Synopsis of Schweitzer’s QHJ [Ch. 1, The Problem]

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Irish1975
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Synopsis of Schweitzer’s QHJ [Ch. 1, The Problem]

Post by Irish1975 »

Albert Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus (1st ed., tr. Montgomery, 1910) is available here on Early Christian Writings.

In the interest of promoting close study and discussion of this always relevant book, I will attempt a synopsis of each chapter. Feedback, assistance, and clarification are welcome.

Knowing no German, I often adhere closely, but not entirely, to the exact language of the English text, especially on controversial points (eg, “the Gospel writers were simple Christians without literary gift”). At other places, I use my own words to make the point concise.


Chapter I: The Problem

1. The critical investigation of the life of Jesus is a great achievement of modern German theology (1778-1901), and the most vital thing in world history.
2. The “real truth” of this history is something we experience within ourselves.
3. This history is not yet finished, but moves towards an unknown future goal.
4. Jesus destroyed the world into which he was born.
5. The idea of Jesus as historical could not have been introduced into the faith of earliest Christianity without destroying its hope in the eschaton/parousia, and therefore was rightly excluded from it—hence the absolute indifference of Paul to the life of Jesus.
6. Earliest Christianity preserved only isolated sayings, a few miracles, and the doctrine of Jesus’ death and resurrection; therefore we have only Gospels, not biographies of Jesus; we possess the idea and the person, but with minimal information about his concrete historical situation. And that’s a good thing.
7. After the demise of hope in the eschaton, Gnosticism, Logos theology, and Greek theology caused indifference to Jesus’ historical particularity.
8. The historical Jesus, concealed within the synoptic Gospels, survived total oblivion by good fortune, despite the Church’s embrace of the 4th Gospel. The Chalcedonian doctrine of the dual nature of Jesus Christ both closed off Jesus’ historical particularity until well after the Reformation, and preserved the idea of it for modern investigation.
9. It was necessary for moderns to destroy the Church’s dogma of Jesus Christ before anyone could grasp the thought of the historical Jesus’ existence. Thus the historical investigation of the life of Jesus arose, not from disinterested historical research, but from the struggle of modern Christians against the tyranny of dogma.
10. The modern biographies of Jesus written in the 19th century both reflect and are vitiated by the individuality and historical-cultural concerns of each biographer. Each biographer’s hate and love were in fact necessary conditions for the task. The most historically insightful investigators—Reimarus, Strauss, Bauer—were insightful because of their hate.
11. The investigators and biographers who acted from love waged a painful struggle between faith and honesty.
12. The investigation of the life of Jesus is not the concern of professional history, but of theology. The standards, canons, and methods of historical research are insufficient for the task; therefore historical theology must create its own methods for itself.
13. The proper method for such theological investigation into the life of Jesus is continuous experimentation, guided ultimately by intuition.
14. The sources for the life of Jesus are limited but not unworkable, and compare favorably with those of any other character of antiquity. Our access to Jesus is improved by the fact that the Gospel writers were simple Christians without literary gift.
15. Five problems stand out in the investigation of the life of Jesus—
  • The synoptic accounts are irreconcilable with the 4th Gospel.
  • All the Gospels lack order and inner connection concerning the facts of Jesus’ life; their narratives are plagued by yawning gaps, and contain only collections of anecdotes.
  • The sources confine themselves to outward facts, and give no hint of the character of Jesus’ self-consciousness.
  • Each Gospel presents us with the contradiction that Jesus both felt himself to be the Messiah, and never publicly claimed to be the Messiah. Only relentless experimentation with hypotheses can hope to yield a valuable conclusion as to whether Jesus actually claimed to be the Messiah, or was merely believed to have been the Messiah by the earliest Christians.
  • Our information about the nature of Jewish thought in Jesus’ time is unsatisfactory. The Hebrew prophetic, Jewish apocalyptic, and post-Pauline Christian outlines of what it would have meant to await the Messiah are individually meagre and collectively irreconcilable. It cannot be known whether expectation of the Messiah was generally current in the 1st century, or merely the faith of a sect. And even if we did have a theory of the hoped for messiah in Jesus’ time, it would be not be terribly significant given our ignorance of what Jesus thought about himself. We have no psychology of the Messiah.
16. The history of investigation of the life of Jesus is a scene of boundless confusion. Many experiments are unwittingly taken up after already having failed in a previous era. Progress is limited and halting.
17. Schweitzer’s narrative follows a meandering course, guided more by the clarification of problems than by specific reconstructions of historical data, all of which are in the end fanciful.
18. Miracles were the central problem until Strauss (1835), who reduced them to mythical elements in the sources. Historical intelligibility was impossible so long as 19th century biographers tried to harmonize the 4th Gospel with the synoptics. The significance of eschatology for the thought of Jesus was glimpsed by Reimarus, but forgotten until Johannes Weiss.
19. The question at time of writing is whether one can explain the contradiction between Jesus’ non-Messianic words and actions, and his Messianic self-consciousness, by means of a conception of his Messianic belief which will make it appear that he could not have acted otherwise than as the Evangelists describe. Was Jesus merely a prophet misrepresented by the early church, or did he hold himself to be the Messiah?
20. The history of investigation into Jesus’ life must be understood before new contributions can be evaluated; but this history was mostly neglected until the present study.
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Re: Synopsis of Schweitzer’s QHJ [Ch. 1, The Problem]

