ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
Wellhausen of Tübingen University in Germany, a number of devout Protestant scholars applied the newly developed techniques of literary criticism to the Bible and discovered that it was composed of identifiable documents which had been pieced together by redactors or editors. While this in itself did not disprove the revealed character of the Scriptures, it did strongly suggest the all too human origins of these texts. The issues here have never been resolved, and today most seminarians preparing for the ministry, priesthood, or rabbinate study the Bible taking full account of the documentary method without experiencing loss of faith. Wellhausen did so, and so have most of the scholars of the school of Higher Criticism. It does, however, require a leap of faith, and there were some who refuised to make it. Instead, there was much preoccupation during the nineteenth century with the “historical Jesus,” for instance, the view that Jesus was entirely human and not incarnate deity. It was perfectly possible to follow the Unitarian lead and acknowledge the spiritual and moral leadership of Jesus without professing belief in his divinity. However, this very belief soon led Unitarians out of Christianity and into a kind of humanistic eclecticism. Other liberal Protestants, Catholics, and Jews embraced what was called modernism or liberalism during the late nineteenth century. While most of them retained as much as they could of traditional Christianity, the balance was a very uneasy one and not satisfying.
During the early twentieth century, two other alternatives appeared, fundamentalism and neo orthodoxy. The first was a repudiation of science by biblical literalists who insisted on the absolute authority of the Scriptures exactly as written. The second was the repudiation of liberalism and the return to Reformation theology without, however, insisting on either the rejection of science or biblical literalism. Fundamentalism attracted few educated people, but did become very popular in the American South and Middle West, which remain its stronghold today. Neo Orthodoxy, which is very challenging intellectually speaking, has attracted a small number of well-read and thoughtful people such as the novelist John Updike, but has had very little general appeal.
The Eastern Religions
During both the nineteenth and twentieth century, the discovery of world religions opened up another alternative. Because of both Jewish and Christian intolerance, very little was known by Europeans and Americans about religions other than Christianity until the middle years of the nineteenth century. At that time, a few scholars, such as Max Müller, studied the sacred scriptures of India in the original Sanskrit and Pali. Müller, who was a German scholar at Oxford University, pioneered the study of world religions and was one of the founders of the discipline which we now call either Religion or Religious Studies. The mere fact that it is often called Religionswissenchaft, the German for the latter term, indicates its German origins. The pioneer scholars were philologists, that is to say pioneers in the field of language study which is now called linguistics. Müller not only discovered the relationships among the Indo-European languages but also made the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, and the Buddhist Tripitaka available to Western readers. Until recent years, his multi-volume The Sacred Books of the