Baus, Karl. From the Apostolic Community to Constantine // History of the Church. Ed.H.Jedin, J.Dolan. Vol. I.
PART ONE The Beginnings
Judaism in the Time of Jesus
THE New Testament account of salvation history tells us that Jesus Christ came into this world "when the fullness of time was come" (Gal 4:4, Mk 1:14). A longing for the promised Messiah was certainly alive in Jewry at that time, but it was more generally rooted in the political distress of the people than in religious motives. For more than half a century the Jewish people had lived under Roman domination, which was all the more hated because it was exercised by a man who had deeply offended their most sacred national and religious feelings. Herod the Great, the son of Caesar's friend Antipater — an Idumaean and therefore a foreigner — had contrived to obtain from the Roman Senate the title of King of the Jews, in return for which he had to pledge himself to protect Roman interests in the politically important Near East, especially against the dangerous Parthians.
He had first to conquer his kingdom by force of arms, and from the moment that he first trod upon Palestinian soil he was met by the hatred of the people, who under the leadership of the Hasmonaean prince Antigonus offered violent resistance to him. Herod overcame this with Roman assistance and took Jerusalem in 37 B.C. He ruthlessly exterminated the Hasmonaean dynasty, which more than a century earlier, under Judas Maccabaeus and his brothers, had defended Jewish religious freedom in an heroic struggle against Syrian overlordship. Herod managed to hold in check the seething fury of the people, but in his efforts to win the hearts of his subjects by rebuilding the Temple, founding new cities, and promoting the economic and cultural life of his kingdom, he failed. In his will he divided the kingdom among his three younger sons: the central part, Judaea, with Samaria and Idumaea, was left to Archelaus, who was also to inherit the royal title. The adjacent territory to the north went to Herod Antipas, the provinces of Batanaea, Trachonitis, and Auranitis in the north-east, to Philip.
However, the change of ruler led in Judaea to serious disturbances, which could be put down only with the help of the Roman army. The Romans,
seeing that Archelaus was unable to guarantee peace and security, deposed him in 6 B.C. Augustus gave the country a new administration in the person of a Roman procurator who had Caesarea as his official residence and who was responsible, in association with the Roman governor in Syria, for the military security and economic control of the region, while the Sanhedrin, a purely Jewish body under the presidency of the high priest, was made competent for Jewish internal affairs. But even this arrangement failed to bring the awaited civil peace. For the Jews, it was a grave affront to their national consciousness that a Roman cohort was always stationed in Jerusalem and that their taxes were fixed by Romans. Many a procurator overplayed his role as representative of the Roman master-race with too much emphasis and so fed the flames of hatred against foreign domination. The root cause of the continued strained relations between political overlords and subject people is, however, to be found in the latter's unique intellectual and spiritual character, for which a Roman could hardly have had much understanding.
The Religious Situation among Palestinian Jewry
The Jewish people was, in the eyes of surrounding nations, characterized above all by the peculiarity of its religious convictions, which it sought to defend in the midst of utterly different currents of thought and forms of worship. While not avoiding contact with this surrounding world in every-day life, the Jews had held fast to the essential features of their faith and religious life with remarkable persistence, even when it cost them heavy sacrifices and resulted in isolation from other peoples. The central point of the Jewish religion was its monotheism; the Jews were conscious of being led, throughout all the phases of their history, by the one true God, Jahweh, for he had often revealed himself to them as their only Lord by his immediate intervention or by the word of his prophets. This belief in the guidance of a just and faithful God might, indeed, waver in its degree of intensity and immediacy, and it might in later times be exposed through the speculations of many rabbis to the danger of a certain rigidity, yet the people never lost it. The pious Jew planned his daily life out of his belief in God's faithful and merciful guidance: the people as a whole knew themselves to have been chosen before all the nations of the world by the Covenant which he had made with them, so that one day salvation for all men might go forth from them. This faith was nourished by the hope in a future Saviour and Redeemer, whom the prophets had unwearyingly proclaimed as the Messiah. This hope constantly raised up again both individuals and people. The Messiah was to spring from among them and to establish in Israel the kingdom of God, thus raising Israel above all the kingdoms of the world, and he was to be king over them.
JUDAISM IN THE TIME OF JESUS
This expectation of the Messiah and of the kingdom of God was, in times of grave peril for the religious and political freedom of the people, their chief source of strength. With merging of religious and political life, the idea of the Messiah easily took on an all too earthly tinge, coloured by the daily distresses of the Jewish people, so that many saw in the Messiah predominantly the saviour from worldly tribulations, or later, quite concretely, the liberator from the hated Roman yoke.
But there were also in contemporary Jewry circles which did not lose sight of the essentially religious mission of the Messiah, as foretold by the prophets, and who awaited in him the king of David's stock who would make Jerusalem all pure and holy, who would tolerate no injustice, no evil, who would reign over a holy people in a holy kingdom (cf. Dan 7:9,13, 27). Out of such a glowing hope were born those religious canticles which are called the psalms of Solomon, and which, following the pattern of the biblical psalms, express in living and convincing accents the longing for the promised Saviour, as for instance the seventeenth psalm: "Behold,
0 Lord, and raise up unto them their king, the son of David, at the time in the which Thou seest, O God, that he may reign over Israel Thy servant. Gird him with strength, that he may cast down the lord of wickedness; cleanse Jerusalem from the heathen who so pitifully oppress her... Then shall he gather together a holy people which he shall rule with justice, and he shall raise up the tribes of the people which the Lord his God hath blessed ... He shall keep the Gentiles under his yoke, that they may serve him; he shall glorify the Lord before all the world. He shall make Jerusalem all holy and all pure, as it was in the beginning... Injustice shall be done no more among them in his time, for all shall be holy and the Lord's anointed shall now be their king... Blessed is he who shall live in those days! O God, let his grace soon appear over Israel: let him save us from defilement by unholy enemies. The Lord is Himself our king for ever and ever."
Besides belief in one God and the expectation of the Messiah, the Law was of decisive importance in Judaism at that time. To observe the Law was the daily task of every pious Jew, and its fulfilment was his most serious endeavour; if he transgressed against it, even unwittingly, he must make atonement. His fidelity to the Law had its reward, even in this life, in those blessings of modest well-being which the Lord gives; but its true reward would come when the Last Judgment confirmed that upon earth he had been just and could enter into eternal life. The Law was given to every Jew in the Holy Scriptures, into the spirit of which he was initiated in early childhood by his parents and which he was later taught in special schools. Participation in divine worship in the Temple, or in a synagogue such as were to be found in all the principal towns of Palestine, kept alive his knowledge of the Scriptures which were expounded there in sermons. As the Law did not provide ready-made answers that covered every situation in life, its interpretation was entrusted to special scholars (known as Scribes) who became an important institution in the religious life of the Jews.
In their fundamental reverence for the Law all Jews were agreed; yet the Law itself became the occasion of a division of the people into several parties, based upon the differing degrees of importance that they attached to its influence on the whole of life. Even before the beginning of the Maccabaean wars there had arisen the movement of the Hassidim or Hasideans, a community of serious-minded men who, for their religious life, sought the ultimate will of God that lay behind the Law. This will of God seemed to them so sublime that they wanted to build "a fence around the Law", so as to make every transgression, even involuntary, impossible. They wished to serve the Law with an unconditional obedience even unto death, and thus they helped to create that attitude of heroic sacrifice which distinguished the people in the time of the Maccabees. The Hasideans, however, did not gain a universal following; in particular, the noble families and the leading priests held aloof from them. These were the circles which are called Sadducees in the New Testament; they subscribed to a sort of rationalism which rejected belief in angels and spirits and ridiculed the idea of the resurrection of the dead. For them, the five books of Moses, the Tora proper, were the principal authority. In political questions they inclined towards an opportunistic attitude in dealing with their overlords. They were a minority, though an influential one.
