Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/493

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

he derives the above citation from the preface of the fifteenth edition of the "Vie de Jésus." My copy of "Les Evangiles," dated 1877, contains a list of Renan's "Œuvres Complètes" at the head of which I find "Vie de Jésus," 15e Edition. It is, therefore, a later work than the edition of the "Vie de Jésus" which Dr. Wace quotes. Now "Les Evangiles," as its name implies, treats fully of the questions respecting the date and authorship of the Gospels; and any one who desired, not merely to use M. Renan's expressions for controversial purposes, but to give a fair account of his views in their full significance, would, I think, refer to the later source.

If this course had been taken. Dr. Wace might have found some as decided expressions of opinion in favor of Luke's authorship of the third Gospel as he has discovered in "The Apostles." I mention this circumstance because I desire to point out that, taking even the strongest of Renan's statements, I am still at a loss to see how it justifies that large-sounding phrase "practical surrender of the adverse case." For, on p. 438 of "Les Evangiles," Renan speaks of the way in which Luke's "excellent intentions" have led him to torture history in the Acts; he declares Luke to be the founder of that "eternal fiction which is called ecclesiastical history"; and, on the preceding page, he talks of the "myth" of the Ascension—with its mise en scene voulue. At p. 435, I find "Luc, ou l'auteur quel qu'il soit du troisième Evangile" [Luke, or whoever may be the author of the third Gospel]; at p. 280, the accounts of the Passion, the death and the resurrection of Jesus are said to be "peu historiques" [little historical]; at p. 283, "La valeur historique du troisième Evangile est sûrement moindre que celles des deux premiers" [the historical value of the third Gospel is surely less than that of the first two].

A Pyrrhic sort of victory for orthodoxy this "surrender"! And, all the while, the scientific student of theology knows that the more reason there may be to believe that Luke was the companion of Paul, the more doubtful becomes his credibility, if he really wrote the Acts. For, in that case, he could not fail to have been acquainted with Paul's account of the Jerusalem conference, and he must have consciously misrepresented it. We may next turn to the essential part of Dr. Wace's citation ("Nineteenth Century," p. 365)[1] touching the first Gospel:

St. Matthew evidently deserves peculiar confidence for the discourses. Here are "the oracles"—the very notes taken while the memory of the instruction of Jesus was living and definite.

M. Renan here expresses the very general opinion as to the existence of a collection of "logia," having a different origin from

  1. "Popular Science Monthly," May, 1889, p. 79.