is possible that
the people concerned saw something, that they saw a Jesus “risen
up” in heavenly transfiguration; but that this was the Jesus of the
so-called historical theology, whose existence is hereby established,
even its supporters would not in all probability insist upon; for in
their view the historical Jesus had in no way risen from the dead:
but here also there would only be question of a purely subjective
vision of the ecstatically excited disciples. Moreover, the passage
of the Epistle to the Corinthians in question (5-11) seems clearly
to be one at least very much interpolated, if it is not entirely
an after-insertion. Thus, the Risen Jesus is said to have been seen
by “more than five hundred Brethren at once.” But of this the four
Gospels know nothing; and also, according to xv. 5, that “the twelve”
had the vision, would lead us to suspect that it was first inserted
in the text at a much later date. [299]

Paul himself never disguised the fact that he had seen Jesus, not
with mortal eyes, but only with those of the Spirit, as an inner
revelation. “It has pleased God,” he says (Gal. i. 16), “to reveal his
Son within me.” [300] He confesses that the Gospel preached by him was
not “of men,” that he neither received nor learnt it from any man,
but that he had obtained it directly from the heavenly Christ and
was inspired by the Holy Ghost. [301] He seems also to have had no
interest at all in giving accurate information as to the personality
of Jesus, as to his fortunes and teachings. When three years after
his conversion he first returns to Jerusalem, he visits only Peter
and makes the acquaintance of James during the fourteen days of his
stay there, troubling himself about none of the other apostles. [302]
But when, fourteen years after, he meets with the “First Apostles” in
the so-called Council of the Apostles in Jerusalem, he does not set
about learning from them, but teaching them and procuring from them
recognition of his own missionary activity; and he himself declares
that he spoke with them only on the method of proclaiming the Gospel,
but not on its religious content or on the personality of the historic
Jesus. [303]

Certainly that James whose acquaintance Paul made in Jerusalem is
designated by him as the “Brother of the Lord”; [304] and from this it
seems to follow that Jesus must have been an historical person. The
expression “Brother,” however, is possibly in this case, as so
often in the Gospels, [305] only a general expression to designate a
follower of Jesus, as the members of a religious society in antiquity
frequently called each other “Brother” and “Sister” among themselves. 1
Cor. ix. 5 runs: “Have we [i.e., Paul and Barnabas] not also right to
take about with us a wife that is a sister, even as the other Apostles
and Brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” There it is evident that the
expression by no means necessarily refers to bodily relationship,
but that “Brother” serves only to designate the followers of the
religion of Jesus. [306] Accordingly Jerome seems to have hit the
truth exactly when, commenting on Gal. i. 19, he writes: “James was
called the Brother of the Lord on account of his great character
[though the Pauline epistles certainly show the opposite of this],
of his incomparable faith and extraordinary wisdom. The other Apostles
were as a matter of fact also called Brothers, but he was specially so
called, because the Lord at his death had confided to him the sons of
his mother” (i.e., the members of the community at Jerusalem). [307]
And how then should Paul have met with a physical brother of that
very Jesus whom, as will be shown, he could only treat as a myth in
other respects? The thing is, considered now purely psychologically,
so improbable that no conclusion can in any case be drawn from the
expression concerning James as the Brother of the Lord as to the
historical existence of Jesus; especially in view of the fact that
theologians from the second century to the present day have been unable
to come to an agreement as to the true blood-relationship between
James and Jesus. [308] Moreover, if we consider how the glorification
of James came into fashion in anti-Pauline circles of the second
century, and how customary it was to connect the chief of the Jewish
Christians at Jerusalem as closely as possible with Jesus himself
(e.g., Hegesippus, in the so-called Epistles of Clement, in the Gospel
of the Nazarenes, &c.), the suspicion forces itself on us that the
Pauline mention of James as “the Brother of the Lord” is perhaps only
an after-insertion in the Epistle to the Galatians in order thereby
to have the bodily relationship between James and Jesus confirmed by
Paul himself. [309] Jesus’ parents are not historical personalities
(see above, 117 ff.); and it is probably the same with his brothers
and sisters. Also Paul never refers to the testimony of the brothers
or of the disciples of Jesus concerning their Master; though this
would have been most reasonable had they really known any more of
Jesus than he himself did. “He bases,” as Kalthoff justly objects,
“not a single one of his most incisive polemical arguments against
the adherents of the law on the ground that he had the historical
Jesus on his side; but he gives his own detailed theological ideas
without mentioning an historical Jesus, he gives a gospel of Christ,
not the gospel which he had heard at first, second, or third hand
concerning a human individual Jesus.” [310]

From Paul, therefore, there is nothing of a detailed nature to be
learnt about the historical Jesus. The apostle does indeed occasionally
refer to the words and opinions of the “Lord,” as with regard to the
prohibition of divorce, [311] or to the right of the apostles to be
fed by the community. [312] But as the exact words are not given there
is no express reference to an historical individual of the name of
Jesus; and so we are persuaded that we here have to do with mere rules
of a community such as were current and had canonical significance
everywhere in the religious unions as “Words of the Master,” i.e., of
the patrons and celebrities of the community (cf. the “autos epha:
he himself, viz., the Master, has said it” of the Pythagoreans). Only
once, 1 Cor. xi. 23 sq., where Paul quotes the words at the Last
Supper, does the apostle apparently refer to an experience of the
“historical” Jesus: “The Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was
betrayed, took bread,” &c. [313] Unfortunately here we have to do with
what is clearly a later insertion. The passage is obscure throughout
(vers. 23-32), and through its violent and confusing interruption of
the Pauline line of thought may be recognised as an after-insertion in
the original text, as is even acknowledged by many on the theological
side. [314] Paul says that he had obtained these things from the
“Lord” himself. Does this mean that they were directly “revealed”
to him by the transfigured Jesus? It seems much more reasonable to
believe that he took them from a religion already existing. This
could indeed refer at most only to the words of the Last Supper in
themselves. On the other hand, the words “in the night in which he
was betrayed” are certainly an addition. They will do neither in the
connection of a “revelation” nor of an existing religion, but stand
there completely by themselves as a reference to a real event in the
life of Jesus; and so, for this alone, they form much too small a
basis for testimony as to its historical truth. [315]

All expressions concerning Jesus which are found in Paul are
accordingly of no consequence for the hypothesis of an historical
person of that name. The so-called “words of the Lord” quoted by him
refer to quite unimportant points in the teachings of Jesus. And, on
the other hand, Paul is just as silent on those points in which modern
critical theology finds the particular greatness and importance of
this teaching; as, e.g., on Jesus’ confidence in the divine goodness
of the Father, his command of the love of our neighbours as the
fulfilment of the Law, his sermon about humility and charity, his
warning against the over-esteem of worldly goods, &c., as on Jesus’
personality, his trust in God, and his activity among his people. [316]

Paul did not give himself the least trouble to bring the Saviour as a
man nearer to his readers. He seems to know nothing of any miraculous
power in Jesus. He says nothing of his sympathy with the poor and
oppressed, though surely just this would have been specially adapted
to turn the hearts of men towards his Jesus and to make an impression
on the multitude that sought for miracles. All the moral-religious
precepts and exhortations of Jesus are neither employed by Paul as
a means of proselytising for him, nor in any way used to place his
individuality in opposition to his prophetic precursors in a right
light, as is the case in the Christian literature of the present
day. “Thus, just those thoughts, which Protestant theologians
claim as the particular domain of their historical Jesus, appear
in the epistles independently of this Jesus, as individual moral
effusions of the apostolic consciousness; while Christian social
rules, which the same theologians consider additions to the story,
are introduced directly as rules of the Lord. For this reason the
Christ of the Pauline epistles may rather be cited as a case against
critical theologians than serve as a proof for the historical Jesus
in their sense.” [317] Even so zealous a champion of this theology
as Wernle must admit: “We learn from Paul least of all concerning
the person and life of Jesus. Were all his epistles lost we should
know not much less of Jesus than at present.” Immediately after this,
however, this very author consoles himself with the consideration that
in a certain sense Paul gave us even more than the most exact and
the most copious records could give. “We learn from him that a man
(?) Jesus, in spite of his death on the cross, was able to develop
such a power after his death, that Paul knew himself to be mastered,
redeemed, and blessed by him; and this in so marked a way that he
separated his own life and the whole world into two parts: without
Jesus, with Jesus. This is a fact which, explain it as we may, purely
as a fact excites our wonder (!) and compels us to think highly of
Jesus.” [318] What does excite our wonder is this style of historical
“demonstration.” And then how peculiar it is to read, from the silence
of an author like Paul concerning the historical Jesus, an argument
in its favour! As if it does not rather prove the unimportance of
such a personality for the genesis of Christianity! As if the fact
that Paul erected a religious-metaphysical thought construction of
undoubted magnificence must necessarily be based on the “overwhelming
impression of the person of Jesus,” of the same Jesus of whom Paul had
no personal knowledge at all! The disciples–who are supposed to have
been in touch with Jesus for many years–Paul strenuously avoided, and
of the existence of this Jesus no other signs are to be found in his
epistles but such as may have quite a different meaning. Or did Paul,
as historical theology says, reveal more of Jesus in his sermons than
he did in the epistles? Surely that could only be maintained after
it was first established that in his account Paul had in view any
historical Jesus at all.

This seems to be completely problematic. The “humanity” of Jesus stands
as the central point of the Pauline idea. And yet the Jesus painted by
Paul is not a man, but a purely divine personality, a heavenly spirit
without flesh and blood, an unindividual superhuman phantom. He is
the “Son of God” made manifest in Paul; the Messiah foretold by the
Jewish Apocalyptics; the pre-existing “Son of Man” of Daniel and his
followers; the spiritual “ideal man” as he appeared in the minds of
the Jews influenced by Platonic ideas; whom also Philo knew as the
metaphysical prototype of ordinary sensual humanity and thought he had
found typified to in Gen. i. 27. He is the “great man” of the Indian
legends, who was supposed to have appeared also in Buddha and in other
Redeemer figures–the Purusha of the Vedic Brahmans, the Manda de hajje
and Hibil Ziwa of the Mandaic religion influenced by Indian ideas, the
tribe-God of syncretised Judaism. The knowledge which Paul has of this
Being is for this reason not an ordinary acquaintance from teachings,
but a Gnosis, an immediate consciousness, a “knowledge inspired”;
and all the statements which he makes concerning it fall within the
sphere of theosophy, of religious speculation or metaphysics, but not
of history. As we have stated, the belief in such a Jesus had been
for a long time the property of Jewish sects, when Paul succeeded,
on the ground of his astounding personal experiences, in drawing it
into the light from the privacy of religious arcana, and setting it
up as the central point of a new religion distinct from Judaism.

“There was already in their minds a faith in a divine revealer,
a divine-human activity, in salvation to be obtained through
sacraments.” [319] Among the neighbouring heathen peoples for a
very long time, and in Jewish circles at least since the days of the
prophets, there had existed a belief in a divine mediator, a “Son of
God,” a “First-born of all creation,” in whom was made all that exists,
who came down upon earth, humbled himself in taking on a human form,
suffered for mankind a shameful death, but rose again victorious,
and in his elevation and transfiguration simultaneously renewed and
spiritualised the whole earth. [320] Then Paul appeared–in an age
which was permeated as no other with a longing for redemption; which,
overwhelmed by the gloom of its external relations, was possessed
with the fear of evil powers; which, penetrated with terror of the
imminent end of the world, was anxiously awaiting this event and
had lost faith in the saving power of the old religion–then he gave
such an expression to that belief as made it appear the only means of
escape from the confusion of present existence. Can the assumption
of an historical Jesus in the sense of the traditional conception
really be necessary, in order to account for the fact that men fled
impetuously to this new religion of Paul’s? Is it even probable that
the intelligent populations of the sea-ports of Asia Minor and Greece,
among whom in particular Paul preached the Gospel of Jesus, would
have turned towards Christianity for the reason that at some time or
other, ten or twenty years before, an itinerant preacher of the name
of Jesus had made an “overpowering” impression on ignorant fisher-folk
and workmen in Galilee or Jerusalem by his personal bearing and his
teachings, and had been believed by them to be the expected Messiah,
the renowned divine mediator and redeemer of the world? Paul did not
preach the man Jesus, but the heavenly spiritual being, Christ. [321]
The public to which Paul turned consisted for the most part of
Gentiles; and to these the conception of a spiritual being presented
no difficulties. It could have no strengthening, no guarantee, of
its truth, through proof of the manhood of Jesus. If the Christians
of the beginning of our own historical epoch had only been able to
gain faith in the God Christ through the Man Jesus, Paul would have
turned his attention from that which, to him, particularly mattered;
he would have obscured the individual meaning of his Gospel and brought
his whole religious speculation into a false position, by substituting
a man Jesus for the God-man Jesus as he understood him. [322]

Paul is said to have been born in the Greek city of Tarsus in Cilicia,
the son of Jewish parents. At that time Tarsus was, like Alexandria,
an important seat of Greek learning.

Here flourished the school of the younger Stoics, with its mixture of
old Stoic, Orphic, and Platonic ideas. Here the ethical principles
of that school were preached in a popular form, in street and
market-place, by orators of the people. It was not at all necessary for
Paul, brought up in the austerity of the Jewish religion of the Law,
to visit the lecture-rooms of the Stoic teachers in order to gain
a knowledge of Stoic views, for in Tarsus it was as though the air
was filled with that doctrine. Paul was certainly acquainted with
it. It sank so deeply into his mind, perhaps unknown to himself,
that his epistles are full of the expressions and ideas of the Stoic
philosopher Seneca, and to this are due the efforts which have been
made to make Seneca a pupil of Paul’s, or the reverse, to make Paul
a pupil of Seneca’s. A correspondence exists, which is admittedly a
forgery, pretending to have passed between the two.

Tarsus, in spite of its Eastern character, was a city saturated
with Greek learning and ways of thought, but not these alone. The
religious ideas and motives of the time found also a fruitful soil
there. In Tarsus the Hittite Sandan (Sardanapal) was worshipped,
a human being upon whom Dionysus had bestowed the godhead of life
and fecundity, who was identified by the Greeks either with Zeus, or
with Heracles, the divine “Son” of the “Father” Zeus. He passed as
the founder of the city, and was represented as a bearded man with
bunches of grapes and ears of corn, with a double-headed axe in his
right hand, standing on a lion or a funeral pyre; and every year it
was the custom for a human representative of the God, or in later
times his effigy, to be ceremoniously burnt on a pyre. [323] But
Tarsus was also at the same time a centre for the mystery-religions
of the East. The worship of Mithras, in particular, flourished there,
with its doctrine of the mystic death and re-birth of those received
into the communion, who were thereby purified from the guilt of
their past life and won a new immortal life in the “Spirit”; with
its sacred feast, at which the believers entered into a communion of
life with Mithra by partaking of the consecrated bread and chalice;
with its conception of the magic effect of the victim’s blood, which
washed away all sins; and with its ardent desire for redemption,
purification, and sanctification of the soul. [324] Paul was not
unaffected by these and similar ideas. His conception of the mystic
significance of Christ’s death shows that; in which conception the
whole of this type of religious thought is expressed, although in
a new setting. Indeed, the expression (Gal. iii. 27), in which the
baptized are said to have “put on” Christ, seems to be borrowed
directly from the Mithraic Mysteries. For in these, according to a
primitive animistic custom, the initiated of different degrees used
to be present in the masks of beasts, representing God’s existence
under diverse attributes; that is, they used to “put on” the Lord
in order to place themselves in innermost communion with him. Again,
the Pauline expression, that the consecrated chalice and bread at the
Lord’s Supper are the “communion of the blood and body of Christ,”
[325] reminds us too forcibly of the method of expression in the
Mysteries for this agreement to be purely a coincidence. [326]

If in such circumstances Paul, the citizen of Tarsus, heard of a Jewish
God of the name of Jesus, the ideas which were connected with him
were in no way quite new and unaccustomed. Nearer Asia was, indeed,
as we have seen, filled with the idea of a young and beautiful God,
who reanimated Nature by his death; with popular legends connected with
his violent end and glorious resurrection: and not merely in Tarsus,
but also in Cyprus and in countless other places of the Western Asiatic
civilised world, there was the yearly celebration in most impressive
fashion of the feast of this God, who was called Tammuz, Adonis,
Attis, Dionysus, Osiris, &c. Nowhere, perhaps, was the celebration
more magnificent than at Antioch, the Syrian capital. But at Antioch,
if we may believe the Acts [327] on this point, the Gospel of Jesus had
been preached even before Paul. Men of Cyprus and Cyrene are said to
have spoken there the Word of the dead and risen Christ, not only to
the Jews but also to the Greeks, and they are said to have converted
many of the heathens to the new “Lord.” The Acts tells us this after
it has recounted the persecution of the community of the Messiah at
Jerusalem; representing the spreading of the Gospel as a consequence
of the dispersion of the community that followed the persecution. It
seems, however, that Cyprus–where Adonis was particularly worshipped,
at Paphos–and Cyrene were very early centres from which missionaries
carried abroad the faith in Christ. [328] Consequently the Gospel was
in origin nothing but a Judaised and spiritualised Adonis cult. [329]
Those earliest missionaries of whom we hear would not have attacked
the faith of the Syrian heathens: they would have declared that Christ,
the Messiah, the God of the Jewish religions, was Adonis: Christ is the
“Lord”! They would only have attempted to draw the old native religion
of Adonis into the Jewish sphere of thought, and by this means to
carry on the Jewish propaganda which they could find everywhere at
work, and which developed an efficacy about the beginning of our
epoch such as it had never before possessed. They would carry on the
propaganda, not in the sense of the strict standpoint of the Law,
but of the Jewish Apocalypses and their religious teachings. [330]

Such a man as Paul, who had been educated in the school of Gamaliel
as a teacher of the Law of the strict Pharisaical sort, could not
indeed calmly look on while the heathen belief in Adonis, which he
must surely, even in his native city of Tarsus, have despised as a
blasphemous superstition, was uniting itself, in the new religious
sects, with the Jewish conceptions. “Cursed is he who is hung upon
the tree,” so it stood written in the Law; [331] and the ceremony of
the purification–at which one criminal was hung, amid the insults of
the people, as the scapegoat of the old year, while another was set
free as Mordecai, and driven with regal honours through the city,
being revered as representative of the new year–must have been in
his eyes only another proof of the disgrace of the tree, and of the
blasphemous character of a belief that honoured in the hanged man the
divine Saviour of the world, the Messiah expected by the Jews. Then
on a sudden there came over him as it were enlightenment. What if
the festivals of the Syrian Adonis, of the Phrygian Attis, and so on,
really treated of the self-sacrifice of a God who laid down his life
for the world? The guiltless martyrdom of an upright man as expiatory
means to the justification of his people was also not unknown to the
adherents of the Law since the days of the Maccabean martyrs. The
“suffering servant of God,” as Isaiah had portrayed him, suggests as
quite probable the idea that, just as among the heathen peoples, in
Israel also an individual might renew the life of all others by his
voluntary sacrifice. Might it not be true, as the adherents of the
Jesus-religions maintained, that the Messiah was really a “servant
of God,” and had already accomplished the work of redemption by
his own voluntary death? According to the heathen view, the people
were atoned for by the vicarious sacrifice of their God, and that
“justification” of all in the sight of the Godhead took place which
the pious Pharisee expected from the strict fulfilment of the Jewish
Law. And yet, when Paul compared the “righteousness” actually achieved
by himself and others with the ideal of righteousness for which they
strove, as it was required in the Law, then terror at the greatness
of the contrast between the ideal and the reality must have seized
him; and at the same time he might well have despaired of the divine
righteousness, which required of the people the fulfilment of the
Law, which weighed the people down with the thought of the imminent
end of the world, and which, through the very nature of its commands,
excluded the possibility of the Messiah meeting on his arrival, as he
should have done, with a “righteous” people. Were those who expected
the sanctification of humanity not from the fulfilment of the Law,
but immediately, through an infusion of God himself, really so much
in the wrong? It was not unusual among the heathen peoples for a
man to be sacrificed, in the place of the Deity, as a symbolical
representative; although already at the time of Paul it was the custom
to represent the self-sacrificing God only by an effigy, instead of
a real man. The important point, however, was not this, but the idea
which lay at the foundation of this divine self-sacrifice. And this
was not affected by the victim’s being a criminal, who was killed in
the role of the guiltless and upright man, and by the voluntariness
of his death being completely fictitious. Might it not also be,
as the believers in Jesus asserted, that the Messiah was not still
to be expected, and that only on the ground of human righteousness;
but that rather he had already appeared, and had already accomplished
the righteousness unattainable by the individual through his shameful
death and his glorious resurrection?

The moment in which this idea flashed through Paul’s mind was the
moment of the birth of Christianity as Paul’s religion. The form in
which he grasped that conception was that of an Incarnation of God;
and at the same time this form was such that he introduced with it
quite a new impulse into the former mode of thought. According to the
heathen conception a God did indeed sacrifice himself for his people,
without thereby ceasing to be God; and here the man sacrificed in the
place of God was considered merely as a chance representative of the
self-sacrificing God. According to the old view of the Jewish faith it
was really the “Son of Man,” a being of human nature, who was to come
down from heaven and effect the work of redemption, without, however,
being a real man and without suffering and dying in human form. With
Paul, on the contrary, the stress lay just on this, that the Redeemer
should be himself really a man, and that the man sacrificed in God’s
place should be equally the God appearing in human form: the man was
not merely a representation of God’s as a celestial and supernatural
being, but God himself appearing in human form. God himself becomes
man, and thereby a man is exalted to the Deity, and, as expiatory
representative for his people, can unite mankind with God. [332] The
man who is sacrificed for his people represents on the one hand his
people in the eyes of God, but on the other hand the God sacrificing
himself for mankind in the eyes of this people. And thereby, in the
idea of the representative expiatory victim, the separation between God
and Man is blotted out, and both fuse directly in the conception of
the “God-man.” God becomes man, and by this means mankind is enabled
to become God. The man is sacrificed as well in the place of God as
in that of mankind, and so unites both contradictories in a unity
within himself.

It is evident that in reality it was merely a new setting to the old
conception of the representative self-sacrifice of God–in which the
genitive is to be taken both in its subjective and objective sense. No
historical personality, who should, so to say, have lived as an example
of the God-man, was in any way necessary to produce that Pauline
development of the religion of Jesus. For the chance personalities
of the men representing the God came under consideration just as
little for Paul as for the heathens; and when he also, with the other
Jews, designated the Messiah Jesus as the bodily descendant of David
“according to the flesh,” [333] i.e., as a man; when he treated him as
“born of woman,” he thought not at all of any concrete individuality,
which had at a certain time embodied the divinity within itself, but
purely of the idea of a Messiah in the flesh; just as the suffering
servant of God of Isaiah, even in spite of the connection of this idea
with an actually accomplished human sacrifice, had possessed only
an ideal imaginary or typical significance. The objection is always
being raised that Paul must have conceived of Jesus as an historical
individual because he designates him as the bodily descendant of
David, and makes him “born of woman” (Gal. iv. 4). But how else could
he have been born? (Cf. Job xiv. 1.) The bringing into prominence
the birth from woman, as well as the general emphasis laid by the
Apostle on the humanity of Jesus, is directed against the Gnostics
in the Corinthian community, but proves nothing whatsoever as to
the historical Jesus. And the descent from David was part of the
traditional characteristics of the Messiah; so that Paul could say it
of Jesus without referring to a real descendant of David. But even
less is proved by Paul’s, in Gal. iii. 1, reproaching the Galatians
with having seen the crucified Christ “set forth openly”; we would
then have to declare also that there was an actual devil and a hell,
because these are set forth to the faithful by the “caretakers of
their souls” when preaching. Here then lies the explanation for the
fact that the “man” Jesus remained an intangible phantom to Paul,
and that he can speak of Christ as a man, without thinking of an
historical personality in the sense of the liberal theology of the
present day. The ideal man, as Paul represented Jesus to himself–the
essence of all human existence–the human race considered as a person,
who represented humanity to God, just as the man sacrificed in his
role had represented the Deity to the people–the “Man” on whom alone
redemption depended–is and remains a metaphysical Being–just as the
Idea of Plato or the Logos of Philo are none the less metaphysical
existences because of their descent into the world of the senses and
of their assuming in it a definite individual corporality. And what
Paul teaches concerning the “man” Jesus is only a detailed development
and deepening of what the Mandaei believed of their Mandae de hajje
or Hibil Ziwa, and of what the Jewish religions under the influence
of the Apocalypses involved in their mysterious doctrines of the
Messiah. For Paul the descent, death, and resurrection of Jesus
represented an eternal but not an actual story in time; and so to
search Paul for the signs of an historical Jesus is to misunderstand
the chief point in his religious view of the world.

God, the “father” of our “Lord” Jesus Christ, “awakened” his son and
sent him down upon the earth for the redemption of mankind. Although
originally one with God, and for that reason himself a divine being,
Christ nevertheless renounced his original supernatural existence. In
contradiction to his real Being he changed his spiritual nature for
“the likeness of sinful flesh,” gave up his heavenly kingdom for
the poverty and misery of human existence, and came to mankind in
the form of a servant, “being found in fashion as a man,” in order
to bring redemption. [334] For man is unable to obtain religious
salvation through himself alone. In him the spirit is bound to the
flesh, his divine supersensible Being is bound down to the material
of sensible actuality, and for that reason he is subject “by nature”
to misfortune and sin. All flesh is necessarily “sinful flesh.” Man is
compelled to sin just in so far as he is a being of the flesh. Adam,
moreover, is the originator of all human sin only for the reason
that he was “in the flesh”–that is, a finite Being imprisoned in
corporality. Probably God gave the Law unto mankind, in order to
show them the right path in their obscurity; and thereby opened the
possibility of being declared righteous or “justified” before his
court, through the fulfilment of his commands; but it is impossible
to keep the commandments in their full severity.

And yet only the ceaseless fulfilment of the whole Law can save mankind
from justice. We are all sinners. [335] So the Law indeed awakened the
knowledge of guilt, and brought sin to light through its violation;
but it has at the same time increased the guilt. [336] It has shown
itself to be a strict teacher and taskmaster in righteousness, without,
however, itself leading to righteousness. So little has it proved to
be the desired means of salvation, that it may equally be said of it
that it was given by God not for the purpose of saving mankind, but
only to make it still more miserable. Consequently Paul would rather
attribute the mediation of the Law of Moses not to God himself but to
his angels, in order to relieve God of the guilt of the Law. [337]
This circumstance is of so much the more consequence for mankind,
because the sin aroused by the Law unresistingly drew death in its
train; and that deprived them also of the last possibility of becoming
equal to their higher spiritual nature. So is man placed midway between
light and darkness–a pitiable Being. His spirit, that is kin with God,
draws him upwards; and the evil spirit and daemons drag him downwards,
the evil spirits who rule this world and who lure him into sin–and
who are at bottom nothing but mythical personifications of man’s
sinful and fleshly desires.

Christ now enters this world of darkness and of sin. As a man among
men, he enters the sphere over which the flesh and sin have power,
and must die as other men. But for the incarnate God death is not what
it is in the ordinary sense. For him it is only the liberation from
the incongruous condition of the flesh. When Christ dies, he merely
strips off the fetters of the flesh and leaves the prison of the
body, leaves the sphere over which sin, death, and evil spirits hold
their sway. He, the God-man, dies to the sin, which was once unknown
to him, once and for all. By prevailing over the power of death in
his resurrection, the Son regains, by means of death, his original
individual existence, perpetual life in and with the Father. [338]
Thus also does he attain mastery over the Law, for this rules only
in so far as there are fleshly men of earth, and ceases to hold good
for him at the moment when Christ raises himself above the flesh and
returns to his pure spiritual nature. Were there the possibility for
mankind of similarly dying to their flesh, then would they be redeemed,
as Christ was, from sin, death, and the Law.

There is, in fact, such a possibility. It lies in this: even Christ
himself is nothing but the idea of the human race conceived as
a personality, the Platonic idea of Humanity personified, the
ideal man as a metaphysical essence; and so in his fate the fate
of all mankind is fulfilled. In this sense the saying holds, “If
one has died for all, then have they all died.” [339] In order to
become partakers of the fruit of this Jesus’ death, it is certainly
necessary that the individual man become really one with Christ;
that he enter into an inner unity with the representative, with
the divine type of the human race, not merely subjectively, but
objectively and actually; and this takes place, according to Paul,
by means of “faith.” Faith, as Paul understands it, is not a purely
external belief in the actuality of Jesus’ death as a victim and
of his resurrection, but the turning of the whole man to Jesus, the
spiritual unification with him and the divine disposition produced
thereby, from which the corresponding moral action proceeds of
itself. It is only in this sense that Paul sets faith above works
as demanded by the Law. An action that does not proceed from faith,
from the deepest conviction of the divine, has no religious value,
be it ever so conformable to the letter of the Law. That is a view
which Paul completely shared with the Stoic philosophy of his age,
and which was at that time being brought more and more to the front
in the more advanced circles of the old civilisation. Man is justified
not through the Law, not through works, but through faith; faith, even
without works, is reckoned as righteousness. [340] It is only another
expression for the same thought when Paul says that God justifies man,
not according to his merit and actions, but “gratuitously,” “of his
grace.” In the conception of the Jewish religion of the Law the idea
of justification has a purely juridical significance. Reward here
answers exactly to merit. Justification is nothing but an “obligation”
according to an irrevocable standard. In Paul’s new conception it is,
on the contrary, a natural product of God’s mercy. But mercy consists
finally in this, that God of his own accord sacrificed his Son, so
that mankind may share in the effects of his work of redemption by
“faith” in him, and by the unity with him thus brought about. But faith
is only one way of becoming one with Christ; and real unity with him
must also be externally effected. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper must
be added to faith. There Paul directly follows the Mysteries and
their sacramental conception of man’s unification with the deity;
and shows the connection of his own doctrines with those of the
heathen religions. By his baptism, his immersion and disappearance
in the depths of the water, man is “buried in death” with Christ. In
that he rises once more from the water, the resurrection with Christ
to a new life is fulfilled, not merely in a symbolic but also in
a magical mystic fashion. [341] And Christ is as it were “put on”
[342] through Baptism, so that henceforth the baptized is, no longer
potentially but actually, one with Christ; Christ is in him, and
he is in Christ. The Lord’s Supper is indeed on one hand a feast of
fraternal love and recollection, in memory of the Saviour; just as the
adherents of Mithras used to hold their love-feasts (Agape) in memory
of their God’s parting feast with his own people. [343] But on the
other hand it is a mystic communion of the blood and body of Christ,
through the drinking of the sacramental chalice and the eating of the
sacramental bread–a mystic communion in no other sense than that in
which the heathens thought they entered into inner connection with
their Gods through sacrificial feasts, and in which savages generally
even to-day believe that through the eating of another’s flesh,
be it beast’s or man’s, and through the drinking of his blood, they
become partakers of the power residing in him. [344] Even for Paul
baptism and the Lord’s Supper are to such an extent purely natural
processes or magic practices, that he does not object to the heathen
custom of baptizing, by proxy, living Christians for dead ones; and
in his opinion unworthy eating and drinking of the Lord’s Supper
produce sickness and death. [345] In this respect, consequently,
there can be no talk of a “transcending of the naturalism of the
heathen mysteries” in Paul; and to attribute to him a much higher
or more spiritual conception of the sacrament than the heathens had
seems difficult to reconcile with his express statements. [346]

Now Christ, as already stated, is for Paul only a comprehensive
expression for the ideal totality of men, which is therein represented
as an individual personal being. It is clearly the Platonic idea
of humanity, and nothing else; just as Philo personified the divine
intelligence and made this coalesce with the “ideal man,” with the
idea of humanity. [347] As in the Platonic view the union of man with
the ideal takes place through love, through immediate intellectual
perception on the basis of ideal knowledge, and the contradiction
between the world of sense and the world of ideas is overcome
by the same means; as also thereby man is raised to membership
in the cosmos of ideas; in just such a manner, according to Paul,
Christians unite together by means of faith and the sacraments into
constitutive moments of the ideal humanity. Thus they realise the
idea of humanity, and enter into a mystic communion with Jesus, who
himself, as we have already said, represents this idea in its united
compass. The consequence of this is, that all that is fulfilled in
Christ is equally experienced along with him, in mysterious fashion,
by those men who are united with him. Consequently they can now be
termed “members of the one body of Christ,” who is its “head” or
“Soul”; and this indeed in the same sense as with Plato the different
ideas form but members and moments of the one world of ideas, and
their plurality is destroyed in the unity of the comprehensive and
determining idea of the One or the Good.

