Bruno Bauer: The First Skeptical Life of Jesus

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Irish1975
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Bruno Bauer: The First Skeptical Life of Jesus

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

Links to earlier posts on:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapters 4 & 5
Chapter 6
Chapters 7 & 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10


Albert Schweitzer on Bruno Bauer:

“Bauer's ‘Criticism of the Gospel History’ is worth a good dozen Lives of Jesus, because his work, as we are only now coming to recognize, after half a century, is the ablest and most complete collection of the difficulties of the Life of Jesus which is anywhere to be found.”

“The question which has so much exercised the minds of men—whether Jesus was the historic Christ ( = Messiah)—is answered in the sense that everything that the historical Christ is, everything that is said of Him, everything that is known of Him, belongs to the world of imagination, that is, of the imagination of the Christian community, and therefore has nothing to do with any man who belongs to the real world.”


Bruno Bauer: Resources in English

[Very few of Bauer's texts, and none of his volumes of New Testament criticism, have been translated from German to English.]

Entry on Bauer in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (by Douglas Moggach)

Douglas Moggach, The Philosophy and Politics of Bruno Bauer (Cambridge, 2003).

Karl Lowith, From Hegel to Nietzsche (tr. David Green, 1941/1967), pp. 103-108, 339-346.

Roland Boer, “The German Pestilence: Re-Assessing Feuerbach, Strauss, and Bauer,” in ‘Is This Not the Carpenter?’: The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus (eds. Thompson & Verenna, 2012), pp. 47-53


Synopsis of Chapter 11

1. Bruno Bauer (1809-1882), philosopher, historian, and theologian, was a prominent disciple of Hegel, a leader of the “young Hegelians,” and a major influence on Karl Marx. He lectured on the Old and New Testaments at several universities in the 1830s before his professorship was terminated in 1842, at the behest of the king of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm IV.

2. In approaching the Gospel history, Bauer chose the literary rather than the historical method. His thought begins from the end, from the finished literary product, instead of from the beginning of the Gospel history. It was his life task to follow out, to its ultimate consequences, the literary solution of the problem of the life of Jesus.

3. The first Gospel on which Bauer published a study was that of John, in 1840. He found it to be a work of art, far from perfect aesthetically, and inspired by the speculation of Philo of Alexandria. “The parable of the Good Shepherd,” says Bauer, “is neither simple, nor natural, nor a true parable, but a metaphor, which is, nevertheless, much too elaborate for a metaphor, is not clearly conceived, and finally, in places shows much too clearly the skeleton of reflection over which it is stretched.”

4. It appears that Bauer had intended to treat the Synoptics as the solid historical foundation on which the fantastic structure of the 4th Gospel had been built. But the rock of the Synoptics crumbled under his pick. There was not, it turned out, a difference of kind, but merely of degree, between the Synoptics and John.

5. Bauer takes Wilke and Weisse to have proven with scientific certainty the priority of Mark’s Gospel.

6. “If it be once admitted that the whole Gospel tradition, so far as concerns its plan, goes back to a single writer, who has created the connection between the different events…does not the possibility naturally suggest itself that the narrative of the events themselves, not merely the connection in which they appear in Mark, is to be set down to the account of the author of the Gospel?” A great danger had arisen, says Schweitzer, when Weisse and Wilke reduced the triple embankment of the 3 Synoptic Gospels to Mark’s Gospel alone, which might not hold against a flood of skepticism.

7. The 4th Gospel is proof that a Gospel could have a purely literary origin. It is possible, and might be proved from the literary data, that Papias’ statement about the “Logia” [sayings] is worthless, and that Matthew and Luke are nothing but literary expansions of Mark. After all, the birth stories of Matthew and Luke would not be as different as they are if they issued from a common “tradition.” Our knowledge of the Gospel history does not rest on any basis of tradition, but upon three literary works, two of which depend on the third as their source. (But the sayings material in Matthew appears to Bauer to be a development of suggestions in Luke.)

8. Who can assure us that the Gospel history, and its assertion of the messiahship of Jesus, did not first become known in a literary form? And that one man did not create, out of general ideas, the historical tradition in which these ideas are embodied?

