Renan has not been scrupulous where he ought to have been so. There is a kind of insincerity in the book from beginning to end
|November 17, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter thirteen||
The excitement aroused upon the other side of the Rhine was scarcely less than in Paris. Within a year there appeared five different German translations, and many of the French criticisms of Renan were also translated. The German Catholic press was wildly excited; the Protestant press was more restrained, more inclined to give the author a fair hearing, and even ventured to express admiration of the historical merits of his performance. Beyschlag saw in Renan an advance upon Strauss, inasmuch as for him the life of Jesus as narrated in the Gospels, while not, indeed, in any sense supernatural, is nevertheless historical. For a certain school of theology, therefore, Renan was a deliverer from Strauss; they were especially grateful to him for his defence, sophistical though it was, of the Fourth Gospel. Weizsäcker expressed his admiration. Strauss, far from directing his “Life of Jesus for the German People,” with which he was then occupied, against the superficial and frivolous French treatment of the subject—as has sometimes been alleged—hailed Renan in his preface as a kindred spirit and ally, and “shook hands with him across the Rhine.” Luthardt, however, remained inexorable. “What is there lacking in Renan’s work?” he asks. And he replies, “It lacks conscience.”
That is a just judgment. From this lack of conscience, Renan has not been scrupulous where he ought to have been so. There is a kind of insincerity in the book from beginning to end. Renan professes to depict the Christ of the Fourth Gospel, though he does not believe in the authenticity or the miracles of that Gospel. He professes to write a scientific work, and is always thinking of the great public and how to interest it. He has thus fused together two works of disparate character. The historian finds it hard to forgive him for not going more deeply into the problem of the development in the thought of Jesus, with which he was brought face to face by the emphasis which he laid on eschatology, and for offering in place of a solution the highly-coloured phrases of the novelist.
Nevertheless, this work will always retain a certain interest, both for Frenchmen and for Germans. The German is often so completely fascinated by it as to lose his power of criticism, because he finds in it German thought in a novel and piquant form. Conversely the Frenchman discovers in it, behind the familiar form, which is here handled in such a masterly fashion, ideas belonging to a world which is foreign to him, ideas which he can never completely assimilate, but which continually attract him. In this double character of the work lies its imperishable charm. And its weakness? That it is written by one to whom the New Testament was to the last something foreign, who had not read it from his youth up in the mother-tongue, who was not accustomed to breathe freely in its simple and pure world, but must perfume it with sentimentality in order to feel himself at home in it.
 Lasserre, Das Evangelium nach Renan. Munich, 1864.
Freppel, Kritische Beleuchtung der E. Renan’schen Schrift. Translated by Kallmus, Vienna, 1864.
See also Lamy, Professor of the Theological Faculty of the Catholic University of Louvain, Renans Laeben-Jesu vor dem Richterstuhle der Kritik. (Renan’s Life of Jesus before the Judgement Seat of Criticism.) Translated by August Rohling, Priest. Münster, 1864.
 Dr. Michelis, Renans Roman vom Leben-Jesu. Eine deutsche Antwort auf eine französische Blasphemie. (Renan’s Romance on the Life of Jesus. A German answer to a French blasphemy.) Münster, 1864.
Dr. Sebastian Brunner, Der Atheist Renan und sein Evangelium. (The Atheist Renan and his Gospel.) Regensburg, 1864.
Albert Wiesinger, Aphorismen gegen Renans Leben-Jesu. Vienna, 1864.
Dr. Martin Deutlinger, Renan und das Wunder. (Renan and Miracle. A contribution to Christian Apologetic.) Munich, 1864. 159 pp.
Dr. Daniel Bonifacius Haneberg, Ernest Renans Leben-Jesu. Regensburg, 1864.
 Willibald Beyschlag, Doctor and Professor of Theology, Über das Leben-Jesu von Renan. A Lecture delivered at Halle, January 13, 1864. Berlin.
 Chr. Ernst Luthardt, Doctor and Professor of Theology, Die modernen Darstellungen des Lebens Jesu. (Modern Presentations of the Life of Jesus.) A discussion of the writings of Strauss, Renan, and Schenkel, and of the essays of Coquerel the younger, Scherer, Colani, and Keim. A Lecture. Leipzig, 1864. Of the remaining Protestant polemics we may name:—
Dr. Hermann Gerlach, Gegen Renans Leben-Jesu 1864. Berlin.
Br. Lehmann, Renan wider Renan. (Renan versus Renan.) A Lecture addressed to cultured Germans. Zwickau, 1864.
Friedrich Baumer, Schwarz, Strauss, Renan. A Lecture. Leipzig, 1864.
John Cairns, D.D. (of Berwick). Falsche Christi und der wahre Christus, oder rerteidigung der evangelischen Geschichte gegen Strauss und Renan. (False Christs and the True, a Defence of the Gospel History against Strauss and Renan.) A Lecture delivered before the Bible Society. Translated from the English. Hamburg, 1864.
Bernhard ter Haar, Doctor of Theology and Professor at Utrecht, Zehn Vorlesungen über Renans Leben-Jesu. (Ten Lectures on Renan’s Life of Jesus.) Translated by H. Doermer. Gotha, 1864.
Paulus Cassel, Professor and Licentiate in Theology, Bericht über Renans Leben-Jesu. (A Report upon Renan’s Life of Jesus.)
J. J. van Oosterzee, Doctor and Professor of Theology at Utrecht, Geschichte oder Roman? Das Leben-Jesu von Renan vorläufig beleuchtet. (History or Fiction? A Preliminary Examination of Renan’s Life of Jesus.) Hamburg, 1864.
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