11. Be that as it may, it may at least be regarded as certain that the Pseudo-Clementines contribute absolutely nothing to our knowledge of the origin of the Catholic Church and doctrine, as they shew at best in their immediate sources a Jewish Christianity strongly influenced by Catholicism and Hellenism.
12. They must be used with great caution even in seeking to determine the tendencies and inner history of syncretistic Jewish Christianity. It cannot be made out with certainty, how far back the first sources of the Pseudo-Clementines date, or what their original form and tendency were. As to the first point, it has indeed been said that Justin, nay, even the author of the Acts of the Apostles, presupposes them, and that the Catholic tradition of Peter, in Rome, and of Simon Magus, are dependent on them (as is still held by Lipsius); but there is so little proof of this adduced, that in Christian literature up to the end of the second century (Hegesippus?) we can only discover very uncertain traces of acquaintance with Jewish Christian historical narrative. Such indications can only be found, to any considerable extent, in the third century, and I do not mean to deny that the contents of the Jewish Christian histories of the Apostles contributed materially to the formation of the ecclesiastical legends about Peter. As is shewn in the Pseudo-Clementines, these histories of the Apostles especially opposed Simon Magus and his adherents (the new Samaritan attempt at a universal religion), and placed the authority of the Apostle Peter against them. But they also opposed the Apostle Paul, and seem to have transferred Simonian features to Paul, and Pauline features to Simon. Yet it is also possible that the Pauline traits found in the magician were the outcome of the redaction, in so far as the whole polemic against Paul is here struck out, though certain parts of it have been woven into the polemic against Simon. But probably the Pauline features of the magician are merely an appearance. The Pseudo-Clementines may, to some extent, be used, though with caution, in determining the doctrines of syncretistic Jewish Christianity. In connection with this we must take what Epiphanius says as our standard. The Pantheistic and Stoic elements which are found here and there must of course be eliminated. But the theory of the genesis of the world from a change in God himself (that is from a [Greek: probole]), the assumption that all things emanated from God in antitheses (Son of God—Devil; heaven—earth; male—female; male and female prophecy), nay, that these antitheses are found in God himself (goodness, to which corresponds the Son of God—punitive justice, to which corresponds the Devil), the speculations about the elements which have proceeded from the one substance, the ignoring of freedom in the question about the origin of evil, the strict adherence to the unity and absolute causality of God, in spite of the dualism, and in spite of the lofty predicates applied to the Son of God—all this plainly bears the Semitic-Jewish stamp.
We must here content ourselves with these indications. They were meant to set forth briefly the reasons which forbid our assigning to syncretistic Jewish Christianity, on the basis of the Pseudo- Clementines, a place in the history of the genesis of the Catholic Church and its doctrine.
Bigg, The Clementine Homilies (Studia Biblica et Eccles. II. p. 157 ff.), has propounded the hypothesis that the Homilies are an Ebionitic revision of an older Catholic original (see p. 1841: "The Homilies as we have it, is a recast of an orthodox work by a highly unorthodox editor." P. 175: "The Homilies are surely the work of a Catholic convert to Ebionitism, who thought he saw in the doctrine of the two powers the only tenable answer to Gnosticism. We can separate his Catholicism from his Ebionitism, just as surely as his Stoicism"). This is the opposite of the view expressed by me in the text. I consider Bigg's hypothesis well worth examining, and at first sight not improbable; but I am not able to enter into it here.
[Footnote 403: The attitude of the recently discovered "Teaching of the twelve Apostles" is strictly universalistic, and hostile to Judaism as a nation, but shews us a Christianity still essentially uninfluenced by philosophic elements. The impression made by this fact has caused some scholars to describe the treatise as a document of Jewish Christianity. But the attitude of the Didache is rather the ordinary one of universalistic early Christianity on the soil of the Graeco-Roman world. If we describe this as Jewish Christian, then from the meaning which we must give to the words "Christian" and "Gentile Christian", we tacitly legitimise an undefined and undefinable aggregate of Greek ideas, along with a specifically Pauline element, as primitive Christianity, and this is perhaps not the intended, but yet desired, result of the false terminology. Now, if we describe even such writings as the Epistle of James and the Shepherd of Hermas as Jewish Christian, we therewith reduce the entire early Christianity, which is the creation of a universal religion on the soil of Judaism, to the special case of an indefinable religion. The same now appears as one of the particular values of a completely indeterminate magnitude. Hilgenfeld (Judenthum und Juden-christenthum, 1886; cf. also Ztschr f. wiss. Theol. 1886, II. 4) advocates another conception of Jewish Christianity in opposition to the following account. Zahn, Gesch. des N.T-lich. Kanons, II. p. 668 ff. has a different view still.]
[Footnote 404: Or even Ebionitism; the designations are to be used as synonymous.]
[Footnote 405: The more rarely the right standard has been set up in the literature of Church history, for the distinction of Jewish Christianity, the more valuable are those writings in which it is found. We must refer, above all, to Diestel, Geschichte des A. T. in der Christl. Kirche, p. 44, note 7.]
[Footnote 406: See Theol. Lit. Ztg. 1883. Col. 409 f. as to the attempt of Joel to make out that the whole of Christendom up to the end of the first century was strictly Jewish Christian, and to exhibit the complete friendship of Jews and Christians in that period ("Blicke in die Religionsgesch." 2 Abth. 1883). It is not improbable that Christians like James, living in strict accordance with the law, were for the time being respected even by the Pharisees in the period preceding the destruction of Jerusalem. But that can in no case have been the rule. We see from, Epiph., h. 29. 9. and from the Talmud, what was the custom at a later period.]
[Footnote 407: There were Jewish Christians who represented the position of the great Church with reference to the Old Testament religion, and there were some who criticised the Old Testament like the Gnostics. Their contention may have remained as much an internal one, as that between the Church Fathers and Gnostics (Marcion) did, so far as Jewish Christianity is concerned. There may have been relations between Gnostic Jewish Christians and Gnostics, not of a national Jewish type, in Syria and Asia Minor, though we are completely in the dark on the matter.]
[Footnote 408: From the mere existence of Jewish Christians, those Christians who rejected the Old Testament might have argued against the main body of Christendom and put before it the dilemma: either Jewish Christian or Marcionite. Still more logical indeed was the dilemma: either Jewish, or Marcionite Christian.]
[Footnote 409: So did the Montanists and Antimontanists mutually reproach each other with Judaising (see the Montanist writings of Tertullian). Just in the same way the arrangements as to worship and organisation, which were ever being more richly developed, were described by the freer parties as Judaising, because they made appeal to the Old Testament, though, as regards their contents, they had little in common with Judaism. But is not the method of claiming Old Testament authority for the regulations rendered necessary by circumstances nearly as old as Christianity itself? Against whom the lost treatise of Clement of Alexandria "[Greek: kanon ekklesiastikos he pros tous Ioudaizontas]" (Euseb., H. E. VI. 13. 3) was directed, we cannot tell. But as we read, Strom., VI. 15, 125, that the Holy Scriptures are to be expounded according to the [Greek: ekklesiastikos kanon], and then find the following definition of the Canon: [Greek: kanon de ekklesiastikos he sunodia kai sumphonia nomon te kai propheton te kata ten tou kuriou parousian paradidomenei diathekei], we may conjecture that the Judaisers were those Christians, who, in principle, or to some extent, objected to the allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament. We have then to think either of Marcionite Christians or of "Chiliasts," that is, the old Christians who were still numerous in Egypt about the middle of the third century (see Dionys. Alex, in Euseb., H. E. VII. 24). In the first case, the title of the treatise would be paradoxical. But perhaps the treatise refers to the Quarto-decimans, although the expression [Greek: kanon ekklesiastikos] seems too ponderous for them (see, however, Orig., Comm. in Matth. n. 76, ed. Delarue III. p. 895) Clement may possibly have had Jewish Christians before him. See Zahn, Forschungen, vol. III. p. 37 f.]
[Footnote 410: Cases of this kind are everywhere, up to the fifth century, so numerous that they need not be cited. We may only remind the reader that the Nestorian Christology was described by its earliest and its latest opponents as Ebionitic.]
[Footnote 411: Or were those western Christians Ebionitic who, in the fourth century still clung to very realistic Chiliastic hopes, who, in fact, regarded their Christianity as consisting in these?]
[Footnote 412: The hellenising of Christianity went hand in hand with a more extensive use of the Old Testament; for, according to the principles of Catholicism, every new article of the Church system must be able to legitimise itself as springing from revelation. But, as a rule, the attestation could only be gathered from the Old Testament, since religion here appears in the fixed form of a secular community. Now the needs of a secular community for outward regulations gradually became so strong in the Church as to require palpable ceremonial rules. But it cannot be denied, that from a certain point of time, first by means of the fiction of Apostolic constitutions (see my edition of the Didache, Prolegg. p. 239 ff.), and then without this fiction, not, however, as a rule, without reservations, ceremonial regulations were simply taken over from the Old Testament. But this transference (See Bk. II.) takes place at a time when there can be absolutely no question of an influence of Jewish Christianity. Moreover, it always proves itself to be catholic by the fact that it did not in the least soften the traditional anti-Judaism. On the contrary, it attained its full growth in the age of Constantine. Finally, it should not be overlooked that at all times in antiquity, certain provincial churches were exposed to Jewish influences, especially in the East and in Arabia, that they were therefore threatened with being Judaised, or with apostasy to Judaism, and that even at the present day, certain Oriental Churches shew tokens of having once been subject to Jewish influences (see Serapion in Euseb, H. E. VI. 12. 1, Martyr. Pion., Epiph. de mens. et pond. 15. 18; my Texte u. Unters. I. 3. p. 73 f., and Wellhausen, Skizzen und Vorarbeiten, Part. 3. p. 197 ff.; actual disputations with Jews do not seem to have been common, though see Tertull. adv. Jud. and Orig. c. Cels. I. 45, 49, 55: II. 31. Clement also keeps in view Jewish objections.) This Jewish Christianity, if we like to call it so, which in some regions of the East was developed through an immediate influence of Judaism on Catholicism, should not, however, be confounded with the Jewish Christianity which is the most original form in which Christianity realised itself. This was no longer able to influence the Christianity which had shaken itself free from the Jewish nation (as to futile attempts, see below), any more than the protecting covering stripped from the new shoot, can ever again acquire significance for the latter.]
