History of Biblical Psychology

Sec. I.

BIBLICAL PSYCHOLOGY is no science of yesterday. It is one of the oldest sciences of the church. As early as the second century, we find, in the literature of the period, a book irepl ^u^? Kal au>fiaro<; 77 (read Kal) voo?, by Melito of Sardis,1 of which Eusebius and Jerome make mention; and early in the beginning of the third century, the work composed by Tertullian in his Montanist days, De Animd, as the first ecclesiastical attempts to supersede the Phcedo of Plato, and Aristotle's third book, irepl i/rvxr}?. The work of Tertullian comprises all the leading dogmas on the subject of psychology, and pursues the history of the soul from its eternal source and temporal mode of origination, through its present duration and fundamental conditions, into the state beyond the grave. Tertullian's treatise, De censu animce adversus Hermogenem, wherein he maintained against his opponent the divine and immaterial derivation (census) of the soul, is unfortunately lost to us. This loss is greatly to be deplored, because the writings of a teacher so able and so rarely endowed as Tertullian, are still an inexhaustible mine of profound knowledge. The tract irepl ^1^?, addressed to Tatian by Gregory Thaumaturgus, the pupil and friend of Origen,2 is a worthless and probably a spurious work. Hence, therefore, Melito and Tertullian must be regarded as the only worthy inaugurators of the psychological literature of the church. In the fourth century its foundations were strengthened by the

1 According to Rufinus, its title runs, De anima et corpore el mente; according to Jerome, as in the Syriac version of Eusebins' Eccl. Hist., only De anima et corpore. See Cureton, Spicilegium Syriacum, p. 96, and the splendidly rhetorical passage there quoted from it, p. 58.

* See Mbhler, Patrologie, i. 663.

abundant psychological elements contained in the works of the three great Cappadocians, especially Gregory of Nyssa (and among them more particularly his dialogue, irepl i/ry^< ; Ka^ avaardaew; irpb<; rrjv dSekcf>}jv MaKplvav, edited by Krabinger, 1837, and briefly known as ra MaKplvia), which were produced by E. W. Moller in his treatise upon Gregorii Nysseni doctrina de hominis natura (1854), and systematically and thoroughly compared with that of Origen; and the still more copious works of Augustine (among them De anima et ejus origine, and the anti-Manichaean treatise De duabus animabus), from which the Roman Catholic theologian Theodore Gangauf in Augsburg compiled his metaphysical psychology of St Augustine (1852). After this appeared, in the beginning of the fifth century, if not even earlier, the excellent work of Nemesius,1 bishop of Emesa, 'rrepl cpvaeo><; avdpwirov, scientifically based on the Aristotelian plan, and the Libri tres de statu animce, directed against Faustus Regiensis by Claudianus Mamercus (Mamertus), the special purpose of which is to prove that the soul is neither corporeal nor local; in the sixth century, the treatise of Cassiodorus, De anima, in twelve chapters, beginning from the meaning of the word, and the conception of the soul, and closing with its future condition; in the seventh century, the commentary of Johannes Philoponus on Aristotle's work on the soul, which appeared in Venice2 in 1535, edited by Trincavelli. Moreover, to this catalogue belong the Theophrastus of the converted Platonist Aeneas of Gaza, finally edited by Boissonade 1836, being a dialogue on the immortality of the soul (about 490); and at the close of the patristic age, the fourth book of the dialogues of Gregory the Great, treating de mtatiitate animarum (593-4). In addition to these, when we name the numerous writings on the Hexaemeron, and especially on the creation of man (e.g. those of Lactantius and Anastasius of Sinai), and the many writings upon the resur

1 Edited by Chr. F. Mattbaei, Halle 1802-8. The treatise taken up into the editions of the works of Gregory of Nyssa, ittpX y^vxi; ««' duxorxatu;, is the second and third chapter of this work of Nemesius.

* The Ao'|«/ irtpi published by Tarinus with Origen's Philocalia

(Paris 1619), and by Caspar Barth. with Mamercus' three books, De statu animse (Zwickau 1655), are excerpla from Philoponus. See Creuzer's Essay, Schriften ChrislKcher I'hilosophen iiber die Seek, in his German writings, Bee. iii. vol. ii.

rection, beginning with Justin Martyr or (if his treatise preserved in fragments be considered spurious) with Athenagoras; finally, the multitude of Christologic and Soteriologic monographs, which entered upon psychologic problems,—it is plain that the ancient church had a psychological literature that claims respect no less for its extent than for its substance.