9. There is no documentary evidence of any Messianic expectation among the Jews at any time connected to the period when the Gospel history is supposed to have taken place. Daniel was the last of the prophets. Philo knows nothing of a Messiah, nor do the Wisdom writings. The Messiah is scarcely mentioned in “the Apocalypses” [question: what inter-testamental, apocryphal, apocalyptic Jewish texts were known in Europe in the 1840s?].

10. The theme of secrecy about Jesus’ messiahship in Mark, and the form of Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi (Mark 8), compel one to ask why Mark’s identification of Jesus as messiah is made so inconsistently and surreptitiously? Because the writer well knew “that no one had ever come forward publicly on Palestinian soil to claim the Messiahship, or had been recognized by the people as Messiah.”

11. In the early phase of his investigation, Bauer assumed that there had been some historical Jesus, who had been “a great, a unique Personality, who so impressed men by His character that it lived on among them in an ideal form, and had awakened into life the Messianic idea.” In time, however, Bauer’s writing becomes “ill-tempered, biting, injurious, hateful, pathological, obsessive, contemptuous, mocking.” His hatred is of the theologians, and his obsession is with the idea that the only historical reality from first to last might have been a late literary embodiment of a set of exalted ideas.

12. The Gospel history is religious art, arising from the experience of a community, and at the same time from the ideas of a single author.

13. The center of everything in the Gospels, and the point of departure, is belief in the sacrificial death and the resurrection of Jesus.

14. Concerning John the Baptist, Matthew and Luke add to Mark’s basic story of Jesus’ miraculous baptism an episode in which JB poses a skeptical question about Jesus’ messiahship. The two stories are not consistent.

15. It is only when one reads the words of Jesus, e.g. “let the dead bury their dead,” as embodying experiences of the early church, that their meaning becomes intelligible. Had they been uttered by a real man in history, they would have been absurd. The parables, said by Jesus to be intended to keep the people in darkness and ignorance, although the disciples themselves can understand nothing about them, are particularly incoherent as accounts of the teaching of a historical Jesus, or even on merely aesthetic grounds.

16. Bauer’s thesis that Mark is an artistic unity, and thus the product of a single mind, runs into difficulties with such imperfections of the text as the dual telling of the feeding of the multitude. Eventually, he resorted to a distinction between canonical Mark and an “Ur-Markus.” But this hardly explains the difficulty.

17. The early Church held inconsistent views about Jesus’ miracles: (a) he must have performed them, but (b) spiritual meanings and understandings were felt to be of superior merit to the “Jewish” demand for signs. The first evangelist handled this inconsistency by having Jesus forbid the persons he healed from spreading the news abroad. The other evangelists failed to grasp this purpose, and found only absurd occasions to repeat the motif of Jesus’ secrecy about his miracles.

18. Mark’s Jesus performs miracles, but does not thereby reveal himself to be the Messiah. Except for Peter’s strange confession at Caesarea Phillipi, there was no genuine recognition of the earthly Jesus by the people or by his disciples, such as arose in the era of Christian belief, when the Gospels were written. Jesus, as Messiah, must perform miracles; but they fail in their purpose of making him known to be the Messiah. “Mark is influenced by an artistic instinct which leads him to develop the main interest, the origin of the faith, gradually.” But the sudden recognition of Jesus as Messiah by the multitude in Jerusalem, after a single miracle which they had not even witnessed, seems to fall from heaven.

19. The incident at Caesarea Phillipi is the central fact of the Gospel History. But it implies that, previously, Jesus had never been recognized as the Messiah. It also necessitates a demonstration of how Peter, and later the Jerusalem multitude, came to believe it. These are insuperable problems. “It is impossible to explain how anyone could come to reject the simple and natural idea that Jesus claimed from the first to be the Messiah, if that had been the fact, and accept this complicated representation [sc. Mark’s] in its place. The latter, therefore, must be the original version. In pointing this out, Bauer gave for the first time the real proof, from internal evidence, of the priority of Mark.”

