Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Albert Ritschl (1822-1889)

D. F. Strauss (1808-74) reconciled the conflict in Christianity between the orthodox or literalist interpretation of scripture and the rationalist or reasonable interpretation by putting forward a mythological explanation. To him the historical Jesus became a focus of myth which transcends the individual experience to become a community 'story' perse. Christianity in this way is reviewed in relationship to other myths of history, the 'virgin births', the 'resurrected', etc. Certainly Robert Graves and Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung would go on to explore these ideas at greater length in the 20th century adding to the richness of the experience of the Gospel.

Meanwhile F.C. Baur (1792-1860) would argue that the Scripture could be better understood as a Hegelian process in which the reconciliation of the Judaistss and Universalist interpretation of Christianity is explained and resolved. He argued that the original apostles were Judaist, narrowly interpreting Jesus claim to be the Messiah as him being the Jewish Messiah alone, the God come to free his chosen "tribe". In contrast Baur argued that Paul saw more clearly the Universalist truth of Jesus, his message of salvation being for Jews and Gentiles. He then saw the resolution of the metaphysics of thesis and antithesis, this conflict, as the Roman Catholic church which was a synthese incorporating the universalist message of Paul with the Petrine (or Judaic) new 'religion' with it's new priests and new laws and new rituals.

Albert Ritschl (1822-1889) rejected both these ideas as less than the true revelation of Jesus. He argued most adamantly for the "separation of theology from metaphysics" He was "determined to distinguish the Christian revelation from all forms of speculative theism" and considered great harm had been done to theology by it's alliance with philosophies, whether Platonic, Aristotelian, Hegelian or other." He argued that this was forcing "divine revelation' in to 'alien intellectual systems'. While Kant argued that we could not truly know things only their appearances, Ritschl argued that "things in themselves can be known through their action upon ourselves and through our response to them."

He argued that "value judgements" were as valid as "fact judgements". Facts he saw were what philosophers and scientists attempted to look at how objects stood on their own but Ritchl believed that this could only be done in relation to how these objects "evoke in him feelings of pleasure or pain, of satisfaction or dissatisfaction."

Ritschl believed in the Jesus of history. He argued that Christians in so far as faith was concerned had nothing to learn from other religions and was against the appeal to the mystical experience. Ritschl in contrast to Strauss felt that the reality of Jesus was faithfully transmitted by the scriptures. Ritschl saw the Godhead of Christ in his 'work' and his 'work' was the founding and building of the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God and the Redemption to Ritschl was the central element of the Synoptic Gospels, namely the Kingdom of God and personal redemption by faith.

"God is love and the purpose of God for the world is the building up of a kingdom of free spirits of every nationality and race who are bound together in a moral community and in brotherly love."

It was the vocation of Jesus to set the Kingdom in motion. The Kingdom was 'ethical'. The object of Christ's redemption is not the individual but the community. To Ritschl the Church was the Kingdom on it's knees in prayer whereas the Kingdom standing was the Church on it's feet with tools for work and weapons for warfare. One of the reasons for condemming mysticism because it cause individualistic detachment from the moral and social tasks of the Kingdom of God.

Ritschl most clearly express the centrality of church and scripture. In a Biblical sense he is the most "Martha" of theologians. He was a Lutheran who would be challenged in the 20th century by another Lutheran, Frank Buchman, who'd argue for the restoration of "Mary" in theology. Buchman advocated that Christians needed daily "quiet time" in which they listened for the "revelation" of God. The reading of scripture and the doing of Good Works as acts of "love" needed to be combined with individual adoration of God in silence.

Key Reference for quotes, The Church in an Age of Revolution, Alec R. Vidler (Pelican History of the Church 5) 1789 to present day, Penguin Books, 1961

1 comment:

Anders Branderud said...

"Historical Jesus"?!?
Using that contra-historical oxymoron (demonstrated by the eminent late Oxford historian, James Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue) exposes dependancy upon 4th-century, gentile, Hellenist sources.

While scholars debate the provenance of the original accounts upon which the earliest extant (4th century, even fragments are post-135 C.E.), Roman gentile, Hellenist-redacted versions were based, there is not one fragment, not even one letter of the NT that derives DIRECTLY from the 1st-century Pharisee Jews who followed the Pharisee Ribi Yehoshua.
Historians like Parkes, et al., have demonstrated incontestably that 4th-century Roman Christianity was the 180° polar antithesis of 1st-century Judaism of ALL Pharisee Ribis. The earliest (post-135 C.E.) true Christians were viciously antinomian (ANTI-Torah), claiming to supersede and displace Torah, Judaism and ("spiritual) Israel and Jews. In soberest terms, ORIGINAL Christianity was anti-Torah from the start while DSS (viz., 4Q MMT) and ALL other Judaic documentation PROVE that ALL 1st-century Pharisees were PRO-Torah.

There is a mountain of historical Judaic information Christians have refused to deal with, at: (see, especially, their History Museum pages beginning with "30-99 C.E.").
Original Christianity = ANTI-Torah. Ribi Yehoshua and his Netzarim, like all other Pharisees, were PRO-Torah. Intractable contradiction.

Building a Roman image from Hellenist hearsay accounts, decades after the death of the 1st-century Pharisee Ribi, and after a forcible ouster, by Hellenist Roman gentiles, of his original Jewish followers (135 C.E., documented by Eusebius), based on writings of a Hellenist Jew excised as an apostate by the original Jewish followers (documented by Eusebius) is circular reasoning through gentile-Roman Hellenist lenses.

What the historical Pharisee Ribi taught is found not in the hearsay accounts of post-135 C.E. Hellenist Romans but, rather, in the Judaic descriptions of Pharisees and Pharisee Ribis of the period... in Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT (see Prof. Elisha Qimron), inter alia.

To all Christians: The question is, now that you've been informed, will you follow the authentic historical Pharisee Ribi? Or continue following the post-135 C.E. Roman-redacted antithesis—an idol?