Just what an elevation of the spirit to the world of ideas is for
Plato, the union of mankind with Christ is for Paul. What the man
actually in possession of knowledge, the “wise man,” is for the
former, “Christ” is for the latter. What is there called Eros–the
mediator of the unity between the world of ideas and the sense-world,
of Being and Conscious Being, of objective and subjective thought,
and at the same time the very essence of all objective thought–is
here called Christ. Eros is called by Plato the son of riches and
poverty, who bears the “nature and signs” of both: “He is quite poor,
runs around barefoot and homeless, and must sleep on the naked earth
without a roof, in the open air, at the doors and on the streets,
in conformity with his mother’s nature.” “As, however, he is neither
mortal nor immortal, at one moment he is flourishing and full of
life, at another he is weary and dies away, and all that often on the
self-same day; but ever he rises up again in life in conformity with
his father’s nature.” [348] So also the Pauline Christ contains all
the fulness of the Godhead [349] and is himself the “Son of God”; yet
nevertheless Christ debases himself, takes on the form of a servant,
becomes Man, and dies, thereby placing himself in direct opposition to
his real nature, but only to rise again continually in each individual
man and allow mankind to participate in his own life. And as Christ
(in 1 Tim. ii. 5) is the “mediator” between God and men, so also the
Platonic Eros “is midway between the immortal and the mortal.” “Eros,
O Socrates, is a daimon, a great daimon, and everything of this nature
is intermediate between God and man. The daimon transfers to the Gods
what comes from man, and to man what comes from the Gods; from the
one prayer and sacrifice, from the other the orders and rewards for
the sacrifice. Midway, he fills the gap between the immortal and the
mortal, and everything is through him bound into one whole. By his
mediation is disseminated every prophecy and the religious skill which
has reference to sacrifice, sanctification, sacred maxims, and each
prediction and magic spell. God himself does not mix with mankind,
but all intercourse and all speech between God and man, as well in
waking as in sleep, takes place in the way mentioned. Whoever has
experienced this, in him is the daimon.” In this connection we recall
to our minds that Eros appears in the “Timaeus” under the name of the
“world-soul,” and this is supposed by Plato to have the form of an
oblique cross. [350]

The Platonic Eros is the mythical personification of the conception
that the contemplation of Being (obj. gen.) as such is at the
same time a contemplation of Being’s (sub. gen.); or that in the
contemplation of the Ideas the subjective thought of the Philosopher
and the objective ideal Reality as it were meet each other from
two sides and fuse directly into a unity. [351] It is thus only the
scientific and theoretical formulation of the fundamental idea of the
old Aryan Fire Cult. According to this the sacrifice of Agni–that
is, the victim which man offers to God–is as such equally Agni’s
sacrifice, the victim which God offers, and in which he sacrifices
himself for humanity. It is in agreement with this that according to
Paul the death and resurrection of Christ, as they take place in the
consciousness of the believer, represent a death and resurrection of
Christ as a divine personality: man dies and lives again with Christ,
and God and man are completely fused together in the believer. As
mankind by this means becomes a “member” of the “Body of Christ,”
so in the Vedic conception the partaker of the Fire-God’s sacrifice,
by the tasting of the blood and the eating of the sacred bread, is
associated with a mystic body, and is infused with the one Spirit of
God, which destroys his sins in its sacred fire, and flows through
him with new life-power. In India, from the cult of the Fire-God and
the complete unity of God and man thereby attained, Brahmanism was
developed, and gained an influence over all the Indian peoples. In
Plato intellectual contemplation formed the basis of cognition. He
placed the wise man at the head of the social organism, and regarded
the philosopher as the only man fitted for the government of the
world. And the future development of the Church as a “Communion of
Saints” appears already in the Pauline conception of the faithful as
the “Body of Christ,” in which the Idea of the human race (Christ)
is realised, as the kingdom of God upon earth, as the true humanity,
as the material appearance of the divine ideal man, to belong to
which is mankind’s duty, and without which it is impossible for man
to live in his real ideal nature.

Ancient philosophy had attempted until now in vain to overcome the
contradiction between the sense-world and the world of ideas, and
to destroy the uncertainty of human thought and life which results
from this contradiction. From the time of Plato it had worked at the
problem of uniting, without contradiction, Nature and Spirit, whose
contradictory nature had first been brought to notice by the founder
of metaphysical idealism. Religion, particularly in the Mystery Cults,
had tried to solve in a practical way the problem that seemed insoluble
by abstract means, and had sought to secure for man a new basis and
resting-place by means of devotion and “revelation”–a mystic sinking
into the depths of God. But Paul’s Christianity first gave a form to
all this obscure desire, a form which united the thrills and joy of
mystic ecstasy with the certainty of a comprehensive religious view
of the world, and enlightened men as to the deepest meaning of their
emotional impulse towards certainty: man obtains unity with God and
certainty as to the true reality, not by an abstract dialectic, as
Plato supposed; not by logical insight into the cosmos in the sense of
an abstract knowledge attainable only by the few, but through faith,
through the divine act of redemption. To adopt this internally, thereby
to live with it directly–this alone can give man the possibility
of emerging from the uncertainty and darkness of corporeal existence
into the clear light of the spiritual. All certainty of the true or
essential being is consequently a certainty of faith, and there is
no higher certainty than that which is given to men in faith and
piety. As Christ died and was thereby freed from the bonds of the
body and of the world, so also must man die in the spirit. He must
lay aside the burden of this body, the real cause of all his ethical
and intellectual shortcomings. He must inwardly rise with Christ and
be born again, thereby taking part in his spiritual certitude and
gaining together with the “Life in the Spirit” salvation from all his
present shortcomings. It is true that outwardly the body still exists,
even after the inner act of redemption has taken place. Even when the
man who died with Christ has arisen and has become a new man, he is
nevertheless still subject to corporeal limitations. The redeemed
man is still in the world and must fight with its influences. But
what man gains in the union with the body of Christ is the “Spirit”
of Christ, which holds the members of the body together, shows itself
to be active in everything which belongs to the body, and acts in man
as a supernatural power. This spirit, as it dwells henceforth in the
redeemed man, works and directs and drives him on to every action;
lifts man in idea far above all the limitations of his fleshly nature;
strengthens him in his weakness; shows him existence in a new light,
so that henceforth he feels himself no longer bound; gives him the
victory over the powers of earth, and enables him to anticipate,
even in this life, the blessedness of his real and final redemption
in a life to come. [352] But the spirit of Christ as such is equally
the divine spirit. So that the redeemed, as they receive the spirit
of Christ, are the “sons” of God himself, and this is expressed by
saying that with the spirit they “inherit the glorious freedom of the
children of God.” [353] For, as Paul says, “the Lord is the spirit;
but where the spirit is, there is freedom.” [354]

So that when the Christian feels himself transformed into a “new
creature,” equipped with power of knowledge and of virtue, blest in
the consciousness of his victorious strength over carnal desires,
and wins his peace in faith, this is only the consequence of a
superhuman spirit working in him. Hence the Christian virtues of
Brotherly Love, Humility, Obedience, &c., are necessary consequences
of the possession of the Spirit: “If we live by the Spirit, by the
Spirit let us also walk.” [355] And if the faithful suddenly develop
a fulness of new and wonderful powers, which exceed man’s ordinary
nature–such as facility in “tongues,” in prophecy, and in the
healing of the sick–this is, in the superstitious view of the age,
only to be explained by the indwelling activity of a supernatural
spirit-being that has entered man from the outside. Certainly it
does not seem clear, in the Pauline conception of the redemption, how
this heavenly spirit can at the same time be the spirit of man–how
it can be active in man without removing the particular and original
spirit of man, and without reducing the individual to a passive tool,
to a lifeless puppet without self-determination and responsibility;
how the man “possessed” by such a spirit can nevertheless feel himself
free and redeemed by the Spirit. For it is in truth an alien spirit,
one that does not in essence belong to him, which enters man through
the union with Christ. Yet it is supposed to be the spirit, not merely
of the individual man, but also Christ’s personal spirit. One and the
same spirit putting on a celestial body of light must be enthroned on
the right hand of the Father in heaven, and must also be on earth the
spirit of those who believe in it, setting itself to work in them as
the source of Gnosis, of full mystic knowledge; and, as the power of
God, as the spirit of salvation, must produce in them supernatural
effects. [356] It must be on the one hand an objective and actual
spirit-being which in Christ becomes man, dies, and rises again; and
on the other hand an inner subjective power, which produces in each
individual man the extinction of the flesh and a new birth which
is to be shared by the faithful as the fruit of their individual
redemption. That is perhaps comprehensible in the mode of thought
of an age for which the idea of personality had as yet no definite
meaning, and which consequently saw no contradiction in this, that
a personal Christ-spirit should at the same time inhabit a number of
individual spirits; and which did not differentiate between the one,
or rather the continual, act of redemption by God and its continual
temporal repetition in the individual. We can understand this only
if the Pauline Christ is a purely metaphysical being. It is, on the
contrary, quite incomprehensible if Paul is supposed to have gained
his idea of the mediator of salvation from any experience of an
historical Jesus and his actual death. Only because in his doctrine
of the saving power of the Christ-spirit Paul had thought of no
particular human personality could he imagine the immanence of the
divine in the world to be mediated by that spirit. Only because he
connected no other idea with the personality of Jesus than the Book
of Wisdom or Philo did with their particular immanence principles,
does he declare that Christ brings about salvation. So that Christ,
as the principle of redemption, is for Paul only an allegorical or
symbolical personality and not a real one. He is a personality such as
were the heathen deities, who passed as general cosmic powers without
prejudice to their appearing in human form. Personality is for Paul
only another mode of expressing the supernatural spirituality and
directed activity of the principle of redemption, in distinction
from the blindly working powers and material realities of religious
naturalism. It serves merely to suggest spirituality to an age which
could only represent spirit as a material fluid. It corresponds
simply to the popular conception of the principle of redemption,
which treated this as bound up with the idea of a human being. But
it in no way referred to a real historical individual, showing,
in fact, just by the uncertainty and fluctuation of the idea, how
far the Christ of the Pauline doctrine of redemption was from being
connected with a definite historical reality.

Not because he so highly esteemed and revered Jesus as an historical
personality did Paul make Christ the bearer and mediator of redemption,
but because he knew nothing at all of an historical Jesus, of a human
individual of this name, to whom he would have been able to transfer
the work of redemption. “Faithful disciples,” Wrede considers, “could
not so easily believe that the man who had sat with them at table in
Capernaum, or had journeyed over the Sea of Galilee with them, was
the creator of the world. For Paul this obstacle was absent.” [357]
But Paul is nevertheless supposed to have met James, the “Brother of
the Lord,” and to have had dealings with him which would certainly
have modified his view of Jesus, if here there were really question
of a corporeal brotherhood. What a wonderful idea our theologians
must have of a man like Paul if they think that it could ever have
occurred to him to connect such tremendous conceptions with a human
individual Jesus as he does with his Christ! It is true that there is
a type of religious ecstasy in which the difference between man and
God is completely lost sight of; and, especially at the beginning of
our era, in the period of Caesar-worship and of the deepest religious
superstition, it was not in itself unusual to deify, after his death,
a man who was highly esteemed. A great lack of reason, a great mental
confusion, an immense flight of imagination, would be necessary to
transform a man not long dead, who was still clearly remembered by
his relatives and contemporaries, not merely into a divine hero or
demi-god, but into the world-forming spiritual principle, into the
metaphysical mediator of redemption and the “second God.” And if, as
even Wrede acknowledges in the above-quoted words, personal knowledge
of Jesus was really an “obstacle” to his apotheosis, how is it to be
explained that the “First Apostles” at Jerusalem took no exception to
that representation of Paul’s? They surely knew who Jesus had been;
they knew the Master through many years’ continual wandering with
him. And however highly they may always have thought of the risen
Jesus, however intimately they may have joined in their minds the
memory of the man Jesus with the prevailing idea of the Messiah,
according to the prevalent theological opinion, even they are supposed
to have risen in no way to such a boundless deification of their
Lord and Master as Paul undertook a comparatively short while after
Jesus’ death.

“Paul already believed in such a heavenly Being, in a divine Christ,
before he believed in Jesus.” [358] The truth is that he never
believed at all in the Jesus of liberal theology. The “man” Jesus
already belonged to his faith in Christ, so far as Christ’s act
of redemption was supposed to consist in his humbling himself and
becoming man–and no historical Jesus was necessary for that. For
Paul also, just as for the whole heathen world, the man actually
sacrificed in God’s place was at best merely a chance symbol of the
God presenting himself as victim. Hence it cannot be said that the
man Jesus was but “the bearer of all the great attributes,” which
as such had been long since determined; [359] or, as Gunkel puts it,
that the enthusiastic disciples had transferred to him all that the
former Judaism had been wont to ascribe to the Messiah; and that
consequently the Christology of the New Testament, in spite of its
unhistorical nature, was nevertheless “a mighty hymn which History
sings to Jesus”(!). [360] If we once agree as to the existence of a
pre-Christian Jesus–and even Gunkel, apart from Robertson and Smith,
has worked for the recognition of this fact–then this can in the first
place produce nothing but a strong suspicion against the historical
Jesus; and it seems a despairing subterfuge of the “critical” theology
to seek to find capital, from the existence of a pre-Christian Jesus,
for the “unique” significance of their “historical” Jesus.

Christ’s life and death are for Paul neither the moral achievement of
a man nor in any way historical facts, but something super-historical,
events in the supersensible world. [361] Further, the “man” Jesus
comes in question for Paul, just as did the suffering servant of
God for Isaiah, exclusively as an Idea, and his death is, like his
resurrection, but the purely ideal condition whereby redemption
is brought about. “If Christ hath not been raised, your faith is
vain.” [362] On this declaration has till now been founded the chief
proof that an historical Jesus was to Paul the pre-supposition of
his doctrine. But really that declaration in Paul’s mouth points to
nothing but the faith of his contemporaries, who expected natural
and religious salvation from the resurrection of their God, whether
he were called Adonis, Attis, Dionysus, Osiris, or anything else.

The fact is therefore settled, that Paul knew nothing of an historical
Jesus; and that even if he had known anything of him, this Jesus in
any case plays no part for him, and exercised no influence over the
development of his religious view of the world. Let us consider the
importance of this: the very man from whom we derive the first written
testimony as to Christianity, who was the first in any way to establish
it as a new religion differing from Judaism, on whose teachings alone
the whole further development of Christian thought has depended–this
Paul knew absolutely nothing of Jesus as an historical personality. In
fact, with perfect justice from his point of view he was even compelled
to excuse himself, when others wished to enlighten him as to such a
personality! At the present day it will be acknowledged by all sensible
people that, as Ed. von Hartmann declared more than thirty years ago,
without Paul the Christian movement would have disappeared in the
sand, just as the many other Jewish religions have done–at best to
afford interest to investigators as an historical curiosity–and
Paul had no knowledge of Jesus! The formation and development of
the Christian religion began long before the Jesus of the Gospels
appeared, and was completed independently of the historical Jesus of
theology. Theology has no justification for treating Christianity
merely as the “Christianity of Christ,” as it now is sufficiently
evident; nor should it present a view of the life and doctrines of
an ideal man Jesus as the Christian religion. [363]

The question raised at the beginning, as to what we learn from Paul
about the historical Jesus, has found its answer–nothing. There is
little value, then, in the objection to the disbelievers in such a
Jesus which is raised on the theological side in triumphant tones:
that the historical existence of Jesus is “most certainly established”
by Paul. This objection comes, in fact, even from such people as
regard the New Testament, in other respects, with most evidently
sceptical views. The truth is that the Pauline epistles contain
nothing which would force us to the belief in an historical Jesus;
and probably no one would find such a person in them if that belief
was not previously established in him. It must be considered that,
if the Pauline epistles stood in the edition of the New Testament
where they really belong–that is, before the Gospels–hardly any
one would think that Jesus, as he there meets him, was a real man
and had wandered on the earth in flesh and blood; but he would in all
probability only find therein a detailed development of the “suffering
servant of God,” and would conclude that it was an irruption of
heathen religious ideas into Jewish thought. Our theologians are,
however, so strongly convinced of it a priori–that the Pauline
representation of Christ actually arose from the figure of Jesus
wandering on earth–that even M. Brueckner confesses, in the preface
to his work, that he had been “himself astonished” (!) at the result
of his inquiry–the independence of the Pauline representation of
Christ from the historical personality, Jesus. [364]

Christianity is a syncretic religion. It belongs to those multiform
religious movements which at the commencement of our era were
struggling with one another for the mastery. Setting out from the
Apocalyptic idea and the expectation of the Messiah among the Jewish
sects, it was borne on the tide of a mighty social agitation, which
found its centre and its point of departure in the religious sects and
Mystery communities. Its adherents conceived the Messiah not merely as
the Saviour of souls, but as deliverer from slavery, from the lot of
the poor and the oppressed, and as the bearer of a new justice. [365]

It borrowed the chief part of its doctrine, the specific point in
which it differed from ordinary Judaism, the central idea of the God
sacrificing himself for mankind, from the neighbouring peoples, who had
brought down this belief into Asia, in connection with fire-worship,
from its earlier home in the North. Only in so far as that faith
points in the end to an Aryan origin can it be said that Jesus was “an
Aryan”; any further statements on this point, such as, for example,
Chamberlain makes in his “Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts,”
are pure fancies, and rest on a complete misunderstanding of the true
state of affairs. Christianity, as the religion of Christ, of the
“Lord,” who secularised the Jewish Law by his voluntary death of
expiation, did not “arise” in Jerusalem, but, if anywhere, in the
Syrian capital Antioch, one of the principal places of the worship
of Adonis. For it was at Antioch where, according to the Acts, [366]
the name “Christians” was first used for the adherents of the new
religion, who had till then been usually called Nazarenes. [367]

That certainly is in sharpest contradiction to tradition, according to
which Christianity is supposed to have arisen in Jerusalem and to have
been thence spread abroad among the heathen. But Luke’s testimony
as to the arising of the community of the Messiah at Jerusalem
and the spreading of the Gospel from that place can lay no claim to
historical significance. Even the account of the disciples’ experience
at Easter and of the first appearances after the Resurrection, from
their contradictory and confused character appear to be legendary
inventions. [368] Unhistorical, and in contradiction to the information
on this point given by Matthew and Mark, is the statement that the
disciples stayed in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death, which is even
referred by Luke to an express command of the dead master. [369]
Unhistorical is the assemblage at Pentecost and the wonderful “miracle”
of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, which, as even Clemen agrees,
probably originated from the Jewish legends, according to which the
giving of the Law on Sinai was made in seventy different languages,
in order that it might be understood by all peoples. [370] But also
Stephen’s execution and the consequent persecution of the community
at Jerusalem are legendary inventions. [371] The great trouble which
Luke takes to represent Jerusalem as the point whence the Christian
movement set out, clearly betrays the tendency of the author of
the Acts to misrepresent the activity of the Christian propaganda,
which really emanated from many centres, as a bursting out of the
Gospel from one focus. It is meant to produce the impression that
the new religion spread from Jerusalem over the whole world like an
explosion; and thus its almost simultaneous appearance in the whole of
Nearer Asia is explained. For this reason “devout Jews of all nations”
were assembled in Jerusalem at Pentecost, and could understand each
other in spite of their different languages. For this reason Stephen
was stoned, and the motive given for that persecution which in one
moment scattered the faithful in all directions. [372]

Now it is certainly probable that there was in Jerusalem, just as
in many other places, a community of the Messiah which believed in
Jesus as the God sacrificing himself for humanity. But the question
is whether this belief, in the community at Jerusalem, rested on a
real man Jesus; and whether it is correct to regard this community,
some of whose members were personally acquainted with Jesus, and
who were the faithful companions of his wanderings, as the “original
community” in the sense of the first germ and point of departure of the
Christian movement. We may believe, with Fraser, that a Jewish prophet
and itinerant preacher, who by chance was named Jesus, was seized
by his opponents, the orthodox Jews, on account of his revolutionary
agitation, and was beheaded as the Haman of the current year, thereby
giving occasion for the foundation of the community at Jerusalem. [373]
Against this it may be said that our informants as to the beginning
of the Christian propaganda certainly vary, now making one assertion,
now another, without caring whether these are contradictory; and
they all strive to make up for the lack of any certain knowledge
by unmistakable inventions. If the doctrine of Jesus was, as Smith
declares, pre-Christian, “a religion which was spread among the Jews
and especially the Greeks within the limits of the century [100 B.C. to
100 A.D.], more or less secretly, and wrapped up in ‘Mysteries,'”
then we can understand both the sudden appearance of Christianity
over so wide a sphere as almost the whole of Nearer Asia, and also
the fact that even the earliest informants as to the beginning of
the Christian movement had nothing certain to tell. This, however,
seems quite irreconcilable with the view of a certain, definite,
local, and personal point of departure for the new doctrine. [374]
The objection will be raised: what about the Gospels? They, at least,
clearly tell the story of a human individual, and are inexplicable,
apart from the belief in an historical Jesus.

The question consequently arises as to the source from which the
Gospels derived a knowledge of this Jesus; for on this alone the
belief in an historical Jesus can rest.



However widely views may differ even now in the sphere of Gospel
criticism, all really competent investigators agree on one point
with rare unanimity: the Gospels are not historical documents in the
ordinary sense of the word, but creeds, religious books, literary
documents revealing the mind of the Christian community. Their purpose
is consequently not to give information as to the life and teachings
of Jesus which would correspond to reality, but to awaken belief in
Jesus as the Messiah sent from God for the redemption of his people,
to strengthen and defend that belief against attacks. And as creeds
they confine themselves naturally to recounting such words and events
as have any significance for the faith; and they have the greatest
interest in so arranging and representing the facts as to make them
accord with the content of that faith.

(a) The Synoptic Jesus.

Of the numerous Gospels which were still current in the first half
of the second century, as is well known, only four have come down to
us. The others were not embodied by the Church in the Canon of the New
Testament writings, and consequently fell into oblivion. Of these at
most a few names and isolated and insignificant fragments remain to
us. Thus we know of a Gospel of Matthew, of Thomas, of Bartholomew,
Peter, the twelve apostles, &c. Of our four Gospels, two bear the
names of apostles and two the names of companions and pupils of
apostles, viz., Mark and Luke. In this, of course, it is in no way
meant that they were really written by these persons. According to
Chrysostom these names were first assigned to them towards the end
of the second century. And the titles do not run: Gospel of Matthew,
of Mark, and so on, but “according to” Matthew, “according to” Mark,
Luke, and John; so that they indicate at most only the persons or
schools whose particular conception of the Gospel they represent.

Of these Gospels, again, that of John ranks as the latest. It
presupposes the others, and shows such a dogmatic tendency, that it
cannot be considered the source of the story. Of the remaining Gospels,
which on account of their similarity as to form and matter have been
termed “Synoptic” (i.e., such as must be dealt with in connection
with each other and thus only give a real idea of the Saviour’s
personality), that of Mark is generally regarded as the oldest. Matthew
and Luke rely on Mark, and all three, according to the prevailing
view, are indebted to a common Aramaic source, wherein Jesus’ didactic
sermons are supposed to have been contained. Tradition points to John
Mark, the nephew of Barnabas, pupil of Peter, and Paul’s companion on
his first missionary journey and later a sharer in the captivity at
Rome, as the author of the Gospel of Mark. It is believed that this
was written shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem (70)–i.e., at
least forty years after Jesus’ death (!). This tradition depends upon
a note of the Church historian Eusebius (d. about 340 A.D.), according
to which Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis in Asia Minor, learnt from the
“elder John” that Mark had set forth what he had heard from Peter,
and what this latter had in turn heard from the “Lord.” On account
of its indirect nature and of Eusebius’ notorious unreliability this
note is not a very trustworthy one, [375] and belief in it should
disappear in view of the fact that the author of the Gospel of Mark
had no idea of the spot where Jesus is supposed to have lived. And
yet Mark is supposed to have been born in Jerusalem and to have been a
missionary! As Wernle shows in his work, “Die Quellen des Lebens Jesu,”
Mark stands quite far from the life of Jesus both in time and place(!);
indeed, he has no clear idea of Jesus’ doings and course of life. [376]
And Wrede confirms this in his work, “Das Messias-geheimnis” (1901),
probably the clearest and deepest inquiry into the fundamental
problem of the Gospel of Mark which we possess. Jesus is for Mark
at once the Messiah and the Son of God. “Faith in this dogma must be
aroused, it must be established and defended. The whole Gospel is a
defence. Mark wishes to lead all his readers, among whom he counts
the Heathens and Gentile Christians, to the recognition of what the
heathen centurion said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’ [377]
The whole account is directed to this end.” [378]

Mark’s main proof for this purpose is that of miracles. Jesus’
doctrines are with Mark of so much less importance than his miracles,
that we never learn exactly what Jesus preached. “Consequently the
historical portrait is very obscure: Jesus’ person is distorted
into the grotesque and the fantastic”(!) [379] Not only does Mark
often introduce his own thought into the tradition about Jesus,
and so prove perfectly wrong, and indeed absurd, the view held,
for instance, by Wernle, that Jesus had intentionally made use of an
obscure manner of speech and had spoken in parables and riddles so
as not to be understood by the people; [380] but also the connection
which he has established between the accounts, which had first gone
from mouth to mouth for a long time in isolation, is a perfectly
disconnected and external one. At first the stories reported by Mark
were totally disconnected with one another. There is no evidence at
all of their having followed each other in the present order(!). [381]
So that only the matter, not what Mark made of it, is of historical
value. [382] Single stories, discourses, and phrases are bound into
a whole by Mark; and often enough it may be seen that we have here a
tradition which was first built up in the earliest Christianity long
after Jesus’ death. Experiences were at first gradually fashioned into
a story–and the miracle-stories may especially be regarded in this
way. In spite of all these trimmings and alterations, and in spite of
the fact that neither in the words of Jesus nor in the stories is it
for the most part any longer possible to separate the actual from the
traditional, which for forty years was not put into writing–in spite
of all this, the historical value of the traditions given us by Mark
is “very highly” estimated. For not only is “the general impression
of power, originality, and creation” “valuable,” which is given in
this account of Mark’s, but also there are so many individual phrases
“corresponding to reality.” Numerous accounts, momentary pictures and
remarks, “speak for themselves.” The modesty and ingenuousness(!), the
freshness and joy(!) with which Mark recounts all this, show distinctly
that he is here the reporter of a valid tradition, and that he writes
nothing but what eye-witnesses have told him(!). “And so finally, in
spite of all, this Gospel remains an extraordinarily valuable work,
a collection of old and genuine material, which is loosely arranged
and placed under a few leading conceptions; produced perhaps by that
Mark whom the New Testament knows, and of whom Papias heard from the
mouth of the elder John.” [383]

One does not trust one’s eyes with this style of attempting to set
up Mark as an even half-credible “historical source.” This attempt
will remind us only too forcibly of Wrede’s ironical remarks when
he is making fun of the “decisions as you like it” that flourish
in the study of Jesus’ life. “This study,” says Wrede, “suffers
from psychological suggestion, and this is one style of historical
solution.” [384] One believes that he can secure this, another that,
as the historical nucleus of the Gospel; but neither has objective
proofs for his assertions. [385] If we wish to work with an historical
nucleus, we must really make certain of a nucleus. The whole point
is, that in an anecdote or phrase something is proved, which makes
any other explanation of the matter under consideration improbable,
or at least doubtful. [386] It seems very questionable, after his
radical criticism of the historical credibility of Mark’s Gospel, that
Wrede saw in it such a “historical kernel”–though this is supposed
by Wernle to “speak for itself.” Moreover, Wrede’s opinion of the
“historian” Mark is not essentially different from Wernle’s. In
his opinion, for example, Jesus’ disciples, as the Gospel portrays
them, with their want of intelligence bordering on idiocy, their
folly, and their ambiguous conduct as regards their Master, are
“not real figures.” [387] He also concedes, as we have stated, that
Mark had no real idea of the historical life of Jesus, [388] even if
“pallid fragments”(!) of such an idea entered into his superhistorical
faith-conception. “The Gospel of Mark,” he says, “has in this sense a
place among the histories of dogma.” [389] The belief that in it the
development of Jesus’ public life is still perceptible appears to be
decaying. [390] “It would indeed be in the highest degree desirable
that such a Gospel were not the oldest.” [391]

Thus, then, does Mark stand as an historical source. After this we
could hardly hope to be much strengthened in our belief in Jesus’
historical reality by the other two Synoptics. Of these, Luke’s Gospel
must have been written, in the early part of the second century, by an
unknown Gentile Christian; and Matthew’s is not the work of a single
author, but was produced–and unmistakably in the interests of the
Church–by various hands in the first half of the second century. [392]
But now both, as we have said, are based on Mark. And even if in
their representations they have attained a certain “peculiar value”
which is wanting in Mark–e.g., a greater number of Jesus’ parables
and words–even if they have embellished the story of his life by
the addition of legendary passages (e.g., of the history of the time
preceding the Saviour, of many additions to the account of the Passion
and Resurrection, &c.), this cannot quite establish the existence of
an historical Jesus. It is true that Wernle takes the view that in this
respect “old traditions” have been preserved “with wonderful fidelity”
by both the Evangelists; but, on the other hand, he concedes as to
certain of Luke’s accounts that even if he had used old traditions
they need not have been as yet written, and certainly they need not
have been “historically reliable.” It seems rather peculiar when,
leaving completely on one side the historical value of the tradition,
he emphatically declares that even such a strong interest, as in
his opinion the Evangelists had in the shaping and formation of their
account, could not in any way set aside “the worth of its rich treasure
of parables and stories, through which Jesus himself [!] speaks to
us with freshness and originality” (!). He also strangely sums up at
the end, “that the peculiar value of both Gospels, in spite of their
very mixed nature, has claim enough on our gratitude”(!). [393] This
surely is simply to make use of the Gospels’ literary or other value
in the interest of the belief in their historical credibility.

But there is still the collection of sayings, that “great authority
on the matter,” from which all the Synoptics, and especially Luke
and Matthew, are supposed to have derived the material for their
declarations about Jesus. Unfortunately this is to us a completely
unknown quantity, as we know neither what this “great” authority
treats of, nor the arrangement of the matter in it, nor its text. We
can only say that this collection was written in the Aramaic tongue,
and the arrangement of its matter was not apparently chronological,
but according to the similarity of its contents. Again, it is doubtful
whether the collection was a single work, produced by one individual;
or whether it had had a history before it came to Luke and Matthew. All
the same, “the collection contains such a valuable number of the
Lord’s words, that in all probability an eye-witness was its author”
(!). [394] As for the speeches of Jesus constructed from it, they were
never really made as speeches by Jesus, but owe the juxtaposition
of their contents entirely to the hand of the compiler. Thus the
much admired Sermon on the Mount is constructed by placing together
individual phrases of Jesus, which belong to all periods of his life,
perhaps made in the course of a year. The ideas running through it
and connecting the parts are not those of Jesus, but rather those
of the original community; “nevertheless, the historical value of
these speeches is, on the whole, very great indeed. Together with the
‘Lord’s words’ of Mark they give us the truest insight into the spirit
of the Gospel”(!). [395]

Such are the authorities for the belief in an historical Jesus! If we
survey all that remains of the Gospels, this does indeed appear quite
“scanty,” or, speaking plainly, pitiable. Wernle consoles himself with,
“If only it is certain and reliable.” Yes, if! “And if only it was
able to give us an answer to the chief question: Who was Jesus?” [396]
This much is certain: a “Life of Jesus” cannot be written on the basis
of the testimony before us. Probably all present-day theologians are
agreed on this point; which, however, does not prevent them producing
new essays on it, at any rate for the “people,” thus making up for the
lack of historical reliability by edifying effusions and rhetorical
phrases. “There is no lack of valuable historical matter, of stones for
the construction of Jesus’ life; they lie before us plentifully. But
the plan for the construction is lost and completely irretrievable,
because the oldest disciples had no occasion for such an historical
connection, but rather claimed obedience to the isolated words and
acts, so far as they aroused faith.” But would they have been less
faith-arousing if they had been arranged connectedly, would the
credibility of the accounts of Jesus have been diminished and not
much rather increased, if the Evangelists had taken the trouble to
give us some more information as to Jesus’ real life? As things stand
at present, hardly two events are recounted in the same manner in
the Gospels, or even in the same connection. Indeed, the differences
and contradictions–and this not only as to unimportant things, such
as names, times and places, &c.–are so great that these literary
documents of Christianity can hardly be surpassed in confusion. [397]
But even this is, according to Wernle, “not so great a pity, if
only we can discover with sufficient clearness, what Jesus’ actions
and wishes were on important points.” [398] Unfortunately we are
not in a position to do even this. For the ultimate source of our
information, which we arrive at in our examination of the authorities
is completely unknown to us–the Aramaic collection of sayings, and
those very old traditions from which Mark is supposed to have derived
his production, gleanings of which have been preserved for us by Luke
and Matthew. But even if we knew these also, we would almost certainly
not have “come to Jesus himself.” “They contain the possibility of
dispute and misrepresentation. They recount in the first place the
faith of the oldest Christians, a faith which arose in the course of
four hundred years, and moreover changed much in that time.” [399]
So that at most we know only the faith of the earliest community. We
see how this community sought to make clear to itself through Jesus
its belief in the Resurrection, how it sought to “prove” to itself
and to others the divine nature of Jesus by the recital of tales
of miracles and the like. What Jesus himself thought, what he did,
what he taught, what his life was, and–might we say it?–whether he
ever lived at all–that is not to be learnt from the Gospels, and,
according to all the preceding discussion, cannot be settled from
them with lasting certainty.

