As for Jesus, He had His hour of gloom to fight through in Gethsemane.
|November 17, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter thirteen||
By the end of this period He had cast off all earthly ambitions. Nothing of earth existed for Him any more. A strange longing for persecution and martyrdom had taken possession of Him. It was not, however, the resolve to offer an atonement for the sins of His people which familiarised Him with the thought of death; it was forced upon Him by the knowledge that He had entered upon a path in which it was impossible for Him to sustain His role for more than a few months, or perhaps even weeks. So He sets out for Jerusalem, outwardly a hero, inwardly half in despair because He has turned aside from His true path. The gentle, faithful, long-eyelashed mule bears Him, amid the acclamations of the multitude, through the gate of the capital.
The third act begins: the stage is dark and becomes constantly darker, until at last, through the darkness of the scene, there is faintly visible only the figure of a woman-of her who in her deep grief beside the grave was by her vision to call to life again Him whom she loved. There was darkness, too, in the souls of the disciples, and in that of the Master. The bitter jealousy between Judas and John made one of them a traitor. As for Jesus, He had His hour of gloom to fight through in Gethsemane. For a moment His human nature awakened in Him; all that He thought He had slain and put behind Him for ever rose up and confronted Him as He knelt there upon the ground. “Did He remember the clear brooks of Galilee at which He might have slaked His thirst-the vine and the fig-tree beneath which He might have rested-the maidens who would perhaps have been willing to love Him? Did He regret His too exalted nature? Did He, a martyr to His own greatness, weep that He had not remained the simple carpenter of Nazareth? We do not know!”
He is dead. Renan, as though he stood in Pere Lachaise, commissioned to pronounce the final allocution over a member of the Academy, apostrophises Him thus: “Rest now, amid Thy glory, noble pioneer. Thou conqueror of death, take the sceptre of Thy Kingdom, into which so many centuries of Thy worshippers shall follow Thee, by the highway which thou hast opened up.”
The bell rings; the curtain begins to fall; the swing-seats tilt. The epilogue is scarcely heard: “Jesus will never have a rival. His religion will again and again renew itself; His story will call forth endless tears; His sufferings will soften the hearts of the best; every successive century will proclaim that among the sons of men there hath not arisen a greater than Jesus.”
The book passed through eight editions in three months. The writings of those who opposed it had an equal vogue. That of Freppel had reached its twelfth edition in 1864. Their name was legion. Whatever wore a soutane and could wield a pen charged against Renan, the bishops leading the van. The tone of these attacks was not always very elevated, nor their logic very profound. In most cases the writers were only concerned to defend the Deity of Christ, and the miracles, and are satisfied that they have done so when they have pointed out some of the glaring inconsistencies in Renan’s work. Here and there, however among these refutations we catch the tone of a loftier ethical spirit which has recognised the fundamental weakness of the work, the lack of any definite ethical principles in the writer’s outlook upon life. There were some indeed who were not content with a refutation; they would gladly have seen active measures taken against Renan. One of his most embittered adversaries, Amadee Nicolas, reckons up in an appendix to his work the maximum penalties authorised by the existing enactments against free-thought, and would welcome the application of the law of the 25th of March 1822, according to which five years’ imprisonment could be imposed for the crime of “insulting or making ridiculous a religion recognised by the state.”
 Charles Émile Freppel (AbbÉ), Professeur d’éloquence sacrée à la Sorbonne. Examen critique de la vie de Jesus de M. Renan. Paris, 1864. 148 pp.
Henri Lasserre’s pamphlet, L’Evangile selon Renan (The Gospel according to Renan), reached its four-and-twentieth edition in the course of the same year.
 Lettre pastorale de Monseigneur I’Archevêque de Paris (Georges Darboy) sur w divinité de Jésus-Christ, et mandement pour le carême de 1864.
 See, for example, Félix Antoine Philibert Dupanloup, Bishop of Orléans, Avertissement à la jeunesse et aux pres de famille sur les attaques dirigées centre religion par quelques écrivains de nos jours. (Warning to the Young, and to Fathers of Families, concerning some Attacks directed against Religion by some Writers of our Time.) Paris, 1864. 141 pp.
 Amadée Nicolas, Renan et sa vie de Jésus sous les rapports moral, légal, et littéraire. Appel à la raison et la conscience du monde civilisé. Paris-Marseille, 1864.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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