The most considerable religious party at the beginning of the first Christian century, not in numbers but in the esteem in which it was held by the people, was that of the Pharisees. Although their name signifies "the separated ones", they sought consciously to influence the whole people and to spread their opinions, an attempt in which they largely succeeded. They regarded themselves as the representatives of orthodox Judaism, and their conception of the Law and its observance was at that time the typical expression of Jewish religion. They took over from the Hasideans the basic idea of the overriding importance of the Law in the life of the individual as well as of the people as a whole, and in this respect the Pharisees may be regarded as their successors. But they made the "fence around the Law" even more impenetrable in as much as they wished to lay down the line of conduct required by the Law for every situation in life. This detailed interpretation of the Law found expression in the Mishna and the Talmud, in which great importance was attached to the opinions of earlier teachers, so that, in succeeding times, tradition played a predominant part in the study of the Law. The attempt to apply the Law to every conceivable situation of daily life led to an exegesis in which every particle was of great moment, and which could draw the most abstruse conclusions from incidentals.
More fateful was the consequent casuistic attitude in all moral questions, which either rendered free moral decision on the part of the individual impossible or gave it a spurious basis. At the same time the Pharisaic Scribes were induced in particular cases to make concessions which contradicted their own principles, since they had after all to make decisions which could be followed by the whole people. "With such a casuistic attitude, differences of opinion among the Scribes were unavoidable, and schools of interpretation grew up as for example the school of Shammai or the school of Hillel. In public life the Pharisees were at pains to serve as living models for the fulfilment of the Law, and accepted certain honours in return, such as the title Rabbi or the first places in the synagogues. Sometimes there is traceable, even in their personal piety, a vain self-complacency on account of their fidelity to the Law, which looked down with a mixure of pity and contempt on sinners and on "the multitude that knoweth not the Law" (Jn 7:49). In the face of such an attitude, the great fundamental idea of the God of Israel as the Lord of History, to whose will men had to bow down in humility and trust and whose mercy they might implore in hopeful prayers, receded into the background.
The Pharisees did not, however, succeed in permeating the whole of contemporary Judaism with their religious opinions. The group known as the Zealots likewise wished to observe the Law faithfully, but their attitude was markedly warlike, ready for martyrdom. They actively rejected all that was pagan and refused to pay tribute to Caesar; they even called for open resistance to heathen domination, because they considered that obedience to the Law demanded such a holy war.
The Qumran Community
Fidelity to the Law and zeal for its complete and pure fulfilment drove another group of the Jewish people, the Essenes, out of public life into the wilderness. The numerous literary and archaeological discoveries which have been made since 1947 among the ruins of Hirbet Qumran, west of the Dead Sea (a centre of this sect), have greatly enriched the picture which Pliny4 and Flavius Josephus drew of them. Their beginnings go back to the time of the Maccabees and they flourished about the year 100 B.C.
The Essenes believed that Belial, as Satan was usually called in Qumran, had spread three nets over Israel: unchastity, ill-gotten riches, and pollution of the Temple.® They meant by this the enrichment of the leaders of the people with heathen booty and the very lax way in which some of them interpreted the marriage laws (Lev 18:13). To the Essenes it seemed that the service of the Temple could no longer be carried out without defilement by priests holding such lax views; and, when their representations were not followed by removal of the evil, they ceased to attend the Temple or to take part in its services, renouncing all communion with "the men of corruption". In practice this meant a schism of the Hasideans into the party of the Pharisees and the numerically smaller group of the Essenes, who now felt themselves to be the "holy remnant" of the true Israel. Their leadership was assumed by a person who, in the Qumran texts, is called the "Teacher of Righteousness" and to whom the first organization of their community is attributed. This teacher proclaimed a new interpretation of the Law which consisted in the total fulfilment of the will of God, as expressed in it. Here there were no half-measures: one could only love God entirely or reject him utterly, walk in his ways or consciously persist in the obstinacy of one's own heart. He who did not join the Essenes in their unconditional obedience to the Law as understood by them was of necessity godless. The will to observe the Law completely led to such concrete results as the reform by the Essenes of the Jewish calendar, so that the feasts might be kept annually on the same day of the week.
The Teacher of Righteousness further proclaimed a new interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies. The last age foretold by them had already begun; the final struggle between the sons of light and the children of darkness was at hand, and its outcome would bring, for the sons of light, the Essenes, the commencement of an eternity of peace and salvation. Two Messiahs were to play a part in this final combat, the high priest of the last age, the "Anointed of Aaron", and the prince of the last age, the "Anointed of Israel". The Essenes' consciousness of being specially chosen went with a reverent recognition of the divine omnipotence, which had sorted men out through a kind of predestination; some were given to the spirit of truth and light, some to the spirit of darkness and wickedness. The salvation of the children of light was an unmerited grace.
' J.-P. Audet, "Qumran et la notice de Pline sur les esseniens" in RB 68 (1961), 346-87. • W. Foerster, op. cit. 58 f.
J UVAUm li."* i lliv i AlVli/ vr J.C.OUO
This radical doctrine and the practice based upon it led to an organized union of the Essenes, which, in the Qumran group, took on the character of a religious order. Here the community of God developed into a quasi- monastic brotherhood into which a man was received as a full member after a period of probation, a novitiate, whereupon he swore an oath to observe the rules of the order. The property of a new member became the property of the brotherhood. Meals and consultations in common brought the members together. On these occasions a rigid order of precedence prevailed, the priests taking a higher position. Special regulations governing ritual cleanliness required numerous and repeated washings; the brotherhood in Qumran was celibate, but in the neighbourhood of the settlement there lived married followers, and there must have been individual Essenes all over Palestine. There was no pity for the godless man; he was regarded with merciless hatred and the wrath of God was called down upon him.
The non-biblical writings which have been found at least in fragmentary form at Hirbet Qumran show the strong interest of the group in the so-called apocalyptic literature, the themes of which are the great events which are to take place at the end of the world: the final victory over evil, the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment and the glory of the everlasting age of salvation. Fragments of works of this kind already known, such as the Book of Jubilees, the Book of Enoch, and the Jewish prototype of the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, suggest with great probability the Essene origin of those writings. Other fragments, such as that of a Book of Noah, a Book of Mysteries, and a manuscript on the New Jerusalem, confirm the supposition that the number of "apocalypses" was much larger than what now survives. Certain features of this apocalyptic literature of the Essenes indicate that a change took place in the community's views during the course of time. A more merciful attitude towards the godless and towards sinners appears; the hate theme recedes into the background and the duty of loving one's neighbour embraces those who do not belong to the community, even the enemy and the sinner. The age of salvation came later to be understood as a kind of return of Paradise on earth; no more than the Qumran texts of the earlier period do the apocalyptic texts point to a clearly defined Messiah-figure.
The literature so far known permits no complete reconstruction of the Essene movement. Only Josephus, writing after the destruction of Jerusalem7 goes into detail. According to him, there was no far-reaching inner development among them; they maintained unshaken their demand for heroic fidelity to the Law, and Josephus also describes their charitable assistance even to non-members, though the duty of hating the godless remained. Whether the Essenes also took part in the fight against t'ne Romans
7 Josephus, Antiquitates, 20, 5, 4, sect. 113-17.
during the rebellion of A.D. 66-70, is not definitely stated, but it appears probable, since that conflict might easily have been interpreted by them as the final battle of the sons of light against those of darkness. Josephus is quite silent about their Messianic ideas at that time; he mentions neither John the Baptist nor Jesus of Nazareth in this connexion, so the most faithful to the Law of all Jewish groups probably knew hardly anything about the latter. Nor can a close relationship with or dependence of Jesus on the Qumran sect be proved.