Of course the liberal theologian, for whom everything is compatible
with an historical Jesus, has many resources. He explains that all
the former discussion has not touched the main point, and that
this point is–What was Jesus’ attitude to God, to the world,
and to mankind? What answer did he give to the questions: What
matters in the eyes of God? and What is religion? This should
indicate that the solution of the problem is contained in what has
preceded, and that this solution is unknown to us. But such is not
the case. Wernle knows it, and examines it “in the clear light of
day.” “From his numerous parables and sermons and from countless
momentary recollections it comes to us as clearly and distinctly as
if Jesus were our contemporary [!]. No man on earth can say that it
is either uncertain or obscure how Jesus thought on this point, which
is to us [viz., to the liberal theologians] even at the present day
the chief point.” “And if Christianity has forgotten for a thousand
years what its Master desired first and before all, to-day [i.e.,
after the clear solutions of critical theology] it shines on us once
more from the Gospels as clearly and wonderfully, as if the sun were
newly risen, driving before its conquering rays all the phantoms and
shadows of night.” [400] And so Wernle himself, to whom we owe this
consoling assurance, has written a work, “Die Anfaenge unserer Religion”
(1901), which is highly esteemed in theological circles, and in which
he has given a detailed account, in a tone of overwhelming assurance,
of the innermost thoughts, views, words, and teachings of Jesus and
of his followers, just as if he had been actually present.

We must be careful of our language. These are indeed the views of
a man who must be taken seriously, with whom we have been dealing
above, a “shining light” of his science! The often cited work on
“Die Quellen des Lebens Jesu” belongs to the series of “Popular
Books on the History of Religion,” which contains the quintessence of
present-day theological study, and which is intended for the widest
circles interested and instructed in religion. We may suppose, probably
with justice, that that work expresses what the liberal theology of
our day wishes the members of the community subject to it to know
and to believe. Or is it only that the popular books on the history
of religion place the intellectual standard of their readers so low
that they think they can strengthen the educated in their belief in
an historical Jesus by productions such as Wernle’s? We consider the
more “scientifically” elaborated works of other important theologians
on the same subject. We think of Beyschlag, Harnack, Bernard Weiss,
of Pfleiderer, Juelicher, and Holtzmann. We consult Bousset, who
defended against Kalthoff, with such great determination and warmth,
the existence of an historical Jesus. Everywhere there is the same
half-comic, half-pathetic drama: on the one hand the evangelical
authorities are depreciated and the information is criticised away
to such an extent that hardly anything positive remains from it;
on the other hand there is a pathetic enthusiasm for the so-called
“historical kernel.” Then comes praise for the so-called critical
theology and its “courageous truthfulness,” which, however, ultimately
consists only in declaring evident myths and legends to be such. This
was known for a long time previously among the unprejudiced. There
usually follows a hymn to Jesus with ecstatic raising of the eyes,
as if all the statements concerning him in the Gospels still had
validity. What then does Hausrath say?–“To conceal the miraculous
parts of the [evangelical] accounts and then to give out the rest as
historical, has not hitherto passed as criticism.” [401] Can we object
to Catholic theology because it looks with open pity on the whole of
Protestant “criticism,” and reproaches it with the inconsistency,
incompleteness, and lack of results, which is the mark of all its
efforts to discover the beginnings of Christianity. [402] Is it not
right in rejoicing at the blow which Protestantism has sustained
and from which it must necessarily suffer through all such attempts
at accepting the Gospels as basis for a belief in an historical
Jesus? Certainly what Catholic theologians bring forward in favour
of the historical Jesus is so completely devoid of any criticism
or even of any genuine desire to elucidate the facts, that it would
be doing them too much honour to make any more detailed examination
of their works on this point. For them the whole problem has a very
simple solution in this: the existence of the historical Jesus forms
the unavoidable presupposition of the Church, even though every
historical fact should register its veto against it; and as one of
its writers has put it, that is at bottom the long-established and
unanimous view of all our inquiries into the subject under discussion:
“The historical testimony for the authenticity of the Gospels is
as old, as extensive, and as well established as it is for very
few other books of ancient literature [!]. If we do not wish to be
inconsistent we cannot question their authenticity. Their credibility
is beyond question; for their authors were eye-witnesses of the events
[!] related, or they gained their information from such; they were as
competent judges [!] as men loving the truth can well be; they could,
and in fact were obliged to speak the truth.” [403]

How distinguished, as compared with this kind of theologian, Kalthoff
seems! It is true that we are obliged to allow for the one-sidedness
and insufficiency of his positive working out of the origin of
Christianity, of his attempt to explain it, on the basis of Mark’s
handling of the story, purely on the lines of social motives, and to
represent Christ as the mere reflection of the Christian community and
of its experiences. Quite certainly he is wrong in identifying the
biblical Pilate with Pliny, the governor of Bithynia under Trajan,
and in the proof based on this; and this because in all probability
Pliny’s letter to the Emperor is a later Christian forgery. [404]
But Kalthoff is quite right in what he says about modern critical
theology and its historical Jesus. The critical theologians may
think themselves justified in treating this embarrassing opponent as
“incompetent,” or in ignoring him on account of the mistaken basis of
argument; but all the efforts made with such great perseverance and
penetration by historical theologians to derive from the authorities
before us proof of the existence of a man Jesus in the traditional
sense have led, as Kalthoff very justly says, to a purely negative
conclusion. “The numerous passages in the Gospels which this theology,
in maintaining its historical Jesus, is obliged to place on one
side and pass over, stand from a literary point of view exactly
on the same footing as those passages from which it constructs its
historical Jesus; and consequently they claim historical value equal
to these latter. The Synoptic Christ, in whom modern theology thinks
it finds the characteristics of the historical Jesus, stands not
a hair’s breadth nearer to a human interpretation of Christianity
than the Christ of the fourth Gospel. What the Epigones of liberal
theology think they can distil from this Synoptic Christ as historical
essence has historical value only as a monument of masterly sophistry,
which has produced its finest examples in the name of theological
science.” [405] Historical research should not have so long set apart
from all other history that of early Christianity as the special domain
of theology and handed it over to churchmen, as if for the decision
of the questions on this point quite special talent was necessary–a
talent far beyond the ordinary sphere of science and one which was
only possessed by the Church theologian. The world would then long
since have done with the whole literature of the “Life of Jesus.”

The sources which give information of the origin of Christianity are
of such a kind that, considering the present standard of historical
research, no historian would care to undertake an attempt to produce
the biography of an historical Christ. [406] They are, we can add,
of such a nature that a real historian, who meets them without a
previous conviction or expectation that he will find an historical
Jesus in it, cannot for a moment doubt that he has here to do with
religious fiction, [407] with myth in an historical form, which does
not essentially differ from other myths and legends–such as perhaps
the legend of Tell.

Supplement: Jesus in Secular Literature.

There seems to be but little hope of considerably adding to the weight
of the reasons in favour of the historical existence of Jesus by citing
documents of secular literature. As is well known, only two passages of
the Jewish historian Josephus, and one in each of the Roman historians,
Tacitus and Suetonius, must be considered in this connection. As for
the testimony of Josephus in his “Antiquities,” which was written
93 A.D., the first passage (viz., xviii. 3, 3) is so evidently an
after-insertion of a later age, that even Roman Catholic theologians
do not venture to declare it authentic, though they always attempt,
with pitiful naivete, to support the credibility of pre-Christian
documents of this type. [408] But the other passage, too (xx. 9,
1), which states that James was executed under the authority of the
priest Ananos (A.D. 62), and refers to him as “the Brother of Jesus,
the so-called Christ,” in the opinion of eminent theologians such as
Credner, [409] Schuerer, [410] &c., must be regarded as a forgery;
[411] but even if its authenticity were established it would still
prove nothing in favour of the historical Jesus. For, first, it
leaves it undecided whether a bodily relationship is indicated by
the word “Brother,” or whether, as is much more likely, the reference
is merely to a religious brotherhood (see above, 170 sq.). Secondly,
the passage only asserts that there was a man of the name of Jesus who
was called Christ, and this is in no way extraordinary in view of the
fact that at the time of Josephus, and far into the second century,
many gave themselves out as the expected Messiah. [412]

The Roman historians’ testimony is in no better case than that of
Josephus. It is true that Tacitus writes in his “Annals” (xv. 44),
in connection with the persecution of the Christians under Nero (64),
that “the founder of this sect, Christ, was executed in Tiberius’
reign by the procurator Pontius Pilate”; and Suetonius states in his
biography of the Emperor Claudius, chap. xxv., that he “drove out of
Rome the Jews, who had caused great disturbances at the instigation
of Chrestus.” What does this prove? Are we so certain that the passage
cited from Tacitus as to the persecution of the Christians under Nero
is not after all a later insertion and falsification of the original
text? This is indeed the case, judging from Hochart’s splendid and
exhaustive inquiry. In fact, everything points to the idea that the
“first persecution of the Christians,” which is previously mentioned
by no writers, either Jewish or heathen, is nothing but the product
of a Christian’s imagination in the fifth century. [413] But let
us admit the authenticity of Tacitus’ assertion; let us suppose
also that by Suetonius’ Chrestus is really meant Christ and not a
popular Jewish rioter of that name; let us suppose that the unrest
of the Jews was not connected with the expectation of the Messiah,
or that the Roman historian, in his ignorance of the Jewish dreams of
the future, did not imagine a leader of the name of Chrestus. [414]
Can writers of the first quarter of the second century after Christ,
at which time the tradition was already formed and Christianity had
made its appearance in History as a power, be regarded as independent
authorities for facts which are supposed to have taken place long
before the birth of the Tradition? Tacitus can at most have heard
that the Christians were followers of a Christ who was supposed to
have been executed under Pontius Pilate. That was probably even at
that time in the Gospels–and need not, therefore, be a real fact
of history. And if it has been proved, according to Mommsen, that
Tacitus took his material from the protocols of the Senate and imperial
archives, there has equally been, on the other hand, a most definite
counter-assertion that he never consulted these authorities. [415]

Lately, Tacitus proving to be slightly inconsistent, it has been usual
to refer to Pliny’s letter to the Emperor Trajan, asserting that the
historical Jesus is certified to in this. The letter hinges on the
question of what Pliny’s attitude as Governor of Bithynia must be
to the Christians; so that naturally the Christians are much spoken
of, and once even there is mention of Christ, whose followers sing
alternate hymns to him “as to a God” (quasi deo). But Jesus as an
historical person is not once mentioned in the whole letter; and Christ
was even for Paul a “Quasi-god,” a being fluctuating between man and
God. What then is proved by the letter of Pliny as to the historical
nature of Jesus? It only proves the liberal theologians’ dilemma over
the whole question, that they think they can cite these witnesses
again and again for strengthening the belief in an historical Jesus,
as, e.g. Melhorn does in his work “Wahrheit und Dichtung im Leben Jesu”
(in “Aus Natur und Geisteswelt,” 1906), trying to make it appear that
these witnesses are in any way worthy of consideration. Joh. Weiss
also–according to the newspaper account–in his lecture on Christ in
the Berlin vacation-course of March, 1910, confessed that “statements
from secular literature as to the historical nature of Jesus which
are absolutely free of objection are very far from having been
authenticated.” Even an orthodox theologian like Kropatscheck writes
in the “Kreuzzeitung” (April 7, 1910): “It is well known that the
non-Christian writers in a very striking way ignore the appearing of
Christ. The few small notices in Tacitus, Suetonius, &c., are easily
enumerated. Though we date our chronology from him, his advent made no
impression at all on the great historians of his age. The Talmud gives
a hostile caricature of his advent which has no historical value. The
Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, from whom we might have expected
information of the first rank, is absolutely silent. We are referred
to our Gospels, as Paul also says little of the life of Jesus; and we
can understand how it is that attempts are always being made to remove
him, as an historical person, from the past.” The objection to this,
that the secular writers, even though they give no positive testimony
for Jesus’ historical existence, have never brought it in question,
is of very little strength. For the writings considered in it, viz.,
Justin’s conversation with the Jew Trypho, as well as the polemical
work of Celsus against Christianity, both belong to the latter half
of the second century, while the passages in the Talmud referred to
are probably of a later date, and all these passages are merely based
on the tradition. So that this “proof from silence” is in reality
no proof. It is, rather, necessary to explain why the whole of the
first century, apart from the Gospels, seems to know nothing of Jesus
as an historical personality. The Frenchman Hochart ridicules the
theological attitude: “It seems that the most distinguished men lose
a part of their brilliant character in the study of martyrology. Let
us leave it to German theologians to study history in their way. We
Frenchmen wish throughout our inquiries to preserve our clearness of
mind and healthy common-sense. Let us not invent new legends about
Nero: there are really too many already.” [416]

(b) The Objections against a Denial of the Historicity of the
Synoptic Jesus.

There the matter ends: we know nothing of Jesus, of an historical
personality of that name to whom the events and speeches recorded in
the Gospels refer. “In default of any historical certainty the name
of Jesus has become for Protestant theology an empty vessel, into
which that theology pours the content of its own meditations.” [417]
And if there is any excuse for this, it is that that name has never at
any time been anything but such an empty vessel: Jesus, the Christ,
the Deliverer, Saviour, Physician of oppressed souls, has been from
first to last a figure borrowed from myth, to whom the desire for
redemption and the naive faith of the Western Asiatic peoples have
transferred all their conceptions of the soul’s welfare. The “history”
of this Jesus in its general characteristics had been determined even
before the evangelical Jesus. Even Weinel, one of the most zealous
and enthusiastic adherents of the modern Jesus-worship, confesses that
“Christology was almost completed before Jesus came on earth.” [418]

It was not, however, merely the general frame and outlines of the
“history” of Jesus which had been determined in the Messiah-faith,
in the idea of a divine spirit sent from God, of the “Son of Man” of
Daniel and the Jewish Apocalyptics, &c., not merely that this vague
idea was filled out with new content through the Redeemer-worship of
the neighbouring heathen peoples. Besides this, many of the individual
traits of the Jesus-figure were present, some in heathen mythology,
some in the Old Testament; and they were taken thence and worked into
the evangelical representation. There is, for instance, the story of
the twelve-year old Jesus in the Temple. “Who would have invented this
story?” asks Jeremias. “Nevertheless,” he thinks it “probable” that in
this Luke was thinking of Philo’s description of the life of Moses;
he calls to mind that Plutarch gives us a quite similar statement
concerning Alexander, whose life was consciously decorated with all
the traits of the Oriental King-redeemer. [419] Perhaps, however, the
account comes from a Buddhist origin. The account of the temptation of
Jesus also sounds very much like the temptation of Buddha, so far as
it is not derived from the temptation of Zarathustra by Ahriman [420]
or the temptation of Moses by the devil, of which the Rabbis told,
[421] while Jesus is said to have entered upon his ministry in his
thirtieth year, [422] because at that age the Levite was fitted for
his sacred office. [423] Till then (i.e., till his baptism) we learn
nothing of Jesus’ life. Similarly Isa. liii. 2, jumps from the early
youth of the Servant of God (“He grew up as a tender plant, as a root
out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness, is despised and
rejected of men”) straight to his passion and death; while the Gospels
attempt to fill in the interval from Jesus’ baptism up to his passion
by painting in further so-called Messianic passages from the Old
Testament and Words of Jesus. We know how the early Christians liked
to rediscover their faith in the Scriptures and see it predicted,
and with what zeal they consequently studied the Old Testament and
altered the “history” of their Jesus to make it agree with those
predictions, thus rendering it valuable as corroboration of their own
notions. In this connection it has been shown above how the “ride of
the beardless one” influenced the collection of the tribute and his
direct attack on the shopkeepers and money-changers in the evangelical
account of Jesus’ advent to the Temple at Jerusalem. [424] But the
more detailed development of this scene is determined by Zech. ix. 9,
Mal. iii. 1-3, and Isa. i. 10 sqq., and the words placed in Jesus’
mouth on this occasion are taken from Isa. lvi. 7 and Jer. vii. 1
sqq., so that this “most important” event in Jesus’ life can lay no
claim to historical actuality. [425]

And again the account of the betrayal, of the thirty pieces of silver,
and of Judas’ death, have their source in the Old Testament, viz.,
in the betrayal and death of Ahitophel. [426] To what extent in
particular the figures of Moses, with reference to Deut. xviii. 15
and xxxiv. 10, of Joshua, of Elijah and Elisha, influenced the
portrayal of the evangelical Jesus has also been traced even by the
theological party. [427] Jesus has to begin his activities through
baptism in the Jordan, because Moses had begun his leadership of
Israel with the passage through the Red Sea and Joshua at the time
of the Passover led the people through the Jordan, and this passage
(of the sun through the watery regions of the sky) was regarded as
baptism. [428] He has to walk on the water, even as Moses, Joshua,
and Elias walked dryshod through the water. He has to awaken the
dead, like Elijah; [429] to surround himself with twelve or seventy
disciples and apostles, just as Moses had surrounded himself with
twelve chiefs of the people and seventy elders, and as Joshua had
chosen twelve assistants at the passage of the Jordan; [430] he has
to be transfigured, [431] and to ascend into heaven like Moses [432]
and Elijah. [433] Elijah (Eli-scha) and Jeho-schua (Joshua, Jesus)
agree even in their names, so that on this ground alone it would not
have been strange if the Prophet of the Old Testament had served as
prototype of his evangelical namesake. [434] Now Jesus places himself
in many ways above the Mosaic Law, especially above the commands as
to food, [435] and in this at least one might find a trait answering
to reality. But in the Rabbinical writings we find: “It is written,
[436] the Lord sets loose that which is bound; for every creature
that passes as unclean in this world, the Lord will pronounce clean
in the next.” [437] So that similarly the disposition of the Law
belongs to the general characteristics of the Messiah, and cannot be
historical of Jesus, because if it were the attitude of the Jewish
Christians to Paul on account of his disposition of the Law would
be incomprehensible. [438] The contrary attitude, which is likewise
represented by Jesus, [439] was already foreseen in the Messianic
expectation. For while some hoped for a lightening and amendment
of the Law by the Messiah, others thought of its aggravation and
completion. In Micah iv. 5 the Messiah was to exert his activity,
not merely among the Jews, but also among the Gentiles, and the
welfare of the kingdom of the Messiah was to extend also to the
latter. According to Isaiah lx. and Zechariah xiv., on the contrary,
the Gentiles were to be subjected and brought to nothing, and only
the Jews were worthy of participation in the kingdom of God. For
that reason Jesus had to declare himself with like determination for
both conceptions, [440] without any attempt being made to reconcile
the contradiction contained in this. [441] That the parents of Jesus
were called Joseph and Mary, and that his father was a “carpenter,”
were determined by tradition, just as the name of his birthplace,
Nazareth, was occasioned by the name of a sect (Nazaraios = Protector),
or by the fact that one sect honoured the Messiah as a “branch of the
root of Jesse” (nazar Isai). [442] It was a Messianic tradition that
he began his activity in Galilee and wandered about as Physician,
Saviour, Redeemer, and Prophet, as mediator of the union of Israel,
and as one who brought light to the Gentiles, not as an impetuous
oppressor full of inconsiderate strength, but as one who assumed a
loving tenderness for the weak and despairing. [443] He heals the sick,
comforts the afflicted, and proclaims to the poor the Gospel of the
nearness of the kingdom of God. That is connected with the wandering
of the sun through the twelve Signs of the Zodiac (Galil = circle),
and is based on Isa. xxxv. 5 sqq., xlii. 1-7, xlix. 9 sqq., as well
as on Isa. lxi. 1, a passage which Jesus himself, according to Luke
iv. 16 sqq., began his teaching in Nazareth by explaining. [444] He
had to meet with opposition in his work of salvation, and nevertheless
endure patiently, because of Isa. 1. 5. Naturally Jesus, behind whose
human nature was concealed a God, and to whom the pilgrim “Saviour”
Jason corresponded, [445] was obliged to reveal his true nature by
miraculous healing, and could not take a subordinate place in this
regard among the cognate heathen God-redeemers. At most we may wonder
that even in this the Old Testament had to stand [446] as a model,
and that Jesus’ doings never surpass those which the heathens praise
in their gods and heroes, e.g., Asclepius. Indeed, according to
Tacitus [447] even the Emperor Vespasian accomplished such miracles
at Alexandria, where, on being persistently pressed by the people,
he healed both a lame man and a blind, and this almost in the same
way as Jesus did, by moistening their eyes and cheeks with spittle;
which information is corroborated also by Suetonius [448] and Dio
Cassius. [449] But the most marvellous thing is that the miracles
of Jesus have been found worth mentioning by the critical theology,
and that there is an earnest search for an “historical nucleus,”
which might probably “underlie them.”

All the individual characteristics cited above are, however,
unimportant in comparison with the account of the Last Supper, of the
Passion, death (on the cross), and resurrection of Jesus. And yet
what is given us on these points is quite certainly unhistorical;
these parts of the Gospels owe their origin, as we have stated,
merely to cult-symbolism and to the myth of the dying and rising
divine Saviour of the Western Asiatic religions. No “genius” was
necessary for their invention, as everything was given: the derision,
[450] the flagellation, both the thieves, the crying out on the cross,
the sponge with vinegar (Psa. lxix. 22), the piercing with a lance,
[451] the soldiers casting dice for the dead man’s garments, also
the women at the place of execution and at the grave, the grave in a
rock, are found in just the same form in the worship of Adonis, Attis,
Mithras, and Osiris. Even the Saviour carrying his cross is copied from
Hercules (Simon of Cyrene), [452] bearing the pillars crosswise, as
well as from the story of Isaac, who carried his own wood to the altar
on which he was to be sacrificed. [453] But where the authors of the
Gospels have really found something new, e.g., in the account of Jesus’
trial, of the Roman and Jewish procedure, they have worked it out in
such an ignorant way, and to one who knows something about it betray
so significantly the purely fictitious nature of their account, that
here really there is nothing to wonder at except perhaps the naivete of
those who still consider that account historical, and pique themselves
a little on their “historical exactness” and “scientific method.” [454]

Is not Robertson perhaps right after all in considering the whole
statement of the last fate of Jesus to be the rewriting of a dramatic
Mystery-play, which among the Gentile Christians of the larger cities
followed the sacramental meal on Easter Day? We know what a great role
was played by dramatic representations in numerous cults of antiquity,
and how they came into especial use in connection with the veneration
of the suffering and rising God-redeemers. Thus in Egypt the passion,
death, and resurrection of Osiris and the birth of Horus; at Eleusis
the searching and lamentation of Demeter for her lost Persephone and
the birth of Iacchus; at Lernae in Argolis and many other places the
fate of Dionysus (Zagreus); in Sicyon the suffering of Adrastos, who
threw himself on to the funeral pyre of his father Hercules; at Amyclae
the passing away of Nature and its new life in the fate of Hyacinth:
these were celebrated in festal pageants and scenic representations,
to say nothing of the feasts of the death and resurrection of Mithras,
Attis, and Adonis. Certainly Matthew’s account, xx.-xxviii. (with the
exception of verses 11-15 in the last chapter), with its connected
sequence of events, which could not possibly have actually followed
each other like this–Supper, Gethsemane, betrayal, passion, Peter’s
denial, the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection–throughout gives
one the impression of a chain of isolated dramatic scenes. And the
close of the Gospel agrees very well with this conception, for the
parting words and exhortations of Jesus to his people are a very
suitable ending to a drama. [455]

If we allow this, an explanation is given of the “clearness” which is
so generally praised in the style of the Gospels by the theologians
and their following, and which many think sufficient by itself to
prove the historical nature of the Synoptic representation of Jesus.

Of course, Wrede has already warned us “not too hastily to consider
clearness a sign of historical truth. A writing may have a very
secondary, even apocryphal character, and yet show much clearness. The
question always is how this was obtained.” [456] Wernle and Wrede quite
agree that at least in Mark’s production the clearness is of no account
at all, while clearness in the other Gospels is found just in those
parts which admittedly belong to the sphere of legend. And how clearly
and concretely do not our authors of the various “Lives of Jesus,” not
to mention Renan, or our ministers in the pulpits describe the events
of the Gospels, with how many small and attractive traits do they
not decorate these events, in order that they should have a greater
effect on their listeners! This kind of clearness and personal stamp
is really nothing but a matter of the literary skill and imagination
of the authors in question. The writings of the Old Testament, and
not merely the historical writings, are also full of a most clear
ability for narration and of most individual characteristics,
which prove how much the Rabbinical writers in Palestine knew
of this side of literary activity. Or is anything wanting to the
clearness and individual characterisation, to which Kalthoff also
has alluded, of the touching story of Ruth; of the picture of the
prophet Jonah, of Judith, Esther, Job, &c? And then the stories of the
patriarchs–the pious Abraham, the good-natured, narrow-minded Esau,
the cunning Jacob, and their respective wives–or, to take one case,
how clear is not the meeting of Abraham’s servant with Rebecca at the
well! [457] Or let us consider Moses, Elijah, Samson–great figures
who in their most essential traits demonstrably belong to myth and
religious fable! If in preaching our ministers can go so vividly into
the details of the story of the Saviour that fountains of poetry are
opened and there stream forth from their lips clear accounts of Jesus’
goodness of heart, of his heroic greatness, and of his readiness for
the sacrifice, how much more would this have been so at first in the
Christian community, when the new religion was still in its youth,
when the faith in the Messiah was as yet unweakened by sceptical
doubts, and when the heart of man was still filled with the desire
for immediate and final redemption? And even if we are confronted
with a host of minor traits, which cannot so easily be accounted for
by religious motives and poetic imagination, must these all refer to
the same real personality? May they not be based on events which are
very far from being necessarily experiences of the liberal theology’s
historical Jesus? Even Edward v. Hartmann, who is generally content
to adhere to the historical Jesus, suggests the possibility “that
several historical personages, who lived at quite different times,
have contributed concrete individual characteristics to the picture of
Jesus.” [458] There is a great deal of talk about the “uninventable”
in the evangelical representation. Von Soden even goes so far as to
base his chief proof for the historical existence of Jesus on this
individuality that cannot be invented. [459] As if there was any such
thing as what cannot be invented for men with imagination! And as if
all the significant details of Jesus’ life were not invented on the
lines of the so-called Messianic passages in the Old Testament, in
heathen mythology, and in the imported conceptions of the Messiah! The
part that is professedly “uninventable” shrinks continuously the more
assiduously criticism busies itself with the Gospels; and the word can
at present apply only to side-issues and matters of no importance. We
are indeed faced with the strange fact, that all the essential part of
the Gospels, everything which is of importance for religious faith,
such as especially the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus,
is demonstrably invented and mythical; but such parts as can at best
only be historical because of their supposed “uninventable” nature
are of no importance for the character of the Gospel representation!

Now, it has been shown that the Gospel picture of Jesus is not without
deficiencies. We may see a proof [460] of the historical nature of
the events referred to in small traits, as, for example, in Jesus’
temporary inability to perform miracles, [461] the circumstance that he
is not represented as omniscient, [462] the attitude of his relatives
to him. [463] So the theologian Schmiedel set up first five and then
nine passages as “clearly credible,” and pronounced these to be the
basis of a really scientific knowledge of Jesus. The passages are Mark
x. 17 sqq. (Why callest thou me good?), Matt. xii. 31 sqq. (The sin
against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven), Mark iii. 21 (He is
beside himself), Mark xiii. 32 (But the day and the hour is known to
no man), Mark xv. 24 (My God, why has thou forsaken me?), Mark vi. 5
(And he could there do no mighty work), Mark viii. 12 (There shall no
sign be given unto this generation), Mark viii. 14-21 (Reproaching the
disciples on the occasion of the lack of bread), Matt. xi. 5 (The blind
see, the lame walk). All these “bases” evidently have a firm support
only on the supposition that the Gospels are meant to paint a stainless
ideal, a God, that they are at most but a conception, such, perhaps,
as has been set up by Bruno Bauer. But they are useless from the point
of view intended, as portraying a man. If, however, the Evangelists’
intention was to paint the celestial Christ of the Apostle Paul, the
God-man, the abstract spirit-being, as a completely real man for the
eyes of the faithful, to place him on the ground of historical reality,
and so to treat seriously Paul’s “idea” of humanity, they were obliged
to give him also human characteristics. And these could be either
invented afresh or taken from the actual life of honoured teachers,
in which the fact is acknowledged that, even for the noblest and best
of men, there are hours of despair and grief, that the prophet is
worth nothing in his own fatherland, or is even unknown to his nearest
relatives. Even the prophet Elijah, the Old Testament precursor of
the Messiah, who has in many ways determined the picture of Jesus, is
said to have had moments of despair in which he wanted to die, till
God strengthened him anew to the fulfilment of his vocation. [464]
Moreover, Mark x. 17 was a commonplace in all ancient philosophy
from the time of Plato, and gained that form by an alteration of
the original text (A. Pott, “Der Text des Neuen Testaments nach
seiner gesch. Entwicklung” in “Aus Natur und Geisteswelt,” 1906,
p. 63, sq.); Mark xiv. 24 is taken from the 22nd Psalm, which has
also in other respects determined the details of the account of the
crucifixion. Mark iii. 21 is, as Schleiermacher showed and Strauss
corroborated, a pure invention of the Evangelist, the words of the
Pharisees being put into their mouths, as their opinion, in order
to explain Jesus’ answer by the assertion of his kinship (Strauss,
“Leben Jesu,” i. 692; cf. also Psa. lix. 1: “I am become a stranger
unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children”). Matt. xi. 5
is based on Isaiah xxxv. 5, xlii. 7, xlix. 9, lxi. 1, which runs in
the Septuagint: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord
hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the poor; he hath sent
me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and to the blind the opening of their eyes; to proclaim the acceptable
year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort
all that mourn.” [465] Schmiedel’s nine “bases” consequently are at
most testimony to a “lost glory”; but the construction of a “really
scientific” life of Jesus cannot possibly arise from them. [466]

Clearness of exposition, then, can never afford a proof of the
historical nature of the matter concerned. And how easily is not this
clearness imported by us into the evangelical information! We are
brought up in the atmosphere of these tales, and carry about with us,
under the influence of the surrounding Christianity, an imaginary
picture of them, which we unwittingly introduce into our reading of
the Gospels. And how subjective and dependent on the reader’s “taste”
the impression of clearness given by the Gospel picture of Jesus is,
to what a great extent personal predilections come in, is evidenced by
this fact, that a Vollers could not discover in the Gospels any real
man of flesh and blood, but only a “shadowy image,” which he analysed
into a thaumaturgical (the miracle-worker) and a soteriological (the
Saviour) part. [467] In opposition to the efforts of the historical
theology to give Jesus a “unique” position above that of all other
founders of religions, Vollers justly remarks how difficult it
must be for the purely historical treatment to recognise these and
similar assertions. “The improbability, not to say impossibility,
of the soteriological picture is too obvious. At bottom this picture
of critical theology is nothing but the contemporary transformation
of Schleiermacher’s ideal man; what must have a hundred years ago
appeared comprehensible as the product of a refined Moravianism, in
the atmosphere of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, is nowadays a mere
avoidance of an open and honourable analysis from the point of view
that prevails outside of theology, and is principally known in the
spheres of Nature and of History. Who would deny that the tone of the
catechism and of the pulpit, that full-sounding words of many meanings,
even the concealment and glossing over of unpleasant admissions,
play a part in this sphere such as they could never have in in any
other science?”

We are then reduced to the individual maxims and sermons of
Jesus. These must be proved to be intelligible only as the personal
experiences and thoughts of one supreme individual. Unfortunately
just this, as has already been proved, seems peculiarly doubtful. As
for Jesus’ sermons, we have already understood from Wernle that
they were in any case not received from Jesus in the form in
which they have been handed down to us, but were subsequently
compiled by the Evangelists from isolated and occasional maxims of
his. [468] These single phrases and occasional utterances of Jesus
are supposed to have been taken in the last resort partly from oral
tradition, partly from the Aramaic collection–that “great source”
of Wernle’s–which was translated into Greek by the Gospels. The
existence of this source has been established only very indirectly,
and we know absolutely nothing more of it. But it is self-evident
that even in the translation from one language into another much of
the originality of those “words of the Lord” must have been lost;
and, as may be shown, the different Evangelists have “translated”
the same words quite differently. Whether it will be possible to
reconstruct the original work, as critical theology is striving to
do, from the material before us, seems very questionable. And we are
given no guarantee that we have to do with actual “words of the Lord”
as they were contained in the Aramaic collection.

Even if the Evangelist is supposed to have expressed the original
meaning, what is to assure us that this phrase was spoken by Jesus
just in this way, and not in other connections, if even the phrases
were taken down as soon as uttered? But this is admittedly supposed
not to have occurred till after Jesus’ death, after his Messianic
significance was clearly recognised, and after people were making
efforts to go back in memory to the Master’s figure and preserve of
his sayings any that were serviceable. Bousset, indeed, in his work,
“Was wissen wir von Jesus?”–which was directed against Kalthoff–has
referred to the “good Oriental memory of the disciples.” All who know
the East from personal experience are in tolerable agreement on one
point, viz., how little an Oriental is able to repeat what he has heard
or experienced in a true and objective fashion. Consequently there
are in the East no historical traditions in our sense of the word,
but all important events are decorated like a novel, and are changed
according to the necessities of the moment. Such maxims, indeed,
as “Love your enemies,” “To give is more blessed than to receive,”
“No one but God is good,” “Blessed are the poor,” “You are the light
of the world,” “Give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s,” &c., once heard
may be “not easily forgotten,” as the theological phrase runs. But
also they are not of such a kind that the Jesus of liberal theology
was necessary for their invention.

