The Spirit of Christianity and its Fate. Hegel 1798

[§ v. The Fate of Jesus and His Church]

With the courage and faith of a divinely inspired man, called a dreamer by clever people, Jesus appeared among the Jews. He appeared possessed of a new spirit entirely his own. He visualized the world as it was to be, and the first attitude he adopted toward it was to call on it to become different; he began therefore with the universal message: “Be ye changed, for the Kingdom of God is nigh.” Had the spark of life lain dormant in the Jews, he would only have needed a breath to kindle it into flame and burn up all their petty titles and claims. If, in their unrest and discontent with things as they were, they had been conscious of the need for a purer world, then the call of Jesus would have found belief, and this belief would have immediately brought into existence the thing believed in. Simultaneously with their belief the Kingdom of God would have been present. Jesus would simply have expressed to them in words what lay undeveloped and unknown in their hearts. With the finding of the word and with the entry of their need into their consciousness, their bonds would have fallen off; of their ancient fate they would have aroused nothing save convulsions from their past life, and their new world would have been established there and then. But though the Jews did want something different form what they had had hitherto, they were too self-satisfied in the pride of their servitude to find what they sought in what Jesus offered.

Their reaction, the answer which their genius gave to the call of Jesus, was a very impure sort of attention.[1] A small group of pure souls attached themselves to him with the urge to be trained by him. With great good nature, with the faith of a pure-hearted dreamer, he interpreted their desire as a satisfied heart, their urge as a completion, their renunciation of some of their previous relationships, mostly trivial, as freedom and a healed or conquered fate. Then soon after his acquaintance with them he thought them capable of providing, and his people ripe for receiving, a more widely disseminated preaching of the Kingdom of God. He sent his disciples two by two about the country in order to let his call resound from many lips; but the Holy Spirit did not speak in their preaching. (Even after a much long association with him they show themselves ever so often possessed of a small, or at least an unpurified, soul, only a few of whose branches had been penetrated by the divine.) Their whole instructions, except for the negations which they contained, were to preach the nearness of the Kingdom of God. Soon they reassemble with Jesus again, and we cannot descry any fruits of Jesus’ hopes and their apostleship. The indifference with which his call was received soon turned into hatred. The effect of this hatred on him was an ever increasing bitterness against his age and his people, especially against those in whom the spirit of this nation lived at its strongest and most passionate, against the Pharisees and the leaders of the people. In his attitude to them there are no attempts to reconcile them to him, to get at their spirit; there are only the most violent outbreaks of bitterness against them, the laying bare of their spirit and its hostility to him. Never once does he treat them with faith in the possibility of their conversion. Their entire character was opposed to him, and hence, when he had occasion to speak to them on religious matters, he could not start on refutation or correction; he only reduces them to silence by argumenta ad hominem. The truth opposed to their way of thinking he addresses to the other people present.

After the return of his disciples (so it appears from Matthew xi), he renounces his people and has the feeling (verse 25 [: “Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes"]) that God reveals himself only to the simpleminded. From now onward he restricts himself to working on individuals and allows the fate of his nation to stand unassailed, for he cuts himself off from it and plucks his friends from its grasp. So long as Jesus sees the world unchanged, so long does he flee from it and from all connection with it. However much he collides with the entire fate of his people, still his relation to it is wholly passive, even when that attitude seems to him to be contradictory. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, he says, when the Jews brought under discussion one aspect of their fate, namely, their liability to Roman taxation. Though it seemed to him a contradiction that he and his friends should have to pay the same tribute as was imposed on the Jews, he told Peter to make no resistance, but to pay it. His sole relationship with the state was to remain under its jurisdiction; to the consequences of subjection to this power he submitted passively, deliberately accepting the contradiction of his spirit.