When, in the middle- ages, Christian science became more systematic, and the most distinguished teachers confessed, after Augustine's example, that in the knowledge of one's self is the starting-point of all knowledge, the subject of psychology became a fundamental element of the Summa, or the complete doctrine. But psychology was treated of by scholars of all kinds in specific treatises also, not only by the specially scholastic, but by the natural philosophers and the mystics, partly in the form of commentaries on Aristotle's third book on the soul, as by Alexander of Hales, Peter de Alliaco, and others; partly in independent monographs, as by Erigena, William of Champeaux, Hugo of St Victor, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, and others,—a long list which closed in the fifteenth century with the Viola animce seu de natura hominis of Raymund Sabunde, an abridgment in the form of a dialogue of his great work on natural theology, which is in some degree the keystone of the whole scholastic literature. From these works there is still much to be learnt even in the present day; for with the dialectic mode of thought of those times, there was associated a calm introverted contemplativeness, and a living experience almost elevated into ecstasy. But in general it is their reproach that their minds ran more in Aristotelian than in biblical modes of thought; in addition to which, it was an inconvenience, that as the readers of Aristotle did not understand his works in their original language, they were in a great measure dependent upon the Mohammedan translators and interpreters. Even in Dante's Divina Commedia the psychologic terminology is Aristotelian; for in Dante's estimation Aristotle is the master of those who know (il maestro di color che sanno). There runs, indeed, also through the literature of the middle ages, a strong tendency towards freedom from this dependent relation. Combining Plato with Aristotle, men sought to read immediately in the Book of Nature, and to draw out of the depth of the soul's consciousness; but they did not see their way to a free and undivided reference to the teaching of Holy Scripture; and even had they wished to draw from that source immediately, their ignorance of its language would not allow them to appeal to it at first-hand.

It was only by means of the Reformation that a really free scriptural inquiry on all sides became possible. Psychology could then bring its traditional store of knowledge into the light of Scripture, and thus it advanced into a new phase. Contemporary with Budseus, Erasmus, and Vives, who were esteemed the triumvirate of science, the German Reformation had, moreover, as its representative a humanist of the highest rank; and the three books of Vives, De anima et vita (1538), which aim at simplifying the received formula of Being,1 appeared almost at the same time as Melancthon's Commentarius de anima (1540), the first compendium of psychology written in Germany. He frequently gave lectures upon it before immense audiences, and published it anew in 1552 under the title, Liber de anima. Even here also, Aristotle, whom Melancthon could read in the original as none of the scholastics could, is the highest authority next to Scripture, but his chains are nevertheless broken; and although many psychologic writings of the scholastics surpass that of Melancthon in fulness and depth of thought, it is superior to them all in a more elegant learning, and a sounder, a more liberal, and a more serene spiritual luminousness. As in Wittenberg, so also in other German universities during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, psychology was studied, and disputations were held on psychological questions with peculiar interest. The Collegium psychologicum, edited by John Conrad Dannhauer in his twenty-fourth year, at Altorf (1627), consists of seven such academical disputations. The internal progress of the science, however, was not so considerable as it might have been. The period in question was deeply conservative, and was satisfied with what was already known and dogmatically formulated. In matters on which the creed of the church had not yet decided, men clung too anxiously to anciently established views as maintained by the majority of orthodox teachers, and had no eyes

1 Vives is in favour of unity of the soul: Anima 'humana inferiores omnes vita sua continet. Humana mens spiritus est, per quem corpus, cui est connexus, vivit, aptus cognitioni Dei.

to see clearly and without prejudice the rays of truth which shone also outside the range of the church's confessions of faith. Many a truth, sound, as rightly understood, was rejected on account of possible and actual heretical consequences: as, for instance, the trichotomy of human nature. Many a psychologically significant statement of Scripture—as, for instance, upon the intermediate state hetween death and the resurrection—was not done justice to. Mysticism, theosophy (with its master Jacob Bohme,1 incomparably and divinely taught, notwithstanding all the errors into which he was hurried by his zeal against the dead orthodoxy and the miserable ignorance of natural science that then prevailed), the science of medicine, which acknowledged the authority of Scripture, and chemistry (represented especially by Paracelsus2 and John Baptista von Helmont, investigators3 who, in their daring originality, not unfrequently forestalled the lapse of centuries): these, in their more liberal movement, anticipated many a conclusion which has since been undeniably established by scriptural investigation and knowledge. At that time it was a misfortune for psychology as a science of the church, that the method of systematizing was so prevalent, and the habit of searching for the testimony of Scripture rather by reference to individual texts than to the general scope and harmony of Scripture,—a habit which, above all, changed the analogia Jidei from a rule of scriptural interpretation into a measure of what Scripture contained. But Caspar Bartholinus (ob. 1629), the celebrated teacher of medicine and theology in the University of Copenhagen, drew out, in his Manuductio ad veram Psychologiam e sacris Uteris, a sketch of biblical psychology in which, although only slightly put together in an ungraceful style, and deficient in just exegetic basis, there may neverthe

1 Besides his Psychologia vera, or Forty Questions about the Soul, and Psychologise supplementum, Das umgewandte Auge is on the same subject (voL vi. of the collected works in the new edition of Schiebler).

