Associate professor of church history princeton theological seminary baker book house



Download 3.01 Mb.
Page14/154
Date07.04.2021
Size3.01 Mb.
1   ...   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   ...   154
:. Origin phaneroun, deloun, gnorizein), where

and the variety of representation indicates

Meaning. that, as later in the language of prayer

and hymn, no fixedness of idea had

yet been reached. The idea embodied in the later

technical term was distinctly that of an act of God,

direct or indirect. Ecclesiastical Latin first pro­

vided definite form by laying down the term revelare,

with manifestare for narrower usage. With the

Christian era philosophy ceased to employ itself

exclusively with the concept of God; so religious

phenomena, and consequently also the idea of reve­

lation, were taken under consideration, especially

after the advent of the genus‑concept of religio,

which is not found in the Bible. With increasing

measure religio and revelare become twin‑thoughts;

the idea of . revelation became estranged from its

original historical ground and both were subjected to

comparative generalization and lifted to the rare at­

mosphere of abstraction. The utmost content com­

prehended in these conceptions may be denoted as

that which constitutes the ground of religion. The

variety of meanings is not improbably due to sub­

servience to expediency in theological system‑build­

ing. Fundamental to all views is a making or

becoming manifest, whether the object enter within

the horizon for the first time (either existing previ­

ously or coming into existence simultaneously), or

the removing of an impediment to its realization

(either without or within the recipient). By this

the conveyance of the description, originally re­

ceived by sensible appreciation, to the spiritual real­

ization is for the most part effected, if this also

mediates through sense. The process of revelation

presupposes consciousness for its object, and through

taking possession of intuition for the sphere of re­

ligion, there fall to revelation, as its content, the

actual or possible subjects of a religious character.

Thought on these points originated in connection

with the historical monotheism of the Bible. God

is represented as opening intercourse with men by

various means. Theophany or the ap­

s. Biblical pearance of angels alternates or com­

History. bines with speech. Miraculous events

assume the value of signs. Decisive

experiences of the people or of divinely appointed

persons are conceived as specially designed dis­

pensations of God. Prophecy comes to the front,





Revelation THE NEW SCHAFF‑HERZOG 4




retiring what resembles oracle (Uiim and Thum­min; q.v.), and by the prophets God now speaks directly to the people. Thus the word coming from God takes its authoritative place. In the immedi­ate pre‑Christian period, under the impression that prophecy has been silenced, apocalyptic revelation takes its place. Instead of continuous intercourse with God there arises tradition with the dogma of sacred Scripture and its inspiration, more and more extraordinary, in representation. Depend­ence upon Hellenism introduced the allegorical method of interpretation. This dogma of Old‑Tes­tament Scripture was carried over for the estima­tion and treatment of the New, with two points of difference. First, the Jewish representation dealt with reflection upon events in the past; the New arose under the sense of a living intercourse with God. Second, and more significant, Judaism di­rects its inquiry to the transcendent God who con­trols the world; the New Testament realizes more intimately than in olden time the relation with God, and this through the presence of the Holy Spirit. In the fellowship of the risen Christ all are in the most direct communion, as were the prophets. This assurance is dependent on the knowledge of the person of him who was sent by the only true God (John xvii. 3). Jesus is more than prophet; he not only speaks the word of God, but this was made a human person in him, manifesting the invisible God. What this person represents historically, is trans­mitted and interpreted by the Spirit of God and Christ in the hearts of believers. In this Christ are all the treasures of wisdom but not their acquire­ment, for redemption is the instrumental good.

Two elements, more distinct in thought than in life, are contained in the New‑Testament idea of the Spirit of Christ in Christianity: the distinctive sig­nificance of the historical fact named Christ; and the immediate contact of every Christian with God through his Spirit. The conception of 3. Dogmatic the former is identified with the re‑

