A few short years ago, I bought a 1st Edition of Albert Schweitzer’s 1910 Quest for the Historical Jesus. Here is what wiki has to say about it: In The Quest, Schweitzer reviews all prior work on the question of the “historical Jesus” starting with the late 18th century. He points out how Jesus’ image has changed with the times and with the personal proclivities of the various authors. He concludes with his own synopsis and interpretation of what had been learned over the course of the previous century. He takes the position that the life and thinking of Jesus must be interpreted in the light of Jesus’ own convictions, which he characterizes as those of “late Jewish eschatology“, and that Jesus defies any attempt at understanding him by making parallels to the ways of thinking or feeling of modern men. In Schweitzer’s view, Jesus genuinely believed that his ministry would bring about the end of history and did not see any prolonged period elapsing between his time on earth and God’s final judgment.
If Schweitzer is correct, why are Christians anticipating Jesus’ return in the near future ? This was always a problem for me when I was a believer.
wiki goes on to say: Schweitzer concludes that critical 1st century theology has been ignored by the faithful. Almost all early followers are known to have been illiterate. Only those few literate leaders, then in power, could be aware of the critical unfulfilled First Century promise indivisible from the original theology of Jesus. Schweitzer observes that the early church leaders introduced a modified theology, once the prompt return of Jesus failed to occur. Obviously, the early leaders would surely lose power, and their employment, if they failed to modify the original theology.
There are many scholars today who share Schweitzer’s sentiments. There have even been well known Christians who have made similar claims including CS Lewis in his The World’s Last Night: “Say what you like,” we shall be told, “the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.”
It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible.
I would venture to say this is never discussed among Christians today and you will never here about this from the Pulpit. If this subject was open for discussion , how would Christians react ?