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and explanatory.” Now it is well known that none of Canaan's posterity settled in Africa. “ The border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest unto Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, even unto Lasha."! None, then, of the Africans come under the curse pronounced by Noah on Canaan.
THE TÜBINGEN HISTORICAL SCHOOL.:
BE REV. R. P. DUNN, PROFESSOR IN BROWN UNIVERSITY,!)
PROVIDENCE, R. I.
“ The Tübingen School” is, strictly speaking, a historical rather than a theological school.
a theological school. Its representatives, Baur, Strauss, Keller, Schwegler, Köstlin, and Hilgenfeld, are indeed theologians, and have pursued such investigations as are usually left to theologians. Their peculiarity, however, consists in their dealing with their materials, not from a theological, but from a purely historical point of view. While not refusing the title of theologians, and claiming for themselves a place within the broad realm of Protestant theology, they boast that they alone exhibit the genuine Protestant spirit by their independent search for historical truth. They propose to carry on their inquiries, unbiassed by any peculiar doctrinal views; they found their dogmatic system on their scientific convictions, and refuse to interpret history according to any settled system of doctrine. They claim to have sought historical truth like any other kind of
i Gen. x. 19.
* This Article is a reproduction, in an English form and dress, rather than a close translation, of an anonymous Article under the same title in Von Sybel's Historische Zeitschrift, Vol. 4, 1860. It leans very decidedly towards the views of the school whose principles it proposes to exhibit; it will not, however, on that account be less interesting to American readers desirous of learning the views of this class of critics. The Article has been considerably shortened by omissions and condensations. - Tr.
truth, and to have applied the modern principles of historical science to the investigation of the history of the Christian church ; especially to the study of its earliest history, its origin, its primitive character, and development, and to the examination of its oldest documents, our New Testament scriptures.
The origin of the Tübingen school belongs to the history of theology in Germany. It is the successsor of that school of rationalism which followed the dead and formal orthodoxy of the century after the Reformation. It was the aim of rationalism to harmonize the biblical history, and especially that contained in the gospels, with the decisions of human reason and the dictates of universal experience; in fact, by explaining away the supernatural element in it, to reduce it to the level of ordinary history. But it is an article of the faith of the church that the biblical narrative is not only genuine history, but a supernatural or miraculous history, recording events, many of which occurred out of the ordinary course of nature. Without seeking to invalidate the genuineness of the biblical narrative, rationalism, therefore, attempted to show that a true conception of it would find in the miracles only natural and perfectly intelligible events. To do this required no small skill, for the scriptures unquestionably ascribe them to supernatural agencies. The rationalistic interpreter, however, found ample resources for his purpose in the store-house of verbal interpretation. Neglect of the peculiar diction of the Old and the New Testament, unfamiliarity with oriental figures, it was asserted, alone leads men to accept the scripture narratives as records of supernatural events. Why,” it was asked, " when in the Old Testament God is said to have spoken, need we suppose that there was an actual vocal utterance? May not the prophets have represented their own lofty and enthusiastic declarations as those of God ? When in the biblical narrative the serpent is said to have spoken to Eve, or the ass to Balaam, would it not be more natural to refer this discourse to the minds of the persons addressed, and to interpret these accounts as the scriptural
method of representing the thoughts which these creatures awakened in them?” Through a similar process of interpretation, the narrative of our Lord's temptation becomes an account of his reflections before entering on his public ministry; the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, a great increase of religious enthusiasm on the part of the apostles. Again, it was asserted by the rationalist that all men, and especially the orientals, are disposed to refer natural phenomena to the direct agency of the Deity. When, therefore, the sacred writers ascribe an event to the divine agency, they do not mean thus to exclude natural causes. The account of Jehovah's descent in fire upon Mount Sinai is only an oriental method of representing the occurrence of a storm; the fiery tongues of Pentecost were electric sparks; Paul and Silas were released from their fetters at Philippi by an earthquake. Saul was blinded on the road to Damascus by a flash of lightning, and restored to sight by the touch of the cold hands of the old man Ananias. Still further, when the narrative contains no indication of the working of material causes, the narrator may have overlooked them, or have been ignorant of their mode of operation. The rational interpreter, it was maintained, should supply the missing links in the history. His scientific culture will teach him that the miraculous cures of the gospels are not essentially unlike those daily wrought by modern physicians; the restoration of the dead to life, and even the resurrection of Christ himself were but the awakening of persons in a swoon; the impossible feeding of the multitude was but the effect of Christ's generous surrender of his own store of food, followed by similar generosity on the part of his disciples. Once more, the refinements of verbal interpretation show that Christ's walking upon the sea was but a walking on the shore, the finding of the tribute-money in the mouth of the fish was but the purchase of the fish for the sum named.
