[Footnote 5: In the modern Romish Church, Dogma is, above all, a judicial regulation which one has to submit to, and in certain circumstances submission alone is sufficient, fides implicita. Dogma is thereby just as much deprived of its original sense and its original authority as by the demand of the Reformers, that every thing should be based upon a clear understanding of the Gospel. Moreover, the changed position of the Romish Church towards dogma is also shewn by the fact that it no longer gives a plain answer to the question as to what dogma is. Instead of a series of dogmas definitely defined, and of equal value, there is presented an infinite multitude of whole and half dogmas, doctrinal directions, pious opinions, probable theological propositions, etc. It is often a very difficult question whether a solemn decision has or has not already been taken on this or that statement, or whether such a decision is still necessary. Everything that must be believed is nowhere stated, and so one sometimes hears in Catholic circles the exemplary piety of a cleric praised with the words that "he believes more than is necessary." The great dogmatic conflicts within the Catholic Church, since the Council of Trent, have been silenced by arbitrary Papal pronouncements and doctrinal directions. Since one has simply to accommodate oneself to these as laws, it once more appears clear that dogma has become a judicial regulation, administered by the Pope, which is carried out in an administrative way and loses itself in an endless casuistry. We do not mean by this to deny that dogma has a decided value for the pious Catholic as a Summary of the faith. But in the Catholic Church it is no longer piety, but obedience that is decisive. The solidarity with the orthodox Protestants may be explained by political reasons, in order from political reasons again, to condemn, where it is necessary, all Protestants as heretics and revolutionaries.]
[Footnote 6: See the discussions of Biedermann (Christliche Dogmatik. 2 Ed. p. 150 f.) about what he calls the law of stability in the history of religion.]
[Footnote 7: See Ritschl's discussion of the methods of the early histories of dogma in the Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theologie. 1871, p. 181 ff.]
[Footnote 8: In Catholicism, the impulse which proceeded from Augustine has finally proved powerless to break the traditional conception of Christianity, as the Council of Trent and the decrees of the Vatican have shewn. For that very reason the development of the Roman Catholic Church doctrine belongs to the history of dogma. Protestantism must, however, under all circumstances be recognised as a new thing, which indeed in none of its phases has been free from contradictions.]
[Footnote 9: Here then begins the ecclesiastical theology which takes as its starting-point the finished dogma it strives to prove or harmonise, but very soon, as experience has shewn, loses its firm footing in such efforts and so occasions new crises.]
[Footnote 10: Weizsaecker, Apostolic Age, Vol. I. p. 123. "Christianity as religion is absolutely inconceivable without theology; first of all, for the same reasons which called forth the Pauline theology. As a religion it cannot be separated from the religion of its founder, hence not from historical knowledge. And as Monotheism and belief in a world purpose, it is the religion of reason with the inextinguishable impulse of thought. The first gentile Christians therewith gained the proud consciousness of a gnosis." But of ecclesiastical Christianity which rests on dogma ready made, as produced by an earlier epoch, this conception holds good only in a very qualified way; and of the vigorous Christian piety of the earliest and of every period, it may also be said that it no less feels the impulse to think against reason than with reason.]
[Footnote 11: In this sense it is correct to class dogmatic theology as historical theology, as Schleiermacher has done. If we maintain that for practical reasons it must be taken out of the province of historical theology, then we must make it part of practical theology. By dogmatic theology here, we understand the exposition of Christianity in the form of Church doctrine, as it has been shaped since the second century. As distinguished from it, a branch of theological study must be conceived which harmonises the historical exposition of the Gospel with the general state of knowledge of the time. The Church can as little dispense with such a discipline as there can be a Christianity which does not account to itself for its basis and spiritual contents.]
[Footnote 12: See Eusebius' preface to his Church History. Eusebius in this work set himself a comprehensive task, but in doing so he never in the remotest sense thought of a history of dogma. In place of that we have a history of men "who from generation to generation proclaimed the word of God orally or by writing," and a history of those who by their passion for novelties, plunged themselves into the greatest errors.]
[Footnote 13: See for example, B. Schwane, Dogmengesch. d. Vornicaenischen Zeit, 1862, where the sense in which dogmas have no historical side is first expounded, and then it is shewn that dogmas, "notwithstanding, present a certain side which permits a historical consideration, because in point of fact they have gone through historical developments." But these historical developments present themselves simply either as solemn promulgations and explications, or as private theological speculations.]
[Footnote 14: If we leave out of account the Marcionite gnostic criticism of ecclesiastical Christianity, Paul of Samosata and Marcellus of Ancyra may be mentioned as men who, in the earliest period, criticised the apologetic Alexandrian theology which was being naturalised (see the remarkable statement of Marcellus in Euseb. C. Marc. I.4: [Greek: to tou dogmatos onoma tes anthropines echetai boules te kai gnomes k.t.l.] which I have chosen as the motto of this book). We know too little of Stephen Gobarus (VI. cent.) to enable us to estimate his review of the doctrine of the Church and its development (Photius Bibl. 232). With regard to the middle ages (Abelard "Sic et Non"), see Reuter, Gesch. der relig. Aufklaerung im MA., 1875. Hahn Gesch, der Ketzer, especially in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, 3 vols., 1845. Keller, Die Reformation und die alteren Reform-Parteien, 1885.]
[Footnote 15: See Voigt, Die Wiederbelebung des classischen Alterthums. 2 vols., 1881, especially vol. II p. 1 ff. 363 ff. 494 ff. ("Humanism and the science of history"). The direct importance of humanism for illuminating the history of the middle ages is very little, and least of all for the history of the Church and of dogma. The only prominent works here are those of Saurentius Valla and Erasmus. The criticism of the scholastic dogmas of the Church and the Pope began as early as the 12th century. For the attitude of the Renaissance to religion, see Burckhardt, Die Cultur der Renaissance. 2 vols., 1877.]
[Footnote 16: See Holtzmann, Kanon und Tradition, 1859, Hase, Handbuch der protest. Polemik, 1878. Joh Delitszch, Das Lehrsystem der roem. Kirche, 1875. New revelations, however, are rejected, and bold assumptions leading that way are not favoured: See Schwane, above work p. 11: "The content of revelation is not enlarged by the decisions or teaching of the Church, nor are new revelations added in course of time ... Christian truth cannot therefore in its content be completed by the Church, nor has she ever claimed the right of doing so, but always where new designations or forms of dogma became necessary for the putting down of error or the instruction of the faithful, she would always teach what she had received in Holy scripture or in the oral tradition of the Apostles." Recent Catholic accounts of the history of dogma are Klee, Lehrbuch der D.G. 2 vols, 1837, (Speculative). Schwane, Dogmengesch. der Vornicaenischen Zeit, 1862, der patrist Zeit, 1869; der Mittleren Zeit, 1882. Bach, Die D.G. des MA. 1873. There is a wealth of material for the history of dogma in Kuhn's Dogmatik, as well as in the great controversial writings occasioned by the celebrated work of Bellarmin; Disputationes de controversiis Christianae fidei adversus hujus temporis haereticos, 1581-1593. It need not be said that, in spite of their inability to treat the history of dogma historically and critically, much may be learned from these works, and some other striking monographs of Roman Catholic scholars. But everything in history that is fitted to shake the high antiquity and unanimous attestation of the Catholic dogmas, becomes here a problem, the solution of which is demanded, though indeed its carrying out often requires a very exceptional intellectual subtlety.]
[Footnote 17: Historical interest in Protestantism has grown up around the questions as to the power of the Pope, the significance of Councils, or the Scripturalness of the doctrines set up by them, and about the meaning of the Lord's supper, of the conception of it by the Church Fathers; (see Oecolampadius and Melanchthon.) Protestants were too sure that the doctrine of justification was taught in the scriptures to feel any need of seeking proofs for it by studies in the history of dogma, and Luther also dispensed with the testimony of history for the dogma of the Lord's supper. The task of shewing how far and in what way Luther and the Reformers compounded with history has not even yet been taken up. And yet there may be found in Luther's writings surprising and excellent critical comments on the history of dogma and the theology of the Fathers, as well as genial conceptions which have certainly remained inoperative; see especially the treatise "Von den Conciliis und Kirchen," and his judgment on different Church Fathers. In the first edition of the Loci of Melanchthon we have also critical material for estimating the old systems of dogma. Calvin's depreciatory estimate of the Trinitarian and Christological Formula, which, however, he retracted at a later period is well known.]
[Footnote 18: Protestant Church history was brought into being by the Interim, Flacius being its father, see his Catalogus Testium Veritatis, and the so called Magdeburg Centuries 1559-1574, also Jundt Les Centuries de Magdebourg Paris, 1883 Von Engelhardt (Christenthum Justins, p. 9 ff.) has drawn attention to the estimate of Justin in the Centuries, and has justly insisted on the high importance of this first attempt at a criticism of the Church Fathers Khefoth (Eml. in. d. D.G. 1839) has the merit of pointing out the somewhat striking judgment of A. Hyperius on the history of dogma Chemnitz, Examen concilii Tridentini, 1565 Forbesius a Corse (a Scotsman) Instructiones historico-theologiae de doctrina Christiana 1645.]