[Footnote 413: What is called the ever-increasing legal feature of Gentile Christianity and the Catholic Church is conditioned by its origin, in so far as its theory is rooted in that of Judaism spiritualised and influenced by Hellenism. As the Pauline conception of the law never took effect and a criticism of the Old Testament religion which is just law neither understood nor ventured upon in the larger Christendom—the forms were not criticised, but the contents spiritualised—so the theory that Christianity is promise and spiritual law is to be regarded as the primitive one. Between the spiritual law and the national law there stand indeed ceremonial laws, which, without being spiritually interpreted, could yet be freed from the national application. It cannot be denied that the Gentile Christian communities and the incipient Catholic Church were very careful and reserved in their adoption of such laws from the Old Testament, and that the later Church no longer observed this caution. But still it is only a question of degree for there are many examples of that adoption in the earliest period of Christendom. The latter had no cause for hurry in utilizing the Old Testament so long as there was no external or internal policy or so long as it was still in embryo. The decisive factor lies here again in enthusiasm and not in changing theories. The basis for these was supplied from the beginning. But a community of individuals under spiritual excitement builds on this foundation something different from an association which wishes to organise and assert itself as such on earth. (The history of Sunday is specially instructive here, see Zahn, Gesch. des Sonntags, 1878, as well as the history of the discipline of fasting, see Linsenmayr, Entwickelung der Kirchl Fastendisciplin, 1877, and Die Abgabe des Zehnten. In general, Cf. Ritschl Entstehung der Altkath Kirche 2 edit. pp. 312 ff., 331 ff., 1 Cor. IX. 9, may be noted).]
[Footnote 414: Justin. Apol. I. 53, Dial. 47, Euseb. H. E. IV. 5, Sulpic Sev. Hist. Sacr. II. 31, Cyrill. Catech. XIV. 15. Important testimonies in Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius and Jerome.]
[Footnote 415: No Jewish Christian writings have been transmitted to us even from the earliest period, for the Apocalypse of John, which describes the Jews as a synagogue of Satan, is not a Jewish Christian book (III. 9 especially shews that the author knows of only one covenant of God, viz. that with the Christians). Jewish Christian sources lie at the basis of our synoptic Gospels, but none of them in their present form is a Jewish Christian writing. The Acts of the Apostles is so little Jewish Christian, its author seemingly so ignorant of Jewish Christianity, at least so unconcerned with regard to it that to him the spiritualised Jewish law, or Judaism as a religion which he connects as closely as possible with Christianity, is a factor already completely detached from the Jewish people (see Overbeck's Commentar z Apostelgesch and his discussion in the Ztschr f wiss. Theol. 1872 p. 305 ff.) Measured by the Pauline theology we may indeed, with Overbeck, say of the Gentile Christianity, as represented by the author of the Acts of the Apostles, that it already has germs of Judaism, and represents a falling off from Paulinism; but these expressions are not correct, because they have at least the appearance of making Paulinism the original form of Gentile Christianity. But as this can neither be proved nor believed, the religious attitude of the author of the Acts of the Apostles must have been a very old one in Christendom. The Judaistic element was not first introduced into Gentile Christianity by the opponents of Paul, who indeed wrought in the national sense, and there is even nothing to lead to the hypothesis that the common Gentile Christian view of the Old Testament and of the law should be conceived as resulting from the efforts of Paul and his opponents, for the consequent effect here would either have been null, or a strengthening of the Jewish Christian thesis. The Jewish element, that is the total acceptance of the Jewish religion sub specie aeternitatis et Christi, is simply the original Christianity of the Gentile Christians itself considered as theory. Contrary to his own intention, Paul was compelled to lead his converts to this Christianity, for only for such Christianity was "the time fulfilled" within the empire of the world. The Acts of the Apostles gives eloquent testimony to the pressing difficulties which under such circumstances stand in the way of a historical understanding of the Gentile Christians in view of the work and the theology of Paul. Even the Epistle to the Hebrews is not a Jewish Christian writing, but there is certainly a peculiar state of things connected with this document. For, on the one hand, the author and his readers are free from the law; a spiritual interpretation is given to the Old Testament religion, which makes it appear to be glorified and fulfilled in the work of Christ; and there is no mention of any prerogative of the people of Israel. But, on the other hand, because the spiritual interpretation, as in Paul, is here teleological, the author allows a temporary significance to the cultus as literally understood, and therefore, by his criticism he conserves the Old Testament religion for the past, while declaring that it was set aside, as regards the present, by the fulfilment of Christ. The teleology of the author, however, looks at everything only from the point of view of shadow and reality, an antithesis which is at the service of Paul also, but which in his case vanishes behind the antithesis of law and grace. This scheme of thought, which is to be traced back to a way of looking at things which arose in Christian Judaism, seeing that it really distinguishes between old and new, stands midway between the conception of the Old Testament religion entertained by Paul, and that of the common Gentile Christian as it is represented by Barnabas. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews undoubtedly knows of a twofold covenant of God. But the two are represented as stages, so that the second is completely based on the first. This view was more likely to be understood by the Gentile Christians than the Pauline, that is, with some seemingly slight changes, to be recognised as their own. But even it at first fell to the ground, and it was only in the conflict with the Marcionites that some Church Fathers advanced to views which seem to be related to those of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Whether the author of this Epistle was a born Jew or a Gentile—in the former case he would far surpass the Apostle Paul in his freedom from the national claims—we cannot, at any rate, recognise in it a document containing a conception which still prizes the Jewish nationality in Christianity, nay, not even a document to prove that such a conception was still dangerous. Consequently, we have no Jewish Christian memorial in the New Testament at all, unless it be in the Pauline Epistles. But as concerns the early Christian literature outside the Canon, the fragments of the great work of Hegesippus are even yet by some investigators claimed for Jewish Christianity. Weizsaecker (Art "Hegesippus" in Herzog's R. E. 2 edit) has shewn how groundless this assumption is. That Hegesippus occupied the common Gentile Christian position is certain from unequivocal testimony of his own. If, as is very improbable, we were obliged to ascribe to him a rejection of Paul, we should have to refer to Eusebius, H. E. IV. 29. 5. ([Greek: Seuerianoi blasphemountes Paulon ton apostolon athetousin autou tas epistolas mede tas praxeis ton apostolon katadechomenoi], but probably the Gospels; these Severians therefore, like Marcion, recognised the Gospel of Luke, but rejected the Acts of the Apostles), and Orig. c. Cels. V. 65: ([Greek: eisi gar tines haireseis tas Paulou epistolas tou apostolou me prosiemenai hosper Ebionaioi amphoteroi kai hoi kaloumenoi Enkratetai]). Consequently, our only sources of knowledge of Jewish Christianity in the post-Pauline period are merely the accounts of the Church Fathers, and some additional fragments (see the collection of fragments of the Ebionite Gospel and that to the Hebrews in Hilgenfeld, Nov. Test, extra can. rec. fasc. IV. Ed 2, and in Zahn, l. c. II. p 642 ff.). We know better, but still very imperfectly, certain forms of the syncretistic Jewish Christianity, from the Philosoph. of Hippolytus and the accounts of Epiphanius, who is certainly nowhere more incoherent than in the delineation of the Jewish Christians, because he could not copy original documents here, but was forced to piece together confused traditions with his own observations. See below on the extensive documents which are even yet as they stand, treated as records of Jewish Christianity, viz., the Pseudo-Clementines. Of the pieces of writing whose Jewish Christian origin is controverted, in so far as they may be simply Jewish, I say nothing.]
[Footnote 416: As to the chief localities where Jewish Christians were found, see Zahn, Kanonsgesch. II. p. 648 ff.]
[Footnote 417: Dialogue 47.]
[Footnote 418: Yet it should be noted that the Christians who, according to Dial. 48, denied the pre-existence of Christ and held him to be a man, are described as Jewish Christians. We should read in the passage in question, as my recent comparison of the Parisian codex shews, [Greek: apo tou umeterou genous]. Yet Justin did not make this a controversial point of great moment.]
[Footnote 419: The so-called Barnabas is considerably older than Justin. In his Epistle (4. 6) he has in view Gentile Christians who have been converted by Jewish Christians, when he utters a warning against those who say [Greek: hoti a diatheke ekeinon] (the Jews) [Greek: kai hemon (estin)]. But how great the actual danger was cannot be gathered from the Epistle. Ignatius in two Epistles (ad Magn. 8-10, ad Philad. 6. 9) opposes Jewish Christian intrigues, and characterises them solely from the point of view that they mean to introduce the Jewish observance of the law. He opposes them with a Pauline idea (Magn. 8 1: [Greek: ei gar mechri nun kata nomon. Ioudaismon zomen homologoumen charin me eilephenai]), as well as with the common Gentile Christian assumption that the prophets themselves had already lived [Greek: kata Christon]. These Judaists must be strictly distinguished from the Gnostics whom Ignatius elsewhere opposes (against Zahn, Ignat. v. Ant. p. 356 f.). The dangers from this Jewish Christianity cannot have been very serious, even if we take Magn. 11. 1, as a phrase. There was an active Jewish community in Philadelphia (Rev. III. 9), and so Jewish Christian plots may have continued longer there. At the first look it seems very promising that in the old dialogue of Aristo of Pella, a Hebrew Christian, Jason, is put in opposition to the Alexandrian Jew, Papiscus. But as the history of the little book proves, this Jason must have essentially represented the common Christian and not the Ebionite conception of the Old Testament and its relation to the Gospel, etc; see my Texte u. Unters. I. 1 2. p. 115 ff.; I. 3 p. 115-130. Testimony as to an apostasy to Judaism is occasionally though rarely given; see Serapion in Euseb., H. E. VI. 12, who addresses a book to one Domninus, [Greek: ekpeptokota para ton tou diogmou kairon apo tes eis Christon pisteos epi ten Ioudaiken ethelothreskeian]; see also Acta Pionii, 13. 14. According to Epiphanius, de mens. et pond. 14, 15, Acquila, the translator of the Bible, was first a Christian and then a Jew. This account is perhaps derived from Origen, and is probably reliable. Likewise according to Epiphanius (l. c. 17. 18), Theodotion was first a Marcionite and then a Jew. The transition from Marcionitism to Judaism (for extremes meet) is not in itself incredible.]