We need not here take into consideration how many of Jesus’ expressions
may have been imported into the Gospels from the Mystery drama, with
whose existence we must nevertheless reckon, and from which phrases
may have been changed into sayings of the “historical” Jesus. Such
obscure and high-flown passages as, e.g., Matt. x. 32 sq.; xi. 15-30,
xxvi. 64, and xxviii. 18, give one the impression of coming from the
mouth of God’s representative on the stage; and this probability is
further increased when we meet quite similar expressions, such as of
the “light burden” and the “easy yoke,” in the Mysteries of Mithras or
of Isis. [469] Bousset admits that all the individual words which have
been handed down to us as expressions of Jesus are “mediated by the
tradition of a community, and have passed through many hands.” [470]
They are, as Strauss has observed, like pebbles which the waves of
tradition have rolled and polished, setting them down here and there
and uniting them to this and that mass. “We are,” Steck remarks,
“absolutely certain of no single word of the Gospels–that it was
spoken by Jesus just in this way and in no other.” [471] “It would
be very difficult,” thinks Vollers, “to refer even one expression,
one parable, one act of this ideal man to Jesus of Nazareth with
historical certainty, let us say with the same certainty with which we
attribute the Epistle to the Galatians to the Apostle Paul, or explain
the Johannine Logos as the product of Greek philosophy.” [472] Even one
of the leaders of Protestant orthodoxy, Professor Kaehler, of Halle,
admitted, as was stated in the “Kirchliche Monatsblatt fuer Rheinland
und Westfalen,” in a theological conference held in Dortmund, that
we possess “no single authentic word” of Jesus. Any attempt, such as
Chamberlain has made, to gather from the tradition a certain nucleus
of “words of Jesus,” is consequently mistaken; and if nothing is to
be a criterion but one’s personal feelings, it would be better to
confess at once that here there can be no talk of any kind of decision.

It is, then, settled that we cannot with certainty trace back to an
historical Jesus any single one of the expressions of the “Lord”
that have come down to us. Even the oldest authority, the Aramaic
collection, may have contained merely the tradition of a community. Can
we then think that the supporters of an “historical” Jesus are
right in treating it as nothing more than a “crude sin against all
historical methods,” as something most monstrous and unscientific, if
one draws the only possible inference from the result of the criticism
of the Gospels, and disputes the existence at any time of an historical
Jesus? There may after all have been such a collection of “words of the
Lord” in the oldest Christian communities; but must we understand by
this words of a definite human individual? May they not rather have
been words which had an authoritative and canonical acceptation in
the community, being either specially important or congenial to it,
and which were for this reason attributed to the “Lord”–that is,
to the hero of the association or cult, Jesus? It has been generally
agreed that this was the case, for example, with the directions as to
action in the case of quarrels among the members of the community [473]
and with regard to divorce. [474] Let us also recall to our minds the
“words of the Lord” in the other cult-associations of antiquity, the
autos epha of the Pythagoreans. And how many particularly popular,
impressive, and favourite sayings were current in antiquity bearing
the names of one of the “Seven Wise Men,” without any one dreaming
of ascribing to them an historical signification! How then can it
be anything but hasty and uncritical to give out the “words of the
Lord” in the collection, which are the basis of Jesus’ sermons in the
Gospels, as sayings of one definite Rabbi–that is, of the “historical”
Jesus? One may have as high an opinion of Jesus’ words as one likes:
the question is whether Jesus, even the Jesus of liberal theology,
is their spiritual father, or whether they are not after all in the
same position as the psalms or sayings of the Old Testament which
are current in the names of David and Solomon, and of which we know
quite positively that their authors were neither the one nor the other.

But perhaps those sayings and sermons of Jesus are of such a nature
that they could only arise from the “historical Jesus”? Of a great
number both of isolated sayings and parables of Jesus–and among
these indeed the most beautiful and the most admired, for example,
the parable of the good Samaritan, whose moral content coincides with
Deut. xxix. 1-4, of the Prodigal Son, [475] of the man that sowed–we
know that they were borrowed [476] partly from Jewish philosophy,
partly from oral tradition of the Talmud, and partly from other
sources. In any case they have no claim to originality. [477] This
holds good even of the Sermon on the Mount, which is, as has been
shown by Jewish scholars in particular, and as Robertson has once
more proved, a mere patchwork taken from ancient Jewish literature,
and, together with the Lord’s Prayer, contains not a single thought
which has not its prototype in the Old Testament and in the ancient
philosophical maxims of the Jewish people. [478] Moreover, the
remaining portions, whose genesis from any other quarter is at least
as yet unproved, is not at all of such a nature that it could only
have arisen in the mind of such a personality as the theological Jesus
of Nazareth. At bottom, indeed, he neither said nor taught anything
beyond the purer morality of contemporary Judaism–to say nothing at
all of the Stoics and of the other ethical teachers of antiquity, in
particular those of the Indians. The gravest suspicion of their novelty
and originality is awakened at the Gospels’ emphasising the novelty
and significance of Jesus’ sayings by “the ancients said”–“but I say
unto you”; attempting thereby to make an artificial contradiction with
the former spiritual and moral standpoint of Judaism, even in places
where only a look at the Old Testament is necessary to convince us that
such a contradiction does not exist, as, for example, in the case of
the love of God and of one’s neighbor. [479] Moreover, our cultivated
reverence for Jesus and the overwhelming glorification of everything
connected with him has surrounded a great many of the “words of the
Lord” with a glitter of importance which stands in no relation to
their real value, and which they would never have obtained had they
been handed down to us in another connection or under some other name.

Let us only think how much that is in itself quite trivial and
insignificant has been raised to quite an unjustifiable importance
merely through the use of the pulpit and the consecration of divine
service. Even though our theologians are not already tired of extolling
the “uniqueness,” incomparability, and majesty of Jesus’ words and
parables, they might nevertheless just for once consider how much
that is of little worth, how much that is mistaken, spiritually
insignificant and morally insufficient, even absolutely doubtful,
there is in what Jesus preached. [480] In this connection it has
always been the custom to extenuate the tradition by referring to the
inexactitude or to fly in the face of any genuine historical method
by tortuous elucidations of the passages in question, by unmeaning
references to the temporal and educational limitations even of the
“superman,” and by suppression of the disagreeable parts.

How much trouble have not our theologians taken, and do they not even
now take, to show even one single point in Jesus’ doctrines which
may justify their declaring with a good conscience his “uniqueness”
in the sense understood by them, and may justify their raising their
purely human Jesus as high as possible above his own age! Not one of
all the passages quoted to this end has been allowed to remain. The
Synoptic Jesus taught neither a new and loftier morality, nor a
“new meekness,” nor a deepened consciousness of God; neither
the “indestructible value of the individual souls of men” in the
present-day individualistic sense, nor even freedom as against the
Jewish Law, nor the immanence of the kingdom of God, nor anything
else, that surpassed the capabilities of another intellectually
distinguished man of his age. Even the love, the general love, of
one’s neighbour, the preaching of which is with the greater portion of
the laity the chief claim to veneration possessed by the historical
Jesus, in the Synoptics plays no very important part in Jesus’ moral
conception of life; governing no wider sphere than had already been
allowed it in the Old Testament. [481] And if the pulpit eloquence
of nineteen hundred years has nevertheless attempted to lay stress
on this point, it is because it counts on the faithful not having
in mind the difference between the Gospels, and on their peacefully
permitting the Gospel of John, the one and only “gospel of love,”
which, however, is not supposed to be “historical,” to be substituted
for the Synoptic Gospels. And so we actually see the glorification of
Jesus’ doctrines which, a short time ago, flourished so luxuriantly,
appearing recently in more and more moderate terms. [482]

Thus it was for a time customary in theology, under the influence of
Holtzmann and Harnack, to consider the ethical deepening and return
of God’s “fatherly love” as the essentially new and significant
point in Jesus’ “glad tidings,” and to write about it in unctuous
phrases. Recently, even this seems to have been abandoned, as,
for example, Wrede openly confesses, with respect to the “filiation
to God,” that this conception existed in Judaism very long before
Christ; also that Jesus did not especially preach God as the loving
“Father” of each individual, that indeed he did not once place in
the foreground the name of God as the Father. [483] But so much
the more decidedly is reference made to the “enormous effects”
which attended Jesus’ appearance, and the attempt is made to prove
from them his surpassing greatness, “uniqueness,” and historical
reality. As if Zarathustra, Buddha, and Mohammed had achieved less,
as if the effects which proceed from a person must stand in a certain
relation to his human significance, and as if those effects were
to be ascribed to the “historical” and not rather to the mythical
Jesus–that is, to the idea of the God sacrificing himself for
humanity! As a matter of fact, his faith in the immediate proximity
of the Messianic kingdom of God, and the demand for a change of life
based on this, which is really “unique” in the traditional Jesus,
is without any religious and ethical significance for us, and is at
most only of interest for the history of civilisation. On the other
hand, such part of his teaching as is still of importance to us is
not “unique,” and only has the reputation of being so because we are
accustomed by a theological education to treat it in the light of the
Christian dogmatic metaphysics of redemption. Plato, Seneca, Epictetus,
Laotse, or Buddha in their ethical views are not behind Jesus with his
egoistical pseudo-morals, his basing moral action on the expectation
of reward and punishment in the future, his narrow-minded nationalism,
which theologians in vain attempt to debate away and to conceal; and
his obscure mysticism, which strives to attain a special importance for
its maxims by mysterious references to his “heavenly Father.” [484]
And as for the “great impression” which Jesus is supposed to have
made on his own people and on the following age, and without which
the history of Christianity is supposed to be inexplicable, Kalthoff
has shown with justice that the Gospels do not in any way reflect the
impression which a person produced, but only such as the accounts of
Jesus’ personality would have made on the members of the Christian
community. “Even the strongest impression proves nothing as to the
historical truth of these accounts. Even an account of a fictitious
personage may produce the deepest impression on a community if it
is given in historical terms. What an impression Goethe’s “Werther”
produced, though the whole world knew that it was only a romance! Yet
it stirred up countless disciples and imitators.” [485]

In this we have at the same time a refutation of the popular objection
that to deny the historical existence of Jesus is to misunderstand
“the significance of personality in the historical life of peoples
and religions.” Certainly, as Mehlhorn says, active devotion above
all is enkindled to persons in whom this personality strikes us in an
evident, elevating, and animating way. [486] But in order to enkindle
devotion and faith in Jesus Christ the elevating personality of a Paul
sufficed, whether or not he was the author of the epistles current
in his name; the missionary activity of apostles, working, like him,
in the service of the Jesus-creed, was enough, since they moved
from place to place, and, often undergoing great personal sacrifice
and privation, with danger to their own lives demanded adoration of
the new God. Those in need of redemption could never find any real
religious support outside of the faith in a divine redeemer, they
could never find satisfaction and deliverance but in the idea of the
God sacrificing himself for mankind–the God whose redeeming power and
whose distinct superiority to the other Mystery-deities the apostles
could portray in such a lively and striking fashion. That an idea
can only be effective and fruitful by means of a great personality
is a barren formula. [487] In thinking they can with this argument
support their faith in an historical Jesus liberal theologians avail
themselves of an irrelevant bit of modern street-philosophy without
noticing that in their case it proves nothing at all. Where, then,
is the “great personality” which gave to Mithraism such an efficacy
that in the first century of our era it was able to conquer from the
East almost the whole of the West and to make it doubtful for a time
whether the world was to be Mithraic or Christian? In such influential
religions as those of Dionysus and Osiris, or indeed in Brahmanism,
we cannot speak of great personalities as their “founders”; and as
for Zarathustra, the pretended founder of the Persian, and Moses, the
founder of the Israelite religion, they are not historical persons;
while the views of different investigators differ as to the historical
existence of the reputed founder of Buddhism. Of course, even in
the above-mentioned religions the particular ideas would have been
brought forward by brilliant individuals, and the movements depending
on them would have been first organised and rendered effective by men
of energy and purpose. But the question is whether persons of this
type are necessarily “great,” even “unique,” in the sense of liberal
theology, in order to be successful. So that to set aside Paul, whose
inspiring personality gifted with a genius for organisation we know
from his epistles,–to set him aside in favour of an imaginary Jesus,
to base the importance of the Christian religion on the “uniqueness”
of its supposed founder, and to base this uniqueness in turn on the
importance of the religious movement which resulted from it, is to
abandon the critical standpoint and to turn about in circles. “It is
an empty assertion,” says Luetzelberger, “without any real foundation,
that the invention of such a person as the Gospels give us in their
Jesus would have been quite impossible, as we find in him such a
peculiar and sharply defined character that imagination would never
have been able to invent and adhere to it. For the personality which
meets us in the Gospels is by no means one that is sharply drawn and
true to itself; but the story shows us rather a man who from quite
different mental tendencies spoke now one way and now another, and
is perfectly different in the first and fourth Gospels. Only with
the greatest trouble can a homogeneous and coherent whole be formed
from the descriptions in the Gospels. So that we are absolutely
wrong in concluding from the originality of the person of Christ
in the Gospels to their historical credibility.” The conclusion is
much more justifiable that if such a person with such a life-history
and such speech had stood at the beginning of the Christian Church,
the history of its development must have been quite a different one,
just as the history of Judaism would have been different if a Moses
with his Law had stood at its head. [488]

And now if we compare the praises of Buddha in the Lalita Vistara with
the description of Jesus’ personality given in the New Testament, we
will be convinced how similarly–even if we exclude the hypothesis of
a direct influence–and under what like conditions the kindred religion
took shape: “In the world of creatures, which was long afflicted by the
evils of natural corruption, thou didst appear, O king of physicians,
who redeemest us from all evil. At thy approach, O guide, unrest
disappears, and gods and men are filled with health. Thou art the
protector, the firm foundation, the chief, the leader of the world,
with thy gentle and benevolent disposition. Thou art the best of
physicians, who bringest the perfect means of salvation and healest
suffering. Distinguished by thy compassion and sympathy, thou governest
the things of the world. Distinguished by thy strength of mind and
good works, completely pure, thou hast attained to perfection, and,
thyself redeemed, thou wilt, as the prophet of the four truths, redeem
other creatures also. The power of the Evil One has been overcome
by wisdom, courage, and humility. Thou hast brought it about,–the
highest and immortal glory. We greet thee as the conqueror of the
army of the Deceiver. Thou whose word is without fault, who freest
from error and passion, hast trod the path of eternal life; thou dost
deserve in heaven and on earth honour and homage unparalleled. Thou
quickenest Gods and men with thy clear words. By the beams which go
forth from thee thou art the conqueror of this universe, the Master of
Gods and men. Thou didst appear, Light of the Law, destroyer of misery
and ignorance, completely filled with humility and majesty. Sun, moon,
and fires no longer shine before thee and thy fulness of imperishable
glory. Thou who teachest us to know truth from falsehood, ghostly
leader with the sweetest voice, whose spirit is calm, whose passions
are controlled, whose heart is perfectly at rest, who teachest what
should be taught, who bringest about the union of gods and men: I
greet thee, Sakhyamuni, as the greatest of men, as the wonder of the
three thousand worlds, who deservest honour and homage in heaven and on
earth, from Gods and men!” Where, then, is the “uniqueness” of Jesus,
into which the future divinity of the World-redeemer has disappeared
for modern critical theology, and into which it has striven to import
all the sentimental considerations which once belonged to the “God-man”
in the sense of the Church dogma? “Nothing is more negative than the
result of the inquiry into the life of Jesus. The Jesus of Nazareth,
who appeared as the Messiah, who proclaimed the morals of the kingdom
of God, who founded the kingdom of heaven upon earth, and died to
give consecration to his acts, never existed. He is a figure which was
invented by Rationalism, restored by Liberalism, and painted over with
historical science by modern theologians.” With these words of the
theologian Schweitzer [489] the present inquiry may be said to agree.

In fact, in the Gospels we have nothing but the expression of the
consciousness of a community. In this respect the view supported
by Kalthoff is completely right. The life of Jesus, as portrayed by
the Synoptics, merely brings to an expression in historical garb the
metaphysical ideas, religious hopes, the outer and inner experiences
of the community which had Jesus for its cult-god. His opinions,
statements, and parables only reflect the religious-moral conceptions,
the temporary sentiments, the casting down and the joy of victory,
the hate and the love, the judgments and prejudices of the members of
the community, and the differences and contradictions in the Gospels
prove to be the developing material of the conception of the Messiah
in different communities and at different times. Christ takes just
the same position in the religious-social brotherhoods which are named
after him as Attis has in the Phrygian, Adonis in the Syrian, Osiris
in the Egyptian, Dionysus, Hercules, Hermes, Asclepius, &c., in the
Greek cult-associations. He is but another form of these club-gods
or patrons of communities, and the cult devoted to him shows in
essentials the same forms as those devoted to the divinities above
named. The place of the bloody expiatory sacrifice of the believers
in Attis, wherein they underwent “baptism of blood” in their yearly
March festival, and wherein they obtained the forgiveness of their
sins and were “born again” to a new life, was in Rome the Hill of
the Vatican. In fact, the very spot on which in Christian times the
Church of Peter grew above the so-called grave of the apostle. It
was at bottom merely an alteration of the name, not of the matter,
when the High Priest of Attis blended his role with that of the High
Priest of Christ, and the Christ-cult spread itself from this new
point far over the other parts of the Roman Empire.

(c) The True Character of the Synoptic Jesus.

The Synoptic Gospels leave open the question whether they treat
of a man made God or of a God made man. The foregoing account has
shown that the Jesus of the Gospels is to be understood only as a
God made man. The story of his life, as presented in the Gospels,
is the rendering into history of a primitive religious myth. Most
of the great heroes of the legend, which passes as historical, are
similar incarnate Gods–such as Jason, Hercules, Achilles, Theseus,
Perseus, Siegfried, &c.; in these we have nothing but the old Aryan
sun–champion in the struggle against the powers of darkness and of
death. That primitive Gods in the view of a later age should become
men, without, however, ceasing to be clothed with the glamour of the
deity, is to such an extent the ordinary process, that the reverse,
the elevation of men to Gods, is as a rule only found in the earliest
stages of human civilisation, or in periods of moral and social decay,
when fawning servility and worthless flattery fashion a prominent man,
either during his life or after his death, into a divine being. Even
the so-called “Bible Story” contains numerous examples of such God
made men: the patriarchs, Joseph, Joshua, Samson, Esther, Mordecai,
Haman, Simon Magus, the magician Elymas, &c., were originally pure
Gods, and in the description of their lives old Semitic star-myths and
sun-myths obtained a historical garb. If we cannot doubt that Moses,
the founder of the old covenant, was a fictitious figure, and that his
“history” was invented by the priests at Jerusalem only for the purpose
of sanctioning and basing on his authority the law of the priests named
after him; if for this end the whole history of Israel was falsified,
and the final event in the religious development of Israel, i.e., the
giving of the Law, was placed at the beginning–why cannot what was
possible with Moses have been repeated in the case of Jesus? Why may
not also the founder of the new covenant as an historical person belong
entirely to pious legend? According to Herodotus, [490] the Greeks also
changed an old Phoenician God, Hercules, for national reasons, into a
native hero, the son of Amphitryon, and incorporated him in their own
sphere of ideas. Let us consider how strong the impulse was, especially
among Orientals, to make history of purely internal experiences and
ideas. To carry historical matter into the sphere of myth, and to
conceive myth as history, is, as is shown by the investigations of
Winckler, Schrader, Jensen, &c., for the Orientals such a matter of
course, that, as regards the accounts in the Old Testament, it is
hardly possible to distinguish their genuinely “historical nucleus”
from its quasi-historical covering. And it is more especially the
Semitic thought of antiquity which proves to be completely unable
to distinguish mythical phantasy from real event! It is, indeed,
too often said that the Semite produced and possessed no mythology
of his own, as Renan asserted; and no doubt at all is possible that
they could not preserve as such and deal with the mythical figures and
events whencesoever they derived them, but always tended to translate
them into human form and to associate them with definite places and
times. “The God of the Semites is associated with place and object,
he is a Genius loci,” says Winckler. [491] But if ever a myth required
to be clothed in the garment of place and the metaphysical ideas
contained in it to be separated into a series of historical events,
it was certainly the myth of the God sacrificing himself for humanity,
who sojourned among men in human form, suffered with the rest of men
and died, returning, after victoriously overcoming the dark powers
of death, to the divine seat whence he set out.

We understand how the God Jesus, consequent on his symbolical
unification with the man sacrificed in his stead, could come to be
made human, and how on this basis the faith in the resurrection of God
in the form of an historical person could arise. But how the reverse
process could take place, how the man Jesus could be elevated into a
God, or could ever fuse with an already existing God of like name into
the divine-human redeemer–indeed, the Deity–that is and remains, as
we have already said, a psychological puzzle. The only way to solve
it is to refer to the “inscrutable secrets of the Divine will.” In
what other way can we explain how “that simple child of man, as he has
been described,” could so very soon after his death be elevated into
that “mystical being of imagination,” into that “celestial Christ,”
as he meets us in the epistles of Paul? There can only have been at
most seven, probably three, years, according to a recent estimate
hardly one year, between the death of Jesus and the commencement
of Paul’s activity. [492] And this short time is supposed to have
sufficed to transform the man Jesus into the Pauline Christ! And
not only Paul is supposed to have been able to do this; even Jesus’
immediate disciples, who sat with him at the same table, ate and drank
with him, knowing then who Jesus was, are supposed to have declared
themselves in agreement with this, and to have prayed to him whom they
had always seen praying to the “Father”! Certainly in antiquity the
deification of a man was nothing extraordinary: Plato and Aristotle
were, after their death, honoured by their pupils as god-like beings;
Demetrius Poliorcetes, Alexander, the Ptolemies, &c., had divine
honours rendered to them even during their lives. But this style of
deification is completely different from that which is supposed to
have been allotted to Jesus. It is merely an expression of personal
gratitude and attachment, of overflowing sentiment and characterless
flattery, and never obtained any detailed theological formulation. It
was the basis for no new religion. Schopenhauer has very justly pointed
out the contradiction between Paul’s apotheosis of Jesus and usual
historical experience, and remarked that from this consideration
could be drawn an argument against the authenticity of the Pauline
epistles. [493] In fact, Holtzmann considers, with reference to this
assertion of the philosopher’s, the question “whether the figure of
Jesus attaining such colossal dimensions in Paul’s sight may not be
taken to establish the distance between the two as that of only a few
years, if there was not immediate temporal contact,” as the question
“most worthy of discussion, which the critics of the Dutch school have
propounded for consideration.” [494] According to the prevalent view of
critical theologians, as presented even by Pfleiderer, the apparitions
of the “Lord,” which after Jesus’ death were seen by the disciples
who had fled from Jerusalem, the “ecstatic visionary experiences,
in which they thought they saw their crucified Master living and
raised up to heavenly glory,” were the occasion of their faith in
the resurrection, and consequently of their faith in Jesus’ divine
role as Redeemer. [495] Pathological states of over-excited men and
hysterical women are then supposed to form the “historical foundation”
for the genesis of the Christian religion! And with such opinions they
think themselves justified in looking down on the rationalist of the
eighteenth-century Enlightenment with supreme contempt, and in boasting
of the depth to which their religious-historical insight reaches! But
if we really admit, with historical theology, this more than doubtful
explanation, which degrades Christianity into the merely chance product
of mental excitement, at once the further question arises as to how
the new religion of the small community of the Messiah at Jerusalem
was able to spread itself abroad with such astounding rapidity that,
even so soon as at most two decades after Jesus’ death, we meet
with Christian communities not only over the whole of Western Asia,
but also in the islands of the Mediterranean, in the coast-towns of
Greece, even in Italy, at Puteoli, and in Rome; and this at a time
when as yet not a line had been written about the Jewish Rabbi. [496]
Even the theologian Schweitzer is obliged to confess of historical
theology that “until it has in some way explained how it was that,
under the influence of the Jewish sect of the Messiah, Greek and
Roman popular Christianity appeared at all points simultaneously,
it must admit a formal right of existence to all hypotheses, even the
most extravagant, which seek to attack and solve this problem.” [497]

If in all this it is shown to be possible, or even probable, that
in the Jesus of the Gospels we have not a deified man, but rather a
humanised God, there remains but to find an answer to the question as
to what external reasons led to the transplanting of the God Jesus into
the soil of historical actuality and the reduction of the eternal or
super-historical fact of his redeeming death and of his resurrection
into a series of temporal events.

This question is answered at once if we turn our attention to the
motives present in the earliest Christian communities known to us,
which motives appear in the Acts and in the Pauline epistles. From
these sources we know at what an early stage an opposition arose
between Paul’s Gentile Christianity and the Jewish Christianity,
the chief seat of which was at Jerusalem, and which for this reason,
as we can understand, claimed for itself a special authority. As
long as the former persecutor of the Christian community, over whose
conversion they could not at first rejoice too much, [498] did not
obstruct others and seemed to justify his apostolic activity by his
success among the Gentiles, they left him to go his way. But when
Paul showed his independence by his reserve before the “Brothers”
at Jerusalem, and began to attract the feelings of those at Jerusalem
by his abrogation of the Mosaic Law, then they commenced to treat him
with suspicion, to place every obstacle in the way of his missionary
activity, and to attempt, led by the zealous James, to bring the
Pauline communities under their own government. Then, seeking a
title for the practice of the apostolic vocation, they found it in
this–that every one who wished to testify to Christ must himself
have seen him after his resurrection.

But Paul could very justly object that to him also the transfigured
Jesus had appeared. [499] Then they made the justification for the
apostolic vocation consist in this, that an apostle must not only
have seen Christ risen up, but must also have eaten and drunk with
him. [500] This indeed was not applicable in the case of Judas, who in
the Acts i. 16 is nevertheless counted among the apostles; and it was
also never asserted of Matthias, who was chosen in the former’s stead,
that he had been a witness of Jesus’ resurrection. Much less even does
he seem to have fulfilled the condition to which advance was made in
the development of the original idea, i.e., that an apostle of Jesus
should have been personally acquainted with the living Jesus, that he
should have belonged to the “First Apostles” and have been present as
eye-witness and hearer of Jesus’ words from the time of John’s baptism
up to the Resurrection and Ascension. [501] Now Seufert has shown
that the passage of the Acts referred to is merely a construction,
a transference of later conditions to an earlier epoch; and that the
whole point of it is to paralyse Paul’s mission to the Gentiles and
to establish the title of the Jew-Christians at Jerusalem as higher
than that of his followers.

If with this purpose, as Seufert showed, the organisation of the
Apostleship of Twelve arose–an organisation which has no satisfactory
basis or foundation in the Gospels or in the Pauline epistles–then it
is from this purpose also that we can find cause for the God Jesus to
become a human founder of the apostleship. “An apostle was to be only
such an one as had seen and heard Jesus himself, or had learnt from
those who had been his immediate disciples. A literature of Judaism
arose which had at quite an early stage the closest interest in the
historical determination of Jesus’ life; and this formed the lowest
stratum on which our canonical Gospels are based.” [502] Judaism in
general, and the form of it at Jerusalem in particular, needed a legal
title on which to base its commanding position as contrasted with the
Gentile Christianity of Paul; and so its founders were obliged to have
been companions of Jesus in person, and to have been selected for their
vocation by him. For this reason Jesus could not remain a mere God,
but had to be drawn down into historical actuality. Seufert thinks
that the tracing of the Apostleship of Twelve back to an “historical”
Jesus, and the setting up of the demand for an apostle of Jesus to
have been a companion of his journeying, took place in Paul’s lifetime
in the sixth, or perhaps even in the fifth decade. [503] In this he
presupposes the existence of an historical Jesus, while the Pauline
epistles themselves contain nothing to lead one to believe that the
transformation of the Jesus-faith into history took place in Paul’s
lifetime. In early Christianity exactly the same incident took place
here, on the soil of Palestine and at Jerusalem, as took place later in
“eternal” Rome, when the bishop of this city, in order to establish
his right of supremacy in the Church, proclaimed himself to be the
direct successor of the Apostle Peter, and caused the “possession of
the keys” to have been given to this latter by Jesus himself. [504]

So that there were very mundane and very practical reasons which
after all gave the impulse for the God Jesus to be transformed into
an historical individual, and for the central point of his action,
the crisis in his life, his death and his resurrection, which alone
affected religious considerations, to be placed in the capital of
the Jewish state, the “City of God,” the Holy City of David, of the
“ancestors” of the Messiah, with which now the Jews connected religious
salvation. But how could this fiction succeed and maintain its ground,
so that it was able to become an absolutely vital question for the
new religion, an indestructible dogma, a self-evident “fact,” so
that its very calling in question seems to the critical theologians
of our time a perfect absurdity?

Before we can answer this question we must turn our attention to the
Gnostic movement and its relations to the growing Church.

(d) Gnosticism and the Johannine Jesus.

Christianity was originally developed from Gnosticism (Mandaism). The
Pauline religion was only one form of the many syncretising efforts
to satisfy contemporary humanity’s need of redemption by a fusion
of religious conceptions derived from different sources. So much the
greater was the danger which threatened to spring up on this side of
the youthful Church.

Gnosticism agreed with Christianity in its pessimistic valuation of
the world, in its belief in the inability of man to obtain religious
salvation by himself, in the necessity for a divine mediation of
“Life.” Like Christianity, it expected the deliverance of the oppressed
souls of men by a supernatural Redeemer. He came down from Heaven
upon earth and assumed a human form, establishing, through a mystic
union with himself, the connection between the spheres of heaven and
earth. He thereby guarantees to mankind an eternal life in a bliss
to come. Gnosticism also involves a completely dualistic philosophy
in its opposition of God and world, of spirit and matter, of soul
and body, &c.; but all its efforts are directed to overcoming these
contradictions by supernatural mediation and magical contrivances. It
treats the “Gnosis,” the knowledge, the proper insight into the
coherence of things, as the necessary condition of redemption. The
individual must know that his soul comes from God, that it is only
temporarily confined in this prison of the body, and that it is
intended for something higher than to be lost here in the obscurity
of ignorance, of evil and of sin; so that he is already freed from
the trammels of the flesh, and finds a new life for himself. The
God-Redeemer descended upon earth to impart this knowledge to mankind;
and Gnosticism pledges itself, on the basis of the “revelation”
received directly from God, to open to those who strive for the
highest knowledge all the heights and depths of Heaven and of earth.

This Gnosticism of the first century after Christ was a wonderfully
opalescent and intricate structure–half religious speculation, half
religion, a mixture of Theosophy, uncritical mythological superstition,
and deep religious mysticism. In it Babylonian beliefs as to Gods and
stars, Parsee mythology, and Indian doctrines of metempsychosis and
Karma were combined with Jewish theology and Mystery-rites of Western
Asia; and through the whole blew a breath of Hellenic philosophy,
which chiefly strove to fix the fantastic creatures of speculation
in a comprehensible form, and to work up the confusion of Oriental
licence and extravagance of thought into the form of a philosophical
view of the world. The Gnostics also called their mediating deity,
as we have already seen of the Mandaic sect of the Nassenes, “Jesus,”
and indulged in a picture rendering of his pre-worldly existence and
supernatural divine majesty. They agreed with the Christians that
Jesus had been “human.”

The extravagant metaphysical conception which they had of Jesus at
the same time prevented them from dealing seriously with the idea of
his manhood. So that they either maintained that the celestial Christ
had attached himself to the man Jesus in a purely external way, and
indeed, first on the occasion of the baptism in the Jordan, and only
temporarily, i.e., up to the Passion–it being only the “man” Jesus
who suffered death (Basilides, Cerinthus); or they thought of Jesus as
having assumed merely a ghostly body–and consequently thought that all
his human actions took place merely as pure appearance (Saturninus,
Valentinus, Marcion). But how little they managed to penetrate into
the centre of the Christian doctrine of redemption and to value the
fundamental significance of the Christ-figure, is shown by the fact
that they thought of Christ merely as one mediator among countless
others. It is shown also by the romantic and florid description of the
spirits or “aeons,” who are supposed to travel backwards and forwards
between heaven and earth, leading their lives apart. These played a
great part in the Gnostic systems.

It was a matter of course that the Christian faith had to take
exception to such a fantastic and external treatment of the idea of
the God-man. The Pauline Christianity was distinct from Gnosticism,
with which it was most closely connected, just in this, that it was
in earnest with the “manhood” of Jesus. It was still more serious
that the Gnostics combined with their extreme dualism an outspokenly
anti-Jewish character. For this in the close relationship between
Gnosticism and Christianity would necessarily frighten the Jews from
the Gospel, and incite only too many against the young religion. But
the Jews formed the factor with which early Christianity had first of
all to reckon. In addition to this the Gnostics, from the standpoint of
their spiritualistic conception of God, turned to contempt of the world
and asceticism. They commended sexual continence, rejected marriage,
and wished to know nothing either of Christ’s or of man’s bodily
resurrection. But in the West no propaganda of an ascetic religion
could succeed. And yet even with the Gnostics, as is so often the
case, asceticism only too frequently degenerated into unbridled
voluptuousness and libertinage, and the spiritual pride of those
chosen by God to knowledge, who were raised above the Mosaic Law,
threatened completely to tear apart the connection with Judaism
by its radical criticism of the Old Testament. In this Gnosticism
not only undermined the moral life of the communities, but also
brought the Gospel into discredit in other parts of the world. As
an independent religion, which expressly opposed all other worships,
and the adherents of which withdrew from the religious practices of
the State, even from any political activity whatsoever, Christianity
brought on itself the suspicion of the authorities and the hate of
the people, and incurred the prohibition of new religions and secret
sects (lex Julia majestatis). [505] So that Gnosticism, by taking it
from its Jewish native soil, drove Christianity into a conflict with
the Roman civil laws.