The Kingdom of God Is not of this world, only it makes great difference for that Kingdom whether this world is actually present in opposition to it, or whether its opposition does not exist but is only a possibility. The former was in fact the case, and it was with full knowledge of this that Jesus suffered at the hands of the state. Hence with this [passive] relation to the state one great element in a living union is cut away; for the members of the Kingdom of God one important bond of association is snapped; they have lost one part of freedom, that negative characteristic which an association of beauty possesses; they have lost a number of active relationships and living ties. The citizens of the Kingdom of God become set over against a hostile state, become private persons excluding themselves from it.[2] Moreover, to those who have never been active in such a living [political] union, who have never enjoyed this association and this freedom, especially to those for whom citizenship is the main concerns property only, this restriction of life appears not as a theft of life but rather as the power of an alien might dominant over external things which themselves can be freely renounced. Whatever is lost in losing a number of relationships, a multiplicity of happy and beautiful associations, is offset by a gain in isolated individuality and the narrow-souled consciousness of personal peculiarities. It is true that from the idea of the Kingdom of God all the relationships established in a political order are excluded; these rank infinitely lower than the living bonds within the divine group, and by such a group they can only be despised. But since the state was there and neither Jesus nor his following could annul it, the fate of Jesus and his following (which remained true to him in this matter) remains a loss of freedom, a restriction of life, passivity under the domination of an alien might which was despised but which ceded to Jesus without conditions the little that he wanted from it – existence among his people.

Except for this aspect of life [i.e., mere physical existence] (which may be called not “life” but rather the mere possibility of life), the Jewish spirit had not only made itself master of all modifications of life[3] but also had made itself into a law, as a state, in them, and had deformed the purest and most immediate natural relationships into clear-cut legalities. In the Kingdom of God there can be no relation save that which proceeds from the most disinterested love and so from the highest freedom, save that which acquires from beauty alone its mode of appearance and its link with the world. Because of the impurity of [Jewish] life, Jesus could only carry the Kingdom of God in his heart; he could enter into relationship with men only to train them, and thereby to create men whose world would be his world. But in his everyday world he had to flee all living relationships because they all lay under the law of death, because men were imprisoned under the power of Judaism. Had he entered a tie which was free on both sides, he would have been associated with the web of Jewish legalities; and in order to avoid profaning or destroying any relationship he had entered, he would have had to let himself be entangled in the threads of that web. The result was that he could find freedom only in the void. Every modification of life was in bonds, and therefore Jesus isolated himself from his mother, his brothers, and his kinsfolk. He might love no wife, beget no children; he might not become either a father of a family or a fellow-citizen to enjoy a common life with his fellows. The fate of Jesus was that he had to suffer from the fate of his people; either he had to make that fate his own, to bear its necessity and share its joy, to unite his spirit with the people’s, but to sacrifice his own beauty, his connection with the divine, or else he had to repel his nation’s fate from himself, but submit to a life undeveloped and without pleasure in itself. In neither even would his nature be fulfilled; in the former case he would sense only fragments of it, and even these would be sullied; in the latter, he would bring it fully into his consciousness, though he would know it shape only as a splendid shadow whose essence is the highest truth; the sensing of that essence he would have to forgo and the truth would not come alive in act and in reality.

Jesus chose the latter fate, the severance of his nature from the world, and he required the same from his friends: “Whoso loveth father or mother, son or daughter, more than me is not worthy of me.” But the more deeply he felt this severance, the less could he bear it calmly, and his actions issued from his nature’s spirited reaction against the world; his fight was pure and sublime because he knew the fate in its entire range and had set himself against it. When he and the community he founded set themselves in opposition to the corruption of their environment, the inevitable result was to give a consciousness of corruption both to this corruption itself and also to the spirit still relatively free from it, and then to set this corruption’s fate at variance with itself. The struggle of the pure against the impure is a sublime sight, but it soon changes into a horrible one when holiness itself is imparied by unholiness, and when an amalgamation of the two, with the pretension of being pure, rages against fate, because in these circumstances holiness itself is caught in the fate and subject to it.

Jesus foresaw the full horror of this destruction: “I came not,” he said, “to bring peace on earth, but a sword; I came to set the son against his father, the daughter against her mother, the bridge against her husband’s kin.” What has in freed itself from fate but in part remains linked therewith, whether there be consciousness or not of this confusion, must destroy both itself and nature all the more frightfully; and when nature and unnature are confused, the attack on the latter must also affect the former; the wheat is trodden underfoot with the tares, and the holiest part of nature itself is injured because it is interwoven with the unholy. With the consequences before his eyes, Jesus did not think of checking his activity in order to spare the world its fate, lessen its convulsions, and leave to it in its downfall the consoling faith in its guiltlessness.

