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THE LIFE OF JESUS.

CHAPTER IX.

MIRACLES OF JESUS.

§ 91.

JESUS CONSIDERED AS A WORKER OF MIRACLES.

THAT the Jewish people in the time of Jesus expected miracles from the Messiah is in itself natural, since the Messiah was a second Moses and the greatest of the prophets, and to Moses and the prophets the national legend attributed miracles of all kinds: by later Jewish writings it is rendered probable;* by our gospels, certain. When Jesus on one occasion had (without natural means) cared a blind and dumb demoniac, the people were hereby led to ask: Is not this the son of David? (Matt. xii. 23,) a proof that a miraculous power of healing was regarded as an attribute of the Messiah. John the Baptist, on hearing of the works of Jesus, (pya), sent to him with the inquiry, Art thou he that should come, (Epxóuevos)? Jesus, in proof of the affirmative, merely appealed again to his miracles (Matt. xi. 2 ff. parall.). At the Feast of Tabernacles, which was celebrated by Jesus in Jerusalem, many of the people believed on him, saying, in justification of their faith, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done (John vii. 31)?

But not only was it predetermined in the popular expectation that the Messiah should work miracles in general,—the particular kinds of miracles which he was to perform were fixed, also in

* See the passages quoted, Introd. 14, notes 9, 10, to Esdr. xiii. 50, (Fabric. Cod. pseudepigr. V. T. ii. p. 286,) and 12, (Schöttgen, horæ, ii. p. 541, also in Bertholdt's Christol.

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which may be added 4 Sohar Exod. fol. iii. col. 33, note 1.)

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THE LIFE OF JESUS.

CHAPTER IX.

MIRACLES OF JESUS.

§ 91.

JESUS CONSIDERED AS A WORKER OF MIRACLES.

THAT the Jewish people in the time of Jesus expected miracles from the Messiah is in itself natural, since the Messiah was a second Moses and the greatest of the prophets, and to Moses and the prophets the national legend attributed miracles of all kinds: by later Jewish writings it is rendered probable; by our gospels, certain. When Jesus on one occasion had (without natural means) cared a blind and dumb demoniac, the people were hereby led to ask: Is not this the son of David? (Matt. xii. 23,) a proof that a miraculous power of healing was regarded as an attribute of the Messiah. John the Baptist, on hearing of the works of Jesus, (ěpya), sent to him with the inquiry, Art thou he that should come, (Epxóuevos)? Jesus, in proof of the affirmative, merely appealed again to his miracles (Matt. xi. 2 ff. parall.). At the Feast of Tabernacles, which was celebrated by Jesus in Jerusalem, many of the people believed on him, saying, in justification of their faith, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done (John vii. 31)?

But not only was it predetermined in the popular expectation that the Messiah should work miracles in general,-the particular kinds of miracles which he was to perform were fixed, also in

* See the passages quoted, Introd. 14, notes 9, 10, to which may be added 4 Esdr. xiii. 50, (Fabric. Cod. pseudepigr. V. T. ii. p. 286,) and Sohar Exod. fol. iii. col. 12, (Schöttgen, horæ, ii. p. 541, also in Bertholdt's Christol.

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33, note 1.)

**

accordance with Old Testament types and declarations. Moses dispensed meat and drink to the people in a supernatural manner (Exod. xvi. 17): the same was expected, as the rabbins explicitly say, from the Messiah. At the prayer of Elisha, eyes were in one case closed, in another, opened supernaturally (2 Kings vi.): the Messiah also was to open the eyes of the blind. By this prophet and his master, even the dead had been raised (1 Kings xvii.; 2 Kings iv.): hence to the Messiah also power over death could not be wanting. Among the prophecies, Isai. xxxv. 5, 6 (comp. xlii. 7) was especially influential in forming this portion of the messianic idea. It is here said of the messianic times: Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing. These words, it is true, stand in Isaiah in a figurative connexion, but they were carly understood literally, as is evident from the circumstance that Jesus describes his miracles to the messengers of John (Matt. xi. 5) with an obvious allusion to this prophetic passage.