All these dangers, which threatened Christianity from the Gnostic
movement, were set aside in one stroke by the recognition of the true
“manhood” of Jesus, the assertion of the “historical” Jesus. This
preserved the connection, so important for the unhindered spread of
Christianity in the Roman Empire, with Judaism and its “revealed”
legality–the heteronomous and ritualistic character of which
had indeed been shown by Paul, and the moral content of which was
nevertheless adhered to by the Christians even later. It was made
possible, in default of any previous written documents of revelation,
even yet to regard the Old Testament in essentials as the authoritative
book of the new faith, and as a preparatory testimony to the final
revelation which appeared in Jesus. And most of all, it put a check
on Gnostic phantasy, in drawing together the perplexing plurality of
the Gnostic aeons into the one figure of the World-redeemer and Saviour
Christ, in making the chief dogma the redeeming sacrificial death of
the Messiah, and in concentrating the religious man’s attention on
this chief turning-point of all the historical events. This was the
reason why the Apologists and “Fathers” of Christianity, Ignatius,
Polycarp, Justin, Irenaeus, &c., spoke with such decision in favour
of the actuality and true manhood of Jesus. It was not perhaps a
better historical knowledge which caused them to do this, but the
life-instinct of the Church, which knew only too well that its own
position and the prosecution of its religious task, in contrast with
the excitements of Gnosticism and its seductive attempts to explain
the world, was dependent on the belief in an historical Redeemer. So
the historical Jesus was from the beginning a dogma, a fiction,
caused by the religious and practical social needs, of the growing
and struggling Christian Church. This Jesus has, indeed, led it to
victory; not, however, as an historical reality, but as an idea; or,
in other words, not an historical Jesus, in the proper sense of the
word, a really human individual, but the pure idea of such a person,
is the patron-saint, the Genius of ecclesiastical Christianity, the
man who enabled it to overcome Gnosticism, Mithraism, and the other
religions of the Redeemer-Gods of Western Asia.

The importance of the fourth Gospel rests in having brought to
a final close these efforts of the Church to make history of the
Redeemer-figure Christ. Begun under the visible influence of the
Gnostic conception of the process of redemption, it meets Gnosticism
later as another Gospel; indeed, it seems saturated through and
through with the Gnostic attitude and outlook. To a certain degree
it shares with Gnosticism its anti-Jewish character. But at the same
time it adheres, with the Synoptics, to Jesus’ historical activity,
and seeks to establish a kind of mediation between the essentially
metaphysical conception of the Gnostics and the essentially human
conception of the Synoptic Gospels.

The author who wrote the Gospel in the name of John, the “favourite
disciple of Jesus,” probably about 140 A.D., agrees with Gnosticism in
its dualistic conception of the universe. On one side is the world,
the kingdom of darkness, deceit, and evil, in deadly enmity to the
divine kingdom of light, the kingdom of truth and life. At the head
of the divine kingdom is God, who is himself Light, Truth, Life,
and Spirit–following Parsee thought. At the head of the kingdom of
earth is Satan (Angromainyu). In the middle, between them, is placed
man. But mankind is also divided, as all the rest of existence,
into two essentially different kinds. The souls of the one part of
mankind are derived from God, those of the other from Satan. The
“children of God” are by nature destined for the good and are fit for
redemption. The “children of Satan”–among whom John, in agreement
with the Gnostics, counts the Jews before all–are not susceptible
of anything divine and are assigned to eternal damnation. In order to
accomplish redemption, God, from pure “Love” for the world, selected
Monogenes, his only-begotten Son, that is, the only being which, as the
child of God, was produced not by other beings, but by God himself. The
author of the Gospel fuses Monogenes with the Philonic Logos, who
in the Gnostic conception was only one of countless other aeons, and
was a son of Monogenes, the divine reason, and so only a grandson
of God. At the same time, he transfers the whole “pleroma”–the
plurality of the aeons into which, in the Gnostic conception, the
divine reality was divided–to the single principle of the Logos,
defines the Logos as the unique bearer of the whole fulness of divine
glory, as the pre-existent creator of the world; and calls him also,
since he is in essence identical with God his “Father,” the source
of life, the light, the truth, and the spirit of the universe.

And how then does the Logos bring about redemption? He becomes flesh,
that is, he assumes the form of the “man” Jesus, without, however,
ceasing to be the supernatural Logos, and as such brings to men the
“Life” which he himself is, by revealing wisdom and love. As revealer
of wisdom he is the “light of the world”; he opens to men the secret
of their filial relation to God; he teaches them, by knowing God,
to understand themselves and the world; he collects about himself the
children of God, who are scattered through the world, in a united and
brotherly society; and gives them, in imitating his own personality,
the “light of life”–that is, he inwardly enlightens and elevates
them. As revealer of love he not only assumes the human form and
the renunciation of his divine bliss connected with it, but as a
“good shepherd” he lays down his life for his flock; he saves them
from the power of Satan, from the terrors of darkness, and sacrifices
himself for his people, in order through this highest testimony of
his love for men, through the complete surrender of his life, to
regain the life which he really is, and to return to his celestial
glory. This is the meaning of Christ’s work of redemption, that men
by faith and love become inwardly united with him and so with God;
whereby they gain the “life” in the higher spirit. For though Christ
himself may return to God, his spirit still lives on earth. As the
“second Paraclete” or agent, the Spirit proceeds with the Saviour’s
work of redemption, arouses and strengthens the faith in Christ and
the love for him and for the Brotherhood, thereby mediating for them
the “Life,” and leading them after their death into the eternal bliss.

In all this the influence of Gnosticism and of the Philonic doctrine
of the Logos is unmistakable, and it is very probable that the
author of the fourth Gospel was influenced by the recollection,
still living at Ephesus, of the Ephesian Heraclitus’ Logos, in his
attachment to Philo and to the latter’s more detailed exposition of the
Hellenic Logos-philosophy. But he fundamentally differs from Philo and
Gnosticism in his assertion that the Logos “was made flesh,” sojourned
on earth in the figure of Jesus of Nazareth, and suffered death. It
is true, however, that the Evangelist is more persistent in this
assertion than successful in delineating a real man, notwithstanding
his use of the Synoptic accounts of the personal fate of Jesus. The
idea of the divine nature of the Saviour is the one that prevails
in his writings. The “historical picture” which came down to him was
forcibly rectified, and the personality of Jesus was worked up into
something so wonderful, extraordinary, and supernatural that, if we
were in possession of the fourth Gospel alone, in all probability the
idea would hardly have occurred to any one that it was a treatment
of the life-story of an historical individual. And yet in this the
difference between the Johannine and the Synoptic Gospels is only a
slight one. For the Synoptic Jesus also is not really a man, but a
“superman,” the original Christian community’s God-man, cult-hero,
and mediator of salvation. And if it is settled that the quarrel
between the Church teachers and the Gnostic heretics hinged, not
on the divinity of Christ, in which they agreed, but rather on the
kind and degree of his humanity, then this “paradoxical fact” is
by itself sufficient to corroborate the assertion that the divinity
of the mediator of redemption was the only originally determined and
self-evident presupposition of the whole Christian faith; and that, on
the contrary, his humanity was doubtful even in the earliest times, and
for this reason alone could become a subject of the bitterest strife.

Indeed, even the author of the fourth Gospel did not bring about a real
fusion between the human person Jesus and the mythological person, the
Gnostic Son of God, who with Philo wavered, also in the form of the
Logos, between impersonal being and allegorical personality. All the
efforts to render comprehensible “the interfusion of the divine and the
human in the unity of the personal, its basis (essence) being divine,
its appearance a human life of Jesus,” are frustrated even with the
so-called John by one fact. This fact is that a Logos considered as
a person can never be at once a human personality and yet have as its
basis and essence a divine personality, but can only be demoniacally
possessed by this latter, and can never be this latter itself. And so,
as Pfleiderer says, the Johannine Christ wavers throughout “between
a sublime truth and a ghostly monstrosity; the former, in so far as
he represents the ideal of the Son of God, and so the religion of
mankind, separated from all the accidents and limits of individuality
and nationality, of space and time–and the latter so far as he is the
mythical covering of a God sojourning on earth in human form.” [506]

It is true that this fusion of the Gnostic Son of God and the Philonic
Logos with the Synoptic Jesus first fixed the hazy uncertainty of
mythological speculation and abstract thought in the clear form and
living individuality of the personal mediator of redemption. It brought
this personality nearer to the hearts of the faithful than any other
figure of religious belief, and thereby procured for the Christian
cult-god Jesus, in his pure humanity, his overflowing goodness and
benevolence, such a predominance over his divine competitors, Mithras,
Attis, and others, that by the side of Jesus these faded away into
empty shadows. The Gnostic ideal man, that is, the Platonic idea, and
the moral ideal of man merged in him directly into a unity. The miracle
of the union of God and man, over which the ancient world had so hotly
and so fruitlessly disputed, seemed to have found its realisation in
Christ. Christ was the “Wise man” of the Stoic philosophy, in whom was
united for them all that is most honourable in man; more than this,
he was the God-man, as he had been preached and demanded by Seneca
for the moral elevation of mankind. [507] The world was consequently
so ready to receive and so well prepared for his fundamental ideas
that we easily see why the Church Christianity took its stand on the
human personality of its redeeming principle with almost more decision
than on the divine character of Jesus. Nevertheless, in spite of
the majesty and sublimity, in spite of the immeasurable significance
which the accentuation of the true humanity of Jesus has had for the
development of Christianity, it remains true that on the other hand it
is just this which is the source of all the insoluble contradictions,
of all the insurmountable difficulties from which the Christian view
of the world suffers. This is the reason why that great idea, which
Christianity brought to the consciousness of the men of the West,
and through which it conquered Judaism–the idea of the God-man–was
utterly destroyed, and the true content of this religion was obscured,
hidden, and misrepresented in such disastrous fashion, that to-day it
is no longer possible to assent to its doctrine of redemption without
the sacrifice of the intellect.


In the opinion of liberal theologians, not the God but rather the man
Jesus forms the valuable religious essence of Christianity. [508] In
saying this it says nothing less than that the whole of Christendom
up to the present day–that is, till the appearance of a Harnack,
Bousset, Wernle, and others of like mind–was in error about itself,
and did not recognise its own essence. For Christianity, as the
present account shows, from the very first conceived the God Jesus,
or rather the God-man, the Incarnate, the God-redeemer, suffering with
man and sacrificing himself for humanity, as the central point of
its doctrine. The declaration of the real manhood of Jesus appears,
on the other hand, but as an after-concession of this religion to
outer circumstances, wrung from it only later by its opponents,
and so expressly championed by it only because of its forming the
unavoidable condition of its permanence in history and of its practical
success. Only the God, therefore, not the man Jesus, can be termed the
“founder” of the Christian religion.

It is in fact the fundamental error of the liberal theology to think
that the development of the Christian Church took its rise from
an historical individual, from the man Jesus. The view is becoming
more common that the original Christian movement under the name of
Jesus would have remained an insignificant and transient movement
within Judaism but for Paul, who first gave it a religious view of
the world by his metaphysics of redemption, and who by his break
with the Jewish Law really founded the new religion. It will not
be long before the further concession is found necessary, that an
historical Jesus, as the Gospels portray him, and as he lives in the
minds of the liberal theologians of to-day, never existed at all;
so that he never founded the insignificant and diminutive community
of the Messiah at Jerusalem. It will be necessary to concede that the
Christ-faith arose quite independently of any historical personality
known to us; that indeed Jesus was in this sense a product of the
religious “social soul” and was made by Paul, with the required amount
of reinterpretation and reconstruction, the chief interest of those
communities founded by him. The “historical” Jesus is not earlier but
later than Paul; and as such he has always existed merely as an idea,
as a pious fiction in the minds of members of the community. The New
Testament with its four Gospels is not previous to the Church, but the
latter is antecedent to them; and the Gospels are the derivatives,
consequently forming a support for the propaganda of the Church,
and being without any claim to historical significance.

Nothing at all, as Kalthoff shows, is to be gained for the
understanding of Christianity from the completely modern view that
religion is an entirely personal life and experience. Religion
is such personal life only in an age which is differentiated into
personalities; it is such only in so far as this differentiation
has been accomplished. From the very beginning religion makes its
appearance as a phenomenon of social life; it is a group-religion,
a folk-religion, a State religion; and this social character is
naturally transferred to the free associations which are formed
within the limits of tribe and the State. The talk about personality
as the centre of all religious life is with regard to the origin of
Christianity absurd and unhistorical, for the reason that Christianity
grew up in religious associations, in communities. From this social
religion our personal religion has only been developed in a history
lasting centuries. Only after great struggles has personal religion
been able to succeed against an essentially older form. What devout
people of to-day call Christianity, a religion of the individual,
a principle of personal salvation, would have been an offence and an
absurdity to the whole of ancient Christendom. It would have been to
it the sin against the Holy Ghost which was never to be forgiven; for
the Holy Ghost was the spirit of the Church’s unity, the connection
of the religious community, the spirit of the subordination of the
flock to the shepherd. For this reason individual religion existed
in old Christendom only through the medium of the association of the
community of the Church. A private setting up of one’s own religion
was heresy, separation from the body of Christ. [509]

We cannot refuse to concede to the “Catholic” Church, both Roman and
Greek, that in this respect it has most faithfully preserved the spirit
of the earliest Christendom. This alone is to-day what Christianity in
essence once was–the religion of an association in the sense to which
we have referred. Thus Catholicism justly refers to “tradition” for
the truth of its religious view of the world and for the correctness
of its hierarchical claims. But Catholicism itself beyond doubt first
established this “tradition” in its own interests. It teaches also
an “historical” Jesus, but clearly one that is historical merely by
tradition, and of whose actual historical existence not the least
indication has yet been established. Protestantism, on the other hand,
is completely unhistoric in passing off the Gospels as the sources,
as the “revealed” basis of the faith in Christ, as if they had arisen
independently of the Church and represented the true beginnings of
Christianity. Consequently one cannot base one’s religious faith on
the Gospel and wish nevertheless to stand outside of that community,
since the writings of the New Testament can only pass as the expression
of the community’s life. One cannot therefore be Christian in the sense
of the original community without obliterating one’s own personality
and uniting oneself as a member with the “Body of Christ”–that is,
with the Church. The spirit of obedience and humility, which Christ
demanded of his followers, is nothing but the spirit of subordination
to the system of rules of conduct observed by the society of worship
passing under his name. Christianity in the original sense is nothing
but–“Catholic” Christianity; and this is the faith of the Church
in the work of redemption accomplished by the God-man Christ in his
Church and by means of the organisation infused with his “spirit.”

On purely religious grounds the wrongly so-called “Catholicism”
could very probably dispense with the fiction of an historical Jesus,
and go back to Paul’s standpoint before the origin of the Gospels,
if it could have faith to-day in its mythological conception, of
the God sacrificing himself for mankind, without that fiction. In
its present form, however, it stands or falls as a Church with
the belief in the historical truth of the God-redeemer; because
all the Church’s hierarchical claims and authority are based on
this authority having been entrusted to her by an historical Jesus
through the apostles. Catholicism relies for this, as it has been
said, on “tradition.” But Catholicism itself called this tradition
into life, just as the priests at Jerusalem worked up the tradition
of an historical Moses in order to trace back to him their claim to
authority. It is the “Irony of World-History” that that very tradition
soon afterwards forced the Church, with regard to the historical
Christ, to conceal its real nature from the crowd, and to forbid the
laity to read the Gospels, on account of the contradiction between the
power of the Church and the traditional Christ it had produced. But
the position of Protestantism is even more contradictory and more
desperate than that of the Catholic Church, in view of our insight
into the fictitious character of the Gospels. For Protestantism has no
means but history for the foundation of its religious metaphysics;
and history, viewed impartially, leads away from those roots of
Christianity to which Protestantism strives, instead of towards them.

If this is true of Protestant orthodoxy it is even more true of that
form of Protestantism which thinks it can maintain Christianity
apart from its metaphysical doctrine of redemption because this
doctrine is “no longer suitable to the age.” Liberal Protestantism
is and wishes to be nothing but a mere faith in the historical
personality of a man who is supposed to have been born 1,900 years
ago in Palestine, and through his exemplary life to have become the
founder of a new religion; being crucified and dying in conflict with
the authorities at Jerusalem, being raised up then as a God in the
minds of his enthusiastic disciples. It is a faith in the “loving
God the Father,” because Jesus is supposed to have believed in him;
in the personal immortality of man, because this is supposed to have
been the presupposition of Jesus’ appearance and doctrines; in the
“incomparable” value of moral instructions, because they stand in
a book which is supposed to have been produced under the immediate
influence of the prophet of Nazareth. Liberal Protestantism supports
morality on this, that Jesus was such a good man, and that for this
reason it is necessary for each individual man to follow the call
of Jesus. But it bases the faith in Jesus once and for all on the
historical significance of the Gospels; though it cannot conceal
from itself, after careful consideration, that the belief in their
historical value rests on extremely weak grounds, and that we know
nothing of that Jesus, not even that he ever lived. In any case we
know nothing which could be of influential religious significance,
and which could not be put together just as well or better from
other less doubtful sources. [510] It is pierced to the heart by the
denial of the historical personality of Jesus, not, like Catholicism,
merely as a Church, but in its very essence, as a Religion. And as to
its real religious kernel it consists in a few fine-sounding phrases
and some scattered references to a metaphysics which was once living,
but which is now degraded into a mere ornament for modest minds. And
after disposing of its would-be historical value there is left only
a dimly smouldering spark of “homeless sentiments,” which would suit
any style of religious faith. Liberal Protestantism proclaims itself
as the really “modern” Christianity. Confronted by the philosophic
spirit of our day, it lays stress upon having no philosophy. It
sets aside all religious speculation as “Myth,” if possible with
reference to Kant, as this is “modern,” without noticing that it
is itself most deeply imbedded in mythology with its “historical”
Jesus. It believes that, in its exclusive reverence for the man Jesus,
it has brought Christianity to the “height of present culture.” As to
this Stendel justly says: “Of the whole apologetic art with which the
modern Jesus-theology undertakes to save Christianity for our time,
it can be said that there is no historical religion which could not
just as well be brought into accord with the modern mind as that of
the New Testament.” [511] We have no occasion to weep for the complete
collapse of such a “religion.” This form of Christianity has already
been proved by Hartmann to be worthless from the religious point of
view; [512] and it is only a proof of the fascinating power of phrases,
of the laxity in our creeds, and the thoughtlessness of the mob in
religious matters, that it is even yet alive. For such reasons it
is even allowed, under the lead of the so-called critical theology,
to proclaim itself as the pure Christianity, now known for the first
time. Thus it finds sympathy. This unsystematic collection of thoughts,
arbitrarily selected from the view of the world and of life given
by the Gospels, which even so requires to be rhetorically puffed out
and artistically modified before it is made acceptable to the present
age,–this unspeculative doctrine of redemption, which at bottom is
uncertain of itself,–this sentimental, aesthetic, Jesus-worship of a
Harnack, Bousset, and the rest on whom W. v. Schnehen so pitilessly
broke his lance; [513] this whole so-called Christianity of cultured
pastors and a laity in need of redemption, would have long since
come to grief through its poverty of ideas, its sickening sweetness,
if it were not considered necessary to maintain Christianity at all
costs, were it even that of the complete deprivation of its spiritual
content. The recognition of the fact that the “historical” Jesus has
no religious interest at all, but at most concerns historians and
philologists, is indeed at present commencing to make its way into
wider circles. [514] If one only knew a way out of the difficulty! If
one were only not afraid of following a clear lead just because
one might then possibly be forced beyond the existing religion in
the course of his ideas–as the example of Kalthoff showed! If
only one had not such a fearful respect for the past and such a
tender “historic unconsciousness” and such immense respect for the
“historical basis” of existing religion! The reference to history and
the so-called “historical continuity of the religious development”
is indeed on the face of it merely a way out of a difficulty, and
another way of putting the fact that one is not desired to draw the
consequences of his presuppositions. As if there can still be talk of a
“historical basis” where there is no history, but pure myth! As if the
“preservation of historical continuity” could consist in maintaining
as history what are mythical fictions, just because they have
hitherto passed for historic truth, though we have seen through
their purely fictitious and unreal character! As if the difficulty
of the redemption of present-day civilisation from the chaos of
superstition, social deceit, cowardice, and intellectual servitude
which are connected with the name of Christianity, lay in a purely
spiritual sphere and not rather in the sentiment, in the slovenly
piety, in the heavy weight of ancient tradition, above all in the
economic, social, and practical relations which unite our churches
with the past! Faith in the future of Christianity is still built
not so much on the persuasive inner truth of its doctrine, but much
more on the inborn religious feeling of the members of the community,
on the religious education in school and home, and the consequent
increasing store of metaphysical and ethical ideas, on protection
by the State and–on the law of inertia in the spiritual life of the
mob. For the rest, in pulpit, in parish papers, and in public life,
a method of expression is used which is not essentially different
from that of orthodoxy, but is so adapted as to allow every man to
think what he deems best for himself. We are enthusiastically told
that thus we are able to keep the rudderless ship of Protestantism
still a while above water, and that we have “reconciled” faith with
modern culture in “the further development of Christianity.”

Thus nineteen hundred years of religious development were completely
in error. Is no other course open to us but a complete break with the
Christian doctrine of redemption? This doctrine, however–such was
the result of our previous examination–is independent of the belief
in an historical Jesus. Its centre of gravity lies in the conception
of the “incarnation” of God, who suffers in the world but is finally
victorious over this suffering; and through union with whom Mankind
also “prevails over the world” and gains a new life in a higher
sphere of existence. That the form of this divine Redeemer of the
world coalesced, in the minds of the Christian community, with that
of a man Jesus; that, consequent on this, the act of redemption was
fixed as to time and place, is only the consequence of the conditions
under which the new religion appeared.

For this reason it can only claim, in and for itself, a transient
practical significance, and not a special religious value; while
on the other hand it has become the doom of Christianity that just
this making into history of the principle of redemption makes it
impossible for us still to acknowledge this religion. But then the
preservation of historical continuity or the “further development”
of Christianity in its proper sense probably does not consist in
separating this chance historical side of the Christian doctrine
of redemption from its connection with the whole Christian view of
the world and setting it up by itself, but only in going back to
the essential and fundamental idea of the Christian religion, and
stating its metaphysical doctrine of redemption in a manner more
nearly answering to the ideas of the day.

From the conception of a personal God-redeemer arose the possibility of
sacrificing a man in God’s place, and of seeing the divine and ideal
man, that is, the Idea of Man, in an actual man. From the growing
Church’s desire for authority, from its opposition to Gnostic phantasy
with its intellectual volatilising of the religious-moral kernel of
the Pauline doctrine of redemption, and from the wish not to give up
the historical connection with Judaism on opportunist grounds, arose
the necessity of portraying the divine-human expiatory sacrifice as
the sacrifice of an historical person who had arisen in Judaism. All
these different reasons, which led to the formation of the belief in
an “historical” Jesus, have no force with us, particularly after it
has been shown that the personality of the principle of redemption,
this fundamental presupposition of the evangelical “history,” is in
the end to blame for all the contradictions and shortcomings of that
religion. To lead back to its real essence the Christian doctrine of
redemption can consequently mean nothing but placing the idea of the
God-man, as it lies at the basis of that doctrine, in the central
point of the religious view of the world, through the stripping off
of the mythical personality of the Logos.

God must become man, so that Man can become God and be redeemed from
the bounds of the finite. The idea of Man which is realised in the
world must itself be a divine idea, an idea of the Deity, and so
God must be the common root and essence of all individual men and
things; only then may Man attain his existence in God and freedom
from the world, through this consciousness of his supernatural divine
essence. Man’s consciousness of himself and of his true essence must
itself be a divine consciousness. Man, and indeed every man, must be
a purely finite phenomenon, an individual limitation, the clothing
of the Deity with a human form. In possibility he is a God-man,
to be born again an actual God-man through his moral activity, and
consequently to become really one with God. In this conception all
the contradictions of Christian dogmatism are solved, and the kernel
of its doctrine of redemption is preserved without being divested of
its true significance by the introduction of mythical phantasy or of
historical coincidences, as is the case in Christianity.

If we are still to use the language of the past, and to call the divine
essence of mankind the immanent Godhead, “Christ,” then any advance of
religion can only consist in the development and working out of this
“inner Christ,” that is, of the spiritual-moral tendencies dwelling
in mankind, in the carrying of it back to its absolute and divine
basis, but not in the historical personification of this inner human
nature. Any reality of the God-man consequently consists in “Christ’s”
activity in Man, in the proving of his “true self,” of his personal,
spiritual essence, in the raising of one’s self to personality on the
ground of Man’s divine nature, but not in the magical efficacy of an
external divine personality. This, indeed, is nothing but the religious
ideal of mankind, which men have projected on to an historical figure,
in order to assure themselves of the “reality” of the ideal. It is not
true that it is “essential” to the religious consciousness to consider
its ideal in human form, and that for this reason the historical Jesus
is indispensable for the religious life. Were this true, religion
would not be, in principle, in a position to raise itself above the
mythical and primitive stage of God’s externality and appearance to the
senses, and to conquer these Gods, working them more and more into the
forms of an inner nature. This, however, is the essence of religious
development. Religion would otherwise be confined to a lower province
in the human life of the spirit; and it would be overthrown whenever
the fiction of that projection and separation of God from one’s own
self was seen through. It is only to orthodox Christianity that it
is necessary to represent the God in Man as a God outside of Man,
as the “unique” personality of a historical God-man; and that because
it still remains with one foot in religious naturalism and mythology,
and the historical circumstances of another age occasioned the choice
of that representation and falsification of the idea of the God-man.

To think of the world’s activity as God’s activity; of mankind’s
development, filled with struggles and sufferings, as the story of a
divine struggle and Passion; of the world-process as the process of
a God, who in each individual creature fights, suffers, conquers and
dies, so that he may overcome the limitations of the finite in the
religious consciousness of man and anticipate his future triumph
over all the suffering of the world–that is the real Christian
doctrine of redemption. To revive in this sense the fundamental
conception from which Christianity sprang–and which is independent
of any historical reference–is, indeed, to return to this religious
starting-point. Protestantism, on the contrary, which repudiates Paul’s
religion and sets up the Gospels as the foundation of its belief,
nevertheless does not go behind Christianity’s development into the
Church, back to the origin of Christianity, but remains always within
this development, and deceives itself if it thinks that it can prevail
over the Church from the point of view of the Gospel. [515]

In such an interpretation and development of the Christian conception
of redemption “historical continuity” is preserved just as decidedly
as it is in the one-sided making into history of that thought on the
side of liberal Protestantism. What is in opposition to it is, on the
one hand, completely unhistorical belief in an historical Jesus; on
the other hand, the prejudice against the “immanent God,” or against
Pantheism. But this prejudice is based entirely on that fiction of
an historical “mediator” and the hypothesis contained therein of a
dualistic separation of world and God. The representatives of the
monistic conception–who began to organise themselves a short time
ago–should be clearer as to the significance of that conception
than they are for the most part even at the present day. They must
perceive that the true doctrine of unity can only be the doctrine
of the all in one. There must be an idealistic monism in opposition
to the naturalistic monism of Haeckel, which is prevalent even
to-day. This monism must not exclude but include God’s existence;
and its present unfruitful negation of all religion must deepen
into a positive and religiously valuable view of the world. Then,
and not till then, will it be able to effect a genuine separation
from the Church, and the monistic movement, still in its childhood,
may lead to an inner improvement and renovation of our spiritual
life in general. It requires much short-sightedness on the part of
the exponents of a purely historical Christianity to suppose that the
soulless and poor faith in the personal, or as it is considered better
expressed to-day, in the “living” God, in freedom and immortality,
supported by the authority of the “unique” personality of a man Jesus
who died two thousand years ago, will be in a position permanently
to satisfy religious needs, even when the metaphysic of redemption,
still connected with it at all points, and the pious attitude based
upon this are completely stripped off from it. The earlier the orthodox
Christians, by giving up their superstition in an historical Jesus,
and the Monists, by sacrificing their equally fatal superstition
in the sole reality of matter and in the redeeming truths of
physical science which alone can give happiness, come to a mutual
reconciliation, the better it will be for both. The more surely we
shall avoid the total obliteration of the religious consciousness;
and the civilised nations of Europe will be saved from the loss
of their spiritual ballast–towards which loss there seems at the
present day to be a continuous movement on all sides. At present
there are only two possibilities–either to look on quietly while
the tidal wave of naturalism, getting ever more powerful from day
to day, sweeps away the last vestige of religious thought, or to
transfer the sinking fire of religion to the ground of Pantheism,
in a religion independent of any ecclesiastical guardianship. The
time of dualistic Theism has gone by. At present all the advancing
spirits, in spheres most widely different, concur in striving towards
Monism. This striving is so deeply grounded and so well warranted,
that the Church will not be able to suppress it for ever. [516] The
chief obstacle to a monistic religion and attitude is the belief,
irreconcilable with reason or history, in the historical reality of a
“unique,” ideal, and unsurpassable Redeemer.



[1] Cf. also his “Kritik der Evangelien,” 2 vols. (1850-51).

[2] “Kultur d. Gegenwart: Gesch. d. christl. Religion,” 2nd ed.,
1909, 47.

[3] The same is true of Clemen, who, judging by his
“Religionsgeschichtl. Erklaerung d. N.T.” (1909), appears to be
acquainted with Robertson’s masterpiece, “Christianity and Mythology,”
only from a would-be witty notice of Reville, and furthermore only
cites the author when he thinks he can demolish him with ease.

[4] A. Hausrath, in his work “Jesus u. die neutestamentlichen
Schriftsteller,” vol. i. (1908), offers a striking example of how
light a matter our theologians make it to overthrow the attacks of
the opponents of an historical Jesus. In scarcely three pages at
the commencement of his compendious work he rejects the myth theory
of Bruno Bauer with the favourite appeal to a few individual and
historical features of the Gospel tradition which are intrinsically
of no significance, finishing up this “refutation” with a reckless
citation from Weinel which proves nothing for the historical character
of Jesus.

[5] Cf. also his work “Moses, Jesus, Paulus. Drei sagen varianten
des babylonischen Gottmenschen Gilgamesch,” 2nd ed., 1909.

[6] Cf., for example, “Jesus Vier Vortraege, geh. in Frankf.” 1910.

[7] In other respects the “progress” in the province of religious
history is not so great as I formerly believed I could assume. That
is to say, in essentials modern learning in this connection has
only brought facts to light and given a new focus to points of
view which were already possessed (cf. Dupuis and Volney) by the
eighteenth century. In the twenties and forties of the nineteenth
century investigations, unprejudiced and independent of theology,
had already reached in the case of some of their representatives,
such as Gfroerer, Luetzelberger, Ghillany, Nork, and others, the point
which is to-day again represented by the most advanced learning. The
revolution of 1848 and the reaction consequent on it in ecclesiastical
matters then again shook, on account of their radical tendency, those
views which had been already arrived at. The liberal Protestantism,
too, that rose as a recoil against orthodoxy in its effort to work out
the “historical” Jesus as the kernel of Christianity on its part had
no interest in again bringing up the old results. Indeed, it actually
makes it a reproach to a person of the present day if he quotes the
works of those earlier investigators, and reminds him that religious
learning did not begin only with the modern Coryphaei, with Holtzmann,
Harnack, &c. Whoever looks upon things from this point of view can
most probably agree in the melancholy reflection of a reviewer of
the first edition of “The Christ Myth,” when he says with reference
to the “latest investigations”: “Apparently the whole learning of the
nineteenth century so far as relates to investigations into the moving
forces of civilisation and national upheavals will be considered by
future research as an arsenal of errors” (O. Hauser in the Neue Freie
Presse, August 8, 1909).

[8] It has also been reckoned as a want of “method” in this work
that I have often made use of a cautious and restrained mode of
expression, that I have spoken of mere “suppositions” and employed
locutions such as “it appears,” &c., when it has been for the time
being impossible for science or myself to give complete certainty to
an assertion. This reproach sounds strange in the mouths of such as
plume themselves upon “scientific method.” For I should think that it
was indeed more scientific in the given cases to express oneself in
the manner chosen by me, than by an unmeasured certainty in assertions
to puff out pure suppositions into undoubted facts. I must leave such
a mode of proceeding to the historical theologians. They work purely
with hypotheses. All their endeavours to obtain an historical kernel
from the Gospels rest upon conjectures simply. Above everything,
their explanation of the origin of Christianity simply from an
historical Jesus is, in spite of the certainty and self-confidence
with which it comes out, a pure hypothesis, and that of very doubtful
value. For that in reality the new religion should have been called
into life by the “all-subduing influence of the personality of
Jesus” and its accompaniments, the visions and hallucinations
of the disciples worked up into ecstasies, is so improbable, and
the whole view is psychologically so assailable, and, moreover,
so futile, that even a liberal theologian like Gunkel declares it
entirely insufficient (“Zum religionsgesichtl. Verstaendnis d. N.T.,”
89 sq.). With this explanation, however, stands or falls the whole
modern Jesus-religion. For if they cannot show how the Pauline and
Johannine Christology could develop from the mere existence of an
historical Jesus, if this now forms “the problem of problems of New
Testament research” (Gunkel, op. cit.), then their whole conception
of the rise of Christianity disappears into air, and they have no
right to hold up against others who seek a better explanation the
partially hypothetical character of the views advanced by them.

