T. R. (Terrot Reaveley) Glover.

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THE

JESUS OF HISTORY



BY

T. R. GLOVER

FELLOW OF ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE
UNIVERSITY LECTURER IN ANCIENT HISTORY



WITH A FOREWORD

BY

THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY



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124 East 28th Street, New York
1917






THE NEW YORK
PHBL Tr ' LIBRARY

823028

ASTOR LENOX AND
JTILDEN FOUNDATIONS
;R {918 L



Copyright, 1917, by
T. R. GLOVER



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



TO

RICHARD GLOVER



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FOREWORD

I regard it as a high privilege to be associated with
this volume. Many who know and value Mr. Glover's
work on The Conflict of Religions in the Early Roman
Empire must have wistfully desired to secure from his
graphic pen just such a book as is here given to the
world. He possesses the rare power of reverently handling
familiar truths or facts in such manner as to make them
seem to be almost new. There are few gifts more precious
than this at a time when our familiarity with the greatest
and most sacred of all narratives is a chief hindrance to
our ready appreciation of its living power. I believe
that no one will read Mr. Glover's chapters, and especially
his description of the parable-teaching given by our
Lord, without a sense of having been introduced to
a whole series of fresh and fruitful thoughts. He has
expanded for us with the force, the clearness, and the
power of vivid illustration which we have learned to
expect from him, the meaning of a sentence in the earlier
volume I have alluded to, where he insists that, "Jesus
of Nazareth does stand in the center of human history,
that He has brought God and man into a new relation,
that He is the present concern of every one of us and
that there is more in Him than we have yet accounted
for." 1

In accordance with its title, the single theme of the

1 The Conflict of Religions in the Early Roman Empire, p. 157

v



vi FOREWORD

book is "The Jesus of History," but the student or ex-
ponent of dogmatic theology will find abundant material
in its pages.

I commend it confidently, both to single students
and to those who nowadays, in happily increasing num-
bers, meet together for common study; and I congratu-
late those who belong to the Student Christian Movement
upon this notable addition to the books published in
connection with their far-reaching work.

RANDALL CANTUAR.

Lambeth,
Advent Sunday, 1916.



PREFACE

This book has grown out of lectures upon the historical
Jesus given in a good many cities of India during the
winter of 1915-16. Recast and developed, the lectures
were taken down in shorthand in Calcutta; they were
revised in Madras; and most of them were wholly re-
written, where and when in six following months leisure
was available, in places so far apart as Colombo, Maymyo,
Rangoon, Kodaikanal, Simla, and Poona. The reader
will not expect a heavy apparatus of references to books
which were generally out of reach.

Here and there are incorporated passages (re-
handled) from articles that have appeared in The
Conservative Quarterly, The Nation, The Expositor, and
elsewhere.

Those who themselves have tried to draw the like-
ness attempted in this book will best understand, and
perhaps most readily forgive, failures and mistakes, or even
worse, in my drawing. The aim of the book, as of the
lectures, is, after all, not to achieve a final presentment
of the historical Jesus, but to suggest lines of study
that will deepen our interest in him and our love of
him.

T. R. G.

Poona, August, 1916



?u



PUBLISHERS' NOTE

"The Jesus of History" was prepared for the British
Student Christian Movement, and published in Great
Britain by that organization. The author is so well-
known in this country, especially among students, that it
has seemed to the publishers that his suggestive book
should be made available in America.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I
THE STUDY OF THE GOSPELS

PAGE

Modern study of religion 1

Historicity of Jesus 5

The Gospels as historical sources 7

Canons for the study of a historical figure 18

A caution against antiquarianism here 21

CHAPTER II

CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH

References in Gospels 24

Utilization of the parables to reconstruct the domestic life . . 26
Nature. The city. The talk of the market 29-35

