Some time ago, I came across the following poem by Arthur Hugh Clough (1819–1861), in which Clough’s playful title draws attention to D. F. Strauss’s then recently published Das Leben Jesu, kritisch bearbeitet (Life of Jesus Critically Examined; NAEL 2:1452 n. 1).
Matthew and Mark and Luke and holy John
Evanished all and gone!
Yea, he that erst, his dusky curtains quitting,
Through Eastern pictured panes his level beams transmitting,
With gorgeous portraits blent,
On them his glories intercepted spent,
Southwestering now, through windows plainly glassed,
On the inside face his radiance keen hath cast,
And in the luster lost, invisible, and gone,
Are, say you, Matthew, Mark, and Luke and holy John?
Lost, is it? lost, to be recovered never?
The place of worship the meantime with light
Is, if less richly, more sincerely bright,
And in blue skies the Orb is manifest to sight.
This assessment generally seems quite apropos and its language quite arresting, though one might well be grateful for how more recent scholarship has arguably provided some means for brightening the “place of worship” both “[more] richly” and “more sincerely” (e.g., Bauckham; Dunn; Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God; Wright, Resurrection of the Son of God).
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