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Among the criticisms raised against mythicism by Schweitzer, I remember distinctly that he considered William Benjamin Smith (author of Ecce Deus) a superior author than Arthur Drews, for the only fact that the first specified more precisely than the second the reasons behind the first euhemerizer ("Mark").

In this sense, even if I don't share the judgement (Arthur Drews being really the best Mythicist of the past), I realize that the absence of reasons behind not the euhemerizer (as per Schweitzer), but behind Paul, is the only vulnus of the entire Christ Myth Theory.

I am assuming here that the best Christ Myth Theory is that held by these authors.

Really, the epistle to Galatians placed before the 70 CE seems to be an epistle suspended on the nothing (in particular, the Pillars appear as nebulous figures), and given that nothing of background, at least the historicist paradigm may justify the reasons behind Paul's actions (his will to deceive), better than mythicism.

By placing the epistle to Galatians after the 70 CE (but always in first century CE), at contrary, welcome is given to:
  • a precise background (the First Jewish Rebellion as described by Josephus: the Pillars being some Zealot leaders active during the Revolt and mentioned by Josephus);
  • precise reasons behind Paul.
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Re: Synopsis of Schweitzer’s QHJ [Ch. 1, The Problem]

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Irish1975 wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 7:22 am Chapter I: The Problem

1. The critical investigation of the life of Jesus is a great achievement of modern German theology (1778-1901), and the most vital thing in world history.
2. The “real truth” of this history is something we experience within ourselves.
3. This history is not yet finished, but moves towards an unknown future goal.
4. Jesus destroyed the world into which he was born.
5. The idea of Jesus as historical could not have been introduced into the faith of earliest Christianity without destroying its hope in the eschaton/parousia, and therefore was rightly excluded from it—hence the absolute indifference of Paul to the life of Jesus.
6. Earliest Christianity preserved only isolated sayings, a few miracles, and the doctrine of Jesus’ death and resurrection; therefore we have only Gospels, not biographies of Jesus; we possess the idea and the person, but with minimal information about his concrete historical situation. And that’s a good thing.
7. After the demise of hope in the eschaton, Gnosticism, Logos theology, and Greek theology caused indifference to Jesus’ historical particularity.
8. The historical Jesus, concealed within the synoptic Gospels, survived total oblivion by good fortune, despite the Church’s embrace of the 4th Gospel. The Chalcedonian doctrine of the dual nature of Jesus Christ both closed off Jesus’ historical particularity until well after the Reformation, and preserved the idea of it for modern investigation.
9. It was necessary for moderns to destroy the Church’s dogma of Jesus Christ before anyone could grasp the thought of the historical Jesus’ existence. Thus the historical investigation of the life of Jesus arose, not from disinterested historical research, but from the struggle of modern Christians against the tyranny of dogma.
10. The modern biographies of Jesus written in the 19th century both reflect and are vitiated by the individuality and historical-cultural concerns of each biographer. Each biographer’s hate and love were in fact necessary conditions for the task. The most historically insightful investigators—Reimarus, Strauss, Bauer—were insightful because of their hate.
11. The investigators and biographers who acted from love waged a painful struggle between faith and honesty.
12. The investigation of the life of Jesus is not the concern of professional history, but of theology. The standards, canons, and methods of historical research are insufficient for the task; therefore historical theology must create its own methods for itself.
13. The proper method for such theological investigation into the life of Jesus is continuous experimentation, guided ultimately by intuition.
14. The sources for the life of Jesus are limited but not unworkable, and compare favorably with those of any other character of antiquity. Our access to Jesus is improved by the fact that the Gospel writers were simple Christians without literary gift.
15. Five problems stand out in the investigation of the life of Jesus—
  • The synoptic accounts are irreconcilable with the 4th Gospel.
  • All the Gospels lack order and inner connection concerning the facts of Jesus’ life; their narratives are plagued by yawning gaps, and contain only collections of anecdotes.