[9] Op. cit., 10 sq.

[10] Cf. K. Dunkmann, “Der historische Jesus, der mythologische
Christus, und Jesus der Christ” (1910). Cf. also Pfleiderer, “Das
Christusbild des urchristlichen Glaubens in religionsgeschichtlicher
Beleuchtung” (1903), 6 sq. Here, too, it is pointed out that modern
scientific theology in its description of the figure of Christ
proceeds in anything but an unprejudiced manner. Out of the belief in
Christ as contained in the New Testament it “only draws forth what
is acceptable to present modes of thinking–passing over everything
else and reading in much that is its own–in order to construct an
ideal Christ according to modern taste.” Pfleiderer declares it a
“great illusion” to believe that the pictures of Christ in works
such as Harnack’s “Wesen des Christentums,” each differently drawn
according to the peculiarities of their composers, but all more or
less in the modern style, are the result of scientific historical
research, and are related to the old conceptions of Christ like truth
to error. “One should,” he says, “be reasonable and honourable enough
to confess that both the modern and the antique conceptions of Christ
are alike creations of the common religious spirit of their times and
sprung from the natural need of faith to fix its special principle in
a typical figure and to illustrate it. The differences between the
two correspond to the differences of the times, the former a simple
mythical Epic, the latter a sentimental and conscious Romance.” In
the same sense Alb. Schweitzer also characterises the famous “method”
of historical theology as “a continual experimentation according to
settled hypotheses in which the leading thought rests in the last
resort upon an intuition” (“Von Reimarus bis Wrede,” 1906). Indeed,
Weinel himself, who cannot hold up against the author with sufficient
scorn his lack of method and his dilettantism has to confess that
the same blemishes which in his opinion characterise dilettantism are
to be found even in the most prominent representatives of historical
theology, in a Wrede or a Wellhausen. He reproaches both of these with
the fact that in their researches “serious faults of a general nature
and in method” are present (21). He advises the greatest prudence
in respect to Wellhausen’s Gospel Commentaries “on account of their
serious general blemishes” (26). He objects to Wrede that to be
consistent he must himself go over to radical dilettantism (22). He
charges Schweitzer actually with dilettantism and blind bias which
cause every literary consideration to be lacking (25 sq.). Indeed,
he finds himself, in face of the “dilettante endeavours” to deny the
historical Jesus, compelled even to admit that liberal theology for
the future “must learn to express itself with more caution and to
exhibit more surely the method of religious historical comparison”
(14). He blames Gunkel for imprudence in declaring Christianity to be
a syncretic religion, and demands that the historical works of liberal
theology “should be clearer in their results and more convincing in
their methods” (16). He says that the method which they employ is
at present not sure and clear enough since “it has been spoken of
generally in very loose if not misleading terms,” and he confesses:
“We have apparently not made the measure, according to which we
decide upon what is authentic and what not so in the tradition,
so plain that it can always be recognised with security” (29). Now,
if matters are in such a position, we non-theologians need not take
too tragically the reproach of dilettantism and lack of scientific
method, since it appears very much as though historical theology,
with the exception at most of Herr Weinel, has no sure method.

[11] Cf. W. v. Schnehen, “Der moderne Jesuskultus,” 2nd ed., 1907,
p. 41, a work with which even a Pfleiderer has agreed in the main
points; also the same author’s “Fr. Naumann vor dem Bankrott des
Christentums,” 1907.

[12] The excursus on “The Legend of Peter” which was contained in
the first edition of this work, and there appears to have been rather
misunderstood, has recently (1910) appeared more closely worked out
and reasoned in an independent form in the Neuer Frankfurter Verlag
under the title “Die Petrus Legende. Ein Beitrag zur Mythologie des

[13] Op cit., 82.

[14] Ep. ad Luc. 41.

[15] E. v. Mommsen and Wilamowitz in the Transactions of the
German Archaeological Institute, xxiii. Part iii.; “Christl. Welt,”
1899, No. 57. Compare as a specially characteristic expression of
that period’s longing for redemption the famous Fourth Eclogue of
Virgil. Also Jeremias, “Babylonisches im Neuen Testament,” 1905,
pp. 57 sqq. Lietzmann, “Der Weltheiland,” 1909.

[16] It is certain that the old Israelite Jahwe only attained that
spiritualised character for which he is nowadays extolled under the
influence of the Persians’ imageless worship of God. All efforts to
construct, in spite of this admission, a “qualitative” difference
between Jahwe and Ahuramazda, as, for example, Stave does in his work
(“Der Einfluss des Parsismus auf das Judentum,” 1898, 122 sq.) are
unavailing. According to Stave, the conception of good and evil is
not grasped in Mazdeism in all its purity and truth, but “has been
confused with the natural.” But is that distinction “grasped in all
its purity” in Judaism with its ritualistic legality? Indeed, has it
come to a really pure realisation even in Christianity, in which piety
and attachment to the Church so often pass as identical ideas? Let
us give to each religion its due, and cease to be subtle in drawing
such artificial distinctions in favour of our own–distinctions which
fall into nothingness before every unprejudiced consideration.

[17] Exod. iv. 22; Deut. xxxii. 6; Hosea xi. 1.

[18] Isa. xlix. 6, 8.

[19] Id. li. 16.

[20] Isa. xliv. 28, xlv. 1 sq.

[21] Cumont, “Textes et monuments figures relatifs aux mysteres de
Mithra,” 1899, vol. i. 188.

[22] Isa. xi. 65, 17 sqq.

[23] Isa. ix. 6; Micah v. 1.

[24] Psa. xlvii. 6, 9, lvii. 12.

[25] Ch. xlv.-li.

[26] Ch. vi. 1 sqq.

[27] Cf. Gunkel, “Zum religionsgesch. Verstaendnis des Neuen
Testaments,” 1903, p. 23, note 4.

[28] Revelation xxii.; cf. Pfleiderer, “Das Urchristentum. Seine
Schriften und seine Lehren,” 2nd edit., 1902, vol. ii. 54 sqq.

[29] Dan. xii. 3.

[30] The assertion advanced by Graetz and Lucius that the work mentioned
is a forgery of a fourth-century Christian foisted upon Philo with
the object of recommending the Christian “Ascesis,” and that a sect
of Therapeutes never existed, can now be considered disposed of,
since its refutation by Massebiau and Conybeare. Cf. Pfleiderer,
“Urchristentum,” ii. 5 sq.

[31] Cf. as regards the Essenes, Schuerer, “Geschichte des juedischen
Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi,” 1898, II. 573-584.

[32] Regarding the connection between the Essenes and the Apocalypse,
cf. Hilgenfeld, “Die juedische Apokalyptik,” 1857, p. 253 sqq.

[33] On this point, cf. Brandt, “Die mandaeische Religion,” 1899;
“Realenzyklop, f.d. protest. Theologie u. Kirche,” xii. 160 sqq.;
Gunkel, op. cit., 18 sqq.

[34] Cf. Hilgenfeld, “Ketzergeschichte des Urchristentums,” 1884.

[35] Gunkel, op. cit., 29.

[36] Gen. xxxii. 24.

[37] Numb. xx. 16; Exod. xiii. 21.

[38] Exod. xxxiii. 14; 2 Sam. v. 23.

[39] 1 Kings i. 3; Ezek. xliii. 5.

[40] Isa. lxiii. 9 sqq.

[41] Psa. ii.

[42] Cf. Ghillany, “Die Menschenopfer der alten Hebraeer,” 1842,
326-334; Eisenmenger, “Entdecktes Judentum,” 1711, i. 311, 395
sqq. Also Movers, “Die Phoenizier,” 1841; i. 398 sq.

[43] Exod. xxiii. 20 sqq.

[44] Jos. xxiv. 11.

[45] Jos. v. 2-10. The unhistorical nature of Joshua is admitted also
by Stade. Stade counts him an Ephraimitic myth, recalling to mind in
so doing that the Samaritans possessed an apocryphal book of the same
name in place of our Book of Joshua (“Gesch. d. Volkes Israel,” 1887,
i. 64 sqq., 135). The Samaritan Book of Joshua (Chronicum Samaritanum,
published 1848) was written in Arabic during the thirteenth century in
Egypt, and is based upon an old work composed in the third century
B.C. containing stories which in part do not appear in our Book
of Joshua.

[46] That the hypothesis of Smith here mentioned is quite admissible
from the linguistic point of view has lately been maintained by
Schmiedel in opposition to Weinel (Protestantenbl., 1910, No. 17, 438).

[47] Epiph., “Haeresiol.” xxix.

[48] Smith, op. cit., 37 sq., 54.

[49] Isa. ii. 1. Cf. Epiphanius, op. cit.

[50] Id. xxix. 6.

[51] “Enc. Bibl.,” art. “Nazareth.”

[52] “Since ha-nosrim was a very usual term for guardians or
protectors, it follows that when the term or its Greek equivalent
hoi Nazoraioi was used the adoption of its well-known meaning was
unavoidable. Even if the name was really derived from the village
of Nazareth, no one would have thought of it. Every one would have
unavoidably struck at once upon the current meaning. If a class of
persons was called protectors, every one would understand that as
meaning that they protected something. No one would hit upon it to
derive their name from an otherwise unknown village named Protection”
(Smith, op. cit., 47).

[53] Cf. in this connection Smith, op. cit., 36 sq., 42 sqq.

[54] Cf. Cumont, op. cit., 195 sq.

[55] Matt. ii. 25.

[56] Zech. iii. 10.

[57] Jeremias, op. cit., 56; cf. also 33 and 46, notes.

[58] Robertson, “A Short History of Christianity,” 1902, 9 sqq.

[59] Gunkel, op. cit., 34.

[60] Id., op. cit., 39-63; cf. also Robertson, “Pagan Christs,” 1903,
155 seq.

[61] Cf. Robertson, op. cit., 156.

[62] Mark v. 27; Luke xxiv. 19; Acts xviii. 25, xxviii. 31.

[63] Luke ix. 49, x. 17; Acts iii. 16; James v. 14 sq. For more
details regarding Name magic, see W. Heitmueller, “Im Namen Jesu,” 1903.

[64] Cf. on whole subject Robertson, op. cit., 153-160.

[65] Ch. vii. 29.

[66] Isa. iii.

[67] Ch. xii. 10 sqq.; cf. Movers, op. cit., i. 196.

[68] Ch. viii. 14.

[69] Op. cit., 78.

[70] Frazer, “The Golden Bough,” 1900, ii. 196 sq.

[71] Frazer, “Adonis, Attis, Osiris,” 1908, 128 sqq.

[72] “The Golden Bough,” i., iii. 20 sq.

[73] Verse 14.

[74] Op. cit., viii. 24-29.

[75] 1 Gen. xv. 17.

[76] Ghillany, op. cit., 148, 195, 279, 299, 318 sqq. Cf. especially
the chapter “Der alte hebraeische Nationalgott Jahve,” 264 sqq.

[77] J. M. Robertson, “Pagan Christs,” 140-148. It cannot be
sufficiently insisted upon that it was only under Persian influence
that Jahwe was separated from the Gods of the other Semitic races,
from Baal, Melkart, Moloch, Chemosh, &c., with whom hitherto he had
been almost completely identified; also that it was only through
being worked upon by Hellenistic civilisation that he became that
“unique” God, of whom we usually think on hearing the name. The idea
of a special religious position of the Jewish people, the expression
of which was Jahwe, above all belongs to those myths of religious
history which one repeats to another without thought, but which
science should finally put out of the way.

[78] “Golden Bough,” iii. 138-146.

[79] Movers, op. cit., 480 sqq.

[80] VI. 47 sqq., 209 sqq.

[81] Cf. Gunkel, “Schoepfung und Chaos in Urzeit und Endzeit,” 1895. 309
sq. E. Schrader, “Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament,” 1902,

[82] Ch. viii. 15. Cf. also vi. 8, 9.

[83] “Abhandlungen d. Kgl. Ges. d. Wissenschaften zu Goettingen,” xxxiv.

[84] Cf. also P. Wendland, “Ztschr. Hermes,” xxxiii., 1898, 175 sqq.,
and Robertson, op. cit., 138, note 1.

[85] In the same way the Phrygian Attis, whose name characterises him
as himself the “father,” was also honoured as the “son,” beloved and
spouse of Cybele, the mother Goddess. He thus varied between a Father
God, the high King of Heaven, and the divine Son of that God.

[86] Frazer, op. cit., iii. 138-200. Cf. also Robertson, “Pagan
Christs,” 136-140.

[87] Keim, “Geschichte Jesu,” 1873, 331 note.

[88] Ghillany, op. cit., 510 sqq.

[89] Id. 505.

[90] 2 Sam. xxi. 9; cf. Lev. xxiii. 10-14.

[91] “Hist.,” xviii. 7.

[92] 2 Kings iii. 27.

[93] “Hist. Nat.,” xxxiv. 4, Sec. 26.

[94] Mentioned in Eusebius, “Praeparatio Evangelica,”
i. 10. Cf. Movers, op. cit., 303 sq.

[95] “Der Mythus bei den Hebraeern,” 1876, 109-113.

[96] Cf. Ghillany, op. cit., 451 sqq.; Daumer, op. cit., 34 sqq., 111.

[97] Numb. xx. 22 sqq., xxvii. 12 sqq., xxxiii. 37 sqq.,
Deut. xxxii. 48 sqq. Cf. Ghillany, op. cit., 709-721.

[98] Deut. xviii. 15.

[99] Cf. Heb. v.

[100] Diodorus Siculus, ii. 44.

[101] Justin, “Dial. cum Tryphone,” cap. xc.

[102] Schuerer, op. cit., ii. 555. Cf. also Wuensche, “Die Leiden des
Messias,” 1870.

[103] See above, page 40 sqq.

[104] Cf. Eisenmenger, op. cit., ii. 720 sqq.; Gfroerer, “Das
Jahrhundert des Heils,” 1838, ii. 260 sqq.; Luetzelberger, “Die
kirchl. Tradition ueber den Apostel Johannes u. s. Schriften,”
1840, 224-229; Dalman, “Der leidende und der sterbende Messias der
Synagoge im ersten nachchristlichen Jahrtausend,” 1888; Bousset,
“Die Religion des Judentums, im neutestamentlichen Zeitalter,” 1903,
218 sq.; Jeremias, op. cit., 40 sq.

[105] Op. cit., 21.

[106] Op. cit., 71 sq.

[107] Kautzsch, “Pseudoepigraphen,” 500.

[108] Winckler, op. cit., 67-77. Cf. also Jeremias, op. cit., 40,
and his “Das Alte Testament im Lichte des alten Orients,” 1904, 239 sq.

[109] Gen. xl.

[110] Luke xxiii. 39-43; cf. also Isa. lxxx. 12.

[111] Jos. v. 2 sqq.

[112] Amos viii. 10; cf. Movers, op. cit., 243.

[113] Cf. Robertson, “Pagan Christs,” 157.

[114] Numb. xiv.

[115] Id. xiii. 9; Gen. xlviii. 16.

[116] Id. xiii. 7; Gen. xlix. 9.

[117] 1 Chron. iv. 11.

[118] Judges ii. 9.

[119] Id. iv.

[120] Cf. Nork, “Realwoerterbuch,” 1843-5, ii. 301 sq.

[121] Cf. on whole subject Martin Brueckner, “Der sterbende und
auferstehende Gottheiland in den orientalischen Religionen und ihr
Verhaeltnis zum Christentum. Religionsgesch. Volksbuecher,” 1908.

[122] Ch. ii. 12-20.

[123] Ch. iii. 1-8.

[124] Ch. v. 3-5.

[125] Ch. xii.

[126] “Zum religionsgesch. Verst. d. N.T.,” 54.

[127] “L’origine de tous les cultes,” 1795, v. 133.

[128] “Abraxas,” 117.

[129] Cf. regarding the mythical nature of Moses, who is to be looked
upon as an offshoot of Jahwe and Tammuz, Winckler, op. cit., 86-95.

[130] Cf. also O. Pfleiderer, “Das Christusbild des urchristlichen
Glaubens in religionsgesch. Beleuchtung,” 1903, 37. Also Jeremias,
“Das A.T. im Lichte des alten Orients,” 254.

[131] I. 107.

[132] Cf. Plutarch, “Artaxerxes,” ch. i.

[133] Movers, op. cit., 228.

[134] II. 9, 2.

[135] Bousset, “Das Judentum,” 220.

[136] 1 Kings xi. 14 sq.

[137] Schrader, “Die Keilinschriften u. d. A.T.,” 225.

[138] Winckler, op. cit., 172 sqq., Jeremias, “Das A.T. im Lichte
d. a. O.,” 2nd. ed., 488 sqq.; cf. also Baentsch, “David und sein
Zeitalter. Wissenschaft u. Bildung,” 1907.

[139] Ep. viii. 3.

[140] Id. xlii. 58.

[141] Ch. v. 1.

[142] Gen. xxxv. 11-19; Deut. xxxiii. 12; Gen. xliv. 26.

[143] Cf. Nork, “Realwoerterbuch,” i. 240 sq.

[144] The other famous “prophecy” supposed to refer to the birth of the
Messiah, viz., Isaiah vii. 14, is at present no longer regarded as such
by many. The passage obviously does not refer to the Messiah. This
is shown by a glance at the text, and it would hardly have been
considered so long as bearing that meaning, if any one had taken the
trouble to read it in its context. Consider the situation. Queen Rezin
of Syria and Pekah of Israel march against the Jewish King Ahaz, who
is therefore much troubled. At the command of Jahwe the prophet goes
to the king in order to exhort him to courage, and urges him to pray
for a sign of the happy outcome of the fight. He, however, refuses
to tempt God. Thereupon Isaiah himself gives him a sign. “Behold,”
he says, “a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his
name Immanuel, God be with us. Before the child shall know to refuse
the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings thou abhorrest
shall be forsaken.” And undisturbed by the fact that this prophecy
for the moment can give but little encouragement to the king, Isaiah
goes with the help of two witnesses(!) to a prophetess and gets her
with child in order to make his words true(!). The text does not say
in what relationship the woman stood to Isaiah. The Hebrew word Almah
may mean “young woman” as well as “virgin.” The Septuagint, however,
thoughtlessly making the passage refer to the Messiah, and having
before its eyes very possibly the stories of the miraculous birth of
the heathen Redeemer Gods, translates the word straightway by “virgin,”
without thinking what possible light it thereby threw upon Isaiah.

[145] Ch. lx. 1 sqq.

[146] Psa. lxviii. 32 sq.

[147] Dupuis, op. cit., 268.

[148] Matt. i. 14 sq.

[149] The feasts of the Gods in question also correspond to this
in character. They fell upon the solstice (the birthday or day
of death of the sun), so far as their connection with the sun was
emphasized. On the contrary, upon the equinoxes, so far as their
connection with vegetation was concerned, sowing and harvest were
brought into prominence. Usually, however, death and reappearance were
joined in one single feast, and this was celebrated at the time in
spring when day and night were of equal length, when vegetation was
at its highest, and in the East the harvest was begun. Cf. Jeremias,
“Babylonisches im N.T.,” 10 sq.

[150] One should compare the description given by Hommel of the
climate of Babylonia (op. cit., 186) with the picture of the natural
occurrences which, according to Gunkel, gave occasion for the myth
of the birth of Marduk, and the threatening of the child by the
“Winter Dragon,” Tiamat. “Before spring descends to the earth from
heaven, winter has had its grim (!) rule upon the earth. Men pine away
(in the country of the two rivers!) beneath its sway, and look up to
heaven wondering if deliverance will not come. The myth consoles them
with the story that the God of spring who will overthrow winter has
already been born. The God of winter who knows for what he is destined
is his enemy, and would be very pleased if he could devour him. And
winter at present ruling is much stronger than the weak child. But his
endeavour to get rid of his enemy comes to nought. Do you then want to
know why he is so grim? He knows that he has only a short time. His
might is already broken although we may be yet unaware of it. The
year has already changed to spring. The child grows up in heaven; the
days become longer, the light of the sun stronger. As soon as he is
grown up he descends and overthrows his old enemy. ‘Only trust in God
without despair, spring must come'” (“Schoepfung und Chaos,” 389 sq.).

[151] Dupuis has already pointed this out, op. cit., 152.

[152] Macrobius, “Saturnal.,” i. 18, i. 34-35.

[153] “Adversus Nationes,” v. 6 and 13.

[154] Cf. Simrock, “Handbuch der deutschen Mythologie,” 4th ed.,
1874, 201 and 225.

[155] Op. cit., 138. The transfixing of the victim with the holy lance,
as we meet it in John xix. 34, appears to be a very old sacrificial
custom, which is found among the most different races. For example,
both among the Scythian tribes in Albania in the worship of Astarte
(Strabo) and in Salamis, on the island of Cyprus, in that of Moloch
(Eusebius, “Praep. Evang.,” iv. 16). “The lance thrust,” says Ghillany,
with reference to the Saviour’s death, “was not given with the object
of testing whether the sufferer was still alive, but was in order to
correspond with the old method of sacrificing. The legs were not broken
because the victim could not be mutilated. In the evening the corpse
had to be taken down, just as Joshua only allowed the kings sacrificed
to the sun to remain until evening upon the cross” (op. cit., 558).

[156] Frazer, op. cit., 345 sq. F. Kauffmann, “Balder Mythus u. Sage
nach ihren dichterischen u. religioesen Elementen untersucht,” 1902,
266 sq.

[157] Rigv. v. 1, v. 2, iii. 1, vii. 12, i. 96, &c.

[158] Hillebrand, “Vedische Mythologie,” 1891-1902, ii. 38 sq.

[159] According to early Christian writers, such as Justin and Origen,
Jesus also came into the world in a cave, and Jerome complains
(Epist. lviii.) that in his time the heathens celebrated the feast
of the birth of Tammuz at Bethlehem in the same cave in which Jesus
was born.

[160] I. 72, 2; v. 11, 6; v. 2, 1; iii. 1, 14; i. 65, 1; x. 46, 2.

[161] III. 1, 7; iii. 9, 7; v. 1, 1; v. 2, 1, and 2; iii. 7, 2; x. 4,
2, and 3.

[162] Cf. Volney, “Die Ruinen,” 1791 (Reclam), note 83 to
chap. xiii. This is the reason why the infant Christ was represented
in early Christian pictures lying in his mother’s lap or in a cradle
between an Ox and an Ass.

[163] Jeremias, “Babylonisches im Neuen Testament,” 35, note
1. Cf. Dupuis, op. cit., 111 sqq.

[164] Dupuis, op. cit., 143 sq.

[165] Cf. also Winckler, “Die babylonische Geisteskultur Wissenschaft
u. Bildung,” 1907. Jeremias, “Babylonisches im N.T.,” 62 sqq. The
astral references of the Christ myth are very beautifully shown in
the “Thomakapelle” at Karlsruhe, where the Master has depicted in
costly profusion and unconscious insight the chief points of the
Gospel “history” in connection with the signs of the Zodiac and the
stars–the riddle of the Christ story and its solution! As is well
known, the theological faculty in Heidelburg conferred an “honorary
doctorate of theology” upon the Master.

[166] “Le Lalita Vistara, traduit du sanscrit en francais,” i. 76 sqq.

[167] Further in R. Seydel, “Die Buddhalegende u. das Leben Jesu,” 2nd
ed., 1897, and in his “Das Evangelium von Jesus in seinem Verhaeltnis
zur Buddhasage u. Buddhalegende,” 1882. Also Van den Bergh van Eysinga,
“Indische Einfluesse auf evang. Erzaehlungen,” 2nd ed., 1909. Cf. also
O. Pfleiderer, “Das Christusbild,” 23 sqq.

[168] “Urchristentum,” i. 411 sq.

[169] Robertson, “Christianity and Mythology,” 1900, 129-302.

[170] Op. cit., 25 sqq., 239-244; cf., on the other hand, Paul
W. Schmidt, “Die Geschichte Jesu erlaeutert,” 1904, 16.

[171] Cf. also Seydel, “Evangelium von Jesus,” 305 sqq.;
“Buddha-Legende,” 46 sqq. Also Emile Burnouf, “La Science des
Religions,” 4th ed., 1885, 105.

[172] R. Kessler, “Realenz. f. prot. Theol. u. Kirche,” xii. 163.

[173] Foucaux, “Le Lalita Vistara,” i. 40.

[174] Hippolytus, op. cit., 9, 10; Epiphanius, op. cit., 30, 53.

[175] Cf. Pfleiderer, “Christusbild,” 14 sq.

[176] Cf. also Max Mueller, “Natural Religion”; Bergaigne, “La religion
vedique d’apres les hymnes du Rigveda,” 1878-83; Holtzmann, “Agni
nach den Vorstellungen des Mahabharata,” 1878.

[177] Rgv. iii. 1, 9, 10.

[178] Id. ii. 23; i. 7; xcv. 2, 5; x. 2, 7; viii. 29, 3.

[179] Id. iii. 5, 10; i. 148, 1. Cf. also Adalb. Kuhn, “Die Herabkunft
des Feuers und des Goettertrankes,” 2nd ed., 1886-9. In Mazdeism also
the light is indissolubly connected with the air, passing as this
does as its bearer. Cf. F. Cumont, “Textes et monuments,” i. 228,
ii. 87 sq., and his “Mysteres de Mithra.”

[180] Il., xi. 20; cf. Movers, op. cit., 242 sq.

[181] Cf. John x. 3, 7, 9.

[182] O. Gruppe, “Griech. Mythologie,” 1900, ii. 1328, note 10.

[183] Id., op. cit., 1307. According to the Arabian legend Father
Abraham, also, who here plays the part of a saviour and redeemer,
was under the name of Thare, a skilful master workman, understanding
how to cut arrows from any wood, and being specially occupied with
the preparation of idols (Sepp, “Das Heidentum und dessen Bedeutung
fuer das Christentum,” 1853, iii. 82).

[184] “Praep. Evang.,” ix. 27.

[185] 2 Cor. viii. 9.

[186] Gruppe, op. cit., 1322, 1331.

[187] Preller, “Griech. Mythol.,” 1894, 775 sq., 855.

[188] Robertson, “Christianity and Mythology,” 322.

[189] Matt. iii. 17; Mark i. 11; Luke iii. 22.

[190] Phereda or Pheredet, the dove, is the Chaldaic root of the name
Aphrodite, as the Goddess in the car drawn by two doves was called
among the Greeks. In the whole of Nearer Asia the cult of doves was
connected with that of the Mother Goddess. As is well known, the dove
as a symbol of innocence or purity is also the bird of the Virgin
Mary, who is often compared to one. Indeed, in the Protevangelium
of James she is actually called a dove which nested in the temple, a
plain reference to the dove cult of the Syrian Aphrodite or Atargatis
(Astarte, Astaroth).

[191] Irenaeus, i. 28.

[192] Hippolytus iv. 35. This brings to mind that, according to
Persian ideas also, besides the Trinity of Heaven (Ahuramazda), Sun,
Fire (Mithras), and Air (Spirit, “word,” Honover, Spenta Armaiti),
the earth stood as a fourth principle (Anahita, Anaitis, Tanit). This
stood in the same relation to Mithras as Istar to Tammuz, Cybele to
Attis, Atargatis to Adonis, Maya to Agni, Aphrodite to Hermes, Mary
to Jesus, &c., becoming identical, however, usually with the “word”
of God, the holy spirit (Cumont, op. cit., ii. 87 sq.).

[193] “Dialog.,” 88.

[194] One cannot therefore say, as is usual, that Mark, in whom the
story of the birth given in Matthew and Luke is not found, knew nothing
of a supernatural birth of Christ. For the narrative of the baptism
is the history of his birth, while the corresponding narrative of the
other Evangelists only came into existence later, when the original
sense of the story of the baptism in Mark was no longer understood.

[195] Quoted in Usener, “Religionsgesch. Untersuchungen,” 1889, i. 64.

[196] Thus Mithras also was said to have been born on the bank of a
river, just as Jesus received baptism in or near the Jordan. On this
account “the Rock-born” was usually represented with a torch in his
left and a sword or knife in his right hand (Cumont, “Myst. d. Mithra,”
97). This recalls to mind the words of Jesus in Matt. x. 34: “I came
not to send peace, but a sword.”

[197] Cf. Wobbermin, “Religionsgesch. Studien zur Frage der
Beeinflussung des Urchristentums durch das antike Mysterienwesen,”
1896, 154 sqq. The Christian Church also surrounded the act of baptism
with an unusual splendour of lights and candles. Not only was the
House of God lit up on this occasion in a festive manner, but each
individual to be baptized had to carry a burning candle. The sermons
which have come down to us delivered on the feast of the Epiphany,
the feast of the birth and baptism of the Saviour which in earlier
days fell together(!), excel in the description of the splendour of
the lights; indeed, the day of the feast itself was actually called
“the day of lights” or “the lights” (phota).

[198] Rgv. x. 88, 2.

[199] Id. v. 2, 9.

[200] “Antiq.,” xviii. 5, 2.

[201] “Contra Celsum,” i. 47.

[202] Graetz calls it “a shameless interpolation” (“Gesch. d. Juden,”
1888, iii. 278). Cf. J. Chr. K. v. Hofmann, “Die heiligen Schriften
des N.T.,” vii. Tl. 3, 1876, 4; Schuerer, “Gesch. den juedischen Volkes
im Zeitalter Jesu,” i. 438, note.

[203] Cf. Sepp., op. cit., i. 168 sqq.

[204] Cf. Usener, op. cit., 62.

[205] I. 8, 9, 10, 16; cf. Matt. iv. 16.

[206] Luke i. 5 sqq.

[207] Gen. xvii. 16 sqq.

[208] Judges, xiii. 2 sqq.

[209] John v. 35.

[210] Id. iii. 30.

[211] Luke i. 26.

[212] Matt. iii. 4.

[213] 2 Kings i. 8.

[214] Matt. xi. 14.

[215] Cf. Nork, “Realwoerterbuch,” i. 451 sqq. The Baptist John in
the Gospels also appears as the “forerunner,” announcer, herald, and
preparer of the way for Jesus, and it appears that the position of
Aaron in regard to Moses, he being given the latter as a mouthpiece
or herald, has helped in the invention of the Baptist’s figure. A
similar position is taken in the Old Testament by the “Angel of the
Countenance,” the messenger, mediator, ambassador, and “Beginning
of the way of God,” the rabbinic Metatron, whom we saw earlier was
identical with Joshua (see above, p. 56 sq.). In the Syro-Phoenician
and the Greek Mysteries Cadmus, Kadmilos, or Kadmiel, a form of the
divine messenger and mediator Hermes, also called Iasios (Joshua),
corresponded to him, his name literally meaning “he who goes before
God” or prophesies of him, the announcer, herald, or forerunner
of the coming God (cf. Schelling, “Die Gottheiten von Samothrake
Ww.,” i. 8, 358, 392 sqq.). Ezra ii. 40, 39, and Nehem. vii. 43,
call Kadmiel a Levite, he being always named together with the High
Priest Joshua. It is probably only another name of the latter himself,
and characterises him as servant and herald of God. Now Kadmiel is the
discoverer of writing and the establisher of civilisation, and in so
far identical with Oannes, the Babylonian “Water-man” and Baptism-God
(Movers, op. cit., 518 sqq.). Can Oannes (Johannes) the Baptist in
this way have become Kadmiel, the “forerunner” and preparer of the
way of Jesus, who announced his near arrival, and the God Jesus, in
consequence of this, have divided into two different figures, that
of Joshua-Kadmiel (Johannes) and the Messiah Jesus? In this regard
it is certainly not without significance that the figure of the High
Priest Joshua in Zechariah wavers between the Messiah (Zemah) and a
mere forerunner of the latter. John’s question to Jesus, “Art thou
he that cometh, or look we for another?” (Matt. xi. 3) is exactly the
question which strikes the reader in reading the corresponding passage
of Zechariah. Possibly the presence of the dove at the baptism in the
Jordan obtains in this way a still closer explanation, for Semiramis,
the Dove Goddess, is the spouse of Oannes (Ninus); John and the dove
accordingly are the parents, who are present at the “birth” of the
divine son. But the violent death of John at Herod’s command and
the head of the prophet upon the dish have prototypes in the myth of
Cadmus. For the head of the latter is supposed to have been cut off by
his brother and to have been buried upon a brazen shield, a cult story
which plays a part especially in the Mysteries of the Cabiri Gods,
to whom Cadmus belongs (cf. Creuzer, “Symbolik und Mythologie der
alten Voelker,” 1820, ii. 333). According to Josephus (op. cit.) John
was put to death because Herod feared political disorders from his
appearance, while Matthew makes him fall a victim to Herod’s revenge,
the latter having been censured by John for his criminal marriage with
the wife of his brother. Moreover, the prophet Elijah, who accuses Ahab
of having yielded to his wife Jezebel and of having murdered Naboth
(1 Kings xxi.), as well as the prophet Nathan, who reproaches David
for having killed Uriah and having married his wife (2 Sam. xii.,
cf. also Esther v. 7, 2), are also prototypes. According to this
a religious movement or sect must, in the minds of posterity, have
been condensed into the figure of John the Baptist. Its followers,
who closely resembled the Essenes, in view of the imminent nearness
of the kingdom of heaven, exhorted men to a conversion of mind,
looked upon the Messiah in the sense of Daniel essentially as the
God appointed (“awakened”) judge over the living and the dead,
and sought by baptism to apply to the penitents the magic effects
which should flow from the name of their Cult God Johannes (Oannes),
the Babylonian-Mandaic Baptism and Water-God. The stern and gloomy
character of this sect may have been reflected in the character sketch
of the John in the Gospels, and between it and the sect of Jesus many
collisions, disagreements, and conversions appear to have taken place
(Matt. xi. 1 sq.; Luke vii. 18 sqq.; John i. 37). Possibly the sect
of Jesus was originally only an excrescence from, and a development
of, the conception which the disciples of John had of the Messiah,
as is indicated by the supposed blood relationship between Jesus and
John. At any rate, the adherents of the former in their belief in the
sufferings, death, and resurrection of the Messiah felt that their
point of view was higher and more perfect as compared with that of
John’s disciples, who do not appear to have risen essentially above
the general ideas of the Jewish Apocalyptics. According to Matthew
iii. 13 Jesus came out of Galilee, the “Galilee of the Heathens,” to
the baptism of John. Herein the original heathenish origin of the faith
of Jesus was pointed to. “The people which sat in darkness have seen
a great light. To them which sat in the region and shadow of death,
to them did light spring up” (Matt. iv. 16; cf. Smith, op. cit.,
95). The opposition of the two different sects was, at any rate, so
great that John’s disciples needed a further instruction and a new
baptism “in the name of the Lord Jesus” to receive the Holy Ghost,
in order to be received into the Christian community. For example,
the twelve at Ephesus, who had simply received the baptism of John,
as well as the eloquent and literary Alexandrian, Apollo, who none
the less proclaimed the message of salvation (ta peri tou Iesou)
(Acts xviii. 24 sqq., xix. 1-7).

