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son o. whom he speaks. It is the oldest, it might be said the only, doctrine of revealed religion, that salvation belongs to the Lord; and when Jesus is habitually confessed as Lord and Saviour, His significance for Christian faith is absolute and divine.



When we come to the synoptic gospels, we are confronted with difficulties of a new kind. The synoptic gospels contain not only the testimony of the writers to Jesus, but also (through that testimony) the testimony of Jesus to Himself. It is certain that the writers of the gospels drew no clear and conscious distinction between these two things, and could not have conceived that one of them should ever be used to discredit the other. They never thought that the place which Jesus had in their faith was anything else than the place which belonged to Him, and was truly and rightly His: they never thought they were giving Him what was not His due, or what He had not really claimed: the distinction between the religion in which they lived and the historical support which could be asserted for it in the personality and life of Jesus was one which had no formal existence for them. This may be said quite confidently in spite of all that we hear about the 'apologetic' motives which are alleged to account for so much of what we read in our gospels. Jesus, we are told, had such and such a character or value in the faith of His disciples, and in order to justify this character there must be such and such words or deeds or events in His life. If they were not supplied in tradition they were produced more

or less spontaneously by the Christian consciousness or imagination. There was no sin in this, no intent to deceive either others or oneself; Christ must have said or done such and such things, and of course, therefore, He did say and do them. He is represented in our gospels as so saying and doing them, and that is why it is so difficult to use the gospels simply as historical documents. Their writers have no independent historical interest, and what they give us is not the representation of Christ as He really was, but Christ as to them He must have been, Christ transfigured in the luminous haze of faith. The task of the historian is to dissipate the haze, to see Jesus as He really was, to reduce Him to the historic proportions in which alone He can have lived and moved among men. To faith it may be an ungrateful task, in performing which it is impossible to avoid wounding the tenderest feelings; yet faith in God can have no interest superior to that of truth, and ought to be confident that whatever it may lose in the process the end can be nothing but gain.

At the point which we have now reached in our discussion it is necessary to have the possibilities here indicated in view, but the critical appreciation of them will come later. It will be sufficient for our present purpose to say that while everything that we find in an evangelist concerning Jesus-including all that is said and done by Jesus Himself-must be taken into account in reproducing that evangelist's religion, we shall here confine our attention to that minimum of matter in which the mind of the evangelist can be clearly distinguished from that of his subject. There are characteristics in Mark, in Matthew, and in Luke which belong to each in particular, and in these, though not in these only, we have a clue to what we seek.

(a) The Gospel according to Mark

The oldest of our gospels has a title: 'the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Son of God).' It can hardly be doubted that the author uses the term gospel in the sense of the apostolic church. Luke does not use it at all, and Matthew never without qualification (sce Matt. 4 23, 9 35, 24 14, 26 13); but Mark has it six times without any qualification, and in two others he has 'the gospel of God' (14), indicating its author, and 'the gospel of Jesus Christ' (1'), indicating its subject. He does not call his book a gospel, but to present Jesus as He is presented in this book is to preach the gospel, or at least to exhibit, as Mark understood them, the facts on the basis of which the gospel was preached. For him Jesus is not so much a preacher of the gospel, though he says that He came proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying 'Repent and believe in the gospel'; He is the subject of the gospel and its contents. He is not the first of a series of messengers who all came with the same message, and were all related to it in the same way; the message itself which is called gospel is embodied in Him, and the only way to deliver it is to make Him visible. This is implied in the very use of the term gospel, and it is sufficient to put Mark, as a witness to the place of Jesus in Christianity, in line with those whose testimony we have already examined. Whatever his Christology may be, Jesus has a place in his religion to which there is no analogy. The gospel is the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is not the gospel of any other. Could Mark, or can we, conceive any other figure sharing in the place and the religious significance of Jesus as they are presented to us in his brief and vivid record?

Mark, as his title shows, conceived Jesus as the Christ. What this means has been explained already in the

section on primitive Christian preaching. It means that he thought of Jesus while he wrote as exalted at God's right hand, and ready to come again and to establish the Kingdom of God with power. But the present exaltation of Jesus is not unrelated to his past. The character or dignity or function of the Christ attached to Jesus while He was on earth, though it was known at first only to Himself, and though it only came to be apprehended, fitfully and uncertainly, even by those who knew Him best. This has indeed been disputed and denied in recent times. An acute but unbalanced German scholar, the late Professor Wrede of Breslau, argued that no one ever thought of Jesus as the Christ till after the resurrection, and that many of the difficulties and obscurities in the Gospel of Mark are due to the evangelist's efforts to carry back into the career of Jesus upon earth this conception of Messiahship which is applicable only to the Risen Lord. This, again, we do not need to consider here. Whether he was justified or not in doing so, it is certain that the evangelist does carry back the conception of the Christ into the lifetime of Jesus; he represents Peter confessing Him to be the Christ, and Jesus accepting the confession, and making it the starting-point for teaching those truths about Himself and His work which peculiarly constituted 'the gospel.' As Wellhausen has pointed out, there is a whole section of the Gospel according to Mark, that which extends from Peter's confession (827) to Jesus' reply to the ambitious request of the sons of Zebedee (10"), which has a peculiarly 'Christian' character. It is concerned very much with the doctrine of the suffering Christ, the Son of Man, who has come to give His life a ransom for many, and who after His death will come again in the glory of His Father with the holy angels; and whatever its historic relation to Jesus, it certainly embodies the


convictions of Mark as to the place of Jesus in religion. Apart from this, we are not able to say much. Mark never refers to any fulfilment of prophecy in the life of Jesus, as proving or illuminating His Messianic character; the textual difficulties connected with the quotation of Malachi and Isaiah in chap. 1 2f., make it quite probable that these verses were inserted by another hand. It is more plausible to argue that he thought of the mighty works which he records, works in the main of healing love, as appropriate to the Messianic character; this at least would be in keeping with the line of thought taken in Acts 222, 10 38 by Peter, with whose name the Gospel of Mark is connected in the earliest tradition. In His baptism, Jesus was anointed with Holy Spirit and power, and the manifestations of that power in His lifetime were indications of what He was. The words 'Son of God' in Mark I are of doubtful authenticity, and we cannot argue from them. Where they stand, they are probably meant to be taken as synonymous with Christ or Messiah. As far as we can see, it is in His baptism with the Holy Spirit that Jesus, as Mark understood it, became the Christ, the Son of God. From that hour He was all that in the faith and experience of Christians He ever came to be. But He could not tell what He was as one can impart a piece of indifferent information to another. He had to reveal Himself as what He was, in life and word and works; He had to be discovered as what He was by men who associated with Him in obedience, trust, and love. The truncated form in which the gospel has come to us, with no resurrection scene, and no words of the Risen Lord, prevents us from seeing as directly in Mark, as we do in the other evangelists, the full scope of the writer's faith. But we have seen what he means by the term gospel, and we know from words which he ascribes to Jesus that he believed the

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