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The Life of Jesus Critically Examined





According to the gospels, Jesus more than once, and while the result was yet distant,* predicted to his disciples that sufferings and a violent death awaited him. Moreover, if we trust the synoptical accounts, he did not predict his fate merely in general terms, but specifically beforehand the place of his passion, namelt Jerusalem; the time, namely, the approaching passover; the persons from whom he would have to suffer, namely, the chief priests, scribes and Gentiles; the essential form of his passion, namely, crucifixion, in consequence of a judicial sentence; and even its accessory circumstances, namely, scourging, reviling, and spitting (Matt. xvi. 21, xvii. 12, 22 f:, xx. 17 ff., xxvi. 12 with the parall., Luke xiii. 33). Between the synoptists and the author of the fourth gospel, there exists a threefold difference in relation to this subject. Firstly and chiefly, in the latter the predictions of Jesus do not appear so clear and intelligible, but are for the most part presented in obscure figurative discourses, concerning which the narrator himself confesses that the disciples understood them not until after the issue (ii. 22). In addition to a decided declaration that he will voluntarily lay down his life (x. 15 ff.), Jesus in this gospel is particularly fond of alluding

* His predictions concerning particular circumstances of his passion, uttered shortly before its occurrence, in the last days days of his life, can only be considered farther on, in the history of those days.


to his approaching death under the expressions uyoun, uyousqai, to lift up, to be lifted up, in the application of which he seems to vacillate between his exaltation on the cross, and his exaltation to glory (iii. 14, viii. 28, xii. 32) ; he compares his approaching exaltation with that of the brazen serpent in the wilderness (iii. 14), as, in Matthew, he compares his fate with that of Jonah (xii. 40) ; on another occasion, he speaks of going away whither no man can follow him (vii. 33 ff., viii. 21 f.), as, in the synoptists, of a taking away of a bridegroom, which will plunge his friends into mourning (Matt. ix. 15 parall.), and of a cup, which he must drink, and which his disciples will find it hard to partake of with him (Matt. xx. 22 parall. ). The two other differences are less marked, but are still observable. One of them is, that while in John the allusions to the violent death of Jesus run in an equal degree through the whole gospel; in the synoptists, the repeated and definite announcements of his death.are found only towards the end, partly immediately before, partly during, the last journey; in earlier chapters there occurs, with the exception of the obscure discourse on the sign of Jonah (which we shall soon see to be no prediction,of death), only the intimation of a removal (doubtless violent) of the bridegroom. The last difference is, that while according to the three first Evangelists, Jesus imparts those predictions (again with the single exception of the above intimation, Matt. ix. 15) only to the confidential circle of his disciples; in John, he utters them in the presence of the people, and even of his enemies.

In the critical investigation of these evangelical accounts, we shall proceed from the special to the general, in the following manner. First we shall ask : Is it credible that Jesus had a foreknowledge of so many particular features of the fate which awaited him? and next: Is even a general foreknowledge and prediction of his sufferings, on the part of Jesus, probable? in which inquiry, the difference between the representation of John and that of the synoptists, will necessarily come under our consideration.

There are two modes of explaining how Jesus could so precisely foreknow the particular circumstances of his passion and death; the one resting on a supernatural, the other on a natural basis. The former appears adequate to solve the problem by the simple position, that before the prophetic spirit, which dwelt in Jesus in the richest plenitude, his destiny must have lain unfolded from the beginning. As, however, Jesus himself, in his announcements of his sufferings, expressly appealed to the Old, Testament, the prophecies of which concerning him must be fulfilled in all points (Luke xviii. 31, comp. xxii. 37, xxiv. 25 ff ; Matt. xxvi. 54) : so the orthodox view ought not to despise this help, but must give to its explanation the modification, that Jesus continually occupied with the prophecies of the Old Testament, may have drawn those particularities out of them, by the aid of the spirit that dwelt within him.* According to this,

* Comp. Olshausen, bibl. Comm., I, s. 528.


while the knowledge of the time of his passion remains consigned to his prophetic presentiment, unless he be supposed to have calculated this out of Daniel, or some similar source; Jesus must have come to regard Jerusalem as the scene of his suffering and death, by contemplating the fate of earlier prophets as a type of his own, the Spirit telling him, that where so many prophets had suffered death, there, à fortiori must the Messiah also suffer (Luke xiii. 33) ; that his death would be the sequel of a formal sentence, he must have gathered from Isa. liii. 8, where a judgment [Heb. letters] mishpat is spoken of as impending over the servant of God, and from v. 12, where it is said that he was numbered with the transgressors, en toiV anomoiV elogisqh (comp. Luke xxii. 37) ; that his sentence would proceed from the rulers of his own people, he might perhaps have concluded from Ps. cxviii. 22, where the builders, oikodomounteV who reject the corner-stone, are, according to apostolic interpretation (Acts iv. 11), the Jewish rulers; that he would be delivered to the Gentiles, he might infer from the fact, that in several plaintive psalms, which are susceptible qf a messianic interpretation, the persecuting parties are represented as [Heb. letters] resha‘iym, i. e. heathens; that the precise manner of his death would be crucifixion, he might have deduced, partly from the type of the brazen serpent which was suspended on a pole, Num. xxi. 8 f. (comp. John iii. 14), partly from the piercing of the hands and feet, Ps. xxii. 17, LXX. ; lastly, that he would be the object of scorn and personal maltreatment, he might have concluded from passages such as v. 7 ff. in the Psalm above quoted, Isa. l. 6, etc. Now if the spirit which dwelt in Jesus, and which, according to the orthodox opinion, revealed to him the reference of these prophecies and types to his ultimate destiny, was a spirit of truth : this reference to Jesus must admit of being proved to be the true and original sense of those Old Testament passages. But, to confine ourselves to the principal passages only, a profound grammatical and historical exposition has convincingly shown, for all who are in a condition to liberate themselves from dogmatic presuppositions, that in none of these is there any allusion to the sufferings of Christ. Instead of this, Isa. l. 6, speaks of the ill usage which the prophets had to experience;* Isa. liii. of the calamities of the prophetic order, or more probably of the Israelitish people ;† Ps. cxviii. of the unexpected deliverance and exaltation of that people, or of one of their princes ;while Ps. xxii. is the complaint of an oppressed exile.§ As to the 17th verse of this Psalm, which has been interpreted as having reference to the crucifixion of Christ, even presupposing the most improbable interpretation of [Heb. letters] k’ry by perfoderunt, this must in no case be understood literally, but only figuratively, and the image would be derived, not from a crucifixion,

* Gesenius, Jesaias, 111. 137 ff. ; Hitzig, Comm. zu. Jes., s. 550.

† Gesenius, ut sup. s. 158 ff. ; Hitzig, s. 577 ff. ; Vatke, bibl. Theol. I, s. 528 ff.

‡ De Wette, Comm. zu den Psalmen, s. 514 ff. ; 3te Aufl.

§ Ibid. s. 224 ff.


but from a chase, or a combat with wild beasts .* hence the application of this passage to Christ is now only maintained by those with whom it would be lost labour to contend. According to the orthodox view, however, Jesus, in a supernatural manner, by means of his higher nature, discovered in these passages a pre-intimation of the particular features of his passion; but, in that case, since such is not the true sense of these passages, the spirit that dwelt in Jesus cannot have been the spirit of truth, but a lying spirit. Thus the orthodox expositor, so far as he does not exclude himself from the light dispensed by an unprejudiced interpretation of the Old Testament, is driven, for the sake of his own interest, to adopt the natural opinion; namely, that Jesus was led to such an interpretation of Old Testament passages, not by divine inspiration, but by a combination of his own.

According to this opinion,there was no difficulty in foreseeing that it would be the ruling sacerdotal party to which Jesus must succumb, since, on the one hand, it was pre-eminently embittered against Jesus, on the other, it was in possession of the necessary power; and equally obvious was it that they would make Jerusalem the theatre of his judgment and execution, since this was the centre of their strength; that after being sentenced by the rulers of his people, he would be delivered to the Romans for execution, followed from the limitation of the Jewish judicial power at that period; that crucifixion was the death to which he would be sentenced, might be conjectured from the fact that with the Romans this species of death was a customary infliction, especially on rebels; lastly, that scourging and reviling would not be wanting, might likewise be inferred from Roman custom, and the barbarity of judicial proceedings in that age. But viewing the subject more nearly, how could Jesus so certainly know that Herod, who had directed a threatening attention to his movements (Luke xiii. 3 I ), would not forestall the sacerdotal party, and add to the murder of the Baptist, that of his more important follower? And even if he felt himself warranted in believing that real danger threatened him from the side of the hierarchy only (Luke xiii. 33) ; what was his guarantee that one of their tumultuary attempts to murder him would not at last succeed (comp. John viii. 39, x. 31), and that he would not, as Stephen did at a later period, without any further formalities, and without a previous delivery to the Romans, find his death in quite another manner than by the Roman punishment of crucifixion ? Lastly, how could he so confidently assert that the very next plot of his enemies, after so many failures, would be successful, and that the very next journey to the passover would be his last? —But the natural explanation also can call to its aid the Old Testament passages, and say: Jesus, whether by the application of a mode of interpretation then current among his countrymen, or under the guidance of his own individual views,

* Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, b, s. 677 ff., and De Wette in loc.

† See this view developed by Fritzsche, Comm. in Marc., p. 381 f.


gathered from the passages already quoted, a precise idea of the circumstances attendant on the violent end which awaited him as the Messiah.* But if in the first place it would be difficult to prove, that already in the lifetime of Jesus all these various passages were referred to the Messiah; and if it be equally difficult to conceive that Jesus could independently, prior to the issue, discover such a reference; so it would be a case undistinguishable from a miracle, if the result had actually corresponded to so false an interpretation; moreover, the Old Testament oracles and types will not suffice to explain all the particular features in the predictions of Jesus, especially the precise determination of time.

If then Jesus cannot have had so precise a foreknowledge of the circumstances of his passion and death, either in a supernatural or a natural way: he cannot have had such a foreknowledge at all: and the minute predictions which the Evangelists put into his mouth must be regarded as a vaticinium post eventum.† Commentators who have arrived at this conclusion, have not failed to extol the account of John, in opposition to that of the synoptists, on the ground that precisely those traits in the predictions of Jesus which, from their special character, he cannot have uttered, are only found in the synoptists, while John attributes to Jesus no more than indefinite intimations, and distinguishes these from his own interpretation, made after the issue; a plain proof that in his gospel alone we have the discourses of Jesus unfalsified, and in their original form.‡ But, regarded more nearly, the case does not stand so that the fourth Evangelist can only be taxed with putting an erroneous interpretation on the otherwise unfalsified declarations of Jesus : for in one passage, at least, he has put into his mouth an expression which, obscurely, it is true, but still unmistakably, determines the manner of his death as crucifixion; and consequently, he has here altered the words of Jesus to correspond with the result. We refer to the expression uywqhnai, to be lifted up: in those passages of the fourth gospel where Jesus speaks in a passive sense of the Son of Man being lifted up, this expression might possibly mean his exaltation to glory, although in iii. 14, from the comparison with the serpent in the wilderness, which was well known to have been elevated on a pole, even this becomes a difficulty; but when, as in viii. 28, he represents the exaltation of the Son of Man as the act of his enemies (otan uywshte ton uion t. a.), it is obvious that these could not lift him up immediately to glory, but only to the cross; consequently, if the result above stated be admitted as valid, John must himself have framed this expression, or at least have distorted the Aramaean words of Jesus, and hence he essentially falls under the same category with the synoptical writers. That the fourth Evangelist, though

* Vid. Fritzsche, ut sup.

† Paulus, exeg. Handb. 2, s. 415 Ff. ; Ammon, bibl. Theol. 2, s. 377 f. ; Kaiser, bibl. Theol. I, s. 246. Fritzsche also, ut sup. and Weisse, I, s. 423, partly admit this.

‡ Bertholdt, Einleitung in d. N. T. 1305 ff. ; Wegscheider, Einl. in das Evang. Johannis, s. 271 f.


the passion and death of Jesus were to him past events, and therefore clearly present to his mind, nevertheless makes Jesus predict them in obscure expressions, —this has its foundation in the entire manner of this writer whose fondness for the enigmatical and mysterious here happily met the requirement, to give an unintelligible form to prophecies which were not understood.

There were sufficient inducements for the Christian legend thus to put into the mouth of Jesus, after the event, a prediction of the particular features of his passion, especially of the ignominious crucifixion. The more the Christ crucified became to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness (I Cor. i. 23), the more need was there to remove this offence by every possible means; and as, among subsequent events, the resurrection especially served as a retrospective cancelling of that shameful death; so it must have been earnestly desired to take the sting from that offensive catastrophe beforehand also, and this could not be done more effectually than by such a minute prediction. For as the most unimportant fact, when prophetically announced, gains importance, by thus being made a link in the chain of a higher knowledge: so the most ignominious fate, when it is predicted as part of a divine plan of salvation, ceases to be ignominious; above all, when the very person over whom such a fate impends, also possesses the prophetic spirit, which enables him to foresee and foretell it, and thus not only suffers, but participates in the divine prescience of his sufferings, he manifests himself as the ideal power over those suffering. But the fourth Evangelist has gone still farther on this track; he believes it due to the honour of Jesus to represent him as also the real power over his sufferings, as not having his life taken away by the violence of others, but as resigning it voluntarily (x. 17 f.) : a representation which indeed already finds some countenance in Matt. xxvi. 53, where Jesus asserts the possibility of praying to the Father for legions of angels, in order to avert his sufferings.


