THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS
Two of the contentions of the modern school of comparative religion have so far been examined. It has been shown that neither the group of Pauline conceptions which centers around the new birth (or, as Paul calls it, the new creation) nor the Pauline teaching about the sacraments was derived from the mystery religions. The third element of Paulinism which is thought to have come from pagan religion is found in the Pauline conception of Christ and of the work of Christ in redemption. This contention is connected especially with the name of Bousset,1 who is, however, supported in essentials by a considerable number of contemporary scholars. The hypothesis of Bousset is intimately connected with those hypotheses which have already been examined. A complete treatment of it at this point would therefore involve repetition. But it may here be set forth at least in a somewhat systematic, though still in a merely summary, way.
According to Bousset, the primitive Christian community in Jerusalem regarded Jesus chiefly as the Son of Man—the mysterious person, mentioned in the Jewish apocalypses, who was finally to come with the clouds of heaven and be the instrument in ushering in the Kingdom of God. Bousset is doubtful whether or no the title Son of Man was ever assumed by Jesus Himself, and regards the settlement of this question as lying beyond the scope of his book. But the tendency of the book is decidedly toward a radical denial of the Messianic consciousness of Jesus. And at this point the cautious investigator, even if his presuppositions are the same as Bousset's own, may well be inclined to take alarm. The method which is here pursued seems to be leading logically to the elimination from the pages of history of the whole Gospel picture of Jesus, lKyrios ChrUto; 1913; Jesus der Herr, 1916.
or rather to the use of that picture in the reconstruction not of the historical Jesus, but only of the belief of the Christian community. Of course Bousset does not push matters to such lengths; he is by no means inclined to follow W. B. Smith and Drews in denying the historicity of Jesus. But the reader of the first part of the "Kyrios Christos" has an uneasy feeling that if any of the Gospel picture still escapes the keen edge of Bousset's criticism, it is only by accident. Many of those incidents in the Gospel narrative, many of those elements in the Gospel teaching, which have been considered most characteristic of the historical Jesus have here been removed. There seems to be no particular reason why the rest should remain; for the elements that remain are quite similar to the elements that have been made to go. No mark of authenticity seems to be proof against the skepticism of this latest historian. Bousset thus illustrates the difficulty of separating the natural from the supernatural in the Gospel picture of Jesus. When the process of separation begins, it is difficult to bring it to a halt; the wheat is in danger of being rooted up with the tares. Bousset has dealt a severe blow to the prestige of the liberal reconstruction of Jesus. By the recent developments in his thinking he has shown by his own example that the liberal reconstruction is in a state of unstable equilibrium. It is always in danger of giving way to radical denial either of the historicity of Jesus or of the historicity of the Messianic consciousness. Such radicalism is faced by insuperable difficulties. Perhaps, then, there is something wrong with the critical method from which the radicalism always tends to result.
But it is necessary now to examine a little more closely the belief of the primitive Jerusalem Church. That belief, Bousset maintains, did not involve any conception of Jesus as "Lord." The title "Lord," he says, was not applied to Jesus on Palestinian ground, and Jesus was not regarded by the early Jerusalem Church as the object of faith. The piety of the primitive Church was thus exclusively eschatological; Jesus was expected to return in glory from heaven, but meanwhile He was regarded as separated from His disciples. He was the heavenly "Son of Man," to come with the clouds of heaven, not the "Lord" now present in the Church.
These momentous assertions, which lie at the very basis of Bousset's hypothesis, are summed up in the elimination from Jerusalem Christianity of the title "Lord" as applied to Jesus. This elimination of the title "Lord" of course involves a rejection of the testimony of Acts. The Book of Acts contains the only extant narrative of the early progress of Jerusalem Christianity. And so far as the designations of Christ are concerned, the early chapters of the book have usually been thought to produce an impression of special antiquity and authenticity. These chapters apply the title "Lord" to Jesus; the words in Acts ii. 36, "God has made him both Lord and Christ," have often been regarded as especially significant. But to Bousset, in view of his opinion about the Book of Acts as a whole, the elimination of this testimony causes no difficulty.
But how does Bousset know that the primitive Jerusalem Church did not apply the term "Lord" to Jesus? The principal argument is derived from an examination of the Synoptic Gospels. The title "Lord," as applied to Jesus, Bousset believes, appears only "on the margin" (as it were) of the Gospel tradition; it does not appear as one of the primitive elements in the tradition. But since it does not appear firmly fixed in the Gospel tradition, it could not have formed a part of Christian belief in the community where the Gospel tradition was formed. The community where the Gospel tradition was formed was the Jerusalem Church. Therefore the title Lord as applied to Jesus did not form part of the belief of the Jerusalem Church. Such, in bare outline, is the argument of Bousset.
An examination of that argument in detail would far transcend the limits of the present discussion.1 But certain obvious remarks can be made.
In the first place, it is not perfectly clear that the title Lord appears only in secondary elements of the Gospel tradition. Certainly it must be granted to Bousset that the instances where the word "Lord" appears in the vocative case do not necessarily involve any recognition of the lofty title "Lord" as belonging to Jesus; for the word could be used in direct address in the presence of any person to whom respect was to be paid. Nevertheless, in some of the passages the word does seem to be more than a mere reverential form of address.
1See Vos, "The Kyrios Christos Controversy," in The Princeton Theological Review, xv, 1917, pp. 21-89. See also the review of Bousset's "Kyrios Christos" by the same author, ibid., zli, 1914, pp. 636-645.
