A Panegyric on the Human Race: Or, Proof that the New Testament is no longer true
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by , translated by Lee Milton Hollander
|As translated in 1923; while later revisions had their copyrights renewed, this version was allowed to expire.|
In the New Testament the Savior of the World, our Lord Jesus Christ, represents the matter in this way: "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
¾now, however, just to confine ourselves to Denmark, the way is as broad as a road can possibly be; in fact, the broadest in Denmark, for it is the road we all travel. At the same time it is in all respects a comfortable way, and the gate as wide as it is possible for a gate to be; for certainly a gate cannot be wider than to let all men pass through en masse: therefore, the New Testament is no longer true.
All credit is due to the human race! For thou, oh Savior of the World, thou didst entertain too low an estimate of the human race, so that thou didst not foresee the exalted plan which, in its perfectibility, it may reach by steadily continued endeavor!
To such an extent, then, is the New Testament no longer true: the way is the broadest possible, the gate the widest possible, and we are all Christians. In fact, I may venture still further. I am enthusiastic about it, for you see I am writing a panegyric on the human race. I venture to assert that the average Jew living among us is, to a certain degree, a Christian just as well as we others: to such an extent are we all Christians, and to such an extent is the New Testament no longer true.
And, since the point is to find out all which may be adduced to extol the human race, one ought while having a care not to mention anything which is not true one ought to watch that nothing, nothing escape one which in this connection may serve as a proof or even as a suggestion. So I venture still further without wishing to be too positive, as I lack definite information on this subject and would like, therefore, to refer the matter to specialists in this line to decide: whether there are not present among our domestic animals, or at any rate the nobler ones, such as the horse, the dog, and the cow, indications of a Christian spirit. It is not improbable. Consider what it means to live in a Christian state, among a Christian people, where everything is Christian and everybody is a Christian and where one, turn where one may, sees nothing but Christians and Christianity, truth and martyrs for the truth it is not at all unlikely that this exerts an influence on the nobler domestic animals and thereby again which is ever of the utmost importance, according to the opinion both of veterinarians and of clergymen, an influence on their progeny. We have all read of Jacob's ruse, how in order to obtain spotted lambs he put party‑colored twigs into the watering troughs, so that the ewes saw nothing but mottled things and then brought forth spotted lambs. Hence it is not improbable, although I do not wish to be positive, since I do not belong to the profession, but would rather have this passed on by a committee composed of both clergymen and veterinarians, I say, it is not improbable that the result will finally be that the domestic animals living in a Christian nation will produce a Christian progeny. The thought almost takes away my breath. To be sure, in that case the New Testament will to the greatest possible extent have ceased to be true.
Ah, Thou Savior of the World, when Thou saidst with great concern: "When the Son of man cometh, shall He find Faith on the earth? and when Thou didst bow Thy head in death, then didst Thou least of all think that Thy expectations were to be exceeded to such a degree, and that the human race would in such a pretty and touching way render the New Testament no longer true, and Thy significance almost doubtful; for such nice creatures certainly also needed a Savior!
- Matthew 7, 14.
- Luke 18, 8.
- The last line of this piece of bloody irony is not clear in the original (S. V. XIII, 128). It will make better sense if one substitutes "da" for the first "de."