Thus the earthly life of Jesus was separation from the world and flight from it into heaven; restoration, in the ideal world, of the life which was becoming dissipated into the void; at every opposition, the recollection of God and aspiration toward God; yet at times practical proof of the divine and therefore a fight against fate, partly in the course of spreading the Kingdom of God, with the revelation of which the entire kingdom of the world collapsed and vanished, partly in the course of immediate reaction against single elements in the fate as he came up against them, though not against that element which appeared directly as the state and came to consciousness even in Jesus and to which his relation was passive.

The fate of Jesus was not entirely shared by his community. The latter was put together from a number of men who did live in a similar separation from the world, but each member found more companions with a character like his own; they kept together as a group and thus were able to carry on their group life farther apart from the world. They thus had less contact with the world, less collision with it, and therefore they were less roused by it; they lived less in the negative activity of fighting, and the need for a positive life must have been stronger in them since community in a negation give no pleasure, affords no beauty. Abolition of property, introduction of community of goods, common meals, these belong to the negative side of union instead of constituting a positive union. The essence of their group was (a) separation from men and (b) love for one another; (a) and (b) are necessarily bound together. Love in this context could not and was not supposed to be a union of individualities; it was a union in God and in God only. Faith can only unify a group if the group sets an actual world over against itself and sunders itself from it. Hence the opposition [to the rest of the world] became fixed and an essential part of the principle of the group, while the group’s love must always have retained the form of love, of faith in God, without becoming alive, without exhibiting itself in specific forms of life, because every form of life can be objectified by the intellect and then apprehended as its object, as a cut-and-dried fact. The group’s relation to the world was bound to become a dread of contacts with it, a fear of every form of life, because every form exhibits its deficiency (as a form it is only one aspect of the whole and its very formation implies fixed limits)< and what it lacks is a part of the world. Thus the community group found no reconciliation of fate but only attained the extreme opposite of the Jewish spirit, not the middle course of beauty between the extremes. The Jewish spirit had crystallized the modifications of nature, the relationships of life, into mundane realities, but not only was it not ashamed of the inadequacy of these things (for were they not the gifts of the Lord?) but its pride and its life were just the possession of these mundane realities. The spirit of the Christian communion likewise saw mundane realities in every relationship of self-developing and self-revealing life. But since this spirit was the feeling of love, its greatest enemy as objectivity, and the result was that it remains as poor as the Jewish spirit, though it disdained the riches for the sake of which the Jewish spirit served.*

Over against the negative side of the fate of the Christian communion (i.e., over against that opposition to the world which converts the modifications of life into determinacies, and relations therewith into crimes) there stands the positive side, the bond of love. By love’s extension over a whole community its character changes; it ceases to be a living union of individualities and instead its enjoyment is restricted to the consciousness of their mutual love. Exemption from fate through flight into an empty life was made easier for the members of the community because they constituted a community which kept itself aloof from and opposed to all forms of life or else determined their character solely by the universal spirit of love, i.e., it did not live in those forms.

This love is a divine spirit, but it still falls short of religion. To become religion, it must manifest itself in an objective form. A feeling, something subjective, it must be fused with the universal, with something represented in idea, and thereby acquire the form of a being to whom prayer is both possible and due. The need to unite subject with object, to unite feeling, and feeling’s demand for objects, with the intellect, to unite them in something beautiful, in a god, by means of fancy, is the supreme need of the human spirit and the urge to religion. This urge of the Christian community its belief in God could not satisfy because in their God there could have been no more than their common feeling. In the God of the world, all beings are united; in him there are no members, as members, of a community. The harmony of such members is not the harmony of the whole; otherwise they would not form a particular community, would not be linked together by love. The Godhead of the world is not the manifestation of their love, of their divinity.

Jesus’ need for religion was satisfied in the God of the whole, since his sight of God was his flight from the world, was each of his constant collisions with the world. He needed only the opposite of the world, an opposite in whom his opposition [to the world] was itself grounded. He was his father, was one with him. In his community, on the other hand, the constant collision with the world had more or less vanished; the community lived without an active struggle against the world and was to that extent fortunate in not being continually roused by the world and so in not being compelled simply to flee to the opposite of the world, to God. Instead, it found in its fellowship, in its love, a satisfaction, something real, a sort of living relationship; only, since every relation stands over against something related, feeling still has reality or, to use a subjective expression, the faculty for understanding realities, i.e., the intellect, as its opposite over against itself, and therefore its defectiveness must be made up in something which unites both the opposites. The community has the need of a God who is the God of the community, in whom there is manifested just that exclusive love which is the community’s character and the tie between one member and another; and this must be manifested in God not as as symbol or an allegory, not as a personification of a subjective entity (for in such a personification the worshiper would become conscious of the cleavage between the subjective entity and its objective manifestation), but as something which is at one and the same time feeling, i.e., in the heart, and object; feeling here means a spirit which pervades everything and remains a single essence even if every individual is conscious of his feeling as his own individual feeling.