If in this manner we subtract from the declarations of Jesus concerning his approaching fate, attributed to him in the gospels, all which regards the particular circumstances of this catastrophe; there still remains on the part of Jesus the general announcement, that suffering and death awaited him, and also that this part of his career was a fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies relative to the Messiah. As, however, the principal passages cited from the Old Testament, which treat of suffering and death, are only by mistake referred to the Messiah, while others, as Dan. ix. 26 ; Zech. xii. 10,


have not this signification:* the orthodox, above all, must again beware of attributing so false an interpretation of these prophecies, to the supernatural principle in Jesus. That instead of this, Jesus might possibly, by a purely natural combination, have educed the general result, that since he had made the hierarchy of his nation his implacable enemies, he had, in so far as he was resolved not to swerve from the path of his destination, the worst to fear from their revenge and authority (John x. 11 ff. ) ; that from the fate of former prophets (Matt. v. 12, xxi. 33 ff ; Luke xiii. 33 f.), and isolated passages bearing such an interpretation, he might prognosticate a similar end to his own career, and accordingly predict to his followers that earlier or later a violent death awaited him—this it would be a needless overstraining of the supranaturalistic view any longer to deny, and the rational mode of considering the subject should be admitted.†

It may appear surprising if, after this admission, we still put the question, whether, according to the New Testament representation, it be probable that Jesus actually uttered such a prediction ? since, certainly, a general announcement of his violent death is the least which the evangelical accounts appear to contain, but our meaning in the question is this: is the sequel, especially the conduct of the disciples, so described in the gospels, as to be reconcilable with a prior disclosure of Jesus relative to the sufferings which awaited him? Now the express statements of the Evangelists do not merely tend to show that the disciples did not understand the discourses of Jesus on his coming death, in the sense that they did not know how to adjust these facts in their own minds, or to make them tally with their preconceived ideas concerning the Messiah, —a difficulty which drew from Peter the first time that Jesus announced his death, the exclamation: Be it far from thee, Lord, this shall not be unto thee; —for we find the words of Mark (ix. 32 ), But they understood not that saying, oi de hgnooun to rhma, thus amplified in Luke: and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not, kai hn parakekalummenon apautwn ina mh aisqwntai auto (ix. 45) ; and the latter Evangelist on another occasion says: and they understood none of these things, and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things that were spoken kai autoi ouden toutwnsunhkan,kaihn to rhma touto kekrummenonapautwn, kai ouk eginwskon ta legomena. (xviii. 34) : expressions which appear to imply that the disciples absolutely did not understand what the words of Jesus meant. In accordance with this, the condemnation and execution of Jesus fall upon them as a blow for which they are entirely unprepared, and consequently annihilate all the hopes which they had fixed on him as the Messiah (Luke xxiv. 20 f., The chief pnests and our rulers have crucified him.

* Daniel, übersetzt und erklärt von Bertholdt, 2, s. 541 ff., 660 ff. ; Rosenmüller, Schol. in V. T. 7, 4, p. 339 ff.

† De Wette, de morte Christi expiatoria, in his Opusc. Theol., p. 130; Hase, L. J. § 106.


But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel). But had Jesus spoken of his death to the disciples with such perfect openness (parrhsia, Mark viii. 32), they must necessarily have understood his clear words and detailed discourses, and had he besides shown them that his death was foreshadowed in the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, and was consequently a part of the Messiah’s destination (Luke xviii. 31, xxii. 37), they could not, when his death actually ensued, have so entirely lost all belief in his messiahship. It is true that the Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist is wrong in his attempt to show in the conduct of Jesus, as described by the Evangelists, indications that his death was unexpected even to himself; but, looking merely at the conduct of the disciples, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion which that writer draws, namely, that to judge by that conduct, Jesus cannot have made any antecedent disclosure to his disciples concerning his death; on the contrary, they appear to the very last moment to have held the common opinion on this matter, and only to have adopted the characteristics of suffering and death into their conception of the Messiah, after the death of Jesus had unexpectedly come upon them.* At all events we have before us the following dilemma: either the statements of the Evangelists as to the inability of the disciples to understand the predictions of Jesus, and their surprise at his death, are unhistorically exaggerated ; or the decided declarations of Jesus concerning the death which awaited him, were composed ex eventu, nay, it becomes doubtful whether he even in general predicted his death as a part of his messianic destiny. On both sides, the legend might be led into unhistorical representations. For the fabrication of a prediction of his death in general, there were the same reasons which we have above shown to be an adequate motive for attributing to him a prognostication of the particular features of his passion: to the fiction of so total a want of comprehension in the disciples, an inducement might be found, on the one hand, in the desire to exhibit the profound mystery of a suffering Messiah revealed by Jesus, through the inability of the disciples to understand it; on the other, in the fact that in the evangelical tradition the disciples were likened to unconverted Jews and heathens, to whom anything was more intelligible than the death of the Messiah.

In order to decide between these alternatives, we must first examine whether, prior to the death of Jesus, and independently of that event, the messianic ideas of the age included the characteristics of suffering and death. If already in the lifetime of Jesus it was the Jewish opinion that the Messiah must die a violent death, then it is highly probable that Jesus imbibed this idea as a part of his convictions, and communicated it to his disciples; who, in that case, could so much the less have remained uninstructed on this point, and overwhelmed by the actual result, in the degree alleged

* Vom Zweck Jesu und seiner Junger, s. 114 ff. 153 f.


by the Evangelists. If, on the contrary, that idea was not diffused among his countrymen before the death of Jesus, it still remains possible that Jesus might arrive at that idea by his private reflection; but it is a prior possibility that the disciples were the first to adopt the characteristics of suffering and death into their conception of the Messiah, after they had been taught by the issue.

The question whether the idea of a suffering and dying Messiah was already diffused among the Jews in the time of Jesus, is one of the most difficult points of discussion among theologians, and one concerning which they are the least agreed. And the difficulty of the question does not lie in the interests of party, so that it might be hoped that with the rise of impartial investigation, the subject would cease to be perplexed; for, as Stäudlin has aptly shown,* both the orthodox and the rationalistic interest may alternately tend in each direction, and we in fact find theologians of both parties on both sides.† The difficulty lies in the deficiency of information, and in the uncertainty of that which we do possess. If the Old Testament contained the doctrine of a suffering and dying Messiah, it might certainly thence be inferred with more than mere probability, that this doctrine existed among the Jews in the time of Jesus: as, however, according to the most recent researches, the Old Testament, while it does indeed contain the doctrine of an expiation of the sins of the people to take place at the messianic era (Ezek. xxxvi. 25, xxxvii. 23; Zech. xiii. 1; Dan. ix. 24), has no trace of this expiation being effected by the suffering and death of the Messiah:there is no decision of the question before us to be expected from this quarter. The apocryphal books of the Old Testament lie nearer to the time of Jesus ; but as these are altogether silent concerning the Messiah in general,§ there can be no discussion as to their containing that special feature. Again, if we turn to Philo and Josephus, the two authors who wrote soonest after the period in question, we find the latter silent as to the messianic hopes of his nation ;|| and though the former does indeed speak of messianic times, and a messiah-like hero, he says nothing of sufferings on his part. Thus there remain, as sources of information on this point, only the New Testament and the later Jewish writings.

In the New Testament, almost everything is calculated to give the impression, that a suffering and dying Messiah was unthought-of among the Jews who were contemporary with Jesus. To the majority of the Jews, we are told, the doctrine of a crucified

* Ueber den Zweck und die Wirkungen des Todes Jesu, in the Göttingischen Bibliothek, 1,4, s. 252 ff.

† See the list in De Wette, ut sup. s. 6 ff. The most important voices for the existence of the idea in question in the time of Jesus, have been noticed by Stäudlin in the above treatise, I, s. 233 ff., and by Hengstenberg, Christologie des A. T., I, a, s. 270 ff., b, s. 290 ff ; for the opposite opinion, by De Wette, ut sup. p. I ff.

‡ Comp. De Wette, bibl. Dogm, § 201 f. ; Baumgarten Crusius, bibl. Theol. § 54.

§ Vid. De Wette, ut sup. § 189 ff.

|| Comp. De Wette, ut sup. § 193.

Gfrörer, Philo, 1, s. 495 ff.


Messiah was a skandalon, and the disciples were at a loss to understand Jesus in his repeated and explicit announcements of his death. This does not look as if the doctrine of a suffering Messiah had been current among the Jews of that period; on the contrary, these circumstances accord fully with the declaration which the fourth Evangelist puts into the mouth of the Jewish multitude, ocloV (xii. 34), namely, that they had heard in the law (nomoV) that Christ abideth for ever oti o CristoV menei eiV ton aiwna.* Indeed, for a general acceptation of the idea of a suffering Messiah among the Jews of that period, even those theologians who take the affirmative side in this argument do not contend; but, admitting that the hope of a worldly Messiah whose reign was to endure for ever, was the prevalent one, they only maintain (and herein the Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist agrees with them)† , that a less numerous party, — according to Stäudlin, the Essenes; according to Hengstenberg, the better and more enlightened part of the people in general—held the belief that the Messiah would appear in a humble guise, and only enter into glory through suffering and death. In support of this they appeal especially to two passages; one out of the third, and one out of the fourth gospel. When Jesus is presented as an infant in the temple at Jerusalem, the aged Simeon, among other prophecies, particularly concerning the opposition which her son would have to encounter, says to Mary: Yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also (Luke ii. 35) ; words which seem to describe her maternal sorrow at the death of her son, and consequently to represent the opinion, that a violent death awaited the Messiah, as one already current before Christ. Still more plainly is the idea of a suffering Messiah contained in the words which the fourth gospel makes the Baptist utter on seeing Jesus : Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world (i. 29)! This, viewed in its relation to Isa. liii., would in the mouth of the Baptist likewise tend to prove, that the idea of expiatory suffering on the part of the Messiah was in existence before the time of Jesus. But both these passages have been above shown to be unhistorical, and from the fact that the primitive Christian legend was led, a considerable time after the issue, to attribute to persons whom it held divinely inspired, a foreknowledge of the divine decree with respect to the death of Jesus, it can by no means be concluded, that this insight really existed prior to the death of Jesus. In conclusion, it is urged, that at least the Evangelists and apostles refer to the idea of a suffering and dying Messiah in the Old Testament; whence it is thought warrantable to conclude, that this interpretation of the Old Testament passages connected with our present subject, was not unprecedented among the Jews. Certainly Peter (Acts iii. 18 f. ; I Pet. i. 11 f.) and Paul (Acts xxvi. 22 f. ; I Cor. xv. 3) appeal to Moses

* A passage to this effect out of the law (nomoV) properly so called, would be difficult to find: De Wette, de morte, p. 72, refers to Isa. ix. 5; Lücke, in loc. to Ps. cx. 4; Dan. vii. 14, ii. 44.

† Yom Zweck Jesu und seiner Jünger, s. 179 f.


and the prophets as annunciators of the death of Jesus, and Philip, in his interview with the Ethiopian eunuch, interprets a passage in Isa. liii. of the sufferings of the Messiah: but as those teachers of the church spoke and wrote all this after the event, we have no assurance that they did not assign to certain Old Testament passages a relation to the sufferings of the Messiah, solely in consquence of that event, and not by adopting a mode of interpretation previously current among their Jewish cotemporaries.*

If, according to this, the opinion that the idea in question already existed among the countrymen of Jesus during his lifetime, has no solid foundation in the New Testament; we must proceed to inquire whether that idea may not be found in the later Jewish writings. Among the earliest writings of this class now extant, are the Chaldee paraphrases of Onkelos and Jonathan; and the Targuml of the latter, who, according to rabbinical tradition, was a pupil of Hillel the elder,† is commonly cited as presenting the idea of a suffering Messiah, because it refers the passage, Isa. lii. 13-liii. 12, to the Messiah. But with respect to the interpretation of this passage in the Targum of Jonathan, it is the singular fact, that while the prophecies which it contains are in general interpreted messianically, yet so often as suffering and death are spoken of, either these ideas are avoided with marked design, and for the most part by some extremely forced expedient, or are transferred to a different subject, namely, the people of Israel: a significant proof that to the author, suffering and violent death appeared irreconcilable with the idea of the Messiah.‡ But this, we are told, is the commencement of that aberration from the true sense of the sacred text, into which the later Jews were seduced by their carnal disposition, and their hostility to Christianity: the more ancient interpreters, it is said, discovered in this passage of Isaiah a suffering and dying Messiah. It is true that Abenezra, Abarbanel and others, testify that many ancient teachers referred Isa. liii. to the Messiah:§ but some of their statements leave it by no means clear that those more ancient

interpretations are not as partial as that of Jonathan; and in relation to

12 Vid. De Wette, de morte Chr, p. 73 f.

13 Comp. Gesenius, Jesaias 2, Th. s. 66 ; De Wette, Einleitung in das A. T. § 59, 3te Ausg.

14 Literal translation according to Hitzig, liii. 4:- As many were amazed at him, so disfigured, not human, was his appearance, and his form not like that of the children of men, etc. liii.4 But he bore our infirmities, and charged himself with our sorrows, and we esteemed him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.

Targum of Jonathan: Quemadmodum per multos dies ipsum exspectarunt Israëlitae, quorum contabuit inter gentes adspectus et splendor (et evanuit) e filiis hominum, etc. Idcirco pro delictis nostris ipse deprecabitur, et iniquitates nostrae propter eum condonabuntur, licet nos reputati simus contusi, plagis affecti et afflicti.

Origen also relates, c, Celsus, i, 55, how a person esteemed a wise man among the Jews, legomenoV para IoudaioiV sofoV maintained, in opposition to his Christian interpretation of the passage in Isaiah, that this was prophesied concerning the whole nation, which had been dispersed and afflicted, in order that many might become proselytes, tauta peprofhteusqai wV peri enoV tou olou laou, kai genomenou en th diaspora, kai plhgentoV, ina polloi proshlutoi genwntai.

