I. The contents of the faith of the disciples, and the common proclamation which united them, may be comprised in the following propositions. Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah promised by the prophets. Jesus after his death is by the Divine awakening raised to the right hand of God, and will soon return to set up his kingdom visibly upon the earth. He who believes in Jesus, and has been received into the community of the disciples of Jesus, who, in virtue of a sincere change of mind, calls on God as Father, and lives according to the commandments of Jesus, is a saint of God, and as such can be certain of the sin-forgiving grace of God, and of a share in the future glory, that is, of redemption.
A community of Christian believers was formed within the Jewish national community. By its organisation, the close brotherly union of its members, it bore witness to the impression which the Person of Jesus had made on it, and drew from faith in Jesus and hope of his return, the assurance of eternal life, the power of believing in God the Father and of fulfilling the lofty moral and social commands which Jesus had set forth. They knew themselves to be the true Israel of the Messianic time (see Sec. 1), and for that very reason lived with all their thoughts and feelings in the future. Hence the Apocalyptic hopes which in manifold types were current in the Judaism of the time, and which Jesus had not demolished, continued to a great extent in force (see Sec. 4). One guarantee for their fulfilment was supposed to be possessed in the various manifestations of the Spirit, which were displayed in the members of the new communities at their entrance, with which an act of baptism seems to have been united from the very first, and in their gatherings. They were a guarantee that believers really were the [Greek: ekklesia tou theou], those called to be saints, and, as such, kings and priests unto God for whom the world, death and devil are overcome, although they still rule the course of the world. The confession of the God of Israel as the Father of Jesus, and of Jesus as Christ and Lord was sealed by the testimony of the possession of the Spirit, which as Spirit of God assured every individual of his call to the kingdom, united him personally with God himself and became to him the pledge of future glory.
2. As the Kingdom of God which was announced had not yet visibly appeared, as the appeal to the Spirit could not be separated from the appeal to Jesus as Messiah, and as there was actually nothing possessed but the reality of the Person of Jesus, so in preaching all stress must necessarily fall on this Person. To believe in him was the decisive fundamental requirement, and, at first, under the presupposition of the religion of Abraham and the Prophets, the sure guarantee of salvation. It is not surprising then to find that in the earliest Christian preaching Jesus Christ comes before us as frequently as the Kingdom of God in the preaching of Jesus himself. The image of Jesus, and the power which proceeded from it, were the things which were really possessed. Whatever was expected was expected only from Jesus the exalted and returning one. The proclamation that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand must therefore become the proclamation that Jesus is the Christ, and that in him the revelation of God is complete. He who lays hold of Jesus lays hold in him of the grace of God, and of a full salvation. We cannot, however, call this in itself a displacement: but as soon as the proclamation that Jesus is the Christ ceased to be made with the same emphasis and the same meaning that it had in his own preaching, and what sort of blessings they were which he brought, not only was a displacement inevitable, but even a dispossession. But every dispossession requires the given forms to be filled with new contents. Simple as was the pure tradition of the confession: "Jesus is the Christ," the task of rightly appropriating and handing down entire the peculiar contents which Jesus had given to his self-witnessing and preaching was nevertheless great, and in its limit uncertain. Even the Jewish Christian could perform this task only according to the measure of his spiritual understanding and the strength of his religious life. Moreover, the external position of the first communities in the midst of contemporaries who had crucified and rejected Jesus, compelled them to prove, as their main duty, that Jesus really was the Messiah who was promised. Consequently, everything united to bring the first communities to the conviction that the proclamation of the Gospel with which they were entrusted, resolved itself into the proclamation that Jesus is the Christ. The [Greek: didaskein terein panta hota eneteilato ho Iesous] (teaching to observe all that Jesus had commanded), a thing of heart and life, could not lead to reflection in the same degree, as the [Greek: didaskein hoti outos estin ho christos tou theou] (teaching that this is the Christ of God): for a community which possesses the Spirit does not reflect on whether its conception is right, but, especially a missionary community, on what the certainty of its faith rests.
The proclamation of Jesus as the Christ, though rooted entirely in the Old Testament, took its start from the exaltation of Jesus, which again resulted from his suffering and death. The proof that the entire Old Testament points to him, and that his person, his deeds and his destiny are the actual and precise fulfilment of the Old Testament predictions, was the foremost interest of believers, so far as they at all looked backwards. This proof was not used in the first place for the purpose of making the meaning and value of the Messianic work of Jesus more intelligible, of which it did not seem to be in much need, but to confirm the Messiahship of Jesus. Still, points of view for contemplating the Person and work of Jesus could not fail to be got from the words of the Prophets. The fundamental conception of Jesus dominating everything was, according to the Old Testament, that God had chosen him and through him the Church. God had chosen him and made him to be both Lord and Christ. He had made over to him the work of setting up the Kingdom, and had led him through death and resurrection to a supra-mundane position of sovereignty, in which he would soon visibly appear and bring about the end. The hope of Christ's speedy return was the most important article in the "Christology," inasmuch as his work was regarded as only reaching its conclusion by that return. It was the most difficult, inasmuch as the Old Testament contained nothing of a second advent of Messiah. Belief in the second advent became the specific Christian belief.
But the searching in the scriptures of the Old Testament, that is, in the prophetic texts, had already, in estimating the Person and dignity of Christ, given an important impulse towards transcending the frame-work of the idea of the theocracy completed solely in and for Israel. Moreover, belief in the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of God, caused men to form a corresponding idea of the beginning of his existence. The missionary work among the Gentiles, so soon begun and so rich in results, threw a new light on the range of Christ's purpose and work, and led to the consideration of its significance for the whole human race. Finally, the self-testimony of Jesus summoned them to ponder his relation to God the Father, with the presuppositions of that relation, and to give it expression in intelligible statements. Speculation had already begun on these four points in the Apostolic age, and had resulted in very different utterances as to the Person and dignity of Jesus (Sec. 4).
3. Since Jesus had appeared and was believed on as the Messiah promised by the Prophets, the aim and contents of his mission seemed already to be therewith stated with sufficient clearness. Further, as the work of Christ was not yet completed, the view of those contemplating it was, above all, turned to the future. But in virtue of express words of Jesus, and in the consciousness of having received the Spirit of God, one was already certain of the forgiveness of sin dispensed by God, of righteousness before him, of the full knowledge of the Divine will, and of the call to the future Kingdom as a present possession. In the procuring of these blessings not a few perceived with certainty the results of the first advent of Messiah, that is, his work. This work might be seen in the whole activity of Christ. But as the forgiveness of sins might be conceived as the blessing of salvation which included with certainty every other blessing, as Jesus had put his death in express relation with this blessing, and as the fact of this death so mysterious and offensive required a special explanation, there appeared in the foreground from the very beginning the confession, in 1 Cor. XV. 3: [Greek: paredoxa humin en protois, ho kai parelabon, hoti christos apethanen huper ton hamartion hemon.] "I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins." Not only Paul, for whom, in virtue of his special reflections and experiences, the cross of Christ had become the central point of all knowledge, but also the majority of believers, must have regarded the preaching of the death of the Lord as an essential article in the preaching of Christ, seeing that, as a rule, they placed it somehow under the aspect of a sacrifice offered to God. Still, there were very different conceptions of the value of the death as a means of procuring salvation, and there may have been many who were satisfied with basing its necessity on the fact that it had been predicted, ([Greek: apethanen kata tas graphas]: "he died for our sins according to the scriptures"), while their real religious interests were entirely centered in the future glory to be procured by Christ. But it must have been of greater significance for the following period that, from the first, a short account of the destiny of Jesus lay at the basis of all preaching about him (see a part of this in 1 Cor. XV. 1-11). Those articles in which the identity of the Christ who had appeared with the Christ who had been promised stood out with special clearness, must have been taken up into this report, as well as those which transcended the common expectations of Messiah, which for that very reason appeared of special importance, viz., his death and resurrection. In putting together this report, there was no intention of describing the "work" of Christ. But after the interest which occasioned it had been obscured, and had given place to other interests, the customary preaching of those articles must have led men to see in them Christ's real performance, his "work."
4. The firm confidence of the disciples in Jesus was rooted in the belief that he did not abide in death, but was raised by God. That Christ had risen was, in virtue of what they had experienced in him, certainly only after they had seen him, just as sure as the fact of his death, and became the main article of their preaching about him. But in the message of the risen Lord was contained not only the conviction that he lives again, and now lives for ever, but also the assurance that his people will rise in like manner and live eternally. Consequently, the resurrection of Jesus became the sure pledge of the resurrection of all believers, that is of their real personal resurrection. No one at the beginning thought of a mere immortality of the spirit, not even those who assumed the perishableness of man's sensuous nature. In conformity with the uncertainty which yet adhered to the idea of resurrection in Jewish hopes and speculations, the concrete notions of it in the Christian communities were also fluctuating. But this could not affect the certainty of the conviction that the Lord would raise his people from death. This conviction, whose reverse side is the fear of that God who casts into hell, has become the mightiest power through which the Gospel has won humanity.