[Footnote 420: It follows from c. Cels II. 1-3, that Celsus could hardly have known Jewish Christians.]
[Footnote 421: Iren. I. 26. 2; III 11. 7; III. 15. 1, 21. 1; IV. 33. 4; V. 1. 3. We first find the name Ebionaei, the poor, in Irenaeus. We are probably entitled to assume that this name was given to the Christians in Jerusalem as early as the Apostolic age, that is, they applied it to themselves (poor in the sense of the prophets and of Christ, fit to be received into the Messianic kingdom). It is very questionable whether we should put any value on Epiph. h. 30. 17.]
[Footnote 422: When Irenaeus adduces as the points of distinction between the Church and the Ebionites, that besides observing the law and repudiating the Apostle Paul, the latter deny the Divinity of Christ and his birth from the Virgin, and reject the New Testament Canon (except the Gospel of Matthew), that only proves that the formation of dogma has made progress in the Church. The less was known of the Ebionites from personal observation, the more confidently they were made out to be heretics who denied the Divinity of Christ and rejected the Canon. The denial of the Divinity of Christ and the birth from the Virgin was, from the end of the second century, regarded as the Ebionite heresy par excellence, and the Ebionites themselves appeared to the Western Christians, who obtained their information solely from the East, to be a school like those of the Gnostics, founded by a scoundrel named Ebion for the purpose of dragging down the person of Jesus to the common level. It is also mentioned incidentally, that this Ebion had commanded the observance of circumcision and the Sabbath; but that is no longer the main thing (see Tertull, de carne 14, 18, 24: de virg. vel. 6: de praescr. 10. 33; Hippol, Syntagma, (Pseudo-Tertull, 11; Philastr. 37; Epiph. h. 30); Hippol, Philos. VII. 34. The latter passage contains the instructive statement that Jesus by his perfect keeping of the law became the Christ). This attitude of the Western Christians proves that they no longer knew Jewish Christian communities. Hence it is all the more strange that Hilgenfeld (Ketzergesch. p. 422 ff.) has in all earnestness endeavoured to revive the Ebion of the Western Church Fathers.]
[Footnote 423: See Orig. c. Cels II. 1; V. 61, 65; de princip. IV. 22; hom. in Genes. III. 15 (Opp. II. p. 65); hom. in Jerem XVII. 12 (III. p. 254); in Matth. T. XVI. 12 (III. p. 494), T. XVII. 12 (III. p. 733); cf. Opp. III. p. 895; hom in XVII. (III. p. 952). That a portion of the Ebionites recognised the birth from the Virgin was according to Origen frequently attested. That was partly reckoned to them for righteousness and partly not, because they would not admit the pre-existence of Christ. The name "Ebionites" is interpreted as a nickname given them by the Church ("beggarly" in the knowledge of scripture, and particularly of Christology).]
[Footnote 424: Eusebius knows no more than Origen (H. E. III. 27), unless we specially credit him with the information that the Ebionites keep along with the Sabbath also the Sunday. What he says of Symmachus, the translator of the Bible, and an Ebionite, is derived from Origen (H. E. VI. 17). The report is interesting, because it declares that Symmachus wrote against Catholic Christianity, especially against the Catholic Gospel of Matthew (about the year 200). But Symmachus is to be classed with the Gnostics, and not with the common type of Jewish Christianity (see below). We have also to thank Eusebius (H. E. III. 5. 3) for the information that the Christians of Jerusalem fled to Pella, in Peraea, before the destruction of that city. In the following period the most important settlements of the Ebionites must have been in the countries east of the Jordan, and in the heart of Syria (see Jul. Afric. in Euseb. H. E. I. 7. 14; Euseb. de loc. hebr. in Lagarde, Onomast p. 301; Epiph., h. 29. 7; h. 30. 2). This fact explains how the bishops in Jerusalem and the coast towns of Palestine came to see very little of them. There was a Jewish Christian community in Beroea with which Jerome had relations (Jerom., de Vir inl 3).]
[Footnote 425: Jerome correctly declares (Ep. ad. August. 122 c. 13, Opp. I. p. 746), "(Ebionitae) credentes in Christo propter hoc solum a patribus anathematizati sunt, quod legis caeremonias Christi evangelio miscuerunt, et sic nova confessi sunt, ut vetera non omitterent."]
[Footnote 426: Ep. ad August. l. c.: "Quid dicam de Hebionitis, qui Christianos esse se simulant? usque hodie per totas orientis synagogas inter Judaeos(!) haeresis est, que dicitur Minaeorum et a Pharisaeis nunc usque damnatur, quos vulgo Nazaraeos nuncupant, qui credunt in Christum filium dei natum de Virgine Maria et eum dicunt esse, qui sub pontio Pilato passus est et resurrexit, in quem et nos credimus; sed dum volunt et Judaei esse et Christiani, nec Judaei sunt nec Christiani." The approximation of the Jewish Christian conception to that of the Catholics shews itself also in their exposition of Isaiah IX. 1. f. (see Jerome on the passage). But we must not forget that there were such Jewish Christians from the earliest times. It is worthy of note that the name Nazarenes, as applied to Jewish Christians, is found in the Acts of the Apostles XXIV. 5, in the Dialogue of Jason and Papiscus, and then first again in Jerome.]
[Footnote 427: Zahn, l. c. p. 648 ff. 668 ff. has not convinced me of the contrary, but I confess that Jerome's style of expression is not everywhere clear.]
[Footnote 428: Zahn, (l. c.) makes a sharp distinction between the Nazarenes, on the one side, who used the Gospel of the Hebrews, acknowledged the birth from the Virgin, and in fact the higher Christology to some extent, did not repudiate Paul, etc., and the Ebionites on the other, whom he simply identifies with the Gnostic Jewish Christians, if I am not mistaken. In opposition to this, I think I must adhere to the distinction as given above in the text and in the following: (1) Non-Gnostic, Jewish Christians (Nazarenes, Ebionites) who appeared in various shades, according to their doctrine and attitude to the Gentile Church, and whom, with the Church Fathers, we may appropriately classify as strict or tolerant (exclusive or liberal). (2) Gnostic or syncretistic Judaeo-Christians who are also termed Ebionites.]
[Footnote 429: This Gospel no doubt greatly interested the scholars of the Catholic Church from Clement of Alexandria onwards. But they have almost all contrived to evade the hard problem which it presented. It may be noted, incidentally, that the Gospel of the Hebrews, to judge from the remains preserved to us, can neither have been the model nor the translation of our Matthew, but a work independent of this, though drawing from the same sources, representing perhaps to some extent an earlier stage of the tradition. Jerome also knew very well that the Gospel of the Hebrews was not the original of the canonical Matthew, but he took care not to correct the old prejudice. Ebionitic conceptions, such as that of the female nature of the Holy Spirit, were of course least likely to convince the Church Fathers. Moreover, the common Jewish Christians hardly possessed a Church theology, because for them Christianity was something entirely different from the doctrine of a school. On the Gospel of the Hebrews, see Handmann (Texte u. Unters V. 3), Resch, Agrapha (I. c. V. 4), and Zahn, 1. c. p. 642 ff.]
[Footnote 430: We have as yet no history of the sacrificial system, and the views as to sacrifice in the Graeco-Roman epoch, of the Jewish Nation. It is urgently needed.]
[Footnote 431: We may remind readers of the assumptions, that the world was created by angels, that the law was given by angels, and similar ones which are found in the theology of the Pharisees Celsus (in Orig. I. 26; V. 6) asserts generally that the Jews worshipped angels, so does the author of the Praedicatio Petri, as well as the apologist Aristides. Cf Joel, Blicke in die Religionsgesch I. Abth, a book which is certainly to be used with caution (see Theol. Lit. Ztg. 1881. Coll. 184 ff.).]
[Footnote 432: No reliance can be placed on Jewish sources, or on Jewish scholars, as a rule. What we find in Joel, l. c. I. Abth. p. 101 ff. is instructive. We may mention Graetz, Gnosticismus und Judenthum (Krotoschin, 1846), who has called attention to the Gnostic elements in the Talmud, and dealt with several Jewish Gnostics and Antignostics, as well as with the book of Jezira. Graetz assumes that the four main dogmatic points in the book Jezira, viz., the strict unity of the deity, and, at the same time, the negation of the demiurgic dualism, the creation out of nothing with the negation of matter, the systematic unity of the world and the balancing of opposites, were directed against prevailing Gnostic ideas.]
[Footnote 433: We may pass over the false teachers of the Pastoral Epistles, as they cannot be with certainty determined, and the possibility is not excluded that we have here to do with an arbitrary construction; see Holtzman, Pastoralbriefe, p. 150 f.]
[Footnote 434: Orig. in Euseb. VI. 38; Hippol., Philos. IX. 13 ff., X. 29; Epiph., h. 30, also h. 19, 53; Method, Conviv. VIII. 10. From the confused account of Epiphanius who called the common Jewish Christians Nazarenes, the Gnostic type Ebionites and Sampsaei, and their Jewish forerunners Osseni, we may conclude, that in many regions where there were Jewish Christians they yielded to the propaganda of the Elkesaite doctrines, and that in the fourth century there was no other syncretistic Jewish Christianity besides the various shades of Elkesaites.]
[Footnote 435: I formerly reckoned Symmachus, the translator of the Bible, among the common Jewish Christians; but the statements of Victorinus Rhetor on Gal. I. 19. II. 26 (Migne T. VIII. Col. 1155, 1162) shew that he has a close affinity with the Pseudo-Clementines, and is also to be classed with the Elkesaite Alcibiades. "Nam Jacobum apostolum Symmachiani faciunt quasi duodecimum et hunc secuntur, qui ad dominum nostrum Jesum Christum adjungunt Judaismi observationem, quamquam etiam Jesum Christum fatentur; dicunt enim eum ipsum Adam esse et esse animam generalem, et aliae hujusmodi blasphemiae." The account given by Eusebius, H. E. VI. 17 (probably on the authority of Origen, see also Demonstr. VII. I) is important: [Greek: Ton ge men hermeneuton auton de touton histeon, Ebionaion ton Summachon gegonenai ... kai hupomnemata de tou Summachou eiseti nun pheretai, hen ois dokei pros to kata Matuaion apoteinomenos euaggelion ten dedelomenen airesin kratunein.] Symmachus therefore adopted an aggressive attitude towards the great Church, and hence we may probably class him with Alcibiades who lived a little later. Common Jewish Christianity was no longer aggressive in the second century.]