15 Vid. Schöttgen, 2, s. 182 f.; Eisenmenger, entdecktes Judenthum, 2, s. 758.


all of them it remains uncertain, whether the interpreters of whom they speak reach as far back as the age of Jonathan, which is highly improbable with respect to those parts of the book Sohar, wherein the passage in question is referred to a suffering Messiah.* The writing which, together with that of Jonathan, may be regarded as the nearest to the time of Jesus, namely, the apocryphal fourth book of Esdras, drawn up, according to the most probable computation, shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus,† does indeed mention the death of the Messiah: not however as a painful one, but only as a death which, after the long duration of the messianic kingdom, was to precede the general resurrection.‡ The idea of great calamities, the birth-throes, as it were, of the Messiah ([Heb. letters] KhBLY HMShYKh, comp. arch wdinwn, Matt. xxiv. 8), which would usher in the messianic times, was undoubtedly disseminated before Christ;§ and equally early there appears to have been placed in the front of these ills, which were to press upon the people of Israel in particular, the Antichrist, anticristoV, whom the Christ, CristoV, would have to oppose ( 2 Thess. ii. 3 ff. ) :|| but since he was to annihilate this adversary in a supernatural manner, with the spirit of his mouth, tw pneumati tou stomatoV autou, this involved no suffering for the Messiah. Nevertheless, there are to be found passages in which a suffering of the Messiah is spoken of, and in which this suffering is even represented as vicarious, on behalf of the people:but first, this is only a suffering, and no death of the Messiah; secondly, it befalls him either before his descent into earthly life, in his pre-existence,* or during the concealment in which he keeps himself from his birth until his appearance as Messiah:lastly, the antiquity of these ideas is doubtful, and according to certain indications, they could only be dated after the destruction of the Jewish state by Titus.‡ Meanwhile, Jewish writings are by no means destitute of passages, in which it is directly asserted that a Messiah would perish in a violent manner: but these passages relate, not to the proper Messiah, the offspring of David, but to another, from among the posterity of Joseph and Ephraim, who was appointed to hold a subordinate position in relation to the former. This Messiah ben Joseph was to precede the Messiah ben David, to unite the ten tribes of the former kingdom of Israel with the two tribes of the kingdom of Judah, but after this to perish by the sword in the battle with Gog and Magog: a catastrophe to which Zech. xii. 10 was referred.§ But of this second, dying Messiah, any certain traces are wanting

* Ap. Schöttgen, 2 S. 181 f.

† De Wette, de morte Chr. expiatoria, ut sup. s. 50.

‡ vii. 29.

§ Schöttgen, 2, s. 509 ff. ; Schmidt, Christologische Fragmente, in his Bibliothek, I, s. 24 ff. ; Bertholdt, Christol. Jud., § 13.

|| Schmidt, ut sup. ; Bertholdt, ut sup., § 16.

Pesikta in Abkath Rochel, ap. Schmidt, s. 48 f.

* Sohar, P. II. lxxxv. 2, ap. Schmidt, § 47 f.

† Gemara Sanhedrin, f. xcviii. I; ap. De Wette, de morte Chr., p. 95 f., and ap. Hengstenberg, s. 292.

‡ Sahar, Po II. f. lxxx.ii. 2; ap. De Wette, s. 94: Cum Israëlitae essent in terra sancta, per cultus religiosos et sacrificia quae faciebant, omnes illos morbos et poenas e mundo, sustulerunt ; nunc vero Messias debet auferre eas ab hominibus.

§ Vid. Bertholdt, ut sup. § 17.


before the Babylonian Gemara, which was compiled in the fifth and sixth centuries after Christ, and the book Sohar, the age of which is extremely doubtful.*

Although, according to this, it cannot be proved, and is even not probable, that the idea of a suffering Messiah already existed among the Jews in the time of Jesus : it is still possible that, even without such a precedent, Jesus himself, by an observation of circumstances, and a comparison of them with Old Testament narratives and prophecies, might come to entertain the belief that suffering and death were a part of the office and destination of the Messiah; and if so, it would be more natural that he should embrace this conviction gradually in the course of his public ministry, and that he should chiefly have confined his communications on the subject to his intimate friends, than that he should have had this conviction from the beginning, and have expressed it before indifferent persons, nay enemies. The latter is the representation of John; the former, of the synoptists.*

In relation also to the declarations of Jesus concerning the object and effects of his death, we can, as above in relation to the announcement of the death itself, distinguish a more natural, from a more supranatural point of view. When Jesus in the fourth gospel likens himself to the true shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep (x. 11, 15) : this may have the perfectly natural sense, that he is determined not to swerve from his office of shepherd and teacher, even though, in the prosecution of it, death should threaten him (the moral necessity of his death) ;the foreboding expression in the same gospel (xii. 24), that except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit, admits of an equally rational explanation, as a figurative representation of the victorious power which martyrdom gives to an idea and conviction (the moral efficacy of his death) ;lastly, that which is so often repeated in the Gospel of John,—namely, that it is good for the disciples that Jesus should go away, for without his departure the comforter, paraklhtoV will not come to them, who will glorify him in them,—may be supposed to express the perfectly natural consideration of

Jesus, that without the removal of his sensible presence, the hitherto so material ideas of his disciples would not be spiritualized (the psychological efficacy of his death).§ The words of Jesus at the institution of the sacramental supper, belong more to the supranaturalistic mode of view. For if that which the intermediate Evangelists make him say on this occasion—that the cup presented is the blood of the new testament, to aima thV kainhV diaqhkhV (Mark xiv. 24), and the new testament in his blood h kainh diaqhkh en tw aimati autou (Luke xxii. 20),—might appear to signify no more than that, as by the bloody sacrifice at Sinai was

sealed the covenant of this ancient people with God, so by his (the Messiah’s)

* De Wette, de morte Chr., p. 112; comp. 53ff.

† Hase, L. J. § 108.

‡ Ibid.

§ Ibid. and § 109.


blood would be sealed in a higher sense the community of the new covenant, gathering round him: in the account of Matthew, on the contrary, when he makes Jesus add, that his blood will be shed for many for the remission of sins, eiV afesin amartiwn, the idea of the covenant sacrifice is blended with that of expiatory sacrifice: and also in the two other Evangelists by the addition: which is shed for many, or for you, to peri pollwn, uper umwn ekcunomenon, the transition is made from the covenant sacrifice to the expiatory sacrifice. Further, when in the first gospel (xx. 28) Jesus says, he must give his life a ransom for many, dounai thn yuchn autou lutron anti pollwn, this is doubtless to be referred to Isa. liii., where, according to a notion current among the Hebrews (Isa. xliii. 3; Prov. xxi. 18), the death of the servant of God is supposed to have a propitiatory relation to the rest of mankind.

Thus Jesus might by psychological reflection come to the conviction that such a catastrophe would be favourable to the spiritual development of his disciples, and that it was indispensable for the spiritualizing of their messianic ideas, nay, in accordance with national conceptions, and by a consideration of Old Testament passages, even to the idea that his messianic death would have an expiatory efficacy. Still, what the synoptists make Jesus say of his death, as a sin offering, might especially appear to belong rather to the system which was developed after the death of Jesus ; and what the fourth Evangelist puts into his mouth concerning the Paraclete, to have been conceived ex eventu: so that, again, in these expressions of Jesus concerning the object of his death, there must be a separation of the general from the special.


According to the evangelical accounts, Jesus predicted his resurrection in words not less clear than those in which he announced his death, and also fixed the time of its occurrence with singular precision. As often as he said to his disciples, the Son of Man will be crucified, he added: And the third day he shall rise again, kai th trith hmera anasthsetai, or egerqhsetai, (Matt. xvi. 21, xvii. 23, xx. 19 parall. comp. xvii. 9, xxvi. 32 parall.).

But of this announcement also it is said, that the disciples understood it not; so little, that they even debated among themselves what the rising from the dead should mean, ti esti to ek nekrwn anasthnai (Mark ix. 10): and in consistency with this want of comprehension, they, after the death of Jesus, exhibit no trace of a recollection that his resurrection had been foretold to them, no spark of hope that this prediction would be fulfilled. When the friends of Jesus had taken down his body from the cross, and laid it in the grave, they undertook (John xix. 40)—or the women reserved to


themselves (Mark xvi. 1; Luke xxiii. 56)—the task of embalming him, which is only performed in the case of those who are regarded as the prey of corruption ; when, on the morning which, according to the mode of reckoning in the New Testament, opened the day which had been predetermined as that of the resurrection, the women went to the grave, they were so far from thinking of a predicted resurrection, that they were anxious about the probable difficulty of rolling away the stone from the grave (Mark xvi. 3) ; when Mary Magdalene, and afterwards Peter, found the grave empty, their first thought, had the resurrection been predicted, must have been, that it had now actually taken place : instead of this, the former conjectures that the body may have been stolen (John xx. 2), while Peter merely wonders, without coming to any definite conjecture (Luke xxiv. 12) ; when the women told the disciples of the angelic apparition which they had witnessed, and discharged the commission given them by the angel, the disciples partly regarded their words as idle tales, lhroV. (Luke xxiv. 11), and were partly moved to fear and astonishment (exesthsan hmaV, Luke xxiv. 22 ff.) ; when Mary Magdalene, and subsequently the disciples going to Emmaus, assured the eleven, that they had themselves seen the risen one, they met with no credence (Mark xvi. 11, 13), and Thomas still later did not believe even the assurance of his fellow-apostles (John xx. 25); lastly, when Jesus himself appeared to the disciples in Galilee, all of them did not even then cast off doubt (oi de edistasan, Mark xxviii. 17). All this we, must, with the Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist,* find inprehensible, if Jesus had so clearly and decidedly predicted his resurrection.

It is true, that as the conduct of the disciples, after the death of Jesus, speaks against such a prediction the part of Jesus, so the conduct of his disciples appears to speak for it. For when, accordmg to Matt. xxvii. 62 ff., the chief priests and Pharisees entreat Pilate to set a watch at the grave of Jesus, they allege as a reason for their request, that Jesus while still alive had said : After three days I will rise again, meta treiV hmeraV egeiromai. But this narrative of the first gospel, which we can only estimate at a future point in our investigation, at present decides nothing, but only falls to one side of the dilemma, so that we must now say: if the disciples really so acted after the death of Jesus, then neither can he have decidedly foretold his resurrection, nor can the Jews in consideration of such a prediction have placed a watch at his grave; or, if the two latter statements be true, the disciples cannot have so acted.

It has been attempted to blunt the edge of this dilemma, by attributing to the above predictions, not the literal sense, that the deceased Jesus would return out of the grave, but only the figurative sense that his doctrine and cause, after having been apparently

1 See his animated and impressive treatise, vom Zweck, u. s. f., s. 121 ff. Comp. Briefe über den Rationalismus, s. 224 ff., and De Wette, exeg. Handb. 1, 1, s. 143.


crushed, would again expand and flourish.* As the Old Testament prophets, it was said, represent the restoration of the Israelitish people to renewed prosperity, under the image of a resurrection from the dead {Isa. xxvi. 19; Ezek. xxxvii.) ; as they mark the short interval within which, under certain conditions, this turn of things was to be expected, by the expression: in two or three days will Jehovah revive the smitten one, and raise the dead (Hos. vi. 2 ),† a statement of time which Jesus also uses indefinitely for a short interval (Luke xiii. 32) : so by the declaration that he will rise on the third day after his death, th trith hmera anasthnai, he intends to say no more than that even though he may succumb to the power of his enemies and be put to death, still the work which he has begun will not come to an end, but will in a short time go forward with a fresh impetus. This merely figurative mode of speaking adopted by Jesus, the apostles, after Jesus had actually risen in the body, understood literally, and regarded them as prophecies of his personal resurrection. Now that in the prophetic passages adduced, the expressions [Heb. letters] Qum khayah and [Heb. letters] Heqiyts have only the alleged figurative sense, is true; but these are passages the whole tenor of which is figurative, and in which, in particular, the depression and death which precede the revivification are themselves to be understood only in a figurative sense. Here, on the contrary, all the foregoing expressions: paradidosqai, katakrinesqai, staurousqai, apokteinesqai k. t. l. (to be delivered, condemned, crucified, killed, etc.) are to be understood literally; hence all at once, with the words egerqhnai and anasthnai, to enter on a figurative meaning, would be an unprecedented abruptness of transition; not to mention that passages such as Matt. xxvi. 32, where Jesus says: After I am risen again I will go before you into Galilee, meta to egerqhnai me proaxw umaV eiV thn Galilaian,, can have no meaning at all unless egeiresqai be understood literally. In this closely consecutive series of expressions, which must be taken in a purely literal sense, there is then no warrant, and even no inducement, to understand the statement of time which is connected with them, otherwise than also literally, and in its strictly etymological meaning. Thus if Jesus really used these words, and in the same connexion in which they are given by the Evangelists, he cannot have meant to announce by them merely the speedy victory of his cause; his meaning must have been, that he himself would return to life in three days after his violent death.‡

As however Jesus, judging from the conduct of his disciples after his death, cannot have announced his resurrection in plain words: other commentators have resigned themselves to the admission, that the Evangelists, after the issue, gave to the discourses of Jesus a

* Thus especially Herder, vom Erlöser der Menschen, s. 133 ff. Briefe über den Rationalismus, s. 227. Comp. Küinol, Comm. in Matth., p. 444 f.

† LXX. : ugiasei hmaV meta duo hmeraV, en th hmera th trith exanasthsomeqa kai zhsomeqa enwpion autou.

‡ Comp. Süskind, einige Bemerkungen über die Frage, ob Jesus seine Auferstehung bestimmt vorhergesagt habe? in Flatt’s Magazin, 7, s. 203 ff.


definiteness which, as uttered by him, they did not possess; that they have not merely understood literally, what Jesus intended figuratively, of the revival of his cause after his death, but in accordance with their erroneous interpretation, have so modified his words that, as we now read them, we must certainly understand them in a literal sense;* yet that not all the discourses of Jesus are altered in this manner ; here and there his original expressions still remain.


According to the fourth gospel, Jesus, at the very commencement of his ministry, in figurative language, referred his enemies, the Jews, to his future resurrection (ii. 19 ff. ). On his first messianic visit to Jerusalem, and when, after the abuse of the market in the temple had provoked him to that exhibition of holy zeal of which we have formerly spoken, the Jews require a sign from him, by which he should legitimatize his claim to be considered a messenger of God, who had authority to adopt such violent measures, Jesus gives them this answer, Destroy this temple, and after three days I will raise it up. lusate ton naon touton, kai en trisin hmeraiV egerw auton : The Jews took these words in the sense, which, since they were spoken in the temple, was the most natural, and urged, in reply to Jesus, that as it had taken forty years to build this temple, he would scarcely be able, if it were destroyed, to rebuild it in three days; but the Evangelist informs us, that this was not the meaning of Jesus, and that he here spoke (though indeed the disciples were not aware of this until after his resurrection), of the temple of his body, naoV tou swmatoV autou : i.e. under the destruction and rebuilding of the temple, he alluded to his death and resurrection. Even if we admit, what however the most moderate expositors deny,† that Jesus could properly (as he is also represented to have done in Matthew xii. 39 ff.) when the Jews asked him for a visible and immediate sign, refer them to his resurrection as the greatest, and for his enemies the most overwhelming miracle in his history: still he must have done this in terms which it was possible for them to understand (as in the above passage of Matthew, where he expresses himself quite plainly). But the expressions of Jesus, as here given, could not possibly be understood in this sense. For when one who is in the temple, speaks of the destruction of this temple, everyone will refer his words to the building itself. Hence Jesus, when he uttered the words, this temple, ton naon touton, must have pointed to his body with his finger; as, indeed, is generally presupposed by the friends of this interpretation.‡ But, in the first place, the Evangelist says nothing of such a gesture, notwithstanding that it lay in

* Paulus, ut sup. 2, s. 415 ff. ; Hase, L. J. § 109.