The monastic centre of Qumran was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 68 ; the remnant of the community was probably so decimated in the Bar Cochba rebellion (A.D. 132-5) that reorganization was impossible. The Essene movement has no importance in the subsequent history of the Jewish religion; the leading role passed to their great opponents, the Pharisees.
The Jewish Diaspora
Outside Palestine there dwelt large numbers of Jews who were to have a decisive influence on the expansion of Christianity in the Hellenistic world. Since the eighth century B.C. they had spread in repeated waves, of forced settlement or of voluntary emigration, over the Near East and the whole Mediterranean basin, and at the beginning of the Christian era they considerably outnumbered the inhabitants of Palestine. The great centres of Hellenistic culture had a special attraction for them; thus, for instance there were powerful Jewish colonies at Antioch, Rome, and especially Alexandria, where two of the five districts of the city were allotted to them. Their fellow-citizens saw in their strong community feeling an especially striking characteristic. Wherever their numbers allowed, they organized themselves into congregations, of which about one hundred and fifty are known to have existed in the coastal areas of the Mediterranean when the apostles first began their mission. The centre of each congregation was the synagogue, presided over by an archisynagogus as leader of their prayer- meetings, while a council of elders, with an archon at its head, concerned itself with civil matters.
The bond which held the Diaspora Jews together was their religious faith. It was this principally which prevented them from being contaminated in greater numbers by their pagan surroundings. They had skilfully contrived to win from the city or State authorities a great deal of special consideration, a number of exceptions and privileges which respected their religious opinions and manner of worship. This only emphasized all the more their peculiarity and their unique position in public life. They belonged mostly to the middle class; in Asia Minor and Egypt many of them were engaged in agriculture as workers on the land or as tenant farmers, but some were independent farmers or estate-owners. One trade had a special attraction for them, that of weaving and clothmaking. Inscriptions also mention the occupations of tax-collector, judge, even officer in the army, although such examples are rare. In the great city of Alexandria they early played a considerable role in banking; but here they did not enjoy the unqualified approval of their pagan neighbours.
Their new milieu had in many respects exercised its influence on the Jews of the Diaspora without leading to actual infringement of the Law. Like all immigrants they gave up their mother-tongue after a while and adopted the international Greek language, the koine, a fact which led to the use of this language in the worship of the synagogue. Here Egyptian Jewry had shown the way when it translated over a long period the individual books of the Old Testament into Greek and thus created the Septuagint, which was used throughout the Diaspora in the first century A.D. as the recognized translation of the Bible. The reading of the Scriptures in Greek was followed by prayers in Greek, of which some have been adopted by the Christian Church. It was even more necessary that the explanatory sermon should be in the new tongue. The use of Greek in the religious sphere inevitably exposed the Jews to the cultural influences of Hellenism in a wider sense, and in a narrower sense to the effect of Hellenistic religious currents.
Such influence was strongest in Alexandria, intellectually the most active centre of the Diaspora. This city was the home of the Jew Philo (f c. 40 A.D.), whose extensive writings seem like the final echo of those inner conflicts which the intellectual world of Hellenism might have caused in the mind of an educated and intellectually alert Diaspora Jew. In his work, preserved for posterity by Christianity, we feel the effects of the different philosophical tendencies of his time. From the Stoics the Jews took over the allegorical method of scriptural interpretation which apparently was taught at a special school of exegetics for Jews in Alexandria. Without giving up the literal sense of the biblical description of events in the great Jewish past, the new teachers found a deeper secret meaning beneath it, which saw in Adam for instance the symbol of human reason, in Eve that of sensuality, and in the tree of life that of virtue. Paradise itself was an allegory of the wisdom of God, and the four rivers that flowed from it were the cardinal virtues. More even than the Stoics, the "most holy Plato" influenced the intellectual world of Philo, who took from him not only his philosophical terminology but also his high esteem for the intellect and his longing for a spiritualized life, as well as his idea of the imperfection of the material world. Philo's doctrine of creation has also a Platonic colouring, especially his notion of the "middle powers" which exist between
JC. W Uli V/lil\lJliniiii A.
a perfect God and the imperfect world; they are called "thoughts of God", and the highest of them is the Logos, Reason itself, which was to play such an important part in the theology of the first Christian centuries. Philo also explained the ritual laws of the Jews in an allegorical sense and developed from them, using the philosophical terminology of Hellenism, ethical principles, culminating in the demand for ascetic control of the life of instinct; only thus could the soul free itself from the prison of the body and become capable of that mystical rapture which unites it with God in "sober intoxication" and loving surrender.
Despite this enthusiasm for the Hellenistic philosophy of his time, Philo remained a convinced Jew by religion. What he took over from Hellenistic philosophy was after all, he believed, only an earlier gift from the Jews to the pagans, whose teacher, unknown to them, had been Moses. His God remains the eternal God of the Old Testament, whose name men cannot utter, to whose mercy and goodness they owe all, and on whose grace they depend. He is to be honoured by observance of the Sabbath and by the other precepts of the Law, upon which Israel's former greatness was based. Philo remained inwardly and outwardly united with the Jewish people; he shared their belief in a Messiah who would bring them victory over all the nations of the earth and give them a new Paradise.
If the faith of a Jew so receptive to Greek ideas as Philo, was not endangered in its innermost citadel, the loyalty of the average Diaspora Jew to the faith of his Fathers was even more secure. An essential part of it was the spiritual and practical attachment to the Palestinian homeland which he unwaveringly maintained. Jerusalem and its Temple were the focus of this attachment. In the consciousness of every adult Diaspora Jew the Temple was the supreme symbol of his religious origin, and with great conscientiousness he made his annual financial sacrifice, the Temple tax; it was his earnest desire to pray there one day with his Palestinian co-religionists at the time of the Pasch. A further support for his faith was the aforementioned close association of all the Diaspora Jews, which led to an exclusiveness often criticized by their pagan neighbours, and which played its part in causing those recurrent waves of anti-Semitism that swept over the Roman Empire.
But all the mockery and scorn, all the slights and persecutions which from time to time were the lot of the Diaspora Jews did not prevent them from carrying out enterprising and methodical propaganda for their convictions and their religion which met with considerable success. This propaganda was served by a not inconsiderable body of writings which, adapting itself to the literary tastes of the Hellenistic reader, sought to inform the latter that the orginal source of all culture, including religious culture, was to be found in Moses and his people. To this literature
int 11IVIC, vjr JilaUS
belonged, for example, the so-called Letter to Aristeas,9 which by its skilfully told legend of the origin of the Septuagint directed the reader's interest to the sacred scriptures of the Jews and included an attractive description of Jerusalem, its temple and worship, and of the Jewish priesthood. Books Three to Five of the Oracula Sibyllina are also an advertisement for the Jewish religion. These praise monotheism and draw from the fulfilment of ancient prophecies in the history of the Jewish people an allegorical interpretation of history as a whole; with the prophecy of an approaching Last Judgment they endeavour to persuade the pagans to embrace the Jewish religion. Josephus's book Contra Apionem was openly apologetic in tone, painting an impressive picture of the history of the Jewish people with all its vicissitudes and describing in enthusiastic terms its great leaders, prophets and martyrs, religious laws and customs, with a view to winning converts to the Jewish faith. Its representation of Jewish theocracy, based upon unconditional monotheism, and its references to the undeniable effects of Jewish piety and ethics on the life of the people could not fail to make an impression on many a Hellenistic reader in search of religious truth.
