You are here

Lecture 7: Jewish and Christian Hellenism

IN order to understand the further development of Christian Theology from Paul to the Church Fathers, we must in the first place cast a glance over the Jewish-Greek philosophy of religion of Philo, the contemporary of Paul, who hardly less than the apostle prepared for the formation of Christian dogma in Alexandria, the meeting-point of Greek and Oriental culture. The numerous and prosperous Jewish colony which had existed there since the second century before Christ had become so Hellenised, that its members were wont to read their own Sacred Scriptures only in the Greek translation of the Septuagint. In daily intercourse with educated Greeks, the better class of Jews could not withdraw themselves from the influence of Greek culture: they began to occupy themselves with Greek philosophy, and found in it so much that was akin to their own faith that they thought the Greek sages must have borrowed their doctrines from Moses. But when they rendered the Jewish faith into the terms of the Greek philosophy, it could not fail, conversely, that they should also read the thoughts of the Greek philosophy into their own sacred writings, with the purer ideas of the Divine being and working, and of the moral destination of man, which they had learned from the Greek philosophy. Many traits of the Biblical narratives, in which God was represented as acting wholly according to the manner of men, could only be brought into accord with these ideas by allegorical adaptation. By means of the same method the Stoics had also already sought to harmonise the mythology of the popular religion with their metaphysical and moral views. The allegorical interpretation of Scripture by Philo was therefore not a new and arbitrary invention of his own: he only brought into a system what others had already similarly practised before him, and what in similar times of transition always offers itself as a make-shift, in order to harmonise a new way of thinking with an old tradition to which the advanced spirit feels itself still bound by pious considerations, and so seeks to bring them into harmonious connection.

Nor even in regard to their contents were points of contact wanting between the Jewish Theology and the Greek Philosophy of that time. The Jewish opposition of God and world had found its counterpart since Plato in the opposition of spirit and matter, of world of ideas and world of sense; and the mediation of this opposition which the Stoic and Neo-Pythagorean philosophy found in divine powers and demons corresponded to the angels, the spirit and the wisdom of God, which played in the Judaism of that time the same rôle of mediator between God and the sensible world. The longing of the Greek ethics was turned towards a higher revelation of the truth than that hitherto attained by reflection, and it aimed at a religious grounding of ethics; and these two things were furnished by the faith of the Jew in the positive revelation of God in the law of Israel. The Jewish thinkers, on the other hand, strove after elevation above the limits of the national faith in God and the sensuous worship by means of a spiritualisation of the traditional notions, and for these the Greek philosophy furnished the abstract conceptions and the dialectical method. However different the starting-point of the two series of development had been, and however different the spirit of Hellenism and Judaism still always remained, yet so many related ideas and tendencies had developed themselves on both sides that a reciprocal attraction could not but arise between them, nor could they fail to set together into a new crystallisation on the soil of the Alexandrian mixing of the peoples. On both sides they had reached a point at which, with the feeling of their own weaknesses and difficulties, the need of over-stepping the previous limits, of extending the circle of vision, of completing their own incapacity by reception of new elements of culture, pressed themselves upon them irresistibly. From these relationships of the time is explained the rise of the Jewish Hellenic philosophy, whose most important representative was the Alexandrian Jew Philo.

