The Jesus of History
T. R. Glover
Part 4 out of 4
intellectual judgement and an appreciation of Christ. The order is
experience,--happiness and song--and then reflection. The love and
the cleansing, and the joy, supply the materials on which thought
has to work. We have always to remember that thought does not
strictly supply its own material, however much it may help us to
find it. Philosophy and theology do not give us our facts. Their
function is to group and interpret them.
Our third group of records is given to us by the men of the
Reformation. We have there two great movements side by side. There
is Bible translation, which means, in plain language, a decision or
conviction on the part of scholars and thinkers, that the knowledge
of the historical Jesus, and of men's first experiences of him, is
of the highest importance in the Christian life. The whole
Reformation follows, or runs parallel with, that movement. It is
essentially a new exploration of what Jesus Christ can do and of
what he can be.
In dealing with all these three groups of records, we have to note
the seriousness of the men who made the experiments, their energy of
mind, their determination to reach real facts and, in Cromwell's
great phrase, to "speak things." They will have the truth of the
matter. Intricate and entangled as is the history, for instance, of
the Arian controversy--that controversy which "turned on a
diphthong," as Carlyle said in his younger days--it represented far
more than mere logomachy, as Carlyle saw later on. It followed from
a determination to get at the real fact of who and what Jesus Christ
is; and the two words, that differed by a diphthong, embodied
diametrically opposite conceptions of him. With all the
super-subtlety that sometimes characterizes theologians, these men
had a passion for truth. It led them into paths where our minds find
a difficulty in following; but the motive was the imperative sense
that thinking men must examine and understand their supreme
experience--a motive that must weigh with men who are in earnest
about life. The great hymns of the Church--such as the "Dies Irae"
of Thomas of Celano, or Bernard's "Jesu dulcis memoria", or
Toplady's "Rock of Ages"--are transcripts from life, made by
deep-going and serious minds. The writers are recording, with deep
conviction of its worth, what they have discovered in experience. A
man who takes Christ seriously and will "examine life," will often
find in those great hymns, it may be with some surprise, an
anticipation of his own experience as Bunyan did in Luther's
Commentary on Galatians. Livingstone had "Jesu dulcis memoria"--the
Latin of it--ringing in his head as he travelled in unexplored
Africa. Men who did such work--work that lasts and is recognized
again and again to be genuine by others busy in the same
field--cannot have been random, light-hearted creatures. They were,
in fact, men tested in life, men of experience of wide and deep
experience--men with a gift for living, developed in heart as well
as in brain. The finest of Greek critics, Longinus, said that, "The
great style ("hupsos") is an echo of a great soul." Neander
said--and it is again and again true--that "it is the heart that
makes the theologian." Where we find a great hymn or a great
theology, we may be sure of finding a great nature and a great
experience behind it.
Let us sum up our general results so far. First of all, whatever be
the worth of the consensus of Christian opinion--and we have to
decide how much it is worth, bearing in mind the type of man who has
worked and suffered to make it in every age; and, I think, it runs
high, as the work of serious and explorative minds--the consensus of
Christian opinion gives the very highest name to Jesus Christ. Men,
who did not begin with any preconception in his favour, and who have
often had a great deal of difficulty in explaining to others--and
perhaps to themselves--the course by which they have reached their
conclusions, claim the utmost for Jesus--and this in spite of the
most desperate philosophical difficulties about monotheism. With a
strong sense of fact, with a deepening feeling for reality, with a
growing value for experience, and with bolder ventures upon
experience, men have found that their conception of Jesus deepens
and grows; he means more to them the more they are. And, as was
noted in the first chapter, in a rational universe, where truth
counts and error fails, the Church has risen in power with every
real emphasis laid on Jesus Christ. What does this involve?