20. Nothing in Jewish writings supports the notion that the Messiah would appear as a wonder-worker. The connection between miracles and messiahship could only have been established long after Jesus’ death, in the ideas of the early Church. Similarly, Jesus was not in fact hailed as Messiah on entering Jerusalem. The controversy around him in Jerusalem did not turn on this question, nor did the Sanhedrin think of setting up witnesses to Jesus’ supposed claim to be the Messiah.

21. The 3-fold predictions of his passion, the transfiguration, the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, the Johannine story of the raising of Lazarus (not related by the Synoptics), the treachery of Judas—all these parts of the Gospel history are inexplicable and inconceivable as historical events. Likewise, the Last Supper, considered as a historical scene. A man, present in person, could not have entertained the idea of offering his own flesh to his friends to eat.

[22. The last 7 pages of Schweitzer’s chapter depart from the study of the Gospels, and treat of Bauer’s philosophical critique of Christianity. Over several decades, Bauer developed a novel and "eccentric" account of Christianity's historical origins in Roman Stoicism, and more generally in the conditions of the Roman Empire.]
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Re: Bruno Bauer: The First Skeptical Life of Jesus

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It is that Gothic script (or is it Fraktur?) that is the killer for translations. I'd work through machine translations tonight if I had any of Bauer's German-only works in a modern script.
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Re: Bruno Bauer: The First Skeptical Life of Jesus

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neilgodfrey wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:57 pm It is that Gothic script (or is it Fraktur?) that is the killer for translations. I'd work through machine translations tonight if I had any of Bauer's German-only works in a modern script.
Apparently there is no critical German edition of his "Werke."

It would require a biblically literate Isaiah Berlin, an historian of 19th century ideas, to reconstruct Bauer's work. Moggach has at least covered some of the territory that connects Hegel with Marx. But it feels like the world of biblical scholarship was content to abandon him to the political philosophers, to pretend that Bauer never played in their sandbox. Not hard to understand why.
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Re: Bruno Bauer: The First Skeptical Life of Jesus

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In a paragraph that nicely represents the themes of the whole book, Schweitzer reaches an unsound conclusion--
The only critic with whom Bauer can be compared is Reimarus. Each exercised a terrifying and disabling influence upon his time. No one else had been so keenly conscious as they of the extreme complexity of the problem offered by the life of Jesus. In view of this complexity they found themselves compelled to seek a solution outside the confines of verifiable history. Reimarus, by finding the basis of the story of Jesus in a deliberate imposture on the part of the disciples; Bauer, by postulating an original Evangelist who invented the history. On this ground it was just that they should lose their case. But in dismissing the solutions which they offered, their contemporaries also dismissed the problems which had necessitated such solutions; they dismissed them because they were as little able to grasp as to remove these difficulties.
If he means Bauer's later books on Paul, Seneca, and the Caesars, then yes, Bauer worked "outside the confines of verifiable history." But Bauer's literary criticism of the Gospels, i.e. treating them as a sequence of interdependent products of imagination, does not merit that description. It is not accurate or fair to put it on the same level as Reimarus' conjecture of an imposture by the disciples.

The Gospel According to Mark, which really exists, is the work of the claimed "original Evangelist" (some traces of canonical redaction notwithstanding). One does "postulate" that such a text came from the pen of a flesh-and-blood human author. It is as though Schweiter forgot how he began the chapter, by discussing the methodology of starting with the end product. To work with our end product, the texts as texts, is nothing less than the proper empirical treatment of the New Testament. In other words, not by helping oneself to all the specious and unwarranted assumptions about "the Gospel history" such as are typical today in the E.P. Sanders era of NT scholarship.
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Re: Bruno Bauer: The First Skeptical Life of Jesus

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Irish1975 wrote: Mon Jul 19, 2021 4:30 pm 15. It is only when one reads the words of Jesus, e.g. “let the dead bury their dead,” as embodying experiences of the early church, that their meaning becomes intelligible. Had they been uttered by a real man in history, they would have been absurd. The parables, said by Jesus to be intended to keep the people in darkness and ignorance, although the disciples themselves can understand nothing about them, are particularly incoherent as accounts of the teaching of a historical Jesus, or even on merely aesthetic grounds.

