gospel had ?not infrequently composed mere fables, knowing them to be mere fictions.? The animating spirit of both the old view and the new is the same. Strauss says: ?We know with certainty what Jesus was not and what he has not done, namely, nothing superhuman and supernatural.? ?No gospel can claim that degree of historic credibility that would be required in order to make us debase our reason to the point of believing in miracles.? He calls the resurrection of Christ ? ein weltgeschichtlicher Humbug .? ?If the gospels are really historical documents, we cannot exclude miracle from the life story of Jesus; ?see Strauss, Life of Jesus, 17; New Life of Jesus, 1: preface, xii. Vatke, Einleitung in A.T., 210, 211, distinguishes the myth from the saga or legend: The criterion of the pure myth is that the experience is impossible, while the saga is a tradition of remote antiquity; the myth has in it the element only of belief, the saga has in it an element of history. Sabatier, Philos. Religion, 37 ? ?A myth is false in appearance only. The divine Spirit can avail himself of the fictions of poetry as well as of logical reasoning. When the heart was pure, the veils of fable always allowed the face of truth to shine through and does not childhood run on into maturity and old age??
It is very certain that childlike love of truth was not the animating spirit of Strauss. On the contrary, his spirit was that of remorseless criticism and of uncompromising hostility to the supernatural. It has been well said that he gathered up all the previous objections of skeptics to the gospel narrative and hurled them in one mass, just as if some Sadducee at the time of Jesus? trial had put all the taunts and gibes, all the buffetings and insults, all the shame and spitting, into one blow delivered straight into the face of the Redeemer. An octogenarian and saintly German lady said unsuspectingly that ?somehow she never could get interested? in Strauss?s Leben Jesu, which her skeptical son had given her for religious reading. The work was almost altogether destructive, only the last chapter suggesting Strauss?s own view of what Jesus was.
If Luther?s dictum is true that ?the heart is the best theologian,? Strauss must be regarded as destitute of the main qualification for his task. Encyclopedia Britannica, 22 592 ? ?Strauss?s mind was almost exclusively analytical and critical, without depth of religious feeling, or philosophical penetration, or historical sympathy. His work was rarely constructive and, save when he was dealing with a kindred spirit, he failed as a historian, biographer, and critic, strikingly illustrating Goethe?s profoundly true principle that loving sympathy is essential for productive criticism.? Pfleiderer, Strauss?s Life of Jesus, xix ? ?Strauss showed that the church formed the mythical traditions about Jesus out of its faith in him as the Messiah; but he did not show how the church came by the
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