[Footnote 19: The learning, the diligence in collecting, and the carefulness of the Benedictines and Maurians, as well as of English Dutch and French theologians, such as Casaubon, Vossius, Pearson, Dallaus Spanheim, Grabe, Basnage, etc. have never since been equalled, far less surpassed. Even in the literary historical and higher criticism these scholars have done splendid work, so far as the confessional dogmas did not come into question]
[Footnote 20: See especially, G. Arnold, Unpartheyische Kirchen- und Ketzerhistorie, 1699, also Baur, Epochen der kirchlichen Geschichtsschreibung p. 84 ff., Floring G. Arnold als Kirchenhistoriker Darmstadt, 1883. The latter determines correctly the measure of Arnold's importance. His work was the direct preparation for an impartial examination of the history of dogma however partial it was in itself Pietism, here and there, after Spener, declared war against scholastic dogmatics as a hindrance to piety, and in doing so broke the ban under which the knowledge of history lay captive.]
[Footnote 21: The investigations of the so-called English Deists about the Christian religion contain the first, and to some extent a very significant free-spirited attempt at a critical view of the history of dogma (see Lechler, History of English Deism, 1841). But the criticism is an abstract rarely a historical one. Some very learned works bearing on the history of dogma were written in England against the position of the Deists especially by Lardner; see also at an earlier time Bull, Defensio fidei nic.]
[Footnote 22: Calixtus of Helmstadt was the forerunner of Leibnitz with regard to Church history. But the merit of having recognised the main problem of the history of dogma does not belong to Calixtus. By pointing out what Protestantism and Catholicism had in common he did not in any way clear up the historico-critical problem. On the other hand, the Consensus repetitus of the Wittenberg theologians shews what fundamental questions Calixtus had already stirred.]
[Footnote 23: Among the numerous historical writings of Mosheim may be mentioned specially his Dissert ad hist Eccles pertinentes 2 vols. 1731-1741, as well as the work "De rebus Christianorum ante Constantinum M Commentarii," 1753; see also "Institutiones hist Eccl" last Edition, 1755.]
[Footnote 24: Walch, "Entwurf einer vollstaendigen Historie der Ketzereien, Spaltungen und Religionsstreitigkeiten bis auf die Zeiten der Reformation." 11 Thle (incomplete), 1762-1785. See also his "Entwurf einer vollstaendigen Historie der Kirchenversammlungen" 1759, as well as numerous monographs on the history of dogma. Such were already produced by the older Walch, whose "Histor. theol Einleitung in die Religionsstreitigkeiten der Ev. Luth. Kirche," 5 vols. 1730-1739, and "Histor.-theol. Einleit. in die Religionsstreitigkeiten welche sonderlich ausser der Ev Luth. Kirche entstanden sind 5 Thle", 1733-1736, had already put polemics behind the knowledge of history (see Gass. "Gesch. der protest. Dogmatik," 3rd Vol. p. 205 ff).]
[Footnote 25: Opusc. p. 576 f.: "Ex quo fit, ut nullo modo in theologicis, quae omnia e libris antiquis hebraicis, grascis, latinis ducuntur, possit aliquis bene in definiendo versari et a peccatis multis et magnis sibi cavere, nisi litteras et historiam assumat." The title of a programme of Crusius, Ernesti's opponent, "De dogmatum Christianorum historia cum probatione dogmatum non confundenda," 1770, is significant of the new insight which was steadily making way.]
[Footnote 26: Semler, Einleitung zu Baumgartens evang. Glaubenslehre, 1759: also Geschichte der Glaubenslehre, zu Baumgartens Untersuch. theol. Streitigkeiten, 1762-1764. Semler paved the way for the view that dogmas have arisen and been gradually developed under definite historical conditions. He was the first to grasp the problem of the relation of Catholicism to early Christianity, because he freed the early Christian documents from the fetters of the Canon. Schroeckh (Christl. Kirchengesch., 1786,) in the spirit of Semler described with impartiality and care the changes of the dogmas.]
[Footnote 27: Roessler, Lehrbegriff der Christlichen Kirche in den 3 ersten Jahrh. 1775; also, Arbeiten by Burscher, Heinrich, Staeudlin, etc., see especially, Loeffler's "Abhandlung welche eine kurze Darstellung der Entstehungsart der Dreieinigkeit enthaelt," 1792, in the translation of Souverain's Le Platonisme devoile, 1700. The question as to the Platonism of the Fathers, this fundamental question of the history of dogma, was raised even by Luther and Flacius, and was very vigorously debated at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries, after the Socinians had already affirmed it strongly. The question once more emerges on German soil in the church history of G. Arnold, but cannot be said to have received the attention it deserves in the 150 years that have followed (see the literature of the controversy in Tzschirner, Fall des Heidenthums, p. 580 f.). Yet the problem was first thrust aside by the speculative view of the history of Christianity.]
[Footnote 28: Lange. Ausfuehr. Gesch. der Dogmen, oder der Glaubenslehre der Christl. Kirche nach den Kirchenvaeter ausgearbeitet. 1796.]
[Footnote 29: Muenscher, Handb. d. Christl. D.G. 4 vols. first 6 Centuries 1797-1809; Lehrbuch, 1st Edit. 1811; 3rd. Edit. edited by v Coelln, Hupfeld and Neudecker, 1832-1838. Planck's epoch-making work: Gesch. der Veraenderungen und der Bildung unseres protestantischen Lehrbegriffs. 6 vols. 1791-1800, had already for the most part appeared. Contemporary with Muenscher are Wundemann, Gesch. d. Christl. Glaubenslehren vom Zeitalter des Athanasius bis auf Gregor. d. Gr. 2 Thle. 1789-1799; Muenter, Handbuch der alteren Christl. D.G. hrsg. von Ewers, 2 vols. 1802-1804; Staeudlin, Lehrbuch der Dogmatik und Dogmengeschichte, 1800, last Edition 1822, and Beck, Comment, hist. decretorum religionis Christianae, 1801.]
[Footnote 30: Augusti, Lehrb. d. Christl. D.G. 1805. 4 Edit. 1835. Berthold, Handb. der D.G. 2 vols. 1822-1823. Schickedanz, Versuch einer Gesch. d. Christl. Glaubenslehre etc. 1827. Ruperti, Geschichte der Dogmen, 1831. Lenz, Gesch. der Christl. Dogmen. 2 parts. 1834-1835. J.G.V. Engelhardt, Dogmengesch. 1839. See also Giesler, Dogmengesch. 2 vols. edited by Redepenning, 1855: also Illgen, Ueber den Werth der Christl. D.G. 1817.]
[Footnote 31: Baumgarten Crusius, Lehrb. d. Christl. D.G. 1852: also compendium d. Christl. D.G. 2 parts 1830-1846, the second part edited by Hase.]
[Footnote 32: Meier, Lehrb. d. D.G. 1840. 2nd Edit. revised by G. Baur 1854.]
[Footnote 33: The "Special History of Dogma" in Baumgarten Crusius, in which every particular dogma is by itself pursued through the whole history of the Church, is of course entirely unfruitful. But even the opinions which are given in the "General History of Dogma," are frequently very far from the mark, (Cf., e.g., Sec. 14 and p. 67), which is the more surprising as no one can deny that he takes a scholarly view of history.]
[Footnote 34: Meier's Lehrbuch is formally and materially a very important piece of work, the value of which has not been sufficiently recognised, because the author followed neither the track of Neander nor of Baur. Besides the excellences noted in the text, may be further mentioned, that almost everywhere Meier has distinguished correctly between the history of dogma and the history of theology, and has given an account only of the former.]
[Footnote 35: Biedermann (Christl Dogmatik 2 Edit 1 vol. p. 332 f) says, "The history of the development of the Dogma of the Person of Christ will bring before us step by step the ascent of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to its metaphysical basis in the nature of his person." This was the quite normal and necessary way of actual faith and is not to be reckoned as a confused mixture of heterogeneous philosophical opinions. The only thing taken from the ideas of contemporary philosophy was the special material of consciousness in which the doctrine of Christ's Divinity was at any time expressed. The process of this doctrinal development was an inward necessary one.]
[Footnote 36: Baur, Lehrbuch der Christl D.G. 1847 3rd Edit. 1867, also Vorles uber die Christl D.G. edited by F. Baur 1865-68. Further the Monographs, "Ueber die Christl Lehre v.d. Versohnung in ihrergesch Entw. 1838." Ueber die Christl Lehre v.d. Dreieinigkeit u.d. Menschwerdung, 1841, etc. D.F. Strauss preceded him with his work Die Christl Glaubenslehre in ihrer gesch Entw 2 vols 1840-41. From the stand-point of the Hegelian right we have Marheineke Christl D.G. edited by Matthias and Vatke 1849. From the same stand-point though at the same time influenced by Schleiermacher Dorner wrote "The History of the Person of Christ."]