The success of this propaganda, supplemented no doubt by the spoken word, is shown by the great number of pagans who entered into closer relations with the Jewish religion. Those who formally went over to the Jewish faith and by circumcision, ritual bath, and offering of sacrifice, became fully-fledged Jews, were known as proselytes and undertook all the obligations of the Jewish Law. Considerably larger was the number of the "God-fearing", who would not indeed accept circumcision — painful to pagan sensibilities — but could not resist the attraction of monotheistic belief and the services of the synagogue. They joined in the celebration of the Sabbath and many other religious exercises; their children usually took the final step of formal conversion. The sources give no information as to the precise numbers of either group, but they were no doubt represented in most Jewish congregations of the Diaspora.
The Jewish Diaspora has a significance for the early Christian Missions which cannot be overlooked. It performed an important preliminary work in this connexion, firstly by preparing the Septuagint, which at once became the Bible of the early Christians, secondly by preaching monotheism and the Commandments of Moses, which were also the foundation of Christian morality. Since the synagogues were often the starting-place of Christian missionaries, the latter found there, above all among the God-fearing and the proselytes, hearts ready to receive their message. In the conflict which
• Edition of the Greek text with French translation by A. Pelletier, Sources chretiennes 84 (Paris 1962); English translation in Charles, op. cit. II, 83 ff. See also A. Pelletier, Flavius Josephe, Adaptateur de la lettre d'Aristee (1962).
soon ensued between Christian preachers and Diaspora Jews, the struggle to win the souls of these two groups was — along with the doctrinal differences — an essential factor. That the Christian met with greater success is shown not least by the reaction of the born Diaspora Jews, who now gave up the Septuagint and made other translations to replace it, because they saw their former Bible being employed so successfully by the Christians. They rejected too the allegorical method of writers like Philo, as the Christians had taken it over and used it in particular to dispute the claim of the Mosaic Law to continued validity. A rigid emphasis was placed on the Tora, the strict rabbinical interpretation of which now prevailed even among the Jews of the Diaspora. On the other hand, many features of the developing Christian liturgy, much in the worship and preaching of the primitive Christians, in early Christian literature, and in the text of prayers, is an inheritance from the world of the Diaspora, an inheritance which was sometimes taken over directly by the Christians to serve the purposes of anti-Jewish propaganda.
Jesus of Nazareth and the Church
THE history of the Church has its roots in Jesus of Nazareth, who was born into the intellectual and religious world of Palestinian Jewry which has just been described. His life and work, by which the Church was founded, are therefore a necessary preliminary to a history of the latter.
The sources which tell us of that life and its significance for the Church are of a quite exceptional nature. Apart from a few references in pagan and Jewish works, which are valuable because they place beyond discussion any attempt to deny the historical existence of Jesus, the main sources are the writings of the New Testament, especially the first three gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and some of the letters of St Paul. None of these was intended to be an historical biography of Jesus of Nazareth, to tell the story of his life from beginning to end with all the details we would like to know. The three synoptic gospels are the outcome of the apostolic preaching about Jesus and accordingly give the image of him which remained vivid in the minds and hearts of his first disciples when they proclaimed him after his ascension as the crucified and risen Messiah. That image is shaped by the requirements of the apostles' preaching and the faith which supported it. We are not on that account forced to adopt an attitude of radical scepticism when faced with the question whether such sources can ever lead us to a true picture of the "historical" Jesus.
JWWJ v/r nn^ARtin Al"< U int
True, an actual "Life of Jesus" cannot be obtained from them. But these New Testament writings are always going back to that Life, giving prominence to single facts and events, to actions and woi;ds of Jesus in his earthly life which have a special significance for the proclamation of the apostolic message, bearing witness to them at the same time as important historical facts of his life. The preaching of the apostles was expressly intended to prove that the earthly Jesus of Nazareth was the same Christ that they proclaimed, from whom came salvation for all men. Thus a series of individual facts and characteristics can, with all the scrupulous care that historical criticism demands, be built up from these sources and presented as a kind of outline of the life of Jesus.
Four or five years before the beginning of our era, Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. Forty days after circumcision the child was presented to the Lord in the Temple as a first-born son, in accordance with Jewish Law, on which occasion two pious Israelites, Simeon and Anna, spoke prophetically of his Messianic mission. Dangers which threatened the infant from King Herod forced his mother and his foster-father Joseph to sojourn for a long period in Egypt, until, after Herod's death, the family was able to settle at Nazareth in Galilee. The boy grew up in this quiet village, perhaps without ever attending a rabbinical school. Only once did something of his future greatness shine forth, when at twelve years of age he spoke with the Scribes in the Temple about religious questions, showing knowledge superior to theirs and excusing himself to his parents with the words: "I must be about my Father's business" (Lk 2:49).
About thirty years after his birth Jesus left his parental home and began his work among the people of his homeland. First he took a remarkable step, seeking out the great preacher of penance, John the Baptist10 by the Jordan and accepting baptism from him, whereby God "anointed him with the Holy Spirit", who descended upon him in the form of a dove while the voice of the Father bore witness from Heaven that this was his "beloved Son" (Mt 3:13f.). Conscious of his Messianic mission and his divine sonship, which he was able to confirm by numerous miracles, Jesus now proclaimed in word and deed that the kingdom of God was come, and that all men, not only Israelites, were called to the kingdom, provided they served God with true piety. The supreme law of the religion he preached was the unconditional love of God and a love of one's neighbour that embraced men of all nations. In clearly recognizable opposition to
E- Lohmeyer, Das Urchristentum, 1: Johannes der Taufer (Gottingen 1932); C. H. Kraeling, John the Baptist (New York 1951); H. W. Brownlee, "John the Baptist in the New Light of the Ancient Scrolls" in Interpretation 9 (1955), 71-90; J. Steinmann, St John the Baptist and the Desert Tradition (New York 1963).
Pharisaical practice11 with its outwardly correct observance of the Law, he declared purity of mind and intention to be the basis of moral behaviour, thus giving to the individual conscience the decisive role in the sphere of religion. Jesus furthermore re-established the true priority of obligations, derived from that life of inward union with the Father which he preached as the ideal: more important than scrupulous observance of the Sabbath is a helpful action performed for our neighbour — of more value than the prescribed prayers recited in the Temple is silent converse with the Father in the solitude of one's own room. Shocking for many was his message that publicans and sinners, the poor and infirm, whom God seemed so obviously to have punished, had the first right to expect a welcome in the house of the Father. The self-righteousness of the Pharisees was deeply shaken by the news that there is more joy in Heaven over one sinner who does penance than over ninety-nine just men; they did not understand that in the coming kingdom of God all human actions count for nothing, that only he is just to whom the Father graciously grants it. The poor were called blessed, because they were free from earthly cares about possessions and riches, which all too easily take up in men's hearts the place that belongs to God alone.
But consoling though his message was for those who had hitherto been despised and lowly among the people, great though the effects of his miraculous powers were upon those marked by lameness, blindness, leprosy, and spiritual diseases, no less strict were the conditions which Jesus imposed upon those who would enter the kingdom of God. The whole man was called upon to follow him without regard for previous friendships, family ties, or possessions; he who set his hand to the plough and looked back was unworthy of the kingdom (Lk 9:62). Such demands dispel any idea of a peaceful family idyll; his words cut like a sword through all existing social and familiar bonds. But the new and unique thing in his teaching was this above all: no man could come to the Father except through Jesus. He demanded a discipleship that was quite impossible without painful self-denial; the man who would truly be his disciple must be able to lay aside his own life (Lk 14:26).