The ingenuity which thus transformed a miracle into a natural event was able to reduce the discourses of Christ and the apostles to perfect harmony with human reason.
By wisely discriminating, it was said, between the literal and the figurative, and by bearing in mind that our Lord and his followers often conformed to the popular method of speaking and to existing opinions, such unintelligible and unreasonable representations as that of the enthronement of God in heaven, or those of the preexistence, the atoning death, the resurrection, the future advent of Christ, or the doctrines of original sin, of angels, of the devil, may be so interpreted that the most enlightened rationalist need not be ashamed to believe them. By such a method, it may be seen, the authenticity and the authority of the scriptures was left intact, though their contents were sadly distorted from the truth.
The supernaturalistic opponents of this scheme of interpretation did not find it difficult to point out its sophistry, to expose its violation of good taste, and its arbitrary torturing of the meaning of the Word. But they did not succeed in driving rationalism from the field. According to the representations of the Tübingen school, their failure may be accounted for by the timidity and the imperfection of their methods. Their faith in miracles, which they refused to abandon, was inconsistent with true historic consciousness, and their doctrine of inspiration forbade any radical criticism of the sacred writings. Moreover, they adopted some of the principles of rationalism itself. The older theology, with its faith in miracles, had unhesitatingly received the statements of the scriptures as literal truth; the new found it expedient to soften the sharp outline of some of the more striking miracles, to introduce the agency of natural causes, and to conceal the true meaning of the scripture narrative beneath indefinite expressions, e. g. to disguise the agency of an angel beneath the phrase, “ the leadings of Providence.” Examples of this sort are frequent in the writings of Neander and others. The first third of the present century thus presents to us in this department of theological inquiry the spectacle of a rationalism hesitating to deal with the biblical narrative after a rigid historical method, and a supernaturalism clinging with similar hesi
tancy to its belief in revelation and its faith in miracles. The principles of modern historical criticism, which had been applied with so much success to profane history, and which, in their application to the Old Testament, had opened to interpreters a new and safer path, were rarely and very unwillingly admitted in reference to the New. Even Schleiermacher and Hegel, who have exerted so great an influence on the theological development of Germany, effected at first but slight changes in this department. For Schleiermacher, though a rationalistic critic and interpreter, by his admission of the fontal miracle of an "original Christ,” opened the door for the admission of any miracle. Most of his pupils gradually, though not without many concessions to the spirit of the age, found their way into the ranks of supernaturalism, where they concealed their faith in miracles beneath such obscure phrases as “the harmony of the spiritual and the physical,” “natural processes,” etc. Hegel, in like manner, at first stood opposed to positive religion with a sort of rationalism, traces of which he never entirely lost. Afterwards, when the reconciliation of faith and knowledge became the watchword of his system, he explained the historical element in faith as a matter of indifference, since we are therein concerned only with the ideal. In fact he expressed himself so undecidedly on this point, that he might have been with equal justice claimed by both parties. His followers were so self-satisfied, and so happy in their fancied speculative orthodoxy, they were wont to look down with such especial contempt upon the untenable position of rationalistic criticism, that so radical an attack on the traditions of the church as soon followed was the last thing to have been expected from this party.
Such was the relation of theological parties in Germany, when, some five-and-twenty years since, Strauss published his “Life of Jesus.” Its remorseless attacks upon both the natural method of interpretation adopted by the ration
Das Leben Jesu, kritisch bearbeitet. Tübingen : 1835. 2 Bde.