Page images
PDF
EPUB

1847.) Corrections of Errors.

575 from conscientious opposition;" but it should read : “conscious opposition;" which makes quite a difference in the sense.

And on p. 50, “ Gemüth” is translated by “public mind."

The Gnostics did not regard the principal object of Christianity to be “the separation of Christianity from its former connection with the Old Testament” (p. 62); for, that it had such a connection, would have been a greater concession than they would have made; but they thought that the essential thing in Christianity was, that it abolished all such connection.” The sense of the whole of the last sentence of $ 29 is entirely perverted in the translation by making the argument from the Sibylline oracles coördi. nate with those from the spread of Christianity and the destruction of Jerusalem; while the original places them on entirely different grounds.

Near the bottom of p. 68, we are informed that “ Origen spoke also of spiritual and moral miracles, of which the visible miracles were the symbols: (he admitted, however, their importance only inasmuch as they were real facts).” The consistency of the parenthesis with the previous statement, it would be difficult to divine ; but the difficulty vanishes when we know that he considered the visible miracles as having this spiritual import, as well as having an importance as real facts—"(neben ihrer factischen Bedeutung).

“The incarnation of the Godman is the principal dogmatic idea of this period,” (p. 163). Original: “The manifestation of the Logos in the flesh is,” etc. In the translation, by leaving out the "Logos,” the peculiarity of the discussions is lost sight of: they revolved about the Logos; one may say, that this is implied in the above, but still it is not a translation, nor does it give the definite idea which marks the era.

In describing the views of Irenaeus upon the Lord's supper, the translation says (p. 200): “ But the reason which he argues in favor of his views, viz. that the Gnostics cannot partake of the bread and wine with thanksgiving, because they despise matter, shows that he regarded the elements as more than merely accidental things, though they are only bread and wine." How far removed this is from conveying the true sense, will be apparent from a correct rendering of the words after “matter:" "shows that, even if he did not regard the elements as mere bread and wine, yet on the other hand he did not conceive of them as mere accidents;" that is, in the elements is something more than mere bread and wine; but still the bread and wine are not mere accidents, but essential parts of the commemoration. That any one

:

66

should make against Cyprian “ the charge of insipidity,” (p. 202), can hardly be proved by the sense of the German Nüchternheit."

Sometimes, even where the words are very simple, we have the sense of the original wholly changed. When, e. g., on p. 290, to which we have just accidentally turned, we read : “ Concerning the origin of sin, the generally received opinion was, that it is to be ascribed to the will of man,” etc.; the passage states, that the generally received doctrine was, “ that the essence of sin has its seat in the will of man”? A most important statement of Müller, in respect to a misconception of Augustine's views, in the 4th note, is also omitted.

“ The union of Christians with Christ,” (p. 298) is given as the translation of “das Christliche Gemeingefühl ;” and where the original asserts that some of the charges against the Pelagians might be attributed to a “ Consequenzwacherei," the English tells us that Celestius was compelled to infer these consequences, which is not even hinted at in the German.

But we have probably already fatigued our readers sufficiently by these citations and comparisons. The usefulness of such a book, which is intended to be a work of authority, which is so ex. clusively devoted to the statement of facts and opinions, and upon the most important subjects of investigation and reflection, is greatly injured, and in some cases entirely annulled, by these mistranslations.

The author of the other work, whose title is placed at the head of this Article, is one of the ablest and most learned of the Hegelian interpreters of Christianity. He has written full histories of the doctrine of the Atonement, and of the Trinity and Incarnation. The latter is in three large volumes, and is the most complete work we have upon the subject. He has also written works upon the origin of the Episcopacy, upon the Christian Gnosis, or speculative Christianity in its historical development, upon the religious system of the Manichees, upon the Pastoral Epistles of Paul, and upon the Christian elements in Plato's system. He also wrote 1847.)

1 Dr. Baur is regarded as the founder of a new school, in respect to the early history of the church. According to his view, the earliest Christian church was still deeply imbued with Jewish elements. This is seen in the Apocalypse and in the Epistle of James. Christianity is indeed, in some respects, a new power; but it is clad in the armor of Judaism. In the genuine doctrine of Paul, we find the first signs of a distinctly new order of things. This genuine doctrine is contained in the epistles to the Romans, the Corinthians, and the Galatians; the epistle to the Hebrews belongs to the same class. The smaller epistles ascribed to Paul, those to the Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians, indicate a much higher position than do the other epistles, and are probably, he

Nature of Baur's Inquiries.

577

two able works in the Roman Catholic controversy which attended the publication of Möhler's Symbolism.

With such preparation he has come to the work of composing a text-book upon the history of doctrines. The extent and accuracy of his learning are undoubted; his critical skill is admirable; his mastery over the details, and his power of combining together, great masses of facts, in luminous and succinct statements, are often surprising. Grant him his theory, and with that theory he will go into the very midst of the disordered hosts of conflicting opinions, and call them all around him, and dispose them in regu. lar order, and show you a complete organic series and connection derived from what seemed so chaotic. He leads you down the whole course of Christian history, brings out each new phase of doctrine in orderly succession, tells you why such a doctrine received such a form at one time, and another shape in a subsequent period; gives the great epochs of the doctrinal history of the church as coincident with or produced by the greatest changes in the sphere of hunan thought; and finally shows how, according to his speculations, the whole sum and substance of the Christian faith, all that is essentially true and abiding therein, is contained in and resolvable into certain positions of the Hegelian philosophy. All of Baur's previous works upon Christian doctrine have this character; but in none of them does it stand out more prominently than in his text-book. He does indeed here, sometimes,