5. After the appearance of Paul, the earliest communities were greatly exercised by the question as to how believers obtain the righteousness which they possess, and what significance a precise observance of the law of the Fathers may have in connection with it. While some would hear of no change in the regulations and conceptions which had hitherto existed, and regarded the bestowal of righteousness by God as possible only on condition of a strict observance of the law, others taught that Jesus as Messiah had procured righteousness for his people, had fulfilled the law once for all, and had founded a new covenant, either in opposition to the old, or as a stage above it. Paul especially saw in the death of Christ the end of the law, and deduced righteousness solely from faith in Christ, and sought to prove from the Old Testament itself, by means of historical speculation, the merely temporary validity of the law and therewith the abrogation of the Old Testament religion. Others, and this view, which is not everywhere to be explained by Alexandrian influences (see above p. 72 f.), is not foreign to Paul, distinguished between spirit and letter in the Mosaic law, giving to everything a spiritual significance, and in this sense holding that the whole law as [Greek: nomos pneumatikos] was binding. The question whether righteousness comes from the works of the law or from faith, was displaced by this conception, and therefore remained in its deepest grounds unsolved, or was decided in the sense of a spiritualised legalism. But the detachment of Christianity from the political forms of the Jewish religion, and from sacrificial worship, was also completed by this conception, although it was regarded as identical with the Old Testament religion rightly understood. The surprising results of the direct mission to the Gentiles would seem to have first called forth those controversies (but see Stephen) and given them the highest significance. The fact that one section of Jewish Christians, and even some of the Apostles, at length recognised the right of the Gentile Christians to be Christians without first becoming Jews, is the clearest proof that what was above all prized was faith in Christ and surrender to him as the saviour. In agreeing to the direct mission to the Gentiles the earliest Christians, while they themselves observed the law, broke up the national religion of Israel, and gave expression to the conviction that Jesus was not only the Messiah of his people, but the redeemer of humanity. The establishment of the universal character of the Gospel, that is, of Christianity as a religion for the world, became now, however, a problem, the solution of which, as given by Paul, but few were able to understand or make their own.
6. In the conviction that salvation is entirely bound up with faith in Jesus Christ, Christendom gained the consciousness of being a new creation of God. But while the sense of being the true Israel was thereby, at the same time, held fast, there followed, on the one hand, entirely new historical perspectives, and on the other, deep problems which demanded solution. As a new creation of God, [Greek: he ekklesia tou theou], the community was conscious of having been chosen by God in Jesus before the foundation of the world. In the conviction of being the true Israel, it claimed for itself the whole historical development recorded in the Old Testament, convinced that all the divine activity there recorded had the new community in view. The great question which was to find very different answers, was how, in accordance with this view, the Jewish nation, so far as it had not recognised Jesus as Messiah, should be judged. The detachment of Christianity from Judaism was the most important preliminary condition, and therefore the most important preparation, for the Mission among the Gentile nations, and for union with the Greek spirit.
Supplement 1.—Renan and others go too far when they say that Paul alone has the glory of freeing Christianity from the fetters of Judaism. Certainly the great Apostle could say in this connection also: [Greek: perissoteron auton panton ekopiasa], but there were others beside him who, in the power of the Gospel, transcended the limits of Judaism. Christian communities, it may now be considered certain, had arisen in the empire, in Rome for example, which were essentially free from the law without being in any way determined by Paul's preaching. It was Paul's merit that he clearly formulated the great question, established the universalism of Christianity in a peculiar manner, and yet in doing so held fast the character of Christianity as a positive religion, as distinguished from Philosophy and Moralism. But the later development presupposes neither his clear formulation nor his peculiar establishment of universalism, but only the universalism itself.
Supplement 2.—The dependence of the Pauline Theology on the Old Testament or on Judaism is overlooked in the traditional contrasting of Paulinism and Jewish Christianity, in which Paulinism is made equivalent to Gentile Christianity. This theology, as we might a priori suppose, could, apart from individual exceptions, be intelligible as a whole to born Jews, if to any, for its doctrinal presuppositions were strictly Pharisaic, and its boldness in criticising the Old Testament, rejecting and asserting the law in its historical sense, could be as little congenial to the Gentile Christians as its piety towards the Jewish people. This judgment is confirmed by a glance at the fate of Pauline Theology in the 120 years that followed. Marcion was the only Gentile Christian who understood Paul, and even he misunderstood him: the rest never got beyond the appropriation of particular Pauline sayings, and exhibited no comprehension especially of the theology of the Apostle, so far as in it the universalism of Christianity as a religion is proved, even without recourse to Moralism and without putting a new construction on the Old Testament religion. It follows from this, however, that the scheme "Jewish Christianity"-"Gentile Christianity" is insufficient. We must rather, in the Apostolic age, at least at its close, distinguish four main tendencies that may have crossed each other here and there, (within which again different shades appear). (1) The Gospel has to do with the people of Israel, and with the Gentile world only on the condition that believers attach themselves to the people of Israel. The punctilious observance of the law is still necessary and the condition on which the messianic salvation is bestowed (particularism and legalism, in practice and in principle, which, however, was not to cripple the obligation to prosecute the work of the Mission). (2) The Gospel has to do with Jews and Gentiles: the first, as believers in Christ, are under obligation as before to observe the law, the latter are not; but for that reason they cannot on earth fuse into one community with the believing Jews. Very different judgments in details were possible on this stand-point; but the bestowal of salvation could no longer be thought of as depending simply on the keeping of the ceremonial commandments of the law (universalism in principle, particularism in practice; the prerogative of Israel being to some extent clung to). (3) The Gospel has to do with both Jews and Gentiles; no one is any longer under obligation to observe the law; for the law is abolished (or fulfilled), and the salvation which Christ's death has procured is appropriated by faith. The law (that is the Old Testament religion) in its literal sense is of divine origin, but was intended from the first only for a definite epoch of history. The prerogative of Israel remains, and is shewn in the fact that salvation was first offered to the Jews, and it will be shewn again at the end of all history. That prerogative refers to the nation as a whole, and has nothing to do with the question of the salvation of individuals (Paulinism: universalism in principle and in practice, and Antinomianism in virtue of the recognition of a merely temporary validity of the whole law; breach with the traditional religion of Israel; recognition of the prerogative of the people of Israel; the clinging to the prerogative of the people of Israel was not, however, necessary on this stand-point: see the epistle to the Hebrews and the Gospel of John). (4) The Gospel has to do with Jews and Gentiles: no one need therefore be under obligation to observe the ceremonial commandments and sacrificial worship, because these commandments themselves are only the wrappings of moral and spiritual commandments which the Gospel has set forth as fulfilled in a more perfect form (universalism in principle and in practice in virtue of a neutralising of the distinction between law and Gospel, old and new; spiritualising and universalising of the law).
Supplement 3.—The appearance of Paul is the most important fact in the history of the Apostolic age. It is impossible to give in a few sentences an abstract of his theology and work; and the insertion here of a detailed account is forbidden, not only by the external limits, but by the aim of this investigation. For, as already indicated (Sec. 1), the doctrinal formation in the Gentile Church is not connected with the whole phenomenon of the Pauline theology, but only with certain leading thoughts which were only in part peculiar to the Apostle. His most peculiar thoughts acted on the development of Ecclesiastical doctrine only by way of occasional stimulus. We can find room here only for a few general outlines.