CHAPTER III

THE MAN AND HIS MIND

Words and looks, as recorded in the Gospels 43

Playfulness of speech 47

Movements of feeling 49

Habits of thought:

e.g. Quickness. Feeling for fact. Sympathy. Imagination. 51-55

His use of the Old Testament 59

CHAPTER IV
THE TEACHER AND THE DISCIPLES

The Background
Hardness of human life in those times 63



x THE JESUS OF HISTORY

PAGE

Uncertainty as to God's plans for the nation — specially as to

His purposes for the Messiah 67

Uncertainty as to the immortality of the soul, and its

destinies 68

Reaction of all this upon life 69

The Problem Before the Teacher

To induce people to try to re-think God 70

To secure the re-thinking of life from its foundations in view

of the new knowledge 72

The Teacher and the Disciples

His personality, and his genius for friendship 73

The disciples — the type he prefers 77

Intimacy, the real secret of his method 78

His ways of speech 81

His seriousness 83

The transformation of the disciples 85



CHAPTER V
THE TEACHING OF JESUS UPON GOD

Jesus' own God-Consciousness

The nearness of God 89

God's knowledge and power 90

God's throne 91

Jesus emphasizes mostly God's interest in the individual

— the love of God 92

The Knowledge of God

The discovery of God 97

Parables of the treasure finder and the pearl merchant 101

Faith in God 104

Prayer 106

Life on the basis of God 113



CONTENTS xi

CHAPTER VI
JESUS AND MAN

PAGE

Jesus' sympathy with men and their troubles 115

His feelings for the suffering and distressed 117

His feeling for women and children 125

His emphasis on tenderness and forgiveness 127

The characteristics which he values in men 129

The value of the individual soul 133

Jesus and the wasted life 136

Zaccheeus. The woman with the alabaster box. The pen-
itent thief 136

CHAPTER VII
JESUS' TEACHING UPON SIN

The problem of sin 139

John the Baptist on sin 142

Jesus' psychology of sin more serious 150

The outstanding types of sin which, according to Jesus,
involve for a man the utmost risk:

(a) Want of tenderness 152

(6) The impure imagination 154

(c) Indifference to truth 155

(d) Indecision 158

Jesus' view of sin as deduced from this teaching 158

Implication of a serious view of redemption 163

CHAPTER VIII
THE CHOICE OF THE CROSS

What the cross meant to him 166

His References to the Gospel and its Results

The kingdom of heaven 168

The call for followers 169

His announcement of purpose in his life and death 169

What he means by redemption 170



xii THE JESUS OF HISTORY

PAGE

Factors in His Choice of the Cross

His sense of human need 176

His realization of God 176

His recognition of his own relation to God 177

His prayer life 178

Verification from the Event

The Resurrection 178

The new life of the disciples 178

The taking away of the sin of the world 179

Re-examination of His Choice of the Cross

As it bears on the problem of pain 180

and of sin 180

and on God 181

How a man is to understand Jesus Christ 181

CHAPTER IX

THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE

The Roman Empire

One~rule of many races 185

General peace and free intercourse the world over 185

Fusion of cultures, traditions, religions 186

"The marriage of East and West" 186

The Old Religion

(1) Its strength: 187

in its ancient tradition 187

in its splendor of art, architecture, and ceremony. ... 188

in its oracles, healings, and theophanies 190

in its adaptability in absorbing all cults and creeds. . 191

(2) Its weakness: 191

No deep sense of truth 192

No association with morality 192

Polytheism 194

The fear of the grave 195



CONTENTS xiii

PAGE

(S) Its defence: 195

Plutarch— the Stoics— Neo-Platonism— the Eclectics. 195-198

The Victory of the Christian Church

(1) Its characteristics 199

(2) Persecuted because it refused to compromise 200

(3) The Christian "out-lived" the pagan 201

"out-died" him 202

"out-thought" him 203

CHAPTER X

JESUS IN CHRISTIAN THOUGHT

The impulse to determine who he is, and his relation to God . 206

The records of Christian experience 209

The study of the* personality of Jesus Christ 214

(a) in Gospels 214

(6) Christological theory a guide to experience 215

(c) The new experience of the Reformation period 217

Knowledge gained by experiment comes before explanation. 218

Jesus to be Known by what He Does

The forgiveness of sin, and the theories to explain it 219

Is a theology of Redemption possible which shall not be

mainly metaphor and simile? 220

The Problem of the Incarnation

The approach is to be a posteriori 223

In fact, God and man are only known to us in and by Jesus.
Only in Christ is the love of God as taught in N. T. tenable.

To know Jesus in what he can do, is antecedent to theory

about him 225



That one Face, far from vanish, rather grows,
Or decomposes but to recompose,
Become my universe that feels and knows.