  • The sources confine themselves to outward facts, and give no hint of the character of Jesus’ self-consciousness.
  • Each Gospel presents us with the contradiction that Jesus both felt himself to be the Messiah, and never publicly claimed to be the Messiah. Only relentless experimentation with hypotheses can hope to yield a valuable conclusion as to whether Jesus actually claimed to be the Messiah, or was merely believed to have been the Messiah by the earliest Christians.
  • Our information about the nature of Jewish thought in Jesus’ time is unsatisfactory. The Hebrew prophetic, Jewish apocalyptic, and post-Pauline Christian outlines of what it would have meant to await the Messiah are individually meagre and collectively irreconcilable. It cannot be known whether expectation of the Messiah was generally current in the 1st century, or merely the faith of a sect. And even if we did have a theory of the hoped for messiah in Jesus’ time, it would be not be terribly significant given our ignorance of what Jesus thought about himself. We have no psychology of the Messiah.
16. The history of investigation of the life of Jesus is a scene of boundless confusion. Many experiments are unwittingly taken up after already having failed in a previous era. Progress is limited and halting.
17. Schweitzer’s narrative follows a meandering course, guided more by the clarification of problems than by specific reconstructions of historical data, all of which are in the end fanciful.
18. Miracles were the central problem until Strauss (1835), who reduced them to mythical elements in the sources. Historical intelligibility was impossible so long as 19th century biographers tried to harmonize the 4th Gospel with the synoptics. The significance of eschatology for the thought of Jesus was glimpsed by Reimarus, but forgotten until Johannes Weiss.
19. The question at time of writing is whether one can explain the contradiction between Jesus’ non-Messianic words and actions, and his Messianic self-consciousness, by means of a conception of his Messianic belief which will make it appear that he could not have acted otherwise than as the Evangelists describe. Was Jesus merely a prophet misrepresented by the early church, or did he hold himself to be the Messiah?
20. The history of investigation into Jesus’ life must be understood before new contributions can be evaluated; but this history was mostly neglected until the present study.
Observations—
  • It is immediately clear that Schweitzer is writing a work of theology, i.e., from the perspective of his own religious consciousness in 1906 Europe. His references to “love” and “hate” (10 and 11) as motives for research express a lingering notion of loyalty to “the faith” of historical Christianity. By contrast, today’s academic Jesus scholars make the far bolder claim to be writing religiously unbiased history.
  • Therefore, Schweitzer does not himself stay clear of the pit into which he famously accuses the 19th century biographers of Jesus of so often falling—pouring one’s own individuality and historical-cultural concerns into the work of researching Jesus. Despite his great erudition, he never claims otherwise. But the contradictions that arise between his insight into his own (subjective) religious culture and his insight into the (objective) man of the past become a recurring theme and problem throughout the book.
  • Likewise, At 9, 12, and 13 he explicitly denies that “professional” or ordinary historical research—as it existed in his day—could ever achieve *results* in the study of the life of Jesus. None of the Gospels is a reliable or plausible history of Jesus, and only exceptional intuition and experimentation can hope to unearth any legitimate knowledge of the man behind the stories.
  • Schweitzer confesses that historical theology must create its own methods for itself. We who read this book might ask whether Jesus questing today is still hampered or vitiated by ad hoc methodology, and perhaps not justified in claiming the status of objective/secular/professional history.
  • Schweitzer’s five big questions represent only a small subset of the many questions that arise over the 1788-1901 history that he surveys. They are framed in order to prepare the reader specifically for AS’s own “thorough-going eschatology” account of the historical Jesus, as the latter chapters of the book will make clear. It is striking that these five questions are skeptically framed, against which his own theory will attempt something more positive. For example, whereas he denies that the Gospels tell us anything about the character of Jesus’ self-consciousness, his own theory will argue that from the Gospels of Matthew and Mark in particular, we can extract sound conclusions about the mind of Jesus as “thorough-going eschatologist.”
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Re: Synopsis of Schweitzer’s QHJ [Ch. 1, The Problem]