Philo led into a common channel the long since converging streams of the Greek philosophy as a world-wisdom, and of the Jewish theology as a divine wisdom, and this he did by finding the fitting intellectual form for the related views. Above all, the transcendence of the Jewish theism became connected in his thought with the transcendence of the Platonic idea, into that abstract dialectic view of the divine nature which empties it of all determinations in order to fill it again, notwithstanding, with all perfections. According to Philo, God is not only not to be thought of in an anthropomorphic way as like man, but He is as such without attributes; He is exalted above all conception, and He is not properly to be designated by any name. One cannot know of Him what He is, but only that He is and what He is not. He is not in space, not in time, not changeable, not in need of anything; He is absolutely simple, purer than the one, better than the good, more beautiful than the beautiful, more blessed than the blest. He is who He is; only being can absolutely belong to Him as a predicate. Nevertheless this divine being receives two significant determinations with which the Alexandrian philosopher raises himself above the emptiness of Agnosticism. From the Stoic philosophy he takes the conception of the efficient Cause, and from the Platonic philosophy that of the highest good. God is the perfect One, who reveals Himself only in beneficent operations; evils either arise not at all from Him but from matter, or partly come only indirectly from Him and directly from subordinate spirits, the instruments of His government. According to Philo, the perfection of God excludes generally all immediate influence upon the world, because He would thereby be defiled through contact with matter, that chaotic and changeable being. Hence His working can be thought of as only mediated through ministering “powers,” as Philo says with the Stoics; or through “ideas,” according to Plato; or through “angels,” according to the Old Testament. But these individual powers are all comprised in the one “Logos.” In this conception, the turning-point of his system, there are combined in Philo's view the Judaic ideas of the wisdom and the word of God with the Stoical conception of the Divine reason indwelling in the world. Like the latter conception, the “Logos” of Philo is a metaphysical principle which forms and preserves the world by separation and combination of opposites, and it is designated at one time impersonally, as the bond, law, necessity of the universe, and again personally, as the One who orders and directs all. But it is distinguished from the Stoical “Logos” and the Jewish “Wisdom” by this, that it is not identical either with God or with matter, but it is what mediates between the two. In relation to God the Logos is the oldest or first-born Son, His image, and it is therefore also straightway called “a second God”; in contrast to the world, the Logos is both the Ideal according to which, and the efficient Power through which, all things and especially man have been created. And as the mediator of the creation, the Logos is also the mediator of all religious revelation. He is therefore called on the one hand the Servant, Ambassador, Substitute, Interpreter, Angel of God, and on the other hand the Representative, High Priest, Intercessor, and Advocate (Paraclete) of men: entering as mediator between the two members, He guarantees to both the continued existence of the order of the world. He is thus especially the active instrument of the revelation of God in Israel; it was He who conversed in Paradise with our first parents, who appeared in bodily form to the Patriarchs and as a Pillar of Fire in the wilderness to the people of Israel, and who revealed Himself to Moses on Sinai and communicated to hint in the law the sum of all wisdom. But even outside of the sacred history the Logos is the principle of all true knowledge and of all goodwill in man; it is only where He or the Spirit of God (who seems in this respect to be identical with Him) dwells in the souls of men, and is active as teacher and leader (physician and medicine), cupbearer and heavenly drink, that men are able to be delivered from the bondage of the senses, and to find the way home from the earthly world to the invisible City of God.

The necessity of this helpful revelation of the Divine Logos or Spirit rests upon the weakness of the human soul, which, as Philo taught with Plato, has sunk out of a higher world down into the visible world, and feels itself shut up in the body as in a prison. The material body is the ground and seat of all evil, of all error, and of all unblessedness. Philo sought to harmonise this theory with the Biblical history of creation by finding the creation of a double man indicated in the two accounts of the creation in Genesis i. and ii.: an ideal heavenly man, who is bodiless and sexless and the immediate image of the Logos, or even the Logos Himself (for the two conceptions pass into each other); and the earthly sensuous man, who is sexually divided and is only an imperfect copy of that ideal man,—for the heavenly part which the former has of the latter is combined with earthly matter, and has thus become a being of mixed good and evil, standing in the middle between the angel and the beast. But even within mankind Philo also distinguishes between two kinds: some men spring from below, and are irrecoverably bound to sense; the others have a Divine spirit breathed into them, so that they live according to reason. The picture which Philo draws of the latter class corresponds indeed to that of the Stoical wise man, but with an essential difference as regards the mode in which this ethical ideal is to be realised. Whereas the Stoical ethics in their older form had thrown the wise man entirely upon his own resources, and left him to rise, through the power of the rational will itself, to the height of morality, Philo, on the other hand, was far too deeply possessed by a conviction of human weakness and native sinfulness for him to hold that the redemption of man by his own power was possible. This redemption can only be the effect of Divine grace, to which man has to surrender himself in pious trust. With Philo, as with the Neo-Pythagoreans, and later with the Neo-Platonists, ethics became a religious doctrine of salvation, which shows the way in which man, under the illuminating and animating influence of the Divine Logos, attains to faith and vision, and finally to mystic ecstatic union with God.

But in so far as the Logos, who is the Leader of every soul on the way of salvation, has revealed Himself typically in the history of Israel, the ethics of Philo obtains its positive basis in the religious tradition of Israel. The question as to the actuality of the “wise man”—always a problematical point in the Stoical philosophy—finds here its solution in the faith of the Jewish community: the abstract Ideal of the perfect man is embodied for the religious apprehension in the forms of the sacred history, and above all in the person of Moses. To Moses all the predicates of the Logos, and even his name, are attributed in a way which verges very closely on the notion of an incarnation. Moses is called the sinless Mediator and Atoner, a Redeemer and Intercessor for his people, Prophet, Priest, and King in one person, an example for all souls, a Leader and saviour of humanity, the friend of God and participator of the Divine nature. In Philo's work on the life of Moses one may see a companion-picture to Plato's ideal sketch of Socrates and to the Johannine transfiguration of the Synoptic Jesus. Nevertheless, the historical ideal picture of Moses is not yet the exhausting and lasting revelation of the Logos; but Philo still expects a higher revelation of the Logos in a superhuman appearance, which is yet to appear visible to all in order to fulfil Israel's hopes, and, with the victory of the elect people over all the nations, at the same time to bring the true religion of the one God to universal dominion. However, the Messianic faith in Philo is limited to this definite indication—it is engaged in stripping off its earthly national form in favour of a universal spiritual hope of the future. But more important for Philo still than this hope was the hope of the individual immortality of pious souls.

