Page images

the additions made and observed by Scribes and Pharisees. Hence they recognized no resurrection, which was not promised by the law of Moses. They also inclined towards the notions and customs of their Hellenic neighbors. But the strength of Israel was with the party of the Pharisees, and the Sadducaic party had outwardly to conform in order to maintain their political influence.'


It was characteristic of the period of excessive development of legal observance that the spirit of prophecy, which of old had been a living guidance to livApocalyptic ing men, abandoned the present and its needs, and occupied itself with that future which was to make amends for all the sufferings and untoward circumstances of the Jews. This is true even of the Book of Daniel, dating from early Maccabean times, which from its fervid spirit exerted great influence and was received into the Hebrew canon. Its gaze is fixed upon the future, and even its moving exhortations to humble righteousness before God speak not from the point of view of the worth of a present righteous life, but look far beyond the reach of earthly realization to the kingdom of the saints to come. More emptied of reality and life are the later elaborate Apocalypses of Enoch, Baruch, and Ezra. They dogmatize as artificially on the Judgment Day and life to come as the schools of the Scribes upon the Law. The living force of Old Testament prophecy is gone from them.


The future lots of men were regarded from two points of view, the one Hellenic, and the other in the main Jewish, though influenced by Persian thought. Immortal- Greek philosophy tended to view the soul of ity and man as the man himself and as immortal. Resurrecthis view Hellenized Jewish thinkers attached tion. themselves, and regarded souls as living after death, immortal, and punished or rewarded according to the sinfulness or righteousness of their mortal lives in the 1 See Schürer, ibid., ii, ii, 28, etc.

[ocr errors]

flesh.' But the real Jewish view looked for a resurrection of the dead at the Judgment Day, or for the Messianic Kingdom, for which the Greek thought of continuous immortality of the soul left no proper place. According to later conceptions, when that Kingdom came, there would be, not simply a restoration to power of the Israel then living in the flesh, but a resurrection from the dead of all departed righteous ones, if not of sinners. The Book of Daniel gives the outline which subsequent apocalypses were to elaborate." "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was, since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book, and many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars, for ever and

[merged small][ocr errors]

The Messiah.

Pictures of the last times disclose the reward which the Jews expected from obedience to the law. The feature in them altogether Jewish was that of the Messiah. Daniel sees the vision of one coming in the heavens like unto a son of man. Under this form the prophet probably intended to figure the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom should succeed the evil kingdoms of the world and have no end. But the figure, taken more literally, bore another meaning which may have been also in the prophet's mind. The writer of a part of the Book of Enoch took up the phrase 1 See especially the Book of Wisdom, the teachings of which are not clear on the point, whether at death the wicked are annihilated or kept in pain. 2 For the details of these later thoughts of the Messianic time, as drawn out in Enoch and the Apocalypses of Baruch, etc., see Schürer, ibid., ii, ii, pp. 126-187.

3 Daniel xii, 1-4.

▲ Ibid., vii, 13, 14, 17, 18.


the son of man,' " and applied it definitely to the personal Messiah,' whom he viewed as more than human, named before the creation of the sun and stars, chosen and hidden with God before the world was made; his is perfect righteousness and his power from eternity to eternity.'

A description of the Messiah-King, whose might lies in his perfect righteousness and in the power of holiness from his God, is given in the Psalms of Solomon:

"Behold, O Lord, and raise up unto them their king the son of David, in the time which thou, O God, knowest, that he may reign over Israel thy servant; and gird him with strength that he may break in pieces them that rule unjustly. Purge Jerusalem from the heathen that trample her down to destroy her, with wisdom and with righteousness. He shall thrust out the sinners from the inheritance. He shall destroy the ungodly nations with the word of his mouth, so that at his rebuke the nations may flee before him, and he shall convict the sinners in the thoughts of their hearts. And he shall gather together a holy people, whom he shall lead in righteousness; and shall judge the tribes of the people that hath been sanctified by the Lord his God. And he shall not suffer iniquity to lodge in their midst; and none that knoweth wickedness shall dwell with them. And the sojourner and the stranger shall dwell with them no more. He shall judge the nations and the peoples with the wisdom of his righteousness. And he shall possess the nations of the heathens to serve him beneath his yoke; and he shall glorify the Lord in a place to be seen of the whole earth; and he shall purge Jerusalem and make it ! holy, even as it was in the days of old. So that the nations may come from the ends of the earth to see his glory, bringing as gifts her sons that had fainted; and a righteous king and taught of God is he that reigneth over them; and there shall be no iniquity in his days in their midst, for all shall be holy, and their king is the Lord

1 Enoch xlvi, 1-4; xlviii, 2, and elsewhere in the chapters up to lxxii. Ibid., xlvi-xlix.



ر شوری

[ocr errors]


Messiah (xpotos núρios). For he shall not put his trust in horse or rider and bow, nor shall he multiply unto himself gold and silver for war, nor by ships shall he gather confidence for the day of battle. For he shall smite the earth with the word of his mouth even for evermore. He shall bless the people of the Lord with wisdom and gladness. He himself also is pure from sin, so that he may rule a mighty people, and rebuke princes and overthrow sinners by the might of his word. And he shall not faint all his days (because he leaneth) upon his God; for God shall cause him to be mighty through the spirit of holiness (πνεύματι ἁγίῳ) and wise through the counsel of understanding, with might and righteousness. And the blessing of the Lord is with him in might, and his hope in the Lord shall not faint.""

The Messiah was usually the central feature of the final day of glory and the kingdom of the saints. The times and manner of his coming vary. The matter of supreme importance for the Jewish race was how its Messiah and Messianic glory should be awaited and attained. What was the nature of the kingdom of the saints? And by what means were their enemies to be subjected? The thought of the Messiah evidently included loftiest conceptions of his righteousness and spiritual power from God; it also included many gleaming thoughts of his great power as the coming king of men. Was his coming to mean the spiritual regeneration and salvation of the world? Or was it to usher in the national domination of the Jewish race over the proud and hateful Gentiles? These were the two strains of expectation, the one prophetic, spiritual; the other royal and material. The mass of the Jewish people, with firm, mistaken faith in their God, interpreted the hope in accordance with their race-pride and hatred, and relied on it to their complete overthrow by Titus and their final destruction as a nation under Hadrian.

1 Psalms of Solomon, xvii (Ryle and James), date about 70 B.C. See Schürer, ibid., ii, ii, 137-187.




HE origin of Christianity cannot be scientifically
treated. Science is explanation, an explanation


of antecedent and consequent, cause and effect. It may seem that no great matter of the past is entirely open to scientific treatment, since historical knowledge is always partial. But with regard to other great events, partial knowledge points towards explanation, suggests that with fuller knowledge the matter might be set forth scientifically in its complete causal setting. Our historical knowledge respecting the origin of Christianity is also partial; but so far as it reaches, it points, not to explanation, but to mystery.

Origin of Christianity a Scientific Dilemma.

The dilemma is this. It is certain that Christianity had birth in the intense belief of the apostolic circle that Christ was risen from the dead. To this belief there is one explanation,-the fact that he was living, and in some mode had manifested himself to his disciples. Every other hypothesis is involved in contradictions; that is to say, enough historic fact is known of the life and death of Jesus Christ, of the people and the times in which he lived, of his followers before his death and afterwards, to contradict every other hypothesis suggested; nay, more, to point to the exclusion of any hypothesis save the verity of the resurrection. Hence, either the belief of the apostolic circle in the resurrection of Christ sprang from the only fact which accounts for it, a fact transcending scientific treatment,-or this fact never occurred, we have


« PreviousContinue »