So far our records. To-day we are living in an era when great
scientific discoveries are made, and more are promised. Geology once
unsettled people about Genesis; but closer study of the Bible and of
science has given truer views of both, and thinking people are as
little troubled about geology now as about Copernican astronomy. At
present heredity and psychology are dominating our minds--or,
rather, theories as to both; for though beginnings have been made,
the stage has not yet been reached of very wide or certain
discovery. There is still a great deal of the soul unexplored and
unmapped. No reasonable person would wish to belittle the study
either of evolution or of psychology; but the real men of science
would probably urge that lay people should take more pains to know
the exact meaning and scope of scientific terms, and to have some
more or less clear idea in their minds when they use them. However,
all these modern discoveries and theories are, to many men's minds,
a challenge to the right of Christians to speak of Jesus Christ as
they have spoken of him, a challenge to our right to represent the
facts of Christian life as we have represented them--in other words,
they are a challenge to us to return to experience and to see what
we really mean. If our study of Jesus in the preceding chapters has
been on sound lines, we shall feel that the challenge to face facts
is in his vein; it was what he urged upon men throughout.
The old problem returns upon us: Who and what is this Jesus Christ?
We are involved in the recurrent need to re-examine him and
There are several ways of doing so. Like every other historical
character Jesus is to be known by what he does rather than by "a
priori" speculation as to what he might be. In the study of history,
the first thing is to know our original documents. There are the
Gospels, and, like other historical records, they must be studied in
earnest on scientific lines without preconception. And there are
later records, which tell us as plainly and as truthfully of what he
has done in the world's history. We can begin, then, with the
serious study of the actual historical Jesus, whom people met in the
road and with whom they ate their meals, whom the soldiers nailed to
the cross, whom his disciples took to worshipping, and who has,
historically, re-created the world.
The second line of approach is rather more difficult, but with care
we can use Christological theories to recover the facts which those
who framed the theories intended to explain. We must remember here
once more the three historical canons laid down at the beginning. We
must above all things give the man's term his meaning, and ask what
was the experience behind his thought. When we come upon such
descriptions of Jesus as "Christ our Passover" (1 Cor. 5:7), or find
him called the Messiah, we must not let our own preconceptions as to
the value of the theories implied by the use of such language, nor
again our existing views of what is orthodox, determine our
conclusions; but we must ask what those who so explained Jesus
really meant to say, and what they had experienced which they
thought worth expressing. These people, as we see, were face to face
with a very great new experience, and they cast about for some means
of describing and explaining it. A slight illustration may suggest
the natural law in accordance with which they set about their task
of explanation. A child, of between two and three years old, was
watching his first snow-storm, gazing very intently at the flying
snow-flake, and evidently trying to think out what they were. At
last he hit it; they were "little birds." It is so that the mind,
infant or adult, is apt to work--explaining the new and unknown by
reference to the familiar. Snow-flakes are not little birds; they
are something quite different; yet there is a common element--they
both go flying through the air, and it was that fact which the
child's brain noticed and used. To explain Jesus, his friends and
contemporaries spoke of him as the Logos, the Sacrifice, "Christ our
Passover," the Messiah, and so forth. Of those terms not one is
intelligible to us to-day without a commentary. To ordinary people
Jesus is at once intelligible--far more so than the explanations of
him. Historically, it is he himself who has antiquated every one of
those conceptions, and, so far as they have survived, it has been in
virtue of association with him. They are the familiar language of
another day. "No one," said Dr. Rendel Harris, "can sing, 'How sweet
the name of Logos sounds.'" Synesius of Cyrene did try to sing it,
but most human beings prefer St. Bernard or John Newton.
The inner significance of each term will point to the real
experience of the man using it. He employs a metaphor, a simile, or
a technical term to explain something. Can we penetrate to the
analogy which he finds between the Jesus of the new experience and
the old term which he uses? Can we, when we see what he has
experienced, grasp the substance and build on that to the neglect of
the term? When we look at the terms, we find that the essence of
sacrifice was reconciliation between God and man (we shall return to
this a little later), and that the Messiah was understood to be
destined to achieve God's purpose and God's meaning for mankind and
for each man. We find, again, that the inner meaning of the Logos is
that through it, and in it, God and man come in touch with each
other and become mutually intelligible. Reconciliation, the victory
of God, the mutual intelligibility of God and man--all three terms
centre in one great thought, a new union between God and man. That,
so far as I can see, is the common element; and that is, as men have
conceived it, the very heart of the Christian experience.