This is the system of Philo, which became so important for the future of religion, because it connected for the first time the religious way of thinking of the East with the philosophy of the West, and thus created the unitive view of the world of Hellenism, into the frame of which Christianity could then fit the new religious experiences. From the Greek side sprang the idealistic tendency, the striving above the sensuous to the spirit, above the temporal to the eternal, above the divided to the one and universal: a high striving but abstract idealism, which did not pass beyond the opposition of the upper and the lower, the spiritual and sensible world, however much it strove to overcome the gulf, theoretically, by its doctrine of middle beings, and practically, by its asceticism and ecstatic states. From the Jewish religion, on the one hand, sprang the faith in the one God of nature and history, who, as governor of the historical life of the peoples, pursues moral ends, and through historical acts of revelation paves the way for the realisation of a moral kingdom of God. Thereby the historical life received a teleological valuable content, such as was wanting in the Greek idealism. But that idealism had proper to itself, in contrast, a spiritual universalism which was strikingly fitted to correct the nationally limited and morally fantastic ideal of the future in Judaism. Now when in Hellenism the Jewish faith in the God of revelation and history was connected with the Platonic world of ideas and spirits, and the “future-world” of the Jewish hope became fused with the “upper-world” of the Greek thinking, there was founded a view of the world in which the Jews of the dispersion came into touch with the earnest-minded among the Gentiles, and a certain satisfaction seemed to be furnished to the religious need of the ancient civilised world, which had everywhere outgrown the old faith. Yet this satisfaction was certainly always but a very imperfect one, for in this view of the world there was not actually overcome either the ceremonial and national positivism of Judaism, nor the abstract and unfruitful idealism and intellectualism of the Greeks. Hence Hellenism could not of itself attain to the founding of a new-world religion. It was on the one side still too narrowly Jewish, and on the other too abstractly idealistic and doctrinaire, and consequently unpopular and unfruitful. But it was undoubtedly the favourable soil in which the new-world religion could take root.

On the soil of the Hellenistic culture, as thus prepared, Paul scattered the seed of his Gospel, the knowledge of the Christ Jesus in whom the historical revelation of God has already partly found its fulfilment, and partly will completely find it at His second coming, but who was not merely the Messiah of the Jews but the second Adam and man from heaven, the Image of God and head of humanity, the Ideal of the Sons of God and the primitive source of the Holy Spirit for all believers, Gentiles as well as Jews: in this lay the desired satisfaction of the religious longing of the time. The opposition of the two worlds, for the overcoming of which Hellenism had otherwise laboured in vain, could now be viewed as abolished at last in the one person of the Christ Jesus, who sprang from heaven and was exalted to heaven, and its complete abolition was for the followers of Christ only a question of time, an attainable goal of hope guaranteed by the present spirit of Christ, which at the same time, as the goal of the striving of the common preparatory work of the community of Christ, included in itself a fulness of moral motives and practical tasks. With the world-Saviour of the Pauline preaching the God of the Jewish revelation had become the God of the world, and the revelation in the history of the Jewish people had become the common good of the universal Church of the world, this new people of God. This Church now appropriated the Divine word of the law and of the prophets in the higher form, by stripping off its national and ceremonial limit and only holding fast its universal human substance, the hope of a coming kingdom of God and the sense of being bound to a moral order of life springing from God. Besides, the Gentile Christian community in its faith in the risen Christ had the surety of personal immortality; in the sufferings of Christ it had the motive of repentance and endurance of suffering; in the present spirit of Christ with his gifts and miracles it had the pledge of its communion with the higher world, which even thereby was no longer merely a future world but also already rose above the horizon of this present world. In this “reasonable service” (Romans xii. 2) of the new people of God the Divine revelation of Judaism had become one with the idea of humanity of the Greeks. What the Gentile proselytes had hitherto sought in Judaism, but had only very imperfectly found, was furnished to them now by this Christian Hellenism—namely, a higher thinking, a confident hoping, a purer life, and a religious moral society bound together and released from national and ceremonial limitations.

