Over the course of thirty years, Hermann Samuel Reimarus () secretly drafted what would become the most thorough attack on revelation to date. REIMARUS, HERMANN SAMUEL (–), German theologian and philosopher. Son of a scholar, grandson of a clergyman, student and son-in-law of J. A. Whilst Hermann Samuel Reimarus has justly received a chapter in the history of biblical criticism, he has lacked a dedicated treatment of his.
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Herausgegeben von Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Braun- schweig,pp.
Published by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Luther had not so much as felt that he cared to gain a clear idea of the order of the recorded events. Speaking of the chronology of the cleansing of the Temple, which in John falls at the beginning, in the Synoptists near the close, of Jesus’ public life, he remarks: If a difficulty arises in regard to the Holy Scripture and we cannot solve bermann, we must just let it alone. Osianderin his “Harmony of the Gospels,” maintained the principle that if an event is recorded more than once in the Gospels, in different connexions, it happened more than once and in different connexions.
The daughter of Jairus was therefore raised from the dead several times; on one occasion Jesus allowed the devils whom He cast out of a single reomarus to enter into a herd of swine, on another occasion, those whom He cast out of two demoniacs; there were two cleansings of the Temple, and so forth.
The only Life of Jesus written prior to the time of Reimarus which has any interest for us, was composed by a Jesuit in the Persian language. In hermajn seventeenth century the Persian text was brought to Europe by a merchant, and was translated into Latin by Louis de Dieu, a theologian of the Reformed Church, whose intention in publishing it was to discredit Catholicism. Thus there had been nothing to prepare the world for a work of such power as that of Reimarus.
It is true, there had appeared earlier, ina Life of Jesus by Johann Jakob Hess written from the standpoint of the older rationalism, but it retains so much supernaturalism and follows so much the lines of a paraphrase of the Gospels, that there was nothing to indicate to the world what a master-stroke the spirit of the time was preparing. Not rekmarus is known about Reimarus. For his contemporaries he had no existence, and it was Strauss who first made his name known in literature.
He died in Several of his writings appeared during his lifetime, all of them asserting the claims of rational religion as against the faith of the Church; one of them, for example, being an essay on “The Leading Truths of Natural Religion.
Hermann Samuel Reimarus
In Lessing began to publish the most important portions of it, and up to had published seven fragments, thereby involving himself in a quarrel with Goetze, the Chief Pastor of Hamburg. The manuscript of the whole, which runs reimarux pages, is preserved in the Hamburg municipal library.
The following are the titles of Fragments which he published: The Toleration of the Deists. The Decrying of Reason in the Pulpit. The Passing of the Israelites through the Red Sea. Showing that the books of the Old Testament were not written to reveal a Religion. Concerning the story of the Resurrection. The Aims of Jesus and His Disciples.
The monograph on the passing of the Israelites through the Red Sea is one of the ablest, wittiest, and most acute which has ever been written.
It exposes all the impossibilities of the narrative in the Priestly Codex, and all the inconsistencies which arise from the combination of various sources; although Reimarus has not the slightest inkling that the separation of these sources would afford the real solution of the problem.
To say that the fragment on “The Reimaruss of Jesus and His Disciples” is a magnificent piece of work is barely to do it justice. This essay is not only one of the greatest events in the history of criticism, it is also a masterpiece of general literature.
At times, however, it rises to heights of passionate feeling, and then it is as though the fires of a volcano were painting lurid pictures upon dark clouds. Seldom has there been a hate so eloquent, so lofty a scorn; but then it is seldom that a work has been written in the just consciousness of so absolute a superiority to contemporary opinion.
And withal, there is dignity and serious purpose; Reimarus’ work is no pamphlet. Lessing could not, of course, accept its standpoint. His idea of revelation, and his conception of the Person of Jesus, were much deeper than those of the Fragmentist. He was a thinker; Reimarus only a historian. But this was the first time that a really historical mind, thoroughly conversant with the sources, had undertaken the criticism of the tradition.
It was Lessing’s greatness that he grasped the significance of this criticism, and felt that it must lead either to the destruction or to the recasting of the idea of revelation. He recognised that the introduction of the historical element would transform and deepen rationalism. Convinced that the fateful moment had arrived, he disregarded the scruples of Reimarus’ family and the objections of Nicolai and Mendelssohn, and, though inwardly trembling for that which he himself held sacred, he flung the torch with his own hand.
Semler, at the close of his refutation of the fragment, ridicules its editor in the following apologue. He had been seen coming down from the upper story of the burning house. In the course of the night it would have burned down, and set fire to the stairs.
To make sure that the fire should break out in the day-time, I threw some straw upon it. The flames burst out at the skylight, the fire-engines came hurrying up, and the fire, which in the night might have been dangerous, was promptly extinguished. His object was to show how an unseen enemy had pushed his parallels up to the very walls, and to summon to the defence “some one who should be as nearly the ideal defender of religion as the Fragmentist was the ideal assailant.