[Footnote 436: Wellhausen (l. c. Part III. p. 206) supposes that Elkesai is equivalent to Alexius. That the receiver of the "book" was a historical person is manifest from Epiphanius' account of his descendants (h. 19. 2; 53. 1). From Hipp, Philosoph. IX. 16, p. 468, it is certainly probable, though not certain, that the book was produced by the unknown author as early as the time of Trajan. On the other hand, the existence of the sect itself can be proved only at the beginning of the third century, and therefore we have the possibility of an ante-dating of the "book." This seems to have been Origen's opinion.]
[Footnote 437: Epiph. (h. 53. 1) says of the Elkesaites: [Greek: oute christianoi huparchontes oute Ioudaioi oute Ellenes, alla meson aplos uparchontes.] He pronounces a similar judgment as to the Samaritan sects (Simonians), and expressly (h. 30. 1) connects the Elkesaites with them.]
[Footnote 438: The worship paid to the descendants of this Elkesai, spoken of by Epiphanius, does not, if we allow for exaggerations, go beyond the measure of honour which was regularly paid to the descendants of prophets and men of God in the East. Cf. the respect enjoyed by the blood relations of Jesus and Mohammed.]
[Footnote 439: If the "book" really originated in the time of Trajan, then its production keeps within the frame-work of common Christianity, for at that time there were appearing everywhere in Christendom revealed books which contained new instructions and communications of grace. The reader may be reminded, for example, of the Shepherd of Hermas. When the sect declared that the "book" was delivered to Elkesai by a male and a female angel, each as large as a mountain, that these angels were the Son of God and the Holy Spirit, etc., we have, apart from the fantastic colouring, nothing extraordinary.]
[Footnote 440: It may be assumed from Philos. X. 29, that, in the opinion of Hippolytus, the Elkesaites identified the Christ from above with the Son of God, and assumed that this Christ appeared on earth in changing and purely human forms, and will appear again ([Greek: auton metangizomenon en somasi pollois pollakis, kai nun de en to Iesou, homoios pote men ek tou theou gegenesthai, pote de pneuma gegonenai, pote de ek parthenou, pote de ou kai toutou de metepeita aei en somati metangizesthai kai en pollois kata kairous deiknusthai]). As the Elkesaites (see the account by Epiphanius) traced back the incarnations of Christ to Adam, and not merely to Abraham, we may see in this view of history the attempt to transform Mosaism into the universal religion. But the Pharisitic theology had already begun with these Adam-speculations, which are always a sign that the religion in Judaism is feeling its limits too narrow. The Jews in Alexandria were also acquainted with these speculations.]
[Footnote 441: In the Gospel of these Jewish Christians Jesus is made to say (Epiph. h. 30. 16) [Greek: elthon katalusai tas thusias, kai ean me pausesthe tou thuein, ou pausetai aph' humon he orge]. We see the essential progress of this Jewish Christianity within Judaism, in the opposition in principle to the whole sacrificial service (vid. also Epiph., h. 19. 3).]
[Footnote 442: On this new Gospel see Zahn, Kanongesch II. p. 724 ff.]
[Footnote 443: It is incorrect to suppose that the lustrations were meant to take the place of baptism, or were conceived by these Jewish Christians as repeated baptisms. Their effect was certainly equal to that of baptism. But it is nowhere hinted in our authorities that they were on that account made equivalent to the regular baptism.]
[Footnote 444: The characteristic here, as in the Gentile Christian Gnosis, is the division of the person of Jesus into a more or less indifferent medium, and into the Christ. Here the factor constituting his personality could sometimes be placed in that medium, and sometimes in the Christ spirit, and thus contradictory formulae could not but arise. It is therefore easy to conceive how Epiphanius reproaches these Jewish Christians with a denial, sometimes of the Divinity, and sometimes of the humanity of Christ (see h. 30. 14).]
[Footnote 445: This syncretistic Judaism had indeed a significance for the history of the world, not, however, in the history of Christianity, but for the origin of Islam. Islam, as a religious system, is based partly on syncretistic Judaism (including the Zabians, so enigmatic in their origin), and, without questioning Mohammed's originality, can only be historically understood by taking this into account. I have endeavoured to establish this hypothesis in a lecture printed in MS form, 1877. Cf. now the conclusive proofs in Wellhausen, l. c. Part III. p. 197-212. On the Mandeans, see Brandt, Die Mandaeische Religion, 1889; (also Wellhausen in d. deutschen Lit. Ztg., 1890 No. 1. Lagarde i. d. Goett. Gel. Anz., 1890, No. 10).]
[Footnote 446: See Bestmann, Gesch. der Christl. Sitte Bd. II. 1 Part: Die juden-christliche Sitte, 1883; also, Theol. Lit. Ztg. 1883. Col. 269 ff. The same author, Der Ursprung des Katholischen Christenthums und des Islams, 1884; also Theol. Lit. Ztg. 1884, Col. 291 ff.]
[Footnote 447: See Schliemann, Die Clementinen etc. 1844; Hilgenfeld, Die Clementinischen Recogn. u. Homil, 1848; Ritschl, in d Allg Monatschrift f. Wissensch. u. Litt., 1852. Uhlhorn, Die Homil. u. Recogn., 1854; Lehmann, Die Clement. Schriften, 1869; Lipsius, in d. Protest. K. Ztg., 1869, p. 477 ff.; Quellen der Roemische Petrussage, 1872. Uhlhorn, in Herzog's R. Encykl. (Clementinen) 2 Edit. III. p. 286, admits: "There can be no doubt that the Clementine question still requires further discussion. It can hardly make any progress worth mentioning until we have collected better the material, and especially till we have got a corrected edition with an exhaustive commentary." The theory of the genesis, contents and aim of the pseudo-Clementine writings, unfolded by Renan (Orig. T. VII. p. 74-101) is essentially identical with that of German scholars. Langen (die Clemensromane, 1890) has set up very bold hypotheses, which are also based on the assumption that Jewish Christianity was an important church factor in the second century, and that the pseudo-Clementines are comparatively old writings.]
[Footnote 448: There is no external evidence for placing the pseudo-Clementine writings in the second century. The oldest witness is Origen (IV. p. 401, Lommatzsch); but the quotation: "Quoniam opera bona, quae fiunt ab infidelibus, in hoc saeculo iis prosunt," etc., is not found in our Clementines, so that Origen appears to have used a still older version. The internal evidence all points to the third century (canon, composition, theological attitude, etc.) Moreover, Zahn (Goett. Gel. Anz. 1876. No. 45) and Lagarde have declared themselves in favour of this date; while Lipsius (Apokr. Apostelgesch II. 1) and Weingarten (Zeittafeln, 3 Edit. p. 23) have recently expressed the same opinion. The Homilies presuppose (1) Marcion's Antitheses, (2) Apelles' Syllogisms, (3) perhaps Callistus' edict about penance (see III. 70), and writings of Hippolytus (see also the expression [Greek: episkopos episkopon], Clem. ep. ad Jacob I, which is first found in Tertull, de pudic I.) (4) The most highly developed form of polemic against heathen mythology. (5) The complete development of church apologetics, as well as the conviction that Christianity is identical with correct and absolute knowledge. They further presuppose a time when there was a lull in the persecution of Christians, for the Emperor, though pretty often referred to, is never spoken of as a persecutor, and when the cultured heathen world was entirely disposed in favour of an eclectic monotheism. Moreover, the remarkable Christological statement in Hom. XVI. 15, 16. points to the third century, in fact probably even presupposes the theology of Origen; Cf. the sentence: [Greek: tou patros to me gegennesthai estin, huiou de to gegennesthai genneton de agenneto e kai autogenneto ou sunkrinetai.] Finally, the decided repudiation of the awakening of Christian faith by visions and dreams, and the polemic against these is also no doubt of importance for determining the date; see XVII. 14-19. Peter says, Sec. 18: [Greek: to adidaktos aneu optasias kai oneiron mathein apokalupsis estin], he had already learned that at his confession (Matt. XVI.). The question, [Greek: ei tis di optasian pros didaskalian sophisthenai dunatai], is answered in the negative, Sec. 19.]
[Footnote 449: This is also acknowledged in Koffmane. Die Gnosis, etc, p. 33].
[Footnote 450: The Homilies, as we have them, are mainly composed of the speeches of Peter and others. These speeches oppose polytheism, mythology and the doctrine of demons, and advocate monotheism, ascetic morality and rationalism. The polemic against Simon Magus almost appears as a mere accessory.]
[Footnote 451: This distinction can also be shewn elsewhere in the Church of the third century. But I confess I do not know how Catholic circles got over the fact that, for example, in the third book of the Homilies many passages of the old Testament are simply characterised as untrue, immoral and lying. Here the Homilies remind one strongly of the Syllogisms of Apelles, the author of which, in other respects, opposed them in the interest of his doctrine of creating angels. In some passages the Christianity of the Homilies really looks like a syncretism composed of the common Christianity, the Jewish Christianity, Gnosticism, and the criticism of Apelles. Hom. VIII. 6-8 is also highly objectionable.]
On the Conception of Pre-existence.
On account of the importance of the question we may be here permitted to amplify a few hints given in Chap. II., Sec. 4, and elsewhere, and to draw a clearer distinction between the Jewish and Hellenic conceptions of pre-existence.
According to the theory held by the ancient Jews and by the whole of the Semitic nations, everything of real value, that from time to time appears on earth has its existence in heaven. In other words it exists with God, that is, God possesses a knowledge of it; and for that reason it has a real being. But it exists beforehand with God in the same way as it appears on earth, that is with all the material attributes belonging to its essence. Its manifestation on earth is merely a transition from concealment to publicity ([Greek: Phanerousthai]). In becoming visible to the senses, the object in question assumes no attribute that it did not already possess with God. Hence its material nature is by no means an inadequate expression of it, nor is it a second nature added to the first. The truth rather is that what was in heaven before is now revealing itself upon earth, without any sort of alteration taking place in the process. There is no assumptio naturae novae, and no change or mixture. The old Jewish theory of pre-existence is founded on the religious idea of the omniscience and omnipotence of God, that God to whom the events of history do not come as a surprise, but who guides their course. As the whole history of the world and the destiny of each individual are recorded on his tablets or books, so also each thing is ever present before him. The decisive contrast is between God and the creature. In designating the latter as "foreknown" by God, the primary idea is not to ennoble the creature, but rather to bring to light the wisdom and power of God. The ennobling of created things by attributing to them a pre-existence is a secondary result (see below).