Hellenism, however, was not merely a favourable soil for the reception and spread of Christianity, but it also exercised a profound influence upon the theological apprehension of it. There was already in Paul an unmistakably Hellenistic element. We found it not merely in the manner of his allegorising use of Scripture, but also in the doctrines of the spirit of Christ and his relationship to the natural man, which are in touch and partly in verbal agreement with the Alexandrian “Book of Wisdom.” But over these Hellenistic elements there preponderated in Paul the presuppositions of the Phariseean scholastic theology., whose legal categories served him as a means of over-coming Judaism with its own weapons. That this combination of Phariseeism and Hellenism, which was peculiar to Paul, found no understanding and no reception among the Gentile Christian communities is easily conceivable. It was for the converted Gentiles in part too much Jewish and in part too little Jewish: the former, in so far as the ideas of the curse of the law, vicarious atonement, and imputed righteousness sprang from the soil of the Phariseean legal religion, and therefore could not be understood among the Gentiles in their original sense; the latter, in so far as the excluding opposition of law and Gospel, of faith and works, involved for the Gentiles the danger of their discrediting the Old Testament revelation, and falling away into a morally dangerous Antinomianism in the manner of Marcion. It was therefore in the course of things as natural as it was salutary, that in the Gentile Christian communities the Phariseean side of the Pauline theology was set aside, and the Hellenistic preferred and further elaborated. Thus there was developed in the school of Paul, in the decades following the apostle's death, that “deutero-Pauline” theology which we may designate as Hellenised Paulinism or Paulinised Hellenism. The two most important documents of this development of the primitive Christian theology are the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Gospel according to John, the former indicating the beginning and the latter the climax and maturity of the Hellenistic theology of primitive Christianity.

The Hellenistic basis of the Epistle to the Hebrews, its dependence in individual points as well as in its whole view of the world on the Alexandrian “Book of Wisdom,” and especially on Philo, is now beyond any doubt. Thence springs its allegorising treatment of the Old Testament, its estimation of the ritual sacrifices as means not for the forgiveness of sins but for the remembrance of sins, its erroneous opinion of the daily sacrifices of the High Priest, its comparison of Christ with Melchisedec, the priestly King who did not spring from men,—for Philo had already referred in the same way to the Logos. The fundamental thought of Philo's view of the world—namely, the opposition of the heavenly world of ideas and of the earthly world of sensible copies—has been especially made the basis of his Christian speculation by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and has been applied by him to the relationship of Christianity to Judaism. He sees in the earthly sanctuary of the Jewish cult the sensible copy of the true sanctuary which pre-existed as a heavenly ideal, and first became manifest in Christianity according to its true superterrestrial and supersensible nature. The “upper world” of the ideas has been unveiled in Christianity, in the first place, for the eye of faith; but at the near second coming it will also come to visible appearance, and is so far identical with the “future world” of the Jewish hope. From which there results for the author the paradoxical view that Christianity belongs to the future world. The religious mood corresponding to this view is undoubtedly the eschatological hope; but this hope yet rests essentially upon the faith that the opposition of the two worlds is already in principle overcome in Christ, that through His going before the entrance into the heavenly sanctuary has been opened to us, and that it has already been vouchsafed to us to enjoy a foretaste of the powers of the world to come. Christ, therefore, in the view of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, occupies essentially the same position as the Platonic Logos. He is the mediator of the two worlds who bridges over the gulf between them by this, that He, as the Son of God springing from above, represents as a priest with God, and reconciles with God, the world which He has created, and as whose heir and administrator He has been instituted. And as the Logos is called by Philo “a second God,” so is Christ also addressed as “God” in the Epistle to the Hebrews (i. 8 f.), on the basis of the citation of Psalm xlv. 7—the first certain trace of the apotheosis of Christ, which we have accordingly to refer to Hellenism, but whose motive we are able also already distinctly to recognise. This motive lies in the fully established interest to bring to expression the sublimity of the Christian religion, as the perfect revelation of God, above all earlier forms of religion in the sublimity of the person of Christ, above all other terrestrial and superterrestrial mediators and messengers of God. But along with the sublimity of the eternal Son of God the author, in like manner, purposely emphasises the earthly lowliness of the Saviour who appeared in human flesh. Here lies the point where the ways of Christian theology parted for ever from those of the Jewish philosophy of religion. Philo had indeed already designated his Logos as the great High Priest and Advocate of men with God; but this was only an abstract theory, more rather of metaphysical than religious significance. It was only when the Christian Alexandrian beheld this heavenly High Priest of speculation as coinciding and one with Jesus, the Son of Man, the historical Saviour of sinners, that the opposition of the two worlds, whose gulf Philo sought to fill up by unsubstantial abstractions, was actually reconciled, and that the entrance to the fellowship of the Divine life and love was opened to the longing of the pious heart. Moreover, the incarnation of the Son of God, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews, has not merely, as in the view of Paul, the significance of a necessary means for the end of the redemptive death, but the earthly life of the incarnate Christ Jesus receives here also an independent and important significance as a moral example. As for us sufferings are subservient to the moral exercises and verification of obedience, so has Christ also “learned obedience” by suffering, and “was made perfect by suffering,” since He received the exaltation to the heavenly dignity and joy as the reward of His faithfulness. The mediation of this human moral view of the life of Christ with speculation about His superhuman nature and His heavenly origin is not yet attempted here. The two sides are simply placed along with each other, and their union in intellectual formulæ is left as a problem for the theological speculation of the following time—a problem which, from the nature of the subject itself, could never be satisfactorily solved, because it includes a logical contradiction in itself, which indeed escapes from the immediate religious intuition, but is insuperable to logical reflection.

