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For, at the banquet of the Messiah, the leviathan, having been previously salted down by God for the good of the faithful, would first be served up; the Behemoth would form the second course; while the dessert would be composed of that fabulous bird which concealed the sun with her outspread wings, and with one of her eggs drowned sixty cities. No wonder that men said, "The world has lost her youth, and the times wax old!"
It is not likely that the popular notions were superior in any way to the grotesque exaggerations of the schools. The temporal and kingly Messianic type seems to have been the prevailing one through the whole of this period. The readiness with which the people hailed every insurrectionist that came, the tumult of acclaim which greeted John Hyrcanus and the victorious Maccabees, bear witness to this, as also the scanty and hesitating allegiance to our blessed Lord, and the sight of three hundred thousand, fired with fanatic hope and zeal, gathering around the standard of Barcochba, and hailing him as the Messiah, near the latter part of Hadrian's reign.
But there was a perfect Babel of beliefs everywhere, and no two men seem to have been agreed. Three distinct types there were, at least, in Judea, the Mosaic, the Davidical, and the "Son of Man," and still another connected with the Logos doctrine among the Alexandrians. But seldom, if ever, do we find these types in either of the unmixed forms. Many, following Hillel, said there would be no Messiah; that the prophecy was already consummated. Many more, starting it may be from the reference in Daniel to a Messiah who should be cut off, held the notion of two Messiahs, the first, suffering; the second, triumphant. That Elijah would precede his coming, by three days, was, certainly, not an uncommon opinion.
The expectation of the Messiah's speedy coming was almost universal. The mystic reckonings on the basis of seven or tenone the cipher of creation, the other of the lawcontributed to this. Ingenuity was exhausted in devising the conditions of the event: if two or three sabbaths should be
well observed; if the nation would heartily repent for a day. But, at any rate, it could not long be stayed. "When you bury me," said a dying Jew, "put shoes on my feet and a staff in my hand, that I may be ready when Messiah cometh."
And now, from all that we have seen, - whether longing of patriarch, psalm of poet, hope of prophet, or apocalyptic vision, how could Jesus of Nazareth extract the prophetic testimony of his official character and establish his Messiahship? He could not. Where he could find one thing in favor, he could find a hundred things in opposition to, his claims. It was not from the Jewish Scriptures that Jesus discovered that he was the one as set forth by God for the falling and rising again of many in Israel. No doubt his lofty soul as similated to itself every thing that was loftiest in the Messianic longing of the elder Scripture. In the subtilty and freedom of his spiritual eclecticism, one lofty aspiration would weigh more with him than a thousand prophecies of national prosperity and temporal salvation from the bond of the alien. Certainly, One such as he would not have gone to the lowest, but to the highest, in the past, for the criteria by which he could discover whether he was indeed the Son of God. But even then, if his self-election to the awful responsibilities of the Messianic office had depended wholly on the authority of Scripture or tradition, we can assure ourselves that he would never have made that election, and the hills of Judea would never have been the mountains of God. No second-hand command, or transmitted inspiration, could have driven him to the acceptance of this gigantic trust. If that inspiration taught him any thing, it was that he should be true to his own. If David had communed with God upon the star-lit hills, he did not see why he should not as well. Samuel and Isaiah and Jeremiah had heard God speaking to them in their souls. He listened if haply such things might be for him also; nor yet in vain. His reverent ear could catch whole strains of music where they had heard but a confused And what they had seen through a glass darkly, he beheld with open vision. The same God that spoke to
them, spoke to him also, in tones he could not fail to understand. What wonder that, as he listened, his ear became heavy to every harsher sound! Cannot the voice of a friend drown the roar of the multitude? How much more must the voice of God in his soul have drowned the maddened tones of disappointment, the whispers of doubt and fear, the clamor for a conquering king! Had any prophet prophesied, had any dreamer dreamed, had any thinker thought, of a Messiah such as he? No! But should he be false to his own inspiration that he might be true to another man's?
We can but think that he had dreadful doubts sometimes. They confronted him by the Jordan; he wrestled with them in the wilderness. Times there were, no doubt, when his understanding put dreadful questions to his soul; times when he could almost say of God like one before him, "I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name." But, as with that other, "the word in his heart was as a fire shut up in his bones; he was weary with forbearing, and he could not stay."
