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portions of Gospels? have been adduced to prove that it
We certainly shall not be wrong in supposing that Mary was a devout, gentle, affectionate mother, and that in the disposition and the outward ways of Jesus some of his mother's characteristics reappeared. But, on the other hand, an impartial consideration of the facts compels us to admit that Mary, on the only occasion on which she appears in real history, shows herself an affectionately solicitous, but also a narrow-minded, woman ; ? and that, on the two occasions on which Jesus indirectly refers to her,' a kind of sadness, a tone of disappointment, is perceptible in his language, which may easily be explained by her never having been able to understand or appreciate him, or to sympathize with his aims. It is possible, even, that the visit to the temple rests upon some faint reminiscence that Jesus was not understood by his mother; that even in early times a strong desire hall more than once come over him to escape from his ordinary employments and existence and enter the higher regions of the spiritual life, but that this disposition had given his mother so much pain and anxiety that in obedience to her he reconciled himself to the ordinary course of life again. However this may be, Jesus was so far superior to those about him that we can hardly blame his mother and brothers for not honoring him as he deserved, and for not having faith in him during his life.5
Jesus probably never went to school. At any rate, he certainly did not attend any institution for teaching the theological lore of the Scribes ; 6 and, indeed, if we can trust the confused accounts of the Talmud, public teaching was not properly organized until a few years before the fall of Jerusalem ; so that in all probability there was not a school at Nazareth when Jesus was a boy, and he must have learned reading from his father or mother. But in ancient times, especially in the East, such a circumstance did not necessarily imply a detective education or any want of breeding and culture. These things were far more common to the different classes of society than they are with us, and were not in any case carried to a very high pitch of refinement. Indeed, it
1 Luke i. 28, 30, 38, 42, 45, 46-55, ii. 19, 51.
2 Mark iii. 21. 8 Luke xi. 27, 28; Matthew xii. 47-50 (Mark iii. 31-35; Luke viii. 19-21). 4 Luke ji. 43, 48, 49, 50, 51. 5 Matthew xiii. 57 (Mark vi. 4; Luke iv. 24: John iv. 41). 6 Matthew xiii. 54 (Mark vi. 2). Compare John vii. 15.
was rather an advantage to Jesus than otherwise that he had not been to the university at Jerusalem ; for the hair-splitting discussions which were all the rage there would only have burdened his memory and perverted his reasoning faculties, whereas, as it was, he retained the originality of his genius. We must never forget that among the Jews very pecial attention was paid to the education of children. The duty devolved upon the parents, more especially upon the father, who was bound to take every possible opportunity afforded by daily lifeof impressing upon his children's minds the contents of the Scriptures, especially of the Law, and thus instructing them at once in their religious duties and in the history of their country. This duty is pressed upon the parents with the greatest emphasis; and the children in their turu are commanded to honor their father and mother in the commandment which takes the highest place after those enjoining the duties towards God.? Nowhere else in antiquity was the bond between parent and child so close, the relation in which they stood to each other so well regulated, or domestic life so fuil of affection and of the spirit of religion as in Israel. “ Our glory and the purpose of our lives,” says Josephus, “is the elucation of our children and the observance of the Law.”
The parents were assisted in their weighty task by the synagogue, an institution which, since the days of Ezra, bad contributed more than any thing else to make the Jewish religion the inalienable possession of the people. The historian quoted above declares that reverence for and obedience to the divine commandments were impressed upon the Jews from earliest childhood as the principal object of life ; so that all of them, so to speak, knew the laws earlier and better than their own names. They are so imprinted on our souls that we are ready to die for thein.” From the time when he was five years old, most likely, Jesus regularly went to the synagogue at Nazareth week by week,' and there he always heard a portion of the Law, followed by a portion of the prophets, read and explained. Here, too, he came directly into contact with the religious ideas and expectations of his people, and the religious life of the time filled his bosom. Here he met the Pharisees, the devout leaders of Israel, and under their influence he was penetrated by the thought that
| Deuteronomy vi. 7, 20-25, xi. 19; Genesis xviii. 19; Exodus xii. 26 fa Kii. 8, 14 f.; Joshua iv. 6 f. * Compare Exodus xxi. 15, 17.
8 Luke iv. 16. Luke iv. 16, 17; Acts xiii 15, xv. 21.
the Lord demanded righteousness as the condition of his favor, and by the passionate longing for Israel's redemption by the coming of the Messianic kingdom. Here, too, the most beautiful utterances of the great teachers at Jerusalem came to his knowledge.
What good use the eager boy, with his powerful memory and clear judgment, must have made of this religious teaching appears not only from his intimate acquaintance with the Pharisees, but from the profound and accurate knowledge of the Scriptures which he afterwards showed.
For when we remember the great price of a copy of the Scripture we can hardly suppose that the carpenter had one of his own. It is possible, however, that he may have possessed a single book; and when we observe that Jesus borrows most of bis quotations from the oracles of Isaiah, the conjecture forces itself upon us that he had had the roll in his own hands more than once. Certainly the prophets bad a far greater charm for him than the Law. In general, however, he must have gained his knowledge of the Scripture in the synagogue.