† E.g. Lücke, I, s. 426; comp., on the contrary, Tholuck, in loc.

‡ Vid. Tholuck, ut sup.


his interest to notice this, as a support of his interpretation. In the second place, Gabler has with justice remarked, how ill-judged and ineffective it would have been, by the addition of a mere gesture to give a totally new meaning to a speech, which verbally, and therefore logically, referred to the temple. If, however, Jesus used this expedient, the motion of his finger could not have been unobserved; the Jews must rather have demanded from him how he could be so arrogant as to call his body the temple, naoV ; or even if not so, still, presupposing that action, the disciples could not have remained in the dark concerning the meaning of his words, until after the resurrection.*

By these difficulties modern exegetists have felt constrained to renounce John’s explanation of the words of Jesus, as erroneous and made ex eventu, and to attempt to penetrate, independently of the Evangelist’s explanation, into the sense of the enigmatical saying which he attributes to Jesus.† The construction put upon it by the Jews, who refer the words of Jesus to a real destruction and rebuilding of the national sanctuary, cannot be approved without imputing to Jesus an extravagant example of vain-glorious boasting, at variance with the character which he elsewhere exhibits. If on this account search be made for some figurative meaning which may possibly be assigned to the declaration, there presents itself first a passage in the same gospel (iv. 21 ff.) where Jesus announces to the woman of Samaria, that the time is immediately coming, in which the Father will no longer be worshipped exclusively in Jerusalem (en IerosolumoiV), but will, as a Spirit, receive spiritual worship. Now in the present passage also, the destruction of the temple might, it is said, have signified the abolition of the temple-service at Jerusalem, supposed to be the only valid mode of worship, This interpretation is confirmed by a narrative in the Acts (vi. 14), Stephen, who, as it appears, had adopted the above expressions of Jesus, was taxed by his accusers with declaring, that Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered, oti IhsouV o NazwraioV outoV katalusei ton topon touton, kai allaxei ta eqh, a paredwke MwushV : In which words a change of the Mosaic religious institutions, without doubt a spiritualization of them, is described as a sequel to the destruction of the temple. To this may be added a passage in the synoptical gospels. Nearly the same words which in John are uttered by Jesus himself, appear in the two first gospels (Matt. xxvi. 60 f. ; Mark xiv. 57 f,) as the accusation of false witnesses against him; and here Mark, in addition, designates the temple which is to be destroyed, as one made with hands, ceiropoihtoV, and the new one which is to be

* Henke, Joannes apostolus nonnullorum Jesu apophthegmatum in evang. suo et ipse interpres. In Pott’s and Ruperti’s Sylloge Comm. theol. I, s. 9; Gabler, Recension des Henke’schen Programms im neuesten theol. Journal, 2, I, s. 88; Lücke, in loc.

† Thus, besides Henke in the above Programm, Herder, von Gottes Sohn nach Johannes Evang., s. 135 f. ; Paulus, Comm. 4, s. 165 f. ; L. J. I, a, s. 173 f. ; Lücke, and De Wette, in loc.


built, as another, made without hands, alloV, aceiropoihtoV, whereby he appears to indicate the same contrast between a ceremonial and a spiritual religious system. By the aid of these passages, it is thought, the declaration in John may be explained thus: the sign of my authority to purify the temple, is my ability in a short time to introduce in the place of the Jewish ceremonial worship, a spiritual service of God; i.e. I am authorized to reform the old system, in so far as I am qualified to found a new one. It is certainly a trivial objection to this explanation, that in John the object is not changed, as in Mark, where the temple which is to be built is spoken of as another (alloV), but instead of this, is indicated by the word autoV , as the same with the one destroyed;* since, indeed, the Christian system of religion in relation to the Jewish, may, just as the risen bodyof Jesus in relation to the dead one, be conceived as at once identical and different, inasmuch as in both cases the substance is the same, while the transitory accidents only are supposed to be removed. But it is a more formidable objection which attaches itself to the determination of time, en trisin hmeraiV. That this expression is also used indefinitely and proverbially, in the sense of a short interval of time in general, is not adequately proved by the two passages which are usually appealed to with this view; for in them the third day, by being placed in connexion with the second and first (Hos. vi. 2 : [Heb. letters] Miyyomayim bayyom hashsheliyshiy; Luke xiii. 32 : shmeron kai aurion kai th trith is announced as a merely relative and proximate statement, whereas in our passage it stands alone, and thus presents itself as an absolute and precise determination of time.†

Thus alike invited and repelled by both explanations,‡ theologians take refuge in a double sense which holds the middle place either between the interpretation of John and the symbolical one last stated,§ or between the interpretation of John and that of the Jews ;|| so that Jesus either spoke at once of his body which was to be killed and again restored to life, and of the modification of the Jewish religion which was to be effected, chiefly by means of that death and resurrection; or, in order to repel the Jews, he challenged them to destroy their real temple, and on this condition, never to be fulfilled, promised to build another, still, however, combining with this ostensible sense for the multitude, an esoteric sense, which was only understood by the disciples after the resurrection, and according to which naoV denoted his body. But such a challenge addressed to the Jews, together with the engagement appended to it, would have been an unbecoming manifestation of petulance, and the latent intimation to the disciples, a useless play on words; besides that, in general, a double meaning either of the one or the

* Storr, in Flatt’s Magazin, 4, s. 199.

† Tholuck and Olshausen, in loc.

‡ Hence Neander remains suspended in indecision between the two, s. 395 f.

§ Thus Kern, die Hauptthatsachen der evang. Gesch., Tüb. Zeitschrift, 1836, 2, s. 128.

|| Thus Olshausen.


other kind is unheard of in the discourse of a judicious man.* As, in this manner, the possibility of explaining the passage in John might be entirely despaired of, the author of the Probabilia appeals to the fact that the synoptists call the witnesses, who allege before the judgment seat that Jesus had uttered that declaration, yeudomarturaV, false witnesses; whence he concludes, that Jesus never said what John here attributes to him, and thus gains an exemption from the explanation of the passage, since he regards it as a figment of the fourth Evangelist, whose object was both to explain the calumniations of the accusers, and also to nullify them by a mystical interpretation of his words.† But, on the one hand, it does not follow, from the fact that the synoptists call the witnesses false, that, in the opinion of the Evangelists, Jesus had never said anything whatever of that whereof they accused him; for he might only have said it somewhat differently (lusate, not lusw), or have intended it in a different sense (figuratively instead of literally) : on the other hand, if he said nothing at all of this kind, it is difficult to explain how the false witnesses should come to choose that declaration, and especially the remarkable phrase, en trisin hmeraiV.

If, according to this, on every interpretation of the expression, except the inadmissible one relative to the body of Jesus, the words en trisin hmeraiV form a difficulty: a resource might be found in the narrative of the Acts, as being free from that determination of time. For here Stephen is only accused of saying, oti I. o Naz. outoV katalusei ton topon touton (ton agion), kai allaxei ta eqh a paredwke MwushV. What is false in this allegation (for the witnesses against Stephen also are described as martureV yeudeiV might be the second proposition, which speaks in literal terms of a changing of the institutes of Moses, and instead of this, Stephen, and before him Jesus, may very probably have said in the figurative signification above developed, kai palinoikodomhsei (-sw) auton or kai allon (aceiropoihton) oikodomhsei (-sw).

Meanwhile, this expedient is not at all needful, so far as any insurmountable difficulty in the words en trisin hmeraiV, is concerned. As the number 3 is used proverbially, not only in connexion with 2 or 4 (Prov. xxx. 15, 18, 21, 29 ; Wis. xxiii. 21, xxvi. 25), but also by itself (Wis. xxv. 1, 3) ; so the expression, in three days, if it were once, in combination with the second and first day, become common as an indefinite statement of time, might probably at length be applied in the same sense when standing alone. Whether the expression should signify a long or a short period would then depend on the connexion : here, in opposition to the construction of a great and elaborate building, to the real, natural erection of which, as the Jews directly remark, a long series of years was required, the expression can only be understood as denoting the shortest time.‡

* Kern says, indeed, that a similar doubleness of meaning is found elsewhere in significant discourse; but he refrains from adducipg an example.

† Probab., p. 23 ff.

‡ Comp. Neander, s. 396, Anm.


A prediction, or even a mere intimation of the resurrection, is therefore not contained in these words.

As, here, Jesus is said to have intimated his resurrection beforehand, by the image of the destroying and rebuilding of the temple, so, on another occasion, he is supposed to have quoted the type of the prophet Jonah wIth the same intention (Matt. xii. 39 ff., comp. xvi. 4; Luke xi 29 ff.). When the scribes and Pharisees desired to see a sign from him, Jesus is said to have repulsed their demand by the reply, that to so evil a generation ) genea no sign shall be given, but the sign of the prophet Jonah, to shmeion Iwna tou profhtou, which, in the first passage of Matthew, Jesus himself explains thus : as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, en th koilia tou khtouV so also the Son of man will pass three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, en th kardia thV ghV. In the second passage, in which Matthew attributes this declaration to Jesus, he does not repeat the above interpretation; while Luke, in the parallel passage, explains it simply thus : For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. Now against the possibilityof Jesus having himself given the interpretation of the sign of Jonah which Matthew puts into his mouth, v. 40, a variety of objections may be urged. It is indeed scarcely a tenable argument, that Jesus cannot have spoken of three days and three nights, which he would pass in the heart of the earth, because he only lay in the grave one day and two nights:* since the phraseology of the New Testament decidedly has the peculiarity of designating the abode of Jesus in the grave as of three days’ duration, because it touched upon the evening of the day before the Sabbath, and the morning of the day after it; and if this one day, together with two nights, were once taken for three whole days, it would only be a round way of expressing this completeness, to add to the days the nights also, which, besides, would naturally follow in the comparison with the three days and three nights of Jonah.† But if Jesus gave the explanation of the sign of Jonah which Matthew attributes to him, this would have been so clear a prediction of his resurrection, that for the same reasons which, according to the above observations, are opposed to the literal predictions of that event, we must conclude that Jesus cannot have given this explanation. At all events it must have led the disciples who, according to v. 49, were present, to question Jesus, and in that case it is not to be understood why he did not make the subject perfectly clear, and thus announce his resurrection in plain words. But if he cannot have done this, because then the disciples could not have acted after his death as they are said to have done in the evangelical accounts: neither can he, by that comparison of the fate which awaited him with that of Jonah, have called forth from his disciples a question, which, if proposed to him, he must have answered; but which, judging from the sequel, he cannot have answered.

* Paulus, exeg. Handb. in loc.

† Comp. Fritzsche and Olshausen, in loc.


On these grounds, modern critics have pronounced the explanation of the shmeion Iwna in Matthew to be an interpretation made post eventum by the Evangelist, and by him falsely attributed to Jesus.* According to them,

Jesus indeed directed the attention of the Pharisees to the sign of Jonah, but only in the sense in which Luke makes him explain it: namely, that as Jonah himself, by his mere appearance and preaching of repentance, without miracles, had sufficed as a sign from God to the Ninevites; so his own cotemporaries, instead of craving for miracles, should be satisfied with his person and preaching. This interpretation is the only one which accords with the tenor of the discourse of Jesus—even in Matthew, and more particularly with the parallel between the relation of the Ninevites to Jonah, and that of the queen of the south to Solomon. As it was the wisdom of Solomon, sofia SolomwnoV, by which the latter felt herself attracted from the ends of the earth: so, in

Jonah, even according to the expression of Matthew, it was solely his preaching khrugma, which brought the Ninevites to repentance. It might be supposed that the future tense in Luke: outwV estai kai o uioV t. a. th genea tauth (shmeion), So shall also the Son of Man be to this generation (a sign), cannot be referred to Jesus and his preaching as manifested at that moment, but only to something future, as his resurrection: but this in reality points either to the future judgment krisiV, in which it will be made manifest, that as Jonah was reckoned a sign to the Ninevites, so was the Son of Man to the Jews then living; or to the fact that when Jesus spoke these words, his appearance had not yet attained its consummation, and many of its stages lay yet in futurity. Nevertheless, it must have been at an early period, as we see from the first gospel, that the fate of Jonah was placed in a typical relation to the death and resurrection of Jesus, since the primitive church anxiously searched through the Old Testament for types and prophecies of the offensive catastrophe which befel their Messiah.

There are still some expressions of Jesus in the fourth gospel, which have been understood as latent prophecies of the resurrection. The discourse on the corn of wheat, xii. 24, it is true, too obviously relates to the work of Jesus as likely to be furthered by his death, to be here taken into further consideration. But in the farewell discourses in John there are some declarations, which many are still inclined to refer to the resurrection. When Jesus says : I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you; yet a little time, and the world sees me no more, but ye see me, a little while, and ye shall not see me, and again a little while and ye shall see me, etc. (xiv. 18 ff., xvi. 16 ff.) ; many believe that these expressions—with the relation between mikron kai palin mikron, a little while, and again a little while; the opposition between emfanizein hmin (toiV maqhtaiV) kai ouci tw kosmw, manifest to you (the disciples) and not to the world; the words palin oyomai and oyesqe,

* Paulus, exeg. Handb. 2, s. 97 ff. Schulz, über das Abendm., s. 317 f.