It is contained in two phrases of identical meaning, “Repent, and believe the Gospel,” or, as it is put elsewhere, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. That means that Jesus took His stand within the Jewish religion, and accepted its Messianic expectations without in any way correcting them. If He gives a new development to this religion it is only in so far that He proclaims as near at hand the realisation of ideals and hopes which were alive in thousands of hearts.
There was thus no need for detailed instruction regarding the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven; the catechism and confession of the Church at its commencement consisted of a single phrase. Belief was not difficult: This was the sum total of what the disciples knew about the Kingdom of God when they were sent out by their Master to proclaim its coming.
The Quest of the Historical Jesus
Their hearers would naturally think of the customary meaning of the term and the hopes which attached themselves to it. The Gospel, therefore, meant nothing more or less to all who heard it than that, under the leadership of Jesus, the Kingdom of Messiah was about to be brought in. For them there was no difficulty in accepting the belief that He was the Messiah, the Son of God, for this belief did not involve anything metaphysical.
The nation was the Son of God; the sauel of the covenant-people were Sons of God; the Messiah was in a pre-eminent sense the Son of God.
Thus even in His Messianic claims Jesus remained “within the limits of humanity. The parables do not enlighten us, for they presuppose a knowledge of the conception. Only those who carry the teachings of the catechism back into the preaching of the Jewish Messiah will arrive at the idea that He was the founder of a new religion. Hermabn all unprejudiced persons it is manifest “that Jesus had not the slightest intention of doing away with the Jewish religion and putting another in its place.
If there was anything at all new reimarhs The quotations inserted without special introduction are, of course, from Reimarus. Schweitzer’s method to lead up by a paragraph of exposition to one of these characteristic phrases. The righteousness of the Law will no longer suffice in the time of the coming Kingdom; a new and deeper morality must come into being. This demand is the only point in which the preaching of Jesus went beyond the ideas of His contemporaries.
But this new morality does not do away sajuel the Law, for He explains it as a fulfilment of the old commandments. His followers, no doubt, broke with the Law later on. They did so, however, not in pursuance of a command of Jesus, but under the pressure of circumstances, at the time when they were forced out of Judaism and obliged to found a new religion. Jesus shared the Jewish racial exclusiveness wholly and unreservedly.
His purpose did not embrace them. Had it been otherwise, the hesitation of Peter in Acts x. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are no evidence that Jesus intended to found a new religion. In the first place the genuineness of the command to baptize in Matt.
In this it is inconsistent with the earliest traditions regarding the practice of baptism in the Christian community, for in the earliest times, as we learn from the Rejmarus and from Paul, it was the custom to baptize, not in the name of the Trinity, but in the name of Jesus, the Messiah.
But, furthermore, it is questionable whether Baptism really goes back to Jesus at all. He Himself baptized no one in His own lifetime, and never commanded any of His converts to be baptized. So we cannot be sure about the origin of Baptism, though we can be sure of its meaning. Baptism in the name of Jesus signified only that Jesus was the Messiah.
It is useless to appeal to the miracles, any more than to the “Sacraments,” as evidence for the founding of a new religion.
Hermann Samuel Reimarus – Oxford Reference
In the first place, 19 we have to remember what happens in the case of miracles handed down by tradition. That Jesus effected cures, which in the eyes of His contemporaries were miraculous, is not to be denied. Their purpose was to prove Him to be the Messiah. He forbade these miracles to be made known, even in cases where they could not possibly be kept hidden, “with the sole purpose of making people more eager to talk of them.
Hermann Samuel Reimarus | German philosopher |
He did no really miraculous works; otherwise, the demands for a sign would be incomprehensible. In Jerusalem when all the people were looking eagerly for an overwhelming manifestation of His Messiahship, what a tremendous effect a miracle would have produced! If only a single miracle had been publicly, convincingly, undeniably, performed by Jesus before smuel the people on one of the great days of the Feast, such is human nature that all the people would at once have nocked to His standard.
Reumarus this popular uprising, however, He waited in vain. Twice He be- lieved that it was near at hand. The first time was when He was sending out the disciples and said to them: He thought that, at the rei,arus of the disciples, the people would flock to Him from every quarter and immediately proclaim Him Messiah; but His expectation was disappointed.
The second time, He thought to bring about the decisive issue in Jerusalem.
He made His entry riding on an ass’s colt, that the Messianic prophecy of Zechariah might be fulfilled. And the people actually did cry “Hosanna to the Son of David! In the sammuel He arrogates to Himself supreme power, and in glowing words calls for an open revolt against the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees, on the ground that they have shut the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven and forbidden others to go in.
There is no doubt, now, that He will carry the people with Him! Confident in the success of His cause, He closes the great incendiary harangue in Matt.
But the people in Jerusalem refused to rise, as the Galilaeans had refused at the time when the disciples were sent out to rouse them. The Council prepared for vigorous action. The voluntary concealment by which Jesus had thought to whet the eagerness of the people became involuntary. For if they had given up anything on His account, it was only in order to receive it again an hundredfold when they hedmann openly take their places in the eyes of all the world as the friends and ministers of the Messiah, as the rulers of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus never disabused them of this sensuous hope, but, on the contrary, confirmed them in it.