(1) The inner conviction that Christ had revealed himself to him, that the Gospel was the message of the crucified and risen Christ, and that God had called him to proclaim that message to the world, was the power and the secret of his personality and his activity. These three elements were a unity in the consciousness of Paul, constituting his conversion and determining his after-life. (2) In this conviction he knew himself to be a new creature, and so vivid was this knowledge that he was constrained to become a Jew to the Jews, and a Greek to the Greeks in order to gain them. (3) The crucified and risen Christ became the central point of his theology, and not only the central point, but the one source and ruling principle. The Christ was not in his estimation Jesus of Nazareth now exalted, but the mighty personal spiritual being in divine form who had for a time humbled himself, and who as Spirit has broken up the world of law, sin, and death, and continues to overcome them in believers. (4) Theology therefore was to him, looking forwards, the doctrine of the liberating power of the Spirit (of Christ) in all the concrete relations of human life and need. The Christ who has already overcome law, sin and death, lives as Spirit, and through his Spirit lives in believers, who for that very reason know him not after the flesh. He is a creative power of life to those who receive him in faith in his redeeming death upon the cross, that is to say, to those who are justified. The life in the Spirit, which results from union with Christ, will at last reveal itself also in the body (not in the flesh). (5) Looking backwards, theology was to Paul a doctrine of the law and of its abrogation; or more accurately, a description of the old system before Christ in the light of the Gospel, and the proof that it was destroyed by Christ. The scriptural proof, even here, is only a superadded support to inner considerations which move entirely within the thought that that which is abrogated has already had its due, by having its whole strength made manifest that it might then be annulled,—the law, the flesh of sin, death: by the law the law is destroyed, sin is abolished in sinful flesh, death is destroyed by death. (6) The historical view which followed from this begins, as regards Christ, with Adam and Abraham; as regards the law, with Moses. It closes, as regards Christ, with the prospect of a time when he shall have put all enemies beneath his feet, when God will be all in all; as regards Moses and the promises given to the Jewish nation, with the prospect of a time when all Israel will be saved. (7) Paul's doctrine of Christ starts from the final confession of the primitive Church, that Christ is with the Father as a heavenly being and as Lord of the living and the dead. Though Paul must have accurately known the proclamation concerning the historical Christ, his theology in the strict sense of the word does not revert to it: but springing over the historical, it begins with the pre-existent Christ (the Man from heaven), whose moral deed it was to assume the flesh in self-denying love, in order to break for all men the powers of nature and the doom of death. But he has pointed to the words and example of the historical Christ in order to rule the life in the Spirit. (8) Deductions, proofs, and perhaps also conceptions, which in point of form betray the theology of the Pharisaic schools, were forced from the Apostle by Christian opponents, who would only grant a place to the message of the crucified Christ beside the [Greek: dikaiosune ex ergon]. Both as an exegete and as a typologist he appears as a disciple of the Pharisees. But his dialectic about law, circumcision and sacrifice, does not form the kernel of his religious mode of thought, though, on the other hand, it was unquestionably his very Pharisaism which qualified him for becoming what he was. Pharisaism embraced nearly everything lofty which Judaism apart from Christ at all possessed, and its doctrine of providence, its energetic insistence on making manifest the religious contrasts, its Messianic expectations, its doctrines of sin and predestination, were conditions for the genesis of a religious and Christian character such as Paul. This first Christian of the second generation is the highest product of the Jewish spirit under the creative power of the Spirit of Christ. Pharisaism had fulfilled its mission for the world when it produced this man. (9) But Hellenism also had a share in the making of Paul, a fact which does not conflict with his Pharisaic origin, but is partly given with it. In spite of all its exclusiveness the desire for making proselytes, especially in the Diaspora, was in the blood of Pharisaism. Paul continued the old movement in a new way, and he was qualified for his work among the Greeks by an accurate knowledge of the Greek translation of the Old Testament, by considerable dexterity in the use of the Greek language, and by a growing insight into the spiritual life of the Greeks. But the peculiarity of his Gospel as a message from the Spirit of Christ, which was equally near to and equally distant from every religious and moral mode of thought among the nations of the world, signified much more than all this. This Gospel—who can say whether Hellenism had already a share in its conception—required that the missionary to the Greeks should become a Greek and that believers should come to know, "all things are yours, and ye are Christ's." Paul, as no doubt other missionaries besides him, connected the preaching of Christ with the Greek mode of thought; he even employed philosophic doctrines of the Greeks as presuppositions in his apologetic, and therewith prepared the way for the introduction of the Gospel to the Graeco-Roman world of thought. But, in my opinion, he has nowhere allowed that world of thought to influence his doctrine of salvation. This doctrine, however, was so fashioned in its practical aims that it was not necessary to become a Jew in order to appropriate it. (10) Yet we cannot speak of any total effect of Paulinism, as there was no such thing. The abundance of its details was too great and the greatness of its simplicity too powerful, its hope of the future too vivid, its doctrine of the law too difficult, its summons to a new life in the spirit too mighty to be comprehended and adhered to even by those communities which Paul himself had founded. What they did comprehend was its Monotheism, its universalism, its redemption, its eternal life, its asceticism; but all this was otherwise combined than by Paul. The style became Hellenic, and the element of a new kind of knowledge from the very first, as in the Church of Corinth, seems to have been the ruling one. The Pauline doctrine of the incarnate heavenly Man was indeed apprehended; it fell in with Greek notions, although it meant something very different from the notions which Greeks had been able to form of it.
Supplement 4.—What we justly prize above all else in the New Testament is that it is a union of the three groups, Synoptic Gospels, Pauline Epistles, and Johannine writings, in which are expressed the richest contents of the earliest history of the Gospel. In the Synoptic Gospels and the epistles of Paul are represented two types of preaching the Gospel which mutually supplement each other. The subsequent history is dependent on both, and would have been other than it is had not both existed alongside of each other. On the other hand, the peculiar and lofty conception of Christ and of the Gospel, which stands out in the writings of John, has directly exercised no demonstrable influence on the succeeding development—with the exception of one peculiar movement, the Montanistic, which, however, does not rest on a true understanding of these writings—and indeed partly for the same reason that has prevented the Pauline theology as a whole from having such an influence. What is given in these writings is a criticism of the Old Testament as religion, or the independence of the Christian religion, in virtue of an accurate knowledge of the Old Testament through development of its hidden germs. The Old Testament stage of religion is really transcended and overcome in the Johannine Christianity, just as in Paulinism, and in the theology of the epistle to the Hebrews. "The circle of disciples who appropriated this characterisation of Jesus is," says Weizsaecker, "a revived Christ-party in the higher sense." But this transcending of the Old Testament religion was the very thing that was unintelligible, because there were few ripe for such a conception. Moreover, the origin of the Johannine writings is, from the stand-point of a history of literature and dogma, the most marvellous enigma which the early history of Christianity presents: Here we have portrayed a Christ who clothes the indescribable with words, and proclaims as his own self-testimony what his disciples have experienced in him, a speaking, acting, Pauline Christ, walking on the earth, far more human than the Christ of Paul and yet far more Divine, an abundance of allusions to the historical Jesus, and at the same time the most sovereign treatment of the history. One divines that the Gospel can find no loftier expression than John XVII.: one feels that Christ himself put these words into the mouth of the disciple, who gives them back to him, but word and thing, history and doctrine are surrounded by a bright cloud of the suprahistorical. It is easy to shew that this Gospel could as little have been written without Hellenism, as Luther's treatise on the freedom of a Christian man could have been written without the "Deutsche Theologie." But the reference to Philo and Hellenism is by no means sufficient here, as it does not satisfactorily explain even one of the external aspects of the problem. The elements operative in the Johannine theology were not Greek Theologoumena—even the Logos has little more in common with that of Philo than the name, and its mention at the beginning of the book is a mystery, not the solution of one—but the Apostolic testimony concerning Christ has created from the old faith of Psalmists and Prophets, a new faith in a man who lived with the disciples of Jesus among the Greeks. For that very reason, in spite of his abrupt Anti-judaism, we must without doubt regard the Author as a born Jew.
Supplement 5.—The authorities to which the Christian communities were subjected in faith and life, were these: (1) The Old Testament interpreted in the Christian sense. (2) The tradition of the Messianic history of Jesus. (3) The words of the Lord: see the epistles of Paul, especially 1 Corinthians. But every writing which was proved to have been given by the Spirit had also to be regarded as an authority, and every tested Christian Prophet and Teacher inspired by the Spirit could claim that his words be received and regarded as the words of God. Moreover, the twelve whom Jesus had chosen had a special authority, and Paul claimed a similar authority for himself ([Greek: diataxeis ton apostolon]). Consequently, there were numerous courts of appeal in the earliest period of Christendom, of diverse kinds and by no means strictly defined. In the manifold gifts of the spirit was given a fluid element indefinable in its range and scope, an element which guaranteed freedom of development, but which also threatened to lead the enthusiastic communities to extravagance.
Literature.—Weiss, Biblical Theology of the New Testament, 1884. Beyschlag, New Testament Theology, 1892. Ritschl, Entstehung der Alt-Katholischen Kirche, 2 Edit. 1857. Reuss, History of Christian Theology in the Apostolic Age, 1864. Baur, The Apostle Paul, 1866. Holsten, Zum Evangelium des Paulus und Petrus, 1868. Pfleiderer, Paulinism, 1873: also, Das Urchristenthum, 1887. Schenkel, Das Christusbild der Apostel, 1879. Renan, Origins of Christianity Vols. II.-IV. Havet, Le Christianisme et ses orig. T, IV. 1884. Lechler, The Apostolic and Post-Apostolic Age, 1885. Weizsaecker, The Apostolic Age, 1892. Hatch, Article "Paul" in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Everett, The Gospel of Paul. Boston, 1893. On the origin and earliest history of the Christian proofs from prophecy, see my "Texte und Unters. z. Gesch. der Alt-Christl." Lit. I. 3, p. 56 f.
Sec. 4. The Current Exposition of the Old Testament, and the Jewish hopes of the future, in their significance for the earliest types of Christian preaching.
Instead of the frequently very fruitless investigations about "Jewish-Christian," and "Gentile-Christian," it should be asked, What Jewish elements have been naturalised in the Christian Church, which were in no way demanded by the contents of the Gospel? have these elements been simply weakened in course of the development, or have some of them been strengthened by a peculiar combination with the Greek? We have to do here, in the first instance, with the doctrine of Demons and Angels, the view of history, the growing exclusiveness, the fanaticism; and on the other hand, with the cultus, and the Theocracy, expressing itself in forms of law.
1. Although Jesus had in principle abolished the methods of pedantry, the casuistic treatment of the law, and the subtleties of prophetic interpretation, yet the old Scholastic exegesis remained active in the Christian communities above all the unhistorical local method in the exposition of the Old Testament, both allegoristic and Haggadic; for in the exposition of a sacred text—and the Old Testament was regarded as such—one is always required to look away from its historical limitations and to expound it according to the needs of the present. The traditional view exercised its influence on the exposition of the Old Testament, as well as on the representations of the person, fate and deeds of Jesus, especially in those cases where the question was about the proof of the fulfilment of prophecy, that is, of the Messiahship of Jesus. (See above Sec. 3, 2). Under the impression made by the history of Jesus it gave to many Old Testament passages a sense that was foreign to them, and, on the other hand, enriched the life of Jesus with new facts, turning the interest at the same time to details which were frequently unreal and seldom of striking importance.