I shall see you again, and ye shall see, which appear to indicate a strictly personal interview—can be referred to nothing else than the resurrection, which was precisely such a reappearance after a short removal, and moreover a personal reappearance granted to the friends of Jesus alone.* But this promised reappearance is at the same time described by Jesus in a manner which will not suit the days of the resurrection. If the words because I live, oti egw zw (xiv. 19), denote his resurrection, we are at a loss to know what can be meant by the succeeding clause, ye shall live also, kai umeiV zhsesqe. Again, Jesus says that on that reappearance his disciples will know his relation to the Father, and will no more need to ask anything of him (xiv. 20, xvi. 23): yet even on the very last day of their intercourse with him after the resurrection, they ask a question of him (Acts i. 6), and one which from the point of view of the fourth gospel is altogether senseless. Lastly, when he promises that to him who loves him, he and the Father will come, and make their abode with him, it is perfectly clear that Jesus here speaks not of a corporeal return, but of his spiritual return, through the paraklhtoV.† Nevertheless, even this explanation has its difficulties, since, on the other hand, the expressions ye shall see me, oyesqe me, and I shall see you, oyomai umaV, will not entirely suit that purely spiritual return : hence we must defer the solution of this apparent contradiction until we can give a more complete elucidation of the discourses in which these expressions occur. In the meantime we merely observe, that the farewell discourses in John, being admitted, even by the friends of the fourth gospel, to contain an intermixture of the Evangelist’s own thoughts, are the last source from which to obtain a proof on this subject.

After all, there might seem to be a resource in the supposition, that though Jesus did not indeed speak of his future resurrection, it was not the less foreknown by him. Now if he had a foreknowledge of his resurrection, either he obtained it in a supernatural manner, by means of the prophetic spirit, the higher principle that dwelt within him—by means of his divine nature, if that be preferred: or he knew it in a natural manner, by the exercise of his human reason. But a supernatural foreknowledge of that event, as well as of his death, is inconceivable, owing to the relation in which Jesus places it to the Old Testament. Not merely in passages such as Luke xviii. 31 (which, as prophecies, can no longer have an historical value for us after the result of our last inquiry), does Jesus represent his resurrection, together with his passion and death, as a fulfilment of all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man pantwn twn gegrammenwn dia twn profhtwn tw uiw tou anqrwpou; but even after the issue, he admonishes his disciples that they ought to believe all that the prophets have spoken, epi pasin oiV elalhsan oi profhtai, namely, that Christ ought to suffer these things and to enter into his glory, tauta edei paqein ton Criston, kai eiselqein eiV thn doxan autou (Luke xxiv. 25 f.).

* Süskind, ut sup. s. 184 Ff.

† Vid. Lücke, in loc.


According to the sequel of the narrative, Jesus forthwith expounded to these disciples (going to Emmaus) all the passages of scripture relating to himself, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, arxamenoV apo MwsewV kai apo pantwn twn profhtwn, to which farther on (v. 44) the psalms are added; but no single passage is given us as having been interpreted by Jesus of his resurrection, except that it would follow from Matt. xii. 39 f., that he regarded the fate of the prophet Jonah as a type of his own; and regarding the subsequent apostolic interpretation as an echo of that of Jesus, it might be concluded, that he, as afterwards the apostles, found such prophecies chiefly in Ps. xvi. 8 ff. (Acts ii. 25 ff., xiii. 35) ; Isa. liii. (Acts viii. 32 ff.) ; Isa. lv. 3 (Acts xiii. 34), and possibly also in Hos. vi. 2. But the fate of Jonah has not even an external similarity to that of Jesus ; and the book which narrates his history carries its object so completely in itself, that whoever may ascribe to it or to one of its particulars, a typical relation to events in futurity, assuredly mistakes its true sense and the design of its author. Isa. lv. 3 is so obviously irrelevant that one can scarcely conceive how the passage could be brought into special connexion with the resurrection of Jesus. Isa. liii. refers decidedly to a collective subject perpetually restored to life in new members. Hosea vi. has a figurative reference, not to be mistaken, to the people and state of Israel. Lastly, the principal passage, Ps. xvi. can only be interpreted of a pious man, who by the help of Jehovah hopes to escape from the danger of death, not in the sense that he, like Jesus, would rise again from the grave, but that he would not be laid there—that is, obviously, not for the present, and with the understanding, that when his time should come, he must pay the tribute of nature:* which, again, will not apply to Jesus. Thus if a supernatural principle in Jesus—a prophetic spirit—caused him to discover a pre-intimation of his resurrection in these Old Testament histories and passages; then, as no one of them really contained such a pre-intimation, the spirit in him cannot have been the spirit of truth, but must have been a lying spirit, the supernatural principle in him, not a divine, but a demoniacal principle. If, in order to avoid this consequence, supranaturalists who are accessible to a rational interpretation of the Old Testament, resort to their only remaining expedient, of regarding the foreknowledge of Jesus concerning his resurrection as purely natural and human: we must reply, that the resurrection, conceived as a miracle, was a secret of the divine counsels, to penetrate into which, prior to the issue, was an impossibility to a human intelligence; while viewed as a natural result, it was a chance the last to be calculated upon, apart from the supposition of an apparent death planned by Jesus and his colleagues.

Thus the foreknowledge, as well as the prediction of

* Vid. de Wette, Comm. über die Psalmen, s. 178.


the resurrection, was attributed to Jesus only after the issue; and in fact, it was an easy matter, with the groundless arbitrariness of Jewish exegesis, for the disciples and the authors of the New Testament to discover in the Old, types and prophecies of the resurrection. Not that they did this with crafty design, according to the accusation of the Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist, and others of his class: but as he who has looked at the sun, long sees its image wherever he may turn his gaze; so they, blinded by their enthusiasm for the new Messiah, saw him on every page of the only book they read, the Old Testament, and in the conviction that Jesus was the Messiah, founded in the genuine feeling that he had satisfied their deepest need—a conviction and a feeling which we also still honour—they laid hold on supports which have long been broken, and which can no longer be made tenable by the most zealous efforts of an exegesis which is behind the age.


Not only did Jesus, according to the evangelical accounts, predict that he should return to life three days after his death; but also that at a later period, in the midst of the calamities which would issue in the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, he should come in the clouds of heaven, to close the present period of the world, and by a general judgment, open the future age (Matt. xxiv. and xxv. ; Mark. xiii. ; Luke xvii. 22-37, xxi. 5-36).

As Jesus for the last time went out of the temple (Luke has not this circumstance), and his disciples (Luke says indefinitely, some) admiringly drew his attention to the magnificent building, he assured them that all which they then looked on, would be destroyed from its foundations (Matt. xxiv. I, 2, parall.). On the question of the disciples, when this would happen, and what would be the sign of the Messiah’s coming, which in their idea was associated with such a crisis (v. 3), Jesus warns them not to be deceived by persons falsely giving themselves out to be the Messiah, and by the notion that the expected catastrophe must follow immediately on the first prognostics; for wars and rumours of war, risings of nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes in divers places, would be only the beginning of the sorrows which were to precede the advent of the Messiah (v. 4—8). They themselves, his adherents, must first suffer hatred, persecution, and the sword; perfidy, treachery, deception by false prophets, lukewarmness and general corruption of morals, would prevail among men; but at the same time the news of the Messiah’s kingdom must be promulgated through the whole world. Only after all this, could the end of the present period of the world arrive, until when, he who would partake of the blessedness of the future must endure with


constancy (v. 9—14). A nearer presage of this catastrophe would be the fulfilment of the oracle of Daniel (ix 27), the standing of the abomination of desolation in the holy place (according to Luke xxi 20, the encompassing of Jerusalem with armies) When this should take place, it would be high time for the most precipitate flight (according to Luke, because the devastation of Jerusalem would be at hand, an event which he more nearly particularizes in the address of Jesus to the city, xix. 43 1.: thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another). At this juncture, all who should have hindrances to rapid departure would be deserving of compassion, and it would be in the highest degree desirable that the recommended flight should not fall in an unfavourable season; for then would commence unexampled tribulation (according to Luke, v. 24, consisting chiefly in many of the people of Israel perishing by the sword, in others being carried away captive, and in Jerusalem being trodden down of the Gentiles for a predetermined period): a tribulation which only the merciful abridgment of its duration by God, for the sake of the elect, could render supportable (v. 15—22). At this time would arise false prophets and Messiahs, seeking to delude by miracles and signs, and promising to show the Messiah in this or that place: whereas a Messiah who was concealed anywhere, and must be sought out, could not be the true one; for his advent would be like the lightning, a sudden and universal revelation, of which the central point would be Jerusalem, the object of punishment on account of its sin (v. 2 3—28). Immediately after this time of tribulation, the darkening of the sun and moon, the falling of the stars, and the shaking of all the powers of heaven would usher in the appearance of the Messiah, who, to the dismay of the dwellers on the earth, would come with great glory in the clouds of heaven, and immediately send forth his angels to gather together his elect from all the corners of the earth (v. 29—3 1). By the fore-named signs the approach of the described catastrophe would be as certainly discernible as the approach of summer by the budding of the fig-tree; the existing generation would, by all that was true, live to witness it, though its more precise period was known to God only (v. 32—36). But, after the usual manner of mankind (what follows, Mark and Luke partly have not at all, partly not in this connexion), they would allow the advent of the Messiah, as formerly the deluge, to overtake them in thoughtless security (v. 37—39): and yet it would be an extremely critical period, in which those who stood in the closest relation to each other, would be delivered over to entirely opposite destinies (v. 40, 41). Hence watchfulness would be requisite, as in all cases where the period of a decisive issue is uncertain: an admonition which is then illustrated by the image of the master of the house and the thief (v. 43, 44) ; of the servant to whom his lord, when about to travel, entrusted the rule


of his house (v. 45—51); of the wise and foolish virgins (XXV. 1—13): and lastly, of the talents (v. 14—30). Hereupon follows a description of the solemn judgment, which the Messiah would hold over all nations, and in which, according as the duties of humanity were observed or neglected, he would award blessedness or misery (v. 3I~~~46).*

Thus in these discourses Jesus announces that shortly (euqewV, XXIV. 29), after that calamity, which (especially according to the representation in Luke’s gospel) we must identify with the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, and within the term of the cotemporary generation (h genea auth, V. 34), he would visibly make his second advent in the clouds, and terminate the existing dispensation. Now as it will soon be eighteen centuries since the destruction of Jerusalem, and an equally long period since the generation cotemporary with Jesus disappeared from the earth, while his visible return and the end of the world which he associated with it, have not taken place: the announcement of Jesus appears so far to have been erroneous. Already in the first age of Christianity, when the return of Christ was delayed longer than had been anticipated, there arose, according to 2 Peter iii. 3 f., scoffers, asking: where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. In modern times, the inference which may apparently be drawn from the above consideration, to the disadvantage of Jesus and the apostles, has been by no one more pointedly expressed than by the Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist. No promise throughout the whole scriptures, he thinks, is on the one hand more definitely expressed, and on the other, has turned out more flagrantly false, than this, which yet forms one of the main pillars of Christianity. And he does not see in this a mere error, but a premeditated deception on the part of the apostles (to whom, and not to Jesus himself, he attributes that promise, and the discourses in which it is contained); a deception induced by the necessity of alluring the people on whose contributions they wished to subsist, by the promise of a speedy reward: and discernible by the boldness of their attempts to evade the doubts springing from the protracted delay of the return of Christ: Paul, for example, in the second epistle to the Thessalonians, sheltering himself in obscure

* Compare, on the import and connexion of this discourse, Fritzsche, in Matth., p. 695 ff; De Wette, exeg. Handb., I, I, s. i97 ff; Weizel, die unchristliche Unsterblichkeitslehre, in the theol. Studien und Kritiken, 1836, s. 599 ff.—In agreement with these commentators I append the following division of the passage in Matthew:

I. Signs of the end, teloV, XXIV. 4—54.

a. More remote signs, the beginning of sorrows, arch wdinwn, 4—8.

b. More immediate signs, the actual sorrows, 9-14.

II. The end, teloV, itself, xxiv. 15—25, 46.

a. Its commencement with the destruction of Jerusalem, and the great tribulation qliyiV, which accompanies it, 15—28.

b. Its culminating point: the advent of the Messiah, together with the assembling of his elect, 29—31. (Here follow retrospective observations and warnings, xxiv.32—xXV. 30.)

c. Close of the teloV with the messianic judgment, 31—46.


phrases; and Peter, in his second epistle, resorting to the preposterous expedient of appealing to the divine mode of reckoning time, in which a thousand years are equal to one day.*

Such inferences from the discourse before us would inflict a fatal wound on Christianity; hence it is natural that exegetists should endeavour by all means to obviate them.* And as the whole difficulty consists in Jesus having apparently placed an event now long past, in immediate chronological connexion with one still future, three expedients are possible: either to deny that Jesus in part spoke of something now past, and to allege that he spoke solely of what is still future; or to deny that a part of his discourse relates to something still future, and thus to refer the entire prediction to what is already lying in the past; or lastly, to admit that the discourse of Jesus does indeed partly refer to something which is still future to us, but either to deny that he places the two series of events in immediate chronological succession, or to maintain that he has also noticed what is intermediate.

Some of the Fathers of the Church, as Irenæus and Hilary—yet living in the primitive expectation of the return of Christ, and at the same time not so practised in regular exegesis, as to be incapable of overlooking certain difficulties attendant on a desirable interpretation—referred the entire prediction, from its commencement in Matt. xxiv. to its end in Matt. xxv., to the still future return of Christ to judgment.† But as this interpretation admits that Jesus in the commencement of his discourse uses the destruction of Jerusalem as a type of the final catastrophe, it virtually nullifies itself. For what does that admission signify, but that the discourse of Jesus, in the first instance, produces the impression that he spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem, i.e. of something now past, and that only more extended reflection and combination can give it a relation to something still lying in futurity?

To modern rationalism, based as it was on naturalistic principles, the hope of the second advent of Christ was in every form annihilated. Hence, not scrupling at any exegetical violence for the sake of removing from scripture what was discordant with its preconceived system, it threw itself on the opposite side, and hazarded the attempt to refer the discourses in question, in their entire tenor, solely to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the events which immediately preceded and followed it.‡ According to this interpretation, the end spoken of is only the cessation of the Judeo-Gentile economy of the world; what is said of the advent of Christ in the clouds, is only a figurative description of the promulgation and triumph of his doctrine; the assembling of the nations to judgment, and the

* Vom Zweck Jesu und seiner Jünger, s. 184, 201 ff., 207 ff.