(...)

20. Nothing in Jewish writings supports the notion that the Messiah would appear as a wonder-worker. The connection between miracles and messiahship could only have been established long after Jesus’ death, in the ideas of the early Church. Similarly, Jesus was not in fact hailed as Messiah on entering Jerusalem. The controversy around him in Jerusalem did not turn on this question, nor did the Sanhedrin think of setting up witnesses to Jesus’ supposed claim to be the Messiah.
I'm picking two for now, although I agree with most points.
Yes, the Germans figured it all out over a century ago. I'm fluent in German, just not in the vocabulary used in these books, certainly not from that period - but i do pick a cherry here and there

The Church shot itself in the foot when it went all-in on the literal interpretation: yes, he really died, yes, he really was a man, yes, and so on. Mark inherited a ton of figures of speech, allegories, metaphors and parables - and that's where (1) connect with (20), because he inherited the miracle-wonder-worker as well

It doesn't matter whether something is fact or fiction, once it is written and believed b y enough people, it simply is True - because that is how we work, we call "majority opinion" Truth.
It is TRUE that Jesus died for our sins in a church, but it is FALSE on an atheist convention, for example.
And so on, a library could be filled with examples: truth only exists where there are people

The thing is, Christianity is a fusion of three sources, and that's where ti gets complicated. Each source on its own makes pretty good sense, but the contradictions comes partially from their fusion, and partially it is caused by the inevitable benefits of hindsight that plague something that remains in its infancy for centuries

There are two kinds of parables: one type comes from one source, the other comes from another. This is the list:

ThomasMarkLukeMatthew
The parable of the strong manLogion 35Mark 3:27Luke 11:21-22Matt 12:29
The parable of the sowerLogion 9Mark 4:3-8Luke 8:5-15Matt 13:3-9
The parable of the seed and the weedsLogion 57Mark 4:26-29Matt 13:24-30
The parable of the mustard seedLogion 20Mark 4:30-32Luke 13:18-19Matt 13:31-32
The parable of the tenantsLogion 65, 66Mark 12:1-11Luke 20:9-18Matt 21:33-44
The parable of the budding fig treeMark 13:28-31Luke 21:29-33Matt 24:32-35
The parable of the faithful servantLogion 21, 103Mark 13:34-37Luke 12:35-40Matt 24:42-44
The parable of the two debtorsLuke 7:41-43
The parable of the good SamaritanLuke 10:30-35
The parable of the rich foolLogion 63Luke 12:16-21
The parable of the barren fig treeLuke 13:6-9
The parable of the leavenLogion 96Luke 13:20-21Matt 13:33
The parable of the wedding feastLogion 64Luke 14:16-24Matt 22:2-14
The parable of the lost sheepLogion 107Luke 15:4-7Matt 18:12-14
The parable of the lost coinLuke 15:8-10
The parable of the prodigal sonLuke 15:11-32
The parable of the dishonest managerLuke 16:1-8
The rich man and the beggar LazarusLuke 16:19-31
The parable of the persistent widowLuke 18:1-8
The Pharisee and the tax collectorLuke 18:9-14
The parable of the ten coinsLuke 19:12-27Matt 25:14-30
The parable of the hidden treasureLogion 109Matt 13:44
The parable of the pearlLogion 76Matt 13:45-46
The parable of the netLogion 8Matt 13:47-50
The parable of the unforgiving servantMatt 18:23-35
Labourers in the vineyardMatt 20:1-16
The parable of the two sonsMatt 21:28-31
The parable of the ten virginsMatt 25:1-12

