An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 317 pages of information about An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant.
that one cannot withhold enthusiastic recognition of the service which Holtzmann particularly has here rendered, in a calm, objective, and withal deeply devout handling of his theme.  Meantime new questions have arisen, questions of the relation of Jesus to Messianism, like those touched upon by Wrede in his Das Messias Geheimniss in den Evangelien, 1901, and questions as to the eschatological trait in Jesus’ own teaching.  Schweitzer’s book, Von Reimarus zu Wrede:  eine Geschichte der Leben Jesu-Forschung, 1906, not merely sets forth this deeply interesting chapter in the history of the thought of modern men, but has also serious interpretative value in itself.  For English readers Sanday’s Life of Christ in Recent Research, 1907, follows the descriptive aspect, at least, of the same purpose with Schweitzer’s book, covering, however, only the last twenty years.

It is characteristic that Ritschl, notwithstanding his emphasis upon the historical Jesus, asserted the impossibility of a biography of Jesus.  The understanding of Jesus is through faith.  For Wrede, on the other hand, such a biography is impossible because of the nature of our sources.  Not alone are they scant, but they are not biographical.  They are apologetic, propagandist, interested in everything except those problems which a biographer must raise.  The last few years have even conjured up the question whether Jesus ever lived.  One may say with all simplicity, that the question has, of course, as much rightfulness as has any other question any man could raise.  The somewhat extended discussion has, however, done nothing to make evident how it could arise, save in minds unfamiliar with the materials and unskilled in historical research.  The conditions which beset us when we ask for a biography of Jesus that shall answer scientific requirement are not essentially different from those which meet us in the case of any other personage equally remote in point of time, and equally woven about—­if any such have been—­by the love and devotion of men.  Bousset’s little book, Was Wissen wir von Jesus? 1904, convinces a quiet mind that we know a good deal.  Qualities in the personality of Jesus obviously worked in transcendent measure to call out devotion.  No understanding of history is adequate which has no place for the unfathomed in personality.  Exactly because we ourselves share this devotion, we could earnestly wish that the situation as to the biography of Jesus were other than it is.


We have spoken thus far as if the whole biblical-critical problem had been that of the New Testament.  In reality the same impulses which had opened up that question to the minds of men had set them working upon the problem of the Old Testament as well.  We have seen how the Christians made for themselves a canon of the New Testament.  By the force of that conception of the canon, and through the belief that, almost

Project Gutenberg
An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook