The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of Its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede

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Johns Hopkins University Press, Apr 7, 1998 - Religion - 413 pages
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In the last decades of the eighteenth century, old arguments about what constituted true Christianity resumed with the newly refined tools and methods of linguistics, history, and comparative literature. The most sensitive questions sought to probe through the centuries and discover the original Jesus. Why, scholars asked, is the New Testament silent about most of Jesus's life? Why didn't Paul say more about the life of Jesus? To what extent was Jesus Jewish? How significant were the differences among the Gospels? What evidence could be trusted and what views justified? As scholars sought to discover and describe what they thought the "true" Jesus might be, they proved that Jesus could be many things.

In this broad survey of the efforts to establish, amend, or deny the historical Jesus, Albert Schweitzer presents the history of a debate about what mattered most to millions of people: If God had entered human history, what could history tell about it? Throughout the course of this heated and prolonged dispute, one retelling of the life of Jesus followed another, enjoying—in Schweitzer's phrase—"the immortality of revised editions."

Lesser writers might consider differences of opinion as signs of a hopeless enterprise, but Schweitzer instead finds immense value in the differences. Approaches and conclusions may differ, he concludes, but the quest for the historical Jesus has provided ample testimony to the importance of the effort and the rewards of the experience.

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Review: The Quest of the Historical Jesus

User Review  - Zacharygs - Goodreads

Really just about as good as had been told. Some of the endless accounting for previous scholarship was a little boring, but his conclusions and interactions with them are often witty and intriguing ... Read full review

Review: The Quest of the Historical Jesus

User Review  - G0thamite - Goodreads

Great review of the "historical Jesus studies movement" from the Enlightenment till Schweitzer's time. A must read for anyone interested in how the major figures of this movement interpreted the text - their presuppositions and conclusions. Goes into great detail on the main interpreters. Read full review

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About the author (1998)

Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. While still a young man he demonstrated extraordinary abilities in a wide range of pursuits, including science, theology, and music. In 1908 he published his magisterial study of the life and works of Johann Sebastian Bach. He studied medicine from 1905 to 1913 at the University of Strasbourg, then founded a hospital in French Equatorial Africa, where he spent most of the remainder of his life. Schweitzer used his Nobel Prize stipend to expand the hospital and to build a leper colony. His book The Primeval Forest is also available from Johns Hopkins.

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