I have used canonical labels for them, let's keep things old-fashioned for the time being.
The parables that are in Thomas are of one type:
  • They are concise
  • They are cryptic
  • They often make use of (in)animate objects that actively participate in the parable
  • Those objects have meaning to the parable itself
  • They're full of allegory
    [*[ They have only one protagonist at all times
The parables that are in NOT Thomas are of another type:
  • They are long
  • They are simple, often mundanes and sometimes quite embarassing even
  • They rarely make use of (in)animate objects, and those don't actively participate in the parable (save for the virgins' lamps)
  • Those objects don't have meaning to the parable itself
  • They're devoid of allegory
  • They have multiple protagonists at all times
  • They are filled of humans dialoguing with humans, instead of having the story being told by events that unfold
There is a progress from one type to the other, and the above list is purposely sorted in (likely) chronological order.
There is also a quick metric to all: length. Taking Lambdin for Thomas and WEB for the canonicals, here are the volumetrics for each parable, in the version by its author:

ThomasCanonicals
LogiaLengthVersesLength
8311Mark 13:28139
9422Luke 7:41287
20257Luke 10:30985
21883Luke 13:6451
35171Luke 15:8396
57404Luke 15:112.436
63287Luke 16:11.226
641.226Luke 16:191.548
65670Luke 18:1768
76320Luke 18:9771
96176Matthew 18:231.473
97365Matthew 20:11.732
98248Matthew21 28496
103153Matthew 25:11.084
107281Luke 19:121.787
109340Matthew 25:142.132
Min: 153Min: 139
Max: 1,226Max: 2,436
Average: 407Average: 985
Median: 316Median: 878

This is a pattern - and there are more like that. Split the sources, and it will all make (much more) sense. We found Thomas, and that is of great, great help (if it is used, that is). If we find Marcion - that will be the end to all of it.
But the crux of the matter is that as soon as something got written, spread and adopted - it was the truth, and carved in concrete. Yes, Matthew tries to wiggle his ass out of the baptism, and John simp,my won't have it - but he sketches the scene nonetheless, just as Luke does with the kissing of Judas (which John really does simply leave out LOL)

And Caesarea is merely a copy of Thomas logion 13, of course. Which is equally pivotal, just in quite another way: https://www.academia.edu/46974146/Compl ... n_Content_
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Re: Bruno Bauer: The First Skeptical Life of Jesus

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Bruno Bauer is so interesting, as you hear so much of him by reputation but he's so inaccessible if you don't read German. The Gothic script in one of his works I found really put me off too.

Usually Bauer is quickly dismissed, but some like Schweitzer treat him with more respect. Another such person was A.D. Loman, a Dutch scholar from the late 19th century. Here's what A.D. Loman wrote about him in Theologisch Tijdschrift 16, in 1882, in his first "Quaestiones Paulinae", which helped kick off the Dutch radical movement (my translation from the Dutch):
Yes, a sole renegade like Bruno Bauer did dare to cross that boundary; but he has been paid so little attention in the thirty years that have passed since his attack against the authenticity of the Hauptbriefe that he would almost be happy to discover that in the introduction of the newest publication of Meyer's Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians men of the trade still consider it worthwhile to highlight his undertaking with the qualification "'sacrilegious'" . Even our compatriot Dr. A. Pierson, the only one who as far as I know has at least incidentally raised his voice against the authenticity of the Epistle to the Galatians, decided to ignore the work of this predecessor from Berlin.
...
In other words, we need to show that we can give these epistles a place in a later period: the post-Apostolic age.

Bruno Bauer has already tried, as is known, to provide this evidence in 1850-1852. His criticism of the Pauline Hauptbriefe reminds us of what happened with the Probabilia of Bretschneider about the gospel of John in the year 1820. If we take into account the quality of the latter work we have to declare without hesitation: these Probabilia deserved a better reception than they received in the first 25 years, even from impartial scholars.
...
As far as Bruno Bauer is concerned: he has certainly not retracted any of his suggested objections, more so, he has rather given the evidence of his unchanged view in this, although only through sparse communications. On the other hand he has done little or nothing to supply further explanation that would give his schematic and cursory treatise more substance and significance. This way, in our view, his criticism gradually received the same character of prematurity as did the criticism of the gospel of John before the time of F.C. Baur. One can think of three reasons to explain the smaller influence of Bruno Bauer's work. Firstly the attack on the authenticity of these epistles of Paul had not been prepared by previous criticism, while even at the end of the last century concerns had already been expressed about the fourth gospel. Finally the method applied appeared to be of a kind that did not promise a profitable discussion to any scholarly opponents.