Bousset himself admits that such is the case at least in Matt, vii. 21, "Not every one who says unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven," and his opinion that this passage is secondary as compared with Lk. vi. 46 is insufficiently grounded. The cases in the Gospels where the title is used absolutely are not very numerous, and they occur chiefly in the Gospel of Luke. But the estimate of them as secondary depends of course upon certain critical conclusions about the relationships of the Synoptic Gospels. And it is doubtful whether Bousset has quite succeeded in refuting the argument which can be derived from Mk. xii. 35-37 (and parallels), the passage about David's son and David's Lord. Bousset himself uses this passage as an important testimony to the belief of the early Jerusalem Church, though he does not regard it as representing a genuine saying of Jesus. Yet here Jesus is made to call attention to the fact that David called the Messiah "Lord." If this passage represents the belief about Jesus of the primitive Jerusalem Church, what stronger testimony could there be to the use in that church of the title "Lord" as applied to Jesus? Bousset avoids the difficulty by calling attention to the fact that the Old Testament passage (Ps. ex. 1) is here quoted not according to the original but according to the Septuagint translation. In the original Hebrew, says Bousset, there was a distinction between the word "Lord" as applied to God and the word "Lord" as applied to the other person who is referred to; the Hebrew has, "Jahwe said to my Lord (adoni)." Thus that second person, according to the Hebrew, can be regarded as a human individual, and all that is meant by the term "Lord" as used of him by David is that he stood higher than David. Bousset seems to think that this explanation destroys the value of the passage as a witness to the use in the Jerusalem Church of the religious term "Lord" as applied to Jesus. But such is by no means the case. For if the Messiah (Jesus) was higher than David, so that David could call Him Lord, then Jesus must have occupied some very lofty position. If David could call Him Lord, would the title be refused to Him by humble members of the Jerusalem Church? On Bousset's interpretation the passage may not directly attest the use of the title by the Jerusalem Church, but it does seem to presuppose it. It may also be questioned whether Bousset has succeeded in getting
rid of Mk. xi. 3, as a witness to the title Ljrd as applied to Jesus in the Jerusalem Church.
But does the infrequency of the use of the title "Lord" in the Gospels necessarily indicate that that title was not prevalent in the primitive Jerusalem Church? It must be remembered that the title "Christ," which was of course applied to Jesus by the Jerusalem Church, is also very infrequent in the Gospels. Why should the infrequency in the Gospel use of one title be regarded as an argument against the use of that title in the Jerusalem Church, when in the case of the other title no such argument can possibly be set up? Bousset is ready with his answer. But the answer is entirely inadequate. The title "Christ," Bousset says, was an eschatological title; it referred to a dignity which in the belief of the Jerusalem Church Jesus was not to attain until His coming in glory. Therefore it could not readily be applied to Jesus in the accounts of His earthly ministry. Hence in the case of that title there was a special obstacle which hindered the intrusion of the title into the Gospel tradition. But in the case of the title "Lord," there was no such obstacle; therefore the nonintrusion of that title into the Gospel tradition requires a special explanation; and the only possible explanation is that the title was not used in the Jerusalem Church.
It would be difficult to crowd into brief compass so many highly debatable assertions as are crowded together in this argument. Was the title "Christ" a purely eschatological title? It is not a purely eschatological title in Paul. It is not really a purely eschatological title anywhere in the New Testament. At any rate, Bousset is here adopting a conception of the Messiahship of Jesus which is at best problematical and is rejected by men of the most widely divergent points of view. And did the title "Lord" designate Jesus especially as the present Lord of the Church, rather than as the one who was finally to usher in the Kingdom? Was Jesus in the belief of the early Church the "coming" Christ any more than He was the "coming" Lord; and was He the present Lord any more than He was the present Christ? These questions cannot be answered with absolute certainty. At any rate, even if Bousset can point to a larger proportion of eschatological interest in the one title than that which appears in the other, yet such a distinction is relative only. And it still remains true that if the infrequency of the title "Christ" in the Gospels does not indicate the non-existence of that title in the Jerusalem Church, the infrequency of the title "Lord" in the Gospels is not any more significant.
With regard to the title "Son of Man," Bousset makes a remark somewhat similar to that which he makes about the title "Christ." The title "Son of Man," he says, was eschatological; therefore it could not be introduced into the narrative part of the Gospels. But it will always remain one of the paradoxes of Bousset's theory that according to Bousset the title "Son of Man," which (except in Acts vii. 56) appears in the tradition only in the words of Jesus, and never as the title used when men spoke about Jesus, should be supposed to have been the characteristic title used in speaking about Jesus in the Jerusalem Church. If the belief of the Jerusalem Church about Jesus was so exclusively a Son-of-Man dogma, as Bousset supposes it was, and if that church was so little concerned with historical fact, it seems somewhat strange that the title, "Son of Man," has not been allowed, despite its eschatological character, to intrude into the Gospel narrative. Another hypothesis will always suggest itself—the hypothesis that Jesus really used the title, "Son of Man," in a somewhat mysterious way, in speaking about Himself, and that the memory of the fact that it was His own special designation of Himself has been preserved in the curious limitation of the use of the title in the New Testament. In that case, in view of the accuracy thus established with regard to one title, the testimony of the Gospels with regard to the other title, "Lord," cannot lightly be rejected.
But the evidence for the use of the title "Lord" in the primitive Jerusalem Church is not contained merely in the Gospels. Other evidence appears in the Pauline Epistles.
The most obvious fact is that Paul himself uses the term as the characteristic title of Jesus. And it is equally evident that he did not invent this usage. Evidently it was a continuation of a usage which prevailed before he began his work. So much is fully admitted by Bousset. But whence did Paul derive the usage? Or rather, supposing that he began his own use of the title at the moment of the conversion, in accordance with the representation in Acts ("Who art thou, Lord?"), whence did he derive his assumption that the title was already in use? The most obvious view is that he assumed the title to be already known because it was in use in the early Jerusalem Church. The matter-of-course way in which Paul applies the title "Lord" to Jesus has always, until recently, been taken as indicating that the title had been prevalent from the very beginning of the Church's life.
But at this point appears one of the most important features of Bousset's theory. Paul derived the title "Lord," Bousset believes, from those who had been Christians before him; but he derived it, not from the Jerusalem Church, but from the Christian communities in such cities as Antioch, Tarsus, and perhaps Damascus. It is in these communities, therefore, that the genesis of the title "Lord," as applied to Jesus, is to be placed.
