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cally ; for love, the principle of practical conduct, is also an element,
and has to be considered if the object is to be apprehended in the
totality of its momenta. That Christian love was a conspicuous
element in the apostle's character all that we know of his life and
work leads us to believe. Here however we are more iiomediately
concerned with such traits as are provided in his writings, and
with the stamp of his essential spiritual character that is impressed
upon them ; and the place he has assigned to the element of love
even in his dialectical thinking is noticed only as a proof how free he
was in the whole attitude of his spirit from all onesidedness. Faith
was nothing to him in itself, if it did not work through love; he could
not rest satisfied with a merely abstract theoretical view of anything;
his spirit urged him from the theoretical to the practical, from the
abstract to the concrete, from the essential thought to the realities
of life. The end which he thus kept in view was of course the com-
munion of Christian life inspired with the principle of love. This is
well illustrated by those two sections of the First Epistle to the Cor-
inthians in which the apostle expresses his views on the subjects of
eating the flesh of idolatrous sacrifices, and of speaking with tongues.
The eating of the heathen sacrifices seems to have been in itself a
thing of complete indifference to him ; yet he regards it as very im-
portant that the fact that the practice was objectioi^able to many
Christians should be recognised, and care taken not to wound them.
This consideration must be taken into account in order to a proper



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280 LIFE AND WOBK OF PAUL. [Part III.

settlement of the question ; and as soon as the question is regarded
from this point of view it ceases to be indifferent to religion ; it
acquires an importance which it might not of itseK possess. In
the latter of the two sections we named, a place is even more dis-
tinctly and emphatically assigned to love, or the consideration due
to others, to the common good, as a very important element in
arriving at a decision. In this case we see very clearly how it is
just in this practical side of the matter that the dialectical solution
of the whole problem is sought and obtained. It is very obvious
throughout that the apostle cares very little for the speaking with
tongues. He does not however regard it as unchristian, he recog-
nises it as one of the various forms in which the spirit which dwells
in Christians finds expression. So he goes on to give it its definite
position in the number of the Christian charisms, and to insist
that each charism has an equal right to be considered, as making
up along with the rest the unity of the whola Thus though the
XaTielv yXwaaac^ be in Itself a charism, yet its true, real value
depends on its practical operation, on its being through love a
means to the furtherance of the common Christian life. From this
point of view the apostle pronounces a judgment on the XaXelv
yktoaaai^ which amounts to this : that from its small practical
utility it ought to be as far as possible restricted. Thus we see
how in every case it is the apostle's object to exhaust the subject
he has in hand in all its logical bearings, and to bring his discus-
sion to a stage where the confronting momenta are mediated
dialectically in the unity of the conception. The apostle's whole
representation, religious as it is, is filled to overflowing with the
forms and elements of thought ; it is not only, what is commonly
recognised as the great merit of the apostle's writmgs, that thought
follows hard on thought ; more than this, thoughts succeed each
other as determinations and momenta of some one conception that
is greater than all of them ; the thought unfolds itself, brings forth
its own contents out of its own depths, and determines itself by
taking up its own momenta. Hence the peculiar stamp of the
apostle's language : it is distinguished on the one hand for pre-



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Chap. IX.] FEATUBES OF TEE APOSTLE'S CHARACTER, 281

cision and compression ; on the other hand it is marked by a
harshness and roughness which suggest that the thought is far too
weighty for the language, and can scarcely find fit forms for the
superabundant matter it would fain express.^ Yet in one way the
form actually used is not uncongenial to the contents; the
language is Hellenistic Greek, an easy and flexible instrument, and
well fitted for such a peculiar writer.