To this same striving to see the Divine idea and the human actuality connected in the most intimate way in the person of Jesus, the Gospel according to John owes its origin; and to the wonderful dexterity with which it was able to satisfy this two-fold need of the Christian consciousness it owes its ruling position in the theology, not merely of the second century, but of all the Christian centuries. In order to estimate correctly the true value of this Gospel, we should not seek in it a historical work, which it does not at all profess to be: it is a didactic writing which has invested its theological thoughts, drawn from Paul and Philo, in the form of a life of Jesus. The whole religious view of the world of the Gospel of John is based upon Philo: as in his system, the Johannine has also its cardinal point in the opposition of God and world, and of the mediation of both by the Logos; but the difference consists in this, that with the evangelist the Logos was identified with the historical person of Jesus, and thereby converted from a metaphysical abstraction into a religious ideal with rich content. Paul had also already seen in the historical Jesus a superterrestrial being, the ideal man from heaven; but this ideal man yet belonged as “the first-born among many brethren” to humanity, was its representative before God. It was the Hellenistic theology of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Gospel according to John that first took the further step of elevating Christ above all that is creaturely into the Divine nature, and setting Him as the eternal mediator of all Divine revelation in opposition to the world. Thus could that age of mysteries, which strove as passionately as in vain to penetrate into the secrets of the Divine world, find in Christ the fulfiller of its longing, the authentic witness of the Divine truth. But while the Johannine Christ by His essential nature stands further from humanity than the Pauline Christ, on the other hand He has entered much more than the latter into human manifestation. The Pauline Christ, according to the spirit, is connected with the Jesus of history only through the one fact of the death on the cross, in which His ideal nature presents itself for recognition, as concentrated in a focus, while the rest of the life of Jesus is left aside as meaningless. In John, on the other hand, the heavenly Logos has so become flesh in the terrestrial Jesus that His whole public life and work is a constant revelation of the Divine truth and grace. Here it is not the death of the man through which the Divine first breaks into manifestation, but already in the life of the Man the Divine glory so reveals itself that Jesus can say of Himself, “He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father.” Thus the Christian conviction is brought here still clearer to expression than in Paul, that the perfect humanity is also the perfect revelation of God. Naturally the historical is treated from this point of view with the greatest freedom; the material of the evangelical tradition is only used to the extent and with the transformation in which it is available for the didactic purpose of the theologian John; the discourses of the Synoptic Jesus are completely replaced by dogmatic treatises, which would have been as incomprehensible for the companions of Jesus, of His time and people, as they were in fact intelligible and useful for the apologetic theology of the second century. Generally it is the experiences, feelings, and interests of the Church of His time which the evangelist sees typified in the life of Jesus, herein also following Paul, who apprehended the community as the “body of Christ,” as the abiding incorporation of the spirit of Christ as it appeared personally and transitorily in Jesus. The Gospel according to John is therefore not to be regarded as a historical testimony of the life of Jesus, but as the most important document of the theological thinking of the Hellenistic Christians of the second century. I will try to exhibit the fundamental thought of his system in a short summary.

We must start from the opposition of God and the world as the Hellenistic presupposition of the Christian doctrine of salvation. According to John, God is spirit exalted above all the limits of mundane existence, and therefore also above the sensuous forms of worship in heathenism (Samaritanism) and Judaism, which are limited to space and time; but as spirit He is not a dead substance, of which nothing is to be predicated as of the Gnostic primitive principle, but He is the living spirit who has eternal life in Himself, and who is active without ceasing, who communicates His life, reveals Himself to men, and so reveals Himself for their knowledge as the truth, and for their feeling as grace or love. Indeed God's working upon the world is in John as little an immediate operation as it is in Philo, but it is mediated by the creation through the Son; yet as He is only the voluntary organ for the execution of the purposes and impulses of the Father, God Himself still remains the ultimate source of all the activity that orders, animates, and illuminates the world. The motive of the Divine working is love, whose nature it is to communicate itself, and to make others participate in its own being. The object of the Divine love is primarily the Son, then men whom the Father has given to the Son to be His in order that He by revelation of the Father might put them into the same unity with the Father in which He Himself stands with Him. True, it is not all men who are the objects of the love of God and Christ, but only a chosen number of them, who by their nature are not of the world but of God, whose natures are akin to God (xvii. 9-16); but as these form the kernel of the world and the final cause of the rest of creation, it can so far be said of the world generally that God has loved it, and given His Son for it (iii. 16). God's working in reference to the world is, according to John, directly only that of animating and blessing love, and not that of penal judgment; but because His love has reference only to the choice of God-related men, the judgment is executed indirectly through this, that the distinction existing from the beginning between the children of God and the world that is hostile to God comes to manifestation. This severance (krisis) between the opposite elements of the world is here, as in Philo, put in the place of the Messianic Judgment.

