Critique On Strauss’s Life Of Jesus -- By: H. B. Hackett

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 002:5 (Feb 1845)
Article: Critique On Strauss’s Life Of Jesus
Author: H. B. Hackett


Critique On Strauss’s Life Of Jesus

Rev. H. B. Hackett

Professor of Biblical Literature in Newton Theological Institution.

Wissenschaftliche Kritik der Evangelischen Geschichte. Ein Compendium der gesammten Evangelienkritik mit Berücksichtigung der neusten Erscheinungen bearbeitet von Dr. A. Ebrard. 1842. pp. 1112.

No portion of the Bible, not excepting now even the Pentateuch, which had been so long the battle-field of the German critics, excites so much interest at the present moment in Germany as the four Gospels. This is owing to the new direction which the course of biblical criticism has taken in that country,

since the appearance of Strauss’s work on the Life of Jesus in 1835. This work,1 it is well known, has produced a sensation in the German theological world, unequalled by anything which has occurred since the publication of the Wolfenbüttel Fragments by Lessing, in 1778. It has passed rapidly through repeated editions, has been printed, how many times we are unable to say in an abridged and less critical form for uneducated readers, has been translated into other languages and has given rise to a controversy which, after the lapse now of these ten years nearly, is still kept up with undiminished vigor.2

Of the degree of positive influence which this work of Strauss has exerted, of the actual impression which it has made on the public mind, it is not easy to form a definite opinion. We should certainly err, however, were we to regard the attention merely which it has awakened as any very exact criterion of the favor, with which its doctrines have been received, or as indicating to any very great extent an increase of the infidelity of Germany over and above that which previously existed. In the first place, it should be remembered, that at the time when Strauss came forward with his new theory for the explanation of the gospel history, the old type of rationalism, that which flourished particularly from the beginning of the present century until 1817, which is represented in exegesis by Paulus, and in dogmatics by Wegscheider, had lost very much its scientific interest with the public, and had thus left the ground open for some new development of the rationalistic principle. Under these circumstances Strauss appeared ; and of those who embraced his sentiments, the great majority consisted not of those who now went over from the Christian camp to unbelief for the first time, but of such as had already taken this step, and on this occasion merely exchanged one form of religious skepticism for another. In the second pl...

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