A loving circle, a circle of hearts that have surrendered their rights against one another over anything their own, that are united solely by a common faith and hope, and whose pleasure and joy is simply the pure single-heartedness of love, is a Kingdom of God on a small scale. But its love is not religion, since the oneness or the love of the members does not at the same time involve the objectification of their oneness. Love unites them, but the lovers do not know of this union; when they know anything, they know it as something severed. If the divine is to appear, the invisible spirit must be united with something visible so that the whole may be unified, so that knowing and feeling, harmony and the harmonious, may be one, so that there may be a complete synthesis, a perfected harmony. Otherwise there remains in relation to the whole of man’s divisible nature a third too slight for the infinity of the world, too great for its objectivity, and it cannot be satisfied. There remains the quenchless unsatisfied third after God.

After Jesus died, his disciples were like sheep without a shepherd. A friend of theirs was dead, but they had hoped that he would be he who was to free Israel (Luke xxiv. 21), and this hope was all over with his death. He had taken everything into the grave with him; his spirit had not remained hidden in them.[4] Their religion, their faith in pure life, had hung on the individual Jesus. He was their living bond; in him the divine had taken shape and been revealed. In him Good too had appeared to them. His individuality united for them in a living being the indeterminate and the determinate elements in the [entire] harmony.[5] With his death they were thrown back on the separation of visible and invisible, reality and spirit. To be sure, remembrance of this divine being would still be left to them, even though he was now far removed from them. The power which his dying exerted over them would have been broken in time; in their eyes their dead friend would not have remained just dead. Grief for the decaying body would have gradually yielded to the intuition of his divinity. The incorruptible spirit and the image of purer manhood would have risen for them out of his grave. But alongside reverence for this spirit, alongside the enjoyment of intuiting this image, there would still have remained the memory of the image’s life; this sublime spirit would always have had its antithesis in its vanished existence. The presence of this spirit to fancy would always have been linked with a longing which would have denoted only the need for religion; the group would still have found no God of its own.

The image fell short of beauty and divinity because it lacked life. What was wanting in the divinity present in the loving community, what was wanting in the community’s life, was an image and a shape. But in the risen Jesus, lifted up heavenward, the image found life again, and love found the objectification of its oneness. In this remarriage of spirit and body the opposition between the living and the dead Jesus has vanished, and the two are united in a God. Love’s longing has found itself as a living being and can now enjoy itself, and worship of this being is now the religion of the group. The need for religion finds it satisfaction in the risen Jesus, in love thus given shape.

To consider the resurrection of Jesus as an event is to adopt the outlook of the historian, and this has nothing to do with religion. Belief or disbelief in the resurrection as a mere fact deprived of its religious interest is a matter for the intellect whose occupation (the fixation of objectivity) is just the death of religion, and to have recourse to the intellect means to abstract from religion. But, of course, the intellect seems to have a right to discuss the matter, since the objective aspect of God is not simply love given shape; it also subsists on its own account, and, as a reality, claims a place in the world of realities. For this reason it is hard to cling to the religious aspect of the risen Jesus, to cling to configurated love in its beauty. Since it is only through an apotheosis that he became God, his divinity is a deification of a man present also as a reality. As a human individual he lived, died on the cross, and was buried. This blemish – humanity – is something quite different from the configuration proper to God. The objective aspect of God, his configuration, is objective only in so far as it is simply the presentation of the love uniting the group, simply the pure counterpart of that love, and it contains nothing not already in love itself (though here it appears as love’s counterpart), contains nothing which is not at the same time feeling.

