« PoprzedniaDalej »
which Jesus had only to make His own openly in order to kindle in His favour any enthusiasm of which His people were capable.
§ 3. ATTITUDE OF JESUS TO THIS IDEA OF MESSIAU
He did not, however, do this, although He was conscious of being Israel's Messiah. There can be no doubt that He recognised Himself in the prophecies about a God-sent deliverer of Israel, and that even the name Messiah resounded in His heart. He was crucified for the confession of His Messiahship, and the statement that He, Jesus, is the Christ, that is, the Anointed, the Messiah, has so far become the fundamental Christian confession, that the two names Jesus and Christ have grown together as into one in the usage of His Church from the beginning. And He did not advance by degrees in the course of His public life from a mere prophetic to the Messianic consciousness; such an assumption would introduce a division into His teaching of which no trace can be discovered. The Messianic consciousness existed in Him from the beginning of His public life, as the presupposition of all His preaching and work. The narrative of His baptism, with which the Gospels begin His public life, is nothing but the birth-history of this consciousness, His awakening at God's touch to the clear sense of it, the anointing of the secret child of God to be the Son of God in the Messianic sense. When He ascribes to Himself power on earth to forgive sins, or in the circle of His disciples declares Himself to be the Bridegroom and them the friends of the Bridegroom, for whom there is no more longing and waiting, but only marriage rejoicings; when He describes Himself to the doubting Baptist as He who is to come; when, in the Sermon on the Mount, He contrasts Himself with Moses as the greater, as the fulfiller of the law and the prophets,—all this is possible only from a consciousness which raises Him far above the position of a mere prophet, the consciousness of being the personal founder and bearer of the kingdom of God, that is, the Messiah. Yet He did not utter this name, or throw it as an exciting watchword among the multitude. On the contrary, He stopped the mouths of the possessed, the mentally diseased, who, thrilled by His mighty personality, met Him with the cry of what others may have secretly thought, “ Thou art the Holy One of God,” that is, the Messiah. Only at a late period, and on a lonely tour, did He accept from the lips of the Twelve the confession, “ Thou art the Christ," and then forbade them to declare it to the people. Only at the very last, on the threshold of death, at His triumphant entrance to Jerusalem, did He cease to suppress the Messianic homage of His adherents, and for the first time freely and openly acknowledged Himself to be the Messiah, therewith signing His death warrant. And it is not difficult to discover the motives which led to this remarkable procedure. The same gulf lay between the popular idea of Messiah and His own Messianic consciousness, as lay between the popular idea of the kingdom of God and His own. In the popular expectation everything was converted into the sensible and worldly, and the name Messiah, in particular, had become the symbol of passionate political ideas of freedom and universal dominion, which lay much nearer the heart of the multitude than the spiritual need and the promised help of God. And therefore, if Jesus from the first had thrown the exciting name Messiah among the people, He would have called forth the most fatal misunderstandings and excitements, and have closed rather than opened a way for the entrance of His infinitely higher idea of the kingdom. He found Himself with regard to His people in the infinitely difficult position of proclaiming the kingdom of God to them without attaching to it its given correlate, the idea of the Messiah. There was set before Him from the first-after the careful consideration and rejection of the popular Messianic expectations attested in the narrative of the temptation, the almost hopeless task of first begetting a purer, higher, more spiritual idea of Messiah, in the mirror of which He might be recognised as the Messiah who had come. He therefore postpones His kingly rights until His work shall be completed, and He shall come in the glory of His Father (Matt. xvi. 27; cf. the use of the name King in Matt. xxv. 34). He veils His majesty in the simple, humble mantle of the prophet (Mark vi. 4; Luke xxiv. 19), in order to win, in that character, at a later period, and in the closest confidence, from a Peter the confession if belief, revealed not by flesh and blood, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. xvi. 13). But He was compelled from the first, as is clear from Matt. xvi. 14, to disappoint the hopes which the multitude had placed on Him, nay, He had to fall a victim to the disappointment of their false Messianic expectations, in order really to bring in the kingdom of God, whose anointed King He in point of fact was.
§ 4. THE NAME SON OF MAN: INTERPRETATIONS TO BE
But if Jesus for these reasons avoided the name Messiah, He was under the necessity of giving Himself a name in His preaching which would somehow express His personal relation to the idea of the kingdom. And He did give Himself such a name—the Son of Man, which is the really significant description of Himself used by the Synoptics. It appears more than fifty times without reckoning the parallel passages, and there can be the less doubt of its originality that it is found only in His mouth, and not applied to Him by others. This name—just like the expression kingdom of heaven—did not pass over into the usage of the apostolic age. But Jesus in describing Himself to His hearers as the Son of Man, has propounded a riddle which has come down to our own day. Theology has only recently occupied itself in earnest with the solution of the riddle, and opinions on it are so divergent, that the way for its examination must be cleared by setting aside a whole series of them. We must, above all, reject that view, which is still common, that Jesus meant to describe His human nature by the name Son of Man, just as He meant to describe His divine nature by the name Son of God. There is no biblical ground for that view what
1 Once only, Acts vii. 56, the dying Stephen-in manifest allusion to like words of Jesus Himself before the Sanhedrim, Matt. xxvi. 64– describes Him as the Son of Man ; Rev. i. 13, xiv. 14, are allusions to Dan. vii. 13, and not to Jesus' own words.