2. The Jewish Apocalyptic literature, especially as it flourished since the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, and was impregnated with new elements borrowed from an ethico-religious philosophy, as well as with Babylonian and Persian myths (Greek myths can only be detected in very small number), was not banished from the circles of the first professors of the Gospel, but was rather held fast, eagerly read, and even extended with the view of elucidating the promises of Jesus. Though their contents seem to have been modified on Christian soil, and especially the uncertainty about the person of the Messiah exalted to victory and coming to judgment, yet the sensuous earthly hopes were in no way repressed. Green fat meadows and sulphurous abysses, white horses and frightful beasts, trees of life, splendid cities, war and bloodshed filled the fancy, and threatened to obscure the simple and yet, at bottom, much more affecting maxims about the judgment which is certain to every individual soul, and drew the confessors of the Gospel into a restless activity, into politics, and abhorrence of the State. It was an evil inheritance which the Christians took over from the Jews, an inheritance which makes it impossible to reproduce with certainty the eschatological sayings of Jesus. Things directly foreign were mixed up with them, and, what was most serious, delineations of the hopes of the future could easily lead to the undervaluing of the most important gifts and duties of the Gospel.
3. A wealth of mythologies and poetic ideas was naturalised and legitimised in the Christian communities, chiefly by the reception of the Apocalyptic literature, but also by the reception of artificial exegesis and Haggada. Most important for the following period were the speculations about Messiah, which were partly borrowed from expositions of the Old Testament and from the Apocalypses, partly formed independently, according to methods the justice of which no one contested, and the application of which seemed to give a firm basis to religious faith.
Some of the Jewish Apocalyptists had already attributed pre-existence to the expected Messiah, as to other precious things in the Old Testament history and worship, and, without any thought of denying his human nature, placed him as already existing before his appearing in a series of angelic beings. This took place in accordance with an established method of speculation, so far as an attempt was made thereby to express the special value of an empiric object, by distinguishing between the essence and the inadequate form of appearance, hypostatising the essence, and exalting it above time and space. But when a later appearance was conceived as the aim of a series of preparations, it was frequently hypostatised and placed above these preparations even in time. The supposed aim was, in a kind of real existence, placed, as first cause, before the means which were destined to realise it on earth.
Some of the first confessors of the Gospel, though not all the writers of the New Testament, in accordance with the same method, went beyond the declarations which Jesus himself had made about his person, and endeavoured to conceive its value and absolute significance abstractly and speculatively. The religious convictions (see Sec. 3. 2): (1) That the founding of the Kingdom of God on earth, and the mission of Jesus as the perfect mediator, were from eternity based on God's plan of Salvation, as his main purpose; (2) that the exalted Christ was called into a position of Godlike Sovereignty belonging to him of right; (3) that God himself was manifested in Jesus, and that he therefore surpasses all mediators of the Old Testament, nay, even all angelic powers,—these convictions with some took the form that Jesus pre-existed, and that in him has appeared and taken flesh a heavenly being fashioned like God, who is older than the world, nay, its creative principle. The conceptions of the old Teachers, Paul, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Apocalypse, the author of the first Epistle of Peter, the fourth Evangelist, differ in many ways when they attempt to define these convictions more closely. The latter is the only one who has recognised with perfect clearness that the premundane Christ must be assumed to be [Greek: theos hon en arche pros ton theon], so as not to endanger by this speculation the contents and significance of the revelation of God which was given in Christ. This, in the earliest period, was essentially a religious problem, that is, it was not introduced for the explanation of cosmological problems, (see, especially, Epistle to the Ephesians, I Peter; but also the Gospel of John), and there stood peacefully beside it, such conceptions as recognised the equipment of the man Jesus for his office in a communication of the Spirit at his baptism, or in virtue of Isaiah VII., found the germ of his unique nature in his miraculous origin. But as soon as that speculation was detached from its original foundation, it necessarily withdrew the minds of believers from the consideration of the work of Christ, and from the contemplation of the revelation of God which was given in the ministry of the historical person Jesus. The mystery of the person of Jesus in itself, would then necessarily appear as the true revelation.
A series of theologoumena and religious problems for the future doctrine of Christianity lay ready in the teaching of the Pharisees and in the Apocalypses (see especially the fourth book of Ezra), and was really fitted for being of service to it; e.g., doctrines about Adam, universal sinfulness, the fall, predestination, Theodicy, etc., besides all kinds of ideas about redemption. Besides these spiritual doctrines there were not a few spiritualised myths which were variously made use of in the Apocalypses. A rich, spiritual, figurative style, only too rich and therefore confused, waited for the theological artist to purify, reduce and vigorously fashion. There really remained very little of the Cosmico-Mythological in the doctrine of the great Church.
Supplement.—The reference to the proof from prophecy, to the current exposition of the Old Testament, the Apocalyptic and the prevailing methods of speculation, does not suffice to explain all the elements which are found in the different types of Christian preaching. We must rather bear in mind here that the earliest communities were enthusiastic, and had yet among them prophets and ecstatic persons. Such circumstances will always directly produce facts in the history. But, in the majority of cases, it is absolutely impossible to account subsequently for the causes of such productions, because their formation is subject to no law accessible to the understanding. It is therefore inadmissible to regard as proved the reality of what is recorded and believed to be a fact, when the motive and interest which led to its acceptance can no longer be ascertained.
Moreover, if we consider the conditions, outer and inner, in which the preaching of Christ in the first decades was placed, conditions which in every way threatened the Gospel with extravagance, we shall only see cause to wonder that it continued to shine forth amid all its wrappings. We can still, out of the strangest "fulfilments", legends and mythological ideas, read the religious conviction that the aim and goal of history is disclosed in the history of Christ, and that the Divine has now entered into history in a pure form.
Literature.—The Apocalypses of Daniel, Enoch, Moses, Baruch, Ezra; Schuerer, History of the Jewish People in the time of Christ; Baldensperger, in the work already mentioned. Weber, System der Altsynagogalen palaestinischen Theologie, 1880, Kuenen, Hibbert Lectures, 1883. Hilgenfeld, Die juedische Apokalyptik, 1857. Wellhausen, Sketch of the History of Israel and Judah, 1887. Diestel, Gesch. des A. T. in der Christl. Kirche, 1869. Other literature in Schuerer. The essay of Hellwag in the Theol. Jahrb. von Baur and Zeller, 1848, "Die Vorstellung von der Praeexistenz Christi in der aeltesten Kirche", is worth noting; also Joel, Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte zu Anfang des 2 Christl. Jahrhunderts, 1880-1883.
Sec. 5. The Religious Conceptions and the Religious Philosophy of the Hellenistic Jews, in their significance for the later formulation of the Gospel.
1. From the remains of the Jewish Alexandrian literature and the Jewish Sibylline writings, also from the work of Josephus, and especially from the great propaganda of Judaism in the Graeco-Roman world, we may gather that there was a Judaism in the Diaspora, for the consciousness of which the cultus and ceremonial law were of comparatively subordinate importance; while the monotheistic worship of God, apart from images, the doctrines of virtue and belief in a future reward beyond the grave, stood in the foreground as its really essential marks. Converted Gentiles were no longer everywhere required to be even circumcised; the bath of purification was deemed sufficient. The Jewish religion here appears transformed into a universal human ethic and a monotheistic cosmology. For that reason, the idea of the Theocracy as well as the Messianic hopes of the future faded away or were uprooted. The latter, indeed, did not altogether pass away; but as the oracles of the Prophets were made use of mainly for the purpose of proving the antiquity and certainty of monotheistic belief, the thought of the future was essentially exhausted in the expectation of the dissolution of the Roman empire, the burning of the world, and the eternal recompense. The specific Jewish element, however, stood out plainly in the assertion that the Old Testament, and especially the books of Moses, were the source of all true knowledge of God, and the sum total of all doctrines of virtue for the nations, as well as in the connected assertion that the religious and moral culture of the Greeks was derived from the Old Testament, as the source from which the Greek Poets and Philosophers had drawn their inspiration.
These Jews and the Greeks converted by them formed, as it were, a Judaism of a second order without law, i.e., ceremonial law, and with a minimum of statutory regulations. This Judaism prepared the soil for the Christianising of the Greeks, as well as for the genesis of a great Gentile Church in the empire, free from the law; and this the more that, as it seems, after the second destruction of Jerusalem, the punctilious observance of the law was imposed more strictly than before on all who worshipped the God of the Jews.
The Judaism just portrayed, developed itself, under the influence of the Greek culture with which it came in contact, into a kind of Cosmopolitanism. It divested itself, as religion, of all national forms, and exhibited itself as the most perfect expression of that "natural" religion which the stoics had disclosed. But in proportion as it was enlarged and spiritualised to a universal religion for humanity, it abandoned what was most peculiar to it, and could not compensate for that loss by the assertion of the thesis that the Old Testament is the oldest and most reliable source of that natural religion, which in the traditions of the Greeks had only witnesses of the second rank. The vigour and immediateness of the religious feeling was flattened down to a moralism, the barrenness of which drove some Jews even into Gnosis, mysticism and asceticism.