Attention has already been called to the difficulties which beset this interposition of an extra link between Paul and the Jerusalem Church. It has been shown that what Paul "received" he received not from the churches at Antioch and Tarsus but from the original disciples at Jerusalem. But in addition to the general considerations which connect the whole of Paulinism with the Jerusalem tradition about Jesus, there are certain special indications of a Jerusalem origin of the title "Lord."
One such indication may be found, perhaps, in Gal. i. 19. When, in connection with a visit to Jerusalem which occurred three years after the conversion, Paul speaks of "James the brother of the Lord," the natural inference is that "the brother of the Lord" was a designation which was applied to James in Jerusalem; and if so, then the title "Lord" was current in the Jerusalem Church.1 Of course, the inference is not absolutely certain; Paul might have designated James as "the brother of the Lord" because that was the designation of James in the Galatian Churches and the designation which Paul himself commonly used, even if it was not current in Jerusalem. But the natural impression which the passage will always make upon an unsophisticated reader is that Paul is using a terminology which was already fixed among James' associates at the time and place to which the narrative refers. It should be observed that in speaking of Peter, Paul actually uses the Aramaic form and not the Greek form of the name. 1 Knowling, The Witness of the Epistles, 1892, p. IS.
The indications are that with regard to the leaders of the Jerusalem Church Paul is accustomed generally to follow the Jerusalem usage. And the evidence of such a passage as Gal. i. 18, 19, where Jerusalem conditions are mentioned, is doubly strong. The use in this passage of the title "brother of the Lord" would indeed not be absolutely decisive if it stood alone. But taken in connection with the other evidence, it does point strongly to the prevalence in the early Jerusalem Church of the title "Lord" as applied to Jesus.
More stress is usually laid upon the occurrence of "Maranatha" in 1 Cor. xvi. 22. "Maranatha" is Aramaic, and it means "Our Lord, come!" Why was the Aramaic word "Our Lord" included, as a designation of Jesus, in a Greek letter? The natural supposition is that it had been hallowed by its use in the Aramaic-speaking church at Jerusalem. Accordingly it pushes the use of the title "Lord" back to the primitive Christian community; the title cannot, therefore, be regarded as a product of the Hellenistic churches in Antioch and Tarsus.
This argument has been met in various ways. According to Bohlig, the passage does attest the application of the Aramaic title "Lord" to Jesus, but that application, Bohlig believes, was made not in Palestine but in Syria, not in Jerusalem but in Antioch. Syria, indeed, with Cilicia, was, Bohlig insists, the special home of the designation "Lord" as applied to the gods; the word "Baal," the common Semitic title of the Syrian gods, means "Lord." And Bohlig also points to the appearance of the title Mar along with Baal as a title of divinity.1
But why was the Semitic title retained in a Greek letter? In answer to this question the bilingual condition of Syria may be appealed to. But what particular sanctity could be attached to the Semitic usage of Syria; why should Paul follow that usage in writing to a church that was situated, not in the East, but in Greece proper? If, on the other hand, the title "Mar" had been hallowed by the use of the original disciples of Jesus, then the retention of the original word without translation is perfectly natural.
Bousset now proposes another hypothesis.2 The phrase
1 See Bohlig, "Zum Begriff Kyrios bei Paulus," in Zeitschrift fur die neutest anient liche Wissenschaft, xiv, 1913, pp. 23-37.
'Bousset, Jesus der Herr, 1916, pp. 22f. Compare Kyrios Christos, 1913, p. 103.
"Maranatha," he says, probably had nothing to do with Jesus; it constitutes merely a formula of cursing like the "anathema" which immediately precedes in 1 Cor. xvi. 22; the Maran (or Marana) refers not to Jesus, but to God; the formula means, "Our Lord (God) shall come and judge." But Bousset adduces no real evidence in support of his explanation. No such formula of cursing seems to have been found in Semitic sources. And why should Paul introduce such a Semitic curse in writing to Corinth? The latest hypothesis of Bousset is certainly a desperate expedient.
"Marana" in 1 Cor. xvi. 22, therefore, certainly refers to Jesus, and the strong presumption is that it was derived from Palestine. The passage constitutes a real testimony to the use of the title "Lord" as a designation of Jesus in the Palestinian Church.
Possibly, moreover, this passage may also serve to fix the original Aramaic form of the title. Bousset and certain other scholars have been inclined to detect a linguistic difficulty in the way of attributing the title "Lord" to the Aramaic-speaking Church. The absolute "Mara," it is said, does not seem to have been current in Aramaic; only "Mari" ("my Lord") and "Maran" ("our Lord") seem to have been commonly used. But it is just in the absolute form, "the Lord," that the title appears most frequently in the Greek New Testament. Therefore, it is concluded, this New Testament Greek usage cannot go back to the usage of the Aramaic-speaking Church. It will perhaps be unnecessary to enter upon the linguistic side of this argument. Various possibilities might be suggested for examination to the students of Aramaic—among others, the possibility that "Mari," "Maran," had come to be used absolutely, like "Rabbi," "Rabban," the original meaning of the possessive suffix having been obscured.1 But in general it can probably be said that if persons of Aramaic speech had desired to designate Jesus, absolutely, as "Lord" or "the Lord," the language was presumably not so poor but that the essential idea could have been expressed. And it is the essential idea, not the word, which is really important. The important thing is that the attitude toward Jesus which is expressed by the Greek word "Kyrios," was, unless all indications fail, also the attitude of the Jerusalem Church.
But may not the Greek title itself have originated in 1Compare Bousset, Kyrios Christos, 1913, p. 99, Anm. 3.