2 Cf. specially Holtzmann's “Kritische Uebersicht der bisherigen Verhandlungen über den Namen Menschensohn,” in Hilgenfeld's Zeitsch. f. Wissensch. Theol. 1865, and Usteri, Die Selbstbezeichnung Jesu als des Menschen Sohn, 1886. Tvo discussions in which the modern literature is adduced.
f notist and he
ever. The concepts of the divine and human nature in Christ's person belong to the theology of the fifth century, and not to the biblical mode of thinking or speaking, and Jesus could
!!, not possibly have felt any need of again and again assuring, His contemporaries of His true human nature, which none of
the Beelsee them could doubt. The turn which has recently been given to
X this dogmatic interpretation is no improvement: “He who among mere men again and again calls Himself the Son of Man, means thereby to declare that His human existence is something miraculous, a form of existence which is not original to Him."i The logic of this interpretation is odd. He who makes a special claim to an attribute which he has in common with many, may mean to suggest that he is what others are only in a special and higher sense, but never that he is the very opposite, or that he was originally something else. And therefore mere logic would rather justify the interpretation of Schleiermacher, which is also adopted by Neander and Reuss, that Jesus describes Himself simply as man, as the ideal man, wishing to suggest the very thing which Paul means by the second Adam, the spiritual and heavenly man. In support of this interpretation may be adduced Mark ii. 27, 28; John v. 27; but the great majority of passages do not suggest it, and the idea itself contains an element of abstract theology which seems out of place in the mind of Jesus. The view of Baur, that Jesus, in contrast with the brilliant Messianic expectations of the Jews, wished to describe Himself as one who deemed nothing human foreign to Himself, nay, whose vocation it was to endure everything lowly and human, can with any plausibility appeal to not more than one of all the passages that speak of the Son of Man, Matt. viii. 20 (“ The Son of Man hath not where to lay His head ”). The fact that majesty and glorification are predicated of the Son of Man just as emphatically as lowliness and suffering, destroys this as well as every explanation which finds in the term, above all, an expression of the lowliness and humiliation of the Messiah. Finally, when Cremer finds that the name Son of
1 Thus Meyer in his Commentary on Matt., and Gess in his Lehre von der Person Christi.
2 This was also formerly my view in my Christologie des N. T.
Man does not emphasise so much the being a man as the being a son, and, on that account, correlates it with the seed of the woman, the so-called protevangel (Gen. iii. 15), he not only overlooks the fact that the New Testament never refers to that protevangel, but also that Jesus, in order to express that idea, must have called Himself, not the viòs toû åv@pónov, but the υιός της γυναικός, or the γεννητος γυναικός (Μatt. xi. 11).
§ 5. INVESTIGATION All such explanations are attempts to guess a riddle that must be solved in a regular way. Of itself Son of Man in Hebrew and Aramaic simply means child of man, that is, man,—with perhaps a certain poetic tinge, and with a subordinate conception of dependence and weakness. The expression is frequent in the Old Testament in this sense (cf. e.g. Ps. viii. 5; Ezek. ii. 1, iii. 1, iv. 1, etc.), and appears in the plural, just as in Mark iii. 28. But though this fundamental meaning could never be lost in any further defining of the conception, it cannot be sufficient in the case of Jesus. As we have already said, Jesus had no need to assure anyone in the days of His flesh that He was a child of man; and the view that He desired—as in the old Testament phrases, thy servant, thy handmaid (instead of I)—to paraphrase His ego in this way, is destroyed by the twofold consideration that He must then have said this Son of Man, and that Jesus, as the Gospels show, did not avoid the simple I. For if, in certain cases, He makes use of the name Son of Man instead of the simple I, He manifestly wishes in some way to mark what is peculiar to Himself. And this mark of peculiarity need not be sought only in the predicate, as has often been done, for so far as it lies in the
Jesu. According to Wendt, Son of Man designates the union of the Messianic dignity with the lowliness of human nature. Then we must ask, who at that time needed to be assured of the human nature of the Messiah? Or if the lowliness of this human nature is to consist in its creaturely weakness, whether there is any other kind of man than weak, creaturely? Jesus would in this way have again and again assured men of what was self-evident to every one. The way in which Wendt sets aside a number of passages as unhistorical, which speak of the glory of the Son of Man, I regard as arbitrary criticism.