But once having heard in the depths of his own soul the call to a great work, it was inevitable that Jesus should identify this call with the Messianic expectation. An hour's perusal of the pages of Josephus will reveal to any one into what a distraught and agitated state of things Jesus was born. At such a time, what Jewish mother could have prayed at night without thinking that, perchance, it was the Christchild that she pressed to her bosom? And what youth, whose soul was kindled with theocratic zeal or hatred of the oppressor, or with undefined longings for something better in himself and in the nation than had been yet attained, but must have felt that, perhaps, he and no other was God's chosen servant in the task of renovation and reform? Here, in the community, was the strangest, wildest, and most beautiful hope "for one who should redeem Israel;" and in the heart of Jesus was the call of God, and just in proportion as that call was felt to be imperative, must its object have been identified with the work assigned to the deliverer in the popular conception. To some extent, that conception may have been
modified in his personal thought; but could he have found no point of union between it and his own ideal, he must have condemned himself to silence and obscurity, still working on with Joseph at his carpentry, without even lifting up his voice in exhortation or stretching forth his hands to heal. If the ideal that floated over him had been of any humble sort, he might have worked it out in humble way, anxiously waiting for the Messiah's kingdom, but never longing for its mystic crown. But such it was not. Rather, it was so grand, that, with his antecedents, he must have stood condemned at the bar of his own conscience, had he attempted to realize it in some individual way. He did not covet the responsibili ties of the Messianic work. With all the modesty of the truly great, he shrank from them, and fondly hoped that he might be a follower in the Baptist's train. But his was to be the baptism of the Holy Spirit and with fire.
If, from the beginning of his mission, he could have seen its end, surely, he would not have identified himself with the Messiah's task. But what reformer ever saw the end of his work from the beginning? Did not Cromwell and Luther stand appalled at their own work? God does not call men to do this or that, but to do something great and noble; and often, when it is finished, the work of their own hands surprises them, though it be but the embodiment of his perfect plan. "Why, seeing that times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him, not see his days?" Why, if not that blindness to the future is an essential element in the successful working out of its great problem? And, after all, had not Jesus as good a right as any one to decide on the attributes of the true Messiah, and by them judge of his own fitness for the Messianic work. As it is from great artists. that art gets its laws, is it not from great religious souls that religion borrows its ideals? And may it not be said of Jesus, that from him the Messianic ideal received its finishing touches, and in him it was grandly realized?
REVIEW OF CURRENT LITERATURE.
THOSE who have been drawn by Dr. Noyes's translation to a more careful study of the language of the Testament, and to feel an interest in the questions of text and interpretation which it brings up, will welcome the further help they will find in the handsome companion volume prepared by Mr. Folsom.* His principles of translation differ sufficiently to give that part of his work a value of its own. Its style is a good deal more modern than the other, — with more, probably, to offend the feeling of those who prize the verbal associations they are wonted to, but for that reason more suggestive, often, to those who seek the sense behind the words. A translation, like our Common Version, which has been imbedded in the popular speech, and has colored all our religious phraseology, for nearly three hundred years, stands, in one sense, outside the range of criticism. It has to be assumed as a point of departure, - very much like an original classic, of which all modern versions are so many independent studies from different points of view. The great majority of the public will never care for a different "standard version" than the one they have got. Practically, the best way of dealing with a classic is to keep it, essentially, in the shape we have always known; and freshen it, not by altering that, but by accurate understanding of its points in detail. It is for the sake of the side-light they throw on the version already so familiar, that we feel most indebted to the new attempts at rendering, not for the sake of the substitute they offer. And the existence of an excellent version, like that of Dr. Noyes, is a fresh reason for, not against, a similar study, by one who comes to the task with a purpose and training somewhat different.
The particular value of Mr. Folsom's volume, however, will be found not merely in his theory or his success as a translator; but, still more, in the independent material which he has combined with it. His introductory essay is admirable for the calm, modest, and
*The Four Gospels. Translated from the Greek Text of Tischendorf. With the various readings of Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Meyer, Alford, and others, and with Critical and Expository Notes. By NATHANIEL S. FOLSOM. Boston: A. Williams & Co.