But thus the image of the risen one, the image of the unification which has now become a living being, comes to have appended to it something different, something completely objective and individualized, which is to be coupled with love but which is to remain firmly fixed for the intellect as something individualized, as an object which is the intellect’s counterpart, which therefore is a mundane reality hanging on the deified one like lead on the feet and drawing him down to earth. The God [of the Christian group] was thus supposed to hover midway between heaven’s infinity, where there are no barriers, and earth, this collection of plain restrictions. The soul [of the group] cannot renounce the conception of natures of two different kinds. Just as Hercules soared aloft to become a hero only through the funeral pyre, so too the deified one was glorified only through a grave. But in the case of Hercules, it was simply to courage configurated, simply to the hero who had become god and now neither fought nor served any more, that altars were dedicated and prayers offered. The case of Jesus is different, because it is not the risen one alone who is the cure of sinners and the ecstasy of their faith; prayers are also offered to the man who taught, who walked on earth and hung on the cross. It is over this tremendous combination that, for so many centuries, millions of God-seeking souls have fought and tormented themselves.

The form of a servant, the humiliation in itself, as the veil of divine nature, would present no obstacle to the urge for religion if only the real human form had been satisfied to be a mere veil and to pass away. But this real human form is supposed to remain fixed and permanent in God, belonging to his essence, and it is to the individual that prayer is to be offered. The veil stripped off in the grave, the realm human form, has risen again out of the grave and attached itself to the one who is risen as God. This sad need which the Christian group felt for a mundane reality is deeply connected with its spirit and its spirit’s fate. The love of its members, which made every form of life into consciousness of an object and therefore despised all such forms, did recognize itself as given shape in the risen one; but in their eyes he was not love pure and simple. Since their love, cut off from the world, did not manifest itself either in the development of life or in its beautiful ties and the formation of natural relationships, since their love was to remain love and not become life, they had to have some criterion for the recognition of love before their mutual faith in love could become possible. Love itself did not create a thoroughgoing union between them, and therefore they needed another bond which would link the group together and in which also the group would find the certainty of the love of all. The group thus had to recognize itself [not merely in love pure and simple but] in a factual reality. Now this reality was the similarity of faith, the similarity of having adopted a doctrine, having had a common master and teacher. This is a remarkable aspect of the spirit of the group, that in its eyes the divine, its unifying principle, has the form of something given. To the spirit, to life, nothing is given. What it has acquired, that it has itself become; its acquisition has so far passed over into it that it is now a modification of itself, is its life. But in the lifelessness of the group’s love the spirit of its love remained to athirst, felt itself so empty, that it could not fully recognize in itself, living in itself, its corresponding spirit; on the contrary, to this spirit it remained a stranger. To be connected with an alien spirit, felt as alien, is to be conscious of dependence on it. Since the love of the group had overreached itself by being spread over a whole assembly of people and therefore was now filled with an ideal content but was deficient in life, the bare ideal of love was something “positive” for it; it recognized it as set over against itself and itself as dependent on it. In its spirit lay the consciousness of discipleship and of a lord and master. Its spirit was not complete manifested in love configurated. That side of it which was reception, learning, inferiority to the master, found its manifestation in love’s configuration only when there was linked with that configuration a reality which stood over against the group. This higher entity set over against the group is not the sublimity which its God necessarily has because, so far from the individual’s recognizing himself as equal with Him, in Him the whole spirit of all those who are united is contained. On the contrary, it is something positive, an object which has in it as much foreignness, as much dominion, as there is dependence in the spirit of the group. In this community of dependence, the community of having a common founder, and in this intermixture of historical fact with its life, the group recognized its real bond and that assurance of unification which could not be sensed in a love that was unliving.

This is the point at which the group is caught in the toils of fate, even though, on the strength of the love which maintained itself in its purity outside every tie with the world, it seemed to have evaded fate altogether. Its fate, however, was centered in the fact that the love which shunned all ties was extended over a group; and this fate was all the more developed the more the group expanded and, owing to this expansion, continually coincided more and more with the world’s fate both by unconsciously adopted many of that fate’s aspects and also by continually becoming sullied itself in the course of its struggle against that fate.

The nondivine object, for which worship is also demanded, never becomes divine whatever radiance may shine around it.

It is true that even the man Jesus is surrounded by heavenly phenomena. In his birth, higher beings are concerned. He himself was once transfigured into a shining figure of light. But even these heavenly forms are purely external to the real man, and the beings who surround the individual, and whose divinity is greater than his, serve only to make the contrast strike the eye more forcibly. Still less than such a passing halo can the deeds regarded as divine and issuing from himself lift him into the higher shape [of a heavenly being]. The miracles, which do not simply hover about him but proceed from his inner power, appear to be an attribute worthy of a God, a characteristic of a God; in them the divine seems most intimately linked with objective fact, and thus the harsh opposition and the mere tie between opposites seems here to have fallen away; these wonderful deeds are accomplished by the man; he and the divine seem inseparable. But the closer the tie (which yet remains a tie and does not become a unification), the more harshly are we struck by the unnaturalness of a tie between the opposites.