According to the Hellenic conception, which has become associated with Platonism, the idea of pre-existence is independent of the idea of God; it is based on the conception of the contrast between spirit and matter, between the infinite and finite, found in the cosmos itself. In the case of all spiritual beings, life in the body or flesh is at bottom an inadequate and unsuitable condition, for the spirit is eternal, the flesh perishable. But the pre-temporal existence, which was only a doubtful assumption as regards ordinary spirits, was a matter of certainty in the case of the higher and purer ones. They lived in an upper world long before this earth was created, and they lived there as spirits without the "polluted garment of the flesh." Now if they resolved for some reason or other to appear in this finite world, they cannot simply become visible, for they have no "visible form." They must rather "assume flesh", whether they throw it about them as a covering, or really make it their own by a process of transformation or mixture. In all cases—and here the speculation gave rise to the most exciting problems—the body is to them something inadequate which they cannot appropriate without adopting certain measures of precaution, but this process may indeed pass through all stages, from a mere seeming appropriation to complete union. The characteristics of the Greek ideas of pre-existence may consequently be thus expressed. First, the objects in question to which pre-existence is ascribed are meant to be ennobled by this attribute. Secondly, these ideas have no relation to God. Thirdly, the material appearance is regarded as something inadequate. Fourthly, speculations about phantasma, assumptio naturae humanae, transmutatio, mixtura, duae naturae, etc., were necessarily associated with these notions.
We see that these two conceptions are as wide apart as the poles. The first has a religious origin, the second a cosmological and psychological, the first glorifies God, the second the created spirit.
However, not only does a certain relationship in point of form exist between these speculations, but the Jewish conception is also found in a shape which seems to approximate still more to the Greek one.
Earthly occurrences and objects are not only regarded as "foreknown" by God before being seen in this world, but the latter manifestation is frequently considered as the copy of the existence and nature which they possess in heaven, and which remains unalterably the same, whether they appear upon earth or not. That which is before God experiences no change. As the destinies of the world are recorded in the books, and God reads them there, it being at the same time a matter of indifference, as regards this knowledge of his, when and how they are accomplished upon earth, so the Tabernacle and its furniture, the Temple, Jerusalem, etc., are before God, and continue to exist before him in heaven, even during their appearance on earth and after it.
This conception seems really to have been the oldest one. Moses is to fashion the Temple and its furniture according to the pattern he saw on the Mount (Exod. XXV. 9. 40; XXVI. 30; XXVII. 8; Num. VIII. 4). The Temple and Jerusalem exist in heaven, and they are to be distinguished from the earthly Temple and the earthly Jerusalem; yet the ideas of a [Greek: Phanerousthai] of the thing which is in heaven and of its copy appearing on earth, shade into one another and are not always clearly separated.
The classing of things as original and copy was at first no more meant to glorify them than was the conception of a pre-existence they possessed within the knowledge of God. But since the view which in theory was true of everything earthly, was, as is naturally to be expected, applied in practice to nothing but valuable objects—for things common and ever recurring give no impulse to such speculations—the objects thus contemplated were ennobled, because they were raised above the multitude of the commonplace. At the same time the theory of original and copy could not fail to become a starting-point for new speculations, as soon as the contrast between the spiritual and material began to assume importance among the Jewish people.
That took place under the influence of the Greek spirit; and was perhaps also the simultaneous result of an intellectual or moral development which arose independently of that spirit. Accordingly, a highly important advance in the old ideas of pre-existence appeared in the Jewish theological literature belonging to the time of the Maccabees and the following decades. To begin with, these conceptions are now applied to persons, which, so far as I know, was not the case before this (individualism). Secondly, the old distinction of original and copy is now interpreted to mean that the copy is the inferior and more imperfect, that in the present aeon of the transient it cannot be equivalent to the original, and that we must therefore look forward to the time when the original itself will make its appearance, (contrast of the material and finite and the spiritual).
With regard to the first point, we have not only to consider passages in Apocalypses and other writings in which pre-existence is attributed to Moses, the patriarchs, etc., (see above, p. 102), but we must, above all, bear in mind utterances like Ps. CXXXIX. 15, 16. The individual saint soars upward to the thought that the days of his life are in the book of God, and that he himself was before God, whilst he was still un-perfect. But, and this must not be overlooked, it was not merely his spiritual part that was before God, for there is not the remotest idea of such a distinction, but the whole man, although he is [Hebrew: bashar] (flesh).
As regards the second point, the distinction between a heavenly and an earthly Jerusalem, a heavenly and an earthly Temple, etc., is sufficiently known from the Apocalypses and the New Testament. But the important consideration is that the sacred things of earth were regarded as objects of less value, instalments, as it were, pending the fulfilment of the whole promise. The desecration and subsequent destruction of sacred things must have greatly strengthened this idea. The hope of the heavenly Jerusalem comforted men for the desecration or loss of the earthly one. But this gave at the same time the most powerful impulse to reflect whether it was not an essential feature of this temporal state, that everything high and holy in it could only appear in a meagre and inadequate form. Thus the transition to Greek ideas was brought about. The fulness of the time had come when the old Jewish ideas, with a slightly mythological colouring, could amalgamate with the ideal creations of Hellenic philosophers.
These, however, are also the general conditions which gave rise to the earliest Jewish speculations about a personal Messiah, except that, in the case of the Messianic ideas within Judaism itself, the adoption of specifically Greek thoughts, so far as I am able to see, cannot be made out.
Most Jews, as Trypho testifies in Justin's Dialogue, 49, conceived the Messiah as a man. We may indeed go a step further and say that no Jew at bottom imagined him otherwise; for even those who attached ideas of pre-existence to him, and gave the Messiah a supernatural background, never advanced to speculations about assumption of the flesh, incarnation, two natures and the like. They only transferred in specific manner to the Messiah the old idea of pre-terrestrial existence with God, universally current among the Jews. Before the creation of the world the Messiah was hidden with God, and, when the time is fulfilled, he makes his appearance. This is neither an incarnation nor a humiliation, but he appears on earth as he exists before God, viz., as a mighty and just king, equipped with all gifts. The writings in which this thought appears most clearly are the Apocalypse of Enoch (Book of Similitudes, Chap. 46-49) and the Apocalypse of Esra (Chap. 12-14). Support to this idea, if anything more of the kind had been required, was lent by passages like Daniel VII. 13 f. and Micah, V. 1. Nowhere do we find in Jewish writings a conception which advances beyond the notion that the Messiah is the man who is with God in heaven; and who will make his appearance at his own time. We are merely entitled to say that, as the same idea was not applied to all persons with the same certainty, it was almost unavoidable that men's minds should have been led to designate the Messiah as the man from heaven. This thought was adopted by Paul (see below), but I know of no Jewish writing which gave clear expression to it.
Jesus Christ designated himself as the Messiah, and the first of his disciples who recognised him as such were native Jews. The Jewish conceptions of the Messiah consequently passed over into the Christian community. But they received an impulse to important modifications from the living impression conveyed by the person and destiny of Jesus. Three facts were here of pre-eminent importance. First, Jesus appeared in lowliness, and even suffered death. Secondly, he was believed to be exalted through the resurrection to the right hand of God, and his return in glory was awaited with certainty. Thirdly, the strength of a new life and of an indissoluble union with God was felt issuing from him, and therefore his people were connected with him in the closest way.
In some old Christian writings found in the New Testament and emanating from the pen of native Jews, there are no speculations at all about the pre-temporal existence of Jesus as the Messiah, or they are found expressed in a manner which simply embodies the old Jewish theory and is merely distinguished from it by the emphasis laid on the exaltation of Jesus after death through the resurrection. 1. Pet. I. 18 ff. is a classic passage: [Greek: elutrothete timio haimati hos amnou amomou kai aspilou Christou, proegnosmenou men pro kataboles kosmou, phanerothentos de ep' eschatou ton chronon di' humas tous di autou pistous eis theon ton egeiranta autou ek nekron kai doxan auto donta, hoste ten pistin humon kai elpida einai eis theon]. Here we find a conception of the pre-existence of Christ which is not yet affected by cosmological or psychological speculation, which does not overstep the boundaries of a purely religious contemplation, and which arose from the Old Testament way of thinking, and the living impression derived from the person of Jesus. He is "foreknown (by God) before the creation of the world", not as a spiritual being without a body, but as a Lamb without blemish and without spot; in other words, his whole personality together with the work which it was to carry out, was within God's eternal knowledge. He "was manifested in these last days for our sake", that is, he is now visibly what he already was before God. What is meant here is not an incarnation, but a revelatio. Finally, he appeared in order that our faith and hope should now be firmly directed to the living God, that God who raised him from the dead and gave him honour. In the last clause expression is given to the specifically Christian thought, that the Messiah Jesus was exalted after crucifixion and death: from this, however, no further conclusions are drawn.