Jesus, in so far as he had given himself out and was believed to be the Messiah, or even merely a prophet, had to meet this expectation when, according to several passages already considered (Matt. xii. 38; xvi. 1. parall.), his Pharisaic enemies required a sign from him; when, after the violent expulsion of the traders and money-changers from the Temple, the Jews desired from him a sign that should legitimate such an assumption of authority (John ii. 18); and when the people in the synagogue of Capernaum, on his requiring faith in himself as the sent of God, made it a condition of this faith that he should show them a sign (John vi. 30).

According to the Gospels, Jesus more than satisfied this demand. made by his cotemporaries on the Messiah. Not only does a considerable part of the evangelical narratives consist of descriptions of his miracles; not only did his disciples after his death especially call to their own remembrance and to that of the Jews the dvváμɛis (miracles) onusia (signs) and répara (wonders) wrought by him (Acts ii. 22; comp. Luke xxiv. 19): but the people also were, even during his life, so well satisfied with this aspect of his character that many believed on him in consequence (John ii. 23; comp. vi. 2), contrasted him with the Baptist who gave no sign (John x. 41), and even believed that he would not be surpassed in this respect by the future Messiah (John vii. 31). The above demands of a sign do not appear to prove that Jesus had performed no miracles, especially as several of them occur immediately after important miracles, e. g., after the cure of a demoniac, Matt. xii. 38; and after the feeding of the five thousand, John vi. 30. This position indeed creates a difficulty, for how the Jews could deny to these two acts the character of proper signs it is not easy to understand; the power of expelling demons, in particular, being rated very highly (Luke x. 17). The sign de* See the rabbinical passages quoted.

manded on these two occasions must therefore be more precisely defined according to Luke xi. 16 (comp. Matt. xvi. 1; Mark viii. 11), as a sign from heaven, oqueiov & oupavou, and we must understand it to be the specifically messianic sign of the Son of Man in heaven, σημεῖον τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ (Matt. xxiv. 30). If however it be preferred to sever the connexion between these demands of a sign and the foregoing miracles, it is possible that Jesus may have wrought numerous miracles, and yet that some hostile Pharisees, who had not happened to be eye-witnesses of any of them, may still have desired to see one for themselves.

That Jesus censures the seeking for miracles (John iv. 48) and refuses to comply with any one of the demands for a sign, does not in itself prove that he might not have voluntarily worked miracles in other cases, when they appeared to him to be more seasonable. When in relation to the demand of the Pharisees, Mark viii. 12, he declares that there shall be no sign given to this generation, TMî yɛveṛ Taúry, or Matt. xii. 39 f.; xvi. 4; Luke xi. 29 f., that there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet, it would appear that by this generation yeved, which in Matthew and Luke he characterizes as evil and adulterous, he could only mean the Pharisaic part of his cotemporaries who were hostile to him, and that he intended to declare, that to these should be granted either no sign at all, or merely the sign of Jonas, that is, as he interprets it in Matthew, the miracle of his resurrection, or as modern expositors think, the impressive manifestation of his person and teaching. But if we take the words où dolhoeтai aνr in the sense that his enemies were to obtain no sign from him, we encounter two difficulties: on the one hand, things must have chanced singularly if among the many miracles wrought by Jesus in the greatest publicity, not one fell under the observation of Pharisees (moreover Matt. xii. 24 f. parall. contradicts this, for there Pharisees are plainly supposed to be present at the cure of the blind and dumb demoniac): on the other hand, if signs personally witnessed are here intended, the enemies of Jesus certainly did not see his resurrection, or his person after he was risen. Hence the above declaration cannot well mean merely that his enemies should be excluded from an actual sight of his miracles. There is yet another expedient, namely, to suppose that the expression où do0hoɛrai avrñ refers to a sign which should conduce to the good of the subject of which it is predicated: but all the miracles of Jesus happened equally with his original mission and his resurrection at once for the benefit of that subject and the contrary, namely, in their object for its benefit, in their result not so. Nothing therefore remains but to understand the yɛvɛà of the cotemporaries of Jesus generally, and the didoo@ai to refer to observation generally, mediate or immediate: so that thus Jesus would appear to have here repudiated the working of miracles in general.

This is not very consistent with the numerous narratives of miracles in the Gospels, but it accords fully with the fact that in the

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