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cleus of a Church that he boldly announces, on his return into Galilee, the “good tidings of the kingdom of God.” That kingdom was at hand, and he, Jesus, was that “Son of man” whom the prophet Daniel had perceived in his vision as the divine executor of the final and supreme revelation.
We must remember that, in the ideas of the Jews, antipathetic to art and mythology, the simple form of man was superior to that of the cherubs, and the fantastic animals, which the imagination of the people, since it had been subjected to the influence of Assyria, supposed to be ranged around the divine Majesty. Already in Ezekiel, the being seated upon the supreme throne, far above the monsters of the mysterious chariot, the great revelator of the prophetic visions has the likeness of a man. In the Book of Daniel, in the midst of the vision of empires represented by animals, just as the sitting of the great judgment commences and the books are opened, a being “like the son of man” advances towards the Ancient of days, who confers on him the power to judge the world, and to govern it forever. Son of man is in the Semitic languages, especially in the Aramæan dialects, simply a synonym of man. But this great passage of Daniel struck the imagination; the word son of man became, at least in certain schools, one of the titles of the Messiah portrayed as the judge of the world and as king of the new era which was about to open. The application which Jesus made of it to himself was therefore the proclamation of his Messiahship and the declaration of the speedy catastrophe in which he was to appear as judge, clothed with the full powers which had been delegated to him by the Ancient of days.
The success of the preaching of the new prophet was now decided. A group of men and women, all characterized by a common spirit of youthful candor and artless innocence, adhered to him and said: “Thou art the Messiah.” As the Messiah must be the son of David, they naturally gave him that title, which was a synonym of the first. Jesus permitted it to be given him with pleasure, although it caused him some embarrassment, his birth being well known. For his own part, the title which he preferred was that of “Son of man,” a title apparently humble, but one which attached itself directly to the expectations of a Messiah. It is by this expression that he designates himself, so much so that in his mouth “the Son of man ” was synonymous with the pronoun “1,” which he
avoided using. But he is never thus addressed, doubtless because the name in question could be fully accorded to him only at the period of his second coming.
The centre of activity of Jesus, at this epoch of his life, was the little city of Capernaum, situated upon the border of the Lake of Genesareth. The name of Capernaum, into the composition of which enters the word caphar, “ village," seems to designate a small straggling town of the ancient style, in opposition to the great cities built according to the Roman fashion, like Tiberias. This name was so little known that Josephus, in one passage of his writings, took it for the name of a fountain, the fountain being more celebrated than the village which was situated near it. Like Nazareth, Capernaum had no history, and had in nowise participated in the unhallowed progress favored by the Herods. Jesus attached himself very closely to this town and made it a second home. Soon after his return, he had made an effort at Nazareth which was unsuccessful. He could there do no mighty work, according to the naïve remark of one of his biographers. The acquaintance of the Nazarenes with his family, which was of little note, was too injurious to his authority. They could not regard as the son of David one whose brother, sister and brother-in-law they saw every day. It is remarkable, moreover, that his family made strenuous opposition to him, and flatly refused to believe in his mission. The citizens, far more violent, desired, it is said, to kill him by casting him headlong from a steep cliff. Jesus aptly remarked that this experience was the common lot of all great men, and applied to himself the proverb: “No man is a prophet in his own country.”
This failure was far from discouraging him. He returned to Capernaum, where he organized a series of visits to the little villages around. The people of that beautiful and fertile country were scarcely ever united except on Saturday. He chose this day for his teachings. Each village had then its synagogue or place of meeting. This was a rectangular hall, rather small, with a portico decorated with the Grecian orders. The Jews, having no distinctive architecture, had never attempted to give to their edifices an original style. The ruins of many ancient synagogues still exist in Galilee. They are all constructed of large and good materials; but their style is very mean on account of that profusion of vegetable ornaments, of foliage and of twists, which characterizes Jewish monuments.
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In the interior, there were benches, a chair for the public reading, a closet to keep the sacred scrolls. These edifices, which had nothing in common with the temple, were the centre of all the Jewish life. The people assembled there on the Sabbath day for prayer and the reading of the Law and the Prophets. As Judaism, out of Jerusalem, had no clergy proper, any person arose, read the lessons of the day (parascha and haphtara), and added to this a midrasch or commentary, entirely personal, in which he set forth his peculiar ideas. This was the origin of the “homily," of which we find the complete model in the small treatises of Philo. Any one had the right to make objections and to question the reader; so the congregation soon degenerated into a sort of free assembly. It had a president, "elders,” a hazzan, appointed reader or beadle, “envoys," a species of secretaries or messengers who carried on the correspondence between one synagogue and another, and a schammasch or sacristan. The synagogues were thus in fact little independent republics; they had an extended jurisdiction. Like all municipal corporations up to an advanced period of the Roman Empire, they made honorary decrees, adopted resolutions having the force of law over the community, pronounced sentence for penal offences, the executor of which was ordinarily the hazzan.
With the extreme activity of mind which always characterized the Jews, such an institution, notwithstanding the arbitrary severities which it permitted, could not fail to occasion very animated discussions. Thanks to the synagogues, Juda-. ism has been able to preserve itself intact through eighteen centuries of persecution. They were so many little worlds apart, in which the national spirit was preserved, and which offered to intestine struggle a field ready prepared. There was expended an enormous amount of passion. Disputes of precedence were intense among them. To have a seat of honor in the first row was the recompense of a lofty piety, or the privilege of the rich which was most envied. On the other hand, the liberty, accorded to whomsoever chose to take it, of constituting himself the reader and commentator of the sacred text, gave wonderful facilities for the propagation of new ideas. This was one of the great opportunities of Jesus and the means which he employed most habitually to establish his doctrinal teaching. He entered the synagogue, and rose to read; the hazzan handed him the book, he unrolled it, and reading the