† The former adv. haeres. v. 25; the latter, Comm. in Matth. in loc. Compare on the different interpretations of this passage the list in Schott, Cammentarius in eos J. Chr. sermones, qui de reditu ejus ad judicium—agunt, p. 73 ff.

‡ Bahrdt., Uebersetzung des N. T., I, s. 1103, 3te Ausg. ; Eckermann, Handb. der Glaubenslehre, 2, s. 579, 3, s. 427, 437, 709 ff; and others in Schott, Ut sup.


sending of some into blessedness, and others into condemnation, is an image of the happy consequences which would result from embracing the doctrine and cause of Jesus, and the evil consequences attendant on indifference or hostility to them. But in this explanation there is a want of similarity between the symbols and the ideas represented, which is not only unprecedented in itself; but particularly inconceivable in this case; since Jesus is here addressing minds of Jewish culture, and must therefore be aware that what he said of the Messiah’s advent in the clouds, of the judgment, and the end of the existing period of the world, would be understood in the most literal sense.

It thus appears that the discourse of Jesus will not as a whole, admit of being referred either to the destruction of the Jewish state, or to the events at the end of the world; it would therefore be necessarily referred to something distinct from both, if this twofold impossibility adhered alike to all its parts. But the case is not so; for while, on the one hand, what is said Matt. XXiV. 2, 3, 15 ff. of the devastation of the temple, cannot be referred to the end of the world: on the other hand, what is predicted XXV. 31 ff. of the judgment to be held by the Son of Man, will not suit the destruction of Jerusalem. As, according to this, in the earlier part of the discourse of Jesus, the destruction of Jerusalem is the predominant subject, but in the subsequent part, the end of all things: it is possible to make a division, so as to refer the former to the more proximate event, the latter to the more remote one. This is the middle path which has been taken by the majority of modern exegetists, and here the only question is: where is the partition to be made? As it must present a space of time within which the whole period from the destruction of Jerusalem to the last day may be supposed to fall, and which therefore would include many centuries, it must, one would think, be plainly indicated, so as to be easily and unanimously found. It is no good augury for the plan, that this unanimity does not exist,—that, on the contrary, the required division is made in widely different parts of the discourse of Jesus.

Thus much on the one hand appeared to be decided: that at least the close of the 25th chapter, from v. 31, with its description of the solemn tribunal which the Messiah, surrounded by his angels, would hold over all nations, cannot be referred to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. Hence many theologians believed that they could fix the boundary here, retaining the relation to the end of the Jewish state until XXV. 30, and at this point making the transition to the end of the world.* On the very first glance at this explanation, it must appear strange that the great chasm which it supposes to exist between V. 30 and 31, is marked simply by a de.

* This is the opinion of Lightfoot, in loc., Flatt, Comm. de notione basileia twn ouranwn in Velthusen’s und A. Sammiung 2, 461 ff.; Jahn, Erklärung der Weissagungen Jesu von der Zerstörung Jerusalems u. s. w., in Bengel’s Archiv. 2, I, S. 79 ff., and others, cited in Schott, S. 75f.


Moreover, not only are the darkening of the sun and moon, earthquakes, and falling of the stars, understood as a mere image of the subversion of the Jewish state and worship; but when xxiv. 31, it is said of the Messiah, that he will come in the clouds, this is supposed to mean, invisibly; with power—only observable by the effects he produces; with great glory—with such as consists in the conclusions which may be drawn from those effects; while the angels who gather together the nations by the sound of the trumpet, are supposed to represent the apostles preaching the gospel.* Quite erroneously, appeal is made, in support of this merely figurative meaning, to the prophetic pictures of the divine day of judgment, Isa. XIII. 9 ff., xxiv. 18 ff.; Jer. iv. 23 f.; Ezek. xxxii. 7 ff.; Joel iii. 3 ff.; Amos viii. 9; farther, to descriptions† such as Judges V. 20; Acts ii., xvii. ff. In those prophetic passages, real eclipses of the sun and moon, earthquakes, and the like, are intended, and are described as prodigies which will accompany the predicted catastrophe; the song of Deborah, again, celebrates a real participation of heaven in the battle against Sisera, a participation which in the narrative, iv. 15, is ascribed to God himself, in the song, to his heavenly hosts; lastly, Peter expects, that the outpouring of the spirit will be succeeded by the appearances in the heavens, promised among the signs of the great day of the Lord.

The attempt to effect a division near the end of the discourse, at xxv. 30, failing, from its rendering much that goes before incapable of explanation; the next expedient is to retreat as far towards the commencement as possible, by considering how far it is inevitable to recognise a relation to the immediate future. The first resting place is after xxiv. 28; for what is said, up to this point, of war and other calamities, of the abomination in the temple, of the necessity for speedy flight, in order to escape unprecedented misery, cannot be divested of a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem without the greatest violence: while what follows concerning the appearance of the Son of Man in the clouds, etc., just as imperatively demands an application to the last day.‡ But in the first place, it appears incomprehensible how the enormous interval, which on this explanation also is supposed to fall between the one portion of the discourse and the other, can be introduced between two verses, of all others, which Matthew connects by an adverb expressive of the shortest possible time (euqewV). It has been sought to remove this inconvenience by the assertion that euqewV does not here signify the quick succession of the one incident on the other, but only the unexpected occurrence of an event, and that consequently, what is here said amounts merely to this: suddenly, at some period (how distant is undetermined) after the calamities attendant on the destruction of Jerusalem, the Messiah will visibly appear. Such an

* Thus especially Jahn, in the treatise above cited.

† Kern, Hauptthatsachen der evang. Geschichte, Tub. Zeitschr. 1836, 2, s. 140 ff.

‡ Thus Storr, Opusc. acad. 3, s. 34 ff. ; Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, a, s. 346 f. 402 f.


interpretation of euqewV is, as Olshausen correctly perceives, merely a desperate resource: but even were it otherwise, it would afford no real aid, since not only does Mark in his parallel passage, v. 24, by the words, in those days, after that tribulation, en ekeinaiV taiV hmeraiV meta thn qliyin ekeinhn place the events which he proceeds to mention in uninterrupted chronological succession with those which he had before detailed; but also, shortly after this point in each of the narratives (Matt. v. 34 parall.), we find the assurance that all this will be witnessed by the existing generation. As thus the opinion, that from v. 29, everything relates to the return of Christ to judge the world, was threatened with annihilation by v. 34; the word genea as the Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist* complains, was put to the torture, that it might cease to bear witness against this mode of division. At one time it is made to signify the Jewish nation ;at another the adherents of Jesus ;and of both the one and the other Jesus is supposed to say that it will (how many generations hence being left uncertain) be still in existence on the arrival of that catastrophe. So to explain the verse in question, that it may not contain a determination of time, is even maintained to be necessary on a consideration of the context, v. 35: for as in this Jesus declares it impossible to determine the period of that catastrophe, he cannot immediately before have given such a determination, in the assurance that his cotemporaries would yet live to see all of which he had been speaking. But this alleged necessity so to interpret the word genea has long been dissipated by the distinction between an inexact indication of the space of time, beyond which the event will not be deferred (genea), and the precise determination of the epoch (hmera kai wra) at which it will occur; the former Jesus gives, the latter he declares himself unable to give.§ But the very possibility of interpreting genea in the above manner vanishes, when it is considered, that in connexion with a verb of time, and without anything to imply a special application, genea cannot have any other than its original sense: i.e. generation, age; that in a passage aiming to determine the signs of the Messiah’s advent, it would be very unsuitable to introduce a declaration which, instead of giving any information concerning the arrival of that catastrophe, should rather treat of the duration of the Jewish nation, or of the Christian community, of which nothing had previously been said; that, moreover, already at v. 33, in the words umeiV otan idhte panta, ginwskete k. t. l., YE, when ye shall SEE all these things, know, etc., it is presupposed that the parties addressed would witness the approach of the event in question; and lastly, that in another passage (Matt. xvi. 28 parall.) the certainty of living to see the coming of the Son of man is asserted not simply of this generation, genea auth, but of some standing here, tineV twn wde esthkotwn, whereby it is shown in the most decisive manner, that in the present passage also,

* Ut sup. s. 188.

† Storr, ut sup. s. 39, 116 ff.

‡ Paulus, in loc.

§ Vid. Kuinöl in Matt., s. 649.


Jesus intended by the above expression the race of his cotemporaries, who were not to have become extinct before that catastrophe should occur.* Unable to deny this, and yet anxious to separate as widely as possible the end of the world here announced, and the age of Jesus, others would find in the declaration before us nothing more than this: the events hitherto described will begin to be fulfilled in the present age, though their complete fulfilment may yet be deferred many centuries.† But when already at v. 8 the subject is said to be the beginning of the tribulation, while from v. 14 we have a description of the end of the present period of the world, which that tribulation would introduce, and it is here (v. 34) said, the existing generation shall not pass away, ewV an panta tauta genhtai, until all these things be fulfilled: we must inevitably understand by panta tauta, all these things, not merely the beginning, but also the last-mentioned events at the end of the world.

Thus there is still at v. 34 something which must be referred to an event very near to the time of Jesus: hence the discourse of Jesus cannot from so early a point as v. 29, refer to the end of the world, an epoch so far distant; and the division must be made somewhat farther on, after v. 35 or 42.‡ But on this plan, expressions are thrown into the first part of the discourse, which resist the assigned application to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem ;— the glorious advent of Christ in the clouds, and the assembling of all nations by angels (v. 30 f) must be regarded as the same extravagant figures, which formerly forbade our acceptance of another mode of division.

Thus the declaration v. 34 which, together with the preceding symbolical discourse on the fig tree (v. 32 f.), and the appended asseveration (v. 35), must refer to a very near event, has, both before and after it, expressions which can only relate to the more distant catastrophe: hence it has appeared to some as a sort of oasis in the discourse, having a sense isolated from the immediate context. Schott, for instance, supposes that, up to v. 26, Jesus had been speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem; that at v. 27 he does indeed make a transition to the events at the end of the present period of the world; but that at v. 32, he reverts to the original subject, the destruction of Jerusalem; and only at v. 36 proceeds again to

* Comp. the Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist, ut sup. s. 190 ff. Schott, ut sup. s. 127 ff.

† Kern, ut sup. s. 141f. That Jesus conceived the epoch at which he spoke to be separated from the end of the world by a far longer interval than would elapse before the destruction of Jerusalem, Kern thinks he can prove in the shortest way from v. 14, of the 24th chapter of Matthew, where Jesus says, And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come. For such a promulgation of Christianity, he thinks, it is "beyond contradiction" that a far longer space of time than these few lustrums would be requisite. As it happens, the apostle Paul himself presents the contradiction, when he represents the gospel as having been already preached to that extent before the destruction of Jerusalem, e.g. Col. i. 5 : tou euaggeliou, (6) tou parontoV-en panti tw kosmw-(23)-tou khrucqentoV en pash th ktisei th upo ton ouranon. Comp. Rom. x. 13.

‡ The former is chosen by Süskind, vermischte Aufsätze, s. 90 ff. ; the latter by Kuinöl, in Matth., p. 653 ff.


speak of the end of the world.* But this is to hew the text in pieces, out of desperation. Jesus cannot possibly have spoken with so little order and coherence; still less can he have so linked his sentences together as to give no intimation of such abrupt transitions.

Nor is this imputed to him by the most recent critics. According to them, it is the Evangelist who has joined together, not in the best order, distinct and heterogeneous declarations of Jesus. Matthew, indeed, admits Schulz, imagined that these discourses were spoken without intermission, and only arbitrariness and violence can in this respect sever them from each other; but hardly did Jesus himself deliver them in this consecutive manner, and with this imprint of unity.† The various phases of his coming, thinks Sieffert, his figurative appearance at the destruction of Jerusalem, and his literal appearance at the last day, though they may not have been expressly discriminated, were certainly not positively connected by Jesus; but subjects which he spoke of in succession were, from their obscurity, confused together by the Evangelist.‡ And as in this instance there recurs the difference between Matthew and Luke, that what Matthew represents as being spoken on a single occasion, Luke distributes into separate discourses; to which it is also to be added, that much of what Matthew gives, Luke either has not, or has it in a different form : therefore Schleiermacher§ believed himself warranted to rectify the composition of Matthew by that of Luke, and to maintain that while in Luke the two separate discourses, xvii. 22 ff. and xxi. 5 ff., have each their appropriate connexion and their indubitable application, in Matthew (chap. xxiv. and xxv.), by the blending of those two discourses, and the introduction of portions of other discourses, the connexion is destroyed, and the application obscured. According to this, the discourse, Luke xxi., taken alone, contains nothing which outsteps the reference to the capture of Jerusalem and the accompanying events. Yet here also (v. 27) we find the declaration, Then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, tote oyontai ton uion tou anqrwpou ercomenon en nefelh; and when Schleiermacher explains this as a mere image representing the revelation of the religious significance of the political and natural events before described, he falls into a violence of interpretation which overturns his entire opinion as to the mutual relation of these accounts. If, then, in the connexion of the end of all things with the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew by no means stands alone, but is countenanced by Luke—to say nothing of Mark, whose account in this instance is an extract from Matthew: we may, it is true, conclude, that as in other discourses of Jesus, so perhaps in this also, many things which were uttered at different times are associated; but there is nothing to warrant

* See his Commentarius, in loc.

† Ueber das Abendmahl, s. 315 f.

‡ Ueber den Ursprung des ersten kanon. Evangel., s. 119 ff. Also Weisse, ut sup.

§ Ueber den Lukas, s. 215 ff., 265 ff. Here also his opinion is approved by Neander, s. 562.


the supposition, that precisely what relates to the two events, which in our idea are so remote from each other, is the foreign matter, especially since we see, from the unanimous representation of the remaining New Testament writings, that the primitive church expected, as a speedy issue, the return of Christ, together with the end of the present period of the world (i Cor. x. 11, xv.51 ; Phil. iv.5; Thess.iv.15 ff.; James v.8; I Pet. iv. 7; I John ii. 18; Rev. i. 1, 3, iii. 11, xxii. 7, 10, 12, 20).