Post by Ken Olson »

Irish1975 wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 6:29 am
  • Schweitzer confesses that historical theology must create its own methods for itself. We who read this book might ask whether Jesus questing today is still hampered or vitiated by ad hoc methodology, and perhaps not justified in claiming the status of objective/secular/professional history.
Irish 1975,

I appreciate the synopsis of chapter 1 and the critical questions you raise. Schweitzer is one of those classic works that repays re-reading.

It seems that there are two different things going on here, (1) whether Jesus questing can claim the status of objective/secular/professional history, and (2), whether it ought even to aspire to be or whether historical theology ought to have its own methods.

What concerns me about question (2) is whether historical theology is a method that's broadly applicable or a particularly Christian endeavor and, perhaps, one that favors Christian claims. How would you guard against that? Could we apply the methods to the major figures of other religious traditions, like Mohammed, Buddha, Joseph Smith, etc.?

In the first volume of John Meier's A Marginal Jew, he proposes the fiction of an "unpapal conclave" consisting of a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew and an agnostic, and he aims a to coming up with an historical Jesus to which (he imagines) all of them could assent. I think Meier let go of the particularly supernatural claims of Christianity, but I think he greatly underestimated the objections many non-Christians and some Christians to treating the not-specifically supernatural claims of the gospels (or about Jesus in general) as history.

People tend to be protective of their own traditions. I remember reading Robert Stein's article on the criteria of historicity (I could dig up the reference if I had to) and noticing that while he had several criteria by which the historical claims of the New Testament could be confirmed, but none by with any of them could be disconfirmed. Another case, from personal experience in my year at the University of Birmingham, there was a problem in the Department of Theology (I think it was renamed to include religion while I was there) that the theology majors were supposed to take courses in more than just their own tradition. The Islamic studies professors were scandalized when students tried to apply the methods (i.e., the historical critical method) taught in the Christian and Jewish studies classes to the Quran and Mohammed. They thought the methods were simply inappropriate to apply to Muslim traditions. In my admittedly limited experience, this was a Birmingham thing, the American universities with which I'm familiar, this problem exists, but to a much lesser extent.
  • Schweitzer’s five big questions represent only a small subset of the many questions that arise over the 1788-1901 history that he surveys. They are framed in order to prepare the reader specifically for AS’s own “thorough-going eschatology” account of the historical Jesus, as the latter chapters of the book will make clear. It is striking that these five questions are skeptically framed, against which his own theory will attempt something more positive. For example, whereas he denies that the Gospels tell us anything about the character of Jesus’ self-consciousness, his own theory will argue that from the Gospels of Matthew and Mark in particular, we can extract sound conclusions about the mind of Jesus as “thorough-going eschatologist.”
IIRC Schweitzer places considerable emphasis on Matt 10.23:

When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

employing what would later come to be called the criterion of embarrassment. There I wonder if we have to share Schweitzer's understanding of hat verse to share his historical conclusions, and how many of us do share it today.

Best,

Ken
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Re: Synopsis of Schweitzer’s QHJ [Ch. 1, The Problem]

Post by Ben C. Smith »

Ken Olson wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 7:32 amI remember reading Robert Stein's article on the criteria of historicity (I could dig up the reference if I had to) and noticing that while he had several criteria by which the historical claims of the New Testament could be confirmed, but none by with any of them could be disconfirmed.
Years ago Michael Turton, on his website, had the opposite problem. He had a list of criteria by which claims could be disconfirmed but none by which they could be confirmed.
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Re: Synopsis of Schweitzer’s QHJ [Ch. 1, The Problem]

Post by Irish1975 »

Giuseppe wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 8:42 am Among the criticisms raised against mythicism by Schweitzer, I remember distinctly that he considered William Benjamin Smith (author of Ecce Deus) a superior author than Arthur Drews, for the only fact that the first specified more precisely than the second the reasons behind the first euhemerizer ("Mark").

In this sense, even if I don't share the judgement (Arthur Drews being really the best Mythicist of the past), I realize that the absence of reasons behind not the euhemerizer (as per Schweitzer), but behind Paul, is the only vulnus of the entire Christ Myth Theory.

