(I give here a passage from my Leben ttnd Wirlcen Jcsu relevant to this subject, touched upon on p. 176.)
Jesus begins his work on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and the Gospels present us with its main features unmistakably. He preaches in the synagogues, in the houses of his friends, on every sort of occasion at table and under the open sky, now sojourning in one spot, now journeying from place to place. His fame is spread abroad especially by means of the mysterious gift of healing which is active in him.
What are we to say of this ? The Jesus who works the miracles in the Synoptic narrative is, as we saw above, not the wonderworker par excellence, of whom we read in St. John's Gospel or whom the traditional view presents to us. But even in those passages which can be least impugned by criticism there is something incommensurable with our rational standards in the setting in which we see his figure, and this gift of healing is an example of it. The narratives of these acts of healing stand out with such an assured and plain simplicity, with a clarity so wellnigh disconcerting, that they c.iimot be the fabrications of legend. We have only to read the sober account—it is almost like an official report —of the healing of Peter's wife's mother (Mark i. 29 31), or that of the healing of the man with the palsy (Mark ii. 1 12), with its concreteness of detail. And it is the same with many other cases. The story of the centurion of Capernaum, and Jesus' astonished wonder at the faith of this Gentile ; the story of the woman of Canaan, and of how Jesus, at first reluctant, com^s to be inwardly won over; this is not the way of imagination and legend. Moreover, there is the fact that we encounter exactly similar occurrences among the early Christian communities, liven if we are ready to impugn the accounts of Jesus's miracles of healing in the Gospels, we cannot impugn the accounts in the Pauline epistles of the same thing as happening among the Corinthians, Galatians, and Komans, and to Paul himself. Here they stand in the lull light of history and with the fullest testimony of history. It is quite evident that both Paul and the first Christian communities were firmly convinced that they had the 'charismata ', the 'gifts', among them. St. Paul gives, in 1 Cor. xii. 4-11, a formal catalogue of these, in which the gifts of healing the sick and of the exercise of super-normal physical power and other abnormal psychical gifts take their place alongside the gifts of tongues and prophecy. No doubt he says (1 Cor. xiii) that something is higher and more precious than all 'gifts', namely, the simple Christian virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love, ami Love 'the greatest among these'. But it is implied thereby that those other gifts too are a reality and a present possession. He has them in himself and frequently exercises them, and in every Christian congregation they make their appearance. In fact we have sure historical warrant for holding that 'gifts' of this kind v\ere in evidence for a long timn beyond the borders of the early Church—just as, for that matter, we have similar warrant for recognizing tiiat analogous phenomena have been since observed in oth<, than Christian surroundings. Will this mysterious region ono day be clearly revealed to us? We can at any rate say this: that our procedure is very uncritical if we propose to rule it out as non-existent simply because it does not square with our cum nt conceptions of ' agreement with the natural order '.
Now the fewer the preconceptions which w u bring to our reading of the narrative-material of the Gospels, as reviewed and guaranteed by a thorough criticism, the stronger becomes the impression that in Jesus these powers were present with a rare potency. We have in a sense a key to the matter in the peculiar predisposition and endowment for their calling which marked the great prophets of the Old Testament. What characterized them really was not omniscience and not the capacity of predicting a future many hundred years distant: it was beyond question in many cases a unique power of forefeeling and foreboding impending supernormal occurrences that threatened to break in upon the natural course of events. This gift we have held to be not something 'supernatural' and miraculous in the old sense of the word, i. e. something that falls altogether outside all analogies of what happens elsewhere ; on the contrary, analogies in plenty for this extraordinary prophetic gift are to be found in the phenomena of clairvoyance, presentiment, second-sight, &c. Now it is possible that the gift of healing of Jesus which appears so puzzling was 'merely' a heightened and intense form of capacities which lie dormant in human nature in general. But for a manifestation of the influence exerted by the psychical upon the physical we need in fact go no farther than the power of our will to move our body —the power, that is, of a spiritual cause to bring about a mechanical effect. There assuredly is an absolutely insoluble riddle, and it is only the fact that we have grown so used to it that prevents it from seeming a ' miracle' to us. But, this granted, who can pronounce beforehand what intenser and heightened manifestations of this power may not be possible ? Who can presume to determine what direct results a will may not achieve which, wholly concentrated and at one with itself, rests altogether upon God ? We have had in recent years many indications of parallels and analogies to the miraculous power of Jesus in the newly-discovered methods of suggestion and hypnotism, in telepathy, 'action at a distance', and (in my opinion) animal magnetism. All these suppositions may be accepted without misgiving, only with this addition, that what Jesus did passed gradually far beyond anything known to us in these fields; and moreover, that Jesus' whole power grew out of his consciousness of his mission, and his will, unusually strong as it was, drew its strength only from his religious and moral consciousness, from the fact that he was rooted and grounded in God.
If it be granted that Jesus really had an abnormal power in action, it is evident that this very fact would stimulate rumour and imagination to exaggeration and embellishment and invention of miraculous incident. It is evident that we may quite properly approach the miracle narratives with a certain expectation of finding such features in them ; and that it will not do, In face of some sheer prodigy, to rest content with 1 the mysterious gift' as a solution to every diilicilty. Thus a raising from the dead, as that of Lazarus, or a changing of water into wine (both stories only in St. John), is excluded from the region of the historically conceivable and admissible. And there is in the Synoptists also matter enough that passes these limits, e. g. the walking on the sea, the feeding of the five thousand, the tale of the Gadarene swine. When such stories have been deducted, then practically all that is left in the Synoptic narrative are cases of healing, though of course some of these are of an astonishing character. There are also two cases of raiding from the dead— that of Jairus's daughter and that of the young man of Nain. Criticism will be inclined to reject these. It must, however, be granted that there is a real difference between these stories anil that in St. John of the raising of Lazarus. Jairus's daughter had not lain three days in the grave, like Lazarus ; she had only lost consciousness a short time before the miracle. Where is the margin that divides complete death from the last faint glow of the spark of life, very likely already passed into unconsciousness? May not he who by his will had power to restore a consciousness confused by madness have had also the power to arrest a consciousness just vanishing over the borders of life, and even awaken again in the body one that has but just vanished ? Here the account is strikingly concrete. Even the very words Jesus uses to awaken the girl as uttered in Aramaic—'Talitha Cumi' —are still given in the Aramaic form by the Greek narrator. There is nothing grandiose or theatrical, as is customarily the case with a miracle designed for display. Jesus only admits the most intimate even of his disciples, and the whole incident closes with the soberly practical injunction to give the newly restored child food, and with tho direct prohibition to talk further about the event. Wo have only to compare with this the raising of Laz.'rus ; here is tho exact opposite, a genuine miracle of display. The wonder worker designedly delays his arrival, so that a miracle becomes necessary ; the whole proceeding, with its solemn mise en-scene, takes place in public, and is accompanied by a prayer, which is at the same time a sort of address to the surrounding spectators. The act is to be performed expressly ' because of the people which stand byThis is how a miracle-narrative looks when it is the offspring of literary art. The raisings from the dead given in St. Hark are quite other than this, and consequently a circumspect criticism may perhaps in their case suspend judgement.
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