All those, however, who made up their minds to follow him and were thus called to the kingdom formed a new community. Jesus' words and deeds tend unmistakably towards the creation and development of such a community. He proclaimed no kind of only individual piety or religion, but a message which binds together those who hear it and are filled by it as brothers in a religious family that prays together to the Father for the forgiveness of its sins. Jesus himself on one occasion called this community his Church, and he claimed that he was establishing it by his work (Mt 16:18). He carefully prepared the ground for the foundation of this religious society. If, at times, because of his miracles, great multitudes greeted him with loud acclamations, it was but a minority of the people who accepted to become his disciples. From this group he selected twelve men,12 who occupied a special position among his followers; they were the object of his special attention: with them he discussed the special tasks for which he intended them in the community that was to be. They were to take up and continue the mission which the Father in Heaven had entrusted to him; "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (Jn 20:21). The Gospels emphasize again and again with unmistakable clarity the special position of the Twelve, who received the name of apostles, envoys.13 The content of their mission was the proclamation of the kingdom of God; to fulfill it, the apostles were expressly appointed as teachers, whose word the nations must believe and trust like that of Jesus himself (Lk 10:16; Mt 28:20), to whose judgment they must submit as if it were a verdict of the Lord (Mt 18:18). Finally, to the Twelve, who were to carry out his own office of High Priest in the new community, Jesus gave priestly powers (Jn 17:19; Mt 20:28). They were to nourish and sanctify its members through a mysterious, sacramental life of grace. From the group Jesus chose Peter for a special task: he was appointed to be the rock foundation on which his Church should stand. With a singular form of words he was given the mission to feed the sheep and the lambs and to strengthen his brothers. (Mt 16:18; Jn 21:15).
Thus the foundation prepared by Jesus before his resurrection received an organic framework, perceptible even from without, which would now grow in space and time, according to laws of growth implanted in it by its founder. Its purely supernatural basis lies indeed elsewhere: it is ultimately founded on the death of Jesus, through which alone salvation can be newly given to men, from which alone the new structure of the salvation community of the redeemed receives its mysterious life. With his death, which completed the work of atonement and redemption, and his resurrection, which gloriously confirmed that work, the founding of the
" B. Rigaux, "Die 'Zwolf in Geschichte und Kerygma" in H. Ristow and K. Matthiae, Der historische Jesus und der kerygmatische Christus (Berlin 1960), 468-86; G. Klein, Die zwolf Apostel, Ursprung und Gehalt einer Idee (Gottingen 1961). 13 K.H. Rengstorf in ThW IV, 406-46; Eng. tr.: K.H. Rengstorf, Apostleship, Bible Key Words 6 (London 1962) ; H. v. Campenhausen, "Der urchristliche Apostelbegriff" in StTh 1 (1947), 96- 130; E. M. Kredel, "Der Apostelbegriff in der neueren Exegese" in ZKTh 78 (1956), 169-93, 257-305; K. H. Schelkle, Jungerschaft und Apostelamt (Freiburg i. Br. 1957); J. Dupont, "Le nom d'apotre a-t-il ete donne aux Douze par Jesus?" in OrSyr 1 (1956), 267-90, 466-80; W. Schmithals, Das kirchliche Apostelamt (Gottingen 1961); P. Blaser, "Zum Problem des urchristlichen Apostolats: Unio-Christianorum" in Festschrift L. Jaeger (Paderborn 1962), 92-107.
Church was complete, and her historical existence began with the descent of the Spirit.
Jesus had to go to his death because the majority of his people closed their ears to his message. The religious leaders of Jewry decisively rejected his Messianic claims and persecuted him as a sedition-monger with ever- increasing hatred, which finally led them to plan his violent death. The Roman procurator allowed himself, albeit unwillingly, to be won over and he delivered Jesus into their hands to be crucified. The crucifixion took place on the fourteenth or fifteenth day of Nisan in a year between 30 and 33 of the Christian era.
So the labours of Jesus among his own people come to a sudden end, which in the eyes of those who did not believe in his mission meant too the end of the kingdom which he announced. But after three days he rose again from the dead as he had foretold, and during a period of forty days appeared to his disciples on many occasions, until he was taken up into heaven. Belief in his second coming, which was promised to the disciples by two angels at the time of his ascension, was one of the main supports of the young Church's now growing structure.
CHAPTER 3 The Primitive Church at Jerusalem
The External Events and Early Environment
THE most important source for the fortunes of the primitive Church immediately after the ascension of our Lord is the account given in the first seven chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. This does not indeed give a complete picture of events, because the author chose for his subject only what served his purpose, which was to show that the tidings of the Kingdom, though first addressed to the Jews, were then, in accordance with God's will, to be delivered to the Gentiles, and that the Jewish Christian Paul, with the approval of the apostles and commissioned by them, had become the legitimate missionary to the Gentiles. Therefore only about the first fifteen years of the origin and growth of the community are described; of its later history mention is made only in occasional references to Jerusalem.
It was the fact, at first hardly comprehensible, of the resurrection of the Crucified One that brought together the scattered disciples and united them in a community sharing the same belief and profession of faith. When the story of the Acts begins, a group of 120 believers has re-assembled. Firm in their belief that their Lord who has ascended into heaven will
INT 1-K.1IV11 LLVT UHUKU1 AI JEKUSALFCM
return, they are determined to carry out the instructions he gave them during the forty days between his resurrection and his ascension. First of all under Peter's leadership they hold an election to complete the apostolic college, the number twelve being considered as sacrosanct; the candidate must, like the others, be a reliable witness to the life and work of the Lord. The result of the election is entrusted in prayer to God, who makes his will known when the lot falls upon Matthias.
The events of the first Pentecost, when the promised Holy Spirit, to the accompaniment of extraordinary phenomena — a mighty wind and tongues of fire — descended upon the assembled believers, gave them a great access of strength and courage to bear witness in public. The enthusiasm of that day caused Peter to preach a sermon before the people in which he proclaimed the crucified and risen Jesus as the true Messiah. The external growth of the community reflected its inward strengthening: as a result of Peter's preaching about three thousand Jews professed their faith in Jesus. The healing of a man born lame by Peter and John, and another sermon by the former, brought further successes. Soon the number of members of the community had risen to five thousand (Acts 3—4:4).
Such success disturbed the Jewish authorities, who sent for the apostles to examine them. Peter was their spokesman, and here too he boldly proclaimed the message of the Crucified. A threatening warning to the apostles to keep silent for the future was rejected in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:5-22). When fresh miracles and repeated preaching father increased the number of the faithful, all the apostles were again arrested, whereupon they dared to say before the Sanhedrin that God must be obeyed rather than men (Acts 5:29). A first scourging with rods, to which the leaders of the Church at Jerusalem were sentenced, and renewed prohibition to speak in the name of Jesus, were preliminaries to the first persecution.