* See Preu, System of Medicine of Theophrastus Paracelsus, 1838, in -which also the psychology of the great reformer of medical science is exhibited in excerpla from his works.

3 In his psychological writings, says Spiess (John Baptista von Helmont's System of Medicine (1840), sec. 53), Helmont exhibits himself in his greatest depth and peculiarity; and he not seldom succeeds in forcing his way into all the clearness of which so difficult a subject is capable.

less be discerned, in the courage which breaks through the customary formalities of scholasticism, some signs of promise in that province of thought.1

An entirely new era of scriptural investigation commenced with John Albert Bengel (ob. 1752). Hitherto scriptural inquiry had almost exclusively served for the apologeticopolemical proof of truth already acknowledged. Now men began, as well of free will as of divine necessity, to devote themselves to the Scriptures, that they might bring the knowledge already possessed into the light anew, and deepen and extend it. Oetinger's Inquisitio in sensum communem (1752), and the Fundamenta Psychologies ex sacra Scriptura collecta (1769) of Magnus Friedrich Roos, were fruits of this healthy revolution, as also were several psychological treatises of Chr. Aug. Crusius (who among the Saxons trod in the footsteps of the above scriptural inquirers of Wurtemburg), viz. upon superstition, upon magic, and generally upon man's relation to the spirit-world.2 All these are only preludes to a biblical psychology; even the tract of Roos3 itself, which has become very rare, brings together the texts of Scripture treating of tyvxrf, irvevfia, KapSia without any principle, and in this lexiconlike and mechanical method neither formally nor actually satisfies the problem of biblical psychology. But the fundamental maxim, ita accedere ad scripturam ut nullum prcestruatur systema, gives, notwithstanding, to this little volume an air of living freshness which enables it to contrast advantageously

1 With respect to him, see Tholuck's Martyrs of the Lutheran Church of all ranks before and during the lime of the Thirty Years' War (1859), p. 234. According to Michaud's Bibliographie Universelle, torn. iii. (Paris 1843), p. 193, the Manuductio appeared in Copenhagen in 1618-9; but I have failed to discover or to gain any intelligence of this edition: it is not even in the possession of the Library at Copenhagen. Subsequently, however, I found that the Manuductio is adopted into the Systema Physicum, which appeared at Hanover in 1628. It is from this compilation that I have given it in the appendix to these Prolegomena, only omitting some trifling and unessential matters.

1 They are enumerated in my Biblico-prophetical Theology (1845), p. 140.

* It has now appeared in a German translation (by Cremer of Unna), under the title of Grundzilge der Seelenlehre aus heiliger Schrift, Stuttgart, at Steinkopf's, 1857. Compare the notice of Sprinkhardt in Reuters Repertorium, 1858, pp. 41-45.

'with writings of such low rationalistic views as the Psychology of the Hebrews of Friedr. Aug. Cams (published in 1809, after the author's death), and as Ge. Fr. Seiler's Animadversiones ad Psychologiam Sacram (1778-1787), which is not much higher in its view than the former.1 And for this reason it has not been without influence. For, as the result of the Fundamenta Psychologica of Roos, appeared not only Stirm's extremely careful researches in anthropologic exegesis in the Tubinger Zeitschrift fur Theologie, 1834, but also J. T. Beck's Umriss der biblischen Seelenlehre, 1843,-^-the first attempt to reduce biblical psychology into a scientific form, and to promote its claim to an articulated relation and an independent existence in the organism of entire theology. The author treats (1) of the soul-life of humanity as Nephesch (soul); (2) how it is distinguished from Ruach (spirit); (3) how it is comprehended in the Leb (heart). We do not misapprehend the propriety of this threefold division; nay, we thankfully acknowledge, that by its means Beck has succeeded in throwing light on many aspects of the subject of biblical psychology; but probably there would be few readers who would not gather from the compendiums of Roos and Beck the impression that this vast scaffolding is not sufficient to provide for all the varied abundance of the subject, and that there needs another less abstract principle of division to articulate it in a living manner, and to separate it with understanding. The historical method leads more surely to such a result. An excellent little compendium by J. G. F. Haussmann, Die Biblische Lehre vom Menschen (1848), adopts this course, adhering in other respects to Beck. It begins with the origin of man, and ends with the new humanity and its perfection,—a biblical anthropology,—established in respect of psychology and somatology in the relation of the whole to its parts. Along with these two treatises of Beck and Hauss

1 The Biblical Anthropology of Franz Oberthur (Professor of Dogmatic in Wurzburg) (vol. i. edit. 2, 1826; vols, ii.-iv. 1808-1810: second part of his dogmatics, according to the author's design) misleads by its title, bat deserves no sort of consideration at all. Equally -misleading by ita name is Grohmann's Anthropologie des alten unii neuen Testaments, in Nasse's Zeitschrift filr die Anthropologie, 1824, iii. It is a survey of the Old and New Testament history, "according to anthropologic pointe of view."