In the Johannine conception of the world there are two sides to be distinguished. It is on the one side a creature of God through the Logos, an object of the love of God and of the redeeming activity of the Logos; but on the other side it is the complete contrary of God, and is related to Him as flesh to spirit, darkness to light, death to life. Men, in so far as they only belong to the nature of this world and are born of flesh, are not able to understand the heavenly things or to do what is good—nay, their natural blindness and unreceptiveness for the light increases in the majority till it rises to hatred of the light, to conscious rejection of the truth, by which they will not let themselves be convinced of their own badness. The nature of the world in its hostility to God comes to its most intensive expression in hatred to Christ, and it unveils itself at the same time according to its ultimate principle as Sonship of the Devil. The Devil, as “prince of this world,” is the personification of the side of the world that is adverse to God, the opposite of the being of God, the ground of all the falsehood and all the hatred of men; and hence all those to whom truth and love are alien and repugnant prove by that very fact that they are the sons of the Devil, as is expressed by John, especially as applicable to the unbelieving Jews who were hostile to Christ; By the inspiration of Satan Judas instigates the death of Christ; but this very death is victory over Satan, who can do no harm to the Holy One, and hence he falls into his own snare when he assails the Holy One and is deposed from his dominion over the world (xii. 31). The purpose of the appearance of Christ is therefore designated as just being to destroy the works of the Devil, a thought which remained as the ruling conception for a long time in the ecclesiastical notion of the work of redemption. Besides, it is very significant of the cautious attitude of the Johannine speculation, which repels all Gnostic mythology, that nothing is taught by it concerning the origin of the Devil. It is nowhere said that he, originally created by God, first became the Devil by a free apostacy; but there is just as little said or indicated as to how such a contra-divine principle could come into the Divine creation. John has manifestly not reflected upon such a question, and he proves thereby that the Devil signifies nothing more to him than the personification of the evil principle which is found existing in the actual world as a power that is earnestly to be combated, whencesoever it may spring. But although John did not advance like the Gnostics to a metaphysical dualism, yet the personification of the good and the bad principle in Christ and Satan has as its correlate a dualistic severance between the two originally different classes of men, the children of God and of the Devil. The distinction founded on experience between the religiously receptive and non-receptive men, in which we, however, always perceive only a relative opposition, a preponderating of the flesh or of the spirit, laid hold of the intuition of the Hellenistic evangelist, which moved between anti-ethical principles, as was the case with Philo, and it settled into a duality of essentially different men—those who demonstrate that their being is from God by their receptiveness for the divine, and those who prove that their being is not from God, but from the world and Satan through their unreceptiveness for the divine—an opposition which abolishes the unity of the human species, and which in its logical consequence cannot but lead to a duality of creations, if John had drawn this consequence, which he wisely did not do.

The mediator of the opposition of God and of the world is the Logos, who in Philo is called the firstborn Son of God and a second God, and in John is called in a completely corresponding way the “only begotten Son” who was from the beginning as a God (θεός) with the God (ὁ θεός). The cosmic mediative activity which preponderates in Philo takes indeed a less prominent and significant place in the evangelist, yet it is not wanting here either, but is expressly put in the prologue as the starting-point: all things were made by the Logos. He is the bearer and mediator of all the life of the world whose primal ground lies in God, from whom the Son first received it by communication in order to give it to the creature. The mediator of life is further a principle of the light—i.e., of the spiritual life of men, every one of whom is enlightened by the Logos — i.e., possesses already in His human capacities a natural indwelling revelation of God. But although the world has thus originally part in the Divine life and light, or bears it as capacity germ and power in itself, it is nevertheless not conscious of this its Divine origin and goal, but is held in finitude, is turned away from God, is darkness. Hence the mediator of the creative revelation becomes further also the mediator of the historical revelation, and primarily so in the Patriarchs and Prophets of Israel, who all, because inspired by the pre-existent Christ-Logos, were already before Christ witnesses of Christ. From this it follows that the Old Testament is so far God's word as it contains before Christ prophecy of the new dispensation. Whoever, therefore, actually believes the writings of Moses must also be led by them to faith in Christ. On the other hand, the Jewish law in itself is a religiously valueless tradition of Moses, and is put by John directly in opposition to the Christian grace and truth, to which it is related like powerless water to fiery wine, as is indicated in the allegory of the miracle at Cana. But the Jewish boasting of their being children of Abraham is altogether condemned by John as a sign of their being children of the Devil. Thus John is even more anti-Judaic than Paul, and he can therefore leave his controversies about the law and grace behind as a superseded standpoint in order to behold in Christ above everything else the positive fulfilment of all earlier revelation of God.

