Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Reading Schweitzer Again for the 1st Time

I have also read The Quest of the Historical Jesus and The Kingdom of God and Primitive Christianity several times. Schweitzer in his last book changed his thinking concluding that the death of Jesus has no atoning value. Schweitzer explained in detail his reasons why.

I agree with Schweitzer that Luke has no theology of the cross.[i] This was not important until I realized that Theophilus was the High Priest and that his lack of understanding was one of the reasons why Luke crafted his masterpiece for him. I later realized that the High Priest believed that his own death had limited atoning value. Once I came to this realization, the reasons why other authors had concluded that Jesus did not believe his death had atoning value and/or that Luke had no atonement theology became important to me. Therefore, rereading them for the 1st time because important.

Conzelmann supplied several reasons based upon his observations that Luke omits Mk 10:45; the cross does not have a role in the proclamation of salvation; and Luke does not include any atonement ideas based on Isaiah 53.

Schweitzer also considered the death of Jesus to be a divine necessity but the reasons advanced by him are complicated and not readily summarized. They are based upon his thorough study of the concept of the Kingdom of God in the Jewish prophetic writings and the conditions that must be satisfied prior to its arrival.

Schweitzer recognized that the need for repentance and its related requirements are very important to Jesus. In fact, the Lord’s Prayer in the Petition that says “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” seems to place emphasis on this so much as that Schweitzer said “Even if the Servant passages suggest it, Jesus cannot regard his death as a sacrifice necessary for the forgiveness of sins. His view of the unconditional forgiveness that comes from God’s compassion precludes it.”

This petition of the Lord's Prayer is a demanding one. Not only do we ask God's forgiveness for our daily offenses, but we link God's forgiveness of us with our forgiveness of others. Forgiving others is not always easy to do. We need God's help to do it. But it must be done or we ourselves cannot receive God's mercy. There is no indication that Jesus changed this.

Schweitzer emphasized the eschatological aspect of the Lord’s Prayer translating “give us our daily bread” as “Give us to-day, now, our bread for the future” that is to say the bread we will eat at the messianic banquet. This eschatological interpretation suggests to me that the Lord’s Prayer may have been used in a Eucharistic setting in the early church.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2008

[i] Although his reasons would also apply to Matthew and Mark I agree with Schweitzer only because I believe that Matthew and Mark rewrote Luke to correct his “errors.”


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