[Footnote 37: See p. 63: "As Christianity appeared in contrast with Judaism and Heathenism, and could only represent a new and peculiar form of the religious consciousness in distinction from both reducing the contrasts of both to a unity in itself, so also the first difference of tendencies developing themselves within Christianity, must be determined by the relation in which it stood to Judaism on the one hand, and to Heathenism on the other." Compare also the very characteristic introduction to the first volume of the Vorlesungen.]
[Footnote 38: Hagenbach's Manual of the history of dogma might be put alongside of Neander's work. It agrees with it both in plan and spirit. But the material of the history of dogma which it offers in superabundance, seems far less connectedly worked out than by Neander. In Shedd's history of Christian doctrine the Americans possess a presentation of the history of dogma worth noting 2 vols 3 Edit 1883. The work of Fr. Bonifas Hist des Dogmes 2 vols 1886 appeared after the death of the author and is not important.]
[Footnote 39: No doubt Kliefoth also maintains for each period a stage of the disintegration of dogma but this is not to be understood in the ordinary sense of the word. Besides there are ideas in this introduction which hardly obtain the approval of their author to-day.]
[Footnote 40: Thomasius' Die Christl. Dogmengesch. als Entwickel. Gesch. des Kirchl. Lehrbegriffs. 2 vols. 1874-76. 2nd Edit intelligently and carefully edited by Bonwetsch. and Seeberg, 1887. (Seeberg has produced almost a new work in vol. II). From the same stand-point is the manual of the history of dogma by H. Schmid, 1859, (in 4th Ed. revised and transformed into an excellent collection of passages from the sources by Hauck, 1887), as well as the Luther. Dogmatik (Vol. II 1864: Der Kirchenglaube) of Kahnis, which, however, subjects particular dogmas to a freer criticism.]
[Footnote 41: See Vol. 1. p. 14.]
[Footnote 42: See Vol. 1. p. 11. "The first period treats of the development of the great main dogmas which were to become the basis of the further development (the Patristic age). The problem of the second period was, partly to work up this material theologically, and partly to develop it. But this development, under the influence of the Hierarchy, fell into false paths, and became partly, at least, corrupt (the age of Scholasticism), and therefore a reformation was necessary. It was reserved for this third period to carry back the doctrinal formation which had become abnormal, to the old sound paths, and on the other hand, in virtue of the regeneration of the Church which followed, to deepen it and fashion it according to that form which it got in the doctrinal systems of the Evangelic Church, while the remaining part fixed its own doctrine in the decrees of Trent (period of the Reformation)." This view of history, which, from the Christian stand-point, will allow absolutely nothing to be said against the doctrinal formation of the early Church, is a retrogression from the view of Luther and the writers of the "Centuries," for these were well aware that the corruption did not first begin in the middle ages.]
[Footnote 43: This fulfils a requirement urged by Weizsaecker (Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol 1866 p. 170 ff.)]
[Footnote 44: See Ritschl's Essay, "Ueber die Methode der aelteren Dogmengeschichte" (Jahrb. f. deutsche Theol. 1871 p. 191 ff.) in which the advance made by Nitzsch is estimated, and at the same time, an arrangement proposed for the treatment of the earlier history of dogma which would group the material more clearly and more suitably than has been done by Nitzsch. After having laid the foundation for a correct historical estimate of the development of early Christianity in his work "Entstehung der Alt-Katholischen Kirche", 1857, Ritschl published an epoch-making study in the history of dogma in his "History of the doctrine of justification and reconciliation" 2 edit. 1883. We have no superabundance of good monographs on the history of dogma. There are few that give such exact information regarding the Patristic period as that of Von Engelhardt "Ueber das Christenthum Justin's", 1878, and Zahn's work on Marcellus, 1867. Among the investigators of our age, Renan above all has clearly recognised that there are only two main periods in the history of dogma, and that the changes which Christianity experienced after the establishment of the Catholic Church bear no proportion to the changes which preceded. His words are as follows (Hist. des origin. du Christianisme T. VII. p. 503 f.):—the division about the year 180 is certainly placed too early, regard being had to what was then really authoritative in the Church.—"Si nous comparons maintenant le Christianisme, tel qu'il existait vers l'an 180, au Christianisme du IVe et du Ve, siecle, au Christianisme du moyen age, au Christianisme de nos jours, nous trouvons qu'en realite il s'est augmente des tres peu de chose dans les siecles qui ont suivis. En 180, le Nouveau Testament est clos: il ne s'y ajoutera plus un seul livre nouveau(?). Lentement, les Epitres de Paul out conquis leur place a la suite des Evangiles, dans le code sacre et dans la liturgie. Quant aux dogmes, rien n'est fixe; mais le germe de tout existe; presque aucune idee n'apparaitra qui ne puisse faire valoir des autorites du 1er et du 2e siecles. Il y a du trop, il y a des contradictions; le travail theologique consistera bien plus a emonder, a ecarter des superfluites qu'a inventer du nouveau. L'Eglise laissera tomber une foule de choses mal commencees, elle sortira de bien des impasses. Elle a encore deux coeurs, pour ainsi dire; elle a plusieurs tetes; ces anomalies tomberont; mais aucun dogme vraiment original ne se formera plus." Also the discussions in chapters 28-34, of the same volume. H. Thiersch (Die Kirche im Apostolischen Zeitalter, 1852) reveals a deep insight into the difference between the spirit of the New Testament writers and the post-Apostolic Fathers, but he has overdone these differences and sought to explain them by the mythological assumption of an Apostasy. A great amount of material for the history of dogma may be found in the great work of Boehringer, Die Kirche Christi und ihre Zeugen, oder die Kirchengeschichte in Biographien. 2 Edit. 1864.]
[Footnote 45: By the connection with general church history we must, above all, understand, a continuous regard to the world within which the church has been developed. The most recent works on the history of the church and of dogma, those of Renan, Overbeck (Anfaenge der patristischen Litteratur), Aube, Von Engelhardt (Justin), Kuehn (Minucius Felix). Hatch ("Organization of the early church," and especially his posthumous work "The influence of Greek ideas and usages upon the Christian Church," 1890, in which may be found the most ample proof for the conception of the early history of dogma which is set forth in the following pages), are in this respect worthy of special note. Deserving of mention also is R. Rothe, who, in his "Vorlesungen ueber Kirchengeschichte", edited by Weingarten, 1875, 2 vols, gave most significant suggestions towards a really historical conception of the history of the church and of dogma. To Rothe belongs the undiminished merit of realising thoroughly the significance of nationality in church history. But the theology of our century is also indebted for the first scientific conception of Catholicism, not to Marheineke or Winer, but to Rothe. (See Vol II. pp. 1-11 especially p. 7 f.). "The development of the Christian Church in the Graeco-Roman world was not at the same time a development of that world by the Church and further by Christianity. There remained, as the result of the process, nothing but the completed Church. The world which had built it had made itself bankrupt in doing so." With regard to the origin and development of the Catholic cultus and constitution, nay, even of the Ethic (see Luthardt, Die antike Ethik, 1887, preface), that has been recognised by Protestant scholars, which one always hesitates to recognise with regard to catholic dogma: see the excellent remarks of Schwegler, Nachapostolisches Zeitalter. Vol. 1. p. 3 ff. It may be hoped that an intelligent consideration of early Christian literature will form the bridge to a broad and intelligent view of the history of dogma. The essay of Overbeck mentioned above (Histor. Zeitschrift. N. F. XII p. 417 ff.) may be most heartily recommended in this respect. It is very gratifying to find an investigator so conservative as Sohm, now fully admitting that "Christian theology grew up in the second and third centuries, when its foundations were laid for all time (?), the last great production of the Hellenic Spirit." (Kirchengeschichte im Grundriss, 1888. p. 37). The same scholar in his very important Kirchenrecht. Bd. I. 1892, has transferred to the history of the origin of Church law and Church organization, the points of view which I have applied in the following account to the consideration of dogma. He has thereby succeeded in correcting many old errors and prejudices; but in my opinion he has obscured the truth by exaggerations connected with a conception, not only of original Christianity, but also of the Gospel in general, which is partly a narrow legal view, partly an enthusiastic one. He has arrived ex errore per veritatem ad errorem; but there are few books from which so much may be learned about early church history as from this paradoxical "Kirchenrecht."]
THE PRESUPPOSITIONS OF THE HISTORY OF DOGMA
Sec. 1. Introductory.
The Gospel presents itself as an Apocalyptic message on the soil of the Old Testament, and as the fulfilment of the law and the prophets, and yet is a new thing, the creation of a universal religion on the basis of that of the Old Testament. It appeared when the time was fulfilled, that is, it is not without a connection with the stage of religious and spiritual development which was brought about by the intercourse of Jews and Greeks, and was established in the Roman Empire; but still it is a new religion because it cannot be separated from Jesus Christ. When the traditional religion has become too narrow the new religion usually appears as something of a very abstract nature; philosophy comes upon the scene, and religion withdraws from social life and becomes a private matter. But here an overpowering personality has appeared—the Son of God. Word and deed coincide in that personality, and as it leads men into a new communion with God, it unites them at the same time inseparably with itself, enables them to act on the world as light and leaven, and joins them together in a spiritual unity and an active confederacy.