In the third place, we can utilize the new experiments made upon
Jesus Christ in the Reformation and in other revivals. They come
nearer to us; for the men who report are more practical and more
scholarly in the modern way; they are more akin to us both in blood
and in ideas. Luther, for example, is a great spirit of the explorer
type. He went to scholarship and learnt the true meaning of
"metanoia"--that it was "re-thinking" and not "penance"--and he
grasped a new view of God there. From scholarship he gained a truer
view of Church history than he had been taught; and this too helped
to clear his mind. Above all, as "a great son of fact" (Carlyle's
name for him), his chief interest was the exploration of Jesus
Christ--would Christ stand all the weight that a man could throw
upon him without assistance? And Luther found that Christ could; and
he at once turned his knowledge into action, as the world knows.
"Justification by faith" was his phrase, and he meant that we may
trust Jesus Christ with all that we are, all that we have been, and
all that we hope to be; that Jesus himself will carry all; that
Jesus himself is all; that Jesus is at once Luther's eternal
salvation, and his sure help in the next day's difficulty--his
Saviour for ever from sin, and his great stand-by in translating the
Bible for the German people and in writing hymns for boys and girls.
"Nos nihil sumus", he wrote, "Christus solus est omnia". In the
case of every great revival--the Wesleyan revival, and the smaller
ones in the United States, in the north of Ireland, in Wales--in
every one we find that, where anything is really achieved, it is
done by a new and thoroughgoing emphasis on Jesus Christ. It may be
put in language which to some ears is repulsive, in metaphors
strange or uncouth; but whatever the language, the fact that
underlies it is this--men are brought back to the reality, the
presence, the power, and the friendship of Jesus Christ; they are
called to a fresh venture on Jesus Christ, a fresh exploration: and
again and again the experience of a lifetime has justified the
This brings us to the most effective and fundamental method in the
exploration of Jesus, in some ways the most difficult of all, or
else the very simplest. The Church has been clear that there is
nothing like personal experiment, the personal venture. It is the
only clue to the experience. The saying of St Augustine (Sermon 43,
3), "Immo Credo ut intelligas," is to many of our minds offensive--I
think, because we give not quite the right meaning to his "Credo".
But, if the illustrations are not too simple, swimming and bicycling
offer parallels. A man will never understand how water holds up a
human body, as long as he stays on dry land. In practical things,
the venture comes first; and it is hard to see how a man is to
understand Christ without a personal experience of him. All parents
know how much better bachelors and maiden sisters understand
children than they do; but as soon as these great authorities have
children of their own, the position is altered a little.
The change that Jesus definitely operates in men, they have
described in various ways--rebirth, salvation, a new heart, and so
forth. What they have always emphasized in Jesus Christ, is that
they find he changes their outlook and develops new instincts in
them, and that in one way and another he saves from sin; and they
have been men who have learnt and adopted Jesus' own estimate of
sin. When, then, we remember that, with his serious view of sin, he
undertook man's redemption from it; when we add to this some real
reflection upon how much he has already done, as plain matter of
history, to "take away the sin of the world," we surely have
something to go upon in our attempt to determine who he is. The
question will rise, Have Christians overstated their experience, or
even misunderstood it? Has forgiveness been, in fact, achieved--or
salvation from sin? Can sin be put away at all? What will the
evidence for this be? I do not know what the evidence could be,
except the new life of peace with God, and all the sunshine and
blessing that go with it. This new life is at all events all the
evidence available; and how much it means is very difficult to
estimate without some personal experience.