Jerusalem? This possibility has been neglected in recent discussions of the subject. But it is worthy of the most careful consideration. It should be remembered that Palestine in the first century after Christ was a bilingual country.1 No doubt Aramaic was in common use among the great body of the people, and no doubt it was the language of Jesus' teaching. But Greek was also in use, and it is by no means beyond the bounds of possibility that even Jesus spoke Greek when occasion demanded. At any rate, the early Jerusalem Church included a large body of Greek-speaking persons; the "Hellenists" are mentioned in Acts vi. 1 in a way to which high historical importance is usually attributed. It is altogether probable, therefore, that the terminology current in the Jerusalem Church from the very beginning, or almost from the very beginning, was Greek as well as Aramaic. From this Greekspeaking part of the Church the original apostles could hardly have held themselves aloof. Total ignorance of Greek on the part of Galileans is improbable in view of what is known in general about linguistic conditions in Palestine; and in the capital, with its foreign connections, and its hosts of Hellenists, the opportunity for the use of Greek would be enormously increased. It is altogether improbable, therefore, that the Greek terminology of the Hellenists resident in Jerusalem was formed without the approval of the original disciples of Jesus. When the apostle Paul, therefore, assumes everywhere that the term "Lord" as applied to Jesus was no peculiarity of his own, but was familiar to all his readers, the phenomenon can be best explained if not only the sense of the title, but also its Greek form, was due to the mother Church. In other words, the transition from Aramaic to Greek, as the language of the disciples of Jesus, did not occur at Antioch or Tarsus, as Bousset seems to think. In all probability it occurred at Jerusalem, and occurred under the supervision of the immediate friends of Jesus. It could not possibly, therefore, have involved a transformation of the original faith.
But the linguistic considerations just adduced are only supplementary. Even if the use of Greek in Jerusalem was less important than has here been suggested, the state of the
1Zahn, Einleitung in das Neue Testament, 3te Aufl., i, 1906, pp. 24-32, 39-47 (English Translation, Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd Ed., 1917, i, pp. 34-46, 57-67).
case is not essentially altered. Every attempt at separating the religion of Paul sharply from the religion of the Jerusalem Church has resulted in failure. Whatever may have been the linguistic facts, the divine Lord of the Epistles was also the Lord of those who had been intimate friends of Jesus of Nazareth.
Bousset of course rejects this conclusion. But he does so on insufficient grounds. His theory, it may well be maintained, has already broken down at the most decisive point. It is not really possible to interpose the Christianity of Antioch and Tarsus between the Jerusalem Church and Paul; it is not really possible to suppose that that Christianity of Antioch was essentially different from the Jerusalem Christianity which had given it birth; in particular it is not possible to deny the use of the title "Lord," and the religious attitude toward Jesus which the title represents, to the original friends of Jesus. Examination of the further elements of Bousset's theory, therefore, can be undertaken only under protest. But such examination is important. For it will confirm the unfavorable impression which has already been received.
If, as Bousset says, the title "Lord," as a designation of Jesus, originated not at Jerusalem but at Antioch, in what way did it originate? It orginated, Bousset believes, in the meetings of the Church, and it originated in dependence upon the surrounding pagan cults. At Jerusalem, according to Bousset, the piety of the disciples was purely eschatological; Jesus was awaited with eagerness, He was to come in glory, but meanwhile He was absent. There was no thought of communion with Him. At Antioch, however, a different attitude began to be assumed. As the little community of disciples was united for comfort and prayer and the reception of the ecstatic gifts of the Spirit, it came to be felt that Jesus was actually present; the wonderful experiences of the meetings came to be attributed to Him. But if He was actually present in the meetings of the Church, a new title was required to express what He meant to those who belonged to Him. And one title lay ready to hand. It was the title "Lord." That title was used by the pagans to designate their own false gods. Surely no lower title could be used by the Christians to designate their Jesus. The title "Lord," moreover, was especially a cult-title; it was used to designate those gods who presided especially over the worship, over the "cult," of the pagan religions. But it was just in the "cult," in the meetings of the Church, that the new attitude toward Jesus had arisen. The experience of Jesus' presence, therefore, and the title which would give expression to it, were naturally joined together. In the rapture of a meeting of the group of worshipers, in the midst of wonderful ecstatic experiences, some member of the Church at Antioch or Tarsus, or perhaps many members simultaneously, uttered the momentous words, "Lord Jesus."
Thus occurred, according to the theory of Bousset, the most momentous event in the history of Christianity, one of the most momentous events in the whole religious history of the race. Christianity ceased to be merely faith in God like the faith which Jesus had; it became faith in Jesus. Jesus was now no longer merely an example for faith; He had become the object of faith. The prophet of Nazareth had become an object of worship; the Messiah had given way to the "Lord." Jesus had taken a place which before had been assigned only to God.
This estimate of the event of course depends upon Bousset's critical conclusions about the New Testament literature. And those conclusions are open to serious objections. The objections have already been considered so far as the title "Lord" is concerned; that title cannot really be denied to the original disciples of Jesus. Equally serious are the objections against what Bousset says about "faith in Jesus." A consideration of these objections lies beyond the scope of the present discussion. The ground has been covered in masterly fashion by James Denney, who has shown that even in the earliest strata of the Gospel literature, as they are distinguished by modern criticism of sources, Jesus appears not merely as an example for faith but as the object of faith—indeed, that Jesus actually so presented Himself.1 Christianity was never a mere imitation of the faith which Jesus reposed in God. But it is now necessary to return to the examination of the Antioch Church.
The title "Lord," as applied to Jesus, Bousset believes, originated in the meetings of the Antioch disciples—in what may be called, for want of a better term, the "public worship" of the Church. This assertion constitutes an important step 1 Denney, Jesus and the Qospel, 1908.
in Bousset's reconstruction. But the evidence adduced in support of it is insufficient. The passages cited from the Pauline Epistles show, indeed, that great importance was attributed to the meetings of the Church; they show perhaps that the custom of holding such meetings prevailed from the very beginning. But they do not show that the whole of the Church's devotion to Christ and the whole of Paul's religion were derived, by way of development, from the cult. It is not necessary to suppose either that the individual relation to Christ was derived from the cult, or that the cult was derived from the individual relation. There is also a third possibility—that individual piety and the cult were both practised from the very beginning side by side. At any rate, Bousset has vastly underestimated the importance of the conversion as determining the character of Paul's religious life. The Damascus experience lay at the very foundation of all of Paul's thinking and all of his actions. Yet that experience had nothing to do with the cult.
