FISHER OF MEN 9
seemed definite messengers or signs from God. Whence did the inner power of this Jesus come? How was one to understand the mystery of His personal Being? What did His activity mean in the plan of Divine Providence?
Israel, like Babylon, Persia and India, believed that its greatest spirits could return to earth in the guise of epochal men who gave body to, perfected, the "spirit and power" of their precursors. Moses, Elias and Jeremiah were like suns behind the clouds of contemporary time. The universal expectation of One who would come to fulfill the deepest hopes of the people was coupled with such names. This superhuman Bearer of a new era was also termed the "Son of Man" in the apocalyptic writings which prophesied the "future state." His name and person were set down in the Book of Daniel, which was given its final form about 300 B.C. The author of this book beholds in a vision the coming Perfecter of the history of God's chosen people One in whom the Divine Spirit shall dwell. To Him the visions of die seer point, incorporating a daringly new attempt to comprehend the meaning of world history, indeed of history itself. For centuries the Jewish people had derived an incomparable strength and depth of insight into die flood of historic events from these Prophecies of Daniel. Nor was die fountain dry in Jesus' rime.
The great culture of the Greeks took man for its starting point and fashioned him, after the manner of a sculptor's hand, into a harmoni- ous whole which rested in itself or rather only seemed to rest, for when die work was done it was apparent that man as man was not yet the whole, complete Man. Israel never parted company with the idea that everything human rests within a super-human reality and is significant for that reason. It lives out of the hand of its God, Who is holy, just and wise, even though He permits His people to fall into misery and allows the enemy even Jahwe's own enemy to triumph. For all things are but tools in His hand and serve His end. But this end: the day will come when it shall be attained and one of His holy people shall be His instrument, the founder of a Divine do- minion over all nations for all rime. Heavy, stifled eras seek to breathe by taking refuge in a bygone age of gold, or in the liberating visions of hope. From the human point of view, the Apocalyptic Books up until the time of the Baptist also possessed this character.