The traits we have dwelt on thus far give us as their result a mind
naturally and perfectly adapted to take up into itself and to develop
the free, universal, and absolute principle of Christianity. This, how-
ever, is only one side of his individuality ; there is another which we
must not disregard. It is a thing of course that even so eminent
a mind as Paul's is subject to a certain limitation. It is nothing
but what we had to expect that besides all the splendid gifts that
distinguished him we should find also a certain onesidedness, a con-

^ The apostle indicates, 2 Cor. xi 6, that he is not unconscious of this. He
says he is ct kw, Idi&rrjs r^ Xoy^, aXX' ov rg yvcoo-ci, a phrase which can refer to
nothing but the struggle which it cost his thought to find expression. As for
his language and style it has long been remarked, and very justly, that it bears
a great resemblance to that of Thucydides. (We may mention the well-known
work of Bauer, Philologia Thucydideo-PauUina, 1773, whicb, however, is merely
a " notatio figurarum dictionis Paullinae cum Thucydidea comparatae,'' and deals
chiefly with the outward expression.) As speech is the expression of inward
thought, this similarity of modes of expression must be referred to a deeper simi-
larity, namely of the mental idiosyncrasy of the two men. Such passages as 1
Cor. iv. 12, 13 ; vii. 29-31 ; ix. 20, 21 ; 2 Cor. vi. 9, 10 have the true ring of
Thucydides, not only in expression, but in the style of thought. The genuine
dialectical spirit appears in both in the love of antithesis and contrast, rising not
unfrequently to paradox. Antithesis serves the dialectically thinking mind
simply as a means to obtain a direct grasp of the conception in the whole of its
bearings ; it confronts the one with the other, negatives the one through the
other, that the conception may thus determine itself through negation and affir-
mation. The analogy may be traced still further. Thucydides' critical method
of dealing with history necessarily involved a breach with the great national con-
sciousness which lived and had its being in the happy child-like Homeric-mythi-
cal theory of the world, proceeding to exhibit the conflict of lonism and Dorism
as a conflict within the larger whole, the nation. In the same way the apostle
Paul could not take up the position of Christian universalism, in which the opposi-
tion of heathenism was done away, without renouncing the absolute importance
of Judaism. , With both these men the ties of national particularism give way
before the generalizing tendency of their thought, and cosmopolitanism takes
the place of nationalism.



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282 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part III.

sciousness in some way honfi^, a national particularism, which go to
make up this definite individual character which we have before us.
In our development of the Pauline doctrine the reader will remem-
ber how we came here and there on points in which it could not be
denied that the thoughts and views of Judaism were still discernible,
circumscribing his sphere of vision, directing his attention too ex-
clusively to the future, and causing him to overleap momenta, which,
from a freer and more universal standpoint, could not have been
left unnoticed. Then his expectation of the parousia— here we
see how his mind was influenced by the not very enlightened
national expectations that were current at the time, insomuch that
he expresses a firm belief that Christ's second coming would take
place in a short time, and that he with his contemporaries would
not need to pass through death and the resurrection, but would be
changed without dying. We have already shown that this view is
not to be pressed to the apostle's disadvantage to such an extent as
some writers have done : and it is of importance in this regard not
to attribute to him anything that cannot be shown &om Epistles
undoubtedly genuine to have been an element of his faith and
thought Yet this characteristic fact remains, that a view so mani-
festly peculiar and limited to the age in which it arose, and soon
to be left behind as events and thoughts moved forward, had such
influence as we see it had on the apostle's consciousness. In this
case his view is narrowed by an idea peculiar to the nation and
the time ; but his whole position with reference to the Old Testa-
ment is another such restriction. It was in opposition to the Old
Testament that he became aware of the perfect freedom of his Chris-
tian position, and everything that formed in his eyes an element of
Christian freedom was at the same time a liberation from the yoke
of the law, and from the imperfection and limitation of the Old
Testament dispensation. Yet, on the other hand, how much do we
see him bound to the Old Testament, tied to the very letter of it ?
He rests his demonstrations of the most important positions of his
doctrine on inferences from passages of the Old Testament, and that
not merely out of regard for those to whom the Old Testament was