In the miracle as an action, the intellect is given a connection of cause and effect, and it recognizes here the domain of its concepts. Yet at the same time this domain id destroyed because the cause is supposed to be not something as specific as the effect but something infinite. For the intellect the connection of cause and effect is a connection between two things equally determinate, their opposition consisting purely in the fact that the one is active, the other passive; in a miraculous action, however, something infinite with infinite causality is supposed at the same time to have an extremely restricted effect. What is unnatural is not the annulling of the intellect’s sphere but its being posited and annulled simultaneously. Now just as the positing of an infinite cause contradicts the positing of a finite effect, so the infinite [spirit] annuls the determinate effect. Seen from the intellect’s standpoint, the infinite [cause] is only a negative, the indeterminate to which something determinate is linked. But if we look on the infinite as a Being, then we are dealing with spiritual causality, and the specific determinacy of the effect wrought by a spirit is only its negative aspect. Only from another’s standpoint of comparison can the spirit’s action seem determinate; in itself, pursuant to its being, it is the annulling of a determinacy and is inherently infinite.

When a God effects something, it is a working of spirit on spirit. Causality presupposes an object on which the effect is wrought, but the effect wrought by spirit is the annulling of the object. The outgoing of the divine is only a development, so that, in annulling what stands over against it, it manifests itself in a union with that opposite. In miracles, however, the spirit seems to be working on bodies. The cause would not be a configurated spirit whose figure, treated solely in its opposition to spirit, i.e., as a body, could enter the connection of cause and effect along with some other body similar to it and opposable to it, because then this connection would be an association of spirit (which is only spirit in so far as it has nothing in common with body) with body (which is body because there is nothing in common between it and spirit); but spirit and body have nothing in common; they are absolute opposites. Their union, in which their opposition cases, is a life, i.e., spirit configurated; and when this spirit works as something divine and undivided, its deed is a marriage with a related being, a divine one, and an engendering, developing, of a new being which is the manifestation of their union. But if spirit works in a different shape, as an opposite, as something hostile and domineering, it has forgotten its divinity. Miracles therefore are the manifestation of the most undivine, because they are the most unnatural of phenomena. They contain the harshest opposition between spirit and body, two downright opposites here conjoined without any mitigation of their prodigiously harsh contradiction. Divine action is the restoration and manifestation of oneness; miracle is the supreme disseverance.

Thus any expectation that he actual body associated with the Jesus who had been glorified and deified would be raised to divinity on the strength of miraculous deeds wrought by him in the flesh is so entirely unfulfilled that it rather intensifies all the more the harshness of thus attaching an actual body to him. Nevertheless, this harshness is all the greater for us than for the members of the first Christian community, the more intellectual we are in comparison with them. They were breathed upon by the oriental spirit; the separation of spirit and body was less complete for them; they regarded fewer things as objects and so handed fewer things over to intellectual treatment. Where we have intellectual cognition of a determinate fact or a historical objectivity, they often see spirit; where we place only spirit unalloyed, there they look on spirit as embodied. An instance of the latter type of outlook is their way of taking what we call immortality, and in particular the immortality of the soul. To them it appears as a resurrection of the body. Both outlooks are extremes, and the Greek spirit lies between them. Our extreme is the outlook of reason which sets a soul – something negative in the sight of every intellect – over against the intellect’s object, the dead body. The early Christian extreme is the outlook, so to say, of a positive capacity of reason to posit the body as living while at the same time it has taken it for dead. Between these extremes is the Greek view that body and soul persist together in one living shape. For both extremes death is a separation of body and soul; in the one case the body of the soul exists no longer, in the other the body is a persistent, though here too it is without life. While we set to work solely in with the intellect and see in another person just a factual entity, or, what amounts to the same thing, a spirit in some way alien to ourselves, the early Christians mingle their spirit with his.