[216] Cf., Sepp, “Heidentum,” i. 170 sq., 190 sq.; Winckler, “Die
babylonische Geisteskultur,” 89, 100 sq. By this reference of the
Gospel story to the sun’s course it appears that the activity of Jesus
from his baptism in the Jordan to his death, according to the account
of the Synoptics, only covered a year. It is the mythological year
of the sun’s course through the Watery Region in January and February
until the complete exhaustion of its strength in December.

[217] Mark ix. 2-7.

[218] The horns (crescent) which he also shares with Jahwe, as the
Syrian Hadah shows (Winckler, “Gesch. Israels,” ii. 94), recalls to
mind the Moon nature of Moses. Moses is, as regards his name, the
“Water-drawer.” The moon is, however, according to antique views,
merely the water-star, the dispenser of the dew and rain, and the
root ma (mo), which, in the name of Moses, refers to water, is also
contained in the various expressions for the moon.

[219] “Contra Tryph.,” xlvi.

[220] Cf. above, 112.

[221] Burnouf, op. cit., 195 sq.

[222] That in the closer description of this occurrence Old Testament
ideas have had their part has already been advanced by others. Thus
in the transfiguration of Jesus the transfiguration of Moses upon
Sinai without doubt passed before the mind of the narrator. And just
as Jesus took with him his three chief disciples on to the mount of
transfiguration, so Moses took his three trusted followers, Aaron,
Nadab, and Abihu, to partake in the vision of Jahwe (Strauss, “Leben
Jesu,” ii. 269 sqq.).

[223] Rgv. x. 191; cf. i. 72, 5.

[224] Id. iii. 28, vi. 11.

[225] Max Mueller, “Einleitung in die vergl. Religionswissenschaft,”
note to p. 219.

[226] Rigv. x. 90.

[227] The Rigveda describes Purusha as a gigantic being (cf. the
Eddic Ymir) who covers the earth upon all sides and stretches ten
fingers beyond. The Talmud, too (Chagiga, xii. 1), ascribes to the
first man Adam a gigantic size, reaching as he did with his head to
heaven and with his feet to the end of the world. Indeed, according
to Epiphanius (“Haeres.” xix. 4), the Essenes made the size of Christ
too, the “second Adam,” stretch an immeasurable distance.

[228] In Hebrew Messiah means “the anointed.” But Agni too as God of
Sacrifices bears the name of the anointed, akta (above, p. 99). Indeed,
it appears as though the Greek Christ, as a translation of Messiah,
stands in relation to Agni. For the God over whom at his birth was
poured milk or the holy Soma cup and sacrificial butter, bore the
surname of Hari among the members of the cult. The word signified
originally the brightness produced by anointing with fat and oil. It
appears in the Greek Charis, an epithet of Aphrodite, and is contained
in the verb chrio, to anoint, of which Christos is the participial form
(cf. Cox, “Mythology of the Aryan Nations,” 1903, 27, 254).

[229] The Bhagavadgita shows that the idea of a self-sacrifice
was associated with Krishna also, whom we have already learnt to
recognise as a form of Agni, and that his becoming man was regarded
as such a sacrifice. It (ii. 16) runs: “I am the act of sacrifice,
the sacrifice of God and of man. I am the sap of the plant, the
words, the sacrificial butter and fire, and at the same time the
victim.” And in viii. 4 Krishna says of himself: “My presence in
nature is my transitory being, my presence in the Gods is Purusha
(i.e., my existence as Purusha), my presence in the sacrifices is
myself incorporated in this body.” But Mithras too offers himself for
mankind. For the bull whose death at the hands of the God takes the
central position in all the representations of Mithras was originally
none other than the God himself–the sun in the constellation of the
Bull, at the spring equinox–the sacrifice of the bull accordingly
being also a symbol of the God who gives his own life, in order
by his death to bring a new, richer and better life. Mithras, too,
performs this self-sacrifice, although his heart struggles against
it, at the command of the God of Heaven, which is brought to him by
a raven, the messenger of the God of Gods. (cf. Cumont, op. cit.,
98 sqq.). And just as according to Vedic ideas Purusha was torn in
pieces by the Gods and Daemons and the world made out of his parts,
so too according to Persian views the World Bull Abudad or the Bull
Man Gayomart at the beginning of creation is supposed to have shed
his blood for the world, to live again as Mithras (Sepp., op. cit.,
i. 330, ii. 6 sq.).

[230] Cumont, “Myst. de Mithra,” 101.

[231] Rgv. x. 16.

[232] Id. x. 16, 6.

[233] Id. lx.; cf. also Burnouf, op. cit., 176 sqq.

[234] Op. cit., vii. 3. He is Jahwe, the King of Jeru-Salem itself
(Josephus, “Ant.,” x. 2), and corresponds to the Phoenician Moloch
(Melech) Sidyk, who offered his only born son, Jehud, to the people
as an expiation. Cf. supra, p. 77.

[235] Op. cit., xix. 13, xxxii. 29, xliv. 17, xvi. 25.

[236] Op. cit., lxv. 11.

[237] As is well known, the Germanic first man, Mannus, according to
Tacitus, was a son of the hermaphrodite Thuisto.

[238] Lev. xxiv. 5-9.

[239] Jos. iv. 1 sqq.; ch. v.

[240] Thus Helios also, the Greek Sun-God, the heavenly physician and
saviour, annually prepared the “Sun’s Table” in nature, causing the
fruit to ripen, the healing herbs to grow, and inviting mortals to
the life-giving feast. “This Table of the Sun was always spread in
the land of the happy and long-living Ethiopians; even the twelve
Gods journeyed thither each year with Zeus for twelve days, i.e.,
in the last Octave of the old and new year, as though to the feast of
Agape” (Sepp., op. cit., i. 275). For the rest the number twelve had
throughout the whole of antiquity in connection with such ceremonial
feasts a typical signification. For example, among the Athenians, whose
common religious feasts were celebrated annually on the occasion of
the spring sacrifices; also among the Jews at least twelve persons had
to be assembled round the table of the Easter Lamb (Sepp., op. cit.,
ii. 313 sqq.).

[241] Ghillany, op. cit., 510 sqq.

[242] Preller, “Griech. Mythol.,” 398, 850, and his “Roem. Mythol.,”

[243] Strabo, xi. 2; Justin, xlii. 3.

[244] Preller, “Griech. Mytholog.,” 110.

[245] It is worth while to observe that the High Priest Joshua
returned to Jerusalem at the head of twelve elders (Ezra ii. 2;
Nehem. vii. 7. Cf. Stade, “Gesch. d. V. Israel,” ii. 102).

[246] Cf. Movers, op. cit., 539 sqq.; Sepp., “Heidentum,” 271, 421.

[247] Cf. Jeremias, “Babyl. im N.T.,” 69-80.

[248] Rgv. vi. 54.

[249] Cf. “The Hymns to Dadhikra,” iv. 38-40.

[250] Cf. Burnouf, op. cit., 196. The connection between the Fire-God
and water is of extreme antiquity. As is well known, in the Edda Loki
seeks to escape the pursuit of the Gods in the shape of a salmon;
Hephaistos, too, after being cast forth from heaven remains concealed
in the sea until Dionysus brings him out; in Rome on the 22nd of
August fish from the Tiber used to be sacrificed to Vulcan, being cast
living into the fire in representation of the souls of men (Preller,
“Roem. Mythol.,” ii. 151). It is uncertain whether or to what degree the
relations of the sun to the constellation of the Fishes have influenced
these images. As regards Babylon, where astrology underwent the most
accurate development, this can indeed be looked upon as certain. Here
Ea (Oannes), the God of Water and of Life, the father of the Redeemer
God Marduk, was represented under the form of a fish. Again, it was not
only to the Philistinian Dagon that fish as well as doves were sacred
(above, p. 118), but also to the Syrian Atargatis, the latter having
borne, as was said, the “Ichthus,” or fish, and the worship of fish
being connected with devotion to her (Robertson Smith, “Religion of
the Semites,” 174 sqq.). In Egypt Horus was the “divine fish,” being
represented with a fish-tail and holding a cross in the hand. But the
Joshua of the Old Testament, in whom we believe we see the Israelite
original of the Christian Saviour, was also called a “Son of the Fish”
(Nun, Ninus, a form of Marduk, whose spouse or beloved, Semiramis,
is also a Fish Divinity and is the same as Derketo (Atargatis), the
Syrian Mother Goddess.) The Rabbinists called the Messiah son of Joseph
(see above, p. 80 sq.), Dag (Dagon) the Fish, and made him to be born
of a fish; that is, they expected his birth under the constellation of
the Fishes, on which account the Jews were long accustomed to immolate
a fish on expiatory feasts. Finally, the fish is also Vishnu’s symbol,
in whose worship baptism of water takes an important place. Again,
the God is said in the form of a fish to have come to the rescue of
the pious Manu, the only just man of his time, the Indian Noah, and
to have steered the Ark through the flood, thus ensuring to mankind
its continuation. It is not difficult to suppose that this idea as
well influenced the symbols of Christianity through Mandaic (Gnostic)
channels. At any rate, it cannot be admitted at all that the symbol
of the fish first arose out of a mere play on letters so far as the
formula “Jesous Christos Theou Huios Soter” represents in five words
the expression of the quintessence of the Christian faith (cf. van den
Bergh van Eysinga, “Ztschr. d. Deutchen Morgenlaend. Gesellschaft B.,”
ix., 1906, 210 sqq.).

[251] Cf. Iamblichus, “De Symbol. Aegyptiorum,” ii. 7.

[252] Gunkel, op. cit., 32. sq.; Robertson, “Pagan Christs,” 135 sq.

[253] Op. cit., v. 6 sq.

[254] Rev. xxi. 23.

[255] Hatch, “The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the
Christian Church,” Hibbert Lectures, 1888, 300.

[256] John i. 7, 12; ix. 5; xii. 36, 46.

[257] Sepp., i. 353.

[258] Burnouf, op. cit., 186 sq.

[259] Cf., for example, F. X. Kraus, “Geschichte d. christl. Kunst,”
i. 105.

[260] “Hist. Rom.,” i. 26.

[261] Cf. Zoeckler, “Das Kreuz Christi,” 1875, 62 sqq.; Hochart,
“Etudes d’histoire religieuse,” 1890, chap, x., “La crucifix.”

[262] Aringhi, “Roma subterranea,” vi. ch. 23, “De Cervo.”

[263] Cf. on the other hand Justin, “Apol.,” i. 35.

[264] Esther v. 14, vii. 10.

[265] Cf. the picture of Marsyas hanging upon a tree-trunk in the
collection of antiquities at Karlsruhe; also the illustrations in
P. Schmidt, “Die Geschichte Jesu, erlaeutert,” 1904.

[266] Movers, op. cit., 687; Nork, “Reallexikon,” ii. 122 sq.; Frazer,
“Adonis, Attis, Osiris,” 185 sq.

[267] Rev. ii. 7, xxii. 2.

[268] lxvi. 19.

[269] ix. 3, 4.

[270] Exod. xvii. 10 sqq.

[271] For particulars see Zoeckler, op. cit., 7 sqq.; also Hochart,
op. cit., chap, viii., “Le symbole de la croix”; G. de Mortillet,
“Le signe de la croix avant le christianisme,” 1866; Mourant Brock,
“La croix payenne et chretienne,” 1881; Goblet d’Alviella, “La
migration des symboles,” 1891.

[272] Henry Petersen, “Ueber den Gottesdienst u. den Goetterglauben
des Nordens waehrend der Heidenzeit,” 1882, 39 sqq. 95 sqq.

[273] Zoeckler, op. cit., 21 sqq.

[274] Winckler, “Die babyl. Geisteskultur,” 82.

[275] Tertullian, “Contra Haereses,” 40.

[276] Burnouf, op. cit., 240.

[277] Goblet d’Alviella, op. cit., 61. sqq. Cf. also Ludw. Mueller,
“Det saakaldte Hagekors Anvendelse og Betydning i Oldtiden,” 1877.

[278] Op. cit., 296.

[279] One feels the words of Revelation quoted above brought to his
mind: “And madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests;
and they reign upon the earth!”

[280] “De errore profanae religionis,” i. 5.

[281] Op. cit., Sec. 48.

[282] “Apolog.,” i. ch. 60.

[283] III. 12, vii. 3 sqq., ix. 4, xiv. 1, xx. 4, xxii. 4.

[284] Gal. vi. 17; Ephes. i. 13 sq.

[285] Mourant Brock, op. cit., 177 sqq., 178 sqq.

[286] So also in Tertullian when, with reference to the passage of
Ezekiel above quoted (ix. 5), he describes the Greek letter Tau as
“our [the Christians’] kind of cross” (nostra species crucis), not
because it had the shape of the gibbet upon which Jesus is supposed
to have died, but because it represented the seal or sign upon the
inhabitants of the New Jerusalem (“Contra Marcionem,” iii. 22). And
when in the same work (iii. 18) he explains the horns of the “unicorn”
(ox?) mentioned in the Blessing of Moses (Deut. xxxiii. 17) as the two
arms of the cross, this happens only for the reason that the sign of
union and uplifting and the gibbet became commingled in his fancy into
the one and the same form (cf. also “Adv. Judaeos,” 10, and Justin,
“Dial.,” 91; also Hochart, op. cit., 365-369).

[287] Zoeckler, op. cit., 14 sq.

[288] Frazer, “Adonis, Attis, Osiris,” 174 sq., 276 sqq.

[289] Cf. on the whole subject Hochart, op. cit., 359 sqq.; P. Schmidt,
“Gesch. Jesu,” 386-394. In spite of all his efforts Zoeckler has
not succeeded in proving that Jesus was nailed to a piece of wood
having the form of a four-armed cross. The assertion that this form
of gibbet was borrowed by the Romans from the Carthaginians, and was
the usual one in late pre-Christian days, is simply a figment of the
imagination. All passages usually brought forward in support of this
traditional view either prove nothing, as the appeal to Luke xxiv. 39,
John xx. 20 and 25, or they refer to the symbol, not to the gibbet
of the cross, and consequently cannot serve to support the usual view
of the matter (Zoeckler, op. cit., especially 78; 431 sqq.).

[290] “Geschichte der christlichen Kunst,” 174.

[291] Cf. Detzel, “Christl. Ikonographie,” 1894, 392 sqq.; Hochart,
op. cit., 378 sqq.

[292] Moreover, the so-called Flabellum, the fan, which in the
early Christian pictures of the birth of Christ a servant holds
before the child, shows the connection of the Christ Cult and that
of Agni. This fan, which was in use in divine service of the Western
Church as late as the fourteenth century, cannot be for the driving
away of insects or for cooling purposes, as is usually considered,
for this would obviously be in contradiction to the “winter” birth
of the Saviour. It refers to the fanning of the divine spark in the
ancient Indian fire-worship. In this sense it has been retained until
the present day in the Greek and Armenian rites, in which during the
Mass the fan is waved to and fro over the altar. A synopsis of all
the facts and illustrations bearing on the matter are to be found in
A. Malvert’s “Wissenschaft und Religion,” 1904.

[293] Of course the “Acts of the Apostles” is, and remains in spite
of all modern attempts at vindication (Harnack), a very untrustworthy
historical document, and the information it gives as to Paul’s life
is for the most part mere fiction. We need not go so far as Jensen,
who disputes the existence at any time of an historical Paul (“Moses,
Jesus, Paulus. Drei Sagenvarianten des babylonischen Gottmenschen
Gilgamesch,” 2 Aufl., 1909), but will nevertheless not be able
to avoid the view that the description of Paul, as Bruno Bauer
has already shown, represents an original, in any case very much
worked over, and in the opinion of many only a copy of the original,
which preceded it in the portrayal of the “chief of the apostles,”
Peter (cf., on the historical value of the Acts, also E. Zeller,
“Die Apg. nach ihrem Inhalt und Ursprung kritisch untersucht,” 1854).

[294] Cf. H. Jordan, “Jesus und die modernen Jesusbilder. Bibl. Zeit-
u. Streitfragen,” 1909, 36.

[295] “To create authors who have never written a letter, to forge
whole series of books, to date the most recent production back into
grey antiquity, to cause the well-known philosophers to utter opinions
diametrically opposed to their real views, these and similar things
were quite common during the last century before and the first after
Christ. People cared little at that time about the author of a work, if
only its contents were in harmony with the taste and needs of the age”
(E. Zeller, “Vortraege u. Abhdlg.,” 1865, 298 sq.). “It was at that time
a favourite practice to write letters for famous men. A collection
of not less than 148 letters was attributed to the tyrant Phalaris,
who ruled Agrigentum in the sixth century B.C. Beyschlag has proved
that they were ascribed to him in the time of Antoninus. Similarly the
letters attributed to Plato, to Euripides and others, are spurious. It
would have been indeed strange if this custom of the age had not gained
an influence over the growing Christian literature, for such forgery
would be produced most easily in the religious sphere, since it was
here not a question of producing particular thoughts, but of being
an organ of the common religious spirit working in the individual”
(Steck, op. cit., 384 sq.; cf. also Holtzmann, “Einl. in das N.T.,”
2 Aufl., 223 sqq.).

[296] E. Vischer, “Die Paulusbriefe, Rel. Volksb.,” 1904, 69 sq.

[297] Op. cit., ix. 3 sqq.

[298] 1 Cor. xv. 5 sqq.

[299] Cf. W. Seufert, “Der Ursprung und die Bedeutung des Apostolates
in der christlichen Kirche der ersten Jahrhunderte,” 1887, 46, 157.

[300] An attempt is now being made to prove the contrary, citing 2
Cor. v. 16, which runs: “Wherefore we henceforth know no man after
the flesh: even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet
now we know him so no more.” The passage has been most differently
explained. According to Baur the “Christ after the flesh” refers to
the Jewish Messiah, the expected king and earthly Saviour of the Jews
from political and social distress, in whom even Paul believed at
an earlier date; and the meaning of the passage quoted is that this
sensuous and earthly conception of the Messiah had given place in him
to the spiritual conception (“Die Christuspartei in der kor. Gemeinde
Tueb. Ztschr.,” 1831, 4 Heft, 90). According to Heinrici the “even
though we have known” is not a positive assertion of a point of view
which had once determined his judgment of Christ, but a hypothetical
instance, which excludes a false point of view without asserting
anything as to its actuality (“Komment,” 289). According to Beyschlag
the passage is to be understood as asserting that Paul had seen Jesus
at Jerusalem during his life on earth. But with Paul there is no
talk of a mere seeing, but rather of a knowing. Luetgert disproves
all these different hypotheses with the argument that the words
“after the flesh” refer not to Christ but to the verb. “The apostle
no longer knows any one ‘after the flesh,’ and so he no longer knows
Jesus thus. At an earlier stage his knowledge of Christ was ‘after
the flesh.’ At that time he did not have the spirit of God which made
him able to see in Jesus the Son of God. Paul then is not protecting
himself from the Jews, who denied him a personal knowledge of Jesus,
but from the Pneumatics, who denied him a pneumatic knowledge of Jesus”
(“Freiheitspredigt und Schwarmgeister in Korinth,” 1908, 55-58).

[301] Gal. i. 11, 12; 1 Cor. ii. 10; 2 Cor. iv. 6.

[302] Gal. i. 17-19.

[303] Gal. ii. 1 sqq.

[304] Id. i. 19.

[305] Matt. xxviii. 10; Mark xiii. 33 sqq.; John xx. 17.

[306] In the opinion of the Dutch school of theologians, whom Schlaeger
follows in his essay, “Das Wort kuerios (Herr) in Seiner Bezichung auf
Gott oder Jesus Christus” (“Theol. Tijdschrift,” 33, 1899, Part I.),
this mention of the “Brother of the Lord” does not come from Paul;
as according to Schlaeger, all the passages in 1 Cor., which speak of
Jesus under the title “Kurios,” are interpolated. “Missionary travels
of Brothers of Jesus are unknown to us from any other quarter, and
are also in themselves improbable” (op. cit., 46; cf. also Steck,
op. cit., 272 sq.).

[307] Similarly Origen, “Contra Celsum,” i. 35; cf. Smith, op. cit.,
18 sq.

[308] Cf. as to this Sieffert in “Realenzyklop. f. prot. Theol. und
Kirche” under “James.” In Ezr. ii. 2 and 9 there is also mention
of “Brothers” of the High Priest Joshua, by which only the priests
subordinate to him seem to be meant; and in Justin (“Dial c. Tryph.,”
106) the apostles are collectively spoken of as “Brothers of
Jesus.” Similarly in Rev. xii. 17, those “who keep the word of God
and bear testimony to Jesus Christ” are spoken of as children of
the heavenly woman and also as Brothers and Sisters of the Divine
Redeemer, whom the dragon attempts to swallow up together with his
mother. As Revelation owes its origin to a pre-Christian Jesus-cult,
the designation of pious brothers of a community as physical brothers
of Jesus seems also to have been customary in that cult, antecedent
to the Pauline epistles and the Gospels.

[309] This is actually the view of the Dutch school of theologians.

[310] A. Kalthoff, “Was wissen wir von Jesus? Eine Abrechnung mit
Prof. D. Bousset,” 1904, 17.

[311] 1 Cor. vii. 10.

[312] Id. ix. 14.

[313] 1 Cor. xi. 23.

[314] Cf. Brandt, “Die evangel. Geschichte u. d. Ursprung
d. Christentums,” 1893, 296. Schlaeger also agrees with the Dutch
school, and produces telling arguments in favour of the view that
1 Cor. xi. 23-32 is an interpolation. “In our opinion,” he says,
“the opening words, ‘For I received of the Lord,’ betray the same
attempt as can be seen in vii. 10 and ix. 14–and probably the attempt
of one and the same interpolator–to trace back Church institutions
and regulations to the authority of the Lord, of the Kurios. In the
three cases in which the latter is mentioned he is called ‘the Lord,’
which is a fact well worthy of consideration in view of the usual
designation.” Schlaeger also shows that verse 32 is a very appropriate
conclusion to verse 22; while as they stand now the logical connection
is broken in a forcible manner by the interpolation of the account of
the Last Supper. Another proof of the interpolation of 23-32 is to be
found, Schlaeger thinks, in the fact that in verse 33 as in verse 22
the Corinthians are addressed in the second person, while in verses
31 and 32 the first person plural is used (op. cit., 41 sq.). In
view of these notorious facts we can hardly understand how German
theologians can with such decision adhere to the authenticity of the
passage, reproaching those who contest it with “faults in method.” As
against this view of theirs Schlaeger justly objects that “References to
words and events from the life of Jesus are so isolated in the Pauline
writings that we are entitled to and forced to raise the question as to
each such reference, whether it is not the reflection of a later age,
of an age which already placed confidence in the Gospel literature,
that brought Jesus’ authority into the text” (Schlaeger, op. cit.,
36). And the critical theologians are convinced that the writings
of the New Testament are worked over to a great extent, rectified to
accord with the Church, and in many places interpolated. But when some
one else brings this to publicity, and dares to doubt the authenticity
of a passage, they immediately raise a great outcry, and accuse him
of wilfully misrepresenting the text; as if there were even one single
such passage on which the views of critics are not divergent!

[315] M. Brueckner’s opinion also is “that the Pauline account of the
scene at the Last Supper is in all probability not a purely historical
one, but is a dogmatic representation of the festival.” And he adds:
“In any case just on account of its religious importance this scene
cannot be cited to prove Paul’s acquaintance with the details of
Jesus’ life” (“Die Entstehung der paulinischen Christologie,” 1903,
44). Cf. also Robertson, “Christianity and Mythology,” 388 sq.

[316] Holtzmann has, as a matter of fact, in an essay in the
“Christliche Welt” (No. 7, 1910) recently attempted to prove the
contrary, citing from Paul a number of moral exhortations, &c., which
are in accord with Jesus’ words in the Gospels. But in this argument
there is a presupposition, which should surely be previously proved,
that the Gospels received their corresponding content from Jesus and
not, on the contrary, from Paul’s epistles. It is admitted that they
were in many other respects influenced by Pauline ideas. Moreover,
all the moral maxims cited have their parallels in contemporary
Rabbinical literature, so that they need not necessarily be referred
back to an historical Jesus; also, such is their nature, that they
might be advanced by any one, i.e., they are mere ethical commonplaces
without any individual colouring. Thus we find the Rabbis in agreement
with Rom. xiii. 8 sq. and Gal. v. 14, which Holtzmann traces back
to Matt. vii. 12: “Bring not on thy neighbour that which displeases
thee; this is our whole doctrine.” Rom. xiii. 7 has its parallel
not only in Matt. xxii. 21, but also in the Talmud, which runs:
“Every one is bound to fulfil his obligations to God with the like
exactness as those to men. Give to God his due; for all that thou hast
is from him.” Rom. xii. 21 runs in the Sanhedrin: “It is better to
be persecuted than to persecute, better to be calumniated by another
than to slander.” So that the remark need not necessarily be based on
Matt. v. 39; in fact, the last-named passage is not found at all in
the standard MSS., in the Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. The phrase,
“to remove mountains” (1 Cor. xiii. 2). is a general Rabbinical one
for extolling the power of a teacher’s diction, and so could easily be
transferred to the power of faith. So also the phrase, Mark ix. 50,
“Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another”–which
Rom. xii. 18 is supposed to resemble–is a well-known Rabbinical
expression. Matt. v. 39 sq., which is supposed to accord with 1
Cor. vi. 7, runs in the Talmud: “If any one desires thy donkey, give
him also the saddle.” Matt. vii. 1-5, on which Rom. ii. 1 and xiv. 4
are supposed to be based, equally recalls the Talmud: “Who thinks
favourably of his neighbour brings it about that fair judgments are
also made of him.” “Let your judgment of your neighbour be completely
good.” “Even as one measures, with the same measure shall it also
be measured unto him.” Rom. xiv. 13 and 1 Cor. viii. 7-13 need not
necessarily be an allusion to Jesus’ tender consideration for those who
are ruined by scandal, as we find in the Talmud: “It would have been
better that the evil-minded had been born blind, so that they would not
have brought evil into the world” (cf. also Nork, “Rabbinische Quellen
und Parallelen zu neutestamentlichen Schriftstellen,” 1839). And
does Paul’s usual phrase of greeting, “from God our Father and the
Lord Jesus Christ,” really contain the avowal of the “Father-God”
preached by Christ? For the connection of the divine Son and bearer
of salvation with the “Father-God” is a general mythological formula
which occurs in all the different religions–witness the relation
between Marduk and Ea, Heracles and Zeus, Mithras and Ormuzd, Balder
and Odin. What then does it mean when Paul speaks of the “meekness
and humility of Christ,” who lived not for his own pleasure, who
made no fame for himself, but was “submissive,” assumed the form of
a servant, and was “obedient” to the will of his “father,” even to
the death of the cross? All these traits are reproduced directly from
the description of the suffering servant of God in Isaiah, which we
know had a great part in shaping the personality of Jesus. Meekness,
humility, charitableness, and obedience are the specific virtues of
the pious of Paul’s time. It was a matter of course for Christ also,
the ideal prototype of good and pious men, to be endowed with these
characteristics. Abraham was obedient when he sacrificed his son Isaac;
and so was the latter to his father, being also submissive in himself
bringing the wood to the altar and giving himself up willingly to
the sacrificial knife. And we know what a significant role the story
of Isaac’s sacrifice has always played in the religious ideas of the
Jews. Moreover, the heathen redeemer deities–Marduk, of the Mandaic
Hibil Ziwa, Mithras and Heracles–were also obedient in coming down
upon earth at the bidding of their heavenly father, burst the gates
of death, and gave themselves up, in the case of Mithras, even to be
sacrificed; and Heracles served mankind in the position of a servant,
fought with the monsters and horrors of hell, and assumed the hardest
tasks at the will of others.

[317] Kalthoff, “Die Entstehung d. Christentums,” 1904, 15.

[318] P. Wernle, “Die Quellen des Lebens Jesu,
Religionsgesch. Volksbuecher,” 2 Aufl., 4.

[319] Gunkel, op. cit., 93.

[320] Gunkel also takes the view “that before Jesus there was a belief
in Christ’s death and resurrection current in Jewish syncretic circles
(op. cit., 82). Now we have already seen (p. 57) that the term “Christ”
is of very similar significance to “Jesus.” So that it is not at all
necessary to believe, as Gunkel asserted in the Darmstadt discussion,
that Paul in speaking of “Jesus” testifies to an historical figure,
because Jesus is the name of a person. “Jesus Christ” is simply a
double expression for one and the same idea–that is, for the idea
of the Messiah, Saviour, Physician, and Redeemer; and it is not at
all improbable, as Smith supposes, that the contradictions in the
conception of the Messiah in two different sects or spheres of thought
found their settlement in the juxtaposition of the two names.

[321] “Not the teacher, not the miracle-worker, not the friend of
the publicans and sinners, not the opponent of the Pharisees, is of
importance for Paul. It is the crucified and risen Son of God alone”
(Wernle, op. cit., 5).

[322] “Indeed, the historical Jesus in the sense of the Ritschlian
school would have been for Paul an absurdity. The Pauline theology
has to do rather with the experiences of a heavenly being, which
have, and will yet have, extraordinary significance for humanity”
(M. Brueckner, “Die Entstehung der paulinischen Christologie,” 1903,
12). Brueckner also considers it settled “that Jesus’ life on earth
had no interest at all for Paul” (op. cit., 46). “Paul did not
trouble himself about Jesus’ life on earth, and what he may here
and there have learnt concerning it, with few exceptions, remained
indifferent to him” (42). Brueckner also shows that the passages which
are cited to contradict this prove nothing as to Paul’s more detailed
acquaintance with Jesus’ life on earth (41 sqq.). He claims “to have
given the historical demonstration” in his work “that the Christian
religion is at bottom independent of ‘uncertain historical truths'”
(Preface). And in spite of this he cannot as a theologian free himself
from the conception of an historical Jesus even with regard to Paul,
though he is, nevertheless, not in a position to show where and to what
extent the historical Jesus had a really decided influence over Paul.

[323] Movers, op. cit., 438 sqq.; Fraser, “Adonis, Attis, Osiris,”
42, 43, 47, 60, 79 sq.

[324] Cumont, “Textes et monuments,” &c., i. 240; Pfleiderer,
“Urchristentum,” i. 29 sqq.

[325] 1 Cor. x. 16.

[326] Pfleiderer, op. cit., 45.

[327] xi. 19 sqq.

[328] Smith, op. cit., 21 sq.

[329] Cf. Zimmern, “Zum Streit um die Christusmythe,” 23.

[330] “I am the A and the O, the beginning and the end,” the Revelation
of John makes the Messiah say (i. 8.). Is there not at the same time
in this a concealed reference to Adonis? The Alpha and the Omega, the
first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, form together the name of
Adonis–Ao (Aoos) as the old Dorians called the God, whence Cilicia
is also called Aoa. A son of Adonis and Aphrodite (Maia) is said
(“Schol. Theocr.,” 15, 100) to have been called Golgos. His name is
connected with the phallic cones (Greek, golgoi), as they were erected
on heights in honour of the mother divinities of Western Asia, who were
themselves, probably on this account, called Golgoi and golgon anassa
(Queens of the Golgoi), and is the same as the Hebraic plural Golgotha
(Sepp, “Heidentum,” i. 157 sq.). Finally, was the “place of skulls”
an old Jebusite place of worship of Adonis under the name of Golgos,
and was the cone of rock, on which statue of Venus was erected in the
time of Hadrian, selected for the place of execution of the Christian
Saviour because it was connected with the remembrance of the real
sacrifice of a man in the role of Adonis (Tammuz)?