2. Jesus Christ brought no new doctrine, but he set forth in his own person a holy life with God and before God, and gave himself in virtue of this life to the service of his brethren in order to win them for the Kingdom of God, that is, to lead them out of selfishness and the world to God, out of the natural connections and contrasts to a union in love, and prepare them for an eternal kingdom and an eternal life. But while working for this Kingdom of God he did not withdraw from the religious and political communion of his people, nor did he induce his disciples to leave that communion. On the contrary, he described the Kingdom of God as the fulfilment of the promises given to the nation, and himself as the Messiah whom that nation expected. By doing so he secured for his new message, and with it his own person, a place in the system of religious ideas and hopes, which by means of the Old Testament were then, in diverse forms, current in the Jewish nation. The origin of a doctrine concerning the Messianic hope, in which the Messiah was no longer an unknown being, but Jesus of Nazareth, along with the new temper and disposition of believers was a direct result of the impression made by the person of Jesus. The conception of the Old Testament in accordance with the analogia fidei, that is, in accordance with the conviction that this Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, was therewith given. Whatever sources of comfort and strength Christianity, even in its New Testament, has possessed or does possess up to the present, is for the most part taken from the Old Testament, viewed from a Christian stand-point, in virtue of the impression of the person of Jesus. Even its dross was changed into gold; its hidden treasures were brought forth, and while the earthly and transitory were recognised as symbols of the heavenly and eternal, there rose up a world of blessings, of holy ordinances, and of sure grace prepared by God from eternity. One could joyfully make oneself at home in it; for its long history guaranteed a sure future and a blessed close, while it offered comfort and certainty in all the changes of life to every individual heart that would only raise itself to God. From the positive position which Jesus took up towards the Old Testament, that is, towards the religious traditions of his people, his Gospel gained a footing which, later on, preserved it from dissolving in the glow of enthusiasm, or melting away in the ensnaring dream of antiquity, that dream of the indestructible Divine nature of the human spirit, and the nothingness and baseness of all material things. But from the positive attitude of Jesus to the Jewish tradition, there followed also, for a generation that had long been accustomed to grope after the Divine active in the world, the summons to think out a theory of the media of revelation, and so put an end to the uncertainty with which speculation had hitherto been afflicted. This, like every theory of religion, concealed in itself the danger of crippling the power of faith; for men are ever prone to compound with religion itself by a religious theory.
3. The result of the preaching of Jesus, however, in the case of the believing Jews, was not only the illumination of the Old Testament by the Gospel and the confirmation of the Gospel by the Old Testament, but not less, though indirectly, the detachment of believers from the religious community of the Jews from the Jewish Church. How this came about cannot be discussed here: we may satisfy ourselves with the fact that it was essentially accomplished in the first two generations of believers. The Gospel was a message for humanity even where there was no break with Judaism: but it seemed impossible to bring this message home to men who were not Jews in any other way than by leaving the Jewish Church. But to leave that Church was to declare it to be worthless, and that could only be done by conceiving it as a malformation from its very commencement, or assuming that it had temporarily or completely fulfilled its mission. In either case it was necessary to put another in its place, for, according to the Old Testament, it was unquestionable that God had not only given revelations, but through these revelations had founded a nation, a religious community. The result, also, to which the conduct of the unbelieving Jews and the social union of the disciples of Jesus required by that conduct, led, was carried home with irresistible power: believers in Christ are the community of God, they are the true Israel, the [Greek: ekklesia tou theou]: but the Jewish Church persisting in its unbelief is the Synagogue of Satan. Out of this consciousness sprang—first as a power in which one believed, but which immediately began to be operative, though not as a commonwealth—the christian church, a special communion of hearts on the basis of a personal union with God, established by Christ and mediated by the Spirit; a communion whose essential mark was to claim as its own the Old Testament and the idea of being the people of God, to sweep aside the Jewish conception of the Old Testament and the Jewish Church, and thereby gain the shape and power of a community that is capable of a mission for the world.
4. This independent Christian community could not have been formed had not Judaism, in consequence of inner and outer developments, then reached a point at which it must either altogether cease to grow or burst its shell. This community is the presupposition of the history of dogma, and the position which it took up towards the Jewish tradition is, strictly speaking, the point of departure for all further developments, so far as with the removal of all national and ceremonial peculiarities it proclaimed itself to be what the Jewish Church wished to be. We find the Christian Church about the middle of the third century, after severe crisis, in nearly the same position to the Old Testament and to Judaism as it was 150 or 200 years earlier. It makes the same claim to the Old Testament, and builds its faith and hope upon its teaching. It is also, as before, strictly anti-national; above all, anti-judaic, and sentences the Jewish religious community to the abyss of hell. It might appear, then, as though the basis for the further development of Christianity as a church was completely given from the moment in which the first breach of believers with the synagogue and the formation of independent Christian communities took place. The problem, the solution of which will always exercise this church, so far as it reflects upon its faith, will be to turn the Old Testament more completely to account in its own sense, so as to condemn the Jewish Church with its particular and national forms.
5. But the rule even for the Christian use of the Old Testament lay originally in the living connection in which one stood with the Jewish people and its traditions, and a new religious community, a religious commonwealth, was not yet realised, although it existed for faith and thought. If again we compare the Church about the middle of the third century with the condition of Christendom 150 or 200 years before, we shall find that there is now a real religious commonwealth, while at the earlier period there were only communities who believed in a heavenly Church, whose earthly image they were, endeavoured to give it expression with the simplest means, and lived in the future as strangers and pilgrims on the earth, hastening to meet the Kingdom of whose existence they had the surest guarantee. We now really find a new commonwealth, politically formed and equipped with fixed forms of all kinds. We recognise in these forms few Jewish, but many Graeco-Roman features, and finally, we perceive also in the doctrine of faith on which this commonwealth is based, the philosophic spirit of the Greeks. We find a Church as a political union and worship institute, a formulated faith and a sacred learning; but one thing we no longer find, the old enthusiasm and individualism which had not felt itself fettered by subjection to the authority of the Old Testament. Instead of enthusiastic independent Christians, we find a new literature of revelation, the New Testament, and Christian priests. When did these formations begin? How and by what influence was the living faith transformed into the creed to be believed, the surrender to Christ into a philosophic Christology, the Holy Church into the corpus permixtum, the glowing hope of the Kingdom of heaven into a doctrine of immortality and deification, prophecy into a learned exegesis and theological science, the bearers of the spirit into clerics, the brethren into laity held in tutelage, miracles and healings into nothing, or into priestcraft, the fervent prayers into a solemn ritual, renunciation of the world into a jealous dominion over the world, the "spirit" into constraint and law?
There can be no doubt about the answer: these formations are as old in their origin as the detachment of the Gospel from the Jewish Church. A religious faith which seeks to establish a communion of its own in opposition to another, is compelled to borrow from that other what it needs. The religion which is life and feeling of the heart cannot be converted into a knowledge determining the motley multitude of men without deferring to their wishes and opinions. Even the holiest must clothe itself in the same existing earthly forms as the profane if it wishes to found on earth a confederacy which is to take the place of another, and if it does not wish to enslave, but to determine the reason. When the Gospel was rejected by the Jewish nation, and had disengaged itself from all connection with that nation, it was already settled whence it must take the material to form for itself a new body and be transformed into a Church and a theology. National and particular, in the ordinary sense of the word, these forms could not be: the contents of the Gospel were too rich for that; but separated from Judaism, nay, even before that separation, the Christian religion came in contact with the Roman world and with a culture which had already mastered the world, viz., the Greek. The Christian Church and its doctrine were developed within the Roman world and Greek culture in opposition to the Jewish Church. This fact is just as important for the history of dogma as the other stated above, that this Church was continuously nourished on the Old Testament. Christendom was of course conscious of being in opposition to the empire and its culture, as well as to Judaism; but this from the beginning—apart from a few exceptions—was not without reservations. No man can serve two masters; but in setting up a spiritual power in this world one must serve an earthly master, even when he desires to naturalise the spiritual in the world. As a consequence of the complete break with the Jewish Church there followed not only the strict necessity of quarrying the stones for the building of the Church from the Graeco-Roman world, but also the idea that Christianity has a more positive relation to that world than to the synagogue. And, as the Church was being built, the original enthusiasm must needs vanish. The separation from Judaism having taken place, it was necessary that the spirit of another people should be admitted, and should also materially determine the manner of turning the Old Testament to advantage.
