The “Christ-Myth” -- By: Licentiate K. Dunkmann

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 068:269 (Jan 1911)
Article: The “Christ-Myth”
Author: Licentiate K. Dunkmann


The “Christ-Myth”

Licentiate K. Dunkmann

Germany1

The controversy about the person of Jesus Christ which has played so great a part in Christian church history since the days of primitive Christianity, and indeed since the days of Jesus himself (Matt. 16:13), has entered to-day upon a new stage. The latest solution which has been given out in the heterogeneous circles of science at odds with the church and Christianity is to the effect that Jesus Christ never so much as existed. This solution was already prepared by David Fr. Strauss, who explained the Gospels as mythical inventions: it was openly asserted by Bruno Bauer in the middle of the last century, but found no echo even in the revolutionary strata of German thought. Now, however, it is suddenly proclaimed almost simultaneously from numerous centers, in England, France, America, and finally in Germany also, and, like a train of fire kindled at various points in a dry prairie, seems with ever increasing rapidity to be growing into an universal danger. It is not my present purpose to inquire into the scientific tenableness of this latest hypothesis. This I have lately done in another place.2 What I wish to do here is to raise and answer

the no less important question of how it comes about that this wild hypothesis, which reminds us vividly of the affinity of genius and lunacy, after not having dared through nearly two thousand years to raise itself even in thought as a bare possibility, to say nothing of openly announcing itself as fact,— how it comes about that this hypothesis, which on its first hesitant suggestion was at once rejected on all sides, by friends and foes alike,— has now in our day been simultaneously “discovered “in various places, and not merely taken seriously, but propagated with evident delight. I shall not enter, therefore, upon an investigation of the subject itself, but of a closely related subject. What I wish to treat of is the whole phenomenon which meets our view, and that as a phenomenon in the history of culture. For it seems to me that there is presented to our consideration here a plain pathological symptom, and what I ask is, Where lie the causes?

The causes lie in the scientific situation of our day. To understand this, we should, first of all, bear in mind that science has to do with irrefragable facts which it is our duty to explain. Now Christianity as a world-historical entity is in any event an irrefragable fact, the explanation or derivation of which must be carried back to its ultimate causes. We face here, then, ultimately ...

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