But even if, in accordance with Bousset's reconstruction, the title "Lord" was applied to Jesus under the influence of the ecstatic conditions that prevailed in the meetings of the Church, the origin of the title is not yet explained. How did the Christians at Antioch come to think that their ecstatic experiences were due to the fact that Jesus was presiding over their meetings? And if they did come to think so, why did they choose just the title "Lord" in order to express the dignity that they desired to attribute to Him?
At this point, Bousset has recourse to a comparison with the surrounding paganism. The term "Lord," he says, was common in the Hellenistic age as a title of the cult-gods of the various forms of worship. And the material which Bousset has collected in proof of this assertion is entirely convincing. Not only in the worship of the Emperors and other rulers, but also in the Hellenized religions of the East, the title "Lord" was well known as a designation of divinity. Indeed, Paul himself refers plainly to the currency of the title. "For though there be," he says, "that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth; as there are gods many, and lords many; yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him" (1 Cor. viii. 5, 6). In this passage, the "lords many" are of course heathen gods, and it is clearly implied that the term "lord" was the title which was given them by their own worshipers. Bousset is entirely correct, therefore, when he says that the title "Lord," at Antioch, at Tarsus, and everywhere in the Greco-Roman world, was clearly a title of divinity. Indeed, it may be added, the word "lord" was no whit inferior in dignity to the term "god." 1 When the early Christian missionaries, therefore, called Jesus "Lord," it was perfectly plain to their pagan hearers everywhere that they meant to ascribe divinity to Him and desired to worship Him.
Thus the currency of the title in pagan religion was of great importance for the early Christian mission. But that does not necessarily mean that the title was applied to Jesus in the first place because of the pagan usage, or that the ascription of divine dignity to Jesus was first ventured upon because the Christians desired to place the one whom they revered in a position at least equal to that of the pagan cultgods. It is these assertions which have not been proved. Indeed, they are improbable in the extreme. They are rendered improbable, for example, by the sturdy monotheism of the Christian communities. That monotheism was not at all impaired by the honor which was paid to Jesus; the Christian communities were just as intolerant of other gods as had been the ancient Hebrew prophets. This intolerance and exclusiveness of the early Church constitutes a stupendous difference between the Christian "Jesus-cult" and the cults of the other "Lords." The pagan cults were entirely tolerant; worship of one Lord did not mean the relinquishment of another. But to the Christians there was one Lord and one only. It is very difficult to see how in an atmosphere of such monotheism the influence of the pagan cults could have been allowed to intrude. Any thought of the analogy which an application of the title "Lord" to Jesus would set up between the meetings of the Church at Antioch and the worship of the heathen gods would have hindered, rather than have actually caused, the use of the title. Evidently the title, and especially the divine dignity of Jesus which the title expressed, were quite independent of the pagan usage.
1Warfleld, "'God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,'" in The Princeton Theological Review, xv, 1917, p. 18.
Certainly the mere fact that the Christians used a title which was also used in the pagan cults does not establish any dependence upon paganism. For the title "Lord"1 was almost as well established as a designation of divinity as was the term "God." 2 Whatever had been the origin of the religious use of the word, that use had become a part of the Greek language. A missionary who desired to proclaim the one true God was obliged, if he spoke in Greek, to use the term "God," which of course had been used in pagan religion. So if he desired to designate Jesus as God, by some word which at the same time would distinguish Him from God the Father, he was obliged to use the word "Lord," though that word also had been used in paganism. Neither in the one case nor in the other did the use of a Greek word involve the slightest influence of the conceptions which had been attached to the word in a polytheistic religion.
But there was a far stronger reason for the application of the Greek term "Lord" to Jesus than that which was found in its general currency among Greek-speaking peoples. The religious use of the term was not limited to the pagan cults, but appears also, and if anything even more firmly established, in the Greek Old Testament. The word "Lord" is used by the Septuagint to translate the "Jahwe" of the Hebrew text. It would be quite irrelevant to discuss the reasons which governed the translators in their choice of this particular word. No doubt some word for "Lord" was required by the associations which had already clustered around the Hebrew word. And various reasons may be suggested for the choice of "kyrios" rather than some other Greek word meaning "lord." 3 Possibly the root meaning of "kyrios" better expressed the idea which was intended; perhaps, also, a religious meaning had already been attached to "kyrios," which the other words did not possess. At any rate, whatever may have been the reason, "kyrios" was the word which was chosen. And the fact is of capital importance. For it was among the readers of the Septuagint that Christianity first made its way. The Septuagint was the Bible of the Jewish synagogues, and in the synagogues the reading of it was heard not only
1 xlipun. 1 Bt6t.
1 As, for example, Arqt&ox
by Jews but also by hosts of Gentiles, the "God-fearers" of the Book of Acts. It was with the "God-fearers" that the Gentile mission began. And even where there were Gentile converts who had not passed at all through the school of the synagogue—in the very earliest period perhaps such converts were few—even then the Septuagint was at once used in their instruction. Thus when the Christian missionaries used the word "Lord" of Jesus, their hearers knew at once what they meant. They knew at once that Jesus occupied a place which is ocoupied only by God. For the word "Lord" is used countless times in the Greek scriptures as the holiest name of the covenant God of Israel, and these passages were applied freely to Jesus.
This Septuagint use of the term "Lord," with the application of the Septuagint passages to Jesus, which' appears as a matter of course in the Epistles of Paul, was of vastly more importance for the early Christian mission than the use of the term in the pagan cults. And it sheds vastly more light upon the original significance of the term as applied to Jesus. But the pagan usage is interesting, and the exhibition of it by Bousset and others should be thankfully received. An important fact has been established more and more firmly by modern research—the fact that the Greek word "kyrios" in the first century of our era was, wherever the Greek language extended, distinctly a designation of divinity. The common usage of the word indeed persisted; the word still expressed the relation which a master sustained toward his slaves. But the word had come to be a characteristically religious term, and it is in the religious sense, especially as fixed by the Septuagint, that it appears in the New Testament.