Robert Browning
Epilogue to Dramatis Persona



xiv



THE JESUS OF HISTORY

CHAPTER I

THE STUDY OF THE GOSPELS

If one thing more than another marks modern thought,
it is a new insistence on fact. In every sphere of study
there is a growing emphasis on verification. Where
a generation ago a case seemed to be closed, to-day
in the light of new facts it is reopened. Matters that
to our grandfathers were trivialities, to be summarily
dismissed, are seriously studied. Again and again we
find the most fruitful avenues opened to us by questions
that another age might have laughed out of a hearing;
to-day they suggest investigation of facts insufficiently
known, and of the difficult connections between them.
In psychology and in medicine the results of this new
tendency are evident in all sorts of ways — new methods
in the treatment of the sick, new inquiries as to the origin
of diseases and the possibilities of their prevention, at-
tempts to get at the relations between the soul and body,
and a very new open-mindedness as to the spiritual nature
and its working and experiences. In other fields of learn-
ing it is the same.

To the modern student of man and his history the old
easy way of excluding religion as an absurdity, the light pre-
diction of its speedy, or at least its eventual, disappearance

1



2 THE JESUS OF HISTORY

from the field of human life, and other dogmatisms
of the like kind, are almost unintelligible. We realize
that religion in some form is a natural working of the
human spirit, and, whatever place we give to religion
in the conduct of our own lives, as students of history
we reckon with the religious instinct as a factor of the
highest import, and we give to religious systems and
organizations — above all, to religious teachers and
leaders — a more sympathetic and a profounder study.
Carlyle's lecture on Mohammed, in his course on "Heroes
and Hero Worship," may be taken as a landmark for
English people in this new treatment of history.

The Christian Church, whether we like it or not,
has been a force of unparalleled power in human affairs;
and prophecies that it will no longer be so, and allegations
that by now it has ceased to be so, are not much made
by cautious thinkers. There is evidence that the in-
fluence of the Christian Church, so far from ebbing,
is rising — evidence more obvious when we reflect that
the influence of such a movement is not to be quickly
guessed from the number of its actual adherents. A
century and a quarter of Christian missions in India
have resulted in so many converts — a million and a
quarter is no slight outcome; but that is a small part
of the story. All over India the old religious systems
are being subjected to a new study by their own adherents;
their weak points are being felt; there are reform move-
ments, new apologetics, compromises, defenses — all sorts
of indications of ferment and transition. There can be
little question that while many things go to the making
of an age, the prime impulse to all this intellectual,
religious, and moral upheaval was the faith of Christian



THE STUDY OF THE GOSPELS 3

missionaries that Jesus Christ would bring about what
we actually see. They believed — and they were laughed
at for their belief — that Jesus Christ was still a real
power, permanent and destined to hold a larger place in
the affairs of men; and we see that they were right.
Jesus remains the very heart and soul of the Christian
movement, still controlling men, still capturing men —
against their wills very often — changing men's lives
and using them for ends they never dreamed of. So
much is plain to the candid observer, whatever the
explanation.

We find, further, another fact of even more significance
to the historian who will treat human experience with
seriousness and sympathy. The cynical view that
delusion and error in a real world have peculiar power
in human affairs, may be dismissed; no serious student
of history could hold it. For those who believe, as
we all do at heart, that the world is rational, that real
effects follow real causes, and conversely that behind
great movements lie great forces, the fact must weigh
enormously that wherever the Christian Church, or a
section of it, or a single Christian, has put upon Jesus
Christ a higher emphasis — above all where everything
has been centered in Jesus Christ — there has been an
increase of power for Church, or community, or man.
Where new value has been found in Jesus Christ, the
Church has risen in power, in energy, in appeal, in victory.
Paul of Tarsus progressively found more in Christ,
expected more of him, trusted him more; and his faith
was justified. If Paul was wrong, how did he capture
the Christian Church for his ideas? If he was wrong,
how is it that when Luther caught his meaning, re-



4 THE JESUS OF HISTORY

interpreted him and laid the same emphasis on Jesus
Christ with his Nos nihil sumus, Christus solus est omnia, 1
once more the hearts of men were won by the higher doc-
trine of Christ's person and power, and a new era followed
the new emphasis? How is it that, when John Wesley
made the same discovery, and once more staked all on
faith in Christ, again the Church felt the pulse of new
life? On the other hand, where through a nebulous
philosophy men have minimized Jesus, or where, through
some weakness of the human mind, they have sought
the aid of others and relegated Jesus Christ to a more
distant, even if a higher, sphere — where, in short, Christ
is not the living center of everything, the value of the
Church has declined, its life has waned. That, to my
own mind, is the most striking and outstanding fact in
history. There must be a real explanation of a thing so
signal in a rational universe.