As the tasks to be carried out in the community increased with the number of members, some organization became necessary; the apostles must remain free to preach, and therefore seven men were appointed to serve the tables, to care for the poor and to help the apostles in their pastoral activities (Acts 6: 1-6). These were ordained for their work with prayer and the laying on of hands. The Greek names of these men indicate that the number of Hellenistic Jews from the Diaspora was not inconsiderable in the community. It is clear that tension arose between them and the Palestinian Jewish Christians. Among the Hellenistic Christians Stephen was especially distinguished for his courage and skill in debate; but he suffered a martyr's death by stoning when he was bold enough to say to the Jews that through Christ's work the Old Testament had been superseded. The death of Stephen was the signal for a persecution, which fell most heavily upon the Hellenistic members of the Jerusalem community. While the apostles themselves remained in Jerusalem, many Christians evaded persecution by flight. However, they now took to preaching the Gospel in the countryside, especially in Judaea and Samaria. The Samaritan mission of the Hellenist Philip was particularly successful.
This spread of the faith outside the capital was the occasion for a journey of inspection by the apostles Peter and John to the newly won Christians in Samaria, upon whom they laid their hands that they might receive the Holy Spirit. The two apostles were also active as missionaries on this journey and preached in many places in Samaria. Later Peter paid another visit to the brethren outside Jerusalem — "the saints" as the Acts call them — and the presence of Jewish Christians in cities like Joppa and Lydda shows how strong the movement had become in the more remote parts of Palestine.
The peace that had followed the persecution was again threatened by Herod Agrippa, who caused the arrest of the leading apostles, Peter and James the Elder, and the execution of the latter (A.D. 42 or 43), in order to please the Jews of the capital (Acts 12:2). Perhaps Peter would have shared the same fate if he had not then finally left Jerusalem and betaken himself to "another place" (Acts 12:17). The leadership of the congregation then passed to James the Younger.
The sudden death of Herod in 44 again brought more peaceful times for the Church and made possible a more widespread preaching of the Word. For about twenty years James was able to work in Jerusalem, surrounded by his congregation and highly respected by the other apostles — Paul calls him, together with Peter and John one of the "pillars" of the primitive Church (Gal 2:9). His strictly ascetic life and his loyalty to Jewish traditions earned him the name of "the Just". He was, however, also concerned for the Jewish Christian congregations outside the capital, to whom he wrote a letter which has been accepted into the canon of the New Testament. His authority carried great weight at the so-called Council of the Apostles, where he played the part of mediator (Acts 15:13-21). He too met a martyr's death in 62, when the high priest Ananus was able to vent his hatred upon him, the post of Roman procurator being vacant owing to the death of Festus. They cast the old man from the pinnacle of the Temple, and, while he still lived, they stoned him and beat him to death. Following the example of his Lord he prayed for his enemies as he lay dying.
A few years later the independence of the Jerusalem congregation came to an end, when the rebellion against the Romans turned into a catastrophe for the whole nation. The Jewish Christians obviously did not wish to take part in this struggle and emigrated in 66-67 to the land east of the Jordan, where some of them settled in the city of Pella. The fortunes of the young Church took a new turn. Under Peter's leadership in Palestine there had already been individual conversions from paganism. Now Philip received the chamberlain of Queen Candace of Ethiopia into the Church by baptism, and Peter himself, by the reception of the pagan captain Cornelius, made it clear that the message of the Gospel was not for the Jews alone. Even while the original community was still in Jerusalem, a considerable number of former pagans had formed a Christian congregation in the Syrian capital of Antioch,21 the care of which was entrusted to the Cypriot levite Barnabas. Here the designation Xpwmxvoi was first applied to the followers of the new faith, although it is an open question as to whether this term was introduced by the local pagan authorities, was a popular slang word, or, which seems more likely, was an expression used by the Christians to distinguish themselves from official Judaism and from Jewish sects (see Acts 1:6-8 and Peter 4:16).22
The future of the young Church after the destruction of Jerusalem lay with the pagan nations of the eastern Mediterranean area, whose evangelization had already been successfully begun by the Jewish Christian Paul.
Organization, Belief, and Piety
"Scct of the Nazarenes", Y) TWV NaCmpaicov aipsaic, their Jewish opponents called the disciples of Jesus (Acts 24:5), who had formed themselves into a special community; "congregation, assembly", exxA-qaia, is the name that the Jewish Christians had for this community of theirs
P. Gachter in ZKTb 76 (1954), 139-46; V. Kerich: St Vladimir's Quarterly 6 (1962), 108-17; P. Gachter in ZKTh 85 (1963), 339-54; T. Fahy in IThQ 30 (1963), 232-61. 21 J. Kollwitz in RAC I, 461-9; H. Dieckmann, Antiochien ein Miltelpunkt christlicbcr Missionstcitigkeit (Aachen 1920).
2i E. Peterson, "Christianus" in MiscMercati, I (Rome 1946), 355-72; H. B. M.ittingly "The Origin of the Name Christiani" in JThS NS 9 (1958), 26-37; B. Lifschitz, "L'origine du nom des chretiens" in VigCbr 16 (1962), 65-70.
(Acts 5:11; 8:1 etc.) They were therefore not merely a group of Jews, who shared the conviction that Jesus was the true Messiah, but who otherwise led their own individual religious lives; rather did that conviction bring them together and cause them to organize themselves as a religious community.
This community was, from the beginning (as a glance at the Acts of the Apostles clearly shows), an hierarchically ordered society, in which not all were of equal rank. There were in it persons and groups of persons to whom special tasks and functions in the life of the community were assigned by higher authority. The first of such groups was the college of the apostles, disinguished in a unique way from all other members of the community; by them were carried out the special tasks which Jesus had given to the chosen Twelve before his ascension and for which he had trained them. The community felt the number twelve to be sacred, so that after the departure of Judas the complement had to be made up by an election at which Matthias was chosen. This election had, however, a purely religious character; it was begun with prayer, and God himself made the decision by means of lots, so that it became unequivocally clear that a man could be called to the office of an apostle only by the supreme authority of God. The principal task of an apostle was to bear witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Linked with this was the duty of leading the community in the solemnities of the cult, when it met together united in faith: to administer the baptism by which a man became a member of the community, to preside at the religious meal which symbolically expressed the sense of belonging together, to undertake the laying on of hands by which members were consecrated for special tasks — in a word, to be mediators between Christ and his Church through the exercise of priestly functions. Christ himself gave the apostles power to work signs and wonders in his name (Acts 2:42; 5:12). Bound up with that power was the right to rule with authority in the community, to ensure discipline and order and to found new congregations of believers (Acts 8:14f.; 15:2). Nevertheless, the apostle was not so much lord as rather servant and shepherd in the Church, which was firmly based upon the apostolic office (Mt 16:18; 24: 45; Acts 20:28).
Among those holding the office of apostle, Peter displayed an activity which shows that he, in this turn, occupied a leading place among the Twelve, which could have been given him only by a higher authority. The
THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM
account of the fortunes of the primitive Church clearly shows this special position: Peter conducts the election to the college of apostles, he composes the prayer recited on that occasion and he is the spokesman of the disciples at the first Pentecost (Acts 2:15 ff.). He preaches after the healing of the man born lame (Acts 3:1). He is again the spokesman of the apostles before the Scribes and Elders (Acts 4:8). as well as before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:20). He appears with judicial authority in the episodes of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:3) and with Simon Magus (Acts 8:19). His visits to the "saints" outside Jerusalem have the character of a visitation (Acts 9:32). His decision to admit the pagan Cornelius to baptism was of great significance for the future, because it authoritatively proclaimed that the Gospel was not addressed exclusively to "those of the circumcision" but also to the Gentiles and thus had a universal character. This step did indeed lead to a dispute with some of the Jewish Christians, but by that very fact it shows Peter to have been the responsible leader of the primitive Church.