2. The Jewish Alexandrian philosophy of religion, of which Philo gives us the clearest conception, is the scientific theory which corresponded to this religious conception. The theological system which Philo, in accordance with the example of others, gave out as the Mosaic system revealed by God, and proved from the Old Testament by means of the allegoric exegetic method, is essentially identical with the system of Stoicism, which had been mixed with Platonic elements and had lost its Pantheistic materialistic impress. The fundamental idea from which Philo starts is a Platonic one; the dualism of God and the world, spirit and matter. The idea of God itself is therefore abstractly and negatively conceived (God, the real substance which is not finite), and has nothing more in common with the Old Testament conception. The possibility, however, of being able to represent God as acting on matter, which as the finite is the non-existent, and therefore the evil, is reached, with the help of the Stoic [Greek: logos] as working powers and of the Platonic doctrine of archetypal ideas, and in outward connection with the Jewish doctrine of angels and the Greek doctrine of demons, by the introduction of intermediate spiritual beings which, as personal and impersonal powers proceeding from God, are to be thought of as operative causes and as Archetypes. All these beings are, as it were, comprehended in the Logos. By the Logos Philo understands the operative reason of God, and consequently also the power of God. The Logos is to him the thought of God and at the same time the product of his thought, therefore both idea and power. But further, the Logos is God himself on that side of him which is turned to the world, as also the ideal of the world and the unity of the spiritual forces which produce the world and rule in it. He can therefore be put beside God and in opposition to the world; but he can also, so far as the spiritual contents of the world are comprehended in him, be put with the world in contrast with God. The Logos accordingly appears as the Son of God, the foremost creature, the representative, Viceroy, High Priest, and Messenger of God; and again as principle of the world, spirit of the world, nay, as the world itself. He appears as a power and as a person, as a function of God and as an active divine being. Had Philo cancelled the contradiction which lies in this whole conception of the Logos, his system would have been demolished; for that system with its hard antithesis of God and the world, needed a mediator who was, and yet was not God, as well as world. From this contrast, however, it further followed that we can only think of a world-formation by the Logos, not of a world-creation. Within this world man is regarded as a microcosm, that is, as a being of Divine nature according to his spirit, who belongs to the heavenly world, while the adhering body is a prison which holds men captive in the fetters of sense, that is, of sin.
The Stoic and Platonic ideals and rules of conduct (also the Neo-pythagorean) were united by Philo in the religious Ethic as well as in the Cosmology. Rationalistic moralism is surmounted by the injunction to strive after a higher good lying above virtue. But here, at the same time, is the point at which Philo decidedly goes beyond Platonism, and introduces a new thought into Greek Ethics, and also in correspondence therewith into theoretic philosophy. This thought, which indeed lay altogether in the line of the development of Greek philosophy, was not, however, pursued by Philo into all its consequences, though it was the expression of a new frame of mind. While the highest good is resolved by Plato and his successors into knowledge of truth, which truth, together with the idea of God, lies in a sphere really accessible to the intellectual powers of the human spirit, the highest good, the Divine original being, is considered by Philo, though not invariably, to be above reason, and the power of comprehending it is denied to the human intellect. This assumption, a concession which Greek speculation was compelled to make to positive religion for the supremacy which was yielded to it, was to have far-reaching consequences in the future. A place was now for the first time provided in philosophy for a mythology to be regarded as revelation. The highest truths which could not otherwise be reached, might be sought for in the oracles of the Deity; for knowledge resting on itself had learnt by experience its inability to attain to the truth in which blessedness consists. In this very experience the intellectualism of Greek Ethics was, not indeed cancelled, but surmounted. The injunction to free oneself from sense and strive upwards by means of knowledge, remained; but the wings of the thinking mind bore it only to the entrance of the sanctuary. Only ecstasy produced by God himself was able to lead to the reality above reason. The great novelties in the system of Philo, though in a certain sense the way had already been prepared for them, are the introduction of the idea of a philosophy of revelation and the advance beyond the absolute intellectualism of Greek philosophy, an advance based on scepticism, but also on the deep-felt needs of life. Only the germs of these are found in Philo, but they are already operative. They are innovations of world-wide importance: for in them the covenant between the thoughts of reason on the one hand, and the belief in revelation and mysticism on the other, is already so completed that neither by itself could permanently maintain the supremacy. Thought about the world was henceforth dependent, not only on practical motives, it is always that, but on the need of a blessedness and peace which is higher than all reason. It might, perhaps, be allowable to say that Philo was the first who, as a philosopher, plainly expressed that need, just because he was not only a Greek, but also a Jew.
Apart from the extremes into which the ethical counsels of Philo run, they contain nothing that had not been demanded by philosophers before him. The purifying of the affections, the renunciation of sensuality, the acquisition of the four cardinal virtues, the greatest possible simplicity of life, as well as a cosmopolitan disposition are enjoined. But the attainment of the highest morality by our own strength is despaired of, and man is directed beyond himself to God's assistance. Redemption begins with the spirit reflecting on its own condition; it advances by a knowledge of the world and of the Logos, and it is perfected, after complete asceticism, by mystic ecstatic contemplation in which a man loses himself, but in return is entirely filled and moved by God. In this condition man has a foretaste of the blessedness which shall be given him when the soul, freed from the body, will be restored to its true existence as a heavenly being.
This system, notwithstanding its appeal to revelation, has, in the strict sense of the word, no place for Messianic hopes, of which nothing but very insignificant rudiments are found in Philo. But he was really animated by the hope of a glorious time to come for Judaism. The synthesis of the Messiah and the Logos did not lie within his horizon.
3. Neither Philo's philosophy of religion, nor the mode of thought from which it springs, exercised any appreciable influence on the first generation of believers in Christ. But its practical ground-thoughts, though in different degrees, must have found admission very early into the Jewish Christian circles of the Diaspora, and through them to Gentile Christian circles also. Philo's philosophy of religion became operative among Christian teachers from the beginning of the second century, and at a later period actually obtained the significance of a standard of Christian theology, Philo gaining a place among Christian writers. The systems of Valentinus and Origen presuppose that of Philo. It can no longer, however, be shewn with certainty how far the direct influence of Philo reached, as the development of religious ideas in the second century took a direction which necessarily led to views similar to those which Philo had anticipated (see Sec. 6, and the whole following account).
Supplement.—The hermeneutic principles (the "Biblicalalchemy"), above all, became of the utmost importance for the following period. These were partly invented by Philo himself, partly traditional,—the Haggadic rules of exposition and the hermeneutic principles of the Stoics having already at an earlier period been united in Alexandria. They fall into two main classes; "first, those according to which the literal sense is excluded, and the allegoric proved to be the only possible one, and then, those according to which the allegoric sense is discovered as standing beside and above the literal sense." That these rules permitted the discovery of a new sense by minute changes within a word, was a point of special importance. Christian teachers went still further in this direction, and, as can be proved, altered the text of the Septuagint in order to make more definite what suggested itself to them as the meaning of a passage, or in order to give a satisfactory meaning to a sentence which appeared to them unmeaning or offensive. Nay, attempts were not wanting among Christians in the second century—they were aided by the uncertainty that existed about the extent of the Septuagint, and by the want of plain predictions about the death upon the cross—to determine the Old Testament canon in accordance with new principles; that is, to alter the text on the plea that the Jews had corrupted it, and to insert new books into the Old Testament, above all, Jewish Apocalypses revised in a Christian sense. Tertullian (de cultu fem. I. 3,) furnishes a good example of the latter. "Scio scipturam Enoch, quae hunc ordinem angelis dedit, non recipi a quibusdam, quia nee in armorium Judaicum admittitur ... sed cum Enoch eadem scriptura etiam de domino praedicarit, a nobis quidem nihil omnino reiciendum est quod pertinet ad nos. Et legimus omnem scripturam aedificationi habilem divinitus inspirari. A Judaeis potest jam videri propterea reiecta, sicut et cetera fere quae Christum sonant.... Eo accedit quod Enoch apud Judam apostolum testimonium possidet." Compare also the history of the Apocalypse of Ezra in the Latin Bible (Old Testament). Not only the genuine Greek portions of the Septuagint, but also many Apocalypses were quoted by Christians in the second century as of equal value with the Old Testament. It was the New Testament that slowly put an end to these tendencies towards the formation of a Christian Old Testament.
To find the spiritual meaning of the sacred text, partly beside the literal, partly by excluding it, became the watchword for the "scientific" Christian theology which was possible only on this basis, as it endeavoured to reduce the immense and dissimilar material of the Old Testament to unity with the Gospel, and both with the religious and scientific culture of the Greeks,—yet without knowing a relative standard, the application of which would alone have rendered possible in a loyal way the solution of the task. Here, Philo was the master; for he first to a great extent poured the new wine into old bottles. Such a procedure is warranted by its final purpose; for history is a unity. But applied in a pedantic and stringently dogmatic way it is a source of deception, of untruthfulness, and finally of total blindness.