History. ceived account of it, and subsequently

with the Bible. With the completion

of the double canon of Scripture, the other element,

conscious possession, either had to lose itself in the

confirmation of crystallizing tradition, or aim to

sustain its independence by new productivity, which

it did in Montanism (q.v.) and Ecstasy (q.v.), or in

eclectic Biblieism or mysticism. In the next place,

the Church in awe of traditionalism fell a victim to

the confusion of dogma and revelation. This, to­

gether with the native equipment and training of

the Greek theologians, resulted in positing the op­

eration of revelation as the advancement of knowl­

edge, and the validity of such knowledge was to be

deduced from the idea of the supernatural mode of

transmission. In support was adduced, in depend­

ence upon Scripture, the proof of the Spirit and

power evidenced by the accordance of prophecy

with fulfilment and by miracle. This resulted, in

the course of the Middle Ages, in the problem of the

relation of the reason to the materials of traditional

thought (see sCIIOLAWTICIBM). Previously an Ob­

servation of far‑reaching consequence comes into

view. The mission to the Greeks was fond of fall­

ing back upon the philosophic and popular mono‑


theism for a basis of connection, and for a counter­part to revelation. This gave rise to the assumption of a revelation in all religions, even in the ethical, and the claim was made for these remnants or rays of light, in behalf of the revealer or Logos. The Reformation planting itself on the Bible destroyed irremediably the assurance that church doctrine and revelation coincide. Protestant orthodoxy in the interest of dogmatism followed with the reen­forcing dogma of the inspiration of an infallible text. The strain of attack drew out, on the part of reason, the theory of an original revelation, of the innate ideas, and of the two books of nature and conscience. The period of the Enlightenment (q.v.) brought forth the idea of a supernatural instruc­tion as a supplement to a rational foundation given in and with creation. A philosophic followed by a literary criticism demolished the dogma of a mirac­ulously constructed text. The supernatural in­struction was said either to be substantially cor­roborated by reason (Wolff), or to be a temporary
episode until rational knowledge was ripe and self‑sufficient (Semler, Leasing). Finally, the possibil­

ity itself of such a revelation comes to be challenged

(Reimarus), and ordinary rationalism presumes, on

the basis of deism, to have done with revelation as

superfluous, impossible, and unreal. Meanwhile,

earnest treatment of Scripture turns from the valid­

ity of dogma to the unity of Biblical history. Ro­

manticism (q.v.) instilled a reaction as to the value

and origin of religion. The mystical infusion is not

to be disregarded after Schleiermacher. To this

influence of psychological and anthropological em­

piricism only one more point of view has been added,

which may be termed ethnological empiricism.

Under its banner, Comparative Religion (q.v.) is

prosecuted, which is a statistic of religions with ret­

rospect of their origin and growth, which again in

respect of the study of the sources is denominated

history of religion, and on the basis of the evolu­

tionary hypothesis is elaborated into a philosophy

of religion.

During the long period of orthodox thought the concept of revelation served to insure an otherwise inaccessible content. To remain certain that this

was received intact, the representation 4. Modern of the communication was wrought out Method. without regard to the facts of historical

and individual personal life. Ecstasy as the intermission of personal life is valid in the strictest sense, and miracle as interruption is a

mark for the recognition of revelation, particularly in rationalistic supernaturalism (see RATIONALISM AND SUPERNATURALISM), at the risk of losing a con­tent, however, otherwise inaccessible. In straining

the point of the mode, the content was neglected, with which, however, revelation originally started out. The resulting modern movement has, in all its variations, the observation of the human phe­nomenal form of revelation in the forefront. The problem presents itself in the relation of human autonomy to divine operation, and further in tense ethical subjectivism. This is most evident in the consideration of prophecy. The matter of con­tent, however, readily recedes into the background, while the problem becomes epistemological because



RELIGIOUS ENCYCLOPEDIA Revelation




the content whose form of transmission is under

examination is itself spiritual. Within this anthro­

pocentric, exclusively earthly horizon two funda­

mentally distinct series of observation have found

room: one, the historical empiricism from Bengel

to Hegel, to the modern science of religion; the

other, the psychological, proceeding from " the

inner testimony of the Holy Spirit," through

Schleiermacher, to the agnostic mysticism of the

religion of the indeterminate or blank religiousness.

According to Aristotle (see RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY

OF), the practical activity of reason consists in the

judgments of formal thought, from which results

the overestimation of coordinating abstractions and

of empty universal formal concepts.

g. Sub‑ Such a fate also befalls the considera­

jectivism. tion of the religious life from which

depends the understanding of revela­

tion. Employed by the universal concept of r6lig­

ion, revelation is either not universal and then not

essential to religion, or else remains as an insepsr

rable accompaniment. Theology presumes to find

in revelation the cause of religion, and the term

offers itself conveniently to denote that unknown

quantity through the effective entrance of which

into the soul‑processes the appearance of religion

in the inner household may be explained. The

points of connection with the ideas of natural re­

ligion and revelation lie already at hand for the

correlation of these ideas. The axiom is assumed:

no revelation, no religion, whether in history or in

personal life. What, however, is thus thought of as

revelation is compared throughout with the preva­

lent idea of religion according to psychological de­

termination. In this collation immediacy of the

religious relation or the original capacity for relig­

ious experience in every human being coalesces with

revelation. R. A. Lipsius emphatically pronounces

mystical experience to be the vital center in relig­

ion and the essential in revelation. This experience,

however, is not a disclosure, since it gives rise to a

feeling never fully tangible to apprehension. Turn­

ing the thought around, it appears evident that re­

ligion, so far as its content is concerned, would never

get beyond the speaking of tongues. But the fun­

damental perception is everywhere at hand, wher­

ever the fact of religion is found in universal relig­

iousness fundamentally independent of history. In

case this religiousness is found in connection with

an atheistic philosophy, it affords revelation even

without deity. The transfer of the ecclesiastical

technical expression to formal analogies observed

in other departments of life affords means for closer

comparison. Discoveries have been made, whether

by search or fortuitously, which have been desig­

nated revelations. The ingenious conception of the

thinker (especially of the artist), or vision, offers

itself as analogous to the flash of the religious spark.

If thought be not reinforced by conviction, with

reference to the content of religion, from elsewhere,

namely, from the more securely grounded ethical

consciousness, or if the pious only experiences him­

self and the self‑assigned relation to the non‑ego,

then the fear arises that such revelation may be no

more than self‑deception of the imagination, or pos­

sibly a universal strained representation, without




foundation in fact (Feuerbach). Against such a subjectivistic dissection of the generalized concept of revelation recourse from the abstract theory of religion to comparative religion affords no relief. There is, indeed, no little mention, in such presenta­tions, of revelation underlying all religions, without going into the concept of it. Nevertheless it is ad­mitted (Thiele) that a class of religions of revela­tion is to be abstracted; namely, those conscious of the possession of revelations. Meanwhile there remains for this consciousness, so long as religion is assumed to be nothing else than becoming in­wardly aware of an inevitable superior power, nothing but the verdict that it is an imagery of the fancy pertaining to psych6logical movements other­wise explainable. If it is only a matter of influences and their psychological exercise, then the specially religious lies either in the content, or perhaps on the side of the elaborating soul and its mode of ap­prehension. In either case the special mediation of religious operations drops out and with this also the occasion for applying the notion of revelation. If not set aside, its universalized use serves 0 generalize the Biblical religions with the others, by presenting them merely as particularly shaded modes of the universal concept of religion.

This entire point of view is guilty of a deprecia­tion of the historical. Schleiermacher was aware of this when he declared ethics to be the book of forms for history, and history to be the book of illustra‑

tions for ethics; only it is to be borne 6. Depre‑ in mind that by ethics he meant the

ciation of formulation of the natural laws of so‑

the Histor‑ cial life. The uniform laws, therefore,

ical and are essential; the variations of phe­Personal. nomena are secondary. So also as re‑

gards the religious; they are varieties similar in kind to the species of a genus. So far, however, the introduction of the historical treat­ment of religion does not alter the case. For if the steps of religious movement are deduced not from what is characteristic in religion, but from the prog­ress of mental culture, the illumination of ethical views, or the repletion of philosophical thought‑in short, from influences whose representations are in­dependent of religion‑then religion and its line of development remain the same, namely, the ever fundamentally invariable religiousness. Only its reflex imagery in consciousness and its spiritual elaboration vary. Consequently the standard for judging these influences lies outside of the religious, according to this position. In this connection also appears, with some logical consequence, a departure in the use of the concept of revelation. Originally denoting an impulse giving rise to the fact of re­ligion, its given historical connection leads to the observation that religiousness in the strongly ex­ercised becomes itself revealing upon the passively susceptible. As these transmissions must fulfil themselves in the active appropriation of impulses, and their use is determined by influences from with­out, these mediations must ultimately be of indif­ferent importance or must act as inhibitions, just as soon as religiousness becomes first‑hand or orig­inal. Inasmuch as this form of revelation again removes itself from the field, 0 thought of a relig‑




1   ...   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   ...   154




The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2020
send message

    Main page