Thus it is not in accordance with New Testament usage when Jesus is called, by certain persons in the modern Church, "the Master," rather than "the Lord." Sometimes, perhaps, this usage is adopted in conscious protest against the New Testament conception of the deity of Christ; Jesus is spoken of as "the Master," in very much the way in which the leader of a school of artists is spoken of as "the Master" by his followers. Or else the word means merely the one whose commands are to be obeyed. But sometimes the modern fashion is adopted by devout men and women with the notion that the English word "Lord" has been worn down and that the use of the word "Master" is a closer approach to the meaning of the Greek Testament. This notion is false. In translating the New Testament designation of Jesus, one should not desire to get back to the original meaning of the word "kyrios." For the Greek word had already undergone a development, and as applied to Jesus in the New Testament it was clearly a religious term. It had exactly the religious associations which are now possessed by our English word "Lord." And for very much the same reason. The religious associations of the English word "Lord" are due to Bible usage; and the religious associations of the New Testament word "kyrios" were also due to Bible usage—the usage of the Septuagint. The Christian, then, should remember that "a little learning is a dangerous thing." The uniform substitution of "the Master" for "the Lord" in speaking of Jesus hasonly a false appearance of freshness and originality. In reality it sometimes means a departure from the spirit of the New Testament usage.
Accordingly, Bousset has performed a service in setting in clear relief the religious meaning of the word "Lord." But he has not succeeded in explaining the application of that word to Jesus.
Further difficulties, moreover, beset Bousset's theory. The term "Lord" as applied to Jesus, and the religious attitude toward Jesus expressed by the term, arose, according to Bousset, in the meetings of such communities as the one at Antioch, and under the influence of pagan conceptions. But of course Bousset's explanation of the origin of Paulinism has not yet been completely set forth. Paulinism is something far more than an ecstatic worship of a cult-god; the personal relation to Christ dominates every department of the apostle's life.
Bousset recognizes this fact. The religion of Paul, he admits, is something far more than the religion which was expressed in the meetings of the Antioch Church. But he supposes that the other elements of Paul's religion, far-reaching as they are, had at least their starting-point in the cult. Here is to be found one of the least plausible elements in the whole construction. Bousset has underestimated the individualistic character of Paul's religion. At least he has not succeeded in showing that the Pauline life "in Christ" or "in the Lord" was produced by development from ecstatic experiences in the meetings of the Antioch Church.
But if the individualistic religion of Paul was developed from the "cult," how was it developed? How shall the introduction of the new elements be explained? Bousset has attacked this problem with great earnestness. And he tries to show that the religion of Paul as it appears in the Epistles was developed from the cult religion of Antioch by the identification of "the Lord" with "the Spirit," and by the generalizing and ethicizing of the conception of the Spirit's activity.
The Pauline doctrine of the Spirit, Bousset believes, was derived from the pagan mystical religion of the Hellenistic age. Quite aside from the matter of terminology—though the contentions of Reitzenstein are thought by Bousset to be essentially correct—the fundamental pessimistic dualism of Paul was based, according to Bousset, upon that widespread type of thought and life which appears in the mystery religions and in the Hermetic writings. According to this pessimistic way of thinking, salvation could never be attained by human nature, even with divine aid, but only by an entirely new beginning, produced by the substitution of the divine nature for the old man. By the apostle Paul, Bousset continues, this supernaturalism, this conception of the dominance of divine power in the new life, was extended far beyond the limits of the cult or of visionary experiences; the Spirit was made to be the ruling principle of the Christian's life; not only prophecy, tongues, healing, and the like, were now regarded as the fruit of the Spirit, but also love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control. But this Pauline extension of the Spirit's activity, Bousset insists, did not involve the slightest weakening of the supernaturalism which was characteristic of the original conception; the Spirit that produced love, joy, peace, had just as little to do with the human spirit as the Spirit that caused men to speak with tongues. And the supernaturalism which here appears in glorified form was derived, Bousset concludes, from the mystical pagan religion of the Hellenistic age.
This contention has already been discussed, and the weakness of it has been pointed out. The Pauline doctrine of the Spirit was not derived from contemporary paganism. But the exposition of Bousset's theory has not yet been finished. The Spirit whose activities were extended by Paul into the innermost recesses of the Christian's life was identified, Bousset says, with "the Lord" (2 Cor. iii. 17). This identification exerted an important influence upon both the elements that were brought together; it exerted an important influence upon the conception both of "the Lord" and of "the Spirit." If "the Lord" was identified, or brought into very close relation, with the Spirit, and if the Spirit's activity extended into the whole of life, then "the Lord" could no longer be for Paul merely the cult-god who was present in the meetings of the Church. On the contrary, He would have to be present everywhere where the Spirit was present—that is, He would have to be that in which the Christian lived and moved and had his being. Thus Paul could form the astonishing phrase "in Christ" or "in the Lord," for which Bousset admits that no analogy is to be found in pagan religion. On the other hand, the conception of the Spirit, Bousset believes, was necessarily modified by its connection with "the Lord." By the identification with an actual person who had lived but a few years before, "the Spirit" was given a personal quality which otherwise it did not possess. Or, to put the same thing in other words, the Pauline phrase "in the Lord" is not exactly the same in meaning as the phrase "in the Spirit"; for it possesses a peculiar personal character. "This remarkable mingling of abstraction and personality," says Bousset, "this connection of a religious principle with a person who had walked here on the earth and had here suffered death, is a phenomenon of peculiar power and originality."