[331] Deut. xxi. 23.

[332] We notice that already in these distinctions the germs of those
endless and absurd disputes concerning the “nature” of the God-man lie
concealed, which later, in the first century A.D., tore Christendom
into countless sects and “heresies,” and which gave the occasion for
the rise of the Christian dogma.

[333] Rom. i. 3.

[334] Rom. viii. 3; 2 Cor. viii. 9; Phil. ii. 7 sq.

[335] Gal. iii. 10 sqq.; Rom. iii. 9.

[336] Rom. iii. 20, iv. 15, v. 20, vii., sqq.

[337] Gal. iii. 19 sqq.

[338] Rom. vi. 9 sq.

[339] Id. v. 14.

[340] Rom. iv. 3 sqq.

[341] Rom. vi. 3 sqq.

[342] Gal. iii. 27.

[343] Cf. above, p. 137.

[344] 1 Cor. x. 16 sqq., xi. 23-27.

[345] 1 Cor. x. 3 sqq., 16-21.

[346] Cf., e.g., Pfleiderer, op. cit., 333.

[347] Cf. above, p. 49 sqq.

[348] Plato, “Symposium,” c. 22.

[349] Col. ii. 9.

[350] Op. cit., 80.

[351] Cf. my work, “Plotin und der Untergang der antiken
Weltanschauung,” 1907.

[352] Gal. ii. 20; Rom. viii. 4, 26.

[353] Id. viii. 14 sqq.

[354] 2 Cor. iii. 17.

[355] Gal. v. 26.

[356] 1 Cor. ii. 9, 14; Rom. xii. 2.

[357] Op. cit., 86.

[358] Wrede, Id.

[359] Id.

[360] Op. cit., 94.

[361] Wrede, op. cit., 85.

[362] 1 Cor. xv. 17.

[363] Cf. as to the whole question my essay on “Paulus u. Jesus”
(“Das Freie Wort” of December, 1909).

[364] It is true that other theologians think differently on this
point, as, e.g., Feine in his book, “Jesus Christus und Paulus”
(1902), declares that Paul had “interested himself very much in
gaining a distinct and comprehensive picture of Jesus’ activity and
personality” (!) (229).

[365] Kalthoff has in his writings laid especial stress on this social
significance of Christianity. Cf. also Steudel, “Das Christentum und
die Zukunft des Protestantismus” (“Deutsche Wiedergeburt,” iv., 1909,
26 sq.), and Kautsky, “Der Ursprung des Christentums,” 1908.

[366] xl. 26.

[367] In the same way Vollers also, in his work on “Die Weltreligionen”
(1907), seeks to explain the faith of the original Christian sects
in Jesus’ death and resurrection as a blend of the Adonis (Attis)
and Christ faiths. He regards this as the essence of that faith,
that the existing views of the Messiah and the Resurrection were
transferred to one and the same person; and shows from this of what
great importance it must be that this faith met a well-prepared
ground, in North Syria, Anatolia, and Egypt, where it naturally
spread. But he treats the Jewish Diaspora of these lands as the
natural mediator of the new preaching or “message of Salvation”
(Gospel), and finds a proof of his view in this, “that the sphere of
the greatest density of the Diaspora almost completely coincides with
those lands where the growing and rising youthful God was honoured,
and that these same districts are also the places in which we meet,
only a generation after Jesus’ death, the most numerous, flourishing,
and fruitful communities of the new form of belief.” It is the Eastern
Mediterranean or Levantine horse-shoe shaped line which stretches
from Ephesus and Bithynia through Anatolia to Tarsus and Antioch,
thence through Syria and Palestine by way of the cult-centres Bubastes
and Sais to Alexandria. Almost directly in the middle of these lands
lies Aphaka, where was the chief sanctuary of the “Lord” Adonis,
and a little south of this spot lies the country where the Saviour
of the Gospels was born (op. cit., 152).

[368] Cf. O. Pfleiderer, “Die Entstehung des Christentums,” 1905,
109 sqq.

[369] Luke xxiv. 33, xlix. 52; Acts i. 4, 8, 12 sqq.

[370] “Religionsgesch. Erklaerung d. N.T.,” 261. Cf. also Joel iii. 1
and Isa. xxviii. 11, and the Buddhist account of the first sermon of
Buddha: “Gods and men streamed up to him, and all listened breathlessly
to the words of the teacher. Each of the countless listeners believed
that the wise man looked at him and spoke to him in his own language;
though it was the dialect of Magadha which he spoke.” Seydel,
“Evangelium von Jesus,” 248; “Buddha-Legende,” 92 sq.

[371] Stephen’s so-called “martyrdom,” whose feast falls on December
26th, the day after the birth of Christ, owes its existence to
astrology, and rests on the constellation of Corona (Gr., Stephanos),
which becomes visible at this time on the eastern horizon (Dupuis,
op. cit., 267). Hence the well-known phrase “to inherit the martyr’s
crown.” Even the theologian Baur has found it strange that the Jewish
Sanhedrin, which could not carry into effect any death sentence without
the assent of the Roman governor, should completely set aside this
formality in the case of Stephen; and he has clearly shown how the
whole account of Stephen’s martyrdom is paralleled with Christ’s death
(Baur, “Paulus,” 25 sqq.).

[372] Smith, op. cit., 23-31.

[373] Frazer, “Golden Bough,” iii. 197.

[374] Smith, op. cit., 30 sq.

[375] As to the small value of Papias’ statement, cf. Gfroerer, “Die
heilige Sage,” 1838, i. 3-23; also Luetzelberger, “Die kirchl. Tradition
ueber den Apostel Johannes,” 76-93. The whole story, according to
which Mark received the essential content of the Gospel named after
him from Peter, is based on 1 Peter v. 13, and merely serves the
purpose of increasing the historical value of the Gospel of Mark. “As
the first Gospel was believed to be the work of the Apostle Matthew,
and the second (Luke) the work of an assistant of Paul, it was very
easy to ascribe to the third (Mark) at least a similar origin as
the second, i.e., to trace it back in an analogous way to Peter;
as it would have seemed natural for the chief of the apostles,
longest dead, to have had his own Gospel, one dedicated to him,
as well as Paul. The passage 1 Peter v. 13, “My son Mark saluteth
you,” gave a suitable opportunity for bestowing a name on the book,”
(Gfroerer, op. cit., 15; cf. also Brandt, “Die evangelische Geschichte
u. d. Ursprung des Christentums,” 1893, 535 sq.)

[376] Op. cit., 58.

[377] xv. 39.

[378] 60.

[379] Id.

[380] The proper explanation for this should lie in the fact that
the Jesus-faith was set up as a sect-faith and not for “outsiders.”

[381] 63 sqq.

[382] 68.

[383] 70.

[384] 3.

[385] It strikes the reader, who stands apart from the controversy, as
comical to find the matter characterised in the theological works on
the subject as “undoubtedly historical,” “distinct historical fact,”
“true account of history,” and so forth; and to consider that what
holds for one as “historically certain” is set aside by another as
“quite certainly unhistorical.” Where is the famous “method” of which
the “critical” theologians are so proud in opposition to the “laity,”
who allow themselves to form judgments as to the historical worth or
worthlessness of the Gospels?

[386] Wrede, op. cit., 91.

[387] 104.

[388] 129.

[389] 131.

[390] 148.

[391] 148.

[392] Cf. Pfleiderer, “Entstehung des Christentums,” 207, 213. All
estimates as to the time at which the Gospels were produced rest
entirely on suppositions, in which points of view quite different
from that of purely historical interest generally predominate. Thus
it has been the custom on the Catholic side to pronounce, not Mark
or Luke, but Matthew, to be the oldest source. “Proofs” for this
are also given–naturally, as it is indeed the “Church” Gospel: it
contains the famous passage (xvi. 18, 19) about Peter’s possession of
the keys; how, then, should this not be the oldest? And lately Harnack
(“Beitraege zur Einl. in das N.T.,” iii., “Die Apostelgeschichte,” 1908)
has tried to prove that the Acts, with the Gospel of Luke, had been
already produced in the early part of the year 60 A.D. But he does
not dare to come to a real decision; and his reasons are opposed by
just as weighty ones which are against that “possibility” suggested
by him (op. cit., 219 sqq.). Such is, first, the fact that all the
other early Christian writings which belong to the first century,
as the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas, evidently know
nothing of them. In the Epistle of Barnabas, written about 96 A.D.,
we read that Jesus chose as his own apostles, as men who were to
proclaim his Gospel, “of all men the most evil, to show that he had
come to call, not the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (iv.). As
to this Luetzelberger very justly remarks, “That is more even than our
Gospels say. For these are content to prove that Jesus did not come for
the righteous by saying that he ate with publicans and was anointed
by women of evil life; while in this Epistle even the Apostles must
be most wicked sinners, so that grace may shine forth to them. This
passage was quite certainly written neither by an Apostle nor by a
pupil of an Apostle; and also it was not written after our Gospels,
but at a time when the learned Masters of the Church had still a
free hand to show their spirit and ingenuity in giving form to the
evangelical story” (“Die hist. Tradition,” 236 sq.). But also the
so-called Epistle of Clement, which must have been written at about
the same time, is completely silent as to the Gospels, while the
“Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles,” which perhaps also belongs to the
end of the first century, cites Christ’s words, such as stand in the
Gospels, but not as sayings of Jesus. Moreover, according to Harnack,
the “Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles” is the Christian elaboration
of an early Jewish document; whence we may conclude that its Words
of Christ have a similar origin in Jewish thought to that from which
the Gospels obtained them. (Cf. Luetzelberger, op. cit., 259-271.)

[393] 81.

[394] 71.

[395] 81 sq.

[396] Id.

[397] The laity has, as is well known, but a slight suspicion of
this. So S. E. Verus’ “Vergleichende Uebersicht der vier Evangelien”
(1897), with the commentary, is to be recommended.

[398] 83.

[399] 83.

[400] 85 sq.

[401] “Jesus u. d. neutestamentl. Schriftsteller,” ii. 43. Let us
take the final paragraph in E. Petersen’s “Die wunderbare Geburt des
Heilandes,” which reaches the zenith in proving the mythical nature
of the evangelical account of the Saviour’s birth: “If, not because
we wish it, but because we are forced to do so by the necessity
of History, we remove the sentence, ‘Conceived of the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary’–Jesus nevertheless remains the ‘Son of
God.’ He remains such because he experienced God as his father, and
because he stands at God’s side for us. Also, in spite of our setting
aside the miraculous birth as unhistorical, we are quite justified in
declaring ‘Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.'” M. Brueckner
speaks similarly at the close of his otherwise excellent work. “Der
sterbende und auferstehende Gottheiland.” For the person to whom such
phraseology is not–futile, there is no help.

[402] Cf. “Jesus Christus,” a course of lectures delivered at the
University of Freiburg i. B., 1908.

[403] Schaefer, “Die Evangelien und die Evangelienkritik,” 1908,
123. The story of the Church’s development in the first century is
a story of shameless literary falsifications, of rough violence in
matters of faith, of unlimited trial of the credence of the masses. So
that for those who know history the iteration of the “credibility”
of the Christian writers of the age raises at most but an ironical
smile. Cf. Robertson, “History of Christianity,” 1910.

[404] Cf. Hochart, “Etudes au sujet de la persecution des Chretiens
sous Neron,” 1885, cp. 4.

[405] A. Kalthoff, “Das Christusproblem, Grundzuege zu einer
Sozialtheologie,” 1902, 14 sq.

[406] Kalthoff, “Die Entstehung des Christentums: Neue Beitraege zum
Christusproblem,” 1904, 8.

[407] If v. Soden (“Hat Jesus gelebt?” vii. 45) has proved wrong the
comparison with the Tell-legend, and thinks I have “probably once more”
forgotten that Schiller first transformed a very meagre legend, which
was bound up in a single incident, from grey antiquity into a living
picture, he can know neither Tschudi nor J. v. Mueller. Cf. Hertslet,
“Der Treppenwitz der Weltgeschichte,” 6 Aufl., 1905, 216 sqq.

[408] The passage runs: “At this time lived Jesus, a wise man,
if he may be called a man, for he accomplished miracles and was a
teacher of men who joyously embrace the truth, and he found a great
following among Jews and Greeks. This one was the Christ. Although at
the accusation of the leading men of our people Pilate sentenced him to
the cross, those who had first loved him remained still faithful. For
he appeared again to them on the third day, risen again to a new life,
as the prophets of God had foretold of him, with a thousand other
prophecies. After him are called the Christians, whose sect has not
come to an end.”

[409] “Einl. ins N.T.,” 1836, 581.

[410] “Gesch. d. jued. Volkes,” i. 548.

[411] Origen, though he collected all Josephus’ assertions which
could serve as support to the Christian religion, does not know
the passage, but probably another, in which the destruction of
Jerusalem was represented as a punishment for James’ execution,
which is certainly a forgery.

[412] Cf. Kalthoff, “Entstehung d. Chr.,” 16 sq. As to the whole
matter, Schuerer, op. cit., 544-549.

[413] V. Soden proves the contrary in his work, “Hat Jesus
gelebt?” (1910), “in order to show the reliability of Drew’s
assertions,” from Clement’s letter of 96 A.D., from Dionysius of
Corinth (about 170) from Tertullion and Eusebius (early fourth century,
not third, as v. Soden writes); and wishes to persuade his readers
that the persecution under Nero is testified to. The authenticity
of the letter of Clement is, however, quite uncertain, and has been
most actively combated, from its first publication in 1633 till
the present day, by investigators of repute, such as Semler, Baur,
Schwegler, Volkmar, Keim, &c. But as for the above-cited authors,
the unimportance of their assertions on the point is so strikingly
exhibited by Hochart that we have no right to call them up as witnesses
for the authenticity of the passage of Tacitus.

[414] Cf. Hochart, op. cit., 280 sqq.; H. Schiller,
“Gesch. d. roem. Kaiserzeit,” 447, note.

[415] “Consulting the archives has been but little customary
among ancient historians; and Tacitus has bestowed but little
consideration on the Acta Diurna and the protocols of the Senate”
(“Handb. d. klass. Altertumsw.,” viii., 2 Abt., Aft. 2, under
“Tacitus”). Moreover, the difficulties of the passage from Tacitus have
been fully realised by German historians (H. Schiller, op. cit., 449;
“De. Gesch. d. roem. Kaiserreiches unter der Regierung des Nero,” 1872,
434 sqq., 583 sq.), even if they do not generally go as far as to say
that the passage is completely unauthentic, as Volney did at the end
of the eighteenth century (“Ruinen,” Reclam, 276). Cf. also Arnold,
“Die neronische Christenverfolgung. Eine historiche Untersuchung zur
Geschichte d. aeltesten Kirche,” 1888. The author does indeed adhere
to the authenticity of the passage in Tacitus, but as a matter of
fact he presupposes it rather than attempts to prove it; while in
many isolated reflections he gives an opinion against the correctness
of the account given by Tacitus, and busies himself principally in
disproving false inferences connected with that passage, such as the
connection of the Neronic persecution with the Book of Revelation. The
conceivable possibility that the persecution actually took place,
but that at all events the sentence of Tacitus may be a Christian
interpolation, Arnold seems never to have considered.

[416] Op. cit., 227.

[417] Kalthoff, “Christusproblem,” 17.

[418] Weinel, “Jesus im 19 Jahrhundert,” 1907, 68.

[419] “Babylonisches im Neuen Testament,” 109 sq.

[420] “Zerduscht Nameh,” ch. xxvi.

[421] Gfroerer, “Jahrhundert des Heils,” Part II., 380 sqq.

[422] Luke iii. 23.

[423] Numb. iv. 3.

[424] Matt. xxi. 12 sqq.

[425] Zech. xiv. 21 runs in the Targum translation: “Every vessel
in Jerusalem will be consecrated to the Lord, &c., and at that time
there will no longer be shopkeepers in the House of the Lord.” In
this there may have been a further inducement for the Evangelists to
state that Jesus chases the tradesmen from the Temple.

[426] 2 Sam. xvii. 23; cf. also Zech. xi. 12 sq.; Psa. xli. 10.

[427] Gfroerer, “Jahr. d. Heils,” ii. 318 sqq.

[428] Cf. 1 Cor. x. 1 sq.

[429] 2 Kings iv. 19 sqq.

[430] Numb. i. 44; Jos. iii. 12; iv. 1 sqq. Cf. “Petrus-legende,”
51 sq.

[431] Cf. p. 127, note.

[432] Josephus, “Antiq.,” iv. 8, 48; Philo, “Vita Mos.,” iii.

[433] 2 Kings ii. 11.

[434] E.g. also the account of the arrest of Jesus (Matt. xxvi. 51
sqq.) cf. 2 Kings vi. 10-22.

[435] Matt. ix. 11 sq., xii. 8 sq., xv. 1 sqq., 11 and 20, xxviii. 18.

[436] Psa. cxlvi. 7.

[437] Bereshith Rabba zu Gen. xli. 1.

[438] Cf. esp. Acts xi. 2 sqq.

[439] Matt. v. 17 sqq.

[440] Id. viii. 11 sqq., x. 5, xxiii. 34 sqq., xxviii. 19 sqq.

[441] Cf. Luetzelberger, “Jesus, was er war und wollte,” 1842, 16 sqq.

[442] Cf. above, 59 sqq.

[443] It is given as a reason for his appearing first in Galilee
that the Galileans were first led into exile, and so should first
be comforted, as all divine action conforms to the law of requital
(Gfroerer, “Jahr. d. Heils,” 230 sq. Cf. also Isa. viii. 23).

[444] Cf. above, 173 sq.

[445] See above, 171.

[446] Exod. xvi. 17 sqq.; Numb. xxi. 1 sqq.; Exod. vii. 17 sqq. 1
Kings xvii. 5 sqq.

[447] “Hist.,” iv. 81.

[448] “Vespasian,” vii.

[449] lxvi. 8.

[450] Isa. 1. 6 sq.

[451] Zech. xii 10.

[452] Cf. “Petruslegende,” 24.

[453] Gen. xxvi. 6; cf. also Tertullian, “Adv. Jud.,” 10.

[454] Cf. for this Brandt, “Die Evangelische Geschichte,” esp. 53
sqq. Even such a cautious investigator as Gfroerer confesses that,
after his searching examination of the historical content of the
Synoptics, he is obliged to close “with the sad admission” that their
testimony does not give sufficient assurance to enable us to pronounce
anything they contain to be true, so far as they are concerned, with a
good historical conscience. “In this it is by no means asserted that
many may not think their views correct, but only that we cannot rely
on them sufficiently to rest a technically correct proof on them
alone. They tell us too many things which are purely legendary,
and too many others which are at least suspicious, for a prudent
historian to feel justified in a construction based on their word
alone. This admission may be disagreeable–it is also unpleasant to
me–but it is genuine, and it is demanded by the rules which hold
everywhere before a good tribunal, and in the sphere of history”
(“Die hl. Sage,” 1838, ii. 243).

[455] This is the case with the corresponding account in Mark,
while in Luke the dramatic presentation seems to be more worked
away, and the coherence, through the introduction of descriptions
and episodes (disciples at Emmaus) bears more the character of
a simple narrative. Cf. Robertson, “Pagan Christs,” 186 sqq.; “A
Short History,” 87 sqq. The fact that in almost all representations
of this kind both the scene at Gethsemane and the words spoken by
Jesus usually serve as signs of his personality (e.g. also Bousset’s
“Jesus”–Rel. Volksb., 1904, 56), shows what we must think of the
historical value of the accounts of the life of Jesus; especially when
we consider that certainly no listeners were there, and Jesus cannot
himself have told his experience to his disciples, as the arrest is
supposed to have taken place on the spot.

[456] “Messiasgeheimnis,” 143.

[457] Gen. xxiv.

[458] E. v. Hartmann, “Das Christentum des Neuen Testaments,” 1905, 22.

[459] Op. cit.

[460] Cf. H. Jordan, “Jesus und die modernen Jesusbilder, Bibl. Zeit-
u. Streitfragen,” 1909, 38.

[461] Mark vi. 1 sq.

[462] Mark xiii. 32.

[463] Mark iii. 20.

[464] 1 Kings xix.; cf. also Isa. xlii. 4.

[465] Cf. Brandt, op. cit., 553 sq.

[466] Hertlein treats of these Bases of Schmiedel in the
“Prot. Monatsheften,” 1906, 386 sq.; cf. also Schmiedel’s reply.

[467] Op. cit., 141.

[468] Bousset agrees with this in his work “Was wissen wir von
Jesus?” (1901). “Jesus’ speeches are for the most part creations of
the communities, placed together by the community from isolated words
of Jesus.” “In this, apart from all the rest, there was a powerful
and decided alteration of the speeches” (47 sqq.).

[469] Cf. Robertson, “Christianity and Mythology,” 424 sqq., 429.

[470] Op. cit., 43.

[471] “Protest. Monatshefte,” 1903, Maerzheft.

[472] Op. cit., 161 sq.

[473] Matt. xviii. 15 sqq.

[474] Id. xxix. 3 sqq.

[475] Cf. Pfleiderer, “Urchristentum,” i. 447 sq.; van den Bergh van
Eysinga, op. cit., 57 sqq.

[476] Smith, op. cit., 107 sqq.

[477] Cf. Nork, “Rabbinische Quellen und Parallelen zu
neutestamentlichen Schriftstellen,” 1839.

[478] Cf. Robertson, “Christianity and Mythology,” 440-457.

[479] Cf. v. Hartmann, op. cit., 131-143. It will always be a telling
argument against the historical nature of the sayings of Jesus that
Paul seems to know nothing of them, that he never refers to them
exactly; and that even up to the beginning of the second century,
with the exception of a few remarks in Clement and Polycarp, the
Apostles and Fathers in all their admonitions, consolations, and
reprimands, never make use of Jesus’ sayings to give greater force
to their own words.

[480] V. Hartmann, op. cit., 44 sq.

[481] Let us hear what Clemen says against this: “In its reduction of
the Law to the Commandment of love, though this was already prominent
in the Old Testament [!] and even earlier had here and there [!] been
characterised as the chief Commandment, Christianity is completely
original [!]. And for Jesus the subordination of religious duties
to moral was consequent on this, though in this respect he would
have been equally influenced by the prophets of the Old Testament”
(op. cit., 135 sq.).

[482] “We must (as regards the moral ideals of Jesus) pay just as
much attention to what he does not treat of, to what he set aside,
as to what he clung to, indeed, setting it in opposition to all the
rest. At least this wonderfully sure selection is Jesus’ own. We may
produce analogies for each individual thing, but the whole is unique
and cannot be invented” (v. Soden, op. cit., 51 sq.). This method,
practised by liberal theology, of extolling their Jesus as against all
other mortals, and of raising him up to a “uniqueness” in the absolute
sense, can make indeed but a small impression on the impartial.

[483] Wrede, “Paulus,” 91.

[484] We admit that besides the eschatological grounding of his
moral demands, Jesus also makes use occasionally of expressions that
pass beyond the idea of reward. But they are quite isolated–as,
e.g., Matt. v. 48, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is
perfect,” a phrase which is, moreover, in accord with Lev. xi. 44
and xix. 3–and without any fundamental significance. In general,
and in particular even in the Sermon on the Mount, that “Diamond in
the Crown of Jesus’ ethics,” the idea of reward and punishment is
prevalent (Matt. v. 12 and 46; vi. 1, 4, 6, 14, 18; v. 20; vi. 15;
vii. 1, &c.). Views may still differ widely as to whether it is
historically correct to estimate, as Weinel would like to, Jesus’
ethics in this connection really by the few sayings which go beyond
that idea. (Cf. v. Hartmann, op. cit., 116-124.) The favourite
declaration, however, is quite unhistorical, that Jesus was the
first who introduced into the world the principle of active love;
and that the Stoics, as Weinel represents, only taught the doing away
with all our passions, even that of love; or indeed that Jesus, who
wished salvation only to benefit the Jews, who forbade his people
to walk in the ways of the Gentiles, and who hesitated to comply
with the Canaanite woman’s prayer, “raised to the highest degree of
sincerity” the “altruistic ideal,” and that in principle he broke down
the boundaries between peoples and creeds with his “Love thy enemy,”
(Weinel, op. cit., 55, 57). As against this cf. the following passage
from Seneca: “Everything which we must do and avoid may be reduced to
this short formula of human obligation: We are members of a mighty
body. Nature has made us kindred, having produced us from the same
stuff and for the same ends. She has implanted in us a mutual love,
and has arranged it socially. She has founded right and equity. Because
of her commands to do evil is worse than to suffer evil. Hands ready
to aid are raised at her call. Let that verse be in our mouths and our
hearts: I am a man, nothing human do I despise! Human life consists
in well-doing and striving. It will be cemented into a society of
general aid not by fear but by mutual love. What is the rightly
constituted, good and high-minded soul, but a God living as a guest
in a human body? Such a soul may appear just as well in a knight as
in a freedman or in a slave. We can soar upwards to heaven from any
corner. Make this your rule, to treat the lower classes even as you
would wish the higher to treat you. Even if we are slaves, we may yet
be free in spirit. The slaves are men, inferior relatives, friends;
indeed, our fellow-slaves in a like submission to the tyranny of
fate. A friendship based on virtue exists between the good man and
God, yes, more than a friendship, a kinship and likeness; for the
good man is really his pupil, imitator, and scion, differing from
God only because of the continuance of time. Him the majestic father
brings up, a little severely, as is the strict father’s wont. God
cherishes a fatherly affection towards the good man, and loves him
dearly. If you wish to imitate the gods, give also to the ungrateful;
for the sun rises even on the ungodly and the seas lie open even to the
pirate, the wind blows not only in favour of the good, and the rain
falls even on the fields of the unjust. If you wish to have the gods
well-disposed towards you, be good: he has enough, who honours and who
imitates them.” Cf. also Epictetus: “Dare, raising your eyes to God,
to say, Henceforth make use of me to what end thou wilt! I assent,
I am thine, I draw back from nothing which thy will intends. Lead
me whithersoever thou wilt! For I hold God’s will to be better than
mine.” (Cf. also Matt. xxvi. 39.)

[485] Kautsky, “Ursprung des Christentums,” 17.

[486] Op. cit., 3.

[487] “How is it conceivable,” even Pfleiderer asks, “that the new
community should have fashioned itself from the chaos of material
without some definite fact, some foundation-giving event which could
form the nucleus for the genesis of the new ideas? Everywhere in the
case of a new historical development the powers and impulses which are
present in the crowd are first directed to a definite end and fastened
into an organism that can survive by the purpose-giving action of
heroic personalities. And so the impulse for the formation of the
Christian community must have come from some definite point, which,
from the testimony of the Apostle Paul and of the earliest Gospels, we
can only find in the life and death of Jesus” (“Entstehung des Chr.,”
11). But that the “testimony” for an historical Jesus is not testimony,
and that the “definite fact,” the “foundation-giving event,” is to
be looked for, if anywhere, in Paul himself and nowhere else–such
is the central point of all this analysis.

[488] Op. cit., 61 sq.

[489] “Von Reimarus bis Wrede,” 396.

[490] ii. 44.

[491] “Gesch. Israels,” ii. 1 sqq.

[492] Holtzmann, “Zum Thema ‘Jesus und Paulus'” (“Prot. Monatsheft,”
iv., 1900, 465).

[493] Parerga, ii. 180.

[494] Neutest. Theol. ii. 4. Cf. R. H. Gruetzmacher: “Ist das liberale
Christusbild modern? Bibl. Zeit- und Streitfragen,” 39 sq.

[495] Pfleiderer, “Entstehung d. Chr.,” 108 sqq.

[496] Cf. Stendel, op. cit., 22.

[497] “Von Reimarus bis Wrede,” 313.

[498] Gal. i. 24.

[499] 1 Cor. ii. 1; 2 Cor. xix. 9.

[500] Acts i. 3, x. 41.

[501] Acts i. 21 sq.

[502] Seufert, “Der Ursprung und die Bedeutung des Apostolates in der
christlichen Kirche der ersten Jahrhunderte,” 1887, 143. Cf. also my
“Petruslegende,” in which the unhistorical nature of the disciples
and apostles is shown, 50 sqq.

[503] Op. cit., 42.

[504] Cf. my work “Die Petruslegende.”

[505] Cf. Hausrath, “Jesus und die neutestamentl. Schriftsteller,”
ii. 203 sqq.

[506] “Entstehung d. Chr.,” 239.

[507] Cf. above, p. 31. sqq.

[508] Cf. Arnold Meyer, “Was uns Jesus heute ist. Rel. Volksb.,”
1907–a very impressive presentation of the liberal Protestant point
of view; also Weinel, “Jesus im 19ten Jahrhundert.”

[509] “Entstehung d. Chr.,” 98 sq.

[510] Weinel, indeed, resolutely denies that this is a real
characteristic of liberal Protestantism, and asserts that he has
looked for it in vain in any liberal theologian’s book. But he need
only look in A. Meyer’s work, which is cited by me, to find my idea
confirmed. There it is said of Jesus inter alia: “Not only should we
move and live in his love, but we are as he was, of the faith that
this love will overcome the world, that it is the meaning, end,
and true content of the world; that the power which uniformly and
omnipotently fills and guides the world, is nothing but the God in
whom he believed [was Jesus then a Pantheist?], and whom he calls
his heavenly father. As he believed, so let us also, that whoever
trusts in this God and lives in his love has found the meaning of
life and the power which preserves him in time and in eternity. Jesus
was the founder of our religion, of our faith, and of our inner
life” (31). According to Meyer, Jesus attracts us by his manner,
his Being, his love and his faith, we feel ourselves bound to him,
become kin with him and so live by his strength; he is called “the
voice of God to us,” “our redeemer,” and so forth. Those are simply
expressions which applied to God have at least a valid meaning,
but applied to the historical man Jesus are nothing but phrases,
and are to be explained purely psychologically from the fact that
liberalism in honouring the “unique” man Jesus does nevertheless
unwittingly allow the belief in his divinity to come into play. In
this atmosphere, obscured with phrases, the so-called “theology”
of liberal Protestantism moves. Moreover, Weinel himself quotes a
sentence of Herrmann with approval, which also gives expression
to the idea that Jesus is for Protestant liberalism a kind of
“demonstration of God” (80), and he adds himself: “It may indeed
be that our conception of the significance of Jesus has often been
expressed unskilfully enough. It may be that in discourses, lectures,
or other popular ways of speaking something is at times said which
may be so clumsily put as to give occasion for such things to be
said.” Indeed, he himself maintains regarding Jesus: “Whoever places
the ideal of his life in him, he experiences God in him” (84). He
also finds that the desire for God of the Jews, Greeks, Semites,
and Germans “could be stilled in him.” Taking into account these
expressions and the whole tone which it pleases Herr Weinel to adopt
towards the opponents of his standpoint, it appears time to remind him
once again of E. v. Hartmann’s “Die Selbstzersetzung des Christentums”
(it is obvious he has only a third-hand acquaintance with the author
whose point of view he calls Neo-Buddhism, counting him among the
supporters of the morality of pity!) and especially of the chapter on
“Die Irreligiositaet des liberalen Protestantismus.” Here, in connection
with the lack of metaphysics displayed by liberal Protestantism (and
admitted even by Weinel) and the latter’s principle of love, he says:
“If we transform the whole of religion into Ethics and soften down the
whole of Ethics into love, we thereby renounce everything that is in
religion besides love, and everything which makes love religious. We
thereby confess that the impulse of love is raised into religion
since religion properly so called has been lost. It is true religion
is not a shark, as the inquisitors thought, but at the same time it is
not a sea-nettle. A shark can at least be terrifying, a sea-nettle is
always feeble.” Liberal Protestantism, as Hartmann sums it up, consists
“of a shapeless, poor, shallow metaphysic, which is concealed as far
as possible from critical eyes; of a worship successfully freed from
all mystery, but one that has become thereby by no means incapable of
being objected to; of an Ethics forcibly separated from Metaphysics
and on that account irreligious. It rests upon a view of the world
which by its worldliness and optimistic contentment with the world
is by no means in a position to give birth to a religion, and which
sooner or later will allow the remnants of religious feeling which
it brought with it to be smothered in worldly ease.”

[511] Op. cit., 39.

[512] Cf. E. v. Hartmann, “Die Selbstzersetzung des Christentums und
die Religion der Zukunft,” 2nd ed., 1874, especially chaps. vi. and

[513] Cf. W. v. Schnehen, “Der moderne Jesuskultus,” 2nd ed., 1906;
also “Naumann vor dem Bankerott des Christentums,” 1907.

[514] Cf. my work, “Die Religion als Selbstbewusstsein Gottes,” 1906,
199 sq.

[515] Cf. my work, “Die Religion als Selbstbewusstsein Gottes,” in
which the attempt has been made to form a general religious view of
the world in the sense mentioned.

[516] Cf. “Der Monismus, dargestellt in Beitraegen seiner Vertreter,”
2 vols., 1908.

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