6. But an inner necessity was at work here no less than an outer. Judaism and Hellenism in the age of Christ were opposed to each other, not only as dissimilar powers of equal value, but the latter having its origin among a small people, became a universal spiritual power, which, severed from its original nationality, had for that very reason penetrated foreign nations. It had even laid hold of Judaism, and the anxious care of her professional watchmen to hedge round the national possession, is but a proof of the advancing decomposition within the Jewish nation. Israel, no doubt, had a sacred treasure which was of greater value than all the treasures of the Greeks,—the living God—but in what miserable vessels was this treasure preserved, and how much inferior was all else possessed by this nation in comparison with the riches, the power, the delicacy and freedom of the Greek spirit and its intellectual possessions. A movement like that of Christianity, which discovered to the Jew the soul whose dignity was not dependent on its descent from Abraham, but on its responsibility to God, could not continue in the framework of Judaism however expanded, but must soon recognise in that world which the Greek spirit had discovered and prepared, the field which belonged to it: [Greek: eikotos Ioudaiois men nomos, Hellesi de philosophia mechris tes parousias enteuthen de he klesis he katholike] [to the Jews the law, to the Greeks Philosophy, up to the Parousia; from that time the catholic invitation.] But the Gospel at first was preached exclusively to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and that which inwardly united it with Hellenism did not yet appear in any doctrine or definite form of knowledge.
On the contrary, the Church doctrine of faith, in the preparatory stage, from the Apologists up to the time of Origen, hardly in any point shews the traces, scarcely even the remembrance of a time in which the Gospel was not detached from Judaism. For that very reason it is absolutely impossible to understand this preparation and development solely from the writings that remain to us as monuments of that short earliest period. The attempts at deducing the genesis of the Church's doctrinal system from the theology of Paul, or from compromises between Apostolic doctrinal ideas, will always miscarry; for they fail to note that to the most important premises of the Catholic doctrine of faith belongs an element which we cannot recognise as dominant in the New Testament, viz., the Hellenic spirit. As far backwards as we can trace the history of the propagation of the Church's doctrine of faith, from the middle of the third century to the end of the first, we nowhere perceive a leap, or the sudden influx of an entirely new element. What we perceive is rather the gradual disappearance of an original element, the Enthusiastic and Apocalyptic, that is, of the sure consciousness of an immediate possession of the Divine Spirit, and the hope of the future conquering the present; individual piety conscious of itself and sovereign, living in the future world, recognising no external authority and no external barriers. This piety became ever weaker and passed away: the utilising of the Codex of Revelation, the Old Testament, proportionally increased with the Hellenic influences which controlled the process, for the two went always hand in hand. At an earlier period the Churches made very little use of either, because they had in individual religious inspiration on the basis of Christ's preaching and the sure hope of his Kingdom which was near at hand, much more than either could bestow. The factors whose co-operation we observe in the second and third centuries, were already operative among the earliest Gentile Christians. We nowhere find a yawning gulf in the great development which lies between the first Epistle of Clement and the work of Origen, [Greek: Peri archon]. Even the importance which the "Apostolic" was to obtain, was already foreshadowed by the end of the first century, and enthusiasm always had its limits. The most decisive division, therefore, falls before the end of the first century; or more correctly, the relatively new element, the Greek, which is of importance for the forming of the Church as a commonwealth, and consequently for the formation of its doctrine, is clearly present in the churches even in the Apostolic age. Two hundred years, however, passed before it made itself completely at home in the Gospel, although there were points of connection inherent in the Gospel.
7. The cause of the great historical fact is clear. It is given in the fact that the Gospel, rejected by the majority of the Jews, was very soon proclaimed to those who were not Jews, that after a few decades the greater number of its professors were found among the Greeks, and that, consequently, the development leading to the Catholic dogma took place within Graeco-Roman culture. But within this culture there was lacking the power of understanding either the idea of the completed Old Testament theocracy, or the idea of the Messiah. Both of these essential elements of the original proclamation, therefore, must either be neglected or remodelled. But it is hardly allowable to mention details however important, where the whole aggregate of ideas, of religious historical perceptions and presuppositions, which were based on the old Testament, understood in a Christian sense, presented itself as something new and strange. One can easily appropriate words, but not practical ideas. Side by side with the Old Testament religion as the presupposition of the Gospel, and using its forms of thought, the moral and religious views and ideals dominant in the world of Greek culture could not but insinuate themselves into the communities consisting of Gentiles. From the enormous material that was brought home to the hearts of the Greeks, whether formulated by Paul or by any other, only a few rudimentary ideas could at first be appropriated. For that very reason, the Apostolic Catholic doctrine of faith in its preparation and establishment, is no mere continuation of that which, by uniting things that are certainly very dissimilar, is wont to be described as "Biblical Theology of the New Testament." Biblical Theology, even when kept within reasonable limits, is not the presupposition of the history of dogma. The Gentile Christians were little able to comprehend the controversies which stirred the Apostolic age within Jewish Christianity. The presuppositions of the history of dogma are given in certain fundamental ideas, or rather motives of the Gospel, (in the preaching concerning Jesus Christ, in the teaching of Evangelic ethics and the future life, in the Old Testament capable of any interpretation, but to be interpreted with reference to Christ and the Evangelic history), and in the Greek spirit.
8. The foregoing statements involve that the difference between the development which led to the Catholic doctrine of religion and the original condition, was by no means a total one. By recognising the Old Testament as a book of Divine revelation, the Gentile Christians received along with it the religious speech which was used by Jewish Christians, were made dependent upon the interpretation which had been used from the very beginning, and even received a great part of the Jewish literature which accompanied the Old Testament. But the possession of a common religious speech and literature is never a mere outward bond of union, however strong the impulse be to introduce the old familiar contents into the newly acquired speech. The Jewish, that is, the Old Testament element, divested of its national peculiarity, has remained the basis of Christendom. It has saturated this element with the Greek spirit, but has always clung to its main idea, faith in God as the creator and ruler of the world. It has in the course of its development rejected important parts of that Jewish element, and has borrowed others at a later period from the great treasure that was transmitted to it. It has also been able to turn to account the least adaptable features, if only for the external confirmation of its own ideas. The Old Testament applied to Christ and his universal Church has always remained the decisive document, and it was long ere Christian writings received the same authority, long ere individual doctrines and sayings of Apostolic writings obtained an influence on the formation of ecclesiastical doctrine.
9. From yet another side there makes its appearance an agreement between the circles of Palestinian believers in Jesus and the Gentile Christian communities, which endured for more than a century, though it was of course gradually effaced. It is the enthusiastic element which unites them, the consciousness of standing in an immediate union with God through the Spirit, and receiving directly from God's hand miraculous gifts, powers and revelations, granted to the individual that he may turn them to account in the service of the Church. The depotentiation of the Christian religion, where one may believe in the inspiration of another, but no longer feels his own, nay, dare not feel it, is not altogether coincident with its settlement on Greek soil. On the contrary, it was more than two centuries ere weakness and reflection suppressed, or all but suppressed, the forms in which the personal consciousness of God originally expressed itself. Now it certainly lies in the nature of enthusiasm, that it can assume the most diverse forms of expression, and follow very different impulses, and so far it frequently separates instead of uniting. But so long as criticism and reflection are not yet awakened, and a uniform ideal hovers before one, it does unite, and in this sense there existed an identity of disposition between the earliest Jewish Christians and the still enthusiastic Gentile Christian communities.
10. But, finally, there is a still further uniting element between the beginnings of the development to Catholicism, and the original condition of the Christian religion as a movement within Judaism, the importance of which cannot be overrated, although we have every reason to complain here of the obscurity of the tradition. Between the Graeco-Roman world which was in search of a spiritual religion, and the Jewish commonwealth which already possessed such a religion as a national property, though vitiated by exclusiveness, there had long been a Judaism which, penetrated by the Greek spirit, was, ex professo, devoting itself to the task of bringing a new religion to the Greek world, the Jewish religion, but that religion in its kernel Greek, that is, philosophically moulded, spiritualised and secularised. Here then was already consummated an intimate union of the Greek spirit with the Old Testament religion, within the Empire and to a less degree in Palestine itself. If everything is not to be dissolved into a grey mist, we must clearly distinguish this union between Judaism and Hellenism and the spiritualising of religion it produced, from the powerful but indeterminable influences which the Greek spirit exercised on all things Jewish, and which have been a historical condition of the Gospel. The alliance, in my opinion, was of no significance at all for the origin of the Gospel, but was of the most decided importance, first, for the propagation of Christianity, and then, for the development of Christianity to Catholicism, and for the genesis of the Catholic doctrine of faith. We cannot certainly name any particular personality who was specially active in this, but we can mention three facts which prove more than individual references. (1) The propaganda of Christianity in the Diaspora followed the Jewish propaganda and partly took its place, that is, the Gospel was at first preached to those Gentiles who were already acquainted with the general outlines of the Jewish religion, and who were even frequently viewed as a Judaism of a second order, in which Jewish and Greek elements had been united in a peculiar mixture. (2) The conception of the Old Testament, as we find it even in the earliest Gentile Christian teachers, the method of spiritualising it, etc., agrees in the most surprising way with the methods which were used by the Alexandrian Jews. (3) There are Christian documents in no small number and of unknown origin, which completely agree in plan, in form and contents with Graeco-Jewish writings of the Diaspora, as for example, the Christian Sibylline Oracles, and the pseudo-Justinian treatise, "de Monarchia." There are numerous tractates of which it is impossible to say with certainty whether they are of Jewish or of Christian origin.