In the Jewish writings we see past events, individual situations, and a human spirit that has passed away; in their acts of worship we see the doing of what has been commanded, and the spirit, purpose, and rationale of what is done exist for us no longer and no longer have any truth. For the Jews all this still had truth and spirit, but only their truth and their spirit; they did not let it become objective. The spirit they ascribe to passages in the Prophets and other Jewish books consists neither (so far as the Prophets are concerned) in discovering the Prophets’ intention to foretell real events nor (so far as the readers are concerned) in applying the prophecies to reality. There is an uncertain formless hovering between reality and spirit. On the one hand, in considering reality, only the spirit is considered; on the other, reality as such is present there, but not fixed. To give an example, John (xii. 14 ff.) connects the fact that Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on an ass with an utterance of the prophet whose inspiration saw a similar procession, and John allows this prophecy to finds its truth in the Gospel procession. The proofs that similar passages in the Jewish books are something cited wrongly, against the sense of the original words, and sometimes explained in defiance of the sense they bear in their context, that they sometime refer to quite different events, to men and circumstances contemporary with the Prophets, while at other times they are just isolated prophetic inspirations – all these proofs are relevant only to the bare fact of the connection which the Apostles make between them and incidents in the life of Jesus. They do not touch the truth and spirit of that connection; and the truth of that connection is no more visible if the prophecies are taken in a strict and objective sense and it is supposed that the actual words and visions of the Prophets are an earlier expression of subsequent facts. The spirit of the connection which Christ’s friends find in the relation between the prophetic visions and the stories of Jesus would be interpreted too weakly if the connection were supposed to consist solely in the comparison of similar situations, a comparison like that which we often make when to the description of a situation we subjoin tags from ancient writers. In the example cited above, John expressly says that the friends of Jesus did not realize these connections until after Jesus was glorified, until after they had received the Spirit. Had John seen in this connection nothing but a happy accident, a mere resemblance of different things, there would have been no need for this remark. But the Prophet’s vision and the circumstances of Jesus’ action are one in spirit; and since the connection is a connection in spirit only, the objective view of it as the coincidence [between the prophecy and] an event and an individual disappears. This spirit, which is so far from crystallizing the actual or making it indeterminate and which sees in it something spiritual and not something individualized, is specially obvious again in John (xi. 50-51 [: “This he spake not of himself, but being High Priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation"]), where, in connection with the saying of Caiaphas (that it were better for one man to die for the people than that the whole people should come into jeopardy) and its application, John reminds us that Caiaphas said not this for himself as an individual but as High Priest and in prophetic inspiration (έπροϕήτευσευ). In what we might perhaps regard as an instrument of divine providence, John sees something filled with the spirit, because the outlook of Jesus and his friends was of such a type that it could not be more opposed to anything than to that point of view which takes everything for a machine, a tool, or an instrument; their outlook was rather a supreme faith in spirit. Where we descry a unity in the conjuncture of actions which taken individually and by themselves lack this unity (i.e., the intention behind the entire effect), and were we regard these actions, e.g., Caiaphas’, as subjected to the intention, as unconsciously guided and dominated by it in their relation to the unity, and thus treat them as mere events and instrumentalites, John sees the unity of the spirit and, in Caiaphas’ action, the agency of the spirit of the entire effect. He speaks of Caiaphas as himself filled by that spirit in which lay the necessity of Jesus’ fate.

Thus, seen with the soul of the Apostles, the miracles lose the harshness which the opposition in them between spirit and body has for us. The reason for this is that it is obvious that the Apostles lack the European intellectualism which extracts all spirit from the contents of consciousness and crystallizes the latter into absolute objectivities, into realities downright opposed to spirit. Their cognition is more like a vague hovering between reality and spirit; both of these were separated, but not so irrevocably, and yet they did not coalesce into a pure nature but already themselves afforded the clear opposition which, with further development, was bound to become a pairing of living and dead, divine and actual. By conjoining the man Jesus with the glorified and deified Jesus, this vagueness pointed to a satisfaction of the deepest urge for religion, but it did not provide this satisfaction, and the urge was thus turned into an endless, unquenchable, and unappeased longing. The longing remains unsatisfied because even in its highest dreams, even in the transports of the more finely organized love-breathing souls, it is always confronted by the individual, by something objective and exclusively personal. In all the depths of their beautiful feelings those who felt this longing pined for union with him, though this union, because he is an individual, is eternally impossible. The individual always confronts them; he remains eternally in their consciousness and never allows religion to become a perfected life.

