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§ 5. THE QUESTION AS TO AN OLD TESTAMENT, JUDAISTIC
PREVIOUS HISTORY There still remains one final preliminary question before we come to our main subject. Every period of history whose presentation we may undertake has a preparatory history in which its roots somehow lie, and therefore every historical undertaking usually begins with a review of that preparatory history. Is it necessary for us to proceed in the same way here in the case of New Testament theology? There can be no doubt that the teaching of the New Testament, with all the originality of revelation which it claims, has a historical presupposition and preparatory stage—the religious teaching of the Old Testament. The gospel unfolds itself within a national community, which already has a religious history of two thousand years behind it, and it is throughout connected with the religious possessions of this community and with the results of its history. Its views of God and of the world, of sin and law, of the blessing and way of salvation, of the kingdom of God and its Bearer the Messiah, are all rooted in the Old Testament. The apostles look upon the Old Testament as Holy Scripture even for the Christian communities. They verify their teaching by it, and Jesus Himself brings His preaching into the closest relation to the law and the prophets. “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matt. v. 17). This fulfilling does not indeed leave the Old Testament views and doctrines as they were, but distinctly advances and transforms them. There is not an idea in the New Testament which is not somehow rooted in the Old, but there is not an idea in the Old Testament which does not become something essentially new and higher in the New. Accordingly, Jesus and His apostles consider the Old Testament in a light in which its own authors did not consider it, in the light of that new and perfect revelation of which also it is truly said: “Old things have passed away, behold
: all things have become new." It is questionable whether this relation demands a preceding presentation of Old
1 Cf. Oehler, Old Testament Theology, p. 66 ; H. Schultz, Old Testament Theology [both Trans. T. & T. Clark].
Testament theology as an Introduction to New Testament theology. Nothing, of course, but a sketch of the former could be attempted, for a searching and detailed presentation would be no Introduction, but an independent work which would require a special call and training. But a mere sketch would only offer that which the reader of a New Testament theology already has, a general survey of the Old Testament history of religion. It could not offer the very thing that would chiefly make it helpful to New Testament theology, viz. the Old Testament roots of the several New Testament concepts and notions. In these circumstances
it seems allowable, and even imperative, to represent the New Testament theology in its actual novelty without further preface, and only bring out at each step in its exposition the distinction as well as the connection it has with that of the Old Testament.
But must we not at last give an introductory presentation of the final stage of the religious history of Israel, that condition of the Jewish religion which the nascent Christianity finds existent and from which it separates ? There can be no question that the religious thought and life of the Jewish people was not stationary from the time of the origin of the latest Old Testament canonic writing. Though the period when this writing originated be much later than Jewish tradition asserts, not in the Persian, but in the Maccabean age, yet the writings of the last half-century before Christ, the biblical Apocrypha and the non-biblical pseudepigrapha, as well as the writings of Philo and Josephus, and above all the New Testament itself, testify to a movement of mind surging round the nascent Christianity, quite different from what the latest psalmists and prophets would lead us to expect. And, assuredly he who undertakes to write a history of the origin of Christianity, and in particular the life of Jesus, will not be at liberty to omit a description of this historical soil, just because the history of the birth of the gospel is completed in the reciprocal action between it and that which was transplanted into it from above. But it is quite a different matter when our task is to present the original doctrinal ideas of Christianity in their historical development. This doctrinal development has almost no connection at all with the peculiar teaching of the Judaistic period; at anyrate, the connection is such that the Judaistic world of ideas, in itself meagre and obscure, does not throw any special light upon the understanding of it.
Of course, Jesus is formally a child of His people and time, so far as concerns His world of ideas and His speech. He also makes use of such forms of presentation as became current only in the post-canonic age, such as, above
all, the concept of the kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God. And the apostles likewise, especially Paul, are here and there in their Christological views fond of using theologoumena of the Jewish schools, such as “the creative word,” “the hypostatic image,” “ the spiritual Adam," “ the man from heaven." Jesus and His apostles may also have made use of a series of prophetic and eschatological views which are reproduced in the Jewish Apocalypses. Yet all these are but forms of thought and presentation, into which they are the first to breathe any spirit at all, and especially the new Christian spirit of which their Jewish predecessors had no idea. Notwithstanding these meagre and purely formal connections, we have, speaking generally, rather a relation of opposition to the Judaistic doctrines and modes of thought. We shall find that Jesus kept Himself completely independent of the different tendencies and modes of thought which prevailed among the Jewish people of His day; that He was engaged in a war of death and life with that one which was predominant, the Pharisaic and Rabbinic; and that He recognised the one contemporary appearance with which He had any affinity, John the Baptist, as His forerunner, but not as His leader and master. It was from the first a main feature of His teaching, which His disciples also received from Him, to pass beyond the ideas of post-canonic development to the canonical, biblical, and specially prophetic, from the Pharisaic precepts of men to the living word of God (cf. Mark vii. 1 f.).
From all this it may already be seen that a preliminary development of the Judaistic didactic ideas, especially of the Pharisaic and Rabbinic, is in no way indispensable to the understanding of the teaching of Jesus and His apostles, quite apart from the fact that we have not sufficient sources at our command to gain a clear conception of the state of preChristian ideas of the time.1 We may therefore disregard such a so-called historical preface to New Testament theology with a good conscience, and allow that to speak to us in all its novelty and originality which, at all events, bears in itself the character of novelty and originality in a greater degree than anything else in the whole history of the world.
1 The very praiseworthy presentation by Weber of the “Altsynogale Theologie" brings to view only a decidedly post-Christian stage of development.
THE TEACHING OF JESUS ACCORDING
TO THE SYNOPTISTS
From an early period Christendom directed its attention more to the significance of Christ's person and work than to the significance of His teaching. The former occupies throughout the foreground even in the apostolic speeches and Epistles, while there is little reference to His words; and the Church since then, even the Protestant, preaches, indeed, a doctrine about Christ, but only looks, as it were in passing, at Jesus' own teaching, in the doctrine of His prophetic office, which seems as though it were but introductory to His priestly and kingly offices. An opposite current has indeed set in in recent times. An effort has been made to insist upon the teaching of Jesus, as contrasted with the doctrine about Christ, as Christianity proper ; but this procedure has not been able to parry the reproach of explaining Christianity away. What is the right and true attitude here? As it seems equally questionable to impute to Christendom a thorough misunderstanding of that on which it rests, or, again, to lower to a subordinate place in His life-work that in which Jesus manifestly found the vocation of His life, the question at once is forced upon us as to the relation of His teaching to His person and His work. The investigation