Ecce Deus: Studies Of Primitive Christianity.pdf
Read online or download a free book: Ecce Deus: Studies Of Primitive Christianity
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (27 July 2014)
By: William Benjamin Smith (Author)
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Their belief he dismisses as impossible to the modern, reasoning mind, though held consistently by numbers so constituted mentally that they can accept this phenomenon, as it were in a compartment of the mind shut away from reason itself. It is with the historicists that he joins issue. Their position he defines as illogical, unhistorical, as pregnable at every point. Modern reason cannot accept Jesus as both God and man. The most acute and profound attempts to prove him merely an historical character fail signally, therefore but one thesis is left to stand: he must be a humanized God, and this thesis Professor Smith establishes through a series of carefully investigated proofs, which form the main argument of the book and are supplemented and strengthened in a series of addenda.
The personality of Jesus, of which the historicists make so much, Professor Smith cannot find as distinctive enough to have been the source of such a world moving power as Christianity. There were many personalities, among whom that of the Jesus as a man was by no means conspicuous or powerful. Rather it was the worship of God, the one God, under the name, aspect or person of the Jesus that formed the 'primitive and indefectible essence of the primitive preaching and propaganda.' Many names were used for this but the one, Jesus, the World Savior, made the most powerful appeal and expressed, too, the meaning and purpose of proto-Christianity. For this the author shows, from the writings both within and without the New Testament, was the propagation of monotheism throughout a world given over to polytheism. Herein lay the unifying purpose of primitive Christianity: this gives the key to the understanding of the gospel story. Esoteric this early teaching was. Launched into a hostile heathen world Christianity must needs at first speak in parables and teach in secret what would eventually be proclaimed upon the housetops. In this is explained the symbolism of the New Testament set forth in parables and in miracles. It was to a world worshiping the demons of polytheism that the gospel of one God, a pure monotheism, came with its healing power. This is the preaching and teaching of gospels, epistles and apocalypse. The rich symbolism involved in this idea was evident enough to the gospel writers as well as to their Gnostic interpreters and other thinkers. The author of the fourth gospel, particularly, was a consummate artist in dramatic picturing of the symbolic teaching, which formed the early Christian consciousness. He represents in his story the 'Jesus-cult giving sight to the blind, curing the cripple, raising the dead and corrupt Pagandom to life,... converting the mere water of Jewish purifications, rites and ceremonies into vivifying wine of the Spirit,' etc.
The author's discussion of the symbolism opens up with remarkable clearness that power and sublimity which he conceives to be the true message and import of the gospel story. The didactic element, too, testifies not to a human personality, a wise and amiable Rabbi. The sayings are not distinctive enough. They have rather the stamp of sententious maxims and teachings known throughout the world, ready at hand to be utilized by the new propaganda.
The author strongly insists that Christianity did not arise in one moment, from one personality as a center. It was the growth of time, the upspringing of a movement long preparing. The monotheistic impulse lying in the heart of the race had been strengthened by the forces of history....
—:The Psychoanalytic Review, Volume 2
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