In all the forms of the Christian religion which have been developed in the advancing fate of the ages, there lies this fundamental characteristic of opposition in the divine which is supposed to be present in consciousness only, never in life. This is true of the ecstatic unifications of the dreamer who renounces all multiplicity of life, even multiplicity of the purest type in which the spirit enjoys itself, and who is conscious of God alone and so could shake off the opposition between his own personality [and God] only in death. It is equally true later when the church enjoys the actuality of the most multiplex consciousness and unites itself with the fate of the world and when God then becomes opposed to that fate. This is either the felt opposition in all actions and expressions of life which purchase their righteousness with the sense of the servitude and the nullity of their opposition, as happens in the Catholic church, or the opposition of God [to the fate of the world] in mere more or less pious thoughts, as in the Protestant church; either the opposition between a hating God and life, which thus is taken as a disgrace and a crime, as in some Protestant sects, or the opposition between a benevolent God and life with its joys, which thus are merely something received, are his favors and gifts, are mere facts, and then, too, the form of spirit hovering over them in the idea of a divine man, the prophets, etc., is degraded to a historical and objective attitude of mind. Between these extremes of the multiple or diminished consciousness of friendship, hate, or indifference to the world, between these extremes which occur within the opposition between God and the world, between the divine and life, the Christian church has oscillated to and fro, but it is contrary to its essential character to find peace in a nonpersonal living beauty. And it is its fate that church and state, worship and life, piety and virtue, spiritual and worldly action, can never dissolve into one.


1. i.e., his hearers lacked his purity and singleness of heart and therefore did not understand his message fully. This was true even of those who knew him best.]

2. i.e., not citizens participating in it. See Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, the note to § 270 about Quakers, etc., in the modern state.]

3. i.e., all individuals. The Jewish spirit animated them all and became in them a law regulating the whole of their lives except their bare existence; i.e., even their private life was life in a state, since Jewish law penetrated into the details of private affairs and fixed by legal ordinances family and other relationships which should have been left to natural affection.]

* The dreaming which despises life may very readily pass over into fanaticism, since, in order to maintain itself in its relationlessness, it must destroy that by which it is destroyed, that (be it even purity itself) which for it is impure; it must do injury to the content of its foe, a content often consisting of the most beautiful ties. Dreamers in later ages have turned the disdain with which they treated all forms of life on the ground of their impurity into an unconditional, empty, formlessness, and declared war on every natural impulse, simply because it seeks an external form; the more terrible was the effect of this attempted suicide, this clutching at empty unity, the more firmly riveted on their hearts were the chains of multiplicity, for since their consciousness was only a consciousness of restricted forms, nothing was left to them save a flight into the void via atrocities and devastations. But when the fate of the world became too powerful and maintained itself near and in the church, which is incompatible with it, the thought of flight was no longer possible. Great hypocrites against nature therefore endeavored to discover and maintain a contranatural link between the multiplicity of the world and the lifeless unity, between (a) all restricted legal ties and virtues and (b) the single spirit. They devised for every civil action or for every expression of desire and passion a hiding place in the unity in order by this fraud to retain possession and enjoyment of every restriction and yet at one and the same time to renounce it. Since Jesus disdained life with the Jews and yet at the same time did battle with his ideal against the realities of their life, the consequence was inevitable: to those realities he was bound to succumb. He did not shrink from this development of his fate, though to be sure he did not go in search of it. To every dreamer who dreams for himself alone, death is welcome: but the man who dreams for the fulfillment of a great plan can feel nothing but grief in leaving the stage on which his plan was to have been worked out. Jesus died in the confidence that his plan would not miscarry.

This paragraph, which comes from an earlier draft, Nohl inserts into the main text at this point, but its insertion there breaks the argument, and it has seemed better to relegate it to a footnote here. With the paragraph which follows, Nohl begins a new section, but Hegel did not, and the translator has not doen so either.]

4. Hegel here added and later deleted the following: “Two days after his death Jesus rose from the dead; faith returned into their hearts; soon the Holy Ghost came to them; and the Resurrection became the basis of their faith and their salvation. Since the effect of this Resurrection was so great, since this event became the center of their faith, the need for it must have lain very deep in their hearts."]

5. i.e., Jesus united for them in his own personality the infinite (the indeterminate) and the finite (the determinate), the divine and the human.]