says, not genuine, but belong to a later date. Until the middle of the second century, the church was going through the struggle with two great parties, the Petrine and the Pauline. 'The whole Jewish-Christian church was Ebionistic. (Conf. Schwegler's Montanismus.) This theory is resorted to, for the purpose of explaining the production of Christianity by a sort of natural process, out of the Jewish faith ; and no more arbitrary criticism can be found, none inore opposed to the true historical method of inquiry, than that which its author applies to the hitherto undoubted epistles of Paul. It proceeds from his reluctance to admit a full and distinctive revelation, given to man; and leads to a critical injustice like that which Hegel showed in his Philosophy of Religion, where he places the Jewish faith, even in its religious elements, beneath the Greek and Ronjan superstitions, simply because it came first in the order of time, and it would not consist with his notion of a progressive development, to suppose that that which was first in the order of e, contained as high an order of ideas, as that which came later. Such are some of the extravagant results to which the theory of development, when sundered from the recognition of a full and positive revelation, has led some of the more philosophical of the German theologians; and it suggests valuable and necessary cautions in respect to the employment of such a theory in theological matters.

seem almost to shrink back from the full avowal of the results to which his system leads him: he rather hints at than advocates some of the most destructive consequences of the pantheistic the. ory; he does not, for example, expressly deny the personality of God, nor the individual existence of man in a future state; but most manifestly all his speculative and theological (or, untheological) tendencies are most in harmony with such a denial. He leads you through the whole vast process of the Christian history, and conducts you to results which virtually overthrows every article of our faith, not merely in its form, but in its vital substance.

The plan of his work is simple and comprehensive. The whole process of the history of doctrines he brings under the relations which the mind, the spirit of man, has had to the substance of the Christian faith (dogrna in its widest and ancient sense) in its different stages of progress. There are three such stages. The first is that in which the whole effort of the mind is to appropriate the doctrines, as mere articles of faith, as something objective; not so much to reflect upon them, as to express and receive them as matters of absolute faith. This period reaches to the end of the sixth century. The second period, that embracing the middle ages and scholasticism, is distinguished by the endeavor to bring the articles of faith into nearer proximity to, or reconciliation with, human consciousness; so that they should cease to be something merely objective. But the authority of the church then pressed so heavily upon men's minds, that this attempt failed. The absolute truth of the ecclesiastical dogmas was always presupposed. Before any true reconciliation between reason and faith, theology and philosophy, Christianity and human consciousness could be consummated, there must be a great revolution in the relative position of the two. And so in the third great period, that of the Reformation, we find the human mind at war with all church authority and tradition. The whole relations of theology and philosophy are changed. This principle, it is contended by Professor Baur, lay in the very nature of the Reformation, although it has been carried out to its full results only in the latest times. This process, now, is held to be not only real as a matter of fact, but absolutely necessary from the nature of mind. Man's spirit must go through this course. By this process, and only thereby, is truth eliminated. And the results to wliich it conducts us are the only abiding truths which a thinking man can receive or maintain. Philosophy is above theology; reason is above faith; all that is true in our systems of faith, is what philosophy on its own grounds

1847.]

Destructive tendencies of Baur's System.

579

demonstrates to be the absolute truth. It demonstrates the truth; whatever cannot be thus demonstrated, whatever cannot be comprehended, whatever, in the phraseology of this school, cannot be a matter of self-consciousness, has no inherent validity, and is to be banished to the realms of fiction), or is of value only as a record of the course of human thought. The human soul has out. grown all that it cannot comprehend. In the whole history of the race, in every department, this same unalterable process has been going on, and in each it has led to the same results. All that is substantial in all history, all that is veritable in all doctrines, is the philosophical truth contained therein. The philosophy of the doctrine is the doctrine itself. The truths of revelation are nothing more than certain philosophical ideas.

A process more vast, and more desolating than this we are unable to conceive. This process, unfolded in the history of man, this theory asserts, is God himself; the Trinity-it is this process. The distinction between the infinite and the finite is abolished; God comes to consciousness only in the consciousness of man. The distinction between time and eternity, this world and another, is abrogated; the substance of eternity is contained in time. All that truly and forever exists in spirit, and spirit, not as individual, but as universal and impersonal. The whole order of our ideas is reversed. Reason doinineers over faith; time over eternity; the human over the divine. The doctrine of the two natures of Christ is resolved into the union of the human and the divine in the history of the race. The atonement is a work of reconciliation performed only in and by the human spirit; justification is the conscious knowledge of each individual spirit of its union with the absolute spirit; immortality is not the continued existence of the individual after death, but is the continual existence of that which is spiritual; and while the Scriptures declare that the last enemy that shall be overcome is death, this philosophy by the mouth of Strauss asserts, that the belief in a future life is the last great enemy which speculative criticism has to contend against, and, if possible, to overcome.

To the exposition and propagation of this system in its essential parts the work of Baur is devoted. In compressed statements it brings forward all the main positions of the leading men and schools and parties and periods of the Christian church. Its array of learning, couched in pregnant statements and frequent references (almost uniformly without citations) is imposing. Its statements are lucid and comprehensive. Its philosophical part

a

« PreviousContinue »