Thus it is impossible to evade the acknowledgment, that in this discourse, if we do not mutilate it to suit our own views, Jesus at first speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem, and farther on and until the close, of his return at the end of all things, and that he places the two events in immediate connexion. There remains, therefore, but one expedient for vindicating the correctness of his announcement, namely, on the one hand, to assign the coming of which he speaks to the future, but, on the other hand, to bring it at the same time into the present—instead of a merely future, to make it a perpetual coming. The whole history of the world, it is said, since the first appearance of Christ, is an invisible return on his part, a spiritual judgment which he holds over mankind. Of this, the destruction of Jerusalem (in our passage until v. 28) is only the first act; in immediate succession (euqewV, v. 29 ff.) comes the revolution effected among mankind by the publication of the gospel; a revolution which is to be carried on in a series of acts and epochs, until the end of all things, when the judgment gradually effected in the history of the world, will be made known by an all-comprehending, final revelation.* But the famous utterance of the poet, spoken from the inmost depth of modern conviction, is ill-adapted to become the key of a discourse, which more than any other has its root in the point of view proper to the ancient world. To regard the judgment of the world, the coming of Christ, as something successive, is a mode of conception in the most direct opposition to that of the New Testament. The very expressions by which it designates that catastrophe, as that day or the last day, ekeinh or escath hmera, show that it is to be thought of as momentary; the sunteleia tou aiwnoV, end of the age (v. 3), concerning the signs of which the apostles inquire, and which Jesus elsewhere (Matt. xiii. 39) represents under the image of the harvest, can only be the final close of the course of the world, not something which is gradually effected during this course; when Jesus compares his coming to lightning (xxiv. 27), and to the entrance of the thief in the night (v. 43), he represents it as one sudden event, and not as a series of events.† If we consider in addition to this the extravagant figures, which it is not less necessary to suppose on this interpretation,

* Olshausen, bibl. Comm. I, s. 865; Kern, ut sup. s. 138 ff. Comp. Steudel Glaubensl. s. 479 ff.

† Comp. especially Weizel, die Zeit des jüngsten Tags u. s. f. in den Studien der evang. Geistlichkeit Würtembergs, 9, 2, s. 140 ff., 154 ff.


than on the above-mentioned reference of the 24th chapter to the destruction of Jerusalem,* it will appear necessary to abstain from this expedient, as from all the previous ones.

Thus the last attempt to discover in the discourse before us the immense interval which, looking from our position in the present day, is fixed between the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of all things, having failed; we are taught practically that that interval lies only in our own conception, which we are not justified in introducing into the text. And when we consider that we owe our idea of that interval only to the experience of many centuries, which have elapsed since the destruction of Jerusalem: it cannot be difficult to us to imagine how the author of this discourse, who had not had this experience, might entertain the belief that shortly after the fall of the Jewish sanctuary, the world itself, of which, in the Jewish idea, that sanctuary was the centre, would also come to an end, and the Messiah appear in judgment.



The result just obtained involves a consequence, to avoid which has been the object of all the futile attempts at explanation hitherto examined: if, namely, Jesus conceived and declared that the fall of the Jewish sanctuary would be shortly followed by his visible return and the end of. the world, while it is now nearly 1800 years since the one catastrophe, and yet the other has not arrived; it follows that in this particular, he was mistaken. Hence expositors, who so far yield to exegetical evidence, as to agree with us in the above conclusion concerning the meaning of the discourse before us, seek from dogmatical considerations to evade this legitimate consequence. Hengstenberg, as is well known, has advanced, in relation to the history*of the Hebrew prophets, the following theory, which has met with approval from other expositors. To the spiritual vision of these men, he says, future things presented themselves not so much through the medium of time as of space— as it were, in great pictures; and thus, as is the case in paintings or perspective views, the most distant object often appeared to them to stand immediately behind the nearest, foreground and background being intermingled

* According to Kern, the appearing of the Son of Man in the clouds, signifies "the manifestation of everything which forms so great an epoch in the development of the history of mankind, that from it, the agency of Christ, who is the governing power in the history of mankind, may be as clearly recognised as if the sign of Christ were seen in the heavens. The mourning of all the tribes of the earth is to be understood of the sorrow with which men will be visited, owing to the judgment, krisiV, which accompanies the propagation of the kingdom of Christ, as consisting in an expulsion of ungodliness out of the world, and the annihilation of the old man." Still further does Weisse allow himself to be carried away by the allegorizing propensity: Christ "commiserates those who are with child and who give suck, i.e. those who would still labour and produce in the old order of things; he further pities those whose flight falls in the winter, i.e. in a rude, inhospitable period, which bears no fruit for the spirit." (Die evang. Gesch. 2, s. 592.)


with each other: and this theory of a perspective vision we are to apply to Jesus, especially in regard to the discourse in question.* But we may here cite the appropriate remark of Paulus,† that as one, who in a perspective externally presented, does not know how to distinguish distances, labours under an optical delusion, i.e. errs: so likewise in an internal perspective of ideas, if such there be, the disregard of distances must be pronounced an error; consequently this theory does not show that the above men did not err, but rather explains how they easily might err.

Even Olshausen considers this theory, which he elsewhere adopts, insufficient in the present case to remove all appearance of error on the part of Jesus; and he therefore seeks to derive special grounds of justification, from the particular nature of the event predicted.‡ In the first place he regards it as indispensable to the full moral influence of the doctrine of Christ’s return, that this catastrophe should be regarded as possible, nay probable, at any moment. This consideration may indeed justify such enunciations as Matt. xxiv. 37 ff., where Jesus admonishes to watchfulness, because no one can know how soon the decisive moment may arrive; but by no means such as xxiv. 34, where he declares that within the term of the existing generation, all will be fulfilled. For one whose mind is in a healthy state, conceives the possible as possible, the probable as probable; and if he wishes to abide by the truth, he so exhibits them to others : he, on the contrary, by whom the ‘merely possible or probable is conceived as the real, is under a mistake; and he who, without so conceiving it himself, yet for a moral or religious object, ‘so represents it to others, permits himself to use a pious fraud. Olshausen further avails himself of a position already noticed, namely, that the opinion that the advent of Christ is at hand, is a true one, inasmuch as the entire history of the world is a coming of Christ; though not so as to exclude his finaI coming at the end of all things. But if it is proved that Jesus represented his literal, final coming as near at hand, while, in fact, only his figurative perpetual coming occurred in the period indicated: he has confused these two modes of his coming. The last argument which Olshausen adduces—that because the acceleration or delay of the return of Christ depends on the conduct of men, consequently on their free-will, his prophecy is only to be understood conditionally—stands or falls with the first; for to represent something conditional as unconditional is to create a false impression.

Sieffert, likewise, regards the grounds on which Olshausen seeks to free the assertions of Jesus concerning his return from the imputation of error, as inadequate; nevertheless he holds it an impossibility to the Christian consciousness, to ascribe an erroneous expectation to Jesus.§ In no case would this furnish a warrant,

* Hengstenberg, Christologie des A. T., I, a, s. 305 ff.

† Exeg. Handb. 3, a, s. 403. Comp. also Kern, Hauptthatsachen, ut sup. s. 137.

‡ Bibi. Comm. 1, s. 865 ff.

§ Ueber den Ursprung u. s. f., s. 119. Weisse advances a similar opinion, ut sup.


arbitrarily to sever from each other those elements in the discourse of Jesus which refer to the nearer event, from those which in our view refer to the more remote one: rather, if we had reasons for holding such an error on the part of Jesus inconceivable, we must deny in general that the discourses on the second advent, in which those two sets of materials are so inextricably interwoven, originated with him. But, looking from the orthodox point of view, the question is not what will it satisfy the Christian consciousness of the present day to believe or not to believe concerning Christ? but, what stands written concerning Christ? and to this the above consciousness must accommodate itself as it best may. Considering the subject rationally, however, a feeling resting on presuppositions, such as the so-called Christian consciousness, has no voice in matters of science; and as often as it seeks to intermeddle with them, is to be reduced to order by the simple reprimand: mulier taceat in ecciesia!*

But have we no other grounds for questioning that Jesus really uttered the predictions contained in Matt. xxiv. and xxv. parall.? In pursuing this inquiry, we may first take our stand on the assertion of supranaturalistic theologians, that what Jesus here predicts, he could not know in the natural way of reasonable calculation, but only in a supernatural manner.† Even the main fact, that the temple would be destroyed and Jerusalem laid waste, could not, according to this opinion, be so certainly foreknown. Who could conjecture, it is asked, that the Jews would carry their frantic obstinacy so far as to render such an issue inevitable? Who could calculate, that precisely such emperors, would send such procurators, as would provoke insurrection by their baseness and pusillanimity? Still more remarkable is it, that many particular incidents which Jesus foretold actually occurred. The wars, pestilence, earthquakes, famines, which he prophesied, may be shown in the history of the succeeding times; the persecution of his followers really took place; the prediction that there would be false prophets, and even such as would, by promises of miracles, allure the people into the wilderness (Matt. xxiv, 11, 24 ff. parall.), may be compared with a strikingly similar passage from Josephus, describing the last times of the Jewish state ;the encompassing of Jerusalem with armies, mentioned by Luke, with the trench, carax, which he elsewhere (xix. 43 f.) speaks of as being cast about the city, may be recognized in the circumstance recorded by Josephus, that Titus caused Jerusalem to be enclosed by a wall ; § lastly it may also excite astonishment that the declarations, there shalt not be left one stone upon

5 Compare also my Streitschriften, I, I, conclusion.

6 Comp. e.g. Gratz, Comm. zum Matth. 2, 444 ff.

7 Antiq. xx. viii. 6 (comp. bell. jud. ii. xiii. 4.): And now these impostors and deceivers persuaded the multitude to follow them into the wilderness, and pretended that they would exhibit manifest wonders and signs that should be performed by the providence of God. And many that were prevailed on by them, suffered the punishments of their folly; for Felix brought them back, and then punished them.

8 Bell. jud. v. xii. i, 2.


another, ouk afeqhsetai liqoV epi liqw, in relation to the temple, and they shall lay thee even with the ground, edrafiousi se, (Luke xix. 44), in relation to the city, were fulfilled to the letter.*

When on the orthodox point of view, from the impossibility of foreseeing such particulars in a natural manner, it is concluded that Jesus had a supernatural insight into the future ; this conclusion is here attended not only with the same difficulty as above, in connection with the announcement of his death and resurrection, but with another also. In the first place, according to Matthew (xxiv. 15), and Mark (xiii. 14), Jesus represented the first stage of the catastrophe as a fulfilment of the prophecy of Daniel concerning an abomination of desolation, and consequently referred Dan. ix. 27 (comp. xi. 31, xii. 11) to an event at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. For what Paulus maintains,—namely, that Jesus here only borrows an expression from Daniel, without regarding that declaration of the prophet as a prophecy concerning something which in his time (the time of Jesus) was still future— is here rendered especially inconceivable by the addition : let him that readeth understand. Now it may be regarded as an established point in the modern criticism and explanation of the Old Testament, that the above passages in Daniel have reference to the desecration of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes consequently, the interpretation of them which the Evangelists here lend to Jesus is a false one. But to proceed to the difficulty which is peculiar to the prophecy in Matt. xxiv., xxv.: only one side of it, that relating to Jerusalem, has been fulfilled ; the other, that relating to the return of Jesus and the end of the world, remains unfulfilled. Such a half-true prophecy as this cannot have been drawn by Jesus from his higher nature, and he must have been left in this matter to his human faculties. But that he should be able, by means of these, to foresee a result, dependent on so many fortuities as was the destruction of Jerusalem, with its particular circumstances, appears inconceivable; and hence the conjecture arises, that these discourses, in the definiteness which they now possess, were not uttered prior to the issue, consequently not by Jesus, but that they may have been put into his mouth as prophecies after the issue. Thus Kaiser, for example, is of opinion that Jesus threatened a terrible fate to the temple and the nation by means of the Romans, conditionally, in case the nation did not accept salvation from the Messiah, and described this fate in prophetic types; but that the unconditional form and the more Precise delineations were given to his discourse post eventum. Credner also infers, from the circumstances, that incidents accompanying the destruction of Jerusalem are put into the mouth of Jesus as prophecies, that the three first gospels cannot have been composed

* More ample comparisons of the results mentioned by Josephus and others, with the prophecy, see in Credner, Einleit. in das N. T. I, s. 207.

† Bertholdt, Daniel ühersetzt und erklärt, 2, s. 668 ff. ; Paulus, exeg. Handb. 3, a, s. 340 f. ; De Wette, Einleit. in das A. T., § 254 ff.


before this event * it must certainly be supposed that the prophecy, as we have it in the two first gospels, was formed immediately after or even during the issue, since here the appearance of the Messiah is predicted as an event that would immediately succeed the fall of Jerusalem, which in later years could no longer be the expectation. As this immediate chronological connexion of the two catastrophes is not so expressly made by Luke, it has been supposed that this Evangelist gives the prophecy as it was modified by experience, that the Messiah’s advent and the end of the world had in nowise followed close on the destruction of Jerusalem.

In opposition to these two opinions, that the prophecy in question had a supernatural source, and that it was only made after the issue; it is sought, in a third quarter, to show that what is here predicted, Jesus might really have known in a natural way.While, on the one hand, it is held in the highest degree astonishing that the result should have so closely corresponded with the most minute features of the prophecy of Jesus; on the other hand, there are expositors by whom this correspondence is called in question. The encompassing of Jerusalem with armies, say they, is precisely what Titus, according to Josephus, pronounces impossible to be effected ;§ it is predicted that a trench carax would be cast about the city, while Josephus informs us, that after the first attempt at forming an embankment cwma had been rendered useless, by an act of incendiarism on the part of the besieged,|| Titus desisted from his scheme; of false Messiahs, arising in the interval between the death of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem, history says nothing; the commotions among nations, and the natural phenomena, in that period, are far from being so important as they are here represented; but above all, in these prophecies, especially as they are given in Matthew and Mark, it is not the destruction of Jerusalem which is predicted, but solely that of the temple: plain divergencies of the prophecy from the result, which would not exist, if either a supernatural glance into the future, or a vaticinium post eventum were concerned.

According to these theologians, we are on the wrong track in seeking the counterpart of these prophecies forwards, in the result; since it was backwards, on types presented in the past, that the authors looked. A mass ot such types was furnished by the Jewish conception of the circumstances

* Kaiser, bibl. Theol. i, s. 247; Credner, Einl. in das N. T. I, s. 2o6 f.