The picture which the author of the Acts draws of Peter's position is significantly confirmed by Paul. The latter, after his flight from Damascus, went to Jerusalem "to visit Cephas" (Gal 1:18); obviously Paul's recognition by the community depended on him. Even though James, as local leader of the Jerusalem congregation, presided at the Council of the Apostles, Paul clearly gives us to understand that Peter's attitude was the deciding factor in the dispute as to whether the Gentile Christians were subject to the Mosaic Law or not. It cannot be objected that Peter on another occasion appears not to act with authority towards James; this was rather due to his hesitant character than to his official position. The whole of his work in the primitive Church up to the time when he finally left Jerusalem to engage actively in the mission to the Gentiles can be rightly understood only if one regards it as the fulfilment of the task given to him by his Master, of which not only Matthew but also Luke and John tell us when they write that Peter was called by the Lord to strengthen the brethren and to feed Christ's flock.25
There was another office in the primitive Church of which we learn from Acts 6:1-7. It was that of the above-mentioned seven men who were to assist the apostles in their labours and to take over the service of the tables among the poor of the community. The appointment of these seven did not take the form of an election, but it was done with prayer and laying on of hands by the apostles. In the Acts the work of the seven is repeatedly mentioned, and the accounts make it clear that it went far beyond purely charitable activities. One of them, Stephen, played a leading role in the theological dispute with the Jews about the mission of Christ and the
15 E. Stauffer, "Petrus und Jakobus in Jerusalem" in Festschrift O. Karrer (Frankfurt a. M., 2nd ed. 1960), 361-72.
validity of the old Law (Acts 6:8 if.), and Philip was an active missionary; he preached among the Samaritans and in many other places (Acts 21:8). No special name is given to this group in the Acts of the Apostles, but their work is described by the verb "to serve" Staxovetv (Acts 6:2). Whether they can be regarded as precursors of the deacons in the Pauline congregations is difficult to decide, for the work of the latter is not easily discernible. The duties of the seven were determined by the needs of the Church.26
The sphere of activity of a third group, whom the Acts call "Elders", TtpsCTpu-rspot, is not so clearly defined as that of the seven (Acts 11:30). The name was not newly coined by the Christians, for there had long been Elders, heads of Jewish patrician families, in the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem, and Elders of the synagogues in the Jewish communities of Palestine. In the primitive Church of Jerusalem these "Elders" are always to be found in the company of the apostles or of James as leader of the congregation; they take part in the decisions of the apostolic Council (Acts 15:2ff.). They were therefore assistants to the apostles or to the pastor of Jerusalem in the administration of the community.27
Only once in connexion with the Jerusalem community are "prophets" mentioned (Acts 15:32); these were Judas Barsabas and Silas, who were chosen and sent to Antioch that they might inform the Christians there of the decisions of the Council. Their task was not therefore one that belonged to a permanent office; they were selected because of their special gifts to carry out such a commission and to encourage and strengthen the brethren in Antioch.
The existence of such office-holders, the apostles, the Elders and the seven, shows clearly that there was already in the primitive Church a division among the members into groups, consecrated by a religious ceremony for special tasks, apart from the main body of the faithful. Even at that time, therefore, there existed clergy and laity, the division between whom, however, was not felt to be a separating gulf, because the Jews in the community were already familiar with an official priesthood which was highly respected, especially by the pious Jews who eagerly awaited the Messiah.
The new and revolutionary event that brought about the formation of the followers of Jesus into a community, the resurrection of the Lord, had been experienced as a fact by all those who had witnessed one of the appearances of the risen Christ. But it was also one of the fundamental
™ T. Klauser in RAC III, 88S-909; P. Gachter, Petrus und seine Zeit (Innsbruck 1958), 105-54; H. Zimmermann, "Die Wahl der Sieben" in Festschrijt jiir Kurd. ]. Frings (Cologne I960), 364-78.
" W. Michaelis, Das Altestenamt der christlichen Gemeinde im Licbte der HI. Scbrift (Berne 1958), and P. Gachter in ZKTh 76 (1954), 226-31; H. v. Campenhausen, Kirch- liches Ami und geistliche Vollmacht in den erst en drei ] uhrh under ten (Tubingen 1953).
elements of the religious faith by which the primitive Church lived, and it was the pivot upon which the apostolic message hinged. It had therefore to be accepted by all who wished to follow the Gospel. Both as an historical event and as part of the faith the fact of the resurrection was confirmed by the descent of the Spirit at the first Pentecost (Acts 2:1 ff.), which gave its final clarity and direction to the apostolic message. From then on the apostles, in their preaching, emphasized the new element which separated them in their belief from their Jewish brethren. This was primarily the conviction that the Risen One whom they proclaimed was none other than the earthly Jesus of Nazareth, and from this identification all that Jesus taught by word and deed before his death derived its validity and its claim to be preached by them. Therefore they bore witness that it was Almighty God who had raised Jesus from the dead, as he had wrought miracles through him during his life on earth.
Equally radical and new when compared with the beliefs till then held by the Jews was the conviction of the Christians that Jesus was the true and promised Messiah. That their Master was the Messiah could not be proved more clearly and compellingly to the apostles than by his resurrection. The belief that in Jesus they possessed the Messiah expressed itself in the various titles which the preaching of the apostles and the piety of the faithful bestowed on him. More and more he came to be called "the Christ", a designation that was used as a kind of surname to Jesus. The apostles preached "the Gospel of Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42); it was "Jesus Christ" who healed through the apostles (Acts 9:34). Because Jesus was the Messiah he was called the Kyrios, which he had been called by God himself (Acts 2:36); he belonged therefore at the right hand of God, and the title of Kyrios could be given to him as properly as to God (Acts 1:21; 7:59; 9:1, lOff., 42; 11:17). So the Church addressed the Kyrios in prayer with all confidence; from its midst came the cry "Marana-tha" Come, O Lord!" (1 Cor 16:22), a prayer preserved for us by Paul. To Stephen it was so natural to pray to "the Lord Jesus" that even in the hour of death the words came spontaneously to his lips (Acts 7:59). Other titles likewise place the risen Jesus close to God; in Acts 10:42 he is the judge of the living and the dead who now reigns in heaven but will come again at the end of the world (Acts 1:11; 3:20 if.). He is furthermore "the Holy and Righteous One" (Acts 3:14), the ap/Ti^C of life, who brings life and is the origin of life. The designation "Servant of God", familiar from its use in the Old Testament, was used by the early Christians in a connexion which suggests an increase and elevation of the dignity of the Messiah, for this Servant was, according to Peter (Acts 3:13), glorified by God and sent by him with the authority of a Messiah in order to bring redemption. He was "thy holy servant Jesus" against whom his enemies had banded together (Acts 4:27); the community hoped that miracles performed "in the name of thy holy Servant" would give, as it were, letters of credence to the ambassadors of the Gospel in their mission (Acts 4:30).
Finally, the risen Jesus was the Saviour, EWTYJP, called by God to bring salvation to men (Acts 5:31); the Christians believed that without him men could not attain salvation, and so their faith in him included all that had been given to mankind by redemption through Jesus Christ. The tidings of salvation were, following the example set by Jesus, called by the apostles in their preaching evangelium ("good news," "Gospel") (Acts 15:7; 20:24); the preaching of salvation is usually referred to with the verb e'jaYYEXi^eaOea. The content of their message is either simply "Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42; 8:35; 11:20) or "the Word of the Lord" (15:35), "peace by Jesus Christ" (10:36), "the promise" (13:32) or "the Kingdom of God in the name of Jesus Christ" (8:12).