The light of the Logos rose on the world first through His incarnation in Jesus Christ. The Gospel contains no statements about the how of this incarnation, yet we may suppose that the evangelist represented it as quite analogous to the entrance of preexistent souls into the earthly bodies of men, and consequently not as the assumption of a whole human nature by way of addition to the Divine, but as the investment of the subject of the Divine Logos with a human body of flesh. This veil, according to the idea of the author, concealed indeed the Divine glory of the Son from the sensible seeing of the multitude; but it so little took away its presence that the human flesh was rather the means of the exhibition of the Divine Logos in discourse, deed, and suffering. In this presentation the perfect identity of the Logos-Christ, become flesh with the pre-existent Logos, is directly presupposed as self-evident; the former has a clear recollection of His pre-mundane state in Divine glory as well as of His having descended from heaven, whither he will ascend again after the earthly episode. But even in this interval of time He knows Himself to be always one with the Father in the sovereign possession of Divine life, of the power to awaken the dead and to hold the judgment of the world. He knows everything,—as knowing the heart He sees through men, He knows His hour beforehand,—that is, the time of suffering which is foreseen of God; he performs creative miracles of absolute supernaturalness; He throws the troop of His enemies to the ground by a mere word, and He gives up His life with spontaneous freedom in order to take it again to Himself in the same way by His own power in the resurrection — and so does this Logos - Christ walk as a veiled God upon the earth, raised above human imperfection and weakness. But with all this He is yet on the other side strictly subordinated to the Father; He speaks only what the Father has taught Him, performs the works which the Father has shown and given to Him, never seeks His own glory but finds the purpose of His life in the glorification of the Father: He says, “The Father is greater than I”; but, on the other hand, “I and the Father are one.” What mediates the two sides, equality with God and subordination to God, is the love in virtue of which the Father gives all that is His to the Son, and the Son receives all from the Father in order to turn it again actually to account for the Father, to reveal the Father in Himself and through Himself in the world. Thus the metaphysical relationship of the Logos to God—which always lies at the basis of the view—becomes the ideal of the religious relationship of human Sonship to God. The perfect freedom in full dependence on God, the realisation of the essential unity with God in loving surrender to Him—what is this but the ideal of true religion? Thus under the undoubtedly often strange, because superhuman, features of the Divine Logos-Christ there is yet at last unveiled to us the familiar image of the Christian Sonship of God as the special kernel of the Johannine as well as of the previous Pauline Christology.

The task which Christ has to fulfil consists, according to John, in the exhibition and communication of the divine glory, grace, and truth proper to Him, and in the founding of such a communion of men with God as He Himself has; or, put shortly, His task is to make the religious ideal which He exhibits in His person the common good of men, and primarily of His community. The means for the fulfilment of this task is primarily His word, which for that very reason has for its content nothing but Himself and His essential relationship to the Father, His oneness with God as the Ideal of all true human religion. But the intimate Son who has come from above, who lay on the bosom of the Father and was the eye-witness and ear-witness of the heavenly things, has initiated us into the mysteries of the heavenly world and of the Divine nature, which were shut from every earthly one. He is the true Hierophant, and His revelation is the fulfilment of the wisdom of all the heathen mysteries. The works of Christ come in addition to the words of Christ as demonstrations of His glory—i.e., His fulness of supernatural power—and as signs which serve not merely to authenticate His divine mission, but are also symbols of His spiritual gifts and operations in sensible images. Hence the double character of the Johannine miracles: on the one side, they are of the highest supernaturalness, far surpassing the Synoptic histories of miracles, because only the highest miracles appear as a worthy demonstration of the absolute miracle of the incarnate Logos; yet again, on the other hand, value is denied to the miracles as such in so far as what is sensible in them is not an end in itself but a mere means of making a spiritual idea visible or the illustration of a truth which does not belong to the world of sense, and therefore is also entirely independent of sensible miraculous occurrences. Hence the faith in miracles is rated very low in the Gospel according to John. The right faith is rather that which believes on the Word (iv. 42, 48, 50) — that is to say, which gains certainty from the words of Christ that He truly reveals the Father and is the Saviour of the world. Thus in John the working of Jesus in word and works receives back its religious significance as an indisputable means of salvation, which it had forfeited in Paul in consequence of his one-sided accentuation of the death of Christ. Whereas in Paul the animating Christ-spirit is first brought forth in the resurrection of Jesus, in John that spirit is already present in the whole earthly life of Jesus, and gives to all His discourses and doings the value of acts and means of salvation. Thus the death of Christis also no longer an isolated fact, but it appears as the culmination and conclusion of the whole work of His life. In the place of the Pauline theory of vicarious atonement through which we are ransomed from the curse of the law, the Hellenistic evangelist puts the beautiful thought, intelligible to all, of the ethical self-sacrifice of the heroic soul which lays down its own life in the good struggle in order to save those of others from the power of the evil world and its prince. In this view the death of Christ is not an end in itself which had been required by God for the sake of His own righteousness, but it is the unavoidable means by which alone the Saviour could fulfil the task of His life, and make the salutary truth intrusted to Him the common good of a whole people of God—like the dying of the corn of wheat by which its fruitful power is first brought forth. As an act of self-sacrificing love, Christ's death was the highest revelation of His own nature as well as of the nature of the Father, and at the same time it was the victorious overcoming of the world in its hostility to God, and also of Satan; and, finally, it was the means and the beginning of the exaltation of Christ Himself, who, by putting off the veil of the earthly flesh, returned again to the heavenly glory which He possessed from the beginning. As His death, according to John, was not the undergoing of a fate ordained and inflicted upon Him, but a free self-surrender of life, so His overcoming of death waslikewise not a resuscitation by the omnipotence of God, but a self-active resumption of His life in order to continue His work as a Saviour in a higher form.