At this point, Bousset is in danger of being untrue to the fundamental principles of his reconstruction; he is in danger of bringing the religion of Paul into connection with the concrete person of Jesus. But he detects the danger and avoids it. It must not be supposed, he says, that Paul had any very clear impression of the characteristics of the historical Jesus. For if he had had such an impression, he never could have connected Jesus with an abstraction like the Spirit. All that he was interested in, then, was the fact that Jesus had lived and especially that He had died.
Yet these bare facts are thought to have been sufficient to impart to Paul's notion of the Spirit-Lord that peculiar personal quality which arouses the admiration of Bousset! The truth is, Bousset finds himself at this point face to face with the difficulty which besets every naturalistic explanation of the genesis of Paul's religion. The trouble is that a close connection of Paul with the historical Jesus is imperatively required by the historian in order to impart to Paul's relation to Christ that warm, personal quality which shines out from every page of the Epistles; whereas, on the other hand, a wide separation of Paul from the historical Jesus is just as imperatively required in order that Paul might not be hampered by historical tradition in raising Jesus to divine dignity and in bringing Him into connection with the Spirit of God.
Modern criticism has wavered between the two requirements; it tries to preserve the rights of each. Bousset is more impressed by the second requirement; Wernle, his opponent, is more impressed by the former.1 But both are equally wrong. There is really only one way out of the difficulty. It is an old way and a radical way. But the world of scholarship may come back to it in the end. The fundamental difficulty in explaining the origin of Paulinism will never disappear by being ignored; it will never yield to compromises of any kind. It will disappear only when Jesus is recognized as being really what Paul presupposes Him to be and what all the Gospels represent Him as being—the eternal Son of God, come to earth for the redemption of man, now seated once more on the throne of His glory, and working in the hearts of His disciples through His Spirit, as only God can work. Such a solution was never so unpopular as it is to-day. Acceptance of it will involve a Copernican revolution in many departments of human thought and life. But refusal of such acceptance has left an historical problem which so far has not been solved.
At one point, Bousset admits, the religion of Paul was based upon an historical fact. It was based upon the death of Jesus. But the Pauline interpretation of the death of Jesus was derived, Bousset believes, in important particulars from contemporary pagan religion; the Pauline notion of dying and rising with Christ was formed under the influence of the widespread pagan conception of the dying and rising god. This assertion has become quite common among recent
1Wernle, "Jesus and Paulus. Antithesen ru Boussets Kyrios Christos," in Zeitschrift filr Theologie und Kirche, xxv, 1915, pp. 1-92.
scholars; material in support of it has been collected in convenient form by M. Bruckner.1 But as a matter of fact, the evidence in support of the assertion is of the feeblest kind.
The review of Hellenistic religion which was attempted in Chapter VI revealed, indeed, the fact that certain gods, especially Attis, Adonis, and Osiris, were represented first as dying and then as being resuscitated. The similarity of these figures to one another may perhaps be explained by the hypothesis that all of them were originally vegetation gods, whose death and resuscitation represented the withering of vegetation in the autumn and its renewal in the spring. At first sight, the parallel between these gods and Jesus may seem striking. Jesus also was represented as dying and as coming back to life again. But what is the significance of the parallel? Can it mean that the entire New Testament story of the death and resurrection of Jesus was derived from these vegetation myths? Such has been the conclusion of certain modern scholars. But of course this conclusion is absurd, and it is not favored by Bousset. The essential historicity of the crucifixion of Jesus under Pontius Pilate and of the rise of the belief in His resurrection among His intimate friends stands too firm to be shaken by any theory of dependence upon pagan myth. Thus the argument drawn from the parallel between the New Testament story and the pagan myth of the dying and rising god proves too much. If it proves anything, it proves that the New Testament story of the resurrection was derived from the pagan myth. But such a view has not been held by any serious historians. Therefore it will have to be admitted that the parallel between the belief that Adonis and Osiris and Attis died and rose again, and the belief that Jesus died and rose again was not produced by dependence of one story upon the other. It will have to be recognized, therefore, that a parallel does not always mean a relationship of dependence. And if it does not do so at one point, perhaps it does not do so at others.
But Bousset will insist that although the New Testament story of the death and resurrection of Jesus was not originally produced by the pagan myth, yet the influence of the pagan conception made itself felt in the interpretation which Paul placed upon the story. Paul believed that the Christian shared 1 Der sterbende und auferstehende Oottheitand, 1908.
the fate of Christ—died with Christ and rose with Christ. But a similar conception appears in the pagan religions. The classical expression of this idea appears in the oft-quoted words reported by Firmicus Maternus, "Be of good courage, ye initiates, since the god is saved; for to us there shall be salvation out of troubles."
But it must be remembered that the testimony of Firmicus Maternus is very late, and that the evidence for the prevalence of the conception in the early period is somewhat scanty. The confident assertions of recent writers with regard to these matters are nothing short of astonishing. Lay readers are likely to receive the impression that the investigator can reconstruct the conception of a dying and rising god, and of the share which the worshipers have in the death and resurrection, on the basis of some vast store of information in the extant sources. As a matter of fact, nothing of the sort is the case. The extant information about the conception in question is scanty in the extreme, and for the most part dates from long after the time of Paul.
It would be going too far, indeed, to assert that the conception of the dying and rising god, with its religious significance, was not in existence before the Pauline period. An ancient Egyptian text, for example, has been quoted by Erman, which makes the welfare of the worshiper depend upon that of Osiris: "Even as Osiris lives, he also shall live." 1 Very likely some such conceptions were connected also with the mourning and subsequent rejoicing for Attis and Adonis. But if the conception was existent in the pre-Pauline period, it by no means follows that it was common. Certainly its prevalence has been enormously exaggerated in recent years. Against such exaggerations, J. Weiss—who surely cannot be accused of any lack of sympathy with the methods of comparative religion as applied to the New Testament—has pertinently called attention to 1 Cor. i. 23. Christ crucified, Paul says, was "to the Gentiles foolishness."2 That does not look as though the Gentiles among whom Paul labored were very
1 Erman, "A Handbook of Egyptian Religion" (published in the original German edition as a handbook, by the Qeneralverwaltung of the Berlin Imperial Museum), 1907, p. 95.