I am assuming here that the best Christ Myth Theory is that held by these authors.

Really, the epistle to Galatians placed before the 70 CE seems to be an epistle suspended on the nothing (in particular, the Pillars appear as nebulous figures), and given that nothing of background, at least the historicist paradigm may justify the reasons behind Paul's actions (his will to deceive), better than mythicism.

By placing the epistle to Galatians after the 70 CE (but always in first century CE), at contrary, welcome is given to:
  • a precise background (the First Jewish Rebellion as described by Josephus: the Pillars being some Zealot leaders active during the Revolt and mentioned by Josephus);
  • precise reasons behind Paul.
Schweitzer’s discussion of Jesus’ historicity, of Drews and other mythicists of his era, which he added to QHJ in the 2nd edition of 1913, are not my immediate concern. I will get there eventually. The entire argument of the original book is my focus.

Both online and academic debate today between the two hostile camps of mythicists and historicists seem incoherent and stale. That is one motivation for this attempt at a deep dive into QHJ. It is the locus classicus for most or all of the essential issues, and yet people hardly examine its contents. (The pretense of Ehrman to be the rightful representative of Schweitzer’s outlook on HJ seems particularly empty, the more I study Schweitzer, but that’s an impression I’ll have to flesh out later.)

In a recent post on my blog, postchristianworld.com, I argued that Schweitzer (at least in the 1st edition!) was hardly the historicist that people generally think he was. Being a sketpic myself on the historical question, i.e. unconvinced by either historicist or mythicist accounts of Jesus worship and earliest Christianity and the genesis of the New Testament, I asserted that it is fallacious to conflate the following 5 propositions:

  • That Jesus of Nazareth existed has been an unshakeable presumption or axiom of Western, Judeo-Christian culture since the Council of Nicea (325 CE).
  • The Gospel portraits of Jesus of Nazareth are not credible narratives of real historical events.
  • Surviving historical data, including the New Testament scriptures, do not constitute credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth existed.
  • It is likely that Jesus never existed.
  • Jesus never existed, and Christianity originated thus and so.
These must be carefully distinguished. The negative case against “the” historical Jesus ought to be altogether separated from any positive theory (e.g. Carrier’s sky demon crucifixion theory) of Christian origins, and yet it rarely ever is. Bruno Bauer seems to have been the first denier of historicity who leapt with both feet into a murky Christ myth theory in his books on Paul and the Caesars. Unfortunately Bauer is not translated into English.
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Re: Synopsis of Schweitzer’s QHJ [Ch. 1, The Problem]

Post by Giuseppe »

Irish1975 wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 8:08 am my blog, postchristianworld.com,
real food for thought, thank you! :thumbup:

Irish1975 wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 8:08 am The negative case against “the” historical Jesus ought to be altogether separated from any positive theory (e.g. Carrier’s sky demon crucifixion theory) of Christian origins, and yet it rarely ever is. Bruno Bauer seems to have been the first denier of historicity who leapt with both feet into a murky Christ myth theory in his books on Paul and the Caesars. Unfortunately Bauer is not translated into English.
It would be interesting to develop better this your thought. Are you saying that it is possible to prove the premise that Jesus never existed and only later to prove to describe a reconstruction of the Origins? Is not better to attempt the contrary, instead ( = the plausibility of the reconstruction moves you to accept or reject the historical Jesus) ?
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Re: Synopsis of Schweitzer’s QHJ [Ch. 1, The Problem]

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Irish1975 wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 8:08 am .....The negative case against “the” historical Jesus ought to be altogether separated from any positive theory (e.g. Carrier’s sky demon crucifixion theory) of Christian origins, and yet it rarely ever is. Bruno Bauer seems to have been the first denier of historicity who leapt with both feet into a murky Christ myth theory in his books on Paul and the Caesars. Unfortunately Bauer is not translated into English.
Well said...thus two opposing camps and never the twain shall meet...