Literature.—Gefroerer, Das Jahr des Heils, 1838. Parthey, Das Alexandr. Museum, 1838. Matter, Hist. de l'ecole d'Alex. 1840. Daehne, Gesch. Darstellung der jued.-alex. Religions-philos. 1834. Zeller, Die Philosophie der Griechen, III. 2. 3rd Edition. Mommsen, History of Rome, Vol. V. Siegfried, Philo von Alex. 1875. Massebieau, Le Classement des Oeuvres de Philon. 1889. Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek, 1889. Drummond, Philo Judaeus, 1888. Bigg, The Christian Platonists of Alexandria, 1886. Schuerer, History of the Jewish People. The investigations of Freudenthal (Hellenistische Studien), and Bernays (Ueber das phokylideische Gedicht; Theophrastos' Schrift ueber Froemmigkeit; Die heraklitischen Briefe). Kuenen, Hibbert Lectures: "Christian Theology could have made and has made much use of Hellenism. But the Christian religion cannot have sprung from this source." Havet thinks otherwise, though in the fourth volume of his "Origines" he has made unexpected admissions.
Sec. 6. The Religious Dispositions of the Greeks and Romans in the first two centuries, and the current Graeco-Roman Philosophy of Religion.
1. After the national religion and the religious sense generally in cultured circles had been all but lost in the age of Cicero and Augustus, there is noticeable in the Graeco-Roman world from the beginning of the second century a revival of religious feeling which embraced all classes of society, and appears, especially from the middle of that century, to have increased from decennium to decennium. Parallel with it went the not altogether unsuccessful attempt to restore the old national worship, religious usages, oracles, etc. In these attempts, however, which were partly superficial and artificial, the new religious needs found neither vigorous nor clear expression. These needs rather sought new forms of satisfaction corresponding to the wholly changed conditions of the time, including intercourse and mixing of the nations; decay of the old republican orders, divisions and ranks; monarchy and absolutism and social crises; pauperism; influence of philosophy on the domain of public morality and law; cosmopolitanism and the rights of man; influx of Oriental cults into the West; knowledge of the world and disgust with it. The decay of the old political cults and syncretism produced a disposition in favour of monotheism both among the cultured classes who had been prepared for it by philosophy, and also gradually among the masses. Religion and individual morality became more closely connected. There was developed a corresponding attempt at spiritualising the worship alongside of and within the ceremonial forms, and at giving it a direction towards the moral elevation of man through the ideas of moral personality, conscience, and purity. The ideas of repentance and of expiation and healing of the soul became of special importance, and consequently such Oriental cults came to the front as required the former and guaranteed the latter. But what was sought above all, was to enter into an inner union with the Deity, to be saved by him and become a partaker in the possession and enjoyment of his life. The worshipper consequently longed to find a "praesens numen" and the revelation of him in the cultus, and hoped to put himself in possession of the Deity by asceticism and mysterious rites. This new piety longed for health and purity of soul, and elevation above earthly things, and in connection with these a divine, that is, a painless and eternal life beyond the grave ("renatus in aeternum taurobolio"). A world beyond was desired, sought for and viewed with an uncertain eye. By detachment from earthly things and the healing of its diseases (the passions) the freed, new born soul should return to its divine nature and existence. It is not a hope of immortality such as the ancients had dreamed of for their heroes, where they continue, as it were, their earthly existence in blessed enjoyment. To the more highly pitched self-consciousness this life had become a burden, and in the miseries of the present, one hoped for a future life in which the pain and vulgarity of the unreal life of earth would be completely laid aside ([Greek: Enkrateia] and [Greek: anastasis]). If the new moralistic feature stood out still more emphatically in the piety of the second century, it vanished more and more behind the religious feature, the longing after life and after a Redeemer God. No one could any longer be a God who was not also a saviour.
With all this Polytheism was not suppressed, but only put into a subordinate place. On the contrary, it was as lively and active as ever. For the idea of a numen supremum did not exclude belief in the existence and manifestation of subordinate deities. Apotheosis came into currency. The old state religion first attained its highest and most powerful expression in the worship of the emperor, (the emperor glorified as "dominus ac deus noster", as "praesens et corporalis deus", the Antinous cult, etc.)., and in many circles an incarnate ideal in the present or the past was sought, which might be worshipped as revealer of God and as God, and which might be an example of life and an assurance of religious hope. Apotheosis became less offensive in proportion as, in connection with the fuller recognition of the spiritual dignity of man, the estimate of the soul, the spirit, as of supramundane nature, and the hope of its eternal continuance in a form of existence befitting it, became more general. That was the import of the message preached by the Cynics and the Stoics, that the truly wise man is Lord, Messenger of God, and God upon the earth. On the other hand, the popular belief clung to the idea that the gods could appear and be visible in human form, and this faith, though mocked by the cultured, gained numerous adherents, even among them, in the age of the Antonines.
The new thing which was here developed, continued to be greatly obscured by the old forms of worship which reasons of state and pious custom maintained. And the new piety, dispensing with a fixed foundation, groped uncertainly around, adapting the old rather than rejecting it. The old religious practices of the Fathers asserted themselves in public life generally, and the reception of new cults by the state, which was certainly effected, though with many checks, did not disturb them. The old religious customs stood out especially on state holidays, in the games in honour of the Gods, frequently degenerating into shameless immorality, but yet protecting the institutions of the state. The patriot, the wise man, the sceptic, and the pious man compounded with them, for they had not really at bottom outgrown them, and they knew of nothing better to substitute for the services they still rendered to society (see the [Greek: logos alethes] of Celsus).
2. The system of associations, naturalised centuries before among the Greeks, was developed under the social and political pressure of the empire, and was greatly extended by the change of moral and religious ideas. The free unions, which, as a rule, had a religious element and were established for mutual help, support, or edification, balanced to some extent the prevailing social cleavage, by a free democratic organisation. They gave to many individuals in their small circle the rights which they did not possess in the great world, and were frequently of service in obtaining admission for new cults. Even the new piety and cosmopolitan disposition seem to have turned to them in order to find within them forms of expression. But the time had not come for the greater corporate unions, and of an organised connection of societies in one city with those of another we know nothing. The state kept these associations under strict control. It granted them only to the poorest classes (collegia tenuiorum) and had the strictest laws in readiness for them. These free unions, however, did not in their historical importance approach the fabric of the Roman state in which they stood. That represented the union of the greater part of humanity under one head, and also more and more under one law. Its capital was the capital of the world, and also, from the beginning of the third century, of religious syncretism. Hither migrated all who desired to exercise an influence on the great scale: Jew, Chaldean, Syrian priest, and Neoplatonic teacher. Law and Justice radiated from Rome to the provinces, and in their light nationalities faded away, and a cosmopolitanism was developed which pointed beyond itself, because the moral spirit can never find its satisfaction in that which is realised. When that spirit finally turned away from all political life, and after having laboured for the ennobling of the empire, applied itself, in Neoplatonism, to the idea of a new and free union of men, this certainly was the result of the felt failure of the great creation, but it nevertheless had that creation for its presupposition. The Church appropriated piecemeal the great apparatus of the Roman state, and gave new powers, new significance and respect to every article that had been depreciated. But what is of greatest importance is that the Church by her preaching would never have gained whole circles, but only individuals, had not the universal state already produced a neutralising of nationalities and brought men nearer each other in temper and disposition.
3. Perhaps the most decisive factor in bringing about the revolution of religious and moral convictions and moods, was philosophy, which in almost all its schools and representatives, had deepened ethics, and set it more and more in the foreground. After Possidonius, Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius of the Stoical school, and men like Plutarch of the Platonic, attained to an ethical view, which, though not very clear in principle (knowledge, resignation, trust in God), is hardly capable of improvement in details. Common to them all, as distinguished from the early Stoics, is the value put upon the soul, (not the entire human nature), while in some of them there comes clearly to the front a religious mood, a longing for divine help, for redemption and a blessed life beyond the grave, the effort to obtain and communicate a religious philosophical therapeutic of the soul. From the beginning of the second century, however, already announced itself that eclectic philosophy based on Platonism which after two or three generations appeared in the form of a school, and after three generations more was to triumph over all other schools. The several elements of the Neoplatonic philosophy, as they were already foreshadowed in Philo, are clearly seen in the second century, viz., the dualistic opposition of the divine and the earthly, the abstract conception of God, the assertion of the unknowableness of God, scepticism with regard to sensuous experience, and distrust with regard to the powers of the understanding, with a greater readiness to examine things and turn to account the result of former scientific labour; further, the demand of emancipation from sensuality by means of asceticism, the need of authority, belief in a higher revelation, and the fusion of science and religion. The legitimising of religious fancy in the province of philosophy was already begun. The myth was no longer merely tolerated and re-interpreted as formerly, but precisely the mythic form with the meaning imported into it was the precious element. There were, however, in the second century numerous representatives of every possible philosophic view. To pass over the frivolous writers of the day, the Cynics criticised the traditional mythology in the interests of morality and religion. But there were also men who opposed the "ne quid nimis" to every form of practical scepticism, and to religion at the same time, and were above all intent on preserving the state and society, and on fostering the existing arrangements which appeared to be threatened far more by an intrusive religious than by a nihilistic philosophy. Yet men whose interest was ultimately practical and political, became ever more rare, especially as from the death of Marcus Aurelius, the maintenance of the state had to be left more and more to the sword of the Generals. The general conditions from the end of the second century were favourable to a philosophy which no longer in any respect took into real consideration the old forms of the state.