The Alexandrian and non-Palestinian Judaism is still Judaism. As the Gospel seized and moved the whole of Judaism, it must also have been operative in the non Palestinian Judaism. But that already foreshadowed the transition of the Gospel to the non-Jewish Greek region, and the fate which it was to experience there. For that non-Palestinian Judaism formed the bridge between the Jewish Church and the Roman Empire, together with its culture. The Gospel passed into the world chiefly by this bridge. Paul indeed had a large share in this, but his own Churches did not understand the way he led them, and were not able on looking back to find it. He indeed became a Greek to the Greeks, and even began the undertaking of placing the treasures of Greek knowledge at the service of the Gospel. But the knowledge of Christ crucified, to which he subordinated all other knowledge as only of preparatory value, had nothing in common with Greek philosophy, while the idea of justification and the doctrine of the Spirit (Rom. VIII), which together formed the peculiar contents of his Christianity, were irreconcilable with the moralism and the religious ideals of Hellenism. But the great mass of the earliest Gentile Christians became Christians because they perceived in the Gospel the sure tidings of the benefits and obligations which they had already sought in the fusion of Jewish and Greek elements. It is only by discerning this that we can grasp the preparation and genesis of the Catholic Church and its dogma.
From the foregoing statements it appears that there fall to be considered as presuppositions of the origin of the Catholic Apostolic doctrine of faith, the following topics, though of unequal importance as regards the extent of their influence:
(a) The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
(b) The common preaching of Jesus Christ in the first generation of believers.
(c) The current exposition of the Old Testament, the Jewish speculations and hopes of the future, in their significance for the earliest types of Christian preaching.
(d) The religious conceptions, and the religious philosophy of the Hellenistic Jews, in their significance for the later restatement of the Gospel.
(e) The religious dispositions of the Greeks and Romans of the first two centuries, and the current Graeco-Roman philosophy of religion.
Sec. 2. The Gospel of Jesus Christ according to His own testimony concerning Himself.
I. The Fundamental Features.
The Gospel entered into the world as an apocalyptic eschatological message, apocalyptical and eschatological not only in its form, but also in its contents. But Jesus announced that the kingdom of God had already begun with his own work, and those who received him in faith became sensible of this beginning; for the "apocalyptical" was not merely the unveiling of the future, but above all the revelation of God as the Father, and the "eschatological" received its counterpoise in the view of Jesus' work as Saviour, in the assurance of being certainly called to the kingdom, and in the conviction that life and future dominion is hid with God the Lord and preserved for believers by him. Consequently, we are following not only the indications of the succeeding history, but also the requirement of the thing itself, when, in the presentation of the Gospel, we place in the foreground, not that which unites it with the contemporary disposition of Judaism, but that which raises it above it. Instead of the hope of inheriting the kingdom, Jesus had also spoken simply of preserving the soul, or the life. In this one substitution lies already a transformation of universal significance, of political religion into a religion that is individual and therefore holy; for the life is nourished by the word of God, but God is the Holy One.
The Gospel is the glad message of the government of the world and of every individual soul by the almighty and holy God, the Father and Judge. In this dominion of God, which frees men from the power of the Devil, makes them rulers in a heavenly kingdom in contrast with the kingdoms of the world, and which will also be sensibly realised in the future aeon just about to appear, is secured life for all men who yield themselves to God, although they should lose the world and the earthly life. That is, the soul which is pure and holy in connection with God, and in imitation of the Divine perfection is eternally preserved with God, while those who would gain the world, and preserve their life, fall into the hands of the Judge who sentences them to Hell. This dominion of God imposes on men a law, an old and yet a new law, viz., that of the Divine perfection and therefore of undivided love to God and to our neighbour. In this love, where it sways the inmost feeling, is presented the better righteousness (better not only with respect to the Scribes and Pharisees, but also with respect to Moses, see Matt. V.), which corresponds to the perfection of God. The way to attain it is a change of mind, that is, self-denial, humility before God, and heartfelt trust in him. In this humility and trust in God there is contained a recognition of one's own unworthiness; but the Gospel calls to the kingdom of God those very sinners who are thus minded, by promising the forgiveness of the sins which hitherto have separated them from God. But the Gospel which appears in these three elements, the dominion of God, a better righteousness embodied in the law of love, and the forgiveness of sin, is inseparably connected with Jesus Christ; for in preaching this Gospel Jesus Christ everywhere calls men to himself. In him the Gospel is word and deed; it has become his food, and therefore his personal life, and into this life of his he draws all others. He is the Son who knows the Father. In him men are to perceive the kindness of the Lord; in him they are to feel God's power and government of the world, and to become certain of this consolation; they are to follow him the meek and lowly, and while he, the pure and holy one, calls sinners to himself, they are to receive the assurance that God through him forgiveth sin.
Jesus Christ has by no express statement thrust this connection of his Gospel with his Person into the foreground. No words could have certified it unless his life, the overpowering impression of his Person, had created it. By living, acting and speaking from the riches of that life which he lived with his Father, he became for others the revelation of the God of whom they formerly had heard, but whom they had not known. He declared his Father to be their Father and they understood him. But he also declared himself to be Messiah, and in so doing gave an intelligible expression to his abiding significance for them and for his people. In a solemn hour at the close of his life, as well as on special occasions at an earlier period, he referred to the fact that the surrender to his Person which induced them to leave all and follow him, was no passing element in the new position they had gained towards God the Father. He tells them, on the contrary, that this surrender corresponds to the service which he will perform for them and for the many, when he will give his life a sacrifice for the sins of the world. By teaching them to think of him and of his death in the breaking of bread and the drinking of wine, and by saying of his death that it takes place for the remission of sins, he has claimed as his due from all future disciples what was a matter of course so long as he sojourned with them, but what might fade away after he was parted from them. He who in his preaching of the kingdom of God raised the strictest self-examination and humility to a law, and exhibited them to his followers in his own life, has described with clear consciousness his life crowned by death as the imperishable service by which men in all ages will be cleansed from their sin and made joyful in their God. By so doing he put himself far above all others, although they were to become his brethren; and claimed a unique and permanent importance as Redeemer and Judge. This permanent importance as the Lord he secured, not by disclosures about the mystery of his Person, but by the impression of his life and the interpretation of his death. He interprets it, like all his sufferings, as a victory, as the passing over to his glory, and in spite of the cry of God-forsakenness upon the cross, he has proved himself able to awaken in his followers the real conviction that he lives and is Lord and Judge of the living and the dead.
The religion of the Gospel is based on this belief in Jesus Christ, that is, by looking to him, this historical person, it becomes certain to the believer that God rules heaven and earth, and that God, the Judge, is also Father and Redeemer. The religion of the Gospel is the religion which makes the highest moral demands, the simplest and the most difficult, and discloses the contradiction in which every man finds himself towards them. But it also procures redemption from such misery, by drawing the life of men into the inexhaustible and blessed life of Jesus Christ, who has overcome the world and called sinners to himself.
In making this attempt to put together the fundamental features of the Gospel, I have allowed myself to be guided by the results of this Gospel in the case of the first disciples. I do not know whether it is permissible to present such fundamental features apart from this guidance. The preaching of Jesus Christ was in the main so plain and simple, and in its application so manifold and rich, that one shrinks from attempting to systematise it, and would much rather merely narrate according to the Gospel. Jesus searches for the point in every man on which he can lay hold of him and lead him to the Kingdom of God. The distinction of good and evil—for God or against God—he would make a life question for every man, in order to shew him for whom it has become this, that he can depend upon the God whom he is to fear. At the same time he did not by any means uniformly fall back upon sin, or even the universal sinfulness, but laid hold of individuals very diversely, and led them to God by different paths. The doctrinal concentration of redemption on sin was certainly not carried out by Paul alone; but, on the other hand, it did not in any way become the prevailing form for the preaching of the Gospel. On the contrary, the antitheses, night, error, dominion of demons, death and light, truth, deliverance, life, proved more telling in the Gentile Churches. The consciousness of universal sinfulness was first made the negative fundamental frame of mind of Christendom by Augustine.
1. Jesus announced the Kingdom of God which stands in opposition to the kingdom of the devil, and therefore also to the kingdom of the world, as a future Kingdom, and yet it is presented in his preaching as present; as an invisible, and yet it was visible—for one actually saw it. He lived and spoke within the circle of eschatological ideas which Judaism had developed more than two hundred years before: but he controlled them by giving them a new content and forcing them into a new direction. Without abrogating the law and the prophets he, on fitting occasions, broke through the national, political and sensuous eudaemonistic forms in which the nation was expecting the realisation of the dominion of God, but turned their attention at the same time to a future near at hand, in which believers would be delivered from the oppression of evil and sin, and would enjoy blessedness and dominion. Yet he declared that even now, every individual who is called into the kingdom may call on God as his Father, and be sure of the gracious will of God, the hearing of his prayers, the forgiveness of sin, and the protection of God even in this present life. But everything in this proclamation is directed to the life beyond: the certainty of that life is the power and earnestness of the Gospel.