, mann may be named the monographs of Gust. Friedr. Oehler, Veteris teslamenti sententia de rebus post mortem futuris (1846); of Heinr. Aug. Hahn, Veteris testamenti sententia de natura hominis (1846); and, by way of a copious collection of the materials of biblical psychology, the work of Bottcher, De inferis rebusque postmortem futuris (1846). Moreover, also, those portions of the Schriftbeweis of J. Chr. K. von Hofmann which trench upon biblical psychology (especially in the doctrine of the creation and the last things), with which are to be compared the kindred sections on prophecy and its fulfilment (especially sees. iii. and iv.), as also with the Christian Ethics of G. Chr. Ad. von Harless,1 and the full, carefully executed, but rather critically negative than positively constructive portion of Ge. Ludw. Hahn's Theologie des Neuen Testaments, which bears on the subject of anthropology (vol. i. pp. 385-475). Moreover, the compendiums of anthropology and psychology by G. H. von Schubert (1842, edit. 2), of Christian Heinr. Zeller (edit. 2, 1850), of Jos. Beck (edit. 4, 1852), and of Karl Phil. Fischer (1850), to which was added not long ago the Seelenlehre of G. Mehring (1857),—a work rich in substantial knowledge, but not yet noticed as it deserves;—all breathe a biblical spirit. These labours, and what the three veterans, Jos. Ennemoser (ob. 1854), Christoph. Ad. von Eschenmauer (pb. 1852), and G. H. von Schubert (ob. 1860), in the course of a long life of unceasing effort and rich in experience, have accomplished for experimental psychology and its history, supply such abounding materials for biblical psychology, that in the necessary process of rigid sifting, it has some difficulty to avoid being choked. The three last inquirers have in common the tendency to the profoundest depths of thought. The most spiritual and the finest of their "works is von Schubert's Geschichte der Seele, in two vols. (4th edit. 1850), of which the compendium Der Menschen und Seekn Kunde is only an abridgment, and to which the book Ueber die Krankheiten und Storungen der Menschlichen Seele (1845), together with the 3d vol. on the

1 Both Harless and Hofmanu dispute the possibility of a system of biblical psychology; but, nevertheless, the works of both the one and the other are substantially on subjects connected with biblical psychology, and are concerned in the reducing to system views of the same science. More on this matter in the following section.

Geschichte der Nalur (3d edit. 1855), and the Symbolik des Traums (edit. 3, 1840),1 do in some measure belong as supplements. The above-named works of investigators, both theological and untheological, deserve our gratitude, as having rendered to biblical psychology a help not yet fully estimated. To this science also C. F. Goschel has afforded (apart from his speculative writings) welcome service, in his work on the profound fulness of meaning of the creative writings of Dante Alighieri.2 Yet, nevertheless, when in the year 1855 this very work appeared,—the System der biblischen Psychologie,—theology was constrained to bear testimony to her own poverty, to the effect that, since the new era of scriptural interpretation that began with Bengel, the books of Roos and Beck had been the only attempts, with all the present exegetical resources, to establish anew a science whose necessity had been acknowledged as early as the first Christian centuries. At the present time, when after long delays I am for the second time putting forth my system of biblical psychology, the number of fellowlabourers in this field are seen to be most gratifyingly upon the increase. Besides the really valuable treatment of single portions and aspects of biblical psychology by v. Zezschwitz (Profangrdcitat und biblisclier Sprachgeist, 1859), Schoberlein (Ueber das Wesen der geistlichen Natur und Leiblichkeit, in the Annual Register of German Theology, 1861), and others whom we shall have occasion to name further on, the entire scientific material of the subject is carefully elaborated anew, with critical reference to my treatment of it, in special writings of Goschel (Der Mensch nach Leib, Seele, und Geist diesseits und jenseits, 1856) and v. Rudloff (Die Lehre vom Menschen nach Geist, Seele, und Leib, 1858). Grateful for the positive instruction and critical suggestions received from these and many other sources, I am nevertheless attempting the subject once more.

1 Newly published by F. II. Rancke, 1862.

2 Especially deserving of consideration are the following works: Dante Alighieri's Unterweisung iiber Weltschopfung und Weltordnung diesseits und jenseits, 1842; Dante Alighieri's Osterfeier in Zwillings-gestern des Himmlischen Paradieses, 1849; and the Easter gift in a similar way, everywhere pointing to Dante, Zur Lehre von den letzten Dingen, 1850.