But it was impossible that men should everywhere rest satisfied with these utterances, for the age was a theological one. Hence the paradox of the suffering Messiah, the certainty of his glorification through the resurrection, the conviction of his specific relationship to God, and the belief in the real union of his Church with him did not seem adequately expressed by the simple formulae [Greek: proegnosmenos, phanerotheis]. In reference to all these points, we see even in the oldest Christian writings, the appearance of formulae which fix more precisely the nature of his pre-existence, or in other words his heavenly existence. With regard to the first and second points there arose the view of humiliation and exaltation, such as we find in Paul and in numerous writings after him. In connection with the third point the concept "Son of God" was thrust into the foreground, and gave rise to the idea of the image of God (2 Cor. IV. 4; Col. I. 15; Heb. I. 2; Phil. II. 6). The fourth point gave occasion to the formation of theses, such as we find in Rom. VIII. 29: [Greek: prototokos en pollois adelphois], Col. I. 18: [Greek: prototokos ek ton nekron] (Rev. I. 5), Eph. II. 6 [Greek: sunegeiren kai sunekathisen en tois epouraniois hemas en Christo Iesou], I. 4: [Greek: ho theos exelexato hemas en Christo pro kataboles kosmou], I. 22: [Greek: ho theos edoken ton Christon kephalen huper panta te ekklesia hetis estin to soma autou] etc. This purely religious view of the Church, according to which all that is predicated of Christ is also applied to his followers, continued a considerable time. Hermas declares that the Church is older than the world, and that the world was created for its sake (see above, p. 103), and the author of the so-called 2nd Epistle of Clement declares (Chap. 14) [Greek: ... esometha ek tes ekklesias tes protes tes pneumatikes, tes pro heliou kai selenes hektismenes ... ouk oiomai de humas agnoein, hoti ekklesia zosa soma esti Christou. legei gar hegraphe. Epoiesen ho theos ton anthropon arsen kai thelu. to arsen estin ho Christos to thelu he ekklesia.] Thus Christ and his Church are inseparably connected. The latter is to be conceived as pre-existent quite as much as the former; the Church was also created before the sun and the moon, for the world was created for its sake. This conception of the Church illustrates a final group of utterances about the pre-existent Christ, the origin of which might easily be misinterpreted unless we bear in mind their reference to the Church. In so far as he is [Greek: proegnosmenos pro kataboles kosmou], he is the [Greek: arche tes ktiseos tou theou] (Rev. III. 14), the [Greek: prototokos pases ktiseos] etc. According to the current conception of the time, these expressions mean exactly the same as the simple [Greek: proegnosmenos pro kataboles kosmou], as is proved by the parallel formulae referring to the Church. Nay, even the further advance to the idea that the world was created by him (Cor. Col. Eph. Heb.) need not yet necessarily be a [Greek: metabasis eis allo genos]; for the beginning of things [Greek: arche] and their purpose form the real force to which their origin is due (principle [Greek: arche]). Hermas indeed calls the Church older than the world simply because "the world was created for its sake."
All these further theories which we have quoted up to this time need in no sense alter the original conception, so long as they appear in an isolated form and do not form the basis of fresh speculations. They may be regarded as the working out of the original conception attaching to Jesus Christ, [Greek: proegnosmenos pro kataboles kosmou, phanerotheis k.t.l.]; and do not really modify this religious view of the matter. Above all, we find in them as yet no certain transition to the Greek view which splits up his personality into a heavenly and an earthly portion; it still continues to be the complete Christ to whom all the utterances apply. But, beyond doubt, they already reveal the strong impulse to conceive the Christ that had appeared as a divine being. He had not been a transitory phenomenon, but has ascended into heaven and still continues to live. This post-existence of his gave to the ideas of his pre-existence a support and a concrete complexion which the earlier Jewish theories lacked.
We find the transition to a new conception in the writings of Paul. But it is important to begin by determining the relationship between his Christology and the views we have been hitherto considering. In the Apostle's clearest trains of thought everything that he has to say of Christ hinges on his death and resurrection. For this we need no proofs, but see, more especially Rom. I. 3 f.: [Greek: peri tou huiou autou, tou genomenou ek spermatos Daueid kata sarka, tou horisthentos huiou theou en dunamei kata pneuma agiosunes ek anastaseos nekron, Iesou Christou tou kuriou hemon]. What Christ became and his significance for us now are due to his death on the cross and his resurrection. He condemned sin in the flesh and was obedient unto death. Therefore he now shares in the [Greek: doxa] of God. The exposition in 1 Cor. XV. 45, also ([Greek: ho eschatos Adam eis pneuma Zoopoioun, all' ou proton to pneumatikon alla to psuchikon, epeita to pneumatikon. ho protos anthropos ek ges choikos ho deuteros anthropos ex ouranou]) is still capable of being understood, as to its fundamental features, in a sense which agrees with the conception of the Messiah, as [Greek: kat' exochen,] the man from heaven who was hidden with God. There can be no doubt, however, that this conception as already shewn by the formulae in the passage just quoted, formed to Paul the starting-point of a speculation, in which the original theory assumed a completely new shape. The decisive factors in this transformation were the Apostle's doctrine of "spirit and flesh", and the corresponding conviction that the Christ who is not be known "after the flesh", is a spirit, namely, the mighty spiritual being [Greek: pneuma zoopoioun], who has condemned sin in the flesh, and thereby enabled man to walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.
According to one of the Apostle's ways of regarding the matter, Christ, after the accomplishment of his work, became the [Greek: pneuma zoopoioun] through the resurrection. But the belief that Jesus always stood before God as the heavenly man, suggested to Paul the other view, that Christ was always a "spirit", that he was sent down by God, that the flesh is consequently something inadequate and indeed hostile to him, that he nevertheless assumed it in order to extirpate the sin dwelling in the flesh, that he therefore humbled himself by appearing, and that this humiliation was the deed he performed.
This view is found in 2 Cor. VIII. 9: [Greek: Iesous Christos di' humas eptocheusen plousios on]; in Rom. VIII. 3: [Greek: ho theos ton heautou huion pempsas en homoiomati sarkos hamartias kai peri hamartias katekrine ten hamartian en te sarki]; and in Phil. II. 5 f.: [Greek: Christos Iesous en morphe theou huparchon ... heauton ekenosen morphen doulon labon, en homoiomati anthropon genomenos, kai schemati heuretheis hos anthropos etapeinosen heauton k.t.l.] In both forms of thought Paul presupposes a real exaltation of Christ. Christ receives after the resurrection more than he ever possessed ([Greek: to onoma to huper pan onoma]). In this view Paul retains a historical interpretation of Christ, even in the conception of the [Greek: pneuma Christos]. But whilst many passages seem to imply that the work of Christ began with suffering and death, Paul shews in the verses cited, that he already conceives the appearance of Christ on earth as his moral act, as a humiliation, purposely brought about by God and Christ himself, which reaches its culminating point in the death on the cross. Christ, the divine spiritual being, is sent by the Father from heaven to earth, and of his own free will he obediently takes this mission upon himself. He appears in the [Greek: homoioma sarkos amartias], dies the death of the cross, and then, raised by the Father, ascends again into heaven in order henceforth to act as the [Greek: kurios zonton] and [Greek: nekron] and to become to his own people the principle of a new life in the spirit.
Whatever we may think about the admissibility and justification of this view, to whatever source we may trace its origin and however strongly we may emphasise its divergencies from the contemporaneous Hellenic ideas, it is certain that it approaches very closely to the latter; for the distinction of spirit and flesh is here introduced into the concept of pre-existence, and this combination is not found in the Jewish notions of the Messiah.
Paul was the first who limited the idea of pre-existence by referring it solely to the spiritual part of Jesus Christ, but at the same time gave life to it by making the pre-existing Christ (the spirit) a being who, even during his pre-existence, stands independently side by side with God.
He was also the first to designate Christ's [Greek: sarx] as "assumpta", and to recognise its assumption as in itself a humiliation. To him the appearance of Christ was no mere [Greek: phanerousthai], but a [Greek: kenousthai, tapeinousthai] and [Greek: ptocheuein].
These outstanding features of the Pauline Christology must have been intelligible to the Greeks, but, whilst embracing these, they put everything else in the system aside. [Greek: Christos ho kurios ho sosas hemas, hon men to proton pneuma, egeneto sarx kai houtos hemas ekalesen], says 2 Clem. (9. 5), and that is also the Christology of 1 Clement, Barnabas and many other Greeks. From the sum total of Judaeo-Christian speculations they only borrowed, in addition, the one which has been already mentioned: the Messiah as [Greek: proegnosmenos pro kataboles kosmou] is for that very reason also [Greek: he arche tes ktiseos tou theou], that is the beginning, purpose and principle of the creation. The Greeks, as the result of their cosmological interest, embraced this thought as a fundamental proposition. The complete Greek Christology then is expressed as follows: [Greek: Christos, ho sosas hemas, hon men to proton pneuma kai pases ktiseos arche, egeneto sarx kai houtos hemas ekalesen]. That is the fundamental theological and philosophical creed on which the whole Trinitarian and Christological speculations of the Church of the succeeding centuries are built, and it is thus the root of the orthodox system of dogmatics; for the notion that Christ was the [Greek: arche pases ktiseos] necessarily led in some measure to the conception of Christ as the Logos. For the Logos had long been regarded by cultured men as the beginning and principle of the creation.
With this transition the theories concerning Christ are removed from Jewish and Old Testament soil, and also that of religion (in the strict sense of the word), and transplanted to the Greek one. Even in his pre-existent state Christ is an independent power existing side by side with God. The pre-existence does not refer to his whole appearance, but only to a part of his essence; it does not primarily serve to glorify the wisdom and power of the God who guides history, but only glorifies Christ, and thereby threatens the monarchy of God. The appearance of Christ is now an "assumption of flesh", and immediately the intricate questions about the connection of the heavenly and spiritual being with the flesh simultaneously arise and are at first settled by the theories of a naive docetism. But the flesh, that is the human nature created by God, appears depreciated, because it was reckoned as something unsuitable for Christ, and foreign to him as a spiritual being. Thus the Christian religion was mixed up with the refined asceticism of a perishing civilization, and a foreign substructure given to its system of morality, so earnest in its simplicity. But the most questionable result was the following. Since the predicate "Logos", which at first, and for a long time, coincided with the idea of the reason ruling in the cosmos, was considered as the highest that could be given to Christ, the holy and divine element, namely, the power of a new life, a power to be viewed and laid hold of in Christ, was transformed into a cosmic force and thereby secularised.
In the present work I have endeavoured to explain fully how the doctrine of the Church developed from these premises into the doctrine of the Trinity and of the two natures. I have also shewn that the imperfect beginnings of Church doctrine, especially as they appear in the Logos theory derived from cosmology, were subjected to wholesome corrections—by the Monarchians, by Athanasius, and by the influence of biblical passages which pointed in another direction. Finally, the Logos doctrine received a form in which the idea was deprived of nearly all cosmical content. Nor could the Hellenic contrast of "spirit" and "flesh" become completely developed in Christianity, because the belief in the bodily resurrection of Christ, and in the admission of the flesh into heaven, opposed to the principle of dualism a barrier which Paul as yet neither knew nor felt to be necessary. The conviction as to the resurrection of the flesh proved the hard rock which shattered the energetic attempts to give a completely Hellenic complexion to the Christian religion.