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Chap. IX.] FEATURES OF THE APOSTLE'S CHARACTER. 283

the supreme authority, in order to make it easier for them to believe
in the Christian doctrine, but because the Old Testament is to him
the source of all objective truth, the ultimate authority on which
the certainty of the Christian faith must rest When he reminds
his readers of the cardinal facts of Christianity, that Christ died for
our sins, that he was buried and rose again on the third day, he does
not omit to add that this happened according to the Scriptures, 1 Cor.
XV. 3, 4. The more he wants to establish the truth of any doctrine
and preclude all doubt of it, the more does he labour to prove it from
passages of the Old Testament. Even that most important tnith of
all, in which the whole doctrine of salvation consists, that the true
righteousness which avails before God is not to be attained by works
of the law, but only by faith, even this doctrine is made to rest
directly on the fact that even in the Old Testament Abraham believed
God, and that this faith was imputed to him for righteousness. Bom.
iv. 1 sq. If, the apostle argues. Gal. iii 7, one can only be saved as a
descendant of Abraham, then those are the sons of Abraham who
are saved through faith ; and as the promise was given to Abraham,
that in him all nations should be blessed, this promise is now ful-
filled in the fact that Grod justifies the heathen through faith. The
promise was given to Abraham because the Scripture foresaw this
event at the time when it was written. Christian faith is thus
related to the Old Testament as the fulfilment to the promise : the .
former could not have taken place without the latter. And yet,
as the apostle assures us in other passages, nothing can be more
immediately certain than that which the Christian consciousness
declares as its essential contents, or that which the divine spirit
that is given to the Christian testifies to him.

The more the apostle enters into details in the inferences he draws
from the Old Testament, the more striking does this dependence of
the Christian consciousness on it appear. It is an authority lying
outside of consciousness, and the deference paid to it arises simply
from a personal subJQctive limitation. The most striking instances
of this are to be found in two passages of the Epistle to the Galatians,
in which, as is now acknowledged universally, the apostle deals with



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284 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part III.

the Old Testament passages from wHcIi he is reasoning in a quite
arbitraiy way, and gives them a sense which they never could have
home. With regard to the passage, Gen. xxii 18, which he takes
up, Gal. iii 16, he simply adopts the interpretation which was
usually given it by the Jews at the time. The seed of Abrahani,
in which all the nations of the earth are to be blessed, he does
not take to be t/he posterity of Abraham generally, though this is
obviously the meaning of the expression, but one person, an
individual, Christ. He deals with the passages Gen. xvi. 15, xxi.
2 even more capriciously. His whole proof is nothing but a play
of allegory, and has no force whatever to prove anything. The
whole argument is erected on the distinction shown to have existed
between Isaac and Ishmael, the two sons of Abraham, that the
former was the son of a slave, while the other was bom not only
not a slave, but in consequence of a special divine promise. In vir-
tue of this difference they are made to represent the two huiOfjKai.
Ishmael, the slave by birth, stands for the law, because the law
places men in a position of bondage before God. The apostle
failed, however, to consider how little the subsequent history of
the two sons of Abraham fits in with the allegorical interpretation
he gives it Ishmael is made to represent the law, but the Mosaic
legislation never touched the sons of IshmaeL It was they
who were free from the law, while those for whom the law was
given were none but the posterity of Isaac, the type here of the
BtaOrjKTf of freedom ; and the promise connected with the person
of Isaac, in regard to which he was to be a type of Christians as
reKva r^ hrayyeXla^, was only fulfilled by means of circumcision
and the Mosaic law, and the whole theocratic dispensation con-
nected with the law. Not only have the apostle's allegorical
demonstrations out of the Old Testament no objective basis in the
Old Testament itself, — they actually conflict with it

There could be nothing more absurd than the efforts made by
interpreters to show the apostle's argumentoiiion to be objectively
true. Flatt, for example, remarks on this passage : " The apostle
received special divine instruction with a view to his expositions



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Chap. IX.] FEATURES OF TEE APOSTLE'S CHABACTEB. 285

