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Renan. But its attitude toward them has been in fact scarcely more tolerant, and in its scheme the problem of the origin and early progress of Christianity becomes simply the question how the given conditions naturally evolved the given result.
The theory of Baur in its full length and breadth has ceased to command much patronage among scholars. Various representatives of his school have modified it in one point or another. It may be, however, appropriately reviewed in this connection, as a convenient means of testing the trustworthiness of the apostolic record.
Baur, in his reconstruction of the apostolic history, assumes that primitive Christianity differed widely from the Christianity which appeared after the middle of the second century, and that a large portion of the New Testament is more nearly expressive of the latter than of the former. The transition from one type to the other was by a development analogous to the evolution of the idea, according to the Hegelian system. As one notion involves its contrary, and the movement between these issues in a third in which the two first find their higher unity and reconciliation, so was it with the different types of Christianity. What the first disciples drew from Christ's teaching was little else than a spiritualized Judaism. Peter and his co-apostles taught nothing else. They remained fixed within the bounds of Judaism. Their conception of Christ was
1 The Tübingen scheme is given in substantially the same outline by Baur in his Kirchengeschichte, vol. i. 1863, and also in his Paulus ; by Schwegler in his Nachapostolische Zeitalter; by Zeller in his Contents and Origin of the Acts of the Apostles, trans. by Joseph Dare; and by the author of Supernatural Religion.
the Ebionite conception of a human Messiah. From first to last this was the nature of Petrinism. Paul was the first really to transcend Jewish limits. He had a generalizing talent, aspired to a philosophy of religion, and gave to Christianity its cast of universality. But he won no favor from the other apostles. During the whole life of the leading apostles, Paulinism remained in sharp and bitter conflict with Petrinism. How far the breach was from being healed before the death of Paul, is evident from the Apocalypse. Unsoftened by the memory of his martyrdom, the author of this Judaic production, who very likely was none other than the Apostle John, leaves no place to Paul in the apostolic college, and praises the Ephesian church for having rejected him as a deceiver and pretender. But ere long the antagonism began to be modified. Writings appeared which looked toward a harmonizing of the contending parties. The first to present the olive-branch was the Epistle to the Hebrews. This proceeds from the Judaic stand-point. At the same time it approaches Paulinism, and sets forth a reconciling principle. It makes Judaism simply a preparatory dispensation, and brings it into line with Christianity, as exemplifying imperfectly that idea of priesthood which finds its perfect expression in the latter. Another writing which proceeded from the Judaic basis was the Epistle which was sent forth under the name of James. This has, to be sure, a tinge of hostility to the Pauline doctrine of justification. At the same time it is not thoroughly anti-Pauline, and aims to set forth a platform of agreement between the contending parties. From the side of Paulinism the effort at reconciliation embodied itself in a number of writings, such as the pseudo-Pauline epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, Timothy, and Titus. The so-called First Epistle of Peter also reveals unmistakably a Pauline stand-point. The most elaborate product of the union effort in the school of Paul is presented us in the Acts of the Apostles. The author of this book goes so far in his peacemaking zeal as thoroughly to falsify history, devising an extended and artificial parallelism between the lives of the two rival apostles, exhibiting Peter in a Pauline garb, and making Paul as Petrine as possible. Finally the work of mediation reaches its consummation in the Fourth Gospel, which was composed after the middle of the second century. This resolves all contradictions. “It rises into the lofty regions of transcendental philosophy, leaving far below all past differences. To the writer of that Gospel, Jews and Gentiles come into one and the same category; they both belong to the kingdom of darkness, which is perpetually at war with the king. dom of light.”
1 Kirchengeschichte, p. 81.
The unhistorical nature of Baur's theory is evinced by a variety of considerations. It is indicated by the concensus of thought and feeling in the latter part of the second century. If the antagonism between Paul and the other apostles was the most conspicuous fact in the annals of early Christianity, how happened it that the knowledge of it had so soon and so thoroughly faded away throughout the length and breadth of catholic Christendom? How happened it that Irenæus and the contemporary Fathers had no thought of such an antagonism as having ever existed ? Again, Baur's theory runs into the incredible in the insinuations which it makes against the character of the apostles. While there is no need to idealize these men, it is rational to conclude, from the impress which they made, that they were men of great moral earnestness and spiritual elevation. Surely we may credit men of such grand achievement with a fair degree of honesty and magnanimity. Now, the words of Paul show that the apostles, even the chief of them, acknowledged him to his face, and pledged their friendship. What, then, is to be thought of a speculation which asks us to conclude, that, in gross violation of this friendly profession, they were capable of indulging covert and malicious thrusts at the character and work of Paul? Again, the unhistorical nature of Baur's theory is indicated by the desperate dealing with the apostolic writings to which he is driven. In maintaining his position, he is constrained to make a wholesale onslaught against the New Testament, and to impeach the genuineness of books concerning which the early Church entertained no doubt, and against which a valid objection has never been urged. To say nothing about the Gospels, he is obliged to reject all the general Epistles and all but four of Paul's Epistles. It also argues against his theory, that he finds it expedient to make so much of writings like the pseudo-Clementine, - writings representing, at most, an obscure heretical sect, and no more entitled
1 Some of the later representatives of the school of Baur differ with him on this point. Hilgenfeld makes the Epistle of James bitterly anti-Pauline. (Einleitung, 1875.)
2 So Pressensé summarizes the statement of Baur on the Fourth Gospel.
to serve as an index of primitive Christianity, than Mormonism is to stand as an exponent of original Protestantism.
The four Epistles of Paul whose genuineness is couceded by Baur are Romans, First and Second Corinthians, and Galatians. To limit the evidence in the case to these four writings is in itself an exceedingly arbitrary procedure. But Baur's arbitrariness goes a step farther. He takes apologetic passages in Paul's writings, as giving the absolute type of what Paul was in general. Now, unless the apostle is to be thrown entirely out of the category of ordinary humanity, this is an unwarranted procedure. No one, for example, would look for the complete attitude of Luther toward good works in passages which he penned in the full blaze of his indignation against the Pharisaic and commercial view of justification. Paul, indeed, wrote with a much steadier hand than Luther; still it is intrinsically probable, that, in cases where no definite issue was raised, and no principle was openly at stake, he appeared rather more tolerant toward Jewish peculiarities than he did in an express effort to combat the delusion that the yoke of Jewish ceremonialism must be bound to the necks of all converts to Christianity. It is plainly a one-sided polemic, which freely charges the other apostles with inconsistencies, but allows to Paul no flexibility in addressing himself to differing circumstances, and wellnigh denies him the prerogative to indulge any change of moods.
Let us now take up Baur's excerpt from the New Testament, the four Epistles which he acknowledges, and see what ground they afford for his fundamental