Here again the great theories of Redemption will help us to recover
the experience they are to explain; and once more we may note that
they are not the work of small minds or trivial natures, however
badly they have been echoed. Substitution implies at any rate some
serious confession of guilt before God, some strong sense of a great
indebtedness to Christ. The theory of Sacrifice implies the need of
reunion with God. Robertson Smith, in his "Early Religion of the
Semites" brings out that the essence of ancient sacrifice was that
the tribe, the sacrificial beast and the god were all of one blood;
the god was supposed to be alienated; the sacrifice was offered by
the party to the quarrel who was seeking reconciliation, namely, the
tribe. When we look at the New Testament, we find that the emphasis
always lies on God seeking reconciliation with man (cf. 2 Cor.
5:19). The theory of ransom--a most moving term in a world of
slavery--implies the need of new freedom for the mind, for the heart
and the whole nature, from the tyranny of sin. All these are
similes; and tremendous structures of theory have been built on
every one of them--and for some of these structures, simile, or, in
plainer language, analogy, is not a sufficient foundation. It is
probably true that all our current explanations of the work of
Christ in Redemption have in them too large an element of metaphor
and simile. Yet Christian people are reluctant to discard any one of
them; and their reluctance is intelligible. There is a value in the
old association, which is found by new experience. Every one of
these old similes will contribute to our realization of the work of
Christ, in so far as it is a record of experience of Christ,
verified in one generation after another. We shall make the best use
of them, when we are no longer intimidated by the terminology, but
go at once to what is meant--to the facts.
We come still closer to the facts in the less metaphorical terms of
the New Testament. For example, there is the New Covenant. The
writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews went back to a great phrase in
Jeremiah, and by his emphasis on it he helped to give its name to
the whole New Testament--"I will make a new covenant with the house
of Israel and the house of Judah" (Heb. 8:8-12; Jer. 31:31-34).
Using this passage, he brings out that there is a new relation, a
new union, between God and man in Jesus. He speaks of Jesus as a
mediator bringing man and God together (Heb. 8:6)--language far
plainer to us than the terminology of sacrifice, which he employed
rather to bring home the work of Jesus with feeling and passion to
those who had no other vocabulary, than to impose upon Christian
thinkers a scheme of things which he clearly saw to be exhausted.
Then there is Paul's great conception of Reconciliation (2 Cor.
5:18-20). Half the difficulties connected with the word "Atonement"
disappear, when we grasp that the word in Greek means primarily
reconciliation. As Paul uses the noun and the verb, it is very plain
what he means--God is in Christ trying to reconcile the world to
himself. These attempts to express Christ's work in plain words take
us back to the great central Christian experience--to the great
initial discovery that the discord of man's making between God and
man has been removed by God's overtures in Christ; that the
obstacles which man has felt to his approach to God--in the unclean
hands and the unclean lips--have been taken away; and that with a
heart, such as the human heart is, a man may yet come to God in
Jesus, because of Jesus, through Jesus.
The historical character of Christian life and thought is surely
evidence that Jesus Christ has accomplished something real; and when
we get a better hold of that, the problem of his person should be
more within our reach. The splendid phrase of Paul--"Therefore being
justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ" (Rom. 5:1)--or that of 1 Peter: "In whom ye rejoice ... with
joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Pet. 1:8)--gives us the
keynote. The gaiety of the Early Church in its union with Jesus
Christ rings through the New Testament and the Christian fathers
from Hermas to Augustine. The Church has come singing down the
ages. The victory over sin--no easy thing at any time--is
another permanent feature of Christian experience. The psychological
value of what Dr. Chalmers called "the expulsive power of a new
affection" is not enough studied by us. Look at the freedom, the
growth, the power of the Christian life--where do they all come
from? We cannot leave God out of this. At any rate, there they are
in the Christian experience; and where does anything that matters
flow from but from God? There is again the evidence of Christian
achievement; and it should be remarked that the Christian always
tells us that he himself has not the power, that it comes from God,
that he asks for it and God gives it. As for the easy explanation of
all religious life by "auto-suggestion," we may note that it
involves a loose and unscientific use of a more or less scientific
theory--never a very safe way to knowledge. In any case, it has been
pointed out, the word adds nothing to the number of our facts; nor
is it quite clear yet that it eliminates God from the story any more
than the term "digestion" makes it inappropriate to say Grace before
meat. All these things--peace, joy, victory, and the rest--follow
from the taking away of sin, and imply that it no longer stands
between God and man. All this is the work of the historical Jesus.
