Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/147

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135
JOWETT'S LIFE

surely to indicate some truth that can be indicated, if not accurately formulated. It is pathetic, and it was once very puzzling, to see how Jowett plays hide-and-seek with this ultimate difficulty. One point is clear to him: the death of Christ was 'the greatest moral act ever done in this world.' It was greater, let us say, than the death of Socrates or of any Christian martyr. If so, it was the most stimulating of examples. But to say that it was merely this is obviously to deprive it of all the old theological significance. It is to say nothing which might not be consistently admitted by Renan, or even by Voltaire, or by the most thorough-going Agnostic. Jowett can only reply by referring to a 'mystery,' though he admits that 'there may seem to be a kind of feebleness in falling back on mystery, when the traditional language of ages is so clear and explicit.' It amounts to saying, he admits, that we not only know nothing, but apparently never can know anything of the 'objective act' of reconciliation between God and man. Meanwhile the true difficulty is to see why there should be any mystery at all. The whole mystery is created by straining metaphors and 'turning rhetoric into logic.' Why not drop it?