The theosophic philosophy which was prepared for in the second century, was, from the stand-point of enlightenment and knowledge of nature, a relapse: but it was the expression of a deeper religious need, and of a self-knowledge such as had not been in existence at an earlier period. The final consequences of that revolution in philosophy which made consideration of the inner life the starting-point of thought about the world, only now began to be developed. The ideas of a divine, gracious providence, of the relationship of all men, of universal brotherly love, of a ready forgiveness of wrong, of forbearing patience, of insight into one's own weakness—affected no doubt with many shadows—became, for wide circles, a result of the practical philosophy of the Greeks as well as, the conviction of inherent sinfulness, the need of redemption, and the eternal value and dignity of a human soul which finds rest only in God. These ideas, convictions and rules, had been picked up in the long journey from Socrates to Ammonius Saccas: at first, and for long afterwards, they crippled the interest in a rational knowledge of the world; but they deepened and enriched the inner life, and therewith the source of all knowledge. Those ideas, however, lacked as yet the certain coherence, but, above all, the authority which could have raised them above the region of wishes, presentiments, and strivings, and have given them normative authority in a community of men. There was no sure revelation, and no view of history which could be put in the place of the no longer prized political history of the nation or state to which one belonged. There was, in fact, no such thing as certainty. In like manner, there was no power which might overturn idolatry and abolish the old, and therefore one did not get beyond the wavering between self-deification, fear of God, and deification of nature. The glory is all the greater of those statesmen and jurists who, in the second and third centuries, introduced human ideas of the Stoics into the legal arrangements of the empire, and raised them to standards. And we must value all the more the numerous undertakings and performances, in which it appeared that the new view of life was powerful enough in individuals to beget a corresponding practice even without a sure belief in revelation.
Supplement.—For the correct understanding of the beginning of Christian theology, that is, for the Apologetic and Gnosis, it is important to note where they are dependent on Stoic, and where on Platonic lines of thought. Platonism and Stoicism, in the second century, appeared in union with each other: but up to a certain point they may be distinguished in the common channel in which they flow. Wherever Stoicism prevailed in religious thought and feeling, as for example, in Marcus Aurelius, religion gains currency as natural religion in the most comprehensive sense of the word. The idea of revelation or redemption scarcely emerges. To this rationalism, the objects of knowledge are unvarying, ever the same: even cosmology attracts interest only in a very small degree. Myth and history are pageantry and masks. Moral ideas (virtues and duties) dominate even the religious sphere, which in its final basis has no independent authority. The interest in psychology and apologetic is very pronounced. On the other hand, the emphasis, which, in principle, is put on the contrast of spirit and matter, God and the world, had for results: inability to rest in the actual realities of the cosmos, efforts to unriddle the history of the universe backwards and forwards, recognition of this process as the essential task of theoretic philosophy, and a deep, yearning conviction that the course of the world needs assistance. Here were given the conditions for the ideas of revelation, redemption, etc., and the restless search for powers from whom help might come, received here also a scientific justification. The rationalistic apologetic interests thereby fell into the background: contemplation and historical description predominated.
The stages in the ecclesiastical history of dogma, from the middle of the first to the middle of the fifth century, correspond to the stages in the history of the ancient religion during the same period. The Apologists, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus; the Alexandrians; Methodius, and the Cappadocians; Dionysius, the Areopagite, have their parallels in Seneca, Marcus Aurelius; Plutarch, Epictetus, Numenius; Plotinus, Porphyry; Iamblichus and Proclus.
But it is not only Greek philosophy that comes into question for the history of Christian dogma. The whole of Greek culture must be taken into account. In his posthumous work, Hatch has shewn in a masterly way how that is to be done. He describes the Grammar, the Rhetoric, the learned Profession, the Schools, the Exegesis, the Homilies, etc., of the Greeks, and everywhere shews how they passed over into the Church, thus exhibiting the Philosophy, the Ethic, the speculative Theology, the Mysteries, etc., of the Greeks, as the main factors in the process of forming the ecclesiastical mode of thought.
But, besides the Greek, there is no mistaking the special influence of Romish ideas and customs upon the Christian Church. The following points specially claim attention: (1) The conception of the contents of the Gospel and its application as "salus legitima," with the results which followed from the naturalising of this idea. (2) The conception of the word of Revelation, the Bible, etc., as "lex." (3) The idea of tradition in its relation to the Romish idea. (4) The Episcopal constitution of the Church, including the idea of succession, of the Primateship and universal Episcopate, in their dependence on Romish ideas and institutions (the Ecclesiastical organisation in its dependence on the Roman Empire). (5) The separation of the idea of the "sacrament" from that of the "mystery", and the development of the forensic discipline of penance. The investigation has to proceed in a historical line, described by the following series of chapters: Rome and Tertullian; Rome and Cyprian; Rome, Optatus and Augustine; Rome and the Popes of the fifth century. We have, to shew how, by the power of her constitution and the earnestness and consistency of her policy, Rome a second time, step by step, conquered the world, but this time the Christian world.
Greek philosophy exercised the greatest influence not only on the Christian mode of thought, but also through that, on the institutions of the Church. The Church never indeed became a philosophic school: but yet in her was realised in a peculiar way, that which the Stoics and the Cynics had aimed at. The Stoic (Cynic) Philosopher also belonged to the factors from which the Christian Priests or Bishops were formed. That the old bearers of the Spirit—Apostles, Prophets, Teachers—have been changed into a class of professional moralists and preachers, who bridle the people by counsel and reproof [Greek: nouthetein kai elenchein], that this class considers itself and desires to be considered as a mediating Kingly Divine class, that its representatives became "Lords" and let themselves be called "Lords", all this was prefigured in the Stoic wise man and in the Cynic Missionary. But so far as these several "Kings and Lords" are united in the idea and reality of the Church and are subject to it, the Platonic idea of the republic goes beyond the Stoic and Cynic ideals, and subordinates them to it. But this Platonic ideal has again obtained its political realisation in the Church through the very concrete laws of the Roman Empire, which were more and more adopted, or taken possession of. Consequently, in the completed Church we find again the philosophic schools and the Roman Empire.
Literature.—Besides the older works of Tzschirner, Doellinger, Burckhardt, Preller, see Friedlaender, Darstellungen aus der Sittengesch. Roms. in der Zeit von August bis zum Ausgang der Antonine, 3 Bd. Aufl. Boissier, La Religion Romaine d'Auguste aux Antonins, 2 Bd. 1874. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire before 170. London, 1893. Reville, La Religion a Rome sous les Severes, 1886. Schiller, Geschichte der Roem. Kaiserzeit, 1883. Marquardt, Roemische Staatsverwaltung, 3 Bde. 1878. Foucart, Les Associations Relig. chez les Grecs, 1873. Liebeman, Z. Gesch. u. Organisation d. Roem. Vereinswesen, 1890. K.J. Neumann, Der Roem. Staat und die allg. Kirche, Bd. I. 1890. Leopold Schmidt, Die Ethik der alten Griechen, 2 Bd. 1882. Heinrici, Die Christengemeinde Korinth's und die religioesen Genossenschaften der Griechen, in der Ztschr. f. wissensch. Theol. 1876-77. Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church. Buechner, De neocoria, 1888. Hirschfeld, Z. Gesch. d. roem. Kaisercultus. The Histories of Philosophy by Zeller, Erdmann, Ueberweg, Struempell, Windelband, etc. Heinze, Die Lehre vom Logos in der Griech. Philosophie, 1872. By same Author, Der Eudaemonismus in der Griech. Philosophie, 1883. Hirzel, Untersuchungen zu Cicero's philos. Schriften, 3 Thle. 1877-1883. These investigations are of special value for the history of dogma, because they set forth with the greatest accuracy and care, the later developments of the great Greek philosophic schools, especially on Roman soil. We must refer specially to the discussions on the influence of the Roman on the Greek Philosophy. Volkmann, Die Rhetorik der Griechen und Roemer, 1872.