It is he who has changed the attitude of man to God, and by changing
it has made it possible for God to do what he has done. If God, in
Paul's phrase, "hath shined in our hearts" (2 Cor. 4:6), it was
Jesus who induced men to take down the shutters and to open the
windows. It is all associated, historically, with the ever-living
Jesus Christ, and with God in him.
This brings us to the central question, the relation of Jesus with
God--the problem of Incarnation. After all that has been said, we
shall not approach it "a priori". We are too apt to put the
Incarnation more or less in algebraic form:
where a stands for the historical Jesus Christ, and x and y
respectively for God and man. But what do we mean by x and y? Let us
face our facts. What do we know of man apart from Jesus Christ?
Surely it is only in him that we realize man--only in him that we
grasp what human depravity really is, the real meaning and
implications of human sin. It is those who have lived with Jesus
Christ, who are most conscious of sin; and this is no mere morbid
imagination or fancy, it rests on a much deeper exploration of human
nature than men in general attempt. Not until we know what he is do
we see how very little we are, and how far we have gone wrong. It is
his power of help and sympathy that teaches us the hardness of our
own hearts, our own fundamental want of sympathy. Again, until a man
knows Jesus Christ, he has little chance of even guessing the
grandeur of which he himself is capable. A man has, as he says, done
his best--for years, it may be, of strenuous endeavour; and then
comes the new experience of Jesus Christ, and he is lifted high
above his record, he gains a new power, a new tenderness, and he
does things incredible. We do not know the wrong or the right of
which man is capable, till we know Jesus Christ. The y of our
equation, then, does not tell us very much.
When it comes to the x, is it not very often a mixture--an
ill-adjusted mixture--of the Father of Jesus, with the rather
negative "beyond all being" of later Greek speculation, and perhaps
the Judge of Roman law? The exact proportions in the mixture will
vary with the thinker. But, in fact, is it not true now that we
really only know God through Jesus? For it is only in and through
Jesus that we take the trouble, and have the faith, to explore and
test God, to try experiments upon God, to know what he can do and
what he will do. It is only in Jesus that the Love of God (in the
New Testament sense), is tenable at all. It is evanescent apart from
Jesus; it rests on the assurance of his words, his work, his
personality. A vague diffused "love of God" for everything in
general and nothing in particular, we saw to be a quite different
thing from the personal attachment, with which, according to Jesus,
God loves the individual man. That is the centre of the Gospel; it
is belief in that, which has done everything in a rational world, as
we saw at the beginning; and it is a most impossible belief, never
long or very actively held apart from Jesus. Only in him can we
believe it. Only in him, too, is the new experience of God's
forgiveness and redemption possible, in all its fullness and
sureness and power. "Dieu me pardonnera," said Heine, "c'est son
metier";--but he had not the Christian sense of what it was that God
was to forgive. It is only in Jesus that we can live the real life
of prayer, in the intimate way of Jesus. All this means that we have
to solve our x from Jesus--not to discover him through it. The plain
fact is that we actually know Jesus a great deal better than we know
our x and our y, the elements from which we hoped to reconstruct
him. What does this mean?
