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upon the foundation of the ancient conception of the spirit world.
Nothing is easier than the proof that all these conceptions of the enchanted world with its three wonderlands are neither specifically Christian nor Jewish, but simply belong to the ancient popular belief, and not to it alone. The early Christians were perfectly conscious that they shared this belief with the heathen. That is why they made such frequent use of all these elements in their apologetic writings. The myths and miracles of Jesus are there compared with perfect ingenuousness with their Greek parallels (the earliest passage is in Justin Martyr, First Apology, chaps. xxi. and xxii.): “ If the Christians relate cures of lame and palsied men, and of men sick from their birth, and the raising of the dead, then all this is similar to that which is said to have been done by Asclepius.” The belief in the Resurrection of Jesus has its parallel among the Jews in the report of the risen Baptist, and among the heathen in the belief in Asclepius, who was struck by lightning and ascended into heaven. For the miraculous birth of the Son of God, both friends and foes of Christianity adduced, though with opposite intentions, the corresponding cases of the origin of sons of God amongst the heathen. Though Jesus compared His casting out of devils with that of the Jewish exorcists, this art was not specifically Jewish, but belonged to the ancient world in general. The Jew whom Celsus introduces as the opponent of the Christian, mentions Egyptian, i.e. heathen “Goetes,' who for a few obols cast out devils, blow away diseases, bring up the souls of the dead, etc. The same applies to the prediction
of future events. If we find Christians as early as in the New Testament appealing to the so-called proof from prophecy in order to convince the heathen, they presuppose the fact that their heathen adversaries attach a high value to the gift of divination.
So deeply spread and so deeply rooted was the belief in ecstasy as a divinely-caused state, that the apologists declared that euhemerism—i.e. the attempt to explain the heathen religions by the deification of men—failed because of the fact of oracles. But the agreement of Christians with heathen in the belief in demons is most palpable in the controversy of Origen with Celsus.
Both entirely concur in the assumption of an intermediary race or species of beings who are the givers of all gifts such as bread, wine, water, air, only Celsus calls them demons and Origen angels,so narrow is the dividing line which here separates the friends and the foes of Christianity. A pure monotheist was hardly to be found either then or in the time of Jesus.
Such are some of the reasons that may be advanced in confirmation of the statement that the popular belief of the ancient world is the soil from which Christianity took its rise. In all these conceptions it is a child of its age and no revelation of God. Owing to the rise of science the props which still supported this belief in the midst of Christianity have gradually been withdrawn. Thus originated the great conflict between faith and knowledge. If it were really true, as many of its defenders maintain, that faith in the enchanted world constitutes the substance of Christianity, then, of course, the doom of our religion would be sealed.
CHRISTIANITY stands to Judaism indubitably in a relationship at once of the closest affinity and yet of the most striking contrast. What did it take over from Judaism? What did it reject? It rejected the Jewish idea, the pivot on which Judaism turns. To all its other elements it stands in a positive relationship; although the part which it rejected, involved as a necessary consequence an inner transformation of the whole Jewish system.
What is the Jewish idea ? It is the conception of religion as a legal, a national system. Nowhere else was it developed with such uncompromising severity. Speaking generally, religion is for the Jews a system of law (vóuos) which is definitely drawn up between a particular God and a particular people. In contrast to all the false religions of the Gentiles, the true religion is the Jewish law (or constitution). The God of the whole world, so it is said, granted to Israel alone its law in order to give them the whole earth for their inheritance, provided they were faithful citizens under this law, so that all other people might accept the law of Israel and become its subjects. Technically speaking, that is the formal principle of Judaism. The material may readily be inferred from the contents of the law. That is, it is nothing else than Jewish national custom conceived as the commandments of God. In other words, it is the sum of all the ceremonial judicial and social peculiarities whereby, in the course of time, the Jews imagined that they were differentiated from their neighbours. In the forefront they placed circumcision and claimed it to be the distinctive sign of the tribe. A bold claim, and one that rested
no historical foundation—the early Christians knew that already. Then followed prescriptions as to the taxes to be paid to God and His holy servants, the ceremonial regulating attendance at the Holy Place and the worship to be there tendered, penal laws and those regarding compensation, and commandments relating to moral and many other matters. All this together constituted the immensely complicated body of laws to which God had bound Himself and His people. To be religious meant to be a citizen of this state, to belong to the Jewish Church.
For the Church is simply the converse of this constitution. It is exactly the same thing if you call Judaism a Church or if you call it a constitution. The Church is the realization of the law which exists at first as an idea. There never was a time when the Church excluded true piety on the part of the individual, but the emphasis was laid on that which affected the community—nay, more, on that which affected it as a codified system of law. The Church is religion conceived as a spiritual State. Such was the position of Judaism from the exile onwards that it could only exist as a spiritual State
in the midst of the world powers. In the time of Jesus religion meant a legal code and a Church.
It is well known that Jesus did not come forward as the opponent of the law or of the Church, but as the enemy of the Scribes and Pharisees. The simple reason of this is that they are the visible representatives of the Jewish law. For this law demanded a very minute acquaintance. It needed men to act as commentators and to develop it still further. It was not something that had been laid down once for all. It was constantly growing. Only one portion was committed to writing in the Thora. The greater part, the customary law, was handed down by oral tradition. And the written law itself was composed in a dead language. Besides this, the whole was very complicated and very learned. Hence the necessity of a learned caste—the theologians who are, of course, rather to be considered as lawyers. They formed a close corporation into which a man only entered, and that for life, after long years spent as disciple at the feet of honoured masters, and after due ordination. Nothing could possibly exceed the esteem in which this caste was held. The Scribes were God's mediators and revealers—the only living authority in God's stead. All others were laymen and in the position of minors. Such was Jesus. Hence His attitude of opposition.
Now the aim and object of the Pharisaic propaganda was to drive this learned system into the heads of the people. The Pharisees wanted to see the law, which the Scribes first of all distilled as pure theory, in a position of practical and universal supremacy. They were zealous in good works; they loved a typical