Let's consider this last and most important point for a moment. In which way is Bruno Bauer's method peculiar? Indeed this author does proceed in an unabashed manner that's as astonishing as it is entertaining. He simply assumes, or should I say decrees, the spuriousness of all New Testament documents and in particular all of the Pauline epistles. Armed with this hypothesis as if it's the clearest magnifying glass, he goes through the documents he discusses so he can specifically occupy you with thoughts and expressions which appear to be useful in the interest of proving them spurious. Without question this new light in which he shows you these old documents is highly surprising. Continuously you exclaim: but I had never read that in my Paul! Often however this criticism gives you the impression of gruff contrarianism; too often the style of argument appears partial. The irregularities in the style and argumentation of Paul take on the appearance of insurmountable obstacles; the contradictions and inconsistencies expand to nonsensical non sequiturs; the apostle becomes in turn a thoughtless declaimer and an insufferable hierarch.

On the other hand in this merciless critic you miss what you would look for in the first place: for example the evidence that the epistles are not consistent with their presumed circumstances; that such a Paul cannot be understood at such a short distance to the life of Jesus, and so on. You also look in vain for the explanation of the course of the old Christian life and thought as a whole, with an indication of how these pseudepigraphs fit in the writings of the early Christian era. In short this criticism is too dialectical and polemical, too negatively skeptical, too subjectively arbitrary. And no wonder! The author did not consider it useful to explain to you how this Paulinism relates to the original Christianity, how it arose from it, and how it connects to the later old-Catholic literary-ecclesiastical movement. Just as little did he discuss the contemporaneous development of thought and ideals in the Jewish world so that he did not even investigate how the theology of the Hauptbriefe relates to that of Alexandrian and Palestinian Judaism.

If you let yourself be lead by him, then it is as if you are transported from a well-known and hospitable place into savage wilds under an open sky, where it's impossible to orient yourself. It's not a tempting prospect. You would fear that what awaits you there will hardly outweigh that which your haughty guide forces you to give up. This is why you're unwilling to listen to his discourses, which after all only betray their intent to raise in you a certain spirit of general skepticism, and to spoil your enjoyment of many a document from antiquity which has thus far been highly treasured. With a "Begone, Satan!" you say goodbye to this unsympathetic critic, determined to pay attention to him no more.

But have we thereby done full justice to this opponent of the canonical Paul? I don't believe so. I myself don't regret having taken up and thoroughly examined this seemingly settled case again, this so-called stillborn product of hypercriticism. Along with Pierson's remarks about the first two chapters of the Epistle to the Galatians that we have repeatedly mentioned before, Bruno Bauer's concerns have alerted me to a thus far much neglected side of the historical problem that is presented to us in the Pauline epistles. I paid special attention to what I would like to call the actuality, or also the real situation, or background reality of these epistles. I tried to understand the epistles as letters -- that is as a means of practicing community between a certain writer and his particular readers. Above all I attempted to characterize the personal affairs and relations that were implied and described here. When I had in this way designed a vivid image of the reality in which these documents place us, I then compared this reality with the data supplied to me by other sources about the moral-religious life in the Jewish world during the time in which the historical Paul lived and worked. And each time the conclusion of my consideration was that our canonical Pauline epistles do not belong in this period.
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Re: Bruno Bauer: The First Skeptical Life of Jesus

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This is some interesting analysis of the parables, Martijn.

I'm not sure I follow the connection you are seeing between the content of Jesus' teachings on the one hand, and the ideas more directly associated with Christianity itself, on the other (e.g. Jesus died for sins). I suppose a lot depends on what question we want to ask. I tend to keep these issues separate:

1) The story of the savior as a real historical man
2) The genesis and appeal and growth of Christianity per se, i.e., a distinctive type of monotheism
3) All the concrete imagery, theology, ethics, spirituality of the various NT texts

I think Bauer's discovery was that (1) has no actual substance apart from (2). There is no core historical material about Jesus against which it would be possible to judge historical (dogmatic, orthodox, pietistic, reformed, liberal, puritanical, etc.) Christianity.