It means, bluntly, that we have to re-think our theories of
Incarnation on "a posteriori" lines, to begin on facts that we know,
and to base ourselves on a continuous exploration and experience of
Jesus Christ first. The simple, homey rule of knowing things before
we talk about them holds in every other sphere of study, and it is
the rule which Jesus himself inculcated. We begin, then, with Jesus
Christ, and set out to see how far he will take us. Experience comes
first. "Follow me," he said. He chose the twelve men "that they
might be with him," and he let them find out in that intercourse
what he had for them; and from what he could give and did give they
drew their conclusions as to who and what he is. There can be no
other way of knowing him. "Luther's Reformation doctrines," says
Hermann, in his fine book, "The Communion of the Christian with God"
(p. 163), "only countenance such a confession of the Deity of Christ
as springs naturally to the lips of the man whom Jesus has already
made blessed." Melanchthon said the same: "This it is to know
Christ--to receive his benefits--not to contemplate his natures, or
the modes of his incarnation." "Come unto me, all ye that labour and
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
SUGGESTIONS FOR STUDY CIRCLE DISCUSSIONS
1. The book is obviously written for private reading, and these
suggestions are added, at the author's request, for those who would
like to study the book in groups. Circles on it, however, will not
be very profitable unless members of them are also carefully reading
the Gospels and come to the circles with copies of the New
Testament. Some acquaintance with the main outlines of New Testament
criticism will be a help. Readers who want to know how the New
Testament was written are referred to Principal Selbie: "The Nature
and Message of the Bible" (S.C.M., IS. 6d.), especially ch. iv. and
2. The questions suggested for discussion are only a selection of
the many important questions which the book raises. Circles should
not feel bound to follow them, or to try to cover them all at one
meeting. There are many subsidiary questions, which some circles
might pursue With profit.
3. The circle should try as far as possible to get away from the
text of the book to the text of the Bible; to study and verify the
author's method of exposition. The Leader should give much thought
4. A Bible with the marginal references of the R.V.
should be used--also a note-book. The author's clear preference for
the A.V. may be remarked (cf. p. 224).
5. While the method of the book is historical, its object is
practical. The circles should have the same objective.
Experience comes before theology. Theology is worthless which cannot
be verified in experience. "He that doeth His will, shall know of
6. One chapter a week will be as much as a circle can profitably manage. .
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION IN CIRCLES
I. Does the writer overdo the importance of history?
Would not "spiritual religion" suffice without a "historical basis,"
as some Indians and others suggest?
2. What would our evidence be for" spiritual religion" if we had not
the record of actual history to check fancy and support the ventures
3. Does the writer underestimate the actual impress made on his age
by Jesus? Was he not probably more widely known?
4. How can ordinary people" make sure of the experience behind the
thought of Jesus?" Does this belittle him?
5. What becomes of ordinary simple people untrained in historical
research, who are not experts and merely want help in living and
dying? Could not the whole presentation of Christ be much simpler?
Where does "revelation to babes" come in?
1. Look up and verify at the circle meeting the references to the
Gospels in the chapter and see if they bear the interpretations put
2. Was Jesus fond of life and Nature? Give instances.
3. Does intercourse with Nature make communion with God more real?
4. "Jesus showed and taught men the beauty of humility, tenderness
and charity, but not of manliness and courage." Is there any truth
in this charge as regards (a) the portrait in the Gospels, or (b)
the presentation of Jesus in the teaching of the Church?
1. "One of Jesus' great lessons is to get men to look for God in the
common-place things of which God makes so many." Discuss this.
2. Had Jesus a sense of humour? Give instances.
3. "The Son of Fact,"--do you think this a true epithet?
4. What characteristics of the mind of Jesus does this chapter
emphasize as principal? Do you agree that they are the principal
(5. What do you imagine Jesus looked like? What do you think of the
conventional figure of modern Art?)
I. To what extent was the hardness of the world during the early
Roman Empire due to current conceptions of God?
2. What was the secret of Jesus' attractiveness, and what kinds of
men and women did he attract?
3. How do you picture the life he lived with his disciples? E.g. Can
you reconstruct a typical day in the life of Jesus (cf. pp. 81, 82).
4. Had he a method of teaching: if so, what was it? Give
1. How would you state to a non-Christian the three principal
elements in Jesus' teaching about the character of God? Illustrate
fully from the three Gospels.
2. What elements in the teaching of Jesus and the relation of God to
the individual would be new to a Jew who knew his Old Testament?