The abiding fruit of the death and exaltation of Christ is the coming of the Holy Ghost, who, as “the other Paraclete” —i.e., Advocate—represents the place of Christ in the community. The evangelist has taken this designation of the Spirit from Philo, who has often so designated the Logos; in John, Christ is also thought of and occasionally named as the first and proper Paraclete (1 John ii. 1); but usually the name Paraclete is reserved for the Spirit, in order by it to indicate its distinction from Christ. This distinction is certainly not yet dogmatically fixed, even in John; rather is it still so fluid that the coming of the Spirit may be interchanged with the second coming of Christ: yet it cannot be overlooked that in John the idea of the Spirit already begins to obtain more independent consistency in distinction from the Father and the Son, doubtless in connection with the growth of the self-consciousness of the Church, as the Church knew itself to be in lasting possession of a divine principle which reaches above the historical person of Jesus. This thought is also expressed in the significant Johannine presupposition that Jesus had not yet been able to say everything because the disciples would not yet have understood him, but that the Spirit would lead the community in all truth (xvi. 7-12 f.) John has thus thought of an advancing and self-perfecting revelation of the Spirit in common with Gnosis and Montanism, those heretical phenomena of the second century; but he keeps within the ecclesiastical line when he emphasises the essential harmony of the advancing and foundation-laying revelation; the Spirit derives its proclamation from what properly belongs to Christ and effects the transfiguration of Christ; He is the selflessly serving organ of the Son in the same way as the Son is that of the Father. We have here already the conception of a development of the religious consciousness within the Christian community which has become so important in recent times; but the Christian consciousness of faith itself is, according to John, in a certain respect nothing absolutely new, but only the development of germs called into life by the revelation of Christ—germs which were already previously present in the souls that spring from the truth or from God. Only he who is drawn by the Father, or to whom it is given by the Father, can come to the Son (vi. 44-65) — that is, the faith in Christ arises only where there already lives in the soul a tendency to the divine, a presentiment and longing for religious truth which finds its satisfying fulfilment just in the manifestation of Christ. According to this beautiful Johannine thought, Christianity is therefore, not as it might easily appear in Paul, a new creation which has suddenly entered into the world, and which stood merely in opposition to all that is naturally human, but it is the completion of the creation, the actualisation of the divine powers of life and light which are already implanted by the divine Logos in our species. Likewise in regard to its content the Christian faith appears simpler in John than in Paul, in so far as, without taking the circuitous route through the Pauline dogma of redemption, he holds directly to the person of Christ, and recognises and loves in it the human manifestation of divine grace and truth, and hence faith no longer stands here in opposition to works; but as compliant love to Christ, it includes in itself the doing of the divine will, and especially the fulfilment of the new commandment of love to the brethren. The abstract oppositions of faith and law or works are here done away in the higher unity of a religious moral consciousness, which has its firm supports in knowledge and love.

But it is not merely the conflict of the primitive Christian parties that has lost its significance for John; the hopes of the future, which were common to all the primitive Christian parties, have paled before the presence of the eternal life, which consists in the knowledge of God and Christ. The second coming of Christ is so transformed that it is already partly fulfilled in the appearances of the risen One, and is partly being continually fulfilled in the spiritual coming of Christ, and His dwelling in His followers. The visible Chiliast kingdom of Christ which formed the object of the primitive Christian expectation has wholly disappeared, and its place is taken by a kingdom which is not of this world, whose kingdom is the witness of truth, and whose citizens are the worshippers of God in spirit and in truth. Just as little is there a judgment still awaiting the community,—in its faith it has already advanced beyond death and judgment; but the judgment is continually executed on the world,—on its unbelief in so far as this separates it from God and the children of God. The resurrection takes place at present partly in the awaking of the spiritually dead by the voice of the Son of God, and it will partly yet be carried out in the resuscitation of those who are actually dead. But the final state will be nothing less than the completion in the other world of the fellowship of love in which pious souls are even now at one with Christ and the Father, and consequently also with one another (xvii. 24 ff.) Hellenistic faith in the other world, that religious expression of the ancient idealism, animated by the warm breath of the mysticism of Christian love—this was the sign under which the Church set itself to conquer the world of the ancient civilisation and culture.