It must have cost Jesus many an effort in after life to raise himself above all the religious prejudices which had been instilled into him from his very infancy. But we must not forget that in this respect again his education in Galilee brought great advantages with it. Galilee enjoyed greater religious freedom than Judæa, from which it was separated by the territory of the hostile and detested Samaritans. tion from the focus of Jewish orthodoxy, — from Jerusalem with its temple, its priesthood, and its rabbinical schools, necessarily prevented the scholastic love of hair-splitting, with the extreme narrowness and formality which accompanied it, from ever thoroughly taking root in Galilee among the people, or even among the Scribes, - who were tolerably numerous here also. Galilee was peculiar in several respects. It was so near Phænicia, Syria, and Arabia that it was impossible to avoid intercourse with the heathen; and indeed some of the Galilæan towns themselves, such as Tiberias, Kadesh, and Seythopolis, - had a heathen population. These things could not fail insensibly to widen the horizon of the inhabitants. For these and other reasons the Galilæans were held in small esteem at Jerusalem. They were said to be
1 E.g. Matthew xi. 5; from Isaiah xxix. 18, xxxv. 3, Ixi. 1; Matthew xiii. 14 f.; from Isaiah vi. 9, 10; Matthew xv. 8 f., from Isaiah xxix. 13; Matthew xxi. 13 ; from Isaiah lvi. 7; Matthew xxi. 33; from Isaiah v. 1, &c.
leficient in knowledge of the Law. It was said contemptuously, “ There are no priests among the Galilæans,” and ** They do not learn the Law from one teacher.” Their provincial pronunciation was ridiculed. From time to time, indeed, Scribes from Jerusalem would visit Galilee ; 1 but their stay was limited, and it is very doubtful whether at this period they ever went to Nazareth.
This is all we know of the early life of Jesus. In the foreground we must place his own singular exaltation of character, the great gifts of heart and head which God had entrusted to him. Then we must take into account the circumstances, in many respects decidedly favorable, which contributed to the development of his character. It appears from the tranquil conscience and the exalted self-reliance of the man Jesus that this development took place without any great shocks to contaminate bis moral life, without stagnation and without disturbance. Though he had never put himself forward, though his appearance as a prophet caused general amazeinent among his townsmen, yet he had quietly matured himself for the task which God would assign to him. Ever increasing in love of God and of his neighbor, fervently longing for the coming of God's kingdom, he steadily “ grew in wisdom and in favor with God and man.”
Would that the same could be said of the early life and development of all of us! Which of us, with the example of Jesus before him, must not reproach himself with time wasted or worse than wasted, with want of respect and obedience, with unclean imaginations or evil practices, with weakness of will, want of love, and a hundred things beside!
John, so far as we know, was the only master, in the proper sense, that Jesus ever had. This man exercised a decisive intluence upon the formation of his ideas and projects, and upon his whole subsequent history; but of him, and of the movement to hasten the coming of the Messianic age associated with his name, we must speak in a separate chapter.
1 Matthew xv. 1 (Mark iïj. 22, vii. 1).
Matthew xiii. 54-57 (Mark vi. 2, 3).
JOHN THE BAPTIST.
LUKE III. 1-18.1
introduction to the Gospel history. We are now approaching the history itself, and are therefore immediately transported to a considerably later period, and at the same time placed on somewhat firmer ground. The years orer which the work of John and Jesus extended, and the precise period at which the former began his public life, cannot be fixed with certainty. Luke speaks of the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, which would fall in the years twentyeight and twenty-nine of our era; but this Evangelist is very inaccurate in his dates, and his knowledge of history in general leaves much to be desired. In this very year, for instance, he mentions a certain Lysanias as governor of Abilene (a principality northeast of Palestine, not far from Damascus), whereas this man had really been murdered more than half a century before. Again, he mentions both Annas and Caiaphas as high priests at the time. Caiaphas did really hold the office from A.D. 18 to A.D. 36, but Annas had been deposed in A.D. 14. We can therefore place but small reliance on the statement of Luke; but other considerations prevent our departing from it very far. We may take it as certain that John did not come forward before A.D. 28, and A.D. 33 is the extreme limit on the other side. On the whole, this latter date may be taken as the most probable.
These were sad times for Israel, times of deep humiliation and ever-growing discontent. The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, was wholly unfitted for his post. A Jewish writer of the period, the Alexandrian philosopher Philo, speaks of Pilate as obstinate and inexorable in character, mentions his reckless arrogance and his furious temper, and sums up the crimes of his government as follows: venality, violence, robbery, outrage, bullying, constant executions without legal trial, unbounded and unendurable cruelty. Now the Jews could bear much if their religious peculiarities were respected; but Pilate, who did not in the least under1 Matthew iii. 1-12; Mark i. 1-8.
2 See pp. 55, 56.