The history of the development of the ideas of pre-existence is at the same time the criticism of them, so that we need not have recourse to our present theory of knowledge which no longer allows such speculations. The problem of determining the significance of Christ through a speculation concerning his natures, and of associating with these the concrete features of the historical Christ, was originated by Hellenism. But even the New Testament writers, who appear in this respect to be influenced in some way by Hellenism, did not really speculate concerning the different natures, but, taking Christ's spiritual nature for granted, determined his religious significance by his moral qualities—Paul by the moral act of humiliation and obedience unto death, John by the complete dependence of Christ upon God and hence also by his obedience, as well as the unity of the love of Father and Son. There is only one idea of pre-existence which no empiric contemplation of history and no reason can uproot. This is identical with the most ancient idea found in the Old Testament, as well as that prevalent among the early Christians, and consists in the religious thought that God the Lord directs history. In its application to Jesus Christ, it is contained in the words we read in 1 Pet. I. 20: [Greek: proegnosmenos men pro kataboles kosmou, phanerotheis de di' humas tous di' autou pistous eis theon ton egeiranta auton ek nekron kai doxan autoi donta, hoste ten pistin humon kai elpida einai eis theon].
[Footnote 452: These hints will have shewn that Paul's theory occupies a middle position between the Jewish and Greek ideas of pre-existence. In the canon, however, we have another group of writings which likewise gives evidence of a middle position with regard to the matter, I mean the Johannine writings. If we only possessed the prologue to the Gospel of John with its "[Greek: en arche en ho logos]," the "[Greek: panta di' autou egeneto]" and the "[Greek: ho logos sarx egeneto]" we could indeed point to nothing but Hellenic ideas. But the Gospel itself, as is well known, contains very much that must have astonished a Greek, and is opposed to the philosophical idea of the Logos. This occurs even in the thought, "[Greek: ho logos sarx egeneto]," which in itself is foreign to the Logos conception. Just fancy a proposition like the one in VI. 44, [Greek: oudeis dunatai elthein pros me, ean me ho pater ho pempsas me elkuse auton], or in V. 17. 21, engrafted on Philo's system, and consider the revolution it would have caused there. No doubt the prologue to some extent contains the themes set forth in the presentation that follows, but they are worded in such a way that one cannot help thinking the author wished to prepare Greek readers for the paradox he had to communicate to them, by adapting his prologue to their mode of thought. Under the altered conditions of thought which now prevail, the prologue appears to us the mysterious part, and the narrative that follows seems the portion that is relatively more intelligible. But to the original readers, if they were educated Greeks, the prologue must have been the part most easily understood. As nowadays a section on the nature of the Christian religion is usually prefixed to a treatise on dogmatics, in order to prepare and introduce the reader, so also the Johannine prologue seems to be intended as an introduction of this kind. It brings in conceptions which were familiar to the Greeks, in fact it enters into these more deeply than is justified by the presentation which follows; for the notion of the incarnate Logos is by no means the dominant one here. Though faint echoes of this idea may possibly be met with here and there in the Gospel—I confess I do not notice them—the predominating thought is essentially the conception of Christ as the Son of God, who obediently executes what the Father has shewn and appointed him. The works which he does are allotted to him, and he performs them in the strength of the Father. The whole of Christ's farewell discourses and the intercessory prayer evince no Hellenic influence and no cosmological speculation whatever, but shew the inner life of a man who knows himself to be one with God to a greater extent than any before him, and who feels the leading of men to God to be the task he had received and accomplished. In this consciousness he speaks of the glory he had with the Father before the world was (XVII. 4 f.; [Greek: ego se edoxasa epi tes ges, to ergon teleiosas ho dedokas moi hina poieso; kai nun doxason me su, pater, para seauto te doxe he eichon pro tou ton kosmon einai, para soi]). With this we must compare verses like III. 13: [Greek: oudeis anabebeken eis ton ouranon ei me ho ek tou ouranou katabas, ho huios tou anthropou], and III. 31: [Greek: ho anothen erchomenos epano panton estin. ho on ek tes ges ek tes ges estin kai ek tes ges lalei ho ek tou ouranou erchomenos epano panton estin] (see also I. 30: VI. 33, 38, 41 f. 50 f. 58, 62: VIII. 14, 58; XVII. 24). But though the pre-existence is strongly expressed in these passages, a separation of [Greek: pneuma (logos)] and [Greek: sarx] in Christ is nowhere assumed in the Gospel except in the prologue. It is always Christ's whole personality to which every sublime attribute is ascribed. The same one who "can do nothing of himself", is also the one who was once glorious and will yet be glorified. This idea, however, can still be referred to the [Greek: proegnosmenos pro kataboles kosmon], although it gives a peculiar [Greek: doxa] with God to him who was foreknown of God, and the oldest conception is yet to be traced in many expressions, as, for example, I. 31: [Greek: kago ouk edein auton, all' hina phanerothae to Israel dia touto elthon], V. 19: [Greek: ou duvatai ho uios poiein aph' eautou ouden an me ti blepe ton patera poiountai], V. 36: VIII. 38: [Greek: ha ego heoraka para to patri lalo], VIII. 40: [Greek: ten aletheian humin lelaleka hen ekousa para tou theou], XII. 49: XV. 15: [Greek: panta ha exousa para tou patros mou egnorisa humin.]]
[Footnote 453: This is indeed counterbalanced in the fourth Gospel by the thought of the complete community of love between the Father and the Son, and the pre-existence and descent of the latter here also tend to the glory of God. In the sentence "God so loved the world" etc., that which Paul describes in Phil. II. becomes at the same time an act of God, in fact the act of God. The sentence "God is love" sums up again all individual speculations, and raises them into a new and most exalted sphere.]
[Footnote 454: If it had been possible for speculation to maintain the level of the Fourth Gospel, nothing of that would have happened; but where were there theologians capable of this?]
Liturgy and the Origin of Dogma.
The reader has perhaps wondered why I have made so little reference to Liturgy in my description of the origin of dogma. For according to the most modern ideas about the history of religion and the origin of theology, the development of both may be traced in the ritual. Without any desire to criticise these notions, I think I am justified in asserting that this is another instance of the exceptional nature of Christianity. For a considerable period it possessed no ritual at all, and the process of development in this direction had been going on, or been completed, a long time before ritual came to furnish material for dogmatic discussion.
The worship in Christian Churches grew out of that in the synagogues, whereas there is no trace of its being influenced by the Jewish Temple service (Duchesne, Origines du Culte Chretien, p. 45 ff.). Its oldest constituents are accordingly prayer, reading of the scriptures, application of scripture texts, and sacred song. In addition to these we have, as specifically Christian elements, the celebration of the Lord's Supper, and the utterances of persons inspired by the Spirit. The latter manifestations, however, ceased in the course of the second century, and to some extent as early as its first half. The religious services in which a ritual became developed were prayer, the Lord's Supper and sacred song. The Didache had already prescribed stated formulae for prayer. The ritual of the Lord's Supper was determined in its main features by the memory of its institution. The sphere of sacred song remained the most unfettered, though here also, even at an early period—no later in fact than the end of the first and beginning of the second century—a fixed and a variable element were distinguished; for responsory hymns, as is testified by the Epistle of Pliny and the still earlier Book of Revelation, require to follow a definite arrangement. But the whole, though perhaps already fixed during the course of the second century, still bore the stamp of spirituality and freedom. It was really worship in spirit and in truth, and this and no other was the light in which the Apologists, for instance, regarded it. Ritualism did not begin to be a power in the Church till the end of the second century; though it had been cultivated by the "Gnostics" long before, and traces of it are found at an earlier period in some of the older Fathers, such as Ignatius.
Among the liturgical fragments still preserved to us from the first three centuries two strata may be distinguished. Apart from the responsory hymns in the Book of Revelation, which can hardly represent fixed liturgical pieces, the only portions of the older stratum in our possession are the Lord's Prayer, originating with Jesus himself and used as a liturgy, together with the sacramental prayers of the Didache. These prayers exhibit a style unlike any of the liturgical formulae of later times; the prayer is exclusively addressed to God, it returns thanks for knowledge and life; it speaks of Jesus the [Greek: pais theou] (Son of God) as the mediator; the intercession refers exclusively to the Church, and the supplication is for the gathering together of the Church, the hastening of the coming of the kingdom and the destruction of the world. No direct mention is made of the death and resurrection of Christ. These prayers are the peculiar property of the Christian Church. It cannot, however, be said that they exercised any important influence on the history of dogma. The thoughts contained in them perished in their specific shape; the measure of permanent importance they attained in a more general form, was not preserved to them through these prayers.
The second stratum of liturgical pieces dates back to the great prayer with which the first Epistle of Clement ends, for in many respects this prayer, though some expressions in it remind us of the older type ([Greek: dia tou egapemenou paidos sou Iesoun Christou], "through thy beloved son Jesus Christ "), already exhibits the characteristics of the later liturgy, as is shewn, for example, by a comparison of the liturgical prayer in the Constitutions of the Apostles (see Lightfoot's edition and my own). But this piece shews at the same time that the liturgical prayers, and consequently the liturgy also, sprang from those in the synagogue, for the similarity is striking. Here we find a connection resembling that which exists between the Jewish "Two Ways" and the Christian instruction of catechumens. If this observation is correct, it clearly explains the cautious use of historical and dogmatic material in the oldest liturgies—a precaution not to their disadvantage. As in the prayers of the synagogue, so also in Christian Churches, all sorts of matters were not submitted to God or laid bare before Him, but the prayers serve as a religious ceremony, that is, as adoration, petition and intercession. [Greek: Su ei ho theos monos kai Iesous Christos ho pais sou kai hemeis laos sou kai probata tes nomes sou], (thou art God alone and Jesus Christ is thy son, and we are thy people and the sheep of thy pasture). In this confession, an expressive Christian modification of that of the synagogue, the whole liturgical ceremony is epitomised. So far as we can assume and conjecture from the scanty remains of Ante-Nicene liturgy, the character of the ceremony was not essentially altered in this respect. Nothing containing a specific dogma or theological speculation was admitted. The number of sacred ceremonies, already considerable in the second century (how did they arise?), was still further increased in the third; but the accompanying words, so far as we know, expressed nothing but adoration, gratitude, supplication, and intercession. The relations expressed in the liturgy became more comprehensive, copious and detailed; but its fundamental character was not changed. The history of dogma in the first three centuries is not reflected in their liturgy.
The historical significance and position of Neoplatonism.