As for (3), there are so many things in the NT that could have been drastically different from what they are, e.g. parables being this or that way, without Christianity itself being that much different. The creeds, e.g., have nothing to do with any Kingdom of God, or anything else Jesus supposedly preached. Or again, the Epistle of James has much in common with the logia of the Gospels, and yet is not presented as having come from Jesus.
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Re: Bruno Bauer: The First Skeptical Life of Jesus

Post by mlinssen »

Irish1975 wrote: Sun Jul 25, 2021 7:27 am This is some interesting analysis of the parables, Martijn.

I'm not sure I follow the connection you are seeing between the content of Jesus' teachings on the one hand, and the ideas more directly associated with Christianity itself, on the other (e.g. Jesus died for sins). I suppose a lot depends on what question we want to ask. I tend to keep these issues separate:

1) The story of the savior as a real historical man
2) The genesis and appeal and growth of Christianity per se, i.e., a distinctive type of monotheism
3) All the concrete imagery, theology, ethics, spirituality of the various NT texts

I think Bauer's discovery was that (1) has no actual substance apart from (2). There is no core historical material about Jesus against which it would be possible to judge historical (dogmatic, orthodox, pietistic, reformed, liberal, puritanical, etc.) Christianity.

As for (3), there are so many things in the NT that could have been drastically different from what they are, e.g. parables being this or that way, without Christianity itself being that much different. The creeds, e.g., have nothing to do with any Kingdom of God, or anything else Jesus supposedly preached. Or again, the Epistle of James has much in common with the logia of the Gospels, and yet is not presented as having come from Jesus.
Thanks Irish - I just compared the parables that are in Thomas to those that are only in the NT, from a textual / literary point of view: two completely different sets there, entirely different stories and settings, themes, applications, and so on. Now, onto you

1) yes, indeed, unless 2) the story of Jesus is one out of likely thousands. And with all his miracles being entirely ephemeral, evidence of which was gone in a matter of hours, the only thing to be expected is writings - and those we do have, but a century of one or two later than supposed to be expected. Needless to say, the stories just attest to the story, and nothing more than that either. The historical Jesus has been proven ahistorical beyond reasonable doubt long ago

3) it's a hotchpotch of everything indeed, but the dogma of the Church is different from all of it. Everything about baptism comes not from the NT, as there is nothing in the NT about it but immersion itself, sometimes in the name of whichever variant you like. I in fact like some stuff in the NT, but there is nothing in Churchianity that I like - and that is perfectly possible because the two are hardly related, and there are tens of thousands different forms of Christianity.
I'll tell you one thing: I haven't yet come across a "Thomas fan" who didn't still believe in a Jesus, who didn't like the Matthaus Passion, who didn't like to be in church during Christmas. Even with those words, albeit badly translated for some elementary parts, there can be Christianity

Just to make the point, none of that applies to me LOL. But yes, it is the elephant in the room. The Odes could be slapped on top of it, undoubtedly a few others as well, and some could be dropped - I doubt it would make much of a difference, if any
Last edited by mlinssen on Mon Jul 26, 2021 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bruno Bauer: The First Skeptical Life of Jesus

Post by Peter Kirby »

flowers_grow wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 10:02 am Bruno Bauer is so interesting, as you hear so much of him by reputation but he's so inaccessible if you don't read German. The Gothic script in one of his works I found really put me off too.

Usually Bauer is quickly dismissed, but some like Schweitzer treat him with more respect. Another such person was A.D. Loman, a Dutch scholar from the late 19th century. Here's what A.D. Loman wrote about him in Theologisch Tijdschrift 16, in 1882, in his first "Quaestiones Paulinae", which helped kick off the Dutch radical movement (my translation from the Dutch):
Thank you for this! Welcome to the forum.
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flowers_grow
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Re: Bruno Bauer: The First Skeptical Life of Jesus

Post by flowers_grow »

Thank you! I've been reading the forum for years but this was my first post.
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