3. What did Jesus teach his disciples concerning prayer?
4. "If the friend in the house to your knowledge has the loaves, you
will knock until you get them; and has not God the gifts for you
that you need? Is he short of the power to help, or is it the will
to help that is wanting in God?" Do we pray in order to change the
will of God? Why did Jesus pray?
1. "There is little suggestion in the Gospels that Art meant
anything to him." Would you admit this? Or has the writer too
narrow a conception of the nature of Art?
2. "The appeal that lay in the sheer misery and helplessness of
masses of men was one of the foundations of the Christian Church."
Discuss this and illustrate from the ministry of our Lord.
3. "I have not been thinking about the community: I have been
thinking about Christ," said a Bengali. Do you find this sort of
antithesis in the Gospels?
4. "Jesus' new attitude to women." What is it? Was it continued in
the Apostolic Church? Did it differ from St Paul's? Cf. St John
5. What type of character does Jesus admire? Does your reading of
the Gospels incline you to agree with the writer? Is it the same
type of character which is exalted by Christian piety, stained-glass
windows, and the calendars of Saints?
1. "There is no escaping the issue of moral choice." "One opinion
is as good as another." Discuss these two contradictory statements.
2. "Jesus says there is all the difference in the world between his
own Gospel and the teaching of the Baptist." What is John's teaching
on sin and righteousness (in the Synoptic Gospels), and in what ways
does it differ (a) from the Pharisaic, and (b) from our Lord's
3. What are the modern parallels to "the four outstanding classes
whom Jesus warns of the danger of hell?"
4. Wherein does Jesus' standard of sin differ from the standard of
sin current to-day?
5. "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost"
(Luke 19:10). What does "lost" mean?
1. What is the connection between the Kingdom of Heaven and the
Cross in the teaching of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels?
2. How does Jesus conceive of salvation? Illustrate from the
Gospels. Do you agree with the writer's exposition?
3. Why should the salvation of the lost (i.e. redemption) mean the
Cross for Jesus?
4. "In choosing the Cross, Christians have always felt, Jesus
revealed God: and that is the centre of the great act of
Redemption." In what way?
5. Do you think the paragraph on p. 179 beginning: "In the third
place . . ." does justice to the apocalyptic passages in the Gospels
(Mark 13ff, Matt. 24, etc.), or to the interpretation of this
teaching by scholars of the apocalyptic school? (It is no use
discussing this question unless members of the circle have made some
study of apocalyptic thought.)
1. "Into this world came the Church!" With what aspects of the
religion and life of the early Roman Empire, as outlined in the
chapter, would the Church find itself in conflict?
2. How would you introduce the Christian faith to one who believed
and took part in the Eleusinian cult of Demeter? (Cf. 1 Corinthians
and St Paul's method of dealing with a similar situation, and notice
the things he stresses--e.g. elementary morality.)
3. "Christ has conquered and all the gods are gone." Why did they go?
4. But have they gone? What resemblances are there between the world
to-day (in the West and in the East) and the problem of the Church
to-day and the Roman world and the problem of the Church then?
5. It was often remarked in India that, point by point, the writer's
description of religion in the Roman world is true to the letter of
Hinduism to-day. Work out this parallel. (See Dr J. N. Farquhar,
Crown of Hinduism and Modern Religious Movements in India.)
1. "It is the heart that makes the theologian." Where does
your theology come from?
2. The doctrine of the Atonement has often been stated as an attempt
to reconcile Jesus and an un-Christian conception of God.
"God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." "The Cross
is the revelation in time of what God is always." Discuss.
3. What are the three ways of answering the question:
"Who and what is this Jesus Christ?" Why must people make up their
minds about him?
4. Does the writer make Jesus too human? Or has the reading of this
book made you feel his divinity more strongly just because he was so
 The Conflict of Religions in the Early Roman Empire, p. 157.
 "We are nothing; Christ alone is all."
