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Chapter I. Preliminary
Chapter II. Nazareth
Chapter III. Historical Environment
Chapter IV. Original and Derived Elements
Chapter V. Legends of Jesus' Childhood
Chapter VI. Portraits of Jesus
Chapter VII. The Call of John
Chapter VIII. Duration and Scene of the Work
Chapter IX. Preachings and Work
Chapter X. The Disciples
Chapter XI. The Essence of Jesus' Preaching
Chapter XII. Jesus' Attitude Towards the Jewish Nation
Chapter XIII. The Journey to the Capitol
Chapter XIV. The Decisive Struggle
Chapter XV. Presentments of Death
Chapter XVI. Light in the Night
Chapter VII. The Trial of Jesus
Chapter VIII. Resurrection of Faith
Chapter XIX. Summary


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Did Jesus ever exist?—Imaginative constructions and the figure of Jesus—Non-Christian sources—Testimony of Paul—The Gospels—Foundations for a life of Jesus

We are told that Napoleon, on one occasion in talk with Wieland, declared that in his view Jesus Christ was a wholly imaginary person. And, however surprising it may be to many, it is a fact that ever since Napoleon's time there has been a succession of writers in Germany, Holland, England, and America, who have denied all historicity to Jesus of Nazareth, and have regarded Him simply as an ideal embodiment or the religion of Christianity which only gradually, and quite erroneously, came to be taken for a real person who had once actually lived. The origin of Christianity itself has by such writers usually been traced, with more or less display of learning, to advanced Jewish thought, or to the philosophy, humanism, or socialism of Roman imperial times.

1 This has been done quite recently by Pastor Kalthoff of Bremen. His attempt to explain Christianity, though ingenious, is too much in the style of the modern social journalist. There is really nothing new in his arguments, and it may be hoped that, like many of his predecessors, he will see fit to revise his conclusions.

In presence of such readings of history, whatever their learning, or, it may be, their arbitrariness, there is no need for agitation on our part as if we were witnessing some act of sacrilege. Our only true course will be to call in the aid of the most strenuous science we can command, with the strict impartiality and clearness of insight that are proper to it, and having heard what it has to say on the facts of the case, here also even where the most momentous question in all history is at issue, simply endeavour to render its answer as carefully as we can in the ordinary language of educated people. It will then once more, as so often before, be made plain that piety is endangered only when the well of knowledge has been but tasted, and that deeper draughts are all that is needed to avert the peril.

1. Science asks, first of all, whether at any time in all history a character so clearly outlined, so vivid, so uniquely original as that of Jesus of Nazareth has ever been merely invented. Even the heroes of legend have their historical prototypes, and those characters which are, so to speak, mere products of the laboratory, and owe their origin to what is really nothing but myth with nothing actual to rest upon, are and must ever remain fleshless and bloodless shadows. If we are to prove that the Master really existed as a historical person, we must indeed do our utmost to restore His portrait to its original aspect, remembering how very much and in how many ways it has been touched up by worshippers. We must have some figure that cannot be resolved into a pious aspiration, and this can only be one that is thoroughly human and psychologically and historically intelligible. Should we succeed in recovering such a portrait, or rather, to speak with befitting modesty, such a sketch of the life or character of Jesus, we shall unquestionably by this positive achievement have met in the most effective manner all negations of the kind we have indicated. For criticism at its best is well-weighed affirmation, and it is an unalterable law that what is true to Nature ever finds a faithful echo in the human heart. But it is not enough to have these general considerations with us, if when we proceed to our sketch of the figure of Jesus we do not strip ourselves alike of all vain and blinding self-confidence and of all egoism and self-will. Even though we are dealing with the greatest religious genius, the evidence of His existence and nature must be drawn from the best accredited sources.

2. Have we any testimony to the historicity of Jesus which is not derived from and not influenced by Christianity? This is the second question which impartial Science puts to us. In reply, we are bound to admit frankly that here we are but poorly, very poorly off...

Product Details

BN ID: 2940011868108
Publisher: Leila's Books
Publication date: 11/16/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 531 KB

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