1J. Weiss, "Das Problem der Entstehung des Christentums," in Archie fiir Religionswissenschaf t, xvi, 1913, p. 490.
familiar with the notion of a dying god. If the contentions of Bruckner were correct, if the conception of the dying god were as common in Paul's day as Bruckner supposes, the Cross would not have been "to the Gentiles foolishness"; on the contrary, it would have seemed to the Gentiles to be the most natural thing in the world.
But even if the early prevalence of the conception of a dying and rising god, with its religious significance, were better established than it is, the dependence of Paul upon that conception would by no means be proved. For the Pauline conception is totally different. One difference, of course, is perfectly obvious and is indeed generally recognized—the Pauline Christ is represented as dying voluntarily, and dying for the sake of men. He "loved me," says Paul, "and gave himself for me." There is absolutely nothing like that conception in the case of the pagan religions. Osiris, Adonis, and Attis were overtaken by their fate; Jesus gave His life freely away. The difference is stupendous; it involves the very heart of the religion of Paul. How was the difference caused? Whence was derived the Pauline conception of the grace of Christ? Was it derived from Jesus Himself? Was it derived from the knowledge which Paul had of the character of Jesus? The supposition might seem to be natural. But unfortunately, from the point of view of Bousset, it must be rejected. For if Paul had had any knowledge of Jesus' real character, how could he ever have supposed that Jesus, a mere man, was the heavenly Lord?
Another difference is even more fundamental. The death and resurrection of the pagan gods was a matter of the cult; the death and resurrection of the Pauline Christ was a fact of history. It has been observed in the review of Hellenistic religion that the cults in the pagan religions were much more firmly fixed than the myths; in the opinion of modern scholars, the myths were derived from the cults rather than vice versa. So in the case of the "dying and rising gods," one is struck above all things with the totally fluid character of the myths. The story of Attis, for example, is told in many divergent forms, and there does not seem to have been the slightest interest among the Attis worshipers for the establishment of any authentic account of the death and resurrection of the god. Particularly the "resurrection" of the god appears in the myths of Attis, Adonis, and Osiris scarcely at all. The real death and resurrection occurred only in the cult. Every year in March, the Attis-worshipers at Rome first saw the god lying dead as he was represented by the fir-tree, and then rejoiced in his resurrection. The death and resurrection were hardly conceived of as events which had happened once for all long ago. They were rather thought of as happening at every celebration of the festival.
The Pauline treatment of the death and resurrection of Christ is entirely different. By Bousset, indeed, the difference is partly obscured; Bousset tries to show .that the Pauline conception of the dying and rising of the believer with Christ was derived from the celebration of the sacraments. But there could be no more radical error. What is plainest of all in the Epistles is the historical character of the Pauline message. The religion of Paul was rooted in an event, and the sacraments were one way of setting forth the significance of the event. The event was the redemptive work of Christ in His death and resurrection.
Here lies the profoundest of all differences between Paul and contemporary religion. Paulinism was not a philosophy; it was not a set of directions for escape from the misery of the world; it was not an account of what had always been true. On the contrary, it was an account of something that had happened. The thing that had happened, moreover, was not hidden in the dim and distant past. The account of it was not evolved as a justification for existing religious forms. On the contrary, the death and resurrection of Jesus, upon which Paul's gospel was based, had happened only a few years before. And the facts could be established by adequate testimony; the eyewitnesses could be questioned, and Paul appeals to the eyewitnesses in detail. The single passage, 1 Cor. xv. 1-8, is sufficient to place a stupendous gulf between the Pauline Christ and the pagan saviour-gods. But the character of Paulinism does not depend upon one passage. Everywhere in the Epistles Paul stakes all his life upon the truth of what he says about the death and resurrection of Jesus. The gospel which Paul preached was an account of something that had happened. If the account was true, the origin of Paulinism is explained; if it was not true, the Church is based upon an inexplicable error.
This latter alternative has been examined in the preceding discussion. If Jesus was not the divine Redeemer that Paul says He was, how did the Pauline religion of redemption arise? Three great hypotheses have been examined and have been found wanting. Paulinism, it has been shown, was not based upon the Jesus of modern naturalism; if Jesus was only what He is represented by modern naturalistic historians as being, then what is really distinctive of Paul was not derived from Jesus. The establishment of that fact has been a notable achievement of Wrede and Bousset. But if what is essential in Paulinism was not derived from Jesus, whence was it derived? It was not derived, as Wrede believed, from the preChristian apocalyptic notions of the Messiah; for the apocalyptic Messiah was not an object of worship, and not a living person to be loved. It was not derived from pagan religion, in accordance with the brilliant hypothesis of Bousset; for pagan influence is excluded by the self-testimony of Paul, and the pagan parallels utterly break down. But even if the parallels were ten times closer than they are, the heart of the problem would not even have been touched. The heart of the problem is found in the Pauline relation to Christ. That relation cannot be described by mere enumeration of details; it cannot be reduced to lower terms; it is an absolutely simple and indi-> visible thing. The relation of Paul to Christ is a relation of love; and love exists only between persons. It is not a group of ideas that is to be explained, if Paulinism is to be accounted for, but the love of Paul for his Saviour. And that love is rooted, not in what Christ had said, but in what Christ had done. He "loved me and gave Himself for me." There lies the basis of the religion of Paul; there lies the basis of all of Christianity. That basis is confirmed by the account of Jesus which is given in the Gospels, and given, indeed, in all the sources. It is opposed only by modern reconstructions. And those reconstructions are all breaking down. The religion of Paul was not founded upon a complex of ideas derived from Judaism or from paganism. It was founded upon the historical Jesus. But the historical Jesus upon whom it was founded was not the Jesus of modern reconstruction, but the Jesus of the whole New Testament and of Christian faith; not a teacher who survived only in the memory of His disciples, but the Saviour who after His redeeming work was done still lived and could still be loved.