2. The conditions of entrance to the kingdom are, in the first place, a complete change of mind, in which a man renounces the pleasures of this world, denies himself, and is ready to surrender all that he has in order to save his soul; then, a believing trust in God's grace which he grants to the humble and the poor, and therefore hearty confidence in Jesus as the Messiah chosen and called by God to realise his kingdom on the earth. The announcement is therefore directed to the poor, the suffering, those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, not to those who live, but to those who wish to be healed and redeemed, and finds them prepared for entrance into, and reception of the blessings of the kingdom of God, while it brings down upon the self-satisfied, the rich and those proud of their righteousness, the judgment of obduracy and the damnation of Hell.
3. The commandment of undivided love to God and the brethren, as the main commandment, in the observance of which righteousness is realised, and forming the antithesis to the selfish mind, the lust of the world, and every arbitrary impulse, corresponds to the blessings of the Kingdom of God, viz., forgiveness of sin, righteousness, dominion and blessedness. The standard of personal worth for the members of the King is self-sacrificing labour for others, not any technical mode of worship or legal preciseness. Renunciation of the world together with its goods, even of life itself in certain circumstances, is the proof of a man's sincerity and earnest in seeking the Kingdom of God; and the meekness which renounces every right, bears wrong patiently, requiting it with kindness, is the practical proof of love to God, the conduct that answers to God's perfection.
4. In the proclamation and founding of this kingdom, Jesus summoned men to attach themselves to him, because he had recognised himself to be the helper called by God, and therefore also the Messiah who was promised. He gradually declared himself to the people as such by the names he assumed, for the names "Anointed," "King," "Lord," "Son of David," "Son of Man," "Son of God," all denote the Messianic office, and were familiar to the greater part of the people. But though, at first, they express only the call, office, and power of the Messiah, yet by means of them and especially by the designation Son of God, Jesus pointed to a relation to God the Father, then and in its immediateness unique, as the basis of the office with which he was entrusted. He has, however, given no further explanation of the mystery of this relation than the declaration that the Son alone knoweth the Father, and that this knowledge of God and Sonship to God are secured for all others by the sending of the Son. In the proclamation of God as Father, as well as in the other proclamation that all the members of the kingdom following the will of God in love, are to become one with the Son and through him with the Father, the message of the realised kingdom of God receives its richest, inexhaustible content: the Son of the Father will be the first-born among many brethren.
5. Jesus as the Messiah chosen by God has definitely distinguished himself from Moses and all the Prophets: as his preaching and his work are the fulfilment of the law and the prophets, so he himself is not a disciple of Moses, but corrects that law-giver; he is not a Prophet, but Master and Lord. He proves this Lordship during his earthly ministry in the accomplishment of the mighty deeds given him to do, above all in withstanding the Devil and his kingdom, and—according to the law of the Kingdom of God—for that very reason in the service which he performs. In this service Jesus also reckoned the sacrifice of his life, designating it as a [Greek: lutron] which he offered for the redemption of man. But he declared at the same time that his Messianic work was not yet fulfilled in his subjection to death. On the contrary, the close is merely initiated by his death; for the completion of the kingdom will only appear when he returns in glory in the clouds of heaven to judgment. Jesus seems to have announced this speedy return a short time before his death, and to have comforted his disciples at his departure, with the assurance that he would immediately enter into a supramundane position with God.
6. The instructions of Jesus to his disciples are accordingly dominated by the thought that the end, the day and hour of which, however, no one knows, is at hand. In consequence of this, also, the exhortation to renounce all earthly good takes a prominent place. But Jesus does not impose ascetic commandments as a new law, far less does he see in asceticism as such, sanctification—he himself did not live as an ascetic, but was reproached as a wine-bibber—but he prescribed a perfect simplicity and purity of disposition, and a singleness of heart which remains invariably the same in trouble and renunciation, in possession and use of earthly good. A uniform equality of all in the conduct of life is not commanded: "To whom much is given, of him much shall be required." The disciples are kept as far from fanaticism and overrating of spiritual results as from asceticism. "Rejoice not that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." When they besought him to teach them to pray, he taught them the "Lord's prayer", a prayer which demands such a collected mind, and such a tranquil, childlike elevation of the heart to God, that it cannot be offered at all by minds subject to passion or preoccupied by any daily cares.
7. Jesus himself did not found a new religious community, but gathered round him a circle of disciples, and chose Apostles whom he commanded to preach the Gospel. His preaching was universalistic inasmuch as it attributed no value to ceremonialism as such, and placed the fulfilment of the Mosaic law in the exhibition of its moral contents, partly against or beyond the letter. He made the law perfect by harmonising its particular requirements with the fundamental moral requirements which were also expressed in the Mosaic law. He emphasised the fundamental requirements more decidedly than was done by the law itself, and taught that all details should be referred to them and deduced from them. The external righteousness of Pharisaism was thereby declared to be not only an outer covering, but also a fraud, and the bond which still united religion and nationality in Judaism was sundered. Political and national elements may probably have been made prominent in the hopes of the future, as Jesus appropriated them for his preaching. But from the conditions to which the realising of the hopes for the individual was attached, there already shone the clearer ray which was to eclipse those elements, and one saying such as Matt. XXII. 21, annulled at once political religion and religious politics.
Supplement 1.—The idea of the inestimable inherent value of every individual human soul, already dimly appearing in several psalms, and discerned by Greek Philosophers, though as a rule developed in contradiction to religion, stands out plainly in the preaching of Jesus. It is united with the idea of God as Father, and is the complement to the message of the communion of brethren realising itself in love. In this sense the Gospel is at once profoundly individualistic and Socialistic. The prospect of gaining life, and preserving it for ever, is therefore also the highest which Jesus has set forth, it is not, however, to be a motive, but a reward of grace. In the certainty of this prospect, which is the converse of renouncing the world, he has proclaimed the sure hope of the resurrection, and consequently the most abundant compensation for the loss of the natural life. Jesus put an end to the vacillation and uncertainty which in this respect still prevailed among the Jewish people of his day. The confession of the Psalmist, "Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon the earth that I desire beside thee", and the fulfilling of the Old Testament commandment, "Love thy neighbour as thyself", were for the first time presented in their connection in the person of Jesus. He himself therefore is Christianity, for the "impression of his person convinced the disciples of the facts of forgiveness of sin and the second birth, and gave them courage to believe in and to lead a new life." We cannot therefore state the "doctrine" of Jesus; for it appears as a supramundane life which must be felt in the person of Jesus, and its truth is guaranteed by the fact that such a life can be lived.
Supplement 2.—The history of the Gospel contains two great transitions, both of which, however, fall within the first century; from Christ to the first generation of believers, including Paul, and from the first, Jewish Christian, generation of these believers to the Gentile Christians, in other words: from Christ to the brotherhood of believers in Christ, and from this to the incipient Catholic Church. No later transitions in the Church can be compared with these in importance. As to the first, the question has frequently been asked, Is the Gospel of Christ to be the authority or the Gospel concerning Christ? But the strict dilemma here is false. The Gospel certainly is the Gospel of Christ. For it has only, in the sense of Jesus, fulfilled its Mission when the Father has been declared to men as he was known by the Son, and where the life is swayed by the realities and principles which ruled the life of Jesus Christ. But it is in accordance with the mind of Jesus and at the same time a fact of history, that this Gospel can only be appropriated and adhered to in connection with a believing surrender to the person of Jesus Christ. Yet every dogmatic formula is suspicious, because it is fitted to wound the spirit of religion; it should not at least be put before the living experience in order to evoke it; for such a procedure is really the admission of the half belief which thinks it necessary that the impression made by the person must be supplemented. The essence of the matter is a personal life which awakens life around it as the fire of one torch kindles another. Early as weakness of faith is in the Church of Christ, it is no earlier than the procedure of making a formulated and ostensibly proved confession the foundation of faith, and therefore demanding, above all, subjection to this confession. Faith assuredly is propagated by the testimony of faith, but dogma is not in itself that testimony.
The peculiar character of the Christian religion is conditioned by the fact that every reference to God is at the same time a reference to Jesus Christ, and vice versa. In this sense the Person of Christ is the central point of the religion, and inseparably united with the substance of piety as a sure reliance on God. Such a union does not, as is supposed, bring a foreign element into the pure essence of religion. The pure essence of religion rather demands such a union; for "the reverence for persons, the inner bowing before the manifestation of moral power and goodness is the root of all true religion" (W. Herrmann). But the Christian religion knows and names only one name before which it bows. In this rests its positive character, in all else, as piety, it is by its strictly spiritual and inward attitude, not a positive religion alongside of others, but religion itself. But just because the Person of Christ has this significance is the knowledge and understanding of the "historical Christ" required: for no other comes within the sphere of our knowledge. "The historical Christ" that, to be sure, is not the powerless Christ of contemporary history shewn to us through a coloured biographical medium, or dissipated in all sorts of controversies, but Christ as a power and as a life which towers above our own life, and enters into our life as God's Spirit and God's Word, (see Herrmann, Der Verkehr des Christen mit Gott. 2. Edit. 1892, (i.e., "The Fellowship of the Christian with God", an important work included in the present series of translations. Ed.) Kaehler, Der sog. historische Jesus und der geschichtliche biblische Christus, 1892). But historical labour and investigation are needed in order to grasp this Jesus Christ ever more firmly and surely.
