Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/351

This page has been validated.
331
CHRISTIANITY AND AGNOSTICISM.

Testament seem to me often extravagantly skeptical and farfetched, and though. I can not, therefore, quite agree with Prof. Huxley that his "Lehrbuch" gives "a remarkably full and fair account of the present results of criticism," yet I agree that it gives on the whole a full and fair account of the course of criticism and of the opinions of its chief representatives. Instead, therefore, of imitating Prof. Huxley, and pronouncing an ipse dixit as to the state of criticism or the opinions of critics, I am very glad to be able to refer to a book of which the authority is recognized by him, and which will save both my readers and myself from embarking on the wide and waste ocean of the German criticism of the last fifty years. "Holtzmann, then," says Prof, Huxley in a note on page 489, "has no doubt that the Sermon on the Mount is a compilation, or, as he calls it in his recently published 'Lehrbuch' (p. 372), ' an artificial mosaic work.'" Now, let the reader attend to what Holtzmann really says in the passage referred to. His words are: "In the so-called Sermon on the Mount (Matt, v-vii) we find constructed, on the basis of a real discourse of fundamental significance, a skillfully articulated mosaic work."[1] The phrase was not so long a one that Prof. Huxley need have omitted the important words by which those he quotes are qualified. Holtzmann recognizes, as will be seen, that a real discourse of fundamental significance underlies the Sermon on the Mount. That is enough for my purpose; for no reasonable person will suppose that the fundamental significance of the real discourse has been entirely obliterated, especially as the main purport of the sermon in St. Luke is of the same character. But Prof. Huxley must know perfectly well, as every one else does, that he would be maintaining a paradox, in which every critic of repute, to say nothing of every man of common sense, would be against him, if he were to maintain that the Sermon on the Mount does not give a substantially correct idea of our Lord's teaching. But to admit this is to admit my point, so he rides off on a side issue as to the question of the precise form in which the sermon was delivered,

I must, however, take some notice of Prof. Huxley's argument on this irrelevant issue, as it affords a striking illustration of that superior method of ratiocination in these matters on which he prides himself. I need not trouble the reader much on the questions he raises as to the relations of the first three Gospels. Any one who cares to see a full and thorough discussion of that difficult question, conducted with a complete knowledge of foreign criticism on the subject, and at the same time marked by the greatest lucidity and interest, may be referred to the admirable

  1. "In der sog. Bergpredigt, Mt. 5-7, gibt sich eine, auf Grund einer wirklichen Rede von fundamentaler Bedeutung sich erhebende, kunstreich gegliederte Mosaikarbeit."