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dom to come. Complete passivity is man's duty. He must wait, and he must hope, and make ready in serious earnest. Between this world and the next stand the catastrophe and the resurrection of the dead and the judgment to come. It is perfectly immaterial whether this life and the next stand to each other, as they do in the popular conception, in the relation of the deed and its reward; or, as from a deeper point of view, in the relation of seed and harvest. In each case the strictly supernatural character of the promise is retained.

The early Christians clearly felt and expressed their dependence upon the Jewish religion. They called their God the God of the Fathers; they declared the Old Testament to be their sacred book ; they took the prophecies and the apocalypses as the basis of their hope. It was only the Jewish idea, the law, that they decisively rejected after a short period of hesitation; and even this only with the help of allegorical explanations which served to hide the defection from their eyes. But from the second century onwards, Christianity separates into two great movements. The one endeavours to realize the theory that the Christians are the true Israel, and finally gives the Jewish Church a fresh lease of life in Roman Catholicism. The other movement proceeds in part with rapid strides, and in part gradually, to the Hellenization of Christianity, to its transformation into Greek philosophy and mysticism; but in so doing it clearly shows us that in disassociating itself from Judaism, it has disassociated itself from the Gospel, which has this in common with Judaism, that it is a religion of practical morality.




WHEN the early Christians maintained that Jesus had come into the world in the fulness of the time, they were not at all thinking of an especially favourable conjunction of affairs in the world, but simply of the termination of that apocalyptic age—the duration of which was unknown to themselves — which God had determined should precede the end of all things. The historian, too, has to exercise the greatest caution in the use that he makes of such statements as to the necessity of any occurrence in history. Even if he can prove in a general way that the conditions favourable to this or that event were present, he has done no more thereby than to point out that the thing was possible in the abstract. For who can say that these conditions were not already present a few decades earlier, or were present in a still more favourable degree a few decades later? By the side of the proof that the age was especially favourable to the spread of the Gospel, it would be possible to advance the counter proof with almost equally cogent arguments that the rapid transformation and decay of Christianity was due to the unfavourable circumstances of the age. It is sufficient for our present purpose to draw attention to some especially important characteristics of the position of Judaism in that age, without drawing any conclusions from them beyond what the actual facts warrant.

First, then, we have the facts that throughout the Mediterranean countries we find a type of civilization which was on the whole uniform, and that the Jews were affected by it. This is shown above all by the universal supremacy of the Greek language into which the Old Testament was translated, in which the Jews philosophized, which St Paul spoke and understood, in which the greatest portion of early Christian literature was written. Community of language implies to a very great extent community of thought. Traces of this community we find in the latest books of the Old Testament, but above all in Alexandrian Judaism. The Jews take possession first of the forms of Greek literature—we even find hexameters in the Sibylline books, then of the conceptions and of the aims and objects of Greek philosophy.

Cosmology and ethics are developed into sciences in the Greek sense of the word ; allegory becomes the connecting link between the Jewish word and the Greek spirit. We can already trace the first steps of that Jewish apologetic and criticism which paved the way for their Christian successors. The earliest form of Christianity is little influenced by all this, as long as it does not go beyond the boundaries of Palestine. The Greek spirit had no influence upon Jesus either directly or indirectly. But even the great missionary, who in many ways

betrayed so anti-Greek, or at least anti-philosophical an instinct, cannot avoid contact with Greek conceptions.

The literature of the sub-apostolic age, then, consciously throws the bridge over to the Greek world. Besides this, the guild system, which had grown up amongst the Jews of the dispersion, and was afterwards taken over by the Christians, was a creation of the Greek mind, which managed to bring together again in new combinations the individual atoms that were floating about separately in that great cosmopolitan age, when all old bonds were in process of dissolution.

The mingling of religions was a prominent factor in the civilization of that


It was effected consciously by the propaganda of the Oriental religions, unconsciously by the strange intermixture of all nations. This, too, was a preparation for Christianity. The only question is whether Christianity had not from the very first partaken of all these foreign elements, since Judaism, from which it had sprung, had been drawn into the process of decomposition. If in reality the Babylonian, Persian, Syrian, Egyptian, and Greek religions had been influencing later Judaism from all the different quarters of this chaos of people, then Christianity would have acquired its character of world-religion even from its very origin.

We are scarcely in a position yet to put these questions, let alone answering them. One thing is certain, that Jesus and His Gospel are intelligible from Judaism alone; and for this, for Jesus and for His relation to Palestinian Judaism, other and more accurate data are available. He appeared in the last

dying moments of the theocracy and before the exclusive rule of the Rabbis which succeeded it. Here, it is true, it can be affirmed that only a few decades later the origin of Christianity would be inconceivable. The political situation was a decisive factor in this case. The little Jewish people had freed itself from the embrace of the vast surrounding empire in a magnificent struggle for liberty, only soon after to share the fate of every other Mediterranean country and bow the neck beneath the Roman yoke. It retained, however, its hatred of the foreigner and its aspirations for liberty, and consoled itself with the thought of its glorious future. It was these feelings, passions, and Utopias that gave birth to the last terrible insurrection which ended in destruction. Now Christianity arose while the ground was being prepared for this insurrection. In the New Testament itself mention is made of the Zealots, of the murder of the Galileans, of false Christs, all signs of this preparation. Through its most distinctive phrases, Kingdom of God' and Messiah,' the

• Gospel stands in the closest and most direct connection with this period of political ferment. It precedes the judgment of the year 70 A.D., exactly as the old prophecy once preceded the fall of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

In the next place we have to endeavour to present to ourselves the state of feeling among the Jews before Jesus appeared. It was a mysterious and a restless age. True, there was no lack of mercenary souls and of worldlings, who, leaving the future to take care of itself, devoted themselves to deriving what profit and pleasure they could from the passing moment. Jesus


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