of doctrine, and in that instruction the idea was communicated to
hiTTi that Sarah and Hagar were types in the way he states. Thus
he had a right to say that this history meant something else, had
an inner meaning, that with regard to God's intention it was to be
considered as a type, even though the author who wrote the his-
tory never thought of such a thing. The proposition, — This history
has an inner meaning, is not, however, the same as the proposition^
— ^When God caused the history in question to be narrated, he in-
tended that it should be a prophecy in the form of a symbol :
although we have a right to assume that in guiding the Old Testa-
ment writers God did not neglect to provide that the history should
contain a certain amount of instruction for the future." What
does all this mean ? What a narrow petty theology is this ! And
what end does it serve ? The apostle's subjective and capricious
imagination, the mere play of his fancy, is to have its objective
ground in the very spirit of God ! And is the contradiction of
historical truth which we find here removed by referring it back
from the apostle to God himself? Luther had a healthier sense of
truth, and judged : " The allegory of Sarah and Hagar will not
hold water, for it is at variance with historical reason." This is
the only true way of looking on the apostle's argument here ; and
thus the passage affords us a very curious proof of the position, both
free and not free, which he occupied with regard to the Old Testa-
ment. In Ms view of the law that it places man altogether in the
position of a bondman before God, a position of which the Christian
consciousness knows nothing, he shows the greatest freedom of
spirit, a seK-assurance that h£is completely cast away all bonds of
external authority. Here, on the other hand, we see him still con-
fined to the old way of thinking about the Old Testament as if
there were no other. For there cannot be a doubt that his allegory
appeared to him to be the true sense of the Old Testament history,
as an objective truth vouched for by the Old Testament. The Old
Testament law is to be of force no longer, it has no power to con-
strain the religious consciousness; and yet the Old Testament
stands before his mind with the undiminished weight of its divine



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286 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL, [Part III.

authority. A thing that is objectively certain to him, being the
immediate utterance of his self-consciousness, must yet, after all,
be recommended and proved to him out of the Old Testament. The
Old Testament itself is made to furnish proof that the law, its most
essential part, has no longer any authority. The apostle makes out
his case by means of allegory ; allegory is to him, as to his contem-
poraries, the equivocal expedient by which, while making use of the
Old Testament, he yet cuts himself oflf from it, and places himseK
above it. Allegory holds to the Old Testsmient as its necessary ob-
ject, and rests all its proofs upon it ; yet it only plays with the
Old Testament, since the allegorist has already placed himself above
it, though not fully conscious that he has done so. Yet, freely as
he uses the Old Testament in his allegorical interpretations of it,
allegory is itself the strongest proof of his subjection to it ; for
otherwise he never could endure the unnatural restraint that
allegory imposes on him. It might be urged that the two ex-
amples we have mentioned of arbitrary allegorical interpretation
occur in the Epistle to the Galatians, undoubtedly the oldest that
the apostle wrote, and in which his view of the law is not so fully
developed as in the later Epistles. We must, however, remind
the reader of 1 Cor. x. 1 sq., a passage which shows us as distinctly
asthe others how fully the apostle shared with his contemporaries
the allegorical ideas current in his time.

These limitations of the apostle's individuality on its intellectual
side are little more than the widest and most general limitations,
those of time and country. It cannot be required of any man that
he should not wear the character of his time. Yet the more a man
is conscious of the boundaries he lives in, the freer will be his
attitude towards them, and the more will he be inclined to remem-
ber the limits to which every human individuality is subject, and
to show to others the fullest consideration. How the apostle's
spiritual freedom appeared in his regard and indulgence for weaker
fellow-Christians, we have already shown. Yet we must add that
in his dealings with others the apostle did not invariably maintain
this standpoint He cannot be said to have always looked at



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Chap. IX.] FEATURES OF THE APOSTLE'S CHARACTER. 287

others from without, and to have been independent of his own
subjective feelings. However convinced he was of the reality of
his apostolical calling and of the absolute truth of his doctrine,
still that cannot excuse his excesses in judging of his adversaries,
and failing to distinguish involuntary from voluntary errors.
Eiickert remarks very justly on 2 Cor. ii. 17, that "Paul was apt
to judge his opponents very harshly, and to impute motives for
their conduct, which, in all probability, were not the true ones ;
since what he attributed to an unholy disposition might in many
cases be the natural, and, considering the circumstances, must
almost have been the necessary, outcome of honest prejudice (cf.
Gral. i 7, ii. 4, vi 12), This harshness was part of his character as
it was in the case of our own Eeformer." He applies the same
observation to the passage 2 Cor. xi. 12. What Eiickert calls a
harshness of character arises from inability to abstract from one's
own subjective feelings, and transport one's-self into those of
another. The apostle could not conceive the truth otherwise than
as it appeared to him ; and with regard to the different belief of
another man he could not imagine that it had even a subjective
foundation ; what was asserted in their opinion being all the while
nothing but that Judaism which was native to both them and him.
With this influence which his idiosyncrasy exerted over his judg-
ment of his opponents, we come down to the lower sphere of the
peculiar bias and direction which he derived from character and
temperament. We have already observed how this purely human
side of the apostle appears chiefly in the Second Epistle to the Cor-
inthians. The passage 1 Cor v. may also be compared. It can
scarcely be denied that his character was marked by a certain ex-
citableness or violence, which sometimes made him act precipitately,
and rendered him liable to fitful and sudden changes of emotion.
(This is particularly noticeable in 2 Cor. and in the Epistle to the
Galatians.) We should obtain a deeper insight into the apostle's
individuality, its psychical, and probably also its physical organiza-
tion, if it were possible to form any clear ideas of the nature of the
oTTTcuriai and airoKaKuy^ei^, and the peculiar circumstances accom-