The belief of the first Christians in salvation through Jesus Christ was expressed in the most exclusive terms: "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Circumcision could not save, but only the grace of the Lord (15:1 11). The Gospel showed the way to this salvation, but a man could accept it or reject it; therefore Peter adjures his audience: "Save yourselves!" (2:40). The first step to salvation through Jesus was the forgiveness of sins which he had brought (2:38; 5:31; 10:43; 13:38); he was sent to turn men away from sin (3:26). Penance and inner conversion were of course necessary for the removal of sins (3:19).
The reception of the Holy Spirit was for the primitive Church proof and confirmation that salvation had already begun for its members. After the first Pentecost the descent of the Spirit was continually repeated whenever new brethren professed faith in the living Christ, as in Samaria (Acts 8:1 if.), at the baptism of Cornelius (10:44 ff.), and even when the community gathered together for prayer (4:31). It was the Holy Spirit who according to their conviction gave that inner, supernatural strength which was effective in the individual believer (2:33), and was also the cause of the missionary zeal of the apostles and the other early messengers of the Gospel. They were "filled with the Holy Spirit", therefore they stepped forth boldly (4:8;
4:31). Stephen especially possessed this gift and so did Philip (6:5; 8:29), and it showed itself too in Barnabas and Paul (11:24; 16:6if.). A man like Simon Magus misunderstood its essential nature (8:20); unbelief resisted it (7:51).
Other gifts which redemption by Jesus Christ brought to the faithful were (eternal) life and membership of the kingdom of God. The apostles, in their preaching, spoke of this life (Acts 5:20), which would be shared by pagans who professed belief in the risen Christ, whereas the Jews by their rejection of the Messiah rendered themselves unworthy of eternal life (13:46 48). The kingdom of God is a theme which constantly recurs in the preaching of the apostles, just as after the resurrection it was the subject of Jesus' conversation with them. The kingdom of God and eternal life, the community knew, were not yet fully realized; their realization would come only when the Lord came again, and therefore the first Christians were filled with an ardent hope in the approaching parousia of their master. This would bring about "the restitution of all things"; only with it would come "the times of refreshment" (3:20ff.). But they believed that the final age had already begun, they already possessed "peace by Jesus Christ" (10:36), they already partook of grace (4:33; 6:8; 15:11) and therefore lived "rejoicing" (5:41; 8:8; 13:48) in "gladness and simplicity of heart" (2:46).
The religious life of the community was based upon these convictions. Its members indeed lived wholly in the presence of the risen Lord, but they did not therefore feel that they had to give up their inherited forms of piety. So the first Christians, including their leaders Peter and John, continued to attend prayers in the Temple (Acts 2:46; 3:1). The Jewish hours of prayer were retained, as well as the gestures of worship and the customary forms of words, which were used in their common prayer together, especially the Psalms (3:1; 9:10; 9:40). Like James the Younger, the Jewish Christians of Palestine felt themselves bound to follow the religious and liturgical usages of their fathers. To the converts of the Diaspora these things obviously meant less, as Stephen's attitude makes clear. The discussions at the apostolic Council show that a universally held opinion as to the binding character of the Old Law did not exist in the primitive Church. The demands of the group that affirmed its obligatory force upon all believers were rejected; but in the so-called clauses of James a certain consideration was accorded to this group, to facilitate harmony in mixed congregations. It is noteworthy, however, that, in the preaching of the apostles, obedience to the Law as a condition of salvation is not stressed. Nevertheless, there was not in the primitive Church of Jerusalem any complete breaking away from the liturgical practices of Palestinian Jewry as a whole.
We can, however, observe certain tendencies that were later to lead to independent forms of piety and ritual. Such a new liturgical act was baptism itself, which was the basis of membership in the community. It was by no means merely a matter of taking over the baptism of John, for the baptism of the Christians was unequivocally carried out "in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins" (Acts 2:38). Jesus as a person was thus the centre of this liturgical act; from him it got its supernatural efficacy, namely the forgiveness of sins and entry into the community of the faithful. The reception of the Holy Spirit was also in some way bound up with baptism, although the connexion of ideas is not quite clear. Baptism was often followed by a laying on of hands, which was the means of imparting the Spirit; this rite could also take place at a later time, but baptism was felt to be a prerequisite for the reception of the Holy Spirit.
The author of the Acts of the Apostles says in his description of the life of the Jerusalem Christians that they were persevering in "the breaking of bread" (Acts 2:42). Although absolute certainty is hardly possible, many commentators think this refers to the liturgical celebration in memory of the Last Supper of the Lord, and they see in the expression "breaking of bread" a designation that had already become a technical term for the eucharistic celebration, which could take place only in the houses of the faithful. This view is supported by a passage from Paul which is certainly impressive. In his description of the Lord's Supper he says that he is drawing on the tradition of the Jerusalem community. His reference to "the bread that we break" (1 Cor 10:16) is in a clearly eucharistic sense. Thus, such a semantic development of the expression "breaking of bread" is at least probable. The Acts later relate (20:7) how the Christians met "on the first day of the week" to break bread. The special mention of the day on which this celebration was held clearly indicates that the Lord's Supper is here referred to; a day was chosen which had no special significance in the worship of the Jews. In this case too, we note a liturgical development among the first Christians which marks a new departure; Sunday was the day on which the young community assembled for its own form of worship. Why Sunday was chosen it is not difficult to see, for it was the day of the Lord's resurrection, and with this fact was linked the expectation that he would come again on the same day of the week. In view of the growing tension between the early Church and the Jews, Sunday, as the special festival of the Christians, continually rose in importance as opposed to the Sabbath.
Some new Christian religious practices are also indicated by the choice
THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM
of new fast days, different from the Jewish ones held on Monday and Thursday. That the Christians preferred Friday is easily understood; it was the day on which the Lord died. The choice of Wednesday as the second fast day of the week follows the same line of thought; for it was on a Wednesday that he was taken prisoner and his Passion began. Already therefore the development of a liturgical week based upon Christian ways of thinking is apparent, emphasizing the growing contrast with Jewish practice.
The letter of James speaks of another Christian practice, the anointing of the sick, which was entrusted to the elders: "Is any one among you sick? Let him call for the elders (presbyters) of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (James 5:14ff.). Even if the letter was addressed to the Jewish Christians of the Diaspora, James would hardly have recommended to them a religious custom unknown to his own congregation.
The whole religious attitude of the primitive Church was rooted in a courageous enthusiasm, prepared for sacrifice, which manifested itself above all in works of active charity: "Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common" (Acts 4:32). The brotherly love engendered by the enthusiasm of the new faith made the individual believer easily and gladly renounce his private property in order to help the poor of the community. The voluntary principle makes it impossible to regard this early Christian community of goods as in any way equivalent to modern Communism. Such enthusiasm was no doubt largely nourished by the expectation among the Christians of the parousia38 to which reference has already been made. The generous indifference to the goods of this world which it brought made them inwardly free, unselfish, and therefore capable of great deeds. This moral and religious strength, born of the faith and the eschatolbgical outlook of the primitive Church, also gave its members the strength not to give up when the parousia failed to arrive, but instead, to open the way for Christianity into a greater future.
53 J. Gewiess, op. cit. 31-38; O. Cullmann, "Parusie und Urchristentum" in ThLZ 83 (1958), 1-12; E. Kasemann, "Zum Thema der urchristlichen Apokalyptik" in ZThK 59 (1962), 257-84; R. Schnackenburg, Eschalologische Heilsgemeinde — Mysterium der Kirche I (Salzburg 1962), 138-42.