Imatges de pÓgina

and the state.

Nor has the mind of western civilization to this day succeeded in getting itself adjusted to those objective interests from which it was divorced at the beginning of the Christian era.



The teaching of Jesus has come down to us through several traditions. These traditions have assumed three outstanding forms. There is the Jewish tradition, to be seen in the first three Gospels and in Revelation; there is the Pauline tradition; and there is the Greek tradition in the Fourth Gospel. It is difficultsome think it is impossible-to distinguish the original teaching of Jesus from these later traditional interpretations. Can we differentiate the original core of Jesus' moral teaching? Can we find such a nucleus in the Beatitudes and the Parables? It is our belief that

we can.

We have seen that after the loss of the state in the Exile there developed the ideal of a Messianic kingdom. To some the Messiah was to be a political leader; to others, the Messiah was to be a prophetic, moral leader. Then there was the apocalyptic hope. Both these ideals are attributed to Jesus in the Gospels. It is possible that both ideals belong to a process of Jewish reconstruction.

Then there is the Pauline interpretation, which centered about the crucifixion. It became the dominant ecclesiastical tradition. The death of Jesus did for Christian thought what the death of Socrates did for Platonism. Paul became the spokesman of an out

standing stage of western civilization. This was the type of thought to be seen in the mystery religions which captivated the mind of the West from 200 B.C. to 300 A.D. The object of this movement was to acquire immortality for an inner life. An inner world crystallized into a world of "spirit." It became the realm of morals and religion. The old pagan objective social ends of life were sloughed off and were left as extraneous accidents.

Finally there is the Greek interpretation of the teaching of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel. It became the traditional academic philosophy of the West. In this view Jesus became the symbol of an inner spiritual state of knowledge. He became the Logos, the incarnation of Platonic reason. Passages in the Gospels concerning the Son of God reflect the Pauline or the Greek interpretation.

These are the outstanding interpretations of the teaching of Jesus. But there is in the Gospels a

stratum of moral tradition which is the continuation of the Hebrew prophetic ideal. It is possible to regard this prophetic stratum as a later Jewish transformation of the teaching of Jesus. We believe, however, that it is the original social teaching of Jesus himself, and that the disassociation of inner motive and outer social objective was the result of the crucifixion as interpreted by the tradition of the mystery religions. The state, the family, the property system of the traditional Hebrew cultus were disassociated from the newer conscience. But the newer ideal in the mind of Jesus did not retreat into an inner mystical realm. It remained an objective social ideal.

The personal, individual life in the teaching of Jesus is not to be achieved by selfishly trying to escape from a bad world. The individual can be saved only in so far as there is established a righteous social order. In the ideal of Jesus salvation comes through the achievement of a better world.

Jesus' teaching focuses the inner life as truly as Job or Proverbs, but Jesus retains the objectives of the great prophets. He is not a stoic. He does not teach a self-sufficient inner ideal disassociated from social concerns. We are to cleanse the inside of life that the outside may be clean also. One who says: "I go not," and goes is a better man than one who says: "I go" and goes not. The heart is emphasized because it is the source of good or bad deeds. A man, like a tree, is known by his fruits. We are to look after the heart but also not to leave matters of ritual and custom undone. When the kingdom of righteousness is practiced individuals will realize new dimensions of life. In the kingdom the least will be greater than was John the Baptist.

The words which Luke puts into the mouth of Mary: "He hath put down the mighty from their seats and exalted them of low degree," announce a social program and not an inner retreat from the world. The story of the flight to Egypt to save the infant Jesus from Herod is indicative of a tradition which made Jesus the promulgator of a kingdom which might be in opposition to that of Rome. Upon their return Mary and Joseph do not go to the capital with the child but remain in Galilee. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, preaches the moral and social gospel of the

prophets. The Lord's Prayer mentions a kingdom to come and a Father's will to be done on earth. Luke teaches that the kingdom is for those who hunger and are poor. At the trial and crucifixion there is a royal robe, a crown, albeit of thorns, a scepter, and an announcement of Jesus as king. All these things are incompatible with an inner, otherworldly, interpretation of the ideal of Jesus. On the cross-according to Matthew and in stark antithesis to the Fourth Gospel -Jesus feels forsaken, for how can the kingdom be realized by a dying leader! These things do not indicate the self-sufficient inner ideal of the Cynic or the Stoic. Their ideal is the universal reason of Zeus in the minds of men. The ideal of Jesus is a new Jerusalem.

Jesus taught a kingdom that was to grind to powder all other kingdoms. He contrasted the rôle of the Roman state with his own prophetic ideal. The one was built on domination; the other on love and service. He did not set up a permanent inner ideal of life as a defense against the Roman state. He did not say that the state was external and indifferent. He did not say that there was an inner kingdom which was absolute in itself and self-sufficient. But he did say that the Roman type of state would pass away and that the prophetic kingdom of righteousness would reign on the earth.

Jesus' tender lamentation over Jerusalem shows how he loved his city and his people. But the city which he loved was not the walled city of a pagan nation that longed to turn its political subjection into political dominance. To be given all the kingdoms of

« AnteriorContinua »