Perhaps the most important fact for the following development of the history of Dogma, the way for which had already been prepared in the Apostolic age, is the twofold conception of the aim of Christ's appearing, or of the religious blessing of salvation. The two conceptions were indeed as yet mutually dependent on each other, and were twined together in the closest way, just as they are presented in the teaching of Jesus himself; but they began even at this early period to be differentiated. Salvation, that is to say, was conceived, on the one hand, as sharing in the glorious kingdom of Christ soon to appear, and everything else was regarded as preparatory to this sure prospect; on the other hand, however, attention was turned to the conditions and to the provisions of God wrought by Christ, which first made men capable of attaining that portion, that is, of becoming sure of it. Forgiveness of sin, righteousness, faith, knowledge, etc., are the things which come into consideration here, and these blessings themselves, so far as they have as their sure result life in the kingdom of Christ, or more accurately eternal life, may be regarded as salvation. It is manifest that these two conceptions need not be exclusive. The first regards the final effect as the goal and all else as a preparation, the other regards the preparation, the facts already accomplished by Christ and the inner transformation of men as the main thing, and all else as the natural and necessary result. Paul, above all, as may be seen especially from the arguments in the epistle to the Romans, unquestionably favoured the latter conception and gave it vigorous expression. The peculiar conflicts with which he saw himself confronted, and, above all, the great controversy about the relation of the Gospel and the new communities to Judaism, necessarily concentrated the attention on questions as to the arrangements on which the community of those sanctified in Christ should rest, and the conditions of admission to this community. But the centre of gravity of Christian faith might also for the moment be removed from the hope of Christ's second advent, and would then necessarily be found in the first advent, in virtue of which salvation was already prepared for man, and man for salvation (Rom. III.-VIII.). The dual development of the conception of Christianity which followed from this, rules the whole history of the Gospel to the present day. The eschatological view is certainly very severely repressed, but it always breaks out here and there, and still guards the spiritual from the secularisation which threatens it. But the possibility of uniting the two conceptions in complete harmony with each other, and on the other hand, of expressing them antithetically, has been the very circumstance that has complicated in an extraordinary degree the progress of the development of the history of dogma. From this follows the antithesis, that from that conception which somehow recognises salvation itself in a present spiritual possession, eternal life in the sense of immortality may be postulated as final result, though not a glorious kingdom of Christ on earth; while, conversely, the eschatological view must logically depreciate every blessing which can be possessed in the present life.
It is now evident that the theology, and, further, the Hellenising, of Christianity, could arise and has arisen in connection, not with the eschatological, but only with the other conception. Just because the matters here in question were present spiritual blessings, and because, from the nature of the case, the ideas of forgiveness of sin, righteousness, knowledge, etc., were not so definitely outlined in the early tradition, as the hopes of the future, conceptions entirely new and very different, could, as it were, be secretly naturalised. The spiritual view left room especially for the great contrast of a religious and a moralistic conception, as well as for a frame of mind which was like the eschatological in so far as, according to it, faith and knowledge were to be only preparatory blessings in contrast with the peculiar blessing of immortality, which of course was contained in them. In this frame of mind the illusion might easily arise that this hope of immortality was the very kernel of those hopes of the future for which old concrete forms of expression were only a temporary shell. But it might further be assumed that contempt for the transitory and finite as such, was identical with contempt for the kingdom of the world which the returning Christ would destroy.
The history of dogma has to shew how the old eschatological view was gradually repressed and transformed in the Gentile Christian communities, and how there was finally developed and carried out a spiritual conception in which a strict moralism counterbalanced a luxurious mysticism, and wherein the results of Greek practical philosophy could find a place. But we must here refer to the fact, which is already taught by the development in the Apostolic age, that Christian dogmatic did not spring from the eschatological, but from the spiritual mode of thought. The former had nothing but sure hopes and the guarantee of these hopes by the Spirit, by the words of prophecy and by the apocalyptic writings. One does not think, he lives and dreams, in the eschatological mode of thought; and such a life was vigorous and powerful till beyond the middle of the second century. There can be no external authorities here; for one has at every moment the highest authority in living operation in the Spirit. On the other hand, not only does the ecclesiastical christology essentially spring from the spiritual way of thinking, but very specially also the system of dogmatic guarantees. The co-ordination of [Greek: logos theou, didache kuriou, kerygma ton dodeka apostolon] [word of God, teaching of the Lord, preaching of the twelve Apostles], which lay at the basis of all Gentile Christian speculation almost from the very beginning, and which was soon directed against the enthusiasts, originated in a conception which regarded as the essential thing in Christianity, the sure knowledge which is the condition of immortality. If, however, in the following sections of this historical presentation, the pervading and continuous opposition of the two conceptions is not everywhere clearly and definitely brought into prominence, that is due to the conviction that the historian has no right to place the factors and impelling ideas of a development in a clearer light than they appear in the development itself. He must respect the obscurities and complications as they come in his way. A clear discernment of the difference of the two conceptions was very seldom attained to in ecclesiastical antiquity, because they did not look beyond their points of contact, and because certain articles of the eschatological conception could never be suppressed or remodelled in the Church. Goethe (Dichtung und Wahrheit, II. 8,) has seen this very clearly. "The Christian religion wavers between its own historic positive element and a pure Deism, which, based on morality, in its turn offers itself as the foundation of morality. The difference of character and mode of thought shew themselves here in infinite gradations, especially as another main distinction cooperates with them, since the question arises, what share the reason, and what the feelings, can and should have in such convictions." See, also, what immediately follows.
2. The origin of a series of the most important Christian customs and ideas is involved in an obscurity which in all probability will never be cleared up. Though one part of those ideas may be pointed out in the epistles of Paul, yet the question must frequently remain unanswered, whether he found them in existence or formed them independently, and accordingly the other question, whether they are exclusively indebted to the activity of Paul for their spread and naturalisation in Christendom. What was the original conception of baptism? Did Paul develop independently his own conception? What significance had it in the following period? When and where did baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit arise, and how did it make its way in Christendom? In what way were views about the saving value of Christ's death developed alongside of Paul's system? When and how did belief in the birth of Jesus from a Virgin gain acceptance in Christendom? Who first distinguished Christendom, as [Greek: ekklesia tou theou], from Judaism, and how did the concept [Greek: ekklesia] become current? How old is the triad: Apostles, Prophets and Teachers? When were Baptism and the Lord's Supper grouped together? How old are our first three Gospels? To all these questions and many more of equal importance there is no sure answer. But the greatest problem is presented by Christology, not indeed in its particular features doctrinally expressed, these almost everywhere may be explained historically, but in its deepest roots as it was preached by Paul as the principle of a new life (2 Cor. V. 17), and as it was to many besides him the expression of a personal union with the exalted Christ (Rev. II. 3). But this problem exists only for the historian who considers things only from the outside, or seeks for objective proofs. Behind and in the Gospel stands the Person of Jesus Christ who mastered men's hearts, and constrained them to yield themselves to him as his own, and in whom they found their God. Theology attempted to describe in very uncertain and feeble outline what the mind and heart had grasped. Yet it testifies of a new life which, like all higher life, was kindled by a Person, and could only be maintained by connection with that Person. "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." These convictions are not dogmas and have no history, and they can only be propagated in the manner described by Paul, Gal. I. 15, 16.
3. It was of the utmost importance for the legitimising of the later development of Christianity as a system of doctrine, that early Christianity had an Apostle who was a theologian, and that his Epistles were received into the canon. That the doctrine about Christ has become the main article in Christianity is not of course the result of Paul's preaching, but is based on the confession that Jesus is the Christ. The theology of Paul was not even the most prominent ruling factor in the transformation of the Gospel to the Catholic doctrine of faith, although an earnest study of the Pauline Epistles by the earliest Gentile Christian theologians, the Gnostics, and their later opponents, is unmistakable. But the decisive importance of this theology lies in the fact that, as a rule, it formed the boundary and the foundation—just as the words of the Lord himself—for those who in the following period endeavoured to ascertain original Christianity, because the Epistles attesting it stood in the canon of the New Testament. Now, as this theology comprised both speculative and apologetic elements, as it can be thought of as a system, as it contained a theory of history and a definite conception of the Old Testament, finally, as it was composed of objective and subjective ethical considerations and included the realistic elements of a national religion (wrath of God, sacrifice, reconciliation, Kingdom of glory), as well as profound psychological perceptions and the highest appreciation of spiritual blessings, the Catholic doctrine of faith as it was formed in the course of time, seemed, at least in its leading features, to be related to it, nay, demanded by it. For the ascertaining of the deep-lying distinctions, above all for the perception that the question in the two cases is about elements quite differently conditioned, that even the method is different, in short, that the Pauline Gospel is not identical with the original Gospel and much less with any later doctrine of faith, there is required such historical judgment and such honesty of purpose not to be led astray in the investigation by the canon of the New Testament, that no change in the prevailing ideas can be hoped for for long years to come. Besides, critical theology has made it difficult, to gain an insight into the great difference that lies between the Pauline and the Catholic theology, by the one-sided prominence it has hitherto given to the antagonism between Paulinism and Judaistic Christianity. In contrast with this view the remark of Havet, though also very one-sided, is instructive, "Quand on vient de relire Paul, on ne peut meconnaitre le caractere eleve de son oeuvre. Je dirai en un mot, qu'il a agrandi dans une proportion extraordinaire l'attrait que le judaisme exercait sur le monde ancien" (Le Christianisme, T. IV. p. 216). That, however, was only very gradually the case and within narrow limits. The deepest and most important writings of the New Testament are incontestably those in which Judaism is understood as religion, but spiritually overcome and subordinated to the Gospel as a new religion,—the Pauline Epistles, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Gospel and Epistle of John. There is set forth in these writings a new and exalted world of religious feelings, views and judgments, into which the Christians of succeeding centuries got only meagre glimpses. Strictly speaking, the opinion that the New Testament in its whole extent comprehends a unique literature is not tenable; but it is correct to say that between its most important constituent parts, and the literature of the period immediately following there is a great gulf fixed.