Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/92

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
80
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

have no trustworthy evidence of what our Lord taught and believed.

But Prof. Huxley seems to have been apprehensive that M. Renan would fail him, for he proceeds, in the passage I have quoted, to throw him over and to take refuge behind "the main results of biblical criticism, as they are set forth in the works of Strauss, Baur, Reuss, and Volkmar, for example." It is scarcely comprehensible how a writer, who has acquaintance enough with this subject to venture on Prof, Huxley's sweeping assertions, can have ventured to couple together those four names for such a purpose. "Strauss, Baur, Reuss, and Volkmar"! Why, they are absolutely destructive of one another! Baur rejected Strauss's theory and set up one of his own; while Reuss and Volkmar in their turn have each dealt fatal blows at Baur's. As to Strauss, I need not spend more time on him than to quote the sentence in which Baur himself puts him out of court on this particular controversy. He says,[1] "The chief peculiarity of Strauss's work is, that it is a criticism of the Gospel history without a criticism of the Gospels." Strauss, in fact, explained the miraculous stories in the Gospels by resolving them into myths, and it was of no importance to his theory how the documents originated. But Baur endeavored, by a minute criticism of the Gospels themselves, to investigate the historical circumstances of their origin; and he maintained that they were Tendenz-Schriften, compiled in the second century, with polemical purposes. Volkmar, however, is in direct conflict with Baur on this point, and in the very work to which Prof. Huxley refers,[2] he enumerates (p. 18) among "the written testimonies of the first century"—besides St. Paul's epistles to the Galatians, Corinthians, and Romans, and the apocalypse of St. John—"the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, according to John Mark of Jerusalem, written a few years after the destruction of Jerusalem, between the years 70 and 80 of our reckoning—about 75, probably; to be precise, about 73," and he proceeds to give a detailed account of it, "according to the oldest text, and particularly the Vatican text," as indispensable to his account of Jesus of Nazareth. He treats it as written (p. 172) either by John Mark of Jerusalem himself, or by a younger friend of his. Baur, therefore, having upset Strauss, Volkmar proceeds to upset Baur; and what does Reuss do? I quote again from that splendid French edition of the Bible, on which Prof. Huxley so much relies. On page 88 of Reuss's introduction to the synoptic Gospels, he sums up "the results he believes to have been obtained by critical analysis," under thirteen heads; and the following are some of them:

  1. "Kritische Untersuchungen über die kanonischen Evangelien," 1817, p. 41.
  2. "Jesus Nazarenus und die erste christliche Zeit," 1882.