As to the second transition, it brought with it the most important changes, which, however, became clearly manifest only after the lapse of some generations. They appear, first, in the belief in holy consecrations, efficacious in themselves, and administered by chosen persons; further, in the conviction, that the relation of the individual to God and Christ is, above all, conditioned on the acceptance of a definite divinely attested law of faith and holy writings; further, in the opinion that God has established Church arrangements, observance of which is necessary and meritorious, as well as in the opinion that a visible earthly community is the people of a new covenant. These assumptions, which formally constitute the essence of Catholicism as a religion, have no support in the teaching of Jesus, nay, offend against that teaching.
Supplement 3.—The question as to what new thing Christ has brought, answered by Paul in the words, "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new", has again and again been pointedly put since the middle of the second century by Apologists, Theologians and religious Philosophers, within and without the Church, and has received the most varied answers. Few of the answers have reached the height of the Pauline confession. But where one cannot attain to this confession, one ought to make clear to oneself that every answer which does not lie in the line of it is altogether unsatisfactory; for it is not difficult to set over against every article from the preaching of Jesus an observation which deprives it of its originality. It is the Person, it is the fact of his life that is new and creates the new. The way in which he called forth and established a people of God on earth, which has become sure of God and of eternal life; the way in which he set up a new thing in the midst of the old and transformed the religion of Israel into the religion that is the mystery of his Person, in which lies his unique and permanent position in the history of humanity.
Supplement 4.—The conservative position of Jesus towards the religious traditions of his people had the necessary result that his preaching and his Person were placed by believers in the frame-work of this tradition, which was thereby very soon greatly expanded. But, though this way of understanding the Gospel was certainly at first the only possible way, and though the Gospel itself could only be preserved by such means (see Sec. 1), yet it cannot be mistaken that a displacement in the conception of the Person and preaching of Jesus, and a burdening of religious faith, could not but forthwith set in, from which developments followed, the premises of which would be vainly sought for in the words of the Lord (see Sec.Sec. 3, 4). But here the question arises as to whether the Gospel is not inseparably connected with the eschatological world-renouncing element with which it entered into the world, so that its being is destroyed where this is omitted. A few words may be devoted to this question. The Gospel possesses properties which oppose every positive religion, because they depreciate it, and these properties form the kernel of the Gospel. The disposition which is devoted to God, humble, ardent and sincere in its love to God and to the brethren, is, as an abiding habit, law, and at the same time, a gift of the Gospel, and also finally exhausts it. This quiet, peaceful element was at the beginning strong and vigorous, even in those who lived in the world of ecstasy and expected the world to come. One may be named for all, Paul. He who wrote 1 Cor. XIII. and Rom. VIII. should not, in spite of all that he has said elsewhere, be called upon to witness that the nature of the Gospel is exhausted in its world-renouncing, ecstatic and eschatological elements, or at least, that it is so inseparably united with these as to fall along with them. He who wrote those chapters, and the greater than he who promised the kingdom of heaven to children, and to those who were hungering and thirsting for righteousness, he to whom tradition ascribes the words: "Rejoice not that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven"—both attest that the Gospel lies above the antagonisms between this world and the next, work and retirement from the world, reason and ecstasy, Judaism and Hellenism. And because it lies above them it may be united with either, as it originally unfolded its powers under the ruins of the Jewish religion. But still more; it not only can enter into union with them, it must do so if it is otherwise the religion of the living and is itself living. It has only one aim; that man may find God and have him as his own God, in order to gain in him humility and patience, peace, joy and love. How it reaches this goal through the advancing centuries, whether with the co-efficients of Judaism or Hellenism, of renunciation of the world or of culture, of mysticism or the doctrine of predestination, of Gnosticism or Agnosticism, and whatever other incrustations there may yet be which can defend the kernel, and under which alone living elements can grow—all that belongs to the centuries. However each individual Christian may reckon to the treasure itself the earthly vessel in which he hides his treasure; it is the duty and the right, not only of the religious, but also of the historical estimate to distinguish between the vessel and the treasure; for the Gospel did not enter into the world as a positive statutory religion, and cannot therefore have its classic manifestation in any form of its intellectual or social types, not even in the first. It is therefore the duty of the historian of the first century of the Church, as well as that of those which follow, not to be content with fixing the changes of the Christian religion, but to examine how far the new forms were capable of defending, propagating and impressing the Gospel itself. It would probably have perished if the forms of primitive Christianity had been scrupulously maintained in the Church; but now primitive Christianity has perished in order that the Gospel might be preserved. To study this progress of the development, and fix the significance of the newly received forms for the kernel of the matter, is the last and highest task of the historian who himself lives in his subject. He who approaches from without must be satisfied with the general view that in the history of the Church some things have always remained, and other things have always been changing.
Literature.—Weiss. Biblical Theology of the New Testament. T. and T. Clark. Wittichen. Beitr. z. bibl. Theol. 3. Thle. 1864-72.
Schuereer. Die Predigt Jesu in ihrem Verhaltniss z. A.T.u. z. Judenthum, 1882.
Wellhausen. Abriss der Gesch. Israels u. Juda's (Skizzen u. Vorarbeiten) I. Heft. 1884.
Baldensperger. Das Selbstbewusstsein Jesu im Licht der Messianischen Hoffnungen seiner Zeit, 1888, (2 Aufl. 1891). The prize essays of Schmoller and Issel, Ueber die Lehre vom Reiche Gottes im N. Test. 1891 (besides Gunkel in d. Theol. Lit. Ztg. 1893. N deg.. 2).
Wendt. Die Lehre Jesu. (The teaching of Jesus. T. and T. Clark. English translation.)
Joh. Weiss. Die Predigt Jesu vom Reiche Gottes, 1892.
Bousset. Jesu Predigt in ihrem Gegensatz zum Judenthum, 1892.
C. Holtzman. Die Offenbarung durch Christus und das Neue Testament (Zeitschr. f. Theol. und Kirche I. p. 367 ff.) The special literature in the above work of Weiss, and in the recent works on the life of Jesus, and the Biblical Theology of the New Testament by Beyschlag. (T.T. Clark)
Sec. 3. The Common Preaching concerning Jesus Christ in the First Generation of Believers.
Men had met with Jesus Christ and in him had found the Messiah. They were convinced that God had made him to be wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. There was no hope that did not seem to be certified in him, no lofty idea which had not become in him a living reality. Everything that one possessed was offered to him. He was everything lofty that could be imagined. Everything that can be said of him was already said in the first two generations after his appearance. Nay, more: he was felt and known to be the ever living one, Lord of the world and operative principle of one's own life. "To me to live is Christ and to die is gain;" "He is the way, the truth and the life." One could now for the first time be certain of the resurrection and eternal life, and with that certainty the sorrows of the world melted away like mist before the sun, and the residue of this present time became as a day. This group of facts which the history of the Gospel discloses in the world, is at the same time the highest and most unique of all that we meet in that history; it is its seal and distinguishes it from all other universal religions. Where in the history of mankind can we find anything resembling this, that men who had eaten and drunk with their Master should glorify him, not only as the revealer of God, but as the Prince of life, as the Redeemer and Judge of the world, as the living power of its existence, and that a choir of Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and Barbarians, wise and foolish, should along with them immediately confess that out of the fulness of this one man they have received grace for grace? It has been said that Islam furnishes the unique example of a religion born in broad daylight, but the community of Jesus was also born in the clear light of day. The darkness connected with its birth is occasioned not only by the imperfection of the records, but by the uniqueness of the fact, which refers us back to the uniqueness of the Person of Jesus.
But though it certainly is the first duty of the historian to signalise the overpowering impression made by the Person of Jesus on the disciples, which is the basis of all further developments, it would little become him to renounce the critical examination of all the utterances which have been connected with that Person with the view of elucidating and glorifying it; unless he were with Origen to conclude that Jesus was to each and all whatever they fancied him to be for their edification. But this would destroy the personality. Others are of opinion that we should conceive him, in the sense of the early communities, as the second God who is one in essence with the Father, in order to understand from this point of view all the declarations and judgments of these communities. But this hypothesis leads to the most violent distortion of the original declarations, and the suppression or concealment of their most obvious features. The duty of the historian rather consists in fixing the common features of the faith of the first two generations, in explaining them as far as possible from the belief that Jesus is Messiah, and in seeking analogies for the several assertions. Only a very meagre sketch can be given in what follows. The presentation of the matter in the frame-work of the history of dogma does not permit of more, because as noted above, Sec. 1, the presupposition of dogma forming itself in the Gentile Church is not the whole infinitely rich abundance of early Christian views and perceptions. That presupposition is simply a proclamation of the one God and of Christ transferred to Greek soil, fixed merely in its leading features and otherwise very plastic, accompanied by a message regarding the future, and demands for a holy life. At the same time the Old Testament and the early Christian Palestinian writings with the rich abundance of their contents, did certainly exercise a silent mission in the earliest communities, till by the creation of the canon they became a power in the Church.