The political history of the ancient world ends with the Empire of Diocletian and Constantine, which has not only Roman and Greek, but also Oriental features. The history of ancient philosophy ends with the universal philosophy of Neoplatonism, which assimilated the elements of most of the previous systems, and embodied the result of the history of religion and civilisation in East and West. But as the Roman Byzantine Empire is at one and the same time a product of the final effort and the exhaustion of the ancient world, so also Neoplatonism is, on one side, the completion of ancient philosophy, and, on another, its abolition. Never before in the Greek and Roman theory of the world did the conviction of the dignity of man and his elevation above nature, attain so certain an expression as in Neoplatonism; and never before in the history of civilisation did its highest exponents, notwithstanding all their progress in inner observation, so much undervalue the sovereign significance of real science and pure knowledge as the later Neoplatonists did. Judged from the stand-point of pure science, of empirical knowledge of the world, the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle marks a momentous turning-point, the post-Aristotelian a retrogression, the Neoplatonic a complete declension. But judging from the stand-point of religion and morality, it must be admitted that the ethical temper which Neoplatonism sought to beget and confirm, was the highest and purest which the culture of the ancient world produced. This necessarily took place at the expense of science: for on the soil of polytheistic natural religions, the knowledge of nature must either fetter and finally abolish religion, or be fettered and abolished by religion. Religion and ethic, however, proved the stronger powers. Placed between these and the knowledge of nature, philosophy, after a period of fluctuation, finally follows the stronger force. Since the ethical itself, in the sphere of natural religions, is unhesitatingly conceived as a higher kind of "nature", conflict with the empirical knowledge of the world is unavoidable. The higher "physics", for that is what religious ethics is here, must displace the lower or be itself displaced. Philosophy must renounce its scientific aspect, in order that man's claim to a supernatural value of his person and life may be legitimised.
It is an evidence of the vigour of man's moral endowments that the only epoch of culture which we are able to survey in its beginnings, its progress, and its close, ended not with materialism, but with the most decided idealism. It is true that in its way this idealism also denotes a bankruptcy; as the contempt for reason and science, and these are contemned when relegated to the second place, finally leads to barbarism, because it results in the crassest superstition, and is exposed to all manner of imposture. And, as a matter of fact, barbarism succeeded the flourishing period of Neoplatonism. Philosophers themselves no doubt found their mental food in the knowledge which they thought themselves able to surpass; but the masses grew up in superstition, and the Christian Church, which entered on the inheritance of Neoplatonism, was compelled to reckon with that and come to terms with it. Just when the bankruptcy of the ancient civilisation and its lapse into barbarism could not have failed to reveal themselves, a kindly destiny placed on the stage of history barbarian nations, for whom the work of a thousand years had as yet no existence. Thus the fact is concealed, which, however, does not escape the eye of one who looks below the surface, that the inner history of the ancient world must necessarily have degenerated into barbarism of its own accord, because it ended with the renunciation of this world. There is no desire either to enjoy it, to master it, or to know it as it really is. A new world is disclosed for which everything is given up, and men are ready to sacrifice insight and understanding, in order to possess this world with certainty; and, in the light which radiates from the world to come, that which in this world appears absurd becomes wisdom, and wisdom becomes folly.
Such is Neoplatonism. The pre-Socratic philosophers, declared by the followers of Socrates to be childish, had freed themselves from theology, that is, the mythology of the poets, and constructed a philosophy from the observation of nature, without troubling themselves about ethics and religion. In the systems of Plato and Aristotle physics and ethics were to attain to their rights, though the latter no doubt already occupied the first place; theology, that is popular religion, continues to be thrust aside. The post-Aristotelian philosophers of all parties were already beginning to withdraw from the objective world. Stoicism indeed seems to fall back into the materialism that I prevailed before Plato and Aristotle; but the ethical dualism which dominated the mood of the Stoic philosophers, did not in the long run tolerate the materialistic physics; it sought and found help in the metaphysical dualism of the Platonists, and at the same time reconciled itself to the popular religion by means of allegorism, that is, it formed a new theology. But it did not result in permanent philosophic creations. A one-sided development of Platonism produced the various forms of scepticism which sought to abolish confidence in empirical knowledge. Neoplatonism, which came last, learned from all schools. In the first place, it belongs to the series of post-Aristotelian systems and, as the philosophy of the subjective, it is the logical completion of them. In the second place, it rests on scepticism; for it also, though not at the very beginning, gave up both confidence and pure interest in empirical knowledge. Thirdly, it can boast of the name and authority of Plato; for in metaphysics it consciously went back to him and expressly opposed the metaphysics of the Stoics. Yet on this very point it also learned something from the Stoics; for the Neoplatonic conception of the action of God on the world, and of the nature and origin of matter, can only be explained by reference to the dynamic pantheism of the Stoics. In other respects, especially in psychology, it is diametrically opposed to the Stoa, though superior. Fourthly, the study of Aristotle also had an influence on Neoplatonism. That is shewn not only in the philosophic methods of the Neoplatonists, but also, though in a subordinate way, in their metaphysics. Fifthly, the ethic of the Stoics was adopted by Neoplatonism, but this ethic necessarily gave way to a still higher view of the conditions of the spirit. Sixthly and finally, Christianity also, which Neoplatonism opposed in every form (especially in that of the Gnostic philosophy of religion), seems not to have been entirely without influence. On this point we have as yet no details, and these can only be ascertained by a thorough examination of the polemic of Plotinus against the Gnostics.
Hence, with the exception of Epicureanism, which Neoplatonism dreaded as its mortal enemy, every important system of former times was drawn upon by the new philosophy. But we should not on that account call Neoplatonism an eclectic system in the usual sense of the word. For in the first place, it had one pervading and all predominating interest, the religious; and in the second place, it introduced into philosophy a new supreme principle, the super-rational, or the super-essential. This principle should not be identified with the "Ideas" of Plato or the "Form" of Aristotle. For as Zeller rightly says: "In Plato and Aristotle the distinction of the sensuous and the intelligible is the strongest expression for belief in the truth of thought; it is only sensuous perception and sensuous existence whose relative falsehood they presuppose; but of a higher stage of spiritual life lying beyond idea and thought, there is no mention. In Neoplatonism, on the other hand, it is just this super-rational element which is regarded as the final goal of all effort, and the highest ground of all existence; the knowledge gained by thought is only an intermediate stage between sensuous perception and the super-rational intuition; the intelligible forms are not that which is highest and last, but only the media by which the influences of the formless original essence are communicated to the world. This view therefore presupposes not merely doubt of the reality of sensuous existence and sensuous notions, but absolute doubt, aspiration beyond all reality. The highest intelligible is not that which constitutes the real content of thought, but only that which is presupposed and earnestly desired by man as the unknowable ground of his thought." Neoplatonism recognised that a religious ethic can be built neither on sense-perception nor on knowledge gained by the understanding, and that it cannot be justified by these; it therefore broke both with intellectual ethics and with utilitarian morality. But for that very reason, having as it were parted with perception and understanding in relation to the ascertaining of the highest truth, it was compelled to seek for a new world and a new function in the human spirit, in order to ascertain the existence of what it desired, and to comprehend and describe that of which it had ascertained the existence. But man cannot transcend his psychological endowment. An iron ring incloses him. He who does not allow his thought to be determined by experience falls a prey to fancy, that is, thought, which cannot be suppressed, assumes a mythological aspect: superstition takes the place of reason, dull gazing at something incomprehensible is regarded as the highest goal of the spirit's efforts, and every conscious activity of the spirit is subordinated to visionary conditions artificially brought about. But that every conceit may not be allowed to assert itself, the gradual exploration of every region of knowledge according to every method of acquiring it, is demanded as a preliminary—the Neoplatonists did not make matters easy for themselves,—and a new and mighty principle is set up which is to bridle fancy, viz., the authority of a sure tradition. This authority must be superhuman, otherwise it would not come under consideration; it must therefore be divine. On divine disclosures, that is revelations, must rest both the highest super-rational region of knowledge and the possibility of knowledge itself. In a word, the philosophy which Neoplatonism represents, whose final interest is the religious, and whose highest object is the super-rational, must be a philosophy of revelation.
In the case of Plotinus himself and his immediate disciples, this does not yet appear plainly. They still shew confidence in the objective presuppositions of their philosophy, and have, especially in psychology, done great work and created something new. But this confidence vanishes in the later Neoplatonists. Porphyry, before he became a disciple of Plotinus, wrote a book [Greek: peri tes eklogion philosophia]; as a philosopher he no longer required the "[Greek: logia]." But the later representatives of the system sought for their philosophy revelations of the Godhead. They found them in the religious traditions and cults of all nations. Neoplatonism learned from the Stoics to rise above the political limits of nations and states, and to widen the Hellenic consciousness to a universally human one. The spirit of God has breathed throughout the whole history of the nations, and the traces of divine revelation are to be found everywhere. The older a religious tradition or cultus is, the more worthy of honour, the more rich in thoughts of God it is. Therefore the old Oriental religions are of special value to the Neoplatonists. The allegorical method of interpreting myths, which was practised by the Stoics in particular, was accepted by Neoplatonism also. But the myths, spiritually explained, have for this system an entirely different value from what they had for the Stoic philosophers. The latter adjusted themselves to the myths by the aid of allegorical explanation; the later Neoplatonists, on the other hand, (after a selection in which the immoral myths were sacrificed, see, e.g. Julian) regarded them as the proper material and sure foundation of philosophy. Neoplatonism claims to be not only the absolute philosophy, completing all systems, but, at the same time, the absolute religion, confirming and explaining all earlier religions. A rehabilitation of all ancient religions is aimed at (see the philosophic teachers of Julian and compare his great religious experiment); each was to continue in its traditional form, but, at the same time, each was to communicate the religious temper and the religious knowledge which Neoplatonism had attained, and each cultus is to lead to the high morality which it behoves man to maintain. In Neoplatonism the psychological fact of the longing of man for something higher, is exalted to the all-predominating principle which explains the world. Therefore the religions, though they are to be purified and spiritualised, become the foundation of philosophy. The Neoplatonic philosophy therefore presupposes the religious syncretism of the third century, and cannot be understood without it. The great forces which were half unconsciously at work in this syncretism, were reflectively grasped by Neoplatonism. It is the final fruit of the developments resulting from the political, national and religious syncretism which arose from the undertakings of Alexander the Great, and the Romans.