The explanation in most human affairs comes after
the recognition of the fact. There our great fact stands
of the significance of Jesus Christ — a more wonderful
thing as we study it more. We may fail to explain it,
but we must recognize it. One of the weaknesses of the
Church to-day is — put bluntly — that Christians are not
making enough of Jesus Christ.

We find again that, where Jesus Christ is most real,
and means most, there we are apt to see the human
mind reach a fuller freedom and achieve more. There
is a higher civilization, a greater emphasis on the value
of human life and character, and a stronger endeavor
for the utmost development of all human material,



1 "We are nothing; Christ alone is all.'



THE STUDY OF THE GOSPELS 5

if we may so call the souls and faculties of men. Why
should there be this correspondence between Jesus of
Nazareth and human life? It is best brought out, when
we realize what he has made of Christian society, and
contrast it with what the various religions have left
or produced in other regions — the atrophy of human
nature.

In fine, there is no figure in human history that signifies
more. Men may love him or hate him, but they do it
intensely. If he was only what some say, he ought
to be a mere figure of antiquity by now. But he is
more than that; Jesus is not a dead issue; he has to be
reckoned with still; and men, who are to treat mankind
seriously, must make the intellectual effort to under-
stand the man on whom has been centered more of the
interest and the passion of the most serious and the
best of mankind than on any other. The real secret
is that human nature is deeply and intensely spiritual,
and that Jesus satisfies it at its most spiritual point.

The object before us in these pages is the attempt
to know Jesus, if we can, in a more intimate and in-
telligent way than we have done — at least, to put before
our minds the great problem, Who is this Jesus Christ?
and to try to answer it.

One answer to this question is that Jesus was nothing,
never was anything, but a myth developed for religious
purposes; that he never lived at all. This view reap-
pears from time to time, but so far it has not appealed to
any who take a serious interest in history. No historian
of the least repute has committed himself to the theory.
Desperate attempts have been made to discredit the
Christian writers of the first two centuries; it has been



6 THE JESUS OF HISTORY

emphasized that Jesus is not mentioned in secular writers
of the period, and the passage in Tacitus (Annals, xv. 44)
has been explained away as a Christian interpolation, or,
more gaily, by reviving the wild notion that Poggio
Bracciolini forged the whole of the Annals. But such
trifling with history and literature does not serve. No
scholar accepts the theory about Poggio — and yet if the
passage about Christ is to be got rid of, this is the better
way of the two; for there is nothing to countenance the
view that the chapter is interpolated, or to explain when
or by whom it was done — the wish is father to the thought.
Christians are twice mentioned by Suetonius in dealing
with Emperors of the first century, though in one passage
the reading Chrestus for Christus has suggested to some
scholars that another man is meant; the confusion was
a natural one and is instanced elsewhere, but we need
not press the matter. The argument from silence is
generally recognized as an uncertain one. Sir James
Melville, living at the Court of Mary, Queen of Scots,
does not, I learn, mention John Knox — "whom he could
not have failed to mention if Knox had really existed
and played the part assigned to him by his partisans,"
and so forth. It might be as possible and as reasonable
to prove that the Brahmo Samaj never existed, by dem-
onstrating four hundred years hence — or two thousand —
that it is not mentioned in In Memoriam, nor in The
Ring and the Book, nor in George Meredith's novels,
nor (more strangely) in any of Mr. Kipling's surviving
works, which definitely deal with India. None of these
writers, it may be replied, had any concern to mention
the Brahmo Samaj. And when one surveys the Greek
and Roman writers of the first century a. d., which of



