The Adoration Of Jesus In The Apostolic Age -- By: Theodor Zahn

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 051:202 (Apr 1894)
Article: The Adoration Of Jesus In The Apostolic Age
Author: Theodor Zahn

The Adoration Of Jesus In The Apostolic Age1

Prof. Theodor Zahn

AMONG the great historical religions of the world, of whose origin and development we have a more or less definite knowledge, Christianity is the only one which from the beginning has found the distinctive expression of its character in the adoration of its founder. If we may speak of a human founder of Judaism, and regard Moses or Abraham as occupying that position, then no proof is needed that the Jewish nation never at any period of its long career felt tempted to honor and adore as divine beings those great figures of its distant past. Not against such deification of men, but against the polytheism and idolatry of the heathen among whom Israel dwelt, was directed the exhortation “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord.” This became most prominent as the fundamental creed of Judaism, when a part of the nation had acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, and prayed to the Crucified One as the Lord enthroned in heaven. One of the most serious reproaches made against this heresy from Judaism, was that it acknowledged two rulers in heaven.2

The Rabbi Akiba, one of the bitterest enemies of Christianity, is said to have breathed out his life, as a martyr of Judaism, with the word “One.”

The confession of Islam, of faith in the One God, and in Mohammed as his prophet, was also primarily directed against heathen polytheism; and yet it was from the beginning held in antagonism to the supposed deification of a man on the part of the Christians. When, in the course of the Middle Ages, the contact of Christian nations with Mohammedan and Jewish culture had ceased to be exclusively hostile, it became customary, from very different points of view, and in very different connections, to class Judaism, Christianity, and Islam together, as the three monotheistic religions, on which depended the development of the world’s civilization. Even Lessing in his “Nathan” makes use of this mediaeval tradition.

Not until the last century did Buddhism come within the horizon of general culture in Europe. The foreigner from India met with a remarkably sympathetic reception, and that not alone among those whom philosophy had brought to a view of the universe akin to Buddhism. Buddhism has been classed with Christianity and Islam, as one of the religions which show their vigor by sustaining missions, and in results, as evinced by the number of converts, Buddhism surpasses even our faith. Recently some have advanced the view that a considerable part of our gospel narrative is an imitation of the legends of Buddha. But apart...

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