Carrier has, to my mind, taken the mythicist 'heavenly 'crucifixion' idea as far as it can go. He needs to backtrack.
And as for the Jesus historicists - they need to acknowledge they can't establish historicity for their JC - and look forward seeking greener pastures.
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Re: Synopsis of Schweitzer’s QHJ [Ch. 1, The Problem]

Post by Irish1975 »

Ken Olson wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 7:32 am I appreciate the synopsis of chapter 1 and the critical questions you raise. Schweitzer is one of those classic works that repays re-reading.
👍 Thanks.
It seems that there are two different things going on here, (1) whether Jesus questing can claim the status of objective/secular/professional history, and (2), whether it ought even to aspire to be or whether historical theology ought to have its own methods.
Yes. It is sometimes forgottten that Jesus scholars are generally, if not universally, professors of Religion, Religious Studies, or Christian Theology; in the mass market book industry, however, figures like Sanders or Ehrman come across, more or less explicitly, as “historians.”

Just to be extra clear about Schweitzer’s own position, here is the key graf:

The personal character of the study is not only due, however, to the fact that a personality can only be awakened to life by the touch of a personality; it lies in the essential nature of the problem itself. For the problem of the life of Jesus has no analogue in the field of history. No historical school has ever laid down canons for the investigation of this problem, no professional historian has ever lent his aid to theology in dealing with it. Every ordinary method of historical investigation proves inadequate to the complexity of the conditions. The standards of ordinary historical science are here inadequate, its methods not immediately applicable. The historical study of the life of Jesus has had to create its own methods for itself. In the constant succession of unsuccessful attempts, five or six problems have emerged side by side which together constitute the fundamental problem. There is, however, no direct method of solving the problem in its complexity; all that can be done is to experiment continuously, starting from definite assumptions; and in this experimentation the guiding principle must ultimately rest upon historical intuition.

What concerns me about question (2) is whether historical theology is a method that's broadly applicable or a particularly Christian endeavor and, perhaps, one that favors Christian claims. How would you guard against that? Could we apply the methods to the major figures of other religious traditions, like Mohammed, Buddha, Joseph Smith, etc.?
Of the traditions you mentioned, only Christianity lays claim to having a basis in historical fact, above and beyond special revelations granted to a founding prophet. Its relationship to history is unique. I don’t know how the secular discipline of religious studies would best go about dealing with that fact, but it does at least justify some differential treatment.
n the first volume of John Meier's A Marginal Jew, he proposes the fiction of an "unpapal conclave" consisting of a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew and an agnostic,

Great stuff. This exact scenario makes a hilarious appearance in the Coen brothers’ Hail Caesar. (Anyone else love that movie?)
IIRC Schweitzer places considerable emphasis on Matt 10.23:

When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

employing what would later come to be called the criterion of embarrassment. There I wonder if we have to share Schweitzer's understanding of hat verse to share his historical conclusions, and how many of us do share it today.
One reason I’m attempting this chapter by chapter synopsis of QHJ is that I genuinely do not understand his theory of Jesus as “thorough-going eschatologist.” The final chapters are a tough slog.
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Re: Synopsis of Schweitzer’s QHJ [Ch. 1, The Problem]

Post by Irish1975 »

Giuseppe wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 8:21 am
Irish1975 wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 8:08 am my blog, postchristianworld.com,
real food for thought, thank you! :thumbup:
Glad to hear it 👍. Still early days. I probably rant too much, but I suppose that’s what blogs are for.
Irish1975 wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 8:08 am The negative case against “the” historical Jesus ought to be altogether separated from any positive theory (e.g. Carrier’s sky demon crucifixion theory) of Christian origins, and yet it rarely ever is. Bruno Bauer seems to have been the first denier of historicity who leapt with both feet into a murky Christ myth theory in his books on Paul and the Caesars. Unfortunately Bauer is not translated into English.
It would be interesting to develop better this your thought.
Yes, it’s a position I’ve been trying to clarify for a while, but it make sense on a basic level.
Are you saying that it is possible to prove the premise that Jesus never existed and only later to prove to describe a reconstruction of the Origins? Is not better to attempt the contrary, instead ( = the plausibility of the reconstruction moves you to accept or reject the historical Jesus) ?
The reduction of the Gospels to imaginative literature by the pre-1848 Bauer, or recently by Thomas Brodie, is IMO the concrete and legitimate achievement of the skeptics of the HJ. (Both of these figures languish in obscurity, of course.) I also tend to think that there are too many Christ Myth theories, none is decisive, and the whole project is questionable. The evidence isn’t there, or is not sufficient in the face of the contradictory diversity, and paucity, of our sources. (The same is of course true for theories of “the” historical Jesus.)
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