THE STUDY OF THE GOSPELS 7

them had any concern to refer to Jesus and his disciples,
beyond the historians who do? Indeed, the difficulty is to
understand why some of these men should have written
at all; harder still, why others should have wanted to
read their poems and orations and commonplace books.
One argument, advanced in India a few years ago, against
the historical value of the Gospels may be revived by
way of illustration. Would not Virgil and Horace, it
was asked, have taken notice of the massacre at Bethlehem,
if it was historical? Would they not? it was replied,
when they both had died years before its traditional date.
But the distinction between Christian and secular
writers is not one that will weigh much with a serious
historian. Until we have reason to distinguish between
book and book, the evidence must be treated on exactly
the same principles. To say abruptly that, because
Luke was a Christian and Suetonius a pagan, Luke
is not worthy of the credence given to Suetonius, is a
line of approach that will most commend itself to those
who have read neither author. To gain a real knowledge
of historical truth, the historian's methods must be
slower and more cautious, he must know his author in-
timately — his habits of mind, his turns of style, his
preferences, his gifts for seeing the real issue — and always
the background, and the ways of thinking that prevail
in the background. An ancient writer is not necessarily
negligible because he records, and perhaps believes,
miracles or marvels or omens which a modern would
never notice. It is bad criticism that has made a popular
legend of the unreliable character of Herodotus. As
our knowledge of antiquity grows, and we become able
to correct our early impressions, the credit of Herodotus



8 THE JESUS OF HISTORY

rises steadily, and to-day those who study him most
closely have the highest opinion of him.

We may, then, without prejudice, take the evidence
of Paul of Tarsus on the historicity of Jesus, and examine
it. If we are challenged as to the genuineness of Paul's
epistles, let us tell our questioner to read them. Novels
have been written in the form of correspondence; but
Paul's letters do not tell us all that a novelist or a forger
would — there are endless gaps, needless references to un-
known persons (needless to us, or to anybody apart from
the people themselves), constant occupation with ques-
tions which we can only dimly discover from Paul's
answers. The letters are genuine letters — written for
the occasion to particular people, and not meant for us.
The stamp of genuineness is on them — of life, real life.
The German scholar, Norden, in his Kunstprosa, says
there is much in Paul that he does not understand, but
he catches in him again after three hundred years that
note of life that marks the great literature of Greece. That
is not easily forged. Luther and Erasmus were right
when they said — each of them has said it, however it
happened — that Paul "spoke pure flame." The letters,
and the theology and its influence, establish at once Paul's
claim to be a historical character. We may then ask, how
a man of his ability failed to observe that a non-historical
Jesus, a pure figment, was being palmed off on him —
on a contemporary, it should be marked — and by a com-
bination of Jesus' own disciples with earlier friends
of Paul, who were trying to exterminate them. Paul
knew priests and Pharisees; he knew James and John
and Peter; and he never detected that they were in
collusion, yes, and to the point of martyring Stephen



THE STUDY OF THE GOSPELS 9

— to impose on him and on the world a non-historical
Jesus. To such straits are we brought, if Jesus never
existed. History becomes pure nonsense, and knowl-
edge of historical fact impossible; and, it may be noted,
all knowledge is abolished if history is beyond reach.

But we are not dependent on books for our evidence
of the historicity of Jesus. The whole story of the
Church implies him. He is inwrought in every fea-
ture of its being. Every great religious movement,
of which we know, has depended on a personal impulse,
and has behind it some real, living and inspiring per-
sonality. It is true that at a comparatively late stage
of Hinduism a personal devotion to Shri Krishna grew
up, just as in the hour of decline of the old Mediter-
ranean paganism we find Julian the Apostate using a
devotional language to Athena at Athens that would
have astonished the contemporaries of Pericles. But
Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed stand on a very dif-
ferent footing from Krishna and Athena, even if we
concede the view of some scholars that Krishna was
once a man, and the contention of Euhemerus, a pre-
Christian Greek, that all the gods had once been human.
If we posit that Jesus did not exist, we shall be involved
in other difficulties as to the story of the Church. Mr.
F. C. Conybeare, an Oxford scholar avowedly not in
allegiance to the Christian Church, has characterized
some of the reconstructions made by contemporary anti-


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Online LibraryT. R. (Terrot Reaveley) GloverThe Jesus of history → online text (page 1 of 17)