 Canon Streeter in Foundations
 Cf. the foreigner's touch at Athens (Acts 17:21).
 because, later on, the Sabbath and Jewish ceremony were not among
the most living issues, after the Church had come to be chiefly
 On this point see R. W. Dale, "The Living Christ and the Four
Gospels"; and W. Sanday, "The Gospels in the Second Century."
 The reader will see that I am referring to Bishop Lightfoot's
article on "The Brethren of the Lord" in his commentary on
"Galatians", but not accepting his conclusions.
 That this is not quite fanciful is shown by the emphasis laid by
more or less contemporary writers on the increased facilities for
travel which the Roman Empire gave, and the use made of them.
 Wordsworth, Prelude, i. 586.
 Cf., F. G. Peabody, "Jesus Christ and Christian Character", pp.
 H. S. Coffin, Creed of Jesus. pp. 240-242.
 "Prelude" xiii. 26 ff.
 See further, on this, in Chapter VII., p.168
 E.g., in his essay on "Mirabeau": "The real quantity of our
insight ... depends on our patience, our fairness, lovingness"; and
in "Biography": "A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge."
 Cf. Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 154. I have
omitted one or two less relevant clauses--e.g. greetings to friends.
 Horace, "Epistles", i. 16, 48.
 Homer, "Odyssey", xvii. 322.
 It is only about four times that personal immortality comes with
any clearness in the Old Testament: Psalms 72 and 139; Isaiah 26;
and Job 16:26.
 Cf. A. E. J. Rawlinson, Dogma, Fact and Experience, p. 16. "All
the virtues in the Aristotelian canon are self-contained states of
the virtuous man himself .... In the last resort they are entirely
self-centred adornments or accomplishments of the good man; and it
is significant of this self-centredness of the entire conception
that the qualities of display (megaloprepeia) and highmindedness, or
proper pride (megalopsychia), are insisted on as integral elements
of the ideal character. On the other hand, the three characteristic
Christian virtues--faith, hope and charity--all postulate Another."
 Cf. Chapter II
 A French mystic is quoted as saying, "Le Dieu defini est le Dieu
 Peabody, Jesus Christ and Christian Character, p. 97.
 H. R. Mackintosh, "The Doctrine of the Person of Jesus Christ",
 Clement, "Protrepticus", 100, 3, 4
 The more or less contemporary Greek orator, Dio Chrysostom,
refers to the old-fashioned ways of the Tarsiots, especially
mentioning their insistence on women wearing veils.
 Wernle, "Beginnings of Christianity", vol. i. p. 286, English
 So too says Josephus, who gives this as the reason of Herod's
suspicion of him.
 "Antiquities of the Jews", xviii. 5, 8, 117, cf. what Celsus
says of righteousness as a condition of admission to certain
mysteries that offer forgiveness of sins (Origen, c. "Celsum", iii.
59). The "purification of the body" has a ritual and ceremonial
 Lines Composed above Tintern, 34.
 That he did so is emphasized again and again, in striking
language, by St. Paul--e.g. Rom. 5:15-16, 20; 1 Tim. 1:14.
 Horace, "Ars Poetica", 191, "Nec deus intersit nisi dignus
vindice nodus inciderit".
 Daily reading of the Scriptures is recommended by Clement of
Alexandria ("Strom". vii. 49).
 Perhaps one may quote here, not inappropriately, the famous
saying of Aristotle in his "Poetics", that "poetry is a more
philosophic thing than history, and of a higher seriousness." The
latter term means that the poet is "more in earnest" about his work,
and puts more energy of mind into it than the historian. If the
reader hesitates about this, let him try to write a great hymn or
 Do not let us be misled by the thin pedantries of the Revised
Version here, or in Romans 5:1 shortly to be cited. In both places
literary and spiritual sense has bowed to the accidents of MSS.
 If my readers do not know his Christmas hymn for children, they
have missed one of the happiest hymns for Christmas.
 What Carlyle says in "The Hero as a Poet" ("Heroes and Hero
Worship") on the close relation of Song and Truth is worth
remembering in this connexion.
Back to Full Books