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2«8 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part III.

panjdng them, of which he speaks, 2 Cor. xii. But he gives us here
only vague and distant hints on the subject, and it is impossible
to fix any definite meaning on them, or to form any clear view of
the subject from them. , •

But without this, what we have gathered while seeking for traits
of his character is abundant confirmation of what he says of him-
self, 2 Cor. iv. 7, that he had a divine treasure in an earthen
vessel.



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APPENDICES.



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APPENDIX I.

ON THE LITERATURE OF THE LEGEND OF PETER.
[See Part t. Cliapfcer ixj

The first attack made on this legend proceeded chiefly from a
general distrust of all such facts as were employed to provide a
historical basis for the claims and encroachments of Bome. Such
were the motives of those who either rejected the legend entirely
or expressed grave doubts about it ; first in the middle ages, when
the assailants were parties in opposition, such as the Waldenses, or
the declared enemies of the papacy, such as Marsilius of Padua,
Michael of Casena and others ; and then at the time of the Re-
formation and after it, when the assailants were Protestant histor-
ians, such as Matthias Macius,^ Claudius Salmasius,^ and others,

^ In his work published in the year 1554 : Historia certaminum inter Komanos
Episcopos et sextam Carthaginiensem synodum Africanasque ecclesias, de primatu
seu potestate Papae, bona fide ex authenticis monnmentis collata. Cf. p. 267«
** Non constat plane, Petrum fuisse Romae. Nam quod Papistae scribunt, Petrum
Komae 25 annos docuisse, cum usque ad 18 lerosolymis docuerit, item in Ponto,
ut aliqui tradunt, 5 annis fuerit, et Antiochiae 7, ad hoc etiam cum Babylone
scripserit suam epistolam, propalam falsum est ; inde enim efficeretur, ut longe
ultra Neronis mortem vixisset, a quo tamen interfectus dicitur. Demonstratio
item certa est, Petrum Komae non fuisse, quod Paulus Bomam et Roma scribens,
ac tarn multos mediocres Ghristianos salutans et nominans, nusquam tamen vel
unico verbo Petri tanti viri mentionem faciat." Flacius laid great stress on Gal.
ii., p. 124 : *^ Denique ego omnibus omnium mortalium historiis de Petro illam
ad Galatas secundo a Paulo scriptam praefero. Ibi enim ille primum afiirmat
diserte Petro esse concreditum apostolatum seu episcopatum inter Judaeos, sibi
vero inter gentes seu super gentiles. Deinde narrat, Petrum usque ad concilium
Hierosolymitanum (quod circa 18 annos post ascensionem Christi, et septimo
commenticii papatus Petri celebratum est) potissimum Judaeis praedicasse et de
postero tempore sanctissimum datarum dexterarum foedus secum iniisse : quod

^ Librorum de primatu Papae.. P. 1 cum apparatu. Lugd. Bat. 1645.



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292 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [App. I.

By far the greater number of the Protestant divines, however,
and especially those of the Eeformed Church, who were much
occupied with this field of historical research, considered the
subject to be one calling for impartial treatment, and providing an
opportunity to show their opponents how ready they were to



Online LibraryFerdinand Christian BaurPaul, the apostle of Jesus Christ: his life and work, his epistles ..., Volume 2 → online text (page 28 of 35)