† De Wette, Einl. in das N. T., § 97, 101. Exeg. Handb. I, I, s. 204, I, 2, s. 103.

‡ Paulus, Fritzsche, Dc Wette in loc.

§ B. j. V. xii. i : To encompass the whole city round with his army, was not very easy, by reason of its magnitude and the difficulty of the situation; and on other accounts dangerous.

|| B. j. V. xi. 1 ff., xii. 1.


which would precede the advent of the Messiah. False prophets and Messiahs, war, famine and pestilence, earthquakes and commotions in the heavens, prevalent corruption of manners, persecution of the faithful servants of Jehovah, were held to be the immediate harbingers of the messianic kingdom. Moreover, in the prophets there are descriptions of the tribulation which would presage and accompany the day of the coming of Jehovah (Isa. xiii. 9 ff.; Joel i. 15, ii. 1 ff. 10 ff., iii. 3 ff., iv. 15 f.; Zeph.i. 14 ff.; Hagg. ii. 7; Zech. xiv. 1 ff.; Mat. iii. 1 ff), or which would precede the messianic kingdom of the saints (Dan. vii.—xii.), as also expressions in later Jewish writings,* so analogous with our evangelical prediction, as to put it beyond question, that the description which it gives of the time of the Messiah’s advent is drawn from a circle of ideas which had long been current among the Jews.

Another question is, whether the principal feature in the picture before us, the destruction of the temple and the devastation of Jerusalem, as introductory to the coming of the Messiah, may also be shown to have made part of the popular conception in the time of Jesus. In Jewish writings we find the notion, that the birth of the Messiah would coincide with the destruction of the sanctuary :but this idea was obviously first formed after the fall of the temple, in order that a fountain of consolation might spring out of the lowest depth of misery. Josephus finds in Daniel, together with what relates to Antiochus, a prophecy of the annihilation of the Jewish state by the Romans :but as this is not the primary object in any of the visions in Daniel, Josephus might first make this interpretation after the issue, in which case it would prove nothing as to the time of Jesus. Nevertheless, it is conceivable, that already in the time of Jesus, the Jews might attribute to the prophecies of Daniel a reference to events yet future, although these prophecies in fact related to a far earlier period; and they might do so on the same grounds as those on which the Christians of the present age still look forward to the full realization of Matt. xxiv. and xxv. As immediately after the fall of the kingdom made of iron mixed with clay, and of the horn that speaks blasphemies and makes war against the saints, the coming of the Son of man in the clouds, and the commencement of the everlasting kingdom of the saints, is prophesied, while this result had not by any means succeeded the defeat of Antiochus: there was an inducement still to look to the future, not only for the heavenly kingdom, but also, since they were made immediately to precede it, for the calamities caused by the kingdom

* Vid. Schöttgen, 2, s. 509 ff. ; Bertholdt, § 13; Schmidt, Biblioth. I, s. 24 ff.

† Vid. Schöttgen, 2, s. 525 f.

‡ Antiq. X. xi. 7. After having interpreted the little horn of Antiochus, he briefly adds: In the very same manner Daniel also wrote concerning the government of the Romans, and that our country should be made desolate by them. He doubtless supposed that the fourth, iron monarchy, Dan. ii. 40, represented the Romans, since, besides attributing it to a dominion over all the earth, he explains its destruction by the stone as somehing still future, Ant. X. x. 4 : Daniel did also declare the meaning of the stone to theKing but 1 donot think proper to relate it, since I have only undertaken to describe things past or things present, out not things that are future. Now Daniel ii. 44 interprets the stone to mean the heavenly kingdom, which would destroy the iron one, but would itself endure for ever,—a messianic particular, on which Josephus does not choose to dilate. But that, correctly interpreted, the iron legs of the image signify the Macedonian empire, and the feet of iron mixed with clay, the Syrian empire which sprang out of the Macedonian, see De Wette, Einleit. in das N. T., § 254


of iron and clay; among which calamities, by analogy with what was predicted of the horn, the desecration of the temple was conspicuous. But while the prophecy in Daniel includes only the desecration of the temple and the interruption of the worship, together with (the partial * ) destruction of the city: in the discourse before us complete destruction is predicted to the temple—and likewise to the city, not merely in Luke, where the expressions are very marked, but undoubtedly in the two other Evangelists also, as appears to be indicated by the exhortation to hasty flight from the city ;—which prediction of total destruction, as it is not contained in the type, can apparently have been gathered only from the result. But in the first place, the description in Daniel with the expressions [Heb. letters] shamem and [Heb. letters] hishkhiyth (ix. 26 f., xii. 11), which the LXX. translates by erhmwsiV, desolation, and diafqeirw, I destroy, may easily be also understood of a total destruction; and secondly, if once, in connexion with the sins of the nation, the temple and city had been destroyed and the people carried away captive, every enthusiastic Israelite, to whom the religious and moral condition of his fellow-countrymen appeared corrupt and irremediable, might thenceforth expect and predict a repetition of that former judgment. According to this, even those particulars in which, as we have seen in the foregoing section, Luke surpasses his fellow-narrators in definiteness, are not of a kind to oblige us to suppose, either a supernatural foreknowledge, or a vaticinium post eventum: on the contrary, all may be explained by a close consideration of what is narrated concerning the first destruction of Jerusalem in 2 Kings xxv.; 2 Chron. xxxvi.; and Jer. XXXIX. 52.

There is only one point which Jesus, as the author of this discourse, could not have gathered from any types, but must have drawn entirely from himself: namely, the declaration that the catastrophe which he described would arrive within the present generation. This prediction we must hesitate to derive from a supernatural knowledge, for the reason, already noticed, that it is only half fulfilled : while the other side of the fact, the striking fulfilment of at least the one half of the prophecy, might incline us to distrust the supposition of a merely natural calculation, and to regard this determination of time as a feature introduced into the discourse of Jesus after the issue. Meanwhile, it is clear from the passages cited at the conclusion of the last section, that the apostles themselves expected the return of Christ to take place within their lifetime; and it is not improbable that Jesus also believed that this event, together with the ruin of the city and temple, which according to Daniel was to precede it, was very near at hand. The more general part of the expectation, namely, the appearing at some future time in the clouds of heaven, to awake the dead, to sit in judgment, and to found an everlasting kingdom, would necessarily, from a consideration of Daniel, where such a coming is ascribed to the Son of man, be contemplated by Jesus as a part of his own destiny, so soon as he held

* Vid. Joseph., Antiq. xii. v.


himself to be the Messiah; while, with regard to the time, it was natural that he should not conceive a very long interval as destined to elapse between his first messianic coming in humiliation, and his second, in glory.

One objection to the genuineness of the synoptical discourses on the second advent, is yet in reserve; it has, however, less weight in our point of view than in that of the prevalent criticism of the gospels. This objection is derived from the absence of any detailed description of the second advent of Jesus in the Gospel of John. * It is true that the fundamental elements of the doctrine of Christ’s return are plainly discoverable in the fourth gospel also.† Jesus therein ascribes to himself the offices of the future judgment, and the awaking of the dead (John v. 22—30); which last is not indeed numbered among the concomitants of the advent of Christ in the synoptical gospels, but not seldom appears in that connexion elsewhere in the New Testament (e.g. I Cor. xv. 23; I Thess. iv. 16). When Jesus, in the fourth gospel, sometimes denies that he is come into the world for judgment (iii. 27, viii. 15, xii. 47), this refers only to his first presence on earth, and is limited by opposite declarations, in which he asserts that he is come into the world for judgment (ix. 39, comp. viii. i6), to the sense that the object of his mission is not to condemn but to save, and that his judgment is not individual or partial; that it consists, not in an authoritative sentence proceeding subjectively from himself, but in an objective act proceeding from the intrinsic tendency of things, a doctrine which is significantly expressed in the declaration, that him who hears his word without believing he judges not, but the word, which he has spoken, shall judge him in the last day (o logoV on elalhsa, krinei auton en th escath hmera, xii 48). Further, when the Jesus of John’s gospel says of the believer: ou krinetai, he is not judged, eiV krisin ouk ercetai, he shall not come into judgment (iii. i8, v. 24), this is to be understood of a judgment with a condemnatory issue; when on the contrary, it is said of the unbeliever: hdh kekritai, he is judged already (iii. i8), this only means that the assigning of the merited lot to each is not reserved until the future judgment at the end of all things, since each one iii his inward disposition bears within himself the fate which is his due. This does not exclude a future solemn act of judgment, wherein that which has at present only a latent existence will be made matter of awful revelation; for in the very passage last quoted we find the consignment to condemnation, and elsewhere the awarding of future blessedness (v. 28 f., vi. 39 f., 54) associated with the last day and the resurrection.

In like manner, Jesus says in Luke also, in the same connexion in which he describes his return as a still future, external catastrophe, xvii. 20 f. The kingdom of God cometh not with observation;

* VicI. Hase. L. J., § 130.

† The passages bearing on this subject are collected and explained in Schott, ~Commentarius, etc., p. 364 ff. Comp. Lücke, in loc. and Weizel, urchristl. Unsterblichkeitslehre, in the Theol. Studien, 1836, s. 626 ff.


neither shall they say, lo here! or, lo there! for behold the kingdom of God is within you. A certain interpretation of the words uttered by the Jesus of John’s gospel, supposes him even to intimate that his return was not far distant. The expressions already mentioned in the farewell discourses, in which Jesus promises his disciples not to leave them comfortless, but, after having gone to the Father, shortly (xvi. i6) to come again to them (xiv. 3, 18), are not seldom understood of the return of Christ at the last day; * but when we hear Jesus say of this same return, that he will therein reveal himself only to his disciples, and not to the world (xiv. 19, comp. 22), it is impossible to think of it as the return to judgment, in which Jesus conceived that he should reveal himself to good and bad without distinction. There is a particularly enigmatical allusion to the coming of Christ in the appendix to the fourth gospel, chap. xxi. On the question of Peter as to what will become of the apostle John, Jesus here replies, if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? (v. 22) whence, as it is added, the Christians inferred that John would not die, since they supposed the coming (ercesqai) here spoken of; to be the final return of Christ, in which those who witnessed it were to be changed, without tasting death (i Cor. xv. 51). But, adds the author correctively, Jesus did not say, the disciple would not die, but only, if he willed that he should tarry till he came, what was that to Peter? Hereby the Evangelist may have intended to rectify the inference in two ways. Either it appeared to him erroneous to identify the remaining until Jesus came, with not dying, i.e. to take the coming of which Jesus here spoke for the last, which would put an end to death; and in that case he must have understood by it an invisible coming of Christ, possibly in the destruction of Jerusalemor, he held it erroneous that what Jesus had only said hypothetically—even if he willed the given case, that was no concern of Peter’s—should be understood categorically, as if such had really been the will of Jesus; in which case the ercomai would retain its customary sense.

If, according to this, all the main features of the doctrine of the second advent are put into the mouth of Jesus in the fourth gospel also, still we nowhere find anything of the detailed, graphic description of the external event, which we read in the synoptical gospels. This relation between the two representations, creates no slight difficulty on the ordinary view of the origin of the gospels, and especially that of the fourth. If Jesus really spoke of his return so fully and solemnly as the synoptists represent him to have done, and treated of the right knowledge and observation of the signs as something of the highest importance ; it is inconceivable that the author of the fourth gospel could pass over all this, if he were an immediate disciple of Jesus. The usual mode of accounting for such an omission, by the supposition that he believed this part of the teaching

* Vid. Tholuck, in loc.

† Comp. Tholuck, ut sup.

‡ Thus Lücke, and also Tholuck, in loc.; Schott, p. 409.


of Jesus to be sufficiently known from the synoptical gospels, or from oral tradition, is the more inadequate here in proportion as all which bears a prophetic character, especially when relating to events at once so much longed for and dreaded, is exposed to misinterpretation; as we may see from the rectification just noticed, which the author of John xxi. found it necessary to apply to the opinion of his contemporaries concerning the promise given by Jesus to John. Thus, in the present case, an explanatory word would have been highly seasonable and useful, especially as the representation of the first gospel, which made the end of all things follow immediately on the destruction of Jerusalem, must be the more an occasion of doubt and offence the nearer the latter event came, and in a still greater degree when it was past. And who was more capable of affording such enlightenment than the favourite disciple, particularly if, according to Mark xiii. 3, he was the only Evangelist who had been present at the discourse of Jesus on this subject? Hence, here again, a special reason for his silence is sought in the alleged destination of his gospel for non-judaical, idealizing Gnostics, whose point of view those descriptions would not have suited, and were therefore omitted.* But precisely in relation to such readers, it would have been a culpable compliance, a confirmation in their idealizing tendency, had John, out of deference to them, suppressed the real side of the return of Christ. The apostle must rather have withstood the propensity of these people to evaporate the external, historical part of Christianity, by giving due prominence to it; as, in his epistle, in opposition to their Docetism. he lays stress on the corporeality of Jesus: so, in opposition to their idealism, he must have been especially assiduous to exhibit in the return of Christ the external facts by which it would be signalized. Instead of this, he himself speaks nearly like a Gnostic, and constantly aims, in relation to the return of Christ, to resolve the external and the future into the internal and the present. Hence there is not so much exaggeration, as Olshausen supposes, in the opinion of Fleck, that the representation of the doctrine of Jesus concerning his return in the synoptical gospels, and that given in the fourth, exclude each otherfor if the author of the fourth gospel be an apostle, the discourses on the second advent which the three first Evangelists attribute to Jesus, cannot have been so delivered by him, and vice versa. We, however, as we have said, cannot avail ourselves of this argument, having long renounced the pre-supposition that the fourth gospel had an apostolic origin. But, on our point of view, we can fully explain the relation which the representation of the fourth gospel bears to that of the synoptists. In Palestine, where the tradition recorded by the three first gospels was formed, the doctrine of a solemn advent of the Messiah which was there prevalent, and which Jesus embraced, was received in its whole breadth into the Christian belief: whereas in the Hellenistic-theosophic circle in which the fourth

* Olshausen, i, s. 870.

† Fleck, de regno divino, p. 483.


gospel arose, this idea was divested of its material envelopment, and the return of Christ became the ambiguous medium between a real and an ideal, a present and a future event, which it appears in the fourth gospel.


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